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The morning came, with all its bright array,
The peasant passed with vacant stare,
Who, laughing shrill, with streaming hair,
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE
LORD GRAHAME FALCONER, besides being a leader of ton, had for a short time held the responsible office of Whip of the Conservative party, and, although long retired from office, its habits still clung to him, and there was nothing he liked better than to secure a political recruit to what he believed to be the great National party. His party appreciated his zeal and tact, paid considerable deference to his recommendations, and occasionally asked his assistance when it was an object to bring to the vote the Saducees of the Clubs. Lord Grahame knew that at present the Minister was anxious to secure the active support of Sir Philip Warden, and, therefore, on that memorable occasion at the "Hyperion," he had been delighted to witness what he fain hoped was his return to public life. Better than any one else his lordship knew the reasons of his friend's seclusion, and he was not surprised it had continued so long. But now, if appearances were to be trusted, Sir Philip had recovered from his affliction, and regained, in some degree, that keen interest in public affairs for which he had been remarkable. Nor, to judge from his conversation that evening, had there been any falling off in his intellectual powers. He was the same keen, sarcastic observer he used to be; and if he did not show any ambition for rank or power any more than before, here was his ward, in whom he seemed to take so deep an interest. Might not this be an inducement to Sir Philip to return to public life, in which he could so powerfully promote that career? and might not this object have the effect of effacing, or at least of concealing, that cold egotism which had been the great obstacle to his attaining that lead in the great popular assembly which his talents seemed to ensure. Lord Grahame's speculations went a little farther. He was one of those who had an unconscious grudge against the talented Leader of the party; for Lord March-VOL. VII., NO. XXXIX.
Grahame was rot a man to appreciate the really noble, though very subtle nature, of that remarkable man. He felt, and at the same time resented, his ascendancy; for it was an ascendancy purely of intellect, in despite of those advantages of connection and hereditary prestige which generally accompany the leaders of men in England. He compared notes with other polished political fogies, and came to the conclusion that if it could be done without injuring the party-that was always a saving clause-a new and natural leader would be an advantage, -a man with antecedents, a man of old English stock, whose family was historically connected with the Constitution, and in whom the party might rely; but it was essential, at least to Lord Grahame's clique, that this ideal leader should not be a mere patrician, dependent for his influence on his rank in the Peerage. He had a proud contempt for one half that body of which he was an off-shoot, knowing the majority to be the grandsons or great-grandsons of unscrupulous politicians of either sex. Sir Philip Warden was just the man for them. His family was older than that of three-fourths of the House of Lords, and, indeed, it had not been merged in that body solely because, for several generations, the Wardens had refused to exchange the weighty position of the oldest baronetcy in England for a modern peerage. Moreover, Sir Philip's intellectual qualities-cold, unimpassioned, logical-were just those which imposed on men like Lord Grahame, who, having little imagination themselves, fail to appreciate the immense blank the want of imagination makes in any one who would try to carry with him the support of any large body of his fellowmen. There are only a few who can consider a measure solely on its merits; and there are yet fewer who, looking to a measure in this abstract view only, can get up that amount of enthusiasm in its favour which leads to persistent advocacy. Certainly, Lord Grahame, though the most amiable man alive, was not of this number, but rather of those who instinctively cling to the slow but sure politicians, who generally effect a reform when it is too late. To Lord Grahame, then, Sir Philip seemed the fit Leader of the party. His lordship accordingly had sounded Sir Philip on the occasion of the dinner, and was glad to find that the latter met his suggestions at least half way. He admitted at once his interest in Darcy, and that his return to public life would enable him powerfully to promote his career; but he was not deaf to the suggestions of private ambition. To Sir Philip wealth and pleasure—which wealth, spite all the preaching of all philosophers since the time of Solomon, is supposed to purchase were absolutely indifferent. So far, he had fully realised the convictions of the Great King-it was all vanity and vexation of spirit; but ambition is the latest weakness of a sated as well as of a noble mind,
and power had still an attraction for Sir Philip. He was a patriot after a sort. Conscious of the possession of great abilities, he was anxious to use them in the service of the public, provided always the public would allow him to exercise his abilities as he thought best. He would be a beneficent legislator, provided he had his own way. And thus, when Lord Grahame hinted at the want of the Constitutional party of a leader in harmony with their antecedents and associations, Sir Philip had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that this, the grandest position of the empire, was one to which he might, without being chargeable with egregious vanity, fairly aspire. In fact, though Lord Grahame was cautious enough, and did not in any way commit himself, Sir Philip gave him to understand that if such a career were once open to him his seclusion from the world was at an end. Action on a grand scale, the excitement of debate, the lofty sense of responsibility, would, Sir Philip thought, be a better anodyne to his sorrow, than the gloomy and somewhat sulky seclusion in which he had recently lived.
It being thus well understood that Sir Philip's objections to return to public life were got over, Lord Grahame was very much surprised, on calling the next morning, to find that Sir Philip had gone to the Continent, and had left no address. It was true that, as he learned from his landlord, Sir Philip had arranged the day before to leave town; but Lord Grahame had expected that the interest he would take in ministerial changes, which were then imminent, would have chained him to the spot.
Lord Grahame did not doubt he would soon hear from his friend, and meantime he sounded the party on their change of allegiance. He was glad to find his suggestions eagerly taken up by not a few of those whom the Premier considered his surest supporters. He, therefore, fretted impatiently for a word from Sir Philip. He sent down to the country, but Sir Philip was not there, and had not given any hint when he might be expected back, nor had he left any address.
At last his lordship did hear of Sir Philip. He had been seen by Sir Hugh Grey at Amalfi ; and although Sir Philip did not, or would not, recognise Sir Hugh, this was what Sir Hugh, owing to his very amiable qualities, was accustomed to from time to time on the part of his most intimate friends. He contented himself by allowing Sir Philip to see that, on his part, there was no mistake in the recognition; and surmising that Sir Philip was anxious to remain incognito, he therefore communicated the intelligence by telegraph to Lord Grahame.
The session would soon 1 egin, and his lordship's credit was committed to the appearance of Sir Philip in the political arena