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Endymion
by Benjamin Disraeli
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"Difficulty about what?" said Lady Montfort impatiently.

"Well, my lady, if Mr. Odo stands, there is great respect for him. The other side would not disturb him. He has been member for some years, and my lord has been very liberal. But the truth is, if Mr. Odo does not stand, we cannot command the seat."

"Not command the seat! Then our interest must have been terribly neglected."

"I hope not, my lady," said the agent. "The fact is, the property is against us."

"I thought it was all my lord's."

"No, my lady; the strong interest in the borough is my Lord Beaumaris. It used to be about equal, but all the new buildings are in Lord Beaumaris' part of the borough. It would not have signified if things had remained as in the old days. The grandfather of the present lord was a Whig, and always supported the Montforts, but that's all changed. The present earl has gone over to the other side, and, I hear, is very strong in his views."

Lady Montfort had to communicate all this to Endymion. "You will meet the agent at dinner, but he did not give me a ray of hope. Go now; indeed, I have kept you too long. I am so stricken that I can scarcely command my senses. Only think of our borough being stolen from us by Lord Beaumaris! I have brought you no luck, Endymion; I have done you nothing but mischief; I am miserable. If you had attached yourself to Lady Beaumaris, you might have been a member of parliament."



CHAPTER LXIX

In the meantime, the great news being no longer a secret, the utmost excitement prevailed in the world of politics. The Tories had quite made up their minds that the ministry would have resigned, and were sanguine, under such circumstances, of the result. The parliament, which the ministry was going to dissolve, was one which had been elected by their counsel and under their auspices. It was unusual, almost unconstitutional, thus to terminate the body they had created. Nevertheless, the Whigs, never too delicate in such matters, thought they had a chance, and determined not to lose it. One thing they immediately succeeded in, and that was, frightening their opponents. A dissolution with the Tories in opposition was not pleasant to that party; but a dissolution with a cry of "Cheap bread!" amid a partially starving population, was not exactly the conjuncture of providential circumstances which had long been watched and wished for, and cherished and coddled and proclaimed and promised, by the energetic army of Conservative wire-pullers.

Mr. Tadpole was very restless at the crowded Carlton, speaking to every one, unhesitatingly answering every question, alike cajoling and dictatorial, and yet, all the time, watching the door of the morning room with unquiet anxiety.

"They will never be able to get up the steam, Sir Thomas; the Chartists are against them. The Chartists will never submit to anything that is cheap. In spite of their wild fancies, they are real John Bulls. I beg your pardon, but I see a gentleman I must speak to," and he rushed towards the door as Waldershare entered.

"Well, what is your news?" asked Mr. Tadpole, affecting unconcern.

"I come here for news," said Waldershare. "This is my Academus, and you, Tadpole, are my Plato."

"Well, if you want the words of a wise man, listen to me. If I had a great friend, which Mr. Waldershare probably has, who wants a great place, these are times in which such a man should show his power."

"I have a great friend whom I wish to have a great place," said Waldershare, "and I think he is quite ready to show his power, if he knew exactly how to exercise it."

"What I am saying to you is not known to a single person in this room, and to only one out of it, but you may depend upon what I say. Lord Montfort's cousin retires from Northborough to sit for the county. They think they can nominate his successor as a matter of course. A delusion; your friend Lord Beaumaris can command the seat."

"Well, I think you can depend on Beaumaris," said Waldershare, much interested.

"I depend upon you," said Mr. Tadpole, with a glance of affectionate credulity. "The party already owes you much. This will be a crowning service."

"Beaumaris is rather a queer man to deal with," said Waldershare; "he requires gentle handling."

"All the world says he consults you on everything."

"All the world, as usual, is wrong," said Waldershare. "Lord Beaumaris consults no one except Lady Beaumaris."

"Well then we shall do," rejoined Mr. Tadpole triumphantly. "Our man that I want him to return is a connection of Lady Beaumaris, a Mr. Rodney, very anxious to get into parliament, and rich. I do not know who he is exactly, but it is a good name; say a cousin of Lord Rodney until the election is over, and then they may settle it as they like."

"A Mr. Rodney," said Waldershare musingly; "well, if I hear anything I will let you know. I suppose you are in pretty good spirits?"

"I should like a little sunshine. A cold spring, and now a wet summer, and the certainty of a shocking harvest combined with manufacturing distress spreading daily, is not pleasant, but the English are a discriminating people. They will hardly persuade them that Sir Robert has occasioned the bad harvests."

"The present men are clearly responsible for all that," said Waldershare.

There was a reception at Lady Roehampton's this evening. Very few Tories attended it, but Lady Beaumaris was there. She never lost an opportunity of showing by her presence how grateful she was to Myra for the kindness which had greeted Imogene when she first entered society. Endymion, as was his custom when the opportunity offered, rather hung about Lady Beaumaris. She always welcomed him with unaffected cordiality and evident pleasure. He talked to her, and then gave way to others, and then came and talked to her again, and then he proposed to take her to have a cup of tea, and she assented to the proposal with a brightening eye and a bewitching smile.

"I suppose your friends are very triumphant, Lady Beaumaris?" said Endymion.

"Yes; they naturally are very excited. I confess I am not myself."

"But you ought to be," said Endymion. "You will have an immense position. I should think Lord Beaumaris would have any office he chose, and yours will be the chief house of the party."

"I do not know that Lord Beaumaris would care to have office, and I hardly think any office would suit him. As for myself, I am obliged to be ambitious, but I have no ambition, or rather I would say, I think I was happier when we all seemed to be on the same side."

"Well, those were happy days," said Endymion, "and these are happy days. And few things make me happier than to see Lady Beaumaris admired and appreciated by every one."

"I wish you would not call me Lady Beaumaris. That may be, and indeed perhaps is, necessary in society, but when we are alone, I prefer being called by a name which once you always and kindly used."

"I shall always love the name," said Endymion, "and," he added with some hesitation, "shall always love her who bears it."

She involuntarily pressed his arm, though very slightly; and then in rather a hushed and hurried tone she said, "They were talking about you at dinner to-day. I fear this change of government, if there is to be one, will be injurious to you—losing your private secretaryship to Mr. Wilton, and perhaps other things?"

"Fortune of war," said Endymion; "we must bear these haps. But the truth is, I think it is not unlikely that there may be a change in my life which may be incompatible with retaining my secretaryship under any circumstances."

"You are not going to be married?" she said quickly.

"Not the slightest idea of such an event."

"You are too young to marry."

"Well, I am older than you."

"Yes; but men and women are different in that matter. Besides, you have too many fair friends to marry, at least at present. What would Lady Roehampton say?"

"Well, I have sometimes thought my sister wished me to marry."

"But then there are others who are not sisters, but who are equally interested in your welfare," said Lady Beaumaris, looking up into his face with her wondrous eyes; but the lashes were so long, that it was impossible to decide whether the glance was an anxious one or one half of mockery.

"Well, I do not think I shall ever marry," said Endymion. "The change in my life I was alluding to is one by no means of a romantic character. I have some thoughts of trying my luck on the hustings, and getting into parliament."

"That would be delightful," said Lady Beaumaris. "Do you know that it has been one of my dreams that you should be in parliament?"

"Ah! dearest Imogene, for you said I might call you Imogene, you must take care what you say. Remember we are unhappily in different camps. You must not wish me success in my enterprise; quite the reverse; it is more than probable that you will have to exert all your influence against me; yes, canvass against me, and wear hostile ribbons, and use all your irresistible charms to array electors against me, or to detach them from my ranks."

"Even in jest, you ought not to say such things," said Lady Beaumaris.

"But I am not in jest, I am in dreadful earnest. Only this morning I was offered a seat, which they told me was secure; but when I inquired into all the circumstances, I found the interest of Lord Beaumaris so great, that it would be folly for me to attempt it."

"What seat?" inquired Lady Beaumaris in a low voice.

"Northborough," said Endymion, "now held by Lord Montfort's cousin, who is to come in for his county. The seat was offered to me, and I was told I was to be returned without opposition."

"Lady Montfort offered it to you?" asked Imogene.

"She interested herself for me, and Lord Montfort approved the suggestion. It was described to me as a family seat, but when I looked into the matter, I found that Lord Beaumaris was more powerful than Lord Montfort."

"I thought that Lady Montfort was irresistible," said Imogene; "she carries all before her in society."

"Society and politics have much to do with each other, but they are not identical. In the present case, Lady Montfort is powerless."

"And have you formally abandoned the seat?" inquired Lady Beaumaris.

"Not formally abandoned it; that was not necessary, but I have dismissed it from my mind, and for some time have been trying to find another seat, but hitherto without success. In short, in these days it is no longer possible to step into parliament as if you were stepping into a club."

"If I could do anything, however little?" said Imogene. "Perhaps Lady Montfort would not like me to interfere?"

"Why not?"

"Oh! I do not know," and then after some hesitation she added, "Is she jealous?"

"Jealous! why should she be jealous?"

"Perhaps she has had no cause."

