Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Inspiring Novel > The Adventures of Philip on his way through the World > Part 1 Chapter 17 In which Philip Shows His Mettle
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Part 1 Chapter 17 In which Philip Shows His Mettle

When the poor Little Sister proffered her mite, her all, to Philip, I daresay some sentimental passages occurred between them which are much too trivial to be narrated. No doubt her pleasure would have been at that moment to give him not only that gold which she had been saving up against rent-day, but the spoons, the furniture, and all the valuables of the house, including, perhaps, J. J.’s bricabrac, cabinets, china, and so forth. To perform a kindness, an act of self-sacrifice; — are not these the most delicious privileges of female tenderness? Philip checked his little friend’s enthusiasm. He showed her a purse full of money, at which sight the poor little soul was rather disappointed. He magnified the value of his horses, which, according to Philip’s calculation, were to bring him at least two hundred pounds more than the stock which he had already in hand; and the master of such a sum as this, she was forced to confess, had no need to despair. Indeed, she had never in her life possessed the half of it. Her kind dear little offer of a home in her house he would accept sometimes, and with gratitude. Well, there was a little consolation in that. In a moment that active little housekeeper saw the room ready; flowers on the mantel-piece; his looking-glass which her father could do quite well with the little one, as he was always shaved by the barber now; the quilted counterpane, which she had herself made — I know not what more improvements she devised; and I fear that at the idea of having Philip with her, this little thing was as extravagantly and unreasonably happy as we have just now seen Philip to be. What was that last dish which P?tus and Arria shared in common? I have lost my Lempriere’s dictionary (that treasure of my youth), and forget whether it was a cold dagger au naturel, or a dish of hot coals á la Romaine, of which they partook; but, whatever it was, she smiled, and delightedly received it, happy to share the beloved one’s fortune.

Yes: Philip would come home to his Little Sister sometimes: sometimes of a Saturday, and they would go to church on Sunday, as he used to do when he was a boy at school. “But then, you know,” says Phil, “law is law; study is study. I must devote my whole energies to my work — get up very early.”

“Don’t tire your eyes, my dear,” interposes Mr. Philip’s soft, judicious friend.

“There must be no trifling with work,” says Philip, with awful gravity. “There’s Benton the Judge: Benton, and Burbage, you know.”

“Oh, Benton and Burbage!” whispers the Little Sister, not a little bewildered.

“How do you suppose he became a judge before forty?”

“Before forty who? law, bless me!”

“Before he was forty, Mrs. Carry. When he came to work, he had his own way to make: just like me. He had a small allowance from his father: that’s not like me. He took chambers in the Temple. He went to a pleader’s office. He read fourteen, fifteen, hours every day. He dined on a cup of tea and a muttonchop.”

“La, bless me, child! I wouldn’t have you do that, not to be Lord Chamberlain — Chancellor what’s his name? Destroy your youth with reading, and your eyes, and go without your dinner? You’re not used to that sort of thing, dear; and it would kill you!”

Philip smoothed his fair hair off his ample forehead, and nodded his head, smiling sweetly. I think his inward monitor hinted to him that there was not much danger of his killing himself by over-work. “To succeed at the law, as in all other professions,” he continued, with much gravity, “requires the greatest perseverance, and industry, and talent; and then, perhaps, you don’t succeed. Many have failed who have had all these qualities.”

“But they haven’t talents like my Philip, I know they haven’t. And I had to stand up in a court once, and was cross-examined by a vulgar man before a horrid deaf old judge; and I’m sure if your lawyers are like them I don’t wish you to succeed at all. And now, look! there’s a nice loin of pork coming up. Pa loves roast pork; and you must come and have some with us; and every day and all days, my dear, I should like to see you seated there.” And the Little Sister frisked about here, and bustled there, and brought a cunning bottle of wine from some corner, and made the boy welcome. So that, you see, far from starving, he actually had two dinners on that first day of his ruin.

