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And as she pried about his room, she saw, oh, such a beautiful dressing-case, with silver mountings, and a quantity of lovely rings and jewellery. And he had a new French watch and gold chain, in place of the big old chronometer, with its bunch of jingling seals, which had hung from the fob of John Pendennis, and by the seconds-hand of which the defunct doctor had felt many a patient’s pulse in his time. It was but a few months back Pen had longed for this watch, which he thought the most splendid and august time-piece in the world; and just before he went to college, Helen had taken 1t out of her trinket-box (where it had remained unwound since the death of her husband) and given it to Pen with a solemn and appropriate little speech respecting his father’s virtues and the proper use of time. This portly and valuable chronometer Pen now pronounced to be out of date, and indeed, made some comparisons between it and a warmingpan, which Laura thought disrespectful, and he left the watch in a drawer, in the company of soiled primrose gloves, cravats
| which had gone out of favour, and of that other school watch
which has once before been mentioned in this history. Our old friend, Rebecca, Pen pronounced to be no longer up to his weight, and swopped her away for another and more powerful horse, for which he had to pay rather a heavy figure. Mrs. Pendennis gave the boy the money for the new horse; and Laura cried when Rebecca was fetched away.
Also Pen brought a large box of cigars branded Colorados, Afrancesados, Telescopios, Fudson, Oxford Street, or by some such strange titles, and began to consume these not only about the stables and greenhouses, where they were very good for Helen’s plants, but in his own study,—which practice his mother did not at first approve. But he was at work upon a prize-poem, he said, and could not compose without his cigar, and quoted the late lamented Lord Byron’s lines in favour of the custom of smoking. As he was smoking to such good purpose, his mother could not of course refuse permission: in fact, the good soul coming into the room one day in the midst of Pen’s labours (he was consulting a novel which had recently appeared, for the cultivation of the light literature of his own country as well as of foreign nations ‘became every student)—Helen, we say, coming into the room and finding Pen on the sofa at this work, rather than disturb him went for a light-box and his cigar-case to his bedroom,
which was adjacent, and actually put the cigar into his mouth and lighted the match at which he kindled it. Pen laughed, and kissed his mother’s hand as it hung fondly over the back of the sofa. “ Dear old mother,” he said, “if I were to tell you to burn the house down, I think you would do it.” And it is very likely that Mr. Pen was right, and that the foolish woman would have done almost as much for him as he said.
Besides the works of English “light literature” which this diligent student devoured, he brought down boxes of the light literature of the neighbouring country of France: into the leaves of which when Helen dipped, she read such things as caused her to open her eyes with wonder. But Pen showed her that it was not he who made the books, though it was absolutely necessary that he should keep up his French by an acquaintance with the most celebrated writers of the day, and that it was as clearly his duty to read the eminent Paul de Kock, as to study Swift or Moliere. And Mrs. Pendennis yielded with a sigh of perplexity. But Miss Laura was warned ofi the books, both by his anxious mother, and that rigid moralist Mr. Arthur Pendennis himself, who, however he might be called upon to study every branch of literature in order to form his mind and to perfect his style, would by no means prescribe such a course of reading to a young lady whose business in life was very difierent.
In the course of this long vacation Mr. Pen drank up the bin of claret which his father had laid in, and of which we have heard the son remark that there was not a headache in a hogshead ; and this wine being exhausted, he wrote for a further supply to “ his wine merchants,” Messrs. Binney and Latham of Mark Lane, London: from whom, indeed, old Doctor Portman had recommended Pen to get a supply of port and sherry on going to college. “You will have, no doubt, to entertain your young friends at Boniface with wine parties,” the honest rector had remarked to the lad. “ They used to be customary at college in my time, and I would advise you to employ an honest and respectable house in London for your small stock of wine, rather than to have recourse to the Oxbridge tradesmen, whose liquor, if I remember rightly, was both deleterious in quality and exorbitant in price.” And the obedient young gentleman took the Doctor’s advice, and patronised Messrs. Binney and Latham at the rector’s suggestion.
