A Rogue's Life HTML version

Chapter 1
I AM going to try if I can't write something about myself. My life has been rather a
strange one. It may not seem particularly useful or respectable; but it has been,
in some respects, adventurous; and that may give it claims to be read, even in
the most prejudiced circles. I am an example of some of the workings of the
social system of this illustrious country on the individual native, during the early
part of the present century; and, if I may say so without unbecoming vanity, I
should like to quote myself for the edification of my countrymen.
Who am I.
I am remarkably well connected, I can tell you. I came into this world with the
great advantage of having Lady Malkinshaw for a grandmother, her ladyship's
daughter for a mother, and Francis James Softly, Esq., M. D. (commonly called
Doctor Softly), for a father. I put my father last, because he was not so well
connected as my mother, and my grandmother first, because she was the most
nobly-born person of the three. I have been, am still, and may continue to be, a
Rogue; but I hope I am not abandoned enough yet to forget the respect that is
due to rank. On this account, I trust, nobody will show such want of regard for my
feelings as to expect me to say much about my mother's brother. That inhuman
person committed an outrage on his family by making a fortune in the soap and
candle trade. I apologize for mentioning him, even in an accidental way. The fact
is, he left my sister, Annabella, a legacy of rather a peculiar kind, saddled with
certain conditions which indirectly affected me; but this passage of family history
need not be produced just yet. I apologize a second time for alluding to money
matters before it was absolutely necessary. Let me get back to a pleasing and
reputable subject, by saying a word or two more about my father.
I am rather afraid that Doctor Softly was not a clever medical man; for in spite of
his great connections, he did not get a very magnificent practice as a physician.
As a general practitioner, he might have bought a comfortable business, with a
house and snug surgery-shop attached; but the son-in-law of Lady Malkinshaw
was obliged to hold up his head, and set up his carriage, and live in a street near
a fashionable square, and keep an expensive and clumsy footman to answer the
door, instead of a cheap and tidy housemaid. How he managed to "maintain his
position" (that is the right phrase, I think), I never could tell. His wife did not bring
him a farthing. When the honorable and gallant baronet, her father, died, he left
the widowed Lady Malkinshaw with her worldly affairs in a curiously involved
state. Her son (of whom I feel truly ashamed to be obliged to speak again so
soon) made an effort to extricate his mother--involved himself in a series of
pecuniary disasters, which commercial people call, I believe, transactions--
struggled for a little while to get out of them in the character of an independent