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The Old Manor House:

CHAPTER L.

Nearly six weeks more now passed; another Term was almost wasted in those contrived delays which destroy all the boasted energy and simplicity of the British laws; when Mr. Carr advised Orlando to see Dr. Holly­bourn himself; which, however disagreeable it was to him, he at length consented to do, at the earnest and repeated request of one who he believed had his real interest much at heart. Orlando had lately suffered so much uneasiness at the deception he had been and was still guilty of towards his mother, that he found it almost impossible for him to continue it; but he was continually withheld from the avowal he wished to make, by 306 the tears of Selina, and by his fears for the effect that a reluctant, or even an affectionate reception might have on the timid spirits of his wife, whose situation increased his tenderness and anxiety; while his reduced finances filled him with the most painful solicitude, as he reflected that, when they were quite exhausted, he should have nothing to support his Monimia and the infant he expected she would give him.

Sacrificing to the remotest hope of benefiting objects so precious to him, his own reluctance to make a very disagreeable visit, he repaired to the residence of Doctor Holly­bourn, at an hour when he was told the reverend Divine was most likely to be at home.

On his arrival, however, he heard the Doctor was out: but as a coach was waiting at the door, he doubted this: and, while he was yet speaking to the footman at the door, another from the top of the stairs called out, Let Counsellor Darby’s coach draw up!—Orlando then stepped forward into the hall, telling the servant that he had very particular business with Doctor Holly­bourn, and could not call again; therefore that he must see him:—at the same moment Mr. Darby himself hurried down stairs, and Orlando met him in the hall.—The lawyer seemed in as much confusion when he met him, as such a lawyer is capable of being: slightly bowing, and muttering something of haste as he passed, he hurried into his coach; while Orlando, without waiting for the return of the footman, who was gone up to announce him to the Doctor, walked up stairs, and entered a very elegant room, where the worthy Doctor, looking more than ever like the uncle of Gil Blas, was squatted on a sopha, with some papers before him, which on the appearance of Orlando (whom he was ordering his servant to dismiss,) he huddled away in some confusion.

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Orlando now approached, and in few words opened his business, laying some stress upon the hardships he had suffered in being deprived of an estate to which his father was undoubtedly next heir, while it went to enrich a body who had no manner of occasion for such an acquisition of wealth.

The divine professor of humility and charity—he who some few months before offered his most accom­plished daughter to the then fortunate Orlando, now deigned not to ask him to sit; but, cocking up his little red nose, and plumping down again on his cushion, he began to snuffle forth his wonder at this application. He said, God forbid, young man, that I, as executor to the late worthy lady of Rayland Hall, whose soul is now with the blessed, should defraud you or any man! But that pious woman, the last remains of an ancient, honourable, and religious family, to be sure knew best what would most contribute to the glory of the Lord, and the good of his creatures, among the poor and needy of whom she left her noble fortune to be divided, and I shall take care most sacredly to perform her worthy wish, and to sanctify her estate to the holy purposes she intended it for.

Orlando, who could not command the indignation he felt against this canting hypocrite, now very loudly and peremptorily demanded to know, Whether Doctor Holly­bourn was not well apprised, that there was a will made by Mrs. Rayland, after that under which his society claimed the estate? and whether two persons had not declared, at Rayland Hall, that they knew it to be so, whose evidence Roker had since been employed to stifle?—To this the Doctor said, He understood he was to reply upon oath in putting in his answer to the bill in chancery, and therefore he should say nothing: but if you, young man, have any thing more to 308 say, you know where to find Mr. Roker, my solicitor; to him I refer you.—Here—Richard!—Peter!—John!—shew this person down!—Orlando, by no means disposed to submit to this cavalier treatment, though the age and profession of the Doctor protected him from the effects of the resentment he felt, began however a more severe remonstrance; which the Doctor not being disposed to listen to, rose from his sopha, and with the grace of a terrier bitch on the point of pupping, he waddled into the next room, and shut the door. Orlando then finding his attempts to argue such a sordid and selfish being into any sense of justice totally useless, left the house, and, returning to his friend Carr, related his adventures; where he had the mortification to have his suspicions confirmed by Carr, that, so far from his application to Mr. Darby being likely to produce any good, there was every appearance that he had entered the lists on the other side—And this, said Carr, has been a frequent practice with him; it being with this worthy man an invariable maxim, inherited I believe from his father, that no man is poor, but from his own faults and follies—for which, though no man has been guilty of more than he has in the former part of his life, he professes to have no pity—And as to law, he is not much out, nor was your honest friend the miller, in saying, that he who has the longest purse is in this country the most frequently successful.

