R. D. (Richard Doddridge) Blackmore.

The remarkable history of Sir Thomas Upmore, bart., M.P., formerly known as Tommy Upmore (Volume 2) online

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all created beings, somebody perhaps, with a
foot like a duck, and a back like the" bole of
a Churchyard yew, — " Well, if I did have a
husband at all, I should like one to make a
mark, when the ground is wet ; I should like
one, who could come round a corner safely,
without looking for a church-tower, to see what
way the wind is. Ah, I see how he manages so
well down here — because you've got such a lot
of weathercocks ! Miss Twentifold, what would
you say to yourself, for slighting good solid
Englishmen, if your bridegroom made it a
honey-moon indeed, by soaring to the moon,
and leaving you to weigh the honey ? "


Triilj", there are people who Avoiild say all
that ; however far beyond their own business it
might be. But would they have the chance of
saying it ? If so, they would be welcome ; for
the right word would be mine — the woixl that
was worth all the world, and its works.

While I was entering into these thoughts, on
the road from the Station to Twentifold Towers,
Sir Roland was preparing a little device ; in
my opinion neither friendl}^, nor brotherly, nor
even seemly. Having returned the day before,
he sent a groom with a dog-cart, to bring me
and my luggage from the Eailway, according to
the train agreed upon; and a pleasant drive
it would have been, except for the troubles
invading my heart. Lut just as we came to
a little gate, opening into the grounds, about
half a mile from the house, the man said to me,

"If you please, sir, would you mind taking
the short cut here to the front ? I have got a
little job to do at the blacksmith's ; and Sir
Eoland said, I had better not keep you waiting.
I shall be home with your traps, about a quarter
of an hour after you."


I was rather glad to stretch my legs with a
pleasant walk, on such a lovely afternoon ; so
I took my bit of oak, with which I had gone
to encounter Professor Brachipod, and cheer-
fully entered on the footpath way. But when
I had walked about a hundred yards, swing-
ing my stick in defiance of dull care, and
indulging in a song (which is a favourite of
mine, because I have steered so many crews
to triumph with it) —

" The flag that braves a thousand years,
The battle, and the breeze ! "

Suddenly in a bosky dell, I stood face to face
with Sir Eoland, and his sister. Laura was
amazed; and so was I. And Sir Eoland
maliciously kept his eyes intent upon his
sister's face.

*' Why, Tommy, what a nightingale you are!"
he said. "We took a little stroll, for the
chance of this meeting. Well done, old fellow !
I am very glad to see you. I forgot to tell you,
Laura, what a treat we might expect. Why,
you don't seem at all glad to see friend
Tommy ! "


" Mr. Upmore knows that I am always glad
to see him;" the sweet voice, which always
made me tremble, re^Dlied ; as she put her hand
in mine, and faced the sun, with a lovelier
blush than he can kindle in the west; "but I
did not in the least expect to see him ; and in
these lonely places, one is taken by surprise."

" I should think so indeed ! " I exclaimed,
with a glance of great indignation at her
brother, who was smiling, [as calmly as if he
had done nothing; "but Sir Eoland thought,
doubtless, that it was not worth while, to speak
of a visitor so insignificant."

"I am sure it was not that," she answered
softly; "but he is now so full of politics, that
we must excuse him everything. For an hour,
I have had to listen to nothing but a lecture
upon the Constitution. Oh, I do think the trees
are so much more glorious, than the poor little
men who cut them down ! "

This was uncommonly clever on her part ; for
it set her brother off upon his favourite tirade,
which he never missed a chance of delivering.
And so we walked into the avenue, pretending


to listen \Yitli the deepest interest ; while I only
knew that at my side was Laura ; and she, to
make up for the slight put upon me, gave many
kind glances, and one or two delicious smiles.

"To-morrow, remember, no waste of time,
to-morrow ! " her brother said firmly, as soon as
he had got to the bottom of the very deep vials
of his wrath, by which time we were at the
door almost; "no spooning about trees, or the
beauties of nature, or any other beauties, — but
good solid work. "We shall breakfast early, and
have a long day at it. I shall drive you to the
" Tr lie-Blue Hotel " myself, and take with me a
fellow, who has a brother at the paper-mills. I
have a grand trick against old Squelch, in the
bottom of my turbid heart, as some ancient
writer calls it."