"You know Lady Montfort. She is a woman of quick and brilliant feeling, the best of friends and a dauntless foe. Her kindness to me from the first moment I made her acquaintance has been inexpressible, and I sincerely believe she is most anxious to serve me. But our party is not very popular at present; there is no doubt the country is against us. It is tired of us. I feel myself the general election will be disastrous. Liberal seats are not abundant just now, quite the reverse, and though Lady Montfort has done more than any one could under the circumstances, I feel persuaded, though you think her irresistible, she will not succeed."

"I hardly know her," said Imogene. "The world considers her irresistible, and I think you do. Nevertheless, I wish she could have had her way in this matter, and I think it quite a pity that Northborough has turned out not to be a family seat."



CHAPTER LXX

There was a dinner-party at Mr. Neuchatel's, to which none were asked but the high government clique. It was the last dinner before the dissolution: "The dinner of consolation, or hope," said Lord Roehampton. Lady Montfort was to be one of the guests. She was dressed, and her carriage in the courtyard, and she had just gone in to see her lord before she departed.

Lord Montfort was extremely fond of jewels, and held that you could not see them to advantage, or fairly judge of their water or colour, except on a beautiful woman. When his wife was in grand toilette, and he was under the same roof, he liked her to call on him in her way to her carriage, that he might see her flashing rivieres and tiaras, the lustre of her huge pearls, and the splendour of her emeralds and sapphires and rubies.

"Well, Berengaria," he said in a playful tone, "you look divine. Never dine out again in a high dress. It distresses me. Bertolini was the only man who ever caught the tournure of your shoulders, and yet I am not altogether satisfied with his work. So, you are going to dine with that good Neuchatel. Remember me kindly to him. There are few men I like better. He is so sensible, knows so much, and so much of what is going on. I should have liked very much to have dined with him, but he is aware of my unfortunate state. Besides, my dear, if I were better I should not have enough strength for his dinners. They are really banquets; I cannot stand those ortolans stuffed with truffles and those truffles stuffed with ortolans. Perhaps he will come and dine with us some day off a joint."

"The Queen of Mesopotamia will be here next week, Simon, and we must really give her what you call a joint, and then we can ask the Neuchatels and a few other people."

"I was in hopes the dissolution would have carried everybody away," said Lord Montfort rather woefully. "I wish the Queen of Mesopotamia were a candidate for some borough; I think she would rather like it."

"Well, we could not return her, Simon; do not touch on the subject. But what have you got to amuse to-day?"

"Oh! I shall do very well. I have got the head of the French detective police to dine with me, and another man or two. Besides, I have got here a most amusing book, 'Topsy Turvy;' it comes out in numbers. I like books that come out in numbers, as there is a little suspense, and you cannot deprive yourself of all interest by glancing at the last page of the last volume. I think you must read 'Topsy Turvy,' Berengaria. I am mistaken if you do not hear of it. It is very cynical, which authors, who know a little of the world, are apt to be, and everything is exaggerated, which is another of their faults when they are only a trifle acquainted with manners. A little knowledge of the world is a very dangerous thing, especially in literature. But it is clever, and the man writes a capital style; and style is everything, especially in fiction."

"And what is the name of the writer, Simon?"

"You never heard of it; I never did; but my secretary, who lives much in Bohemia, and is a member of the Cosmopolitan and knows everything, tells me he has written some things before, but they did not succeed. His name is St. Barbe. I should like to ask him to dinner if I knew how to get at him."

"Well, adieu! Simon," and, with an agitated heart, though apparent calmness, she touched his forehead with her lips. "I expect an unsatisfactory dinner."

"Adieu! and if you meet poor Ferrars, which I dare say you will, tell him to keep up his spirits. The world is a wheel, and it will all come round right."

The dinner ought not to have been unsatisfactory, for though there was no novelty among the guests, they were all clever and distinguished persons and united by entire sympathy. Several of the ministers were there, and the Roehamptons, and Mr. Sidney Wilton, and Endymion was also a guest. But the general tone was a little affected and unnatural; forced gaiety, and a levity which displeased Lady Montfort, who fancied she was unhappy because the country was going to be ruined, but whose real cause of dissatisfaction at the bottom of her heart was the affair of "the family seat." Her hero, Lord Roehampton, particularly did not please her to-day. She thought him flippant and in bad taste, merely because he would not look dismal and talk gloomily.

"I think we shall do very well," he said. "What cry can be better than that of 'Cheap bread?' It gives one an appetite at once."

"But the Corn-Law League says your bread will not be cheap," said Melchior Neuchatel.

"I wonder whether the League has really any power in the constituencies," said Lord Roehampton. "I doubt it. They may have in time, but then in the interval trade will revive. I have just been reading Mr. Thornberry's speech. We shall hear more of that man. You will not be troubled about any of your seats?" he said, in a lower tone of sympathy, addressing Mrs. Neuchatel, who was his immediate neighbour.

"Our seats?" said Mrs. Neuchatel, as if waking from a dream. "Oh, I know nothing about them, nor do I understand why there is a dissolution. I trust that parliament will not be dissolved without voting the money for the observation of the transit of Venus."

"I think the Roman Catholic vote will carry us through," said a minister.

"Talking of Roman Catholics," said Mr. Wilton, "is it true that Penruddock has gone over to Rome?"

"No truth in it," replied a colleague. "He has gone to Rome—there is no doubt of that, and he has been there some time, but only for distraction. He had overworked himself."

"He might have been a Dean if he had been a practical man," whispered Lady Montfort to Mr. Neuchatel, "and on the high road to a bishopric."

"That is what we want, Lady Montfort," said Mr. Neuchatel; "we want a few practical men. If we had a practical man as Chancellor of the Exchequer, we should not be in the scrape in which we now are."

"It is not likely that Penruddock will leave the Church with a change of government possibly impending. We could do nothing for him with his views, but he will wait for Peel."

"Oh! Peel will never stand those high-fliers. He put the Church into a Lay Commission during his last government."

"Penruddock will never give up Anglicanism while there is a chance of becoming a Laud. When that chance vanishes, trust my word, Penruddock will make his bow to the Vatican."

"Well, I must say," said Lord Roehampton, "if I were a clergyman I should be a Roman Catholic."

"Then you could not marry. What a compliment to Lady Roehampton!"

"Nay; it is because I could not marry that I am not a clergyman."

Endymion had taken Adriana down to dinner. She looked very well, and was more talkative than usual.

"I fear it will be a very great confusion—this general election," she said. "Papa was telling us that you think of being a candidate."

"I am a candidate, but without a seat to captivate at present," said Endymion; "but I am not without hopes of making some arrangement."

"Well, you must tell me what your colours are."

"And will you wear them?"

"Most certainly; and I will work you a banner if you be victorious."

"I think I must win with such a prospect."

"I hope you will win in everything."

When the ladies retired, Berengaria came and sate by the side of Lady Roehampton.

"What a dreary dinner!" she said.

"Do you think so?"

"Well, perhaps it was my own fault. Perhaps I am not in good cue, but everything seems to me to go wrong."

"Things sometimes do go wrong, but then they get right."

"Well, I do not think anything will ever get right with me."

"Dear Lady Montfort, how can you say such things? You who have, and have always had, the world at your feet—and always will have."

"I do not know what you mean by having the world at my feet. It seems to me that I have no power whatever—I can do nothing. I am vexed about this business of your brother. Our people are so stupid. They have no resource. When I go to them and ask for a seat, I expect a seat, as I would a shawl at Howell and James' if I asked for one. Instead of that they only make difficulties. What our party wants is a Mr. Tadpole; he out-manoeuvres them in every corner."

"Well, I shall be deeply disappointed—deeply pained," said Lady Roehampton, "if Endymion is not in this parliament, but if we fail I will not utterly despair. I will continue to do what I have done all my life, exert my utmost will and power to advance him."

"I thought I had will and power," said Lady Montfort, "but the conceit is taken out of me. Your brother was to me a source of great interest, from the first moment that I knew him. His future was an object in life, and I thought I could mould it. What a mistake! Instead of making his fortune I have only dissipated his life."

"You have been to him the kindest and the most valuable of friends, and he feels it."

"It is no use being kind, and I am valuable to no one. I often think if I disappeared to-morrow no one would miss me."

"You are in a morbid mood, dear lady. To-morrow perhaps everything will be right, and then you will feel that you are surrounded by devoted friends, and by a husband who adores you."

Lady Montfort gave a scrutinising glance at Lady Roehampton as she said this, then shook her head. "Ah! there it is, dear Myra. You judge from your own happiness; you do not know Lord Montfort. You know how I love him, but I am perfectly convinced he prefers my letters to my society."

"You see what it is to be a Madame de Sevigne," said Lady Roehampton, trying to give a playful tone to the conversation.

"You jest," said Lady Montfort; "I am quite serious. No one can deceive me; would that they could! I have the fatal gift of reading persons, and penetrating motives, however deep or complicated their character, and what I tell you about Lord Montfort is unhappily too true."

In the meantime, while this interesting conversation was taking place, the gentleman who had been the object of Lady Montfort's eulogium, the gentleman who always out-manoeuvred her friends at every corner, was, though it was approaching midnight, walking up and down Carlton Terrace with an agitated and indignant countenance, and not alone.

"I tell you, Mr. Waldershare, I know it; I have it almost from Lord Beaumaris himself; he has declined to support our man, and no doubt will give his influence to the enemy."

