Chapter 160141669

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Chapter NumberXX
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160141669
Full Date1881-02-26
Page Number44
Corrections0
Word Count2909
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleEndymion
article text

THE NOVELIST.

ENDYMION.*

[Bj the Bight Hon. the Ea.bl of Beicomsfibld.]

CHAPTER XX.

Mr. Rodney would have accompanied Endy xnion to (Somerset House under any circum etatces, but it so happened that he had reasons < of bis own lor a visit to that celebrated building. He had occasion to see a gentleman who was -stationed there. " Not," as he added to Endy mion, " that I' know many here, but at the 'Treasury and in Downing-street 1 have several acquaintances."

They separated at the door in the ereat quad* rsngle which led to the department to which 'Endymion was attached, and he contrived in - due time to deliver to a messenger a letter

addressed to his future chief. He was kept - some time in a gloomy and almost unfurnished

waiting-room, and his thoughts in a desponding mood were gathering round the dear ones who were distant, when he was summoned, and, fol . lowing the messenger down a passage, was ' ushered into a lively apartment on whioh the

sun was shining, and which, with its well-lined book-shelves, and table covered with papers, and blight noisy clock, and general air of habitation and business, contrasted favourably with the room he had just quitted. A good-natured looking manjheld out his hand and welcomed him ' cordially ,andsaid at once," Iserved, Mr.Ferrars,

under, your grandfather at the Treasury, and I am glad to see you here." Then he spoke of the duties which Endymion would have at pre sent to discharge. His labours at first would be somewhat mechanical; they would require - only correctness and diligence; but the office was a large one, and promotion not only sure, but sometimes rapid, and as he was so young, . be might with attention count on attaining, while yet in the prime of life, a future of very responsible duties and of no inconsiderable emolument. And while he was speaking he : rang the bell and commanded the attendance of

a clerk, under whose care Endymion was spe cially placed. This was a young man of plea sant address, who invited Endymion with kind ness to accompany him, and leading him through several chambers, some capacious, and all full of - clerks seated on high stools and writing at

desks, finally ushered him into a smaller chamber where there were not above sir or eight at work, and where there was a vacant seat. ' " This is your place," he said, " and now I will

introduce you to your future oomrades. This is - Mr. Jawett, the greatest Radioal of the age, and

who, when he is President of the Republic, will, . I hope, do a job for his friends here. This is Mr. St. Barbe, who, when the public taste has . improved, will be the most popular author of

the day. In the meantime he will give you a copy of his novel, which has not sold as it ought to have done, and in which we say he has • quizzed all his friends. This is Mr. Seymour Hicks, who as you must perceive, is a man of fashion." And so he went on, with what was - evidently accustomed raillery. All laughed, and

all said something courteous to Endymion, and ' then after a few minutes they resumed their - tasks, Endymion's work being to copy long lists - of figures, and routine documents of public

accounts.

In the meantime, Mr. St. Barbe was busy in - drawing up a public document of a different

but important character, and whioh was con ceived something in this fashion

" We, the undersigned, highly approving of the personal appearance and manners of our new - colleague, are unanimously of opinion that be ; should be invited to join our symposium to-day

-at the immortal Joe's."

This was quietly passed round and signed by all present, and then given to Mr. Trenohard, ? who, all nnconseionsly to the copying Endymion, - wrote upon it, like a Minister of State, ' *' Approved," with his initial.

Joe's, more technically known as " The Bine Posts," was a celebrated chop-house in Naseby street, a large, low-ceilinged, wainscoted room, with the floor strewn with sawdust, and a : hissing kitchen in the centre, and fitted up with

what were called boxes, these being of varions - sizes, and suitable to the number of guests ' requiring them. About this time the fashion - able coffee-houses, George's and the Piazza, and - even the coffee-rooms of Stevens' or Long's, had

begun to feel the injurious competitions of the . new Olubs that of late years had been esta >- blithed; but these, after all, were limited, and, • comparatively speaking, exclusive societies. " Their influence had not touched the chop-houses, ? and it required another quarter of a cento ry

before their cheerful and hospitable roofs and ' the old taverns of London, so full, it ever : seemed, of merriment and wisdom, yielded to

the gradually increasing but irresistible influ - ence of those innumerable associations, whioh,

under classic names, or affecting to be the junior branches of celebrated confederacies, have since secured to the million, at cost price, all the delicacies of the season, and substituted for the zealous energy of immortal Joes the inexorable but frigid discipline of managing

-committees.

" Ton are our guest to-day," said Mr. '? Trenchard to Endymion. " Do not be embar

rassed. It is a custom with us, but not a ruinous one. We dine off the joint, but the meat is first-rate, and you have as much as you - like, and our tipple is half-and-half. Perhaps .you do not know it. Let me drink to your

health."

