let me see; thou art now of a reasonable age, — fourteen at
"Fifteen, if it please you, sir," said I, elevating my stature
as much as I was able.
"Humph! my boy; and a pretty time of life it is, too.
Your brother Gerald is taller than you by two inches."
"But I can beat him for all that, uncle," said I, colouring,
and clenching my list.
My uncle pulled down his right ruffle. " 'Gad so, Morton,
you 're a brave fellow," said he; "but I wish you were less of
a hero and more of a scholar. I wish you could beat him in
Greek as well as in boxing. I will tell you what Old Rowley
said, " and my uncle occupied the next quarter of an hour with
a story. The story opened the good old gentleman's heart;
my laughter opened it still more. "Hark ye, sirrah!" said
he, pausing abruptly, and grasping my hand with a vigorous
effort of love and muscle, "hark ye, sirrah, — I love you, —
'Sdeath, I do. I love you better than both your brothers, and
that crab of a priest into the bargain ; but I am grieved to the
heart to hear what I do of you. They tell me you are the
idlest boy in the school; that you are always beating your
brother Gerald, and making a scurrilous jest of your mother
" Who says so ? who dares say so ? " said I, with an em-
phasis that would have startled a less hearty man than Sir
William Devereux. "They lie. Uncle; by my soul they do.
Idle I am; quarrelsome with my brother I confess myself;
but jesting at you or my mother — never — never. No, no;
yoxi, too, who have been so kind to me, — the only one who
ever was. No, no ; do not think I could be such a wretch : "
and as I said this the tears gushed from my eyes.
My good uncle was exceedingly affected. " Look ye, child, "
said he, "I do not believe them, 'Sdeath, not a word; I
would repeat to you a good jest now of Sedley's, 'Gad, I
would, but I am really too much moved just at present. I tell
you what, my boy, I tell you what you shall do: there is
a trial coming on at school — eh ? — well, the Abbe tells me
Gerald is certain of being first, and you of being last. Now,
Morton, you shall beat your brother, and shame the Jesuit.
There; my mind 's spoken; dry your tears, my boy, and I '11
tell you the jest Sedley made : it was in the Mulberry Garden
one day — " And the knight told his story.
I dried my tears, pressed my uncle's hand, escaped from
him as soon as I was able, hastened to my room, and surren-
dered myself to reflection.
When my uncle so good-naturedly proposed that I should
conquer Gerald at the examination, nothing appeared to him
more easy; he was pleased to think I had more talent than
my brother, and talent, according to his creed, was the only
master-key to unlock every science. A problem in Euclid
or a phrase in Pindar, a secret in astronomy or a knotty pas-
sage in the Fathers, were all riddles, with the solution of
which application had nothing to do. One's mother-wit was a
precious sort of necromancy, which could pierce every rajs-
tery at first sight; and all the gifts of knowledge, in his opin-
ion, like reading and writing in that of the sage Dogberry,
"came by nature." Alas! I was not under the same pleasur-
able delusion; I rather exaggerated than diminished the diffi-
culty of my task, and thought, at the first glance, that nothing
short of a miracle would enable me to excel my brother.
Gerald, a boy of natural talent, and, as I said before, of great
assiduity in the orthodox studies, — especially favoured too
by the instruction of Montreuil, — had long been esteemed the
first scholar of our little world ; and though I knew that with
some branches of learning I was more conversant than him-
self, yet, as my emulation had been hitherto solely directed
to bodily contention, I had never thought of contesting with
him a reputation for which I cared little, and on a point in
which I had been early taught that I could never hope to
enter into any advantageous comparison with the " genius " of
A new spirit now passed into me : I examined myself with
a jealous and impartial scrutiny; I weighed my acquisitions
against those of my brother; I called forth, from their secret
recesses, the unexercised and almost unknown stores I had
from time to time laid up in my mental armoury to moulder
and to rust. I surveyed them with a feeling that they might
yet be polished into use; and, excited alike by the stimulus
of affection on one side and hatred on the other, my mind
worked itself from despondency into doubt, and from doubt
into the sanguineness of hope. I told none of my design; I
exacted from my uncle a promise not to betray it ; I shut my-
self in my room; I gave out that I was ill; I saw no one, not
even the Abbe; I rejected his instructions, for I looked upon
him as an enemy; and, for the two months before my trial, I
spent night and day in an unrelaxing application, of which,
till then, I had not imagined myself capable.
