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Title: Henry Esmond; The English Humourists; The Four Georges
Author: Thackeray, William Makepeace, 1811-1863
Language: English
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                               Henry Esmond

                          The English Humourists

                             The Four Georges

                                    By

                       William Makepeace Thackeray

                     Edited, with an Introduction, by

                            George Saintsbury

                          With 15 Illustrations

                             Humphrey Milford

                         Oxford University Press

                 London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Copenhagen,

                 New York, Toronto, Melbourne, Cape Town,

                    Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Shanghai



CONTENTS


Introduction.
The History Of Henry Esmond, Esq.
   Dedication.
   Preface. The Esmonds Of Virginia
   Book I. The Early Youth Of Henry Esmond, Up To The Time Of His Leaving
   Trinity College, In Cambridge
      Chapter I. An Account Of The Family Of Esmond Of Castlewood Hall
      Chapter II. Relates How Francis, Fourth Viscount, Arrives At
      Castlewood
      Chapter III. Whither In The Time Of Thomas, Third Viscount, I Had
      Preceded Him As Page To Isabella
      Chapter IV. I Am Placed Under A Popish Priest And Bred To That
      Religion.—Viscountess Castlewood
      Chapter V. My Superiors Are Engaged In Plots For The Restoration Of
      King James II
      Chapter VI. The Issue Of The Plots.—The Death Of Thomas, Third
      Viscount Of Castlewood; And The Imprisonment Of His Viscountess
      Chapter VII. I Am Left At Castlewood An Orphan, And Find Most Kind
      Protectors There
      Chapter VIII. After Good Fortune Comes Evil
      Chapter IX. I Have The Small-Pox, And Prepare To Leave Castlewood
      Chapter X. I Go To Cambridge, And Do But Little Good There
      Chapter XI. I Come Home For A Holiday To Castlewood, And Find A
      Skeleton In The House
      Chapter XII. My Lord Mohun Comes Among Us For No Good
      Chapter XIII. My Lord Leaves Us And His Evil Behind Him
      Chapter XIV. We Ride After Him To London
   Book II. Contains Mr. Esmond’s Military Life, And Other Matters
   Appertaining To The Esmond Family
      Chapter I. I Am In Prison, And Visited, But Not Consoled There
      Chapter II. I Come To The End Of My Captivity, But Not Of My Trouble
      Chapter III. I Take The Queen’s Pay In Quin’s Regiment
      Chapter IV. Recapitulations
      Chapter V. I Go On The Vigo Bay Expedition, Taste Salt Water And
      Smell Powder
      Chapter VI. The 29th December
      Chapter VII. I Am Made Welcome At Walcote
      Chapter VIII. Family Talk
      Chapter IX. I Make The Campaign Of 1704
      Chapter X. An Old Story About A Fool And A Woman
      Chapter XI. The Famous Mr. Joseph Addison
      Chapter XII. I Get A Company In The Campaign Of 1706
      Chapter XIII. I Meet An Old Acquaintance In Flanders, And Find My
      Mother’s Grave And My Own Cradle There
      Chapter XIV. The Campaign Of 1707, 1708
      Chapter XV. General Webb Wins The Battle Of Wynendael
   Book III. Containing The End Of Mr. Esmond’s Adventures In England
      Chapter I. I Come To An End Of My Battles And Bruises
      Chapter II. I Go Home, And Harp On The Old String
      Chapter III. A Paper Out Of The “Spectator”
      Chapter IV. Beatrix’s New Suitor
      Chapter V. Mohun Appears For The Last Time In This History
      Chapter VI. Poor Beatrix
      Chapter VII. I Visit Castlewood Once More
      Chapter VIII. I Travel To France And Bring Home A Portrait Of Rigaud
      Chapter IX. The Original Of The Portrait Comes To England
      Chapter X. We Entertain A Very Distinguished Guest At Kensington
      Chapter XI. Our Guest Quits Us As Not Being Hospitable Enough
      Chapter XII. A Great Scheme, And Who Balked It
      Chapter XIII. August 1st, 1714
   Appendix
The English Humourists Of The Eighteenth Century
   Lecture The First. Swift
   Lecture The Second. Congreve And Addison
   Lecture The Third. Steele
   Lecture The Fourth. Prior, Gay, And Pope
   Lecture The Fifth. Hogarth, Smollett, And Fielding
   Lecture The Sixth. Sterne And Goldsmith
The Georges
   The Poems
   Sketches Of Manners, Morals, Court And Town Life
      George The First
      George The Second
      George The Third
      George The Fourth
Footnotes



INTRODUCTION.


                              [Illustration]

  Thackeray In His Study At Onslow Square. From a painting by E. M. Ward


We know exceedingly little of the genesis and progress of _Esmond_. “It
did not seem to be a part of our lives as _Pendennis_ was,” says Lady
Ritchie, though she wrote part of it to dictation. She “only heard
_Esmond_ spoken of very rarely”. Perhaps its state was not the less
gracious. The Milton girls found _Paradise Lost_ a very considerable part
of their lives—and were not the happier.

But its parallels are respectable. The greatest things have a way of
coming “all so still” into the world. We wrangle—that is, those of us who
are not content simply not to know—about the composition of Homer, the
purpose of the _Divina Commedia_, the probable plan of the _Canterbury
Tales_, the _Ur-Hamlet_. Nobody put preliminary advertisements in the
papers, you see, about these things: there was a discreditable neglect of
the first requirements of the public. So it is with _Esmond_. There is, I
thought, a reference to it in the Brookfield letters; but in several
searches I cannot find it. To his mother he speaks of the book as “grand
and melancholy”, and to Lady Stanley as of “cut-throat melancholy”. It is
said to have been sold for a thousand pounds—the same sum that Master
Shallow lent Falstaff on probably inferior security. Those who knew
thought well of it—which is not wholly surprising.

It is still, perhaps, in possession of a success rather of esteem than of
affection. A company of young men and maidens to whom it was not long ago
submitted pronounced it (with one or two exceptions) inferior as a work of
humour. The hitting of little Harry in the eye with a potato was, they
admitted, humorous, but hardly anything else. As representing another
generation and another point of view, the faithful Dr. John Brown did not
wholly like it—Esmond’s marriage with Rachel, after his love for Beatrix,
being apparently “the fly in the ointment” to him. Even the author could
only plead “there’s a deal of pains in it that goes for nothing”, as he
says in one of his rare published references to the subject: but he was
wrong. Undoubtedly the mere taking of pains will not do; but that is when
they are taken in not the right manner, by not the right person, on not
the right subject. Here everything was right, and accordingly it “went
for” everything. A greater novel than _Esmond_ I do not know; and I do not
know many greater books. It may be “melancholy”, and none the worse for
that: it is “grand”.

For though there may not be much humour of the potato-throwing sort in
_Esmond_, it will, perhaps, be found that in no book of Thackeray’s, or of
any one else’s, is that deeper and higher humour which takes all life for
its province—which is the humour of humanity—more absolutely pervading.
And it may be found likewise, at least by some, that in no book is there
to be found such a constant intertwist of the passion which, in all
humanity’s higher representatives, goes with humour hand in hand—a loving
yet a mutually critical pair. Of the extraordinarily difficult form of
autobiography I do not know such another masterly presentment; nor is it
very difficult to recognize the means by which this mastery is attained,
though Heaven knows it is not easy to understand the skill with which they
are applied. The success is, in fact, the result of that curious
“doubleness”—amounting, in fact, here to something like _triplicity_—which
distinguishes Thackeray’s attitude and handling. Thus Henry Esmond, who is
on the whole, I should say, the most like him of all his characters
(though of course “romanced” a little), is himself and “the other fellow”,
and also, as it were, human criticism of both. At times we have a
tolerably unsophisticated account of his actions, or it may be even his
thoughts; at another his thoughts and actions as they present themselves,
or might present themselves, to another mind: and yet at other times a
reasoned view of them, as it were that of an impartial historian. The
mixed form of narrative and mono-drama lends itself to this as nothing
else could: and so does the author’s well-known, much discussed, and
sometimes heartily abused habit of _parabasis_ or soliloquy to the
audience. Of this nothing has yet been directly said, and anything that is
said would have to be repeated as to every novel: so that we may as well
keep it for the last or a late example, _The Virginians_ or _Philip_. But
its efficacy in this peculiar kind of double or treble handling is almost
indisputable, even by those who may dispute its legitimacy as a constantly
applied method.

One result, however, it has, as regards the hero-spokesman, which is
curious. I believe thoroughly in Henry Esmond—he is to me one of the most
real of illustrious Henrys as well of Thackeray’s characters—but his
reality is of a rather different kind from that of most of his fellows. It
is somewhat more abstract, more typical, more generalized than the reality
of English heroes usually is. He is not in the least shadowy or allegoric:
but still he is somehow “Esmondity” as well as Esmond—_the_ melancholy
rather than _a_ melancholy, clearsighted, aloofminded man. His heart and
his head act to each other as their governing powers, passion and humour,
have been sketched as acting above. He is a man never likely to be very
successful, famous, or fortunate in the world; not what is generally
called a happy man; yet enjoying constant glows and glimmers of a cloudy
happiness which he would hardly exchange for any other light. The late
Professor Masson—himself no posture-monger or man of megrims, but one of
genial temper and steady sense—described Thackeray as “a man apart”; and
so is the Marquis of Esmond. Yet Thackeray was a very real man; and so is
the Marquis too.

                              [Illustration]

 No. 36 Onslow Square, Brompton, Where Thackeray Lived From 1853 to 1862.


The element of abstraction disappears, or rather retires into the
background, when we pass to Beatrix. She also has the _Ewigweibliche_ in
her—as much of it as any, or almost any, of Shakespeare’s women, and
therefore more than anybody else’s. But she is very much more than a
type—she is Beatrix Esmond in flesh and blood, and damask and diamond,
born “for the destruction of mankind” and fortunately for the delight of
them, or some of them, as well. Beatrix is beyond eulogy. “Cease! cease to
sing her praise!” is really the only motto, though perhaps something more
may be said when we come to the terrible pendant which only Thackeray has
had the courage and the skill to draw, with truth and without a disgusting
result. If she had died when _Esmond_ closes I doubt whether, in the Wood
of Fair Ladies, even Cleopatra would have dared to summon her to her side,
lest the comparison should not be favourable enough to herself, and the
throne have to be shared.

But, as usual with Thackeray, you must not look to the hero and heroine
too exclusively, even when there is such a heroine as this. For is there
not here another heroine—cause of the dubieties of the _Doctor Fidelis_ as
above cited? As to that it may perhaps be pointed out to the extreme
sentimentalists that, after all, Harry had been in love with the mother,
as well as with the daughter, all along. If they consider this an
aggravation, it cannot be helped: but, except from the extreme point of
view of Miss Marianne Dashwood in her earlier stage, it ought rather to be
considered a palliative. And if they say further that the thing is made
worse still by the fact that Harry was himself Rachel’s _second_ love, and
that she did not exactly wait to be a widow before she fell in love with
him—why, there is, again, nothing for it but to confess that it is very
shocking—and excessively human. Indeed, the fact is that Rachel is as
human as Beatrix, though in a different way. You may not only _love_ her
less, but—in a different sense of contrast from that of the Roman
poet—_like_ her a little less. But you cannot, if you have any knowledge
of human nature, call her unnatural. And really I do not know that the
third lady of the family, Isabel Marchioness of Esmond, though there is
less written about her, is not as real and almost as wonderful as the
other two. She is not so fairly treated, however, poor thing! for we have
her Bernstein period without her Beatrix one.

As for my Lords Castlewood—Thomas, and Francis _père et fils_—their
creator has not taken so much trouble with them; but they are never “out”.
The least of a piece, I think, is Rachel’s too fortunate or too
unfortunate husband. The people who regard Ibsen’s great triumph in the
_Doll’s House_ as consisting in the conduct of the husband as to the
incriminating documents, ought to admire Thackeray’s management of the
temporary loss of Rachel’s beauty. They are certainly both touches of the
baser side of human nature ingeniously worked in. But the question is,
What, in this wonderful book, is _not_ ingeniously worked in—character or
incident, description or speech?

If the champions of “Unity” were wise, they would take _Esmond_ as a
battle-horse, for it is certain that, great as are its parts, the whole is
greater than almost any one of them—which is certainly not the case with
_Pendennis_. And it is further certain that, of these parts, the
personages of the hero and the heroine stand out commandingly, which is
certainly not the case with _Pendennis_, again. The unity, however, is of
a peculiar kind: and differs from the ordinary non-classical “Unity of
Interest” which Thackeray almost invariably exhibits. It is rather a Unity
of _Temper_, which is also present (as the all-pervading motto _Vanitas
Vanitatum_ almost necessitates) in all the books, but here reaches a
transcendence not elsewhere attained. The brooding spirit of
_Ecclesiastes_ here covers, as it were, with the shadow of one of its
wings the joys and sorrows, the failures and successes of a private family
and their friends, with the other the fates of England and Europe; the
fortunes of Marlborough and of Swift on their way from dictatorship, in
each case, to dotage and death; the big wars and the notable literary
triumphs as well as the hopeless passions or acquiescent losses. It is
thus an instance—and the greatest—of that revival of the historical novel
which was taking place, and in which the novel of Scott(1)—simpler, though
not so very simple as is sometimes thought—is being dashed with a far
heavier dose of the novel-element as opposed to the romance, yet without
abandonment of the romance-quality proper. Of these novel-romance scenes,
as they may be called, the famous mock-duel at the end is of course the
greatest. But that where the Duke of Hamilton has to acknowledge the
Marquis of Esmond, and where Beatrix gives the kiss of Beatrix, is almost
as great: and there are many others. It is possible that this very
transcendence accounts to some extent for the somewhat lukewarm admiration
which it has received. The usual devotee of the novel of analysis dislikes
the historic, and has taught himself to consider it childish; the common
lover of romance (not the better kind) feels himself hampered by the
character-study, as Émile de Girardin’s subscribers felt themselves
hampered by Gautier’s style. All the happier those who can make the best
of both dispensations!

Nothing, however, has yet been said of one of the most salient
characteristics of _Esmond_—one, perhaps, which has had as much to do with
the love of its lovers and the qualified esteem of those who do not quite
love it, as anything else. This is, of course, the attempt, certainly a
very audacious one, at once to give the very form and pressure of the time
of the story—sometimes in actual diction—and yet to suffuse it with a
modern thought and colour which most certainly were _not_ of the time. The
boldness and the peril of this attempt are both quite indisputable; and
the peril itself is, in a way, double. There is the malcontent who will
say “This may be all very fine: but I don’t like it. It bothers and teases
me. I do not want to be talked to in the language of Addison and Steele”.
And there will be the possibly less ingenuous but more obtrusive
malcontent who will say that it ought never to have been done, or that it
is not, as it is, done well. With the first, who probably exists “in
squadrons and gross bands”, argument is, of course, impossible. He may be
taught better if he is caught young, but that is all: and certainly the
last thing that any honest lover of literature would wish would be to make
him say that he likes a thing when he does not. That may be left to those
who preach and follow the fashions of the moment. Nor, perhaps, is there
very much to do with those who say that the double attempt is not
successful—except to disable their judgement. But as for the doctrine that
this attempt _deserves_ to fail, and must fail—that it is wrong in
itself—there one may take up the cudgels with some confidence.

