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BOOK THE NINTH.
“Now, the melancholy god protest thee; and the tailor make thy doublet of particoloured taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal. I would have men of such constancy put to sea, that their business might be everything, and their intent everywhere; for that's it that makes a good voyage of nothing."-Twelfth Night.
“ The fancy the vulgar have for men of showy abilities, whose sparkling often proceeds from the intrinsic shallowness of their parts, is not unlike the taste which may be observed to prevail of a shining night among the spectators of the heavens for dancing meteors, shooting stars, and all sorts of flickering vapoury splendours, while the great and permanent features of the firmament shine unnoticed,-neither honoured for their grandeur nor admired for their beauty. You shall find the superb planets the true and old-established nobility of the sky-mighty Saturn, with his wondrous rings; belted Jove, with his brilliant staff of satellites; loveliest Venus, sister to the Moon, with the warrior Mars, in his brazen panoply :-you shall find them all slighted and overlooked, while the herd of star-gazers are intent upon some skipping exhalation, or some parvenu of a comet with the beard of a Jew, or the tail of a baboon. The vulgar notion of genius is something meteoric, and, above all things, vagrant in its habits,--sparkling, rather than shining, -shooting in all directions, rather than advancing in any,--more of a squib than a star, or, at most, a star without a pole or an orbit
. “Such are the luminaries the multitude gaze at, and applaud, while the genuine lights of the world—condescending to have spheres, and to keep them, and pursuing their respective paths, whether of high studies or serious duties--are neglected for the very fixity of their steadiness of their flame. In fact, there is no such plodder 'as talent of the higher order; no drudge like genius, whether it works in the mines of truth, to extend the boundaries of science ; labours with the soldier in the field, to protect the frontiers of the kin om; or toils in the cabinet or the senate, in the still more arduous cares of legislation and government.
" True ambition, inseparable from great powers, is content with magnificent results, and never impatient with the homely and undistinguished steps that lead to them. The quality of patience enters largely
purposes and into the idea of genius. The man of genius imitates the operations of nature, which are not grander in their issues than slow, and generally minute, in their processes. Perseverance not only 'keeps honour bright,' but is an essential qualification for the winning of the brightest honours ; Ambition has this in common with bis illegitimate brother Avarice; the former, like the latter, prospers in his designs more frequently by gradual increments and advances, than by sudden enterprises and surprising strokes. More men reach the summits of the world by climbing than by flying. It is possible, even, to creep into renown. Ars longa, as Hippocrates laid it down-Hippocrates, whose life my friend Primrose has not yet had time to write. The gate of the Temple of Fame turns upon two hinges—Virtue and labour. The wise poet put this lesson into the mouth of his wise as well as pious hero
6 · Disce puer virtutem ex me, verumque laborem."
* Tulus had a sager father than Icarus.
Why, what a peevish fool was he of Crete,
“But in Dædalus, the legendary artist immortalised by the labours of science, we may recognise, if we please, the type of honour legitimately won by patient intellectual toil; in which case the only fool will be he who disdains the same humble track to glory, and plunged into the Icarian sea, expressly to point our moral. There are architects of their own fortunes, and there are architects, also, of their own misfortunes. Who reckons on the stability of a house run up in a night? Faery palaces are only durable in song. The song itself owes its vitality to the common source of all great works and great reputations.”—A fragment from the Essays, Moral, Economical, Political, and Miscellaneous, of the late Mr. Reuben Medlicott.
THERE is a certain time in the lives of all men, who start in the world with fervent hopes and ambitious aspirations, when they are apt to look round about them, and measure their successes or their failures by the positions of their friends and contemporaries. If they do not themselves institute such comparisons, there are people enough ready to do it for them. ' In the case of Mr. Medlicott, how now did the matter stand ? The men who may be said to have entered the race along with him, and to have been in some measure his competitors, were Henry Winning, Primrose, and De Tabley. Of Vigors, his only other intimate friend at Hereford, he had entirely lost sight from the time of his leaving school. Henry Winning was now an eminent lawyer, making a large income, talked of as a likely man to be the next solicitor-general, and looking out for an introduction to parliament, not as a mere freak or speculation, but as a step indispensably necessary to be taken at the brilliant point he had now reached in his professional career. De Tabley had also prospered. Combining intellectual with convivial tastes-and, fortunately for the cause of polite hilarity, they enter into combination extremely well—he had early fixed his desires upon the possession of some permanent and well-appointed office under the crown; and, through the interest of his friends, he had found, in the Comptrollership of the Navy-Victualling Department, just the snug and appropriate berth he coveted. With the fortune of Mr. Primrose the reader is already acquainted. He entered the Church soon after the events related in the previous book, and became the bishop's chaplain and son-in-law immediately afterwards, with all the fair emoluments, and fairer prospects, appertaining to the two situations. Reuben, on the other hand, was in the position of a man who had successively embraced and abandoned two professions; he had quarrelled with his best friends; he had no property but a few shares in some Brazilian mines, and no income but what he derived from the poor little wife whom he had so daringly married, and who had already made him the father of three children, including little Chichester, who had such a merry christening, and now promised to be a formidable rival to his distinguished relative, the right wonderful Tom Wyndham.
