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I have exceeded already, positively exceeded;" the poor discomfited gentleman hardly knows whither to apply; but, luckily, Tom Norris, the first mate, comes to his rescue, and cries out, “ Mr. Binnie, I've not had enough, and I'll drink a glass of anything ye like with ye." The fact is, that Mr. Norris has had enough. He has drunk bumpers to the health of every member of the company; his glass has been filled scores of times by watchful waiters. So has Mr. Bayham absorbed great quantities of drink; but without any visible effect on that veteran toper. So has young Clive taken more than is good for him. His cheeks are flushed and burning; he is chattering and laughing loudly at his end of the table. Mr. Warrington eyes the lad with some curiosity; and then regards Mr. Barnes with a look of scorn, which does not scorch that affable young person.
I am obliged to confess that the mate of the Indiaman, at an early period of the dessert, and when nobody had asked him for any such public expression of his opinion, insisted on rising and proposing the health of Colonel Newcome, whose virtues he lauded outrageously, and whom he pronounced to be one of the best of mortal men. Sir Brian looked very much alarmed at the commencement of this speech, which the mate delivered with immense shrieks and gesticulation : but the Baronet recovered during the course of the rambling oration, and, at its conclusion, gracefully tapped the table with one of those patronising fingers; and lifting up a glass containing at least a thimbleful of claret, said, “My dear brother, I drink your health with all my heart, I'm su-ah." The youthful Barnes had uttered many “Hear, hears!” during the discourse, with an irony which, with every fresh glass of wine he drank, he cared less to conceal. And though Barnes had come late he had drunk largely, making up for lost time.
Those ironical cheers, and all his cousin's behaviour during dinner, had struck young Clive, who was growing very angry. He growled out remarks uncomplimentary to Barnes. His eyes, as he looked towards his kinsman, flashed challenges, of which we who were watching him could see the warlike purport. Warrington looked at Bayham and Pendennis with glances of apprehension. We saw that danger was brooding, unless the one young man could be restrained from his impertinence, and the other from his wine.
Colonel Newcome said a very few words in reply to his honest friend the chief mate, and there the matter might have ended, but I am sorry to say Mr. Binnie now thought it necessary to rise and deliver himself of some remarks regarding the King's service, coupled with the name of Major-General Sir Thomas de Boots, K.C.B., &c.—the receipt of which that gallant officer was obliged to acknowledge in a confusion amounting almost to apoplexy. The glasses went whack ----whack upon the hospitable board; the evening set in for public
speaking. Encouraged by his last effort, Mr. Binnie now proposed Sir Brian Newcome's health; and that Baronet rose and uttered an exceedingly lengthy speech, delivered with his wine-glass on his bosom.
Then that sad rogue Bayham must get up, and call earnestly and respectfully for silence, and the chairman's hearty sympathy, for the few observations which he had to propose. “Our armies had been drunk with proper enthusiasm--such men as he beheld around him deserved the applause of all honest hearts, and merited the cheers with which their names had been received. (Hear, hear!' from Barnes. Newcome sarcastically. 'Hear, hear, HEAR!' fiercely from Clive.) But whilst we applauded our army, should we forget a profession still more exalted? Yes, still more exalted, I say in the face of the gallant General opposite; and that profession, I need not say, is the Church. (Applause.) Gentlemen, we have among us one who, while partaking largely of the dainties on this festive board, drinking freely of the sparkling wine-cup which our gallant friend's hospitality administers to us, sanctifies by his presence the feast of which he partakes, inaugurates with appropriate benedictions, and graces it, I may say, both before and after meat. Gentlemen, Charles Honeyman was the friend of my childhood, his father the instructor of my early days. If Frederick Bayham's latter life has been chequered by misfortune, it may be that I have forgotten the precepts which the venerable parent of Charles Honeyman poured into an inattentive ear. He too, as a child, was. not exempt from faults; as a young man, I am told, not quite free from youthful indiscretions. But in this present Anno Domini, we hail Charles Honeyman as a precept and an example, as a decus fidei and a lumen ecclesiæ (as I told him in the confidence of the private circle this morning, and ere I ever thought to publish my opinion in. this distinguished company). Colonel Newcome and Mr. Binnie! I drink to the health of the Reverend Charles Honeyman, A.M. May we listen to many more of his sermons, as well as to that admirable discourse with which I am sure he is about to electrify us now. May we profit by his eloquence; and cherish in our memories the truths which come mended from his tongue !” He ceased; poor Honeyman had to rise on his legs, and gasp out a few incoherent remarks in reply. Without a book before him, the Incumbent of Lady Whittlesea's Chapel was no prophet, and the truth is, he made poor work of his oration.