So far from there being anything illegitimate in this attempt to bring one
period before the eyes of another in its habit as it lived, and speaking
as it spoke, but to allow those eyes themselves to move as they move and
see as they see—it is merely the triumph and the justification of the
whole method of prose fiction in general, and of the historical novel in
particular. For that historical novel is itself the result of the growth
of the historic sense acting upon the demand for fiction. So long as
people made no attempt to understand things and thoughts different from
those around and within them; so long as, like the men of the Middle Ages,
they blandly threw everything into their own image, or, like those of the
Renaissance to some extent and the Augustan period still more, regarded
other ages at worst with contempt, and at best with indulgence as
childish—the historical novel could not come into being, and did not. It
only became possible when history began to be seriously studied as
something more than a chronicle of external events. When it had thus been
made possible, it was a perfectly legitimate experiment to carry the
process still further; not merely to discuss or moralize, but to represent
the period as it was, without forfeiting the privilege of regarding it
from a point of view which it had not itself reached. The process of
Thackeray is really only an unfolding, and carrying further into
application, of the method of Shakespeare. Partly his date, partly his
genius, partly his dramatic necessities, obliged Shakespeare to combine
his treatment—to make his godlike Romans at once Roman and Elizabethan,
and men of all time, and men of no time at all. Thackeray, with the
conveniences of the novel and the demands of his audience, _dichotomizes_
the presentation while observing a certain unity in the fictitious person,
now of Henry Esmond, now of William Makepeace Thackeray himself. If
anybody does not like the result, there is nothing to be said. But there
are those who regard it as one of the furthest explorations that we yet
possess of human genius—one of the most extraordinary achievements of that
higher imagination which Coleridge liked to call _esenoplastic_.(2) That a
man should have the faculty of reproducing contemporary or general life is
wonderful; that he should have the faculty of reproducing past life is
wonderful still more. But that he should thus revive the past and preserve
the present—command and provide at once theatre and company, audience and
performance—this is the highest wizardry of all. And this, as it seems to
me, is what Thackeray had attempted, and more, what he has done, in the
_History of Henry Esmond_.(3)

He could not have done it without the “pains” to which he refers in the
saying quoted above; but these pains, as usual, bore fruit more than once.
It has been thought desirable to include in the present volume the two
main after-crops,(4) _The English Humourists_ and _The Four Georges_.
Exactly _how_ early Thackeray’s attention was drawn to the eighteenth
century it would, in the necessarily incomplete state of our biographical
information about him, be very difficult to say. We have pointed out that
the connexion was pretty well established as early as _Catherine_. But it
was evidently founded upon that peculiar congeniality, freshened and
enlivened with a proper dose of difference, which is the most certain
source and the purest maintainer of love in life and literature.

At the same time, the two sets of lectures are differentiated from the
novel not so much by their form—for Thackeray as a lecturer had very
little that smacked of the platform, and as a novelist he had a great deal
that smacked of the satiric conversation-scene—as by their purport.
_Esmond_, though partly critical, is mainly and in far the greater part
creative. The Lectures, though partly creative—_resurrective_, at any
rate—are professedly and substantially critical. Now, a good deal has been
said already of Thackeray’s qualities and defects as a critic: and it has
been pointed out that, in consequence of his peculiar impulsiveness, his
strong likes and dislikes, his satiric-romantic temperament, and perhaps
certain deficiencies in all-round literary and historical learning, his
critical light was apt to be rather uncertain, and his critical deductions
by no means things from which there should be no appeal. But _The English
Humourists_ is by far the most important “place” for this criticism in the
literary department; and _The Four Georges_ (with _The Book of Snobs_ to
some extent supplementing it) is the chief place for his criticism of
society, personality, and the like. Moreover, both have been, and are,
violently attacked by those who do not like him. So that, for more reasons
than one or two, both works deserve faithful critical handling themselves.

It is always best to disperse Maleger and his myrmidons before exploring
the beauties of the House of Alma: so we may take the objections to the
_Humourists_ first. They are chiefly concerned with the handling of Swift
and (in a less degree) of Sterne. Now, it is quite certain that we have
here, in the first case at any rate, to confess, though by no means to
avoid. It is an instance of that excessive “taking sides” with or against
his characters which has been noticed, and will be noticed, again and
again. Nor is the reason of this in the least difficult to perceive. It is
very doubtful whether Thackeray’s own estimate of average humanity was
much higher than Swift’s: nor is it quite certain that the affection which
Swift professed and (from more than one instance) seems to have really
felt for Dick, Tom, and Harry, in particular, as opposed to mankind at
large, was very much less sincere than Thackeray’s own for individuals.
But the temperament of the one deepened and aggravated his general
understanding of mankind into a furious misanthropy; while the temperament
of the other softened _his_ into a general pardon. In the same way,
Swift’s very love and friendship were dangerous and harsh-faced, while
Thackeray’s were sunny and caressing. But there can be very little doubt
that Thackeray himself, when the “Shadow of Vanity” was heaviest on him,
felt the danger of actual misanthropy, and thus revolted from its victim
with a kind of terror; while his nature could not help feeling a similar
revulsion from Swift’s harsh ways. That to all this revulsion he gives
undue force of expression need not be denied: but then, it must be
remembered that he does not allow it to affect his _literary_ judgement. I
do not believe that any one now living has a greater admiration for Swift
than I have: and all that I can say is that I know no estimate of his
genius anywhere more adequate than Thackeray’s. As for Sterne, I do not
intend to say much. If you will thrust your personality into your
literature, as Sterne constantly does, you must take the chances of your
personality as well as of your literature. You practically expose both to
the judgement of the public. And if anybody chooses to take up the cudgels
for Sterne’s personality I shall hand them over to him and take no part on
one side or another in that bout. To his _genius_, once more, I do not
think Thackeray at all unjust.

The fact is, however, that as is usual with persons of genius, but even
more than as usual, the defects and the qualities are so intimately
connected that you cannot have one without the other—you must pay the
price of the other for the one. All I can say is that such another _live_
piece of English criticism of English literature as this I do not know
anywhere. What is alive is very seldom perfect: to get perfection you must
go to epitaphs. But, once more, though I could pick plenty of small holes
in the details of the actual critical dicta, I know no picture of the
division of literature here concerned from which a fairly intelligent
person will derive a better impression of the facts than from this.
Addison may be a little depressed, and Steele a little exalted: but it is
necessary to remember that by Macaulay, whose estimate then practically
held the field, Steele had been most unduly depressed and Addison rather
unduly exalted. You may go about among our critics on the brightest day
with the largest lantern and find nothing more brilliant itself than the
“Congreve” article, where the spice of injustice will, again, deceive
nobody but a fool. The vividness of the “Addison and Steele” presentation
is miraculous. He redresses Johnson on Prior as he had redressed Macaulay
on Steele; and he is not unjust, as we might have feared that he would be,
to Pope. “Hogarth, Smollett, and Fielding” is another miracle of
appreciation: and I should like to ask the objectors to “sentimentality”
by what other means than an intense _sympathy_ (from which it is
impossible to exclude something that may be called sentimental) such a
study as that of Goldsmith could have been produced? Now Goldsmith is one
of the most difficult persons in the whole range of literature to treat,
from the motley of his merits and his weaknesses. Yet Thackeray has
achieved the adventure here. In short, throughout the book, he is
invaluable as a critic, if not impeccable in criticism. His faults, and
the causes of them, are obvious, separable, negligible: his merits (the
chief of them, as usual, the constant shower of happy and illuminative
phrase) as rare in quality as they are abundant in quantity.

The lectures on _The English Humourists_ must have been composed very much
_pari passu_ with _Esmond_; they were being delivered while it was being
finished, and it was published just as the author was setting off to
re-deliver them in America. _The Four Georges_ were not regularly taken in
hand till some years later, when _The Newcomes_ was finished or finishing,
and when fresh material was wanted for the second American trip. But there
exists a very remarkable _scenario_ of them—as it may be almost called—a
full decade older, in the shape of a _satura_ of verse and prose
contributed to _Punch_ on October 11, 1845; which has accordingly been
kept back from its original associates to be inserted here. All things
considered, it gives the lines which are followed in the later lectures
with remarkable precision: and it is not at all improbable that Thackeray
actually, though not of necessity consciously, took it for head-notes.

No book of his has been so violently attacked both at the time of its
appearance and since. Nor—for, as the reader must have seen long ago, the
present writer, though proud to be called a Thackerayan stalwart, is not a
Thackerayan “know-nothing”, a “Thackeray-right-or-wrong” man—is there any
that exposes itself more to attack. From the strictly literary side,
indeed, it has the advantage of _The Book of Snobs_: for it is nowhere
unequal, and exhibits its author’s unmatched power of historical-artistic
imagination or reconstruction in almost the highest degree possible. But
in other respects it certainly does show the omission “to erect a sconce
on Drumsnab”. There was (it has already been hinted at in connexion with
the Eastern Journey) a curious innocence about Thackeray. It may be that,
like the Hind,


    He feared no danger for he knew no sin;


but the absence of fear with him implied an apparent ignoring of danger,
which is a danger in itself. Nobody who has even passed Responsions in the
study of his literary and moral character will suspect him for one moment
of having pandered to American prejudice by prating to it, as a tit-bit
and _primeur_, scandal about this or that King George. But it was quite
evident from the first, and ought to have been evident to the author long
beforehand, that the enemy _might_ think, and _would_ say so. In fact,
putting considerations of mere expediency aside, I think myself that he
had much better not have done it. As for the justice of the general
verdict, it is no doubt affected throughout by Thackeray’s political
incapacity, whatever side he might have taken, and by that quaint
theoretical republicanism, with a good deal of pure Toryism mixed, which
he attributes to some of his characters, and no doubt, in a kind of rather
confused speculative way, held himself. He certainly puts George III’s
ability too low, and as certainly he indulges in the case of George IV in
one of these curious outbursts—a _Hetze_ of unreasoning, frantic,
“stop-thief!” and “mad-dog!” persecution—to which he was liable. “Gorgius”
may not have been a hero or a proper moral man: he was certainly “a most
expensive _Herr_”, and by no means a pattern husband. But recent and by no
means Pharisaical expositions have exhibited his wife as almost infinitely
_not_ better than she should be; the allegations of treachery to private
friends are, on the whole, Not Proven: if he deserted the Whigs, it was no
more than some of these very Whigs very shortly afterwards did to their
country: he played the difficult part of Regent and the not very easy one
of King by no means ill; he was, by common and even reluctant consent, an
extremely pleasant host and companion; and he liked Jane Austen’s novels.
There have been a good many princes—and a good many demagogues too—of whom
as much good could not be said.

Admitting excess in these details, and “inconvenience” in the
circumstances of the original representation, there remains, as it seems
to me, a more than sufficient balance to credit. That social-historic
sense, accompanied with literary power of bodying forth its results, which
we noticed as early as the opening of _Catherine_ has, in the seventeen
years’ interval, fully and marvellously matured itself. The picture is not
a mere mob of details: it is an orderly pageant of artistically composed
material. It is possible; it is life-like; the only question (and that is
rather a minor one) is, “Is it true?”

Minor, I say, because the artistic value would remain if the historical
were impaired. But I do not think it is. I shall bow to the authority of
persons better acquainted with the eighteenth century than I am: but if
some decades of familiarity with essayists and novelists and diarists and
letter-writers may give one a scanty _locus standi_, I shall certainly
give my testimony in favour of “Thackeray’s Extract”. The true essence of
the life that exhibits itself in fiction from _Pamela_ and _Joseph
Andrews_ down to _Pompey the Little_ and the _Spiritual Quixote_; in essay
from the _Tatler_ to the _Mirror_; in Lord Chesterfield and Lady Mary and
Horace Walpole; in Pope and Young and Green and Churchill and Cowper, in
Boswell and Wraxall, in Mrs. Delany and Madame d’Arblay, seems to me to
deserve warrant of excise and guarantee of analysis as it lies in these
four little flaskets.

And, as has been done before, let me finish with an almost silent
indication of the wonderful variety of this volume also. In one sense the
subject of its constituents is the same. Yet in another it is treated with
the widest and most infinite difference. Any one of the three treatments
would be a masterpiece of single achievement; while the first of the three
is, as it seems to me, _the_ masterpiece of its entire class.(5)

THE MS. OF “ESMOND”

The MS. is contained in two volumes and was presented to Trinity College,
Cambridge, by the author’s daughter; it is now deposited in the College
Library. Sir Leslie Stephen, in writing to the Librarian about it on June
11, 1889, says:—

“There are three separate handwritings. Thackeray’s own small upright
handwriting; that of his daughter, now Mrs. Richmond Ritchie, a rather
large round handwriting; and that of an amanuensis whose name I do not
know. The interest is mainly this, that it shows that Thackeray dictated a
considerable part of the book; and, as Mrs. Ritchie tells me, he dictated
it without having previously written anything. The copy was sent straight
to press as it stands, with, as you will see, remarkably little
alteration. As _Esmond_ is generally considered to be his most perfect
work in point of style, I think that this is a remarkable fact and adds
considerably to the interest of the MS.”

The four facsimiles which follow, and which appear here by the very kind
permission of Lady Ritchie and of the authorities of the College, have
been slightly reduced to fit the pages.

                       [Illustration: Facsimile 1]

                       [Illustration: Facsimile 2]

                       [Illustration: Facsimile 3]

                       [Illustration: Facsimile 4]



THE HISTORY OF HENRY ESMOND, ESQ.


                              THE HISTORY OF

                            HENRY ESMOND, ESQ.

            A COLONEL IN THE SERVICE OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN ANNE

                            WRITTEN BY HIMSELF

                            Servetur ad imum
              Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet

      [First edition in three volumes, 1852. Revised edition, 1858]



Dedication.


TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

WILLIAM BINGHAM, LORD ASHBURTON

MY DEAR LORD,

The writer of a book which copies the manners and language of Queen Anne’s
time, must not omit the Dedication to the Patron; and I ask leave to
inscribe this volume to your lordship, for the sake of the great kindness
and friendship which I owe to you and yours.

My volume will reach you when the Author is on his voyage to a country
where your name is as well known as here. Wherever I am, I shall
gratefully regard you; and shall not be the less welcomed in America
because I am

Your obliged friend and servant,

W. M. THACKERAY.

LONDON, October 18, 1852.



Preface. The Esmonds Of Virginia


The estate of Castlewood, in Virginia, which was given to our ancestors by
King Charles the First, as some return for the sacrifices made in his
Majesty’s cause by the Esmond family, lies in Westmoreland county, between
the rivers Potomac and Rappahannoc, and was once as great as an English
Principality, though in the early times its revenues were but small.
Indeed, for near eighty years after our forefathers possessed them, our
plantations were in the hands of factors, who enriched themselves one
after another, though a few scores of hogsheads of tobacco were all the
produce that, for long after the Restoration, our family received from
their Virginian estates.

