that never breathed God's air ! 'Twill be
thousands of pities if she falls into the hands
of a coxcomb; or worse still, turns out too
delicate to live in the old place, every stick
and stone about which she's so fond of."
" And is this charming heiress, then, really
supposed to be consumptive?" chimed in
Mrs Clutterbuck, suspecting with truth that
the subject was particularly disagreeable to
" I don't know about consumptive, "
replied the squire with a shake of the head.
si Young ladies, my dear ma'am, as you're
like to know better than I am, are apt to
164 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
be 'stericky and nervous when a little touched
in the tender part; and then, some jackass
of a Apothecary, as nervous as themselves, is
pretty sure to talk about the lungs being
affected, (to be sure they're next door to the
heart !) and pack 'em off to Madeira or Nice,
or some of your foreign hothouses."
" Miss Hecks worth, then, has an attach-
ment?" persisted Mrs Clutterbuck.
"Not as any one seems to know of, not
as I've any right to say ! " replied Towler.
" It's high treason, you know, to talk about
young ladies' attachments. Only for the
last six months, or so, she's been going off
and off, till she's no longer like herself; and
though as fond of her native place, as if
she'd been kneaded out of its clay, it was
Miss Lucy, I fancy, who insisted on winter-
ing in Italy."
" Just like George ! " exclaimed Lady
Hillingdon, who having recovered her self-
possession, chose to rally in hopes of making
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 165
the best of a bad cause. "I was sure love
was at the bottom of his projects. This
season in town, he and Miss Hecksworth
were always talking together over the de-
lights of Rome and Naples."
The deep blush that overspread the cheeks
of both her daughters at this outrageous
falsehood, was simply attributed by those
present to fear lest their mother should
prematurely betray the attachment subsist-
ing between her son and the heiress
Even Mrs Clutterbuck was now convinced.
Little as she had seen of Mary and Agatha,
their single-mindedness was not to be mis-
taken. From that moment, she renounced
all hope of seeing a viscountess's coronet
figure at some future moment at the corner
of dear Car's, pocket handkerchief!
The lecture bestowed next day by Lady
Hillingdon on her daughters, for having
undertaken commissions for such a person as
poor Jane Cleve, did not prevent them
166 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
during the short sojourn they made at a
London hotel on their return from Hindon
Manor, previous to their departure for Italy,
from despatching to Glebestone a few favou-
rite books, a token of their interest in the
pursuits of their new friend.
Meanwhile, every preliminary was arranged
for the journey by George ; who, where his
own interests were at stake, could be as alert
as other people.
Lord Hillingdon was unable to come and
take leave of his family previous to their
departure : he was officiating as one of the
stewards of Doncaster races! But he des-
patched a letter of affectionate farewell to his
wife; seven out of the eleven lines of which
contained an account of the Leger, and a
message to George about a favourite mare
he was to leave behind.
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 167
Volte ce qui subsiste encore de cette ville puissante, un
lugubre squelette ! Voila ce qui reste encore d'une vaste
domination, un souvenir vain et obscur.
Cette femme attirait par son merite, encore plus par ses
travers. LA TOUCHE.
LEDYARD, and Leyden, and other travellers
in the wilderness, have left on record the
exquisite sensation of finding balm poured
into their wounds, in savage countries, by the
hand of woman. How often is the mercy
they praise so highly, emulated in civilized
life, by courtesies that cheer the sinking spirits
of the sad, the diffident, and the despised !
The blood of Jervis Cleve, which had
begun to stagnate in his veins, suddenly
attained a freer course on finding himself an
168 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
object of concern to one so generally dis-
tinguished as the Countess von Adlerberg.
He was not only placed on better terms with
society, but redeemed from insignificance in
his own estimation.
For the countess held a prominent place in
the three aristocracies recognized by his code
of philosophy. Talent, beauty, and high
descent, conspired to raise her above the
vulgar level. Uniting, moreover, with these
advantages the consequence derivable from
a large fortune and influential position,
there was little fear of her being influenced
by paltry considerations of fashionable opinion
to withdraw her favour from any one it pleased
her to favour.
