Page images
PDF
EPUB

avenging herself for the excitement ing had planned that I should be in which I had lived for so long. clasped in his arms, and hear his ex

At last my book was ready, and clamations of delight and gratitude, I received, through my friend, what I he still did not seem quite to underconsidered a very large sum, as part stand. Presently he dropped the payment for the work.

notes and hid his face. My family had reason to think mę I shivered. Where was my beautisuddenly demented. Home, home, ful triumph ? I had suffered and home! I cried. I insisted on depart- made him suffer so much-for what? ing the very morning on which I re- I sank down at his feet-I laid ceived my friend's letter, only pro- my cheek against him, and said, mising to give them an explanation" Kenelm, was I very wrong? Canof my strange conduct before long. not you forgive me ?"

Completely roused from my tor- “Minnie! I shall never forgive my. pidity now, my longing for Kenelm self.” He raised me up, and kissed and home was intense. I would

me many times.

“This is the pain travel alone, too; I had planned a of poverty indeed; that for these, or meeting of which I could endure no such as these, you should suffer as witness.

you have done. My darling! how Leaving my luggage at the station, could you do it? How could you I walked homewards across well- endure so long? How could you let known fields. But the nearer I ap- me treat you so sternly? Dearest ! proached, the more my courage failed these were not worth your pain!" me. It was bright early afternoon ; I saw it clearly now : I had burbut there seemed to me something dened him with remorse, overwhelmeerie in the wind that swept the sun- ed him with self-reproach! I, bis steeped fields. If Kenelm should be wife, had irreparably injured him. ill!

And when I prayed for forgiveness, I paused at the garden gate; the he only begged me to forgive him ! parlour blind was down ; I saw no With those notes, for which I had sign of life about the house. I worked and endured, lying at our paused longer yet before I could feet, we made a new marriage-combring myself to open the house door. pact of mutual confidence and for

My heart stood still when I knock- bearance. ed at the door of my husband's study; Ah ! but I did earn a holiday for then it beat again so violently that Kenelm! I was very ill after that I lost the sound of his listless come evening of my “triumph.” When I in.” I waited. A slow heavy step grew better, my husband took me to crossed the room—the door opened a beautiful little nook by the seamy husband stood before me. side ; there we had a sweet long

"Minnie ! my darling ! Come back rest from all the weariness of our to me of her own accord ?" He opened world. his arms wide. I did not spring to I do not think that Kenelm underhim. I had lost all buoyancy of stood his little wife's nature the less spirit now-all expectation of rapture. for having read her book ; and, when Triumph indeed! In what? In the he had grown accustomed to the marsorrow-stricken weighed-down aspect vellous fact of its existence, I even of my husband ?

fancied that I sometimes detected just “Yes, Kenelm, I am come back," a little lurking pride in his eyes and I answered soberly. I stood before about the corners of his mouth, when him, feeling very guilty and ashamed. people, in our presence, spoke of “A “You must hear all now,” I con- Wife's Secret.' At such times I only tinued. "It was for this.". I put cared to hide my confusion. Even a bundle of bank-notes into his hand. now, after the lapse of so many many

“My child, I do not understand.” years, I felt a burning flush upon my He turned them over with a perplex- face the other day, when I suddenly ed air.

came upon a heap of newspapers and Tearfully and hurriedly I told him reviews which Kenelm had accumuall.

lated, and in them read the name of When I paused, and in my dream- my book.

THE GREAT IMPOSTURE.

MR EBONY,– Will you, out of your parent was thrown when the inimiinfinite kindness, indulge a poor be- table “Scion," who is still spared to wildered individual with the space us from Orcus, characterised the of a few columns, whilst, in plain voice of a high 'estate of the realm language and with an earnest spirit, he as the “whisper of a faction. Also narrates the cause of his perplexity? I recollect well the glowing eulogium I am very much in the situation of which he passed upon the public Mrs Beecher Stowe's favourite hero, spirit and intrepidity of the highthe lost nigger-owning no master, minded Larkins, when that distinpertaining to no tribe, but claimed guished patriot and demagogue anby half-a-dozen fellows with whips, nounced his opinion that, for a less each of whom swears that he is en- offence against the liberties of the titled to clap me into the bilboes, people, a fairer bead than ever graced and to sell me at the nearest market. The shoulders of Queen Adelaide had So, like the pattern Sambo of the ere now rolled upon the scaffold. aforesaid Mrs Beecher, I find myself And I have not forgotten the enthuwandering in a dreary political siastic approval which he gave to the swamp, with no pleasanter prospect proposed popular march from Birthan the cane-brakes and mudbanks mingham to London, although diswhere the alligators roll in dalliance; qualified by an unfortunate fit of and around me are a good many un- rheumatism from taking part in that fortunate people in the like predica- glorious expedition. But when the ment with myself.

