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much. When a man’s grief or passion is at this point, it may be loud, but it is not very severe. When a gentleman is cudgelling his brain to find any rhyme for sorrow, besides borrow and to-morrow, his woes are nearer at an end than he thinks for. So were Pen’s. He had his hot and cold fits, his days of sullenness and peevishness, and of blank resignation and despondency, and occasional mad paroxysms of rage and longing, in which fits Rebecca would be saddled and galloped fiercely about the country, or into Chatteris, her rider gesticulating wildly on her back, and astonishing carters and turnpikemen as he passed, crying out the name of the false one. Mr. Foker became a very frequent and welcome visitor at Fairoaks during this period, where his good spirits and oddities always amused the Major and Pendennis, while they astonished the widow and little Laura not a little. His tandem made a great sensation in Clavering market-place; Wyghe upset a market-stall, and cut Mrs. Pybus’s poodle ov_eij Tastes quarters,‘ and drank a ‘glass of raspberry hitters at the 'ClaveringArms.. All the society in the little place heard who ,he was, and looked out his name in their Peerages. He was so young, and their books so old, that his name did notappear in many of their volumes; and his mamma, now quite an antiquated lady, figured amongst the progeny of the Earl of Rosherville, as Lady Agnes Milton still. But his name, wealth, and honourable lineage were speedily known about Clavering, where you may be sure that poor Pen’s little transaction with the Chatteris actress was also pretty freely discussed.
Looking at the little old town of Clavering St. Mary from the London road as it runs by the lodge at Fairoaks, and seeing the rapid and shining Brawl winding down from the town and skirting the woods of Clavering Park, and the ancient church tower and peaked roofs of the houses rising up amongst trees and old walls, behind which swells a fair background of sunshiny hills that stretch from Clavering westwards towards the sea—the place appears to be so cheery and comfortable that many a traveller’s heart must have yearned towards it from the coach-top, and he must have thought that it was in such a calm friendly nook he would like to
shelter at the end of life’s struggle. Tom Smith, who used to ‘drive the Alacrity coach, would often point to a tree near the
river, from which a fine view of the church and town was
commanded, and inform his companion on the box that
“ Artises come and take hofi the Church from that there tree. —It was a Habby once, sir : ”—and indeed a pretty view it is, which I recommend to Mr. Stanfield or Mr. Roberts, for their next tour.
Like Constantinople seen from the Bosphorus; like Mrs. Rougemont viewed in her box from the opposite side of the house; like many an object which we pursue in life, and admire before we have attained it; Clavering is rather prettier at a distance than it is on a closer acquaintance. The town so cheerful of aspect a few furlongs ofi, looks very blank and dreary. Except on market days there is nobody in the streets. The clack of a pair of pattens echoes through half the place, and you may hear the creaking of the rusty old ensign at the Clavering Arms, without being disturbed by any other noise. There has not been a ball in the Assembly Rooms since the Clavering volunteers gave one to their Colonel, the old Sir Francis Clavering; and the stables which
‘once held a great part of that brilliant but defunct regiment
are now cheerless and empty, except on Thursdays, when the farmers put up there, and their tilted carts and gigs make a feeble show of liveliness in the place, or on Petty Sessions, when the magistrates attend in what used to be the old cardroom.
On the south side of the market rises up the church, with its great grey towers, of which the sun illuminates the delicate carving; deepening the shadows of the huge buttresses, and gilding the glittering windows and flaming vanes. The image
of the Patroness of the Church was wrenched out of the porch
centuries ago: ‘such of the statues of saints as were within reach of stones and hammer at that period of pious demolition, are maimed and headless, and of those‘who were out of fire, only Dr. Portman knows the names and history, for his curate, Smirke, is not much of an antiquarian, and Mr. Simcoe (husband of the Honourable Mrs. Simcoe), incumbent and architect of the Chapel of Ease in the lower town, thinks them the abomination of desolation.
The Rectory is a stout, broad-‘shouldered brick house, of the reign of Anne. It communicates with the church and market by different gates, and stands at the opening of Yewtree Lane, where the Grammar School (Rev. —— Wapshot) is; Yew-tree Cottage (Miss Flather) ; the butcher’s slaughtering-house, an old barn or brewhouse of the Abbey times, and the Misses Finucane’s establishment for young ladies. The two schools had their pews in the loft on each side of the organ, until the Abbey Church getting rather empty, through the falling-off of the congregation, who were inveigled to the Heresy-shop in the lower town, the Doctor induced the Misses
.Finucane to bring their pretty little flock downstairs; and
the ‘young ladies’ bonnets make a tolerable show in the rather vacant aisles. Nobody is in the great pew of the Clavering family, except the statues of defunct baronets and their ladies: there is Sir Poyntz Clavering, Knight and Baronet, kneeling in a square beard opposite his wife in a ruff : a very fat lady, the Dame Rebecca Clavering, in alto-relievo, is borne up to Heaven by two little blue-veined angels, who seem to have a severe task—and so forth. How well in after-life Pen remembered those effigies, and how often in youth he scanned them as the Doctor was grumbling the sermon from the pulpit, and Smirke’s mild head and forehead curl peered over the great prayer-book in the desk!
