'And you of the cast of the Stand-stills.'
'Oh no. I conceive myself to be among children at a fair, riding in a round-about. Like the globe they inhabit, men are continually in motion: but they can never pass their circle.'
'And do you suppose you know the limits of your circle?'
'Within a trifle. The experience of states, empires, and ages has decided that question with tolerable accuracy.'
'But, what if a power should have arisen, of which you have not had the experience of states, empires and ages; except of a very small number? And what if this partial experience, as far as it goes, should entirely overthrow your hypothesis?'
'I know that, in argument, your if is a very renowned potentate. If the moon should happen to be a cheese, it may some time or another chance to fall about our ears in a shower of maggots. But what is this mighty power, that has done so much in so short a time; and from which you expect so many more miracles?'
'It is the art of printing. When knowledge was locked up in Egyptian temples, or secreted by Indian Bramins for their own selfish traffic, it was indeed difficult to increase this imaginary circle of yours: but no sooner was it diffused among mankind, by the discovery of the alphabet, than, in a short period, it was succeeded by the wonders of Greece and Rome. And now, that its circulation is facilitated in so incalculable a degree, who shall be daring enough to assert his puny standard is the measure of all possible futurity? I am amazed, sir, that a man of your acuteness, your readiness of wit, and your strength of imagination, can persist in such an affirmative!'
'The argumentum ad hominem. Very sweet and delectable. Thank you, sir.'
'Every thing is subject to change: why not therefore to improvement? That change is inevitable there are proofs look where you will: that which is called innovation must consequently be indispensible. Examine the history of your own science. When England was infested with wolves, we are told that King Edgar imposed an annual tribute of thirty wolves' heads on the Welsh Princes; that the breed might be extirpated. Had this tribute been levied, after the race was partly destroyed, the law would have counteracted its own intention: for, in order to pay the tax, the tributary Princes must have encouraged the breed; and once more have stocked the country with wolves.'
Stradling was little better than infected with what have been lately stigmatised by the appellation of Jacobinical principles, and exclaimed, with great exultation—'Your remark is very true, sir; and it is an example that will serve admirably well to illustrate another point. Placemen and pensioners, a race more ravenous and infinitely more destructive than wolves, have been propagated for the support of the Executive Government; and the breed increases so rapidly that it will very soon devour its feeders.'
'And next itself.'
'With all my heart! Let me but see that vermin extirpated, and I shall die in peace!'
'Very right, Mr. Stradling;' said Trottman, with great gravity. 'Placemen, and pensioners are vile vermin! And so will remain, till your party comes into office.'
'If ever I could be brought to accept of place, or pension, may I—!'
'I believe you: for I am well persuaded your virtue will never be put to the trial. Otherwise, I should imagine, it would find as many good arguments, I mean precedents, in favour of the regular practice in politics as in law.'
Here our dialogue paused. Dinner was announced, and law, politics, and patriotism were for a while forgotten, by all except myself, in the enjoyments of venison and old port.
More painful doubts, and further enquiries: Unexpected encouragement and warm affections from a character before supposed to be too cold: Hope strengthened and confirmed
Desultory as the conversation I have recited had been, it left a very deep impression upon my mind. It was roundly asserted, by every lawyer to whom I put the question, that the whole and sole business of a counsellor was the defence of his client. Right or wrong, it was his duty to gain his cause; and, with respect to the justice of it, into that, generally speaking, it was impossible that he should enquire. Briefs were frequently put into his hand as he entered the Court; which he was to follow as instructed.
It did now and then happen that a cause was so infamous as to put even the hacknied brow of a barrister to the blush: but it must be a vile one indeed! And even then, when he threw up his brief, though paid before he began to plead, it was matter of admiration to meet so disinterested an example of virtue, in an advocate.
It was in the practice of the law that I hoped to have taken refuge, against the arguments of Turl: which, averse as I had been to listen, proved even to me that, in principle, it was not to be defended.
The train of thinking that followed these deductions was so very painful that I was obliged to fly from them; and seek advice and confirmation in the friendship of Wilmot, before I should write on the subject to Mr. Evelyn. For the latter task indeed my mind was not yet sufficiently calm, collected, and determined.
My chief consolation was that the subject had thus been strongly brought to the test of enquiry, before the expiration of the month which, according to agreement, I was to be with Counsellor Ventilate, previous to the payment of my admission-fee; of which, as it was a heavy one, thus to have robbed the charities of Mr. Evelyn would have given me excessive anguish.
I know not whether I was sorry or glad when I came to Wilmot's lodging, to find Turl there. He had returned from his bathing excursion; having been called back sooner than he expected by his affairs.
He was cheerful, and in excellent spirits. His complexion was clear, his health improved, and his joy at our meeting was evident and unaffected. He even owned that, hearing I had devoted myself to the law, he had returned thus soon the more willingly once again to argue the question with me: for that he felt himself very highly interested in the future employment of talents of which he had conceived extraordinary hopes; and that he thought it impossible they should be devoted to such a confusing study, were there no other objection to it, as that of the law, without being, not only perverted and abused, but, in a great degree, stifled.
After an avowal like this, it required an effort in me to summon up my resolution, and honestly state the doubts and difficulties that had arisen in my own mind. It was happy for me that my friends were men whose habitual sincerity prompted me to a similar conduct. I therefore took courage, opened my heart, and, while describing my own sensations, was impelled to confess that the practice of the law could with great difficulty indeed be reconciled to the principles of undeviating honesty.
'I most sincerely rejoice,' said Turl, 'that these doubts have been suggested to you by other people, rather than by me: for I am very desirous you should not continue to think me too prone to censure. And, in addition to them, I would have you take a retrospect of your plan. To induce you to despond is a thing which I would most sedulously avoid: but to suffer you to delude yourself with the hopes of sudden wealth (and when I say sudden, I would give you a term of ten years) from the practice of the law, unless you should plunge into that practice with the most unqualified disregard to all that rectitude demands, would be to act the cowardly disingenuous hypocrite; and entirely to forget the first and best duties of friendship.
'Should you ask—"What path then am I to pursue?" I own I am totally at a loss for an answer. The choice must be left to yourself. You are not ignorant that it is infinitely more easy to point out mistakes, which have been and still continue to be committed daily, than to teach how they may be entirely avoided. Of this I am well assured, if you will confide in and exert those powers of mind that you possess, they must lead you to a degree of happiness of the enjoyment of which, I am sorry to say, but few are capable.
'From my own experience and from that of all the young men I meet, who are thrown upon the world, I find that the period which is most critical and full of danger, is the one during which they are obliged unsupported to seek a grateful and worthy way of employing their talents.
'My own resource has been that of cheerfully submitting to what are called the hardships of obscure poverty; and of consoling myself, not only with a firm persuasion that by this course in time I shall infallibly change the scene, but that, till this time shall come, I am employing myself on the subjects which can best afford me present satisfaction. That is, in endeavours, however narrow and feeble, to enlarge the boundaries of human happiness; and by means like these to find a sufficiency for my own support.
'I know not that I ought to advise you to pursue a similar plan: though I can truly say I am unacquainted with any other, which is equally promising.
'How to answer or appease the imperious demands of your present ruling passion I cannot devise. Neither can I say that I am convinced it is blameable except in its excess. That you should desire to obtain so rare and inestimable a treasure as that of a woman who, not to insist upon her peculiar beauty, is possessed of the high faculties with which she whom you love is affirmed to be endowed, is an ambition which my heart knows not how to condemn as unworthy. There is something in it so congenial to all my own feelings that to see you united to her would give me inexpressible pleasure.
'You will perhaps be surprised to hear me own that, notwithstanding the obstacles are so numerous that I have no perception of the manner in which they are to be overcome, I yet rejoice with you that you have discovered such a woman; that she has assuredly a rooted affection for you; and that you have thus obtained one advantage over all your friends, a strong and unconquerable motive to outstrip them in your efforts.
'Shall I add that, desperate as your case seems to be, I participate in your sanguine hopes? I do not deem them entirely romantic, but share in that which the phlegmatic would call the frenzy of your mind; and half-persuade myself that you will finally be victorious.
'Then summon up your fortitude. Do not suffer the failure of ill-concerted plans either to lessen your ardour or give it a rash and dangerous direction. Be cool in decision, warm in pursuit, and unwearied in perseverance. Time is a never failing friend, to those who have the discernment to profit by the opportunities he offers. Let your eye be on the alert, and your hand active and firm, as circumstances shall occur, and I shall then say I scarcely know what it is that you may not hope to achieve!'
Wilmot stood with his head resting on his arm, leaning against the mantle-piece. When Turl began, his eye was cast down, a compassionate melancholy overspread his countenance, and a deep sigh broke from him unperceived by himself. As our mutual friend proceeded, his attitude altered, his head was raised, his eye brightened, his features glowed, his soul was wrapt in the visions which were raised by Turl, and, unconscious of his own existence or that he spoke, his interrupting ejaculations now and then involuntarily burst forth—'That is true!—Well argued!—Do you think so?—Indeed!—I am glad of that!—Don't despond, Trevor! Don't despond!—'Tis folly to despond!'
Just as he repeated the last sentence, ''Tis folly to despond,' so full a remembrance of his former trains of thought came over him, and there was so divine a mixture of hope and melancholy in his face, which seemed so to reproach himself and to encourage me, that, divided as my feelings were between the generous emanations of Turl and these torrents of affection from a man who had suffered so deeply, I seized the hand of each, pressed them both to my heart, instantly dropped them again, covered my face, fell against the wall, and sobbed with something like hysteric passion.