They ate most heartily; but when their well ? earned meal was dispatched, their conversation,

assisted by a moderate portion of some cele brated toddy, became animated, various, and interesting. Endymion was highly amused; but, being a stranger and the youngest present, - his silence was not unbecoming, and his manner

indicated that it was not occasioned by want of . sympathy. The talk was very political. They were all what are called Liberals, having all of them received their appointments since the - catastrophe of 1830; but the shades in the

colour of their opinions were varions and strong. Jawett was nncomprcmising; ruthlessly logical, bis principles beiDg clear, he was for what he called, "carrying them out" to their just con clusions. Trenchard, on the contrary, thought every thing ought to be compromise, and that a public man ceased to be practical the moment he was logical. St. Barbe believed that litera ture and the arts, and intellect generally, had as little to hope for from one party as from the other; while Seymour Hicks was of opinion that the Tories never would rally, owing to their deficiency in social influences. Seymour Hicks sometimes got an invitation to a Ministerial soirde.

The vote of the Honse of Commons in favour «[ an appropriation of the earplug revenues of the Irish Church to the purposes of secular 'education—a vote which had just changed the Government and expelled the Tories—was much discussed. Jawett denounced it as a miserable eubterfuge, but with a mildness of manner and a mincing expression, which amusingly con trasted with the violence of his principles and the strength of his language.

" The whole of the revenues of the Protestant Church should be at once appropriated to secular «ducation, or to some other purposes of general utility," he said. " And it must come to this.'

* The right ol publishing " Endymion" has been , purchased by the Proprietors of the Adelaide Observer.

Trenchard thought the Ministry bed gone as far in this mailer as they well could, and Sey mour Hicks remarked that any Government which systematically attacked the Church would lave "society" against it. Bndyniion, who felt very nervous, but who on Ohuroh questions had strong convictions, ventured to ask why the Church should be deprived of its property.

" In the case of Ireland," replied Jawett, quite in a tone of conciliatory condescension, " because it does not fulfil the purpose for which it was endowed. It has got the property of the nation, and it is not the Church of the people. But I go further than that. I would disendow every Church. They are not productive insti tutions. There is no reason why they should exist. There is no use in them."

" No use in the Church!" said Eodymion, reddeniDg; but Mr. Trenchard, who had tact, here interfered, and eaid, " I told you our friend Jawett was a great judical; but he is in a minority among us on these mattirs. Every body, however, says what he likes at Joe's."

Then they talked of theatres, and critically discutsed the articles in the daily papers and the last new book, and there was much discus sion respecting a contemplated subsciption boat; but still, in general, it was remarkable how they relapsed into their favourite subject—specula tion npon men in office, both permanent and Par liamentary, upon their characters and capacity, their habits and tempers. One was a good administrator, another did nothing; one had no detail, another too much; one was a sorew, another a spendthrift; this man could make a set speech, but could not reply; his rival, capital at a reply but clnmsy in a formal oration.

At this time London was a very dull city, instead of being, as it is now, a very amusing one. Probably there never was a city in the world, with so vast a population, which was so melan choly. The aristocracy, probably, have always found amusements adapted to the manners of the time and the age in which they lived The middle classes, half a century ago, had little distraction from their monotonous toil and melancholy anxieties, except, perhaps, what they found in religious and philanthropic societies. Their general life mast have been very dull. Some traditionary merriment always lingered among the working classes of England. Both in town and country they had always their games and fairs and junketting parties, which have developed into excursion trains and colossal picnics. But of all classes of the community, in the days of onr fathers, there was none so unfortunate in respect of public amusements as the bachelors about town. There were, one might almost say, only two theatres, and they so huge, that it was diffioult te see or hear in either. Their monopolies, no longer redeemed by the stately genius of the Rembles, the pathos of Hiss O'Neill, or the fiery passion of Sean, were already menaced, and were soon about to fall; but the orowd of diminutive but sparkling substitutes, which have since taken their plase, had not yet appeared, and half-price at Drury lane or Covent Garden was a drekry distraotion after a morning of desk-work. There were no Alhambrae then, and no Gremornes, no Palaces of Crystal in terraced gardens, no casinos, no music balls, no aquaris, no promenade concerts. Evans' existed, but not in the fulness of its modern development; and the most popular place of resort was the barbarous conviviality of

the Older Cellar.

Mr. Trenohard had paid the bill, oollected his quotas and rewarded the waiter, and then, as they all rose, said to Endymion, -We tue going to the. Divan. Do you smoke ?"

