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The Falconers are evidently the strong features in the work, and afford the most glaring illustration of the mischief of relying on patronage. We have not space to describe the cominissioner one of those “ not bad men, but who have an exclusive sympathy with the prosperous." His talents, and those of his son John, are thus contrasted, in a scene which ensued upon his patron's order that the said John should be married outright.
" The commissioner set to work in earnest about the match he had id view for John. Not one, but several fair visions flitted before the eye of his politic mind. The Misses Chatterton, any one of whom would, he knew, come readily within the terms prescribed—but then, they had neither fortune nor connexions. A relation of Lady Jane Granville's-excellent connexion, and reasonable fortune-but there all the decorum of regular approaches and time would be necessary. Luckily a certain Miss Petcalf was just returned from India, with a large fortune. The general, her father, was anxious to introduce his daughter to the fashionable world, and to marry her for connexion fortune no object to him--delicacies he would waive. The commissioner saw--counted—and decided--There was a brother Petcalf, too, who might do for Georgiana--but for that no hurry)--John was asked by his father if he would like to be a major in a year, and a lieutenant-colonel in two years ! To be sure he would-was he a fool ?' . Then he must be married in a fortnight. John did not see how this conclusion followed immediately from the premises, for John was not quite a fool; so he answered-Indeed ! an indeed! so uplike Lord Oldborough's, that the commissioner, struck with the contrast, could scarcely maiutain the gravity the occasion required: and he could only pronounce the words, • General Petcalf has a daughter. Ay, Miss Petcalf--Ay, he is a general-true-now I see it all-Well, I'm their man- I have no objection--but Miss Petcalf!.... Is not that the Indian girl?.... Is not there a drop of black blood ?.... No, no, father,' cried John, drawing himself up- I'll bed--d....'' Hear me first, my own John,' cried his father, much and justly alarmed-for this motion was the precursor of an obstinate fit, which, if Johu took, perish father, mother, and the whole human race, he could not be moved from the settled purpose of his soul. • Hear me, my beloved John—for you are a man of sense,' said his unblushing father- do you think I'd have a drop of black blood for my daughter-in-law, much less let my favourite son .... But there's none~it is climate--all climate--as you may see by only looking at Mrs. Governor Carneguy, how she figures everywhere, and Miss Petcalf is nothing near so dark as Mrs. Carneguy, surely.' Surely'--said John.
• And her father, the general, gives her an Indian fortune to suit an Indian complexion.'. That's good, at any rate, quoth John. "Yes, my dear major-yes, my lieutenant-colonel, to be sure that's good. So, to secure the good the gods provide us,
go you this minute, dress and away to your fair Indian ....I'll undertake the business with the geueral.” “But a fortnight, my dear father,” said Joho, looking in the glass—“ how can that be ?” « Look again, and tell me how it can not be?—Pray don't put that difficulty into Miss Petcalf's head-into her heart I am sure it w?uld never come." John yielded his shoulder to the push his father gave him towards the door; but suddenly turning back---" Zounds, father, a fortnight,” he exclaimed, “ why, there won't be time to buy even boots !" " And what are even boots," replied his father, " to such a man as you ?
-Go, go, man; your legs are better than all the boots in the world.” I. 271-274.
The following matrimonial conference upon the means of settling a daughter is, we think, admirable.
“ Mrs. Falconer, there's one thing I won't allow I won't allow Georgiana and you to make a fool of young Petcalf.” “ By no means, my love, but if he makes a fool of himself, you know.” 6 Mrs. Falcoper, you recollect the transaction about the draught.” “ For Zara's dress ?"_“ Yes, Ma'am-The condition you made then in my name with Georgiaoa, I hold her to; and I expect that she be prepared to be Mrs. Petcalf within the year.” “ I told her so, my dear, and she acquiesces-she submits—she is ready to obey—if nothing better offers
1f-Ay, there it is ! All the time I know you are looking to the Clays, and if they fail, somebody else will start up whom you will thiok a better match than Petcalf, and all these people are to be feted, and so you will go on wasting my money
your own time. Petcalf will run restiff at last; you will lose him, and I shall have Georgiana left upon my hands after all." “No danger, my dear. My principle is the most satisfactory and secure imaginable. To have a number of tickets in the wheel—then, if one comes up a blank, still you have a chance of a prize in the next. Only have patience, Mr. Falconer.” “ Patience, my dear, how can a man have patience, when he has seen the same thing going on for years ? And I have said the same thing to you over and over-a hundred times, Mrs. Falconer." " A hundred times at least, I grant, and that perhaps is enough to try my patience you'll allow, and yet you see how reasonable I am. I have only to repeat what is incontrovertible, that when a girl has been brought up, and has lived in a certain line, you must push her in that line, for she will not do in any other. You must be sensible, that no mere country gentleman would ever think of Georgiana-We must push her in the line for which she is fit-the fashionable line.”“Push! Bless my soul, Ma'am! you have been pushing one or other of those girls ever since they were in their teens, but your pushing signifies nothing. The men, don't you see, back as fast as the women advance." “ Coarse !—Too coarse ! too commonplace an observation for you, commissioner," said Mrs. Falconer, with admirable teme per; “ but when men are angry, they will say more than they Vol. IV. New Series.
