previous
next

Quintus Servinton Volume Two




  ― 135 ―

Chapter I

Tranio.—“I pray Sir, tell me—is it possible
That love should of a sudden take such hold?”

Lucentio.—“Oh! Tranio—till I found it to be true
I never thought it possible or likely.”

TAMING OF THE SHREW

Pursuing his way at a steady pace, Quintus arrived at Bradford early in the afternoon, and explaining to the Clevelys, the circumstances that now called him to town, renewed his engagement of a visit to Dorsetshire, in the hunting-season, and then proceeded to Lestowe, in sufficient time to meet the coach at the village inn about six in the evening; when securing its vacant sixteenth inside place, he reached London about thirty hours afterwards. Scarcely allowing himself time for changing his travelling dress, so tenacious was he of his punctuality, he was at the counting-house rather before the usual hours of business, ready, as he told the managing partner, to receive whatever orders awaited him. Mr. F. Rothero seemed surprised, and observed, “You are much earlier than we expected you; when did you leave Devonshire?” and in reply to the answer he received, further said that he need not have so hurried, as the fleet had not yet passed the Downs—recommending him to retire for the day, and obtain some rest, adding, “It will be time enough for you to attend here, when either of our ships reach Gravesend.” Quintus thanked him and withdrew; but the next morning failed not to resume his regular duties.

Among his family connexions in London, was a maternal uncle, Mr. Delvers, a Lombard-street banker, but who resided in Bedford-square. Quintus had not conceived much good will towards his aunt or cousins; the former, partaking rather more of the bas bleu than he thought agreeable; and the latter, being in his opinion, somewhat affected and overbearing. It was seldom therefore, that he visited them; but, upon his return from the country, he determined one evening, to call and take tea there. His reception was much as usual; a good deal of the fine lady shown off by his cousins, cold and formal, on the part of his aunt, but friendly and hospitable on that of his uncle. It was not long ere he discovered that, his entrance had interrupted, but not closed, a matrimonial discussion. “ 'Tis perfectly ridiculous Mr. Delvers, to think of calling upon them,” presently observed his aunt; “here's a large family of our own, and I


  ― 136 ―
understand an equally numerous one of these Cliftons; and we shall next have nothing but love in a cottage.”

“And a very good thing, too, my dear; I often think when I hear of it, I wish I had it; and others might take much of what I could give in return. I still say the Cliftons are very genteel, good sort of people, and as they are become our next door neighbours, we ought to call upon them.”

“I am determined I will do no such thing, Mr. Delvers—Miss Clifton I am told, is a very pretty girl, but where's her fortune to come from I wonder? You know yourself, for you said so the other day, that their income is greatly reduced.”

“Their misfortune, not their fault, my dear; and the more reason why we should be civil to them. Mr. Clifton is a strictly honourable man, is a gentleman, and a man of education. Mrs. Clifton is a sensible and accomplished lady; and, if riches be a test of worth, she had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds from her father. I decidedly wish you to call upon them.”

“And I decidedly repeat that I will not; nor, with my consent, shall the young people become acquainted—it's perfectly absurd to throw them in one another's way, just to create a parcel of romantic attachments. Mind if you please, all of you,” addressing the assembled group, “that I particularly beg you will avoid all acquaintance with the Cliftons, and, Mr. Delvers,” giving her husband a very significant glance at the same moment, “I expect that you will not be trumping up a how dy'e do acquaintance with Mr. Clifton, for I am determined I'll not allow it.”

The result of this discussion, at once implanted within Quintus, a species of perverseness, prompting him to conceive a strong inclination to judge for himself, as to the pretensions of these, his uncle's new neighbours. Even the unwilling testimony of his aunt, allowed them many estimable qualities, although in her worldly ideas, they lost much of their value, because the income of the party was less abundant than formerly; forgetting that, even the residence they had chosen, implied their means to be still far from inconsiderable. He resolved therefore, upon the spur of the moment, that he would endeavour to obtain an introduction to them, and ascertain how far the trumpet of fame had done justice to the sterling worth of the parents, to the beauty of the daughters, or to the many amiable qualities of their brother. Having adopted this intention, he afterwards kept his mind steadily directed towards its accomplishment; and laying himself out for probable opportunities, joined all parties to which he was invited in the neighbourhood of the square, always hoping to hear the name of Clifton, among the guests.




  ― 137 ―

Notwithstanding that while he had been in daily, or indeed almost hourly intercourse with Fanny Villars, her charms or attractions had made that sort of impression which is natural upon a young and ardent heart, it had not been of the nature capable of undergoing Dr. Simpson's touchstone, as to attachments. Absence had already nearly healed the slight hurt he had received, and being now fully occupied with business, as the West India trade was in the height of its periodical bustle, he had scarcely time for many Devonshire recollections; or if any now and then did cross him, they were more associated with the idea of the agreeable nature of female society generally, than with any particular feeling towards Fanny. If any thing therefore, she had rather prepared his susceptible heart for some other lasting impression, than created one for herself, as even at the most familiar and unreserved moments of their acquaintance, there was always a certain something about her not quite to his taste, and which operated as a safeguard, against his being carried too far.

Such being the state of his heart, it chanced one morning, about six weeks after his return from Devonshire, that he made rather a late call upon a family of the name of Rivers, with whom he was acquainted, and who lived in the neighbourhood of St. James's Park. “You never could have called at a better time,” said Mrs. Rivers, “you must stay and dine with us, and make one of a party to Vauxhall this evening; we sadly want a beau or two.” He thanked her, but endeavoured to excuse himself upon the ground of a prior engagement; but in reality, from a distaste for such amusements.

“We'll not take no for an answer. In my younger days, gentlemen were too polite and well bred ever to have a will of their own, but now a-days you young men think of nothing but yourselves. We have several young ladies coming, and now you are here I shall certainly press you into their service.”

“I assure you I require very little pressing, where young ladies are concerned; but if it were else in my power, you surely would not think of asking me to go to Vauxhall in this dress.”

“Why not? young men should either be ornamental or useful; there's no occasion always to be both. You are never otherwise than well enough dressed to be useful, and this you must be to day; we'll give you an opportunity of being ornamental some other time. We shall be a large party—there are the Smiths, and the Lascelles, and the Coles, and the Cliftons, altogether with ourselves, we shall make eighteen—just three sixes, and there'll be a proper chaperone for each.”

“Are those the Cliftons of Bedford-square?”

“Yes; the eldest son and Miss Clifton are coming; she is a particular friend of Harriet's. Do you know them?”




  ― 138 ―

“No, I never saw any of the family; but they live next door to my uncle Delvers, and I heard them mentioned the other day.”

“Well, you will see them by and by, if you will stay; they are two very interesting young people. Miss Clifton is much admired, and we like them exceedingly.”

“Really your temptations are altogether so strong, that I believe I have nothing to do but let my other engagement take its chance, hang up my hat in your hall, and make myself as useful as I can; but 'tis scarcely fair to allow me to appear before young ladies such a figure.”

“Oh! never mind that; I'll make whatever apology for you is necessary; but with how much better grace this would have come before I mentioned Miss Clifton's name?—presently I shall begin to suspect something.”

“Upon my honor I have never once seen any of the family; they are entire strangers to me, and I am sorry you should think any inducement, beyond the mere pleasure of accepting your invitation, should have weight with me.”

“Well, well, we won't quarrel about straws; I am contented so that I have gained my point, and you only have to recollect, that use, and not ornament, is to be your character in the dramatis personæ of the day. Oh! I do so enjoy young men's vanity.”

Quintus did not reply, fearing to exhibit too plainly the real motive of his tardy acquiescence to Mrs. Rivers's invitation; for he could with difficulty conceal the exhilerating effect upon his spirits, of the mere sound of the Cliftons' name. He now began to be tormented with apprehension, lest any unexpected event should arise to prevent the much desired introduction, at length apparently within his grasp; and when he joined the dinner-table, he thought the servants unusually slow in removing the dishes, and afterwards, the time unconscionably long before the gentlemen were summoned to the drawing-room, preparatory to setting out for the gardens.

What could be the talismanic influence so operating upon him, at the mere mention of a name, from the very moment it first reached his ears? He oft asked himself this question, but as often failed to obtain a satisfactory reply. He had not seen Miss Clifton, but yet felt drawn towards her, in an indescribable manner. Was it a spirit of opposition to an aunt whom he disliked? or was it a certain self-pride, in choosing to adopt a course forbidden to others, just to show his independence of opinion, and his impatience of control?—or was it a desire to evince a superiority over his cousins, who had been prohibited forming an acquaintance with a family, upon no sufficient grounds?—or, perhaps, did fate thus intimate her having provided him a guardian angel, to be his support and


  ― 139 ―
comforter through the ills foretold as likely to attend his future life? Be either of these as it may, when he entered the drawing-room, where the rest of the company were assembled, his eyes hastily ranged around the pretty faces of which the group was composed; and presently fixed on one, fairest and prettiest of them all.

Sweetness, truth, and every grace
Which time and youth are wont to teach,
The eye might in a moment reach,
And read distinctly in her face.

This must be Miss Clifton whispered his heart, and he approached her, waiting to seize the first favourable opportunity of an introduction. She did not appear more than seventeen or eighteen; was of middle stature, rather an elegant and genteel, than a showy figure, her features regular and handsome, with dark eyes and beautiful brown hair, having a slight tinge of auburn. Close to her, stood a very gentlemanly young man, apparently her senior by a year or two; and the likeness between them made it immediately discernible that they were brother and sister. Quintus's eyes were rivetted upon this couple, whilst he stood congratulating himself upon the attainment so far of his wishes, nor was it long until Dame Fortune again stood his friend, and obtained him the anxiously sought introduction.

Mrs. Rivers was a dear lover of amusements in which young people were concerned, but rather precise in all matters of etiquette. She was now busily occupied in seeing that all was as it should be, and in the course of her movements round the room for this purpose, approached the spot where Quintus and the Cliftons were standing. “Emily, my love, do you know Mr. Quintus Servinton?” Quintus instantly half bowed, ready to seize the opportunity with eagerness, when Mrs. Rivers continued, “I thought you might perhaps have known one another; Mr. Quintus Servinton—Mr. William Clifton —Miss Clifton?” Nothing further was now necessary; he instantly addressed both brother and sister on general subjects, continuing with them until the party set off for the gardens, when offering his arm to Emily, he had the pleasure to find himself honored by being her escort, and which he resolved he would continue the whole evening.

Highly as he was elated at this unlooked for attainment of an object of fond desire, and still more at finding all his agreeable anticipations with respect to Miss Clifton even more than confirmed, he was not so little acquainted with the deportment likely to be agreeable to a young, well educated female, as to exceed marked and polite, but still formal attentions. If indeed, he had been otherwise disposed, he would have found little encouragement, as Emily, although so young, maintained that sort of demeanour,


  ― 140 ―
which allows a man the opportunity of being easy and agreeable, without permitting him the least freedom. As he drew her into conversation, all his first impressions became confirmed and strengthened, and long before the evening was half over, he felt that all his beau-ideal conceptions of the true nature of female charms were now realised, and centred in one being. Every thing too around him, served to heighten the delight with which his heart was full—the beautiful gardens, with their many and diversified attractions—the merry, smiling groups with which they were thronged—the total absence of all care or trouble from his breast—these, when added to the society of such a young woman as her whom he now attended, made the moments fly with wonderful rapidity, and the hour for returning home arrived, before he could scarcely persuade himself that the blissful interview was any thing like so near its termination. He now began to form plans and contrivances for maintaining an acquaintance so happily commenced; and he immediately saw that her brother must be his mark, for as young men can receive and pay mutual civilities which custom forbids others, he might thus hope to grow to terms of intimacy with the other members of the family. With this view, he endeavoured to ingratiate himself with the brother as well as sister, and soon managed to gather sufficient information, to be at no loss as to both time and place for meeting him in his daily occupations, which he found were those of student to an eminent barrister.

When he afterwards ruminated upon the events of the day—considered the state of his feelings upon the new acquaintance he had formed, and enquired of his heart why it was that he was still so desirous of cultivating it, the answer was, that here was a young lady more nearly approaching his ideal standard of perfection, than any he had yet seen; but he had the prudence not to forget that his own situation was still dependant—that his prospects were uncertain—and that it was necessary therefore, to be extremely cautious how he proceeded. “But,” thought he, “should Emily Clifton prove hereafter what the first impression leads me to expect, she—and she only—must and ever will remain mistress of my affections.”

Perhaps the ardent temperament that nature had bestowed upon Quintus, was in some respects advantageous to him. He had set his mind upon accomplished and elegant female society, as the highest bliss of life. Aware that to enjoy this with its true relish, he must himself be qualified in certain essentials, his own general improvement had been one of his prevailing rules of action; and knowing also, that upon himself—upon his unaided and individual exertions in business, more than upon any thing else—must depend the attainment of his fancied goal of happiness, he had always applied


  ― 141 ―
most assiduously to the duties of his employments, ever determined that in whatever line others had succeeded, he would not be discouraged from trying to excel them. When he first saw Emily Clifton, he had suffered sufficiently from his sensitiveness with other young ladies, to be able to look a little before he leaped; and, after again and again reflecting—although it must be admitted, in a most partial manner—upon her sweet smile, her handsome features, her correct deportment, elegant manners and evident attainments, he was still sufficiently master of himself to resolve, that the course equally due to her as proper for himself would be, to proceed slowly with,—or rather not to commence, a suit he would willingly have done at once, until circumstances were more favourable than at present to his worldly prospects.

Considering his youth and Emily's attractions, it is creditable to him that he had sufficient strength of mind to carry into execution this prudent resolve. He found little difficulty in so encouraging a growing friendship with William Clifton, as shortly to be introduced to his parents, and this step once gained, he became a guest at little occasional parties in Bedford Square, and otherwise established for himself sociable terms with all the family; but if he had imposed upon himself a no very easy task, in keeping his attentions to Emily from being too pointed, when he only knew her slightly, this self-restraint was much increased as his opportunities of estimating her good qualities, were thus more extended.

Mr. Delvers had only rendered justice to Mr. Clifton, in describing him as a gentleman of good education; but this, valuable as it is, was in the present instance enhanced by an amiableness of character, an affectionate regard for his family, a remarkable mildness of temper, and an uniform suavity of manners, which endeared him to all who knew him. Mrs. Clifton had been a celebrated beauty, and the co-heiress of a large fortune, and was still a remarkably fine woman. She was endowed with a most superior mind, possessed elegant manners, and was deservedly and generally beloved. Unaffected piety had enabled her to bear, almost without repining, the loss of a considerable part of her noble dowry; and the instruction of her children, not only in the embellishments of life, but in solid, useful acquirements, combined with the management of her household, so as to connect prudence with the command of every comfort, and many luxuries, were now her distinguishing characteristics. The remaining parts of this estimable family, besides the eldest son and Emily, were some daughters who bade fair to reward the care of their parents equally with their eldest sister, and a handsome, promising boy, then a mere child.

The thorough harmony that reigned throughout Mr. Clifton's


  ― 142 ―
dwelling, so far augmented the strength of Quintus's first feelings towards Emily, and he continually saw so many new traits of her amiable disposition, that he redoubled his exertions to make himself useful to Messrs. Rothero, hoping thus to attract notice, which might lead to some opening for bettering his fortune. He had continued from the first, to preserve his firm footing in their confidence and good opinion, as well as intimacy; and he had also maintained his ground with the several respectable families whom he visited; but go where he would, or see whom he would, Emily Clifton appeared in his estimation, superior to any other young lady.

Winter had now set in, and the time approached for his promised visit to Dorsetshire. Agreeable as were his present occupations, and pleasurable his constant engagements when the few hours daily devoted to business were over, still he had no desire to forfeit what he expected was in store for him at Beauford; and having obtained a fortnight's leave of absence, he prepared for his journey by writing to his friends accordingly. Loth to leave town without seeing Emily, he called in Bedford-square, and mentioned his intended absence. “How very unfortunate,” said Mrs. Clifton, “we were just going to send you a card, which my sister Berkeley has enclosed under cover to William, inviting you to a dance at her house to-morrow week. Cannot you put off your Dorsetshire trip?” Here was a temptation for a young man, three parts, if not wholly in love; he had never had the happiness of being Emily's partner at a dance, perhaps of all occasions the most blissful to an incipient lover, and he was sadly perplexed what answer to give. A prior engagement of long standing, his letter to Mrs. Burton, and many arrangements for rural festivity, known to be depending upon his visit, were on the one hand, opposed on the other by the idea of meeting Emily, in the jocund hall of dance and song. No wonder that he looked confused and absent, deferring for a moment or two his reply; but at length he decided that, painful as the sacrifice would be, Emily must yield to Lestowe.

Perhaps it was the vanity, inherent in young men that whispered the idea to his mind, but he fancied, as he replied, “Strong as the temptation is, it is impossible to accept Mrs. Berkley's invitation,” that Emily's face exhibited a transient expression, a little partaking of disappointment; but it scarcely lasted long enough to decipher it accurately, as it gave way to the smile that accompanied her observation, “I dare say if the truth be known, you have some powerful attractions in Dorsetshire.”

“Quite the contrary, I assure you, Miss Clifton; my attraction would lead me to Mrs. Berkeley's, as I hope I might then have had the honor of dancing with you. The engagement in the country is of


  ― 143 ―
old standing, and is to visit some very kind friends; but all my hoped-for pleasures consist in the company of two clergymen and their wives, a good horse, plenty of wine, a pack of hounds, and a hearty welcome.”

“And when do you go?”

“To-morrow morning.”

“Well, we wish you a very pleasant excursion, but William will be quite sorry you cannot be persuaded to stay for aunt Berkley's dance.”

“I hope your brother will believe me when I say, that were I at liberty to choose, I should greatly prefer being of your partner, but I have no alternative. When I return, I shall have the pleasure of calling, and I hope to be told, that you have had an agreeable evening.” He shortly took leave, and the next morning by an early conveyance, started for Dorsetshire.

His reception from the Burtons was, as before, most friendly. In the course of his journey, his feelings towards Emily, occasioned him some little anxiety, as to how he should behave towards Miss Villars, should she be still at Lestowe. He could not but acknowledge, to himself, that his attentions to her at Sidmouth, had been somewhat pointed, although he meant nothing by them; but, to whatever familiarity he had been led, so long as he had no other preference, Emily was now sufficiently mistress of his heart, to render even the terms, on which he had stood with Miss Villars when he last saw her, painfully irksome. He hoped she might not be at Lestowe; as he would thus be saved a dilemma, as a remedy for which, he could not frame to himself any line of conduct, he could wholly approve; and when he entered the rectory, and traversed its small hall or vestibule, on his way to the parlour, he instinctively as it were, cast his eyes around, to see if the garden bonnet, or clogs, once interesting objects to him, were in their old places, as this might have helped to determine the anxious question. Happily, these dreaded indications of Fanny's residence there, were missing; and so far relieved, he approached the room with confidence, which was still farther strengthened when he entered, and found only Mr. and Mrs. Burton.

After a few usual salutations, Mrs. Burton said, “You do not enquire for Fanny. She has been spending a few days at Beauford, where great preparations are being made for a grand ball and supper, to which you are invited, as a matter of course.”

“I have scarcely had time to let my enquiries comprehend all the subjects of interest to such old friends as yourselves,” he replied, “but I hope all at Beauford are well, of course not forgetting Miss Villars.”

“Dear me!” said Mrs. Burton, “Fanny ought to feel flattered by


  ― 144 ―
your manner of enquiry for her. What's the matter now? Why, I expected you would have been off before this time, upon the very mention of where she was to be found. Come now, confess, are you not in love with her?”

“Not the least in the world, I positively assure you.”

“Can you look in my face, and say so seriously?”

“I know no reason why I should not, Miss Villars will never be regarded by me in any other light than as your friend, nor shall I behave towards her, contrary to your strict injunctions. You surely remember the many lectures you read me about her last summer, don't you?”

“Well, Quintus Servinton, you puzzle me a great deal. I cannot think how any young man can avoid losing his heart to Fanny; but I positively almost begin to believe you. Perhaps however, your heart is not at your own disposal.”

“Yes it is, entirely so—though I should not place so much confidence in you as I ought, if I did not add, that if I were in a condition to choose a wife, I have seen a lady whom I should prefer to Miss Villars, ten times over.”

“And what may be the name of this fair lady, who has had the good fortune to captivate Mr. Quintus Servinton?”

“Excuse me there, I am not captivated, I only speak of a lady, in comparison with Miss Villars; but I have never said a civil thing to her in my life, nor do I wish to be put upon the shelf, just on the eve of Mrs. Clevely's grand ball. Why, who knows? perhaps I may see some young lady there, before whose charms those of any other I have yet seen, may be thrown immensurably into the shade! and what chance, pray, should I have were I to own myself already a captive? No, no, you must excuse me there.” But as he thus spoke the image of Emily stood in his mind's eye, as if to reproach him for the untruth he had uttered, and his thoughts reverted to London, dwelling, as they almost constantly did, upon her many and varied attractions. He was rather glad however he had said thus much to Mrs. Burton, rightly enough judging, that it would be repeated in her own way to Fanny, and that it would thus help to relieve him from some of his present embarrassment; but he fully determined that if his attentions at Sidmouth might have been capable of misinterpretation, it should not again be the case, but that they should be perfectly unequivocal, and bearing no other meaning, than mere common civility.

An opportunity for carrying into effect his proposed behaviour, was speedily presented, by the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Clevely, accompanied by Fanny, at the rectory to dinner. He appeared a most welcome addition to the whole party, being greeted with much


  ― 145 ―
characteristic kindness by the Reverend fox-hunter, and assured by his lady of the pleasure they had anticipated from his visit. To Fanny he held out his hand as usual, but his chilling manner of touching her two forefingers, as an accompaniment to a stiff, formal bow, the very opposite of his hearty shake by the hand and friendly address, in acknowledging Mrs. Clevely's warm reception, must have entirely confirmed Mrs. Burton in the truth of his assurance, that he did not so much admire her favourite, as she had probably all along really intended.

Presently Mr. Clevely said, “Well, Quintus, are your boots and spurs and leather breeches in order? White-Stockings is ready for you, and in fine condition. And I say Burton, how does your riding gear stand affected? The hounds will be at East Cliff tomorrow at ten, and both the horses shall meet you at cover; you must manage to get there as you can, for you know it will be out of the way to take in Lestowe.”

“I had almost forgotten the engagement,” Mr. Burton replied. “I presume I am to ride that beautiful bay.”

“Yes, yes—and we shall see to-morrow which of you has most judgment. A bottle of number nine to finish the day with, eh, my boy?”

“A capital finish, too, Sir,” replied Quintus, “particularly after the provoke of eight or ten hours riding.”

“You will sleep at Beauford to-morrow,” said Mrs. Clevely; “perhaps in the evening, if you are not too tired, we may trespass upon you for an hour or two, to instruct some of our young neighbours in the art of turning out their toes, keeping their knees straight, and holding up their heads in the newest fashion: many of them are sadly awkward, and, like volunteers preparing for a field-day, we have nightly rehearsals for their benefit, to enable them to pass muster on the twentieth.”

“Zounds and the devil, Sally!” exclaimed her husband; “do you think I shall let him leave number nine for a parcel of awkward loons?—a fox-hunter turn dancing-master? No, no, we ar'nt come to that neither.”

“I daresay I may be able to comply with Mrs. Clevely's request, as well as pay proper devoirs to number nine,” said Quintus; “but I fear my pretensions in the ball room will stand me in very little stead, for I am a poor dancer, and it is only the pleasure of talking between whiles to some nice partner or other, or sometimes the impossibility of standing out, without a breach of good manners, that would ever make me exhibit.”

“We shall not give you a great deal of trouble; it is chiefly information respecting new figures, that we may have occasion to request


  ― 146 ―
of you,” gravely observed Miss Villars. “Perhaps you may assist us a little in that way.”

“In that or any other within my means, with pleasure; and if Miss Villars will do me the honor to spare half an hour of her valuable time, either this evening or to-morrow morning before we ride to cover, I will endeavour to acquaint her with all that I know myself, although that all, is really very little; but I hope my reward may be, that I may claim her hand for the two first dances on the twentieth.”

There was a measured formality, a stiffness in his manner, as he thus expressed himself, not apparently very agreeable to Fanny, who could not but observe its difference from former days, and it led her to assume, during the remainder of the evening, a degree of hauteur and reserve, very unlike the last time they had met at Sidmouth, but by no means unacceptable to Quintus, as it helped to put an end to a footing of intimacy, which, with his views and feeling towards Emily Clifton, was by no means what he liked or approved.

Early the next morning, Mr. Burton and Quintus rode a few miles to Eastcliffe, to join the hounds, their two hunters having been led thither, in waiting for them. When Quintus mounted White-Stockings, for so the chestnut was named, his sluggish style of moving, and total indifference when touched by the spur, gave his rider cause to mistrust his supposed knowledge in horse-flesh, although many of his points were such as he had always been led to estimate highly; whilst on the other hand, the light and airy paces of Mr. Burton's bay, who was caracoling and prancing like one of Astley's well-trained animals, appearing full of life and fire, scarcely permitted him to receive in good part his friend's jeers, when every now and then he cantered by him, exclaiming “Well done, White-Stockings, see how he drives all before him;” but no sooner did the first hound give tongue, no sooner did the huntsman's bugle sound the note of summons to the dogs to attend to their leader, or no sooner had the cry, “a fox! a fox!” reached his ear from some of the riders, than White-Stockings gave Quintus clearly to understand that his turn was now come; in one instant he pricked up his ears, formed a handsome crest, contracted himself upon his haunches, and half rearing, half plunging, as it were, with glee, expressed as plainly as though he spoke, “Take care of yourself—don't trouble to try to controul me, for I now mean to be master, and to be in at the brush; I will carry you safely, only leave me to myself.” The short, sharp signal, that had been given by a hound of great experience and sagacity as he snuffed the dewy grass, then repeated, until quickly echoed and re-echoed in one deep melodious cry, in all its varied tones but still in perfect and complete harmony, now proclaimed to the joyous group, that Reynard was unearthed;


  ― 147 ―
and not permitting Quintus to choose his own place in the chace, White-Stockings very deliberately, and at his own pace, led the van, almost close upon the heels of the dogs, clearing several leaps with all the ease of a greyhound; and so soon as his rider had acquired confidence under this surprising change, and could feel somewhat more at ease, than at the first idea of being mounted on an ungovernable self-willed animal, he heartily enjoyed his day's amusement, and was eventually in at the death, with only the huntsman and one or two others.

Meanwhile, he had neither time nor inclination to look after Mr. Burton; but when the hunting was over, he found that, the beautiful bay had been blown, very early in the run; that he had been obliged to quit the field, and had reached home with the utmost difficulty. Quintus's triumph was not confined to this proof of his superior judgment over Mr. Burton, but he became so great a favourite with Mr. Clevely, that he would scarcely ever allow him to be absent from Beauford, during the fortnight he passed in Dorsetshire—spending all the forenoons in the sports of the field, and regularly discussing a bottle of number nine, as a finish to each day's entertainment. At length, the long-looked for, anxiously expected twentieth, arrived; and the next day he had fixed to return to London. He had devoted a part of several evenings in bestowing some little assistance towards the mighty preparations, in progress for the grand occasion, when one of the noblest mansions in the county was to be thrown open, in a style of splendour consistent with the great wealth of its owner; and he was in the large drawing-room, helping Miss Villars to place and decorate some of the ornaments for the evening, when she said to him, “Am I to understand, pray, that I have the honor of being engaged to you, for the two first dances?”

“I hope you have not withdrawn the promise you were so good as to make me. I have endeavoured to earn my reward, and I certainly fully depend upon it; but why should you ask me?”

“Why, to tell you the truth, you have almost made me think once or twice, that you would prefer being released from the engagement.”

“What can make you think so, Miss Villars? I am not aware of having been so unfortunate as to offend you.”

“Oh! no, you have not offended me. I rather feared I might unintentionally have given offence.”

“Nothing in the world farther. You surely remember your own lessons, and how you used to scold me for involuntary transgressions; it would be a poor compliment to my charming schoolmistress, to entail upon her the necessity of repeating them, else, believe me, I am altogether the same as when I had first the pleasure of your acquaintance; but, here comes Mrs. Clevely to see what we are


  ― 148 ―
about.” And greatly to his relief, was her arrival; for otherwise, the conversation might have become more interesting than he wished, but as his visit was to terminate so soon, he resolved, that his coldness of manners should no longer be displeasing to Fanny, nor to any of the young ladies who were to grace the ball-room; but that, he would play the agreeable without restraint.

Acting upon this, and perhaps too, his spirits being some little excited by the idea of so speedily again seeing Emily, he acquitted himself to the very utmost of his town-breeding; and whether in the dance, or at the supper-table, was one of the happiest and merriest of the blithesome throng. With Fanny, he was more free and unreserved than upon any other occasion of his visit—they opened the ball together, and he engaged her a second time for the set preceding the supper, so as chiefly to devote himself to her service. Just as all was over, and the guests were retiring to their rooms, more anxious to seek the repose and quiet, bed can alone afford, than, a few hours previously, many of them had even been to enter the ball-room, when, leaving their toilettes the gayest of the gay, they had fancied themselves armed at all points for conquest, Mrs. Burton said to Quintus—“Really you are intolerable, and puzzle me more than ever.—What is it that you positively mean with regard to Fanny?”

“To treat her, whilst here, as I hope ever to treat all, whom Mrs. Burton honors with her friendship;—to make my bow to her tomorrow;—and the next day to think of her and of all the other young ladies in the room, as if I had never seen them.”

“I am only thankful, I had nothing to do with such an abominable flirt, but you'll be caught at last.”

“And when I am, there will be no complaint made of my instability. It is really difficult to know what is precisely the correct course to please you ladies. If young men are but civil and attentive, they are set down to be in love—if they are not so, they are called useless, stupid sticks.”

“It is idle to argue with you, for I see you will have your own way.—If you continue this flirtation any longer with Fanny, I shall begin to think you use her very ill.”

“I should be really concerned, if such be your opinion; but at all events, to-morrow, I take my leave of the country, and it shall not be my fault, if I ever see Miss Villars again; for great as would be the sacrifice, I do not think I would again come into Dorsetshire, unless I knew she were not here.” The conversation was now interrupted by other persons, and was not resumed.

On the following morning, he once more met the London coach at the village inn, and proceeding by it, arrived safely in town, without any particular occurrence having befallen him by the way.




  ― 149 ―

Chapter II

“Why, man, she is mine own—
And I as rich in having such a jewel,
As twenty seas, if all their sand was pearl,
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold.”

TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

Shortly after Quintus's return to London, an overture was made him to join a person in establishing a manufactory, of the same nature as the late Mr. Thoroughgood's. It would be difficult to describe the state of his anxiety, pending the negotiations that ensued; connecting as he did, his chance of obtaining Emily, with the success or otherwise, of these plans; and no sooner were such preliminaries adjusted, as led to the probability that the new firm would commence, at the expiration of a few months, than he began to assume less restraint in his intercourse with the Cliftons, seeking every opportunity of ingratiating himself with one and all the family. William and he, had for some time been inseparables, during the leisure hours of each; and Quintus thus possessed many further opportunities of estimating the character of his sister, all tending to augment his admiration; but he had yet sufficient command of himself, not to depart from the line he had originally chalked out for his rule of conduct with regard to her, although perhaps, he was sometimes more particular in his attentions than he himself imagined. At length, all arrangements were so far perfected that, Quintus, at the age of twenty-two, found himself the partner of a man of experience in business, and of tolerable capital; and fortune, as if to play with him, soon poured into his lap, her choicest stores—a great and unexpected advance in the value of commercial property, having enriched him, by the sum of two thousand pounds, before the expiration of the first six months, after his change of circumstances.

It is not to be supposed, that during this period, Emily had not a full share of his thoughts, as well as of his personal devoirs. She was too unaffected and ingenuous, probably to have misunderstood the nature of his sentiments, although he had never explained himself by words—but the language of love can speak in a thousand ways, more grateful to the female bosom than mere expressions, and by this he had long plainly told her how much she was beloved. He now however, considered that many of the obstacles to his declaration that formerly existed, were removed, and that it was wrong, both towards herself and her friends, to suffer the nature of his sentiments longer to remain, even by possibility, open to doubt. Every time he met her, whether at a party or in her walks, or at home, she


  ― 150 ―
confirmed by her behaviour, the opinion that the interview at Mrs. Rivers's had originated. If asked to contribute to the amusement of others, by the exercise of a sweet melodious voice, which had been cultivated with great attention, and in the management of which she combined equal taste as science; or, if solicited to take part in any measure, no matter what, having for its object either the happiness or comfort of those around her, the readiness she at all times evinced to oblige, the graceful simplicity that ever distinguished all her movements, strengthened the attachment that had taken full hold of Quintus's heart, and determined him to seize the first opportunity of declaring his love, and of endeavouring to secure to himself a prize, he had been so long and so anxiously contemplating. Personal vanity was not one of his foibles, but it would have been a ridiculous blindness, if he had doubted his footing with her family; and he was willing to fancy, that his attentions did not displease herself. He therefore contemplated his proposed avowal with less fear than hope, and only awaited a favorable occasion. But for a while this was denied him by a variety of chance occurrences, serving, one after another, to produce disappointment in expected interviews; and accident at last favored him, when least anticipated.

