Edward Jenkins.

Lord Bantam online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryEdward JenkinsLord Bantam → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Ex Libris



/ had forgot one half, I do protest.
And now am sent again to speak the rest.







AH rights reserve,/.







I. Delicate Announcements . . ... i

II. Preliminaries 4

III. A Land Slip 10

IV. A Son X 6

V. The First Accident 18



I. A Human Feeding Bottle ...... 20

I[. Passages from a Diary ...... 24

III. Academic Groves ....... 32

IV. A Young Aristocrat ....... 34



I. Words versus Wit ....... 39

II. Digression. Benevolently dedicated to American

Readers 41



III. A Juvenile Tourist and Author 43

IV. A Scotch Tutor 47

V. Catholicism 59

VI. Agape 67

VII. Human Sympathy in its Influence on Catholicity . 70
VIII. Oxbridge. . -73

IX. The Radish Club 75

. X. The Essenes -77



I. Citizen Bantam 82

II. A Rank Communist ....... 85

III. A School for Fledgling Nobles . . . . .89

IV. A Proletarian Compliment 93

V. Newspaper Moralisers . ... 103
VI. Economic Notes ....... 105

VII. Land and Economy .112

VIII. A Startling Lecture "6



I. A Vacancy 123

II. Diversities of Operations ....... 127

III. Taking no Part in it I3 1

IV. Fencing 137

V. Party Tactics 139

VI. Marching Orders '43

VII. Too Much of a Good Thing 146

VIII. An Election Manoeuvre ...... 149



IX. A Fogy Candidate 155

X. Electoral Skirmishing 157

XI. Canvassing Extraordinary . . . . . 160

XII. Inconvenient Results of Popular Reform . . .165

XIII. Explosion of a totally new Fulminating Agent . 168

XIV. The Press express their Opinions . . . .172
XV. M.P . .174

XVI. Disaster to a Prig Ministry . . . . . 175

XVII. The Claims of Society on its Gods . . . 1 179

XVIII. Nobility and the Working Man . ' . . .182



I. Society at large ..... . 187

II. Developing the Mental and Moral Stamina of Woman 193

III. The Eclectic Religion ...... 202

IV. Eclecticism in Raptures ...... 207

V. By Civil Contract ........ 212

VI. An Eclectic Symposium . . . . . .216


I. Practical Antidotes of Philosophic Theories . . 222

II. The Creed of Party 224

III. Parliamentary Consciences ..... 229

IV. Priest Politics 230

V. Transmontane Secrets ...... 233

VF. A Willing Sacrifice 235

VII. Transmontane Reformers 236

VIII. A New Charter 237


IX. Death and Sunshine ....... 240

X. Party versus Principles ....... 244

XI. A Constitutional Crisis ....... 246



I. The Ruling Passion Strong in Death .... 254

II. In the Grain 257

III. Philosophy and Fact 259



I. Delicate Announcements.

/^\N the fifth day of April, A.D. 18 , the following
announcement appeared in the PICCADILLY JOUR-


FFOWLSMERE, Countess of, on the ist inst., at 20,
Hiton Place.

The excitement created by the event thus drily and
statistically chronicled was not confined to the dis-
tinguished lady and the little individual of the species
under which he was classified. In Lord Ffowlsmere's
noble breast, in that general bosom which every Eng-
lishman's family is said to possess, and in the society
wherein the Earl and Countess of Ffowlsmere were dis-
tinguished political leaders, the birth thus baldly sche-
duled sent a thrill of unusual feeling.

There is nothing wonderful in the birth of a son, even
among the higher aristocracy when married ; why, then?
may some inquisitive person ask, should there be any



rare excitement when to Lady Ffovvlsmere happened so
commonplace an accident? So might I, along with
several million compatriots of the Ffowlsmere family
have inquired, who were not sufficiently high-bred to
know the causes that agitate the inner circles of society :
and, as a fact, we should have been* as ignorant of the
trepidation as of its reason, had not the Piccadilly Journal
printed a few days after the advertisement the following
paragraph :

"We understand that the Countess of Ffowlsmere is progressing
very favourably since the birth of a son on the rst instant. It is a
curious fact that her ladyship's last child, the present Lord llantam,
and heir to the peerage, was born so far back as June, 18 , a period
of nearly nineteen years."

