Click here to Download The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book by Max Beerbohm English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 27.
None, it is said, of all who revelled with the Regent, was half so wicked as Lord George Hell. I will not trouble my little readers with a long recital of his great naughtiness. But it were well they should know that he was greedy, destructive, and disobedient. I am afraid there is no doubt that he often sat up at Carlton House until long after bedtime.
The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book by Max Beerbohm
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Playing at games, and that he generally ate and drank far more than was good for him. His fondness for fine clothes was such that he used to dress on week-days quite as gorgeously as good people dress on Sundays. He was thirty-five years old and a great grief to his parents. And the worst of it was that he set such a bad example to others.
Never, never did he try to conceal his wrong-doing; so that, in time, every one knew how horrid he was. In fact, I think he was proud of being horrid. Captain Tarleton, in his account of Contemporary Bucks, suggested that his Lordship’s great Candour was a virtue and should incline us to forgive some of his abominable faults.
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But, painful as it is to me to dissent from any opinion expressed by one who is now dead, I hold that Candour is good only when it reveals good actions or good sentiments, and that when it reveals evil, itself is evil, even also. Lord George Hell did, at last, atone for all his faults, in a way that was never revealed to the world during his life-time.
The reason of his strange and sudden disappearance from that social sphere in which he had so long moved, and never moved again, I will unfold. My little readers will then, I think, acknowledge that any angry judgment they may have passed upon him must be reconsidered and, maybe, withdrawn.
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I will leave his Lordship in their hands. But my plea for him will not be based upon that Candour of his, which some of his friends so much admired. There were, yes! some so weak and so wayward as to think it a fine thing to have an historic title and no scruples. “Here comes George Hell,” they would say.
“How wicked my Lord is looking!” Noblesse oblige, you see, and so an aristocrat should be very careful of his good name. Anonymous naughtiness does little harm. It is pleasant to record that many persons were inobnoxious to the magic of his title and disapproved of him so strongly that, whenever he entered a room where they happened to be.
They would make straight for the door and watch him very severely through the keyhole. Every morning, when he strolled up Piccadilly, they crossed over to the other side in a compact body, leaving him to the companionship of his bad companions on that which is still called the “shady” side. Lord George—[Greek: schetlios]—was quite indifferent to this demonstration. The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book
Indeed, he seemed wholly hardened, and when ladies gathered up their skirts as they passed him, he would lightly appraise their ankles. I am glad I never saw his Lordship. They say he was rather like Caligula, with a dash of Sir John Falstaff, and that sometimes on wintry mornings in St. James’s Street young children would hush their prattle and cling in disconsolate terror to their nurses’ skirts.
As they saw him come (that vast and fearful gentleman!) with the east wind ruffling the rotund surface of his beaver, ruffling the fur about his neck and wrists, and striking the purple complexion of his cheeks to a still deeper purple. “King Bogey” they called him in the nurseries. In the hours when they too were naughty, their nurses would predict his advent down the chimney or from the linen-press.
And then they always “behaved.” So that, you see, even the unrighteous are a power for good, in the hands of nurses. It is true that his Lordship was a non-smoker—a negative virtue, certainly, and due, even that, I fear, to the fashion of the day—but there the list of his good qualities comes to an abrupt conclusion. The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book
He loved with an insatiable love the town and the pleasures of the town, whilst the ennobling influences of our English lakes were quite unknown to him. He used to boast that he had not seen a buttercup for twenty years, and once he called the country “a Fool’s Paradise.” London was the only place marked on the map of his mind.
London gave him all he wished for. Is it not extraordinary to think that he had never spent a happy day nor a day of any kind in Follard Chase, that desirable mansion in Herts, which he had won from Sir Follard Follard, by a chuck of the dice, at Boodle’s, on his seventeenth birthday?
Always cynical and unkind, he had refused to give the broken baronet his “revenge.” Always unkind and insolent, he had offered to instal him in the lodge—an offer which was, after a little hesitation, accepted. “On my soul, the man’s place is a sinecure,” Lord George would say; “he never has to open the gate to me.” The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book
So rust has covered the great iron gates of Follard Chase, and moss had covered its paths. The deer browsed upon its terraces. There were only wild flowers anywhere. Deep down among the weeds and water-lilies of the little stone-rimmed pond he had looked down upon, lay the marble faun, as he had fallen.
Not so, however. His Lordship came straight towards the mask-shop. Once he glanced up at Signora’s window and looked deeply annoyed when he saw her sitting there. He came quickly into the shop. “I want the mask of a saint,” he said. “Mask of a saint, my Lord? Certainly!” said Mr. Aeneas, briskly.
“With or without halo? His Grace the Bishop of St. Aldred’s always wears his with a halo? Your Lordship does not wish for a halo? Certainly! If your Lordship will allow me to take his measurement——” “I must have the mask to-day,” Lord George said. “Have you none ready-made?” The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book
“Ah, I see. Required for immediate wear,” murmured Mr. Aeneas, dubiously. “You see, your Lordship takes a rather large size.” And he looked at the floor. “Julius!” he cried suddenly to his assistant, who was putting the finishing touches to a mask of Barbarossa which the young king of Zürremburg was to wear at his coronation the following week.
