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my service with my uncle-saying, that a fine young man, such as I was, ought to seek a situation more befitting for him; and adding, that if I were but so inclined, she would speak a word for me to Mr. FitzAdam, and he would make me one of his own particular attendants, to ride out with him, and to accompany him in his field sports, of which he is particularly fond, and to be, as it were, his companion in those exercises, which suit a young man better by far than being nailed to the desk, driving a quill through all the labyrinths of such dry insipid speculations, as old and dull heads only have a taste for. And then the second sister described the accoutrements and appointments which I should exchange for my suit of russet gray, and the gallant steed which would be given me; while the elder spoke with a sort of loathing of the joyless life to which my uncle condemned me, comparing my dull hours with the gay progress of each day spent in the service of the steward.
Now I expect that my reader will think I had travelled pretty smartly along the wrong path during the few short hours of this morning, but every traveller knows that the downward road is easy enough. Ask any one who has been labouring up a lofty mountain with many à weary, and mayhap, many a sore footstep, panting and striving, and being ready to give up the toil as not to be endured, how he feels himself when the downward path lies steep before him, and he has naught else to do but to jog cheerily forward, with the fair valley before him, where he hopes for ease and refreshment, and perchance the company of such as he likes, and perhaps. on afterthought, it might be proved that I had not made such a vast progress in the evil way all at once as at first appears ; for whoever has read the former part of my memorandums with any thing like attention, must have seen that I was very well prepared for closing in with the temptations which those who did not love my Lord had prepared for me. I had been out of humour, and dissatisfied with the restraints which my uncle had put me under, and I know not any state of mind better prepared for the reception of an evil impression, than that of dissatisfaction with a man's outward circumstances, more especially when that dissatisfaction has no rational ground or foundation. So I wore out the forenoon, nay, and for that matter, most of the after
noon, in talking with these three daughters of the housekeeper; and when it was getting towards dark, who should come but Mr. Fitz-Adam, the steward, knocking at the door, and asking in a sort of jocose way, such as he often was in the habit of using, if there was room for him in the company.
I had heard so much of Mr. Fitz-Adam, that I started when the young ladies called to him by name, bidding him come in, as one who always made himself agreeable; nor was I altogether at my ease when I saw him enter, eying me as it were askance, as he stepped forward to pay his compliments to my companions; and I am sensible that my manner betrayed the awe which I felt, though I did not mean it should do so, for the young ladies laughed, and the eldest said, “Mr. Fitz-Adam, here is one who is under no small agitation at your presence, not having as yet had the honour of being introduced to you;" whereupon he smiled, and gave me his hand. But I must remember that I have not yet described the steward, a negligence which, if not amended, may justly displease my reader.
Mr. Fitz-Adam is by no means young; nay, if what is said of him by those who don't like him, and yet would scorn speaking an untruth of him, is worthy of credit, he is as old as any man in the house ;* neither has he any right, they say, to add the Fitz to his name, being come of a spurious branch of a family, which was indeed of exalted origin, and still in the elder branch eminent above all others, but having for his immediate parents a rebel on the father's side, and one broken off or disowned on that of the mother, I whereas the Fitz or Fidz in heraldry, ought to designate a distinguished birth, although, in imitation perhaps of our steward, it has too often been used where it ought not to be. However this may be, this Mr. Fitz-Adam, by some called old Adam, is in fact very far from young, although he carries his years so remarkably well, that he has not a sign of age
*“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." Eph. iv. 22.
+ “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” Luke iii. 38.
“And say, Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem ; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amo. rite, and thy mother an Hittite." Ezek. xvi. 3.
