Henry John Wrixon.

Jacob Shumate; or, The people's march (Volume 1) online

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represented that they had changed the name by dropping
the ' O.'

' You have it right this time, Myles. You Irish are a
fair people, after all ! ' Frankfort exclaimed, amidst a
general laugh, which Myles himself led off. But, Dillon or
O'Dillon, and whatever was the real fate of his great-grand-
father, the young Irishman was liked and respected for his
own sake. He has his own career to make ; and every
intelligent, sympathetic man influences the lives of others.
So we will let him play his own part in our story.

It was one of the unwritten laws of the little party, upon
their walks, that special topics connected with the several
professions they were working towards should be avoided,
and the conversation directed mainly to literature, public
affairs, or such subjects as concerned them all equally. We
have said that the debates of boys are interesting from their
sincerity. So is their conversation. It is so natural,
reflecting the fresh, true ideas of each, as native disposition
or fortuitous circumstances have for the present shaped their
opinions or fancies ; they are so real to them, and embraced
with such pure enthusiasm. It is a comforting doctrine,
and, we must hope, a sound one, that men are improved by
the discipline of life. But we cannot truly say that they
are made more disinterested, or more capable of generous
emotions by age. No ; if we would have lofty ideals of
life, we must listen to young men such as our party of
College lads, as they argue together and proclaim inspiriting
ideas, all the world seeming as wholesome and bright to
them as the summer scene that lies before them in their
walk. Different tones of thought were there, liberal and
conservative, as they are technically termed, or cautious and
progressive, as we may say ; but all were genuine, all came
fresh and true from nature. It was this that gave the charm
to these outspoken declarations of young, intelligent minds,
not yet biassed by the prudential reasons that modify so


much, consciously or unconsciously, the opinions of men.
You may talk of the noctes coenaeque deorum, but these
morning walks left also grand memories and recollections
fondly cherished by these young men in after life.

Politics naturally came frequently to the front in their
discussions, and especially the striking careers of Gladstone and
Disraeli. The indomitable Hebrew had, about the time of
our story, touched the highest point in his career, having
returned from Berlin, bringing ' peace with honour.' Different
dispositions of intellect marked some of the youths as the
admirers of one hero and some of the other ; but the won-
derful career of each was admitted by all. They had many
keen arguments concerning their respective heroes. Frank-
fort, as a senior college man (having now only to pass his
Degree Examination), and one who made no secret of his
political aspirations, took a prominent part in these wayside
debates. The news arrived one day that Benjamin Disraeli
had been created Earl of Beaconsfield, and this quickly
raised the wayside controversy as to his real merits and what
would be his true position in history. Those who were
Conservative in their disposition, of the little party, lauded
him as a real genius, who honoured the peerage by agreeing
to enter it, and even reflected credit on Burke by assuming
the title of Beaconsfield. Frankfort, on the other hand,
maintained that no man had done more to lower politics as
a sphere for a worthy ambition. His great ability and
indomitable perseverance had enabled him to carry to the
highest success an avowed policy of achieving personal dis-
tinction by whatever means seemed most likely to command
success, irrespective of questions of principle or personal
convictions. He embraced the cause of Protection and of
the Nobility because they were necessary to his advance-
ment ; while in his heart he despised them, and he almost
admitted that he did.

' It's easy for you to fire away in that style ! ' exclaimed
Chadwick, the leader of the Conservative wing of the party ;
' but you should be able to prove what you say. Prove that
he disbelieved in the principles and despised the men.'

' I show that he disbelieved in the principles,' Frankfort
promptly answered, ' by the fact that when in power he


always carried out the contrary principles ; and as to despis-
ing these men, only look at how he writes about them in his
novels. Read his account of the Duke of Brentham in
Lothair. " Every day, when he looked into the glass and
gave the last touch to his consummate toilette, he offered his
grateful thanks to Providence that his family were not
unworthy of him." Just fancy talking that way of a human
being ! I've never forgotten the sentence. It's like taking
off your hat to a man in mockery and slapping him in the
face at the same time.'

' Ah, never mind, you are too simple, Ed. Fairlie, to
understand how novels are touched up. He stuck to the
Aristocracy, all the same.'