This delicate intimation awakened in my mind an
interest in the fate of the boy who seemed to have been
born out of time, and from that day to this I have
closely followed the changes of his history. My original
curiosity was to ascertain how Earl Ffowlsmere would
deal with the editor of the Piccadilly Journal or of the
medical review from which the information had been
clipped, but he appeared to have been too indifferent or
too haughty to horsewhip those egregious prigs. The
information, however, having come to me through this
public channel, I am entitled to use it. The disclosure
in question amply accounts for much emotion on the*
p^rt of the Earl and Countess of Ffowlsmere, and a very


pretty gossip throughout the vast bounds of their ac-

I have rather reflected on the Piccadilly Journal, but
I will report a conversation, overheard about the same
time at the Hon. Mrs. Trippety's ball. The personages
were none other than Lady Eaton, Mrs. Everard Ches-
harn, and those charming girls the two Misses Du Pont.

MRS. CHESKAM. Have you heard the news ? O, so
funny ! Lady Ffowlsmere has a son.

LAURA Du PONT. 0, nonsense, dear Mrs. Chesham.
You must be mistaken. Why, Lord Bantam is over
eighteen, and there are no other children. It's quite

MRS. CHESHAM. Hush, dear, you don't know what's
possible or impossible. I'm sure it's true, because our
carriage drove over the straw as we came here to-night.

LADY MARY EATON (convinced by this evidence).
I'm afraid it is true ; but really, is it not most extra-
ordinary ! If I were Lady Ffowlsmere, I could never
show my face in London again. Why, it's really shock-
ing ! It's like a loosis loosis

MRS. CHESHAM. Natura, dear ; you oughtn't to try
Latin words, you know. But, indeed, that expresses
exactly what it ought to be called poor thing !

Et cetera, ct cetera, et cetera.

If the female part of society was scandalized by the
frank announcement in the Piccadilly Journal, the Editor,
for his part, might have retorted on the ladies, that his


knowledge of society afforded him ground to believe
himself, as regarded that, quite en rapport with them.

# *

II. Preliminaries.

How Lady Ffowlsmere's baby came into the world is
a matter involving, on my part, such sacred and even
translunary knowledge, that I almost fear, if I proceed
to divulge the facts, I shall either lose credit with every
one for truthfulness, or be suspected of some Satanic
means of information.

The common bantling of Mrs. Ginx may come into
the world with somewhat rough concomitancy of circum-
stances, but what are the happy accidentia of a birth like
that of Lady Ffowlsmere's baby ?

As to Lady Ffowlsmere herself, she was the subject
of several months' astonishment. She looked at young
Lord Bantam when he came home from Winton with
sensations of awkward wonder. How long ago it seemed
since he was little baby Bantam, laughing and cough-
ing in her young ladyship's lap ! Now, after a pause of
nineteen years, after she had buried the hopes of rejuve-
nescent motherhood, when she had thrown herself with
rare ability and finesse into political intrigue, and had
become the social head of the feminine Prig clique
now, when she was almost regarded as a stateswtf//, or,


at all events, as a most noble, most charming, but con-
firmed political intriguante, here, by a ridiculous acci-
dent, she was obliged to await an event which she knew
would make h'er the laughing-stock of society. I am
bound to believe that she never spent so uncomfortable
a period in her life.

None the less needful was it to prepare for the coming
trouble in tnle aristocratic fashion.

Every morning at eleven, for six months, Sir Samuel
Hornbill, F.R.C.S., whose distinguished services to roy-
alty in difficulties had procured him honours rarely to
be won in any other medical or surgical field, visited her
ladyship and chatted with her for ten minutes, while
she, enveloped in a rich Cashmere robe, took chocolate
out of an elegant Dresden service, presented by as
pretty a little maid as ever distressed a footman's heart.
Later in the day, her ladyship took an airing. Gillow,
the coachman, was instructed to drive with double
caution, and above all to avoid taking her ladyship in
the direction of any street row, monster, or accident.
It was the groom's special duty to keep on the watch
for extraordinary instances of deformity or ugliness on
either side of- the way, and to warn the maid, who forth-
with diverted her ladyship's attention until they were
past the dangerous object. One thing of which the
Countess had a rooted dislike was red hair. The most
disagreeable relation of her husband's family was a red-
headed Marquis, and him she hated so cordially that