He was one morning in the west end of the town, when meeting a lady of his acquaintance, she put into his hand a card, for a dance at a friend's house, a few evenings afterwards, adding, “I have some country relations in town, and if you will come and dine with us, we will go together. I cannot do less than provide my nieces with a beau, you know.”

Quintus accepted both invitations, little thinking what was to arise from them. On the appointed day he engaged himself, as a matter of course, before entering the room to each of the young ladies, a couple of raw country girls, whose intercourse with the world had never extended beyond the threshold of the lawyer or apothecary of their native village, who blushed and looked silly whenever spoken to, and who thought prim formality, equally the essence of polite behaviour at the table or in the drawing-room, as the measuring each step, one by one, and the going through all the positions alternately, constituted the perfection of dancing. When he entered the room, with the eldest of these rustic belles hanging on his arm, and was leading her to a place in the set then standing up, trying to beguile by badinage the interval till the music gave the signal to begin, his eyes met those of Emily, fixed alternately on himself and on the pretty stranger;—for to this appellation, she was certainly entitled. Emily was in a distant part of the room, in conversation with a young officer; and Quintus fancied that she returned his salutation more coldly and stiffly than was her custom;


  ― 151 ―
and, when she presently gave her hand in the dance to her military companion, he thought that either she was not well, or that she had a more pensive cast on her beautiful countenance than usual. Meanwhile, as he watched the ease and elegance that marked her, whilst gliding with apparent negligence, yet light and airy, keeping the most exact time with the music, and contrasted her sylph-like form with the lumpish awkwardness of his own partner, who, like an automaton on wires, figured and footed as though practising before a dancing master, he and Emily met in changing sides, and although she still looked somewhat unlike herself, he thought that she half-smiled good naturedly, as he whispered, “I hope I shall be more fortunate presently,” accompanying his words by a slight pressure of the hand, which he held for a moment, in poussetting.

When the first two dances were over, Quintus felt to his sorrow that he had yet half his task to perform, but willing to secure Emily's hand for the succeeding set, advanced towards her, for that purpose. In reply she said, “I do not think I shall dance any more this evening, but if I do, perhaps you may claim me by and by. Pray whom have you been dancing with? Are these some of your Dorsetshire friends?”

“No, they are Mrs. Smith's two nieces. She obtained me a card for this evening, and as they were staying with her, I had no alternative; but a dear purchase I am sure they would be for an evening's entertainment, if it had not led to the unexpected pleasure of seeing you. You must dance with me, out of pure compassion, if nothing else.”

“I have already refused three or four partners, as I really am not inclined to dance much this evening, and I have half-promised Captain Somerset, that if I alter my mind, I am to dance another set with him.”

“Only half-promised, you say! you surely can have no difficulty in letting the claims of an old friend, supersede a half-promise to a new one.”

“Which old friend did not even think it worth while to let us know, that we were to have the pleasure of meeting him this evening.”

“Because he did not know it himself. Nothing but chance, and my good fortune, let me call it, procured this happiness for me. Come, you must not say no to me, and as you are not inclined for much dancing, it will exactly suit, as I have something very particular I wish to tell you.”

“What is it? tell me at once.”

“No, no, two words to that;—promise that you will dance with me, and I will promise to tell you what I allude to.”




  ― 152 ―

“And not else?”

“No, not else, though I think you half know it already.”

“Well, I will promise, but now you must be off, for the music is striking up.”

“Many thanks—I shall now be able to take the remainder of my dose with composure: good bye for the present.”

Quintus found the youngest of the two ladies, if any thing, more tiresome than the other; but the idea of Emily so occupied his thoughts, and he was so pleased with the nature of the reciprocal glances now passing between them, that he cared little for the present moment, and so soon as the dance was over, hastened to resume his place by Emily.

Just as he approached her, Captain Somerset was urging in the strongest terms, the half promise she had given him, and he heard her say, “I should be very happy to dance with you again, but I have an engagement of long standing, which I must keep, as the gentleman has claimed it.”

“Whoever the fortunate person may be, I believe he must at least waive his pretensions in my favour, until the promise of the most charming young lady in the room is fulfilled. I believe that is strictly to the laws of Terpsichore.”

“If I had really promised, it might be so, but I am sure you will acquit me of that. I said, I was not certain of being disengaged, and as I find I am not, you really must excuse me.”

“Cruel as beautiful! what mortal can exist under such a doom as you have now inflicted? Allow me at all events to put in my claim for your hand after this imperative engagement is over.”

“If I dance any more this evening, I shall be very happy; but I know that aunt Berkeley has ordered her carriage early.”

“I must live in hopes, at all events.”

By this time, Quintus had advanced close to Emily, and overheard the greatest part of the conversation. Captain Somerset had no sooner made his bow, than she observed, “What a tiresome man that is;—he will scarcely take no for an answer.”

“I do not wonder at that, considering what he sought, and I think I must take a leaf out of his book.”

“You need not do that, for you see I am ready to keep my engagement—I never saw Captain Somerset until this evening; he was introduced to me by aunt Berkeley, for I scarcely knew a person in the room.”

“He seems half in love with you already—what must I be, who have known you so long? but his anxiety to improve his new acquaintance, is only a proof of his discernment.”

“Mr. Quintus Servinton! will you lead your partner to her place?”


  ― 153 ―
from the mistress of the ceremonies, put an end for the moment to this sort of conversation, but Quintus was determined the evening should not pass, without making Emily unequivocally informed of the nature of his sentiments.

“I hope you will not dance any more this evening,” he observed, as he was leading her towards a vacant seat after the dance was over.

“I do not think I shall; but although I have kept my promise, you have broken your's, for you have told me nothing.”

“Oh! Miss Clifton, it is difficult to say what I wish. I have long been seeking an opportunity of having a little conversation with you, and now it is presented to me, I am absolutely more at a loss than ever,” an interval succeeded these words during which, Quintus's confusion must have betrayed him, had he been ever so desirous of concealing the state of his heart. Emily blushed at receiving this sort of half declaration, but sought to turn the subject, by saying, “How very warm this room is! do let us go and see what my aunt is about—only look at your first partner, how very pretty she is.”

“Not half so pretty, nor a hundredth part so agreeable as my present one; but do you really wish to go to your aunt?”

“I should like to go into the card room, as this heat is quite oppressive.”

On the way between the two rooms, he in vain essayed to pour into her ear the entire nature of his sentiments—he could scarcely give utterance to a single word—Emily could not have misunderstood him, but was of too refined delicacy to lead him on by any encouragement; and after permitting herself to be detained quite as long as her sense of propriety allowed, was advancing towards the card room, when Quintus, willing to have another chance, pressed her hand, and said, “Miss Clifton! I am a sad fool—will you allow me to call upon you to-morrow morning at Mrs. Berkeley's, and escort you to Bedford-square?”

Emily replied she could make no engagement upon one part of this request, but that upon the other, he must take his chance of her aunt's morning arrangements, adding, “I will mention to her, that you intend to call.”

He continued by her side during the short interval that took place, until Mrs. Berkeley's carriage was announced, when a close was put to their embarrassing tete à tete; but previously, although he did not seem to have half said his say, he contrived so to explain himself, and to urge his suit for the morrow, that he obtained a promise, consonant to his wishes, subject only to the approval of her aunt.

Mrs. Berkley was a younger sister of Mrs. Clifton, and had been married to a post captain in the navy, who had died some years ago,


  ― 154 ―
leaving her a widow, with three infant sons. She was of peculiarly elegant manners, and her associates were entirely with the higher circles; among whom she had lately taken every opportunity of introducing her charming and accomplished niece. In common with all the other members of the Clifton family, Quintus's attentions to Emily had not escaped her notice, nor was she so little an adept in deciphering the human mind, as not to perceive on this very evening, that something peculiarly interesting, had occurred to both. “I intend myself the pleasure of making a morning call to-morrow, in York-buildings, if I may hope to be admitted,” said Quintus, as he advanced towards her, with Emily leaning on his arm. Probably Mrs. Berkeley thought that more had passed between them than was really the case, and that her sanction, as Emily's chaperone, was thus solicited. Extending her hand towards him, she replied in a very affable manner, “Always at home to Mr. Quintus Servinton; but Emily, my love, we must now wish him good night.” As he attended them to their carriage, he took the opportunity of saying, in an under tone to Emily, “To-morrow, I trust, will seal my happiness. Farewell, till then.”

Collecting his scattered forces of self-possession, the next day he was in York-buildings, as early as propriety allowed, and was greatly pleased to find Emily in her walking dress, ready to proceed homewards, and to receive Mrs. Berkeley's permission to be her attendant. The ice had been sufficiently broken the preceding evening, to make his unequivocal declaration of attachment, now a work of little difficulty; and he contrived so to linger out the time, by telling her how long and how fervently he had loved, and in extracting from her the sweet confession, that he had not altogether loved alone, that it was late ere they discovered their distance from Bedford-square, to be greater even than when they left Mrs. Berkeley's.

“Mamma will be quite uneasy, and will wonder what has become of me,” at last said Emily. “Oh! pray let us make the best of our way home immediately.”

“May I accompany you to the house, or would you prefer seeing Mrs. Clifton alone?—for my dearest Emily will of course make no secret of my happiness.”

“No; I certainly would conceal nothing from my parents; and I have even now forgotten, that I have exceeded my duty perhaps, this morning, until I had received their sanction.”

“You are not I hope, doubtful upon that subject. I confess I am not very apprehensive myself, but shall I see Mr. Clifton, or will you manage it in your own way with your mamma?”

“Let me speak to mamma, and I will tell her every thing.”




  ― 155 ―

“And how long then must I wait, before I have again the pleasure of seeing you?”

They had now entered the square, as she replied, “Do not come farther with me now; but perhaps you may hear from mamma in the evening.”

“And why not from yourself? do not let the cup of bliss be half filled.”

“Perhaps the news may not be agreeable, you know.”

“Even in that case, if you write, its severity will be mitigated by having a something that came from you; but I cannot allow myself to fear.”

“I do not fear much myself, to own the truth, and you shall have your way—I will send you a note, so soon as I have spoken to mamma.”

With such adieus as lovers only know how to bestow and reciprocate, they now parted, and Emily proceeded to her father's, watched to the very last moment by Quintus, who then repaired to a neighbouring coffee-house, whither he had desired her to send the anxiously expected communication.

Let those who have undergone a similar state of pleasing anxiety, recall to their memories the nature of their sensations, in those moments of apprehension and suspense that sometimes precede, but always at some stage or other, attend attachments, founded upon esteem, and afterwards ripened into love, and where the object combines youth, beauty, a highly-cultivated mind, and an amiable temper, such as were found in Emily. They will then perhaps, be able to comprehend what was passing in Quintus's mind, as he kept his eye closely fixed upon the door, watching every person that entered, expecting each instant to see the promised messenger. At length, just as evening was beginning to close a winter's day, a servant, whom he instantly recognised as one of Mrs. Clifton's, passed the window where he was sitting, and turning into the door-way, put into his hand the anxiously looked-for announcement of his fate. The note was made up with much precision, and bore the superscription, “Mr. Quintus Servinton,” in the remarkably pretty hand-writing, which was one of Emily's attainments; and upon opening it, were these few words.

DEAR SIR,

Mamma desires me to say, she will be happy to see you at tea this evening,

  Your's truly,

   E. C.

He read it, and re-read it, short as it was, a hundred times;—turned


  ― 156 ―
it and twisted it over and over again, and not heeding the servant, who stood as if waiting for an answer, took up his hat, and rapidly making his way through the streets, was in a very few minutes at Mr. Clifton's door.

Upon entering the parlour, both Mr. and Mrs. Clifton rose, and shook him warmly by the hand—the most expressive way possible, of conveying their approbation of his suit, without increasing the confusion under which poor Emily, who was present, was evidently suffering.—Quintus was sufficiently happy, and sufficiently well-bred, not to be singular in his attentions, but played the agreeable to his very utmost with the other parts of the family, carrying on his communication with Emily, chiefly by means of love's great coadjutor, the tacit expression of the eye. After some time thus spent, Mrs. Clifton left the room, and presently he was invited to follow her into an adjoining apartment, where she was already in waiting. Holding in her hand a small bundle of letters, she addressed him nearly so soon as he entered, “I have sent for you, wishing to have a little private conversation, upon a subject which my daughter has mentioned to me. Emily's happiness is every thing to us, and both her father and myself have that reliance upon her good principles, that we leave her choice in life, entirely to herself. The dear girl has told me, that you have professed attachment to her; and that, she thinks she could be happy with you. Take her therefore, with the blessing of both her parents; and be kind to her, for she deserves it.”

“She does indeed, deserve much more, than I fear will ever be in my power to bestow; I have loved her, from the first moment we became acquainted.”

“As you have declared yourself her admirer, I may say, without perhaps, being too much charged with a mother's partiality, that it will be long before you will discover all her good qualities.—We daily see some new trait—but it was not to praise her, that I sought this interview—my object was of quite another sort. Young as Emily is, you are not the first admirer she has had—for it is only a short time since, that another offer was made her, and it is by her particular desire, that I now place these letters in your hands, that you may clearly understand the nature of all former correspondence between herself and any other gentleman.”

This new instance of her feminine propriety, of her extreme delicacy towards the man, whom she had acknowledged to prefer to all others; this manner of removing from his mind, any future apprehension, that it was a divided heart only, she was bestowing, had their full influence in still further, if possible, increasing his attachment, but he declined reading any of the letters, telling Mrs. Clifton


  ― 157 ―
that it would be dangerous for him to entertain a more exalted opinion of Emily, than already possessed his mind; and, that he was sufficiently satisfied with the marks of preference he had received. Mrs. Clifton then saying, that she hoped he would consider himself a welcome guest at the house, whenever it was agreeable, and without waiting for an invitation, they both returned to the room where the rest of the family were assembled; and, almost before the evening had appeared to commence, the cries of the watchman warned him to take his leave.

At that period Quintus resided in an old fashioned house, adjoining the manufactory, in a remote part of the town; and his projected change of condition made it a matter of deliberation, whether or not he should continue there, or remove to some more eligible situation. He was constantly in Bedford-square, much as might be supposed of an attentive lover, who knew no happiness apart from his mistress; and in conversing one day upon their future plans and prospects, the goodness and prudence of her character were clearly illustrated.

“I can scarcely make up my mind to ask you to live in such an out of the way place as my present house, but still, for a year or two, upon many accounts it would be desirable.”

“Do you think then, that my happiness will depend upon any particular residence? No, Quintus, let us begin, so that any alterations may be for the better; and believe me, all places will be alike to me, so that——”

“I fulfil my promises of love and regard to you, I suppose that hesitation means; but you are running me so heavily in debt, that I hope you will be a merciful creditor.”

“I only mean to say, that when I agreed to unite my fate to your's, I did not place my ideas of happiness on a fine house, or on its being in a good situation, and that I beg this subject may give you no uneasiness.”

Quintus daily found, as Mrs. Clifton had told him, he had yet much to learn of her daughter's excellence. The unreserve now existing between them, served to elicit many new properties of the mind, all tending to this point. He discovered that her agreeable person, her varied accomplishments, and her amiable temper, were heightened by a deep and influential sense of religion; and that, not what was expedient, but what was right, was her rule of conduct; and every hour of his life he had reason to congratulate himself, that he had so fixed his affections.

The few months thus spent with Emily, previously to their marriage, was a period of as unalloyed happiness, as any that attended his whole course of existence. In the very morning of his days, endowed with excellent health and spirits, loving and beloved in return,


  ― 158 ―
in a quarter where the knowledge of this alone, was sufficient to gain him many friends, having just reaped a handsome return from his business, living upon the best terms with his relations, esteemed by a large circle of friends, enjoying the regard of all Emily's family, and bearing a character, untarnished even by the breath of slander, what, it might be supposed, could be required to constitute perfect felicity? One thing, and one thing only, but it was the one thing needful, the absence of which had already sown seeds of a nature to grow up hereafter into a tree of sorrow, although its eventual fruits might be, as they really proved, peace and serenity. In all his present prosperity, he was apt rather to assume merit to himself, for the successful issue of difficulties, than to receive it with lowly gratitude to an all-wise Providence.

The consequence was, that he built his house upon the sand, choosing for its corner stones self-confidence, restless ambition, and wild speculation, rather than humility and a prudent ascent of the rugged path of worldly gains, and suffering all his advantages of birth, education, talents, and connexion to be lost, or at least much obscured by the ministers whom his heart employed in carrying his plans into execution. Sanguine in the extreme, whenever his mind was fixed upon a particular object, this trait of character had been but too much roused by recent events; and, while his time was entirely divided between Emily and his business, receiving from the one, a treatment altogether suited to their relative connexion, and every thing with respect to the other, proceeding most fortunately, no wonder if this failing was gaining an ascendancy, of which he was little aware.

Many circumstances rendered it Mrs. Clifton's wish, that her daughter's marriage should not take place for a few months. The summer was therefore passed in a sweet converse of souls, between the lovers, and in the course of it, scarcely an interesting ride or walk, within a few miles of town, remained unexplored. Emily was a capital horsewoman, although rather timid; but this gave Quintus the more opportunities of showing his delicate attentions; and many and many were their delightful tete à tetes so enjoyed. But love requires something more substantial than a long continued intercourse of this nature, agreeable as it might be to one party, to receive the daily homage of a heart entirely her own, and to the other to know that his vows were returned, in an equally ardent but more refined shape, by so pure a creature as Emily; and accordingly, towards the approach of autumn, he became anxious to have a day fixed, when his happiness might be completed, by calling her, unreservedly his own. In reply to his earnest entreaties upon this subject, she replied with a sweetness all her own, “My heart,


  ― 159 ―
Quintus, you know is your's, and it is all I had to give you.—My hand, you must receive from my parents; and when they think proper to bestow it, it shall accompany my heart.” He therefore warmly preferred his suit to Mrs. Clifton, who started at first, all a mother's scruples, as to Emily's age—recommending them to wait a little, with much more of the same sort; but it was not likely she could make much way in opposing the arguments of a young man, like her intended son-in-law, who was seldom at a loss for words, when bent on carrying any particular object.

One subject however, created some discussion, and was not quite arranged, as he had wished. “Where do you propose to reside?” said Mrs. Cilfton.

“At the manufactory, for a year or two—the house is roomy, although old-fashioned—and by and by we can move nearer you.”

“Surely you would not think of taking Emily to such a place as that—it would be completely burying her alive—and it must be dreadfully unhealthy—it is much better to defer your marriage until you can live elsewhere.”

“Emily is perfectly contented with the situation, and as for talking of waiting another year or two, I assure you that is altogether out of the question.”

A long conversation ensued, but in the end Quintus gave up the point, and this settled, Mrs. Clifton named the seventeenth of the following month, October, as the day when he was to lead his fascinating and accomplished bride to the altar. When he acquainted her with the terms of the convention, as it might be termed, she replied, “Let me once more impress upon you, that it is yourself and not your house, I am going to marry, and do not take any step you cannot afford. I am sure mamma is herself too prudent, as well as kind, to require it.”

Thus early did this excellent young woman evince the correct ideas and high principles by which she was governed, and which were subsequently matured into a line of conduct, capable perhaps of being equalled, but not to be surpassed.




  ― 160 ―

Chapter III

“Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate—
All but the page prescribed, their present state.”

POPE

The important day at length arrived, that was to crown Quintus's long anticipated happiness. An union such as his with Emily, founded originally upon mutual esteem, and matured by an acquaintance of between two and three years, required not any extraneous eclat to give it interest; and as it was Emily's particular desire to make no unnecessary exhibition of her happiness, it had been settled that the guests at the wedding should not extend beyond the relations of the family, and that immediately the ceremony was over, the new married couple were to leave town for a month, to be passed in the neighbourhood of the Isle of Wight. Emily looked perfectly beautiful, as she approached the altar, leaning on her father's arm, and supported by her bridesmaid and sisters, dressed in an elegant, yet simple style, equally emblematical of her purity and virgin innocence, as expressive of her chaste and correct notions, upon such subjects as outward show and ornament. Quintus was already at the church, in waiting to receive his lovely bride, who, in the presence of her friends and of her God, plighted to him a faith, which was ever afterwards, most scrupulously, most religiously maintained.

What can be a more touchingly interesting sight, than the ratification of the voluntary, the cheerfully pledged vows of love, made by a young and elegant female, with the sanction of all her kindred, to the man of her free, and unbiassed choice? Such was witnessed, when Emily Clifton gave her hand to Quintus Servinton—and returning the caress, with which, as they left the vestry, he still farther sealed the solemn vows that had been there enrolled, she expressively said, “Treat me always as your friend, as well as your wife, Quintus, for they cannot be separated, and we shall both be happy.”

It happened singularly enough, that this day was in a measure symbolical of Quintus's life. The morning was clear and serene—as the sun advanced towards its meridian, clouds began to gather, and to obscure its brightness, continuing to lower and darken the horizon, until early in the afternoon, when they were followed by a succession of tempestuous storms, that again cleared up, as evening approached, when the moon arose in its fullness of beauty, the firmament displaying all the splendour of an autumnal night.




  ― 161 ―

A month, a happy month, was spent by the youthful couple in the charming neighbourhood of Southampton—youthful, it may be said, Quintus having just entered his twenty-fourth, and Emily her nineteenth year, when they were married. At the end of this time, they returned to town, and occupied a temporary residence, that had been engaged for them by Mrs. Clifton, not far from Bedford-square. This was Quintus's first wrong step; as it led him into society, which it would have been more prudent to have deferred, for a year or two; and diverted both his, and Emily's mind, from many resolves and plans, they had previously formed. From a feeling of respect to himself, as well as the Cliftons, many calls were made upon his bride, so soon as it was known that she received company; and they were perfectly astonished at the daily appearance of their mantle-piece, covered as it was, with complimentary cards, that had been left in the course of the morning. Thus Quintus, proud of having Emily so noticed and admired, and having also, as well as herself, a taste for good society, almost imperceptibly fell into a round of visiting, which might, and would have been, perfectly proper and consistent with their rank in life, had their dependance been of a less precarious nature, than on a business proverbially fluctuating and uncertain; but, as affairs really stood, was at present highly imprudent. At times he had uneasy moments upon the subject, and it is certain that, Emily would at once have renounced all their parties, and have led a retired life, had she known that her husband was not perfectly satisfied that they were not acting improvidently; but he could never summon courage to breathe a hint to her of the sort—he did not yet know his wife—his sanguine disposition led him to reason that, while he kept his expenditure much within the last year's profits, he was all right—that the business appeared to be going on well—and, at all events, that it would be time enough to make any changes, when really necessary. Thus, glided onwards at a rapid rate, the first few months of their marriage; happier in themselves could they have known it, than with any of the large circle of acquaintance they had formed. Their's was indeed a state, as nearly approximating the full measure of human bliss, as the society of two persons, mutually loving and beloved in the tenderest manner, can possibly create; but alas! how little do we sometimes appreciate the real sources of true happiness.

Their ties of affection, were now farther strengthened by the probability of Emily's becoming a mother; and if, hitherto Quintus had avoided entering upon any discussions connected with his worldly affairs, unwilling to say or do any thing that might pain his wife, or cause her an uneasy moment, the same grounds now appeared to him more than ever forcible, why she should not be


  ― 162 ―
subjected to any change in their domestic plans, that might prove less agreeable than their present course. Yet, in the whole of this self-reasoning, he was most decidedly wrong; for he should have considered the prospect of a young family, as an additional cause for prudence; and he would have found Emily fully disposed to second him, without allowing herself to think for a single moment, what would be the effect, so far as she only, or her own gratifications, were concerned. Independently of this consideration, however, another arose within the first twelvemonth, that presented abundant field for the exercise of the prudent lessons he had been taught by Mr. Thoroughgood; and which, coinciding as they did with Emily's natural character, might easily have formed his guides of conduct, had not a silly pride stepped forward in aid of his sanguine temper, preventing him from following the dictates either of sound judgment, or of his conscience; under the vain idea too, that because he had hitherto been eminently successful, he was always to remain so.

The second, what should have been an operating cause with him to prudence, was an unexpected and unfortunate turn with regard to his business. The great advance which, twelve months previously, had enhanced the value of commercial property, had arisen from political events, the influence of which had for some time continued, enabling him to reap the advantages which he had at first gained; but within a few months of his marriage, similar causes produced, first a re-action, and afterwards a rapid depreciation in value. Quintus and his partner became aware, when too late, of the storm that had thus overtaken them. Others of the same trade, of more experience, had contrived to ease themselves of the burthen of heavy stocks, by courting these two young men, who, standing high in credit, were weak enough to suffer themselves to be persuaded to incumber themselves by purchases, disproportioned to their necessities. The consequence was, that day after day they saw their recently accumulated heap of gains, gradually diminished, although they were far removed from any thing like the probability of embarrassment. Neither of them had courage to seek to know the worst, and to institute such an investigation as would disclose their real state, foolishly preferring upon the arrival of their fixed period of annual adjustment, to defer it for another six months, under the sophistical plea that the foreign markets would then be settled, and that they should therefore be able to arrive at the truth, with the greater accuracy.

Shortly after this reverse, Emily gave birth to a son, after sufferings which for a time, threatened the loss both of mother and child. Quintus already found therefore that life is a chequered scene of joy and sorrow, of pain and pleasure. Rendered uneasy by the change


  ― 163 ―
in his affairs, he foolishly shunned one of the readiest modes of relieving his mind, by neglecting to make the best of all counsellors, (next to his God) privy to what disquieted him, reasoning that her own situation, was already cause of sufficient personal anxiety, and indulging visionary expectations that the settlement that had been postponed, and was now about to take place, would prove rather as he hoped, than as he feared.

But the anxious eyes of his excellent wife, had already discovered that a something preyed within him, although, being constitutionally cheerful and sanguine, none but a nice observer could have traced the lurking canker-worm, either by his countenance or manner, and she earnestly besought him to let her know the cause. “Nothing, but the usual anxieties of men of business, my dear Emily, and which I ought always to leave at the compting-house, but sometimes they will intrude upon me, even in your presence.”

“Cannot I help you? You know that papa always used laughingly to call me his little man of business.”

“No, I thank you. I know you are very clever, but I think ladies are as much out of their element in pounds, shillings, and pence, as their husbands are in ordering the dinner, or in seeing that the rooms are dusted. You must suffer me, my love, to manage the one, as uncontrolledly as the other is left in your hands.”

“Well, Quintus, I will ask no more questions—only pray never treat me as a mere cipher—and as you say our domestic concerns are in my province, I shall never allow our expenditure to exceed what you tell me, can be well afforded.”

When however, at the end of a few months the long dreaded day of reckoning came, it was with the utmost dismay he discovered that, not only were the former profits of two thousand pounds and upwards, absorbed by the depreciated value of their property, but that, all his expenditure both before, and subsequently to, his marriage, had been from his capital stock. It was on this occasion, that the difference of character, between himself and Emily, was plainly evinced. He did not seek to disguise from her, that the result of the balance sheet, was unfavourable; but he was unwilling to acknowledge the extent of the mischief. “I know my Emily is an excellent manager,” said he, “and she will now have to try her hand at economy; for we must curtail our expenses for a time, as much as possible.—We have had a bad stock-taking.”

“Why did you not tell me so before, and we might then have avoided many things, which are now too late? We had better at once remove to the manufactory.”

“No, that will not do, at all; in the first place, it would be publishing to the world out losses, by which our credit might be injured;—


  ― 164 ―
and in the next, I think we have taken every thing at a very low rate, and that our next result, will put us all right again.”

“And can you, my dear Quintus, reconcile it as being right, either to your friends, or to myself and our infant, to continue upon our present establishment, in anticipation only, of better times? each day perhaps, still more reducing our store.—Be persuaded by me;—and let us do what is right, and never fear the consequences.” In this manner, did this estimable woman argue with her husband, combating what she already saw, were the chief faults of his character; and she so far prevailed that, although upon various considerations, her desire of going to live at the manufactory, was not carried into effect, a removal from their present handsome and expensive residence in Brunswick-square, was made to a smaller one, in a quiet, retired part of the north end of the town, all their other domestic arrangements, being reduced in proportion.

Pleased that she had so far succeeded, she exerted herself to make their new dwelling, agreeable to her husband, and to substitute the rational pleasures of their own hearth, for the fashionable society they had relinquished. She adapted herself to his tastes for music and literature, as means of beguiling away the long winter evenings—exchanging these in the summer, for such out-of-door employments, as were adapted to the season. Thus at times, whilst he was from home occupied with his business, she would be practising her sweet, melodious voice, so as to greet him upon his return, with some newly-acquired song; or at others, would devote the mornings to read some particular book which she had heard him admire, so as to qualify herself for conversing with him, upon its most interesting parts; then again, were he ever inclined for a walk, or when, now and then, he had a day's relaxation from the toil of business, the mere mention of his intention of going abroad, immediately drew from her, “Stay a minute, dear, just till I put on my shawl and bonnet, and I'll go with you,” ever seeking to beguile their way, by a thousand endearing attentions. In all this solicitude towards promoting her husband's happiness, she failed not to exhibit a care and diligence in the management of her household, perfectly consistent with her other bright traits of character; for she displayed so true a knowledge in that species of acquirements, which many a modern fine lady would blush to own she possessed, that the comfort and neat elegance, apparent in every corner of their well-arranged little mansion, were almost proverbial.

In this manner, passed a year in peaceful serenity; when, upon the next periodical settlement of their affairs, Quintus not only found all his former losses repaired, but that a farther considerable sum still remained, for his share of the year's profits. This result had not


  ― 165 ―
been so much produced by any great fluctuations, as by a regular progressive accumulation of small profits, upon large returns; and Emily, to whom Quintus took care, in his usual sanguine manner, and in the most glowing colors, to point out this difference, and to draw from it the most flattering conclusions for the future, now so far acceded to his way of thinking, as to allow him to make one or two purchases for herself, which she had hitherto strenuously opposed; and to consent to leaving town for a short while, for one of the watering places. But her happiness seemed so entirely wrapped up in the society of her husband, that when she learnt his intention of going and returning occasionally, leaving her to the care of some friends, a desire to be near the sea, which had chiefly been excited by the state of her own health, and that of their son Olivant, who was now recovering from diseases, incidental to childhood, was so much diminished, that it was with difficulty she could be persuaded to adhere to it. In one of their conversations upon the subject, and when Quintus was congratulating her, upon their recovered circumstances, calling her, as he always did when in unusually good temper, his “little wife,” she replied “And was not your little wife right? Now tell me truly; have not you been much more happy, since we have lived where we now are, than when we lived in Brunswick-square? Have you not a much greater satisfaction in thinking that, we have now, a little money to spend, than as before, in finding that it had all been spent before-hand? You know well Quintus, that no person enjoys what is called pleasure, more than I do, when my reason approves it; but when it does not, I am perfectly miserable.”

From the hour of their marriage, the utmost harmony had invariably subsisted between themselves, and all the branches of her family. The difference of age between Quintus and William Clifton, was so trifling that, a similarity on many subjects, in tastes, habits, and inclinations, had drawn the two young men together, in the bond of true brotherly affection. William was now finishing his education for the law, in one of the most eminent houses of the metropolis.—What his sister was, in many respects as a female, he exhibited in its more manly form—uncompromising principle, entire devotion to his parents, and an amiable disposition. In some points, Quintus and he possessed kindred traits; but in more, they were dissimilar—nevertheless, they fell into mutual views and feelings so entirely, that the understanding between them, was of the best and most cordial nature. Emily's next younger sisters, had now grown into womanhood, and exhibited a frame of mind, so much resembling her own, that it was not possible for Quintus to feel towards them, otherwise than much and deservedly attached. In a word, the whole of the family, Quintus himself included, exhibited an instance of


  ― 166 ―
love and harmony, rarely met with, excepting in the pages of the novelist.

Among those, with whom, about this period, he contracted an intimacy, eventually operating injuriously, in strengthening the weaknesses or failings of his character, were two relations; the one by blood, and the other, marriage: the first being his cousin Frederick Campbell, and the latter, an uncle of Emily's, a widower, and a few years his senior. The former, was in many respects, a very estimable person; but unfortunately, certain of his foibles, too much corresponded with those of his cousin. He was a partner in an eminent mercantile house in the City, was thoroughly well-educated,—of an open, frank disposition and temper—enjoying a good fortune, and bearing the reputation of being clever, and active in business. In private life, he was a sensible, agreeable man of the world, ardently attached to literature, in some of the pursuits of which, he had acquired considerable fame—and added to these, he was generous, to a fault. But the opposite shades, that bore some affinity to those by which, his cousins good qualities were obscured, arose, from a sanguine way of thinking, and a somewhat exalted opinion of himself, and unfortunately for both, each cousin, in process of time had a material effect upon the destiny of the other. Kind, and ever ready to oblige his friends, Frederick had already been of essential service to Quintus, upon one or two important occasions; and as the intimacy between them increased, scarcely a thought, or secret of the heart, was withheld in their mutually confidential intercourse.

