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Part 3 Chapter 6 Res Angusta Domi

To reconcile these two men was impossible, after such a quarrel as that described in the last chapter. The only chance of peace was to keep the two men apart. If they met, they would fly at each other. Mugford always persisted that he could have got the better of his great hulking sub-editor, who did not know the use of his fists. In Mugford’s youthful time, bruising was a fashionable art; and the old gentleman still believed in his own skill and prowess. “Don’t tell me,” he would say; “though the fellar is as big as a life-guardsman, I would have doubled him up in two minutes.” I am very glad, for poor Charlotte’s sake and his own, that Philip did not undergo the doubling-up process. He himself felt such a wrath and surprise at his employer as, I suppose, a lion does when a little dog attacks him. I should not like to be that little dog; nor does my modest and peaceful nature at all prompt and impel me to combat with lions.

It was mighty well Mr. Philip Firmin had shown his spirit, and quarrelled with his bread-and-butter; but when Saturday came, what philanthropist would hand four sovereigns and four shillings over to Mr. F., as Mr. Burjoyce, the publisher of the Pall Mall Gazette, had been accustomed to do? I will say for my friend that a still keener remorse than that which he felt about money thrown away attended him when he found that Mrs. Woolsey, towards whom he had cast a sidelong stone of persecution, was a most respectable and honourable lady. “I should like to go, sir, and grovel before her,” Philip said, in his energetic way. “If I see that tailor, I will request him to put his foot on my head, and trample on me with his highlows. Oh, for shame! for shame! Shall I never learn charity towards my neighbours, and always go on believing in the lies which people tell me? When I meet that scoundrel Trail at the club, I must chastise him. How dared he take away the reputation of an honest woman?” Philip’s friends besought him, for the sake of society and peace, not to carry this quarrel farther. “If,” we said, “every woman whom Trail has maligned had a champion who should box Trail’s ears at the club, what a vulgar, quarrelsome place that club would become! My dear Philip, did you ever know Mr. Trail say a good word of man or woman?” and by these or similar entreaties and arguments, we succeeded in keeping the Queen’s peace.

Yes: but how find another Pall Mall Gazette? Had Philip possessed seven thousand pounds in the three per cents., his income would have been no greater than that which he drew from Mugford’s faithful bank. Ah! how wonderful ways and means are! When I think how this very line, this very word, which I am writing represents money, I am lost in a respectful astonishment. A man takes his own case, as he says his own prayers, on behalf of himself and his family. I am paid, we will say, for the sake of illustration, at the rate of sixpence per line. With the words “Ah, how wonderful,” to the words “per line,” I can buy a loaf, a piece of butter, a jug of milk, a modicum of tea, — actually enough to make breakfast for the family; and the servants of the house; and the charwoman, their servant, can shake up the tea-leaves with a fresh supply of water, sop the crusts, and get a meal, tant bien que mal. Wife, children, guests, servants, charwoman, we are all actually making a meal off Philip Firmin’s bones as it were. And my next-door neighbour, whom I see marching away to chambers, umbrella in hand? And next door but one, the city man? And next door but two the doctor! — I know the baker has left loaves at every one of their doors this morning, that all their chimnies are smoking, and they will all have breakfast. Ah, thank God for it! I hope, friend, you and I are not too proud to ask for our daily bread, and to be grateful for getting it? Mr. Philip had to work for his, in care and trouble, like other children of men:— to work for it, and I hope to pray for it, too. It is a thought to me awful and beautiful, that of the daily prayer, and of the myriads of fellow-men uttering it, in care and in sickness, in doubt and in poverty, in health and in wealth. Panem nostrum da nobis hodie. Philip whispers it by the bedside where wife and child lie sleeping, and goes to his early labour with a stouter heart: as he creeps to his rest when the day’s labour is over, and the quotidian bread is earned, and breathes his hushed thanks to the bountiful Giver of the meal. All over this world what an endless chorus is singing of love, and thanks, and prayer. Day tells to day the wondrous story, and night recounts it unto night. — How do I come to think of a sunrise which I saw near twenty years ago on the Nile, when the river and sky flushed and glowed with the dawning light, and as the luminary appeared, the boatmen knelt on the rosy deck, and adored Allah? So, as thy sun rises, friend, over the humble housetops round about your home, shall you wake many and many a day to duty and labour. May the task have been honestly done when the night comes; and the steward deal kindly with the labourer.

