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“In the meantime, if Martin has a chamber, we will adjust our wet garments," observed the Countess, with a sweet smile.
Madame," exclaimed the woman, in much confusion, and with a profound reverence, "I have but one room, and that
Is perfectly at the service of these ladies, to whom I with pleasure cede my claim," said Charles, rising, and standing uncovered before the two ladies.
"We are much obliged," answered the Countess, surveying with some little surprise, and even confusion, the handsome youth who thus suddenly stood before them.
"For what?" exclaimed the Duke, haughtily. "For Monsieur's courtesy," said the Countess, turning, with steady mien, towards the nobleman.
"The courtesy of a roturier,” sneered the Duke, with that characteristic disregard for the people's feelings which paved the way for so much bitter revenge.
"Monsieur," exclaimed Charles, coldly, "you forget the times are changed, and that a bourgois is no longer a slave."
"This to me!” cried the Duke, reddening, while the painful conviction forced itself upon him that the words breathed truth.
"Yes, to you, Monsieur le Duc de Ravilliere, Marquis de Pontois," replied Charles; "I mean nothing impolite, but to remind you that we are no longer serfs."
"This comes of teaching the people; those vile pamphleteers are ruining the state," muttered the Duke; by pamphleteers the Duke meant Montesquiou, Voltaire, Helvetius, Rousseau.
Meanwhile the Countess and her fair companion, who had slightly coloured on the approach of Charles, whose manly, handsome form, and enthusiastic character, were no strangers to Adela de Ravilliere, retired, followed by
"Hum!" said the Duke, dryly, "but I have not seen you since you were a child."
"You mistake, Monsieur le Duc; ten years back-I was then a lad of fifteen-I saved your daughter's life when thrown into the Somme," replied Charles, as dryly. "Ah!" exclaimed the Duke, his better feelings at once prevailing, "and you never came forward to claim my thanks and gratitude.”
"I knew you, Monsieur, for one of my mother's brothers, and, therefore, one of her persecutors,” replied Charles Clement, coldly.
"Charles Clement," said the nobleman, taking his hand, 66 you wrong me. Perhaps I might have been, who knows, had the opportunity occurred. But I was away with the army, and only heard of the matter a year after my sister's death. She was my playmate, too, in early days, and I am glad to meet her child."
My Lord Duke," replied Charles, warmly, "this is to me an unexpected delight."
"You have the face of a Ravilliere," said the Duke, musing sadly, as he thought what he would have given for such a son, "and, were you noble by your father's side, might aspire to great things."
"Monsieur le Duc," exclaimed Charles, "you are mistaken. A time is coming when the factitious advantages of rank and birth will no longer have weight, and when merit, talent, energy, will be as ready a road to preferment."
“I believe,” said the nobleman, sinking his voice, led away, he knew not why, by the charm of the other's voice, and forgetting awhile his stately pride; “I believe the state of the country to be more serious than the nobles suppose; but the change you contemplate is an idle dream. A pretty state of things, truly, when a gentilhomme shall be no better than a roturier.”
“And yet, my uncle," interposed Charles, quietly, "both are but men."
"Oh!" said the Duke, with an involuntary sneer, "you are one of the disciples of equality. But let us not discuss politics, lest we quarrel. You are going to Paris?"
"I am,” replied Charles. "With what object?"
"To watch events. I have a small income, derived from my late father, and hope that circumstances may arise favourable to the pursuit of my profession."
"You will find a friend in your uncle,” said the Duke, sadly; " I have but one child left, with whom my name
"You will hear much more," said Charles, " from the ends. Except yourself I have not a relative, save one Tiers-Etat."
“Bah!" said the Duke, carelessly, "they may talk; all they will say will end in smoke. But have I not seen you before?"
distant one, and in these days a young head may be useful. Whenever you are at leisure you are welcome at the Hotel Ravilliere."
“Thank you, my uncle," exclaimed Charles, blushing "I believe my face is not strange to your family," crimson, while his heart's blood came and went with rareplied Charles, bitterly. His mother had been a Ra-pidity, "I shall avail myself of the privilege." villiere, who had married for love into a legal family, and died of a broken heart, in consequence of the persecutions of her relations.