My dear and honoured father, Colonel Henry Esmond, whose history, written
by himself, is contained in the accompanying volume, came to Virginia in
the year 1718, built his house of Castlewood, and here permanently
settled. After a long stormy life in England, he passed the remainder of
his many years in peace and honour in this country; how beloved and
respected by all his fellow citizens, how inexpressibly dear to his
family, I need not say. His whole life was a benefit to all who were
connected with him. He gave the best example, the best advice, the most
bounteous hospitality to his friends; the tenderest care to his
dependants; and bestowed on those of his immediate family such a blessing
of fatherly love and protection, as can never be thought of, by us at
least, without veneration and thankfulness; and my son’s children, whether
established here in our Republick, or at home in the always beloved mother
country, from which our late quarrel hath separated us, may surely be
proud to be descended from one who in all ways was so truly noble.

My dear mother died in 1736, soon after our return from England, whither
my parents took me for my education; and where I made the acquaintance of
Mr. Warrington, whom my children never saw. When it pleased Heaven, in the
bloom of his youth, and after but a few months of a most happy union, to
remove him from me, I owed my recovery from the grief which that calamity
caused me, mainly to my dearest father’s tenderness, and then to the
blessing vouchsafed to me in the birth of my two beloved boys. I know the
fatal differences which separated them in politics never disunited their
hearts; and as I can love them both, whether wearing the king’s colours or
the Republick’s, I am sure that they love me, and one another, and him
above all, my father and theirs, the dearest friend of their childhood,
the noble gentleman who bred them from their infancy in the practice and
knowledge of Truth, and Love, and Honour.

My children will never forget the appearance and figure of their revered
grandfather; and I wish I possessed the art of drawing (which my papa had
in perfection), so that I could leave to our descendants a portrait of one
who was so good and so respected. My father was of a dark complexion, with
a very great forehead and dark hazel eyes, overhung by eyebrows which
remained black long after his hair was white. His nose was aquiline, his
smile extraordinary sweet. How well I remember it, and how little any
description I can write can recall his image! He was of rather low
stature, not being above five feet seven inches in height; he used to
laugh at my sons, whom he called his crutches, and say they were grown too
tall for him to lean upon. But small as he was he had a perfect grace and
majesty of deportment, such as I have never seen in this country, except
perhaps in our friend Mr. Washington, and commanded respect wherever he
appeared.

In all bodily exercises he excelled, and showed an extraordinary quickness
and agility. Of fencing he was especially fond, and made my two boys
proficient in that art; so much so, that when the French came to this
country with Monsieur Rochambeau, not one of his officers was superior to
my Henry, and he was not the equal of my poor George, who had taken the
king’s side in our lamentable but glorious War of Independence.

Neither my father nor my mother ever wore powder in their hair; both their
heads were as white as silver, as I can remember them. My dear mother
possessed to the last an extraordinary brightness and freshness of
complexion; nor would people believe that she did not wear rouge. At sixty
years of age she still looked young, and was quite agile. It was not until
after that dreadful siege of our house by the Indians, which left me a
widow ere I was a mother, that my dear mother’s health broke. She never
recovered her terror and anxiety of those days, which ended so fatally for
me, then a bride scarce six months married, and died in my father’s arms
ere my own year of widowhood was over.

From that day, until the last of his dear and honoured life, it was my
delight and consolation to remain with him as his comforter and companion;
and from those little notes which my mother hath made here and there in
the volume in which my father describes his adventures in Europe, I can
well understand the extreme devotion with which she regarded him—a
devotion so passionate and exclusive as to prevent her, I think, from
loving any other person except with an inferior regard; her whole thoughts
being centred on this one object of affection and worship. I know that,
before her, my dear father did not show the love which he had for his
daughter; and in her last and most sacred moments, this dear and tender
parent owned to me her repentance that she had not loved me enough: her
jealousy even that my father should give his affection to any but herself;
and in the most fond and beautiful words of affection and admonition, she
bade me never to leave him, and to supply the place which she was
quitting. With a clear conscience, and a heart inexpressibly thankful, I
think I can say that I fulfilled those dying commands, and that until his
last hour my dearest father never had to complain that his daughter’s love
and fidelity failed him.

And it is since I knew him entirely, for during my mother’s life he never
quite opened himself to me—since I knew the value and splendour of that
affection which he bestowed upon me, that I have come to understand and
pardon what, I own, used to anger me in my mother’s lifetime, her jealousy
respecting her husband’s love. ’Twas a gift so precious, that no wonder
she who had it was for keeping it all, and could part with none of it,
even to her daughter.

Though I never heard my father use a rough word, ’twas extraordinary with
how much awe his people regarded him; and the servants on our plantation,
both those assigned from England and the purchased negroes, obeyed him
with an eagerness such as the most severe taskmasters round about us could
never get from their people. He was never familiar, though perfectly
simple and natural; he was the same with the meanest man as with the
greatest, and as courteous to a black slave-girl as to the governor’s
wife. No one ever thought of taking a liberty with him (except once a
tipsy gentleman from York, and I am bound to own that my papa never
forgave him): he set the humblest people at once on their ease with him,
and brought down the most arrogant by a grave satiric way, which made
persons exceedingly afraid of him. His courtesy was not put on like a
Sunday suit, and laid by when the company went away; it was always the
same; as he was always dressed the same whether for a dinner by ourselves
or for a great entertainment. They say he liked to be the first in his
company; but what company was there in which he would not be first? When I
went to Europe for my education, and we passed a winter at London with my
half-brother, my Lord Castlewood and his second lady, I saw at her
Majesty’s Court some of the most famous gentlemen of those days; and I
thought to myself, “None of these are better than my papa”; and the famous
Lord Bolingbroke, who came to us from Dawley, said as much, and that the
men of that time were not like those of his youth:—“Were your father,
madam,” he said, “to go into the woods, the Indians would elect him
Sachem;” and his lordship was pleased to call me Pocahontas.

I did not see our other relative, Bishop Tusher’s lady, of whom so much is
said in my papa’s memoirs—although my mamma went to visit her in the
country. I have no pride (as I showed by complying with my mother’s
request, and marrying a gentleman who was but the younger son of a Suffolk
baronet), yet I own to a _decent respect_ for my name, and wonder how one,
who ever bore it, should change it for that of Mrs. _Thomas Tusher_. I
pass over as odious and unworthy of credit those reports (which I heard in
Europe, and was then too young to understand), how this person, having
_left her family_ and fled to Paris, out of jealousy of the Pretender,
betrayed his secrets to my Lord Stair, King George’s ambassador, and
nearly caused the prince’s death there; how she came to England and
married this Mr. Tusher, and became a great favourite of King George the
Second, by whom Mr. Tusher was made a dean, and then a bishop. I did not
see the lady, who chose to remain _at her palace_ all the time we were in
London; but after visiting her, my poor mamma said she had lost all her
good looks, and warned me not to set too much store by any such gifts
which nature had bestowed upon me. She grew exceedingly stout; and I
remember my brother’s wife, Lady Castlewood, saying—“No wonder she became
a favourite, for the king likes them old and ugly, as his father did
before him.” On which papa said—“All women were alike; that there was
never one so beautiful as that one; and that we could forgive her
everything but her beauty.” And hereupon my mamma looked vexed, and my
Lord Castlewood began to laugh; and I, of course, being a young creature,
could not understand what was the subject of their conversation.

After the circumstances narrated in the third book of these memoirs, my
father and mother both went abroad, being advised by their friends to
leave the country in consequence of the transactions which are recounted
at the close of the volume of the memoirs. But my brother, hearing how the
_future bishop’s lady_ had quitted Castlewood and joined the Pretender at
Paris, pursued him, and would have killed him, prince as he was, had not
the prince managed to make his escape. On his expedition to Scotland
directly after, Castlewood was so enraged against him that he asked leave
to serve as a volunteer, and join the Duke of Argyle’s army in Scotland,
which the Pretender never had the courage to face; and thenceforth my lord
was quite reconciled to the present reigning family, from whom he hath
even received promotion.

Mrs. Tusher was by this time as angry against the Pretender as any of her
relations could be, and used to boast, as I have heard, that she not only
brought back my lord to the Church of England, but procured the English
peerage for him, which the _junior branch_ of our family at present
enjoys. She was a great friend of Sir Robert Walpole, and would not rest
until her husband slept at Lambeth, my papa used laughing to say. However,
the bishop died of apoplexy suddenly, and his wife erected a great
monument over him; and the pair sleep under that stone, with a canopy of
marble clouds and angels above them—the first Mrs. Tusher lying sixty
miles off at Castlewood.

But my papa’s genius and education are both greater than any a woman can
be expected to have, and his adventures in Europe far more exciting than
his life in this country, which was past in the tranquil offices of love
and duty; and I shall say no more by way of introduction to his memoirs,
nor keep my children from the perusal of a story which is much more
interesting than that of their affectionate old mother,

Rachel Esmond Warrington.

CASTLEWOOD, VIRGINIA,
November 3, 1778.



Book I. The Early Youth Of Henry Esmond, Up To The Time Of His Leaving
Trinity College, In Cambridge


The actors in the old tragedies, as we read, piped their iambics to a
tune, speaking from under a mask, and wearing stilts and a great
head-dress. ’Twas thought the dignity of the Tragic Muse required these
appurtenances, and that she was not to move except to a measure and
cadence. So Queen Medea slew her children to a slow music: and King
Agamemnon perished in a dying fall (to use Mr. Dryden’s words): the Chorus
standing by in a set attitude, and rhythmically and decorously bewailing
the fates of those great crowned persons. The Muse of History hath
encumbered herself with ceremony as well as her Sister of the Theatre. She
too wears the mask and the cothurnus, and speaks to measure. She too, in
our age, busies herself with the affairs only of kings; waiting on them
obsequiously and stately, as if she were but a mistress of Court
ceremonies, and had nothing to do with the registering of the affairs of
the common people. I have seen in his very old age and decrepitude the old
French King Lewis the Fourteenth, the type and model of kinghood—who never
moved but to measure, who lived and died according to the laws of his
Court-marshal, persisting in enacting through life the part of Hero; and,
divested of poetry, this was but a little wrinkled old man, pock-marked,
and with a great periwig and red heels to make him look tall—a hero for a
book if you like, or for a brass statue or a painted ceiling, a god in a
Roman shape, but what more than a man for Madame Maintenon, or the barber
who shaved him, or Monsieur Fagon, his surgeon? I wonder shall History
ever pull off her periwig and cease to be court-ridden? Shall we see
something of France and England besides Versailles and Windsor? I saw
Queen Anne at the latter place tearing down the Park slopes after her
staghounds, and driving her one-horse chaise—a hot, red-faced woman, not
in the least resembling that statue of her which turns its stone back upon
St. Paul’s, and faces the coaches struggling up Ludgate Hill. She was
neither better bred nor wiser than you and me, though we knelt to hand her
a letter or a washhand-basin. Why shall History go on kneeling to the end
of time? I am for having her rise up off her knees, and take a natural
posture: not to be for ever performing cringes and congees like a
Court-chamberlain, and shuffling backwards out of doors in the presence of
the sovereign. In a word, I would have History familiar rather than
heroic: and think that Mr. Hogarth and Mr. Fielding will give our children
a much better idea of the manners of the present age in England, than the
_Court Gazette_ and the newspapers which we get thence.

There was a German officer of Webb’s, with whom we used to joke, and of
whom a story (whereof I myself was the author) was got to be believed in
the army, that he was eldest son of the Hereditary Grand Bootjack of the
Empire, and heir to that honour of which his ancestors had been very
proud, having been kicked for twenty generations by one imperial foot, as
they drew the boot from the other. I have heard that the old Lord
Castlewood, of part of whose family these present volumes are a chronicle,
though he came of quite as good blood as the Stuarts whom he served (and
who as regards mere lineage are no better than a dozen English and
Scottish houses I could name), was prouder of his post about the Court
than of his ancestral honours and valued his dignity (as Lord of the
Butteries and Groom of the King’s Posset) so highly, that he cheerfully
ruined himself for the thankless and thriftless race who bestowed it. He
pawned his plate for King Charles the First, mortgaged his property for
the same cause, and lost the greater part of it by fines and
sequestration: stood a siege of his castle by Ireton, where his brother
Thomas capitulated (afterwards making terms with the Commonwealth, for
which the elder brother never forgave him), and where his second brother
Edward, who had embraced the ecclesiastical profession, was slain on
Castlewood tower, being engaged there both as preacher and artilleryman.
This resolute old loyalist, who was with the king whilst his house was
thus being battered down, escaped abroad with his only son, then a boy, to
return and take a part in Worcester fight. On that fatal field Eustace
Esmond was killed, and Castlewood fled from it once more into exile, and
henceforward, and after the Restoration, never was away from the Court of
the monarch (for whose return we offer thanks in the Prayer-book) who sold
his country and who took bribes of the French king.

What spectacle is more august than that of a great king in exile? Who is
more worthy of respect than a brave man in misfortune? Mr. Addison has
painted such a figure in his noble piece of _Cato_. But suppose fugitive
Cato fuddling himself at a tavern with a wench on each knee, a dozen
faithful and tipsy companions of defeat, and a landlord calling out for
his bill; and the dignity of misfortune is straightway lost. The
Historical Muse turns away shamefaced from the vulgar scene, and closes
the door—on which the exile’s unpaid drink is scored up—upon him and his
pots and his pipes, and the tavern-chorus which he and his friends are
singing. Such a man as Charles should have had an Ostade or Mieris to
paint him. Your Knellers and Le Bruns only deal in clumsy and impossible
allegories: and it hath always seemed to me blasphemy to claim Olympus for
such a wine-drabbled divinity as that.

About the king’s follower the Viscount Castlewood—orphan of his son,
ruined by his fidelity, bearing many wounds and marks of bravery, old and
in exile, his kinsmen I suppose should be silent; nor if this patriarch
fell down in his cups, call fie upon him, and fetch passers-by to laugh at
his red face and white hairs. What! does a stream rush out of a mountain
free and pure, to roll through fair pastures, to feed and throw out bright
tributaries, and to end in a village gutter? Lives that have noble
commencements have often no better endings; it is not without a kind of
awe and reverence that an observer should speculate upon such careers as
he traces the course of them. I have seen too much of success in life to
take off my hat and huzza to it as it passes in its gilt coach: and would
do my little part with my neighbours on foot, that they should not gape
with too much wonder, nor applaud too loudly. Is it the Lord Mayor going
in state to mince-pies and the Mansion House? Is it poor Jack of Newgate’s
procession, with the sheriff and javelin-men, conducting him on his last
journey to Tyburn? I look into my heart and think that I am as good as my
Lord Mayor, and know I am as bad as Tyburn Jack. Give me a chain and red
gown and a pudding before me, and I could play the part of alderman very
well, and sentence Jack after dinner. Starve me, keep me from books and
honest people, educate me to love dice, gin, and pleasure, and put me on
Hounslow Heath, with a purse before me and I will take it. “And I shall be
deservedly hanged,” say you, wishing to put an end to this prosing. I
don’t say no. I can’t but accept the world as I find it, including a
rope’s end, as long as it is in fashion.