So two of Philip’s cables cracked and gave way after a very brief strain, and the poor fellow held by nothing now but that wonderful European Review established by the mysterious Tregarvan. Actors, a people of superstitions and traditions, opine that heaven, in some mysterious way, makes managers for their benefit. In like manner, Review proprietors are sent to provide the pabulum for us men of letters. With what complacency did my wife listen to the somewhat long-winded and pompous oratory of Tregarvan! He pompous and commonplace? Tregarvan spoke with excellent good sense. That wily woman never showed she was tired of his conversation. She praised him to Philip behind his back, and would not allow a word in his disparagement. As a doctor will punch your chest, your liver, your heart, listen at your lungs, squeeze your pulse, and what not, so this practitioner studied, shampooed, auscultated Tregarvan. Of course, he allowed himself to be operated upon. Of course, he had no idea that the lady was flattering, wheedling, humbugging him; but thought that he was a very well-informed, eloquent man, who had seen and read a great deal, and had an agreeable method of imparting his knowledge, and that the lady in question was a sensible woman, naturally eager for more information. Go, Dalilah! I understand your tricks! I know many another Omphale in London, who will coax Hercules away from his club, to come and listen to her wheedling talk.

One great difficulty we had was to make Philip read Tregarvan’s own articles in the Review. He at first said he could not, or that he could not remember them; so that there was no use in reading them. And Philip’s new master used to make artful allusions to his own writings in the course of conversation, so that our unwary friend would find himself under examination in any casual interview with Tregarvan, whose opinions on free-trade, malt-tax, income-tax, designs of Russia, or what not,might be accepted or denied, but ought at least to be known. We actually made Philip get up his owner’s articles. We put questions to him, privily, regarding them — “coached” him, according to the university phrase. My wife humbugged that wretched Member of Parliament in a way which makes me shudder, when I think of what hypocrisy the sex is capable. Those arts and dissimulations with which she wheedles others, suppose she exercise them on me? Horrible thought! No, angel! To others thou mayst be a coaxing hypocrite; to me thou art all candour! Other men may have been humbugged by other women; but I am not to be taken in by that sort of thing; and thou art all candour!

We had then so much per annum as editor. We were paid, besides, for our articles. We had really a snug little pension out of this Review, and we prayed it might last for ever. We might write a novel. We might contribute articles to a daily paper; get a little parliamentary practice as a barrister. We actually did get Philip into a railway case or two, and my wife must be coaxing and hugging solicitors’ ladies, as she had wheedled and coaxed Members of Parliament. Why, I do believe my Dalilah set up a flirtation with old Bishop Crossticks, with an idea of getting her protégé a living; and though the lady indignatly repudiates this charge, will she be pleased to explain how the bishop’s sermons were so outrageously praised in the Review?

Philip’s roughness and frankness did not displease Tregarvan, to the wonder of us all, who trembled lest he should lose this as he had lost his former place. Tregarvan had more country-houses than one, and at these not only was the editor of the Review made welcome, but the editor’s wife and children, whom Tregarvan’s wife took in especial regard. In London, Lady Mary had assemblies, where our little friend Charlotte made her appearance; and half-a-dozen times in the course of the season the wealthy Cornish gentleman feasted his retainers of the Review. His wine was excellent and old; his jokes were old, too; his table pompous, grave, plentiful. If Philip was to eat the bread of dependence, the loaf was here very kindly prepared for him; and he ate it humbly, and with not too much grumbling. This diet chokes some proud stomachs and disagrees with them; but Philip was very humble now, and of a nature grateful for kindness. He is one who requires the help of friends, and can accept benefits without losing independence — not all men’s gifts, but some men’s, whom he repays not only with coin, but with an immense affection and gratitude. How that man did laugh at my witticisms! How he worshipped the ground on which my wife walked! He elected himself our champion. He quarrelled with other people, who found fault with our characters, or would not see our perfections. There was something affecting in the way in which this big man took the humble place. We could do no wrong in his eyes; and woe betide the man who spoke disparagingly of us in his presence!

One day, at his patron’s table, Philip exercised his valour and championship in our behalf by defending us against the evil speaking of that Mr. Trail, who has been mentioned before as a gentleman difficult to please, and credulous of ill regarding his neighbour. The talk happened to fall upon the character of the reader’s most humble servant, and Trail, as may be imagined, spared me no more than the rest of mankind. Would you like to be liked by all people? That would be a reason why Trail should hate you. Were you an angel fresh dropped from the skies, he would espy dirt on your robe, and a black feather or two in your wing. As for me, I know I am not angelical at all; and in walking my native earth, can’t help a little mud on my trousers. Well: Mr. Trail began to paint my portrait, laying on those dark shadows which that well-known master is in the habit of employing. I was a parasite of the nobility; I was a heartless sycophant, house-breaker, drunkard, murderer, returned convict, With a little imagination, Mrs. Candour can fill up the outline, and arrange the colours so as to suit her amiable fancy.

