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Chapter 92

He is indulged with a second Audience by the Minister, of whose Sincerity he is convinced — His Pride and Ambition revive, and again are mortified.

If the young gentleman’s money had been in other hands, perhaps the peer would have been at very little pains, either in gratifying his demand, or opposing his revenge; but he knew that the sale of the mortgage could not be effected without an inquiry, to which he did not wish to be exposed. He, therefore, employed all his interest in procuring the solicited audience. This being granted, Peregrine, with great warmth and elocution, expatiated upon the injury his fortune had suffered in the affair of the borough, for which he had stood candidate; he took notice of the disappointment he had sustained in the other election, reminded him of the promises with which he had been amused, and, in conclusion, desired to know what he had to expect from his favour. The minister having patiently heard him to an end, replied with a most gracious aspect, that he was very well informed of his merit and attachment, and very much disposed to convince him of the regard which he paid to both; that till of late he did not know the nature of his expectations, neither had he the power of creating posts for those whom he was inclined to serve; but if Mr. Pickle would chalk out any feasible method by which he could manifest his sentiments of friendship, he should not be backward in executing the plan.

Peregrine, laying hold on this declaration, mentioned several places which he knew to be vacant. But the old evasion was still used; one of them was not in his department of business, another had been promised to the third son of a certain earl before the death of the last possessor, and a third was encumbered with a pension that ate up a good half of the appointments. In short, such obstructions were started to all his proposals as he could not possibly surmount, though he plainly perceived they were no other than specious pretexts to cover the mortifying side of a refusal. Exasperated, therefore, at this lack of sincerity and gratitude, “I can easily foresee,” said he, “that such difficulties will never be wanting, when I have anything to ask; and for that reason will save myself the trouble of any further application.” So saying, he withdrew in a very abrupt manner, breathing defiance and revenge. But his patron, who did not think proper to drive him to extremities, found means to persuade his honour to do something for the pacification of the young man’s choler; and that same evening our adventurer received a message from his lordship, desiring to see him immediately.

In consequence of this intimation, Pickle went to his house, and appeared before him with a very cloudy aspect, which signified to whom it might concern, that his temper was at present too much galled to endure reproof; and therefore the sagacious peer forbore taking him to task for his behaviour during the audience he had obtained; but gave him to understand, that the minister, in consideration of his services, had sent him a bank-note of three hundred pounds, with a promise of the like sum yearly, until he could be otherwise provided for. This declaration in some measure appeased the youth, who condescended to accept the present; and, next levee day, made his acknowledgment to the donor, who favoured him with a smile of infinite complacency, which entirely dissipated all the remains of his resentment; for, as he could not possibly divine the true cause of his being temporized with, he looked upon this condescension as an undoubted proof of Sir Steady’s sincerity, and firmly believed that he would settle him in some place with the first opportunity, rather than continue to pay this pension out of his own pocket. In all probability, his prediction would have been verified, had not an unforeseen accident in a moment overwhelmed the barque of his interest at court.

Meanwhile, this short gleam of good fortune recalled the ideas of pride and ambition which he had formerly cherished. His countenance was again lifted up, his good-humour retrieved, and his mien reexalted. Indeed, he began to be considered as a rising man by his fellow-dependents, who saw the particular notice with which he was favoured at the public levee; and some of them, for that reason, were at pains to court his good graces. He no longer shunned his former intimates, with whom a good part of his fortune had been spent, but made up to them in all places of public resort, with the same ease and familiarity as he had been used to express, and even re-embarked in some of their excesses, upon the strength of his sanguine expectation. Cadwallader and he renewed their consultations in the court of ridicule; and divers exploits were achieved, to the confusion of those who had “sailed into the north of their displeasure.”

But these enjoyments were soon interrupted by a misfortune equally fatal and unexpected. His noble patron was seized with an apoplectic fit, from which he was recovered by the physicians, that they might despatch him according to rule, and in two months after they were called, he went the way of all flesh. Peregrine was very much afflicted at this event, not only on account of his friendship for the deceased, to whom he thought himself under many and great obligations, but also because he feared that his own interest would suffer a severe shock, by the removal of this nobleman, whom he considered as its chief support. He put himself therefore in mourning, out of regard to the memory of his departed friend, and exhibited genuine marks of sorrow and concern, though he had in reality more cause to grieve than he as yet imagined. When quarter-day came about, he applied to the steward of his lordship’s heir for the interest of his money, as usual; and the reader will readily own he had some reason to be surprised, when he was told he had no claim either to principal or interest. True it is, the manager talked very civilly a............

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