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DIGBY GRAND 


$it ^atnhimjnifba. 


BY 

G. J. WHYTE MELVILLE. 


IN TWO VOLUMES. 

VOL. II. 


LONDON: 

JOHN W. PARKER AND SON, WEST STRAND. 


MDCCCLIII. 


LONDON: 

SAVILL AND EDWARDS, PRINTERS, 
CHANDOS STREET. 


CONTENTS 


OF 

THE SECOND VOLUME. 


Chapter I. 

PAGE 

LIFE IN LONDON. 1 

Chapter II. 

THE FORTUNES OF A DANSEUSE.26 

Chapter III. 

RAISING THE WIND.43 

Chapter IV. 

CROXTON PARK.67 

Chapter V. 

DEEPER AND DEEPER STILL.87 

Chapter VI. 

STANDING TO WIN. ..,,..111 

Chapter VII. 

THE BOLD DRAGOON.132 










iv CONTENTS. 

Chapter YIII. page 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END. .156 

Chapter IX. 

WINDING UP.180 

Chapter X. 

THE OLD HOUSE AT HOME . ..204 

Chapter XI. 

THE SCENE SHIFTED.. 228 

Chapter XII. 

THE colonel’s DAUGHTER.250 

Chapter XIII. 

HASTE TO THE WEDDING.276 

Chapter XIV. 

SETTLED AT LAST ..294 









DIGBY GRAND. 


CHAPTER I. 

LIFE IN LONDON. 

JJHEKE seems to be a charm in life at the Uni¬ 
versity which, amongst all temperaments and all 
dispositions, extends its influence far into after-years, 
and the bright recollection of which smiles as the 
one green spot in many a cheerless destiny and dis¬ 
appointing career. Two old campaigners will suffi¬ 
ciently prose about their marchings and counter¬ 
marchings, their skirmishes, bivouacs, and general 
engagements. Two rural politicians will disagree 
for hours together upon the affairs of the nation, and 
insist volubly enough upon the arguments borrowed 
at second-hand from their respective morning papers. 
Farmers, fishermen, and fox-hunters, especially the 
latter, are extremely tiresome to an uninitiated 
listener, as they enter voluminously into the mys¬ 
teries of their several crafts; nor are the frequenters 
of Newmarket free from an ill-judged tendency to 
VOL. II. 


B 



2 


DIGBY GRAND. 


monopolize the conversation, unawed by the frowns 
of graver seniors, who deem all money-making prac¬ 
tices but their own a grievous sin, and undeterred 
by the suppressed yawns and weary glances of the 
ladies, who cannot be brought to interest themselves 
in the supposition that Plato is able to give Aristotle 
three pounds and a beating, or that Bustle's public 
running proves that singularly-named animal im¬ 
measurably inferior to Canezou. 

But much as all these eloquent gentlemen love to 
dwell upon their favourite topics, they are not to be 
compared with two old University chums, meeting 
after an interval of a few years, and living over again 
in memory the wild jollities and rapid escapades of 
manhood's morning time. At it they go—pell-mell 
—both together, without a moment's interval or ces¬ 
sation : how Brazenose bumped Oriel, and what the 
dean said concerning the desecration of Peckwater— 
what a ‘ good-plucked one' was Muffles of Trinity, 
and how he licked the bargeman, and rode over 
Tom Sebright—why Sapling should have been 
senior-wrangler, and how Muggins took a f double- 
first'—and what fun we had after f hall' in f my 
rooms,' and amongst f our own set of men . 3 All 
these recollections appear to revive with a freshness 
that Time is altogether unable to tarnish, and the 
admiring auditor who has not enjoyed the advantages 
of a University education, begins to think that his 
own youth has been most ingloriously wasted. 


AN UNDERGRADUATE. 


3 


No man can have had a larger store of these 
reminiscences than my old schoolfellow, Tom Spencer. 
With the fear of academical dons before my eyes, 
and a most exaggerated reverence for the legal 
powers of the University, I shall not specify the 
college to which my friend Tom belonged, but shall 
only mention that whatever opportunities were offered 
at Oxford for amusement, excitement, or instruction, 
he took advantage of them all. The sharp, intelli¬ 
gent boy at Eton had developed himself into the 
sound and cultivated scholar, whilst the winner of 
the Sculling Sweepstakes at the Brocas was the 
stanchest oar of that gallant crew which struggled 
annually with the Cambridge eight. Everything he 
undertook appeared to crown him with success. Not 
a Begius professor of them all could render a passage 
of Euripides into the nervous English that clothed 
Tom's poetic fancy and rich imagination, not a dare¬ 
devil undergraduate that would follow him out f lark¬ 
ing,' as he handed an Oxford hack over gate after 
gate for sheer amusement. Ever the first with the 
f drag-hounds,' and I fear not seldom the last at the 
wine-party, he would retire to the solitude of his 
own room after a brilliant day with the former suc¬ 
ceeded by a joyous gathering at the latter, and tying 
a wet towel round his head, he would devote the 
whole night to intense study, and after a couple of 
hours' repose towards morning, appear at chapel, 
fresh and ready to repeat the day's amusement and 

B 2 


4 


DIGBY GRAND. 


the night's occupation. More sleep than this he 
declared he never required, and except that he could 
always snatch half-an-hour's slumber at any dis¬ 
engaged period of the day, such a disposition of his 
time seemed to give him quite as much rest as his 
nature demanded. The dons of his college were 
very proud, as well they might be, of Tom's profi¬ 
ciency in scholarship, accompanied, and as I believe 
in their secret hearts they thought, enhanced as it 
was by so many lighter accomplishments, and several 
of my friend's enormities were winked at, and sundry 
breaches of discipline looked over, in consideration of 
the honour which he was one day expected to reflect 
upon the University. He was always a regular 
attendant at chapel, and this praiseworthy habit 
has ever been known to cover a multitude of sins; 
but upon one occasion when he had before him an 
unusually long ride to covert, having made arrange¬ 
ment for a day with a distant pack of hounds, Tom 
imprudently clad himself in his much-worn scarlet, 
as well as his top-boots and breeches, trusting that 
his gown would conceal the one as effectually as a 
pair of voluminous over-alls, made for the purpose, 
covered the other The service was short, and the 
morning dark and gloomy. Tom, who had pre¬ 
viously breakfasted, was, I fear, too deeply engrossed 
in his meditation as to whether his first eighteen 
miles, if done under the hour, was or was not too 
much for the hack, who would then be relieved by a 


A WORD FROM THE DON. 


5 


fellow-sufferer sent on for the purpose, to attend as 
he ought to have done under the sacred roof; but 
even he, impatient as he was, could not complain of 
any undue delay or unnecessary degree of formality 
in the chaplain who officiated. The gown had done 
its duty well, and the forbidden garment lurked 
beneath it unknown and unsuspected; but in his 
anxiety to be in time, as he was hurrying out of 
chapel he unfortunately took out his watch, and the 
acf of doing so unavoidably disclosed a stained and 
crimson chest, before the very eyes of the astonished 
dean, who at that moment, unknown to Tom, was 
close beside him. An immediate invitation to accom¬ 
pany the magnate towards his rooms was the conse¬ 
quence ; and thither, with another wistful glance at 
his timepiece, was the crest-fallen culprit compelled 
to follow. But ere the frowning portals closed upon 
them, the dean, with a good-natured sympathy for 
the manifest impatience of his companion, addressed 
him with his usual gentlemanlike courtesy of 
manner. 

f I will not detain you long, Mr. Spencer ; but I 
merely wish to inquire upon what principle you have 
presumed to enter chapel in a garment of that unbe¬ 
coming colour and character/ 

f This, sir V inquired the unabashed undergraduate, 
pointing to the crimson so stained by wet and mire 
as to be a near approach to black, c this is an old 
f Monten/ coat that I had at Eton, and sent to be 


6 


DIGBY GRAND. 


dyed, for economy; they could make nothing of it 
but a ‘ mulberry/ which, I agree with you, sir, is 
highly unbecoming to a fair man. I should have 
wished it a shade nearer black, but nimium ne crede 
colon’ 

The joke, the trite quotation, and the effrontery of 
the whole thing saved him, and the ' unbecoming mul- 
berry J was again that day in the front rank, as usual. 
But Tom might thank his habitual obedience to 
regulations and the general good character which he 
had maintained since his matriculation for bearing 
him harmless in a scrape which to others might have 
been fraught with serious consequences. 

Many a merry laugh rung across our snug break¬ 
fast-table in my comfortable lodgings, over such univer¬ 
sity anecdotes as these, and even the dean himself, 
in all his pomp and power and f pride of place/ might 
have been gratified could he have heard with what 
energy and goodwill he was voted a downright trump 
by my visitor and myself, for Tom Spencer was 
relaxing his mind and improving his worldly know¬ 
ledge, after his Oxford labours, by spending the 
winter vacation with me in London. It had been 
a long-promised visit when we were together at 
Haverley, and after my ill-advised disagreement with 
Sir Peregrine, it was a great comfort to me to have 
so old a friend with whom to talk over all my diffi¬ 
culties and disappointments, whose presence would 
counteract the depressing influence of a winter morn- 


MORNINGS AT HOME. 


7 


ing in the metropolis, so keenly felt by the solitary 
individual, for whom the other hours of the twenty- 
four teem with false and frivolous excitement, whilst to 
the visitor full of spirits, youth, and health, a month 
or six weeks spent within the Bills of Mortality was a 
realization of all that he considered most delightful. 

A well-matched pair we were, in thoughts, feelings, 
and habits, as after a very late breakfast we devoted 
our customary hour to smoking and gossip, for which 
the previous evening's amusements or pursuits fur¬ 
nished an inexhaustible theme. Perhaps a brother- 
officer or occasional visitor would drop in, with a 
good-humoured jest at our being still in our dressing- 
gowns and slippers, the only costume for lounging 
in real comfort, and sitting down to join in our 
fumigatory conclave, would add his quota to the 
scandal of the hour. People in London are much 
more sociable in the winter, as they are in better 
spirits and more readily amused; there is not that 
constant bustle, that restless anxiety to ' go and do 
something else/ that destroys the whole comfort of 
society in the season; and many a woman that you 
would vote f fine* or 'stupid' in July, many a man 
that in the dog-days you inconsiderately set down as 
e a puppy' or c a bore,' warms into kindliness with 
the blazing hearth of merry Christmas, and in the 
gloomy hours of dark December vindicates his or her 
character to the right of being designated a ' very 
charming person,' or a f devilish good fellow.' 


8 


DIGBY GRAND. 


When the pantomimes have fairly set in with the 
frost, when there is skating on the Serpentine, and 
the streets are dry and clean, when Melton and other 
hunting localities have sent up their different detach¬ 
ments of pleasure-seeking bachelors, when your own 
particular friends are sure to be ‘ at home* to your 
‘ morning/ or rather e afternoon* call, and you are 
not supposed to know that any of those f disagree¬ 
ables* are in town, on whom, at midsummer, you 
lavish pasteboard as a matter of duty; then it is that 
London, to my mind, combines all that is delightful 
in civilized life. You brace your nerves and promote 
your appetite by a brisk walk in the keen pure air of 
Kensington-gardens, w r here, if not a skater yourself, 
you watch with interest and wonder the gyrations 
and evolutions of those whose 1 winged heels* bear 
them swiftly and smoothly as the swallow on her 
noiseless pinions, and you determine that next 
winter, if there should be a lasting frost, you will 
really buy a pair of skates and begin. The per¬ 
formers seem so thoroughly to enjoy their occupation, 
the bystanders, with sparkling eyes and eager coun¬ 
tenances, seem to take so much interest in the sport, 
everyone looks so good-humoured and amused, that 
you can hardly believe these are the same Kensington- 
gardens, this is the same English people, that 
surrounded you last May in an east wind, when 
weary glances, listless gestures, and suppressed 
yawns were paying their tribute of feigned admira- 


THE PARK IN WINTER. 


9 


tion to the band of Her Majesty’s 1st or 2nd 
regiment of Life Guards, kindly lent by the sovereign 
for the delectation of her lieges. The early twilight 
approaches with a crimson hue, that promises a long 
continuance of the cold weather, and if oats are at 
thirty shillings a quarter, and you have no horses, 
you congratulate yourself internally on your prudence, 
as you step briskly homewards by the margin of the 
frozen waters, and contrast the merry stream of 
pedestrians that now throng the ring, with the endless 
string of carriages f dragging its slow length along’ 
that endangered your hack, and covered yourself 
with dust, the day before you started for Goodwood 
races. Then the very dandies looked haggard, worn, 
and fagged; the ladies pale, listless, and dejected; 
whilst one and all complained of heat, and glare, 
and fatigue. Now the little face that peeps from 
out that mass of fur is rosy as the morning sky; 
what though the chiselled Grecian nose may be 
tipped with a faint tinge of pink, contrary to the 
established rules of colouring, those sparkling eyes 
and that elastic step may well make amends for any 
such trifling liberty on the part of John Frost, and 
as she moves briskly onwards by the side of her 
whiskered companion, twice the man he was in June, 
you catch a glimpse of the taper ancle and arched 
instep that bear her so jauntily along, and ponder 
deeply in your own mind, whether any costume yet 
invented by the daughters of Eve can be so becoming 


10 


DIGBY GRAND. 


as a winter toilette. Such a stroll by the Serpentine, 
such a lounge in Kensington-gardens, was the constant 
afternoon occupation of Tom Spencer and myself, 
though our morning engagements sometimes made it 
nearly dark ere we sallied forth for our daily walk. 
Tom was, like myself, a patron of all athletic sports 
and exercises, nor was the accomplished Oxonian any 
mean proficient with f the gloves/ ‘ Mr. Spencer is 
a very hard hitter/ said our instructor, the f Chelsea 
Champion/ after a severe bout in my rooms, of which 
the breathless professional had decidedly the worst. 
f What a pity he should have been born a gentleman ! 
he might have made a very honest livelihood in the 
Ring/—and as the morning in question afforded a 
fair specimen of our usual mode of life, I maybe allowed 
to describe the scene as an illustration of the way in 
which the earlier part of his day is spent by a young 
gentleman loose in London. The first floor of a 
moderately-sized house, not very far from Hyde- 
park—that being, in consideration of his military 
duties, the most convenient neighbourhood for a 
guardsman—offered me ample accommodation in a 
suite of four comfortable rooms, one of which was 
now devoted to the service of my visitor. Folding- 
doors shut out the dormitories, and gave an air of 
snug privacy to the two sitting-rooms in which our 
mornings were spent. The one tolerably cleared of 
furniture afforded a space wherein were often waged 
such trials of strength and skill as those in which 


BACHELOR S HALL. 


11 


the Chelsea Champion had now been worsted; whilst 
in the other, every description of appliance for ease 
and luxury was crowded in lavish profusion. A 
print of f Bolton Abbey in the olden time/ that 
composition of all others most suggestive of feudal 
habits, and the ancient field-sports of merry England, 
occupied the place of honour over my chimney-piece. 
Two more of Landseer’s exquisite designs,—the stag 
challenging his approaching foe in the frosty moon¬ 
light, and the calm peaceful ‘ Sanctuary/ at which 
the exhausted hart has just arrived, with tottering 
limbs and dripping sides, flanked the more majestic 
print of the chivalrous-looking abbot and his welcome 
visitors. A spirited sketch of f Rivolte / by a French 
artist, held an equally prominent position with a 
portrait by Herring of the winner of last yearns 
Derby, and a series of f moving accidents by flood 
and field/ greeted the sportsman’s eye, with Aiken’s 
inimitable touches. ‘ The Dying Gladiator/ dying 
again in burnished bronze, as still he lives and dies 
in Byron’s immortal lines, was the most valued of 
all the works of art I possessed; and on the pedestal 
that supported his god-like figure, relaxing, drooping, 
failing, but all unconquered still, were inscribed 
those glorious stanzas that will survive even the 
mighty creation of the sculptor’s art. In a niche 
above him, stood a cast of Joan of Arc, clasping her 
cross-handled sword to her bosom, and looking 
intently forward, with a holy fervour beaming on 


12 


DIGBY GRAND. 


that calm virgin-face. Stags* heads and horns, 
curious skins, and strange fantastic weapons, filled 
the intervening spaces on my motley walls; whilst 
couch, footstool, and ottoman, ‘ chaise longue/ f prie- 
dieu/ and American rocking-chair, crowded the room 
itself with every possible temptation to sit down and 
talk. Three unpaid hills, a pair of white gloves, a 
cigar-case, and an opera-glass, shared the writing- 
table with a broken foil, some new music, and a 
portfolio of caricatures, scattered in every direction; 
whilst a watch unwound, coiled in its serpent-like 
chain, reposed upon the chimney-piece. The room 
was, in short, what ladies call ‘ untidy/ which every 
bachelor knows to mean the essence of comfort; and 
on a low table with snowy cloth, a beautiful service 
of China, and richly-chased tea-pot, cream-jug, &c., 
did no dishonour to the remains of a capital break¬ 
fast, which appeared, judging by the debris of the 
action, to have been thoroughly appreciated. The 
proprietor of the caravanserai, for such, as regarded 
the free and easy manner in which its visitors came 
and went, it might justly be called, was lying on a 
sofa, attired in morning-gown and slippers, inhaling 
composure from Cavendish tobacco, through a cherry- 
stick nearly six feet long, and encouraging, with 
voice and action, the struggles going on in the ad¬ 
joining apartment, where Tom Spencer, stripped to 
his shirt and a pair of extremely gaudy and Turkish- 
looking inexpressibles, was pounding away for his 


A QUIET PARTY. 


13 


life at the Chelsea Champion, a short, square, ill- 
favoured individual, who looked as if nothing could 
ever knock him down. Tom was the larger and 
longer man, and as he hit out with the rapidity of 
lightning, and moved from place to place with the 
graceful activity of a young Apollo, it was evident 
that he gave the professor quite enough to do to 
hold his own with so energetic an amateur. The 
champion glared, and puffed, and gasped, and dodged, 
now here, now there, putting in play all the different 
manceuvres of the ring, which the initiated call 
f moves/ and occasionally getting in a sounding 
thwack on Tom's ribs, generally returned by the 
young one with electric quickness on the champion's 
unprepossessing physiognomy, a more noisy rally 
than usual being invariably followed by a vigorous 
application to a certain pewter-pot, which seemed to 
afford the combatants much consolation and refresh¬ 
ment. Hillingdon, with his hat on and his usual 
quiet smile impressed on those more than usually 
haggard features, was busily employed in sketching 
my Joan of Arc in chalks, a pursuit of which he was 
enthusiastically fond; and as he sat there, with his 
pale handsome face looking upward towards the 
sweet sad countenance of the Maid of Orleans, I 
could not help being struck with the resemblance 
between the copyist and the cast he was studying,— 
the unearthly expression, that threw a shade as of 
coming evil over my friends brow, and the air of 


14 


DIGBY GRAND. 


lofty resignation which seemed to anticipate the 
destiny of the ill-fated heroine. Jack Lavish, on 
whose well-curled head care had never presumed to 
sit, who through good and ill-fortune, losses, reverses, 
and annoyances of every description, still showed his 
white teeth, with his own good-humoured smile,— 
still twirled his dark mustachoes, and curled his 
ambrosial whiskers, as though whilst these treasures 
were left him, fate might do her wickedest—Jack, of 
whom his bitterest foe had never yet found aught to 
say worse than that, like Poins, he was ‘ a second 
brother and a proper fellow of his hands/ whom all 
the ladies voted so ‘ good-looking/ and of whom the 
severest of that cynical sex only added, f it was a 
pity he should be such a goose/ a mode of praise the 
gentle creatures sometimes adopt, even when discuss¬ 
ing their greatest favourites—Jack completed our 
party, and between the puffs of his cigar, imparted 
to us the important intelligence that he was going 
to be married, and disclosed the series of manoeuvres, 
and the highly successful strategy by which he had 
secured the hand of the wealthy heiress to whom he 
was now affianced. 

‘ One must stop somewhere/ said Jack, 1 and I was 
getting tired of Melton and the shires, localities in 
which the glorious system of credit, the main-stay of 
our commercial country, has in my case been stretched 
a little too far; so having won a fairish stake at 
Goodwood, and being thrown over by St. Heliers in 


A GENTLEMAN AT LARGE. 


15 


a yachting cruise, I determined upon a course I have 
so often heard recommended to each other by the 
little boys in the street, and made up my mind to 
f go to Bath/ Ever been at Bath, Digby V 

‘ Not 1/ was the reply; f and never wish to go/ 
f No place like it for getting into condition/ said 
Jack. f I mean to stay there for a week every year 
before I go to the Highlands. It is exactly like 
living on a flight of steps. I can hardly walk along 
Pall-mall now—I tire so dreadfully over the flat. 
However, it was severe at first, but like the tread¬ 
mill, and everything else of the kind, one soon gets 
used to it. Well, to Bath I went, with a thorough¬ 
bred hack of my brother's, and three horses from 
Tilbury; and the very first morning I arrived there 
I saw a flaming paragraph in the Bath Patriarch 
and Somersetshire Flying Express, to the effect that 
* the numerous and valuable stud of the Hon. Captain 
Lavish has reached our now sporting locality. This 
distinguished and popular millionaire! (think of that, 
you fellows without a rap !) is expected shortly to 
follow, as the avant-courier of a host of fashionables 
about to winter in our genial and health-restoring 
climate/ Well, I thought, if three screws and a 
pony are a valuable stud, and I, Jack Lavish, am a 
millionaire, there may be hopes for me yet; and 
accordingly, I got myself up with more than usual 
care; and as I swaggered down Milsom-street in 
gorgeous apparel, I laid out the plan of my future 


16 


DIGBY GRAND. 


campaign. This was only towards the close of Octo¬ 
ber ; and lo ! in two short months, my enterprising 
venture and spirited outlay has been crowned with 
success. In the first place, rather than not have 
two hunters out every day, I determined to limit my 
hunting to twice a-week; and a second horse being 
an unheard-of luxury in these benighted regions, I 
was respected accordingly. The next step was to 
hire a sober-looking dark- green drag, picked out with 
blue, and very heavy, which always looks wealthy. 
Into this I put the three Tilburies when not other¬ 
wise engaged, and my brother’s hack, who did 
not relish the amusement at all. I made my 
valet attire himself in boots and breeches, and a 
dark-grey frock—an arrangement at which he kicked 
considerably when it was first suggested to him; 
but the reflection that I took him as a boy out of a 
racing stable, and the recollection of how unmerci¬ 
fully I used to whop him when first he came to me, 
served to overcome his scruples, and I had thus a 
very creditable team, with two respectable lookiug 
servants attached to it. I never could follow out 
the train of reasoning that leads to such a conclusion, 
but I have always remarked that when a man drives 
four-in-hand, he is immediately considered to possess 
ten thousand a-year ; and I had hardly worn out one 
silk whip-lash before I found myself caressed and 
feted amongst all the best society in Bath. Rich, 
unmarried, and so good-looking (you may laugh, but I 


FORTUNE-HUNTING. 


17 


give you my honour, I was very good looking, for 
Bath,) Captain Lavish was a trump card wherever 
he went, and I had my choice of several unhealthy 
widows with comfortable fortunes, and a tough old 
maid or two with a small independence of her own. 
You know the old adage, that what will hook a 
trout will hook a salmon—though I fear good Isaac 
Walton would hardly hear out the theory—and on 
that principle I resolved to enter for the great race, 
and see whether I could not carry off Miss Gold- 
thred, the rich heiress, from a host of competitors. 
I soon became acquainted with Alderman Goldthred, 
her uncle and guardian, likewise a most respectable 
man, which means in the city a person of undoubted 
wealth; and I cemented my acquaintance with him 
by a capital dinner, to which I invited him at the 
York House. We were tete-a-tete , and with turtle 
from Bristol, and champagne from Crockford’s sent 
down on purpose, you may suppose that I did what 
I could to make him comfortable. I like to drink a 
fair share of claret after dinner, as you know—I think 
it promotes digestion, and in short, it suits my 
arrangements. I have found few men who, as the 
evening waned, became so thirsty in proportion to 
the approach of midnight, a peculiarity which I have 
remarked in my own organization, and which I 
shared with the worthy Alderman. Bottle after bottle 
came and went, and still the civic dignitary sat, and 
conducted himself with becoming stateliness and 
YOL. II. 


C 


18 


DIGBY GKAND. 


‘ propriety/ Claret was evidently of no use, but 
wbat its gentle influence had begun some curious 
Maraschino and one of my long regalia cigars, a 
blackish one, finished. The Alderman tottered, his 
eye wandered, and he moved uneasily on his chair. 
One more glass of the liqueur, one more thick, full 
flavoured weed, and I saw my respectable guest home, 
and deposited him on his own couch with a caution 
and tenderness that entailed his everlasting grati¬ 
tude. From that day Alderman Goldthred voted 
me the best fellow of his acquaintance, and contrast¬ 
ing the charitable care which I took of him, as in duty 
bound after promoting his downfall, with the treat¬ 
ment he had once before experienced from some con¬ 
vivial companions of stronger brains, who had amused 
themselves considerably at his expense when under 
the influence of stimulants, and finished by shaving 
his honest head, decided that I had conferred upon 
him a favour of the greatest magnitude. 

‘ After this, I dined with him three times a week, 
and had every opportunity of ingratiating myself 
with Clementina, his niece and ward, a lady of great 
personal property and attractions, to w T hom I am now 
going to be married; there was one difficulty, how¬ 
ever, which for a time appeared to me insuperable, 
and this was that Clemmy, though a nice girl, gene¬ 
rally well-dressed, and not bad-looking, was undoubt¬ 
edly blue, and to my horror I constantly heard her 
remark that she adored talent , that was the word, 


A CLEVER FELLOW. 


19 


beyond everything, and vow that stupidity in a man 
was the only thing with which she had no patience/ 

‘Rather a ‘facer* for you, Jack/ said I, ‘as you 
never were much of a book-worm, though you might 
have called upon several Israelites and other monied 
men to prove that you can write your own name/ 

‘Besides/ added Hillingdon, looking up from his 
Joan of Arc, now rapidly growing into beauty, ‘bar 
spelling, nobody writes a better letter than Jack: 
witness the invitations he constantly sends me to 
dine at mess/ 

‘ That was exactly the difficulty/ said our good- 
humoured friend, not the least affronted at our strictures 
upon his capabilities. ‘ If I had had the advantage 
of a good education, like that young bruiser in the 
next room; if I could play whist and billiards like 
Digby, or sketch gothic arches, and string rhymes to 
a grasshopper, like yourself, Hillingdon, I should 
not be afraid of any amount of learning in a lady— 
no, not even if she was to write a book ! But these 
are not my accomplishments, and except that I cut 
out all the patterns for my own coats, and know how 
to put four horses together, I think, in other respects, 
I can hardly call myself exactly clever. Well, I soon 
found that Miss Goldthred admired my mustachoes, 
did not object to my society, and rather preferred 
dancing with me to being whisked about by any of 
her other danglers—by the way, the Bath swells are 
wretchedly bad goers—but still we never got any 

c 2 


20 


DIGBY GRAND. 


further; it was evident she had not made up her 
mind as to whether I was clever, and if I could but 
establish that point, I saw my way clearly. There 
was nothing for it but to take up some particular 
line, and the less she knew about the subject in 
which I was to appear a proficient, the better my 
chance of success. I thought of botany, conchology, 
moral philosophy, the latter, I believe, very easily 
acquired, but unfortunately Clemmy had a smatter¬ 
ing of all these sciences, till in a lucky moment I 
hit upon politics, and that was the very thing— 
ladies never understand politics—and I became forth¬ 
with an embryo statesman. Like all fellows who 
live much in society I know most of the leading 
men pretty intimately, and it is astonishing what an 
effect the familiar mention of such mem’s names, and 
an anecdote or two of their private lives and per¬ 
sonal histories will have with people who are not be¬ 
hind the scenes. Many of such little bits of gossip 
I had of course at my finger’s ends, whilst on all 
the great questions I preserved a discreet and omi¬ 
nous silence. If I was induced to give an opinion it 
was delivered oracularly, and invariably wound up 
with the expression of my conviction that w r e were 
f on the eve of a great crisis/ When a man is so 
prophetically solemn as that, it would appear almost 
profane to cross-examine him, and f the great crisis^ 
bore me triumphantly through many a tough and 
tangled argument. It succeeded admirably. Clem- 


A READY-MADE POLITICIAN. 


21 


my, once under the impression that I was fit to he 
prime minister of England, became sufficiently at¬ 
tached to me to give herself, her hand, and all her 
worldly goods to the penniless younger brother, whose 
only fortune was his future position in the senate; 
whilst the alderman swears by me, as a man of 
sense and discretion, with great mental powers, veiled 
under a placid exterior. 

f ' A far-seeing young man, that Captain Lavish/ 
he has been heard to say, ' of a deep-thinking and 
reflective turn of mind; none of your talkers, sir, 
but a man who listens to reason; not brilliant, but 
sound and safe, and entirely to be depended upon/ 9 
And with this satisfactory conclusion to his recital, 
Jack threw away the end of his cigar, arranged his 
hat and neckcloth in the glass, and took himself off 
for what he called afternoon parade, to attend upon 
his ladye-love. 

'Poor Jack/ said Hillingdon, as the door closed 
upon our good-humoured Benedict. 'Now, do you 
not consider, Digby, that he has sold himself? It 
is quite impossible that a man who has lived, as he 
has, amongst the highest born and fairest of the 
land, can care for this vulgar city heiress to whom 
he is to be tied for life, in one short fortnight from 
this time/ 

' Probably not/ said I. ' But what would you 
have him do? Lavish has nothing in this world 
but ten thousand pounds of debt, and had he not 


22 


DIGBY GRAND. 


married a woman with money, a very few weeks 
would have seen our friend outlawed, insolvent, and 
in all probability imprisoned/ 

‘ And what of that ?' rejoined Hillingdon, with 
glowing cheek, and sparkling eye. ‘What if he 
were ? A thousand times better to linger out one's 
life, even in the constraint and wretchedness of a 
debtor's cell, than to endure the galling misery, the 
eternal slavery of a marriage for money. Day after 
day, year after year, never to be free from the 
oppressive presence of the loathed object—and loathe 
her I should, however undeservedly, had I married 
her on such terms, and for such a cause. Like the 
dead corpse chained to the living man, so would her 
presence blunt my energies, and dull my faculties, 
conscious but of the load which unceasingly oppressed 
them. And suppose he should love another,' added 
the enthusiast, whilst his eye dilated with an expres¬ 
sion which in these moments of excitement had 
often given me painful forebodings. e Supposing two 
spirits should be doomed to misery by this accursed 
craving for luxury and wealth, because the one—the 
man—that should be the most vigorous and self- 
denying of the two, cannot resist the temptation of 
wearing out a few more short years in the career of 
frivolity to which he has accustomed himself, till the 
silken fetters have grown strong and heavy as an 
iron chain. What an unnatural state has this world 
arrived at, when such unholy alliances are made 


A GOOD MATCH. 


23 


every day, and called ? forsooth, marriages of neces¬ 
sity—when half the men we know are driven, by 
their previous habits and the false position in which 
they find themselves placed, to close what I must of 
necessity call a career of dishonesty, by such a 
crowning disgrace as the deliberate prostitution of 
the heart. You know my conviction of the eternity 
of marriages. You know my belief in the commu¬ 
nion we are sometimes permitted to hold with the 
other world, and it will not surprise you, Digby, to 
hear me declare, that rather than be guilty of the 
baseness which Lavish is about to commit, and of 
which he and the men amongst whom we live think 
so lightly, I would beg my bread barefoot from door 
to door. Rather than be faithless in word or deed 
to my spirit-love, I w r ould seek her in those regions 
to which my own death alone could give me access/ 
As Hillingdon ceased, his wasted features glowing 
with the energy of his feelings, and his form dilating 
as he touched upon the subject of death—a subject 
which to him always appeared fraught with interest 
and excitement, not unmingled with triumph, I 
could not help acknowledging to myself the truth of 
the well-known line, 

Great wits to madness often are allied, 

as I reflected that the sentiments thus expressed by 
my gifted friend, would by the mass of his fellow- 
creatures, the every-day denizens of this practical 


24 


DIGBY GRAND. 


world, be considered but as tlie workings of an 
over-excited imagination, the vagaries of a diseased 
mind. 

Like Hamlet, poor Hillingdon w T as one whose 
nobility of sentiment, and acuteness of feelings, ill 
fitted him to mingle with beings formed of grosser clay. 
The ideal was to him what the real is to the rest of 
mankind; and such a temperament, undirected by 
the mild and steady light of true religion, unschooled 
in the harsh but wholesome training of necessity, 
was but too prone to lose itself in the dreamy phan¬ 
tasies and vague conceptions of mysticism and super¬ 
stition. 

With varied talents of no common order, with a 
memory enriched with all of good and great that 
history has emblazoned on her undying page for the 
guidance and the emulation of unborn ages, with a 
gallant heart that danger or difficulty might strive 
in vain to daunt or overcome, and nerves which, 
though cased in no iron frame, were yet not to be 
shaken by the direst catastrophe, I could not help 
thinking, when Hillingdon left my rooms that morn¬ 
ing, what materials for a hero were in him, spoilt 
and wasted by the accidental preponderance of a too 
susceptible imagination. Poor Hillingdon ! how few 
amongst the associates who were charmed by his 
manners and delighted with his wit, to whom he was 
but the pleasant acquisition, the jovial companion— 
how few knew aught of his character, beyond his 


THE VISIONARY. 


25 


every-day power of making him self agreeable, or 
troubled themselves to look below that polished sur¬ 
face, and calm, self-possessed exterior? I believe 
none knew him as well as I did: to none had he 
opened his heart so freely, or disclosed his sentiments 
so entirely, as to myself; and none, despite the dif¬ 
ference of our characters, the directly opposite views 
that we entertained upon many important subjects, 
could admire him more or love him half so well; 
and yet, although not generally given to forebodings 
of evil, I always felt conscious that I valued his 
society as a thing of which I should too soon be 
deprived. There was a melancholy charm in our 
intimacy, enhanced by the presentiment that it would 
not last long, although I was in mercy spared the 
anticipation of its too horrible conclusion. 


26 


CHAPTER II. 

THE FORTUNES OF A DANSEUSE. 

rjpHE short days of December were now drawing 
to so early a close, that it was usually twilight 
before I found myself dressed for the morning, and 
sallying forth for a breath of fresh air in the park, 
or an hour’s gossip at the clubs. One afternoon, as 
I was wending my way leisurely down to the latter 
rendezvous of the ‘ great unemployed/ I was startled 
by the peculiar carriage and graceful springy step 
of a muffled-up female figure a few yards in ad¬ 
vance of me, whose gait and manner, as she came 
into the light of one lamp after another, (for the gas 
was already on duty), appeared more and more fami¬ 
liar to my recollection. Can it be ? no—’tis impos¬ 
sible at this time of year. Besides, she is in Russia. 
But there never was anything so like Coralie. And 
quickening my pace, merely to ascertain, by looking 
under the close little bonnet, that it was not the 
dancer, I found myself seized by both hands, with a 
most cordial and affectionate greeting, which I could 
hardly return with sufficient warmth, in my surprise 


AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 


27 


at Mdlle. De Rivolte's unexpected appearance in 
London during December. 

‘ You will come with me to my hotel—I shall 
present you to mon cousin —you will dine with us, 
mon cher Digby—I go away in two days/ exclaimed 
the voluble lady, whose delight at again seeing me 
was however sufficiently gratifying to induce me to 
accept her invitation, and send an excuse to old 
Burgonet, with whom I was engaged to dine, on the 
plea that I was on duty ; nor had I cause to regret 
my duplicity in thus throwing over the venerable 
General, for at a pleasanter party than discussed a 
perfect little dinner at Coralie's hotel, I have seldom 
had the luck to be present. There was no one but 
the fair dancer, her cousin, and myself. But the 
way we discussed by-gone jests, new scandal and old 
times (of last season), would have furnished mirth 
and matter for a dozen of the regular dull banquets 
which single men attend so perseveringly for their 
sins. Coralie had an off-hand way of taking up and 
dropping her adorers, just as it suited her own con¬ 
venience and caprice, and without the slightest refer¬ 
ence to their inclination, which was as amusing as it 
was unaccountable, and I now found myself on the 
footing of an old and valued friend, but nothing more; 
this, under existing circumstances, jumped with my 
humour far better than affecting a regard I did not 
feel, and put me completely at my ease in the society 
of my ci-devant flame. 


28 


DIGBY GRAND. 


Mon cousin was a delightful fellow, and whatever 
might have been his real relationship, acted the part 
of chaperon and collateral to admiration. He was 
connected in some way with the opera at St. Peters¬ 
burg, and his anecdotes of that highly-favoured 
institution, and its illustrious patron, were, as may 
be supposed, neither tame nor uninteresting. He 
was a thorough Frenchman, and entered into every¬ 
thing with a spirit and jouissance only possessed by 
that mercurial nation. We dined, we talked, we 
laughed, we made the most of the present, for my 
two companions were to return almost immediately 
to Russia, and London, usually voted so triste , was 
delightful in comparison as being so much nearer 
Paris. We sent for a box at the French play, 
we criticized the audience, and quizzed the per¬ 
formers. We returned to the hotel to supper, where 
we again eat, drank, laughed, and talked as though 
dinner was completely forgotten; and towards two 
o’clock in the morning, after Coralie had retired, mon 
cousin, whether or not instructed to that effect I 
cannot tell, disclosed to me over a cigar the eventful 
career and singular history of the famous dancer. 
Coralie’s mother, it appears, was a Spaniard by birth, 
married to an English officer, of whom she was 
frantically jealous. Having reason to suppose that 
her husband was more attentive than he should be 
to a younger sister of her own—for hers was a family 
in which beauty was as hereditary as the strong 
passions which made it a curse—she concealed 


SPANISH BLOOD. 


29 


herself near the spot where they were accustomed to 
meet, and without waiting for ocular demonstration 
of her suspicions, rushed upon the astonished pair, 
and stabbed the ill-fated girl to the heart. Report 
adds that nothing but the husband’s superior strength 
saved him from the same fate. In any other country 
but the wild district of Catalonia, in which this 
tragedy took place, justice must have overtaken the 
murderess, but the unsettled state of the frontier, 
and the exertions of her friends, enabled her to 
escape into France, accompanied by her little girl, 
the child of that husband whom she was never to 
see more. What added to the horror of the story, 
my informant went on to state, was the fact that the 
husband was passionately attached to his wife, whose 
jealousy was totally unfounded, and caused by the 
friendly interest taken by the Englishman in a love 
affair, concerning which his unprotected sister-in-law 
sought his advice and assistance. My informant, 
however, knew but little more of the fierce donna’s 
antecedents, and his acquaintance with her person 
and character only dated from her second marriage 
with Monsieur De RAvolte, a relation, as he said, of 
his own. Friendless and unprotected in the French 
capital, never expecting to hear more of her out¬ 
raged and indignant husband, bearing along with her 
the heavy curse of Cain at her heart, the Spaniard 
was too glad to avail herself of a legitimate protector, 
under whose roof she might shelter her own head 
and that of her friendless little girl. De Rivolte 


30 


DIGBY GRAND. 


took a great fancy to the child, who went by his own 
name, and whose fascinating manners and infantine 
beauty were not lost upon her old step-father, as, 
being a Frenchman, he was of course a man of taste. 

It was fortunate for little Coralie that she thus 
wound herself round his heart, for a very short 
period deprived her of a mother, amongst whose 
faults, many and great as they were, want of affection 
could not be numbered. After the death of his 
Spanish wife, old De Bivolte appeared more than 
ever wrapped up in her daughter, and all the 
advantages of masters and education which Paris 
could boast were lavished upon the graceful and 
charming little girl. As she grew up, the faultless 
symmetry of her form, the wondrous ease and smooth¬ 
ness of her motions, made it apparent that she had 
but to go upon the stage to become the first dancer 
in the first dancing city in the world. De Bivolte, 
however, who had himself been concerned in thea¬ 
trical pursuits, would not hear of such an arrange¬ 
ment, and had he lived, and his affairs remained 
prosperous, Coralie might have gained a comfortable 
and respectable establishment in exchange for a 
brilliant though not unspotted fame, whilst the opera 
would have lost a sylphide airy as the creation of a 
poet’s dream—glorious as the brightest conception 
of the painters brain. But old De Bivolte was a 
politician and a gourmand, pursuits which separately 
may be considered apt to shorten life, but, when 


A POLITICAL GOUBMAND. 


31 


united in the same individual, are so antagonistic in 
their tendencies as speedily to undermine the most 
robust constitution. The repose absolutely essential 
to health after a gastronomic triumph of seven 
courses and a dessert, being broken in upon by the 
unwelcome intelligence that he was in a list of 
'proscribed* for conspiracy against the government, 
produced an attack of apoplexy, which carried off the 
well-fed republican in six hours, leaving his affairs in 
a state of confusion, which imposed upon his young 
heiress the absolute necessity of doing something for 
her livelihood. And here it was that the proud 
independence and hereditary spirit of the Anglo- 
Spanish maiden showed themselves undamped by the 
disheartening position of an unprotected girl of 
seventeen. Alone she stood, that young slight thing, 
exposed to danger and temptation, annoyance and 
importunity of every description; alone, but 'firm as 
the rock of the ocean, which stems a thousand wild 
waves on the shore/ and from the rebuff with which 
she discomfited a presuming dandy, to the bargain 
which she made with an exacting manager, she proved 
herself capable of confronting all the ills and perils 
of her position with no assistance save her own high 
courage and ready wit. Enough had been saved 
from the wreck of old De Rivolte’s property to 
furnish a competence, which relieved her from the 
fear of actual starvation, and this gave her confidence 
to refuse the first very insufficient offers which were 


32 


DIGBY GRAND. 


made to tempt her appearance on the stage. The 
self-relying girl stood out firmly until a liberal and 
adequate remuneration was proposed, and then with 
a proud step and undaunted brow made her first 
appearance before those footlights that have witnessed 
the debut of so many a quailing heart. It is needless 
to say that this first appearance was a triumph— 
nay, an absolute fureur. The good Parisians, albeit 
critical and discriminating in their perceptions, do 
not give their approbation by halves, and the new 
danseuse, De Kivolte, was in every one’s mouth. 
She was charmante —she was magnifique —she was a 
genie colossal —she was everything to which a par 
exemple could be added; and whilst print-shops 
teemed with her likeness, and itinerant statuaries 
staggered under her image, the ladies clad themselves 
in flowing toilettes De Rivolte, and the dandies courted 
strangulation in gorgeous cravattes a la Coralie. Like 
Byron, she literally 1 woke one fine morning and 
found herself famous f nor did the reputation which 
she had acquired as a dancer suffer any diminution 
amongst those circles of clever people to which she 
immediately found herself admitted, from that lack 
of intellect which is too often concealed by so fault¬ 
less a form. On the contrary, those whose eyes had 
already been dazzled by the bounding ‘ Sylphide’ 
soon found their hearts in danger of being captivated 
by the fascinating countenance, and their imagina¬ 
tions enthralled by the sparkling wit of the famous 


A VIXEN. 


33 


Coralie; and many a good offer of marriage was 
refused, many a splendid proposal scouted by her 
whom all seemed to vie with each other in striving 
to win and wear. Her energetic reply to an over¬ 
pressing suitor, who suffered his ardour somewhat to 
outstep his delicacy, will long be remembered by 
those who witnessed the insult and its summary 
chastisement. Snatching a heavy riding-whip from 
the hand of one of his companions, she struck her 
persecutor a blow across the face which raised a 
wheal that snowy arm could hardly have been sup¬ 
posed capable of inflicting, and drawing her stately 
form to its utmost height, whilst her nostril dilated 
with fury, and her eye flashed with fire, she shook 
the weapon in his face, as if threatening a repetition 
of the punishment, and thus addressed him:— 

f You think, because I am a girl, and unprotected, 
that you are safe; but repeat this insult if you dare, 
and I will show you that a Spanish lady needs no 
champion but her own courage! I will summon 
you to the Bois de Boulogne at ten paces with the 
pistol, and should you refuse to meet me, I will post 
you in society and at your clubs as a bully, a coward, 
and a dishonoured man V 

It is needless to say that the advances henceforth 
made to Mdlle. De Bivolte were couched in the most 
cautious language, and carried on in the most 
decorous manner. Nevertheless, fence her in as you 
will, the bee must hum his love-tale to the rose, and 

VOL. II. 


D 


34 


DIGBY GKAND. 


the more fragrant the flower, the greater will be the 
number of its insect admirers. Coralie was but a 
woman, after all—a gallant and high-spirited woman 
certainly—but still like the rest of her sex, f to be 
wooed/ and, consequently, f to be won/ There was 
a handsome young French officer to whom she became 
attached, and to whom report, more charitable than 
its wont, affirms she was married. The gallant 
militaire, however, had served in Algeria, and perhaps 
borrowed from his Moslem foes some of their more 
liberal ideas with regard to a plurality of help-mates. 
However that might be, he had one wife at least 
living when Coralie bestowed her hand upon him, and 
the discovery of his perfidy created a total change in 
the character and conduct of the high-minded and 
deluded girl. Hitherto she had been pure and irre¬ 
proachable, now she became reckless and imprudent. 
She left him immediately, but, alas! it was with 
another, and from that time, though generally more 
* sinned against than sinning/ the uncharitable con¬ 
struction which the world placed upon her actions 
was not wholly without foundation. 

A perfectly irreproachable character, however, 
though doubtless a most desirable addition, is not 
absolutely essential to theatrical reputation, and in 
most of the European capitals the name of f De 
RAvolte* was as familiar as that of the reigning sove¬ 
reign. In Paris, I have already said, she created an 
absolute delirium of admiration. At Vienna, the 


A “PREMIERE DANSEUSE.” 35 

phlegmatic Austrians simmered up into enthusiasm 
when the very airs were played to which she was 
accustomed to harmonize her graceful gestures. At 
Berlin, preparations were made to receive her that 
suggested the idea of some ancient Roman conqueror 
returning from the subjugation of an empire, rather 
than the arrival of a good-looking young woman, 
whose chief merit lay in the twinkling rapidity of 
her footsteps. And at St. Petersburg, not only did 
a deluge of gold pour itself unceasingly into the lap 
of this modern Danae, but the Northern thunderer 
sent her his own autocratic portrait, valuable from 
its accurate representation of his handsome and 
colossal person, and not deteriorated by a costly set¬ 
ting of diamonds, each sparkling gem of which might 
have bought the ransom of a thousand serfs. In 
London, we rather flatter ourselves, we are not behind 
our neighbours in adoration for anything which they 
have already stamped with their Continental taste; 
and the harvest reaped by Coralie in our murky 
atmosphere was, as usual, enormous, in proportion 
to her being what we call f the fashion/ an idol to 
whom we bow even more obsequiously than to Mam¬ 
mon,—nay, to whom on occasion we hesitate not to 
sacrifice altogether the latter divinity. Pit, boxes, 
stalls, and gallery, all were crowded to overflowing on 
a f De Bivolte night / and the occupants of all and 
each seemed, like Briareus, to have a hundred hands 
a-piece with which to prolong their welcome. The 

D 2 


36 


DIGBY GRAND. 


glove-trade in Paris received an unheard-of stimulus, 
and Houbigant realized a fortune by the unwonted 
wear and tear of white kid, consequent upon such 
rapturous applause. Ladies stayed out the ballet, 
and declared her dancing was perfectly quiet and 
decorous, though ‘ how any one could call her pretty, 
they could not understand/ whilst dandies of all 
ages, peers, commoners, soldiers, statesmen, and 
idlers, voted her ‘perfection/ St. Heliers himself, 
the man for whom nothing had ever yet been good 
enough, who sneered independently at the idols set 
up by his fellow-creatures, and disposed of a charac¬ 
ter for talent by a single bon-mot —St. Heliers was 
at her feet; and such was the position of Coralie 
De Rivolte when I first met her in that eventful 
thunder shower at Richmond, which ripened our 
acquaintance into an intimacy delightful as dangerous; 
and such was the history, given by her cousin, of the 
career of this European celebrity ; but it was only in an 
interview with the lady the following morning that I 
learned how this flattered, courted, and distinguished 
paragon was herself a victim to unfortunate circum¬ 
stances, a prey to constant anxiety and terror, from 
causes arising in her own inconsiderate misconduct. 
She sent for me before she again departed for Russia, 
and it was evident to me that, with the inconsistency 
of her sex, she was now anxious to resume those 
relations between us which the day before she had 
given me to understand by her manner were no 


A ROSE WITH A THORN. 


37 


longer to exist. I was not, however, disposed to 
gratify this craving for admiration, and we parted 
with perhaps hardly so much cordiality as we had 
met, although not until she had explained to me the 
mystery, which I had never yet unravelled, of the 
attack made upon my person by the dark-looking 
stranger at the door of the opera-house, when hand¬ 
ing her to her carriage. 

I will give her account as nearly as possible in 
her own words, only omitting the broken English, 
and numerous French expletives in which her tale 
was clothed. 

f You have a right, my dear Digby/ she began, in 
those well-known captivating tones—‘you have a 
right to an explanation of a matter which nearly cost 
you your life, and which has been to ine an unceas¬ 
ing source of anxiety and regret. You must know, 
then, that when a foolish girl, in fact, not very long 
after my first appearance on the stage, I was induced 
to marry a French officer, whom, in my ignorance, I 
loved with all the freshness and devotion of eighteen. 
Rejecting each splendid offer made by nobler and 
wealthier admirers, I bestowed upon the young 
soldier all I had to give, my talents, my fame, and, 
above all, my true and untainted heart. Conceive 
my feelings when I discovered I was deceived and 
ruined. The infamous traitor had another wife 
living, and this was my reward for all I had sacri¬ 
ficed on his behalf. My Spanish blood was roused, 


38 


DIGBY GRAND. 


and revenge was the feeling uppermost in my breast. 
I could have stabbed him as he lay sleeping by my 
side, but I bethought me of a course that would 
wound him more keenly than could any bodily 
injury, and I forthwith bent all my energies to the 
task I had proposed myself. He shall love me, 
thought I, love me to distraction, and when his whole 
soul and being are wrapped up in me, I will leave 
him ! leave him for another, and force him to drink 
the bitter cup that he has so treacherously caused 
me to drain. This was revenge—and for weeks and 
months, by alternate kindness and coquetry, now 
working upon his affections, now exciting his 
jealousy, I succeeded in making that man my slave. 
A mischievous lesson which I have never since for¬ 
gotten. Yes, Digby, I had my foot upon his neck; 
he haunted me like my shadow; he grew thin, 
haggard, and restless; neglected, nay, ill-treated his 
previous and lawful wife, and became day by day 
more infatuated in his adoration for myself. At 
times 1 could hardly bear it—at times I longed to 
love him as before, and oh, what a happiness that had 
been! but when did a betrayed woman ever forego 
her revenge ? At last, he proposed to me a scheme 
by which he was to invalidate his previous marriage, 
and make me all his own. My time was come. I 
listened in affected raptures, I put my arms round 
his neck, and whispered words of love into his ear, 
such as he had never yet heard from my bps. He 


LADY-LIKE REVENGE. 