Meanwhile the busy valets, using the apartment as if it had been their master's property, had spread, on a white and snowy table-cloth, with plates of porcelain, silver
“Ah! I thought so," exclaimed the Duke, vainly forks, and other articles of luxury, a cold collation, which striving, however, to tax his memory.
"I am Charles Clement, son of Jacques Clement, counsellor, who married your sister," replied the young man, moodily, the memory of his dead mother's wrongs rising before him, and shedding withered thoughts upon his path.
made the eyes of the two men glisten, and excited many admiring and envious whispers.
"I do not think we have such very great reason to complain, Duke," said the Countess, returning, accompanied by Adela; "indeed, to have escaped the pelting storm is alone a luxury."
Put another couvert, Germain," cried the Duke, re- with a slightly-scornful air; while the old Duke, who apart suming his stately tone. from his courtier education had much good sense, re
The ladies exchanged glances, and then looked with plied calmly-"Confound not the class with its abuses," no little surprise on the aged nobleman.
"Adela," he continued, "you have, doubtless, not forgotten your fall from your pony into the Somme?"
"Oh no!" said she, her cheeks crimsoning, and her lovely eyes slightly moistened, "nor my brave cousin who rescued me."
"Humph!" remarked de Ravilliere, dryly, but not angrily, "so you recognise him."
"Monsieur Clement and I have met once since," said Adela, recovering herself, "about ten days ago in the forest."
"Oh!" continued the Duke, "but allow me, at all events, to introduce to you," addressing the Countess, 46 my nephew, Charles Clement."
"Here, too," exclaimed the Countess, laughing, "you are too late-I was with Adela on the occasion referred to."
"Oh!” again said the old man, " but, nephew, know my noble and lovely ward, the Countess Miranda de Casal Monté."
Charles bowed, and, on the invitation of the Duke, seated himself on one side of the table, with his uncle opposite, while the ladies sat to his right and left. The meal commenced. The conversation was serious, but not sad. Charles, at the request of the Duke, spoke of his early life, of his orphan state, of his arduous studies in Paris for the legal profession, of his many courageous struggles against adversity, and those difficulties which encumber -though in the end they aid-the progress of the man who has to make his way in the world by the power of industry, talent, and learning.
"M. Charles," said Miranda, after listening with attention to his eloquent but somewhat bitter relation, in which his habitual sense of wrong and injury inflicted on his class burst forth—“M le Duc has promised you his support and countenance; you will therefore scarcely want any other, but if my less weighty influence be of any use at any time, command it."
Madame," replied Charles gravely, the kind, gentle, but protective tone, touching him to the quick, "your offers, along with those of my uncle, are generous and tempting, but I am one of those who must fail or owe all to themselves."
"Then fail you will," said the Countess half ironically, "for owe your success to some one you must, whether that some one be your friends or the public."
he said, "if indeed such exist. That some disorders have taken place I grant, because certain men have looked rather to keeping their places and making money than of being upright ministers a common failing with men in power-but I cannot descry in what the nobles are generally to blame."
"My Lord," replied Charles, warmly, "the present generation of the aristocracy are not wholly to be condemned; to the vices and immorality of the last reign we owe much of present misery-so true is it the wickedness of those in high places is gall and wormwood to the people. But the nobles are to blame in preserving their antique privileges, the barbarisms of feudalism; in not bearing their fair share of taxation; they are to blame, because, having no eyes, they do not see the signs of the times; they are to blame, in contending madly, in the face of increasing enlightenment, against the truth which is heard trumpet-tongued in the garret and workshop-infusing hope and elating the bosom-that the people are something in the nation, and should enjoy rights as well as perform duties."
“And are such the feelings,” inquired the Duke, “of many besides yourself?"
"My Lord Duke," exclaimed the young man, "they are the cherished sentiments of thousands of Frenchmen, who hail the States General but as the prelude to a constitution and representation of the people, as in England."
“But in England—for I have travelled there—representation is generally but a name."
