Imatges de pÓgina


He had reverted once more to the rank of Lord Mayor's fool to jump into it as a mere vulgar Cit; and shortly afterwards, in the olden time; and I had been taught walking on the Steyne at Brighton with by attentive study of City traditions that his family, he-only a few days since lord the guests at Guildhall on the Ninth of mayor, and the entertainer of princes-- November ought to "wallow in :ustard." was horrified at being accosted by a brother There were no sprats.

Should not the tradesman who reminded him that he owed first sprats of the season be served at him sundry shillings for a barrel of coal-tar the Lord Mayor's table in Guildhall? The used for painting a pigstye.

loving-cup went round; and the usual When I had gotten over my fright about expressive pantomime went on among the the dais and the big-wigs upon it, and had guests who partook of that famous walked demurely in the skirts of the pro

drinkhael," but it branched off somehow cession round the tables of the banqueting before it reached me; and I still lack ball—the lovely and accomplished daughter some one to love,” in a parcel-gilt goblet. of the civic dignitary to whom I gave my I looked up to see whether Gog and Magog trembling arm little knew how much more were still in their old places. Yes; the in need of her smelling-bottle I was than affable giants were, as usual, on guard : she could be—when I had got comfortably but they were perfectly sober. So were wedged in my seat at table, between an the eight hundred and seventy-two guests affable gentleman in a blue coat thickly beneath them. Everybody sat demurely splashed with gold—I fear that he had at table; nobody was under it. People something to do with the r-y-l household who should have been cracking tother and the domestic chaplain of an alder- bottle were trifling with water-ice and manic or shrieval grandee; when the view wafer-cakes ; and shortly after the terminaof my neighbours opposite was happily ob- tion of the Premier's speech, I distinctly structed by a colossal epergne piled high heard a common councilman observe to a with grapes, and surmounted by a hot- secondary, that he should like to slip out honse pine, on which, when the company and get a quiet cigar. A common councilrose at the bidding of the toast-master, I man wishing to smoke! He wore a full felt inclined to browse, as a cameleopard beard and moustache also, which increased nibbles at the topmost branches of a tall my astonishment. There were no marrowtree; when the dishes of passing waiters bones. There were no peacocks, served behind me had been accurately dug be- with their tails displayed, nor did I see tween my eighth and ninth dorsal vertebræ; any ruffs and reeves. Vast sirloins of beef when I had heard the Guards' band dis- were indeed carved with much state and coursing sweet music in the gallery; and ceremony, in lofty pulpits on either side of when in fine the banquet, and the clatter- the porch of entrance; but the beef was ing of plates, and the chinking of glasses, cold. The entire dinner, in fact, save at and the popping of champagne corks had the upper table, where an elegant repast à come to an end, and we had leisure for a la Russe was served, was cold. It might little ice and fruit, and quiet chat before have been a collation given to inaugurate the speech-making began, I could not help the opening of a new branch of the Dan, thinking that the times—so far as civic Beersheba, and Domdaniel Railway. It festivities were concerned-had altered very much more resembled an elegant and wonderfully since the days of Theodore business-like reunion of that nature, than Hook. Where were the guttling and guz- such a revolting display of coarse gluttony zling and gormandising one used to hear and wine-bibbing as is pictured by Hogarth about as chronic at City banquets? We in his Sheriff's Feast plate in Industry and had, it is true, turtle, both thick and clear; Idleness. but I heard no squabbles about callipash and I was quite satisfied, however, after callipee, no clamorous demands for green having frugally, but succulently, dined on fat; and I observed that an alderman at the a plate of turtle, a spoonful of lobsternext table to mine positively ordered jul salad, a preserved greengage, some ice lienne soup and eschewed turtle altogether. pudding, and several filberts. I had never My neighbour in the coat splashed with been in Guildhall before on a festive occagold dined on the wing of a pheasant and sion. The sight to me was a really glorious a tumbler of hock-and-seltzer; and to my one; and I delighted in it because it had amazement I perceived that a decanter of been my fortune to witness some of the port by the side of the domestic chaplain most memorable of the pageantries which remained wholly antasted throughout the have occurred during my time. Yes, I had evening. There was no custard, and no I witnessed very nearly all of them; and, if not as a guest, at least as a spectator I had Mrs. Ridgway of Hapsbury, I did not venwatched the pomps and vanities of most ture to write to her. Thus the links were of the great ones of the earth—except the all severed; and the little I knew of those Mayor. Having seen him, I may humbly who had been and were still so dear to me, express my opinion that, although his sur- was by rumour, some faint echo of which roundings have somewhat changed, he him- penetrated even to my solitude. self is not in the least altered, but is as The fact is, my poor friend's course was powerful and influential a chief magistrate a downward one from the time Assunta as ever a Whittington or a Gresham has married. He became utterly reckless, and been among his predecessors. The Men led a life of dissipation during the few in Brass cumber his pageant no more; months he remained with Mr. Strahan, and his barge is laid up in ordinary. after the morning when I broke the fatal He has ceased to go swan-hopping, and news to him, which divided us further it is a long time since he has shut the every day. His associates were very disgates of Temple Bar in the face of royalty. tasteful to me; but I would not have shrunk He might even, perhaps, be able to dis- from them, if my joining the parties to pense with Gog and Magog, and the City which he constantly invited me would have marshal, and the placid old retainer with done him any good; but it would not; and the fur porringer on his head; but he as I had to work very hard for my

