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ieties from sympathy ; for even if Lady Caddy died
he could get another wife. Domestic disappointments
did not trouble him ; for if his pines rotted he had
money to buy some at Covent Garden. Yet, he too
found, that " man was made to mourn." Agony
perched upon the turtle soup, vexation hovered over
the under-done venison, gout was mixed in his sauces
and ragouts, and phthisic lurked in his West India
sweetmeats. Thus, while Lord Avondel felt his soul
wounded by some national loss or disgrace, vainly
struggled against the tide of faction, or deplored the
imbecility of his friends and the active malice of his
enemies, Sir Joseph Caddy was grumbling that a man
cannot eat what he likes without suffering pain, and
devoted his time to the study of what good things
were wholesome, and how nature might be assisted to
throw off her accumulation of undigested humours
without submitting to too severe a discipline. He,
however, found a little time between his cook and his
physician to join his lady in laughing at Lord Avondel,
as a man whose talents were rather shewy than substan-
tial, as was proved by his having spent his life to very
little purpose.



[ 195 ]



CHAPTER XIII.



O wherefore with a rash impetuous aim

Seek ye those flowery joys with which the hand

Of lavish fancy paints each flattering scene,

Where beauty seems to dwell : nor once inquire

"Where is the sanction of eternal truth,

Or where the seal of umleceitful good

To save your search from folly.

Akenside.

AMONG the nominal colleagues of Lord Avon-
del's political career was the youthful Lord Norbury.
His father had so distinguished himself on the opposi-
tion benches as to convince the uninitiated, that if ever
the good genius of England should so far prevail as to
bring him into office he would make the most uncor-
rupt and enlightened minister ; but adepts thought he
would be an adroit active coadjutor, useful in holding
out lures adapted to the characters he had to contend
with, in dressing up a bad cause, and in practising that
most dexterous part of state machinery, the appearing
perfectly plausible and communicative and at the same
time not disclosing one iota but what was publicly
known. He had no other objection to putting on the
court livery than the difficulty of finding a suit that
would fit him ; and as soon as his measure was exactly
taken he vaulted from his oratorical tribune into the
treasury bench, and commenced Baron Norbury with
a pension fit to support his honours. He was, howe-
ver, soon found to be an incumbrance rather than an
assistant, for in moving the machine of government it
is necessary to draw altogether at a steady pace and
with determined strength. But Lord Norbury was
for curveting, prancing, or standing still, biting at one
of his yoke fellows, and kicking another, gallopping off
after the casual game that crossed the road, and falling



196 THE REFUSAL.

down in the first slough he encountered. In fine, he
was a man of wonderful invention, amazing projects,
and inexhaustible resources, but destitute of decision,
coolness, and arrangement. After despatching various
expeditions, .and devoting the resources on which their
success depended to other purposes ; after planning
several improvements in legislature and finance, and
introducing new corruptions into every department,
Lord Norbury discovered that his health was unequal
to the fatigues of public life. He therefore retired
with some valuable sinecures, and devoted his time to
the education of his son, who, he determined, should
be a still more celebrated statesman than himself, and
unite the qualities of Lycurgus, Pericles, and Demos-
thenes.

Though we are all ready to allow, that culture fails
to produce the perfection which parents expect from
its application, yet few who have been long and deep-
ly occupied in instructing their own children are will-
ing to acknowledge, that thev have spent their time in
twisting a rope of sand. Lord Norbury saw in his
son all the latent properties of a cot-summate states-
man, while every discerning friend discovered pro-
pensities which would be insuperable impediments to
his acquiring renown. The young Tuily was found
to be like his father, brilliant rather than solid, and
more desirous " that the club should hail him master
of the joke," than that wondering senates should hang
on all his words. The world is sometimes so good-
natured as to credit bills which are drawn upon its
admiration by an established firm, without examining
whether they are fictitious drafts or securities of real
value. So much was said of the astonishing talents
and premature wisdom or' Mr. Davenant, son of the
great Lord Norbury, that expectation stood on tiptoe
to witness the parliamentary debut of this phenome-
non. His maiden speech was extremely admired as
something out of the common line, classical, spirited,
and profound. I admit, if you sifted the eulogist nar-
rowly, they began to talk of his youth, allowed he was



