Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

must speak to me so no more? There is the carriage. God bless you, dear Clive.

(Clive sees the carriage drive away after Miss Newcome has entered it without once looking up to the window where he stands. When it is gone he goes to the opposite windows of the salon, which are open, towards the garden. The chapel music begins to play from the convent, next door. As he hears it he sinks down, his head in his hands.)

Enter Madame de Florac. (She goes to him with anxious looks.) What hast thou, my child? Hast thou spoken?

Clive (very steadily). Yes.
Madame de F. And she loves thee? I know she loves thee.
Clive. You hear the organ of the convent?
Madame de F. Qu'as tu ?

Clive. I might as well hope to marry one of the sisters of yonder convent, dear lady. (He sinks down again, and she kisses him.)

Clive. I never had a mother; but you seem like one.
Madame de F. Mon fils! Oh, mon fils !

CHAPTER XLVIII.

IN WHICH BENEDICK IS A MARRIED MAN. W E have all heard of the dying French Duchess, who viewed her

VV coming dissolution and subsequent fate so easily, because she said she was sure that Heaven must deal politely with a person of her quality ;-I suppose Lady Kew had some such notions regarding people of rank: her long-suffering towards them was extreme; in fact, there were vices which the old lady thought pardonable, and even natural, in a young nobleman of high station, which she never would have excused in persons of vulgar condition.

Her ladyship's little knot of associates and scandal-bearers-elderly roués and ladies of the world, whose business it was to know all sorts of noble intrigues and exalted tittle-tattle; what was happening among the devotees of the exiled court at Frohsdorf; what among the citizen princes of the Tuileries: who was the reigning favourite of the Queen Mother at Aranjuez; who was smitten with whom at Vienna or Naples; and the last particulars of the chroniques scandaleuses of Paris and London ;-Lady Kew, I say, must have been perfectly aware of my Lord Farintosh's amusements, associates, and manner of life, and yet she never, for one moment, exhibited any anger or dislike towards that nobleman. Her amiable heart was so full of kindness and forgiveness towards the young prodigal that, even without any repentance on his part, she was ready to take him to her old arms, and give him her venerable benediction. Pathetic sweetness of nature! Charming tenderness of disposition! With all his faults and wickednesses, his follies and his selfishness, there was no moment when Lady Kew would not have received the young lord, and endowed him with the hand of her darling Ethel.

But the hopes which this fond forgiving creature had nurtured for one season, and carried on so resolutely to the next, were destined to be disappointed yet a second time, by a most provoking event which occurred in the Newcome family. Ethel was called away suddenly from Paris by her father's third and last paralytic seizure. When she Teached her home, Sir Brian could not recognise her. A few hours after her arrival, all the vanities of the world were over for him: and Sir Barnes Newcome, Baronet, reigned in his stead. The day after Sir NEWCOMES. Brian was laid in his vault at Newcome, a letter appeared in the local papers addressed to the Independent Electors of that Borough, in which his orphaned son, feelingly alluding to the virtue, the services, and the political principles of the deceased, offered himself as a candidate for the seat in Parliament now vacant. Sir Barnes announced that he should speedily pay his respects in person to the friends and supporters of his lamented father. That he was a staunch friend of our admirable constitution need not be said. That he was a firm, but conscientious upholder of our Protestant religion, all who knew Barnes Newcome must be aware. That he would do his utmost to advance the interests of this great agricultural, this great manufacturing county and borough, we may be assured he avowed; as that he would be (if returned to represent Newcome in Parliament) the advocate of every rational reform, the unhesitating opponent of every reckless innovation. In fine, Barnes Newcome's manifesto to the Electors of Newcome was as authentic à document, and gave him credit for as many public virtues, as that slab over poor Sir Brian's bones in the chancel of Newcome Church, which commemorated the good qualities of the defunct, and the grief of his heir.

In spite of the virtues, personal and inherited, of Barnes, his seat for Newcome was not got without a contest. The Dissenting interest and the respectable Liberals of the borough wished to set up Samuel Higg, Esq., against Sir Barnes Newcome; and now it was that Barnes's civilities of the previous year, aided by Madame de Montcontour's influence over her brother, bore their fruit. Mr. Higg declined to stand against Sir Barnes Newcome, although Higg's political principles were by no means those of the honourable Baronet; and the candidate from London, whom the Newcome extreme Radicals set up against Barnes, was nowhere on the poll when the day of election came. So Barnes had the desire of his heart; and, within two months after his father's decease, he sat in Parliament as Member for Newcome.

