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THE STORY OF A GOOD FELLOW CONTINUED.
Now, should any person or persons take upon themselves to think that in the foregoing episode was related that tale of scandal, at which I hinted some few chapters since, when I questioned whether I should tell all or not, they will be most agreeably mistaken.
I should, indeed, be a professor of mock modesty if I fie-fied mincingly over the follies of a freshman.
I did but intend to show you how it came about that Master Maurice was not put into a straight, honest, self-undeceiving course by some one having authority so to do.
By "authority," I would have the reader understand Auctoritas, I mean that weight of character, that diurnally practised unobtrusive virtue which, despising the aid of cant phrases and sentiments of conventional morality, appeals to good common sense, and induces men, through their lower imitative instinct, to copy, at first unconsciously, the actions of the virtuous.
Commencing as mere wall-shadows of the living, thinking, moving good. (Extract this from "Dictionary of Possibilities.")
Now, to obtain a shadow of any sort is required a superficies, a body, and light. ("Possibilities Dictionary," vol. i.)
There was the surface at St. Henry's, and the few such bodies already mentioned as moving within the walls, were but Peter Schemils of morality, for the strong light was under a bushel.
If, says an old historian of the Continental Protestant Reformation, such were the pastors, what were the people?
If such were the deans and dons of St. Henry's at this time, what could you expect from the scholars?
Taking a friendly hint from one of the junior fellows, our young friend discovered that he could enjoy himself uninterruptedly without sounding the trumpets, kettle-drums, and the cannon whenever the king was going to drink a bumper.
So the lad speculated upon his fellowship, was free-handed with tradesmen, had the best-furnished rooms in college, and seldom transgressed the rules; but when he did, the infringement was followed up by a becoming apology which disarmed justice. He studied regularly, as he did several other things hardly so worthy of praise, because
he liked it. He possessed the secret of entering the college at any forbidden hour after midnight, and was never wanting in his turn at the lectern to read the morning lessons in the grand old chapel.
The discovery of the young man's utter selfishness was first made by his father.
This son, for whose provision in life he had managed so well, rarely visited his home; and when he did honour his father and sister with his presence, his conduct was not such as to make either of them, at the time of his departure, very anxious for his return.
What member of St. Henry's could have supposed that this generous-hearted, rollicking, easy-going young fellow could have been so sulky, peevish, and cross as they of the Wickhampton Rectory found him to be.
Both his father and sister were afraid of him.
It occurred to old Rector Passmore, after one of these angelic visits-angelic only as regards time-that, after all, he might have done something better for his boy than securing him a place in St. Henry's for life.
[Observe the Second Thoughts of the Rev. Passmore père.]
While Maurice was away upon a tour, his father died, having expressed on his death-bed no wish to see him.
He left whatever personal and real estate of which he was possessed to his daughter, who was engaged to a country solicitor.
The old gentleman had introduced a few lines into his will to the effect that he gave his son his blessing, but did not think it necessary to make any pecuniary bequest to one who, he had observed, was so well able to care for himself.
Passmore was disappointed by this disposition, as he had been looking forward to a certain sum in available cash with which to satisfy a few of his pressing creditors.
He now more than ever relied upon his future fellowship, which would, with a little care, release him from the results of his past extravagance.
It was about this time that, during a long vacation, Maurice Passmore fell in with Miss Annie Dendril.
No story, I suppose, can get on without "the female interest." "Women," said Caliph Omar, "are a great evil, but that they are necessary is a worse.'
This, mesdames and mademoiselles, my readers, will take notice, was the opinion of a Mussulman, who, as may be fairly inferred, had had
too much of a good thing; and therefore his words must be salted, and then, indeed, preserved for the use of Christians.
Farmer Dendril and his wife were hereditary Catholics, who, without clergy or chapel, had become gradually Protestantized by the atmosphere in which they lived, and, aspiring to a position in their own part of the country, had placed their daughters at a first-class school, where they acquired a love of dress, and a liking for a society superior to that in which it was their fortune to have been placed.
