Beelingo.com

English Audio Books

Phineas Finn the Irish Member

SPONSORED LINKS
<SPAN name="42"></SPAN>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>CHAPTER XLII</h3> <h3>Lady Baldock Does Not Send a Card to Phineas Finn<br />&nbsp;</h3> <p>Lady Baldock's house in Berkeley Square was very stately,&mdash;a large house with five front windows in a row, and a big door, and a huge square hall, and a fat porter in a round-topped chair;&mdash;but it was dingy and dull, and could not have been painted for the last ten years, or furnished for the last twenty. Nevertheless, Lady Baldock had "evenings," and people went to them,&mdash;though not such a crowd of people as would go to the evenings of Lady Glencora. Now Mr. Phineas Finn had not been asked to the evenings of Lady Baldock for the present season, and the reason was after this wise.</p> <p>"Yes, Mr. Finn," Lady Baldock had said to her daughter, who, early in the spring, was preparing the cards. "You may send one to Mr. Finn, certainly."</p> <p>"I don't know that he is very nice," said Augusta Boreham, whose eyes at Saulsby had been sharper perhaps than her mother's, and who had her suspicions.</p> <p>But Lady Baldock did not like interference from her daughter. "Mr. Finn, certainly," she continued. "They tell me that he is a very rising young man, and he sits for Lord Brentford's borough. Of course he is a Radical, but we cannot help that. All the rising young men are Radicals now. I thought him very civil at Saulsby."</p> <p>"But, mamma&mdash;"</p> <p>"Well!"</p> <p>"Don't you think that he is a little free with Violet?"</p> <p>"What on earth do you mean, Augusta?"</p> <p>"Have you not fancied that he is&mdash;fond of her?"</p> <p>"Good gracious, no!"</p> <p>"I think he is. And I have sometimes fancied that she is fond of him, too."</p> <p>"I don't believe a word of it, Augusta,&mdash;not a word. I should have seen it if it was so. I am very sharp in seeing such things. They never escape me. Even Violet would not be such a fool as that. Send him a card, and if he comes I shall soon see." Miss Boreham quite understood her mother, though she could never master her,&mdash;and the card was prepared. Miss Boreham could never master her mother by her own efforts; but it was, I think, by a little intrigue on her part that Lady Baldock was mastered, and, indeed, altogether cowed, in reference to our hero, and that this victory was gained on that very afternoon in time to prevent the sending of the card.</p> <p>When the mother and daughter were at tea, before dinner, Lord Baldock came into the room, and, after having been patted and petted and praised by his mother, he took up all the cards out of a china bowl and ran his eyes over them. "Lord Fawn!" he said, "the greatest ass in all London! Lady Hartletop! you know she won't come." "I don't see why she shouldn't come," said Lady Baldock;&mdash;"a mere country clergyman's daughter!" "Julius C&aelig;sar Conway;&mdash;a great friend of mine, and therefore he always blackballs my other friends at the club. Lord Chiltern; I thought you were at daggers drawn with Chiltern." "They say he is going to be reconciled to his father, Gustavus, and I do it for Lord Brentford's sake. And he won't come, so it does not signify. And I do believe that Violet has really refused him." "You are quite right about his not coming," said Lord Baldock, continuing to read the cards; "Chiltern certainly won't come. Count Sparrowsky;&mdash;I wonder what you know about Sparrowsky that you should ask him here." "He is asked about, Gustavus; he is indeed," pleaded Lady Baldock. "I believe that Sparrowsky is a penniless adventurer. Mr. Monk; well, he is a Cabinet Minister. Sir Gregory Greeswing; you mix your people nicely at any rate. Sir Gregory Greeswing is the most old-fashioned Tory in England." "Of course we are not political, Gustavus." "Phineas Finn. They come alternately,&mdash;one and one.</p> <p>"Mr. Finn is asked everywhere, Gustavus."</p> <p>"I don't doubt it. They say he is a very good sort of fellow. They say also that Violet has found that out as well as other people."</p> <p>"What do you mean, Gustavus?"</p> <p>"I mean that everybody is saying that this Phineas Finn is going to set himself up in the world by marrying your niece. He is quite right to try it on, if he has a chance."</p> <p>"I don't think he would be right at all," said Lady Baldock, with much energy. "I think he would be wrong,&mdash;shamefully wrong. They say he is the son of an Irish doctor, and that he hasn't a shilling in the world."</p> <p>"That is just why he would be right. What is such a man to do, but to marry money? He's a deuced good-looking fellow, too, and will be sure to do it."</p> <p>"He should work for his money in the city, then, or somewhere there. But I don't believe it, Gustavus; I don't, indeed."</p> <p>"Very well. I only tell you what I hear. The fact is that he and Chiltern have already quarrelled about her. If I were to tell you that they have been over to Holland together and fought a duel about her, you wouldn't believe that."</p> <p>"Fought a duel about Violet! People don't fight duels now, and I should not believe it."