< previous chapter <  |  THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON  |  > next chapter >




    HAVING reassured Lady Cecilia Harborough relative to the alarm inspired by the intrusion of Chichester at so critical a moment, Mr. Greenwood returned to his own residence in Spring Gardens.
    "Any one called, Lafleur?" he said to his favourite valet, as he ascended to his study.
    "Two gentlemen; sir. Their cards are upon your desk. They both declared that they would call again to day."
    Mr. Greenwood hastened to inspect the cards of his two visitors. One contained the following name and address    


Reform Club.

The other presented the annexed superscription to view :-


Carlton Club 

    "Ah! ha!" exclaimed Mr. Greenwood, chuckling audibly: "I understand what this mean : Already at work, eh? No time to be lost, I see." Then turning towards Lalleur, he added, "You see, my good fellow, that when a man like me - a man of - of - consideration, in a word - becomes entrusted with the interests of a free, enlightened, and independent constituency, like that of Rottenborough, the Ministerial party and the Opposition each endeavour to secure me to their cause - you understand, Lafleur - eh?"
    "Perfectly, sir," answered the imperturbable valet, with his usual bow.
    "Well, then, Lafleur," continued Mr. Greenwood, "you must know farther that each party has its whipper-in. The whippers-in keep lists of those who belong respectively to their own parties, and collect them together when their support is absolutely necessary on a division of the House. In fact, the whippers-in are the huntsmen of the pack: and the members all collect at the sound of their bugles. Do you comprehend, Lafleur!"
    "Yes, sir - thank you, sir."
    "I must therefore see both these gentlemen - but separately, mind. If they should happen to call at the same time, show one into the drawing-room while I receive the other here."
    "Yes, sir,"
    [-214-] "And now, Lafleur," proceeded Mr. Greenwood, " while we are upon the subject, I may as well give you a few instructions relative to that deportment which my altered position renders necessary."
    Lafleur bowed.
    "Placed in a situation of high responsibility and trust, by the confidence of an intelligent and enlightened constituency," resumed Mr Greenwood, "I am bound to maintain a position which may inspire respect and confidence. In the first place, as it cannot be supposed that I shall receive many epistolary communications until my opinions upon particular measures and questions become known through my parliamentary conduct, - and as, at the same tine, it would be disgraceful for the neighbourhood to imagine that my correspondence is limited, you must take care that the two-penny postman never passes my door without leaving a letter."
    "Yes, sir. I will have a letter, addressed to you, posted every two hours, sir, so that you cannot fail to receive one by each delivery."
    "Good, Lafleur; and you can tell the postman," added Mr. Greenwood, "to knock louder than he has been in the habit of doing  —"
    "Yes, sir; because it is difficult to hear from the servants' offices."
    " Precisely, Lafleur. And you can tell our newsman to bring me all the second editions of the newspapers whenever there are any; and mind you always keep the news-boy waiting a long time at the door. Tell him, moreover, to bawl out 'second edition' of whatever paper it may be, as loud as he can."
   "I will take care he shall do so, sir," answered Lafleur.
   "And once a week, or so," proceeded Greenwood, after a pause, " let an express-courier gallop at full speed up to the house, and ring and knock furiously until the door is opened. But, mind that he comes from at least three or four miles distant, so that his horse may be covered with foam, and himself with mud or dust, according to the state of the weather."
    " I understand, sir."
    "Moreover, Lafleur, at least three or four times a week, go to Leadenhall Market and purchase the game and poultry which we may require for the house, and send it home by the London Parcels Delivery Company, so that the neighbours may say, 'More presents for Mr. Greenwood. Dear me! how popular he must be with his constituents!'"
    "I fully comprehend, sir."
    "You can send fish home, too,- and haunches of venison in the same manner," continued the new Member of Parliament; " but mind that the feathers of the pheasants, the tails of the fish, and the feet of the haunches always hang out of the baskets in which they are packed."
    "Oh! certainly, sir."
    "If you could possibly get a charity-school to wait upon me some morning, to solicit me to become a patron, or any thing of that sort, it would do good, and I should make a handsome donation to the funds."
    "That can be managed, sir. I can safely promise that seventy boys and ninety girls shall wait upon you in procession any day you choose to appoint."
    "Well and good, Lafleur. And mind that they are kept standing for three quarters of an hour in the street before they are admitted."
    "As a matter of course, sir."
