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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPelham - Volume 4 - Chapter 46
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Pelham - Volume 4 - Chapter 46 Post by :richerquicker Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1555

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Pelham - Volume 4 - Chapter 46

VOLUME IV CHAPTER XLVI

There was a youth who, as with toil and travel, Had grown quite weak and grey before his time; Nor any could the restless grief unravel, Which burned within him, withering up his prime, And goading him, like fiends, from land to land.--P. B. Shelley.

From Lady Roseville's I went to Glanville's house. He was at home. I was ushered into a beautiful apartment, hung with rich damask, and interspersed with a profusion of mirrors, which enchanted me to the heart. Beyond, to the right of this room, was a small boudoir, fitted up with books, and having, instead of carpets, soft cushions of dark green velvet, so as to supersede the necessity of chairs. This room, evidently a favourite retreat, was adorned at close intervals with girandoles of silver and mother-of-pearl; and the interstices of the book-cases were filled with mirrors, set in silver: the handles of the doors were of the same metal.

Beyond this library (if such it might be called), and only divided from it by half-drawn curtains of the same colour and material as the cushion, was a bath room. The decorations of this room were of a delicate rose colour: the bath, which was of the most elaborate workmanship, represented, in the whitest marble, a shell, supported by two Tritons. There was, as Glanville afterwards explained to me, a machine in this room which kept up a faint but perpetual breeze, and the light curtains, waving to and fro, scattered about perfumes of the most exquisite odour.

Through this luxurious chamber I was led, by the obsequious and bowing valet, into a fourth room, in which, opposite to a toilet of massive gold, and negligently robed in his dressing-gown, sate Reginald Glanville:--"Good Heavens," thought I, as I approached him, "can this be the man who made his residence par choix, in a miserable hovel, exposed to all the damps, winds, and vapours, that the prolific generosity of an English Heaven ever begot?"

Our meeting was cordial in the extreme. Glanville, though still pale and thin, appeared in much better health than I had yet seen him since our boyhood. He was, or affected to be, in the most joyous spirits; and when his dark blue eye lighted up, in answer to the merriment of his lips, and his noble and glorious cast of countenance shone out, as if it had never been clouded by grief or passion, I thought, as I looked at him, that I had never seen so perfect a specimen of masculine beauty, at once physical and intellectual.

"My dear Pelham," said Glanville, "let us see a great deal of each other: I live very much alone: I have an excellent cook, sent me over from France, by the celebrated gourmand Marechal de--. I dine every day exactly at eight, and never accept an invitation to dine elsewhere. My table is always laid for three, and you will, therefore, be sure of finding a dinner here every day you have no better engagement. What think you of my taste in furnishing?"

"I have only to say," answered I, "that since I am so often to dine with you, I hope your taste in wines will be one half as good."

"We are all," said Glanville, with a faint smile, "we are all, in the words of the true old proverb, 'children of a larger growth.'Our first toy is love--our second, display, according as our ambition prompts us to exert it. Some place it in horses--some in honours, some in feasts, and some--voici un exemple--in furniture. So true it is, Pelham, that our earliest longings are the purest: in love, we covet goods for the sake of the one beloved; in display, for our own: thus, our first stratum of mind produces fruit for others; our second becomes niggardly, and bears only sufficient for ourselves. But enough of my morals--will you drive me out, if I dress quicker than you ever saw man dress before?"

"No," said I; "for I make it a rule never to drive out a badly dressed friend; take time, and I will let you accompany me."

"So be it then. Do you ever read? If so, my books are made to be opened, and you may toss them over while I am at my toilet."

"You are very good," said I, "but I never do read."

"Look--here," said Glanville, "are two works, one of poetry--one on the Catholic Question--both dedicated to me. Seymour--my waistcoat. See what it is to furnish a house differently from other people; one becomes a bel esprit, and a Mecaenas, immediately. Believe me, if you are rich enough to afford it, that there is no passport to fame like eccentricity. Seymour--my coat. I am at your service, Pelham. Believe hereafter that one may dress well in a short time?"

"One may do it, but not two--allons!"

I observed that Glanville was dressed in the deepest mourning, and imagined, from that circumstance, and his accession to the title I heard applied to him for the first time, that his father was only just dead. In this opinion I was soon undeceived. He had been dead for some years. Glanville spoke to me of his family;--"To my mother," said he, "I am particularly anxious to introduce you--of my sister, I say nothing; I expect you to be surprised with her. I love her more than any thing on earth now," and as Glanville said this, a paler shade passed over his face.

We were in the Park--Lady Roseville passed us--we both bowed to her; as she returned our greeting, I was struck with the deep and sudden blush which overspread her countenance. "Can that be for me?" thought I. I looked towards Glanville: his countenance had recovered its serenity, and was settled into its usual proud, but not displeasing, calmness of expression.

"Do you know Lady Roseville well?" said I. "Very," answered Glanville, laconically, and changed the conversation. As we were leaving the Park, through Cumberland Gate, we were stopped by a blockade of carriages; a voice, loud, harsh, and vulgarly accented, called out to Glanville by his name. I turned, and saw Thornton.