</p> <p>"Very well. Then send your card to Mr. Finn." And, so saying, Lord Baldock left the room.</p> <p>Lady Baldock sat in silence for some time toasting her toes at the fire, and Augusta Boreham sat by, waiting for orders. She felt pretty nearly sure that new orders would be given if she did not herself interfere. "You had better put by that card for the present, my dear," said Lady Baldock at last. "I will make inquiries. I don't believe a word of what Gustavus has said. I don't think that even Violet is such a fool as that. But if rash and ill-natured people have spoken of it, it may be as well to be careful."</p> <p>"It is always well to be careful;&mdash;is it not, mamma?"</p> <p>"Not but what I think it very improper that these things should be said about a young woman; and as for the story of the duel, I don't believe a word of it. It is absurd. I dare say that Gustavus invented it at the moment, just to amuse himself."</p> <p>The card of course was not sent, and Lady Baldock at any rate put so much faith in her son's story as to make her feel it to be her duty to interrogate her niece on the subject. Lady Baldock at this period of her life was certainly not free from fear of Violet Effingham. In the numerous encounters which took place between them, the aunt seldom gained that amount of victory which would have completely satisfied her spirit. She longed to be dominant over her niece as she was dominant over her daughter; and when she found that she missed such supremacy, she longed to tell Violet to depart from out her borders, and be no longer niece of hers. But had she ever done so, Violet would have gone at the instant, and then terrible things would have followed. There is a satisfaction in turning out of doors a nephew or niece who is pecuniarily dependent, but when the youthful relative is richly endowed, the satisfaction is much diminished. It is the duty of a guardian, no doubt, to look after the ward; but if this cannot be done, the ward's money should at least be held with as close a fist as possible. But Lady Baldock, though she knew that she would be sorely wounded, poked about on her old body with the sharp lances of disobedience, and struck with the cruel swords of satire, if she took upon herself to scold or even to question Violet, nevertheless would not abandon the pleasure of lecturing and teaching. "It is my duty," she would say to herself, "and though it be taken in a bad spirit, I will always perform my duty." So she performed her duty, and asked Violet Effingham some few questions respecting Phineas Finn. "My dear," she said, "do you remember meeting a Mr. Finn at Saulsby?"</p> <p>"A Mr. Finn, aunt! Why, he is a particular friend of mine. Of course I do, and he was at Saulsby. I have met him there more than once. Don't you remember that we were riding about together?"</p> <p>"I remember that he was there, certainly; but I did not know that he was a special&mdash;friend."</p> <p>"Most especial, aunt. A 1, I may say;&mdash;among young men, I mean."</p> <p>Lady Baldock was certainly the most indiscreet of old women in such a matter as this, and Violet the most provoking of young ladies. Lady Baldock, believing that there was something to fear,&mdash;as, indeed, there was, much to fear,&mdash;should have been content to destroy the card, and to keep the young lady away from the young gentleman, if such keeping away was possible to her. But Miss Effingham was certainly very wrong to speak of any young man as being A 1. Fond as I am of Miss Effingham, I cannot justify her, and must acknowledge that she used the most offensive phrase she could find, on purpose to annoy her aunt.</p> <p>"Violet," said Lady Baldock, bridling up, "I never heard such a word before from the lips of a young lady."</p> <p>"Not as A 1? I thought it simply meant very good."</p> <p>"A 1 is a nobleman," said Lady Baldock.</p> <p>"No, aunt;&mdash;A 1 is a ship,&mdash;a ship that is very good," said Violet.</p> <p>"And do you mean to say that Mr. Finn is,&mdash;is,&mdash;is,&mdash;very good?"</p> <p>"Yes, indeed. You ask Lord Brentford, and Mr. Kennedy. You know he saved poor Mr. Kennedy from being throttled in the streets."</p> <p>"That has nothing to do with it. A policeman might have done that."</p> <p>"Then he would have been A 1 of policemen,&mdash;though A 1 does not mean a policeman."</p> <p>"He would have done his duty, and so perhaps did Mr. Finn."</p> <p>"Of course he did, aunt. It couldn't have been his duty to stand by and see Mr. Kennedy throttled. And he nearly killed one of the men, and took the other prisoner with his own hands. And he made a beautiful speech the other day. I read every word of it. I am so glad he's a Liberal. I do like young men to be Liberals." Now Lord Baldock was a Tory, as had been all the Lord Baldocks,&mdash;since the first who had been bought over from the Whigs in the time of George III at the cost of a barony.</p> <p>"You have nothing to do with politics, Violet."</p> <p>"Why shouldn't I have something to do with politics, aunt?"</p> <p>"And I must tell you that your name is being very unpleasantly mentioned in connection with that of this young man because of your indiscretion."