Though inattentive to the school exercises, I had never
been wholly idle. I was a lover of abstruser researches than
the hackneyed subjects of the school, and we had really re-
ceived such extensive and judicious instructions from the
Abbe during our early years that it would have been scarcely
possible for any of us to have fallen into a thorough distaste
for intellectual pursuits. In the examination I foresaw that
much which I had previously acquired might be profitably
displayed, — much secret and recondite knowledge of the cus-
toms and manners of the ancients, as well as their literature,
which curiosity had led me to obtain, and which I knew had
never entered into the heads of those who, contented with
their reputation in the customary academical routine, had
rarely dreamed of wandering into less beaten paths of learn-
ing. Fortunately too for me, Gerald was so certain of success
that latterly he omitted all precaution to obtain it; and as
none of our schoolfellows had the vanity to think of contest-
ing with him, even the Abbe seemed to imagine him justified
in his supineness.
The day arrived. Sir William, my mother, the whole aris-
tocracy of the neighbourhood, were present at the trial. The
Abbe came to my room a few hours before it commenced : he
found the door locked.
" Ungracious boy, " said he, " admit me ; I come at the ear-
nest request of your brother Aubrey to give you some hints
preparatory to the examination."
"He has indeed come at my wish," said the soft and silver
voice of Aubrey, in a supi^licating tone : " do admit him, dear
Morton, for my sake ! "
"Go," said I, bitterly, from within, "go: ye are both my
foes and slanderers ; you come to insult my disgrace before-
hand; but perhaps you will yet be disappointed."
" You will not open the door ? " said the priest.
"I will not; begone."
"He will indeed disgrace his family," said Montreuil,
"He will disgrace himself," said Aubrey, dejectedly.
I laughed scornfully. If ever the consciousness of strength
is pleasant, it is when we are thought most weak.
The greater part of our examination consisted in the an-
swering of certain questions in Avriting, given to us in the
three days immediately previous to the grand and final one;
for this last day was reserved the paper of composition (as it
was termed) in verse and prose, and the personal examination
in a fcAv showy, but generally understood, subjects. When
Gerald gave in his paper, and answered the verbal questions,
a buzz of admiration and anxiety went round the room. His
person was so handsome, his address so graceful, his voice so
assured and clear, that a strong and universal sympathy was
excited in his favour. The head-master publicly compli-
mented him. He regretted only the deficiency of his pupil
in certain minor but important matters. I came next, for I
stood next to Gerald in our class. As I walked up the hall,
I raised my eyes to the gallery in which my uncle and his
party sat. I saw that my mother was listening to the Abbe,
whose eye, severe, cold, and contemptuous, was bent upon me.
But my uncle leaned over the railing of the gallery, with
his plumed hat in his hand, which, when he caught my look,
he waved gently, — as if in token of encouragement, and with
an air so kind and cheering, that I felt my step grow prouder
as I approached the conclave of the masters.
"Morton Devereux," said the president of the school, in a
calm, loud, austere voice, that filled the whole hall, "we have
looked over your papers on the three previous days, and they
have given us no less surprise than pleasure. Take heed and
time how you answer us now."
At this speech a loud murmur was heard in my uncle's
party, which gradually spread round the hall. I again looked
up: my mother's face was averted; that of the Abbe was im-
penetrable ; but I saw my uncle wiping his eyes, and felt a
strange emotion creeping into my own. I turned hastily
away, and presented my paper; the head-master received it,
and, putting it aside, proceeded to the verbal examination.
Conscious of the parts in which Gerald was likely to fail, I
had paid especial attention to tlie minutiae of scholarship, and
my forethought stood me in good stead at the present moment.
My trial ceased; my last paper was read. I bowed, and re-
tired to the other end of the hall. I was not so popular as
Gerald; a crowd was assembled round him, but I stood alone.
As I leaned against a column, with folded arms, and a counte-
nance which I felt betrayed little of my internal emotions,
my eye caught Gerald's. He was very pale, and I could see
that his hand trembled. Despite of our enmity, I felt for
him. The worst passions are softened by triumph, and I
foresaw that mine was at hand.