Emily's uncle was a character, of a very different description; and the chief claims possessed in the origin of the acquaintance, to Quintus's good fellowship, and subsequently, to his friendship, arose from the kindness and attention he had paid Emily from her infancy, and which were continued in an equally warm manner, after she had become both a wife and mother. But Quintus imbibed from him a laxity of notions upon some points, pregnant with no good; and the opportunities of intercourse with both these friends, being frequent during Emily's absence from home, by degrees his mind received a new bias from the tenor of conversations in which he was a party, not perhaps so much from themselves, as from those with whom, through their introductions, he associated. From Frederick Campbell however, the impressions he received, were of a much more mixed nature than from the other. His love of literature, had drawn into his circle, many distinguished individuals, celebrated for their attainments—his table was oft graced by some one or other of the best political writers, poets, or orators of the day; and partly perhaps, arising from a taste so excited, he proposed to his cousin, to jointly establish a periodical publication, and conduct it with spirit, in a new,


  ― 167 ―
and, as they hoped, popular form. The idea so conveyed was promptly acted upon; and the vanity of each soon became sufficiently gratified, by the success that attended them. Had the effect that was produced upon Quintus's character, by this new mode of employing his leisure hours, been confined to the improvement of mind it excited, the result would have been altogether satisfactory; but, although at first remotely only, it strengthened some of the defects of character, that were already manifest, and brought to light others, that had previously lain dormant.

The literary intercourse that was in this manner created between Quintus and several eminent persons, occasionally led to meetings, where “the feast of reason, and the flow of soul,” received the zest of more worldly pleasures; and some of the doctrines now and then broached upon these occasions, rather tended to ridicule and lessen, than to increase, the notions of reciprocal matrimonial devotion, which Quintus had ever been taught to consider as inviolable, under any circumstances. Not that by this, is it meant to infer, that a general disregard of the marriage vow was sanctioned by such opinions as thus reached him; but, that attention to a wife's happiness, which rather bespeaks the lover, than the husband, was, by one and all too much treated with bantering levity. Quintus sometimes attempted to controvert such positions, but they too generally obtain to be easily refuted, and he imperceptibly found less difficulty in becoming their convert, than in remaining their opponent.

“Do not you know,” said one of these friends one day, “that a distance of forty miles is an absolution from the Benedictine vow? and that a wife is then better pleased to feel assured that her husband is enjoying the pleasures of a gay and merry bachelor, than that he should be sitting ‘like patience on a monument smiling at grief,’ at his deary's absence.”

“No indeed, I have never so considered it,” said Quintus. “On the contrary, I think a husband has no right to expect that from his wife, which he withholds from her.”

“Tut, tut, man! prithee rid thyself of such absurd notions. No woman likes to have her husband's coat, always pinned to her petticoat. Treat her well when you are at home, but don't fancy she always wants you there.”

Quintus was not so much convinced by these arguments, as to be induced to fail in the slightest degree in the love and duty so deservedly Emily's due, but they certainly had so far infected his mind, as to encourage him to entertain the idea that his own pleasureable engagements need not always depend upon those of his wife; and she sometimes found, that instead of seeing him at dinner, a note was a substitute for his presence, announcing his having


  ― 168 ―
accepted the invitation of some bachelor friend. Happily he was never led to depart from strict habits of temperance; nor did he ever fail to return home at an early hour. Still, how difficult is it to allow an entrance into the heart of the least departure from thorough rectitude, and to say, hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther! Quintus found this, his own case—he did not for a moment cease to regard Emily, in all the bright colours that belonged to her character; but once having admitted the principle, that a husband and wife need not chiefly depend upon each other, for their happiness, he did not appreciate her society so highly, nor consider it as so exclusively constituting his felicity, as had hitherto been his wont, or as he again did, at a subsequent period of his life.

Thus another year slipt away, their lives being totally free from the little jars that sometimes attend the wedded state, Emily ever smiling, cheerful, and good humoured, and Quintus, thoroughly attached, but not perhaps devoting himself to her so much as formerly; rather, on the contrary, sitting more and more easy, under the neglect of those little but constant and pleasing attentions, in which he had once so much delighted.

It is a singular feature in the formation of some minds, that they can exhibit an almost total indifference, where important stakes, involving perhaps, their entire fortunes, are concerned, and yet, show the utmost care and anxiety about trifles. Quintus was one of this description. His sanguineness enabled him to speculate deeply in business, rendering a trade, proverbially fluctuating, still more hazardous, by his mode of conducting it; and yet he could never bring himself, when cards or other games of chance were introduced at parties, to risk a stake that could in any manner, exceed a few shillings. Gambling of every description he professed to abhor—forgetting how nearly allied to this vice, are improvident speculations in trade; but it was well perhaps, that he had not both to answer for; Emily knew therefore, she need be under no apprehension that he would become addicted, either to intemperance or gambling, as a consequence of the social pleasures in which he evidently liked to indulge. Nevertheless, how much better satisfied would she have been, had he not manifested in any manner, his conversion to the new light upon the relative connexion of husband and wife, that he thus displayed. She had daily instances that he was still fondly attached to her—but he made her too often feel, that there was a mixture of selfishness with his love, very unlike the two or three first years of their union,—and it grieved her to notice that, conduct in other married people, which he had once deservedly reprobated, was now treated by him in conversation, lightly, and still more to observe,


  ― 169 ―
that he could join in ridiculing that very same conjugal devotion, out of which, it was only recently that he had been himself bantered.

How much more easy is it to exclude vice from the heart, when it first hangs about the portals, than to banish it, after it has once effected a lodgement. Quintus had now admitted a highly dangerous principle, at which, only the other day as it were, he would have shuddered—but luckily for him, it had not yet obtained firm hold, and an incident now arose, trifling in itself, but important in its consequences, insomuch as it opened his eyes to the unkindness of his behaviour, and at once wrought a cure.

He was proceeding homewards one day, at his customary dinnerhour, when meeting a bachelor friend, he was so strongly pressed to dine with him, in order to form as he said, a cozy toe-to-toe party, with a couple of mutual intimate acquaintances, that Quintus promised to be there—but excused himself from accompanying him at the moment, saying, “I must run home first, but will be with you in good time.” A short distance from his residence, he met Emily, looking, as she always did, good-humoured and pretty, but now, peculiarly so, as she said, with a sweetly expressive smile—“I was coming to look for you—for dinner is almost ready, and there is something you will like very much.” Quintus had at times, a short, touchy way of answering people, particularly when the subject happened to be disagreeable to him; but it was very rarely indeed, that he exhibited any thing of it, in speaking to his wife; but now, he replied in a peevish tone, “Then you must keep it till another day; as I am not going to dine at home.”

“Why did you not tell me so this morning? Mamma sent us a very nice neck of venison, a few days ago, and I have had it dressed today, wishing to give you an agreeable surprise; and she is come to dine with us.”

Instead of receiving this little playful instance of her regard as he ought, he answered very shortly, “Then pray, let Mrs. Clifton have the pleasure of eating it—as you did not think it worth while to tell me of it before, you may now keep your agreeable surprise to yourselves. I dare say I shall have something as good, where I am going.”

He had never before treated her either with such unkindness or rudeness. She gave him no answer, nor indeed could she, for her feelings had entirely overcome her power of speech. Upon entering the house, Quintus proceeded to his dressing-room, and, having changed his attire, was on his way again to the front door, when, meeting Emily on the staircase, he could see by her countenance that she had been weeping, but there was an endeavour of composed serenity in her expressive features, as she said,—“Don't leave me,


  ― 170 ―
Quintus, as if we were bad friends. Kiss me before you go, won't you?”—at the same moment affectionately bestowing the caress, which was returned by him, although less warmly than usual. “You haven't told me where you are going, but don't be late.”

“I am going to dine at Mr. Walsh's—you know I am never late;” but instantly beginning to feel ashamed of this unmerited behaviour, he clasped her fondly and said—“Good bye for the present, Emily —I wish I was not going.”

As he proceeded along the street, his conscience smote him severely for the manner he had treated this excellent creature, rendered more forcible and glaring, by its contrast with the sweetness of temper displayed by herself, and he felt so thoroughly ashamed, that he determined to make the amende honorable by returning to her immediately. Acting upon this impulse, he stepped into a shop, and writing a note of apology to his friend, caused it to be despatched, and ran back at full speed towards his house. Entering the parlour in a hurried manner, he was much hurt to see that Emily's seat was vacant, and hastily enquiring for her, was told that she was in her own room. In one instant he was by her side, praying forgiveness for having so pained her, and saying, “You have completely conquered me, my Emily. I find that you have indeed, the true art of managing your husband, but how can I requite your goodness?”

“By thinking as much of my society as you used to do, Quintus. I have often felt much more than I have chosen to acknowledge, but now I am quite happy.”

From this time, he entirely abandoned all such engagements as had heretofore so imperceptibly drawn him aside, and devoted his time as formerly, to his own fireside. So true is it, that much more may generally be accomplished, towards reforming our little follies and vices by kindness and gentleness, than by severity. In this case, the natural good qualities of Quintus's disposition, when aroused into action by a sense of injustice to his wife, caused him instantly to see, and amend his fault; when, had she exhibited her own feelings by asperity of word, or manner, it is probable that, instead of remedying the evil, it would have increased. In temper, he was hasty, but not passionate; fond of having his own way, but easily led to adapt it to that of others, by dint of a little management. With some wives, who might have opposed him on every trifle, he would have been imperious, overbearing, and headstrong; his pettishness would have become decided ill-temper, and many other of his foibles would have grown into vices; but his marriage with Emily had been an union of hearts, built upon thorough esteem. Much as her personal attractions recommended her, they were little, when compared with the beauties of her mind. The few past years of their wedded lives, had


  ― 171 ―
rather increased than diminished the lustre of her charms, and had also most decidedly drawn out, as Mrs. Clifton had predicted, many estimable mental qualities. She was rich therefore, both in mind and body; and however agreeable the latter may be to the eye, how infinitely more valuable in every respect, is the former! The woman who is mistress of such a jewel is indeed rich. Neither time nor absence, nor any other circumstance can diminish its lustre, but on the contrary, it increases in worth as it grows older; and wherever, as was the case in this history, some of its brightness is capable of being imparted towards reforming, or correcting by its influence, the faults of a husband, although it may be a work of time, happy indeed is the owner. She may well feel, and say, “I have not lived for nothing.”

Probably, notwithstanding what has been said in the preceding pages, the marriage of Quintus and Emily had hitherto been productive of quite as much happiness, and as little discord, as falls to the usual lot of mortals; but the merit in a great measure belonged to Emily, who invariably made the most of every thing, that could contribute to the one, and softened down whatever might create the other. In their worldly affairs, great fluctuations were ever arising, but so careful and prudent had been their style of living after their first mistake had been corrected, and to so good an account was a small expenditure turned, under Emily's capital management, that they possessed all the comforts, and many of the luxuries of life, yet still kept considerably within their means.

While things remained in this state, certain events were arising in the political world, which sanctioned the opinion among the most experienced commercial men of the day, that a material advance would shortly take place, in the value of all colonial property. Acting with more prudence than formerly, Quintus and his partner determined not to continue to make purchases, but to speculate upon their present stock, by effecting no more sales than could be well avoided. By this means their manufactory became unusually full, and the additional risk thus incurred, led them to add the sum of five thousand pounds, to the thirty thousand, already covered by insurance. This step taken, they contemplated the aspect of their fortunes with much satisfaction, pleasing themselves with considering how materially they were likely to be benefited by the anticipated rise. Indeed, not only between themselves, but among their respective friends, their flattering prospects formed a favourite topic, and so far as imagination went, they were already rich men.

One evening, as Quintus and Emily were returning from Bedford-square, the alarm of fire met their ears at a distance, and led Emily to cling still more closely to her husband's arm, with a sort of trepidation as she observed, “Pray Heaven the manufactory be not on fire.


  ― 172 ―
I wish you were any other trade, for what with apprehension of fire, and one thing or another, I am always anxious.”

“I am not much afraid of it,” replied Quintus, “the premises are carefully watched, and at all events, we are pretty well insured.”

The subject was not continued, and arriving at home, and hearing no more of it, the occasion that had led to these few words, was almost forgotten. But this calm was of short duration. Emily had retired to her room, whither Quintus was preparing to follow, when a thundering knock at the street door, was accompanied by the cry of, “Fire! Fire! your premises are on fire, and are nearly burnt to the ground.”

It was with difficulty he could so far quiet Emily's anxiety with regard to his personal safety, as to receive her sanction to his repairing to the scene of devastation, until he pointed out the absolute necessity for his being present, assuring her however, that he would not incur any risk, and that, if he found he could do no good, he would immediately return. The devouring element had gained so much ahead before it was discovered, and was so aided by the inflammable nature of the stock, that the utmost endeavours of a numerous body of firemen, assisted by the active exertions of friends and neighbours, failed to produce any material effect towards counteracting its ravages, and when Quintus reached the place, nothing but a pile of rubbish remained, of what, a few hours previously, had been a large and commodious range of buildings. Fortunately, all the books and papers were preserved, but little or none of the property; the full extent of the evil, was however at the moment, scarcely contemplated.

Notwithstanding Quintus's assurances, Emily remained in the utmost state of disquiet, until he returned. He had scarcely thought it possible, even if such an accident occurred, as he had now witnessed, that the destruction could be so complete as it had been, but the calculations he mentally formed, as he retraced his steps, could not even with his flattering mode of viewing things, enable him to arrive at any other conclusion, than that their imaginary great profits were vanished, to say the least. When he reached the house, Emily was yet up, waiting for intelligence, and was not a little delighted that it was brought her by himself. “Ah! my dearest Emily,” he said to her, in reply to the fond endearments of her welcome, “I fear you must reserve your congratulations for some other occasion, for the loss is tremendous, much greater than I could have imagined.”

“What care I for losses, so that my husband is preserved to me?—the same God, who gave us what we had, can give us more,” was her reply, and she was shortly called upon to prove the sincerity of her


  ― 173 ―
reliance upon Providence; for, upon making up their accounts with the view of settling with the Insurance Companies, it was discovered that, even at a low estimate, the property was several thousand pounds uninsured; and that, after paying all the engagements of the firm, little or nothing would be left for Quintus or his partner, the original capital of each, being entirely sacrificed.—What rendered their misfortune the more disastrous was that, within a few weeks, the anticipated rise actually took place; and had not the accident occurred, the advantage to both partners, would have been considerable.




  ― 174 ―

Chapter IV

“Felices ter et amplius
Quos irrupta tenet copula.”


Great as was the disappointment thus created, to many pleasing hopes and expectations, the effect of their calamity soon lost much of its poignancy, both upon the mind of Quintus and Emily, although occasioned by very different causes. With regard to Quintus, it was some months ere the affairs of the late concern could be entirely closed, and in the meanwhile, the buoyancy of his natural spirits came in aid of his inclination to view every thing in its best light, and produced first, an almost oblivion of the past, and afterwards, hopes equally flattering as before, but perhaps a little retarded, for the future. He had acquired so high a reputation, as an intelligent, active man of business, had evinced so much tact and management upon several occasions of intricacy, and had so well applied many of the lessons he had received both from Mr. Thoroughgood and others, that he entertained little apprehension of long remaining unoccupied; and, until something better occurred, now diligently attended to literary pursuits, with the view of promoting the success of the publication, in which jointly with his cousin Campbell, he had an interest. Emily, on her part, had so firm and immutable a reliance upon an over-ruling Providence, that she would never allow herself to repine or despair, in consequence of their present untoward circumstances; but entirely devoting herself to her husband and child, endeavouring to add to their comforts and to promote their happiness, calmly awaited whatever might offer for bettering their fortunes.

While things were in this state, Quintus, who from childhood had always enjoyed most excellent health, complained one evening of a pain in the arm, but was so little regarded by those around him, that when, after an hour or two, he spoke of it as still continuing, grounding upon it an excuse for not joining in some amusements, that were going forward among some of the younger Cliftons, he was quite bantered and ridiculed, nor was it till early the following morning, that he was really believed to be indisposed. Then however, it was but too evident; and upon sending for medical advice, he was pronounced to have all the symptoms of a violent rheumatic fever, but which speedily changed, and assumed the still more alarming shape of inflammation of the brain.




  ― 175 ―

Here then, was presented a new and unexpected opportunity, for the exercise of Emily's patience and resignation; and every other consideration at once gave way, to her affectionate tenderness for her afflicted husband. Night after night would she stay by his bed of sickness, suffering no other person than herself to render him the commonest services; her hand alone poured out all his medicines—administered to all his necessities—her anxious eye, was seldom removed from his countenance, watching to discover the least amendment, during the painful suspense of some days, that hopes and fears were holding an even balance in her breast; all this while, hiding an aching heart under the forced smile, with which she cheered the moments, when, partially recovering from delirium, he was able to recognise and to thank, his amiable nurse. Happily, her alarm for his safety, was not of long duration. His fine constitution never having been injured by intemperance or dissipation, in a comparatively short time, triumphed over the malady, and Emily had the unspeakable delight of being assured by the medical attendants, that her beloved husband was out of all danger. Yet, her affectionate assiduity did not diminish, although her anxiety thus became lessened; on the contrary, she chose to evince her gratitude to her God, by continuing the inseparable companion, when her duties as nurse, might otherwise have spared her presence in the invalid's chamber; confining herself to it so closely, that in the end, the solicitude that had been hitherto felt for her husband, was to a certain extent transferred to herself, as her own health was evidently suffering. No sooner therefore was Quintus able to leave the house, than he was recommended by his physician, to go into the country for a few months; under the idea that, change of air and scene, would entirely restore his own health, and, at the same time, be beneficial to Emily.

The Cliftons had some distant relations in the West of England, who had often pressed Emily, since her marriage, to pay them a visit; and it was now determined that proceeding by easy stages, they should make their way thither, being entirely governed by circumstances, as to their sojourn at the different places that would be included in their route. Accordingly they now left town, proceeding towards the South coast, and intending thence to pursue their way into Devonshire.

In the course of this excursion, they visited the remarkable ruins on Salisbury Plains, well known by the name of Stonehenge, and although Quintus was no antiquarian, he could not contemplate these striking curiosities, without astonishment. He had read the account given by Diodorus Siculus, of a round temple in Britain, dedicated to Apollo, and was not unacquainted with the arguments advanced, to prove that his description of it, tallied in many respects


  ― 176 ―
with Stone-henge. It appears by the hypothesis thus assumed, that originally the temple consisted of two circles and two ovals, although probably erected at different periods—that the first work consisted of the outward circle, with its imposts, and of the inner oval of large trilithons; and that the smaller circle and oval of inferior stones, were raised subsequently.

The result of a morning, employed in the research of this extraordinary spot, enabled him to commit to his commonplace book some memoranda, grounded upon the assumptions already explained. He ascertained that what is supposed to have been the outward circle, consisted of thirty stones—that its diameter was one hundred feet—the height of the stones rather more than thirteen—the breadth seven,—space between the stones five, slightly varying however—and that the impost was two feet eight inches deep. He farther made it appear, that the altar probably stood nearly in the centre of the circle, and was fifteen feet long—the height of the trilithons surrounding the altar, respectively, sixteen, seventeen, and twenty-one feet. On one of the stones were still remaining perfect tenons, formed in the shape of a cone, and on others mortices, apparently calculated to receive these tenons; but, these measurements and descriptions were founded upon the presumption, that the hypothesis of Diodorus Siculus was generally applicable to this spot. Quintus was not sufficiently versed in the subject, to be able to judge correctly of the justness of the first position; yet, as it seemed borne out by many concurrent circumstances, he willingly admitted it as reasonable, and applied the particulars thus collected, accordingly.

Prosecuting their journey quite at leisure, they remained a short time at the beautiful village of Stourton, since rendered of note, by being the residence of that celebrated patroniser of the arts, Sir Richard Hoare; and visiting, in the course of their stay there, all the noble seats in that neighbourhood; thus adding to the store of knowledge possessed by each, by attentively viewing the works of the accomplished masters in painting, sculpture, and architecture, that are connected with the names and collections of the Earl of Pembroke, the Marquis of Bath, Mr. Beckford, and Sir Richard Hoare.

In their way, they visited Quintus's old friends, the Clevelys and Burtons, to whom he had pride and pleasure in introducing Emily, now no longer the charming bride, but the more matured and interesting character, of the affectionate wife, and tender mother. She preserved so prudent a restraint over him in point of regimen, that not even Mr. Clevely's famous number nine, had power to lead him to disregard the strict injunction he had received, as to diet; although the temptation was supported by their host's strenuous recommendation, who repeatedly pronounced it to be a never failing panacea,


  ― 177 ―
good for every complaint excepting the gout; and even then, said the reverend gentleman, “a pint or so, is a great comfort.” After spending a few days at each Lestowe and Beauford, they continued their excursion through Exeter southwards, dividing their time between the different watering places, and Emily's relations, by one and all of whom, they were received with great kindness.

Here, the pure and bracing air of the coast, aided by the absence of all care and anxiety, in a short time entirely completed his convalescence, and all remains of illness were removed from his countenance. He had been prohibited the use of any fermented liquors, until they should be again permitted by the Doctors, who feared that stimulants of any description, might affect the seat of his late illness; and, as he was ever a sociable, although temperate companion at a dinner table, and was now in the land of good cheer and hospitality, it was to Emily's vigilance, more than to his own self-command, that in proportion as the last remains of his complaint left him, he did not act as if absolved from a system, that ill agreed with the conviviality of his nature. But Emily was imperative, and had learnt her lesson so perfectly from the Physician, that all his arguments, and his saying, “Why, my dear Emily, I am as well as ever I was in my life,” were met by, “And who do you think can half so much rejoice at that, as myself? but I mean to keep you so, and to return you to Dr. Summers's hands, all the better for being his proxy. You know his last words to me were, don't suffer your husband to taste wine or other strong liquor, till you see me again.”

This sort of discussion had arisen one morning, as they were debating whether or not they would accept an invitation to dinner at a gentleman's house, always famous for the hospitality of its owner.—Quintus argued that the abstinence Dr. Summers had enjoined, could only have been meant to be practised, so long as he continued an invalid; and that now being perfectly restored, it would subject him to much difficulty, in framing excuses for not conforming to the custom of other gentlemen; so that, he would rather not go to the party, than join in upon such terms. Emily, on the other hand, contended that, having accepted other invitations, which, like this, had been given in compliment to their relations, it was wrong to suffer so slight a cause as he had named, to occasion their being guilty of a rudeness; adding, with one of her pleasant smiles, “I can say no more in support of Dr. Summers's orders. I think I know which you love best, your wife, or your bottle, but, by and by, I shall see; at all events, we ought to go to Mr. Carew's.”

“Ah Emily,” he replied, “you know how to gild your pills—you shall indeed see, my love, that nothing can come in competition with yourself.”




  ― 178 ―

When they repaired to Mr. Carew's, they met a large party, many of whom were confirmed bon-vivans, who thought nothing of sacrificing to the jolly god, until they could neither see nor move. The master of the house, was a regular three bottle man, and was often carried from the dining parlour to his bed-room. His wife was a good, notable country lady—one, who had gone through the routine of a boarding school education—understood how to cram turkeys, feed pet lambs, and all the other mysteries of the farm yard—thought nothing of plucking chickens and pigeons, as pretty parlour occupations, and paid little regard to her husband's carousings, having been long inured to such, by the practice of her father and brothers. She was upon terms of intimacy with one of Emily's aunts, whence had arisen the present invitation. As the company assembled one after another in a small, old-fashioned, oak wainscoated room, the floor of which was like a mirror, and over whose chimney-piece was a variety of grotesque carved figures, and were lingering away in extreme dulness, the heavily passing moments until dinner should be announced, Quintus and Emily looked at one another expressively, whilst they contemplated the carbuncled nose of one gentleman, the squalid features of another, the purple complexion of a third, the whole party indeed, excepting Quintus and one other gentleman (a Barrister, and like him, a resident in London, but on a visit to some friends in that neighbourhood), bearing on their countenances all the marks of long accustomed intemperance. Being presently seated at table, Mr. Carew said, “Come gentlemen, let's have a whetter all round,” at the same time filling a bumper, and passing the bottle to his next neighbour.

It happened almost immediately to come to Quintus's turn, who handed it on without filling, which Mr. Carew observing, said, “How, now, sir! no tricks with the bottle here—bumpers and umbrellas are the rule in Devonshire.”

“And no man can regret more than I do, sir, that I cannot follow so good a rule,” said Quintus, “but I am yet scarcely recovered from a severe illness, and am absolutely prohibited even a single glass of wine.”

This however, would not have saved him in Mr. Carew's judgment, had it not been for petticoat interest; for seeing him hard pressed, Emily interceded with Mrs. Carew, and by the joint influence of the two, he obtained a reluctant permission, “To fill what you will, but drink what you fill;” a permission, Mr. Carew said, he had never before given to living mortal, “nor would I now,” he added, “only else I should have such a clickmaclack by and by, that I should never hear the last of it.”




  ― 179 ―

Thus at ease, having conquered the difficulty he had apprehended, Quintus rigidly followed Dr. Summer's orders, and was sufficiently recompensed by the approving smile of Emily, whenever their eyes met; but the London barrister, Mr. Marchmont, had no such good luck. From inclination, as well as from the custom of the well-bred society in which he moved, he was cheerful, but strictly temperate; and, perhaps, no sight was more disagreeable to him, than that of a drunken man; but he had not the plea of previous illness, nor had he a wife present, to whom he might be indebted for support in so daring a measure, as an opposition to the custom of the county.

Mr. Carew was at all times absolute at his own table, enforcing the same obedience there, that he willingly yielded at that of his neighbours. Hence, after a while, it was with a mixture of anger and astonishment, that he received Mr. Marchmont's polite, but firm refusal, to take more wine than was agreeable. So long as he remained perfectly sober, it was not difficult for him to keep within the bounds of forced civility, although accompanied by occasional sneers; but, once the wine beginning to exclude the wit, all rules of good breeding were banished. Swearing a great oath, he insisted that Mr. Marchmont should fill his glass, equally with the others. “Hell and furies! do you mean to dictate to me, sir? me, in my own house, at my table, and in my own armchair! Sir, I insist upon it, that there shall be no more flinching—no more of your shy cocks for me—gentlemen, won't you support the chair?”

“Chair! chair! support the chair!” was the response, in full chorus, some even threatening to hold the refractory member, and drench him, if he did not forthwith surrender at discretion.

“When you are at Rome, you must act the Roman, sir,” continued Mr. Carew, “and you may think yourself d———d well off, that we do not make you try back and pay old scores.”

Unfortunately for the course Mr. Marchment would have liked to have taken, he was Mr. Carew's visitor, in capacity of guest to a neighbouring gentleman, with whom he was staying, and who had been requested to bring him. The first suggestion, therefore, that arose in his mind—that of withdrawing, and returning to his friend's house could not be accomplished; as the distance was considerable—the night extremely dark—and the road unknown. He was aware that at the dinner parties, in this hospitable part of the country, it was not unusual at times, for some of the guests to remain on the floor of the dining-room, until the following morning; he had even heard of one gentleman in the neighbourhood, who had fitted up a small room, with just accommodation sufficient for persons to lie down in, with their clothes on, and which he had called “The omnium gatherum,” as, at whatever time he was himself carried to his


  ― 180 ―
bedroom, no longer able to speak, sip, or sit, it was usual for the servants to assist such of the visitors as were also unable to move without help, and to place them in a sort of pell-mell manner in this chamber, where they were left to sleep themselves sober. With such a knowledge of the direful effects of conforming to what was now required of him, no wonder that he persisted in maintaining his ground, so long as he could do so with a chance of success; for he truly enough anticipated what would be the consequence of once yielding; but he was at length so beset upon all sides, that farther opposition was beyond his power, and surrendering at discretion, he enlisted, an unwilling recruit of the jovial crew, and was speedily overtaken by the fate he had so much dreaded; in fact, it was comparatively a short time only, before he was utterly insensible.

When Quintus and Emily afterwards conversed upon the occurrences of the day, “Do not you thank me,” she said, “for giving you the opportunity of showing me, that I am rather the object of your regard, than the bottle? If you had once begun, how would you have stopped, with such a person at the table as Mr. Carew? and only think what might have been the consequence, had you been in such a state as poor Mr. Marchmont!”

“It is very true, Emily; you are quite right; but I don't know how it is, you always manage to conquer me, when you choose.”

“You know better than that. I only conquer as you say, when, at first looking at things rather as you wish, than as they are, I can afterwards manage to make you hear reason. I have heard mamma say, whoever does a thing they know to be wrong, under any pretence whatever, no matter what, will one day or another have cause to repent it; and I fully believe her. I am quite sure, had you taken a single glass of wine, under the pretence you gave in the morning, we should both have bitterly repented it; but do tell me what will become of Mr. Marchmont? I fear, from what you say, he must be very ill.”

“He is suffering sadly from the effects of the wine, but he has something in his head, by way of retributive justice, as he calls it. I think him a sensible, pleasant man, and he and I became very good friends; he knows your brother too, by name, and speaks very highly of him. He whispered to me, that he'd make Mr. Carew pay for this indignity; and that as I was a witness of his disgrace, so should I also see his triumph, but I don't precisely know what he means.”

The next morning, Mr. Marchmont, although still suffering from the effects of the preceding evening's intoxication, appeared to have lost all traces of displeasure towards his host, or any other of the party; and giving Mr. Carew a very pressing and hearty invitation to


  ― 181 ―
his house in London, whenever he might visit the metropolis, took leave and departed, in a courteous, friendly manner.

Shortly after this, Quintus received letters from London to say, that his assistance was required, in arranging the affairs of a large mercantile house, which had become embarrassed, and in whose estate, his late concern was interested. Returning therefore to town, quite restored to health, he devoted himself to this business with much industry and application; and considerably strengthened his already high repute, as a man of talent in commercial transactions. But employment of this nature, was temporary only, as well as unsatisfactory, upon other accounts; and his numerous friends were upon the anxious watch, for some occasion by which his acquirements, (all the possessions now left him,) could be turned to the advantage of his family. It was not long, before something of this sort occurred, although not through any channel that appeared to have presented the least probability of such a result—so often will it be found that, comparatively trifling causes, produce important effects.

In the number of the parties interested in the affairs of the house, which now occupied his attention, was a leading foreign merchant, who some little time previously, had received intelligence from one of the West India Islands, that rendered it necessary to dispatch a person thither, who should be armed with full powers to meet some very important exigencies—and, as the business was of the highest consequence, it was imperative that the individual selected, should be one, in whom the utmost confidence could be placed. Although Quintus had hitherto been unacquainted with this gentleman, the ability he had manifested in his recent employment, induced the merchant to conceive the idea of engaging him to undertake the embassy—and to induce him to do so, very advantageous terms were named: but it was not until some days, that he could sufficiently overcome his paramount objection to absenting himself from his wife and child, to be able to give the proposal, serious consideration. When however the large pecuniary compensation held out to him, and the value of a powerful connexion with its other accompaniments, had to a certain extent, conquered what at first appeared insuperable, he still found it beyond his power to breathe a hint of it to Emily, well knowing that the idea would be met by opposing arguments, under their most powerful form, the language of the heart, issuing from the lips of an affectionately devoted wife. In this painful dilemma, he consulted her relations, particularly her father and mother, and acting upon their advice, the negotiation was continued, Mrs. Clifton undertaking to reconcile her daughter to


  ― 182 ―
the measure, as she said, “by convincing her reason of its propriety.”

But Mrs. Clifton found much more difficulty than she had apprehended.—Emily felt that, to have left for the last to be consulted, her who ought to have been the first, was not treating her intimate relationship as a wife, with all that was due to it. “Do I ever oppose my wishes or happiness where his are concerned?” she replied. “Does not Quintus yet know me? or does he fancy that he is not the fittest person to talk to me upon painful subjects, equally as upon agreeable ones? At all events, if he goes to the West Indies, I shall accompany him; upon that I am determined.”

It was in vain for Mrs. Clifton to contend with her upon this point. It seemed so strange that a person, who had always manifested so much dread of the water, as to prefer making a considerable circuit, rather than cross a trifling ferry, should, all at once have acquired courage to talk of traversing unfathomable seas, it was not at first thought she could be in earnest; but she persevered in her intention, nor until it was clearly shown to her, that the occasion for the voyage was most probably only temporary—that it was likely her husband would return in a few months—and that her going with him, would retard in a measure the objects of his mission, that she could be persuaded to its relinquishment.

In a subsequent conversation with Quintus, she said, “I wish you would always treat me with candour, and let me know the worst of every thing. Let it be as bad as it will, I could always bear it better, by feeling that I was in your entire confidence, than when I afterwards hear things piece meal.”

“I can have no object in concealing things from you Emily, beyond the wish of saving you unnecessary pain. It is bad enough sometimes, to endure what takes places in one's own person, without adding to one's distresses, by witnessing your's.”

“According to my idea,” replied Emily, “You have no business to have any distress, in which I do not participate. If you think you can deceive me, you are mistaken, and my pain is only doubled, instead of lessened, when I find you have kept me in the dark—but about these West Indies—if you will promise me, that should you find you are likely to be detained there, you will let me know the truth, so that I may go to you, I will say no more to oppose it; but I cannot help saying, I would rather have you at home in a mere cottage, than live in a palace with the large sum they are to give you, as the price of your absence.”

Quintus promised he would do as she requested, and the negotiation being continued, every thing was arranged for his departure by an early ship. It was also settled that Emily and her child, should reside at her father's, during his absence, and that their own


  ― 183 ―
establishment should be disposed of; but, whilst these preparations were in progress, many and many were the instances by which it was clearly seen, that Emily was yielding a painful sacrifice to her sense of duty.

One day, about this time, as Quintus was returning from the city, he met Mr. Marchmont, who, shaking him warmly by the hand, said, “I was on my way to call upon you. That unmannerly cub, Carew, is in town, and is to dine with me on Wednesday. You remember your engagement, that you would witness my mode of teaching him good manners, and so I shall expect you. You will meet three or four friends, as I mean my triumph to be as complete, as he made my disgrace.” Quintus promised to be present, wondering what would be his mode of proceeding, and failed not to keep the engagement.

