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Lothair
by Benjamin Disraeli
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"Well, we shall see," said, the general; "I am sorry it is an Irish affair, though, to be sure, what else could it be? I am not fond of Irish affairs: whatever may be said, and however plausible things may look, in an Irish business there is always a priest at the bottom of it. I hate priests. By-the-by, I was stopped on my way here by a cardinal getting into his carriage. I thought I had burnt all those vehicles when I was at Rome with Garibaldi in '48. A cardinal in his carriage! I had no idea you permitted that sort of cattle in London."

"London is a roost for every bird," said Felix Drolin.

"Very few of the priests favor this movement," said Desmond.

"Then you have a great power against you," said the general, in "addition to England."

"They are not exactly against; the bulk of them are too national for that; but Rome does not sanction—you understand?"

"I understand enough," said the general, "to see that we must not act with precipitation. An Irish business is a thing to be turned over several times."

"But yet," said a Pole, "what hope for humanity except from the rising of an oppressed nationality? We have offered ourselves on the altar, and in vain! Greece is too small, and Roumania—though both of them are ready to do any thing; but they would be the mere tools of Russia. Ireland alone remains, and she is at our feet."

"The peoples will never succeed until they have a fleet," said a German. "Then you could land as many rifles as you like, or any thing else. To have a fleet we rose against Denmark in my country, but we have been betrayed. Nevertheless, Germany will yet be united, and she can only be united as a republic. Then she will be the mistress of the seas."

"That is the mission of Italy," said Perroni. "Italy—with the traditions of Genoa, Venice, Pisa—Italy is plainly indicated as the future mistress of the seas."

"I beg your pardon," said the German; "the future mistress of the sees is the land of the Viking. It is the forests of the Baltic that will build the Best of the future. You have no timber in Italy."

"Timber is no longer wanted," said Perroni. "Nor do I know of what will be formed the fleets of the future. But the sovereignty of the seas depends upon seamen, and the nautical genius of the Italians—"

"Comrades," said the general, "we have discussed to-night a great subject. For my part I have travelled rather briskly, as you wished it. I should like to sleep on this affair."

"'Tis most reasonable," said the president. "Our refreshment at council is very spare," he continued, and he pointed to a vase of water and some glasses ranged round it in the middle of the table; "but we always drink one toast, general, before we separate. It is to one whom you love, and whom you have served well. Fill glasses, brethren and now 'TO MARY-ANNE.'"

If they had been inspired by the grape, nothing could be more animated and even excited than all their countenances suddenly became. The cheer might have been heard in the coffee-room, as they expressed, in the phrases of many languages, the never-failing and never-flagging enthusiasm invoked by the toast of their mistress.



CHAPTER 12

"Did you read that paragraph, mamma?" inquired Lady Corisande of the duchess, in a tone of some seriousness.

"I did."

"And what did you think of it?"

"It filled me with so much amazement that I have hardly begun to think."

"And Bertram never gave a hint of such things!"

"Let us believe they are quite untrue."

"I hope Bertram is in no danger," said his sister.

"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed the mother, with unaffected alarm.

"I know not how it is," said Lady Corisande, "but I frequently feel that some great woe is hanging over our country."

"You must dismiss such thoughts, my child; they are fanciful."

"But they will come, and when least expected—frequently in church, but also in the sunshine; and when I am riding too, when, once, every thing seemed gay. But now I often think of strife, and struggle, and war—civil war: the stir of our cavalcade seems like the tramp of cavalry."

"You indulge your imagination too much, dear Corisande. When you return to London, and enter the world, these anxious thoughts will fly."

"Is it imagination? I should rather have doubted my being of an imaginative nature. It seems to me that I am rather literal. But I cannot help hearing and reading things, and observing things, and they fill me with disquietude. All seems doubt and change, when it would appear that we require both faith and firmness."

"The duke is not alarmed about affairs," said his wife.

"And, if all did their duty like papa, there might be less, or no cause," said Corisande. "But, when I hear of young nobles, the natural leaders of the land, going over to the Roman Catholic Church, I confess I lose heart and patience. It seems so unpatriotic, so effeminate."

"It may not be true," said the duchess.

"It may not be true of him, but it is true of others," said Lady Corisande. "And why should he escape? He is very young, rather friendless, and surrounded by wily persons. I am disappointed about Bertram too. He ought to have prevented this, if it be true. Bertram seemed to me to have such excellent principles, and so completely to feel that he was born to maintain the great country which his ancestors created, that I indulged in dreams. I suppose you are right, mamma; I suppose I am imaginative without knowing it; but I have, always thought, and hoped, that when the troubles came the country might, perhaps, rally round Bertram."

"I wish to see Bertram in Parliament," said the duchess. "That will be the best thing for him. The duke has some plans."

This conversation had been occasioned by a paragraph in the Morning Post, circulating a rumor that a young noble, obviously Lothair, on the impending completion of his minority, was about to enter the Roman Church. The duchess and her daughter were sitting in a chamber of their northern castle, and speculating on their return to London, which was to take place after the Easter which had just arrived. It was an important social season for Corisande, for she was to be formally introduced into the great world, and to be presented at court.

In the mean while, was there any truth in the report about Lothair?

After their meeting at their lawyer's, a certain intimacy had occurred between the cardinal and his ward. They met again immediately and frequently, and their mutual feelings were cordial. The manners of his eminence were refined and affectionate; his conversational powers were distinguished; there was not a subject on which his mind did not teem with interesting suggestions; his easy knowledge seemed always ready and always full; and whether it were art, or letters, or manners, or even political affairs, Lothair seemed to listen to one of the wisest, most enlightened, and most agreeable of men. There was only one subject on which his eminence seemed scrupulous never to touch, and that was religion; or so indirectly, that it was only when alone that Lothair frequently found himself musing over the happy influence on the arts, and morals, and happiness of mankind—of the Church.

In due time, not too soon, but when he was attuned to the initiation, the cardinal presented Lothair to Lady St. Jerome. The impassioned eloquence of that lady germinated the seed which the cardinal had seemed so carelessly to scatter. She was a woman to inspire crusaders. Not that she ever: condescended to vindicate her own particular faith, or spoke as if she were conscious that Lothair did not possess it. Assuming that religion was true, for otherwise man would be in a more degraded position than the beasts of the field, which are not aware of their own wretchedness, then religion should be the principal occupation of man, to which all other pursuits should be subservient. The doom of eternity, and the fortunes of life, cannot be placed in competition. Our days should be pure, and holy, and heroic—full of noble thoughts and solemn sacrifice. Providence, in its wisdom, had decreed that the world should be divided between the faithful and atheists; the latter even seemed to predominate. There was no doubt that, if they prevailed, all that elevated man would become extinct. It was a great trial; but happy was the man who was privileged even to endure the awful test. It might develop the highest qualities and the most sublime conduct. If he were equal to the occasion, and could control and even subdue these sons of Korah, he would rank with Michael the Archangel.

This was the text on which frequent discourses were delivered to Lothair, and to which he listened at first with eager, and soon with enraptured attention. The priestess was worthy of the shrine. Few persons were ever gifted with more natural eloquence: a command of language, choice without being pedantic; beautiful hands that fluttered with irresistible grace; flashing eyes and a voice of melody.

Lothair began to examine himself, and to ascertain whether he possessed the necessary qualities, and was capable of sublime conduct. His natural modesty and his strong religious feeling struggled together. He feared he was not an archangel, and yet he longed to struggle with the powers of darkness.

One day he ventured to express to Miss Arundel a somewhat hopeful view of the future, but Miss Arundel shook her head.

"I do not agree with my aunt, at least as regards this country," said Miss Arundel; "I think our sins are too great. We left His Church, and God is now leaving us."

Lothair looked grave, but was silent.

Weeks had passed since his introduction to the family of Lord St. Jerome, and it was remarkable how large a portion of his subsequent time had passed under that roof. At first there were few persons in town, and really of these Lothair knew none; and then the house in St. James's Square was not only an interesting but it was an agreeable house. All Lady St. Jerome's family connections were persons of much fashion, so there was more variety and entertainment than sometimes are to be found under a Roman Catholic roof. Lady St. Jerome was at home every evening before Easter. Few dames can venture successfully on so decided a step; but her saloons were always attended, and by "nice people." Occasionally the cardinal stepped in, and, to a certain degree, the saloon was the rendezvous of the Catholic party; but it was also generally social and distinguished. Many bright dames and damsels, and many influential men, were there, who little deemed that deep and daring thoughts were there masked by many a gracious countenance. The social atmosphere infinitely pleased Lothair. The mixture of solemn duty and graceful diversion, high purposes and charming manners, seemed to realize some youthful dreams of elegant existence. All, too, was enhanced by the historic character of the roof and by the recollection that their mutual ancestors, as Clare Arundel more than once intimated to him, had created England. Having had so many pleasant dinners in St. James's Square, and spent there so many evening hours, it was not wonderful that Lothair had accepted an invitation from Lord St. Jerome to pass Easter at his country-seat.