To balance all this, however, he was no longer the “coming Man." The Man was come. He had now only to fulfil his promises—only to realise the expectations of that portion of the public in whose eyes he filled a space so considerable. He was a member of parliament, invested with one six-hundred-and-fiftyeighth of its importance, and wielding the same fraction of its vaunted omnipotence. He franked letters, made laws, put questions to Cabinet ministers, and taxed his fellow-subjects. Brave privileges these! but he would have enjoyed them more comfortably and securely, had he been indebted for them to something more solid than the repute of a silver tongue. He entered the House of Commons, not merely as an adventurer, but an adventurer who had failed in several enterprises before he tried statesmanship and speculated on the senate. It is easier to talk of independence under such circumstances than to get credit for it, and easier to commend Andrew Marvel than follow his example. Mr. Medlicott, however, started with only too rigid notions of purity; for he not merely resolved to seek nothing for himself, but to ask nothing for anybody else; which latter determination was by no means as acceptable as the former to many of his friends and acquaintances, particularly in the place which had sent him to parliament.
Before parliament met, Mr. Medlicott took a house in London, or rather Mr. and Mrs. Primrose took one for him, and laughing enough they had about it.
In London there are many very great streets which contain very small houses, so as to enable people of small incomes to live in the closest neighbourhood with people of the largest fortunes. For instance, in Piccadilly, wedged in amongst the palaces of princes and mansions of peers, as it were to fill up a crevice and keep the street steady, there stood at the period we speak of, and probably is still standing, a dwelling so diminutive as to suggest the idea, that after the completion of the stately houses adjacent, some half-dozen bricks and a couple of rafters had remained over, which the architect, that nothing might be lost, and to demonstrate the universality of his genius, had combined, with the aid of a hod of mortar and a few twopenny tacks, into a residence for some dapper little bachelor weary of wife-hunting, or a Lilliputian spinster desperate of a husband. was just the sort of thing that General Tom Thumb might take for the season ; but still it had most of the usual members and appurtenances of an ordinary London house. A hall in which you might conceive Flibbertigibbet waiting with Oberon's great coat, a parlour where a dozen knights of faery-land might be comfortable enough round a table as large as a cheese, a drawing-room in which her Majesty Queen Titania might give a children's ball, a couple of bed-chambers to match, dressing-rooms to correspond, an attic in proportion, while subterraneously the baby-house had a kitchen where a very small cook might manage to dress a very small dinner, with a cellar in which pint bottles ranked as magnums, just as in the kitchen Devonshire chickens claimed the consideration of Norfolk turkeys.
In short it was the smallest mansion in London, but then it was neat as it was small. You might have fancied that it had come from Holland in a case of Dutch toys; the bricks looked
as if they were rouged daily ; the wonder was how it ever stood all the mopping and twigging, the brushing and brooming, to which it was plain it must have been incessantly subject.
Such was 144, Piccadilly. Mr. Primrose said it ought to have been 144}, for it would certainly have taken four such houses to make one of the houses in Pall Mall, such a house, for instance, as he was lodging in himself at the time, next door to his father-in-law.
They will not be apt to break themselves in pictures, at all events,” said Mrs. Primrose, except in miniatures."
"Nor in books, except in diamond editions," said the Chaplain.
# I think the house would do very well,” said De Tabley, who was with them, “ only for the parlour; I don't see where we are to dine. Six will be a formidable party here."
“ We shall converse the more agreeably,” said Hyacinth ; " the only difficulty I see is where to put the Bishop, if ever Reuben is reconciled to him.”
Mary Medlicott was enchanted with her baby-house, as it was very properly called, both by reason of its size, and the ages of the majority of its inhabitants. So far was she from thinking it too small, that before the Easter recess there was a rumour in the family that an increase of the infant population was an event likely to happen at no very distant period. The honourable member's chief difficulty was to find room for his books, which were already a numerous collection, for he had been accumulating ever since he left school, and had now amassed something near two or three thousand volumes. However, by availing himself of every nook and corner in every room of the house, and even upon the stairs and landing-places, he managed to find space enough for his immediate wants. He now, for the first time, found use for the box of tools which he had been presented with when a boy by the workmen at Westbury; for he was able to put up a variety of neat little shelves with his own hands, which spared him not only the annoyance, but the expense
of bringing carpenters into the house.
He was thus employed on the day before the House first met for the dispatch of business, the little Elinor and Hannah toddling after him, looking sharp after the chips, which were their perquisites, when a deputation from the Peace Society waited upon him to place a petition in his hands, and solicit his attendance at their next general meeting.