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The Old Manor House:

CHAPTER XLVI.

The unfortunate brother of Orlando now related to him, that though his actual debts were very great, the sum he was at present confined for was not much above ninety pounds; and his arrest was at the suit of the very attorney whom he had been persuaded by Stockton to employ—a young and inexperienced man; who having, without knowing what he was about, led his client into very heavy expenses, had been, as it seemed, bribed by Roker to abandon him; and now, without returning his papers, had arrested him. Orlando, inexperienced as he still was in the miserable chicane with which our laws are disgraced and counteracted, yet knew that this could not be right, and that some means might be found to procure at least the papers such a man detained—This he promised his brother he would do, and take every necessary measure for his speedy release. He then gave Philip all the money he had in his pocket; and, leaving him with an heavy heart, returned home, not only disap­pointed in his search after 233 Monimia, but that disap­pointment embittered by the discovery he had made of his brother’s situation, whom, now that he was in distress and in prison, Orlando forgave for all the calamities he had brought on his family, and for all the ill offices which jealousy had excited him to be guilty of against himself.

Yet, to his mother he dared not speak of Philip; for, though she at present suffered extreme anguish in believing her son had forsaken her, after having so largely contributed to the dispersion and ruin of his family, she would, he knew, be quite overwhelmed by the intelligence that he was in prison. She had already in bitterness of heart experienced—

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

To have a thankless child.”

But still that half-broken heart had all the tenderness of a mother within it for this her eldest child, on whom, during his early years, her fondest affections were fixed—and Orlando well knew that the misery he had thus brought upon himself would add an incurable wound to those which his mother had already received.

But, though he endeavoured to conceal the extreme dejection of his spirits on his return, his mother immediately perceived that something had more than usual disturbed him. He told her, however, in answer to her anxious inquiries, that he had been embarrassed by the delays of office in regard to the sale of his commission; and as soon as he could quit her without exciting anew her apprehensions, he left the house, and set out to execute, as far as he could that evening, his promise to his brother, telling his mother and his sisters that he should not be at home to supper.

Baffled in his first attempt to find Mrs. Newill, 234 who was the only person from whom he could hope to hear any intelligence of Monimia, new terrors assailed him; and he thought that, amidst the most dreary hours he had passed in the wilds of America, and among men who have little more rationality than the animals of their desert, he had never suffered such wretchedness as he now felt; for, then, though he was exposed to almost every personal inconvenience, and uncertain whether he should ever again revisit his native country, he fancied Monimia was in safety; but now, every evil that could surround defenceless innocence, and unprotected beauty, was incessantly represented to his imagination; and, in proportion as time elapsed without his being able to gain any intelligence of her, his despair became intolerable.—Yet other duties, indispensable duties demanded his attention, and interrupted his pursuit, which alone could relieve his mind, by keeping alive his hopes of finding her.

His new friend, the young attorney, whose name was Carr, told him that he would instantly set about procuring the release of his brother Philip; and if, as he believed, any illegal proceeding had occurred in his confinement, Fisherton, the attorney who was the cause of it, would perhaps be compelled by a little spirit to lower his demands—I know this man well, said Carr, and know that nothing but his impudence can equal his ignorance. That other honour to our profession, Roker, is well versed in chicane, and knows more of the law, or rather of its abuse, than an honest man would wish to know; but Fisherton is so ignorant that, while his lavish expenses continually reduce him to necessities that drive him into bold attempts at robbery, his skill in managing them is so inferior that he is almost always baffled, and has been more than once exposed.

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How then does he contrive to live? said Orlando: I learn from Philip that he has a house in town, another in the country, and entertains his clients splendidly at both; and that, in his common discourse, he talks as if he was a man of great property.

Oh! as to that, answered Mr. Carr, he has had a contested election for a Western borough to carry on for a nabob; and since, a process to defend for the same worthy personage in Doctors Commons—This comfortable client has been supposed his principal support for some time; and it is wonderful—how his wild boasting, in which there is not a syllable of truth, imposes upon the world he is such a man as Shakspeare somewhere describes—

“A gentleman who loves to hear himself talk, and will speak more in an hour than he’ll stand to in a month.”