bread would still be the Head of the most ancient, at that time, the interruption of labour the most charitable, the most hospitable would have been serious. Then followed city in the world. I thought, as I wended that gradual slackening of intimacy which my way homewards after the dinner, is inevitable when the tenour of one man's smoking that cigar which the common life is a silent protest against his friend's. councilman had longed for, that there Between him and his uncle the feud remight be a good many things in the City mained unhealed, and he never saw the of London requiring, if not abolition, at squire again alive. Mr. Walbrooke, who least thorough reform. Perhaps the reve- might be said to be still in the prime of nues of the Battledore and Shuttlecock life, and whose obstinacy-not to speak Makers' Company are slightly mismanaged. of his affection would have suffered Perhaps St. Wapshot's Hospital is not quite keenly in disinheriting Harry, and in the state it should be. Certainly the con- owning himself worsted in the long-susgregationless City churches should be dis- tained contest with his favourite nephew, established. Assuredly St. Paul's-church- delayed altering his will from week to yard needs re-arrangement. Indubitably week, in the hope that speedy ruin might Temple Bar should go by the board. “Re- bring the wretched boy to seek forgiveness. volution may come,” I muttered somewhat The strong man, in his pride, had no sleepily alighting from my cab, "revolution thought of being dispossessed; but one may upset most things for aught I care- stronger than he came suddenly into his except the Mayor. He is a better Chief house by night, and in the morning Squire Citizen than any prefect, syndic, burgo- Walbrooke of the Grange lay dead. By a master, or gonfaloniere that I wot of.” will, dated five years before, all his landed Whereupon I went to bed, and dreamt of estates passed to Harry, charged with a that untasted loving-cup, and that every large jointure to Mrs. Walbrooke, and a body had partaken of it - except the certain sum to Lena. And so it came to Mayor.

pass that, in her bitter irony, Fortune cast this ill-deserved gift at Harry's feet-just

nine months too late to save him from lifeGEOFFREY LUTTRELL'S NARRATIVE. long ruin and misery. Ah, had Assunta BY THE AUTHOR OF “IN THAT STATE OF LIFE," &c but waited! How cruel it seemed !

