« ПредишнаНапред »
what Fothergill thinks, and I am sacrificed either to the caprice or pride of Alcibiades, it is time to show him how I value the one or the other.
With this, assuming a determined air, I suffered La Fleur to usher me his master, in a humour which perhaps augured little good to the explanations I sought,—as was proved by my reception of the first words he uttered when he saw me.
“ I have sent for you," said he, as a man I could depend upon, in the absence of Lord Albany, and I am sure you will serve me faithfully in a point in which I find my honour concerned.”
He said this with a sort of lofty sternness, which he could assume, and totally free from that flippant tone which had characterized our last meeting. In fact, he seemed much impressed with the wrong which he supposed had been done him. His language, how: ever, did not satisfy me.
So, then, thought I, he sends for me, as a patron to his client, in the very spirit of patrician arrogance, and only because his brother patrician is absent. This will never do. I however answered, not pleased, “ I await your commands; who is it that has offended
honour?" “ The tyrant of this place,” he replied : “ first, in refusing me favour (a paltry one), which I condescended to ask, when I might have enjoyed what I wanted at less inconvenience, without asking. Next, in abusing his power to punish me for acting in despite of his refusal. You are ignorant of the ambiguous position a man is in, when thrown with another to whom he is superior in point of station in the world, inferior in the little circle of official powers. But though you may not be a judge of this, from want of opportunity to observe it among your own associates, I know
you to have a great deal of common sense, and it is to that, as an old acquaintance, I wish to appeal.”
“ Old acquaintance !” thought I. 6 What, then, has become of friendship !" I however bowed my thanks for his condescension in allowing me common sense, although, in other respects, so incapable of appreciating a case between persons of such high degree.
Thus we set out ill; for he began by undervaluing, and therefore by indisposing to his service, the counsellor he had chosen. Hence, I was somewhat stiff in my reply.
“ The situation you have described,” said I, " and of which you say, truly, I can be no judge, being so inferior myself, and so wanting experience of the ways of great men, may be one of difficulty, but surely not what you have called it, ambiguous. I suppose your course is clear, and you have nothing to do but to obey. Indeed, I have always understood, that to learn obedience when young, if only to know how to command when old, is one of the objects of education.”
- Very sententious, truly !” replied Hastings, " and worthy the sage of Queen's, to say nothing of the disciple of old Crackenthorpe. Why, I should have thout it was that arch pedagogue and ornament of Coomberland himself who was speaking to me.”
6. He would have been a better adviser,” said I; “ but you asked my opinion, and I have given it, though only in generalibus; for as yet I know nothing of the case on which you do me the honour to consult me.”
He measured me with his eye, as if surprised at my formality; then, after some hesitation, observed, “ You are right, quite right, and perhaps it would have been best not to have troubled you. Yet I wished to know what
you advocates for obedience to those dressed in
the little brief authority, for which, no doubt, you are already a candidate, could say in support of the ve riest petty tyranny that ever was perpetrated.”
He then informed me, that Lord Albany's sister, Lady Charlotte Saville, having come to the races, he had engaged to dance with her at the ball in the evening, spite of a college order, that no under-graduate should attend it; which little impediment he might have jumpt if he had pleased, undergoing, he supposed, a slight punishment, but that, out of respect, he thought it best to ask permission; notwithstanding which, to his astonishment, it was refused, with the addition of a reason still more surprising, that if granted to him it must be granted to others—" a want of tact,” said he, " which I did not expect from one who affect to understand so well what is due to rank and station. But this it is to expect gentlemanly practice from plebeian theorists."
“ Your notion then is,” said I, drily, “ that to make no distinction, where all have equal right, is a plebeian theory."
“ A man can have little knowledge of the world,” replied he, curling his lip, “ who does not see that such distinctions are always made in society, and none but a narrow pedant would use his authority thus. I therefore scouted his reason, and went with Albany to the ball, spite of his refusal.”
“ Lord Albany, then, broke the order also ?"
“ No! luckily he had taken his degree, · Honoris causa,' three days before, and therefore came not within it."
66 And the event ?"
“ The event is, that, I have a heavy imposition, which I shall not perform; am confined to college till I have finished it, and am rusticated for the two next terms."
I suppose I looked alarmed, for he cried, “ What, does this frighten you? If so, how will you be able to form an opinion of what I mean to do ?”
6. Which is
“ To laugh at the decree, and instantly leave the place, notwithstanding the sentence of confinement, so that I shall never return.'
“ Good heavens !” I exclaimed, “ without consulting your father! What will he-what will your admirable sister say?"
“As to my father,” he replied, “if I consulted him, which I shall not do, he would let me do as I please ; and for my sister, she is a little fool, but not such a fool as to oppose me.”
I was horror-struck, for, with respect to his sister, what he had uttered seemed little less than blasphemy. In truth, I was shocked with the marked, and to me, sudden change that had apparently taken place in his whole character ;-so little can we judge of its reality, while latent from want of incentive to call it into action.
His affair with Ramshorn, indeed, I had always remembered, as a proof of a determined spirit, in whatever he undertook; but I neither knew nor believed that he would allow it to govern him in every thing, good or bad, according to the turn he might take. Here he seemed the strangest compound of a fierce rebel and proud aristocrat that could be imagined. I knew not, in my then simplicity, that such a thing could be. I afterwards found in the world, especially in the political world, that nothing
was more common.
“Well,” said he, observing my hesitation, “I see this troubles you.
When you have recovered yourself, I trust you will honour me with your appro-, bation.”
Convinced that he was decidedly wrong, I did no such thing; and both hurt and offended at the tone he had taken in regard to me, and in communicating a resolution, rather than requesting advice, I told him so in terms.
“ What,” said he, " is the blood of the Cliffords still on the qui vive? What will you do in the world, where perhaps it will not be much regarded, if it so easily boil over ?"
“ Act with the same sincerity,” said I, “ that I now shew you, when I would restrain you, if I could, from putting yourself more and more in the wrong,"
“ If I have been wrong,” said he contemptuously, “it has been in consulting one who, from his situation, is not a proper judge.”
I bowed my thanks again, in a manner to shew that I thought him rude ; upon which, in a tone somewhat altered, he proceeded, “ you think me then originally wrong." 166 I do." “ And
“ Not to think yourself above legitimate control, who show that you cannot control yourself.”
Very good and sententious all this, Mr. Clifford.” “ On the contrary," I continued, “redeem yourself by submission.”
“ Submission ! By heavens ! this is too much.* You know that you are Brutus who speak this.' I looked not for it when I sent for you.”
“Or probably you would not have sent. Eh! Is that so, Hastings? Was I to be consulted merely to confirm you in an error of conduct ? But I ought to tell you more; for I have thought bitterly and cruelly of the change which there too obviously is between us. I never was Brutus, or am certainly so no longer.
your advice is”