Bull to himself, 6 Where can the his usual deference for the peerage, scoundrels be going? I'll return home “I beseech you to forget all these and mount my horse, I should really matters for the present, and to conlike to watch them !”.

sider what can be done to avert an Mr. Bull did return home, and immediate danger. There has been mounted his horse; after which he a large meeting of reformers in Cokefollowed in the trail of the procession, town to-day, and they are coming which, to say the truth, it was no five thousand strong, to tell your hard matter to take up. IIe was led lordship, I suspect, that the decision by these means out of the borough, to which your house has come will and away along the London Road, till not be submitted to by the people of the rival lodges of Welverton and England. I pray God they may not Altamont rose up before him. There have any worse designs !" was still plenty of daylight, for the Marching here," replied his lordsun had not yet sunk under the

ship, on such an errand as that? horizon; yet Nir. Bull saw the head Why, man, the fact of a division of the column turn up the Welverton having taken place could not be avenue not without dismay.

known in Coketown earlier than a “ Are they going to sack that poor couple of hours ago. I myself travel. man's house?” cried he aloud.


led post from the house, and we did heavens, I'll try whether I can't head not break up till seven in the mornthem! lle has brought all this evil. ing !" upon us, without doubt; but he has “ I know nothing about all that, a good heart at bottom, and I must my lord,” replied Mr. Bull; “ but not suffer a hair of his empty head the fact is as I state it ; and my to be hurt, if I can help it."

humble advice to your lordship is, So saying he wheeled round-put to get my lady and the family out of his horse to its speed-gained a little the way as soon as possible; because side entrance, which the reformers such a mob is sure to frighten them, either did not know or had over- if no worse come of it." looked, and, cutting through the " The ungrateful scoundrels !” park, arrived at the hall-door long cried his lordship; " the idiots, too, ere the leading files of the proces- to think of intimidating me! I fancied sion had began to emerge from the they had known better. But I dare beech-wood.

say you are right. We'll get the “ Is his lordship at home ?” cried women out of the way at once, and he to the servant who answered the then let them take care how they bell.

begin the fray; some of them may “ lle is, sir.”

come out of it not quite so sound as “ Tell him I want to speak to him. they imagine." Mr. Bull desires to see him instantly So spake Lord Boroughdale as he --instantly, and alone !"

turned round to recommend flight to The man went off, leaving the his wife and daughter, and to arm worthy alderman seated on his horse's himself and his servants; but his back in front of the great en- lordship found, on making the extrance. He soon returned again, periment, first, that the ladies would Lord Boroughdale walking smartly not stir a foot; and next, that his after him.

pampered menials absolutely refused My excellent friend, Mr. Alder- to handle the weapons which he man Bull, I am delighted to see you!" would have forced upon them. To exclaimed Lord Boroughdale, hold- say the truth, we cannot pretend to ing out his hand. “ Pray dismount, be surprised at the latter of these and dine with us. We are quite

contingencies, however much the foralone ; indeed I have only just ar- mer may grieve us. There is, perrived, and I shall be glad of the haps, no class of persons living-we opportunity of discussing with you speak of the class, of course, making the prospects of our unfortunate all manner of allowances for honourcountry. You know that we have able exceptions--so little warlike as put off the evil day

domestic servants; and when their “ My lord ! my lord !" interrupted masters propose to array them against John Bull, hurriedly, the excitement numerical odds, they almost invariof the moment hurrying him out of ably find that there is no pluck in


[ocr errors]

them. And truly, in this particular instance, the reluctance of some twelve men to take up arms against three or four thousand is not very strenuously to be condemned; for just as his lordship had called them together, and, throwing open what he called his armory, had invited them to provide themselves each with a weapon, the head of the column of reformers appeared, passing beneath the boughs of the trees with the regularity of a trained corps, and covering all, and much more than all, the length of road which was open to the vision of the inmates of Welverton.

“ Please your lordship,” said the butler, diffidently, " don't ask us to fire upon such a crowd as that. They'll eat us all up, house and all, in a moment! I'm sure that I for one cannot take upon myself the responsibility of shedding the first blood !"

“ Nor I! Nor I! Nor I!" shouted the rest, one after another; while all, with one accord, shrank back from handling either fowling-piece or sword ; and retreated, certainly not in good order, towards the door.