39 


parted from me in a state of intoxicated, almost deli¬ 
rious happiness. That night I left him, with the 
only man in Europe for whom he entertained a feel¬ 
ing of jealousy—a friend and companion, who, in all 
the sports and trifles of youth, was ever his rival, 
and by whom, I had heard him say a thousand times, 
that he could not bear to be surpassed. I never saw 
him again. They tell me he is shut up in a mad¬ 
house near Paris, that his beautiful hair is shaved, 
and he is confined with fetters of iron. I think my 
revenge is complete. But mark the punishment 
which followed. In an evil hour, wrought upon by 
his arguments and confused by his sophistry, I con¬ 
sented to go through the forms of wedlock with 
Sarmento—for that was the name of him whom I 
had rendered the weapon of my hate—I consented 
to marry the man whom in the world I most 
loathed, only stipulating that I should continue to 
bear my own name on the stage, and follow the 
profession in which I was acquiring wealth and re¬ 
putation. Sarmento was totally unprincipled, and a 
gambler; the latter request he cordially agreed to, 
as a means of furnishing him with money for the 
gaming-table, nor could he well deny me the former 
—and I pursued my lucrative career still known to 
the world as Madlle. De Bivolte. But my impatient 
spirit could not long bear the constraint of Sar- 
mento’s presence, his jealous supervision and rough 
ungovernable temper. I procured an engagement at 


40 


DIGBY GRAND. 


Berlin, of which he knew nothing, and left him, 
rnakiog arrangements to pay him a certain annuity as 
long as I should be relieved from the annoyance of 
his presence. This, for a time, answered admirably, 
and for more than a twelvemonth I heard nothing 
of my detested husband; but a long course of ill-luck 
at the gaming-table drove him to apply to me for fresh 
funds, and when these applications became so constant 
that I could not satisfy them, he threatened to live 
with me continually, to dog my movements, and to 
claim all the privileges of a husband. He is likewise 
tortured by a jealousy, that, until his unprovoked 
attack upon yourself, I had always considered was 
affected, and he follows me from place to place, and 
breaks in upon me at times and seasons the most 
inconvenient and unbearable. Even now I have 
travelled night and day the whole distance from St. 
Petersburgh to obtain an interview with my detested 
husband, and come, if possible, to some final arrange¬ 
ment for a total separation. To obtain such a release 
no sacrifice would be too great, and I have offered a 
settlement, which, although it will impoverish my 
own resources to a great extent, is so large that I 
trust it will prevail upon his cupidity sufficiently to 
induce him to consent never to see me more. I 
shall know my fate before this time to-morrow when 
I start for the north, and should we never chance to 
meet again, think of me, my dear Eigby, as one who, 
with every earnest desire to do right, has through 


FAIR AND FOUL. 


41 


life been driven, by the force of circumstances, into 
a course of feelings and actions, which those alone 
who have resisted temptations like mine, have a right 
to condemn/ 

Such, as nearly as possible, was the account given 
me by Coralie of her ill-fated marriage, and such 
was the explanation of the ominous-looking ruffian 
by whom I had been attacked, and whom I had 
afterwards seen run through iri the fencing-school. 
Nor could I help wondering that such a being as 
the bright and graceful Coralie could ever be pre¬ 
vailed on to link her fate with that dark, forbidding 
man, whose appearance alone argued him capable of 
committing any crime, and whose depraved and 
reckless habits were concealed beneath no comely 
form, no smooth and polished exterior. The heart 
of woman is indeed a wondrous mystery, a labyrinth, 
the clue to which the wisest of mankind have sought 
in vain, and of which we may truly say, that— 

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread; 

for do we not see, every day, the wise, the high- 
minded, the virtuous, and the brave, supplanted by 
gaudy fools or profligate coxcombs in the graces of 
that incomprehensible sex ? How easy is it to 
moralize upon general principles, or individual cases; 
how difficult to apply either the one or the other to 
our own conduct, or our own character. 

Coralie went back to Russia, and I remained in 


42 


DIGBY GRAND. 


London to pursue, under accumulating difficulties, 
the ever-fleeting pursuit after Pleasure, which, like 
the summer butterfly, that lures the eager urchin 
from lawn to lawn and field to field, is still just 
beyond the grasp, still in that immediate Future 
which never becomes the Present. 


43 


CHAPTER III 


EAISING THE WIND. 


S may easily be supposed, such, a life as I was 



TA. now leading in London entailed expenses, of 
which the allowance I received from Sir Peregrine 
(still continued, notwithstanding our differences,) 
could liquidate but a very few items. To say nothing 
of the absolute necessaries of life—such as dinners 
at the Clarendon and boxes at the French play, 
posting down to the Yale of Aylesbury to hunt when 
the weather was open, and to half the country houses 
in England for shooting when it froze; to say nothing 
of these essentials, all requiring an immediate outlay 
of current coin of the realm, there were likewise 
regimental entertainments, of which, as a matter of 
course, I bore my share; benefits for the encourage¬ 
ment of pugilism, and douceurs for information of 
every kind, on none of which could the confiding 
system of credit be brought to bear. I say nothing 
of tailors’, saddlers’, and coachmakers’ bills; of the 
swinging livery accounts run up by four capital 
hunters standing at Tring, nor the actual outlay on 


44 


DIGBY GRAND. 


the purchase of those valuable animals, as these were 
matters of expenditure not requiring immediate pay¬ 
ment, and therefore considered of no moment; but 
in the mere every-day disbursements of my life, I 
found that my personal income was about sufficient 
to find me in gloves, blacking, and cigars. How, then, 
to obtain sufficient funds to carry on the war ? The 
problem had long since been solved, and I was no 
wiser than others of my station and pursuits. By 
deep and reckless play when in luck; by bills, post- 
obits, and every species of f kite-flying* known to 
spendthrifts and money-lenders, when fortune frowned. 
Post-obits I had already done to a fearful amount, 
nor was it a satisfactory feeling to know, that under 
such an arrangement, every hundred laid out upon a 
fancy, or a wager, must be paid eventually in the 
enormous proportion of three to one. f Money/ pro¬ 
verbially, f may be bought too dear / and it was 
obvious that such a resource as this would eventually 
swamp the finest fortune that was ever inherited by 
man. I leaned, accordingly, to the less startling, 
though equally insidious, method of doing bills at 
three months, which, with liberal interest, an imme¬ 
diate premium, and a friend*s name at the back, I 
found an easy and commodious device for raising the 
wind. Occasionally a large sum of ready money 
was wanted immediately, and as is usual in such 
cases, the demands of the capitalist, who f knew a 
party that might be prevailed upon to advance a part 


A BOUND GAME. 


45 


of the sum/ were in proportion to the urgency of the 
necessity, as I found to my cost on occasions such 
as the following, when a debt, as it is termed, ' of 
honour/ required immediate liquidation. I had been 
dining with St. Heliers, whom the frost had driven 
into London from his accustomed quarters at Melton, 
and after our usual stance at high whist, which in¬ 
variably followed a capital dinner and a large quantity 
of claret, my evil star induced me to make one of a 
party at f lansquenet/—that game of all others which 
may be termed jesting at fortune, so recklessly does it 
throw the reins on the neck of the blind goddess. 

I had won a large stake at whist, having held 
good cards, and f played them up* scientifically to a 
scientific partner; and thinking that I was in a vein 
of f luck/ I determined to make the most of it that 
night, at least. There were only four of us who 
remained to court success at that game of utter 
chance—St. Heliers, a Russian prince, a young 
banker and myself; nor did my inferiority in 
capital prevent my setting the stakes of these 
wealthy antagonists to an enormous amount. At 
one time I had lost more than it appeared pos¬ 
sible I should ever be able to pay, and I went on 
in sheer desperation, feeling for the first time in my 
life that I was a swindler at heart. The Russian, 
secure in his emperor’s favour and his thousands of 
serfs, played on with a stoical disregard to winnings 
or losses that I have remarked only in the vassals of 


46 


DIGBY GRAND. 


the Northern autocrat. The banker was fidgety 
and. restless; perhaps he, too, had exceeded, his 
c unappropriated, dividends/ and then he was only a 
junior partner in the firm. St. Heliers was full of 
mirth and jollity as usual, but much as he played, he 
was never known to venture what could be called a 
high stake for a man of his wealth; and I, although 
my brain was beating, and the cold perspiration 
standing on my brow—although I was sickening at 
heart to think that I was playing the highest stakes 
of all, waging my honour against the dross which 
these men need only write their names to obtain, I 
could perceive at a glance their different feelings and 
foibles, and with a perspicuity only afforded us during 
moments of intense excitement, I was enabled to 
watch their every movement, and felt as if I could 
see into their very souls. At one time, my losses 
were so enormous that I determined to abide but one 
more deal, and then depart; nor did I dare to think 
of the morrow, and the means that might enable me 
to face my night’s amusement. There was a vague 
idea present to my mind, that men had been known 
to fly from the consequences of follies such as 
this, even into the arms of death; but this was all a 
misty speculative sort of dream ; nor was anything in 
the future clearer to my mental vision. If Reason 
ever totters upon her throne without sustaining an 
actual downfal, then was my overstrung brain as near 
madness as desperation and excitement can drive that 


THE TURN OF THE TIDE. 


47 


organ, short of the hounds of veritable insanity. But 
when things come to the worst, they mend; the tide 
turned; my courage rose with the first gleam of 
success, and I played on as though the Bank of 
England were at my back. After an unheard-of run 
of luck—after the longest deal St. Heliers ever recol¬ 
lected to have seen, and one which made even the 
immovable Russian open his insensate eyes, I walked 
home, rejoicing in my loss of only six hundred to that 
hyperborean nobleman more than ever yet neophyte 
exulted in the crisp bank-notes dividing the starched 
pocket of his clean white waistcoat, as wending his 
homeward way from Crockford’s, in the faint flush of 
a summer’s morning, he has congratulated himself 
on having found out to him ‘ a new way to pay old 
debts.’ And this is what men call pleasure—to watch 
the turning of a card with an anxiety hardly less than 
that of a criminal when the jury re-enter their box— 
to endure by anticipation all the agonies of remorse 
-—to screw your nerves up to a pitch of excitement 
more racking than the keenest bodily pain, and then 
to walk away, having endured an amount of misery 
that makes the actual inconvenience of a moderate 
loss a positive pleasure by comparison. Anything 
for excitement. Audax omnia perpeti—Gens hu- 
mana ruit per vetitum et nefas. But/<zs or nefas , the 
money must be paid, and that immediately. I had 
but small acquaintance with the Russian prince; he 
was going back to Melton, where he kept a stud of 


48 


DIGBY GRAND. 


horses, and rode like a demon, the instant the frost 
should break up; and there was nothing for it hut 
to have recourse again to Mr. Shadrach, whither Tom 
Spencer accompanied me, for the purpose, to use his 
own unconsciously prophetic words, f of backing me 
up, and seeing me through the business/ 

I have already expressed my opinions of that class 
of men who smooth all the difficulties of youth, and 
strew its path with roses, when gold is no longer a 
{ drug/ and future wealth must be anticipated to 
obtain immediate cash. The Jew is now-a-days your 
only Samaritan, and he, indeed, is charity itself as 
long as there remains an acre unmortgaged, an ex¬ 
pectation likely to become a bequest. Nor was Mr. 
Shadrach any exception to the general rule; he re¬ 
ceived me as usual, politely, but familiarly, for our 
acquaintance was ripening by repeated interviews,, 
and as my visits were more frequent, so were my 
future prospects less imposing, and the bow became 
a nod, the courtly inquiry a brief f How goes it ? } 
and the deferential salutation a free-and- easy shake of 
the hand. Nevertheless, I often went to see old 
Shadrach, nor had I ever yet found him fail at the 
pinch. f No difficulty whatever, Captain/ was the 
well-known reply to my demand for an immediate 
600/. paid down then and there— f no difficulty, except 
as to time,—could lend it you myself by the 25th, 
or I could get it you in a week—but really—this after¬ 
noon—such very short notice. However, if you 


BUSINESS. 


49 


must have it, why, of course it must be done. Let 
me see/ and he referred to a quantity of well- 
thumbed documents tied up with what had once been 
red tape — c Swindle—long annuities—Morekill and 
Blight Insurance Office—hum!—Smashand Speedy cut 
Junction—twelve per cent.—young Soluble^ bond. 
Well, Captain, I suppose I must risk it; with another 
name; merely as a matter of form; for security, and 
on our usual terms/ In short, after a little discus¬ 
sion, the money was obtained at an exorbitant rate 
of interest, and Tom Spencer, like a generous, open- 
hearted fellow as he was, put his name to my bill 
f merely as a matter of form/ 

Had any one told me whilst my old schoolfellow 
was writing his signature, that I was taking advan¬ 
tage of his feelings of friendship, that I was abusing 
the most sacred ties of school-day intimacy and ‘ auld 
lang syne/ that I was tempting him for my own 
convenience to a step which would ruin his character 
and blast his prospects, I should have scouted the 
idea with a burst of indignation. I never intended 
for an instant that my friend should sustain the 
slightest inconvenience from his readiness to oblige 
me. I never anticipated that the signature, which I 
considered a mere matter of form, would ever entail 
upon him one moments uneasiness. I meant, as 
surely as I stood there, to take upon my own shoulders 
the whole weight of this debt contracted by my own 
folly—but woe be to him who trusts to the firmest 
YOL. II. E 


50 


DIGBY GRAND. 


intentions of a spendthrift, who reposes faith in the 
strongest resolutions of a gambler ! 

Tom and I parted with onr usual hilarity and good 
spirits—he to return to Oxford, I to spend a month 
with St. Heliers at Melton, little anticipating under 
what different auspices we two should meet again. 

The prejudice has long faded into oblivion which 
looked upon all devoted to the sport of fox-hunting 
as so many Squire Westerns of the old school, nor 
can luxury and refinement boast more ardent wor¬ 
shippers, in any locality, than at Melton Mowbray, 
or Melton, as that stronghold of the chase is called 
by its frequenters. As the Duke of Wellington used 
to say, that his greatest dandies were usually his best 
officers, so it would appear that he whose daring is 
most determined in the hunting-field, whose figure is 
ever seen gliding foremost with the hounds, whose 
nerve is unshaken by all the obstacles to be met with 
in crossing a stiff country, as his stalwart frame rises 
uninjured from a rattling fall, is still the most 
polished in the drawing-room, the most courteous in 
his manners throughout all the occasions of life. 
Nor must it be supposed that he who devotes his 
leisure to this most fascinating pursuit is on that 
account incapable of bearing an important part in the 
graver business of the world, or that the ardent and 
manly disposition whose enthusiasm flags not to hunt 
six days a week when opportunity offers, is unable, 
or unwilling to pursue its weightier avocations in the 


MELTON. 


51 


court, the camp, or the senate, with equal energy and 
success. 

Many a famous warrior, many an astute politician 
and distinguished statesman has disported himself 
in the merry pastures of undulating Leicestershire; 
and the voice that has rung above the din of battle, 
the accents that have thrilled through the hearts of 
our senators, pleading for a worlds welfare, have not 
despised to cheer the echoing hound in the depths of 
Barkby Holt, to swell the gladdening halloa that 
cheers away a fine old fox from his impervious lair in 
the thickest corner of Glen Gorse. 

The court of St. Petersburg has never been sup¬ 
posed entirely deficient in intrigue; to represent that 
court as a minister in England, would argue no 
slight share of diplomatic dexterity and no small 
tax upon the time and talents of the indi¬ 
vidual holding that responsible situation. But 
what shall we say of a statesman whose office it was 
to reside in this country as a check upon the 
Russian minister, to watch the workings of that 
machinery, the wheels within wheels of which carry 
on the negotiations of the world, and to report to an 
irresponsible and absolute master every shadow of 
change that might arise, every breath that might 
ruffle the treacherous surface over which it was his 
duty to keep so vigilant an eye ? Such an one can 
have had but small leisure to spare upon his amuse¬ 
ments, such an one would be the last man in the 

E 2 


52 


DIGBY GRAND. 


world whom you would expect to see day after day 
enjoying with enthusiasm the delights of the chase, 
night after night entering with careless merriment 
into the conviviality of the dinner-table. Yet so it 
was—the Russian diplomatist would steal those hours 
from sleep that he was compelled to devote to his 
professional duties, and after riding all day in the 
front rank, dining at eve amongst spirits jovial and 
light-hearted as himself, playing a sociable game at 
whist till far into the night, would sit up till the 
grey dawn of morning inditing (a somewhat ticklish 
lucubration) a state paper to his emperor. Peace 
be to his ashes ! Melton has known and appre¬ 
ciated many a talented sportsman, many an agreeable 
comrade, but none so clever, none so popular as he! 
One anecdote that St. Heliers told me of his good- 
humour and sang froid so completely illustrates the 
character of the man, that I cannot resist repeating 
it. He had been hut a short time in England, and, 
good linguists as all Russians are, had not then 
acquired his later proficiency in our difficult language. 
He was mounted on a horse hired of Mr. Tilbury, 
and had nearly got to the end of a good run, but at 
the expense of his hunter, who was completely ex¬ 
hausted. Riding his own line gallantly, he came by 
himself to a large strong fence into a lane, which he 
charged without a moment's hesitation, but his horse, 
being frightfully blown, declined to make any exer¬ 
tion, and hung his head upon his rider's hand in a 


A SPORTING DIPLOMATIST. 


53 


state of pitiful helplessness. Most men would have 
given up in despair, or vented their annoyance with 
whip and spur upon the poor animal. Not so the 
unmoved Russian—turning him quietly round to 
give him another run at the forbidding obstacle, he 
addressed him in soothing accents, and a language 
he imagined the brute could best comprehend—‘ We 
sail try again, my goot friend—we sail try again V 
And this time tumbled neck and crop with him into 
the lane. There was no affectation in this stoicism, 
as he had no reason to suppose there was a soul 
within ear-shot, and it was the accidental circum¬ 
stance of his being overheard by some one in the 
lane that brought to light this anecdote, so illustra¬ 
tive of the coolness and good-humour for which its 
hero was famous. 

Everything that St. Heliers undertook was done 
in the best possible manner, and, as may be sup¬ 
posed, his little hunting establishment at Melton 
was wanting in none of those accessories which 
would have been considered indispensable in his 
house in town. Nothing could be more charming 
than the domicile to which I found myself invited 
for a month of excitement and pleasure. Large 
enough for luxury, small enough for comfort, there 
was everything you could possibly want in the exact 
place in which you were likely to want it. The 
dressing-rooms boasted more baths, the drawing¬ 
rooms more easy-chairs, the library more writing- 


54 


DIGBY GRAND. 


tables, and tbe cellar more claret, than any other 
house I was in the habit of frequenting. The apart¬ 
ments were low and warm, the walls hung round 
with portraits by Ferneley of f my lordV favourite 
hunters, interspersed with sketches from the same 
prolific brush, of imaginary runs, and scurries over 
an unmistakeable Leicestershire country, with the 
same dark December sky, the same open, indistinct, 
hunting-like back-ground. The adventures of the 
equestrians represented were diversified as they were 
humorous. Here you had a short-tailed horse fall¬ 
ing neck and crop over a flight of rails, whilst a 
thorough-bred one, who ought to be advancing , was 
kicking viciously at the leap his rider intended him 
to face. There, three or four gentlemen, in high 
collars and pinched up hats, were labouring along 
upon horses reduced to the last extremity of distress, 
whilst the white hounds, relieved by a lowering sky, 
were toiling on before them, as though the end must 
be near at hand. In another graphic representation, 
a wide and deep brook is creating rout and conster¬ 
nation amongst a numerous and well-mounted field 
of cavalry. A heavy man is charging it as though 
he must get in, one horse is clearing it gallantly, 
whilst another is refusing with equal determination, 
and a sportsman immersed, all but the tiny hat be¬ 
fore mentioned, peeps from the Lethaean wave; one 
hound running one fox is the object to which the 
whole attention of the equestrians is directed, whilst 


THE HUNTING-BOX. 


55 


with a dash of sly satire worthy of Hogarth, the 
body of the pack are represented streaming away in 
a directly contrary direction, unfollowed or unnoticed 
by a single soul. All these vigorous sketches were 
likenesses as well of the riders as of their steeds, and 
many a good anecdote had St. Heliers to tell of such 
candidates for pictorial immortality. Our sport was 
but moderate, nor must the less ambitious Nimrod, 
w r hose fate it is to follow hounds over what his Mel- 
tonian brother calls a f provincial country/ suppose 
that the latter is exempt from the same disappoint¬ 
ments as to bad scent, bad weather, and bad foxes, 
which render his own achievements so gloriously un¬ 
certain. Bursts we had, of twenty minutes at a 
time, into which short space, by dint of reckless 
horsemanship and jealous riding, we crowded the 
events and catastrophes of a long and severe run; 
whilst every now and then a large brook, or nearly 
insurmountable obstacle, gave an opportunity of dis¬ 
tinguishing themselves to those who aspired to the 
title of f customers/ But whatever might be the 
failure of our morning’s amusement, we were certain 
that when seven o’clock arrived, an agreeable party 
and a good dinner would console us for previous 
disappointments, whilst f whist,’ that resource without 
which society must speedily come to a ‘ stand-still’— 
whist proffered her attractions, and dealt her honours 
upon no ungrateful or inconstant votaries. I had 
not been long at Melton before I saw that this 


56 


DIGBY GRAND. 


scientific game, played as it was there regularly 
every night, and always by the same individuals, 
average good performers, but nothing more, must, if 
persevered in, prove a mine of gold to one who, like 
myself, was a player of the first class, and who knew 
exactly his own strength. Alas, thus early in life 
had I learned the predatory lesson of turning to ad¬ 
vantage the weaknesses of my companions, of adhering 
to the f sharp practice* which holds for its chief 
maxim, f never throw a chance away.* Here was I 
living with an open-hearted, jovial, hospitable set of 
fellows, whose horses I rode, (for my own four were 
of course insufficient for six days a week,) whose 
dinners I ate daily, and whose claret night after 
night moistened my ungrateful throat, and yet it 
was from these very benefactors that I hesitated not 
to win as large sums as they could be induced to 
stake, at a game in which my own superiority made 
a certainty in my favour. Yet had I not done so, 
had I not hit upon ways and means such as these to 
replenish my exhausted coffers, I could not have 
lived among these very people, who seemed on their 
part to recognise the right, which a f young fellow,* 
as they called me, of fast habits and no capital, had 
to lay them under contribution. Accordingly, regu¬ 
larly as tea and coffee made their appearance in the 
drawing-room, so regularly did I adjourn to the 
lucrative task, where shaded lights and a green- 
covered table were prepared for the thoughtful pas- 


A GOOD IDEA. 


57 


time; so regularly did care, science, and memory 
reap that golden harvest which, in the long run, they 
never fail to secure. 

But the returns arising from successful whist are 
at best but slow, though tolerably sure, and the 
practice of playing invariably the same stakes, while 
ifc guarantees the looser from any startling deficiency, 
equally precludes the winner from netting any very 
large amount. Whist can be merely considered an 
accessory, and not a provision; other means must be 
sought for of permanently raising the wind, and 
such was the opinion of St. Heliers, no bad judge 
of worldly prosperity, as, after a better day’s sport 
than usual, we jogged our tired horses homeward in 
company, and the peer, contrary to his wont, gave 
me the benefit of his advice and experience. 

f I wonder, Bigby,’ he began, lighting a cigar, and 
allowing his weary steed—the second he had ex¬ 
hausted that day—to relapse into a walk, f I wonder 
you don’t make up to some woman with money, cut 
the Guards, and have a house in London, with a 
hunting-box down here; that is the sort of life that 
would suit you—depend upon it, soldiering is all 
nonsense.’ 

f And so I would,’ was my reply, f but I don’t see 
any of these heiresses about; besides, I thought you, 
St. Heliers, were a sworn enemy to marrying and 
giving in marriage.’ 

‘ Cela depend, said the bachelor peer, ‘ it would 


58 


DIGBY GRAND. 


not suit me; but I think it is your only chance. 
Mind, I don't want you to marry anything but a girl 
with a large fortune. As I told you once before) I 
don't think you are at all a fellow for a roast mutton 
menage. But now there is that Miss Spinnithorne, 
who was out with us to-day, she will have seven 
thousand a year the instant she comes of age; to be 
sure, she rides like the devil, and that we know has 
not a softening effect on person or manner; but the 
pill is well gilded, and she is really a good-looking 
girl. If I were you, I should make a face and 
swallow it/ 

f She wouldn't have me/ was my modest reply; 
e she don't like good-looking men. She was riding 
all to-day with that Russian, whose name I cannot 
pronounce, and whose appearance would frighten a 
child into convulsions.' 

f Not a bit of it,' said my Mentor; ‘ like Sir 
Andrew Ague-cheek, board her, woo her, assail her; 
you may undertake her in this company, no fellow 
here can cut you out if you only like to try; and if 
you will take my advice, you'll begin to-morrow.' 

f But,' said I, f granted that I could come over the 
young lady, for girls are seldom overburdened with 
sense, there is that red-faced father of hers, who 
understands fat cattle, and considers himself a 
thorough country gentleman, I should never go 
down with him. I know nothing of farming, and 
my civilized habits and refined ideas would equally 
excite his anger and contempt.' 


A LEICESTERSHIRE DIANA. 


59 


‘You might learn as much agriculture in a week/ 
replied St. Heliers, ' as would make you a match for 
any gentleman farmer. And you may depend upon 
it, that such a man as old Squire Spinnithorne, or 
any other who boasts himself e one of the rough sort/ 
esteems no character so highly as that which he 
affects to run down, by calling its owner ‘ a fine 
gentleman/ the more so as it is one to which he can 
never by possibility aspire. No, no, Digby, e faint 

heart/ you know- Enter for the stakes, and 

you will come in a winner, as sure as poor old 
Gallopade will take the next turn, which she knows 
right well leads to her own welcome stable, and I 
shall have the satisfaction of feeling that for once in 
my life I have given good advice, and more won¬ 
derful still, that my friend has taken it. 3 

With these words we parted, and long and deeply 
did I cogitate upon the future thus shadowed out by 
the suggestions of St. Heliers, and well did I balance 
the pros and cons , the respective advantages of wed¬ 
lock, well-gilt, and made to fit as easily as possible, and 
of my present unfettered though precarious position, 
e the hollow tree and liberty/ which wanted only the 
certainty of the latter being a permanent blessing 
to make me decide in favour of the vie de garcon. 
But let it not be supposed that for one instant I had 
forgotten my beloved Flora, that my heart was ever 
touched by the ruder beauties of this Leicestershire 
Diana, or my allegiance shaken to her whom alone, 
amongst all the follies and passing phantasies of 



60 


DIGBY GRAND. 


youth, I had truly loved. Not so; could I have 
seeu any possibility of marrying Flora, I would have 
given up that world, the frivolities of which con¬ 
stituted my whole existence. I would have given 
up position, profession, friends, all and everything, 
without a murmur, for her. But this was a mere 
day-dream—thus did I argue with my dishonest 
heart—my father would never consent to my mar¬ 
riage with Miss Belmont. Should I carry her off 
in defiance of the opposition of our respective fami¬ 
lies, how were we to live ? I could not bear to see 
that gentle girl subjected to the inconveniences and 
annoyances, if not the actual hardships of poverty. 
I could not stand a f boy in buttons 3 waiting as her 
only servant on my aristocratic darling. Setting 
aside my own fastidiousness and false ideas of com¬ 
fort, it would have annoyed me dreadfully to see my 
wife trailing about in all weathers, with muddy feet 
and draggled gown, because I could not keep her a 
carriage; to see her wearing dark gloves and faded 
bonnets; to know that she was forced by necessity 
to deny herself those little luxuries which to a high¬ 
bred woman may be considered almost the essentials 
of life. All this would have been to me a source of 
real grief; and even as I thought over the possibility 
of such a marriage, these imaginary evils rankled by 
anticipation in my heart. I only mention this to 
show how much of real happiness may be, nay, often is, 
destroyed by the false ideas of refinement which are 


DISHONEST REASONING. 


61 


acquired by too many of us in early youth, and 
which are never afterwards to be wholly got rid of. 
Besides, I reasoned, surely it is my duty to abstain 
from drawing her I love into such discomfort, merely 
for my own selfish delight in her society. Far better 
would it be for her to remain single, or even to 
marry another who could support her in that station 
to which she has always been accustomed. Such is 
the sacrifice that honour and right feeling impera¬ 
tively demand of me, and such is the sacrifice that I 
will not hesitate to make. And if I am never to 
possess Flora, if the force of circumstances compels 
me to forego the greatest blessing which fife has to 
offer, is that any reason why I should likewise be 
deprived of a fair proportion of real comfort, and the 
many advantages which would arise to me from a 
wealthy connexion ? Surely not; under similar 
circumstances I would advise the friend who came to 
me for counsel, as St. Heliers has advised me. I 
would urge him to make up to the rich heiress, to 
secure for himself a position in the world, and a 
luxurious home—to grasp the positive good that 
hung within his reach, nor distress himself with vain 
longings after that superlative happiness which was 
unattainable; and if this is the course which I should 
recommend another to pursue, common sense points 
it out as the one which I should myself follow, and 
which is alike demanded of me for Florals sake as 
for my own. Such was the vain sophistry with 


62 


DIGBY GRAND. 


which I strove to delude my better nature into the 
mercenary creed of the many, with which I would 
fain excuse the treachery of which I was guilty to 
my own heart, the meditated injury to my affianced 
love, which I ought to have scouted and despised. 
And so I embarked like others in the venture—I, 
too, started in the race with the worshippers of 
mammon. I paid devoted attention to Miss Spinni- 
thorne, nor did I neglect the ruddy Squire, her 
parent. I rode at the lady^s bridle-rein, and talked 
to her papa concerning mangel-wurzel, when the 
chase was not too fascinating to make me neglect my 
interests for its absorbing pleasures. As we rode 
from covert to covert, or watched the wondrous 
instinct of the hound tracking his distant quarry by 
those symptoms which were becoming every moment 
more faint and fleeting—an exhibition of sagacity 
extremely pleasing to old Spinnithorne—as I have 
remarked it ever is to those on whom time and good 
living have impressed their seal of ‘ slow/ and who 
become more and more delighted with what they 
term hunting , in proportion as their nerves get too 
relaxed for the enjoyment of what they con¬ 
temptuously dub mere riding; as we trotted slowly 
along within hearing of the bustling pack, whose 
movements in a cold scent gave us ample leisure for 
conversation, I had plenty of opportunities for press¬ 
ing my suit; and ere many days had elapsed, thought 
I had fair reason to congratulate myself on my 


A DIARY OF THE CHASE. 


63 


success. But however good might be the opinion 
Miss Spinnithorne entertained of her devoted knight, 
I am bound to confess that it was not without 
many a secret pang, without many an unfavourable 
comparison, that I carried on this by no means 
spontaneous attachment. How often did my heart 
sicken within me as I contrasted my gentle, high¬ 
bred, lovely Flora with the boisterous hoydenish girl 
at whose side I rode so assiduously, and in whom 
good looks and good humour were the only qualities 
that could pretend in the slightest degree to charm 
or captivate. For the only time in my life I kept a 
journal, originally intended as a mere hunting diary, 
but which became gradually an analysis of thoughts 
and feelings, as well as a catalogue of hounds and 
horses; a few extracts from its pages may perhaps 
serve better than a simple narrative to give an idea 
of my state of mind at this eventful period; and as 
such I give some, verbatim:— 

March 2.—The Quorn at Belton. Good fox— 
over a fine country with a bad scent. Bode all day 
with Miss Spinnithorne, who tore her habit sadly 
in an ox-fence. Good foot and ankle concealed by 
trowsers, boots, and spurs. Query—Have ladies 
any business out hunting? 

March 3.—The Cottesmore, at Wood well Head. 
Miss S. out again. What can she be made of? 
Looked tired, and complained of sleeplessness. I 
believe she was thinking of a certain person—jumped 


64 


DIGBY GRAND. 


a gate, and found she had followed me over it. St. 
Heliers laughed, and I looked foolish. Got well 
abused for over-riding the hounds. Miss Spinni- 
thorne voted the master a very disagreeable man. I 
think that girl is hooked. 

March 4.—The Belvoir, at Piper’s Hole. A wet 
morning, and, thank heaven! no ladies out. An 
hour without a check, and killed. Rode two of St. 
Heliers’ horses, and f pumped’ them both out, but 
went first from end to end. Delightful day. 

March 5.—The Quorn at Barkby. Miss Spinni- 
thorne out again—call her f Nelly’ now. Papa 
asked me what I thought of the new turnip-cutter; 
posed him by asking him to explain its mechanical 
principles? Rode with them all day. Nelly adores 
London, but would be happy anywhere with a person 
she liked —making frightful running ! 

March 6.—The Cottesmore at Roecart. Miss S. 
got an ugly fall in Owston Wood; picked her up 
and consoled her—leaned on me, feeling so faint. 
Lost a capital thing towards Somerby, and got 
rather compromised. Plora! Flora! one look of 
thine would save me, even now! 

March 7.—The Quorn at Widmerpool. No 
sport; rode with Nelly all day. Her father praising 
her heavily whenever she rode before us. This looks 
like business. The girl is evidently smitten, but I 
cannot help drawing comparisons between her and 
Flora; the latter so gentle, so beautiful, so bewitch- 


FAIRLY IN FOR IT. 


65 


ing, with her large melancholy eyes and thoughtful 
brow,— the former so boisterous, so prosperous- 
looking, so noisy. I believe I shall always hate fine 
teeth, fresh complexions, and sunny ringlets. Besides, 
nothing frightens her. She was riding a violent five 
year old horse, and sat him as if he was a shooting 
pony,—complimented her on her prowess, and she 
looked so pleased. It must come off sooner or 
later, and I shall lose Flora for ever. Such is fate ! 
Dined with Salamander, and drank oceans of claret 
—fellows all very noisy. Won 3 71. at whist. 

March 8, Sunday.—Laid in bed till one p.m. 
Fearful dreams. Flora on a runaway horse—stopped 
her, and found she was suddenly transformed into 
old Mr. Spinnithorne—who gave me his daughter 
and his blessing. Breakfasted, and made up my 
whist-book. Shocking bad week—only won 42/. on 
the six nights. Shall have to marry the heiress, 
after all. Put it off till after Croxton Park. 


YOL. II. 


F 


66 


CHAPTER IV. 

CEOXTON PARK. 

II/TANY and great as may be the failings of our 
English aristocracy, and in these days, truly, 
the more exalted a man's position the more surely 
are his peccadilloes brought to light, effeminacy and 
want of daring can never be charged against them 
by their greatest enemies. Without going into the 
invidious question, as to whether they are not more 
moral, better educated, and more intelligent than 
their continental neighbours, there is no doubt that 
their sports and pursuits have a less enervating ten¬ 
dency, their frames are more athletic, and their 
habits more manly, than those of a corresponding 
class in any other civilized nation. The sports of 
the field, and the training of the gymnasium, will 
ever have a beneficial effect on the moral tone, as 
well as the corporeal health of those who assiduously 
follow them, and who f live laborious days/ which 
bring tneir own reward; and there is a nearer 
connexion than one might at first sight suppose 
between the bodily vigour which resists physical 


BLOOD WILL TELL. 


67 


labour, and rises superior to fatigue, and the mental 
energy which overcomes moral difficulties, and battles 
strenuously against evil. I do not go so far as the 
absurdity of saying that the man of muscle is neces¬ 
sarily the man of virtue, but I only suggest, that in 
more cases than we are generally aware of, the 
‘ sound body 3 is the most powerful auxiliary to the 
‘ sound mind.’ May we not, then, congratulate 
ourselves that in this country, and I believe only in 
this country, we see the young aristocracy unflinch¬ 
ingly take their share of all the buffetings inseparable 
from our rough and athletic amusements with a 
manly good humour not to be surpassed by the 
brawny clown, who sooth to say is of no more 
stalwart frame than his lordly competitor;—that we 
see the hereditary legislator labouring at the oar, 
with a pluck and endurance worthy of a toiling 
athlete training for the Olympic wreath, or standing 
up to the blows of a professed pugilist, which, 
muffled though they be, are still no unworthy 
imitations of the kick of a horse, with an unruffled 
countenance, that shows how self-reliance, accom¬ 
panied by a quick eye and ready hand, can turn the 
rude struggle into a triumph of science and agility? 

Who is the foremost horseman in yon reckless 
crowd, all maddening for a start, in the enthusiasm 
of the chase ? Who is the daring rider guiding that 
impetuous and untrained animal, with many a hair¬ 
breadth escape, over the intricacies of a strongly- 

E 2 


68 


DIGBY GRAND. 


enclosed country, and, as lie obtained it, still by 
sheer nerve and determination, keeping the lead ? 
Not the professional rough-rider, paid, as he 
deserves to be, at the rate of a field-officer in 
the army; not the keen and skilful huntsman, with 
horse of his master's and spurs of his own, albeit he 
is somewhere very close upon his heels; no, it is 
none of these, but some scion of nobility, some 
gentleman of name, brought up in all the habits of 
the highest refinement, nurtured in wealth, and 
cradled in luxury, but neither softened in frame nor 
dulled in courage by the enervating effects of idle¬ 
ness and vice. The same spirit pervades all classes 
of English society, a chain that links together the 
highest and the lowest of the land, that promoting 
field-sports, cricket, quoits, games, and gatherings, 
unites, in one manly bond, the peer and the peasant, 
the merchant and the mechanic, gentle and simple, 
rich and poor. Long may it last! and so long 
shall our glorious country vindicate her right to the 
endearing appellation of merry England. Amongst 
no other nation under the sun, I think we may 
safely say, could such a race-meeting as that of 
Croxton Park, avowedly held for the purpose of 
enabling gentlemen to figure in the character of 
jockeys, have received the support and encourage¬ 
ment which has ever been accorded to it. And 
although the higher classes certainly do not excel 
their inferiors in this particular description of horse- 


GENTLEMEN RIDERS. 


69 


manskip, still the very attempt speaks volumes in 
favour of the fearless and manly spirit of its pro¬ 
moters. Nor have some of our most distinguished 
men in arms, politics, and literature, disdained to 
don the many-coloured jacket and silken cap, that 
should become the loadstone of attraction to a thou¬ 
sand eyes, as they sped their giddy course around 
that ample domain. I have seen on these plains a 
white-haired general, whose name the Sikh warrior 
blanches to pronounce, bestride an impetuous filly, 
whose youthful ardour was to be counteracted by 
the cool determination of that daring old man; I 
have seen one on whom the poet’s mantle has since 
descended, and whose name will be remembered 
while French Algeria holds a bivouac—whilst the 
unconquered spirit of the heroic Abdel-Kader per¬ 
vades the sons of the Desert—rehearsing in reality, 
whilst his gorgeous vesture fluttered in the 
breeze, those stirring gallops that he has since 
described so thrillingly in winged verse. I have 
seen the graceful representative of one of Eng¬ 
land’s most chivalrous houses gliding without effort 
past the stand, and heard him hailed by a thousand 
voices the artistic winner by a length, whilst the 
cordial congratulations he received on all sides proved 
the popularity of the equestrian; and I have rejoiced 
to see that, let utilitarians cavil as they will, the 
spirit of their forefathers is not yet dormant in the 
gentlemen of England, f who sit at home at ease.’ 


70 


DIGBY GRAND. 


Besides such reflections as these, can anything be 
more delightful than a fine day in early spring, on a 
bracing eminence, commanding a rich and well- 
wooded country, and surrounded by one’s friends and 
acquaintances, male and female, in such numbers as 
to enable one to select the pleasantest as one’s asso¬ 
ciates without risk of affronting the less gifted by 
neglect ? Or should wooing be the order of the day, 
and the fair object a lady wrapped heart and soul in 
horses, horsemanship, and the mysteries of the saddle, 
could any position be so advantageous for the prose¬ 
cution of one’s suit as a place at her ear in the 
corner of the grand stand during the races at Croxton 
Park. 

Such was my position as regarded Miss Spinni- 
thorne, with whom I was now upon the best of 
terms, and who I thought in my vanity was only 
waiting for the important words that should bind me 
to her for life. These words I had quite made up 
my mind to speak, and was now only putting off 
from day to day the irretrievable loss of my liberty, 
and my eternal separation from Flora Belmont. I 
had determined my fate should be decided at the 
Croxton Park meeting; this was the first day of that 
festival, to-morrow must see me ‘booked.’ Such 
was the idea uppermost in my brain, as I sat by 
Nelly’s side, and listened to her artless remarks upon 
the pageant going on before her eyes. 

‘ Do tell me which horse will win, Captain Grand/ 


4 MON BEAU CONSIN.’ 


71 


she said, leaning half her body over the balcony, to 
witness the operation of saddling a refractory chesnut. 
‘I like ‘Fakeaway,* only he has bad hocks; and 
‘ Polly Popples* has better action for getting through 
dirt.* 

‘ Right again, Nelly,* said a voice at her elbow; 
which, on turning round, I perceived to come from 
her cousin Tom, and who, being a cousin, I was 
forced to tolerate as such. ‘ Polly*s the card for you 
to stick to, ain*t she, Grand ? I am to ride her; you 
see if I don*t get hold of her cocoa-nut and fight 
her along !* 

A nice fellow this for one*s wife*s cousin, I ejacu¬ 
lated internally, during this refined colloquy; the 
said Tom being my especial aversion—a sort of half¬ 
gentleman, half-yeoman—who would have been a 
‘ buckeen* had he been an Irishman, but who in 
Leicestershire was only that worst of all varieties, a 
‘ sporting snob.* 

‘Well, Tom,* said my good-humoured ‘future,* 
‘ 1*11 bet you two to one against your mount.* 

‘ Done in gloves,* said my aversion, ‘ done, along 
with you little Nell! (I should have liked to choke 
him;) and if she don*t win, I’ll send you the spiciest 
pair of real French that Grantham can produce.* 
And with this refined promise he went down to 
weigh, previous to mounting the animal aforesaid, 
which I sincerely hoped might break his neck. 

‘ Is that man a friend of yours ?* said Lady Over- 


72 


DIGBY GRAND. 


bearing, who had been listening to cousin Tom with 
her glass up, and an expression of intense amuse¬ 
ment on her haughty features. 

' No—yes/ I stammered out, f that is, a sort of 
cousin of Miss Spinnithorne—that Lady in the pink 
bonnet/ 

e Oh V said the fine lady, turning away with a 
look of contemptuous mechancete that annoyed me, 
I am ashamed to say, more than the occasion 
deserved. 

But the bell rings for saddling; gentlemen riders 
are seen hurrying to and fro, with long great coats 
concealing their professional attire, and magnificent 
silver-mounted jockey-whips in their hands. Pros¬ 
perous-looking yeomen are crowding round the strong 
symmetrical race-horses, on whom five and six sum¬ 
mers have bestowed the muscular proportions and 
rounded beauty of form, denied to their earlier 
appearance before the public as three-year old com¬ 
petitors for Derby and St. Leger, and propounding 
pithy questions to the short, business-like grooms, 
whose responses are delivered with a positive ambi¬ 
guity worthy of an ancient oracle. 

f Plantagenet ought to win, Mr. Wisp V says a 
good-looking young farmer, in an interrogative tone, 
glancing down at the same time towards the boots 
and breeches in which he is afterwards to ride for 
the f Coplow Stakes/ as though his attire gave him 
a right to the best information on the subject. 


THE SADDLING BELL. 


73 


f He did ought if the mare don't beat him/ replies 
a short, pimply-faced man, with miraculously-fitting 
gaiters, who is leading by a snaffle bridle a quiet, 
good-looking bay horse, swathed in body-clothes 
from his little pointed ears to the end of his long 
square tail. f Nor she didn't ought to have much 
the best of him, if you look at their f running/ Mr. 
Squiers/ and having vouchsafed thus much informa¬ 
tion for Mr. Squiers to make the best of, which that 
worthy’s total ignorance of the previous performances 
of either animal renders him utterly incapable of 
doing, the short man, yawning audibly, expresses his 
opinion that it will be dark before they begin, and 
that f he's blessed if he thinks the gentlemen ever 
will get weighed.' Nor is the groom's impatience 
unreasonable, for inside the weighing enclosure 
there is much crowding and confusion, consequent 
upon the uncertainty of the aristocratic jockeys as 
to their specific gravity, all preconceived calculations 
based upon yesterday’s discipline having been upset 
by a large dinner-party last night, at the Old Club. 
Seven-pound saddles must accordingly be substituted 
for the more roomy seat on which gentlemen are 
wont to accommodate their lengthier proportions; 
and in one instance not even that hand's-breadth of 
pig's-skin, which weighs exactly five pounds, and 
on which it is physically impossible he can sit down, 
will make amends for the evening's indulgence to 
yon vigorous competitor. However, there is no great 


74 


DIGBY GKAND. 


hurry, people who do things for pleasure ought not 
to be tied to time; and after many a hasty message 
and whispered conclave, the turmoil seems to right 
itself, and one after another the whole troop are at 
length mounted, and displaying their preparatory 
canters for the edification of the ladies. 

And now do bright eyes scan the cards, and taper 
fingers point to the f names, weights, and colours 
of the riders/ as each fair one reviews with favour¬ 
ing eye the man and horse that approach nearest to 
her own peculiar ideas of excellence. f Plantagenet’ 
gallops thrice past the stand, his bright bay coat and 
glossy tail glistening in the sun, whilst his own 
beauty and the graceful ease with which Mr. Wilson 
yields so pliantly to every motion of his long, lashing 
stride, find him peculiar favour in the eyes of the 
softer sex. Gloves shall be won about Plantagenet, 
ere yon setting sun shall gild the western windows 
of Belvoir’s stately pile. But f Polly Popples/ steered 
by my cousin that is to be, likewise finds admirers 
amongst the connoisseurs, and there is no denying 
that short square man can ride. f Nelly’ backs her 
largely for gloves, much to my annoyance. Hie ! 
hie ! hie ! f Takeaway’ comes tearing up the course, 
pulling hard and savagely, with lowered head and 
snorting nostril that breathes rebellion and defiance. 
In vain ! as well strive to break away from a bar of 
iron with springs of steel, as from those strong 
sinewy wrists, that give and take with restraining 


A WAITING RACE. 


75 


skill on either side of the lengthy, free-playing 
shoulder. ‘ If ‘ Fakeaway* could live the distance/ 
Nelly remarks to me, ‘ he ought to win, with Captain 
Black for his jockey/ And Nelly’s judgment in all 
matters connected with horses is seldom at fault. 
Three more gallant steeds, three more riders known 
to fame, come swinging past for our observation and 
criticism. Fine horsemen are they all, but to an 
accustomed eye there is a something in the seat and 
style of each of them which savours more of the pliant 
strength of the fox-hunter, than the motionless ease 
of the jockey. There is some little delay ere they 
are settled into their places, and divers threatened 
indications of a false start; but they are got 
away with less trouble than might have been 
expected, and a suppressed murmur in the Stand 
announces that f they are off/ The course is deeper 
than usual, and the gentlemen riders much inclined 
to ‘wait upon* each other; so, for the first half 
mile, there is considerable disapprobation expressed 
by the fair speculators at their ‘ going so wretchedly 
slow / but Fakeaway is pulling so unpleasantly, and 
exhausting so much of his energies in struggling 
with his jockey, that Captain Black judiciously lets 
him out for a few strides, and shoots forward some 
five or six lengths in front of his companions, not un¬ 
marked, however, by the practised eye of Mr. Wilson, 
who, having himself ridden Fakeaway, has been for 
some time prepared for a demonstration of this kind, 


76 


DIGBY GRAND. 


and is ready with Plantagenet to regain his place at 
the leaders quarters. This improves the pace of the 
whole six, and coming down the hill it is obvious 
that such speed must ere long tell upon some of them. 
At the turn of the course, the two favourites, Planta¬ 
genet and Takeaway, are the last horses in the race, 
and Polly Popples comes round the corner in front, 
looking very like a winner, but Nelly’s cousin can¬ 
not hope to compete with such artistical horsemen as 
are watching him from behind, knowing far better 
than himself the speed at which he is going, and the 
powers of his animal. f He is in too great a hurry 
to get home/ and disposes of the little mare accord¬ 
ingly, who is passed by the favourites as though she 
were standing still, Plantagenet having come up with 
a tremendous rush when opposite the distance-post, 
closely waited on by the no longer impetuous Fake- 
away. Fifty yards from home Captain Black gets 
at the latter with whip and spurs, nor could a 
Centaur urge his equine half to its utmost speed 
with more perfect sympathy and unison of motion 
than that which exists between Fakeaway and the 
jockey who is coercing him. In vain; he reaches 
Plantagenet’s quarters—his girths—his shoulder—but 
no farther. Mr. Wilson never appears to move a 
muscle, so equably and pliantly does he adapt himself 
to every effort of his horse. His nice judgment of 
pace tells him that he must win; and calmly, as if 
cantering in the park, his body slightly bent forward, 


WON ON THE POST. 


77 


his hands low upon his horsed withers, a quiet smile 
upon his countenance, he glides by the goal, a 
winner by a neck, whilst amongst the plaudits which 
greet his triumph may be heard such expressions 
as the following : f Capital race V — f Beautiful finish V 
— f Perfection of riding V — ‘I win a hundred 
pounds/ 

Although, contrary to my wont, I was neglecting 
the important business of money-making in the ring, 
let it not be supposed that I was by any means idle 
during this and the succeeding races. Far from it; 
with a provident eye to future well-being, I was 
exerting myself to the utmost in making the agree¬ 
able to the wealthy heiress, and bringing to bear all 
my previous experience and fancied knowledge of the 
sex on the unsophisticated Nelly. Strange it is, 
that the man whose heart is in reality untouched by 
her charms, should ever have the greatest facility in 
winning his way to a woman’s good graces, while he 
whose whole soul is bound up in her, finds the very 
intensity of his devotion the greatest obstacle in his 
path. How the latter ponders upon every word he 
might, could, would, or should say, and every con¬ 
struction it can bear, till, in sheer indecision, he finds 
himself confined to the most constrained common¬ 
places, or the most irksome silence, whilst his care¬ 
less rival, liking or admiring no one half as much as 
himself, rattles gaily on through all the gradations of 
lively, agreeable, confidential, and affectionate, till he 


78 


DIGBY GRAND. 


slips into a declaration of love with half the trouble 
it costs the sincere worshipper to ask his goddess to 
‘ drink a glass of wine/ So was it with me; the 
progress I made, when I paused to reflect upon it, 
was positively alarming. As I hied me home to 
Melton for dinner, and reviewed the morning I had 
just spent, I determined that the following day 
should witness my honourable capitulation, and that 
twenty-four hours more should see Digby Grand in 
the fetters of f an engagement*—the accepted suitor 
of the sporting heiress. 

f You must have won a hat-full of money to-day, 
Grand, for I never saw you in such spirits/ remarked 
Maltby to me, as we wended our homeward way in 
company, after an uproarious evening of mirth, wine, 
and jollity; nor could the straightforward Yorkshire 
peer conceive any other cause for wild hilarity than 
contentment of mind produced by successful specu¬ 
lation. Little did he know the feelings of a man 
who, involved in difficulties, and at enmity with 
himself, is fain to snatch at the excitement of the 
passing moment as a means of temporary forgetful¬ 
ness, and whose laughter, even at its merriest, rings all 
the louder for its accompanying strain of secret woe; 
and when I wished him good night, and offered to 
lay him the long odds against a horse he had to run 
on the morrow, my old friend turned away with a 
smile, and gave me credit for being one of the most 
prosperous and happy dogs of his acquaintance. The 


THE CUP AND THE LIP. 