</p> <p>"What indiscretion?" Violet, as she made her demand for a more direct accusation, stood quite upright before her aunt, looking the old woman full in the face,&mdash;almost with her arms akimbo.</p> <p>"Calling him A 1, Violet."</p> <p>"People have been talking about me and Mr. Finn, because I just now, at this very moment, called him A 1 to you! If you want to scold me about anything, aunt, do find out something less ridiculous than that."</p> <p>"It was most improper language,&mdash;and if you used it to me, I am sure you would to others."</p> <p>"To what others?"</p> <p>"To Mr. Finn,&mdash;and those sort of people."</p> <p>"Call Mr. Finn A 1 to his face! Well,&mdash;upon my honour I don't know why I should not. Lord Chiltern says he rides beautifully, and if we were talking about riding I might do so."</p> <p>"You have no business to talk to Lord Chiltern about Mr. Finn at all."</p> <p>"Have I not? I thought that perhaps the one sin might palliate the other. You know, aunt, no young lady, let her be ever so ill-disposed, can marry two objectionable young men,&mdash;at the same time."</p> <p>"I said nothing about your marrying Mr. Finn."</p> <p>"Then, aunt, what did you mean?"</p> <p>"I meant that you should not allow yourself to be talked of with an adventurer, a young man without a shilling, a person who has come from nobody knows where in the bogs of Ireland."</p> <p>"But you used to ask him here."</p> <p>"Yes,&mdash;as long as he knew his place. But I shall not do so again. And I must beg you to be circumspect."</p> <p>"My dear aunt, we may as well understand each other. I will not be circumspect, as you call it. And if Mr. Finn asked me to marry him to-morrow, and if I liked him well enough, I would take him,&mdash;even though he had been dug right out of a bog. Not only because I liked him,&mdash;mind! If I were unfortunate enough to like a man who was nothing, I would refuse him in spite of my liking,&mdash;because he was nothing. But this young man is not nothing. Mr. Finn is a fine fellow, and if there were no other reason to prevent my marrying him than his being the son of a doctor, and coming out of the bogs, that would not do so. Now I have made a clean breast to you as regards Mr. Finn; and if you do not like what I've said, aunt, you must acknowledge that you have brought it on yourself."</p> <p>Lady Baldock was left for a time speechless. But no card was sent to Phineas Finn.</p> <p><SPAN name="43"></SPAN>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>CHAPTER XLIII</h3> <h3>Promotion<br />&nbsp;</h3> <p>Phineas got no card from Lady Baldock, but one morning he received a note from Lord Brentford which was of more importance to him than any card could have been. At this time, bit by bit, the Reform Bill of the day had nearly made its way through the committee, but had been so mutilated as to be almost impossible of recognition by its progenitors. And there was still a clause or two as to the rearrangement of seats, respecting which it was known that there would be a combat,&mdash;probably combats,&mdash;carried on after the internecine fashion. There was a certain clipping of counties to be done, as to which it was said that Mr. Daubeny had declared that he would not yield till he was made to do so by the brute force of majorities;&mdash;and there was another clause for the drafting of certain superfluous members from little boroughs, and bestowing them on populous towns at which they were much wanted, respecting which Mr. Turnbull had proclaimed that the clause as it now stood was a fain&eacute;ant clause, capable of doing, and intended to do, no good in the proper direction; a clause put into the bill to gull ignorant folk who had not eyes enough to recognise the fact that it was fain&eacute;ant; a make-believe clause,&mdash;so said Mr. Turnbull,&mdash;to be detested on that account by every true reformer worse than the old Philistine bonds and Tory figments of representation, as to which there was at least no hypocritical pretence of popular fitness. Mr. Turnbull had been very loud and very angry,&mdash;had talked much of demonstrations among the people, and had almost threatened the House. The House in its present mood did not fear any demonstrations,&mdash;but it did fear that Mr. Turnbull might help Mr. Daubeny, and that Mr. Daubeny might help Mr. Turnbull. It was now May,&mdash;the middle of May,&mdash;and ministers, who had been at work on their Reform Bill ever since the beginning of the session, were becoming weary of it. And then, should these odious clauses escape the threatened Turnbull-Daubeny alliance,&mdash;then there was the House of Lords! "What a pity we can't pass our bills at the Treasury, and have done with them!" said Laurence Fitzgibbon. "Yes, indeed," replied Mr. Ratler. "For myself, I was never so tired of a session in my life. I wouldn't go through it again to be made,&mdash;no, not to be made Chancellor of the Exchequer."</p> <p>Lord Brentford's note to Phineas Finn was as follows:&mdash;<br />&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p class="jright"><i>House of Lords, 16th May, 186&ndash;&ndash;</i>.