Sybil/Book 6/Chapter 13

Sybil by Benjamin Disraeli
Book 6/Chapter 13

It was the Spring of last year, and Lady Bardolf was making a morning visit to Lady St Julians.

"I heard they were to be at Lady Palmerston's last night," said Lady St Julians.

"No," said Lady Bardolf shaking his head, "they make their first appearance at Deloraine House. We meet there on Thursday I know."

"Well, I must say," said Lady St Julians, "that I am curious to see her."

"Lord Valentine met them last year at Naples."

"And what does he say of her."

"Oh! he raves!"

"What a romantic history! And what a fortunate man is Lord Marney. If one could only have foreseen events!" exclaimed Lady St Julians. "He was always a favourite of mine though. But still I thought his brother was the very last person who ever would die. He was so very hard!"

"I fear Lord Marney is entirely lost to us," said Lady Bardolf looking very solemn.

"Ah! he always had a twist," said Lady St Julians, "and used to breakfast with that horrid Mr Trenchard, and do those sort of things. But still with his immense fortune, I should think he would become rational."

"You may well say immense," said Lady Bardolf. "Mr Ormsby, and there is no better judge of another man's income, says there are not three peers in the kingdom who have so much a year clear."

"They say the Mowbray estate is forty thousand a year," said Lady St Julians. "Poor Lady de Mowbray! I understand that Mr Mountchesney has resolved not to appeal against the verdict."

"You know he has not a shadow of a chance," said Lady Bardolf. "Ah! what changes we have seen in that family! They say the writ of right killed poor Lord de Mowbray, but to my mind he never recovered the burning of the Castle. We went over to them directly, and I never saw a man so cut up. We wanted them to come to us at Firebrace, but he said he should leave the county immediately. I remember Lord Bardolf mentioning to me, that he looked like a dying man."

"Well I must say," said Lady St Julians rallying as it were from a fit of abstraction, "that I am most curious to see Lady Marney."

The reader will infer from this conversation that Dandy Mick, in spite of his stunning fall, and all dangers which awaited him on his recovery, had contrived in spite of fire and flame, sabre and carbine, trampling troopers and plundering mobs, to reach the Convent of Mowbray with the box of papers. There he enquired for Sybil, in whose hands, and whose hands alone he was enjoined to deposit them. She was still absent, but faithful to his instructions, Mick would deliver his charge to none other, and exhausted by the fatigues of the terrible day, he remained in the court-yard of the Convent, lying down with the box for his pillow until Sybil under the protection of Egremont herself returned. Then he fulfilled his mission. Sybil was too agitated at the moment to perceive all its import, but she delivered the box into the custody of Egremont, who desiring Mick to follow him to his hotel bade farewell to Sybil, who equally with himself, was then ignorant of the fatal encounter on Mowbray Moor.

We must drop a veil over the anguish which its inevitable and speedy revelation brought to the daughter of Gerard. Her love for her father was one of those profound emotions which seemed to form a constituent part of her existence. She remained for a long period in helpless woe, soothed only by the sacred cares of Ursula. There was another mourner in this season of sorrow who must not be forgotten; and that was Lady Marney. All that tenderness and the most considerate thought could devise to soften sorrow and reconcile her to a change of life which at the first has in it something depressing were extended by Egremont to Arabella. He supplied in an instant every arrangement which had been neglected by his brother, but which could secure her convenience and tend to her happiness. Between Marney Abbey where he insisted for the present that Arabella should reside and Mowbray, Egremont passed his life for many months, until by some management which we need not trace or analyse, Lady Marney came over one day to the Convent at Mowbray and carried back Sybil to Marney Abbey, never again to quit it until on her bridal day, when the Earl and Countess of Marney departed for Italy where they passed nearly a year, and from which they had just returned at the commencement of this chapter.

During the previous period however many important events had occurred. Lord Marney had placed himself in communication with Mr Hatton, who had soon become acquainted with all that had occurred in the muniment room of Mowbray Castle. The result was not what he had once anticipated; but for him it was not without some compensatory circumstances. True another, and an unexpected rival, had stepped on the stage with whom it was vain to cope, but the idea that he had deprived Sybil of her inheritance, had ever, since he had became acquainted with her, been the plague-spot of Hatton's life, and there was nothing that he desired more ardently than to see her restored to her rights, and to be instrumental in that restoration. How successful he was in pursuing her claim, the reader has already learnt.