great victory was won, and the Whigs Pardon this somewhat enigmatical were comfortably installed in office, or metaphorical preface. I shall try the ardour of my progenitor began to express myself more clearly. I visibly to cool. He had borne the am a Liberal born and bred; that is, burden and heat of the day, and was my respected sire was a very strong certainly entitled to expect that, in adherent of the Liberal party about the general distribution of good the time of the passing of the Reform things, he should receive some small Bill. He was a citizen of a town of crumb of comfort—some stray crust some importance in the north of -some little bone with a morsel of England, wherein he drove a reput- meat upon it--so that he might at able trade as a merchant in a small least have a flavour of the rewards way, dealing in such wares as tape, set apart for those who have served bird-seed, hosiery, tobacco-pipes, po- their country. But alas ! the time tatoes, and sugar-candy. He attended had not come when such as he could regularly the meetings of the Political be permitted to partake even of the Union, though I am not aware that refuse of the banquet. As a flock of he ever made a personal attempt at ravens descends upon the palpitating oratory; and he carefully instilled carcass of a sheep-speeding from the into my youthful mind a cordial east, and west, and north, and south, hatred of what were, or were sup- till not one particle of wool is visible posed to be, the principles of the beneath the unclean flapping of their British Constitution. According to multitudinous wings,-80 stooped the him, the Established Church was a Whigs upon their quarry. Not only malignant cancer eating out the the old, but the young ravens also, vitals of the people ; the House of had to be gorged to the very throat, Peers an assemblage of bloated aris- before any stray kite had license to tocrats, who never met without help- dig at sinew or intestine; and what, ing themselves to the savings of the I pray you, was a single sheep among poor ; nay, I can hardly venture to so many? So, while the Elliots, and assert that the Crown itself did not Greys, and Russells, and Phippses come in for some share of the pater- were tearing away like mad-swalnal objurgation. I well remember lowing gobbets so greedily that the ecstasy into which my revered they almost stuck in their throats, and croaking to their countless cou- or cajole me. I flutter heedlessly sins to make haste and improve so into the jaws of humbug, like a splendid an opportunity,, my sire, weaving-bird into the mouth of a in company with a good many more rattlesnake. Had I fallen into the disappointed patriots, stood afar off, hands of one of those trained, adroit, and, I fear, bestowed not a few exe- oleaginous emissaries of the Whigs, crations upon the late subjects of who are the most consummate of their idolatry. But even the worst Jesuits, with smiles bland enough to of men, after they have well eaten, thaw the heart of a turnpike-keeper, become placable and even generous. tongues smooth as glycerine, and Polyphemus, after he had chewed up fingers whose loving pressure cona brace of juicy Ithacans, spoke affa- veys the very magnetism of persuable words to Ulysses, and even ex- sion-he might have done with me pressed a wish to do him service; what he pleased. But the first speand so, when the Whigs could eat no cimens of Whiggery with whom I more, they leaned back plethorically became acquainted were persons of a in their chairs, and signified their different stamp. Our borough was willingness that now there might be represented by two members, the a distribution of the scraps.