Both at Naples and elsewhere, the position
of this highborn and highminded woman was
exceptional. An orphan at an early age,
from the premature death of parents who
had expended their lives and fortunes in
wanton excess, the fine estates attached to her
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 169
hereditary title had been redeemed from em-
barrassment by the prudent and generous
management of her guardian, the old Count
von Adlerberg. At fifteen, she had become
a rich heiress ; and one year later, rewarded
with her hand the noble protection he had
accorded to her desolate childhood.
The marriage was her own act and deed.
Pretendants to her hand had presented them-
selves, one and all of whom were speedily
dismissed by the decided refusal of the wilful
young countess. For while the careful guar-
dian was improving her estates, he had allowed
her nature to run wild ; and her excellent
abilities remained uncultivated, open to the
successive impulses of every wild caprice;
now mad for music, now devoted to study,
now infatuated by poetical visions, and as full
of childlike passion as Goethe's Bettina.
On her positive declaration that, woo her
who might, she would wed no other man than
the indulgent guardian by whom her whims
VOL. II. I
170 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
had been so unhappily fostered, the count,
with the high honour becoming his high caste,
set clearly before her the disappointments and
embitterments likely to arise from a step,
suggested, he assured her, only by her ignor-
ance of her claims, and the undeveloped
nature of her feelings. But Crescentia was
positive. Her resolution became confirmed by
opposition ; and, almost as much perplexed as
gratified by the excess of his happiness, the
Count von Adlerberg, at sixty-five years of
age, received the hand of a lovely girl, younger
by nearly half a century.
But the man who had predicted that she
would repent her precipitate marriage was
thenceforward so apprehensive lest his pro-
phesy should be fulfilled, that be became the
slave of her who had chosen him for her lord
and master ! Every wish of the young coun-
tess was forestalled; every caprice obeyed.
He, who had hitherto governed her estates
with such prudent economy, seemed to fancy,
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 171
now that they had become his own, that his
fortune could not be too prodigally lavished
on his young wife.
Nothing she could dream of, but was pro-
cured for her. Whether her gusts of fancy
aspired to the possession of costly jewels, new
furniture, objects of virtu, or the intimate
society of the intellectual and refined, (the
greatest whether in birth or genius of her
country,) her desires were instantly gratified.
The result of such uxorious infatuation was,
as may have been anticipated, that the fine
estates of the fair Crescentia became as much
injured by the generosity of her husband, as
by the prodigality of her parents.
On the brink of ruin, she was the first to
discover the evil and detect the cause. But
she was also the first to stop short their
course of extravagance ; to suggest reform,
and organize amendments. While the pro-
perty was at nurse, with the certainty of
eventual extrication, she persuaded the count
172 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
to compromise with his pride by accepting a
diplomatic appointment at Naples, out of
reach of the mortifications arising from their
reduced establishment at Vienna.
Till then, neither had fully appreciated the
value of the other. Crescentia became aware
for the first time of the high estimation enter-
tained by Prince Metternich of her hus-
band's abilities ; and the Count von Adler-
berg, on seeing his beautiful wife enjoying
her residence at Naples, contented, happy,
hopeful, had the satisfaction of perceiving
that the homage with which she was sur-
rounded at Vienna, and which at times had
excited some uneasiness in his bosom, had not
succeeded in estranging from him the affec-
tions of his eccentric but charming wife.
She was consequently more than ever
adored. Her caprices became graces in the
sight of her husband, and even her faults
were sacred. Secure of her regard, secure of
his own honour, he rather favoured than
PEERS ANDPAR VENUS. 173
opposed her engouement for whatever was
eminent in literature, or the intellectual
world. It was a tic, a mania, more harmless
than many which might have lightened the
leisure or vivified the ennui of a woman of
fashion, without children to engross her affec-
tions, and wedded to an old comrade of her
Such was the woman who, on his first arri-
val at Vienna, Prince Lobanoff had hoped to
find accessible to the brilliancy of his fortunes
and humbleness of his homage ; nor was there
a sacrifice he would not have made to capti-
vate her attention. But rather as a triumph
than a happiness; and in her perception of
this, consisted the double safety of the
countess. The hard egotism, penetrating
with all its angles through the courtly suit
of velvet he assumed to place himself at her
feet, disgusted her generous nature.
