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Twilight had given place to night some hours, and it was high noon in those quarters of the town in which 'the world' condescended to dwell--the world being then, as now, of very limited dimensions and easily lodged--when Mr Chester reclined upon a sofa in his dressing-room in the Temple, entertaining himself with a book.
He was dressing, as it seemed, by easy stages, and having performed half the journey was taking a long rest. Completely attired as to his legs and feet in the trimmest fashion of the day, he had yet the remainder of his toilet to perform. The coat was stretched, like a refined scarecrow, on its separate horse; the waistcoat was displayed to the best advantage; the various ornamental articles of dress were severally set out in most alluring order; and yet he lay dangling his legs between the sofa and the ground, as intent upon his book as if there were nothing but bed before him.
'Upon my honour,' he said, at length raising his eyes to the ceiling with the air of a man who was reflecting seriously on what he had read; 'upon my honour, the most masterly composition, the most delicate thoughts, the finest code of morality, and the most gentlemanly sentiments in the universe! Ah Ned, Ned, if you would but form your mind by such precepts, we should have but one common feeling on every subject that could possibly arise between us!'
This apostrophe was addressed, like the rest of his remarks, to empty air: for Edward was not present, and the father was quite alone.
'My Lord Chesterfield,' he said, pressing his hand tenderly upon the book as he laid it down, 'if I could but have profited by your genius soon enough to have formed my son on the model you have left to all wise fathers, both he and I would have been rich men. Shakespeare was undoubtedly very fine in his way; Milton good, though prosy; Lord Bacon deep, and decidedly knowing; but the writer who should be his country's pride, is my Lord Chesterfield.'
He became thoughtful again, and the toothpick was in requisition.
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