Of all the pleasures of which the soul is capable, those of friendship for man and love for woman are the most exquisite. They may be described as—'the comprehensive principle of benevolence, which binds the whole human race to aid and love each other, individualized; and put into its utmost state of activity.' Selfishness may deride them; and there may be some so haunted by suspicion, or so hardened in vice as to doubt or deny their existence. But he that has felt them in their fullest force has the best as well as the grandest standard of human nature; and the purest foretaste of the joys that are in store, for the generations that are to come.
This is the spirit that is to harmonize the world; and give reality to those ideal gardens of paradise, and ages of gold, the possibility of which, as the records of fable shew, could scarcely escape even savage ignorance.
What clue shall I give the reader to my heart, that shall lead him into its recesses; and enable him to conceive its entire sensations? That Turl, from whom I imagined I had met so much discouragement, whose scrutinizing eye led him to examine with such severity, and whose firm understanding possessed such powers of right decision, that he should not only sympathize with me but partake in my best hopes, and countenance me in my soul's dearest pursuit, that Turl should feel and act thus, was a joy inconceivably great, and unexpected!
He now no longer appeared to me as one to whom, though I could not but revere him, I durst not confess myself; but as a generous, anxious, and tender friend. My former flashes of hope had usually been succeeded by a gloomy despair, that made me half suspect myself to be frantic: but, after this concession and encouragement from Turl, they seemed instantly to spring into consistency, probability, and system.
Turl highly approved my forbearance, and caution, respecting the letter I had written and was so anxious to convey to Olivia.
This farther coincidence of opinion not only induced me to persevere in my plan, but afforded me a degree of grateful satisfaction, and self-respect, that was exceedingly consolatory.
More traits of the character of Mr. Evelyn: A new project of a very flattering nature: Borough interest and a patriotic Baronet
It may well be supposed that Turl was induced to enquire, and I to explain, the means by which I should have been enabled to pursue the study of the law: for he had heard of my misfortunes, and the dissipation of my finances.
This brought the behaviour and character of Mr. Evelyn in review: and the admiration of Turl, with the terms of affection and respect in which he spoke of that gentleman, was additional delight. He had never entertained any serious doubt, he said, but that such men existed: perhaps many of them: yet to discover a single one was an unexpected and, to say the truth, a very uncommon pleasure.
But Mr. Evelyn was to be made acquainted with my change of sentiment; and of my being once more destitute of any plan for my future guidance. It was necessary that he should not deem me a man of unsettled principles; frivolous in propensity, and fantastic in conduct. For, though perhaps my pride would have felt gratification at no longer considering myself a dependent on the favourable opinion or calculations which another might form concerning me, and my good or ill qualities, yet I could not endure to sink in his esteem.
I therefore applied myself, immediately, in the most assiduous manner, to collect and state such facts as I had gathered, relative to the practice of the law: and, that the argument might be placed in the clearest light possible, I begged of Turl to take that part of the subject which related to its principles upon himself.
Thus provided, I wrote to Mr. Evelyn; and my letter was fortunate enough to produce its desired effect.
Nor was he satisfied with mere approbation. His anxious and generous friendship would not suffer him to rest; and he immediately made a journey to town, to consult with me, since this project was rejected, what should be my new pursuit.
His behaviour verified all the assertions of his former discourse, concerning the hopes that he had conceived of my talents. He considered nothing within the scope of his fortune as too great a sacrifice, if it could but promote the end he desired. For this purpose he not only consulted with Wilmot, and Turl, but led me into such conversations as might best display the bent of my genius; and afford him hints, on which to act.
And now he was induced to form a design such as I little expected; and which required of me the acceptance of obligations so great as well might stagger me, and render it difficult for me to consent.
He had remarked that my enunciation was clear and articulate, my language flowing, my voice powerful, and my manner pre-possessing. Such were the terms which he used, in describing these qualities in me. The youthful manliness of my figure, he said, added to the properties I have mentioned, was admirably adapted for parliamentary oratory. My elocution and deportment were commanding; and principles such as mine might awe corruption itself into respect, and aid to rouse a nation, and enlighten a world. Mr. Evelyn, like myself, was very much of an enthusiast.
He did not immediately communicate the project to me: which was indeed first suggested to him by accidental circumstances: but previously examined whether it was, as he supposed it to be, possible to be carried into effect.
Sir Barnard Bray had the nomination of two borough members: one of which he personated himself, and disposed of the other seat, as is the custom, to a candidate who should be of his party; and consequently vote according to his opinion.
He had long been the loud and fast friend of Opposition. No man was more determined in detecting error, more hot in his zeal, or more vociferous in accusation, than Sir Barnard: his dear and intimate friend, the right honourable Mr. Abstract, excepted; who was indeed pepper, or rather gunpowder itself.
Mr. Evelyn was the cousin of this patriotic baronet.
It happened just then to be the eve of a general election; and, as the last member of Sir Barnard had been so profligate, or so patriotic, as the worthy member himself repeatedly and solemnly declared he was, as to vote with the Minister, who had previously given him a place and promised to secure his return for a Treasury borough, Mr. Evelyn, knowing these circumstances, was persuaded that the Baronet would be happy to find a representative for his constituents, whose eloquence added to his own should avenge him on the Minister; if not tumble him from the throne he had usurped.
Mr. Evelyn and the Baronet were on intimate terms: for Sir Barnard took a particular pleasure in every man who perfectly agreed with him in opinion; and, though this definition would not accurately apply to Mr. Evelyn, yet, on the great leading points in politics they seldom differed.
As to morals, as a science, Sir Barnard on many occasions would affect to treat it with that common-place contempt which always accompanies the supposition of the original and unconquerable depravity of man; of the verity of which the Baronet had a rooted conviction. In this hypothesis he was but confirmed by his burgage-tenure voters, by the conduct of the members he had himself returned, and by certain propensities which he felt in his own breast, and which he seriously believed to be instinctive in man.
Beside, if Mr. Evelyn differed at any time in opinion with a disputant, the suavity of his manners was so conciliatory that opposition, from him, was sometimes better received than agreement, and coincidence, from other people. This suavity, by the by, is a delightful art. Would it were better understood, and more practised!
Sage remarks on the seduction of young orators, the influence of the crown, and the corruption of our glorious constitution: Old and new nobility: Poor old England: Necessary precautions: The man with an impenetrable face
Full of the project he had conceived, Mr. Evelyn visited the Baronet, who happened to be in town, and proposed it to him in the manner which he thought might most prepossess him in my favour.
Sir Barnard listened attentively, and paused.
It happened that he had lately been meditating on the danger of introducing young orators into parliament: for he had found, by experience, that they are so marketable a commodity as to be almost certain of being bought up. The trick he had himself been played was bitterly remembered; and he had known and heard of several instances, during his parliamentary career, of a similar kind.
Yet he could not but recollect that, when he and his former spokesman had entered the house, arm in arm, there was a sort of buzz, and a degree of respect paid to him, which had instantly diminished as soon as this support was gone.
There is something of dignity in the use of crutches; and he that cannot walk alone commands attention, from his imbecility.
'I do not know what to think of this plan,' said the Baronet. 'I find your flowery speakers are no more to be depended upon, in the present day, than the oldest drudges in corruption!
'You know, cousin, how I hate corruption. It is undoing us all, It will undo the nation! The influence of the crown is monstrous. The aristocracy is degraded by annual batches of mundungus and parchment lords; and the constitution is tumbling about our ears. The old English spirit is dead. The nation has lost all sense and feeling. The people are so vile and selfish that they are bought and sold like swine; to which, for my part, I think they have been very properly compared. There is no such thing now as public virtue. No, no! That happy time is gone by! Every man is for all he can get; and as for the means, he cares nothing about them. There is absolutely no such thing as patriotism existing; and, to own the truth, damn me if I believe there is a man in the kingdom that cares one farthing for those rights and liberties, about which so many people that you and I know pretend to bawl!'
'This is a severe supposition indeed. It implicates your dearest and most intimate friends. Only recollect, Sir Barnard, what would your feelings be, if the same thing should be asserted of you?'
'Of me, truly! No, no, cousin Evelyn; I think I have been pretty tolerably tried! The Minister knows very well he could move the Monument sooner than me. I love the people; and am half mad to see that they have no love for themselves. Why do not they meet? Why do not they petition? Why do not they besiege the throne with their clamors? They are no better than beasts of burthen! If they were any thing else, the whole kingdom would rise, as one man, and drive this arrogant upstart from the helm. I say, Mr. Evelyn, I love the people; I love my country; I love the constitution; and I hate the swarms of mushroom peers, and petty traders, that are daily pouring in upon us, to overturn it.'
Was it weakness of memory? Was it the blindness of egotism? Or was it inordinate stupidity, that Sir Barnard should forget, as he constantly did, that his father had been a common porter in a warehouse, had raised an immense fortune by trade, had purchased the boroughs which descended to his son, and had himself been bought with the title of Baronet by a former minister? Was it so very long ago, that Sir Barnard, with such a swell of conscious superiority, should begin to talk of the antiquity of his family? But, above all, how did he happen not to recollect that the disappointment which now preyed upon and cankered his heart was the refusal of a peerage?
I really can give no satisfactory answer to these questions. I can only state a fact: which daily occurs in a thousand other instances.
