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William Makepeace Thackeray - The Adventures Of Philip (1862)

In 1840 Thackeray published in Fraser's Magazine for the months of June, July, August, September,. and October the brief fiction entitled A Shabby-Genteel Story, and when in 1857 it was reprinted with other sketches by its author, he added a note stating that when the tale was first written he had intended to complete it, but that it then seemed best to leave the sketch as when first designed, seventeen years earlier. This resolution he subsequently thought better of and set about writing The Adventures of Philip, which appeared in the Cornhill Magazine from January, 1861, to August, 1862, inclusive, and in Harper's Magazine from February, 1861, to September, 1868, inclusive. When it was reprinted in a three-volume edition in 1862, the author's illustrations were not reproduced. Mr. Brandon, a chief personage in the earlier tale, appears as Brand Firmin, his real name, in Philip, and Mrs. Brandon, his deserted wife, Mr. Gann, and several other figures in A Shabby-Genteel Story, are introduced among the dramatis personce of the longer romance. The period of Philip is the second quartet of the nineteenth century, approximately speaking, and the scene occurs in London and in Paris.

IN the first quarter of the nineteenth century" Lord Ringwood had in his family two niece's, daugh ters of his late brother, Colonel Philip Ringwood.

Louisa, the younger, was his favorite, and though both girls possessed fortunes in their own right it was supposed that their uncle would provide for them further. The elder, Maria, married in 1824 Talbot Twysden, a tax commissioner, while Louisa incurred her uncle's wrath by eloping with George Brand Firmin, M.D., a handsome, talented, but unscrupulous young collegian of Cambridge. Beyond abuse and anger my lord was powerless. He could disown Louisa., and he did so until he found it convenient to forgive her.

Dr. Firmin had led a wild career. While still a very young man he had, under the name of Brandon, won the affections of Caroline Gann, the stepdaughter of his' lodging-house keeper at Margate, a good, honest girl who was ready to marry him so soon as he could get his father's consent. He said much of his high family and his proud father's curse, but the girl refused to consider any proposition but that of lawful marriage. A quarrel with a fellow-lodger, an artist named Fitch, resulted in a duel between them; and in her anxiety lest harm should come to her lover poor Caroline betrayed to all beholders by hysterical tears and laughter the nature of her feelings. Upon this Brandon swore that she should be his wife and his father might reconcile himself to it or not, adding: "Why need my father know any-thing about it?" His friend, young Tufthunt, was just in orders, and on that very day in Brandon's room, without a license, and with one sole witness, Caroline, who knew nothing of licenses or banns, was married by Tufthunt to the man she knew as George Brandon. The ceremony over the couple set off on the wedding.-trip at once.

After a few months the villain deserted Caroline, and she went back to her father, but her stepmother, refusing to credit the story of the marriage, drove her from the door. Her husband's real name she did not know, and she lost the paper announcing his desertion and his previous marriage, She could not pursue him had she wished to do so. Making her way to London, she there found friends who cared for her in her illness, and the physician who visited her, pleased with her quiet simplicity and sweetness of manner, had her educated to nursing and found her employment.

In course of time Caroline's stepmother died and the daughter now came to her father's rescue. She had saved a little money, and aided by Dr. Goodenough hired a comfortable house and took lodgers. She was popularly known as the "Little Sister" and her father, styled "the Captain," found a home with her.

The Little Sister had been on duty for a series of years when Dr. Firmin's son Philip fell ill of scarlet fever at Greyfriars school and was attended by Dr. Goodenough, his own father being absent, and the Little Sister was placed in charge. The boy grew worse and his father was sent for. When he came he said to the lad gently: "It is I, dear, your father."

The Little Sister turned round once and fell like a stone at the bedside.

