Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Mrs. Pendennis came away with rather a heavy heart from this party. She chose to interest herself about the right or wrong of her friends; and her mind was disturbed by the Colonel's vindictive spirit. On the subsequent day we had occasion to visit our friend J. J., (who was completing the sweetest little picture, No. 263 in the Exhibition, “Portrait of a Lady and Child,") and we found that

7. J. was acquainted with his scheme. That he did not approve of it we could read in the artist's grave countenance. “Nor does Clive approve of it either!” cried Ridley, with greater eagerness than he usually displayed, and more openness than he was accustomed to exhibit in judging unfavourably of his friends.

“ Among them they have taken him away from his art,” Ridley said. “They don't understand him when he talks about it, they despise him for pursuing it. Why should I wonder at that? my parents despised it too, and my father was not a grand gentleman like the Colonel, Mrs. Pendennis. Ah ! why did the Colonel ever grow rich ? Why had not Clive to work for his bread as I have? He would have done something that was worthy of him then; now his time must be spent in dancing attendance at balls and operas, and yawning at City board-rooms. They call that business ; they think he is idling when he comes here, poor fellow ! As if life was long enough for our art ; and the best labour we can give, good enough for it! He went away groaning this morning, and quite saddened in spirits. The Colonel wants to set up himself for Parliament, or to set Clive up; but he says he won't. I hope he won't; do not you, Mrs. Pendennis ?

The painter turned as he spoke; and the bright northern light which fell upon the sitter's head was intercepted, and lighted up his. own as he addressed us. Out of that bright light looked his pale thoughtful face, and long locks and eager brown eyes. The palette on his arm was a great shield painted of many colours : he carried his maul-stick and a sheaf of brushes along with it, the weapons of his glorious but harmless war. With these he achieves conquests, wherein none are wounded save the envious : with that he shelters him against how much idleness, ambition, temptation! Occupied over that consoling work, idle thoughts cannot gain the mastery over him; selfish wishes or desires are kept at bay. Art is truth : and truth is religion; and its study and practice a daily work of pious duty. What are the world's struggles, brawls, successes, to that calm recluse pursuing his calling ? See, twinkling in the darkness round his chamber, numberless beautiful trophies of the graceful victories which he has won--sweet flowers of fancy reared by him-kind shapes of beauty which he has devised and moulded. The world enters into the artist's studio, and scornfully bids him a price for his genius, or makes dull pretence to admire it. What know you of his art? You cannot read the alphabet of that sacred book, good old Thomas Newcome! What can you tell of its glories, joys, secrets, consolations? Between his two best beloved mistresses, poor Clive's luckless father somehow interposes ; and with sorrowful, even angry protests. In place of Art the Colonel brings him a ledger ; and in lieu of first love, shows him Rosey.

No wonder that Clive hangs his head; rebels sometimes, desponds always ; he has positively determined to refuse to stand for Newcome, Ridley says. Laura is glad of his refusal, and begins to think of him once more as of the Clive of old days.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

IN WHICH THE COLONEL AND THE NEWCOME ATHENÆUM ARE

BOTH LECTURED. T breakfast with his family, on the morning after the little enterO tainment to which we were bidden, in the last chapter, Colonel Newcome was full of the projected invasion of Barnes's territories, and delighted to think that there was an opportunity of at last humiliating that rascal.

* Clive does not think he is a rascal at all, papa," cries Rosey, from behind her tea-urn; “ that is, you said you thought papa judged him too harshly; you know you did, this morning!” And from her husband's angry glances, she flies to his father's for protection. Those were even fiercer than Clive's. Revenge flashed from beneath Thomas Newcome's grizzled eyebrows, and glanced in the direction where Clive sat. Then the Colonel's face flushed up, and he cast his eyes down towards his teacup, which he lifted with a trembling hand. The father and son loved each other so, that each was afraid of the other. A war between two such men is dreadful ; pretty little pink-faced Rosey, in a sweet little morning cap and ribbons, her pretty little fingers twinkling with a score of rings, sat simpering before her silver tea-urn, which reflected her pretty little pink baby face. Little artless creature ! what did she know of the dreadful wounds which her little words inflicted in the one generous breast and the other ?

“ My boy's heart is gone from me," thinks poor Thomas Newcome ; " our family is insulted, our enterprises ruined, by that traitor, and my son is not even angry; he does not care for the success of our plans for the honour of our name even; I make him a position of which any young man in England might be proud, and Clive scarcely deigns to accept it."

“My wife appeals to my father," thinks poor Clive; “it is from him she asks counsel, and not from me. Be it about the ribbon in her cap, or any other transaction in our lives, she takes her colour from his opinion, and goes to him for advice, and I have to wait till it is given, and conform myself to it. If I differ from the dear old father, I wound him; if I yield up my opinion, as I do always, it is with a bad grace, and I wound him still. With the best intentions in the world, what a slave's life it is that he has made for me!”

