Chapter 160140476

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160140476
Full Date1881-01-22
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count3107
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleEndymion
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CHAPTER in.

The father of Mr. Ferrers had the reputation of being the eon of a once somewhat celebrated statesman, bnt the only patrimony he icherited from his presumed parent was a clerkship in

the TreaBtuy, where he found himself drudging at an early age. Nature had endowed him with considerable abilities, and peonliarly adapted to the scene of their display. It was difficult to decide which was most remarkable, his shrewd ness or his capacity of labour. His quickness of perception and mastery of details made him in a few years an authority in tho office, and a Secretary of the Treasury, who was quite igno rant of details, but who was a good judge of human character, had the sense to appoint Ferrate his Private Secretary. This happy pre ferment in time opened the whole official world to one not only singularly qualified for that kind of life, but who possessed the peculiar gifts that were then commencing to be much _ in demand in those circles. We were then entering that era of commercial and financial reform which had been, if not absolutely occasioned, certainly precipitated by the revolt of our colonies. Knowledge of finance and acquain tance with tariffs were then rare gifts, and before five years of his Private Secretaryship had ex pired Ferrars was mentioned to Mr. Pitt as the man at the Treasury who could do something that the great Minister required. This decided his lot. Mr. Pitt found in Ferrars the instru ment he wanted, and appreciating all his qualities placed him in a position which afforded them full'pUy- The Minister returned Ferrars to Parlaimeut, for the Treasury then had boroughs of its own, and the new member was preferred to an important and laborious post. So long as Pitt and Grenville were in the ascendant Ferrars toiled and flourished. He was exactly the man they liked; unwearied, vigilant, clear,and cold; with a dash of natural sarcssm developed by a sharp and varied experience. He disappeared from the active world in the latter years of the Liverpool reign, when a newer generation and more bustling ideas suc cessfully asserted their claims; but he retired with the solace of a sinecure, a pension, and a Frivy-Oonncillorsbip. The Oabinet he had never entered nor dared to hope to enter. It was the privilege of an inner circle even in our then contracted public life. It was the dream of Ferrars to revenge in this respect his fate in the person of his son and only child. He was resolved that his offspring should enjoy all those advantages of education and breeding, and society, of which he himself had been deprived. For him was to be reserved a full initiation in those costly ceremonies, which under the name' of Eton and Christchurcb, in his tiuqe fascinated and dazzled mankind. His son William Pitt Ferrars realized even more than his father's hopea. Extremely good-looking, he was gifted with a precocity of talent. He was the marvel of Eton and the hope of Oxford. As a boy his Latin verses threw enraptured tutors into paroxysms of praise, while Debating Societies hailed with acclamation clearly another heaven-born Minis ter. He went up to Oxford about the time that the examinations were reformed and rendered really efficient. This only increased his renown, for the name of Ferrars figuted among the earliest double-firBts. Those were days when a crack University reputation often opened the doors of the House of Commons to a young aspirant, at least after a Beason. But Ferrars had not to wait. His father, who watched his career with the paasionate interest with which a Newmarket man watches the development of some gifted yearling, took care that all the oddB should be in his favour in the race of life. An old colleague of the elder Mr. Ferrars, a worthy peer, with many boroughs, placed a seat at the disposal of the youthful hero the moment he was prepared to accept it, and he might be said to have left the University only to enter

tbe House of Commons.

There, if his career had not yet realized the dreams of his youthful admirers, it had at least been one of progress and unbroken prosperity. Hie first speech was successful though florid, but it wob on foreign affairs, which permit rhetoric, and in those days demanded at least oneVirgiliau quotation. Iu this latter branch of oratorical adornment Ferrars was never defi cient. No young man of that time, and scarcely any old one, ventured to address Mr. Speaker without being equipped with a Latin passage. Ferrars in this respect was triply armed. Indeed, when he entered public life full of hope and promise, though disciplined to a certain extent by his mathematical training, he_ had read very little more than some Latin writers, some Greek plays, and some treatises of Aris totle. These with a due courseof Bampton lectures and some dipping into the "Quarterly Review," then in its prime, qualified a man in those days, not only for being a member of Parliament, bat becoming a candidate for the responsibility of statesmanship. Ferrars made his way; for two years he was occasionally asked by the Minister to speak, and then Lord Oastlereagb, who liked young men, made him a Lord of the Treasury. He was Under-Secretary of State and " very rising," when the death of Lord Liverpool brought abont the severance of the Tory party, and Mr. Ferrars, mainly under the advice of Zenobia, resigned his office when Mr. Canning was appointed Minister, and cast in his lot with the great destiny of the Duke of Wellington.

Tbe elder Ferrars had the reputation of beiDg wealthy. It was supposed that he. had enjoyed opportunities of making money and had availed himself of them, but this was not true. Though a cynic, and with little respect for his fellow-creatures, Ferrars had a pride in official purity, and when the Government was charged with venialty and corruption he would observe, with a dry chuckle, that he had seen a great deal of life, and that for his part he would net much trust any man out of Downing strcet. He had been unable to resist the temp tation of connecting bis life with that of an individual of birth and rank; and in a weak moment, perhaps his only one, he had given his son a stepmother in a still good-looking and very expensive Viscountess-Do wager.

