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Quintus Servinton Volume One




  ― xxxiii ―

Preface

Let not the Readers of Quintus Servinton adopt an unfavorable impression towards it, because the author has thought fit to depart from a custom now-a-days in fashion, and to prefix to his publication a few introductory observations, calculated, he conceives, to act the Master of the Ceremonies, and to bring his pretensions before the world under more favourable auspices, than he might otherwise be justified in anticipating.

First, then, as to the tale itself. Although it appears under this shape, — or, as some may perhaps call it, novel, — it is no fiction, or the work of imagination, either in its characters or incidents. Not by this, however, is it pretended to be said that all the occurrences it details, happened precisely in their order of narration, nor that it is the mere recital of the events of a man's life — but it is a biography, true in its general features, and in its portraiture of individuals; and all the documents, letters and other papers contained in its pages are transcripts, or nearly so, of originals, copied from the manuscript, which came into the author's hands in the manner described in the introductory chapter.

Thus much for the subject of the Work. Now, for a few words of a more personal nature, as respects him by whom it is written. It was not wholly a desire of fame, nor the hope of profit, nor, he trusts, an over-weening vanity, that led the author to “o'erstep the modesty of nature,” and venture to compose a book; but it was the idea that he might convey useful and instructive precepts under their most attractive guise — the force of example. Let him not be understood, however, as wishing to convey that he feels indifferent upon the point, either of honor or of a fair remuneration for his time; for, were he regardless of the first, he might be enticed into a careless laxity, quite irreconcilable with prudence on the part of one, who treads so dangerous and uncertain a path as that of Literature, when intended for the amusement of others; and so far as the second is concerned, there are few, similarly circumstanced to the Author — whose chief dependence is the allegiance due to his King and Country, who can afford to consider it altogether immaterial, whether they devote many long and wearisome hours to an employment, “free, gratis, and all for nothing,” or, whether they reap some advantage from their labours. Perhaps, therefore, each of the inducements has had some weight in the production of Quintus Servinton. But, alas! so little do we know what is before us — so abortive are our plans oft


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rendered by the events of an hour, equally unexpected as beyond our controul, that when the manuscript of the following pages was nearly completed, and ready to be placed in the hands of the Printer, orders arrived for embarkation on a distant service. What course therefore remained open? Either to employ the many and tiresome hours of a passage from England to this distant Colony, in the completion of the work, and then to send the manuscript home for publication, subject to all the inconveniences that must have inevitably attended such a plan, and which are as well known to authors as the want of the last touch — the last finish, would be understood and lamented, by the professors of the various branches of the Arts and Sciences; or to defer till a return to Europe, the ushering into existence the fruit of his labours. Most unexpectedly, however, the termination of the voyage removed one very great difficulty; for, by the extraordinary progress that has been made, in adapting this little speck upon the Southern Ocean, to the wants and necessities of Englishmen, it was found easily practicable to print and publish an octavo work, in Van Diemen's Land.

It may be hoped that the mere circumstance alone, of Quintus Servinton's being the first publication of this nature, that has ever issued from a Colonial Press, may induce a favourable reception of the undertaking, both here and in England; particularly, when it is borne in mind, that this Press exists in one of the most recently formed of the English Colonies. The Author has not to learn that he requires some such extraneous help, towards supplying the numerous demands upon the patience of the reader which, he fears, will be found to pervade his pages; and when he adds, that the style of composition is entirely new to him, he is aware how much further occasion he has to solicit indulgence for his temerity in entering an arena, where a mighty genius has latterly presided, chasing from the very precincts, all, whose pretensions do not exceed mediocrity.

Still, is he not dismayed; because, strip him even of all other laurels, he defies the hand that may be lifted against the moral tendency of his tale; and he has not now to learn the great influence this ever has, in creating favor with the British Public. Had time and occasion served, perhaps he could have made the work more perfect in its form, its style, and language; yet, the correctness of its details could not have been improved. Such as it is, therefore, he entrusts it with some degree of confidence, to the countenance and support of the English Nation.

   Van Diemen's Land, 1830




  ― xxxv ―

Introductory Chapter

Books, my dear girl, when well design'd,
Are moral maps of human kind —
Where, stretched before judicious eyes,
The road to worth and wisdom lies.

BISHOP

Which of my readers chances to be acquainted with the beautiful scenery of the South of Devonshire? and which, being so acquainted, recollects where the Dart, gliding its limpid way between Dartmouth and Totness, waters a range of fertile meadows, interspersed every here and there by a thickly tufted knoll, from whose eminence the picturesque windings of the clear stream, seen at a short distance under its lofty cliffs, give to the prospect an appearance, more interesting and more romantic, than even a poet could describe? If there be any such, let his recollection be carried a little farther, and perhaps it may present to him a spot, nearly equidistant from the two towns, where, in the centre of a lawn, gently shelving towards the river, flanked on the rear by a luxuriantly wooded hill, on one side by a continuous tract of rich pastures, and on the other by a lane, conducting the traveller to the village of Appleford, stands a remarkably handsome cottage, immediately surrounded by a shrubbery, kept in the highest order, and communicating with the lane by a wicket, that opens upon a smooth, wide gravel road, leading to the front door, whence it again turns with a sweep, to the offices in the rear of the building.

The cottage itself is small, but singularly attractive in its appearance, from the tasty manner of laying out the grounds around it, evidently denoting that elegance and excellent management preside within its walls, under their fairest shape and form. Along its front is a veranda, clinging to whose pillars, the climatis and passion flower vie in their endeavours to add to the beauty of the place. Close to the house, are jessamines, honey-suckles, and China roses, in luxuriant profusion, almost concealing the stucco with which the walls are covered. On different parts of the grass plot in front, which has been brought by constant mowing and rolling, to be as smooth as velvet, are flower-beds, stored with all the choicest productions of the country; rose-bushes trained along the ground by layers, and at various distances, flowering and other shrubs, attaining great size and perfection,


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from the peculiarly mild and salubrious climate where they have been planted.

Towards this charming spot, accident led me one fine day at the latter end of last August, and introduced to my knowledge a variety of circumstances connected with its inhabitants, which struck me as being sufficiently extraordinary, to induce my becoming an author; although, so far as my readers are concerned, they doubtless might have been benefitted, had the chance that befel me, occurred to many, rather than myself.

Tempted by the extreme beauty of the scenery in this sequestered valley, I was rambling, attended only by a favourite spaniel, led on by that silent meditation ever sacred to the sylvan God, stopping every now and then, and endeavouring by my pencil, to sketch the alternate grand and lowly, but every where romantic landscape, when the short, quick bark of Dash, announced that he had started game; and I almost immediately saw him pursuing a hare through an adjoining corn-field, deaf to my calls, and regardless of my repeated summons to return. Unwilling to be deemed a trespasser by the neighbouring farmers, yet finding all endeavours to reclaim the truant ineffectual, I was making my way after him, full of bitterness and wrath, and had ascended one of the high banks, for which the hedges in that part of the country are remarkable, when, in jumping to the ground, upon the opposite side, my foot slipped, and I fell, unable to move, presently finding that I had disclocated my ancle.

Entirely a stranger, and in complete ignorance with regard to the proximity of any dwelling, my repeated cries for assistance were made rather in fear, than hope, and their echoes reverberating from the rocky cliffs of the river, fell on my ear, solemn and melancholy in the extreme. Hour after hour thus passed on, and notwithstanding I hallooed and bawled until perfectly hoarse, no friendly response relieved my anxiety — no passing traveller appeared to cheer and encourage me; and when at length, the golden tints of the sun, as it approached the western horizon, were reflected upon the foliage of the trees, at a short distance, changing their hue from time to time, according to its progressive descent, the splendid scene which at other times would be calculated to afford a delightful interest, now created in my breast, a chilling sickness, mingled with horror, and the most gloomy apprehensions, not only so far as personal sufferings were concerned, but as to my very existence.

While thus enduring the most agonising solicitude, a whistle, and immediately afterwards a voice, calling out, “Rose! Rose! here, here, come here, you little Snap!” rewarded my long and anxious listening; and raising myself, in the best manner I was able, and once more


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essaying to be heard, although I had nearly lost my voice by previous ineffectual exertions, I had the inexpressible delight of seeing a human being, within a couple of hundred yards of me, and presently afterwards, of observing that I was noticed.

Let those who have ever experienced an unlooked for deliverance in the hour of need, for no other can, enter into, and sympathise with my feelings, when, in the course of a minute or two, a handsome boy, apparently twelve or thirteen years of age, followed by his two dogs, made his appearance. His dress, and general appearance, marked him a Gentleman's son; and the survey I obtained of his features as he approached, gave me cause equally to admire their regularity, as their sweet expression. His eyes were dark and full, set off by thick auburn hair, and a bright, fair complexion. Across his shoulder was hung a fishing basket; in one hand he carried a rod and line, and in the other, a small bag. Never shall I forget his beautiful cast of countenance, during the few moments that he listened to my tale of misery; indeed, he would barely allow me to finish, ere he exlaimed with a tone and expression, all his own, “My Grandpapa and Grandmamma live just across these two fields, under the wood, and I'll run and tell them. My Grandmamma is so good and kind, I'm sure she'll take care of you;” then, without allowing me time to reply, away he bounded with the rapidity of a young deer.

I was scarcely able to compose my fluttered spirits under this happy change of prospects, when, still looking in the direction my youthful deliverer had taken, I saw him returning, holding the hand of a Gentleman, and closely followed by two men carrying a hand-barrow, on which were placed cushions. The Gentleman was of middle stature, and fair, with brown hair, a good deal mingled with gray; although time did not appear to have alone had a hand in this, as his age did not strike me as exceeding sixty; and his walk was firm and erect. In his general appearance and mode of salutation there was a certain concomitant of good birth, which is always easy and polite, and it was quite evident that he had seen much of the world — on his brow sat melancholy and care, softened by resignation — there was nothing stern about him; on the contrary, a mildness, a placidity distinguished his expression, but yet there was a something about the eye, betraying that his mind had been torn by early storms. I attempted to apologise, but he instantly stopped me. “I have known myself, Sir, what a friend is, in the hour of need, and God forbid I should ever withhold that, which I have freely received. Olivant, my dear boy,” addressing the child, “run home and tell your Grandmamma we are coming, Sir,” continued he, again addressing me, “the very best woman in the world, at least, I think her so, will do every


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thing your accident requires — allow me the honor of assisting you on the barrow. Thomas, carry the Gentleman as easily as you can, and let us make homewards.”

Proceeding in this way, it was not long until we had accomplished my painful journey; — painful, I may indeed say, for notwithstanding every precaution, my agony was intense. At the door, we were met by a Lady, perhaps some years younger than the Gentleman, and one single look induced me to yield a willing assent to the commendation, I had heard bestowed on her. “Emily my dearest,” said my friendly guide, “I have brought you a patient; this Gentleman has dislocated his ancle.”

“We had better send instantly for Mr. Setwell,” replied the Lady; “in the meantime, pray use the drawing-room.”

It had been already strictly enjoined me, not to be ceremonious, nor to attempt to control whatever was proposed for my relief. I therefore gratefully, but tacitly yielded to the steps thus taken, and being carried into a nicely furnished room, was carefully laid upon the sofa. So soon as I was sufficiently at ease, to cast my eyes around me, I had abundant cause to acquiesce in the justice of the attributes ascribed, both by Grandfather and Grandson (for so my two deliverers appeared to be,) to the Lady of the house; every thing exhibiting marks of that refinement of ideas, peculiar to the female taste and character; and presently the entrance of the Lady herself, allowed me a farther opportunity of estimating her character. Surely, if woman's praises were ever justly due, they belong to this amiable, and excellent creature. In her youth she must have been eminently handsome; but what is that, compared with the heavenly expression of the mind, visibly pourtrayed by all the lines of her countenance? I could trace a strong resemblance between this Lady, and her beautiful Grandson; although it was also easy to discover the affinity of the Grandfather. It might be tedious and uninteresting, to detail all the occurrences of the fortnight I spent under the roof of this hospitable couple, ere my removal was permitted. In return for the card I early put into the hands of my friendly host, he simply gave me to understand, that his name was Quintus Servinton; that the Lady was his wife, and the youth, one of the children of an only son, who resided at a distance. The course of events, daily brought us better acquainted; and, if at first, I had reason to admire and esteem the Lady, I absolutely venerated her, before I took my leave; with respect too, to her husband, his fond devotion, and evident strong attachment both to her and his Grandson, who was really a charming, well-behaved child, added to many other little traits of character I observed, so counteracted an occasional tendency to pettishness, which would now and then peep through his calm melancholy, that I quite


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loved and respected him, and felt sincerely for his sorrows, without knowing their cause; in a word, I became attached to the whole of this interesting family. Our evenings were generally passed in a book or music room, fitted up in a manner, to bid defiance to ennui, in whatever shape it might make its advances. Here, we sometimes alternately read aloud some popular Author; at others, employed ourselves in more solitary avocations; relieving the hours, by entertaining and rational converse. The medical Gentleman who attended me, had now pronounced, that in a day or two, I might venture to move, and as we were all sitting together one evening, talking of the vicissitudes of life, Mr. Servinton said, “We none of us know what is before us, or what we can bear, until we are tried; you see before you, a man who has tasted of the cup of affliction, or I would rather call it chastening, to its very dregs, but God was kind to me through all, as he sent me an angel in a human form, to comfort, console, and advise me.” Here he seemed overcome by a momentary intensity of feeling, and as he wiped away the starting tear, rose, kissed his wife, then his grandson, and continued.—“You must excuse me, Sir, but a man who has been married between thirty and forty years, may be allowed to praise his wife, even before strangers — but mine must be rewarded by Heaven, not by me, for I am incapable of rendering her, half her meed of justice. One false step, one dereliction from sound principle on my part, in early life, was the occasion of misery to both of us for years afterwards; but it enabled me, I trust, to know the value of two inestimable jewels, my wife, and my immortal soul. You may derive instruction, Sir, from being made acquainted with my story; it is capable of teaching you, and forcibly exemplifying a few important truths. The mirror of life, as held up to us, by the faults and follies of our neighbours, may always be looked into with advantage; from such as I can present may be learnt, the danger of self-sufficiency, or the over estimation of one's powers. That no other course than what is perfectly straight forward and honourable, free from all cutting and contrivance, can ever be trod with safety.—That the imprudence of exceeding such means as are well at command, in the businesses of life, is like building a house upon a rotten foundation, only to involve the individual himself and many innocent persons, in ruin by the fall. You may further draw two or three consolatory reflections from my history; one is, particularly, never to give way to despair, but, under the most trying circumstances, have trust in God. Another—

That there's a date set, to all sorrows—
Nothing is everlasting in this world.”

Before you leave us, I will lend you for perusal some notes I have


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taken from time to time, but we will not pursue the subject now, for I assure you it is sufficiently painful.”

Both Mr. Servinton, and his wife, were well informed persons upon most subjects; — conversation seldom flagged, and I now endeavoured to change it; although, had it not been for the hint contained in his last few words, my curiosity was sufficiently excited, to make me wish to hear more. The next morning, he put into my hands, a packet, saying — “When you have read this, let me have it again.” I instantly shut myself in my apartment, and commenced the perusal of a narrative, which did indeed, surprize, instruct, and interest me. When I returned it the following day, I besought permission to lay before the Public, the extraordinary detail I had read; but was met by a most decided negative.

I was too desirous, however, of gaining my point, to be easily repulsed; and the subsequent arguments I used, were more successful — ending at length, in my receiving an assent, which has brought me for the first time, upon the field of literature, as an Author. I am fully aware of my humble pretensions to this character, but hope I may at least be considered the means of communicating an instructive lesson — and will only add, that if others are half so much affected and interested by the perusal of my tale, as I was by my acquaintance with one of its most prominent characters, they will pardon all my defects of style, and heartily thank me, for bringing them acquainted with Quintus Servinton.

   THE AUTHOR




  ― 1 ―

Chapter I

“Give me your hand, and let me see
Your future fate, and Heaven's decree.”


It was at the beginning of August, 1772, that a gentleman who was travelling on horseback, across the moors in the neighbourhood of the Tees, accompanied by a faithful and trusty servant, was met by a troop of gipsies, the foremost or leader of whom approached, with the view apparently of accosting him. He was tall and of very erect stature, as if, in early life, he had been a soldier, and though his ragged and tattered garments, now bespoke too plainly the ignominy of the calling he had adopted, there was a certain something in his manner, an air of superiority in his gait, which commanded respect, in spite of his habiliments, and denoted full plainly that he had seen better days.

The other members of the party, were a mixed assemblage of old and young men and women, with some half-naked children; and following at a little distance in the rear, was an apology for a cart drawn by a miserable horse, serving as a conveyance for most of the moveables of the itinerants. At first, Mr. Servinton, for so the gentleman was named, felt a momentary apprehension, that the property he had about him, might be endangered by such company — a feeling, not likely to be greatly relieved, by any dependence he might have upon his attendant Sam, he being one of those, who think discretion is the better part of valour; and that, “he who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day.”

Any idea of danger, was however, but transient; for the countenance of the leader, and his mild and placid manner, were not reconcileable with the pursuits of persons, disposed to violence; and before the two parties absolutely met, all perturbation, even on Sam's part, was removed.

“It's a soft morning, Sir,” said the leader, gently doffing a cap, made of the skin of some animal from which none of the fur had been taken.

“It is;” replied Mr. Servinton, “but pray, my good folks, which way are you travelling? for I'll tell you what, 'tis my duty as a Justice of the Peace, bids me keep the country clear of vagrants, and the appearance of your troop, seems to bespeak that I shall be obliged to use my interference, if you think of taking up your quarters in this neighbourhood.”




  ― 2 ―

“Save you, and bless your bonny face,” replied one of the females of the party — “I'm sure, the heart that lies under it, cannot be a hard one — and we're only going to Carlisle, your Honor, and only meant to stay in yonder copse for a day or two, till we're a little rested; — an your Honor will be so kind as to shut your Honor's eyes till we are gone, I'll tell your Honor's fortune, — and if 'tis like your face, it must be a happy one.”

Mr. Servinton was one of those good-natured, unaffected country Gentlemen, who are an honor to England. The eldest son of a long and respectable line of ancestry, well educated, accustomed from his infancy, to mix with persons of the highest rank in his County, possessing a handsome patrimony in some valuable estates, to which he had considerably added by purchase, he spent the greatest part of his time, in the bosom of his family, at a large, old-fashioned hall, near the village of Lartingham, devoting his chief attention to such pursuits as usually mark a country life, but relieving their monotony by indulging a taste for drawing, and an ardent attachment to classic literature — in both which he was a proficient. With him, the Commission of the Peace was not made the means of enhancing an imaginary importance among his neighbours, nor of oppressing the poor by a vexatious exercise of power; nor, in a word, of ever departing from the principle of tempering justice with mercy. It therefore was by no means difficult to persuade him, not to interrupt the proceedings of his new acquaintances, provided they conducted themselves peaceably and orderly; nor, as he was not altogether free from curiosity of disposition, was he inclined to lose the opportunity of learning what would be pretended to be uttered, as his future destiny. Accordingly, he briefly addressed the troop, in reply to the appeal that had been made him, observing that, as they had not been brought before him in his Magisterial capacity, he would not interfere with them, unless their own behaviour rendered it necessary; then turning to the female speaker, and throwing her a sixpence, he said, “Come my good woman; let's have a trial of your skill — let's know what's to be my fortune.”

The woman, pleased that her request had been granted, and flattered by the easy familiar tone, by which she had been accosted; — a tone, always at the command of a true Gentleman, without its being allowed in reply, immediately stepped forward, and muttering certain unintelligible words, proceeded to investigate the lines on Mr. Servinton's palm. Her shrewd dark countenance underwent many changes, whilst she was making her observations. Sometimes a smile, as of apparent delight, played around her mouth, and caused her to exhibit a regular set of teeth, which, contrasted with the general contour of her face, gave the whole, rather an engaging


  ― 3 ―
appearance. At others, her melancholy, still cast of features, implied that all was not agreeable — and at one particular moment, a tear came into her piercing black eye, and filling it quite to overflowing, ran over upon her cheek, and was immediately succeeded by a smile; which presently again gave way to tears and sighs; the whole being closed by a laugh, as of pleasure, a clapping of hands, and an exclamation — “I see it all! I see it all! — he's happy at last!”

Mr. Servinton, although perfectly free from superstition, and possessing a strong, well-cultivated mind, could not witness the passing scene without interest. He desired the woman to explain what had so affected her; and in reply she addressed him as follows:—

Sweets and sours—more sours than sweets
A new-born Son your Honor greets;”—

and then, pausing a little, and assuming a most solemn tone, added, “Your children will be a score, less two. He who is now entering the world, will give you as much pleasure, and as much pain, as any of them — thrice will he be in danger of sudden or violent death — thrice will he undergo great reverses of fortune — his thrice tenth year will be the commencing scene of his disasters — when he reaches his fortieth, he will have passed through all dangers, and will attain a happy and peaceful old age; but warn him from his cradle of from thirty to forty.”

The two parties now separated; Mr. Servinton to proceed to his own mansion, which was only a few miles distant, and where, he was now returning, after a months absence, in a neighbouring county, whither he had gone, according to his annual custom, for the purpose of looking after his estates, and meeting his tenants. Although an addition to his already large family, had been expected, he had not yet heard that the event had taken place; and scarcely allowing himself to think what weight to attach to the Gipsy's prophecy, opposed as it was to his conviction of the absurdity of such pretensions to a knowledge of the future, he could not so far divest himself of it, as to help mentally feeling that, whether or not, it should influence his mind, would in some measure depend upon the fulfilment or otherwise, of the first part of the prediction.

Thus ruminating, he travelled slowly along his way, scarcely noticing the endeavours made by his attendant every now and then, to introduce a word edgeways, until at length, Sam, rather elevating his voice, observed, “I'm thinking, Master, these Witches must be nation cunning, thus to tell folk's fortunes — I had my fortune told when I was a young man, and it has all come true.”

“Has it?” replied Mr. Servinton, “Pray what might you have been told, Sam?”




  ― 4 ―

“That I should never be married, Master, for one thing, and that I should live twenty years in one place for another. As to the first, I was then courting Margaret Bousfield, but I knew that if I married against the will of these Witches, and their like, we should have nothing but trouble, and so I broke off the match — and as for the other part, your Honor knows how true that has proved.”

“You should not call such people Witches, Sam!” said his Master, “they are Gipsies, and their pretensions to divination, serve only to amuse the ignorant and vulgar. You did very wrong, to desert a poor girl, upon such insufficient grounds; there are few things more cruel or more wicked, than to obtain a woman's affections and then leave her. I had really thought better of you, than to have believed the stories I formerly heard, with regard to you and Margaret, and I am doubly sorry to find them confirmed by yourself, upon so improper a cause, as a Gipsy's fortune-telling.” He then went on to explain to Sam, that Gipsies abound in all parts of Europe, particularly in Hungary, where they travel in large bands or hordes like Arabs, gaily dressed in red and green, and often well armed and mounted. They are every where averse to regular employment, preferring to lead a rambling, desultory life. In Prussia, they are sometime enrolled as soldiers, bon gré, mal gré; but even when disciplined to the use of arms, they never forget their early habits; nor do they omit seizing every opportunity of showing their dislike to the service. He was continuing in this manner, further illustrating his observations by some anecdotes, characteristic of the race, when he came within sight of Lartingham Hall, the smoke from whose chimnies, curling as it rose among the trees, was his first welcome home; nor can there ever be a welcome, that is more grateful to the eyes of the homeward bound traveller.

Lartingham Hall was a building rather commodious than handsome. It stood in the centre of a ring fence, inclosing one hundred and twenty acres, bounded on all sides by a narrow lane, whose hedges, formed of a great variety of flowering shrubs and trees, were now exhibiting their several beauties in many different hues and forms. The inclosure had formerly been a park, but was now divided into several large fields, those nearest the house being thickly planted with ornamental timber, in orchards and shrubberies; the house itself, standing in the midst of a smooth, highly cultivated lawn. At a short distance in the rear, were extensive and well-arranged kitchen-gardens, hot-houses, and pineries; and the offices, all which were extremely convenient, were so situated as scarcely to be perceptible from the parts of the house, usually inhabited by the family.

Mr. Servinton had been disposed to while away the ideas floating in his mind in consequence of the occurrence of the morning, and


  ― 5 ―
had therefore the more readily entered into conversation with his servant; but Sam was at all times a great favorite with his Master — he had lived with him previous to his marriage — was faithful, and warmly attached to the family; and, in virtue of these and other claims or qualifications, had become a sort of Major domo with the other servants; over whom, as well as the children, he often exercised an authority, equal at least, if not superior, to that assumed by his master.

Just as he had rode a few paces forwards, to open the great gate, leading through a stately avenue of ash-trees to the house, a groom was seen riding rapidly across the common they had lately passed, wearing Mr. Servinton's grey livery, and following a gentleman who was pressing his horse greatly beyond his ordinary speed. As they were proceeding at a much quicker rate than Mr. Servinton, they were soon sufficiently near to enable him to discover, that the gentleman was Mr. Bates, Mrs. Servinton's medical attendant upon occasions that added to her matronly honours; and the truth at once flashed across his mind, that in one part, at least, the Gipsy's prediction had been accomplished: and ere he reached the house he was overtaken by the Doctor, when he was informed, that about two hours previously, the servant had been sent to summon him, with orders to spare no haste.

At the hall door was the head nurse, who had the almost unlimited control of the numerous young progeny, waiting full of smiles and simpers, to announce that her dear Mistress had been complaining early in the forenoon; that although James had been immediately dispatched for Mr. Bates, a fine healthy boy had been born long before he could have reached his destination; and that both mother and son “were doing as well as could be expected.”

So soon as his feelings, alike of agitation and agreeable surprise, were a little subsided, Mr. Servinton retired to his room, full of deep musings upon the singular occurrence that had preceded the birth of this, his fifth son. He was a most affectionate husband, and truly fond of his children; but a birth was so regularly an annual, that much of the charm of the infantine hours of offspring was deadened by its constant recurrence; and it was observed, by the acquaintances of the family, as a mark of character rather surprising in a man of his disposition, that his attachment to his children was comparatively little developed, until they advanced towards puberty, when he became the fondest of parents.

If the untoward events that happen to most of us, in our passage through life, be traced to their true and legitimate source, they will but too frequently, be found to owe their origin to certain defects of early education. We very commonly see parents almost totally


  ― 6 ―
indifferent as to what impressions their children receive; what associations they form; or what habits they acquire during their infancy, fondly thinking, that it is ample time as yet, to correct any evil propensity they may acquire; and full early, to practise any restraint upon the childs engaging follies. We thus observe parents, who in after life, cannot do enough for their children, negatively correct only, in their conduct towards them, so long as they continue in the nursery; forgetting Solomon's proverb respecting the training up of youth, and adopting the very course which their good sense and usually right notions, would have led them to reprobate in their neighbours. The sequel will demonstrate whether or not there is a possibility, that any part of these observations are borne out by the system of education, adopted in the family, to whose acquaintance the Reader is now introduced.

Shortly after Mr. Servinton had withdrawn to his own room, or library as it was commonly called, a tap at the door announced Mr. Bate, who had just left the lady of the house and her child, both “doing remarkably well.” Mr. Servinton, in the course of conversation, narrated the events of the forenoon, and inquired the Doctor's opinion upon them. “ 'Pon my honour, and under correction, Sir,” he replied, “I am inclined always to view such events as proceeding from nothing more nor less than an illusion of the brain, bespeaking great irritability of the system, and for which, no better treatment can be applied, than a plentiful application of the cat o'nine tails, after an immersion in a horse-pond. In other words, Sir, I think you would have consulted your dignity as a Magistrate, if you had committed the whole posse comitatus to the County Bridewell, instead of allowing them to talk to you, — but I speak under correction.”

“That would have been rather severe to unoffending persons,” replied Mr. Servinton, “but, however, we will not discuss the question at present. Perhaps on another occasion, I may adduce arguments, which may lead you to a different view of the question. I am now anxious to see my boy, whose destiny is foretold to be so chequered, and also his excellent Mother. I assure you I attach no importance to the affair, but I think 'twill be as well to make a memorandum of what has happened this morning, as it may serve for reflection hereafter.”

“Unquestionably, Sir, and under correction,” was proceeding Mr. Bate, when the door opened, and it was announced to Mr. Servinton, that his lady wished to see him.

As he mounted the wide handsome staircase, that led to the upper apartments, he was ruminating whether or not, he should acquaint his wife, with any part of what had occurred, and was approaching, as a matter of course, the door of the usual


  ― 7 ―
bed-chamber, when he was told by the servant in attendance, that her Mistress was occupying the chintz room, as she had been so suddenly taken ill, that her own, was not in readiness. He said nothing, but a different room having been used for this, his eleventh child, to that in which all the others had drawn their first breath, struck him for the moment, as rather fresh cause for wonder.

It has been already said that, he was naturally of a very affectionate disposition, and, if the interview with his wife, had not now taken place, under the interesting circumstances that attended it, the mere fact of a month's absence, would have rendered a first meeting, an event of considerable influence upon his feelings. Advancing to the bedside, and kindly saluting her, he said but little at the moment, so much was he overcome by conflicting emotions, but gently retaining her hand, his eloquent countenance plainly bespoke the ardour of his attachment. Mrs. Servinton, equally glad to see him, returned his caresses in the placid, quiet way by which she was distinguished, and then observed, — “I'm sure Mr. Servinton, mine is a dreadful life — no sooner one child can walk, than there's another in arms — I'm sure I hope none of my daughters will ever marry — they little know what they would have to go through. — We have another boy. — I really thought four were quite enough, and I don't know what we shall do with any more. — However, I have hired a good wet-nurse, and I hope the child will do well.”

“I hope so, indeed, my dear Charlotte. — Mrs. Caudle told me it was a fine healthy boy, and you know, my love, we must take what Providence sends us, and be grateful. — I should like to see the child; can I do so?”

“Yes, certainly; I believe the infant is well enough — much like other children. I dare say, if he had been our first, I might have thought him a fine boy; but really, I'm now so used to them, that I see very little difference in their appearance. — They are all much alike, only some are more noisy than others — however, you can step into the dressing-room, and look at the little fellow; — and afterwards, I will see you again.” Tenderly bidding her adieu for the present, he withdrew and repaired to the apartment where his newborn son had been placed; and whom he contemplated, if not with all the rapture that attends an only child, at least with strong parental feelings.

In the course of a few days, the accouchement chamber was sufficiently freed of its restraints to allow full and general conversation; and, upon one of these occasions, he introduced the story of his adventure with the Gipsies. “I am really surprised;” said Mrs. Servinton, who had patiently listened through the whole of it, and had gathered from her husband's tone and manner that it had made some


  ― 8 ―
impression upon his mind. “I am really surprised, Mr. Servinton, that you could attach the least importance to such nonsense. They must have thought you exceedingly weak, to dare take such a liberty with you — they are nothing but impostors — and I must say, their allusion to our large family, is the height of impertinence, and what I beg, may not be repeated — I have no desire to be made the laughing stock of my neighbours.”

“I'll tell you what 'tis, Charlotte” — replied her husband, in a good humoured tone — “you make much too serious a matter of it, to talk thus — and as for being a laughing-stock, many married persons are very improperly ridiculed when they have no children, but I never knew this the case, where Heaven was bountiful in sending them; and all I can say is, I shall have no objection to see the prediction fulfilled in this respect, as correctly as it was, with regard to Quintus's birth.”

“I'm sure I hope no such thing. — It is quite high time, that we should do something towards providing for those we already have, for our estate, although considerable, will not support half a dozen idle young men, and there is nothing like looking out early. If we are to have tutors and governesses to pay and maintain, you had need endeavour to take some steps towards improving our income; for otherwise, I fear the children will come badly off.”

Mrs. Servinton was a well-educated, highly-connected Lady, who had brought her husband a good fortune, and who added to these claims for favor and attention, great skill in managing her house-hold, all parts of which, were ever in capital order. She was particularly careful to procure trusty servants, to whose charge the children were confided; and the least neglect in their personal economy, such as disregard of cleanliness, or putting on a tattered garment, was certain to attract her notice and excite her displeasure; but, if such points as these were well attended to, and no unusual noise or disturbance took place in the nursery, her interference or authority was seldom exercised, every thing being conducted with the regularity of clock-work. Great prudence was one of her distinguishing features; and, whether or not she attached more weight to the Gipsy's prophecy than she chose to acknowledge, or, whether she considered that, judging by the past, nothing was more probable, than that, so far as it regarded the eighteen children, it might be fulfilled, certain it is, her worldly wisdom induced her to press warmly upon her husband's consideration, the necessity of taking some steps, towards bettering their fortune.

After some further discussion, it was agreed, that Mr. Servinton should consult his professional friend, Mr. Briefless, who was a Lawyer, residing in a neighbouring town, and well acquainted with


  ― 9 ―
most people's business; and that, if any thing desirable offered, it should be acted upon. Letters were also written to some of Mrs. Servinton's relations, who, being eminent Merchants and Bankers in London, might be supposed to have opportunities of promoting the desired object.

Mr. Briefless was a Gentleman, who had been bred to the bar; but after being admitted had acquired so confirmed a habit of stuttering, or rather hesitation, when attempting to speak in Public, that after several ineffectual endeavours to overcome it, he was obliged to relinquish that branch of the profession, and eventually settled as a plain country Attorney. He was an upright, honorable man, but endowed with remarkable obstinacy; which, unfortunately for his family, was particularly shewn in the management of his own affairs. Between him and Mr. Servinton, a strict intimacy had long existed; and in relying in a great measure upon his counsel, in the weighty affairs that now occupied his attention, there was the double assurance of friendship, and a mature experience in business, that he might do so with safety. This important step being thus decided, the turn it gave to the domestic affairs of the family, soon assumed such a shape, as altogether to dismiss for a time, from the minds of most of its members, all recollection of so trifling an incident as the Gipsy's prophecy.

In consequence of the measures so taken, it was not long, until Mr. Briefless introduced to Mr. Servinton a Mr. Petrie, one of the firm of a long established Bank in the town of D————, who were desirous of strengthening their resources by an increase of capital and connexion; and with whom a negotiation was accordingly commenced.

It was not altogether without a struggle, that some of the dirty acres, which had for ages descended from father to son, were now proposed to be alienated from their possessor, with the view of raising the sum that was at length agreed upon, as Mr. Servinton's contribution to the funds of the house. Although nobility had never grafted any of its scions on his family tree, there was a degree of pride felt, upon turning over the legendary tales of the achievements of heroes, long since mingled with the dust, — notwithstanding they had not risen higher than to be the esquire to his more exalted companion in arms, — or in reading the tender love stories of some of the Ladies of other days, who had been raised to the rank of Dames, partly as a tribute to their charms, and partly to their respectable lineage. Certain events also, were instilled into the ears of the children by their ever zealous nursery attendants, almost so soon as they could understand any thing, tending to aggrandize in their infant minds the importance of their parents; such as that, a Richard de


  ― 10 ―
Servinton was one of three only, who were able to extract the sabre from the block of wood, into which, during the reign of King John, it had been struck by a renowned Baron de Courcy; another, the creating one of the ancestors of the family a Bannerett, for his gallant conduct at Cressy, in virtue of which honor, Mr. Servinton in his right of primogeniture, wore as a dexter supporter to his ancient Coat of Arms, a Man in Armour, which was always specially pointed out on the carriage-door by the old coachman to his young Masters; another, how, during the wars preceding the Commonwealth, a sturdy member of the name, had been one of twenty-four country Gentlemen who had signed a round-robin letter of remonstrance to King Charles the First, and afterwards, raised and maintained at his sole expense, in support of the Parliamentary forces, a well equipped troop of horse. When again, the children were shewn a number of old portraits, hanging around the grand entrance hall, the men dressed in armour, or in the costume of former days from the Norman Conquest downwards, and the women's faces almost lost in hoods, or in the tremendous display of ruffs, caps, and lace, peculiar to the age, their shapes being almost entirely concealed by immense hoops, the servants were sure to magnify the fame of these personages, by a hundred imaginary tales, confounding all they had ever heard upon such subjects, with the beings who were thus represented on canvas.

