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The Bedford-Row Conspiracy William Makepeace Thackeray

I. Of the loves of Mr. Perkins and Miss Gorgon, and of the two great factions in the town of Oldborough.

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Scully, when at Oldborough, came from that day forth to church. "What," said he, "was it to him? were we not all brethren?" Old Perkins, however, kept religiously to the Squaretoes congregation. In fact, to tell the truth, this subject had been debated between the partners, who saw the advantage of courting both the Establishment and the Dissenters--a manoeuvre which, I need not say, is repeated in almost every country town in England, where a solicitor's house has this kind of power and connection.

Three months after this election came the races at Oldborough, and the race-ball. Gorgon was so infuriated by his defeat, that he gave "the Gorgon cup and cover," a matter of fifteen pounds. Scully, "although anxious," as he wrote from town, "anxious beyond measure to preserve the breed of horses for which our beloved country has ever been famous, could attend no such sports as these, which but too often degenerated into vice." It was voted a shabby excuse. Lady Gorgon was radiant in her barouche and four, and gladly became the patroness of the ball that was to ensue; and which all the gentry and townspeople, Tory and Whig, were in the custom of attending. The ball took place on the last day of the races. On that day, the walls of the market-house, the principal public buildings, and the "Gorgon Arms Hotel" itself, were plastered with the following:--

"Letter from our distinguished representative, William P. Scully, Esquire, etc., etc.

"HOUSE OF COMMONS: June 1, 18--.

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"MY DEAR HEELTAP,--You know my opinion about horseracing, and though I blame neither you nor any brother Englishman who enjoys that manly sport, you will, I am sure, appreciate the conscientious motives which induce me not to appear among my friends and constituents on the festival of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th instant. If _I_, however, cannot allow my name to appear among your list of stewards, ONE at least of the representatives of Oldborough has no such scruples. Sir George Gorgon is among you: and though I differ from that honourable Baronet on more than ONE VITAL POINT, I am glad to think that he is with you. A gentleman, a soldier, a man of property in the county, how can he be better employed than in forwarding the county's amusements, and in forwarding the happiness of all?

"Had I no such scruples as those to which I have just alluded, I must still have refrained from coming among you. Your great Oldborough common-drainage and inclosure bill comes on to-morrow, and I shall be AT MY POST. I am sure, if Sir George Gorgon were here, he and I should on this occasion vote side by side, and that party strife would be forgotten in the object of our common interest--OUR DEAR NATIVE TOWN.

"There is, however, another occasion at hand, in which I shall be proud to meet him. Your ball is on the night of the 6th. Party forgotten--brotherly union--innocent mirth--beauty, OUR DEAR TOWN'S BEAUTY, our daughters in the joy of their expanding loveliness, our matrons in the exquisite contemplation of their children's bliss-- can you, can I, can Whig or Tory, can any Briton be indifferent to a scene like this, or refuse to join in this heart-stirring festival? If there BE such let them pardon me--I, for one, my dear Heeltap, will be among you on Friday night--ay, and hereby invite all pretty Tory Misses, who are in want of a partner.

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The Bedford-Row Conspiracy
William Makepeace Thackeray

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