THE REFUSAL. J 97

not well acquainted with the powers of his own voice,
that his action might be improved, and that his argu-
ments, though ingenious, had been all used by the
former speakers on the subject. His phraseology too
was rather crowded by a too frequent return of those
unlucky M Mr. Speaker, I beg pardon Sir, my own ir-
resistible feeling," 8cc. which are apt to be strewn on
the harangues of novices. Yet still the speech was a
capital speech, that is, for a young man who was heir
to a title, and new to the forms of the house. In fine,
according to the newspapers, it excited very powerful
sensations in all who heard it : and since smiling, wink-
ing, coughing, and gaping, are natural expressions of
powerful sensations, the newspapers said no more than
what is truth, which is a very high commendation.

Mr. Davenant took his seat at the board, where he
was to learn the routine office before he realized his
father's expectations, and rushed forth mighty to go-
vern and to guide. But ere that period arrived, the
impenetrable veil of death dropped on the eyes of
Lord Norbury, and if (indulging in poetical imagina-
tion) I attend his shade to the Elysian fields, where, as
in a city coffee-house, the heroes of classical antiquity
walk about and ask what news, I could not with correct-
ness introduce the parallel of Ulysses in the shape of a
a modern quidnunc telling the enraptured sire the
speeches and measures of his illustrious son. From
the period of his taking possession of his fortune to the
time I am treating of, the world kept inquiring what
Lord Norbury was about. Much had been said of his
talents and patriotic principles, surely envy, intrigue,
treachery, and a thousand similar hindrances must
have united to confine so wonderful a young statesman
behind the scenes, and to deprive his injured country
of the grand specific which he had been preparing for
all her disorders.

But Lord Norbury was all this time very busy, stu-
dying tin; baser parts of society preparatory to his go-
verning the better, as Warwick described Prince Hal,
to sooth the sorrows of his disappointed father. His



198 THE REFUSAL.

lordship drank, intrigued, and frequented the two lead-
ing gaming houses, for he was too liberal to be a party
man at dice or billiards. He became a member of the
Savoir vivre, and the leading demireps toasted him at
their coteries as a divine feliovv. I do not mean that
he studied or practised divinity, or possessed what very
orthodox writers now call the divinity of talent, but di-
vine was the indefinable cant word of the year, and was
applied to divine dresses, divine masquerades, a divine
run of good luck, and a divine eclaircissement ; I am
not sure that there were not divine elopements, in
which case I hope the husband had divine damages.
The character of Lord Norhury in the world of gal-
lantry was that of a male coquet. He kept off other
offers by persuading the unmarried ladies he meant to
make them an honourable proposal ; and he whispered
away the reputation of wives by insinuating, that,
though renowned for secresy, he was more admired
by ladies and hated by husbands than any man of his
age. His fair auditors blessed themselves when he
talked in ' this style; called him a wicked creature,
vowed they did not believe a word he said, and pu-
nished him with violent blows with their fans, whis-
pering each other at the same time "That he was a
divine fellow after all."

But though Lord Norbury was thus studying the
world for his future improvement, he did not forget his
present duties. He regularly attended the sittings of
the board to which he belonged, that is, he came in just
as the business ended, nrdded his assent to what he
was told they had been doing, and while the minutes of
their transactions were read pro forma, he enlivened
the fiat routine of labour by some inimitable jests on
two or three of the humble members, who submitted
to be his buts, as in that character they had free access
to hib table. Lord Norbury, like some other great men
of that age, (Heaven forbid I should allude to the pre-
sent) fancied that as the Roman capitol had been saved
by geese, monkies might eventually prove the best
guardians of the Lritish empire : he therefore always



THE REFUSAL. 199

preferred a jest to a reason, and antic gestures to wise
suggestions. Nothing to him was so intolerable as a
dry discussion of a dry subject; and whenever he
condescended to argue, he confuted his adversary with
sarcasms and defended his own opinion by flights of
fancy. Thus, when his natural indolence could be
roused, he became extremely useful to his party ; for,
in all intricate questions, I believe-, it is reckoned, that
not more than one convert is gained by conviction .or
twenty who have been completely pu2zled or laughed
out of their opinions by an adept in the science of ca-
villing, armed with the irresistible weapons of rhodo-
montade and irony.

