| ||The Banished Man. Volume 2 of 2|
The famous Gratian, in his little book wherein he lays down maxims for a man's advancing himself at Court, advises his reader to associate himself with the fortunate, and to shun the unfortunate; which, notwithstanding the baseness of the precept to an honest mind, may have something useful in it to those who push their interest in the world.
THE family at Eddisburgh were, when Edward Ellesmere and D'Alonville arrived there, so occupied with the expectations of seeing Mr. Ellesmere, Lady Sophia, and their son, who were to be with them the next day, together with Lady Sophia's inseparable friend, Miss Milsington, that hardly any body seemed to perceive the return of the two friends, unless it was Sir Maynard, who had sent for Edward, and who now required his attendance in the library, where he was shut up above an hour with his father. D'Alonville was entertained while he remained with the ladies by being told of the consequence of their elder brother; the elegance and his fashion of Lady Sophia; and the uncommon accomplishments of
Miss Milsington. D'Alonville listened as well and as long as he could; and endeavoured to prevent their perceiving that his mind was occupied by objects very different from those that had in their eyes so much importance.
He retired as soon as possible, under pretence of writing letters; and excused himself from supper, where, however, his friend was compelled to attend, and to hear and answer numberless questions from his mother and sisters, as to what he had done with himself; and who he had seen at
Fernyhurst. "I cannot imagine," said Miss Mary, "what you could do with your French friend—he seems tired to death here; and what must he be at Captain Caverly's? You are always saying, you know, brother Edward, that foreigners prefer the society of ladies; but I see no signs of that disposition in this friend of your's. Perhaps, though, he may meet with ladies at the Captain's who suit him better."
"Fye, Mary!" cried lady Ellesmere. "Surely, child, you forget yourself."
"Mary is perfectly right;" answered Edward. "We did meet with ladies; not indeed at my uncle's, but in his neighbourhood, whom we both thought, not more agreeable indeed than those we left at home, but, however, very agreeable."
"Aye, pray who? I did not think that part of the country had produced any thing extraordinary. I suppose the Aberdore family are hardly in the country at this time of the year," said lady Ellesmere. "There is a family of the name of Denzil," said Ellesmere, "settled in the neighbourhood, distant relations, it seems, of Lord Aberdore's; a lady and several sons and daughters." "Oh!" cried Miss Mary, "I recollect hearing something about them. Sister Elizabeth, those Misses are the girls that Mr. Sedgemoor and Mr.
Wilkinson talked so much about, the end of last summer. They saw them at some assembly; and bored us to death with telling us I know not what about them. I asked Mr. Wenman afterwards, whether there was any thing so extraordinary about them, and he said, "no; that they were tolerable, but by no means what Mr. Sedgemoor (who is always wild after any new people he happens to meet with) described them."
"Denzil! Denzil!" said Sir Maynard; "the name is a respectable one."
"Yes, papa;" interrupted Miss Mary, with quickness, "but I assure you these Misses are nobody of any consequence; and they are related very, very distantly, quite an hundred and twentieth cousinship to the late Lady Aberdore; and so as they were extremely distressed in their circumstances, my Lord lent them one of his farm houses just to save their paying rent; but I heard that they hardly ever went to Darleston Park in the little time the family are down; and when they do, that it is quite in the style of dependants."
"You know more of them, I see, than I do;" said Ellesmere, "I rather wonder, Mary, how you come to be so well informed."
"Because these two men," answered she, "that silly booby Squire Sedgemoor, and Wilkinson his echo, and his led Captain, quite surfeited me with the fulsome praises they gave these miraculous Misses; and I was determined, whenever I saw Wenman, whose estates are just by, so that he knows all the people of the country, that I would make him tell me about them." Ellesmere convinced that his sisters would give still less credit to his French, than to his English acquaintance, let the conversation drop, and entered into the
sort of discourse which they usually held when only their own family were assembled.
It was near seven the next evening before Mr. Ellesmere, Lady Sophia, and her friend arrived; for though they slept on the road, the ladies had no notion of getting to Eddisburgh before dinner, D'Alonville now saw for the first time the prodigy of talents and taste, of whom he had heard so much. In her person there was not much attraction:—she was very tall, bony and masculine; and had features so coarse and large, that rouge, however judiciously applied, rather added to the strength than to the beauty of that expression of countenance on which she piqued herself. Her voice, naturally loud and hollow, she softened into something between a murmur and a whisper, by speaking through her half-shut teeth. The childing gaiety of her dress, which was always in the extremity of fashion, with some little fanciful variation or addition of her own, would have been less remarkable in a girl under twenty, than when it was assumed by a woman whose age she herself allowed to be a little turned of thirty. There were indeed some ill-natured old folks who affected to recollect her first appearance in the world, and who scrupled not to affirm that she might have added twelve or fourteen years more to the account, without over-stepping the modesty of truth. The little, slight, made-up insignificant figure of Lady Sophia, was an admirable contrast to the stupendous elegance of her friend, who engrossed much of the conversation, and talked of fashions, and news: what was doing among people of rank in towns; and what the Duke said; and how Lady Georgina was dressed when she was presented: how Lord M—won his wager; and how much the connoisseurs approved of the solo which Sir G. F—composed himself.
