Charles James Lever.

The Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly online

. (page 1 of 46)
Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly → online text (page 1 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


LIBRARY

OF THE

University of California.



Class







^



THE BRAMLEIGHS



OF BISHOP'S FOLLY,



BY



CHARLES LEVER



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY W. CUBITT COOKE,
AND E. J. WHEELER.



OF THE

UNIVERSITY

CF



BOSTON:
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

1904.



CONTENTS.



Chapter Page

I. The Bishop's Folly 1

II. Lady Augusta's Letter 7

III. "The Evening after a Hard Run" ... 13

IV. On the Croquet Lawn 20

V. Confidential Talk 27

VI. Up in the Mountains 36

VII. At Luncheon 45

VIII. The Arrival of a Great Man 51

IX. Over the Fire 58

X. The Droppings of a Great Diplomatist . . 70

XI. A Winter Day's Walk 77

XII. An Evening below and above Stairs ... 86

XIII. At the Cottage 98

XIV. Official Confidences 109

XV. With his Lawyer 115

XVI. Some Misunderstandings 120

XVII. At Castello 129

XVIII. A Dull Dinner 137

XIX. A Departure 153

XX. A Morning of Perplexities 163

XXI. George and Julia 176

XXII. In the Library at Castello 184

XXIII. The Curate Cross-Examined 194

XXIV. Doubts and Fears 201

XXV. Marion's Ambitions 218

XXVI. Mr. Cutbill Arrives at Castello .... 224

XXVII. The Villa Altieri 231



vi CONTENTS.

Chapteb Page

XXVIII. Castello 238

XXIX. The Hotel Bristol 248

XXX. On the Road 256

XXXI. On the Road to Italy 26 7

XXXII. The Church Patrons at Albano . . . . 272

XXXIII. A Small Lodging at Louvain 284

XXXIV. At Louvain 293

XXXV. Mr. Cutbill's Visit 297

XXXVI. An Evening with Cutbill 304

XXXVII. The Appointment 311

XXXVIII. With Lord Culduff 318

XXXIX. At Albano 323

XL. " A Reception " at Rome 333

XLI. Some " Salon Diplomacies " 340

XLII. A Long Tete-a-Tete 348

XL1II. A Special Mission 361

XLIV. The Church Patrons 370

XLV. A Pleasant Dinner 378

XL VI. A Stroll and a Gossip 384

XL VII. A Proposal in Form 394

XL VIII. "A Telegram" 400

XLIX. A Long Tete-a-Tete 411

L. Cattaro 418

LI. Some News from Without 424

LII. Ischia 432

LIII. A Rainy Night at Sea 444

LTV. The Letter Bag 453

LV. The Prisoner at Cattaro 461

LVI. At Lady Augusta's 469

LVII. At the Inn at Cattaro 475

LVIIL The Villa Life 484

LIX. A Very Brief Dream 490

LX. A Return Home 498

LXI. Lady Culduff's Letter 506

LXII. Dealing with Cutbill 514

LXIII. The Client and his Lawyer 519

LXIV. A First Gleam of Light 524



CONTENTS.



Vll



Chapteb Page

LXV. The Light Stronger 533

LXVI. Sedley's Notes 540

LXVII. A Wayfarer 547

LXVIIL A Meeting and a Parting 554

LXIX. The Last of All 560



VI CONTENTS.