So averse indeed, was Mr. Servinton to lose the fee simple of property derived from this ancient heritage, that after much deliberation, he finally resolved to raise the money that was necessary by mortgage, rather than sale, and not even the strong recommendations he received from his wife's London relatives, who, with a true mercantile spirit, urged an absolute disposal, upon the ground that property was always better for changing hands, and that his had been long enough in one family, could induce him to depart from the plan he thus determined to adopt.

All preliminaries being at length adjusted, his name was added to the firm of Petrie & Co., taking precedence of the other partners — this having been considered a distinction, equally due to him on account of his property, as of his family connexions.

Shortly afterwards it was thought advisable that he should have a town establishment, and in this manner was the first step taken towards departing from the characteristics, that had for centuries marked the name of Servinton. Nor was it long ere it proceeded to others, tending in the end entirely to deprive it of what had so long constituted its pride and stability.

Meanwhile, the general routine of the family went on much as before, only that Mr. Servinton was absent from home more than


  ― 11 ―
formerly, in attendance upon his new occupations; for the idea of being what is called a sleeping partner, was deservedly reprobated by his friends; and although he had not been brought up to business, his education, his fine understanding, and general attainments, were justly considered sufficient qualifications towards enabling him to acquire a full knowledge of the principles and routine, necessary for conducting a country bank.




  ― 12 ―

Chapter II

“Yea, this man's brow, like to a title leaf,
Foretels the nature of a tragic volume.”

SHAKESPEARE

Notwithstanding that Mr. Servinton's name had many years stood in the Commission of the Peace, he seldom or never attended to Public business, greatly disliking every thing connected with pomp or parade; but it so happened that about a year and a half after the commencement of this narrative, he was at the county town, at the time the Sessions were held, when he one morning entered the Court, and took his seat upon the Bench, at the right of the Chairman.

Among the prisoners for trial, were a man and woman, charged with stealing poultry. The evidence for the prosecution, seemed clear and decisive; and the Chairman having addressed them, enquiring what they had to say in their defence, the man sullenly replied, “Nothing;” but the woman, raising her voice, exclaimed, “That bonny Gentleman on the your right, your Worship, kens that we are peaceable, honest folks, and will give us a character.”

All eyes were immediately directed towards Mr. Servinton, who being so pointedly appealed to, looked at the prisoners with more attention than he had before paid them, and presently recognised the Gipsy acquaintance, who had told his fortune.

So sudden and unexpected an appeal, threw him for the moment, off his usual composure, and he scarcely knew what reply to make the Chairman, who, in the easy and familiar style, that one Gentleman uses in addressing another, had enquired if he knew any thing of these people? To recount what had really passed, might not be very agreeable, as it was calculated to excite merriment at his expense, in a Public Court; and to relate that he had given a troop of vagrants, permission to sojourn in his neighbourhood, might possibly subject him to an implied censure, which, as a Magistrate, he would rather have avoided. The Chairman, interpreting his hesitation of reply, unfavorably to the prisoners, asked the woman rather sharply, what she meant by singling out a Gentleman on the Bench, to speak to her character, who it was quite clear knew nothing about her?

“A'nt please your Honor's Worship,” replied the woman, “the Gentleman kens me well enough — and he kens how true I told his Honor's fortune last year.”




  ― 13 ―

“Told the Gentleman's fortune!” said the Chairman, rather enjoying his brother Magistrate's increased confusion — “When and where, did you see this Gentleman? and what has it to do with the present case?”

“Last summer twelvemonth, your Honor's Worship, we met the Gentleman on Middleton moorside, and I told him his fortune for letting us stay a day or two in the woods near his Honor's house.”

“And pray what fortune did you predict for the Gentleman? and how is it, that you could not at the same time foresee your own, and have kept out of this scrape? for I have heard nothing yet, which at all leads me to think you can escape punishment.”

“His Honor kens well enough how true I told his fortune. Did I not say —

Sweets and sours — more sours than sweets —
A new-born Son, your Honor greets;”

And has he not found it so? Has not what he has since done, brought more sours than sweets already; and will it not do so hereafter? Has not one more of the eighteen bairns already been born? and is not another expected? The Gentleman, your Honor, kens me well enough, and if he will but speak out, he will say, that I am a woman who speaks the truth, and that your Honor may believe me, when I tell your Honor's Worship, that we are innocent of what we are charged with.”

So appealed to, Mr. Servinton briefly explained the incident that had befallen him, but unfortunately for the prisoners, could say nothing more in their favor, than that, he knew neither good nor harm of them — that as no charge had been made against them, he had not refused to comply with the dictates of humanity, and as both themselves and their horse, appeared in a very miserable condition, he had allowed them to stay a day or two in his neighbourhood. So far therefore as his testimony went, it had no influence upon the verdict of the Jury, which, being returned guilty, they were sentenced to three month's imprisonment; but, as regarded himself, the adventure served for years afterwards, as a standing joke with some of his friends, and upon each future addition to his family, “Success to the Gipsy's prophecy,” was a kind of toast or watchword, as the best bin was resorted to, or the barrel of strong beer tapped, to drink health and increasing honors to the founders of the feast; and when, in process of time, the birth of the ninth daughter, completed the sybilick number of eighteen, Sam, who by that time had became grey in his Master's service, said, with a knowing expression, when descanting upon the subject to his fellow-servants, “I knew 'twould be so — I knew 'twould be so, and though


  ― 14 ―
Master was very angry about Margaret Bousfield, I'd as lief marry the devil, as marry her or any body else, after my fortune had been told as it was — I knew 'twould be so, and as for Master Quintus, whoever lives to see it, will see a good deal. Poor little Gentleman, he is the quietest and best of 'em all. He has none of the tricks of t'other young Masters, who are always in mischief, but all his delight is in reading, or in being with William the gardener. Ah! poor lad! he little thinks what he's born to; but long before his troubles begin, old Sam's will be ended — but he'll never want friends.”

If the accidental meeting of the Gipsy at Durham, had not renewed in Mr. Servinton's mind, some of its original impressions, Quintus might have passed through the early stages of his life, and excepting when the subject was now and then introduced by such conversations as this between the servants, the prediction that had attended his birth, would have been altogether forgotten; the reminiscence so excited, was however, but transient, and although the affair was still occasionally mentioned, it merely served to create fun and laughter, entirely losing any tendency to reflection.

In the mean time, Quintus, after leaving his nurse's arms, went through the several gradations of childhood, much as usual in large families. His mother was one of those good Ladies, who, as before said, pay the most scrupulous attention to the conduct of their servants with respect to children; nor perhaps, could an objection be taken to her general system, unless it be that, it embraced a more rigid confinement to the precincts of the nursery, than by some, is thought advisable. Once only each day were they admitted to the parlour, which was always immediately that the cloth was removed after dinner, when the whole troop, nicely washed and combed, marched in full procession, forming steps similar to those of a staircase — the rear being invariably brought up by the head nurse, with the infant in arms, for the time-being.

With all the excellent qualities of head and heart possessed by his parents, there were many points connected with the management of their children, wherein they differed from certain maxims that have lately obtained, sanctioned by such authorities as Miss Edgeworth, Madame de Genlis, and others. Mrs. Servinton was a kind and attentive mother, and the children were much and deservedly attached to her. She took great pains to personally instruct them in all the rudiments of education, but followed one course rather too indiscriminately, and adopted the same system of discipline with one and all the little ones; not perhaps, paying quite sufficient regard to age, temper, and general disposition. As to Mr. Servinton, he was beloved by his neighbours and tenants, esteemed by his friends, and regarded with much affection by all his relatives, but he did


  ― 15 ―
not understand how to treat children; a slight fault, would produce anger, which it would have been thought could not have had its seat in his breast — this often made the child look at him with fear and apprehension, and rather to rejoice at his absence, than presence; but these flashes were of short duration, and, as if he felt that he had sometimes spoken or acted too harshly, he not unfrequently let them be succeeded by extraordinary marks of kindness.

The infant mind, is however, too tender and susceptible, to understand, or to safely receive these sudden transitions. It may generally be moulded at will, by mild treatment, accompanied by temperate firmness; but the instances are very rare, where severity, softened of some of its painful effects by subsequent indulgence, does not produce many more bad, than good consequences.

As Quintus advanced towards his fourth or fifth year, he evinced considerable aptness at learning, and little books, containing tales and stories, were his chief delight. He was inclined at times to be rather petulant, but was nevertheless much liked by his elder sisters, on account of his general docility; and they accordingly took pains in giving him such instruction as was suitable to his age. His elder brothers were of a different disposition — quite as quick at learning, to say the least — but much more prone to mischief — ever ready at boyish roguishness — nothing pleasing them so much as to witness any ludicrous disaster, occasioned by their waggish tricks and contrivances. It sometimes happened, that when complaints of their misbehaviour reached their father, all the boys were included in the summary punishment awarded for the offence of one; and thus Quintus, more than once, came in for a dose of birch, rather in anticipation of what he might do wrong hereafter, than for any misdeed already committed.

As one consequence of such discipline, before he had attained his eight year, he had imbibed a fear and alarm at the presence of his father, that induced him to adopt a habit of concealment, which afterwards increased with his growth. Having been often punished undeservedly, he endeavoured to escape by cunningly invented stories, when it was really merited; but, as a proof that this was rather acquired, than natural, he would always readily acknowledge every thing to the sisters who possessed his love and confidence, and who by this means, were enabled to counteract much of its injurious effects.

At this period, the mode of education adopted for Mr. Servinton's sons, was by a private tutor, resident at the hall; but experience had not recommended its being continued, and it had been determined to substitute for it, public schools for the elder boys, and a good private seminary at the neighbouring town of D————, for Quintus;


  ― 16 ―
purposing, after a year or two, that he also should follow the example, set in the instance of his brothers.

The arrangements consequent upon this change, being perfected, Quintus was inducted as one of the Rev. Mr. Knowall's pupils, with very little regret on his part; as even at an early age, the restlessness of the human mind, is shewn in numberless instances; ever fancying, what is in anticipation, will be more agreeable than that, already possessed.

It had been settled that as Mr. Servinton's town residence was a short distance from the school, and was under the charge of an old and trusty house-keeper, Quintus should be what is called a day boarder; so as to be constantly under the eye of his father, or whoever else of the family happened from time to time, to be in town.

In this manner, he spent his two or three succeeding years, making very tolerable progress in his education, and growing in favouritism with his preceptors, who took considerable pains to improve the naturally good abilities he manifested. But this plan was objectionable in one respect, however good it might have appeared in others; for it drove a boy of tender age, to the alternative, either of spending a considerable portion of his time in absolute solitude, or of seeking such society as was inconsistent with his parents' station in life; and it would have been no wonder, if, in process of time, the evil had become apparent.

But it fortunately happened, that before any ill consequences were in this case matured, other circumstances arose, which affected Mr. Servinton's arrangements for his boys, and greatly removed the latent mischief attending the course hitherto pursued with respect to Quintus. His eldest brother had just attained his twentieth year; and, upon leaving College, it was Mr. Servinton's anxious desire to have him instructed in business, with the view of qualifying him to become a partner in the Bank. Two objects, upon each of which he had strongly set his heart, were connected with this plan — the one, to preserve to his family a preponderating influence in a concern which had, hitherto, fully answered all its original expectations; and the other, that he might himself devote less time to occupations he disliked, and return to those, rendered by long habit more congenial to his inclination. But Horace Servinton had imbibed different notions from his childhood. From the very moment he could run alone, he had been told, that all the family honors, whatever they might be, would centre in him. Some valuable heir-looms of ancient date were considered so much his own, that his other brothers scarcely dared look at them; and, when a mere child, he was taught to ride the little pony, which afterwards, reverted to the next in


  ― 17 ―
turn in exchange for a larger horse; he had ever been accustomed to play the young dragoon, and in his air and manner, to deport himself as if he had really been one of the cap-a-pee figures represented in the old family pictures. He had besides, formed acquaintances with some young men of high birth at College; and he cherished the hope of again meeting them in the pursuit of military glory, to which they had severally proposed to devote themselves; and as he was tall and well-proportioned, of handsome features, and agreeable manners, he was by no means inclined to relinquish all his expected importance and anticipated conquests as a dragoon officer, for a seat behind the desk of a country bank. He therefore, at once, firmly refused the proposed arrangement; reminded his father that, long before the bank was thought of, he had been promised a cornetcy in the Guards; and at last succeeded, although with great reluctance on the part of his parents, in obtaining a commission in the Queen's Dragoons, then quartered at a distant part of the kingdom. Mr. Servinton found his two next sons, equally averse to the course he had successively planned for them; and he saw clearly that it was necessary, if he hoped to be more fortunate with the younger branches, not to defer taking such measures, as might give their minds a bias, different to that which had influenced the elder ones.

Full of reflection arising from these repeated disappointments, he was one day sitting alone in his library, when his friend Mr. Briefless was announced; who, being in all cases, where his own affairs were not concerned, a shrewd, sensible man, could not have arrived at a more opportune moment.

“I'll tell you what 'tis Briefless,” said Mr. Servinton, “these boys of mine, give me a great deal of trouble, and I don't know what to do with them.”

“I can assure you, my dear friend I sincerely feel for your disappointments; but in trying to remedy the future, let us look a little at the past. Your sons have all been educated with too high notions — much too high — they have each thought themselves an only son of a rich Country Gentleman, instead of being one of nine Brothers; and there is besides, a counter-interest at work to oppose their adapting themselves to be men of business, even if they had more inclination than they evince to become such; and which must be met.”

“How! what do you mean? — What counter-interest can interfere with the introduction of my Sons into the Bank?”

“Why, if they stick to business, there will be no room for others, whose chance is contingent only, and wholly depending upon the failure of your views. Cannot you now see the drift of many parts


  ― 18 ―
of Craft's conduct, which you must have observed? or at least, others have. How do you understand the sedulous attention he has invariably paid to your sons, but as an endeavour to enhance in their minds a self-importance they had adready amply exhibited? What so likely to lead them to view commercial pursuits as derogatory to their dignity, as an increase of this foolish pride? or what think you of the assistance he gave Horace's taste for extravagance and dissipation, by the loans he made, but as part of his plan to encourage him to the very course he has taken?”

“I cannot exactly see how Craft's interest can be promoted by encouraging the dislike my boys shew to business; he will still remain Cashier, as a matter of course — he is very clever in that way, and neither of my boys were intended to have interfered with him.”

“As you do not seem to comprehend the affair, I will endeavour to explain my view of it: — If you do not succeed in establishing one of your sons in the Bank, you will, as a matter of course, have to seek for a managing partner to take the fag of the business, which, latterly — owing to one circumstance or another — has much more devolved upon you than was originally intended. If this be the result of things, who so likely to be selected as a man, a thorough adept at his business, and whose obliging manners have rendered him a general favourite among your connexion? but, if your sons were to turn out as you wish, what occasion would there be for Craft's admission as a partner? — on the other hand, is there not at once a bar to it?”

“I'll tell ye what 'tis — Craft is a great rascal, and I'll write him a letter of dismissal immediately.”

“Softly, my good friend, softly — not quite so fast; I do not know that the worldly wisdom thus suspected of Craft — for mind you, it is no more than suspicion — deserves quite so severe an epithet as rascal; but if it be so, perhaps an easier method may be discovered of curing the evil than by depriving yourself of a valuable assistant; at all events, it's worth trying.”

“You advise me well, Briefless, as I have ever found you; but what plan do you propose?”

“To yield to the storm you cannot control, and to endeavour to avoid encountering such in future. In other words, it is best to let Edward and William enter the navy as they wish; to admit Craft as a partner while you can easily do so upon advantageous terms, and before he fully knows his importance; and to turn over a new leaf with the younger boys, so as to break the neck of their family pride, by removing them to some school at a distance, and letting them spend their vacations there for a year or two, thus avoiding collision with those who do them no good.”




  ― 19 ―

The advice Mr. Briefless thus gave, was to a certain extent, forthwith acted upon. Nevertheless, Mr. Servinton did not at all like being forced into arrangements, differing so materially, from those he had long contemplated. With regard to Quintus, it was settled, that so soon as a good school at a distance of not less than a hundred miles, could be found, he should be removed thither, and meanwhile, be kept as closely to his studies as Mr. Knowall's arrangements permitted, during the ensuing vacation.

Shortly after these measures, two of Mr. Servinton's daughters were married, one to a country Gentleman, and the other, to an eminent Merchant residing at a distant outport.

Although the motive, which had formerly induced Mr. Servinton to enter upon business, had hitherto been fully attained, his income having been materially increased, he frequently had occasion to recollect the Gipsy's words, and indeed often found, that the sours too much preponderated. If his yearly means were more abundant, so was his expenditure increased nearly in proportion. A town house was not maintained excepting at a heavy charge, and an extended visiting acquaintance entailed many expenses, that had been previously unknown.

But an incident now arose, that proved indeed, a heavy blow upon the almost uninterrupted tranquillity, which had hitherto marked Mr. Servinton's path through life — compared with what he was now called upon to endure, all his previous little disappointments, were as atoms in the balance; he was now destined to be visited by the afflicting hand of Providence in earnest; and although his life was prolonged many years, it became, from this period, a series of troubles and vexations, under which, many minds would have sunk. With him however, they lost much of their severity, by the natural buoyancy or cheerfulness of his disposition, and by the spirit of resignation that displayed itself under all his disappointments; leading him, as well as his truly religious and excellent wife, to view them as dispensations of some wise and good, although inscrutable purpose, and ever to kiss the rod by which they were chastened, bowing submissively to the will of God.

Mr. Servinton had been quietly enjoying a few days retirement at Lathingham, and was rambling one morning accompanied by some of his children, in the grounds near the house, when he saw a horseman turn off from the road, and advance through the lane that led to the Hall. Both horse and rider bore evident marks of haste, and Mr. Servinton was revolving in his mind, who it could be, the appearence of the Gentleman not seeming altogether unknown to him, when in one moment, the turn of a corner enabled him to discern that it was his partner, Mr. Craft, and a certain


  ― 20 ―
indescribable misgiving entered his mind, that a something connected with the bank was not right; nor were his forebodings likely to be relieved by the expression of Craft's countenance, which displayed by the transient glance he obtained of it as he entered the shrubbery, anxiety and alarm, in their most fearful colours.

Mr. Craft lost little time, and showed little consideration, in opening his budget of intelligence, saying, almost before he was within a speaking distance, “I am the messenger of bad news, Sir.”

“So I perceived, Craft,” calmly replied the worthy Gentleman, “but whatever are your tidings, keep them, till we are together in the Library,” at the same moment, gently leading the way to the side entrance to the house.

Mr. Servinton was one of those temperaments, that frequently take fire at mere trifles, but are perfectly calm and composed upon great occasions. Had either of the children or servants, committed some slight fault, he would probably have been much more excited, than by what had now happened; and although he was not by any means indifferent, as to the nature of the communication he was to receive, he had sufficient self-command to subdue his feelings, until there should be none to witness his sorrow, save only him by whom it was to be imparted.

Shutting the room door, so soon as Craft and he had entered, he said, “Well, tell me, what has happened?”

“This letter, Sir, which arrived by to day's London Post, will tell you every thing,” handing him as he spoke, an open letter.

   London, March 16, 1782.

GENTLEMEN,

Messrs. Discount and Co., the Bankers, finding themselves unable to meet their coming engagements, have adopted the determination of suspending payment until their affairs can be submitted to their Creditors, for which purpose, a Meeting will take place at my office, on the 23rd Instant, at which you are requested to attend.

I am,

  Gentlemen,

  your most obedient Servant,

   GEORGE PLAINT.

Messrs. SERVINTON and Co.

“This is bad news,” said Mr. Servinton, as he finished reading the letter, “but we must try to meet it — what is the amount we have in their hands?”

“Unfortunately, it is unusually large,” replied his partner,


  ― 21 ―
astonished at his composure. “It is £48,764 17s. 8d., including their unpaid acceptances of our drafts, which we shall of course now have to provide for.”

“Indeed, this is a fearful sum! — ah! my poor wife and children, what will become of you! — however, Craft, we must see what's to be done. — I tell ye what 'tis, as soon as you have had a little refreshment, and I've told Mrs. Servinton this dismal news, I'll go with you to town, for whatever is to happen, we shall do no good by staying here.”

Accordingly, ringing the bell, he ordered the carriage to be made ready, and then proceeded to communicate the distressing intelligence to his wife.

There is a certain instinctive feeling, that ever possesses us, upon the eve of any event materially affecting our good or ill fortune. It shews itself in producing an uneasy restlessness — a heaviness which impedes our general operations — an indescribable something, known to most of us by our own sensations, at some particular moment of our lives, but which, he who perhaps has most felt, is least able to describe.

Such was Mrs. Servinton's case, when she heard that Mr. Craft had arrived, apparently in great haste, from D————; and when a message from her husband imparted his desire to see her, she felt certain, that something dreadful awaited her.

Assuming as much composure as she was able for the interview, she joined her husband, who said to her in the most affectionate manner, “Would to Heaven, my Charlotte, we had been contented with our moderate fortune, and had not embarked in business. Craft has brought sad news, as the London bankers have failed, and I fear we are ruined.”

“It was done for the best,” replied his wife, “and if the blessing of God has not attended the endeavour, we must not repine; and, perhaps, it may not turn out so badly as you apprehend; but, under all circumstances, we must remember, that we are not the controllers of our own destinies, and I can only say, I feel happy that the loss of fortune is the worst that has befallen us; all we have to do is, to live according to our means.”

“Spoken like yourself, my Charlotte; I propose to go immediately to D——, and shall probably proceed without delay to London. I will acquaint you with every thing as it occurs. — Whatever we may hereafter do, any change at present would be premature; but something will certainly have to be thought of hereafter.”

In this manner was intelligence of so important, so interesting a nature to a numerous young family, received by this excellent


  ― 22 ―
couple. They each viewed it as the work of an overruling Providence, and each seemed determined to support the other, under the trial they were called upon to endure.




  ― 23 ―

Chapter III

“But do not so; I have five hundred Crowns,
The thrifty hire I saved under your father;
Take that. ———— Here is the gold,
All this I give you, let me be your servant.”

AS YOU LIKE IT

Upon reaching D————, the first thing they learnt was, that the bank doors had been beset, since the usual hour of closing, by crowds of applicants, eager to exchange the promissory notes of the firm, for specie. This was not unexpected; and Mr. Craft had given directions, previous to his departure for Lartingham, that upon his return, an accurate statement of the paper in circulation should be prepared, in order that their future course might be the more easily determined. Mr. Briefless also, acting the part of a true friend, had been employing the same interval in waiting upon a few staunch friends of the house; and by their united efforts, a very considerable sum had been collected, ready to be advanced at a moment's notice to meet this sudden exigency; for Mr. Servinton was known to be a man of such nice honor, that no person believed for an instant, he would receive assistance unless he were confident he could do so with perfect safety to the party that offered it. Mr. Briefless was thus in waiting, anxious to bestow all the help in his power, either by advice, or by untying, at the mere word of his friend, several well filled bags of gold.

“Thank you — thank you, my dear Briefless,” quickly ejaculated Mr. Servinton, “but I'll tell you what 'tis, until I see how we stand, I'll not make bad worse — nor will I put a load on another man's shoulders which I cannot bear myself.”

“Here is the return of the notes in circulation, Sir,” said the head Clerk, who now entered with a paper in his hand, “and here is the state of the house, with respect to funds in hand.”

Casting a hasty glance over each, Mr. Servinton instantly ordered the doors to be thrown open, although long after the customary hours of business, and as the evening drew on, causing the Bank to be well lit, so as almost to give it the appearance of an illumination; he had a bushel measure filled with guineas placed on the counter, and holders of notes were instantly invited to exchange them. No sooner was the heap at all lessened, than it was quickly replenished by emptying fresh bags, and a conspicuous notice was fixed up,


  ― 24 ―
announcing that the doors would not be closed by day or night while any notes remained in circulation; but so soon as they were all withdrawn, they would be shut for a few days, in order to complete some other arrangements.

This decided line of conduct was attended by the happiest results. The news of the never failing bushel spread rapidly, and long ere night had exchanged its mantle for the glimmering twilight, scarcely a note was brought in. Nevertheless, the doors continued open — the bushel was kept filled — and in the course of the next forenoon, the state of affairs was so altered, that many of the very persons who, a few hours previously, had been most clamorous for specie, now were equally desirous of making a re-exchange; and within a few days the confidence of the public was entirely restored.

Meanwhile, Mr. Servinton had proceeded to London, to attend the meeting of Messrs. Discount's creditors, in pursuance of Mr. Plaint's summons. At that period, the idea of becoming a bankrupt was considered a thing so very shocking, that almost any alternative was resorted to in preference. Now-a-days, the case is different — the world is become more enlightened and charitable, and a misfortune of this nature, is rather estimated by the cause that has produced it, than by its immediate effect upon the altered circumstances of the sufferer. It has now long been admitted that, whenever a house of magnitude becomes involved in difficulties, there is no way of doing such ample justice to all parties, as by the operation of the Bankrupt Laws. If the character of the party can bear the scrutiny thus afforded, a suitable provision is made, equally for his protection and maintenance, as for his release from all embarrassments, and at the same time for the equitable distribution of his effects among his creditors; and the repeated instances that have been exemplified of the beneficial effects of the system, have greatly served to remove the dread with which it was formerly contemplated.

The partners of Messrs. Discount and Co., were all men of high connexions; and as Mr. Servinton, notwithstanding his own losses, felt a degree of sympathy for the fallen bankers, it was not difficult to persuade him to consent to an arrangement that was proposed by their friends, the object of which was to avoid a threatened docket. Happy would it afterwards have proved for himself and family, had he been less accommodating; for although, by the balance sheet exhibited at the meeting, no eventual deficiency appeared probable, the estate became so wasted and frittered, so many law and chancery suits were perpetually arising, and the parties so squabbled amongst themselves, that it was nearly twenty years before any dividend was made, and then only a very small one.




  ― 25 ―

Upon Mr. Servinton's return to D——, his own affairs occupied his serious attention, and formed the subject of much deliberation between himself and friends. His resources, although much straitened, were still large; and as the yearly income derived from the bank had been considerable, it was ultimately resolved to add to its means, by increased strength of connexion, and that, as a simultaneous measure, various reductions should be made in his private establishment.

Lartingham Hall changed its owner, and the family removed into town; but some of the old hereditary estates were still preserved. The carriage and horses were sold, and the train of livery and other servants dismissed. When it came to the turn of some of the domestics who had long dwelt under his roof to be told the meditated changes, they entreated permission to remain, even without wages; and more especially the ancient and faithful Sam, could not believe it possible that he was to be in the list of those who were to be parted with. “Oh, my dear master,” said the worthy old man, “I have lived with you since you were little bigger than Master Quintus here; I have known you and yours in better days; and God forbid I should leave you — no master,” (at the same moment taking from his pocket a yellow canvas bag,) “what's here Sir, has been saved by my father and me, during the last sixty years; we have each had the best of masters; for your honored father Sir, was as good to mine as you have been to me. Please to take it Sir, and use it, but don't part with your old servant.”

Sensibly affected by the old man's gratitude and attachment, it was with difficulty Mr. Servinton could reply to him; but, as mature deliberation had preceded the plan that had been determined to be pursued, there was no alternative; smoothing therefore, in the best manner he was able, his manner of declining what had been so kindly offered, he continued his proposed arrangements, and in a very short time every thing had quietly assumed a new form and order. But misfortunes, it is said, seldom come single, and so it now happened with this family; for scarcely had they begun to feel some little repose after their late troubles, than the death of one of the daughters, who had been married two years previously, followed the giving birth to a child, after a few hours of intense suffering. This new affliction was received with equal fortitude and resignation as before; it came unexpected, and was rendered the more poignant by the many estimable qualities that had adorned the deceased, which, joined to a fine form and handsome features, had attracted admirers at an early age, and had led to her marriage before she had reached her eighteenth year.




  ― 26 ―

Happy is he who can view the troubles of life, as a means of preparation for a future and better state of existence. Let any one, no matter who, be apparently to the world, the wisest and best of his race, his own conscience will oft tell him, that he is but a weak and erring mortal. Sometimes, we see persons negatively good only, who, by their various qualifications were designed by Nature, to be active instruments of benefit to their fellow creatures; — these should recollect, that their ten talents were not given them to be buried, but, according to what they have received, so will they be called upon in the great day of account. When all other methods have sometimes failed to bring people to a sense of their true condition, troubles and afflictions have had the desired end, and have wrought a cure that appeared hopeless. Instead of murmuring or repining, it is therefore, only a part of our duty, to apply the touchstone of adversity to our bosoms, when overtaken by it; to weigh ourselves in the balance, which is ever held within us, by conscience; and to mark well; the faults that are thus brought home to us. The man, who is able to do this, may have reason to be thankful, that he has tasted of affliction. He cannot fail to be improved by it, however grievous it may have appeared at the moment; and he is certain, in the end, to reap his reward.

Mr. and Mrs. Servinton thus tried and proved themselves. They had each the sense to feel that, human means were insufficient towards enabling them to bear the calamities with which they were visited; and consequently, had recourse with fervour and devotion, to the only true source of comfort.

In a conversation they held, upon their plans for their younger children, it was wisely settled that they should be forthwith taught chiefly to depend upon their own exertions, for their progress through life. “We will give all of them the best education we are able,” said Mr. Servinton, “and the boys must shift for themselves.” “Yes,” replied his wife, “but beyond every thing, they must be religiously brought up. — Let them be as well grounded in that way, as in Latin and Greek, and we shall have done our duty to them, and may safely leave them to their chance through life.”

“Mr. Knowall gives me a very good account of Quintus” continued Mr. Servinton, “and says, he has more application than most of his scholars. I think he would take well to business, if we can keep him from being spoilt, like his elder brothers; and I have heard of a school at Rundleton in Shropshire, which I think, will just do for him. If we send him there, I should like him to remain without coming home, till he is of an age to go to some counting-house, and we will then try to find some friend in London, to whom he may be sent for instruction. Perhaps, if one of the boys would take to


  ― 27 ―
the desk, the others would follow; and if Quintus were to set a good example, Alfred might be brought into the bank.”

“But why should the poor boy be so long separated from us? and why look for the future, to London, instead of having him near ourselves,” said Mrs. Servinton?

“I am fully of Briefless's opinion upon this point,” was the reply, “and I am satisfied that the generality of youth, are better, if removed from the constant eye and control of their parents, particularly if they be well disposed, than by always being near them. With regard to Quintus, he has hitherto been so good and orderly, that with the exception of his occasional want of openness, if he be well managed, I have no fear of him. I cannot throw from my mind, the occurrence and prediction which attended his birth. Unfornately, the woman's fortune-telling, has been hitherto, but too truly fulfilled; and if his life is to be chequered, as was foretold, let us, as his parents, at least do our share towards adapting him to pass through it, with advantage to himself.”

Any allusion to the Gipsy story, was always disagreeable to Mrs. Servinton, who had never attached the least importance to it, and who generally contrived to dismiss it by a short, pithy mode of expression, peculiar to herself, which she sometimes adopted, when she wished to put an end to unwelcome subjects. Upon this occasion, she merely observed that, she must beg to defer the discussion, till some better arguments than a drunken Gipsy woman's authority could be adduced; but the tone in which these words were spoken, led her husband to walk out of the room with his hands behind him, lowering his lip, and contracting his usually pleasant features into a frown, as he muttered “I don't like such replies, that's what I don't like, Charlotte,” retiring as was his custom, to his study, when any thing disagreeable occurred.

Although Mrs. Servinton did not adopt her husband's opinion, with respect to Quintus, as a consequence of certain of the arguments he had used, there were others that induced her to a conclusion, nearly similar to his own; but her feelings as a mother, were not easily reconciled to the idea of sending a son, twelve years old, to such a species of banishment, as was recommended. The school that had been proposed for him, was partly on a public, and partly a private principle. It had been originally founded upon certain bequests, giving particular advantages to particular classes of scholars; such as, the being boarded, clothed, and educated upon easy terms, and afterwards opening the door of admission to one or two scholarships at Oxford. But the greater portion by far, of the pupils, were upon the private establishment; which, in point of much of its internal economy, was of that peculiar nature, as to afford


  ― 28 ―
parents many conveniences with respect to their sons, not by any means common. Although the classics formed a material part of the course of tuition, they were not so exclusively attended to, as in many endowed schools; but on the contrary, what is generally understood by the term, “commercial education,” formed part of the daily routine of exercises; added to which, a taste for rural occupations was encouraged, by allowing the boys, opportunities of practically acquiring knowledge of this description, during certain portions of time, when a relaxation from their lessons was permitted.

The master was a Clergyman of the Established Church, and resided at the rectory belonging to a small village, romantically situated on the banks of a stream, which joins the Severn a short distance from the commencement of that majestic importance, by which its farther progress is distinguished. One of the recommendations of this school, in the opinion of Mr. Servinton, was that, only one short vacation was allowed throughout the year; thus attaining a point, upon which he had been led to attach considerable importance, as materially tending to promote one object he had in view for his son. Quintus had already made some progress in the classics and in general knowledge; — was strong, healthy, and well qualified to make his way in a large school; not disposed to be quarrelsome, but ocasionally showing his peevishness for which there is no remedy, equal to a promiscuous intercourse with other boys, where it dare not be shown. As a general rule of education, nothing perhaps, is better adapted to the improvement of young minds, than a well managed extensive boarding-school. By keeping a boy at home or in immediate contact with his relations, he oft acquires a narrowness of disposition and a selfishness, which never afterwards leave him. He is apt to attach too much importance to himself; to assume airs and consequence, inconsistent with his years; and not unfrequently is involved in contentions with his parents, or brothers and sisters, upon trifles, which engender disrespect or quarrels if interfered with, but grow to evils of much greater magnitude, if suffered to pass unnoticed. — But, where the authority of a master is used as a check upon these youthful follies and petulancies, they yield to it, as a matter of course, without hesitation. — Where the boy mixes with one or two hundred school-fellows, some of whom are three or four years older than himself, some as much younger, but all daily shewing a great variety of tempers and dispositions, he enters upon the stage of life in miniature; and his little ebullitions of anger and ill-nature, are kept in proper awe, fearing what might ensue. If the boy be of good abilities, he will be stimulated to exertion by the desire of surpassing others. If he be slow at learning, and increased application be necessary in the performance of his task, still it must


  ― 29 ―
be got through, and more will be done towards tilling the unprofitable soil of his abilities, than it could be possible to accomplish, under a more private system of education. Unless for a delicate, sickly child, who might not have strength to indure the fatigue, and buffeting of a large, and particularly a public school, it unquestionably presents many advantages peculiar to itself.

Such were the views entertained by the Servintons, founded upon their experience, with regard to their eldest boys. Acting upon the influence of the motives, that have been already explained, Dr. Simpson was now written to, making many enquiries respecting his establishment, intending, should they prove satisfactory, to send Quintus thither without delay; and, although at first, Mrs. Servinton disliked exceedingly, the idea of his spending the vacations there, so as almost to wean him from home, in the end she acquiesced.