All which, however heterogeneous, was so rapidly detailed, that nobody who could be entertained with such anecdotes, could possibly think the dinner tedious; though both Edward Ellesmere and D'Alonville were convinced that it lasted above three hours. When Miss Milsington had exhausted the first collection of news and anecdote, the conversation was taken up by Mr. Ellesmere, who was solemn and sententious; and putting on a look of profound sagacity, spoke of alarms and apprehensions; of disaffected spirits, and turbulent partizans—the French had emissaries—the presbyterians were insidiously at work, and should be repressed in time—a sentiment in which Sir Maynard heartily concurred; and began to relate to his son with a degree of vehemence, which no other topic could excite, all the new reasons he had to detest his neighbour of that persuasion; whose recent offence was, having purchased another estate close to the Park paling of Eddisburgh Hall. Sir Maynard denounced them all; and hoped to hear that means would soon be taken for their total extirpation. En attendant however, the news which his eldest son took the earliest opportunity of communicating, was the most gratifying he could now hear; for it was a confirmation that his long depending negotiation with ministry was at length settled. He was to be brought into the House of Commons; to have a pension of six hundred a year, and a cornetcy of horse for his brother Edward; on condition only of the most perfect acquiescence in politics, whatever turn they may take; and he declared with great solemnity, that his interest, and his conscience, went hand in hand. Sir Maynard, who was happy beyond his hopes at this favourable turn in his son's affairs, and who foresaw from the talents he believed him to possess, the greatest
probability of his rising to some very exalted station, was only concerned to know how he could acquit himself to the noble family to whom he was allied, the father, uncles, and brothers of Lady of Sophia; but he understood with extreme satisfaction that the whole house of G—were make their terms, and would very soon join the party towards whom he had made the first advances, as a fort of avant courier. Sir Maynard, in whose bosom ambition only slumbered, was now elevated with the most sanguine hopes; and nothing could be more flattering to those hopes, than the preliminary article—A cornetcy of horse for Edward—which had been slightly hinted at in Mr. Ellesmere's letters; and which was the subject of the conference held with him the evening before. Sir Maynard had then found his second son extremely anxious for the appointment; and he had now the pleasure of being assured, that little more remained to secure it to him than the king's signature, which would probably be procured in a few days. "But there is one thing, my dear Sir," said the sagacious elder brother, " which you will allow me to touch upon. These are times when persons in our rank of life, and situated and connected as we are, should be particularly cautious; forming no friendships in any degree equivocal; making no alliances which may however remotely, call into question the correctness of our own principles. My brother is young, unguarded, and of course not aware, it may be, of all this. You will therefore understand my reasons for saying, that in my opinion, and according to the view I have taken of the matter, he is wrong in connecting himself so much as it appears he does, with French emigrants. They may be the people they call themselves: men of fashion in their own
country; and of good principles;—but they may not. People, as I observed before, cannot be too much upon their guard. Jacobin emissaries are about; and are so artful, that it is hardly possible to detect them. I hope Edward knows his acquaintance—yet I understand he picked him up on the road. I gave him indeed a hint or two, when I saw him with him in town, how proper it was to be well secure of this Monsieur D'Alonville, which I understand is a French name not very much known; but Edward either did not, or would not understand me."
Sir Maynard, by whom the wisdom of Solomon, and the politics of Machiavel, would have been despised, when the wisdom or the political sagacity of his eldest son were in contemplation, agreed with him entirely. "He said that the same thing had occurred to himself. That Edward was too fond a great deal of foreigners, and of new acquaintance; and though certainly this young Frenchman appeared very inoffensive, yet there was no knowing; and it was a nation celebrated for deceit."
Sir Maynard therefore agreed to give Edward an hint the first opportunity, that his hospitality to the chevalier D'Alonville, had extended far enough; and on the other hand, the profound Mr. Ellesmere engaged to find out, by means of Miss Milsington, who he really was. "For Miss Milsington," said he, "is so much acquainted with all foreigners of fashion in and about London, that when she comes to talk to him a little of people of a certain rank in his own country, it will be impossible for him to escape detection, if he is not what he calls himself."
In pursuance of this plan, D'Alonville was beset the next day by Miss Milsington, who soon discovered, or pretended to discover, that he was
a man of real fashion, and of the most respectable connections. He was indeed eminently accomplished; and notwithstanding all the ridiculous affectation which disgusted as many as dared think for themselves, Miss Milsington was really qualified to judge of those accomplishments. Insensibly, from being engaged to find out who D'Alonville was, she discovered that he was very amiable; and became so fond of him that she could not conceal her partiality. Personal beauty might possibly have its effect; and the unassuming manners of D'Alonville, who, though he was master of almost every science, was contented to listen to the dictatorial theories of the universal Miss Milsington, flattered her vanity, and gratified her ambition of being considered by her wondering friends as omniscient. This experiment was far from giving pleasure to the sapient Mr. Ellesmere. The man whom he had before suspected as an imposter, he now disliked because he was applauded; and though Mr. Ellesmere's attention was directed to very different acquirements, he had a mind so narrow, that he hated to see any man excel, even in what he had never himself attempted.
