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Pigwidgeon bring himself to think so either. The Vicar looked as if he cared very little what Doctor Pigwidgeon thought on the subject.
“I don't take it upon me to decide the point,” said the apothecary; " but I'll take the liberty of proposing the health of my eloquent young friend. Let him choose what profession he may, he will be a credit to his parents and an ornament to his country.”
Mr. Pigwidgeon wanted an excuse for another glass of port before he took his leave, which he did immediately after toasting Reuben. As it was growing late, his son rose at the same time to accompany his father home.
“The boy is just as fit for the bar, as he is to be prime minister,” said Mr. Pigwidgeon senior to Mr. Pigwidgeon junior, as they walked bome together, pretty well replenished with the Vicar's plain but excellent fare.
“ But didn't you think it a beautiful speech ?" said the son. “ Bah, flummery,” said the father.
"I'm drowsy," said the Doctor, yawning with might and main.
“So am I,” said the apothecary, making the same demonstration.
MRS. MEDLICOTT HAS A LUCID INTERVAL A STORM SUCCEEDED BY
MRS. MEDLICOTT had her lucid intervals like other
and in one of those which occurred the following day, she was providentially brought to see the folly of encouraging her son in the notions which Hyacinth Primrose and Caius Marcius Coriolanus had put into his head. She locked up Reuben's orations in a certain omnium gatherum press of hers which contained other treasures of the same kind, and wrote him one of the few really sensible letters which he had ever received from her. The Dean would never have heard a word of the matter if it had not been for Mr. Pigwidgeon's gossiping, in which, as usual, there was always a spice of malice, even when his best friends were the subject of his tongue. The only excuse for the apothecary was, that he was in the habit of making so free at table, that he never retained a very clear recollection of an after-dinner conversation. He soon noised it abroad that young Medlicott was to be a lawyer, contrary to his father's inclinations, and against his own advice. We have seen that among other branches of his profession he was a chiropodist, in plain English a corncutter. Among his patients in that line was Dean Wyndham's friend and crony, Mr. Oldport, and it happening about this time that the Canon stood in need of Mr. Pigwidgeon's services, the apothecary drove in his gig to visit him; and to beguile the time which his operations occupied, as well as the pain which they occasioned, what better could he do than to retail all the little parochial news he could collect, and it would have been strange if he had omitted the latest intelligence from the Vicarage, so likely to be interesting to a brother clergyman. In fact, the Canon introduced the subject himself by kindly inquiring for his friend the Vicar.
“ Medlicott's falling into flesh, of late,” he said, presenting his foot to the apothecary as politely as it is possible for one man to present another with that part of the person.
"He's too heavy an eater," said Mr. Pigwidgeon. “You ought to caution him against that,” said the Canon. “So I do," answered Pigwidgeon, and so indeed perhaps he did, but it was altogether by precept, not at all by his example.
" And how is his clever son ? I was greatly struck with him one day he dined with me. Talks a little too much, but promises to talk well. A little of Coleridge. Getting on well at the University ?"
The apothecary wagged his head, and with all his chins shaking together gave his patient a ludicrous account of Reuben's oratory, and the discussion to which it had given rise on the subject of the bar, detailing especially, and with many little malignant exaggerations, the public reading in the Vicar's garden, of the great speech about Coriolanus, all which extremely diverted the Canon, who said he would have given a golden guinea to have been present, or to have had a peep over the hedge. In short, Mr. Pigwidgeon, partly through his blundering, and partly through his sycophantic eagerness to make himseif agreeable to his patient, no matter at whose cost, left the Canon under the impression that Mr. Medlicott was so excessively weak as to be induced by the puerile effusions of his son in a debating society, to alter all his plans for the boy's career in life. From Mr. Oldport this intelligence spread to the Dean, by the
most natural channel in the world, as they were regular correspondents. The Dean happened to be near Cambridge at the time; the first thing was to write a brimstone letter to the calumniated Vicar, and then in a teinpest of indignation, after the true Sir Anthony Absolute fashion, he invaded Reuben's chambers.
Reuben had received his mother's letter of remonstrance several days previously, had acquiesced in her views most dutifully, and fully made up his mind to adhere to his original intentions of going into orders as soon as his academic race was run, always provided he felt the proper spiritual dispositions. He was particularly unfortunate in the moment his grandfather chose for paying him this visit, for a volume of Blackstone's Commentaries which Primrose had lent him was lying conspicuously on his table, and he was actually engaged in preparing a speech upon the feudal system, to be made at the next meeting of the society. The Dean, therefore, thought he had caught him flagrante delicto, and nerer did father or grandfather, either on the stage, or in real life, deluge an unlucky young man with such a flood of abuse and invective.
Reuben endeavoured to speak, knowing that in a few words he could dispel the misapprehension under which the old gentleman was labouring; but he might as well have tried to gain an audience in a West-Indian hurricane.