Dandy Mick was rewarded for all the dangers he had encountered in the service of Sybil, and what he conceived was the vindication of popular rights. Lord Marney established him in business, and Mick took Devilsdust for a partner. Devilsdust having thus obtained a position in society and become a capitalist, thought it but a due homage to the social decencies to assume a decorous appellation, and he called himself by the name of the town where he was born. The firm of Radley, Mowbray, and Co., is a rising one; and will probably furnish in time a crop of members of Parliament and Peers of the realm. Devilsdust married Caroline, and Mrs Mowbray became a great favorite. She was always perhaps a little too fond of junketting but she had a sweet temper and a gay spirit, and sustained her husband in the agonies of a great speculation, or the despair of glutted markets. Julia became Mrs Radley, and was much esteemed: no one could behave better. She was more orderly than Caroline, and exactly suited Mick, who wanted a person near him of decision and method. As for Harriet, she is not yet married. Though pretty and clever, she is selfish and a screw. She has saved a good deal and has a considerable sum in the Savings' Bank, but like many heiresses she cannot bring her mind to share her money with another. The great measures of Sir Robert Peel, which produced three good harvests, have entirely revived trade at Mowbray. The Temple is again open. newly-painted, and re-burnished, and Chaffing Jack has of course "rallied" while good Mrs Carey still gossips with her neighbours round her well-stored stall, and tells wonderful stories of the great stick-out and riots of '42.

And thus I conclude the last page of a work, which though its form be light and unpretending, would yet aspire to suggest to its readers some considerations of a very opposite character. A year ago. I presumed to offer to the public some volumes that aimed to call their attention to the state of our political parties; their origin, their history, their present position. In an age of political infidelity, of mean passions and petty thoughts, I would have impressed upon the rising race not to despair, but to seek in a right understanding of the history of their country and in the energies of heroic youth—the elements of national welfare. The present work advances another step in the same emprise. From the state of Parties it now would draw public thought to the state of the People whom those parties for two centuries have governed. The comprehension and the cure of this greater theme depend upon the same agencies as the first: it is the past alone that can explain the present, and it is youth that alone can mould the remedial future. The written history of our country for the last ten reigns has been a mere phantasma; giving to the origin and consequence of public transactions a character and colour in every respect dissimilar with their natural form and hue. In this mighty mystery all thoughts and things have assumed an aspect and title contrary to their real quality and style: Oligarchy has been called Liberty; an exclusive Priesthood has been christened a National Church; Sovereignty has been the title of something that has had no dominion, while absolute power has been wielded by those who profess themselves the servants of the People. In the selfish strife of factions two great existences have been blotted out of the history of England—the Monarch and the Multitude; as the power of the Crown has diminished, the privileges of the People have disappeared; till at length the sceptre has become a pageant, and its subject has degenerated again into a serf.

It is nearly fourteen years ago, in the popular frenzy of a mean and selfish revolution which neither emancipated the Crown nor the People, that I first took the occasion to intimate and then to develope to the first assembly of my countrymen that I ever had the honour to address, these convictions. They have been misunderstood as is ever for a season the fate of Truth, and they have obtained for their promulgator much misrepresentation as must ever be the lot of those who will not follow the beaten track of a fallacious custom. But Time that brings all things has brought also to the mind of England some suspicion that the idols they have so long worshipped and the oracles that have so long deluded them are not the true ones. There is a whisper rising in this country that Loyalty is not a phrase. Faith not a delusion, and Popular Liberty something more diffusive and substantial than the profane exercise of the sacred rights of sovereignty by political classes.

That we may live to see England once more possess a free Monarchy and a privileged and prosperous People, is my prayer; that these great consequences can only be brought about by the enemy and devotion of our Youth is my persuasion. We live in an age when to be young and to be indifferent can be no longer synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the Future are represented by suffering millions; and the Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity.