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common purse was at his disposal. and, in a moral one, even reprehen-
, cordance with his smile or his frown. to state it now, while sketching the He was more than Fortunatus—he character of the man. was Fortune's self personified — an Being in possession of the power, idol to many worshippers, who over- more potent than patronage, of dislooked the bandage and the wheel. pensing fortune to others, it is not Such, in the days of which I speak, surprising that Mr Beaton's acwas the Railway Monarch, of whom quaintance should have been seduthere were several in England; that lously courted by a whole swarm of country being, for railway purposes, persons who, neglecting the scripagain resolved into a heptarchy. tural caution, were in exceeding
Not the least powerful and im- baste to become rich. Selfishness is perious of those autocrats was Mr of no rank; neither, I must admit, Richard Beaton, whose mercantile is servility.
is servility. Rich and poor, high
' experience, ready resources, and re- and low, can, when it suits their pntation for sagacity, had raised him turn, become both selfish and serto so enviable a position.
vile. Indigent men sell their votes understood that he had made a large to the highest bidder : peers of the fortune before he embarked in rail- realm forsake the traditions of their way enterprise. He stood well with house for the wretched guerdon of a the Ministry, by whom he was re- ribbon. Nay, have we not seen, garded as a financial authority, was within a limited space of time, a à respected member in the House, king debase himself so far as to act and held a good position in society. the part of jackal to an emperor, Still there was about him—at least and yield to the imperial tyrant, those who knew him intimately not a portion of the territory which averred so-a certain taint of that they had jointly conquered, but the arrogance which we often find in most ancient province of his own men who have been successful in the hereditary dominions? So runs the attainment of wealth;--a subdued world. I regard it not scoffingly, boastfulness which makes itself rather like a Menippus—I weep not, with felt than audible, but which is mani- Heraclitus, for the exceeding frailty fested by inflexibility of opinion, and of mankind. There is the picture. a disregard, almost amounting to Turn it over in your own mind. contempt, of the suggestions of others. Consult the records of all agesHis weak point was vanity. He Jew, Pagan, and Christian- and you liked adulation; though, if such a will find that the love of gain is the charge had been openly preferred, he grand motive power. But that was would, doubtless, have denied it. not according to the law of the inNevertheless, an adroit master of the spired Jewish dispensation, or the art could always gain his ear by fol- philosophic glimmering of the speculowing the method through which lative Greek, or the distinct enunDecius Brutus boasted that he could ciation of the Gospel. Just fancy a oversway the haughty Cæsar,- sermon preached to a Lombard-street
congregation on the text — “ Lay "But when I tell him he hates flatterers, the earth, where moth and rust
not up for yourselves treasure upon He says he does; being then most flattered."
doth corrupt, and where thieves
break through and steal!”. Would Hence he had favourites connected not the majority of the audience be with the railways - low, fawning inclined to rely upon the non-oxidafellows, who often misled, and, I tion of sovereigns, the impassibility fear, sometimes betrayed him; and of their safes for moths, and the they, by ministering, or rather pan- scrutiny of the detective police ? I dering, to his vanity, induced him to fear they would ; and yet they overdash headlong into schemes which, look God's judgment announced in a prudential view, were dangerous, against those who esteom the mere
acquisition of wealth, and the indul- away." So the gates of fashion opened gences which it can afford, the main spontaneously for the admission of objects of our earthly existence. the father and the child. Of course Well
, let us quit that argument. this was very gratifying. It is easy Weak nature succumbs. We have to pooh-pooh these things, and to one talent-say, a thousand pounds protest that we care not for them; – we want to make it ten. There is but did you ever know a person ina kind of scriptural anthority for different to such homage? Think that, though it may be read other- over the list of your acquaintances, wise; but we must not be nice in and tell me if you can fix upon one. our application. If we don't get In return, Mr Beaton, who, though shares in a most promising undertak- fond of acquiring money, was liberal ing, which we can sell to advantage in in spending it, enlarged his estaba few weeks, somebody else will reap lishment, gave splendid entertainthe benefit. Detesterl, though un- ments, and might, if he pleased, have known, is that "somebody else!” held levées, so numerous was the - perchance an intriguing Jew, a host of his admirers. And it was miserable attorney's clerk, or-for the daughter of this high and mighty such things have been bruited abroad financier, this especial favourite of -a common cabman! Why should Plutus, that I, an unknown journalgentility be excluded from participat- ist, presumed to love! Well might ing in such very good things? Why I keep that portion of my thoughts should not aristocratic money fruc- a close secret; for, had I confided it tify as readily as plebeian? All that to any one, I should either have been is requisite is a good introduction, laughed at as a fool, or regarded as and a hint as to a profitable invest- a positive madman. ment (N.B.-In those days every I found Attie Faunce of great use kind of purchase was dignified by to me; for he freely communicated the imposing title of investment); much curious information which he and wbo better able to give the hint had picked up in the city relative to than that wonderfully clever man, the doings in Capel Court, and the Mr Richard Beaton, who never was fourberies of the inferior jobbers; detected in a commercial blunder, so that I was enabled to spice my or known to be wrong in any one of articles, which otherwise might have his calculations ?