—I am heartily sorry your brother has got into the hands and into the debt of this yelping fellow; who, even if he could prevail upon himself to be honest, is always from ignorance on a wrong scent. However, we must get him out of so sad a scrape as well as we can; and as all your elder brother’s proceedings have been wrong and will only mar ours, since that wretched Roker has purchased his solicitor, (for every pettyfogging fellow is now, not an attorney, but a solicitor,) we must begin again, and file a bill of discovery against the younger Roker and his wife.

Orlando then pressed his friend (whom he thought a man of talents, and who had all the appearance of being honest without professing it) to set about the release of his brother immediately.—This he willingly agreed to, and said he would instantly go about it to one of the persons concerned, who lived also in Clement’s Inn—I shall not be gone a quarter of an hour, said Carr: perhaps you 236 would like to stay till my return—here is a newspaper, if you will amuse yourself with that; but books I have none, but law books, which I suppose you have no taste for.—Orlando assured him that his mind was not in a state to receive amusement from any of the usual resources; and entreated him to go instantly about Philip’s business, and allow him to wait in his chambers till his return.

Carr departed; and Orlando sat for a moment, his eyes fixed on the fire, in sad contemplation, of which Monimia was the principal object. The clerk brought him in candles (for he and Carr had conversed by fire-light) and the newspaper; but he was too much occupied by his private distresses to be able to attend to public occurrences, interesting as they were at that period to every Englishman, and particularly to one who had seen what Orlando had seen, of the war then raging with new violence in America.

He read, however, in a lingering expectation of hearing of Warwick, which never wholly forsook him, the list of the killed and wounded in an engagement or rather skirmish which was related in that paper, and when he read that the American soldiers, fighting in defence of their liberties (of all those rights which his campaign as a British officer had not made him forget were the most sacred to an Englishman), had marked their route with the blood which flowed from their naked feet in walking over frozen ground, his heart felt for the sufferings of the oppressed and for the honour of the oppressors*.

* The perusal of the History of the American Revolution, of Ramsay, is humbly recommended to those Englishmen who doubt whether, in defence of their freedom, any other nation but their own will fight, or conquer.

But from the contemplation of both, his private 237 miseries recalled him—In laying down the newspaper on a long desk that was in the room, he cast his eyes accidentally on some of the bundles of papers that were ranged on it, tied with red tape, and saw on one—Bagshaw v. Fleming. The name of Fleming instantly brought to his mind his regretted friend the lieutenant, and his heart as instantly reproached him with breach of promise, and want of gratitude, in not having sooner inquired after the family of the lieutenant, who had with his last breath recommended them to his friendship. Nor could he forgive himself for his neglect; though a mind of less generous sensibility might easily have found excuses in the multiplicity of more immediate claims and family distresses which had overwhelmed him on his return to England.

When Carr returned, he gave to Orlando a more favourable account of his mission than he had expected, and as soon as they had agreed upon what was to be done the next day to hasten the liberation of Philip Somerive, Orlando asked him if he had a client of the name of Fleming? Carr replied that he had, and that she was a widow who was under very melancholy circumstances: Her husband, added he, was a lieutenant, killed in America, and she has nothing or very little more than her pension to live upon, with five children, all young; and is besides involved in a suit by the villany of some of her husband’s relations, which I am defending for her.

Good God! cried Orlando, it is the widow of my dear old friend, whose last breath left his gallant bosom as he, grasping my hand while I knelt on the ground stained with the blood which flowed in torrents from his breast, bade me be a friend to his poor wife, to his orphan children—And I have neglected this, shamefully neglected it! and have 238 selfishly suffered my own sorrows to absorb me quite.—Where do Mrs. Fleming and her family live?—Where can I see them?—If they are in town I will go to them this evening.

Carr smiled at the vehemence of his young friend, and said, What pity it is, Somerive, that such an heart as yours should ever lose this amiable warmth, and become hackneyed in the ways of men!

I trust, answered Orlando, that it never will; but, Carr, you do not answer my question—does Mrs. Fleming reside in London?

No, replied Carr; she is at present near Christchurch in Hampshire, where a friend has lent her a cottage, for she is by no means in a situation to pay rent for such a house as her family requires. Orlando then taking an exact direction, determined to see the widow of his deceased friend as soon as he had visited the other prisons of the metropolis in search of Mrs. Newill. The following day, therefore, after passing some time with his brother, who appeared satisfied with the prospect of his immediate release, he went to the King’s Bench prison, and, his inquiry there being fruitless, to the other receptacles of the unhappy debtor; but no such person as a Mrs. Newill was to be heard of, and Orlando returned in deeper despair than ever.