elder of whom, Mr Samuel Chouser And so it came to pass that, after (late of the firm of Chouser, Thimblea time, my father, who was a notable rig & Co.), was an independent, who in his way, and the centre and oracle went the whole hog for the ballot of a group of voters, got a share of and household suffrage. He was not a Government contract for bees'-wax (so he said) a favourite with the and molasses, and was enabled materi- Whigs. Lord John Russell treated ally to extend his business. I could him with marked coldness, because name more than one cadaverous and he had set his authority at defilanthorn-jawed individual, presently ance, and was resolved to push Libin the House of Commons, whose eral principles to the utmost. He rise in life may be traced to precisely (Chouser) had no idea of truckling to the same source, and who invariably the dictation of any man. Lord testify their gratitude to the Whig John had no doubt deserved well of oligarchy by backing up their nefa- his country, but he required a shove rious jobs when they are in power, now and then to keep him moving and by seconding their factious plots in the right direction. If his when they are, as now, in opposition. (Chouser's) constituents approved of No such insinuation can be made his conduct, good ; if not, let them against my sire, because he never say so, and he was most ready to was in the House of Commons, but resign. He occupied that seat, not wisely contented himself by strength- for his own benefit, but for the good ening his position and increasing his of the people. The Whigs feared, influence in his native borough. But though they did not love him; and he became an eminent Liberal, with more than once he had been asked a place somewhat in advance of the to take office, but felt it his duty to regular Whig phalanx, which, never- refuse. He was resolved to die, as theless, he was sworn to guard. He he had lived, independent and a rose to municipal honours, achieved Liberal. considerable opulence, and died of So spake Samuel Chouser, Esquire, gout at a venerable age, leaving me not once only, but periodically, with the undoubted heir to his principles little variation, whenever called on and money in the Funds. So that, to address his constituents;

and I when I term myself a Liberal born must own that, for some time, I heard and bred, I am guilty of no exaggera- him very reverently. To the ears of tion.

an Englishman there is always someI have not the vanity to regard thing attractive in the assertion of myself as a person of strong intel- blunt independence. The mere panlect; nay, I make no scruple in ac- tomimic act of buttoning up the knowledging that I am rather weak- breeches-pocket looks like the erectminded than otherwise. Naturallying of a bulwark against the insidious unsuspicious, any one can wheedle approaches of bribery; and in no

character was Mr Chouser so great cannot remember at this distance of as in that of the spurner of office. time; but I recollect perfectly that But to be eminent is, as Macchiavelli it gave a considerable shock to my justly remarks, to invite enmity. A faith in the absolute disinterestedRadical cobbler, whom Chouser had ness of advanced Liberals, and made offended by refusing to renew a bill me, for the first time, entertain a after an election, lifted up his voice suspicion that between them and the in the market-place, proclaiming that Whigs proper there were more intiChouser the immaculate was Chouser mate relations than the world was the thrice sold ; that the self-deny- permitted to perceive. ing refusant of office for himself was Our second member was Lord Visthe grasping, monopoliser of places count Breadberry, a young heredifor his family; that the intrepid tary Whig, of whom it may justly be patriot was no better than a paste- said that, had his manners been as board and buckram sham. And by polished as his boots, or his intellect way of proving these assertions, he as well cultivated as his whiskers, a published a list of the votes of our more accomplished gentleman never Chouser ever since his entry into drew the salary of an Under SecreParliament, by which it certainly did tary. But I am constrained to say appear that in no one instance had that the boots and whiskers were he given a vote which could seriously much better cared for than the quaembarrass the Whigs; and also, what lities of the inner man. A greater was more awkward, a list of the good fool than Breadberry never buttered things which had fallen to the share of a roll. He had neither sense nor the house of Chouser. That list was capacity, nor the power of uttering headed by the name of the Reverend three consecutive intelligible senAminadab, eldest brother of the self- tences. Yet we, the Liberal electors, denying, Samuel, whose piety, and returned him to Parliament in prebiblical lore had secured hím a bene- ference to a man of high genius and fice of £900 per annum. Then fol- accomplishment, a ripe scholar, a lowed Launcelot Gobbo Chouser, also shrewd thinker, and a powerful oraa brother of Samuel, quartered on the tor, because the latter would not Customs at the rate of £600. Then burn a single grain of incense upon followed the sons

of Samuel-Sydney the altar which we had set up. Oh, Russell Chouser (Woods and Forests); happy country! where wisdom is Charles Grey Chouser (Home Office); despised, and idiocy advanced, solely Henry Petty Chouser (Victualling upon the credit of a name ! Department); and John Cam Hob- You will observe, sir, that I have house Chouser (Board of Control); been describing the situation of mat-besides divers others, who did not ters at a period comparatively rebear the name of Chouser, but who, mote, ere the silken cord which bound nevertheless, were supposed to derive all Liberals together was snapped in their origin from the same family twain. At that time the common root. Altogether, the hole which understood object was to keep out these gentlemen made in the taxes the Tories; and whenever a combinawas something rather appalling ; and tion was necessary to that effect, poor the facts lost none of their pungency dear Feargus O'Connor received his when stated by the irascible coh- card as regularly as Sir Charles Wood. bler.