proved heavy, with some pungent So Mr Beaton, already a celebrity, matter that rendered them generally took first rank in the London mena- acceptable, attracted the attention gerie as a lion of superb dimensions of the public, and, above all, pro
. Stiff-necked dukes relaxed their dig- voked discussion. Still, I acknownity, and became quite affable in ledge that my task was both difficonversation with the distinguished cult and delicate, for I was convinced commoner, whose genius, they were that the Government had not adeproud to own, was an ornament to quately performed its duty by reBritish commerce. Minor magnates, straining the flood of speculation ; somewhat out at elbows, greeted him the effect of such regulations as they with much cordiality-you can't help did prescribe being rather to increase liking a peer who has a jovial de- than allay the fury of the torrent. meanour-haunted him at clubs, and But I was resolute to obey to the requested his advice with that free- letter the instructions of Mr Osborne, and-easy air which brooks no denial. and to proclaim what appeared to The leaders of fashion, a most obdu- me to be the honest truth, without rate and exclusive clique, discovered equivocation or reserve. that Mr Beaton was just the man to I began to like Attie Faunce very be patronised, and that his daughter much. He certainly was one of the was a lovely and accomplished girl, drollest fellows I ever encountered, with sufficient charms to grace a with such unflagging vivacity that courtly circle. “And then," said the one could hardly have wished him dowagers in their conclave, “such a other than he was. The great mafortune! Really it would be quite jority of people with whom we are wicked if we allowed her to be thrown brought into contact are so satur
nine and dull, so reserved or sus- -men whose names we never meet picious, or so terribly afraid of com- with except in the Parliamentary promising themselves by giving ut. Companion, or the division-lists; but terance to anything approaching to when a celebrated statesman or oraeccentricity, that it is quite a relief tor enters or issues from the House, to meet with a clever rattle, who his name is rapidly circulated—there does not weigh bis words, but comes is a buzz among the spectators, and out with whatever is uppermost in all throng forward to gaze on the his mind. At length I came to re- individual whom, though they may gard his visit to iny rooms as the not coincide in his opinions, they most pleasant event of the day. He nevertheless honour as an able or glided in like a streak of sunshine, consistent politician. and his mirth-provoking talk relieved On this evening there were not the monotony of my occnpation. many persons in attendance, though
One evening I went down to the I was given to understand that the House of Commons in hopes of meet- House was rather full. ing in the lobby a member who had “It is a Scotch debate,” said a expressed himself anxious to com- brother of the press with whom I municate some information regard- had a slight acquaintance, “and that, ing a transaction which had become you know, excites little interest. notorious, and had recently been Sawney manages his own matters made the subject of comment by the through his representatives, and newspapers. I cannot now recollect they know well enough_how to take precisely what
doubtless care of number One. But this is a some nefarious job that had come to Government night, for there has been light through the bungling of the a whip, and I am told the sitting operators, for such things were of will be late.” daily occurrence. The lobby of the “Do you happen to know what House, while an animated debate is bill is before the House ?” said I. going on, presents a curious scene, “ Indeed I do not,” replied the very interesting to a stranger who other. “I have not been in the galknows the leading political charac- lery. But here comes a man that ters by name, but who has never can tell us. Hallo, Phipps! what's had the opportunity of heholding going on?” them save through the medium of a “Scotcb poor-law," replied Phipps. caricature. A view of it does more Devilish " dull work. But old than anything else to impress one Smoothly-the Treasury