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The Old Manor House:

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CHAPTER XLIX.

In retiring to the room Mrs. Fleming had ordered to be prepared for him, Orlando attempted not to sleep, but his imagination was busied in considering how, since he had so unexpectedly found Monimia, he might escape the misery of ever again parting with her. Poor as he was, he had long since determined that if she was restored to him, he would marry her, and trust to Providence, and his own exertions, for her support:—and since he had heard all the dangers, trials, and insults, to which her unprotected and desolate situation had made her liable, he could not bear to think of ever quitting her again, even for a day.

Yet, circumstanced as he was, their immediate union was attended with innumerable difficulties: his mother would, he feared, be secretly averse, though she might not openly oppose it; and as to deceiving her, he would not think of it.

Monimia, being under age, could not be married without the consent of her aunt, her only relation, which he knew it would be impossible to obtain; and all the other impediments were in the way which occur in regard to a minor, and which there seemed no ways of obviating but by a journey to Scotland. Yet the business of the disputed will, so very important to him, was to come on, as he believed, the ensuing Term, and it was to begin in a few days; a consideration that, added to the expense of such a journey, out of his little fortune, which was reduced within an hundred and fifty pounds, made him hesitate concerning an expedition so distant and expensive. After long debates with himself, he recollected that Warwick had been married to Isabella at Jersey or Guernsey; and as 290 he was so near the coast, from whence a passage to those islands might he obtained, he resolved to propose such an excursion to Monimia, and to procure the consent of the friend to whose kindness she was so much indebted.

This was not difficult; for Mrs. Fleming, prejudiced in favour of Orlando, on account of the friendship her husband had for him, and believing that his mind possessed all those virtues his ingenuous countenance and liberal manners expressed;—knowing too how truly her young friend was attached to him, imagined that she must be happy in such a union, whatever might be their pecuniary difficulties. Monimia had no will but his; and no anxiety now hung on the mind of Orlando, but in regard to his mother.—He doubted whether he ought not to consult her before he married; yet as her disappro­bation would only render him and Monimia unhappy without changing his resolution, he concluded it would be best to trust to her affection for him, and the impression which Monimia’s beauty and innocence could not, he thought, fail to make in her favour, when he presented her to his mother, as his wife. Very little preparation was necessary for their short voyage.—Mrs. Fleming gave her blessing to the weeping Monimia as she parted with her, and gave it with a tenderness and fervency not always found in the friends who surround the brides of higher fortune.—It was agreed that the young couple should return to her as soon as they were married, and go from thence to London.

Orlando found no difficulty in procuring a vessel to transport them to Guernsey.—Notwith­standing the season of the year, the weather was mild, and the wind favourable. Within ten days from their departure, Orlando brought back his wife to Mrs. Fleming’s solitude, secure that death alone could divide them.

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They remained with their respectable friend only two days. It was now time for Orlando to be in London, and they hastened thither, too happy to reflect on what was to become of them, and with no other solicitude on their minds, than what arose from the idea of their first meeting with Mrs. Somerive.—And this dwelt more on the spirits of Orlando, than he chose to communicate to his wife.

On their arrival in town, he ordered the chaise to the chambers of his friend Carr, as he would not abruptly introduce Monimia to his mother. He went alone to procure a lodging in the neighbourhood of his family; which being easily found, they took possession of it in the evening—as Orlando required yet some time to prepare himself for disclosing a secret, which he still feared, manage it how he would, might give pain to his mother.

About one o’clock, however, the following morning he went to Howland-street. His mother, who had been very uneasy at his long absence, received him with even more than her usual affection; but her expressions of pleasure at seeing him, were mingled with tears. All that had happened to his brother, had come to her knowledge; and to his excessive concern, he heard that Philip, after applying to his mother for money, with which she could not supply him, had again disappeared, and was, as they had reason to believe, again imprisoned.