Chapteb Page

XXVIII. Castello 238

XXIX. The Hotel Bristol . . • 248

XXX. On the Road 256

XXXI. On the Road to Italy 267

XXXII. The Church Patrons at Albano . . . . 272

XXXIII. A Small Lodging at Louvain 284

XXXIV. At Louvain 293

XXXV. Mr. Cutbill's Visit 297

XXXVI. An Evening with Cutbill 304

XXXVII. The Appointment 311

XXXVIII. With Lord Culduff 318

XXXIX. At Albano 323

XL. " A Reception " at Rome 333

XLI. Some " Salon Diplomacies " 340

XLII. A Long Tete-a-Tete 348

XL1II. A Special Mission 361

XLIV. The Church Patrons 370

XLV. A Pleasant Dinner 378

XL VI. A Stroll and a Gossip 384

XL VII. A Proposal in Form 394

XL VIII. "A Telegram" 400

XLIX. A Long Tete-a-Tete 411

L. Cattaro 418

LI. Some News from Without 424

LIT. Ischia 432

LIII. A Rainy Night at Sea 444

LIV. The Letter Bag 453

LV. The Prisoner at Cattaro 461

LVI. At Lady Augusta's 469

LVII. At the Inn at Cattaro 475

LVIIL The Villa Life 484

LIX. A Very Brief Dream 490

LX. A Return Home 498

LXI. Lady Culduff's Letter 506

LXII. Dealing with Cutbill 514

LXIII. The Client and his Lawyer 519

LXIV. A First Gleam of Light 524



CONTENTS.



Vll



Chapteb Page

LXV. The Light Stronger 533

LXVI. Sedley's Notes 540

LXVIL A Wayfarer 547

LXVIIL A Meeting and a Parting 554

LXIX. The Last of All 560



ILLUSTRATIONS.



ORIGINAL DESIGNS BY W. CUBITT COOKE AND
E. J. WHEELER.

Page
The Evening after a Hard Run Frontispiece

"'I wish — I wish — 'stammered he" 100

"'Here is our total wealth,' said she" 270

"'Why, sir, am I to be annoyed by this man's vul-
gar PRESENCE ?'" 341

"'Thank Heaven, there is a respite,' said Bram-

leigh" 403

"He thought her lips seemed to murmur some-
thing " 492



OF THE

UNIVERSITY

OF



THE

BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOFS FOLLY,



CHAPTER I.

THE BISHOP'S FOLLY. .

Towards the close of the last century there was a very
remarkable man, Bishop of Down, in Ireland : a Liberal in
politics, in an age when Liberalism lay close on the confines
of disloyalty ; splendidly hospitable, at a period when hos-
pitality verged on utter recklessness ; he carried all his
opinions to extremes. He had great taste, which had been
cultivated by foreign travel, and having an ample fortune,
was able to indulge in many whims and caprices, by which
some were led to doubt of his sanity ; but others, who
judged him better, ascribed them to the self-indulgence of a
man out of harmony with his time, and comtemptuously
indifferent to what the world might say of him.

He had passed many years in Italy, and had formed a
great attachment to that country. He liked the people
and their mode of life ; he liked the old cities, so rich in
art treasures and so teeming with associations of a pictur-
esque past ; and he especially liked their villa architecture,
which seemed so essentially suited to a grand and costly
style of living. The great reception-rooms, spacious and
lofty ; the ample antechambers, made for crowds of attend-
ants ; and the stairs wide enough for even equipages to
ascend them. No more striking illustration of his capricious
turn of mind need be given than the fact that it was his
pleasure to build one of these magnificent edifices in an
Irish county! — a costly whim, obliging him to bring over
l



2 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

from Italy a whole troop of stucco-men and painters, men
skilled in fresco-work and carving, — an extravagance on
which he spent thousands. Nor did he live to witness the
completion of his splendid mansion.