Mr. Evelyn brought the Baronet back to the point; and remarked to him that, at the present period, when the Minister was so powerful in numbers, to bring in a mere yes and no member with himself would be a certain mode of not serving the country, the constitution, and the people, whom he so dearly loved; that the safety which is derived from a man's insignificance is but a bad pledge; and that he thought himself very certain I was as dear, nay and as incorruptible, a lover of old England, or at least of the welfare of mankind, as Sir Barnard himself.
'Shew me such a man, cousin,' exclaimed the Baronet, 'and I will worship him! I will worship him, Mr. Evelyn! I will worship him! But I am persuaded he is not to be found. I have learned, from too fatal experience, that I am certain of nobody but myself! Small as the number in Opposition is, if they were but all as sound-hearted as I am, and would set their shoulders to the wheel and lay themselves out for the good of their country as I do, I say it, Mr. Evelyn, and take my word for it I say true, we should overturn the Minister and his corrupt gang in six months! Nay, in half the time! However, as you are so strongly persuaded of the soundness of the gentleman's principles whom you recommend, let me see him, and talk to him; and then I will tell you more of my opinion.'
'There is one point, Sir Barnard, on which I suppose I need not insist; it is so obvious.'
'What is that, cousin?'
'You being as you state a man of principle, and incapable of being biassed to act against what you conceive to be the good of the nation, you must expect that every man, who resembles you in patriotism and fortitude, will act from himself, and will resist any attempt to control him.'
'Oh, as to that, we need say nothing about it. Those things are never mentioned, now-a-days: they are perfectly understood. But who is your young friend? Is he a man of property?'
He will be the more manageable, thought Sir Barnard.
'Where will he get a qualification?'
'I will provide him with one.'
'You say he is a gentleman.'
'As I understand the term, he certainly is: for, in addition to those manners and accomplishments which are most pleasing to the world, he not only possesses a good education but a sense of justice which makes him regard every man as his brother; and which will neither suffer him to crouch to the haughty nor trample on the poor.'
'Why, that is very good. Very right. I myself will crouch to no man. And, as for modesty and humility, in the youth of the present day, why they are very rarely found: and so I shall be happy to meet with them.'
'Nay, but Mr. Trevor delivers his sentiments with rather an unguarded freedom, and with peculiar energy, or indeed he would be ill qualified to rise in the assembly of which I wish to see him a member, and undauntedly oppose the arrogant assertions that are there daily made.'
'Arrogant! G—— confound me, Mr. Evelyn, if I am not sometimes struck dumb, with what I hear in that house! There is that Scotchman in particular, who will get up, after our allies have been defeated, our troops driven like sheep from swamp to swamp, where they die of the rot, and our ships carried by hundreds into the enemy's ports, and will roundly assert, notwithstanding these facts are as notorious as his own political profligacy, that our victories are splendid, our armies undiminished, and our trade protected and flourishing beyond all former example! He makes my hair stand on end to hear him! And when I look in his face, and see the broad familiar easy impudence with which he laughs at me and all of us, for our astonishment, why, as I tell you, damn me if I am not dumb-founded! I am struck all of a heap! I have not a word! I am choaked with rage, and amazement! Compared to him your brothel-keeper is a modest person! Were but our fortresses as impenetrable as his forehead, curse me if they would ever be taken. He is bomb-proof. The returns that lie on the table can make no impression upon him; and you may see him sneer and laugh if they are pointed to in the course of an argument.
'In short, cousin Evelyn, the nation is ruined. I see that clear enough. Our constitution will soon be changed to a pure despotism. Barracks are building; soldiers line our streets: our commission of the peace is filled with the creatures of a corrupt administration; constables are only called out to keep up the farce; and we are at present under little better than a military government.'
Though Mr. Evelyn would have been better satisfied, had Sir Barnard's sense of national grievances been equally strong but less acrimonious, yet he was pleased to find that these grievances were now more than ever become a kind of common-place bead roll of repetitions: of which their being so familiarly run over by the Baronet was sufficient proof: for a people that are continually talking of the evils that afflict them are not, as Sir Barnard and others have supposed, dead to these evils. The nation that remarks, discusses, and complains of its wrongs, will finally have them redressed.
Serious doubts on serious subjects: Personal qualms, and considerations: An interview with Sir Barnard: Fears and precautions, or a burnt child dreads the fire
What farther passed in the conversation I have recited was of little moment: except that an appointment was made, on the following day, for me to be introduced to the Baronet.
Thus far successful, Mr. Evelyn returned; and, as he was a man of a firm and ingenuous mind, he thought it adviseable to hold a consultation with me and my friends, on the prosecution of his plan.
That personal considerations might in no degree influence the enquiry, he first proposed the question, without intimating to what it might lead, of—'how far it became a virtuous man to accept a seat, on those conditions under which a seat only can be obtained, among the representatives of the people?'
Without wearying the reader with the arguments that were adduced, let it suffice to inform him that we all agreed it was a very doubtful case; that, in this as in numerous other instances, manners, customs, and laws, obliged us to conform to many things which were odiously vicious; and that to live in society and rigidly observe those rules of justice which would best promote the general happiness was, speaking absolutely, a thing impossible.
Whether the greatest political characters would best fulfil their duties by refusing to submit to the corrupt influence of elections, to test-oaths, and to the mischiefs of ministerial management within the walls, or whether they ought to comply with them, and exert their utmost faculties in pointing out these evils and endeavouring to have them redressed, was a point on which we all seemed to think the wisest men might suspend their judgment.
In one thing we appeared to be entirely agreed: which was that such pernicious practices were in all probability more frequently exposed, and brought into public discussion, through the medium of an assembly like this, than they would be did no such assembly exist.
Neither must I detail what afterward passed, before I was brought to accept the proposal of Mr. Evelyn. It would be tedious.
This proposal did not confine itself to the single act of giving me a seat in parliament; and of furnishing me with a qualification. It insisted that the qualification should be a real and not a fictitious deed.
To accept the actual possession of three hundred a-year as a bounty, for which I could make no return, was I own humiliating to my pride. It made the question continually recur—'Whether it did not give me the air of an impostor? A kind of swindler of sentiment? A pretender to superior virtue, for the purpose of gratifying vice?' It seemed at a blow to rob me of all independence; and leave me a manacled slave to the opinions, not only of Mr. Evelyn, but, by a kind of consignment, of his relation the Baronet; and even to both their humours.
In fine, it was a most painful sacrifice; and required all the amenity and active friendship of Mr. Evelyn to bring to my mind, not only my duties, but, the power that I should have at any time of resigning my seat, returning the deeds, and sheltering myself in my primitive poverty.
To this I added a condition, without which my refusal would have been absolute. It was that I should give a deed of mortgage, bearing interest, to the full value of the lands assigned.
I shall forbear to dwell on sensations that were very active at the moment; which, on one hand, related to all that concerned Mr. Evelyn, my obligations, and something like dependence; and, on the other, to my sudden promised elevation toward the sphere in which my ambition was so eagerly desirous to move. Neither will I insist on that which caused my heart to beat yet more high, the approach that I thus made to the lovely object of all my wishes.
Leaving this endless train of meditation, I proceed to relate events as they occurred.
I attended Mr. Evelyn, according to appointment; and paid my respects to his cousin, Sir Barnard. Having engaged myself thus far, I own I was sufficiently piqued to desire to make a favourable impression: in which I was almost as successful as I myself had hoped.
At the first sight of me the Baronet was prepossessed; and when we entered into conversation and he gave me an opportunity of uttering my sentiments concerning men and measures, I painted so forcibly that he was almost in raptures.
The only circumstance in which I failed was my frequent interruption, and impatience, when he in turn began to declaim. I had the vice of orators: I heard no man's arguments, or language, that pleased me so well as my own. I could not listen without an irritating anxiety, that was for ever prompting me to supply a word, suggest a thought, or detect a blunder. And, to a man who loves to make a speech, it is intolerably mortifying to hear himself corrected, and cut short, in the middle of a sentence.
However I was sufficiently guarded not to give any offence that was strong enough to be remembered; and Sir Barnard was so thoroughly engrossed, by the idea of the conspicuous figure which he and his new member should make in the house, that he was absolutely impatient to secure me: being fully persuaded that he had discovered a treasure; of which now, at a general election, he was in considerable danger of being robbed.
The only precaution he took was to draw from me repeated asseverations that I would not desert the cause of the people: by which, as I afterward found, he understood his own private opinions; and not that which he had literally expressed. On this head he seemed never satisfied; and the terms in which he spoke, both of the member who had deserted him and of all political tergiversation whatever, were the bitterest that his memory could supply.
A dinner party, and fortune in good humour: The opera house, and small talk: Sagacious female discoveries: Olivia, and the art of fascinating: An old acquaintance suddenly seen and dreaded, though despised: Timely recollection: The opera great room, and more discoveries
These points settled, the Baronet proposed to introduce me to his friends and connections, particularly of the political kind. For this purpose he began with inviting me and Mr. Evelyn to dine with him on the Friday following, when he was to have a mixed party of ladies and gentlemen, but chiefly of such as agreed with him on public affairs.
When the day came, I was presented to the company by the Baronet with encomiums, and seated on the left of Lady Bray. A Scotch lord was on her right: it being her ladyship's custom to divide the ladies and gentlemen.
A young fellow properly introduced, if he be new in the circles of fashion and possessed of a tolerable figure, is in no danger of being ill received. I had not indeed learned to be an adept at small talk: a qualification which, contemptible as it is, will supply the want of every superior requisite, whether of mind or person: but I had an aptitude to oblige, be attentive, and speak the moment I found I had any thing to say.