Such was the situation which this phcenix held, not
without a secret consciousness that he was fitted to
mount higher, whenever he could be content to resign
the plumes oi wit, spirit, and humour, for the civic
Wreath of the plodding man of business, a character
which, though much below his own, he one day intend-
ed to assume. The embarrassments which Lord Nor-
burv's irregular habits had introduced into this depart-
ment, first suggested co the premier the necessity of
recalling Lord Avondel into public life ; and it was at
this board he was appointed to preside to counteract
the genius of disorder in the shape of a town wit turn-
ed statesman. The firmness and promptitude of the
noble eari, seconded by his high reputation, produced a
complete revolution. Whoever has had tne honour of
sitting between two very great men of opposite charac-
ters, whom he was alike desirous of propitiating, and
has felt the difficulty of preserving his face in a proper
equilibrium while one great man was very facetious,
and the other profoundly grave, may guess the mise-
ries of the humbler coadjutors of these two noblemen
while the senior kept recommencing attention to busi-
ness, an; 1 the junior was persuading one of the com-
missioners, who mighc have sat for a frontispiece to
Butler's Sir Hudibras, to get a lilac coat embroidered
with roses for the birth-day. riut the influence of J\Io-
niiis gradually decreased. I do not mean that Lord

VOL. I. S



200 THE REFUSAL.

Norbury's facetious powers were diminished, but be-
sides that Lord Avondel daily seemed more hostile to
jesting, he dismissed two subalterns for being negli-
gent, and as his influence was known to gain ground
in a quarter where worth is sure to be esteemed, the
earl was suspected of being prepared to bring out a
very intelligible comment on the texts which assert,
" that there is a time to laugh and a time to weep, a
time to keep silence and a time to speak." It seemed
imprudent to irritate the testy statesman beyond the
act of biting his nails or dashing his pen on the table.
By the secession of laughers at his jokes, Lord Nor-
bury found himself either compelled to be merry alone,
which is the dullest of all undertakings, or to transport
his mirth to a more eligible situation. A few month's
observation convinced him, that, as the earl was not to
be trifled with, the price of non-attendance or inatten-
tion would be dismission, and though it was now crowd-
ed with what was disagreeable, like Bobadil, he found
the " cabin convenient." He was therefore compelled
to put on the man of business, and at least to be pre-
sent and silent while Lord Avondel exercised his great
mind in arranging the minutiae of those plans which
his wisdom had suggested, with the persevering atten-
tion of a mechanic fixed in his loom to a daily task.

Whatever road we happen to choose to conduct us
to reputation, self-attachment makes us feel peculiarly
susceptible of any rebuff or impediment in our passage,
even though it should be the means of diverting us
into a more respectable path, or one better adapted to
our talents. Lord Norbiiry was designed by nature
for something better than a rattle, but he cherished a
strong dislike to a man who had compelled him to af-
fect those sedate qualities which he was ever ready to
sacrifice to the applause of the moment. Dislike soon
grew into irreconcilable enmity, when he perceived that
though he could rival or even excel Lord Avontkl in
pointing a repartee, or relating an anecdote, he could
never eclipse him in a debate, suggest wiser expedi-
ents, or penetrate into the characters of men, or the



THE REFUSAL. 201

designs of foreign courts, with such masterly discern-
ment. Driven from the seat where he had been ac-
customed to exercise sovereign power, and compelled
to sit on the stool of inferiority in another's kingdom,
he was left without hope of humbling the prepondera-
ting greatness which had made him kick the beam.
An attempt to impugn Lord Avondel's integrity and
disinterestedness would but discover his own foulness,
like the crawling of a slug on a tablet of alabaster: and
he might as well have attempted to answer the Sphinx
as to refute his rival's arguments, or render his propo-
sals ridiculous. Was Avondel then invulnerable to the
shafts of malice ? or, as Norbury would have put the
question, could not just resentment teach him to feel
the pain of being mortified, and the vexation of sub-
mitting to the loss of some valued acquisition, or the
consciousness of degradation ? How untainted must
be that virtue in which revenge, assisted by wit and
talent, could find nothing base or contemptible^