After his death the building gradually fell into decay.
His heirs, not improbably, little caring for a project which
had ingulfed so large a share of their fortune, made no
efforts to arrest the destroying influences of time and cli-
mate, and " Bishop's Folly" — for such was the name given
to it by the country people — soon became a ruin. In some
places the roof had fallen in, the doors and windows had all
been carried away by the peasants, and in many a cabin or
humble shealing in the county around slabs of colored mar-
ble or fragments of costly carving might be met with, over
which the skill of a cunning workman had been bestowed
for days long. The mansion stood on the side of a moun-
tain which sloped gradually to the sea. The demesne, well
wooded, but with young timber, was beautifully varied in
surface, one deep glen running, as it were, from the very
base of the house to the beach, and showing glimpses,
through the trees, of a bright and rapid river tumbling
onward to the sea. Seen in its dilapidation and decay, the
aspect of the place was dreary and depressing, and led many
to wonder how the bishop could ever have selected such a
spot; for it was not only placed in the midst of a wild
mountain region, but many miles away from anything that
could be called a neighborhood. But the same haughty
defiance he gave the world in other things urged him here to
show that he cared little for the judgments wmich might be
passed upon him, or even for the circumstances which would
have influenced other men. " When it is my pleasure to re-
ceive company, I shall have my house full no matter where
I live," was his haughty speech, and certainly the whole
character of his life went to confirm his words.

Some question of disputed title, after the bishop's death,
threw the estate into Chancery, and so it remained till, by
the operation of the new law touching incumbered property,
it became marketable, and was purchased by a rich London
banker, who had declared his intention of coming to live
upon it.



THE BISHOP'S FOLLY. 3

That any one rich enough to buy such a property, able to
restore such a costly house, and maintain a style of living
proportionate to its pretensions, should come to reside in the
solitude and obscurity of an Irish county, seemed all but
impossible ; and when the matter became assured by the
visit of a well-known architect, and afterwards by the arrival
of a troop of workmen, the puzzle then became to guess how
it chanced that the great head of a rich banking firm, the
chairman of this, the director of that, the promoter of
Heaven knows what scores of industrial schemes for fortune,
should withdraw from the great bustle of life to accept an
existence of complete oblivion.

In the little village of Portshandon — which straggled
along the beach ; and where, with a few exceptions, none
but fishermen and their families lived — this question was
hotly debated ; an old half-pay lieutenant, who by courtesy
was called Captain, being at the head of those who first
denied the possibility of the Bramleighs coming at all, and
when that matter was removed beyond a doubt, next taking
his stand on the fact that nothing short of some disaster in
fortune, or some aspersion on character, could ever have
driven a man out of the great world to finish his days in the
exile of Ireland.

" I suppose you'll give in at last, Captain Craufurd," said
Mrs. Bayley, the postmistress of Portshandon, as she pointed
to a pile of letters and newspapers all addressed to " Cas-
tello," and which more than quadrupled the other correspond-
ence of the locality.

" I did n't pretend they were not coming, Mrs. Bayley,"
said he, in the cracked and cantankerous tone he invariably
spoke in. "I simply observed that I 'd be thankful for any
one telling me why they were coming. That 's the puzzle, —
why they 're coming ? "

11 1 suppose because they like it, and they can afford it,"
said she, with a toss of her head.

" Like it! " cried he, in derision. " Like it! Look out
of the window there beside you, Mrs. Bayley, and say, is n't
it a lovely prospect, that beggarly village, and the old rot-
ten boats, keel uppermost, with the dead fish and the
oyster-shells, and the torn nets, and the dirty children?



4 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

Is n't it an elegant sight after Hyde Park and the Queen's
palace? "

" I never saw the Queen's palace nor the other place you
talk of, but I think there 's worse towns to live in than
Portshandon."

"And do they think they'll make it better by calling it
Castello? " said he, as with a contemptuous gesture he threw
from him one of the newspapers with this address. " If
they want to think they 're in Italy they ought to come down
here in November with the Channel fogs sweeping up
through the mountains, and the wind beating the rain
against the windows. I hope they'll think they're in
Naples. Why can't they call the place by the name we all
know it by ? It was Bishop's Folly when I was a boy, and
it will be Bishop's Folly after I'm dead."

" I suppose people can call their house whatever they
like? Nobody objects to your calling your place Craufurd's
Lea."