his hair could scarcely escape her resentment. Blinks,
therefore whose own locks were snow-white with floury
filth was strictly cautioned not to permit a carrot-head,
aristocratic or plebeian, to come within the range of his
mistress's vision. Poor Blinks ! He was sitting on the
box one day, at the Corner, when that pretty Jemima
Mosely, the under-nurse at Lord Evergood's, was passing
with the little lords and ladies, out for an airing, and
never saw the fiery locks of the Marquis of Arran, who,
recognising the carriage, actually rode up to the wheel,
and. uncovering his orange-tawny pate, bowed it por-
tentously forward almost in the Countess's lap. Lady
Ffowlsmere, giving a little shriek, buried her face in her
handkerchief. The Marquis thought she had gone mad,
and went oft" blazing like a turkey cock. Blinks, after
handing the Countess up the steps at Hiton Place^
packed his clothes and left without waiting for his
wages or any formal excommunication. He felt like a
man who had committed murder.

The children of rank and wealth are taken care of
before they are born. What are we to expect of the
babes whose mothers carry them where awful, devil-
features abound, and where grotesquerijss of Hell rav-
ine environments of their daily life?-

For months before the arrival of Lady Ffowlsmere's
baby, her ladyship was dangerously excited about his
natalia. Almost daily the carriage went to Williams's,
whose shop windows are a perfect and open instruction


to any observant bachelor in all the mysteries of femi-
nine or infantile equipment.

Ah! well I remember how one day sauntering in
Regent Street I saw my lovely little cousin Angela in
her pretty 'brougham drive up to such a shop, with its
white-lined windows there before me, and that mys-
terious word LAYETTES -in gilded t characters upon the
cornice, and I, awkward idiot that I was, stood talking,
and never 3aw the changing pinks upon the sweet young
face, and even begged she would let me be her groom
for the nonce, and hand her. to the counter; and she,
how perplexed she was, and how shy, and she said she
thought she would not stay there just now, she had just
driven to the pavement to see me the little story-
teller ! and how I, a few days after, lounging over the
Chimes at the club, saw the announcement of her first
infant, and, as I recalled the scene, the shop, the em-
barrassment, my great coarse face and ears grew red and
hot with shame, that I should have been so thick a
fool ! I reverenced her ever after for that true, godly
touch of shy innocence, and everywhere I see it I
recognise it as a pure relic of Eden.

But I come back to Williams's. In the midst of
white and coloured robes dc jour ct dc unit, was a bust
of a Royal Princess, fitted with an exquisitely-shaped
corset of blue solin edged with ermine. Other nameless
shadows of foim, elaborately fine, were arranged in
suggestive positions. Why in ordinary life it should


be considered right to conceal such pretty mysteries
beneath conventional robes, yet proper to expose them
to every rude gaze in this manner, has long been to me
a matter of speculation. It is useless to say that the
stronger half of creation should shut its eyes to 'what
is put under its noses. Is there any necessity for the
exposure ? Our old English prudery now alas ! fast
dying out, and it was a grand, dignified, purific senti-
ment used to be based on this : to avoid by look or
gesture, by hint or display, anything however distantly
exciting the imagination in a wrong direction. It was
a point of training with our mothers and grandmothers
and the society they adorned.

"Mais! nous avons change tout cda!" cries Mrs.
Croquet, and we all admit she is a charming woman.
" We are no longer afraid to call a spade a spade ; and
I am happy to say my daughters are strong-minded
enough to read, or see, or say anything without the
slightest sense of impropriety. Laura made a speech
the other day for the hospital for lying-in women, and
went into the whole question of the reasons for their
being there ; and every one was astounded at her free-
dom from the silly restraints of conventional decorum.
Evil be to him that evil thinks. To the pure, all things
are pure. What a man can do, a woman may. I
have no notion of your mawkish decency. It often
serves for a mere cover to impurity."

Dear Madam ! I wish your apophthegms were rele-


vant and true ; I wish your theories were consistent
with the facts of human nature ! I have seen rare girls
demoralised, nay lost by association with foul ideas ;
and God forbid my little daughter, whose tender fresh-
ness is the most piquant joy of my life, whose jealously-
guarded simplicity is my daily burden and hope, should
ever come to know more than she does of the unname-
able, or, as a matter of moral pride, unsex herself to
win what I can only call a foul and tawdry admiration.

