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turned to pay the penalty, on that very day, for my courage and rashness! Where was that love and gratitude which cheers and encourages fidelity and honour ? I rose up suddenly, and impetuously descended, in vexation of spirit, to that divine little pantry, formerly devoted to Venus and Bacchus, where still dwelt, in peaceful seclusion, free from the cares and vices of the world, the high priest of my faith, the honest old John.
As I entered the preoincts of his sanctum, my trusty friend, the “ fides Achates” of my plansLove's messenger and aide-de-camp-received me with a warmth, sincerity, and respect which declared his true attachment and lasting goodness. He was engaged polishing a ladle, which he threw aside instantly, and hastened to welcome me. Mutual congratulations at our victory, and total defeat of the Beelzebub Colonel, were the first ebullitions of our greeting, crowned by a hearty laugh at the expense of the military, and the loss of their position, as well as their command of the forces.
“And now, my dear young Master," he exclaimed, “ before you proceed to the Court Marshal of Lawyers, what shall I offer you a glass of ? For now I look upon myself as your most humble but devoted servant, and I consider it as much a part of my duty to attend to your health and comforts as it is my pleasure to wait on your wishes and obey orders."
Advisedly, therefore, we sat down to our conference, over some punch of the most exquisite odour, and of equally delicious and irresistible relish.
“ John," I began; “I wonder what I shall get done to? Agnes they wont't say much to.”
« Well, Master,” he replied ; "I have been thinking about it all night. I could not rest for it, and I have come to the conclusion that the Woolsack, just to keep up its awful dignity, will let you see the inside of the Fleet for a few days, as that is the proper receptacle for such as you. That's my honest opinion, sir; and I don't suppose you care much about it if he does. Of course Miss Agnes will return here, and then we will all come and see you, and make you as happy as we
" “Well, John, my dear fellow," I returned, with open heart, “We seem always to agree, for I take precisely the same view of the case as you do ; and, as you say, there is not much to be frightened at, as the worst is the Fleet for a short time, where I am sure to be at home,' and happy to receive friends.. Agnes I don't think will miss me much, for she and the old lady appear perfectly united, and will find plenty to amuse themselves with expressing renewals of affection, and making calculations for happiness in store for us."
“I am very glad to think, Master Guy,” he continued, warming up under the punch, " that you didn't kill either of those soldier fellows in that duel as you fought. It might have made things very bad for both, though to be sure it were awful bad luck on your part to get such a ierrible wound."
« Oh,” answered I, laughing at his ideas of the terrible, “there was no harm done, and if it had not have been for the previous excitement and fatigue I had gone through, I dare say it would not have troubled me at all.”
“ I am uncommon glad to hear it," he continued, “but Master, I know you are bold and don't care much for any man alive, except Miss Agnes, but if I were you I'd sham when I was up before his lordship. I mean I'd put on a mock modest, bashful sort of look, as if I were sorry for it, and asked pardon ; for they do te!l me he can do just whatever be likes with the pair of you ; only, of course, you'll get the lion's share of the punishment, as he is precious strict about his wards, none of whom, perhaps, have ever seen him or ever wish to."
“ John," said I, finishing my rummer, “what you say may be very true ; but the best way is not to make up one's mind how to aot before hand, for circumstances very often upset all preconcerted plans, and you along with them. It is far wiser to be on the look out and cautious, and then you are ready prepared to do on the moment that which may save you better than any wrongly worked-up conclusions."
The glasses being empty, and the carriage drawing up to the door, all further consideration of this most momentous subject, likewise, the warm discussion of the insinuating punch, were postponed until the result of the former and the effect of the latter, should prove themselves worthy of renewal. I rose, therefore, immediately, and prepared for action. Entering the dining-room, where, beneath the lifesize portrait of her noble-looking father, I had first met her and first felt the pangs of true and fatal love, I found Agnes ready to accompany me, and her mother inconsolable with grief, at the idea of even a temporary separation. I hurried my wife away rather abruptly, anxious to put an end to a parting which I saw might be prolonged ad infinitum, and the consequences of which threatened to furnish an unpleasant catastrophe. As I threw myself back in the carriage, I felt for the first time in the presence of Agnes that unaccountable depression of spirits, which, although it grasps or settles upon no one definable cause, is none the less easier combated with success.
We drove along in silence, too much occupied with my own gloomy state. I had not noticed that Agnes sat ruminating in a mist of melancholy. How strange! what could have been the sad sympathies of our minds ? what the cloud that was darkening the bright horizon of our loves, and eclipsing even for a moment the sun of our future happiness? I fell into a reverie. What can all this mean? I asked myself, as I struggled against it, and looking out of the window inquired of my bride whereabouts we were ?