"Monsieur de Ravilliere," said Charles, "they have the shadow, and the substance will follow. We have neither shadow nor substance."
"Ma foi!" exclaimed the Duke, "if these sentiments are rife, we may have a hard tussle for our privileges. But, young man, we have the army, we have the rich, the noble with us, and all power in our hands, and must prevail."
"And we have public opinion, justice, and the people,” replied the young man, quietly.
"These are new words," mused the Duke; "but go on, nephew, I am rather glad to hear you speak ; I shall learn something of which few of my class have any idea."
And Charles Clement, whose keen eye and thoughtful mind had watched the progress of events, and who had pondered deeply on the probable consequences of the popular and universal ferment; upon the effect produced by the wide diffusion of political information; who knew
"I would owe my success, Madame la Comtesse," continued Charles, "to my own exertions; I would know that my pen or my voice-and if these fail me, my hands have made me whatever I am to become, and not-he, the law student, who had lived among the people
to feel that I am rich or powerful or great, because rich and powerful and great people have taken me by the hand."
"But, Charles," observed the Duke, gazing at him curiously, "to your own relations you cannot object owing something."
"When I am the enemy of the class to which they belong," replied the young man enthusiastically, "however much I can love and respect them, I can owe them nothing."
The Countess Miranda raised her dark eyes with astonishment on the youth; Adela curled her pretty lips
the excitable character of the Paris mob; who was well aware that thousands of men were hoping for liberty, and would risk fortune and life to win it, sketched, with almost prophetic power, much which was to come. His picture was dim; he dealt necessarily in generalities; his ideas of change fell far short of the reality; but his warnings were accompanied by so much that was cogent in reasoning, and were attuned with so much eloquence and animation, that his auditors were variously moved.
Vague sensations of alarm made the Duke shudder, for he saw that his old age, which he had so fondly
hoped would have ended in peace, was likely to be a stormy one, and more and more he clung to the support which, in this time of popular tribulation, he might look for in a young and active relation.
Adela, though much struck by the words of the young man, was much more so by his manner, and the sparkling animation depicted in his eyes, which had become deeply imprinted on her heart.
Miranda listened coldly and critically, and not a trace of emotion of any kind was visible on her handsome, nay, beautiful countenance.
The ladies, the storm not abating in the least, retired shortly after the conclusion of the dinner to the room so gallantly ceded to them by Charles Clement, in order to repose from the fatigues of the day. The Duke, too, determined to lie down on a bed made with the cushions of the carriage, and other materials which the servants produced, in the double-bedded room intended by Madame Martin for Torticolis and Duchesne, but which now was ceded to the aged nobleman and our hero.
Charles," said the Duke, soon after the two young women had retired, "perhaps you are not aware that I owe you 120,000 livres ?"
"Monsieur le Duc," replied Charles Clement, startled, "I told you I could accept nothing."
My friend," said the Duke, smiling sadly, "you would not surely refuse to accept a mother's gift?" “A mother's gift!" exclaimed Charles.
"Yes, my nephew, for eighteen years my sister's portion has been accumulating in my hands; the arrears amount to 120,000 livres, while the principal is a farm near Paris, of which my homme d'affaires will hand you the title-deeds in due form, with the amount which he has in his hands of the twenty years' accumulation.” "But, my uncle," said Charles, hesitating. "M. Charles," exclaimed the Duke, gravely, "through culpable negligence on my part, and the fact that, pardon me, I had forgotton your very existence, this money has not been previously paid you, but yours it is, and M. Grignon will show you the necessary documents to prove this."
"I am deeply grateful, Monsieur le Duke, and can refuse nothing which was my mother's."
"It is then settled; good night, nephew,"—and in a few moments more the nobleman was asleep, leaving the young man to ponder on the events of the day.
salivating column in a parabolic curve from the centre of Parliament Street, when driving four-inhand, to the foot pavements, right and left, so as to alarm the consciences of guilty peripatetics on either side. The ultimate problem, which closed the curriculum of study, was held to lie in spitting round a corner; when that was mastered, the pupil was entitled to his doctor's degree. Endless are the purposes of man, merely festal or merely comic, and aiming but at the momentary life of a cloud, which have earned for themselves the distinction and apparatus of a separate art. Yet for conversation, the great paramount purpose of social meetings, no art exists or has been attempted.
