The Old Manor House:



After a pause, sufficiently expressive of the difficulty with which he thought, Orlando said, that there was at the neighbouring town an Attorney with whom his father had been long connected; and who at his setting out in life had received many favours from the family of Somerive.—To him he wished to send—or rather I will go to him, Madam—for why should I be longer troublesome to you? He then got up; but the young person, with great gentleness and good nature, said, You are not able, I am sure, to walk so far—if you are not too much wounded by the recollections that surround you here, to stay, I beg you to take some refreshment, while I send a servant to the gentleman; he shall go on horseback, and will soon be back. As Orlando did indeed doubt whether he was able to walk so far as the town, and an idea struck him, that while the messenger was gone, he could visit the family vault, in the church of West Wolverton, where the remains of his father were deposited, he accepted, after a slight apology, of the obliging offer of his hostess; who bringing him pen and ink, he wrote with an uncertain and trembling hand—“Mr. O. Somerive being returned from America, and quite ignorant till his arrival here of the many alterations in this neighbourhood, will esteem it a favour if Mr. Brock will oblige him with his company for half an hour—at the house formerly his father’s at West Wolverton.”

Having sent away this note, and being prevailed upon to take the refreshment he had at first refused; he told his new acquaintance, that he had a wish to visit two or three places in the adjoining village, and would, with her permission, return to 183 the house in time to meet Mr. Brock, if he were so obliging as to attend upon his message.

The servant being sent away, Orlando set forth to visit the tomb of his father.—He knew well the spot: it was in the chancel of the church, and the entrance was marked by a stone, with the arms of Somerive and Rayland quartered upon it. The sexton, who at first appeared to have lost all recollection of him, gave him the keys as soon as he knew him—and the unhappy wanderer, throwing himself on the ground, gave way to that grief which he had hitherto checked.—Now it was, however, that he felt the reward of his dutiful conduct; for he was conscious that, except in the single instance in regard to his sister Isabella, he had never wilfully disobeyed his father; and he felt too, that if by taking Monimia with him, or by any other act of disobedient ingratitude, he had felt himself accessary to that affliction which he too well understood had hastened the death of his parent, that sorrow, which was now unmixed with self-reproach, would then have driven him to distraction.—As he kissed and took a last leave of this deposit of the ashes of his family, he recollected, that his affection to the lost friend whom he deplored would be shewn rather by his tenderness and duty towards his mother and sisters, than by giving himself up to useless despair—Roused by this reflection to more manly thoughts, he arose from the ground, and his heart having been relieved by the indulgence he had thus given to his grief, he quitted the church with a deep sigh, and determined to walk as quickly as he could round Rayland park—having an unconquerable desire to visit the turret of Monimia, which he thought he might do in the day-time, by letting himself in through the same door where he had entered before; and as 184 he knew every part of the house, finding his way thither without alarming the vigilance of the old woman who kept the house. In this intention he traversed the outside of the park paling very hastily, when the sight of the north lodge and the cottage near it, brought to his mind the circumstances of Monimia’s letter; who there described her meeting with Sir John Belgrave; and he thought the woman of the cottage might give him some particulars, which he hitherto had not been able to learn.—Entering therefore, and making her, not without much difficulty, recollect him; he was forced to bear all her wondering, and all her inquiries, before he could prevail upon her to give him the following particulars:

Lord, Sir! why now I tell you as well as I can all how these bad things have come to pass. In the first place, after you was gone, somehow there seemed no content at the Hall—I heard say that Madam began to droop as ’twere a fortnight or two afterwards; and was never pleas’d with nothing that could be done for her—And there came out a story about Pattenson—the rights of the matter, my husband says, never were cleared up; but however, to the surprise of every body, my Lady she believed some story about him; and though ’twas reported he tried to turn the tables upon Madam Lennard, sure enough he was dismissed from the Hall for good; but for certain not like a disgraced servant; for Madam gave him a power of good things, and his farm as he took was stocked from the Hall; and sure enough he had feather’d his nest well one way or other; for he died worth a mort of money.

Pattenson is dead then? said Orlando.

Lord help you, yes! answered the good woman—Why he died of the gout in his stomach just afore my lady—But if you’ll have a little patience 185 I’ll go on with my story. So Pattenson went away; and after that Madam Lennard seem’d somehow to govern my lady more than ever; yet folks said, that it was not so much she, as them there Rokers; uncle and nephew, that was put in by her as stewards; and to be sure there was for a long time strange talk—and they said, that Madam Lennard was jealous of young Roker, he as she afterwards married—and so sent away her niece’s daughter, that sweet pretty young creature that you remember at the Hall?

And what is become of her? cried Orlando eagerly—Whither was she sent?