think.” “ Ma'am, I don't say half as much as I think ....ever." “ Indeed!—That is a candid confession, for which I owe you credit at all events.”—“ It's a foolish game.... it's a foolish game .... it's a losing game,” continued the commissioner," and you will play it till we are ruined.”
“ Not a losing game if it be played with temper and spirit. Many throw up the game like cowards, when, if they had but had courage to double the bet, they would have made their fortune.” “ Pshaw! Pshaw !” said the commissioner" Can you double your girls' beauty ? can you double their fortune ?”
• Fashion stands in the place both of beauty and fortune, Mr. Falconer; and fashion my girls, I hope you will allow, enjoy." “ Enjoy! What signifies that ? -Fashion, you told me, was to win Count Altenberg-has it won him? Are we one bit the better for the expense we were at in all those entertaioments ?” “ All that-or most of it.... at least the popularity ball, must be set down to Lord Oldborough's account, and that is your affair, commissioner.” “ And the play, and the play house, and the dresses !~Was Zara's dress my affair?--Did I poi tell you you were wasting your time upon that man ?” waste, nothing bas been wasted, my dear commissioner; believe me, even in point of economy we could not have laid out money better; for at a trifling experse we have obtained for Georgiana the credit of having refused Count Altenberg. Lady Kew and Lady Trant have spread the report. You know it is not my business to speakand now the court is gone, wbo can contradict it with any propriety ? The thing is universally believed. Every body is talking of it; and the consequence is, Georgiana is more io fashion now than ever she was." III. 210—215.
Having in the above extracts mentioned the Clays, we cannot refuse our readers the satisfaction of their nearer acquaintance in Miss Edgeworth's picturesque description of them.
“ French Clay, and English Clay, as they have been named, are brothers, both men of large fortune, which their father acquired respectably by commerce, and which they are speoding in all kinds of extravagance and profligacy, not from inclination, but merely to purchase admission into fine company. French Clay is a travelled coxcomb, who, a propos de bottes, begins with— When I was abroad with the Princess Orbitella... But I am afraid I cannot speak of this man with impartiality, for I cannot bear to see an Englishman aping a Frenchman. The imitation is always so awkward, so ridiculous, so contemptible. French Clay talks of tact, but without possessing any; he delights in what he calls persiflage, but in his persiflage, instead of the wit and elegance of Parisian raillery, there appears only the vulgar love and habit of derision. He is continually railing at our English want of savoir vivre, yet is himself an example of the ill breeding which he reprobates. His manners have neither the cordiality of an Englishman, nor the polish of a foreigner. To improve us in
l'esprit de société, he would introduce the whole system of French gallantry—the vice without the refinement. I beard him ackoowledge it to be his principle' to intrigue with every married woman who would listen to him, provided she has any one of his four requisites, wit, sashion, beauty, or a good table. He says his late suit in Doctors' Commons cost him nothing; for 10,0001. are nothing to him. Public virtue, as well as private, he thinks it a fine air to disdain-and patriotism and love of our country be calls prejudices, of which a philosopher ought to devest himself. Some charitable people say that he is not so unfeeling as he seems to be, and that above lialf his vices arise from affectation, and from a mistaken ambition to be what he thinks perfectly French.
