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DIARY OF A LATE PHYSICIAN.
MOTHER AND SON.
This may be considered the most mournful extract from my Diary. It appears to me a touching and terrible disclosure of the misery, disgrace, and ruin consequent on GAMBLING. Not that I imagine it possible, even by the most moving exhibition, to soften the more than nether millstone hardness of a gamester's heart, or enable a voluntary victim to break from the meshes in which he has suffered himself to be entangled; but the lamentable cries ascending from this pit of horror, may scare off those who are thoughtlessly approaching its brink. The moral of the following events may be gathered up into a word or two:-Oh! be wise—and be wise in time!
I took more than ordinary pains to acquaint myself with the transactions which are hereafter specified; and some of the means I adopted are occasionally mentioned, as I go on with the narrative. It may be as well to state, that the events detailed are assigned a date which barely comes within the present century. I have reason, nevertheless, to know, that at least one of the guilty agents still survives to pollute the earth with his presence; and if that individual should presume to gainsay any portion of the following narrative, his impotent efforts will meet with the disdain they merit!
Mr Beauchamp came to the full receipt of a fortune of two or three thousand a-year, which, though hereditary, was at his absolute disposal about the period of his return from those continental peregrinations which are judged essential to complete an English gentleman's education. External circumstances seemed to combine in his favour. Happiness and honour in life were insured him at the cost of very moderate exertions on. his own part—and those requisite, not to originate, or continue his course—but only to guide it. No one was better apprized than himself of the precise position he occupied in life; yet the apparent immunity from the cares and anxieties of life, which seemed irrevocably secured to him, instead of producing its natural effect on a well-ordered mind, of stimulating it to honourable action, led to widely different, most melancholy, but by no means unusual results—a prostitution of his energies and opportunities to the service of fashionable dissipation. The restraints to which, during a long minority, he had been subjected by his admirable mother, who nursed his fortune as sedulously, but more successfully, than she cultivated his mind and morals—served, alas ! little other purpose than to whet his appetite for the pleasurable pursuits to which he considered himself entitled, and from which he had been so long and unnecessarily debarred. All these forbidden fruits, clustered before him in tempting, but unhallowed splendour, the instant that Oxford threw open its portals to receive him. He found there many spirits as ardent and dissatisfied with past restraints as himself. The principal features of his character were flexibility and credulity; and his leading propensity-one that, like the wrath of Achilles, drew after it innumerable sorrows—the love of play.
The first false step he made was an unfortunate selection of a tutor ; a man of agreeable and compliant manners, but utterly worthless in point of moral character; one who had impoverished himself, when first at college, by gaming, but who, having learned “ wisdom,” was now a subtle and cautious gamester. He was one of a set of notorious pluckers, among whom, shameful to relate, were found several young men of rank: and wliose business it was to seek out freshmen for their dupes. Eccles
the name I shall give the tutor was an able mathematician; and that was the only thing that Beauchamp looked to in selecting him. Beauchamp got regularly introduced to the set to which his tutor belonged; but his mother's lively and incessant surveillance put it out of his power to embarrass himself by serious losses. He was long enough, however, apprenticed to guilt, to form the habits and disposition of a gamester. The cunning Eccles, when anxiously interrogated by Mrs Beauchamp about her son's general conduct, gave his pupil a flourishing character, both for moral excellence and literary attainments, and acquitted him of any tendency to the vices usually prevalent at college. And all this, when Eccles knew that he had seen, but a few weeks before, among his pupil's papers, copies of long bills, accepted payable on his reaching twenty-one-to the tune of £1500 ; and further, that he, the tutor himself, was the holder of one of these acceptances; which ensured him £500 for the £300 he had kindly furnished for his pupil! His demure and plausible air quite took with the unsuspicious Mrs Beauchamp; and she thought it impossible that her son could find a fitter companion to the Continent !
On young Beauchamp's return to England, the first thing he did was to despatch his obsequious tutor into the country, to trumpet his pupil's praises to his mother, and apprize her of his coming. The good old lady was in ecstacies at the glowing colours in which her son's virtues were painted by Eccles—such uniform moderation and prudence, amidst the seductive scenes of the Continent—such shining candour-such noble liberality!
- In the fulness of her heart, Mrs Beauchamp promised the tutor, who was educated for the Church, the next presentation to a living which was expected very shortly to fall vacant-as
"small return for the invaluable services he had rendered her son!”
It was a memorable day when young Beauchamp arrived at the Hall in -shire, stood suddenly before his transported mother, in all the pride of person, and of apparent accomplishments. He was indeed a fine young fellow to look at. His well-cast features beamed with an expression of frankness and generosity; and his manners were exquisitely tempered with
cordiality and elegance. He had brushed the bloom off continental flowers in passing, and caught their glow and perfume.
It was several minutes before he could disengage himself from the embraces of his mother, who laughed and wept by turns, and uttered the most passionate exclamations of joy and affection. “Oh, that your poor old father could see you!" she sobbed, and almost cried herself into hysterics. Young Beauchamp was deeply moved with this display of parental tender
He saw and felt that his mother's whole soul was bound up with his own; and with the rapid resolutions of youth, he had, in five minutes, changed the whole course and scope of his life-renounced the pleasures of London, and resolved to come and settle on his estates in the country, live under the proud and fond eye of his mother, and, in a word, tread in the steps of his father. He felt suddenly imbued with the spirit of the good old English country gentleman, and resolved to live the life of one. There was, however, a cause in operation, and powerful operation, to bring about this change of feeling, to which I have not yet adverted. His cousin, Ellen Beauchamp, happened to be thought of by her aunt as a fit person to be staying with her when her son arrived. Yes—the little blueeyed girl with whom he had romped fifteen years ago, now sat beside him in the bloom of budding womanhood-her peachy cheeks alternately pale and flushed, as she saw her cousin's enquiring eye settled upon her, and scanning her beautiful proportions. Mr Beauchamp took the very first opportunity he could seize of asking his mother, with some trepidation, “ whether Ellen was engaged.”
“ I think she is not,” replied his delighted mother, bursting into tears, and folding him in her arms—“but I wish somebody would take the earliest opportunity of doing so.”
Ah, ha!—Then she's Mrs Beauchamp, junior!” replied her son with enthusiasm.
Matters were quickly, quietly, and effectually arranged to bring about that desirable end—as they always are, when all parties understand one another; and young Beauchamp made up his mind to appear in a new character--that of a quiet country gentleman, the friend and patron of an attached tenantry, and a