“ And you'll leave me and your lady to be murdered without so much as striking a blow in our defence ?-you scoundrels !” cried his lordship.

“ No, my lord, nothing of the sort,” replied the butler. Englishmen never murder in cold blood; and if we offer no resistance, our lives at least will be spared. But let us begin by killing one or two of them, and then we may look out for our own necks !"

“ So I am to be plundered, am I; and not one of all you lazy rascals, whom I have fed, and clothed, and housed for years, will stand up in defence of my property ?"

* Property is very valuable," was the answer, “ but life is far more so. Better be plundered in a whole skin than a broken one."

“Get out of my sight, you chickenhearted miscreants !” exclaimed his lordship. “ By heavens, though I stand alone, I will defend my house! An Englishman's house is his castle ; and even these miscreants knowing as much, will come to the attack with hearts only half up to their work. Get away with you, you mean-spirited

and over-fed menials! I'll go myself and face them all, see if I don't !

Away went the servants, too happy to obey the spirit of their master's order, to examine with an over-scrupulous nicety the meaning of the terms in which it was expressed. And away, also, ran Lord Boroughdale to his lady's boudoir, that he might beseech her, with his sweet Evelyn, to escape while there was yet time, and find shelter at the game-keeper's lodge, far away in the glade at the back of the park. But his lordship found Lady Boroughdale as determined and at least as cool as himself.

" Fly, and leave you to incur all the danger alone? No, Boroughdale, I should be ashamed to do that ; nay, even our gentle Evy here would blush for her mother if she did. But I beseech you to command yourself. The very servants, you see, have fallen off from you ; and surely it is unnecessary to point out that your single arm could effect nothing against thousands."

“But they have no weapons, Agnes. What can they do without these ?" " Whatever they please against

Take my advice, dear Boroughdale. Go out to them unarmed; speak them fair; tell them that you have given your vote according to your conscience, and will so give it again ; and that you resist the passing of this bill, because you are sure that if passed, it would work no good to them, but harm. Tell them that you might, if you were so disposed, call them seriously to account for such a breach of the peace ; but that knowing the principle on which they act, you are willing, whatever may be your opinion of its fallacy, to deal tenderly by them. Then bid them go home, and I much deceive myself if you don't find them as tractable and obedient as ever.”

By Jove, Agnes, you are a perfect heroine !" replied his lordship. “I am sure that your advice is a sound one, and I will follow it. Yet I beseech you flee-you and Evy!"

“Indeed, we will do nothing of the sort! Come, Evy, we will attend your father to the lawn. sight of us is sure to operate advantageously, even upon these misguided men."

It was to no purpose that Lord

one man.

The very


Boroughdale protested against this stranger in the place, of whom we arrangement. His lady was resolute; know nothing, except only that he and the Lady Evelyn, though her edits a newspaper, notorious for the whole bearing indicated that she grossness of its libels on private chawould have preferred a thousand racter-I do not know whether you times to be any where else, adhered have authorised this person to act to her mother's guidance, as became as your mouth-piece, and therefore her. Accordingly the three, without mean me to receive his declarations waiting for any summons from the as yours; but invaders, threw open the gates of There was a considerable disposithe fortalice; and, standing together tion exhibited here to hoot down the upon the landing-place, watched the speaker; but it was, by the holding column while it closed up its ranks, up of Mr. Beaver's hand, instantly so as to form a sort of solid square repressed ; after which Mr. Beaver of great length, and deliberately bowed to his lordship, as it inviting occupied the entire area beneath. him to proceed. And his lordship There is no denying that even Lady did proceed ; but it was in a frame of Boroughdale changed colour as she mind which deprived him of all the witnessed the perfect discipline of advantages which his indomitable that vast assemblage. Not a word courage, aided by his extraordinary was spoken, except by the leaders; strength of lungs, usually gave to and these issued their orders loudly, him. In fact, Lord Boroughdale envet laconically, as if they had been tirely lost his temper. He was far for years accustomed to the work; less alarmed by the display of politiwhile the multitudes broke into double cal power which the editor of the quick, and extended their flanks, pre- Cuketown Journal had manifestly accisely as soldiers would have done quired, than he was exasperated at on a well-organised field of man- the idea that such a parvenu as he