" You seem to be getting very fond of tricks ; "
cried his sister, as she ran away, to dress for
dinner; "perhaps some will be played upon you,
before long."

Such was my state now of mind, heart, and
soul — as well as of body, which had long been
in training for a great constitutional effort —


that the paper-mill-man might have xDassed
through his mill, as waste paper, the promises
made him. Sir Eoland had eight or nine
carriages sent from the Towers, of three genera-
tions, including some now in use for cock-lofts ;
and we took all the children of Larkmount, in
batches, for a drive, with their XDinnies full of
sugar-plums. There was nothing in the Briberj'
Acts as yet, to make such a proceeding penal;
though now, if a candidate takes a fly out of the
eye of a child, he is bound to ask firmly — " My
dear, is your father an elector? Oh, then, I
must iDut that fly back into your eye ; or else
my election will be null and void."

But the way these children enjoyed their
drives, in a carriage with two horses — for none
of them had less — and a big coat of arms, and
a hand sticking up ; and the way they drummed
their feet, and holloaed — "Vote for Tommy!.
Down with Squelch !

"Down with the paper-man, brown and old!
Up with young Tommy, all curls and gold! "

— it was indeed a day to make one proud of the
British Constitution.

VOTE FOR tommy! 241

" We'll do it again. We'll do it three times ;
if you are all good true-blue children ; " Sir
Roland said to the biggest-voiced ones, when
the horses had made a good day of it ; " blue
jackets for the boys, and for the pretty girls
blue bonnets, or hats, if they stand to their
principles. But no yellow, mind you ; touch no
dirty yellow. Yellow fever, and jaundice for
you, if you do. You shall all have the Gee-
gees, to go and vote for Tommy."

" Vote for Tommy ! All curls and gold ! "

We heard the clear voices from the hill in
chorus, for half a mile, or more, of our home-
ward road.

Elated as I was, by this triumph of pure
principles, and display of unselfish innocence,
all I kept asking myself was this — ''Will a body,
worth the Constituency piled on the top of the
Constitution, and the Kingdom on the top of
the Continent, ever be persuaded to ' vote for
Tommy ? ' I must know my fate. I can't go
on, like this. To-night I shall have to carry
on again, as if all I cared about was piano and



back-gammon ; and tobacco and billiards, after-
wards. Eoly is full of resources ; but I seem
somehow to have lost the very simplest move of
tactics ! Where are all my wits gone ? I am
only fit to be in the Government."

But if my wits stood me in no stead, Luck
(which is a very far higher power, coming
immediate from Heaven), she — for beyond any
doubt she is female, like the Angels— down she
came, and stood at my right hand, and ordered
me to listen, while she did my work for me.

"Ptoly," Lady Twentifold said, when I had
sung my song about the flag, which was now
become a plague ; "he has done a very hard

ay's work to-day, and he is not made of iron
as you are. To-morrow, he shall have a whole
holiday, with me and Laura, at Crowton and
Sunny Bay. You have got business at Ipswich,
I know, and will not be back till dinner-time.
But if Tommy will not find it dull to come with
us, and the day is as fine as to-day has been,
we will go and see Sunny Bay — such a pretty
place ! — and look for shells, and sharks' teeth,
and carnelians. Unless you would rather go


practising, Tommy, with the keeper, before they
come shooting again ? There are plenty of
pheasants, in some places, still."

" No ; he had better go with you ; " Sir
Eoland answered for me, as he loved to do.
" The fates have been against Tommy's shoot-
ing so far. He has only been out with me
twice at the rabbits, back in the summer ; but
I find thee apt ; and duller should'st thou be
than the fat cigar, Tommy — none shall teach
thy young idea how to shoot, but I. Go thou
with the mother, and play at periwinkles, and
sandhoppers, and cowries ; an thou wilt."




In all the wide world, there are lovelier bays
than any to be found upon our eastern coast.
But x^eople, whose happiness is only com-
parative, may hie them away to superlative
places, of Italy, or of the Cannibal Islands.

But for me, there is no place that need be
more lovely, than Sunny Bay, when there is no
sun upon it ; except what goes out from the
shore into the sea. A bay in the west takes an
unfair advantage — it looks at its best, when the
world is looking at it. While nobody gets up to
see the best time of an easterly bay ; or even if
he does, he has nobody to admire it with him.
And what use to admire a thing, by oneself ?