AMONGST the arts connected with the elegancies | in this system of hydraulics being to throw the of social life, in a degree which nobody denies, is the art of Conversation; but in a degree which almost everybody denies, if one may judge by their neglect of its simplest rules, this same art is not less connected with the uses of social life. Neither the luxury of conversation, nor the possible benefit of conversation, is to be had under that rude administration of it which generally prevails. Without an art, without some simple system of rules, gathered from experience of such contingencies as are most likely to mislead the practice, when left to its own guidance, no act of man, nor effort, accomplishes its purposes in perfection. The sagacious Greek would not so much as drink a glass of wine amongst a few friends That seems strange, but is not really so. A without a systematic art to guide him, and a re- limited process submits readily to the limits of a gular form of polity to control him, which art and technical system; but a process, so unlimited as which polity (begging Plato's pardon) were better the interchange of thought, seems to reject them. than any of more ambitious aim in his Republic. And even, if an art of conversation were less unEvery symposium had its set of rules, and vigor- limited, the means of carrying such an art into ous they were; had its own symposiarch to govern practical effect amongst so vast a variety of minds, it, and a tyrant he was. Elected democratically, seem wanting. Yet again, perhaps, after all, this he became, when once installed, an autocrat not may rest on a mistake. What we begin by misless despotic than the King of Persia. Purposes judging is the particular phasis of conversation still more slight and fugitive have been organised which brings it under the control of art and disinto arts. Taking soup gracefully, under the dif- cipline. It is not in its relation to the intellect ficulties opposed to it by a dinner dress at that that conversation ever has been improved or will time fashionable, was reared into an art about be improved primarily, but in its relation to manforty-five years ago by a Frenchman, who lectured ners. Has a man ever mixed with what in upon it to ladies in London; and the most technical phrase is called "good company," brilliant Duchess of that day was amongst his meaning company in the highest degree polished, best pupils. Spitting, if the reader will pardon company which (being or not being aristocratic as the mention of so gross a fact, was shown to be a respects its composition) is aristocratic as respects very difficult art, and publicly prelected upon the standard of its manners and usages? If he about the same time, in the same great capital. really has, and does not deceive himself from The professors in this faculty were the hackney-vanity or from pure inacquaintance with the coachmen; the pupils were gentlemen, who paid world, in that case he must have remarked the a guinea each for three lessons; the chief problem large effect impressed upon the grace and upon the
freedom of conversation by a few simple instincts of real good breeding. Good breeding-what is it? There is no need in this place to answer that question comprehensively; it is sufficient to say, that it is made up chiefly of negative elements; that it shows itself far less in what it prescribes, than in what it forbids. Now, even under this limitation of the idea, the truth is that more will be done for the benefit of conversation by the simple magic of good manners (that is, chiefly by a system of forbearances), applied to the besetting vices of social intercourse, than ever was or can be done by all varieties of intellectual power assembled upon the same arena. Intellectual graces of the highest order may perish and confound each other when exercised in a spirit of ill temper, or under the license of bad manners: whereas, very humble powers, when allowed to expand, themselves colloquially in that genial freedom which is possible only under the most absolute confidence in the self-restraint of your 'collocutors, accomplish their purpose to a certainty, if it be the ordinary purpose of liberal amusement, and have a chance of accomplishing it, even when this purpose is the more ambitious one of communicating knowledge or exchanging new views upon truth.