The whole examination was over. Every boy had passed
it. The masters retired for a moment; they reappeared and
reseated themselves. The first sound I heard was that of my
own name. I was the victor of the day: I was more; I was
one hundred marks before my brother. My head swam round;
my breath forsook me. Since then I have been placed in
many trials of life, and had many triumphs ; but never was I
so overcome as at that moment. I left the hall; I scarcely
listened to the applauses with which it rang. I hurried to
my own chamber, and threw myself on the bed in a delirium
of intoxicated feeling, which had in it more of rapture than
anything but the gratification of first love or first vanity can
Ah! it would be worth stimulating our passions if it were
only for the pleasure of remembering their effect; and all vio-
lent excitement should be indulged less for present joy than
for future retrospection.
My uncle's step was the first thing which intruded on my
"Od's fish, my boy," said he, crying like a child, "this is
fine work, — 'Gad, so it is. I almost wish I were a boy my-
self to have a match with you, — faith I do, — see what it is
to learn a little of life ! If you had never read my play, do
you think you would have done half so well ? — no, my boy, I
sharpened your wits for you. Honest George Etherege and
I, — we were the making of you! and when you come to be a
great man, and are asked what made you so, you shall say,
'My uncle's play; ' 'Gad, you shall. Faith, boy, never
smile ! Od's fish, I '11 tell you a story as a jjropos to the
present occasion as if it had been made on purpose. Roches-
ter and I and Sedley were walking one day, and — entre nous
— awaiting certain appointments — hem ! — for my part I was
a little melancholy or so, thinking of my catastrophe, — that
is, of my play's catastrophe; and so, said Sedley, winking at
Eochester, 'Our friend is sorrowful.' 'Truly,' said I, seeing
they were about to banter me, — for you know they were arch
fellows, — 'truly, little Sid' (we called Sedley Sid), 'you are
greatly mistaken ; ' — you see, Morton, I was thus sharp upon
him because when you go to court you will discover that it
does not do to take without giving. And then Rochester said,
looking roguishly towards me, the wittiest thing against Sedley
that ever I heard ; it was the most celebrated bon mot at court
for three weeks; he said — no, boy, od's fish, it was so sting-
ing I can't tell it thee; faith, I can't. Poor Sid; he was a
good fellow, though malicious, — and he's dead now. I'm
sorry I said a word about it. Nay, never look so disap-
pointed, boy. You have all the cream of the story as it is.
And now put on your hat, and come with me. I 've got leave
for you to take a walk with your old uncle."
That night, as I was undressing, I heard a gentle rap at the
door, and Aubrey entered. He approached me timidly, and
then, throwing his arms round my neck, kissed me in silence.
I had not for years experienced such tenderness from him;
and I sat now mute and surprised. At last I said, with the
sneer which I must confess I usually assumed towards those
persons whom I imagined I had a right to think ill of: —
" Pardon me, my gentle brother, there is something porten-
tous in this sudden change. Look well round the room, and
tell me at your earliest leisure what treasure it is that you
are desirous should pass from my possession into your own."
"Your love, Morton," said Aubrey, drawing back, but ap-
parently in pride, not anger; "your love: I ask nothing
"Of a surety, kind Aubrey," said I, "the favour seems
somewhat slight to have caused your modesty such delay in
requesting it. I tliink you have been now some years nerving
your mind to the exertion."
" Listen to me, Morton, " said Aubrey, suppressing his emo-
tion; "you have always been my favourite brother. From
our lirst childhood my heart yearned to you. Do you remem-
ber the time when an enraged bull pursued me, and you, then
only ten years old, placed yourself before it and defended me
at the risk of your own life ? Do you think I could ever for-
get that, — child as I Avas ? — never, Morton, never .' "
Before I could answer the door was thrown open, and the
Abbe entered. "Children," said he, and the single light of
the room shone full upon his unmoved, rigid, commanding
features — " children, be as Heaven intended you, — friends and
brothers. Morton, I have wronged jou, I own it; here is my
hand : Aubrey, let all but early love, and the i:)resent promise
of excellence which your brother displays, be forgotten."
With these words the priest joined our hands. I looked on
my brother, and my heart melted. I flung myself into his
arms and wept.
" This is well, " said Montreuil, surveying us with a kind of
grim complacency, and, taking my brother's arm, he blest us
both, and led Aubrey away.