I had laid no plan on this occasion: not having then read, or not remembering, I know not which, Lord Chesterfield's sage reflections, on the necessity of a statesman's being well with the ladies. It happened however that, on this occasion, I was received with distinguished marks of approbation by the dear angels: from several of whom I received visiting-invitations.
Music and the opera were among the topics on which they conversed. I was found to be an amateur; and Lady Bray was one of the dilettanti, had concerts at her own house, and a box at the opera: to both of which she said I should at all times have free admission.
This was too pleasing an offer to be refused; and I willingly agreed to attend her ladyship the following evening, and hear the charming music of I Zingari in Fiera by Paisiello.
The opera season began rather early that year, many families were not yet come to town, we had little delay from the string of coaches, and, had her ladyship not provided against the misfortune by taking care to go more late than usual, we should have been so unfashionable as to have heard the first act. As it was, we arrived before it was over.
The thing on which her ladyship bestowed her immediate attention was to examine, by the aid of her opera-glass, which of the subscribers were in their boxes; and how many of her particular friends were among them. Politeness induced me to accompany her in this excursion of the eye: for not to have listened to the names, titles, and ages, of her friends, with the births, deaths, marriages, creations, and presentations at court of them and their families, of which materials small talk is chiefly if not wholly composed, would have been the very highest defect in good breeding.
Why yes. Listen I did, as long as I was able: till my eyes, tongue, and faculties were all riveted to one spot!
Her ladyship's box was near the centre. She had carried my eye from box to box completely along one side, and had proceeded to about three of the opposite, when she directed her glass to one, with the owners of which she had no acquaintance: but she knew the names of all; for she had them engraved on her fan.
That name was Mowbray! And the persons in it were Hector, his aunt, and Olivia!
I was silent, gazing, entranced! Her ladyship had talked I know not how long; and I had neither answered nor heard one word.
'Bless me,' said she, 'Mr. Trevor! why you are absolutely in a revery all of a sudden! That Miss Mowbray I find is a very dangerous young lady: for I am told that all the men are positively mad after her; and here are you absolutely struck speechless! What! Not a word yet?'
'I beg ten thousand pardons.'
'Why this seems like love at first sight! You are not acquainted, I suppose, with the Mowbrays.'
'Yes, my lady: from my infancy.'
'Oh, oh! Why, then to be sure you are intimate with this beauty; who absolutely eclipses us all. I assure you she is positively the belle of the day. I hear she has the very first offers. But you are not silly enough to act the dying swain? What, no answer? Well, well: I see how it is! But, as we never read in any of the morning papers of gentle youths who break their hearts for love, in the present ungallant age, you are in no great danger. Though I think I never saw any creature look more like what I should suppose one of your true lovers to be than you did just now: for, beside your speechless attitude, which was absolutely picturesque and significant, you were positively pale and red, and red and pale, almost as fast as the ticking of my watch. And even yet you are absolutely provoking. I cannot get a word from you!'
'Your ladyship's raillery quite overpowers me.'
'I declare I am positively surprised at what I have seen. Had a stranger been all of a sudden struck, the wonder would not have been absolutely so great: but it is positively unaccountable in you who are a familiar acquaintance of the family.'
'I cannot boast of that honor.'
'No, indeed! Why, do not you visit the Mowbrays?'
'I do not.'
'What, you are a dangerous man; and are forbidden the house? Well, I declare, I shall absolutely know your whole history in five minutes without your having positively told me a word.'
'Your ladyship has a lively imagination.'
'I have heard that the aunt is a very cautious chaperon. But, I tell you what: I will be your friend. The Mowbrays are lately become intimate with two families where I visit. And I will absolutely take you with me, on one of their public nights. I will positively.'
This proposition was so grateful, and my thanks were so much more prompt than my recollection, that her ladyship was quite confirmed in her surmises; and not a little pleased with her own talent at discovery.
Her accusation however was very true. All she could positively say could not absolutely draw my attention from the box of Olivia, whose turns and motions I was anxiously watching; hoping that some lucky accident would guide her eye toward me.
Nay I partly hoped and partly feared the same of the aunt: my emotions being now influenced by the respectable station which I at present seemed to occupy; and now by the remembrance that even this might turn to my disadvantage, in the jealous apprehensions of the old lady.
Busied as my thoughts were and absorbed in anxious attention, this anxiety was soon overcome by a much more powerful feeling.
A gentleman entered Olivia's box! My eyes were instantly turned on him. Recollection was roused. My heart beat. It surely was he! I could not be mistaken! My opera-glass was applied, and my fears confirmed. It was, indeed, the Earl of Idford.
Here then, in a moment, the enigma was solved. The peer who had aspired to the hand of Olivia, and who tempted her with all his opulence and all his dignity, could be no other than Lord Idford. He had long been intimate with Hector, and now comes without ceremony and joins the family. See how the aunt smiles on him! Nay, mark! Olivia is attentive to him! Her lips move! Her eyes are directed to his! She is conversing with him, and at her ease, while I am racked by all the terrors that jealousy can raise! What, can she not cast one look this way? Is she fascinated by a reptile? Is there no instinctive sympathy, that should make her tremble to betray the dearest interests of love in the very presence of the lover! Does she act complacency, and sit calm and unruffled! Has she no foreboding that I will dart upon that insect; that thing; which, being less than man, presumes because it is called Lord! Thinks she that I will not crush, tear, tread, him to dust? He, the defrauder of my fair fame, who plundered me of the first fruits of genius by infamous falsehood, who joined in plotting my destruction by arts which the basest cowards blush at! Is he the fiend that comes to snatch me from bliss; and plunge me into pangs and horrors unutterable?
From these ravings of the mind I was a little recovered, by the very serious alarm which the wild changes of my countenance produced in Lady Bray. I apologised, pleaded indisposition, but presently was lost again in revery. Fortunately, a gentleman of her ladyship's acquaintance came into the box, and left me to continue my embittered meditations.
Olivia was now attentive to the music; and the lord had only her aunt and Hector, apparently, to bestow his conversation upon.
This was some relief; and so far allayed the fever of my mind as to call me back to self examination, and to question my own conduct.
For the earl I could not but have the most rooted contempt. I could not compare myself with him, and entertain a doubt, concerning who ought to be preferred.
But what reason had I to accuse Olivia? What did these angry emotions of my soul forebode? Perhaps that my habitual irritability, were she mine, would make her miserable!
What was the end of existence? Happiness. Had I not a right then to be happy? Yes. But so had she. So had her aunt. Nay so had that rival, odious and despicable as he was, whose appearance had raised this tempest in my soul.
But was constraint, was force, justifiable in this aunt; or in this insignificant, this selfish lord?
Force it is said is the law of nature; and it is that law which impels the ravenous tiger to spring upon the lamb, and suck its blood, to appease his craving appetite. But, if so, if self-gratification were a defensible motive, the detestable Norman robber, the monster who inhabited a cave and seized on every stray virgin, to deflower, murder her and prey on her remains, was justifiable.
In the agitated mind, dreams like these are endless. While they were passing, I stared with fixed attention toward Olivia; and, had she not been almost motionless, my passive trances could not have continued.
The first dance was over, the second act had begun, more visitors came to pay their respects to Lady Bray, and I endeavoured to recollect myself and shake off a behaviour that might well be construed inattention, if not ill manners; and might injure me even in that point on which I was then so deeply intent. I uttered two or three sentences; and her ladyship complimented me on being once more awake.
The persevering attention of Olivia to the scene, for it was impossible to forbear glancing at her every moment, contributed to calm my fears.
It did more: it was a most beneficial lesson to me. It called me again to the consideration of that impetuosity of temper which was so dangerous in me. Into what acts of frenzy and desperation might not these fevers of the soul hurry me? What in the present instance could I urge to justify such excess? Had I not heard the reproaches of her aunt for her having refused the hand of this Lord: if this Lord it should happen to be? When he entered the box, what had she done, that should excite such frantic ecstacies in me? What, except return those civilities without which it is impossible for man or woman to be amiable? Did she now coquet, prattle, and display her power; tempted as she was by such a public scene of triumph? Was not her demeanour as chastely cautious as my own exigent heart could desire?
Every question that the facts before me suggested was an aggravating reproof of my headlong passions; and, luckily for me, my thoughts took that train which was most corrective and healthful. They led me too to dwell, with a melting and mild rapture, on the endearing virtues of Olivia: dignified, yet not austere; firm, yet not repulsive; circumspect, yet capable of all those flowing affections without which circumspection is but meanness.
Nor were these visionary attributes: such as the disordered imagination of a lover falsely bestows. They were as real as those personal beauties by which they were embellished.
To aspire to the possession of a woman so gifted, and to be the lunatic which my own reproaches at this moment pictured me, was to demand that which I did not deserve. To be worthy of her, it was fit I should resemble her.
I endeavoured to obey these admonitions. I schooled myself, concerning my remissness to Lady Bray. I recovered my temper, became attentive, talked rather pleasantly, and re-established myself in her good graces: in which I could perceive I had somewhat declined, by the folly of my behaviour. To remind the reader on every occasion of the progress of intellect, and the benefits derived from experience, would be to weary his patience, insult his understanding, and counteract my own intentions. It would suppose in him a total absence of observation, and reasoning. Yet to be entirely silent might lead the young, and the inattentive, to imagine I had in the beginning proposed a mode of instruction which, as I proceeded, I had either forgotten, abandoned, or had not the power to execute. If such will attend to the alteration in my conduct, they will perceive that I, like every other human being, could not but reflect more or less on the motives that actuated me; and profit by the lessons I received: though rooted habits and violent passions were the most difficult to cure.