Chapter I. An Account Of The Family Of Esmond Of Castlewood Hall


When Francis, fourth Viscount Castlewood, came to his title, and presently
after to take possession of his house of Castlewood, county Hants, in the
year 1691, almost the only tenant of the place besides the domestics was a
lad of twelve years of age, of whom no one seemed to take any note until
my lady viscountess lighted upon him, going over the house, with the
housekeeper on the day of her arrival. The boy was in the room known as
the book-room, or yellow gallery, where the portraits of the family used
to hang, that fine piece among others of Sir Antonio Van Dyck of George,
second viscount, and that by Mr. Dobson of my lord the third viscount,
just deceased, which it seems his lady and widow did not think fit to
carry away, when she sent for and carried off to her house at Chelsey,
near to London, the picture of herself by Sir Peter Lely, in which her
ladyship was represented as a huntress of Diana’s court.

The new and fair lady of Castlewood found the sad lonely little occupant
of this gallery busy over his great book, which he laid down when he was
aware that a stranger was at hand. And, knowing who that person must be,
the lad stood up and bowed before her, performing a shy obeisance to the
mistress of his house.

She stretched out her hand—indeed when was it that that hand would not
stretch out to do an act of kindness, or to protect grief and ill-fortune?
“And this is our kinsman,’” she said; “and what is your name, kinsman?”

“My name is Henry Esmond,” said the lad, looking up at her in a sort of
delight and wonder, for she had come upon him as a _Dea certè_, and
appeared the most charming object he had ever looked on. Her golden hair
was shining in the gold of the sun; her complexion was of a dazzling
bloom; her lips smiling, and her eyes beaming with a kindness which made
Harry Esmond’s heart to beat with surprise.

“His name is Henry Esmond, sure enough, my lady,” says Mrs. Worksop the
housekeeper (an old tyrant whom Henry Esmond plagued more than he hated),
and the old gentlewoman looked significantly towards the late lord’s
picture, as it now is in the family, noble and severe-looking, with his
hand on his sword, and his order on his cloak, which he had from the
emperor during the war on the Danube against the Turk.

Seeing the great and undeniable likeness between this portrait and the
lad, the new viscountess, who had still hold of the boy’s hand as she
looked at the picture, blushed and dropped the hand quickly, and walked
down the gallery, followed by Mrs. Worksop.

When the lady came back, Harry Esmond stood exactly in the same spot, and
with his hand as it had fallen when he dropped it on his black coat.

Her heart melted I suppose (indeed she hath since owned as much) at the
notion that she should do anything unkind to any mortal, great or small;
for, when she returned, she had sent away the housekeeper upon an errand
by the door at the farther end of the gallery; and, coming back to the
lad, with a look of infinite pity and tenderness in her eyes, she took his
hand again, placing her other fair hand on his head, and saying some words
to him, which were so kind and said in a voice so sweet, that the boy, who
had never looked upon so much beauty before, felt as if the touch of a
superior being or angel smote him down to the ground, and kissed the fair
protecting hand as he knelt on one knee. To the very last hour of his
life, Esmond remembered the lady as she then spoke and looked, the rings
on her fair hands, the very scent of her robe, the beam of her eyes
lighting up with surprise and kindness, her lips blooming in a smile, the
sun making a golden halo round her hair.

As the boy was yet in this attitude of humility, enters behind him a
portly gentleman, with a little girl of four years old in his hand. The
gentleman burst into a great laugh at the lady and her adorer, with his
little queer figure, his sallow face, and long black hair. The lady
blushed, and seemed to deprecate his ridicule by a look of appeal to her
husband, for it was my lord viscount who now arrived, and whom the lad
knew, having once before seen him in the late lord’s lifetime.

“So this is the little priest!” says my lord, looking down at the lad;
“welcome, kinsman.”

“He is saying his prayers to mamma,” says the little girl, who came up to
her papa’s knee; and my lord burst out into another great laugh at this,
and kinsman Henry looked very silly. He invented a half-dozen of speeches
in reply, but ’twas months afterwards when he thought of this adventure:
as it was, he had never a word in answer.

“_Le pauvre enfant, il n’a que nous_,” says the lady, looking to her lord;
and the boy, who understood her, though doubtless she thought otherwise,
thanked her with all his heart for her kind speech.

“And he shan’t want for friends here,” says my lord, in a kind voice,
“shall he, little Trix?”

The little girl, whose name was Beatrix, and whom her papa called by this
diminutive, looked at Henry Esmond solemnly, with a pair of large eyes,
and then a smile shone over her face, which was as beautiful as that of a
cherub, and she came up and put out a little hand to him. A keen and
delightful pang of gratitude, happiness, affection, filled the orphan
child’s heart, as he received from the protectors, whom Heaven had sent to
him, these touching words, and tokens of friendliness and kindness. But an
hour since he had felt quite alone in the world: when he heard the great
peal of bells from Castlewood church ringing that morning to welcome the
arrival of the new lord and lady, it had rung only terror and anxiety to
him, for he knew not how the new owner would deal with him; and those to
whom he formerly looked for protection were forgotten or dead. Pride and
doubt too had kept him within doors: when the vicar and the people of the
village, and the servants of the house, had gone out to welcome my Lord
Castlewood—for Henry Esmond was no servant, though a dependant; no
relative, though he bore the name and inherited the blood of the house;
and in the midst of the noise and acclamations attending the arrival of
the new lord (for whom you may be sure a feast was got ready, and guns
were fired, and tenants and domestics huzzaed when his carriage approached
and rolled into the courtyard of the hall), no one ever took any notice of
young Henry Esmond, who sat unobserved and alone in the book-room, until
the afternoon of that day, when his new friends found him.

When my lord and lady were going away thence, the little girl, still
holding her kinsman by the hand, bade him to come too. “Thou wilt always
forsake an old friend for a new one, Trix,” says her father to her
good-naturedly; and went into the gallery, giving an arm to his lady. They
passed thence through the music-gallery, long since dismantled, and Queen
Elizabeth’s rooms, in the clock-tower, and out into the terrace, where was
a fine prospect of sunset, and the great darkling woods with a cloud of
rooks returning; and the plain and river with Castlewood village beyond,
and purple hills beautiful to look at—and the little heir of Castlewood, a
child of two years old, was already here on the terrace in his nurse’s
arms, from whom he ran across the grass instantly he perceived his mother,
and came to her.

“If thou canst not be happy here,” says my lord, looking round at the
scene, “thou art hard to please, Rachel.”

“I am happy where you are,” she said, “but we were happiest of all at
Walcote Forest.” Then my lord began to describe what was before them to
his wife, and what indeed little Harry knew better than he—viz., the
history of the house: how by yonder gate the page ran away with the
heiress of Castlewood, by which the estate came into the present family,
how the Roundheads attacked the clock-tower, which my lord’s father was
slain in defending. “I was but two years old then,” says he, “but take
forty-six from ninety, and how old shall I be, kinsman Harry?”

“Thirty,” says his wife, with a laugh.

“A great deal too old for you, Rachel,” answers my lord, looking fondly
down at her. Indeed she seemed to be a girl; and was at that time scarce
twenty years old.

“You know, Frank, I will do anything to please you,” says she, “and I
promise you I will grow older every day.”

“You mustn’t call papa Frank; you must call papa my lord, now,” says Miss
Beatrix, with a toss of her little head; at which the mother smiled, and
the good-natured father laughed, and the little, trotting boy laughed, not
knowing why—but because he was happy no doubt—as every one seemed to be
there. How those trivial incidents and words, the landscape and sunshine,
and the group of people smiling and talking, remain fixed on the memory!

As the sun was setting, the little heir was sent in the arms of his nurse
to bed, whither he went howling; but little Trix was promised to sit to
supper that night—“and you will come too, kinsman, won’t you?” she said.

Harry Esmond blushed: “I—I have supper with Mrs. Worksop,” says he.

“D—n it,” says my lord, “thou shalt sup with us, Harry, to-night! Shan’t
refuse a lady, shall he, Trix?”—and they all wondered at Harry’s
performance as a trencherman, in which character the poor boy acquitted
himself very remarkably; for the truth is he had no dinner, nobody
thinking of him in the bustle which the house was in, during the
preparations antecedent to the new lord’s arrival.

“No dinner! poor dear child!” says my lady, heaping up his plate with
meat, and my lord filling a bumper for him, bade him call a health; on
which Master Harry, crying “The King”, tossed off the wine. My lord was
ready to drink that, and most other toasts: indeed, only too ready. He
would not hear of Doctor Tusher (the Vicar of Castlewood, who came to
supper) going away when the sweetmeats were brought: he had not had a
chaplain long enough, he said, to be tired of him: so his reverence kept
my lord company for some hours over a pipe and a punchbowl; and went away
home with rather a reeling gait, and declaring a dozen of times, that his
lordship’s affability surpassed every kindness he had ever had from his
lordship’s gracious family.

As for young Esmond, when he got to his little chamber, it was with a
heart full of surprise and gratitude towards the new friends whom this
happy day had brought him. He was up and watching long before the house
was astir, longing to see that fair lady and her children—that kind
protector and patron; and only fearful lest their welcome of the past
night should in any way be withdrawn or altered. But presently little
Beatrix came out into the garden, and her mother followed, who greeted
Harry as kindly as before. He told her at greater length the histories of
the house (which he had been taught in the old lord’s time), and to which
she listened with great interest; and then he told her, with respect to
the night before, that he understood French, and thanked her for her
protection.

“Do you?” says she, with a blush; “then, sir, you shall teach me and
Beatrix.” And she asked him many more questions regarding himself, which
had best be told more fully and explicitly, than in those brief replies
which the lad made to his mistress’s questions.



Chapter II. Relates How Francis, Fourth Viscount, Arrives At Castlewood


’Tis known that the name of Esmond and the estate of Castlewood, com.
Hants, came into possession of the present family through Dorothea,
daughter and heiress of Edward, Earl and Marquis of Esmond, and Lord of
Castlewood, which lady married, 23 Eliz., Henry Poyns, gent.; the said
Henry being then a page in the household of her father. Francis, son and
heir of the above Henry and Dorothea, who took the maternal name which the
family hath borne subsequently, was made knight and baronet by King James
the First; and, being of a military disposition, remained long in Germany
with the Elector-Palatine, in whose service Sir Francis incurred both
expense and danger, lending large sums of money to that unfortunate
prince; and receiving many wounds in the battles against the Imperialists,
in which Sir Francis engaged.

On his return home Sir Francis was rewarded for his services and many
sacrifices, by his late Majesty James the First, who graciously conferred
upon this tried servant the post of Warden of the Butteries and Groom of
the King’s Posset, which high and confidential office he filled in that
king’s, and his unhappy successor’s, reign.

His age, and many wounds and infirmities, obliged Sir Francis to perform
much of his duty by deputy; and his son, Sir George Esmond, knight and
banneret, first as his father’s lieutenant, and afterwards as inheritor of
his father’s title and dignity, performed this office during almost the
whole of the reign of King Charles the First, and his two sons who
succeeded him.

Sir George Esmond married rather beneath the rank that a person of his
name and honour might aspire to, the daughter of Thos. Topham, of the city
of London, alderman and goldsmith, who, taking the Parliamentary side in
the troubles then commencing, disappointed Sir George of the property
which he expected at the demise of his father-in-law, who devised his
money to his second daughter, Barbara, a spinster.

Sir George Esmond, on his part, was conspicuous for his attachment and
loyalty to the royal cause and person, and the king being at Oxford in
1642, Sir George, with the consent of his father, then very aged and
infirm, and residing at his house of Castlewood, melted the whole of the
family plate for his Majesty’s service.

For this, and other sacrifices and merits, his Majesty, by patent under
the Privy Seal, dated Oxford, Jan., 1643, was pleased to advance Sir
Francis Esmond to the dignity of Viscount Castlewood, of Shandon, in
Ireland: and the viscount’s estate being much impoverished by loans to the
king, which in those troublesome times his Majesty could not repay, a
grant of land in the plantations of Virginia was given to the lord
viscount; part of which land is in possession of descendants of his family
to the present day.

The first Viscount Castlewood died full of years, and within a few months
after he had been advanced to his honours. He was succeeded by his eldest
son, the before-named George; and left issue besides, Thomas, a colonel in
the king’s army, that afterwards joined the Usurper’s government; and
Francis, in holy orders, who was slain whilst defending the house of
Castlewood against the Parliament, anno 1647.

George, Lord Castlewood (the second viscount) of King Charles the First’s
time, had no male issue save his one son Eustace Esmond, who was killed,
with half of the Castlewood men beside him, at Worcester fight. The lands
about Castlewood were sold and apportioned to the Commonwealth men;
Castlewood being concerned in almost all of the plots against the
Protector, after the death of the king, and up to King Charles the
Second’s restoration. My lord followed that king’s Court about in its
exile, having ruined himself in its service. He had but one daughter, who
was of no great comfort to her father; for misfortune had not taught those
exiles sobriety of life; and it is said that the Duke of York and his
brother the king both quarrelled about Isabel Esmond. She was maid of
honour to the Queen Henrietta Maria; she early joined the Roman Church;
her father, a weak man, following her not long after at Breda.

On the death of Eustace Esmond at Worcester, Thomas Esmond, nephew to my
Lord Castlewood, and then a stripling, became heir to the title. His
father had taken the Parliament side in the quarrels, and so had been
estranged from the chief of his house; and my Lord Castlewood was at first
so much enraged to think that his title (albeit little more than an empty
one now) should pass to a rascally Roundhead, that he would have married
again, and indeed proposed to do so to a vintner’s daughter at Bruges, to
whom his lordship owed a score for lodging when the king was there, but
for fear of the laughter of the Court, and the anger of his daughter, of
whom he stood in awe; for she was in temper as imperious and violent as my
lord, who was much enfeebled by wounds and drinking, was weak.

Lord Castlewood would have had a match between his daughter Isabel and her
cousin, the son of that Francis Esmond who was killed at Castlewood siege.
And the lady, it was said, took a fancy to the young man, who was her
junior by several years (which circumstance she did not consider to be a
fault in him); but having paid his court, and being admitted to the
intimacy of the house, he suddenly flung up his suit, when it seemed to be
pretty prosperous, without giving a pretext for his behaviour. His friends
rallied him at what they laughingly chose to call his infidelity. Jack
Churchill, Frank Esmond’s lieutenant in the royal regiment of foot guards,
getting the company which Esmond vacated, when he left the Court and went
to Tangier in a rage at discovering that his promotion depended on the
complaisance of his elderly affianced bride. He and Churchill, who had
been _condiscipuli_ at St. Paul’s School, had words about this matter; and
Frank Esmond said to him with an oath, “Jack, your sister may be
so-and-so, but by Jove, my wife shan’t!” and swords were drawn, and blood
drawn, too, until friends separated them on this quarrel. Few men were so
jealous about the point of honour in those days; and gentlemen of good
birth and lineage thought a royal blot was an ornament to their family
coat. Frank Esmond retired in the sulks, first to Tangier, whence he
returned after two years’ service, settling on a small property he had of
his mother, near to Winchester, and became a country gentleman, and kept a
pack of beagles, and never came to Court again in King Charles’s time. But
his uncle Castlewood was never reconciled to him; nor, for some time
afterwards, his cousin whom he had refused.

By places, pensions, bounties from France, and gifts from the king, whilst
his daughter was in favour, Lord Castlewood, who had spent in the royal
service his youth and fortune, did not retrieve the latter quite, and
never cared to visit Castlewood, or repair it, since the death of his son,
but managed to keep a good house, and figure at Court, and to save a
considerable sum of ready money.