Mr. Marchmont resided at chambers in the Temple, and when Quintus went thither on the day appointed, he found five gentlemen already assembled, all dressed in the fashion of the day, and evidently men of good breeding. Mr. Carew had also arrived, decked in the very extreme of finery. He wore a showy purple coloured coat, with large steel buttons, having in the left-hand button-hole the best bouquet that Covent-garden could furnish; his hair was highly powdered, great pains being discernible in the form of the side curl over the ears, and in the tie of the queue; his shirt and ruffles bore proof that Mrs. Carew was equally clever at the ironing-board, as in other domestic acquirements; the waistcoat was of scarlet, with a braiding of gold lace, very long in the waist, and with flaps to the pockets, just projecting over the waistband of beautifully cleaned leather breeches, which fitted as tight as wax, and fastened to which by a strap, with a splendid buckle, around the knee, were a pair of new jockey boots—altogether he resembled a magpie, among a group of birds of more sombre feather. Singling out Quintus, as an old acquaintance, he rose and came towards him, seizing hold of his hand with the power of a vice, as he said, “Glad to see ye, young gentleman, looking so well—quite recovered I hope—none of your water system to day, eh, Mr. Marchmont! Hope your wife's well—nice little body that, Mr. Marchmont—saved our young friend here, a good skinfull at Bibimus house—but no petticoat protection to day, eh sir?”

“No, no,” said Mr. Marchmont, “he shall not be enrolled under any such banners. I think 'twill be only fair to place him under your special protection, so that he and I may be quits, as I mean you and myself to be, before we part.”

“As to the matter of that, sir, if I have the honor to be your vice, as I presume you mean, I'll serve all round with a little Devonshire


  ― 184 ―
sauce, not forgetting a Benjamin's mess, for the sick man, that was.”

“I shall be greatly obliged,” replied Mr. Marchmont, “provided it be expressly understood, that my own authority be duly respected.”

“What! respect the master of the house! to be sure—to be sure—if he were to order his company to drink sheer aqua vitæ, it must be done.”

“Yes, sir,” said another of the party, “or to eat a candlestick.”

“Or,” said another gentleman, “to drink a gallon of aqua pura.”

“To be sure, sir—to be sure,” replied Mr. Carew, “no picking nor choosing. I don't know that I ever tasted much of that aqua pura, but if it is a-kin to aqua vitæ, it must be good. Lord, gentlemen! how you would have laughed, if you had seen our host here, when he was at Bibimus house, three or four months ago. Odzooks, why he made as many faces at a glass of wine, as an old maid would at being bussed—but 'twouldn't do—'twouldn't do—no flinching's the word at my table—the glasses are always either bumpers or umbrellas—and at last, we fairly shod him—clean sewed him up, as the saying is—and he was carried to bed, dead to all appearance, as a door-nail.”

“In full gratitude for which instruction in a gentlemanly accomplishment,” said Mr. Marchmont, “I have done myself the honor of inviting a few friends to day, that Mr. Carew may see, how we do these things in London.”

Dinner being presently announced, the conversation dropped. Every thing likely to provoke a countryman's appetite, had been provided. Eight was the number at table, which was covered by succeeding courses of fish, venison, birds, and numberless little elegancies, considered by some, as marking a refined taste, equally as more important occasions—indeed, who need be ashamed of an amor ventris, after such grave authorities as Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Kichener, have recorded their opinions upon the subject?—to say nothing of the more modern essays that have been published, in the pleasing shape of some of the fashionable novels of the day, where the noble science of gastronomy, is treated in a manner, calculated to make numerous disciples.

Mr. Carew, accustomed to all the substantials of a farm-yard, rather than the luxuries provided by a London purveyor, not merely did justice to the excellent dishes now before him—but absolutely fed, as if laying in, at the least, a week's provender.

“I hope Mr. Carew, you have made a good dinner,” said Mr. Marchmont as he had in vain endeavoured to persuade him to take a second helping of black cock.

“Never ate such a dinner in my life—gad-zooks, Sir; I'm almost ready to burst—I could not eat another morsel to save my life.”

“That's rather unfortunate, for there's a dish coming, to which I


  ― 185 ―
shall have to beg your most particular attention;” and as Mr. Marchmont thus spoke, a servant entered, and placed before Mr. Carew, a silver cover, under which were at least two pounds of beef-steaks, dressed in the true epicurean style.

“Mr. Carew!” said Mr. Marchmont, “you will have the goodness to eat those beef-steaks, before you leave this table; but perhaps, as a preliminary, you will like a glass of aqua vitæ.”

“Eat these beef-steaks, do you say! why, Sir, I could as easily eat the dish itself—aqua vitæ, if you like; but no more eating for me, to day—you have already crammed me, just like one of Mrs. Carew's turkeys.”

“It is perfectly useless,” replied Mr. Marchmont, “to quote your own words, to oppose the will of the master of the house. I have experienced the effects of his fiat, at your own table; and I will appeal as you did to the company, whether or not, I am to be supported.”

“Chair! chair! support the chair!” was heard from all, with a hearty laugh, “Mr. Carew must eat the beef-steaks.”

“Surely gentlemen, you must be joking—you cannot be in earnest; there never was such a thing heard of, as forcing nature in this way,” said Mr. Carew, who scarcely knew how to understand the imperturbable gravity of Mr. Marchmont, compared with the deportment of the other visitors, who acting under no restraint, fully enjoyed Mr. Carew's evident confusion.

“I am so far from joking, Sir,” answered Mr. Marchmont, “that I beg you plainly to understand, that I insist upon your eating the whole of what is before you. When you are at Rome, you must act the Roman, were your words to me at the time you insisted upon my so forcing nature, as you call it, as to have occasioned me a serious indisposition. Your Devonshire laws impose drinking, nolens volens—mine, exact eating; but you may drink as you like. You cannot suffer more than you made me put up with at your own table, and when you have paid the penalty of your hospitality, by partaking of mine, then, and not till then, shall we be quits, for the indignity I have received at your hands.”

The Devonshire squire now found himself, to use his own words, “in a cleft stick;”—it was impossible to undergo his enjoined penance—his wish to retire from the table was refused—and he knew not what plan to devise, likely to appease the resentment that Mr. Marchmont gave him so clearly to understand, he harboured.—His own mistaken hospitality was now recoiling upon himself, with interest; nevertheless, he was a man of natural good sense and temper, and of kind feeling, when not obscured by the absurd customs, rendered by long usage so familiar, as to have almost become part of his nature.




  ― 186 ―

The folly of his conduct being thus brought home to him, he adopted, after a while, the only proper course left open to him. In few, but feeling words, he expressed his regret for what had occurred in Devonshire—accounted for it by having, as he said, sucked in such a mode of treating his guests, with his mother's milk—requesting Mr. Marchmont's forgiveness of an unintentional offence—and finished, by saying, “I have been taught a lesson this day, I do not think I shall ever forget.”

“No man can do more, Sir, than to acknowledge his fault,” said Mr. Marchmont, “and I am quite satisfied,” ordering the servant at the same moment, to remove the dish.

“Yes, sir, he can—he can amend it,” replied Mr. Carew; “the first thing, as the parson says, is to convince, and then to correct. I am now convinced, and I hope to be corrected.”

For the first time, perhaps, during many years, when either partaking of, or bestowing hospitality, Mr. Carew spent a sociable, rational evening; and, although each person was perfectly at liberty to do as he pleased, such was the conviviality that reigned, he found no difficulty in obtaining his own full quantum, and it is only doing him justice to add, that upon his return to Bibimus house, its former customs were wholly banished.

When Quintus related the circumstance to Emily, she observed, by way of moral, “There are many, who never think of others, until they sustain pain or inconvenience themselves.”

“That is amongst us men, you mean,” he replied, “for I really have often seen instances, where your sex have sought occasions for taking upon themselves inconveniences, in order to remove them from us.”

“I do not know that—and yet, now you say so, I think, upon the whole, we know more selfish men than women.”

“Much of that depends upon education and early habits; and sometimes, we men become spoiled by too much complacency on your parts. Thus by degrees, we assume as a right, what originally was only an instance of affectionate attention. But however, my dear Emily, while I have so sweet a monitress as yourself, I hope to have no occasion for such practical lessons as Mr. Carew experienced.”

“I never advise you any thing that I do not think would promote your happiness; but unless you admit me more fully into your confidence, than you sometimes do, how can I act the monitress you say I am? I wish you could be persuaded to have no secrets; but always tell me every thing.”

“I will in future, believe me.”

“And rely upon it, my dear Quintus, your doing so, will promote


  ― 187 ―
your own happiness, equally as mine; and perhaps, occasionally, it may also contribute to our mutual prosperity.”

But it is no easy matter to overcome habits of long standing; particularly when they spring from latent faults; thus, although for some while afterwards, he failed not to make Emily his privy counseller upon important occasions, he neglected by degrees, to refer to an oracle, that now and then offered a salutary restraint, to the sanguine and impetuous nature of some of his schemes; and, in process of time, this stumbling-block to their mutual happiness, still continuing to exist, produced events, which, perhaps, might otherwise have been averted.




  ― 188 ―

Chapter V

“Great Heaven—how frail thy creature man is made,
How by himself, insensibly betray'd.”

PRIOR

At this period, the terms of intimacy and friendship, that had long subsisted between Quintus and Frederick Campbell, were much strengthened by various circumstances; and although the latter agreed with most of his other relatives, in approving of the proposed voyage to the West Indies, it would have afforded him much greater pleasure, could any thing have been devised, whereby it might be prudently avoided.

But Frederick had been well schooled in the turns and vicissitudes of life, and it was ever one of his maxims, to do the best, according to circumstances, and leave the rest to Heaven. He therefore, did not seek to interfere with, or discourage his cousin's contemplated voyage, thinking it upon the whole, too advantageous in prospective to be relinquished, unless for something quite as good; but he was sedulous in searching for this something, feeling that, if fortunate enough to find it, he might then urge with propriety, the abandonment of the Trans-Atlantic mission. Frederick was a man of very extensive acquaintance —his circle comprehending the leading men of business of the City —the most celebrated Literati of the day—several who held high official situations—many distinguished members of the learned professions, and, being a keen sportsman, extending also into the country, among crack shots and fox-hunters. His cousin's advancement, and an endeavour to hear of something suitable to his attainments, was now the polar star of his intercourse with these different characters. With this view, he anxiously watched the turn of all conversations, hoping that something might arise, to promote his object; but it was some time, ere there appeared the least probability of success.—At length, a general election opened new scenes, and created new friends for both the cousins, and in the end, accomplished all that was desired.

Neither of them cared much about politics, although the general bias of their principles, so far as their writings shewed them, was decidedly in support of the “powers that be;” but they both inherited too much love of liberty to lend themselves to any of the clubs or juntas then in being, how nearly soever the opinions of such societies might have coincided with their own. Although the publication they


  ― 189 ―
had set on foot had its origin more in their own literary tastes, and as an amusement, than as a business occupation, the high fame it had acquired proved an inducement to continue it with spirit; the laborious or editorial part being conducted by a competent person, and the contributions of the two proprietors and their friends, being original articles only, on politics and literature. Of the two, Frederick was most decidedly the most powerful writer, but an incident now arose for the exercise of one or two of the principles of Quintus's mind and pen, and in the issue, gave a turn to the whole of his affairs.

The City had been long and ably represented by a Mr. Richard Heartwell Davison, who had uniformly supported the government of the day. In the course of the last Parliament, circumstances connected with some speculations in business had been attended by an unfortunate result, removing him from a state of great affluence to a comparatively humble fortune, but without affixing the slightest stain, either upon his honour or integrity. Yet this waywardness of the fickle goddess was considered by the leading members of a great political club which then existed, and mainly controlled the representation of the City, as a sufficient reason why they should withdraw their support from him, and transfer it to another. Thus, no sooner was the dissolution of Parliament made known, than, at a special meeting of the club, it was determined that Mr. Davison should be thanked for his past services, and quietly dismissed; and further, that a Mr. Dives—whose only pretensions were unbounded wealth, should be nominated as his successor.

It accordingly so chanced one afternoon, as Quintus was crossing one of the narrow streets in the neighbourhood of the Exchange, that he was accosted by a very active member of this junta, with, “Well, Sir, I can give you a little news; we have just had a meeting, and have determined that Mr. Dives is to represent the City, instead of Mr. Davison.”

“What! has Mr. Davison retired from Parliament?” said Quintus.

“Oh, we know nothing about that,” was the reply, “but what I now tell you is authentic, as I have just left the club; and be so good as to let your Editor properly announce it to-morrow.”

Quintus bowed and took leave; but, instead of pursuing his previous way, repaired to the Printing-office, and penned the intelligence he had just received, in a form to meet the public eye, at their next morning's breakfast table. But, he was like the prophet Balaam, of old;—instead of advocating the choice thus made, he altogether reprehended it, holding up the character and conduct of the late Member, in such glowing colours, that the promulgation of the club's decree, carried with it the demolition of its power and influence, and


  ― 190 ―
a flame was thus kindled, and not quenched, until Mr. Davison became triumphantly reinstated in the post he had long and honorably filled.

Frederick Campbell, after the charge had been thus sounded by his cousin, brought up the artillery of his able pen, in aid of the cause; and in the course of the farther proceedings, arising from this election, formed intimacies with several individuals, between whom and himself, a slight acquaintance only had previously existed. In this number, was a gentleman of the name of Johnson, whose father had recently died, leaving him a good landed estate, but charged with the payment of fixed sums to the younger branches of the family; and, subsequently to his coming into possession of the property, the value of land having become greatly depreciated, he found that, after payment of the fixed legacies, his own share would be very inconsiderable, and he was therefore anxious to invest what remained in some trade, by which his income might be improved.

He was a man of good natural abilities, and excellent temper; but his education had not been sufficiently attended to, having commenced under the care of uninformed parents, been continued under an ignorant country school master, and having terminated in such rustic polishing as could be picked up in a village thirty miles from town, varying the scene between a few sporting gentry, his own corn-fields, the clergyman of the parish, a circulating library, and a few country belles, at the monthly winter assemblies. But Frederick's ear, ever upon the alert, heard enough, and his eye, ever vigilant, saw enough to lead him to think, that an opening was here presented, which, if judiciously followed up, might preclude the necessity of his cousin's leaving England. All the information he could acquire with respect to Mr. Johnson, induced the opinion that he was a person, between whom and Quintus a valuable connexion was capable of being formed. He possessed property, honor, integrity, and an amiable disposition—but knew nothing of business. Quintus was acknowledged to be quite at home in the management of an extensive concern, but had little property. It only therefore, remained to be seen, whether or not their mutual views could be so met, as to make them useful to each other.

In this state of things, the two cousins being together one morning, Frederick observed, “I don't more than half like this West India affair of your's, Quintus. If any thing, even of less apparent advantage offered, would you relinquish it?”

“In one minute would I. I would rather stay in England, upon a mere trifle, than leave the many kind friends I have at home; but only look at the alternative, even between this employment and doing nothing, as at present.”




  ― 191 ―

“I have considered all that, and should not have hinted at a change, unless I had seen a prospect that something might be accomplished. I am not at liberty to say much at present, only do not close your engagement for a few days, if you can manage to keep it open, and in the mean time, say nothing of what I have mentioned.”

But Quintus was too ready to let Emily see that he had profited by her lessons respecting concealment, to suffer an occasion like the present to be withheld from her knowledge; it being not only agreeable to himself, but one which he knew would be equally so to her; and besides, his usual sanguine turn of mind would not allow him to contemplate a difficulty in the way of its entire accomplishment. He therefore did not strictly attend to his cousin's injunctions, but eagerly sought his wife, with the view of imparting, in its best colouring, what had been said to him.

“Which would my little wife like best—to have me stay at home with a couple of hundreds a year, or be at Jamaica with five times that sum?”

Emily knew her husband's countenance so well, that she saw something agreeable had occurred, the moment he entered the room —and immediately guessed by his words, part of his intended communication. “You know, as well as your little wife, which she would like best—but come now—tell me every thing at once—for I am sure, you have something better in view, than this vile Jamaica—I can always tell by the way you put your mouth, when you have good news—but mind, you tell me every thing.”

He was quite as happy in relating, as she was in listening to, the substance of the conversation he had held with Frederick; and when he ended, she said, “I am sure I shall love Frederick Campbell, as long as I live; how very, very kind he has been.”

“Yes, he is very kind; but we must not be too sure, you know—there's many a slip, 'twixt the cup and the lip, you sometimes say.”

“Well! this from you, Quintus, is excellent; but I'll go, and see him myself, this very minute; and I know we shall be able to settle every thing.”

“No, my Emily, you must not do that—it cannot possibly produce any good, nor, can it make him more inclined to serve us, than he is already; and besides, he might not be pleased; as, he particularly desired me to say nothing about it at present.”

“He did not mean, you were not to tell me—but you know, you can never avoid communicating every thing you hear, and what he said, was in allusion to that habit; and against which, you have been often cautioned—however, I will stay till to-morrow, and then we will go together, and call upon him—but do not let the opportunity slip upon any account.”




  ― 192 ―

“Not unless the arrangement should be impracticable—but you would not have me give up a certainty, upon the first blush of an uncertainty, would you?”

“Why, to tell you the truth, my acquiescence in the West India scheme, is quite a forced one, and I am sure, we should be much happier, even upon a more humble scale of living, if you were to stay in England. You do not know, how many things I can do, towards making a small income go a great way; and I would infinitely prefer such a trial of my skill, than to be separated from you.”

“Well! my dear Emily, I can only assure you, my reluctance to be parted from you, is quite equal to yours; and, if any prospect of advantage, although remote, be held out, by Frederick's plan, I will immediately relinquish the other engagement.”

“You cannot think, Quintus, how truly happy you have made me. I was miserable, although I said little about it—but now, you have relieved me of a most distressing load.”

When he next saw his cousin, he learnt that, Mr. Johnson gladly entered into the idea of forming a partnership, upon the basis of his finding capital and Quintus, knowledge of business; and several important preliminaries were forthwith discussed and settled. He next lost no time, in resigning the West India engagement, and once again, had a fair prospect of becoming, what in many respects he was well qualified for, a leading man of business. But, notwithstanding this apparently happy change, was hailed by his friends, as most auspicious; notwithstanding it converted the anxious brow of his Emily, into its usual seat of smiles and sweet contentment, perhaps nothing, more unfortunate for a man, many of whose incipient buds of character, decidedly needed repressing, rather than being brought into activity, could have happened. The course of this tale has already exhibited Quintus as a person, endowed with mixed qualities. His good ones, aided by excellent abilities, had procured him the love and esteem of his friends and relations—had enabled him, to acquire a thorough knowledge of business;—equally distinguished for strict integrity, as for tact, application, and industry. In matters of finance, he had evinced peculiar cleverness—both under his early friend and benefactor, Mr. Thoroughgood, and during the continuance of his late partnership. His social qualities and correct deportment, had, previously to his marriage, opened the door to him of many respectable families, and finally obtained for him a wife, in whom were centred—

The joys of Heaven, here on earth.”

one who,

Should two gods play some heav'nly match,
And on the wager lay two earthly women,



  ― 193 ―
And she be one,—there must be something else
Pawn'd with the other; for this poor rude world
Hath not her fellow.”

He had, besides, other advantages. He had several active and zealous friends, who, either upon his own account or Emily's, were constantly seeking occasions to serve and oblige him. He was much beloved by his wife's relatives, who invariably treated him as one of themselves; and it had no inconsiderable share in strengthening him in the estimation of the world, that persons of so high a moral and religious character as the Cliftons, so well brought up, and such patterns in all the relations of life, had conceived of him the opinion, which their conduct manifested.

Emily's eldest brother was a very superior young man; that which, during his youth, had distinguished him from many of his associates, had ripened into a high principle of rectitude, never allowing him to look at any thing, but through the glass held up by virtue. Vice, however pleasantly attired, still appeared to him in its native deformity, and by constantly avoiding its wiles, he became worthy the parents to whom he owed his existence. Some of her sisters had grown up charming, agreeable young women, proving well informed sensible companions, and affectionate relatives; and to crown the measure of his domestic felicity, their only child Olivant, was a boy of great promise, inheriting his mother's temper and disposition, displaying superior talents, and enjoying firm, robust health. What then, it might be supposed, was required to constitute Quintus, the envy of the little orb, in which he moved? Unfortunately, nothing but the eradication of certain weeds, which at first mingling in his heart like tares among wheat, were being matured and ripened by circumstances, that had but too genial an influence on their growth, enabling them to reach a height, which eventually choked the better plants, and were not eradicated, nor was the soil of his mind restored to its proper state, until it had undergone a severe ploughing by the hand of affliction, and a long and painful fallow, by a separation from all that was dear to him.

Enough has been said to mark him as impatient of restraint or controul; and the success, that upon the whole, had attended him through life, had rather tended to increase, than diminish this failing, inducing in him a self-sufficiency, that sometimes manifested itself with petulance, if he were opposed in any of his projects.—He was extremely attached to his wife, always treating her with kindness and affection; and yet,

So it falls out,
That what we have, we prize not to the worth
While we enjoy it,




  ― 194 ―

So it was with him—he liked not the sway she had acquired over him, by her mildness, good sense, and amiable temper; and rather than be subjected to her prudent advice, in opposition at times to his own will, although her words were couched in the most honied form of language, practised too often with regard to her, a subtilty and concealment, which engendered many bad consequences. Had he been placed, where a wholesome restraint could have curbed the ambitious restlessness of his nature, so as to have checked the gigantic views that he constantly entertained, he had qualities both of the heart and head, capable of marking him as a valuable member of society—but, it was not to be—his destiny had been foretold, as a chequered one, and he was now approaching the eventful era, which had drawn from the Sybil, the words, Beware! Beware!

So soon as all necessary arrangements were completed between Quintus and his new partner, the Cliftons removed to a small village, in the neighbourhood of town, occupying a house sufficiently large to admit Quintus and Emily as inmates—a plan that had proved extremely agreeable to both parties, since it had been first adopted, under the expectation of the West India voyage. The spot they selected had much to recommend it in point of rural scenery. It was situate just on the skirts of a range of overhanging woods, which formed part of the domain of a high titled nobleman, whose park afforded an endless variety of agreeable walks and rides. On the other side of the house, ran a beautiful trout stream, which was approached through a well laid out garden and shrubbery, or as it was commonly called, “The Wilderness,” on account of the rugged nature of some of the declivities with which it abounded, and which had given ample employment to the hand and taste of man, towards making them easily accessible by well turned angles, and other similar means of subduing the wildness of the spot. At a little distance to the left, and discernible only from the house through some openings of the trees, with which the meadows on the opposite side of the brook were studded, was a small waterfall, and close to it a neat cottage, attached to a mill, whose never ceasing clack could be heard sufficiently plain only, to give the place the additional interest, that ever belongs to active industry. In the contrary direction, the stream continued to make its way through several rich cow pastures, meandering in a thousand different shapes, until it was entirely lost to the eye between some lofty cliffs, that were clothed to the very summits with brushwood.

Here, for a time, Quintus and Emily enjoyed more real unalloyed happiness, than had ever before fallen to their wedded lot. He was delighted to find her taste and inclination, equally gratified by a country life, as his own. He was in town at his business very early


  ― 195 ―
each morning, always returning in the afternoon, and no greater treat could await him, than to see his wife clad either for a ramble through the woods, or for their pleasurable toil in the garden, or more frequently, ready to take a survey of the little farm-yard, attached to a few acres of ground belonging to their residence, which he took great delight in cultivating.

Quintus thought she never looked half so pretty or interesting, as when thus employed. She, on her part, observing her husband's fancy to consist in such pursuits, entered into them with an energy particularly agreeable to him, and he was surprised to see with what ease, the elegant, accomplished Emily Clifton that once was, sobered down into what she was laughingly called by her sisters, the “notable farmer's wife.”

The village society comprehended several pleasant, respectable families. It is true, the late hours and splendid gaiety that mark the visiting circles of large towns, were not to be found there, but in their place, the quiet pool of quadrille, or rubber of shilling whist, or the merry smiling faces of a few young people, at a piano forte hop, enlivened by an occasional song or duett between the dances, and terminating by an adjournment to a well covered sideboard, where equal regard had been paid to substance, as elegence, were more than ample compensation for the absence of the nothingness, that is met with in fashionable routs.

There were two or three characters in the village, who sometimes afforded Quintus amusement, at their little sociable meetings. He had read and seen enough to be au fait at most subjects of conversation, and took equal pleasure in discussing grave theories with some of the elders, as in indulging in more lively strains, with those nearer his own age—was tolerably able to maintain, whichever side of the argument he chose to adopt, in politics, theology, or metaphysical disquisition—in a word, possessed a sufficient smattering of general knowledge, to enable him, when his humour so led, to play an agreeable part in company.

Dining one day with a retired sea Captain, who, in calm retirement, was enjoying the evening of a long life, whose morning had been passed with honor to himself, in the service of his country, the old gentleman afforded some entertainment, by his manner of lowering the vanity of a smart, dashing young man, who had lately left the University. This young gentleman was gifted with a remarkably fine, melodious voice, which had been cultivated with great care and diligence, deservedly obtaining for him, the reputation of being a first-rate amateur singer. But, lucklessly sometimes for his auditors, if once his notes were set a going, he knew not when to stop; nor would he take a moderate rebuff;—but anxiously seized any little


  ― 196 ―
break in the conversation, with, “You admired the last song I gave you—but there's another by the same composer, infinitely superior,” and, allowing no time for reply, away he would at once flourish. This habit, had been noticed to his disadvantage, at one or two parties, where he had been present; and the old captain was determined, as he observed to one of his neighbours, “to give him a broadside, should make him dowse his colours.”

With this intention, advantage was taken of the present opportunity. Some time after the ladies had withdrawn, and upon the mention of singing, the old gentleman beginning to be apprehensive, lest the due course of the bottle might be impeded, by a flight of crotchets and quavers, filled his glass, saying to his friend on his left, “Come, Sir, pass the bottle—I hope you think this wine doesn't need a shoeing horn—it's been all round the world.—I remember in my younger days, there was nothing like a flash song, or a good sentiment for filling the glasses; or as a shoeing horn, as we used to call it; but none of your do, ri, mi's, and your fa, la, la's for me.—Give me a plain John Bull song with a jolly chorus. Eh! gentlemen! what say you?”

“That sort of singing is I believe, nearly exploded from good society,” said the fine singer. “It might have done very well once; but I apprehend is now chiefly confined to very different circles. Italian music is now generally preferred, I believe.”

“Then give me the circles,” replied the captain, “to which my sort of singing is confined.—Why, I think your Italian music at times, a perfect bore.—I remember when I was cruising in the Mediterranean, in the year 48, there was one of the mids of our ship, who was a first-rate songster.—By old Harry, how he could shake and flourish! The president of our mess, rather encouraged the chap, as it helped to stop the circulation of the bottle, which was just the thing he liked, and we, disliked. Well, we were determined we'd clip my songster's wings—and one day, just as he had finished the first verse of a song, and I knew, there were two more to come, I roared out, “a d——d fine song that, and very well sung; the conclusion is particularly fine,” laying a strong emphasis on the word conclusion—this however, had no effect.—But we had the other two verses—although I repeated the same experiment, at the end of the next verse. I then tried him on another tack; “you sung that song, uncommonly well Mr. A—a—a—very well indeed—particularly well,” said I, “but, did you not—did you not, hear it sung by Jones at Goodman's-fields theatre—your style is very much like his.—I mean Jones who is sometimes admitted upon the stage, to make one of a chorus. I think you must both have been taught in the same school—do you know Jones?” My gentleman snappishly answered,


  ― 197 ―
no!—upon which, I resumed, “perhaps you were taught by Angelino,” who was at that time a celebrated singer. “No, Sir,” still more snappishly than before, whereupon, I drew myself up in the most erect form possible, and said, very pointedly, “So, I thought.” This dose, twice administered, cured our songster, and we were never troubled with him afterwards.”

After the old gentleman had finished speaking, a short silence ensued, but conversation was presently resumed, and continued for some little time with spirit.—At length, one of the company requested the young songster to favor them by a display of his really musical talents. His good sense was not however, so obscured by his vanity, as to have prevented him from perfectly comprehending the old Captain's meaning, and he declined, observing with a constrained smile, in the words of Terence—

  “Num tu ludis nunc me?

“Well gentlemen,” said the Captain, “if I have been unfortunately the means of depriving you of a song, I am at least bound to endeavour otherwise to entertain you. I'll try your skill in deciding the merit of a bonne bouche, in the liquor way, which I reserve for very choice occasions, and whoever can tell what it really is, shall be rewarded by as much of it, as he can stow away at a sitting; or come, I'll hold either of you a wager, that the best judge of wine now present, shall fail to decide, what it is I give you.”

Presently, a servant introduced upon the table a bottle, the contents of which were somewhat paler than Madeira, and the flavour singularly rich and luscious.—One called it one thing—and another, another—all agreeing, that its excellence could not be surpassed; but one of the guests, who happened to be a wine merchant, would not allow its pretensions to superiority, to pass without contending for the palm, on behalf of some wine, that he said was in his own cellar, and the argument being once started, was rather supported by two or three others, who expressed a similar opinion in favour of some other wine, they had elsewhere tasted.

“Nothing like close quarters,” said the Captain, “none of your long shots for me—a dinner for the company that the majority of any three persons you shall name, excepting those now here shall pronounce that I can tickle their palates in the liquor way, better than you can.”—The bet was forthwith accepted—the time for its decision fixed, and the judges named—one of whom was to be a boy, ten years of age—another, a man of thirty, and the third, sixty. At the appointed day, the wager was unanimously decided in favour of the Captain, who thereupon acquainted the parties, that what he had given them, was neither more nor less than Devonshire cider,


  ― 198 ―
made from a superior sort of red streak pippin, adding, that several years ago, it had been sent to him as a present from a gentleman, who resided in that county, when he bottled it, pouring into each quart, about three parts of a wine glassful, of very fine cognac brandy.

There can be no doubt, judging by the result of this, as well as many other experiments, that, could prejudices be conquered, the real merits of some of the native productions of England, compared with foreign importations, would be highly prized; but, fortunately perhaps, for the reciprocity of nations, it has ever been so much the fashion to esteem articles less, according to their real pretensions, than to the adventitious circumstances that have attended their growth or manufacture, that many which are indigenous to England, have to seek other climes, in order that they may be duly appreciated.

It was by mingling with a small, but select society, formed of friends and neighbours, and by devoting much of his leisure to such rural pursuits, as were presented by the occupation of a good garden, and two or three small fields, that time now flew with rapid wings. His connexion with the press still continued, but it had latterly demanded more attention, than was compatible with his present occupations. Frederick Campbell too had experienced the same thing; and thus they each found, that it was impossible without doing an injustice to other, and more important pursuits, to continue to their literary productions, any of the life and spirit, by which they had been distinguished. They were originally undertaken, as is elsewhere said, chiefly as an amusement or recreation—and no sooner did they cease to preserve this character, and bid fair to prove encroachments upon ill-spared time, than they resolved to discontinue them. This determination was no sooner formed, than acted upon, by announcing to the public, in a manner equally expressive of the temper of both parties, as playful, in its style and language, that, having originally entered the field of literature, to please themselves, the same good reason led them now to retire from it;—that although they had received advantageous offers for their publication, the same motives that would prompt a kind master, to indulge with a brace of bullets, the favourite hunter, who had for several years carried him with pleasure, safety, and reputation, rather than devote him by sale, to the chance of starvation and drudgery, as a hackney coach horse, had determined them to vote it a glorious death, instead of risking for it, an inglorious existence. “Aut vita libera, aut mors gloriosa,” was the family motto of one of the two; and, as they could no longer be sure that the free and independent line of conduct, by which their favourite had been characterised, would continue under a change of proprietors, they would not suffer the consideration of filthy lucre,


  ― 199 ―
to compete with its reputation, and therefore consigned it to the “tomb of the capulets.”

There are few modes of accomplishing our pilgrimage upon earth, more conducive upon the whole, to real felicity—if we could only be brought properly to understand the term—than the path now trodden by Quintus and Emily. Let any one, who has received a tolerable education, compare the substantial bliss that attends a rural life, passed in the midst of kind relatives and sociable neighbours, with any of the light and trifling enjoyments of the world of fashion, and the round of gaiety to be found in cities, and he will at once admit the justness of this remark. In the summer, there was a never-ending source of pleasure, in observing the works of nature, and the constantly varying face of the landscape—in watching the progress of farm and garden operations—and in instructing by illustration, the opening mental powers of an amiable child. In the winter, exchanging these out-of-door pursuits, for reading, music, and other amusements, time glided onwards with them, in an equally rational manner, being ever inseparable companions, excepting only, during the hours set apart to business; and which always rendered the return home, the more agreeable. If Quintus came from town, fatigued and worn, with his morning's employments, what, so likely to cheer and recover him, as the attentive kindness of his Emily, while she sat, amusing him, by relating the occurrences of the forenoon? If he were disposed for a walk, where could he find any companion, so agreeable?—one so ready to take whatever direction seemed most pleasing to him, and to beguile the way, by innumerable displays of sweetness and good temper? If he had been exposed to inclement weather, he was certain to find every thing ready that his comfort or necessities required. In the preparation for his meals, his taste or appetite, was always consulted. If he returned in an ill humour, arising from the vexations of trade, one of her smiles was called forth to dispel the cloud which overcast his features. If he had been pleasingly excited, she would at once divine it by his countenance, and fully enter into, and reciprocate his happiness.