When the long fixed day of his departure for Rundleton really arrived, places for himself and his father were secured in the coach to Newark, whence they were to complete their journey by posting across the country to Oswestry; that being the nearest town to Rundleton. The charm of novelty, serving at first to maintain Quintus's spirits, and indeed, rather to elevate them more than usual, soon gave way to a feeling of sorrow, that he had left the many and kind relations, from whom he was now parted, and when, on the second day of their journey, (for travelling had not, at that time, reached its present perfection), they stopped for the night at Cheadle, Quintus could scarcely restrain his tears, at what appeared the solitary dreariness of his situation. Upon reaching Rundleton, which was accomplished about noon of the fourth day, the sight of the large, old white-washed school-house, standing upon rather elevated ground, surrounded by a clump of trees, apart from any other building, produced a feeling, which filled his breast, almost to bursting, and put it out of his power to reply to the many kind expressions of his father, who was encouraging him to maintain his fortitude, promising it should not be long before they again met. But, all he could say, failed to enable Quintus to recover his composure; and they thus journied until the chaise turned a sharp angle of the road, which brought them close to the village, when driving rapidly towards an old-fashioned house, standing within a small, neatly kept flower-garden, they presently stopped at the door, of what proved to be Rundleton parsonage.

An elderly, respectable looking man-servant immediately advanced from the house, and letting down the carriage steps, Mr. Servinton and his son were ushered into a handsomely furnished parlour, used only, to judge by its precise and neat appearance, upon very special occasions. Presently, the dread personage, who had flitted


  ― 30 ―
for some days so terribly in Quintus's imagination, made his appearance; and, young as the boy was, he regarded his new master with great attention. He was of gentlemanly exterior and manners, apparently five and forty, or fifty years of age. An accident that had befallen him in his childhood, had given him rather an awkward gait in walking, which, a few years previously, had been increased by a fall, that had occasioned a slight distortion of one shoulder, raising it somewhat higher than the other. Nature however, to atone for these misfortunes, had bestowed upon him, an excellent understanding, an amiable temper, and an engaging countenance. A single reciprocal glance, gave Quintus confidence, and when Dr. Simpson spoke, the mild, soft tones of his voice, completely removed every boyish apprehension.

“My name is Simpson, Sir,” said the Doctor, bowing to his visitors as he spoke, “and I presume I have the honor of addressing Mr. Servinton.” An assent having been implied, by the inclination of head made in return, Dr. Simpson advanced towards Quintus, and taking him kindly by the hand, added, “and this I presume, is to be my pupil. I am very glad to see so nice a young Gentleman.”

After a few more expressions of civility, Mr. Servinton entered upon a general communication of his wishes, respecting the education of his son; and was much pleased to observe Dr. Simpson's readiness in comprehending his object and intentions. He then requested permission to see the school, and the accommodations for the boys; having had sufficient experience to know, that there is nothing like ocular demonstration upon such subjects, in order to obtain correct information, and that, he could thus alone acquire the means of satisfactorily replying to many questions, certain to be put to him upon his return to D————. He had been already much pleased with Dr. Simpson's frank, and open manner; and the readiness with which he now acceded to his desire, still further confirmed the favourable impression that had been made. Following him as he led through the various apartments of the school-house, he minutely inspected every part of the establishment, deriving great satisfaction from witnessing the clean and healthy state of all he saw. The usual number of scholars was two hundred, and every thing was upon a scale in proportion. All the economy of the household, was plain, but admirable; — all its parts were in order; and all denoted the careful eye of able superintendence. Independently of the head-master, there was an under-master, and six ushers, each of whom, had a class or form of thirty boys under his particular charge. The under master's form comprised twenty scholars, who had gone through all other gradations; the whole being under the constant examination of the Doctor, who made changes in the different forms,


  ― 31 ―
according to the progress of the pupils. Upon the arrival of a new scholar, it was usual to allow him a few days unrestrained liberty, so as to enable him to become reconciled to the change of scene, and the separation from his relations, ere he was harnessed to his studies; and in the interval thus permitted, Dr. Simpson was accustomed to gently lead him to develop what knowledge he had already acquired, with the view of deciding in what form or class he should be placed.

Every thing Mr. Servinton saw and learnt, tended to assure him that his son was likely to be in good hands, and that, his principal object in view with regard to his education, bade fair to be realized. He returned therefore to the rectory, extremely well satisfied with the result of his inspection, and after spending an agreeable evening with the family, took leave, when he retired for the night, and at day break next morning, bent his way homewards.




  ― 32 ―

Chapter IV

“Ah! happy hills; ah! pleasing shades,
Ah! fields beloved in vain;
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
A stranger yet to pain.”

ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE

It was on a Thursday, that Quintus upon rising in the morning, found himself for the first time in his life, separated from all the associations of his early years, and wholly under the control of strangers. According to the usual plan of the school, he was left to his own pursuits throughout the day, not being required to take part in any lessons, and following a natural bent of his mind, he rambled through the village, pursuing his way for some hours in the midst of the beautiful scenery by which it was on every side encompassed. Nature had, indeed, been singularly lavish in the bestowment of her romantic charms, upon the neighbourhood of Rundleton. It was situated four miles from Oswestry, upon the banks of the Vyrnew; the clear, purling waters of which, joined the Severn, not far from the village, having intersected in their course, a rich tract of thickly wooded country, densely inhabited by a wealthy yeomanry, whose several farms and houses, varying in size, from the well-tiled manse with its highly cultivated inclosures, to the neatly thatched cottage with its little garden, gave an enlivening appearance to the landscape, and assisted to carry the eyes of the traveller forwards, to the grand and towering Brythen mountains, which formed its extreme boundary. Here and there, was a better sort of dwelling, having for its occupants some retired family, who, attracted by an agreeable neighbourhood and its convenient distance from a good market town, had selected it for their residence. To a boy of Quintus's natural taste and disposition, nothing could be more congenial than this spot; for, from his earliest years, he had ever shewn a strong inclination for every thing connected with the country, and a quiet stroll through Lartingham woods, or the acquisition of knowledge from the labouring farmers or gardeners, upon the nature of their several employments, had always been his greatest pleasure, at the time that his brothers were playing at ball or marbles, or at spinning tops, or were engaged in other similar occupations.

Returning to the school after some time thus employed, part of which, had been devoted, as is no unusual custom with village


  ― 33 ―
strangers, in deciphering the almost obliterated epitaphs in the Churchyard, Dr. Simpson conducted his new pupil to his study, and led him into a conversation, calculated to elicit what progress had been made in his education. It was with pleasure he found that, in many essentials, he had been well grounded; and he derived additional satisfaction from the request made him, in the course of conversation, that he might be permitted to commence his studies the next morning, telling the Doctor that he already found loitering, a very slow death for time. In pursuance of this desire, which was quite novel under similar circumstances, Quintus had a place assigned in the third form, under the charge of a Mr. Mesnard, who presently entertained a strong feeling of good will towards him, and consequently took great pains to promote his improvement.

The recollection of home having lost much of its bitterness, mitigated as it had been from the first, by the kindness of his masters, Quintus applied himself to his studies, with diligence and attention; and in a very short time, it was manifest that a desire to emulate and surpass others was a ruling principle of his nature, and that it was leading him at a rapid rate, through the different steps or gradations of the school boy's course; but it was also remarked of him, that this spirit extended only, to objects or pursuits in which his taste or fancy were enlisted; for he regarded all others, with much indifference.

With a character of this sort, it behoves those who have the care of its education, to exercise sound judgment, in adapting it to such objects, as are fit to be regarded with emulation; otherwise, a feature of the mind, capable of becoming invaluable to its owner, may oft prove a means of urging him to destruction.

The three succeeding years thus glided on at Rundleton, advantageously to Quintus, so far as his education was concerned, and satisfactorily to Dr. Simpson, as regarded his general conduct. When he entered upon his sixteenth birth-day, he had reached nearly the top of the under master's form, and stood within three of a post of great honor and distinction, formed something upon the model of Eton, and, like that celebrated school, designated by the high sounding title of Captain. It was not at Rundleton merely honorary, but bestowed upon its fortunate holder many enviable pleasures and comforts, and towards it, Quintus had long cast a wistful eye. Among its privileges, were a release from the customary close application to learning, as it was rather sought to maintain by exercises, the information already acquired, than to add to it by new studies — an extension of the school boundaries, permitting unrestrained rambles over the neighbourhood; — a sanction to visit any respectable families who chose to notice the individual — a seat at the Doctor's table, —


  ― 34 ―
and a single bed in the under-master's room. But, its qualifications were rigid in the extreme, and its tenure, in the highest degree precarious — wholly depending upon unexceptionable behaviour; for, until the head master had ascertained that the candidate was nearly as far advanced in learning as his tutor, according to whatever had been his course of study, he was not eligible; nor was this alone sufficient; for if, during the preceding six months, his name had once appeared in the misdemeanour list, his proficiency at his books would not avail him. It was seldom that this enviable post was altogether vacant, although it was frequently changing hands, as a necessary consequence of a removal of some other sphere of life; but, generally speaking, no sooner had one vacated it, than there was another, ready and waiting to succeed to its honors. About the period that Quintus began to view this, his long sought object of ambition, as nearly within his reach, when there were only two boys between himself and the top of the under-master's form, and when he who was distinguished by the proud title of captain was in daily expectation of proceeding to one of the Universities, the unlooked for arrival of his parents, accompanied by his favourite sister, gave for the moment, a new turn to his ideas and feelings. The immediate purpose of this visit, independently of the desire to see Quintus, was to judge of his proficiencies and acquirements, with the view of deciding his future destination: — and, by not giving notice of their intention, they justly enough thought that they should see things in their true colors, and be thus enabled to arrive at a more correct judgment than could otherwise be formed. It was, therefore, with infinite satisfaction that Mr. Servinton, who had alighted from the carriage at the entrance to the village, and proceeded on foot to the rectory, found his son, in every respect, such as his fondest hopes could have pictured; and saw by his robust, clean, and healthy appearance, that the accounts he had, from time to time received from him, were fully borne out; confirming also the opinion he had himself formed, upon his former visit.

In the conversations that subsequently arose, his parents observed with much pleasure, that unlike his elder brothers, the bias of his mind was decidedly inclined to business; and they determined to encourage this, by every means in their power. The report he gave of the school; of Dr. Simpson as an individual, of his plans and regulations, and particularly of the system of emulation he adopted, crowned as it was by the captainship, the charms of which he painted in their most glowing colours, induced his parents to conceive an idea, which was afterwards matured and acted upon, under the impression that it would forward their future views for him.




  ― 35 ―

In order to be under no restraint, the visitors declined from the first, a pressing invitation to take up their quarters at the rectory, preferring to stay at the village inn, where the utmost exertions of a civil landlord, aided by the notable management of his clever, industrious spouse, were cheerfully bestowed, towards endeavouring to make their humble roof agreeable to guests, so different from those whom they usually entertained. But, where cleanliness and obliging attention are met with in a country inn, delightfully situated in the midst of romantic scenery, rendered additionally agreeable by its being the finest season of the year, who, but the most fastidious, can fail to be pleased and gratified? Yet, although the few days of their stay at Rundleton were thus passed, the intercourse between the rectory and themselves, was frequent and regular. The Doctor himself, could never be otherwise than an agreeable companion, to sensible, well-informed persons, and soon became a favourite with the whole party. His wife, it must be admitted, was greatly his inferior in her intellectual powers, for in company, she was one of the negative sort, who, if they fail to enliven by their wit — cheer by their vivacity, or entertain by their sprightliness; on the other hand, give little cause of offence, seldom taking part in conversation, beyond the two comprehensive monosyllables, “Yes” or “No.” But her forbearance in this respect, was amply atoned for, within her own household; as her husband and servants there discovered to their sorrow, that all the apparent milk and honey of her disposition, were capable of assuming very different forms; and yet so scrupulously correct was she, in certain of her observances, that she had been known to refuse allowing her husband to have his breakfast on a Sunday morning, when he might have happened to be a little later than usual, alleging as a ground for having ordered the table to be cleared, that she could not reconcile it to her conscience, to keep the servants from preparing for the morning service. Quintus had made his sister laugh at some of Xantippe anecdotes of Mrs. Simpson, but roguishly enough, said nothing about her to his parents, until after she had paid her first complimentary visit. He knew full well how she would behave, but upon this occasion, her more than usually quiet, demure manners, her downcast, mild expression of countenance, and her seeming placidity, were almost too much for his gravity; and as he and his sister regarded each other with significant glances, even her presence could scarcely keep him in check. After she had taken her leave, Mr. Servinton observed, “I'll tell you what 'tis, Charlotte, this Mrs. Simpson seems a nice sort of a body, that's what she is; but hardly lively enough.”

“I do not know,” was the reply — “I think her manners more


  ― 36 ―
affected than real; but, even if they are not so, I see nothing they have to recommend them, beyond what a well dressed doll might possess.”

“Why, my dear,” replied her husband, “we do not always expect to find ladies so talkative and agreeable, as some I know; or perhaps, as gentlemen are expected to be; and I'm sure, as the Doctor is so very pleasant, one in a family is enough.”

“Perhaps others may not think so. I never yet heard, that because the husband happened to be sensible and agreeable, it is necessary that his wife be like an automaton.”

“Every body is not like you, Charlotte, but there, 'tis no use talking — there's no saying a word — that's what there isn't;” but as there was no library to which he could retire, the frown that was gathering across his features, indicating what was going forward within his bosom, presently subsided, and the conversation dropped.

Shortly afterwards, when Quintus thought he might safely introduce an observation, he said to his mother, “If Papa could sometimes see Mrs. Simpson as I have, I don't think he'd like her much; for she's a terrible virago, when things are not as she likes, and sometimes she drives the poor Doctor out of the house, to avoid her tongue; and I'll lay any wager that when you dine with them to-morrow, something or other will occur to show it, for she is sure to break out.” Mrs. Servinton never pursued beyond a certain point, conversations that were not quite pleasant; and therefore, made no reply, but, if the truth be told, was not probably displeased, to receive this testimony to her superior sagacity.

The next day, mighty preparations having been made at the rectory, to do honor to an invitation that had been given a few days previously, Mr. Servinton and his family went there to dinner. Every thing bore evident marks of the precise and formal character of the mistress of the house — all went off well for a time, and hilarity seemed the order of the day, although Mrs. Simpson herself, scarcely said a single word, after the first ceremonies of reception were over. But, alas! a sad reverse was in store. The dinner, which was excellent of its kind, had been served up, and nearly all the removes made, when a servant entered, and whispered something in her mistress's ear. What was the import of the communication, did not immediately become known; but Mrs. Simpson's perturbed features too well betrayed, that something untoward had occurred, and rising from table, and making a sort of running courtesy, as a tacit apology to her guests, muttering as she moved along the room, the words “abominable carelessness,” she abruptly withdrew. The Doctor, comprehending by the turn of her countenance, that a storm was brewing, and


  ― 37 ―
wishing to prepare for it, gravely observed, “I am afraid all is not right in the castle. We are sadly plagued with servants,” then, turning to the footman, and desiring him to keep the door shut, endeavoured to give the conversation a different turn. But neither this precaution, nor his utmost exertions, could prevent the tones of the lady's voice, being presently heard in high and indignant altercation, and sentence of death was distinctly pronounced against some unfortunate animal, “I'll have the wretch hanged directly,” being repeatedly uttered in an elevated key. Dr. Simpson was the only one of the party, who had no difficulty in at once understanding the whole affair: he guessed, truly enough, that a spaniel of King Charles's breed, which had lately been given him by a friend whom he greatly esteemed, and for whose sake he highly valued the animal, had been committing some theft connected with the dinner; and was presently confirmed in this opinion, by the piteous howlings of the dog, as they reached the parlor, evidently the effects of severe corporal punishment. Dreading the manner in which the intelligence would break upon the ears of the company, and anticipating that it would be less becomingly than his own, he observed, “I apprehend that some accident has occurred, of a nature that is fortunately better timed at the end, than the beginning of a feast. Flora's tones seem to bespeak that some theft has been committed.” At this moment the door flew open, and Mrs. Simpson rushed in, her face red with anger, and her eyes darting fire in exchange for the mild, quiet expression they had previously worn, and without bestowing one glance upon her company, she proceeded in a hurried manner to her vacant chair, instantly saying in a loud tone, “Dr. Simpson! I insist upon it, that you immediately give orders for Flora to be hanged. She has carried away one of the birds just as it was coming to table, and has ruined the dinner; do you hear, Dr. Simpson? I insist upon it, she shall be hanged directly! Dr. Simpson! do you hear me?”

She might well enquire whether or not she was heard, for the Doctor, perfectly thrown aback by what had occurred, and acquainted by dire experience, with the violence of his wife's rage when her will was opposed, as he knew must now be the case, was very desirous of avoiding a discussion before strangers, which would be certain to call in question her good breeding, to say the least; as he felt determined to protect his dumb favourite, whatever was the consequence. He therefore paused, scarcely knowing what reply to make, that would not have the effect of making matters worse; and hence arose her repeated exclamations. Aware, however, that he could not by silence, avoid the storm, and foreseeing that unless it were dispelled, his lady was not likely to be kept in awe by the


  ― 38 ―
presence, even of her company, he ventured to say, “I am sorry my dearest, for what has happened. I dare say our friends will excuse the disaster, and we had better let the subject drop till to-morrow.”

“Don't talk to me of to-morrow, Doctor Simpson,” quickly interrupted his spouse, greatly exasperated instead of cooled by her husband's endeavour to pacify her. “I insist upon your ordering Flora to be hanged immediately.” The Doctor repeated his conciliating replies, but, far from having the effect he intended, he found they only increased the evil, and added to the already ample demands upon his forbearance. He therefore discontinued attempting to appease her, and redoubling his attentions to his guests, sought thus to atone for the interruption her misconduct had occasioned. Unfortunately, this still added fuel to the fire that was raging in her bosom — she nearly raved with anger, using most intemperate language, and repeatedly insisting upon the immediate death of the offending spaniel. Still, the Doctor continued to turn a deaf ear to her bursts of temper, until at length, losing all command of herself, she leant forward towards a dish, in which were some excellent college dumplings, and seizing one of them, insantly hurled it at her husband's head. It required all the good breeding of the visitors, to command their features, under the ludicrous appearance the Doctor now exhibited. Nevertheless, he bore it with the utmost composure, and excusing himself for a moment to his company, whilst he sought the use of a basin and towel, presently returned to his place at the table, and ordered the house-keeper and another female domestic to be sent for.

No sooner was this summons obeyed, than he said in that mild, yet decisive tone, never capable of being misunderstood, “Mrs. Bakewell, do you attend your mistress to her dressing-room, and either you or Martha, will remain with her. John! open the door for your mistress.”

By a line of conduct only, such as this, could he subdue the dreadful paroxysms of temper, in which she sometimes indulged; but, so good and amiable was his disposition, that whenever he alone was the victim of her ebullitions, he usually retired till they were over, avoiding whatever could tend to aggravation. Circumstances, such as the present, now and then rendered it his imperative duty to exercise his sovereign rule; but, although when he did so, he was firm and decisive, he was never harsh nor unkind. After she had withdrawn, for, being well aware that resistance was useless, it was not attempted, a maiden sister of the Doctor's, who resided with them, did the honors of the table, and every thing resumed its former serenity.

When the ladies had retired and the gentlemen were engaged in


  ― 39 ―
a general conversation, Mr. Servinton took the opportunity of making some enquiries of Dr. Simpson, respecting the Captainship of the school; which drew from him in reply a full explanation, accompanied by many sensible remarks, derived from his long experience in the subject of education, and especially upon the great advantage he had found in exciting a spirit of emulation among his scholars; concluding by saying, “I think Quintus likes my plan very well; and that it precisely suits his disposition. We have now been nearly four years together; and I must say, that I look forward to the separation which cannot be very remote, with some regret.”

“It is very gratifying to hear my boy so spoken of,” replied Mr. Servinton, “and it is only doing him justice to say that, on his part, there seems a fully reciprocal feeling; so much so indeed, that we think of leaving him under your charge a few months after he shall have attained the object to which he tells me he now confidently aspires — but, if we do so, it will be under the idea of accomplishing a particular object we have in view for him, and which I will more fully explain some other time.” Dr. Simpson was much gratified by the testimony of approval, so conveyed by a gentleman of Mr. Servinton's attainments — and after an hour or two, whiled away by entertaining and agreeable chat, the party separated, appearing to lose all recollection of the unfortunate occurrence at the dinner-table.

The disgraceful scene they had witnessed, became, however, a subject of conversation with the Servintons, after they retired to their humble dwelling; and in the course of it, Mrs. Servinton observed, “I am sorry and ashamed that Quintus and Marianne should have been present. It was a very bad example for them.”

“Not at all my dear,” replied her husband. “If Quintus should chance hereafter to marry such a termagant, he has had an admirable lesson how to manage her; and as for dear Marianne, there is no fear of her.”

“If Marianne be wise, she will never marry,” answered Mrs. Servinton, “it's nothing but a life of trouble.”

“Marriage does not of itself, add to our troubles, my Charlotte,” was his affectionate reply, “on the contrary, it often greatly lessens them. — How could I have borne all my afflictions, had you not supported and comforted me through them?”

“Most likely, many of them were the result of marriage,” answered his wife, unwilling to yield one of her favourite doctrines, and yet, appreciating her husband's words, for she added, in an altered tone, “but a woman, once married, has duties to perform; — and certainly her highest duty, as well as her chief pleasure, ought to consist in contributing to the happiness of her husband.”

The time had now arrived for their leaving Rundleton; and instead


  ― 40 ―
of returning home the direct road, they proposed to include the lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland in their route, and having upon the whole been well satisfied with every thing they had learnt and seen, connected with Quintus and his general progress, they were disposed to let him be of the party, and, after visiting Windermere, return to school; but the idea was abandoned upon a more mature consideration, fearing lest, the interruption it would cause to his studies, might impede his reaching the goal he appeared to be anxiously contemplating.

At the parting interview between Mr. Servinton and the Doctor, the former expressed the great pleasure he had derived, from all he had witnessed connected with his son, and then stated his intention of leaving him at school, a few months after he might have obtained his hoped for honors, explaining that it was not so much under the idea of prosecuting any particular course of study, as of maintaining what he had already acquired, and at the same time, of leading him as much as possible, to the pursuits of trade, by letting him be employed in his leisure hours, upon any business connected with the extensive establishment, under the Doctor's control; for, attached to the school, was a large farm for the purposes of supply, giving occasion to many dealings, between the neighbouring jobbers and farmers and the steward or bailiff, by the latter of whom also, the accounts of the school were kept, and who was always fully employed in one way or another, upon objects of this nature.

Quintus was extremely delighted with this arrangement, anticipating from the change, great and varied pleasure. Shortly afterwards the captain of the school was removed to Cambridge, creating a vacancy which, for an unusual circumstance, could not be immediately filled up; for, among all the boys, there was not one, who was able to undergo the strict examination, by which alone, the post of honor could be attained. Quintus had somewhat lost ground by the recent visit of his parents; and notwithstanding he was nearly qualified, still, there was a something deficient. There were two others of nearly his own age, who were now his formidable rivals, having made considerable strides whilst he had been latterly otherwise engaged, and so nearly indeed, had they reached in their march towards overtaking him, that it was almost difficult to know, in whose favour the scale of pretensions preponderated. The first of the ensuing month, was fixed for the important day when the grand trial was to take place, and each of the three, applied himself with diligence to his own improvement in those particulars, that had proved stumbling-blocks at a late examination. But Quintus, possessing equally good abilities with either of the others, was the superior of both, in two other essential points. The one was that,


  ― 41 ―
he always showed a preference to his studies over the boyish amusements of the school, which inclined him to devote his play hours to his books, whilst one of his rivals being a most expert cricket player, was engaged in daily matches at this noble game, entirely forgetful at the time, of every thing else; and the other, being naturally indolent, and disliking application that could in any manner be avoided, neglected to make the most of his talents. His other point of superiority, was sagacity, or cunning perhaps, which induced him to conceal his real mode of employing his leisure, and to extend his exercises to many branches of study, beyond that particular subject, which had previously occupied his attention, when, like his two companions, he had been plucked; and to qualify himself in them, in case the next examination should take such a turn, as might thus give him an advantage. The more to mask his real pursuit, he affected, upon talking of the subject, to treat it with indifference, and in school hours exhibited no particular industry; on the contrary, rather assumed dullness or stupidity, in saying his daily lessons, and was turned back more frequently than usual, when in reality he was thoroughly perfect, if he had chosen to have appeared so. Thus, at the time that the other candidates thought he was conning over his daily lesson, he was in fact, diligently occupied upon his main, and leading object; anxiously devoting all the energies of his mind, for the ordeal he was to go through. By these stolen marches in support of his natural, and acquired advantages, he so far surpassed his rivals, that when the dread day arrived — although they were both fully equal to him in some things, he so completely distanced them in others, that he was formally inducted captain of Rundleton school, with all possible pomp and ceremony.




  ― 42 ―

Chapter V

“A schoolboy! you've heard my artless tale,
'Tis a true picture of my simple life.”

KNOX

Perhaps, take it altogether, the day that saw Quintus in possession of this, the long sought object of his ambition, was one of the happiest of his life. He had now entered his seventeenth year — had nearly attained his full stature; was at the head of the school — a favourite with his masters, and beloved by his relations — towards whom in return, he entertained the most sincere affection. In person, he was fair, and tolerably proportioned; exhibiting on his countenance, the lively cheerfulness of youth and excellent health, rendered agreeable by its animated expression, than by any particular regularity of features.

One of the consequences of his new honors, was a permission to extend his rambles around the delightful country that formed the neighbourhood of Rundleton, and thus by degrees, he became acquainted with many of the inhabitants, who, knowing that he was a Gentleman's son, and aware of his recent success, paid him many little friendly attentions, and generally greeted him with a welcome, whenever they met. Another was that, in pursuance of his father's desire, he was a good deal placed under the charge of Mr. Thrifty, the steward, whom he accompanied to the different fairs and markets which he attended in the way of business, becoming in many other respects, a sort of assistant to him. From step to step, he thus acquired so tolerable a knowledge of the routine of one of these journies, that he was sometimes entrusted to undertake them alone; and altogether, he seemed to offer fair promise, of becoming a shrewd, active man of business.

But, if the increased liberty and indulgence, he was thus permitted, served in a measure to promote his father's favourite object for him, it produced other effects, not perhaps at first calculated upon, but, under all circumstances, by no means extraordinary. Among the neighbouring residents, between whom and Quintus, a familiarity now sprung up, was a small farmer of the name of Lademan, who was, to use a homely phrase, “pretty well to do in the world,” and whose family consisted of his wife, two sons, and three daughters; all of whom were brought up to honest industry, and if the sons were perhaps the best ploughmen in the county, none could excel the mother or daughters, in all the mysteries of the farm-yard


  ― 43 ―
or dairy. They resided on a small estate of their own, about half a mile from the village, and rented a larger farm close adjoining. The extreme neatness of their cottage, and its little garden with its plashed hedges and fanciful flower beds, well stocked with roses, holly-hocks, pinks, and various other showy flowers, set off by the good order of every thing around, had often taken Quintus's attention, being precisely the sort of thing that had ever pleased his fancy; and now becoming as he had, a good deal his own master, farmer Lademan's pretty garden oft had him for a visitor. But, if his youth and inexperience led him to believe that it was the pleasure of admiring the beautiful flowers the garden contained, or, if at other times, the idea of witnessing Tom's adroitness with the scythe, or his brother's skill in handling the plough, served as the imaginary loadstone to his steps, a fairer flower by far than any in the garden, a more interesting piece of rurality than either of the young men's labour, existed in the person of the youngest daughter, Bridget, a girl of his own age, and who, although unconsciously to himself, had enslaved his young and ardent heart.

In very truth, Nature had bestowed upon her, an ample share of those charms, from the influence of which, even mature age and staid experience, are no protections; and it was no wonder therefore, that such a youth as Quintus, in the morning of his days, sanguine by nature, and elated by his recent advancement, should have yielded to their power, with all the fervour of a boy's love. She was of delicately fair complexion, shaded by long luxuriant tresses of light brown hair; her features were regularly formed, but rather pretty than handsome; her eyes, of a darkish blue, and very expressive; and the symmetry of her form and figure, just ripening into womanhood, was of the highest order.

Such was Bridget Lademan; and if, on her part, she had compelled Quintus to acknowledge the force of her attractions, drawing him, under some excuse or other, to be a daily visitor at her father's cottage, the many little attentions and marks of preference which, without any particular meaning, he invariably paid her, rendered his society a reciprocal pleasure.

Without understanding the real nature of their mutual feelings, an intercourse of this nature was continued for some time, Quintus never venturing any expressions beyond friendly intimacy, nor she, perhaps, better informed than himself, with what neither of them would have misunderstood, had their experience in life, been less limited. But her quick-sighted mother saw clearly how the land lay — she knew that it would be the extreme of folly to encourage the youthful attachment, that was evidently forming; she perceived that neither of the pair was at present acquainted with the state of their


  ― 44 ―
hearts; and her prudence whispered to her, “ne reveillez pas le chat qui dort.” She determined therefore, to adopt some prompt and decisive measure, that should nip the flower in its bud, ere an explanation could take place; but so careful and circumspect was she, that even to her dear, good man, her discovery was not imparted, although doubtless, had it been so, he would, as in duty bound, have quietly and submissively yielded to her superior rule, and not have ventured to ask any questions.

Thus veiling her intended movements in secresy, one evening as all the family were assembled, the girls spinning or at their needle, and the young men enjoying their pipe and the brown jug of home brewed stingo, Dame Lademan asked her eldest son, whether Smiler could be spared the next day; adding, that she wanted to go and pay a visit to her sister, who lived five miles distant. She well knew what the answer would be, as none of the farm operations were ever undertaken without her control, or sanction. So soon therefore, as she had received the “Yees mother, for Dick and me's going a thrashing the woats,” she turned to Bridget, and said — “Well Bridget, dear, you and I'll go and see sister Nanny; Smiler carries double, and I'll ride on the pillion, and so we shall not stop any work by taking one of your brothers.”

The girl was taken by surprise, and coloured greatly, for she had heard her brother ask Quintus, to come and see the fun of opening the oat stack, as they were to have ferrets and terriers to hunt the rats they expected to find, and she felt a great reluctance to lose the pleasure she had anticipated. Presently, however, she replied, “Law! mother, take me! why not let Betsey go? she is older than me.”

“I take you, Bridget, because your aunt particularly wants to see you, and it is your turn, as Betsey was there a little while ago. Come, go to bed girls now, and be ready to start, dear, by six in the morning.”

This was the first time Bridget had ever felt the indescribable pain of separation from an object, to whom, although unconsciously, she was attached. She could not help wondering what made her so loth to undertake an excursion, which had hitherto always given her pleasure, — but, when amongst other ideas, the image of Quintus flitted before her, she might have been undeceived, had she been less the child of simplicity and innocence, than she really was. After a restless night, she awoke at daybreak, and Smiler, bearing the sidesaddle and pillion, being brought to the door, the mother and daughter took their departure, purporting, as they said, to return in the evening.

Nevertheless, nothing was farther from the good dame's intention, than either to visit aunt Nanny, or to let her daughter return, as the girl expected. They proceeded, it is true, to the aunt's residence, but Mrs. Lademan knew perfectly well, that none of the family would be


  ― 45 ―
at home — as she was sufficiently acquainted with their movements, not to be ignorant that they were all to be present at a wedding, on that morning, in quite another direction. When therefore they reached the house, and found this the case, Bridget inwardly rejoiced, pleasing herself with anticipating their return home by the time her brothers had told Quintus the stack would be opened. Under this idea, she was turning Smiler's head towards Rundleton as a matter of course, and was preparing to switch her right shoulder with all her might, as a stimulus to mend her usual steady-going pace, when her mother said, “Well, my dear, as we have come so far, it sha'nt be for nothing: we will go and see uncle Humphrey — come, my child, jog on a little, else we may be late.”

A word from the good dame, was always sufficient, either with husband, sons or daughters. She governed absolutely, yet mildly; she never argued, but met any opposition to her will by silence; and, when she had heard all that could be alleged, forthwith proceeded to carry into effect, in her own way, whatever she though proper. It was a little stretch for Bridget, to have ventured the opinion and expressions that had escaped her, the preceding evening — but she knew better than to repeat the experiment, and assuming all her natural grace and cheerfulness, she presently, although most unwillingly, obeyed her mother's will.

Uncle Humphrey was one of farmer Lademan's brothers, and like him, a worthy, respectable yeoman. He resided upon an extensive farm, situate about five miles from their present spot; and it was nearly the same distance from Rundleton; the latter place forming the centre of a sort of circle, part of the circumference of which, comprehended the other two places; or rather perhaps, the three, formed a right angled triangle.

Although the good dame had wisely kept her own counsel, uncle Humphrey's wife, between whom and herself, there had always been a good understanding, had arranged with her the whole affair, on the last market day at Oswestry, including also, a plan of ulterior proceedings, if necessary. The two matrons thought, perhaps wisely enough, that Quintus, missing his fair favourite longer than he expected, might find his way to aunt Nanny's in quest of her, as he would be certain to learn from her brothers or sisters, that she had gone thither; and in chusing the day they had for her departure, it had been part of their scheme, that the clue to her real destination should be lost, by the absence of the family in consequence of the wedding; as they would thus be unable to answer any enquiries that might be made by him, with respect to where the treasure had been planted. So well indeed, was their secret kept, that until afterwards, when she imparted it, and its motive, to her husband, not a hint


  ― 46 ―
had been divulged; but farmer Lademan was scarcely so complaisant upon this occasion, as was usual with him, when he happened to differ in opinion with his wife; and he received a severe curtain lecture for venturing to remark with all a father's partiality, “you might as well have left them to themselves, for all I can see. Biddy is a good girl, and a pretty one; and fit for him, or any other squire's son in the kingdom, and I daresay he thinks her so.”

Upon reaching uncle Humphrey's, a most hospitable reception awaited them, and the whole party seemed quite happy and delighted. Bridget ceased to think farther for the moment, of the oat stack and the associations connected with it, her mind adopting the idea that, perhaps Quintus might be in the four acre pasture the next morning at milking time, as sometimes was his custom, when he picked nosegays or gathered wild fruits, which he always offered to her, in preference to her sisters.

Here again, she was doomed to be disappointed. After some time had elapsed, and as the hour for departure seemed approaching, uncle Humphrey's wife earnestly pressed her visitors to stay with them a few days, promising if they would, that she would accompany them to Rundleton the next week, and return the visit. Dame Lademan and her sister in-law had previously settled all this — and consequently the latter was fully prepared to fall into the “mezzio terzo,” or middle course, afterwards proposed, by which it was agreed that Bridget should remain with her aunt a few days, and that her mother should ride home alone.

“Law! mother, don't leave me here! there's not a soul to speak to, and I shall be moped to death,” exclaimed the poor girl, paying little regard to her aunt's presence, or to the want of courtesy, the speech exhibited.

“There's no fear of that, child,” replied the prudent mother. “You can help your aunt to do fifty things, and we can't refuse her kind invitation, particularly as it will be the means of her coming to us next week.”

“But I have no clothes,” answered Bridget, willing to make any excuse, that had the least chance of rendering nugatory her mother's intention — for she well knew that, unless some insurmountable obstacle could be suggested, opposition to a command once issued, was useless.

“Leave that to me, my dear, you shall have plenty of clothes,” and then requesting that Smiler might be saddled, the mother added, in a tone not to be misunderstood, “I'll leave the pillion for your use next week.”

