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“ And am I right again, in thinking that in this dearest friend you may not have met with all that reciprocity of friendship which you expected ?”
“ I certainly find this place,” answered I, with perhaps some equivocation, “ different from Yorkshire.”
“ And Christ Church, I suppose, very different from Sedbergh ?"
Perhaps so; but I know nothing about Christ Church.”
Seeing that I said this with humour-" Come,” added he, “not only as a tutor and a kinsman, but as one who has taken a liking to you, and would guide you in a strange land if he could, let me task your feelings a little; and if I seem to probe them deeply, attribute it to what it is interest about your mother's son, and one who has enjoyed good report from the greatest of Yorkshire authorities :—for, I dare say, old Crackenthorpe would not yield to any doctor of us all, in his supposed knowledge of the world, as well as of Homer.”
At this he took my arm, proposing a turn in Maudlin walks,“ his custom always in the afternoon," and spoke so good humouredly, that I forgot his inuendos, and (half disposed to it before) he won me over to open all my mortification to him. “It seemed," I said, “ the bitterest disappointment I had ever yet experienced."
“ No doubt of it,” observed Fothergill; “ but you will be lucky, my young friend, if you meet not severer rubs than these, both now, in college, and still more hereafter in the world.”
“ Is this my prospect ?” asked I. 66 And am I to forego the greatest and almost only delight I ever had-friendship ?”
How much of this language was owing to the recollection of Bertha, how much to her brother, I will not pretend to say, but Mr. Fothergill, seeing my real anxiety, replied with kindness, yet with much decision of tone, “ I honour you for your sincerity, and would rather regulate than destroy your sensibility, which, without such regulation, may do you a great deal more harm than good. In particular, I pity the disappointment you seem to be laying in store for
yourself, in what you expect from this early friendship of yours with a man so much above
66 Above me!” cried I. Why at Sedbergh we were inseparable; and he always held, that rank and fortune made no difference in friendship."
“ 'Twere a consummation devoutly to be wished," replied Fothergill, and walked on, as if he had no more to say.
After a turn or two, however, he stopped, and said, 66 Let us examine this matter a little. Here, you, with your stuff gown, and paltry exhibition of fifty pounds a year, at a plebeian college too, think you are to be on a level with a young heir, clothed with purple and fine linen, the companion of gold tufts, and who spends his five hundred in the temple of fashion ! My good cousin,” he added, seeing i coloured, “ though I allow much for the blood of the Cliffords, this must be whipt out of you, or you will be miserable, both here and in the world.”
66 Yet I have heard Hastings himself say,” replied I, not over pleased, “ that friendship, like Cæsar's arms, will throw down all distinctions,
• Who e'er is brave and virtuous is a Roman.'"
“ And you believed him?"
66 I did.”
“ Well, perhaps he believed so himself in the solitudes of Sedbergh, where there was no distinction to throw down ; here we order things differently."
.6 But is not nature, nature," asked I, “ and every where the same ?”
“ Undoubtedly; and it is because the change you complain of is mere nature, only finding itself in another situation, that your friend thus slights you."
I would not think as you do for all the world," said I, with decision.
Many have said the same," answered he drily, on this very spot too, and yet have come round to my opinion.”
“ But I know not that he has slighted me, after all,” said I, gathering courage, rather indignant at my tutor's suspicion.
“ Bravo!" replied he; “ keep up your gallant spirit. Go back to Christ Church ; assert your equality with Foljambe Park, and see what will come of it.”
It is astonishing how these words, “ equality with Foljambe Park,” unnerved me.
The inequality between me and that dear place, and the still dearer person who formed its chief or only value, had been too much the object of my secret lamentation not to make the speech sink deep into my feelings, and I gave a long-drawn sigh, which surprized my good tutor, fresh as he thought me.
“Come,” said he, “this heart-burning is rather too much. I allow a good deal for a sudden disappointment to a warm young mind; but as you are to live in the world, I would teach you the world, and the first lesson I would give is, the impolicy, not to call it de
gradation, to the inferior, that attends unequal friendships.”
Impolicy !" cried I; “ degradation to love Hastings, or to have been won by his love !"
“ Mistake me not,” said my mentor ; “ it cannot degrade you to love Hastings, but it may to court his love, particularly if it is on the wane, or cannot bear the test of being transplanted from a wholesome natural soil to a hot-bed like this. You say yourself, that Eton, you feared, caused some alteration, and, be assured, Oxford will not mend the matter. Whatever may be the other advantages of Alma Mater, this one is great and certain, that she is an epitome of that world to which she is the first real entrance. You there first see life as it will be, and characters as they are, and here you will be really initiated in the knowledge of that demarcation which separates society into its different ranks."
“ I hate all demarcations," exclaimed I, almost angrily, “ that can separate kindred minds. At school we always thought alike. He loved nobody so well, indeed nobody else, and said we should go through the world together.”
Fothergill gave his accustomed smile, though he allowed that perhaps Hastings might have thought himself sincere when he said this.
“ Perhaps !” cried I, “ thought himself! O, how little do you know him!”
66 We shall see," said my mentor. He then paused, as if I had made him doubt ; but resuming—“ I love your confiding disposition,” said he, “ and may it not be disappointed. Yet the coldness shewn already, shews also whereabouts Hastings considers you. He has already caught the esprit de corps of his proud
college, which animated its very porter when he so saucily told you they had very few Queen's men 'as visited there.'—But even without the aids of Christ Church to imbue him with all the vanities of youth, his position in the world alone, even his very talents, which have already shewn themselves in all the eccentricities in which young high-born men, and rich withal, are allowed here to indulge themselves, would make me fear for your happiness with him. Though here but six months, he has already distinguished himself as a sort of Alcibiades, in both luxury, gallantry, and the love of being conspicuous. With so much mercury in his composition—which, though dormant at Sedbergh and under his father's roof, where sentiment and romance might have been the order of the day, has been warmed into activity by the brisker atmosphere of Oxford and liberty-how could he fail to make himself notorious, as a flirt with the women, and a renowner with the men.* In the first of these characters I fear he has already done much mischief to the daughter of one of our most respectable heads of houses, whose head he has turned by attentions which, of course, meaning nothing, can be little less than fraudulent; as Clara Meadows, the poor girl I mean, has even now found to her cost.
“ I have mentioned Alcibiades," continued Fothergill, after a momentary pause, “because we lectured about him yesterday in Plutarch ; but take also what Marmontel says of him, turning him, indeed, into a Frenchman. - La Nature et la fortune sembloient avoir conspiré au bonheur d’Alcibiade. Richesses, talens,
Alluding, no doubt, to the students of the German universities, where to be notorious for excess of any kind is necessary to their reputation, and goes by the name of “ renowning."