Neighbour Dendril, finding that, after all, he should be unable to provide for his girls in a manner suitable to their education, suddenly recalled them home; and then, in an attempt to retrieve what both parents now considered an error, they fell into a greater one, and sent the two lassies to fill the place of bar-maids at a large inn near Stanton Roads in Yorkshire. [Dear reader, who that we have met talks about Yorkshire? No mysteries, eh?) Here the elder, with more sense and less beauty than her sister, gave her hand to a prosperous yeoman, and left her sister to fascinate the young farmers, cattledealers, commercial travellers, and such other customers as might, in the course of business, take up their temporary quarters at the "Nag's Head."
To this vain and showy girl even the undisguised admiration of the honest loutish youth was gratifying; and so, when Maurice Passmore, a gentleman by birth, good-looking, and clever, condescended to captivate her, 'tis no wonder that she, being thoroughly pleased with herself, should have been speedily fascinated by him.
And Maurice, delighted with himself on account of the impression he had made, hesitated, for one moment only, to yield himself up a willing slave to the impulse of his passion.
For one moment only, and then out of consideration for himself.
but fellowships at St. Henry's were solely for the unmarried.
"It would never do," he said to her in the course of an evening walk, "for us to marry, and have nothing to live upon; but in time I shall be able to step into a college living, and then I can marry."
"And when will that be ?" she asked.
This was the way in which these two, self-blinded, played out the game of catching one another.
It may be taken for granted that they were at the present earnest as to their future plans.
THOSE who are fond of comparing the manners and customs of the English and Americans, may find a fruitful and legitimate field for their speculations in the theatres and drama of the two countries. Their individual tastes may differ, and their nationality may warp their judgment and opinions, but they will see differences and improvements, both in the arrangement of the houses and in the audiences who frequent them, that will in many instances place the elder country in the less favourable light. Unlike the system that exists in London of scattering the theatres, the plan adopted in New York has been to bring them as nearly as possible together, so that the overflow of one house finds another theatre ready at hand. Hence the New York houses are nearly all situated in the Broadway, and have therefore a continual stream of life passing backward and forward before their doors; such a river of human particles as would strike envy into the hearts of those "spirited lessees" who, from time to time, have embarked their fortunes in the secluded byways of King Street, St. James', or Soho. With some few exceptions the American theatres are not distinguishable from the surrounding houses, until a close
proximity reveals the name, lights, and other outside paraphernalia of a place of amusement: for on either side the spacious entrance are usually to be found shops or cafés, and above the windows of an hotel or retail store. In this respect, though in very puny proportions,
the Strand Theatre bears more resemblance to a New York house than any other at present open in London; and the dingy smoke discoloured stucco building, so familiar to English playgoers, has no counterpart within the limits of Manhattan Island. An American theatre is constructed with a view to obtaining as much fresh air and ventilation as is consistent with an absence of draughts, and a due provision for warmth in the winter scason. The ventilator is usually a large circular grating, placed in the centre of the roof, as may be scen at Astley's, a theatre rebuilt by Mr. Dion Boucicault on principles somewhat the same as those of American houses, of which he had an intimate knowledge. The internal decoration of a theatre depends of course on the taste and fancy of the proprietor, but the arrangement of the auditorium, and the relative distinction of places, is based on the same principle in all.
Putting aside opera-houses for the moment, and speaking only of those establishments devoted to dramatic representations, there is no theatre in New York, in size and magnificence of construction, on a par with Drury Lane; but old Drury apart, London has no theatre that can equal "Wallack's" in comfort, size, and beauty combined. This theatre ranks first among its brethren in New York, and is considered to be the Transatlantic home of "genteel comedy." It is somewhat of the shape and size of the Adelphi in London, and in the matter of a steady popularity attaching to the house, runs side by side with that establishment; but there all resemblance ends. The narrow entrance, the disagreeable squeezing which has to be undergone in getting out of the Adelphi is a painful contrast to the roomy vestibule and folding gates at "Wallack's," and other theatres across the Western Ocean, while the stage appointments, which have made the words, "Adelphi Guests" and "Adelphi scenery" synonymous in the theatrical world for shabbiness and absurdity, are contrasted at Wallack's with a completeness of scenery, dresses, and properties, that is almost unknown in those English theatres from which the pieces played in America are generally borrowed. This last-named house is situated in that part of the Broadway immediately before its intersection at Union Square, and like other New York theatres, is surrounded, above and below by shops and similar places of business. There are two entrances to the