Yet anything, fit to be called a bay, is so rare


upon the weary stretch of coast, that it must
not be looked in the mouth too closely, nor
measured by the red tape of Government
survey. If only it have a fairly carven curve,
and two definite points not too far apart, a
bay it is to be thankful for ; and one to be
proud of, and rejoice in, if there are hills and
trees around it.

Sunny Bay had all of these ; and as we drove
down the Crowton lane towards it, I thought
I had never seen anything so beautiful, the sea
being gentle, and the sky clear and. sweet.
Lady Twentifold was pleased with my delight ;
for many of her visitors made very little of it.

"It is the prettiest place upon the eastern
coast ; at least in my humble opinion," she
said, " though I do not j)retend to be much of
a judge. Eoly makes light of it, after all his
travels. But to me the familiar places are the
sweetest; when we think of dear friends, who
have seen them with us."

I looked at her eyes, stiU as beautiful as ever,
and full of the warm home-love, which gives
soft beauty to the simplest things.


"Laura is like her!" I said to myself;
" Laura is like her. What more can be wished;
except to share so sweet a heart ? "

But the first thing to do was to share the
dinner, or luncheon perhaps is the stricter
word, if strict words are needful in a matter
where none was. The carriage was sent away
to the Inn at Crowton ; for no house here
intruded upon the pleasant meeting of land
and sea. The rocks were just of the proper
height, for table, chairs, and footstools, with
bright green fringes, here and there, and mossy
banks above the tide, and a crystal rill for
the weaker vessels, and white sand for dainty
feet to tap. To me it appeared, that all was
perfect ; except my clumsy self, with hands that
trembled, and a heart that beat too fast.

" You are not well, my dear! " Lady Twenti-
fold exclaimed, for she often addressed me
kindly thus, when strangers were not present ;
chiefly perhaps from my fancied likeness to the
dear child she had lost. " That canvassing has
been too much for you. You are not intended
for public life. I wish Eoly would not force you


into it so. Now, candidly, whicli do you enjoy
the most ; such a day as yesterday, or a day
like this ? "

With perfect truth, I answered — " Oh, such
a day as this, a million times ! But, I am as
well as I can be, and wonderfully happy, I
assure you. May I come, and look for shells
with you? "

"To be sure you may. But don't forget your
promise to my loves of burrow-ducks. You had
better begin, before the tide comes up. Here
are the flat trowel, and the long flag _ basket.
Mind, the least touch brings them off, if you
take them by sui'prise. But if you let them
know that you want them, they won't come,
without being knocked to pieces. My little
dears were taken from their nest near here.
And the scenery they prefer to everything, is
limpets. Now, Laura, if you mean to try
another sketch, I think this corner of the rocks,
will be the best place for you, according to the
way the light falls now. Tommy will follow me,
I dare say ; as soon as he has done his duty to
the little ducks."


This arrangement was not quite the one I
should have made, if the ordering had been left
to me. Greatly as I admired, and loved " my
dear lady," I certainly should have sent her
shell-hunting ; while I stayed in the corner,
where the light fell so nicely, to offer to the
nascent work of art the only criticism that
ever is judicious — downright, thick-and-thin,
admiration. However, not being the marshal
of the forces, I made off, with tremendous zeal,
to get a stock of limpets.

But, whether the tide was coming in too fast ;
or whether it was going out, at a pace to make
one anxious about the welfare of the sea; or
whether the limpets took to jumping, like sand-
hoppers, carrying their rocks along with them ;
or whether there was no strange phenomenon at
all, save the one that is strangest yet surest of
all — the result, (which I am not in a position
to explain, even if it concerned any salaried tide-
waiter) was to fetch me very suddenly back
to that corner; with the loves of the burrow-
ducks left to woo the waves.

My own love was gazing, and, as I hoped,


dreaming, about something that her pencil could
not trace. That little reed of so many whispers,
with the secret of Midas inside it, was lying on
her block ; and the only line it made, was its
one true production — its own shadow. But who,
that ever moved it, and made it far more
eloquent than any poet's tongue, could have
granted to it the expression of the face, now
leaning over it ?