CHAPTER 13

Vauxe, the seat of the St. Jeromes, was the finest specimen of the old English residence extant. It was the perfection of the style, which had gradually arisen after the Wars of the Roses had alike destroyed all the castles and the purpose of those stern erections. People said Vauxe looked like a college: the truth is, colleges looked like Vauxe, for, when those fair and civil buildings rose, the wise and liberal spirits who endowed them intended that they should resemble, as much as possible, the residence of a great noble.

There were two quadrangles at Vauxe of gray-stone; the outer one of larger dimensions and much covered with ivy; the inner one not so extensive, but more ornate, with a lofty tower, a hall, and a chapel. The house was full of galleries, and they were full of portraits. Indeed there was scarcely a chamber in this vast edifice of which the walls were not breathing with English history in this interesting form. Sometimes more ideal art asserted a triumphant claim—transcendental Holy Families, seraphic saints, and gorgeous scenes by Tintoret and Paul of Verona.

The furniture of the house seemed never to have been changed. It was very old, somewhat scanty, but very rich—tapestry and velvet hangings, marvellous cabinets, and crystal girandoles. Here and there a group of ancient plate; ewers and flagons and tall salt-cellars, a foot high and richly chiselled; sometimes a state bed shadowed with a huge pomp of stiff brocade and borne by silver poles.

Vauxe stood in a large park, studded with stately trees; here and there an avenue of Spanish chestnuts or a grove of oaks; sometimes a gorsy dell, and sometimes a so great spread of antlered fern, taller than the tallest man.

It was only twenty miles from town, and Lord St. Jerome drove Lothair down; the last ten miles through a pretty land, which, at the right season, would have been bright with orchards, oak-woods, and hop-gardens. Lord St. Jerome loved horses, and was an eminent whip. He had driven four-in-hand when a boy, and he went on driving four-in-hand; not because it was the fashion, but because he loved it. Toward the close of Lent, Lady St. Jerome and Clare Arundel had been at a convent in retreat, but they always passed Holy Week at home, and they were to welcome Lord St. Jerome again at Vauxe.

The day was bright, the mode of movement exhilarating, all the anticipated incidents delightful, and Lothair felt the happiness of health and youth.

"There is Vauxe," said Lord St. Jerome, in a tone of proud humility, as a turn in the road first displayed the stately pile.

"How beautiful!" said Lothair. "Ah! our ancestors understood the country."

"I used to think when I was a boy," said Lord St. Jerome, "that I lived in the prettiest village in the world; but these railroads have so changed every thing that Vauxe seems to me now only a second town-house."

The ladies were in a garden, where they were consulting with the gardener and Father Coleman about the shape of some new beds, for the critical hour of filling them was approaching. The gardener, like all head-gardeners, was opinionated. Living always at Vauxe, he had come to believe that the gardens belonged to him, and that the family were only occasional visitors; and he treated them accordingly. The lively and impetuous Lady St. Jerome had a thousand bright fancies, but her morose attendant never indulged them. She used to deplore his tyranny with piteous playfulness. "I suppose," she would say, "it is useless to resist, for I observe 'tis the same everywhere. Lady Roehampton says she never has her way with her gardens. It is no use speaking to Lord St. Jerome, for, though he is afraid of nothing else, I am sure he is afraid of Hawkins."

The only way that Lady St. Jerome could manage Hawkins was through Father Coleman. Father Coleman, who knew every thing, knew a great deal about gardens; from the days of Le Notre to those of the fine gentlemen who now travel about, and when disengaged deign to give us advice.

Father Coleman had only just entered middle-age, was imperturbable and mild in his manner. He passed his life very much at Vauxe, and imparted a great deal of knowledge to Mr. Hawkins without apparently being conscious of so doing. At the bottom of his mind, Mr. Hawkins felt assured that he had gained several distinguished prizes, mainly through the hints and guidance of Father Coleman; and thus, though on the surface, a little surly, he was ruled by Father Coleman, under the combined influence of self-interest and superior knowledge.

"You find us in a garden without flowers," said Lady St. Jerome; "but the sun, I think, alway loves these golden yews."

"These are for you, dear uncle," said Clare Arundel, as she gave him a rich cluster of violets. "Just now the woods are more fragrant than the gardens, and these are the produce of our morning walk. I could have brought you some primroses, but I do not like to mix violets with any thing."

"They say primroses make a capital salad," said Lord St. Jerome.

"Barbarian!" exclaimed Lady St. Jerome. "I see you want luncheon; it must, be ready;" and she took Lothair's arm. "I will show you a portrait of one of your ancestors," she said; "he married an Arundel."



CHAPTER 14

"Now, you know," said Lady St. Jerome to Lothair in a hushed voice, as they sat together in the evening, "you are to be quite free here; to do exactly what you like; and we shall follow our ways. If you like to have a clergyman of your own Church visit you while you are with us, pray say so without the slightest scruple. We have an excellent gentleman in this parish; he often dines here; and I am sure he would be most happy to attend you. I know that Holy Week is not wholly disregarded by some of the Anglicans."

"It is the anniversary of the greatest event of time," said Lothair; "and I should be sorry if any of my Church did not entirely regard it, though they may show that regard in a way different from your own."

"Yes, yes," murmured Lady St. Jerome; "there should be no difference between our Churches, if things were only properly understood. I would accept all who really bow to the name of Christ; they will come to the Church at last; they must. It is the atheists alone, I fear, who are now carrying every thing before them, and against whom there is no comfort, except the rock of St. Peter."

Miss Arundel crossed the room, whispered something to her aunt, and touched her forehead with her lips, and then left the apartment.

"We must soon separate, I fear," said Lady St. Jerome; "we have an office to-night of great moment; the Tenebrae commence to-night. You have, I think, nothing like it; but you have services throughout this week."

"I am sorry to say I have not attended them," said Lothair. "I did at Oxford; but I don't know how it is, but in London there seems no religion. And yet, as you sometimes say, religion is the great business of life; I sometimes begin to think the only business."

"Yes, yes," said Lady St. Jerome, with much interest, "if you believe that you are safe. I wish you had a clergyman near you while you are here. See Mr. Claughton, if you like; I would; and, if you do not, there is Father Coleman. I cannot convey to you how satisfactory conversation is with him on religious matters. He is the holiest of men, and yet he is a man of the world; he will not invite you into any controversies. He will speak with you only on points on which we agree. You know there are many points on which we agree?"

"Happily," said Lothair. "And now about the office to-night: tell me about these Tenebrae. Is there any thing in the Tenebrae why I ought not to be present?"

"No reason whatever; not a dogma which you do not believe; not a ceremony of which you cannot approve. There are Psalms, at the end of which a light on the altar is extinguished. There is the Song of Moses, the Canticle of Zachary, the Miserere—which is the 50th Psalm you read and chant regularly in your church—the Lord's Prayer in silence; and then all is darkness and distress—what the Church was when our Lord suffered, what the whole world is now except His Church."

"If you will permit me," said Lothair, "I will accompany you to the Tenebrae."

Although the chapel at Vauxe was, of course, a private chapel, it was open to the surrounding public, who eagerly availed themselves of a permission alike politic and gracious.

Nor was that remarkable. Manifold art had combined to create this exquisite temple, and to guide all its ministrations. But to-night it was not the radiant altar and the splendor of stately priests, the processions and the incense, the divine choir and the celestial harmonies resounding lingering in arched roofs, that attracted many a neighbor. The altar was desolate, the choir was dumb; and while the services proceeded in hushed tones of subdued sorrow, and sometimes even of suppressed anguish, gradually, with each psalm and canticle, a light of the altar was extinguished, till at length the Miserere was muttered, and all became darkness. A sound as of a distant and rising wind was heard, and a crash, as it were the fall of trees in a storm. The earth is covered with darkness, and the veil of the temple is rent. But just at this moment of extreme woe, when all human voices are silent, and when it is forbidden even to breathe "Amen"—when every thing is symbolical of the confusion and despair of the Church at the loss of her expiring Lord—a priest brings forth a concealed light of silvery flame from a corner of the altar. This is the light of the world, and announced the resurrection, and then all rise up and depart in silence.

As Lothair rose, Miss Arundel passed him with streaming eyes.

"There is nothing in this holy office," said Father Coleman to Lothair, "to which every real Christian might not give his assent."

"Nothing," said Lothair, with great decision.



CHAPTER 15

There were Tenebrae on the following days, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and Lothair was present on both occasions.

"There is also a great office on Friday," said Father Coleman to Lothair, "which perhaps you would not like to attend—the mass of the pre-sanctified. We bring back the blessed sacrament to the desolate altar, and unveil the cross. It is one of our highest ceremonies, the adoration of the cross, which the Protestants persist in calling idolatry, though I presume they will give us leave to know the meaning of our own words and actions, and hope they will believe us when we tell them that our genuflexions and kissing of the cross are no more than exterior expressions of that love which we bear in our hearts to Jesus crucified; and that the words adoration and adore, as applied to the cross, only signify that respect and veneration due to things immediately relating to God and His service."

"I see no idolatry in it," said Lothair, musingly.

"No impartial person could," rejoined Father Coleman; "but unfortunately all these prejudices were imbibed when the world was not so well informed as at present. A good deal of mischief has been done, too, by the Protestant versions of the Holy Scriptures; made in a hurry, and by men imperfectly acquainted with the Eastern tongues, and quite ignorant of Eastern manners. All the accumulated research and investigation of modern times have only illustrated and justified the offices of the Church."