' Not he. He was willing to join John Bright, only that
John would not have him. After denouncing extensions of
the suffrage, he forced on the adoption of household suffrage,
in order to dish Gladstone. I grant you he has succeeded.
As he said in Vivian Grey, he regards the world as his
oyster, and he opened it right enough.'

' It's all very well, my noble idealogist, for you to fly
away with these lofty views,' answered Chadwick, who had
made more than one eloquent oration at the College Debating
Society in honour of Disraeli. ' But in what is Disraeli
different from Gladstone, your king of men ? Gladstone
joined the Liberals late in life, as he says in the 'sixties.
Would he have done so in the 'twenties, when they seemed
doomed to perpetual opposition ? Would he have proposed
the abolition of the Irish Church as a matter of principle if
men were against it, and if he did not know that it was the
only way to get Disraeli out ? Would he have faced un-
popularity for it ? No, you don't believe it, Frankfort ; nor
does any one else.'

' But I do believe it,' eagerly interposed the other.
' Every step that Gladstone took he felt at the time to be
the right one to take then. Of course, it might not be so a
century before.'

' Ah, there's just where it is. I don't deny that Gladstone
persuaded himself that certain things were right to do ; but
why ? Because they were the successful thing to do. That's
his way. Not to do them was to sink into insignificance,


and that's intolerable to men of great powers and great
ambition, like both Gladstone and Disraeli. Oh, I'm liberal
to your man ; why can't you, with all your liberalism, be fair
to mine ? Of course, Disraeli did not insist, as you would,
on carrying out his own fancies. He took what came to hand
from the public what they wanted. So did Gladstone.'

' Say what you please,' answered Frankfort, ' it is a bad
thing when a nation worships an avowed opportunist.'

Myles Dillon had kept his peace so far during the argu-
ment ; but not for want of interest in it, for he took great
interest in politics, which he found a pleasant relief from the
tension of the special studies of his profession.

' Well, you boys, ye make me laugh, you do,' he at last
broke out, 'throwing things this way mutually at two of the
greatest men of our time. Between you, what the two of
you say is that Disraeli was an opportunist, as you call it,
and that he knew it and said it ; and that Gladstone was an
opportunist, and knew it, and didn't say it. Talking of
politicians and their inner convictions, what have their inner
convictions got to do with it ? How is the King's Govern-
ment to be carried on ? as my great countryman, the Duke
of Wellington, remarked. Is it by every Parliament man
saying, "I must do as I like"? No, by Jupiter! it is by
doing as other people like."

' But do you seriously say, Myles,' asked Frankfort,
' that the statesman is to have no principles or opinions of
his own at all ? '

' Stay, now. I'm not much in the business myself. In
our profession we mend the heads that you get broken in
expressing your convictions at the hustings and the elections.
But what your politician wants is what has been beautifully
called " the presentiment of the dawn." That's just it. When
he feels it coming, he does not worry himself about what he
thinks of it ; he strikes up for it right off, and crows away.
He does not care to negative the dawn of day.'

' Then you make the statesman a barn-door fowl, whose
mission is to wait quietly blinking for the dawn and then when
it rises to crow away as if he caused it ! ' exclaimed Frankfort.

' Well, you may illustrate it in that homely way if it
suits you. But you have not grasped the whole idea yet,


Ed. Fairlie. He's to be very and particularly careful not to
begin crowing, like some cocks, upon a false alarm of the
dawn. That's where the skill comes in. You must be
neither too early nor too late. If you wait till the sun is
shining, why you are out of it. If you make a fuss too soon,
while it is still and dark, you're voted a nuisance all round.
The true politician has to be on the look-out in the right
quarter, and ready to call aloud at the right time. My noble
friend Frankfort here seems to go rather further and say that
he's to regulate the rising of the sun a bit to his own fancy.'

' You know that's nonsense. What I maintain is that
no man, statesman or other man, should say what he does
not think because other people want him to, and because he
can make his own fortune by it.'

' Very fine for you, Mr. Frankfort. But what is the use
of his saying what the other people don't think ? If the
Politician is to think so much of his feelings, perhaps the
people may think of theirs, too.'

