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home; the pious soul whose life was bound up in his? Yes, let us hope he thought of her a little. Was it about Miss Fotheringay, and his eternal passion, which had kept him awake so many nights, and created such wretchedness and such longing? He had a trick of blushing, and if you had been in the room, and the candle had not been out, you might have seen the youth’s countenance redden more than once, as he broke out into passionate incoherent exclamations regarding that luckless event of his life. His uncle’s lessons had not been thrown away upon him; the mist of passion had passed from his eyes now, and he saw her as she was. To think that he, Pendennis, had been enslaved by such a woman, and then jilted by her! that he should have stooped so low, to be trampled on in the mire! that there was a time in his life, and that but a few months back, when he was willing to take Costigan for his father-in-law !—
“Poor old Smirke ! ” Pen presently laughed out—“ well, I’ll write and try and console the poor old boy. He won’t die of his passion, ha, ha!” The Major, had he been awake, might have heard a score of such ejaculations uttered by Pen as he lay awake and restless through the first night of his residence at Oxbridge.
It would, perhaps, have been better for a youth, the battle of whose life was going to begin on the morrow, to have passed the eve in a different sort of vigil; but the world had got hold of Pen in the shape of his selfish old Mentor; and those who have any interest in his character must have perceived ere now that this lad was very weak as well as very impetuous, very vain as well as very frank, and if of a generous disposition, not a little selfish, in the midst of his profuseness, and also rather fickle, as all eager pursuers of self-gratification are.
The six-months’ passion had aged him very considerably. There was an immense gulf between Pen the victim of love, and Pen the innocent boy of eighteen, sighing after it; and so Arthur Pendennis had all the experience and superiority, besides that command which afterwards conceit and imperiousness of disposition gave him over the young men with whom he now began to live.
He and his uncle passed the morning with great satisfaction in making purchases for the better comfort of the apartments which the lad was about to occupy. Mr. Spicer’s china and glass were in a dreadfully dismantled condition, his lamps smashed, and his bookcases by no means so spacious as those shelves which would be requisite to receive the .contents of the boxes which were lying in the hall at Fairoaks, and which were addressed to Arthur in the hand of poor Helen.
T- The boxes arrived in a few days, that his mother had
packed with so much care. Pen was touched as he read the superscriptions in the dear well-known hand, and he arranged in their proper places all the books, his old friends, and all the linen and tablecloths which Helen had selected from the family stock, and all the jam-pots which little Laura had bound in straw, and the hundred simple gifts of home.
PENDENNIS 0F BONIFACE .
UR friend Pen was not sorry when his Mentor took leave of the young gentleman on the second day after the arrival of the pair in Oxbridge, and we may be sure that the Major on his part was very glad to have discharged his duty, and to have the duty over. More than three months of precious time had that martyr of a Major given up to his nephew—was ever selfish man called upon to make a greater sacrifice? Do you know many men or Majors who would do as much? A man will lay down his head, or peril his life for his honour, but
let us be shy how we ask him to give up his ease or his
heart’s desire. Very few of us can bear that trial. Let us give the Major due credit for his conduct during the past quarter, and own that he has quite a right to be pleased at getting a holiday. Foker and Pen saw him off in the coach, and the former youth gave particular orders to the coachman to take care of that gentleman inside. It pleased the elder
Pendennis to have his nephew in the company of a young
fellow who would introduce him to the best set of the university. The Major rushed ofi‘ to London and thence to Cheltenham, from which watering-place he descended upon some neighbouring great houses, whereof the families were not gone abroad, and where good shooting and company were to be had.
We are not about to go through young Pen’s academical career very minutely. Alas, the life of such boys does not bear telling altogether! I wish it did. I ask you, does yours? As long as what we call our honour is clear, I suppose your mind is pretty easy. Women are pure, but not men. Women are unselfish, but not men. And I would not wish to say of poor Arthur Pendennis that he was worse than his neighbours, only that his neighbours are bad for the most part. Let us have the candour to own as much at least. Can you point out ten spotless men of your acquaintance? Mine is pretty large, but I can’t find ten saints in the list.
During the first term of Mr. Pen’s university life, he\ attended classical and mathematical lectures with tolerable assiduity; but discovering before very long time that he had little taste or genius for the pursuing of the exact sciences, and being perhaps rather annoyed that one or two very vulgar young men, who did not even use straps to their trousers so as ‘ to cover the abominably thick and coarse shoes and stockings which they wore, beat him completely in the lecture-room, he gave up his attendance at that course, and announced to his fond parent that he proposed to devote himself exclusively to the cultivation of Greek and Roman Literature.
Mrs. Pendennis was, for her part, quite satisfied that her darling boy should pursue that branch of learning for which he had the greatest inclination; and only besought him not to ruin his health by too much study, for she had heard the most melancholy stories of young students who, by over fatigue, had brought on brain-fevers and perished untimely in the midst of their university career. And Pen’s health, which was always delicate, was to be regarded, as she justly said, beyond all considerations or vain honours. Pen, although not aware of any lurking disease which was likely to endanger his life, yet kindly promised his mamma not to sit up reading too late of nights, and stuck to his word in this respect with
a great deal more tenacity of resolution than he exhibited upon some other occasions, when perhaps he was a little remiss.
Presently he began, too, to find that he learned little good in the classical lecture. His fellow-students there were too dull, as in mathematics they were too learned for him. Mr. Buck, the tutor, was no better a scholar than many a fifthform boy at Grey Friars; might have some stupid humdrum notions about the metre and grammatical construction of a passage of ZEschylus or Aristophanes, but had no more notion of the poetry than Mrs. Binge, his bed-maker: and Pen grew weary of hearing the dull students and tutor blunder through a few lines of a play, which he could read in a tenth part of the time which they gave to it. After all, private reading, as he began to perceive, was the only study which was really profitable to a man; and he announced to his mamma that he should read by himself a great deal more, and in public a great deal less. That excellent woman knew no more about Homer than she did about Algebra, but she was quite contented with Pen’s arrangements regarding his course of studies, and felt perfectly confident that her dear boy would get the place which he merited.
Pen did not come home until after Christmas, a little to the fond mother’s disappointment, and Laura’s, who was longing for him to make a fine snow fortification, such as he had made three winters before. But he was invited to Logwood, Lady Agnes Foker’s, where there were private theatricals, and a gay Christmas party of very fine folks, some of them whom Major Pendennis would on no account have his nephew neglect. However, he stayed at home for the last three weeks of the vacation, and Laura had the opportunity of remarking what a quantity of fine new clothes)\ he brought with him, and his mother admired his improved appearance and manly and decided tone.
He did not come home at Easter; but when he arrived for the long vacation, he brought more smart clothes; ap-w pearing in the morning in wonderful shooting-jackets, with remarkable buttons; and in the evening in gorgeous velvet Waistcoats, with richly embroidered cravats, and curious linen.