Why that nobody knew nothing about at the time, as every body saw Madam Lennard was shy of speaking of her: but folks have said since, that she was gone up to London, with some Lord or Baron Knight: for my part, as I says to my husband, I don’t care to give credit to such scandalous stories upon mere hearsay. However, to go on with my story;—By then Madam Lennard had sent this poor thing away, every body thought how the affair would go—at least folks about the house says, they saw it plain enough—So then, your poor father, who had been ailing a long time, he was taken sick, and when all the doctors had given him over, he sent to beg Mrs. Rayland would come to him; and though Mrs. Lennard she did, as I’ve heard say, all she could to hinder my lady’s going, she went; and though nobody knows what passed, because nobody was in the room but Madam Somerive, your good mother, yet every body said, that the ’squire got a power better after he had seen the old lady, and said his mind was easy; and then every body thought he would recover—and it was given out, that the ’squire had seen my lady’s will, or, however, 186 that she had told him the contents, and that she had made you her heir.

Me? said Orlando—alas! no!—

Well, but that was the notion of the country, and I am sure, there’s nobody in all this here part of our country but what heartily wishes it had been true—Well, and so ’squire Somerive he went on for a little while, getting better and better; till something fresh broke out, about your brother, Mr. Philip: and so upon that he grew worse again, and died in a few days. Oh! what sad affliction all the family was in! but Madam, at the Hall, was more kind to them than she used to be; for she sent to fetch them up to the Hall the day of the funeral, and kept them there three or four days, till the young ’squire hearing how his father was dead, came down—then your mother and sisters went back to their house; but a-lack-a-day! he soon began to make sad alterations, and was driving a bargain for the sale of the estate to ’squire Stockton, almost, folks said, before his father was cold in his grave.—

Orlando clasped his hands eagerly together, and drew a convulsed sigh; but he was unable to interrupt the narration, and the woman went on—

So, Sir, just about that time Madam Rayland she was taken ill—yet it did not seem, somehow, that there was much the matter with her; but she drooped, and drooped, and pined, and pined—and people said, as saw her sometimes, that is, the footmen who waited before she took to her bed, and the maids as sat up with her, especially Rachel, that she honed so after you, and used to send every day to your mother to know if she had heard of you; and sent for her to come to her, and gave her letters for you to desire you would come back; for she mistrusted, somehow, that Lennard had never sent the letters she wrote to you before; and all the people said, 187 that Lennard, with all her art, had not been able to keep matters so snug, about her lover, but that her lady had an inkling of the matter—And they said, too, that Madam was not half so fond of her as she used to be; but that she had been used to her so long, and had been so in the custom of letting her do what she would, that now, as she was so old, and sick, and feeble, and out of spirits, she had not resolution to speak her mind.—Well, Madam died, and then—Good Lord, what a work there was at Hall!—

How do you mean? said Orlando.

Why, your brother Philip sent to take possession of every thing as heir at law; but old Roker and his nephew would not let him or his people come in; as they said they had a will of Madam Rayland’s, and he must come and hear it read. Your mother tried, as I heard say, to pacify your brother; because she knew, or however believed for certain, that your honour’s self was the heir—So with that, upon a day appointed by these Rokers, who had possession of the house, your poor mother, and your two sisters, and the young ’squire your brother, they went to the Hall, and there, as I heard say, was the two Rokers and Madam Lennard, and the servants, all assembled; and so young Roker took upon him to read the will, though your brother took a young lawyer with him from London, one Counsellor Staply; and there the will was read; and instead of leaving you the heir, it was a will made ever so long before, when Madam Rayland was out of humour with Mr. Somerive: and so there, it seems, that she gave five thousand pounds to Pattenson if he outlived her, but he was dead, and there was an end of that; and two thousand to the old coachman, who is as rich as a Jew already—and a matter of ten thousand to Mrs. Lennard—And not only so, but all her clothes—and ever so many pieces of fine plate; 188 and a diamond ring—and the Hampshire farms, which ben’t worth so little as four hundred pounds a year—And then, all Madam’s fine laces and sattin gowns, and her sisters’ too, for none of them had ever been given away—They say that ’twas not so little as six or seven hundred pounds worth of clothes and laces! and all the fine household linen—Such beautiful great damask table-cloths and napkins—and such great chests full of sheets; besides a mort of things that I cannot remember, not I—But the great house and all the noble estates in this county, she gave to the Bishop, as I suppose you know, and to the Dean and Chapter, for charitable uses, and to build a sort of alms-house—But it’s very well known that the greatest part of it will go into their own pockets—and I cannot think for my share, and my husband he says the same, why a duce Madam gave her money to them there parsons, when they always take care to have enough out of the farmers and poor men, let who will go without.

