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gentleman commoner at Queen's but himself, there was a dead stop put at first to his progress.
In this dilemma, his good or bad fortune threw him in the way of an Honourable Mr. Merriton, a man of original and reckless humour, notorious for what was called practically quizzing all the fools he could find in Oxford—which were not a few. Our hero's foible was the very thing for him. It was not easily concealed; but if it had been, Mr. Merriton's penetration would have discovered it directly, if only from the two christian names which he bore, without any connection with the noble families to which they belonged.
This was exactly the game Mr. Merriton was so fond of pursuing; and for this purpose he did not scruple to make advances to Mr. Courtenay Waldegrave Shanks, which were eagerly met by that gentleman. In truth, the Honourable Mr. Merriton found him as docile, and disposed to all the follies by which he designed to expose him, as his heart could wish.
6. You desire to make a name,” said Mr. Merriton on the fourth day of his acquaintance with Mr. Shanks. - This is as it should be a fair and honest ambition. Your object is fashion and good company-also a most laudable desire. But you are not known, have never been at a public school, and have no high connections. Unfortunate! But, then, you have what is better, a great deal of money ; nay, you say without limit. With such advantages over us fine gentlemen, as we call ourselves, I should be
glad to see what you may not do, whether as to conduct or company—that is to say, provided you do not mind the expence.”
Mr. Shanks assured his noble preceptor that expence was the last thing he should mind, and gave him carteblanches as to directions how to conduct himself, which he promised implicitly to follow.
This was precisely what the Honourable Mr. Merriton wished, and prepared himself accordingly.
“ You see,” said he, to his unsuspecting pupil, “ acquaintances, especially of a certain sort, are not like methey are not to be got for asking.”.
“ I would do any thing,” said Shanks.
“ Would you give a cool hundred for a hunter that is well worth it?”
“ Yes, and a great deal more, if well worth it, and it led, as I suppose you mean, to a becoming acquaintance."
“ And you would pay down the money on the nail ?"
66 Yes! A draft father."
66 Good !” said Merriton. " Then I will introduce you to a friend of mine, the Honourable Mr. Corbyn, son of Lord Corbyn. He is tired of the chase, and means to part with his hunter.”
“ How very obliging you are,” cried Mr. Courtenay Waldegrave, “ to condescend to all this; and for a person you scarcely know.”
Pray don't mention it; but come with me to Mr. Corbyn's rooms, and the bargain shall be struck, and you shall see the horse out directly.”
" I don't want to see the horse," said the generous, confiding Shanks; “ I am quite satisfied with your recommendation."
“ You really ought to be noble yourself,” observed Mr. Merriton, though with his tongue in his cheek, “ for your conduct is noble;" and they adjourned to the Honourable Mr. Corbyn's rooms.
That gentleman was not a little surprised, perhaps disconcerted, at Merriton's forcing an acquaintance upon him from Queen's, though a gentleman commoner, and began to look blue at both his visitors ; but when he learned their errand, he changed to something like civility; allowed that it was most handsome conduct, most gentlemanly, certainly, to take the horse upon trust, even without seeing him; but he assured Mr. Shanks he would not repent it; pocketed the draft, and bowed him out of the room.
Mr. Courtenay Waldegrave, in ecstasy, informed his father of what he had done, observing that if the horse was not worth his keep, still it was a cheap purchase, considering that the friendship of one honourable was cemented, and of another acquired by it.
The blockhead, his father, approved highly of this conduct; and half the purchase went to pay a debt from the Honourable Mr. Corbyn to the Honourable Mr. Merriton; with only a little drawback to the former, when he debated how he was to receive the greeting of this most gentlemanly purchaser of horses, should he meet him in the streets.
This was so good a beginning by Mr. Merriton with his pupil, that he did not like to have done with
him, especially as this was only a piece of profit, and he wished for a scene of humour for his next operation. It soon offered, and did honour to Mr. Merriton's genius.
Notwithstanding the expectations kindled by his honourable patron, and an unheard-of expense in, among other luxuries of the kind, a rose-water bidet, and a basin of Eau de Cologne for his barber to dip his fingers in when he shaved him, poor Shanks did not advance into good company as he had hoped. The truth is, Merriton could not carry his own point of hoaxing the parvenu, from the unwillingness of his friends to join in it; not from any consideration for him, but lest it should necessarily lead to an intercourse which they could not, in decency, shake off. Merriton's love of sport, however, at last succeeded, salvo honore, of his dignified friends.
Having settled his plan with a few leaders, he engaged his protégé to give a great dinner. " We don't get on as we ought,” said he to him one day, “ and I think it is because we are not bold enough. The progress by attempts at mere cap acquaintance is slow and doubtful. What think you of giving a grand dinner to a dozen tufts at once ? Few will resist turtle and burgundy."
" I should have no objection,” said the aspirant, 66 but I don't know them.”
Leave that to me," answered Merriton; “I will prepare a list of the very best company, while you go to the Star and order the very best dinner that Adams can furnish ; all the luxuries in or out of season;
fruits and wines, such as may vie with Blenheim itself. But mind, you must be prepared for a large bill. Fifty, at least.”
66 I should not mind that,” returned our parvenu, “ if you are sure it will secure the company you pro
“ I have already settled it with them,” replied Merriton.
And so he had—and in a way which will scarcely be credited, except by those who know how far the love of hoaxing, and particularly of hoaxing an upstart who looks beyond his place, will carry young men of quality. In fact, those to whom Merriton opened his design said they had no objection to make Shanks give a dinner to cost fifty pounds, and to eat part of it too, if it could be so contrived as not to give him a claim upon their acquaintance afterwards—which they did not feel to be possible after they had sat at his own table with him.
To this difficulty the genius of Merriton supplied a remedy, and he promised that Shanks should not sit down with them, nor even see them, provided they would fairly attend.
Having obtained this promise from fourteen or fifteen of them, he thus set to work with his victim.
“ You see, my good Shanks,” said he, “ the only thing you want to gratify your praiseworthy ambition, and become one of us, is to get a name
-to be talked of as one, not only indifferent to money, but superior to all forms and ceremonies, and perfectly independent of the society you wish to enter. It is your having