A Blighted Life/Section 8

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In my dreadful dilemma of being without a trustee--not to leave them any pretext for keeping the poor people out of their money, I had writte to Dr. OILY GAMMON R_____ to know if he would be my trustee? Not certainly from choice, as I never have any but Hobson's choice; but because he was already au fait1 to the last Madhouse Conspiracy, and knew all the dramatis personæ2. He wrote me back a most oleaginous letter, accepting the office, and praising Mr. L_____ up to the skies, with one of those double barrelled compliments which professionally he was in the habit of bestowing upon my lord and my lady--i.e., saying "He is a noble fellow, worthy of the mother who bore him." No, verily; she is not a coward; and for all the kingdoms of the earth could neither lie away a person's life, repay good with evil, or cringe to infamy in high places; nor pander to treachery and injustice. Though as FALSTAFF was not only witty himself, but the cause of wit in others; so Sir EDWARD is not only false, treacherous, and infamous, but is the cause of falsehood, treachery, and infamy in others. Yet, thank GOD,neither by bribery nor intimidation, has he ever, or will he ever, be able to mould me to his purpose; and hence his implacable persecution, and his poisoned treacherous arrows that always fly in darkness, and from an ambush. When Mr. L_____ returned with his dispatch to C_____, he put it into my hand, saying "Will that do?" It began: "SIR,--Lady B_____ L_____ having seen in The Times, &c.3, &c. "No," I said, "it will no do; I told you to say my mother having see, &c., &c., that he fully might know that I had a son, and therefore conclude, however erroneously, that he would protect me." At this he left the room, and I felt so angry and heart-stricken, that I wrote him an indignat note, reproaching him with having lured and springed me abroad, merely to patch up his father's charcter, which, sooth to say, was rather past mending. Upon the receipt of this, for truth to evil-doers is the most unpardonable of all crimes, car ce n'est que la verté qui blesse4, the young gentleman having of course had his orders (and when did this pious ÆNEAS ever dare to disobey any order of his loved!!! and honoured!!! father, "from pitche-and-toss up to manslaughter?"), sent for post horses and set off to Toulouse, on his return to Paris, leaving his Mother, now nothing more could be done with her, and the bubble was beginning to burst, to find her way home as she could. Certainly he did leave his man FLETCHER to attend upon me, who kept saying to WILLIAMS (my maid) the whole journey, "'Pon my soul, it's too, too bad; I did not think Mr L_____ could have acted so by his Mother--whom I know he loves--merely from fear of that old villain Sir EDWARD." When I found Mr. L_____ gone, without a word, without a line, my short dream all shattered and shimmering about me! and a cold, black, unfathomable abyss before me,--never shall I forget the first petrifying yet bewildering agony--the severing, as it were, of body and soul--that I felt, and which I am certain must be what one feels when the real severing of them by death comes. For hours I seemed turned to stoen, and could not shed a tear, till I saw, sitting under the trees opposite our windows, in her little carriage, a poor little lame girl about thirteen, who used to sit there begging. She had a little, pale, melancholy face, whith imploring eyes, that seemed to say, "Pour l'amour de Dieu!"5 for she never asked in words. ROBERT had given her a five-franc piece one day, and came into me with the tears streaming down his cheeks, and said, "Oh, Mother, can you give me any warm wraps for her? she is so cold and so thinly clad." How I loved the poor fellow at that moment--so much good feeling was so un-Bulwerish, and so un-Lyttonian. I gave him all he wanted, and he then flung his arms round my neck, and said, "How good you are to me, darling; anyone else would have laughed at me." "Then they must be thorough wretches if they did," said I. Upon seeing his poor little protegée looking up wistfully, that cold, gloomy November day, after he was gone, I put on my bonnet, and went down to her. Her first question was for "Monsieur"--for he was her idol; no one, she said, had ever been so kind, or so gentle to her. When I told her he was gone, and would not return, she cried bitterly. Her name was JEANNE HESTIER. I said, "JEANNE, would you like to be taken out of the cold and clothed, and taught, and live entirely avec les bonnes sœurs a l'Hospice?"6 She clasped her hands and said, "Oh, that would be too good--but what would my mother say?" who took all the money people gave her at the baths (and indeed I have trouble enough with the worthless, grasping mother after). "Oh, never mind, I'll settle that," said I, and I took the pole of her little carriage and drew her to the convent, where I consigned her to the Mère Superiere7, paying the first year in advance, and sufficient besides for her "necesaire8"--have done so ever since, and shall do so as long as I live; and as it is only £20 a year, I hope and trust Mr. _____ won't leave poor JEANNE to starve when I am dead, as I send the money every six months, through his old Luchon Doctor, Dr. PEJOT. It is so pleasant to have his inquiries about "le jeune homme charmant Monsieur votre fils9." Oh, what bitter! bitter! sting, life is to some of us. Well, when I arrived in Paris, I still made a last effort to save this wretched young victim from himself. I sent a note to the hotel, where he always put up, to tell him not, after what he and he alone (for no one else could have done it) had trapped me into, to let us part in such a manner; for if he did, nothing should induce me ever to see him again. He came, but the hideous KATE R_____ was in the room, and his manner was cold and constrained. To get rid of her (for she always stuck to us like a leech), I sent her off on a wild goose chase to GALIGNANI'S. I then implored him only to be candid with me, and tell me all, no matter how bad it was, or what his orders were to do against me; I would not only freely forgive him, but help him, for, as I said before, I could bear all thins; but to feel he was deceiving me, and I should not at all mind what I suffered, or even try to get redress for any outrages or insults from his father, and his father's tools; if I could be only certain that my own child was merely playing a part against me, and not doing so in his own heart; much as I deprecated such expedient duplicity, and which, to save my life, I could not resort to myself. He flung himself at my feet, and hiding his face in my lap, and in such an agony of hysterical sobs, that I really was quite frightened. But not one word could I get out of him. As there is no courage like a coward's for rashness, when pushed to desperation, so I suppose there is no obstinacy like a weak vacillator's, when they have been pushed to take the Curtius' leap into the gulf of determination. At dinner, the Spy being there, he again congealed into a proper B_____ L_____ish degree of frigidity, and talked of this, that and the other, sachant sans doute, que la bete noire R_____, etait la faisant son courier, et dressant son procès verbal--pour son barbe bleu de pere9. Then he said how sorry he was to leave beautiful Luchon, which was the most lovely place he had ever seen. And that poor little lame girl--her face haunted him--he must send her something. "You need not, at least just now," said I, "for I thought you would be glad of it, so I've provided for your child." "Provided for her! how?" I then told him I had deposited her with my friends, the Sisters of Charity, at the Hospice, where both she and her health would be taken care of. At this he drew up, with an air of pompsity that was almost worthy of "my father," and said--while Miss R_____'s hideous, toad-like eyes were fixed upon him, "Those sort of things are all very well, if people have large fortunes." "Well," I broke in, "it will neither come out of your father's private fortune (whatever that may really be, it is so magnified to the public, and so contradicted to his family), nor out of his £5000 a year as Colonial Secretary; and, by doing without something else, I have no doubt I shall be able to manage £20 a year, even out of my splendid income."