79 


hours of sleep brought oblivion and repose as surely 
as morning brought the daylight and the post. How 
little do we know the influence that the very next 
minute may have on our whole future lives; how do 
we plot, and calculate, and plan, and then just as 
we have arranged everything to a nicety, and are 
congratulating ourselves on our energy, prudence, 
and foresight, the mail train brings down an express, 
or the daily post produces a letter, that upsets all 
our preconceived conclusions, and sweeping away the 
whole foundations upon which we have built, bids us 
start anew, under circumstances we have never before 
contemplated, and in a course of which we are totally 
ignorant. 

As I tied my neckcloth before the glass, in the 
dazzling rays of the morning sun, I felt not more 
sure of my own existence, than that the well-known 
face I saw opposite me was the legitimate pro¬ 
perty of Miss Spinnithorne, about to purchase that 
valuable with sundry goods and personalities, com¬ 
prising farms, tenements, and money in the funds. 
I sat down to breakfast, impressed with the idea 
that I was now about to become a family man, and 
as such must endeavour to maintain a gravity and 
steadiness to which I had hitherto been a stranger, 
and I poured out my first cup of tea, thinking, that 
were it not for the impossibility of Flora ever per¬ 
forming that office on my behalf, I had every reason 
to be satisfied with the position I that day intended 


80 


DIGBY GRAND. 


to assume. Ere that cup of tea was cool, ' a change 
had come o’er the spirit of my dream/ consequent 
upon two letters which I received during my meal. 
The first, short, pithy, and to the purpose, whose 
superscription, ‘ On her Majesty’s service,’ showed 
that it admitted of no compromise, was merely to 
the effect that ‘ the Adjutant was instructed by the 
Commanding Officer to order my attendance, without 
delay, at head-quarters,’ and as such entailed an 
immediate departure for London, and postponement 
of all explanations with my rustic heiress; but the 
second, a voluminous missive from Hillingdon, was 
far more interesting in its nature, as it was more 
important in its ulterior consequences. My friend 
wrote to me in a strain that, even for him, was 
high-flown and imaginative to a degree, while it was 
evident that his letter, eloquent and affectionate as it 
was, must have been dictated by feelings of no com¬ 
mon excitement. He had seen Lavish in London, 
and from him had heard an exaggerated account of 
my positive engagement to Miss Spinnithorne, as 
well as a caricatured description of her person and 
family, with a fabulous detail of her wealth, and 
he now wrote to me, adjuring me by everything I 
regarded as most sacred, to pause before irretrievably 
taking that step which he held in such aversion, to 
wit, marrying for money. Generous and open- 
hearted as he was, he offered to do anything in his 
power that one brother might for another to save me 


TIMELY ADVICE. 


81 


from this union. He proposed an immediate loan, 
which I well knew would swallow up the whole of 
his disposable capital, and offered to become security 
for my liabilities to an amount that would have 
endangered all his remaining property. There was 
no sacrifice which he was not prepared to make 
to save his only friend, as he called me, from so 
degrading a fate, and then he argued nobly and 
chivalrously upon the duties owed by a gentleman 
to society and to himself. f If you are in difficul¬ 
ties/ he wrote, f stand up to them like a man, 
look them boldly in the face, and whatever may 
be the consequences, fight them out to the last. 
For worldly wealth I have, as you know, the utmost 
contempt, therefore, to tell you that you shall com¬ 
mand the last farthing I possess, is no more than you 
have a right to expect; but I should indeed be 
ashamed if I were not ready to sacrifice far more than 
mere money in the cause of my friend. You will 
have to return to town immediately for our Court- 
martial, and let me entreat of you to come to no 
conclusion with this Miss Spinnithorne till you have 
seen me. If you are already committed, draw back, 
do anything but marry her. Better to behave badly 
now than for a life-time ; and whatever may be the 
giiTs present feelings to find herself undeceived, think 
how trifling must be her sorrow now compared to the 
anguish with which she would one day discover, in 
this world or the next, that she had been a victim 
VOL. II. 


G 


82 


DIGBY GRAND. 


for years to tlie imposture of him to whom she had 
given the purest, freshest affections of her heart/ 
Hillingdon went on to say—and this, perhaps, more 
than any other part of his letter had an effect upon 
my determination—that he had seen Miss Belmont 
in London, that she was evidently ignorant of this 
reported marriage, and that she still spoke of me with 
a regard and affection she strove in vain to conceal. 
He concluded with the kindest expressions of interest 
in my welfare, and a repetition of his generous and 
magnificent offer, urging me to come and see him 
immediately on my arrival in town, and declaring he 
should not be comfortable till some arrangements had 
been made to extricate me from my pecuniary annoy¬ 
ances and embarrassments. Painful, too painful was it 
for me to feel, as I perused his warm-hearted letter, 
that breathing, as it did, the sincerest friendship, the 
noblest sentiments, there was yet running through 
the whole of it a strain of exaggerated sensibility, a 
morbid tone of over-excited feeling, which brought to 
my mind, though not for the first time, a startling 
doubt, upon which I had never before allowed myself 
to dwell, as to Hillingdon's sanity. It was too 
dreadful to contemplate. The noble, the generous, 
the true-hearted, and brave—that he, of all others, 
should be the monster's victim !—his glorious intellect 
even now tainted with that spot, which should waste 
and corrode as it spread, till the reasoning creature, 
the image of God upon earth, should become an 


a gentleman’s gentleman. 83 

insensate maniac. Horrible !—Gracious Heaven, 
how horrible! And yet, drive it from my mind 
as I would, ever and anon the dread suspicion flashed 
across me, and sent the life-blood back, thick and 
chilly, to my heart. I determined to see him as 
soon as my military engagements would allow; and 
in return for his brotherly affection, I resolved to 
watch over him with a brother’s care. In the mean 
time, I wrote an excuse to Squire Spinnithorne, with 
whom I had engaged myself to spend a few days at 
his place in Charnwood Forest, with a polite message 
to his daughter, to the effect that nothing but regi¬ 
mental duty would have prevented my attending her 
that day upon the race course, and took my departure 
for London, with many good wishes from St. Heliers’ 
confidential servant, who stayed away from the races 
on purpose to administer the stirrup cup, in the 
shape of a large bumper of cura 5 oa, and to receive 
with due acknowledgments the lucrative compliment 
I tendered him in consideration of being his master’s 
guest. 

This worthy, far different from our old family 
butler, Soames, was an example of a class who have 
now-a-days completely superseded the white-haired, 
corpulent personage who in some few antediluvian 
establishments still appears in black shorts and gold 
knee-buckles, to announce, with becoming tardiness 
and pomposity, that ‘ dinner is served.’ Rapid, 
energetic, and decided—with absolute dominion below 

G 2 


84 


DIGBY GRAND. 


stairs, over everything, except Truffles the cook— 
Mr. Price was qualified by talent and education for 
any office, however arduous, in which honesty was 
not indispensable. Tall, slight, and of middle age, 
he had that quiet and self-reliant air peculiar to his 
own class and sundry subordinate officials who hang 
about the House of Lords. The peerage seemed to 
be his peculiar element; and if his smooth, distinct, 
and respectful tones were addressed to a commoner, 
an occasional f My lord^ would drop insensibly from 
his tongue, as though his communings were usually 
held with personages of that exalted rank. Where 
he had picked up his store of miscellaneous informa¬ 
tion it would be impossible to guess, but, in common 
with his order, he appeared to possess an intuitive 
knowledge, which was never at fault, as to railway 
trains, posting distances, weights of letters, names of 
hotels, and other obscure and uncertain subjects. He 
got the earliest and safest intelligence as to all racing 
transactions, and seldom failed to win a small sum 
upon the chief public events; whilst on political 
matters his information was as accurate as his master, 
with all his confidential correspondence, could receive, 
and was probably obtained through the self-same 
channels. As St. Heliers said, f he was the best 
servant in Loti don, and all the better for being such 
a confounded rascal/ And I must do him the justice 
to say, that his attention to his master could not have 
been greater than that which he showed to his 


HIGH LIFE BELOW-STAIRS. 


85 


master’s guests. However early miglit be his de¬ 
parture, there was an early breakfast prepared for the 
way-farer, and there was Mr. Price, composed and 
respectful as usual, in waiting to preside over his 
arrangements and minister to his wants. Nor was 
this matutinal vigil consequent upon his retirement 
betimes and long night’s rest, as I have myself had 
occasion to witness. For once, when staying with a 
large party for some extraordinary shooting at St. 
Heliers’ old family place, I was interrupted in my 
dinner toilette by Mr. Price’s knock, with a hospitable 
invitation to his party after ( my lord’s’ had concluded. 
c There will be a little dancing this evening in the 
steward’s room, Sir,’ he began, with as matter-of-fact 
an air as if he were announcing my carriage —‘ and 
as there will not be much whist upstairs, and you will 
probably object to retiring so early, we should feel 
highly honoured if you would do us the favour of 
looking in for a few minutes. You must not expect 
much, Sir, but take us quite in the rough, as this is 
entirely an impromptu affair !’ I accepted of course, 
with many acknowledgments, and f galloped,’ f waltzed,’ 
and ‘polkaed,’ with ladies’ maids and other func¬ 
tionaries, in low gowns and satin shoes, till five in the 
morning; whilst f the rough’ of this impromptu 
festivity I found to consist of the best supper Truffles 
could dish up, (which accounted for the dinner that 
day having been less meritorious than usual,) washed 
down by ‘ sweet’ and f dry,’ such as my lord’s gnostic 


86 


DIGBY GRAND. 


guests upstairs had oft pronounced to be the very 
perfection of champagne. So much for Mr. Price, 
who shut me into my postchaise with the most defer¬ 
ential attention, and looked at his watch, while he 
bade the postboy drive on, as though I were not out 
of his care till safely at the termination of my journey. 

Much food had I for reflection, and into many a 
reverie did I drop on my way to the metropolis. 
Flora Belmont and Hillingdon were the subjects upper¬ 
most in my mind, and doubts, scruples and anxieties 
chased each other like clouds across my mental 
atmosphere, as to the course I should pursue with 
regard to Miss Spinnithome. What a deal of trouble 
it would have saved me had I known that in one 
short month from that time the little jilt would marry 
her boorish cousin—that she was even, then eating 
sandwiches out of the same box, and talking with the 
presuming snob about Polly Popples and f Dandy 
Grand/ 


87 


CHAPTER V. 

DEEPEE AND DEEPEE STILL. 

T ARRIVED at my lodgings as the day was closing 
in with a raw chilly spring rain slopping the 
pavement, and bring down f the blacks/ those abori¬ 
gines of the metropolis, so inimical to one fresh from 
the country, in a stream of liquid soot. I was not 
expected, my fire was unlit, my books shut up, my 
pictures covered, and my things not yet unpacked. 
On the table were a host of letters, bills, &c., amonsgt 
which I recognised Hillingdon's well-known hand. 
Alas ! he had been obliged to leave London on duty 
that very afternoon. My regimental order-book, 
open on the table, appeared the only thing that had 
anticipated my coming; and on its rather illegible 
page I read the unwelcome intelligence that I too 
was for duty the following day. Everything appeared 
thoroughly uncomfortable, and for the first time in 
my life I loathed the selfish vie de garqon , and pined 
for the endearments of a home. Whilst my servant 
was getting out my things, I proceeded to open my 
letters, the contents of which filled me with dismay, 


88 


DiGBY GRAND. 


Tradesmen were clamorous for payment, and bills, 
amongst others that to which Tom Spencer had put 
his name, were coming due. A few lines from 
Newmarket told me that Tumbledown Dick was 
lame, and would probably not start for the Derby. 
Pleasant! I had backed him for one hundred pounds 
when at thirty to one, not a farthing of which had I 
hedged. A lawyer’s letter greeted me from one im¬ 
patient creditor, and an intimation from the most 
liberal of bankers that I had considerably overdrawn 
my account, enhanced the inconvenience of the 
hostile missive. As penitent an epistle as I could 
bring myself to write, and which some time pre¬ 
viously had been forwarded to Sir Peregrine was 
returned to me unopened; and altogether I confessed 
myself completely overcome and paralyzed by my 
multifarious difficulties. What was to be done ? 
The present, at any rate, must be cared for, let the 
future bring what it will, and in life’s most stormy 
moments we must dine. I sent my servant down 
to Crockford’s to order my repast while I was 
dressing, whither I jingled after him in an ill-con¬ 
ditioned cab, full of wet straw and damp cushions; 
my own well-appointed vehicle being safely locked up 
in its livery coachhouse, and its attendant functionary 
in all probability escorting some fair acquaintance to 
the play. 

What a mercurial thing is youth ! I never sat 
down to dinner in such low spirits as those which 


AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 


89 


now preyed upon me, yet was I not insensible to the 
cheering influence of the comfortable soft-carpeted 
room, with its blazing fire, so acceptable in spring, 
and its snug tables and well arranged screens. A 
bumper of oily brown sherry poured balm into my 
afflicted soul, and a cutlet such as few ‘ professors' 
could effect, washed down by a pint of iced cham¬ 
pagne, endowed me with a philosophy totally unat¬ 
tainable by the process of reflection on an empty 
stomach. Claret I discarded as a potation only 
suitable to a mind at peace with itself, but a bottle 
of dry old port, somewhat of the strongest, gave a 
warmer colouring to my view of things in general; 
and as I filled my third bumper, in these days of 
small quarts and large glasses, not very far from the 
end of the bottle, I muttered to myself almost 
audibly the encouraging remark, that * I might fight 
through yet/ 

‘Put my coffee down at Captain Grand's table, 
and get some cura£oa/ said a voice at my elbow, 
whose tones I recognised as having been once familiar 
to my ear, and, in another moment, T was cordially 
shaking hands with my old brother-officer, Levanter, 
and comparing notes with him, as to our respective 
movements since we had last met. He was still the 
same good-looking, well dressed man, if anything, 
more prononce in his attire than formerly; but the 
restless, eager expression of his countenance was now 
sharper than ever, and this it was, with a certain 


90 


DIGBY GRAND. 


forward air, as of one who rather assumes than main¬ 
tains his position in society, which prevented his ever 
appearing thoroughly like a gentleman. He had 
left the army for some time, and was now fully occu¬ 
pied in following out the business of the turf—for, 
truth to say, book-making is indeed a business of 
the most laborious kind; and whatever amount of 
capital he might possess was chiefly invested in such 
speculations. He had lately been admitted a mem¬ 
ber of Crockford*s, a proof that the original exclusive¬ 
ness of the club was fast relaxing in its vigilance, for 
there was no denying that Levanter was f bad style/ 
and this equivocal offence knows no forgiveness in 
the suffrages of society. After recapitulating our 
‘ tandem* catastrophe, and other freaks of early life, 
when in the 101st Foot, we became gradually more 
and more confidential as to our present resources 
and pursuits, and whilst I detailed runs in Leicester¬ 
shire, successes at hazard, and triumphs at billiards, 
my companion opened to my astonished view golden 
ways and means, royal roads to wealth and fortune, 
of which, with all my fancied knowledge of the 
world, I had hitherto been totally ignorant. 

f I made two thousand last week, in the funds/ 
said he, with the careless air of a man who tells you 
how many brace of partridges he shot on the 1st; 
f and realized fifteen hundred more by the sale of 
some shares in the Great Unnecessary, and, as I 
have got a ten thousand pound book on the Derby, 


THE SPECULATOR. 


91 


these little windfalls may be useful: but, next year, 
I hope to began on a larger scale, and make a really 
‘ good thing/' 

‘You must have a good deal of capital to work 
upon/ said I, somewhat astounded at the new-born 
magnificence of my friend's ideas. 

‘Not much of that/ he replied, ‘but I never 
throw a chance away : as in speculating, so in bet¬ 
ting, I trust entirely to figures—the only horses that 
always run honest—and, barring bad debts, in which 
I have been tolerably lucky, I never ought to lose. 
Could anything induce me to depart from my rule, 
and back an animal on account of its merits, I 
should this year be tempted to do so. There is a 
horse engaged in the Derby, now at twenty to one, 
that, as far as pace and powers go, is as sure of win¬ 
ning the race as I am of finishing this cup of coffee. 
His name is Oriel; and I can tell you, as a friend, 
of course in the strictest confidence, that he was 
tried with Flat-fish, and beat him as far as he could 
see. But what are you going to do to-night, Grand? 
I remember, of old, you never were given to early 
hours. I am going to Mrs. Man-trapes, for some 
whist, and a chance pool at ecarte. Have you a 
mind to come? She mentioned your name, amongst 
others, whom I was to ask if I happened to meet 
them/ 

So, thought I, either my friend here has got on 
wonderfully in the world, or Mrs. Man-trap must be 


92 


DIGBY GRAND. 


going down hill very fast, if such a second-rater as 
this has the management of her invitations. There 
was a time when I might walk into her house at all 
hours, welcome and unasked; however, I should like 
to see how my old flame wears. IT1 go. Accor¬ 
dingly, I promised to accompany Levanter, only 
stipulating that, as there was sure to be some card¬ 
playing, I should run up stairs for ten minutes, to 
get a little small change. 

Twelve o’clock had struck, the Temple of Chance 
was open, and, in a shorter period than I have 
named, I was by Levanter’s side, in his quiet, dark- 
coloured brougham, with a fifty-pound note in my 
waistcoat pocket, the product of three timely f sevens,’ 
that, unlike Glendower’s spirits, came ‘ when I did 
call for them.’ 

f My dear Grand, I am so charmed to see you!’ 
exclaimed our hostess, as I went up to make my 
bow, on my arrival, accosting me with as much easy 
good-humoured indifference as though we had ‘ never 
met and never parted.’ f I thought you w r ere at 
Melton; how good of Levanter to bring you. He 
always comes to my Thursday-nights, and so must 
you.’ I bowed my acknowledgments, and turned 
round to take a view of the company, and obtain 
some slight insight into Mrs. Man-trap’s Thursday 
nights. The well-known rooms were brilliant with 
lamp-light, and gorgeous with flowers; the faint 
tinge of the light-coloured walls, with the rich dark 


MRS. MAN-TRAP L AT HOME.’ 


93 


carpet, served admirably to set off rose-tinted dra¬ 
peries and motley furniture, dotted here and there 
with red. There were more fanciful ornaments, 
more Sevres china, than ever; whilst, from the dis¬ 
tant conservatory, forming another well-lighted re¬ 
treat, came the subdued sounds of a self-playing 
pianoforte, just sufficiently distinct to encourage con¬ 
versation, not too loud to interrupt whist. But the 
company was of a different grade from that which 
I had been used to meet, in former days, in these 
brilliant apartments. The ladies were more dressed, 
more rouged; laughed louder, and looked bolder, than 
is customary in English society, and, in truth, there 
were several foreigners amongst that talkative throng; 
whilst the men—German barons, French counts, and 
disreputable adventurers of our own nation—were 
engaged at the different games they played with an 
affectation of extreme carelessness, which savours of 
that dexterity over which fortune has no control. 
Not a man or woman of them all but had some 
f history/ not entirely redounding to the individual's 
credit, attached to him or her; and could the life of 
the hostess have been written by herself, it would not 
have been the least extraordinary amongst the assem¬ 
blage. I turned to look at her, as she moved from 
one circle to another, with a smile and jest for each, 
and was shocked to observe the ravages that time 
and anxiety had made upon the once handsome Mrs. 
Man-trap. That is the worst of your good-looking 


94 


DIGBY GRAND. 


women of a certain age, who seem to preserve their 
beauty beyond its natural term only that it may go 
all at once. With them one season does all the mis¬ 
chief that it has taken ten years* pains to avert; 
and the less gradual the process of decay, the more 
startling are its unwelcome effects. Mrs. Man-trap 
was now a haggard old woman; at a distance, she 
still preserved something of that captivating air which, 
with all her dashing style, had once been her most 
dangerous weapon, but upon a nearer approach, the 
charm was completely dispelled: thecheeks were sunken, 
the eyes hollowed, the features sharpened and care¬ 
worn, and the sunny hair grown poor and thin. Dress 
might still conceal the altered outlines of her form, hut 
the projecting collar-bone, the shrunk and wasted 
hands,told a different tale. Still she seemed in buoyant 
spirits, which, if forced, were admirably assumed for 
the occasion; nor was it until I saw her wholly 
absorbed in the excitement of a game at ecarte , on 
which she had staked a considerable sum, that I 
could perceive, in undisguised reality, the haggard 
change that had overtaken her person and features. 
I had not, however, much time for observation, as I 
soon found myself set down to a party at whist, 
consisting of my friend Carambole, whom I w r as 
somewhat surprised to see here, a French countess, 
and an Irish major, one of the most scientific players 
it has ever been my fortune to meet. Carambole 
and I were partners, and as is usually the case 


A HAND AT £ CARTE. 


95 


between English and French players of high calibre, 
misunderstood each other's game, and were, conse¬ 
quently, unable to make any head against the good 
cards which fortune lavished so liberally upon the 
hands of our adversaries, more especially when it 
chanced to be the Countess's deal. The Major, 
having won two rubbers, thought proper to retire, 
as I learnt from Carambole was his invariable custom; 
and I found myself, though sorely against my will, 
obliged to sit down and play ecarte against the clever 
Frenchwoman. She certainly was pretty and 
piquante, though no longer in the freshness of youth, 
and I submitted, with as good a grace as I could 
assume, to be despoiled by the lively gambler, 
inwardly resolving to take my departure as soon as 
my fifty pounds, considerably lessened already, 
should be entirely swallowed up. It chanced that 
my fair antagonist was possessed of a beautiful hand, 
whose taper fingers she scorned to set off by the 
adventitious aid of jewellery, and, whenever she 
dealt, I found my eyes so fascinated by the charms 
of this unadorned member, that I could not withdraw 
my admiring gaze from its pliant movements. It 
was some time before I perceived that such mute 
homage on my part was extremely embarrassing to 
its object: she coughed, she blushed, even through 
her rouge, she changed her position, and seemed ill 
at ease, whilst the game proceeded with no remark¬ 
able vicissitude, but, either from better luck or superior 


96 


DIGBY GRAND. 


skill, with a decided tendency in my favour. This 
was a state of things unaccountable as it was 
unlooked-for: but, as it was not my part to complain 
of the smiles of fortune, I went on playing unsus¬ 
piciously enough. Presently a French gentleman, 
with whom I had not the honour of being acquainted, 
came and stood behind my chair, expressing his 
admiration at my science, and requesting permission 
to observe my play. Of course I acquiesced most 
politely; but, though young in years and appearance, 
I was not quite such a fool as I looked, and this last 
manoeuvre put my attention on the qui vive. I had 
heard of fingers being placed to foreheads, and looks 
and glances interchanged with affected carelessness, 
to telegraph from some interested on-looker to the 
proposing player the most judicious number to be 
demanded, and I determined that my anxious 
Countess should have no such assistance as this 
without remark. I accordingly called to Carambole, 
who was lounging about the room, and begged him 
to hand me a glass of iced-water, at the same time, 
by a rapid sign, drawing his attention to the sharper 
looking over my shoulder. The quick-witted French¬ 
man took my meaning instantaneously, and placing 
himself behind the Countess, begged permission to 
look over her hand, and bet upon the game. The 
lady declared it made her nervous to have any one 
studying her cards, and Carambole then placed 
himself on one side of the table, still fixing his eyes 


A GAME OF SKILL. 


97 


upon his countryman, so as to watch his every motion. 
The Countess was now getting almost hysterical: the 
pretty hand shook, and the thin lips were compressed 
with anger and vexation. It was evident the con¬ 
federates were completely checkmated; my unwitting 
admiration of the pliant fingers had given their 
conscious owner reason to suspect that she was 
watched, and had effectually prevented that accus¬ 
tomed sleight-of-hand by 'which the practised dealer 
commands the timely assistance of a king, whilst 
Carambole’s ready aid had counteracted the stratagems 
of her ally, and disappointed her of the golden har¬ 
vest generally yielded by the game of ecarte to her 
dexterous arrangements. Pleading a head-ache, she 
rose from the table, paying my winnings, after all of 
inconsiderable amount, with a very bad grace, and, 
retiring to the room where supper was laid out, con¬ 
soled herself, like a genuine Frenchwoman, with cold 
chicken and champagne. I made my how to Mrs. 
Man-trap, perfectly satisfied with what I had seen of 
her ‘ Thursday nights/ and strolled off with Caram- 
bole, talking, as we perfumed the midnight air with 
our cigars, of the scene we had just quitted, the 
equivocal position of our hostess, and the disreputable 
set of people she seemed to have congregated about 
her. 

f Shall we look in at Meadowses ?’ said my com¬ 
panion, as we passed the lamp-lit portals of that 
establishment. f I have lost at weest/ as he called 


YOL. II. 


H 


98 


DIGBY GRAND. 


the noble game, sacred to Hoyle and Major A. ‘ I 
always lose at Mrs. Man-trapes Thursday nights/ 
f Agreed/ said I, f my fortune must be in the 
ascendant, to have escaped unhurt from the little 
Countess and her lynx-eyed friend: Carambole, my 
jolly punter ! I feel as if I should throw in/ With 
these words we passed the folding doors, that swung 
smooth and invitingly on their noiseless hinges, and 
fearlessly approached the iron barrier, from which, 
through a narrow and pigmy hole, one vigilant eye 
was watching our approach. Alas! well known 
were we as any policeman on the beat, and far more 
welcome. The iron barrier opens, as of its own 
accord, and the sleepless warder greets us with a 
deferential bow, as old and valued customers. A 
flight of broad well-carpeted steps brings us into a 
large supper-room, whose long table is crowded with 
delicacies, and glittering with plate, Mr. Meadows 
himself, bland, middle-aged and gentlemanlike, presses 
upon us the various good things so handsomely pro¬ 
vided, and, touching cautiously upon the general 
topics of the day, refrains from any ill-timed allusions 
to the business of the evening. In the next room 
the box is rattling, and, unlike Crockford's, the odour 
of cigar-smoke reaches us even at the supper-table. 
Meadows ushers us politely into his temple, and 
furnishes the sinews of war, with the same stately 
courtesy with which he proffers materials for writing 
the necessary cheque. I take my seat between a 


A TEMPLE OF CHANCE. 


99 


cornet in the Blues and a brother guardsman, Caram- 
bole being accommodated with a chair opposite to me. 
The proprietor, still careful of our comforts, supplies 
us with cigars and huge tumblers of brandy and 
soda-water. An Indian officer, tanned by a tropical 
sun, and rejoicing in huge black mustachios, with a 
Mahratta sabre-cut upon his brow, has just thrown 
out with a continuance of that bad luck which has 
dogged him since he arrived at Southampton. Poor 
fellow ! he will have to return to those scorching 
climes long before his well-earned leave has expired. 
A rich young Jew, apeing the fast man about town, 
but betraying his Hebrew origin in his tawdry attire 
and profuse jewellery as unmistakeably as in his 
prominent features and peculiar carriage, rolls the 
box to me, disgusted at the futile f deuce-ace* which 
stands revealed to mulct him of his ten-pound set; 
and, drawing my gloves on tight, with a presentiment 
of triumph, I call a fortunate number, and begin. 
All games at hazard are alike in detail, however 
different they may be in their effects; and, after a 
night of morbid excitement, repressed agitation, and 
false merriment, spent in a stifling atmosphere, 
Carambole and I walked into the fresh morning 
dawn, now gilding the chimney-pots of Albemarle- 
street, under the congratulations and good wishes of 
the urbane Mr. Meadows, from whom we had won, 
between us, nearly eleven hundred pounds. 

A few such nights as this, a few more turns of 

H 2 


100 


DIGBY GRAND. 


that extraordinary luck which, despite of daily proof 
and experience, the worshipper of fortune persists in 
considering as his own peculiar property, and I should 
have been again placed above all pecuniary care 
and anxiety. But who ever heard of a gambler's 
prosperity outliving the eight-and-forty hours in 
which it blossoms, blooms, and withers? Like 
the f mirage' of the desert, which tempts the thirsty 
traveller to struggle on and die, so are these 
fitful gleams of success vouchsafed by the demon of 
play to lure his victim farther and farther into the 
toils, till there is no retreat, and come what may, 
the wretch is irretrievably his own. The next night 
I returned to Meadows's, and lost; the following 
night I played desperately at Crockford's—and lost. 
And so night after night, sometimes more, sometimes 
less, till the hope of success, as it grew more faint 
in reality, haunted me more and more in fancy, till 
I found myself thinking when awake and dreaming 
when asleep of the chances and changes of the 
hazard-table only. In vain Hillingdon—himself, 
alas, too deeply enthralled by its fascinations— 
warned me against this absorbing love of play. In 
vain my brother officers argued, and Colonel Gran- 
dison admonished. I was deaf to entreaty, and 
scorned advice. My difficulties soon arrived at such 
a pitch, that my only hope of extricating myself 
was by making an enormous coup some night, at 
Crockford's, and breaking the bank. With this 


THE PACE IMPROVES. 


101 


fallacious trust I struggled on, getting deeper and 
deeper into the mire, every ill-omened defeat only 
adding to the embarrassments created by its prede¬ 
cessors, and still the hour of victory never arrived. 
I began to shun the society of my regiment— 
always a sign that there is ‘something wrong/— 
and to live entirely with Levanter and his set, men 
of desperate fortunes, no character, and habits like 
my own. I discontinued all my former amusements 
and pursuits, systematically avoided the company of 
ladies, and spent my mornings at the Red House 
shooting pigeons, my afternoons over the billiard- 
table, and my nights at Crockford’s—or worse still, 
the minor gambling houses. Even whist lost its 
charms; the return was far too slow for a man 
living at the railroad-pace which threatened so soon 
to finish my career, and the tedious process of 
dealing, sorting, and playing the cards, appeared a 
sad waste of time to one who spent every day as if 
there was no to-morrow. By dint of constant 
excitement I continued to shut my eyes to the 
perils which hourly environed me, and taking no 
note of the flight of time, stupified myself into 
forgetfulness of engagements daily becoming due, 
and liabilities which would admit of no compromise. 
Amongst the many bills which were at that time 
what is technically termed f out/ and which, adorned 
by my name, cumbered the money market; that 
one alone for which Tom Spencer had so generously 


102 


DIGBY GRAND. 


made himself liable gave me certain qualms of con¬ 
science, as the period of its redemption drew near. 
I continued, however, for a time, to stave off so 
disagreeable a reflection till forcibly reminded that 
the day was already past, by a hasty note which I 
received one evening, when dressing for dinner, from 
my omniscient friend, Mr. Price. How the valet 
got his intelligence it would be impossible to ascer¬ 
tain ; but that it seemed to be of a nature on which 
he himself placed implicit reliance appeared from 
the following note, written with a steel pen, and 
sealed, evidently in haste, with a fox's head:— 

‘ Honoured Sir,—— 

f I take the liberty of informing you, as you have 
been looked after these two days past. A party has 
been inquiring your address at my Lord's, and like¬ 
wise in St. James's Street, but, at five o'clock this 
afternoon, had failed of discovering it. I was only 
informed of it this day, or should have taken the 
liberty of letting you know. Honoured Sir,—It is 
concerning a bill of Mr. Shadrach's; and young 
Mr. Spencer, he is likewise in trouble, as I under¬ 
stand. If I might venture to advise, Sir, I should 
recommend leaving town for a few days, as occurred 
to Capt. Lavish, last spring. 

‘ I remain, honoured Sir, 

f Your obedient Servant, 

f William Prtce.' 


A WORD OF WARNING. 


103 


Keeping a sharp look out up and down the street 
as I jumped into my cab, I drove hurriedly down to 
Crockford's, where I had appointed to dine with 
Levanter, and stating the whole case to him, as a 
man experienced in such difficulties, consulted him 
as to the best course to be pursued. By his 
advice, I wrote a note to his own lawyer, a gentle¬ 
man versed in dilemmas of this nature, and begged 
him to endeavour to make such arrangements as 
would enable me to appear again in a day or two 
without fear of arrest, and then dispatched a line to 
Colonel Grandison, requesting a few days' leave, on 
f urgent private affairs/ ‘ Having made that all 
right/ said Levanter, 'send your servant home to 
pack up your things, and let him bring them here 
immediately; order your cab to be in waiting 
opposite White's from eleven till twelve o'clock. 
You and I will dine here, and whilst the harpies are 
watching for you ' over the way,' slip quietly off to 
Limmer's in my Brougham—sleep there, and start 
to-morrow morning by the first train for Downlands, 
where I am going at any rate on some racing 
business. There is a farm-house on the Down, 
where I put up when I am in the neighbourhood, as 
it is near the training stables, and where you will be 
very comfortable for a day or two—the country air 
will do you good, and you will get capital butter and 
cream besides seeing ‘ Oriel' go by your window 
twice a week, in his long gallops.' ‘ So be it,' said I ; 


104 


DIGBY GRAND. 


‘ I put myself into your hands, Levanter; only I 
do hope and trust you and your lawyer will make 
my term of exile as short as possible, for this is not 
exactly the season of the year to be doing the rural 
in an east wind on a chalky soil/ Our plan of 
escape was carried out as successfully as it had been 
craftily devised. Whether or not the stratagem of 
placing my cabriolet at the door of White’s was 
required in consequence of the enemy’s vigilance, I 
have never been able to ascertain; but we reached 
our quarters for the night without delay or interrup¬ 
tion, and having got over the difficulty of a start at 
day-break the following morning, we found ourselves 
at noon, with a fearful appetite for breakfast, safely 
domiciled in the farm-house before mentioned, con¬ 
suming poached eggs, broiled ham, and home-made 
bread, faster than all the zeal and energy of a 
cherry-cheeked serving maiden could supply us. 
Levanter was to return to town by that night’s 
train, and accordingly, after our huge repast, we 
repaired without delay to the stables in which he 
was so much interested. It was a real spring day, 
not the raw, changeable apology for that delightful 
season with which, in the absence of its reality, we 
are often fain to content ourselves in this sea-girt 
isle; but a glorious, soft, balmy afternoon, enriched 
by sunshine and mellowed by clouds, with its south 
wind, fragrant as though it had, indeed, been f steal¬ 
ing over a bed of violets,’ and its whole atmosphere 


A TRAINING GROUND. 


105 


redolent of perfume, filled with warmth, and moisture, 
and growth. As we strolled leisurely along, the 
usual cigar of course between our lips, we looked 
over an expanse of hill and dale, wood, water, and 
meadow-land, such as in no other country than our own 
could have greeted our admiring gaze. In the vale, 
the perfection of cultivation had but added to the 
natural beauties of the picturesque and well-wooded 
landscape, whilst the wild and open downs, relieved 
by stately clumps of fir trees, and dotted by distant 
sheep, stretched far into the horizon, till their hazy 
outline melted away in the sunny atmosphere. It was 
a day and a scene to elevate the mind far above the 
petty strife, the unworthy ambition, the childish 
anxieties, and uncalled-for cares constituting that 
existence which we dignify by the title of Life—to 
remind us by its occasional presence that we have 
something in common with a nobler and purer race of 
Beings than the toiling drudges of this nether world. 
From the pure and fragrant atmosphere, from the 
dancing sunlight, and the freshening breeze, we stepped 
into Mr. Nobbler’s well-filled and well-arranged train¬ 
ing stables, and the change of thought and feelings was 
as instantaneous as that of the very air we breathed. 
Without, we could almost fancy that we belonged to 
a higher state of existence, that, in common with 
the angels, we were privileged to enjoy the gladden¬ 
ing smiles of heaven; within, we were brought 
down at once to the consciousness that, jostling and 


106 


DIGBY GRAND. 


struggling with our fellow worms in their grovelling 
pursuits, we were of the earth earthy. 

‘ Your servant, sir/ said Mr. Nobbier, acknow¬ 
ledging with an air of respectful assurance my 
introduction to him by my knowing friend. 'Would 
you like to take a little refreshment after your jour¬ 
ney, before seeing the horses V and, on our declining 
his hospitable offer, he proceeded to show us through 
his long range of stabling, answering our questions 
and supplying us with information in a manner so 
affable and communicative as to fill me with asto¬ 
nishment. Talk of the secrets of a racing-stable, 
and the mysteries of the turf; everything here was 
as open as the day. Animals of priceless value were 
stripped for my inspection, whom I had heretofore 
only seen concealed in hoods and swathed in clothing 
on a public race-course, or flying towards the goal 
at a speed that made it difficult to establish the 
identity of the favourite as he shot past. Legs, 
whose infirmity if ascertained a few short months 
ago would have been worth a mine of gold, were 
now proffered freely to my sight and touch, if, after 
an assurance that he was 'perfectly quiet/ not over- 
satisfactorily confirmed by the precautionary muzzle 
and defensive stick with which the boy who looked 
after him armed himself before venturing to the 
docile creature^s head, I chose to go up to him in 
his stall. Engagements were anticipated, perform¬ 
ances recapitulated, and capabilities discussed, with a 


A ‘DARK HORSE . 7 


107 


candour and openness that left nothing to be asked 
or surmised; though when I came to arrange in my 
own mind and to reflect upon the stores of miscella¬ 
neous information I had gathered from Mr. Nobbier, 
I could not charge my memory with his having supplied 
me with a single fact by which I could put a shilling 
into my pocket on the race-course or in the ring. 
Levanter’s business was soon concluded, nor did I 
think it my province to inquire as to its tendency; 
and after we had gone through the whole range of 
buildings, and reviewed in succession promising two- 
year-olds, racing-looking colts, and likely fillies, with 
here and there a maturer flyer, that our oracular 
guide pronounced to be ‘more than smart/ we 
stopped at the door of a box, into which I was not 
admitted till after a whisper had been interchanged 
between Mr. Nobbier and f the captain/ as he called 
Levanter, the former merely remarking, in an off¬ 
hand kind of manner, * That’s Oriel, by Eastnor, 
engaged in the Derby; would you like to see him 
stripped ?’ 

The name struck me in a moment, and from sheer 
curiosity I proceeded to examine this dark three- 
year-old with more attention than I had bestowed 
on any of his predecessors. He was a long, narrow, 
and extremely deep horse, with a short neck, plain 
head, and lop ears, by no means a beauty, but with 
extraordinary points for speed, as was testified by his 
fine oblique shoulder, and peculiar length of quarters. 


108 


DIGBF GRAND. 


though spoiled to the eye by their singularly droop¬ 
ing outline, and the low setting-on of his tail. His 
legs were of iron, and, like his feet, calculated to 
stand any severity of training; whilst his round 
body, and apparently sluggish disposition, made it 
probable that such preparation would be required. 

All this I saw at a glance, and yet, somehow, I 
did not fancy him; and my first impression was one 
of disappointment that this should be the e Oriel* of 
whom Levanter had so high an opinion. 

Nor did my companions seek to enhance my 
admiration by any comments of their own, as, be¬ 
yond a dry remark of Mr. Nobbier*s, to the effect 
that ‘ he was doing good work/ received by Levanter 
in solemn silence, not another syllable was said about 
this mysterious steed, and no wretched f plater/ 
doomed to drag out his leg-weary existence in run¬ 
ning eternal heats at one country meeting after 
another, could have been shut up, and left to the 
enjoyment of his setting-muzzle, with greater coolness 
than was this dangerous ‘outsider.* Mr. Nobbier 
provided us with a most sumptuous luncheon in his 
comfortable dwelling, where silver forks and old 
sherry in the dining-room, with books of beauty and 
gilt-edged albums in Mrs. Nobbler*s drawing-room, 
bore witness to the general success of the owner*s 
speculations. 

Levanter started for London by the evening train, 
and I was left undisturbed to my reflections, in the 


UNDER A CLOUD. 


109 


old farmhouse in which I was to spend this the first 
night of my exile. The two rooms which Levanter 
had selected and retained as his own peculiar retreat, 
were comfortably furnished, and abounded with such 
literature as might be supposed most in accordance 
with the taste of the occupier. Sporting magazines 
and general stud-books loaded his shelves, whilst 
consecutive copies of the Racing Calendar littered 
his table. Sundry works on training and veterinary 
treatment were scattered here and there, as if on 
constant duty for reference and consultation; nor 
was the science of computation neglected amongst 
his studies, for I came upon a very curious little 
treatise on algebra, professing to simplify its abstruse 
rules, and to apply them to the every-day purposes 
of calculation. Levanter has since told me that this 
little volume was of unspeakable service to him in 
his complicated betting transactions. A backgammon 
board and dice box completed the furniture of the 
apartment; but, alas ! these were not available as a 
pastime without the assistance of at least one more 
individual; nor was the literature, though doubtless 
extremely useful, and in itself intrinsically valuable, 
of a kind that could exactly be called light reading. 

Bored I confess I was, most completely, and 
doing as I believe every one does under similar 
circumstances, I ordered some tea, and went to bed. 
A whole dreary week did I remain in my hiding- 
place, my chief amusements consisting in taking 


110 


DIGBY GRAND. 


fatiguing walks over all the surrounding country, 
cultivating an intimacy with Mr. Nobbier, and 
seeing Oriel striding away in his long severe gallops, 
every day convincing me more and more that I had 
never beheld such a horse, and that if ‘make and 
shape/ and what is technically termed ‘form/ were 
to go for anything, he was as sure of winning the 
Derby as if the race were already over. 


Ill 


CHAPTER VI. 


STANDING TO WIN, 


EARISOME and never-ending as the week 



" ’ appeared, its monotony was at length broken 
in upon, disagreeably enough, by a letter which I 
received from Levanter's lawyer, and by which, 
although it put a period to my exile, I was horror- 
struck to learn that Tom Spencer had been arrested 
at Oxford for the fatal bill to which he had so 
inconsiderately put his name. Although, as my 
correspondent remarked, with business-like sang 
froid, ‘ this would much facilitate arrangements for 
my speedy return to town, there being no doubt that 
Mr. Spencer or his friends would immediately liqui¬ 
date the liability, it made me miserable to think of 
the consequences to Tom's success at the University, 
and future prospects in life, with which this ill-timed 
arrest would be fraught. I determined, at all 
hazards, to return to London, even before the period 
assigned by my legal adviser, and to do anything 
and everything that was possible, at any sacrifice, to 
avert from my generous friend the misfortunes which 


112 


DIGBY GRAND. 


I had brought upon his head. But I could not 
possibly start before the following day, as the next 
morning was to witness an event on which I fondly 
hoped my future prosperity and my very ability 
to make some amends to Tom Spencer, were to 
depend. 

A private trial was to come off at day-break, 
between f Oriel’ and the f King of Diamonds/ a 
recent purchase for this express purpose, and, from 
the certainty already arrived at as to the f King’s’ 
powers when opposed to other horses, now favourites 
for the race, Oriel’s chance of winning the coming 
Derby might be tested to a nicety. The time I had 
spent, and the pains I had taken, in ingratiating 
myself with Mr. Nobbier, had not been thrown 
away; flattered by my attentions and pleased with 
my loudly-expressed admiration of his f flyer,’ he had 
taken me entirely into his confidence, stating openly 
his own opinion, that c Oriel ’ was the fastest horse 
he had ever trained, inviting me to be present at the 
forthcoming trial, which should decide positively on 
his presumed merits, and advising me strongly, 
should the contest end as we anticipated, to lose no 
time in f getting on ’ at the long odds,’ before the 
capital invested by himself and his party on their 
favourite should bring him up in the betting. 

Little need had I of being called at dawn on the 
eventful morning, for hardly a wink of sleep did I 
enjoy during the night, as I lay planning and re- 


A PEEP-O’-DAY TRIAL. 


113 


volving my future proceedings in my own mind. I 
was up and dressed by candle-light, and ere the 
earliest cock had proclaimed to the denizens of the 
farm that it was day-break, I was already upon the 
Down. The weather was thick and hazy, with a 
drizzling rain, and, at that early period of the day, 
the silence seemed almost supernatural. Not a soul 
did I meet, as I toiled up the gradual ascent that 
led to the trial-ground, save one old gentleman in 
green spectacles, habited as a clergyman of the Esta¬ 
blished Church, and, as I surmised, probably some 
valetudinarian, to whom walking exercise in the 
morning air had been prescribed. I took but little 
notice of him, and, on mentioning the circumstance 
to Mr. Nobbier, who soon arrived with his myrmi¬ 
dons, was amused at the anxiety depicted in his jolly 
countenance, as he expressed a wish that ‘the old 
cove mightnT be a tout after all/ However, the 
fog being by this time dispersed, and the clerical 
interloper nowhere to be seen, we proceeded to the 
business in hand, of which it is sufficient to say, 
that ‘ Oriel* fully answered the expectations we had 
of him, and that having given the ‘ King of Diamonds ’ 
the advantage of seven pounds in weight, he likewise 
accommodated him with a beating of nearly one 
hundred yards, old ‘ True Blue/ who was put in as a 
third performer, to insure the accuracy of the run¬ 
ning, coming in exactly as we anticipated, three 
lengths behind the trial-horse. 

YOL. II. 


I 


114 


DIGBY GRAND. 


This was conclusive. I jumped on a thorough¬ 
bred hack of the trainer’s, was at the station in the 
nick of time to catch the ‘ morning express/ and 
found myself in London at one p.m., charged with a 
budget of intelligence for Levanter, and determined 
to go down that afternoon to Tatter sail’s, and make 
or mar my fortunes by backing f Oriel/ till my book 
was full. As I got out of the train, at the Metro¬ 
politan terminus, I was surprised to recognise in one 
of my fellow-passengers the identical clergyman in 
green spectacles whom I had met that very morning 
on the Down : but my astonishment was still greater 
when the carriages were opened, and I beheld the 
reverend valetudinarian run familiarly up to an indi¬ 
vidual in the full professional attire of a butcher, 
and walk away with him arm in arm. The seeming 
inconsistency explained itself ere I was many hours 
older; for on making my appearance at Tattersall’s 
that same afternoon, and putting forth a ‘ feeler’ or 
two as to the state of the market, by offers to back 
f Oriel’ in small sums, I was disgusted to find that I 
had been forestalled, and that six and seven to one 
was the most that could be got about him. So, 
seeing I could do no better, I booked two very large 
bets at those odds. And this proceeding having the 
natural effect of driving him up still further, I left 
the subscription room to consult with Levanter as 
to the course to be pursued. It was evident that 
other eyes than mine must have witnessed that morn- 


THE SCIENCE OF c TOUTING.’ 


115 


ing’s trial; and I was now satisfied that my elderly 
and respectable friend who evinced such a partiality 
for exercise at peep-of-day, must have been the 
emissary of some crafty speculator, catering for his 
employer in a disguise the least of all likely to excite 
suspicion. Many and deep were the councils held 
by Levanter and myself as to the best means of 
hood-winking the public on the merits of our horse. 

I say 'ours/ as I believe Levanter was a part 
proprietor, but the actual ownership always remained 
a mystery. It was needless to bewail our want of 
caution on the important morning, nor is it in the 
power of any human being to ensure privacy on an 
open down, in a matter which requires its secrets to 
be kept by at least half-a-dozen people, although 
the information, sometimes at the disposa of gentle¬ 
men, has occasionally forestalled even the rapid 
movements and cat-like vigilance of a professional 
' tout/ 

To instance the wheels within wheels by which 
turf affairs are regulated, I will merely mention a 
case I know to be a fact, in which the generalship of 
a well-known sporting militaire, himself the soul of 
honour, but with an intellect and acumen that craft 
might in vain endeavour to baffle or elude, com¬ 
pletely forestalled the whole arrangements of his 
unconscious adversary. His trainer, then in the 
north of Yorkshire, received a letter from his em¬ 
ployer desiring him to postpone a trial for the fol- 

I 2 


116 


DIGBY GRAND. 


lowing reasons—which show the minuteness of the 
intelligence his arrangements enabled him to receive, 
and his implicit reliance on their accuracy. ‘ An 
individual will leave London/ so said his letter, f by 
the six o'clock train, to-morrow morning, and will 
arrive at your station about dusk. He will be 
dressed in a white macintosh cloak, a hat with crape 
round it, and a red comforter round his neck, and is 
a short, thin man, marked with the small-pox. He 
will put up at the Queen's Head, and will be on the 
moor to-morrow morning, looking attentively at the 
different strings of horses. His object is to see 
Backslider tried against Nonsuch. Let the horses 
both go out and gallop, but on no account try them 
till the following morning when the coast will be 
clear, as the individual mentioned must be back at 
Newmarket by the middle of that day.' This is 
pretty minute information, not only as to the dress 
and appearance of an enemy's scout, but likewise as 
to his object, his habits, and his intended move¬ 
ments; nor, had we possessed the campaigning skill 
of the gentleman who wrote the above letter, should 
we have allowed the seeming churchman thus to steal 
a march upon us. However, it was too late to re¬ 
pine, and the only thing now to be done was, if pos¬ 
sible, to counteract the damage we had already 
sustained by the premature publication of Oriel's 
extraordinary qualities. Many were the plans sug¬ 
gested, and various the stratagems proposed; some, 


L PULLED UP LAME.’ 


117 


I am ashamed to say, involving a total sacrifice of all 
principles of honour and honesty, and one after another 
was cast aside as ill-judged or impossible, when acci¬ 
dent bestowed upon us that which all our endeavours 
were striving in vain to effect. After an unusually 
severe and protracted gallop, Oriel pulled up lame !— 
dead lame ! there was no doubt or compromise about 
it—the horse could hardly put his foot to the ground. 
Levanter and I started for our old quarters the fol¬ 
lowing morning, and after a visit of inspection to the 
sufferer, returned to town, having decided upon the 
course to be pursued. The injury was trifling, 
though its effects at the time had an alarming ap¬ 
pearance; a slight concussion of the hoof, owing to 
an inefficient shoe, was the whole extent of the 
damage; and the chances were that a week would 
see him as well as ever—it wanted three of the race 
—his actual chance would not suffer the slightest 
diminution, except in public opinion, and now was 
the time to strike while the iron was hot. 

Levanter was far too well versed in his craft to 
allow the matter to ooze out except by the most im¬ 
perceptible degrees. On the contrary, the lameness 
was kept a profound secret, and like all other such 
mysteries, was known to at least a hundred people. 
Down went c Oriel* in the betting as rapidly as he 
had come up. His principal backer making one 
affected attempt to stop his decline by investing on 
him, in small sums, at ten to one. The Ring, in its 


118 


DIGBY GRAND. 


astuteness, thought this was nothing but a manoeuvre 
to throw dust in their eyes, and keep the horse at 
moderate odds, until his friends could get out else¬ 
where; and like a river dammed up only to burst 
over the insufficient restraint with greater fury, the 
tide of his unpopularity set in with redoubled force 
after this seeming check, so well timed for the 
ulterior object in view. Twelve to one—fifteen to 
one—twenty to one offered about ‘ Oriel/ and no 
takers—they laid against him as if he was dead. 
At length one giant speculator opened his mouth in 
earnest, and offered to stake thirty to one against 
the colt by Eastnor winning the Derby. This was 
the moment for the tide to be ‘ taken at the flood/ 
My time was come, and pulling out my book, I 
‘ shot* him at once in hundreds. ‘ Do it again. 
Captain/ said a little man at my elbow, and his 
name likewise stood on the dexter side of my ledger. 
Levanter was busy at the further end of the room, 
and one or two shrewd old hands took the hint and 
followed suit. Over-eager adversaries began to look 
as if they thought they had been in too great a 
hurry—it was evident there would soon be a panic 
the other way. I f got offi everything I could, and 
ere I closed my book was glad to take six to one 
about the mysterious animal. Not for a moment 
did I dream of hedging. I had resolved to stand 
or fall with f Oriel/ and I backed him for all, and 
more than all that I was worth in the world. 