So when he wrote orders for a stock of wine to be sent down to the cellars at Fairoaks, he hinted that Messrs. B. and L. might send in his university account for wine at the same time with the Fairoaks bill. The poor widow was frightened at the amount. But Pen laughed at her oldfashioned views, said that the bill was moderate, that everybody drank claret and champagne now, and, finally, the widow paid, feeling dimly that the expenses of her household were increasing considerably, and that her narrow income would scarce suffice to meet them. But they were only occasional. Pen merely came home for a few weeks at the vacation. Laura and she might pinch when he was gone. In the brief time he was with them ought they not to make him happy?
Arthur’s own allowances were liberal all this time; indeed, much more so than those of the sons of far more wealthy men. Years before, the thrifty and afiectionate John Pendennis, whose darling project it had ever been to give his son a university education, and those advantages of which his own father’s extravagance had deprived him, had begun laying by a store of money which he called Arthur’s Education Fund. Year after year in his book his executors found entries of sums vested as A.E.F., and during the period subsequent to her husband’s decease, and before Pen’s entry at college, the widow had added sundry sums to this fund, so that when Arthur went up to Oxbridge it reached no inconsiderable amount. Let him be liberally allowanced, was Major Pendennis’s maxim. Let him make his first entrée into the world as a gentleman, and take his place with men of good rank and station; after giving it to him, it will be his own duty to hold it. There is no such bad policy as stinting a boy—or putting him on a lower allowance than his fellows. Arthur will have to face the world and fight for
himself presently. Meanwhile we shall have procured for him good friends, gentlemanly habits, and have him well backed and well trained against the time when the real struggle comes. And these liberal opinions the Major probably advanced both because they were just, and because he was not dealing with his own money.
Thus young Pen, the only son of an estated country gentleman, with a good allowance, and a gentlemanlike bearing and person, looked to be a lad of much more consequence than he was really; and was held by the Oxbridge authorities, tradesmen, and undergraduates, as quite a young buck and member of the aristocracy. His manner was frank, brave, and perhaps a little impertinent, as becomes a high-spirited youth. He was perfectly generous and free-handed with his money, which seemed pretty plentiful. He loved joviality, and had a good voice for a song. Boat-racing had not risen in Pen’s time to the furem‘ which, as we are given to understand, it has since attained in the university; and riding and tandem-driving were the fashions of the ingenuous youth. Pen rode well to hounds, appeared in pink, as became a young buck, and not particularly extravagant in equestrian or any other amusement, yet managed to run up a fine bill at Nile’s, the livery stable-keeper, and in a number of other quarters. In fact, this lucky young gentleman had almost
every taste to a considerable degree. He was very fond of
books of all sorts: Doctor Portman had taught him to like rare editions, and his own taste led him to like beautiful bindings. It was marvellous what tall copies, and gilding, and marbling, and blind-tooling, the booksellers and binders put upon Pen’s bookshelves. He had a very fair taste in matters of art, and a keen relish for prints of a high school —none of your French Opera Dancers, or tawdry Racing Prints, such as had delighted the simple eyes of Mr. Spicer, his predecessor—but your Stranges, and Rembrandt etchings, and Wilkies before the letter, with which his apartments were furnished presently in the most perfect good taste, as was allowed in the university, where this young fellow got no small reputation. We have mentioned that he exhibited a certain partiality for rings, jewellery, and fine raiment of all
sorts ; and it must be owned that Mr. Pen, during his time at the university, was rather a dressy man, and loved to array himself in splendour. He and his polite friends would dress themselves out with as much care in order to go and dine at each other’s rooms, as other folks would who were going to enslave a mistress. They said he used to wear rings over his kid gloves, which he always denies; but what follies will not youth perpetrate with its own admirable gravity and sim
plicity? That he took perfumed baths is a truth; and he used to say that he took them after meeting certain men of a very low set in hall.
In Pen’s second year, when Miss Fotheringay made her chief hit in London, and scores of prints were published of her, Pen had one of these hung in his bedroom, and confided to the men of his set how awfully, how wildly, how madly, how passionately, he had loved that woman. He showed