In two days the spirit and assiduity of Mr. Carr had been so effectually exerted that Philip Somerive was released, but at the expense to Orlando, of somewhat upwards of an hundred pounds, including the fees which are on these occasions paid to the satellites of our most excellent law; nor would the sum have been so moderate, but from the exertions of Carr, and his threats of exposing the conduct of Fisherton. Orlando fetched his brother away in a hackney-coach to a 239 lodging he had provided for him; where he supplied him with present money, and where he hoped he should be able to support him till something (though he knew not what) should happen to give a fortunate turn to the affairs of their family.

Philip was pensive, silent, and, as Orlando hoped, penitent. He had not as yet spoken of him to his mother; and though the circumstances that would have most sensibly afflicted her were now at an end, Orlando, who saw his mother in that state of spirits which even the sudden opening of a door, or any unexpected noise were sufficient to overset, dared not yet ask her to receive and to forgive a son, who, though she still loved him, had given her so much cause of complaint—as well since, as before his father’s death.

The whole fortune of Orlando was now reduced to about two hundred and fifty pounds; for his commission did not produce him quite four. On this fortune, however, he was still bent on marrying Monimia, if he could find her; and of trusting to Providence for the rest.

A few more mornings were still passed in fruitless research. It was now the beginning of January; and this beginning of Term his bill was to be filed against the persons who were supposed to have any knowledge of Mrs. Rayland’s having made another, and a subsequent will. It was in search of these people, of the servants who had lived with her at the time of her death, and of the lawyers who had made the will, that he was now compelled for many days longer to employ himself: every hour increasing the agony of mind with which he thought on the fate of Monimia, while all the consolation he had was in talking of her to Selina, if he could at any time steal an hour with her alone. On these occasions he wearied himself with conjecture as to 240 what was become of her; repeated the same questions on which he had already been often satisfied; and imagined new means of tracing her, which when he pursued, served only to renew his disap­pointment and regret.

At length—having learned that the lawyer who made the will was dead, and his clerk who had accompanied him to Rayland Hall settled at a town in Wiltshire—he resolved, by the advice of Carr, to go thither in search of him, and then to visit the village near Christchurch, where Mrs. Fleming and her family resided. He communicated this scheme to his mother, who, while she allowed the necessity of his finding a person whose evidence might be so very material to him, could hardly prevail upon herself to let him go for ten days from her; for so long he imagined it would be before he could return.

At length he fixed the day with her approbation, hired an horse for the journey, and took leave of his mother and his sisters. He then visited Philip, whom he found in a very silent, and, as he thought, somewhat sullen mood. He gave him a ten pound bank note, as he complained of being without money; and, in depressed spirits, with hardly a glimpse of hope to cheer his melancholy way, he began his journey.

The weather was severe; but, on the first night of his journey, a deep snow threatened to render his progress more slow, and compelled him to stay till a late hour of the day, that the road might be beaten, for all was now a pathless plain, and he was a stranger to the road. About one o’clock, however, he left the town where he had passed the night, and went slowly on. He was inured to the cold by his abode in America; and in no haste to get to his inn, where nothing awaited him but a solitary supper and mournful reflections.

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Again he ran over in his mind every possible circumstance that could rob him of Monimia—and awakened in his breast all the scorpions of distrust, dread, and jealousy; for, whatever attempts he made to conquer so horrible an apprehension, it was to Sir John Belgrave, and to the success of his cruel artifices, that his fears most frequently pointed; and there were moments in which he thought, that, were a person before him who could tell him all he so solicitously desired to know, he should not have courage to ask; for, should he hear that Monimia was lost by the infamous seduction of such a man, he believed he should die on the spot, or lose his reason in the greatness of his sorrow.

It was between ten and eleven o’clock in the evening of his second day’s journey, that, in a wild and moory country, where extensive heaths seemed to spread without end before him, he began to think it time to seek a lodging for the night. All around was dreary and silent; and blank, he thought, as his destiny. Yet he wished the torpid sensation that being long exposed to the cold had given to his limbs could reach his heart, which was too acutely sensible! In the midst of the uniform waste stood a small village, the rustic inhabitants of which had long since retired to their hard beds; and every thing was as quiet in their houses as it was around the little church that rose beyond them. Orlando would have inquired the distance to the next post-town, but no human creature appeared, and he passed on; his thoughts (as he compared their peaceful slumbers with the state of his own troubled mind) assuming a poetical form, in the following

SONNET.

