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TIIE FIRST RESOLVE WHICH COLOURS A
The news had vibrated like an electric shock from one end of the kingdom to the other. Every court from Fleet Ditch to St. James's had
echoed with it, every window had blazed with Eighteen years had passed away. It was the illuminations, joyful salvos had rent the heavens month of June, in 1815-a month and a year with the tale, and even the green meadows of destined to be memorable for ever in the annals' the country had lit up bonfires that dimmed the of mankind. The atmosphere of Europe was moon, and made the glow-worm “pale its inefno longer laden with shamble-steams of blood; fectual fire.” It was a jubilee everywhere but Promethean ambition was condemned to its rock in the classical academy of Mr. Vandersplutter. in St. Helena : jackalls and wolves had eaten the Mr. Vandersplutter was of Dutch extraction, last meal of human flesh which they were des, and had a square, unmeaning face, and a thick tined to gloat over for many a day; and dove- protuberant figure. He had been brought up eyed Peace soothed the bleeding world after its to the church; but his taste for spiritual matters travail
, as a spirit oppressed with nightmare is exhibiting itself rather in an attraction to schnaps lulled with sweet slumber at noon.
and other strong waters, than to the ghostly During this flight of time, old hopes and fears lucubrations of the old fathers, he doffed the have died away, and new ones have arisen. gown, and set up a select academy. The speObjects pursued before with such fervent aspi- culation flourished amazingly. He had tutors rations are now realised and cast aside, or for- who taught everything, from the use of the gotten as abandoned dreams. Men, too, have globes to the language of the Hindostanese. changed - the youth of the former epoch has There was no scholar in the neighbourhood become the manhood of this, what was full- except the clergyman of the village, and he was blown vigour then is now decrepitude, and a an invalid, so that Mr. Vandersplutter had credit new generation is galling the kibe of age, and for unknown erudition. By never drinking shouting peans of joy over the Battle of Waterloo! wine when he dined out, he acquired moreover There is a sanctity in those songs; they announce the character of a strict ascetic, and no one that Intellect is springing, Endymion-like, from knew-except his wife, who put him to bed— its long repose; that Science shall awaken, that how amply he consoled himself for abstinence Improvement may go forth again, to cultivate from the convivial claret by devotion to the and refine, and knit mankind together in a chain secret schnaps. Mrs. Vandersplutter, his maof holy brotherhood. All this and more may trimonial moiety, was a tall, pretty Frenchdate its birth from that “ leafy month of June" woman, slim, as are all her race, and not which reopens our tale.
deficient in what is considered their natural
characteristic, the penchant for intrigue. She brightly than their indomitable spirits flushed had not married Mr. Vandersplutter for love, with life and health. What elixir like youth? he was incapable of inspiring it; nor for What intoxication like that of boyhood, quaffing money, because he had never possessed any; rich draughts of pleasure in the spring-time of but inerely to procure the freedom of a wife, existence! in pursuit of which object a Frenchwoman But habit is strong, and enthusiasm for the can live with anybody." Her character, too, most part of brief duration. Their fresh game was white as driven snow in the estimation was scarcely begun when the booming voice of of that simple country neighbourhood, although the school-bell echoed forth its summons. For certain levities on the occasion of a visit from some minutes there was a pause of irresolution. her cousin, a young Romish priest, might have | Each waited for the other to make some signal altered their opinion, only they were too dull, either of rebellion or respect. All were silent, and her husband was too tipsy to discover however, and at last one or two of the less enthem.