That day was a new era in my boyish life. I grew hence-
forth both better and worse. Application and I having once
shaken hands became very good acquaintance. I had hitherto
valued myself upon supplying the frailties of a delicate frame
by an uncommon agility in all bodily exercises. I now strove
rather to improve the deficiencies of my mind, and became
orderly, industrious, and devoted to study. So far so well;
but as I grew wiser, I |^rew also more wary. Candour no
longer seemed to me the finest of virtues. I thought before
I spoke: and second thought sometimes quite changed the
nature of the intended speech ; in short, gentlemen of the next
century, to tell you the exact truth, the little Count Devereux
became somewhat of a hyj)ocrite !
A CONTEST OF ART AND A LEAGUE OF FRIENDSHIP. TWO
CHARACTERS IN MUTUAL IGNORANCE OF EACH OTHER, AND
THE READER NO WISER THAN EITHER OF THEM.
The Abbe was now particularly courteous to me. He made
Gerald and myself breakfast with him, and told us nothing
was so amiable as friendship among brothers. We agreed to
the sentiment, and, like all philosophers, did not agree a bit
the better for acknowledging the same first principles. Per-
haps, notwithstanding his fine speeches, the Abbe was the real
cause of our continued want of cordiality. However, we did
not fight any more : we avoided each other, and at last became
as civil and as distant as those mathematical lines which
appear to be taking all possible pains to approach one another
and never get a jot the nearer for it. Oh! your civility is
the prettiest invention possible for dislike! Aubrey and I
were inseparable, and we both gained by the intercourse. I
grew more gentle, and he more masculine ; and, for my part,
the kindness of his temper so softened the satire of mine that
I learned at last to smile full as often as to sneer.
The Abb6 had obtained a wonderful hold over Aubrey ; he
had made the poor boy think so much of the next world, that
he had lost all relish for this. He lived in a perpetual fear
of offence: he was like a chemist of conscience, and weighed
minutiae by scruples. To play, to ride, to run, to laugh at a
jest, or to banquet on a melon, were all sins to be atoned for;
and I have found (as a penance for eating twenty-three cher-
ries instead of eighteen) the penitent of fourteen standing,
barefooted, in the coldest nights of winter, upon the hearth-
stones, almost utterly naked, and shivering like a leaf, be-
neath the mingled effect of frost and devotion. At first I
attempted to wrestle with this exceeding holiness, but finding
my admonitions received "with, great distaste and some horror,
I suffered my brother to be happy in his own way. I only
looked with a very evil and jealous eye upon the good Abbe,
and examined, while I encouraged them, the motives of his
advances to myself. What doubled my suspicions of the
purity of the priest was my perceiving that he appeared to
hold out different inducements for trusting him to each of us,
according to his notions of our respective characters. My
brother Gerald he alternately awed and persuaded, by the sole
effect of superior intellect. With Aubrey he used the mech-
anism of superstition. To me, he, on the one hand, never
spoke of religion, nor, on the other, ever used threats or per-
suasion, to induce me to follow any plan suggested to my
adoption; everything seemed to be left to my reason and my
ambition. He would converse with me for hours upon the
world and its affairs, speak of courts and kings, in an easy
and unpedantic strain ; point out the advantage of intellect in
acquiring power and controlling one's species; and, whenever
I was disposed to be sarcastic upon the human nature I had
read of, he supported my sarcasm by illustrations of the hu-
man nature he had seen. We were both, I think (for myself
I can answer), endeavouring to pierce the real nature of the
other; and perhaps the talent of diplomacy for which, years
afterwards, I obtained some applause, was first learnt in my
skirmishing warfare with the Abbe Montreuil.
At last, the evening before we quitted school for good ar-
rived. Aubrey had just left me for solitary prayers, and I
was sitting alone by my fire, when Montreuil entered gently.
He sat himself down by me, and, after giving me the saluta-
tion of the evening, sank into a silence which I was the first
"Pray, Abbe," said I, "have one's j^ears anything to do
with one's age ? "
The priest was accustomed to the peculiar tone of my
sagacious remarks, and answered dryly, —
"Mankind in general imagine that they have."
" Faith, then, " said I, " mankind know very little about tlie
matter. To-day I am at school, and a boy; to-morrow I
leave scliool ; if I hasten to town I am presented at court ; and
lo ! I am a man ; and this change within half-a-dozen changes
of the sun ! therefore, most reverend father, I humbly opine
that age is measured by events, not years."