"I do not believe that Lord Beaumaris has made any engagement whatever."

"A pretty state of affairs!" exclaimed Mr. Tadpole. "I do not know what the world has come to. Here are gentlemen expecting high places in the Household, and under-secretaryships of state, and actually giving away our seats to our opponents."

"There is some family engagement about this seat between the Houses of Beaumaris and Montfort, and Lord Beaumaris, who is a young man, and who does not know as much about these things as you and I do, naturally wants not to make a mistake. But he has promised nothing and nobody. I know, I might almost say I saw the letter, that he wrote to Lord Montfort this day, asking for an interview to-morrow morning on the matter, and Lord Montfort has given him an appointment for to-morrow. This I know."

"Well, I must leave it to you," said Mr. Tadpole. "You must remember what we are fighting for. The constitution is at stake."

"And the Church," said Waldershare.

"And the landed interest, you may rely upon it," said Mr. Tadpole.

"And your Lordship of the Treasury in posse, Tadpole. Truly it is a great stake."



CHAPTER LXXI

The interview between the heads of the two great houses of Montfort and Beaumaris, on which the fate of a ministry might depend, for it should always be recollected that it was only by a majority of one that Sir Robert Peel had necessitated the dissolution of parliament, was not carried on exactly in the spirit and with the means which would have occurred to and been practised by the race of Tadpoles and Tapers.

Lord Beaumaris was a very young man, handsome, extremely shy, and one who had only very recently mixed with the circle in which he was born. It was under the influence of Imogene that, in soliciting an interview with Lord Montfort, he had taken for him an unusual, not to say unprecedented step. He had conjured up to himself in Lord Montfort the apparition of a haughty Whig peer, proud of his order, prouder of his party, and not over-prejudiced in favour of one who had quitted those sacred ranks, freezing with arrogant reserve and condescending politeness. In short, Lord Beaumaris was extremely nervous when, ushered by many servants through many chambers, there came forward to receive him the most sweetly mannered gentleman alive, who not only gave him his hand, but retained his guest's, saying, "We are a sort of cousins, I believe, and ought to have been acquainted before, but you know perhaps my wretched state," though what that was nobody exactly did know, particularly as Lord Montfort was sometimes seen wading in streams breast-high while throwing his skilful line over the rushing waters. "I remember your grandfather," he said, "and with good cause. He pouched me at Harrow, and it was the largest pouch I ever had. One does not forget the first time one had a five-pound note."

And then when Lord Beaumaris, blushing and with much hesitation, had stated the occasion of his asking for the interview that they might settle together about the representation of Northborough in harmony with the old understanding between the families which he trusted would always be maintained, Lord Montfort assured him that he was personally obliged to him by his always supporting Odo, regretted that Odo would retire, and then said if Lord Beaumaris had any brother, cousin, or friend to bring forward, he need hardly say Lord Beaumaris might count upon him. "I am a Whig," he continued, "and so was your father, but I am not particularly pleased with the sayings and doings of my people. Between ourselves, I think they have been in a little too long, and if they do anything very strong, if, for instance, they give office to O'Connell, I should not be at all surprised if I were myself to sit on the cross benches."

It seems there was no member of the Beaumaris family who wished at this juncture to come forward, and being assured of this, Lord Montfort remarked there was a young man of promise who much wished to enter the House of Commons, not unknown, he believed, to Lord Beaumaris, and that was Mr. Ferrars. He was the son of a distinguished man, now departed, who in his day had been a minister of state. Lord Montfort was quite ready to support Mr. Ferrars, if Lord Beaumaris approved of the selection, but he placed himself entirely in his hands.

Lord Beaumaris, blushing, said he quite approved of the selection; knew Mr. Ferrars very well, and liked him very much; and if Lord Montfort sanctioned it, would speak to Mr. Ferrars himself. He believed Mr. Ferrars was a Liberal, but he agreed with Lord Montfort, that in these days gentlemen must be all of the same opinion if not on the same side, and so on. And then they talked of fishing appropriately to a book of very curious flies that was on the table, and they agreed if possible to fish together in some famous waters that Lord Beaumaris had in Hampshire, and then, as he was saying farewell, Lord Montfort added, "Although I never pay visits, because really in my wretched state I cannot, there is no reason why our wives should not know each other. Will you permit Lady Montfort to have the honour of paying her respects to Lady Beaumaris?"

Talleyrand or Metternich could not have conducted an interview more skilfully. But these were just the things that Lord Montfort did not dislike doing. His great good nature was not disturbed by a single inconvenient circumstance, and he enjoyed the sense of his adroitness.

The same day the cards of Lord and Lady Montfort were sent to Piccadilly Terrace, and on the next day the cards of Lord and Lady Beaumaris were returned to Montfort House. And on the following day, Lady Montfort, accompanied by Lady Roehampton, would find Lady Beaumaris at home, and after a charming visit, in which Lady Montfort, though natural to the last degree, displayed every quality which could fascinate even a woman, when she put her hand in that of Imogene to say farewell, added, "I am delighted to find that we are cousins."

A few days after this interview, parliament was dissolved. It was the middle of a wet June, and the season received its coup de grace. Although Endymion had no rival, and apparently no prospect of a contest, his labours as a candidate were not slight. The constituency was numerous, and every member of it expected to be called upon. To each Mr. Ferrars had to expound his political views, and to receive from each a cordial assurance of a churlish criticism. All this he did and endured, accompanied by about fifty of the principal inhabitants, members of his committee, who insisted on never leaving his side, and prompting him at every new door which he entered with contradictory reports of the political opinions of the indweller, or confidential informations how they were to be managed and addressed.

The principal and most laborious incidents of the day were festivals which they styled luncheons, when the candidate and the ambulatory committee were quartered on some principal citizen with an elaborate banquet of several courses, and in which Mr. Ferrars' health was always pledged in sparkling bumpers. After the luncheon came two or three more hours of what was called canvassing; then, in a state of horrible repletion, the fortunate candidate, who had no contest, had to dine with another principal citizen, with real turtle soup, and gigantic turbots, entrees in the shape of volcanic curries, and rigid venison, sent as a compliment by a neighbouring peer. This last ceremony was necessarily hurried, as Endymion had every night to address in some ward a body of the electors.

When this had been going on for a few days, the borough was suddenly placarded with posting bills in colossal characters of true blue, warning the Conservative electors not to promise their votes, as a distinguished candidate of the right sort would certainly come forward. At the same time there was a paragraph in a local journal that a member of a noble family, illustrious in the naval annals of the country, would, if sufficiently supported, solicit the suffrages of the independent electors.

"We think, by the allusion to the navy, that it must be Mr. Hood of Acreley," said Lord Beaumaris' agent to Mr. Ferrars, "but he has not the ghost of a chance. I will ride over and see him in the course of the day."

This placard was of course Mr. Tadpole's last effort, but that worthy gentleman soon forgot his mortification about Northborough in the general triumph of his party. The Whigs were nowhere, though Mr. Ferrars was returned without opposition, and in the month of August, still wondering at the rapid, strange, and even mysterious incidents, that had so suddenly and so swiftly changed his position and prospects in life, took his seat in that House in whose galleries he had so long humbly attended as the private secretary of a cabinet minister.

His friends were still in office, though the country had sent up a majority of ninety against them, and Endymion took his seat behind the Treasury bench, and exactly behind Lord Roehampton. The debate on the address was protracted for three nights, and then they divided at three o'clock in the morning, and then all was over. Lord Roehampton, who had vindicated the ministry with admirable vigour and felicity, turned round to Endymion, and smiling said in the sweetest tone, "I did not enlarge on our greatest feat, namely, that we had governed the country for two years without a majority. Peel would never have had the pluck to do that."

Notwithstanding the backsliding of Lord Beaumaris and the unprincipled conduct of Mr. Waldershare, they were both rewarded as the latter gentleman projected—Lord Beaumaris accepted a high post in the Household, and Mr. Waldershare was appointed Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Tadpole was a little glum about it, but it was inevitable. "The fact is," as the world agreed, "Lady Beaumaris is the only Tory woman. They have nobody who can receive except her."

The changes in the House of Commons were still greater than those in the administration. Never were so many new members, and Endymion watched them, during the first days, and before the debate on the address, taking the oaths at the table in batches with much interest. Mr. Bertie Tremaine was returned, and his brother, Mr. Tremaine Bertie. Job Thornberry was member for a manufacturing town, with which he was not otherwise connected. Hortensius was successful, and Mr. Vigo for a metropolitan borough, but what pleased Endymion more than anything was the return of his valued friend Trenchard, who a short time before had acceded to the paternal estate; all these gentlemen were Liberals, and were destined to sit on the same side of the House as Endymion.

After the fatal vote, the Whigs all left town. Society in general had been greatly dispersed, but parliament had to remain sitting until October.