" I 'd like to see them object to it," cried he, fiercely.
"It's Craufurd's Lea in Digge's ' Survey of Down,' 1714.
It 's Craufurd's Lea in the ' Anthologia Hibernica,' and it 's
down, too, in Joyce's ' Irish Fisheries ; ' and we were Crau-
furds of Craufurd's Lea before one stone of that big barrack
up there was laid, and maybe we '11 be so after it 's a ruin
again."

' ' I hope it 's not going to be a ruin any more, Captain
Craufurd, all the same," said the postmistress, tartly, for
she was not disposed to undervalue the increased importance
the neighborhood was about to derive from the rich family
coming to live in it.

"Well, there's one thing I can tell you, Mrs. Bayley,"
said he, with his usual grin. " The devil a bit of Ireland
they 'd ever come to, if they could live in England. Mind
my words, and see if they'll not come true. It's either the
bank is in a bad way, or this or that company is going to
smash, or it 's his wife has run away, or one of the daughters
married the footman ; — something or other has happened,
you '11 see, or we would never have the honor of their dis-
tinguished company down here."

" It's a bad wind blows nobody good," said Mrs. Bayley.
" It's luck for us, anyhow."



THE BISHOP'S FOLLY. 5

" I don't perceive the luck of it either, ma'am," said the
Captain, with increased peevishness. " Chickens will be
eighteenpence a couple, eggs a halfpenny apiece. I'd like
to know what you '11 pay for a codfish, such as I bought
yesterday for fourpence?"

" It 's better for them that has to sell them."

"Ay, but I'm talking of them that has to buy them,
ma'am, and I'm thinking how a born gentleman with a
fixed income is to compete with one of these fellows that
gets his gold from California at market price, and makes
more out of one morning's robbery on the Stock Ex-
change, than a Lieutenant-General receives after thirty
years' service."

A sharp tap at the window-pane interrupted the discussion
at this critical moment, and Mrs. Bayley perceived it was
Mr. Dorose, Colonel Bramleigh's valet, who had come for the
letters for the great house.

"Only these, Mrs. Bayley?" said he, half contemptuously.

"Well, indeed, sir; it's a good-sized bundle after all.
There 's eleven letters, and about fifteen papers and two
books."

" Send them all on to Brighton, Mrs. Bayley. We shall
not come down here till the end of the month. Just give
me the ' Times,' however ; " and tearing open the cover, he
turned to the City article. ' ' I hope you 've nothing in
Ecuadors, Mrs. Bayley ; they look shaky. I 'm ' hit,' too,
in my Turks. I see no dividend this half." Here he leaned
forward, so as to whisper in her ear, and said, " Whenever
you want a snug thing, Mrs. B., you're always safe with
Brazilians ; " and with this he moved off, leaving the post-
mistress in a flurry of shame and confusion as to what pre-
cise character of transaction his counsel applied.

" Upon my conscience, we 're come to a pretty pass ! "
exclaimed the Captain, as, buttoning his coat, he issued forth
into the street ; nor was his temper much improved by find-
ing the way blocked up by a string of carts and drays,
slowly proceeding towards the great house, all loaded with
furniture and kitchen utensils, and the other details of a
large household. A bystander remarked that four saddle-
horses had passed through at daybreak, and one of the



6 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

grooms had said, " It was nothing to what was coming in
a few days."

Two days after this, and quite unexpectedly by all, the
village awoke to see a large flag waving from the flagstaff
over the chief tower of Castello; and the tidings were
speedily circulated that the great people had arrived. A
few sceptics, determining to decide the point for themselves,
set out to go up to the house ; but the lodge-gate was closed
and the gatekeeper answered them from behind it, saying
that no visitors were to be admitted ; a small incident, in its
way, but, after all, it is by small incidents that men speculate
on the tastes and tempers of a new dynasty.



CHAPTER II.

lady Augusta's letter.

It will save some time, both to writer and reader, while it
will also serve to explain certain particulars about those
we are interested in, if I give in this place a letter which
was written by Lady Augusta Bramleigh, the Colonel's
young wife, to a married sister at Rome. It ran thus :

Hanover Square, Nov. 10, 18 — .