</p> <p class="noindent">My dear Mr. Finn,</p> <p>You are no doubt aware that Lord Bosanquet's death has taken Mr. Mottram into the Upper House, and that as he was Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and as the Under-Secretary must be in the Lower House, the vacancy must be filled up.<br />&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p class="noindent">The heart of Phineas Finn at this moment was almost in his mouth. Not only to be selected for political employment, but to be selected at once for an office so singularly desirable! Under-Secretaries, he fancied, were paid two thousand a year. What would Mr. Low say now? But his great triumph soon received a check. "Mr. Mildmay has spoken to me on the subject," continued the letter, "and informs me that he has offered the place at the colonies to his old supporter, Mr. Laurence Fitzgibbon." Laurence Fitzgibbon!<br />&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p>I am inclined to think that he could not have done better, as Mr. Fitzgibbon has shown great zeal for his party. This will vacate the Irish seat at the Treasury Board, and I am commissioned by Mr. Mildmay to offer it to you. Perhaps you will do me the pleasure of calling on me to-morrow between the hours of eleven and twelve.</p> <p class="ind10">Yours very sincerely,</p> <p class="ind15"><span class="smallcaps">Brentford</span>.<br />&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>Phineas was himself surprised to find that his first feeling on reading this letter was one of dissatisfaction. Here were his golden hopes about to be realised,&mdash;hopes as to the realisation of which he had been quite despondent twelve months ago,&mdash;and yet he was uncomfortable because he was to be postponed to Laurence Fitzgibbon. Had the new Under-Secretary been a man whom he had not known, whom he had not learned to look down upon as inferior to himself, he would not have minded it,&mdash;would have been full of joy at the promotion proposed for himself. But Laurence Fitzgibbon was such a poor creature, that the idea of filling a place from which Laurence had risen was distasteful to him. "It seems to be all a matter of favour and convenience," he said to himself, "without any reference to the service." His triumph would have been so complete had Mr. Mildmay allowed him to go into the higher place at one leap. Other men who had made themselves useful had done so. In the first hour after receiving Lord Brentford's letter, the idea of becoming a Lord of the Treasury was almost displeasing to him. He had an idea that junior lordships of the Treasury were generally bestowed on young members whom it was convenient to secure, but who were not good at doing anything. There was a moment in which he thought that he would refuse to be made a junior lord.</p> <p>But during the night cooler reflections told him that he had been very wrong. He had taken up politics with the express desire of getting his foot upon a rung of the ladder of promotion, and now, in his third session, he was about to be successful. Even as a junior lord he would have a thousand a year; and how long might he have sat in chambers, and have wandered about Lincoln's Inn, and have loitered in the courts striving to look as though he had business, before he would have earned a thousand a year! Even as a junior lord he could make himself useful, and when once he should be known to be a good working man, promotion would come to him. No ladder can be mounted without labour; but this ladder was now open above his head, and he already had his foot upon it.</p> <p>At half-past eleven he was with Lord Brentford, who received him with the blandest smile and a pressure of the hand which was quite cordial. "My dear Finn," he said, "this gives me the most sincere pleasure,&mdash;the greatest pleasure in the world. Our connection together at Loughton of course makes it doubly agreeable to me."</p> <p>"I cannot be too grateful to you, Lord Brentford."</p> <p>"No, no; no, no. It is all your own doing. When Mr. Mildmay asked me whether I did not think you the most promising of the young members on our side in your House, I certainly did say that I quite concurred. But I should be taking too much on myself, I should be acting dishonestly, if I were to allow you to imagine that it was my proposition. Had he asked me to recommend, I should have named you; that I say frankly. But he did not. He did not. Mr. Mildmay named you himself. 'Do you think,' he said, 'that your friend Finn would join us at the Treasury?' I told him that I did think so. 'And do you not think,' said he, 'that it would be a useful appointment?' Then I ventured to say that I had no doubt whatever on that point;&mdash;that I knew you well enough to feel confident that you would lend a strength to the Liberal Government. Then there were a few words said about your seat, and I was commissioned to write to you. That was all."