In my own early years, having been formed by nature too exclusively and morbidly for solitary thinking, I observed nothing. Seeming to have eyes, in reality I saw nothing. But it is a matter of no very uncommon experience that, whilst the mere observers never become meditators, the mere meditators, on the other hand, may finally ripen into close observers. Strength of thinking, through long years, upon innumerable themes, will have the effect of disclosing a vast variety of questions, to which it soon becomes apparent that answers are lurking up and down the whole field of daily experience; and thus an external experience which was slighted in youth, because it was a dark cipher that could be read into no meaning, a key that answered to no lock, gradually becomes interesting as it is found to yield one solution after another to problems that have independently matured in the mind. Thus, for instance, upon the special functions of conversation, upon its powers, its laws, its ordinary diseases, and their appropriate remedies, in youth I never bestowed a thought or a care. I viewed it not as one amongst the gay ornamental arts of the intellect, but as one amongst the dull necessities of business. Loving solitude too much, I understood too little the capacities of colloquial intercourse. And thus it is, though not for my reason, that most people estimate the intellectual relations of conversation. Let these, however, be what they may, one thing seemed undeniable-that this world talked a great deal too much. It would be better for all parties, if nine in every ten of the winged words, flying about in this world (Homer's epea pteroenta) had their feathers clipped amongst men, or even amongst women, who have a right to a larger allowance of words. Yet, as it was quite out of my power to persuade the world into any such self-denying reformation, it seemed equally out
of the line of my duties to nourish any moral anxiety in that direction. To talk seemed then in the same category as to sleep; not an accomplishment, but a base physical infirmity. As a moralist, I really was culpably careless upon the whole subject. I cared as little what absurdities men practised in their vast tennis courts of conversation, where the ball is flying backwards and forwards to no purpose for ever, as what tricks Englishmen might play with their monstrous national debt. Yet at length what I disregarded on any principle of moral usefulness, I came to make an object of the profoundest interest on principles of art. Betting, in like manner, and wagering, which apparently had no moral value, and for that reason had been always slighted as inconsiderable arts (though, by the way, they always had one valuable use, viz., that of evading quarrels, since a bet summarily intercepts an altercation), rose suddenly into a philosophic rank, when successively, Huyghens, the Bernoullis, and De Moivre, were led by the suggestion of these trivial practices amongst men, to throw the light of a high mathematical analysis upon the whole doctrine of Chances. Lord Bacon had been led to remark the capacities of conversation as an organ for sharpening one particular mode of intellectual power. Circumstances, on the other hand, led me into remarking the special capacities of conversation, as an organ for absolutely creating another mode of power. Let a man have read, thought, studied, as much as he may, rarely will he reach his possible advantages as a ready man, unless he has exercised his powers much in conversation—that was Lord Bacon's idea. Now, this wise and useful remark points in a direction, not objective, but subjective-that is, it does not promise any absolute extension to truth itself, but only some greater facilities to the man who expounds or diffuses the truth. Nothing will be done for truth objectively that would not at any rate be done, but subjectively it will be done with more fluency, and at less cost of exertion to the doer. On the contrary, my own growing reveries on the latent powers of conversation (which, though a thing that then I hated, yet challenged at times unavoidably my attention) pointed to an absolute birth of new insight into the truth itself, as inseparable from the finer and more scientific exercise of the talking art. It would not be the brilliancy, the ease, or the adroitness of the expounder that would benefit, but the absolute interests of the thing expounded. A feeling dawned on me of a secret magic lurking in the peculiar life, velocities, and contagious ardour of conversation, quite separate from any which belonged to books; arming a man with new forces, and not merely with a new dexterity in wielding the old ones. I felt, and in this I could not be mistaken, as too certainly it was a fact of my own experience, that in the electric kindling of life between two minds, and far less from the kindling natural to conflict (though that also is something), than from the kindling through sympathy with the object discussed, in its momentary coruscation of shifting phases, there sometimes arise glimpses, and shy
is compelled oftentimes into seeing things, as unexpected by himself as by others. Now in conversation, considered as to its tendencies and capacities, there sleeps an intermitting spring of such sudden revelation, showing much of the same general character; a power putting on a charac