"What sympathy have rocks ? Ever since
they first began, the chief object of their life
has been to knock human beings (generally on
the shins, and knees) and to petrify them in
a cave, at every opportunity, and to keep them
from getting away from the sea, when the poor
pulse is being beaten out of them. Typical are
they of all that is stubborn, rugged, and relent-
less ; and now one of them fetched me a knock
on the knee (while my presence of mind was
with Laura) that sent me down into a gulley
of sand, with my limpet-trowel running into
me. This was a pointed steel implement, such
as bricklayers use ; and my escape was narrow.
A heavy man must have had a very heavy


wound, and perhaps a fatal one ; for the handle
of the trowel struck the ground before me, while
the steel was pointing at my breast. But Nature
has allowed me some compensation for the short
weight unfairly served out to me, — especially
quickness of eye, and of body. In a word, what
there is of me is good stuff — though not much
to boast of, as you will remind me.

" Oh, what a fearful thing ! What a very
dreadful thing ! Darling Tommy, are you quite
dead again ? You are always doing it, for the
good of others. Oh, put your poor head up, and
let me look at you."

" That is not at all the right thing," I
answered, after a groan or two, to ensure atten-
tion ; *' the proper thing is, for me to look at
you. And that is how I got into all this

" How good of you, Tommy ! How very good
of you ! But do let me see, where your dreadful
wound is. I won't be afraid of it, I promise
you I won't ; because you got it all for my
sake. You are always getting wounds, for my


" Of course I am. And why ? " As I put this
question, I continued to lie in the pit of my
fall; the position being very nice, with Laura
added to it. " Because I am all wounds, and
all dead, for you."

" Now, don't be so stupid ; " she said, with one
arm going under my side, in a spirit of inquiry,
and the other coming very softly round my neck ;
to coax me to get up, if I could only find the
power. "You know, that you never are stupid,
unless you are stunned, or bewildered, through
your dreadful heroism. Oh, do let ma try to
get this fearful thing from under you. I won't
cut my hands ; and if I do, what can it matter ?
Very likely, you are bleeding to death, all this
time. Why don't you let me see, where your
terrible wound is ? "

"Because, I have only got a little scratch,"
I answered; " and I feel so very comfortable, as
I am. If you could put your face the very least
bit nearer "

"Do you think, you could lie quiet, while I
go and fetch my mother ? She has so much
presence of mind, and she is "


" How far away ? " I asked in an earnest

" Oh, nearly a mile along the sands, I am

" Then I'll get up at once, if you will kindly
try to help me. Only promise, that you won't
be frightened by a little scratch, dear. It is
nothing but the very smallest trifle, I assure
you. I know one thing that would make it well
at once. But there's no such luck for me as
that. Both hands, darling — I may call you that
now, mayn't I ? "

*' Just for the moment, while you are so sad,
and helpless. Oh, but it is a very serious
wound ! Let me tie it up for you ; it is bleed-
ing quite fast. I know what to do for you. I'll
put some laver to it."

The point of the steel had just gashed my
chin — a narrow shave for me ; as an inch or two
lower would have sent it into my throat, no

" If you could hold the laver to it, while I run
and fetch dear mother "

" Not for the world. I want you, and you


only. I love your clear mother very warmly,
as you know. But oh, Laura, you can never
know, how I love you ! "

" You are taking an unfair advantage of me
now ; " she whispered, as she dropped her eyes,
but not her hands ; " I always thought, that you
were so upright, and manly."

" So I am ; " I answered, with my usual
candour ; " but I don't care how I sneak, or
what I do ; if I can only get you to be fond of

" What right have you to talk, with your chin
in that condition ? You will undo all the good
my stupid hands can do you."

She raised her sweet eyes, to reproach me,
as she spoke. And behold they were full of
large bright tears !

I only said — "Darling, darling, darling!"
each time, if possible, with greater fervour.
And she answered, with a smile—" That is what
I like to be."




The Government of England never guides us
long, without guiding itself into a fearful mess.
The Tories, and the Radicals, are much alike in
this ; but they differ very widely in their way of
getting out of it. The former resign, or appeal
to the Country ; which seldom responds to their
chivalry. The latter jumble up, (instead of
joining) issue ; and jump into Jack-of-the-lantern
vagaries, all over any bog, where nobody can
shoot them.

This was the policy in practice now. Our foreign
relations, being anything but friendly, were to
be allowed to please themselves at our expense ;
while the gaze of the Country should be turned
inward, and its hands employed in tearing their
own vitality. Very grand measures were being


prepared, for a fine subversion of established
things ; Liberal statesmen being quite convinced
by their own condition, that the universe was
wrong. Of all these projects the Country heard,
with its usual self-complacence, growing more
and more accustomed to be managed, and driven,
by some half-dozen busybodies; according to the
usage of democracies.