D'Alonville, though wearied to death, was civil enough to attend whenever he was summoned to the harpsichord, where he could accompany at sight the most difficult lessons; and Miss Milsington, who was really mistress of music, contrived to keep him so constantly engaged, that he had very little time to observe the cold and supercilious manners of Mr. Ellesmere towards him: but his friend Edward remarked it, and remarked it with impatience; and though many reasons concurred which made him desire to hasten his journey to the continent, and he proposed with D'Alonville to quit Eddisburgh in a
few days, his generous spirit made him wish to have his arrogant elder brother understand, that he did not take his friend away one day sooner, for his illiberal dislike to him. An opportunity of telling him so, failed not to offer itself. The two brothers were left alone after dinner, Sir Maynard being called out upon business; when the elder began such an harangue about forming troublesome connections, and the imprudence of youthful friendships, that Edward did not affect to doubt his meaning; and the subject was canvassed with so much asperity, that they parted in mutual displeasure. Edward resolutely adhering to his friend, of whom he spoke in the warmest terms; and his sage brother assuring him, with a magisterial air, and an affectation of cold and tranquil policy, "That as he got on in life, those boyish ebullitions would subside. What is this friendship," said he, "about which you declaim, my good brother Edward? Have men of a certain grasp of intellect, a certain turn for business; men, I mean, who aim at making a figure in the superior walks of like—have they any private friendships? No. We see that all these attachments, nay, even what are called the ties of blood, are immediately dissolved on any political exigency; or if it happens otherwise, if by some unusual circumstance, a man so embarrasses himself, as not to be able to shake off these inconvenient adherents, don't you see the eagle entangled, and often compelled to descend from his daring flight, by the serpents he has wound around him?" "I know nothing of your eagles, and serpents, Sir," replied the younger brother; "but I know that a man who is incapable of feeling any real friendship for any human being, may be fit for a statesman, or to make such fine speeches as you made
just now, if he can get to be heard in the House of Commons; but that I should never desire to sit there, or any where else with him; for I shall always believe such a man capable of being a rascal, and only wanting temptation and opportunity." "That sort of boyish heat," cried the other, rising and stalking along the room, "will never do you any good, Mr. Edward Ellesmere—"as a man of business." "I hope I shall never be what you call a man of business, Sir," answered the other; "for I think a highwayman as respectable a character. "You can never even expect to rise in the army, I assure you, Ned," added the elder contemptuously, "with notions fit only—upon my word I know not for what they are fit—Friendship! stuff! as a soldier, Sir, (since men of business you do not honour with your approbation) as a soldier you will learn to rejoice at the death of your brother officers. Poor such a one, cry they, after a battle; poor Harry such a one; and honest Will such a one: well, they are gone, but we shall have a move in the regiment. Did you ever hear of an instance of personal regard superseding self-interest? Why should it?"
"Good evening to you, Mr. Ellesmere," said Edward, as he quitted the room, on finding his patience likely to fail, "We shall never agree. Your humble servant." He then went up to his mother's dressing room, where he found D'Alonville chained to the side of Miss Milsington, who was playing and singing a tender Italian air, to which she was teaching D'Alonville the second. After one rehearsal, they both executed their parts so well, that the lady, flattered by the proficiency of her scholar, desired to go over it again, and they began it with great success; but unfortunately, the only son of Lady Sophia, a pale, spoiled, sickly boy of
eight years old, whom his mother had for sometime kept quiet, by letting him rummage her netting box as he sat on the sopha, now became tired of his employment, and running up the harpsichord, he dashed his hands among the keys, and squalled out "Miss Milsington, then—Milsington, I say—have done with that nasty tune—I won't have it played any more; I don't like it; I will have you play an English dance, or something pretty." All remonstrance was in vain; Master Ellesmere had never been contradicted in his life; and Lady Sophia, in her still, mawkish way, said, "Fie, Seymour; my dear, you should not do so! but I dare say Jemima will oblige you. Jemima, love! will you let this air alone, till to-morrow, and do as my poor Puggy desires?" Jemima, with a meek resignation that might recommend her to the most honourable servitude, though internally vexed at the interruption, began a country dance; and Mr. Ellesmere just then entering, Lady Sophia related, probably as an instance of her son's wit, his insisting to have a lively English tune. "The dear boy is in the right," said the father, "he knows how to appreciate things; I augur well of his genius." The boy ought to have been severely checked, and sent to bed, and Edward Ellesmere could with difficulty restrain himself from saying so. But D'Alonville was very glad to be released; and his friend retiring in disgust to his own book-room, he soon after, not withstanding the expressive glances of Miss Milsington, who looked most kindly on him, took an opportunity of following him.