"You infernal villainl" said Goodenough. "You are the man 1"

Although Dr. Goodenough might think very badly of his confrere, the general public esteemed him highly and Dr. Firmin's skill in medicine was always in demand. His son recovered from the fever, went in due time to the university, and in his second year there was one of several ex-pupils attending the annual school-dinner at which high honors were paid Dr. Firmin, who had just brought young Lord Egham, the son of the Marquis of Ascot, successfully through a serious illness. Amid the general enthusiasm in Dr. Firmin's behalf there was one scornful voice, that of his son, who whispered sarcastic comments upon his father to the friend next him.

From the date of that schoolboy illness Philip's manner to his father had changed, and regarding the change the elder Firmin seemed afraid to question his son. The lad came and went at will, ruled the servants, and spent the income settled on his mother and her children. After leaving the university and making a tour on the Continent he returned to his father, his mother having died while he was at school; but although he had free quarters at home the two men seldom met, either at meals or otherwise.

In no place was Philip seen to so little advantage as in his father's house, He was much more amiable elsewhere, and often went to the Little Sister's home in Thornhaugh Street to see the artists there, or the gentle Mrs. Brandon, who regarded him with almost motherly devotion. It was presently rumored that Dr. Firmin would marry again, and when Philip heard the report he told his parent that the marriage must not be. When Dr. Firmin asked the reason why, the son answered that he knew his father was married already, and added that if the elder man persisted in his design he would tell the story at once to Miss Benson, the lady in question.

"So you know that story?" the father groaned.

"Yes, God forgive you!" said the son.

"It was a fault of my youth that has been bitterly repented." "A fault!—a crime!" said Philip.

Philip never had Miss Benson for a mother-in-law. But father and son loved each other no better after their dispute. Philip was idle and had many other faults, but he hated hypocrisy and hypocrites in general and spoke his mind freely about things and persons. He believed what was said to him till the speaker had once misled him, and after that would believe him in nothing. Father and son were naturally hospitable, and when Philip received his degree of barrister-at-law he celebrated the event by a dinner at his chambers. To this dinner his father brought a disreputable-looking clergyman whom he called Mr. Tufton Hunt, and who was coldly received by the company. Hunt had already established himself near Dr. Firmin, from whom he constantly contrived to extort money, and was the object of Philip's special dislike. He believed that Hunt and his father had been partners in more than one disgraceful affair in their youth and that Dr. Firmin, fearful that his past should be-come known through Hunt and blast his present career, was paying hush-money to the rascally clergyman.

In course of time Philip fell in love with his cousin, Alice Twysden, a circumstance approved by the Twysdens until a richer suitor appeared, Worlcomb of the Life Guards Green, a West Indian of great wealth and more than a suspicion of African lineage. Alice and her mother were quite well aware of the amount of income of each, and in the end Cousin Philip was thrown over for the West Indian.

As Hunt was one day leaving a tavern he espied Dr. Firmin departing from a house in Thornhaugh Street which bore the name of Brandon on the door, and presently brought to mind the story of the woman whom his friend, under the name of Brandon, had so long ago deceived. This gave him another hold on the physician. Philip was disgusted soon after this to meet Hunt at the Little Sister's house, and his dislike of the man increased. When the same day father and son were about to dine together Dr. Firmin observed that Hunt would probably join them. Philip declared that he could not bear the man, from whom he had just parted. On his father's query of "Where?" he answered: "At Mrs. Brandon's." Hunt now appeared, and when Dr. Firmin was called away to a patient the clergyman became noisy and abusive toward Philip.

Philip had already guessed part of Mrs. Brandon's history, and although he did not suppose it more than a case of early libertinism on the part of his father it increased the distrust he felt for his parent. Hunt was unscrupulous and could hold the marriage over the doctor's head and perhaps invalidate Philip's legitimacy. The first marriage might be null, but the scandal would be fatal to Dr. Firmin.

That evening, as Philip was visiting the studio of his friend Ridley at Mrs. Brandon's, Hunt arrived, very drunk and insisting upon entrance. To this the Little Sister objected, and when Philip came to the door to aid her Hunt cried: "It's the cub! I want the doctor." The clergyman then became so insolent in his bearing to Mrs. Brandon that Philip angrily kicked him into the street. Unhurt, but thinking his antagonist was going to strike him again, Hunt exclaimed:

"Hands off, BASTARD ! "

Early the next morning Mrs. Brandon called upon Dr. Firmin and related what had happened. He was very angry when he heard the name that had been applied to his son. Mrs. Brandon had feared that Hunt could do Philip a mischief and went to put the father on his guard.

