Chapter 2208989

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Chapter NumberPreliminary - IX
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2208989
Full Date1832-10-16
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count3751
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Newspaper TitleThe Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842)
Trove TitleHereditary Honours: A Tale of Love and Mystery
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HEREDITARY HONOURS.

" A TAtE OF I.OVR AND MYSTERY.

Piont the New Monthly Magasine.

PRELIMINAR Y CHAPTER.

" Si tu es pot <'o chambre, tant pis por toi."

VotTAins.

Hereditary honours are, certainly, the .most rational of human devices. It was an excellent idea to suppose that a man propagated his -virtues to the most distant Eosterity. Few notions have succoeded

etter in keeping tho world in order. In fact, it was the best method of granting to tho multitude the inestimable gift of a perpetuity of dopendance. Had the idea stopped willi the King or Chief Magis- trate, it would not have been half so beautiful, or a hundredth part so useful. So far, a reason for the custom is obvious to the most superficial. Hereditary dis- tinction, it is said, preserves a people from the wars and tumults that might arise from the contests of elective dis- tinction. Very well-1 i)o not dispute this assertion-it is plausible. But Dukes and Earls?-if their honours were not Jiereditary, would there be contests about them? Tho world suffers itself to be disturbed by individuals wishing to be Kings, but it would not be so complaisant to every man that wished to be a Lord. *' On ne disarrange pas tout le monde pour sipeu de chose," we should not have wars and discords, as the seed of that sort of ambition. We do not, then, grant He- reditary Honours to these gentry as the purchase of peace-we do not make them os a bargain, but bestow them as a gra- tuity. Our reasons, therefore, for this generosity are far deeper than those which make us governed by King Log to-day, because, yesterday, we were go- verned by his excellent father, King 'Stork-so much deeper, that, to plain men, they are perfectly invisible. But a little reflection teaches us the utility of the practice. Hereditary superiority to the few, necessarily produces hereditary inferiority to the many- and it makes the herd contented with being legisla- tively and decorously bullied by a sort of prescriptive habit. Messieurs the Eels are used to be skinned-and the custom reconciles them to the hereditary privi- lege of Monseigneurs the Cooks.

CHAPTER TI.

THE MEETING.

" And it fell upon a day."

There is a certain country, not very far "distant from our own : in a certain small town, closo lo the metropolis of this coun- try, there once lived a certain young lady, of the name of Laura. She was the daughter and sole heiress of an ho- nest gentleman-an attorney-at-law -and was particularly addicted to novels and falling in love. One day she was walking in the woods, in a pensive man- ner, observing how affectionate the little birds were to each other, and thinking what a blessing it was to have an agree- able lover-when, leaning against an elm tree, she perceived a young man, ha bited in a most handsome dress, that fleemed a little too large for him, and of that peculiar complexion-half white, half yellow-which custon has dedicated .to romance. He wore his long, dark locks sweeping over his forehead-and fixing his eyes intently on the ground, he

muttered thus to himself

" Singular destiny !-fearful thought ! Shall I resist it ?-shall I fly ? No! that were unworthy of the name 1 bear! T?or four hundred years my forefathers have enjoyed their honours-not a break in their honours-not a break in their lineage-shall I be the first to forfeit

this hereditary distinction ? Away the

thought!" 5

The young gentleman walked haugh- tily from the tree, and just before him he saw Miss Laura, fixing her delighted eyes upon his countenance, and pleasing herself with the thought that she saw be- fore her an Fail Marshal, or a Falconer at the least. The young gentleman stood still, as also did the young lady-the young gentleman stared, the young lady sighed. " Fair creature !" quoth the youth, throwing out his arm, but in some- what a uolent and abrupt manner, as if rather striking a blow than attempting a

courteous gesture.

Full of the becoming terror of a dam- sel of Romance, Laura drew herfelf up,

and uttered a little scream.

" "What !" said the youth, mournfully, " do you, too, fear me ?"

Laura was affected almost to tears the youth took her hand.

I shall not pursue this interview far- ther-the young people were in love at first sight-a curious event, that has hap- pened to all of us in our day, but which we never believe happens to other people. What man allows another man to have had any bonnes fortunes ? Yet, when we see how the saloons of the theatres are ulled by what must once have been bonnes foi tunes, the honour must be confessed io be of rather a vulgar description ! But what am I doing? Not implying a .word against the virtue of Miss Laura. No, the attachment between her and the unknown was of the most Platonic des- cription. " They met again and oft ;" and oh, how devotedly Laura loved the young cavalier! She was passionately fond of Rank :-it seldom happens in the novels liked by young ladies that a lover is permitted to be of less rank than a peer's son-smaller people are only bought in to he laughed at-odd characters white stockinged quidnuncs-fathers who aie to be cheated-brothers to be insulted : in short, the great majority of human creatures are Russel-squared into a be- coming degree of ludricous insignificance. Accordingly, to Miss Laura, a lover must necessarily be nothing of a Calicot-and she reflected with indescribable rapture on the certainty of having a gallant whose forefathers had enjoyed something four'hundred years in the family ! But what was that something ? She was cu

nous-she interrogated her lover as to his name and rank. He changed co- lour-he bit his lip-he thrust both hands into his breeches-pockets. " 1 cannot tell you what I am," said he : " No ! charming L .ura, forgive me-ono day you will know all."