Caroline consented to a compromise regarding the money, on Philip’s solemn vow and promise that she should be his banker whenever necessity called. She rather desired his poverty for the sake of its precious reward. She hid away a little bag of gold for her darling’s use whenever he should need it. I daresay she pinched and had shabby dinners at home, so as to save yet more, and so caused the captain to grumble. Why, for that boy’s sake, I believe she would have been capable of shaving her lodgers’ legs of mutton, and levying a tax on their tea-caddies and baker’s stuff. If you don’t like unprincipled attachments of this sort, and only desire that your womankind should love you for yourself, and according to your deserts, I am your very humble servant. Hereditary bondswomen! you know, that were you free, and did you strike the blow, my dears, you were unhappy for your pain, and eagerly would claim your bonds again. What poet has uttered that sentiment? It is perfectly true, and I know will receive the cordial approbation of the dear ladies.

Philip has decreed in his own mind that he will go and live in those chambers in the Temple where we have met him. Vanjohn, the sporting gentleman, had determined for special reasons to withdraw from law and sport in this country, and Mr. Firmin took possession of his vacant sleeping chamber. To furnish a bachelor’s bed-room need not be a matter of much cost; but Mr. Philip was too good-natured a fellow to haggle about the valuation of Vanjohn’s bedsteads and chests of drawers, and generously took them at twice their value. He and Mr. Cassidy now divided the rooms in equal reign. Ah, happy rooms! bright rooms, rooms near the sky, to remember you is to be young again! for I would have you to know, that when Philip went to take possession of his share of the fourth floor in the Temple, his biographer was still comparatively juvenile, and in one or two very old-fashioned families was called “young Pendennis.”

So Philip Firmin dwelt in a garret; and the fourth part of a laundress and the half of a boy now formed the domestic establishment of him who had been attended by housekeepers, butlers, and obsequious liveried menials. To be freed from that ceremonial and etiquette of plush and worsted lace was an immense relief to Firmin. His pipe need not lurk in crypts or back closets now: its fragrance breathed over the whole chambers, and rose up to the sky, their near neighbour.

The first month or two after being ruined. Philip vowed, was an uncommonly pleasant time. He had still plenty of money in his pocket; and the sense that, perhaps, it was imprudent to take a cab or drink a bottle of wine, added a zest to those enjoyments which they by no means possessed when they were easy and of daily occurrence. I am not certain that a dinner of beef and porter did not amuse our young man almost as well as banquets much more costly to which he had been accustomed. He laughed at the pretensions of his boyish days, when he and other solemn young epicures used to sit down to elaborate tavern banquets, and pretend to criticize vintages, and sauces, and turtle. As yet there was not only content with his dinner, but plenty therewith; and I do not wish to alarm you by supposing that Philip will ever have to encounter any dreadful extremities of poverty or hunger in the course of his history. The wine in the jug was very low at times, but it never was quite empty. This lamb was shorn, but the wind was tempered to him.

So Philip took possession of his rooms in the Temple, and began actually to reside there just as the long vacation commenced, which he intended to devote to a course of serious study of the law and private preparation, before he should venture on the great business of circuits and the bar. Nothing is more necessary for desk-men than exercise, so Philip took a good deal; especially on the water, where he pulled a famous oar. Nothing is more natural after exercise than refreshment; and Mr. Firmin, now he was too poor for claret, showed a great capacity for beer. After beer and bodily labour, rest, of course, is necessary; and Firmin slept nine hours, and looked as rosy as a girl in her first season. Then such a man, with such a frame and health, must have a good appetite for breakfast. And then every man, who wishes to succeed at the bar, in the senate, on the bench, in the House of Peers, on the Woolsack, must know the quotidian history of his country; so, of course, Philip read the newspaper. Thus, you see, his hours of study were perforce curtailed by the necessary duties which distracted him from his labours.

It has been said that Mr. Firmin’s companion in chambers, Mr. Cassidy, was a native of the neighbouring kingdom of Ireland, and engaged in literary pursuits in this country. A merry, shrewd, silent, observant little man, he, unlike some of his compatriots, always knew how to make both ends meet; feared no man alive in the character of a dun; and out of small earnings managed to transmit no small comforts and subsidies to old parents living somewhere in Munster. Of Cassidy’s friends was Finucane, now editor of the Pall Mall Gazette; he married the widow of the late eccentric and gifted Captain Shandon, and Cass. himself was the fashionable correspondent of the Gazette, chronicling the marriages, deaths, births, dinner-parties of the nobility. These Irish gentlemen knew other Irish gentlemen, connected with other newspapers, who formed a little literary society. They assembled at each other’s rooms, and at haunts where social pleasure was to be purchased at no dear rate. Philip Firmin was known to many of them before his misfortunes occurred, and when there was gold in plenty in his pocket, and never-failing applause for his songs.