After the curtain dropped, I accompanied Lady Bray into the great room; and perceived among the throng, at some little distance, Olivia, and her aunt, attended by the peer.
I had foreseen the possibility of this; and had reasoned that there might be more danger in an abrupt rencontre, of this kind, than in meeting Olivia and her terrible aunt at the house of Lady Bray's friend, as her ladyship had promised me; where I should receive her countenance, and that of the family to which I should be introduced. I therefore endeavoured to direct her ladyship's attention from the place where the Mowbray party was, and succeeded in my endeavours.
Soon afterward, I saw Hector, with a knot of fashionable youths; among whom I was rather surprised to discover my at that time unknown father-in-law, Belmont.
I had no inclination to be noticed by this groupe; and, as Lady Bray's carriage was presently afterward stopping the way, I had the good fortune to escape unperceived, or at least unaccosted, by both parties.
A debt discharged: A tavern dinner and a dissertation: The man of the world ridiculing the man of virtue: or, is honesty the best policy? Fools pay for being flattered: Security essential to happiness: A triumphant retort, and difficult to be answered: Vice inevitable, under a vitiated system: A dangerous attack: or an exhibition of one of the principal arts of a gambler: A few cant phrases
To the friendship of Mr. Evelyn I had so far subjected myself and the spirit of independence which I was very properly ambitious to cherish as, for the present, to accept the aid he was so desirous to bestow. I was something like compelled to be his debtor, but was unwilling to be the debtor of any other man on earth; and, as he had enabled me to appear in the style I have described, and furnished me with money, I was determined to seek out Belmont, and discharge the debt which his bounty had conferred; after he had previously plundered me, at Bath. He had sunk in my esteem: I now considered him as a professed gambler: but I remembered this action as that which it really was; an effort of benevolence, to aid a human being in distress.
Thus actuated, I went the next day to the billiard-table which he had been accustomed to frequent; where I once more found him at play. He met me not only unabashed, but with something like cordiality. He had so accustomed himself to his own hypothesis, that 'self-gratification is the law of nature,' and had so confused a sense of what true self-gratification is, with such an active faculty of perverting facts and exhibiting pictures of general turpitude, that he had very little sense of the vice of his own conduct; and was therefore very little subject to self-reproof. He behaved to me with the utmost ease and good humour; and, when his match was over, proposed that we should dine together at the Thatched-house.
For a moment, I questioned the propriety of assenting: but, seeing him now as before familiar with the officers of the guards, and people of whose company no one was ashamed, and recollecting where and how I had seen him the evening before, I did not long hesitate. Beside which, I was prompted, not only by the pleasure which his conversation gave, but by an increase of curiosity to be better acquainted with who and what he really was.
As soon as we were alone, I discharged my conscience by repaying him the twenty pounds. This gave occasion to the following dialogue.
'I perceive, Trevor, you are still the same. You pique yourself on paying your borrowings. Had it been a debt of honour indeed, I should not have been surprised: for those are debts that must be discharged. Otherwise, it would introduce a very inconvenient practice indeed.'
'I believe, as you say, it would be inconvenient beyond description to you—What do you call yourselves?—Oh! I recollect: "sporting gentlemen" is the phrase. It would be inconvenient I say, to you sporting gentlemen.'
'Whom, when we sporting gentlemen are absent, you call blacklegs, rooks, Grecians, and other pleasant epithets. Some such word, I could perceive, was quivering on your tongue. You remember the plucking you had at Bath; and, though you are too much ashamed of having been duped to mention it, yet it remains on your mind with a feeling of resentment. That is natural: but it is foolish.'
'Is it foolish to have a sense of right and wrong?'
'Where is that sense to be found? Who has it? I have continually a sense, if so you please to call it, that there is something which I want; and by that I am impelled to act.'
'True. But Locke, I think, tells us that crime consists in not taking sufficient time to consider, before we act.'
'And, begging his pardon, wise as in a certain sense I allow you this Locke was, in the instance you have cited, he was an ass. If I do not mistake, he has before proved to me that I cannot act without a motive; and then he bids me stop when I am in such a hurry that no motive occurs to my memory.'
'According to this, an actual murderer is not a more guilty man than he who only dreams that he commits murder?'
'Make what you will of the inference, but it is accurate. They are both dead asleep, to any ideas except those that hurry them forward.'
'That is, in plain English, there is no such thing as vice.'
'Might you not as well have said as virtue?'
'Speaking absolutely, I do not pretend to deny what you assert. But you will not tell me that the man who robs me, and leaves me bound to a tree in danger of starving, has not done me an injury?'
'Will you be kind enough to shew me who it is, among those who have any thing to lose, that does not rob? Men who enjoy the pleasures of life rob those who are deprived of them of their due; and, according to my apprehension, the latter have a right to make reprisals.'
'Upon my soul, Belmont, you have a most inveterate habit of confounding every thing that should guide and regulate mankind. You shift the question, confound terms, and are the most desperate gladiator of vice I ever encountered. Your dangerous genius is a mine; where the ore is rich indeed, but the poisonous vapour that envelopes it deadly.'
'Each to his system. We have both the voyage of life to make. You place that very sober and discreet person called Honesty at the helm; by the single direction of whom you expect to attain happiness: which is just as rational as to hope to circumnavigate the globe with one wind. I take a different course: it is my maxim to shift my sails, and steer as pleasure and interest bid.'
'Acting as you do, I cannot wonder that you should make a jest of honesty.'
'Upon my honour I treated Sir Honesty with every possible decorum, till I found that the insidious rascal was making a jest of me. Not that I am quite certain I am not more truly the friend of this very respectable person than those who pretend they are always in his company; for I neither cant with Madam Morality nor pray with Dame Methodism: though I cannot but think I am almost as religious, as moral, ay and as charitable too, as your devotees and sabbath-keepers; who go to church to pray and be saved, and leave their servants to stay at home, roast the meat and be damned.'
'I must again repeat, you have the most active fertility at embroiling all order and system I have any where met with.'
'Ha, ha, ha! Order and system are very pretty words. But you make a small mistake. It is not I that embroil. I find confusion already established; and, since I cannot correct it, give me a reason why I ought not to profit by the chaotic hubbub?'
'But I say you can correct it. You are one of the men who might have been best fitted for the task.'
'I know not what I might have been: but I feel that I am not. The first right of man, ay and, to talk in your own idiom, the first moral duty too, is to be happy; and he is an idiot that, having a banquet spread before him, forbears to taste because he himself is not the purveyor. What matters it to me how it came there? Why am I to be excluded? Have I not as exquisite a relish as he that provided for the bill of fare?
'Let dull fools puzzle their brain concerning moral fitness, which they have not elevation enough of mind to understand; give me enjoyment.
'Let me eat the pine apple while they are discussing the moral fitness of feasting on such luxuries.'
'This doctrine would subject the world to your appetites and pleasures.'
'And is not that a noble doctrine? It is the wish and passion of the world to be gulled; and gulled let it be. Let it have its enjoyments; give me mine.
'One man is my banker, and is assiduously careful to keep cash at my command; which he transfers to me in the most gentleman-like and honourable manner imaginable: namely, by a box and dice.
'Another is my steward; and he lays out my grounds, stocks my park with deer, builds me palaces, erects me hot-houses, and torments heaven and earth to furnish my table with delicacies; for all of which I pay him in the current coin of flattery. It is true I permit him to call these things his own: but the real enjoyment of them is notoriously mine. He, poor egotist, talks bombast and nonsense by wholesale. I applaud and smile at his folly; while he imagines it is at his wit. The poor man is amused with fine speeches, unsubstantial flatteries, cringes, bows, and hypocritical tokens of servility; which are so many jests upon him.
'Thus is he mocked with the shadow, while I banquet upon the substance. I bask in arbours and groves, without once having given myself a thought concerning planting or pruning. I feast on the fish, without so much as the trouble of catching them; and still less of constructing the pond. By the provision he makes, that is, by avarice and extortion, he nurtures a brood of sycophants and slaves. Wife, children, friends, servants, all have the same character, only differently shaded: except that, if any of them can become his tyrants and tormentors, they all are ready for the task. I have studied the noble arts both of tickling and tormenting: by which I have subjected this very self-important race to my will and pleasure.'
'For a man whose acuteness has carried him so very far, I am amazed that it did not impel him to advance one step farther. Happiness is what I and all men desire, as certainly as you do: but that happiness is of a strange kind, and held by a frail and feeble tenure, that is agitated by innumerable fears: that, if the means on which it depends be detected, is wholly destroyed; and that, when lost, finds infamy and misery its certain substitutes.
'Mark what I say; and mark it deeply. There can be no happiness without security; and there can be no security without sincerity. Therefore, hypocrites, of every class, are acting contrary to their own intentions. They are providing misery for themselves, as well as for others: instead of the substantial pleasures of which they are in search.'
'Indeed? The Lord have mercy then upon all establishments: legal, political, and ecclesiastic!'
'Let me farther observe to you that the system of general enjoyment, which you propose, is something, if I may so call it, more than rational: it is dignified; it is sublime. I feel with you that he is a poor circumscribed egotist, who can enjoy nothing but that which he calls his own. Let me taste every blessing which the hand of nature presents: let me banquet with you on her bounties: but let me not embitter the delicious repast by fraud, that enslaves me to an eternal watchfulness; depredation, that puts even my life in jeopardy; and a system founded in lies, and everlastingly haunted by the spectres of self-contempt.'
Our dialogue was interrupted, by the entrance of the waiters.