And now, his heir and nephew, Thomas Esmond, began to bid for his uncle’s
favour. Thomas had served with the emperor, and with the Dutch, when King
Charles was compelled to lend troops to the States, and against them, when
his Majesty made an alliance with the French king. In these campaigns
Thomas Esmond was more remarked for duelling, brawling, vice, and play,
than for any conspicuous gallantry in the field, and came back to England,
like many another English gentleman who has travelled, with a character by
no means improved by his foreign experience. He had dissipated his small
paternal inheritance of a younger brother’s portion, and, as truth must be
told, was no better than a hanger-on of ordinaries, and a brawler about
Alsatia and the Friars, when he bethought him of a means of mending his
fortune.

His cousin was now of more than middle age, and had nobody’s word but her
own for the beauty which she said she once possessed. She was lean, and
yellow, and long in the tooth; all the red and white in all the toy-shops
in London could not make a beauty of her—Mr. Killigrew called her the
Sibyl, the death’s-head put up at the king’s feast as a _memento mori_,
&c.—in fine, a woman who might be easy of conquest, but whom only a very
bold man would think of conquering. This bold man was Thomas Esmond. He
had a fancy to my Lord Castlewood’s savings, the amount of which rumour
had very much exaggerated. Madam Isabel was said to have royal jewels of
great value; whereas poor Tom Esmond’s last coat but one was in pawn.

My lord had at this time a fine house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, nigh to the
Duke’s Theatre and the Portugal ambassador’s chapel. Tom Esmond, who had
frequented the one as long as he had money to spend among the actresses,
now came to the church as assiduously. He looked so lean and shabby, that
he passed without difficulty for a repentant sinner; and so, becoming
converted, you may be sure took his uncle’s priest for a director.

This charitable father reconciled him with the old lord his uncle, who a
short time before would not speak to him, as Tom passed under my lord’s
coach window, his lordship going in state to his place at Court, while his
nephew slunk by with his battered hat and feather, and the point of his
rapier sticking out of the scabbard—to his twopenny ordinary in Bell Yard.

Thomas Esmond, after this reconciliation with his uncle, very soon began
to grow sleek, and to show signs of the benefits of good living and clean
linen. He fasted rigorously twice a week to be sure; but he made amends on
the other days: and, to show how great his appetite was, Mr. Wycherley
said, he ended by swallowing that fly-blown rank old morsel his cousin.
There were endless jokes and lampoons about this marriage at Court: but
Tom rode thither in his uncle’s coach now, called him father, and having
won could afford to laugh. This marriage took place very shortly before
King Charles died: whom the Viscount of Castlewood speedily followed.

The issue of this marriage was one son, whom the parents watched with an
intense eagerness and care; but who, in spite of nurses and physicians,
had only a brief existence. His tainted blood did not run very long in his
poor feeble little body. Symptoms of evil broke out early on him; and,
part from flattery, part superstition, nothing would satisfy my lord and
lady, especially the latter, but having the poor little cripple touched by
his Majesty at his church. They were ready to cry out miracle at first
(the doctors and quack-salvers being constantly in attendance on the
child, and experimenting on his poor little body with every conceivable
nostrum)—but though there seemed from some reason a notable amelioration
in the infant’s health after his Majesty touched him, in a few weeks
afterward the poor thing died—causing the lampooners of the Court to say,
that the king in expelling evil out of the infant of Tom Esmond and
Isabella his wife, expelled the life out of it, which was nothing but
corruption.

The mother’s natural pang at losing this poor little child must have been
increased when she thought of her rival Frank Esmond’s wife, who was a
favourite of the whole Court, where my poor Lady Castlewood was neglected,
and who had one child, a daughter, flourishing and beautiful, and was
about to become a mother once more.

The Court, as I have heard, only laughed the more because the poor lady,
who had pretty well passed the age when ladies are accustomed to have
children, nevertheless determined not to give hope up, and even when she
came to live at Castlewood, was constantly sending over to Hexton for the
doctor, and announcing to her friends the arrival of an heir. This
absurdity of hers was one amongst many others which the wags used to play
upon. Indeed, to the last days of her life, my lady viscountess had the
comfort of fancying herself beautiful, and persisted in blooming up to the
very midst of winter, painting roses on her cheeks long after their
natural season, and attiring herself like summer though her head was
covered with snow.

Gentlemen who were about the Court of King Charles and King James, have
told the present writer a number of stories about this queer old lady,
with which it’s not necessary that posterity should be entertained. She is
said to have had great powers of invective; and, if she fought with all
her rivals in King James’s favour, ’tis certain she must have had a vast
number of quarrels on her hands. She was a woman of an intrepid spirit,
and it appears pursued and rather fatigued his Majesty with her rights and
her wrongs. Some say that the cause of her leaving Court was jealousy of
Frank Esmond’s wife: others, that she was forced to retreat after a great
battle which took place at Whitehall, between her ladyship and Lady
Dorchester, Tom Killigrew’s daughter, whom the king delighted to honour,
and in which that ill-favoured Esther got the better of our elderly
Vashti. But her ladyship for her part always averred that it was her
husband’s quarrel, and not her own, which occasioned the banishment of the
two into the country; and the cruel ingratitude of the sovereign in giving
away, out of the family, that place of Warden of the Butteries and Groom
of the King’s Posset, which the two last Lords Castlewood had held so
honourably, and which was now conferred upon a fellow of yesterday, and a
hanger-on of that odious Dorchester creature, my Lord Bergamot(6); “I
never,” said my lady, “could have come to see his Majesty’s posset carried
by any other hand than an Esmond. I should have dashed the salver out of
Lord Bergamot’s hand, had I met him.” And those who knew her ladyship are
aware that she was a person quite capable of performing this feat, had she
not wisely kept out of the way.

Holding the purse-strings in her own control, to which, indeed, she liked
to bring most persons who came near her, Lady Castlewood could command her
husband’s obedience, and so broke up her establishment at London; she had
removed from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Chelsey, to a pretty new house she
bought there; and brought her establishment, her maids, lap-dogs, and
gentlewomen, her priest, and his lordship, her husband, to Castlewood
Hall, that she had never seen since she quitted it as a child with her
father during the troubles of King Charles the First’s reign. The walls
were still open in the old house as they had been left by the shot of the
Commonwealth men. A part of the mansion was restored and furnished up with
the plate, hangings, and furniture, brought from the house in London. My
lady meant to have a triumphal entry into Castlewood village, and expected
the people to cheer as she drove over the Green in her great coach, my
lord beside her, her gentlewomen, lap-dogs, and cockatoos on the opposite
seat, six horses to her carriage, and servants armed and mounted,
following it and preceding it. But ’twas in the height of the No-Popery
cry; the folks in the village and the neighbouring town were scared by the
sight of her ladyship’s painted face and eyelids, as she bobbed her head
out of the coach window, meaning no doubt to be very gracious; and one old
woman said, “Lady Isabel! lord-a-mercy, it’s Lady Jezebel!” a name by
which the enemies of the right honourable viscountess were afterwards in
the habit of designating her. The country was then in a great No-Popery
fervour, her ladyship’s known conversion, and her husband’s, the priest in
her train, and the service performed at the chapel of Castlewood (though
the chapel had been built for that worship before any other was heard of
in the country, and though the service was performed in the most quiet
manner), got her no favour at first in the county or village. By far the
greater part of the estate of Castlewood had been confiscated, and been
parcelled out to Commonwealth men. One or two of these old Cromwellian
soldiers were still alive in the village, and looked grimly at first upon
my lady viscountess, when she came to dwell there.

She appeared at the Hexton Assembly, bringing her lord after her, scaring
the country folks with the splendour of her diamonds, which she always
wore in public. They said she wore them in private, too, and slept with
them round her neck; though the writer can pledge his word that this was a
calumny. “If she were to take them off,” my Lady Sark said, “Tom Esmond,
her husband, would run away with them and pawn them.” ’Twas another
calumny. My Lady Sark was also an exile from Court, and there had been war
between the two ladies before.

The village people began to be reconciled presently to their lady, who was
generous and kind, though fantastic and haughty, in her ways; and whose
praises Dr. Tusher, the vicar, sounded loudly amongst his flock. As for my
lord, he gave no great trouble, being considered scarce more than an
appendage to my lady, who as daughter of the old lords of Castlewood, and
possessor of vast wealth, as the country folks said (though indeed
nine-tenths of it existed but in rumour), was looked upon as the real
queen of the Castle, and mistress of all it contained.



Chapter III. Whither In The Time Of Thomas, Third Viscount, I Had Preceded
Him As Page To Isabella


Coming up to London again some short time after this retreat, the Lord
Castlewood dispatched a retainer of his to a little cottage in the village
of Ealing, near to London, where for some time had dwelt an old French
refugee, by name Mr. Pastoureau, one of those whom the persecution of the
Huguenots by the French king had brought over to this country. With this
old man lived a little lad, who went by the name of Henry Thomas. He
remembered to have lived in another place a short time before, near to
London, too, amongst looms and spinning-wheels, and a great deal of
psalm-singing and church-going, and a whole colony of Frenchmen.

There he had a dear, dear friend, who died and whom he called aunt. She
used to visit him in his dreams sometimes; and her face, though it was
homely, was a thousand times dearer to him than that of Mrs. Pastoureau,
Bon Papa Pastoureau’s new wife, who came to live with him after aunt went
away. And there, at Spittlefields, as it used to be called, lived Uncle
George, who was a weaver too, but used to tell Harry that he was a little
gentleman, and that his father was a captain, and his mother an angel.

When he said so, Bon Papa used to look up from the loom, where he was
embroidering beautiful silk flowers, and say, “Angel! she belongs to the
Babylonish Scarlet Woman.” Bon Papa was always talking of the Scarlet
Woman. He had a little room where he always used to preach and sing hymns
out of his great old nose. Little Harry did not like the preaching; he
liked better the fine stories which aunt used to tell him. Bon Papa’s wife
never told him pretty stories; she quarrelled with Uncle George, and he
went away.

After this Harry’s Bon Papa, and his wife and two children of her own that
she brought with her, came to live at Ealing. The new wife gave her
children the best of everything, and Harry many a whipping, he knew not
why. Besides blows, he got ill names from her, which need not be set down
here, for the sake of old Mr. Pastoureau, who was still kind sometimes.
The unhappiness of those days is long forgiven, though they cast a shade
of melancholy over the child’s youth, which will accompany him, no doubt,
to the end of his days: as those tender twigs are bent the trees grow
afterward; and he, at least, who has suffered as a child, and is not quite
perverted in that early school of unhappiness, learns to be gentle and
long-suffering with little children.

Harry was very glad when a gentleman dressed in black, on horseback, with
a mounted servant behind him, came to fetch him away from Ealing. The
_noverca_, or unjust stepmother, who had neglected him for her own two
children, gave him supper enough the night before he went away, and plenty
in the morning. She did not beat him once, and told the children to keep
their hands off him. One was a girl, and Harry never could bear to strike
a girl; and the other was a boy, whom he could easily have beat, but he
always cried out, when Mrs. Pastoureau came sailing to the rescue with
arms like a flail. She only washed Harry’s face the day he went away; nor
ever so much as once boxed his ears. She whimpered rather when the
gentleman in black came for the boy; and old Mr. Pastoureau, as he gave
the child his blessing, scowled over his shoulder at the strange
gentleman, and grumbled out something about Babylon and the scarlet lady.
He was grown quite old, like a child almost. Mrs. Pastoureau used to wipe
his nose as she did to the children. She was a great, big, handsome young
woman; but, though she pretended to cry, Harry thought ’twas only a sham,
and sprung quite delighted upon the horse upon which the lackey helped
him.

He was a Frenchman; his name was Blaise. The child could talk to him in
his own language perfectly well: he knew it better than English indeed:
having lived hitherto chiefly among French people: and being called the
little Frenchman by other boys on Ealing Green. He soon learnt to speak
English perfectly, and to forget some of his French: children forget
easily. Some earlier and fainter recollections the child had, of a
different country; and a town with tall white houses; and a ship. But
these were quite indistinct in the boy’s mind, as indeed the memory of
Ealing soon became, at least of much that he suffered there.

The lackey before whom he rode was very lively and voluble, and informed
the boy that the gentleman riding before him was my lord’s chaplain,
Father Holt—that he was now to be called Master Harry Esmond—that my Lord
Viscount Castlewood was his _parrain_—that he was to live at the great
house of Castlewood, in the province of ——shire, where he would see madame
the viscountess, who was a grand lady. And so, seated on a cloth before
Blaise’s saddle, Harry Esmond was brought to London, and to a fine square
called Covent Garden, near to which his patron lodged.

Mr. Holt the priest took the child by the hand, and brought him to this
nobleman, a grand languid nobleman in a great cap and flowered
morning-gown, sucking oranges. He patted Harry on the head and gave him an
orange.

“_C’est bien ça_,” he said to the priest after eyeing the child, and the
gentleman in black shrugged his shoulders.

“Let Blaise take him out for a holiday,” and out for a holiday the boy and
the valet went. Harry went jumping along; he was glad enough to go.

He will remember to his life’s end the delights of those days. He was
taken to see a play by Monsieur Blaise, in a house a thousand times
greater and finer than the booth at Ealing Fair—and on the next happy day
they took water on the river, and Harry saw London Bridge, with the houses
and booksellers’ shops thereon, looking like a street, and the Tower of
London, with the armour, and the great lions and bears in the moats—all
under company of Monsieur Blaise.

Presently, of an early morning, all the party set forth for the country,
namely, my lord viscount and the other gentleman; Monsieur Blaise, and
Harry on a pillion behind them, and two or three men with pistols leading
the baggage-horses. And all along the road the Frenchman told little Harry
stories of brigands, which made the child’s hair stand on end, and
terrified him; so that at the great gloomy inn on the road where they lay,
he besought to be allowed to sleep in a room with one of the servants, and
was compassionated by Mr. Holt, the gentleman who travelled with my lord,
and who gave the child a little bed in his chamber.

His artless talk and answers very likely inclined this gentleman in the
boy’s favour, for next day Mr. Holt said Harry should ride behind him, and
not with the French lacky; and all along the journey put a thousand
questions to the child—as to his foster-brother and relations at Ealing;
what his old grandfather had taught him; what languages he knew; whether
he could read and write, and sing, and so forth. And Mr. Holt found that
Harry could read and write, and possessed the two languages of French and
English very well; and when he asked Harry about singing, the lad broke
out with a hymn to the tune of Dr. Martin Luther, which set Mr. Holt
a-laughing; and even caused his _grand parrain_ in the laced hat and
periwig to laugh too when Holt told him what the child was singing. For it
appeared that Dr. Martin Luther’s hymns were not sung in the churches Mr.
Holt preached at.

“You must never sing that song any more, do you hear, little manikin?”
says my lord viscount, holding up a finger.

“But we will try and teach you a better, Harry.” Mr. Holt said; and the
child answered, for he was a docile child, and of an affectionate nature,
“That he loved pretty songs, and would try and learn anything the
gentleman would tell him.” That day he so pleased the gentlemen by his
talk, that they had him to dine with them at the inn, and encouraged him
in his prattle; and Monsieur Blaise, with whom he rode and dined the day
before, waited upon him now.

