Phineas Finn eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 986 pages of information about Phineas Finn.

Phineas, who had his eyes about him, thought that he could perceive that Mr. Palliser did not shoot a deer with Mr. Ratler, and that Mr. Gresham played no chess with Mr. Bonteen.  Bonteen, indeed, was a noisy pushing man whom nobody seemed to like, and Phineas wondered why he should be at Loughlinter, and why he should be in office.  His friend Laurence Fitzgibbon had indeed once endeavoured to explain this.  “A man who can vote hard, as I call it; and who will speak a few words now and then as they’re wanted, without any ambition that way, may always have his price.  And if he has a pretty wife into the bargain, he ought to have a pleasant time of it.”  Mr. Ratler no doubt was a very useful man, who thoroughly knew his business; but yet, as it seemed to Phineas, no very great distinction was shown to Mr. Ratler at Loughlinter.  “If I got as high as that,” he said to himself, “I should think myself a miracle of luck.  And yet nobody seems to think anything of Ratler.  It is all nothing unless one can go to the very top.”

“I believe I did right to accept office,” Mr. Monk said to him one day, as they sat together on a rock close by one of the little bridges over the Linter.  “Indeed, unless a man does so when the bonds of the office tendered to him are made compatible with his own views, he declines to proceed on the open path towards the prosecution of those views.  A man who is combating one ministry after another, and striving to imbue those ministers with his convictions, can hardly decline to become a minister himself when he finds that those convictions of his own are henceforth,—­or at least for some time to come,—­to be the ministerial convictions of the day.  Do you follow me?”

“Very clearly,” said Phineas.  “You would have denied your own children had you refused.”

“Unless indeed a man were to feel that he was in some way unfitted for office work.  I very nearly provided for myself an escape on that plea;—­but when I came to sift it, I thought that it would be false.  But let me tell you that the delight of political life is altogether in opposition.  Why, it is freedom against slavery, fire against clay, movement against stagnation!  The very inaccuracy which is permitted to opposition is in itself a charm worth more than all the patronage and all the prestige of ministerial power.  You’ll try them both, and then say if you do not agree with me.  Give me the full swing of the benches below the gangway, where I needed to care for no one, and could always enjoy myself on my legs as long as I felt that I was true to those who sent me there!  That is all over now.  They have got me into harness, and my shoulders are sore.  The oats, however, are of the best, and the hay is unexceptionable.”

CHAPTER XV

Donald Bean’s Pony

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Phineas Finn from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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