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As to the latter personage, he had made up his mind to stand by his grandfather's cast-off opinions and principles at all risks. Nothing annoyed Reuben so much in the whole affair, as the blundering of the Mercury, which utterly destroyed his quotation from Milton, by giving “revolting spirit" instead of " revolted."
This alone would have suggested the expediency of presenting the public with a revised and authentic report of his speech, which he accordingly did before the expiration of a week, in the form of a pamphlet. Mary Hopkins copied it for the printers with her own hand. It was published at Chichester, and it was with no little difficulty the Vicar restrained his wife from getting an engraving prefixed to it from the picture which Blanche Barsac had made of Reuben when at school. The engraving was actually executed, and Mrs. Medlicott had already distributed many copies of it among her friends.
A CHAPTER OF CONSEQUENCES.
At a wonderfully early hour on the morning succeeding that memorable ball, at which the Dean's conversion and its splendid reward had been first publicly announced, Mr. and Mrs. Barsac were actively engaged revolutionising all the arrangements of their household, to get a suite of apartments in readiness suitable to their notions of the rank and dignity of a bishop. Closets were turned into bedrooms; governesses rose in the world, not much to their comfort, as happens in many elevations; removing, shifting, exchanging, and packing, were the order of the day; in short, there was no amount of inconvenience to which the Barsacs were not prepared to submit in their own persons, and inflict upon everybody else (particularly upon their servants and dependents), for the sake of paying all due respect to the man whom the King had delighted to honour. But this was not all: the furniture of the bed-room designed for the right reverend Prelate was not thought new or rich enough for him, so Barsac went immediately to the shop of one of his Majesty's cabinet-makers and upholsterers, and bought a variety of superb articles, for which he paid a proportionally superb price. Among others was a gorgeous bed, which the upholsterer, as soon as he learned that it
was intended to receive a bishop, proposed to hang with curtains of purple silk or velvet, which, with a fringe of gold lace, would, he conceived, be at once rich, chaste, and appropriate. Barsac was of the saine opinion. Indeed, it was surprising he did not order the arms of the see of Shrewsbury, or at least a mitre, to be embroidered upon the drapery. However, the canopy of purple and gold satisfied the merchant's notions of what was
" chaste and appropriate;" and so expeditiously were his orders executed, that before dusk the same evening the upholsterer's men were putting up the episcopal couch, surrounded by the Barsac fry and a bevy of curious maids, bereft of the faculties of speech by the spectacle of such magnificence.
But, unfortunately, the Bishop did not go to Portland Place at all, so that all these fine preparations were thrown away upon him. Burlington Gardens suited him better, and as there was room enough in the same house with Mrs. Mountjoy, he took up bis quarters there for the present. The Barsacs were greatly mortified, and it would have increased their mortification not a little, if they could have heard the observations the Bishop made upon their vulgar folly, when his daughter told him of the trouble and expense they had gone to.
It was a hint to Mrs. Mountjoy. She recollected her own sumptuous arrangements for Reuben, and for fear of her father discovering them and making more of the same remarks, she took the prudent precaution of locking up her nephew's room.
The Bishop remained sequestered for some days, paid one or two official visits, received a few friends himself, but peremptorily declined to dine out, even with the Barsacs, who were most importunate, promising him nothing but quiet family parties, though, had he consented, they would have been capable of the perfidy of inviting one or two of their lordly acquaintance and customers Lord Greenwich, at least—to meet him.
The Dean, we should say, the Bishop-never thought of Reuben, until he was reminded of him by a congratulatory visit from Mr. Primrose. Then he spoke of him kindly, but dismissed the subject in a moment, with his usual absorption in his own immediate concerns. Hyacinth he received most cordially, and though in conversation with him he never alluded to the sketch of bimself which had appeared a couple of years ago, in the Cambridge Miscellany, the reception he now gave the writer showed how extremely agreeable had been the incense offered up to him upon that occasion.
Indeed, he told his wife and daughter privately (and between them, it soon reached Mr. Primrose), that he considered himself in some measure indebted to that article. for the professional advancement he had at length received.
Mrs. Mountjoy, who was beginning to reciprocate the tender sentiments with which she had long since inspired Mr. Primrose, and who had also known for some time a secret not yet imparted to the reader-namely, that Hyacinth (as unstable as Reuben, but more calculating) was now much more inclined to the Church than he had ever been to the bar,—Mrs. Mountjoy was gratified upon every account to see him standing so well in her father's estimation. At the same time being a lady, who not only had a heart, but whose heart was always in the right place, the chief object of her anxiety, at present, was her nephew; she was on the rack until she heard from Chichester, and when the news arrived of the occurrences there, it almost drove her distracted.
She was informed of what took place sooner than her father. He read the account of the meeting for the first time in a Tory London
newspaper, which continued to advocate his cast-off opinions. The Bishop was at breakfast. His wife and daughter were all in a tremor, knowing what the paper contained, and furtively watched hiin with the most fidgety anxiety, as his eye roved from column to column, until at length it arrived at the report of the “ tremendous demonstration,” and was arrested by the name of Mr. Reuben Medlicott.