dodger, you with a due sense of the dignified know-is making an extraordinary position of a member of the House appearance. Hang me if they are of Commons; for the two well-fed not cheering him like mad !” gentlemen who are custodiers of the By Jove, that's something new!” door, and whom, doubtless, official said my friend. “I've heard him etiquette restrains from lavishing speak twice, and a duller dog never much courtesy upon mere visitors, tried the patience of the national asare most obsequious to honourable sembly. The Speaker nearly dislogentlemen; and the very policemen, cated his jaw with yawning. If the who are uniformly civil in that House goes along with Smoothly, place, seem to regard them with an there has been no greater miracle eye of intense admiration. I cannot since the ass spoke to Balaam ! say, however, that the aspect of the What's his line of country ?” majority is such as would inspire awe “Statistical. I don't know any. or impress with reverence. They thing of the subject myself; but are, for the most part, very ordinary there's a Scotch reporter up there specimens of humanity; though here in the gallery-a relation, of course, and there you descry some men of of M'Callum More or M'Callum Beg commanding port and imposing ap- — who swears that Smoothly must pearance, and others in whose linea- have the sccond-sight. He was very ments you may perceive the unmis- big about a place with a most extratakable marks of genius. Many pass ordinary name.
It sounded someto and fro unnoticed and unknown thing like perpendicular.'
Benbecula, perhaps ?” I sug- in the right line, and I shall tell bim gested ; a passage in a certain paper so to-morrow. I don't think Sir recurring vividly to my memory. George is properly appreciated.”
“No doubt you are right, sir," “That's not a bad idea of yours, said Phipps. * That entirely cor- Popham," remarked a sarcastic reresponds in sound ; but of course cusant, who had already exhibited there are limits to the study of geo- symptoms of rebellion against the. graphy. All I can say is that Tamworth dynasty. “Peel's squad Smoothly is making a sensation; of official young men is made upand, what is queer enough, the no more vacancies there. As it is of Scotch members are cheering him no use applying to the captain, you the loudest."
are quite right to make a friend of “Are you going to stay here, Sin- the recruiting sergeant !" clair ?” said my acquaintance, “Ah, you are always so bitter !” shall we have a bit of supper? I said Mr Popham. “You fellows are have marked a most appetising lob- doing all you can to break up the ster.”
party. What is your objection to “Thank you,” said I, “but I shall Smoothly ?” wait for a little while. I have come “Objection, my good fellow! You down by appointment to see a mem- never heard me state any! What ber who, no doubt, is in the House, objection can there be to a man who and I should be sorry to disappoint is as pliable as a glove, as slippery him.”
as an eel, and as consistent as April “ Chacun à son goût, my dear weather ” fellow ! I would not sacrifice the “Ah, that is one of your paracrowuing hour of the night for a doxes, I suppose! Do you know colloquy with the Premier himself. G said the other day that a What's life without relaxation ? Young Englander was no better than Phipps—are you game ?”
a walking paradox? Ha, ha! was “I am," said Phipps. And the not that witty? Leave the old stagtwain departed.
ers alone for finding out your weak Shortly afterwards the door was opened, and there came—a rush of • My dear Popham,” replied the members.
other, “I am only too glad to learn “Very extraordinary speech that that there is a kind of wit which you was of Smoothly's," said one. “I are able to appreciate. But hush, as had no idea he was so conversant you hope for promotion !-Lo, the with details."
conquering hero comes !” “I should not have thought so And, in effect, the mysterious door much of it,” said a Scottish member, reopened, and the Premier came “ if it had been delivered by one of forth, talking with much animation, ourselves. But how an Englishman but in a low tone of voice, to Sir came to know the real weak poinis, George Smoothly, on whose counte. fairly takes me by surprise."