“Julius! Do you remember the saint’s mask we made for Mr. Ripsby, a couple of years ago?” “Yes, sir,” said the boy. “It’s stored upstairs.” “I thought so,” replied Mr. Aeneas. “Mr. Ripsby only had it on hire. Step upstairs, Julius, and bring it down. I fancy it is just what your Lordship would wish. Spiritual, yet handsome.”
“Is it a mask that is even as a mirror of true love?” Lord George asked, gravely. “It was made precisely as such,” the mask-maker answered. “In fact it was made for Mr. Ripsby to wear at his silver wedding, and was very highly praised by the relatives of Mrs. Ripsby. Will your Lordship step into my little room?” The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book Download
So Mr. Aeneas led the way to his parlour behind the shop. He was elated by the distinguished acquisition to his clientèle, for hitherto Lord George had never patronized his business. He bustled round his parlour and insisted that his Lordship should take a chair and a pinch from his snuff-box, while the saint’s mask was being found.
Lord George’s eye travelled along the rows of framed letters from great personages, which lined the walls. He did not see them though, for he was calculating the chances that La Gambogi had not observed him as he entered the mask-shop. He had come down so early that he had thought she would still be abed.
That sinister old proverb, La jalouse se lève de bonne heure, rose in his memory. His eye fell unconsciously on a large, round mask made of dull silver, with the features of a human face traced over its surface in faint filigree. “Your Lordship wonders what mask that is?” chirped Mr. Aeneas, tapping the thing with one of his little finger nails. The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book Download
“What is that mask?” Lord George murmured, absently. “I ought not to divulge, my Lord,” said the mask-maker. “But I know your Lordship would respect a professional secret, a secret of which I am pardonable proud. This,” he said, “is a mask for the sun-god, Apollo, whom heaven bless!”
“Madam,” he said, rising to his full height and stepping between her and his bride, “begone, I command you, from this garden. I do not see what good is to be served by the renewal of our acquaintance.” “Acquaintance!” murmured La Gambogi, with an arch of her beetle-brows. “Surely we were friends, rather, nor is my esteem for you so dead that I would crave estrangement.”
“Madam,” rejoined Lord George, with a tremor in his voice, “you see me happy, living very peacefully with my bride——” “To whom, I beseech you, old friend, present me.” “I would not,” he said hotly, “desecrate her sweet name by speaking it with so infamous a name as yours.” “Your choler hurts me, old friend,” said La Gambogi, sinking composedly upon the gardenseat and smoothing the silk of her skirts. The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book Download
“Jenny,” said George, “then do you retire, pending this lady’s departure, to the cottage.” But Jenny clung to his arm. “I were less frightened at your side,” she whispered. “Do not send me away!” “Suffer her pretty presence,” said La Gambogi. “Indeed I am come this long way from the heart of the town, that I may see her, no less than you, George.
My wish is only to befriend her. Why should she not set you a mannerly example, giving me welcome? Come and sit by me, little bride, for I have things to tell you. Though you reject my friendship, give me, at least, the slight courtesy of audience. I will not detain you overlong, will be gone very soon. Are you expecting guests, George?
On dirait une masque champêtre!” She eyed the couple critically. “Your wife’s mask,” she said, “is even better than yours.” “What does she mean?” whispered Jenny. “Oh, send her away!” “Serpent,” was all George could say, “crawl from our Eden, ere you poison with your venom its fairest denizen.” La Gambogi rose. The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book Free
“Even my pride,” she cried passionately, “knows certain bounds. I have been forbearing, but even in my zeal for friendship I will not be called ‘serpent.’ I will indeed be gone from this rude place. Yet, ere I go, there is a boon I will deign to beg. Show me, oh, show me but once again, the dear face I have so often caressed, the lips that were dear to me!”
George started back. “What does she mean?” whispered Jenny. “In memory of our old friendship,” continued La Gambogi, “grant me this piteous favour. Show me your own face but for one instant, and I vow that I will never again remind you that I live. Intercede for me, little bride. Bid him unmask for me. You have more authority over him than I.
Doff his mask with your own uxorious fingers.” “What does she mean?” was the refrain of poor Jenny. “If,” said George, gazing sternly at his traitress, “you do not go now, of your own will, I must drive you, man though I am, violently from the garden.” “Doff your mask and I am gone.” George made a step of menace towards her. “False saint!” she shrieked, “then I will unmask you.” The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book Free
Like a panther she sprang upon him and clawed at his waxen cheeks. Jenny fell back, mute with terror. Vainly did George try to free himself from his assailant, who writhed round and round him, clawing, clawing at what Jenny fancied to be his face. With a wild cry, Jenny fell upon the furious creature and tried, with all her childish strength, to release her dear one.
The combatives swayed to and fro, a revulsive trinity. There was a loud pop, as though some great cork had been withdrawn, and La Gambogi recoiled. She had torn away the mask. It lay before her upon the lawn, upturned to the sky. George stood motionless. La Gambogi stared up into his face, and her dark flush died swiftly away.
For there, staring back at her, was the man she had unmasked, but lo! his face was even as his mask had been. Line for line, feature for feature, it was the same. ‘Twas a saint’s face. The Happy Hypocrite PDF Book Free