PEERS AND PARVENUS,
AUTHOR OF "MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS," "STORY
OF A ROYA^, ^VOURITE," V*c.
1 Ce gros Suisse ay^rrt'epp'ort^rteur, s.v cabtofc u pajiei' rompli OB grenouilles,
dont il comptait me regaler, mes valets de bouche lui montrrent qu'il s'y
trouvait meles des crapauds."
" ' Ma foi,' repondit-il, ' tant pis pour eux.'"
MEMOIRES DE MONTLCC.
IN THKEE VOLUMES.
HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,
GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
PRIlffE} 1 & RB*1EI.A> CEMGHT,
PEERS AND PARVENUS.
Quant e bella giorinezza,
Che si fugge tutta via!
Chi vorra esser lieto, sia,
Di doman non e certezza!
LORENZO DI MEDICI.
" Is Lord John Howard really riding
to-day?" inquired Cleve of Fairfax, as they
were returning late in the afternoon, or
rather early in the evening, a few days after
the foregoing conversation, from an arch-
aeological expedition to the islands of Tor-
cello and Mazorho.
" Certainly ! The duke called for him
before I set out. As the Clevelands are
staying at the same hotel with him, they
VOL. II. B
2 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
usually come together to fetch Lord John,
on their way to the Lido."
"Yet I could almost swear," persisted
Jervis, " that I caught a glimpse of his face,
just now, in the gondola that passed us
at such speed."
c l** Ci V .TJiejigpridola with the ragged boatmen?
t , t .Impossible^ my dear Cleve! the duke
1 *! .'Uses the gciidolU'of the hotel di Grande Bre-
tagna, whose boatmen we should know by
their badge. The gondola we are in, is the
one belonging to our Palazzo."
"Still, I think it was Lord John!" per-
"What an idea!" cried Fairfax, with a
laugh. " He would have seen us, and pulled
up. And what on earth should he be doing in
a hack gondola, at this hour of the evening? "
" Returning, perhaps, from some visit. "
" Lord John is the shyest fellow in the
world ! I have great difficulty in forcing him
to pay the visits he ought to pay."
PEERS AND PARVENUS.
" He may be more tractable about those
he ought not to pay !" retorted Cleve, care-
lessly, and by no means intending a sarcasm.
But Fairfax, fancying his young friend might
have obtained a deeper insight than himself
into the habits of his charge, began to feel
anxious. Too proud to avow his mistrust
or pry into secrets not spontaneously con-
fided to him, he fell into an uneasy fit of
" I suppose it is because I am what the
Duke of Attleborough calls a snob," resumed
he, after a few minutes 7 pause, " that I am
tempted to believe we never diverge from the
wisdom of our ancestors unless jto our cost.
Lord Wrexhill, though the most upright, ex-
cellent, and in some respects wisest of men,
is full of the crotchets of the progress school.
His favourite theory is the necessity of march-
ing with the times, and forming systems to
square with the altered circumstances of
4 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
" Surely that opinion scarcely deserves to
"be called a crotchet?" said Cleve.
"When carried to the extremes to which
he extends it. Lord Wrexhill pretends that
the discovery of steam has done for the body,
what printing did for the mind; and that
the facilities of railroads, enabling us to see
those things of which formerly we were only
able to read, half a young man's education
ought to be locomotive."
" Since the time of the Tudors, no young
nobleman was ever considered accomplished
unless his education were completed by the
" Ay, ay !_ but they went abroad to ac-
quire exterior polish, to learn to dance,
fence, fiddle, and come back varnished with
dilettanteism. Whereas Lord Wrexhill seems
to fancy that history, geography, and sta-
tistics, are only to be perfected by flying in
a special train from city to city ; and that
(like some impresario dashing across Europe
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 5
to engage a favourite singer), a man desi-
rous to study Vitruvius's architecture, or the
stratification of the Righi, instead of taking
down, as formerly, a volume from his libra-
ry, ought to possess himself of a first-class
ticket and go and see! The marquis takes
into the account neither loss of time (for to
him waste of money is of little moment,) nor
the hazard incurred by chance company or in-
jurious examples ; and I verily believe But
at what are you smiling, my dear Jervis? "
A better dissembler than Cleve would
have answered " at your vehemence about
nothing ! " and thus confused his friend into
perceiving how rashly he was betraying his
uneasiness concerning the influence of the
But dissimulation of any kind was foreign
to the nature of Jervis; and without pre-
tending to disguise that he had suffered his
thoughts to stray from Fairfax's lengthy dis-
sertation, he replied his smile changing into
6 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
a blush as he proceeded, " I was thinking
that, in spite of what the Duke of Attle-
borough calls the Paulus-^Emilius- Snooks no-
menclature of the Americans, the Roman
names are peculiarly fitted to the air and
character of their women."