In beholding his mother under such depression of mind, he could not determine to inform her of what might possibly add to it; but instead of speaking to her of Monimia, as he intended, he endeavoured to appease the agony of her mind about Philip, whom he promised to find, and gave her hopes that they should succeed in the recovery of the Rayland estate. To Selina alone he communicated his recent marriage; and found with additional 292 concern, that she dreaded the effect this intelligence would have on her mother, who was already overwhelmed with anxiety for her eldest son, and whose maternal grief had been lately awakened by having heard that her daughter Isabella was certainly living in one of the American islands with her husband, long after they had been given over for lost:—yet, as she had never heard from them, she concluded that her daughter, if yet living, was totally estranged from her family, or regardless of their distress; a reflection not less bitter than it was to consider her as dead. The doubt of what was really her fate, proved perhaps more distressing than any certainty. With all this, were Orlando’s marriage to be discovered to her, while she was continually expressing her anxiety how he would himself be supported, Selina dreaded the consequence of her uneasiness; and therefore entreated Orlando to defer the discovery at least for a few days, in hopes that something favourable might happen; while she herself expressed the warmest solicitude to see and embrace Monimia, as her beloved sister; and they agreed that Orlando should find some pretence to take her the next day out with him, and carry her to his lodgings for that purpose.

With an heavy heart he now returned to Monimia, who anxiously expected him.—A poor dissembler, he could not conceal from her the state of his mind; but he led her to believe it was rather owing to the new distress occasioned by Philip’s disappearance, than to any doubts as to her reception by his mother. Her gentle and soothing conversation was the only balm for his wounded heart; and while he felt himself unhappy, he considered how much less so he was now, than when, in addition to the calamities of his family, he had the loss of his Monimia to 293 lament, and the dread of all those evils to which her desolate state exposed her.

As soon as he had dined, he set out, in pursuance of his promise to his mother, to find Philip; but while Carr sent his clerk, and went himself to some of the places where it was but too probable he was to be found, Orlando himself visited another; but when they met at night at Carr’s chambers, all their inquiries were found equally fruitless; and they agreed, that if this unhappy young man was, as there was too much reason to believe, in confinement, he had taken precautions not to be discovered. With this unsatis­factory intelligence, Orlando, late as it was, went back to his mother; but, assuring her he would never rest till he had found out and relieved his brother, he told her, that as he must now be constantly engaged with Mr. Carr, in arranging the business of the law-suit, and must be at his chambers early in a morning, he had taken a lodging near him, the time of going so far as from Howland-street to the inn of court being more than he could now spare. This accounted for his absence tolerably well; yet his heart smote him for this temporary deception, which was however, considering his circumstances at this juncture, only a pious fraud.

Another, another, and another day passed away without any news of Philip; and, to add to the vexation of Orlando, he found new difficulties likely to arise in his suit. Old Roker, to whom subornation of perjury was familiar, and every other infamous device which an unprincipled villain could be guilty of, had not only taken the usual method of gaining time by artificial delays, but was, it was feared, putting it out of Mrs. Roker’s (Lennard’s) power to give her testimony against the will that had been proved, by making her a lunatic; he was infamous 294 enough to have taken still more decisive means of quieting both her conscience and her evidence, if they had not been rendered less eligible by the circumstance of great part of her income having been left her for life only.