But all my pleasures were still to come! The good peole of Taunton, when they heard I was to return safe and sound, wanted to give me a triumphal entry from the station. But upon my unhappy son's account, I wrote to Mrs. CLARKE to say how grateful I felt, and always should feel, to them for their great kindness and zeal on my behalf; but that they would greatly add to their kindness, if they would allow me to return to them as quietly as possible, as I was far from well. On my return, I found duplicates of the intercepted letters, which had not reached me abroad; they were all to the same purport, and in the same strain, viz., that it was natural for me tobelieve in my son, but imploring me not to trust him; as "the world paints him in the same colours as his father--black, and very black." And in confirmation o fthis, they enclosed me two infamous letters, tissues of the grossest falsehoods, which had appeared in The Times on Saturday, July the 17th, 1858, the very day I was taken from H_____'s stronghold, and hurried off without breathing time to Dover, which letters bore my son's signature! But knowing the unscrupulous use his Ruffian of a Father made of his name, I tried to hope that they were a concoction of his and L_____'s, and wrote of course to JUDAS H_____, and my OILY GAMMON of a trustee, Dr. R_____, about them. Mr. H_____ of course "very much disapproved" of these letters! but thought it better--no doubt he was paid for so doing--to let them die away, by not taking any notice of them! a nice way of defending a client truly! While Dr. OILY GAMMON "was quite shocked and started at them, and would certainly hae contradicted every false statement contained in them, had he been my trustee at the time (!!!) and he had quite dreaded the effect they would have on me when they came to my knowledge!" Yet the sneaking toady and loathsome double-dealer, being perfectly cognisant of them at the time, could, with all his pretended friendship and sympath! let me leave England with this mine of cowardly lies exploding after me, and continue his horrible hypocrisy by writing to me that my son "was a noble fellow"! Il parent en ce cas la que, noblesse! n'obligeant pas!11 I was also sent some Hertford Papers with a letter from that vile wretch, Miss R_____, saying that "she was bound to say (no doubt of it) that Sir EDWARD----had never been unkind to me! and that from the representations made to him (!!!!!!) he could not have done otherwise than send me to Mr. H_____'s establishment! which had been done solely for the benefit of my health." The attorney H_____, signing himself "Lady BULWER LYTTON'S Solicitor," was, of course, bound to tell the same lies. But the Hertford Papers opened a perfect battery of indignation upon that vile Miss R_____, saing--who could have but the worst opinion of a person who, for ten days had printed statements in not only the Hertford but London papers, that nothing could exceed Sir EDWARD'S cruelty to, and persecution of me for years, which she could vouch for before his culminating Conspiracy of the Madhouse, and that out of Hell there were not two other such demons as he and L_____. And then! in the short space of half an hour after her first interview with these men, she writes to say he had never been unkind to me! Why, they could only say that she was a bribed perjurer, and that if anything could damage Sir EDWARD more in public opinion, it would be her present sudden and contradictory statements respecting him. As for Mr. H_____! solicitors are a proverb for their elastic consciences. But it is the old story in all cases of the wicked strong against the innocent weak. Sir WALTER RALEIGH, it was arranged beforehand, was to be condemned; therefore, vain were his cloud of witnesses, his legions of facts, and his eloquence of truth. Just as, of course, Prime Ministers never are, under the most glaring and palpable of facts, to be found guilty in cases of crim. con.12 Why should they, with secret service money and unlimited patronage at their command? I remember that very clever, but intensely unprincipled literary man, Dr. MAGINN, as most literary men that I have had the misfortune to know are, telling me the clever dirty work he did in