He was really alarmed lest this should be one of the consequences of my going, and described some of the scourging caricatures of his day with an intense appreciation of their awfulness as engines of the moral sense of the public. I went nevertheless.
A PROMENADE IN BATH
I found my father at his hotel, sitting with his friend Jorian DeWitt, whom I had met once before, and thought clever. He was an ex-captain of dragoons, a martyr to gout, and addicted to Burgundy, which necessitated his resorting to the waters, causing him, as he said, between his appetites and the penance he paid for them, to lead the life of a pendulum. My father was in a tempered gay mood, examining a couple of the county newspapers. One abused him virulently; he was supported by the other. After embracing me, he desired me to listen while he read out opposing sentences from the columns of these eminent journals:
’The person calling himself “Roy,” whose monstrously absurd pretensions are supposed to be embodied in this self-dubbed surname . . .’
’—The celebrated and courtly Mr. Richmond Roy, known no less by the fascination of his manners than by his romantic history . . .’
’—has very soon succeeded in making himself the talk of the town . . ’
‘—has latterly become the theme of our tea-tables . . .’
‘—which is always the adventurer’s privilege . . .’
’—through no fault of his own . . ’
’—That we may throw light on the blushing aspirations of a crow-sconced Cupid, it will be as well to recall the antecedents of this (if no worse) preposterous imitation buck of the old school . . .’
’—Suffice it, without seeking to draw the veil from those affecting chapters of his earlier career which kindled for him the enthusiastic sympathy of all classes of his countrymen, that he is not yet free from a tender form of persecution . . .’
’—We think we are justified in entitling him the Perkin Warbeck of society . . .’
‘—Reference might be made to mythological heroes . . .’
Hereat I cried out mercy.
Captain DeWitt (stretched nursing a leg) removed his silk handkerchief from his face to murmur,
‘The bass stedfastly drowns the treble, if this is meant for harmony.’
My father rang up the landlord, and said to him,
’The choicest of your cellar at dinner to-day, Mr. Lumley; and, mind you, I am your guest, and I exercise my right of compelling you to sit down with us and assist in consuming a doubtful quality of wine. We dine four. Lay for five, if your conscience is bad, and I excuse you.’
The man smirked. He ventured to say he had never been so tempted to supply an inferior article.
My father smiled on him.
‘You invite our editorial advocate?’ said Captain DeWitt.