Thus was it with Quintus and Emily, during the chief part of their residence at the village of Mapleton; but such was the restlessness of his disposition, that these joys, pure and tranquil as they were, lost much of their zest, by their constant fruition; and he at times exhibited an inclination to fall into the same sort of society, that had formerly occasioned Emily, so much mortification and regret. Literary pursuits were no longer an excuse, by which, occasional absences from home, were sought to be palliated—but it is an old and true saying, “where there is a will, there is a way,” and unhappily for Quintus, his inventive genius was never at a loss, to frame some


  ― 200 ―
cause why, it was not only expedient but highly necessary, that he should go here, or stay there, when, had the naked truth been developed, his own inclination was oft the ruling spring of action. Notwithstanding these shades, however, he continued to preserve a high reputation with the world, and to be much beloved by his relations. To servants and workmen he was always kind and generous—scarcely indeed enforcing sufficient obedience to ensure, at all times, full justice to the business in which he was engaged; but, on the other hand, he was hasty, and easily excited by trifling acts of inattention, or carelessness; pettish, yet seldom retaining anger beyond the moment; but upon the spur of the occasion, being sometimes not under that command of himself, which might have been expected, from his birth and education.

Such, in point of character, disposition, and circumstances was Quintus Servinton, as he attained his thirty-first year. The germ had been long laid—the plants were already up and in full growth—and the day not distant, when the harvest was to be ripe for the sickle.




  ― 201 ―

Chapter VI

“Go forward, and be choked with thy ambition.”

I HENRY VI

While Quintus's domestic affairs were in the happy state, described in the last chapter, his commercial occupations had been rendered, by a train of unforeseen circumstances, a sea of trouble and anxiety. Various unexpected exigencies arose, one after another, requiring great skill, prudence, and energy. The first and last of these were freely bestowed, but not so, the other.

When the arrangements between Mr. Johnson and himself were contemplated, it was understood and agreed between all parties, that the capital to be invested would be ample, for a business upon a small scale; and that, beginning in this manner, their operations should be extended, as their means increased. But, two sunken rocks lay in the way of the vessel thus launched, either of them sufficient to impede its successful voyage; but striking as it did upon both, one after the other, what but a wreck, could be expected? The one was that, Mr. Johnson had over-estimated his means, and had engaged to provide a sum which he never did, or could fulfil; and the other, that Quintus's mind was much too capacious, to allow him to proceed in the slow, but sure manner, that had been hoped and intended. Unfettered, unrestrained, enjoying a tribute, kindly paid to his abilities and knowledge of business, feeling his own importance enhanced, by the recent treaty with regard to the West Indies, and by the homage paid him in the commercial world, his self-sufficiency increased, fully in proportion to his improved circumstances—he forgot all his prudent resolves and lessons, and indulged ideas, little commensurate with his means. It was his ambition to vie with older and larger establishments, and to accomplish this, he brought into play, great industry, activity, and perseverance; but darkened by art and contrivances, in order to supply the important essentials, of which he stood in need. Yet so well did he act the difficult part he had thus chalked out for himself—so adroitly did he manage all the intricacies of the net he was weaving, that he created for his house the highest degree of credit, and ably maintained it, through many cases of extreme difficulty.

Although Mr. Johnson had not been brought up to trade, he endeavoured from the first, to acquire a knowledge of its mazes, by close and unremitting attention; and succeeded, as all men of good natural abilities might, when determined to apply themselves, to any


  ― 202 ―
given point. He was rather younger than Quintus, and of a quiet, amiable temper. Had he been better educated, or had he possessed a portion of that self-confidence, which his partner could have well spared, perhaps he might have assumed and exercised, more influence in controlling the partnership affairs, than he ever manifested a disposition to attempt. If, at times, he saw things he did not quite approve—if he thought Quintus indulged too much in speculative purchases, or adopted too readily, any new-fangled doctrines, connected with their manufactory, his own inexperience and modest pretensions, rather induced him to presume his partner to be right, and himself wrong, than to endeavour to bring about any alteration in his plans. He saw that with men of great repute as merchants, Quintus was highly esteemed, and that among them, Mr. Rothero, his ci devant master, and subsequently steady friend, placed the utmost confidence in him; and this naturally added to his own diffidence, in expressing opinions, which were contrary to those of his partner. Mr. Rothero's friendship to Quintus, was not confined to the placing him upon the most favoured terms between buyer and seller, in many large transactions, arising from their relative conditions of manufacturers and importers, but so spoke of him to others, to whom he was less known, as to enable him to command an almost unlimited credit. Had it not therefore been for the caprice of nature, that in endowing him with good qualities, they were destined by being carried too far, to produce their own bane, the support he thus received, was sufficient to have remedied the defects of means, arising from Mr. Johnson's disappointment, in respect to capital; for it was his industry, application, and energy, that at first procured him these supporters, but being pushed to an extreme, bordering upon rashness, they became imprudent—nay, almost culpable enterprise; and elicited properties of the mind, of a nature to create eventual troubles, both for himself and others.

The perplexities and vexations, arising from carrying on a trade upon a scale disproportionate to his resources, now oft made him moody and restless; and, upon his return home from the cares and fatigues of the morning, Emily could frequently discern by his countenance, how troubled and harassed was his mind. Upon such occasions, her affectionate tenderness would have led her to draw from him, the cause of his evident anxiety; but the rebuff she was certain to meet with, although not couched unkindly, by degrees conquered her disposition to pry into his secrets, and she found out an easier way of dispelling his gloom, by assuming a forced cheerfulness, and by engaging him in such pursuits, as she knew were always agreeable.

What made his present course the more to be regretted was, that whilst it was forming for him, both present and future sorrows, the


  ― 203 ―
results of his business were probably less favourable, than they would have been, under a less ambitious, or extensive system, than he had adopted. Still at this time, there was nothing to reproach him with, upon the ground of improvident expenditure in his household, as he never repeated the fault which on this head, he had once committed. Living as he now did in country, quiet retirement, a moderate income sufficed to maintain a respectable, or even handsome appearance; and in all other respects, Emily had long discontinued seeking to enquire into his circumstances, acting upon the plan to which he had brought her, of making the most of what he placed at her command, presuming it could be well afforded.

Meanwhile, he was imperceptibly accumulating, other and new sources of trouble, in some of the associates with whom he passed part of his leisure hours; in the number of whom were one or two, little calculated to improve his general habits; being on the contrary, rather of a nature, to act the Zephyr upon sleeping embers, and to fan a flame, that had hitherto been dormant. Emily knew not however, all the cares that awaited her, and was ever the happy, cheerful handmaid of virtue, with its constant attendants, peace and serenity; but a cause of other description, about this time arose, to disturb her tranquility, their only child Olivant, exhibiting certain symptoms, for which he was recommended long, and regular sea-bathing.

Not only the cause, but effect of such a measure, was distressing to her. A separation, perhaps of months, from her husband, which must be the unavoidable consequence of her leaving home, gave rise to many disquietudes; but the only two alternatives left her, either to entrust her boy to the care of strangers, or to neglect the strongly urged recommendation of the medical men who had been consulted, were each so painful, that she hesitated not long, what course to take, and preparations were made for a sojourn of perhaps some months, at one of the watering places.

No sooner was this determined upon, than the pleasant recollections connected with their former visit to the south of Devonshire, led her to prefer again proceeding thither, rather than to any other place; and although Quintus could ill spare the time from his usual occupations, he accompanied the party; meaning to return in a few days, and safely arriving at their destination, a short while was agreeably passed in country amusements, when—forgetting the cares and troubles of an anxious trade, his native cheerfulness and sociability, shone forth with all their lustre—Quintus in Devonshire, and Quintus in town, being altogether different characters.

Calling one morning upon his Bibimus House friend, Mr. Carew, he was greteed with a characteristic welcome, and presently addressed, “Gad-zooks, but that Mr. Marchmont was a comical dog—


  ― 204 ―
never so put to, in my life; but ods my bones and boddikins, the chap has pretty well cured me, of bumpers or umbrellas. You shall stay and dine with me to-day, and see I've not forgotten my jobation.” Quintus was easily persuaded to accept the invitation, and shortly before the dinner-hour, the party was increased by the arrival of another chance guest, who often partook in this manner, of Mr. Carew's hospitality.

He was a retired sea-officer, and at present in charge of that part of the coast, to look after smugglers—the numerous bays and harbours thereabouts, affording many facilities for this unlawful, but seductive traffic. Mr. Carew invariably made a joke of such endeavours to protect the revenue, telling Mr. Searchclose that, so long as brandy was to be had, people would drink it—if it was good, so much the better—and that, so long as a few shillings per gallon could be saved, by purchasing of the smuggler, instead of the brandy merchant, a sort of compact would exist between the smugglers and the drinkers, which would bid defiance to all the efforts of the revenue officers.

A conversation of this sort was now maintained; Mr. Carew supporting his favourite doctrine, but which was opposed by the officer, who contended that, whilst he commanded the choice body of men he did, it was not possible for smuggling to be carried on with impunity; adding, “We have more wheels within wheels than you think for—we have spies in the enemy's camp, by whom whatever takes place, is made known to us.”

“I don't care a fig, for your spies and your choice body of men—ods bobs man, you don't half know your trade.—Come now—honor among rogues they say.—Step with me to my cellar, and see its present state. I'll lay you a dozen of old port, that I'll make a plant there, before to-morrow's sun-rise, spite of all your spies and your choice men, and yourself in the bargain.”

“Done,” cried the other, “I'll hold you the dozen of wine, you do not.”

“You must stay and see the fun,” said Mr. Carew to Quintus. “We can give you a bed, and you shall help to dispose of the bet, tomorrow.”

“Perhaps Mr. Searchclose may consider me an aider and abettor,” replied Quintus, “or may call upon me in the King's name for assistance—I should make a pretty figure, to be taken up for smuggling.”

“No, no, Sir!—no—we are upon honor, and if Mr. Carew win his bet, he shall enjoy his success without molestation—the disgrace will be mine; the reward, his.”

Mr. Carew soon found that, by leaving his guests to the uncontrolled enjoyment of their bottle, it circulated more freely, perhaps,


  ― 205 ―
than would have been the case with the present company, under his ancient usage; and retiring from the table for a few minutes, when the afternoon was half over, Mr. Searchclose and Quintus were left to themselves.

“Our host must be mad,” said the former, “to have wagered what he has.—I am always acquainted with every movement of the smugglers; and I know, that a boat ran in last night, with a quantity of spirits—but it is so closely watched that not one keg can be landed, without capture.”

“I do not understand your operations,” replied Quintus, “but I agree with Mr. Carew, in thinking you have formidable opponents, in the general taste that exists for the liquor, and in the charm attending the purchase of smuggled articles; however, we shall see by and by. But I really admire his boldness, in bearding you as it were, in the lion's den.”

“Mr. Carew is a friendly, hospitable man, as ever existed—but no conjuror—and I understand, that formerly, no person could sit down at his table, without being deluged with wine; and that he was cured by a whimsical anecdote—something about beef-steaks, or a loaded pistol—that he preferred, as most men would, the first, and ate, until he was so ill as to endanger his life—after which, he was kicked out of doors.”

Quintus smiled, as he heard the exaggerated report of a scene he had himself witnessed, and corrected his informant, by narrating the true version of the adventure. While thus conversing, their host re-entered, and joined with much glee in the laugh, that had been raised at his expense, during his short absence.

About eleven o'clock, the party being quietly engaged at a rubber, a distant noise was heard, as of persons shouting or hallooing. “Ah!” said Mr. Searchclose, “I suppose our boys are at work—hark! didn't I hear a gun?”

“Gad zooks, man, I am half inclined to think I shall lose my dozen of Port,” replied Mr. Carew. “It sounds as if there was a bit of a brush going forward, but perhaps 'tis only a false alarm.”

“No false alarm, Sir,” answered the Revenue Officer, “when my boys once give tongue. I'll wait a minute or two before I join them as we may chance learn something. I always leave word where I am to be found.”

Presently, a violent knocking at the door, was closely followed by the abrupt entrance of a man, who came to acquaint his superior, that the officers were engaged about a mile and a half from the house, in a hot skirmish with a large party of smugglers, who had been endeavouring to remove some contraband goods, under cover of the night. From the first moment of alarm, Mr. Searchclose had


  ― 206 ―
been evidently uneasy, appearing in momentary expectation of the intelligence, he had now received; and no sooner had he heard the tidings, than, with a significant smile of triumph, he arose, and bade the company good night in case he should not return, then quickly arming himself, hastened to the scene of action.

He was scarcely well out of hearing, ere Mr. Carew also withdrew; and in a short space, the sound of footsteps crossing the hall, as if the persons were heavily laden, was distinctly heard, followed by such expressions as “Take care! take care Jack—here! this way Tom!”—“mind you carry that case gently,” all spoken in under tones.

In about half an hour, Mr. Carew rejoined Quintus and the ladies, whose curiosity was highly excited, with respect to the issue of the adventure; for it appeared to them beyond doubt that, the officer had been drawn away, by a ruse de guerre, and that, Mr. Carew had availed himself of his absence, to win the wager. He said nothing upon the subject however, but rather seemed to imply, by the expressions he used, some apprehension with regard to Mr. Searchclose, having, as he said, “been too deep for him;” remarking, although with a half-suppressed smile, “ods boddikins—he's as cunning as a fox—there's oftentimes, no being upsides with him;” but all the time, it was evident by the turn of his countenance, that he knew for once, the fox had been trapped.

After waiting nearly a couple of hours, and hearing nothing further of the smugglers, the party retired to rest, and very early next morning, Mr. Searchclose returned, fatigued, and covered with dust —reporting his having had a severe scuffle, which had ended in making an important capture—“Just in the nick of time too,” he added, “for otherwise, I might have chanced to lose my bet; as I rather think some of the property, was designed for these quarters.”

“And who, do you expect, is the winner?” enquired Mr. Carew; —“but we won't waste time in talking—here, come along with me.” Thus saying, he led the way to the cellar, followed by Quintus; and it would have been a scene for Wilkie, to have drawn the different countenances of the party, as they entered, when, by the imperfect light of a small lamp, the large pile of packages that had been placed there, as if by magic, was discovered. On Mr. Carew's features, sat self-satisfaction, and that peculiar cast of expression which signifies, “I have been too knowing for the knowing ones;” Mr. Searchclose plainly manifested, by the bitten lip and fallen crest, that he was the prey of mortification and chagrin; Quintus, on his part, laughed heartily, enjoying the scene with the highest relish.

“I confess I have fairly lost,” said Mr. Searchclose; “but pray help to reconcile me to it, by letting me know how it has been accomplished?”




  ― 207 ―

“What! make you as wise as myself? No, no, my good friend, I know a trick worth two of that. Besides, you have spies in the enemy's camp, you know! a body of choice lads! and what do you want more? But I'll give you two words of advice—Beware counterfeits!”

Mr. Carew, when afterwards conversing with Quintus, let him into the secret, by explaining, that the boat referred to by the officer, as having been run in the preceding evening, was only a decoy duck, laden with kegs filled with water, and with other packages containing articles of no value,—that the whole manœuvres of the evening had been planned, and had entirely succeeded,—that the man who called Searchclose, away was in league with the smugglers,—that intelligence of the boat's expected arrival, had been purposely imparted to the officers, through the spies to whom he alluded, who were always closely connected with the smugglers,—that it was well known all the attention of the officers, would be consequently directed towards this spot, during the next night, when a boat heavily freighted with valuable commodities, had put in, at another part of the coast,—and that, having landed the whole cargo, one portion was deposited in one house, another in another, and so on, his own share having been safely lodged, in the manner Quintus had been shewn. As for the encounter between the smugglers, and the officers, and which had enticed Mr. Searchclose from the house, it was all a settled or contrived thing, in order to withdraw attention from the real scene of operations. Upon Quintus's enquiry, how the goods could be so expeditiously removed, from the boats to the places of deposit, Mr. Carew informed him, that one and all the neighbourhood, rich and poor, gloried in outwitting the revenue officers; and that, so soon as all the arrangements for an expected cargo were completed, it was usual for a sort of freemasonry intelligence, to be signified to those, whose assistance would be required; who, accordingly attended on horseback at the fixed time and place, carrying high panniers, into which the articles were thrown, and promptly conveyed even out of the way of suspicion. “I have lived many years,” he continued, “and have constantly noticed, that several things are merely sought after, because they have bilked the duties; and you may depend upon it, although perhaps, neither in your time nor mine, it will be found out, one day or other, that the only cure for smuggling is, to take away the temptation, by lowering the duties.”

Returning to town, from the relaxation of a week thus passed in the country, business resumed its seat in Quintus's mind, and recruited as he was, in general health and spirits, the ardour of his nature again exercised its full sway. During his absence, Mr. Johnson


  ― 208 ―
had applied himself with diligence to the counting-house, and now felt competent to undertake certain of its routine, which would have had the effect of relieving Quintus, of some part of the multifarious duties, that constantly demanded his attention. He determined therefore, to make the proposal, and sought an early opportunity of doing so. Quintus very readily entered into the idea of Mr. Johnson's rendering himself more useful than hitherto, but instead of receiving the communication as was intended, suffered the capaciousness of his mind, to get the better of his judgment, and at once chalked out for his partner, a certain line, which would considerably add to their already too extensively planned operations; and which he recommended strongly, observing in an emphatic manner, “It is the very thing for you, and you will succeed capitally in it.”

But this was not at all, what Mr. Johnson meant. His opinion, and it was a just one, was that, Quintus had already too much, both upon his hands and head. He willingly subscribed to the zeal and ability he daily manifested, but felt that, by dividing the labour, and relieving his partner of some part of his load, he should not only be well employing his own time, but would also promote their mutual benefit. Quintus, on the other hand, was in no disposition to relinquish any portion of his peculiar province, as manager—nor, to admit Mr. Johnson to the least interference with him. The gigantic nature of his schemes, was everlastingly showing itself, according to such facilities, as were placed, from time to time, at his command; and now that, Mr. Johnson had volunteered an active co-operation, he proposed to use it, not as he ought, towards improving what was already in hand, but immediately extended his views, urging upon his partner, an entirely new sphere of operations.

Mr. Johnson, for some time, maintained his position, and at length, yielded to Quintus's arguments, more in deference to his general talents, than upon conviction that his judgment in this instance, was correct. He thought, and wisely thought that, their affairs were at present upon too extended a system, and did not scruple to say so. Quintus met him by replying in a tone not to be misunderstood, “I grant we are rather sailing, according to the ballast we expected to have carried, than what we absolutely possess; but, who has the advantage of this? and who, the disadvantage? You know, you undertook to provide a certain sum — your not having done so, is all to your own benefit — the inconvenience is mine, and all I can tell you is that, as we have contrived to set the machine in motion, with a pair of horses, when we were to have had four, the only way is, to keep them in full gallop, so that, they may not feel their load. If you are prepared to pay up the remainder of your fixed capital, I will cheerfully


  ― 209 ―
agree to a change of system; but I can tell you one thing — we must go on at full swing, or stop, altogether.”

“But, cannot I relieve you of some part of what you now do? Any thing you like, so as to enable you to devote more time, to other concerns.”

“I am not aware that I want any assistance—I believe I attend to every thing, pretty closely—at least I try to do so, and when I find I have need of help, you may depend upon my saying so.”

“You appear to misunderstand me, my dear Sir.—I did not mean to imply, you wanted my assistance—I offered it, for our mutual good —and I only repeat my willingness, to take the labouring oar, in any manner, you think I can be of most service.”

“I perfectly understood you, and feel obliged by what you said—all I can again reply is that, I think you can materially serve us, by doing as I have before proposed, but so far as I am concerned, I fancy I can manage without any assistance.”

It was not so much the matter, as the manner it was spoken, that, sometimes gave to Quintus's expressions, a force and meaning, which the words themselves, would otherwise have failed to convey. He had a peculiar way of lowering his brow, and dropping his under lip, speaking with his teeth nearly closed, and with a very rapid utterance, when discussing an unpleasant subject; and he had a short, disagreeable way of closing such conversations, implying that, he held the opinions of his adversary, more contemptuously than they really deserved. It was the pettishness of his childhood, matured by age, and cherished by an overweening self-importance. None but his wife, knew how to manage him on such occasions; for she had early discovered this foible, and at the same time, had seen that, like a transient cloud, in the month of April, which is only seen to be dispelled by the sun's rays, so, one good-humoured smile, could instantly remove the frown, and restore the motion of the lip, to its proper place. But others, were not always inclined to adopt this measure; nor indeed, was it known to them that, the “bark was waur than the bite;” and they therefore, sometimes fancied Quintus, a worse tempered man, than he really ought to have been considered. Between Mr. Johnson and himself, previously to this conversation, there had scarcely been a discussion on business, since their articles of partnership had been signed; but the former, now saw enough to discover that, in order to remain upon their hitherto good terms, Quintus, as managing partner, was not to be controlled; and thus pursuing the subject no farther, consented to the view he had taken, of the question that was between them.

Thus again, the waywardness of his fate, created a fresh stumbling


  ― 210 ―
block in his path, when, had he been endowed with becoming self-knowledge, and could have looked at things with the eye of prudence, a road might have been presented, whereby he could have disentangled himself from the perplexities of his course—and have unravelled the labyrinth he had been forming, with blind infatuation; but perhaps, it may be doubted, whether or not, a destiny does not hang over us, and attend our thoughts, words, and actions—else, how are we sometimes to reconcile, what we every day see in the world?—Our ills come not of themselves, although we too frequently seek them, and invite their presence, in the most urgent manner. When they befall us, they are generally accompanied by some circumstances, that tend to mitigate their severity; and we find, by constant experience that, misfortunes, at which the mind shuddered, when contemplated at a distance, are easily borne, when they actually overtake us. On the other hand, pleasures, whereon we have dwelt, in anticipation, with feelings bordering upon rapture, shrink into nothing and are tasteless, when actually in possession.

After Mr. Johnson had mastered the new province marked out for him by Quintus, and which was a work of comparatively little time, the energy and attention of both, in their several duties, gave fresh life and vigour, to their commercial undertaking. It is to be admitted on behalf of Quintus, that he was not altogether unwarranted in his notions of himself, judging by the success that had attended his skill and address, in many cases of difficulty; and had he only known when to cry out, “Enough,” much impending misery might have been averted. But, the ways of Providence, are dark and inscrutable.—We may puzzle ourselves, in endeavouring to account for, why this thing is, or that, is not—all we can do, fails to solve the mystery, and the mind of man, tired and exhausted with conjectures, sinks at length, into an admission of the truly Christian principle, that,

  “Whatever is, is right.”

Had Quintus at this time, but understood the true value of circumstances, there were many, connected with his own situation, for which he ought to have been supremely grateful. Among them, his connexion with the Cliftons and more especially the plan that had been adopted, with respect to a residence at Mapleton, were abundant causes. Both Mr. and Mrs. Clifton, were rather practically religious, than theoretically so. Bred up, in the bosom of Mother Church, they continued through life, strict followers of its rights and ordinances, as well as of its precepts. Their zeal was not a fiery one, forbidding them to allow peace, righteousness, or salvation, to any, who did not think as themselves; neither did their belief comprehend such a laxity, as to permit them to apply to themselves the


  ― 211 ―
flattering unction, that, so long as they were professors, who regarded the outward and visible sings of Christianity, the state of the heart, was of little consequence. On the other hand, they did not consider religion to disallow the innocent enjoyments of life, but in a word, were what is perfectly understood by the term, liberal-minded Christians, thinking no ill, nor designing any. It was their daily custom, to hold a short devotional exercise, at which all the members of the family were assembled. Happily therefore, for Quintus, although it is to be lamented, that he was oft an unworthy labourer in the vineyard, the constant habit of hearing sound and wholesome truths, so confirmed that spirit of religion, which had been implanted with his earliest years, that it was never wholly effaced from his mind; and if, as was too frequently the case, he nevertheless transgressed in thought, word, and deed, he was never deaf to the twitchings of conscience. Emily's two sisters, next in age to herself, were patterns of filial and sisterly conduct. The eldest, had suffered from a lengthened indisposition, during which, she had acquired somewhat a serious turn of thought, although perfectly free from all obtrusive display. Between her and Quintus, the best understanding had always subsisted; and, as she was endowed with rather superior abilities, was fond of reading, and had a retentive memory, they sometimes indulged together in argumentative discussion, tending to call forth the knowledge and researches of each. In his readiness therefore occasionally, to consider what was agreeable, or what was expedient, as the rudder to guide his path, rather than what thorough rectitude would have pointed out, he could not at least excuse himself upon the ground, either of negligence on the part of his parents in his early education—of the want of having had good preceptors, between childhood, and his entrance upon life, nor at a later period, of having been drawn aside by those, with whom by marriage, he became connected; and although for a season, the good principles that had been so inculcated, and afterwards fostered and encouraged by circumstances, would have seemed now and then, to have lost their influence, could his heart have been looked into, in the manner he was capable of examining it himself, they needed only that he should eat the bread of affliction, and drink the waters of adversity, to resume the hold they once had on his mind. But our story must not be anticipated.

Not only Emily, but all her family, were equally adapted for the world, as for retirement. In the one, the ease and good breeding that ever marked their deportment, required them only to be known, to be liked and esteemed. Not confining the accomplishments of the female branches of her family, to light, superficial attainments, such as may be acquired at the hands of the dancing or music master, or


  ― 212 ―
the teacher of modern languages, it had also been Mrs. Clifton's aim, to have them taught all the attributes of a good housekeeper; —and whether at the needle, or in a practical knowledge, that might almost have rivalled the renowed Mrs. Glasse, they might challenge competition, with half the farmer's wives or daughters, of the neighbourhood. But in all such pursuits, and particularly in the arts and mysteries of their little farm yard, Emily was the most successful, being encouraged to them, by the evident taste her husband displayed, for whatever related to rural occupations. He accosted her one day, as he met her upon his return home, at the entrance to the village, whither she had come, anxious to impart some intelligence she thought would be pleasing, connected with their play-farming, and wearing a plain cottage bonnet, a small chamois leather tippet and coloured gown, all quite plain, “If I were to have your picture drawn, Emily, I should chuse you, as I now see you. You never looked half so pretty in your life, as in that dress.”

Always pleased when her husband was so, she drew close to him, hung upon his arm, and smilingly replied, “'Tis more because you like to see me busy about our grand farm, than any thing else, that makes you admire me in this dress. But I can tell you one certain way, to make me always look as I do at present, if that will give you pleasure.”

“And how is that, love?”

“Why, you yourself must always look, as you now do.”

“I wish I could, but I have not you always at my elbow.”

“And if you had, you would soon be tired of me. I have often told you, I could do much for you, if you would only let me.”

“I am quite sure of that, but you know Emily, clever as I think you, I always say, wives have enough to do to attend to household affairs, and only do mischief, when they travel beyond them. I do not think we can do better, than continue in our present course. You shine, deservedly shine here, my sphere is in town.”

“I know it is useless to argue with you, my dear Quintus, but a burnt child dreads the fire. I am sure you comprehend what I wish to say, but I will not pursue a conversation that may not be agreeable. Pray think of me when I am absent, as you do when I am with you.”

Emily had returned from Devonshire, with her child completely restored, about a month previous to this conversation, and her present remarks had more particularly arisen, in consequence of some trifling circumstances, that had passed under her observation, inducing a suspicion, but too well grounded, that, neglecting to profit by the past, her husband was again treading the thorny and vexatious path, of imprudent speculations. She was herself so free from guile,


  ― 213 ―
her mind was naturally so pure and holy, and all her habits so entirely unexceptionable, that the idea that any circumstances, could ever render Quintus more than unfortunate, never for an instant occurred to her; but he had, at this moment, his reasons for acutely feeling the expressions she had used. Expediency had too often gained in him a proselyte, although it is but just to add, a dishonest thought had never entered his heart. Still, his conscience responded to Emily's words, in a manner that plainly told him, he had departed from his once high ground; and, could she have unfathomed what was passing in his breast, the pleasant, smiling features he had been admiring, would have assumed a different cast. Bitterly he lamented, that he had secrets he dared not reveal to her, as they would have opened to her knowledge, the forbidden ground he was treading; but all he could do was to resolve that, he would at once retire from it. Yet, alas! the many entanglements by which he was encircled, the certain consequence of the inordinate grandeur of his schemes, made this as difficult, as to proceed was fearful. Pity, that this feeling had not been allowed more weight, at an earlier period.




  ― 214 ―

Chapter VII

“What, if it tempt you far beyond your strength,
Or lead you onwards in some horrid form
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,
And draw you to destruction? Think of it.”

HAMLET

Although the words so conveyed by Emily, created in Quintus's mind a temporary resolve, forthwith to reduce the disproportioned magnitude of his plans, well aware too, that the shifts and contrivances to which he daily resorted, were irreconcilable with his duty, he found to his sorrow, that to retire from his present station, was a work of no small difficulty—indeed, when too late, he discovered that only one of two alternatives remained at his command—either to continue his course, mending one gap by making another, or to stand still altogether. He now learnt to his dismay, that the thorny and dangerous steps he had been treading, opened only upon an impassable barrier on the one side, and a precipice on the other, along whose margin, just such a track was alone perceptible, as the experienced eye of the hunter can discover, when, in quest of chamois goats among the mountains, he is able to trace the footsteps of the animal from rock to rock, having every now and then, to leap across some small chasm, that would have interrupted his progress, had not his bold and daring mind, rose superior to all difficulties. At the bottom of this awful precipice lay a deep abyss, although concealed from immediate view, by the nature of the ground; and to encourage the hapless wanderer to venture upon a path, fraught with so many terrors, and from which there was no return, a few flowers and other attractions, greeted the sight upon his first approach, so as to excite hopes, and lead to the idea that, after a turning or two, which concealed the distant prospect, the worst would be over.

Just so, was it with Quintus, and ever will be with all those, who suffer themselves to be enticed upon the seductive course, that leads from thorough rectitude. Just so are the ways of vice, in whatever shape it attacks the heart; and by such flattering, such insidious steps, does it make its first lodgements in the human mind, leading it on by degrees, until offences both against God and man are committed, which would have been contemplated at first, if contemplated at all, with alarm and horror. But with Quintus, although imperceptibly drawn to the verge of this dangerous abyss, his good principles had


  ― 215 ―
hitherto withstood some of the effects, that too frequently attend such causes, as he had madly admitted for his rules of action; and notwithstanding many and many, were the struggles he had to encounter, his honor and integrity were yet untarnished. He followed but too many commercial men, in hoisting false lights, of a nature to give his house an apparent strength of materiel, which he knew it possessed not; but a pious fraud of this sort is so common, he never allowed himself to think he was acting improperly; and, while he could maintain his credit, and knew he was solvent, willingly admitted to his breast the flattering idea, that he need not be very particular, how his ends were accomplished.

Mr. Rothero, if any person, had a right to be fully in his confidence, not merely upon the score of long and intimate friendship, but, because from a kind feeling, he had voluntarily stepped forward as his patron, on two or three occasions of need, and had besides, oft rendered him pecuniary accommodation, and allowed him a lengthened term of credit, in the sale of merchandize. Independently of his extensive concerns as a West India merchant, he was a partner with several other gentlemen, in a wealthy mining establishment, who, having a greatly superfluous capital, sometimes allowed it to be employed by the managing partner, in negotiating running bills of exchange for houses, of respectablity.

Accident had introduced Quintus, to this gentleman's favoured list, and being backed by Mr. Rothero's recommendation, he soon held a pre-eminent rank in Mr. Trusty's estimation. He was a tradesman of the old school; who had risen by a long series of services as clerk, to become both a partner, and the resident manager; and thus enjoying the well-earned reward of his honest industry, nothing delighted him more, than to see young persons apply to business, with equal activity and zeal, as had marked his own career;—and, if they did happen to have a little more of the spice of enterprise, than, under the system of his own house, it had ever been in his power to exhibit, it is by no means certain, that such did not fully accord with his natural disposition, had it not been so restrained.

Quintus had the faculty of acquiring almost an intuitive knowledge, of the weak points of some persons' characters; and, if he had a particular object to carry, could adapt himself with acute sagacity, to humour their foibles. The plain brown suit, and bob wig of Mr. Trusty, and the formal stiffness of his deportment, did not escape him, as concealing much self-pride upon the point of life he had reached—a greater adherence to the outer mammon—and a rigid attention to mere trifles, neglecting often at the same moment, matters of more real importance. Thus he found little difficulty, by studying Mr. Trusty's character, so to ingratiate himself with him, as to draw


  ― 216 ―
forth such remarks as, “There goes something like a man of business —none of your slow-going chaps, who can't see things till they are pointed out to them—always stirring and bustling—none of your hemming and hawing about him—no splitting of straws—always to the point at once”—when he happened, which he occasionally did, to speak of him to others.

Gossip is ever too alive to catch one person's report of another, and forthwith to convey it to his ear, to suffer Quintus long to remain ignorant of these favourable sentiments. Mr. Trusty was too important to his finance operations, arising from his general command of money, to be held otherwise than in high consideration by him, and no sooner was he made acquainted with such expressions, than he exerted himself to improve the good opinion, so entertained of him. There was little difficulty in this, for Mr. Trusty was guileless as the dove, though not perhaps, wise as the serpent, and was not a little flattered and pleased, at the many nameless instances of attention, that were now bestowed on him. Little was it thought by either party, at the origin of their acquaintance, what would be the issue, in course of time.