The young squire went down and took IN ELEVEN CHAPTERS. CHAPTER IX.

possession of the Grange, and his connexion The course of events during the next with Strahan's of course ceased. But a four years may be briefly told. As regards number of so-called “friends," whom he my life, and those with which it had had made in his short London career, hitherto been so closely bound, circum- followed him ere long, and every fast man stances had separated us completely. Harry from Oxford, and every needy sportsman Walbrooke and I scarcely ever met now; in the county, who wanted a good mount and yet he was master of the Grange. The and cared for a good bottle of claret, found squire was dead; Mrs. Walbrooke and Lena his way to the Grange. In such comwere abroad; and as I never heard from Ipany I should liave been very much out of


place; these men and I had no one idea in deavours to learn all I possibly could of common, and to witness their orgies, and to Mrs. Ridgway, the information I gained was see foolish, generous-hearted Harry allow- but meagre. Mr. Ridgway and his wife led ing his substance to be devoured by these a very secluded life. They had no children. vultures would have only made me angry. Mrs. Ridgway was not supposed to be a I refused all his pressing invitations. If happy woman; but very little seemed to be you ever are alone, and want me, I will known about her. Mr. Ridgway discouraged come to you,” I said, “but not when your intimacy with any neighbours. At certain army of swashbucklers is with you— stated intervals he received them all with don't ask me.” And he did not after a sumptuons courtesy (I believe it wonld be while. I heard of him, alas ! from time to a misuse of the word to call it hospitality); time, and what I heard was as bad as it for, since his marriage, most of those who could well be. The life at the Grange was had kept aloof from him, had come forward, a scandal to the whole county; it was said and for the sake of the young wife were that there was scarcely a night that the disposed to forget any sinister rumours reyoung squire went to bed sober, and even garding the husband. But it was as though once in the hunting-field he had been in a he said, “Now that I have conquered these condition which necessitated his being people, they shall see that I care nothing taken home. His uncle's old friends for their society. They receive me; they (particularly those who had marriageable come to my house; it is enough.” He dedaughters) bore with this state of things clined all invitations. A few savants, as long as it was possible; but when every dilettanti, and stray foreigners of various effort to lure him into the decent, if dull, kinds, stayed at Hapsbury from time to society of the neighbourhood proved abor- time; and sometimes the magnates of those tive, they gave him up; it was felt to be parts were bidden to meet them. This, as impossible for steady old fathers of families far as I could gather, was the only interto continue going to the Grange.

course between Mr. and Mrs. Ridgway and Harry and Assunta had never met, nor their neighbours. were they likely to do so, though living only It chanced in the February of 1831 that twenty-five miles apart; inasmuch as Mrs. I had occasion to make a journey to PeterRidgway, of Hapsbury, it was said, never borough on professional business. During went outside the park gates, and within my stay there, I learnt that the day coach them the young squire had, of course, never from that city to York passed within a few set foot. His animosity against Mr. Ridg- miles of Hapsbury, which was not more way was well known, and broke out on the than forty miles from Peterborough. My mere mention of that gentleman's name business concluded, I was in no special into the bitterest scoffs ; but of the lady he hurry to return home, and a temptation, was never known to speak. Rumours of which will sound strange to many, urged the life she led I suppose must have reached me, now I was so near, to go on to Hapshim ; he must have heard of her through bury, or at least into its immediate vicinity, Lena, who corresponded with her friend and learn what I could of my poor Assunta, from time to time. But these letters would even if I was unable to see her, for I had have told him little of the truth, as he must been given to understand that Mrs. Ridgbave known; and it is certain that, from way was generally denied to morning the moment he heard of her marriage, he visitors. Acting upon this impulse, which ceased to try and hold any sort of com- I found irresistible, I took my place in munication with the object of his unhappy the coach one morning, and

was at passion. Perhaps I was the only person in the small town of L. early in the afterthe world who guessed that he had not noon. From there, with a knapsack on my forgotten her; and that he vainly imagined back, I walked over to the village of Hapsthe life of violent exercise and moral excess bary, some six miles distant. There had would act as a styptic to the wound which been a long drought, and the road was still bled when it was touched. Not that as deep in limestone dust as though it had he ever spoke to me of her, even in the been summer, the result of which was that early days of wrath and bitterness ; indeed, my old painting-blouse and cap, my hair, he expressly begged me never to allude to eyelashes, every part of my outward man, the past, or to anything that should remind was thickly powdered over, and I resembled him of his loss.

