The Professor HTML version

Chapter 1
THE other day, in looking over my papers, I found in my desk the following copy
of a letter, sent by me a year since to an old school acquaintance:--
"Dear Charles, --I think when you and I were at Eton together, we were neither of
us what could be called popular characters: you were a sarcastic, observant,
shrewd, cold-blooded creature; my own portrait I will not attempt to draw, but I
cannot recollect that it was a strikingly attractive one--can you? What animal
magnetism drew thee and me together I know not; certainly I never experienced
anything of the Pylades and Orestes sentiment for you, and I have reason to
believe that you, on your part, were equally free from all romantic regard to me.
Still, out of school hours we walked and talked continually together; when the
theme of conversation was our companions or our masters we understood each
other, and when I recurred to some sentiment of affection, some vague love of an
excellent or beautiful object, whether in animate or inanimate nature, your
sardonic coldness did not move me. I felt myself superior to that check then as I
do now.
"It is a long time since I wrote to you, and a still longer time since I saw you.
Chancing to take up a newspaper of your county the other day, my eye fell upon
your name. I began to think of old times; to run over the events which have
transpired since we separated; and I sat down and commenced this letter. What
you have been doing I know not; but you shall hear, if you choose to listen, how
the world has wagged with me.
"First, after leaving Eton, I had an interview with my maternal uncles, Lord
Tynedale and the Hon. John Seacombe. They asked me if I would enter the
Church, and my uncle the nobleman offered me the living of Seacombe, which is
in his gift, if I would; then my other uncle, Mr. Seacombe, hinted that when I
became rector of Seacombe-cum-Scaife, I might perhaps be allowed to take, as
mistress of my house and head of my parish, one of my six cousins, his
daughters, all of whom I greatly dislike.
"I declined both the Church and matrimony. A good clergyman is a good thing,
but I should have made a very bad one. As to the wife--oh how like a night-mare
is the thought of being bound for life to one of my cousins! No doubt they are
accomplished and pretty; but not an accomplishment, not a charm of theirs,
touches a chord in my bosom. To think of passing the winter evenings by the
parlour fire-side of Seacombe Rectory alone with one of them--for instance, the
large and well-modelled statue, Sarah--no; I should be a bad husband, under
such circumstances, as well as a bad clergyman.
"When I had declined my uncles' offers they asked me 'what I intended to do?' I
said I should reflect. They reminded me that I had no fortune, and no expectation
of any, and, after a considerable pause, Lord Tynedale demanded sternly,
'Whether I had thoughts of following my father's steps and engaging in trade?'
Now, I had had no thoughts of the sort. I do not think that my turn of mind
qualifies me to make a good tradesman; my taste, my ambition does not lie in
that way; but such was the scorn expressed in Lord Tynedale's countenance as