The Fairoaks folks were constant at the old church; their servants had a pew, so had the Doctor’s, so had Wapshot’s, and those of the Misses Finucane’s establishment, three maids and a very nice-looking young man in a livery. The Wapshot family were numerous and faithful. Glanders and his children regularly came to church : so did one of the apothecaries. Mrs. Pybus went, turn and turn about, to the Low Town church, and to the Abbey : the Charity School and their families of course came ; Wapshot’s boys made a good cheerful noise, scuflling with their feet as they marched into church and up the organ-loft stair, and blowing their noses a good deal during ‘the service. To be brief, ‘the congregation looked as decent as might be in these bad times. The Abbey Church was furnished with a magnificent screen, and many hatchments and heraldic tombstones. The Doctor spent a great part of his income in beautifying his darling place; he had endowed it with a superb painted window, bought in the Netherlands, and an organ grand enough for a cathedral.
But in spite of organ and window, in consequence of the latter very likely, which had come out of a Papistical place of worship and was blazoned all over with idolatry, Clavering New Church prospered scandalously in the teeth of Orthodoxy; and many of the Doctor’s congregation deserted to Mr. Simcoe and the honourable woman his wife. Their efiorts had thinned the very Ebenezer hard by them, which building before Simcoe’s advent used to be so full, that you could see the backs of the congregation squeezing out of the arched windows thereof. Mr. Simcoe’s tracts fluttered into the doors of all the Doctor’s cottages, and were taken as greedily as honest Mrs. Portman’s soup, with the quality of which the graceless people found fault. With the folks at the Ribbon Factory situated by the weir on the Brawl side, and round which the Low Town had grown, Orthodoxy could make no way at all. Quiet Miss Mira was put out of court by impetuous Mrs. Simcoe and her female aides-de-camp. Ah, it was a hard burthen for the Doctor’s lady to bear, to behold her husband’s congregation dwindling away; to give the precedence on the few occasions when they met to a notorious Low Churchman’s wife, who was the daughter of an Irish Peer; to know that there was a party in Clavering, their own town of Clavering, on which her Doctor spent a great deal more than his professional income, who held him up to odium because he played a rubber at whist; and pronounced him to be a Heathen because he went to the play. In her grief she besought him to give up the play and the rubber,—indeed they could scarcely get a table now, so dreadful was the outcry against the sport,-—but the Doctor declared that he would do what he thought right, and what the great‘and good George the Third did (whose Chaplain he had been) : and as for giving up whist because those silly folks cried out against it, he would play dummy to the end of his days with his wife and Mira, rather than yield to their despicable persecutions.
Of the two families, owners of the Factory (which had spoiled the Brawl as a trout-stream and brought all the mischief into the town), the senior partner, Mr. Rolt, went to Ebenezer; the junior, Mr. Barker, to the New Church. In a word, people quarrelled in this little place a great deal more than neighbours do in London; and in the Book Club which the prudent and conciliating Pendennis had set up, and which ought to have been a neutral territory, they bickered so much that nobody scarcely was ever seen in the reading-room, except Smirke, who, though he kept up a faint amity with the Simcoe faction, had still a taste for magazines and light worldly literature; and old Glanders, whose white head and grizzly moustache might be seen at the window; and of course, little Mrs. Pybus, who looked at everybody’s letters as the Post brought them (for the Clavering Reading Room, as everyone knows, used to be held at Baker’s Library, London Street, formerly Hog Lane), and read every advertisement in the paper.
It may be imagined how great a sensation was created in this amiable little community when the news reached it of Mr. Pen’s love-passages at Chatteris. It was carried from house to house, and formed the subject of talk at high-church, low-church, and no-church tables; it was canvassed by the Misses Finucane and their teachers, and very likely debated by the young ladies in the dormitories, for what we know; Wapshot’s big boys had their version of the story and eyed Pen curiously as he sate in his pew at church, or raised the finger of scorn at him as he passed through Chatteris. They always hated him and called him Lord Pendennis, because he did not wear corduroys as they did, and rode a horse, and gave himself the airs of a buck.
And, if the truth must be told, it was Mrs. Portman herself who was the chief narrator of the story of Pen’s loves. Whatever tales this candid woman heard, she was sure to impart them to her neighbours; and after she had been put into possession of Pen’s secret by the little scandal at Chatteris, poor Doctor Portman knew that it would next day be about the parish of which he was the Rector. And so indeed it was; the whole society there had the legend—at the news-room,
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