" Can he be the eldest son ?" said Laura lo horsolf. After all, this mystery was very delightful. She introduced the young gentleman to her father.

" Ah !" qnoth the former, squeezing the Attorney's hand, " your family have been good friends to mine."

" How !" cried the Attorney-" Are wc then acquainted ! May I crave your

name, Sir?"

The lover looked confused-he mum- bled out some excuse-just at present, he had reasons for wishing it concealed. Our unknown had a long military nose he looked like a man who might have

shot another in a duel.

" Aha !" said the Attorney winking ; and lowering his voico-" I smell you Sir-you have killed your man-eh!"

" Ha!" cried the stranger; and slapp- ing his forehead wildly, he rushed out of

the room.

CHAPTER III.

THE LAWVER MATCI1FD.

" But let us change the theme."-MAIUVOFAI.IF.RO.

It was now clear:-the stranger had evidently been a brave transgressor of the law; perhaps an assassin, certainly a victorious single combater. This re- doubled in Laura's bosom the interest she had conceived for him. Thero is nothing renders a young lady more ardent in her attachment than the supposition that her lover has committed some enormous crime. Her father thought he might make a good thing out of his new acquaintance. He resolved to find out if he was rich

if rich, he could marry him to his daugh- ter; if poor, ho might as well inform against him, and get the reward. An attorney is a bow-a crooked thing with two strings to it. It was in the wood that the lawyer met the stranger. The stran- ger was examining a tree. " Strong, strong," muttered he ; " yes, it is worth

buying."

"Aro you a judge of trees, Sir?" quoth the attorney.

" Hum-yes, of a peculiar sort of

tree."

" Have you much timber of your

own?"

" A great deal," replied the stranger

coolly.

" Of the best kind !"

" It is generally used for scaffolding." " Oh, good deal !" The lawyer paused. " You cannot," said ho archly, '. you cannot conceal yourself; your rank is sufficiently apparent."

" Good Heavens !"

" Yes, my daughter says she heard you boasting of your hereditary distinc- tions-four hundred years it has existed in your family."

" It has indeed !"

" And does the property-the cash part f the business go with i%1"

" Yes ! the Government provide for

us."

" Oh, a pension !-hereditary too ?" " You say it."

" Ah, "tis the way with you great fa- milies," said the lawyer to himself, " always quartered on the public."

" What's that he mutters about quar-

tered ! inly exclaimed the stranger with

emotion.

" It is from our taxes that their sup- port is drawn," continued the lawyer.

" Drawn, Sir!*' cried the stranger

aloud.

" And if it be not the best way of living, hang me!" concluded the lawyer.

.' You," faltered the stranger, clasp- ing his bands: "horrible supposition! ! !"

CHAPTER IV.

ENLIGHTENED SEVTtMENTS.

" Joy was not always absent from his face,

But o'er it in such scenes would steal with tranquil

grace."-CHILDE HAKOLD.

" You will really marry me then, beautiful Laura," said the stranger kneeling on his pocket-handkerchief.

Laura blushed. " You are so-so bewitching-and-and you will always

love me-and you will tell me who you

are."

" After our marriage, yes,"-said the stranger somewhat discomposed.

" No ! now-now," - cried Laura, coaxingly.

He was silent.

" Come, I will get it out of you, You

are an eldest son."

" Indeed I am," sighed the stranger. " You have an hereditary title?" "Alas! yeB!"

" It descends to you ?"

" It does !-"

\ You have a-a-the means to sup-

port it?"

" Assuredly."

" Convince me of that," said the law yer, who had been listening unobserved, " and my daughter is yours-let you

have killed your man a hundred times

over !"

" Wonderful liberality 1" cried the stranger, enthusiastically, and throwing himself at the lawyer's feet.

CHAPTER V.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL WIDENCR.

" The soul wears out her clothes."-PLATO.-Ap-

parently not!

The stranger wore a splendid suit of clothes. The mystery about him at- tracted the admiration and marvel of the people at the little inn at which he had taken up his lodging. They were talking about him in the kitchen one morning when the boots was brushing his coat. A tailor from the capital who was travelling to his country seat, came into the kitchen to ask why his breakfast was not ready.

" It is a beautiful coat !" cried the boots, holding it up. '

"What a cut!" cried the chamber-

maid.

