Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

buckled shoes, powdered wig, set off to advantage that neat and agile form. Though his wardrobe might have with advantage been more frequently replenished, yet he was never in dishabille, and always looked the gentleman.

At thirty he married the daughter of a country squire, who was not more celebrated for her beauty than esteemed for her worth. By this lady he had a large family, and, as Godfrey used to say, they were within a fraction all of the wrong sort, seven-eighths of the number total being of the softer sex. Their only son was a fine lad, and long before his birth Mrs. De Bohun had fixed upon the name of Moreton. The father did not like that name, and wished instead of Moreton to call him Godfrey. Mrs. De Bohun, when the time came, prevailed upon her husband, for that once, to let her have her own way; she contested that he had named six of the girls out of the seven, and it was but fairness in the present instance to allow her to decide; because, she said, Moreton was on the roll at Battle Abbey, because it

was more aristocratic, and because Moreton was a pretty name!

"Powerful arguments, indeed!” ironically said Godfrey; but at length he was obliged to yield, yet not without stipulating that the next should be a Godfrey; in default of such he would put into his last will and testament for the next male heir to be so named, or it would, as he conceived, be a reflection on not less than three of the previously mentioned gentlemen occupying the shabby gilt frames; and, in a kind of consolatory strain, he muttered in conclusion, “It's no use arguing, women will have their own way, and the more you reason and explain, the more obstinate and wrong-headed they become!”

As Moreton grew up, he became the apple of his father's eye. And, it is truth to say, never was there a finer, more fearless, more taking lad. Nature had favoured him, in bestowing a well-built frame, that promised, when matured, to be Herculean, with an animated eye that flashed with the impetuous feelings of a soul full of ardour and enterprise, his features were particularly handsome and expressive—though without the deep lines of his father's. His hair fell in thick, jetty curls down low and powerful shoulders, whilst his quick step and erectness of bearing bespoke no common personage. Well, indeed, might a father look complacently on so comely a youth, and little would his insensibility be envied who felt not a father's pride, when he beheld a young cedar whose head might tower aloft in the forest of Lebanon. As he advanced in years, horses, dogs, and every field-sport, were a passion with him. Many were the deeds of mischievous fun which in the buoyancy of boyhood spirits he committed. Towards the villagers' cats he held perpetual hostilities, and whenever one of the feline tribe crossed his path, two or three yelping terriers, which were his constant companions, were sure to be hounded on in the pursuit. Rooks' nests he plundered with an unsparing hand, and it was his delight to courageously climb the loftiest trees in which they had built their eyrie homes. The finny inhabitants of the deep were also frequent sacrifices to his adroit snaring, or the dexterous manner in which he threw the fly. At fourteen his deadly aim could hit the swallow on its lightning flight, and often had his rifle stopped the wild pigeon when sailing on electric wing. Such the fancies of his active boyhood—such his happiness when “confinement's lingering hour was done."

Though Godfrey De Bohun was a man of unrelenting sternness, and at times having a coldness of manner amounting well nigh to asceticism, he doted on his boy; to him he looked as the upholder of their name; and who was the sole representative of an illustrious line.

Godfrey, in the early part of his life, had been in the army, and on his retirement was Captain in the — regiment. For the profession of arms he had a passionate partiality, and he deemed the two services as the great schools of gentility and politeness; in fine, as he always would have it, none but gentlemen were there, and none but gentlemen ought to be there. The doctrine of exclusivism on all such matters he stoutly favoured, for such he argued on what he conceived right principles. He was, indeed, one of the old school, full of bigotry and prejudice, averse to innovation, because he hated things that were new, and had a foolish reverence for the past, which, he always would have it, was more to be venerated than the present. Preferment from merit he held to be vulgar and nonsensical, and fitted only for democratic states—thought it impossible for people of a lower grade, from any circumstances, to be eligible for an equality of privileges with those born above them. Such being the notions of Captain De Bohun, it may easily be imagined how partial he was to services that placed positive demerit and ineligibility in command of real superiority. It was, indeed, likely that he would wish his son to enter the army. But that son had not yet finished his scholastic duties, and there was time for such considerations.

Three years more of academic discipline at length passed over. When at school he had ever been more signalized for pugilistic contests and frolicsome mischief than his

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »