Abbildungen der Seite

was he would have envied the dandies their fine horses in Rotten Row, but he was contented now to walk in the Park and look at them. He was too young to succeed in London society without a better name and a larger fortune than he had, and too lazy to get on without these adjuncts. Old Pendennis fondly thought he was busied with law because he neglected the social advantages presented to him, and, having been at half-a-dozen balls and evening parties, retreated before their dulness and sameness; and whenever anybody made inquiries of the worthy Major about his nephew, the old gentleman said the young rascal was reformed, and could not be got away from his books. But the Major would have been almost as much horrified as Mr. Paley was, had he known what was Mr. Pen's real course of life, and how much pleasure entered into his law studies.

A long morning's reading, a walk in the park, a pull on the river, a stretch up the hill to Hampstead, and a modest tavern dinner; a bachelor night passed here or there, in joviality, not vice (for Arthur Pendennis admired women so heartily that he could never bear the society of any of them that were not, in his fancy at least, good and pure); a quiet evening at home, alone with a friend and a pipe or two, and a humble potation of British spirits, whereof Mrs. Flanagan, the laundress, invariably tested the quality,—these were our young gentleman's pursuits, and it must be owned that his life was not unpleasant. In term-time, Mr. Pen showed a most praiseworthy regularity in performing one part of the law-student's course of duty, and eating his dinners in Hall. Indeed, that Hall of the Upper Temple is a sight not uninteresting, and with the exception of some trifling improvements and anachronisms which have been introduced into the practice there, a man may sit down and fancy that he joins in a meal of the seventeenth century. The bar have their messes, the students their tables apart; the benchers sit at the high table on the raised platform, surrounded by pictures of judges of the law and portraits of royal personages who have honoured its festivities with their presence and patronage. Pen looked about, on his first introduction, not a little amused with the scene which he witnessed. Among his comrades of the student class there were gentlemen of all ages, from sixty to seventeen; stout grey-headed attorneys who were proceeding to take the superior dignity,—dandies and men about town who wished for some reason to be barristers of seven years' standing,-swarthy, black-eyed natives of the

[graphic][ocr errors]

Colonies, who came to be called here before they practised in their own islands,—and many gentlemen of the Irish nation, who make a sojourn in Middle Temple Lane before they return to the green country of their birth. There were little squads of reading students who talked law all dinner-time; there were rowing men, whose discourse was of sculling

matches, the Red House, Vauxhall, and the Opera ; there were others great in politics, and orators of the students' debating clubs; with all of which sets, except the first, whose talk was an almost unknown and a quite uninteresting language to him, Mr. Pen made a gradual acquaintance, and had many points of sympathy.

The ancient and liberal Inn of the Upper Temple provides in its Hall, and for a most moderate price, an excellent wholesome dinner of soup, meat, tarts, and port wine or sherry, for the barristers and students who attend that place of refection. The parties are arranged in messes of four, each of which quartets has its piece of beef or leg of mutton, its sufficient apple-pie, and its bottle of wine. But the honest habitués of the hall, amongst the lower rank of students, who have a taste for good living, have many harmless arts by which they improve their banquet, and innocent “ dodges " (if we may be permitted to use an excellent phrase that has become vernacular since the appearance of the last dictionaries) by which they strive to attain for themselves more delicate food than the common everyday roast meat of the students' tables.

“Wait a bit,” said Mr. Lowton, one of these Temple gourmands. “Wait a bit,” said Mr. Lowton, tugging at Pen's gown _" the tables are very full, and there's only three benchers to eat ten side dishes—if we wait, perhaps we shall get something from their table.” And Pen looked with some amusement, as did Mr. Lowton with eyes of fond desire, towards the benchers' high table, where three old gentlemen were standing up before a dozen silver dish-covers, while the clerk was quavering out a grace.

Lowton was great in the conduct of the dinner. His aim was to manage so as to be the first, or captain of the mess, and to secure for himself the thirteenth glass of the bottle of port wine. Thus he would have the command of the joint on which he operated his favourite cuts, and made rapid dexterous appropriations of gravy, which amused Pen infinitely. Poor Jack Lowton ! thy pleasures in life were very harmless; an eager epicure, thy desires did not go beyond eighteenpence.