"And are you not happy at the idea of passing the age of
thraldom, and seeing arrayed before you the numberless and
dazzling pomps and pleasures of the great world?" said Mon-
treuil, abruptly, fixing his dark and keen eye upon me.
"I have not yet fully made up my mind whether to be
happy or not," said I, carelessly.
"It is a strange answer;" said the priest; "but" (after a
pause) "you are a strange youth: a character that resembles
a riddle is at your age uncommon, and, pardon me, unamiable.
Age, naturally repulsive, requires a mask; and in every
wrinkle you may behold the ambush of a scheme: but the
heart of youth should be open as its countenance ! However,
I will not weary you with homilies; let us change the topic.
Tell me, Morton, do j'ou repent having turned your attention
of late to those graver and more systematic studies which
can alone hereafter obtain you distinction ? "
"No, father," said I, with a courtly bow, "for the change
has gained me your good opinion."
A smile, of peculiar and undefinable expression, crossed the
thin lips of the priest; he rose, walked to the door, and saw
that it was carefully closed. I expected some important
communication, but in vain; pacing the small room to and fro,
as if in a musing mood, the Abbe remained silent, till, paus-
ing opposite some fencing foils, which among various matters
(books, papers, quoits, etc.) were thrown idly in one corner
of the room, he said, —
" They tell me that you are the best fencer in the school —
is it so ? "
"I hope not, for fencing is an accomplishment in which
Gerald is very nearly my equal," I replied.
" You run, ride, leap, too, better than any one else, accord-
ing to the votes of your comrades ? "
"It is a noble reputation," said I, "in which I believe I am
only excelled by our huntsman's eldest son."
" You are a strange youth, " repeated tlie priest ; " no pursuit
seems to give you pleasure, and no success to gratify your vanity.
Can you not tliink of any triumph which would elate you ? "
I was silent.
" Y"es," cried Montreuil, approaching me, — "yes," cried he,
" I read your heart, and I respect it ; these are petty competi-
tions and worthless honours. You require a nobler goal, and
a more glorious reward. He who feels in his soul that Fate
has reserved for him a great and exalted part in this world's
drama may reasonably look with indifference on these paltry
rehearsals of common characters."
I raised my eye, and as it met that of the priest, I Avas ir-
resistibly struck with the proud and luminous expression
which Montreuil's look had assumed. Perhaps something
kindred to its nature was perceptible in my oAvn; for, after
surveying me with an air of more approbation than he had
ever honoured me with before, he grasped my arm firmly, and
said, "Morton, you knoAV me not; for many years I have not
known you: that time is past. No sooner did your talents
develop themselves than I was the first to do homage to their
power: let us henceforth be more to each other than we have
been; let us not be pupil and teacher; let us be friends.
Do not think that I invite you to an unequal exchange
of good offices: you may be the heir to wealth and a dis-
tinguished name; I may seem to you but an unknown and
undignified priest; but the authority of the Almighty can
raise up, from the sheepfold and the cotter's shed, a power,
which, as the organ of His own, can trample upon sceptres
and dictate to the supremacy of kings. And / — /" — the
priest abruptly paused, checked the warmth of his manner, as
if he thought it about to encroach on indiscretion, and, sink-
ing into a calmer tone, continued, "yes, I, Morton, insignifi-
cant as I appear to you, can, in every path through this
intricate labyrinth of life, be more useful to your desires than
you can ever be to mine. I offer to you in my friendship a
fervour of zeal and energy of power which in none of your
equals, in age and station, you can hope to find. Do you
accept my offer ? "
"Can you doubt," said I, with eagerness, "that I wouhl
avail myself of the services of any man, however displeasing
to me, and worthless in himself ? How, then, can I avoid
embracing the friendship of one so extraordinary in knowledge
and intellect as yourself ? I do embrace it, and with rapture."
The priest pressed my hand. "But," continued he, fixing
his eyes upon mine, "all alliances have their conditions: I
require implicit confidence ; and for some years, till time gives
you experience, regard for your interests induces me also to
require obedience. Name any wish you may form for worldly
advancement, opulence, honour, the smile of kings, the gifts
of states, and — I — I will pledge myself to carry that wish
into effect. Never had eastern prince so faithful a servant
among the Dives and Genii as Morton Devereux shall find in