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great schools of gentility and politeness; in fine, as he always would have it, none but gentlemen were there, and none but gentlemen ought to be there. The doctrine of exclusiveism on all such matters he stoutly favoured, and for such he argued on what he conceived right principles ; he was indeed one of the old school, full of bigotry and prejudice, averse to innovation, because he hated things that were new, and had a foolish reverence for the past, which he always would have it was more to be venerated than the present. Preferment from merit he held to be vulgar and nonsensical, and fitted only for democratic states—thought it impossible for people of a lower grade, from any circumstances, to be eligible for an equality of privileges with those born above them. Such being the notions of Captain Spenser, it may easily be imagined how partial he was to services that placed positive demerit and ineligibility in command of real superiority. It was indeed likely that he should wish his son to enter the army. But that son had not yet finished his scholastic duties, and there was time for such considerations.
Three years more of academic discipline at length passed over. When at school he had ever been more signalised for pugilistic contests and frolicsome mischief than his mastery over Latin and Greek, yet it was allowed by common consent that he could have outstripped his compeers in study, as he did in all athletic pastimes, if he chose to do so. The power was there, but it remained unemployed. He delighted rather to be the Ajax of the schoolboy band than dux in his class. Long after his school days were over he would pleasingly revert to those halcyon times, and ever remember them with a sigh. He loved to wander again over the old haunts, and in fancy revisit the sunny scenes of earlier years; to think of forest walks--to roam through thicket shades that even in mid-day were said to be peopled by elves and sprites; and there was a joy once more
to paddle in the burn
When simmer days were fine! But now a profession had to be thought of, and the world was before him.
One morning Captain and Mrs. Spenser were seated in the little back room, whose glass-door opened into the shrubbery, and which apartment, from the fact of there being divers rusty volumes arranged on dusty shelves, was called the study; but this was a misnomer in the general acceptation of the term. In one corner stood a number of walking-sticks, with two or three superannuated fishing-rods. Over the old-fashioned fireplace was a gun-rack, on which lay Godfrey's fowlingpiece, and there, too, an old sword, which an ancestor had wielded in the wars of the Roses. His hunting-whip hung behind the door, and on some pegs a pair or two of rusty dog-couples. Two fox-brushes, the antlers of a stag, a stuffed badger, and other trophies of the chase, were arranged in conspicuous positions. An antiquated whist-table stood in the centre, which would have been indisputably improved by a fresh covering of green baize. The window-curtains painfully reminded the beholder of the numerous summer suns they had defended; and, indeed, the same air of shabby gentility pervaded this as every other part of that venerable hall. The only studies there ever carried on were such as were suggested by the newspaper, the Army List, or, more than all, when Godfrey studied how to liquidate urgent claims. I repeat, he and
Sept.-VOL. XCVI. NO. CCCLXXXI.
the partner of his cares were seated in the study, the former looking over the County Gazette, the latter silently engaged at her knitting, when the servant entered with a letter, the superscription of which was in a bold round hand.
“A letter from Alfred, Susan," said the father to Mrs. Spenser, as he broke the seal of the epistle, “to inform us of the vacation, I suppose," continued he; before he had noted the contents. “ Yes, it is so," first reading the half-dozen lines, then throwing the missive into Mrs. Spenser's lap.
Godfrey crossed his legs, wistfully looked at the fire, and after a few moments of reflective silence, asked of the mother if Alfred were seventeen or eighteen next birthday.
“ He will be eighteen, my dear, on the 25th of next month,” said Mrs. Spenser, throwing down her knitting, as if to consider a moment. “ Yes, I am right-eighteen next month.”
“ Be a man directly," replied the captain, as he shuffled in his chair, and drew closer to the fire, then taking up the poker, he, with military precision, aimed a mortal blow at a huge coal, which crumbled beneath his vigorous thrust-"yes, he'll be a man directly. He must enter the profession; my interest, my connexions, will get him in, I am sure.”
“ In the army, I suppose you mean, Godfrey, as you always extol the life of a soldier?"
