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THE

NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.

FATHERS AND SONS.

BY THE EDITOR.

CHAP. I.

“Well, I declare, I don't see why not," said Colonel Bruff. “I don't,” replied Sir George Grindle.

“She is a good girl, and a pretty girl,” said the colonel, “ although I say it that shouldn't.”

“And my son George is a perfect lady's man,” said Sir George.
“That'll do,” said the colonel.
“A bit of a dandy I admit,” continued the baronet ;

" and never the worse for that; better be a dandy than like his half-brother Frank, who, with all his mawkish sentimentality, can't say boh to a goose."

“ Half-brother ?” interrupted the colonel. “What have you

“ Yes, I have,” said Sir George. “I have been twice marrieda circumstance I thought you were aware of. I married for money when I was young, and for love when I was older-eh?" “ That'll do. That'll do,” said the colonel.

" And how did you find it answer ?

“First the best,” said Sir George. “My first wife was—" “Oh, every body knows,” interrupted the colonel, “ the rich Miss Simpkins—the great heiress—the"

“ Exactly so,” said the baronet. “Good soul-amiable, kind, and all that, eh? She died soon after George was born. Still, entre nous, I never cared for her, nor she for me. I wanted her money, she wanted to be my lady,'—all done by friends; so, don't you see, colonel, having married her to please my family,—why, when she popped off the perch, I married my next to please myself—eh? I speak plainly -truth between friends—that's the fact."

“ That'll do. That'll do,” said the colonel.
“ Poor dear,” continued Sir George, “ she died in three years

after Frank was born-this younger son of mine.”

That, I never heard,” said Colonel Bruff. Ay, I dare say,” replied Sir George, “ you were abroad fighting our country's battles.”

“That'll do. That'll do,” said Bruff, “ you've hit it, no doubt; and the boys take after their mothers ?"

“Thereabouts,” answered Sir George ; "the eldest one-or, as without regard to comparatives or superlatives, my eldest son, George-you

Jan.-VOL. LVIII. NO, ccxxix.

B

must have seen him about town-a deucedly good-looking fellow-was in a crack cavalry regiment, just getting his troop, when they were ordered to India. George went to his doctor-discovered he had a touch of the liver-couldn't go"

“ That'll do," said the colonel. " Wanted to be a liver at home, eh ?-Gad, that's not so bad--so I suppose exchanged—"

“No,” said Sir George, “not that; sold out-retired altogetherfull of domestic feelings and love of country."

“That'll do," said the colonel, who seemed exceedingly well pleased to establish a connexion for his daughter with the eldest son of a wealthy baronet-the title having of course its weight for as much, at least, as it was worth.

But there was a stronger reason for this anxiety in Colonel Bruff's case than might have occurred in many others—the colonel had a housekeeper-a most equivocal head to his establishment, who appeared to manage all his affairs with the unhesitating decision of a mistress rather than a servant: and his consciousness of the extraordinary influence which this functionary possessed, induced him to keep his daughter Jane as much as possible engaged at the country-houses of his different friends, so that she might be preserved from coming too much in contact with Mrs. Smylar (so was the lady-lieutenant of the house in Harley-street, where the gallant and venerable colonel resided, named), and accordingly Jane, the pretty, the dear Jane, was, in order to ensure the comforts of domestic life, kept away from home as long in fact as there was any body of her father's acquaintance in the country to receive or keep her.

In consequence of this arrangement, the colonel's house in Harleystreet, could scarcely be considered montée, except for a short period of the year, during which its gallant owner held it necessary to give a certain round of dinners, and afford the gentle Jane an opportunity of seeing a little of society, and of doing the honours at one or two assemblies, interspersed and illustrated with harmony, vocal and instrumental, imported for the occasion from the Italian Opera-house.

This being the case, the colonel, in what is called the dead time of the year, dined regularly and invariably at one of the clubs to which he belonged; and, as sure as seven o'clock came, marched up the coffee-room, with his rosy countenance erect, in a masculine and military manner to his own favourite table, whereupon it was his custom to make as serious an impression upon the “passing" joint, as it had been in the earlier part of his life his pride and glory to make upon an advancing column of the enemy. The gallant officer had an appetite, and his use of small arms in his attacks upon the haunches, and saddles, and sirloins, has often excited the envy of surrounding guests, and the painful anxiety of those who were to come after him, to the pièce de résistance.

