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her Elector George (not at St. James's, but at Herrenhausen), a punishment that seemed grievous enough for any offences she has ever been proved to have committed. It was only at the death of Henry IX, "Cardinal York," that Fernando permitted the House of Brunswick to ascend the throne of three realms, which naturally made George I of George the Third.
Prince Charles Edward was never forced by his timid Council of War to retreat from Derby, but went on to London, and after his father's coronation, went to Ireland as Viceroy till his own accession. There was no Culloden, and Cumberland never earned his title of Butcher.
History thus edited is much pleasanter than the real thing.
It may be a little different with romance, for Fernando made Paul Dombey recover and marry Cordelia Blimber, spectacles and all; and Mr. Toots did also marry Florence, though he expired, quite painlessly, a few weeks before Walter's return from being drowned-" drown-ded," as Captain Cuttle put it. I'm afraid he took the appalling liberty of making Ralph Nickleby repent and lead Miss La Creevy to the altar--which she
undoubtedly would have repented. And David Copperfield's mother never married Mr. Murdstone (which naturally saved David much misery), but found a more congenial partner in Mr. Dick-Miss Trotwood, espousing Agnes' father, was not in the least jealous. One of these singular impertinences, committed by Fernando on masterpieces of fiction, has much to be said for it. He caused Fanny Price, in Mansfield Park, to reconsider her refusal of Henry Crawford, who was not too good for her, as he would have made her ; so that Edmund married Mary, and two prigs were ameliorated and became nearly as fine characters as they thought themselves.
Did the reader may ask himself—a small boy of six read Dickens, Cervantes, Scott, and Jane Austen? No; but the Gracechurch period lasted from the time Fernando was six to the time he was nineteen, and at nineteen he had written a novel of his own, and two years afterwards it was published. That it had nothing whatever in common with any work of any master of fiction will be believed very readily; its only merit was brevity.
Some of Fernando's more social pleasures were connected with unlikely places; for
instance, the first large party he ever went to was at the workhouse. Gracechurch was altogether so pretty that it could not even have a really ugly workhouse. It was not in the town, but some little way out in the country, standing back from the road and approached from it by a broad straight drive-rather imposing; with trees on each side of it, and beyond the trees the big garden in which the more able-bodied paupers worked. From the entrance gate the road went somewhat steeply up, and, on the flat top of the hill, the big house stood looking out over the lovely mere. In front was a wide sweep of gravel with broad borders all round it filled with old-fashioned flowers. The workhouse itself was only plain, too simple and unpretentious to be ugly, and its red brick was old enough to have taken a mellow tint-besides it was half covered with vines and jasmine and trained rose-trees.
It was the first very big house Fernando had ever been in-as it was the first and last for many poor people whom he saw there. Inside it was spotlessly clean everywhere, but it had an odd smell, compounded of softsoap, corduroys and whitewash.
The party was a Christmas Tree given to
the inmates by Colonel and Mrs. Grace, than whom in all his life Fernando has never met anyone kinder. In those days, fifty years ago, it was not a mere fashion to think of the hidden poor, but Colonel Grace and his beautiful wife did think of everybody, and made the rays of their own prosperity warm and brighten dull and shadowed lives that by most would have been forgotten.
There was a sumptuous tea, and the number of them who sat down to it was too great for all to be accommodated in one place, huge as the wards were. There were very old men and women, and women hardly old, and, alas, many children who had no father to claim them on earth. After tea there were prizes for the men (and for some of the old women, too), and during that interval we were shown the house.
In Ireland workhouses are often managed by nuns, and that gives them a homeliness and friendliness that nothing else could. But in England such management is, of course, unknown. At Gracechurch, however, the master and matron of the workhouse were very worthy and capable people, by no means hard or harsh, no stricter than discipline required, and clearly thinking no
worse of the folk under their charge because they were poor and dependent on legal charity. Mr. and Mrs. Williams were, I should think, of a class somewhat above that of those in their position, as things were half a century ago; and perhaps Mrs. Williams was a degree or so more refined than her husband she was many degrees better looking, and she had a daughter-Miss Prince -by a former husband. Miss Prince was quite aristocratic, almost aggressively so. She was very pale, and was always dressed in mourning, not weedy, dingy black, but soft, rather rich-looking, gracefully flowing draperies; and she knew how to wear her clothes. Her eyes were nearly as black as her dress, large, brilliant and liquid-but not exactly soft. She talked the best English and liked to talk a good deal of it. Her stepfather treated her as a distinguished visitor, and even her mother always listened when she wanted to absorb the conversation. Miss Prince was an invalid, though I never heard of any particular disease from which she suffered, and her delicacy made her more aristocratic. I was going to say, just now, that she carried herself well, but she never carried herself at all; she and her Bath chair