"We are going to Princedown," Lady Montfort said one day to Endymion, "and we had counted on seeing you there, but I have been thinking much of your position since, and I am persuaded, that we must sacrifice pleasure to higher objects. This is really a crisis in your life, and much, perhaps everything, depends on your not making a mistake now. What I want to see you is a great statesman. This is a political economy parliament, both sides alike thinking of the price of corn and all that. Finance and commerce are everybody's subjects, and are most convenient to make speeches about for men who cannot speak French and who have had no education. Real politics are the possession and distribution of power. I want to see you give your mind to foreign affairs. There you will have no rivals. There are a great many subjects which Lord Roehampton cannot take up, but which you could very properly, and you will have always the benefit of his counsel, and, when necessary, his parliamentary assistance; but foreign affairs are not to be mastered by mere reading. Bookworms do not make chancellors of state. You must become acquainted with the great actors in the great scene. There is nothing like personal knowledge of the individuals who control the high affairs. That has made the fortune of Lord Roehampton. What I think you ought to do, without doubt ought to do, is to take advantage of this long interval before the meeting of parliament, and go to Paris. Paris is now the Capital of Diplomacy. It is not the best time of the year to go there, but you will meet a great many people of the diplomatic world, and if the opportunity offers, you can vary the scene, and go to some baths which princes and ministers frequent. The Count of Ferroll is now at Paris, and minister for his court. You know him; that is well. But he is my greatest friend, and, as you know, we habitually correspond. He will do everything for you, I am sure, for my sake. It is not pleasant to be separated; I do not wish to conceal that; I should have enjoyed your society at Princedown, but I am doing right, and you will some day thank me for it. We must soften the pang of separation by writing to each other every day, so when we meet again it will only be as if we had parted yesterday. Besides—who knows?—I may run over myself to Paris in the winter. My lord always liked Paris; the only place he ever did, but I am not very sanguine he will go; he is so afraid of being asked to dinner by our ambassador."



CHAPTER LXXII

In all lives, the highest and the humblest, there is a crisis in the formation of character, and in the bent of the disposition. It comes from many causes, and from some which on the surface are apparently even trivial. It may be a book, a speech, a sermon; a man or a woman; a great misfortune or a burst of prosperity. But the result is the same; a sudden revelation to ourselves of our secret purpose, and a recognition of our perhaps long shadowed, but now masterful convictions.

A crisis of this kind occurred to Endymion the day when he returned to his chambers, after having taken the oaths and his seat in the House of Commons. He felt the necessity of being alone. For nearly the last three months he had been the excited actor in a strange and even mysterious drama. There had been for him no time to reflect; all he could aim at was to comprehend, and if possible control, the present and urgent contingency; he had been called upon, almost unceasingly, to do or to say something sudden and unexpected; and it was only now, when the crest of the ascent had been reached, that he could look around him and consider the new world opening to his gaze.

The greatest opportunity that can be offered to an Englishman was now his—a seat in the House of Commons. It was his almost in the first bloom of youth, and yet after advantageous years of labour and political training, and it was combined with a material independence on which he never could have counted. A love of power, a passion for distinction, a noble pride, which had been native to his early disposition, but which had apparently been crushed by the enormous sorrows and misfortunes of his childhood, and which had vanished, as it were, before the sweetness of that domestic love which had been the solace of his adversity, now again stirred their dim and mighty forms in his renovated, and, as it were, inspired consciousness. "If this has happened at twenty-two," thought Endymion, "what may not occur if the average life of man be allotted to me? At any rate, I will never think of anything else. I have a purpose in life, and I will fulfil it. It is a charm that its accomplishment would be the most grateful result to the two beings I most love in the world."

So when Lady Montfort shortly after opened her views to Endymion as to his visiting Paris, and his purpose in so doing, the seeds were thrown on a willing soil, and he embraced her counsels with the deepest interest. His intimacy with the Count of Ferroll was the completing event of this epoch of his life.

Their acquaintance had been slight in England, for after the Montfort Tournament the Count had been appointed to Paris, where he was required; but he received Endymion with a cordiality which contrasted with his usual demeanour, which, though frank, was somewhat cynical.

"This is not a favourable time to visit Paris," he said, "so far as society is concerned. There is some business stirring in the diplomatic world, which has re-assembled the fraternity for the moment, and the King is at St. Cloud, but you may make some acquaintances which may be desirable, and at any rate look about you and clear the ground for the coming season. I do not despair of our dear friend coming over in the winter. It is one of the hopes that keep me alive. What a woman! You may count yourself fortunate in having such a friend. I do. I am not particularly fond of female society. Women chatter too much. But I prefer the society of a first-rate woman to that of any man; and Lady Montfort is a first-rate woman—I think the greatest since Louise of Savoy; infinitely beyond the Princess d'Ursins."

The "business that was then stirring in the diplomatic world," at a season when the pleasures of Parisian society could not distract him, gave Endymion a rare opportunity of studying that singular class of human beings which is accustomed to consider states and nations as individuals, and speculate on their quarrels and misunderstandings, and the remedies which they require, in a tongue peculiar to themselves, and in language which often conveys a meaning exactly opposite to that which it seems to express. Diplomacy is hospitable, and a young Englishman of graceful mien, well introduced, and a member of the House of Commons—that awful assembly which produces those dreaded blue books which strike terror in the boldest of foreign statesmen—was not only received, but courted, in the interesting circle in which Endymion found himself.

There he encountered men grey with the fame and wisdom of half a century of deep and lofty action, men who had struggled with the first Napoleon, and had sat in the Congress of Vienna; others, hardly less celebrated, who had been suddenly borne to high places by the revolutionary wave of 1830, and who had justly retained their exalted posts when so many competitors with an equal chance had long ago, with equal justice, subsided into the obscurity from which they ought never to have emerged. Around these chief personages were others not less distinguished by their abilities, but a more youthful generation, who knew how to wait, and were always prepared or preparing for the inevitable occasion when it arrived—fine and trained writers, who could interpret in sentences of graceful adroitness the views of their chiefs; or sages in precedents, walking dictionaries of diplomacy, and masters of every treaty; and private secretaries reading human nature at a glance, and collecting every shade of opinion for the use and guidance of their principals.

Whatever their controversies in the morning, their critical interviews and their secret alliances, all were smiles and graceful badinage at the banquet and the reception; as if they had only come to Paris to show their brilliant uniforms, their golden fleeces, and their grand crosses, and their broad ribbons with more tints than the iris.

"I will not give them ten years," said the Count of Ferroll, lighting his cigarette, and addressing Endymion on their return from one of these assemblies; "I sometimes think hardly five."

"But where will the blow come from?"

"Here; there is no movement in Europe except in France, and here it will always be a movement of subversion."

"A pretty prospect!"

"The sooner you realise it the better. The system here is supported by journalists and bankers; two influential classes, but the millions care for neither; rather, I should say, dislike both."

"Will the change affect Europe?"

"Inevitably. You rightly say Europe, for that is a geographical expression. There is no State in Europe; I exclude your own country, which belongs to every division of the globe, and is fast becoming more commercial than political, and I exclude Russia, for she is essentially oriental, and her future will be entirely the East."

"But there is Germany!"

"Where? I cannot find it on the maps. Germany is divided into various districts, and when there is a war, they are ranged on different sides. Notwithstanding our reviews and annual encampments, Germany is practically as weak as Italy. We have some kingdoms who are allowed to play at being first-rate powers; but it is mere play. They no more command events than the King of Naples or the Duke of Modena."

"Then is France periodically to overrun Europe?"

"So long as it continues to be merely Europe."

A close intimacy occurred between Endymion and the Count of Ferroll. He not only became a permanent guest at the official residence, but when the Conference broke up, the Count invited Endymion to be his companion to some celebrated baths, where they would meet not only many of his late distinguished colleagues, but their imperial and royal masters, seeking alike health and relaxation at this famous rendezvous.

"You will find it of the first importance in public life," said the Count of Ferroll, "to know personally those who are carrying on the business of the world; so much depends on the character of an individual, his habits of thought, his prejudices, his superstitions, his social weaknesses, his health. Conducting affairs without this advantage is, in effect, an affair of stationery; it is pens and paper who are in communication, not human beings."

The brother-in-law of Lord Roehampton was a sort of personage. It was very true that distinguished man was no longer minister, but he had been minister for a long time, and had left a great name. Foreigners rarely know more than one English minister at a time, but they compensated for their ignorance of the aggregate body by even exaggerating the qualities of the individual with whom they are acquainted. Lord Roehampton had conducted the affairs of his country always in a courteous, but still in a somewhat haughty spirit. He was easy and obliging, and conciliatory in little matters, but where the credit, or honour, or large interests of England were concerned, he acted with conscious authority. On the continent of Europe, though he sometimes incurred the depreciation of the smaller minds, whose self-love he may not have sufficiently spared, by the higher spirits he was feared and admired, and they knew, when he gave his whole soul to an affair, that they were dealing with a master.

Endymion was presented to emperors and kings, and he made his way with these exalted personages. He found them different from what he had expected. He was struck by their intimate acquaintance with affairs, and by the serenity of their judgment. The life was a pleasant as well as an interesting one. Where there are crowned heads, there are always some charming women. Endymion found himself in a delightful circle. Long days and early hours, and a beautiful country, renovate the spirit as well as the physical frame. Excursions to romantic forests, and visits to picturesque ruins, in the noon of summer, are enchanting, especially with princesses for your companions, bright and accomplished. Yet, notwithstanding some distractions, Endymion never omitted writing to Lady Montfort every day.