It was in deference to her prepossessions,
that Lobanoff had squandered so enormous a
174 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
sum in obtaining the sanction of the Neapo-
litan government to his excavations at
Edrazza. The fair Crescentia had expressed
a wish to see an antique temple and Koman
habitation laid bare in their original and
primitive sanctity ; and having secured the
means of gratifying her graceful whim, his
next step was to obtain the services of one
less ignorant than himself, to serve as guide
explanatory to their investigations.
The untoward state of the weather at once
suspended his project, and invalidated its
results. The favour lavished by the countess
on one whom he regarded in a light little
more honourable than any other hireling in
his establishment, excited his amazement.
He was not jealous, but indignant. And
when at length a change of temperature
admitted the accomplishment of his projects,
so far from soliciting the presence of the
Countess von Adlerberg to witness the magni-
ficent surprise he had prepared for her, he
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 175
rejoiced in his power of retaliating upon the
slights she had shown him, by proceeding to
Portici without any intimation of his plans.
To be compelled to apply to the rival he
so thoroughly despised for explanations con-
cerning the antiquities unveiled before his
eyes, was somewhat mortifying. Still there
was comfort in seeing Monsieur Gervais re-
placed in a comparatively subordinate situ-
ation. Nor was Lobanoff capable of appre-
ciating the fervour of enthusiasm that glowed
in the young man's cheeks, or the lambent
light of genius that brightened his eyes, On
finding himself thus face to face with the
olden time, the time of glory and great-
ness, and rescuing from darkness objects of
art on which the sun of antiquity had
deigned to shine.
As the workmen proceeded in their labours,
while Cleve stood enraptured and entranced
by every fresh discovery, the prince was loud
in his expressions of disappointment. The
176 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
objects they had the fortune to obtain were
far from chef-d'ceuvres, and by his impe-
rious commands to the workmen to hasten
their movements, his impatience proved the
means of destruction to many a precious
relic. The lamps were mean, the statues
small and clumsy, the vases insignificant;
appropriate, of course, to the household
of a private individual, instead of bearing
proportion, as Lobanoff had expected, to
the enormous sum he had expended ; and in
the spleen of his soul he seemed to make it a
reproach to his cicerone, that the proportions
of the domestic architecture of the ancients
were so diminutive ; or rather, that his re-
search into the remains of a provincial town,
had not discovered an imperial palace.
Jervis, who felt as if beholding a sacri-
legious hand laid on the ark of the covenant,
when he saw those inartificial but precious
lares and penates turned up by the workmen,
which he approached with pious reverence,
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 177
flung aside again by the Russian prince as
unsightly rubbish, had scarcely patience to
behold Lobanoff wrapt in his cloak of sables,
twirling his coarse tobacco-scented musta-
chios, and shrugging his shoulders with con-
tempt, at the littleness of the Romans !
" These people must have been pygmies!"
said he. "What paltry habitations, what
narrow streets, what miserable temples ! A
single palace at St Petersburg covers more
space than a whole quarter of ancient Rome !
The greatest pleasure one derives from wit-
nessing the insignificance of the ancients is
from learning to disregard the falsehoods
of poets and historians which have created for
them a false reputation."
"Scythian!" thought the poor scholar,
forced to listen with patience to the grum-
blings of one who manifestly expected to have
laid his hand on a museum of Etruscan vases,
or dug up, like a parsnip, a Medicean Yenus
or Belvedere Apollo. Nor to such a man did
178 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
he think it necessary to vindicate the moral
greatness of those virtual ancestors of the
lofty spirits of all climes and countries, as
contrasted with the miserable myrmidons
crawling about the gigantic streets and dis-
proportioned halls of the Eussian capital.
Lucky was the chance, however, which had re-
lieved him from the presence of the exigeante
countess, and precluded all sympathy between
him and the savage partner of his enterprise.
For, unable to stifle the emotions produced by
curious insight thus afforded him into the
mysteries of ages, he addressed to his friend
the librarian of the Benedictines, by whom it
had been secured to his enjoyment, a letter
containing not only the most copious details
of the excavations achieved under his inspec-
tion, but a comparative view of the times
with which they were connected. Insensibly
his narrative and commentary expanded into
a philosophical essay of the first order.