"That is very interesting," said Lothair.

"Now, this question of idolatry," said Father Coleman, "that is a fertile subject of misconception. The house of Israel was raised up to destroy idolatry because idolatry thou meant dark images of Moloch opening their arms by machinery, and flinging the beauteous first-born of the land into their huge forms, which were furnaces of fire; or Ashtaroth, throned in moonlit groves, and surrounded by orgies of ineffable demoralization. It required the declared will of God to redeem man from such fatal iniquity, which would have sapped the human race. But to confound such deeds with the commemoration of God's saints, who are only pictured because their lives are perpetual incentives to purity and holiness, and to declare that the Queen of Heaven and the Mother of God should be to human feeling only as a sister of charity or a gleaner in the fields, is to abuse reason and to outrage the heart."

"We live in dark times," said Lothair, with an air of distress.

"Not darker than before the deluge," exclaimed Father Coleman; "not darker than before the nativity; not darker even than when the saints became martyrs. There is a Pharos in the world, and, its light will never be extinguished, however black the clouds and wild the waves. Man is on his trial now, not the Church; but in the service of the Church his highest energies may be developed, and his noblest qualities proved."

Lothair seemed plunged in thought, and Father Coleman glided away as Lady St. Jerome entered the gallery, shawled and bonneted, accompanied by another priest, Monsignore Catesby.

Catesby was a youthful member of an ancient English house, which for many generations had without a murmur, rather in a spirit of triumph, made every worldly sacrifice for the Church and court of Rome. For that cause they had forfeited their lives, broad estates, and all the honors of a lofty station in their own land. Reginald Catesby, with considerable abilities, trained with consummate skill, inherited their determined will, and the traditionary beauty of their form and countenance. His manners were winning, and, he was as well informed in the ways of the world as he was in the works of the great casuists.

"My lord has ordered the charbanc, and is going to drive us all to Chart, where we will lunch," said Lady St. Jerome; "'tis a curious place, and was planted, only seventy years ago, by my lord's grandfather, entirely with spruce-firs, but with so much care and skill, giving each plant and tree ample distance, that they have risen to the noblest proportions, with all their green branches far-spreading on the ground like huge fans."

It was only a drive of three or four miles entirely in the park. This was a district that had been added to the ancient enclosure—a striking scene. It was a forest of firs, but quite unlike such as might be met with in the north of Europe or of America. Every tree was perfect—huge and complete, and full of massy grace. Nothing else was permitted to grow there except juniper, of which there were abounding and wondrous groups, green and spiral; the whole contrasting with the tall brown fern, of which there were quantities about, cut for the deer.

The turf was dry and mossy, and the air pleasant. It was a balmy day. They sat down by the great trees, the servants opened the luncheon-baskets, which were a present from Balmoral. Lady St. Jerome was seldom seen to greater advantage than distributing her viands under such circumstances. Never was such gay and graceful hospitality. Lothair was quite fascinated as she playfully thrust a paper of lobster-sandwiches into his hand, and enjoined Monsignore Catesby to fill his tumbler with Chablis.

"I wish Father Coleman were here," said Lothair to Miss Arundel.

"Why?" said Miss Arundel.

"Because we were in the midst of a very interesting conversation on idolatry and on worship in groves, when Lady St. Jerome summoned us to our drive. This seems a grove where one might worship."

"Father Coleman ought to be at Rome," said Miss Arundel. "He was to have passed Holy Week there. I know not why he changed his plans."

"Are you angry with him for it?"

"No, not angry, but surprised; surprised that any one might be at Rome, and yet be absent from it."

"You like Rome?"

"I have never been there. It is the wish of my life."

"May I say to you what you said to me just now—why?"

"Naturally, because I would wish to witness the ceremonies of the Church in their most perfect form."

"But they are fulfilled in this country, I have heard, with much splendor and precision."

Miss Arundel shook her head.

"Oh! no," she said; "in this country we are only just emerging from the catacombs. If the ceremonies of the Church were adequately fulfilled in England, we should hear very little of English infidelity."

"That is saying a great deal," observed Lothair, inquiringly.

"Had I that command of wealth of which we hear so much in the present day, and with which the possessors seem to know so little what to do, I would purchase some of those squalid streets in Westminster, which are the shame of the metropolis, and clear a great space and build a real cathedral, where the worship of heaven should be perpetually conducted in the full spirit of the ordinances of the Church. I believe, were this done, even this country might be saved."



CHAPTER 16

Lothair began to meditate on two great ideas—the reconciliation of Christendom, and the influence of architecture on religion. If the differences between the Roman and Anglican Churches, and between the papacy and Protestantism generally arose, as Father Coleman assured him, and seemed to prove, in mere misconception, reconciliation, though difficult, did not seem impossible, and appeared to be one of the most efficient modes of defeating the atheists. It was a result which, of course, mainly depended on the authority of Reason; but the power of the imagination might also be enlisted in the good cause through the influence of the fine arts, of which the great mission is to excite, and at the same time elevate, the feelings of the human family. Lothair found himself frequently in a reverie over Miss Arundel's ideal fane; and, feeling that he had the power of buying up a district in forlorn Westminster, and raising there a temple to the living God, which might influence the future welfare of millions, and even effect the salvation of his country, he began to ask himself whether he could incur the responsibility of shrinking from the fulfilment of this great duty.

Lothair could not have a better adviser on the subject of the influence of architecture on religion than Monsignore Catesby. Monsignore Catesby had been a pupil of Pugin; his knowledge of ecclesiastical architecture was only equalled by his exquisite taste. To hear him expound the mysteries of symbolical art, and expatiate on the hidden revelations of its beauteous forms, reached even to ecstasy. Lothair hung upon his accents like a neophyte. Conferences with Father Coleman on those points of faith on which they did not differ, followed up by desultory remarks on those points of faith on which they ought not to differ—critical discussions with Monsignore Catesby on cathedrals, their forms, their purposes, and the instances in several countries in which those forms were most perfect and those purposes best secured—occupied a good deal of time; and yet these engaging pursuits were secondary in real emotion to his frequent conversations with Miss Arundel in whose society every day he took a strange and deeper interest.

She did not extend to him that ready sympathy which was supplied by the two priests. On the contrary, when he was apt to indulge in those speculations which they always encouraged, and rewarded by adroit applause, she was often silent, throwing on him only the scrutiny of those violet yes, whose glance was rather fascinating than apt to captivate. And yet he was irresistibly drawn to her, and, once recalling the portrait in the gallery, he ventured to murmur that they were kinsfolk.

"Oh! I have no kin, no country," said Miss Arundel. "These are not times for kin and country. I have given up all these things for my Master!"

"But are our times so trying as that?" inquired Lothair.

"They are times for new crusades," said Miss Arundel, with energy, "though it may be of a different character from the old. If I were a man, I would draw my sword for Christ. There are as great deeds to be done as the siege of Ascalon, or even as the freeing of the Holy Sepulchre."

In the midst of a profound discussion with Father Coleman on Mariolatry, Lothair, rapt in reverie, suddenly introduced the subject of Miss Arundel. "I wonder what will be her lot?" he exclaimed.

"It seems to, me to be settled," said Father Coleman. "She will be the bride of the Church."

"Indeed?" and he started, and even changed color.

"She deems it her vocation," said Father Coleman.

"And yet, with such gifts, to be immured in a convent," said Lothair.

"That would not necessarily follow," replied Father Coleman. "Miss Arundel may occupy a position in which she may exercise much influence for the great cause which absorbs her being."

"There is a divine energy about her," said Lothair, almost speaking to himself. "It could not have been given for little ends."

"If Miss Arundel could meet with a spirit as and as energetic as her own," said Father. Coleman, "Her fate might be different. She has no thoughts which are not great, and no purposes which are not sublime. But for the companion of her life she would require no less than a Godfrey de Bouillon."

Lothair began to find the time pass very rapidly at Vauxe. Easter week had nearly vanished; Vauxe had been gay during the last few days. Every day some visitors came down from London; sometimes they returned in the evening; sometimes they passed the night at Vauxe, and returned to town in the morning with large bouquets. Lothair felt it was time for him to interfere, and he broke his intention to Lady St. Jerome; but Lady St. Jerome would not hear of it. So he muttered something about business.

"Exactly," she said; "everybody has business, and I dare say you have a great deal. But Vauxe is exactly the place for persons who have business. You go up to town by an early train, and then you return exactly in time for dinner, and bring us all the news from the clubs."

Lothair was beginning to say something, but Lady St. Jerome, who, when necessary, had the rare art of not listening without offending the speaker, told him that they did not intend themselves to return to town for a week or so, and that she knew Lord St. Jerome would be greatly annoyed if Lothair did not remain.

Lothair remained; and he went up to town one or two mornings to transact business; that is to say, to see a celebrated architect and to order plans for a cathedral, in which all the purposes of those sublime and exquisite structures were to be realized. The drawings would take a considerable time to prepare, and these must be deeply considered. So Lothair became quite domiciliated at Vauxe: he went up to town in the morning, and returned, as it were, to his home; everybody delighted to welcome him, and yet he seemed not expected. His rooms were called after his name; and the household treated him as one of the family.