Presently afterwards she took leave, charged by her daughter with numberless kind messages to her brothers and sisters; nor could


  ― 47 ―
she help saying, just at the last moment, “If Mr. Quintus asks where I am, please to tell him; but don't say I shall be home next week.”

The subtilty of this speech, confirmed the good dame in the propriety of the step she had taken. She saw clearly, that her daughter expected Quintus would find his way to her present habitation; and she determined the more firmly, to counteract his youthful attachment, by every means in her power.

Nothing was again farther from the real intentions than what was expressed, with regard to the ensuing week, nor was there any thing meant to be more studiously concealed from Quintus, than where Bridget was staying. Nevertheless, the two matrons carried on the farce with great apparent sincerity, and after numerous “Good bye's, sister, we shall be with you next week — love to dear brother and all at home,” and other usual adieus dame Lademan mounted old Smiler, and returned alone to Rundleton.

Meanwhile, Quintus attended at the hour that had been named for opening the stack, but discovered that a certain something was missing, to fill up the measure of enjoyment he had anticipated, and that the promised amusement passed off vapidly in the extreme. He did not like to ask where Bridget was, and yet he wondered why he did not see her. At length, one of her sisters said, “Why what's the matter with you, to day, Mr. Quintus? you can hardly say, ‘Bo to a goose.’ I shall make mother and Bridget laugh finely, when they come home, by and bye, by telling them how mopish you have been all day.”

“Where are your mother and Bridget then?” replied Quintus.

“Gone to spend the day at Southwood, but they will be home in the evening.”

Quintus now partly discovered what had made the forenoon appear so dull; and shortly afterwards, excusing himself that he had something particular to do, took up his hat, and bent his way to the rectory.

Early the next morning, he contrived to be in the four acre pasture at an early hour, but it was only to be disappointed, and to learn that the mother had returned alone, leaving her daughter to come home the following week. This intelligence was any thing but agreeable — he became fidgetty and restless — unable to account for his altered feelings, his former haunts and pursuits lost their relish; and in a fit, partly of peevish disappointment, and partly of assumed fortitude, he applied very closely to his studies; and having been always an admirer of Terence, commenced a translation of one of his comedies, in blank verse. But, in the midst of this new mode of passing his ample leisure, an incident arose, which brought him


  ― 48 ―
forward in a new character, and both Bridget Lademan and Terence, were for the moment, nearly forgotten. One of the scholars, whose friends resided at Liverpool, a youth of a wayward, idle disposition, and who had made very little progress in his learning, was discovered to be missing at one morning's muster roll; nor, could any other tidings of him be obtained, than that, he had last been seen in his place at bed time, the preceding evening. At the usual call of “All in,” after breakfast, Richard Trotter was still “non est inventus,” and Dr. Simpson sending for Quintus, desired him to proceed to Oswestry, accompanied by one of the servants, and to enquire if the absentee had been seen or heard of, in this direction, as it was conjectured, that he had ran away from school, and was most probably on the road to Liverpool. They accordingly set off on foot; but, if Dr. Simpson intended that their journey should terminate at Oswestry, as his words implied, Quintus, from the first, conceived a very different idea, and thought it would be an excellent opportunity of seeing two towns, of which he had heard so much, as Chester and Liverpool. He said nothing to the servant of his intention, meaning, if he were able, to make this, his interpretation of Dr. Simpson's orders, rather to appear to arise from circumstances, as they might occur, than as a previously fixed scheme, and upon reaching Oswestry, the information he obtained, seemed to favor his design, as he learnt that the runaway had been seen there shortly after day-break, and had proceeded onwards, with the Chester carrier.

“We must follow him directly,” said Quintus, “and we shall be sure to overtake him before he reaches Chester.”

“Follow him, master Quintus?” replied Ralph, “the Doctor only told us to go to Oswestry.”

“That was to learn if we could obtain any tidings of him. If we had not heard of him, it might have been one thing, but as we know where he is, it is quite another.”

“We have nought to travel with, that I knows of,” replied the servant, “for I hav'nt no money, and you told me just now, as how you could not let me have a pint of beer.”

“That's no matter at all,” said Quintus, who, in point of fact, had only two or three shillings in his pocket, and which circumstance had led him to refuse the pint of beer, the man had requested, wisely thinking it would be more wanted, ere the day was over.

“Whatever you may do master Quintus, I won't walk fifty miles, with a hungry belly, and an empty pocket, and so, if you chuse to go you can; but I shall be homeward bound at once.”

“Only think, Ralph, what harm it might do the Doctor at Liverpool, whence he has so many scholars, if Trotter should reach home and tell a parcel of lies. It may make him lose several of them.”




  ― 49 ―

“That's nought to me, Master Quintus. — If I can't get a pint of beer, and summat to eat, when I be a hungred, I'll be damned if I'll go another mile, that's flat.”

Quintus by no means wanted Ralph to accompany him. He knew full well that, there would be no difficulty in overtaking the carrier, long before he could reach Liverpool; but this would not have suited his purpose, and he was rather desirous of getting rid of such a restraint, as the servant would have been upon his movements, not forgetting either, that with a slender purse, one mouth was easier to provide for than two. He therefore made little serious objection to the man's determination to return, and writing a few lines to the Doctor, to say that, having traced the runaway, and ascertained him to be a few miles ahead, he thought he might do so much mischief by his misrepresentations, that he was following him, and that he did not intend to return until he had overtaken him, he dismissed Ralph, and proceeded on his journey.

Pursuing his route, he started for Wrexham, with a heart as light as his pocket; and after four hours fast walking, the beautiful church-tower, for which that place is remarkable, met his eye, at a moment, when he was beginning to need some little rest. Upon entering the town, he stopped at the first public-house of tolerable appearance he approached, fearing, lest he might pounce too suddenly upon his object of pursuit, and meaning there to make such enquiries, as might regulate his farther progress. Calling for some bread and cheese, and a glass of ale, they were presently placed before him by a shrewd-looking, bustling landlady, of whom he enquired, how long it was since Dixon, the Liverpool carrier had passed, and whether he stopped in that town or not?

Answering his question by another, she said, “What has such like as you to do with the Liverpool carrier, I trow? I'll warrant you, you be some lad, leaving a good home to go to sea, but take my advice, and go back again.”

“Indeed 'tis no such thing,” replied Quintus, “but I want to overtake Dixon's cart, for something very particular; and you shall see I tell you true, for I will call here again as I come back.”

“Ah! well, 'tis no affair of mine,” said the good woman. “I pity your poor mother an it be as I suspect, and you'll rue the day you did'nt take my advice, and you'll think of me, and 'll say so too.”

Quintus was a boy affectionately disposed towards his parents and the suspicion thus conveyed, gave him pain; he therefore repeated with increased earnestness, his assurance that she was mistaken, assuming a tone of voice and expression, that greatly removed her apprehensions, and concluded by saying, “but you have not yet told me about the carrier; 'pon my honor, you may believe me.”




  ― 50 ―

“Make your mind easy anent that,” she replied, “for you winna overtake him, this side of Chester, jog forwards as fast as you will; and he will leave it again for Liverpool, early to-morrow morning. He puts up at Chester, at the Black Bull in Long Lane.”

“I thank you, my good mother,” said Quintus, “I must needs be off, if that is the case, for I shall not have too much time to reach Chester, before it is dark. The Black Bull in Long Lane, you say! Well, I shall remember it, and when I return this way, you shall see that I am as good as my word in what I have told you.” He then defrayed the expense of his frugal meal, which reduced his funds however, to a less sum than two shillings, and bidding adieu to the friendly hostess, recommenced his journey although nothing was farther from his intention, than to go nearer the Black Bull, than he could avoid.

The sun had now considerably passed its meridian, and Quintus having thirteen miles of dusty road yet to travel, pushed forward with recruited vigour, desirous, if possible, of accomplishing the distance before night fall. He had long been so much accustomed to pedestrian exercise, that bodily fatigue and he were strangers. Naturally strong and healthy, and habitually cheerful, a journey of thirty-two miles on foot, although not commenced until after nine o'clock of a hot spring morning, was not to him so formidable an undertaking as might have been imagined; on the contrary, he continued his way lightly and with spirit, nor was it until the first shades of dusk were perceptible on the horizon, that a thought entered his mind as to how he should manage for his night's accommodation. He was not very particular, provided he could obtain a clean lodging, and it occurred to him just as the dark red walls of Chester Cathedral were discernible at the extremity of the straight flat line of road he was treading that, as economy in husbanding his slender store of wealth, was absolutely necessary, he would seek accommodation for the night at a small farm house he observed at a short distance, standing in the midst of some well cultivated fields to the left, being well acquainted from what he had observed at Rundleton, with the hospitable character of the English farmer; and reconciled to the idea of a bread and milk supper by the best of all sauces, equally as to the chance of a clean straw bed, by the best of all narcotics. Perhaps too, a certain recollection of distant scenes, had its share in the imaginary charms of a farm house lodging, and helped to overcome a natural diffidence that might have made him fear becoming an intruder; but against this, the low state of his finances acted as a counterpoise, and at length determined him.

But he was destined to spend his evening in a very different manner to what he had been thus planning; for, just as he


  ― 51 ―
approached a gate, leading by a bridle road to the neat whitewashed dwelling that had attracted his notice, and was meditating what should be his apology for the liberty he was about to take, he observed a horse coming along the road without a rider, but saddled and bridled, and bearing a pair of heavily laden saddle bags. The animal was advancing in a very leisure manner, stopping every now and then, looking around, and then again moving forwards; and Quintus's curiosity being excited by so unusual a circumstance, he abandoned for a moment the idea of the farm house, and standing in the middle of the road, quietly waited until by its nearer approach, he might be able to render such assistance as might be required. The horse showed no disposition to avoid him, but on the contrary, allowed itself to be easily caught, when he proceeded to return with it towards the spot, where the apparent accident had occurred. After thus walking about a mile, he saw a gentleman sitting on the bank by the road side, as if unable to move, and whom he had no difficulty in rightly conjecturing to be the object of his search.

“I believe Sir,” he said, as he advanced leading the animal, “I have been fortunate enough to catch your horse for you.”

“By my soul have you,” the stranger replied, “and I am obliged to you, my young gentleman, the d———d beast made a start at a stage coach as I was riding carelessly along, and losing my seat, here I am with a broken leg I'm afraid, or something pretty nearly as bad, for I cannot put my foot to the ground.”

“Can I help you to remount Sir?” said Quintus.

“Why, thank ye, I suppose 'twont do to stay here, I must try what I can do, but I am damnably hurt. Are you a stranger my lad to these parts? you seem to be tired, and are but a youngish traveller I'm thinking.”

“I belong to Dr. Simpson's school at Rundleton, near Oswestry,” replied Quintus, “and am going on business for him to Liverpool.”

“And in what part of the country may your friends reside, my boy?”

“At D——, Sir, my father is Mr. Servinton, the banker there.”

“I know the name well, and I know D—— too. One good turn deserves another, so come along with me, and let me be your caterer at Chester to night; it's only a slight return for the service you have rendered me.”

“I am much obliged to you, Sir; I was going to ask you to recommend me to an inn, for I was never here before; but I hope I shall not be any inconvenience to you.”

“No, no! my young friend, no fear of that; but a d——d inconvenient business I might have found it to have been here all night, if you had not happened to come by when you did. — Come, I'll rest upon your shoulder, if you please, and try to mount the infernal


  ― 52 ―
brute, for I take it there'll be no other way of getting to Chester; and then we'll be jogging, and you shall have a skin full of the best of every thing to night, and be tucked up by the prettiest chamber-maid in the whole palatinate.”

This unlooked for change in Quintus's prospects, could not be otherwise than agreeable. He assisted the traveller to get upon the saddle, and walking by his side, soon reached the massive gates of the town, and they presently entered upon one of its long, rambling streets, not however without an apprehension on the part of Quintus, that the sign of the Black Bull in Long Lane, might impart information, he was by no means desirous of acquiring. He did not quite like the idea of receiving the proffered civility at the hands of a stranger; but on the other hand, he looked upon the favor he was about to receive, rather in the light of an acknowledgment of a service he had rendered, than as the boon it really was; and besides, the temptations held out to his acceptance, after so many miles as he had travelled, were too strong to be declined. He did not think proper, however, to give the traveller an insight, either into the nature of his errand, or the low state of his pocket, or, indeed, into any thing farther connected with himself, than he had already explained; thereby evincing a degree of caution or circumspection, which he failed afterwards to manifest upon several much more important occasions.

In little instances of this nature, Quintus early displayed a certain property of the mind, called by some, management; by others, with perhaps more propriety, cunning; and which, if nourished and fostered by success, oft lays the seeds of many injurious qualities, verifying the truth of Pope's lines: —

If good we plant not, vice will fill the place,
And rankest weeds, the richest soil deface.

After proceeding together at a slow pace, through one or two streets, they stopped at the door of a large inn, and Quintus, looking up at the sign, felt greatly relieved at seeing a splendid representation of a Wheat Sheaf. No sooner had the traveller alighted, than he motioned Quintus to follow him, as, leaning upon the waiter he led the way, seemingly quite at home, along a narrow, dark passage, at the end of which, a door opened into a good sized room, half filled with people, some of whom were engaged in writing, some in reading newspapers, others lolling on the sofa, or in elbow chairs with their legs stretched out, completely at ease, and in one or two of the corners, were small tables, with bottles and glasses, affording opportunities for quiet and deep converse between persons, on subjects interesting only to all appearance, to themselves. Around the


  ― 53 ―
walls of the room, were hung on pegs, hats and great coats, and close to the wainstcoating, gig-boxes and cushions, portmanteaus, saddle-bags, &c. were huddled together in indiscriminate heaps.

The two strangers were greeted with a general exclamation, upon their entrance, “What! in the Devil's name, are you come back again, Selwell? Why, we thought you were at Wrexham long ago; and what young colt have you brought with you?” In reply, the gentleman whom Quintus had probably rescued from a night's lodging,

The Heavens his curtains, and the earth his pillow,

briefly explained the circumstances that had caused his return, and ended by introducing Quintus to the particular notice of the company. “The young gentleman must be both hungry and tired, walking so far,” said an elderly traveller, who eyed him very attentively, and fancied he saw fatigue marked on his countenance; “I believe our greatest kindness to night, will be to order him a good supper, and then turn him over to cherry-cheeked Sally.” “No bad move,” said Mr. Selwell; and so indeed, thought Quintus himself; for, although the excitement of the present scene, had rallied his spirits, and for the moment, had counteracted his growing weariness, he found that he could scarcely shake off the inclination to sleep, that shortly suceeded his being seated in a hot, close room, and having fared but lightly throughout the day, the idea of a good supper was any thing but disagreeable. Whiling away an hour or two in this manner, he at length bade his new acquaintances good night, and was shortly wrapt in sweet forgetfulness.




  ― 54 ―

Chapter VI

“A fellow in a market town,
Most musical cried razors up and down.”
PETER PINDAR

The next morning, Quintus's first thoughts and enquiries related to the time that Dixon's cart left Chester, and when it was likely to reach Liverpool; for he much wished to accept an offer that had been made him the preceding evening, to remain for the day at his present quarters, and to take a seat in a traveller's gig early the following morning to Liverpool; but aware how much more easily impressions are made than effaced, it was a material point with him to arrive at Mr. Trotter's, before the runaway; and he felt a difficulty in deciding his course, until these important particulars were ascertained. It was therefore with real satisfaction he learnt that Dixon had left Chester several hours — that the truant was with him, and, still farther, that the cart, being heavily laden, must make a considerable circuit to avoid the ferry; consequently the carrier would not complete his journey till the succeeding afternoon.

Pleased with the intelligence so obtained, he entered the room where he had spent the preceding evening, and where a substantial breakfast was now prepared for its inmates, whom, in the mean time, he had been told were a party of commercial travellers. One of them, a fat, merry looking man, full of glee and good-humour, joined the others, just as the meal was about half over, thowing the door open with a swing, and saying hastily, “Hell and the devil! where d'ye think I've been this morning? I called to leave a card at old Crabtree's, and just to say, I would see the old codger again, by-and-by, and d———n him, if he did not absolutely turn me out of his shop, telling me, that I and my principals might go to the devil for him, as he never allowed a bagman, curse his impudence, to cross his threshold on a market day.”

“I could have told you as much,” replied another of the fraternity. “I have been obliged to lose a whole day before now, in dancing attendance upon the old gentleman, for he is too large a dealer and too good a paymaster to be missed. I finished with him last night, as I knew how 'twould be with him this morning.”

“By all the saints in the calendar,” answered the first speaker, “I'll conquer him and make him give me an order at his busiest hour of the day, spite of his teeth and of his d——d nonsensical custom.”




  ― 55 ―

“You will!” replied the other; “no! not if you get the Mother of all saints and old Father Beelzebub in the bargain, to help you. I knew old Crabtree, before to-day.”

“I never saw, nor heard of him, nor of his singularities, before this morning,” said the fat, merry traveller, “but I'll lay you a rump and dozen for the company, that I'll make him give me an order for goods to the tune of fifty pounds, at the very throng and bustle of to day's market, and I'll make him remember me as long as he lives, into the bargain.”

“Take it! take it!” was heard on all sides. “Plausible does not know Crabtree as we do, and he should pay for being made free of Chester, and for being taught to deal with the old fellow.”

“Well, gentlemen, let the bet be regularly made; honour and fair play's the word, and I'm your man.”

The wager was accordingly completed, the stakes deposited, and, as whoever won, there must needs be a loser who would have to pay the piper, honest Boniface received instructions to outshine himself, at three o'clock.

Quintus amazingly enjoyed this scene. He thought to himself, “if this man win, against such odds, it must be by energy and perseverance, or some other equally active quality, from either of which, I may derive a useful lesson.”

After breakfast, Mr. Plausible, for so the traveller who had laid the wager was named, renewed his visit to Crabtree, and apologising for having troubled him in the morning, alleging, that he had not been aware of his wish never to be disturbed on market days, added, very pleasantly, “however, if I cannot sell to you to day, you may perhaps have a customer in me; I want a ring for my watch-chain, and there's one in your window, which I think will suit me. Allow me to look at it.”

Crabtree was ever most obsequious and obliging to his customers, although so much the reverse to those who sought favours from him, and he instantly exhibited a tray whereon were several rings, saying “don't like to be disturbed when country folks are about, but call again to-morrow, and we'll see what we can do together.”

Presently, Plausible made choice of two, one of which was of remarkable appearance, and which he pointed out to Crabtree, adding, “I shall buy this, in remembrance of the drilling you gave me this morning, and pray look at it, so as to know it again, if you see it.”

“Ah! ah!” replied the shopkeeper, “nothing like teaching folks a bit, — sure to remember another time — but I see you are a merry chap and a'n't like some of 'em — I see we shall do well together, next time we meet.”




  ― 56 ―

After a few more mutual civilities, they bade each other good morning, and Plausible returned to the inn.

In some of the Northern counties, are what are called great markets, in distinction to the regular weekly market day, and at which large quantities of cattle and farm-produce are brought for sale, being a good deal of the nature of fairs, although not sanctioned by statute.

This happened to be one of that description, and as the day advanced, the throng of farmers with their wives and daughters, of bustling graziers and other dealers, became considerable; all flocking to Crabtree's, who, being a general shop keeper of long standing, and always well supplied with every article in common use, was much resorted to by all classes. He resided in rather a narrow street, and the entrance to his house, was by ascending four or five stone steps, at the top of which was a door way, just wide enough to allow people to pass and repass without jostling, but no more. At the very busiest hour of the forenoon, a poor, decrepit, old man, lame, and nearly, if not altogether blind, the very picture of misery, wretchedly attired, and wearing a large patch over his forehead, made his appearance in the street, led by a boy of about ten years old, and began scraping a cracked violin, accompanying his horrid noise by the still more discordant tones of his voice, as he sang some interminably long and dismal ballads. By and by he advanced towards Crabtree's shop, and standing immediately in front of it, entirely obstructed his customers, and gathered around him a crowd, which of itself, independently of the noise he made, proved an intolerable nuisance. Old Crabtree came to his door in a great rage, ordering him to go about his business; but the ballad-singer being afflicted by deafness as well as other infirmities, took no other notice of him than to hold out his hat, as if to receive a contribution. Crabtree, although acting under the influence of any other motive, than charity, threw him a few coppers saying, “there! there! go along about your business, that's a good man, step a little farther down the street;” but to his sorrow found that the Ballad-singer, appearing to misunderstand him, redoubled his exertions. The shopkeeper became dreadfully enraged, having paid the price of what he considered the fellow's withdrawing, and at length, wearied by his obstinacy, bade one of his shopmen go and bargain with him, even at the sacrifice of a crown, for betaking himself off. Still the endeavour was ineffectual; for the fiddler seemed to disregard all that was said to him, until all at once, looking wistfully at the messenger, and interpreting his words in his own way, although widely different from Crabtree's meaning — he coolly and deliberately gave his fiddle to the boy, and walked straight into the shop. Ere the by-standers


  ― 57 ―
could recover their surprise at so unlooked-for an occurrence, the ballad-singer advanced to the counter, and leaning forward, shewed Crabtree the ring he had sold Plausible that same morning, saying, “Hark ye, old Gentleman! don't you know me as well as this ring? Now I say, old Gentleman, give me an order for goods to the tune of Fifty Pounds, and my ballad-singing and fiddling shall be at an end in a minute. Otherwise, I give you my word, I'm only just beginning. A Fifty Pound order under your hand, will secure me a wager dinner of a rump and dozen, and I shall be d———d glad if you will make one of the company; but the order I must and will have, and the sooner you give it, the sooner you'll get rid of my company. Now that's what I call fair and above board, and I hope we understand each other.”

Crabtree was a bit of a humourist, and as he had really purposed dealing with Plausible the next morning, entered into the joke better than might have been expected, and glad to purchase a riddance of the annoyance upon no worse terms, immediately complied by giving the desired order, bidding the traveller to call the next day for more particulars. The effect of this upon the other's infirmities was instantaneous, for he had no sooner received the trophy than he left the shop, walking briskly along, and made his way to the inn in triumph.

Quintus drew a moral from this adventure, as well as from those of the preceding day, which, in after-life, he had abundant opportunities of applying, viz., that there are no difficulties, however seemingly great, that are not to be conquered by perseverance.

He spent the principal part of the forenoon in rambling about the ancient city he was now in, regarding with particular attention its massive walls, which, heretofore used as a means of defence, are now only remarkable as a specimen of fortifications of this nature, and, as affording a promenade to the inhabitants, from which they can command extensive views of the surrounding country. As he contemplated this instance of our forefathers' mode of entrenching themselves against their enemies, he could not help associating in his mind what he had read in the classic authors with whom he was familiar upon such subjects; for boys of his age are ever, a little romantic, particularly when, as was now his case, they feel themselves rising into importance, on account of their acquirements. He also visited the cathedral and chapter-house, and was much pleased with the various beauties, and the light, elegant architecture of the latter, which he was told was superior to any thing of the kind in England.

Thus loitering away the hours, until the public clocks reminded him of the approaching wager dinner, he turned his steps towards


  ― 58 ―
the inn, and joined the large party who were already assembled at the table. The rude and boisterous mirth that attended the merry-making of the choice spirits, who seemed disposed to render ample justice to the occasion, was very little to Quintus's taste. Any thing like a public dinner, was new to him; and although, out of regard to his years, he was left perfectly at liberty as to the bottle, the loud horse-laugh that followed each song, the overwhelming chorus, and the rude jokes that freely circulated, as the evening advanced, gave him a disrelish to the scene, and induced him to make his escape from the room as early as possible. At day-break next morning, the veteran bacchanalian who had promised to be his charioteer, having shaken off all the effects of the over-night's festivity, had his gig at the door, and handing Quintus into its vacant corner, they were speedily on the road to Liverpool.

The drive was performed with all the steady regularity that marks the movements of an experienced roadster, and arriving at the ferry in good time, they crossed without difficulty, and entered the town about two in the afternoon. Here then, was Quintus in this large and populous place, having happily accomplished a fatiguing journey, and, thanks to the fortunate chances that had befallen him, still in possession of more than half the small pittance of which he was the owner when he left Rundleton. Taking leave of his guide as he alighted from the carriage, he gave a porter nearly his last remaining shilling, to shew him the way to Mr. Trotter's residence, of whom he knew nothing more, than that he was an Attorney. Upon reaching the house, he knocked at the door, which immediately flew open as of itself, when he heard a voice from a room in the passage cry out — “Come in” — a summons he forthwith obeyed, and in an instant found himself in an office, where seven or eight smartly dressed young men were sitting at desks, engaged in writing. Scarcely raising their eyes to see who had entered, so accustomed were they to visitors, one of them presently turned round, and casting towards him a kind of surveying glance, inquired in rather a supercilious manner, what he wanted. Quintus, although completely countryfied by his long residence in so secluded a spot as Rundleton, had that sort of ease about him which never wholly leaves good birth, and assuming an air rather of consequence, as if to check the speaker, replied, “I want to see Mr. Trotter.” Immediately, a short, middle-aged Gentleman, who was standing near the fire-place, reading a newspaper, looked up and said, “With me, my young man? pray what may your business be?”

“I come from Dr. Simpson's, Sir,” was the reply, “and I am charged with a private message to you, or Mrs. Trotter.” He was then requested to walk into an inner room, where he fully explained the


  ― 59 ―
object of his mission, taking care to speak in the highest terms of Dr. Simpson, and of every thing connected with the school, and saying nothing to young Trotter's prejudice, beyond what he could avoid.

Mr. Trotter listened to him with attention, and then replied, “And pray my lad, who may it be, that the Doctor thus employs on his hue-and-cry errands? You do not seem to have understood your calling well, to have missed Richard on the road, as you are here before him; but I suppose we shall see him presently.”

Quintus replied in a manner that quite satisfied Mr. Trotter, who made answer, “Do not mention your business to any other person at present, but oblige me by staying in this room. When Richard comes, we shall hear what he has to say for himself, and I will then bring you together. I am afraid he is a sad idle boy, but I hope nothing worse; but by-and-by we shall see. I once had the pleasure of meeting your father in London, upon some business connected with a bank that failed, and we will do our best to make you comfortable, whilst you remain with us. You must excuse me for the present, I will see you again presently.” With these words, he left the room, and shortly afterwards, a man servant, wearing a plain undress livery, entered, bearing refreshments on a tray, and an hour or two slowly passed, without his hearing any thing farther from the family. At the end of this time however, the fugitive made his appearance, accompanied by the carrier, who was ready to bear testimony as he said, to the poor lad's grievances, doubtless under the expectation of a liberal reward for his care and trouble. Mr. Trotter received them in the hall, and desiring the carrier to call again, led the boy to his mother, who loaded him with caresses, making many anxious enquiries, and bewailing his ill-treatment.

In good truth, Richard played his part admirably, and had a lie ready for every occasion. He gave a wretched account of the school — told his parents that the boys were half starved — that there was a fever among them, of which two had died, and several were still dangerously ill — that no attention was paid to their education — altogether, drawing a most highly coloured and false picture of the establishment.

Mr. Trotter heard with patience all he had to say, nor did he betray any other feeling as his wife repeatedly exclaimed, — “Poor dear child!” “Dear me, how cruel!” “I'm so glad he's come away!” “Well, he shall never go there again!” “Only think how the darling must have suffered!” — and much more in a similar strain; but, when he conceived there was nothing more to be imparted, left the room, presently returning and introducing Quintus.

“Here is a young Gentleman of your acquaintance, Richard; please


  ― 60 ―
to repeat in his presence what you have just told your mother and me, respecting Rundleton.”

Richard, perfectly abashed and confounded at this unexpected rencontre, could not say a single word, but began to cry and sob bitterly; when Mr. Trotter, turning to his wife, observed — “My dear, I am sorry to find that Richard, as well as being an idle boy, is a story-teller. What he has told us about Rundleton is untrue. I will explain more to you by and by; but in a day or two, when he and this young Gentleman — who is a Master Servinton — have sufficiently recovered their long journey, and Master Servinton has seen a little of Liverpool, I shall send him back under proper charge. In the mean time, his school-fellow is the son of a Gentleman whom I know; pray, therefore, do what you can to make his stay with us agreeable.”

Mrs. Trotter was a mild, amiable, lady-like woman, whose husband's wishes were always her chief rule of action. She received the communication, so far as it regarded her son, with sorrow; but said nothing in reply likely to pursue the painful subject, rather turning her attention to Quintus, whom she welcomed with ease and good-nature. From her husband also, he received much and very kind notice. He devoted the chief part of the following day, to taking him to such public buildings as were worth seeing, and afterwards showed him over some of the large manufactories, which have so mainly contributed to the fame of this spirit-stirring town; pointed out its magnificent docks, explaining at the same time the facility they afford to trade, by the dispatch with which the largest vessels are thus loaded and unloaded; and in the evening accompanied him to the theatre. The wide, handsome streets they traversed, with their splendid shops, and extensive warehouses rising story upon story — the long train of carts and carriages, and the never-failing stream of foot-passengers he every where saw, were all in turn sources of wonderment, creating in his mind the highest interest. He remained one other day under this hospitable roof, when he returned to Rundleton, attended by a confidential domestic of Mr. Trotter's and the runaway, and bearing a letter to Dr. Simpson, speaking of him in the most favorable terms; but in allusion to Richard, begging that he might be kept under a strict course of discipline, and particularly, that his late conduct might not go unpunished. When they reached Wrexham, and while the carriage and horses were being changed, Quintus could not forbear making a call upon the landlady who had given him her kind cautions a few days previously. Entering her humble dwelling almost breathless with haste, he exclaimed, “Now, you will believe me another time, won't you? for you see here I am, and I have been all the way to Liverpool.”




  ― 61 ―

“The blessing of God be upon you, my lad, whoever you are, for coming to tell me so. I somehow or other did not think muckle harm of you.”

Shortly explaining his errand, and how accomplished, and then bidding her a good-natured adieu, he resumed his journey, and which was completed just as the sun was making its last dip in the horizon, in all its varied splendour. When they passed the gate that opened from the road to farmer Lademan's, Quintus could not help casting an anxious look towards the cottage, and at its door, could just discern four females standing in a group, apparently in conversation. His heart leaped at the very idea of how much he should have to talk about, descriptive of all that he had seen and heard, in the course of his travels; and he felt disposed to chide the tardiness of the driver in having so prolonged their arrival at the village, as would now oblige him to defer his anticipated pleasure till the next morning, well knowing that he should have no opportunity of leaving the school earlier. Dr. Simpson received the party with much satisfaction, and bestowed upon Quintus many highly flattering expressions, in approbation of his zeal and diligence; listening also attentively to the account he gave of his adventures.

It was his first thought the following morning, to call at the Lademan's. “Why, goodness gracious! where have you been, Mister Quintus? the sight of you is good for sore eyes,” said the eldest daughter, as he entered the cottage.

“I have been to Liverpool,” he replied; “but where,” looking around the room, as he spoke, “are your sisters?”

“Bridget is not come home from her aunt's,” said the mother, “and she likes the place so much, that she has asked to stay another fortnight. Betsey is only in the dairy, and will be here in a minute; but law! how you look! why, this journey has strangely altered you.”

“Has it?” replied Quintus, with an air of vacancy, — “I wonder what can make Bridget stay away so long.”

“Pleasant company, I suppose,” replied her mother. “Bridget likes pleasant company, like other young folks, at least so I'm told,” giving at the same moment, a very expressive nod and wink, “but come now, Master Quintus, do tell us all about Liverpool.”

“Wasn't Bridget here last night,” replied he, not heeding the latter part of what had been said to him, “I certainly saw four of you, standing at the door, as we drove by in the chaise.”

No: it was Jane Smith, who had been drinking tea here; Bridget is happer elsewhere, I assure you; but do let us know about your journey.”

“I have nothing to tell,” said Quintus, in a peevish tone, his quickness of temper being excited by his disappointment, “I have


  ― 62 ―
something else to do;” and with this, abruptly walked off, scarcely deigning to say, good morning, to either of the party.

The mother was the only one, who rejoiced to see this behaviour; she alone, truly guessed it's cause, and she pleased herself with thinking that, her plans had hitherto succeeded capitally; and that, if she could but keep the young people a little longer apart, her apprehension of danger, would be over. As for the rest of the family, Quintus had always been rather a favourite with them, particularly with the daughters; and, as none of them could comprehend what had produced his present ebullition, they were sorry he had left them in so uncourteous a manner.

The real truth, with regard to Bridget was that, from the very first moment of her visit at her aunt's, she had been anxiously contemplating the promised return to Rundleton; but her matronly guardian, although constantly talking of it in general terms, was still careful not to name any precise period; and thus, day after day succeeded each other, with nothing more than, “Well, dear! was there any thing ever so provoking — always something happening to prevent our going to Rundleton — but there — it shan't be longer than next week;” and the utmost she could draw from her aunt being, “We'll see about it, to-morrow.” Thus, was the poor girl kept living upon hope deferred, till Quintus returned from his expedition; and the fame of his success, having reached dame Lademan's ears, she had sense enough to conceive that, something more than she had hitherto plotted, was yet necessary in order to keep the young people apart, should he once entertain the idea of seeking an interview with her daughter; as a lad of the character he had more than once exhibited, was not likely to be deterred from a favourite pursuit, by any seeming difficulties. She saw how readily he had swallowed her insinuations, respecting “pleasant company;” and so long as he might remain under the influence of the feeling that was evidently animating him at present, she had little fear of the result. The next step that occurred to her therefore, was to set similar leaven at work in her daughter's bosom, so as to create in each, a feeling of indifference towards the other; and with the view of perfecting her scheme, she resolved to take her good man with her to Overton, and talk to her daughter; for she was correctly informed of the girl's wish to return home, and was desirous of preventing it ere too late.

Arriving at uncle Humphrey's, she expressed great delight at seeing her daughter look “so well and happy;” — words, to which Bridget did not heartily assent, but, blushing perhaps at what was passing within her bosom, enquired for all her friends, and then ventured timidly to ask, “and how is master Quintus?”




  ― 63 ―

“The young gentleman is well enough, I believe, but we don't see much of him, and we hear he spends his time with idle company, and has been running up and down all over the country; and we heard t'other day too, that he is after sweethearting a trumpery creature who's no better than she ought to be.”

“I didn't think that of him,” said the girl, looking at her own fine face and form, in an old-fashioned glass over the chimney-piece, as she spoke, “but I'm sure if that's his fancy, I wish him joy of it.”

“Oh! I forgot, child,” interrupted her mother, who perceived in a moment that the bait had taken, “he gave me a message for you.”

“For me!” cried the half-delighted Bridget, her countenance instantly suffused by modest blushes, “What message did he send me, mother? pray tell me.”

“Why, my child, he bade me tell you, to be sure to bring home a good husband with you; and that if you wasn't so far off, and if he had'nt lots of other things to do, he'd come and see you; but he can't spare time.”

“The more like his impudence,” said the offended fair one, “to send me his messages. Let him keep them for somebody else, and tell him so, from me — I neither want him nor his messages neither.”

“Who are you talking about?” quietly, and with the utmost simplicity, interposed aunt Humphrey.

“A young gentleman at the Doctor's,” was the mother's reply. “One master Quintus, as we calls him; he's a terrible idle lad I'm thinking, for he seems always playing truant, running about the country, or something or t'other; and then he's such a temper you can't think. I fancy he belongs to some great squire or another, and I suppose as how the Doctor finds his account in letting him do as he does, instead of minding his lessons.”