THE LONG ODDS. 


119 


Uninitiated perusers of the morning journals were 
somewhat puzzled next day when, in the sporting 
columns of their respective oracles they saw a para¬ 
graph to the effect ‘ that in consequence of rumours 
about ( Oriel/ he gradually dropped from six and 
seven to one, till twenty and thirty went a begging. 
At these odds, however, he appeared to find friends, 
and his rise was, if possible, more sudden than his 
downfal; since such was the opinion apparently en¬ 
tertained of him by his backers, that he left off at 
five, and even four to one taken freely, and became, 
in consequence, f first favourite* for the great event/ 
Elderly gentlemen versed in the fluctuations of the 
funds and the intricacies of the money-market, 
pored in vain over the problem, for which they 
could find no readier solution than that ( it was some 
rascality connected with these racing people / whilst 
young would-be turfites explained to their horrified 
mammas the various ups and downs connected with 
the betting-ring, and the way in which money was to 
be made by a judicious use of its constant changes, 
a method of gain which nothing could convince the 
unsophisticated old ladies was f anything but cheating, 
after all/ The important day drew near, and our 
horse, now completely sound, rapidly recovered his 
previous condition. We were sanguine, and justly so, 
as to his success, nor were care and caution wanting on 
our part to ensure his triumph. Vigilant policemen 
and trustworthy servants prevented the possibility of 


120 


DIGBY GRAND. 


any tricks being played with him. Levanter slept in 
his stable, and compelled the lad who gave the horse 
his water himself to drink off a quart of the uninvit¬ 
ing fluid, ere he proffered it to the brute he served, 
lest f there should be poison in the bowl/ A f bril¬ 
liant and numerous staffs attended him on his transit 
to Epsom, and a stable, secured like a jeweller’s shop, 
was provided for his occupation. I was continually 
on the move, paying him flying visits, and when not 
thus occupied, received daily notes from Levanter to 
set my mind at ease. The only thing that annoyed 
me was the impossibility of my witnessing in person 
the triumph I so surely calculated on. Alas ! I was 
to be on duty the day of the Derby. An unfortu¬ 
nate combination of circumstances prevented the pos¬ 
sibility of my getting a brother officer to take my 
guard, and when the eventful morning arrived, instead 
of whirling merrily down to Epsom, I was compelled, 
sorely against the grain, to swell the pageantry of 
mimic war in the smoky purlieus of St. James’s 
Palace. What a day of suspense it was; all the best 
fellows in the regiment were of course gone to the 
Derby, and the f slowest set,’ those of whom I knew 
least, were my comrades for the day. How wearily 
the hours seemed to pass. Two o’clock came—three 
— f the race must be over. In another hour I ought 
to know my fate.’ f What a time that lad is gallop¬ 
ing from Epsom, and yet he has two thorough-bred 
hacks to do the sixteen miles. To be sure, if ' Oriel’ 


i 


121 


THE EVENT { COMES OFF.’ 

has won, he is safe to he getting drunk somewhere/ 
Such were my broken and disturbed reflections, till, 
at twenty minutes past four the agitation became too 
painful to be much longer endured, and my character 
for philosophy must have been eternally compromised, 
had not a note addressed in Levanter’s well known 
characters been at that moment placed in my hand. 
The tramp of the hurried bearer galloping off to some 
other expectant locality, smote pleasantly on my ear 
as I read the following short and pithy despatch, 
evidently indited on the spare leaf of a betting- 
book :— 

Epsom, half-past Two. 

c Dear Grand. —Oriel by a neck; Rossini second ; 
very close race ; what a coup ! Yours, 

c ft. Levanter/ 

The remainder of that guard passed away as a 
pleasant dream, and for the next four-and-twenty 
hours I felt like a man who has been relieved from 
an oppressive and inordinate weight which has loaded 
him for years. Settling day arrived, and at its con¬ 
clusion, notwithstanding losses on the Oaks, and 
another bad night at Crockford’s, I found myself the 
possessor of several thousand pounds. Spencer’s bill 
was, as may be supposed, the very first engagement 
from which I freed my conscience. Alas ! the mis¬ 
chief was already done, and my friend’s rustication 
from the University, and the difficulties which such 


122 


DIGBY GRAND. 


a disgrace would throw in his way on taking orders, 
had blasted his prospects in life.. 

Never did I so bitterly regret any one of my fol¬ 
lies and crimes as that accursed bill, and the manly, 
kind, forgiving letter which I received from Tom only 
served to add poignancy to my regret for the injury 
I had inflicted on so good a fellow. My own affairs, 
however, now required most serious attention; for no 
sooner had I made up my mind to look into them, 
and endeavour to discharge all the most pressing 
debts, than bill after bill came pouring in upon me ; 
and difficulty after difficulty, which I had so reck¬ 
lessly contracted, rose in such overwhelming numbers 
that I saw the whole of my winnings, large as they 
were, would he insufficient to set me straight with 
the world. Had I consulted our old family-lawyer, 
Mr. Mortmain, he could possibly have put me in the 
way of making terms with my creditors, and relieving 
myself at least of all my heaviest responsibilities, 
but a feeling of shame that so old a friend should 
know the whole extent of my involvements, particu¬ 
larly as regarded the post-obits, prevented my seek¬ 
ing his advice and assistance^ Instead of this, I 
consulted several lawyers of a lower class, and acting 
upon no decided system, and by no really good 
advice, I soon found that, although the whole of my 
winnings had melted away like snow in the sunshine, 
I was still considerably in debt, and harassed for 
mohey almost as much as before the successful race. 


GOING TO THE BAT). 


123 


Levanter was too busy with his Ascot speculations to 
be able to afford me much of his time or counsel; 
Hillingdon was out of town in bad health ; and 
Maltby, though an excellent straightforward fellow, 
and of sound common sense, was a bad man of busi¬ 
ness. One thing is clear, I must leave the Guards. 
To struggle on through another season in town 
w r ould be totally impossible, whereas, by an exchange 
into some other regiment, I should, at all events, 
gain a little breathing time, and when out of the 
way, either abroad, or in Ireland, I might possibly 
effect some compromise with the most pressing of my 
creditors. Had I commenced the work of reform 
vigorously at the root, had I made up my mind to 
enter an infantry regiment, and live as many a 
gallant and distinguished fellow has done before me, 
on less than a hundred a year, I might, in the course 
of time, have retrieved my fortunes, and saved my 
character, but I could not bear the idea of c Dandy 
Grand* subsiding into 'a Liner.* I shrank from the 
prospect of ' outpost duty* on the frontier in Canada, 
or the undisturbed command of a detachment 'up 
the country,* in Van Diemen*s Land. No—I could 
not stand that. There were some very good fellows 
in the ninetieth Lancers, and they had a capital mess 
in the seventieth Hussars, but then the habits of 
these regiments were little less expensive than the 
Guards, and I might as well be ruined in London as 
at Hounslow. So, much as I should have liked 


124 


DXGBY GKAND. 


their service, that was out of the question. I 
determined, accordingly, to adopt a middle course, 
and try whether a troop in a heavy dragoon regi¬ 
ment might not combine the sort of life to which I 
had accustomed myself with a temporary postpone¬ 
ment of my utter and irremediable ruin. Creatures 
of the moment as we all are, and in our most 
important resolutions acted on by the veriest trifles, 
will it be believed, that the simple fact of my being, 
for the third time, black-balled for White’s exclusive 
club, considerably weakened my repugnance to this 
measure ? For a long time it had been my ambition 
to occupy that privileged bay-window f over the way/ 
where day after day, during the season, are to be 
seen well preserved dandies, and elderly petits 
maitres, framed and glazed in portly magnificence, 
as large as life. At Crockford’s I had long 
been considered ( quite an authority / at Tatter- 
sail’s I was as well known as the fox in the 
yard; my position in general society was sufficiently 
established to allow of my being rude to the fine 
ladies with impunity, a conclusive proof of being in 
high favour with that inexplicable f set / and all I 
wanted to complete my success was to pass in 
triumph through the trying ordeal of an evening 
ballot at White’s. Twice had I failed, and twice, 
despite of the exertions of friends and the punctuality 
of a packed jury, had the three hateful black-balls, 
which constitute a rejection, announced that ‘ Grand 


VOTE BY BALLOT. 


125 


was pilled/ Once more liad I determined to tempt 
my fate; and with St. Heliers to propose, and old 
Burgonet, the best-natured man in England, to 
second me, I flattered myself victory was at length 
insured. Little did I know the secrets of that con¬ 
clave by which my destinies were to be determined— 
little did I guess that besides all the natural difficulties 
it would be my lot to encounter from uninterested 
strangers, whose over-taxed digestions might prompt 
them to relieve their bile by doing an ill-natured 
thing for its own sake, and favouring the unknown 
innocent with a gratuitous black-ball; besides the 
secret grudges owed by acquaintances whom I had 
f cut dowffi in horsemanship, and friends whom I had 
abused f in confidence/ all of which might be securely 
paid off in the ballot-box; besides such chances of 
rejection which might fairly be calculated on, I might 
likewise be thrown over by the faithless opposition of 
the very man who fathered me in my efforts to attain 
the long-sought-for distinction. f What sort of a fellow 
is this Captain Grand, St. Heliers ? I see you propose 
him/ inquired Lord Superfine, in a conversation 
which eventually reached my ears. f Decidedly an 
ass V was the good-natured reply; the club is getting 
much too common, and I doifit think we ought to 
let him in/ Lord Superfine appeared that night in 
the drawing-room, at five minutes before eleven; and 
there is no doubt as to what his tacit vote must 
have been with regard to my entrance, more particu- 


126 


DIGBY GRAND. 


larly as his own nephew was the next candidate on 
the list. Venom, who was present for the purpose, 
of which he made no secret, treated me as he had 
already done forty-seven aspirants that season at the 
different 'friendly societies' to which he belonged. 
This accounted for two black balls out of three; but 
the remaining one, solemnly disowned to me in 
private by every other man in the room, with the 
exception of my proposer and seconder, I am still at 
a loss to account for, unless I place it to the credit 
of my 'particular friend' St. Heliers, or conclude that 
old Burgonet did it by mistake. 

Having decided in my own mind that my career 
in the metropolis was now over, I lost little time in 
making such arrangements as should obtain me the 
desired exchange into a Dragoon regiment. I had 
sufficient interest to overcome the usual opposition to 
a step of this kind on the part of the Colonel and 
other officers of my own corps, an opposition founded 
on the plausible principle that such exchanges stop 
the course of promotion, and that it is better that 
one comrade in difficulties should be driven out of 
the profession and ruined altogether, than that the 
different lieutenancies, captaincies, and colonelcies, 
should be temptingly withheld from his impatient 
brother-officers; and nothing was now left for me to 
do but to find my man, and come to terms with 
him on our mutual agreement. In London, nothing 
can be done between the two persons most interested 


NEGOTIATING AN EXCHANGE. 


127 


in any proceeding without the intervention of a third 
party, for whose especial benefit this distant commu¬ 
nication on the part of the principals would appear to 
be arranged, and the system is so fully carried out in 
army-exchanges as to give entire employment to one 
or two agents, whose only business it is to bring 
such contracting parties together, and who seem to 
make a very comfortable livelihood by the fees 
charged upon their discontented employers. To one 
of these go-betweens I accordingly betook myself, 
and many an anxious hour did I spend in his little 
business-like parlour, near Pall-mall, fitted up as 
though it were a miniature war-office, with army- 
lists, memoranda of services, stations of troops, and 
all the literature most interesting to those thirsters 
after promotion for whom it was provided. Long 
were the conclaves held by Mr. Ryder and myself on 
the different means by which advancement in the 
army, combined with agreeable quarters, was most 
likely to be acquired; and voluminous was the cor¬ 
respondence held through his means with sundry old 
captains and brevet-majors, who, although open to 
any and all offers that might redound to their in¬ 
dividual advantage, had still a hankering after the 
fancied repose and comfort of a guardsman's life. It 
is curious enough that amongst his brethren in the 
line a very general idea should prevail to the effect 
that the whole and sole duty of an officer in the 
favoured brigade is to attend regularly the different 


128 


DIGBY GRAND. 


performances at her Majesty’s Theatre, and to fur¬ 
nish a circumstantial report of all the state balls, 
fancy fairs, concerts, breakfasts, and other fashionable 
arrangements which constitute the campaign of a 
London season—that the early drill, the tedious 
guard-mounting, the monotonous barrack duty, are 
unknown to this luxurious warrior, and that leave, 
interminable leave, the grand desideratum of all 
recipients of full-pay, permits him to he absent from 
the metropolis whenever he chooses to apply for it. 
Wofully do these gentlemen find themselves deceived, 
when, after a large outlay of capital, and an exercise 
of interest that might have obtained a staff appoint¬ 
ment, they behold themselves doing the same duty 
in London that they have daily cursed at Gibraltar, 
varied, if at all, by more frequent repetition, and 
discipline fully as strict; whilst, unkindest cut of all ! 
the long-desired exchange, which they had confidently 
hoped was to prove an immediate passport into the 
most exclusive circles of London society, leaves them 
in exactly the same position that their previous 
station and acquirements have enabled them to 
assume; these facts, however, are only learnt by 
experience ; and I had no difficulty, under the aus¬ 
pices of Mr. Ryder, in finding a host of applicants eager 
to substitute my lieutenancy in the Guards for their 
own troops, companies, &c., in Rifles, Highlanders, 
Lancers, Fusiliers, Hussars, Light Infantry, Horse, 
Foot, and Dragoons. The first difficulty was in se- 


EXCHANGE NO ROBBERY. 


129 


lection; and after the particular description of ser- 
vice had been decided on in favour of the cavalry, 
there was a considerable degree of bargaining and 
arrangement, all carried on through the indefatigable 
agent, as to the terms, pecuniary and otherwise, of 
the proposed exchange. Captain Shabrack wished 
his two chargers to stand as part of the negotiation, 
but a difference of opinion as regarded the actual 
soundness and problematical value of these warlike 
animals, prevented the possibility of our coming to 
terms, and the aspiring captain has since sold out, 
and keeps a pack of harriers. Sir Launcelot Overalls, 
who was five feet two, and in the receipt of fifteen 
thousand a-year, would treat only upon the under¬ 
standing that his old uniforms, considerably the 
worse for wear, should be taken by his successor at 
two-thirds of their original price, and Mr. Ryder, 
who had seen Sir Launcelot en grande tenue , seemed 
to think this an extortionate demand, considering the 
antiquity of the vestments. One wavering cavalier, 
who was liberality itself as to money matters, changed 
his mind at the last moment, whilst another found it 
impossible to give any definite answer until the 
state of his personal property had been decided by 
the event of the coming St. Leger; and it was only 
after a vast deal of diplomatic intercourse, and cau¬ 
tious communication, that an arrangement was at 
length effected, by which the King of Oude's Dra¬ 
goons, or North Staffordshire Slashers, obtained the 
YOL. II. K 


130 


DIGBY GRAND. 


services of Captain Digby Grand, late of the 4th 
Foot-Guards, in the room of ‘ Brevet-Major Swankey, 
who exchanges the Gazette adding, with that 
praiseworthy regard for truth and typical correctness 
for which such documents are so distinguished, 4 The 
Christian names of Brevet-Major Swankey, appointed 
to the 4th Foot-Guards, are Leopold Herod Augustus 
Fitz-Plantagenet, and not Leopold Fitz-Plantagenet 
Herod Augustus, as stated in our report of yes¬ 
terday/ 

It was a melancholy duty to arrange every¬ 
thing for my departure from the corps I loved so 
well, to look over the uniforms once donned so 
proudly, and to think that never more should I 
have a right to wear that distinguished garb, that 
the veriest civilian now belonged as much to the 
regiment as myself. It made me sad at heart to 
walk down, in plain clothes, and look on at that 
guard-mounting which I had so often voted an 
annoyance and a bore, but in which I might never 
again bear a part; to take off my hat to that colour 
which I had carried as an ensign, and which in my 
hearty boyish days I had often hoped I might some 
time follow to victory and distinction. The tears 
sprang to my eyes as I returned the salute of the 
men, once acknowledged so mechanically; and when 
the pay-serjeant of my company respectfully bade me 
farewell, and wished me every success, on the part 
of himself and his comrades, in my new regiment, I 


FAKE WELL. 


131 


could have wept outright. How I wished my 
appointment could he cancelled, my dear old corps 
ordered off on immediate service, and that, flinging 
my debts and difficulties to the winds, I could once 
more make the bivouac my home—once more feel 
that ‘ the service 3 was before me, that its prospects 
were my all-in-all. 

Let me pass over the leave-takings with my most 
intimate friends, the hearty good wishes I experienced 
from the whole of my brother officers, the kind and 
fatherly advice of Colonel Grandison (oh! that I had 
but followed it), and the misery of poor Hillingdon 
in bidding farewell to his dearest, as he said, his 
only friend. Let me pass over the remorse and self- 
reproach with which I looked back on the past 
course of folly and recklessness that had entailed 
upon me the necessity of this most painful step, but 
let me not pass over that feeling of cordial affection 
for the corps I was leaving, that devoted interest in 
its welfare, which, on the morning when I bade fare¬ 
well to the battalion, swelled not more strongly 
within my breast than it does to-day; which, through 
the lapse of years and the selfish cares of life, shall 
still warm my heart and stir my blood when memory 
brings before me the time-honoured image of the 
gallant, the stainless, the victorious brigade of guards. 


132 


CHAPTER VII. 

THE BOLD DBAGOON. 

TT^AE be it from me to venture on any remark 
derogatory to that branch of the service which is 
appropriately termed the left arm of the British 
forces, or to deny that the very word f cavalry* at 
once brings before us associations connected with all 
that is dashing in appearance, and daring in action. 
Brilliant in the ball-room as he is bold in the field, 
the dragoon doubtless enjoys the golden opinions of 
his fellow citizens of both sexes, slightly tinged it may 
be in the one, with envy at the unconcealed adora¬ 
tion so freely bestowed upon him by the other, and 
what with man's approval and woman's smile, there 
is no career so fascinating to the generality of youth, 
as that which promises the constant privilege ‘ horse 
to ride and weapon wear,' and moreover confers the 
enviable distinction, not even discarded when belt 
and ' sabretasche' must be laid aside, of cultivating 
on martial lip the honours of an incipient moustache. 
But with all these agremens , I cannot conceal from 
myself, that to enter con amove upon the career of 


LIFE IN BARRACKS. 


133 


a cavalry-officer in these piping times, (long may they 
last !) youth is a sine qua non for the thorough 
enjoyment of its supposed delights and positive 
advantages. Alas ! that there should come a time, 
and too surely doth it come, though with some men 
far later in life than with others, when the shape of 
his overalls and the length of his spurs, nay, even the 
very action and appearance of his charger, cease to 
be objects on which the aspirant is satisfied to exert 
all his energies, and rivet his whole attention—when 
the admiration of the other sex, though it never fails 
to excite a certain degree of pleasurable sensation, is 
no longer all-in-all; and then it is that a doubt first 
arises in his mind as to the opportunities for distinc¬ 
tion offered by barrack-yard lounge and riding-school 
drill, as to the path of glory which ambition shall be 
able to carve out of his marches and counter-marches 
‘ from Ealing to Acton, and from Acton to Ealing / 
and the warrior, whose heart would swell and whose 
spirit would rise in the bivouac or the charge, sinks 
into a very lukewarm and somewhat discontented 
assistant at the mess-table or the parade. 

Ear otherwise is it with the young ; those joyous 
Epicureans with whom the present is life, who neither 
know nor care for anything beyond to-day, and 
whose thoughts for the morrow are limited to an 
earnest hope that its requirements may not entail 
upon them the necessity of rising early for duty, no 
contemptible penance to those who sit up late for 


134 


DIGBY GRAND. 


pleasure. Of these, and such as these, the gallant 
North Staffordshire Dragoons boasted their full com¬ 
plement, and had it been my lot to have commenced 
soldiering in their jovial ranks, doubtless I should 
have been as merry a c devil-may-care’ cornet as any 
one of them; hut I began too late—the High-street 
at Canterbury was a sorry exchange for St. James’s 
and Pall-Mall, the jollities of a mess-table a poor 
substitute for dinners with St. Heliers and nights at 
Crockford’s; nor, when I had learnt my duty, no 
difficult task, got through the riding-school, and 
broken in my chargers, did I see what earthly thing 
there was for me to do, or any possible mode of 
escaping the ennui of that which, contrasted with the 
constant excitement I was accustomed to, was a life 
of intolerable idleness. In every storm there is an 
occasional lull, and although my difficulties as to 
money were as hopeless as ever, I enjoyed a tem¬ 
porary respite from lawyers’ letters and creditors’ 
threats, so I had not even the doubtful amusement 
of being persecuted and annoyed. I began to get 
sleepy after dinner, and to put on weight, and must, 
I verily believe, have become ere long a steady 
respectable member of society, in sheer despair, had 
not the revolving circle of time brought round with it 
a course of events, destined to mar my self-indulgence 
and embitter my repose. 

It was a time-honoured custom amongst the 
officers of the King of Oude’s Dragoons, to seek 


THE OFFICERS’ MESS. 


135 


refreshment after the fatigue of ‘ attending stables* 
(a laborious duty comprised in smoking cigars whilst 
the men cleaned their horses) by partaking of a 
sociable and substantial luncheon, placed on the 
mess-table at half-past one precisely, and highly 
acceptable to the famished appetite which had fasted 
since a heavy breakfast at eleven. At this reunion, 
in which large moustaches and gorgeously-mounted 
riding-whips predominated, good-humour and cor¬ 
diality reigned paramount. A better looking or a 
better set of fellows than the old K. O. never started 
into activity at the trumpet-call sounding f boots and 
saddles;* and from the stalwart colonel, a living 
representation of one of the men-at-arms of olden 
time, down to the last joined cornet, a fair, curly - 
headed boy of sixteen, called by his comrades f Little 
Nell,* and the wildest scapegrace that ever left Eton, 
all pulled well together, all were heart and soul 
devoted to the corps. At this mid-day gathering the 
entire 'plain clothes* business of the regiment was 
arranged. Was there a race to be concocted, or a 
steeple chase planned, luncheon-time saw the entries 
made and the forfeits declared. Were the not 
ungrateful fair of the surrounding district to be 
propitiated, fete, ball, and pic-nic here received their 
original impetus and their final arrangements. Here 
dinners were organized and invitations discussed, and 
here ' Little Nell,* the life and soul of us all, was in 
his glory. f An invite to a 1 breakfast,* Dandy,* was 


136 


DIGBY GRAND. 


his irreverent address to myself, the captain of his 
troop; f what a let-off for the old dragon. Hot 
salad and cold soup, no champagne, and Lady 
Burgonet, in red velvet. Weffl go in the drag, and 
I’ll drive V laughed the urchin, as, amidst sundry 
protestations against so unsafe an arrangement, he 
threw into my plate a solemn-looking missive, sealed 
with an enormous coat of arms, presenting ‘ the 
compliments of Sir Benjamin and Lady Burgonet 
to Colonel Bold and the officers of the K. O. Dra¬ 
goons, and requesting the honour of their company at 
a c breakfast/ on Wednesday next, the —th, &c. 
&c., and as may be supposed, in the absence of 
any other amusement or occupation, the invitation 
was cordially accepted without a dissentient voice, and 
a couple of teams (no difficult matter where every 
officer had three horses at least) were put into com¬ 
mission forthwith, that we might travel as heretofore, 
by those very convenient vehicles yclept ‘ regimental 
drags/ 

We had a fine day, an atmospherical phenomenon 
less unusual in Kent than in any other part of 
England, and as we bowled merrily along upon our 
journey, I amused myself by anticipating kind old 
Sir Benjamiu’s surprise at meeting me in the ranks 
of the K. O., for I was convinced he was unac¬ 
quainted with my exchange, and speculating upon 
the sort of person Lady Burgonet was likely to be, 
wondering at the same time why I had always 


THE OLD GENERAL. 


137 


fancied the old general unmarried, and inclined to 
picture his wife to myself as a quiet, cosy old body, 
in a poke bonnet and black mittens, notwithstanding 
f Little Nell’s’ vision of the red velvet gown, which 
I decided must be totally apocryphal. 

The sun shines brightly, the birds sing merrily, 
and the hedges are clad in the brilliant colours of 
early summer, as the smoking teams are pulled up 
at the porch of Sir Benjamins handsome residence. 
That ubiquitous body, the regimental band, are in 
attendance, and as our cargoes of well-dressed, well- 
bearded, and effective-looking officers discharge them¬ 
selves at the front door, the K. O. Dragoons, we 
rather flatter ourselves, form no mean addition to the 
groups of gay people that already throng the lawn. 
Most of our party are well-known to their host, and 
as Colonel Bold, with military politeness, is about to 
present me to Sir Benjamin, the jolly old General 
quite startles him by the cordial greeting and the 
sounding slap on the back with which he accosts the 
f Digby, my boy* of other days. ‘ What you’ve got 
a guardsman now, Colonel ?’ says he, still resting his 
hand on my shoulder. f Idle dogs ! idle dogs ! But 
I’ve known this fellow from a boy, and he never was 
good for anything.’ And with many inquiries after 
my father, and good-humoured remonstrances at my 
having kept him in ignorance of my being so near a 
neighbour, he hurries me off to present me to his 
wife; and as I run my eye over the general’s 


138 


DIGBY GRAND. 


increased corpulence of figure, and mark his vigorous 
joviality and tottering gait, too suggestive of the gout, 
visions of the quiet little old woman come upon me 
stronger than ever, and seeing no one in red velvet, 
I look about in vain for my venerable ideal of Lady 
Burgonet. 

Talking the whole time, and occasionally stopping 
short and fronting full upon me, to give additional 
weight to the somewhat ponderous jokes in which he 
delighted, the General walked me on through his 
assembled guests, with whose private history and 
little peccadilloes he seemed marvellously well ac¬ 
quainted, until we reached a group somewhat apart 
from the rest, amongst whom the figure of a lady 
with her back to us, appeared familiar to my eye; 
and, whilst I carelessly ran over in my own mind 
which of my London acquaintances it could be that 
boasted those graceful and well-dressed proportions, 
the lady turned suddenly round, on hearing my 
companion's voice, and, as the jolly General pre¬ 
sented me in due form to Lady Burgonet, my 
astonished eyes were greeted with the well-known 
features, the old familiar smile of my boyhood’s idol, 
the adored of the army, the pride of garrisons, the 
ci-devant Fanny Jones ! Brummel used to say that 
a gentleman might be amused, but he should never 
be astonished; and the coincidence is striking be¬ 
tween the principles of manner , as laid down by the 
cultivated offspring of an artificial civilization, and 


AN UNEXPECTED PLEASURE. 


139 


the practice of good breeding inculcated by the child 
of nature in the savage freedom of the far west,— 
the sneering apathy of the fop of St. JamesVstreet, 
and the stoical indifference of the forest Indian. But 
roue or redman, Dandy or Delaware, might have 
been excused for the stare of astonishment with 
which I .regarded her who I once fondly hoped 
should have been Mrs. Grand, who, to my certain 
knowledge, had become Mrs. Dubbs. Not so Lady 
Burgonet; with a cordial welcome and a kindly 
smile, she extended that well-shaped hand, whiter 
and fatter now than of yore, and turning to her 
husband, explained to him that c Captain Grand was 
an old acquaintance, though it was a long time since 
they had met: so long/ she added, with a well-pleased 
look of conscious attractiveness, e as to make me quite 
an old woman/ 

‘ All right, Danny/ said Sir Benjamin, ‘ then take 
the best care you can of him. We’ll have luncheon 
in half an hour, Digby: till then I must go and flirt 
with the young ladies/ and away toddled the mer¬ 
curial old warrior, leaving me in that enviable state 
of stupefaction which is but faintly typified by the 
expression—‘thunderstruck/ What to do or say 
next, I confess was beyond me; and, after I had 
hazarded a vague remark upon the beauty of her 
gardens, and the fineness of the weather, our inter¬ 
view must have become highly embarrassing, and 
even painful, had it not been for the readiness 


140 


DIGBY GRAND. 


with which Lady Burgonet relieved me of my 
share in the conversation, and the volubility with 
which she discoursed upon indifferent topics, as 
though we had been casual acquaintances of fifty 
years* standing, during which period we had met 
once a week, and cared as little for each other as 
any two people that do so meet, in the uncomfortable 
medley which we mock with the name of society. 
"Whilst I was bowing and stammering, and wondering 
what had become of Dubbs, (the most reasonable 
supposition being that he had drunk himself to 
death,) and recalling the golden days of spring, when 
she had nursed me in my illness,— she , the calm, 
self-possessed, fashionable woman, now standing 
before me in her blond and her flounces, and her 
clothing of immovable hypocrisy,—and the dreadful 
morning that blasted my hopes, (romantic young 
fool that I was!) when, an unwilling witness, I saw 
her weeping her heart out on Levanter’s shoulder: 
whilst all these thoughts and recollections were boil¬ 
ing through my brain, and making me feel as pain¬ 
fully awkward as, with all my acquired swagger and 
London assurance, I doubtless looked, Lady Burgonet 
walked me through her conservatory, chatted with 
me about military promotions and appointments, 
gave me a geranium, and introduced me to an awful 
woman in velvet, with as much nonchalance as if 
she had been my grandmother. And what were my 
feelings as I contemplated, in bachelor security, the 


love’s young dream. 


141 


lady for whom I had once been prepared to sacrifice 
so much? Was I grateful for my escape? Was 
I philosophically amused with the bursting of the 
bubble, the fading of the illusion? Did I thank 
my stars that I was well out of it, and shrug 
up my shoulders with the mental ejaculation of 
'Poor Sir Benjamin?' Alas! no: in my heart 
of hearts, notwithstanding the lessons of experience, 
in defiance of the dictates of common sense, there 
was a pang of bitter regret, as I dwelt on my im¬ 
pulsive boyhood, with all its folly and all its charms, 
there was a feeling of humiliation and self-reproach, 
as I thought I was now incapable of the absurdities 
which then constituted the rapture of my existence, 
and for the indulgence of which I would fain have 
exchanged all my worldly wisdom and boasted 
experience, fain have bartered the sceptics know¬ 
ledge and the cynic's smile for the unsophisticated 
faith, the pure, fresh confidence of a trustful, loving 
heart. 

Fruit, flowers, iced champagne, white soup, elon¬ 
gated tables, a great demand for clean plates, and 
rather a scarcity of chairs, brought on the general 
rush and confusion which betokens a f breakfast/ as 
we rationally term an entertainment commencing at 
four p.m. Those who could obtain seats, wedged 
themselves in, and fed across each other's sleeves and 
draperies; those who were obliged to stand, reached 
over the heads of their more fortunate neighbours; 


142 


DIGBY GRAND. 


and, as regarded unobserved flirtations and mutual 
good-offices, tbe standers-up had rather the best of 
it. My brother officers, with the foresight and 
attention which ever distinguished the dragoon, had 
each paired off with some fortunate damsel, who 
appeared to congratulate herself upon having even 
temporarily appropriated a pair of moustaches, and 
I was left a silent and half-saddened observer of the 
laughing, chattering, eating and drinking throng, 
when, somewhat to my surprise and greatly to my 
delight, I felt my arm seized by a cordial grasp, 
and, on turning round, recognised the still handsome 
face of my old commander and ubiquitous friend, 
Cartouch. 

f Mooning, I see, my dear Digby/ said the 
Colonel, as he drew his arm within mine. ‘Wefll 
have some luncheon presently; in the meantime, 
come and take a stroll with me through the gardens, 
I have a great deal to say to you/ 

‘ What are you doing here ?’ I replied; ' the man 
for whom London is dull and Newmarket slow, what 
can have brought you into this wild and barbarous 
country? You are not obliged to eat dirt in a 
riding-school and inspect manure in a troop-stable; 
you may go to Epsom for business and Ascot for 
pleasure; you can show your face in St. James's- 
street, nor shudder when any individual of Jewish 
extraction meets you on the pavement, and yet I find 
you wasting all your sweetness on a bevy of rural 


A MILITARY SECRETARY. 


143 


Kentish damsels, and dancing attendance upon a 
gouty old general !’ 

‘ Business must be attended to/ was the Colonel’s 
reply. f Our old chief, you have surely heard, has 
been appointed to a command in India, and, with 
an appreciation of my conversational qualities, and 
partiality for my society, which betoken a discrimi¬ 
nating mind, has made me his military secretary and 
general manager of all affairs, public, private, and 
dubious, in which he may be concerned. I have 
been in India, and know what it is, so I can assure 
you nothing but c the pressure from without/ and 
my regard for f old Ben/ would have induced me to 
accept the appointment; but I am now in for it, and, 
were it not for the peculiar temper and constant 
interference of f my lady/ we should do very fairly. 
You know who she was V 

Too well, I thought to myself, but, even to Car- 
touch, I could not bear to confess the whole of my 
boyhood’s folly, so I only replied, ‘ A Miss Jones, 
was she not ? or some name of that sort.’ 

f Fanny Jones/ said the Colonel. f I remember 
her years ago, in Dublin, a flirting, dancing, clever 
sort of girl, engaged to young Green, of the Lancers. 
She used to ride with him every day, and the poor 
lad was frightfully in love with her. Luckily, his 
uncle heard of it in time, and put him on his own 
staff, in the West Indies; and Green soon after 
married a Creole,—a black woman, Lady Burgonet 


144 


DIGBY GRAND. 


calls her. Since then, lots of fellows have been 
smitten with her charms, and I have seen little 
cadeaux, ‘ given me by that pretty Miss Jones/ in 
every out-of-the-way quarter of the globe that re¬ 
joices in the martial presence of a subaltern’s guard. 

'For two or three years she disappeared alto¬ 
gether; some said she had gone into a convent, 
others that she was in a decline, whilst the more un¬ 
charitable averred she was no longer a proper person 
to associate with e regimental ladies/ and had retired 
permanently from the world—when to my surprise, 
up she started again as Lady Burgonet, though when, 
where, or how, she was married is an impenetrable 
mystery. I conclude, however, that it is all right, 
as she is received everywhere, and talks of going to 
the Drawing-room, at which, I will answer for it, no 
greater lady in her own estimation will be present. 
She winds Sir Benjamin round her little finger, and 
must have a word in all his arrangements, pro¬ 
fessional as well as private. Luckily she does not 
go out with him, but is to follow next spring. 

‘ What a curious thing it is, Digby, that old Bur¬ 
gonet, who was always the most impervious man in 
England to the charms of the other sex, should be 
captivated at seventy by a faded garrison-flirt, with 
neither the freshness of a girl, the sobriety of a matron, 
nor, between you and me, the manners of a lady.’ 

Without quite agreeing in Cartouch’s derogatory 
opinion of my former love, I confess that I could not 


a soldier’s wife. 


145 


help being struck with the peculiar unsuitableness 
of the generaFs help-mate, although, to do her jus¬ 
tice, the way she managed the old warrior reflected 
considerable credit on her tact and discernment. 
All the delicate petits soins, all the little attentions 
which so seldom outlive the honeymoon, were re¬ 
ceived and responded to with a liveliness and coquetry 
that kept the generaFs gallantry constantly at high 
pressure. I saw him give her a rare plant from the 
hot-house, which she pressed to her lips, and placed 
in her bosom, with a tenderness that made the old 
man’s eyes glisten, whilst Minerva might have taken 
a lesson in dignity from the cold severity with which 
she repelled even the commonest attentions from the 
younger and better-looking portion of her visitors. 
Could she be acting a part, or was she really weary 
of the continual conquest-hunting in which the 
flower of her youth had been spent, of the forced 
gaiety, the aching smile, with which, like an actress 
on the stage, she had been labouring in her pro¬ 
fession, striving to win eventual independence and 
freedom ? Perhaps a little of both; perhaps the 
habits of her youth had now become a second nature,, 
which it required some self-command to restrain; 
perhaps the position which she had attained was in 
her opinion far too exalted, the advantages she now 
enjoyed far too valuable to be risked for the passing 
amusement of an hour—the gaudy sacrifices offered 
by that empty homage of which she, of all people, 
YOL. II. L 


146 


DIGBY GRAND. 


knew too well the real value. Be it how it may, 
Lady Burgonet certainly maintained a reserve and 
decorum which contrasted marvellously with the for¬ 
mer hilarity, the indulgent abandon of the volatile 
Eanny Jones. 

But when were festivities held in the neighbour¬ 
hood of a cavalry regiment, and in the presence of 
their band, ever yet known to conclude without a 
dance ? Cold chickens are soon discussed, and lob¬ 
ster salad, however inconvenient may be its ulterior 
effects, is very easily packed at the time. The old 
Scotch proverb says, that f a spur in the head is 
worth two on the heel/ and although the general's 
warlike guests were in plain clothes, and consequently 
unadorned with the latter appendages, his champagne 
had provided the former stimulus in exactly that 
judicious proportion at which waltzing becomes a 
dream of paradise, and the wave of a muslin fold, 
the touch of a soft white glove, infuse that moral 
intoxication, the effects of which are only to be dis¬ 
pelled by a severe course of unavoidable matrimony. 
Ere the last remnants of the feast had disappeared, 
a flourish of trumpets bursting from a thick screen of 
laurels, brought on a strain of fitful melody, such as 
angels whisper to the German composer in his 
dreams, and finally settled down into one of those 
beautiful waltzes, which, as a very pretty girl near 
me observed, ‘ it was a sin to sit still and listen to.’ 
The greater portion of the company seemed to be of 


don’t you waltz? 147 

the same opinion; and although Lady Burgonet de¬ 
clined with a matronly air every invitation to join 
the dancers, one or two adventurous couples, spin¬ 
ning like teetotums amongst the crowd, soon formed 
a circle, round the edges of which blonde and mous¬ 
taches began to whirl in revolving confusion. There 
is nothing like example, and that of dancing is per¬ 
haps the most contagious of all. Ere long there was 
not a pretty face to be seen disengaged; and no 
sooner did a panting couple stop to court a brief 
interval of repose, than another furious brace started 
off at score to complete the giddy round. Every 
species of measure was practised by its peculiar 
votaries, for though all were dancing, all could not 
exactly lay claim to the title of waltzers. Here 
a runaway pair bumped in a manner more ludi¬ 
crous than graceful against two slower coaches, 
whose studies in the Terpsichorean art had not yet 
initiated them into the mysteries of deux temps; 
there is a phalanx of adventurers entangled them¬ 
selves in an inextricable heap, leading to much dis- 
hevelment of coiffures, and destruction of flounces ; 
but one and all, from our dandy major and Miss 
Dashwell, gliding gracefully along as became the 
hero and heroine of a hundred ball-rooms, to the 
stout pale man in creased gloves, who, rivetting his 
eyes upon the heavens, kept turning his dowdy little 
partner continually round his own orbit, were in¬ 
dustriously bent upon the business of the moment, 

L 2 


148 


DIGBY GRAND. 


were enjoying to the utmost those thrilling sounds, 
which raised our bandmaster to the seventh heaven 
of musical delight. 

Melodious was the strain, and joyous the scene, 
and yet I refrained from participating in the seduc¬ 
tive exercise. There had been a time when the 
very act of dancing leavened my blood, and raised 
my spirits to a pitch that many a damsel of eighteen 
enjoying her first ball might have envied—but all 
that was past and gone. I now belonged to a 
school who deemed it expedient, not to say meri¬ 
torious, to attend all such mirthful gatherings as the 
present with an outward demeanour that appeared 
expressly adapted for the purpose of damping the 
whole proceedings, and repressing the slightest indi¬ 
cation of enjoyment with an apathetic sneer, really 
formidable to that numerous class of weak minds 
who are afraid of being laughed at. In London we 
went regularly to halls, but we stood in the door¬ 
way; we were rigorous in our attendance at the 
..opera, hut we talked the whole time. We spared 
a ^o expense, we grudged no labour or inconvenience 
ii^ the pursuit of amusements which, when attained, 
w& stigmatised as { slow/ and voted f a bore/ That 
chivalrous devotion to the other sex, of which the 
last generation preserved at least the outward sem¬ 
blance, had been completely laid aside, and a studied 
carelessness adopted in its stead, which was anything 
but flattering to their understanding or their charms. 


USED UP. 


149 


The f fine ladies/ as we termed them, had perhaps 
themselves to thank for this subversion of all the 
acknowledged principles of politeness, for it is a 
curious instinct of their order, and one well worthy 
of the study of an observer of human nature, which 
regulates their own urbanity to an associate in an 
inverse proportion to the neglect he is at no pains to 
conceal; and any one who has witnessed the non¬ 
chalance with which a fine gentleman of the present 
day turns his back upon a countess in her own 
house, as if she were of no more importance than her 
drawing-room fire, will allow that St. Heliers was not 
far wrong when he said to me, in allusion to a fair 
ball-giver of my first London season, ‘ If you want 
her to take you up, depend upon it, you must begin 
by taking her down. 3 Versed in the habits of my 
class, and thinking, no doubt, that I showed my 
superior breeding by my utter disregard of the many 
pretty faces which surrounded me—a pitch of refine¬ 
ment to which, for the credit of the corps, I am 
bound to say my brother officers of the K, 0. Dra¬ 
goons did not aspire—I had no deserted partner, no 
appealing damsel to distract my attention from the 
conclave to which I was summoned by my friend Car- 
touch, and consisting of that worthy, Sir Benjamin, 
and myself. With a kind concern for my welfare, 
and a fatherly consideration of my interests, the old 
general, to whom his military secretary had confided 
all he knew of my peculiar position, frankly offered 


150 


DIGBY GRAND. 


to take me out with him to the East as his aide-de- 
camp ; an offer which, seeing at last an opportunity 
of extricating myself from my difficulties, I eagerly 
and unhesitatingly accepted. 

Three short turns on the general’s shaven lawn— 
half-a-dozen sentences interchanged with the kind old 
commandant—a cordial grasp of the hand from 
Cartouch — and a stately bow of congratulation, 
accompanied, though, with a sunny glance, that 
reminded me of other days, from Lady Burgonet, 
opened out to me prospects that were undreamed of 
when I rose that morning, pointed out to me a path 
that I should never have even thought of, had it not 
been for the accidental circumstance of my accom¬ 
panying a coach-load of dragoons to an afternoon 
breakfast-party. 

These matters are easily arranged at the Horse 
Guards when they encounter no opposition from the 
heads of departments, and from Colonel Bold and 
my brother officers I met with every facility in 
taking a step so evidently to my future advantage. 
In one short week everything was arranged for my 
departure. For obvious reasons, it would have been 
the height of imprudence on my part to publish to 
the world my proposed migration to another hemi¬ 
sphere. If the jungle-fever were to carry off Digby 
Grand, Mr. Shadrach’s post-obits might indeed form 
highly-instructive documents to elucidate the mode¬ 
ration of his terms, but in a pecuniary point of view 


PROMOTIONS AND APPOINTMENTS. 151 

would be of no more value than the paper on which 
they were drawn. The Israelite would be safe to 
oppose my departure; but few of those with whom 
I consulted were totally inexperienced in such diffi¬ 
culties, and it was arranged that my appointment 
should not be officially made out and gazetted until 
I myself was safely disposed on board the Hydera¬ 
bad , an enormous teak-built Indiaman, then lying at 
Portsmouth, in waiting for f His Excellency Sir 
Benjamin Burgonet and suite/ 

Once in the channel, I should be free as a sea 
bird on the wing; and all arrangements bearing on 
my appointment, such as the sale of my chargers, 
the liquidation of my small debts, and such nego¬ 
tiations, imperative on those who f go foreign/ were 
to be conducted by my brother officers after my 
departure. Such was the state of affairs when, on 
the very last evening I was to spend with the corps, 
as I was dressing for our late mess dinner, * Little 
Nell/ a youth precocious in the ways of the world, 
and c wide awake’ beyond his years, rushed into my 
room, with alarm and dismay depicted on his girlish 
features. 

f Look sharp, Dandy/ exclaimed the breathless 
boy, waxing more and more slang in his vocabulary 
as his agitation increased • f cram on a wrap-rascal 
and a shawl ' choaker.’ Never mind the gold-laced 
overalls and spurs. I have got f Jenny Jumps’ (a 
famous pony, the most treasured of f Little Nell’s’ 


152 


DIGBY GRAND. 


possessions) ready saddled, waiting for you at the 
hospital door. She’ll do the trick, if you give her 
her head. You must cut and run for it, old boy, 
or you’ll be nabbed, as sure as eggs make little 
chickens!’ 

And whilst he ran on in this manner, and crammed 
into my unresisting hands the different articles of 
disguise which he deemed necessary, with a hunting 
flask full of brandy, and an enormous case choaked 
with cigars, it was not without difficulty that I 
gathered from the good-hearted cornet the clever 
dispositions that had been made by the enemy, and 
the great probability there was of my Indian cam¬ 
paign coming to a premature conclusion. 

‘ I was smoking a weed, just now, and walking pro¬ 
miscuously about, pretty near ‘ Tom Tucker’s’ stable, 
for I thought I heard him cough, and you know he’s 
in the Garrison Hurdle Race, next week,’ said the 
knowing urchin, ‘ when I saw two queer-looking 
coves lounging about the yard, and I heard one of 
’em ask the sentry f which was Captain Grand’s 
stables?’ The sentry, like a fool, was going to tell 
him, when I stepped up, and making my best bow, 
volunteered all the information in my power. I saw 
a bailiff once, before I left Eton, and I was down 
upon these birds in half no time ; so I took them to 
the doctor’s loose box, where he keeps ‘ Sawbones,’ 
and showed them that Roman-nosed screw as Cap- 
Grand’s famous steeple-chase horse, f Sanspareil;’ 


TOUCH-AND-GO. 


153 


and whilst old ‘ Sawbones/ who wont let any one go 
near him but his own bat-man, was dodging them 
about the box, and had got hold of the fattest one, 
who tried to make a caption, as the beggars call it, 
by the arm, I slipped off to your groom, and sent 
away your two chargers and the hack in some of my 
clothing up to the major's training stables, so they 

are safe for the present. In the meantime-By 

Gad ! Dandy, we're done ! I told that fool of a 
sentry not to let any civilian into the officers' 
quarters, and if that's not the two f bums' walking 
up stairs, I'm a Scotchman,' broke off f Little Nell,' 
as an ominous tramp was heard ascending the 
wooden staircase: and I became conscious that in a 
few more moments the writ would be served, and I 
should be no longer a free agent. What was to be 
done ? The cornet's genius stood me in good stead. 
Bushing out of my room, he ran down one flight of 
steps to the passage, of which one bailiff had already 
possessed himself, and knocking loudly at the major's 
door, adjured him, by the name of f Grand,' to come 
out and speak to him on most important business. 
The major, rapidly catching at the idea, kept his 
door bolted, and appeared to be parleying from 
within; and whilst the myrmidon of the law had his 
attention arrested by their conversation, I made a 
dash for the stairs, clad as I was in a heterogeneous 
costume of pilot coat, wide-awake hat, and military 
trousers, rushed down the steps half-a-dozen at a 



154 


DIGBY GRAND. 


time, and gained tlie door leading towards the hospi¬ 
tal gate, just as the man of law, awaking suddenly 
to the deception practised upon him, started off in 
chace. I had the heels of him, incumbered though 
I was by a long pair of brass spurs; but in avoiding 
Scylla I well nigh met shipwreck on Charybdis, for 
the wily officer had planted his assistant at the 
door of the officers* quarters leading towards the 
mess-room, at which he thought it probable I should 
break covert; and as I bounded across the barrack- 
yard at top speed, the aide-de-camp joined in the 
hue and cry. It was nearly dark, but I could see 
‘ Jenny Jumps* waiting for me, held by a huge 
moustached dragoon in stable attire, and straining 
every nerve to reach the pony, I leapt into the saddle 
seme ten yards in front of my disappointed pursuers. 
As I gave the little mare her head, and she sprang 
forward like an arrow from the bow, the last sounds 
I heard were the cheers of ‘ Little Nell,* as he 
halloo*d to me from an upper window. 

'Ride for your life, Dandy, through the garden- 
gate, and across the common; never mind the sunk 
fence, she jumps it with me every morning !* 

A couple of minutes more saw me well over the 
obstacle, emerging from the common into the lane 
beyond; and as f Jenny Jumps* settled down from 
the furious gallop at which she had started into the 
easy swing of a thorough-bred one*s stride, I was 
enabled to collect my ideas, sadly scattered by the 


LEG-BAIL. 


155 


hurry-scurry of the last ten minutes—for it had 
taken little more than that brief space of time to 
bring about the siege, the coup de main, and the 
escape—and to arrange in my own mind the wisest 
course to pursue under the somewhat novel circum¬ 
stances in which I found myself. 

‘ Jenny Jumps 5 carried me gallantly. The nearest 
cross-country railway station was my point, and 
thanks to the enduring mettle of the f little wonder J 
I bestrode, I reached that haven of safety just as a 
shrill scream and short irritable puff, betokened that 
those two great red eyes glaring through the dark¬ 
ness were on the very eve of departure. A couple 
of sovereigns to the official who relieved me of 
f Jenny Jumps/ as a security for her careful treat¬ 
ment and safe return—a ticket at the office window, 
given with sundry glances of surprise at my incon¬ 
gruous habiliments—a respectful greeting from the 
porter, an official who always sympathizes with a 
gentleman in a hurry, if he has no luggage—a 
banging of doors, a ringing of bells, and I am 
safely established in the corner of a first-class car¬ 
riage, speeding for Portsmouth at the rate of forty 
miles an hour. 


156 


CHAPTER VIII. 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END. 

TT was a raw, cold, comfortless morning, as I got 
out of the train at the Portsmouth terminus, and 
inquired my way to the nearest point at which I 
could embark on the dull leaden-coloured water. 
Day was breaking, with a drizzling rain that gave 
promise of small pleasure in any boating excursion, 
and was but little tempting to a man who expected 
for the next three months to have enough of the 
element to last him his life-time. I could not help 
shuddering as I caught a glimpse of the ill-defined 
horizon, and thought of the long, long weeks during 
which, in all probability, my range of vision would 
be limited to the monotonous expanse of the great 
deep, and it required the whole consciousness of my 
late escape, the full conviction that my only hope of 
liberty lay beyond the wave, to suppress that instinc¬ 
tive aversion with which the unenterprising biped 
man, more particularly when chilled and dispirited 
by a sleepless night and long journey, regards the 
maritime sphere of his amphibious existence. For 


GOING FOREIGN. 