' I only say he should act the part of an honest man.'

' What ! and of a Politician too ? ' said Myles, who
enjoyed putting things rather strongly in argument to his
enthusiastic friend.

' Certainly ; and I say more that the Politician, of all
men, ought to be the honest man.'

' Long live they so ! ' said Myles Dillon ; ' personally I
have no objection. Indeed I would be glad if you would
introduce me, Edward Fairlie, to some of your, of all men,
honest politicians.'

By this time they had reached the inn where they were
to rest for the night. It was situated on the side of one of
the Lochs of Scotland, where the solemn scenery produces a
sense of elevation in the man who is capable of experiencing
emotion in the presence of the grand aspects of Nature.

The mountain shadows on her breast
Were neither broken nor at rest ;
In bright uncertainty they lie
Like future joys to fancy's eye.

Is it by mere chance, is it not by the design of Provi-
dence, that the scenes of Nature are thus adapted to


delight, and even ennoble, men's feelings, so that we are
entranced by the beautiful lines of a landscape, or look with
emotion on the glories of a golden sunset ? As they sat
enjoying the prospect, while the evening meal was being
prepared, Frankfort felt the spell of the scene. He musingly
looked forth upon the hills and the heather and the still
waters below that reflected them, and broke out, reverting
to their discussion

' Oh, you need never tell me that self-seeking and
cunning to catch the crowd, and watching the right moment
to say and unsay that this is to be the statesmanship of
the future. Right for right's sake, duty unrewarded rather
than charlatanism successful, to leave your mark on your
time, though you may be wounded in the struggle, this ever
was, and ever will be, the line of the true statesman. It just
comes to my mind what our hero, Wallace, said, as he looked
upon such a scene as this : " Oh, who would not die for such
a country ! " So say I,'

' And I congratulate you on your noble sentiments,
Edward Fairlie Frankfort ! ' exclaimed Dillon, ' and your
having them so strong in ye. I hope ye'll be able to keep
them. Your harp sounds beautiful tunes if ye have such
things as harps in Scotland still but it's rather a harp in
the air, as that lovely song has it.'

' Very good for sarcasm, especially as it is Irish, Myles,'
said Frankfort. ' But I can tell you that if I ever do get
into politics '

' No, let me tell you. If you ever do, as you say (and
I hope you may, since you are so disposed), you will pretty
soon find out that what is required of you in our time is not
to die for your country, but to live for your constituency.'

' Only another of your ambiguous jokes ! ' exclaimed
Frankfort. ' Explain yourself.'

' And that I will to my own entire satisfaction/ said
Dillon, as they went in to their frugal tea.



EDWARD FAIRLIE FRANKFORT in due time went up for the
examination that was to decide among the candidates for the
Lectureship on Sociology and Political Ecomony and failed.
But he was a good second. His successful competitor,
though he had a less original, had a more receptive mind,
and a more closely accurate memory, and was also rather
more exact in his mental methods. Our readers must not
from this failure draw an unfavourable conclusion as to
Frankfort's ability. College examinations test mental forces
that may exist together with those qualities that give men
success and power in active life, but which are also often
found apart from any such qualities. They may sometimes
reward conditions of mind and character that rather impede
the achievement of great practical results in everyday life.
Certainly some of the greatest men of action were poor
scholars, and not only so, but lovers of colleges cannot con-
template with pleasure the number of men of intellectual
power who failed to attain eminence at universities. Bacon,
Milton, Swift, Dryden, Gibbon, Adam Smith, Scott, Gold-
smith, Byron were among the failures. Ben Jonson's account
of Shakespeare was that he had small Latin and less Greek.
As for the value of learning in politics, according to
Macaulay, who had political experience as well as literary
knowledge, a man in Parliament may speak on even
knotty questions of trade and legislation, draw forth loud
plaudits, and sit down with the credit of having made an
excellent speech, ' without reading ten pages or thinking ten



Nevertheless the blow was a serious one to Frankfort,
though the fact that he was a good second mitigated its
force. The thesis that he sent in was mentioned as showing
special merit, and the examiners gave him a highly favour-
able certificate of his general ability in the prescribed subjects.
Still, he had lost the lectureship, and the modest salary
attached to it was what he had looked forward to to keep
him above want as he worked forward towards the profession
of the law, in which his uncle had prophesied that he would
become Lord Justice-General. Mr. Fairlie had said nothing
about discontinuing the small allowance which he had for
some years past given him ; but Frankfort felt that it would
be impossible with self-respect to go on living upon it, now
that he had finished his University course and was free to
work for his bread as best he could.