"When he called Philip that name, did the boy seem much disturbed?" asked the doctor.

"Yes, he referred to it again and again—though I tried. to coax him out of it. But I am sure he will think of it the first thing this morning."

Hunt appeared while father and son were breakfasting and complained of Philip's assault upon him, to which the doctor replied that he was glad his son had resented the other's insolence to an admirable woman; and Philip, listening, felt that his father could not have been criminal or he would not have thus outfaced Hunt. Firmin then announced that he would bear with the clergyman no longer, and in a few words told Philip how he had once got Hunt to perform a sham marriage long ago between himself and Caroline Gann. Hunt thereupon declared the marriage not a sham one and hastened away.

"What can the man do? Is the first marriage a good marriage?" asked Philip.

"It is void to all intents and purposes. You may suppose I have taken care to learn the law about that. Your legitimacy is clear. But that man can ruin me, or nearly so."

Philip was at a loss to understand his parent's sudden resistance to Hunt's demands, but in his interviews with Caroline Dr. Firmin's mind was set at rest in one direction and he feared no longer the charge of bigamy. The Little Sister had resigned all her claims, past, present, future. But in a few days word came from Mrs, Brandon that lawyers had visited her, calling her Mrs. Firmin and trying to persuade her father that she was kept out of her rights as the wife of Dr. Firmin, and saying that a fortune was involved in the affair. To save Philip from ruin the Little Sister chose to forget her marriage to his father, and thus the case, in concocting which the Twysden relatives had been concerned, to his injury, fell to the ground. Philip called on his great-uncle, Lord Ringwood, on one occasion just as Twysden and his son Talbot were leaving, and my lord was much amused at their hangdog appearance when they saw Philip. A little inquiry brought out the fact that there had been no settlement between the young man and his father regarding his mother's property. Philip explained that he had come of age only a few months previously. He received his dividends regularly. One of his trustees, General Baynes, was expected from India shortly, else a power of attorney would have been sent him before.

On the arrival of General Baynes Dr. Firmin gave a dinner at which Lord Ringwood was present, and in the midst of it a telegram was handed to the host which, as he said, announced the sudden illness of the Grand Duke of Groningen and contained his own summons to the bedside of that potentate. Obliged to depart at once, he left his son to entertain for him and went away with a graceful bow to the company. Two days later Philip's lifelong friend, Dr. Arthur Pendennis, received a letter from Dr. Firmin declaring his resolution to expatriate himself. He dared not face General Baynes when the question of Philip's patrimony should be taken up. At the doctor's instigation General Baynes, the only surviving trustee, had signed a paper authorizing, as he supposed, Firmin's bankers to receive Philip's dividends, but in reality giving the elder Firmin power to dispose of the capital sum. Expecting to replace it, he had embarked in speculations in which this sum and much more was lost. He added that the telegram was a mere pretext and that he should be heard from ere long from the place he meant to reach.

