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propensity for paying, which he never could conquer through life.
In his third year at college, the duns began to gather awfully roundabout him, and there was a levee at his oak which scandalised the tutors, and would have soared many a stouter heart. With some of these he used to battle, some he would bully (under Mr. Bloundell’s directions, who was a master in this art, though he took a degree in no other), and some deprecate. And it is reported of him that little Mary Frodsham, the daughter of a certain poor gilder and framemaker, whom Mr. Pen had thought fit to employ, and who had made a number of beautiful frames for his fine prints, coming to Pendennis with a piteous tale that her father was ill with ague, and that there was an execution in their house, Pen in an anguish of remorse rushed away, pawned his grand watch and every single article of jewellery except two old gold sleeve-buttons, which had belonged to his father, and rushed with the proceeds to Frodsham’s shop, where, with tears in his eyes, and the deepest repentance and humility, he asked the poor tradesman’s pardon.
This, young gentlemen, is not told as an instance of Pen’s virtue, but rather of his weakness. It would have been much more virtuous to have had no prints at all. He still owed for the baubles which he sold in order to pay Frodsham’s bill, and his mother had cruelly to pinch herself in order to discharge the jeweller’s account, so that she was in the end the sufferer by the lad’s impertinent fancies and follies. We are not presenting Pen to you as a hero or a model, only as a lad, who, in the midst of a thousand vanities and weaknesses, has as yet some generous impulses, and is not altogether dishonest.
We have said it was to the scandal of Mr; Buck the tutor that Pen’s extravagances became known: from the manner in which he entered college, the associates he kept, and the introductions of Dr. Portman and the Major, Buck for a long time thought that his pupil was a man of large property, and wondered rather that he only wore a plain gown. Once on going up to London to the levee with an address from His Majesty’s Loyal University of Oxbridge, Buck had seen Major Pendennis at St. J ames’s in conversation with two knights of
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