Chapter 160140473

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160140473
Full Date1881-01-22
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count1119
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleEndymion
article text

CHAPTER II.

Zeuobia was the Qaeen of London, of fashions and of the Tory party. When she was not holding high festivals, or attending them, she was alwaysat home to her intimates, and as she deigned but rarely to hononr the assemblies of others with her presence she was generally at her evening post to receive the initiated. To be her invited gneBt nnder each circumstances, proved at once that yon had entered the highest

circle of the social Paradise.

Zenobia was leaning back on a brilliant sofa, supported by many cushions, and a great per sonage, grey headed, and blue ribboned, who was permitted to shard the honours of the high place, was banging on her animated and inspi ring accents. An Ambassador, in an armed chair, which he had placed somewhat before her, while he listened with apparent devotion to the oracle, now. and then interposed a remark— polished and occasionally cynical. More remote, some dames of high degree were surrounded by a chosen band of rank and fashion and cele

brity ; and now and then was heard a silver laugh, and now and then was breathed a gentle sigh. Servants glided about the suite of summer chambers, occasionally with sherbets and ices, and sometimes a lady entered and saluted Zenobia, and then retreated to the general group; and sometimes a gentleman entered, and pressed the hand of Zenobia to his lips, and then vanished into air.

•' What I want you to see," said Zenobia, " is, that reaction is the law of life, and that we are on the eve of a great reaction. Sioce Lord Oastlereagh's death we have had five years of revolution—nothing but change, and every change has been disastrous. Abroad we are in league with all the conspirators of the Conti nent, and if there were a general war, we should not have an ally; at home our trade, I am told, is quite ruined, and we are deluged with foreign articles; while, thanks to Mr. HuBkisBon, the country Banks, which enabled Mr. Pitt to carry on the war, and saved England, are all broken. There was one thing, of which I thought we should always be proud, and that was our laws and their administration; but now our most sacred enactments are questioned, and people are told to call out for the reform of our Courts of Judicature, which used to be the glory of the land. This cannot last. I see, indeed, many signs of national disgnst; people would have borne a good deal from poor Lord Liverpool—for they knew he was a good man, though I always thought a weak one; but when it was found that this boasted Liberalism only meant letting the Whigs into office—who if they had always

been in office would have made ub the slaves of Bonaparte—their eyes were opened. Depend upon it the reaction has commenced."

" We shall have some trouble with France," said the Ambassador, " unless there is a change here"

" The Church is weary of the present men," said the great personage. " No one really knows what they are after."

" And how can the country be governed with

out the Church ?" exclaimed Zenobia. " If the country once thinks the Ohnrcb is in danger the affair will soon be finished. The King ought to be told what is going on."

" Nothing is going on," said the Ambassador; " but everybody is afraid of something."

" The King's friends should impress upon him never to lose sight of the landed interests," said the great personage.

" How can any Government go on without the support of the Church and the land ?" exclaimed Zenobia. " It is quite unnatural."

" That is the mystery," remarked the Ambas sador. " Here is a Government supported by none of the influences hitherto deemed indis pensable, and yet it exists."

" The newspapers support it," said the great personage, " and the Dissenters, who are trying to bring themselves into notice, and who are said to have some influence in the northern counties; and the Whigs, who are in a hole, are willing to seize the hand of the Ministry to help them out of it; and then there is always a number of people who will support any Government, and so the thing works." _

" They have got a new name for this hybrid sentiment," said the Ambassador—" they call it public opinion."

" How very absurd !" said Zenobia; " a mere nickname. As if there could be any opinion but that of the sovereign and the two Houses

of Parliament."

" They are trying to introduce here the Con tinental Liberalism," said the great personage. " Now we know what Liberalism means on the Continent. It means the abolition of property and religion. Those ideas would not suit this country; and I often puzzle myself to foresee bow they will attempt to apply Liberal opinions

here."

" I shall always think," said Zenobia, " that Lord Liverpool went much too far, though I never said so in his time; for I always upheld my friends."

" Well, we shall see what Canning will do about the Test and Corporations Acts," said the great personage, "I understand they meian to push him."

"By the by, how is he really?" said the Ambassador. " What are the accounts this afternoon ?"

" Here is a gentleman who will tell ub," said Zenobia, as Mr. Ferrars entered and saluted

her.

"And what is your news from Ohiswiek?" she enquired.

"They say at Brookes, that he will be at Downing-street on Monday."

" I donbt it," said Zenobia, with an expression of disappointment.

Zenobia invited Mr. Ferrars to join her im mediate circle. The great personage and the Ambassador were confidentially affable to one whom Zenobia so distinguished. Their con versation was in hushed tones, as became the initiated. .Even Zenobia seemed subdued and listened; and to listen, among her many talents was perhaps ber rarest. Mr. Ferrars was one of her favourites, and Zenobia liked young men who she thought would beoome Ministers of

State.

An Hungarian Princess, who had quitted the opera early that she might look in at Zenobia's, was now announced. The arrival of this great lady made a stir. Zenobia embraoed her, and the great personage' with affectionate homBge yielded to her irstantly the place of honour, and then soon retreated to the laughing voices in the distance that had already more than once attracted and oharmed his ear.

"Mind, I see yon to-morrow," said Zsnobia

to Mr. Ferrers as he also withdrew. " I shall have something to tell you."