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Christie Johnstone   By: (1814-1884)

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CHRISTIE JOHNSTONE

A NOVEL

By Charles Reade

Transcriber's Note: Italics are indicated by the underscore character. Acute accents are indicated by a single quote (') after the vowel, while grave accents have a single quote before the vowel. All other accents are ignored.

I dedicate all that is good in this work to my mother. C. R.,

NOTE.

THIS story was written three years ago, and one or two topics in it are not treated exactly as they would be if written by the same hand to day. But if the author had retouched those pages with his colors of 1853, he would (he thinks) have destroyed the only merit they have, viz., that of containing genuine contemporaneous verdicts upon a cant that was flourishing like a peony, and a truth that was struggling for bare life, in the year of truth 1850.

He prefers to deal fairly with the public, and, with this explanation and apology, to lay at its feet a faulty but genuine piece of work.

CHAPTER I.

VISCOUNT IPSDEN, aged twenty five, income eighteen thousand pounds per year, constitution equine, was unhappy! This might surprise some people; but there are certain blessings, the non possession of which makes more people discontented than their possession renders happy.

Foremost among these are "Wealth and Rank." Were I to add "Beauty" to the list, such men and women as go by fact, not by conjecture, would hardly contradict me.

The fortunate man is he who, born poor, or nobody, works gradually up to wealth and consideration, and, having got them, dies before he finds they were not worth so much trouble.

Lord Ipsden started with nothing to win; and naturally lived for amusement. Now nothing is so sure to cease to please as pleasure to amuse, as amusement. Unfortunately for himself he could not at this period of his life warm to politics; so, having exhausted his London clique, he rolled through the cities of Europe in his carriage, and cruised its shores in his yacht. But he was not happy!

He was a man of taste, and sipped the arts and other knowledge, as he sauntered Europe round.

But he was not happy.

"What shall I do?" said l'ennuye'.

"Distinguish yourself," said one.

"How?"

No immediate answer.

"Take a prima donna over," said another.

Well, the man took a prima donna over, which scolded its maid from the Alps to Dover in the lingua Toscana without the bocca Romana, and sang in London without applause; because what goes down at La Scala does not generally go down at Il Teatro della Regina, Haymarket.

So then my lord strolled into Russia; there he drove a pair of horses, one of whom put his head down and did the work; the other pranced and capricoled alongside, all unconscious of the trace. He seemed happier than his working brother; but the biped whose career corresponded with this playful animal's was not happy!

At length an event occurred that promised to play an adagio upon Lord Ipsden 's mind. He fell in love with Lady Barbara Sinclair; and he had no sooner done this than he felt, as we are all apt to do on similar occasions, how wise a thing he had done!

Besides a lovely person, Lady Barbara Sinclair had a character that he saw would make him; and, in fact, Lady Barbara Sinclair was, to an inexperienced eye, the exact opposite of Lord Ipsden.

Her mental impulse was as plethoric as his was languid.

She was as enthusiastic as he was cool.

She took a warm interest in everything. She believed that government is a science, and one that goes with copia verborum.

She believed that, in England, government is administered, not by a set of men whose salaries range from eighty to five hundred pounds a year, and whose names are never heard, but by the First Lord of the Treasury, and other great men.

Hence she inferred, that it matters very much to all of us in whose hand is the rudder of that state vessel which goes down the wind of public opinion, without veering a point, let who will be at the helm... Continue reading book >>




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