CHAPTER 17

A few days before Lothair's visit was to terminate, the cardinal and Monsignore Berwick arrived at Vauxe. His eminence was received with much ceremony; the marshalled household, ranged in lines, fell on their knees at his approach, and Lady St. Jerome, Miss Arundel, and some other ladies, scarcely less choice and fair, with the lowest obeisance, touched, with their honored lips, his princely hand.

The monsignore had made another visit to Paris on his intended return to Rome, but, in consequence of some secret intelligence which he had acquired in the French capital, had thought fit to return to England to consult with the cardinal. There seemed to be no doubt that the revolutionary party in Italy, assured by the withdrawal of the French troops from Rome, were again stirring. There seemed also little doubt that London was the centre of preparation, though the project and the projectors were involved in much, mystery. "They want money," said the monsignore; "that we know, and that is now our best chance. The Aspromonte expedition drained their private resources; and as for further aid, that is out of the question; the galantuomo is bankrupt. But the atheists are desperate, and we must prepare for events."

On the morning after their arrival, the cardinal invited Lothair to a stroll in the park. "There is the feeling of spring this morning," said his eminence, "though scarcely yet its vision." It was truly a day of balm, and sweetness, and quickening life; a delicate mist hung about the huge trees and the masses of more distant woods, and seemed to clothe them with that fulness of foliage which was not yet theirs. The cardinal discoursed much on forest-trees, and, happily. He recommended Lothair to read Evelyn's "Sylva." Mr. Evelyn had a most accomplished mind; indeed, a character in every respect that approached perfection. He was also a most religious man.

"I wonder," said Lothair, "how any man who is religious can think of any thing but religion."

"True," said the cardinal, and looking at him earnestly, "most true. But all things that are good and beautiful make us more religious. They tend to the development of the religious principle in us, which is our divine nature. And, my dear young friend," and here his eminence put his arm easily and affectionately into that of Lothair, "it is a most happy thing for you, that you live so much with a really religious family. It is a great boon for a young man, and a rare one."

"I feel it so," said Lothair, his face kindling.

"Ah!" said the cardinal, "when we remember that this country once consisted only of such families!" And then, with a sigh, and as if speaking to himself, "And they made it so great and so beautiful!"

"It is still great and beautiful," said Lothair, but rather in a tone of inquiry than decision.

"But the cause of its greatness and its beauty no longer exists. It became great and beautiful because it believed in God."

"But faith is not extinct?" said Lothair.

"It exists in the Church," replied the cardinal, with decision. "All without that pale is practical atheism."

"It seems to me that a sense of duty is natural to man," said Lothair, "and that there can be no satisfaction in life without attempting to fulfil it."

"Noble words, my dear young friend; noble and true. And the highest duty of man, especially in this age, is to vindicate the principles of religion, without which the world must soon become a scene of universal desolation."

"I wonder if England will ever again be a religious country?" said Lothair, musingly.

"I pray for that daily," said the cardinal; and he invited his companion to seat himself on the trunk of an oak that had been lying there since the autumn fall. A slight hectic flame played over the pale and attenuated countenance of the cardinal; he seemed for a moment in deep thought; and then, in a voice distinct yet somewhat hushed, and at first rather faltering, he said: "I know not a grander, or a nobler career, for a young man of talents and position in this age, than to be the champion and asserter of Divine truth. It is not probable that there could be another conqueror in out time. The world is wearied of statesmen; whom democracy has degraded into politicians, and of orators who have become what they call debaters. I do not believe there could be another Dante, even another Milton. The world is devoted to physical science, because it believes these discoveries will increase its capacity of luxury and self-indulgence. But the pursuit of science leads only to the insoluble. When we arrive at that barren term, the Divine voice summons man, as it summoned Samuel; all the poetry and passion and sentiment of human nature are taking refuge in religion; and he, whose deeds and words most nobly represent Divine thoughts, will be the man of this century."

"But who could be equal to such a task?" murmured Lothair.

"Yourself," exclaimed the cardinal, and he threw his glittering eye upon his companion. "Any one with the necessary gifts, who had implicit faith in the Divine purpose."

"But the Church is perplexed; it is ambiguous, contradictory."

"No, no," said the cardinal; "not the Church of Christ; it is never perplexed, never ambiguous, never contradictory. Why should it be? How could it be? The Divine persons are ever with it, strengthening and guiding it with perpetual miracles. Perplexed churches are churches made by Act of Parliament, not by God."

Lothair seemed to start, and looked at his guardian with a scrutinizing glance. And then he said, but not without hesitation, "I experience at times great despondency."

"Naturally," replied the cardinal. "Every man must be despondent who is not a Christian."

"But I am a Christian," said Lothair.

"A Christian estranged," said the cardinal; "a Christian without the consolations of Christianity."

"There is something in that," said Lothair. "I require the consolations of Christianity, and yet I feel I have them not. Why is this?"

"Because what you call your religion is a thing apart from your life, and it ought to be your life. Religion should be the rule of life, not a casual incident of it. There is not a duty of existence, not a joy or sorrow which the services of the Church do not assert, or with which they do not sympathize. Tell me, now; you have, I was glad to hear, attended the services of the Church of late, since you have been under this admirable roof. Have you not then found some consolation?"

"Yes; without doubt I have been often solaced." And Lothair sighed.

"What the soul is to man, the Church is to the world," said the cardinal. "It is the link between us and the Divine nature. It came from heaven complete; it has never changed, and it can never alter. Its ceremonies are types of celestial truths; its services are suited to all the moods of man; they strengthen him in his wisdom and his purity, and control and save him in the hour of passion and temptation. Taken as a whole, with all its ministrations, its orders, its offices, and the divine splendor of its ritual, it secures us on earth some adumbration of that ineffable glory which awaits the faithful in heaven, where the blessed Mother of God and ten thousand saints perpetually guard over no with Divine intercession."

"I was not taught these things in my boyhood," said Lothair.

"And you might reproach me, and reasonably, as your guardian, for my neglect," said the cardinal. "But my power was very limited, and, when my duties commenced, you must remember that I was myself estranged from the Church, I was myself a Parliamentary Christian, till despondency and study and ceaseless thought and prayer, and the Divine will, brought me to light and rest. But I at least saved you from a Presbyterian university; I at least secured Oxford for you; and I can assure you, of my many struggles, that was not the least."

"It gave the turn to my mind," said Lothair, "and I am grateful to you for it. What it will all end in, God only knows."

"It will end in His glory and in yours," said the cardinal. "I have spoken, perhaps, too much and too freely, but you greatly interest me, not merely because you are my charge, and the son of my beloved friend, but because I perceive in you great qualities—qualities so great," continued the cardinal with earnestness, "that properly guided, they may considerably affect the history of this country, and perhaps even have a wider range."

Lothair shook his head.

"Well, well," continued the cardinal in a lighter tone, "we will pursue our ramble. At any rate, I am not wrong in this, that you have no objection to join in my daily prayer for the conversion of this kingdom to—religious truth," his eminence added after a pause.

"Yes religious truth," said Lothair, "we must all pray for that."



CHAPTER 18

Lothair returned to town excited and agitated. He felt that he was on the eve of some great event in his existence, but its precise character was not defined. One conclusion, however, was indubitable: life must be religion; when we consider what is at stake, and that our eternal welfare depends on our due preparation for the future, it was folly to spare a single hour from the consideration of the best means to secure our readiness. Such a subject does not admit of half measures or of halting opinions. It seemed to Lothair that nothing could interest him in life that was not symbolical of divine truths and an adumbration of the celestial hereafter.

Could truth have descended from heaven ever to be distorted, to be corrupted, misapprehended, misunderstood? Impossible! Such a belief would confound and contradict all the attributes of the All-wise and the All-mighty. There must be truth on earth now as fresh and complete is it was at Bethlehem. And how could it be preserved but by the influence of the Paraclete acting on an ordained class? On this head his tutor at Oxford had fortified him; by a conviction of the Apostolical succession of the English bishops, which no Act of Parliament could alter or affect. But Lothair was haunted by a feeling that the relations of his Communion with the Blessed Virgin were not satisfactory. They could not content either his heart or his intellect. Was it becoming that a Christian should live as regards the hallowed Mother of his God in a condition of harsh estrangement? What mediatorial influence more awfully appropriate than the consecrated agent of the mighty mystery? Nor could he, even in his early days, accept without a scruple the frigid system that would class the holy actors in the divine drama of the Redemption as mere units in the categories of vanished generations. Human beings who had been in personal relation with the Godhead must be different from other human beings. There must be some transcendent quality in their lives and careers, in their very organization, which marks them out from all secular heroes. What was Alexander the Great, or even Caius Julius, compared with that apostle whom Jesus loved?

Restless and disquieted, Lothair paced the long and lofty rooms which had been secured for him in a London hotel which rivalled the colossal convenience of Paris and the American cities. Their tawdry ornaments and their terrible new furniture would not do after the galleries and portraits of Vauxe. Lothair sighed.

Why did that visit ever end? Why did the world consist of any thing else but Tudor palaces in ferny parks, or time be other than a perpetual Holy Week? He never sighed at Vauxe. Why? He supposed it was because their religion was his life, and here—and he looked around him with a shudder. The cardinal was right: it was a most happy thing for him to be living so much with so truly a religious family.