And thus, in less than ten should have obtained any influence minutes, the whole three thousand at all in what his lordship persisted gained their proper places ; after in regarding as his own district. And which they stood-bonneted, indeed, the consequences were, that the resiyet otherwise not disrespectfully con- due of his harangue consisted in little ducting themselves — in the presence else than a tirade against demagogues of the peer. There was a silence of, and traitors, who made cats-paws perhaps, two minutes' longer continu- of the people in order to serve their ance, upon which Lord Boroughdale own base ends; and would be sure, broke in,

when the fitting moment came, to “Gentlemen!" exclaimed he, in his betray the very men whom they had usual tone of stentorian self-posses- duped. Mr. 'Beaver allowed his sion, “ to what circumstance may I lordship to go on; and, by restrainattribute the honour of'this unlooked- ing each burst of popular indignation for, and, I must add, undesired as it first shewed itself, prevailed visit?"

upon the multitude in like manner “ The reformers of Coketown have to give him a fair hearing. But he come to tell your lordship,” replied was not unprepared with an answer. Mr. Beaver, “that your opposition, Having waited till his lordship wound and that of the house to which you up by proffering his advice that the belong, cannot and will not avail to people would retire peaceably to their stay the passing of the people's mea- own homes, the editor of the Journal

The reformers of Coketown, chimed in :like the reformers of universal Eng- “Gentlemen, you have heard what land, are determined to have the bill, his lordship has judged it expedient the whole bill, and nothing but the to say in reference to our proceeding bill! and they would therefore re- on the present occasion. You have spectfully, but strongly, warn your listened to his personal abuse of mylordship, that the sooner you join self, for which I freely forgive him ; them in the great struggle for free- and to the libels which he has chosen dom, the better."

to utter against the Journal, which " Gentlemen !" exclaimed his lord- are matters of quite a different chaship, “I do not know whether you racter. But you have not, as far as have authorised this person I could collect, received any explana



at all of the vote which he gave only know, that of all his order. So that four nights ago for the rejection of it comes to this : let a measure be. the great charter of your liberties. proposed and carried in your house, Now what you desire to know is, ever so advantageous to your interests, why his lordship, who, when this ever so consistent with your wishes, bill was first laid on the table of the and it is still competent to a body of Ilouse of Commons, declared publicly some two or three hundred men, who that it had his most entire approba- answer only to God and their own tion, because it met every difficulty consciences, to reject it. Gentlemen, with which the question of reform does this state of thraldom to three was encumbered, - what you desire to hundred tyrants content you ?" know is, why his lordship, having “ No, no, no!" was the universal thus sanctioned a measure in its

cry. earliest stage, should turn round ** I am sure that it does not," conwhen it approached to its latest, and tinued the speaker. " And so, my by his voice swell the majority of lord, if you please, it will be well if evil-disposed persons, by whom its you give to the people of England passage

into law has been temporarily the sort of explanation which they obstructed. As soon as his lordship consider themselves justified in reshall have answered that question, quiring, and which they will certhen, perhaps, we may put a few tainly get, sooner or later, you may more; - such as to demand a reason take


word for it.” why he, by whose means principally “ I will give no explanation at the the Journed was set on foot, should bidding of a scoundrel such as you!" now fall foul of both it and its un- exclaimed his lordship, tiercely. fortunate conductor, and cover them “ But I arrest you, by virtue of my with invectives. But then the busi- authority as a magistrate ; and I call ness which you had in view when upon the people to aid me in the exyou came here relates to the first ecution of the law." part, and to that therefore you had His lordship made a spring from better confine yourselves. Have I the step on which he stood, and would your authority to act, as his lordship have seized Mr. Beaver, had not says, the part of your mouth-piece ?" the hand of Lady Boroughdale re

You have! You have !" shouted strained him. three thousand voices at once.

“ Be calm, my dear lord !" whis* You hear, my lord,” continued pered she, in a voice that quavered Mr. Beaver, turning to his lordship, - Remember, this is not a time and looking him full in the face, - to act decisively, but prudently." ** you hear what the people of Eng- Mr. Beaver, on the contrary,

I therefore demand in stood with an air of perfect inditlertheir names, that you account for ence to watch the result; and when what seems to them a gross act of he saw that his lordship obeyed the political inconsistency, and to state gentle admonition of his wife, he to them explicitly why you gave your

smiled. vote for the rejection of the Reform- You see, gentlemen,” cried he, bill."

