Benjamin Disraeli.

Endymion : a novel online

. (page 30 of 41)
Online LibraryBenjamin DisraeliEndymion : a novel → online text (page 30 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


to her heart, and left the room in silence.

When she arrived at her hotel, her brother was leaving the
house. His countenance was disquieted ; he did not greet her
with that mantling sunniness of aspect which was natural to him
when they met.

" I have made all my farewells," she said ; " and how have
you been getting on ? " And she invited him to re-enter the
hotel.



306 END YMION.

" I am ready to depart at this moment," he said, somewhat
fiercely, "and was only thinking how I could extricate myself
from that horrible dinner to-day at the Count of Ferroll's."

"Well, that is not difficult," said Myra; "you can write a
note here if you like, at once. I think you must have seen
quite enough of the Count of Ferroll and his friends."

Endymion sat down at the table and announced his intended
non-appearance at the count's dinner, for it could not be called
an excuse. When he had finished, his sister said :

" Do you know, we were nearly having a traveling companion
to-morrow ? "

He looked up with a blush, for he fancied she was alluding
to some previous scheme of Lady Montfort. " Indeed ! " he
said, " and who ? "

" Adriana."

"Adriana!" he repeated, somewhat relieved; "would she
leave her family ? "

" She had a fancy, and I am sure I do not know any com-
panion I could prefer to her. She is the only person of whom
I could truly say that every time I see her, I love her more."

" She seemed to like Paris very much," said Endymion, a
little embarrassed.

"The first part of her visit," said Lady Roehampton, "she
liked it amazingly. But on my arrival and Lady Montfort's, I
fear, broke up their little parties. You were a great deal with
the Neuchatels before we came? "

"They are such a good family," said Endymion, " so kind,
so hospitable, such true friends. And Mr. Neuchatel himself is
one of the shrewdest men that probably ever lived. I like
talking with him, or rather, I like to hear him talk."

"Oh, Endymion! " said Lady Roehampton, "if you were to
marry Adriana, my happiness would be complete."

" Adriana will never marry," said Endymion; "she is afraid
of being married for her money. I know twenty men who
would marry her if they thought there was a chance of being
accepted; and the best man, Eusford, did make her an offer-
that I know. And where could she find a match more suitable?
high rank, and large estate, and a man that everybody speaks
well of."

"Adriana will never marry except for the affections; there
you are right, Endymion; she must love and she must be loved;
but that is not very unreasonable in a person who is young,
pretty, accomplished, and intelligent."



END YMION. 307

" She is all that," said Endymion, moodily.

" And she loves you," said Lady Roehampton.

Endymion rather started, looked up for a moment at his sis-
ter, and then withdrew as hastily an agitated glance, and then
with his eyes on the ground said, in a voice half murmuring, and
yet scoffingly : " I should like to see Mr. Neuchatel's face were
I to ask permission to marry his daughter. I suppose h . would
not kick me down-stairs; that is out of fashion; but he cer-
tainly would never ask me to dinner again, and that would be a
sacrifice."

"You jest, Endymion; I am not jesting."

"There are some matters that can only be treated as a jest;
and my marriage with Miss Neuchatel is one."

" It would make you one of the most powerful men in Eng-
land," said his sister.

"Other impossible events would do the same."

" It is not impossible ; it is very possible," said his sister,
"believe me, trust in me. The happiness of their daughter is
more precious to the Neuchatels even than their fortune."

" I do not see why, at my age, I should be in such a hurry to
marry," said Endymion.

" You cannot marry too soon, if by so doing you obtain the
great object in life. Early marriages are to be deprecated,
especially for men, because they are too frequently imprudent ;
but when a man can marry while he is young, and at once
realize, by so doing, all the results which successful time may
bring to him, he should not hesitate."

" I hesitate very much," said Endymion. " I should hesitate
very much, even if affairs were as promising as I think you may
erroneously assume."

" But you must not hesitate, Endymion. We must never for-
get the great object for which we two live, for which, I believe,
we were born twins to rebuild our house; to raise it from
poverty, and ignominy, and misery, and squalid shame, to the
rank and position which we demand, and which we believe we
deserve. Did I hesitate when an offer of marriage was
made to me, and the most unexpected that could have occurred ?
True it is, I married the best and greatest of men, but I did not
know that when I accepted his hand. I married him for your
sake, I married him for my own sake, for the sake of the house
of Ferrars, which I wished to release and raise from its pit of
desolation. I married him to secure for us both that oppor-



3 o8 ENDYMION.

tunity for our qualities which they had lost, and which I be-
lieved, if enjoyed, would render us powerful and great."