When we had dined, Belmont began to enquire concerning my prospects and affairs.
'I expect,' said he, 'you will be less communicative and open hearted, now, than you formerly were. You have discovered, what I never attempted to conceal, that my present dependence is on the exercise of talents which your gravity despises: especially since they have laid you under contribution. This misfortune however, had you possessed them, despicable as they are, you would have escaped.'
'Yes: just as the man, who hanged himself last night, escaped a head-ache this morning. I will own to you I cannot take the pleasure in your company, or think of you with that friendship, which I formerly felt: for, though I find your conversation no less animating, like strong liquors, it leaves an unwholesome heat behind.
'However, I have no objection to inform you that fortune has given me a momentary respite from persecution. How soon she may think proper to stretch me on the rack again is more than I can foresee: though I greatly suspect her of cruelty and caprice. She seems at present to be in one of her best humours; and has given me a kind of promise to make me one of the sage legislators of this happy land.'
'What do you mean?'
'That I shall be a member of the new parliament.'
Belmont burst into a violent fit of laughter. At first, I was at a loss to conjecture why; and especially why it should be so long, and so unaffected: but I soon learned it was a burst of triumph, which he could not restrain.
'I congratulate you, Mr. Trevor,' said he, with a momentary gravity, 'on your noble and moral pursuits!—The lecture you have been reading, as well as those I have formerly heard you read, now come upon me with invincible force!—There is no resisting precept thus exemplified by practice!—How loud, how lofty, how sovereign, is the contempt in which you hold hypocrisy!—How severe will the laws be that you will enact, against petty depredators!—I foresee you will hang, not only those that handle a card, or a dice-box, but, those that make them.—Then what honours, what rewards, what triumphs, will you decree to your own wholesale marauders! your great captains; chosen, empowered and paid by yourself and sages no less moral and disinterested!—With what gusto will you send him to swing who commits a single robbery: and with what sublime oratory will you exalt the prowess of the man who has plundered, starved, and exterminated nations—"A Daniel come to judgment! Oh wise young judge, how do I honor thee!"
I remained speechless, a few moments; and entirely disconcerted. I was irritated; though I knew not precisely at what. I attempted to answer; but was so confused that I talked absolute nonsense.
After some time, however, I recollected that my purpose in going into parliament was to counteract all these abuses. I then recovered my faculties, and urged this plea very emphatically.
Still the moral dignity, and virtue, of the honourable house I was about to enter, dwelt with such force on the imagination of Belmont that I could get no reply from him: except sarcasms, such as those I have repeated, with the same intervening fits of laughter as the images suggested themselves to his mind.
And here, lest the reader himself should be misled like Belmont, I must remark that no mistake is more common, and I believe none more pernicious, than that of imagining that, because man has not attained absolute and perfect virtue, the very existence of virtue is doubtful.
Hence it happens that he, who in any manner participates in the vices of a nation, or a body of men, is reproached as if loaded with the whole guilt.
Hence likewise, because men without exception are more or less tainted with error, all pretensions to superior moral principles are laughed at, as false and ridiculous.
This is the doctrine at least which the people who most offend these principles are the most zealous in propagating. Belmont had no refuge against self-reproach, but in cherishing such trains of thought.
That the vices which are the most despised in society instead of being the most despicable are virtues, if compared to actions that find honor and reward, is a truth too glaring to be denied. That the cant with which these master crimes are glossed over, and painted as just, expedient, ay and heroic actions, that this diabolical cant should be and is adopted by men even of the highest powers, is a fact that astonishes and confounds. It impels us continually to ask—Are they cowards? Are they hypocrites? Or is the world inhabited by none but lunatics? And that men even of such uncommon genius as Belmont should be entangled, and bewildered, by the destructive incongruity of those who assume to themselves the highest wisdom, because they possess the highest stations in society, is a proof how incumbent it is on such as are convinced of these melancholy truths to declare them openly, undauntedly, and with a perseverance that no threats or terrors can shake.
When we had taken as much wine as Belmont could prevail on me to drink, and he was very urgent, he asked if I played Piquet?
I answered in the affirmative.
'You no doubt then play it well.'
'I do not think it a game of much difficulty.'
'It is my opinion I am your master at it.'
'That may be.'
'Though you do not think it is. Will you try?'
'What, with a man who avows he does not scruple to take every advantage?'
'Have you not eyes? Are you, a metaphysician, a wit, and a senator, so easily deceived?'
'A man may lose his temper; and with it his caution.'
'So you think yourself able to instruct the world, but not to keep your mind calm and circumspect for half an hour?'
'Had I a sufficient motive, I should suppose I have strength enough for such an exertion.'
'Then try. The exercise will be wholesome. Shew your skill and acuteness. Here is your twenty-pound bill: win and take it; or own that you have no confidence in yourself.'
'I have that confidence which assures me I shall, one day or other, convince you that I understand the road to happiness better than yourself.'
'Yet you are cursedly afraid of me. You scarcely can sit still. You blame your own rashness, in venturing to spend the afternoon with me: and now you would as soon handle burning coals as a pack of cards in my company.'
'And what is it you find so omnipotent in yourself, that it should induce you to all this vapouring?'
'I tell you again, you dare not oppose your penetration to mine. You pretend to despise me, yet own I am your master. A child is not in more fear of the rod than you are of me.'
He saw he had sufficiently piqued me, and rang the bell for cards. They were brought: he shuffled, cut them, and continued to banter me.
'What card do you chuse?—The knave of hearts?—There it is!' [He shewed it, with a flirt of the cards, at the bottom of the pack.] His brother of diamonds?—Look! You have it!—Of spades?—Presto! It is here! You have three knaves on your side, you see. I will keep the fourth, and drive you out of the field—Come, for twenty?'
'I see your aim, and am devilishly tempted to shew you that you are not half so cunning as you think yourself.'
'I know you are: but you dare not. You cannot shake off your fears. The wit, the metaphysician, the young senator suspects he is only a half-fledged bird.'
'Cut for deal, sir.'
'Why, will you venture?—The nine.'
The sudden recollection of Mr. Evelyn, the money I had received from him, the generous confidence he had reposed in me, and the guilt of daring to abuse that confidence, fortunately seized me with a kind of horror. I snatched up the cards, dashed them in the fire, and in a moment recovering myself said—'You shall find, sir, that, whether I can or cannot master you, I can master myself'
'Come, you do not go out of this room without the chance of losing twenty guineas for twenty.'
'Done!' answered I, impetuously: which he in an instant echoed with Done! Done! and, again bursting into laughter, held out his hand and bade me pay my losings.
I immediately discovered, without his explanation, that he had entrapped me, by the equivocal sense of the word chance; and I drew out my purse to pay him, with a strong feeling of indignation that I should be so caught.
However, as it was not his intention to profit by so bald and barefaced a quirk, he only laughed; and exclaimed—'How much the young gentleman is his own master! But I will not pick your pocket. If at any time I should want twenty pounds, I shall have a fair claim to ask it as a loan.'
'Would you but really act like a man of honour, there would be no need of such an artifice.'
'Perhaps not, for the first time. But if my poor honor were starving, and could not repay its borrowings, I am afraid my honor would irrevocably be lost. I therefore prefer, since in either case lose it I must, to lose it and eat. But the birds are now beginning to flock together; and I must begone, to the pigeon-house: the rookery.'
'I do not understand the terms.'
'The plucking office: the crab and nick nest: the pip and bone quarry: the rafflearium: the trumpery: the blaspheming box: the elbow shaking shop: the wholesale ague and fever warehouse.'
'In plain English, to an assembly of gamblers.'
'Where I shall meet with much the same degree of honesty, virtue, wisdom, and all that, as is to be found in certain other assemblies.'
Bad company painful, as well as dangerous: A short note, exciting much expectation: A question that shocks and surprises: Clarke and Olivia, or the overflowing of a full and friendly heart: Various mistakes rectified: The reading of the letter and the emotions it produces: Resolutions worthy of virtuous love
I left the tavern in no very pleasant temper of mind: impatient that I should be unable to convince, and reform, a man of such extraordinary acuteness as Belmont: vexed that he, on the contrary, should persuade himself that he was my master; and should actually irritate me to a dangerous excess of vanity: and disgusted that vice and virtue should be so confused, in the minds of men, as to render their boundaries almost undiscoverable.
Such I mean was the impression that Belmont had left upon my mind, by repeating the stale but dangerous maxim that—men are vicious by nature; and, therefore, that to profit by their vices is no more than just.
When I arrived at my lodgings, which were now in Albemarle-street, for I had changed them, I found the following note from Miss Wilmot.
'Come to me immediately. I have something to tell you which you little expect.'
Belmont and my chagrin were forgotten in an instant; and away I hurried, brim full of agitation, conjecture, and impatience.
I found Miss Wilmot alone; and her first words were—'Oh, Mr. Trevor! you are a happy man!'
I stood panting, or rather gasping, with hope; and made no reply. She thus continued.
'Miss Mowbray has been here.'
'She has acted like herself. I know not how I shall tell you the story, so as to do her justice.'
'For the love of God, proceed!'
'As nearly as I can recollect her words, she began in this manner.
'"I cannot tell, my dear friend," addressing herself to me, "what you will think of my conduct. At one moment I suspect it to be wrong; and at the next blame myself for not having taken my present step sooner. I have surely been grossly misled. This indeed I have long suspected; and it cannot but be my duty to enquire. Have you lately seen Mr. Trevor?"
'"I never fail to see him every day. I have a letter from him, for you; which he has disdained to take any clandestine means of conveying to you. Here it is."