“I'm sure mother, he's no such thing,” cried Bridget, who had shown throughout her mother's speech, evident impatience, “and I'm sure you always used to praise him, and to say what a nice young gentleman he was, when he used to bring the newspapers and read them to you; and I mind how often too of a Sunday, when you asked him to read a sermon to you, you always said when he was gone, that he was a very sweet-tempered and obliging young gentleman: I'm sure you did, mother.”

“Well, well, whatever he is,” replied the dame, somewhat posed at being thus reminded of her former opinions, so different to what she had now uttered, “he's too fond I take it, of running after a parcel of trumpery girls to please me, and there's an end of it.”

Dame Lademan had quick discernment, and presently saw that to attempt to depreciate Quintus, had an effect directly contrary to what she had intended. She saw, also that an allusion to his


  ― 64 ―
seeming indifference, and to his being under the influence of some other attractions, was her right chord; and, so well therefore, did she manage her part in the further conversation that ensued, that Bridget in the end, entreated to stay at her aunt's some little time longer, rather than return home. Well satisfied upon the whole, with the result of her ride, the careful matron now re-mounted old Smiler to proceed homewards, settling with, or rather for her husband, as they jogged along their way chatting upon the subject, that they had only to keep Bridget's real abode concealed a short time longer from Quintus, and to continue the present game of cross purposes, for all danger to be removed. But, what says a Spanish authority, well acquainted with the secret springs of human nature?

Ser la privacion
Causa de appetito,

which has been translated,

Still will confinement's rigid hand
Inflame the wish to stray.

And what right was there to expect that in this case, there would be a departure from an all-subduing principle of action? But the sequel will explain for itself.




  ― 65 ―

Chapter VII

“Mother! with careful eye you strive
My freedom to restrain;
But know, unless I guard myself,
Your guard will be in vain.”

SPANISH SONG

Quintus returned to the school in very little better humour than when he left the farmer's cottage; and for some days continued to evince his disappointment by an unusual share of ill-temper or peevishness, to those around him, extending it even sometimes to his superiors. His altered behaviour did not escape observation; and one morning as he was crossing the court yard, leading to the outer gate of the school boundaries, he picked up a billet, addressed to himself, and read as follows:

Why art thou cast down? why in such a fidget?
Is it, that is flown, lovely, charming Bridget?
But pluck up thy heart, man; quick to Southwood trudge it,
Presto, hie! begone, and ease thee of thy budget.

The handwriting of this doggrel was unknown to him, and yet it did not appear disguised. Boyish love, however fervently it may burn, is naturally shy and timid, and Quintus's cheeks glowed with blushes at finding that other people had discovered that which, was scarcely known even to himself, and he proceeded towards the school in no very agreeable mood, forming each minute a hundred plans, and as quickly abandoning them, dissatisfied with each in turn. Whilst in this state of bustle or turmoil of the mind, all his thoughts, all his energies received a new impetus, from an occurence which bade fair, not only to deprive him of any farther opportunities of seeing Bridget, but what was of much more real importance, although he did not at the time think so, of what he had so laboured to attain, the honors and pleasure of the captainship.

The junior usher, a Mr. Baxter, had long rendered himself very obnoxious to many of the boys, not so much by any particular strictness with regard to their lessons, as by interfering with their little amusements, and by constantly making representations to Dr. Simpson, of “trifles light as air,” which, when distorted and magnified, caused new restrictions to be enforced, and needless punishment to be oft inflicted.




  ― 66 ―

Conduct such as this, had engendered a spirit of decided hostility towards him, and gave rise to a conspiracy, having for its object, a deep revenge. It had been chiefly matured during Quintus's trip to Liverpool, and so far perhaps, he was fortunate as he would have found it difficult to have steered clear of what was going forward, and at the same time, to reconcile a feeling of schoolboyish honor, with the dictates of his duty to Dr. Simpson. Happily therefore, he was saved the perplexing alternative, for he really knew little of the affair, until the explosion took place.

It was the custom, once or twice in each week, for all the scholars to take a walk through the neighbouring woods and fields, under charge of one or more of the ushers, and some of the biggest boys had provided themselves with cords, having settled that, the first time Mr. Baxter should act as sole custos, in one of these occasions, they would overpower him, and leave him tied to a tree. The anxiously looked for opportunity chanced to present itself, on the very day that Quintus picked up the note, and the plot having proved completely successful, the boys returned to the school, behaving as quietly and orderly, as if nothing had happened. But, however well the secret had hitherto been kept, the outrage they had committed, could not be expected long to remain concealed from the head master; and they all immediately felt his resentment, extending even to Quintus, who, although no direct party to the offence, was supposed to have known the existence of the plot and might therefore have interfered to prevent it. The consequence was, an open rebellion; and the boys, having once broken down the barriers of obedience, became mischievous and intractable in the highest degree; nor did there seem the least probability of a restoration to order, as they resolutely insisted upon the immediate dismissal of Mr. Baxter, as the only terms on which they would return to their lessons.

Had they taken a more moderate course, and have substantiated any fair grounds of complaint against their usher, no person would have been more ready than the Doctor to have listened to their tale, and to have redressed their grievances; but, he was a strenuous disciplinarian, and peremptorily insisted that, there should be an unconditional submission leaving him afterwards to adopt such a course, as he might think proper.

Quintus now found himself very delicately situated. The boys, many of whom were fifteen or sixteen, and some seventeen years old, called upon him to stand forward as their champion. The Doctor, still displeased with him upon the grounds already mentioned, said nothing, but was evidently watching his movements most narrowly; and it was clear also, that he depended in a measure


  ― 67 ―
upon his influence with the generality of the boys towards bringing about a resumption of his authority. An occasion was thus presented for exhibiting some of the governing principles of Quintus's mind, and he acquitted himself happily for all parties; but his success unfortunately tended to increase a certain portion of self-sufficiency, that had been latterly a good deal apparent as part of his character.

He knew how great an admirer the Doctor always was of any thing that marked originality of idea, as upon many occasions he had found this successful in obtaining a holiday, when a request made in the common way had failed. The present state of affairs suggested itself to him therefore, as the subject of an allegorical essay, which he composed in Latin, representing Jupiter to be sitting in Council, receiving the daily report from his various emissaries and messengers, of what was going forward upon the earth, one of whom enters, and describes the passing scene at Rundleton. The Doctor was pourtrayed with great force and effect, and in very flattering colours. He was supposed to be standing in a circle, at one extremity of which, were two hundred cheerful, happy looking boys, pulling him towards them, and opening upon a rich champaign, full of corn, oil, and honey.

Opposite them stood a single gaunt, miserable figure, bearing on his countenance spite, malice, and revenge, and using the words, “etiam si nolis,” and who was dragging the Doctor by the tail of his coat, towards a precipice, at whose base lay ruin and destruction; and although the strength of the contending parties seemed so disproportioned, still the power of the single figure evidently preponderated. Jupiter having received this report, is made to exclaim — “Earum causarum quantum quœque valeat videamus,” and despatches Mercury to the earth, bidding him enquire into the merits of the case, and return instantly to his presence. Little time is lost in the execution of this order. Mercury quickly comprehends the whole affair, and so represents it, that a detachment is forthwith sent to the aid of the boys, when presently the gaunt figure is hurled down the precipice, towards which he had been drawing the Doctor, who is quickly surrounded by his pupils with evident marks of attachment, and is followed by them into the school-room, shouting, “All in, all in! the Doctor for ever!”

Quintus having completed this allegory, presented it with many dutiful apologies. Its force and meaning were obvious; and the illustration thus brought under the Doctor's view, of the inequality of the contest so far as it affected his own interests, carried to his mind instant conviction. He was pleased with the allusion to himself, nor did he lose sight of his vantage ground, in now conceding


  ― 68 ―
the boys' demands; a sufficient cause existing, as he chose to consider, in what he was pleased to call the merit of the essay. Order and peace were thus restored, and Quintus became reinstated in all his privileges, with redoubled honor.

His thoughts now reverted to the letter he had received, and once more he planned a walk to Southwood, but a second time reckoned without his host; for it so happened that just as he was preparing to proceed thither, he was summoned by Dr. Simpson to undertake an errand of some importance for him at Welshpool. Now, Welshpool lay in the very contrary direction to Southwood, where he vainly expected to have found Bridget, but uncle Humphrey's, where though little suspected by him, she was staying, happened to be in the immediate line, and within a hundred yards of the road; Overton being about half way between Welshpool and Rundleton. He felt much disappointed at this impediment to his plans, but knowing better than to evince it, prepared to start with the best grace he could assume, and having received his instructions, started on his journey. A little before he entered Overton, he saw in a field, a short distance from the road, a female figure, whose shape, height, and gait, struck him forcibly, as being the very image of Bridget. A more particular look satisfied him that it was no image, but the reality, and scrambling through the thick bushy hedge, that separated the field from the lane, he ran towards her with all the impetuous eagerness of youth, anxious to say to her, he knew not what, but so much overcome by surprise and other feelings, that, now the opportunity was presented to him, he could scarce give utterance to a single word. The girl's surprise was not less than his own, although, being ignorant of her mother's contrivances to keep them separate, and consequently not knowing that her place of abode had been concealed from him, she was too much piqued and out of temper at his supposed neglect, to notice him with much graciousness. So soon, however, as he had a little recovered himself, he said, “Oh! my dear Bridget, I'm so glad to see you.”

“I'm sure Mr. Quintus, if you had wanted to see me, you would have been here before now — but you have no business to dear me, you should keep your dears for somebody else.”

“For somebody else, Bridget! what do you mean? but I see how it is — you are thinking of somebody else, and I dare say are now waiting for this somebody else, if the truth is known, so I won't interrupt you, but will wish you good morning,”

“Somebody else is nothing to me, Mr. Quintus, and I don't want any more of your messages, and if you chuse to go, I'm sure I don't ask you to stay, so good bye, Mr. Quintus.”




  ― 69 ―

“What makes you so cross, Bridget?” still holding the hand that was not attempted to be withdrawn, “'tis not like you to be so sharp. Do you think if I had known where you were, I wouldn't have come to see you long ago; and I never sent you any message. Come now, my dear Bridget, look good natured, you know you are the prettiest girl I ever saw, and tell me why ar'nt you glad to see me?”

Her overcast features had been gradually assuming all their natural beauty and serenity as he was thus addressing her. He had called her his dear Bridget twice — he had told her she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen, and he still firmly held her hand, to none of which familiarities he had ever before advanced, and their effect was new and indescribable. Gently removing her hand, her modest face suffused by blushes, she said in reply to the speech, every word of which had given her such pleasure, “But you must first tell me, what you meant by somebody else.”

Mutual explanations ensued, and the ice having been once broken, they soon discovered to each other, what their youth and inexperience alone had, so long concealed. An hour thus agreeably passed, was unable however, to make Quintus forget that it could ill be spared, from the time necessary for the completion of the errand with which he had been entrusted. The business he had in hand he knew was of importance, and he was naturally too punctual and regular in all his movements, to suffer any thing to interfere with engagements of this nature. Even Bridget's charms, powerful as they were, proved insufficient to make him neglect his duty, and he accordingly said to her, “But now, my pretty Bridget, I must bid you good bye, for I have to go to Welshpool, but as I know where you are, you shall see me again to-morrow.”

“La! to Welshpool, Mr. Quintus! you won't think of going there today; won't to-morrow do?”

“No indeed, Bridget, I must go immediately. I ought to have been there before this time; and nothing must make me neglect Dr. Simpson's business.”

Bridget was not very easily convinced that any such paramount necessity for his departure could exist; and the parting was made with mutual reluctance, Quintus having much difficulty in dissuading her from instantly returning to Rundleton.

At length however, having charged her upon no account to say that she had seen him, and faithfully promising to renew the interview as early as possible, he tore himself from her, and pursued his walk.

Agreeable as the delay had proved, since, not only had it been the means of obtaining a much desired interview, but had also


  ― 70 ―
opened to his knowledge one of the most delightful secrets that are unfolded to the human breast, he felt he had done wrong in even this partial neglect of Dr. Simpson's orders; and now endeavoured to atone by extra diligence, for the time he had lost. He arrived at Welshpool just early enough to attain the object he had in view, and returned without delay to Rundleton.

As he was repassing the village where Bridget was staying, it rather discomposed him to observe her, standing at her uncle's garden gate, evidently waiting to speak to him; for he had readily enough guessed the contrivances of the two matrons, and it was his desire to conceal from their knowledge, that their secret was discovered. He resolved therefore, not to stop, fearing lest he might be noticed, and their future meetings be thus prevented.

The girl, however, did not seem inclined to be so put off. Observing that he showed no disposition to recognise her, she advanced towards him and said, “Why what's the matter now? are you too proud to speak to a body?”

“No, no; you know better than that,” he replied, “but go along pretty blue eyes; for if we are seen together, the old cats will be too much for us.”

“Won't you come and see me to-morrow? why can't you stop for a minute?

“Yes, yes; I'll meet you to-morrow where we settled; but do not be a fool and stay here now; I wonder you haven't more sense.” He would not allow time for a reply, but hastened onwards, leaving the girl to return to the house, cross and out of humour at this manner of treating her; contradicting in her case, the generally received opinion of the inferiority of the lords of the creation in affairs of the heart.

Upon retiring to his pillow, the events of the day reverted to his memory with all their force; but pleasant as might be the recollections of the past, or the anticipations for the future, his conscience told him, that he was forming a connexion which could only terminate in trouble, and was one which his parents could not approve. He endeavoured to combat the arguments thus presented to him, but in vain. Our inward monitor, until blunted by neglect, is both sharp and stirring; and after a severe conflict between it and his inclination, the former prevailed, and determined him that, coute qui coute, the acquaintance should proceed no farther.

Arising from his perturbed and restless slumbers, (the first he had ever experienced,) his firm resolve was to abstain from the promised meeting; but, alas! upon an after consideration, he settled that he would see her once, although only as he flattered himself, to have the opportunity of explaining the obstacles that existed in


  ― 71 ―
the way of their future correspondence. Vain and deceitful idea, like every other instance where people do wrong that right may come! Quintus was in this however, by no means a singular instance of the folly of ever allowing ourselves to be swayed by such specious excuses, as he now admitted into his bosom, when opposed to a line of conduct, which we are satisfied to be wrong; but he was yet young, and inexperienced, and was besides, already too much in the habit of being influenced by the fatal word, expediency.

His partner in this foolish affair, was scarcely more at ease upon the discovery of the state of her heart than himself; but upon very different grounds. She was mortified that he had not staid and chatted with her; on the contrary, his tone and manner were short and impatient; and she began to fancy that what her mother had said, was correct, and that, his long absence had rather proceeded from the causes she had assigned, than from his alleged ignorance of her residence. Upon the whole therefore, she was little satisfied with the result of their casual interview, and, although scarcely knowing why, was half displeased with him.

Such were their mutual feelings, when they met at the appointed hour; and so much was each under their influence, that a considerable embarras was evident in their manner, neither of them exceeding an awkward “how d'ye do this morning, Bridget?” or “good morning to you, mister Quintus.” After some moments had thus passed in looking at one another, like two grown up children, Quintus rallied himself and said, in a half-smothered tone, “I wish you were not half so pretty, or that I was a farmer's son for your sake.”

“La! why, Mr. Quintus, should you wish that? I'm sure, I wish I was a lady for your sake, and you were only a farmer's son; for I'm sure I shall never like any person but you.”

He now attempted to play the philosopher, and to act upon the result of his previous self-arguments, but all he could say, was only met by sobs and tears, and he found to his cost, how idle it is to form resolutions when we want fortitude to carry them into effect. All his reasoning fell to the ground, before the beautiful countenance, and the simple, engaging talk of Bridget; and yielding to the influence of her charms, he promised, and sealed the promise by the first impression on her ruby lips, that he would meet her again the next day at an agreed spot, half way between the two villages.

An intercourse of this nature, so commenced, and regularly carried on, could not long escape the vigilance of aunt Humphrey; who failed not to notice that each forenoon, her niece made some excuse for absence, and did not return for an hour or two; and she lost no time in acquainting her sister-in-law with the state of


  ― 72 ―
affairs. On the other hand, busy gossip was already assuming certain liberties with Quintus, and had early anticipated some of the probable consequences of his interviews with Bridget. The reports so circulated, at length reached Dr. Simpson, who at first paid little attention to them; but having afterwards remarked that his pupil was invariably away from home one certain time, that he always went and returned in the same direction, and that, his manner had lately undergone a material change, the worthy Doctor thought it a part of his duty to institute an enquiry into the circumstances; and as he always preferred direct, to indirect modes of attaining an object, he determined to speak to Quintus himself upon the subject. When seated therefore one evening, in his easy chair in his study, enjoying himself as was his wont, with a pipe and a cup of strong tea, he sent for him, and mildly said, “Quintus! what leads you so frequently to travel towards Overton?” The youth colored, but made no reply, when the Doctor continued, “I am afraid young man, you are contracting an intimacy, you will hereafter repent; now, my young friend, let me ask you a few questions, and at the same time, offer you a little advice, upon a subject that has proved a sunken rock to the hopes of many a parent.” The Doctor paused a little after this exordium, then motioned his pupil to take a chair, poured him out a cup of tea, and presently continued a train of catechising, by which he suceeded in extracting from him the real nature of his acquaintance with Bridget. He then went on to ask him, whether he thought his father would not be highly displeased at the connexion; pointed out in the most glowing colours the enormity of the offence of seducing female innocence; represented that, none but a selfish man, would, for the sake of a short temporary enjoyment, trifle with a woman's affections, when he knew there were impediments to their union; pursuing this style of conversation, in a tone the most soft and friendly, until he produced such an effect upon his youthful hearer, that unable to reply, he gave vent to his emotion by a flood of tears. The Doctor regarded Quintus with a degree of affection, if it may be so termed, that seldom falls to the lot of school boys to receive from their master; and viewed this display of feeling with much satisfaction, thinking it augured well of the impression he had made; but he had yet another point to carry, and was unwilling to lose the present opportunity. Taking him by the hand, he continued, “And now Quintus, I am going to try your fortitude; but remember, he who conquers himself, is ever the greatest conqueror. You must promise me upon your honor, that you will hold no farther intercourse or communication with Bridget Lademan, without my permission. If you think you cannot fulfil the promise, do not make it; because recollect, and


  ― 73 ―
keep well in view through life, that a promise is a sacred obligation; and that, he who disregards it, would disregard his oath; pause, therefore, ere you promise, but having promised I shall depend upon your entire good faith.”

Quintus did indeed pause, and hesitate, but at length said, in a very subdued voice, “May I see her once more Sir, before I make the promise?”

“What good can that do my young friend?” replied the Doctor. “Are we not told, if an eye offend us, we are to pluck it out? And how shall you act your part in the christian warfare that is before you, if you retreat from the enemy at the very first skirmish? Show me any good that can arise from another interview, and I will not object to it; but unless you do, I certainly shall not give my consent.”

“It is only to take leave of her,” said Quintus, as well as he could give utterance to his words, “and to tell her why it is.”

“And nothing father?” replied the Doctor, who fancied by his manner, there was a something yet behind.

He again hesitated and colored, but at length mumbled, “and to tell her I shall never love any body else, Sir.”

“Parcel of stuff and nonsense!” exclaimed the Doctor, “boys' and girls' love is like the impression of a man's foot on the sand; clear and plainly discernible while it lasts, but easily effaced. Mind me, my boy; no attachment can ever be permanent, unless it be sanctioned by judgment and discretion. You will prove this at some future period of your life, and will think of me; but it is a truth that is confirmed by the experience of all ages. However, Quintus, I do not wish to wound you unnecessarily. It is as much due to the other party in this ridiculous affair as to yourself, that the true cause of the separation be properly explained. I will therefore ride to Overton myself to-morrow, and talk to the girl upon the subject. In the mean time, I would rather receive your voluntary assurance as your friend, than exercise my authority as your master; but I must put a stop to the acquaintance. Make, therefore, no more hesitation, but let me have your promise.

“You have it Sir,” said Quintus, and immediately retiring to a recess formed by the window, was completely overcome by what he considered the sacrifice he had been called upon to make.

The Doctor kept his word, and had an interview with Bridget, but found more trouble in accomplishing his object, than he expected; but he possessed so much influence over his parishioners both old and young, by his happy mixture of religion with a friendly interest in all their affairs and innocent amusements, was so uniformly mild and amiable, and so much beloved, that at length he succeeded, although not so unconditionally as with Quintus; for Bridget


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insisted that the interdiction should not extend beyond a month, when she expressed her firm resolve to return to Rundleton; and although she did not venture to say so, she hoped much from Quintus's constancy.

Quintus strictly kept his engagement, and in the same manner as formerly, when labouring under similar disquietude applied himself with redoubled assiduity to his books. His promise prevented him from writing to his inamorata, but he pleased himself with considering, that he might write of her; and he accordingly invoked the muses on her behalf,

Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow;

but they were inexorable, and after much blotting, interlining, and altering, nothing could be produced, expressive of his feelings.

In this manner day and day glided on, and by degrees, he found that he had less and less time to think of the interdiction by which he was kept from the neighbourhood of Overton. Dr. Simpson had been well pleased to observe his conduct; for, although unknown to himself, he was closely observed, and any breach of good faith would have been immediately discovered. But the Doctor was aware what such young lovers were; he knew it was in vain to expect too much from them; and prudently resolving not to let them be exposed to temptation beyond their power to resist, he wrote to Mr. Servinton in flattering terms of his son, but intimating that he thought the sooner he was now fixed in whatever course of life was intended for him, the better it would be for his future prospects. To this letter, a reply was made, that in six weeks Quintus might be sent home; this period being named on account of a situation that would then be at Mr. Servinton's command, in a large mercantile house in London, and which presented advantages of no common nature, towards attaining the object he had in view for his son.

Dr. Simpson regretted this delay, as he feared the consequences of the girl's return to Rundleton, and really felt a friendly anxiety for both parties. He was unwilling to abridge Quintus's indulgences, or to show a mistrust of him; and he therefore endeavoured to contrive some plan, by which his several objects might be attained. The will, is oft the readiest way; and so, after a short deliberation he now proved; indeed, through life, our inclination is much more frequently the guide and rule of our actions, than we are sometimes willing to admit.




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Chapter VIII

“Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie
Which we ascribe to Heaven.”

SHAKSPEARE

Mrs. Simpson at this time, had been for some months in a very delicate state of health; and it was hoped that the residence of a few weeks among her relations in the beautiful vale of Llangollen, by affording change of air and scene, might be of service towards promoting her convalescence. Notwithstanding her peculiarities of temper, the Doctor was much attached to her, preferring to let his memory dwell upon what she had been, when they first became acquainted, and to regard her accordingly, rather than suffer his affections to be influenced by the tendency to the shrew, she had latterly evinced. She was some years his junior, and in early life, had been rather admired; nor was it, till she had put on the yoke of nominal submission, that any of her conduct could have induced the suspicion of her true character; since, to a form, attractive rather than otherwise, she had united, the appearance of an amiable, obliging temper, quiet manners, and a good understanding. But she interpreted wedlock very differently to father Paul, whom she used to say, knew nothing about it, as he was not a married man; and within a year or two of her change of condition, she permitted herself to be the slave of temper, making her own life miserable, and nearly destroying the peace of one, whom she had vowed to love and honor. Still, his fondness was nowise diminished, and he was ever anxious to take any steps likely to promote her happiness.

Two objects at heart, such as his wife's health, and a removal of his pupil from scenes of temptation, gave rise to the idea of sending them both, for a fortnight or three weeks to Llangollen; and no sooner was it determined upon, than all arrangements connected with it, were so far perfected, that the Doctor's favourite cropped mare was brought the next morning to the door, bearing the pillion, when Quintus had the honor of acting esquire to the lady, commencing the journey sufficiently early to enable it to be easily completed in the day, and yet allowing abundant opportunities of admiring the magnificent hill and dale scenery through which they had to travel.

The first few miles were accomplished slowly, and in silence; but as they were leisurely ascending a steep hill, from whose summit,


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a very beautiful prospect awaited them, commanding at its extremity part of the rich and fertile vale of Clwd, and bounded on the left by lofty mountains, Mrs. Simpson broke it by saying, “I suppose master Servinton, we shall now soon lose you.”

“I believe ma'am, in about two or three months.”

“How old are you, Quintus?” was the next enquiry.

“Seventeen, last birth-day, ma'am.”

Nothing more passed for some little time, when the lady resumed by saying, “How often have I wished I had such children, as you and your sister; your parents seem very fond of you.”

“They have always been very kind to me, ma'am.”

“And so they ought; how many brothers and sisters have you? I think you are one of a large family.”

“At one time, ma'am, I had nine sisters and eight brothers, but four have died, and there are now but fourteen of us.”

“Gracious Heavens?” exclaimed the lady, “what a happy woman your mother must be; but, how unequal are Heaven's gifts! I have no child — and there is your mother you say, with fourteen!”

Quintus knew not how to reply; nor was it immediately necessary, for she continued, after a moment's pause, “Do you remember, Quintus, the day that your father and mother dined with us, when an unpleasant occurrence took place?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“I have suffered severely for the infirmity of temper shown upon that as well as many other occasions, which I fear you have witnessed. You know I never interfere with any thing connected with the scholars, but you are about to begin life, and as you have been with us so long, I almost look upon you as a relation. I wish therefore, to give you some advice, founded upon my own experience. Are you attending to me?”

“Yes, ma'am,” and in this reply, he spoke literally true, for his attention could scarcely have been more rivetted, had a mummy been addressing him. Mrs. Simpson then resumed; “It was my misfortune, to be a spoilt child, and to be left from my infancy, almost wholly to the care of servants; my temper was naturally quick and irritable, and I had only to show it, and to succeed in obtaining whatever I desired. This increased with my years, and a weed, that might once have been easily eradicated, became in time so deeply rooted, as to grow into a tree, and I fear has overshadowed better plants; for we all, have certain good qualities from nature, if we do not let them be obscured by our evil ones. Until I was married, I was never contradicted or opposed in my life. It was my wish to be a mother; when therefore I found this hope disappointed, and besides discovered that in numberless little daily occurrences,


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the first that had ever thwarted my will, was my husband, what perhaps was at first only pettishness, assumed a new form, and has produced effects, which you have seen to my disgrace and sorrow; and of which none afterwards can be more heartily ashamed than myself. You have seen the Doctor's manner on these occasions. He has never said an unkind word to me in his life; but that calm gravity he puts on, is infinitely more cutting, than if he exhibited equal ill temper with myself. That unfortunate day, when your family dined with us, has I hope and trust, wrought a cure; at least in part, for I do not think you have ever seen any thing of the same kind since.”

Here she stopped for a moment, as if waiting a reply; and Quintus having presently answered in the negative, she continued. “The mortfication I felt, to think I had so exposed myself, led me to determine to conquer my infirmity. On that day, the apparently happy countenances of your family aggravated the keenness of my sorrow at being childless. I had scarcely recovered from the effects of some little untoward domestic occurrences of the forenoon; my mind was in an irritable state, and when this is the case, a mere spark will oft produce an explosion. The Doctor's contemptuous silence brought all to a climax; but perhaps any less flagrant occurrence would have been ineffectual, towards producing in my breast, a full conviction of my folly. Now, Quintus, I have had two objects in thus conversing with you. One is, that you may make my apologies to your mother for my behaviour, and which perhaps you can best do, by repeating as nearly as you can, what I have said. As a woman, she can enter into, and perhaps forgive a woman's feelings. The other, that you may derive a lesson from my example, and check ill-temper and every other improper feature of the mind, at its very threshold or entrance. I think I have now and then seen an inclination to pettishness in you. If this be not corrected while you are young, I fear you will find it difficult hereafter. However, I do not mean to preach to you, but, for my sake, as a friend who wishes you well, whenever you feel a disposition to indulge in peevishness, think of me and tremble.”

Quintus listened with the utmost attention; and it is not saying too much, to add, that for years afterwards, what she had said made a deep impression upon his mind. He now felt differently towards Mrs. Simpson to what he had ever before done. Formerly, she had been an object with him, as with many others, of contempt and ridicule; now, he viewed her with pity, mingled with a certain degree of esteem. He remembered the Doctor's words about a self-conqueror; and, thought he, “I here see an endeavour towards its practical illustration.”




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While thus musing, and occasionally interchanging a few words upon general subjects, they approached the site of the celebrated aqueduct across the Dee, connecting the two sides of the vale of Llangollen, and following the road along the river, were not long until they entered the village. The beauties of this romantic spot are too well known to need description. They were different to any thing Quintus had ever witnessed; nor were any of their charms lost upon him. The house they were approaching, was a comfortable, middle-sized, well-furnished mansion, and lay a short distance from the town, or village, in the centre of a sort of amphitheatre, formed by gently sloping hills, rising on each side of an area of perhaps two furlongs in diameter, and mounting by progressive steps or elevations, until the summits of those most remote, were entirely obscured by the clouds. The space immediately around the house, was in the highest state of cultivation; and on its margin, exactly at the foot of the hills forming its sides, was a neat paling, with one or two wickets, serving as entrances to the woods with which the hills were studded, and which were interspersed in all directions with walks, and every here and there a rustic seat, clinging to which, were wild honeysuckles and other flowering shrubs, forming delightful retreats and never-ending rambles.

The travellers received a most hearty welcome; nor was it without infinite pleasure, that Quintus found upon entering the parlor, that he was likely to have some companions of nearly his own age in his meditated strolls around the neighbourhood, there being two young ladies and three youths, varying from twelve to twenty, seated around the tea-table, and who, with their parents, constituted the whole of the family.

Here, a fortnight glided away with unspeakable rapidity; and in the course of it, accompanied by one or other of the young people, he had scoured the whole of the country within twenty miles around. Among other places, Vale-crucis Abbey obtained his particular notice; connecting in his mind, as he endeavoured to make out the use or purpose of its ruined apartments, the many precepts he had received from Dr. Simpson, whereby too great an attachment to the pomps and vanities of this world, had been denounced as fleeting and uncertain, and therefore unworthy our regard. He had been brought up from infancy in a proper observance of religious duties; it had been one of the chief points whereon his mother had ever laid great stress; and at Dr. Simpson's, the utmost attention had been uniformly paid to the same subject. An abridgement of the Liturgy was read in the school-room, morning and evening; and the Sabbath was always especially honored, being strictly kept according to the custom of all good Christians, in the


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manner prescribed by divine command. With somewhat therefore of a feeling approaching awe or solemnity, did he contemplate the dilapidated walls of a place in which the Almighty had formerly been worshipped, with all the pomp and splendour of a superstitious age; but where perhaps, if the tales that are told of some of the good Father Abbots of olden time may be depended upon, much fasting, abstinence, and humiliation of the spirit had been preached, and still more feasting, intemperance, and enjoyment of sensual pleasures practised. Well, thought he, as he paced up and down these ruins, may it be said — “Sic transit gloria mundi.”

The originally proposed period of their visit having now expired, the return to Rundleton was fixed for the succeeding Monday; but, an invitation to remain some time longer, was urged in so friendly a manner, that it was accepted, and ere its termination Quintus began to acknowledge a little of the truth he at first thought impossible, with respect to Dr. Simpson's doctrine as to boy's love; for Bridget was not so present to his mind as she had been, and he seemed to find in the eldest of the young ladies, with whom he had been associating, many charms that he had not at first discovered; and more than once it occurred to him, “though she may not be so pretty as Bridget, she is much more agreeable.” But no time was allowed for this incipient feeling to make much progress; for his already sensitive heart could scarcely well understand its emotions, when Mrs. Simpson named the day of departure, and they took leave of their hospitable friends, certainly so far as he was concerned, with very considerable regret. The time fixed by his father for his leaving school had now arrived; and his kind and good friend Dr. Simpson, well pleased at the turn given to his thoughts by his recent excursion, was unwilling to run the chance of all his efforts proving nugatory, by his being again thrown in the way of temptation, and therefore determined that he should not stay at Rundleton longer than was required for his few trifling preparations. Accordingly he sent for him, soon after his arrival, and concluded a long harangue by bidding him get ready for proceeding to D ——— early the next morning.

He did not receive this intelligence as many boys would, under similar circumstances. He was not by any means restlessly disposed, and could easily adapt himself to circumstances according as they arose. The kind treatment he had experienced, and the liberty he had enjoyed, had rendered the place and his associates so familiar to him, that he did not picture to himself much improvement, so far as agreeables were concerned, by changing the scene to the counting-house. The time spent at Liverpool had not given him half so much pleasure as one of the days occupied in rambling


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through the woods and mountain scenery at Llangollen; and London, with all its deserved fame, did not to his fancy appear so attractive, as might have been expected. After hearing all his master had to say, and receiving full instructions as to his journey, being told how much he was to give the guard or coachman at such and such a stage, and what to pay for every meal, he ventured to enquire, with some hesitation, “May I go and take leave of the Lademans, Sir?” The Doctor stared at him, and replied, “Leave-taking, Quintus, is at all times a very unnecessary infliction of pain upon both parties — it is perfectly useless, and, as upon general principles I disapprove of it, and never torture myself or others by its practice when it can be avoided, I cannot, with any consistency, depart from my general rule in your case. I think, however, as the family have been friendly to you, you may write a few lines of civility, either to the farmer or his wife, and I will take care they shall be delivered.”

Quintus knew the Doctor too well, to attempt to argue. Retiring therefore, and making his preparatory arrangements, the extent of which however, was confined to distributing some trifling legacies among his schoolfellows, and writing to dame Lademan, nothing remained when bed-time arrived, but to receive the Doctor's parting benediction, and which, notwithstanding his disapproval of leave-taking, was most kindly bestowed. By five o'clock the following morning, a servant was in attendance to accompany him to Shrewsbury, where he commenced his journey; and at the end of three days and two nights, was once more quietly seated at his father's fire-side, having been absent from it, rather more than five years.

He had now attained his full stature, but having spent the last few years entirely in the country, with few opportunities of mingling with good society, had acquired a certain style of manners, which, although very passable at Rundleton, were scarcely suitable to his new sphere of life; nor were they much admired by his mother or sisters. In full council therefore it was determined that, the sooner he repaired to the great metropolis, the more likely it was that the rust would be removed; for, by introducing him among well-bred strangers, it was thought he would naturally notice, and imitate their habits, and deportment, and thus derive improvement, more readily than by home-drilling; for youth, is oft a wayward animal, and may be more easily led than driven.

Under this idea, no sooner had the tailor and other persons of equal importance, contributed their part towards giving him the first polish, than once more he bade adieu to home, and his place having been taken in one of the London coaches, he embarked upon the great and busy world, where new and anxious scenes awaited him, little anticipated either by himself or others.




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His travelling companions consisted of a gentleman of about the middle age; an elderly female, belonging to the Society of Friends, with her daughter, a plain young woman of perhaps five and twenty, and a person, whose dress and general deportment, easily marked him as an experienced traveller. He was exceedingly talkative, and his accent betrayed, that his birth, parentage, and education, had been north of the Tweed. Addressing the gentleman, who chanced to sit opposite to him, he said. — “It's a vara raw avening, Sir.”

“Yes,” replied the other.

“Ye'll likely be a stranger to these parts,” said the Scotsman.

“Yes,” was again the reply.

“May be, like mysel, ye're for the greet city.”

“Yes.”

“Perhaps also like mysel, ye'll aleight at the Saracen's Head.”

“No.”

“Ye'll just excuse me, Sir, da yer friens live in London?”

“No.”

“It sair grieves me to see a fallow traveller sae malancholy; perhaps, Sir, ye're out of spirits at leaving yer gude dame or childer.”

“No.”

“You'll pardon me, Sir, but perhaps ye ha na gotten a wife.”

