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Agnes had paid. Edith's elder sister, Clara, and her husband, the laird of Invershaw, in the Highlands of Scotland, had come to Barwell Lodge to attend the ceremony. It was rather an awkward meeting between Clara and Mr. Alfred Percival ; for though he had never cared in the least for her, and she had not regretted him much, he knew that he had not behaved well in regard to her, and she felt that she had been made, as the common saying is, a catspaw of, to cover his wicked designs on her mother's pretty waiting-maid. They had never come in contact with each other since the time that Alfred had finished a long visit to Mr. Montague, and Lizzy Lee had disappeared from Barwell Lodge.
Clara determined to meet Alfred very coldly, and not to make the slightest allusion to their former acquaintance; and he, on his part, was equally resolved to be coldly well bred, and to treat her as an entire stranger, or a very slight acquaintance of bygone days. Thus they met like a pair of icicles, and the icicles never melted during the whole of Clara's visit to her paternal home.
Mrs. Mackenzie was, however, much pleased with Agnes, and had a great deal to tell her about their mutual friend, John Lawson, of whom she spoke in the highest terms. She spoke, too, of Lord Eskdale, and admitted that she had felt great curiosity to see Madeleine, the young beauty who had been able to win his fastidious lordship's heart.
“I see,” she added, “ that she is winning hearts still. Your cousin, Captain Howard, seems quite smitten. Will she marry him, if I may venture to ask ?"
“ I do not think he has as yet made any proposal to her, but if he should do so, I sincerely hope that she may accept him, for there cannot be a more excellent and amiable man than he is. I was extremely sorry that she did not marry Lord Eskdale, of whom I thought so highly; but if she should become Edgar's wife, there will be nothing to regret, for he is one in ten thousand.”
Madeleine and little Cecil were two of the bridesmaids, and Captain Howard was one of the groomsmen. The déjeûner went off extremely well; the wedding-day was less heavy than wedding-days are in general, and the select party invited to dinner at Barwell Lodge was very pleasant and lively, Mrs. Percy being, apparently, the only guest who was silent and dull. And why was that good lady silent and dull ? Merely because she could get no one to listen to her trashy gossip, and her illnatured insinuations.
A wedding is sometimes an excitable affair to persons who are thinking of matrimony themselves, and thus it proved in regard to Edgar Howard; being present at Mr. de Vere's and Edith's marriage, made him the more impatient to arrange his own. But he could not find an opportunity of saying a word to Madeleine during the afternoou or evening of the wedding-day.
The next morning, however, he was more fortunate in obtaining a private conversation with his cousin's pretty sister-in-law. But the result was not fortunate, for Madeleine gave him no more hope than she had given Lord Eskdale ; she did not actually refuse him, but she asked a little time to consider of his offer, which, she said, had taken her by surprise. There was something in her manner which chilled and repelled him; she did not seem at all either agitated, or discomposed, or embarrassed. There was not that slight Alush upon her cheek which might have
evinced her joy that the man she secretly cared for had at last expressed his sentiments towards her. She was cool and collected, but seemed influenced by some arrière pensée; what could that be? Edgar puzzled himself to think ; he could find no solution to the question that presented itself to his mind, except that Madeleine, in her very earliest youth, had cared for some one, of whom even now, perhaps, she did not quite despair.
How differently she had heard his confession of love from Coralie ! The scene on the sea-shore in the beautiful West India island rushed vividly back on his memory, and clasping his hands, and looking up towards the heavens, he inwardly exclaimed:
“ Ah! my darling Coralie! why were we separated here on earth ? Why did an adverse fate forbid a union that would have been so happy ?"
Chilled as Captain Howard was, he waited in great anxiety for Madeleine's answer.
It came at last—it came too soon—to crush his hopes, and send him forth again a disappointed lonely being
Madeleine politely, but positively, declined his offer, and gave him to understand that she cared for another.
Edgar felt this refusal most deeply, and it would have been but natural if he had spoken of it to his cousin Alfred. But there was something in Alfred's manner that did not invite confidence, and Edgar was more at his ease with Agnes. To her, therefore, he carried his complaint, not of her sister, but of his own misfortune in being too late to win her affections. Agnes was much distressed, and not only sympathised with him in his disappointment, but expressed her own extreme regret that Madeleine had been so blind to his merits, and to her own future happiness, as to decline the offer he had been so kind as to make to her.
“ Probably you know who is the fortunate man who has won your charming sister's heart ?” he said, “and if it be not taking too great a liberty, or asking you to divulge a secret, perhaps, my kind friend, you will entrust his name to me.”