A deep sigh was again extorted from Orlando, and the good gossip remarking it, said: Ah, Sir, to be sure you may well sigh!—Such a fine estate! and so justly your right by all accounts; and then after promising your father so faithfully too! Poor Madam Somerive, your good mother, was in very sad trouble—Philip he raved and ranted, and made a sad to-do, but there was no remedy; them two Rokers had got possession of the house, and after the funeral, I reckon, they thought to have kept it, as stewards to the new owners; but whip! the parsons come upon them, and packed them off; and they’ve put in old Betty Grant and her son just to look after it, and open the windows—But, Lord! I’m sure the place looks so mollencholy as makes my very heart ach to pass it.—But, however, to go on with my story of all the troubles of your poor 189 dear mother—After this, a week or so, news came by a negur man as went with that young captain as your sister Belle ran away with, that he and miss were drowned or cast away at some place beyond sea—I can’t remember rightly the name of it; but, however, that they were lost and that you were killed in battle by the wild Ingines; this man told my husband he saw you dead with his own eyes, and your skull cleft with one of their swords.—

And where, said Orlando, is this man now?—Why, Madam took him, replied the woman, and when the family left the country, he went up to London with them—

And how long have they been gone?

Nigh two months, as well as I can remember; poor dear ladies! I’m sure we poor folks miss them sadly, and so we do the Hall.——

And my brother, inquired Orlando, what is become of my brother?

Oh, as for that, answered the woman, nobody knows; and I must say this, ’squire, that if you’d a been like him, nobody would have been so sorry as they were, that Madam gave her money elsewhere; for would you think it?—at the very time he came down here to take possession of his house, after the poor gentleman his father’s death, and when all the family was in such affliction—what did he do, but bring down that nasty flaunting hussey Bet Richards, that was took from the parish work-house to be housemaid at the Hall—whom he have kept in London all’s one as a lady, and dressed her up better than any of his sisters—and she’s as impudent and proud!—I’d have all such wicked toads sent to beat hemp—and every body has said ’twas a thousand pities she was not in her old place the work-house again, instead of prancing about as she did, to break poor dear Madam Somerive’a 190 heart; who, though she seemed to bear it all with patience, and to take no notice, was quite as I may say, sunk and weighed down with one sorrow’s falling so fast upon another—and, at last, when she found the house and estate and all the goods were sold, and that she and her daughters must leave it, and then, just afterwards, when the negur’s news came, she seemed to be quite, quite gone!—and I heard say, her health was in a bad state after she got to London.

Dreadfully affected by this account of his mother, all of whose sufferings he felt, however coarse and simple the relation of them, Orlando now again inquired of his informer, if she knew where his mother and sisters lived in town?—She said, No; there was a neighbour’s daughter gone up lately to London to live with them as a servant; whose friends knew the direction, and to them she would send if he would stay. Orlando thanked her—and then expressed some wonder that his mother, who had always disliked London, should fix there. To which the woman said, Why, Sir, I’ve heard say, that the reason of that was, that Madam’s brother, the London Merchant, insisted upon it; and another reason was, because she thought that if she was not always at his elbow, your brother would go after his pleasures and that; and so neglect the great law-suit.

What law-suit?—said Orlando, who had forgotten at that moment the vague information he had received from the miller.

Why you must know, Sir, replied the woman, that when first my lady died, there was a great talk about the country, that there was some black doings about the will; for from what she had said to your father, and from a great many other things she had said, and from her having lawyers from 191 London come down about three years and a half ago, when folks thought she made a new will in your favour; there were those, and in the house too, who didn’t scruple to say, that the real will was made away with by them Rokers, and that an old will was proved—So your brother he was advised by Counsellor Staply to go to law;—but he said if there was another will, it was in your favour, not in his; and he’d as lieve the parsons, or the Devil had the estate as you.—However, when a little while after news came of your death, then he went to law directly; because, he said, if there was such a will, he was your heir-at-law, and the old woman’s too:—and so he is suing the Rokers; that is, Mrs. Lennard and her husband; for you know the old soul took to herself a young husband at last.

Orlando expressing his surprise at this inquired where they lived—Oh! answered she, when they found they were bit as to continuing in the stewardship, and that Archdeacon Holly­bourn had provided another for my Lord Bishop and the Parsons, and was to overlook the estate himself, Mr. and Mrs. Roker went away to live in Hampshire, upon the estate my lady gave them there; and there, I under­stand, they live quite like great people, and are visited and noticed by all the quality; only Madam I hear is terribly jealous;—and they say her young husband is not over and above good-humoured to her, though he got such a great fortune by her.