Philip had come late to dinner; of this fault, I must confess, he is guilty only too often. The company were at table; he took the only place vacant, and this happened to be at the side of Mr. Trail. On Trail’s other side was a portly individual of a healthy and rosy countenance and voluminous white waistcoat, to whom Trail directed much of his amiable talk, and whom he addressed once or twice as Sir John. Once or twice already we have seen how Philip has quarrelled at table. He cried mea culpa loudly and honestly enough. He made vows of reform in this particular. He succeeded, dearly beloved brethren, not much worse or better than you and I do, who confess our faults, and go on promising to improve, and stumbling and picking ourselves up every day. The pavement of life is strewed with orange-peel; and who has not slipped on the flags?

“He is the most conceited man in London," — Trail was going on, “and one of the most worldly. He will throw over a colonel to dine with a general. He wouldn’t throw over you two baronets — he is a great deal too shrewd a fellow for that. He wouldn’t give you up, perhaps, to dine with a lord; but any ordinary baronet he would.”

“And why not us as well as the rest?” asks Tregarvan, who seemed amused at the speaker’s chatter.

“Because you are not like common baronets at all. Because your estates are a great deal too large. Because, I suppose, you might either of you go to the Upper House any day. Because, as an author, he may be supposed to be afraid of a certain Review,” cries Trail, with a loud laugh.

“Trail is speaking of a friend of yours,” said the host, nodding and smiling to the new comer.

“Very lucky for my friend,” growls Philip, and eats his soup in silence.

“By the way, that article of his on Madame de Sévigné is poor stuff. No knowledge of the period. Three gross blunders in French. A man can’t write of French society unless he has lived in French society. What does Pendennis know of it? A man who makes blunders like those can’t understand French. A man who can’t speak French can’t get on in French society. Therefore he can’t write about French society. All these propositions are clear enough. Thank you. Dry champagne, if you please. He is enormously overrated, I tell you; and so is his wife. They used to put her forward as a beauty: and she is only a dowdy woman out of a nursery. She has no style about her.”

“She is only one of the best women in the world,” Mr. Firmin called out, turning very red; and hereupon entered into a defence of our characters, and pronounced a eulogium upon both and each of us, in which I hope there was some little truth. However, he spoke with great enthusiasm, and Mr. Trail found himself in a minority.

“You are right to stand up for your friends, Firmin!” cried the host. “Let me introduce you to — ”

“Let me introduce myself,” said the gentleman on the other side of Mr. Trail. “Mr. Firmin, you and I are kinsmen, — I am Sir John Ringwood.” And Sir John reached a hand to Philip across Trail’s chair. They talked a great deal together in the course of the evening: and when Mr. Trail found that the great county gentleman was friendly and familiar with Philip, and claimed a relationship with him, his manner towards Firmin altered. He pronounced afterwards a warm eulogy upon Sir John for his frankness and good nature in recognizing his unfortunate relative, and charitably said, “Philip might not be like the doctor, and could not help having a rogue for a father.” In former days, Trail had eaten and drunken freely at that rogue’s table. But we must have truth, you know, before all things: and if your own brother has committed a sin, common justice requires that you should stone him.

In former days, and not long after Lord Ringwood’s death, Philip had left his card at this kinsman’s door, and Sir John’s butler, driving in his master’s brougham, had left a card upon Philip, who was not over well pleased by this acknowledgment of his civility, and, in fact, employed abusive epithets when he spoke of the transaction. But when the two gentlemen actually met, their intercourse was kindly and pleasant enough. Sir John listened to his relative’s talk — and it appears, Philip comported himself with his usual free and easy manner — with interest and curiosity; and owned afterwards that evil tongues had previously been busy with the young man’s character, and that slander and untruth had been spoken regarding him. In this respect, if Philip is worse off than his neighbours, I can only say his neighbours are fortunate.

Two days after the meeting of the cousins, the transquillity of Thornhaugh Street was disturbed by the appearance of a magnificent yellow chariot, with crests, hammer-cloths, a bewigged coachman, and a powdered footman. Betsy, the nurse, who was going to take baby out for a walk, encountered this giant on the threshold of Mrs. Brandon’............

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