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enveloped in papers. Among these I presumed I was myself to take my seat.
The room where we were received was handsomely furnished with crimson hangings, and studded all over with cabinet pictures in rich gilt frames, my lord being a great admirer, and, indeed, patron of painting. A glazed door opened into a small but pretty garden of flowering shrubs, over which the eye took in the trees of Hyde Park, certainly not comparable to the beautiful forest I had left, but which, for London, and my notions of it, was an unexpected pleasure.
I had, however, little leisure for this sort of observation, being absorbed by a very different object, in Lord Castleton himself. When we entered he was sitting alone at his desk, and so intent, that at first he did not hear us; but the messenger announcing Mr. Manners, he immediately rose, and by his cordial reception shewed how much he esteemed that gentleman.
When I was presented, his manner was of course rather more ceremonious, though I should not say it was cold, or even formal. With unaffected
grace he shook hands with me, and hoped we should be better acquainted; adding, frankly, that I must be a fortunate man to unite the suffrages of such an old stager of the world as his friend Manners, and such a cloistered scholar as my relation Fothergill. To do away, however, any appearance of disparage
ment which that might imply to the latter, he inquired after him with interest, and even affection, saying there was no man for whose abilities, integrity, and strong natural sense, he had a greater, if so great, an esteem.
All this seemed purposely meant to put me at my ease in rather a trying situation, and it was only a mark of that tact and kindness united, in which no man exceeded, few equalled, this truly
After this, he fell upon what he, with the same view, called parish business.
6 From what I understand,” said he, “ Mr. De Clifford, you will have here very different scenes and occupations from what you have been accustomed to; but from what I also hear, this will soon sink to nothing before one of your mind. I trust our connection will be as agreeable to you, as I have no doubt it will be to me. You will, however, have no sinecure, as I dare say Mr. Manners will have told you, and I have the pleasure of believing what I certainly did not of any of your predecessors--that you would not like your charge if it were."
He then told me that my scene of action would be principally at the office in Downing-street, though frequently where I was, as he did a great deal of business at home. 6 And if you please,” added he, “ I will shew you your den, where I must always have you at my right hand.”
So saying, he opened a pannel door, which led into a small vestibule, on the other side of which was a closet fitted with desks, in which he said I should be installed the next day.
To-day,” said he, “ you would no doubt wish to look about you, especially as a stranger to London. You will, however, I hope, with Mr. Manners, dine with me here at six, till when, I am afraid (and he pulled out his watch), I must bid
It was evident he had an engagement, and we took our leave; Mr. Manners delighted to find him, as he said, the self-same man he had been for twenty years ; I, absolutely charmed with the mixture of high breeding and natural, cheerful bonhommie, which had marked my reception.
Our conversation on this lasted long after we got to our hotel in Hanover-square, and consumed much of the time between that and the hour of dinner.
That dinner was a private one; not a creature besides ourselves. Even the servants were discarded, and each of us had his own dumb-waiter by his side; Lord Castleton having an extra one for the wine, over which he presided, helping us as we wished.
I was a little surprised at a privacy so unexpected, at the house of a nobleman and minister of state; but as I had already learned a maxim that it was ill breeding to shew surprise at any thing, I
kept it to myself. I afterwards discovered from Manners, that there was a reason for it, and that it arose from the desire of Lord Castleton to study his new secretary with as little restraint as possible, either upon
himself or him. The conversation was therefore easy, turning at first upon the belles lettres, in which I was frequently asked for my opinion, which I gave freely, but never offered without being asked. I found afterwards, from Mr. Manners, that this was not unremarked to my advantage by Lord Castleton.
We afterwards fell upon history, English and foreign, in which our host was pleased to say he heard from Fothergill I had made more progress than is usual with an Oxford undergraduate. Without, therefore, alarming me as a catechiser, he adroitly allowed the conversation to lead that way, and seemed well enough pleased with my knowledge of the thirty years' war, the age of Louis XIV., the Revolution, and the public men, as well as wits, of the time of Queen Anne. In this, too, he drew me out by his own acquaintance with them, rather than that I abruptly volunteered what -knowledge I had.
Our afternoon was therefore most agreeable, and he assured Manners that he believed he should be more than satisfied with me. All this that good friend told me with pleasure previous to his returning the next day to his beloved Grange.
Thus left to myself, I found it was as much necessity as duty to attach myself entirely to the study of my new patron, and the exact fulfilment of his wishes. Nor was this difficult, for his mind was without tricks; courts had not spoilt him; and when he found a character as clear from deceit as himself, he gave it all his protection and all his good-will.
I attended him by appointment the day after our dinner, to take possession of what he always called my den, and he set before me a boxfull of papers of which he desired a précis as my morning's task.
“ The evenings,” said he, “ you will have to yourself, and I need not tell you the more you pass them in the best company the better for your improvement, and therefore for your happiness.”
Seeing me look embarrassed at this, he goodnaturedly asked the reason, and I fairly told him that not only I had no acquaintances in London, but that, from being a mere Oxford recluse, I felt without that confidence which a knowledge of the style of society he mentioned alone could give.
He laughed, and said, from what he could observe, he thought I should do very well.
“ However," added he, we must try to initiate you. I will not affront you by telling you to read Chesterfield; and perhaps an accomplished female is better for such a purpose than all the male in