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The Tale Of Chloe: An Episode In The History Of Beau Beamish
by [?]

‘Earthquake and saltpetre threaten us less terribly,’ said Mr. Beamish.

‘In fine, she has extracted a promise that ‘this summer she shall visit the Wells for a month, and I fear I cannot break my pledge of my word; I fear I cannot.’

‘Very certainly I would not,’ said Mr. Beamish.

The duke heaved a sigh. ‘There are reasons, family reasons, why my company and protection must be denied to her here. I have no wish . . . indeed my name, for the present, until such time as she shall have found her feet . . . and there is ever a penalty to pay for that. Ah, Mr. Beamish, pictures are ours, when we have bought them and hung them up; but who insures us possession of a beautiful work of Nature? I have latterly betaken me to reflect much and seriously. I am tempted to side with the Divines in the sermons I have read; the flesh is the habitation of a rebellious devil.’

‘To whom we object in proportion as we ourselves become quit of him,’ Mr. Beamish acquiesced.

‘But this mania of young people for pleasure, eternal pleasure, is one of the wonders. It does not pall on them; they are insatiate.’

‘There is the cataract, and there is the cliff. Potentate to potentate, duke–so long as you are on my territory, be it understood. Upon my way to a place of worship once, I passed a Puritan, who was complaining of a butterfly that fluttered prettily abroad in desecration of the Day of Rest. “Friend,” said I to him, “conclusively you prove to me that you are not a butterfly.” Surly did no more than favour me with the anathema of his countenance.’

‘Cousin Beamish, my complaint of these young people is, that they miss their pleasure in pursuing it. I have lectured my duchess–‘


‘Foolish, I own,’ said the duke. ‘But suppose, now, you had caught your butterfly, and you could neither let it go nor consent to follow its vagaries. That poses you.’

‘Young people,’ said Mr. Beamish, ‘come under my observation in this poor realm of mine–young and old. I find them prodigiously alike in their love of pleasure, differing mainly in their capacity to satisfy it. That is no uncommon observation. The young, have an edge which they are desirous of blunting; the old contrariwise. The cry of the young for pleasure is actually–I have studied their language–a cry for burdens. Curious! And the old ones cry for having too many on their shoulders: which is not astonishing. Between them they make an agreeable concert both to charm the ears and guide the steps of the philosopher, whose wisdom it is to avoid their tracks.’

‘Good. But I have asked you for practical advice, and you give me an essay.’

‘For the reason, duke, that you propose a case that suggests hanging. You mention two things impossible to be done. The alternative is, a garter and the bedpost. When we have come upon crossways, and we can decide neither to take the right hand nor the left, neither forward nor back, the index of the board which would direct us points to itself, and emphatically says, Gallows.’

‘Beamish, I am distracted. If I refuse her the visit, I foresee dissensions, tears, games at ball, romps, not one day of rest remaining to me. I could be of a mind with your Puritan, positively. If I allow it, so innocent a creature in the atmosphere of a place like this must suffer some corruption. You should know that the station I took her from was . . . it was modest. She was absolutely a buttercup of the fields. She has had various masters. She dances . . . she dances prettily, I could say bewitchingly. And so she is now for airing her accomplishments: such are women!’