“ How interested you are in your papers," resumes the sprightly Rosey. “What can you find in those horrid politics ?” Both gentlemen are looking at their papers with all their might, and no doubt cannot see one single word which those brilliant and witty leading articles contain.

“ Clive is like you, Rosey," says the Colonel, laying his paper down, 6 and does not care for politics."

“He only cares for pictures, papa,” says Mrs. Clive. “He would not drive with me yesterday in the Park, but spent hours in his room, while you were toiling in the City, poor papa !-spent hours painting a horrid beggar-man dressed up as a monk. And this morning, he got up quite early, quite early, and has been out ever so long, and only came in for breakfast just now! just before the bell rung.”

“I like a ride before breakfast," says Clive.

“ A ride! I know where you have been, sir! He goes away, morning after morning, to that little Mr. Ridley's-his chum, papa, and he comes back with his hands all over horrid paint. He did this morning : you know you did, Clive.”

“I did not keep any one waiting, Rosey," says Clive. “ I like to have two or three hours at my painting when I can spare them.” Indeed, the poor fellow used so to run away of summer mornings for Ridley's instructions, and gallop home again, so as to be in time for the family meal.

Yes," cries Rosey, tossing up the cap and ribbons," he gets up so early in the morning, that at night he falls asleep after dinner ; very pleasant and polite, isn't he, papa ?”

“I am up betimes too, my dear,” says the Colonel (many and many a time he must have heard Clive as he left the house); “I have a great many letters to write, affairs of the greatest importance to examine and conduct. Mr. Betts from the City is often with me for hours before I come down to your breakfast-table. A man who has the affairs of such a great bank as ours to look to, must be up with the lark. We are all early risers in India."

“You dear kind papa !” says little Rosey, with unfeigned admiration; and she puts out one of the plump white little jewelled hands, and pats the lean brown paw of the Colonel which is nearest to her.

“Is Ridley's picture getting on well, Clive ?” asks the Colonel, trying to interest himself about Ridley and his picture.

“Very well ; it is beautiful; he has sold it for a great price; they must make him an academician next year,replies Clive.

“A most industrious and meritorious young man; he deserves every honour that may happen to him," says the old soldier. “Rosey my dear, it is time that you should ask Mr. Ridley, to dinner, and Mr. Smee, and some of those gentlemen. We will drive this afternoon and see your portrait.”

56 Clive does not go to sleep after dinner when Mr. Ridley comes here," cries Rosey.

“No; I think it is my turn then," says the Colonel, with a glance of kindness. The anger has disappeared from under his brows; at that moment the menaced battle is postponed.

“And yet I know that it must come,” says poor Clive, telling me the story as he hangs on my arm, and we pace through the Park. " The Colonel and I are walking on a mine, and that poor little wife of mine is perpetually flinging little shells to fire it. I sometimes wish it were blown up, and I were done for, Pen. I don't think my widow would break her heart about me. No; I have no right to say that; it's a shame to say that; she tries her very best to please me, poor little dear, It's the fault of my temper, perhaps, that she can't. But they neither understand me, don't you see? the Colonel can't help thinking I am a degraded being, because I am fond of painting. Still, dear old boy, he patronizes Ridley; a man of genius, whom those sentries ought to salute by Jove, sir, when he passes. Ridley patronized by an old officer of Indian dragoons, a little bit of a Rosey, and a fellow who is not fit to lay his palette for him! I want sometimes to ask J. J.'s pardon, after the Colonel has been talking to him in his confounded condescending way, uttering some awful bosh about the fine arts. Rosey follows him, and trips round J. J.’s studio, and pretends to admire, and says, 'How soft; how sweet!' recalling some of mammain-law's dreadful expressions, which make me shudder when I hear them. If my poor old father had a confidant into whose arm he could hook his own, and whom he could pester with his family griefs as I do you, the dear old boy would have his dreary story to tell too. I hate banks, bankers, Bundelcund, indigo, cotton, and the whole business. I go to that confounded board, and never hear one syllable that the fellows are talking about. I sit there because he wishes me to sit there; don't you think he sees that my heart is out of the business; that I would rather be at home in my painting-room? We don't understand each other, but we feel each other, as it were, by instinct. Each thinks in his own way, but knows what the other is thinking. We fight mute battles, don't you see? and our thoughts, though we don't express them, are perceptible to one another, and come out from our eyes, or pass out from us somehow, and meet, and fight, and strike, and wound."

. Of course Clive's confidant saw how sore and unhappy the poor fellow was, and commiserated his fatal but natural condition. The little ills of life are the hardest to bear, as we all very well know.

« AnteriorContinuar »