“I am as ignorant of his name as you are, dear Edgar. Madeleine does not give her confidence to me; she never speaks of her affairs or her feelings to me. Our having been brought up so differently, and my never having even seen her in her childhood, and also perhaps the difference in our religion-she being a Roman Catholic, and I a Protestant-may occasion this reticence on her part towards me. I very much regret this, for I should like to have been as intimate with her as sisters generally are with each other. She never hinted in my presence that she cared for any
Our cousin Octavie, indeed, seemed to think that Madeleine had a fancy for that Count de Mauriac we knew at Spa. You must remember him. And possibly her reluctance to leave Paris might have been caused by her hope of meeting him there, as well as her wish to see mamma. I am truly grieved," added Agnes, "at her folly. She would be much happier as your wife than the wife of the Count de Mauriac.”
"Not if she prefers him," replied Edgar. "Ah, well! I see that I am doomed to be an old bachelor. It will be all the better for Cecil and little Sophy, for what I may have to leave shall be theirs.”
Captain Howard, to Alfred's no small pleasure, shortened his visit at Woodbury, after Madeleine had refused hini ; and no more than two days had passed since that mortifying occurrence had taken place, when he was on his way to rejoin his father abroad.
MR. CHAFFANBRASS AT HOME:
BY FRANCIS JACOX.
MR. ANTHONY TROLLOPE's readers will retain a more or less lively remembrance of the Old Bailey counsel pictured by him under the farcical if not too felicitous name of Chaffanbrass. To apply the thumbscrew, the boot, and the rack to the victim before him in the witness-box, is said to have been the work of Mr. Chaffanbrass's life ; and the labour he delighted in physicked pain—he being as little averse to this toil as the cat is to that of catching mice. His business, we are told, was to perplex a witness and bamboozle a jury; and men congregated to hear him turn a deponent inside out, and chuckled with inward pleasure at the success of his cruelty. He bullied when it was quite unnecessary that he should bully,—for the mere love of the thing, and to keep up his credit as an Old Bailey bully and browbeater beyond compare.
So much for the chaff and brass of Mr. Chaffanbrass in public life. But now follow him to his home, and scan for a moment his aspect and bearings as a family man. Those who only know him in public life can hardly believe, says Mr. Trollope, that at home he is one of the most easy, goodtempered, 'amiable old gentlemen that ever were pooh-poohed by grownup daughters, and occasionally told to keep quiet in a corner. Such, however, is his private character. Not that he is a fool in his own house ; Mr. Chaffanbrass can never be a fool; but he is so essentially good natured, so devoid of any feeling of domestic tyranny, so placid in his domesticities, that he chooses to be ruled by his own children. But in his own way he is fond of hospitality; he delights in a cozy glass of old port with an old friend in whose company he may be allowed to sit in his old coat and old slippers. He delights also in his books, in his daughters' music, and in three or four live pet dogs, and birds, and squirrels, whom morning and night he feeds with his own hands. He is charitable, too, and subscribes largely to hospitals founded for the relief of the suffering poor."* The more prominent position assigned to this gentleman in a later fictions is evidence of the store Mr. Trollope sets by him as a really stock character.
It is well known, as the author of “ Adam Bede” has incidentally remarked, that great scholars who have shown the most pitiless acerbity in their criticism of other men's scholarship, have yet been of a relenting and indulgent temper in private life; and a story is told of a learned man meekly rocking the twins in the cradle with his left hand, while with his right he inflicted the most lacerating sarcasms on an opponent who had betrayed a brutal ignorance of Hebrew. In such a case, indeed, we may apply Boileau's verses so far as to
* The Three Clerks, ch. xl.
| Adam Bede, ch. xiv.
+ Orley Farm.
Deposer hardiment qu'au fond cet homme horrible,
Fut un esprit doux, simple, and all the rest of it, who
Fit, sans être malin, ses plus grandes malices.* It reminds us of Macaulay's portrait of the ideal Italian statesman, after the type of Machiavelli, as a man who, black with the vices which we consider most loathsome, traitor, hypocrite, coward, assassin, is yet by no means destitute even of those virtues which we generally take to indicate superior elevation of character. “ Wanton cruelty," at any rate, not in his nature. On the contrary, where no political object was at stake, his disposition was soft and humane. The susceptibility of his nerves and the activity of his imagination inclined him to sympathise with the feelings of others, and to delight in the charities and courtesies of social life."'t
There is one feature of the stern, ruthless Puritan of Stuart times, contends Mr. Langton Sanford, about which there is no dispute - the virtues of the home circle: here even the Puritan's bitterest enemies allow to him not merely the conscientious discharge of his duties, but a relaxation from his harsher and less pleasing moods, into the warmest and deepest domestic affections. “If a morose fanatic, a bad subject, and a designing hypocrite in the world without, within his own doors he was (they acknowledged) true and warm-hearted as son, husband, and father." I
And, by the way, be it observed that a corresponding characteristic in Strafford is, by the same author, elsewhere turned against that ill-starred statesman. The more keenly alive Wentworth was to the affections of the private circle in his own instance, the less excuse is there, it is argued, S for his hard calculating violation of them in the case of others.