terprising put on their jackets, and sauntered And now in these classic groves of Academus gloomily to the academy doors. More followed, raged a most discordant uproar, and the spirit until at length the whole were wending as usual of rebellion was abroad among the disciples. to their allotted tasks. Jerningham and Revel For some reason unknown, there was to be no reluctantly followed in the rear of their fellows, holiday to celebrate the victory. Whether Mr. like leaders whose forces have refused to obey. Vandersplutter's head was racked by remorse They paused together at the portal, and each and schnaps ; whether Mrs. Vandersplutter had read the heart of the other in his flashing eyes ; excited the green-eyed monster, jealousy; or they knew that their thoughts were the same. whether it was only one of those thunder-storms “I am getting weary of school!” said Jerwhich sweep periodically over the connubial ningham. horizon, was in nowise explained. But the “ Something too much of this!" quoted master had banged his library door, cursing | Revel, in apposite confirmation of his friend's everything by his gods in direful Dutch. The remark-“ how much in our purse, Ned?-1 mistress had taken refuge in her chamber and a have two guineas !” French novel; not, however, without well bad 1 “ And I have nearly five,” replied Jerninggering Mademoiselle la Folle, the French maid, ham; “ what say you to a moonlight start for who now sat “Mon Dieu”-ing and irrigating the town-there are only twenty-seven miles behall-floor with her tears.
|tween our prison and freedom !”. The agitation in the house, however, was Revel pressed his friend's hand convulsively; nothing to the sedition in the playground. The for once he was at a loss to find a quotation. pupils, large and small, were gathered round a Their hearts began to knock at their bosons, tall youth, who was reading a newspaper in the their breathing grew quick, they already felt centre of the group, and at every new detail of that they were overstepping a great boundary in gallantry, their hip-hip-hurrahs rent the air, 1 Life-the Rubicon that divides Youth from and shook the rafters of Vandersplutter Aca- Manhood. demy.
" Nay let's together," " exclaimed Revel at “And we are to have no holiday for this?" last, and they passed within the gate. Their said the reader, when he had concluded ; “why fates were fixed from that very hour ! the very sky makes jubilee-look how blue it is, Dick Revel!” “ If they won't give us a holiday, let us take
CHAP. XI. it," replied Revel, a youth of middle size and peculiar features, who never learnt anything but
A PAGE OF RETROSPECTION. Shakspere; “I say war--peace is to me a war; Lest the resolve of the two schoolfellows let rebellion show its “ horrid front"-what say should appear more hasty than natural, it beyou, old boys, “to be or not to be, that is the comes necessary to retrace some of the circut question ?”
stances that intervened between that period, “ To be!" echoed twenty voices in reply to which left the infant Jerningham in his nurse's this inotley mass of quotation.
arms, to the present, when we find him a youth “ Then pitch the stumps again, Ned Jerning- of eighteen at Vandersplutter Academy. ham,” cried Revel, “and they may ring the The murder of his father, and the death of his school-bell till the welkin rings, we'll bave our last relation in his mother, occurred in a manner rights—" before my form I throw my warlike so sudden and unexpected, that Lord Haverda shield;" and he raised the cricket-bat drama and Greville assumed rather than received the tically—“lay on, Macduff'; and damned be he offices of guardianship. Unfortunately, howthat first cries Hold, enough!"
ever, the care of education was the only charge The wickets were pitched once more, the that fell to their lot, for the fortune of the young players assumed their positions around the field, orphan was reduced to a shadow. It were long and they were speedily immersed again in the to recapitulate, and sad to tell, how the nodie glorious game of cricket, which no mind but domains of Jerningham had been frittered aw that of a genuine English sportsman could pos- on the turf and at the gaming-table. And sibly have invented. The air was elastic as their more strange were the conjecture how a mar pliant frames, and the sky did not gleam more kindly heart, though infirm of purpose, co