nothing so much as an indigent baker or It only remains for me to add, before I bricklayer out of work. In fact, one take up the thread of my narrative again, charitably-minded old gentleman on a cob that, in spite of constant and anxious en- did actually throw me sixpence, for which I touched my cap, thinking it would only bought Mary Hanne's squaller for ten bob, distress him, and check the stream of his and wery good interest" it'd ha' paid me benevolence towards the next wayfarer, if for my money. This 'ere good lady al'ays I explained his error. So much to account gives five bob to a squaller, they tells me. for the fact that when I entered the tap. I s'pose she's never a child of 'er own, eh ?” room of the little public at Hapsbury, and "Noa.” Here the fellow scratched his found three men over their pipes and beer, head, and added, after a pause, “she's be two of whom were unmistakably tramps, a loanesome life, folks say; but the squoire the third a boosy labourer, they viewed be foine and rich, any ways. Eh, but me without suspicion, and continued to money be a foine thing.” discourse freely, as before one of their own And be 'im as charitable as 'er ?" caste. The tramps were bound for Notting- asked the second tramp; and turning to ham, Hapsbury lying on the high road, I his fellow-labourer, he murmured_somefound, between that city and L., which thing in a low voice, of which I only I had just left. The discussion, as I caught the words,“ distressed hoperatives." entered, was as to the relative excellence of But the spark of cupidity, if kindled, was various roads. At first I understood this quickly extinguished. to refer to their paving, which in some

“Noa, noa.

You'll not be gettin' the parts of the country is buat bad walk- blind side o' th’squoire. It be th' missis as ing. It was, however, as I soon learnt, the be for the givin'. He be all for argyfying; moral rather than the physical aspect of the and when he lost his tri'le 'gain th' village, king's highway, which the worthy couple 'bout th' path, he were that riled, he never had under consideration.

give us nothin' no moure. They tells me “Nottingham to Leicester's a betterer as th' parson's tried to stan' up again him road nor this. I left ten crosses and three for t' argyfy, but it warn't no good; he double crosses behind me the last time as I wouldn't give a ha'porth to th' school done that 'ere road,” said one speaker, look. along o' that 'ere path.”. ing round with an air of satisfaction, not This was a dark saying to me, and as unmixed with pride.

the conversation changed soon after, I took “Besides dots ?" asked the other. advantage of the landlord's entry to ask

“Besides dots. They're the softest for a bedroom, and to order some dinner. 'earted lot you ever see.

It's true that this But as I saw from his face that my appearere way, there's one 'ouse as is always ance did not inspire him with much configood for five crosses.”

dence (which was what I wanted, at that “What do that mean ?” asked the moment, more even than the bed or dinner), boosy labourer, taking the pipe from his I followed him into the passage, and tak. month, his leaden eye lighted up with a ing some money from my pocket, I showed gleam of curiosity.

it him, and said: "Why, every cross is a tizzy, to be sure, “Though I wear a shabby coat, I will and a tizzy's a sixpence, if you don't pay my way~don't be afraid.” know," said the first speaker, with an air And upon mine host protesting that noof profound contempt for bucolic igno- thing was further from his thoughts, we

drifted into an amicable discourse, which I “ And what's dots ?”

led gradually to the subject of Squire Dots is brownies, we call 'em Ridgway and "his lady." I learnt that sometimes, that's pence. We don't make the state of feeling between the squire and much account hov a road as 'as got nothin' his village was anything but pleasant, but dots along the palin's. Now this 'ere owing to a right of way across his park, lady's one o' the right sort, poor thing. I which he had vainly endeavoured to stop s'pose she's kep' in a kind o’prison, for ap. This path led directly under the scores and scores o' times as I come this window of Mrs. Ridgway's boudoir, and way, she's al’ays at that same winder, and was a poisoned thorn in the side of the exshe's always good for 'alf-a-crown. Indeed, clusive “man of taste.” Mine host was of for any chap as 'as a squaller" opinion that to the pale, lonely lady, sitting

