PHINEAS FINN RETURNS TO HIS DUTIES.
Too Long; Didn't ReadThe election at Tankerville took place during the last week in July; and as Parliament was doomed to sit that year as late as the 10th of August, there was ample time for Phineas to present himself and take the oaths before the Session was finished. He had calculated that this could hardly be so when the matter of re-election was first proposed to him, and had hoped that his reappearance might be deferred till the following year. But there he was, once more member for Tankerville, while yet there was nearly a fortnight's work to be done, pressed by his friends, and told by one or two of those whom he most trusted, that he would neglect his duty and show himself to be a coward, if he abstained from taking his place. "Coward is a hard word," he said to Mr. Low, who had used it.
"So men think when this or that other man is accused of running away in battle or the like. Nobody will charge you with cowardice of that kind. But there is moral cowardice as well as physical."
"As when a man lies. I am telling no lie."
"But you are afraid to meet the eyes of your fellow-creatures."
"Yes, I am. You may call me a coward if you like. What matters the name, if the charge be true? I have been so treated that I am afraid to meet the eyes of my fellow-creatures. I am like a man who has had his knees broken, or his arms cut off. Of course I cannot be the same afterwards as I was before." Mr. Low said a great deal more to him on the subject, and all that Mr. Low said was true; but he was somewhat rough, and did not succeed. Barrington Erle and Lord Cantrip also tried their eloquence upon him; but it was Mr. Monk who at last drew from him a promise that he would go down to the House and be sworn in early on a certain Tuesday afternoon. "I am quite sure of this," Mr. Monk had said, "that the sooner you do it the less will be the annoyance. Indeed there will be no trouble in the doing of it. The trouble is all in the anticipation, and is therefore only increased and prolonged by delay." "Of course it is your duty to go at once," Mr. Monk had said again, when his friend argued that he had never undertaken to sit before the expiration of Parliament. "You did consent to be put in nomination, and you owe your immediate services just as does any other member."