CHAPTER LXXIII

The season at Paris, which commenced towards the end of the year, was a lively one, and especially interesting to Endymion, who met there a great many of his friends. After his visit to the baths he had travelled alone for a few weeks, and saw some famous places of which he had long heard. A poet was then sitting on the throne of Bavaria, and was realising his dreams in the creation of an ideal capital. The Black Forest is a land of romance. He saw Walhalla, too, crowning the Danube with the genius of Germany, as mighty as the stream itself. Pleasant it is to wander among the quaint cities here clustering together: Nuremberg with all its ancient art, imperial Augsburg, and Wurzburg with its priestly palace, beyond the splendour of many kings. A summer in Suabia is a great joy.

But what a contrast to the Rue de la Paix, bright and vivacious, in which he now finds himself, and the companion of the Neuchatel family! Endymion had only returned to Paris the previous evening, and the Neuchatels had preceded him by a week; so they had seen everybody and could tell him everything. Lord and Lady Beaumaris were there, and Mrs. Rodney their companion, her husband detained in London by some mysterious business; it was thought a seat in parliament, which Mr. Tadpole had persuaded him might be secured on a vacancy occasioned by a successful petition. They had seen the Count of Ferroll, who was going to dine with them that day, and Endymion was invited to meet him. It was Adriana's first visit to Paris, and she seemed delighted with it; but Mrs. Neuchatel preferred the gay capital when it was out of season. Mr. Neuchatel himself was always in high spirits,—sanguine and self-satisfied. He was an Orleanist, had always been so, and sympathised with the apparently complete triumph of his principles—"real liberal principles, no nonsense; there was more gold in the Bank of France than in any similar establishment in Europe. After all, wealth is the test of the welfare of a people, and the test of wealth is the command of the precious metals. Eh! Mr. Member of Parliament?" And his eye flashed fire, and he seemed to smack his lips at the very thought and mention of these delicious circumstances.

They were in a jeweller's shop, and Mrs. Neuchatel was choosing a trinket for a wedding present. She seemed infinitely distressed. "What do you think of this, Adriana? It is simple and in good taste. I should like it for myself, and yet I fear it might not be thought fine enough."

"This is pretty, mamma, and new," and she held before her mother a bracelet of much splendour.

"Oh, no! that will never do, dear Adriana; they will say we are purse-proud."

"I am afraid they will always say that, mamma," and she sighed.

"It is a long time since we all separated," said Endymion to Adriana.

"Months! Mr. Sidney Wilton said you were the first runaway. I think you were quite right. Your new life now will be fresh to you. If you had remained, it would only have been associated with defeat and discomfiture."

"I am so happy to be in parliament, that I do not think I could ever associate such a life with discomfiture."

"Does it make you very happy?" said Adriana, looking at him rather earnestly.

"Very happy."

"I am glad of that."

The Neuchatels had a house at Paris—one of the fine hotels of the First Empire. It was inhabited generally by one of the nephews, but it was always ready to receive them with every luxury and every comfort. But Mrs. Neuchatel herself particularly disliked Paris, and she rarely accompanied her husband in his frequent but brief visits to the gay city. She had yielded on this occasion to the wish of Adriana, whom she had endeavoured to bring up in a wholesome prejudice against French taste and fashions.

The dinner to-day was exquisite, in a chamber of many-coloured marbles, and where there was no marble there was gold, and when the banquet was over, they repaired to saloons hung with satin of a delicate tint which exhibited to perfection a choice collection of Greuse and Vanloo. Mr. Sidney Wilton dined there as well as the Count of Ferroll, some of the French ministers, and two or three illustrious Orleanist celebrities of literature, who acknowledged and emulated the matchless conversational powers of Mrs. Neuchatel. Lord and Lady Beaumaris and Mrs. Rodney completed the party.

Sylvia was really peerless. She was by birth half a Frenchwoman, and she compensated for her deficiency in the other moiety, by a series of exquisite costumes, in which she mingled with the spell-born fashion of France her own singular genius in dress. She spoke not much, but looked prettier than ever; a little haughty, and now and then faintly smiling. What was most remarkable about her was her convenient and complete want of memory. Sylvia had no past. She could not have found her way to Warwick Street to save her life. She conversed with Endymion with ease and not without gratification, but from all she said, you might have supposed that they had been born in the same sphere, and always lived in the same sphere, that sphere being one peopled by duchesses and countesses and gentlemen of fashion and ministers of state.

Lady Beaumaris was different from her sister almost in all respects, except in beauty, though her beauty even was of a higher style than that of Mrs. Rodney. Imogene was quite natural, though refined. She had a fine disposition. All her impulses were good and naturally noble. She had a greater intellectual range than Sylvia, and was much more cultivated. This she owed to her friendship with Mr. Waldershare, who was entirely devoted to her, and whose main object in life was to make everything contribute to her greatness. "I hope he will come here next week," she said to Endymion. "I heard from him to-day. He is at Venice. And he gives me such lovely descriptions of that city, that I shall never rest till I have seen it and glided in a gondola."

"Well, that you can easily do."

"Not so easily. It will never do to interfere with my lord's hunting—and when hunting is over there is always something else—Newmarket, or the House of Lords, or rook-shooting."

"I must say there is something delightful about Paris, which you meet nowhere else," said Mr. Sidney Wilton to Endymion. "For my part, it has the same effect on me as a bottle of champagne. When I think of what we were doing at this time last year—those dreadful November cabinets—I shudder! By the by, the Count of Ferroll says there is a chance of Lady Montfort coming here; have you heard anything?"

Endymion knew all about it, but he was too discreet even to pretend to exclusive information on that head. He thought it might be true, but supposed it depended on my lord.

"Oh! Montfort will never come. He will bolt at the last moment when the hall is full of packages. Their very sight will frighten him, and he will steal down to Princedown and read 'Don Quixote.'"

Sidney Wilton was quite right. Lady Montfort arrived without her lord. "He threw me over almost as we were getting into the carriage, and I had quite given it up when dear Lady Roehampton came to my rescue. She wanted to see her brother, and—here we are."

The arrival of these two great ladies gave a stimulant to gaieties which were already excessive. The court and the ministers rivalled the balls and the banquets which were profusely offered by the ambassadors and bankers. Even the great faubourg relaxed, and its halls of high ceremony and mysterious splendour were opened to those who in London had extended to many of their order a graceful and abounding hospitality. It was with difficulty, however, that they persuaded Lady Montfort to honour with her presence the embassy of her own court.

"I dined with those people once," she said to Endymion, "but I confess when I thought of those dear Granvilles, their entrees stuck in my throat."

There was, however, no lack of diplomatic banquets for the successor of Louise of Savoy. The splendid hotel of the Count of Ferroll was the scene of festivals not to be exceeded in Paris, and all in honour of this wondrous dame. Sometimes they were feasts, sometimes they were balls, sometimes they were little dinners, consummate and select, sometimes large receptions, multifarious and amusing. Her pleasure was asked every morn, and whenever she was disengaged, she issued orders to his devoted household. His boxes at opera or play were at her constant disposal; his carriages were at her command, and she rode, in his society, the most beautiful horses in Paris.

The Count of Ferroll had wished that both ladies should have taken up their residence at his mansion.

"But I think we had better not," said Lady Montfort to Myra. "After all, there is nothing like 'my crust of bread and liberty,' and so I think we had better stay at the Bristol."



CHAPTER LXXIV

"Go and talk to Adriana," said Lady Roehampton to her brother. "It seems to me you never speak to her."

Endymion looked a little confused.

"Lady Montfort has plenty of friends here," his sister continued. "You are not wanted, and you should always remember those who have been our earliest and kindest friends."

There was something in Lady Roehampton's words and look which rather jarred upon him. Anything like reproach or dissatisfaction from those lips and from that countenance, sometimes a little anxious but always affectionate, not to say adoring, confused and even agitated him. He was tempted to reply, but, exercising successfully the self-control which was the result rather of his life than of his nature, he said nothing, and, in obedience to the intimation, immediately approached Miss Neuchatel.

About this time Waldershare arrived at Paris, full of magnificent dreams which he called plans. He was delighted with his office; it was much the most important in the government, and more important because it was not in the cabinet. Well managed, it was power without responsibility. He explained to Lady Beaumaris that an Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with his chief in the House of Lords, was "master of the situation." What the situation was, and what the under-secretary was to master, he did not yet deign to inform Imogene; but her trust in Waldershare was implicit, and she repeated to Lord Beaumaris, and to Mrs. Rodney, with an air of mysterious self-complacency, that Mr. Waldershare was "master of the situation." Mrs. Rodney fancied that this was the correct and fashionable title of an under-secretary of state. Mr. Waldershare was going to make a collection of portraits of Under-Secretaries for Foreign Affairs whose chiefs had been in the House of Lords. It would be a collection of the most eminent statesmen that England had ever produced. For the rest, during his Italian tour, Waldershare seemed to have conducted himself with distinguished discretion, and had been careful not to solicit an audience of the Duke of Modena in order to renew his oath of allegiance.