Mr. Ferrars was desirous that his son should make a great alliance, but he was so distracted between prudential considerations and his desire that in tbe veins of his grandohildren there should flow blood of undoubted nobility that he conld never bring to his pnrpose that clear and concentrated will which was one of tbe c&nseBof his success in life; and in the midst of his perplexities his son nnexpectedly settled the question himself. Though naturally cold and calculating, W iilUm Ferrars, like moat of us, had a vein of romance in his being, and it asserted itself, There was a Miss Carey, who suddenly became the beauty of the season. She was an orphan, and reputed to be no inconsider able heiress, and was introduced to the world by an annt who was a duchess, and who meant that her niece should be the same. Everybody talked about them, and they went everywhere, among other places to the House of Commons, where Miss Carey, Bpying the senators from the old ventilator in the ceiling of St. Stephen's Chapel, dropped in her excitement her opera-glass,which

fell at the feet of Mr. Under-Secretary Ferrars. He hastened to restore it to its beautiful owner, whom he found accompanied by several of_ his friends, and he was not only thanked bat invited to remain with them; and the next day he called, and he called very often afterwards, and many

other things happened; and at the end of July the beauty of the season was married, not to a Duke, bnt to a rising man, who Zenobia, who at first disapproved of the match—for Zenobia never lined her male friends to marry—was sore would one day be Prime Minister of Eng

land.

Mrs. Ferrars was of the same opinion as Zenobia, for she was ambitious, and the dream was captivating. And Mrs. Ferrars soon gained Zenobia's good graces, for she had many charms, and though haughty to the multitude, was a first-rate flatterer. Zenobia liked flattery, and always said she did. Mr. Under-Secretary Ferrars took a mansion in Hill-street^ and fur nished it with befitting splendour. His dinners were celebrated, and Mrs. Ferrars gave suppers after the opera. The equipages of Mrs. Ferrars were distinguished, and they had a large retinue of servants. They bad only two children, and they were twins—a brother and sister—who were brought up like the children of Princes. Partly for them, and partly because a Minister should- have a Tusculum, the Ferrars soon en gaged a magnificent villa at Wimbleton, which had the advantage of admirable stables con venient, as Mrs. Ferrars was fond of horses, and liked the children too, with their fanoy ponies to be early accustomed to riding. All this occa sioned expenditure, bnt old Mr. Ferrars made his son a liberal allowance, and young Mrs. Ferrars was an heiress, or the world thought so, which is nearly the same, and then, too, young Mr. Ferrars was a rising man in office, and who would always be in office for the rest of his life; at least Zenobia said so, because he was on the right eide, and the Whigs were nowhere, and never would be anywhere, which was quite right, as they had wished to make us the slaves of Bonaparte.

When the KiDg, after much hesitation, sent for Mr. Canning,' on the resignation of Lord. Liverpool, the Zenobian theory seemed a little at fault, and William Ferrars absolutely out of cffice had more than one misgiving; but after some months of doubt and anxiety, it seemed after all the great lady was right. The unex pected disappearance of Mr. Canning from the scene, followed by the transient and embar rassed phantom of Lord Goderich, seemed to vindicate an inexorable destiny that England should be rnled by the most eminent men of the age, and the most illnBtrions of her citizens. William Ferrars, nnder the inspiration of Zenobia, had thrown in his fortunes with the Duke, and after nine months of disquietude found his due reward. In the January that succeeded the August conversation iu St. James'-street with Sidney Wilton, William Ferrars was sworn of the Privy Oounoil, and held high office on the verge of the Cabinet.

Mr. Ferrars had a dinner party] in Hill-street on the day he had returned from Windsor with the seals of his new office. The catastrophe of the Goderich Cabinet, almost on the eve of the meeting of Parliament, had been so sudden that not anticipating such a state of affairs, Ferrars, among his other guests, had invited Sidney Wilton. He wea rather regretting this when, as hiB' carriage stopped at his own door, he observed that very gentleman on his threshold. Wilton greeted him warmly, and congratu lated him on his promotion. " I do so at once," he added, " because I shall not have the oppor tunity this evening. I was calling here in the hope of seeing Mrs. Ferrars, and asking her to excuse me from beiDg your guest to-day."

" Well, it is rather awkward," said Ferrars, " but I could have no idea of this when you were so kind as to say you would come."

" Ob, nothing of that sort," said Sidney. " I am ont and you are in, and I hope you may be in for a long long time. I daresay it may bs so, and the Duke is the man of the age, as you always said be was. I hope your being in office is not to deprive me of your pleasant dinners ; it would be too bad to lose my place both at

Whitehall and in Hill-street."'

"I trust that will never happen, my dear fellow; but to-day I thought it might be em barrassing."