The good woman seemed never weary of talking; but having at length exhausted all she could recollect, and promising to procure a direction from her neighbour, and send it down in a few minutes to West Wolverton, Orlando took his leave. And as, just as he left the cottage, the clock in it struck three, he was afraid of intruding upon the benevolence 192 of his new friend, at the house once his father’s, if he left her long with the lawyer whom he had sent for; and therefore, instead of going then to make his mournful visit to the turret, he returned to West Wolverton, where he found the man sent to the town had been some time returned, and had brought from his father’s former friend, the attorney, a note to this purport—

“Mr. Brock’s compts: imagines some mistake—has not the honour to know any gentleman of the name of Somerive, except Philip S. Esq. late of West Wolverton—hopes to be excused, being particularly engaged.”

This note completed the distress of Orlando, who saw that he should now be taken for an impostor where he was, and obtain no credit where he expected it to carry him to London, where he now most earnestly wished to be, because there only could he hope to see his family, or to have any explanation of the hints so darkly given by the labourer’s wife—hints, which among the complicated misfortunes which surrounded him, gave him the most insupportable pain.—Gone with some lord! Impossible—Yet the very idea was distraction. He was believed dead. He regretted that he had not asked whether Monimia heard of his death, not at that moment recollecting that his informer’s knowledge hardly went so far; and that, by her account, Monimia was gone before the death of Mrs. Rayland, and before the arrival of the intelligence brought by Perseus the negro: yet again he recollected, that if Selina and Monimia still corresponded, she must immediately have known it; and thus by all he loved in the world he was considered as dead.

To undeceive them as soon as he could was what 193 appeared most necessary; but how to do that he knew not. He could not bear to beg of any of the neighbouring gentlemen—indeed he knew none of them but Stockton (who was the last man in the world he desired to meet), for all the rest were at a great distance, and the elder Somerive had never sought their acquaintance: some were too expensive for him, and others too ignorant to afford him any pleasure in their society. By the richest he was contemned as a petty gentleman; and by the rest envied as the future possessor of Rayland Hall—and therefore very little intercourse had ever passed between them and the family at West Wolverton. While Orlando, whom his hospitable acquaintance had the consideration to leave by himself, was meditating on his wretched and forlorn situation, a young man was introduced into the room, in whom he immediately recollected a clerk to the lawyer to whom his unsuccessful note had been written; who, immediately acknowledging him, changed as he was, related, that Mr. Brock having shewn him the note, and declaimed against it as an imposition, it being, he said, perfectly well known that Orlando Somerive was dead—the young man thought he recollected his hand, there having been formerly some degree of intimacy between them; and unwilling to dispute the point with Brock, who was, he told him, solicitor in the depending cause between the Bishop and the Somerive family, he had made some excuse of business, and came to see himself whether it was his old friend, or some one wishing to represent him.

All the difficulties which Orlando had to encounter as to going to London were now removed at once—This young man, Mr. Dawson, offered not only to supply him with money but clothes; and they agreed to proceed together to the town in the 194 dusk, as Orlando did not wish to be known, nor indeed to be seen, in his present condition. This being settled, Orlando would immediately have taken leave of his humane hostess; but she entreated both him and his friend to stay dinner, with a frankness and good humour which Dawson was less disposed than Orlando to resist. As soon as it was nearly dark she ordered him to be accommodated with a horse, and sent a servant with him to bring it back.

With a thousand grateful acknowledgments Orlando took his leave; and with an agonizing sigh left, as he believed for ever, the paternal house and the neighbourhood of the Hall, without having been able to indulge his melancholy by visiting the turret.

His friend, though he could give him very little information more than he had already received, and none about Monimia, yet soothed and consoled him; and, having equipped him with a coat, hat and linen of his own, as they were nearly of a size, he put five guineas into his hand; and, desiring to hear from him, saw him into the stage-coach, which, at six every morning, set out from the town where they were for London.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XLII

The 2nd edition misnumbers this as Chapter II, the same as the previous chapter; it’s really Chapter III of its volume. The following chapter will be correctly numbered IV.

with great gentleness and good nature,
text has goodnature as one word
[Corrected from 2nd edition.]

the arms of Somerive and Rayland quartered upon it
[Uhm . . . Why? To date, no Somerive has been recognized as a Rayland heir.]

Pattenson is dead then? said Orlando.
[“With poorly concealed glee”, the author forgot to add.]

her niece’s daughter
[In general, the book has been content to refer to Monimia as Mrs. Rayland’s niece, full stop. But when we first met them, early in Volume I, the family relationship was spelled out clearly.]

when Madam Rayland was out of humour with Mr. Somerive
text has Madame
[Corrected from 2nd edition to agree with the dozens of other occurrences of “Madam”.]

An apprehension of the truth, vague as it was

The variety of uneasy emotions which passed through the mind of Orlando, as he journeyed towards London

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.