“What's here?" cried the Bishop, after grunting inarticulately for some time over the “Morning Post.”
What, sir?" faintly echoed the ladies, only too well knowing what it was that had caught his attention so strongly, and elicited the exclamation.
• What Reuben Medlicott is this?-it can't be Eleanor's son ?" looking up at Mrs. Mountjoy from beneath the shaggy portcullis of the eye
that was next her. “I suppose you are reading about the meeting at Chichester, sir?" she replied evasively and nervously.
He read on for a few moments, knitting his bushy brows, and uttering strange sounds, alternately expressive of contempt and displeasure.
“ My poor Reuben,” said Mrs. Mountjoy, in a low tone to Mrs. Wyndham, but wishing to be heard by her father; "he had very little idea of what was to happen when he left town to attend that meeting."
"Impossible he could," said Mrs. Wyndham, in the same key.
“ What business had he there at all?" growled the prelate, lowering the paper suddenly, and scowling over it at both of them.
To this there was no attempt at an answer. He then recommenced reading, every now and then repeating aloud, either in mockery or indignation, some phrase that particularly struck him, such as “public duty”—“political principles”—“Protestant constitution"—and so forth, until he came to the word “ apostacy,” which he muttered between his teeth with extreme bitterness; then flung the paper down, exclaiming
“ This is worse than burning my hay-ricks !" then he stopped, and commenced taking his coffee.
" Indeed, sir," said Mrs. Mountjoy. “Reuben never intended
The Bishop desired to have more sugar. His wife, as she sweetened his cup, threw in a tremulous word to sweeten his temper also, but instead of noticing what she said, he again mumbled the word “apostacy,” in a tone of fierce derision, and, resuming the paper, proceeded with tolerable patience until he came to the quotation from Milton, wben he flung it from him once more, and never spoke again the whole morning, except to observe that the words were “revolted spirit,” not“ revolting.”
“ The fellow could not even cite a hackneyed passage correctly."
Mrs. Mountjoy and Mrs. Wyndham, taking Mr. Primrose into consultation, agreed that to make any immediate effort to mollify the feelings of the Bishop towards Reuben would be injudicious. It was better to leave it to time, which would probably have soon set all to rights, had not the same newspaper the following day singled out the new Bishop of Shrewsbury for a violent personal attack, and pointedly applied to him Reuben's full-length picture of a clerical turncoat, adding with superfluous malignity that the eloquent speaker was nearly related to the prelate, which made the denunciation the more terrible and crushing.
It was ascertained long afterwards that this unjustifiable bit of personality was intended to injure Mr. Medlicott as much as to annoy his grandfather. The author of it was Mr. Bavard, who never forgave Reuben for having out-talked him one day at dinner, and being connected with the press took this honourable method of revenging it.
However, it was useless after this to plead for Reuben. Nobody dared to breathe his name in the Bishop's presence. The Vicar wrote to him in terms little short of abject. The letter was not answered. Mrs. Medlicott travelled to Shrewsbury to appease him, but he feigned illness and refused to see her.
BOOK THE SEVENTH.
" Hold your peace, Sancho,” said the Knight, “and don't interrupt Mr. Bachelor, whom I entreat to proceed; and let me know what more is said in this same history." -Don Quixote, Part II., Book I.
As it is the usage of certain authors to choose subjects for their books, more for the sake of something from which to digress, than as topics to pursue steadily, and themes always to keep in view; treating them, in fact, rather as a Station to depart from, than as a Terminus to arrive at, so it is with a great many who enter the learned professions; there is frequently observed between what they profess, and what they, practise, that wide interval or discrepancy, which, when it takes place in politics or in private morals, we call inconsistency, or by a harsher name. How common is it not, for instance, to see the physician abandoning the cure of his patients, and betaking himself to quacking the body-politic; or the lawyer spurning the courts, as soon as he is qualified to plead, and turn. ing speech-maker, play-wright, place hunter, or diner-out. If we desire to know what manner of men these loose and often odd fish of the several professions are—these camp-followers of the regular troops of law, physic, or divinity-we shall find them invariably consisting of your clever fellows; the clever young divine superior to the churching of women, and as high as the steeple above the catechising of children; the clever doctor, disgusted with the hospitals, or the versatile and voluble young barrister, infinitely too smart to wear his wig every day and mind his business. The Greeks called a genius of this volatile description Modumpáyuwv; the Romans had the word ardelio to express it; proof, if proof were wanting, that ancient Athens and Rome had their “coming men,” or their Reuben Medlicutts, as well as modern Chichester and London. Attalus was our Reuben's parallel in Martial's days, even to the smattering of astrology.
“ Declamas belle; causas agis, Attaie, belle.
Historias bellas, carmina bella facis.
Bellus grammaticus, bellus es astrologus.
Vis dicam quid sis? Magnus es ardelio."