"For God's sake, Pelham, drive on," cried Glanville; "let me, for once, escape that atrocious plebeian."

Thornton was crossing the road towards us; I waved my hand to him civilly enough (for I never cut any body), and drove rapidly through the other gate, without appearing to notice his design of speaking to us.

"Thank Heaven!" said Glanville, and sunk back in a reverie, from which I could not awaken him, till he was set down at his own door.

When I returned to Mivart's, I found a card from Lord Dawton, and a letter from my mother.

"My Dear Henry, (began the letter,)

"Lord Dawton having kindly promised to call upon you, personally, with this note, I cannot resist the opportunity that promise affords me, of saying how desirous I am that you should cultivate his acquaintance. He is, you know, among the most prominent leaders of the Opposition; and should the Whigs, by any possible chance, ever come into power, he would have a great chance of becoming prime minister. I trust, however, that you will not adopt that side of the question. The Whigs are a horrid set of people (politically speaking), vote for the Roman Catholics, and never get into place; they give very good dinners, however, and till you have decided upon your politics, you may as well make the most of them. I hope, by the by, that you see a great deal of Lord Vincent: every one speaks highly of his talents; and only two weeks ago, he said, publicly, that he thought you the most promising young man, and the most naturally clever person, he had ever met. I hope that you will be attentive to your parliamentary duties; and, oh, Henry, be sure that you see Cartwright, the dentist, as soon as possible.

"I intend hastening to London three weeks earlier than I had intended, in order to be useful to you. I have written already to dear Lady Roseville, begging her to introduce you at Lady C.'s, and Lady--; the only places worth going to at present. They tell me there is a horrid, vulgar, ignorant book come out, about--. As you ought to be well versed in modern literature, I hope you will read it, and give me your opinion. Adieu, my dear Henry, ever your affectionate mother,

"Frances Pelham."

I was still at my solitary dinner, when the following note was brought me from Lady Roseville:--

"Dear Mr. Pelham,

"Lady Frances wishes Lady C--to be made acquainted with you; this is her night, and I therefore enclose you a card. As I dine at--House, I shall have an opportunity of making your eloge before your arrival. Your's sincerely,

"C. Roseville."

I wonder, thought I, as I made my toilet, whether or not Lady Roseville is enamoured with her new correspondent? I went very early, and before I retired, my vanity was undeceived. Lady Roseville was playing at ecarte, when I entered. She beckoned to me to approach. I did. Her antagonist was Mr. Bedford, a natural son of the Duke of Shrewsbury, and one of the best natured and best looking dandies about town: there was, of course, a great crowd round the table. Lady Roseville played incomparably; bets were high in her favour. Suddenly her countenance changed--her hand trembled--her presence of mind forsook her. She lost the game. I looked up and saw just opposite to her, but apparently quite careless and unmoved, Reginald Glanville. We had only time to exchange nods, for Lady Roseville rose from the table, took my arm, and walked to the other end of the room, in order to introduce me to my hostess.

I spoke to her a few words, but she was absent and inattentive; my penetration required no farther proof to convince me that she was not wholly insensible to the attentions of Glanville. Lady--was as civil and silly as the generality of Lady Blanks are: and feeling very much bored, I soon retired to an obscurer corner of the room. Here Glanville joined me.

"It is but seldom," said he, "that I come to these places; to-night my sister persuaded me to venture forth."

"Is she here?" said I.

"She is," answered he; "she has just gone into the refreshment room with my mother, and when she returns, I will introduce you."

While Glanville was yet speaking, three middle-aged ladies, who had been talking together with great vehemence for the last ten minutes, approached us.

"Which is he?--which is he?" said two of them, in no inaudible accents.

"This," replied the third; and coming up to Glanville, she addressed him, to my great astonishment, in terms of the most hyperbolical panegyric.

"Your work is wonderful! wonderful!" said she.

"Oh! quite--quite!" echoed the other two.

"I can't say," recommenced the Coryphoea, "that I like the moral--at least not quite; no, not quite."

"Not quite," repeated her coadjutrices.

Glanville drew himself up with his most stately air, and after three profound bows, accompanied by a smile of the most unequivocal contempt, he turned on his heel, and sauntered away.

"Did your grace ever see such a bear?" said one of the echoes.

"Never," said the duchess, with a mortified air; "but I will have him yet. How handsome he is for an author!"

I was descending the stairs in the last state of ennui, when Glanville laid his hand on my shoulder.

"Shall I take you home?" said he: "my carriage has just drawn up."

I was too glad to answer in the affirmative.

"How long have you been an author?" said I, when we were seated in Glanville's carriage.

"Not many days," he replied. "I have tried one resource after another--all--all in vain. Oh, God! that for me there could exist such a blessing as fiction! Must I be ever the martyr of one burning, lasting, indelible truth!"

Glanville uttered these words with a peculiar wildness and energy of tone: he then paused abruptly for a minute, and continued, with an altered voice--"Never, my dear Pelham, be tempted by any inducement into the pleasing errors of print; from that moment you are public property; and the last monster at Exeter 'Change has more liberty than you; but here we are at Mivart's. Addio--I will call on you to-morrow, if my wretched state of health will allow me."

And with these words we parted.

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