When Pendennis and his friends wrote in this newspaper, it was impertinent enough, and many men must have heard the writers laugh at the airs which they occasionally thought proper to assume. The tone which they took amused, annoyed, tickled, was popular. It was continued, and, of course, caricatured by their successors. They worked for very moderate fees: but paid themselves by impertinence, and the satisfaction of assailing their betters. There or four persons were reserved from their abuse; but somebody was sure every week to be tied up at their post, and the public made sport of the victim’s contortions. The writers were obscure barristers, ushers, and college men, but they had omniscience at their pen’s end, and were ready to lay down the law on any given subject — to teach any man his business, were it a bishop in his pulpit, a Minister in his place in the House, a captain on his quarter-deck, a tailor on his shopboard, or a jockey in his saddle.

Since those early days of the Pall Mall Gazette, when old Shandon wielded his truculent tomahawk, and Messrs. W-rr-ngt-n and P-nd-nn-s followed him in the war-path, the Gazette had passed through several hands; and the victims who were immolated by the editors of to-day were very likely the objects of the best puffery of the last dynasty. To be flogged in what was your own school-room — that, surely, is a queer sensation; and when my Report was published on the decay of the sealing-wax trade in the three kingdoms (owing to the prevalence of gummed envelopes — as you may see in that masterly document), I was horsed up and smartly whipped in the Gazette by some of the rods which had come out of pickle since my time. Was not good Dr. Guillotin executed by his own neat invention? I don’t know who was the Monsieur Samson who operated on me; but have always had my idea that Digges, of Corpus, was the man to whom my flagellation was entrusted. His father keeps a ladies’-school at Hackney; but there is an air of fashion in everything which Digges writes, and a chivalrous conservatism which makes me pretty certain that D. was my scarifier. All this, however, is naught. Let us turn away from the author’s private griefs and egotisms to those of the hero of the story.

Does any one remember the appearance some twenty years ago of a little book called Trumpet Calls — a book of songs and poetry, dedicated to his brother officers by Cornet Canterton? His trumpet was very tolerably melodious, and the cornet played some small airs on it with some little grace and skill. But this poor Canterton belonged to the Life Guards Green, and Philip Firmin would have liked to have the lives of one or two troops at least of that corps. Entering into Mr. Cassidy’s room, Philip found the little volume. He set to work to exterminate Canterton. He rode him down, trampled over his face and carcase, knocked the Trumpet Calls and all the teeth out of the trumpeter’s throat. Never was such a smashing article as he wrote. And Mugford, Mr. Cassidy’s chief and owner, who likes always to have at least one man served up and hashed small in the Pall Mall Gazette, happened at this very juncture to have no other victim ready in his larder. Philip’s review appeared there in print. He rushed off with immense glee to Westminster, to show us his performance. Nothing must content him but to give a dinner at Greenwich on his success. Oh, Philip! We wished that this had not been his first fee; and that sober law had given it to him, and not the graceless and fickle muse with whom he had been flirting. For, truth to say, certain wise old heads which wagged over his performance could see but little merit in it. His style was coarse, his wit clumsy and savage. Never mind characterizing either now. He has seen the error of his ways, and divorced with the muse whom he never ought to have wooed.

The shrewd Cassidy not only could not write himself, but knew he could not — or, at least pen more than a plain paragraph, or a brief sentence to the point, but said he would carry this paper to his chief. “His Excellency” was the nickname by which this chief was called by his familiars. Mugford — Frederick Mugford, was his real name — and putting out of sight that little defect in his character, that he committed a systematic literary murder once a week, a more worthy good-natured little murderer did not live. He came of the old school of the press. Like French marshals, he had risen from the ranks, and retained some of the manners and oddities of the private soldier. A new race of writers had grown up since he enlisted as a printer’s boy — men of the world, with the manners of other gentlemen. Mugford never professed the least gentility. He knew that his young men laughed at his peculiarities, and did not care a fig for their scorn. As the knife with which he conveyed his victuals to his mouth went down his throat at the plenteous banquets which he gave, he saw his young friends wince and wonder, and rather relished their surprise. Those lips never cared in the least about placing his h’s in right places. They used bad language with great freedom — (to hear him bullying a printing-office was a wonder of eloquence) — but they betrayed no secrets, and the words which they uttered you might trust. He had belonged to two or three parties, and had respected them all. When he went to the Under-Secretary’s office he was never kept waiting; and once or twice Mrs. Mugford, who governed him, ordered him to attend the Saturday reception of the Ministers’ ladies, where he might be seen, with dirty hands, it is true, but a richly-embroidered waistcoat and fancy satin tie. His heart, however, was not in these entertainments. I have heard him say that he only came because Mrs. M. would have it; and he frankly owned that he “would rather ‘ave a pipe, and a drop of something ‘ot, than all your ices and rubbish.”