Orlando, with an heart not much lightened by the transactions of the day, returned to his lodgings to a late dinner.—Monimia was ill, a circumstance that added to the gloom that hung over him: she made light of it however, and endeavoured to restore to him that cheerfulness, of which, she observed with great uneasiness, he had been some 309 time deprived; but it is difficult to communicate to others sensations we do not feel ourselves.—She smiled, but tears were in her eyes—She assured him she suffered nothing; but he saw her pale and languid, and now was confirmed in what he had long fancied, that the air of London did not agree with her; and it was with inexpressible anguish he reflected, that now, when the tenderest attention to her health was necessary, he was deprived of the means of procuring her country air, which, as spring advanced, she seemed to languish for.—London, where she had never been before, was unpleasant, and now disgusting to her; but she never betrayed this but by accident, and wished Orlando to believe that with him every place was to her a heaven.

He now more seldom went to his mother’s than he used to do; because, since her dialogue with Mr. Woodford, all her tenderness for him did not prevent her teasing him with questions, and very earnestly pressing him to return to his usual apartment in her house. This somewhat estranged him from his family; but in absenting himself, he found no peace; for though he saw less of his mother and sisters than he used to do, he was as fondly attached to them as ever: and while he thought he saw, in the conduct of his mother, new reasons to adhere to that secrecy which it had already given him so much pain to observe, he imputed it all to the influence of the unfeeling and mercenary Mr. Woodford, and, in his most gloomy moods, wished that so unhappy a being as he was had never been born. A thousand times he repented of his having ever left Rayland Hall, to which unfortunate absence all his subsequent disap­pointments were owing; and sometimes lamented, though he could not repent, that he had married his Monimia, 310 without being able to shield her, as his wife, from the poverty of her former lot.

Nothing gave him more mortification, than to find that his mother was not satisfied with his conduct in regard to Mr. Darby; and would not be persuaded that it was the affluence of his opposers and not his doubts about the cause, that prevented his engaging in it. Mr. Woodford, taking advantage of the faith his sister reposed in him as under­standing business, had so harassed her with represen­tations of Orlando’s neglect, the inexperience of Carr, and the want of skill in the counsel he employed, that Mrs. Somerive now often pressed him to leave the management of the whole to his uncle, and to withdraw it from Carr; and wearied by these importunities, and by the delays which the adverse party seemed determined still to contrive, Orlando was sometimes half tempted to give up the pursuit, and, with the little money he yet had left, to retire to some remote village, where wholly unknown, he might work at any certain, though laborious business, for the support of his wife and child:—but when he saw the tears that his mother shed in speaking to him of his brother Philip, who had entirely deserted his family, after having, as far as he could, undone it, he could not determine to plunge her into equal, perhaps greater uneasiness on his account; and he then resolved rather to suffer any pain himself, than to fail in those duties which he felt he ought to fulfil.

It was in one of the most melancholy moods, which the increasing difficulties of his situation inspired, that Orlando, sitting alone in the little dining room of his lodgings, when Monimia’s indisposition confined her to her bed, that he composed a little ode to Poverty, which he had hardly put upon paper, when Carr came in, to whom he 311 carelessly shewed it. Carr, who had a taste for poetry, desired a copy of it; to which Orlando replied, that he was too idle to copy it, but that he might have the original, for he should himself perhaps never look at it again. Carr put it into his pocket, and, asking if he might do what he would with it? Orlando answered, Yes, and thought no more about it.

Carr had often told Orlando, as they talked over his situation together, that he had literary talents which might be employed to advantage; and he said he should get acquainted with some of the writers of the day, who were the most esteemed, or at least the most fashionable, who would help him into notice.

Nay, said Orlando, if what I write will not help me into notice, I am afraid, my friend, the trade of authorship, which will not do without recommen­dation, will be but little worth following.

It is not certainly, replied his friend, the very best trade that can be followed in any way, but yet it is not so despicable as you suppose:—for example, if you could write a play now, and get it received by the managers; and if it should be successful.........

Dear Carr, cried Orlando, how may ifs are here!—I have no dramatic talents; nor, if I had, do I know one of the managers; nor could I conquer, by dint of attendance, the difficulties which, I have heard you say, they throw in the way of authors,—I should probably not be successful.

And yet, said Carr, there have been very successful authors, who have not the natural turn to poetry which you seem to me to have; indeed, who have none; but who have contrived, by bringing together a few scenes without any plot, a scattering of equivocal expressions, and some songs, (which, being set to pretty music, we do not discover are not even 312 rhyme,) have really had wonderful success; and those who have succeeded once, get into fashion, and succeed in a second piece, because they have done so in the first.

