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and a dawdler as yet. Oh, I long, I long to show that I can be a man.” And from his place on the coach-roof the eager young fellow looked down upon the city, with the sort of longing desire which young soldiers feel on the eve of a campaign.
As they came along the road, Pen had formed acquaintance with a cheery fellow-passenger in a shabby cloak, who talked a great deal about men of letters with whom he was very familiar, and who was, in fact, the reporter of a London newspaper, as whose representative he had been to attend a great wrestling-match in the west. This gentleman knew intimately, as it appeared, all the leading men of letters of his day, and talked about Tom Campbell, and Tom Hood, and Sydney Smith, and this and the other, as if he had been their most intimate friend. As they passed by Brompton, this gentleman pointed out to Pen Mr. Hurtle, the reviewer, walking with his umbrella. Pen craned over the coach to have a long look at the great Hurtle. He was a Boniface man, said Pen. And Mr. Doolan, of the Tom and Jerry newspaper (for such was the gentleman’s name and address upon the card which he handed to Pen), said “ Faith he was, and he knew him very well.” Pen thought it was quite an honour to have seen the great Mr. Hurtle, whose works he admired. He believed fondly, as yet, in authors, reviewers, and editors of newspapers. Even Wagg, whose books did not appear to him to be masterpieces of human intellect, he yet secretly revered as a successful writer. He mentioned that he had met Wagg in the country, and Doolan told him how that famous novelist received three hundther pounds a volume for every one of his novels. Pen began to calculate instantly whether he might not make five thousand a year.
The very first acquaintance of his own whom Arthur met, as the coach pulled up at the Gloster Coffee House, was his old friend Harry Foker, who came prancing down Arlington Street behind an enormous cab-horse. He had white kid gloves and white reins, and nature had by this time decorated him with a considerable tuft on the chin. A very small cabboy, vice Stoopid retired, swung on behind Foker’s vehicle; knock-kneed and in the tightest leather breeches. Foker
I /‘ looked at the dusty coach, and the smoking horses of the Alacrity by which he had made journeys in former times. —“What, Foker ! ” cried out Pendennis—J‘Hullo! Pen, my boy! ” said the other, and he waved his whip by way of amity and salute to Arthur, who was very glad to see his queer friend’s kind old face. Mr. Doolan had a great respect for Pen who had an acquaintance in such a grand cab; and Pen was greatly excited and pleased to be at liberty and in London. He asked Doolan to come and dine with him at the Covent Garden Coffee House, where he put up: he called a cab and rattled away thither in the highest spirits. He was glad to see the bustling waiter and polite bowing landlord again; and asked for the landlady, and missed the old Boots, and would have liked to shake hands with everybody. He had a hundred pounds in his pocket. He dressed himself in his very best; dined in the coffee-room with a modest pint of sherry (for he was determined to be very economical), and went to the theatre adjoining.
The lights and the music, the crowd and the gaiety, charmed and exhilarated Pen, as those sights will do young fellows from college and the country, to whom they are tolerably new. He laughed at the jokes; he applauded the songs, to the delight of some of the dreary old habitués of the boxes, who had ceased long ago to find the least excitement in their place of nightly resort, and were pleased to see any one so fresh, and so much amused. At the end of the first piece, he went and strutted about the lobbies of the theatre, as if he was in a resort of the highest fashion. What tired frequenter of the London pavé is there that cannot remember having had similar early delusions, and would not call them back again? Here was young Foker again, like an ardent votary of pleasure as he was. He was walking with Granby Tiptofi, of the Household Brigade, Lord TiptolTs brother, and Lord Colchicum, Captain Tiptofi’s uncle, a venerable peer, who had been a man of pleasure since the first French Revolution. Foker rushed upon Pen with eagerness, and insisted that the latter should come into his private box, where a lady with the longest ringlets, and the fairest shoulders, was seated. This was Miss Blenkinsop, the eminent actress of high comedy;
and in the back of the box snoozing in a wig, sate old Blenkinsop, her papa. He was described in the theatrical prints as the “veteran Blenkinsop”—“the useful Blenkinsop”— “that old favourite of the public, Blenkinsop: ” those parts in the drama, which are called the heavy fathers, were usually assigned to this veteran, who, indeed, acted the heavy father in public, as in private life.
At this time, it being about eleven o’clock, Mrs. Pendennis was gone to bed at Fairoaks, and wondering whether her dearest Arthur was at rest after his journey. At this time Laura, too, was awake. And at this time yesterday night, as the coach rolled over silent commons, where cottage windows twinkled, and by darkling woods under calm starlit skies, Pen was vowing to reform and to resist temptation, and his heart was at home. . . . Meanwhile the farce was going on very successfully,‘ and Mrs. Leary, in a hussar jacket and braided pantaloons, was enchanting the audience with her archness, her lovely figure, and her delightful ballads.