The business of the house had been so pushed by the force of Quintus's character, added to the influence of several adventitious circumstances, none of which he ever suffered to escape him, that it extended to most parts of the kingdom.—In the list of their correspondents, were the names of some shop-keepers of long standing, at Bewdley, in Worcestershire, who, having formerly dealt largely with his early patron, Mr. Thoroughgood, had held a pre-eminent rank in his confidence and good opinion, since he had become a principal; and being punctual and regular in their remittances, had always been considered in the light of favoured customers.

It was therefore, with much surprise, that he one day, about this time, received a communication, by letter, importing that the party in question was insolvent, and requesting his attendance at a meeting of their creditors.

When he had finished reading it, he observed to one of his clerks, “This is of little consequence to us, as I rather think we are fully covered by their last remittance, and we are in time to stop their order. Run directly to the barge warehouse, and give the necessary directions—or stay, I'll go myself, and in the meantime, make out their account for me.”—When he returned, the clerk gave him the particulars he had ordered, by which it appeared that there was a sum of between three and four hundred pounds, for which goods had been supplied, and that for the whole, or nearly so, they were in possession of running Bills of Exchange; and, as he had succeeded in


  ― 217 ―
stopping in transitu, a recent farther supply, he made himself quite easy, and did not even think it worth while to attend the meeting.

A few days afterwards, he was accosted in the street, by a brother manufacturer, “Sorry to see your names, as fellow sufferers with Kitely & Co. How was it, you did not attend the meeting of their creditors?”

“We are luckily, pretty well clear. I was fortunate enough to lay an embargo upon a parcel of goods, worth a hundred and seventy pounds, which had only left our premises a few days ago, and for everything else, within twenty or thirty pounds, we hold securities.”

“Well, I am very glad to hear this, equally upon our own account, as yours, for you stand as their largest creditors.—I think it was £386 odd, besides a new invoice of £175. I know, altogether, you are in the list, for upwards of five hundred and seventy pounds.”

“Oh! nonsense, it is, as I have told you—and, as we are such trifling creditors, I shall do whatever the others wish.”

“Well, there is something very strange about it. Kitely did not attend himself, but was represented by a sharp, knowing sort of Lawyer, who came ready prepared with every thing cut and dried, and offered us a composition of eight shillings and sixpence in the pound. He stipulated, however, for a full and entire release, and there were two or three lines in his proposal, which struck me as so extraordinary, that I copied the words. They were, “and further, that this composition shall extend to all bills and other securities, bearing the endorsement of the said Kitely & Co., which, after the date of these presents, may become unpaid, or dishonoured, the same in this case, becoming the property of the individual, by whom, on behalf of Kitely & Co., the composition is offered.” And what makes the thing more strange is, that, you are the second person I have seen, whose name is in the list, but who tells me, he is amply covered.”

“What was done then at the meeting?”

“Nothing—it was adjourned for a week, to allow time for Kitely to attend, and explain certain things. Pray make a point of being there, for between ourselves, I much fear 'tis not all right.”

“I certainly will, and in the interim will have a little talk with the lawyer who wrote to me, for I cannot understand how he makes us out creditors, for any thing like the sum you mention.”

When Quintus came to reflect upon what had now been told him, his first suspicion was, that there was some collusion between Kitely and the parties upon the bills he held, the object of which might be to cause them to be, dishonoured, and that they were then to divide the spoil. He therefore extracted from his bill book, the particulars of each, with the view of making immediate enquiry, respectng all


  ― 218 ―
the names they bore. Prepared with this document, and with all other minutiæ relative to Kitely's debt, he directed his steps towards the court, where the lawyer, a Mr. Glossover, resided. It was not without some difficulty, nor until after traversing several lanes and alleys, that he succeeded in finding Refuse Court, where he was told, a brass-plate announced that Peter Glossover, repaired broken fortunes, by settling and arranging bankrupts' and other insolvents' affairs, with honor, secresy, and zealous assiduity. Knocking at the door, it was opened by a dirty foot-boy, dressed in a greasy livery, covered with tawdry lace, and in answer to his enquiry if Mr. Glossover was at home, was answered by, “Yees, zur.”

“Can I see him?”

“Please to give us yaour noame.”

“Tell him a gentleman wants to see him about Mr. Kitely.”

“Oh! Measter Quoitly—yees, walk thees way, zur,” and following his Zummersetshire conductor, he was shewn up a narrow, steep flight of stairs, into a room where sat Mr. Peter Glossover, surrounded by books, papers, parchments, and all the other parapharnalia of an attorney's office.

Scarcely deigning to return Quintus's bow, the repairer of broken fortunes darted a look of anger towards his footboy, saying, “Did I not tell you, you young scoundrel, not to admit any person, as I was particularly engaged?” Then turning abruptly to Quintus, “I beg your pardon, sir, but this uncivilized bumpkin cub, is always making some infernal mistake or other. I am waiting, in momentary expectation, of seeing a gentleman by appointment, and I told this young clodhopper not to admit any other person—as business, you know, sir, is never well done, if subject to interruption.”

“Thees be Measter Quoitly, zur!” said the footboy, who had patiently waited through his master's harangue, with a look of slyness in his face, as much as to say, “I shall have you presently.”

“Mister Devil, sir, go about your business, you young rascal, you —and mind what I told you, if any other person calls—and don't come near me till I ring the bell.”

“Yees, zur,” replied the footboy, and scraping back one foot, at the same moment that he nodded his head, holding between his finger and thumb, the straight locks that were combed and patted down along his forehead, he shut the door, and Quintus and Glossover were left together.

During this short dialogue between the lawyer and his servant, Quintus had time to study the countenance and general appearance of the former; and at the same time, to draw certain conclusions, from the mistake that had evidently been made, by his having mentioned Mr. Kitely's name, when he first asked to see Mr. Glossover.


  ― 219 ―
He saw clearly that, there was something in the affair which would not bear the light; and he accordingly determined to use much caution and circumspection, in his manner of treating the occasion of his visit.

Indeed, it required very little penetration to discover that Mr. Glossover, was one of those disgraces to an honorable profession, through whose means, applying the law to its worst purposes, the swindler, the dishonest bankrupt, and fraudulent tradesman, is effectually enabled to commit every species of roguery. Having acquired a sufficient knowledge of the quirks and quibbles, that encompass our code of jurisprudence, rendering it possible to frustrate the best intentions, by every species of dishonorable delay and contrivance, he was able to acquaint such characters, how far they may safely go; had attained that sort of reputation among them, as to cause him to be constantly resorted to, when their affairs became desperate; and, was still further recommended from one, to another, by its being well understood that, only give him his price, he would stick at nothing. Having by such means amassed a handsome fortune, he had ever at instant command, all the dramatis personæ, necessary to carry on every sort of slight-of-hand, trickery, or farce; nay, it had been whispered that, in the higher walks of crime, he was not deficient of means, whereby, in case of need, tragedy even, might be successfully acted.

His appearance, was of a piece with his calling. Below the middle height, his sharp, pointed features, well agreed with the sly and cunning expression of his small, piercing eyes, which, deep seated in the forehead, were capable, upon a contraction or knitting of the brow, of conveying a withering sort of feel, upon those, who encountered his gaze. His hair was thin and straggling in front, serving still more, to mark the cast of his features; his mouth, was more than ordinarily large, and its expression singular; and his chin was protruding, and unusually long. His dress, which was dirty, mean, and shabby, as was also, the furniture of the room, denoted, full clearly, that avarice and outward show contended in his breast, which, should predominate, and that upon the whole, the former held the sway.

“What can I have the honor of doing for you, Sir,” said he to Quintus, so soon as the door had closed upon the servant.

“I have called, respecting Mr. Kitely's affairs,” he replied, glad to find that, he was unknown to the lawyer. “Mr. Wilson requested me to wait upon you, to make a few enquiries, before the next meeting of creditors takes place.”

Mr. Wilson was the gentleman, who had been Quintus's informant; and it occurred to him, as there appeared some mystery relating


  ― 220 ―
to his own debt, that he was more likely to reach the truth, by this indirect manner, than, if he immediately mentioned his name and errand.

“I beg your pardon, Sir; I thought your business might have been different, for I have so many clients hourly, I never know who is next in turn. Here is the list of debts exhibited at the meeting, and here are the assets. You see, Sir, there is £3,768 14s. 3½d. in schedule A, which is a list of the debts, and only £961 11s. 3¾d. in schedule B, or the assets. Poor Kitely is a ruined man—but some of his friends are willing to help him a little, and have empowered me to make a most noble, liberal offer to his creditors. In the whole course of my extensive practice, I never met with an instance of such disinterested friendship, but the family being respectable, wish to hush up the affair as quietly as possible.”

“I do not quite understand you, sir—what is it that is proposed?”

“Why, to pay eight shillings and sixpence in the pound, upon obtaining a full release, and a surrender to the family, of all the unpaid securities that may here-after be held, by the several parties in schedule A.”

“What! do you mean that people are to give up securities, and take a composition of eight shillings and sixpence in the pound, in their place?”

“No, sir—no, sir. The case is, that Mr. Kitely has had a good deal to do with accommodation paper, or kites as they are sometimes called; and he has reason to know many of them will not be paid, as his affairs are come to a close. Now, what we propose is, that all such dishonored bills shall be given up by the parties, and that, they shall receive at once, eight and sixpence in the pound. It will be better for those who do so, than those who do not—as they may otherwise chance to get very little.”

“Are there many bills of that description out?”

“About twelve hundred pounds. Messrs. Servinton and Johnson hold three hundred and fifty. Messrs. Todd and Co., two hundred, John Smith, one hundred and sixty, the Bankers about four hundred, altogether, (looking at the same moment on a paper.) twelve hundred and thirty pounds fifteen shillings.”

“Well, Sir, this certainly is a very extraordinary communication. My name is Servinton; and it was in consequence of a conversation with Mr. Wilson this morning, wherein he told me that we stood in the list, as considerable creditors, that I have called upon you. I cannot say I am at all satisfied with your explanation, and I shall take other measures with Mr. Kitely, if this be the manner he has been robbing us.”




  ― 221 ―

As Quintus thus spoke, Mr. Glossover's mouth and features were drawn into a satirical smile, and he presently replied,

“Every gentleman is at liberty to do just what he thinks proper. As for Mr. Kitely, he is perfectly safe from you, or any other of his creditors—and my duty to him, as my client, will ensure his remaining so. I can only tell you, Sir, if you value your pocket, you will agree to the terms proposed—if you prefer revenge, take it as you can get it. I can tell you farther, that all the bills you hold, are not worth the paper on which they are written, excepting so far as Kitely's friends make them of value, by their offer through me. Some of the parties, I take it, you may find dead—others, more than doubtful—and others, you may perhaps have some difficulty in discovering.” He then paused for a moment, looked knowing, and drawing his finger and thumb across his chin, added, with a significant motion of the eye, and a most provoking sneer, “You doubtless remember the adage, ‘De non apparentibus, et non existentibus, eadem est ratio,’ and from hints that have been dropped, I will not take upon myself to say, how far you may find it realised.”

“How, Sir!” replied Quintus, “am I to understand, that we have first been robbed, and are now to be laughed at? I'll see what figure Mr. Kitely cuts before a magistrate, if this is to be the case.”

“Come, Sir,” said the lawyer, “look at the thing a little more coolly—as to taking Mr. Kitely before a magistrate, you must first act as you would towards a fish, that you would propose to dress for dinner—catch it ere you boil it; and even if you really knew where to find him, what other charge at present have you, than that he has been unfortunate? and this you know, Sir, forms no part of our criminal code, nor does it come under the cognizance of a magistrate.”

“If what you have told me, respecting the bills in our hands be correct, I think we have charge enough; and, as to finding him, I have little fear of that, after what passed here this morning. If your servant had not mistaken me for Kitely, I take it I should not have had an interview, by which so much has been disclosed.”

“I cannot but be flattered by any circumstance, that procures me the honor of a lengthened visit from you, Sir; but it is only candid to tell you, that if you wait here for a month, you will not see Mr. Kitely. I profess to assist persons whose affairs are deranged—and I do not so little understand my business, as to do things by halves. I certainly expect to see a person on Mr. Kitely's behalf, and hence arose my stupid urchin's mistake—but assuredly, he is too securely planted, to be come-at-able, by any person, till all his affairs are arranged. It is eight and sixpence in the pound, and an unconditional surrender of all future unpaid securities, or just what the


  ― 222 ―
creditors can get. I seldom tread a middle course, when I undertake things—and my clients have little cause to fear, I will not do my duty to them, after we once understand each other.”

During this conversation, which, having thus terminated, Quintus withdrew, Mr. Glossover had assumed and maintained that easy, audacious manner, belonging to a man, who knows he holds another in his power—a supercilious smile, every now and then, played around his mouth, particularly when he saw he had produced an unpleasant effect upon his hearer—the whole style of his speaking and gestures, being of a nature, little calculated to reconcile his auditor, to the intelligence he imparted. While every thing was yet fresh in his memory, Quintus determined to call, and relate to Mr. Wilson what he had been told, meaning also, to seek his advice as to his future course. It cannot be said, his communication greatly surprised that gentleman, and after listening to it attentively, he recommended that, in the first place, enquiry should be set on foot, with respect to the parties said to be upon the different bills held by Quintus, and afterwards to be governed by circumstances—but what much astonished him afterwards was to find the affair talked of lightly, by some commercial men of eminence, to whom he mentioned it; as they only replied with a shrug of the shoulders—“such things are of every day's occurrence, and doubtless a large proportion of the paper, that passes through the hands of all houses of extensive country connexion, is of the same description.”

“What! nothing but nonentities do you think?” said Quintus to one who had so expressed himself.

“Neither more nor less—the parties take care always to retire them when due, and thus preserve their credit. It is not improbable that the floating capital of this sort, throughout the kingdom, is some millions.”

“Then what would you advise me to do with regard to Kitely, if we ascertain, as I suppose we shall, that the bills in our hands are only waste paper?”

“To make the best terms in your power, and lose as little as can be helped.”

In the course of a few days, suspicions so excited, with regard to the names represented as drawers, acceptors, and endorsers of the bills in his possession, were confirmed by the result of his enquiries; and he thus ascertained, that a good deal was meant by Mr. Glossover, when he introduced the expression, “de non existentibus,” &c.

Happy would it have been for Quintus, had the loss he thus sustained, been all he lost on the occasion; but a new light broke in upon him, whereby thought he, “I can assist our finance operations, in case of need.” Moral offence, he considered, there could be none;


  ― 223 ―
knowing as he did, and could fully prove, that his firm was much more than solvent—besides considered he, “if our own credit be sufficient, as I daily feel it is, to make any purchases I choose, and which I can immediately re-sell, and thus raise money, the plan I now meditate will be equally effected upon our own credit—it is not necessary to make any false representations, in order to obtain credit, and I shall save a great risk of bad debts.”

No person ever yet perhaps, committed a first offence, without some contention with that small, still voice, implanted within our breast, by a beneficent Providence, serving, like a light-house or beacon to mariners on a dangerous coast, to warn them of their danger, and to point out the track, which may be followed with safety. But, the broad and open road to hell, is paved, presenting a gentle declivity to those who tread it; studded with allurements in every shape, likely to attract and gratify the senses, and ever teeming with the sin, that most easily besetteth us. When once expediency, or any other, save the most perfectly straight-forward mode of argument, is permitted to overcome and drown this small, still voice, the fate of the individual, is most unhappy. If despised, and neglected, this inward counsellor seldom attempts to offer its advice, or obtrude its influence, until, by subsequent changes in our lives, frequently, after many long and wearisome hours, passed in the school of adversity, its power is resumed. In some cases perhaps, it is even reserved for a death-bed, to become the means of reconcilement to this slighted, and neglected friend; but there are few of us, who, unless removed by sudden casualty, do not at some period or other, suffer acutely, from the chastisements inflicted by an upbraiding conscience. Had Quintus been endowed with more patience under advice, or with less of some of those active qualities, which, good in themselves, degenerated into vices, by being carried to extremes, no occasion of resorting to any systems of crooked policy, fraught as they were, with so many perils, would probably have been presented to him. It was not without much internal conflict—much mental deliberation, that he finally determined to use the knowledge he had now acquired, as a corps de reserve upon any emergency; but he sought to compromise the affair with himself, by many of those specious arguments, ever arising in his prolific brain; and more particularly by the resolve that, the power thus held, should not be applied in any instance, to promote his own private advantage, apart from the interests of the house.

Indeed, the peace and tranquillity, that pervaded the family circle at Mapleton, and the excellent management of Mrs. Clifton and Emily, in their several ways, rendered any increase of his expenses, not only unnecessary, but upon every account, to be avoided—as nothing perhaps, could improve their domestic comforts—nothing


  ― 224 ―
was absent, that the most fastidious could desire, although nothing was less known than waste, or extravagance; and nothing, like discord or disagreement, was ever allowed a place within their dwelling.

It was in this manner, and under this false and delusive compact with himself, that Quintus now entered that period of his life, which had been foretold as eventful, previously to his birth. The occurrence had been so long, and so entirely forgotten, that it was even unknown to most of his family, that he had ever been so pointed at, by the finger of destiny; but, had it been otherwise, and had it ever been attempted to have used this, as an argument, in enforcing advice, “A wilful man maun have his way,” says the old Scotch proverb, and judging by the most striking traits of his character, and especially, his contempt of whatever bordered upon superstition, it is more than probable, he would have treated the subject with derision, had it ever been so mentioned.

It was not without grief, that his father, who was still living in the enjoyment of health and strength, unusual at his advanced age, witnessed the dangerous course, to which his son's inordinate desire to emulate and surpass others, had drawn him. Quintus kept his secret so closely, and contrived always, to put so good a face upon his affairs, that his most intimate friends, had not the least idea of their real state. His father, in common with many others, deplored what they at times saw, little dreaming how much more cause there was for regret, could they have known what they afterwards discovered; but he had that peculiar mode of silencing the enquiries, which their solicitude on his behalf, would have dictated—was always prepared with so plausible an excuse for whatever occurred—and, where he thought advisable, so anticipated questions, by imparting in his own way, information which he thought likely to be sought, that he entirely succeeded in blinding people, and easily removed the anxieties, which his friends sometimes entertained; not however, be it understood that, after he had imbibed the perilous doctrine taught by Glossover and Kitely, he immediately rushed headlong upon the practice; for on the contrary, he regarded it, as he at first proposed, as a resource in cases of urgency; but the consciousness of holding so dangerous a power, by degrees wrought upon him to use less diligence than formerly, in maintaining in their full order, all the ramifications of his business, reposing too much reliance upon this new sheet-anchor, should he be overtaken by an unexpected storm.

When, at length, the barrier was determined to be passed, he was too good a tactician to purpose introducing any paper, of the sort described, among his regular connexions, conceiving private channels would be more secure, and would also more effectually attain his object; accordingly, his mind instantly reverted to Mr. Trusty;


  ― 225 ―
transgressors of all sorts, being naturally ever cautious cowards, until grown bold by success. In taking the resolution to add one more to the list of infatuated tradesmen, who, according to the authority of his informants, build their credit upon the shallow and deceitful quicksands of fictitious bills, his sense of right and wrong, told him the nature of the course he had adopted; but far removed indeed, were his ideas of the awful consequences, that followed in its train; and whatever quirks upon minor points arose in his mind, were promptly silenced by thinking, “We cannot possibly do any injury, because a solvent house is made liable by its endorsement.” Thus concluding within himself, he pushed forward his commercial occupations with energy and perseverance, and it was not long, until an opportunity occurred of making his Coup d'Essai in the hazardous line he had been contemplating; and to accomplish it successfully, was but too easy, for a man of his address and ingenuity.

Meanwhile, the skilful management of Glossover on behalf of his client, carried him triumphantly through his difficulties, all the creditors thinking it preferable to receive what was offered, rather than to chance the loss of the whole of their debts, under the idea of punishing a rogue; and within three months of the first notice of his insolvency, Kitely was figuring with redoubled splendour, in a shop of great magnitude. When, after some little time, all his old affairs were arranged, and he had nothing to apprehend, either from the amor justitiæ, or the resentment, of any of his former creditors, he had the audacity to boast that, during twenty years, his father and he, had successively dealt with Moonshine and Co., to the tune of ten thousand pounds annually; but finding the trade was becoming overdone by others, he had resolved to back out; and for this purpose, had consulted Glossover, under whose auspices, his affairs had been brought to their present happy conclusion. There can be no doubt that, up to the last, he was able to pay every thing; but, this roguish attorney, seeing the dangerous tenure of his client's life and liberty, contrived to ease him of a handsome portion of his creditors' property, as the price of his services.

The vortex into which Quintus was speedily brought, by the lessons he was thus taught, afford an appalling, a most terrible example to others, how they venture upon the same forbidden ground; but, let our story speak for itself.




  ― 226 ―

Chapter VIII

“Fate calls aloud, and hastens me away;
A shameful death attends my longer stay,
And I this night must fly from thee and love,
Condemn'd in lonely woods a banish'd man to rove.”

PRIOR'S HENRY AND EMMA

It was about a month after the fatal resolve had been so taken, that Quintus met his friend Mr. Trusty in the street, one morning, and was accosted by him, “I was on my road to call upon you. We hold an acceptance of yours, for a thousand pounds, in favor of Rothero & Co. due next Thursday, the twelfth, and if you wish it, running bills on discount, will suit us quite as well as cash.”

No man could be more on the alert, than he ever was, to catch at any prop, or support to the credit of his house, and yet to make things wear the best possible face. He always bore in mind the adage, about being, and singing poor; and although, at this very moment, he had been somewhat uneasy, respecting the provision of this very thousand pounds, it was not his policy to admit to Mr. Trusty, the full extent of the accommodation offered him. He therefore felt relieved of an anxiety by the communication, but instead of saying so, replied, “I am obliged to you—I scarcely know how we shall stand for cash on the twelfth, but I'll see in a day or two, and let you know.”

“It's quite immaterial to us how it is. If you pay us cash, we shall discount for some other house, and if we discount for you, others must go without; but I love to encourage young men like you, and so thought I, ‘I'll just step and name it to him.’ ”

“Then I will say at once, if you please, we will take up the thousand pounds by running bills. It may save you farther trouble, and I am much obliged by your having thought of us.”

When the twelfth arrived, he provided himself, among several small country bills of exchange of great respectability, with a fictitious note for five hundred pounds, the drawers and endorsers of which, were creatures of his own brain, having no real existence. Thus prepared, he proceeded to Mr. Trusty's counting-house, but was rather thrown aback by seeing the clerks only, one of whom told him that, Mr. Trusty had gone into the country for the day, and had left the thousand pounds bill with him for collection. Quintus enquired, if he had said any thing, respecting the mode in which it was


  ― 227 ―
to be paid, but received an answer in the negative; he then went away, promising to call again shortly. Knowing Mr. Rothero was a partner in the mining establishment, he went direct to that gentleman; and having explained his business, and repeated what had passed between Mr. Trusty and himself, a few days previously, requested his interference with the clerk, to empower him, to complete the arrangement. “Let me see what bills you have,” said Mr. Rothero. Quintus took from his pocket several, including the one composed of imaginary names, and submitted the whole to his inspection; the total amount, exceeding the thousand pounds he had to pay. After looking them all over very carefully, Mr. Rothero fixed upon the five hundred, along with others, of smaller value, and accompanying Quintus to the counting-house, directed the clerk to calculate the discount, and give up the other bill. The money thus raised for the occasion, was entered by Quintus, in the books of the house, as a loan, but without specifying from whom; and although for a few days, he was in a state of constant fear and trembling, nervously excited almost at his own shadow, and full of apprehension every time he saw his office door opened, his alarm by degrees yielded to the satisfaction, if it can be so called, that he derived, from having successfully accomplished his dangerous purpose.

Meanwhile, it cannot be said that he had attained any other of the ends he had pictured to himself, connected with the power thus used, nor were his peace or tranquillity of mind, in any one way promoted. Even his fire-side, which had never yet wholly failed in its relish, now lost much of its wonted zest, and instead of calmly enjoying the social evenings he had usually passed, taking part either in conversation, music, cards, or reading, as each in turn was the order of the day, his mind was like “a troubled sea, tossed to and fro, seeking peace, but finding none.” His only child Olivant, was become a boy, of whom parents might well be proud; but even his delightful prattle, and the unfolding of superior abilities, joined to an excellent temper, lost much of their charm, and the poor little fellow was not always greeted with the fatherly tenderness, he had heretofore experienced. Emily too, came in for her share of comparative neglect and coldness, each arising from the disposition to vent upon others, that dissatisfaction with one's self, which ever attends an uneasy conscience. Yet, by redoubling her exertions to please, she endeavoured to convert the occasional chill of his manners, into all their former most engaging habitude, never permitting him to have the least cause to doubt, her thorough devotion.

Considering, as she did, that it is the duty, of a wife to make home as agreeable as possible to her husband, she was ever planning some new expedient, to dissipate the gloom, that had now evident


  ― 228 ―
possession of his brow, and would constantly try to entice him into walks or rambles around the neighbourhood, rather than suffer him, as he would frequently fain have done, to shut himself up in his closet, and mope in solitude. In one of these strolls, accompanied by their boy, they were crossing part of the nobleman's domain that adjoined the village, when, at a short distance, they noticed a group of persons assembled, and apparently occupied upon something, that took all their attention.

Olivant, with a child's curiosity, had somewhat preceded them, and going up to the party, presently came running back, exclaiming, “Oh, papa! do come here—these men are finding water in such a droll manner you can't think. You never saw anything like it, 'tis so funny—do make haste, papa.”

Approaching the spot, they found half a dozen or more neighbouring farmers, who were looking on with great earnestness, at a man, habited as a better sort of yeoman, who was busily trimming a hazel wand. So soon as they joined the group, the man touched his hat and said, “Your servant sir! and yours madam! What! be you come to help me to dewster, my young gentleman? Well, wait a minute or two, and I will shew you all about it.”

“We really do not know what you mean,” said Quintus; “what is it?”

“Why, the duke thinks of building somewhere hereabouts, sir, and I've undertook to find out the exact place, where water is to be found.”

“And can you do that, by dewstering, as you call it,” replied Quintus, “although I am quite ignorant of your process.”

“Yes, Sir! this hazel rod will enable me to fix upon the exact spot, where either water or goods will be found.”

“What do you mean by goods?”

“Lead ore, Sir, or calamy, as we call it in our part of the country.”

“Well! seeing, will be believing—I cannot comprehend it,” said Quintus, “or what it is, you are going to do.”

The man, seemingly more intent upon the business in hand, than upon pursuing the conversation, merely replied, “You will see Sir, presently,” and then turned from him, holding in both his hands the rod, gently bent in the form of a bow. After traversing a certain space, backwards and forwards for some minutes, still holding the rod, he all at once stopped, and exclaimed, “Here, Sir, is either water or goods.”

Quintus begged him to explain, how he was enabled to speak with so much confidence, to which the man answered, “The rod never deceives one, Sir, when once you understand it. Whenever you are near a spring, or calamy, it will bend in one's hands, whether one


  ― 229 ―
will, or no.—Now Sir, just take hold of it, and try.—Not that way —here Sir,—like this;” putting it at the same moment, into Quintus's hands, who found to his great surprise, that it forcibly moved, whenever he approached one particular spot. The man continued to explain that, if a crown piece were put under any one of twenty covers, placed in a row, the rod, if held over each in turn, would produce a similar effect, when it came to the one, over the money; adding, that in the mining districts, the use of the rod is common; and that a steel rod, is perhaps better than the hazel one.

It was one of Emily's chief delights, to take every opportunity of conveying instruction to their child, and she particularly sought occasion for illustrating by example, the theories of whatever studies, formed part of his daily lessons. He had not yet been sent to school, but, under the judicious treatment adopted from his infancy, had made a tolerable progress in many rudiments of useful learning; and had besides, been brought up entirely free from the injurious consequences, that too often attend an only child. What was particularly pleasing with regard to him, was the desire to understand things thoroughly, which he always manifested; and the questions he now asked, respecting the relative causes and effects, of what he had just witnessed, almost made his father blush, to think he was unable to explain them as he wished. Formerly, upon an occasion like the present, Quintus would have been as anxious for the research, as ever could be, his enquiring child; but now, any thing demanding thought or reflection, was irksome; and to the repeated, “But papa, do tell me how the man knew about the water,” he could only obtain for answer, “Didn't the man tell you himself? Ask him again, if you don't understand it.”

“Yes, papa; but I want to know, why the rod moved in his hand, when it came near the spring.”

“I wish you wouldn't plague me with your questions, Olivant—I tell you, I know nothing at all, about it.”

“My dear Quintus,” said Emily, “why do you speak so crossly, to the dear child? Whom should he enquire of but you? and you used to encourage him to ask you every thing.”

“I don't care whom he asks, so that he does not bore me, with his questions, ten times over—I've told him fifty times already, I know nothing at all about it.”

“What is it, makes you so cross lately? Perhaps you are scarcely aware of it, but your manners to all the family, are very much altered; and it makes me quite miserable, to see it. Do tell me, if any thing is the matter.”

“No, there's nothing the matter, only I have so many things to think of, I am not always in a humour to answer questions.”




  ― 230 ―

“Well, but my dear Quintus, you might as well speak good humouredly, as in that short, touchy way. I am quite sure, there is no person who would wish to incommode you by questions, but you know how often I have besought you to tell me every thing that occurs, and it cannot be my fault, if I have not the power of rendering you assistance; pray therefore, do not speak to the dear boy, and to myself so unkindly—you cannot think how I feel it.”

“God knows, my dearest Emily, I have not a feeling towards either of you, but of the warmest affection, and you must forgive me, if I sometimes speak harshly, for I assure you I do not mean it. Come Olivant, my dear boy, your mamma says, we must find out why the sticks moved in the Dempster's hand, so let us go home, and try what we can make of it, by referring to the Encyclopædia, or some other books; for to tell the truth, I have very little attended to the laws or principles of gravitation, and am not sufficiently acquainted with the subject, to make you understand it without assistance.”

“Thank you, papa. If you will only show me where to look for it, I will try by myself, so as not to ask you more questions than I can help.”

“Never mind asking your papa, what you do not understand,” said Emily. “Something vexed him just now, but he always likes to attend to you; is'nt it so, Quintus?”

“Yes, Emily, when I have you at my elbow, to school me so prettily. But do not be afraid Olivant; always come to me when you want information, and we will do the best we can together.”

It was Emily's judicious management of her husband's temper, in such instances as this, that counteracted the tendency to increased peevishness and impatience, which the secrets he carried within his bosom, were well calculated to produce; for he was ill at ease with himself, and was therefore disposed to vent upon all around him, the spleen to which he was a victim. Little indeed does he who deals in crooked policy, know the burthen he has imposed upon himself; else, who, in their senses, would depart from virtue? The crisis that Quintus had been earnestly inviting, was now however, drawing nigh at hand.

One cold, bleak afternoon, towards the end of November, when the heart of the city was wrapt in one impenetrable fog, rendering day-light, little else than darkness visible, a particular errand detained him late, causing him to make a call at a distant quarter of the town. It being after his usual hour for returning to Mapleton, ere his business was completed, he afterwards repaired to an ordinary, where he dined, and where several gentlemen were already assembled at table.—Most of them were strangers to him, but with one or two he had a slight acquaintance, and among them with an


  ― 231 ―
Attorney, of the name of Gordon. The conversation was much as usual in mixed societies, where people are little known to each other, turning chiefly upon the public occurrences of the day—upon the relative merits of the different dishes at table—upon the quality of the wines, and upon the weather. Just at that time, the commercial world had been greatly convulsed by the recent detection of a forgery, of immense magnitude; the circumstances relating to which, formed every where the topic of discourse, and public opinion had been divided upon the question, whether or not there was any chance of the unhappy culprit's life being ultimately saved.—After dinner, one of the party taking up an evening newspaper, which the waiter had just laid upon the table, read aloud a paragraph, stating that the Recorder's report had that morning been submitted to the King in Council, and that ———, convicted at the last Old Bailey Sessions, of forgery, was ordered for execution on the following Tuesday. This led to a discussion, upon the question, how far the punishment of death, was proper for this particular crime; and in the course of it, Mr. Gordon observed, “Forgery is an offence, much more frequently committed, than most people are aware, but the punishment is the same in all cases. There is one branch, which I believe is daily practised with impunity, and almost without notice—I mean the circulation of fictitious bills, or using the names of persons having no existence; which is as much a forgery in the eye of the law, as the offence for which poor ——— is doomed to suffer.”

Quintus was thunderstruck at this doctrine, but managed to reply, “You surely do not mean, Sir, it can be a forgery, to issue paper bearing the names of persons who never existed.”

“Most unquestionably it is,” said Mr. Gordon. “The Legislature makes no distinction between real or imaginary names; the offence and the punishment are alike in both cases.”

“If that be the case,” answered Quintus, “many commercial men innocently issue forgeries every day of their lives,” going on to explain the adventure of Kitely and Co., and stating the manner of Glossover's successful management in withdrawing the bills.