The door opened, and servants came in bearing a large and magnificent portfolio. It was of morocco and of prelatial purple with broad bands of gold and alternate ornaments of a cross and a coronet. A servant handed to Lothair a letter, which enclosed the key that opened its lock. The portfolio contained the plans and drawings of the cathedral.

Lothair was lost in admiration of these designs and their execution. But after the first fever of investigation was over, he required sympathy and also information. In a truly religious family there would always be a Father Coleman or a Monsignore Catesby to guide and to instruct. But a Protestant, if he wants aid or advice on any matter, can only go to his solicitor. But as he proceeded in his researches he sensibly felt that the business was one above even an oratorian or a monsignore. It required a finer and a more intimate sympathy; a taste at the same time more inspired and more inspiring; some one who blended with divine convictions the graceful energy of human feeling, and who would not only animate him to effort but fascinate him to its fulfilment. The counsellor he required was Miss Arundel.

Lothair had quitted Vauxe one week, and it seemed to him a year. During the first four-and-twenty hours he felt like a child who had returned to school, and, the day after, like a man on a desert island. Various other forms of misery and misfortune were suggested by his succeeding experience. Town brought no distractions to him; he knew very few people, and these be had not yet encountered; he had once ventured to White's, but found only a group of gray-beaded men, who evidently did not know him, and who seemed to scan him with cynical nonchalance. These were not the golden youth whom he had been assured by Bertram would greet him; so, after reading a newspaper for a moment upside downward, he got away. But he had no harbor of refuge, and was obliged to ride down to Richmond and dine alone, and meditate on symbols and celestial adumbrations. Every day he felt how inferior was this existence to that of a life in a truly religious family.

But, of all the members of the family to which his memory recurred with such unflagging interest, none more frequently engaged his thoughts than Miss Arundel. Her conversation, which stimulated his intelligence while it rather piqued his self-love, exercised a great influence over him, and he had omitted no opportunity of enjoying her society. That society and its animating power he sadly missed; and now that he had before him the very drawings about which they had frequently talked, and she was not by his side to suggest and sympathize and criticism and praise, he felt unusually depressed.

Lothair corresponded with Lady St. Jerome, and was aware of her intended movements. But the return the family to London had been somewhat delayed. When this disappointment was first made known to him, his impulse was to ride down to Vauxe; but the tact in which he was not deficient assured him that he ought not to reappear on a stage where he had already figured for perhaps too considerable a time, and so another week had to be passed, softened, however, by visits from the father of the oratory and the chamberlain of his holiness, who came to look after Lothair with much friendliness, and with whom it was consolatory and even delightful for him to converse on sacred art, still holier things, and also Miss Arundel.

At length, though it seemed impossible, this second week elapsed, and to-morrow Lothair was to lunch with Lady St. Jerome in St. James's Square, and to meet all his friends. He thought of it all day, and he passed a restless night. He took an early canter to rally his energies, and his fancy was active in the splendor of the spring. The chestnuts were in silver bloom, and the pink May had flushed the thorns, and banks of sloping turf were radiant with plots of gorgeous flowers. The waters glittered in the sun, and the air was fragrant with that spell which only can be found in metropolitan mignonette. It was the hour and the season when heroic youth comes to great decisions, achieves exploits, or perpetrates scrapes.

Nothing could be more cordial, nothing more winning, than the reception of Lothair by Lady St. Jerome. She did not conceal her joy at their being again together. Even Miss Arundel, though still calm, even a little demure, seemed glad to see him: her eyes looked kind and pleased, and she gave him her hand with graceful heartiness. It was the sacred hour of two when Lothair arrived, and they were summoned to luncheon almost immediately. Then they were not alone; Lord St. Jerome was not there, but the priests were present and some others. Lothair, however, sat next to Miss Arundel.

"I have been thinking of you very often since I left Vauxe," said Lothair to his neighbor.

"Charitably, I am sure."

"I have been thinking of you every day," he continued, "for I wanted your advice."

"Ah! but that is not a popular thing to give."

"But it is precious—at least, yours is to me—and I want it now very much."

"Father Coleman told me you had got the plans for the cathedral," said Miss Arundel.

"And I want to show them to you."

"I fear I am only a critic," said Miss Arundel, "and I do not admire mere critics. I was very free in my comments to you on several subjects at Vauxe; and I must now say I thought you bore it very kindly."

"I was enchanted," said Lothair, "and desire nothing but to be ever subject to such remarks. But this affair of the cathedral, it is your own thought—I would fain hope your own wish, for unless it were your own wish I do not think I ever should be able to accomplish it."

"And when the cathedral is built," said Miss Arundel "what then?"

"Do you not remember telling me at Vauxe that all sacred buildings should be respected, for that in the long-run they generally fell to the professors of the true faith?"

"But when they built St. Peter's, they dedicated it to a saint in heaven," said Miss Arundel. "To whom is yours to be inscribed?"

"To a saint in heaven and in earth," said Lothair, blushing; "to St. Clare."

But Lady St. Jerome and her guests rose at this moment, and it is impossible to say with precision whether this last remark of Lothair absolutely reached the ear of Miss Arundel. She looked as if it had not. The priests and the other guests dispersed. Lothair accompanied the ladies to the drawing-room; he lingered, and he was meditating if the occasion served to say more.

Lady St. Jerome was writing a note, Mss Arundel was arranging some work, Lothair was affecting an interest in her employment in order that he might be seated by her and ask her questions, when the groom of the chambers entered and inquired whether her ladyship was at home, and being answered in the affirmative, retired, and announced and ushered in the duchess and Lady Corisande.



CHAPTER 19

It seemed that the duchess and Lady St. Jerome were intimate, for they called each other by their Christian names, and kissed each other. The young ladies also were cordial. Her grace greeted Lothair with heartiness; Lady Corisande with some reserve. Lothair thought she looked very radiant and very proud.

It was some time since they had all met—not since the end of the last season—so there was a great deal to talk about. There had been deaths and births and marriages which required a flying comment—all important events; deaths which solved many difficulties, heirs to estates which were not expected, and weddings which surprised everybody.

"And have you seen Selina?" inquired Lady St. Jerome.

"Not yet; except mamma, this is our first visit," replied the duchess.

"Ah! that is real friendship. She came down to Vauxe the other day, but I did not think she was looking well. She frets herself too much about her boys; she does not know what to do with them. They will not go into the Church, and they have no fortune for the Guards."

"I understood that Lord Plantagenet was to be a civil engineer," said Lady Corisande.

"And Lord Albert Victor to have a sheep-walk in Australia," continued Lady St. Jerome.

"They say that a lord must not go to the bar," said Miss Arundel. "It seems to me very unjust."

"Alfred Beaufort went the circuit," said Lady Corisande, "but I believe they drove him into Parliament."

"You will miss your friend Bertram at Oxford," said the duchess, addressing Lothair.

"Indeed," said Lothair, rather confused, for he was himself a defaulter in collegiate attendance. "I was just going to write to him to see whether one could not keep half a term."

"Oh! nothing will prevent his taking his degree," said the duchess, "but I fear there must be some delay. There is a vacancy for our county—Mr. Sandstone is dead, and they insist upon returning Bertram. I hope he will be of age before the nomination. The duke is much opposed to it; he wishes him to wait; but in these days it is not so easy for young men to get into Parliament. It is not as it used to be; we cannot choose."

"This is an important event," said Lothair to Lady Corisande.

"I think it is; nor do I believe Bertram is too young for public life. These are not times to be laggard."

"There is no doubt they are very serious times," said Lothair.

"I have every confidence in Bertram—in his ability and his principles."

The ladies began to talk about the approaching drawing-room and Lady Corisande's presentation, and Lothair thought it right to make his obeisance and withdraw. He met in the hall Father Coleman, who was in fact looking after him, and would have induced him to repair to the father's room and hold some interesting conversation, but Lothair was not so congenial as usual. He was even abrupt, and the father, who never pressed any thing, assuming that Lothair had some engagement, relinquished with a serene brow, but not without chagrin, what he had deemed might have proved a golden opportunity.

And yet Lothair had no engagement, and did not know where to go or what to do with himself. But he wanted to be alone, and of all persons in the world at that moment, he had a sort of instinct that the one he wished least to converse with was Father Coleman.

"She has every confidence in his principles," said Lothair to himself as he mounted his horse, "and his principles were mine six months ago, when I was at Brentham. Delicious Brentham! It seems like a dream; but every thing seems like a dream; I hardly know whether life is agony or bliss."



CHAPTER 20

The duke was one of the few gentlemen in, London who lived in a palace. One of the half-dozen of those stately structures that our capital boasts had fallen to his lot.