Endymion rose from his seat and kissed his sister. " So long
as you live," he said, "we shall never be ignominious."

" Yes, but I am nothing ; I am not a man, I am not a Ferrars
The best of me is that I may be a transient help to you. It is
you who must do the deed. I am wearied of hearing you
described as Lady Roehampton's brother, or Lord Roehamp-
ton's brother-in-law. I shall never be content till you axe
greater than we are, and there is but only one, and one imme-
diate way of accomplishing it ; it is by this marriage and a
marriage with whom ? with an angelic being ! "

" You take me somewhat by surprise, Myra. My thoughts
have not been upon this matter. I cannot fairly describe my-
self at this moment as a marrying man."

" I know what you mean. You have female friendships, and
I approve of them. They are invaluable to youth, and you
have been greatly favored in this respect. They have been a
great assistance to you ; beware lest they become a hinderance.
A few years of such feelings in a woman's life are a blazoned
page ; and when it is turned she has many other chapters,
though they may not be as brilliant or adorned. But these few
years in a man's life may be, and in your case certainly would
be, the very marrow of his destiny. During the last five or six
years, ever since our emancipation, there has been a gradual but
continuous development in your life. All has been preparatory
for a position which you have acquired. That position may
lead to anything in your case, I will still believe, to every-
thing but there must be no faltering. Having crossed the
Alps, you must not find a Capua. I speak to you as I have not
spoken to you of late, because it was not necessary. But here
is an opportunity which must not be lost. I feel half inspired,
as when we parted in our misery at Hurstley, and I bade you,
poor and obscure, go forth and conquer the world."

Late on the night of the day, their last day in Paris, on which
this conversation took place, Endymion received a note in a
well-known handwriting, and it ran thus :

" If it be any satisfaction to you to know that you made me
very unhappy by not dining here to-day, you may be gratified.
I am very unhappy. I know that I was unkind this morning,
and rude ; but as my anger was occasioned by your leaving me,
iny conduct might annoy, but surely could not mortify, you. I



END YMION. 309

shall see you to-morrow, however early you may depart, as I
cannot let your dear sister leave Paris without my embracing
her. Your faithful friend,

" BERENGARIA."

CHAPTER LXXVI.

IN old days, it was the habit to think and say that the House
of Commons was an essentially " queer place," which no one
could understand until he was a member of it. It may, per-
haps, be doubted whether that somewhat mysterious quality
still altogether attaches to that assembly. " Our own Reporter "
has invaded it in all its purlieus. No longer content with giv-
ing an account of the speeches of its members, he is not
satisfied unless he describes their persons, their dress, and their
characteristic mannerisms. He tells us how they dine, even
the wines and dishes which they favor, and follows them into
the very mysteries of their smoking-room. And yet there is,
perhaps, a certain fine sense of the feelings and opinions and
humors of this assembly which cannot be acquired by hasty
notions, and necessarily superficial remarks, but must be the
result of long and patient observation, and of that quick sym-
pathy with human sentiment, in all its classes, which is involved
in the possession of that inestimable quality styled tact.

When Endymion Ferrars first took his seat in the House of
Commons, it still fully possessed its character of enigmatic tra-
dition. It had been thought that this, in a great degree, would
have been dissipated by the Reform Act of 1832, which sud-
denly introduced into the hallowed precinct a number of
individuals whose education, manners, modes of thought, were
different from those of the previous inhabitants, and in some
instances, and in some respects, quite contrary to them. But
this was not so. After a short time it was observed that the
old material, though at first much less in quantity, had leavened
the new mass ; that the tone of the former House was imitated
and adopted, and that at the end of five years, about the time
Endymion was returned to Parliament, much of its serene and
refined and even classical character had been recovered.

For himself, he entered the chamber with a certain degree of
awe, which, with use, diminished, but never entirely disap-
peared. The scene was one over which his boyhood even had
long mused, and it was associated with all those traditions of
genius, eloquence, and power that charm a?nd inspire youth.