“Yes — no — Sir,” with some sternness.

“I am vara sorry, Sir, for may be I have touched a sair place, yer sable garments say but too clearly that yer wife's na mair; weel! weel! Sir, God's will maun be dune, and maun be submitted to.”

“No, Sir, no; I am neither a married man, nor a widower. — Now, Sir, I beg you will trouble me with no more questions.”

The Scotsman was slightly abashed, and preserved for a short time, a moody silence; but, to remain long without talking was impossible. He presently attacked the young Quaker with many enquiries, to which her mother at length put a stop by saying, “I'll thank thee, friend, not to fash thyself about what doesn't concern thee. We neither seek to know any thing of thee nor thine, or to acquaint thee with what doesn't concern thee to know.”

The inquisitive man had now no other object than Quintus to whom to direct his attention. He addressed him therefore much in the same style as the others. Communicativeness had always been a foible with our young traveller, and it was a point upon which he had received several hints from his preceptors; but they were now so far forgotten, or at least unheeded, that the Scotsman found little difficulty in extracting, not only who and what he was, whence he came, and whither going, but every thing else relating either to himself or his family, that he wished to learn.




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When they alighted for refreshment, towards the close of the day, the Gentleman took Quintus aside, and said, “I see you are a very young traveller; now take a word of advice from an old one. I observed, with some regret, that this prating jackanapes has drawn from you information, which had perhaps, in his case, no other object than to gratify a most impertinent curiosity; but, in some instances, intelligence so acquired, might be followed by disagreeable consequences. Make it a rule through life, and particularly among strangers, to acquire as much knowledge as you are able, but to communicate no more than is necessary. Let audi, vide, tace, be your motto.”

Quintus thanked him, and promised to attend to his advice, when he continued, “Now, I dare say, this inquisitive fellow comes much too far north to talk of his own affairs, with all his prying into other people's; but, by and by, we'll try him.” In pursuance of this intention, soon after the party were again seated in the coach, the gentleman began a conversation, by saying to the Scotsman, “You were enquiring, Sir, if I am a stranger in these parts; I presume you are well acquainted with them.”

“Pratty weel, Sir,” was the reply, immediately adding, “de ye ken how far it now is to London?”

The gentleman answered, that he did not, giving Quintus at the same moment a significant glance; and continuing, “Are you travelling on business or pleasure, Sir, may I enquire?”

“My business and pleasure, Sir, always gang hand-in-hand thigether.”

“Do you reside in London, Sir?”

“My residence whailly depends upon whare my pleasure or business tak me, Sir.”

“I presume, Sir, you are married?”

“Eh, Sir? and, forbye, you conceit right.”

“Have you any family?”

“Hout tout, ma' frien', what forbye, I have na wife; how should I have the bairns?”

The gentleman's purpose having been sufficiently attained, the subject presently dropped, and little else deserving notice occurred, until the rattle of the wheels over the stones, the blowing of horns, the continual stoppages and interruptions, and the long ranges of buildings, announced their entrance into London; and they proceeded at a slow rate, until the carriage finally stopped at an inn in the centre of the city where a person was in waiting, to conduct our traveller to his new residence.




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Chapter IX

“These are the ways to thrive,
And yet, the means not cursed.”

BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER

The person to whose care Quintus was now entrusted, for the purpose of acquiring a knowledge of business, had an extensive manufactory in the eastern part of the City, but resided at Clapham, a village well known to be within a few miles of town. He had no partner — was between thirty and forty, and had acquired the reputation of being one of the very best of men of business upon Change. In manners, habits and education, he was a gentleman; and so highly was he esteemed as a merchant, that handsome premiums were frequently paid him by the friends of young men, for the benefit of placing them under so eminent a master. All the clerks thus belonging to his establishment, lodged and boarded in a house, immediately adjoining the manufactory, and were under the charge or control of an elderly person, who acted partly in the capacity of steward, and partly of guardian or monitor, thus preserving a check over the youthful spirits, by whom he was surrounded.

At this period, there were ten clerks senior to Quintus, who became of course the fag for the time being, and had to put up with many disagreeables in which others had preceded him, according to the common lot of all youngsters, who ever hope to become men of business. Nevertheless, he was not at first the more reconciled to them on this account, but the contrast between being the junior of a London counting-house, and the head of two hundred school boys at Rundleton, with all its accompanying delights, was too striking, not to create a considerable, and for some time, an unfavourable impression upon his mind. Being however, naturally quick at acquiring information, no sooner was he some little reconciled to the change, than his ruling spirit of emulation began to exercise its sway, and he studied the character of his master, so as to conform to it, as much as possible. He early saw that, regularity was every thing with him; and that promptness and dispatch, were equally indispensable, towards obtaining his good opinion; and he failed not to observe with some pleasure, among his brother clerks, more than one, who regarded their occupations in the light of tasks, and who consequently cared little as to their own


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improvement. Acting under the impulse of knowledge so acquired, he applied himself with diligence to whatever he was desired to perform, hoping first to equal, and afterwards excel, several who at present stood above him in point of rank. By dint of this systematic line of conduct, he attracted the particular notice of Mr. Thoroughgood, and it was not long, before an opportunity for his promotion was presented by the removal of one of the senior clerks, when he was raised over two or three others, and having thus mastered some of the drudgery, continued to creep on, until he acquired a perfect knowledge of every part of the business, and became eminently useful to his employer.

All this time, he had but few opportunities of improving his manners, by an intercourse with good society, as he went but little abroad, and those with whom he chiefly associated, although the sons of opulent tradesmen, not being of a class to adapt a young man to shine to advantage in a drawing-room. Accomplishments had formed but little of the routine at Rundleton; and when Quintus, at nearly eighteen years old, went to London, although he was tolerably read in the classics, was master of French, and well acquainted with several branches of English literature, still, he stood in need of many of the essentials of a gentleman's education.

Among his family connexions, resident in town, were some of high rank and influence; his mother being nearly related to the Earl of Montrevers, and between whom and his parents an intimacy had always been maintained. Independently too of this Nobleman, there were some, scarcely his inferiors, with whom his family either claimed affinity, or were upon most friendly terms; and a year or two previously, when there had been some discussion how to settle Quintus in life, a gentleman, who was then one of the Ministry of the day, had made an offer of his interest to procure him a situation in one of the public offices. In the number of his London relatives, also, was his mother's sister, a Mrs. Campbell, the relict of a first-rate merchant, who resided in an old fashioned part of the City, and who had promised Mrs. Servinton that she would pay such attentions to her nephew as were due to ties of so close a nature. But Quintus had conceived such an idea of his rusticity, that notwithstanding his aunt moved in a visiting circle well calculated to improve the breeding of a young person, and that she shewed every disposition to notice him with cordiality and kindness, it was only by degrees that his repugnance to be drawn forward could be overcome, or that he could conquer his dislike to encounter the jokes that he fancied would be made at his expense, as the country cousin of elegant young men and women; but as he grew older he


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grew wiser, and in time learnt, that a modest unobtrusive youth has never any thing to fear from good-natured people.

The two first years of his residence in town were now expired. By closely watching the style, deportment, and general behaviour of his cousins, and other young men of fashion, he had lost much of his country manners, and being endowed with natural cheerfulness and good humour, soon found little difficulty in making his way wherever he was invited; nor was he at all less at ease with himself with respect to his progress in business; for ere he had reached his twentieth year, he received daily proofs that he stood high in Mr. Thoroughgood's favor. For some months he had been treated by him, with unlimited confidence, and as he contemplated his majority, which was now not far distant, his ambition whispered to him, that more improbable events had often come to pass, than that, in the course of another year or two, his name might be added to Mr. Thoroughgood's; and he frequently amused himself with trying in what manner, most to his fancy, “Thoroughgood and Servinton” should be written; but so little do we know what a day, or even an hour brings forth, that at the very moment when he was thus building castles in the air, an incident was hovering over his destiny, of a nature quickly to dispel all his fairy dreams — to arouse all the energy of his character — and to leave him little time for thinking either of himself, or of his future prospects.

Mr. Thoroughgood was naturally of a delicate constitution, and his close application to business had so materially impaired his health, that latterly its effects had been very apparent, and a day or two's absence from town had been frequent. One dark wet evening, towards the end of November, just as Quintus had despatched all the post letters, and was preparing to accompany his cousins to a city ball, one of Mr. Thoroughgood's servants arrived in great haste from the country, with a note from his mistress, requesting Quintus's immediate attendance at Clapham, her husband having been seized by a sudden and alarming illness. The summons was promptly obeyed, and upon reaching the house, Mrs. Thoroughgood acquainted him, as composedly as her sorrow would allow her, that her excellent husband, Quintus's sincere and kind friend, had had two paralytic seizures, one of which had affected his right side, and the other appeared to have settled on the brain, producing a lamentable aberration of intellect — the one had followed the other in rapid succession.

Mrs. Thoroughgood was in every respect worthy of the good and virtuous man, whose affliction she now deplored. They had been many years married — had lived together in the most uninterrupted


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harmony — their happiness being strengthened by the birth of seven children, all of whom were living; and, as their future provision wholly depended upon the business, the immense ramifications of which, must inevitably suffer from their being no person, to whom its management could be confided, anxiety upon so material a point, could not be otherwise than a natural feeling, under her present trying circumstances; and it was this that had partly induced her to send for Quintus. Although so young, she knew that her husband placed the highest confidence, both in his integrity and ability. She was aware, that he was entrusted with all his secrets — that he had authority to sign bills and other documents in his name, whenever he was absent; and if perhaps, her fears might suggest some slight alarm, as to the rocks that she knew must lie in the way of so young a pilot, and from which, her husband's experience might have guarded him, she had no alternative but to trust to hope, and to that Providence, which is ever ready to protect its own.

When she had communicated her melancholy tidings, she added, “What can you do for us? for Heaven's sake, think of that dear, good man, who has done so much for you.”

“I think of him ma'am, much more than I can express, but we must also think of yourself and the family; for I am afraid the business will suffer, do all I can; however, if you will allow me, I will go and consult your father to-night, and will do whatever he recommends.”

In the hurry and alarm of the moment, this excellent woman had not thought of sending to any person excepting Quintus, and for medical advice. She was now in some measure relieved, by his idea of consulting her father, who, being a City banker, and a man of great experience, was well qualified to give advice. “You cannot do a better thing,” she replied; “I wonder I did not think of it myself; but do go to him directly, and do not undertake any thing of difficulty without speaking to him. Tell him, will you, that I am not able to write, but I will send to him in the morning; and mind that you let me see you every evening. Possibly, that dear man may sufficiently recover in a day or two, to see you; therefore pray don't miss coming every evening.”

Quintus assured her, that her wishes should be implicitly obeyed, and returned to town, full of reflection upon what had occurred.

He was indeed placed in no enviable situation for a young man, who, having as it were, never exceeded the limits of a fresh water lake in a small fishing boat, now found himself all at once in the open sea, in charge of a large vessel. Although he might know the particular use of every sail, or the purpose of every rope, the precise moment when such or such of the one was to be furled, or the other


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made fast, or how the rudder was to be directed, had hitherto wholly depended upon a man of great experience and judgment — upon one, who had acquired a high reputation for a happy mixture of prudence, with a strong spirit of enterprise.

The annual returns of Mr. Thoroughgood's establishment, were about three hundred thousand pounds, and at this moment, his coming engagements were little short of one hundred thousand. Quintus weighed with anxiety all the difficulties, which he knew awaited him, but was not appalled. On the contrary, his self-sufficiency, a feature of the mind that had certainly not been diminished by the events of the last two years, rather inclined him to feel elated, at the marks of confidence and approbation he had received, and to determine him, as he felt was in his power, to merit them by his conduct.

The news of Mr. Thoroughgood's illness, flew rapidly amongst his mercantile connexions, and some who had treated him with the most unbounded confidence in their dealings, now became alarmed, lest, should his affairs fall into the hands of executors, their convenience by delay, to say the least, might be affected.

Among other claimants, was the house of Rothero and Co., eminent West India merchants. In the course of their mutual transactions, although many months previously, a difference had arisen, connected with the sale of certain merchandise, which perhaps with some, might have ended in a law-suit; but in this case each knew the value of the other too well, to render such a course probable; and the sum in question, which scarcely exceeded fifty pounds, thus remained unsettled, Messrs. Rothero and Co., constantly including it in the accounts they rendered, and Mr. Thoroughgood as constantly refusing to acknowledge it. At present, independently of this nominal balance, Mr. Thoroughgood was indebted to them, in a sum of twelve hundred pounds and upwards, upon an open account, besides as many thousands, for which bills had been given; and looking at the magnitude of this sum, it is not surprising that Mr. Rothero should have been in the number of those, who felt anxious as to the state of his health. One of the first persons therefore, with whom Quintus had to enter upon his new duties, was a messenger from this gentleman, who called to enquire, to whom he was to apply for the balance then due?

“To me, Sir,” Quintus replied with some importance. “I will call upon Mr. Rothero this morning.” The clerk repeated his enquiry whether the money would be paid at that time; to which he was answered it would depend upon circumstances, and that Quintus would see Mr. Rothero himself, before he could determine. In the course of an hour or two, he made the promised call, and was


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immediately shown into a private room with every mark of respect and attention. His appearance was younger even, than his years warranted; — he was personally unknown to Mr. Rothero, and it was evident from that gentleman's manner, when he entered the room, that he had expected a very different visitor, to such as now stood before him. Quintus however, feeling his own consequence, was not easily abashed, and lost little time in making him acquainted with the nature of his errand, repeating more than once, with a very significant emphasis, that he was prepared to pay what was due by Mr. Thoroughgood.

Mr. Rothero, seemingly not a little pleased, now desired one of his clerks to let him know the balance of Mr. Thoroughgood's account, which was done on a neatly ruled sheet of paper, brought down as twelve hundred and eighty-eight pounds seventeen shillings and six-pence, and which Mr. Rothero pointed out to Quintus. Hitherto, he had confined himself to saying, that he had called to settle the account; he now drew a paper from his pocket, and very quietly observed, “It is not so much Sir, in our books, by fifty-two pounds four shillings and eight-pence.”

“I am aware there is some difference,” replied Mr. Rothero, “but Mr Thoroughgood knows we cannot allow it — and it has been agreed to stand over.”

“He is now so ill,” replied Quintus, “that any hopes of his recovery, are very slight. I can pay what is due to you, according to his books, but this difference must first be settled, otherwise the account will altogether remain open.”

“How do you propose to pay it?” said Mr. Rothero.

“By drawing on the bankers,” answered Quintus, “they have long had orders to honor my checks.”

Mr. Rothero now began to weigh the chances, implied by these expressions. He was a prudent man, well knowing that “quicquicd possim malo auferre in præsentiá,” and yet unwilling to concede, he endeavoured to meet half-way, by offering to divide the difference. But, in this he was unsuccessful, and at length yielded, receiving a check for the money, and giving Quintus a satisfactory acquittance.

“Great ends do sometimes flow from small beginnings,” is said by an old writer, and so it proved in this instance, which otherwise perhaps, would not have found a place in this history; but the result of that morning's interview, was attended by results many years afterwards, little anticipated at the moment, either by Mr. Rothero or Quintus.

From this time till Mr. Thoroughgood's decease, a period of several months, Quintus was unremitting in attending to his several and important duties, and although it would be too much to say that,


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his youth and inexperience did not sometimes mislead him, he acquitted himself under all circumstances in such a manner, as to obtain the good opinion and confidence of all Mr. Thoroughgood's connexions; and no sooner was the concern closed, than proposals were made him by several tradesmen, that were in many respects, most flattering.

But it was the opinion of his relations, that he was yet too young to embark upon the wide and busy field of the world, without a farther knowledge of its shoals and quicksands, and it was therefore determined that he should seek other employment for a year or two, and meanwhile extend his store of general information. Hitherto, he had been literally and truly almost a slave to business, abstaining from all places of public amusement, and mixing only with a limited circle of private acquaintance. Once or twice it is true, he had figured away at a City Ball, and had visited each of the great Theatres, but beyond this slight acquaintance with the gaieties of the metropolis he absolutely knew nothing whatever of the beau monde. The leisure he now found at his disposal having however presented an opportunity of a different course, instead of avoiding, he sought every means of becoming known to persons of distinction, and thus commencing, it was not long until he had completely changed the scene, becoming a guest in Portman-square at Lord Montrevor's, and forming several desirable intimacies with other families. At first, he derived little pleasure from the new sphere thus opened to him; indeed, his first visit of ceremony was scarcely paid in Portman-square, ere he half determined to retire again among the set with whom he had usually mixed, and where he felt much more at home. He could not avoid observing a wide difference between courtly and city manners, which abashed him, from a consciousness of his own deficiencies; but again on the other hand, so many advantages were pointed out to him as following in the train of a high-bred acquaintance, that he was encouraged to persevere, and in the end to conquer his disinclination to cultivate that sort of society.

Among other very agreeable and estimable families for a young man of his age to visit, was that of an eminent Barrister residing in Harley-street, of the name of Chambers, and with whom he spent much of the idle time, that had succeeded his former bustle and activity. Although he had taken to business, perhaps better than his father's most sanguine hopes could have anticipated, he was unwilling to renew his connexion with trade, in any concern that could be considered short of the top of the tree, in point of respectability; and being thus fastidious, he was not immediately successful in hearing of employment that suited him. The family in


  ― 90 ―
Harley-street, consisted of a son of nearly his own age, and two daughters; one, a year or two older, and the other, as much younger than himself. They were well educated young women, brought up under the careful eye of a very superior mother, who watched over them with great solicitude, and led quite a domestic life, confining her round of visiting, to those only whom she esteemed. The two girls afforded one instance among many, that however attractive may be the power of beauty, plain features, when the index of an amiable heart, and a well cultivated mind, oftentimes make a greater impression, and create more admirers, than the most perfectly formed face, aided by all the adventitious circumstances of rank and fashion. Neither of them had the slightest pretensions to beauty, but they were unaffected, sensible, and accomplished. Imperceptibly, Quintus found their society to afford him a peculiar pleasure, unknown with other young ladies of his acquaintance, but he scarcely knew which of the two he preferred, although if any thing, he thought the eldest, the most lively and agreeable; nor was it, till some little time afterwards, that accident made him acquainted with the power of her influence, or told him the real nature of the charm that binds us to female society.

In the course of the few months thus spent, Quintus visited in turn, all places of public spectacle, and in one way or other saw a good deal of fashionable life. Although he had scarcely been able at the outset, to summon courage to leave his card at Lord Montrevor's, no sooner had he done so, than it was followed by an invitation, couched in the most friendly terms, to dine in Portman-square the next day, and although fully sensible that the visit would be made in fear and trembling, he determined to accept it. When he approached the house at the dinner hour, this sort of apprehension had by no means subsided. He did not know how he might be received. He might be treated with a studied formality, which would be sure to make him consider himself an intruder; or he might expose his slight acquaintance with the manners of high life, and thus draw upon himself the observation of a party, perhaps nearly, if not entirely composed of titled strangers. These alarms, thus having their seat in his bosom, made him almost wish he had still preserved his retirement; but then again he tried to still his uneasiness by the reflection, that the thorough good breeding he was certain to meet with, never allows a stranger to feel his inferiority; and again he considered that, although he had not crossed the threshold of Nobility, he had visited at the houses of distinguished senators, church-dignitaries, and members of the learned professions, where he had experienced little difficulty in conducting himself free from embarras, chiefly by the simple rule of following rather


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than leading. Thus arming himself, he advanced to the door, determined to act precisely as he would in any other society; and although it cannot be said, but that his nerves were still a little shaken, he applied his hand to the knocker with all due emphasis, and was presently introduced through a host of serving-men, with splendid liveries, to the presence of the Earl, who meeting him at the drawing-room door, shook him warmly by the hand, and led him to the Countess, by whom he was also greeted with great affability and kindness. The Earl was a fine, venerable looking personage, of between seventy and eighty, but exhibiting all the appearance of a much younger man. Besides the family, there were assembled several visitors; and if, previously to entering the house, Quintus had not been free from bashful apprehension, it was not a feeling likely to be diminished, when he discovered, as he presently did, that he was almost the only commoner in the room. But he was not permitted long to remain uneasy; for all the company took their tone from their noble host, who, as well as his lady, conversed with him in a pointed manner, and spoke of him to others, as the son of a near family connexion. His visit therefore, proved extremely agreeable: and when he rose to take leave, the few parting words of the Countess, effectually completed the removal of any uneasiness, that could by possibility still have lurked within him.

Offering him her hand at parting, she said, “Has our young Cousin been to the Opera lately?” and not allowing him time to reply continued, “We are going on Saturday to see the new ballet, which you know is everywhere talked of. If you will come and dine with us, you can take a place in our box. One may as well be out of the world you know, as unable to speak critically upon so important a subject as the Opera. Shall we expect you?” He was too much gratified as well as flattered by the invitation, to make its acceptance doubtful, and left the house in full admiration of the soft and polished manners, that he had altogether witnessed.

It was on the occasion of this second visit, that the nature of his sentiments towards Miss Chambers was disclosed to his knowledge, convincing him that, beauty is not an indispensable instrument, in the hands of the wayward God.

Lady Montrevors had led the way to her box, in one of the best situations of the house, and Quintus, who sat next her, was intently admiring the splendid scene around him, composed as it was, of much that was noble, dignified, and beautiful, and was again at times, listening with profound attention to the exquisite performance of one of Mozart's most celebrated overtures, when, looking towards one particular corner of the house, he recognised his Harley-street friends, and observed a gentleman, whom he had


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never before seen, engaged in earnest, and apparently most intimate conversation with the eldest daughter Amelia. Unlike her usual custom too, for she was so great an admirer of music, that more than once she had enjoined silence of Quintus, when, at the theatre or concerts, during some dull, ill-performed piece, he had endeavoured to lead her into a half-whisper conversation, she now seemed wholly wrapt up in what her companion was saying; replying to his animated expressions, rather by the eloquence of the eye than by speech, yet evidently deeply interested in the subject. In one moment, a novel sensation laid hold on Quintus, as though he had been pierced by an arrow. The delightful music, and excellent acting that a few minutes before, had so delighted him, sunk powerless under the withering influence of what he felt; and although the sight was painful, he found it impossible to remove his fixed and steady gaze from Amelia Chambers, even for a single moment. Fortunately, he contrived to escape the notice of any of his party, otherwise, had they observed him, his countenance sufficiently expressed his disquietude; but he was not a little glad when the fall of the curtain put an end to his misery, and left him at liberty to retire to his lodgings, there to brood over his discovery in solitude and silence.

When he afterwards came to reflect on the incident in those hours, which are often our best counsellors, the more he thought of it, the more was he unable to define why he should have been pained to witness attentions paid Amelia Chambers, rather than to any other person. He had never viewed her in any light, beyond that of being a sensible, agreeable acquaintance — he was not in a situation to think of her, or of any other young lady, in the way of marriage — he was dependant — doubly dependant — for he had little but his own exertions whereon to depend, and at present, he had no opportunity of applying even these; but, spite of all this, the plain fact could not be disguised, that he had been disturbed by the familiarity he had witnessed between Amelia and the stranger; and reluctant as young men are, to own themselves in love, he was at length compelled to admit to his inward monitor, that Amelia Chambers was any thing but indifferent to him.

Nevertheless, at this period of his life, prudence exercised a very considerable sway over his character; and the wise and good precepts that Dr. Simpson had given him upon somewhat a similar occasion, independently of what had been inculcated by Mr. Thoroughgood, as general rules of conduct, were in full force upon his memory, enabling him to weigh the folly under his present circumstances, of encouraging any attachment, no matter with whom.




  ― 93 ―

Thus arguing with himself, he determined to think no more of the affair; although he still settled there could be no harm in making a call in Harley-street, so as to learn the particulars of who and what was this interesting stranger, and which he had no sooner fixed upon doing, than a certain something also prompted him, not to defer his visit later than the following morning.




  ― 94 ―

Chapter X

“Parson, these things in thy possessing
Are better than the Bishop's blessing:
A wife that makes conserves; a steed
That carries double when there's need;
October store and best Virginia,
Tithe pig and mortuary Guinea.”

POPE

No sooner had an hour arrived when he thought visitors would be admitted, than Quintus was at the door in Harley-street, not altogether in the most amiable mood in the world, but, if the truth be told, notwithstanding all his philosophising, and the ten times repeated-to-himself, “I am sure Amelia's so plain, I wonder I could look at her twice,” he was the victim of pique and chagrin, more than he chose to acknowledge. Upon reaching the house the servant scarcely waited for the enquiry, “Is Mrs. Chambers at home?” but considering him from his intimacy with the family as a privileged guest, led the way to the drawing-room, where he found Amelia and her mother alone. He tried to accost them as usual, but was unable to get rid of a certain embarras, which neither of them could understand; and instead of entering upon general conversation, nothing but the weather, the carriages that were passing, and other topics equally trifling, were introduced; and these only in a dull, uninteresting manner.

At length addressing Amelia, he ventured to say, “You could not spare one look, perhaps not a thought upon an old acquaintance, last evening: I saw how agreeably you were engaged.”

Amelia blushed, and looking at him with archness, replied, “What! were you at the Opera?”

“Yes; I dined in Portman-square, and lady Montrevors was so good as to offer me a place in their box.”

“I did not see you — but you know I never aspire so high, as even to look at the great people.”

“I fancy you were too agreeably occupied to look at any person, except your next neighbour; to say nothing particularly of the great people — I quite envied the gentleman, his happiness.”

“That was extremely wrong of you,” she replied, with a playful, good-humoured smile; “don't you know, that envy is severely denounced? I fear you have been to church this morning to very


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little purpose, if you talk of envy; but I am quite sure, Mr. Burton ought to be no object of envy to you or any body else.”

“What! not to be so distinguished as he was last night, by Miss Chambers?”

“I see,” she answered with more gravity — “that you have something to learn; and I hope you will rather like, than envy Mr. Burton, when you become acquainted with him;” then turning to her mother, she continued — “Mamma, Mr. Quintus Servinton is desirous of being introduced to Mr. Burton, and I am quite sure you will invite him to dine with us to day, as he will then have the opportunity;” then nodding to him most good-naturedly with, “Mind we shall expect you,” she left the room.

Quintus was now alone with Mrs. Chambers, who pressed him to stay and dine, and then continued, “Mr. Burton is a very respectable young gentleman, and was at College with Richard. — He and Amelia have been long attached to each other; but neither of them having much fortune, and Mr. Burton's interest in the Church, and consequent hopes of preferment, having been but slender, we have not particularly encouraged the acquaintance, having preferred leaving it to be governed by circumstances as they might arise, and by the good sense of the young people. He has now unexpectedly come into a tolerable living, in the county where he has chiefly resided; and he arrived in town yesterday, upon business connected with his improved prospects. He will dine with us to-day, and you will then see him.”

Notwithstanding all his self-reasoning, and fancied discretion, Quintus did not receive this intelligence, perfectly unmoved; but he endeavoured to console himself, that it had not more materially disturbed his peace, than was the case; being led on by this train of thinking, to a sort of pluming himself upon his discernment, in having been able to appreciate qualities of the mind, rather than of the person, which had been sufficient to attract the admiration of a man of acknowledged good sense. Nevertheless, he resolved that in future, he would keep a more vigilant watch upon his ever-sensitive heart, and not suffer it to be so often singed, as heretofore.

In the course of farther conversation he learnt, that Mr. Burton had been educated upon the foundation at the Charter-house, and from thence, had made his way to a fellowship at Oxford, wholly by the force of his merits. He was about thirty; of gentlemanly manners and appearance, and tolerably accomplished. Since his ordination, he had officiated as curate of Lestowe, an extensive Parish in Dorsetshire; but his annual income from that, and his fellowship together, had been little more than one hundred pounds. The living was worth about three hundred a year, and was in the


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gift of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. It had lately been possessed by a wealthy non-resident, who, previously to Mr. Burton's appointment to the curacy, had often suffered the inhabitants to be for some Sundays without a pastor, and in every other respect, had shown himself perfectly indifferent about them. It had so happened, that a short time before this, the bishop had been making a tour of his diocess, and upon visiting Lestowe, had entered into very minute enquiries; the result of which, disclosed the fact that the rector, the reverend Dr. Livewell, spent an otium cum dignitate, in a distant part of the county, never troubling himself in the least, upon the affairs of the church militant, but holding by the tenor of his example, that the frequenting of balls, races, and all the gaieties of fashionable life, the keeping up a sociable intercourse with titled rakes and debauchees, the maintaining a handsome stud and a splendid table, were among the highest and most important of his Christian duties. All the information so acquired, his lordship carefully noted, and he also made himself fully acquainted with the amiable character, and exemplary conduct of the curate. Upon finishing his visitation, he caused Dr. Livewell to be written to, requiring his attendance at Wells. The reverend gentleman, proud of his wealth and splendour, was punctual to the time named, and exhibited a grand display of horses, carriages, and servants. Scarcely had he made his obeisance to his superior, than his lordship addressed him, “I have lately returned from visiting my diocess, Dr. Livewell, and I wished to see you upon the subject of your vicarage at Lestowe, where, I am sorry to find, you have never resided; and you are aware I believe of the stress I lay upon this, and other points.”

“I should be very sorry, if your lordship conceived that I come within your lordship's injunctions,” replied Dr. Livewell, “but the fact is, my lord, the parsonage-house is so much too small for my establishment, that I could not possibly turn round in it.”

“I congratulate you, Dr. Livewell,” gravely replied the bishop, “upon your abundant share of the good things of this world; you would not otherwise complain of the inconvenient size of the parsonage. You will recollect Doctor, of those to whom much is given, much will be required. — Allow me therefore, to recommend you to ease yourself of some part of your burthens, and to place Lestowe at my disposal. I think I could find a person, for whom the house possesses ample accommodation, and who would do honor to my choice.”

The reverend doctor was a man of the world, and a courtier. He knew full well, how ill he should come off, were he to enter the lists with a bishop, who was rigid both in his own conduct, and in that of his clergy; and therefore perfectly understood what was his


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only prudent course. The living was resigned, and immediately presented to Mr. Burton. — Hence, the agreeable change in his circumstances, and consequent visit to London.

Mr. Burton proved upon acquaintance, what Mrs. Chambers had represented him, a scholar and a gentleman; and the happy state of his affairs, affecting as it did another of the company, so tended to enliven and give a zest to conversation, that the evening was spent most pleasantly. In the course of other subjects that were mentioned, Mr. Burton happened to say, that he had made an engagement to stay a few days with some friends at Southampton on his return to Dorsetshire, if certain previous arrangements should permit a friend of his, to leave town; but added, that this was very uncertain.

“And pray, who may this friend be,” enquired Amelia, “and upon what circumstances, does your engagement depend?”

“Why, the contingency is rather an interesting one to some parties,” replied Mr. Burton, “for William Rothero, the nephew of the great West India merchant, and whom I knew at College, is engaged to be married to a young lady, whose friends live at Southampton; but when the happy day is to arrive, depends upon his uncle's being able to find a competent person to fill his place in the counting-house. My invitation is, to accompany him to Southampton, and to perform the ceremony; but, as the uncle is extremely particular, he has not yet found a person to suit him.”

“Can you inform me, Sir,” said Quintus, “what are the particular qualifications required?”

“I know very little of business,” replied Mr. Burton, “but I have heard my friend say, that he answered all the foreign letters.”

It immediately occurred to Quintus, that here was a situation in all respects adapted for him. It was as respectable as well could be — the parties were gentlemen — and the employment of a nature, for which he felt particularly qualified. He did not pursue the conversation however, but resolved to call upon Mr. Rothero the next morning, and learn farther particulars from himself.

It so happened that this gentleman was Lord Mayor of London that year; and when, in pursuance of his determination, Quintus called at his office in Broad-street and asked to see him, he was referred to the Mansion-house whither he forthwith proceeded. He found him in one of the private rooms adjoining the great hall, engaged on some official duties with one or two persons, and when Quintus was introduced, it is probable that he conceived his errand to be of a similar nature, for he did not seem to recognise him, but returning his bow quite as a stranger, motioned him to take a seat. This forgetfulness was by no means surprising, considering the manner in which the interval, since their last interview, had been


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passed by Quintus; as the society in which he had mixed, added to his general pursuits, had considerably improved his figure and appearance. When it came to his turn to be attended to, being by no means discomposed by this oblivion of the past, he addressed Mr. Rothero, by saying, “I had the honor to call upon you in Broad-street Sir, a few months ago, upon business for the late Mr. Thoroughgood, and having been informed yesterday by the reverend Mr. Burton, that you had a vacancy in your counting-house, I have taken the liberty of waiting upon you, to offer my services.”

“I have a very great objection to gentlemen clerks,” replied Mr. Rothero, “I have repeatedly tried them, and always found them good for nothing — they seldom attend to business, but when most wanted, give much trouble and disappointment; frequently acting more like masters than clerks.”

“I hope, Sir,” said Quintus, “that the mere circumstance of birth, will not be allowed to interfere with me, if there be no other objection. Mr. Thoroughgood's executors, will, I believe, do me the justice to say that, I never neglected any business that was entrusted to me.”

“Are you not the person,” enquired Mr. Rothero, “who settled that disputed balance with me for Mr. Thoroughgood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I did not immediately recollect you, but I now remember how well you advocated his interests; and if we can agree as to salary, I feel disposed to depart in your instance, from my general rule; — what do you expect?”

“Remuneration, Sir, is much less my object, than respectable employment, and improvement; and if you please, I will leave that subject entirely to yourself.” The negotiation was presently completed, when Quintus withdrew and hastened to call upon Mr. Burton, to acquaint him that, profiting by his information, he had formed an engagement, which would have the two-fold effect of accomplishing an object he had earnestly desired himself, and of enabling Mr. Burton's friend, to complete his arrangements for his matrimonial excursion.

It is thus, that we sometimes notice through life, how much one event depends upon another, apparently the most trifling; and how a road is oft opened to the attainment of our pursuits, through channels, seemingly altogether improbable.

Quintus was extremely glad to exchange his life of idleness, for the regular occupation of a West India house. He engaged lodgings in one of the streets in the neighbourhood of Brunswick square, and attended in Broad street, with the utmost punctuality and attention. Mr. Rothero's partner was a junior branch of the same family;


  ― 99 ―
and was an amiable, agreeable young man. He resided in the city, and was married to an accomplished lady, both of whom paid Quintus much and friendly attention; indeed in a short time, they became upon such mutually intimate terms that he was a constant guest at their table, and through them, was introduced to other members of the family, who all treated him in an equally flattering manner.

The nature of his avocations enabled him so well to combine business with pleasure, that a twelvemonth passed most agreeably in this manner, and in the course of it, he had been honored by invitations to the civic entertainments given by the senior partner and by other similar marks of approval. He was always at his post when required by the affairs of the house and thus gained the esteem and good opinion of both the partners; whilst at the same time, the respectability of his connexions, and his excellent private character, by removing a barrier that often exists between clerks and their principals, placed him on the footing of an intimate friend. At the end of the year, Mr. Rothero marked his farther sense of his services, by putting into his hands a sum, that greatly exceeded his anticipations, and which was the more valuable, on acount of the expressions by which it was accompanied. But now, new scenes awaited him. A vacancy had occurred in the representation of the City in Parliament; and Mr. Rothero, having been invited to become a candidate, and encouraged by many promises of support, allowed himself to be put in nomination, and a hotly contested election, was the consequence. This was an occasion, well adapted to display the eagerness of Quintus's disposition, and the activity of his mind, when called forth by an event, in which he felt interested. He had received so much kindness, and such marked attention, from the Rothero's, that he now entered most warmly into their cause; and became extremely useful, not only in the committee room, by the methodical exactness of his arrangements, but in various other ways equally serviceable.