His father's farm was not proving a success. The small
profits that generally attend the precarious business of farm-
ing and in all countries it is precarious were becoming
smaller still. Proud our youth would have been if by any
labour, however exacting or depressing, he could keep
himself independently, and possibly be able to help his
family too.

He mentioned in one of his letters to Myles Dillon his
anxiety to get some literary employment which would help
him while he was fighting his way to the profession of the
law, or to some other opening in life. His friend wrote
back to him that if he did not mind expatriating himself
from Scotland, and if he could command a sharp pen, and
boast a receptive mind, there was an opening for him or
some other man on the staff of the Lofty Standard Bearer^
one of the most flourishing newspapers in the Irish capital.
The editor, Brass Finucane, was his particular friend, and he
was certain would give Frankfort a trial. Negotiations were
soon opened, and before long our student was enrolled as
one of the outside contributors to the Lofty Standard Bearer.
He found in that portion of the public, for whose instruction
and amusement Mr. Brass Finucane laboured, some pecu-
liarities. The population was broadly divided as Protestant
and Catholic, and there was the well-established, from time
immemorial, orthodox state of pious war between them.


But strong as was the sense of hostility between them, it
was torpid compared with the lively hatred that existed
between the True Blue Evangelical Protestants and an active
Puseyite branch of the Church of England that had lately
been making headway in several parts of the country among
the followers of that Church. The Lofty Standard Bearer
was the organ of the True Blues, while the Church Sentinel
was the champion of the Puseyites.

The editor agreed to give our youth a temporary en-
gagement, and he was soon busy writing articles, some on
controversial topics and others on literary and social subjects,
which were more to his taste. When he saw the earlier efforts
of his pen in print, circulating through the town, sold over
the counters, read in the restaurants, he thought that he had
at least achieved one great object of his ambition the
means of an independent living. So he wrote to his uncle,
with whom, in Excelsior, he had regularly corresponded,
thanking him, in the terms of affectionate warmth that
grateful and generous youth is apt to express itself in, for
his past kindness, and informing him that his engagement
with the Lofty Standard Bearer would enable him to live in
the future by his own exertions. At the same time he men-
tioned his failure to secure the lectureship, but explained the
high place in the list of candidates that he had secured, and
he enclosed with his letter copies of the testimonials that the
examiners had given him ; as he was anxious that his uncle
should see that his assistance to the nephew's education had
not been altogether in vain.

Hope, the merciful heritage of youth, sustained him, as
he settled down to live by his pen, while he at the same
time worked steadily at his legal studies. He had in
some degree the pen of a ready writer, and Mr. Brass
Finucane, the editor of the Lofty Standard Bearer, after
a while placed him on his list of contributors, and generally
took from him two or three articles each week upon social or
literary, and occasionally on controversial, subjects.

Every important newspaper has some special mission
some purpose that may be regarded as the final cause of
its existence from a newspaper point of view. The final
cause of the existence of the Lofty Standard Bearer was to


maintain the sound principles of True Blue Protestantism,
according to Knox and Calvin, and especially to denounce
'Whity- Brown Popery/ as the tenets of Puseyism were
styled by it, and, above all, to expose the Church Sentinel,
the Jesuitical organ of the sham Protestants. Mr. Brass
Finucane, the editor, was not Irish by birth, but he had
become so by long residence, and he threw all the fervour of
his adopted country into the views which he, or at least his
paper, held and expressed. He was not dissatisfied with
Frankfort's work for a beginner, and hoped that he would
prove useful when he had become more acclimatised and
had caught the proper tone for the paper.

