Author: Edward Bulwer LyttonPublish On: 2019-04-17
Author: Edward Bulwer Lytton
Publisher: BoD – Books on Demand
In the year 18- I settled as a physician at one of the wealthiest of our great English towns, which I will designate by the initial L-. I was yet young, but I had acquired some reputation by a professional work, which is, I believe, still amongst the received authorities on the subject of which it treats. I had studied at Edinburgh and at Paris, and had borne away from both those illustrious schools of medicine whatever guarantees for future distinction the praise of professors may concede to the ambition of students. On becoming a member of the College of Physicians, I made a tour of the principal cities of Europe, taking letters of introduction to eminent medical men, and gathering from many theories and modes of treatment hints to enlarge the foundations of unprejudiced and comprehensive' practice.
FIFTEEN years ago began H. official duties compelled me to spend a few days in the principal town of the province of T . I stopped at a very fair hotel, which had been established six months before my arrival by a Jewish tailor, who had grown rich. I am told that it did not flourish long, which is often the case with us; but I found it still in its full splendour: the new furniture emitted cracks like pistol-shots at night; the bed-linen, table-cloths, and napkins smelt of soap, and the painted floors reeked of olive oil, which, however, in the opinion of the waiter, an exceedingly elegant but not very clean individual, tended to prevent the spread of insects. This waiter, a former valet of Prince G.'s, was conspicuous for his free-and-easy manners and his self-assurance. He invariably wore a second-hand frockcoat and slippers trodden down at heel, carried a table-napkin under his arm, and had a multitude of pimples on his cheeks. With a free sweeping movement of his moist hands he gave utterance to brief but pregnant observations. He showed a patronising interest in me, as a person capable of appreciating his culture and knowledge of the world; but he regarded his own lot in life with a rather disillusioned eye. "No doubt about it," he said to me one day; "ours is a poor sort of position nowadays. May be sent flying any day!" His name was Ardalion. I had to make a few visits to official persons in the town. Ardalion procured me a coach and groom, both alike shabby and loose in the joints; but the groom wore livery, the carriage was adorned with an heraldic crest. After making all my official calls, I drove to see a country gentleman, an old friend of my father's, who had been a long time settled in the town . I had not met him for twenty years; he had had time to get married, to bring up a good-sized family, to be left a widower and to make his fortune. His business was with government monopolies, that is to say, he lent contractors for monopolies loans at heavy interest . "There is always honour in risk," they say, though indeed the risk was small.