    "And now I will just mention a few things," continued Mr. Greenwood, "that you most manage  with very great nicety. Indeed, I know I can rely upon you in every thing."
    Lafleur bowed.
   "You must turn away all Italian organ-players. The moment one shows himself under our windows, let one of the footmen rush out and order him off. It is not proper to encourage such vagabonds: the aristocracy don't like them."
    "Certainly not, sir."
    "Organ-playing is a thing I am determined to put an end to. There is also the hoop nuisance. Give any boy into charge, whatever may be his age, who is caught trundling a hoop in Spring Gardens. That is another thing I am resolved to put an end to. Ballad-singers and broom-girls you will of course have taken into custody without hesitation. In fact you had better give the policeman upon the beat general instructions upon this head; and you can slip a guinea into his hand at the same time."
    "Very good, sir."
    "At the same time we must be charitable, Lafleur - we must be charitable."
    "Decidedly, sir."
    "You must find out some decent woman with half a dozen children, to whom the broken victuals can be given every day at about three o'clock, when there are plenty of people in the street ;- a woman who does not exactly want the food, but who will not refuse it. The respectability of her appearance will be set down to my benevolence, Lafleur; and she must be careful always to come with her children. By these means we shall gain the reputation of being judiciously particular in respect to vagabonds and impostors, but charitable in the extreme to the deserving poor."
    "Just so, sir."
    "One word more, Lafleur. When any person calls whom you know I do not want to see, say, 'Mr. Greenwood is engaged with a deputation from his constituents;' or else, 'Mr. Greenwood has just received very important dispatches, and cannot be disturbed;'  - or, again, 'Mr. Greenwood has just stepped down as far as the Home Office.'  You fully comprehend."
    "Perfectly, sir."
    "Then you may retire, Lafleur. But - by the bye - Lafleur!"
    " Yes, sir? "
    "I shall add twenty guineas a year to your wages from this date, Lafleur," said Mr. Greenwood.
    "Thank you, sir, answered the valet; and, with a low bow, he retired.
    "Another step gained in the ladder of ambition! " said Greenwood to himself, when e was alone. "A Member of Parliament - and in spite of Lord Tremordyn! ha! ha! ha! In spite of Lord Tremordyn! Oh most intelligent and independent electors of Rottenborough: I bought your suffrages with gold, with fine words, with clowns and mountebanks; and with pots of beer! Free and enlightened electors! ha! ha! I shall turn against the very interest in which I was elected; but if my constituents grumble, I will silence them with more gold ;- if they reproach, I will use all the sophistry of which language is capable-and that is not a little ;- if they repine, I will win them back to good humour with fresh sights, and buffoons, and galas;  - if they grow dry with talking against me, I will have whole pipes of wine and butts of beer broached in their streets! Yes - I must join the Tory interest: I see that it is now upon the rise. And yet I know- I  feel in my heart - I have the conviction that the popular cause is the true one, the just one. [-215-]    But what of that? I stood forward as a candidate to suit myself, and not for the sake of the free and independent electors of Rottenborough! Yes, all goes well with me! An occasional annoyance - such as my failure in obtaining possession of the person of Eliza Sydney, and of the hand of Isabella, the lovely Italian - cannot be avoided ;- but in all great points - in all my important views, I am successful I And yet, Isabella - Isabella! Upon her the eye that is wearied with the contemplation of the rude and discordant scenes of life, could rest - could rest with unfeigned, with ineffable delight! O Isabella, there are times when thine image comes before me, like the vision of a holy and chaste Madonna to the sleep-bound mind of the pious Catholic ;- and there have been solitary hours in which the whole earth has seemed to me to be covered with flowers beneath the sweet sunlight of thine eyes! And yet - who knows? The day may come when even thou shalt he mine! I longed to languish in the arms of Diana Arlington ;- and I had my wish. I coveted the patrician loveliness of Cecilia Harborough ;- and, behold! my wealth purchased it. I sought for change; and accident - a strange accident - surrendered to my embraces another - yes, another - whom I have never seen since that day - now more than two months ago, - but who, I have since learnt through the medium of my faithful Lafleur, dwells in the same house with —"
    Mr. Greenwood's reverie was interrupted by the entrance of his valet, who introduced the Honourable Mr. Sawder into the study. The new Member of Parliament received the Whig whipper-in with his usual courtesy of manner; and, when they were both seated, Mr. Sawder felicitated Mr. Greenwood upon the successful result of the Rottenborough election.