The election, which ended after a severe contest in favor of Mr. Rothero, had the result of leading Quintus to be introduced to many high and distinguished characters. The exertions he had made, increased his intimacy with the family; and the new member especially, treated him with particular attention, welcoming him in the kindest manner to his residence in Russell-square, where he met some of the best society of the day.

As the business of a West India merchant greatly depends upon particular seasons, and as opportunity of leisure was now afforded, Quintus sought and obtained leave of absence, for the purpose of accepting an invitation that the Burtons had made him, shortly


  ― 100 ―
after Amelia's marriage, and which had taken place about a twelve-month previously. From the day of his first entering London, he had scarcely once exceeded in his travels, its immediate vicinity, and all his early pleasurable associations with a country life, returned in full force, the moment that he had received the wished-for permission. So anxious indeed was he not to lose time, that he did not even write to announce his coming, but packing up with as little delay as possible, was soon on the road to Dorsetshire, travelling by coach till he reached a village within a mile or two of Lestowe, from whence he proceeded on foot, with a small portmanteau swinging across his shoulder, pursuing his way across some fields to the parsonage, quite an unexpected visitor.

The afternoon sun of a hot spring day, as it shone with all its force, made him more than once repent his incumbrance; and he was walking as if every step were a furlong, when his approach having been noticed from the windows, he had the pleasure of being met half-way by his hospitable friends, who greeted him with a most hearty welcome. Leaving his baggage to the care of a servant, he accompanied his guides to their neat and pleasant dwelling, chatting by the way, as is the wont of friends of “lang syne,” when meeting after a long separation, but previously to entering the house, Mrs. Burton said to him, “Take care of your heart, Quintus, if you have not left it behind you; for we have a young friend staying with us, to whom it will certainly be a prize, presuming you fall in love as easily as ever.”

“I do not know that I am such a faller in love,” he replied. “As for my heart, part of it you know has been at Lestowe, ever since the day Mr. Burton and you were so good as to invite me here; and I dare say I shall be able to take care of the other part.”

“I hope so,” said Mrs. Burton, “for both your sakes, for Fanny Villars is a sweet girl, but has no fortune, and you used to say, you have your's to work for; therefore let me entreat you to beware.”

“He who is forewarned is twice armed,” replied he, “never fear me.”

Readily inclined as most young men of one and twenty are, to susceptibility, few could vie with Quintus in an inclination to pay homage to female charms, and indeed by some he was called an arrant flirt, as it was seldom he was entirely heart-whole. His expectation was now greatly raised in favor of a person, whose attractions were of that order to make it necessary thus to caution him, but he was kept in suspense for some time, as the young lady did not immediately make her appearance.

Perhaps, the partiality that sometimes leads persons to speak of their friends, in terms rather suited to their own ideas of them,


  ― 101 ―
than to their real pretensions, is one of the greatest acts of injustice, if not of unkindness, that can be shown them. It frequently ends in disappointment; and there are many, who possess accomplishments and attractions much beyond mediocrity, and which could not have failed to make a favorable impression upon strangers, had not their effect been half destroyed, by the improper exaltation of their admiring friends. The warning Quintus now received, (such as the contrariness of human nature,) had directly the opposite effect to what had been intended; and as he sat in the little book-room waiting the dinner hour, he kept his eye upon the door every time it was opened, half predisposed to surrender his heart at discretion upon the very first appearance of the lady, against the force of whose charms, he had been guarded. He pictured to himself something more graceful, more elegant, and more highly accomplished, than he had yet seen; and he almost regretted that his own appearance, just leaving a mail coach after eighteen hours travelling, was not such as, under other circumstances, he thought it might have been.

All his anticipations were however in due course relieved, and his apprehension upon the score of his own appearance, in the mean time dissipated; for, previously to the dinner-hour, an opportunity had been afforded him of making the most of such aid as West-end tradesmen know how to place at the command of a young man, who, without being a fop, was any thing but a sloven, and whose personal vanity, if vanity it was, chiefly consisted in extreme neatness and cleanliness.

When he re-entered the parlor, Miss Villars was already there; and the very first glance produced a feeling of disappointment. He had fancied her rather tall, and she happened to be under the average female stature; he did not admire a very fair complexion; her's was beautifully so, almost to transparency; dark eyes had always proved more powerful in their artillery upon his heart, than light or hazle; her's were of a blueish grey; and her figure was a little more of the ebonpoint, than was consistent with his ideas of elegance. Had not Mrs. Burton said one word about her, he probably would not have regarded her a second time with more than common attention; but so wayward are oftentimes young men, he had been determined beforehand to like her, if he had no other reason, than because he had been told to place a guard over his heart; and although, so far as person went, he could not help feeling disappointment, he presently was willing to believe that her mental endowments must be of a superior order, and these alone he considered, would be sufficient to warrant the homage he was inclined to pay. Acting upon this suggestion of the heart, he addressed his


  ― 102 ―
conversation to her, watching her replies with much earnestness. Her voice and manner of speaking, were exceedingly sweet and expressive; and he shortly discovered that she was mistress of music, drawing, and other accomplishments; although he rather extracted this knowledge by his tact in introducing the subject, than by an ostentatious display on her part. He was pleased therefore in reflecting, that a visit with which he had long associated many agreeable anticipations, bade fair to be even more pleasant than he had contemplated; and he exerted himself to his very utmost, to reciprocate the pleasure he was receiving.

As the party were sitting after the tray had been removed for the evening, and were enjoying in sociable chit-chat the last hour before bed-time — an hour, ever favourable under the circumstances of the present company, to the display of our best faculties in conversation, and oft among intimate friends, producing an unfolding of ideas, a freedom of expression, that cannot be attained at any other part of the day, Mrs. Burton said, “I am quite sorry Quintus, you did not let us know we were to have this pleasure, for it is only last week, that we settled to spend a short time near the sea side; and we proposed to have gone there next Monday. How are your plans? could you accompany us?”

“There is nothing I should like so much,” he replied, “I have a month's holiday, and I hope you will believe me when I assure you, that it cannot be passed in any manner so agreeably, as under your direction.”

“You were always an adept at fine speeches we know,” replied Mrs. Burton, “but I will give you leave to make them to an old married woman like myself, provided you do not extend them without my permission; but you did not answer my question; for really, to tell you the truth, although we are very glad to see you, we wish you had previously written to us, as we have now made engagements which we are equally perplexed to keep, as to break.”

“If Mr. Quintus Servinton,” said Mr. Burton, “will allow me to advise him, he will accompany me to-morrow to Shaftesbury, where there will be a horse-fair, and will provide himself with a nag for his holiday, and will farther allow us to write to the friends with whom we shall be spending part of our time, to say that we shall bring an addition to our party; as we can assure him of a hearty welcome.”

This proposal was in many respects, too agreeable to be declined; and with all the cheerfulness or elasticity of spirit, felt by a young man in the very morning of life, when surrounded by kind and attentive friends, he retired for the night, intending to muse upon the occurrences of the day. But dame Nature was not to be so


  ― 103 ―
defrauded — nor was his design of dwelling upon retrospective as well as prospective agreeables, sufficient to rob her of that rest, to which she felt entitled. Ere he had lived however, double his present age, frequent harrowing vexations of care and trouble, taught him in good earnest the value of that repose, he then sought to banish; but now, scarcely had he laid himself down, till he was in that state so finely described by Shakespeare, as

Nature's soft nurse, death's counterfeit;”

and even his inclination to review in his mind, the pretensions claimed by her friend for Miss Villars, compared with those, she had struck him as really possessing, gave way to the power of the dull God, and he arose in the morning, feeling as if he had awoke to a new existence, and as if all the events of the last six and thirty hours, had been an illusion.

Although the parsonage was too small, to accommodate the over-grown estalishment of Mr. Burton's predecessor, it contained abundant room for the present incumbent; and the taste and good sense that had been exhibited by his amiable bride, in her style of fitting up and furnishing the apartments, and laying out the pretty flower-garden and shrubbery in which the house stood, was of a description to realize all the ideal conceptions of poets and others, when endeavouring to delineate a charming country residence.

Quintus thought that Miss Villars's morning dishabille, as she did the honors of the breakfast table, was more becoming than the dress she had worn the preceding evening; and he fancied that Mrs. Burton caught his eyes now and then more earnestly bent upon her countenance, than he had intended. Once or twice too, when his glances happened to be met by the young lady herself, he observed that they appeared to create a modest confusion, which bespoke that the fair object of his attraction, had been little used to the gaze of admirers. All this while, Mr. Burton was intent upon his cold pie and the other good things before him, rather than upon the countenances of his visitors, repeatedly hinting that they were full late — that there was nothing like laying a good foundation for a long ride, and that he feared all the best horses would be sold, before they reached the fair; adding, “it is Quarter Sessions too, and I want to see some of the Magistrates on very particular business.” Breakfast being at length over, they took leave of the ladies, promising to return to a late dinner; and in the course of two hours, had completed their ride.

The business of most importance to Quintus, having been quickly disposed of quite to his satisfaction, by the purchase of a horse upon terms which, to a Londoner seemed “wondrous cheap,”


  ― 104 ―
Mr. Burton proposed going to the Sessions-house, where the Magistrates were already assembled. A trial happened to be on as they entered the Court, of a man, charged with having assaulted and severely injured another. In compliment to Mr. Burton's profession, he and his companion were invited to take seats on the bench, at the end immediately adjoining the jury-box. The case seemed clearly proved, indeed the man made no defence, leaving himself entirely in the hands of the Magistrates; and the jury composed chiefly of yeomen or farmers, would it was expected, at once have agreed in a verdict of “Guilty.” But, although they made no semblance of retiring, they appeared slow in arriving at a decision, standing together in a little knot or circle, discussing the merits of the case. Meanwhile, all other business being of course suspended, Quintus's attention was drawn to the jury-box, which was only separated from his seat by a low wooden partition.

“He's clean guilty, that's for sartain,” said one of the jury-men.

“Aye, as sure as eggs is good with bacon,” said another.

“It's a woundy sheame to lose such a man joost now,” observed a third, “we's be sure to be drubbed by the Wiltshire men at thic match of single-stick, for there's never a one fit to stand up against Tim Stickwell, exceptin this Job Savage.”

“Aye the more's the pity,” remarked the foreman, “but what be we to do? for he's as guilty as thof he was hanged for it, and we can't make him no otherwise. I shall lose five pounds by the son of a gun next week, that's as sure as I be standing here.”

“I ba'nt so zure of that,” said a short, sturdy yeoman, who had apparently been listening with all his ears, to what had been passing; “zuppose we quit 'en! what then?”

“Aye, what then?” made the rounds from one to another, to which no other reply was made, than a chuckling sort of half-laugh and significant grin, which continued for a minute or two, when the foreman gravely turned round and said, “Not Guilty.”

The Chairman immediately rose and observed, “I am afraid, gentlemen of the jury, you have not clearly understood the evidence — the assault was most distinctly proved, and is not even attempted to be denied, or justified. I wish you to reconsider your verdict, before it is recorded.”

The foreman made a show of adopting his recommendation, but in the course of a minute or two, again said, “the gentlemen be all agreed Sir, Not Guilty.”

“It is impossible that this verdict can be recorded,” said the chairman, “in face of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, and not even contradicted or denied by the prisoner; pray gentleman, give the subject a little more attention.”




  ― 105 ―

It was useless however; they had agreed to “quit 'en,” and accordingly he was acquitted, receiving a severe admonition from the chairman, instead of the punishment he had fully anticipated.

“We have to-day had a practical illustration, how possible it is to abuse our admirable system of trial by jury,” said Mr. Burton as they left the Court. “It was well worth the struggles that were made to obtain it, and it is indeed, the palladium of an Englishman's life, as well as liberty; but we have now seen, that one of the very best institutions, which the wit of man ever did, or could devise, is liable to be disgraced, when placed in ignorant hands.”

“Not only such institutions as spring from the wit of man,” said Quintus, “but how much higher might this idea be carried — look at the abuses, that have crept from time to time, into the Christian religion, since it was first promulgated!”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Burton, “its primitive beauty and simplicity have indeed, been cruelly dealt with, by human ingenuity and invention; but as Englishmen, we ought never to forget that, our religious liberty is as amply provided for, as are our civil rights; and notwithstanding it may be difficult to discern any thing of the original tree, in many of the plants or off-sets that have been taken from it, we still have the precise words that were originally spoken, for our guide and direction, so that he who runs may read; and it is not among the least enviable of our national distinctions or privileges, that the common and usually adopted translation of the Bible, is upon the whole, a faithful representation of the original text.”

“It is always pleasant,” said Quintus, “when we meet with liberality from one class of believers towards another; but it is far from common, and particularly I think, among expounders themselves.”

“The very essence of Christianity,” replied Mr. Burton, “is charity, or liberality as you may term it. I fully go along with Pope in his two celebrated lines:—

For modes of faith, let senseless bigots fight,
He can't be wrong, whose life is in the right.”

“And yet,” answered Quintus, “nothing is more rare, than this same charity. I remember an anecdote of a scholar, who was examined, with the view of being ordained. The bishop said to him, “quid est spes?” The scholar answered “futura res.” “Quid est fides,” said the bishop. The scholar again replied, “quod non vides.” “Quid est charitas?” next enquired the bishop. “In mundo raritas,” was the scholar's last reply, and a very true one it was.”

“Upon my word,” said Mr. Burton, “I was not aware that the pleasure we had promised ourselves from your visit, was capable of


  ― 106 ―
the addition I have now discovered. You and I must renew these conversations in my sanctum sanctorum.”

“Indeed,” said Quintus, “I beg your pardon there, I do not purpose any thing of the sort — I have always been taught to avoid religion and politics, as being the least desirable of all subjects of conversation; but if it were not so, I assure you I have not so little taste, as to relinquish the charming society of your drawing-room, for musty dissertations in your library. It is one thing to have, and another to display, a tolerable knowledge upon certain subjects; and although perhaps, I may have to thank my preceptors for not being quite ignorant, either upon theology or the history of my country, I am not so foolish as to enter the lists with such a person as yourself. If you please, we will now change the subject, by allowing me to ask, what is the game of single-stick, that produced such an effect upon the jury-men this morning?”

Mr. Burton then explained, that it formed one of the chief rustic amusements with the peasantry of Somersetshire, the lower part of Dorsetshire and Wiltshire; that the skill of the players consisted in so warding off their adversaries' blows, as to protect the head — that it was played by two persons, who used straight sticks about two and a half feet long, wielding them something in the manner of the broad sword exercise; and that matches were annually made between the best players of the respective counties. Mr. Burton was a strenuous supporter of all games of this description, where dumb animals are not made the victims of savage sport. He considered wrestling, quoits, running matches, single-stick playing, cricket, throwing the bar, and similar amusements, as being quite in character with the natural habits of Englishmen, and serviceable, in their tendency to improve bodily strength and activity. His idea was that, the human mind, however it may be usually occupied, requires certain relaxation; that if it can find this, of an innocent nature, it will oftentimes prefer it to vice; but if it cannot, it will have recourse to whatever presents itself. — “It is upon this principle,” said he, as they were continuing the conversation, during the road homewards, “that not only do I not discourage, but on the contrary, I practise music, dancing, cards, and attend places of public amusement. It is the abuse, not the use of such enjoyments of life, that constitutes sin. Cards are bad only, when they are used for gambling; music and dancing, when they draw us into improper company, or make us neglect our social duties. Believe me, there is much truth in Dr. Watt's beautiful expression:—

Religion never was designed, to make our pleasures less.”

“I really believe,” replied Quintus, “judging by myself, that


  ― 107 ―
instruction so conveyed as I have to-day had the pleasure of receiving it, would do much more to promote its object, than when accompanied by the gloomy fanatacism of some persons. I am quite sure, that to do any good, the hearer must be interested.”

“Yes, certainly,” said Mr. Burton, “I fully agree with you; and it is on this account, that many of the light works of our national literature, are so valuable — they instruct and amuse at the same moment; they hold up the mirror of life, wherein if we chuse, we can see our own faults and imperfections, and they warn us by the fate of others, how to avoid shoals and quicksands in our own course. Where can we find human nature so admirably delineated, as by Shakespeare? or in what other writings, do we see the precepts that are laid down in the Bible, so beautifully illustrated as in the lives and actions of some of his characters?”

“What is your opinion of Hogarth's Works,” enquired Quintus?

“I class them among the useful and entertaining modes of conveying instruction,” Mr. Burton answered. “If a young man would maturely consider the rake's progress, or a young woman could be made to believe it possible, that in her own case, another of his sad stories could be realised, the terrible results pourtrayed by his pencil, would I think in both cases, go far to check in youth, improper tendencies and inclinations.”

The ride to Lestowe was imperceptibly so shortened by this strain of rational converse, that it was accomplished sooner than Quintus had expected; and the exclamation, “Can it be possible that is your house?” pointing to a neat white cottage among the trees a little to the right, was answered by, “Not only possible, but it most certainly is so — time always passes quickly, when well employed; and there cannot be a greater object of pity, than the man who is ever crying out, that he does not know how to kill it. It is an enemy only to those, who are enemies to it, but it amply rewards all who regard it properly.”

They now reached the gate leading through a cleanlily swept gravel walk to the house, and were received with all those smiles and graces peculiar to the female character, and never more beautifully displayed, than when welcoming from the heart, a husband's return to his fire-side.




  ― 108 ―

Chapter XI

“'Tis not that rural sports alone invite,
But all the grateful country breathes delight.”

GAY

The discourse after dinner, turned upon the occurrences of the forenoon; and Quintus expatiated with great earnestness upon the admirable properties of his new purchase, endeavouring to induce one of the ladies to be his companion in a ride he was planning for the next day; but in the midst of this sort of discussion, the arrival of a no less important personage than the village postman, with his wallet on his back, gave a new turn to the conversation. Among the letters that were presently laid upon the table, was one from a young clerical friend of Mr. Burton's, who had undertaken to do his parish duty, during his projected absence. Scarcely had the seal been broken, than Mr. Burton hastily glancing through it, observed, “I fear, Amelia, our Sidmouth plans will come to nothing. Neville's father is dead, and he will not be able to come here. I believe we must give up all thoughts of our jaunt, for I am sure I do not know whom to ask to take charge of the pulpit; and it will never do to leave it to chance.”

“Why not try Mr. Clevely?” said his wife. “It will do him a great deal of good to keep his hand in. I daresay he won't refuse you; particularly as it is only for a parson's fortnight.”

“I don't think it is of much use to try that quarter,” replied Mr. Burton “but I think, dear, as you seem at home in suggesting good reasons why he ought to comply, we should do well to make you the ambassador, if you think it worth while to ask him.”

“Who is the gentleman of whom you are speaking?” enquired Quintus, rather amused at the manner in which Mrs. Burton had referred to him. In reply, he was described as a clergyman, who resided at a noble mansion about three miles from Lestowe, enjoying a handsome income, derived from large estates, and a prebendal stall in Exeter Cathedral, having also the honor to be numbered in the list of His Majesty's Chaplains. Living in the very first style of rural splendour, he kept two packs of hounds, was a strict preserver of game, a first-rate shot, and seemed to think that in all things, he could not do better than adopt for his rule of life, the two first lines of a well-known epigram:—

Live, while you live, the epicure will say,
And seize the pleasures of the present day.”



  ― 109 ―

In other respects, he was a hospitable friend and neighbour; unostentatious, kind, and charitable; rough sometimes in his manners, although when in the society of ladies, or of persons of rank, he knew well how to assume all the elegance of the man of the world, who had been well schooled in the best circles.

“I daresay,” continued Mrs. Burton, “that he will do the service for you one Sunday at least, if not two; and if nothing else can be thought of, we must shorten our absence.”

“It entirely depends upon the humour he is in,” replied Mr. Burton. “If this happened to be the hunting season, and I were to fall in with him after a good run, or particularly after a good dinner, I should have little doubt of success; but this is a very unlucky time of the year. However, if nothing else arise from the visit, it will be a pleasant morning ride for our young friend, and the house and grounds are worth seeing, so that at all events, we will make the experiment.”

It being so arranged, the conversation resumed its original subject, and Quintus endeavoured to entertain the ladies, by recounting the jury-box adventure. Afterwards, addressing his conversation more particularly to Mr. Burton, he said, “you were speaking of rustic games this morning, but did not mention golf, which I have often seen played in the north of England.”

“It is not known in this part of the country, nor do I remember ever to have seen it,” replied Mr. Burton; — “can you explain it?”

Quintus accordingly went on to describe, that it was a game played by two persons, in an enclosure about seventy feet long, by twenty broad. In this, close to the sides, is a walk partitioned off from the centre; and about nine feet from each end, a small pillar is erected, about three feet high. Two balls are used, stuffed, but rather hard; and each player is also furnished with a club or stick, one end of which is strengthened by brass or iron, and expands a little, in the shape of a racket bat. The players stand together, at one end of the enclosure. He who commences, drives his ball towards the pillar at the other extremity — the other afterwards doing the same. He of the two, whose ball has rolled nearest the pillar, has now the first blow. They then strike alternately, and the skill and object of the game, consist in making the ball strike one pillar, and then so rebound, that it shall strike the other. He who succeeds in this, scores one; and eleven is the game. He continued to explain, that he had been informed by a Scotch gentleman, that although golf as thus played, much resembled in some of its principles, the national game of that country so much talked of, it was dissimilar in some respects, but in what, he did not particularize.

“You appear altogether to have had an agreeable day,” said Mrs.


  ― 110 ―
Burton, “and I think you will like your excursion to-morrow; but there are no young ladies at Beauford. Mr. Clevely has no family, and as you have been told, is rather an oddity — but you will find his wife, a very agreeable and accomplished lady.”

“And what better,” said Quintus, “can any person desire, than the society of agreeable and accomplished married ladies? I am sure, I ought to think myself particularly fortunate, if, instead of meeting with one only, by coming to Lestowe, I should be so happy as to form an acquaintance with a second.”

“You will never leave off your fine speeches I see,” said Mrs. Burton, “but mind, Fanny, if he begin them with you, you must not attend to him, for he is an arrant flirt, and I really believe, at one time would have made love to me, if I had given him half a chance.”

Miss Villars blushed, her eyes meeting those of Quintus rivetted upon her as he replied, “I am no fine speech-maker, but it is sometimes difficult to withhold saying what one feels, and if what you say of me, as respects yourself, be true, I will appeal to Mr. Burton, whether it was not a proof of my correct judgment?”

“I certainly must support that view of the case,” said Mr. Burton, “and in my turn may I think, congratulate myself upon my own judgment, when I find it so confirmed.”

“Yes,” replied Quintus, “and I may and sincerely do congratulate you both; not only on that point, but on the happy result to which it has led.”

“There we go again,” said Mrs. Burton. “Quintus Servinton still! but I shall hear to-morrow what you say of Mrs. Cleveley.”

“As I always do,” replied he, “when speaking of ladies; my words will express my thoughts, but if I can say no good of them, I am silent.”

The next morning the two gentlemen rode to Beauford, agreeably to the decision of the family council, the preceding evening. The house was one of the large edifices of Queen Elizabeth's time, and shaped, like many others of that day, when in compliment to the virgin sovereign, the letter E. formed the model for the country seats of the nobility and gentry. It was of stone, but the heavy old fashioned windows of its first construction, had recently been exchanged for those of a more modern make, and the place had altogether undergone many repairs and embellishments. A number of enclosures, such as small yards and walled gardens had been pulled down, and several long straight alleys of yew and other trees, cut and trimmed in all sorts of fanciful shapes, that had formerly surrounded the mansion, had all likewise felt the destroying hand of the present owner, greatly to the improvement of the place, by


  ― 111 ―
opening the home view, and making the house an interesting object to the passing traveller.

The hall door was opened by a servant out of livery, bearing the air and dignity of a superior domestic, who ushered the strangers into a small handsomely furnished boudoir, or breakfast-room, where Mrs. Clevely was sitting alone, occupied with reading. She appeared about forty, and of a very pleasing exterior; and her style of receiving the visitors, at once confirmed the justice of Mrs. Burton's favorable opinion, and marked her as a lady, fit to preside over so noble a dwelling.

Whilst the party were in the midst of a sprightly conversation upon indifferent subjects, a noise in the hall and, “Zounds, I'll hang every mother's son of 'em,” was almost the immediate precursor of the entrance of their reverend host. His appearance was in every respect the very opposite of his wife's. Her senior, by ten or fifteen years, he was of middle stature, low course features, and had a halt in his walk, partly from habit, and partly from accidental lameness. He wore a grey frock coat, a mixture waistcoat, light breeches and gaiters, covered with dirt and dust, and carried in one hand a long hunting-whip, bearing in the other the dead body of a black terrier. Seeing strangers, he started back for a moment, as if surprised, but immediately said, “Your servant, Mr. Burton, how d'ye do; very glad to see you — how's Mrs. Burton — your servant, sir,” to Quintus. “You'll excuse me for a moment, gentlemen,” and then addressing his wife, went on, “This d——d dog will never kill any more of your turkies, Sally — I caught him again this morning in the very act, and I first gave him a good wallopping, and then had him hanged.”

“That was certainly cruel,” said the lady. “There could be no occasion to torture the poor animal, and then to put it to death.”

“Zounds and the devil,” replied he, “Ar'nt you always complaining that you can't rear a young turkey for the dogs? I gave him a hearty wallopping for the offence he had just committed, and I had him hanged as a warning to the others; but you women are never satisfied.”

Mrs. Clevely smiled, well knowing from her husband's humour, that he often said much more than he meant; and the subject being presently dropped, Mr. Clevely welcomed both his visitors by a hearty shake of the hand. Mr. Burton much feared that the adventure of the turkey-killing terrier would entirely ruin the success of his errand, and did not at present, dare to introduce the subject; rather hoping that it might be led to by something else, so as to enable him to feel his way. Knowing his neighbour's foible, he said


  ― 112 ―
to Quintus, “I must ask Mr. Clevely to show you his stud and kennel — they are perhaps, the best in the county.”

“Middling, as to that,” replied Mr. Clevely. “Are you fond of hunting?” addressing Quintus.

“I have latterly had very little opportunity of seeing any thing of the sort, Sir,” he replied. “Formerly when I had a chance now and then, nothing gave me more pleasure, than to follow a pack of hounds; their tones when in full cry, are the most exhilerating thing in the world.”

“Come along! come along!” said Mr. Clevely. “I am glad, Burton, you hav'nt brought me a crop-eared chap, of your own sort, who neither hunts, shoots, get drunk, nor any thing else like a man. Come along, Sir,” to Quintus, “and I'll show you the prettiest bits of four-legged flesh, both dogs and horses, within fifty miles, gainsay it who can.”

The visitors now followed their fox-hunting friend, to a large well-enclosed yard, a short distance in the rear of the house, on one side of which was a range of capital stables, sufficiently large to accommodate sixteen horses, but divided into several compartments, none containing more than three stalls, and many being single boxes. On the other side were four large divisions, for choice or particular horses; and the remainder was occupied by a dwelling-house, in which the head huntsman and grooms resided. In one corner was a capacious pond, constantly supplied by a running stream, and as constantly kept from overflowing by a drain or outlet, capable of being regulated at pleasure. From this yard, exactly opposite its entrance, a pair of high gates opened a communication to another enclosure, on one side of which, were also stables; on the other, coach-houses and harness-rooms. Passing from hence, they proceeded into an open grass court, well enclosed, where they saw a few dogs, straggling here and there, which they were told had been invalids, and were quartered in a large well-tiled building, in one corner, denominated the Invalid Hospital. The next division was a capacious yard, well watered by the same running stream, and containing the dwelling of the whipper-in and his assistants; and from this was a direct communication to the kennels. Every possible convenience for preparing victuals for the animals, equally as for preserving their health and cleanliness, had been attended to, in the construction of several capital buildings; and when the kennel-door was opened, and Quintus witnessed the beautiful condition of the dogs, and the extraordinary order and regularity of the establishment, he observed, “I never saw so uniform and so fine a pack of hounds in my life — they beat Lord Dartingham's hollow, and his are the crack of the North of England.”




  ― 113 ―

Mr. Clevely seemed pleased with the compliment thus paid his favourite hobby, and said to Mr. Burton, “I shall never make a man of you, Burton; but this young gentleman shows some promise. What will he say to my half-hundred beauties, if he thinks so well of these, from which they have been drafted? I'll show him something worth looking at. Here, this way, Sir,” conducting Quintus to another part of the yard, and opening a door that communicated with an apartment, if possible, more cleanlily and better kept than the other, and where were fifty hounds, selected from the rest as being particularly well matched, and of rather a smaller sort, capable of being used either for fox-hunting or hares, which, in the open plains of that neighbourhood, are remarkably fleet and strong.

Quintus bestowed some merited encomiums upon every part of the establishment, and perhaps, as much by haphazard, as from a real knowledge of the subject, made one or two observations which stamped him in Mr. Clevely's opinion, as a young man, of whom something might be made. He much regretted, he said, that he could not let them see his hunters, as they were all turned out for the season, in a park of four or five hundred acres, adjoining the house; but he was unwilling not to make the attempt by leading them about it for two hours, notwithstanding that the animals would not suffer themselves to be approached within a quarter of a mile at least.

They now returned to the house, the chief part of the morning having passed without one opportunity having presented itself of accomplishing Mr. Burton's object; and he gave Quintus a significant glance, as much as to say, “What am I to do?” He was shortly indebted however to Mr. Clevely himself, for the wished for occasion, for almost immediately upon re-entering the parlour, he said, “Burton, you and your friend must stay and dine with us; — by Jove you shall.”

“I would with the greatest pleasure,” he replied, “but it is impossible to-day, for Mrs. Burton has a friend staying with her, and we are expected home. Indeed, to tell you the truth, my purpose in coming to see you, was rather upon the begging suit than any thing else.”

“And how can you muster the face to talk of begging, my good friend, in the same breath that you refuse what I ask you. Zounds, I think some of you demure Parsons are the most impudent dogs alive, but however I'll cut it short by telling you before hand, I won't grant your begging suit, whatever it is.”

“How can you say that, before you know what he asks, my dear Clevely?” said his wife. “Come, Mr. Burton, make your suit, and if it is any thing Clevely can do for you, we know him before to-day,


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and if Mrs. Burton is concerned in it, you may be sure of my interest.”

Thus encouraged, he ventured to make known his request in as mild and suppliant a manner as possible. “Zounds and the devil, Sir,” replied Mr. Clevely, “don't you know I'd as soon be hanged as preach? why should you ask such a thing? why pitch upon a man like me, when there are plenty others? I am astonished at you Burton, but as I said before, some of you crop-eared gentry have the devil's own assurance.”

“Hush, my dear Clevely,” said his lady, “remember who are present. Mr. Burton knows very well that you are always ready to oblige him, and I dare say if Mrs. Burton's engagements to-day, will not materially suffer by our sending a servant to Lestowe, to say that the gentlemen will stay and dine with us, you will do as he asks you. Can you venture so far Mr. Burton? What say you, Clevely.”

“Why, that one good turn deserves another,” replied her husband, “and if Burton agrees, so do I. This young gentleman seems a little bit after my own heart, and he and I must become better acquainted.”

Mr. Burton was not sorry to have gained his point upon such easy terms. The hospitality of Beauford was proverbial, and he was pleased to find Quintus treated with so much attention, and to have introduced him where he appeared so welcome. Despatching a note therefore to his wife, he willingly gave his hand to his worthy, although eccentric host, as a token of acquiescence, and the gentlemen being presently left to themselves, Mr. Clevely proposed leading them to his library and billiard-room. They were both handsome apartments, well fitted up, the former amply stored with ancient and modern literature, maps, globes, and various instruments for the purposes of science; and the furniture of the latter being equally well adapted for its intention. Looking from one of the windows, that commanded a very charming home landscape, they noticed a group of poor women and children upon the lawn, some of whom appeared to be leaving the house, carrying bundles, others, pitchers or small baskets, and some were still approaching, empty-handed. Observing Quintus's attention drawn to the scene, Mr. Clevely said, “You see, my dame makes no strangers of you. This is one of her weekly days for distributing clothes and food to some indigent cottagers, who are of deserving character. I can assure you, I am happy in having so prudent, and so good an almoner.”

Ere the cloth was removed from the dinner table, Mr. Clevely and Quintus became upon such good terms with each other, that nothing would do but he must promise to come and stay a few


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days at Beauford before he returned to London. Mr. Burton was no wine drinker, but not so Mr. Clevely, although he seldom exceeded a certain quantity; and as for Quintus, he had not mixed so much in society as had been his lot during the last year or two, without being pretty well able to adapt himself to his company. He was naturally any thing but intemperate, but nevertheless would rather upon an occasion, crack a bottle with a friend, than quarrel with him. Their reverend friend's good cheer therefore, circulated tolerably freely, and when Mr. Burton observed that the last remaining bottle was nearly empty, he requested leave to ring the bell, to order the horses.

“You may ring the bell Burton, and thank ye too,” said Mr. Clevely, “but as for the orders, I will give them myself, if you please.” When the butler entered, he said, “let these gentlemen's horses be brought to the door, in half an hour; and go and decant a bottle of number nine.”

“No more wine, my dear friend, no more wine, let me entreat you,” interrupted Mr. Burton, “we've had quite enough, Sir — quite enough, I assure you.”

“Answer for yourself, Sir, if you please,” said Mr. Clevely, “you don't know what you refuse, but no man ever did, or ever shall, underrate number nine; why, you blockhead, none but my most particular friends, or after a hard day's run, ever taste it; and 'tis only upon my young friend's account, in anticipation of some good sport next season, that you will be allowed to let it pass your lips. Zounds, man, 'twould almost make a fox-hunter of you.”

When the servant returned with the decanter in his hand, and with all the air and importance due to the occasion, stood by the side of the table, waiting whilst one of the numerous livery servants in attendance, was clearing away the glasses, Mr. Clevely, was still continuing in this strain; but whatever expectations in favor of number nine, had been raised by all this preparation, fell short in Quintus's estimation, of its real merits, when it presently came to his turn to taste it, as he thought it perfectly delicious, both in flavour and quality, “there,” said Mr. Clevely, as he held up his glass to the light, with all the look and manner of a connoisseur, passing it under his nostrils, and again looking at it, ere he suffered it to approach his lips. “There, Burton, you think you know better than me, do you, and refuse this wine? zounds man, 'twas bottled the year King George the Third came to the Throne, and if it hadn't been all soul and body, 'twould have been vinegar ere this. Come, we'll have a bumper to King George's health.” Even Mr. Burton seemed to think it so excellent, as to be more honored by filling his glass than not, each time it came to his turn; and “number


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nine,” proved so stirring up a stirrup-cup, that nothing would do, but the visitors must promise to come again and dine, the day after the morrow; “bring your good lady too, and all else in your house — that pretty piece of innocence is the very thing for my young friend here. Sly fellow you, Burton, eh! first get a pretty girl as wife's friend, and then a smart young man as your's — never mind — bring 'em both — bring 'em both — and zounds, I'll preach and pray for you too, for a month — or more, if you want me.” Then shaking Quintus by the hand, “don't let these match-making friends of ours, draw you into a puppy-snatch — I must have you out with the hounds next season; and if you get over head and ears in love, you'll be good for nothing. Come on Saturday, and I'll find another bottle of number nine for you.”

They now took leave, sufficiently excited by the success of their errand, and by their entertainment, to close the evening in a very lively, agreeable manner; Quintus however, rather transgressing his monitress's injunctions respecting Miss Villars, to entertain whom, he applied himself with much pointed attention, until they separated for the night.