When Lady Montfort successfully tempted Lady Roehampton to be her travelling companion to Paris, the contemplated visit was to have been a short one—"a week, perhaps ten days at the outside." The outside had been not inconsiderably passed, and yet the beautiful Berengaria showed no disposition of returning to England. Myra was uneasy at her own protracted absence from her lord, and having made a last, but fruitless effort to induce Lady Montfort to accompany her, she said one day to Endymion, "I think I must ask you to take me back. And indeed you ought to be with my lord some little time before the meeting of Parliament."

Endymion was really of the same opinion, though he was conscious of the social difficulty which he should have to encounter in order to effect his purpose. Occasionally a statesman in opposition is assisted by the same private secretary who was his confidant when in office; but this is not always the case—perhaps not even generally. In the present instance, the principal of Lord Roehampton's several secretaries had been selected from the permanent clerks in the Foreign Office itself, and therefore when his chief retired from his official duties, the private secretary resumed his previous post, an act which necessarily terminated all relations between himself and the late minister, save those of private, though often still intimate, acquaintance.

Now one of the great objects of Lady Roehampton for a long time had been, that her brother should occupy a confidential position near her husband. The desire had originally been shared, and even warmly, by Lady Montfort; but the unexpected entrance of Endymion into the House of Commons had raised a technical difficulty in this respect which seemed to terminate the cherished prospect. Myra, however, was resolved not to regard these technical difficulties, and was determined to establish at once the intimate relations she desired between her husband and her brother. This purpose had been one of the principal causes which induced her to accompany Lady Montfort to Paris. She wanted to see Endymion, to see what he was about, and to prepare him for the future which she contemplated.

The view which Lady Montfort took of these matters was very different from that of Lady Roehampton. Lady Montfort was in her riding habit, leaning back in an easy chair, with her whip in one hand and the "Charivari" in the other, and she said, "Are you not going to ride to-day, Endymion?"

"I think not. I wanted to talk to you a little about my plans, Lady Montfort."

"Your plans? Why should you have any plans?"

"Well, Lady Roehampton is about to return to England, and she proposes I should go with her."

"Why?"

And then Endymion entered into the whole case, the desirableness of being with Lord Roehampton before the meeting of parliament, of assisting him, working with him, acting for him, and all the other expedient circumstances of the situation.

Lady Montfort said nothing. Being of an eager nature, it was rather her habit to interrupt those who addressed her, especially on matters she deemed disagreeable. Her husband used to say, "Berengaria is a charming companion, but if she would only listen a little more, she would have so much more to tell me." On the present occasion, Endymion had no reason to complain that he had not a fair opportunity of stating his views and wishes. She was quite silent, changed colour occasionally, bit her beautiful lip, and gently but constantly lashed her beautiful riding habit. When he paused, she inquired if he had done, and he assenting, she said, "I think the whole thing preposterous. What can Lord Roehampton have to do before the meeting of parliament? He has not got to write the Queen's speech. The only use of being in opposition is that we may enjoy ourselves. The best thing that Lord Roehampton and all his friends can do is travel for a couple of years. Ask the Count of Ferroll what he thinks of the situation. He will tell you that he never knew one more hopeless. Taxes and tariffs—that's the future of England, and, so far as I can see, it may go on for ever. The government here desires nothing better than what they call Peace. What they mean by peace is agiotage, shares at a premium, and bubble companies. The whole thing is corrupt, as it ever must be when government is in the hands of a mere middle class, and that, too, a limited one; but it may last hopelessly long, and in the meantime, 'Vive la bagatelle!'"

"These are very different views from those which, I had understood, were to guide us in opposition," said Endymion, amazed.

"There is no opposition," rejoined Lady Montfort, somewhat tartly. "For a real opposition there must be a great policy. If your friend, Lord Roehampton, when he was settling the Levant, had only seized upon Egypt, we should have been somewhere. Now, we are the party who wanted to give, not even cheap bread to the people, but only cheaper bread. Faugh!"

"Well, I do not think the occupation of Egypt in the present state of our finances"——

"Do not talk to me about 'the present state of our finances.' You are worse than Mr. Sidney Wilton. The Count of Ferroll says that a ministry which is upset by its finances must be essentially imbecile. And that, too, in England—the richest country in the world!"

"Well, I think the state of the finances had something to do with the French Revolution," observed Endymion quietly.

"The French Revolution! You might as well talk of the fall of the Roman Empire. The French Revolution was founded on nonsense—on the rights of man; when all sensible people in every country are now agreed, that man has no rights whatever."

"But, dearest Lady Montfort," said Endymion, in a somewhat deprecating tone, "about my returning; for that is the real subject on which I wished to trouble you."

"You have made up your mind to return," she replied. "What is the use of consulting me with a foregone conclusion? I suppose you think it a compliment."

"I should be very sorry to do anything without consulting you," said Endymion.

"The worst person in the world to consult," said Lady Montfort impatiently. "If you want advice, you had better go to your sister. Men who are guided by their sisters seldom make very great mistakes. They are generally so prudent; and, I must say, I think a prudent man quite detestable."

Endymion turned pale, his lips quivered. What might have been the winged words they sent forth it is now impossible to record, for at that moment the door opened, and the servant announced that her ladyship's horse was at the door. Lady Montfort jumped up quickly, and saying, "Well, I suppose I shall see you before you go," disappeared.



CHAPTER LXXV

In the meantime, Lady Roehampton was paying her farewell visit to her former pupil. They were alone, and Adriana was hanging on her neck and weeping.

"We were so happy," she murmured.

"And are so happy, and will be," said Myra.

"I feel I shall never be happy again," sighed Adriana.

"You deserve to be the happiest of human beings, and you will be."

"Never, never!"

Lady Roehampton could say no more; she pressed her friend to her heart, and left the room in silence.

When she arrived at her hotel, her brother was leaving the house. His countenance was disquieted; he did not greet her with that mantling sunniness of aspect which was natural to him when they met.

"I have made all my farewells," she said; "and how have you been getting on?" And she invited him to re-enter the hotel.

"I am ready to depart at this moment," he said somewhat fiercely, "and was only thinking how I could extricate myself from that horrible dinner to-day at the Count of Ferroll's."

"Well, that is not difficult," said Myra; "you can write a note here if you like, at once. I think you must have seen quite enough of the Count of Ferroll and his friends."

Endymion sat down at the table, and announced his intended non-appearance at the Count's dinner, for it could not be called an excuse. When he had finished, his sister said—

"Do you know, we were nearly having a travelling companion to-morrow?"

He looked up with a blush, for he fancied she was alluding to some previous scheme of Lady Montfort. "Indeed!" he said, "and who?"

"Adriana."

"Adriana!" he repeated, somewhat relieved; "would she leave her family?"

"She had a fancy, and I am sure I do not know any companion I could prefer to her. She is the only person of whom I could truly say, that every time I see her, I love her more."

"She seemed to like Paris very much," said Endymion a little embarrassed.

"The first part of her visit," said Lady Roehampton, "she liked it amazingly. But my arrival and Lady Montfort's, I fear, broke up their little parties. You were a great deal with the Neuchatels before we came?"

"They are such a good family," said Endymion; "so kind, so hospitable, such true friends. And Mr. Neuchatel himself is one of the shrewdest men that probably ever lived. I like talking with him, or rather, I like to hear him talk."

"O Endymion," said Lady Roehampton, "if you were to marry Adriana, my happiness would be complete."

"Adriana will never marry," said Endymion; "she is afraid of being married for her money. I know twenty men who would marry her, if they thought there was a chance of being accepted; and the best man, Eusford, did make her an offer—that I know. And where could she find a match more suitable?—high rank, and large estate, and a man that everybody speaks well of."

"Adriana will never marry except for the affections; there you are right, Endymion; she must love and she must be loved; but that is not very unreasonable in a person who is young, pretty, accomplished, and intelligent."

"She is all that," said Endymion moodily.

"And she loves you," said Lady Roehampton.

Endymion rather started, looked up for a moment at his sister, and then withdrew as hastily an agitated glance, and then with his eyes on the ground said, in a voice half murmuring, and yet scoffingly: "I should like to see Mr. Neuchatel's face were I to ask permission to marry his daughter. I suppose he would not kick me downstairs; that is out of fashion; but he certainly would never ask me to dinner again, and that would be a sacrifice."

"You jest, Endymion; I am not jesting."

"There are some matters that can only be treated as a jest; and my marriage with Miss Neuchatel is one."

"It would make you one of the most powerful men in England," said his sister.

"Other impossible events would do the same."

"It is not impossible; it is very possible," said his sister, "believe me, trust in me. The happiness of their daughter is more precious to the Neuchatels even than their fortune."

"I do not see why, at my age, I should be in such a hurry to marry," said Endymion.

"You cannot marry too soon, if by so doing you obtain the great object of life. Early marriages are to be deprecated, especially for men, because they are too frequently imprudent; but when a man can marry while he is young, and at once realise, by so doing, all the results which successful time may bring to him, he should not hesitate."

"I hesitate very much," said Endymion. "I should hesitate very much, even if affairs were as promising as I think you may erroneously assume."