" You have seen so few Americans," replied
Fairfax, a little nettled, " that I presume you
generalize from a single instance. The deli-
cate paleness and classical outline of feature
of Mrs Cleveland, fulfil in short, your beau
ideal of Virginia ! "
" Exactly !" said Jervis, more pleased than
ashamed to have been so well divined.
" Tours, but not mine ! " added his friend.
" I admit that the most beautiful women I
have ever seen were Americans; nay, strange
to tell, that their beauty is of the most re-
fined and elegant order. I will admit even
more; that some of the best informed wo-
men, and endowed with the highest sense of
female duty, with whom I ever became ac-
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 7
quainted, were also American. But even
these, one and all, were wanting precisely in
the tone of mind I love to ascribe to the ma-
trons and virgins of antiquity. No simpli-
city of mind no instinctive nobleness, none
of the ease of untaught nature ! All that is
spontaneous in the graces of the old world, is,
with Americans, the result of schooling. Im-
possible to be more artificial, impossible to
i>e more superficial."
" I am half inclined to retort upon you,"
said his friend, " and tell you that you gene-
ralize from a single instance. Your dislike
of Mrs Cleve is apparent in every syllable of
" My dislike of Mrs Cleve? Why should
I dislike Mrs Cleve?"
" Why, indeed! unless that you are sick
of hearing Aristides called the just! The
enthusiasm her beauty creates has put you
out of humour."
" Far from it ! If she would only content
8 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
herself with such suffrages, they might ap-
plaud her in the theatres for aught I care,
and I would add my feeble vivat to the up-
roar of the public. But what does make me
a little irate is, that, in her passion for con-
quests, this Virginia of yours spares neither
age nor calling ! In order to secure the Duke
of Attleborough, through Lord John, she tries
to secure Lord John through myself. Even
I, grave, cold, stern, black-coated, grim-
visaged, and quizzical, am not quite exempt
from her coquetries."
" Surely you do not accuse that silent,
gentle, quiet woman of coquetry?"
" That demure woman, if you will ! But
her quietude is that of & cat waiting to
pounce upon its prey."
" My dear Fairfax."
" Illiberal, am I not? censorious unjust!
But note her as I have done, and you will
become equally clear-sighted to her artifices.
Observe how, while conversing with you or
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 9
any one else, apparently absorbed in what you
are saying, her changes of complexion avouch
her interest to be covertly addressed to every-
thing going on in the room of which, osten-
sibly, she takes no heed. While her mild,
soft, feminine voice is interrogating you con-
cerning the height of the Pyramids, or some
local question equally unexciting, you sud-
denly perceive by the panting of her bosom,
and the change of her marble-like paleness
to a crimson glow, that she is watching, in
an opposite glass, Lord John whisper to
your charming friend the Countess Michel-
ozzi; or receiving some masonic sign from
her odious husband."
Suspecting that Mrs Cleveland must have
inflicted the same sort of wound on Fair-
fax's self-love, of which he had himself been
recently guilty, by allowing her absence of
mind to become perceptible during one of his
didactic, tutor -like dissertations, Jervis, sa-
tisfied that all advocacy would be thrown
10 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
away, abandoned the fair Virginia to the
justness of her cause. He even determined
never to mention the Clevelands again to
Fairfax, while he remained in Venice ; and
with all his admiration of the serenity of
the fair American's classical countenance,
sincerely wished that she had not been
of the party. For if Fairfax had in some
degree invalidated the pleasure he took in
contemplating so rare a specimen of her
sex's charms, she was the means of destroying
his delight in the society of Fairfax. Un-
der the influence of his present misgivings,
Philip was no longer himself. His philo-
sophy was awry. His thoughts were be-
spoken. He was growing prejudiced, irri-
table, unjust. His eyes were on the look-
out for a serpent under every bush. A sure
instinct apprized him that his pupil was in
That evening, Cleveland, who, much as he
felt surprised at the preference evinced by
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 11
the two young noblemen for the society of
Cleve and Fairfax, (which he regarded as a
trait of college Master Goodchildism, which
they had not at present seen enough of the
world to rub off,) appeared so little disposed
to create disunion between them, that both
were scrupulously included in his parties
and invitations, accidentally renewed the
subject of the morning's discussion.