" We must make a stand somewhere," said
sensible people ; but left somebody else to make
it. " I draw the line at this," or " I draw the
line at that," declared the steadfast Briton ; but
if he drew it anywhere, it was only in the clouds.
What could any single hand, or even a hundred
stout men, with a hundred hands apiece, avail,
when things were gone so far ? The only man,
who could extinguish the fire, was the very man
blowing his large bellows at it ; and in the head-
strong weakness of his nature, he had shouted for
a gentleman smaller than himself, but skilful in
the manufacture of malignity.

So httle desire had I, to share, in the rough
affray impending, and so keenly did I feel my
own helplessness, that nothing but Sir Eoland's


stern resolve could have held me to the pledge
of public life. All I cared for was, to be allowed
to take my Laura, who had promised to give
herself to me ; and it recked me very little how
the public might be governed, if my home might
boast so sweet a Queen. But, although Lady
Twentifold had given her consent, and waived
all obstacles of pride and birth, in the warmth
of her good-will towards me, she made it a con-
dition that we must secure the concm*renee of
her son, as the head of the family, and master of
the race of Twentifold. And he (while as friendly
to me as ever, and faithful to his promise not
to interfere) sternly pronounced that he never
would consent, until I had rendered some good
service to the Country.

" How am I to do it ? " I inquired, with sound
reason. "Your condition amounts to a total
forbiddance. I have no great abilities, as you
are well aware. I shall never be an orator. I
cannot even put ten big w^ords together, without
breaking down. To move the public ear now, the
tongue must thunder forth a thousand thumping
words, for every hollow tooth of meaning. And


not only that, Ijut a fellow must bo able to work
liis words, so as to have two kinds of meaning — ■
one for the public, and one for himself; when he
linds it important to deny them. No, Eoly, I
shall never be distinguished. No honest man
has any chance of that."

'"How high can you go now, with a little
indignation?" he asked, instead of answering
me. " I know that you are practising ; although
you are so crafty, that no one has a bit of chance
of seeing you. Why should you l)e shy of a
power, so much rarer than the most entrancing
eloquence ? Prepare ; you can never pre^iare
too much. If I could only do what you can.
Tommy, I would have a Dissolution in February,
and be the Premier, after a very little practice.
Why don't you let me laiow, how you get
on ? "

"Because you don't deserve it ; " I answered
with some spirit ; and by this time he knew that
I had some will of my own. " If you had said
to me, about my darling Laura — ' Tommy, you
shall have her ; and I trust to your own good
feeling, not to leave a stone unturned, for the dis-

VOL. II. s


comfiture of the Radicals ' — you might have had
me for your dog, — to sit up, or dance round the
room, or jump over your handkerchief, at order.
That would have been the wiser course for you
to take."

I spoke with some emotion ; and to my mind
my words appeared altogether unanswerable.
But he looked at me steadily, and his face
expressed no sense of contrition. Neither did
his answer.

" I considered all that ; but I found it would
be an entire mistake, so to trust you. Not from
any doubt of your honour, my dear fellow, or
desire to oblige me, after date. But simply
because all your power would be gone. For a
twelvemonth, after you have married Laura —
supposing that such a thing ever comes to pass
— there will be no i^ossibility of stirring up any
indignation in your system. She is so con-
foundedly sweet-tempered, that you (who have
got too much of that already) doubling your
stock — as married people do, at first — would
regard the loss of India, or even a French
invasion, with perfect equanimity ; if they let


j^oii alone with your Laura. And without indig-
nation, you have no wings now. I have taken
the trouble to ascertain that point. And my
settled conviction is, that after you are married,
you will never fly again, until you have a good
fight with Lam-a."

" "What a very low, and coarse way you have
of putting things ! " I exclaimed with — as our
Poets say — a mixture of emotions. Eapture, at
the thought of ever having Laura ; rage, at the
base idea of ever falling out with her; and
astonishment at Sir Eoland's foresight, and
grasp of the matter, in all its bearings. " Why,
you look upon me, entirelj^ as a subject for

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Online LibraryR. D. (Richard Doddridge) BlackmoreThe remarkable history of Sir Thomas Upmore, bart., M.P., formerly known as Tommy Upmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 15)