“Oh, yes, of course, my love, I mean the army; to be sure I do. Besides, Susan, independent of its merits and recommendations as the profession of a gentleman, there are other advantages collateral interests: A dashing officer is courted in society; he has the chances of making a good bargain-he can marry well. Indeed, I have heard yourself declare that half the young ladies in Christendom are in love with the red coat. Alfred must have a person of property, and that's the long and short of it, or all my scheming and hopes are at an end. He is handsome, of good family, and every way eligible for making a good speculation. He must have one with a fortune; he must, indeed,” repeated Godfrey, as he re-crossed his legs, folded his arms, and then looked fixedly at the
“But, my dear Godfrey," said Mrs. Spenser, after a brief silence, “I never yet heard our son express his desires relative to a profession; and as regards to his matrimonial alliance, that time will not be yet, and in his case-I mean, with his independent spirit-it will be a matter of chance, perhaps, rather than prudence in choice. The unsettled life of a soldier is ill-suited for a wife and family. Alfred is a youth of strong passions, wayward, and of his own way of thinking, and depend upon it, if his affections should happen to become fixed, he would strive desperately for the object of his attachment. Love hearkens not to the reasoning of wisdom. Young folks in this are obstinate and determinate, when docile and obedient in all other matters. It often happens that the greater the pains taken to divert the current of an affection, the more powerful and impetuous it becomes. It is true that, so far, you have always had as a father the command of parental authority; but remember, a time comes when the youth grown to manhood considers himself emancipated from the trammels of authority; a time comes when he deems it his prerogative to think and act for himself. Alfred may be more easily drawn by a siken thread than forcibly brought to moorings by a cable.”
“ Susan," replied the captain, testily, “ you talk as all women do on all matters of importance-like a simpleton; like one who knows not the world; who has no notion of the expedients sometimes which must be had recourse to. As regards his entering the service, that I can manage; I can, I am convinced I can. He is made for the army, the very man for an officer's life, and he will win the heart of an heiress. His natural taste inclines towards a soldier's vocation. From infancy fond of dogs and horses, delights in field sports; at school he has fought his way like a young Hector, and these are the youths of England who are destined to defend her rights—who turn out men and heroes! So far as pertaineth to the hope which I cherish of a good match which I trust he'll make, how can you look only to the dark side? You are aware, Susan, ours is a take-all, bring-nothing family. Seven girls !” here he gave a sigh. 66 They will want much more than I can give them. It is true they are tolerably good-looking, and they are of the Spenser blood, which ought to be an efficient off-set against the lack of dowry. Besides, Susan, you are aware the estate is deeply mortgaged. If Alfred should not marry well, that evil day must come when Woodthorpe shall pass to other hands
-when the hall of my fathers, old as the hills, shall be another's. Amongst the higher classes (and we assuredly belong to that order) matches of expediency are got up every day, or how do you suppose the good old families and their estates would hang together?—otherwise the broad acres of many a fair domain would long ago have gone to ill-bred merchants; to a class whose only superiority consists in the heaps which niggardly parsimony and vulgar pursuits had accumulated. This expediency may, perhaps, be reckoned amongst some of the drawbacks which there are to mar the peace of upper life. It would be downright stolidity-madness, in fact-for a man of birth, one young, handsome, and courageous, and whose ancestors were renowned before the Plantagenets, to descend to having a portionless wife. It is all yery fine to talk about affection and such stuff in the hearing of school-girls. The great fact must present itself to every person of sense, that without a competency there is no happiness. To sigh and dream about pretty faces and such like nonsense, is ridiculous in a man of mind, and I am convinced, when Alfred grows up and knows something of his position and my affairs, he will have the prudence and resolve to act accordingly.”
In the delivery of these sentiments, Godfrey was not a little animated. He was painfully reminded of his financial position, and painfully reminded of those ills that must some day come upon his house, if the son, in his own language, did not act prudently. It wounded him to the quick when he contemplated such a melancholy wind-up as that of Spenser House becoming the home of one who did not bear his name. Mrs. Spenser was a person of correct principles and good understanding, yet not possessed of that penetration and depth which were such characteristics of her husband. She had more ingenuous goodness and less of his pride. Had the captain continued his profession, he would have been more likely to have risen from strategic scheming than from fearless courage. If he had seen the garrison could not easily be carried by storm, he would have held parley with the enemy, matured his plans, and gained conquest by artifice. Had he been possessed of power and high command, he was precisely the person to be imperious, overbearing, and haughty—to carry out those false notions of exclusiveism and prerogative of order with which his mind was so strongly imbued. The fates had decided otherwise, and his capabilities of exercising arbitrary influence were circumscribed, just as nature wills it that ferocious animals are less physically endowed than the more docile tribes. Mrs. Spenser wisely considered that avarice and vanity were evils which brought with them their often severe but certain corrections; she wisely deemed that humbler associations were more likely to be followed by happiness; consequently there was an opposition between the false notions of her husband and her own more unprejudiced reasonings, which not unfrequently gave rise to altercations that too often disturbed the repose of their domestic hearth.