Carr, who had all the zeal of a young man for his client, and was perfectly convinced, from the substance of Mr. Walterson’s report, that there had been another will, was yet doubtful of their success against the impudence and chicane of the Rokers; supported by two such powerful motives, as their own interest, and the purse of a rich body of clergy. Orlando therefore saw with anguish of mind his own little fund dwindling away, without any certainty that such part of it as went to the payment of law expenses would ever be repaid him: and the sad idea of Monimia in as great poverty as that from which he had rescued her, continually corroded his heart; while she, from his long delay in presenting her to his mother, and from the knowledge she had of his little fortune, perceived but too clearly, in a depression of spirits which he could not always disguise, what were his fears. These she tried to dissipate, by assuming herself an air of cheerfulness—I have always been used to work, Orlando, said she—you know that I never was brought up to any other expectation—where then will be the difficulty or the hardship of my employing myself to assist in our mutual support? and surely it will be better to begin now, than to wait till our necessities become more pressing. Since I shall not disgrace your family by it; since I am unknown to every body but Selina, who has too much sense to love me less, why should I not directly engage in what sooner or later I must, I ought to have recourse to?—Orlando, who thought that all the world ought to be at the feet of a creature whose mind seemed to him even 295 more lovely than her person, was so hurt and mortified whenever she thus expressed herself, that she by degrees ceased to repeat it; but as he was now very much out with Carr, she contrived in his absence to apply to a very considerable linen warehouse in the neighbourhood, the proprietors of which at first trusted her with articles of small value to make; by degrees she acquired their confidence; and, by the neatness and punctuality of her performance, entered soon into constant employment.—Orlando saw her always busy; but he made no remarks on what occupied her; and without shocking his tenderness or his pride, she was thus enabled to add a little to the slender stock on which depended their subsistence. Thus in continual combats with himself, whether he ought not to acquaint his mother with his situation, in fruitless inquiries after his brother, and in hopes and fears about the event of his suit, passed the first six weeks of his marriage. Term was now over, and the discovery of the true will of Mrs. Rayland did not seem to be at all nearer than when he first undertook it.

Encouraged, however, by his friend Carr, to proceed, though he often trembled at the proofs that came to his knowledge, of the successful villainy of Roker, Orlando failed not to pursue such means as his solicitor thought most requisite; and, amid all the fatigue and disap­pointments of the law’s delay, which often baffled him where he most sanguinely hoped for advantage, the tenderness, the sweetness of Monimia soothed and tranquillized his troubled spirits; and when he returned to her of an evening, wearied with the contradictory opinions of counsel, or tormented by trifling and unnecessary forms, he seemed to be transported from purgatory to paradise, and forgot that, if some favourable event did not soon occur, he should be unable to support this 296 adored being, to whom he was more fondly attached as an husband than he had been as a lover.

His mother who had been at first satisfied with his reasons for absenting himself from her house, now began (since his law business was, she thought, for a while suspended) to express her uneasiness that he no longer resided with her. To the expression of this discontent she was particularly excited by her brother, Mr. Woodford, whose boisterous manners, though softened even to mean obsequi­ousness before his superiors, were still exerted to keep in subjection the mild and timid spirit of his sister, who considered herself besides as obliged to him, because he had afforded her some small pecuniary assistance, rather to preserve his own pride from being wounded, than to oblige or serve her.

Orlando, extremely disgusted by the reception he met with at the house of his uncle on his arrival in London, had never again visited him; and had avoided, as if by accident, meeting him at his mother’s; where he did not indeed often visit, being become a much richer, and consequently a much greater man, since he had been the ostensible possessor of a very lucrative contract, which he held to so much advantage as reconciled him to the necessity of relinquishing a seat in parliament for a Cornish borough, with which he had obliged some of his powerful friends. He was not therefore a repre­sentative of twenty or thirty electors, who had been paid for their suffrages at so much a head; but such were now his qualifi­cations of purse and of pride, that he was admitted to the cabals of those who had the distinction of an M. P. after their names; and was often closeted with the secretaries of yet greater men, consulted on loans, let into the secret of stocks, and was accommodated with scrip and other douceurs with which those who deserve 297 well of government are gratified; he was besides a director of an opulent company, and received, in addition to the salary of the office, considerable presents from those who had favours to request. Mrs. Woodford waddled about in the most valuable shawls; mandarins and josses nodded over her chimneys; and pagodas and japans ornamented her rooms. The two young ladies were both married: the elder to a merchant, who was a sharer in some of the fortunate adventures of his father-in-law, and besides in a flourishing business. His lady was one of the elegant and fashionable women on the other side Temple-bar; but the little circumstance of her being compelled to live on that other side, continually embittered her good fortune: having been accustomed to see people who are called of rank, in the early part of her life, she was so much flattered by having acquired admission to some few now, that she talked of nothing but lords. If she related what happened at the opera, Lord Robert was sitting by her at the time, and said so and so; if she spoke of her losses or successes at cards, Lady Frances or Lady Louisa were her party; and sometimes Sir James or Sir George betted on her side; but whenever this equestrian order were introduced, she took care to impress upon the minds of her audience, that she spoke of men who really bore the arms of Ulster, and not of any paltry city knight; whom, together with every thing in the city, she held in sovereign contempt; having quite forgotten herself, and desiring that every body else should forget the preceding years, when she was a wine-merchant’s daughter in the Strand, and glad of an hackney-coach to a benefit play; or supremely happy to be acquainted with any one who kept their own carriage, and would take her to the other end of the town.