'"Before I date think about his letter, answer me one question. Is he a murderer?"
'"A murderer! In the name of God! what can induce you to make such an enquiry?"
'"I have been assured that he has caused the death of two men: one of whom he killed himself."
'"Where? When? How?"
'"At Bath. By delivering one over to the fury of the mob; and by afterward provoking, insulting, and fighting with the other."
'"Heavens and earth! It is false! wickedly false!"
'"Nay but do you know his story?"
'"Perfectly. I have heard it, not only from himself, but, from the man whom I suppose you have been told he has murdered."
'"Nay you shall hear and see. You shall have the whole history from the person's own mouth."
'"Is he alive? Is he in London?"
'"I will send for him. He will be here in a few minutes. You will then hear what this man has to say. He almost adores Mr. Trevor."
'I immediately dispatched Mary for Mr. Clarke, who works not far off, as I suppose you know, and who came running the moment he heard that the lady you are in love with enquired for him.
'Mary informs me that his heart leaped to his eyes (it was her own phrase) when he was told she wanted to question him concerning you; that he sprang up, clapped his hands, and exclaimed—"I am glad of it! I am glad of it! The time is come! All shall be known! He shall be righted! I will take care of that! He shall be righted!"
'He entered the room breathless; and, the moment he saw Miss Mowbray, he could not forbear to gaze at her: though bashfulness made him continually turn his eyes away.
'She addressed him, with that mildness of manner which is so winning in her, and said—"I have taken the liberty, sir, to send for you; to ask a few questions."
'He replied, with a burst of zeal—"I am glad of it, madam! I am glad of it, from my heart and soul! I wish you knew all I could tell you about Mr. Trevor: but it is quite unpossible that I should remember it one half. Only this I will say, and dare the best man in England to deny it, there is not such another brave and kind-hearted gentleman walks the earth. I have had proof enough of it. He knows, for all he is a gentleman, ay and a true gentleman too, for he has parts, and learning, and a Christian soul, which does not teach him to scorn and make a scoff of the poor: he knows that a man is a man; even though he should only happen to be a poor carpenter, like myself. God in heaven bless him! say I."
'The enthusiasm of your generous humble friend overpowered Miss Mowbray; she burst into tears, and hid her face. Her passion was catching, and I followed her example. Clarke continued.
'"On that night that he had the good hap to save your life, and the life of that old cankered lady, which as I find from all that passed she must be, though he talks of her too kindly by half, why the stopping of the frightened horses, just do you see in the jaws of destruction, and propping the coach was all his doing. He knew better what he was about than the coachman himself. And then, if you had seen him, as I did, after all was over! I thought I had loved my Sally dearly. And so I do! But what am I? I thought too I durst have stood up to the boldest man that ever stood on shoe leather! And perhaps I durst: but I find I am nothing in any case to he. For which he never despises me: but insists upon it that I am as good a man as he, in any way. And as for you, madam, he would jump into burning lakes rather than a hair of your head should be singed. I know it: for I have seen it."
'"I know it too," said Miss Mowbray; sobbing. Then, with an effort to quell her passion, she asked in a firmer tone: "Pray, sir, tell me: did not you work at Bath?"
'"Yes, madam: the greatest part of my life."
'"You appear to know of a battle, that Mr. Trevor fought?"
'"Yes, yes, madam. I know it pretty well. I shall remember it as long as I live, for more reasons than one."
'"Was there a man killed?"
'"No, madam: God be praised! I should have died in my sins, unprepared and wicked as I was: being possessed with passion. He, God bless him! for all he is a gentleman, begged my pardon like a man; and held out his hand, and prayed over and over that I would forget and forgive. But, as I tell you, I was possessed. I could be nothing else: because, in the way of hard fighting, I despised a gentleman. But he gave me to know better, as obstinate as I was: for, even after he had beaten me once, why, he begged and prayed, as he had done at first, to make it all up. But, as I said before, the Evil One had taken hold of me; and I refused to give in, till I was carried as dead as a stock off of the place."
'"Then it was you that was reported to have been killed?"
'"Why, yes, madam: because it could be nobody else."
'"Nay, but was not there a poor man ducked to death?"
'"No: God be thanked, once again! It was not quite so bad as that. Though the hot-headed fools and rabble, that got hold of me, did use me ill enough, I must say: for which I was so angry with Mr. Trevor; and it was therefore that Old Nick put it into my head that I would beat him. For I cannot deny but the ducking did dwell upon my memory."
'"Were you then the same person that was so ill treated at Lansdown races?"
'"Yes, madam: for which, though I used to be angry enough before time at pick-pockets, I will take special care never to have a hand in ducking any body, as long as I live."
'"And is there no truth whatever in the story that two men were killed, by the ungovernable passion and malice of Mr. Trevor?"
'"Killed by Mr. Trevor, madam! No, no! He is not that sort of man. He would rather be killed himself than be the death of any Christian soul: 'specially if he was a poor body. I can say that for him. Why he fought like a mad man, to save me from the mob; when they were hustling me, and dragging me along. But, while one part of them gathered round him, the other had got far enough off with me. It being all a mistake about a handkerchief: which he told them. And, though I heard him and saw him beat about just as if he had been a lion to save me, I could not forget how I had been used, when I met him the next day. But I hope God will forgive me! which I do believe he will, for Mr. Trevor has shewn him the example. I beg pardon! God forgive me! I only mean that, though Mr. Trevor is a good gentleman, the Lord of heaven must be a better; and even more charitable and melting in his heart. Which, to be sure, is very strange: because I do not altogether understand how it can be."
'"Then it seems your brother is still living?"
'"Brother, madam? I never had any brother! nor any thing of that kind: except my wife's sisters, which I love because I love she."
'"What strange tales I have been told!"
'"That I dare be sworn you have, madam, from what I have heard. Because there was the sham-Abraham friends of Mr. Trevor: one of which kicked him, when he was down!"
'"Is it possible?"
'"It is as true as God is in heaven, madam!"
'"Do you know his name?"
'"He was as tall as a Maypole. And then after he had done this cowardly trick, why he durst not stand up to Mr. Trevor, like a man. And so, madam, finding as you have been told a parcel of trumpery tales, I hope in God you will be kind enough not to believe one of them; now that you see they are all false. For if there be a gentleman on the face of the earth that loves a lady to desperation, why, Mr. Trevor is he; as you would have been satisfied, if you had set by his bedside when as he was down in the fever; like as I and my Sally did; and had heard him rave of nobody but you. And then if you had seen him too the night after he took you out of the coach! and then went on to Hounslow. Which, as he said, seeing it was parting with you, was worse than tearing his heart out of his body! But he was so afraid of doing you harm! and of setting that cross old lady to scold you! For he would suffer death rather than anger you. So that, while I have breath to draw, I shall never forget, when we came to the inn, how he looked! and stood quite lost and changing colour! and while his face was as set as stone, the tears kept trickling down his cheeks! At which I was put into a panic: for I did not at that time know what it was about, nor who we had been in company with. Which was the more surprising, when I came to hear! For which, as he knows you to be so good a lady, I am sure you must see all these particulars just in the same light."
'Miss Mowbray had heard sufficient. Her heart was bursting. It was with difficulty she could check her feelings, and she made no reply. Your unassuming but intelligent friend understood her silence as an intimation to him to withdraw. Zealous as you hear he was in your behalf, this thought put an end to his loquacity. But, as he was retiring, Miss Mowbray drew out her purse, and said to him—"Let me beg you, sir, to accept this; as a recompense, for—for having aided in saving the lives of me and my aunt."
'As she stretched out her hand, he looked up at her, as long as he durst; and then, turning his eyes away, said—"Why, as for money, madam, I thank you as much as if I had it: but, if I was to take it, what would that seem? but as if I had been telling a tale only to please you: when I declare, in the face of my Maker, it is every word truth! And a great deal more! And as for saving your lives, I was as willing I own as another: but I was not half so quick in thought as Mr. Trevor. Because, as the coachman said, if he had not catched hold of the horses in that very instant nick of the moment, it would have been all over! So I hope, madam, you will not take it amiss that I am not one of the sort which tell tales to gain their own ends."
'Here he instantly left the room: by which he intended to shew that he was determined.
'Clarke was no sooner gone than Miss Mowbray burst into the most passionate, and I really believe the most rapturous, flood of tears that the heart of woman ever shed! And how melting, how overflowing with affection, the heart of woman is, Mr. Trevor, I think you know.
'Good God! How pure, how expressive, how beaming, was the pleasure in her eyes! though she sobbed so violently that she had lost all utterance. How did she press my hand, gaze at me, then bury her face in my bosom, and struggle with the pleasure that was becoming dangerous in its excess!
'After some time, her thoughts took another turn. She instantly recovered the use of speech and exclaimed—"Oh, my friend! I almost hate myself, for the injustice which I, as well as others, have done Mr. Trevor—I, who had heard from his lips a thousand sentiments that ought to have assured me of the generous and elevated virtues by which his actions were directed! He has twice saved my life; and yet, because on some occasions he has happened to act differently from what I have supposed he ought to have acted, I have taken upon me to treat him with coldness that was affected, with reproof when I owed him thanks, and with rudeness such as I supposed became my sex.