Dearest Dorothy, —

Here we are back in town, at a season, too, when we find our-
selves the only people left ; and if I wanted to make a long story
of how it happens, there is the material ; but it is precisely what
I desire to avoid, and at the risk of being barely intelligible, I will
be brief. We have left Earlshope, and, indeed, Herefordshire, for
good. Our campaign there was a social failure, but just such a
failure as I predicted it would and must be ; and although, possi-
bly, I might have liked to have been spared some of the mortifi-
cations we met with, I am too much pleased with the results to
quarrel over the means.

You are already in possession of what we intended by the pur-
chase of Earlshope — how we meant to become county magnates,
marry our sons and daughters to neighboring magnates, and live
as though we had been rooted to the soil for centuries. I say
" we," my dear, because I am too good a wife to separate myself
from Col. B. in all these projects ; but I am fain to own that as I
only saw defeat in the plan, I opposed it from the first. Here, in
town, money will do anything; at least, anything that one has any
right to do. There may be a set or a clique to which it will not
give admission ; but who wants them, who needs them ?

There 's always a wonderful Van Eyck or a Mending in a
Dutch town, to obtain the sight of which you have to petition the
authorities, or implore the Stadtholder ; but I never knew any one
admit that success repaid the trouble ; and the chances are that
you come away from the sight fully convinced that you have seen



8 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

scores of old pictures exactly like it, and that all that could be
said was, it was as brown, and as dusky, and as generally disap-
pointing, as its fellows. So it is with these small exclusive socie-
ties. It may be a great triumph of ingenuity to pick the lock ;
but there 's nothing in the coffer to reward it. I repeat, then,
with money — and we had money — London was open to us. All
the more, too, that for some years back society has taken a specu-
lative turn; and it is nothing derogatory to find people "to go
in," as it is called, for a good thing, in " Turks " or " Brazilians,"
in patent fuel, or a new loan to the children of Egypt. To these,
and such like, your City man and banker is esteemed a safe pilot ;
and you would be amused at the amount of attention Col. B.
was accustomed to meet with from men who regarded themselves
as immeasurably above him, and who, all question of profit
apart, would have hesitated at admitting him to their acquain-
tance.

I tell you all these very commonplace truths, my dear Dorothy,
because they may not, indeed cannot, be such truisms to you —
you, who live in a grand old city, with noble traditions, arid the
refinements that come transmitted from centuries of high habits ;
and I feel, as I write, how puzzled you will often be to follow me.
London w&\ as I have twice said, our home ; but for that very
reason we could not be content with it. Earlshope, by ill luck,
was for sale, and we bought it. I am afraid to tell you the height
of our castle-building ; but, as we were all engaged, the work went
on briskly, every day adding at least a story to the edifice. We
w r ere to start as high sheriff, then represent the county. I am not
quite clear, I think we never settled the point as to the lord-
lieutenancy ; but I know the exact way, and the very time, in
which we demanded our peerage. How we threatened to sulk,
and did sulk ; how we actually sat a whole night on the back
benches; and how we made our eldest son dance twice with a
daughter of the " Opposition," — menaces that no intelligent
Cabinet or conscientious "Whip" could for a moment misunder-
stand. And oh! my dear Dora, as I write these things, how
forcibly I feel the prudence of that step which once we all were
so ready to condemn you for having taken. You were indeed right
to marry a foreigner. That an English girl should address her-
self to the married life of England, the first condition is she
should never have left England, not even for that holiday -trip to
Paris and Switzerland, which people now do, as once they were
wont to "do Margate." The whole game of existence is such a
scramble with us : we scramble for social rank, for place, for in-
fluence, for Court favor, for patronage; and all these call for so
much intrigue and plotting, that 1 vow to you I 'd as soon be a



LADY AUGUSTA'S LETTER. 9

Carbonara or a Sanfedista as the wife of an aspiring middle-class
Englishman.