An heir-apparent to the throne, in the earlier days of the present dynasty, had resolved to be lodged as became a prince, and had raised, amid gardens which he had diverted from one of the royal parks, an edifice not unworthy of Vicenza in its best days, though on a far more extensive scale than any pile that favored city boasts. Before the palace was finished, the prince died, and irretrievably in debt. His executors were glad to sell to the trustees of the ancestors of the chief of the house of Brentham the incomplete palace, which ought never to have been commenced. The ancestor of the duke was by no means so strong a man as the duke himself, and prudent people rather murmured at the exploit. But it was what is called a lucky family—that is to say, a family with a charm that always attracted and absorbed heiresses; and perhaps the splendor of CRECY HOUSE—for it always retained its original title—might have in some degree contributed to fascinate the taste or imagination of the beautiful women who, generation after generation, brought their bright castles and their broad manors to swell the state and rent-rolls of the family who were so kind to Lothair.

The centre of Crecy House consisted of a hall of vast proportion, and reaching to the roof. Its walls commemorated, in paintings by the most celebrated artists of the age, the exploits of the Black Prince; and its coved ceiling, in panels resplendent with Venetian gold, contained the forms and portraits of English heroes. A corridor round this hall contained the most celebrated private collection of pictures in England and opened into a series of sumptuous saloons.

It was a rather early hour when Lothair, the morning after his meeting the duchess at Lady St. Jerome's, called at Crecy House; but it was only to leave his card. He would not delay for a moment paying his respects there, and yet he shrank from thrusting himself immediately into the circle. The duke's brougham was in the court-yard. Lothair was holding his groom's horse, who had dismounted, when the hall-door opened, and his grace and Bertram came forth.

"Halloa, old fellow!" exclaimed Bertram, "only think of your being here. It seems an age since we met. The duchess was telling us about you at breakfast."

"Go in and see them," said the duke, "there is a large party at luncheon; Augusta Montairy is there. Bertram and I are obliged to go to Lincoln's Inn, something about his election."

But Lothair murmured thanks and declined.

"What are you going to do with yourself to-day?" said the duke. And Lothair hesitating, his grace continued: "Well, then, come and dine with us."

"Of course you will come, old fellow. I have not seen you since you left Oxford at the beginning of the year. And then we can settle about your term." And Lothair assenting, they drove away.

It was nine o'clock before they dined. The days were getting very long, and soft, and sweet; the riding-parties lingered amid the pink May and the tender twilight breeze. The Montairys dined to-day at Crecy House, and a charming married daughter without her husband, and Lord and Lady Clanmorne, who were near kin to the duchess, and themselves so good-looking and agreeable that they were as good at a dinner-party as a couple of first-rate entr es. There was also Lord Carisbrooke, a young man of distinguished air and appearance; his own master, with a large estate, and three years or so older than Lothair.

They dined in the Chinese saloon, which was of moderate dimensions, but bright with fantastic forms and colors, brilliantly lit up. It was the privilege of Lothair to hand the duchess to her seat. He observed that Lord Carisbrooke was placed next to Lady Corisande, though he had not taken her out.

"This dinner reminds me of my visit to Brentham," said Lothair.

"Almost the same party," said the duchess.

"The visit to Brentham was the happiest time of my life," said Lothair, moodily.

"But you have seen a great deal since," said the duchess.

"I am not a sure it is of any use seeing things," said Lothair.

When the ladies retired, there was some talk about horses. Lord Carisbrooke was breeding; Lothair thought it was a duty to breed, but not to go on the turf. Lord Carisbrooke thought there could be no good breeding without racing; Lothair was of opinion that races might be confined to one's own parks, with no legs admitted, and immense prizes, which must cause emulation. Then they joined the ladies, and then, in a short time, there was music. Lothair hovered about Lady Corisande, and at last seized a happy opportunity of addressing her.

"I shall never forget your singing at Brentham," he said; "at first I thought it might be as Lady Montairy said, because I was not used to fine singing; but I heard the Venusina the other day, and I prefer your voice and style."

"Have you heard the Venusina?" said Lady Corisande, with animation; "I know nothing that I look forward to with more interest. But I was told she was not to open her mouth until she appeared at the opera. Where did you hear her?"

"Oh, I heard her," said Lothair, "at the Roman Catholic cathedral."

"I am sure I shall never hear her there," said Lady Corisande, looking very grave.

"Do not you think music a powerful accessory to religion?" said Lothair, but a little embarrassed.

"Within certain limits," said Lady Corisande—"the limits I am used to; but I should prefer to hear opera-singers at the opera."

"Ah! if all amateurs could sing like you," said Lothair, "that would be unnecessary. But a fine mass by Mozart—it requires great skill as well as power to render it. I admire no one so much as Mozart, and especially his masses. I have been hearing a great many of them lately."

"So we understood," said Lady Corisande, rather dryly, and looking about her as if she were not much interested, or at any rate not much gratified by the conversation.

Lothair felt he was not getting on, and he wished to get on, but he was socially inexperienced, and his resources not much in hand. There was a pause—it seemed to him an awkward pause; and then Lady Corisande walked away and addressed Lady Clanmorne.

Some very fine singing began at this moment; the room was hushed, no one moved, and Lothair, undisturbed, had the opportunity of watching his late companion. There was something in Lady Corisande that to him was irresistibly captivating; and as he was always thinking and analyzing, he employed himself in discovering the cause. "She is not particularly gracious," he said to himself, "at least not to me; she is beautiful, but so are others; and others, like her, are clever—perhaps more clever. But there is something in her brow, her glance, her carriage, which intimate what they call character, which interests me. Six months ago I was in love with her, because I thought she was like her sisters. I love her sisters, but she is not the least like them."

The music ceased; Lothair moved away, and he approached the duke.

"I have a favor to ask your grace," he said. "I have made up my mind that I shall not go back to Oxford this term; would your grace do me the great favor of presenting me at the next lev e?"



CHAPTER 21

One's life changes in a moment. Half a month ago, Lothair, without an acquaintance, was meditating his return to Oxford. Now he seemed to know everybody who was anybody. His table was overflowing with invitations to all the fine houses in town. First came the routs and the balls; then, when he had been presented to the husbands, came the dinners. His kind friends the duchess and Lady St. Jerome were the fairies which had worked this sudden scene of enchantment. A single word from them, and London was at Lothair's feet.

He liked it amazingly. He quite forgot the conclusion at which he had arrived respecting society a year ago, drawn from his vast experience of the single party which he had then attended. Feelings are different when you know a great many persons, and every person is trying to please you; above all, when there are individuals whom you want to meet, and whom, if you do not meet, you become restless.

Town was beginning to blaze. Broughams whirled and bright barouches glanced, troops of social cavalry cantered and caracolled in morning rides, and the bells of prancing ponies, lashed by delicate hands, jingled in the laughing air. There were stoppages in Bond Street, which seems to cap the climax of civilization, after crowded clubs and swarming parks.

But the great event of the season was the presentation of Lady Corisande. Truly our bright maiden of Brentham woke and found herself famous. There are families whom everybody praises, and families who are treated in a different way. Either will do; all the sons and daughters of the first succeed; all the sons and daughters of the last are encouraged in perverseness by the prophetic determination of society. Half a dozen married sisters, who were the delight and ornament of their circles, in the case of Lady Corisande were good precursors of popularity; but the world would not be content with that: they credited her with all their charms and winning qualities, but also with something grander and supreme; and from the moment her fair cheek was sealed by the gracious approbation of majesty, all the critics of the court at once recognized her as the cynosure of the empyrean.

Monsignore Catesby, who looked after Lothair, and was always breakfasting with him without the necessity of an invitation—a fascinating man, and who talked upon all subjects except high mass—knew every thing that took place at court without being himself. He led the conversation to the majestic theme, and while he seemed to be busied in breaking an egg with delicate precision, and hardly listening to the frank expression of opinions which he carelessly encouraged, obtained a not insufficient share of Lothair's views and impressions of human beings and affairs in general during the last few days, which had witnessed a leve and a drawing-room.

"Ah! then, you were so fortunate as to know the beauty before her debut but," said the monsignore.

"Intimately; her brother is my friend. I was at Brentham last summer. Delicious place! and the most agreeable visit I ever made in my life—at least, one of the most agreeable."

"Ah, ah!" said the monsignore. "Let me ring for some toast."

On the I night of the drawing-room a great ball was given at Crecy House, to celebrate the entrance of Corisande into the world. It was a sumptuous festival. The palace, resonant with fantastic music, blazed amid illumined gardens rich with summer warmth.

A prince of the blood was dancing with Lady Corisande. Lothair was there, vis-a-vis with Miss Arundel.

"I delight in this hall," she said to Lothair; "but how superior the pictured scene to the reality!"

"What! would you like, then, to be in a battle?"

"I should like to be with heroes, wherever they might be. What a fine character was the Black Prince! And they call those days the days of superstition!"

The silver horns sounded a brave flourish. Lothair had to advance and meet Lady Corisande. Her approaching mien was full of grace and majesty, but Lothair thought there was a kind expression in her glance, which seemed to remember Brentham, and, that he was her brother's friend.

A little later in the evening he was her partner. He could not refrain from congratulating her on the beauty and the success of the festival.

"I am glad you are pleased, and I am glad you think it successful; but, you know, I am no judge, for this is my first ball!"

"Ah! to be sure; and yet it seems impossible," he contended, in a tone of murmuring admiration.

"Oh! I have been at little dances at my sisters'—half behind the door," she added, with a slight smile. "But to-night I am present at a scene of which I have only read."

"And how do you like balls?" said Lothair.