They must, however, said Orlando, have more genius than you are willing to allow them.

You shall judge, if you will, said Carr, of them, as far as conversation will enable you to judge.—A relation of mine is a constant attendant at the conversations of one of our celebrated authoresses—I have sometimes gone thither with him, and have been often invited to go since my first introduction, either with him, alone, or with any literary friend. The lady is never so well pleased as when her room is crowded with men, who either are, or fancy they are, men of genius. She professes to dote upon, to adore genius in our sex; though, in her own, she will hardly allow it to any body but herself.

Orlando hesitated, at first, whether it was worth while to give up Monimia’s company for an evening, for the sake of being introduced into this society, of which he did not form any very great expectations; but Carr, who saw how much his spirits were depressed, urged him to try the experiment. The assembly is not, I own, said he, the very first of the kind in London; for, to the first, neither my relation nor I have any chance of being admitted; but, I assure you, the lady of whom I speak is celebrated for her wit, and for the novelty of her poetry, if not for that of her plays; and you will find some people there, who may be worth being acquainted with.

Orlando then consented to go on the following Friday, and Carr attended him accordingly.

He was introduced to a little ill-made woman, with a pale complexion, pitted with the small-pox; two defects which her attachment to literature did not prevent her from taking all possible pains to conceal: 313 there was in her air a conviction of self-consequence, which predominated over the tender languor she affected—Indeed it was towards the gentlemen only that this soft sensibility was apparently exhibited: Ladies, and especially those who had any pretence to those acquirements in which she believed herself to excel, were seldom or never admitted; and she professed to hold them in contempt.

Though no longer young, she believed herself still an object of affection and admiration; and that the beauties of her mind were irresistible to all men of taste.—They were indeed of a singular cast: but as there are collectors of grotesque drawings, and books, no otherwise valuable than because they are old; so there were minds who contemplated hers with some degree of admiration; who thought her verses were really poetry, and that her dramas (the productions of writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries modernized) had really merit. As she was by no means insensible to perfection, if it appeared in the form of a young man, she was immediately struck with the figure and address of Orlando; and, amidst the something which was called wit and literary conversation that now began, she addressed herself particularly to him—inquired into his studies, and his taste in poetry—besought him to favour her with some of his productions, and seemed disposed to elect him to emulate, if not to rival, the Florios and Philanders with whom she held a tender corre­spondence in the newspapers.

Orlando, naturally of a gay temper, and easily seizing the ridiculous, entered at once into this singular character; and before he had been half an hour in the company of this modern Centlivre, she declared in a loud whisper to Carr, whom she beckoned across the room to come to her, that he 314 was the most divine creature she had ever conversed with. A gentleman was now announced by the name of Mr. Lorrain, at whose arrival the lady of the house expressed great pleasure; and said to Orlando, Oh, Mr. Somerive! I shall now have an opportunity of introducing you to one of the most sublime geniuses of the age—a man of the warmest fancy, of the most exquisite wit.—Orlando looked towards the door where this phænomenon was expected to enter, and saw, to his utter astonishment, a gentleman who seemed to him to be—Warwick.

He remained rivetted to his chair, gazing on the stranger, who approached the lady of the house without noticing her guests. After he had however paid her some very extravagant compliments on her looks, and received her answers, which were designed to be at once tender and spirited, she desired to introduce him to a newly-acquired friend of hers; and Mr. Lorrain, turning his eyes to the young man who sat next her, discovered immediately, by the wonder expressed in his looks, that in this new acquaintance of hers, he had found an old acquaintance of his own.

A few confused words were all that either the one or the other was at first able to utter. Orlando, not much pleased with a change of name, which he thought boded no good to his sister, inquired very earnestly after her:—his brother-in-law, in increased confusion, which he seemed endeavouring to conquer, answered, that she was well: and then, as he found Orlando in no humour to connive at the deception, which for some reason or other he chose to practise, as to his name and situation, he took him by the arm, and begged he would walk with him to the other end of the room, where he told him, in a hurried way, that he was but lately come to England, after a variety of distresses, and being 315 afraid of his creditors, and for other reasons which he would hereafter give him, he had changed his name for the present; of which he desired him not to speak in the company they were in. But my sister, sir, said Orlando, where is my sister?—has she too changed her name?—Of course, replied Warwick, who seemed hurt at the vehemence with which he spoke.—Well, sir, but by whatever name you choose to have her called, you will allow me immediately to see her—Is she in town?

Yes, replied Warwick coldly; here is a card that will direct you to her—All I request is your silence this evening in regard to my change of name; a matter that surely cannot be material to any one here.