In the vestibule of the Reform Club How replied Samuel Chouser, M.P.? it was pleasant to hear, on the eve of Like a Briton, fearless and bold. He some grand party struggle, the halfasked if it were any disgrace for a stifled hurroos of those Irish memman to serve his country ? And as bers who had successfully carried no one could conscientiously venture through negotiations with the Seto say "ay" to such a question, he cretary of the Treasury, as they dug then went onward to prove that the their digits into his shrinking sides, best citizen must be he who devoted and playfully denominated him“, the greatest number of his relatives divyle!" Then walked the stiff old to the public service! What was official Whig, type of frozen excluthe result of the discussion I really siveness, narrow-chested, high-shoulVOL. LXXXIV.-NO, DXIIT.

н

dered, vinegar-visaged, arm-in-arm, yesterday. Gatherings of this kind for the nonce, with John Tacketts, are of an august and almost solemn the great manufacturer of nails, and nature. They recall to us the array even listening to his violations of of the Roman Senate when the Gauls grammar with such a sickly smile as were filing through the gates of the radiates on the face of Pantaloon eternal city, the stern assemblage of when the Clown applies a red-hot the iron-sheathed Barons at Runnypoker to his rear. Then there was mede, or the midnight muster of the the recently-created Whig agricul- associates of William Tell at the tural lord, as recognisable from his summons of the horn of Underwaldpeculiar costume, as Pan from his en. No wonder that it made an hairy hips. Behold him in St James' impression upon a raw recruit like Street, attired even as he is when in myself. What a thrill of awe shot terchanging samples of wheat with through me as the veteran placeman the hawbucks in his distant county, who condescended to act as my guide, in a low-crowned, broad-brimmed pointed out to me the stately forms white hat, with green ribbon ; wide- of the different leaders, chiefs, and skirted "coatee, with pockets each men of renown. Like Cressid inlarge enough to contain a pig ; drab structed by Pandarus, I stood to see terminations, and a blue bird's-eye the warriors pass over the stage. handkerchief. Great potentate he, “There ! Took there,” he cried ; ready to go, if not to the death, at “that's bim-that's the man! 0 all events to the expenditure of a what a fellow he is! What an intelgood many thousands of pounds, for lect! How gigantic !" the supremacy of the Whig houses; “Who? which? where ?" stamowner of two sug nomination bor- mered I, in a fever of nervous agitaoughs, which, had there been con- tion, staring about for the apparisistency in statesmen or principle in tion of some stalwart son of Kish. reformers, ought long before to have “He's gone—you've missed himundergone extinguishment under it was Lord John Russell. But hush Schedule A; liberal in all matters -ha-here is a great man indeed!” not affecting his own peculiar in- Out sauntered a supercilious-lookterests, but violently opposed to a ing elderly gentleman, chewing the repeal of the corn-laws, the hour for stalk of a carnation. enlightenment of his party on that

“That's Lord Palmerston, the proparticular point not having yet ar- tector of the liberties of Europe.' rived. Then prowled the pseudo- Involuntarily I raised my hat. The political economist, usually of Cale- protector of the liberties of Europe donian extraction, who, ever and anon fooked surprised - smiled, nodded, refreshing his bulged nostrils with took another nibble at the stalk of copious pinches of maccabaw, hawked the carnation, and walked on. out apothegms from Adam Smith, “Here is another remarkable man Ricardo, and the Report of the look at him well. You won't often Bullion Committee, to any weary see such another." wight whom he might attach by the He spoke true-Lord Althorp went button, with the gravity of Achito- by. phel delivering a lecture to some re- “Here now-do, pray, look sharp. probate companion of Absalom. All There's a man who will be much thone, and many more types, forms, spoken of yet. That's Clanricarde !" and combinations of liberality, were “Is it indeed ?” to be soon clustering and commin- “And that's Hobhouse-fine felgling for a common object, though low, Hobhouse ! And there's Charley there was ng little apparent natural Wood !--he's such a funny chap, cohoronco among them, as we may you'd die with laughing at his jokes. suppose to havo oxisted among the And that's Joe Hume--good old Joe ! builders of Babel, subsequent to the And there's Feargus O'Connor. And confusion of tongues.

-Lord help us, here's Dan! Let's I sketch from memory, but the take off our hats to Dan ; he likes scene is as deeply imprinted on my it, and its down in our whip’s ordermind as if it had taken place only book for a week. And that's Mr

« PreviousContinue »