Abbildungen der Seite

tumely from men to whom no sanctuary was sacred, for they believed in nothing holy; no history venerable, for they were too ignorant to have heard of the past; and no law was binding which they were strong enough to break, when their leaders gave the signal for plunder. It was because the kings of France mistrusted their gentlemen,” Mr. Shandon remarked, " that the monarchy of Saint Louis went down: it was because the people of England still believed in their gentlemen, that this country encountered and overcame the greatest enemy a nation ever met: it was because we were headed by gentlemen that the Eagles retreated before us from the Douro to the Garonne: it was a gentleman who broke the line at Trafalgar, and swept the plain of Waterloo.”

Bungay nodded his head in a knowing manner, and winked his eyes when the Captain came to the Waterloo passage: and Warrington burst out laughing.

“You see how our venerable friend Bungay is affected,” Shandon said, slily looking up from his papers—“that's your true sort of test. I have used the Duke of Wellington and the battle of Waterloo a hundred times : and I never knew the Duke to fail."

The Captain then went on to confess, with much candour, that up to the present time the gentlemen of England, confident of their right, and careless of those who questioned it, had left the political interest of their order, as they did the management of their estates, or the settlement of their legal affairs, to persons affected to each peculiar service, and had permitted their interests to be represented in the press by professional proctors and advocates. That time Shandon professed to consider was now gone by: the gentlemen of England must be their own champions: the declared enemies of their order were brave, strong, numerous, and uncompromising. They must meet their foes in the field : they must not be belied and misrepresented by hireling advocates : they must not have Grub Street publishing Gazettes from Whitehall ; " that's a dig at Bacon's people, Mr. Bungay,” said Shandon, turning round to the publisher.

Bungay clapped his stick on the floor. “Hang him, pitch into him, Capting,” he said with exultation : and turning to




Warrington, wagged his dull head more vehemently than ever, and said, “For a slashing article, sir, there's nobody like the Capting-no-obody like him."

The prospectus-writer went on to say that some gentlemen, whose names were, for obvious reasons, not brought before the public (at which Mr. Warrington began to laugh again), had determined to bring forward a journal, of which the principles were so and so. “These men are proud of their order, and anxious to uphold it,” cried out Captain Shandon, flourishing his paper with a grin. “They are loyal to their sovereign, by faithful conviction and ancestral allegiance; they love their Church, where they would have their children worship, and for which their forefathers bled; they love their country, and would keep it what the gentlemen of Englandyes, the gentlemen of England (we'll have that in large caps., Bungay, my boy) have made it—the greatest and freest in the world : and as the names of some of them are appended to the deed which secured our liberties at Runnymede- "

“ What's that?" asked Mr. Bungay.

“ An ancestor of mine sealed it with his sword-hilt,” Pen said, with great gravity.

“It's the Habeas Corpus, Mr. Bungay,” Warrington said, on which the publisher answered, “ All right, I dare say," and yawned, though he said, “Go on, Capting."

"—at Runnymede; they are ready to defend that freedom to-day with sword and pen, and now, as then, to rally round the old laws and liberties of England.”

“Brayvo!” cried Warrington. The little child stood wondering; the lady was working silently, and looking with fond admiration. “Come here, little Mary,” said Warrington, and patted the child's fair curls with his large hand. But she shrank back from his rough caress, and preferred to go and take refuge at Pen's knee, and play with his fine watch-chain: and Pen was very much pleased that she came to him; for he was very soft-hearted and simple, though he concealed his gentleness under a shy and pompous demeanour. So she clambered up on his lap whilst her father continued to read his programme.

“You were laughing," the Captain said to Warrington, “about the obvious reasons which I mentioned. Now, I'll show ye what they are, ye unbelieving heathen. We have said,'” he went on, “o that we cannot give the names of the parties engaged in this undertaking, and that there were obvious reasons for that concealment. We number influential friends in both Houses of the Senate, and have secured allies in every diplomatic circle in Europe. Our sources of intelligence are such as cannot, by any possibility, be made public-and, indeed, such as no other London or European journal could, by any chance, acquire. But this we are free to say, that the very earliest information connected with the movement of English and Continental politics, will be found ONLY in the columns of the Pall Mall Gazette. The Statesman and the Capitalist, the Country Gentleman and the Divine, will be amongst our readers, because our writers are amongst them. We address ourselves to the higher circles of society: we care not to disown it—the Pall Mall Gazette is written by gentlemen for gentlemen; its conductors speak to the classes in which they live and were born. The field-preacher has his journal, the radical freethinker has his journal: why should the Gentlemen of England be unrepresented in the Press ?'"

Mr. Shandon then went on with much modesty to descant upon the literary and fashionable departments of the Pall Mall Gazette, which were to be conducted by gentlemen of acknowledged reputation; men famous at the Universities (at which Mr. Pendennis could scarcely help laughing and blushing), known at the Clubs and of the Society which they described. He pointed out delicately to advertisers that there would be no such medium as the Pall Mall Gazette for giving publicity to their sales; and he eloquently called upon the nobility of England, the baronetage of England, the revered clergy of England, the bar of England, the matrons, the daughters, the homes and hearths of England, to rally round the good old cause; and Bungay at the conclusion of the reading woke up from a second snooze in which he had indulged himself, and again said it was all right.

The reading of the prospectus concluded, the gentlemen present entered into some details regarding the political and literary management of the paper, and Mr. Bungay sate by, listening and nodding his head, as if he understood what was the subject of their conversation, and approved of their opinions. Bungay's opinions, in truth, were pretty simple. He thought the Captain could write the best smashing article in England. He wanted the opposition house of Bacon smashed, and it was his opinion that the Captain could do that business. If the Captain had written a letter of Junius on a sheet of paper, or copied a part of the Church Catechism, Mr. Bungay would have been perfectly contented, and have considered that the article was a smashing article. And he pocketed the papers with the greatest satisfaction: and he not only paid for the manuscript, as we have seen, but he called little Mary to him, and gave her a penny as he went away.

The reading of the manuscript over, the party engaged in general conversation, Shandon leading with a jaunty fashionable air in compliment to the two guests who sate with him, and who, by their appearance and manner, he presumed to be persons of the beau monde. He knew very little indeed of the great world, but he had seen it, and made the most of what he had seen. He spoke of the characters of the day, and great personages of the fashion, with easy familiarity and jocular allusions, as if it was his habit to live amongst them. He told anecdotes of their private life, and of conversations he had had, and entertainments at which he had been present, and at which such and such a thing occurred. Pen was amused to hear the shabby prisoner in a tattered dressinggown talking glibly about the great of the land. Mrs. Shandon was always delighted when her husband told these tales, and believed in them fondly every one. She did not want to mingle in the fashionable world herself, she was not clever enough; but the great Society was the very place for her Charles : he shone in it: he was respected in it. Indeed, Shandon had once been asked to dinner by the Earl of X; his wife treasured the invitation-card in her work-box at that very day.

Mr. Bungay presently had enough of this talk, and got up to take leave, whereupon Warrington and Pen rose to depart with the publisher, though the latter would have liked to stay

to make a further acquaintance with this family, who interested him and touched him. He said something about hoping for permission to repeat his visit, upon which Shandon, with a rueful grin, said he was always to be found at home, and should be delighted to see Mr. Pennington.


“I'll see you to my park-gate, gentlemen," said Captain Shandon, seizing his hat in spite of a deprecatory look, and a faint cry of “Charles” from Mrs. Shandon. And the Captain, in shabby slippers, shuffled out before his guests, leading the way through the dismal passages of the prison.

« ZurückWeiter »