157 


me, however, the only chance was to take the water. 
Hitherto all had gone well. Thanks to my Cornet 
and his pony, I had reached the railway safe and 
intact; thanks to the railway, I had arrived, via 
cross-lines and junctions, at Portsmouth sea-port; 
and now, when another hour would place me in 
security on board the Hyderabad , should I forego 
that immediate sanctuary, and run additional risk of 
discovery and capture, merely to enjoy a thoroughly 
good breakfast at the George Hotel, and revel in the 
last comfortable meal I was likely to partake of for 
many a long day ? The temptation was great, but 
I withstood it, and lighting a huge cigar to dull the 
importunate cravings of a healthy appetite (the 
brandy-flask, alas! had been long emptied), I betook 
myself to the water-side, and finding no difficulty, 
even at that early hour, in chartering a boat for my 
voyage, I confided my person, for of luggage I was 
totally destitute, to a crazy-looking craft, denomi¬ 
nated f a dingy/ and plumped down into her stern, 
opposite a venerable hump-backed Triton, whose 
unassisted efforts were to propel us to our destina¬ 
tion, in the undignified manner with which a lands¬ 
man usually accomplishes the feat. 

( Things is gone aboord, sir, I expect V said the 
Triton, in allusion to my unencumbered condition, 
as we opened the harbour and dipped over the short 
disagreeable swell of the Channel. f Going foreign 
in the Hyderabad , as I conclude V added the old 


158 


DIGBY GEAND. 


man, plying his oars vigorously, and refreshing him¬ 
self with a copious expectoration. I answered in 
the affirmative, and made a natural inquiry as to the 
position of my future prison, which was immediately 
pointed out to me, beyond a whole forest of masts, 
through which to my inexperienced eye it appeared 
we must necessarily thread our way. Not so, how¬ 
ever; swinging round suddenly, and catching a sea 
that drenched me to the skin, we ‘ took the flood/ 
as my Charon expressed it, and after passing close 
under the stern of a seventy-four, and shaving the 
bows of a tender thereto belonging, we stretched 
boldly away, as it seemed to me, for the Bay of 
Biscay, to accomplish the two or three miles of 
ruffled water that foamed between us and the Hyder¬ 
abad . As the Triton warmed to his work, he became 
vastly communicative, and although he declined the 
assistance which I felt bound to offer, I could see 
that my proposal of taking one of the oars raised 
me considerably in his estimation. ‘ Comfortable 
ship, sir, the Hyderabad ,’ growled the veteran, ‘ and 
well-found, too, d’ye see ! Taking her water aboard 
now; let alone stores and such like. She wont sail 
for two or three days yet, may be; howsomever, that’s 
neither here nor there.’ 

‘ She seems a fine ship,’ said I, as we neared her 
enormous hull, and gained some idea of her bulk; 
‘ better off a wind than on one, I dare say.’ 

f Right again, father,’ said the veteran. f Sail, can 


ALL HANDS TO BOARD! 


159 


she ?—like a haystack. I knows her. I come home 
from Madras in that identical ship twenty years ago, 
pretty nigh, and she aint no smarter now than she 
was then. We made a precious run of it, I don’t 
think; one hundred and seventy-five days, from first 
to last, and fair weather the whole voyage. Why, 
the Duck Lion —(query, Deucalion ?)—the Duck Lion, 
Captain Baffler, spoke us off the Cape, and she came 
home, and cleared out, and was half way to Bombay 
again afore we made the Needles. Hows’ever, as I 
said afore, she’s a wholesome old barky, and I wish 
I might have never worse luck—’Vast heaving, 
there, you gallows lubber—where be you a-comin’ ?’ 
thundered out the narrator, as the thread of what 
promised to be rather a long story was prematurely 
cut short by a crashing of timber behind him, and 
the startling apparition of a boat’s sharp nose run¬ 
ning right over our bows, and threatening to force 
us down into the forbidding depths of the angry 
Channel, whilst a gruff voice exclaimed in a tone of 
triumph, ‘ Boarded them, by Jingo! it’s all right; 
this here is the gent as we’re a-looking for! Your 
servant. Captain Grand ! Sorry to interfere with a 
pleasure trip, but business is businesswhilst the 
persuasive accents of a voice that could only belong 
to a lawyer’s clerk, softened the infuriated boatman 
with reiterated assurances that f all repairs should be 
made good and damages accounted for by Mr. Sha- 
drach, or parties acting by his instructions,’—a pro- 


160 


DIGBY GRAND. 


mise in which the sturdy old seaman seemed to put 
little faith; in fact, I gathered from his looks that 
very small encouragement on my part would have 
induced him to show fight—and had we been con¬ 
cerned with only the two boarders, the probability is 
we should have thrown them both into the Channel. 
Fortunately, however, for these myrmidons of the 
law, the boat which had wafted them to their prey, 
and was now ranged alongside of our crazy little 
dingy, contained, in addition to a Portsmouth con¬ 
stable, four stout fellows at the oars, a glance at 
whose determined, weather-beaten faces and stalwart 
forms convinced me that resistance would be hope¬ 
less, and that the wisest course under the circum¬ 
stances would be to bow to the storm, and give 
myself up peaceably to those gentlemen, who evi¬ 
dently possessed the power, as they had the will, of 
bringing me bodily into captivity. In less time than 
it takes to relate it, I had been presented with just 
such a slip of paper as I had sped from Canterbury 
to avoid, and found myself sitting quietly down 
between two bailiffs, in the stern of a four-oared 
gig, for the first time in my life a prisoner to the 
law. 

The feeling, I confess, was by no means a pleasant 
one, although its keenness was to a certain degree 
abated by the fact that I had often of late contem¬ 
plated the possibility of such a catastrophe, which, 
like most other afflictions, loses much of its horror 


c UP A TREE/ 


161 


when divested of the exaggerating effect of distance. 
The first consideration was, f What must immediately 
he done V It was no use to sit in an open boat, wet 
to the skin, and repine at the unfortunate chance 
which had seized on the captive when so near his 
haven—at the bad look-out kept by myself and 
faithful Charon, owing in a great measure to the 
fondness for narrative indulged in by the latter—or 
at the accurate information and keen-scented vigi¬ 
lance which had enabled Mr. Shadrach to place in 
operation two effective forces simultaneously, the one 
to besiege the barracks at Canterbury, the other to 
effect a spirited coup-de-main in the British Channel. 
No; the first thing to be done, doubtless, was 
breakfast, after which some arrangement must be 
entered upon to restore liberty to the captive, at 
whatever sacrifice. With a coolness which I owe 
more to education than to natural strength of mind, 
I civilly requested my captors to allow me a few 
minutes to communicate with a friend ere I returned 
to terra firma , and on the blank leaf of a pocket-book 
I scribbled a few lines to Cartouch, begging him 
immediately to come ashore, and present himself 
without delay at f The George/ where he would find 
me in durance vile. This missive, devoutly hoping 
that the Colonel might have already entered upon 
his duties on board the Hyderabad , I intrusted to 
my hump-backed boatman to deliver without fail, 
and as the request was not unaccompanied by a 
VOL. II. M 


162 


DIGBY GRAND. 


douceur that would pay handsomely for the damage 
done to his craft, I had a lively faith that it would 
he punctually attended to; and the old sailor, evi¬ 
dently sympathizing with a gentleman in difficulties, 
readily volunteered to fulfil my commission, and as 
he rowed off in an opposite direction, and ever and 
anon dropping his oar for a moment, waved his 
unoccupied hand, as though in encouragement, I 
felt, foolish as it may appear, almost as if I had lost 
my last remaining friend. 

I flatter myself that I rather did create a sensation 
in the George Hotel, Portsmouth, as I walked into 
that most comfortable caravanserai, in the peculiar 
costume recorded above, the startling effect of my 
attire much enhanced by travelling all night and 
substituting a breezy sail on the Channel for the 
usual morning toilette of a gentleman; and I thought 
the buxom landlady and the ‘ quality 5 -loving waiter 
cast glances of unmistakable sympathy on my dis¬ 
hevelled person and incongruous attire, as the peculiar 
demeanour of my companions betrayed their pro¬ 
fession; and the latter observant functionary whis¬ 
pered in the ear of his pitying mistress, c Poor young 
gent ! (breakfast for three directly—mutton-chops !) 
bailiffs, as Pm a sinner V 

One of Theodore HoolCs inimitable characters, the 
bachelor, Mr. Batley, in expressing his disapproval of 
all f joint-stock* concerns, sums up with the following 
pithy conclusion :— f I never had a wife, I never had 


A FRIEND IN NEED. 


163 


a partner, and hang me if I think I ever had a 
friend !* nor to a man well to do in the world, im¬ 
mersed in business, and wholly wrapped up in his 
own concerns, is the last-mentioned article either 
necessary or always convenient; but had Mr. Batley 
been a gentleman in difficulties, finding himself for 
the first time curtailed of his liberty, in a strange 
town, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, and destitute 
of luggage or change of raiment, I think he would 
have been as rejoiced as I was, to see such a trusty 
ally as responded immediately to my summons, in 
the person of Cartouch, who made his appearance at 
f The George* ere I had finished my long-expected 
breakfast, or my gentle captors had discussed the 
brandy-and-water with which they thought it expe¬ 
dient to while away the time. 

f Knowing fellow, Shadrach,* was the Colonel* s 
comment upon that worthy*s coup-de-main; { very 
cleverly managed. Now, Digby, we must get this 
matter put right. Sir Benjamin does not sail for 
two more days, and I can run up to London with 
you, where we will meet the principals, and see what 
is to be done.* * Useless, I am afraid,* was my reply, 
f I am in for a * screamer,* and the bill for which I 
am arrested is only a ruse to prevent my leaving 
England. I fear I must give up this appointment, 
and come to terms with the Jew.* f In the mean 
time we will all be off by the next train,* said the 
Colonel; f your things were to come on board to-day, 

M 2 


164 


DIGBY GRAND. 


so they must have arrived in Portsmouth. I will 
send to the station for them, and you can shave, 
dress, and start like a gentleman/ The ColonePs 
measures were as promptly executed as they were 
judiciously conceived, and ere twenty-four hours had 
elapsed, a conclave, consisting of ourselves, Mr. 
Shadrach, and Levanter, to whom, for want of a 
better friend, I had sent on my arrival in London, 
were assembled in the Israelite’s parlour, to discuss 
ways and means, and come to terms that should, at 
all events, set me at liberty for the present. Business 
details are proverbially uninteresting; it is, therefore, 
sufficient to say that, upon a close investigation of 
the state of my affairs, they were found to be so 
hopelessly involved as to entail an immediate sale of 
the commission I held in the Dragoons, a total 
breaking up of my establishment, and the abandon¬ 
ment of my Indian appointment: nor would all these 
sacrifices have been sufficient to satisfy Mr. Sha- 
drach’s demand, had it not been for the liberal use of 
his name with which Levanter favoured me, and for 
which, by an understood agreement, I was to return 
him all the advantages which my own signature might 
be supposed to confer. ‘ I’ll hack your bill if you’ll 
back mine V what a number of ruined speculators, 
distressed dependants, and distracted families may 
trace their misfortunes to this plausible and apparently 
simple arrangement. 

Contrary to the advice of Cartouch, and against 


what's in a name? 


165 


my own better sense, I entered into one of these 
reciprocal arrangements with Levanter, who was now 
concerned in a bubble scheme, of which the shares 
were to be unheard-of fortunes, and the public the 
dupes; but, in the mean time, Mr. Shadrach was 
content to take, for the bills of mine which he held, 
all the ready money I could muster in the world, in 
addition to such security as I had to offer, and I 
walked out of the gaudy little drawing-room, in which 
I had first made the Israelite's acquaintance, a free 
man certainly, as far as corporal emancipation was 
concerned, but to all intents and purposes a beggar. 
Cartouch was obliged to return to Portsmouth, so I 
had not even his assistance in the final arrangement 
of my affairs; and when I had written to Colonel 
Bold, requesting leave f to retire from the service by 
the sale of my commission/ and had arranged with 
Tattersall for the disposal of the few horses and car¬ 
riages I possessed, I felt quite at a loss as to my 
future proceedings, and could not for a time realize 
my forlorn position; the fact of my having no pro¬ 
fession, no occupation, no one on whom I could 
depend, and, above all, not a farthing in the world. 

True, I was a beggar, yet I did not find much 
difference in my daily life, nor any want of those 
little luxuries which become necessaries to the exotic 
offspring of civilization. I ate as good a dinner every 
day as formerly, and with the same people, though 
I was obliged to substitute a hack cab for the high- 


166 


DIGBY GRAND. 


stepping grey horse and the well hung vehicle on 
which I once so piqued myself. I went to the same 
parties that in my palmy days I had voted so great 
a bore, but that now, when I was living as though 
every day were my last, acquired a charm they had 
never before possessed. My wardrobe was well 
replenished with fashionable garments, that lost none 
of their gloss by the fact of their being unpaid for, 
and amid the sale of all my other personalities there 
was always a certain quantity of f small change* 
available for my daily expenses; so that any one to 
have seen me swaggering down St. JamesVstreet, 
well-dressed and carefully booted, bowing to my 
Lady this, and offering an arm to my Lord that, 
while a dinner with one or a whist party with the 
other was arranged and discussed, would have been 
somewhat staggered to be informed that the fashion¬ 
able-looking gentleman, whose exterior betokened all 
that was affluent and expensive, who looked as if he 
lived on the fat of the land amongst her proudest and 
her noblest, was destitute of any tangible property 
save his whiskers, and had no certain guarantee that, 
ere a week should elapse, he might not be compelled 
to occupy airy lodgings under the dry arches of 
Westminster-bridge, even if such accommodation 
should not eventually lead to the bed of the river 
itself. London was emptying fast, fortunately, as I 
then thought, for I still clung tenaciously to the 
shadow of that fashionable reputation for which I 


THE TAILOR DECLINES. 


167 


had sacrificed so much; and day by day those 
greetings became fewer, which I could not help 
thinking, with the sensitiveness peculiar to poverty, 
lacked much of their original warmth and cordiality. 
Besides, garments must eventually become thread¬ 
bare, and gloves, particularly the lavender ones 
especially affected by dandyism, will not long with¬ 
stand the effects of a London atmosphere. Shops 
into which I had once swaggered as the arbiter 
elegantiarum, and in which I had been greeted with 
obsequious politeness, now refused to pursue any 
further that confiding system of credit which had 
been, to quote the words of my perfumer, * in Captain 
Grand's case so wilfully abused/ Even f Strides/ 
the long-suffering Strides, that creator of manly 
beauty, who ‘ builds' your coat on the model of an 
Apollo, and to whose wonderfully-fitting e continua¬ 
tions/ ‘ pants' he calls them, the e Anaxyridians' 
themselves are but as a Dutchman's drawers—even 
Strides would stand it no longer; and I never 
thoroughly appreciated the degradation of my 
position till I met with the following rebuff in 
what he was pleased to term ‘ the warehouse/ 
in which I was used to be welcomed as f our best 
customer/ ‘ the tastiest dresser at the West-end.' It 
was a sunny afternoon in early autumn, and more 
from habit than anything else, partly perhaps sick of 
seeing my own name posted up as in ' arrears of 
subscription/ in every club I entered, I lounged into 


168 


DIGBY GKAND. 


Strides* shop for the purpose of killing half an hour 
by ordering some new clothes. A short, square 
figure, surmounted by a shock head of hair, was un¬ 
dergoing measurement in the centre of the apart¬ 
ment, and whilst an assistant in his shirt-sleeves 
rapidly noted down proportions, and memoranda, as 
they glided from the lips of the busy foreman, I had 
leisure to puzzle my brains as to the eventful appear¬ 
ance of the mysterious garment which he thus 
described :— f Thirty two*— f fourteen*— f scarlet hunt¬ 
ing-coat* — c superfine* — f Gambroon !* — f opossum 
pockets*— f spoon cuffs*— f that will do, sir*— f thank 
you, sir *—‘ quite sufficient, sir/ The square figure 
thus released was a Nimrod from the city, and to 
judge by appearances, a ready-money customer. 
Alas! how different from the successor who now 
occupied his place. Instead of the ready dexterity, 
the glib intelligence I had heretofore met with, the 
foreman*s tape remained suspended between finger 
and thumb, and a grave 1 Step this way, sir,* ushered 
me into the sanctum of the proprietor himself, whose 
usually urbane countenance was now gathered into a 
frown betokening uncompromising firmness and defi¬ 
ance. e Very sorry, Captain,* said Mr. Strides, 
becoming like all men of weak nerves, more agitated 
as he got deeper into his subject, ^very sorry, sir, 
but quite contrary to our rules to supply any further 
articles, with such a large outstanding account— 
money very scarce—good many gents leaving town 


MONEY UNUSUALLY TIGHT. 


169 


—bill delivered—lawyer’s letter totally unattended 
to—scandalous usage—legal measures/ &c. &c. &c. 
What I replied I know not, but a scene of abuse 
and recrimination ensued, to which I ought never to 
have subjected myself, and as I walked out of the 
shop, I confess that for the first time in my life, I 
did feel wofully, thoroughly, despicably small! And 
to this I had arrived! I, the descendant of a chival¬ 
rous family, the heir of an ancient name, never yet 
sullied by the breath of dishonour—with opportu¬ 
nities enjoyed by few, with a good education, a 
glorious profession, and a fair start in life. To 
what had I come at last ?—My commission was gone 
—the doors of my father’s house were shut in my 
face—and I was actually a prisoner at large, enjoy¬ 
ing my freedom only on sufferance, dependant for 
my very right of breathing the open air on the 
liberality of a tradesman, the forbearance of a Jew ! 
The world might sneer and laugh, dandies in pos¬ 
session might vote I had mismanaged my affairs, 
whilst dandies in expectation might consider my 
present strait as the normal condition of man, a lot 
which sooner or later must overtake themselves, but 
which they devoutly hope may be long and in¬ 
definitely postponed. St. Heliers doubtless would 
say something f better’ than usual anent my discom¬ 
fiture, as he settled himself comfortably in the great 
arm-chair, in the great bow-window, and dispensed 
the pearls and rubies of his conversation amongst a 


170 


DIGBY GRAND. 


listless throng, who could scarce condescend to laugh 
even at his witticisms whom they had raised to the 
exalted position of their jester in ordinary. Jack 
Lavish, whose constitutional good-nature not all the 
training of all the clubs in the world could alloy, 
would pity me; but he too would smile, for Jack 
has beautiful teeth and likes to show them to advan¬ 
tage ; but what would be the opinion entertained of 
me by those whom I really valued and respected— 
what would my old comrades think of the broken- 
dowm spendthrift, who had once held an honoured 
place in their ranks as an officer and a gentleman ? 
—what would Colonel Grandison say?—what would 
Maltby, what would Hillingdon?—and as I thought 
of my true, my early, my real friend, the tears sprang 
unbidden to my eyes ! Hillingdon would assist me 
with his advice and console me with his society— 
Hillingdon would put me in the way of at least 
earning a respectable livelihood—Hillingdon was the 
only man in the world to whom my proud spirit 
could bear to rest under obligation, and to Hilling¬ 
don I determined to betake myself whilst I was yet 
at liberty to guide my own steps. But even this 
cost me a severe struggle. Even to Hillingdon I 
could not bear to appear as a suppliant; the idea 
was too galling that he who in former days had 
known me the proudest of the proud, the gayest of 
the gay, should now find me seeking his presence as 
a petitioner, dependant upon charity for the very 


COMING EVENTS, ETC. 171 

bread I was to eat—-and yet there was nothing else 
for it. At least from him I should meet with no 
gratuitous censure, no unfeeling rebuff. His gene¬ 
rous mind would never condescend to alloy the sym¬ 
pathy he was sure to afford with those retrospective 
strictures which add another drop of bitterness to the 
cup already filled to the brim; and whatever assistance 
Hillingdon would offer he was sure to offer in his own 
frank, manly, and considerate spirit. Revolving such 
thoughts as these, I strolled leisurely on towards my 
friend’s lodgings, and as I turned down the well- 
known street, brighter hopes seemed to dance before 
me, whilst I anticipated the welcome I should re¬ 
ceive, and could almost fancy I heard his enthusiastic 
enunciation of that sentiment, a favourite one on his 
lips, which has ere now consoled many a gallant heart, 
the tout est perdu, sauve Vhonneur of France’s chival¬ 
rous monarch. 

There is truth in presentiments, though it is not 
for us mortals to explain their nature, as how can 
we explain the commonest incidents of our every day 
life? Yet as there is an unearthly stillness imme¬ 
diately preceding the furious rush of the hurricane, 
as a momentary palsy, frightful from its indistinct¬ 
ness, appears to pervade nature on the eve of an 
earthquake, so may the shadow of his uplifted arm 
be seen athwart the sky ere the Avenger has dealt 
the blow which is to prostrate us in the dust. An 
icy chill crept over me, a dull foreboding of evil 


172 


DIGBY GRAND. 


came upon me, as I walked up the steps of Hilling¬ 
don’s well-known residence, long before I discovered 
that the shutters were closed, and that the house 
bore that solemn mysterious air which, we cannot 
tell why, is inseparable from the abode of death. A 
glance at the pale face of the servant who answered 
the door, a hasty inquiry for Captain Hillingdon's 
own man, and I staggered into a chair in the hall 
with the whole truth indelibly and unerringly im¬ 
pressed on my brain. It was needless to explain. 
I required no hesitating sympathizer to break to me, 
forsooth, the ghastly reality—I knew it before I was 
told—Hillingdon had shot himself that very morn¬ 
ing ! Strange as it may appear, it was more diffi¬ 
cult to realize the truth of the awful tidings, when 
the old and faithful servant, himself bowed down 
and prostrate with horror and consternation, stam¬ 
mered out the particulars into my ear, than in that 
first moment of consciousness, when without the aid 
of any outward voice I knew the frightful truth. 
There in his own sitting-room, his hat and gloves on 
the table, the very cigar-case I had given him lying 
ready for use—it seemed impossible,—impossible ! 
Everything betokened life, and life's enjoyments; 
the colours were scarcely dry upon his easel; and 
those very flowers which he had himself disposed in 
their vase, with his womanly appreciation of every¬ 
thing that was lovely, those flowers were blooming 
fragrant as ever, and could he, the master, be lying 


THE ENTHUSIAST’S END. 


173 


upstairs with a cloth over his head, a mutilated 
corpse ! And such an ending ! To die by his own 
hand. I dared not pursue the train of my thoughts 
any further, and it was almost a relief to sit and 
listen to the poor old domestic’s broken narrative of 
the events which had led to the fatal conclusion we 
could even now scarcely bring ourselves to believe. 
One thing I remarked, and one thing only which 
might lead me to suppose that a change had come 
over the habits of my friend. Occupying a pro¬ 
minent situation in his sitting-room, hung a portrait, 
which ever since I had known him was carefully 
veiled by a black curtain. Not one of his friends 
had ever seen the painting, and the supposition that 
it was a likeness of the unfortunate Austrian lady 
to whom in early life he had been attached, was 
sufficient to check all curious remarks or ill-timed 
allusions, as regarded a subject on which he himself 
preserved an unbroken silence. The curtain was 
now removed, and as I sat opposite the picture, 
listening to the dreadful details of her lover’s death, I 
could not keep my eyes from dwelling on the gentle 
features of her who had exercised such a baneful 
influence on my poor friend. She was portrayed as 
a fair highborn-looking girl, of some nineteen sum¬ 
mers, but what was most striking in the countenance 
was that eager, high-souled, and yet suffering ex¬ 
pression, which gave such interest to poor Hilling¬ 
don’s own features—that unearthly look which those 


174 


DIGBY GRAND. 


who are doomed to an early death seem to bear on 
their foreheads, as the premonitory seal of the de¬ 
stroyer—a spirit-beauty which the spirit claims to 
wear in consideration of its premature release; and 
this was as manifest on the lovely portrait of his 
youthful bride as I knew it to be on that glorious 
countenance which was lying upstairs fixed and cold 
in death. 

Let me draw a veil over the scene that followed, 
over the servant’s lamentations and my own unbear¬ 
able grief. I saw him—I saw the well-beloved face, 
the admired form—and I shudder to think of the 
state in which I saw them. Days elapsed ere I 
could bring myself to make the necessary arrange¬ 
ments which, as his intimate friend, devolved upon 
myself, and into the details of which it was loathsome 
to see how Mammon crept, even into the chamber of 
death. It is sufficient to say that from the accounts 
of his servants, and the examination of his papers, 
which became necessary, I gathered clearly that my 
poor friend had been decidedly and undoubtedly 
insane for some time previous to the fatal act, and 
this was all the consolation, since consolation un¬ 
questionably it was, for the loss of the brightest, 
truest, kindliest spirit that ever chafed within its 
tenement of clay. 

And it was Play that had brought the enthusiast 
to his self-selected grave. Play: first the seductive 
pastime, then the invincible habit, lastly, the despotic 


THE SPIRIT-BRIDE. 


175 


infatuation, from which there is no escape. Deeper 
and deeper had Hillingdon been drawn into the 
whirlpool, and this was the result. A pursuit first 
adopted to deaden the stings of conscience and hush 
the importunate wailings of remorse, had at length 
become the one object of existence, the whole being 
of the man. Lose of course he did, and largely. 
Nor were the chances of the gaming-table sufficient 
to allay that craving for excitement which indeed too 
surely ‘ grows with what it feeds on/ Stock-jobbing, 
railway shares, mining investments, all and everything 
that promised hazardous ventures and dispropor¬ 
tionate returns, were embarked in with an eagerness 
too much in character with that imaginative disposi¬ 
tion which made him at once an artist, a poet, and a 
speculator. Dor a time Hillingdon's speculations 
had met with tolerable success; enough indeed to 
encourage him to push his ventures up to the 
verge of all his available fortune, and his master's 
spirits, as the old servant described them, were 
higher than he had ever known, (for T think I have 
already mentioned the singular impassiveness of my 
friend's outward demeanour,) but even during this 
period of temporary sunshine his eccentric habit was 
never broken through of sitting undisturbed for 
a portion of each day, gazing on that portrait, which 
appeared to comprise all he valued and loved upon 
earth. This was an unalterable rule, and day after 
day his cheek was paler and his eye more haggard 


176 


DIGBY GRAND. 


after tlie communion, which he strove to think he 
thus held with his spirit-love. Then came reverses 
and failures. Those in whom he confided abused his 
trust. Shares went down to nothing. An enterprise 
in which Levanter, whom he always disliked, had 
persuaded him to join, failed utterly, and Hillingdon, 
as the only tangible person concerned, suffered 
severely. Whole nights spent dice-box in hand 
were not likely to restore matters, and f the begin¬ 
ning of the end* became too apparent. All this 
time his outward bearing remained totally unchanged, 
the same calm demeanour, the same mild voice and 
placid brow, and above all, the same sweetness of 
temper, that won him the affection of all with 
whom he came in contact. f Late or early, good or 
evil/ said his old servant, the tears running down his 
withered cheeks, f I never had a sharp word, or 
an unkind look from my beloved master. Oh, 
Captain Grand, you know what he was, I need not 
tell you /' and an uncontrollable burst of grief 
checked the poor old man's melancholy recital. At 
length it became obvious that his whole remaining 
property would only suffice to clear him of his 
liabilities, and as soon as he discovered this to be 
the fact, he made no secret of his involvements. 
By one desperate effort he did try to retrieve 
himself. Alas! it was a gambler's struggle, and he 
lost. With a jealousy of military honour, which 
may be appreciated though scarcely understood, he 


THE LAST STEP. 


177 


had made up his mind to stop short of a sum which 
would entail upon him the sale of his commission, 
and he seemed to have determined that, come what 
might, he would at least die with f harness on his 
hack/ A like reserve was made for leaving hand¬ 
some legacies to a few old servants and dependants, 
after which his whole remaining property was devoted 
to clearing himself of his liabilities. Thus much I 
learned from his servant and the lawyers with whom 
he had been concerned. The rest of his history 
alas ! comprising but a few days, I gathered from 
the papers which he left in his desk, addressed to 
myself, and accompanied by a few trifling memorials 
of his affection and esteem. What his original 
intentions were I am unable to declare, but it 
appears probable, that looking upon the loss of his 
personal possessions with an indifference peculiar to 
himself, he had shaped the idea of following out the 
service as a profession, and winning eventual distinc¬ 
tion and independence in a military career. Of advice 
he seems to have had plenty, and beloved as he was, 
he might, contrary to the usual practice in such 
offers, have had assistance nearly in the same pro¬ 
portion, but it was one of his peculiarities to be 
indebted to no man, and his was a spirit to chafe 
above all at the well-meant counsels of a worldly 
and calculating friend. But the philosophy which 
could smile calmly at the ruin of a worldly fortune 
should not have been accompanied by the sensitive 
YOL. II. N 


178 


DIGBY GRAND. 


and imaginative temperament that firmly believed in 
its power of holding converse with beings of another 
sphere; and the excitement of poor Hillingdon's 
latter career had, in breaking his health and shatter¬ 
ing his nerves, sapped the foundations of that mys¬ 
terious barrier which separates the shores of reason 
from the illimitable ocean of insanity. Step by step, 
as I read on, I traced the downfall of my poor 
friend's reason; step by step I beheld the catastrophe 
approaching, of which I knew too well the terrible 
result. For years he had believed in the actual 
apparition of his Austrian love; twice, as he often 
assured me, he had seen her distinctly in the flesh, 
and the conviction was indelibly impressed upon his 
mind that a third appearance would be immediately 
followed by his own decease. With the peculiar 
reasoning of insanity, this belief appeared now to 
have assumed the shape of a stringent obligation, a 
point of honour, and as he himself expressed it, f he 
should be bound to follow when she beckoned him 
away.' Once more the phantom stood by his side, 
and from that moment the curtain was withdrawn 
from the fatal portrait. Twelve hours afterwards he 
had ceased to exist; and the beauteous form, the 
gallant chivalrous spirit, the kindly loving heart, 
were as though they had never been. 

We buried him in hallowed ground. Grateful at 
least for this. The sun shone, the streets looked 
gay and crowded. Business knit the brows, or plea- 


DUST TO DUST. 


179 


sure brightened the cheeks of the heedless passengers 
as they moved to and fro upon their amusements or their 
occupations. Did that death-stroke upon the minute 
bell thrill to the heart of one child of Mammon? 
did that mournful procession, as ever and anon it 
stopped, and wound on again in mysterious gravity, 
speak its solemn warning to one individual in that 
busy throng? ‘ We are bearing one of ourselves to 
his real home. Yesterday was he such as ye are, 
to-morrow shall ye be like him. His place shall be 
your place, and where he is going ye shall go/ I 
fear me not. We have indeed authority to believe, 
that where all else hath failed, not even the voice of 
one from the dead shall prevail. 

We buried him. Shall I ever forget the dull 
dead sound of the damp earth, as it smote upon his 
coffin ? Ashes to ashes—dust to dust! Was this 
the end of all ? My friend ! my brother ! 

As I turned from the churchyard they were bear¬ 
ing in another funeral—so soon ! I felt that he was 
already forgotten. What mattered it to me ? I was 
alone in the world ! 


180 


CHAPTER IX. 

WINDING DP. 

TT was high noon when I turned my back on the 
church-yard which now contained my last friend. 
I was, indeed, in a mood least of all fitted to 
encounter the noise and bustle of the crowded metro¬ 
polis ; and as I thought of the vulgar curiosity, the 
impertinent inquiries of the many busybodies in the 
haunts of fashion, who would have small scruple in 
wringing my heart to satisfy their own craving for 
news, I shrank from the clubs and other places of 
resort, where I felt conscious that even now the fate 
of my poor friend was the topic of the gossip’s elo¬ 
quence and the idler’s sneer. Little heeding my 
steps as I walked on immersed in grief, I found 
myself insensibly drawing near the outskirts of 
London, and ere long the rapidity of my motions 
(singular how the chafing mind insensibly communi¬ 
cates its impatience to the frame !) brought me into 
the open country, smiling and glowing in all the 
luxuriance of an afternoon sun. That day has ever 
since appeared to me like a dream. I was then, as 
it were, on the verge which separates two distinct 
and opposite states of existence. Shame and ruin 
alone stared me in the face; but of this I was com- 


THE BUBBLE BURST. 


181 


paratively careless; the black cloud that overhung 
the present appeared to benumb my faculties, and 
my soul, weary and worn out with grief, had arrived 
at the state of exhausted torpidity which the unob¬ 
servant mistake for repose. Have you ever marked 
the expression of dismay which blanks the counte® 
nance of some rosy urchin, whose soap-bubble has 
vanished from his incredulous sight? Long and 
eagerly has he watched the prismatic colours of the 
rainbow mantling in that gorgeous globe, his own 
creation, and just at its brightest, lo ! it is not. You 
smile at the astonished disappointment of the child, 
but you, grown man as you are, enriched by experi¬ 
ence and fortified by self-command, are you not 
conscious that there was a time when you, too, saw 
your world fading from before your sight ?—when all 
that made life precious vanished like the beauteous 
illusions of a dream, and you rubbed your eyes and 
looked about you, and could scarce believe that the 
outward world was still the same, so entire, so com¬ 
plete was the change that had taken place within. 
That day, as I lay upon a sun-dried bank, and gazed 
upon the blue sky and the fleecy clouds, and the 
warm haze, which melted the distance into a halo of 
beauty—that day was my day of disenchantment. 
Till then, through all my troubles, through all my 
difficulties, there had been a tinge of romance, a 
gleam of hope, which made the future a mine of 
untold wealth. Without anv rational cause for such 

1/ 


182 


DIGBY GRAND. 


anticipations, without any substantial basis for my 
castles in the air, I had always indulged myself with 
a sort of vague belief that all would eventually be 
well; and the image of Flora Belmont, to whom, 
despite of my reckless courses I was still sincerely 
attached, shed a ray of comfort over many an hour of 
annoyance and uncertainty. But the untimely death 
of poor Hillingdon had awoke me from all such infa¬ 
tuated and unfounded self-delusions. The reality 
was too forcibly thrust upon my view to admit of my 
deceiving myself any longer as to my own present 
position and probable fate. The romance of life 
was over, the charm of youth dispelled, and the 
stern training of manhood, the ordeal ever forbid¬ 
ding, often severe, through which all must pass, had 
commenced. Hours stole unheeded by, as I revolved 
these bitter thoughts in my mind—alternately 
indulging in hursts of irrepressible grief as I thought 
of him whom I had that morning consigned to the 
grave, and chafing to the verge of madness at my 
own follies and imprudences, w’hich had reduced me 
to such a state as made me envy my friend his undis¬ 
turbed resting-place. The lamps were lit and the 
night advanced as I retraced my steps into busy 
London, and fatigued with the conflict of my feel¬ 
ings, sought repose in the retirement of my own 
lodgings. But for me there was to he no rest. As 
I turned into the street, from the corner of which I 
could see my own house-door, I glanced around me 


HEADED AGAIN! 


183 


with a caution and wariness that had never deserted 
me since the well-remembered arrest in the Channel, 
with the eager vigilance that I had learnt as an Eton 
boy, when prying round corners for the dreaded form 
of a master, in the forbidden precincts of f up town/ 
hut which I never thought to be obliged to put in 
practice in after life. Many a time since have I seen 
a gallant fox headed from the point at which he hoped 
to find a safe and impregnable refuge, whilst the cry 
of his pursuers swelled louder and louder on the 
breeze. Many a time since, have I marked a well- 
dressed and fashionable-looking gentleman step forth 
‘ point device’ from his residence, and after one hasty 
glance at his shining hoots—ever the first care of a 
dandy f got up’ for the day—look anxiously around 
him, up the street and down the street, under the 
porticoes and over the way, and finally bolt hurriedly 
back into his own f sanctum,’ from whence he cannot 
again emerge with any certain security until the 
seventh day of the week. But never have I watched 
the discomfiture of either predatory animal without a 
fellow-feeling for his embarrassment—a vivid recol¬ 
lection of my own forlorn condition on that evening 
when I found the very portals, so to speak, of my 
own citadel in possession of the enemy ! 

The scout was doubtless vigilant, but I was the 
better c stalker’ of the two, saw him first, and thus, 
by a hasty retreat, was enabled to baffle his arrange¬ 
ments, and elude his grasp. 


184 


DIGBY GRAND. 


But now, indeed, I had arrived at the ne plus ultra 
of embarrassment. Weary and worn out, exhausted 
with grief, and stung by remorse, I had literally not 
a place wherein to lay my head. The clubs to which 
I belonged I felt ashamed to enter; nor, indeed, 
according to the wholesome rules that regulate such 
establishments, was I, properly speaking, a member of 
those associations, which repudiate the society of an 
individual whose subscriptions remain hopelessly in 
arrear. Should I present myself at St. Heliers* 
door, or that of any other fashionable friend ? Why, 
in my present dusty and travel-worn habiliments, 
the very porter would refuse me admittance ; nor, 
did the master know how typical was the outward 
guise of the dilapidated state of affairs within, would 
he condemn his servants zeal in thrusting such a 
shabby gentleman from the door. Hunger I had 
none, and my stock of cigars was not yet totally 
exhausted; but a burning thirst was raging at my 
throat, and I quenched it—I, the ci-devant dandy, to 
whom Amphytrions once appealed as to the purity of 
their claret, the flavour of their f sillery’—at the 
stable-pump of a mews, where my horses had stood 
for many a long day—animals whose very shoes were 
worth more than all I now possessed in the world. 
This was literally the case, for my whole stock of 
ready-money was reduced to a few shillings; all my 
property consisted of the clothes I had on my back; 
my apartments were in possession of the enemy; 


ON THE PAYE. 


185 


and my home, like many another desolate creature in 
the wide metropolis—my home was in the cold, 
unpitying streets. I thanked God that I was a man; 
at least, I was spared the perils that environ woman 
in her distress, and the corporeal sufferings of hunger 
and exposure were all I had to dread, whilst she, the 
weak of frame, the gentle-natured and the soft of 
heart, sees ruin, vice, and misery staring her in the 
face. 

How forbidding looked the long perspective of the 
empty streets, the closed doors, that interposed but 
an inch of wood-work between starvation and luxury 
—the child of misery and the minion of abundance. 
I shrank along the dark side of Pall Mall, fearful of 
being recognised by any one of those loungers on their 
club steps with whom I had so often stood, on a 
night like this, smoking, chatting, and laughing, as 
we discussed the past banquet, or planned the 
future revel, and my heart smote me to think how 
often I had omitted to relieve the wants of my 
fellow-creatures whilst I had the means; and how, 
in my present distress, the recollection of every deed 
of kindliness or charity (alas ! how few they were !) 
helped to deaden apprehension for the future and 
remorse for the past. 

Further eastward I strolled on, scarcely conscious 
of where I was going, but with an instinctive incli¬ 
nation to leave behind me that part of London in 
which I was likely to be recognised. Crowds of 


186 


DIGBY GRAND. 


foreigners were around me as I lounged through. 
Leicester-square, conspicuous even in that indistinct 
light for their capacious trowsers, into the pockets of 
which, for want of better lining, hands and arms were 
thrust up to the elbows, their small hats jauntily 
set on one side of the close-cropped raven head 
and the bushy beard catching the wreaths of cigar- 
smoke which streamed perpetually from their lips. 
The night wore on; the foreigners smoked and dis¬ 
appeared : the shabbiest of them had a garret some¬ 
where that he could call a home; but to me there 
was but one door open in all that enormous city— 
but one roof under the shelter of which I should be 
welcome, as long as the few shillings I could call my 
own were forthcoming,—I mean a silver hell. Not 
content with preying upon the highest and noblest 
of the land—not content with ever and anon the 
sacrifice of such a victim as the gallant spirit whose 
funeral I had that day attended—the demon of play 
hunts unglutted through the lower walks of fife, 
seeking whom he may devour. If the student of 
human nature would see the passions working in 
their most frightful intensity upon his fellow-man, 
let him visit some of these lower haunts of infamy 
which are nightly open to lure the fool to his 
destruction. 

Amongst the aristocracy, gambling is indeed a vice 
much to be reprobated, and great are the calamities 
which it entails upon its votaries; but still their 


THE SILVER HELL. 


187 


losses, so to speak, are only those of superfluities; 
the death-struggle for existence is to them unknown; 
and even were it not so, the discipline of refinement, 
which in that rank has become a second nature, 
would curb those outward demonstrations of violence 
and despair which in a silver hell rage unchecked. 
Here the starving mechanic, the outlawed refugee, 
the exposed sharper, crowd and jostle each other in 
the contest for the actual means of existence. It is 
as though the prodigal were scrambling for the husks 
upon his knees amongst the swine. Here the trem¬ 
bling hand may be seen clutching those paltry win¬ 
nings on which, it may be, the suffering wife and 
children are dependent for their long-desired meal, 
or staking the last earnings of toil in the vain hope 
that Fortune must smile upon such a cast. Here 
the impious execration may be heard rising furious 
from the blasphemers lips, as he sees swept away 
from before him the means of stifling that conscience 
which to-night shall dog him, sleeping or waking, 
like a fiend, to whom the wretch has sold himself 
body and soul. Here may be traced the gradual 
ruin of the once respectable domestic servant, which, 
commencing with the habit of speculation for which 
the f betting lists’ that throng every corner of our 
streets afford a disgraceful facility, tends steadily on 
in its downward course, till recklessness merges into 
dishonesty, and that high character which was at 
once his pride and his livelihood is blasted by the 


188 


DIGBY GRAND. 


infamy of a police report, and lost in the degradation 
of the hulks. Well may these dens he called ‘ hells 
and ( who enters here may indeed leave hope behind/ 
Lest the foul lust for gain should not of itself be 
sufficient to ensure the destruction of its votaries, 
alcohol lends its powerful assistance to the cause. On 
a rough deal table are laid out (alas ! but in humble 
imitation of more luxurious haunts) the huge coarse 
joints that shall inspire an artificial thirst, to be 
quenched by potations, inflaming and maddening the 
humble gamester to the necessary pitch of despera¬ 
tion, and the convulsed hideousness of passion is 
varied by the palsied stare of drunken imbecility. 

Winding up a dark wooden staircase, I pushed 
my way through a shabby green baize door, and past 
a ponderous ruffian, whose huge unsightly frame was 
intended to form a living barrier should the party be 
disturbed, as was sometimes the case, by an invasion 
of the police into this temple of Fortune, frequented 
by the vilest of the vile, and as I did so, I could not 
help being struck by the resemblance, in some of its 
most striking points, which, although so different in 
detail, the scene now before me bore to many other 
haunts in higher life, devoted, with all their outward 
refinement, to the same degrading purpose. The 
game was identical, and the well-known terms 
peculiar to hazard smote familiarly on my ear. 
Flaring tallow candles shed a glare upon a much- 
stained green table-cloth, upon which the dice were 


LIFE IN LEICESTER SQUARE. 


189 


descending with as much energy as I had ever seen 
exhibited when hundreds were at stake. To those 
eager unwashed faces the chances of the game were 
indeed of frightful importance, and hungry eyes 
glared upon the coins (for who would trust counters 
here ?) as, few in number and small in value, they 
changed rapidly from one rugged hand to another. 
A savage altercation between an unfortunate-looking 
wretch, in close buttoned coat and high threadbare 
stock, which looked ominous of the total absence of 
shirt, and the ruffianly groom-porter who took charge 
of the table, had brought the master of the establish¬ 
ment into the fray, and just as I entered the dispute 
was on the eve of being summarily settled by 
hustling out of doors the unfortunate, who had pro¬ 
bably been robbed of his little all—a measure not 
accomplished without much turmoil, and the venting 
of sundry frightful execrations. As I took my place 
at the table, a quiet military-looking man, with all 
the appearance of a gentleman, made way for me 
by his side, and, with a politeness I certainly did 
not expect to find here, handed me the box, which 
I hoped was to earn me, at least, a breakfast and 
a bed. 

Often before had I f cut the light pack, and called 
the rattling main/ but never as now, with starvation 
depending on the result. My last half-crown was 
on the table. I felt I had never played for so high 
a stake before. Shall I confess that there was a 


190 


DIGBY GRAND. 


thrill of something approaching to pleasure in the 
thought! Wonderfully is the human mind consti¬ 
tuted; and not the least of its wonders is that 
indescribable delight which it takes to balance in 
uncertainty. 

e It must come this time/ said my military friend. 
‘ I should double the stake, sir, if I were you/ 

I began to think my military friend was ‘a bonnet* 
—one of those harpies employed by gambling-house 
keepers to enhance temptation by the influence of 
example, and generally selected for their respectable 
and innocent appearance. Come it certainly did, 
but not exactly as I wanted, and the last two shil¬ 
lings and sixpence I was likely to see for some time 
disappeared from before my eyes. My military friend 
was ready with his condolences, and soon suggested 
that I was not yet what he called e completely 
cleaned out/ Young as I was in the experience of 
poverty, I had forgotten that a valuable watch might 
easily be disposed of, and that studs and wrist- 
buttons were at all times convertible into coin in 
such society as I was at present—always premising, 
that the seller was disposed to make terms easy 
in proportion to the prompt liberality of the pur¬ 
chaser. Over a slice of reeking beef and a glass of 
brandy, I disposed of my watch to the proprietor of 
the establishment for the sum of three pounds ten 
shillings, about a twentieth of its original value; and 
as I did so, I could not help thinking I recognised 


AN OLD AND SWORN FOE. 


191 


the countenance of my generous customer. To be 
sure, it was Sarmento ! Despite the bushy beard, the 
huge spectacles, the voluminous neck-handkerchief, 
and the Mosaic jewellery, I was sure I could not be 
mistaken in the well-remembered features of the 
stranger at the opera-house door, who seemed to 
possess such mysterious influence over the fascinating 
Coralie ; and a crowd of recollections teemed in my 
brain as I remarked, not yet completely obliterated, 
the scar dealt by my own right hand. Well, 
it was his turn now! Had he recognised me, 
of which I was totally uncertain, and known my 
present circumstances, he might have held him¬ 
self thoroughly avenged, even without waiting to 
see the produce of the watch find its way into his 
own possession, and the studs and shirt-buttons leave 
their owner without a farthing or the means of rais¬ 
ing one. My military friend having, doubtless, 
completed his tour of duty for the night, wished me 
a polite f good evening/ remarking that I f had been 
confoundedly unlucky, but should probably pull 
up again before the end of the week/ The end of 
the week, indeed ! I shuddered to think what was 
to become of me by the end of the day which had 
even now begun. Absorbed in the stern realities of 
what is mockingly called f play/ the hours had gone 
by unheeded, and a bright summer sun was calling 
the world into life and light as I slunk, a penniless 
vagabond, out of the Silver Hell. The end had 


192 


DIGBY GRAND. 


come at last ! Leaning my head against the iron 
railings in Leicester-square, I groaned aloud, and 
was ordered by the policeman on duty to move on. 

Half mechanically I strolled into Covent Garden, 
to mock my wretchedness with the sight of that 
earthly paradise of flowers, blooming and blushing 
in the gorgeous freshness of early morning. How 
their fragrance seemed to reproach me, as it recalled 
to my memory scenes long past, never to return. 
My childhood at Haverley, and the roses of its 
lawns and parterres, filling my romping infancy with 
delight and wonder. The glorious midsummer holi¬ 
days, when Latin and Greek held no existence, and 
all the world was fruit and flowers! the latter days 
of youth, how short a time ago, when I used to 
come to this very market, and select the choicest 
bouquets for my gentle Flora. And now ! Had it 
not been for the pride of manhood, I could have 
wept aloud! The very market woman knew me, 
shabby as I was, and with her old curtsey pointed out 
her freshest posies f for the captain/ I could not 
stand this, and turned away from these haunts of 
Pomona with, I fear, a curse upon my bps. On I 
wandered, through street and square, and, had I 
been in any other frame of mind, might have ad¬ 
mired the fresh beauties of even a London Aurora. 
Amongst all the denizens of our great metropolis, 
how few there are conversant with her charms at the 
only period in the twenty-four hours when she is 


A LONDON AURORA. 


193 


divested of her usual dusky mantle of smoke. The 
children of pleasure have just gone to bed; the sons 
of toil are not yet up and doing; and the early 
breakfast-stall-keeper, the sooty chimney-sweep, with 
here and there a particular thrifty milk-woman, or 
an extra fast youth, looking very yellow, and very 
much ashamed of his white neckcloth, as he steals 
home to his virtuous couch—are the sole admirers of 
the architectural beauties and the vivid colouring 
displayed by sunrise in London. I could see the 
whole length of Oxford-street as I paced leisurely 
along, the sole occupant of that usually crowded 
thoroughfare; and the cool breeze sweeping unpol¬ 
luted from the Park fanned my heated temples and 
invigorated my languid frame, now sinking from the 
combined effects of excitement, abstinence, and want 
of sleep. 

Hark! the cheering music of drums and fifes 
rouses the slumbering silence of morning, and a bat¬ 
talion of the Guards, with their clean white jackets 
and glancing firelocks, are seen defiling from the 
barracks in Portman-street to their early drill in the 
Park. How I envied the stalwart, fresh, healthy 
looking men, as they passed by me, and I shrank to 
their reverse flank to avoid the recognition of an 
officer. Long I gazed at the figure of the adjutant, 
whom I knew well, as he paced his quiet charger 
slowly behind the drums; and mechanically, footsore 
and sick at heart as I was, I followed the retiring 


VOL. II. 


0 


194 


DIGBY GRAND. 


music till I found myself skulking under the stately 
elms in Hyde-park, watching, at a distance, the 
manoeuvres and evolutions, in which, however tedious 
I may have once thought them, I would now have 
given many a year of life to bear a part. I thought 
I was the most miserable being in the universe, but 
infinite indeed are the degrees of woe. Stretched 
upon its face before me, its head buried in the tall 
grass, and its frame only betokening life by an occa¬ 
sional convulsive sob, lay a figure that even in that 
attitude I had no difficulty in recognising as the 
unlucky player whom I had lately seen so uncere¬ 
moniously ejected from the Silver Hell. As I 
approached him, he raised his head with a wild stare 
and an expression of unutterable misery, so intense 
that I could not refrain, even in my own helpless 
state, from attempting to administer some sort of 
consolation. f Are you ill/ said I, ‘ my good fellow ? 
Can I do anything for you?^ ‘ No, sir/ was his 
reply to my commonplace offer of assistance; f leave 
me alone, sir, if you please; let me stay here and 
die, or drag myself down to that bank, and finish in 
the Serpentine; and then what will become of Flora V 
And again he gave way to a burst of uncontrollable 
grief. That name was in itself enough to rouse my 
interest; but had it not been so, the despair of my 
companion would have forced sympathy from the 
most unfeeling, and by degrees I got him sufficiently 
calm to unbosom himself to one who, equally desti- 


THE RUINED TRADESMAN. 


