The Honorable Richard Alexander Topertoe, for he was sometimes called the one and sometimes the other, but most frequently Richard, had been for several years on the continent, where he found it more economical to reside than at home. A circumstance connected with a gambling debt of his brother’s; communicated by a friend, brought him suddenly to London, where he arrived in time to save his brother’s reputation and fortune, and most probably his life, for Lord Cumber, be it known, was very nearly what is termed a professed duelist. Having succeeded in saving his brother from being fleeced by a crew of aristocratic black-legs, and thereby rendered an appeal to the duello unnecessary, he happened to become acquainted with a very wealthy merchant, whose daughter, in the course of a few months, he wooed and won. The thing in fact is common, and has nothing at all of romance in it. She had wealth and beauty; he had some title. The father, who passed off to a different counting-house, about a couple of months after their marriage, left him and her to the enjoyment of an immense property in the Funds; and sooth to say, it could not have got into better hands. She was made the Honorable Mrs. Richard Topertoe, and if a cultivated understanding, joined to an excellent and humane heart, deserved a title, in her person they did. After his arrival in London he had several conversations with his brother, whose notions with regard to property he found to be of the cool, aristocratic, and contemptuous school; that is to say, he did not feel himself bound to neglect the pleasures and enjoyments of life, and to look after his tenants. It was enough that he received their rents, and paid a sensible Agent to collect them. What more could he do? Was he to become their slave?
Richard, who now felt quite anxious to witness the management of his brother’s estate—if only for the purpose of correcting his bad logic upon the subject of property, came over incognito to the metropolis, accompanied by his wife; and it was to his brother, under the good-humored sobriquet of Spinageberd, that he addressed the letters recorded in these volumes. He also had a better object in view, which was to purchase property in the country, and to reside on it. That he did not succeed in rooting out of Lord Cumber’s mind his senseless prejudices with respect to the duties of a landlord, was unfortunately none of his fault. All that man could do, by reasoning, illustration, and remonstrance, he did; but in vain; the old absurd principle of the landlord’s claims upon his tenantry, Lord Cumber neither could nor would give up; and having made these necessary observations, we proceed with our narrative.