"What's a squaller ?" said the rustic, for ever at her window, and debarred, by the resolved to satisfy his legitimate thirst for existing feud, from even visiting the poor, information, regardless of the traveller's the sight of the labourer, plodding home

wards after his day's work, of the rosy milk“Why, bless your 'eart, a squaller's a maid, laden with the spoil of the heavybrat as squalls, to be sure. I might ha'l uddered kine, of even the foot-sore tramp,




trailing his weary steps through the cool it, and the soft line of hills in the distance, I grass, with a sense of thankfulness after the made a few random strokes, hoping that hot flinty road, were pleasant breaks in the she I sought might be attracted presently monotony of her day, which she would have to the window. I had not stood thus five been sorry to lose. But however this might minutes when I heard a step upon the be, Mr. Ridgway, with that smooth im- gravel behind me, and, turning, I saw a placability (which I knew so well), had powdered footman approaching." It is all never forgiven the obstinate resistance up now," I thought; “ I am going to be which the village had made to the infringe- warned that, though there is a right of ment of their right. From that day. Mr. way, there is no right of standing to sketch Ridgway declined to do anything further for in front of the house." And I shut my the poor, for the school, or for the church; book. Imagine my surprise when the serhe forbade his wife's going into the village; vant thus addressed me: he cut off his establishment, as far as prac- “Mr. Ridgway has sent me to ask, sir, ticable, from all communication with his if your name is not Lattrell ? If so, he humbler neigbbours, as he discouraged it hopes you will walk in.” with the richer ones, and all this he did I never felt more confused. Of course deliberately, without heat, or visible ex. I acceded; but when I reflected upon my pression of anger. The parish had tried appearance, and remembered how I had conclusions with him, he said to the good limped and slouched, and that the lynxvicar militant, who returned to the charge eyed master here had detected me from his repeatedly; he, Mr. Ridgway, was a man window under this masquerade, I confess I of peace, and they had desired war; they was ashamed of meeting him. My only had made their election-it was well; he course was boldness, and a statement of had nothing more to say to them. And such portion of the truth as I could tell. from this ultimatum nothing would move My conductor led me through the great him.

ball, with its marble pavement, and busts What I had heard, both in the tap-room of the Roman emperors along the walls, and from the landlord, gave me plenty to into a small morning-room, hang entirely think of that night. I made up my mind with rare engravings in narrow black that I would not leave the neighbourhood frames. A table, with a Sèvres chocolate till I had seen and spoken to Assunta; but service on it, stood near the fire, and before how was this to be managed ? Mine host it, sipping his breakfast, in a black quilted had given me to understand that, unless satin dressing-gown, stood the master of the Mr. Ridgway was in the humour to receive house. The window, through which he had company, the doors were shut against every seen me, was in front of him, as he stood visitor to his wife. I resolved to recon- with his back to the fireplace, and to his noitre the ground before making any at- right was a door leading into the library. tempt, and early in the forenoon of the fol. He looked as young as ever, and, with that lowing day I started to walk across the silver-electro-plated smile of his, held out park by the public path in question. On two fingers, saying: approaching the stately Italian palace, with “Ben venuto, Signor Pittore. By a its sky-line of marble balustrade, broken curious coincidence you were by busts and urns, I pulled my cap further thoughts five minutes before I saw you over my face, and, disguising my gait with out of the window. What brings you to a stoop and a limp, I crept slowly past our fens? Not a study of the picturesque, the angle of the house, in which was the I imagine ?” window which had been described to me. “I am on a short walking tour, having On the other side of the path was a broad left my heavy luggage at L. I was desheet of water, upon which this window con- bating in my mind whether I could vensequently looked, and just beyond it came ture to present myself here, in this mendithe great portico and flight of steps. The cant's guise, Mr. Ridgway, when—" gardens, terraces, and fountains were all on “Never mind, my dear sir. I hate exthe other side of the house. I looked up at planations, don't you? They never explain the window, there was no one to be seen; I anything. I am very glad to see you, no lingered, I looked back, and then I turned matter what may have brought you here and walked past it again. At last I bethought you are the very man I want. You have me of my sketch-book, and, taking it out, I arrived very opportunely to give me a turned my back to the house, and facing piece of advice; but, first, will you have the water, with the chestnut-wood behind some breakfast? There are lobster cnt

in my

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