195 


tute, was only able to offer him that slender consola¬ 
tion. He had been a man of good education, and I 
shall tell his short and melancholy history in his own 
words:— 

f I began life, sir/ he said, whilst the colour rose 
on his wasted cheek, and the tear stood in his dim 
eye, as he thought of the past— f I began life as a 
small tradesman, and once did a steady, excellent 
business, that ought to have been a provision for 
a family. I occupied a good house in Green-street, 
and was then a respectable man. I lost my wife, 
sir, some three years ago—a good wife she was to 
me; and after that I never prospered. I was always 
fond of a bit of sport, horse racing and such like, 
but she kept me from harm*s way; and if she had 
lived, it might have been different. Well, sir, I 
should have won a deal of money when f Skirmisher* 
won the Derby, and when I went to ask for my own 
the shutters were up, and the betting-list proprietors 
bankrupt. I lost what was to me a heavy sum, and 
was never paid a farthing. After that I got drink¬ 
ing, and speculated more and more. My business 
fell off, and at last I was sold up, and left the trade. 
Still I had a bit of money to go on with, and I 
turned it as I best could to keep myself and mv 
little girl, my little Flora. I went into partnership 
with a beer-house-keeper, but things went bad, and 
I lost most of what w r as left. After that I got 
reckless, and in an evil hour I went into the place 

0 2 


196 


DIGBY GRAND. 


where you saw me last night. Day after day have 
I thought, and pondered, and calculated on the 
game; and night after night have I tried to make 
my calculations answer as they should do if there is 
any truth in figures. Last night I left my little 
girl supperless, and pawned the only remaining coat 
I had, for a final chance. The dice were loaded, sir ! 
I'll take my oath that scoundrel knew my plan, and 
loaded them to foil me. I have been walking about 
ever since, till you found me here. I cannot go 
home; I cannot face little Flora, asking for bread— 
for bread! and the child had no dinner yesterday. 
What shall I do ? oh ! what shall I do ?' And the 
poor fellow's whole frame quivered as he pictured a 
scene of misery that filled my eyes to overflowing. 

Now I felt how destitute I was. I had not even 
a sixpence to give the parent for his starving child. 
To think that there should he all this misery in the 
world, and that it should never have been brought 
before me till I was unable to alleviate it; that I 
should have been giving pounds for cigars and hun¬ 
dreds for horses, and never in my life had the oppor¬ 
tunity of saving a fellow-creature from starvation till 
now! and in vain I ransacked my pockets, and 
racked my brain to discover a solitary coin or the 
means of getting one. Poor Hillingdon! you were 
indeed my good genius—your farewell gift, the last 
time I saw you alive, was offered on the altar of 
charity, and, valuing it as I did, I have never 


A KEEPSAKE. 


197 


regretted the mode in which it was parted with. A 
small silver tinder-box, for the purpose of lighting 
cigars, beautiful in design and costly from its work¬ 
manship, had been presented to me as a keepsake by 
my poor friend the last time we were together, and 
his sad fate had since enhanced a hundredfold the 
value of the gift. When I lost my watch and 
ornaments, in the vain hope of winning a small sum 
for my present necessities, this little memorial re¬ 
mained, as may be supposed, sacred from disposal, 
and was now the sole occupant of a pocket never 
skilled in retaining for any length of time its neces¬ 
sary furniture. I knew that any pawnbroker in 
London would be glad to advance a few shillings 
upon so elaborate an ornament, and I thrust it into 
the distracted father's hand, and bid him go home 
and get bread for his child. 

‘ I have been ( cleaned out/ like yourself/ said I, 
‘but I have no one at home dependent upon me; 
that is all I have left in the world,—you are welcome 
to it,—take it, and make the most of it,—and, as 
you hope for heaven, never go into a hell again.' 

The poor fellow's face of gratitude was worth a 
mine of gold; and I was forced to bid him a very 
abrupt farewell to get rid of his protestations and 
thanksgivings. c He may have been an impostor !' 
says that worldly prudence, which appears to ignore 
entirely the existence of actual distress. Even if he 
were, I ought to have been very much obliged to 


198 


DIGBY GRAND. 


him for affording me the only pleasure I had experi¬ 
enced for many a long day. 

I was too weary to ponder on the much-vexed 
question of relief by almsgiving, and in five minutes 
after the disappearance of my fellow-insolvent, was 
fast asleep under one of the wide-spreading elms that 
shade the powder-magazine, in the deep repose of 
physical exhaustion, from which I did not awake till 
the sun was high in the heavens. The drill was over; 
the nurse-maids and their charges were weary of 
Kensington Gardens, with its attractions of hoops 
and skipping-ropes for the children, and fascinating 
Life-Guardsmen for their duennas; and all the world, 
at least, all those who had any to go to, were gone 
home to breakfast. Neither of the latter conveniences 
were mine; and in the sheer listlessness of despair I 
leaned over the rails by the Serpentine, and having 
no future to look forward to, I was soon lost in the 
labyrinth of the past. My reverie—no, not my 
reverie, for that, if it means anything, means a state 
of pleasing unconsciousness, and is besides deservedly 
unpopular as a mongrel half-foreign word ; but rather, 
my noon-tide night-mare, was peopled with many 
quaint fancies and strange recollections. Often had 
I leant over those very rails in the full tide of after¬ 
noon resort, when young England passes in review 
before him the beauties of the season, and titled and 
high-born though they be, makes his remarks, often 
more impertinent than just, on their conduct and 


THE KING. 


199 


their charms, as chariot, landau, and barouche roll 
by under their freight of grace and beauty, whilst 
here and there an unpretending brougham contains 
one, not the least fair of these ‘ unblushing flowers/ 
not the least sparkling of ‘ these gems/ which we can 
hardly call f serene/ though a jewel intrinsic in value, 
and set in the purest taste, albeit, alas, not always a 
diamond without a flaw. Rusticus expectat , says the 
Roman satirist; nor need I finish a quotation which 
is nightly offered to the admiration of Great Britain’s 
collective wisdom, a body undoubtedly partial to 
classic lore, but whose reading, strangely enough, 
seems entirely restricted to that author, who, when 
he penned the lines alluded to above, must have had 
in his mind’s eye the spectacle of some f country 
cousin’ waiting hopelessly to cross the interminable 
stream of carriages which, in the season, f drags its 
slow length along’ within the magic ring, and which, 
to his rustic discomfiture, appears indeed to ‘ ceaseless 
roll, and roll for ever.’ Now I shared the solitude 
of the Park, with a single equestrian, evidently a 
horse-dealer, and a man with a dog, dripping from 
its late immersion in the Serpentine. But still my 
thoughts were crowding in the past; and, as if to 
enhance the illusion, see ! a neat dark brougham, a 
fine bay horse, a white glove eagerly snatching at 
the check-string, the driver’s elbows squared above 
his ears, the bay horse pulled upon his haunches, 
and, as the carriage stops close to the rails upon 


200 


DIGBY GRAND, 


which I am leaning, the pretty face of Coralie de 
Fivolte peers from the dark recesses of the interior, 
and I am greeted with so cordial a salutation from 
the kind-hearted dancer, as, addressed to such a 
disreputable-looking dandy, must have rather asto¬ 
nished the dignified conductor of the smart f turn¬ 
out 5 already described. 

f Digby, mon cher Digby ! 5 she exclaimed, in her 
broken language, as she seized me by both hands, 
( how long since I saw you ! Mats qu'est ce qu’il y 
a done ? What a figure ! You have been up all 
night. Ah, petit mechant , toujours le meme role ! 
Jump in, and I will take you home ? Do you still 
live in- Street V 

And, regardless of my excuses and apologies, the 
good-natured Frenchwoman insisted on my entering 
the carriage; and when, in answer to her inquiries, 
I told her I had now no home to go to, she could 
scarcely be dissuaded from driving me straight off 
to the hotel, where she and f mon cousin 5 w 7 ere 
again domesticated upon their eternal private and 
mysterious business. When, however, the whole 
truth came out, and I unbosomed myself to one 
who, with all her faults, had indeed a warm and 
generous heart, the brilliant metal, touched by the 
talisman of misfortune, came out, untinged with alloy, 
and the f public dancer , 5 the woman of notoriety, 
f the brazen creature , 5 as I have heard them called 
who blushed not to receive nightly the homage of 



CORALIE AGAIN. 


201 


an admiring public, offered to place at my disposal 
a sum of money, that would have liquidated my 
debts, taken me abroad, and given me a fair start 
in any line of life I might choose to select. No 
one but a woman could have made so readily so 
magnificent an offer, and no one but a woman could 
have veiled her generosity so gracefully as did 
Coralie, under the assumption, that it was merely 
a loan, to be repaid with interest on my accession 
to the Haverley estates. 

I am thankful to say I refused it—refused it, 
though I had not a penny in the world. Why, I 
know not. Perhaps, in honest truth, my gene¬ 
rosity was not equal to hers. Perhaps some spark 
of what the world calls gentlemanlike feeling for¬ 
bade me to become dependent on the bounty of 
an actress ! But my heart smote me, my reason 
accused me of pride and unkindness when I saw her 
dark eyes filled with tears at my repeated refusals 
of her assistance; and once I had almost given 
way. But no ! come what might, I would be, at 
least, answerably only to myself for my misfortunes 
—come what might, Flora Belmont should never 
hear my name coupled with another under any 
pretence ; and I resolved, if the worst came to the 
worst, to die like the wolf, untamed, and uncom¬ 
plaining. 

f At least/ said Coralie, as I persisted in bidding 
her farewell, f at least accept this souvenir, in case 


202 


DIGBY GRAND. 


we should never meet again/ And she put into my 
hand a pretty little ivory memorandum-case, with 
the leaves of which she had been playing for the 
last few minutes : and, pressing my hand as I left 
the carriage, whispered, f Adieu, mon ami; think of 
me sometimes, and every blessing attend you V 

The brougham rolled on, the white glove waved 
from its window as it turned down Piccadilly, and I 
was left standing on the pavement near Apsley 
House, like a man in a dream! 

Poor Coralie! she had not been gone five 
minutes when I discovered that the little keepsake 
she had so earnestly pressed upon me contained pro¬ 
bably all the money she had with her at the time, 
which, in the shape of a five-pound note, she had 
slipped between its leaves, and which was indeed 
acceptable to my starving condition. After the 
magnificent offers she had made me, I confess I felt 
no qualms in becoming thus far a recipient of her 
charity. I kissed the little f souvenir* again and 
again, as I took out the welcome note, which would 
enable me, at least, to rub on for a few days, till 
f something could be done/—that something which 
is still, doubtless, at the bottom of Pandora*s box, 
but which is ever inseparable from the to-morrow of 
the unfortunate. In the meantime, the first consi¬ 
deration was breakfast; and after a shave in a smart 
shop, for which I paid a shilling, (had I been a 
little older in poverty I might have saved eleven- 


BIRTHS, DEATHS, AND MARRIAGES. 203 

pence,) I walked into the first coffee-house I could 
see, and ordered a substantial repast; then the news¬ 
paper, and—another extravagance—a cigar ! 

Ladies always look first at that column of their 
favourite journal which records f Births, Deaths, and 
Marriages/ and so do I. Amongst the latter, what 
is this announcement that meets my startled gaze ? 

f At the church of St. Genevieve, Quebec, by the 
Bev. M. Victor, cure of St. Genevieve, and after¬ 
wards at the Boyal Military Chapel, by the Rev. 
John Strong, William Broadbelt, merchant of that 
city, to Zoe, eldest daughter of the late Seigneur 
Gaspard de Grand-Martigny/ 

Zoe ! Zoe ! shall I confess that my first sensation 
was one of unmitigated astonishment at the very 
slight effect produced upon my sensibility by the fact 
of your having become Mrs. Broadbelt. Alas ! that 
we should so soon outlive the freshest feelings of our 
youthful hearts—feelings that the young deem eter¬ 
nal—the old scarcely allow to be existent. But lower 
down my eye lights upon another paragraph, which, 
indeed, takes away my breath: 

f Died, at his residence, Haverley Hall, on the- 

ult., Sir Peregrine Grand, of Haverley and Norton- 
le-Willows, deeply and universally regretted, in the 
72nd year of his age/ 



204 


CHAPTER X. 

THE OLD HOUSE AT HOME. 

JJAVERLEY HALL was, indeed, a house of 
mourning, when I entered the fine old avenue, 
chilled and wearied with my journey down from 
London, this time effected in a third-class railway 
carriage. From the dreary looks of the old woman 
at the lodge, to the woe-begone countenance of poor 
Soames at the house-door, everything betokened 
the presence of some great and unlooked-for afflic¬ 
tion—the sombre overshadowing of some mighty 
calamity. 

‘ Oh Master Digby V said the old butler, f if you 
had but come when I wrote to you, you might have 
seen master before he did depart/ 

1 Good heavens! Soames/ I exclaimed, f I never 
got your letter; when did you write, and where did 
you address to?* 

f Mr. Mortmain will explain all/ said poor Soames; 
f he is in the library now; will you please to step this 
way V 

And as the old man used his accustomed phrase, 


THE OLD HOUSE AT HOME. 


205 


with shaking voice and quivering eyelid, I felt a 
solemn satisfaction in knowing that my poor father 
was at least regretted by one faithful domestic, who 
had eaten his bread for forty years. 

In the library I found Mr. Mortmain, our own 
family man of business; usually a rosy, merry, kind- 
hearted, and jovial bachelor; now, in the hour of 
need, a true and steadfast friend. From him I 
learned the suddenness of my parent’s decease, and 
the impossibility, even if I had received Soames’ 
incoherent scrawl, of my having reached Haverley in 
time to find Sir Peregrine conscious, if alive. 

Sad and gloomy was the present—sadder and 
gloomier the prospects of the future. For a few 
days the multitude of arrangements which necessarily 
devolved upon myself served to shut out from my 
view, in the exigencies of the hour, the dark horizon 
that was gathering around. Vain pomp and sense¬ 
less pageantry followed him to the grave, who had 
in life been ever too much wedded to the outward 
semblances of greatness—too careless of its real 
duties and responsibilities Arms and escutcheons, 
empty carriages, and hired mourners, trailed their 
mimic grief down the stately avenue, the pride of so 
many possessors, over whose inanimate remains it 
had waved its gigantic branches, gorgeous in the 
hues of but a temporary decay, or blossoming in the 
promise of an oft-recurring spring. Doctor Driveller, 
ten years older than his deceased patron, read the 


206 


DIGBY GRAND. 


funeral service with a steady voice and an unmoved 
bearing, as calm as though his time must not be 
very near, ay, f even at the door/ The vault was 
opened, the ceremony concluded; chief mourners 
took off their scarfs and unpinned their hatbands, 
and those at a distance hastened home to be in time 
for dinner. Black horses snorted and shook their 
plumes,—mutes smiled and whispered, as though 
thankful for relief from their enforced silence,—the 
bird carolled on the bough,—the bee hummed in 
the sunshine,—and Sir Peregrine was laid with the 
Grands. 

Old customs, feudal hospitality, and the position 
of the family, demanded a certain amount of decorous 
feasting and subdued merry-making, which reminded 
me, with a mockery hardly to be borne, of my own 
coming of age in those very halls. But this, too, 
was at length over, and the stern realities of business 
left me small leisure to listen to the reproaches of 
conscience, or yield to the unavailing yearnings of 
regret. Hour after hour Mortmain and I were 
closeted in the library; and as we went deeper and 
deeper into the details of senile ostentation and 
youthful recklessness, so it became more and more 
obvious that the ruin was as irretrievable as the 
wilful blindness which led to it was unaccountable. 

* It is evident to me, Sir Digby/ said Mortmain, 
addressing me for the first time by my new title, the 
only bequest which it appeared I was to inherit, 


RUIN. 


207 


f tliat, in addition to the difficulties which your poor 
father has entailed upon you, and of which it is only 
due to myself to say I have till now been kept in 
total ignorance, your own liabilities, as far as you 
have informed me, will swallow up all our available 
resources, even should we be compelled, as I greatly 
fear we shall be, to sell the estate V 

c I was prepared for as much/ I replied. f I 
have seen this coming for long, though I have never 
had courage to look it in the face. But if there is 
any means of avoiding the sacrifice, I am prepared 
to live on bread and water, and work like a slave, 
to save old Haverley/ 

f It cannot be done/ said Mortmain. 1 Listen to 
me, my young friend. You are a man of strong- 
mind, or I should not have spoken to you so abruptly 
as I have done this morning. Everything must be 
sold—the property, the house, the furniture, pictures, 
wine, horses, in short, everything; and you must 
begin life again. It is hard, cruelly hard, but there 
is no use disguising the fact—there it is V 

( So be it/ was my reply; and from that moment 
the house of my ancestors ceased to be my home. 

Then came the sickening details, the inquisitive 
condolence of neighbours, the cold regrets of the 
f county families/ no better in their generation than 
their fellows in town; the making out of catalogues, 
the slang of appraisers, the impertinences of f parties 
on view/ How the furniture seemed to increase 


208 


DIGBY GRAND. 


and multiply as the dear old hall was desecrated by 
having its most hallowed associations turned into 
f lots ;’ carpets rolled up, and hangings taken down; 
gorgeous mirrors numbered with chalk, and marble 
busts standing forward in cold unsightly prominence. 
My mother’s boudoir, the revered retreat of that 
mother whom I had never seen, hitherto preserved 
sacred almost in the state in which she left it, 
trodden by hobnailed shoes, and polluted with the 
unwashed hands of vulgar curiosity; my father’s 
guns numbered and ticketed; every article of conve¬ 
nience and luxury in his own chamber made the 
theme of rude jest or ignorant criticism; pictures of 
value selling for nothing, from want of competition; 
rare old wines bought with depreciating comments 
by neighbouring ‘ connoisseurs,’ who had been good 
enough to laud it highly when in former days, in 
that very room, their flowing bumpers pledged health 
and long life to him who was now no more; lamps 
dethroned from their pedestals, curious nicknacks 
scattered about in all kinds of incongruous places; 
straw littered everywhere, and the ancestral home of 
the Grands become a fleeting possession, passing from 
lip to lip as the fervour of competition overcame the 
scruples of prudence; and the dignity of centuries, 
the associations of history, hung trembling upon the 
word of an auctioneer ! 

But one article was saved from the general wreck, 
and I shall be ever grateful for the kindness and 


THE EXECUTION. 


209 


consideration with which that memento of the past 
was rescued. Old Doctor Driveller, with the avowed 
determination of presenting it to his descendant 
whenever that unfortunate should have a house to 
put it in, purchased the old family picture of f Sir 
Hugo le Grand/ and the representation of that 
chivalrous warrior, which my poor father valued, I 
believe, more than any other earthly possession, was 
spared the degradation of a tradesman^ parlour or a 
dealers show-room. 

The sale continued for days. From the neigh¬ 
bouring earl to the humble mechanic, every rank 
sent its representative to the auction at Haverley. 
Old oak chairs, quaint and curiously-carved chests 
and wardrobes, are still to be picked up by the vir¬ 
tuoso in the humble cottages and retired farm-houses 
for many a mile round what was once known as the 
Hall. How the eagles gathered to the slaughter ! 
Vulgar, flashily-dressed men, in black attire, relieved 
by a profusion of electro-plated jewellery, traversed 
the passages with pencils in their mouths, and 
seemed immersed in calculations of incomprehensible 
magnitude. 

Ere many days had elapsed, a postchaise drove up 
to the door, containing (strange alliance !) the persons 
of Mr. Shadrach and my former friend Levanter. 
The latter appeared somewhat confused at my meeting 
him in the society of such a companion, but swag¬ 
gered off his embarrassment with his usual assurance. 

VOL. II. 


P 


210 


DIGBY GRAND. 


e Sad thing this, my dear Grand/ said the turfite ; 
‘ I trust only a passing cloud. I have come down 
to look at the yearlings, and got a cast from this 
gentleman/ pointing to the Jew, who was staring 
about him with a rueful air that seemed compounded 
partly of anxiety as to his own profits, and partly, to 
do him justice, of commiseration for the pillage 
going on around. 

With a blush of conscious humiliation, I was 
forced to present the money-lender to Mr. Mortmain; 
and it might have amused an uninterested observer 
to mark the cold reserve with which the shrewd, 
upright man of business, ‘the regular’ of the pro¬ 
fession, saluted one of its foraging condottieri , to 
whose despoiling talents he could not but yield his 
meed of approval, whilst for his practice he betrayed, 
as he entertained, a high-minded contempt. 

Whilst I took Levanter to the paddocks and 
stables, as containing those articles of barter with 
which I was most conversant, Mortmain, in whom I 
had placed unreserved confidence, and to whose guid¬ 
ance I had completely committed my affairs, invited 
the Jew to a conference in the library, where he 
hoped to be able to make some terms with the 
usurer short of his actual and exorbitant demands. 
As we lounged here and there through the park and 
grounds, and criticised the make and shape of this 
yearling, or the pedigree and probable performances 
of that foal, I observed in my companion’s manner a 


MR. SHADRACH. 211 

degree of restlessness and want of self-possession 
which I had never before remarked to the same 
extent in one who was proverbially known as a f cool 
hand/ True, he had never, even in former days, 
that unassuming ease which marks the high-bred 
gentleman; but now the abruptness of his manner, 
veiled as it was by occasional bursts of enforced 
levity, was positively startling. So was it now with 
Levanter; and long as we had known each other, 
old brother-officers and cronies as we were, our con¬ 
versation was restricted to a few of the merest com¬ 
monplaces, and we both felt it a relief when a passing 
shower drove us back into the now dismantled hall. 
Mortmain and Shadrach were still hard at it, and 
the result of the interview was, I am bound to con¬ 
fess, creditable to the liberality of the Jew. f Sir 
Digby/ said Mr. Shadrach, "was not to be dealt 
hardly with. He himself would be happy to accept 
a compromise—always wished to be liberal and give 
satisfaction. Mr. Mortmain’s terms were uncommon 
hard; but still, as far as he was concerned, he 
thought things might be arranged. But there were 
other parties equally interested in the post-obits; 
a gentleman in the city, a foreign gentleman, was to 
a certain extent a holder of those engagements. The 
gentleman was not at home at present—might be 
abroad—was a very uncertain gentleman, and tins 
must be a ready-money transaction. Sir Digby's 
word was now quite as good as his bond. With 

p 2 


212 


DIGBY GRAND. 


regard to the remaining 5000/., it would be indis¬ 
pensable to consult Mr. Sarmento—* and here the 
Jew suddenly stopped. With the instinctive cunning 
of his profession, he had caught my eager glance of 
curiosity as he pronounced the f foreign gentlemanV 
name, and he was not to be lured any farther in 
committing his ally. As for me, I saw immediately 
into what sort of hands I had fallen, and in private 
communicated to Mortmain the style of people we 
had to deal with. The good old man entered heart 
and soul into the struggle, and certainly for keen 
intelligence and thorough legal knowledge had greatly 
the advantage of his opponent. The upshot of it 
all was, that Mr. Shadrach covenanted, in considera¬ 
tion of certain monies to be paid immediately into 
his own hands (that was a sine qua non), to deliver 
over forthwith, and resign any further interest in, all 
post-obit, bonds, and other promissory documents 
bearing the signature of Captain, now Sir Digby 
Grand, with the exception of that unfortunate parch¬ 
ment in which, as he expressed it, f other parties 
had a vested interest* (the real fact being that 
Sarmento had bought it of him as a bad debt, for 
probably as many shillings as it numbered pounds), 
and would likewise use his influence with c those 
parties* to induce them to come to a speedy and 
liberal arrangement, which should be satisfactory to 
e all parties.* With which peroration Mr. Shadrach, 
having offered each of us a cigar the size of a 


THE UP-TRAIN. 


213 


rolling-pin, shook Mortmain cordially by the hand, 
much to the disgust of my old friend, and mounted 
into his post-chaise—to which, by his orders, a pair 
of leaders had been added — with the air of an 
emperor, utterly confounding old Soames, whose 
experience did not afford him the slightest clue as to 
the genus of this gaudy but unwashed magnifico, who 
travelled with four horses, but wore a shirt that 
would have disgraced a chimney-sweep. 

Levanter was likewise to go back to town, nor 
could I understand why he was not to return, as he 
had come, with the luxurious Israelite. He himself 
explained his movements by a friendly desire that I 
should accompany him to his lodgings at Fulham— 

‘ A little way out of town, Grand, for the sake of 
the air, where I shall be happy to give you a bed, 
till you can make your arrangements pretty square/ 
f My dear Levanter/ said I, ‘ I have no arrange¬ 
ments, and I think it only fair to tell you that I 
am completely and irretrievably floored!’ 

‘ Never say die/ was his answer. f Our shares are 
getting up like smoke, so you will have plenty of 
capital in the mean time; besides, Fulham is not 
London, and nobody will know you/ 

No more eligible plan seemed to offer itself, and 
after a consultation with Mortmain, who was himself 
not above the general weakness of mankind, in 
placing a belief, as implicit as it is unaccountable, in 
the vague superstition that f something will turn up/ 


214 


DIGBY GRAND. 


I resolved upon accepting Levanters invitation, and 
taking my place in the great metropolis amongst 
those suppliant ranks who beg almost on their knees 
that they may obtain a share in the curse of our 
first parents, and earn their bread in f the sweat of 
their brow/ 

Little, truly, was there for me to regret when I 
turned my back upon those grey old towers. Was 
I leaving home as I shrank into the corner of the 
post-chaise that took Levanter and myself to the 
nearest railway station ? What did I leave behind 
me ? A dead father, alas ! unreconciled; oh, how 
bitter that thought!—how hopeless the conviction 
that we can never make reparation !—that the past 
can never be undone! A desolate hearth, from 
which the few poor old retainers, who had all their 
lives been taught to consider it as a home, must now 
be driven forth into the world, at an age w r hen they 
ought to be reaping repose and comfort, as the 
reward of years spent in faithful toil. A beautiful 
domain to lie waste and neglected till some future 
possessor should be found ready with the axe to the 
avenue, and the architect to the mansion, and dear 
old Haverley should be clipped and f opened out 5 
into an unsightly desert, and plastered and stuccoed 
into a prim representation of an ill-built almshouse. 
And I, the heir, that should have been even now 
v, alking that park as its actual possessor—that should 
have been even now maturing plans of economy and 


THE SUN GONE DOWN. 


215 


improvement, to realize, eventually, all the former 
affluence of the family—what was I but the guilty 
author of all this devastation; for I could not 
conceal from myself—and bitter was the reflection 
—that like the last feather to which the uncom¬ 
plaining camel succumbs upon the sand, it was my 
own imprudence, added to my poor father’s extrava¬ 
gance, that had necessitated my exile from the home 
of my ancestors. Once before, and not so long ago, 
in the rosy hues of early morning, I had surveyed 
that glorious scene, and turned from it in disgust, 
because I deemed myself destined never to share it 
with her I loved; now, I looked my last upon it in 
the mellow radiance of a declining sun, and how 
would the sensations which I once thought misery 
be now courted for tumultuous happiness! Then, 
what was I but the spoiled child of prosperity? 
Now, fame, fortune, all were blighted for ever, and 
Flora as hopelessly removed from me as if she had 
never been. 

f Great bore, an old family place/ said Levanter, 
with a well-meant attempt at consolation. ‘ Were it 
not for the rents, I really think you would be well 
out of it.’ 

f There is no accounting for tastes,’ was my reply; 
and I mentally added, f willingly would I give the 
best part of my life if I might but die the real pos¬ 
sessor of that estate to which I was born.’ 

As we neared London, by the perilous and rapid 


216 


DIGBY GRAND. 


transit which custom has rendered so commodious, I 
found my companion’s manner becoming more and 
more absent and f distrait.’ If I had thought him 
pre-occupied at Haverley in the morning, his 
demeanour in our coupe of the fast train, as we neared 
the terminus, was constrained in the extreme. At 
length, as we jolted and clattered in a hack-cab 
through the lamp-lit streets of London, on our way 
to his surburban residence, he could stand it no 
longer, but proceeded to make a clean breast of the 
disclosures which had evidently worried him for the 
last six hours. 

f I have to ask a favour of you, Grand,’ he 
began, with an affectation of carelessness, f which is, 
that you will take no notice of the name by which 
I am known at Fulham; in fact, if you would not 
object to calling me f Mr. Smith,’ you would be con¬ 
ferring a kindness on me, for reasons which I will 
explain to you.’ 

1 Mr. Smith be it,’ said I; ‘ nor do I wish to pry 
into your affairs; but I do think I should have 
chosen a more distinctive patronymic.’ 

f Ah ! that is just the beauty of it,’ said Levanter, 
apparently much relieved at my want of curiosity. 
f But jump out, old fellow; here we are.’ 

And out we bundled, accordingly, into a com¬ 
fortable and airy second-floor, over a baker’s shop. 
Whilst I was arranging the curtailed wardrobe which 
Mortmain had rescued for me from the fangs of the 


INCOG. 


217 


enemy, Levanter came into my clean little apartment, 
half-dressed, as for an evening party, with a note. 

‘ Just got an invite to a late dinner, three doors 
from this. Grand/ said he, struggling with the folds 
of a well-starched neckcloth. ‘You will be most 
welcome, if you like to come. I know you are a 
quick dresser; so, jump into your dinner things, and 
let us be off/ 

I had by this time arrived at that state when man 
is surprised at nothing—ceases to be a free agent, 
or to speculate on what is to come next, and yields 
unhesitatingly to the tide of circumstances, with a 
drowsy conviction that, when things are at their 
worst, any change must be an improvement. Had 
Levanter desired me to step up the chimney, instead 
of three doors off, I should have probably complied 
without the slightest hesitation; and ten minutes 
had not elapsed, before we were picking our way 
in the dark up the mimic avenue which led to a 
cosy little picturesque residence, with French windows 
down to the ground, and all the necessary accessories 
of laurels, roses, horse-chesnut trees, and damp, which 
make up a London country-house; whilst Levanter 
explained to me, in a most mystifying manner, that 
we were going to dine with * that Lady Burgonet 
—Miss Jones, you know,—who is living here in 
retirement whilst Sir Benjamin is in India/ 

That the lady was surprised to see me I gathered 
from her contracted brow and flush of astonishment, 


218 


DIGBY GRAND. 


which, however, on the exchange of a meaning 
glance with Levanter, gave place to the smooth and 
graceful demeanour that becomes a courteous hostess. 
Fanny Jones had learnt her lesson to perfection, and 
did the great lady, only with a little too much dignity. 
Everything was extremely well done, and quite in 
the quiet, unostentatious style of an affectionate 
wife pining for her husbands return. Pictures of 
Sir Benjamin multiplied the person of that corpulent 
warrior in unlimited profusion, and a bust of the 
absent one quite blocked up one end of the little 
dining-room. A miniature of Fanny lay on the 
drawing-room table, with the drooping ringlets, the 
sweet girlish expression, of f auld lang syne/ My 
heart ached whilst I gazed on it, and thought how 
changed we all are now ! 

‘ Dinner/ and f Mr. De Tassells* were announced 
at the same instant ; and as I offered my arm to 
our hostess, the f Little NelF of the K. 0. Dragoons, 
now rolling out into a strapping, handsome young 
fellow, seized my unoccupied hand with a grasp of 
cordial affection, and whispered, in a tone that 
reminded me of my escape from Canterbury, f You 
here, Dandy !—this is, indeed, no end of a go V 
Could I do less than take the first opportunity of 
making inquiry after the health of Jenny Jumps, 
who was, as usual, in strong training for a private 
match ? 

I have already said, I was not in a mood to be 


A WIDOWED WIFE. 


219 


surprised at anything; but as dinner progressed, I 
confess I began to open my eyes, wider and wider. 
The first thing that struck me was the excellence of 
the wine, far more choice in its flavour than would 
be provided by the most confidential wine-merchant 
for a lady's consumption, and of which Mr. De 
Tassells, thereto incited by Levanter, filled and 
emptied more bumpers than is usually considered 
decorous at a lady's table. Then my fair hostess 
and her former admirer seemed to have the most 
perfect understanding of each other's plans and 
arrangements; and were both warmly hospitable to 
f little Nell,' and obsequiously polite and deferential 
to myself. The young one, between drinking and 
talking, was getting almost ‘ uproarious,' whilst a 
stolen look interchanged occasionally between 
Levanter and Fanny, appeared to evince their mutual 
satisfaction at the whole proceedings. f What can it 
all mean ?' thought I. Eoccussus propriis, aliena 
negotia euro. I resolved, having managed matters 
so cleverly for myself, to devote my talents to the 
observation of my friends' affairs. Lady Burgonet 
retired, with an injunction to Levanter to take care 
of his friends. And the Cornet, what between claret 
and cordiality, reminiscences of what he, poor boy! 
called ‘ old times,' and mighty potations of what our 
host assured us was a f perfectly pure and harmless 
vintage,' got gradually ripe for any and all kinds of 
mischief, readily provided, according to Doctor Watts, 


220 


DIGBY GKAND. 


by a certain contractor f for idle bands to do/ Coffee 
and cura£oa cut the jolly subaltern short in a hospi¬ 
table invitation addressed to myself, ‘to come and 
stay six months with him at his father’s place/ 
backed by an apocryphal assurance, ‘ that the 
Governor would be delighted .’ And with all my 
faculties on the alert for what was to come next, I 
accompanied the unsuspecting lad and the wary, ex¬ 
perienced man of the world into the drawing-room. 
Lady Burgonet was winding silk near the pianoforte, 
and an ecarte table was conveniently laid out and 
lighted at the further end of the room. I began 
to see my way now. And when, after a preli¬ 
minary farce of drinking tea and turning over cari¬ 
catures, her ladyship addressed me with, ‘ Would you 
mind, Sir Digby, holding this skein for me to wind/ 
adding, with the old glance, that had found its way 
through many a scarlet-clad bosom, f you used to do 
it so well / and Levanter, or Mr. Smith, as De 
Tassells called him, yawned over the green table, 
and, listlessly cutting a pack of cards, asked the 
Cornet whether f this sort of thing bored him more 
than doing nothing V adding, f only don’t let us 
play high/ the conviction came full and strong upon 
me, that the whole party was a scheme of swindling 
from beginning to end. It was evident that Levanter 
and our hostess understood each other; that the 
former, unable to appear under his own name, had 
picked up a pigeon in some of the haunts of dissi- 


THE GREEN ONE SAVED. 


221 


pation too much affected by our young warriors, and 
that I, his old captain, and now a man with a sort 
of title, had been asked to fill the complimentary 
office of f a bonnet/ and to degrade myself by stand¬ 
ing by and lending my presence to inspire with 
confidence the open-hearted boy that was to be 
robbed before my face. For once in my life I was 
angry, the more so as I saw no possible method of 
saving my ci-devant cornet without a scene. I ground 
my teeth in silence as I held Lady BurgoneFs silks, 
and the breath of that handsome Delilah fanned my 
burning brow.—The game went on.—The Cornet 
lost f a pony /—‘ Too bad/ I thought, as I revolved 
every possible method of breaking up the party.— 
They staked f double or quits/—Levanter turned 
up a king.— f Little NelT remarked, ‘ There goes a 
fifty/—I could bear it no longer, and marching up 
to the astonished boy, I laid my hand upon his arm 
and walked him out of the room ere he had time to 
remonstrate, nor, till I had him safe outside the 
house, did I explain to him the cause of so unusual 
a proceeding. Levanter interposed his person to bar 
our egress, with a furious oath, that confirmed my 
suspicions. But I had known my man for years. 
Though of powerful frame, he was a cur when col¬ 
lared ; and though he shook with wrath, he ventured 
upon no personal violence, and we walked out unmo¬ 
lested. Never shall I forget Lady BurgoneFs face 
of shame, consternation, and dismay, as she stood 


222 


DIGBY GRAND. 


in the corner of her drawing-room, a second Arachne, 
contemplating the web that had failed in its odious 
purpose. Besides, she felt she was found out; and 
true to her woman-nature, that was the bitterest drop 
of all. I can see her now; the pale face—the 
deep-set flashing eyes—the sneering nostril—the 
quivering ashy lip. She was beautiful even then; 
but it was the hateful beauty of a fiend ! 

Of course f Little Nell/ being up for a fortnight's 
leave from his regiment, f hung out/ as he called it, 
at Limmers's, which is some considerable distance 
from Fulham, and as the night air sobered my 
former subaltern, and the whole truth dawned upon 
him by degrees under my elaborate explanations, the 
good-hearted lad's gratitude knew no bounds, and, 
but that I was ashamed to be indebted for assistance 
where I had just conferred a benefit, I might have 
found a home wherever the Cornet had a roof to 
cover him, or, as he metaphorically expressed it, ‘ a 
crib to get his health in.' But I was too proud to 
confess my indigence, and taking leave of my protege 
at the door of his hotel, I started to walk back again 
to Fulham, revolving many troublesome considerations 
in my mind. Bemain as Levanter’s guest of course 
T could not, although under the circumstances I felt 
it was imperative on me to be in the way, should he 
think well to call me to account for my late proceed¬ 
ings. Truly I had little anxiety as to the conse¬ 
quences; my antagonist was not a thoroughly good- 


THE BIRDS FLOWN. 


223 


plucked one, and if he were, life had but little charm 
for me. But my slender stock of money would soon 
be exhausted, and what was to become of me then? 
In the mean time, I was fagged out, and a good 
nights rest became a primary consideration. I would 
make the best of my way back to Fulham; bakers 
never go to bed, so I should not be locked out, and 
in the morning I would face Levanter at once— 
demand the proceeds of those shares in his mining 
concern to which I had a right, and then, repudi¬ 
ating all connexion with the sharper, start afresh 
in any line of life which promised an honest liveli¬ 
hood. 

Tired and exhausted, I slept till noon, and my 
first inquiries when I was up and dressed were for 
my temporary host. Mr. Smith had left at eight, 
and was gone out of town. ‘Any address?’ ‘No, 
sir; Mr. Smith left no address—but maybe they 
could tell at ‘the Laburnums/’ To ‘the La¬ 
burnums’ I accordingly betook myself, and found 
it to be the villa of the previous evening’s exposures. 
Here likewise there seemed to have been a late 
departure. No tall footman, no portly butler, an¬ 
swered my summons, but the old woman in a black 
bonnet, who with the moth and the spider shares the 
solitude of all deserted houses in and around the 
metropolis, made her appearance, and was as sparing 
of information as that female anchorite when put to 
the test invariably proves to be: ‘ Did not know 


224 


DIGBY GRAND. 


Mr. Smith—had never heard of Captain Levanter, 
there was a Major Stopper over the way, but of 
course it could not be him—this was Lady BurgoneCs 
'ouse—her ladyship had left at half after eight this 
morning—did not know where the family were gone— 
believed it was either Scarborough or Southampton* 

■—and slammed the door in my face. Though vague, 
this was conclusive, and I had nothing for it but to 
trudge into the city to Levanters offices, upon the 
hopeless chance of saving something from what I felt 
to be a general wreck. Of all toilsome pilgrimages, 
none is to me so painful as a long walk upon the 
hot unyielding pavement, a fitting substitute for the 
glowing ploughshares of the ancient ordeal. Take it 
easy* and you seem to make no progress, whilst the 
living stream flows by you in an uninterrupted 
volume; try to put on the steam, and an inevitable 
collision with some hurrying fellow-passenger is the 
result. Your pockets are insecure on the trottoir, 
and your life is endangered at the crossings. Nor 
are these pleasures enhanced by the fact, that you 
are hurrying into the city to present a bill at a 
house that has f stopped payment/ or to pick up the 
few remaining crumbs of a losing concern, in which 
your partner has bolted, and your own substance 
melted away like a dream. Ere the distance was 
half accomplished, I encountered St. Heliers, leisurely 
wending his way towards the clubs, on the easiest of 
ponies, and in the airiest of attire. Shall I confess 


A FASHIONABLE ASSOCIATE. 225 

that my first feeling was one of shame at my own 
faded habiliments and shabby appearance? 

As he drew near, I half resolved to make an appli¬ 
cation to my former friend for some assistance, either 
in procuring me an appointment, or recommending 
me to such a situation as a gentleman could accept; 
but the cool, though good-humoured manner in 
which, without stopping, he gave me two fingers to 
shake, and the matter-of-course tone in which he said 
f How are you, Grand ? thirsty weather isn't it ?' as 
if we had met every day for a month, quite put it 
out of my power to unburden my mind to one who 
would scarcely have listened to the recital; and, as 
we went our several ways, he to the cool sedulously- 
screened bow-window that I knew so well, I to the 
smoky, busy, broiling city, 1 said to myself*, c Can 
these be the men that the children of fashion are 
proud to call their friends ?' 

At Levanter's offices all was as I expected,—the 
whole concern had failed, and the place was shut up ; 
nor as may be supposed, was I able to get more 
intelligence of the proprietor's whereabouts than at 
Fulham. One thing was clear, that not a farthing 
should I ever see from the speculation: the bubble 
had burst; nor was I the only sufferer; but that 
was small consolation. A few pounds were all my 
remaining stock, all my substance in the world; and, 
as I sauntered listlessly along, I found myself gazing 
on the f outward-bound' vessels that throng the 

Q 


VOL. II. 


226 


DIGBY GRAND. 


wharfs of commercial Wapping, with a vague idea, 
like that of a child, of seeking my fortune in some 
foreign clime. As I turned the matter over in my 
own mind, I bethought me of f the Diggings/ the 
very place for a ruined spendthrift to recover, in 
abundance, the dross he had squandered so freely, or 
hide his head in an unhonoured grave. c California 
for me V said I, and I felt my step become brisker, 
my hearing more erect, as I fancied I had now an 
object before me. I would change my name, of 
course: I was strong, (for the education of an 
English dandy makes him no milksop,) I was healthy, 
and I would work my passage out. I was resolved, 
and was hurrying forward to ascertain the proper 
localities in which to make my inquiries, when my 
attention was arrested by a figure before me, that I 
thought I recognised. It was that of a powerful 
strong-built man, inclining to corpulence, though, 
by his light step and active gestures, evidently still 
far on the sunny side of middle age, with a well-to- 
do air about him, and a nameless something in his 
dress that marked the substantial British merchant— 
it was highly improbable—it could not be—and yet 
how very like ! Two steps more brought me along¬ 
side my old friend Tom Spencer. 

No more California for me, at least for that day. 
Ere we had exchanged the cordial greeting due to 
our schoolboy friendship, it was evident to me that 
Tom was completely unchanged. The unfortunate 


THE DOCKS. 


227 


bill that had cost me so many bitter reflections, and 
my friend his degree and preferment in the church, 
he declared had been the making of him. He had 
gone into business as a wine-merchant, which suited 
him infinitely better, and was making f a capital 
thing of it/ f He was that instant going to the 
docks to taste sherry,—I must come with him, and 
dine with him after that; where was I staying in 
London ? why not put up at his place ?’ In short, 
casting care and reflection to the winds, I was easily 
persuaded to have at least one more day of enjoyment, 
one cozy evening, to talk over old times, with the 
faithful friend of my early youth. 


228 


CHAPTER XI. 

THE SCENE SHIETED. 

rpHE Roman Postumus must have been a gentle 
man of a sadly unreflecting turn of mind, if we 
are to judge from that Ode, addressed to him by his 
harmonious friend, in which the somewhat obvious 
truism, that f years glide swiftly by/ insisted on for 
the edification of the listener, is made by the minstrel 
a peg whereon to hang some half-dozen of the most 
graceful and deep-thinking stanzas that ever flowed 
even from the lips of Horace. The image of the 
cypress weeping over the grave of that departed 
Lord, to whom the other trees of the forest owed 
their glorious existence, but which alone, amongst all 
those towering ingrates, formed, as it drooped in 
grief, the one connecting link between the Dead and 
his Creations, is not more poetically beautiful than is 
that consideration true to human nature which fol¬ 
lows immediately in the next stanza, where the 
jovial bard, with a quaint sympathy, that shows how 
deep is his feeling for all parallel cases of thirst, 
regrets that those choice cellared stores, worthy of a 
prelate^ swallow, which the late Amphitryon had so 


BUSINESS. 


229 


carefully laid down for liis own drinking, should 
bathe the thankless marble, and crown the overflow¬ 
ing goblet, alas! but of the heir at law. 

And this brings me back to my own concerns. 
Time had paid no more respect to me than it did to 
Postumus, or to the mortal tenement of him who 
has made Postumus immortal, (what a reason for 
asking poets to dinner !) And I, too, was occupied 
in hoarding up streams of liquid wealth, in the shape 
of port, sherry, and curious Madeira—not, indeed, 
for my own drinking, but for the gratification of a 
discriminating and thirsty public. My whole mode 
of life, my demeanour, my very appearance had 
undergone a total change at the period when I again 
take up the thread of my narrative; the loose attire, 
the lavender gloves, the jaunty hat, and swaggering 
gait had been dismissed to make room for that sober 
costume and staid air which the world consider indis¬ 
pensable to ‘ a respectable man/ The flowing locks 
had been shorn of their honours, the luxuriant 
whiskers prued down to a mercantile pattern. How 
seldom do you see a stupendous pair of these auxi¬ 
liaries east of Temple-Bar, and when you do, ten to 
one they are the property, often the only property, 
of some scape-grace come into the city to borrow 
money. My habits, too, had become as regular as 
my outward appearance would seem to indicate. 
Shaving-water at seven, breakfast at eight, office at 
nine, the Hocks from twelve to four; then a stroll 


230 


DIGBY GRAND. 


across London Bridge for the air, dinner at five, 
tete-a-tete with Tom Spencer, and occasionally, as a 
great treat, half-price to the play when a farce hap¬ 
pened to be performed that was written by any of 
the young Templars, or other clever ‘ business men* 
with whom we associated. No more prize-fighters in 
the mornings (occasionally Tom and I indulged in a 
‘ set-to* in private, but this was a dead secret, and 
he kept ‘the gloves* locked up with Julia Batt*s 
letters in his own bureau), no more hacks in the 
afternoon, dinners at Greenwich with the f slang 
aristocracy/ or breakfasts at Richmond with pink 
bonnets and liberal damsels; and, above all, no 
more betting, horse-racing, or gambling. Forbid it, 
Cocker! Let the British merchant invest his own 
and other people*s capital in the wildest bubble that 
ever ruined its thousands—let him blindly purchase 
share upon share to show his enterprise, and reck¬ 
lessly throw good money after bad to ‘keep up his 
credit;* but let him not be discovered to have ven¬ 
tured a five-pound note on f the Two Thousand / and 
if he should be seduced to go to the Derby, it must 
be on the clear and oft-proclaimed understanding 
that he ‘ cares for none of these things.* No. Busi¬ 
ness is business; and I think no one will confound it 
with pleasure: and to business I attended as though 
I had been born a wine-merchant, and acquired a 
taste for straw-coloured sherry with my mother’s milk. 

When, in the depth of my distress, at the very 


THE COUNTING-HOUSE. 


231 


turn of the tide, I had been fortunate enough to 
meet Tom Spencer at Wapping, it required little 
persuasion on the part of my old friend to induce 
me to forego my golden visions of California, and I 
grasped eagerly at the offer of employment which he 
kindly and generously placed within my reach. 
Assiduous labour, constant drudgery, and many 
avocations, doubtless distasteful to the former dandy, 
were indispensable in my new career; but it was 
f now or never/ and putting my shoulder to the 
wheel, I was backed by Fortune, who seldom fails to 
assist those that assist themselves. From small 
beginnings, I managed before long the whole active 
part of my friend’s business; and a lucky venture 
1 coming off 5 with unlooked-for success, enabled 
me, partly thanks to Tom Spencer’s generosity, 
partly thanks to my own diligence and efficiency, to 
become a partner in the concern. After this, things 
went on swimmingly; and ere Time had streaked 
my locks with more than a silver line here and 
there—ere he had robbed me of all my youthful 
spirits and elasticity, Hope again shed her rosy hues 
over my prospects, and the future, like some moun¬ 
tain scene, from which the mist has at length cleared 
away, smiled all the more beauteous for the depart¬ 
ing clouds which had so long shrouded its promise 
from my view. I was never so happy before—not 
so thoroughly and peacefully happy. In my boiling 
youth I had more thrilling excitement, more varied 


232 


DIGBY GRAND. 


pleasures; but the constant liurry in which I lived 
gave me no time to enjoy the delights of the passing 
hour, and the future was perpetually over-drawing 
the present. Now I had an active occupation, that 
kept my mind continually at work with the actual 
business in hand, I had no leisure to fret about what 
was to come, or brood over bye-gone times. Every 
day brought its duties, and every day brought, too, 
its relaxations; for to the stirring trader, ceaselessly 
immersed in his employment, the half-hour 5 s stroll, the 
weekly excursion, the social meal in the company of a 
few friends, are, one and all, amusements gratifying 
in proportion to their rarity, and their contrast to 
those scenes in which he is usually engrossed. 

Albeit in the heart of the city, our joint-lodgings 
were airy and comfortable (for though partners, Tom 
Spencer and I lived together as brothers). Here, 
when the day’s toil was done, we sat and talked over 
our still-increasing business, or planned our rare 
and economical recreations. Here Tom would con¬ 
fide to me the oft-recurring receipt of a letter from 
Julia Eatt, who still clung faithfully to her old love, 
in defiance of the Rev. Amos, and read to me touch¬ 
ing portions of the warm-hearted missive — ill- 
expressed indeed, and hampered by no strict rules 
of orthography or grammar, but breathing through¬ 
out the pure constancy, the unselfish devotion of a 
woman’s love. Here would I sometimes, though 
this was a luxury I seldom permitted myself, brood 


A customers’ dinner. 133 

upon the unforgotten image of my lost Flora, or 
build castles-in-the-air of which she was equally the 
origin and the ornament. Need I say this was 
indeed a useless occupation—a sad waste of time— 
an enervating indulgence ? And yet I clung to the 
dream all the more fondly from the hopeless impos¬ 
sibility of its realization. But the comfortable first- 
floor, with its many conveniences, was not exclusively 
devoted to solitary musings or tete-a-tete confidences. 
Far from it. Occasionally some of our best cus¬ 
tomers from the west end did not disdain to form 
here a snug, small dinner-party, enrolled to discuss 
those good things which can only be had in real 
perfection in the city, and afterwards pronounce 
their fiat of condemnation or approval (we were 
utterly careless which) upon those costly fluids which 
were to them the welcome elixir of enjoyment,—to 
us the stream of life. 

My former career of London dissipation had done 
me one good service—the last I ever expected to 
reap from its follies—and this was conferring upon 
me a numerous and tolerably intimate acquaintance 
amongst a class of persons whose reputation for taste 
and well-known fastidiousness make them the wine- 
merchanFs best customers. Long ago, putting my 
pride in my pocket, I had called upon Lord St. 
Heliers to leave, not the little oblong piece of shiny 
pasteboard owned by Captain Grand of the Guards, 
but the wide respectable card that blazoned forth 


234 


DIGBY GRAND. 


boldly in capital letters how it was the escutcheon of 
‘ Spencer, Grand, and Co./ and how the f firm were 
qualified to supply the choicest wines at the lowest 
rates/ &c. &c. &c. And in many a succeeding 
interview with his lordship, I had induced him to 
deal principally with Messrs. Grand and Spencer- 
need I say I had dropped the title?—and to 
feed his gout diligently, which to do him justice, he 
was nothing loth to do, at our hogsheads. Often 
had he promised to make one of our snug little busi¬ 
ness parties, but it was not till a long period had 
elapsed since our last interview, that the consignment 
of several casks of a peculiarly dry and curious 
sherry, the colour of weak toast-and-water, with a 
strong flavour of boots and shoes, which we had 
imported with incredible difficulty and at an unheard- 
of expense, drew a special epistle from his lordship, 
proposing an early dinner at our joint residence, and 
asking permission to bring an old friend with him, a 
particular connoisseur of sherry, and an exceedingly 
good judge of wine. 

