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And accordingly, Mr. Jackson was asked to dinner, and became the butt of Mr. Frederic Feedwell and his friends. The next two years of his life Mr. Feedwell devoted to metaphysics; and at the end of it ascertained beyond a doubt that all women like white sauces better than brown; and what were the discoveries of Locke, Newton, or Galileo to this? At the conclusion of this period, Mr. Herbert Grimstone went chargé d'affaires to a German court, and took Mr. Frederic Feedwell with him as a sort of double; and by stuffing him into one of his own king's-button coats, made him useful in returning visits, and personating him where he was not known. Here Frederic became a great man, passing himself off as one of the legitimate Feedwells, whose name is a passe par tout, and doing all the mischief he possibly could, setting wife against husband, husband against wife, parent against child, and child against parent, in every house to which he had the entré.
It at length became known to him that his absence would oblige, and he returned to England, fortunately for himself, just on the first flush of the pauper parliaments, when he became member for Colchester for six weeks, and evinced his zeal for the local interests of the borough he had the honour to represent by devouring incredible quantities of the “Natives !” The best way of obtaining a popular carriage, he thought, was to be constantly seen upon the top of the mail between London and Colchester, where he hit upon a plan for advertising his senatorial honours that Mr. Rowland, of Macassar oil celebrity, might have envied; which was, whenever the coach stopped to change horses, crying out, “ Any one here want a frank? I shall be m-m-mmost happy to give them one." In his maiden speech he immortalized himself by combining a disparity of purpose and opinion perfectly unheard of in parliamentary annals; the debate was on the third reading of the Reform Bill, which was then at the crisis of its struggle. Mr. Frederic Feedwell rose, and looking round the house with the air of a Hampden, addressed the speaker as follows: “Sir, I differ in toto from the honourable member for
who has just sat down; I also totally disapprove of every single clause in this bill from first to last; but, nevertheless, I shall make it a point to v-v-v-vote for it:" in vain the speaker cried“ order, order;" the house was convulsed with laughter, and Mr. Frederic Feedwell rushed out of it, declaring that a man's best friends were always jealous of him the moment he did anything better or greater than themselves! It was impossible to know Mr. Frederic Feedwell, and not be reminded of Monsieur Fumlo's epigram every time one looked at him.
“Qu'il est heureux ce cher Monsieur Dorval,
Il s'aime, et n'a point de rival !" In point of agreeability, his whole stock-in-trade consisted of two anecdotes; the one à propos, or sometimes à propos des bottes, to religion, Sunday schools, or a mother hearing her child its catechism, which was as follows: and always prefaced with “Oh, yes, there is nothing like r-r-r-religion; you know the clergyman who was q-q-q-questioning a young girl from the catechism of Heidelberg, and put the first question, What is your only consolation in life and in death ? the girl r-r-refused for some time to answer; but when the priest insisted, she said, “Well, then, since you m-m-mmust know, it is the young shoemaker in Agneuxstreet !!” and, to add zest to these charming little morceaux, he had a trick of jerking the two fore-fingers of his right hand above his head at the conclusion of each of them. The other he always brought out at dinner à propos to any one's aspersing the cook's reputation by adding pepper or salt to what they were eating; the proem to this was invariably, “ I have no snuff, my dear fellow," with a shrug of the shoulders, to which the natural reply was, with a look of surprise, “Snuff! I did not ask for snuff.” “N-n-n-no, my dear fellow, but I never can see any one deluge a thing with pepper without thinking of the story of Kant's friend asking him to dinner one day at the table d'hôte at Königsberg, when a dish of vegetables being placed before a man who sat opposite to Kant, he immediately emptied the whole contents of the pepper-box into it, saying, 'I am exceedingly fond of this dish well peppered ; and I,' said Kant, spilling the whole contents of his snuff box again over the pepper, ‘am exceedingly fond of it with plenty of snuff !
Such were the group assembled when Cheveley entered; Mr. Fonnoir was holding forth upon Lord Denham's present position and future prospects; Mr. Spoonbill was listening most attentively to all he uttered there. upon ; Fuzboz was exclaiming, “how very true that is," to every “if” or “but” that fell from Mr. Fonnoir; and Mr. Frederic Feedwell was coaxing down his nose with his left hand, while with his right he unbuttoned the first two buttons of his waistcoat. From Lord Denham they got to Lord de Clifford.
“I wonder," said Mr. Fonnoir, “that the ministry does not do something for De Clifford.”
“ Yes, he's been of great use to them, I believe," replied Mr. Spoonbill.
“He's amazingly clever," interposed Fuzboz.
“A shocking brute to his wife, though, is he not ?" inquired Mr. Spoonbill.
“Oh, who cares for that,” pshawed Fuzboz, contemptuously ; here Lord Cheveley raised his eyes, and if looks could consume, the enlightened Fuzboz would have been reduced to ashes.
"To my own knowledge, I've seen her very provoking to him," said Mr. Fonnoir.