Pen was somewhat older than many of his fellow-students, and there was that about his style and appearance which, as we have said, was rather haughty and impertinent, that stamped him as a man of tonvery unlike those pale students who were talking law to one another, and those ferocious dandies, in rowing shirts and astonishing pins and waistcoats, who represented the idle part of the little community. The humble and goodnatured Lowton had felt attracted by Pen's superior looks and presence—and had made acquaintance with him at the mess by opening the conversation.

“This is boiled beef day, I believe, sir,” said Lowton to Pen.

“Upon my word, sir, I'm not aware," said Pen, hardly able to contain his laughter, but added, " I'm a stranger; this is my first term;" on which Lowton began to point out to him the notabilities in the Hall.

“That’s Boosey the bencher, the bald one sitting under the picture and 'aving soup; I wonder whether it's turtle? They often ’ave turtle. Next is Balls, the King's Counsel, and Swettenham-Hodge and Swettenham, you know. That's old Grump, the senior of the bar; they say he's dined here forty years. They often send 'em down their fish from the benchers to the senior table. Do you see those four fellows seated opposite us? They are regular swells—tip-top fellows, I can tell you, Mr. Trail, the Bishop of Ealing's son, Honourable Fred Ringwood, Lord Cinqbars' brother, you know. He'll have a good place, I bet any money: and Bob Suckling, who's always with him—a high fellow too. Ha! ha!” Here Lowton burst into a laugh.

“What is it?" said Pen, still amused.

“I say, I like to mess with those chaps," Lowton said, winking his eye knowingly, and pouring out his glass of wine.

“And why ?” asked Pen.

"Why! they don't come down here to dine, you know, they only make believe to dine. They dine here, Law bless you ! They go to some of the swell clubs, or else to some grand dinner party. You see their names in the Morning Post at all the fine parties in London. Why, I bet anything that Ringwood has his cab, or Trail his brougham (he's a devil of a fellow, and makes the bishop's money spin, I can tell you) at the corner of Essex Street at this minute. They dine! They won't dine these two hours, I dare say."

“But why should you like to mess with them, if they don't eat any dinner ?” Pen asked, still puzzled. “There's plenty, isn't there?”

“How green you are,” said Lowton. “Excuse me, but you are green. They don't drink any wine, don't you see, and a fellow gets the bottle to himself if he likes it when he messes with those three chaps. That's why Corkoran got in with 'em.”

“Ah, Mr. Lowton, I see you are a sly fellow," Pen said, delighted with his acquaintance: on which the other modestly replied, that he had lived in London the better part of his life, and of course had his eyes about him; and went on with his catalogue to Pen.

“There's a lot of Irish here,” he said : "that Corkoran's one, and I can't say I like him. You see that handsome chap with the blue neckcloth, and pink shirt, and yellow waistcoat, that's another; that's Molloy Maloney, of Ballymaloney, and nephew to Major-General Sir Hector O'Dowd, he, he,” Lowton said, trying to imitate the Hibernian accent. “He's always bragging about his uncle; and came into Hall in silverstriped trousers the day he had been presented. That other near him, with the long black hair, is a tremendous rebel. By Jove, sir, to hear him at the Forum it makes your blood freeze; and the next is an Irishman, too, Jack Finucane, reporter of a newspaper. They all stick together, those Irish. It's your turn to fill your glass. What? you won't have any port ? Don't like port with your dinner? Here's your health.” And this worthy man found himself not the less attached to Pendennis because the latter disliked port wine at dinner.

It was while Pen was taking his share of one of these dinners with his acquaintance Lowton as the captain of his mess, that there came to join them a gentleman in a barrister's gown, who could not find a seat, as it appeared, amongst the persons of his own degree, and who strode over to the table and took his place on the bench where Pen sate. He was dressed in old clothes and a faded gown, which hung behind him, and he wore a shirt which, though clean, was extremely ragged, and very different to the magnificent pink

« ZurückWeiter »