For such a Castor, where could a fitter Pollux be found than Sir George Grindle—they were a pair

“ Justly formed to meet, by nature;"

inasmuch as the worthy baronet-as every baronet is indiscriminately styled—had no comfortable settled household establishment of his own. Of the two sons he had, the one he liked was never at home, and the one he did not like, always was. George was always to be found where fashion and gaiety called. White's he had not yet achieved, but his head was invariably to be seen over one of the blinds of the morningroom at Crocky's—his cab a fixture on the outside, until some of the numerous pursuits with which young men of a particular school kill time and keep themselves alive, attracted him to a more distant part of town ;—with the shades of evening he returned home-dressed, proceeded to dine, finishing his daily career at night, in the bright fane where he had begun it in the morning.

Frank-the half-brother of this agreeable roue was, as somebody says, “ quite the contrary, exactly the reverse.” Frank had read much -taken honours at Oxford—was generally accomplished-rigidly just, and honourable in the highest degree; but, from his earliest youth upwards, he had felt conscious of the difference which existed between his father's feelings towards him, and those which he entertained for George. This consciousness had the effect of depressing him, and increasing his natural shyness; and while George was revelling and sparkling in all the best parties of the season, Frank was either employed in scientific pursuits, to which he was enthusiastically devoted, or passing his evening in the domestic circle of some quiet family, in the studio of an artist, or the museum of a naturalist: in fact, they were in person, mind, character, and manner, as dissimilar as light from darkness; or (not to waste much time upon similes), as any one thing in the world can be from another.

This is a brief outline of the families of the two club friends, whose acquaintance began in the club, was maintained in the club, and who heretofore, as the reader may have gathered by the brief colloquy with which the narrative opens, had never visited each other domestically; nor indeed had come to confession with regard to the actual state of their affairs, so intimately connected with the settlement of the fate of two persons, dear to each of the principals, but neither of whom, at the time the dialogue just recorded took place, was conscious of the other's existence.

“ Now, Frank,” said Sir George to the colonel, “is a mere humdrum fellow; calls himself a man of science; knows better than the bible tells us when the world was made, and how it was made; gives every thing its classical definition, and calls a tittlebat by a name which, if written, is half-an-inch longer than the fish itself; travels all over the world with a wallet and hammer, and last year began to chip down the Alps to see what they are made of, and brought home some of the bits in his pocket.”

“ That'll do," said Bruff; “ wallet and hammer-ninny-hammer you mean—no, no, my girl is rather too good for such a chipper as that.”

“ Now as to fortune,” said Sir George, “the boys are, as they say in the city,' much of a muchness.? George will have all my property, but Frank is nearly as well off, barring the baronetcy—a relative of his who admires all the ologies and ographies, and thinks Frank a wonder, has said as much as that he will inherit all hisóworldly goods,' when he dies—all that may be, but George-"

“ That'll do that'll do," said the colonel; “nevertheless, the elder is the man for me, and although, my dear Sir George, this conversation originally began more in jest than in earnest, I repeat what I said before, • I declare I don't see why not,' eh?”

“ Nor 1,” replied the baronet ; “ we are both in some degree similarly placed—widowers, with large, cold, empty houses-no thought of marrying again, and if we could mend our condition by filling those houses with merry hearts and laughing faces, or else get rid of them altogether, I think we should do wisely."

“ But,” said Colonel Bruff, “ there is one thing which requires a little consideration."

“What is that?" said Sir George; “nature of the property ? quid pro quo.

“ Not exactly,” said the colonel. “I mean the agreement to our plans on the part of the young people themselves.”

“I'll answer for George," said the baronet.

That'll do-that'll do,” replied the colonel. “As for my Jane, she knows enough of her father to rely upon his judgment, and too little of the world, to be able to question his motives; so, as the ice is broken, the sooner we really talk the matter over seriously and more in detail, better pleased I shall be.”

“Suppose,” said Sir George, “ I was to hint at the affair to-morrow, if I catch sight of my elder boy. I know he is inclined to marry, so I think I shall easily be able to ascertain his feelings in a talk of ten minutes." “ That'll do," said the colonel.