While thus I wander, cheerless and unblest,

And find, in change of place, but change of pain;

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In tranquil sleep the village labourers rest,

And taste repose, that I pursue in vain.

Hush’d is the hamlet now; and faintly gleam

The dying embers from the casement low

Of the thatch’d cottage; while the moon’s wan beam

Lends a new lustre to the dazzling snow.

—O’er the cold waste, amid the freezing night,

Scarce heeding whither, desolate I stray:

For me! pale eye of evening! thy soft light

Leads to no happy home; my weary way

Ends but in dark vicissitude of care:

I only fly from doubt to meet despair.

After being near an hour longer on his horse, he arrived at Chippenham, where the lawyer lived from whom he expected information; and going extremely fatigued to an inn, he sent, at an early hour the following morning, to the person in question, who immediately came; and, inviting him to his house for a farther discussion of the business, he received him there with hospitality, and answered him with candour.

This gentleman, whose name was Walterson, informed him that it was very true he, being then clerk to a Mr. Lewes, accompanied his principal to Rayland Hall, where Mr. Lewes was closetted two days with Mrs. Rayland; after which he was called upon with another person, who he thought was a tenant, or son to a tenant of Mrs. Rayland’s, to witness it: but he did not hear the contents, nor know what was afterwards done with the will; relative to which every thing was conducted with great secrecy—That he was employed to engross some other writings about one of Mrs. Rayland’s farms; but that he never copied the will, nor knew more of its contents than what passed in conversation afterwards between him and Mr. Lewes—who, as they travelled together to London, afterwards said, in going through the park, out at the north lodge, 243 that he thought Rayland Mall one of the finest old places he had ever seen; and added, speaking of the Somerive family, And I am very glad that the old lady has determined to give it to the right heirs—because Mr. Somerive is a very worthy man, and that younger son of his a fine young fellow.—That, on some farther questions from him, Mr. Walterson, Mr. Lewes spoke as if the bulk of the fortune was given to Mr. Orlando Somerive.

Orlando made minutes of what Mr. Walterson said, who assured him he would be ready at any time to give his testimony in a court of law—He in vain endeavoured to recollect the name of the person who was witness with him to the will, and whose information he advised Orlando by all means to procure; but he described him as a stout man, between thirty and forty, with a very florid complexion and dark straight hair, who was dressed like a substantial farmer. Orlando, having thanked Mr. Walterson for all his civilities, and received gratefully his advice for the conduct of the business, mounted his horse and proceeded towards Salisbury, meditating sometimes on the hopes he had of obtaining restitution of the Rayland estate; but oftener on Monimia, for whose sake more than his own he wished to possess it.

His journey, almost across the whole county of Wilts, was long, and rendered particularly tedious by the vicissitudes of frost and thaw that had prevailed for some days—which had made the roads, where the snow half dissolved had been again suddenly frozen, so dangerous, that he was often under the necessity of leading his horse for many miles together. He proposed, after visiting Mrs. Fleming, to cross the country to Rayland Hall; and, whatever pain it might cost him to revisit those scenes of his former happiness, to discover, if possible, 244 the person whom Walterson described as having with him witnessed Mrs. Rayland’s will.—He suddenly recollected that, in his way, he should be within a few miles of the residence of Mrs. Lennard—for so he called her, forgetting at that moment her change of name; and that it could at least do no harm if he saw her, and endeavour to find in her conversation, if not from her candour, something which might lend him a clue for the discovery of Monimia.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XLVI

Spoiler: Mr. Carr, Orlando’s new lawyer friend, will not end up robbing him blind and cheating him of his inheritance. This is fortunate, since it doesn’t seem to have occurred either to Orlando or to the author that some prudence would be appropriate.

speak more in an hour
[It’s really “in a minute”, but I’m sure the reader doesn’t mind.]

Philip was pensive, silent, and, as Orlando hoped, penitent.
[Query: In prison, Philip was rude, sarcastic and dismissive to his brother. Why on earth would he behave any better now that he is free?]

It was now the beginning of January
[We are in 1779—less than halfway through the American Revolution, if anyone is keeping track.]


If Orlando had known Monimia was in safety


At Salisbury Orlando determined to make some slight alteration in his plan

The Old Manor House:
Introduction and Contents

 

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.