Phineas Finn eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 986 pages of information about Phineas Finn.
parliamentary position.  Now, however, —­now that Phineas had consented to join the Government, any such considerations as these must be laid aside.  He could no longer be a free agent, or even a free thinker.  He had been quite aware of this, and had taught himself to understand that members of Parliament in the direct service of the Government were absolved from the necessity of free-thinking.  Individual free-thinking was incompatible with the position of a member of the Government, and unless such abnegation were practised, no government would be possible.  It was of course a man’s duty to bind himself together with no other men but those with whom, on matters of general policy, he could agree heartily;—­but having found that he could so agree, he knew that it would be his duty as a subaltern to vote as he was directed.  It would trouble his conscience less to sit for Loughton and vote for an objectionable clause as a member of the Government, than it would have done to give such a vote as an independent member.  In so resolving, he thought that he was simply acting in accordance with the acknowledged rules of parliamentary government.  And therefore, when Lord Brentford spoke of Clause 72, he could answer pleasantly, “I think we shall carry it; and, you see, in getting it through committee, if we can carry it by one, that is as good as a hundred.  That’s the comfort of close-fighting in committee.  In the open House we are almost as much beaten by a narrow majority as by a vote against us.”

“Just so; just so,” said Lord Brentford, delighted to see that his young pupil,—­as he regarded him,—­understood so well the system of parliamentary management.  “By-the-bye, Finn, have you seen Chiltern lately?”

“Not quite lately,” said Phineas, blushing up to his eyes.

“Or heard from him?”

“No;—­nor heard from him.  When last I heard of him he was in Brussels.”

“Ah,—­yes; he is somewhere on the Rhine now.  I thought that as you were so intimate, perhaps you corresponded with him.  Have you heard that we have arranged about Lady Laura’s money?”

“I have heard.  Lady Laura has told me.”

“I wish he would return,” said Lord Brentford sadly,—­almost solemnly.  “As that great difficulty is over, I would receive him willingly, and make my house pleasant to him, if I can do so.  I am most anxious that he should settle, and marry.  Could you not write to him?” Phineas, not daring to tell Lord Brentford that he had quarrelled with Lord Chiltern,—­feeling that if he did so everything would go wrong,—­said that he would write to Lord Chiltern.

As he went away he felt that he was bound to get an answer from Violet Effingham.  If it should be necessary, he was willing to break with Lord Brentford on that matter,—­even though such breaking should lose him his borough and his place;—­but not on any other matter.

CHAPTER XLIV

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Phineas Finn from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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