"I think I shall like them very much," said Lady Corisande; "but to-night, I will confess, I am a little nervous."

"You do not look so."

"I am glad of that."

"Why?"

"Is it not a sign of weakness?"

"Can feeling be weakness?"

"Feeling without sufficient cause is, I should think." And then, and in a tone of some archness, she said, "And how do you like balls?"

"Well, I like them amazingly," said Lothair. "They seem to me to have every quality which can render an entertainment agreeable: music, light, flowers, beautiful faces, graceful forms, and occasionally charming conversation."

"Yes; and that never lingers," said Lady Corisande, "for see, I am wanted."

When they were again undisturbed, Lothair regretted the absence of Bertram, who was kept at the House.

"It is a great disappointment," said Lady Corisande; "but he will yet arrive, though late. I should be most unhappy, though, if he were absent from his post on such an occasion. I am sure if he were here, I could not dance."

"You are a most ardent politician," said Lothair.

"Oh! I do not care in the least about common politics—parties, and office, and all that; I neither regard nor understand them," replied Lady Corisande. "But when wicked men try to destroy the country, then I like my family to be in the front."

As the destruction of the country meditated this night by wicked men was some change in the status of the Church of England, which Monsignore Catesby in the morning had suggested to Lothair as both just and expedient and highly conciliatory, Lothair did not pursue the theme, for he had a greater degree of tact than usually falls to the lot of the ingenuous.

The bright moments flew on. Suddenly there was a mysterious silence in the hall, followed by a kind of suppressed stir. Every one seemed: to be speaking with bated breath, or, if moving, walking on tiptoe. It was the supper-hour—

"Soft hour which wakes the wish and melts the heart."

"Royalty, followed by the imperial presence of ambassadors, and escorted by a group of dazzli, not a casual incident of it. There is not a duty of existence, not a joy or sorrow which the services of the Church do not assert, or with which they do not sympathize. Tell me, now; you have, I was glad to hear, attended the services of the Church of late, since you have been under this admirable roof. Have you not then found some consolation?"

"Yes; without doubt I have been often solaced." And Lothair sighed.

"What the soul is to man, the Church is to the world," said the cardinal. "It is the link between us and the Divine nature. It came from heaven complete; it has never changed, and it can never alter. Its ceremonies are types of celestial truths; its services are suited to all the moods of man; they strengthen him in his wisdom and his purity, and control and save him in the hour of passion and temptation. Taken as a whole, with all its ministrations, its orders, its offices, and the divine splendor of its ritual, it secures us on earth some adumbration of that ineffable glory which awaits the faithful in heaven, where the blessed Mother of God and ten thousand saints perpetually guard over no with Divine intercession."

"I was not taught these things in my boyhood," said Lothair.

"And you might reproach me, and reasonably, as your guardian, for my neglect," said the cardinal. "But my power was very limited, and, when my duties commenced, you must remember that I was myself estranged from the Church, I was myself a Parliamentary Christian, till despondency and study and ceaseless thought and prayer, and the Divine will, brought me to light and rest. But I at least saved you from a Presbyterian university; I at least secured Oxford for you; and I can assure you, of my many struggles, that was not the least."

"It gave the turn to my mind," said Lothair, "and I am grateful to you for it. What it will all end in, God only knows."

"It will end in His glory and in yours," said the cardinal. "I have spoken, and here is my chair."

"On no account; half of it and some soup will satisfy me."

"I should have thought you would have been with the swells," said Hugo Bohun.

"That does not exactly suit me," said St. Aldegonde. "I was ticketed to the Duchess of Salop, but I got a first-rate substitute with the charm of novelty for her grace, and sent her in with Lothair."

St. Aldegonde was the heir-apparent of the wealthiest, if not the most ancient, dukedom in the United Kingdom. He was spoiled, but he knew it. Had he been an ordinary being, he would have merely subsided into selfishness and caprice; but, having good abilities and a good disposition, he was eccentric, adventurous, and sentimental. Notwithstanding the apathy which had been engendered by premature experience, St. Aldegonde held extreme opinions, especially on political affairs, being a republican of the reddest dye. He was opposed to all privilege, and indeed to all orders of men, except dukes, who were a necessity. He was also strongly in favor of the equal division of all property, except land. Liberty depended on land, and the greater the land-owners, the greater the liberty of a country. He would hold forth on this topic even with energy, amazed at any one differing from him; "As if a fellow could have too much land," he would urge, with a voice and glance which defied contradiction. St. Aldegonde had married for love, and he loved his wife, but he was strongly in favor of woman's rights and their extremest consequences. It was thought that he had originally adopted these latter views with the amiable intention of piquing Lady St. Aldegonde; but if so, he had not succeeded. Beaming with brightness, with the voice and airiness of a bird, and a cloudless temper, Albertha St. Aldegonde had from the first hour of her marriage, concentrated her intelligence, which was not mean, on one object; and that was, never to cross her husband on any conceivable topic. They had been married several years, and she treated him as a darling spoiled child. When he cried for the moon, it was promised him immediately; however irrational his proposition, she always assented to it, though generally by tact and vigilance she guided him in the right direction. Nevertheless, St. Aldegonde was sometimes in scrapes; but then he always went and told his best friend, whose greatest delight was to extricate him from his perplexities and embarrassments.



CHAPTER 22

Although Lothair was not in the slightest degree shaken in his conviction that life should be entirely religious, he was perplexed by the inevitable obstacles which seemed perpetually to oppose themselves to the practice of his opinions. It was not merely pleasure in its multiform appearances that he had to contend against, but business began imperiously to solicit his attention. Every month brought him nearer to his majority, and the frequent letters from Mr. Putney Giles now began to assume the pressing shape of solicitations for personal interviews. He had a long conversation one morning with Father Coleman on this subject, who greatly relieved him by the assurance that a perfectly religious life was one of which the sovereign purpose was to uphold the interests of the Church of Christ, the father added after a momentary pause. Business, and even amusement, were, not only compatible with such a purpose, but might even be conducive to its fulfilment.

Mr. Putney Giles reminded Lothair that the attainment of his majority must be celebrated, and in a becoming manner. Preparation, and even considerable preparation, was necessary. There were several scenes of action—some very distant. It was not too early to contemplate arrangements. Lothair really must confer with his guardians. They were both now in town, the Scotch uncle having come up to attend Parliament. Could they be brought together? Was it indeed impossible? If so, who was to give the necessary instructions?

It was much more than a year since Lothair had met his uncle, and he did not anticipate much satisfaction from the renewal of their intimacy; but every feeling of propriety demanded that it should be recognized, and to a certain degree revived. Lord Culloden was a black Scotchman, tall and lean, with good features, a hard red face and iron-gray hair. He was a man who shrank from scenes, and he greeted Lothair as if they had only parted yesterday. Looking at him with his keen, unsentimental, but not unkind, eye, he said: "Well, sir, I thought you would have been at Oxford."

"Yes, my dear uncle; but circumstances—"

"Well, well, I don't want to hear the cause. I am very glad you are not there; I believe you might as well be at Rome."

And then in due course, and after some talk of the past and old times, Lothair referred to the suggestions of Mr. Giles, and hinted at a meeting of his guardians to confer and advise together.

"No, no," said the Scotch peer, shaking his head; "I will have nothing to do with the Scarlet Lady. Mr. Giles is an able and worthy man; he may well be trusted to draw up a programme for our consideration, and indeed it is an affair in which yourself should be most consulted. Let all be done liberally, for you have a great inheritance, and I would be no curmudgeon in these matters."

"Well, my dear uncle, whatever is arranged, I hope you and my cousins will honor and gratify me with your presence throughout the proceedings."

"Well, well, it is not much in my way. You will be having balls and fine ladies. There is no fool like an old fool, they say; but I think, from what I hear, the young fools will beat us in the present day. Only think of young persons going over to the Church of Rome. Why, they are just naturals!"

The organizing genius of Mr. Putney Giles had rarely encountered a more fitting theme than the celebration of the impending majority. There was place for all his energy and talent and resources; a great central inauguration; sympathetical festivals and gatherings in half a dozen other counties; the troth, as it were, of a sister kingdom to be pledged; a vista of balls and banquets, and illuminations and addresses, of ceaseless sports and speeches, and processions alike endless.

"What I wish to effect," said Mr. Giles, as he was giving his multifarious orders, "is to produce among all classes an impression adequate to the occasion. I wish the lord and the tenantry alike to feel they have a duty to perform."

In the mean time, Monsignore Catesby was pressing Lothair to become one of the patrons of a Roman Catholic Bazaar, where Lady St. Jerome and Miss Arundel were to preside over a stall. It was of importance to show that charity was not the privilege of any particular creed.

Between his lawyers, and his monsignores, and his architects, Lothair began to get a little harassed. He was disturbed in his own mind, too, on greater matters, and seemed to feel every day that it was more necessary to take a decided step, and more impossible to decide upon what it should be. He frequently saw the cardinal, who was very kind to him, but who had become more reserved on religious subjects. He had dined more than once with his eminence, and had met some distinguished prelates and some of his fellow-nobles who had been weaned from the errors of their cradle. The cardinal, perhaps, thought that the presence of these eminent converts would facilitate the progress, perhaps the decision, of his ward; but something seemed always to happen to divert Lothair in his course. It might-be sometimes apparently a very slight cause, but yet for the time sufficient; a phrase of Lady Corisande for example, who, though she never directly addressed him on the subject, was nevertheless deeply interested in his spiritual condition.