As a matter of duty to the world of letters
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 179
sufficiently urgent to dispense with the sanc-
tion of the writer, this paper was transmitted
by Fra Bartolomeo to be read by Signor
Carlo Bonucci at an extraordinary meeting
of the Koyal Academy of Sciences, held for
the purpose; and scarcely had Jervis re-
turned to the Via Santa Lucia, thankful for
the consummation of his task, which entitled
him to make his bow to the surly prince,
when he found himself beset with proposals
by the leading librarians of the city for the
copyright of his pamphlet.
Refusal had been useless, for spurious
copies were already in circulation. All
that remained for him, therefore, was to
perfect and polish his work for the press ;
and it afforded some compensation for the
publicity thus forced upon him, to be able
to inscribe his hasty work to the accomplished
lady whose enlightened tastes had afforded
the original suggestion of the excavations at
180 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
Before the little work and its dedication
appeared, Jervis hastened to exchange for his
former humble domicile the uneasy Palazzo
of Prince Lobanoff ; and though patron and
protege parted on courteous terms, the steadi-
ness with which Monsieur Gervais declined the
princely remuneration transmitted to him by
Lobanoff (through the hands of his chasseur /)
was resented as an act of insolent defiance.
Indifferent, meanwhile, to any renown result-
ing from his compulsory authorship, in a city
where he stood alone in the throng, the only
satisfaction anticipated by Jervis from the pub-
lication of his work, was that it enabled him
to transmit to his friend Fairfax an account
of his discoveries; while, in his heart of
hearts, he was a little nervous concerning
the manner in which his homage would be
accepted by the Countess von Adlerberg.
It was almost a relief to him to perceive
that she contemplated the work solely with
reference to himself.
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 181
" A la bonne heure /" said she, on receiving
a richly bound copy from his hands. " Here
is something to assign you an European re-
putation. The subject is one in which all
countries are interested. Now that Latin is
no longer the universal language of scholars,
as in the quaint old days of Erasmus, it is
hard for an Englishman of letters to obtain
due notice on the continent. But my hus-
band is henceforward entitled to present you
to his colleagues, and assign you the same
high place in our circle which you already
hold in my opinion."
As if to neutralize the intoxicating effects
of these flatteries, the letter in which Philip
Fairfax acknowledged the receipt of his work,
was replete with the most cutting severity.
" Your essay is a masterly one, my dear
Jervis," said he ; " but with all my heart
and soul do I wish every word of it unwrit-
ten! You, a freeborn Englishman, pledged
by every tie of duty to remain a devoted
182 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
son of Alma Mater as well as a high-minded
and independent scholar, to be dedicating
your pages to a mere great lady a fantastical
woman of fashion, the representative too
of what Byron so emphatically calls "the
leaden mace of Austria ! " Nay, worse still,
to have hired yourself out as curiosity-
monger to a brute of a Eussian, a fellow
who buys antiquarianism and virtu in Italy,
as he would buy hock at Johannisberg or
pate de foie gras at Strasburg! Fie upon
you ! You, who owe yourself to your college,
to attach yourself as cicerone to the house-
hold of a quass-bibbing Boyar ! But no ! I
cannot believe you have so far forgotten what
is due to the dignity of your vocation, as
being placed above all necessity for such a
derogation by the liberality of your univer-
sity to receive the pay of a foreigner for
doing that which even a needy man of letters
would have undertaken as a pleasure. My
dear Cleve, send all these foreign connexions
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 183
of yours to the devil, or there will be an end
of your English career."
By such a charge, unfounded as it was,
Jervis Cleve was cut to the soul. Instead,
however, of replying to his friend that all
was as it ought to be, and that he had not
renounced a single cubit of his academic dig-
nity, he threw the letter indignantly aside.
" Accustomed to play the monitor, Fairfax
sees nothing in this world except through the
eye of a preceptor ! " cried he " Methinks he
might have found something to praise in my
unfortunate essay ! Greater scholars than
himself are pleased with it. He is mistaken,
however, if he fancies I have chained myself
to the galley of Cambridge drudgery for
the rest of my days. University distinctions
are not to me so all-absorbing as to render
me inaccessible to the clarion of conti-
nental fame. Fairfaix will never see me in
any other light than as the raw Fairford
Youth who presented himself at St John's.