“’Tis well, ’tis well!” said Blaise, that night (in his own language) when
they lay again at an inn. “We are a little lord here; we are a little lord
now: we shall see what we are when we come to Castlewood where my lady
is.”

“When shall we come to Castlewood, Monsieur Blaise?” says Harry.

“_Parbleu!_ my lord does not press himself.” Blaise says, with a grin;
and, indeed, it seemed as if his lordship was not in a great hurry, for he
spent three days on that journey, which Harry Esmond hath often since
ridden in a dozen hours. For the last two of the days, Harry rode with the
priest, who was so kind to him, that the child had grown to be quite fond
and familiar with him by the journey’s end, and had scarce a thought in
his little heart which by that time he had not confided to his new friend.

At length on the third day, at evening, they came to a village standing on
a green with elms round it, very pretty to look at; and the people there
all took off their hats, and made curtsies to my lord viscount, who bowed
to them all languidly; and there was one portly person that wore a cassock
and a broad-leafed hat, who bowed lower than any one—and with this one
both my lord and Mr. Holt had a few words. “This, Harry, is Castlewood
church,” says Mr. Holt, “and this is the pillar thereof, learned Doctor
Tusher. Take off your hat, sirrah, and salute Doctor Tusher.”

“Come up to supper, doctor,” says my lord; at which the doctor made
another low bow, and the party moved on towards a grand house that was
before them, with many grey towers, and vanes on them, and windows flaming
in the sunshine; and a great army of rooks, wheeling over their heads,
made for the woods behind the house, as Harry saw; and Mr. Holt told him
that they lived at Castlewood too.

They came to the house, and passed under an arch into a courtyard, with a
fountain in the centre, where many men came and held my lord’s stirrup as
he descended, and paid great respect to Mr. Holt likewise. And the child
thought that the servants looked at him curiously, and smiled to one
another—and he recalled what Blaise had said to him when they were in
London, and Harry had spoken about his godpapa, when the Frenchman said,
“_Parbleu!_ one sees well that my lord is your godfather”; words whereof
the poor lad did not know the meaning then, though he apprehended the
truth in a very short time afterwards, and learned it and thought of it
with no small feeling of shame.

Taking Harry by the hand as soon as they were both descended from their
horses, Mr. Holt led him across the court, and under a low door to rooms
on a level with the ground; one of which Father Holt said was to be the
boy’s chamber, the other on the other side of the passage being the
father’s own; and as soon as the little man’s face was washed, and the
father’s own dress arranged, Harry’s guide took him once more to the door
by which my lord had entered the hall, and up a stair, and through an
ante-room to my lady’s drawing-room—an apartment than which Harry thought
he had never seen anything more grand—no, not in the Tower of London which
he had just visited. Indeed the chamber was richly ornamented in the
manner of Queen Elizabeth’s time, with great stained windows at either
end, and hangings of tapestry, which the sun shining through the coloured
glass painted of a thousand hues; and here in state, by the fire, sat a
lady to whom the priest took up Harry, who was indeed amazed by her
appearance.

My lady viscountess’s face was daubed with white and red up to the eyes,
to which the paint gave an unearthly glare: she had a tower of lace on her
head, under which was a bush of black curls—borrowed curls—so that no
wonder little Harry Esmond was scared when he was first presented to
her—the kind priest acting as master of the ceremonies at that solemn
introduction—and he stared at her with eyes almost as great as her own, as
he had stared at the player-woman who acted the wicked tragedy-queen, when
the players came down to Ealing Fair. She sat in a great chair by the
fire-corner; in her lap was a spaniel-dog that barked furiously; on a
little table by her was her ladyship’s snuff-box and her sugar-plum box.
She wore a dress of black velvet, and a petticoat of flame-coloured
brocade. She had as many rings on her fingers as the old woman of Banbury
Cross; and pretty small feet which she was fond of showing, with great
gold clocks to her stockings, and white pantofles with red heels; and an
odour of musk was shook out of her garments whenever she moved or quitted
the room, leaning on her tortoiseshell stick, little Fury barking at her
heels.

Mrs. Tusher, the parson’s wife, was with my lady. She had been
waiting-woman to her ladyship in the late lord’s time, and, having her
soul in that business, took naturally to it when the Viscountess of
Castlewood returned to inhabit her father’s house.

“I present to your ladyship your kinsman and little page of honour, Master
Henry Esmond,” Mr. Holt said, bowing lowly, with a sort of comical
humility. “Make a pretty bow to my lady, monsieur; and then another little
bow, not so low, to Madam Tusher—the fair priestess of Castlewood.”

“Where I have lived and hope to die, sir,” says Madam Tusher, giving a
hard glance at the brat, and then at my lady.

Upon her the boy’s whole attention was for a time directed. He could not
keep his great eyes off from her. Since the Empress of Ealing he had seen
nothing so awful.

“Does my appearance please you, little page?” asked the lady.

“He would be very hard to please if it didn’t,” cried Madam Tusher.

“Have done, you silly Maria,” said Lady Castlewood.

“Where I’m attached, I’m attached, madam—and I’d die rather than not say
so.”

“_Je meurs où je m’attache_,” Mr. Holt said, with a polite grin. “The ivy
says so in the picture, and clings to the oak like a fond parasite as it
is.”

“Parricide, sir!” cries Mrs. Tusher.

“Hush, Tusher—you are always bickering with Father Holt,” cried my lady.
“Come and kiss my hand, child,” and the oak held out a _branch_ to little
Harry Esmond, who took and dutifully kissed the lean old hand, upon the
gnarled knuckles of which there glittered a hundred rings.

“To kiss that hand would make many a pretty fellow happy!” cried Mrs.
Tusher: on which my lady crying out, “Go, you foolish Tusher,” and tapping
her with her great fan, Tusher ran forward to seize her hand and kiss it.
Fury arose and barked furiously at Tusher; and Father Holt looked on at
this queer scene, with arch grave glances.

The awe exhibited by the little boy perhaps pleased the lady to whom this
artless flattery was bestowed; for having gone down on his knee (as Father
Holt had directed him, and the mode then was) and performed his obeisance,
she said, “Page Esmond, my groom of the chamber will inform you what your
duties are, when you wait upon my lord and me; and good Father Holt will
instruct you as becomes a gentleman of our name. You will pay him
obedience in everything, and I pray you may grow to be as learned and as
good as your tutor.”

The lady seemed to have the greatest reverence for Mr. Holt, and to be
more afraid of him than of anything else in the world. If she was ever so
angry, a word or look from Father Holt made her calm: indeed he had a vast
power of subjecting those who came near him; and, among the rest, his new
pupil gave himself up with an entire confidence and attachment to the good
father, and became his willing slave almost from the first moment he saw
him.

He put his small hand into the father’s as he walked away from his first
presentation to his mistress, and asked many questions in his artless
childish way. “Who is that other woman?” he asked. “She is fat and round;
she is more pretty than my Lady Castlewood.”

“She is Madam Tusher, the parson’s wife of Castlewood. She has a son of
your age, but bigger than you.”

“Why does she like so to kiss my lady’s hand? It is not good to kiss.”

“Tastes are different, little man. Madam Tusher is attached to my lady,
having been her waiting-woman, before she was married, in the old lord’s
time. She married Doctor Tusher the chaplain. The English household
divines often marry the waiting-women.”

“You will not marry the French woman, will you? I saw her laughing with
Blaise in the buttery.”

“I belong to a church that is older and better than the English Church,”
Mr. Holt said (making a sign whereof Esmond did not then understand the
meaning, across his breast and forehead); “in our Church the clergy do not
marry. You will understand these things better soon.”

“Was not St. Peter the head of your Church?—Dr. Rabbits of Ealing told us
so.”

The father said, “Yes, he was.”

“But St. Peter was married, for we heard only last Sunday that his wife’s
mother lay sick of a fever.” On which the father again laughed, and said
he would understand this too better soon, and talked of other things, and
took away Harry Esmond, and showed him the great old house which he had
come to inhabit.

It stood on a rising green hill, with woods behind it, in which were
rooks’ nests, where the birds at morning and returning home at evening
made a great cawing. At the foot of the hill was a river with a steep
ancient bridge crossing it; and beyond that a large pleasant green flat,
where the village of Castlewood stood and stands, with the church in the
midst, the parsonage hard by it, the inn with the blacksmith’s forge
beside it, and the sign of the “Three Castles” on the elm. The London road
stretched away towards the rising sun, and to the west were swelling hills
and peaks, behind which many a time Harry Esmond saw the same sun setting,
that he now looks on thousands of miles away across the great ocean—in a
new Castlewood by another stream, that bears, like the new country of
wandering Aeneas, the fond names of the land of his youth.

The Hall of Castlewood was built with two courts, whereof one only, the
fountain court, was now inhabited, the other having been battered down in
the Cromwellian wars. In the fountain court, still in good repair, was the
great hall, near to the kitchen and butteries. A dozen of living-rooms
looking to the north, and communicating with the little chapel that faced
eastwards and the buildings stretching from that to the main gate, and
with the hall (which looked to the west) into the court now dismantled.
This court had been the most magnificent of the two, until the protector’s
cannon tore down one side of it before the place was taken and stormed.
The besiegers entered at the terrace under the clock-tower, slaying every
man of the garrison, and at their head my lord’s brother, Francis Esmond.

The Restoration did not bring enough money to the Lord Castlewood to
restore this ruined part of his house; where were the morning parlours,
above them the long music-gallery, and before which stretched the
garden-terrace, where, however, the flowers grew again, which the boots of
the Roundheads had trodden in their assault, and which was restored
without much cost, and only a little care, by both ladies who succeeded
the second viscount in the government of this mansion. Round the
terrace-garden was a low wall with a wicket leading to the wooded height
beyond, that is called Cromwell’s battery to this day.

Young Harry Esmond learned the domestic part of his duty, which was easy
enough, from the groom of her ladyship’s chamber: serving the countess, as
the custom commonly was in his boyhood, as page, waiting at her chair,
bringing her scented water and the silver basin after dinner—sitting on
her carriage step on state occasions, or on public days introducing her
company to her. This was chiefly of the Catholic gentry, of whom there
were a pretty many in the country and neighbouring city; and who rode not
seldom to Castlewood to partake of the hospitalities there. In the second
year of their residence the company seemed especially to increase. My lord
and my lady were seldom without visitors, in whose society it was curious
to contrast the difference of behaviour between Father Holt, the director
of the family, and Doctor Tusher, the rector of the parish—Mr. Holt moving
amongst the very highest as quite their equal, and as commanding them all;
while poor Doctor Tusher, whose position was indeed a difficult one,
having been chaplain once to the Hall, and still to the Protestant
servants there, seemed more like an usher than an equal, and always rose
to go away after the first course.

Also there came in these times to Father Holt many private visitors, whom
after a little, Henry Esmond had little difficulty in recognizing as
ecclesiastics of the father’s persuasion; whatever their dresses (and they
adopted all) might be. These were closeted with the father constantly, and
often came and rode away without paying their devoirs to my lord and
lady—to the lady and lord rather—his lordship being little more than a
cipher in the house, and entirely under his domineering partner. A little
fowling, a little hunting, a great deal of sleep, and a long time at cards
and table, carried through one day after another with his lordship. When
meetings took place in this second year, which often would happen with
closed doors, the page found my lord’s sheet of paper scribbled over with
dogs and horses, and ’twas said he had much ado to keep himself awake at
these councils: the countess ruling over them, and he acting as little
more than her secretary.

Father Holt began speedily to be so much occupied with these meetings as
rather to neglect the education of the little lad who so gladly put
himself under the kind priest’s orders. At first they read much and
regularly, both in Latin and French; the father not neglecting in anything
to impress his faith upon his pupil, but not forcing him violently, and
treating him with a delicacy and kindness which surprised and attached the
child; always more easily won by these methods than by any severe exercise
of authority. And his delight in our walks was to tell Harry of the
glories of his order, of its martyrs and heroes, of its brethren
converting the heathen by myriads, traversing the desert, facing the
stake, ruling the courts and councils, or braving the tortures of kings;
so that Harry Esmond thought that to belong to the Jesuits was the
greatest prize of life and bravest end of ambition; the greatest career
here, and in heaven the surest reward; and began to long for the day, not
only when he should enter into the one Church and receive his first
communion, but when he might join that wonderful brotherhood, which was
present throughout all the world, and which numbered the wisest, the
bravest, the highest born, the most eloquent of men among its members.
Father Holt bade him keep his views secret, and to hide them as a great
treasure which would escape him if it was revealed; and proud of this
confidence and secret vested in him, the lad became fondly attached to the
master who initiated him into a mystery so wonderful and awful. And when
little Tom Tusher, his neighbour, came from school for his holiday, and
said how he, too, was to be bred up for an English priest, and would get
what he called an exhibition from his school, and then a college
scholarship and fellowship, and then a good living—it tasked young Harry
Esmond’s powers of reticence not to say to his young companion, “Church!
priesthood! fat living! My dear Tommy, do you call yours a Church and a
priesthood? What is a fat living compared to converting a hundred thousand
heathens by a single sermon? What is a scholarship at Trinity by the side
of a crown of martyrdom, with angels awaiting you as your head is taken
off? Could your master at school sail over the Thames on his gown? Have
you statues in your church that can bleed, speak, walk, and cry? My good
Tommy, in dear Father Holt’s Church these things take place every day. You
know St. Philip of the Willows appeared to Lord Castlewood and caused him
to turn to the one true Church. No saints ever come to you.” And Harry
Esmond, because of his promise to Father Holt, hiding away these treasures
of faith from T. Tusher, delivered himself of them nevertheless simply to
Father Holt, who stroked his head, smiled at him with his inscrutable
look, and told him that he did well to meditate on these great things, and
not to talk of them except under direction.



Chapter IV. I Am Placed Under A Popish Priest And Bred To That
Religion.—Viscountess Castlewood


Had time enough been given, and his childish inclinations been properly
nurtured, Harry Esmond had been a Jesuit priest ere he was a dozen years
older, and might have finished his days a martyr in China or a victim on
Tower Hill: for, in the few months they spent together at Castlewood, Mr.
Holt obtained an entire mastery over the boy’s intellect and affections;
and had brought him to think, as indeed Father Holt thought with all his
heart too, that no life was so noble, no death so desirable, as that which
many brethren of his famous order were ready to undergo. By love, by a
brightness of wit and good humour that charmed all, by an authority which
he knew how to assume, by a mystery and silence about him which increased
the child’s reverence for him, he won Harry’s absolute fealty, and would
have kept it, doubtless, if schemes greater and more important than a poor
little boy’s admission into orders had not called him away.

After being at home for a few months in tranquillity (if theirs might be
called tranquillity, which was, in truth, a constant bickering), my lord
and lady left the country for London, taking their director with them: and
his little pupil scarce ever shed more bitter tears in his life than he
did for nights after the first parting with his dear friend, as he lay in
the lonely chamber next to that which the father used to occupy. He and a
few domestics were left as the only tenants of the great house: and,
though Harry sedulously did all the tasks which the father set him, he had
many hours unoccupied, and read in the library, and bewildered his little
brains with the great books he found there.