Cheveley actually writhed; and nothing but the conviction of the injury it would do Lady de Clifford kept him from reducing Mr. Fonnoir's perpendicular to a horizontal position on the spot.
“Ah, but you don't know what previous provocation he may have given her," premised the good-natured Spoonbill.
Cheveley came to a secret resolution of making his acquaintance the first opportunity.
" But what business have women to be provoked ?" fiated Mr. Fonnoir, with his short, husky, satyr laugh.
Mr. Frederic Feedwell, who had been hitherto silent for fear of impeding the progress of his digestion, now observed, as he turned his large blue saucer eyes full upon the mirror, “ I think he is very j-j-i-jealous of her."
“Well, I should say, there never was a man less so," said Fonnoir.
“Decidedly," echoed Fuzboz.
“Ah," said Mr. Frederic Feedwell, with a shrug and a jerk of the two fore-fingers of his right hand in alto, “I dare say y-y-y-you have no reason to think him so; b-b-b-but I judge from what I saw when I was staying in the house."
“ Well,” said Spoonbill, “I must say I never heard a breath against Lady de Clifford, so he surely can have no cause for his jealousy."
« Women,” said Mr. Frederic Feedwell, casting another look of proud devotion at the glass,“ have sometimes great temptation thrown in their way, and then every allowance must be m-m-m-made for them.”
“ Why, hang it, Feedwell,” laughed Mr. Spoonbill, contemptuously, “come, come, don't try to make us believe that their temptations, like those of St. Anthony, sometimes consist of prodigious bores (boars); it won't do, my good fellow, it won't do; the prima facie evidence is against you."
It was a fortunate circumstance for Mr. Frederic Feedwell's personal comfort that the words “ Viscountess de Clifford" caught Cheveley's eye, in a paragraph in the Morning Post, at the time of his compassionate speech with regard to the temptations women are sometimes exposed to, or à coup de pied might have given the coup de grace to his assertion; the paragraph was as follows:
6 Viscountess de Clifford. We regret to state that this amiable and distinguished lady now lies dangerously ill at Venice."
Chevely read no more; the letters swam before him, the room whirled round with him, and had Mr. Frederic Feedwell roundly declared that all Lady Clifford's unhappiness arose from a hopeless attachment to his own matchless self, he would not have heard him as he left the room and rushed down stairs; for, swift as lightning, he had taken the resolution of going to Mr. Neville's house, and ascertaining the truth of the paragraph he had just read ; in his way into the street he nearly jammed to death an unfortunate, half-evaporated looking man, who was coming to the Athenæum for “ change of dulness,” to finish an article for the Westminster Review, as he let the spring doors swing out of his hand and close upon the new arrival; and, upon gaining the street, he was walking hastily on, when his servant followed him with an “ I beg your pardon, my lord, but the carriage is here."
-"Eh, what, yes, but I don't want it; I'll walk home," stammered Cheveley.
“ If you please, my lord, it is snowing hard,” remonstrated the footman.
However, whether Cheveley pleased it or not, the snow, impelled by a northeast wind, came drifting fast in his face; but as he persisted in his intention of walk
ing home, the knight of the shoulder-knot was obliged to retire; and philosophically getting into the carriage himself, shut up the steps as he best could, and having, prior to drawing up the window, called out "home" in his usual sonorous voice, he threw himself back in the carriage, and came to the conclusion that any man walking on such a night who had a carriage at his disposal must be mad; and thought what a much better marquis he would have made than his master. Intensely cold as the night was, Cheveley was in a perfect feyer by the time he reached Berkeley Square, as he had walked there from Pall Mall in less than ten minutes, and it was not until he had turned into the square from Bruton-street that he stopped and remembered that he neither knew the number nor on which side of the square Mr. Neville's house was. As Gunter's door was still open and a light gleamed from the shutters, he was on the point of turning in there to ask, when the fear of being recognised deterred him. While he was deliberating as to how he should gain this necessary piece of information, a policeman passed, and his doubts were at once solved.
“Can you tell me,” said Cheveley, "what number Mr. Neville lives at in this square ?"
“Mr. Neville's house, sir,” said the man, civilly, and pointing to it with his stick as he spoke, “is No. — on the opposite side of the square, nearly the centre house."
Cheveley thanked him and hurried on; upon arriving at the door, his heart beat so violently that he had not courage to knock; and, as he leaned for a moment against the railing, an apothecary's boy, with a covered basket, came up, and selecting a packet from it, gave a sharp ring at the bell: the door was opened, the medicine given in, and the servant about to shut it again, when Cheveley advanced,
“Pray,” said he, making a strong effort to speak calmly and without embarrassment, “can you tell me where Lady de Clifford is now ? for I want to forward a parcel to her.” Luckily for Cheveley, there was no light in the outer hall, and that from the inner was not sufficiently bright to discover his pale and agitated face.
“She is somewhere abroad I know, sir,” replied the footman, “but where I cannot exactly say, for I have not been very long here; but I will call the butler, and