nance was written obsequiousness " Peel's as pleased as punch," said tempered by complacency. The another ministerialist. “ The young latter gave a furtive glance around; Opposition had not a word to say. and I am certain, from a slight conWho could have expected it from traction of his mouth, that he saw Smoothly ?”
and knew me. But he gave no siga “I always said he was a most able of recognition, and the two passed man,” drawled a slim youth who towards the library. laboured under the suspicion of hav- “Now," thought I, as I bent my ing a sheep's-eye to a place in the steps homeward, "I shall very soon Treasury. “I like to hear solid in- find out whether this gentleman was formation, because, you see, it helps sincere or not in his professions. one to arrange his ideas. Now The result is to me matter of comSmoothly
, is evidently up to the parative indifference ; for, thanks to whole thing, and he made a most Mr Osborne, I have woke from my convincing speech--everybody must dream of patronage; but I own I allow that--and Peel cheered him; should like to know whether he is a so you may depend upon it he was true man or a hypocrite. Strange
that so many people should mistrust before the House, are the results of him! And yet the Premier, who must personal experience or investigation. have ample experience of mankind, With Scotland I am but remotely evidently regards him with favour.' connected; yet, knit as are the sister
I was not then aware--for that kingdoms together, though with a kind of knowledge is seldom early difference in their system of laws, I attained—that extreme plausibility may perhaps be allowed to say that is the surest mark by which knavery I regard the welfare of either from a can be detected. A very clever purely British point of view; and knave is not habitually plausible. should feel ashamed if I did not exHe rather tries to throw you off your tend to the people of the North that guard by the assumption of a candid interest, and sympathy, and consideoutspoken manner, giving you there. ration which every English member by to understand that he is quite as so devotedly accords to those who much alive to his own interest as to have the closer claim. Accordingly, yours. Such a character is very when I first became aware that this dangerous, and may long escape sus- great measure of popular relief was picion. But your uniformly plausible in contemplation, I considered it my man affects you with a kind of duty to place myself in communicanausea; just as if you were com- tion with many persons of high repupelled to swallow repeated doses of tation and esteemed character in cod-liver oil. Your stomach revolts Scotland. I trust the House will against the medicine, and you trans- pardon me if I abstain from mentionfer your dislike to the practitioner. ing names—that being the condition Moreover, I committed a gross mis- which some, indeed most of them, take in supposing that the man who expressly made, while developing is plausible to his equals and inferiors their views with remarkable candour must necessarily be so to those who and sagacity. I think, nay I am rank above him. There is a certain sure, that honourable members will level beyond which plausibility does believe that the facts which I shall not or should not rise. It then be- now state, and the arguments which comes obsequiousness or servility. I shall use, are, all of them, the reIf you want to ascertain the real sult of close intimacy with the wants character of any man, whatever be and requirements of the people, and his station in life, do not rest satis- of profound professional knowledge fied with the report of his superiors. of the operation of the existing law, Push your inquiries among his equals and an enlightened regard to its and contemporaries; and, my life on amendment. (Cheers.) I perceive, it, that you will arrive at a more Sir, that the House acquiesces in satisfactory result.
the propriety of the course which I I rose the next morning, I admit, propose to adopt; and though, unmore expeditiously than usual, to doubtedly, the force of the few obperuse the report of the debate in servations which I am about to subthe House of Commons; and there, mit, would be materially strengthsure enough, was the speech of Sir ened were I at liberty to say from George Smoothly, which, allowing whose experience they are derived, I for the difference in form between shall, as in honour bound, waive that an oration and a written memoir, was advantage, leaving it of course to exactly what I had penned by way honourable members who may take of summary. I glanced over the a different view, to controvert my columns-for, having real matter to facts or meet my arguments by appeal bring forward, this ornament of the to direct testimony,'from which I am Commons had inade a lengthy speech unfortunately excluded.”. -there were my thunders, or my The impudence of this exordium blunders (the one being as probable was something perfectly astounding. as the other); but I confess I felt I had, as is the way with men who considerably irritated when I read must read parliamentary debates, the following paragraph :-
and who esteem the mere artifices of "I do not presume,” said the hon- rhetoric at their proper value, applied ourable member, “to aver that the myself first to the body of the speech, facts which I have laid, and will lay without paying attention to the in