« السابقةمتابعة »
men now present had come upon county business, she was the quicker in her motions, and, to the sensible regret of Fanny Claypole, broke up the female part of the assembly, and left the stage entire to the lords of the creation.
. CHAPTER IV.
CHAT Isabella had surmised was true:
one of the county inembers lay at E the point of death, and Sir Roger's visitors, 1 who were the leading men of the opposite
parties, had united in referring themselves to the worthy Baronet as a middle man, and acceptable to both, for the sake of preserving peace in the county, and preventing a contest, which, from the state and temper of parties, seemed to be inevitable, unlefs he could be prea vailed upon to step in upon the vacancy. This had been so often tried before, and his aversion from the undertaking was so well known, that though they came upon him in great strength, and as it were by surprise, yet they rather
laid their account for a hard-fought battle than an easy victory. .
One of their junto, an elderly gentleman, and much respected, was Sir Roger's particular friend; he was accordingly put forward as their spokesman in the opening of this business; he acquitted himself of the task in a manner that did credit to their choice; he appealed to those passions, in which he knew his friend was most affailable,, the spirit of patriotism, and the pride of being marked as the preserver of the public peace. Sir Roger, in plain words and few, made his hearty acknowledgments for the great honour conferred upon him, candidly stated his unfitness for the office to which they in-, vited him, and humbly solicited to be excused from undertaking it—" My age,” said the good man, “my habits of life, my attachment to the quiet character of a country gentleman, disqualify me for the active duties you would lay upon me. I love my country, it is true, and, in my small sphere, do all the good I can amongst my neighbours, but in the politics of the state I am as ignorant as a child.”_" For that reason we appeal to you,” said one of the gentlemen, who was: of an opposite interest to the last speaker; “ to your honour and impar
tial judgment, unconnected with party, and unbiass’d by politics, we would fain delegate this important trust, and in your nomination only all voices will unite; you alone can keep us all in harmony and good fellowship, and, I flatter myself that Sir Roger Manstock, as a lover of peace, will not refuse to his friends and neighbours their conciliating petition, tho’ it may be at the expence of some small share of his repose.” - Sir Roger faid truly he was no adept in politics, neither was he versed in shifts' and evafions, which we take to be an inferior branch of the same science; where his conscience, as in the present case, could not stand by him, wit never came to his assistance; in short, he was a good man and a bad orator; these arguments, therefore, which pushed right forwards at his heart he could not parry, and whilft he was thus balancing the pro and the con in filence, Cary, who saw the conflict, and which side his honour ought to take, filled his glass, and cried aloud "Come; uncle, let us drink, • Peace at home and victory abroad ;' if you'll preserve the one, we'll struggle to obtain the other.” - This lucky start of gaiety was pledged by all present, and Sir Roger seemed to be
carrying his election very fast against his will; one hope only remained, and that was centered in his friend Mr. Claypole, who hitherto had fate, with a neutrality of countenance, in perfect silence. He was a cool, deep-thinking man, and one on whose opinions Sir Roger reposed a very catholic faith; when he found himself invited to speak by a certain look, which his friend in doubt directed to him, and faw all other eyes upon him at the same time, and evidently with the same expectations, he delivere ed himself with much gravity, as follows:
« I am so inconsiderable a person in this company, and have so little right to speak upon the point in question, that I should naturally have been silent, had not my respected friend signified to me by his looks that my poor opinion would not be unwelcome or impertinent ; I say, gentlemen, I should be without excuse for uttering a word on this subject, but for Sir Roger's with that I should do so, and your encouragement in giving ear to me; I Thall not, however, abuse your indulgence by going out of my line, which certainly has nothing to do with parliamentary matters, but shall simply submit to my friend's consideration what my conscience obliges me to recommend
as a minister of peace, and a well wisher to the good order of society. The monstrous excesses and gross enormities of a contested election are seriously to be deplor’d, and every worthy means for preventing them have my hearty concurrence; how then can I withhold my approbation from the means now proposed, which, having for their object a person so worthy, cannot fail to be worthy in themselves ? It has been my happiness to live in the closest intimacy with my friend here present for many years, and, if Heaven fees fit to add others to them, I pray that it may continue to me that blessing also; I can boast therefore that I know him well; but what of that? you know him also, as your present application testifies, and know him pre-eminently deserving of the ho. nours you would fain confer upon him; I therefore join my humble suit to your's, that he would be pleased to accept them; and this I do, not unconscious of the facrifice he must make of many comforts, nor even indifferent to the loss which I myself must suffer by his absence, because I cannot bring myself to put the sacrifice of any one man's peace, least of all the sacrifice of my own, into the balance against the peace of many."