“ how we are governed. Ilis lord“ I acknowledge no right on your ship rules us with a rod of iron, and part, sir," replied Lord Boroughdale, my lacly rules him. Things have sternly, “ no, nor on the parts of come to a pretty pass with the liberthe deluded multitude whom you ties of Englishmen!" Ile then turned have brought here in your train, to round to Lord Boroughdale, and require from me a reason for any said, “We did not expect, my lord, specch which I may deliver, or any that you would be ready with an anvote which I may give, in my place swer; we are not therefore disapin the House of Lords. I am no pointed. But as we come with no delegate sent thither by you; I hold unfriendly feeling, so would we have myself, therefore, responsible not to gladly heard from your own lips you, but only to God and my own such a statement as might have reconscience !"

established you once more in the “ Gentlemen, you hear what his hearts of your countrymen. This lordship says; and the language which you have not chosen to give. There his lordship holds is, as you well remains for us, therefore, only one


land say.

course, which is, earnestly to advise, because I felt that the parliament had that between this date and the open- betrayed the country, and I am a ing of the next session you reconsider parliamentary reformer still. But the question, and vote not against the sooner than vote for this cursed bill people, but with them. Remember -which you call the charter of your that there is excellent authority for liberties, but which I know to be saying that the breath of a faction pregnant with evil to all classes,—I cannot prevail against the will of a will sacrifice life itself, even if it be united people; so return again into taken from me piecemeal! Do not, the ranks of the reformers, who, in therefore, delude yourselves into the this quarter of the empire, at all persuasion that my vote next session events, never could have become the will be different from what it was powerful body that they are but for four days ago. I will resist the passthe assistance your lordship afforded ing of the bill to the death ; and if them. Come back to us, my lord, you choose to play a game where the with all the frankness that belongs stake is so serious, I will certainly do to you. You will find us grateful, my best to beat you !" sincere, much attached both to you “ You hear, gentlemen, what his and to liberty; and so long as your lordship has said. But never mind. march is by the road which leads to IIe has veered about before now, and that point, we will follow you. But he will veer about again. And if never fatter yourself that we can not, why then we will see who is be either driven or cajoled out of likely to get the better in the game the line which we have taken. Far of which his lordship speaks.” be it from me, and from every other This brief address was followed by reformer, to use the language of a word of command, in obedience to menace; yet I think it right, in the which the solid square broke into names of these my countrymen, to column, and with a march as regular assure you, that a second vote, pro- as had marked their progress up the ducing results similar to those occa- avenue, the whole crowd passed down sioned by the first, will not be so again. Not the slightest violence casily forgiven! Am I right, gentle- was offered to any living thing, --not men? Shout, if I be!"

so much as the branch of a tree or of There was raised on the instant a a bush was broken ; but, keeping shout, so loud, so deep, so clear, that steadily to the carriage-road, the it awakened the echoes in all the reformers filed through the gate, glens and valleys of the park, and and retraced their steps in the dusk made the very glass in the antique of the evening to Coketown. oriel windows vibrate. Poor Lady “ A most extrordinary revolution Evelyn grew deadly pale, and was this !" cried his lordship, as he and forced to lean upon her mother for my lady re-entered the drawingsupport; but neither Lady Borough

“ The people's minds are endale nor her lord suffered a muscle tirely changed. I never saw any to quiver, or the crimson to forsake thing so marvellous!" their cheeks for one moment.

It is more than marvellous," re* You have sufficiently indicated plied her ladyship, “it is quite the course which you mean to adopt," frightful! But that we cannot help. replied his lordship, so soon as silence You must do your duty; and the was restored ; " now hear me. I results we shall leave, as we have own that I was hurried, by a sense of done others scarcely less alarming, to a great wrong committed, into a line the care of Ilim without whose interof policy which I deeply deplore. I position empires neither rise nor became a parliamentary reformer, fall."


PLOTS AND BY-PLOTS. It was on the fifth day subsequent

MY DEAR JEM,-The good cause proto the events described in the pre

gresses gloriously. We had a grand ceding chapter that Mr. Beaver's

field-day yesterday; and never, do I ascorrespondent in the Minories re

sure you, have troops behaved better, ceived from his friend at Coketown

either in the presence of the enemy or a letter to the following effect :- elsewhere. Our discipline is perfect.


« ElőzőTovább »