“ You seein to suppose, Godfrey,” replied she, after a short silence" you seem to suppose that all our energies and desires ought to be directed towards the attainment of an exalted position; that in such consists our chief good. Happiness is not thus always to be found. Those matches of expediency, as you term them, are, in the majority of instances, matches of misery. Besides, the higher classes do not form the prototype of all that is to be observed; it is a mistake to look to their order for all that is estimable, or for the true enjoyments of life. It is a fact too broadly acknowledged, that with them there are, perhaps, some hidden anguish, some silent repining, and more inconstancy than in any other grade. An eminent senator very recently said, it was his opinion that there was more virtue amongst mechanics than peers! For my own part, I had rather see Alfred a happy than rich man; I had rather behold him contented in mediocrity than miserable in splendour. Never, I beseech you, exert an undue influence over him. It is your duty to kindly advise and patiently admonish, and offer such parental advice as a father's love would suggest. Were you to deceive him, his confidence would be for ever lost. You may be politic, not cunning; you might persuade, you could not force him.”
This strain of reasoning was ill-suited to Godfrey's plans; it was at variance with his projects. He could not deny the truth of what had been said, but truths are not always acceptable; they do not always dovetail with worldly scheming and worldly minds. He replied, by saying,
“ Well, well, my dear, what you have said is all very fine, and I dare say true; but you know, as well as I do, an unfortunate marriage would be a positive calamity to the family. It is fine talking—very, indeed!”
With these words he rose from his chair, and petulantly left the room.
F E M A L E N O V E LIST S.
No. V.-MRS. TROLLOPE. GOETHE complained that modern poets put too much water in their ink. Of many modern novel-wrights, we may similarly, or inversely, complain that they put too little ink in their water. No wonder, then, that the manuscript so soon becomes fade, colourless, illegible, and survives not the “ first reading.” Even a large piece of bullion will only supply a certain amount of gold-leaf, and cover a limited surface. Genius, too, has its boundaries. If it pass them, it must pay the penalty, and that is sometimes a heavy toll. Genius has no infinite mood. In trying to prove that it has, it becomes an irregular verb. Mrs. Trollope is one of those who, by over-writing, refuse to do themselves justice. At least, she writes too fast, and gives way too indulgently to the rash speed of her grey-goose quill, so that it sometimes, in the nature of things, leads her a wild-goose chase. Her gold-leaf is beaten too thin; her ink, though abounding in gall, is diluted with too much water. Not that we hold the impossibility of a prolific author being a great author, confronted as such a theory is by ancient and mediæval literature, belied as such an unwise saw is by so many modern instances. But there are cases in which the fecundity proves the weakness of the offspring, as well as the vigour of the parent. The talent is too widely diffused, instead of being wisely concentrated. Three or four of Mrs. Trollope's works are marked by a more terse and compact habit of thought, and show, by their superiority to the rest of the family, what she can produce when she likes. Assuredly this lady's industry and exuberance of invention entitle her to the proverbial name she enjoys, or endures, for prolific authorship. With Virgils rustic we may admiringly exclaim:
O quoties, et quæ nobis Galatea locuta est !* In vain have reviewers tried to keep up with her. A blue-stocking who travels in seven-leagued boots may well run critics and criticasters out of breath-she triumphantly ascending the hill Difficulty, as fresh as a daisy, while they wallow, and struggle, and give up the race (and almost the ghost) in the Slough of Despond. Pant and puff as they will to run her home, she is in a trice miles out of sight, over the hills and far away, and wondering what those sluggard lameters are doing in the rear. It was once suggested by Tom Moore, † as an expedient to keep pace with the celeritas incredibilis of certain literary Cæsars, that they should each have a reviewer appointed expressly, auprès de sa personne, to give the earliest intelligence of his movements, and do justice to his multifarious enterprises. But would one such officer suffice in the case of Mrs. Trollope? We trow not. Poor wight, he would “ strike” ere the first year was out; and his successor, however able-bodied and conscientious a manof-all-work, would find the accumulated arrears too much for him, protest that the place was too hard for him, and go off at a month's warning.
* Bucol. III., 72. * In his “ Edinburgh Review” of Lord Thurlow's Poems, September, 1814.