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friendship,” said Lord Cunnington, frankly extending his hand.
Lord Sevridge did not answer for some moments, but after a pause he said, “Life, fame, honours, what are they? The die of ambition once cast, what fearful strife man goes through! how many domestic virtues are bartered, how many sweet hours changed, how many sweet imaginations of quieter life quelled, crushed! Fame is the dream which hovers round the collegian's pillow ; fame is the by-word which resounds in the politician's ears ; fame is the emptiest sound, which faint and fainter grows as we are more wise; and fame! oh, fame! we cry, as friends are crushed in the mighty swell of foes, and the list is daily filled with the name of newer aspirants, all asking what is fame? yet running eagerly the race."
“ But, at all events, you have attained the goal, my good friend,” said Lord Cun
nington, soothingly; "events are forgotten when the event is attained; your parliamentary influence was acknowledged almost as soon as your maiden speech was cheered, and the expectations which your party formed have never for a moment been weakened—is not that fame?”
“ Yes,” said Lord Sevridge, “ the wind of ambition has fanned my brow. I have drained to the last drop the dregs of flattery and public applause, and so blinded have I been by the flimsy dust of public opinion, that private happiness and domestic virtues have been sacrificed. Had I a son, I would rather pay his gambling debts five times over than pay for one election, which might hereafter place the crown of fame upon his brow.”
“And I,” said Lord Cunnington, “would faint have seen my son cradled in a bower of ambition, nurtured by every stirring quality, provided the word Fame were ever before him. I would that my son and heir had been distinguished by all the energy of political enthusiasm. I would rather he had sixty enemies in parliament than six hun. dred friends in Bond Street.”
“ Your son has hitherto most unamiably disappointed your wishes, my lord; well, never mind, his old age will be happier.”
" How strange, how very enigmatical you are, Sevridge! I really do not understand
*** Hear my history and you will ;—a life of unparalleled weakness and mental strife.”
“Well, well, since you choose to make me your father confessor, I am only afraid I shall be too lenient; I shall neither exact enough penance, nor speak eloquently nor severely too; but begin, I pray you."
Lord Sevridge took a chair by the bed, and looked more serious than his friend could
have imagined the subject warranted; but Lord Cunnington was not prepared for the strange history he was to hear.
“Of my boyish, or rather infantine years,” said Lord Sevridge, “ it is unnecessary to enlarge. Reared in princely affluence, ambition was the nurse who wrapped me in so close an embrace that my brow was for ever stamped with the well-imprinted caress. My will was a law, and the more imperiously I spoke, the more sure I was of gaining my point. At length I went to Eton, and the boys immediately acknowledged my supremacy, for Etonians can tell at a glance a person likely to be leader. As a conqueror distributes largess, so I dispensed my imperious smiles. There is no generosity in such a largess, the populace expect it as a perquisite, and would stone the conqueror if he omitted it. My companions were not wrong; not only was I high
amongst the leaders of amusements, but I soared above every one in studies, and without any serious application earned the brightest laurels. Dukes and lords, aye, and the king, too, bestowed their applause upon me, and they tended my first feasts of ambition. Oh, how dangerous is that first accomplishment of midnight dreams and daily speculations ! how intoxicating the first cup we drink to Fame! Boyish fame stamps an indelible mark upon the mind; and the man of vexation, of disappointment, or care, can never in after life forget that boyish trance. It comes but once in a life, that fresh feeling of enthusiasm ; applause then heard is the first huzza of ambition's victory, without ambition's strife. Fancy lends such a delightful gleam to the first dream which follows the day of boyish triumph ; and still I fancy I see before me the phantoms of young delight which graced my slumbers,