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The acquaintance and notice of General Tracy had been almost their first step towards emerging from middling life to the confines of fashion; therefore the lady now in question, and her sister, who was become the wife of a counsellor in Lincoln’s-inn-fields, were never able to forgive the Somerive family, for having first fascinated the uncle, and then the nephew, whose notice they had always coveted, because he was among the first of those who had obtained the name of a fashionable man about town, and one whose approbation was decisive in determining on the beauty and elegance of the female candidates for general admiration.

Young Woodford too, though he had failed of marrying the rich young Jewess, either because of his indifference towards her, or of the preference she gave at the time he was first acquainted with her to Orlando, had since married the daughter of a great underwriter, and was in high affluence. The whole of the Woodford family being thus circumstanced, looked down with contempt on the remains of that of Somerive; and, under the semblance of pity, enjoyed their depression, particularly that of Orlando, of whom, in talking of him to his mother, Mr. Woodford affected to speak with great concern.

’Tis of no use, said he, to remember what is passed, since to be sure it only serves to vex one; but I must say, it was a thousand pities, sister Somerive, that you suffered this young man to refuse the advantageous offer that I made him. If I had taken him into my house, only think how differently he would have been situated from what he is now!—God bless my soul, I declare ’tis a sad thing!—In the first place, he would have been now as well off as Martin my partner is now, which, let me tell you, is no bad thing; besides that, as my 299 nephew, and in partnership with me, he might have married, let me tell you, any woman of fortune in the city, and might now be a man of the first consideration; nay, in parliament for aught I know.—Instead of that, what is the case now?—First of all, there was waiting upon and coaxing that foolish, proud old woman, who after all did nothing for him; but saw him set off with a brown musket, to be shot at for half a crown a day, or whatever it is; and then forsooth left her estate to a parcel of fat-gut parsons, as if that would do her old squeezy soul any good in t’other world—For my part, I don’t desire to vex you—what is done, why, it cannot be helped: only I must say that ’tis a devilish kettle of fish altogether. Here, instead of this young fellow’s being an help to you, he is like, for what I can see, to be a burthen. Since things are as they are, I see no reason why he should be humoured in idleness now, and, under pretence of following up this law-suit, lounge away any more of his time: as to the recovery of the Rayland estate, you may as well sue for so many acres in the moon; take my word for it, sister Somerive.

This brutish speech being answered only by the sighs and tears of the dejected auditor, her consequential brother stopped a moment for breath, and then proceeded:

However, don’t be cast down: you know that though my opinion has always gone for nothing, I am always willing to serve you, sister: and so I wish you would, before ’tis too late, and before your youngest son goes the way of your eldest, think a little of making him do something to get himself on in the world: for my part, and I’m sure every body as knows any thing of life and human nature, will agree with me, that the boy will be undone if he goes on as he does at present; and I 300 give you warning, that in a little time there won’t be a pin to choose between him and that hopeful youth, ’squire Philip.

This was almost too much for poor Mrs. Somerive, who however commanded her tears and sobs so far as to ask her brother what reason he had to think so.

He then communicated to her, as he assured her in perfect friendship, that there was great reason to suppose Orlando kept a mistress, and was lavishing on her the small remains of the money his commission had sold for; and upon her beseeching him to tell her what reason he had to believe so, he informed her that not only it was false that Orlando had taken a lodging near the inns of court in order to be near Carr, but that he actually lived within two streets of his mother’s house, with a young woman who had of late been frequently met with him of an evening, leaning on his arm, and whom, on inquiry, he was found to have brought with him from the country.

