The greater part of our examination consisted in
the answering of certain questions in writing, 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 few 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 complimented him. He regretted only the
deficiency of his pupil in certain minor but important
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 leant 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 encourage-
ment, and with an air so kind and cheering, that I felt
my step grow prouder, as I approached the conclave of
" 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 pre-
vious days, and they have given us no less surprise
than pleasure. Take heed and time how you answer
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 impenetrable, 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 the 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 retired 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 leant against a column, with folded arms, and a
countenance 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
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 gratifica-
tion of first love or first vanity can bestow.
Ah ! it would be worth stimulating our passions if
it were only for the pleasure of remembering their
effect ; and all violent excitement should be indulged
less for present joy than for future retrospection.
My uncle's step was the first thing which intruded
on my solitude.
"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 myself 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 1 no, my boy ; I sharpened your wit? 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'll tell you a story as a
propos to the present occasion as if it had been made
on purpose. Rochester, and I, and Sedley, were
walking one day, and, entre nous, awaiting certain
appointments hem ! for my part, I was a little mel-
ancholy 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 Eochester said,
looking roguishly towards me, the wittiest thing against
Sedley that ever I heard it was the most celebrated
hntt mot at court for three weeks he said No, boy,
od's fish, it was so stinging 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 disappointed, 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 expe-
rienced 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
portentous 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 apparently in pride, not anger ; " your love I ask
" Of a surety, kind Aubrey," said I, " the favour
seems somewhat slight to have caused your modesty
such delay in requesting it. I think you have been
now some years nerving your mind to the exertion."
" Listen to me, Morton," said Aubrey, suppressing
his emotion ; " you have always been my favourite
brother. From our first childhood, my heart yearned
to you. Do you remember 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 forget
that, child as I was ? Never, Morton, never !"
Before I could answer, the door was thrown open,
and the Abb6 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 you, I own it here is niy hand ; Aubrey,
let all but early love, and the present promise of excel-
lence 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 blessed us both, and led Aubrey away.
That day was a new era in my boyish life. I grew
henceforth both better and worse. Application and I,
having once shaken hands, became very good acquaint-
ance. 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 niy mind, and became orderly, in-
dustrious, and devoted to study. So far so well ; but
as I grew wiser, I grew 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 hypocrite !
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. Perhaps, notwithstanding his
fine speeches, the Abbe* was the real cause of our con-
tinued 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 dis-
like ! 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 Abbe 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 laxigh at a jest, or to ban-
quet 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 stand-
ing, barefooted, in the coldest nights of winter, upon the
hearth-stones, almost utterly naked, and shivering like
a leaf, beneath 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 trust-
ing him, to each of us, according to his notions of our
respective characters. My brother Gerald he alter-
nately awed and persuaded, by the sole effect of supe-
rior intellect. With Aubrey, he used the mechanism
of superstition. To me, he, on the one hand, never
spoke of religion, nor, on the other, ever used threats
or persuasion 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 iny sarcasm by illustrations of
the human 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 learned in my skirmishing
warfare with the Abbe* Montreuil.
At last, the evening before we quitted school for
good arrived. Aubrey had just left me for solitary
prayers, and I was sitting alone by my fire, when Mon-
treuil entered gently. He sat himself down by me,
and, after giving me the salutation of the evening, sank
into a silence which I was the first to break.
" Pray, Abbe"," said I, " have one's years anything
to do with one's age V
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 the matter. To-day I am at school, and a boy;
to-morrow I leave school 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 ! there-
fore, 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 Montreuil, 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, re-
quires 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 you repent having
turned your attention of late to those graver and more
systematic studies which can alone hereafter obtain
" Xo, 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, pausing opposite
some fencing-foils, which, among various matters (books,
papers, quoits, &c.), were thrown idly in one corner of
the room, he said,
VOL. L c
" 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,
according to the votes of your comrades?"
" It is a noble reputation," said I, " in which I be-
lieve I am only excelled by our huntsman's eldest son."
"You are a strange youth," repeated the priest;
" no pursuit seems to give you pleasure, and no success
to gratify your vanity. Can you not think of any
triumph which would elate you?"
I was silent.
"Yes," cried Montreuil, approaching me "yes,"
cried he, " I read your heart, and I respect it ; these
are petty competitions 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
was irresistibly struck with the proud and luminous
expression which Montreuil's look had assumed. Per-
haps something kindred to its nature was perceptible
in my own ; 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
know 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 un-
equal exchange of good offices you may be the heir to
wealth and a distinguished name I may seem to you
but an unknown and undignified priest ; but the
authority of the Almighty can raise \ip, from the Sheep-
fold and the cottar's shed, a power which, as the organ
of His own, can trample upon sceptres, and dictate to
the supremacy of kings. And / I " The priest
abruptly paused, checked the warmth of his manner,
as if he thought it about to encroach on indiscretion,
and, sinking into a calmer tone, continued : " Yes, I,
Morton, insignificant 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
" Can you doubt," said I, with eagerness, " that I
would avail myself of the services of any man, how-
ever 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 1 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 advance-
ment, opiilence, 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 me ; "but question me not of
the sources of my power; be satisfied when their
channel wafts you the success you covet. And more,
when I in my turn (and this shall be but rarely) request
a favour of you, ask me not for what end, nor hesitate
to adopt the means I shall propose. You seem startled.