310 ENDYMION.

His practical acquaintance with the forms and habits of the
House, from his customary attendance on their debates as pri-
vate secretary to a cabinet minister, was of great advantage to
him, and restrained that excitement which dangerously accom-
panies us when we enter into a new life, and especially a life of
such deep and thrilling interests and such large proportions.
This result was also assisted by his knowledge, at least by sight,
of a large proportion of old members, and by his personal and
sometimes intimate acquaintance with those of his own party
There was much in his position, therefore, to soften that
awkward feeling of being a freshman, which is always embar-
rassing.

He took his place on the second bench of the Opposition
side of the House, and nearly behind Lord Roehampton. Mr.
Bertie Tremaine, whom Endymion encountered in the lobby as
he was escaping to dinner, highly disapproved of this step. He
had greeted Endymion with affable condescension. " You
made your first mistaka to-night, my dear Ferrars. You should
have taken your seat below the gangway and near me on the
Mountain. You, like myself, are a man of the future."

" I am a member of the Opposition. I do not suppose it
signifies much where I sit."

" On the contrary, it signifies everything. After this great
Tory reaction there is nothing to be done now by speeches,
and, in all probability, very little that can be effectually opposed.
Much, therefore, depends upon where you sit. If you sit on
the Mountain, the public imagination will be attracted to you ;
and when they are aggrieved, which they will be in good time,
the public passion, which is called opinion, will look to you for
representation. My advice to my friends now is to sit together
and say nothing, but to profess through the press the most
advanced opinions. We sit on the back bench of the gangway,
and we call ourselves the Mountain."

Notwithstanding Mr. Bertie Tremaine's oracular revelations,
Endymion was very glad to find his old friend Trenchard gen-
erally his neighbor. He had a high opinion of Trenchard's
judgment and acquirements, and he liked the man. In time,
they always managed to sit together. Job Thornberry took his
seat below the gangway, on the Opposition side, and on the floor
of the House. Mr. Bertie Tremaine had sent his brother, Mr.
Tremaine Bertie, to look after this new star, whom he was anxious
should ascend the Mountain ; but Job Thornberry, wishing to
know whether the Mountain was going for " total and imme-



ENDYMION. 311

diate," and not obtaining a sufficiently distinct reply, declined
the proffered intimation. Mr. Bertie Tremaine, being a landed
proprietor as well as leader of the Mountain, was too much
devoted to the rights of labor to sanction such middle-class
madness.

"Peel will have to do it," said Job. "You will see."

" Peel now occupies the position of Neckar," said Mr. Bertie
Tremaine, " and will make the same fiasco. Then you will at
last have a popular government."

" And the rights of labor ? " asked Job. " All I hope is, I
may have got safe to the States before that day."

" There will be no danger," said Mr. Bertie Tremaine. " There
is this difference between the English Mountain and the French :
the English Mountain has its government prepared. And my
brother spoke to you because, when the hour arrives, I wished
to see you a member of it."

" My dear Endymion," said Waldershare, "let us dine together
before we meet in mortal conflict, which I suppose will be soon.
I really think your Mr. Bertie Tremaine the most absurd being
out of Colney Hatch."

" Well, he has a purpose," said Endymion ; " and they say
that a man with a purpose generally sees it realized."

"What I do like in him," said Waldershare, "is this revival
of the Pythagorean system, and leading a party of silence.
That is rich."

One of the most interesting members of the House of Com-
mons was Sir Fraunceys Scrope. He was the father of the
House, though it was difficult to believe that from his appear-
ance. He was tall, and had kept his distinguished figure ; a
handsome man, with a musical voice, and a countenance now
benignant, though very bright, and once haughty. He still
retained the same fashion of costume in which he had ridden
up to Westminster more than half a century ago, from his seat
in Derbyshire, to support his dear friend Charles Fox ; real
top-boots, and blue coat and buff waistcoat. He was a great
friend of Lord Roehampton, had a large estate in the same
county, and had refused an earldom. Knowing Endymion, he
came and sat by him one day in the House, and asked him,
good-naturedly, how he liked his new life.