" I cannot enough applaud your wisdom,
Mr Cleve," said he, " in having chosen to
come and perfect in Italy and Greece the
studies of which I hear so much. For my
part I am an ignorant ass. But were I
inclined to study, I should seek the only
commentary worth reading upon Virgil, Ovid,
and Homer, in the cobalt skies and creamy
seas of the Mediterranean. No perfectly un-
derstanding the classics, eh, Fairfax, over a
Philip Fairfax, usually so mild and reason-
able, made a crabbed rejoinder. But his
12 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
host, who, perhaps, hoped to drive him home
in disgust with the party, was in a colloquial
" It is my especial interest," said he, " to
maintain this opinion; because the little I
ever learned was from eye-see and hear-
say ; and I suspect I know it all the better
for not having conned it in books. I despise
the musty old proverb, about a rolling stone
gathering no moss. One acquires a world of
knowledge by rolling about the world ! "
" Live and learn, eh?" rejoined the Duke
of Attleborough. " What's taught by experi-
ence is certainly less likely to be forgotten."
" The fact is that book-learning has had
its day!" added Cleveland, "and a long day it
was. Book-learning was indispensable to
the sedentary ages, the ages of Monkish su-
perstition, when people had not found out
that their blood circulated, or that the earth
revolved. But I foresee the time when all
but elementary works will be exploded,
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 13
all but the positive sciences become obsolete.
When one reflects that the wear and tear
of human intellect wasted upon the farrago
of casuistry and humbug, we call philosophy,
might have enabled our ancestors to survey
mankind from China to Peru at the tail of a
locomotive, that if the school of Archimedes
had been followed like that of Plato, America
would have been discovered and civilized two
thousand years ago, Pekin as familiar as
one's glove, and Paramatta macadamized
and asphalted, so that, by this time, human
nature would have had enough to eat and
wherewithal to be clothed, without encroach-
ing on or envying the privileges of fine folks
like my friend Attleborough by Jove! one
begins to consider literature as great a curse
as original sin ! "
The cheeks of Philip Fairfax glowed in
indignant silence. Was it not enough to be
frustrated in all his plans by the reckless,
dissolute habits of this attractive savage,
14 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
but that Cleveland must insidiously undermine
his standing in the estimation of his pupil ?
He was resolved, however, not to be be-
trayed into taking up the argument ; certain
that, when driven to the verge of defeat, his
antagonist would take refuge in the dare- all
defiance of his natural ferocity; or encase
himself, like any other primitive savage, in
an armour formed of glittering shells and
Luckily, the Duke of Attleborough per-
ceived that ill blood was rising on both
sides, and hastened to divert the conversa-
" I have had a letter to-day from Herbert
Davenport," said he, " and am glad to find
we are likely to meet him in the south."
" Herbert Davenport ? I should have
thought him the last man on earth to travel ! "
observed Lord John. " Indolent selfish."
" Come, come ! Don't be too hard upon
him ! " interrupted his cousin.
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 15
" At all events, too much attached to
his comfort to brave the hazards of the
" Herbert Davenport is certainly far from
indifferent to the merits of that excellent
fellow called Herbert Davenport!" rejoined
the duke, laughing. " But he is quite right !
He can't like him more than I do. However
you have hit your mark. He is not travelling
from inclination, but like a bagman, with
a view to business."
" A bagman ! What in the world do
you mean? "
" That Herbert's journey is a matter of
speculation. He has not favoured me with
his prospectus, for he can be close enough,
when he likes. But by putting together
certain hints I heard in London from his
cousin Dick, and the itinerary of his tra-
vels, I perceive that our friend is heiress-
" Just what I should have expected of
him," said Philip Fairfax, gravely.
16 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
And Cleve, who felt precluded from giving
utterance to his sentiments concerning any
member of the Davenport family, secretly
responded " And just what I should have
expected of him ! "
" And who may be the golden object of
his pursuit?" said Lord John Howard.
" There were half-a-dozen heiresses in the
London market, this season ; but I fancied
they were all disposed of, except that rock
of Gibraltar, the bankeress."