Examination proved that not everything had been told in the letter and that all Philip would have left to call his own was two hundred pounds, for he declared he would starve before he would make old General Baynes suffer for his father's dishonesty. Philip now lived in his chambers at the Temple with a newspaper correspondent named Cassidy, who brought him to the notice of Mugford, owner of the Pall Mall Gazette. Mug-ford was well disposed toward the young man, and Mrs. Mug-ford, whose nurse the Little Sister had been more than once, was very friendly likewise, having heard much in his praise from Nurse Brandon. The result of so much good-will was Philip's engagement to write for the Gazette. When his friends, the Pendennises, were spending their holiday at Boulogne he was asked to visit them, and as he landed at the pier he en-countered the entire Baynes family who, after many days of anxious misery in which they looked constantly for a bailiff to arrest them on Philip's account, had, as result of many family councils, resolved to hide themselves somewhere on the Continent and had advanced thus far on their journey. Philip met the dismayed Bayneses with great cordiality, conducted them to a hotel, and the next day in an interview with General Baynes assured him that he had no thought of holding the soldier responsible for the money of which his father had deprived him; and thus the poor General and his wife were relieved of their terrible burden. Philip, for his part, thought no more of his kind action except to be happy that he could. do it, and in the mean time had fallen deeply in love with the General's oldest daughter, Charlotte. It had been the intention of Mrs. Baynes, who, out of the field, was her husband's commanding officer, to establish her family at Tours, where her sister, the wife of Major MacWhirter, was living; but Colonel Bunch, chancing to pass through Boulogne at this time, gave such an account of a ball at the Tuileries which he and Mrs. Bunch had attended that Mrs. Baynes, moved by this and other considerations (such as her conviction that she and her children were quite as fit to go to court as the Bunches), fixed upon Paris as their residence. Accordingly the Bayneses established themselves at Madame de Smolensk's fashionable boarding-house there, and Philip was allowed to accompany them to Paris, where he presently secured employment as a correspondent for the Pall Mall Gazette.

Charlotte was devoted to him, and as his duties as correspondent were light he spent a great deal of time with her. But Mrs. Baynes was an ambitious, domineering woman, and as her sense of gratitude to Philip weakened there was danger of her interfering with the course of true love if a better offer for her daughter should be made. She even quarreled with the other inmates of the house and made Madame de Smolensk's life a burden.

At Christmas Philip's own affairs took him to London, where he lodged at Mrs. Brandon's, and Mugford of the Gazette gave a dinner for his "Paris Correspondent." Not being of a tactful disposition, he managed to offend his great-uncle, Lord Ring-wood, and thus all hopes of favor in that quarter were cut off, for my lord died of gout shortly after. Philip was back in Paris by that time, hard at work not only for the Gazette but at any literary task he could find. He began to save money and dressed shabbily, for which last Mrs. Baynes abused him roundly, while Charlotte defended him. "Do you know why Monsieur Philip has these shabby clothes?" she asked Madame de Smolensk. "Because he has been sending money to his father in America." And Smolensk said that Monsieur Philip was a brave young man, and that he might come dressed like an Iroquois to her house and be welcome.

Mrs. Baynes now began to go to evening parties, but felt ashamed of the shabby carriage which took her and Charlotte, and also of the shabby Philip, who sometimes put them into it. And with only an old coat and patched boots Philip could not attend them at these functions. Charlotte enjoyed telling her lover of these festivities, but she did not tell how every night her mother expatiated upon Philip's foibles and his shabby clothes, and compared him with the various attractive partners her daughter had had at the parties.

On the occasion of the Queen's birthday Philip attended the fete given by Lord Estridge in his shabby and tight dress-coat, and while he watched, without a spark of jealousy, Charlotte dancing with young Hely, his cousin Talbot Twysden, with his partner, jostled him rudely, sending him against the wall and irretrievably splitting the seams of the old coat. Supposing this an accident he was making his way into the garden when he overheard Twysden boasting to an acquaintance of the act, whereupon Philip knocked him into the fountain. Mrs. Baynes, hearing of this encounter a day or two later, was furious, and not only abused Philip to his face but egged on her husband to condemn his conduct. She further declared that she would die sooner than allow her daughter to marry him. "Do you want my girl to go home to your lodgings and mend your clothes?" the General was at length urged on to exclaim., and Philip, who had just sent his father money and paid his old servants what was owing them, felt this stab keenly.

It was determined that the lovers should not meet, but Smolensk comforted Charlotte by going to Philip and assuring him of his sweetheart's entire faithfulness. About this time Dr. Firmin wrote his son suggesting that Philip should contribute correspondence to the New York Emerald, and Philip did so for a time, but in the end his father succeeded in getting hold of the sums received for this work. In the letter Dr. Firmin stated that he had drawn upon his son for one hundred dollars.