"But you must not hesitate, Endymion. We must never forget the great object for which we two live, for which, I believe, we were born twins—to rebuild our house; to raise it from poverty, and ignominy, and misery and squalid shame, to the rank and position which we demand, and which we believe we deserve. Did I hesitate when an offer of marriage was made to me, and the most unexpected that could have occurred? True it is, I married the best and greatest of men, but I did not know that when I accepted his hand. I married him for your sake, I married him for my own sake, for the sake of the house of Ferrars, which I wished to release and raise from its pit of desolation. I married him to secure for us both that opportunity for our qualities which they had lost, and which I believed, if enjoyed, would render us powerful and great."

Endymion rose from his seat and kissed his sister. "So long as you live," he said, "we shall never be ignominious."

"Yes, but I am nothing; I am not a man, I am not a Ferrars. The best of me is that I may be a transient help to you. It is you who must do the deed. I am wearied of hearing you described as Lady Roehampton's brother, or Lord Roehampton's brother-in-law. I shall never be content till you are greater than we are, and there is but one and only one immediate way of accomplishing it, it is by this marriage—and a marriage with whom? with an angelic being!"

"You take me somewhat by surprise, Myra. My thoughts have not been upon this matter. I cannot fairly describe myself at this moment as a marrying man."

"I know what you mean. You have female friendships, and I approve of them. They are invaluable to youth, and you have been greatly favoured in this respect. They have been a great assistance to you; beware lest they become a hindrance. A few years of such feelings in a woman's life are a blazoned page, and when it is turned she has many other chapters, though they may not be as brilliant or adorned. But these few years in a man's life may be, and in your case certainly would be, the very marrow of his destiny. During the last five or six years, ever since our emancipation, there has been a gradual but continuous development in your life. All has been preparatory for a position which you have acquired. That position may lead to anything—in your case, I will still believe, to everything—but there must be no faltering. Having crossed the Alps, you must not find a Capua. I speak to you as I have not spoken to you of late, because it was not necessary. But here is an opportunity which must not be lost. I feel half inspired, as when we parted in our misery at Hurstley, and I bade you, poor and obscure, go forth and conquer the world."

Late on the night of the day, their last day at Paris, on which this conversation took place, Endymion received a note in well-known handwriting, and it ran thus:

"If it be any satisfaction to you to know that you made me very unhappy by not dining here to-day, you may be gratified. I am very unhappy. I know that I was unkind this morning, and rude, but as my anger was occasioned by your leaving me, my conduct might annoy but surely could not mortify you. I shall see you to-morrow, however early you may depart, as I cannot let your dear sister leave Paris without my embracing her.

"Your faithful friend,

"Berengaria."



CHAPTER LXXVI

In old days, it was the habit to think and say that the House of Commons was an essentially "queer place," which no one could understand until he was a member of it. It may, perhaps, be doubted whether that somewhat mysterious quality still altogether attaches to that assembly. "Our own Reporter," has invaded it in all its purlieus. No longer content with giving an account of the speeches of its members, he is not satisfied unless he describes their persons, their dress, and their characteristic mannerisms. He tells us how they dine, even the wines and dishes which they favour, and follows them into the very mysteries of their smoking-room. And yet there is perhaps a certain fine sense of the feelings, and opinions, and humours of this assembly, which cannot be acquired by hasty notions and necessarily superficial remarks, but must be the result of long and patient observation, and of that quick sympathy with human sentiment, in all its classes, which is involved in the possession of that inestimable quality styled tact.

When Endymion Ferrars first took his seat in the House of Commons, it still fully possessed its character of enigmatic tradition. It had been thought that this, in a great degree, would have been dissipated by the Reform Act of 1832, which suddenly introduced into the hallowed precinct a number of individuals whose education, manners, modes of thought, were different from those of the previous inhabitants, and in some instances, and in some respects, quite contrary to them. But this was not so. After a short time it was observed that the old material, though at first much less in quantity, had leavened the new mass; that the tone of the former House was imitated and adopted, and that at the end of five years, about the time Endymion was returned to Parliament, much of its serene, and refined, and even classical character had been recovered.

For himself, he entered the chamber with a certain degree of awe, which, with use, diminished, but never entirely disappeared. The scene was one over which his boyhood even had long mused, and it was associated with all those traditions of genius, eloquence, and power that charm and inspire youth. His practical acquaintance with the forms and habits of the House from his customary attendance on their debates as private secretary to a cabinet minister, was of great advantage to him, and restrained that excitement which dangerously accompanies us when we enter into a new life, and especially a life of such deep and thrilling interests and such large proportions. This result was also assisted by his knowledge, at least by sight, of a large proportion of the old members, and by his personal and sometimes intimate acquaintance with those of his own party. There was much in his position, therefore, to soften that awkward feeling of being a freshman, which is always embarrassing.

He took his place on the second bench of the opposition side of the House, and nearly behind Lord Roehampton. Mr. Bertie Tremaine, whom Endymion encountered in the lobby as he was escaping to dinner, highly disapproved of this step. He had greeted Endymion with affable condescension. "You made your first mistake to-night, my dear Ferrars. You should have taken your seat below the gangway and near me, on the Mountain. You, like myself, are a man of the future."

"I am a member of the opposition. I do not suppose it signifies much where I sit."

"On the contrary, it signifies everything. After this great Tory reaction there is nothing to be done now by speeches, and, in all probability, very little that can be effectually opposed. Much, therefore, depends upon where you sit. If you sit on the Mountain, the public imagination will be attracted to you, and when they are aggrieved, which they will be in good time, the public passion, which is called opinion, will look to you for representation. My advice to my friends now is to sit together and say nothing, but to profess through the press the most advanced opinions. We sit on the back bench of the gangway, and we call ourselves the Mountain."

Notwithstanding Mr. Bertie Tremaine's oracular revelations, Endymion was very glad to find his old friend Trenchard generally his neighbour. He had a high opinion both of Trenchard's judgment and acquirements, and he liked the man. In time they always managed to sit together. Job Thornberry took his seat below the gangway, on the opposition side, and on the floor of the House. Mr. Bertie Tremaine had sent his brother, Mr. Tremaine Bertie, to look after this new star, who he was anxious should ascend the Mountain; but Job Thornberry wishing to know whether the Mountain were going for "total and immediate," and not obtaining a sufficiently distinct reply, declined the proffered intimation. Mr. Bertie Tremaine, being a landed proprietor as well as leader of the Mountain, was too much devoted to the rights of labour to sanction such middle-class madness.

"Peel with have to do it," said Job. "You will see."

"Peel now occupies the position of Necker," said Mr. Bertie Tremaine, "and will make the same fiasco. Then you will at last have a popular government."

"And the rights of labour?" asked Job. "All I hope is, I may have got safe to the States before that day."

"There will be no danger," said Mr. Bertie Tremaine. "There is this difference between the English Mountain and the French. The English Mountain has its government prepared. And my brother spoke to you because, when the hour arrives, I wished to see you a member of it."

"My dear Endymion," said Waldershare, "let us dine together before we meet in mortal conflict, which I suppose will be soon. I really think your Mr. Bertie Tremaine the most absurd being out of Colney Hatch."

"Well, he has a purpose," said Endymion; "and they say that a man with a purpose generally sees it realised.'

"What I do like in him," said Waldershare, "is this revival of the Pythagorean system, and a leading party of silence. That is rich."

One of the most interesting members of the House of Commons was Sir Fraunceys Scrope. He was the father of the House, though it was difficult to believe that from his appearance. He was tall, and had kept his distinguished figure; a handsome man, with a musical voice, and a countenance now benignant, though very bright, and once haughty. He still retained the same fashion of costume in which he had ridden up to Westminster more than half a century ago, from his seat in Derbyshire, to support his dear friend Charles Fox; real top-boots, and a blue coat and buff waistcoat. He was a great friend of Lord Roehampton, had a large estate in the same county, and had refused an earldom. Knowing Endymion, he came and sate by him one day in the House, and asked him, good-naturedly, how he liked his new life.

"It is very different from what it was when I was your age. Up to Easter we rarely had a regular debate, never a party division; very few people came up indeed. But there was a good deal of speaking on all subjects before dinner. We had the privilege then of speaking on the presentation of petitions at any length, and we seldom spoke on any other occasion. After Easter there was always at least one great party fight. This was a mighty affair, talked of for weeks before it came off, and then rarely an adjourned debate. We were gentlemen, used to sit up late, and should have been sitting up somewhere else had we not been in the House of Commons. After this party fight, the House for the rest of the session was a mere club."

"There was not much business doing then," said Endymion.

"There was not much business in the country then. The House of Commons was very much like what the House of Lords is now. You went home to dine, and now and then came back for an important division."

"But you must always have had the estimates here," said Endymion.

"Yes, but they ran through very easily. Hume was the first man who attacked the estimates. What are you going to do with yourself to-day? Will you take your mutton with me? You must come in boots, for it is now dinner-time, and you must return, I fancy. Twenty years ago, no man would think of coming down to the House except in evening dress. I remember so late as Mr. Canning, the minister always came down in silk stockings and pantaloons, or knee breeches. All things change, and quoting Virgil, as that young gentleman has just done, will be the next thing to disappear. In the last parliament we often had Latin quotations, but never from a member with a new constituency. I have heard Greek quoted here, but that was long ago, and a great mistake. The House was quite alarmed. Charles Fox used to say as to quotation—'No Greek; as much Latin as you like; and never French under any circumstances. No English poet unless he had completed his century.' These were like some other good rules, the unwritten orders of the House of Commons."