" Davenport's intended victim does not
appear to have been much in London,"
said the duke ; "at least not since she
was likely to attract attention, not since
her father's death made her an heiress."
Jervis Cleve felt the pulsation of his
heart quicken at this allusion.
" And I suspect Herbert is in hopes of
snapping her up before her merits transpire,"
added the duke. " The damsel is a sort
of connexion of his ; and he can't afford
to let her go out of the family."
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 17
" A Davenport, then?"
" A peu pres. Her mother, I believe,
was a Davenport."
" Then why does not Sir Richard try
his chance?" inquired the matter-of-fact
Dick don't want money. He can afford
to marry where he likes. At least so Lady
Hillingdon informed me, after taking an
accurate survey of his rent roll."
" It was from Lady Hillingdon, then,"
said Lord John, more gravely, " that you
heard this history of Herbert's heiress-
hunting ? "
" Precisely ! Not from any interest she
took in the matter, for Lady Hillingdon knows
better than to trouble her head about the
comings or goings of a younger son. But
she was at some pains to impress upon
my mind that the man so devoted to her
daughter had sacrificed to his attachment
18 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
a certain pretty 'heiress, whom his tender
aunt, her mother, desired no better than
to bestow, (as the law bestows one's goods
and chattels,) on her nearest of kin. The
charms of Miss Joddrell, she protested,
had prevailed over those of ten thousand
a-year, in solid acres ; a lucky thing for
Herbert, for whom a chance is thus left
of plucking the golden fruit."
By this time, both Jervis and Lord John
had begun to look conscious and uneasy.
The conversation was fortunately rendered
more general by the abrupt interposition
" On my first arrival in Europe," said
he, "I was assured, on the Continent, that
the English alone were mad enough to con-
sult their affections in the grand affair of
wedlock the affair, of all others, in a man's
life, demanding the most impartial exercise
of judgment. They told me that in other
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 19
countries, wedlock is based upon equality of
rank, fortune, age, and character ; leaving
it to the eccentricities of Great Britain to
submit to the influence of a pair of fas-
cinating eyes or a pretty foot, the mere
caprice of the moment, in the choice of a
companion for life. Younger then than now,
I applauded. There seemed something brave
and chivalrous in such rash self-sacrifice
to the power of beauty. But since I have
seen further into the way these things are
managed, I am of opinion that there is no
place under the sun where interested marri-
ages occur more frequently than in England."
A chorus of four voices instantly arose
" I expected you Britishers to oppose
me!" said he, laughing. " But facts, my
dear fellows, speak for themselves. Deny
if you can that the moment an heiress
makes her debut in London, she is worshipped
a thousand times beyond the choicest beauty !
20 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
not alone by spendthrifts and younger
brothers, but by the rich and great ; not
alone by the rich and great, but by their
dowager aunts and grandmothers, their sisters
and cousins. Wherever Miss Million shows
herself, there are the vultures gathered to-
gether ! However revolting in person, de-
based in connection, or unamiable in dis-
position, an heiress is sure of as many sui-
tors as Penelope."
" By Jove, I'm afraid you are right!" said
the Duke of Attleborough, laughing. " One
has seen a good deal of that sort of thing,
" But don't fancy, that, while attacking
the heiress-hunter, I am going to let off the
ladies; and there duke, your experience will
come to my aid. I only ask you, I only
ask all of you, whether a young English-
man of fortune is not set upon like a hare by
the hounds, by all the chaperons and mammas
of the fashionable world? Has he not wives
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 21
pressed upon him, like slaves in an eastern
market? Can he so much as look at or ad-
dress a pretty girl, without being catechized
concerning his intentions?"
The duke and his cousin smiled and
shrugged their shoulders. But Fairfax and
Cleve, less versed in the forms of the order
of society alluded to by Cleveland, stood their
ground for the honour of the sex.
" Such may be the case," said Philip, " in
the higher circles of society. But among the
middle classes, the classes which afford the
average sample of national character, inte-
rested matches are far more rare than mar-
riages of inclination."
"I doubt even that!" said Cleveland.
" Lookers-on see most of the game. And as
a foreigner, without other interest than that
of curiosity in your manners and customs, I
have convinced myself that the tradesman's
heiress, and farmer's heiress, is just as much
courted as the banker's or the baroness in her
22 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
own right. Nay more, that in the humbler
walks of life, if a man be tempted to marry
for love, he takes care to make his poor dow-
erless wife pay the penalty of his generosity
by reproaches for the remainder of her days."