The proposed visit was respectfully accepted; and 
the arrangements, in which constant practice had 
made us peculiarly skilful, for a comfortable plain 
repast, such as wine-bibbers most relish, had been 
completed with unusual care, as Tom and I sat 
waiting the arrival of our noble customer, once our 
familiar associate. We had spent the day in minute 
calculations and laborious occupation; papers without 


A BEACE OF BON-VIVANTS. 


235 


number filed in tbe counting-house, and four broiling 
hours of rigid attention at the docks; after which 
we were only able to afford a short twenty minutes, 
to catch all the air that was going, on London-bridge 
—little enough there was, and that little not over 
fresh, in so crowded a locality—ere it was time to 
return and dress for our commercial banquet. How 
different, in all probability, had been the pursuits of 
our guest, since his valet called him at twelve, in his 
shady dormitory in Park-lane. St. Heliers was, 
beyond most men, learned in the art of keeping 
himself cool, body and mind, and doubtless his day 
had glided by in luxurious indolence, fanned by 
gentle airs, artfully wooed from Venetian blind, and 
craftily devised thorough-draft, soothed by a quiet 
cigar or sedative f hookah/ and diversified by a drive 
to his club after his valet had been set forth to report 
upon the temperature of the outward atmosphere; 
and yet, with all his wealth and all his luxury, I think 
either of us would have been exceedingly sorry to 
change places with St. Heliers. 

f What a wreck he has grown/ said Tom to me, 
as we watched him emerge from the well-appointed 
brougham that had brought him into the city. And 
sure enough, despite the boot-maker’s efforts and the 
tailor’s skill, the ravages of time and pleasure were 
but too obvious on that once Herculean frame. The 
low broad shoulders were shrunk and wasted, the 
square muscular figure bloated and obese, the well- 


236 


DIGBY GRAND. 


turned limbs swollen and distorted; the small foot, 
once the only personal advantage on which its owner 
piqued himself, now withdrew from observation be¬ 
neath the long loose trowsers, that only half concaeled 
its gouty deformity; whilst enormous shirt-cuffs and 
massive rings called attention to the hands, powerless 
from chalk-stones, which they were meant to hide. 
The whole man was made up and artificial, and 
looked as though if you did but untie his neckcloth 
the entire fabric must fall to pieces; and yet, with 
all this, there was no mistaking St. Heliers, even 
now, for anything but a gentleman. The charm of 
his manner still remained unimpaired, and although 
his memory was failing him, and his good stories 
were repeated oftener than is fair upon any anecdote, 
however amusing, he was still, when 'in the vein/ 
undoubtedly pleasant company. 

Close upon his heels followed a stout military¬ 
looking personage, in a blue coat and 'lion and 
unicorn* buttons, whom it was needless to present to 
me as Sir Benjamin Burgonet, but whose surprise 
in finding his scapegrace aide-de-camp metamorphosed 
into ' Grand, Spencer, and Co./ was so unmitigated 
as completely to stultify any opinion which the 
military Bacchus might pronounce on his first glass 
of sherry. He got over it, however, after much 
chuckling and many inquiries as to my late pro¬ 
ceedings, interspersed with divers interesting and 
problematical stories connected with his Indian 


THE TASTERS. 


237 


career; but as in his narrative he never mentioned 
Lady Burgonet’s name, I was compelled to forego 
the gratification of my curiosity as to the eventual 
fate of that enterprising dame; for, although her 
husbands costume did not warrant the presumption 
that she was dead, there are so many other ways in 
which that sort of spouse may be lost that I was too 
discreet to hazard a direct inquiry. 

Dinner passed over agreeably enough. The fish 
was perfect; the beefsteaks tender, and brought in 
hot-and-hot, to the admiration of St. Heliers, and 
reminding Sir Benjamin of a curious circumstance 
that occurred to him at Dumdum, but of which he 
had probably forgotten the details, as he left his story 
unfinished. 

e Capital wine this/ said St. Heliers, turning up a 
goblet of ‘ the extraordinary/ f Give me some more 
sherry. Burgonet, a glass of wine !’ 

c Delighted/ said the General, lifting his glass to 
the light, and watching the little motes in the golden 
liquid dancing towards the surface. f Dryest sherry 
I ever drank in my life, and, without any exception, 
the very best. ’Gad, sir, I think I understand 
sherry. I’ve worked the thing out, and I tell you 
this wine is superlative.’ 

The General’s praise was the more liberal, as it so 
happened this was the very wine which he had con¬ 
demned a fortnight previously as not fit to be drunk 
by the ‘Amalgamated Veterans/ and on the merits 


238 


DIGBY GRAND. 


of which, as one of its committee and special taster 
to that fastidious club, it had been his duty to 
report. 

f Try that claret, my lord/ said Tom Spencer, 
whilst our second course of ‘ Scotch pigeons* was 
being taken away. ‘ I should like your opinion of it 
before I get any more.* (Oh, Tom, Tom ! you know 
we bought all we could lay our hands on as f light 
dinner-wine.*) 

( Falernian ! real Falernian ! * said his lordship, 
setting down his glass empty. f So pure—so silky. 
Send me some of this forthwith, Spencer. Never 
mind about price—it*s cheap at any money; and now 
let me have one more glass of the old sherry.* 

So we went on. The shades of evening grew 
darker and darker upon our symposium. Devilled 
biscuits filled the place of dessert, and such a sub¬ 
stitute for fruit in the dog-days naturally entailed 
sundry additional supplies of the much admired 
claret. The bottles waned—the two venerable Bac¬ 
chanalians got more and more prosy and confidential; 
cigars were offered, but the old school never smoke, 
and more claret was ordered instead. St. Heliers 
told us some capital stories twice over, and old 
Burgonet related several diffuse anecdotes of love 
and war, of which he had been the hero; and truly 
his escapes in the one and successes in the other 
were equally astounding, when the General*s corpu¬ 
lent proportions were taken into consideration. At 


A GOOD JUDGE. 


239 


length the warrior’s utterance became thick and 
husky. St. Heliers was getting quiet and cautious., 
which I knew of old betokened his own conviction 
that he had drank enough; and the brougham 
having been ordered, we assisted our two f customers’ 
nto its recesses, carrying away with them each a 
very liberal sample as to quantity of those wares 
upon the merits of which they had been invited to 
pronounce. St. Heliers retained his self-command 
to the last; and although Tom and I, assisted by a 
Patagonian footman, had some difficulty in keeping 
him on his legs, preserved the quiet, unmoved 
demeanour of one who was merely a very helpless 
invalid. Not so Sir Benjamin; his legs were per¬ 
fectly capable of doing their duty, though in a 
somewhat tortuous manner; but his ideas had be¬ 
come none of the clearest, and his articulation was 
peculiarly husky. He had informed me during the 
evening that my old friend Cartouch had just re¬ 
turned from India, and had invited me to meet him 
at dinner on some early opportunity, and this invita¬ 
tion he was now pressing with a confusion of time 
and place that was ludicrous in the extreme. f You’ll 
be sure and come, Digby,’ hiccoughed the General, 
as he stumbled up the steps of the brougham. 
f Excellent business yours—capital mess—walk about, 
sentry !’ (to the astonished footman, who was holding 
the carriage door in an attitude of respectful atten¬ 
tion.) ‘ St. Heliers ! where’s St. Heliers ? Now, 


240 


DIGBY GKAND. 


youTl be sure and come. Take care of yourselves— 
you have a long way to go home. Good night, lads ! 
Always glad to see you at Government House/ 
And away rolled the good-humoured and mystified 
old Commandant, and was probably fast asleep long 
before the brougham reached Temple-bar. 

‘ I think they enjoyed their dinner/ said Tom, as 
we parted for the night on the threshold of our 
respective dormitories. f What a lot of wine these 
old fellows hold! Don’t forget to send his lordship 
a hogshead of that claret he liked so much, Digby. 
I told you it ought not to be too cool, and you saw 
how he sucked it down ! I dare say he will not 
like it half as well out of his own cellar, but that is 
no affair of ours/ And so Tom yawned, shut his 
door, and went to bed with a good conscience. 

Can it be supposed that I suffered any long interval 
to elapse between my first intelligence of Cartouches 
arrival and an early visit to that old and well-tried 
friend? Even a flourishing wine business admits of 
an occasional half-holiday; and with a light heart 
and brisk step I quitted the office at an earlier hour 
than usual one sunny afternoon, in the height of 
what the Morning Post and those whose deeds it 
chronicles term f the season/ to wend my w r ay west¬ 
ward, and endeavour to discover the whereabouts of 
my old Colonel (a piece of intelligence which Sir 
Benjamin had striven in vain to impart), by inquiring 
his address at that Temple of Janus which moderns 


FARTHER WEST. 


241 


call the * Amalgamated Veterans’ Club.’ As I 
strolled leisurely along the Strand, despising the 
tempting advances made by f twopenny omnibuses’ 
and ‘ penny steamers/ how amusing was it to mark 
the difference, becoming gradually more and more 
distinct, between the bustling traffic of the opulent 
city, and the equally bustling, though far more showy 
and less substantial, crowds that throng tbe west- 
end. The two phases of life are as distinct as light 
from darkness; and the dress, looks, and air of the 
inhabitants of these neighbouring localities are as 
different as the outward appearance of the shops and 
houses themselves. As you leave the haunts of 
Business and near the abodes of Pleasure, the pave¬ 
ment widens, the buildings expand, the passers-by 
stroll more leisurely along, and the sunny side of the 
street is rarely occupied. And when you again 
emerge into the sunshine, the street-sweeper calls 
you f my lord,’ and you feel that you have left the 
retreats of the grub far behind you, and are at length 
entering upon the domains of the butterfly. Now, 
for the first time, you begin to experience sundry 
anxieties and misgivings as to your personal appear¬ 
ance, compared with those whom you meet, unworthy 
a man of your sense and respectability. But let not 
these depreciating comparisons irritate your vanity or 
wound your self-love. This gorgeous apparel, these 
careful toilettes, belong generally to a class that is 
now fast dying out; and though your raiment may be 
VOL. II. R 


242 


DIGBY GRAND. 


not quite so glossy, your demeanour not quite so 
assuming, yet thank your stars that you are a useful 
member of society, and have never been by habit or 
repute a dandy. That a man should walk erect, 
with his face to heaven, and feel himself possessed of 
no one redeeming quality in the world save that he 
puts well-fitting clothes upon a faultless exterior, is a 
splendid absurdity, that in these days requires no 
demonstration—that any human being can devote his 
manly strength and his godlike intellect to no better 
purpose than that of riding, day after day, three- 
quarters of a mile backwards and forwards over the 
dusty surface of Rotten-row, and dancing attendance, 
night after night, in a suffocating crowd, whenever a 
foolish woman chooses to advertize that for that par¬ 
ticular evening she means to remain in her own 
house, is a painful truth that, alas ! must be acknow¬ 
ledged by all who look upon society as it is. But 
the fault is not with the young. No; the rising 
generation are more manly in their pursuits, more 
rational in their employments than that which imme¬ 
diately preceded them ; and in several glorious 
instances, those who, had they lived twenty years 
ago, might have been empty coxcombs, or, at best, 
but harmless idlers, are now, thanks to the wide- 
spreading spirit of Christianity and the increasing 
progress of the age, the welcome ministers of charity, 
the benefactors of their species, and the ornaments of 
a class whose pride and privilege it should be ever to 


COMFORTS OF A CLUB. 243 

lead their fellow-creatures in the path of virtue or 
the career of honour. The days of coxcombry are 
gone by, the sun of dandyism is set. Brummel died 
a prisoner at Calais; and I, Digby Grand, am a wine- 
merchant in the City —Sic transit gloria mundi ! 

( Hence, avaunt ! Tis holy ground/ appears to be 
a sentiment carefully impressed upon the burly Cer¬ 
berus who keeps watch and ward at the portals of 
the f Amalgamated Veterans/ Stately the architec¬ 
ture, and massive the furniture, of that Temple of 
Indolence. Doors swing noiselessly on their hinges, 
and a waiter with creaking shoes is instantly dis¬ 
charged. Instead of a jovial resort of the living, and 
of those whose f hair-breadth ^ scapes* and hard ser¬ 
vices have taught them the advantages of f living 
well/ these silent halls would rather appear to be a 
mausoleum of the dead. Should a newspaper be 
unadvisedly rustled by some thoughtless recruit, 
whose twenty years of campaigning make him feel a 
mere boy in the presence of these Nestors of the 
sword, a dozen wrinkled foreheads frown down this 
breach of decorum on the part of the careless juvenile, 
and stern glances, at which hosts have trembled, 
remind the cowering culprit that the sons of Mars 
value peace and quiet all the more for a lifetime 
spent amid the turmoil and loud alarums of war. 
Need I add how the provisioning of this stronghold 
is conducted upon the most scientific principles of 
luxury and good cheer—how the old campaigners*’ 

R 2 


244 


DIGBY GRAND. 


fare, and well do they deserve it, consists of every 
delicacy yet devised by the culinary art, and all at 
cost price—how their sherry is older, their port drier, 
and their mutton more tender than that of any other 
club in the metropolis ? Is it not enough to know 
that Sir Benjamin Burgonet chooses the wine, and 
Colonel Curry controls the cook? 

It is doubtless not reassuring to a bashful man to 
reflect that, as he ventures cautiously up the steps of 
the ‘ Amalgamated/ to call upon a military friend, 
he may unknowingly rub shoulders with some cele¬ 
brated warrior, whose deeds, chronicled on the page 
of History, have been his own admiration for many 
a long day, or jostle against some fine old admiral, a 
word from whose lips, in the event of a French 
invasion, would blow the whole Gallic fleet into a 
thousand shivers; nor though his astonishment 
increases, does his confidence return when his gal¬ 
lant friend kindly takes the trouble to 'show him 
over the club/ and walking through vaulted libraries 
and spacious dining-rooms, he sees the celebrities of 
Europe, writing shaky epistles or consuming half- 
pints of sherry—nay, even modicums of barley-w ater, 
like any other feeble old gentlemen. On the con¬ 
trary, he feels that he is an intruder, and wishes 
himself gone as heartily as his cicerone, who will 
probably have more pleasure in showing him the 
door than any other exquisite arrangement of this 
commodious club. 


THE COLONEL AT HOME. 


245 


But, in the meantime, I humble myself before the 
porter, and timidly request to know Colonel Car- 
touches address. For a time the over-worked func¬ 
tionary has great difficulty in calling to mind whether 
Colonel Cartouch is a member or not, as he has 
only enjoyed that privilege for the last seven or eight 
years. At length, by a violent effort of memory, 
and with the assistance of a venerable-looking junior, 
he manages to recollect that the Colonel is even now 
in the library, and informing me of that fact in a 
hoarse whisper, despatches the junior aforesaid to 
summon my old friend from his literary occupations. 

c I have been inquiring about you everywhere/ said 
the Colonel, after our first greeting was over, ‘ but 
the only man that could give me any intelligence of 
your doings was old Burgonet, and even he had for¬ 
gotten your address/ 

f I am not surprised at the General's want of 
memory/ I replied; f nor would you be if you had 
seen the dose of claret with which he refreshed it 
when we last met. But here we must not stay, we 
are blocking the heroes out of their hive. Where 
are you going? I came all the way from the city 
on purpose to see you, and now I am your man for 
the whole afternoon/ 

f Of all places in the world/ said the Colonel, f I 
am on my way to Newgate. The fact is, I have 
had a very disagreeable business on my hands lately. 
An unfortunate rascal has been convicted of forgery 


246 


DIGBY GRAND. 


mainly through my instrumentality; as, amongst 
several cases of a like nature, he chose to borrow my 
not very lucrative name, and overdoing the f unap¬ 
propriated/ got found out accordingly. My evidence 
settled him, and he is now under sentence of trans¬ 
portation; and writes to me, begging to see me, as 
he has circumstances to disclose of the utmost 
importance to myself and family, whoever they may 
be/ 

* To Newgate, or anywhere else, my dear Colonel/ 
said I. f We will stroll quietly along, and talk over 
old times. And first tell me, what has become of 
Lady Burgonet V 

Cartouch was discretion itself on all matters where 
the fair sex were concerned, and was, moreover, a 
man of a singularly placid and immovable exterior; 
but the prolonged whistle with which, as he stopped 
short, turned round, and looked me full in the face, 
he gave vent to his sensations as I put this simple 
question, spoke volumes as to his opinion of her 
ladyship's proceedings, and his knowledge of her 
character. 

f I am glad you have not heard what I thought 
all the world knew/ said he; f but there never was 
such a mess as old Burgonet made of that business. 
We had scarcely been three months in India before 
we heard such accounts of her ladyship's doings as 
made it imperative on the General to take some 
decided step. That scamp Levanter was more to 


AN ABSENT HUSBAND. 


247 


blame than any one, and he behaved not only like a 
scoundrel, but a cowardly scoundrel as well. Old 
Burgonet came to me in a state of mind you can 
hardly conceive, for, strange to say at his time of 
life, he was absurdly in love with his wife. He talked 
of throwing up his command, going straight home, 
and doing everything that was foolish when he got 
there; but fortunately some disturbances on the 
frontier made it impossible for him to resign his 
appointment just at that critical moment; and I 
talked him over and soothed him down till he thought 
better of it. From what I gathered during his first 
burst of anger, it appears to me that there was 
some hitch about his own marriage to this seductive 
lady; and since I came home I have been given to 
understand that she had a husband still living, by 
name Dubbs, who was once a band-master in my 
old regiment. If I recollect right he left us about 
the time you joined. Well, be that as it may, the 
most sensible arrangement, as is generally the case 
in these matters, was what is called f an amicable 
separationand that I managed for him without any 
very great difficulty. The fact is, the others were so 
thoroughly ashamed of themselves that they were 
glad to come to any terms. And old Burgonet is 
again loose upon the world, a gargon volage , and, I 
am afraid, much given to take advantage of his 
liberty/ 

This off-hand account of Cartouches tallied so 


248 


DIGBY GRAND. 


exactly with all that I had myself witnessed at ‘ the 
Laburnums/ Fulham, next door to which Levanter 
was living under an assumed name, that I could not 
forbear relating to him the whole proceedings of that 
evening, indelibly impressed on my mind as the day 
on which I had left the home of my fathers, and 
found myself in London, a beggar and an outcast. 

We agreed that on that occasion I had doubtless 
saved young De Tassells from being 1 pigeoned/ and 
that, in all probability, our amiable hostess and the 
astute Mr. Smith had decamped in company the fol¬ 
lowing morning. And this very natural conclusion 
brought us to the forbidding walls and frowning 
portals of the far-named Newgate. 

We have classical authority for presuming that 
there was no free entrance to the great lock-up below, 
and that Charon was as venal as his corresponding 
functionaries in the realms of day. Certain it is that 
the Colonel had to put his hand in his pocket for the 
production of the customary compliment ere a jovial 
rosy turnkey, leaving his occupation of discussing a 
pot of post-prandial porter, in the company of a stout 
smiling woman, probably his better half, and two or 
three chubby children, could be prevailed on to act 
the part of guide to the new-comers. No sooner, 
however, did his astonished gaze rest upon the 
Coloneks commanding figure than he drew himself 
up to that rigid attitude of f attention* which marks 
the old soldier’s acknowledgment of the presence of a 


THE DRUM-MAJOR PROMOTED. 249 

superior; whilst the simultaneous exclamations of 
c The Drum-Major, as I live V and f Dubbs, by all 
that’s wonderful V gave vent to our surprise at this 
unlooked-for recognition of the military Orpheus in 
his judicial capacity. 


250 


CHAPTER XII. 

THE COLONEL’S DAUGHTER. 

TT OW shall I describe Newgate ? Had I the pen 
of a ‘ Boz,’ how could I thrill the reader’s 
heart, whilst I brought before him, with an almost 
painful vividness, the gloomy shadows and the 
mocking sunbeams of that spacious dungeon, the 
dreary walls and the loaded atmosphere, the narrow 
strip of sky, which, to the prisoner, belongs to 
another world, the touching contrast of a bunch of 
wild flowers with the massive iron stanchions against 
which they lean, drooping and withering, those 
children of the wilderness, as though they, too, were 
pining for the southern breeze, which is even now 
dallying with their fellows on open moor and smil¬ 
ing upland. How pale the face that hangs so 
wistfully over their fragrance, how far away the 
captive’s soul, roaming abroad in the free air of 
Heaven. If desire spring, indeed, from separation, 
how must images of unspeakable beauty crowd upon 
his brain. The purple mountain and the dashing 
torrent, the graceful feathering birch, that scorns to 


GOVERNMENT LODGINGS. 


251 


flourish save in freedom, and dies outright when 
transplanted and circumscribed in the boundaries of 
a pleasure-ground,—the weeping alder, kissing the 
faithless ripple as it dances by, as though it, too, 
were fain to share in the wanton’s sparkling career 
•—the broad surface of the windswept lake, the deep 
dark shade of its fringing woods, and the bonny 
heather-bells ringing in the pure mountain air. 
Perchance the tide of thought is bearing him, even 
now, in fancy over the glad wild ocean-wave. Again, 
the briny spray is leaping and dashing in his face, 
and the white sea-bird screams her shrill welcome, 
as she mounts the freshening breeze and soars at 
will towards the far horizon. Perchance he is walk¬ 
ing once more by the well-known woodland path, 
towards the stile, in the mellow twilight of a sum¬ 
mer's eve, and, though the shadows are momen¬ 
tarily deepening and darkening around, his heart 
leaps within his bosom as through the gloom he 
descries her figure at the trysting place before him. 
Perchance he is once more a merry urchin, culling 
roses in his mother's garden, and offering her a 
lapful of the gathered treasures, as he stands before 
her, in healthy infantine sturdiness. Parting his 
clustering curls, she prints a kiss on that fair 
unfurrowed brow—-a mother's kiss—and the captive 
wakes from his dream, whilst husky emotion gripes 
the strong man's throat, and warm tears fill his 
eyes, bloodshot though they be with vice, and 


252 


DIGBY GRAND. 


haggard with crime. Now the whole misery of his 
lot bursts upon him for the first time, in all its unmi - 
tigated hideousness; now the yearning for liberty, if 
only for a day, an hour, becomes uncontrollable. 
Priceless would be the privilege of drawing but one 
more breath of the outward air, of standing once 
again in the crowded street—how near, and yet how 
far removed ; of holding but for one five minutes a 
place amongst his fellow-creatures in that world 
with which he has done for ever. What a prospect 
is his, for one who has still alive within him the 
hopes, the affections, the pride, and the weaknesses 
of man,—before him misery, behind him guilt,— 
a noon of punishment to redeem a morn of crime, 
—the felon's existence, and the convict's grave. 

As the Colonel and I paced the corridors of the 
gaol, and were admitted by the rosy Mr. Dubbs, 
for whom, indeed, ‘ stone walls did not a prison 
make, nor iron-bars a cage,' through here a clamped 
and iron-fasted door, there a jealous and strongly 
wrought wicket, our guide, though he showed a 
certain cordiality of manner, and made sundry re¬ 
spectful inquiries as to his old corps, an idol for 
which the retired soldier entertains a veneration 
quite out of proportion to the concern which he 
seems to take for its respectability when doing duty 
in its ranks, betrayed, at the same time, a reserved 
manner and fidgety demeanour, which showed that 
he was not quite at his ease. And this peculiarity 


THE UXORIOUS TURNKEY. 


253 


was the more obvious when Cartouch good-naturedly 
touched upon his domestic relations, and presumed 
f that good-looking woman was the present Mrs. 
Dubbs/ the Drum-major quite started, and coloured 
violently, as he replied— f Yes, Colonel; no, Colonel, 
—that is, yes, Colonel. She has been promoted. 
Colonel, as I might say/ and the rosy Cerberus 
became more and more confused. Doubtless, the 
possibility of an indictment for bigamy, a prophetic 
view of the bar of the Old Bailey, and a ghastly 
phantom of his jolly self undergoing the passive 
instead of the active part (which makes all the dif¬ 
ference) in the process of f locking-up/ flitted across 
the mental vision of the uxorious turnkey. 

f Depend upon it/ whispered Cartouch to me, as 
our guide strode before us to unfasten a particularly 
complicated series of contrivances for security, f de¬ 
pend upon it he knows his first wife is alive, the 
rascal! I see it all now, Digby. This is the whole 
mystery of Fanny Jones's marriage to old Burgonet 
being kept so dark. She ran away with this fellow, 
I recollect perfectly, though we at head-quarters 
could not conceive why, and must have left him as 
soon as she could do any better, by entrapping the 
old General. I always supposed Dubbs was dead, 
and could not conceive why neither she nor Sir 
Benjamin, who never was able to keep a secret in 
his life, were ever known to allude in any way to 
their marriage. And now she's gone off with Le- 


254 


DIGBY GRAND. 


vanter. What a bad one she must be. By Jove/ 
added the Colonel, in that reflective tone in which a 
bachelor always thinks it necessary to couch his 
observations on the sex, f when a woman is a trump 
there’s nothing like her; but when she does go 
to the bad, she goes altogether, f stock, lock, and 
barrel.” 

f I quite agree with you/ said I, f hut if you 
knew as much of her history as I do, you would 
think that, had as she is, her affection for Levanter 
is the only redeeming point in her character/ 

‘Very likely/ said the Colonel; f but Dubbs has 
no occasion to be alarmed; you are not the man to 
lodge an information against him; and, as for me, 
I have had quite trouble enough with the fair sex in 
my younger days, and I wash my hands of them. 
I hope I may have nothing more to do with the 
gentle creatures/ 

This was the first time I had ever heard Cartouch 
allude to his early follies, or express himself so 
strongly upon a subject on which he generally 
preserved the most guarded silence. 

We were now on the very threshold of the cell 
which the Colonel had come to visit, and it seemed 
as though the wish he had just uttered were almost 
prophetic, for as Dubbs, drawing himself up to e at¬ 
tention/ opened the strongly-fastened door, and 
ushered us into the small but by no means incon¬ 
venient apartment provided by the law for those in 


CORALIE IN TROUBLE. 


255 


whom she takes an interest, the first object that 
caught my eye was the tall graceful figure of a 
woman, closely veiled, and enveloped in long dark 
drapery, with the whole light afforded by the narrow 
casement streaming full upon her, standing in the 
middle of the cell, and listening, with a haughty 
impatience, too evident from her gestures, to a 
stream of continuous reproach, addressed to her in 
a low, concentrated, angry voice, from the darkest 
corner of the surrounding gloom. 

I could see the bosom heaving beneath the dusky 
folds that concealed its outline, and the small foot 
beating the ground at regular intervals, as though in 
sheer vexation and despite, while I recognised in the 
symmetrical bust and graceful head thrown back in 
an attitude of untameable defiance, such as her finest 
piece of acting had never displayed before the foot¬ 
lights, the wild, peculiar beauty of Coralie de Bivolte ! 
Our entrance appeared to have interrupted a fierce 
altercation, in which doubtless the roused woman 
had the advantage, for the proper owner of the cell 
emerging from his lair, out of which his keen black 
eyes glittered like those of some imprisoned wild 
beast, came forward to welcome his visitors with an 
ironical courtesy that ill-concealed the bitter sense 
of shame, the sting of powerless hatred that was 
rankling at his heart. f You are welcome, Colonel! 
I hope you are gratified with a sight of your handi¬ 
work/ he began, with a foreign accent, and in a 


256 


DIGBY GRAND. 


tone quivering with humiliation and malice. f I 
hardly expected you would have brought a visitor, 
but you too are welcome, Sir Digby !—the wealthy 
baronet that pawns his watch in a gambling- 
house—the brawling bully that strikes and swaggers 
in the street—the friend of this virtuous lady, this 
pattern of a wife. I may have some business to do 
with you, sir, as well, before we part, and the name 
of Grand will not gain much credit in the city from 
certain papers in my possession to which it is 
appended/ And as the convicts features writhed 
into a sneer of diabolical malice, whilst he uttered 
this meaning threat, I recognised at once the pale 
scowling face that years before had gone down before 
my blow at the door of the Opera-house, that I had 
seen borne out of the fencing-room to all appearance 
stamped with the seal of death, and that glared 
upon me once more in fiendish malice when I walked, 
a beggar, out of the silver hell near Leicester-square. 
It was Sarmento—the bushy beard was 3 gone, the 
raven locks cropped to the prison cut, and a plain, 
coarse jacket and trowers replaced the gaudy attire, 
the vulgar, tawdry jewellery that had heretofore 
adorned the low gambling-house keeper, the foul, 
insatiate bird of prey ; but the small glittering eye, 
the forbidding sneer, the quickly averted glance 
were unchanged, and, save that the costume was 
different, the features drawn and sallowed, and the 
frame wasted with agitation and imprisonment, it 


SETTLING OLD SCORES. 


257 


was the Sarmento of former days who now stood 
before me. f I sent for you, Colonel/ he went on 
to say, ‘ that I might repay you, as far as lay in my 
power, for the f manly and straightforward evidence/ 
as the dotard on the bench was pleased to term it, 
which has placed me here, and is to give me an 
opportunity of enjoying another climate at the ex¬ 
pense of your country, and although I did not expect 
the honour of a visit from Sir Digby , it is better 
that he too should be a witness of my unfailing 
gratitude to those who have conferred on me a kind¬ 
ness. I have known you long, Colonel, though you 
were not aware of the interest I took in your pro¬ 
ceedings. I have watched your career for years, I 
have always been prepared to lay my hand upon you, 
though I hardly expected we should meet at last in 
such a place as this. Ay ! you may well look sur¬ 
prised, but the high-minded soldier, the boasted man 
of honour, the punctilious scion of a stainless descent 
and an unblemished family has convicted and sent 
to the hulks his daughters lawful husband, his 
own son-in-law ! Colonel, you smile, you disbelieve 
me; have you forgotten the grove of chesnut trees 
at Buenavista? the fair kneeling girl, the flash of 
steel in the moonlight, the glorious black-browed 
Nina?* 

Cartouch started as if he had been shot. Hitherto 
he had listened to Sarmento's rhapsody with a calm 
incredulous smile, but now the expression that came 


YOL. II. 


s 


258 


DIGBY GRAND. 


for a moment over his high manly features was 
positively awful; he was a man of the world as well 
as a proud and gallant soldier, and self-command had 
been the lesson of his life-time in many a trying 
scene. In a calm and self-possessed tone, with the 
old determined look I knew so well, marked only by 
the keener glance of the eye, the firmer compression 
of the lip, he begged I would remain as a witness of 
this unexpected scene. ‘ I have no secrets from my 
friend/ he said coolly, as if he were in his own 
orderly-room; f whatever communications you may 
think proper to make, Mr. Sarmento, I am ready 
to hear, now, upon the spot, as I presume it was 
for that purpose you wrote to me requesting an 
interview/ 

f As you please, Colonel/ replied Sarmento, some¬ 
what disconcerted. f You are, I know, an immove¬ 
able man, and you have commanded too long to be 
turned from your purpose by any such foolish consi¬ 
derations as family ties, worldly reputation, or a 
woman's tears. Had you attended to the commu¬ 
nications I made to you before this mockery of a 
trial, had you but condescended to visit in prison the 
unfortunate man whom two words from your lips, 
nay, whom your silence even might have restored to 
liberty and respectability—had this interview taken 
place but one short week ago, you might have been 
spared the degradation that will bow that haughty 
head into the dust, and crush the seared heart that 


a dancer’s fame. • 259 

hath never felt for another’s woes and scorns to 
acknowledge its own. Look at that woman, Colonel 
—ay, look at her, as she stands there, clothed in the 
beauty which to her has been a curse. Look at her 
as you have done many a time with as much delicacy 
and respect as though you were criticizing the volup¬ 
tuous graces of a picture, or scanning the animal 
beauties of a horse. Little did you think, as you 
lolled in your stall, or levelled your ribald jests from 
the recesses of your opera-box, whose bearing you 
were canvassing with such indifferent freedom, whose 
character you were blackening with idle tale, and 
wafting to shame in the unfeeling breath of scandal. 
Little did you think of whose heart it was, the 
bloated roue boasted to you he had made his pur¬ 
chased conquest,, or whose smiles you congratulated 
the vain frivolous boy whom you now term your 
friend on winning so readily; blind must you have 
been in your arrogance, and deaf to the voice of 
nature in your heartless isolation, or I had not 
needed to tell you what you must now hear when it is 
too late. Listen to me, Colonel, as I take heaven 
to witness for the truth of what I say. The cele¬ 
brity of Europe, the paid opera-dancer, the public 
mountebank that sells her beauties and her graces to 
be gazed on by the vulgar for hire—is my wife and 
your daughter !’ And Sarmento folded his arms as 
he concluded, with a sort of dramatic air that never 
deserts a Frenchman, whilst his small dark eyes 
s 2 


260 


DIGBY GRAND. 


seemed positively to glitter in triumphant malice. I 
had watched Coralie with a natural interest, whilst 
her degraded husband was proceeding with his dis- 
closures, and could not but admire the stern self- 
command which she too seemed to possess when 
required. At first she shook like an aspen-leaf, and 
I fancied bent involuntarily towards myself as though 
for support—it must have been only fancy, for the 
next instant she drew up her slight graceful form to 
its tallest proportions, and fixing her eye upon Sar- 
mento, like some lion-queen controlling the tyrant of 
the forest by the mere majesty of beauty, seemed 
absolutely to chain him in her glance. What a 
picture she was, as she stood in that semi-obscurity, 
an unsupported woman, but confident in her own 
high heart, her gallant fearless spirit; and as I 
looked from one to the other, I could not but be 
struck by the strong resemblance which she bore to 
Cartouch, that ‘family likeness' which, dormant in 
the every day torpor of life, flashes out with startling 
vividness on occasions of excitement like the present. 
In an instant I felt convinced of the truth of Sar- 
mento's story—all I had heard of the dancer's 
antecedents strongly corroborated the suspicion that 
Coralie was the undoubted daughter of my old 
Colonel and his ill-fated Spanish wife; and now, as 
they stood opposite each other, bending upon the 
same object the same look of haughty defiance, chas¬ 
tened in the man by a lofty sense of self-respect and 


FAMILY LIKENESS. 


261 


a life-time of self-control, but wild and flashing in the 
woman, as though the spirit within acknowledged no 
subjection to its mortal frame, the same keen, fear¬ 
less glance in the dark eye—the same curl of the 
well-chiselled lip, as though despising the enemy it 
defied—the same lines of dauntless resolution round 
the small compressed mouth, argued, how forcibly, 
that the same blood was coursing in the veins of 
each, of the high-minded chivalrous soldier and the 
spirited unprotected girl who stood opposite to him, 
in the grace of her womanly beauty and the energy 
of her fearless heart. 

But Cartouch was, of all men, the last to make 
what is called a e scene/ If the everyday occurrences 
of life were a little more like those picturesque 
developments which we witness on the stage, the 
f world we live in/ would be much more lively, 
though, doubtless, much less comfortable, than it is 
at present, when one very essential part of a gentle¬ 
mans education is to impress upon him a holy horror 
of anything in the shape of c a fuss/ to endue him 
with that enviable Saxon temperament which veils 
the keenest pleasure and the deepest grief under the 
same placid and somewhat sleepy exterior, and to 
give him the Sybarite's inward relish for enjoyment 
with the outward apathy of a Bed Indian's stoicism. 
We all know that, in the jargon of that artificial 
class of conventionalists which we most absurdly call 
'the world/ it is bad 'ton' to laugh; so is it, too, 


262 


DIGBY GRAND. 


we presume, bad ‘ton* to cry. A daughter’s wed¬ 
ding or a mother’s death must produce no greater 
visible symptoms of emotion than the failures of a 
cook or the elopement of a canary; the most un¬ 
looked for success must only be acknowledged as 
e rather lucky than otherwise;’ the direst misfortune 
modified into the confession that it is ‘ certainly a 
bore.’ And yet this affectation of indifference hides 
many a sensitive spirit, many an affectionate heart. 
‘ The fine ladies’ themselves, inexplicable as is their 
public behaviour, and ill-judged the manner in which 
they overact their parts, are as good wives, as fond 
mothers, as stanch friends, as any other women in 
any other sphere or any other nation. The ‘fine 
gentlemen,’ who acquire that honourable designation 
by studiously ‘ snubbing’ the ladies aforesaid on 
every available opportunity, are as gallant, as frank- 
hearted, and as generous as any other class of men, 
whose destiny it is to go down to battle daily with 
the world; and that superficial dreariness which 
makes society in England the most disagreeable of 
all such gatherings of our fellow-creatures is but 
superficial after all, acquired with infinite pains, worn 
with obvious discomfort, and put away thankfully in 
private, whenever the happy hour arrives that allows 
the actor to take off his mask amongst his few real 
intimates, and show himself in his own personal cha¬ 
racter, how superior in general to the stilted part he 
thinks it necessary to support. And why should a 


FINDING A CHILD. 


263 


man take all this trouble to seem what he is not ? 
why should he run the risk of becoming eventually 
as unamiable as he is hourly striving to appear? 
why, in short, does every passing hour, every incident 
of life, more and more impress upon us the truth of 
the well-known adage, f One fool makes many ? 9 
Cartouch, however, had been educated in f the world/ 
and the second nature of habit had rendered him as 
immovable as his own real nature was fiery and 
demonstrative. Quietly, as though conversing upon 
the most unimportant topic, though in an even more 
measured tone than ordinary, he addressed the 
excited Frenchman, now blanched and foaming with 
the rage into which he had worked himself— f If you 
can prove to my satisfaction that this young lady 
(with a kind and courteous bow to Coralie) is hound 
to me by any ties of kindred, I shall be most happy 
to assure her of my regard and protection/ This 
was almost too much for the poor girl; the revilings 
of her husband, the incredulity of the Colonel, she 
had borne with unbending fortitude, but the voice of 
kindness from him whom she now almost hoped 
might prove her father, unnerved her completely. I 
saw her lip tremble, her eyes fill with tears, and 
her whole frame shake as if she must have fallen, 
whilst her brutal husband burst into a mocking 
laugh, as he exclaimed, f Proofs, Colonel—proofs 
—I can show you her mother's picture—I know 
old De Pd volte's will; take her, she is a child to be 


264 


DIGBY GBAND. 


proud of! If she is as good a daughter as she 
has proved a wife, je vous en felicite, mon Colonel. 
In every theatre a hireling, in every capital of Europe 
a-’ 

f Hold !’ shouted Cartouch, in a voice that brought 
Dubbs hurrying back to the cell, and for an instant, 
as the majesty of the natural man flashed through 
the artificial restraints of education, I thought he 
would have struck the convict to the ground, but he 
mastered himself, as, offering Coralie his arm, he 
said, f Whatever claims this lady may have upon me, 
she has at any rate that which is due from every 
gentleman, of protection from insult and annoyance; 
any further communication with me, Mr. Sarmento, 
must be held through the authorities of the prison. 
I have the honour to wish you a good morning/ 
And drawing Coralie’s arm within his own, he sup¬ 
ported her out of her husband’s cell, and reached 
honest Dubbs’s lodge just as the high-couraged 
girl’s strength gave way, the over-worked spirit 
failed, and Coralie de Bivolte fainted in her father’s 
arms. 

At such a time I thought my companionship, old 
friends as we were, would prove irksome to Cartouch, 
and leaving him to communicate unreservedly with 
his child as soon as she should recover, which, thanks 
to Mrs. Dubbs’s care, I trusted might be at no 
distant period, I took my homeward way, revolving 
in my mind the many strange coincidences, the 



UNLOOKED-FOR COMBINATIONS. 


265 


unlooked-for combinations that chequer our every-day- 
life. Here was a clue to the whole career of my old 
friend and former colonel, only discovered after I had 
known him, as I fancied, intimately for years. Here 
was the woman by whose preference I had been 
flattered, whose talents I had admired, and whom, 
despite her education and profession, I had once 
almost loved, now proved to be the lawful wife of 
one of earth's vilest reptiles, an acknowledged sharper 
and a convicted thief; and more unlooked for still, 
the daughter of that high-minded soldier, who was 
himself the very mirror of honour. Poor Cartouch. 
I thought, what must be his feelings, when he is 
convinced of the truth of Sarmento's story? when 
he is satisfied, as I am myself, that the child of that 
wife who f loved not wisely, but too well/ has been 
at length restored to him, a blighted flower truly, 
for had she not lacked the shelter of a father's roof? 
but still his own. Knowing him as well as I did, I 
was convinced that, though he would feel deeply the 
degradation, for to him it would unquestionably 
appear such, of his daughter's public calling, yet his 
strong affectionate nature would derive more pleasure 
than pain from recovering her, though even in such 
a manner as this. And then I began to speculate 
on the causes of Sarmento's extraordinary conduct. 
Why had his secret been kept so long ? why had the 
Colonel not been made aware of their relationship at 
any one crisis of the many in which the sharper 


266 


DIGBY GRAND. 


must have found himself without the means of ob¬ 
taining a livelihood ? In all probability he had been 
so well supported by the allowance derived from his 
wife's exertions, that it was not until he took to a 
course of systematic swindling that he bethought 
himself of his father-in-law, and he then forged the 
Colonel's signature, in hopes that, should he be 
detected, their relationship would bear him harmless. 
In this scheme, as we have seen, he utterly failed, 
and the drama which he had just thought fit to enact 
must have been for the double purpose of revenging 
himself upon the man he had injured, at the same 
time that he took the chance (a hopeless one, had he 
known with whom he had to deal) of inducing him 
to exert his interest for a pardon or mitigation of his 
merited punishment. And then I recollected the ex¬ 
pression of his countenance as he alluded to the unfor¬ 
tunate documents which had found their way into his 
hands from the possession of Mr. Shadrach;that worthy 
had behaved with unprecedented liberality at the time 
of my father's death, but this was to a certain ex¬ 
tent explained by his unaccountable disappearance 
within a very short period of that event, connected 
in a mysterious manner with the sudden death of a 
minor, who, had he lived six months longer, would 
have come into an enormous property, and the well- 
known crisis which occurred about the same time in 
the Ring, when Deceiver went back so unexpectedly 
to twenty to one. By the assistance of Mortmain, 


A SMASH IN THE CITY. 


267 


and the sacrifice of everything I possessed in the 
world, I had satisfied all claims on the part of Mr. 
Shadrach, except that with which he had parted to 
Sarmento, and I now felt that the clog was still 
round my neck, and that I had not even yet ex¬ 
piated the follies of my younger days. I resolved 
to communicate with kmd old Mortmain forthwith, 
and trusting in my uncertainty as to the state of tbe 
law, that a felon could possess no property, I dis¬ 
missed that subject from my mind. 

Then I began to think of Dubbs and his comfort¬ 
able-looking wife, and the strange career his must 
have been, since his impudence and his whiskers 
tempted him to run away with a lady, who in her 
turn ran away from him; I reviewed, in fancy, my 
early soldiering days, my boyish love for the irre¬ 
sistible Fanny Jones, the perfidy of that damsel, and 
all her escapades, up to the final scene at Fulham; 
then, by an easy transition, I began to moralize upon 
the many shrines at which I had worshipped, and to 
feel how there was but one at which I should ever 
wish to kneel again—how there was to me but one 
woman in the world that had a womaks truthful 
heart, and how I knew not what had become of her , 
and how improbable it was that Flora Belmont and 
I should ever meet again on this side the grave; and 
having arrived at this disheartening conclusion, and 
the narrowest part of the city at the same moment, I 
was roused from my day-dream, by what an intelligent 


268 


DIGBY GRAND, 


young Londoner about two feet high, with a face 
expressive of ludicrous malice and precocious humour, 
was pleased to term f a jolly smash'—and a jolly 
smash it undoubtedly was, consisting as it did of a 
four-wheeled cab, a lady's chariot, and a baker's 
cart, entangled together in a manner that threatened 
the destruction of each and all of them, whilst a 
red-faced coachman in convulsions, and a bay horse 
plunging violently and rearing straight on end, com¬ 
pleted the confusion of the scene, and the discom¬ 
fiture of the foot passengers. ‘ You a coachman !' 
swore the exasperated cabman, anxious to have it out 
in abuse before a policeman should make his appear¬ 
ance ; f aint fit to feed pigs—and come runnin' right 
across my old blind oss; 'ow was I to pull on the 
pavement, agin' the lamp-post?' ‘ Take his number, 
John,' vociferated the Jehu, himself apoplectic with 
excitement, to his fellow-servant, a gigantic footman, 
pale and helpless, in utter bewilderment; whilst the 
baker, who was a wag in his way, and whose cart, 
not his own but his master's, had been the original 
cause of all the difficulty, stuck his hands in his 
pockets, and roared out fits of laughter at the anger 
of the belligerents. 

Meantime, the whip-lashes were going, the wheels 
grated, the panel of the carriage crashed, and a 
tremulous female voice from within was heard to 
exclaim, in piteous accents of mingled terror and en¬ 
treaty,— f Take me out—take me out ! I'd rather 


THE WITHERED ROSE. 


269 


walk—I'll get out, if you please—I should much 
prefer walkingand seeing that John was infinitely 
too helpless to venture upon any decided step, I took 
the liberty of opening the door and offering my 
arm to assist the terrified prisoner in her escape. 
Rouged and wigged, flounced and furbelowed, 
dressed out as splendidly as ever, but light and 
wasted to a skeleton, in the withered frame that I 
now lifted as easily as that of a child, I could 
scarcely recognise the rounded form, the symmetrical 
proportions of the once-beautiful Mrs. Man-trap. 
Frightened as she was, she knew me immediately; 
and recovering her self-command as soon as she was 
out of the jaws of danger, she accosted me with all 
the old empressement, all the lively coquetry that 
were once so fascinating in the blooming enchantress, 
now so ridiculous in the withered dame that was 
clinging to my arm. f Always the preux chevalier , 
Sir Digby/—she croaked, with nodding head and 
shaky voice, as I placed her in a cab called for me 
by the wide awake young friend who had first directed 
my attention to the collision, and to whom I pre¬ 
sented a shilling in token of his services— f always 
prepared to serve the ladies; pray take me home, and 
come in to tell me all about yourself, what you have 
been doing, and where you have been all these agesd 
And so we rattled and jolted on together towards the 
snug little house near Park-lane, just as we might 
have done years before, when life was young and the 


270 


DIGBY GRAND. 


gloss was still untarnished on the wings of the 
butterfly. How she screamed, and laughed, and 
chattered, above all the noise and clatter of the cab, 
which was driven as cabs always are through the 
least macadamized streets. How she gossiped and 
rattled on, in the little boudoir near Park-lane, in 
which I found myself once more sitting in the well- 
known chair, with my very hat in the accustomed 
spot. All was unchanged save the lady herself—the 
choicest flowers, blocking up as of yore the carefully 
darkened windows, intercepted the blacks and shed 
their fragrance around. The rarest china, the 
quaintest oddities crowded every corner of the apart¬ 
ment ; the walls were covered with exquisite water¬ 
colours, and further decorated with cupids and 
posies, skirting the cornices, in the brightest colours 
and the most ingenious groups. A kit-cat of Mr. 
Man-trap, like love among the roses, occupied an 
honoured position where he could least escape obser¬ 
vation, and although now in his grave, and even in 
the days when he sat for it a very artificial old gen¬ 
tleman, that portrait was made the subject of many 
a high-flown sentiment and romantic allusion by the 
lady who had deceived him as a fiancee and divorced 
him as a wife. 

The weather was like the dog-days, yet a fire 
blazed and crackled in the grate, whilst a summer 
sun deepened the hue of the rose-tinted draperies 
and lined muslin curtains into a tone highly becom- 


TAKE YOUR CHOICE. 


271 


ing the complexion of the human face. Alas, that 
Calypso herself should have been past all such ad¬ 
ventitious aids; in vain for her to study how the 
upholsterer’s art might assist the dress-maker’s taste, 
in vain to sit perseveringly, in that subdued light 
which exposed fewest wrinkles and modified an inch 
of rouge into the peach’s bloom; there was no con¬ 
cealing the fact—despite teeth and hair purchased 
with a secresy that is the more surprising as the lady’s 
maid must necessarily be an accomplice in the fraud 
—despite caps and flowers and mechanical little 
coiffures which keep everything in its place—despite 
the graceful outline of horse-hair, and the rounded 
proportions of starch, with all the accessories of light 
and attitude and prestige , there was no disguising 
the unwelcome truth, that Mrs. Man-trap was an old 
woman, and, sharper still the pang, an ugly old 
woman to boot! 

And is it to this, young ladies, you will be satisfied 
to come ? Is this an image of age that youth can 
dwell upon with feelings of affection or respect—can 
think of imitating without a smile of mockery or a 
shudder of disgust? How different from the dear 
old grand-aunt or grand-mamma, whom you can all 
look back to as the patroness of your infancy, the 
recipient of all your little childish schemes and school¬ 
room sorrows; the busy, kind, affectionate old body, 
whose eye was as bright and whose laugh was as 
hearty as that of the youngest and merriest in the 


272 


DIGBY GRAND. 


little troop that gave such boisterous welcome to her 
presence. How well you remember every item of 
her neat, old-fashioned toilette! You were too 
young, perhaps, to appreciate all her good qualities, 
her patience, her piety, her gentle, unselfish disposi¬ 
tion ; but even in your thoughtless childhood you 
found yourselves wishing, though you knew not why, 
that if you should ever live to her advanced age you 
might be even as she was; and now, though in the 
full, fresh bloom and confidence of youth, with the 
rosy light of morning brightening all around you, 
and the clouds of sorrow that must, sooner or later, 
gather round your human lot, still far below the 
horizon, unthought of and uncared for, you go once 
or twice a year to weep over her grave—think you 
that her girlhood was devoted to the round of frivolity, 
her maturity wasted in the labyrinth of fashion? 
Ear from it. An evening of contentment and re¬ 
pose can only succeed a day of laborious usefulness 
and self-denial. And you, affectionate mothers and 
cautious chaperones, who watch over your respective 
fledglings with such undisguised solicitude; who de¬ 
tail, not without covert smiles of triumph, the hard- 
won victory in which papa was worsted (papa, it 
must be owned, is very ridiculous about the horses, 
and the number of times by day and night that they 
and the carriage are required), who sow cards so 
judiciously and reap invitations so successfully; who 
would pay morning visits to the Queen of Sheba, if 


THE REASON WHY. 


273 


she were going to give a ball, and let the Crown- 
Prince of Congo marry your daughter, if he would 
take a house in Grosvenor-square-—have you ever 
reflected for what you are taking all these pains, and 
encountering all sorts of rebuffs and annoyances? 
the cui bono of all your visitings and your inquirings, 
your dressings and your crushings, your jaded days 
and suffocating nights, your milliner’s bills (which, 
to be sure, are papa’s affair) and your own failing 
health and exhausted spirits when August releases 
you from your labours, and young f Desire’ starts un¬ 
ceremoniously for Caithness, without so much as a 
visit for leave-taking, far less a proposal in form? 
There it is—this is the Will-o’-the-wisp that glim¬ 
mers through f the season,’ and goes out at its close. 
This it is that smoothes Jane’s ringlets, and trims 
Maria’s gown. Dinner, concert, and breakfast; ball, 
opera, and French play, instead of being the pastimes 
of an idle hour, are the great business of life, the 
markets which the fair spinsters of England think it 
no shame to frequent f on view.’ f Jane is a hand¬ 
some girl, the image of mamma,’ says old Coelebs, 
f and should be done justice to. Maria is getting on 
in the twenties, and must not throw a chance away.’ 
So Maria and Jane toil on, night after night, in the 
labours of Hercules, to the fading of their roses and 
the attenuation of their figures; whilst young Desire, 
who smokes cigars at his club, and comes into society 
smelling strongly of those vegetables, thinks Mile. 