" It is very different from what it was when I was your age.
Up to Easter we rarely had a regular debate, never a party
division ; very few people came up indeed. But there was a
good deal of speaking on all subjects before dinner. We had



3 i2 END YM ION.

the privilege then of speaking on the presentation of petitions
at any length, and we seldom spoke on any other occasion.
After Easter there was always at least one great party fight.
This was a mighty affair, talked of for weeks before it came off,
and then rarely an adjourned debate. We were gentlemen,
used to sit up late, and should have been sitting up somewhere
else had we not been in the House of Commons. After this
party fight, the House for the rest of the session was a mere
club."

" There was not much business doing then," said Endymion.

"There was not much business in the country then. The
House of Commons was very much like what the House of
Lords is now. You went home to dine, and now and then
came back for an important division."

"But you must always have had the estimates here," said
Emdymion.

" Yes, but they ran through very easily. Hume was the first
man who attacked the estimates. What are you going to do with
yourself to-day ? Will you take your mutton with me ? You must
come in boots, for it is now dinner-time, and you must return, I
fancy. Twenty years ago, no man would think of coming down
to the House except in evening dress^ I remember so late as
Mr. Canning, the minister always came down in silk stockings and
pantaloons, or knee-breeches. All things change, and quoting
Virgil, as that young gentleman has just done, will be the next
thing to disappear. In the last Parliament we often had Latin
quotations, but never from a member with a new constituency.
I have heard Greek quoted here, but that was long ago, and a
great mistake. The House was quite alarmed. Charles Fox
used to say as to quotation * No Greek* as much Latin as
you like; and never French under any circumstances. No
English poet unless he had completed his century.' These
were like some other rules, the unwritten orders of the House of
Commons."

CHAPTER LXXVII.

WHILE parliaments were dissolving and ministries forming,
the disappointed seeking consolation and the successful enjoy-
ing their triumph, Simon, Earl of Montfort, who just missed
being a great philosopher, was reading "Topsy Turvy," which
infinitely amused him ; the style so picturesque and lambent !
the tone so divertingly cynical i And if the knowledge of



ENDYMION. 313

society in its pages was not so distinguished as that of human
nature generally, this was a deficiency obvious only to a com-
paratively limited circle of its readers.

Lord Montfort had reminded Endymion of his promise to
introduce the distinguished author to him, and accordingly,
after due researches as to his dwelling-place, Mr. Ferrars called
in Jermyn Street and sent up his card, to know whether Mr. St.
Barbe would receive him. This was evidently not a matter-of-
course affair, and some little time had elapsed when the maid-
servant reappeared and beckoned to Endymion to follow her
up-stairs.

In the front drawing-room of the first floor, robed in a flam-
ing dressing-gown, and standing with his back to the fire and
to the looking-glass, the frame of which was incrusted with
cards of invitation, the former colleague of Endymion received
his visitor with a somewhat haughty and reserved air.

"Well, I am delighted to see you again," said Endymion.

No reply but a ceremonious bow.

"And to congratulate you," Endymion added, after a mo-
ment's pause ; " I hear of nothing but of your book ; I sup-
pose one of the most successful that have appeared for a long
time."

4< Its success is not owing to your friends," said Mr. St.
Barbe, tartly.

" My friends!" said Endymion; " what could they have done
to prevent it?"

" They need not have dissolved Parliament," said Mr. St.
Barbe, with irritation. " It was nearly fatal to me ; it would
have been to anybody else. I was selling forty thousand a
month; I believe more than Gushy ever reached; and so they
dissolved Parliament. The sale went down half at once and
now you expect me to support your party!"

" Well, it was unfortunate ; but the dissolution could hardly
have done you any permanent injury, and you could scarcely
expect that such an event could be postponed even for the
advantage of an individual so distinguished as yourself."

" Perhaps not," said St. Barbe, apparently a little mollified,
" but they might have done something to show their regret
at it."

"Something!" said Endymion, "what sort of thing?"

"The prime-minister might have called on me, or at least
have written to me a letter. I want none of their honors ; I
have scores of letters every day suggesting that some high dis-



314 ENDYMION.

tinction should be conferred on me. I believe the nation ex-
pects me to be made a baronet. Bye-the-bye, I heard the other
day you had got into Parliament; I know nothing of these
matters; they do not interest me; is it the fact?"

" Well, I was so fortunate, and there are others of your old
friends Trenchard, for example."