Mrs. Baynes's treatment of Philip led to serious consequences. When the General told his friend Bunch what had happened the other declared that it was a cowardly action to throw over the man who might have ruined them but had generously stayed his hand. Thereupon a quarrel ensued between the two men and a duel was arranged. Mrs, Baynes meanwhile had privately sent for her sister's husband, Major MacWhirter, intending that he should take Charlotte to Tours out of Philip's way, and perhaps persuade her to accept young Hely. But both MacWhirters appeared. General Baynes, intending that MacWhirter should be his second, related his story only to find his brother-in-law opposed to him and another quarrel entered upon while the sisters, knowing nothing of the hostile preparations on foot, quarreled violently between themselves. With some difficulty matters were presently righted and the General was convinced that he had been in the wrong. Mrs. Baynes submitted to defeat temporarily, but hoped to continue the battle at another opportunity.

Charlotte knew that her Aunt MacWhirter was her friend and willingly agreed to stay with her at Tours. Philip would have wished to accompany Charlotte, but his father had drawn heavily upon him, leaving him for the moment with but four francs; and when the sympathetic Smolensk learned this she at once lent him a banknote for current expenses: After a fort-night of love-making at Tours he returned to his work in Paris, and some little time later General Baynes was taken so ill that Charlotte was sent for.. The sick man refused to see his wife; but asked his daughter to pardon him for anything he had made her suffer; and died as she and Philip knelt at his bedside: Philip now went to London to plan a home for Charlotte; and through his various friends secured employment sufficient to warrant his so doing. The marriage took place in due time and for a while the affairs of the Firmins prospered, but Philip's hot temper and disregard of other persons' feelings got him into many scrapes and ultimately lost him his post on the Gazette, as well as the favor of various men whose friendship he could ill afford to lose. Before this event occurred, however, he had se-cured some fees as legal counsel in several cases; and as he thought but humbly of his abilities he was somewhat surprised at his success in this particular direction; But evil days came, Dr. Firmin forged his son's name, and Tufton Hunt, then in New York, secured the bill and came to London with the intention of making Philip pay its amount. Appearing at Mrs. Brandon's in order to obtain Philip's address she purposely misled him until she could inform Philip of the unwelcome visitor. Philip, in order to save his father from further disgrace, resolved to pay the bill, much to the Little Sister's indignation.

On Hunt's next visit he became insolent, and as he approached her she flung a door back against him so sharply that he fell to the floor bleeding. A bottle of chloroform was near, and she bathed his head with the liquid. She then took his pocketbook from him, extracted from it the bill with Philip's name and threw it in the fire, afterward replacing the pocket-book. This immediate danger was averted from Philip, but other misfortunes chanced and the Firmins came very near actual poverty. When things were at their worst the good-natured Mugfords appeared, ready to forgive anything in the past and with assurances of friendship in the future, and so Philip returned once more to his post on the Gazette. Dr. Fir-min drew no further bills in his son's name and Philip was now spared further persecution from this quarter. The doctor pres ently announced his marriage with a wealthy lady of Norfolk, and three months later died of yellow fever on his wife's estate.

When Philip's mother had eloped with Firmin, Lord Ring-wood, her uncle, vowed he would give her nothing; but liking Philip's independent and forgiving spirit he made a will bequeathing him a handsome legacy, though when Philip offended him he desired his lawyer to bring back this will. On receiving the document he placed it in a secret box in his traveling carriage, probably intending to revoke it on getting home, but died on the road before reaching his castle. He had made and canceled many wills, but this was the latest he ever signed. By a singular train of circumstances, culminating in an accident to the Ringwood chariot, the will was discovered, and by its provisions Philip was put beyond the reach of want. The Little Sister was greatly excited on hearing of Dr. Firmin's second marriage. "His second? his third!" she said. The delusion came over her that Philip was really her own child, and at her death she left all her little property to him.

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

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William Makepeace Thackeray - The Adventures Of Philip (1862)

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