But to return. The county would not have us — we were rich,
and we were City folk, and they deemed it an unpardonable pre-
tension in us to come down amongst them. They refused our
invitations, and sent us none of their own. We split with them,
contested the election against them, and got beaten. We spent
unheard-of moneys, and bribed everybody that had not a vote
for ten miles round. With universal suffrage, which I believe we
promised them, we should have been at the head' of the poll ; but
the freeholders were to a man opposed to us.

I am told that our opponents behaved ungenerously and un-
justly — perhaps they did ; at all events, the end of the contest
left us without a single acquaintance, and we stood alone in our
glory of beaten candidateship, after three months of unheard-of
fatigue, and more meanness than I care to mention. The end of
all was, to shake the dust off our feet at Herefordshire, and ad-
vertise Earlshope for sale. Meanwhile w T e returned to town ; just
as shipwrecked men clamber up the first rock in sight, not feel-
ing in their danger what desolation is before them. I take it
that the generals of a beaten army talk very little over their late
defeat. At all events we observed a most scrupulous reserve, and
I don't think that a word was dropped amongst us for a month
that could have led a stranger to believe that we had just been
beaten in an election, and hunted out of the county.

I was just beginning to feel that our lesson, a severe one, it is
true, might redound to our future benefit, when our eldest-born

— I call them all mine, Dora, though not one of them will say
mamma to me — discovered that there was an Irish estate to be
sold, with a fine house and fine grounds, and that if we could n't
be great folk in the grander kingdom, there was no saying what
we might not be in the smaller one. This was too much for me.
I accepted the Herefordshire expedition because it smacked of
active service. I knew well we should be defeated, and I knew
there would be a battle, but I could not consent to banishment.
What had I done, I asked myself over and over, that I should be
sent to live in Ireland ?

1 tried to get up a party against the project, and failed. Augus-
tus Bramleigh — our heir — was in its favor, indeed its chief pro-
moter. Temple, the second son, who is a secretary of embassy,
and the most insufferable of puppies, thought it a " nice place for
us," and certain to save us money ; and John, — Jack they call him,

— who is in the navy, thinks land to be land, besides that, he was
once stationed at Cork, and thought it a paradise. If I could do
little with the young men, I did less with the girls. Marion, the



10 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

eldest, who deems her papa a sort of divine-right head of a family,
would not discuss the scheme ; and Eleanor, who goes in for nature
and spontaneous feeling, replied that she was overjoyed at the
thought of Ireland, and even half gave me to understand that she
was only sorry it was not Africa. I was thus driven to a last re-
source. I sent for our old friend, Doctor Bartlet, and told him
frankly that he must order me abroad to a dry warm climate,
where there were few changes of temperature, and nothing depress-
ing in the air. He did the thing to perfection ; he called in Forbes
to consult with him. The case was very serious, he said. The
lung was not yet attacked, but the bronchial tubes were affected.
Oh, how grateful I felt to my dear bronchial tubes, for they have
sent me to Italy 1 Yes, Dolly dearest, I am off on Wednesday, and
hope within a week after this reaches you to be at your side, pour-
ing out all my sorrows, and asking for that consolation you never
yet refused me. And now, to be eminently practical, can you obtain
for me that beautiful little villa that overlooked the Borghese
Gardens? — it was called the Villino Altieri. The old Prince
Giuseppe Altieri, who used to be an adorer of mine, if he be alive
may like to resume his ancient passion, and accept me for a tenant ;
all the more that I can afford to be liberal. Col. B. behaves well
always where money enters, I shall want servants, as I only
mean to take from this, Rose and my groom. You know the sort
of creatures I like ; but, for my sake, be particular about the cook,
— I can't eat " Romanesque, " — and if there be a stray Frenchman



Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly → online text (page 1 of 46)