When, at the breakfast table next morning, the events of the preceding day, and the engagement for the coming Saturday were talked of, and among other subjects, the dog adventure was described, and many comparisons drawn between the elegant manners of Mrs. Clevely and the coarseness of her husband, Mrs. Burton observed, “what a pity it is, that a man, endowed with such excellent qualities as our reverend neighbour, should allow them to be so obscured occasionally,” presently adding, “it is the more extraordinary, because, whenever I have seen him, he has been so particularly gentlemanly and well-bred, that it almost requires a stretch of credulity, to suppose he can ever be otherwise.”

“It is the force of habit,” replied Mr. Burton, “and is become with him a second nature. I really believe many of his offensive exclamations, are uttered almost unconsciously; but when ladies are present, he acts under a certain self-command, which checks these ebullitions. Here again, habit exercises her sway, equally as in the other instance.”

“If he respected his wife as he ought, and as she is well entitled to be, he would never say any thing in her presence, that is not fit for the ears of other ladies,” said Mrs. Burton, “and he certainly appears to have forgotten himself a little, once or twice yesterday.”

“You must not be too exact,” replied her husband, “in advocating the rights and privileges of the married sisterhood. No lady has cause to complain, who upon the whole, is so well treated by her husband, as Mrs. Clevely. He knows her value, which is more than


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can be said of some benedicks, and when a man does this, matrimony is generally a happy state.”

“That is, I suppose,” said Quintus, “when the wives happen to be of the sort of my Dorsetshire friends. It is fortunate for Miss Villars and myself, that we are in so good a school — she, to profit by the example of two ladies, who each seem so well to have understood how to secure to themselves good husbands — and for my part, I ought to be thankful, that I am taught how to appreciate a good wife, if I should be so fortunate hereafter as to obtain one.”

“It is not information that is likely to be of much service to me,” observed Miss Villars, “but that does not make the sight of married happiness the less agreeable.”

“I presume,” said Quintus, “you imply by that, the opinion of yourself, which others cannot but entertain of you.”

“And what may that be?” enquired Mr. Burton, half-laughing as he spoke.

“That nothing she can learn can improve her.”

“I'll tell you what, Quintus,” said Mrs. Burton, “I shall not allow you to escort Fanny to Beauford on horseback to-morrow, as we settled last night, but she shall take my place in the gig, and you may make your fine speeches to me, if you must be talking to somebody, but I shall really be very angry if you continue this nonsense.”

“I think Mr. Burton will rather encourage me,” replied he, “if it only be to produce so great a novelty, as to see you angry. Novelty, you know, is always charming, but it is really hard a man may not express his thoughts without being so scolded.”

“Well,” said Mr. Burton, “whatever to-morrow may be, Fanny is not to be disappointed of her ride this morning. You two may sit here sparring, if you like, but if Miss Villars will permit me to be her adviser, she will go and prepare for a trial of your unrivalled hack. It is now nearly ten, and we shall not have too much time for Lord Pembroke's and back, before dinner time.”

This hint broke up the party, and shortly afterwards, Mr. Burton, Quintus, and Fanny were mounted for a day's excursion. They had a very agreeable ride, and returned much delighted and in excellent spirits. Quintus and Fanny both thought that Mrs. Burton was merely joking in the change she had intimated in the mode of proceeding the next day to Beauford, but the contrary proved the case, for when Fanny happened in the course of the evening to praise the newly-purchased horse, and to say, “I shall be so glad when to-morrow comes, to have another ride,” her friend replied, “Oh, no, to-morrow will be my turn; you must not fancy I am going to let you two ride about the country together. No, no, I


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should indeed be a pretty chaperone to trust my charge with such an Esquire as Quintus. Burton will drive you in the gig, Fanny, and I'll try this famous horse.”

Notwithstanding this new plan was professedly on Fanny's account, she was not so grateful as she ought to have been; but, when of two gentlemen, one was a lively young bachelor of nearly her own age, and the other a grave married man, it is not surprising that the former should be preferred as her companion; besides, it is not improbable, that upon herself, as well as Quintus, the constant schoolings of her careful duenna were producing an effect directly the reverse of what was intended; and, from a principle of perverseness, by no means unusual with young people, advice, that was deemed rather officious than otherwise, was leading them to seek each other's society, and to be mutually upon more free and easy terms, than might else have been the case. They were both early risers, and on the following morning, meeting in the shrubbery before breakfast, Quintus was dilating, in glowing terms, upon the pleasure they had derived from their yesterday's ride, upon the excellent paces of his purchase, and complimenting Fanny upon her horsemanship, going on to describe the beauties of the road to Beauford, and lamenting that he was not to have the pleasure of pointing them out to her, as he had hoped, when she replied, “Oh! do not talk of it — but I cannot think what has come to Mrs. Burton — however 'tis no use thinking about it.”

“Are you fond of riding?” said Quintus.

“Am I not, do you suppose? Yes — and the most provoking thing is, it is so seldom I have an opportunity.”

In truth until now, a ride on horseback was a pleasure neither of the ladies had been able to enjoy often, although a favorite amusement with both, as Mr. Burton kept only one horse, and the idea of the ride had constituted in Fanny's mind, the chief delight of the day. Quintus too, rather presuming upon some former conversations, was disposed to play the agreeable with less restraint than hitherto, and did not much relish the exchange that Mrs. Burton had intimated. But the Argus eyes of Mrs. Burton, having espied from her dressing-room window what was going forward, she hastened with double quick time to summon them to breakfast, and thus broke up the conversation.

Nothing having occurred to alter the previous arrangements, it was determined to go early, so as to allow time before dinner, for strolling through the beautiful grounds that surrounded Beauford; and accordingly a little before noon, Mr. Burton handed Fanny into the gig, or as it was then called whisky, leaving Quintus and Mrs. Burton to follow on horseback. Thirty years ago, the modern


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hours of dinner and other entertainments, were as little known or even contemplated, as the introduction of steam navigation, of gas, or any other of the wonderful improvements of the present day. Three, was considered a fashionable hour, among the higher families in the country; four, being something very extra, and only resorted to on most special occasions. The gentlemen in those days, oft sacrificed freely to the jolly god, frequently not leaving the dinner-table for the remainder of the evening; or sometimes, when they did even join the ladies in the drawing-room, they were in a state, that would have been more honoured by their absence than their presence. Upon this occasion, three had been named, with the view of enabling the party to return home, in a manner becoming a clergyman's family on a Saturday night. As Mrs. Burton and Quintus were slowly proceeding, beguiling the road by conversation, she observed, “Don't you think Fanny a very sweet girl? I'm sure you do indeed, before I ask you; and I can almost forgive your disobeying my injunctions — she is so very, very pretty.”

“Miss Villars is certainly an agreeable young lady, but her's is not the style of beauty I admire; and if you will excuse my telling you so, I must beg to say, should your orders be disobeyed, it will entirely be your own doing.”

“How can that be! did I not warn you from the first? and I'm sure I've said enough to Fanny.”

“Yes, and it is these very warnings, that will create mischief, should any arise — particularly when backed as they are by your constant watchings and endeavours to keep us separate.” Here he paused for a moment, and as she did not reply, presently continued, — “as you have mentioned the subject, you must allow me to claim your farther attention for a few minutes; for, with all your cleverness, I think I know more of love matters now than you do.”

“That's very likely, for you have been a great flirt ever since I knew you; — but however, proceed, for I am all attention.”

“Well then, if you had really designed that Miss Villars and myself, should have fallen in love with each other, you could not have adopted a more likely mode of accomplishing your object, than the very pains you have taken to prevent it — that is, presuming our affections were equally disengaged. Only consider — do not the cautions you have whispered into her ear respecting myself, imply that I have certain pretensions, although God knows what they can be; but whatever they are, you have prepared the way for their favorable reception, by your very pains to guard her heart against their influence. I know that so far as she is concerned, I was led by your account to be more in love, by half, before I was introduced to her, than I ever was in my life. Believe me, my dear


  ― 120 ―
madam, leave us to ourselves, and there will be no harm — continue your chaperone manœuvres, and I will not answer for the consequences. You saw yesterday's result, at Mr. Osborne's, when you contrived so nicely to place me next Miss Stiff at dinner, thinking perhaps, I could be put off with such an antiquated piece of formality, instead of Miss Villars. But how long did it last? only till I could obtain a release, almost I admit at the expense of my manners, and I immediately plied Miss Villars with double attention, out of every spite to you. It is else a hundred to one if I had behaved at all particular to her. Now pray be ruled by me, and try another experiment. Leave the prudence I have been taught ever since I was a boy to be a counterpoise to Miss Villars's charms, and if your solicitude for her hereafter give you cause to apprehend that I need a repetition of your warnings, reserve them for my private ear, but do not suffer your anxiety to be manifested quite so publicly — do not you remember the words of the old song?—

Love, if oppress'd, will soon increase,
And strength superior gain,
'T were better far to be at peace,
And let it have its rein,”

although once more, I really do assure you, I have seen many young ladies, whom I should much prefer to Miss Villars.”

“That's your want of taste, if it be true,” replied the lady, “she's perfectly beautiful.”

“According to your taste you mean, but after all, beauty is only an assistant to, it is no essential part of, a female's attractions. But however that may be, allow me to entreat you, to let me have my way to day; but we must now drop the subject, for you see we have so chatted away our time, that yonder is Beauford, and our friends are coming to meet us.”

“Well, I will try you for once,” replied Mrs. Burton, “but I own I have no faith.”

They were now at the lodge-gate, and quickened their pace, observing Mrs. Clevely and Fanny, attended by Mr. Burton, apparently waiting their arrival, a few hundred yards down the avenue, that formed the grand entrance through the park, to the house, and which branched off about half-way down, through the private grounds. Here a groom was in attendance to take their horses, and alighting at the little wicket that opened upon the shrubbery, they accompanied the party through the finely kept walks to the front door; where, leaving the ladies to themselves, Mr. Burton and Quintus went in quest of their reverend friend, who had been described to them as superintending the breaking in of some young horses, in another quarter of the park.




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Chapter XII

“I have great comfort from this fellow — methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him — his complexion is perfectly gallows. Stand fast good fate to his hanging — make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage. — If he be not born to be hanged, our case is miserable.”

TEMPEST

At this particular season, the country was wearing its garb of richest splendor. The oak and the ash had, it is true, scarcely put forth their full foliage, but to compensate for the want of the majestic appearance of the one, and the gracefulness of the other, the horse-chestnut was thickly studded with blossoms, the lofty sycamore, the beech, and other forest trees, were in all their vernal freshness, and the orchards were clothed in their most luxuriant bloom. Beauford Park was finely wooded, abounding with almost every sort of timber — through the centre of it, ran a small purling stream, affording amusement to the angler, and a plentiful supply of water for cattle; and, at a mile or two from the house, in a romantic, secluded spot, it fed a mill race that gave employment to an honest miller, to whom all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood resorted. A small bridge connected the two sides of the rivulet, and a little to the right after crossing it, was a thick plantation well fenced in by paling, in the centre of which, was an open area of about ten acres, where leaping bars were erected, rings formed for exercising young horses, and all other conveniences, adapted to every purpose connected with the training of animals. Thither Mr. Burton and Quintus were directed, as being likely to find Mr. Clevely occupied upon one regular part of his morning avocations, and thither they accordingly repaired.

No sooner had one or two of the dogs in his train, announced by giving tongue, the arrival of strangers, than the reverend gentleman advanced, and welcomed them in his usual hearty manner. “Eh! Burton, how's this? that you've found out my nursery? I don't think you've ever been here before, long as we've been neighbours. — Zounds, man, I see that bottle of number nine bids fair to work a miracle, and to make a sportsman of you.”

“It certainly was very delicious, but my visit to your nursery, is more in compliment to my friend here, than as a proof of my


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being converted by number nine. We thought perhaps we might see some of your stud, if they are at drill to-day.”

“So you shall man! come along! — and I'll show you such blood, bone, and muscle, as we oftener hear of, than see; but I say Burton, you ar'n't come alone, are you?”

“No; we left Mrs. Burton under charge of your good lady.”

“And where's my pretty little doe? you surely havn't left her behind, have you? — for zounds, if you have, you shall go back for her.”

“We shall be saved that trouble; for Miss Villars too, is at the house.”

“Well, that's all as should be — now come — for we must not stay too long, as we expect a few more friends at dinner, and 'twont do to have one's ears pulled; eh! Burton?”

They had now joined the grooms and other attendants, who were exercising the horses, and the merits of each animal were scanned or criticised, as they severally passed under review.

“What a frightful creature that is,” said Mr. Burton, pointing to a chestnut horse, with four white legs, rather a short neck, small eyes, and goose-pinned; “I wonder you keep such a brute — look what a picture that bay horse is — that's the only sort I would have, if I were you.”

“So far as I am a judge,” said Quintus, “the chestnut is worth a dozen of the bay; see what legs and shoulders, why he's all bone and muscle — look at his carcass, and see how well he's ribbed — close up to his loins.”

Mr. Clevely listened, and smiled, but did not interfere, until both had expressed their opinions, when he exclaimed, “Zounds, and the devil Burton, who made you a judge of any thing on four legs, beyond the merits of a tithe-pig; now mind, I'll mount you both next season, upon the two horses you each admire, and I say my young friend, let the parson look out for squalls.” No denial would be accepted, and accordingly an engagement was made, subject only to the intervention of unexpected contingencies, and after strolling some time longer around the park and gardens, they adjourned to the house, preparatory to their appearance in the drawing-room.

When Mr. Clevely entered, it dressed in a full suit of black, his hair nicely powdered, and exchanging his usual rough exterior, for the habiliments of a gentleman, Quintus at first scarcely recognised him. His bow was particularly graceful and easy, his manner of addressing his company marked by polite and courteous good breeding, and his conversation, sprightly and general. Besides the Lestowe party, there were six or eight visitors, of some distinction


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as country residents, and among them a Lord Nettleby, a young nobleman possessing a seat in the neighbourhood, and who, having just come of age, after a long minority chiefly spent at college or upon the continent, had now, for the first time in his life, visited Dorsetshire. Beyond his rank and title, his recommendations were slight, and his manners silly and coxcomical. Excepting at the Earl of Montrevor's, Quintus had never witnessed any thing in style and splendor, equal to the entertainment of this day. All the dishes and plates were of silver — the furniture of a magnificent dining-room in all respects corresponding with this exhibition of wealth and elegance.

When dinner was announced, Quintus thought of what he had said to Mrs. Burton during their ride, and checking his rising inclination to have offered his hand to Miss Villars, advanced towards another young lady, leaving Fanny to the care of Mr. Burton.

In the course of the afternoon, and when the gentlemen were by themselves, Lord Nettleby observed, assuming at the same moment a very affected air, and using a handsome gold tooth-pick, “Demned fine girl, that, a — a — Miss Villars — roses and lilies in sweet variety.”

“Miss Villars, my lord,” said Mr. Burton, very gravely, “is the particular friend of Mrs. Burton, and her face is the least part of her merits.”

“Demned fine girl, notwithstanding,” said his lordship, but not continuing the subject, he abruptly addressed Quintus, “may I have the honor of enquiring, sir, if I have not met you at Trinity?”

“No, my lord, I was never within twenty miles of either of the Universities in my life.”

“Never at the University!” said his lordship, with a vacant stare, “demned unfortunate! Have you been much abroad.”

“Not at all,” said Quintus, in a short tone, rather annoyed at his lordship's mode of weighing his pretensions; but recollecting the advice he had received in the stage-coach, upon his first journey to London, determined to say no more than was necessary.

“You are singularly unfortunate sir,” drawled out his lordship, “demned unlucky, 'pon my soul — neither at college nor on the continent — demned unlucky indeed!”

“I don't know much about that, my lord,” observed Mr. Clevely; “neither going to college nor on the continent, will impart to some what has been denied by nature; nor will a mere school education prevent others from attaining, what many collegians vainly endeavour to acquire. My young friend is the son of one of the oldest families in the kingdom, and upon his own account is always a welcome guest, either at my house, or at my reverend brother's;


  ― 124 ―
and besides, my lord,” altering his tone a little, as if he thought he had spoken somewhat harshly, “he has a very pretty knowledge of hounds and horses. Come, Mr. Quintus Servinton, I will do myself the honor of passing the bottle to you; and now, Burton, what think you of paying our respects to number nine?”

When his Lordship found that his affected superiority met this rebuff, he treated Quintus with a distant politeness, but no farther conversation occurred of a particular nature. Previously to making their congés for the evening, Mr. Burton and Quintus repeated their promise for the next hunting season, when their respective judgment in horses was to be decided,—a point in which Mr. Burton considered himself rather knowing;—and in addition to this engagement, Quintus required very little pressing to induce him to make another, to spend a few days at Beauford before he returned to London upon the present occasion.

On the ensuing Monday, the party left Lestowe for the sea-side; the ladies travelling in a chaise, and Mr. Burton and Quintus on horseback.

It was too early in the season to participate in any of the usual pleasures or gaieties of a watering place, the object of the visit being to pass some time near Mr. Burton's relations, who lived close to the beach, and to give Mrs. Burton the benefit of sea air, her health having latterly become interestingly delicate. Left to themselves, as Quintus and Miss Villars now were, for Mrs. Burton had adopted the suggestions made during the ride to Beauford, Quintus assumed towards Fanny a respectful and friendly, but still distant deportment, perhaps scarcely so agreeable to either party, as when, making the most of chance occasions, Mrs. Burton's watchfulness had been more particularly exercised. Thus a fortnight pleasantly elapsed, the mornings being spent in riding, walking, visiting, and other pursuits, such as are usual in the country, and the evenings, in books, music, or conversation, when a party was planned for a pic-nic water excursion to Budleigh Salterton, a village a few miles distant. Although nothing like such a preference as could for a moment lead Quintus to think seriously of Fanny, had ever crossed his mind, the intimate terms on which they stood with each other, living under the same roof, and being constant companions in long daily rambles, had so far caused him to regard her, as partly necessary to his happiness, that he was always more lively and animated when she was present than otherwise. She had been complaining of a slight cold and sore throat for the last day or two, and it was a matter of deliberation as the time for the pic-nic approached whether or not she might be well enough to make one of the party; but Quintus's mode of urging her to venture, when it was discussed for


  ― 125 ―
the last time, the evening before the long expected day, at last determined her rather to be governed by inclination than prudence, and to run all chances.

The morning was beautifully clear and serene, and every thing seemed to justify the anticipations of delight, visible on the countenances of the whole party. Two boats were drawn up close to the beach at an early hour, well equipped for the occasion; and in a third, was stowed the materiel for rural festivity, conveying also a few musicians and attendants. Joy and mirth reigned paramount, and the party reached their destination under the most happy auspices. After strolling about the romantic scenery of this charming and sequestered spot, some in groups of three or four, others in pairs, some walking, others sitting or lolling upon the grass, endeavouring to impart, and well disposed to receive pleasure, in whatever form it might be offered, a dance was proposed in a shady part of the woods, where there happened to be a smooth plat of most attractive appearance, and soon each beau was tripping the green-sward upon the light fantastic toe, with his chosen fair one.

Quintus selected for his partner a young lady, whose friends resided in the neighbourhood, chiefly in pursuance of the promise he had made Mrs. Burton, although he regarded Fanny throughout the day with rather more than usual interest, on account of her slight indisposition, and of the discussions it had occasioned. While the hours were thus gliding along, care of every sort being banished from each breast, the jocund scene was interrupted by the hoarse, rough voice of the coxswain, who approached the spot, hallooing “Avast, my masters!—here's a pretty bit of a squall a coming! heave to, all hands, or you'll not weather Sidmouth by this sun's light. What! ho! avast there!”

Some of the gentlemen instantly emerged from their shady retreat, and looked anxiously towards the firmament, seeking for signs of the prognosticated storm; but the sky was clear and bright, save here and there a long streaked cloud might be discernible, jagged and torn as it were, and moving with rapidity, in a contrary direction to the wind. Unwilling to relinquish their amusements, and seeing nothing, which in their way of thinking justified the warnings of the boatman, they treated them with indifference, and returned to the ladies, telling them it was all a hum, and that the fellows only wanted to earn their hire easily, and return to Sidmouth to spend it. But there were some of the party, who were more prudent; and among them Quintus; who, dreading what might be the consequences to Fanny, if overtaken by a thunder-storm in a small open boat, withdrew, after the other gentlemen had returned, in order to talk to the boatman, and judge for himself; and, as he


  ― 126 ―
and old Peter, as the man was generally called, were upon chit-chat terms of acquaintance, at the expense of an occasional shilling or two or a piece of tobacco, he had reason to think he would not deceive him.—He accosted him therefore, “Are you sure Peter, that we shall have a storm? or, if you really expect one, do you think it possible to reach Sidmouth, before it overtakes us?”

The man removed the quid from his mouth, with great seeming indifference, and replied: “Whew! as to being sure, master, a man's sure of nothing they say, but death; howsomever I ban't often at fault about the weather—and as for Sidmouth, I take it, we might perhaps have made it before the storm came on if they'd attended to my piping—but I don't expect it now.”

“Would it be possible to obtain the use of a good boat cloak, for a lady? I will pay any thing in the world for it.”

“That's the way the wind sets, is it, my master? I suppose that dainty bit of a young lady of your's that you're always walking with, is what you be thinking of. Well, I'll see, and rig her out so, she shall turn a pretty pelting—but I say master, put her under my charge, for I expect the whole kit of ye, will be frightened out of your senses, as well as drenched; and there's nothing like an old hand, at these jobs.”

“Do you think there will be any danger? I hope if there should be, you will put us on shore.”

“Avast there! I see you are a fresh water fish. A man can't always reach a port in a storm; but I'll do my best—but don't stay talking, for the longer you bide here, the worse mayhaps 'twill be.”

Quintus hastily rejoined his companions, and addressing Fanny, said, “I shall never forgive myself, if your cold should be increased by this excursion; and I am really alarmed at what old Peter tells me: do let me entreat you to come with me instantly to the boat.—You cannot think how uneasy I am. Pray come at once,” placing her arm under his, as he spoke, and leading her away.

“I cannot think of leaving the rest of the party,” she replied, “and besides, why don't you persuade the others to come too, if you think there's danger?”

“What are the others to me? It is you only, I care about; let me but attend to you, and I shall be contented.”

“I'm sure I ought to be, and I am obliged to you; but 'tis more than I can allow, that you should thus neglect your partner on my account. Oh! but here comes Mr. Burton, and let us talk to him.”

“I perfectly comprehend you, Miss Villars, and will leave you for a minute or two to consult him, while I go and beat up for recruits, so as to fill one boat, as I suppose that is your pleasure, and the rest may then take their chance for me; but recollect, if you


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please, you are not to interfere with my arrangements for you, as I have provided a better escort than such a poor creature as myself would be.” He uttered this in a manner, remarkably slow and impressive for him, his usual mode of speaking, being distinguished by a rapidity that sometimes made him difficult to be understood; and, as he took a momentary leave, the language or his eyes was still more expressive than his words.

Presently returning with a number of converts to his alarm, sufficient to fill one of the boats, he claimed the engagement of being Fanny's protector, and the whole party proceeded at a rapid rate, towards the beach.

“You cannot think how glad I am that you allowed me to persuade you to leave those obstinate fools,” said Quintus;—“only look how black the sky is getting over yonder hill;—and do you not feel it oppressively sultry?”

“Yes, sultry enough, but you'll be liked to be cooled, before long,” said Peter, as he handed Fanny along the plank, that led from the shore to the boat, “but I say master, is this here your young lady as I be to take care of? Here, step this way Miss, if you please. Don't be afeard, Miss, the gentleman knows I've got all ready for you. Lookee here, sir,” directing at the same moment Quintus's attention to the preparations he had made, “and see what I have got—why twelve hours rain wouldn't make no impression whatsoever, when all the rigging was aboard.”

Peter had indeed surpassed all expectation; not only had he borrowed of a fisherman's wife in the village, one of those light Irish cloaks formerly much in use, but, in readiness to go over this, was a rough shaggy dreadnought coat, with three or four huge capes, and as an envelope for the whole, a complete oil-skin casing or covering for the head and shoulders; so that, with the help of an umbrella, so long as it might be safe to hold one up, the wearer could scarcely be otherwise than dry, unless the rain fell in absolute torrents.

“How very kind of you,” said Fanny, as she viewed these preparations, still blushing at the words that had fallen from the boatman, “but I cannot be so selfish as to appropriate all this to myself — pray do you take the coat.”

“I use the coat! no, by no means, Miss Villars, I fear I may have been instrumental in your having incurred this risk of illness, and the least I can do is to guard you, as much as possible, from the threatened danger.”

“Push off! push off! no more palaver,” cried the boatman, “step forwards, sir, the boat wants trimming—step along, sir, leave your lady to me, I'll warrant no harm comes to her.”




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“You will not leave me, will you?” said Fanny, “pray don't leave me, I shall be frightened to death! Pray stay by me, Mr. Servinton.”

“I would, if old Peter would let me, be assured,” he replied, “but I have provided you with a much better safeguard in him than myself, and I dare not attempt to interfere with him;” then letting go the hand which had been fast grasped in his, he removed whither he was desired.

Old Peter sat next Fanny in the stern of the boat, managing the rudder with great dexterity, and a slight breeze springing up just as they started, the little bark moved rapidly along the yet smooth surface of the water, keeping as near the shore as possible, and hope began almost to contest the ascendancy with fear with many of the party, as they anxiously watched the clouds that now unequivocally portended the approaching war of elements; each minute estimating their progress by the old windmill, upon the high ground to the west of the town, near which a signal station has since been established. The boat was so well managed, that already three-fourths of the distance had been accomplished, and although the heavens were gradually wearing a more and more lowering aspect, scarcely any thing of the storm had yet been felt. But the veteran was not to be deceived by this delay. Taking out his tobacco-box, and preparing for use, a fresh bit of this poor man's comforter, he said to Fanny. “You had best prepare, as I do, Miss, for we shall have it in five minutes or less. Here, Miss, put your arm this here way into the sleeve—there, Miss, there! Lord love your sweet face. Now you may stand half an hour's rain, though cats and dogs should fall.”

Fanny wished to offer one af the coats that Peter had provided for her, to another of the ladies, but the old man would not allow it. “He's the only one of the lot that had any thought of his sweetheart, and d———n me, if they mayn't all be well soaked for Peter. If they'd come when I first piped out, we should've been home by now. No, no, Miss, the gentleman paid me for having an eye to you, and others may shift as they can.”

Various emotions were centred in Fanny's breast, as she thus heard Peter talk of the arrangements Quintus had made for her; but she had little time to indulge in them, for presently a vivid flash of forked lightning, was followed by an instantaneous peal of thunder, so long, so loud, and so appalling, that the countenance even of Peter himself underwent a change. There was little or no wind, nor had rain yet fallen. “Dowse the sail ho! and do none of ye move for your lives,” presently hallooed the old man; and notwithstanding that the former part of the command was promptly obeyed, another flash, if any thing more vivid, accompanied by a


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peal of thunder even more terrific than the first, followed each other rapidly, and were instantly succeeded by a sudden gust of wind, that brought the gunnel of the boat almost level with the water, and would certainly have overturned it had the sail remained up one moment longer.

“Save me! save me, Quintus!” cried Fanny, as she dropped lifeless into the bottom of the boat—other ladies fainting at the same moment, and the gentlemen themselves being scarcely less frightened, but none were permitted to move, or to render the least assistance to others, under the most positive warning by old Peter, that the inevitable consequence of altering the boat's trim, would be a watery grave to every person on board.

“Cannot you put us on shore,” was heard from all sides; “one danger is surely better than two.”

“If I can weather that point there, and you'll be quiet,” replied Peter, looking at a promontory a quarter of a mile distant, “we may be safe enough, but not else; nor if ye can't keep still—but is there any of ye can pull an oar? as that, may be might help to save us.”

“Oh! yes, I can, I can!” was heard from more than one, and “pull away, pull away,” was hastily repeated, as the oars were actively handled and passed from one to another; but again the hoarse voice of the coxswain quickly towered over the rest, exclaiming, “Avast, avast there! avast heaving, my lads! one commodore's enough on board—wait till I give the word;” then proceeding to give such orders to his amateur crew, some of whom, Quintus among others were mere novices, that aiding their exertions by a very judicious use of the rudder, the desired haven was at length safely reached, and they were enabled to run the bark close in upon the sands.

Quintus springing on shore, lifted Fanny from the boat, and presently adopted such means as were at his command, towards restoring her to animation. The rain had for some time been falling in torrents, and notwithstanding the storm was now attended by less frightful accompaniments than when they were upon the water, there did not appear the least probability of its speedy termination; and no sooner did Fanny, upon partially recovering, see the miserable, dripping state of her companions, and learn that they had yet three miles to walk, than she again fainted, and it was a considerable time before she was able to move from the spot.

Quintus acquitted himself in so interesting and delicate a situation, with much gallantry, and at the same time, scrupulous propriety; behaving towards her with all the tenderness of a brother, yet bearing the respect of a stranger. “Why was I so foolish as to follow my own inclination this morning, rather than the judgment


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of my dear friends,” she exclaimed, as she began to feel recovered, by the exercise of walking; “and I am quite ashamed to think how much trouble I have given you, Mr. Servinton.”

“How differently you ladies interpret certain words, to what our feelings on some occasions would justify,” replied Quintus. “Put aside all alarm or danger with respect to yourself, and the events of this day will ever be remembered by me with pleasure.”

“Pleasure, do you say! I can scarcely bear to think of what I have gone through — how can you call it pleasure?”

“Why not? What greater pleasure can possibly befall me, than to be able to reflect that I have rendered Miss Villars some slight service to-day? Is not that alone, do you think, a source of pleasure.”

“You know I have been repeatedly warned against your fine speeches,” said Fanny, “and do not, I beseech you, lessen my sense of gratitude for your very considerate attentions, by language which you know it is not proper for me to hear, nor you to utter.”

“I am sorry to say any thing disagreeable to Miss Villars, but I stand corrected, and will not again intrude my thoughts upon her, though you ladies have sometimes very little mercy in your injunctions.” A pause ensued, neither party being able to maintain the conversation in a manner satisfactory to their feelings, till after walking perhaps half a mile in almost total silence, Fanny exclaimed in a tone of gladness, “Ah! I declare we are nearer home than I expected. That surely must be our dear little cottage among the trees,” pointing as she spoke, to a house about a third of a mile distant, and which indeed, happily for her, proved to be what she might well have doubted at first, for the continued rain had given such a misty appearance to the scenery, and so dimmed the prospect every where around, that the face of nature seemed altogether changed. Before they quite reached the house, their silence was again broken by Fanny's saying very gravely, “I shall not soon forget what has happened to-day, but promise me that to-morrow we shall meet precisely as we did yesterday, otherwise, I stand pledged to repeat things to Mrs. Burton, which I trust will be unnecessary.”

“Mrs. Burton is,” — began Quintus, but was immediately interrupted by Fanny, who understood by his countenance what he was going to say, and added “a very good, sensible woman—a second mother to me.”

“Sister, I think, might do as well,” said Quintus, “but granted. that she is both good and kind, and which I readily admit, how would she have liked to have been so schooled I wonder, when she and her dear good man, first knew one another? However, Miss Villars, as to the promise, let to-morrow take care of itself—I will


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not be troublesome to you any farther this evening, but let me never forget to record the 6th June, 1793, as a day of more pleasure than pain, notwithstanding the thunder storm and your scoldings.”

“I do not scold—you should not say so—I only ask, and advise what I know is proper. But now, putting her finger to her lips, taissez vous.”

As she spoke these last words, they entered the cottage, and the kind forethought of their amiable friends, having provided for their comfort, all that their dripping plight required, they speedily changed their dresses, and appeared in the parlour, as if nothing had happened. The fresh air, agreeable society, and other concurrent incidents, had produced so exhilerating an effect upon Quintus's spirits, that he was excessively animated and lively throughout the evening, and perhaps had seldom appeared to more advantage, in the eyes of either of the ladies. He was planning with Fanny, a walk for the next day, to see some beautiful flowers at a neighbouring cottager's, when a servant entered bringing him a letter, which he instantly saw was in the handwriting of the junior Mr. Rothero. It was to announce that intelligence had been received of the arrival of the West India fleet off Plymouth; and to desire him to return as early as he could to town. So soon as he had read it, he observed, “Good bye to any more holiday-keeping. I must start for London to-morrow morning at daybreak.”

“Gracious! what's the matter?” was heard from more than one of the party, almost at the same instant.

“There is nothing the matter,” he replied, “but the West India ships have arrived, and Mr. Rothero has written for me.”

“One day, surely can make no difference,” said Mrs. Burton; “you know we expect a few friends to-morrow evening, and we cannot possibly spare you till our little party is over. You know we depend upon you and Fanny for some duets.”

“Do stay over to-morrow,” added Fanny, “prior engagements, you know, should never be neglected.”

“It is both kind, and unkind of you at the same moment, to tempt me,” answered Quintus. “You know I hope, what I should like to do, but Mr. Rothero told me at first he had a great dislike to gentlemen clerks, and I have ever been determined, and still remain so, that I will make him alter his opinion. Do not press me, for go I must, but I hope it may be the means of my obtaining another holiday in the winter, so as to be able to accept the invitation you have given me, and also to visit Beauford, where I am promised a few days hunting.”

“At all events, if you are determined to go, it shall not be till after breakfast,” was the next expression of his friendly hostess.




  ― 132 ―

“You must really let me be a little wayward, and manage the journey in my own manner, by starting at day-break, I shall be able to reach Lestowe, in time for the coach, after leaving my horse at Mr. Clevely's, as he told me he would give it a run. The difference of an hour or two may make the difference of a day, and this one day may raise or lower me in the estimation of Mr. Rothero. Pray say no more, but I must take leave of you all, to-night.”

Mr. Burton joined on this side of the argument, observing he should not have expected to find in the two ladies, a personification of Moore's beautiful fable, where it is shown in what manner,

Gay pleasure, frolic loving dame,
Leads forward, till resign'd to fate,
She sinks o'erwhelmed with all her freight,”

and strongly commending Quintus's determination to prefer business, whenever it was opposed to the syren.

As the hour of retiring for the night approached, a gloomy heaviness sat on the brow of three at least, of the “partie quarrée.” Quintus thought of Dr. Simpson's ideas of leave-taking, and wished within himself, he could now be spared it. Fanny had been sufficiently pleased and flattered by his society, to feel sorrow at the approaching separation, and with the Burton's, he was an old favourite.

Mrs. Burton accompanied her adieus, by assuring him of the hearty welcome he would always receive at Lestowe, adding, “Upon the whole, I think you have behaved pretty well.”

“Considering the temptation to which you have exposed me, you mean I presume,” glancing at the same moment an expressive look towards Fanny, who received it with downcast blushes, increased perhaps by a recollection of the events of the day.

When the time came to receive her parting civilities, and he held her hand for the last time, she bade him farewell with expressions of friendship, equally devoid of affected prudery, as of unbecoming forwardness. Every thing connected with his departure being thus settled, and all the kind opposition that had been offered, being overruled, the party separated; but past, as well as anticipated events, for some hours banished sleep from the eye-lids of more than one of them, and when Quintus was awakened at day-break, as he had requested, he felt as if he had not been asleep for a single moment, and was half tempted to renounce his intention,—to accompany Fanny in the promised walk,—and to dance and sing duets with her, in the evening. A short reflection however, again decided him—and hastily preparing for the journey he mounted his horse, and long before his friends even thought of rising, had travelled sixteen of the fifty-one miles, that separated Lestowe from Sidmouth.

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