“I am not at all clear,” answered Mr. Gordon, “that according as you have stated the transaction, something very much like compounding a felony, might not be made out against more than one party in it. I am quite clear upon the point, that the bills you held were forgeries, and that Kitely's life was at your mercy. I do not say however, I think you were wrong in not pushing the matter; for my opinion, and I believe the opinion of nine-tenths of those who ever think at all, is decidedly averse to the punishment of death, for forgery in any case; but particularly where the law is so stretched, as to constitute fictitious bills into forgeries. There are twenty other


  ― 232 ―
crimes, of much greater moral magnitude, which are punishable by penalties, comparatively little felt. If a man picks another's pocket of hundreds of thousands, he undergoes but a few years' transportation, and is again turned loose upon society. If he embezzles a million of money, or commits a breach of trust to any amount, his punishment is far short of death—but, if he puts into circulation a note or bill, for no more than five pounds, bearing the name of a person who never existed, except in the fancy of him who issued it, although unaccompanied by any false pretences or representations, and although he himself may be fully solvent, and have made himself liable by endorsement, under his true character and address, yet that man has committed a forgery, and is liable to suffer death.”

Dreadful as was the intelligence thus brought home to Quintus, he had sufficient self-command to conceal his emotion, and so soon as a short pause in the conversation, gave him an opportunity of withdrawing, bade the company a good evening, and departed. But, had his own passing bell rung in his ear, his feelings could not have been more severely poignant, than now, in contemplating the horrid situation in which he stood, rendered as it was, but too glaring, by Mr. Gordon's exposition of the law. Again and again, did he curse his restless ambition, which had not only brought him to the brink of a dangerous precipice, but had already hurled him, as it were, half way down its bank, leaving him nothing but a slender twig or two, whereon he could lay hold, under the vain hope that it might yet break his fall, and save him from the gulf, that was fearfully yawning below, ready to receive him. Acutely did his conscience upbraid him that, it had been so again and again despised; and keen were his regrets that, the many warnings and solicitations of his Emily, had been so little regarded.

In this frame of mind, he bent his way homewards, rather indebted to the sagacity of his horse, for chusing the right turnings of the many streets he had to traverse, ere he was on the broad turnpike, leading to the village, than to his own care or attention—his thoughts being wandering or absent, and wholly abstracted by the nature of the intelligence he had received.

As he approached home, however, he felt the necessity of rallying himself, and when he entered the house had sufficiently done so, to enable the natural buoyancy of his disposition, partly to resume its sway; and hope whispered to him, that he might yet, by skilful and energetic measures, recover his lost position, and retrace his steps.

Upon how little, sometimes, in the shape of hope, will the mind of man cling, when brought either by accident or other causes, into desperate circumstances! Once admitting the idea, that he might


  ― 233 ―
free himself from the awful consequences he had been contemplating, during his ride from town, it was comparatively easy so to bury in oblivion, nearly the whole he had heard, that he joined the family party as usual, and exhibited nothing, either by his manner or countenance, that could have excited the least suspicion, even with the watchful Emily, that any thing particular had occurred.

But this unnatural repose was of short duration. Quintus, although a guilty man, both in the estimation of his country's laws, and in the judgment of that tribunal, which is placed within us by Providence, was not hardened; and the conflicts he had with himself, when in solitude, aided as they were by the self-restraint he necessarily adopted, in concealing his emotions, were almost past endurance.

For the first time in his life, his energy or inclination to exertion, forsook him—the storm he had conjured up, found him, now that he was overtaken by it, utterly passive and helpless—there was a vacuity about him, that rendered all his movements listless, and which did not long escape the observation of some, who were more immediately around him. More than once he endeavoured to rouse himself, and to use a common phrase, put his shoulder to the wheel; but, the prospect before him, was so black and appalling, that his mental courage, strong as it had ever been, sank beneath its contemplation, and all he could resolve upon was, that he would not add to its dismal colouring, by farther tempting his fate.

As one step towards doing that something which was indispensable, although what it was to be he could not determine, he took, as nearly as he was able, an accurate account of the state of his affairs, meaning to ground upon it, his course of farther proceedings; but, having no person in whom he dared confide—no counsellor to whom he had the resolution to open the hidden recesses of his heart—he was scarcely more resolved than before, what to do next; and day after day succeeded each other, rapidly hastening the maturity of the five hundred pounds bill in the hand of Mr. Trusty, and upon which, spell-bound as he seemed, he could not help feeling that his fate depended.

Thus surrounded on all sides by a labyrinth, whose intricate mazes scarce left him any choice of path, it being equally difficult to halt as to proceed, days and nights were passed in the most distressing perplexity that can be conceived; and at length—sick at heart and dispirited as he was, and resembling the benighted traveller who, being way-worn upon some dreary waste, and uncertain where to rest his head, is presently excited to fresh efforts by the glimmering and deceitful ignis fatuus seen at a distance, towards which he makes, only to be plunged into farther trouble—he conceived the idea of seeking relief by abandoning the vessel he was no longer able


  ― 234 ―
to navigate, and, by placing himself where he might be safe, adopt Kitely's plan, and make terms, that would shield him from ultimate danger.

This idea, once allowed influence in his bosom, was cherished more and more, as the only course now left him; although it was met, on the other hand, by many and powerful arguments, combating its adoption at every step. His wife and his boy did not, of these, present the least persuasive; for Quintus, with all his faults, was decidedly formed for domestic life—was ardently attached to Emily, fully alive to all her varied excellencies, and loved his child with all a father's tenderness, equally on his own account, as for the sake of her who bore him; and could not have contemplated without pain, even a temporary separation from them. What, then, must have been his feelings, when he reflected, as he constantly did, that the cause which was to produce this dreaded separation, was even more painful than the parting itself!—and that, if he persisted in his purpose, and when it would be no longer possible to conceal the facts from Emily, the shock of the intelligence would be inconceivably augmented, by the knowledge thus imparted to her, of the delinquencies of a beloved husband.

Then again at times, would his memory revert to what had escaped her, when the West India proposal was in agitation; which, accompanied as it had been by so many palliatives, she could scarcely be brought to listen to with patience, on account of the separation it would have caused; and he could not help drawing a melancholy contrast between the two occasions, and applying from it inferences, which distressed him beyond measure.

Still, what was he to do? for the only other alternative, that of staying and facing the storm, seemed to him still worse than flight. At times he felt disposed to unbosom himself unreservedly to Emily; but again his courage failed him, for he could not endure the thoughts of thus contemplating his own picture. So hidious is vice, when seen in its true colours—so frightful the spectre even to ourselves, that we are driven from one position to another, seeking to avoid it, although, after the first wrong step, only to increase its power. We forgot also, how grievously we afflict others, at the same moment that we are ruining ourselves, by enlisting in its service; for our experience of the world tells us, that there are many, who are much more keen and sensitive, respecting the faults of others, than of their own—many, who view the same transaction in different lights, according to its actor—who think that, a beautiful flower, when belonging to themselves, which is esteemed a frightful weed, if growing in their neighbour's garden—in a word, who measure their own and other peoples' corn by different bushels. Not so however,


  ― 235 ―
was it with Quintus, in respect to the relative connexion between himself, and the affectionate friends by whom he was surrounded. Could he have summoned resolution to have poured into Emily's ear, some of that contrition, by which his soul was distracted, and which, being suppressed, added twofold to his misery, he would have found in her, and in her relations, powerful and kind auxiliaries. Could he indeed, have brought himself to divest his mind of a portion of its care, by laying the burden upon one, who was most ready to share it with him, the subsequent excellence of her conduct gave full assurance, that he would have reposed his confidence, where it was well deserved; and both might have been spared years of sorrow.

While things were in this state, his friend Mr. Trusty, gave him abundant opportunities, had he been so inclined, of at least keeping the ball alive some time longer—an additional temptation being offered by the state of the commercial markets, which bade fair to realize the expectations he had some time ago formed, and which had led him again to maintain a stock in trade, disproportioned to his means; but the inducement was not strong enough to overcome his repugnance, to continue in his present dangerous course—he saw that, to obtain an entire release from its snares and entanglements, was beyond his power, even if he succeeded, as he easily might, in procuring present relief; and fraught with terror and alarm, as was his intended path, leading, as he was well aware, to unknown fields of misery and disquietude, yet he was at a loss to fix upon any other, that was upon the whole preferable. But, here again, another point suggested itself. Whither was he to go, or how was he to accomplish his purpose? The world was open to him, it is true; and his education and attainments were such, as relieved him from anxiety that, go where he would, he might be unable to support himself; but, mere maintenance was secondary, compared with what otherwise belonged to his condition; and the thoughts of leaving home, wife, child, and numerous kind friends, to become an outcast, a miserable wanderer, was almost too much for him—his spirit sank within him, and he was tempted to repine, that he had ever existed.

Time, however, pursues its way, little heeding, whether it carries on its wings, joy or sorrow, ease or disquietude, to the children of men; and it became necessary, not only that, something should be done, but that, this something, should be done quickly—otherwise, no opportunity would be afforded. Roused therefore, from the state bordering upon apathy, in which he had slightly reposed, he set about acquiring certain needful information, and having learnt that, a vessel was shortly to sail for the United States of America, his inventive genius readily adapted itself, when restored to its pristine tone and vigour, to making all requisite arrangements, with secresy


  ― 236 ―
and dispatch; and bending its whole force, to this one point, he contemplated the period fixed for his departure, as though it were to be the end of all his troubles. When the much dreaded, and yet hoped for day, was within one or two revolving suns, he learnt that the vessel was to touch at the Isle of Wight, and from thence, proceed on her voyage, after a very short stay; and he was recommended to join her there, rather than embark in London, as the means of avoiding an unpleasant passage through the Downs. This intelligence proved agreeable, insomuch, as it would be the means of holding a communication with Emily, ere he left England; purposing, as he did, to impart to her by letter, that which he much desired, but was still unable to do, personally; and he hoped it might be possible to hear again from her, in such a manner as might assist him in shaping his future course; nay, his sanguine disposition even led him to indulge the idea that, she might leave town and join him. He did not miscalculate his wife—the commencement of his troubles, was the commencement of a new, and exalted era in her life; raising her to as high a point perhaps, as human nature is capable of being carried; and leading her to display bright jewels of conjugal love and devoted constancy, that well deserved a very superior reward, to any this world has in its power to bestow.

The evening and night that preceded the finally arranged day of his departure, were passed in a state that beggars description; and, when he rose in the morning, the idea of parting from Emily, in so miserable a manner, nearly overpowered him, and betrayed his fatal secret—but he summoned resolution, sufficient to leave the house, nearly as upon ordinary occasions, though he could not so far check the impulse of nature, as to refrain from some little marks of tenderness, more than were usual, when only leaving her for a few hours. Even, after he had trod the threshold, which had so long been the abode of peace, love, and harmony, for perhaps the last time, he still lingered irresolute, ere he finally launched upon his perilous expedition, much in the manner that a youth, when first learning to swim, stands upon the margin of the water, intending each moment to jump in headlong, yet still drawing back with breathless fear, till at length, screwing up his courage to the necessary pitch, plunges forwards, and in one instant is completely immersed. So was it with Quintus—apprehension, alarm, and bewildered entanglement, urged him forwards; honor, domestic happiness, and reputation, whispered to him—“Stay where you are”—but what sort of a counsellor is a man's mind, when torn and distracted? “Our guilt makes cowards of us all,” and in the present instance, upon the same principle, that strong excitements are sometimes had recourse to, under the delusive hope of drowning care, although only to impose an additional weight


  ― 237 ―
of suffering, when their transient effects have subsided—so did Quintus, shun the lesser evil clinging to the greater, and unable to draw back, proceeded into town, fully resolved to set his life and fortune upon the die, and abide the result.

His first measure afterwards was, to write a few lines to his wife, acquainting her of his being unexpectedly obliged to go into the country, promising she should hear from him so soon, as the journey was completed, and requesting her to send a few travelling necessaries. There was nothing extraordinary in this, as short absences from home were by no means uncommon, many of his Correspondents being in distant parts of the kingdom, and occasions sometimes arising, to render his personal interference necessary. At length, the hour for the departure of the coach, which was to remove him for ever from the scenes of his early manhood, had been warned by the City clocks—the hour-hand was close upon it, the other, advancing with rapid strides to the same point—the coachman was already on his box—the guard standing to assist the passengers to their places, when Quintus Servinton—more like a walking automaton than the active, energetic character he had ever displayed—mounted the carriage steps, and, occupying a vacant corner, the vehicle quickly conveyed him the first stage, of a long journey of trouble and affliction.

When too late, his memory retraced, with bitter acrimony, many events of the last few years of his life; but he had scarcely time to think; several important measures still demanded his attention, and in the wretched frame of mind which was now his constant companion, perhaps it was fortunate that his thoughts were not permitted, long to dwell upon any one subject.




  ― 238 ―

Chapter IX

“Now the storm begins to low'r.”

GRAY

Upon reaching that point of his sad journey, when he thought he might do so with safety, Quintus wrote to Emily, conveying the dreadful intelligence, which it was no longer possible to withhold from her. He told her the melancholy truth, that having only the alternative of flight and safety, or remaining in England with danger, he had arranged every thing for crossing the Atlantic, adding his earnest wish to see her and his boy, before he departed; which he said might be accomplished, if she set out immediately upon the receipt of his letter. He further hinted the idea of its being possible for her to accompany him; without however, urging it, as the many obstacles that stood in the way of such a measure, did not escape his consideration.

When the fatal tidings were put into her hands, she repined not, nor did she waste her time and energies in fruitless bewailings. Her mind at once assumed a new and exalted tone—“I must act, rather than think,” exclaimed she, as her husband's scrawl was again and again perused, and making hasty preparations for the journey, a post chaise was ordered to the door, and in a comparatively short space, she had taken her departure, accompanied by her father, mother, and child, to once more see and bless, her faulty husband.

What must have been her feelings when, as if by a strange fatality, she found herself travelling by the very road, and to the very spot, where their honeymoon had been passed ten years previously? She was now going to bid, perhaps an eternal adieu to the man, who had then been her joyful companion, blithesome, gay, and happy—but now, alas! a banished alien. But Emily reposed not her troubles nor her confidence on human means of consolation. She had always sought a higher and a firmer solace; and that God, whom she had never deserted, did not desert her in this, her hour of affliction. He bestowed, in answer to her pious supplications, a strength proportionate to the load imposed on her; and arriving at her journey's end, she was enabled to go through the much dreaded interview, with a calmness and composure, that at one time, she had scarcely even dared to hope for.

“I will not reproach you, my dearest Quintus,” said she “nor can I let you reproach yourself—for I dare say you did it all for the best;


  ― 239 ―
and it cannot now be mended. You know, I can never be happy without you, and although 'tis impossible for me to accompany you, I give you my word and honor, that I will follow you, as soon as you write, and tell me where you are—but are you sure—quite sure, you are safe?”

“Quite sure, my Emily.—The vessel is to sail immediately, the wind is fair, and 'tis not possible that my absence can be noticed, or the cause discovered, till to-day; and according to the plan I have taken, it will not be very easy to trace me.”

“Oh! but perhaps, they will enquire about me; and will thus find out, which way you are gone—pray, don't stay any longer—but yet, perhaps, there's no danger for a little while. Do you think there is? If I could only persuade myself you were safe, I should be so happy—but do you really think you must go directly?”

Quintus was as loth as herself, to put an end to an interview, which he could not help feeling might probably be the last they might ever hold together, and was willingly inclined to believe, that it might be continued for some time, with perfect safety; and in the tender and interesting scene that ensued, the arrangements made for his flight, and his intended subsequent proceedings, were more discussed, than the unfortunate and more immediate cause of their distresses; and she derived a satisfaction, or a degree of happiness, from the assurances he gave her that he had nothing to fear, and to looking forward to their again meeting in the course of a few months, which she had not previously thought possible, under their present circumstances.

Thus is it, whenever great calamities overtake us, that we seek consolation from any little alleviating circumstances, by which they are accompanied. It is in this manner, that we are mercifully enabled to bear burthens, which might otherwise be too much for our strength. Emily's sorrow at the intelligence she had so lately received, her grief at the impending separation from a beloved husband, to say nothing of personal considerations, affecting as they must, both her own and her child's condition, all gave way and dwindled into nothing, when Quintus's danger presented itself to her imagination; and no sooner was her alarm upon this subject, in a measure relieved, than almost the whole occasion seemed for the moment lost sight of, until at length, continuing together as long as they thought they dared, she tore herself from him, with many oft repeated and fervent vows that, her fate should be joined to his, whatever it should prove, adopting the words of Ruth, “That his people should be her people—his God, her God, and that where he died, there would she also die, and be buried.”

But that Providence, without whose permission we are told, not


  ― 240 ―
even a sparrow falleth to the ground, was watching over the passing scene, and was preparing means of overruling the plans, that had been formed, and so tenderly dilated upon. Quintus had scarcely left the house, that contained his wife and child—the tears which the former had plentifully shed in bestowing her last caress, were not yet dried upon his cheek—their boy who had been awoke from a sound sleep, to receive his father's farewell benediction, had scarcely relaped into his slumbers, half comprehending only, why he had been disturbed, when the wind, which, for some days had blown from a quarter, favourable for outward bound vessels, shewed symptoms of veering round, so as to prevent them from leaving the port.

“There's no chance I think, of sailing to day,” said the captain, in reply to an anxious enquiry made of him by Quintus. “I shall try, after to-morrow morning's tide, but I think there's a cursed southwester setting in, and although the Swiftsure sails within three points of the wind, she won't run right in the teeth of it.”

Quintus was afraid of exciting the master's suspicions, by letting him see too much of his real alarm, not but, had he been a man of observation, he might have guessed that, no common occasion could have caused him to be haunted as he was throughout the day, by his intended passenger, with constantly asking,—“Do you think the wind is at all more favourable, than it was an hour ago?” or questions much to this purport; but, as the afternoon advanced, the signs of a change of wind became still more decided, and ere night-fall, not a hope remained that, even the idea of trying to sail the next morning, could be carried into effect.

It was now, that the full measure of his woe appeared before Quintus; he retired to his solitary couch, but not to sleep, and when he arose from it, at the earliest peep of day, heart sick and feverish, it was with grief and horror, but not surprise, that he learnt it was impossible to sail; and in the bitterness of his soul, he resolved to run all hazards, and make a confidant of the master of the vessel, by telling him some part of his danger. Taking an early opportunity therefore of seeing him, he represented that his personal liberty was endangered by the ship's detention, alleging as a cause, a heavy debt for which he was likely to be pursued, and offering at the same moment, a considerable sum, as an inducement, to go to sea at once. The captain, who was of affable, or indeed courteous manners, and who, very possibly was by no means unused to such communications, from those who sometimes found a trip to America desirable, listened with polite attention to all Quintus had to say, and in the end replied that, let the wind blow which way it might, he would weigh anchor at next morning's tide; but that it would be


  ― 241 ―
impracticable earlier, as there would not be sufficient water, till the next flow, to cross a bar, close to which the vessel was now moored.

Meanwhile, Emily and her affectionate, but sorrowful companions, bent their way homewards, their heavy load of misery somewhat lightened, by the idea that Quintus was safe; for, not versed in the changes of the wind, changes, which oftentimes produce mighty consequences to the inhabitants of the earth, little apprehension was felt that, any such cause as had really occurred, might have arisen to prevent the intended voyage; although Emily, more than once could not help inwardly feeling an anxiety, to which she dared not give utterance, that the altered temperature of the weather, from a dry, nipping frost, to great mildness, might proceed from an unfavourable change of wind. Nevertheless, she said nothing, dreading to find her fears confirmed, and herself deprived of her present small grounds of comfort. The journey was therefore continued, almost in moody silence.

Nothing could exceed the astonishment that pervaded Quintus's immediate business connexion, when, upon the same day that Emily had taken leave of him to return to town, a whisper began to be circulated, that something was the matter with the house of Servinton and Johnson. One version of the story obtained one class of hearers—another found another—but all were foreign from the truth, as the fact which had caused his absence, had not transpired, beyond to a limited few. The fatal five hundred pounds bill, upon being presented for payment where it was addressed, was of course dishonoured; and, after having gone the ordinary notarial course, was returned to Mr. Trusty, simply bearing the words—“No effects.” Little imagining what was the real cause of such an answer, Mr. Trusty despatched his son with the bill to Quintus's compting house, directing him to accompany the usual notice by an offer of accommodation, if wished for, in regard to its payment. It so happened, that Mr. Johnson received the messenger destined to communicate this unlooked-for news, and, not at first suspecting any thing to be wrong, merely replied, “Mr. Servinton will be home this evening, and will attend to it. The cash concerns are entirely in his hands. Here, Mr. Jones,” addressing one of the Clerks, “take a copy of the bill, and put it on Mr. Servinton's desk, so that he may see it as soon as he returns.” Whilst the clerk was so employed, his suspicions became excited by several circumstances connected with the bill, particularly that all the parties it represented, were unknown to him, even the last endorsers; and coupling this with Quintus's late abstraction and altered manner, he could not help whispering Mr. Johnson, that he feared there was a something which it would be


  ― 242 ―
difficult to explain. The particulars of the bill were however taken, and Mr. Trusty's son withdrew, under the promise that it should have immediate attention.

The painful doubts and apprehensions so excited in the mind of Mr. Johnson, were not suffered to be of long duration. It was impossible for any of Quintus's friends, to have more sincerely lamented his dereliction, than did the unhappy man himself. It was a determination to break through the trammels wherewith he was entangled, that had prompted his present dangerous course; and in proceeding, he felt desirous of repairing, so much as lay in his power, the mischief he had occasioned, by bestowing such information as might assist the house and its various creditors, in easily understanding many things, at present known only to himself. At the same time, therefore, that he had written to Emily, he had addressed a letter to his cousin Campbell, with whom he had long continued on terms of brotherly affection and intimacy, in which he fully avowed every thing; enclosing also, a small private pocket book, kept in characters instead of figures, the key to which he explained. A regard to his own safety, prompted his so contriving the delivery of this packet, that it was not to reach Frederick Campbell's hands, until Emily should have had a very considerable start; but it was not possible to withhold it, so as to be of the service he intended, longer than until about the same time, that Mr. Trusty would probably learn the fate of his bill. Very shortly therefore, after the messenger from the Mining Company had left the premises, Frederick entered, his expressive features too well proclaiming, that he was indeed the harbinger of bad tidings.

Few idle words were expended upon the melancholy occasion, by either of the two friends. Whatever had been the previous surmises of Mr. Johnson, arising from what the clerk had said, they were reduced to a certainty, by the avowal now candidly made, under Quintus's own hand writing; and the only question that remained for immediate consideration was, what should be done next? A suspension of payments was the first and most obvious measure; and the next, an immediate communication to Mr. Trusty.

Notwithstanding that every possible precaution was used in the manner of effecting the arrangements now originated, so as to avoid giving any unnecessary publicity to what had happened, rumour, with her hundred tongues, soon began to assume her usual province, magnifying the extent of the mischief to an enormous sum, ever seizing hold on private misery as a ball to be sported with by the public, giving it whatever direction seems most agreeable to him who last handled it, oftentimes too, without regard to the real circumstances of the case. Unfortunately therefore, in this instance,


  ― 243 ―
ere the gentlemen who formed the Mining Company could attend a meeting, which was early convened for the purpose of laying the true particulars before them, each had in some way or other, been unfavourably impressed; and more than one entered the room where they assembled for deliberation, with very different feelings to those expressed in the truly Christian lines,—

Peccantem damnare cave, nam labimur omnes;
Aut sumus, aut fuimus, aut possumus esse, quod hic est.

Quintus had mentioned in his letter to his cousin, that he should have left England before it reached him; and as he appeared to have imparted all the information that could have been obtained from him, had he been present, the first idea in the minds of some who now met was, not to take any steps towards interfering with his flight; but among them were two or three elderly gentlemen, who, grown rich by trade, regarded all its bulwarks with veneration, and therefore started, and warmly supported the positions, that this was an instance, which demanded a severe example, as a warning to the many others who were purusing the same track—that the offence was greatly aggravated by the birth, education, and attainments of the party—that public justice required them to smother private feelings—and that steps should therefore be promptly instituted, with the view of the delinquent's being apprehended. When it was replied by Mr. Rothero, and others, that the confessions made through Frederick Campbell, should be held as some extenuation, and that there was little probability, according to the documents laid before them, of their sustaining any ultimate loss, one of the elders said,—“If we were merely a private partnership, the case would be very different; but we are a chartered company—a public body—and, as such, our duty is a strict one. I have always respected the young man, and grieve to think of his situation; but, were he my own son, my recommendation as to our measures, would be the same as as it now is. We have a duty to perform, and must think of nothing else.”

“If he had unfortunately held so near a connexion to you, or to to either of us, as you have mentioned,” said one of Quintus's advocates, “the individual so connected, would at least, have been spared the pain of sitting here in judgment, and your position therefore, although strongly expressive of your own feelings, is scarcely maintainable. Neither I, nor any other of the gentlemen who support my side of the question, wish to impede the course of justice; but before we take steps which may, perhaps, involve the question of a fellow-creature's life, it behoves us to be assured that the public has sustained a wrong. I have no objection to despatching messengers to


  ― 244 ―
the ports most likely for him to have fled to, provided they be not armed with any power beyond mere detention, in case he is met with; but I altogether protest at present, against any interference of the civil authorities.”

“By what power, then, is he to be detained?”

“Let his partner Mr. Johnson, be entrusted with the mission, or any of his own immediate friends. If he be overtaken, and satisfactorily explain whatever is required of him, in addition to what he has already made known, his escape may still be easily managed; but, if not, he must abide the consequences.”

After some further discussion, this mezzio terzo was agreed to, and, each person engaging to say nothing of what had transpired, or of what was intended, the meeting broke up, satisfactorily upon the whole in its result, to the well-wishers of Quintus. But, in the same manner that smoke finds its way through a closely covered kiln, and betrays to the traveller the nature of the volcano underneath, so was it impossible to conceal from an inquisitive public, the sad announcement that had been made. The affair, with many exaggerations, spread rapidly through the town; and when the merchants and traders met at the usual hour upon 'Change, nothing was talked of, but the “unparalleled forgery!”

“I hear the amount already discovered is forty thousand pounds,” said one, with a look of greedy pleasure as he spoke. “Poor ———, who suffered lately, was nothing to this spark. I understand, he kept three expensive establishments, and lived separate from his wife, whom he treated cruelly. I am told he spent nearly ten thousand a year in gaming, women, and one thing or another. These are awful times, and require a deal of caution.”

“Only forty thousand is it?” was the reply. “I had not heard the particulars, but a friend of mine told me, that his brother had it from a first cousin of Mr. Rothero, that that gentleman would lose near thirty thousand pounds for his share alone, and that the total forgeries were about two hundred thousand. He also said, that Mr. Servinton could so exactly imitate Mr. Rothero's writing, from having been a clerk in his house, that it is almost impossible to discover the difference between the two, and that the chief forgeries were in his name.”

“Dear me!” said another, who helped to form a little group, that had by this time gathered around the two last speakers, “I did not understand this was the case—I heard it was for fictitious bills—I didn't know he had forged Mr. Rothero's name. Dear me! what a rogue he must be. Did you know him?”

“I knew him very well,” replied a fourth, “and have done a deal of business with him, and a pleasanter, more off-hand man to deal


  ― 245 ―
with, I seldom met with. I'll never believe 'tis a hundredth part so bad as what they say. What could he have done with the money? for I live only a short distance from him in the country, and can answer for his being any thing but an extravagant man; and I say further, he is a man I am very slow to think ill of, and I expect 'twill all turn out better than people say.”

“I do not know him, even by sight,” answered the first speaker, “but, when you talk of any thing but extravagant, what do you call, three separate establishments, horses, carriages and gambling?—and how can you be slow to think ill of a man, who uses his wife in the way he treats his,—I know a person, who positively assured me this morning, that Mrs. Servinton has before now, been confined to her room three weeks at a time, owing to her husband's cruel usage—and that he has behaved to her shamefully, ever since they were married.”

“And I positively say, it is an infamous falsehood,” replied the other.—“I have seen them hundreds of times together—and take upon myself to assert, there is not a more happy or affectionate couple, breathing—Mrs. Servinton is a most excellent woman; and her husband knows it. 'Tis a pity people should repeat such infernal slander.”

In this manner, was poor Quintus's reputation, fallen as it really was, coolly and deliberately still farther murdered; and the few who still inclined to regard him with forbearance, were completely borne down as it were, by the torrent of public opinion. But Mr. Rothero, having known him for many years, and watched him through many vicissitudes, had conceived a favourable impression of his general character and conduct, and was not to be changed in his sentiments, or in his desire to prevent extreme measures, even by the popular clamour, now excited. His goodness and forbearance were the more manifested in this, insomuch as he was nearly the largest creditor of the house; yet, he suffered not resentment to have a place in his breast, nor would he abandon the idea that, commiseration was as much due to the unhappy man, as blame. Entertaining these feelings, he had been painfully grieved at many things that had reached his ears, during his half hour spent on 'Change, and was returning westward from the City, when he met Mr. Johnson, equipped for his journey, and proceeding towards one of the coach-offices.

“Which road do you think of taking?” he enquired.

“I have ascertained,” replied Mr. Johnson, “that there are two American vessels, on the point of sailing from Cowes, one from Plymouth, and some from Liverpool.—I am at a loss to decide, which place is the most probable—as I have not succeeded in obtaining the least trace of how he left London; though to own the truth, I


  ― 246 ―
half suspect 'tis because I have no great heart for my work, and my scent, therefore, is not the keenest in the world.”

“Well,” said Mr. Rothero, “entre nous if I did know, which was the most probable road, I should be as well pleased with your taking either of the others; and I apprehend your feeling is pretty much the same; for what with old Heartless's prejudices, and notions of public justice, and the hue-and-cry made in the City this afternoon, there will be something to do to save him, if he be overtaken.”

“I fully agree with you; but you will recollect the discretion, they have placed in my hands.”

“Perfectly—yet, I would much rather 'twere not called into action. There could not then, by any possible blame imputed to you.—All you can do I fear is, to make your unpleasant duty, as mild as possible.”

“Which, I assure you is my desire; and it will not be my fault, if he does not find in me a friend, should we once more meet.”

They then separated, Mr. Johnson being still undecided, as to what route to chuse, so as to lead to the probability of accomplishing his errand successfully, and yet anxious to preserve Quintus from harm; for although equally inclined with any of his warmest friends, to protect and serve him, the peculiarity of his own situation, determined him that, at all events the charge of misprision, should not be alleged against him with justice.

Thus almost undetermined, but inclining upon the whole, to make his way to Southampton, and thence, either to Cowes, or farther westward, according to the information he might obtain, he took his seat in one of the western coaches, just as a disagreeable December evening, was fast closing. Arriving at the first stage, he remained in the carriage while the horses were being changed, carelessly looking through the window at those who were passing to and fro in front of the inn, when his attention was suddenly taken by the rapid whirlings of a post-chaise, which drew up immediately in front of the coach; and in one minute, Mr. and Mrs. Clifton, leading Emily and her child, entered the door-way. Here then, a clue was presented which left him no alternative. He regretted the chance, for the sake of the fugitive; yet, what could he do, but follow the path thus so remarkably opened to him? He instantly alighted, having obtained from the driver of the chaise, all the information he wished, sought an interview with Mr. Clifton, chiefly to assure him that, although employed on a painful errand, he hoped all might yet be well. The moment Emily heard his voice, the cause of his presence was manifest to her; and, scarcely able to support herself under the distressing ideas connected with it, could only exclaim, “Thank God!


  ― 247 ―
he's safe—he's safe!” when she fell into her mother's arms, perfectly insensible.

Mr. Johnson was deeply affected, and, taking Mr. Clifton's hand, said, “Be assured, my dear sir, I shall use the information I have so wonderfully obtained, only as may be required by circumstances. I have no hostile mission or intentions; and, if Mr. Servinton acts as I hope and expect he will, he will find a friend in me from whom he has nothing to fear. It will wholly depend upon himself, although I must own, a situation of great delicacy that has been imposed on me, would be avoided to my infinite satisfaction, if I find upon arrival at Cowes that he has sailed. You must admit it to have been better for me to go upon this errand, than a stranger, and Mrs. Servinton may be assured, that I shall not make more haste than I can well avoid.” The call of, “Coach is waiting, Sir,” had more than once interrupted their short colloquy—and being now repeated with increased earnestness, he was compelled to leave the distressingly agitated party, and proceed on his journey.

At the time he left, Emily had not recovered from the swoon, into which she had fallen—nor until it was afterwards repeated to her, was she aware of the tenor of his communication. So soon however as she was able to continue the journey, they re-entered the carriage, and the two parties, whose meeting had occasioned such mutually varied emotions, were shortly again, far distant from each other. When her composure of mind was sufficiently resumed, to enable Emily to converse upon the extraordinary incident that had occurred, Quintus's danger, notwithstanding Mr. Johnson's assurances, appeared before her imagination, in its most terrible colours; and once this feeling occupying a place in her gentle bosom, it could not be stilled by any arguments that could be advanced. Her mother, with all a woman's warmth of heart, entered too, into her distressing anxieties; and ere they had well reached town, Mr. Clifton, aware how much it would relieve their fears, and with a promptitude, that ever marked his conduct, where a fellow creature's happiness was concerned, proposed immediately to return to Southampton, so as to endeavour to influence favourably, his son-in-law's destiny. Accordingly, scarcely had he conveyed his afflicted charge, to the peaceful serenity of their own dwelling, than he retraced his steps by the way he had just left, using every possible diligence in the prosecution of his journey. Upon arriving at Southampton, he found that Mr. Johnson had preceded him by a few hours, in his passage to the Island; and he lost no time therefore, in following him. As he stood on the deck of the little bark by which, her sails gracefully yielding to a favourable breeze, he was now rapidly gliding along the


  ― 248 ―
delightful banks of the Southampton river, he enquired of one of the boat-men, with anxiety he could ill disguise, whether the American vessel had yet sailed from Cowes.