" It is lined with white silk," said the ty scullion, and she placed her thumb on ph the skirt?. J »11

to

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" Hn r» said the tailor,-" whet do I. see! it is the coat of the Marquis de T6to Perdu : I made it myself."

" It is out-it is out! cried tho waiter. " The gentleman isa Marquis. Gemini, how pleased Miss Laura will be !"

" What's that, Sir? so the strange gentleman is really the Marquis do Tote Perdu!" asked the landlandy. *' John, take the fresh eggs to his Lordship."

"Impossible!" said the tailor, who had fixed on the fresh egg9 for himself. " Impossible!" anti while ho laid his hand on the egg-stand, he lifted up his eyes to heaven. " Impossible ! the Mar- quis has been hanged this twelvemonth !"

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of

ir er

CHAPTER VI.

TUB DEPARTURE.

" They have thoir exits and their entrañóos,

And eaoh roan in his timo plays many parta, Of which the end is death."-SIIAKSPEARE.

" Good heavens! how strange," said the lawyer, as he dismissed the landlord of the little inn. " I am very much obliged to you-only think-I was just going to marry my daughter to a gentle- man who had been hanged !"

Laura burst into tears. "What if he should be a Vampire !" said she : " it is very odd that a man should live twelve months after hanging."

Meanwhile the stranger descended the stairs to his parlour ; a group of idlers in the passage gave hastily way on both sides. Nay, the housemaid, whom he

was about, as usual, to chuck under the , chin, uttered a loud shriek and fell into

a swoon.

" The Devil !" said the stranger,

glancing suspiciously round ; " am I

known then ?"

" Known ! yes, you are known !" cried the boots. " Tho Marquis de Tête Perdu." " Sacre bleu!" said the stranger, flinging into the parlour in a violent rage. He locked the door. He walked up and down with uneven strides. " Curse on these painful distintions these hereditary customs!" cried he ve- hemently, " they are the poison of my ex- istence. I shall lose Laura; I shall lose her fortune ; I am discovered. No, not yet ; I will fly to her, before the boots spreads the intelligence. I will force her to go off with me - go off!-how many people have I forced to go off before !"

To avoid the people in the passage, the stranger dropped from the window. He hastened to the lawyer's house-he found Miss Laura in the garden-sho was cry- ing violently, and had forgotten her pocket-handkerchief; the stranger offered her his own. Her ejes fell on a Marquis's coronet, worked in the corner, with the

initials " T. P."

" Ah ! it is too true, then," said she, sobbing ; " the-tho Marquis de Tête

Perdu-" Her voice was choked by her

emotion.

'. Damnation ! what-what of him ?"

With great difficulty Laura sobbed out the word " II a-ng-e-d !"

" It is all up with me !" said the stranger, with a terrible grimace, and he disappeared.

"Oh! he is certainly a Vampire," wept the unfortunate Laura ; " at all events, after having been hanged for twelve months, he cannot' be worth much

as a husband!"

CHAPTER VII.

7HE PHILOSOPHER.

" The tendency of tbe age is against all hereditary

demarcations."-AI. ROYER VU GOLLARD.

It was a melancoly dreary day, and about an hour after the above interview, it began to rain cats and dogs. The mys- terious stranger was walking on the high road that led from the country town ; he hoped to catch one of the public vehicles that passed that way towards the capital, he buttoned up the fatal coat, and took particular care of the silk skirts. " In vain," said he bitterly, " is all this fine- ry ; in vain have I attempted to redeem my lot. Fate pursues me everywhere. Damn it! the silk will be all spotted ; I may not get another such a coat soon; seldo that a man of similar rank," here the rain set full in his teeth and drowned the rest of his soliloquy. He began to look round for a shelter, when suddenly he beheld a pretty little inn, standing by the road-side : he quickened his pace, and was presently in the traveller's room dry- ing himself by the fire. There was a bald gentleman, past his grand climacte- ric, sitting at a little table by the window, and reading "Glumenborchiusisiculorum on the propriety of living in a parallelo- gram, and moving only in a right angle." Absorbed his own. griefs, the stranger did not notice his companion-he continued to dry his shirt sleeves, and mutter to himself. " Ah!" said he, " no love for me ; never shall I marry some sweet, ami- able, rich young lady ; the social distinc- tions confine me to myself. Odius law of primogeniture ! hateful privileges of hereditary descent !"

; The bald gentleman, who was a great 'philosopher, and had himself written a large book in which he had clearly proved that " Man was not a Monkey," started up in delight at these expressions-"Sir," said he, warmly, holding out his hand to the stranger, " your sentiments do credit to your understanding-you are one of the enlightened few whoseopinions precede the age. Hereditary distinctions ! they are in- deed one of the curses of civilization."

" You speak truly, venerable Sir," said the stranger sighing.