Mugford had a curious knowledge of what was going on in the world, and of the affairs of countless people. When Cass. brought Philip’s article to his Excellency, and mentioned the author’s name, Mugford showed himself to be perfectly familiar with the histories of Philp and his father. “The old chap has nobbled the young fellow’s money, almost every shilling of it, I hear. Knew he never would carry on. His discounts would have killed any man. Seen his paper about this ten year. Young one is a gentleman — passionate fellow, hawhaw fellow, but kind to the poor. Father never was a gentleman, with all his fine airs and fine waistcoats. I don’t set up in that line myself, Cass., but I tell you I know ’em when I see ’em.”

Philip had friends and private patrons whose influence was great with the Mugford family, and of whom he little knew. Every year Mrs. M. was in the habit of contributing a Mugford to the world. She was one of Mrs. Brandon’s most regular clients; and year after year, almost from his first arrival in London, Ridley, the painter, had been engaged as portrait painter to this worthy family. Philip and his illness; Philip and his horses, splendours, and entertainments; Philip and his lamentable downfall and ruin, had formed the subject of many an interesting talk between Mrs. Mugford and her friend, the Little Sister; and as we know Caroline’s infatuation about the young fellow, we may suppose that his good qualities lost nothing in the description. When that article in the Pall Mall Gazette appeared, Nurse Brandon took the omnibus to Haverstock Hill, where, as you know, Mugford had his villa; — arrived at Mrs. Mugford’s , Gazette in hand, and had a long and delightful conversation with that lady. Mrs. Brandon bought I don’t know how many copies of that Pall Mall Gazette. She now asked for it repeatedly in her walks at sundry ginger-beer shops, and of all sorts of newsvendors. I have heard that when the Mugfords first purchased the Gazette, Mrs. M. used to drop bills from her pony-chaise, and distribute placards setting forth the excellence of the journal. “We keep our carriage, but we ain’t above our business, Brandon,” that good lady would say. And the business prospered under the management of these worthy folks; and the pony-chaise unfolded into a noble barouche; and the pony increased and multiplied, and became a pair of horses; and there was not a richer piece of gold-lace round any coachman’s hat in London than now decorated John, who had grown with the growth of his master’s fortunes, and drove the chariot in which his worthy employers rode on the way to Hampstead, honour, and prosperity.

“All this pitching into the poet is very well, you know, Cassidy,” says Mugford to his subordinate. “It’s like shooting a butterfly with a blunderbuss; but if Firmin likes that kind of sport, I don’t mind. There won’t be any difficulty about taking his copy at our place. The duchess knows another old woman who is a friend of his” (“the duchess” was the title which Mr. Mugford was in the playful habit of conferring upon his wife). “It’s my belief young F. had better stick to the law, and leave the writing rubbish alone. But he knows his own affairs best, and, mind you, the duchess is determined we shall give him a helping hand.”

Once, in the days of his prosperity, and in J. J.’s company, Philip had visited Mrs. Mugford and her family — a circumstance which the gentleman had almost forgotten. The painter and his friend were taking a Sunday walk, and came upon Mugford’s pretty cottage and garden, and were hospitably entertained there by the owners of the place. It has disappeared, and the old garden has long since been covered by terraces and villas, and Mugford and Mrs. M., good souls, where are they? But the lady thought she had never seen such a fine-looking young fellow as Philip; cast about in her mind which of her little female Mugfords should marry him; and insisted upon offering her guest champagne. Poor Phil! So, you see, whilst, perhaps, he was rather pluming himself upon his literary talents, and imagining that he was a clever fellow, he was only the object of a job on the part of two or three good folks, who knew his history, and compassionated his misfortunes.