Pen, being new to the town, would have liked to listen to Mrs. Leary; but the other people in the box did not care about her song or her pantaloons, and kept up an incessant chattering. Tiptofi knew where her maillots came from. Colchicum saw her when she came out in ’14. Miss Blenkinsop said she sang out of all tune, to the pain and astonishment of Pen, who thought that she was as beautiful as an angel, and that she sang like a nightingale; and when Hoppus came on as Sir Harcourt Featherby, the young man of the piece, the gentlemen in the box declared that Hoppus was getting too stale, and Tiptofi was for flinging Miss Blenkinsop’s bouquet to him.
“Not for the world,” cried the daughter of the veteran Blenkinsop; “ Lord Colchicum gave it to me.”
Pen remembered that nobleman’s name, and with a bow and a blush said he believed he had to thank Lord Colchicum for having proposed him at the Polyanthus Club, at the request of his uncle Major Pendennis.
“What, you’re Wigsby’s nephew, are you ? ” said the peer. “I beg your pardon, we always call him Wigsby.” Pen blushed to hear his venerable uncle called by such a familiar name. “We balloted you in last week, didn’t we ? Yes, last Wednesday night. Your uncle wasn’t there.”
Here was delightful news for Pen! He professed himself very much obliged indeed to Lord Colchicum, and made him a handsome speech of thanks, to which the other listened, with his double opera-glass up to his eyes. Pen was full of excitement at the idea of being a member of this polite Club.
“ Don’t be always looking at that box, you naughty creature,” cried Miss Blenkinsop.”
“ She’s a dev’lish fine woman, that Mirabel,” said Tiptofi; “though Mirabel was a d——d fool to marry her.”
“ A stupid old spooney,” said the peer.
“ Mirabel! ” cried out Pendennis.
“Ha! ha!” laughed out Harry Foker. “We’ve heard of her before, haven’t we, Pen ? ” ,
It was Pen’s first love. It was Miss Fotheringay. The year before she had been led to the altar by Sir Charles Mirabel, G.C.B., and formerly envoy to the Court of Pumpernickel, who had taken so active a part in the negotiations before the Congress of Swammerdan, and signed, on behalf of H.B.M., the Peace of Pultusk.
“Emily was always as stupid as an owl,” said Miss Blenkinsop.
“Eh! eh! pas si béte,” the old peer said.
“ Oh, for shame!” cried the actress, who did not in the least know what he meant.
And Pen looked out and beheld his first love once again— and wondered how he ever could have loved her.
Thus, on the very first night of his arrival in London, Mr. Arthur Pendennis found himself introduced to a Club, to an actress of genteel comedy and a heavy father of the Stage, and to a dashing society of jovial blades, old and young; for my Lord Colchicum, though stricken in years, bald of head and enfeebled in person, was still indefatigable in the pursuit of enjoyment, and it was the venerable Viscount’s boast that he could drink as much claret as the youngest member of the society which he frequented. He lived with the youth about town: he gave them countless dinners at Richmond and
Greenwich: an enlightened patron of the drama in all languages and of the Terpsichorean art, he received dramatic professors of all nations at his banquets—English from the Covent Garden and Strand houses, Italians from the Haymarket, French from their own pretty little theatre, or the boards of the Opera where they danced. And at his villa on the Thames, this pillar of the State gave sumptuous entertainments to scores of young men of fashion, who very afl‘ably consorted with the ladies and gentlemen of the green-room— with the former chiefly, for Viscount Colchioum preferred their society as more polished and gay than that of their male brethren.
Pen went the next day and paid his entrance money at the Club, which operation carried off exactly one-third of his hundred pounds: and took possession of the edifice, and ate his luncheon there with immense satisfaction. He plunged into an easy chair in the library, and tried to read all the magazines. He wondered whether the members were looking at him, and that they could dare to keep on their hats in such fine rooms. He sate down and wrote a letter to Fairoaks on the Club paper, and said, what a comfort this place would be to him after his day’s work was over. He went over to his uncle’s lodgings in Bury Street with some considerable tremor, and in compliance with his mother’s earnest desire, that he should instantly call on Major Pendennis; and was not a little relieved to find that the Major had not yet returned to town. His apartments were blank. Brown hollands covered his library table, and bills and letters lay on the mantelpiece, grimly awaiting the return of their owner. The Major was on the Continent, the landlady of the house said, at BadnBadn, with the Marcus of Steyne. Pen left his card upon the shelf with the rest. Fairoaks was written on it still. When the Major returned to London, which he did in time for the fogs of November, after enjoying which he proposed to spend Christmas with some friends in the country, he found another card of Arthur’s, on which Lamb Court, Temple, was engraved, and a note from that young gentleman and from his mother, stating that he was come to town, was entered a member of the Upper Temple, and was reading hard for the bar.