" Doubtless," continued the sage, " you are some younger son derived of your just

rights by the absurd monopoly of an elder

brother.

" No, I am myself the elder son ; I my- self exercise, and therefore deplore, that

monopoly."

" Noble young man !-what generosi- ty !-see what it is to be wise !" said the philosopher:" knowledge will not even

»How us to be selfish."

The stranger kindled into enthusiasm, and into eloquence. " What," said he, " what is so iniquitous as these prc-ordi nations of our fate against our will ? We are born to a certain line-we are accom- plished to that lincalone-our duty is con- fined to a certainroutincof execution- we are mewed up like owls in a small con- ventual circle of gloom-are paid suflu i cnt for what we perform-we ha\c-part of our life is a blank to us. If we stir abroad into more wide and common inter- course with mankind, we arc perpetually reminded that a stamp is upon us-we must not marry as we please-we can ne- ver escape from ourselves-"

" And," pursued the philosopher, who liked to talk himself as well as to listen ; " and while so unpleasant to yourself are these dangerous and hateful heroditary distinctions, what mischiefs do they not produce to your fellow crea- tures !-condemned to poverty, they are condemned to the consequonccs of po- verty;-ignorance and sin-they offend, and you hang them !"

" Hang-them !-Ah !" the benevo- lent stranger covered his face with his

hands.

" What philanthropic tenderness !" said the philosopher; *. Pardon me, Sir, [ must introduce myself: you may have heard of me ; I am the author Slattere nobigioso; you, so enlightened, are pro- bably au author yourself; perhaps you have turned your attention to Morals, and are acquainted with the true nature

of crime."

" Ay," groaned the stranger, " I am acquainted with its end."

" Or perhaps biography, the great teacher of practical truths, made you first learn to think. For my part 1 amuse myself even now by taking the lives of some of the most remarkable of my contemporaries."

" Indeed !" said the stranger with in- expressible dignity, and then putting on his hat with an air, he stalked out of the room, saying over his left shoulder, in a voice of conscious pride-" And I, Sir,

have done the same !"

CHAPTER VIII.

THE JEAI0U8Y.

" She wrongs his thoughts."-THP Cons*tn.

" Ah, miss !" said the tailor, as lie passed through the country-town on a high trotting horse, and met the unfortu- nate Laura walking homeward with " The Sorrows of Werter" in her hand : " Ah ! so the spark has carried himself off. How could you be so taken in ? What ! marry a-"

.' I know what you would say," inter- rupted Laura heartily, and 1 beg you

will bo silent. You know him then.

" Ay, hy sight. I have seen him on trying occasions, sure enough. But you will meet him no more, I guess : he is wanted in town to-morrow morning."

" Gracious Heaven ! for what?" said Laura, thinking the Marquis de Tête Perdu was again apprehended for not having been hanged sufficiently.

" Why-be prepared-Miss, ho ia go- ing to tie tho noose."

'* Wretch ! perfidious wretch !" shriek- ed Laura, as her fear now changed into jealousy ; " do you mean that he is go- ing to lead enother to the attar 1"

" Exactly, Miss ?" said the tailor, and off went his high trotting horse,

CHAPTER IX.

THE DENOl'BMENT.

" It is not for myself I do these things, but for my

country."

PLUTARCH'S AMIOIIISM WHPN IV Pt ACE. Common Aphorism among all Placemen.

" Poor cousin J eck !" said the Law- yer, as he was eating his breakfast ; " he has been playing very naughty pranks, to be sure ; but he is our cousin, never- theless. We should pay him all possible respect. Come, girl, get on your bon- net ; you may as well come with me ; it will divert your mind."

" La! papa; but, to be sure, there will he a great crowd. It is a most affect- ing sight; and, after all, I think a drive may do me good."

" That's right, girl," said the father; and they were soon on the road to the capital. They arrived at an open space, but filled with speclators'; they beheld a platform, raised above the heads of the people ; Laura grew faint with anxiety and heat. She heard the spectators talk- ing to each other. .' They say," ob- served one, " that it is with great diffi- culty he was persuaded to the calling it has been four hundred years in the fa- mily-he took himself away, but came back when he heard the fees were aug-

mented-you knows he gets all the

clothes."

" There's poor cousin Jack," quoth the Altornoy: " how pale ho is !"

Laura looked. To the side of cousin Jack, who was about to be hanged, mov- ed a well-known figure.

" The Marquis de Tête Perdu !" cried the Lawyer aghast !

" My lover! my lover!" screamed

Laura.

" My eye ! that's the Hereditary Hangman !" said a bystander with open

mouth.

" Hereditary Hangman !" said an English Lord, who was by chance an at- tendant at the spectacle. " Hereditary Hangman !-what a burlesque on the

Peerage !"

It is a burlesque truly, or is the one about as wise as the other?