"Happy's the wooing

That's not long a doing.'” In this, and many similar apothegms, touching the importance and value of speedy completions of matrimonial arrangements (which, by the way, had their views and objects been different, they would have been the forwardest to reprehend), until the small “ pint each" gave way to a second double pint, in the shape of a bottle of claret between them, over which they fully intended to discuss at a greater length, and with more of detail, the project they had in view, had it not been that Mr. Snob—a regular club bore,—who by some fatality had once accidentally met Sir George Grindle somewhere at dinner, where he was not introduced to him, claimed him as his friend; brought his pint of Bucellas, or Marsala, or some such stuff, to the common stock, and of course destroyed completely the opportunity of talking over matters of which the two elderlies were most anxious to avail themselves.

Never, perhaps, was a mere casual acquaintance so speedily or strangely ripened into that sort of give and take intimacy, the spirit of which appeared to be, the giving a daughter by one, and the taking her by another ;. but the few vague observations which we have made on the disagreeableness of both their establishments, may perhaps account in some trilling degree for the sympathy by which two bowing and speaking associates in a large society were so suddenly transformed into bosom friends.

As the communication is perfectly confidential and will go no further, there is but little difficulty in pronouncing this great, tall, swaggering Colonel Bruff, one of the “high contracting parties” to the league offensive and defensive which was on the point of being entered into, as a kind of human monster; he was a big animal, and thence seemed to derive a consciousness that he was of consequence; he was a hardheaded man, not by any means in the complimentary acceptation of the phrase ; he was coarse and overbearing in his manners, and as far as Jane was concerned, a tyrant of the first water.

When she, at his express command, sat at the head of his table, she was subjected to a constant “fire” of reprehension and sarcasm. When for the sake of his “ own position,” as he called it, she yielded to his wish to receive small parties of his friends (dignified into soirées by the pastrycooks who furnished the nastinesses, and swelled into concerts by the voices of the second-rate screamers of the Opera- house), every thing went wrong, and poor Jane, commanded by her father to dress her countenance in smiles, too often found her eyes suffused with tears.

Now Jane thus treated had no mother-in-law, as we know; but Jane was perhaps worse off than if she had had one. A mother-in-law would at least have been a responsible person—she might even have loved her for her father's sake-she might have been an agreeable companionshe might have been a mistress of the house, calculated to draw round her husband an agreeable circle of acquaintance, who might have rendered that house at least a comfortable home for him! But no-instead of such a person bearing his name, and filling an equal place in society, Jane had—when she was under her father's roof-to endure the halfenduring, half-patronizing, pertness and presumption of Mrs. Smylar, who endeavoured to combine in the attributes of her character, the meritorious pretensions of an affectionate governess, with those of a zealous and prudential housekeeper, always contriving, if any family discussion or dissension arose, to take part-very deferentially-with the daughter against the father, and vice versa, with the father against the child.

It cannot be for a moment doubtful to the reader, that however desirous Colonel Bruff might feel to keep Jenny as much apart from this third estate, which had sprung up in his establishment, Jenny herself was scarcely less so. It is true that the girl was as pure and as innocent as well-bred girls of her age in England generally are, but purity and innocence must have degenerated into something much lower in the scale of human nature, if cominon observation and the natural intellect of nineteen-female nineteen-did not discover in the pert, flippant manner of such a person as Mrs. Smylar, especially associated with the goodnatured acquiescence of her “master,” something more than the ordinary relation between them established by the rules of society ; besides, if Colonel Bruff's head ached, Mrs. Smylar was always ready to bathe his temples with eau de Cologne ; if any thing had disagreed with him, Mrs. Smylar prepared the curative remedy. In fact, Jane saw enough to convince her that Mrs. Smylar had more influence over her father than she ought to have, and Colonel Bruff was—as was Mrs. Smylar too

-perfectly satisfied that she was perfectly aware of the state of things as they existed.

As for Mrs. Smylar, she was a sharp, clever person-pretty, but passée. She began life as a sort of half-scholar, half-teacher, at a “ladies' boarding-school ;" but having been suspected of a too great intimacy with a respectable young hairdresser employed, in the presence of some matured authority to cut, curl, and friz the young ladies, thought it expedient to leave the seminary, as they call these establishments, and join a company of actors somewhere in ihe West of England.

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