This though is a sheer digression from Lady Ffowls-
mere's preparations. They were extensive enough to
have stocked a bazaar. Robes miraculously embroidered,
mantlets trimmed with ermine, long gowns and short
coats, night dresses and day frocks, flannels decorated
with herring-bone stitch, diminutive but there, I need
not schedule everything. The coming little Bantam,
male or female, had a wardrobe of clothes before it
drew breath. In the North of Ireland a christening-
robe was being embroidered to cost a hundred guineas.

The bassinet was a picture. Messrs. Jackson and
Graham lavished upon its production all their classic
skill. It was a white and gold shell, swung by gilded
cords from two Italian pillars, and was, they slily in-
formed her ladyship, in the purest Renaissance style.
Delicate sky-silk hangings, subdued by the finest muslin,
drooped round the shell ; and the Countess used to
go and hang over it, and wonder what little form would
press the downy bed and satin-like pillow.


III. A Land Slip.

THE Earl of Ffowlsmere was one of the wealthiest
men in the three kingdoms. His possessions in agri-
cultural counties, in mineral districts, in the metropolis
not to mention half the vast manufacturing town
of Ironchester were so enormous and their returns so
lucrative, that the public may be forgiven for attributing
to him fabulous riches, and entertaining itself with
calculations that every second of the day or night the
Earl was receiving a sum equivalent to a respectable
man's salary for a year.

A clever ancestor of the Earl, duly encouraged and
assisted by the laws of these realms, happening, by good
luck to him, to possess land that grew in great request
for the houses of a pushing population, had been
able to grant leases of it to various tenants for just
ninety-nine years. In effect, this was to keep the
real ownership of the land in abeyance while two or
perhaps three generations lived and died, and then,
long after the clever old man was in his grave, to
cause the immensely enhanced freehold to fall in to a
person he had never seen, and whom he could only
prophetically and vaguely designate as the next heir of
some one. It was the merest " fluke " if I may use a
felicitous vulgarism that the Earl of Ffowlsmere's father
happened to be that fortunate next heir. He had done


or conceived of nothing on earth to entitle him to take-
a vast property, a noble name, a place in the legislature
of the country, the right of nominating a hundred clergy
to as many perishing flocks : all that fell upon him:
simply by fate and the custom of England. In defiance
of economy, a-vast piece of land was locked up for those-
ninety-nine years from public enterprise and general
exchange. No one could build on it anything but what
v,-as permitted by the terms of the leases. One term, for
instance, had been that no shops were to be opened
upon the land. No shops were or could be opened, and
the line of healthy trade was blocked out of a large area,
to be sent winding about in neighbouring slums and
byways. No churches other than those of the Establish-
ment were to be erected within the sacred precincts.
Hence every dissenter who lived there was forced tO'
worship, like a leper in Israel, " without the camp."
The natural and legitimate changes which pass over such
areas in great cities the transformation of dwellings
into places of business, or of moderate houses into
palaces, in fact, every concomitant of natural progress
was baulked in this district by the ninety-nine year
leaseholds working with the laws and customs of this
realm. Progress had to pass over and round it, and at
great inconvenience to find expansion further off. It is
scarcely possible to trace out with fulness the vicious
effects of the laws under which such a prescription was
legal. How it locked up for years from public competi-


tion, from healthy and beneficent activity of exchange,
hundreds upon hundreds of properties ; how it restrained
as we have seen the uses to which the properties
might have been put ; how it limited the number of
persons in the community that could possibly gain liveli-
hood or profit from the existence of the land ; how it
affected the character and architecture of the buildings
erected on the soil ; how, in fact, the tendency of this
arrangement was to diminish in a certain proportion for
every man in England the chances chances that have
an important influence upon the enterprise and vigour of
the greater number of people in a state of acquiring
landed property. In fact, it is no untruth to say that
the State had permitted this old peer, in common with
half a hundred more, to rob posterity of possibilities
of action and advantage to which it was righteously

I have said it was by the merest fluke that the present
Lord Ffowlsmere's father happened to be the person de-
scribed as the next heir. But it is some compensation to
know that he was the very person whom the venerable
grantor of leases, had he been alive, would have given his
eyes not to see in possession. It happened in this wise.