If, then, in the colloquial commerce of thought, there lurked a power not shared by other modes of that great commerce, a power separate and sui generis, next it was apparent that a great art must exist somewhere, applicable to this power; not in the Pyramids, or in the tombs of Thebes, but in the unwrought quarries of men's minds, so many and so dark. There was an art missing. If an art, then an artist missing. If the art (as we say of foreign mails) were "due," then the artist was "due." How happened it that this great man never made his appearance? But perhaps he had. Many people think Dr. Johnson the exemplar of conversational power. I think otherwise, for reasons which I shall soon explain, and far sooner I should look for such an exemplar in Burke. But neither Johnson nor Burke, however they might rank as powers, was the artist that I demanded. Burke valued not at all the reputation of a great performer in conversation he scarcely contemplated the skill as having a real existence; and a man will never be an artist who does not value his art, or even recognise it as an object distinctly defined. Johnson, again, relied sturdily upon his natural
revelations of affinity, suggestion, relation, ana- | reader. In this power, which might be illustrated logy, that could not have been approached largely from the writings of Burke, is seen somethrough any avenues of methodical study. thing allied to the powers of a prophetic seer, who Great organists find the same effect of inspiration, the same result of power creative and revealing, in the mere movement and velocity of their own voluntaries, like the heavenly wheels of Milton, throwing off fiery flakes and bickering flames; these impromptu torrents of music create rapturous fioriture, beyond all capacity in the artist to register essentially differing from the character worn ter, or afterwards to imitate. The reader must by the power of books. be well aware that many philosophic instances exist where a change in the degree makes a change in the kind. Usually this is otherwise; the prevailing rule is, that the principle subsists unaffected by any possible variation in the amount or degree of the force. But a large class of exceptions must have met the reader, though, from want of a pencil, he has improperly omitted to write them down in his pocket-book-cases, viz., where upon passing beyond a certain point in the graduation, an alteration takes place suddenly in the kind of effect, a new direction is given to the power. Some illustration of this truth occurs in conversation, where a velocity in the movement of thought is made possible (and often natural), greater than ever can arise in methodical books; and where, 2dly, approximations are more obvious and easily effected between things too remote for a steadier contemplation. One remarkable evidence of a specific power lying hid in conversation may be seen in such writings as have moved by impulses most nearly resembling those of conversation; for instance, in those of Edmund Burke. For one moment, reader, pause upon the spectacle of two contrasted intellects, Burke's and Johnson's; one an intellect essen-powers for carrying him aggressively through all tially going forward, governed by the very necessity of growth-by the law of motion in advance; the latter, essentially an intellect retrogressive, retrospective, and throwing itself back on its own steps. This original difference was aided accidentally in Burke by the tendencies of political partisanship, which, both from moving amongst moving things and uncertainties, as compared with the more stationary aspects of moral philosophy, and also from its more fluctuating and fiery passions, must unavoidably reflect in greater life the tumultuary character of conversation. The result from these original differences of intellectual constitution, aided by these secondary differences of pursuit, is, that Dr. Johnson never, in any instance, GROWS a truth before your eyes, whilst in the act of delivering it, or moving towards it. All that he offers up to the end of the chapter he had when he began. But to Burke, such was the prodigious elasticity of his thinking, equally in his conversation and in his writings, the mere act of movement became the principle or cause of movement. Motion propagated motion, and life threw off life. The very violence of a projectile, as thrown by him, caused it to rebound in fresh forms, fresh angles, splintering, coruscating, which gave out thoughts as new (and that would at the beginning have been as startling) to himself as they are to his
conversational occasions or difficulties that English society, from its known character and composition, could be supposed likely to bring forward, without caring for any art or system of rules that might give further effect to that power. If a man is strong enough to knock down ninetynine in a hundred of all antagonists, in spite of any advantages as to pugilistic science which they may possess over himself, he is not likely to care for the improbable case of a hundredth man appearing with strength equal to his own, superadded to the utmost excess of that artificial skill which is wanting in himself. Against such a contingency it is not worth while going to the cost of a regular pugilistic training. Half & century might not bring up a case of actual call for its application. Or, if it did, for a single extra case of that nature, there would always be a resource in the extra (and, strictly speaking, foul) arts of kicking, scratching, pinching, and tearing hair.
The conversational powers of Johnson were narrow in compass, however strong within their own essential limits. As a conditio sine quâ non, he did not absolutely demand a personal contradictor by way of "stoker" to supply fuel and keep up his steam, but he demanded at least a subject teeming with elements of known contradictory opinion, whether linked to partisanship or not.