‘And where,’ said she, ’would you find a Radical to behave so generously, Harry, when it touches him so?’
He accorded me his permission to select my side in politics, merely insisting that I was never to change it, and this he requested me to swear to, for (he called the ghost of old Sewis to witness) he abhorred a turncoat.
’If you’re to be a Whig, or a sneaking half-and-half, I can’t help you much,’ he remarked. ’I can pop a young Tory in for my borough, maybe; but I can’t insult a number of independent Englishmen by asking them to vote for the opposite crew; that’s reasonable, eh? And I can’t promise you plumpers for the county neither. You can date your Address from Riversley. You’ll have your house in town. Tell me this princess of yours is ready with her hand, and,’ he threw in roughly, ’is a respectable young woman, I’ll commence building. You’ll have a house fit for a prince in town and country, both.’
Temple had produced an effect on him by informing him that ’this princess of mine’ was entitled to be considered a fit and proper person, in rank and blood, for an alliance with the proudest royal Houses of Europe, and my grandfather was not quite destitute of consolation in the prospect I presented to him. He was a curious study to me, of the Tory mind, in its attachment to solidity, fixity, certainty, its unmatched generosity within a limit, its devotion to the family, and its family eye for the country. An immediate introduction to Ottilia would have won him to enjoy the idea of his grandson’s marriage; but not having seen her, he could not realize her dignity, nor even the womanliness of a ’foreign woman.’
‘Thank God for one thing,’ he said: ’we shan’t have that fellow bothering—shan’t have the other half of your family messing the business. You’ll have to account for him to your wife as you best can. I ’ve nothing to do with him, mind that. He came to my house, stole my daughter, crazed her wits, dragged us all . . .’
The excuse to turn away from the hearing of abuse of my father was too good to be neglected, though it was horribly humiliating that I should have to take advantage of it—vexatious that I should seem chargeable with tacit lying in allowing the squire to suppose the man he hated to be a stranger to the princess. Not feeling sure whether it might be common prudence to delude him even passively, I thought of asking Janet for her opinion, but refrained. A stout deceiver has his merits, but a feeble hypocrite applying to friends to fortify him in his shifts and tergiversations must provoke contempt. I desired that Janet might continue to think well of me. I was beginning to drop in my own esteem, which was the mirror of my conception of Ottilia’s view of her lover.