Lord MELBOURNE'S and that vile Mrs. NORTON'S trial; how he packed the Jury, and how he invalidated the testimony of the only witness they were afraid of--a footman, by worming out all his evidence, and sending it to her Counsel, and making the man so beastly drunk at the eleventh hour at a public house, "The Chequer's" at Westminster, that when he was called into Court it completely invalidated his evidence! And he also gave me chapters and verses of the exact sums of money--Baronetcies and civil service appointments--he had had to distribute in the higher quarters; old MELBOURNE sticking out more about the money than anything, but sending Sir JOSEPH YORKE to close with his demands at 7 o'clock on the morning of the Trial. But because MAGINN was a high Tory, the sapient public of course would never suspect him of doing dirty work for a Whig Premier. Yet this unscrupulous fellow, dining at my house at Bath at the time, showed me two articles he had written upon this Trial simultaneously, one, for the Tory John Bull and Standard, making Mrs. NORTON out ten times more scarlet than the Lady of Babylon; the other for a Whig organ proving her to be purer than unturned snow! which is the way Literature and Politics are conducted in this country. And my miserable lot in life having thrown me chiefly among Political and Literary Magnates, I have no hesitation in saying that all the misery and crime in this country (where--despite sermons--schools--refuges and reformations they are every frightfully on the increase), originate in the Stygian vices and blasphemous hypocrisy! of these two great motive powers. And have we not just been edified with another singal example of English virtue! and above all, English justice! in high places, in the Trial of "O'KANE versus O'KANE and PALMERSTON," where you perceive it was Mr. O'Kane's friends!! that negotiated the compromise! as poor dear Lord PALMERSTON could have no possible interest in the matter!--Oh dear no! so it was solely for Mr. O'KANE'S interest that he should accept Lord PALMERSTON'S money, offered by his O'KANE'S friends! and as Mrs. O'KANE'S had been a maid of Lady JOCELYN'S, and therefore had the run of Cambridge House, it's not liekly that a man of Lord PALMERSTON'S Cato-like virtue ever even looked at her. So the superannuated Joseph came out pure and spotless! (as most men are) amid the plaudits of a properly crammed court, dear COCKBURN having no doubt, sub rosa13, played the manager, and "animated the whole," even to inspiring Mr. O'Kane's friends with the ways and means to inspire O'KANE with a suitable idea of his own interest! Verily the force of humbug can no farther go! On my return to all these agreeable, perhaps not exactly, surprises, I had also the pleasure of finding that none of my debts of honour were paid, despite the solemn promises of all concerned that they were to be, before I crossed the Channel. Only JUDAS H_____ had been sent down in hot haste to Taunton to throw dust in the people's eyes by paing the tradespeople here, who were in no hurry to be paid, and whom I could much rather have paid myself on my return, when cordially thanking them all for their unanimous and active zeal, for they had even felt in their pockets for me, and told Mrs. CLARKE that two or three thousand pounds, or more, should be instantly raised if wanted for law expenses. The only person who had not sent in his bill was a Quaker uphosterer, who was owed £5.

(To be updated)

Endnotes[edit]

  1. au fait: incidental
  2. dramatis personæ: cast of characters
  3. &c.: etc.
  4. car ce n'est que la verté qui blesse: for it is only the truth that wounds
  5. Pur l'amour de Dieu!: For the love of God!
  6. avec les bonnes sœurs a l'Hospice: with the good sisters of the hospice
  7. Mère Superiere: Mother Superior
  8. necesaire: necessities
  9. le jeune homme charmant Monsieur votre fils: the charming young man, your son
  10. sachant sans doute . . . bleu de pere: undoubtedly knowing, that the blackguard R_____ was a Spy and recorded his every word--for his blue-beard of a father
  11. Il parent en ce cas la que, noblesse! n'obligeant pas!: It is relative, in this case, in that nobility is not obliging!
  12. sub rosa: secretly