“Why, Guy dear,” she affectionately replied, " what have you been thinking about? surely you recognise Long Acre."
“Ah! Agnes, my pet,” I mildly answered, not quite recovered from my dreamy ill-bodings," the changes on the face of cities, are more marvellous far than those which have affected human nature. That ever remains the same—its doubts, its vices, and its miseries are up to the present unaltered and unalterable. But this same Long Acre, comparatively a few years ago, was an open field, known then as the Elms, from rows of those trees that grew upon it. Behold! by a touch of the magic wand of civilisation and progression, there has sprung up a colony of coach-makers, painters, wheelwrights, varnishers, saddlers, and gold-beaters. Its next name was the Seven Acres,' which was again changed, when its streets were formed, into Long Acre.”
• Bless me, Guy," she replied laughing," who do you imagine cares about all that non ?"
“ Agnes dearest, you are right,” I continued, “ for what are the memories of Taylor the water poet,' or the ‘Old Mug-house Club,' to a generation swallowed up in its own conceit ?"
We had now arrived at Lincoln's-inn-fields, and a few more paces brought us to that Square, on the south side of which have resided Lord Chancellors Camden, Loughborough, and Erskine, and the Lords Chief Justices Kenyon and Mansfield. The flying shadows of bluebags with impure atmosphere, and compressed hum of voices, at once indicated that we were positively “ In Chancery.” We drew up at the great hall, wherein the Chancellor holds his sittings, and was received on alighting by Mr. Nosyde and my sincere and faithful friend Bob Layhard. Agnes remained in the carriage.”
« Ah !" shouted this enthusiastic sportsman, as he shook me heartily by the hand, “I offered to bet a thousand pounds to a guinea that you would be at the post before the clock struck ten, and by Jove, I should bave won you see, for it wants five minutes of it now. So whilst Mr. Nosyde puts you through your paces, Guy, and gives you a preliminary canter before you attempt to catch the judge's eye, I will go and have a little private talk to Mrs. May, and just let her know what I think of you both, and what I think you ought both to be done to."
Whereupon Mr. Nosyde, whose laugh sounded somewhat like a man gargling, did the best he could in his peculiarly funny line, and placing his arm through mine, said, most insinuatingly
“ I think I had better let Mr. Butt know that you are here, afterwards we can walk round the square until the court sits.”
“As you please," I carelessly answered, and he vanished between the folding-doors of the hall.
“ Now," said he, on his return, “we can walk and talk without listeners. Mr. May,” he continued impressively, “I don't think you seem to be aware of the consequences to yourself of wbat you have done. In every light it appears to me to be a most foolish and thoughtless act-personally to you, a dangerous one. At your father's re
. quest, I have accepted the office of trustee on his behalf, and I assure you it will be-it cannot be otherwise than-a most unpleasant duty. We will fight hard for you. I have retained the two leading silks of the day; and, although we have Sir Charles Wetherell against us, yet I hope we shall pull you through. Be sure on no account to answer his Lordsbip should he address or question you—we can do that for you, and a word from you might upset bim. Our object is to put him in good humour, and keep him so. Pray, be careful, and attend to my instructions, for, as it is, it is a most expensive business; the whole of the settlements must fall upon your shoulders, and I trust
will see the necessity and policy of not running the risk of increasing costs. However, here comes the Chancellor's carriage, so hasten, and deliver yourself over to Mr. Butt-I will go, see to counsel and the cause."
I did as requested, and entered the body of the Court. The old Sergeant quickly advanced to meet me, we shook hands, and I was once more in custody. I felt that many eyes were on me, but I was young, handsome, bold, and indifferent. I could bear being looked at
then, so I paid no attention to the weak curiosity of gaping clerks, many of whom I knew, or the quizzings of them behind the bar (briefless freshmen), although I could plainly see that some were going so far even as to make sketches of me. It was evident that my case had got mooted about, and that it stood first on the list of the day, also that it was filling the hall. In a few minutes the proclamation of “Silence, gentlemen, silence !” announced the sitting of the court. I have hitherto purposely postponed mentioning the name of the Lord Chancellor of the time, with the intention of reserving it, not so much as a surprise, as to give full effect, and point to the ever-memorable scene which follɔwed ; also, that I might make it the opportunity for describing minutely and in detail some of the personal peculiarities and eccentricities of character of the very learned and everlastingly famous Lord Brougham.