Thunderstruck with intelligence which Orlando’s general air of absence and impatience when he was with his family gave her too much reason to believe was true, and dreading lest she had lost the sole stay on which she depended for the protection of her two girls in case of her death, the unhappy mother gave herself up to tears, nor could the rough hand of her cruel brother succeed in drying them. Distressed so cruelly, she caught eagerly at whatever had the appearance of relieving her, and therefore promised to adhere to the advice Mr. Woodford gave her. He recommended it to her to press Orlando’s return to her house: by which, said he, you will soon find out, if you don’t believe it yet, that your pious good boy is not a whit better than t’other. And let me also desire you’ll not let him 301 go on helter skelter in this law-suit, with no better advice than a whiffle-headed fellow such as Carr can give him or get for him; but send him to Mr. Darby, my son-in-law, a man I can tell you that knows what he’s about, and is a thriving man in the law. He shall not charge any thing upon your account for his advice: so you’ll save five or ten guineas at once. I’ll speak to Mr. Darby; and in the mean time, d’ye see, do you have some serious conversation with your son. Let him find out that we are not so easily to be gull’d; and that ’twont do to take old birds with chaff.

Mrs. Somerive then promised to do as he dictated; and he left her, after this conversation, one of the most miserable beings on earth.

Orlando, the next time he saw his mother, found the effects of his uncle’s ungenerous interference. She received him with an air of constraint to which he was little accustomed, and which seemed to be attended with extreme pain to herself: she questioned him in a tone she had never taken up before; seemed dissatisfied with his answers, which certainly were embarrassed and contradictory; and ended the conversation with telling him that, unless he would extremely disoblige her, he must lay the whole state of the question as to the Rayland estate before Mr. Darby, his cousin’s husband. This Orlando promised to do, being very desirous of obliging his mother wherever he could do it without betraying a secret which he thought it would distress her to know; and, desirous to end as soon as he could a conversation so painful, he agreed to go directly to Carr, and procure a proper state of the affair for the opinion of counsel; and to wait on Mr. Darby the next morning, against which time Mrs. Somerive was to give him notice, by Mr. Woodford, of the application of this client.

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Orlando owed too much to the good nature, integrity, and industry of his friend Carr, not to use the greatest precaution against offending him; but the moment he opened his business, and told him what his mother had insisted upon, Carr very candidly offered to promote this application without prejudice to those he had already made; and the case, and steps already taken in the business, having been prepared, Orlando waited the next day on Mr. Darby according to his own appointment, and for the first time was introduced to him at once as his cousin and his client. The lady, formerly Miss Eliza Woodford, “kept her state,” and Orlando, instead of being shewn into her dressing-room to wait till Mr. Darby should be at liberty to speak to him, as he would naturally have been if he had fortunately been a rich relation, was shewn into a back room, surrounded by books that seemed more for show than use, and desired to wait.

Here he remained more than half an hour, before his relation learned in the law appeared. He was a tall, awkward, rawboned man, with a pale face, two small wild grey eyes, and a squirrel-coloured riding-wig; who, having coldly saluted his new acquaintance, took his case, and, looking slightly over it as Orlando explained his situation, he said (drawing in his breath at every word, doubling in his lips so that they disappeared)—Hum, hah; hum—I see . . . . Hum, hum, hum; I observe a!—Hum a!—I perceive a! Yes a—Hum! dean and chapter—hum; so a—Doctor Holly­bourn a, hum—I know him—hum a—know him a little. . . . . . Then rubbing his forehead, added, a respectable—hum! a—man, a—a Doctor Holly­bourn—a man of very considerable,—um, a property, a hum, a——

Orlando, marvelling how this man, with his inverted lips, and the hum-a’s that broke every second 303 word, could be reckoned to make a respectable figure at the bar, now began, as the eloquent counsel was silent, another explanatory speech; which, however, he was not allowed to finish, for Mr. Darby, again assuring him that Doctor Holly­bourn was very rich, and of course very respectable, said, he could not think that—hum, a—the doctor, so worthy a man as he was, would be accessary in—hum a, injuring any one, or keeping the right heir out of his estate; but, hum a—hum a—there must be some misrepre­sentation: but that, however, he was engaged that morning with two briefs, of the utmost importance; therefore he would consider the thing at his leisure, and let him know in a few days—hum a—. —Orlando, then leaving his compliments to Mrs. Darby, hastened away, rather repenting of his visit, and having gained, he thought, nothing by it, but what was likely to end in a hum a!