about him: his hair is black as a raven, and he stands as firm as a rock, and the strength of his arm is what no one can withstand that is unassisted. Nevertheless, as I have heard some say who know him best, Mr. FitzAdam owes much of his comeliness (for some think him an exceedingly comely person) to his dress, which is always much studied and very neatly arranged, and to the smoothness and complaisance of his manner; for unless he is quite put beyond himself, he is particularly complaisant, more especially in the presence of ladies, and as it was in their company that I first met him, I saw him to the best advantage, that is, in his most gracious mood. Now when I was introduced to him, he at first made as if he did not understand who I was; but seeming presently to recollect me, he inquired politely after my uncle, and asked me for what reason I had kept myself so close since I had been in the house? I gave for my reason for so doing, my uncle's wish that I should keep to my desk. In reply to which, he smiled and said, “ Come, come, young sir, that wont do; you know better. Your uncle is said to be a worthy man, and our Master has not a more faithful servant than he is thought to be; but he has his prejudices. Yes, Mr. Nicodeinus (for he was pleased to call me Mr. who am no Mr. or Master), he has his prejudices, and among some others of less consequence, he cannot be made to believe that there are any persons in this house, but himself, and two or three more of his particular intimates, who hold firm to the Master; and if we have not the Master's name always between our lips, which I for my part consider to be taking a great liberty with that noble name, then we are unfaithful servants, and care more for our advancement than our Master's good, and I know not what, all which has no manner of foundation, in truth or common sense.” He was, as his way is, beginning to chafe himself with his own words, when one of the young ladies pulling him by the sleeve, made him mindful of her presence, whereupon he changed his tone, and having taken a place on the sofa, was beginning a sort of idle discourse, such as some ladies love, when Madame le Monde came in to say that the dinner was ready in the hall. Upon hearing this, I was starting away, on which I had every one upon me, and the housekeeper would not hear of my going away, nor would any thing else serve her, but I must take the hand of her eldest daughter, and lead her into the hall after herself and the steward, the rest of the company following in the rear.
I do not know that I ever felt myself more out of my place in my life, than I did as I led the lady, or rather as I should say, was led by her (for she rather took my hand than I did hers) into the great hall, the bell in the tower tinkling away all the time, to let the people know who was going to dinner; and when at length I came to the hall, and saw all the superior servants of the house gathered round the long board, and the servingmen, in their blue coats and badges, standing in order against the wall, ready to fetch and carry as required, I was fairly out of countenance; especially when I saw among them the young man who waited on my uncle, and who, as I thought, looked somewhat comically at me, as much as to say—“ So you are taking advantage of the first day of the old one's absence, to make a holyday, and to follow your own inclinations: now we shall know of what stuff you are made, Mr. Nicodemus." Thus I thought that the looks of Theophilus said all this, and much more, and this conceit put me out more than ever; and no doubt I made an awkward figure enough, when desired to take a seat near the head of the table, in a chair of velvet well padded and cushioned, and one in which a much larger man than I am could turn about and loll at his ease. I suppose my looks said, What have I to do here ? for the steward turned to me, and smiling with his lips only, as he has a way of doing, “ Mr. Nicodemus," he said, “we have given you your uncle's seat, which I am sorry to say he never occupies, for as Madame le Monde could tell you, he is very sparing of his visits, and”—He was going on to say more, when the housekeeper took him up, saying, in her ready way, which is very taking in general to strangers, “Well, Mr. Fitz-Adam, now that the chair is so well and so handsomely filled, we will say nothing of its having been so long left vacant.” What could I do in return for this compliment but bow my head; whereupon the three young ladies smiled, and looked me hard in the face, which made me blush, though I hardly knew wherefore, and so, what with one thing and what with another, I was so thoroughly put out, though pleased enough all the while to find myself so handsomely treated, that I could think of nothing to do for a minute or two, but to
fumble with the napkin which lay upon my plate, turning it about and about, and then spreading it upon my knees as I observed the doctor and others doing with theirs, in order that they might be ready to receive any crumbs or drops of gravy which might chance to fall while they were feeding themselves. In the mean time, that is, while I was thus employed, there was a great stirring and tramping about me, and when next I looked up, all the persons who were to dine were seated in their places, and in the order I shall describe. Those persons who have read histories of ancient customs will understand what I mean when I say that one part of the long table stood upon a dais, or in other words, on a part of the floor of the hall which was raised as much as a foot from the other part. This dais was covered with a carpet, while the lower end of the table stood upon the bare stone pavement; and whereas at the upper end of the hall there were chairs set for the company, well quilted and lined according to the dignity of those for whom they were set, there were long benches without backs at the lower end ; and moreover the dishes were all set at the upper end, from which the messes for each person were sent down-their measure and quality being adapted by Mr. Fitz-Adam and the housekeeper, according to their situation in the household, or to the favour in which those, for whom they were intended, were held by the ruling powers, and I promise you that few of those who sat below the dais knew more of the dainties served up at the higher table than what they could gather from the odours which were emitted by them. Now I should say that all the principal servants and officers of the household, with all such as were in favour with the steward and housekeeper, had their places at the upper table; whereas the lower servants, and those who were not thought much of by the great people, sat below the salt, for just at the division between the upper and lower table, stood a huge salt-cellar; hence it was, and is to this day, a common saying in the house, “Such a one is below the salt, and such a one is above the salt.”
Now, as I have before said, they had put me in my seat (for although the great people in the hall hated my uncle, and had tried often to deprive him of all honour and respect, yet, because the Master had given him his