But though invincible in his own person, Avondel
had a young wife, whom his public duties compelled
him to trust chiefly to her own discretion ; and if Nor-
bury allowed him pre-eminence on the stage of busi-
ness, surely, in the field of gallantry, his youthful
competitor must be the Caesar who would " come, see,
and conquer." He had met the countess ; she inte-
rested him just as much as any other woman of fashion,
that is to say, she would serve to trifle with, and was
handsome enough to justify him for pretending an at-
tachment. As the wife of the haughty Earl of Avon-
del she became a most desirable conquest ; but then as
he could not suppose this man of loftv aims and high
desires had ever submitted to the bondage of Cupid,
he doubted if he would keenly feel the infidelity :md
disgrace of the insignificant girl who shared his coro-
net. Norbury had never been a witness of connubial
happiness. He fancied Avondel, like his own father,
had been content " to wive it wealthily ;" and as he
supposed Emily must have been a reluctant votress at
the shrine of Hymen, he thought the victory would be



202 THE REFUSAL.

too easy to give eclat to the conqueror. For compare
the stilt sententious solemn spouse with the airy graces,
the infinite humour, the everflowing small talk, of the
gallant, forty three with twenty iour, Count Osmond,
Lord Constable of Sicily, with the gay Lothario, the
u dear deceiver," with the best dressed beau in London,
the chiet of cicisbeos, the phcenix of phaeton drivers,
the pattern of every polite art and happy invention : —
Pshaw ! it was too ridiculous. She would be fascinated
at the first glance, vanquished by one compliment, and
ready to elope before he could order a chaise and four,
and bribe the Abigail. He doubted whether diaboli-
cal revenge (1 use the proper phrase, Norbury called
it a counterplot on Avondel) could be a sufficient stimu-
lus to persuade him to undertake such a stupid intrigue.
Emily's extreme modesty and gentleness gave her such
a 1 a^hlul appearance in public, that he, like many
others, unjustly under-rated her understanding. Every
feeling of her soul was spontaneously imprinted on her
ingenuous countenance, and as she oitcn felt confused,
embarrassed, and vexed with herself, this very pecu-
liar quality of self-condemuation was generally con-
strued to imply unhappiness in her wedded lot. Of
all intrigues an attempt on a discontented simpleton is
the dullest, and, had she not been Countess of Avon-
del, she affected so little eclat, and was so retired in
her habits, that Lord Norbury would never have
thought of her a second time.

On further enquiry into the history of the married
pair whose comforts he meant to poison, he found with
amazement that Emily was fondly attached to her
lord's person and an idolater of his fame. This im-
plied thc»t she was one of the few women who really had
what might be termed some character. He heard also
she had always lived in the country, had seen verj lit-
tle, and had been romantically educated. This came
of course, and would make her a pleasant relief to the
vapid sameness of town ladies. Hut she had rejected
a higher title, a younger man, and a better fortune than
Lord Avondel's. True, but Glcnvorne was a solemn



THE REFUSAL. 203

fop, as dull as Avondel, and not so much talked of.
The young lady had shewn she was captivated by re-
putation ; what attractions had the renown of a gene-
ral, an ambassador, a statesman, or a governor, for a
young woman? at least when compared with the glory
of chaining to her car the most invincible rover, and
most formidable seducer who had appeared since beau-
ty formed so strict a league with her sister chastity,
that the Lovelaces and Pollexfens of the times were
formed to brave the gallows ere they could establish
their claim to the honour of an amour ?

To the no small gratification of Lady Caddy, Lord
Norbury's name was inscribed on her visiting list, and
the acquaintance was a mutual convenience. For be-
sides that Sir Joseph kept the best cook in London, he
had no objection to the world's loan and premium, and
her ladyship played very ill, and liked a high stake.
On the other hand, though in what related to sound
sense and sterling goodness she could place Sir Joseph
on a par with Lord Avondel without making her audi-
tors violate the rules of politeness further than by a
smile, she could not compare them as parallels in wit
and taste without urging the risible muscles of her
friends beyond all power of retention. Here Lord
Norbury became very useful, and he might be describ-
ed as better bred, better dressed, a finer figure, a more
liberal patron of the fine arts, a more entertaining com-
panion ; and, in fine, her friend Lord Norbury, who
took his mutton with them twice a week, and never
missed her parties, was in all respects superior to Lord
Avondel, who rarely left a card at her door, took little
pains to disguise his dislike of her, and was just civil
to Sir Joseph.