    "The liberal cause triumphed most signally," said Mr. Sawder: "the result was hailed with enthusiasm at the Reform Club, I can assure you."
    "I have no doubt," answered Mr. Greenwood, already adopting the method of evasion so much in vogue amongst diplomatic and political circles,- "I have no doubt that every true lover of his country must be rejoiced at the victory achieved by straightforward conduct over the system of bribery, intimidation, and corruption practised by the nominee of Lord Tremordyn and his agents."
    "Oh! certainly - certainly," returned Mr. Sawder. " The object of my present visit is to ascertain whether you will permit me to introduce you to the House this evening?"
    "It is my intention to take the oaths and my seat this evening," answered Mr. Greenwood.
    "And my services as chaperon —"
    " You really confer a great honour upon me."
    "Then I may consider that you accept —"
    "My dear sir, how can I sufficiently thank you for this kind interest which you take in my behalf?"
    "Pray do not mention it, Mr. Greenwood."
    "No, Mr. Sawder, I will not allude to it; since it is the more to be appreciated, inasmuch as I never had the pleasure of being known to you previous to this occasion."
    " I am therefore to understand," said the whipper-in, who could not precisely fathom the new member through the depths of these ambiguous phrases, "that you will allow me the honour of introducing you —"
    "The honour, my dear sir, would be with me," observed Mr. Greenwood, with a gracious bow.
    "At what hour, then, will you be prepared —"
    "My time shall henceforth always be devoted to the interests of my constituents."
    "A very noble sentiment, my dear Mr. Greenwood," said the whipper-in. "Shall we then fix the ceremony for five o'clock?"
    "Five o clock is an excellent hour, Mr. Sawder - an excellent hour. I know no hour that I like more than five o'clock," exclaimed Mr. Greenwood.
    "Be it five, then," said the whipper.in. " And now, relative to the Reform club - when will it please you to be proposed a member?"
    "It will please me, my dear sir, at any time, to join that fraternity of honourable gentlemen with whom I shall in future co-operate."
    "Well and good, my dear sir," said Mr. Sawder and he slowly and reluctantly took his leave, not knowing what to make of the new member for Rotten borough, nor whether to calculate upon his adhesion to the Whig cause, or not.
    Scarcely had the Honourable Mr. V. W. Y. Sawder, M. P., driven away in his beautiful cabriolet from Mr. Greenwood's door, when Sir T. M. B. Muzzlehem, Bart., M. P. arrived in his brougham at the same point. But if Mr. Greenwood were evasive and ambiguous to the Whig whipper-in, he was clear and lucid to the Tory one.
    Sir T. Muzzlehem began by felicitating him upon his election, and in a verbose harangue, expressed his hopes that Mr. Greenwood would support that cause "the object of which was to maintain the glorious old constitution inviolate, and uphold the Established Church in its unity and integrity."
    "Those are precisely my intentions," said Mr. Greenwood.
    "I am delighted to hear you say so, my dear sir," resumed the Tory whipper-in; "but I have one deep cause of uneasiness, which is that you may not entertain precisely the same views of what is necessary to maintain these honourable and ancient institutions, as the men who would gladly lay down their lives to benefit their country."
    "I believe, Sir Thomas Muzzlehem," answered Mr. Greenwood, " that I shall act according to the wishes of my constituents, the dictates of my own conscience, and the views of the illustrious men of whom you speak."
    " In which case, my dear Mr. Greenwood, I am of course to understand that you will be one of us - one of the true defenders of the Throne, the Constitution, and the Church —"
    "In other words, a Conservative," added Mr. Greenwood.
    "Bravo!" ejaculated the whipper-in, unable to conceal his joy at this unexpected result of a visit whose object he had at first deemed certain of defeat then, shaking Mr. Greenwood heartily by the hand, he said, "At what hour shall I have the pleasure of introducing you this evening?"
    "At a quarter to five precisely," replied Mr. Greenwood.
    "And of course you will become a member of the Carlton?" added the whipper-in.
    " Of course - whenever you choose - as early as possible," said Mr. Greenwood.
    Sir Thomas Muzzlehem again wrung the hand oh the new member, and then took his leave.
    The moment he had departed, Lafleur repaired to the study, and said, "A lady, sir, is waiting to see you in the drawing-room."
    "A lady!" ejaculated Mr. Greenwood: " who is she?"
    "I do no know, sir. She refused to give me hat name; and I have never seen her before."
    "How did she come?"
    "On foot, sir. She is neatly, but plainly dressed; [-216-] and yet her manners seem to indicate that she is a lady."
    "Strange! who can she be?" murmured Greenwood, as he hastened to the drawing-room.

< previous chapter <  |  THE MYSTERIES OF LONDON  |  > next chapter >