At the end of it, he, Sir Brian, Colonel Dobbin, and one of the Indian gentlemen quitted the room, in spite of the loud outcries of our generous host, who insisted that the party should not break up. “ Close up, gentlemen," called out honest Newcome, “we are not going to part just yet. Let me fill your glass, General. You used to have: no objection to a glass of wine." And he poured out a bumper for his friend, which the old campaigner sucked in with fitting gusto. 6 Who will give us a song? Binnie, give us the · Laird of Cockpen. It's capital, my dear General. Capital," the Colonel whispered to his neighbour.
Mr. Binnie struck up the “ Laird of Cockpen," without, I am bound to say, the least reluctance. He bobbed to one man, and he winked to another, and he tossed his glass, and gave all the points of his song in a manner which did credit to his simplicity and his humour. You haughty southerners little know how a jolly Scotch gentleman can desipere in loco, and how he chirrups over his honest cups. I do not say whether it was with the song or with Mr, Binnie that we were most amused. It was a good commonty, as Christopher Sly says; nor were we sorry when it was done.
Him the first mate succeeded; after which came a song from the redoubted F. Bayham, which he sang with a bass voice which Lablache might envy, and of which the chorus was frantically sung by the whole company. The cry was then for the Colonel ; on which Barnes Newcome, who had been drinking much, started up with something like an oath, crying, “Oh, I can't stand this."
“ Then leave it, confound you !" said young Clive, with fury in his face. “If our company is not good enough for you, why do you come into it?"
“What's that?" asks Barnes, who was evidently affected by wine. Bayham roared, “Silence !” and Barnes Newcome, looking round with a tipsy toss of the head, finally sate down.
The Colonel sang, as we have said, with a very high voice, using freely the falsetto, after the manner of the tenor-singers of his day. He chose one of his maritime songs, and got through the first verse very well, Barnes wagging his head at the chorus, with a “Bravo!” so offensive that Fred Bayham, his neighbour, gripped the young man's arm, and told him to hold his confounded tongue.
The Colonel began his second verse: and here, as will often happen to amateur singers, his falsetto broke down. He was not in the least annoyed, for I saw him smile very good-naturedly; and he was going to try the verse again, when that unlucky Barnes first gave a sort of crowing imitation of the song, and then burst into a yell of laughter. Clive dashed a glass of wine in his face at the next minute, glass and all; and no one who had watched the young man's behaviour was sorry for the insult.
I never saw a kind face express more terror than Colonel Newcome's. He started back as if he had himself received the blow from his son. “Gracious God!" he cried out." My boy insult a gentleman at my table !"
“ I'd like to do it again,” says Clive, whose whole body was trembling with anger.
“ Are you drunk, sir?" shouted his father. :
“ The boy served the young fellow right, sir," growled Fred Bayham in his deepest voice. " Come along, young man. Stand up straight, and keep a civil tongue in your head next time, mind you, when you dine with gentlemen. It's easy to see," says Fred, looking round with a knowing air, “that this young man hasn't got the usages of society-he's not been accustomed to it:" and he led the dandy out.
Others had meanwhile explained the state of the case to the Colonel-including Sir Thomas de Boots, who was highly energetic and delighted with Clive's spirit; and some were for having the song to continue; but the Colonel, puffing his cigar, said, “No. My pipe is out. I will never sing again." So this history will record no more of Thomas Newcome's musical performances.
CLIVE woke up the next morning to be aware of a racking head
ache, and, by the dim light of his throbbing eyes, to behold his father with solemn face at his bed-foot-à reproving conscience to greet his waking.
*You drank too much wine last night, and disgraced yourself, sir," the old soldier said. “You must get up and eat humble pie this morning, my boy."
“Humble what, father?” asked the lad, hardly aware of his words, or the scene before him. “Oh, I've got such a headache ! ”
« Serve you right; sir. Many a young fellow has had to go on parade in the morning with a headache earned overnight. Drink this water. Now jump up. Now, dash the water well over your head. There you come! Make your toilette quickly, and let us be off, and find cousin Barnes before he has left home.”
Clive obeyed the paternal orders; dressed himself quickly; and descending, found his father smoking his morning cigar in the apartment where they had dined the night before, and where the tables still were covered with the relics of yesterday's feast-the emptied bottles, the black lamps, the scattered ashes and fruits, the wretched heel-taps that have been lying exposed all night to the air. Who does not know the aspect of an expired feast ?
“The field of action strewed with the dead, my boy," says Clive's father. “See, here's the glass on the floor yet, and a great stain of claret on the carpet.”
“Oh, father," says Clive, hanging his head down, “I know I shouldn't have done it. But Barnes Newcome would provoke the patience of Job; and I couldn't bear to have my father insulted.”
"I am big enough to fight my own battles, my boy," the Colonel said good-naturedly, putting his hand on the lad's damp head. “How your head throbs! If Barnes laughed at my singing, depend upon it, sir, there was something ridiculous in it, and he laughed because he could not help it. If he behaved ill, we should not; and to a man who is eating our salt too, and is of our blood.”
“He is ashamed of our blood, father," cries Clive, still indignant.