The bulk of the late Baronet's property descended, of course, to his eldest son: who grumbled, nevertheless, at the provision made for. his brothers and sisters, and that the town-house should have been left to Lady Ann, who was too poor to inhabit it. But Park Lane is the best situation in London, and Lady Ann's means were greatly improved by the annual produce of the house in Park Lane, which, as we all know, was occupied by a foreign minister for several subsequent seasons. Strange mutations of fortune: old places; new faces ; what Londoner does not see and speculate upon them every day? Celia's boudoir, who is dead with the daisies over her at Kensal Green, is now the chamber where Delia is consulting Dr. Locock, or Julia's children are romping: Florio's dining-tables have now Pollio's wine upon

them: Calista, being a widow, and (to the surprise of everybody who knew Trimalchio, and enjoyed his famous dinners,) left but very poorly off, lets the house, and the rich, chaste, and appropriate planned furniture, by Dowbiggin, and the proceeds go to keep her little boys at Eton. The next year, as Mr. Clive Newcome rode by the once familiar mansion (whence the hatchment had been removed, announcing that there was in Cælo Quies for the late Sir Brian Newcome, Bart.,) alien faces looked from over the flowers in the balconies, He got a card for an entertainment from the occupant of the mansion, H.E. the Bulgarian minister; and there was the same crowd in the reception-room and on the stairs, the same grave men from Gunter's distributing the refreshments in the dining-room, the same old Smees R.A., (always in the room where the edibles were,) cringing to and flattering the new occupants; and the same effigy of poor Sir Brian, in his deputy-lieutenant's uniform, looking blankly down from over the sideboard, at the feast which his successors were giving. A dreamy old ghost of a picture. Have you ever looked at those round George IV.'s banqueting-hall at Windsor? Their frames still hold them, but they smile ghostly smiles, and swagger in robes and velvets which are quite faint and faded; their crimson coats have a twilight tinge; the lustre of their stars has twinkled out; they look as if they were about to flicker off the wall and retire to join their originals in limbo.

Nearly three years had elapsed since the good Colonel's departure for India, and during this time certain changes had occurred in the lives of the principal actors and the writer of this history. As regards the latter, it must be stated that the dear old firm of Lamb Court had been dissolved, the junior member having contracted another partnership. The chronicler of these memoirs was a bachelor no longer. My wife and I had spent the winter at Rome (favourite resort of young married couples); and had heard from the artists there Clive's name affectionately repeated; and many accounts of his sayings and doings, his merry supper-parties, and the talents of young Ridley his friend. When we came to London in the spring, almost our first visit was to Clive's apartments in Charlotte Street, whither my wife delightedly went to give her hand to the young painter..

But Clive no longer inhabited that quiet region. On driving to the house we found a bright brass plate, with the name of Mr. J. J. Ridley on the door, and it was J. J.'s hand which I shook (his other being engaged with a great palette, and a sheaf of painting-brushes.) when we entered the well-known quarters. Clive's picture hung over the mantel-piece, where his father's head used to hang in our time-a careful and beautifully executed portrait of the lad in a velvet coat and a Roman hat, with that golden beard which was sacrificed to the exigencies of London fashion. I showed Laura the likeness until she could become acquainted with the original. On her expressing her delight at the picture, the painter was pleased to say, in his modest blushing way, that he would be glad to execute my wife's portrait too, nor, as I think, could any artist find a subject more pleasing..

After admiring others of Mr. Ridley's works, our talk naturally reverted to his predecessor. Clive had migrated to much more splendid quarters. Had we not heard ? he had become a rich man, a man of fashion. “I fear he is very lazy about the arts," J. J. said, with regret on his countenance; "though I begged and prayed him to be faithful to his profession. He would have done very well in it, in portraitpainting especially. Look here, and here, and here!” said Ridley, producing fine vigorous sketches of Clive's. “He had the art of seizing the likeness, and of making all his people look like gentlemen, too. He was improving every day, when this abominable bank came in the way, and stopped him.”

What bank? I did not know the new Indian bank of which the Colonel was a director. Then, of course, I was aware that the mercantile affair in question was the Bundelcund Bank, about which the Colonel had written to ne from India more than a year since, announcing that fortunes were to be made by it, and that he had reserved shares for me in the company. Laura admired all Clive's sketches which his affectionate brother artist showed to her, with the exception of one representing the reader's humble servant; which Mrs. Pendennis considered by no means did justice to the original.

Bidding adieu to the kind J. J., and leaving him to pursue his art, in that silent serious way in which he daily laboured at it, we drove to Fitzroy Square hard by, where I was not displeased to show the good old hospitable James Binnie the young lady who bore my name. But here, too, we were disappointed. Placards wafered in the windows announced that the old house was to let. The woman who kept it brought a card in Mrs. Mackenzie's frank handwriting, announcing Mr. James Binnie's address was" Poste-restante, Pau, in the Pyrenees," and that his London agents were Messrs. So-and-so. The woman said she believed the gentleman had been unwell. The house, too, looked very pale, dismal, and disordered. We drove away from the door, grieving to think that ill-health, or any other misfortunes, had befallen good old James.

Mrs. Pendennis drove back to our lodgings, Brixham's, in Jermyn Street, while I sped to the City, having business in that quarter. It has been said that I kept a small account with Hobson Brothers, to whose bank I went, and entered the parlour with that trepidation which most poor men feel on presenting themselves before City magnates and capitalists. Mr. Hobson Newcome shook hands most

« AnteriorContinuar »