"You ought to speak to him, Bertram," she said one day to her brother very indignantly, as she read a fresh paragraph alluding to an impending conversion. "You are his friend. What is the use of friendship if not in such a crisis as this?"

"I see no use in speaking to a man about love or religion," said Bertram; "they are both stronger than friendship. If there be any foundation for the paragraph, my interference would be of no avail; if there be none, I should only make myself ridiculous."

Nevertheless, Bertram looked a little more after his friend, and disturbing the monsignore, who was at breakfast with Lothair one morning, Bertram obstinately outstayed the priest, and then said: "I tell you what, old fellow, you are rather hippish; I wish you were in the House of Commons."

"So do I," said Lothair, with a sigh; "but I have come into every thing ready-made. I begin to think it very unfortunate."

"What are you going to do with yourself to-day? If you be disengaged, I vote we dine together at White's, and then we will go down to the House. I will take you to the smoking-room and introduce you to Bright, and we will trot him out on primogeniture."

At this moment the servant brought Lothair two letters: one was an epistle from Father Coleman, meeting Lothair's objections to becoming a patron of the Roman Catholic Bazaar, in a very unctuous and exhaustive manner; and the other from his stud-groom at Oxford, detailing some of those disagreeable things which will happen with absent masters who will not answer letters. Lothair loved his stable, and felt particularly anxious to avoid the threatened visit of Father Coleman on the morrow. His decision was rapid. "I must go down, this afternoon to Oxford, my dear fellow. My stable is in confusion. I shall positively return to-morrow, and I will dine with you at White's, and we will go to the House of Commons together, or go to the play."



CHAPTER 23

Lothair's stables were about three miles from Oxford. They were a rather considerable establishment, in which he had taken much interest, and, having always intended to return to Oxford in the early part of the year, although he had occasionally sent for a hack or two to London, his stud had been generally maintained.

The morning after his arrival, he rode over to the stables, where he had ordered his drag to be ready. About a quarter of a mile before he reached his place of destination, he observed at some little distance a crowd in the road, and, hastening on, perceived as he drew nearer a number of men clustered round a dismantled vehicle, and vainly endeavoring to extricate and raise a fallen horse; its companion, panting and foaming, with broken harness but apparently uninjured, standing aside and held by a boy. Somewhat apart stood a lady alone. Lothair immediately dismounted and approached her, saying, "I fear you are in trouble, madam. Perhaps I may be of service?"

The lady was rather tall, and of a singularly distinguished presence. Her air and her costume alike intimated high breeding and fashion. She seemed quite serene amid the tumult and confusion, and apparently the recent danger. As Lothair spoke, she turned her head to him, which had been at first a little averted, and he beheld a striking countenance, but one which he instantly felt he did not see for the first time.

She bowed with dignity to Lothair, and said in a low but distinct voice: "You are most courteous, sir. We have had a sad: accident, but a great escape. Our horses ran away with us, and, had it not been for that heap of stones, I do not see how we could have been saved."

"Fortunately my stables are at hand," said Lothair, "and I have a carriage waiting for me at this moment, not a quarter of a mile away. It is at your service, and I will send for it," and his groom, to whom he gave directions, galloped off.

There was a shout as the fallen horse was on his legs again, much cut, and the carriage shattered and useless. A gentleman came from the crowd and approached the lady. He was tall and fair, and not ill-favored, with fine dark eyes and high cheekbones, and still young, though an enormous beard at the first glance gave him an impression of years, the burden of which he really did not bear. His dress, though not vulgar, was richer and more showy than is usual in this country, and altogether there was something in his manner which, though calm and full of self-respect, was different from the conventional refinement of England. Yet he was apparently an Englishman, as he said to the lady, "It is a bad business, but we must be thankful it is no worse. What troubles me is how you are to get back. It will be a terrible walk over these stony roads, and I can hear of no conveyance."

"My husband," said the lady, as with dignity she presented the person to Lothair. "This gentleman," she continued, "has most kindly offered us the use of his carriage, which is almost at hand."

"Sir, you are a friend," said the gentleman. "I thought there were no horses that I could not master, but it seems I am mistaken. I bought these only yesterday; took a fancy to them as we were driving about, and bought them of a dealer in the road."

"That seems a clever animal," said Lothair, pointing to the one uninjured.

"Ah! you like horses?" said the gentleman.

"Well, I have some taste that way."

"We are visitors to Oxford," said the lady. "Colonel Campian, like all Americans, is very interested in the ancient parts of England."

"To-day we were going to Blenheim," said the colonel, "but I thought I would try these new tits a bit on a by-road first."

"All's well that ends well," said Lothair; "and there is no reason why you should not fulfil your intention of going to Blenheim, for here is my carriage, and it is entirely at your service for the whole day, and, indeed, as long as you stay at Oxford."

"Sir, there requires no coronet on Your carriage to tell me you are a nobleman," said the colonel. "I like frank manners, and I like your team. I know few things that would please me more than to try them."

They were four roans, highly bred, with black manes and tails. They had the Arab eye, with arched neck and seemed proud of themselves and their master.

"I do not see why we should not go to Blenheim," said the colonel.

"Well, not to-day," said the lady, "I think. We have had an escape, but one feels these things a little more afterward than at the time. I would rather go back to Oxford and be quiet; and there is more than one college which you have not yet seen."

"My team is entirely at your service wherever you go," said Lothair; "but I cannot venture to drive you to Oxford, for I am there in statu pupillari and a proctor might arrest us all. But perhaps," and he approached the lady, "you will permit me to call on you to-morrow, when I hope I may find you have not suffered by this misadventure."

"We have got a professor dining with us to-day at seven o'clock," said the colonel, "at our hotel, and if you be disengaged and would join the party you would add to the favors which you know so well how to confer."

Lothair handed the lady into the carriage, the colonel mounted the box and took the ribbons like a master, and the four roans trotted away with their precious charge and their two grooms behind with folded arms and imperturbable countenances.

Lothair watched the equipage until it vanished in the distance.

"It is impossible to forget that countenance," he said; "and I fancy I did hear at the time that she had married an American. Well, I shall meet her at dinner—that is something." And he sprang into his saddle.



CHAPTER 24

The Oxford professor, who was the guest of the American colonel, was quite a young man, of advanced opinions on all subjects, religious, social, and political. He was clever, extremely well-informed, so far as books can make a man knowing, but unable to profit even by his limited experience of life from a restless vanity and overflowing conceit, which prevented him from ever observing or thinking of any thing but himself. He was gifted with a great command of words, which took the form of endless exposition, varied by sarcasm and passages of ornate jargon. He was the last person one would have expected to recognize in an Oxford professor; but we live in times of transition.

A Parisian man of science, who had passed his life in alternately fighting at barricades and discovering planets, had given Colonel Campian, who had lived much in the French capital, a letter of introduction to the professor, whose invectives against the principles of English society were hailed by foreigners as representative of the sentiments of venerable Oxford. The professor, who was not satisfied with his home career, and, like many men of his order of mind, had dreams of wild vanity which the New World, they think, can alone realize, was very glad to make the colonel's acquaintance, which might facilitate his future movements. So he had lionized the distinguished visitors during the last few days over the university, and had availed himself of plenteous opportunities for exhibiting to them his celebrated powers of exposition, his talent for sarcasm, which he deemed peerless, and several highly-finished, picturesque passages, which were introduced with contemporary art.

The professor was very much surprised when he saw Lothair enter the saloon at the hotel. He was the last person in Oxford whom he expected to encounter. Like sedentary men of extreme opinions, he was a social parasite, and instead of indulging in his usual invectives against peers and princes, finding himself unexpectedly about to dine with one of that class, he was content only to dazzle and amuse him.

Mrs. Campian only entered the room when dinner was announced. She greeted Lothair with calmness but amenity, and took his offered arm.

"You have not suffered, I hope?" said Lothair.

"Very little, and through your kindness."

It was a peculiar voice, low and musical, too subdued to call thrilling, but a penetrating voice, so that, however ordinary the observation, it attracted and impressed attention. But it was in harmony with all her appearance and manner. Lothair thought he had never seen any one or any thing so serene; the serenity, however, not of humbleness, nor of merely conscious innocence; it was not devoid of a degree of majesty; what one pictures of Olympian repose. And the countenance was Olympian: a Phidian face, with large gray eyes and dark lashes; wonderful hair, abounding without art, and gathered together by Grecian fillets.

The talk was of Oxford, and was at first chiefly maintained by the colonel and the professor.

"And do you share Colonel Campian's feeling about Old England?" inquired Lothair of his hostess.

"The present interests me more than the past," said the lady, "and the future more than the present."

"The present seems to me as unintelligible as the future," said Lothair.

"I think it is intelligible," said the lady, with a faint smile. "It has many faults but, not, I think, the want of clearness."

"I am not a destructive," said the professor, addressing the colonel, but speaking loudly; "I would maintain Oxford, under any circumstances, with the necessary changes."

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