“She's off by this time,” the man replied, “she's been wind-bound since Monday, but was to go last night's tide, let it be as it would. I knew howsomever, she'd have to wait till this morning, as no pilot would undertake to work her through the Needles in the dark, and with a foul wind.”

“How is the wind now?” Mr. Clifton enquired.

“A little better than 'twas;—a point or two to the northward since sun-rise. She might manage to beat out, standing well off at first on the larboard tack.” He now ceased talking for a minute—then looking attentively at a distant object, exclaimed, “There she is—yonder Sir, her under fore-top-gallants and mainsail—there, Sir, you see she's filling for the larboard tack.”

“Which! which!” eagerly enquired Mr. Clifton, there being several vessels in the offing under way.

“Her, Sir, with her head towards us,—see, she's got a long pennant flying at the main,” replied the boatman. “Why, she's heaving to, if my eyes don't deceive me—yes—sure enough she's backed the fore-sail and taken in her gallants.—Some of the passengers I daresay playing the fool, and staying ashore—but captain Delaware isn't the man, 'll wait for the King, beyond his fixed time.”

The vessel, to which Mr. Clifton's notice was thus drawn, appeared to be about half a dozen miles distant from the shore, and nearly the same from themselves. She had been making some beautiful evolutions by tacking, calculated to display the superiority of her seamanship and equipments, running at times, although apparently free, almost directly in the teeth of the wind. Her gaudy sides and flowing streamers, independently of her ensign and peculiar build, marked plainly enough, that she was not English, and Mr. Clifton, although deeply regretting that she had heaved to, and not daring as he well might, to account to himself for the cause, still felt some little relieved, by not seeing her at anchor; and in a state, hoping much, yet fearing more, in a short while finished his passage, and landed at the stairs, immediately in front of one of the inns, at West Cowes.

As he walked through the yard that communicated with the building, he observed that every thing bespoke unusual bustle and confusion; and the anxiety pourtrayed upon the countenances of the assembled group, while one or two were listening to a something that had occurred, smote his breast with a chilling dampness, the too certain presage of bad news.

“Poor fellow!” he presently heard one of the servants say, as he


  ― 249 ―
passed him, “He seemed melancholy enough, God knows, when he paid his bill this morning; but I little thought to see his corpse brought back in such a little time, and in such a manner. He's a gentleman, and a civil one, whoever he is.”

“Has any thing happened here?” enquired Mr. Clifton, scarcely able to give utterance to his words. But ere time was allowed him to receive an answer, Mr. Johnson, who had observed him land from the boat, opened a door, and advanced directly towards him.

“I am afraid, my dear sir, that your unhappy son-in-law has removed from us our chance of saving him, and has indeed brought himself into trouble.”

“Tell me the worst at once. I heard the servants talking of a corpse—is he dead?”

“No, he is not dead, but his preservation has been a miracle—he is alive, and every care is being taken of him; but he has acted most imprudently, and I fear will live to repent his precipitancy.” He paused a little, and then continued:—“Upon my arrival here, about three hours ago, I found, by his description and other positive information, that he was on board the American ship Swiftsure, then preparing to get under way; and although I scarcely expected to reach her, as she was lying a good way from shore, I engaged a boat, taking with me, by way of precaution, a peace-officer. As we made to the vessel, she still remained stationary, although her sails were loose, and I could distinctly see Mr. Servinton standing upon the quarter deck, looking towards us, where he remained without moving, until I was close along-side, and was in the act of mounting the ladder to ascend upon deck. He was watching us earnestly, but displayed no particular emotion, nor did he once change his posture, until, hastily looking round, and seeing me approach within a few yards of him, he made a sudden spring, and in one instant was overboard. Providentially, the pilot's boat was under her stern, with a boy in it, who exerted himself to save him, but nearly failed, owing, as they say, to the current; and it was not until he had sunk and again risen twice, that it could be said he was rescued from a watery grave. We brought him, more dead than alive, to this house, and immediately called in the best medical advice at hand, and I believe I can now say, his life is safe, although he is still insensible.”

“And what do you propose to do, under such distressing circumstances?”

“I can do nothing but return to town, leaving him under safe charge. The master of the vessel came ashore with me, and, after waiting to see the issue of the catastrophe, had just departed when you arrived. I had much rather that Servinton had gone with him, than have remained in this state; but he has left me no alternative; and


  ― 250 ―
I much fear, even this act alone, by increasing the notoriety of the affair, will increase the difficulties under which his friends labour, successfully to combat those, who advocate severe measures.”

Dreadful as was the intelligence thus communicated to Mr. Clifton, and difficult to be borne by a man so connected with the sufferer as he was, he supported himself under it, as well as he was able, and desired to be led to the apartment, where was laid the half-resuscitated, still almost lifeless body of one who, only an hour ago, had stood erect, in full health and vigour.

With every desire to give a favourable turn to the now too probable issue of affairs, he was reluctantly compelled to admit with Mr. Johnson, that no other steps were open to them, than those already in progress; and, after making all requisite arrangements for Quintus's due attendance, and for his comfort, under the melancholy circumstances in which he lay, and without imposing any unnecessary restraint upon his person, they both conceived their presence was more required in town than there, whither therefore, they lost no time in returning.

It was utterly impossible that the unpleasant duty which had thus devolved upon them, could have fallen into the hands of two persons, more disposed than themselves, to soothe and assist the unfortunate Quintus, in his present miserable condition. They had taken charge of his baggage, escritoir, and other personals, with the view of ascertaining whether he had any papers or documents, of importance to the errand, whereon Mr. Johnson had been despatched; and full of anxious discussion, how to give the best colour to what had taken place, and to prevent it from diminishing the merciful inclination, already felt by some of the parties concerned, they pursued their way to town, having as they fondly hoped, at length hit upon a course, by which the unfortunate occurrence they had witnessed, might yet be repaired. They soon found however, how vain and futile are many of our plans and schemes; oftentimes as they are rendered abortive by circumstances, equally beyond our controul as calculation.




  ― 251 ―

Chapter X

“This is a gentle Provost—seldom when,
The steeled Gaoler is the friend of men.”

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

When, after four and twenty hours had been passed by Quintus, in a state, bordering upon insensibility, he awoke to an imperfect knowledge of his present condition, the reflections that crowded upon his mind, were too much for its shattered and perturbed state; and he relapsed into a kind of half-consciousness, aware of what was going forward around him, but utterly unable to take part in any thing, requiring the least mental exertion.

After thus continuing a couple of days, a professional gentleman arrived to visit him, who had been deputed by his relatives to endeavour to effect measures, for yet facilitating his escape—in which, there would have been little difficulty, as he had been merely left under charge of the inn-keeper, without there being any legal power to detain him, as he had not in any manner, been brought under the notice of the civil authorities. But the high state of excitement to which his mind had been brought, first, by the circumstances that had led to his flight, and afterwards, when unable longer to bear its burthen, it fell for a moment from its high station, and left him deprived of reason, would not at present permit him to arouse from the moody indifference, into which he had fallen; and the gentleman had the melancholy task of returning to his friends, and telling them that, the unhappy man seemed resolved to brave the storm, and, setting his life upon a die, awaited whatever was intended to be done with him.

In the mean time, the daily increased notoriety of the affair, rendered the part of those, (and they were many), who wished to serve him, a work of fresh difficulty; and the frame of mind of Quintus himself, by rejecting the means of escape that had been offered him, assisting to add to these difficulties, the circumstances that had attended the bill, were made matter of charge against him, and a warrant was issued for his apprehension, under which, he was shortly removed from his present quarters, and brought back to the scene of his offence. In all the measures thus taken, he experienced a series of respectful and attentive treatment, rather suited to his former station in society, than to his present condition.

He was conveyed to town as privately, and under as many


  ― 252 ―
extenuations, as possible; but when, gazing wildly through the carriage windows, whilst it traversed streets he had so often passed through, the happiest of the happy, the full measure of his misery appeared before him in its true colours—a kind of delirium seized his brain—and when he was led into the justice-room, where several magistrates were already assembled, it was thought advisable to let farther proceedings be suspended for a few days, to allow his perturbation of mind to subside. He was accordingly taken to a house of temporary confinement, where he was treated with every soothing kindness, of which the place admitted.

It was now remarked of him, with very great surprise, that with all those who visited him, he not only made no enquiry respecting his wife and child, but even seemed carefully to avoid any subject likely to introduce their names; and once indeed, when it was intimated to him, that Emily was desirous of seeing him, not merely had he listened to it with evident impatience, but instead of making a direct reply, immediately sought to change the conversation.

And yet, how little was such conduct on his part, merited! and equally how little, did it speak his true sentiments! The fact with regard to Emily was, that no sooner was she made acquainted upon the return of Mr. Johnson and her father, with what had occurred, that it was with the utmost difficulty she could be prevented from instantly undertaking the journey to go and visit her husband; “He is my husband—my every thing—and can I stay here, knowing what you have just told me about him?” she exclaimed, when arguing with her parents upon the subject.

“Yes, Emily, he is all that, but we are trying to arrange that he may yet escape—and your going to him would entirely defeat it.”

It was this consideration only, that had led her to yield to their wishes; and now that he was again near her, it was indeed with dismay and horror she was told, he did not wish to see her. But although without doubt, those who had so expressed themselves, had apparently good grounds for what they had said, judging by his silence and general manner when her name was mentioned, nothing whatever could have been more foreign to what was really passing within his bosom. He loved his Emily—ardently loved her—but conscience stricken, and bleeding at every pore as his heart now was, all his offences rose in their full hideousness before him, and among them, he could not help feeling how much he had failed towards his wife; carrying his bitter recollection to the many times he had despised and neglected her warnings, sometimes even barely listening to them with civility; and he felt too much ashamed, to see her. It was this, that gave rise to many painful emotions of remorse, when her name was mentioned; but it was a state of things not to last long, for the


  ― 253 ―
force of his strong affection for her conquered every other feeling, and he wrote her a few lines, expressive of his agonized contrition, and couched in his usual affectionate style of language.

What can be a better earnest to the repentant sinner of that pardon, which we are told we may hereafter expect, than the forgiveness we sometimes meet with, from our fellow creatures, for our transgressions towards them? If they, whose beneficence can at the best, be but of a mixed nature, much alloyed by inferior attributes, are able to extend the hand of remission to their erring neighbour, and from the heart to say, we forgive every thing, can it seem strange that a Being who is all beneficence, all mercy, without any alloy, should be able to pardon our offences? Happy is he who thus draws the veil of oblivion of sincere forgiveness, over the misdeeds of his faulty brother; since, he may reasonably ground upon his own conduct, hopes for himself at the great day of account, when he shall stand before the Judge of all the Earth; yet, beautiful as is this feature of the mind, it is probably reserved to the female character to exhibit it in its true—its really bright colours—and never was it more touchingly—more delightfully displayed—than in the case of Emily.

All her sorrows, all her anxieties, yielded as by talismanic touch, before the note thus received from Quintus. She seized hold on a pen, but she could not write. She essayed to speak, so as to send him a verbal message, but her tongue clave to the roof of her mouth, and denied utterance to a single word. Her bosom heaved, as if ready to burst—but her eye was not moistened, for all was dry and parched, until at length, nature, in pity to her sufferings, let loose her springs of comfort, and sending her a plentiful flood of tears, she reposed her head on her mother's shoulder, convulsively saying, “I am now happy, for I know that Quintus loves me as well as ever.”—After she became somewhat composed, she addressed him the following letter:—

 MY DEAREST HUSBAND,

Oh, my loved Quintus, no tongue can tell what I have suffered since we parted, and till this day that I received your letter, which is the only comfort I have had for some time, I have been the most miserable of women; but I now feel assured that my dearest love has not forgotten his poor wife. If it please God, as we hope to-morrow, I will never again leave you, but oh! how shall I exist till then! I have no sleep at nights, and my days are most wretched, and I am more dead than alive, but I will now exert myself for your sake, and I will see you, let happen what will. How do


  ― 254 ―
I wish I had never left you at Southampton—I am almost worn out by my misfortunes, but as you say, hope has wonderfully sustained me through God's grace thus far, and I trust that it will still continue to do so. Oh! how I have longed to be with you—no one knows—I am not able to write much, my hand shakes so, and I am so very poorly, I can scarcely do any thing; but the God who supports me, will I hope, yet give us many happy days together. I have never ceased to pray for my dearest, morning and night—I am not equal to writing more, my ever beloved husband; our dear boy does not know where you are, but he sees I am in trouble, and in his sweet little way does all he can to try to amuse his distressed mamma. In the morning between five and six, he makes me listen to stories he had read the day before, on purpose to amuse me—he has, dear little fellow, felt my distress, for I cannot conceal it. I know not how to leave off, but I must, my dear, dear, dearest Quintus.

Your wife's blessing and prayers attend you.

   EMILY

P.S.—Do let me hear from you by the bearer.—We—you have many kind and good friends—do let me conjure you to do as they wish. Once more your Emily blesses you.

This pathetic letter at once roused him from the sullen aberration into which he had fallen, and determined him to listen attentively to the advice of the numerous and kind friends, who were exerting themselves on his behalf, and to whom he had hitherto turned almost a deaf, or at least an indifferent ear. Innumerable had been the obstacles or impediments to the accomplishment of their wishes, in hushing up this unfortunate affair, which had been experienced by those, who had been thus benevolently and actively exerting themselves; partly arising from the prejudices of some who were concerned, but still more from the flame that had been kindled in the public mind, by the newspapers of the day, which scrupled not, as too commonly occurs, to set in judgment upon the cases they relate, and to create opinions for their readers, without knowing the circumstances. In this instance, they drew a most unfair and cruel comparison between it, and another case of recent occurrence, that came within the same legal pale of crime, although widely different in every other respect, and in which, the unhappy culprit had suffered the extreme penalty of the law.

This, among other causes, had served to delay the dreaded examination from day to day, since his return to town, as even the most


  ― 255 ―
severe of his prosecutors, bore no personal ill-will towards him, and by no means wished to hurry measures forward, more than was necessary. The day following that, on which he received Emily's letter, had however been fixed for the momentous examination; and it was in allusion to this, and with a wife's inclination to cling to every hope, where the husband of her heart was concerned, that she had used the words that have been quoted, in reference to the morrow.

It had not been without very great disquietude, that Quintus for some days past, had contemplated the near approach of this fearful occasion; but the awful morning came at length in its common turn, reckless of how pregnant it was with the fate of him, as well of millions of others, and in its turn receded also, to make way for other days, still more awful than itself.—Quintus counted the minutes as they flew rapidly along, hastening the hour when he was to attend the Magistrates, and calling to his aid a strong exertion of the mind, supported himself with tolerable calmness and composure; but when at length, he heard the footsteps approaching of those, whom he knew were to accompany him to the hall of justice, and, casting a glance through the windows, saw the assembled crowd waiting with greedy eagerness, to glut their curiosity with the sight of this victim of ill-starred fortune, his assumed serenity was shaken to the very quick. But, it was now too late to draw back—his hand was on the plough, and it must go forward. He felt therefore, that all he had to do, was to buckle on the breastplate of fortitude, and endeavour to abide the result, as a man and as a Christian. Yet another trial of his strength of mind presently awaited him, upon which he had not calculated. Among the group through which he had to make his way, were some who had known him in the sunshine of his prosperity, and who now pressed close to him, whispering in his ear, “God bless you, keep up your spirits, for you have more friends than you expect.” Others seized his hand warmly, saying nothing, but turning to avert from his notice, the starting tear; there being few, very few, with whom he was not in a greater or less degree, an object of sympathy.

Arriving at the Justice Room, he was introduced into a large chamber, reserved for special occasions, where, ranged around a long table, a dozen or fourteen gentlemen, composing the city magistracy, were sitting in full solemnity, the Lord Mayor of the day being at its head, and on one side, standing near the wall, was Mr. Trusty. Taking a hasty survey of his assemblage, which comprised several, with whom he had long been upon terms of friendly intimacy, and with all of whom, he had at least, a common passing acquaintance, he could not help feeling a momentary relief by observing, that


  ― 256 ―
neither Mr. Rothero nor the clerk, with whom the bill had been negotiated, was present; and besides, he was rather at a loss to conjecture, for what purpose Mr. Trusty could be required. A faint idea stole across his bosom, that it was possible, some loop-hole for his escape might thus be contrived; but, having been particularly enjoined, whatever he might hear or see, to say nothing—to listen attentively to all that passed, and, however he might feel able to contradict or refute what he heard urged against him, still to preserve an imperturbable silence—he resolved, that no word or action of his, should give utterance to what was now passing within him. Presently, he was briefly addressed by the chief magistrate, upon the grave nature of the crime with which he was charged, cautioning him however, not to commit himself by unnecessary replies, as every thing he now said was capable of being brought in evidence against him; and who then proceeded to order the clerk to read over the deposition, that had been sworn to, by Mr. Trusty.

With an emotion he could scarcely smother, he discovered that this gentleman had entirely misconceived all the circumstances that had attended the negotiation of the bill, and a new gleam of hope sprung up, as to the ultimate issue of his present serious situation. He noticed with surprise, that Mr. Trusty had distinctly sworn that he was the party who had received the bill from Quintus; the fact having been, as before stated, that he was absent from town on that day, and that Mr. Rothero and the clerk were the parties, who could alone substantiate the case. Nevertheless he strictly followed the injunctions he had received, and offering no objection to Mr. Trusty's statement, his committal was made out, and upon withdrawing with the attendants, he learnt his destination to be Newgate, there to await the issue of the trial, that was now inevitable.

The painful duty devolving upon those, with some of whom, as before said, he had formerly lived upon terms of friendship, continued to be performed with every possible degree of tenderness and attention; and the orders that accompanied him to the prison, were of a nature, calculated to mitigate the severity of his sufferings, and to afford him all the accommodation that the place would permit; particularly in waiving certain unpleasant forms and ceremonies, and in allowing him an unrestrained intercourse with his friends. But, in the humane and considerate keeper of this house of misery, and in his amiable spouse, he found a still more powerful guarantee for these indulgencies, little to bestow, but every thing to receive, than even in the friendly inclination that had prompted them; and Quintus soon discovered that, although in a prison, he had fallen among good Samaritans.

One of his most able as well as active, and zealous advisers, upon


  ― 257 ―
this mournful occasion, was his youngest brother, Charles; who had been bred to the law, and now practised in the City, with much honor and advantage, being a man both of talents and integrity. Charles was endowed with great coolness, sound judgment, and sober discretion. He felt as a brother, but advised as a counsellor. He had strongly impressed upon Quintus, the necessity of his preserving an entire silence when before the magistrates—of his treasuring in his memory, every word that passed—and of being as collected as possible—promising that he would see him, immediately after the meeting was over, in order to acquaint himself with all the particulars of what had taken place. It was a very short while therefore, after the prison gates were closed upon the unfortunate sufferer, ere he was with him, and the two brothers were presently engaged in deep and earnest conference.

Quintus had already prepared some notes, explanatory of the discrepance between the facts of the case, and Mr. Trusty's deposition —adding, in an elated, impassioned tone, “The original thousand pounds bill, is in my little black pocket-book, which I had in my pocket, when I saw Mr. Johnson from the vessel. It bears the clerk's receipt, and there's a memorandum figured upon it, about the discount—upon which a trifling balance was due to me for change. The fact will speak for itself.”

“Yes,” said Charles, “if we can substantiate a contradiction of Trusty's evidence, I think we have grounds for hope; but, if we only disprove his testimony by proving the case for him, you do not get rid of the charge, and things will be worse instead of better. We must go very warily to work, and you must at once see that every thing depends upon your keeping your own counsel—an unguarded expression, or a misplaced confidence, may ruin every thing—and remember, Quintus, it may be a question of life or death. Let me have your notes. I will consult a friend, and do every thing that is possible.”

After he had withdrawn, the keeper of the prison came to him, and very kindly said, “Keep up a good heart, Sir. I've seen many a man come down the ladder with a smiling face, who had mounted it a few minutes before with a halter round his neck. My orders are, to provide you with private apartments, and proper attendance, and it shan't be my fault if you are not comfortable. We're just going to have a bit of dinner, and my dame bade me come, and persuade you to join us. Your rooms won't be ready till to-morrow, so you must put up in the meantime with the best she can offer.” Gratefully accepting the profferred kindness, he followed the worthy man, and, after the late tossings and anxieties he had undergone, the manner in which the few next hours were passed, was a balm to his wounded


  ― 258 ―
mind, he little expected to have found within such walls, as now encompassed him. In the evening, his Emily, his incomparable Emily, was his visitor, accompanied by her father. The interview was short, out of regard for both, extending to little beyond sighs and tears on either side; but particularly on Emily's, who, in reply to the whisper, that he had intelligence which would console her, could only say with a convulsive grasp around his neck, “One happiness is enough for one day—to have seen you again, and to know that you love me as ever, is as much as I can bear now. I will come and spend the day with you to-morrow, and then tell me every thing.”

True to her promise, the next morning she commenced a series of long, and regularly paid visits to her husband, in his wretched abode, no weather, through a protracted and severe winter, being permitted to interfere with this sad, but to her, pleasing duty.

Meanwhile, relying upon the variation between the facts of the case, and the representation made of them by Mr. Trusty before the Magistrates, Quintus felt less anxiety as to the final result, was less impressed with the horrors of his situation, than seemed natural to expect; and he looked forward to the day of trial, without any serious apprehension. His case had been submitted to the first counsel of the day, who expressed their opinion, that even admitting the disguised hand-writing to be sworn to as his, the indictment of forging must fail, on account of the venue; his residence having been in one county, and his place of business in another—and that the uttering part of the offence, by a skilful cross-examination, and the exhibition of the thousand pounds bill, bearing the clerk's receipt, with his figures relating to the discount, would most probably fail also, by extracting from Trusty an admission of his mistake.

But a cause, more intimately perhaps connected with one of the principles of our nature, than even with the hopes so existing, had a considerable effect in producing with Quintus, a composure and serenity, to which he had long been a stranger: and this was, the readiness wherewith man can always adapt himself to circumstances—the inclination, planted in him by nature, to seek consolation by comparison; and the relief he felt that, even at so dear a price, he had rid himself of a burthen, which had greatly exceeded his strength. The soothing attentions too, of his wife, who never breathed a syllable of reproach, but endeavoured to lessen his grief, by a cheerful countenance over an aching heart, and by true and fervid devotion, in which she sought to encourage him to join, tended mainly to the same end. To these may be super-added, his facility in employing a vacant hour, which never permitted him to find time, even in a prison, hang heavily; so that upon the whole, loss of liberty proved any thing but what his imagination had pictured to itself;


  ― 259 ―
and, strange to say, he was not only tranquil, but it might almost be said, contented.

While such was the state of affairs within the prison-house, his friends were far from being inactive without, and supporters started up, where they were little expected. Mr. Rothero had felt much, and acutely for him; and happening one morning to meet Mr. Clifton, accosted him somewhat abruptly—“Ah! Mr. Clifton! the very man I wanted to see. Do you think you could persuade Quintus Servinton to plead guilty? It will certainly save his life if you can.”

“I really can say nothing upon so serious a subject,” replied Mr. Clifton, “without knowing more particulars. I cannot speak of the grounds of his defence, but the responsibility of the course you have suggested, is, to say the least, so awful, that I own I shudder at its very idea.”

“You will believe, I hope, that I am as anxious about him, as any of his relations can be. I assure you I do not speak out of book, in what I now say; and if you can persuade him to abandon whatever may be his defence, and to plead guilty—I have not a doubt that a commutation of sentence will be effected. It is placing me, as a prosecutor, although one by compulsion, in rather a delicate situation; but I have known him many years, and will therefore explain myself to you more fully. He will be tried, as you know, by the Recorder; and before the sentences are passed, the Aldermen and Lord Mayor of the day are always consulted, and the majority of their opinions is invariably attended to. I have been through it myself, in my own mayoralty and must know. Several cases have occurred, where such a course has been attended by the effects I state, and it has never once failed. Look at how many of the prosecutors are members of the corporation! they have no vindictive feeling against your son-in-law, but quite the contrary. They want a conviction for the sake of justice, but nothing farther; and let that object be attained, they wish to use their influence for his benefit. This can be done quietly, when it would be impossible otherwise. Believe me, I would not have gone thus far, but from my earnest wish to save him; and you may rely upon my having good grounds, for what I have said.”

Mr. Clifton listened, as might be supposed, with the most painful attention; and promised that a communication upon the subject should instantly be made to Quintus, adding, “I cannot do more than that, as I dare not recommend, although I fully believe your sincerity, and appreciate your kind intentions.”

“I have much more to say to you upon the subject,” replied Mr. Rothero, “at some other time, and have no doubt I can remove your scruples, and for holding which, you certainly cannot be blamed. I


  ― 260 ―
must wish you good morning now, but will see you again shortly—pray let what I have said, be earnestly impressed upon Servinton.”

No time was lost by Mr. Clifton in imparting to Charles, the particulars of the subject thus brought under consideration; and both agreed, that the course recommended was too terrible to be hastily adopted—that they should never forgive themselves if it ended unfortunately; and that, the utmost they could do, should be to relate the whole to Quintus, leaving him to decide as he might think best. As might be expected, the question so raised, excited in his mind great distress and perplexity—feelings that were rather subsequently increased than lessened, by what continued to reach him, from and through the same quarters, and which received a farther additional weight, from the answers he received, whenever he sought the advice or opinions of others—“We cannot advise—it is too serious a question—we can but tell you all that happens; and may an all-wise God direct you to the right judgment.”

While his mind was harassed and torn by this fresh disquietude, he endeavoured to assist towards arriving at a just conclusion, by committing his thoughts or reflections to paper; and as he was thus employed one morning, in his little sitting-room, full of deep meditation upon some intelligence that had just been imparted, a knock at the door introduced one of the Aldermen of the City, whose visit was prompted by the most friendly motives.

He stayed some time, urging very forcibly, advice similar to that which had been over and over again given by Mr. Rothero; exemplifying his argument by reference to several cases, which had come within his knowledge, particularly one of much more serious import than the present, where it was clearly shewn that nothing but the plea of guilty, had saved the delinquent's life. Soon after this Gentleman, whose name was Stephens, had departed, Quintus received a letter from Mr. Clifton, with some further information bearing upon the same point; and, although he still cautiously abstained from any direct opinion, it was easy to discover, by the tone of his expressions, what was the bias of his wishes.

Quintus replied to his father-in-law as follows:—

   Tuesday, 29th March.

My Dear Sir,—

I am much obliged by your letter—and the enclosure which I now send for your perusal, is the result of my own deliberation, written this morning, will shew you that I view the thing pretty much as you do. Please to make what use of it you think proper, and give it to Emily to bring with her to-morrow. Mr. Alderman Stephens has been with me this morning—he was very, very kind—begged me earnestly


  ― 261 ―
to be governed implicitly, by what was communicated to me by Charles and yourself—and said, that if he were carried in arms to the Court, he would attend. He said many other things equally kind and friendly. For my own part, I should think it next to madness to run against a course, so clearly, so benevolently marked out for me.” Ever your's,

   Q. S.

The enclosure was as follows:—

Under any circumstances, there is a considerable degree of peril in my present situation. The question is, in which course is the least?—On the one hand, my danger is—first, that the prosecutors may not be sincere in their assurances—secondly, that they may not possess sufficient weight with the Court—and thirdly, that the Court may not have the presumed influence with the supreme Authorities.

Let each be examined separately. The recommendation as to my plea, is the unsought, the voluntary conduct of the prosecutors. If they were not convinced within their own minds, that their influence with the bench is sufficient, it is not natural to believe of any set of men, or even of any individual, that they or he, would advise a fellow-creature to place himself at the very lowest depth of human misery, unless to raise him again from it. They must know that, however confidently a conviction may be anticipated, there is no certainty in the law, and that a lucky chance may help me. It is not likely therefore, that they should have said any thing upon the subject of their wishes or intentions, as to degree of punishment, unless they had been thoroughly sincere. One's knowledge of human nature generally, when not aided by education, rank in life, or the benevolence of Christianity, forbids the entertainment of the idea for a single moment, that a person, circumstanced as I am, could be deliberately betrayed. Indeed, I could not have allowed my mind to reason upon the subject a second time, had I not already found, on more than one occasion, what certainly were just expectations, falsified by the event. The stake is however, now become too serious, to suppose that such could again be the case; and notwithstanding that, a certain degree of fear will, spite of myself, creep into my breast, I cannot bring myself to believe seriously, that I have any thing to apprehend from insincerity, either on the part of the whole body, or of any one member, of the Mining Company.




  ― 262 ―

The next consideration involves the question, upon the value or weight of their recommendation. From the peculiar station in life of many of the prosecutors, they must know, better than myself, the degree of importance attached to such recommendations in criminal cases. The same arguments which apply to the first proposition, have therefore, their full influence upon the second; and if, upon mature conviction, I am bound to have faith in their sincerity, I am equally bound to have faith in their power. They surely would not have named the thing at all, if it were only to be accompanied by hollow sounds of delusive good wishes. They would never have volunteered the least interference, but have permitted the affair to take its natural chance and course, had they been in the slightest degree doubtful, that their recommendation might by possibility, be any thing short of effective.

Upon the third position, much already said, as to their consciousness of ability, fully applies; and it must be borne in mind, as standing upon record that, since the original constitution of the Court, the recommendation, such as is held out to me, has ever been esteemed sacred by the higher powers.

What cause therefore, unless it be arising from fear, inseparably attached to one's self, have I to doubt that my case will be the first, wherein this course may be departed from? If, when the age was less civilized than it now is, the recommendation of the Court was so respected by its superiors, as has been represented to me, is there any thing to induce the belief that, in the present more enlightened state of society, less respect than formerly would be paid to it? Certainly not! and however mistrustful, spite of myself, I may sometimes be, I am compelled to acknowledge, upon mature consideration, that this feeling owes its source rather to fear than reason.

There is this, to be added to the same view of the question. I have two powerful pleas to urge on my behalf, of both which, those are ignorant, who have already expressed their kind feeling and intention; and they are both too, capable of proof. The one is, my ignorance of the nature of the offence I had committed, until the 24th of November; and to which, Mr. Gordon can bear testimony—the other, my strong grounds for expecting a legal acquittal. If therefore, this merciful feeling now exist, as I am convinced it does, is it not more than probable that, it will


  ― 263 ―
rather he increased than lessened, when my entire case is fully before the proper parties? Upon the whole then, can I, if I wished to be sceptical, find cause to be so? or, have I not rather, abundant reason to have implicit faith that, the arm which is extended towards me, is at once sincerely merciful and consciously powerful? My danger on the other hand, is certainly equal, to say the least; but, I think it greater.—I have to
fear that, I may be found guilty; and, although upon this point, hope may predominate, fear has assuredly better foundation, than a suspicion either of insincerity or want of power, on the part of others.

And after all, what is the very utmost I can hope for, under the very best of circumstances? An acquittal! A thing, of itself, perfectly useless to me—a thing, which would find me bereft of home, of character, of property, of almost every thing, desirable in life. I shall have every thing to seek, every thing to toil for—and where is the quarter, to which I have any right to look for assistance? Saying therefore that, the hopes and fears, the security and danger, were equal on both sides, my deliberate opinion is that, that course is the proper one, which gives least farther publicity to the affair—that, wherein I can afterwards best urge extenuating pleadings—that where, by letting others see I had something to bestow, I may hope to receive something in return—that, which will best denote contrition, not defiance—which bespeaks a penitent regret—not the being hardened—which, distinguishing between public justice, and private sympathy, conforms to the one, and appreciates the other—that, which is most likely to open for me a road, for again possessing a home, a character, and property—in a word, that by which I shall not have to appear with one foot in the grave, endeavouring to prevent the other from following it, by deliberate untruths, or by advancing arguments, founded only on sophistry; but, where on the contrary I may boldly advance truths, which, even if they serve no other purpose, will at least tend to rescue my memory, from disgrace and dishonor.”

Such were this ill fated man's reflections within a few short days of that awful occasion, when he was to be summoned to the bar as a criminal, to answer for breach of his country's laws; and although he was again and again assured by his brother and other friends, that every thing was prepared for his defence—that first-rate counsel were retained, and that there was nothing to lessen his confident hopes of acquittal, should he resolve to take his trial, his


  ― 264 ―
determination to abandon the strong ground he knew he possessed, and to plead guilty, remained firm and unvaried; and under the full impression that his life, chiefly dear to him on account of his wife and child, was secure, he awaited the dreadful exhibition before a public tribunal, not merely with composure, but with a calm and dignified resignation.

On the day but one before the trial, Charles and Mr. Clifton had an interview with Mr. Rothero, when the former signified his brother's final resolve, adding, “He has adopted your suggestions, entirely uninfluenced by his friends; and we think it due to him, that you should now fully perfect every arrangement, so that nothing may fail at the hour of need.” In reply he said, “I am rejoiced at what you have told me; 'tis the only way to save his life. There will be a meeting of the company to day at two o'clock, when I will attend, and do every that is needful. You have relieved me from a most painful anxiety, and we will see one another to-morrow morning, when you shall know what has been done.”

All this, was as usual, communicated to Quintus without delay, and tended, as might have been expected, to strengthen or confirm his determination; still further too, enabling him to contemplate with serenity, the awful hour that was now rapidly approaching.

previous
next