The History of Pendennis: His Fortunes and Misfortunes, His Friends and His Greatest Enemy

By William Makepeace Thackeray | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XLVIII.
A VISIT OF POLITENESS.

COSTIGAN never roused Pen from his slumbers: there was no hostile message from Mr. Huxter to disturb him; and when Pen woke, it was with a brisker and more lively feeling than ordinarily attends that moment in the day of the tired and blasé London man. A City man wakes up to care and Consols, and the thoughts of 'Change and the counting-house take possession of him as soon as sleep flies from under his nightcap; a lawyer rouses himself with the early morning to think of the case that will take him all his day to work upon, and the inevitable attorney to whom he has promised his papers ere night. Which of us has not his anxiety instantly present when his eyes are opened, to it and to the world, after his night's sleep? Kind strengthener that enables us to face the day's task with renewed heart! Beautiful ordinance of Providence that creates rest as it awards labour!

Mr. Pendennis's labour, or rather his disposition, was of that sort that his daily occupations did not much interest him, for the excitement of literary composition pretty soon subsides with the hired labourer, and the delight of seeing one's self in print only extends to the first two or three appearances in the magazine or newspaper page. Pegasus put into harness, and obliged to run a stage every day, is as prosaic as any other hack, and won't work without his whip or his feed of corn. So, indeed, Mr. Arthur performed his work at the Pall Mall Gazette (and since his success as a novelist with an increased salary), but without the least enthusiasm, doing his best or pretty nearly, and sometimes writing ill and sometimes well. He was a literary hack, naturally fast in pace and brilliant in action.

Neither did society, or that portion which he saw, excite or amuse him overmuch. In spite of his brag and boast to the contrary, he was too young as yet for women's society, which probably can only be had in perfection when a man has ceased to think about his own person, and has given up all designs of being a conqueror of ladies; he was too young to be admitted as an equal amongst men who had made their mark in the world, and of whose conversation he could scarcely as yet expect to be more than a listener. And he was too old for the men of pleasure of his own age; too much a man of pleasure for the men of business; destined, in a word, to be a good deal alone. Fate awards this lot of solitude to many a man; and many like it from taste, as many without difficulty bear it. Pendennis, in reality, suffered it very equanimously; but in words, and according to his wont, grumbled over it not a little.

"What a nice little artless creature that was," Mr. Pen thought at the very instant of waking after the Vauxhall affair; "what a pretty natural manner she has; how much pleasanter than the minauderies of the young ladies in the ball-rooms!" (and here he recalled to himself some instances of what he could not help seeing was the artful simplicity of Miss Blanche, and some of the stupid graces of other young ladies in the polite world); "who could have thought that such a pretty rose could grow in a porter's lodge, or bloom in that dismal old flower-pot of a Shepherd's Inn? So she learns to sing from old Bows? If her singing voice is as sweet as her speaking voice, it must be pretty. I like those low voilées voices. 'What would you like me to call you?' indeed. Poor little Fanny! It went to my heart to adopt the grand air with her, and tell her to call me 'sir.' But we'll have no nonsense of that sort -- no Faust and Margaret business for me. That old Bows! So he teaches her to sing, does he? He's a dear old fellow, old Bows: a gentleman in those old clothes: a philosopher, and with a kind heart, too. How good he was to me in the Fotheringay business. He, too, has had his griefs and his sorrows. I must cultivate old Bows. A man ought to

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