MR. MAULE, SENIOR.
Too Long; Didn't ReadThe life of Mr. Maurice Maule, of Maule Abbey, the father of Gerard Maule, had certainly not been prosperous. He had from his boyhood enjoyed a reputation for cleverness, and at school had done great things,—winning prizes, spouting speeches on Speech days, playing in elevens, and looking always handsome. He had been one of those show boys of which two or three are generally to be found at our great schools, and all manner of good things had been prophesied on his behalf. He had been in love before he was eighteen, and very nearly succeeded in running away with the young lady before he went to college. His father had died when he was an infant, so that at twenty-one he was thought to be in possession of comfortable wealth. At Oxford he was considered to have got into a good set,—men of fashion who were also given to talking of books,—who spent money, read poetry, and had opinions of their own respecting the Tracts and Mr. Newman. He took his degree, and then started himself in the world upon that career which is of all the most difficult to follow with respect and self-comfort. He proposed to himself the life of an idle man with a moderate income,—a life which should be luxurious, refined, and graceful, but to which should be attached the burden of no necessary occupation. His small estate gave him but little to do, as he would not farm any portion of his own acres. He became a magistrate in his county; but he would not interest himself with the price of a good yoke of bullocks, as did Mr. Justice Shallow,—nor did he ever care how a score of ewes went at any fair. There is no harder life than this. Here and there we may find a man who has so trained himself that day after day he can devote his mind without compulsion to healthy pursuits, who can induce himself to work, though work be not required from him for any ostensible object, who can save himself from the curse of misusing his time, though he has for it no defined and necessary use; but such men are few, and are made of better metal than was Mr. Maule. He became an idler, a man of luxury, and then a spendthrift. He was now hardly beyond middle life, and he assumed for himself the character of a man of taste. He loved music, and pictures, and books, and pretty women. He loved also good eating and drinking; but conceived of himself that in his love for them he was an artist, and not a glutton. He had married early, and his wife had died soon. He had not given himself up with any special zeal to the education of his children, nor to the preservation of his property. The result of his indifference has been told in a previous chapter. His house was deserted, and his children were scattered about the world. His eldest son, having means of his own, was living an idle, desultory life, hardly with prospects of better success than had attended his father.