Endymion shook bis head; bnt Trenohard added, " Well, you will some day; bat you had better come with us. Ton need not smoke; you can order a cap of coffee, and then you may read all the newspapers and magazines. It

is a nice lounge."

Bo, emerging from Naseby-street into the Strand, they soon entered a tobacconist's shop, and passing through it were admitted into a eapaciouB saloon, well lit and fitted up with low, broad sofas, fixed against the walls, and on' which were seated or reclining many persons, chiefly smoking cigars, but some few practising with the hookah and other oriental modes. In the centre of the room was a table covered with newspapers and publications of that class. The companions from Joe's became separated after their entrance, and St. Bar be, addressing Endy mion, said, "I am not inclined to smoke to-day. I We will order some coffee, and you find some

amusement in this;" and he placed in his hands

a number ot " scaramouch."

" I hope you will like your new life," eaid St. Barbe, throwing down a review on the divan, and leaning back sipping bis coffee. "One thing may be eaid in favour of it; you will work with a body of as true-hearted comrades as ever existed. They are always ready to assist one. Thorough good-natured fellows, that I will say for them. I suppose it is adversity," he con tinued, "that develops the kindly qualities of our nature. I believe the sense of a common degradation has a tendency to make the de graded amiable-at least among themselves. I am told it is found so in the plantations in

slave-gangs."

" But I hope we are not a slave-gang, said

Endymion.

'• It is horrible to think of gentlemen, and men of education, and perhaps first-rate talents —who knows ?—reduced to our straits," said 8t. Barbe. " I do not follow Jawett in all his views, for I hate political economy, and never could understand it; and he gives it to you pure end simple, eh? eh?—but, I say, it is some thing awful to think of the incomes that some men ere making, who could no more write an article in ' Scaramouch,' thBn fly." _

" But our incomes may improve," eaid En dymion. "I wag told to-day that promotion

was even rapid in onr office."

" Our incomes may improve when we are bent and grey," eaid St. Barbe, " and we may even retire on a pension about as good as a nobleman leaves to bis valet. Oh, it is a horrid world ! Your father is a Privy Councillor, is

not he ?"' ;

" Yes, and so wsb my grandfather; bnt I do not think I shall ever be one."

" It is a great thing to have a father a Privy Councillor," said St. Barbe, with a glance of envy. " If I were the son of a Privy Coun cillor, those demons. Shuffle and Screw, would give me £500 for my novel, which now they put in their beastly magazine, and print in small type, and do not pay me so much as a powdered flunkey has in St. James's Square. I agree with Jawett: the whole thing is rotten."

" Mr. Jawett seems to have very Btrange opinions," said Endymion. " I did not like to hear what he said at dinner about the Church, but Mr Trenchard turned the conversation, and I thought it best to let it pass."

" Trenchard is a sensible man, and a good fellow," said St. Barbe; " you like him ?"

" I find him kind."

" Do you know," said St. Birbe, in a whisper, and with a distressed and almost vindictive ex pression of countenance," that man may come any day into four thousand a year. There is only one life between him and the present owner. I believe it is a good life," he added, in a more cheerful voice, " but still it might happen. Is it not horrible ? Four thousand a year! Trenchard with four thousand a year, and we receiving little more than the pay of a butler." .

" Well, I wish, for his sake, he might have it,

said EndymioD, " though I might lose a kind

, friend."

"Look at Seymour Hicks," said St.Barbe; " he has smoked his cigar, and he is going. He never remains. He is going to a party, I'll be bonnd. That fellow gets about in a most extra ordinary manner. Is it not disgusting? I doubt whether he is ashed mnoh to dinner

thongb, or I think we should have heard of it. Nevertheless, Trenchard said the other day that Hicks had dined with Lord Oinque-Ports. I can hardly believe it; it would be too. disgust ing. No lord ever asked me to dinner. But the aristocracy of this country are doomedI"

" Mr. Hicks," said-Endymion, " probably lays himself out for society."

" I suppose you will," said St. Barbe, with a scrutinising air. "I should if I were the son of a Privy Councillor. Hicks is nothing; his father kept a stable-yard and his mother was an aotress. We have had several dignitaries of the Church in my family and one admiral. And yet Hicks dines with Lord Cinque-Ports! It is positively revolting! But the things he doeB to get asked!—sings, rants, conjures, ventrilo quises, mimics, stands on his head. His great performance is a Parliamentary Debate. We will make him do it for you. And yet with all this a dull dog—a very dull dog, Sir. He wrote for " Scaramouch' some little time, but they ean stand it no more. Between you and me, he has had notice to quit. That I know; and he will probably get the letter when he goes home from his party to-night. So much for success in society ! I shall now say good night to you."