Are you content at this understanding between us, or
will you retract the bond 1 "
" My father," said I, " there is enough to startle me
in your proposal; it greatly resembles that made by
the Old Man of the Mountains to his vassals ; and it
would not exactly suit my inclinations to be called
upon some morning to act the part of a private execu-
The priest smiled. "My young friend," said he,
" those days have passed ; neither religion nor friend-
ship requires of her votaries sacrifices of blood. But
make yourself easy; whenever I ask of you what
offends your conscience, even in a punctilio, refuse my
request. With this exception, what say you ? "
" That I think I will agree to the bond; but, father,
I am an irresolute person. I must have time to con-
"Be it so. To-morrow, having surrendered my
charge to your uncle, I depart for France."
"For France!" said I; "and how? Surely the
war will prevent your passage."
The priest smiled. ^Nothing ever displeased me
more than that priest's smile. " The ecclesiastics,"
said he, "are the ambassadors of Heaven, and have
nothing to do with the wars of earth. I shall find no
difficulty in crossing the Channel. I shall not return
for several months, perhaps not till the expiration of a
year. I leave you till then to decide upon the terms
I have proposed to you. Meanwhile, gratify my vanity
by employing my power. Xame some commission in
France which you wish me to execute."
" I can think of none ; yet stay" and I felt some
curiosity to try the power of which he boasted ' ' I
have read that kings are blessed with a most accom-
modating memory, and perfectly forget their favourites
when they can be no longer useful. You will see,
perhaps, if my father's name has become a Gothic
and unknown sound at the court of the Great King.
I confess myself curious to learn this, though I can
have no personal interest in it."
" Enough, the commission shall be done. And now,
my child, Heaven bless you, and send you many such
friends as the humble priest, who, whatever be his
failings, has at least the merit of wishing to serve those
whom he loves."
So saying, the priest closed the door. Sinking into
a reverie, as his footsteps died upon my ear, I muttered
to myself, " Well, well, my sage ecclesiastic, the game is
not over yet ; let us see if, at sixteen, we cannot shuffle
cards and play tricks with the gamester of thirty. Yet
he may be in earnest, and, faith, I believe he is ; but I
must look well before I leap, or consign my actions
into such spiritual keeping. However, if the worst
come to the worst if I do make this compact, and
am deceived if, above all, I am ever seduced, or led
blindfold into one of those snares which priestcraft
sometimes lays to the cost of honour, why, I shall have
a sword, which I shall never be at a loss to use, and it
can find its way through a priest's gown as well as a
Confess, that a youth who could think so promptly of
his sword was well fitted to wear one.
Rural Hospitality, an extraordinary Guest. A fine Gentleman
is not necessarily a Fool.
"\Vi-: were all three (my brothers and myself) preco-
cious geniuses. Our early instructions, under a man like
the Abbe at once learned and worldly, and the society
into which we had been initiated from our childhood,
made xis premature adepts in the manners of the world ;
and I, in especial, flattered myself that a quick habit
of observation rendered me no despicable profiter by
my experience. Our academy, too, had been more like
a college than a school; and we had enjoyed a licence
that seemed, to the superficial, more likely to benefit
our manners than to strengthen our morals. I do not
think, however, that the latter suffered by our freedom
from restraint. On the contrary, \ve the earlier learnt
that vice, but for the piquancy of its unlawfulness,
would never be so captivating a goddess; and our
errors and crimes, in after life, had certainly not their
origin in our wanderings out of academical bounds.
It is right that I should mention our prematurity of
intellect, because, otherwise, much of my language and
reflections, as detailed in the first book of this history,
might seem ill-suited to the tender age at which they
occurred. However, they approach, as nearly as pos-
sible, to my state of mind at that period; and I have,
indeed, often mortified my vanity, in later life, by
thinking how little the march of time has ripened my
abilities, and how petty would have been the intellec-
tual acquisitions of manhood if they had not brought
me something like content !
My uncle had always, during his retirement, seen as
many people as he could assemble out of the " mob of
gentlemen who live at ease." But on our quitting school,
and becoming men, he resolved to set no bounds to
his hospitality. His doors were literally thrown open;
and as he was by far the greatest person in the district
to say nothing of his wines and his French cook
many of the good people of London did not think it
too great an honour to confer upon the wealthy repre-
sentative of the Devereuxs the distinction of their
company and compliments. Heavens ! what notable
samples of court breeding and furbelows, did the crane-
neck coaches, which made our own family vehicle look
like a gilt tortoise, pour forth by couples and leashes
into the great hall while my gallant uncle, in a new
periwig, and a pair of silver - clocked stockings (a
present from a ci-devant fine lady), stood at the far
end of the picture-gallery to receive his visitors with
all the graces of the last age.
My mother, who had preserved her beauty wonder-
fully, sat in a chair of green velvet, and astonished the
courtiers by the fashion of a dress only just imported.
The worthy countess (she had dropped in England the
loftier distinction of Madame la Marechale) was, how-
ever, quite innocent of any intentional affectation of
the mode : for the new stomacher, so admired in
London, had been the last alteration in female garni-
ture at Paris, a month before my father died. Is not
this " Fashion" a noble divinity to possess such zeal-
ous adherents ! a pitiful, lackey-like creature, which
struts through one country with the cast-off finery of
As for Aubrey and Gerald, they produced quite an
effect and I should most certainly have been thrown
irrevocably into the background, had I not been born
to the good fortune of an eldest son. This was far
more than sufficient to atone for the comparative
plainness of my person; and when it was discovered
that I was also Sir William's favourite, it is quite
astonishing what a beauty I became ! Aubrey was
declared too effeminate; Gerald too tail And the