For success in the work, a tone of sectarian exclusive-
ness and partisan vehemence was required. The practised
eye of the editor soon observed that it was just here that
Frankfort was lacking, and one day he good-naturedly
gave him a note of warning.

' Your work now is not like your college work, you
observe. We are not seeking after truth merely here. We
have to write what is wanted, and when it is wanted, and in
the way that it is wanted to order, in fact, a leetle bit, you
see.' He added, with a self-satisfied, chuckling laugh, ' People,
after all, must get what they want. It must be according to
order whether it is to eat, to wear, or to read or to laugh
at ; the public taste varies a bit too.' ' Certainly, sir, I'll
do my best to write what the public require. I suppose
we are allowed a certain amount of conscience, sir/ said
Frankfort with a smile, encouraged by the kind manner of
the editor. 'A certain amount of conscience? Any amount
of it, my friend ! ' Mr. Finucane exclaimed, looking up with
some surprise, and then adding in a quiet undertone and with
his self-satisfied laugh, ' Any amount that you can afford
to keep. Like other good things, it is apt to be limited by
your means. In fact/ he added, throwing himself back in his
chair and looking up straight at his youthful contributor,
' the truth is that in public affairs neither side want one of
their team to pose as an umpire. The game wants a man
who can give the ball a good kick, and jostle the other fellow

down. If you are not ready for that, why ' and the

editor waved his hand to tell the rest.


So long as Frankfort was employed on general and non-
party topics he got on famously. His papers were bright
and clever, and above all, what editors sigh for, fresh. It
was hard work for small pay, but he had, beyond the money
reward, the glowing though secret satisfaction of seeing in
veritable print his own ideas expressed in his own words,
and of reflecting how perhaps thousands all over the kingdom
were feeding mentally on the productions of his brain. In
times of mental failure, when his ideas halted, and in times
of despondency, when his hopeful, generous view of men and
things was damped, he still derived consolation in his work
from the consciousness of the power of the writer, of the all-
reaching scope of the pen, especially when it was the
champion of truth. You sit in an obscure room yourself
unknown and frame ideas into speech, and a machine works,
and lo ! the next morning your ideas penetrate into ten
thousand homes and challenge the attention of all men.
What a power ! thought Frankfort, and with all power is
there not a proportionate responsibility in its use ?

This latter consideration he found to rather hamper him
in his efforts to fill first himself and then his article with the
needful fervour and indignation against the enemy that the
partisan and clerical topics which now and then were con-
fided to him required, if he was to supply the necessary and
stimulating mental food that the readers of the Lofty Standard
Bearer desired. But he tried his best to adapt himself to
the work ; for he was all the while uneasily conscious of the
threatening shadow of want in the background. If his
writing stopped his bread stopped too. He often thought
of the old lines, ' Those who live to please, must please to
live,' with some bitterness.

It is an ancient observation that nature, though often
hidden, and sometimes overcome, is hard to extinguish.
This is especially true of writers who are not mere pen-
drivers and who can make some claim to individuality and
genius ; for what is genius, however humble, if it be not
genuine ? Frankfort felt this early in his career as a writer.
When the Puseyite party acted absurdly, and were really in
the wrong, then his articles exposing them were clear and
incisive. If, however, it was some cant cry against them


that he had in hand, his papers wanted force and sting ;
though, as Finucane remarked to him, it was just then that
vigorous writing was needed. Any one could write strongly
if the facts were strongly with him. Then, when at times
left to his own devices, he made absolute mistakes. Once,
not having any book to review for the passing week, he sent
in for the Saturday's literary column a paper on 'The Use
and the Danger of National Prejudice.' He wrote it care-
fully, and with considerable satisfaction to himself, and was
therefore the more surprised when he looked in the Saturday
issue to find it left out. In its place there was a pungent
paper on the narrow-minded and indeed unchristian attitude
of the Church of Rome towards the Italian Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The clerical organ
published in Rome was denounced in scathing terms for
sneering at the circular lately issued by the Minister of
the Interior to the Mayors, which expressed approval and

Online LibraryHenry John WrixonJacob Shumate; or, The people's march (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 45)