" Hot at all; I could endure without winoing even the triumphant glance of Zenobia. The fact is, I have some business of the most pressing nature which has suddenly arisen, and which demands my immediate attention."

Ferrars expressed his regret, though in fact he was greatly relieved, and they parted.

Zeuobia did dine with the William Ferrars to-day, and her handsome husband came with her, a Knight of the Garter, and just appointed to a high office in the Household by the new Government. Even the excitement of the hour did not disturb his indigenous repose. It was a dignified serenity, quite natural and quite compatible with easy and even cordial manners, and an address always considerate, even when not sympathetic. He was not a loud or a long talker, but bis terse remarks were full of taste, BEd a just appreciation of things. If they were sometimes trenchant, the blade Was of a fine temper. Old Mr. Ferrars was there, and the Viscountess Edgware. His hair had become quite silvered, and his cheeks rosy as a December apple. His hazel eyes twinkled with satisfac tion as he remember* d the family bad now pro duced two Privy Councillors. Lord Pomeroy was there, the great lord who had returned William Ferrars to Parliament, a little man, quiet, shy, rather insignificant in appearance, but who obeerved every body and everything; a con scientious man, who was always doing good in silence and secresy, andjdenounced as a borough monger, had never sold a seat in his life, and was always looking ont for men of able cha racter to introduce them to public affairs. It was not a formal party, but had grown np in great degree out of the circumstances of the moment. There were more men than women, and all men in office or devoted supporters of the new Ministry.

Mrs. Ferrars, without being a regular beauty, had a voluptuous face and form. Her com plexion was brilliant, with large and long-lashed eyes of bine. Her mouth was certainly too large, but the ponting richness of her lips and the splendour of her teeth baffled oriticism. She was a woman who was always gorgeously or fan tastically attired.

" I can never understand," would sometimes observe Zenobia's "husband to his brilliant eponse, "how affairs are carried on in- this world. Now we have, my dear, fifty thousand per annum; and I do not see how Ferrars can have much more than five, and yet he lives much as we do, perhaps better. I know Gibson showed me a horse last week that I very much wanted, bnt I wonld not give him two hundred guineas for it. I called there to-day to look after it again, for it wonld have snited me exactly; bnt I was told I was too late, and it

was sold to Mrs. Ferrars."

"My dear, you know I do not understand money matters," Zenobia said in reply. " I never could; but yon should remember that old Ferrars must be very rich, and that William Ferrars is the moBt rising man of the day, and is snre to be in the Cabinet before he is forty."

Everybody had an appetite for dinner to-day, and the dinner was worthy of the appetites. Zenobia's husband declared to himself that he never dined eo well, though he gave his chef £500 a year, and old Lord Pomeroy, who had not yet admitted French wines to his.'own table, seemed qnite abashed with the number of his wineglasses and their various colours; and. as he tasted one succulent dish after another, felt a proud satisfaction in having introduced to public life so distinguished a man as William

Ferrars.

With the dessert, not without some cere* mony, were introduced the two moat remark able guests of the entertainment, and these were the twins; children of singular beauty, and dressed, if possible, more fancifully and bril liantly than their mamma. They resembled each other, and had the same brilliant com plexions, rich chesnnt hair, delicately arch id brows and dark bine eyes. Though only eight years of age, a most unchildlike self-possession distinguished them. The expression of their countenances was haughty disdainful, and super cilious. Their beautiful features seemed quite unimpassioned, and they moved as it'they ex pected everything to yield to them. The girl, whose long ringlets were braided with pearls, was ushered to a seat next to her father, and, like her brother, who was placed by Mrs. Ferrers, was soon engaged in negligently tasting delicacies, while she seemed apparently un consoions of any one being present, except when she replied to those who addressed her with a stare and a haughty monosyllable. The boy, in a black velvet jacket with large Spanish buttons of silver filagree, a shirt of lace, and a waistcoat of white satiu, replied with reserve, but some condescension, to _ the good-natured hut half-hnmorons en quiries of the husband of Zenobia.

"And when do you go to school?" asked His lordship in a kind voice, and with a laughing

eye.

" I shall go to Eton in two years," replied the child without the slightest emotion, and not withdrawing his attention from the grapes he was tasting or even looking at his enquirer, " and then I shall go to Ohristchurcb, and then I shall go into Parliament."

" Myra," said an intimate of the family, a handsome Private Secretary of Mr. Ferrare, to the daughter of the house, as he supplied her plate with some choicest delicacies, "I hope you have not forgotten your engagement to me which yon made at Wimbledon two years ago?"

"What engagement?" ehe haughtily en quired.

« To marry me."

" I should not think of marrying any one who was not in the House of Lords," she re plied, and she shot at him a glance of con tempt.

The ladies rose. As they were ascending the stairs, one of them said to Mrs. Ferrars," your son's name is very pretty, but it is very un common— ib it not ?"

" 'Tis a family name. The first Oarey who bore it was a courtier of Charles the First, and we have never since been without it. William wanted onr boy to be christened Pomeroy, bnt I was always resolved, if I ever had a son, that he should be named Endxhion "