After a while the little lad grew accustomed to the loneliness of the
place; and in after days remembered this part of his life as a period not
unhappy. When the family was at London the whole of the establishment
travelled thither with the exception of the porter, who was, moreover,
brewer, gardener, and woodman, and his wife and children. These had their
lodging in the gate-house hard by, with a door into the court; and a
window looking out on the green was the chaplain’s room; and next to this
a small chamber where Father Holt had his books, and Harry Esmond his
sleeping-closet. The side of the house facing the east had escaped the
guns of the Cromwellians, whose battery was on the height facing the
western court; so that this eastern end bore few marks of demolition, save
in the chapel, where the painted windows surviving Edward the Sixth had
been broke by the Commonwealth men. In Father Holt’s time little Harry
Esmond acted as his familiar, and faithful little servitor; beating his
clothes, folding his vestments, fetching his water from the well long
before daylight, ready to run anywhere for the service of his beloved
priest. When the father was away he locked his private chamber; but the
room where the books were was left to little Harry, who, but for the
society of this gentleman, was little less solitary when Lord Castlewood
was at home.

The French wit saith that a hero is none to his valet de chambre, and it
required less quick eyes than my lady’s little page was naturally endowed
with, to see that she had many qualities by no means heroic, however much
Mrs. Tusher might flatter and coax her. When Father Holt was not by, who
exercised an entire authority over the pair, my lord and my lady
quarrelled and abused each other so as to make the servants laugh, and to
frighten the little page on duty. The poor boy trembled before his
mistress, who called him by a hundred ugly names, who made nothing of
boxing his ears—and tilting the silver basin in his face which it was his
business to present to her after dinner. She hath repaired, by subsequent
kindness to him, these severities, which it must be owned made his
childhood very unhappy. She was but unhappy herself at this time, poor
soul, and I suppose made her dependants lead her own sad life. I think my
lord was as much afraid of her as her page was, and the only person of the
household who mastered her was Mr. Holt. Harry was only too glad when the
father dined at table, and to slink away and prattle with him afterwards,
or read with him, or walk with him. Luckily my lady viscountess did not
rise till noon. Heaven help the poor waiting-woman who had charge of her
toilet! I have often seen the poor wretch come out with red eyes from the
closet, where those long and mysterious rites of her ladyship’s dress were
performed, and the backgammon-box locked up with a rap on Mrs. Tusher’s
fingers when she played ill or the game was going the wrong way.

Blessed be the king who introduced cards, and the kind inventors of piquet
and cribbage, for they employed six hours at least of her ladyship’s day,
during which her family was pretty easy. Without this occupation my lady
frequently declared she should die. Her dependants one after another
relieved guard—’twas rather a dangerous post to play with her ladyship—and
took the cards turn about. Mr. Holt would sit with her at piquet during
hours together, at which time she behaved herself properly; and, as for
Dr. Tusher, I believe he would have left a parishioner’s dying bed, if
summoned to play a rubber with his patroness at Castlewood. Sometimes,
when they were pretty comfortable together, my lord took a hand. Besides
these my lady had her faithful poor Tusher, and one, two, three
gentlewomen whom Harry Esmond could recollect in his time. They could not
bear that genteel service very long; one after another tried and failed at
it. These and the housekeeper, and little Harry Esmond, had a table of
their own. Poor ladies! their life was far harder than the page’s. He was
found asleep tucked up in his little bed, whilst they were sitting by her
ladyship reading her to sleep, with the _News Letter_ or the _Grand
Cyrus_. My lady used to have boxes of new plays from London, and Harry was
forbidden, under the pain of a whipping, to look into them. I am afraid he
deserved the penalty pretty often, and got it sometimes. Father Holt
applied it twice or thrice, when he caught the young scapegrace with a
delightful wicked comedy of Mr. Shadwell’s or Mr. Wycherley’s under his
pillow.

These, when he took any, were my lord’s favourite reading. But he was
averse to much study, and, as his little page fancied, to much occupation
of any sort.

It always seemed to young Harry Esmond that my lord treated him with more
kindness when his lady was not present, and Lord Castlewood would take the
lad sometimes on his little journeys a-hunting or a-birding; he loved to
play at cards and tric-trac with him, which games the boy learned to
pleasure his lord: and was growing to like him better daily, showing a
special pleasure if Father Holt gave a good report of him, patting him on
the head, and promising that he would provide for the boy. However, in my
lady’s presence, my lord showed no such marks of kindness, and affected to
treat the lad roughly, and rebuked him sharply for little faults—for which
he in a manner asked pardon of young Esmond when they were private, saying
if he did not speak roughly, she would, and his tongue was not such a bad
one as his lady’s—a point whereof the boy, young as he was, was very well
assured.

Great public events were happening all this while, of which the simple
young page took little count. But one day, riding into the neighbouring
town on the step of my lady’s coach, his lordship and she and Father Holt
being inside, a great mob of people came hooting and jeering round the
coach, bawling out, “The bishops for ever!” “Down with the Pope!” “No
Popery! no Popery! Jezebel, Jezebel!” so that my lord began to laugh, my
lady’s eyes to roll with anger, for she was as bold as a lioness, and
feared nobody; whilst Mr. Holt, as Esmond saw from his place on the step,
sank back with rather an alarmed face, crying out to her ladyship, “For
God’s sake, madam, do not speak or look out of window, sit still.” But she
did not obey this prudent injunction of the father; she thrust her head
out of the coach window, and screamed out to the coachman, “Flog your way
through them, the brutes, James, and use your whip!”

The mob answered with a roaring jeer of laughter, and fresh cries of,
“Jezebel! Jezebel!” My lord only laughed the more: he was a languid
gentleman: nothing seemed to excite him commonly, though I have seen him
cheer and halloo the hounds very briskly, and his face (which was
generally very yellow and calm) grow quite red and cheerful during a burst
over the Downs after a hare, and laugh, and swear, and huzza at a
cockfight, of which sport he was very fond. And now, when the mob began to
hoot his lady, he laughed with something of a mischievous look, as though
he expected sport, and thought that she and they were a match.

James the coachman was more afraid of his mistress than the mob, probably,
for he whipped on his horses as he was bidden, and the postboy that rode
with the first pair (my lady always went with her coach-and-six) gave a
cut of his thong over the shoulders of one fellow who put his hand out
towards the leading horse’s rein.

It was a market day and the country people were all assembled with their
baskets of poultry, eggs, and such things; the postilion had no sooner
lashed the man who would have taken hold of his horse, but a great cabbage
came whirling like a bombshell into the carriage, at which my lord laughed
more, for it knocked my lady’s fan out of her hand, and plumped into
Father Holt’s stomach. Then came a shower of carrots and potatoes.

“For heaven’s sake be still!” says Mr. Holt; “we are not ten paces from
the ‘Bell’ archway, where they can shut the gates on us, and keep out this
_canaille_.”

The little page was outside the coach on the step, and a fellow in the
crowd aimed a potato at him, and hit him in the eye, at which the poor
little wretch set up a shout; the man laughed, a great big saddler’s
apprentice of the town. “Ah! you d—— little yelling Popish bastard,” he
said, and stooped to pick up another; the crowd had gathered quite between
the horses and in the inn door by this time, and the coach was brought to
a dead standstill. My lord jumped as briskly as a boy out of the door on
his side of the coach, squeezing little Harry behind it; had hold of the
potato-thrower’s collar in an instant, and the next moment the brute’s
heels were in the air, and he fell on the stones with a thump.

“You hulking coward!” says he; “you pack of screaming blackguards! how
dare you attack children, and insult women? Fling another shot at that
carriage, you sneaking pigskin cobbler, and by the Lord I’ll send my
rapier through you!”

Some of the mob cried, “Huzza, my lord!” for they knew him, and the
saddler’s man was a known bruiser, near twice as big as my lord viscount.

“Make way, there,” says he (he spoke in a high shrill voice, but with a
great air of authority). “Make way, and let her ladyship’s carriage pass.”
The men that were between the coach and the gate of the “Bell” actually
did make way, and the horses went in, my lord walking after them with his
hat on his head.

As he was going in at the gate, through which the coach had just rolled,
another cry begins of “No Popery—no Papists!” My lord turns round and
faces them once more.

“God save the king!” says he at the highest pitch of his voice. “Who dares
abuse the king’s religion? You, you d——d psalm-singing cobbler, as sure as
I’m a magistrate of this county I’ll commit you!” The fellow shrunk back,
and my lord retreated with all the honours of the day. But when the little
flurry caused by the scene was over, and the flush passed off his face, he
relapsed into his usual languor, trifled with his little dog, and yawned
when my lady spoke to him.

This mob was one of many thousands that were going about the country at
that time, huzzaing for the acquittal of the seven bishops who had been
tried just then, and about whom little Harry Esmond at that time knew
scarce anything. It was assizes at Hexton, and there was a great meeting
of the gentry at the “Bell”; and my lord’s people had their new liveries
on, and Harry a little suit of blue and silver, which he wore upon
occasions of state; and the gentlefolks came round and talked to my lord;
and a judge in a red gown, who seemed a very great personage, especially
complimented him and my lady, who was mighty grand. Harry remembers her
train borne up by her gentlewoman. There was an assembly and ball at the
great room at the “Bell”, and other young gentlemen of the county families
looked on as he did. One of them jeered him for his black eye, which was
swelled by the potato, and another called him a bastard, on which he and
Harry fell to fisticuffs. My lord’s cousin, Colonel Esmond of Walcote, was
there, and separated the two lads, a great tall gentleman with a handsome,
good-natured face. The boy did not know how nearly in after-life he should
be allied to Colonel Esmond, and how much kindness he should have to owe
him.

There was little love between the two families. My lady used not to spare
Colonel Esmond in talking of him, for reasons which have been hinted
already; but about which, at his tender age, Henry Esmond could be
expected to know nothing.

Very soon afterwards my lord and lady went to London with Mr. Holt,
leaving, however, the page behind them. The little man had the great house
of Castlewood to himself; or between him and the housekeeper, Mrs.
Worksop, an old lady who was a kinswoman of the family in some distant
way, and a Protestant, but a stanch Tory and king’s-man, as all the
Esmonds were. He used to go to school to Dr. Tusher when he was at home,
though the doctor was much occupied too. There was a great stir and
commotion everywhere, even in the little quiet village of Castlewood,
whither a party of people came from the town, who would have broken
Castlewood Chapel windows, but the village people turned out, and even old
Sievewright, the republican blacksmith, along with them: for my lady,
though she was a Papist, and had many odd ways, was kind to the tenantry,
and there was always a plenty of beef, and blankets, and medicine for the
poor at Castlewood Hall.

A kingdom was changing hands whilst my lord and lady were away. King James
was flying, the Dutchmen were coming; awful stories about them and the
Prince of Orange used old Mrs. Worksop to tell to the idle little page.

He liked the solitude of the great house very well; he had all the
play-books to read, and no Father Holt to whip him, and a hundred childish
pursuits and pastimes, without doors and within, which made this time very
pleasant.



Chapter V. My Superiors Are Engaged In Plots For The Restoration Of King
James II


Not having been able to sleep, for thinking of some lines for eels which
he had placed the night before, the lad was lying in his little bed,
waiting for the hour when the gate would be open, and he and his comrade,
Job Lockwood, the porter’s son, might go to the pond and see what fortune
had brought them. At daybreak Job was to awaken him, but his own eagerness
for the sport had served as a réveille long since—so long, that it seemed
to him as if the day never would come.

It might have been four o’clock when he heard the door of the opposite
chamber, the chaplain’s room, open, and the voice of a man coughing in the
passage. Harry jumped up, thinking for certain it was a robber, or hoping
perhaps for a ghost, and, flinging open his own door, saw before him the
chaplain’s door open, and a light inside, and a figure standing in the
doorway, in the midst of a great smoke which issued from the room.

“Who’s there?” cried out the boy, who was of a good spirit.

“_Silentium!_” whispered the other; “’tis I, my boy!” and, holding his
hand out, Harry had no difficulty in recognizing his master and friend,
Father Holt. A curtain was over the window of the chaplain’s room that
looked to the court, and Harry saw that the smoke came from a great flame
of papers which were burning in a brazier when he entered the chaplain’s
room. After giving a hasty greeting and blessing to the lad, who was
charmed to see his tutor, the father continued the burning of his papers,
drawing them from a cupboard over the mantelpiece wall, which Harry had
never seen before.

Father Holt laughed, seeing the lad’s attention fixed at once on this
hole. “That is right, Harry,” he said; “faithful little famuli see all and
say nothing. You are faithful, I know.”

“I know I would go to the stake for you,” said Harry.

“I don’t want your head,” said the father, patting it kindly; “all you
have to do is to hold your tongue. Let us burn these papers, and say
nothing to anybody. Should you like to read them?”

Harry Esmond blushed, and held down his head; he _had_ looked as the fact
was, and without thinking, at the paper before him; and though he had seen
it, could not understand a word of it, the letters being quite clear
enough, but quite without meaning. They burned the papers, beating down
the ashes in a brazier, so that scarce any traces of them remained.

Harry had been accustomed to see Father Holt in more dresses than one; it
not being safe, or worth the danger, for Popish ecclesiastics to wear
their proper dress; and he was, in consequence, in no wise astonished that
the priest should now appear before him in a riding dress, with large buff
leather boots, and a feather to his hat, plain, but such as gentlemen
wore.

“You know the secret of the cupboard,” said he, laughing, “and must be
prepared for other mysteries;” and he opened—but not a secret cupboard
this time—only a wardrobe, which he usually kept locked, and from which he
now took out two or three dresses and perukes of different colours, and a
couple of swords of a pretty make (Father Holt was an expert practitioner
with the small sword, and every day, whilst he was at home, he and his
pupil practised this exercise, in which the lad became a very great
proficient), a military coat and cloak, and a farmer’s smock, and placed
them in the large hole over the mantelpiece from which the papers had been
taken.

“If they miss the cupboard,” he said, “they will not find these; if they
find them, they’ll tell no tales, except that Father Holt wore more suits
of clothes than one. All Jesuits do. You know what deceivers we are,
Harry.”

Harry was alarmed at the notion that his friend was about to leave him;
but “No”, the priest said; “I may very likely come back with my lord in a
few days. We are to be tolerated; we are not to be persecuted. But they
may take a fancy to pay a visit at Castlewood ere our return; and, as
gentlemen of my cloth are suspected, they might choose to examine my
papers, which concern nobody—at least, not them.” And to this day, whether
the papers in cipher related to politics, or to the affairs of that
mysterious society whereof Father Holt was a member, his pupil, Harry
Esmond, remains in entire ignorance.

The rest of his goods, his small wardrobe, &c., Holt left untouched on his
shelves and in his cupboard, taking down—with a laugh, however—and
flinging into the brazier, where he only half burned them, some
theological treatises which he had been writing against the English
divines. “And now,” said he, “Henry, my son, you may testify, with a safe
conscience, that you saw me burning Latin sermons the last time I was here
before I went away to London; and it will be daybreak directly, and I must
be away before Lockwood is stirring.”

“Will not Lockwood let you out, sir?” Esmond asked. Holt laughed; he was
never more gay or good-humoured than when in the midst of action or
danger.

“Lockwood knows nothing of my being here, mind you,” he said; “nor would
you, you little wretch, had you slept better. You must forget that I have
been here; and now farewell. Close the door, and go to your own room, and
don’t come out till—stay, why should you not know one secret more? I know
you will never betray me.”