Mugford recalled himself to Philip’s recollection, when they met after the appearance of Mr. Phil’s first performance in the Gazette. If he still took a Sunday walk, Hampstead way, Mr. M. requested him to remember that there was a slice of beef and a glass of wine at the old shop. Philip remembered it well enough now: the ugly room, the ugly family, the kind worthy people. Ere long he learned what had been Mrs. Brandon’s connection with them, and the young man’s heart was softened and grateful as he thought how this kind, gentle creature had been able to befriend him. She, we may be sure, was not a little proud of her protégé. I believe she grew to fancy that the whole newspaper was written by Philip. She made her fond parent read it aloud as she worked. Mr. Ridley, senior, pronounced it was remarkable fine, really now; without, I think, entirely comprehending the meaning of the sentiments which Mr. Gann gave forth in his rich loud voice, and often dropping asleep in his chair during this sermon.

In the autumn, Mr. Firmin’s friends, Mr. and Mrs. Pendennis, selected the romantic seaport town of Boulogne for their holiday residence; and having roomy quarters in the old town, we gave Mr. Philip an invitation to pay us a visit whenever he could tear himself away from literature and law. He came in high spirits. He amused us by imitations and descriptions of his new proprietor and master, Mr. Mugford — his blunders, his bad language, his good heart. One day, Mugford expected a celebrated literary character to dinner, and Philip and Cassidy were invited to meet him. The great man was ill, and was unable to come. “Don’t dish up the side-dishes,” called out Mugford to his cook, in the hearing of his other guests. “Mr. Lyon ain’t a coming.” They dined quite sufficiently without the side-dishes, and were perfectly cheerful in the absence of the lion. Mugford patronized his young men with amusing good-nature. “Firmin, cut the goose for the duchess, will you? Cass. can’t say Bo! to one, he can’t. Ridley, a little of the stuffing. It’ll make your hair curl.” And Philip was going to imitate a frightful act with the cold steel (with which I have said Philip’s master used to convey food to his mouth), but our dear innocent third daughter uttered a shriek of terror, which caused him to drop the dreadful weapon. Our darling little Florence is a nervous child, and the sight of an edged tool causes her anguish, ever since our darling little Tom nearly cut his thumb off with his father’s razor.

Our main amusement in this delightful place was to look at the sea-sick landing from the steamers; and one day, as we witnessed this phenomenon, Philip sprang to the ropes which divided us from the arriving passengers, and with a cry of “How do you do, general?” greeted a yellow-faced gentleman, who started back, and, to my thinking, seemed but ill inclined to reciprocate Philip’s friendly greeting. The general was fluttered, no doubt, by the bustle and interruptions incidental to the landing. A pallid lady, the partner of his existence, probably, was calling out, “Noof et doo domestiques, Doo!” to the sentries who kept the line, and who seemed little interested by this family news. A governess, a tall young lady, and several more male and female children, followed the pale lady, who, as I thought, looked strangely frightened when the gentleman addressed as general communicated to her Philip’s name. “Is that him?” said the lady in questionable grammar; and the tall young lady turned a pair of large eyes upon the individual designated as “him,” and showed a pair of dank ringlets, out of which the envious sea-nymphs had shaken all the curl.

The general turned out to be General Baynes; the pale lady was Mrs. General B.; the tall young lady was Miss Charlotte Baynes, the general’s eldest child; and the other six, forming nine, or “noof,” in all, as Mrs. General B. said, were the other members of the Baynes family. And here I may as well say why the general looked alarmed on seeing Philip, and why the general’s lady frowned at him. In action, one of the bravest of men, in common life General Baynes was timorous and weak. Specially he was afraid of Mrs. General Baynes, who ruled him with a vigorous authority. As Philip’s trustee, he had allowed Philip’s father to make away with the boy’s money. He learned with a ghastly terror that he was answerable for his own remissness and want of care. For a long while he did not dare to tell his commander-in-chief of this dreadful penalty which was hanging over him. When at last he ventured upon this confession, I do not envy him the scene which must have ensued between him and his comma............

Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved