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The grave deportment of his father then rose before me; the serious civility of the domestics, and indeed the regularity and order of the whole house. There were jokes, indeed, too, but they were in Bertha's laughing eyes, and certainly not such jokes as these.
These reflections brought me, in no very attentive humour, to my lecture with Mr. Fothergill, very dif. ferent from that with Mr. Douce. He perceived it, and half-reproachingly, half-kindly, observed, that breakfasting with fine gentlemen was a bad preparation for a lecture. Seeing, however, that I was not only absent, but really not happy, he good-humouredly adjourned my attendance, and said he would resume with me after he had finished with his other pupils.
Retired to my room, I threw my Plutarch on my table, and myself on my couch.
Stern says of old Shandy, throwing himself side. long on his bed to meditate Tristam’s misfortune, that a horizontal posture alleviates grief. I know not his authority, but as his own is a very good one in all these little matters of feeling, I suppose he is right;for I felt, as I lay on my right side, with my right arm under my head, and jogging my left leg over the other against the frame of the sopha, that my musing, by degrees, got less unpleasant and disturbed. “ This can only be a freak of Hastings,” said I, “either to amuse himself or banter me. He cannot mean to give himself these airs; he has too much real honour, as well as sense, to be the thing he affects.”
I was consoling myself with this thought, when my tutor came in. “ You have not gained much by your visit,” said he, observing my pensive position, which
however, I immediately quitted, out of respect to him. “ I see discontent, if not disappointment, in your eye. What ! you have found that Oxford practice accords not with Sedbergh professions. You and your friend are no longer,
* Like to a double-cherry, seeming parted,
And yet a union in partition.' Nay, it is not that,” said I, “ for he was really glad to see me."
“ Yes ! I suppose he begged you to sit down, and did the honours of his breakfast-table most condescendingly. But did he really not make you feel the difference between you ?”
“ That I cannot say,” answered I.
“ The difference, however," I continued, “ was not what you suspect.” I then described to my friendly relation the immense change which I thought I had observed in the manner, mind, and language of my schoolfellow, which distressed me, though I supposed it might indicate superior knowledge of the world.
« Of which knowledge you are jealous," observed Fothergill.
“ No, no, indeed ; but I own I did not like that things which I thought serious, should be laughed at, and myself and college quizzed, while I felt restrained from answering by I know not what fear of his higher condition, and the tone of superiority which this seemed to give him.”
6. This is silly, though not unnatural,” said Mr. Fothergill, “and must be whipped out of you, or you will be miserable. As for his rattling tone in regard to what you so properly think serious, I could pass that by, as the mere ebullition of a spoiled youth, who thinks he writes man the better for seeming care
less of what a man should be. He is afraid of being thought in leading-strings, and affects freedom accordingly. But what most alarms me for you is, this friendship of yours, which, being what is called an unequal alliance - a thing I never saw come to good, but generally to harm-I would, by all means, advise you to set yourself against.”
“ That seems cruel and unnatural," answered I, “ not to say unreasonable and ungrateful, especially as, though I see a contemptuous manner as to things and persons in general, he gave me no reason to think I was among them. Ought I not at least to wait till I do?”
“ It is better to prevent than cure," replied Fothergill. " It will be bitter for you perhaps to take leave of this quality youngster; it will be more so to be left by him. And now for Plutarch.” ,
We then proceeded to lecture, and in the unbridled and profligate eccentricities of Alcibiades, leading to every sort of crime, he made me read a proof that high gifts, when unrestrained by principle, so far from conferring happiness, produce nothing but mortification, humiliation, disappointment, and death. This, and the contempt it bred in me for every thing like mob rule, mob justice, and mob leaders, did me lasting service.
Here, however, Fothergill displayed his wellbalanced mind, and his able manner of directing a youthful judgment. For, seeing the indignation, not to say hatred, with which the democracy of Athens inspired me, he bade me take care not to draw general conclusions from partial examples, but wait the whole scope of history : and in particular to weigh the conduct and character of kings, before I decided against a government by the people. Yet Fothergill was no democrat.
The lecture over, I was again left alone to contemplate my existing position ; but my contemplations were not agreeable. The new world I was in did not open upon me auspiciously. I had set my heart upon renewing my old fondness for Hastings. I loved him for himself, and still more for his sister. A change on his part I never thought possible, and, as to inequality, it had never crossed my imagination. My tutor's prognostics, therefore, appeared to me both gloomy and unfounded; and though I respected his penetration and experience, I at least knew none of the cases on which he grounded his opinion. Besides, there were exceptions to every thing, and why should not this friendship of mine and Hastings be one of them ?
With the buoyancy and confidence of youth (for youthful apprehensions seldom last long), I therefore resolved to slight the advice I had received, and sallied forth in the evening, in a frame of mind, without a reason for it, different, lighter, and happier, than that of the morning.
My steps, almost mechanically, directed themselves to the same place, Christ Church Walk (the general promenade of an evening), where I had met Hastings the evening before ; and I met him again.
He was again with Lord Albany, and one or two more men of figure, and, seeing me advance towards him with the pleasure I really felt at meeting, he appeared again embarrassed. It was not, as I have before said, the embarrassment of an upstart, surprised by a quondam equal in high company, but one which seemed to proceed from displeasure, and a sense of an improper liberty taken; for, in my untaught manners, I thought only of him, and broke in upon him, caring little for ceremony with his companions. He decided at once what to do, and said, “ Clifford,
a word with you." Then, apologizing to his friends for leaving them a moment, he took me on one side. Having done this, he startled me by saying, with an air of distance, “ I perceive, my good friend, that you are so new to this place, and indeed to the world, as to have a great deal to learn, perhaps to unlearn, and it is only due to friendship to tell you of it. You will not take it ill ?”
Certainly not,” said I, surprised, but neither mortified nor humbled, for I did not know my crime.
“ Good," observed he; “ but this is not the place to confer about it at large, and we will take another opportunity. Meantime, do not misunderstand me if I tell you that it is against good breeding, as well as custom, for a stranger to intrude himself upon persons he does not know, especially if they be as far above him in rank as those gentlemen whom you have discomposed are above you ; and this, though it be to greet an old friend and school companion. You have a right to seek me, and to be even hail fellow, well met,' with me, if you please, and in your place, but not if I am in the midst of company who can know nothing of you, and to whose acquaintance perhaps you would not, and ought not, to pretend. It is necessary I should give you this hint for your own guidance, in a place where you are yet a stranger; but it will be a good rule all the world over. Come and see me as often as you please, but do not force the notice of others. Lord Albany, with whom you saw I was engaged, is a peer of the realm.”
I was so confused, nay, astounded, at this speech, that I had not a word at command to reply to it; seeing which, he touched my finger, and saying, he hoped we should meet again at a time more convenient, turned back to rejoin his company, leaving me overwhelmed with astonishment, indignation, and grief.