Considering the inveterate bigotry, the persecuting rancour, and the systematic cruelty which gave a bad eminence to Ferdinand II., it is a satisfaction to the historian of the House of Austria to record that, in his private character, this emperor was a "good and affectionate father, a faithful and tender husband, an affable and indulgent master”—"compassionate and forgiving where his religious prejudices were not concerned.”||
Lamartine will have it that Danton, cruel en masse, was capable of pity in detail; and lays stress on the facility with which he yielded to solicitations of friendship and the dictates of his own heart," so as to seem only too happy to rescue victims from himself. Even Madame Roland was for a while deceived by the seeming “frankness, joviality, and goodfellowship’ which veiled this man's brutal passions and unbridled audacity. And what does the same party-historian tell us of Robespierre himself? That the features of that Sea-green Incorruptible“ distended and relapsed into absolute gaiety when in-doors, at table, or in the evening, when seated with the family circle round the wood fire in the humble room of the cabinet-maker." “ It was the nation in miniature, with its simple
† Macaulay's Essay on Machiavelli. Studies, &c., of the Great Rebellion, by J. L. Sanford, p. 83. Sanford, p. 314.
* Boileau, epître x.
|| Coxe, House of Austria, ch. Ivi. Girondins, XXIV. 22.
manners, its griefs, and sometimes its endearments."* Touching microcosmic presentment of the tigre-singe chez lui, of the tiger-monkey at home.
Here, again, is a companion picture of a companion saint. Of that bon citoyen, and congenial associate of Robespierre's, David the painter, it has been remarked, that the union of so much private amiability with such a cruel political fanaticism, is almost beyond comprehension. says John Trumbull, “ could be more kind and amiable in his family”t than this man—who agreed with our man John aforesaid that a good deal of blood had been shed; but at the same time declared what a blessed thing it would have been for the republic had half a million more heads passed under the guillotine.
It is of Talleyrand that Lord Brougham has remarked, that if it be true, which is, however, more than questionable, that a life of public business hardens the heart; and that if a youth of dissipation and intrigue, of cruel experiences and embittering strifes, has, in almost every instance, been found to “eradicate the softer domestic feelings, and to plant every selfish weed in the cold soil” of a perverted heart; surely it must be no small praise of the Prince-Bishop's “ kindly and generous nature,” that he should form a marked exception from these rules—and that “ in domestic life he was of a peculiarly placid temper, and full of warm and steady affections."
Thomson's portrait of Phocion the Good-occurring midway in that gallery of classics upon which Pope, too, spent not a few corrective and finishing touches-is that of one
-in public life severe; But when, beneath his low illustrious roof, Sweet
peace and happy wisdom smoothed his brow,
Not friendship softer was, or love more kind. Cato the Censor, again, that uncomfortable grim old disciplinarian, with all his rigour, and stiffness, and stern asperity, is pictured in Plutarch as a most amiable husband and father; and indeed “used to say, that they who beat their wives and children, laid their sacrilegious hands on the most sacred things in the world, and that he preferred the character of a good husband to that of a great senator.” And Plutarch adds,|| that Cato admired nothing more in Socrates, than his living in an easy and placid manner with a shrew of a wife, and young blockheads of children.
So, again, of the Censor's great-grandson and namesake, the stoic of Utica, Plutarch tells us, that although on the bench he was so rigorously exact, exacting, and austere, he was in home life just as affable and humane.
It is sometimes a relief to turn from contemplating even a Cicero at the bar, vituperating and venting classical Billingsgate to the top of his bent, and to settle one's gaze on him as the tenderest of fathers, kindest of masters, and most fascinating of friends.
And so, to compare great things with small, one is glad to find that
* Lamartine, 1. xxx. ch. xii.
§. The Seasons: Winter. || Lives, Cato the Censor.
| Lives, Cato the Younger