" I'm afraid there is a good deal of truth
in your strictures," said the duke. " Let us
hope the vengeance is not reciprocal ; and that
Herbert's fair lady of ten thousand will deal
mercifully with her purchase."
" Your friend has hooked his prize then?"
inquired Cleveland, carelessly.
" Unless his prospects were pretty sure, he
would scarcely, I should imagine, have under-
taken so long a journey," replied the duke.
" Even her mother will probably be better
pleased with the attentions of a member of
her own family, than the addresses of a set
of threadbare Sicilian princes or cut-throat
" But surely there are plenty of young
Englishmen travelling in Italy, " cried Cleve-
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 23
land " to contend for the prize. Is the dam-
sel, for instance, of too humble a degree to
become Duchess of Attleborough or Lady John
" Those names, my dear fellow, may chance
to be bespoken," replied his grace with a
smile. But Lord John looked displeased and
" Excuse my Redskin ignorance if what I
have suggested is preposterous," added Cleve-
land noticing the overclouding of his brow.
" I am, you know, but a savage, a post-
script to the last edition of the 4 Last of the
" But there are other pretendants free to
take the lists," added the Duke of Attle-
borough cheerfully, as if to set the mis-
givings of his transatlantic friend at rest.
" Here is Cleve, for instance, " (at the
sound of his own name, Jervis suddenly
started forward as if previously absorbed in
reverie,) " Cleve, who has perhaps as yet
24 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
elected no lady for his thoughts. He looks
indignant! Nevertheless were the candidate
now at the head of the poll any other than
my friend Herbert, I should be apt to say to
Jervis, like the Duke to his guards at Wa-
terloo, " Up, lad, and at her ! "
" Not if your grace were aware that my
obligations to the Davenport family are such,
and such my own humbleness of origin, that
the mere supposition were an offence to the
young lady ! " observed Jervis, his usually
pale face becoming suddenly suffused.
" Eubbish ! " cried Cleveland, impetuously
shrugging his shoulders. " The love of a
good-looking young fellow, with good brains
in his head, and a good heart in his breast,
an offence to any girl on the face of the
earth? Rubbish ! "
"I, at least, should understand the ex-
tent of my own presumption," replied Jervis,
coldly. " Nay, so sacredly do I regard the
Davenport family in the light of benefac-
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 25
tors, that I admit it to be painful to me
even to hear the the young lady's name
rendered the object of pleasantry."
" Then by Jove we'll say no more about
her ! " cried the good-natured Duke of
And it was no sacrifice to change the
subject of conversation. For at that mo-
ment Mrs Cleveland, looking like some beau-
tiful statue of antiquity animated by sudden
intelligence, entered the room to absorb the
attention of all present.
26 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
Ne me parlez pas de ces Tilles dont 1'antiquite est fardee
comrae une femme de cour. Que m'importent ces con-
tours sans physionomie, ce doux langage, sans style arrete,
ces grands monumens peuples d'ombres, et ces mys-
teres sans croyances ? Autant vaudrait rpandre des
fleurs sur un cercueil vide et sonore ! L'ltalie est con-
mie, parcourue, epuisee, profanee. Elle n'a plus de secrets
pour vos reveries. JANIN.
Even in the instant of repair and health
The fit is strongest. Evils that take leave,
On their departure, most of all show evil.
IMPOSSIBLE to feel more strongly, more hum-
bly, or more proudly than Jervis Cleve, that
the object of the education bestowed upon
him was to render him a scholar for the
sake of scholarship. Devoid of all preten-
sion to figure in society above his sphere
under a sanction beyond his rights and pre-
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 27
tensions, the introductions forced upon him on
quitting Venice, were accepted solely with
a view to the furtherance of his literary and
In his own estimation, he was "a priest
for ever," vowed to the cultivation of
learning, as a Levite is devoted to the
altar. His errand in Italy was to see and
search, in order to connect the scattered
evidences of antiquity by the luminous chain
of modern enlightenment. And to effect this
with the sobriety of an abstracted mind, the
society into which he had been accidentally
thrown, would of course render impossible.
It was not so much the orgies of men
like Cleveland that were likely to endanger
his reason, as the enervation arising
from the frivolities of the gay world. As