“ His brother, English Clay, is a cold, reserved, proud, dull looking man, whom art, in despite of nature, strove, and strove in vain, to quickeo into • a gay deceiver.' He is a grave mau of pleasure-his first care being to provide for his exclusively personal gratifications. His dinner is a serious, solemo business, whether it be at his own table or at a tavern, which last he presers-he orders it so, that his repast shall be the very best of its kind that money can procure. His next care is, that he be not cheated in what he is to pay. Not that he values money, but he cannot bear to be taken in. Then his dress, his horses, his whole appointment and establishment, are complete, and accurately in the fashion of the day--no expense spared. All that beloogs to Mr. Clay, of Clay Hall, is the best of its kind, or, at least, had from the best hand in England. Every thing about him is English; but I don't know whether this arises from love of his couotry, or contempt of his brother. English Clay is not ostentatious of that which is his own, but he is disdainful of all that belongs to another. The slightest deficiency in the appointments of his companions he sees, and marks by a wink to some bystander, or with a dry joke laughs the wretch to scorn. In company, he delights to sit by, silent and snug, sneering inwardly at those who are entertaining the company, and committing themselves. He never entertains, and is seldom entertained. His joys are neither convivial por intellectual; he is gregarious, but not companionable; a hard drinker, but not social. Wine sometimes makes him noisy, but Dever makes him gay; and, whatever be his excesses, he commits them seeiningly without temptation from taste or passion. He keeps a furiously expensive mistress, whom he curses, and who curses him, as Buckhurst informs me, ten times a day; yet he prides himself on being free and unmarried! Scorning and dreading women in general, he swears he would not marry Venus herself, unless she had 100,000l. in each pocket; and now, that no mortal Venus wears pockets, he thanks Heaven he is safe. Buckhurst, I remember, assured me, that beneath this crust of pride there is some good nature. Deep hid under a large mass of selfishness there may be some glimmeriugs of affection. He shows symptoms of feeling for his horses, and his inother, and his coachman, and his country. I do believe he would fight for old En. gland, for it is his country, and be is English Clay. Affection for his enachman did I say?--He shows admiration, if not affection, for every
whip of note in town. He is their companion. ... no, their pupil, and, as Antoninus Pius gratefully prided himself in recording the names of those relations and friends from whom he learnt his several virtues, this man may boast to after ages of haviog learnt how to cut a fly off his near leader's ear from one coachman, how to tuck up a duck from another, and the true spit from a third--by the by, it is said, but I don't vouch for the truth of the story, that this last accomplishment cost him a tooth, which he had had drawn to attain it in perfection. Pure slang he could not learn from any one coachman, but from constantly frequenting the society of all. I recollect Buckhurst Falconer's telling me that he dined once with English Clay, in company with a baronet, a viscount, an earl, a duke, and the driver of a mail-coach, to whom was given, by acclamation, the seat of honour. I am told there is a house, at which these gentlemen and noblemen meet regularly every week, where there are two dioing rooms divided by glass doors. In one room the real coachmen die, in the other the amateur tlemen, who, when they are tired of their own conversation, throw open the glass doors, that they may be entertained and edified by the coachmen's wit and slang; in which dialect English Clay's rapid proficieney has, it is said, recommended him to the best society, even more than his being the master of the best of cooks, and of Clay Hall."-II. 362-368.
With Lord Oldborough's character, notwithstanding it is evidently a laboured and a favourite sketch, we confess we are not much captivated or edified; and Miss Edgeworth herself seems to be unwilling to seal it with the stamp of her good or evil favour.” It may be said that it is the more true to nature; but although the Patron was necessary to the moral, we think poetical justice required a more decisive preponderance of good or ill, to be assigned to him. Mr. Percy describes him as "a noble mind corroded and debased by ambition-virtuous principle, generous feeling stifleda powerful, capacious understanding distorted beyond recovery-a soul once expatiating, and full of high thoughts, now confined to a span-bent down to low concerns--imprisoned in the precincts of a court."
This high-souled minister, early in the history, sends Godfrey Percy to the West Indies, because he fancies the young soldier admires bis lordship's niece: and, at the close of it, he discovers, in the features of a personage very unimportant otherwise, his son, by an Italian lady, whom he had seduced and deserted in early life ;-a villany perfectly gratuitous, if it were not for the purpose of puzzling our understandings, after the author has laboured to prove that the patron's vices are those of his situation, and not of his heart.
We are somewhat amused in pondering upon the effect which this character of Lord Oldborough-its air of history--the plot