184 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
With no horizon of his own beyond the quad-
rangle of his college, a tutor, the son of
a governess, his mind is governed by trite
axioms of morality, conned out of writing-
Content to dwell in decencies for ever,
he is not only incapable of social ambitions,
but grudges them to others qualified with
more comprehensive instincts."
From that day, in the fretfulness engen-
dered by the arbitrary assumptions of his
friend, Cleve ceased to make a virtue of ab-
senting himself from a world where honours
and caresses awaited him, in place of the pins'
pricks captiously inflicted on his self-love.
" A la bonne heure ! " was once more the
exclamation of the sprightly Ambassadress,
when at length he made his appearance at
her diplomatic soirees. And allowing him
no leisure for embarrassment, she hastened to
present him as a friend to the select circle of
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 185
her friends, as well as in the character of the
learned Pundit of Edrezza to the more ex-
tensive and dignified associates of the Count
Thus favourably announced, and bearing
in his person still fairer credentials from the
partial hand of Nature, needs it to add that
the young foreigner was universally wel-
comed? In continental society, distinction of
any kind constitutes an endowment for
Genius has an aristocracy of its own. In
England, artists are well paid, and great men
have their grave bespoken in the sepulchre of
kings. But in other countries, they have
their place in the warm and breathing favour
of society. The greatest take them by the
hand. The fairest take them to their heart.
The claims of Cleve to the good will of
the Neapolitans moreover were of an especial
kind. They not only knew him to be one of
the first scholars of one of the most enlightened
countries in the world, but he had poured the
186 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
effulgence of his genius on one of their na-
tional trophies. Though exposed to some dis-
pleasure by the frankness with which his little
treatise pointed out the narrow prudence of
the Neapolitan government in despoiling the
ancient Roman city of its objects of art, and
ranging them labelled in a museum, instead of
leaving them, under sufficient custody, in the
spot which the will of heaven had preserved
inviolate for two thousand years, as a species
of mark or standard whereby to measure the
civilization of mankind, the spot where, each
being devoted to its appropriate purpose, these
specimens of antique art acquired a tenfold
value, his exposition of the meanness of
every public monument completed by repub-
lican Rome, in contrast with the glorious
edifices raised by the Caesars, the Pantheon,
the Colosseum, and other immortal structures
reconciled him to the good opinion of the
The academies, on the other hand, could
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 187
not sufficiently admire the accuracy of his
taste, and purity of his style. Accustomed,
like the lonians, to assign a threefold form to
grace, they readily discriminated the concise
simplicity of diction with which he had ex-
pounded his novel theory concerning the
origin of volcanic phenomena, as contrasted
with the many coloured flow of eloquence
characterizing his historical recital ; which,
like some affluent stream, reflected at once
upon its surface the glowing tints of the
passing clouds, and the glittering pebbles
seen through its limpid waters, the march of
time with its mutation of centuries, and the
immutable grandeur of eternity.
No sooner had the fair Neapolitans as-
certained by ocular demonstration that the
Admirable Crichton by whose genius an-
tiquity had been raised from the dead, and
the domestic life of the contemporaries of
Titus, placed in life-like relief before their
eyes, was no musty pedant, but a giovinetto
188 PEERS AND PARVENUS.
cavalier, a handsome young man, worthy
the admiration of that fervid clime where
beauty constitutes a worship, than Cleve
found himself beset with invitations.
" I have procured tickets for you for the
bal nobile of the Accademia," whispered the
countess. " No remonstrance! It is my
pleasure, it is everybody's pleasure that you
should be there."
And when, half trembling at the idea of the
reproof he was likely to incur from Philip
Fairfax, should such a dereliction from his
principles become known to his rigid mentor,
and half-ashamed of his capitulation of
conscience at the " I will " of an arbitrary
woman, he entered that dazzling scene, that
wilderness of glittering mirrors and gleaming
chandeliers, the first thing intimated to him
by his noble patroness was that the Royal
Family had issued a command for his pre-
And now, indeed, he repented of his com-
PEERS AND PARVENUS. 189
pliance with the caprice of the charming
ambassadress ! He felt thoroughly out of his
element. The reserved scholar blushed at
the celebrity of his own name. Like the
cannon that recoils from the thunder and