Scarcely had his Lordship taken his seat, and the mace and seals laid themselves down for the day, than Sir Charles Wetherell, his wig askew, his gown hanging by his elbows, and his inexpressibles saved by a button, leaning over his bay of briefs, said, “Before your Lordship commences the business of the court, I would call your Lordship’s attention to a case of contempt of court.
At the mention of these terrible words, his Lordship likewise leant forward as far as his locomotive desk would allow him, eager to ascertain the “ head and front of the offending.”
“It is one in which a certain Mr. Guy May has eloped to Gretna Green with one of your Lordship’s wards Miss Agnes Jeffery.”
“Yes, yes, certainly, Sir Charles, I remember," answered his Lordship.
“The parties are now in custody and present here, my Lord," continued the eloquent Q.C. “Perhaps your Lordship will take it in private.”
“By all means, Sir Charles, it would be far better, as we don't yet know the extent of his contempt-how far he has gone," and pushing aside his note-books and papers, he was, in his habitually quick manner, “off like a shot” and lost to view, before Sir Edward Sugden and Mr. Pepys, who both rose to answer for the offending parties, had time to utter a word.
The move to the mysterious "green-room" of this theatre of law and equity caused a renewal of confusion and hubbub of voices, during which Mr. Butt took occasion to whisper to me,
“I think, Mr. May, we had better go into the Palace," which we immediately did. “His Lordship will no doubt hear counsel first, and - then send for us."
Following my respected officer we entered a species of lobby, wherein at a certain door stood an usher on duty. A few words between Mr. Butt and this statue-like individual, and he returned to assure me that the discussion inside had already assumed an ominous appearance as against myself, and that in all probability he should find it his unpleasant duty to deliver me over to the Marshal of the Fleet, " which,” said he, “ I shall be sorry to do; but I fear you must prepare yourself for the worst.
"Well,” I returned, “ Mr. Sergeant, I expect no legs, and have al
ready made up my mind to bear the consequences of his Lordship's displeasure."
After this fashion we chatted and patroled up and down this gloomy corridor for upwards of balf-an-hour, I all anxiety and impatience for the termination of their long-winded arguments, my companion in the mean time doubtless mentally speculating as to the amount of his fees, and the allowance for his expenses—both very large items against me in this matrimonial escapade. To my great joy, at length Mr. Nosyde appeared, and advancing towards us gave me the grateful information that his Lordship had sent for us.
“ Do, pray, Guy," he added, in a more familiar tone than usual, “ be extremely circumspect ; and should you be compelled to speak, weigh very well every word. At present I think things are going in your favour; in fact, it all depends upon his impression of you, so be cautious, and say as little as possible.'
“Excellent advice," put in Mr. Butt, in a low voice, as we passed the threshold of this legal sanctuary.
There is a crushing sensation of humility irresistible to the inexperienced, as they stand in the presence of high authority. This weakness is both patural and artificial ; excusable enough in the first
; case, unpardonable and contemptible in the latter. On my part there was about an equal portion of both qualities, with a dash of hypocrisy. I had not that mens conscia recti, which is the necessary creator of self-confidence. I stood, in fact, like one convicted, and awaiting bis sentence.
“Come nearer here, sir," said his Lordship, putting up his glasses, and peering at me with the most searching scrutiny: “let me look at you, sir," Upon this I slowly, and with make-believe timidity, approached the table, the mighty Sergeant-at-Arms sticking close by my side ; thereby, I presume, insinuating that he didn't mean to part. Having well satisfied himself of my outward and visible pretensions, the facetious Chancellor let fall his glasses, and giving two or three tremendous and threatening twitches with a nose, whose European reputation surpassed even that iron hook of Wellington's, on which hung the fate of the “ little Corporal," and a dozen other emperors and
“So, sir," seemed to thunder forth this eloquent nose, "you are the young gentleman that has had the audacity to run away with one of my wards-one of my young ladies—are you ?”
As silence is said to signify consent, so I considering it by far the best answer, said that which in truth was all I had to say-noihing ; whereupon another nasal convulsion warned me of a coming storm.
“Wnat excuse, sir, have you to offer for such an outrageous contempt ?"
I hung down my head, still silent ; strange to say an old school-day couplet came forcibly into my mind, and I mentally repeated it during this monotonous calm :
" When Dido found Æneas would not come,
Sho wept in silence, and was Di-do-dum (b)."
I could not laugh, I could not cry, and I felt I dared not speak. Mr.