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72

YOUTH INFLUENCES YOUTH.

“Excuse," again began Maltravers, half interested, half annoyed.

" I'll be shot if I do. Come."

Ferrers gave Maltravers his hat, wound his arm in his, and they were on the broad terrace by the lake before Ernest was aware of it.

How animated, how eccentric, how easy was Ferrers's talk (for talk it was rather than conversation, since he had the ball to himself); books, men, and things; he tossed them about, and played with them like shuttlecocks : and then his egotistical narrative of half a hundred adventures, in which he had been the hero, told so that you laughed at him and laughed with him. And woman, bright woman, was the nucleus of all the stories!

CHAPTER XVI.

“Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east.”

Milton.

At

HITHERTO Ernest had never met with any mind that had exercised a strong influence over his own. home, at school, at Gottingen, everywhere, he had been the brilliant and wayward leader of others, persuading or commanding wiser and older heads than his own: even Cleveland always yielded to him, though not aware of it. In fact, it seldom happens that we are very strongly influenced by those much older than ourselves. It is the senior, of from two to ten years, that most seduces and enthralls us. He has the same pursuits—views, objects, pleasures, but more art and experience in them all. He goes with us in the path we are ordained to tread, but from which the elder generation desires to warn us off. There is very little influence where there is not great sympathy. It was now an epoch in the intellectual life of Maltravers. He met for the first time with a mind that controlled his own. Perhaps the physical state of his nerves made him less able to cope with the half-bullying, but thoroughly goodhumoured imperiousness of Ferrers. Every day this

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stranger became more and more potential with Maltrav

Ferrers, who was an utter egotist, never asked his new friend to give him his confidence; he never cared three straws about other people's secrets unless useful to some purpose of his own. But he talked with so much zest about himself-about women, and pleasure, and the gay, stirring life of cities—that the young spirit of Maltravers was roused from its dark lethargy without an effort of his own.

The gloomy phantoms vanished gradually-his sense broke from its cloud-he felt once more that God had given the sun to light the day, and even in the midst of darkness had called up the host of stars.

Perhaps no other person could have succeeded so speedily in curing Maltravers of his diseased enthusiasm : a crude or sarcastic unbeliever he would not have listened to; a moderate and enlightened divine he would have disregarded as a worldly and cunning adjuster of laws celestial with customs earthly. But Lumley Ferrers, who, when he argued, never admitted a sentiment or simile in reply, who wielded his plain iron logic like a hammer, which, though its metal seemed dull, kindled the ethereal spark with every stroke--Lumley Ferrers was just the man to resist the imagination and convince the reason of Maltravers; and, the moment the matter came to argument, the cure was soon completed ; for however we may darken and puzzle ourselves with fancies, and visions, and the ingenuities of fanatical mysticism, no man can mathematically or syllogistically contend that the world which a God made and a Saviour visited was designed to be damned !

And Ernest Maltravers one night softly stole to his room, and opened the New Testament, and read its heavenly moralities with purged eyes; and, when he had done, he fell upon his knees, and prayed the Almighty to pardon the ungrateful heart that, worse than the atheist's, had confessed his existence, but denied his goodness. And the sleep of Ernest Maltravers that night was deep and sweet, and his dreams were cheerful; and he woke the next morning reconciled with God and man.

VOL. I.-G

74

THE NEW PLAN.

CHAPTER XVII.

“There are times when we are diverted out errors, but could not be preached out of them. There are practitioners who can cure us of one disorder, though in ordinary cases they be but poor physicians, nay, dangerous quacks.”-STEPHEN MONTAGUE.

LUMLEY FERRERS, the accidental agent of this regeneration, was anything but a saint; for it is not the best tools that shape out the best ends; if so, Martin Luther would not have been selected as the master-spirit of the Reformation. Ferrers laid it down as a rule, to make all things and all persons subservient to himself. And Ferrers now intended to go abroad for some years. He wanted a companion, for he disliked solitude; besides, a companion shared the expenses; and a man of eight hundred a year, who desires all the luxuries of life, does not despise a partner in the taxes to be paid for them. Ferrers, at this period, rather liked Ernest than not: it was convenient to choose friends from those richer than himself, and he resolved, when he first came to Temple Grove, that Ernest should be his travelling companion. This resolution formed, it was very easy to execute it.

Maltravers was now warmly attached to his new friend, and eager for change. Cleveland was sorry to part with him; but he dreaded a relapse if the young man were again left upon his hands. Accordingly, the guardian's consent was obtained; a travelling carriage was bought, and fitted up with every imaginable imperial and malle. A Swiss (half valet and half courier) was engaged; one thousand a year was allowed to Maltravers; and one soft and lovely morning, towards the close of October, Ferrers and Maltravers found themselves midway on the road to Dover.

“How glad I am to get out of England,” said Ferrers : “it is a famous country for the rich; but here eight hundred a year, without a profession save that of pleasure, goes upon pepper and salt: it is a luxurious competence abroad.”

“I think I have heard Cleveland say that you will be rich some day or other.”

LUMLEY'S SKETCH OF HIMSELF.

75

“Oh yes; I have what are called expectations ! You must know that I have a kind of settlement on two stools, the well-born and the wealthy; but between two stools-you recollect the proverb! The present Lord Saxingham, once plain Frank Lascelles, and my father, Mr. Ferrers, were first cousins. Two or three relations good-naturedly died, and Frank Lascelles became an earl; the lands did not go with the coronet; he was poor, and married an heiress. The lady died; the estate was settled on her only child, the handsomeest little girl you ever saw. Pretty Florence, I often wish I could look up to you! Her fortune will be nearly all at her own disposal too when she comes of age: now she's in the nursery, 'eating bread and honey.'

My father, less lucky and less wise than his cousin, thought fit to marry a Miss Templeton-a nobody. The Saxingham branch of the family politely dropped the acquaintance. Now my mother had a brother, a clever, plodding fellow, in what is called business :' he became rich and richer; but my father and mother died, and were never the better for it. And I came of age, and worth (I like that expression) not a farthing more or less than this often-quoted eight hundred pounds a year. My rich uncle is married, but has no children. I am, therefore, the heir presumptivebut he is a saint, and close, though ostentatious. The quarrel between uncle Templeton and the Saxinghams still continues. Templeton is angry if I see the Saxinghams—and the Saxinghams-my lord, at least is by no means so sure that I shall be Templeton's heir as not to feel a doubt lest I should some day or other sponge upon his lordship for a place. Lord Saxingham is in the administration, you know. Somehow or other, I have an equivocal amphibious kind of place in London society which I don't like : on one side I am a patrician connexion whom the parvenu branches always incline lovingly to—and on the other side I am a half dependant cadet whom the noble relations look civilly shy at. Some day, when I grow tired of travel and idleness, I shall come back and wrestle with these little difficulties, conciliate my methodistical uncle, and grapple with my noble cousin. But now I am fit for something better than getting on in the world. Dry chips, not green wood, are the things for making a blaze! How slow this fellow drives ! Halloo, you sir! get on! mind, twelve

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LUMLBY'S SKETCH, ETC.

miles to the hour! you shall have sixpence a mile ! Give me your purse, Maltravers; I may as well be cashier, being the elder and the wiser man; we can settle accounts at the end of the journey. By Jove, what a pretty girl!”

יין

END O! BOOK I.

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