Earl Ffowlsmere, fifth Earl, had issue by Caroline his
wife a son and a daughter. Son married the Hon.
Lucinda Lucretia Bella De Lancey, daughter of Nugent-
Nugent, Earl of Foswick, by whom he had issue three
sons I need not name them, for they all died unmarried,


and there was an end of that line. While they were
living and dying, the reversions of all the leases made
by the fifth Earl, were hovering about in the clouds
waiting to descend and light down on a certain day
in a certain year upon any one who was so fortunate
as to be properly in the way.

The only daughter of Caroline, Countess of Ffovvls-
mere, made -a sad mistake, for she fell in love with the
gayest and handsomest man in the army, Captain Harrow
of the th Hussars, ran away with him and married him
at Gretna Green. Whereupon the Earl cursed her and
hers, and forbad her his presence for evermore. Should
he perchance have reached heaven his aristocratic wish
may deprive poor Honoria of the joys of Paradise ;
should he have gone elsewhere she may not altogether
regret the proscription. Captain Harrow found that he
could not keep both his family and his regiment, so he
sold out. Every year Honoria presented him with a
diminutive fresh Harrow, and this drove him to try his
fortunes in trade the wine trade. A dragoon in the
wine trade is a fish in the water, but certainly not in his
proper element ; and poor Captain Harrow, tasting too
freely of his wares, lost by degrees his fine gentleman's
manner, his clear manly voice, his moulded features, his .
gallant honour and fell : no matter where. Honoria
would never own the change in her heart's man, and
shut from her vision the sickly sense of it that often came
over her. She would love him all the same : and when


at last hard want enjoined it, she worked from yellow
morn to dusky eve, away up in a sky pent-house, toiled
and kept a dying man with the craving children for
months and months, with the energy of those white,
blue-coralled fingers, till even the hag who owned the
house and exacted the rent grew sorry and sympathetic.
So on, so on, till one day Harrow died. Then Honoria
broke down, and lay there stony-hearted, stony-looking,
by the body lay while the children wondered that papa
and mamma did not move or talk. The woman sent
away to a well-known association to say that a man had
died and a woman was dying in her house. By some
God's chance there came a General, interested in the
society, who volunteered to investigate the case. When
he took the face-cloth from the dead man's face he
recognised an early friend. Within a few hours Honoria
opened her eyes on a comfortable room, pervaded with'
warmth such as she had not felt about her for many a day,
a soft bed and her children transformed, smiling at the
transformation. A few hundred pounds collected from
former friends of her husband, the old Earl would do
nothing, placed her in a country town where there was
a' free school. There she decently brought up her
children and there she died. Her eldest boy married a
pretty damsel, daughter of a not over rich vicar, and
following his father's example surrounded himself with
little shoots. His son and heir became a schoolmaster,
who taking a fancy to a decent housekeeper at a neigh-


bouring park, also married and maintained the Bantam
line. Imagine the surprise of this worthy couple, always
proud of the tradition of their descent, but hopeful of
no good from it, when one day a breathless attorney
rushes by train into the town, with rapid and distracted
inquiries finds them out, and informs them, listening
aghast, that Master Eugene George Augustus Harrow,
aged ten, is heir to unlimited estates, and will be the
richest man in the three kingdoms ! For the ninety-
nine year leases were shortly to fall in, and the reversion
was to descend upon the very last person whom the fifth
Earl would have wished to benefit. . The present Earl
had been that lucky boy. Reared in a school of
adversity a man of iron rigidity of character he was
celebrated for his thrift in the management of his
almost regal estate. His business talents enabled him
to develop its productive capabilities, spite of the legal
parasites that everywhere and always sought to feed
upon the plethoric body. He was an attorney and a
tradesman in a peer's robes. Proud of his riches, his
pride led him to take care that they should not be care-
lessly distributed. He watched every penny of expendi-
ture, every item of income. The aforesaid parasites were
checked though not always thwarted they were too
clever for that at every turn.

The Earl had one grotesque p-^uliarity. In his
youth, he had heard his father sing with much spirit, a
comic song entitled " The Cork Leg." Some of the


stanzas adhered to his memory and suggested a strange
community between himself and the hero of them. When

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryEdward JenkinsLord Bantam → online text (page 1 of 16)