Abbildungen der Seite

Pepys came to the rescue; no man knew better than he the workings of that philanthropic snout, and most probably seeing approaching danger in its ceaseless movements, said,

" I trust my lord, you will accept our excuses already made, and attribute that to gallantry in the youth present, which in others would be a glaring and serious contempt of court. I think my lord, we laid before you the almost unavoidable difficulties of our young client's position."

“Well, well, Mr. Pepys,” and here the angry organ assumed a more benevolent and sympathising aspect and motion, “it certainly seems to us, rather an exceptional case, and devoid of all pecuniary self interest. But, young gentleman,” he continued, evidently softened, "we scarcely know how to look it over. We can't ask you to promise not to do it again, for I believe we should all like you both to be long united and happy."

The impatience of Sir Charles Wetherell could no longer restrain him

My lord,” he exclaimed, jumping up, and apparently tumbling to pieces, “ I must ask for his committal.”

“Sir Charles," sharply answered the Chancellor, whilst the lightning like action of bis lordship's indicator betokened his great displeasure at being suddenly thwarted, “ we don't feel inclined to commit in this instance.

“Not commit, my lord ?" he shouted," why, there's no precedent for such a thing.'

“We can't help that, Sir Charles," replied the omnipotent Lord Brougham, the vos populi of our liberties, the sincerest, greatest, and best reformer of the age we live in. We have nothing to do with that, Sir Charles ; we will establish one."

An order was then made for ihe usual Chancery settlement as upon such occasions is by equity required, which is the most strict, and cruel, and discord-creating of all hitherto concocted deeds--but his lordship's lenieocy once more beamed forth in my favour.

“What profession,” he inquired, with a few mild spasmodic twitch. ings of his illustrious nose," is Mr. May intended for?” and on being informed that it was the law, that I was what is termed an articled clerk, he kindly read me a lecture of advice on my studies, adding, "we think we ought to put aside two thousand pounds for his advance. ment, either in that, or some other profession, But if he takes my advice he will apply himself to the higher branches of the one he has already chosen.

Sir Charles, determining to have another shy, eagerly exclaimed, “I hope, my lord, you will make an order for their re-marriage : the lady's friends much wish it."

"Oh, no, Sir Charles,” said his lordship, with a violent and fixed determination of nose, we could not think of such presumption. It is not for us to throw a doubt, or slur, on the laws of Scotland ; the marriage is as good as any marriage can be. For all that, Sir Charles, if the friends desire it, and the happy couple are willing, and it amuses them, they may be married three times a-week, or as often as it pleases them, but we can make no order in the matter."

Thus ended my private trial, which, all things considered, I may




fairly set down as won easily, and with pounds in hand. His lordship rose up, as did immediately every one else, and he passed rapidly through a double file of Queen's counsel, junior attornies, and officers : on arriving at me, he stopped short and patted me kindly on the head, saying with a smile

“Now, mind young gentleman you do your best to bebave well; be the exception to the adage which says, that run-away matches never turn out well.' I shall keep my eye upon you (I was afraid he was going to say nose), and inquire after you from time to time."

He then hurried on to resume his sittings in court, followed by the posse comitatus of silk gowns and others, all of whom congratulated me en passant on my victory. I have often thought in after life, how singular that I should have had for counsel two Lord Chancellors in cmbryo : Sir Edward Sugden, afterwards Lord St. Leonards, and Mr. Pepys, following in the wake of the former as Lord Cottenham.

Sir Charles Wetherell and his clients the Colonel and Captain were completely distanced. This was the last time I ever saw Lord Brougham, who, putting aside his stupendous genius and learning, deeply impressed me with the goodness of his heart, and his keen knowledge of human nature and character; it is for the profession and future generations to decide his value as a Chancellor, or his capabilities and purity as keeper of the Queen's Conscience; this fact, however, will ever remain as a monument to his fame and honour, that he was an unflinching and trusty keeper of a Queen's 'secret.

As soon as the coast was clear of the big-wigs, I flew to Agnes to acquaint her with the welcome and quite unexpected result of Lord Brougham's clemency, and to dismiss her with such good news to her no doubt anxious mother, requesting her also to acquaint my old ally John of my happy issue out of my private trial. On my return to the court to meet my trustee, I found him in the company of my patron Saint, Bob Layhard, who on learning the termination of the hearing, and the non-commital, had become absolutely frantic with joy, and uncontrolable impatience to embrace me, and take possession of me for

the day.

No sooner had this display of feeling subsided, than I was surrounded by a host of friends and acquaintances, chiefly of the law, some few medical students, and not a few that I was ashamed to owu; all, however, pressed forward to shake me by the hand. So great indeed was the increase of their regard for me on this day of my prosperity, that as I leant on the arm of Mr. Layhard, and proceeded through the gate of Lincoln's Inn towards the office of my old masters, some more entbu. siastic than prudent, gave vent to their affection in loud and continuous cheering, giving to my success the air and importance of a public triumph. That day I devoted to Mr. Layhard, and we spent it happily and merrily. At my father's, all differences of opinion were agreeably settled; he and the rest had been instructed not to appear, or in any way to be mixed up with this imprudent and responsible affair : now it was over, they were glad to see me, and so were many others. Later in the afternoon I returned home to share for the first time in my life the duties of master of the household.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small]



" It's a great nuisance," said the Master.

He's a great nuisance,” said little Featherstone, who had once won a race at Croxton, and especially prided himself on anything being able to carry him. He's a great nuisance, if you like; why the fellow must walk a bad fourteen stone."

He ought to be well licked," said the elder Browthers, finding Bolace as usual in a pipe, which had been coloured in the Crimea.

" And a man, too, who should hold some position in the country," said a J.P. over his well-starched neckcloth.

" It's all very disgraceful,” said the good old Rector, who had a cry of beagles of his own, and who in other ways was, as the Bishop had put it, “ Quite an example to his Order."

"And calls his-self a gen'elman, sir," joined in the second whip, with a touch of his cap.

“He ought to be well licked,” said Captain Browthers, pulling away somewbat savagely at his beloved pipe.

And so they talked “ him" and " it”. over at dinner parties, in market places, at the early meets of the season, and at the very

church doors after morning service. It was the old story. One Mr. Jenkins had come in rather unexpectedly to a good slice of landed property, but he had taken to this, as such people will, with a very strong opinion of his own as to bis rights as a landed proprietor. Not merely was his house, The Hermitage--his castle, as every Englishman's should be ; but his grounds were his grounds, and he was resolved that the world should know this. The outside public found notices to trespassers, as Falstaff's recruits might linen “on every hedge." He would have no poachers, no gleaners, no blackberry pickers, no gipsies, or, as the parish constable duly instructed thereto, authoritatively announced it, “No nothing." Above all, Mr. Jenkins would not have the hounds. He was, still, a bit of a sportsman in his way-counted his coveys of birds and tales of pheasants, and caught all the trout he could. But with the hounds he had no sympathy; and the idea of a lot of people without either by your leave or with your leave coming scampering over his place--estate he called it-was beyond endurance. He nailed up all the gates, he ran wires through the fences, and he ordered his keeper-otherwise, the bailiff-to trap the foxes. But all would not do. So sure as the hounds drew the Hazle Woods, so certainly would they all come streaming over the Hermitage estate. Young Featherstone flew the wires, the good Rector broke the locks, while

Ben cast them at a bit of a check round the very shrubberies. And then the Squire received legal notice through the hands of “my solicitor ;" the Christian and surnames of the men were somewhat ostentatiously obtained; and still when he broke from the Hazels, he made his point

« ZurückWeiter »