have consented to involve a wife and child in, five guineas into the young pupil's hand by way his ruin. The secret lay in this very connection of " tip” from his absent guardian. But, save It was to quench the exacting lust of play that on one or two hurried occasions, they had he married; and not until he had hound him- never met. Years rolled on thus, and now and self by that tie did the full knowledge of his then, as he approached the age at which we find desperate condition dawn upon him. For a him, he had even addressed Lord Haverdale by time he retrenched, but it was unavailing. letter, demanding emancipation from a school Fresh liabilities presented themselves when he where he had nothing further to learn, and was least able to meet them. Then Lord Ha-hinting at a progress to college. verdale came again to the Hall, adding new No reply was ever received to these applicatemptation by the reminiscence of their old ex- tions; indeed they were never forwarded. The ploits, and what can assuage the fever of a steward had observed an uneasy disrelish in his gamester save the indulgence that adds fresh master towards his ward; and once, when he fire ?—he relapsed once more. Nights of excite- delivered an epistle of this nature, Haverdale ment were followed by days of remorse. A re- resented it so angrily, that there was never likely medy must be found to staunch the life-blood to be a repetition of the offence. that was flowing away, and at the las ebb the Arrived now at the vigorous youthfulness of fancied loophole presented itself. A speculation eighteen, the reader will easily conceive that our was at that time riding upon the stream of com- fiery colt began to spurn the rein, and champ mercial enterprize, which, it was whispered, would upon the bit
, and snuff the air with longings cover the projectors Danaæ-like with showers of after freedom. Was he for ever to linger in gold. Multitudes were allured by the scheme, thrall with his paces untried, and his spirit merchant princes invested their thousands, and tamed to toil? On long summer nights he and aristocrats their tens of thousands; even high-young Revel would wander about the playground, souled priesthood, that scouted mammon in the discussing their fate, and building airy visions pulpit, but disdained not its treasures in the for the future; visions rendered-ah' bow!secret chest, was angling in the stream among golden by their inexperienced years. At length the rest.
these fancies grew into something real and palAdvertised by his steward Wrinkle of the pable. What was first a mere noontide dream new scheme, Mr. Jerningham plunged into it became gradually familiar, and at last grew into as a last resource. As its credit increased in a settled desire, dormant in itself, but liable to the market he dived deeper and deeper, and at fruition by any accident. The event recorded length came the highest point it was destined in our last chapter had sprung the mine ; to reach, and it wavered, tottered, tumbled Rerel's restless spirit was too fond of adventure headlong, rendering extrication impossible. The to falter for an instant, and he readily agreed to very same day that found Mr. Jerningham in club his funds with Jerningham's, and join him Wrinkles chamber listening to the story of his in his flight. They resolved to start that night, own ruin, left him at night stricken dead upon for the moon was full, and they were uncertain the highway by the mistaken murderer of the way. Neither of them wavered, yet the Shingle.
very firmness of their determination made them So young Edward Jerningham was left to the tremble; and when they entered the schoolroom tender mercies of stranger solicitude, and dark -a spot unloved, but still grown hallowed by and troubled were the waters of life whose ebb long association--and when they looked round and flow wafted him through infancy to boy- on every homely feature, and thought that it was hood. It was happy for the lonely wanderer for the last time, their hearts laboured, their that he did not know all the ingratitude of the eyes moistened, and they could have wept! thankless, that the wealth of his fathers was lavished before he began to partake of its advantages, and that the doting love of parents too was withdrawn like a half-remembered dream of
CHAP. XII. youth before misfortune cast a canker on its
FLIGHT. purity. He commenced life with humbler prospects, but with a not less proud ambition. The Night never shed a lustre more serenely blue soul of his ancestry was in him, suggesting and beautiful, whether her stars lit Italian domes high thoughts; the fire of sorrow had tempered or Eastern minarets, than swathed the meads of his spirit with the keen edge which conquers England upon this eventful eve. The calmness circumstance, and teaches the “ noble mind to of slumber was over all. The rivulets glided scorn delights and love laborious days.” stilly in a stream of moonlight; the branches
After leaving him at Vandersplutter Academy, were unstirred, for their playmates, the breezes, with instructions that no expense was to be were at rest ; not a cry from the owl, not a plaint spared in his education, Lord Haverdale had from the nightingale; but the silent air was far too much insouciance to trouble himself any bathed with moonlight, that fell, brightly, sofurther. Occasionally, indeed, his lordship's lemnly, like the calm glance of a mind that steward received orders to forward a hamper of knows no passion but the intellect. game to the academy for Master Jerningham; Strange contrast to the beating hearts of the and not unfrequently the same satellite called, adventurers. on his little dock-tailed cob, and slipt four or It wanted a few minutes of midnight, when