Orlando assented to this, and they returned together towards Mrs. Manby, the lady of the house, to whom Warwick, assuming again the name of Lorrain, said, in a careless way, that he now owed her another obligation, by having been introduced by her means, to an old friend, for whom ever since his arrival in London, he had been inquiring in vain. The conversation then became general. Some other visitors arrived, some departed; and Orlando, impatient to have some private conversation with Warwick, asked if he would accompany him and his friend Carr?—To this he assented; but Mrs. Manby would not release them till they had promised to visit her again the following week.

Carr, as soon as he learned from Orlando who Warwick really was, took leave of him, under pretence of business in another part of the town; and as the evening was fine, Orlando and his brother-in-law walked homewards together.

As soon as they were alone, the former expressed his surprise at meeting thus unexpectedly, and 316 under another name, one who had so long been given up for lost; and his still greater wonder, that it was possible for his sister to be in London, without having seen or made any inquiry after her mother and sisters, or her family.

Suspend your astonishment, Somerive, said Warwick, or at least suspend your blame: when you hear all we have suffered, and all we have contended with, you will find at least no occasion for the latter; and though I own it appears extraordinary that my wife has not yet sought her family, that circumstance will seem less so, when you know that it is not above three weeks since we came out of Scotland: and that, after our long detention in America, we returned to Europe, without being able to return to England—and have been in Spain, in Portugal, in Ireland, and at length in Scotland.—When I can relate to you in detail all these adventures*, you will find more to pity, than to reproach us for.

* Which may perhaps appear in a detached work.

But, my dear Warwick, said Orlando, who already forgave what he had before thought there was cause to resent, will not our Isabella see her mother now?—Will not she give this inexpressible comfort to a tender parent, who has never ceased to regret her loss?

You must settle that with her, my friend, to-morrow, when I beg you will breakfast with us. Your sister has two little boys to present to you, and will be delighted, I know, to see you, but it must not be without some preparation. Orlando promised to be with them at breakfast; and on Warwick’s expressing a wish to hear how he was himself situated, he gave a brief detail of all that had happened from their last parting at Rayland Hall to the present time.

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Warwick heard him with attention, and then said, So my dear boy! it does not appear that thy piety has succeeded better than my rashness:—I have been disinherited and bedevilled by my uncle for marrying the girl I liked—and you, who sacrificed your own inclinations to your virtue, have been disinherited, for these orthodox fellows in their cauliflower wigs and short aprons—Why, you could not have been worse served, if you had taken off your little nymph with you to America, as I took off mine.

Yes, surely, replied Orlando, I should have been worse off; for I should not have what is now and will be, in whatever extremity I may be, my greatest consolation, the consciousness that I have never, to gratify myself, given pain to those who had a claim to my duty; and that if I am unfortunate, I have at least not deserved my ill fortune.

Bravo! cried Warwick—

“’Tis not in mortals to command success;

But we’ll do more, Sempronius—we’ll deserve it.”

I wish you joy, my young Cato: but for my part, I find I have no qualms of conscience about bilking the old boy in Grosvenor Place—I rather think I have done him a kindness, and perhaps one day or other he may find it out.

In the mean time, however, I suppose General Tracy remains inexorable.

Faith! answered Warwick, I have never tried; and one reason of my taking another name was, that he might not know I was in England.

They were now arrived at a street where, as Warwick’s lodgings were near Leicester Square, and those of Orlando in a street near Oxford Street, it was necessary for them to part for the evening. Orlando, whose affection for Isabella was already revived, sent her a thousand kind remembrances; 318 and Warwick, in return, told him, he longed to be introduced to the nymph of the inchanted tower, whom he never had an opportunity of seeing at Rayland Hall. Orlando, after he had left him, considered with astonishment the volatility of his temper—His person was a little altered by change of climate; but his spirits were not at all depressed by a change of situation so great as between being the heir of General Tracy, and a wandering adventurer, for he did not conceal from his friend that such was his present situation; that it was in consequence of his having written something for the newspapers, that he had become acquainted with Mrs. Manby, who had answered them; and that he was now soliciting the managers to accept of a play he had finished. The humiliating attendance which he owned this pursuit seemed likely to render necessary, was added to the reasons he had already given Orlando why he wished to be known at present only as Mr. Lorrain.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter L

he who some few months before offered his most accomplished daughter to the then fortunate Orlando
[Nonsense. It happened before Orlando went to America, and must therefore have been at least two years ago.]


In retiring to the room Mrs. Fleming had ordered to be prepared


On his return home, Orlando related to his wife

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.