The Dean began by telling him he was no more fit for the law than he was to command the navy; then he asked him what single qualification for the bar he possessed ?-had he the brain, or even the stomach, which that turbulent, laborious, and anxious profession required ? No man knew better than he, the Dean, did what the requisites of a lawyer were. What private means had he to support him until there was the remotest likelihood of being able to support himself by his profession? A young fellow without a sixpence in the world! What possession was he under ? Was he out of his senses ? Were his parents -in their senses? Here he snatched up the book that lay open on the table, and finding it was a Blackstone, flung it down with violence on the table, and resumed his tirade in a more exalted and passionate tone, like “ Boreas talking to Auster,” as Dr. Donne expresses it.
“ You want the physical qualifications, boy, I tell you. There's nothing of the bull-dog in you. Who are your advisers ? You don't know yourself. Who has stuffed your head with this nonsense ? What business have you in debating societies ? Mind your inathematics. What's Coriolanus to you, sir ?"
Nothing,” replied Reuben, with a simplicity which took the choleric Dean by surprise, and checked his violence for a moment; but, noticing the papers that were strewed about, he snatched some of them up, and perceiving at once that they were notes of a speech, and a speech on a legal subject, he blew another gale stiffer than before, if that had been possible.
Reuben acted extremely well through a scene in which he had a difficult part to play. After this first unsuccessful interruption, he preserved a rigid but most respectful silence (only glowing with indignation when his grandfather most unjustly called in question his brains), until the time for reply was fully come, and then he quietly explained what, if he had been suffered to explain before, would have saved his grandfather the trouble and physical exertion of making such a hubbub about nothing.
“I am glad to hear it," said the Dean, sitting down to rest himself, and at the same time wiping his broad forehead ; for he had talked himself into a streaming perspiration.
Reuben showed him his mother's letter, which pleased him, and he even condescended to wish he had seen it before he had written to the Vicar under his erroneous impression.
“Who is Pigwidgeon ?" said the Dean.
“He must have read your speech, or heard it read," said the Dean. “I made a speech about Coriolanus myself, when I was a freshman."
Reuben smiled at this admission, and thought it not improbable his grandfather had made a speech on the feudal system also.
" But pray, sir,” he asked eagerly, “was Mr. L'igwidgeon your informant ?”
"He informed my informant," said his grandfather.
Reuben now saw to whom he was indebted for this unpleasant fracas with his venerable relative, and he did not allow the post to leave Cambridge without bearing a letter to his father; the effect of which was that the Vicar walked into the village within half an hour after he received it, and administered a bitter pill to the apothecary, in the form of a very severe rebuke for his unwarrantable violation of the confidences of private life. Mrs. Medlicott was highly incensed also ; so that Mr. Pigwidgeon entirely lost the good-will of the Vicarage by his shabby behaviour in this affair, and never afterwards reinstated himself completely.
Reuben had never known his grandfather so gracious as he became, all of a sudden, on finding that his wishes were still as
the laws of the Medes and Persians with his daughter and her husband. He insisted on Reuben dining with him at his hotel, and Hyacinth Primrose happening to drop in before he left the college, he extended the same civility to him. In the course of the day he strolled about a great deal with the two young men, like some redoubted peripatetic philosopher with his pupils dangling after him. To listen reverentially to Doctor Wyndham, receiving everything that fell from his lips as if it were honey of Hybla or gold of Ophir, was an infallible receipt for keeping him in good humour; and it was sometimes well worth while to pay him this sort of homage, for when he was serene and pleased with his company, no man discoursed more instructively or entertaiuingly, and for young men his conversation was particularly improving. On the present occasion, after making some excellent remarks upon debating societies, and balancing their advantages and dangers with great shrewdness and discrimination, he talked largely and eloquently upon the profession of the law, returning in good humour to the subject which he had handled shortly before in so termagant a fashion. His fluency, vigour, and knowledge of life, surprised and delighted Primrose, who was now in his company for the first time. The Dean recurred to his idea of the bull-dog, and when he heard that Primrose was designed for the bar, he hoped he had a dash of that pugnacious breed in him.
"A lawyer," he repeated, “is nothing without it; he wants it every day of his life, either to bully a witness, beard a judge, wrangle with his brethren, or thrust his own views of the case down the throats of the jury.”
Primrose ventured to say that something of the spaniel seemed often to be a very useful element in the lawyer's character.
“ The crown-lawyers, for instance," said the Dean, approving of Primrose's remark; “but what say you to a cross between the bull-dog and spaniel, perhaps that would be the best dog of all."
“ I think, sir," said Reuben modestly, “ a dog of that breed would make a good attorney-general.”
Very well,” said the Dean, poking his grandson in the ribs with the end of his stick; very well, indeed, -and now let us go to dinner.”