On that accommodating principle which induces pub-
lic characters to be on good terms with every body,
Emily complied with her lord's desire, and kept up a
slight acquaintance with her Devonshire duenna ; and
the title of countess sounded too well through the
anti-room on a gala night, especially where there was a
scarcity of that commodity, to allow Lady Caddy to
s2



204 THE REFUSAL.

be as angry with the Avondels as she wished. It was
at her house, therefore, that Lord Norbury met his in-
tended prey at a morning visit. Contrary to her usual
style of conversation, Lady Caddy introduced politics,
and expatiated on a public measure, which she said
was generally agreed to be more beneficial than any
that had been brought forward for half a century. It
was difficult to know what she was about, till she turned
to Lord Norbury and observed, that the world would
owe this blessing to his patriotism. " The world,
madam," answered he, "bestows on me a degree of
fame which I do not deserve, for I assure you, upon
my honour, the bill you so justly commended originat-
ed with Lord Avondel."

Emily, who w r ith the depressed composure of exalted
meekness had dropped her pensive head during this
ebullition of ill-will, which she knew was pointed at
her lord, suddenly felt her face glow with delight. She
darted a look of inexpressible satisfaction and grati-
tude at Lord Norbury. She roused from what might
be termed a stupor, but what really was the lively emo-
tion of sensibility, conscious of injury, yet too gentle
to contend, and viewing the champion of her lord's
honour with more than common approbation, she en-
tered into a spirited conversation with the young lord ;
who, while handing her to her carriage, observed, that
the warmth of her connubial attachment at once adorn-
ed and ennobled her beauty. " I detest invidious peo-
ple," said she, " as much as I honour candour ;" and
then in the gaiety and sincerity of her heart, kissed
her hand, bowed to Norbury, and drove home to tell
her lord how generously he had behaved.

Lord AvondePs love of praise rendered the cup of
flattery always grateful provided the ingredients were
well mixed, and offered with an air of gracefulness.
*' I think," said he, " I have been unjust to this young
man; I fancied him vain and frivolous, and thought
he regarded me with peculiar animosity."

" He did you noble justice," replied Emily. " But,
my dearest lord, you always leave me to hear of your



THE REFUSAL. 205

renown from strangers. Why did not you tell me that
your sleepless nights and thoughtful days were employ-
ed in perfecting this plan ? I should not then have been
terrified, sometimes with thinking I had offended you,
at others with fearing you were indisposed."

" I would cure you of your solicitude in this respect,
Emily, by giving you opportunities of discovering its
unreasonableness. Amid a hundred causes which may
account for my being serious or absent, will you never
allow yourself to fix on any that may neither impeach
my affection for you nor wound your own feelings ? But
with respect to Norbury, he has done me more than
justice, for he really threw out the original idea on
which I laboured till I gave it consistency and practi-
cability ; he is therefore justly entitled to share the re-
putation."

" He concealed all this," replied the countess, " and
spoke of you with such warmth of esteem that I quite
fell in love with him."

" 'Tis a pity he is so dissipated," resumed the earl ;
" he certainly has talents and penetration, and I now
hope principle. I have treated him too cavalierly, pos-
sibly a little regular society might correct his morals."

The next time they met at the office, Lord Avondel
returned Lord Norbury's bow with a less formal air.
The members were not assembled : " We punctual
men," said the earl, " may derive an advantage from
our early hours, since it will allow us an opportunity
of cultivating more than an official acquaintance."

u So," thought Norbury, " the bait has taken.
Charming little soul ! I see she can move this mighty
machine at pleasure, and the destined cornuto is as
tractable as I could wish." He then protested he was
the worst in the world at grave speeches, or he should
say it was his highest ambition to possess the private
as well as the political friendship of the Earl of
Avondel.

" We have lost too much time," said that nobleman,
" to waste any more in mere formality ; you must dine
with me to-day."



206



THE REFUSAL.



" I have but one objection, my lord, my heart is
very vulnerable, and the charms of your countess'' —

" Are defended by my entire confidence, and her
unswerving discretion," returned the earl with an air
of gravity.

" I am not such a determined coxcomb," answered
Norbury, u as to attempt vanquishing such invincible
guardians. My lord, I'll put a bandage on my eyes
and wait upon you*"

" Your lordship, I presume, has been too much ac-


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