YOL. II. 


T 


274 


DIGBY GRAND. 


Gavotte, of the French play, more charming than 
either of them, and very likely ends by marrying the 
parson’s daughter in his own parish. And even should 
the triumphant matron, undeterred by repeated 
failures, succeed at length in fixing some reprobate 
peer, who wants an heir to his title, or some anti¬ 
quated millionaire, who requires a nurse for himself, 
as the constant Damon of her unsophisticated Phyllis, 
is such a lot the one that, in her moments of reflec¬ 
tion, she would desire for the child that has gam¬ 
bolled round her knees and nestled in her bosom ? 
To he the plaything of the one, and the slave of the 
other; to be neglected for a mistress by the roue , when 
his fears are set at rest as to the failure of his line; 
or kept a close prisoner by the peevish valetudinarian, 
a martyr to the whims and caprices engendered by 
half a century of self-indulgence; or worse still, ex¬ 
posed to the dangers that surround a wife who can¬ 
not love, and who has never learned to respect her 
husband. 

And then, when years have glided down upon the 
stream of time, when you are laid at rest in your 
grave, and the darling whom you now cherish has 
grown old and faded, to think that she should sub¬ 
side into such an artificial wreck, such a skeleton 
in roses as poor made-up, chattering Mrs. Man- 
trap, whose lovely boudoir and withered self have 
given rise to my tedious reflections! 

But weak as might be the frame, the spirit of the 


A LITTLE QUIET. 


275 


woman of fashion was volatile as ever. As though 
the twig she grasped and carried on with her could 
stay the tide that was bearing her too surely down¬ 
ward, she seemed to cling to every passing hour, to 
fling herself heart and soul into that world of which 
every moment was now becoming so precious. Such 
a flow of gossip, such an insight into every one's 
motives and actions, such scandal of celebrities 
whom I had known, and stars risen since my time, 
with whose private history I was made acquainted ! 
When at last she suffered me to depart, and I took 
my homeward way into the City, Fleet-street was 
quiet by comparison, and I felt like a man who, 
having lived for a week in the neighbourhood of a 
water-mill, wakes to a luxury of repose which is 
positively startling on the Sunday morning, when to 
his comfort he ascertains that the wheel has 
stopped. 


276 


CHAPTER XIII 


HASTE TO THE WEDDING. 


NCE more I was on the road to Haverley—this 



^ ' time in the depth of winter, yet how much 
brighter was all within than when I last took leave of 
my home on a glorious summer’s afternoon. Then I 
was reckless, degraded, and miserable; now I felt 
that at least I was fulfilling my destiny as one of 
the labourers in this toiling world—and that though 
there was much behind me I regretted in vain, much 
I would have given anything to undo, yet for me 
there was still a future; Pandora's box had indeed 
sent forth many a misfortune, but Hope, the 
sweetener of our cup, was at the bottom after all. 
The day was clear and bracing; a sharp white frost 
had crisped and powdered the leafless twigs of the 
stately old trees above me, and gemmed the rustling 
grass under my feet with a thousand brilliants. It 
was just the day for a walk, when the blood glows 
with exercise and the spirits rise as you inhale the 
pure oxygen of the rarified air. The sun shines 
brightly down upon your path and feels hot against 


A WINTER WALK. 


277 


your tingling cheek as you emerge into his beams, 
but the hoar-frost sleeps undisturbed on the shady 
side of rail and gate-post, and the north banks under 
the fences are white as snow and hard as iron. If 
you are addicted to hunting, you congratulate your¬ 
self on not having sent ‘ Favourite 5 on to the place 
where the hounds were advertised to meet, and 
striding away upon your trusty supporters, you exult 
in the superior elasticity of your own action to the 
constrained, tottering motions of a high-conditioned 
horse, who feels each of his four legs gliding from 
under him in a different direction, and is obliged to 
restrain his inclination for a gambol in fear lest it 
should terminate with a slide. The wagon-bell on 
the high-road, two miles away, comes tinkling on 
your ear, sharp and distihct through the thin 
atmosphere—the distant spires are elearly defined 
against the sky, and you feel man enough to visit 
each and all of them and scour the intervening 
country before sunset, early though it be. This is 
the weather for five miles an hour heel-and-toe, and 
if you can indeed accomplish that distance within 
the given time, I honour you as a pedestrian and 
respect you as a peripatetic. It was quite a day 
for a walk, and leaving my ‘impedimenta 5 at the 
station, I determined to foot it to my destination, 
taking the well-known bridle-way that would lead me 
right across the park of Haverley. As I traversed 
the acres that ought to have been mine, and looked 


278 


DIGBY GRAND. 


around upon the Eden I had forfeited, I could not 
but confess that the hand of improvement, the care 
of a judicious landlord, was everywhere apparent. 
How different from the waste and negligence of my 
poor father’s time. The present proprietor was no 
high-bred gentleman, for whom horse and hound 
were objects of far greater solicitude than the 
tenantry and cottagers, whose welfare it should be 
his privilege to ensure; no scion of an old family, 
despising the canaille , and esteeming e blood* f the 
one thing needful,’ as though a long nose and a 
small foot were effective substitutes for all the car¬ 
dinal virtues. No; he was a pains-taking, practical 
man, who by his own unremitting exertions had 
amassed a large fortune, which he was now expend¬ 
ing for the benefit of his fellow-creatures. Capital 
judiciously applied, I could not but see, was an 
advantageous exchange for all the wasteful excesses 
and empty state of the old family, nor do I think the 
obtuse cottagers and thick-headed farmers ever re¬ 
gretted the coach-and-six, the Norman descent, the 
condescending courtesy, and the rack-rents of the 
Grands. As I swung on, invigorated by the exer¬ 
cise, and marked how well this farm-house had been 
repaired, how systematically that plantation had been 
thinned, I came to the very spot where in my early 
youth I had ridden the four-year-old, afterwards 
immortalized as f Sir Benjamin/ out of ' Haverley 
cow-pasture* into the London road; and many as 


THE OLD PLACE. 


279 


were the years that had elapsed, changed as was the 
whole world around me, and myself more changed 
than all, I confess to a thrill of boyish exultation as 
I perceived my exploit commemorated by a strong 
oaken rail placed across the gap established by our 
egress, and which would effectually debar any 
daring equestrian from a repetition of the feat. 
Vanity is of all ages, and I have heard even a woman, 
and a very pretty one to boot, aver that she would 
rather be complimented upon her horse than her 
looks; can we then wonder at the biped man, albeit 
when old enough to know better, clinging to the fame 
of his successes as a Centaur rather than to a repu¬ 
tation for wisdom, morality, or science in the graver 
and more important pursuits of life ? The four-year- 
old brought back to my mind the General from 
wdiom he took his designation, and saddened my 
retrospective triumphs as I remembered that he too, 
the thoughtless, kind-hearted old warrior, had passed 
away. His name is now a blank in the Army List; 
the place that hath known him knows him no more; 
his clasps and crosses have been returned to the 
Sovereign from whom they emanated, and Sir Tartar 
Trim, who succeeded to his vacant command, is 
countermanding his orders and revoking his regula¬ 
tions. The Dead March in Saul—the crape-covered 
charger—the cocked-hat, sword and epaulettes of the 
senseless corpse—two regiments under arms—-a 
deafening salute that cannot wake the dead—and a 


280 


DIGBY GRAND. 


lively quick-step melody, cheering the troops as they 
return to barracks—is this all that is left of half a 
century of war and pageantry, the thrilling excite¬ 
ment of the bivouac, the seductive pomp of the 
parade—a life of alternate idleness and danger, hard¬ 
ship and dissipation, and all those varieties of scene 
and society that make soldiering so dear to a careless 
mind ? Poor old Burgonet, with all your faults you 
had indeed a warm, kind heart, and it is not for me 
to pry into the motives or pass judgment on the 
conduct of another. 

f If you please, good gentleman, to spare a trifle 
for a poor woman/ said a voice close to me, as I 
hounded over the stile that terminated my bridle-way 
in the high-road. There was something in the accent 
that smote upon my ear, a glance in the wild large 
eye that went straight to my heart. Poor thing— 
poor thing—that shrunken form, that pale wasted 
hand thrust out for an alms, can this be Lady Bur¬ 
gonet—can this be Fanny Jones ? A desolate tramp 
walking the high-roads and bearing with her a 
wretched sickly infant wrapped in that scanty shawl, 
of which, cold as is the day, she has deprived herself 
to shelter her child. Frivolity and vice, sin and 
misery, have made sad havoc with their victim, but 
she is a mother still. And that child’s father, what 
has become of him? The origin of all her misery, 
the first, the only love of that abandoned heart! 

4 Oh, Sir Digby ! Sir Digby P cried the emaciated 


FANNY JONES. 


281 


woman, blushing crimson over face, neck, and hands, 
as she recognised me; ‘ have pity on me—lost, ruined, 
degraded, have pity on me—I am starving. It is 
God's truth, I am starving—and my child will die 
upon the road for want of a morsel of bread !' Poor 
creature ! the first kind words she had heard for many 
a long day brought on a fit of hysterical weeping, 
and a scene extremely unusual on the Queen's high¬ 
way. She knelt before me on the cold ground; she 
covered my hand with kisses ; she showered blessings 
on my head almost as volubly as the beggar who has 
been brought up to the trade, and whose beatitudes 
are of surprising eloquence; but hers came direct 
from the heart, for our timely encounter had saved 
the life of her child. She told me of Levanter—she 
called him Richard—there was no concealment now. 
She described to me all she had borne with him and 
for him; how they had cheated and swindled toge¬ 
ther, and lived first in one place, then in another, on 
their dishonest profits; how they had been now in 
affluence, now in extreme want; and how, whilst 
Richard was kind to her, she had been happy through 
it all. How at last, when ill-luck seemed to pursue 
everything they undertook, he had become first mo¬ 
rose, then savage; how he had cursed her as a clog 
round his neck, when she bore him the child that 
was even then in her arms; how he had struck her 
for going to old Burgonet's funeral; and her tears 
flowed afresh as she sobbed out, f for the old man 


282 


DIGBY GRAND. 


was indeed kind to me V —and how the bitterest drop 
in her cnp was the assurance that Richard hated and 
wished to get rid of her. How the gang to which 
he had attached himself were discovered and broken 
up, and he was at that very moment crossing the 
high seas, a transport for life; and even now, could 
she find the means, despite his neglect, despite his 
crimes, his falseheartedness, and his brutality, she 
would fain go out and join him once more in another 
hemisphere. Woman is indeed a wondrous creation. 
Had this one any single redeeming quality but those 
which are inseparable from her sex ? Wanton, reck¬ 
less, and deceitful, had she been a man she would 
have been the basest of her kind; but she was a 
woman, and sunk, degraded as she might be, she was 
true to her first love, she would have died for her 
child. Need I say that I did all in my power to 
soften her wretched lot. But it was with a slower 
step and a saddened, chastened heart that I walked 
on to my destination, where a very different scene 
awaited me, a scene of mirth and merrymaking, cor¬ 
diality and good wishes—what a mocking contrast to 
the sobs and anguish of that shame-stricken out¬ 
cast ! 

I presume all weddings are much the same in 
detail, how different soever may be the causes that 
lead to such ceremonials. The one to which I was 
now hastening had indeed reason to be a joyous 
gathering. After years of probation, much opposi- 


TAKING A LESSON. 


283 


tion from papa, and all sorts of obstacles which pro¬ 
verbially ruffle the course of true love, my friend 
and partner, Tom Spencer, was about to be united to 
the faithful Julia Batt. The Bev. Amos himself was 
to give the bride away at the altar; old Doctor 
Driveller, assisted by two strapping curates, was to 
perform the ceremony; and the part of bringing the 
bridegroom in good order to the post, and then f giving 
him a knee* during the match, was to devolve upon 
myself; an office, I may remark, en passant , which, 
when often persisted in, is apt to stamp the scared 
bottle-holder a bachelor for life. In all well-regulated 
establishments, that sacred period which immediately 
precedes the irrevocable union of two fellow-creatures, 
is treated by the females as a kind of saturnalia, 
during which, probably to guide the future conduct 
of the spouse, male authority is set utterly at defi¬ 
ance, and the grosser sex are carefully excluded from 
all those mysterious preparations and arrangements 
which seem indispensable to the occasion. Great 
gatherings are there of aunts past praying for and 
pretty cousins on their promotion, matrons skilled in 
the science of wife and motherhood, damsels not yet 
released from the back-board and music-stool, to say 
nothing of old maids whose concern for all matters 
tending to marrying and giving in marriage must 
necessarily be of the most disinterested nature. 
Bonnets and shawls gather from the four winds of 
heaven. Silence flies terrified to take shelter in the 


284 


DIGBY GRAND. 


clubs, and a hundred tastes pronounce their voluble 
decrees on the innumerable changes of raiment which 
custom has rendered it imperative to provide for a 
young lady about to be married. When I arrived at 
Owlthorpe Rectory, the keen white frost of the morn¬ 
ing had subsided into a dull, grey atmosphere, with a 
drizzling rain, and I found my friend Tom, the ex¬ 
ulting bridegroom, whose shield I was to bear on the 
morrow, smoking a disconsolate cigar under the shelter 
of some dripping larches that overhung the Rectory 
gate. f The lawyers are in the library with Mr. 
Batt/ said the intended, with rather a woful air for 
so happy a man. ‘ The bridesmaids are upstairs with 
Julia—eight of them, all to be dressed alike, my dear 
fellow, and I don’t know one from the other as it is; 
there are seventeen ladies at cake and wine in the 
drawing-room; Julia’s new maid, over whom I feel 
I shall never have the slightest authority, has turned 
me out of the study, which is besides completely 
tapestried with clothes; it is washing-day at the farm¬ 
house, where I have got a lodging in the cheese-room, 
and this is the only place I can find to smoke a cigar 
and wait patiently till dinner-time.” 

Encouraging, truly ! At dinner it was not much 
better. A family party is seldom a very lively 
reunion , and I think I may say, without self-conceit, 
that my arrival was most acceptable to all the rela¬ 
tives assembled at the rectory. Old Mortmain, who 
of course had the entire management of settlements, 


THE BRIDEGROOM. 


285 


was the only other disinterested person present, and 
though the Rev. Amos pushed his bottle of port 
round vigorously after dinner, and held forth as 
usual concerning his shooting, from which increasing 
blindness did not seem to wean him, I firmly be¬ 
lieve the lawyer and myself were the only two people 
present that had the slightest idea of what we were 
drinking or what we were talking about. 

A peal of bells awoke me on the morrow, and 
with a lively impression of the responsible office I 
had undertaken, and an indistinct feeling of relief as 
I reflected that I was only the second, and not the 
principal, I proceeded to endue myself in the gorgeous 
attire, without which it is unlucky to -attend either 
weddings or christenings; and after a hasty cup of 
tea, provided by the kind attention of f Julia’s new 
maid/ all the rest of the female domestics being at 
sixes and sevens, I proceeded to the farm-house, to 
look after my man. 

Tom was nervous, undoubtedly nervous. His 
breakfast stood untouched upon the table, and his 
hand shook as he fastened the tie of his blue neck¬ 
cloth, and gave his whiskers their farewell twirl. 
All the females of his establishment were likewise on 
the move. The old dame that reigned over the 
farm eyed him with severe scrutiny as he left her 
threshold ; and the blowsy maid-of-all-work forgot 
the ribbons with which we had presented her, in her 


286 


DIGBY GRAND. 


infatuated eagerness to ‘ get a look at the bride¬ 
groom/ The village, too, of which we had to traverse 
the whole length, was up in arms; and still caps 
and gowns predominated over the male creation. 
Doubtless there is something in a wedding that 
speaks directly to the sympathies of woman, reminds 
her of what has been, or kindles hopes of what may 
be, in her gentle bosom. Certainly she misses no 
opportunity of witnessing the fatal ceremony. 

In the church, the same f ministering angels* 
thronged loft, aisle, and chancel with inquiring 
countenances of every age and every hue; whilst 
many a whispered comment and open-mouthed stare 
did homage to the magnificent apparel of the bride. 
The men admired her beauty, the women her dress. 
The pen of fiction must not presume to describe the 
sacred ceremony; enough to say that the venerable 
clergyman, the quaint old church, the respectful con¬ 
gregation, were in harmonious keeping with the holy 
office then and there celebrated; but when the 
bride faltered out, as brides will do, the important 
words, f I will/ a burst of weeping broke forth from 
the assembled fair, as violent as it was unaccount¬ 
able; there was not a dry eye in the church, if we 
except the clerk and the half-dozen males who found 
themselves thus, as it were, swamped in tears. Even 
the old gipsy-woman from the common, who could 
scarce be said to belong to the parish, and had not 
set eyes on Miss Batt twice in her existence, sobbed 


SOON OYER. 287 

as if her heart would break. One would have 
supposed a second Andromeda was bound for sacri¬ 
fice, and that Tom Spencer, looking more meek, not 
to say sheepish, than I had ever seen him in his life, 
was the odious sea-monster, gaping to devour his 
victim. Had each and all of these sympathizing 
Niobes been then and there about to be united in 
marriage to the Sultan, and shipped off for Con¬ 
stantinople and captivity on the spot, their grief 
could not have been more general or more inconsol¬ 
able. 

The knot is soon tied, however dilatory may be 
the legal process of untying the same. Again the 
old tower rocks with a merry peal, and the ringers, 
refreshed with beer, and incited to further exertions 
by the prospect of that favourite beverage in still 
greater profusion, moisten their strong large hands 
and pull away vigorously; white-headed old men, 
c the forefathers of the hamlet/ bless the handsome 
bride as she passes. Tom Spencer walks by her 
side, erect and smiling, and tries to look quite at 
his ease with indifferent success. There is always a 
startled look about a bridegroom, as if he had only 
just awoke to the responsibilities of the office; and 
Tom can hardly realize to himself that the lady 
whom he has adored so many years as Miss Batt, is 
now handed in at her father’s door as Mrs. Spencer 
—a new and strange designation, which somewhat 


288 


DIGBY GRAND. 


destroys the identity of that very charming person. 
May he love her as well under her lately acquired 
title! and in the meantime we all go to breakfast. 

Now begins the triumph of the bridesmaids. 
Hitherto those uniformly-dressed young ladies have 
been so occupied with the various onerous duties of 
their position, that they have had but little leisure 
for idle thoughts or worldly speculations. They 
have accompanied their charge to church with the 
gravity becoming their years and office; they have 
marched up the aisle two and two, with a touching 
expression of sympathy for the martyr clouding their 
pretty faces; they, that is to say two of them, told 
off for that especial duty, have gravely mounted 
guard over her gloves and pocket*handkerchief, 
whilst the others have disposed themselves around, 
in groups so picturesque and attitudes so graceful, 
that it is difficult to believe they are so thoroughly 
unstudied and inartificial; but now they have their 
reward, now they vie in interest with their principal 
—Le Roi est mort—vive le Roi ! 

The Derby is over—the favourite has won, and 
speculation is rife as to the forthcoming event that 
day twelvemonth, for man lives in the future. So 
the bride is now a wife, and as such has just begun 
to lose the least shade of that enthusiasm with which 
she was regarded half an hour ago. But these 
charming young ladies in gauze and smiles are still 
on their promotion. You or I might marry any 


THE RETURN OF SPRING. 


289 


one of them, but perhaps we are too cautious to try, 
perhaps we are confirmed old bachelors, and have 
not entirely forgotten a prettier face than any of 
these, at least to our mind, that was dressed in 
smiles for us some forty years ago. However, we 
may still look kindly on at the pretty faces here, 
and doubtless, though our hearts be not quite so 
susceptible, our appetites are infinitely better than 
when we were lads and fancied ourselves in love. 

The Reverend Amos has provided a sumptuous 
breakfast. Champagne at noon would make an 
anchorite lively, and a wedding has been from time 
immemorial a fair subject for a certain number of 
stock jokes and clumsy inuendoes, which never fail 
to obtain encouragement and applause. We sit 
down readily enough, and there is a good deal of 
confusion about places, and rustling of dresses which 
require liberal space in their arrangement. I sidle 
into my chair, so as not to compress pretty Miss 
Glover into the slim nymph which I believe her to 
be when divested of all those muslin outworks, and 
rally that blushing damsel upon the killing appear¬ 
ance of herself and sister bridesmaids. There is a 
vacant place on my other hand—a lady in half- 
mourning glides quietly into it, Hot dress touches 
me as she sits down, and turning round, I behold 
the pale, sad face, the gentle^ chastened beauty of 
Flora Belmont. 

How changed from the laughing girl that I first 

VOL. n. U 


290 


DIGBY GRAND. 


met, kindling with enthusiasm at the review ! how 
changed and yet how inexpressibly lovelier ! The 
deep blue eye was heavy and sorrow-laden, yet its 
glance was soft and winning as ever. The smooth 
cheek had lost something of its roundness and its 
dimples, yet the outline was faultless as a sculptor’s 
model still; the low pale forehead had a shade of 
care, and a line or two of silver already streaked 
those masses of dark brown hair; yet for spiritual 
beauty, for that indefinite indescribable something 
which makes woman loveable , there is no other word 
for it, how superior was the Flora of to-day to the 
fresh rosy girl of—it is needless to say how many 
years ago. Not that I perceived this all at once, 
not that I turned round and took an inventory of 
Miss Belmont’s charms, as of a portrait in the Exhi¬ 
bition. Far from it; our greeting was indeed of 
the briefest and most formal, to a stranger it would 
have seemed ‘ something less than kind.’ I am 
not sure that we shook hands. And it is more 
from conviction than memory that I am aware Flora 
was residing with an aunt not five miles from 
Haverley, or three from Owlthorpe, that she had 
lost her father scarcely a year, and had been over¬ 
persuaded by Julia to come to the wedding break¬ 
fast, though her sable attire prevented her witness¬ 
ing the ceremony in church. To say truth, I have 
but a confused notion of the events of that morning. 
1 have a dim recollection of much shouting and 


A WEDDING BREAKFAST. 


291 


rapping of tlie table when we drank the f health of 
the new-married couple/ and Tom Spencer’s break¬ 
ing down sadly in a suitable reply. I know that I 
was much laughed at for absence of mind and dere¬ 
liction of duty in permitting Mr. Mottles, now an 
excessively garrulous old gentleman, to take upon 
himself my office of proposing the bridesmaids’ 
health, a duty which he performed in a speech of 
astonishing eloquence, comparing those laughing 
damsels to everything that was charming, animate 
or inanimate, and bringing Lempriere’s Dictionary 
into play, with extraordinary research, for classical 
metaphors and examples illustrating their extreme 
loveliness; they were ‘ spring flow’rets/ they were 
‘ budding roses,’ f satellites shining round the silver 
queen of heaven,’ f nymphs dancing in the train of 
Diana,’ f laughing Hours attendant on the rosy 
Morn/ they were f the three graces and the nine 
muses’ (there were just eight of them), and in con¬ 
clusion, he wished them f all sorts of happiness, and 
one husband apiece at least, and more afterwards, 
if that was not enough.’ My toast could not have 
fallen into abler hands. I think the bride retired 
for an unconscionably long time to change her dress 
for travelling—-they were to spend the honeymoon 
at Maltby’s place, in Yorkshire—and reappeared in 
a costume of surprising magnificence, surmounted 
by a bonnet, the like of which I have neither seen 
before nor since. I am persuaded that I shook 

u 2 


292 


DIGBY GRAND. 


hands repeatedly both with her and Tom Spencer 
at uncertain intervals, and for no obvious reason; 
and the impression is strong upon my mind that 
either I or Mr. Mottles threw an old shoe after the 
carriage as it drove off, to the imminent peril of 
f Julia's new maid' on the dicky; but I do know 
that I walked home on that afternoon alone with 
Mora Belmont, and that the early winter sun set 
not the same evening upon a happier man than the 
bridegroom's assistant. 

Love has been written up by enthusiasts and 
sneered down by cynics, till the very nature of that 
mysterious phase of the human mind has become 
shrouded in contradictions and confusion; inflated 
into folly on the one hand, and scouted as madness 
on the other, the noble unselfish passion that, hand- 
in-hand with honour, beckoned the knights of old 
along the path of fame, is now sneered at as the fond 
imagining of a romantic boy, the vain delusiou of a 
silly girl. f Such an one is in love' is at once an 
excuse and a reason for any act of folly, extrava¬ 
gance, or self-conceit of which the patient may be 
guilty. f They are both very young; they will know 
better in time,' says Middle-age, shrinking back into 
the coat of mail that Self has for years been harden¬ 
ing for its defence, and the kindliest instinct of our 
worldly nature is ridiculed as a fantasy, or denounced 
as an absurdity. Surely this must be wrong; the 
very essence of true affection for another is a total 


c’est l’amour. 


293 


abnegation and forgetfulness of ourselves; and 
perhaps the noblest attitude of man is that in which 
he casts from him the idol to which his fellow- 
creatures are too prone to bow, and throws off his 
allegiance to the tyrant Self, whose chains, growing 
with our growth and strengthening with our strength, 
become daily and hourly more galling and more 
unrelenting. When two people can live for years 
apart and never forget, can undergo toil, privation, 
perhaps cutting sarcasm, and stern rebuke, each for 
the others sake; when the watches of the night 
bring back only the one image; when a strain of 
music, a glance of sunshine, or a scene of beauty 
recals the one loved face; when they are prepared to 
confront the battle of life under every disadvantage, 
and take the inevitable journey, weary and a-foot, so 
they may but go hand-in-hand; depend upon it there 
is something more than human in the instinct which 
prompts such self-sacrifice and self-denial—depend 
upon it that when we scout Love from the face of 
the earth, we are casting off the one last link that con¬ 
nects us with the angels in heaven, we are doing our 
best to wither f the flowerets of Eden; ; nor can we 
complain that it is the fault of any but ourselves 
if we find indeed that ‘the trail of the serpent is 
over them all/ 


294 


CHAPTER XIY. 

SETTLED AT LAST. 

TTOW different looks the little room in the city 
now. Mis true that Tom Spencer has deserted me, 
and is living in a perfect paradise of strawberries at 
Fulham; that my solitude is darkened by the gloom 
of a London noon, and refreshed by an atmosphere 
compounded of gas, dust, and large particles of soot, 
whilst my view is bounded by a dead wall, not ten 
feet from the window, and the f blue vault above me 
benff reduced to a narrow strip of lurid leaden sky; 
and yet what rosy hues pervade the interior of the 
small dingy apartment. The dream is at length to 
be realized. Hope is at last to become fruition, and 
Flora Belmont has promised, at no very distant 
period, to share the broken fortunes of the ruined 
dandy, to superintend the humble establishment of 
the struggling tradesman. How St. Heliers will 
laugh, if, indeed, that wasted frame have energy 
enough left to indulge in merriment. How Mrs. 
Man-trap will sneer at the eventual fate of that 
pretty Miss Belmont, who was voted a beauty even 


A TRUE WOMAN. 


295 


in London, and came out of the ordeal unscathed 
and uncorrupted; who might have married Sir 
Angelo, and given the very ball which is advertised 
to take place to-night at his house in Belgrave-square. 
True, Sir Angelo is old enough to be her father, and, 
in addition to a somewhat repulsive exterior, is 
afflicted with a temper such as womans nature is the 
least of all able to cope with—violent, sarcastic, and 
unforgiving; but then she would have had the best 
carriage-horses in London; and what a salve must 
be a box at the opera to a wounded spirit and dis¬ 
appointed heart. And the gentle girl (for is she 
not still a girl to me ?) has chosen to forego all these 
advantages for my sake. And what have I to offer 
her in return, save the homage of a sincere, and I 
hope an honest, heart ? Nor has her choice been 
made without a struggle, without the endurance of 
many a cutting remark and well-meant reproof on 
the part of her father’s friends. 

The Colonel died, leaving his only daughter, con¬ 
trary to expectation, but ill provided for; nor were 
his latter hours divested of anxiety for her comfort¬ 
able settlement in life. Many a wealthy home was 
offered to the handsome Miss Belmont; many a 
true-hearted gentleman knelt at my pretty Flora’s 
feet; but each and all were courteously and gently 
declined; nor does it become me to dwell upon the 
motives which could induce her to forego the sub¬ 
stantial realities of comfort, if not happiness, for that 


296 


DIGBY GKAND. 


which her friendly advisers could not but consider as 
a dream of the past. One scene only will I de¬ 
scribe, as a specimen of the importunities to which 
woman is subject on a matter of which surely she 
ought to be the best judge; and I may observe, en 
passant , that I became acquainted with its details 
through my friend Tom Spencer, who gathered the 
particulars from Julia, who overheard the conversa¬ 
tion by accident; and having herself sworn eternal 
secrecy as to the whole proceedings, only confided 
them to her husband under the same sacred and 
inviolable pledge. 

It was some six months after Colonel Belmontes 
death that Flora, who was staying on a visit to her 
friend at the Rectory, was taken to task by the 
Reverend Amos, one of her father’s executors, and 
his oldest friend, as to her repugnance to a comfort¬ 
able settlement in life—the battered, worn, and cal¬ 
culating man of the world thinking himself, no doubt, 
capable of fathoming the depth of that priceless 
heart. Even Julia, who is every inch a woman, 
allows that she never saw anything so beautiful as 
the orphan in her deep mourning, bending, pale and 
sad, over the inevitable needlework, that soothes and 
beguiles the cheerless hours of many a weary spirit. 
Oh that needlework ! with its provoking intricacy and 
slow-growing design—what hot tears have fallen on 
those crossing threads—what sorrow-laden eyes have 
gazed dully and unconsciously on that dazzling web, 


CROSS-STITCH, 


297 


whilst the fingers plied their mechanical task, and 
the heart was far away, basking in the sunny visions 
of the past, or yearning in hopeless misery for the 
irrevocable. From the village maiden, who sits at 
the cottage door and hems her father's shirt through 
blinding tears, as memory invests John, late 'fisted 
for a soldier, with endearing qualities of which that 
faithless rustic is altogether guiltless, to the peer’s 
daughter, drooping over her embroidery, and in¬ 
haling with the fragrance of the conservatory memo¬ 
ries of him who is even now presenting the same 
bouquets and vowing the same vows to another, 
aggravated by that distant strain of music from the 
school-room, where her little sister is practising the 
very waltz that wafted his love-whispers in her ear,— 
the canvas is the refuge and the confidante of 
woman's memories, woman's hopes, and woman's 
sorrows. What smoking is to man, needlework is to 
his helpmate—the same soothing sedative—the same 
idle occupation; how much more needed by the 
gentler spirit, whose feelings must be more carefully 
concealed in proportion to their greater violence ! 

W^ell, even Julia says Flora looked beautiful as 
she sat in the cheerful drawing-room at the Rectory, 
with the noon-day sun brightening her calm sad 
brow, and glancing from the waves of her glossy 
hair, busied apparently with her stitches, and totally 
unconscious of the presence of her host, who was 
watching her with alarming intensity. The Reverend 


298 


DIGBY GRAND. 


Amos was a short-sighted man, mentally and phy¬ 
sically, but when he was determined to see a thing, 
he brought both corporeal and ideal vision to bear in 
a focus peculiarly his own, and the abstracted semp¬ 
stress quite started when he addressed her, in his 
abrupt and jerking manner, on a subject not gene¬ 
rally entered upon without certain preliminary obser¬ 
vations. 

f Refused him again. Miss Flora, as I understand ? 
Very ill-judged. What does it mean? Whom are 
you waiting for?—what's the use?* spluttered the 
angry divine, half ashamed of his hastiness and the 
calm surprise with which Flora looked up at him 
from her work. 

f Really, Mr. Batt, you must explain yourself/ she 
observed quietly, after a lengthened pause, during 
which the gentleman paced nervously up and down 
the room, fidgetted with a flower-stand, and upset 
a geranium-pot—malicious Julia laughing in the 
garden the while. 

f Explain ! it can't be explained. Three before 
your father's—I mean last year, and two since. 
Never used to be so. Look at Julia—going to 
settle—quite right; so should you. Miss Flora. I 
asked Sir Angelo to dinner yesterday on purpose, 
and I told you myself to be civil to him.' 

f Well, Mr. Batt,' replied Flora, with a look of 
comic seriousness, 1 and I was civil to him—very.' 

f Why didn't you accept him, then?' thundered 


A QUIET LECTURE. 


299 


out the divine, infuriated by his own disappoint¬ 
ment in what he honestly thought a delightful ar¬ 
rangement for his fair charge. ‘ I saw him give 
you a rosebud; I knew he meant something by his 
coming in the coach with four horses. He took 
you in to dinner, and he sat with you the whole 
evening, and yet you refused him—refused him, as I 
stand here; and for the second time, too. What am 
I to understand ? Once for all, will you marry him. 
Miss Flora ? Be cool—for Heaven's sake, be cool !' 
(This was a species of adjuration always addressed to 
himself and the public by the Reverend Amos, in 
moments of great excitement.) f Once for all, and 
the last time of asking, will you marry him, Miss 
Flora ?' 

‘ Then, once for all, Mr. Batt,' replied she, ‘ I 
will not .' 

The Reverend Amos danced about the room, and 
Julia in the garden went into fits of laughter. 

‘ It's no use my talking, Miss Belmont,' said he— 
f no use my pointing out the chances you throw 
away, the wfilfulness, the blindness, the absurdity of 
your conduct. By all that's—extraordinary, it's too 
bad ! Now, be cool! Capricious I knew you were 
—women are all so; headstrong I might have 
expected; for Julia is as self-willed as the rest of you; 
but ungrateful I never thought you would be, Flora 
—never: I, who have danced you on my knee a 
hundred times !' 


300 


DIGBY GKAND. 


The tears rose in poor Florals eyes, as she besought 
him not to consider her ungrateful, or disrespectful 
to f dear papa's oldest friend; but I cannot—no, I 
cannot, marry Sir Angelo.' 

f Very well, Miss Belmont/ said the rector; ‘I 
see how it is. Now mark my words, and be cool. 
You will live to rue this day; make your own choice; 
I wash my hands of you. I know what it is—you 
are waiting for a man who has never cared for you— 
that broken-down spendthrift, Grand; and for the 
chance of marrying him, you refuse nine thousand 
a year and a house in London, with the best shooting 
in this country; and all for a man who has never 
asked you—a speculator, a tradesman! Now, be 
cool—a man without an atom of principle—a gambler 
—a roue -' 

f Not a word more, Mr. Batt/ said Flora, rising 
with a calm dignity that, in spite of himself, made 
the adviser feel thoroughly ashamed. f This is a 
tone to which I am unaccustomed, and, till you can 
speak of your own and your son's friend with proper 
forbearance, I shall retire to my own room; nor can 
I continue as a guest with one who presumes so 
much upon his position and my own forlorn and 
friendless situation.' And with these words, she 
swept out of the room with a calm dignity seldom 
assumed by that gentlest of women, but with which, 
when she chose, for all her pale face and soft, sweet 
eyes, she could have f looked a lion down.' 



VISIONS OF THE FUTURE. 


301 


To her own apartment she marched, with mea¬ 
sured, unfaltering step, and there, we may be sure, 
her dignity gave way, and thither, we may be equally 
sure, Julia followed; and the two women wept in 
one another's arms, and doubtless administered sal- 
volatile and other remedies, and bathed their eyelids 
and smoothed their hair, and made the Reverend 
Amos very uncomfortable at luncheon, and thoroughly 
ashamed of himself at dinner; and the skirmish 
ended, as usual, in the total rout and discomfiture of 
the master of the house; but yet to many such 
annoyances was Flora subjected, and still she re¬ 
mained faithful, unforgetting, and uncomplaining, to 
the end. 

Well, it is over now, X hope. Soon she shall again 
have a home—may it be a happy one! And in the 
mean time I people the little room in London with 
thick-coming fantasies and hopeful visions, in which 
a comfortable independence, a picturesque villa, and 
a smiling, happy wife, form no unimportant items; 
wdiilst, looming in the far horizon, X trace an indis¬ 
tinct prospect of a fortune, acquired by diligence and 
self-denial, and an ancestral home, repurchased by a 
vigorous old man, who has devoted a lifetime to the 
endeavour of repairing the errors of his youth. 
Castles in the air these may be, but such aerial 
edifices have at least the advantage of an unlimited 
liberality of estimate, and a boundless range of plan. 

It is pleasanter, though perhaps less profitable, to 


302 


DIGBY GRAND. 


look forward than to look back. The reader has 
probably had quite enough of Digby Grand and his 
autobiography; but to some amongst those who may 
have glanced over these pages, he may say, Mutato 
nomine de te , fabula narratur. How many a noble 
intellect and gallant spirit is at this moment wasting 
its energies on the most unworthy and unsatisfactory 
of all employments—the pursuit of pleasure ! gain¬ 
ing nothing, hoping nothing, leading to nothing, 
conjuring with the one word ‘ society* an excuse for 
the neglect of all that is most dignified in humanity, 
all that is most important to mankind; wearing out 
the body and corrupting the soul with labours that 
are worse than futile, pleasures far more injurious 
than pain. f Push on, keep moving*—such is the 
motto of this world of ours; and in this world 
nothing can remain stationary. Look at your farm, 
dejected landowner; should you omit to sow that 
corn which you have discovered to be so unremune- 
rative an outlay, think you that mother earth will 
not bestow a supply of weeds in choking profusion 
on the surface of your neglected soil? Strip the 
favourite, noble sportsman, as you select him from 
your costly string of race-horses, and say, statesman 
though you be, can you keep him at his best for 
twenty-four hours ? You know you cannot, though 
thousands depend upon the result; if he is not im¬ 
proving, he is going back. So is it with the human 
mind: every day, every hour that passes, has its in- 


UP THE LADDER. 


303 


flaence on the godlike portion of man. If he is not 
storing his intellect from the past or training his soul 
for the future, depend upon it both one and the 
other are imperceptibly but surely deteriorating from 
that lofty ideal which, though unattainable here, 
should ever be in view, are assimilating more and 
more with the grosser clay which covers them, and 
sinking deeper and deeper to the debasing level of 
the animal creation. Will you forfeit your birthright 
for a few short years of that which, even under its 
most favourable aspect, can scarce be called pleasure? 
Are not her most envied votaries, though exulting 
‘ in joyous health, with boundless wealth, yet sicken¬ 
ing of a vague disease V and will you enter the lists, 
and strive with a vigour and assiduity that in other 
contests might win an immortal crown, for a prize 
that when obtained is utterly valueless, a victory 
more fatal than the most inglorious defeat ? Shall 
your youth be wasted in disappointment, your man¬ 
hood in disgust, your age in remorse ? and all because 
you have not strength of mind to break through the 
customs of your kind, and embark upon your own 
career, in humble hope and honest independence. 
Look at the mighty names which stand inscribed 
upon the roll of Fame—warriors, sages, and states¬ 
men,—the beacons of the present, the examples of 
the past: think ye that to them the pastime of an 
hour could be the engrossing business of life ?—that 
those vigorous minds could be concentrated upon idle 


304 


DIGBY GRAND. 


follies and seductive pleasures ? No. Taking the 
world as it came, they might here and there step 
aside to pick up the flower chance threw in their 
way; they might enjoy—none so much—the passing 
moments of amusement and relaxation; hut the step 
was quickened after each refreshing pause—the mind 
more braced than ever for the glorious object still 
held uninterruptedly in view. Shall you, then, be 
content to make the giddy round of pleasure your 
all-in-all—to sink health, fame, and fortune in her 
Lethsean wave ? Should such be your choice, repine 
not when you find, as I did, that your life has been 
spent in the pursuit of a shadow—that your treasures 
are but dross, your gods but clay. Eather be 
thankful should the bracing effects of adversity, the 
pressure of necessity recall you to that career of toil, 
that laborious destiny which is the normal condition 
of man. Exertion is the salt of our existence. 
Without it the blood thickens, the frame droops, the 
mind stagnates. Happier is the peasant, home- 
returning from his daily task—weary, indeed, in 
limb, but fresh and gladsome in heart—than his lord, 
tossing restless and discontented on his bed of roses— 
a palled voluptuary, who has exhausted pleasure after 
pleasure, till his sated spirit yearns even for the languor 
of fatigue, vainly striving to deaden the aspiring impulse 
within—vainly hoping to escape from his accusing 
self—seeking rest and finding none. I cannot but 
believe that there are moments during which the men 


CUI BONO? 


305 


that we see about us every day—the thrifty bees that 
gather, and the careless drones that spend—must 
reflect and speculate on the ulterior object with which 
this immortal soul of ours is imprisoned for some 
threescore years and ten in its imperfect tenement 
of clay. It is not self-indulgence, for her votaries 
are most of all sick and weary of their engrossing 
task ; it is not self-aggrandizement, for the slaves of 
ambition have never yet reached the topmost round 
of the ladder, and the draught of glory hut irritates 
their fever, gasping still for more. In all times, the 
wisest of mankind have deemed our present condition 
to be one of preparation, of training—severe it may 
he, but necessary, for a loftier and less material state 
of existence; and shall we, of all ages, virtually reject 
this noble prospect, and grovelling here below, in 
sensual indulgences or idle pleasures, forfeit the birth¬ 
right of our race, the privileges of our station, only 
a f little lower than the angels V We shall each and 
all of us see this clearly some day, when darkened 
rooms, and hushed whispers, and a wistful sympathy 
on the old familiar faces, warn our shrinking senses 
that for us there will be no to-morrow. Who would 
put off the preparation for his journey till the eve of 
departure ? Let us make up the accounts and strike 
the balance ere it be too late. 

The farce is over; the long-suffering audience im¬ 
patient to retire; ladies are shawling in the dark 
recesses of the boxes, and attentive admirers picking 

YOL. II. 


X 


306 


DIGBY GRAND. 


their way on dandy boots to look for f the carriage’ 
in the sloppy streets; the coachman lashes his un¬ 
offending horses, the footman is torn from his porter, 
and the performers are summoned to the footlights to 
give an account of themselves, ere the public take 
their departure. 

The companions of my youth, the friends of my 
manhood, are scattered far and wide upon the surface 
of the earth. Is it not so with us all ? 

‘ For some are in a far countree, 

And some all restlessly at home; 

But never more, oh, never we 
Shall meet to revel or to roam.’ 

Mrs. Mantrap thinks Bath will restore her charms. 
St. Heliers votes Buxton the only place for his gout; 
the fashionable beauty looks forward to the visit of 
her doctor as the gayest hour in the twenty-four; 
the brilliant nobleman, the delight of clubs, the charm 
of dinner-parties, the vigorous bon-vivant, the athletic 
sportsman, is now a helpless cripple, wheeled about in 
a garden-chair. I don’t think either of theirs is a 
satisfactory old age. Of my earlier comrades, some 
are still daily attending parade, some have disap¬ 
peared altogether from the Army List. Spooner 
has married a widow with five children—they say she 
bullies him. Levanter is a convict at Norfolk Island. 
Of Fanny Jones’s fate, I shudder to inquire. Colonel, 
now General Grandison, may be seen at any of Her 
Majesty’s drawing-rooms, covered with orders, the beau 


THE COMPANY TO THE FOOTLIGHTS. 307 


ideal of an officer and a gentleman. Maltby has 
sold out, and occupies the position for which nature 
has best fitted him, a kind landlord and a hospitable 
country gentleman, doing good to all around him, 
and hunting the wild country he lives in, with un¬ 
paralleled success. Dr. Driveller has been removed 
from his cure at an extremely advanced old age; but 
his memory did not fail him when he bequeathed to 
me, in accordance with his long-made promise, the 
family picture of Sir Digby-le Grand, the only one 
of my household gods I have as yet recovered. 
Mortmain, active and clearsighted as ever, was with 
me this morning, making arrangements for certain 
nuptials, in which I take a personal interest. He 
has ascertained that the present possessor of Haverley 
will not entail the estate. I dined with Jack 
Lavish the night before last, at his, or rather his 
wife's house, in Tyburnia Proper. He has shaved off 
his mustaches, and is getting fat. Miss Goldthread, 
that was, is a sensible and charming person; but I 
think I can trace in her manner a slight and not un- 
natural distrust which she entertains of her husband's 
old friends. She looks pretty sharp after Jack; 
and I understand that he rides alone in the Park 
only under the express stipulation that he shall 
accompany none but his male acquaintances. Jack 
says he likes being kept tight in hand, it saves him 
so much trouble; and till he had some lady to own 
him, he never knew to which of his fair friends he 

X 2 


308 


DIGBY GRAND. 


belonged. A print of poor Hillingdon bangs in his 
private apartment; and we talked together for hours 
about the sad fate of that beloved and gifted being, 
—his generous romantic spirit, his fearless heart, his 
endearing qualities, and his awful end. 

Some men, like wine, improve with age. Lavish, 
whose faults were those of youth, and most excusable 
in the young,—a carelessness of consequences, a 
merry, thoughtless disposition, and a disregard for 
the affectations of society, which made him a highly 
popular companion, is becoming, under the influence 
of a regular life, and a well-judging intellectual 
woman, a highly useful as well as agreeable member 
of society. He is still as jovial as ever, but beneath 
his merriment runs a vein of strong, sound sense; 
and his frank and still somewhat dandified exterior 
conceals a warm and benevolent heart. Of Cartouch 
and his daughter he had much to tell me. The 
Colonel was at first enchanted with the recovery of 
his child. To the tired, worn soldier, weary of bar¬ 
racks and blase with society, the prospect of a quiet 
domestic home,—such a home as can only exist 
under female influence,—was refreshing to the utmost. 
He pictured to himself a life of calm pleasures and 
contented tranquillity, an interchange of thoughts 
and sentiments with that fascinating woman who had 
proved to be his daughter, that should make him 
amends for all the sufferings entailed upon him 
by her mother’s unbridled passions, and the long, 


THE PLAY PLAYED-OUT. 


309 


dreary years of loneliness that he had since worn 
through, a widower, though a husband. Alas ! that 
he should have been disappointed and deceived. 
Neither Coralie nor himself were adapted, either by 
disposition or education, for the retirement of a 
country life. In vain the Colonel sold out of the 
service, and taking a sweet little place in Hampshire, 
embarked largely in the cultivation of the soil, and 
encouraged his child to take charge of a garden, 
such as many a flower-loving daughter of Eve would 
have esteemed a perfect paradise. It was all charm¬ 
ing for a while—but the training in which the 
danseuse had spent her youth, was of a nature 
which made constant excitement absolutely necessary 
to her existence. At first, the novelty of a home 
and a father,—such a father, too, as any girl might 
be proud of,—was very pleasing; but after a time, 
the country walks, the tete-a-tete dinners, the early 
hours, became monotonous and wearisome; she pined 
for the amusements to which she was accustomed— 
the lively professional society, the daily tribute of 
admiration, the constant change of scene, the flat¬ 
teries of the green-room, and the ovations of the 
stage. Besides, our English ladies have certain 
wholesome rules of quarantine, to which they 
cling with meritorious tenacity, and the name of 
‘ De Bivolte* was quite sufficient to prevent the 
Hampshire matrons from subjecting themselves or 
their daughters to contamination in the society of a 


310 


DIGBY GRAND. 


figurante. All this annoyed Coralie as much as it 
disgusted the Colonel. She was used to be courted 
and caressed wherever she made her appearance, and 
he had all his life been a welcome and admired guest 
in far higher circles than those which now affected to 
draw the cordon of exclusiveness to his prejudice. 
The rector of the parish was courtesy itself to the 
new comers, but his wife gathered her brood under 
her wings whenever she caught sight of Coralie's 
little French bonnet in any of the walks and lanes 
surrounding the parsonage. Lord Overbearing, who 
spent a month every year in that one of his seven 
palaces near which their pretty farm was situated, 
asked the Colonel to shoot, and came himself to 
luncheon, and remained to dinner, good easy man, 
delighted to escape a party of fine folks who were 
staying in his own house; but her ladyship never so 
much as left her card upon the inhabitants of the 
cottage. Altogether, it did not answer, nor had 
they any right to expect it would. The sacred 
relationship of parent and child is not to be tampered 
with, as in their case it had been, with impunity; 
and the previous habits and education of Coralie 
were made the means of punishing her father's 
original neglect of that wife whom, whatever may 
have been her faults, he had no right totally to re¬ 
pudiate. 

The upshot of it all is this,—Coralie votes England 
very triste, and Hampshire particularly disagreeable. 


THE CURTAIN EALLS. 


311 


The Colonel, who has been too long in harness to 
sink contentedly into a quiet country gentleman, 
gets very tired of his red land and his southdowns, 
and out of all patience with the stupidity of the 
1 chaw-bacons/ to use the vernacular term by which 
the inhabitants of that beautiful country are dis¬ 
tinguished ; and there is a scheme in embryo which 
will probably be put in practice, of leaving the farm 
and cottage to take care of themselves, and indulging 
in a year’s tour on the Continent, ‘ mon cousin* 
making one of the family party. I think it not im¬ 
possible that ‘ mon cousin* may eventually aspire to 
a dearer title, though how such an arrangement will 
suit my old friend Cartouch, I leave to be determined 
by those who are conversant with the habits of a 
British Officer, and the education and prejudices of 
an Englishman. 

Reader, the play is- played out, the characters have 
made their respectively awkward bows and curtseys, 
the box-keeper is covering up everything: it is time 
to go home. What you have witnessed is intended 
to be but a representation of that every-day life, the 
reality of which we need only open our eyes to see 
around us whenever we please. It is neither a 
magnificent melodrama, a thrilling tragedy, nor an 
amusing farce, at the best. Yet the slowest comedy 
may suggest materials for reflection and improve¬ 
ment. We have all seen flaming advertisements, in 
letters an inch long, that on such and such a night, 


312 


DIGBr GRAND. 


Mdlle. Entrechat will appear in her celebrated character 
of La Fee Fusillee, and dance the much-admired Pas de 
Fascination. Well, we have pestered Mr. Sams for 
a stall, or added another score to the hill at Andrews's 
or Mitchell's. We have dined early, and, half- 
choked with the unseemly haste of our repast, we 
have donned our white kid gloves, and levelled with 
accurate range the miraculously magnifying opera- 
glass,—in fine, we have been and seen it. Shall we 
confess to a slight feeling of disappointment at that 
widely-renowned measure ? shall we acknowledge 
that the Pas de Fascination on the stage, with all its 
accessories of dress, scenery, lights, and music, was 
not half so gorgeous a spectacle as that visionary 
Pas de Fascination which passed before our creative 
imagination in those capital letters an inch long? 

So is it with that reality of which the stage and the 
novel are but a mimicry and a representation. The 
life upon which youth fancies itself entering, is very 
different from the life which age refuses to acknow¬ 
ledge it is on the eve of quitting. The Real can 
never hope to equal the Ideal. Is it not that the 
Real is but typical of Time,—the Ideal of Eter¬ 
nity? 


THE END. 










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(E 1 . i SGM, 
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