On his return to Carr’s chambers, his friend accosted him with an inquiry how he liked the special pleader?—A special pleader, d’ye call him? cried Orlando; for Heaven’s sake, wherefore?

Because it is our name, replied Carr, for a particular branch of our profession.

Curse the fellow! cried Orlando—A special pleader! why he cannot speak at all—with his hum a, and hum a.

That would not signify so much, said Carr, if the man was honest; but I may say to you, that, under the most specious profes­sions of honesty, I don’t believe there is a more crafty or mercenary head in Westminster Hall, than that orange tawny caxon of his covers. The hesitation and embarrassment of his oratory was at first the effect of stupidity; but by degrees, as acquired chicane supplies the place of natural talent, he has continued it, because it is 304 a sort of excuse for never giving an immediate or positive answer; and while he is hum a-ing and haw a-ing, he is often considering how he may best make his advantage of the affairs confided to him.

Good God! exclaimed Orlando; and why, then, would you let me apply to such a man?

Nay, replied Carr, how could I pretend to engage you to decline a reference recommended by your mother? Besides you know, my friend, that in our profession we make it a rule never to speak as we think. What? would you have an apothecary declaim against a physician in whose practice it is to occasion the greatest demand for drugs?

Hang your simile! said Orlando: I am afraid you are all rogues together.

More or less, my good friend—some of more sense than others, and some a little, little more conscience—but, for the rest, I am afraid we are all of us a little too much professional rogues; though some of us, as individuals, would not starve the orphan, or break the heart of the widow—but in our vocation, Hal! labouring in our vocation, we give all remorse of that sort to the winds.

Would your profession were annihilated, then! cried Orlando.

Why, I do not believe, answered Carr, that the world would be much the worse if it were; but, my friend, not to be too hard upon us, do reflect on the practices of other profes­sions. The little, smirking fellow, with so smiling an aspect, and so well-powdered a head, whom you see pass in his chariot, administers to his patient the medicines a physician orders, though he knows they are more likely to kill than cure; and, in his account at night, thinks not of the tears of a family whom he has seen in the greatest distress, but of the bill he shall have for medicines and attendance. The merchant, who sits down in his compting-house, and writes to his 305 correspondent at Jamaica, that his ship, the Good Intent of Liverpool, is consigned to him at Port-Royal with a cargo of slaves from the coast of Guinea, calculates the profits of a fortunate adventure, but never considers the tears and blood with which this money is to be raised. He hears not the groans of an hundred human creatures confined together in hold of a small merchantman—he . . . . . .

Do, cried Orlando, dear Carr, finish your catalogue of human crimes, unless you have a mind to make me go home and hang myself.

No man would do that, answered Carr, who had such a lovely wife as you have—she would reconcile me to a much worse world than this is.

The friends then parted; Orlando very far from being satisfied with his visit to his cousin learned in the law—and very uneasy, on his arrival at his mother’s, to observe, in her behaviour to him, increased symptoms of that discontent he had observed the day before.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XLIX

In the British Novelists (two-volume) edition, the chapter number is misprinted as XXV instead of XXI.

this temporary deception, which was . . . only a pious fraud
[Orlando really is a weasel, isn’t he?]

she contrived in his absence to apply to a very considerable linen warehouse in the neighbourhood
[I’ll be darned. I never dreamed Monimia was capable of acting with such initiative.]

twenty or thirty electors, who had been paid for their suffrages at so much a head
[Italics in the original. “Twenty or thirty electors” was the stock description of a pocket borough, but if the author is quoting some specific source, I couldn’t identify it.]

to give him notice, by Mr. Woodford,
comma after “Woodford” supplied from 2nd edition


Early on the following morning Orlando left Winchester


Nearly six weeks more now passed

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.