" You do not mean to say that Trenchard is in Parliament ! "
said St. Barbe, throwing off all his affected reserve. " Well, it
is too disgusting ! Trenchard in Parliament, and I obliged to
think it a great favor if a man gives me a frank ! Well, repre-
sentative institutions have seen their day. That is something."

" I have come here on a social mission," said Endymion, in a
soothing tone. " There is a great admirer of yours who much
wishes to make your acquaintance. Trusting to our old inti-
macy, of which, of course, I am very proud, it was even hoped
that you might waive ceremony, and come and dine."

" Quite impossible," exclaimed St. Barbe, and turning round,
he pointed to the legion of invitations before him. "You see,
the world is at my feet. I remember that fellow Seymour Hicks
taking me to his rooms to show me a card he had from a count-
ess. What would he say to this ? "

" Well, but you cannot be engaged to dinner every day," said
Endymion; "and you really may choose any day you like."

" Well, there are not many dinners among them, to be sure,"
said St. Barbe. " Small and earlies. How I hate a * small and
early ! ' Shown into a room where you meet a select few who
have been asked to dinner, and who are chewing the cud like
a herd of kine, and you are expected to tumble before them to
assist their digestion ! Faugh ! No, sir; we only dine out now,
and we think twice, I can tell you, before we accept even an
invitation to dinner. Who's your friend ? "

"Well, my friend is Lord Montfort."

"You do not mean to say that! And he is an admirer of
mine ? "

"An enthusiastic admirer."

" I will dine with Lord Montfort. There is no one who ap-
preciates so completely and so highly the old nobility of Eng-
land as myself. They are a real aristocracy. None of the
pinch-beck pedigrees and ormolu titles of the Continent. Lord
Montfort is, I think, an earl. A splendid title, earl ! an Eng-
lish earl; count goes for nothing. The Earl of Montfort! An
enthusiastic admirer of mine. The aristocracy of England,
especially the old aristocracy, are highly cultivated. Sympathy



ENDYMION. 315

from such a class is to be valued. I care for no other I have
always despised the million of vulgar. They have come to me,
not I to them, and I have always told them the truth about
themselves, that they are a race of snobs, and they rather like
being told so. And now for your day ? "

" Why not this day, if you be free ? I will call for you about
eight, and take you in my brougham to Montfort House."

" You have got a brougham ! Well, I suppose so, being a
member of Parliament ; though I know a good many members
of Parliament who have not got broughams. But your family,
I remember, married into the swells. I do not grudge it you.
You were always a good comrade to me. I never knew a man
more free from envy than you, Ferrars, and envy is an odious
vice. There are people I know who, when they hear I have
dined with the Earl of Montfort, will invent all sorts of stories
against me, and send them to what they call the journals of
society."

" Well, then, it shall be to-day," said Endymion, rising.

" It shall be to-day, and, to tell you the truth, I was thinking
this morning where I should dine to-day. What I miss here
are the cafes. Now in Paris you can dine every day exactly as
it suits your means and mood. You may dine for a couple of
francs in a quiet, unknown street, and very well, or you may
dine for a couple of napoleons in a flaming saloon, with win-
daws opening on a crowded boulevard. London is deficient in
dining capability."

" You should belong to a club. Do you not ? "

" So I was told by a friend of mine the other day one of
your great swells. He said I ought to belong to the Athenaeum,
and he would propose me, and the committee would elect me
as a matter of course. They rejected me and elected a bishop.
And then people are surprised that the Church is in danger ! "



CHAPTER LXXVIII.

The condition of England at the meeting of Parliament in
1842 was not satisfactory. The depression of trade in the
manufacturing districts seemed overwhelming, and continued
increasing during the whole of the year. A memorial from
Stockport to the queen in the spring represented that more
than half the master spinners had failed, and that no less than
three thousand dwelling-houses were untenanted. One fifth of



316 ENDYMION.

the population of Leeds were dependent on the poor-rates.
The state of Sheffield was not less severe, and the blast-fur-
naces of Wolverhampton were extinguished. There were
almost daily meetings at Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds, to
consider the great and increasing distress of the country, and to
induce ministers to bring forward remedial measures; but as
these were impossible, violence was soon substituted for passion-
ate appeals to the fears or the humanity of the government.
Vast bodies of the population assembled in Stalybridge and



Online LibraryBenjamin DisraeliEndymion : a novel → online text (page 30 of 41)