Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 40

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Chapter LXXX: The Story Is Finished Within the Halls of the Duke of Omnium 

Mr Grey and wife were duly carried away from Matching Priory by post horses, and did their honeymoon, we may be quite sure, with much satisfaction. When Alice was first asked where she would go, she simply suggested that it should not be to Switzerland. They did, in truth, go by slow stages to Italy, to Venice, Florence, and on to Rome; but such had not been their intention when they first started on their journey. At that time Mr Grey believed that he would be wanted again in England, down at Silverbridge in Barsetshire, very shortly. But before he had married a week he learned that all that was to be postponed. The cup of fruition had not yet reached Mr Palliser's lips. "There will be no vacancy either in the county or in the borough till Parliament meets." That had been the message sent by Mr Palliser to Mr Grey. Lady Glencora's message to Alice had been rather more full, having occupied three pages of note paper, the last of which had been crossed, but I do not know that it was more explicit. She had abused Lord Brock, had abused Mr Finespun, and had abused all public things and institutions, because the arrangements as now proposed would be very comfortable to Alice, but would not, as she was pleased to think, be very comfortable to herself. "You can go to Rome and see everything and enjoy yourself, which I was not allowed to do; and all this noise and bother, and crowd of electioneering, will take place down in Barsetshire just when I am in the middle of all my trouble." There were many very long letters came from Lady Glencora to Rome during the winter,—letters which Alice enjoyed thoroughly, but which she could not but regard as being very indiscreet. The Duke was at the Castle during the Christmas week, and the descriptions of the Duke and of his solicitude as to his heir were very comic. "He comes and bends over me on the sofa in the most stupendous way, as though a woman to be the mother of his heir must be a miracle in nature. He is quite awful when he says a word or two, and more awful in his silence. The devil prompted me the other day, and I said I hoped it would be a girl. There was a look came over his face which nearly frightened me. If it should be, I believe he will turn me out of the house; but how can I help it? I wish you were going to have a baby at the same time. Then, if yours was a boy and mine a girl, we'd make a change." This was very indiscreet. Lady Glencora would write indiscreet letters like this, which Alice could not show to her husband. It was a thousand pities.

But December and January wore themselves away, and the time came in which the Greys were bound to return to England. The husband had very fully discussed with his wife that matter of his parliamentary ambition, and found in her a very ready listener. Having made up his mind to do this thing, he was resolved to do it thoroughly, and was becoming almost as full of politics, almost as much devoted to sugar, as Mr Palliser himself. He at any rate could not complain that his wife would not interest herself in his pursuits. Then, as they returned, came letters from Lady Glencora, written as her troubles grew nigh. The Duke had gone, of course; but he was to be there at the appointed time. "Oh, I do so wish he would have a fit of the gout in London,—or at Timbuctoo," said Lady Glencora. When they reached London they first heard the news from Mr Vavasor, who on this occasion condescended to meet them at the railway. "The Duke has got an heir," he said, before the carriage-door was open;—"born this morning!" One might have supposed that it was the Duke's baby, and not the baby of Lady Glencora and Mr Palliser. There was a note from Mr Palliser to Mr Grey. "Thank God!" said the note, "Lady Glencora and the boy"—Mr Palliser had scorned to use the word child—"Lady Glencora and the boy are quite as well as can be expected. Both the new writs were moved for last night." Mr Palliser's honours, as will be seen, came rushing upon him all at once.

Wondrous little baby,—purpureo genitus! What have the gods not done for thee, if thou canst only manage to live till thy good things are all thine own,—to live through all the terrible solicitude with which they will envelope thee! Better than royal rank will be thine, with influence more than royal, and power of action fettered by no royalty. Royal wealth which will be really thine own, to do with it as it beseemeth thee. Thou wilt be at the top of an aristocracy in a country where aristocrats need gird themselves with no buckram. All that the world can give will be thine; and yet when we talk of thee religiously, philosophically, or politico-economically, we are wont to declare that thy chances of happiness are no better,—no better, if they be no worse,—than are those of thine infant neighbour just born, in that farmyard cradle. Who shall say that they are better or that they are worse? Or if they be better, or if they be worse, how shall we reconcile to ourselves that seeming injustice?