</p> <p>Phineas was grateful, but not too grateful, and bore himself very well in the interview. He explained to Lord Brentford that of course it was his object to serve the country,&mdash;and to be paid for his services,&mdash;and that he considered himself to be very fortunate to be selected so early in his career for parliamentary place. He would endeavour to do his duty, and could safely say of himself that he did not wish to eat the bread of idleness. As he made this assertion, he thought of Laurence Fitzgibbon. Laurence Fitzgibbon had eaten the bread of idleness, and yet he was promoted. But Phineas said nothing to Lord Brentford about his idle friend. When he had made his little speech he asked a question about the borough.</p> <p>"I have already ventured to write a letter to my agent at Loughton, telling him that you have accepted office, and that you will be shortly there again. He will see Shortribs and arrange it. But if I were you I should write to Shortribs and to Grating,&mdash;after I had seen Mr. Mildmay. Of course you will not mention my name," And the Earl looked very grave as he uttered this caution.</p> <p>"Of course I will not," said Phineas.</p> <p>"I do not think you'll find any difficulty about the seat," said the peer. "There never has been any difficulty at Loughton yet. I must say that for them. And if we can scrape through with Clause 72 we shall be all right;&mdash;shall we not?" This was the clause as to which so violent an opposition was expected from Mr. Turnbull,&mdash;a clause as to which Phineas himself had felt that he would hardly know how to support the Government, in the event of the committee being pressed to a division upon it. Could he, an ardent reformer, a reformer at heart,&mdash;could he say that such a borough as Loughton should be spared;&mdash;that the arrangement by which Shortribs and Grating had sent him to Parliament, in obedience to Lord Brentford's orders, was in due accord with the theory of a representative legislature? In what respect had Gatton and Old Sarum been worse than Loughton? Was he not himself false to his principle in sitting for such a borough as Loughton? He had spoken to Mr. Monk, and Mr. Monk had told him that Rome was not built in a day,&mdash;and had told him also that good things were most valued and were more valuable when they came by instalments. But then Mr. Monk himself enjoyed the satisfaction of sitting for a popular Constituency. He was not personally pricked in the conscience by his own parliamentary position. Now, however,&mdash;now that Phineas had consented to join the Government, any such considerations as these must be laid aside. He could no longer be a free agent, or even a free thinker. He had been quite aware of this, and had taught himself to understand that members of Parliament in the direct service of the Government were absolved from the necessity of free-thinking. Individual free-thinking was incompatible with the position of a member of the Government, and unless such abnegation were practised, no government would be possible. It was of course a man's duty to bind himself together with no other men but those with whom, on matters of general policy, he could agree heartily;&mdash;but having found that he could so agree, he knew that it would be his duty as a subaltern to vote as he was directed. It would trouble his conscience less to sit for Loughton and vote for an objectionable clause as a member of the Government, than it would have done to give such a vote as an independent member. In so resolving, he thought that he was simply acting in accordance with the acknowledged rules of parliamentary government. And therefore, when Lord Brentford spoke of Clause 72, he could answer pleasantly, "I think we shall carry it; and, you see, in getting it through committee, if we can carry it by one, that is as good as a hundred. That's the comfort of close-fighting in committee. In the open House we are almost as much beaten by a narrow majority as by a vote against us."</p> <p>"Just so; just so," said Lord Brentford, delighted to see that his young pupil,&mdash;as he regarded him,&mdash;understood so well the system of parliamentary management. "By-the-bye, Finn, have you seen Chiltern lately?"</p> <p>"Not quite lately," said Phineas, blushing up to his eyes.</p> <p>"Or heard from him?"</p> <p>"No;&mdash;nor heard from him. When last I heard of him he was in Brussels."</p> <p>"Ah,&mdash;yes; he is somewhere on the Rhine now. I thought that as you were so intimate, perhaps you corresponded with him. Have you heard that we have arranged about Lady Laura's money?"</p> <p>"I have heard. Lady Laura has told me."</p> <p>"I wish he would return," said Lord Brentford sadly,&mdash;almost solemnly. "As that great difficulty is over, I would receive him willingly, and make my house pleasant to him, if I can do so. I am most anxious that he should settle, and marry. Could you not write to him?" Phineas, not daring to tell Lord Brentford that he had quarrelled with Lord Chiltern,&mdash;feeling that if he did so everything would go wrong,&mdash;said that he would write to Lord Chiltern.</p> <p>As he went away he felt that he was bound to get an answer from Violet Effingham. If it should be necessary, he was willing to break with Lord Brentford on that matter,&mdash;even though such breaking should lose him his borough and his place;&mdash;but not on any other matter.</p> <p>
SPONSORED LINKS