'"For me he has risked his life again and again, without hesitation: while I have sat in timid silence, and countenanced calumnies which it was impossible I could believe; though I seem as if I had endeavoured to believe them, from the disgrace which I knew would justly light on me, should these calumnies prove false. False I could not but think them, false they have proved, and I am unworthy of him. I have presumed upon the prejudices which I knew would protect me, in the opinions of the foolish, and gain me their applause, and have treated him with a haughtiness which he ought to despise. Has he deserved it? Has he been guilty of one mean or seductive art, that might induce me to betray a duty, and gratify him at the expence of myself and others? Has he entered into that base warfare of the sexes by which each in turn endeavours to deceive?"
'The thought suddenly struck her, and interrupting herself she hastily asked—"Where is the letter you mentioned? I will read it. I know I shall read my own condemnation: but I will read it."
'I presented the letter, and replied, "Mr. Trevor instructed me to tell you, when I delivered it, that it contains nothing which he wishes you to conceal, should you think fit to shew it; that it does not invite you to any improper correspondence; and that it is the only one which, under his present circumstances, he means to obtrude upon you."
'Evidently overcome by the generous rectitude of your conduct, and more dissatisfied with her own, she broke the seal and began to read.
'She hurried it once over with great eagerness, and trepidation. She then paused; debating whether she should unburthen her mind immediately of a crowd of thoughts: but, finding they crossed and disturbed each other, she began again and read aloud; interrupting herself by remarks, as she proceeded.
'"My reproof and anger"—Yes, yes, I have taught him to treat me like a Sultana. He punishes me justly without intending it.
'"You have supposed me dead"—Here, addressing herself to me, she added—"It was his servant, Philip, who being hired by a gentleman that came to Scarborough brought us this false intelligence. His story was that he saw Mr. Trevor's distraction, on the morning after he had lost his money at a gaming-table; to which rashness as it should seem he was driven by despair; that Mr. Trevor ran into the fields, in a fit of frenzy, and threw himself into the Avon: that he, Philip, who had followed as fast as he could, hastened to the place but never saw him more; and that consequently and beyond all doubt he was there drowned.
'"Philip, according to his own account, hurried into the water, and used every means in his power to find the body: but, not being successful, he returned to his master's lodgings, took some trifles that had been given him, and left Bath by the morning coach for London; having nobody in Bath to give him a character, and being less likely there to meet with another place."
'I informed Miss Mowbray that this was part of it true, and part false: for that Philip had taken a ten-pound note, which more than paid him his wages; and that the other things, which he carried away, had not been given him.
'"Indeed!" exclaimed Miss Mowbray, "I am exceedingly sorry to hear it: for, after his second master left Scarborough and he was hired by my aunt to wait on me, he behaved with great diligence and honesty.
'"Yet this accounts in part for his running away: which he did that very night after I suppose he had discovered it was Mr. Trevor, at Cranford-bridge; and I have never seen or heard of him since.
'"I am persuaded he thought Mr. Trevor dead: for, after I had heard my brother's account of the battle, I thought the time and the circumstances contradictory, and repeatedly questioned Philip; who persisted in declaring he saw Mr. Trevor jump into the river and drown himself.
'"Philip's account was that he had himself been out on errands early in the morning, at which time he supposed the battle must have been fought; and, though there were many contradictory circumstances, the positiveness with which the two tales were told led me to believe that the chief incidents of both were true. And, as I say, the flight of Philip from Cranford-bridge persuades me that he actually had believed Mr. Trevor dead.
'"I am sorry the poor fellow has done this wrong thing, and been frightened away: for I never before heard a servant speak with so much warmth and affection of a master, as he did of Mr. Trevor."
'She then continued to read; and made many observations, which expressed dissatisfaction with herself and were favourable to you, till she came to where you inform her that you had begun to study the law.
'"By this I find," said she, "the story I have just heard is false."
'I asked, "What story is that, pray?"
'She replied, "I was last night at the opera; where I saw Mr. Trevor, with Lady Bray. Having so lately met with him under circumstances so different, and apparently disadvantageous, you may imagine that the joy I felt and the hope I conceived were not trifling.
'"My aunt saw him, likewise: but, as she was not so familiar with his person as to have no doubt, she first watched and then questioned me: though, as she upbraidingly told me, she needed only to have enquired of my looks.
'"I ought perhaps first to have informed you that I had thought it my duty to use the utmost sincerity, undeceive her, and declare all that I knew of what had passed at Cranford-bridge.
'"I performed this task on that very night, while her heart was alive to the danger she had escaped, and when she expressed a lively regret that the person from whom she had received such signal aid had disappeared. Except his silence in the coach, she said every thing bespoke him to be a gentleman: well bred, well educated, courageous, and as active as he was bold.
'"When she was told that the gentleman, of whom she had been speaking with so much warmth, had a peculiar motive for being silent, and that this gentleman was no other than Mr. Trevor, she was very much moved. The recollection of the manner in which she had been treating his character, and of the alacrity with which he had afterward saved her life, was exceedingly strong; and far from unmixed with pain. Before she was aware of herself, she exclaimed, 'This Mr. Trevor is a very extraordinary young man!'
'"Unfortunately for Mr. Trevor, our servant, Philip, had absconded; and a train of suspicions immediately arose in her mind. It might be a conspiracy among them; a desperate and unprincipled contrivance, to effect a desperate and unprincipled purpose.
'"In this supposition she confirmed herself by every possible surmise: each and all resting upon the assumed league between Philip and Mr. Trevor.
'"I vainly urged that the sudden disappearing of both entirely contradicted such a conjecture; that Mr. Trevor, if he were capable of an action like this, must be as wicked as he was mad; and that I had every reason to believe him a man of the most generous and elevated principles. As you may suppose, these arguments from me only subjected me to reproof, sarcasm, and even suspicion.
'"My aunt fortified herself in her opinion; and behaved with a more jealous watchfulness than ever. She even terrified me with the dread of that which I could not credit: the possibility that what she affirmed might be true.
'"But, that I might do every thing in my power to prove that one part of her surmises was false, I determined cautiously to avoid, for the present, seeing or even hearing any thing concerning Mr. Trevor. And this was my inducement for writing the note, which you received.
'"My mind however suffered a continual conflict. I debated on the propriety of listening to the daily defamation of Mr. Trevor, when there were so many presumptive facts in his favour, and not endeavouring to prove that it was false; and I accused my conduct of apparent hypocrisy: of assuming a calm unconcern which my heart belied.
'"The sight of him at the Opera renewed my self-reproaches, in full force; and, likewise, fortunately awakened my aunt's curiosity.
'"Accordingly, one of our morning visits, to-day, has been to a friend of Lady Bray's; and there we learned that Mr. Trevor had been introduced, by Sir Barnard, to his lady and their common friends; as a young gentleman coming into parliament, and supposed to be possessed of extraordinary talents.
'"This I find by his letter is untrue; and there still appears to be some mystery which perhaps, as you see him so often, you may be able to unravel."
'I immediately requested her to look at the date of the letter; by which she saw it had been written several weeks: and afterward made her acquainted with all the particulars I knew, concerning your beginning and renouncing the study of the law, and your new political plans: most carefully remembering to give your noble minded friend, Mr. Evelyn, his due share of what I had to relate.
'Oh! how did her eyes swim, and her features glow, while I stated what I had heard of his sentiments and proceedings! Yes! She has a heart! a heart to match your own, Mr. Trevor.
'She then read the remainder of the letter; but with numerous interruptions, all of them expressing her admiration of your conduct by criminating her own.
'When she had ended, she spoke to me nearly as follows.
'"I am now, my dear friend, determined on the conduct I mean to pursue. Oh! How it delights my heart that Mr. Trevor accords with me in opinion, and advises me to that open sincerity after which I have long been struggling, and which I am at length resolved to adopt! I mean to inform my aunt of all that I know, as well as of all that I intend. I will tell her where I have been, shew her this letter, repeat every thing I have heard, and add my fixed purpose not to admit the addresses of any man on earth; till my family shall authorise those of Mr. Trevor. For that, or for the time when I shall be unconditionally my own mistress, however distant it may be, I will wait.
'"Tell Mr. Trevor that my heart is overwhelmed by the sense it feels of his generous and noble conduct; and it exults in his manly forbearance, which so cautiously guards my rectitude rather than his own gratification; that I will obey his injunction, and that we will have no clandestine correspondence; but that our souls shall commune: they shall daily sympathise, and mutually excite us to that perseverance in fidelity and virtue which will be their own reward, and the consolation and joy of our lives.
'"If my aunt, my brother, or any of their acquaintance, should again calumniate Mr. Trevor, I will forewarn them of my further determination to inform him, and enquire into the facts. But I hope they will neither be so unjust nor so ungenerous. At least, I think my aunt will not; when she hears the truth, knows my resolution, and remembers Cranford-bridge.
'"Of misinterpretation from Mr. Trevor I am in no fear. Had he one sinister design, he never could have imagined the conduct he has so nobly pursued. But to suppose the possibility of such a thing in him would be a most unpardonable injustice. The man who should teach me to distrust him, as a lover, could never inspire me with admiration and confidence, as a husband. But different indeed has been the lesson I have learned from Mr. Trevor.
'"Oh that Mr. Evelyn! What a godlike morality has he adopted! How rational! How full of benefit to others, and of happiness to himself!
'"But Mr. Trevor's friends are all of this uncommon stamp; and I own that to look into futurity, and to suppose myself excluded by prejudice and pride from the enjoyment of such society, is perhaps the most painful idea that can afflict the mind. I am almost afraid of owning even to you, my kind and sympathising friend, the torrent of emotions I feel at the thought of the pure pleasures I hope for hereafter; from a life spent with a partner like Mr. Trevor, heightened by the intercourse of the generous, benevolent, and strong-minded men who share his heart."'