CHAPTER LXXVII

While parliaments were dissolving and ministries forming, the disappointed seeking consolation and the successful enjoying their triumph, Simon, Earl of Montfort, who just missed being a great philosopher, was reading "Topsy Turvy," which infinitely amused him; the style so picturesque and lambent! the tone so divertingly cynical! And if the knowledge of society in its pages was not so distinguished as that of human nature generally, this was a deficiency obvious only to a comparatively limited circle of its readers.

Lord Montfort had reminded Endymion of his promise to introduce the distinguished author to him, and accordingly, after due researches as to his dwelling-place, Mr. Ferrars called in Jermyn Street and sent up his card, to know whether Mr. St. Barbe would receive him. This was evidently not a matter-of-course affair, and some little time had elapsed when the maid-servant appeared, and beckoned to Endymion to follow her upstairs.

In the front drawing-room of the first floor, robed in a flaming dressing-gown, and standing with his back to the fire and to the looking-glass, the frame of which was encrusted with cards of invitation, the former colleague of Endymion received his visitor with a somewhat haughty and reserved air.

"Well, I am delighted to see you again," said Endymion.

No reply but a ceremonious bow.

"And to congratulate you," Endymion added after a moment's pause. "I hear of nothing but of your book; I suppose one of the most successful that have appeared for a long time."

"Its success is not owing to your friends," said Mr. St. Barbe tartly.

"My friends!" said Endymion; "what could they have done to prevent it?"

"They need not have dissolved parliament," said Mr. St. Barbe with irritation. "It was nearly fatal to me; it would have been to anybody else. I was selling forty thousand a month; I believe more than Gushy ever reached; and so they dissolved parliament. The sale went down half at once—and now you expect me to support your party!"

"Well, it was unfortunate, but the dissolution could hardly have done you any permanent injury, and you could scarcely expect that such an event could be postponed even for the advantage of an individual so distinguished as yourself."

"Perhaps not," said St. Barbe, apparently a little mollified, "but they might have done something to show their regret at it."

"Something!" said Endymion, "what sort of thing?"

"The prime minister might have called on me, or at least written to me a letter. I want none of their honours; I have scores of letters every day, suggesting that some high distinction should be conferred on me. I believe the nation expects me to be made a baronet. By the by, I heard the other day you had got into parliament. I know nothing of these matters; they do not interest me. Is it the fact?"

"Well, I was so fortunate, and there are others of your old friends, Trenchard, for example."

"You do not mean to say that Trenchard is in parliament!" said St. Barbe, throwing off all his affected reserve. "Well, it is too disgusting! Trenchard in parliament, and I obliged to think it a great favour if a man gives me a frank! Well, representative institutions have seen their day. That is something."

"I have come here on a social mission," said Endymion in a soothing tone. "There is a great admirer of yours who much wishes to make your acquaintance. Trusting to our old intimacy, of which of course I am very proud, it was even hoped that you might waive ceremony, and come and dine."

"Quite impossible!" exclaimed St. Barbe, and turning round, he pointed to the legion of invitations before him. "You see, the world is at my feet. I remember that fellow Seymour Hicks taking me to his rooms to show me a card he had from a countess. What would he say to this?"

"Well, but you cannot be engaged to dinner every day," said Endymion; "and you really may choose any day you like."

"Well, there are not many dinners among them, to be sure," said St. Barbe. "Small and earlies. How I hate a 'small and early'! Shown into a room where you meet a select few who have been asked to dinner, and who are chewing the cud like a herd of kine, and you are expected to tumble before them to assist their digestion! Faugh! No, sir; we only dine out now, and we think twice, I can tell you, before we accept even an invitation to dinner. Who's your friend?"

"Well, my friend is Lord Montfort."

"You do not mean to say that! And he is an admirer of mine?"

"An enthusiastic admirer."

"I will dine with Lord Montfort. There is no one who appreciates so completely and so highly the old nobility of England as myself. They are a real aristocracy. None of the pinchbeck pedigrees and ormolu titles of the continent. Lord Montfort is, I think, an earl. A splendid title, earl! an English earl; count goes for nothing. The Earl of Montfort! An enthusiastic admirer of mine! The aristocracy of England, especially the old aristocracy, are highly cultivated. Sympathy from such a class is to be valued. I care for no other—I have always despised the million of vulgar. They have come to me, not I to them, and I have always told them the truth about themselves, that they are a race of snobs, and they rather like being told so. And now for your day?"

"Why not this day if you be free? I will call for you about eight, and take you in my brougham to Montfort House."

"You have got a brougham! Well, I suppose so, being a member of parliament, though I know a good many members of parliament who have not got broughams. But your family, I remember, married into the swells. I do not grudge it you. You were always a good comrade to me. I never knew a man more free from envy than you, Ferrars, and envy is an odious vice. There are people I know, who, when they hear I have dined with the Earl of Montfort, will invent all sorts of stories against me, and send them to what they call the journals of society."

"Well, then, it shall be to-day," said Endymion, rising.

"It shall be to-day, and to tell the truth, I was thinking this morning where I should dine to-day. What I miss here are the cafes. Now in Paris you can dine every day exactly as it suits your means and mood. You may dine for a couple of francs in a quiet, unknown street, and very well; or you may dine for a couple of napoleons in a flaming saloon, with windows opening on a crowded boulevard. London is deficient in dining capability."

"You should belong to a club. Do you not?"

"So I was told by a friend of mine the other day,—one of your great swells. He said I ought to belong to the Athenaeum, and he would propose me, and the committee would elect me as a matter of course. They rejected me and selected a bishop. And then people are surprised that the Church is in danger!"



CHAPTER LXXVIII

The condition of England at the meeting of Parliament in 1842 was not satisfactory. The depression of trade in the manufacturing districts seemed overwhelming, and continued increasing during the whole of the year. A memorial from Stockport to the Queen in the spring represented that more than half the master spinners had failed, and that no less than three thousand dwelling-houses were untenanted. One-fifth of the population of Leeds were dependent on the poor-rates. The state of Sheffield was not less severe—and the blast furnaces of Wolverhampton were extinguished. There were almost daily meetings, at Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds, to consider the great and increasing distress of the country, and to induce ministers to bring forward remedial measures; but as these were impossible, violence was soon substituted for passionate appeals to the fears or the humanity of the government. Vast bodies of the population assembled in Staleybridge, and Ashton, and Oldham, and marched into Manchester.

For a week the rioting was unchecked, but the government despatched a strong military force to that city, and order was restored.

The state of affairs in Scotland was not more favourable. There were food riots in several of the Scotch towns, and in Glasgow the multitude assembled, and then commenced what they called a begging tour, but which was really a progress of not disguised intimidation. The economic crisis in Ireland was yet to come, but the whole of that country was absorbed in a harassing and dangerous agitation for the repeal of the union between the two countries.

During all this time, the Anti-Corn Law League was holding regular and frequent meetings at Manchester, at which statements were made distinguished by great eloquence and little scruple. But the able leaders of this confederacy never succeeded in enlisting the sympathies of the great body of the population. Between the masters and the workmen there was an alienation of feeling, which apparently never could be removed. This reserve, however, did not enlist the working classes on the side of the government; they had their own object, and one which they themselves enthusiastically cherished. And this was the Charter, a political settlement which was to restore the golden age, and which the master manufacturers and the middle classes generally looked upon with even more apprehension than Her Majesty's advisers. It is hardly necessary to add, that in a state of affairs like that which is here faintly but still faithfully sketched, the rapid diminution of the revenue was inevitable, and of course that decline mainly occurred in the two all-important branches of the customs and excise.

There was another great misfortune also which at this trying time hung over England. The country was dejected. The humiliating disasters of Afghanistan, dark narratives of which were periodically arriving, had produced a more depressing effect on the spirit of the country than all the victories and menaces of Napoleon in the heyday of his wild career. At home and abroad, there seemed nothing to sustain the national spirit; financial embarrassment, commercial and manufacturing distress, social and political agitation on the one hand, and on the other, the loss of armies, of reputation, perhaps of empire. It was true that these external misfortunes could hardly be attributed to the new ministry—but when a nation is thoroughly perplexed and dispirited, it soon ceases to make distinctions between political parties. The country is out of sorts, and the "government" is held answerable for the disorder.

Thus it will be seen, that, though the new ministry were supported by a commanding majority in parliament, and that, too, after a recent appeal to the country, they were not popular, it may be truly said they were even the reverse. The opposition, on the other hand, notwithstanding their discomfiture, and, on some subjects, their disgrace, were by no means disheartened, and believed that there were economical causes at work, which must soon restore them to power.

The minister brought forward his revision of the tariff, which was denounced by the League as futile, and in which anathema the opposition soon found it convenient to agree. Had the minister included in his measure that "total and immediate repeal" of the existing corn laws which was preached by many as a panacea, the effect would have been probably much the same. No doubt a tariff may aggravate, or may mitigate, such a condition of commercial depression as periodically visits a state of society like that of England, but it does not produce it. It was produced in 1842, as it had been produced at the present time, by an abuse of capital and credit, and by a degree of production which the wants of the world have not warranted.

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