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homely seal. The superscription was in a pretty delicate female hand, marked "immediate" by the fair writer; yet the Major had, for reasons of his own, neglected up to the present moment his humble rural petitioner, who to be sure could hardly hope to get a hearing among so many grand folks who attended his levee. The fact was, this was a letter from a female relative of Pendennis, and while the grandees of her brother's acquaintance were received and got their interview, and drove off, as it were, the patient country letter remained for a long time waiting for an audience in the ante-chamber, under the slop-basin.
At last it came to be this letter's turn, and the Major broke a seal with “ Fairoaks” engraved upon it, and “Clavering St. Mary's” for a postmark. It was a double letter, and the Major commenced perusing the envelope before he attacked the inner epistle.
“ Is it a letter from another Jook," growled Mr. Glowry, inwardly. “Pendennis would not be leaving that to the last, I'm thinking,”
“My dear Major Pendennis," the letter ran, “I beg and implore you to come to me immediately" — very likely, thought Pendennis, and Steyne's dinner to-day -“I am in the greatest grief and perplexity. My dearest boy, who has been hitherto everything the fondest mother could wish, is grieving me dreadfully. He has formed - I can hardly write it - a passion, an infatuation," — the Major grinned—“for an actress who has been performing here. She is at least twelve years older than Arthur — who will not be eighteen till next February - and the wretched boy insists upon marrying her.”
“ Hay! What's making Pendennis swear now ?” - Mr. Glowry asked of himself, for rage and wonder were concentrated in the Major's open mouth, as he read this astounding announcement.
“ Do, my dear friend," the grief-stricken lady went on," come to me instantly on the receipt of this; and, as Arthur's guardian, entreat, command, the wretched child to give up this most deplorable resolution.” And, after more entreaties to the above effect, the writer concluded by signing herself the Major's “unhappy affectionate sister, Helen Pendennis.”
“Fairoaks, Tuesday” - the Major concluded, read. ing the last words of the letter "A d-d pretty business at Fairoaks, Tuesday; now let us see what the boy has to say ;” and he took the other letter, which was written in a great floundering boy's hand, and sealed with the large signet of the Pendennises, even larger than the Major's own, and with supplementary wax sputtered all round the seal, in token of the writer's tremulousness and agitation. The epistle ran thus, –
“FAIROAKS, Monday, Midnight. “MY DEAR UNCLE, — In informing you of my engagement with Miss Costigan, daughter of J. Chesterfield Costigan, Esq., of Costiganstown, but, perhaps, better known to you under her professional name of Miss Fotheringay, of the Theatres Royal Drury Lane and Crow Street, and of the Norwich and Welsh Circuit, I am aware that I make an announceinent which cannot, according to the present prejudices of society at least, be welcome to my family. My dearest mother, on whoin, God knows, I would wish to inflict no needless pain, is deeply moved and grieved, I am sorry to say, by the intelligence which I have this night conveyed to her. I beseech you, my dear Sir, to come down and reason with her and console her. Although obliged by poverty to earn an honorable maintenance by the exercise of her splendid talents, Miss Costigan's family is as ancient and noble as our own. When our ancestor, Ralph Pendennis, landed with Richard II. in Ireland, my Emily's forefathers were kings of that country. I have the information from Mr. Costigan, who, like yourself, is a military man.
"It is in vain I have attempted to argue with my dear mother, and prove to her that a young lady of irreproachable character and lineage, endowed with the most splendid gifts of beauty and genius, who devotes herself to the exercise of one of the noblest professions, for the sacred purpose of maintaining her family, is a being whom we should all love and reverence, rather than avoid ; --my poor mother has prejudices which it is impossible for my logic to overcome, and refuses to welcome to her arms one who is disposed to be her most affectionate daughter through life.
“Although Miss Costigan is some years older than myself, that circumstance does not operate as a barrier to my affection, and I am sure will not influence its duration. A love like mine, Sir, I feel, is contracted once and forever. As I never had dreamed of love until I saw her — I feel now that I shall die without ever knowing another passion. It is the fate of my life ; and having loved once, I should despise myself, and be unworthy of my name as a gentleman, if I hesitated to abide by my passion : if I did not give all where I felt all, and endow the woman who loves me fondly with my whole heart and my whole fortune.
“I press for a speedy marriage with my Emily - for why, in truth, should it be delayed? A delay implies a doubt, which I cast from me as unworthy. It is impossible that my sentiments can change towards Emily - that at any age she can be anything but the sole object of my love. Why, then, wait? I entreat you, my dear Uncle, to come down and reconcile my dear mother to our union, and I address you as a man of the world, qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes, who will not feel any of the weak scruples and fears which agitate a lady who has scarcely ever left her village.
“Pray, come down to us immediately. I am quite confident that - apart from considerations of fortune - you will admire and approve of my Emily. “Your affectionate Nephew,
“ ARTHUR PENDENNIS, Jr."
When the Major had concluded the perusal of this letter, his countenance assumed an expression of such rage and horror that Glowry, the surgeon, felt in his pocket for his lancet, which he always carried in his card-case, and thought his respected friend was going into a fit. The intelligence was indeed sufficient to agitate Pendennis. The head of the Pendennises going to marry an actress ten years his senior, – the head-strong boy about to plunge into matrimony. “The mother has spoiled the young rascal,” groaned the Major inwardly, “with her cursed sentimentality and romantic rubbish. My nephew marry a tragedy queen! Gracious mercy, people will laugh at me so that I shall not dare show my head l’” And he thought with an inexpressible pang that he must give up Lord Steyne's dinner at Richmond, and must lose his rest and pass the night in an abominable tight mail-coach, instead of taking pleasure, as he had promised himself, in some of the most agreeable and select society in England.
He quitted his breakfast-table for the adjoining writing-room, and there ruefully wrote off refusals to the Marquis, the Earl, the Bishop, and all his entertainers; and he ordered his servant to take places in the mail-coach for that evening, of course charging the sum which he disbursed for the seats to the account of the widow and the young scapegrace of whom he was guardian.
EARLY in the Regency of George the Magnificent, there lived in a small town in the west of England, called Clavering, a gentleman whose name was Pendennis. There were those alive who remembered having seen his name painted on a board, which was surmounted by a gilt pestle and mortar over the door of a very humble little shop in the city of Bath, where Mr. Pendennis exercised the profession of apothecary and surgeon; and where he not only attended gentlemen in their sick-rooms, and ladies at the most interesting periods of their lives, but would condescend to sell a brown-paper plaster to a farmer's wife across the counter, — or to vend tooth-brushes, hair-powder, and London perfumery.
And yet that little apothecary who sold a stray customer a pennyworth of salts, or a more fragrant cake of Windsor soap, was a gentleman of good education, and of as old a family as any in the whole county of Somerset. He had a Cornish pedigree which carried the Pendennises up to the time of the Druids, – and who knows how much farther back? They had intermarried with the Normans at a very late period of their family existence, and they were related to all the great families of Wales and Brittany. Pendennis had had a piece of University education too, and might have pursued that career with honor, but in his