In the chaplain’s room were two windows; the one looking into the court
facing westwards to the fountain; the other, a small casement strongly
barred, and looking on to the green in front of the Hall. This window was
too high to reach from the ground; but, mounting on a buffet which stood
beneath it, Father Holt showed me how, by pressing on the base of the
window, the whole framework of lead, glass, and iron stanchions, descended
into a cavity worked below, from which it could be drawn and restored to
its usual place from without; a broken pane being purposely open to admit
the hand which was to work upon the spring of the machine.

“When I am gone,” Father Holt said, “you may push away the buffet, so that
no one may fancy that an exit has been made that way; lock the door; place
the key—where shall we put the key?—under _Chrysostom_ on the book-shelf;
and if any ask for it, say I keep it there, and told you where to find it,
if you had need to go to my room. The descent is easy down the wall into
the ditch; and so, once more farewell, until I see thee again, my dear
son.” And with this the intrepid father mounted the buffet with great
agility and briskness, stepped across the window, lifting up the bars and
framework again from the other side, and only leaving room for Harry
Esmond to stand on tiptoe and kiss his hand before the casement closed,
the bars fixing as firm as ever seemingly in the stone arch overhead. When
Father Holt next arrived at Castlewood, it was by the public gate on
horseback; and he never so much as alluded to the existence of the private
issue to Harry, except when he had need of a private messenger from
within, for which end, no doubt, he had instructed his young pupil in the
means of quitting the Hall.

Esmond, young as he was, would have died sooner than betray his friend and
master, as Mr. Holt well knew; for he had tried the boy more than once,
putting temptations in his way, to see whether he would yield to them and
confess afterwards, or whether he would resist them, as he did sometimes,
or whether he would lie, which he never did. Holt instructing the boy on
this point, however, that if to keep silence is not to lie, as it
certainly is not, yet silence is, after all, equivalent to a negation—and
therefore a downright No, in the interest of justice or your friend, and
in reply to a question that may be prejudicial to either, is not criminal,
but, on the contrary, praiseworthy; and as lawful a way as the other of
eluding a wrongful demand. For instance (says he), suppose a good citizen,
who had seen his Majesty take refuge there, had been asked, “Is King
Charles up that oak-tree?” His duty would have been not to say, Yes—so
that the Cromwellians should seize the king and murder him like his
father—but No; his Majesty being private in the tree, and therefore not to
be seen there by loyal eyes: all which instruction, in religion and
morals, as well as in the rudiments of the tongues and sciences, the boy
took eagerly and with gratitude from his tutor. When, then, Holt was gone,
and told Harry not to see him, it was as if he had never been. And he had
this answer pat when he came to be questioned a few days after.

The Prince of Orange was then at Salisbury, as young Esmond learned from
seeing Doctor Tusher in his best cassock (though the roads were muddy, and
he never was known to wear his silk, only his stuff one, a-horseback),
with a great orange cockade in his broad-leafed hat, and Nahum, his clerk,
ornamented with a like decoration. The doctor was walking up and down, in
front of his parsonage, when little Esmond saw him, and heard him say he
was going to pay his duty to his highness the prince, as he mounted his
pad and rode away with Nahum behind. The village people had orange
cockades too, and his friend the blacksmith’s laughing daughter pinned one
into Harry’s old hat, which he tore out indignantly when they bid him to
cry, “God save the Prince of Orange and the Protestant religion!” but the
people only laughed, for they liked the boy in the village, where his
solitary condition moved the general pity, and where he found friendly
welcomes and faces in many houses. Father Holt had many friends there too,
for he not only would fight the blacksmith at theology, never losing his
temper, but laughing the whole time in his pleasant way, but he cured him
of an ague with quinquina, and was always ready with a kind word for any
man that asked it, so that they said in the village ’twas a pity the two
were Papists.

The director and the Vicar of Castlewood agreed very well; indeed, the
former was a perfectly bred gentleman, and it was the latter’s business to
agree with everybody. Doctor Tusher and the lady’s maid, his spouse, had a
boy who was about the age of little Esmond; and there was such a
friendship between the lads, as propinquity and tolerable kindness and
good humour on either side would be pretty sure to occasion. Tom Tusher
was sent off early however to a school in London, whither his father took
him and a volume of sermons in the first year of the reign of King James;
and Tom returned but once, a year afterwards, to Castlewood for many years
of his scholastic and collegiate life. Thus there was less danger to Tom
of a perversion of his faith by the director, who scarce ever saw him,
than there was to Harry, who constantly was in the vicar’s company; but as
long as Harry’s religion was his Majesty’s, and my lord’s, and my lady’s,
the doctor said gravely, it should not be for him to disturb or disquiet
him: it was far from him to say that his Majesty’s Church was not a branch
of the Catholic Church; upon which Father Holt used, according to his
custom, to laugh and say, that the Holy Church throughout all the world,
and the noble army of martyrs, were very much obliged to the doctor.

It was while Dr. Tusher was away at Salisbury that there came a troop of
dragoons with orange scarfs, and quartered in Castlewood, and some of them
came up to the Hall, where they took possession, robbing nothing however
beyond the hen-house and the beer-cellar; and only insisting upon going
through the house and looking for papers. The first room they asked to
look at was Father Holt’s room, of which Harry Esmond brought the key, and
they opened the drawers and the cupboards, and tossed over the papers and
clothes—but found nothing except his books and clothes, and the vestments
in a box by themselves, with which the dragoons made merry, to Harry
Esmond’s horror. And to the questions which the gentleman put to Harry, he
replied, that Father Holt was a very kind man to him, and a very learned
man, and Harry supposed would tell him none of his secrets if he had any.
He was about eleven years old at this time, and looked as innocent as boys
of his age.

The family were away more than six months, and when they returned they
were in the deepest state of dejection, for King James had been banished,
the Prince of Orange was on the throne, and the direst persecutions of
those of the Catholic faith were apprehended by my lady, who said she did
not believe that there was a word of truth in the promises of toleration
that Dutch monster made, or in a single word the perjured wretch said. My
lord and lady were in a manner prisoners in their own house; so her
ladyship gave the little page to know, who was by this time growing of an
age to understand what was passing about him, and something of the
characters of the people he lived with.

“We are prisoners,” says she; “in everything but chains, we are prisoners.
Let them come, let them consign me to dungeons, or strike off my head from
this poor little throat” (and she clasped it in her long fingers). “The
blood of the Esmonds will always flow freely for their kings. We are not
like the Churchills—the Judases, who kiss their master and betray him. We
know how to suffer, how even to forgive in the royal cause” (no doubt it
was to that fatal business of losing the place of Groom of the Posset to
which her ladyship alluded, as she did half a dozen times in the day).
“Let the tyrant of Orange bring his rack and his odious Dutch tortures—the
beast! the wretch! I spit upon him and defy him. Cheerfully will I lay
this head upon the block; cheerfully will I accompany my lord to the
scaffold: we will cry, ‘God save King James!’ with our dying breath, and
smile in the face of the executioner.” And she told her page a hundred
times at least of the particulars of the last interview which she had with
his Majesty.

“I flung myself before my liege’s feet,” she said, “at Salisbury. I
devoted myself—my husband—my house, to his cause. Perhaps he remembered
old times, when Isabella Esmond was young and fair; perhaps he recalled
the day when ’twas not _I_ that knelt—at least he spoke to me with a voice
that reminded _me_ of days gone by. ‘Egad!’ said his Majesty, ‘you should
go to the Prince of Orange, if you want anything.’ ‘No, sire,’ I replied,
‘I would not kneel to a usurper; the Esmond that would have served your
Majesty will never be groom to a traitor’s posset.’ The royal exile
smiled, even in the midst of his misfortune; he deigned to raise me with
words of consolation. The viscount, my husband, himself, could not be
angry at the august salute with which he honoured me!”

The public misfortune had the effect of making my lord and his lady better
friends than they ever had been since their courtship. My lord viscount
had shown both loyalty and spirit, when these were rare qualities in the
dispirited party about the king; and the praise he got elevated him not a
little in his wife’s good opinion, and perhaps in his own. He wakened up
from the listless and supine life which he had been leading; was always
riding to and fro in consultation with this friend or that of the king’s;
the page of course knowing little of his doings, but remarking only his
greater cheerfulness and altered demeanour.

Father Holt came to the Hall constantly, but officiated no longer openly
as chaplain; he was always fetching and carrying: strangers, military and
ecclesiastic (Harry knew the latter though they came in all sorts of
disguises), were continually arriving and departing. My lord made long
absences and sudden reappearances, using sometimes the means of exit which
Father Holt had employed, though how often the little window in the
chaplain’s room let in or let out my lord and his friends, Harry could not
tell. He stoutly kept his promise to the father of not prying, and if at
midnight from his little room he heard noises of persons stirring in the
next chamber, he turned round to the wall and hid his curiosity under his
pillow until it fell asleep. Of course he could not help remarking that
the priest’s journeys were constant, and understanding by a hundred signs
that some active though secret business employed him: what this was may
pretty well be guessed by what soon happened to my lord.

No garrison or watch was put into Castlewood when my lord came back, but a
guard was in the village; and one or other of them was always on the Green
keeping a look-out on our great gate, and those who went out and in.
Lockwood said that at night especially every person who came in or went
out was watched by the outlying sentries. ’Twas lucky that we had a gate
which their worships knew nothing about. My lord and Father Holt must have
made constant journeys at night: once or twice little Harry acted as their
messenger and discreet little aide de camp. He remembers he was bidden to
go into the village with his fishing-rod, enter certain houses, ask for a
drink of water, and tell the good man, “There would be a horse-market at
Newbury next Thursday,” and so carry the same message on to the next house
on his list.

He did not know what the message meant at the time, nor what was
happening: which may as well, however, for clearness’ sake, be explained
here. The Prince of Orange being gone to Ireland, where the king was ready
to meet him with a great army, it was determined that a great rising of
his Majesty’s party should take place in this country: and my lord was to
head the force in our county. Of late he had taken a greater lead in
affairs than before, having the indefatigable Mr. Holt at his elbow, and
my lady viscountess strongly urging him on; and my Lord Sark being in the
Tower a prisoner, and Sir Wilmot Crawley, of Queen’s Crawley, having gone
over to the Prince of Orange’s side—my lord became the most considerable
person in our part of the county for the affairs of the king.

It was arranged that the regiment of Scots Greys and Dragoons, then
quartered at Newbury, should declare for the king on a certain day, when
likewise the gentry affected to his Majesty’s cause were to come in with
their tenants and adherents to Newbury, march upon the Dutch troops at
Reading under Ginckel; and, these overthrown, and their indomitable little
master away in Ireland, ’twas thought that our side might move on London
itself, and a confident victory was predicted for the king.

As these great matters were in agitation, my lord lost his listless manner
and seemed to gain health; my lady did not scold him, Mr. Holt came to and
fro, busy always; and little Harry longed to have been a few inches
taller, that he might draw a sword in this good cause.

One day, it must have been about the month of July, 1690, my lord, in a
great horseman’s coat, under which Harry could see the shining of a steel
breastplate he had on, called little Harry to him, put the hair off the
child’s forehead, and kissed him, and bade God bless him in such an
affectionate way as he never had used before. Father Holt blessed him too,
and then they took leave of my lady viscountess, who came from her
apartment with a pocket-handkerchief to her eyes, and her gentlewoman and
Mrs. Tusher supporting her.

“You are going to—to ride,” says she. “Oh, that I might come too!—but in
my situation I am forbidden horse exercise.”

“We kiss my lady marchioness’s hand,” says Mr. Holt.

“My lord, God speed you!” she said, stepping up and embracing my lord in a
grand manner. “Mr. Holt, I ask your blessing:” and she knelt down for
that, whilst Mrs. Tusher tossed her head up.

Mr. Holt gave the same benediction to the little page, who went down and
held my lord’s stirrups for him to mount; there were two servants waiting
there too—and they rode out of Castlewood gate.

As they crossed the bridge Harry could see an officer in scarlet ride up
touching his hat, and address my lord.

The party stopped, and came to some parley or discussion, which presently
ended, my lord putting his horse into a canter after taking off his hat
and making a bow to the officer who rode alongside him step for step: the
trooper accompanying him, falling back, and riding with my lord’s two men.
They cantered over the Green, and behind the elms (my lord waving his
hand, Harry thought), and so they disappeared.

That evening we had a great panic, the cow-boy coming at milking-time
riding one of our horses, which he had found grazing at the outer park
wall.

All night my lady viscountess was in a very quiet and subdued mood. She
scarce found fault with anybody; she played at cards for six hours; little
page Esmond went to sleep. He prayed for my lord and the good cause before
closing his eyes.

It was quite in the grey of the morning when the porter’s bell rang, and
old Lockwood waking up, let in one of my lord’s servants, who had gone
with him in the morning, and who returned with a melancholy story.

The officer who rode up to my lord had, it appeared, said to him, that it
was his duty to inform his lordship that he was not under arrest, but
under surveillance, and to request him not to ride abroad that day.

My lord replied that riding was good for his health, that if the captain
chose to accompany him he was welcome, and it was then that he made a bow,
and they cantered away together.

When he came on to Wansey Down, my lord all of a sudden pulled up, and the
party came to a halt at the crossway.

“Sir” says he to the officer, “we are four to two; will you be so kind as
to take that road, and leave me to go mine?”

“Your road is mine, my lord,” says the officer.

“Then,” says my lord, but he had no time to say more, for the officer,
drawing a pistol, snapped it at his lordship; as at the same moment Father
Holt, drawing a pistol, shot the officer through the head.

It was done, and the man dead in an instant of time. The orderly, gazing
at the officer, looked scared for a moment, and galloped away for his
life.

“Fire! fire!” cries out Father Holt, sending another shot after the
trooper, but the two servants were too much surprised to use their pieces,
and my lord calling to them to hold their hands, the fellow got away.

“Mr. Holt, _qui pensoit à tout_,” says Blaise, “gets off his horse,
examines the pockets of the dead officer for papers, gives his money to us
two, and says, ‘The wine is drawn, monsieur le marquis,’—why did he say
marquis to monsieur le vicomte?—‘we must drink it.’

“The poor gentleman’s horse was a better one than that I rode,” Blaise
continues; “Mr. Holt bids me get on him, and so I gave a cut to Whitefoot,
and she trotted home. We rode on towards Newbury; we heard firing towards
midday: at two o’clock a horseman comes up to us as we were giving our
cattle water at an inn—and says, All is done. The Ecossois declared an
hour too soon—General Ginckel was down upon them. The whole thing was at
an end.

“ ‘And we’ve shot an officer on duty, and let his orderly escape,’ says my
lord.

“ ‘Blaise,’ says Mr. Holt, writing two lines on his table-book, one for my
lady, and one for you, Master Harry; ‘you must go back to Castlewood, and
deliver these,’ and behold me.”

And he gave Harry the two papers. He read that to himself, which only
said, “Burn the papers in the cupboard, burn this. You know nothing about
anything.” Harry read this, ran upstairs to his mistress’s apartment,
where her gentlewoman slept near to the door, made her bring a light and
wake my lady, into whose hands he gave the paper. She was a wonderful
object to look at in her night attire, nor had Harry ever seen the like.

As soon as she had the paper in her hand, Harry stepped back to the
chaplain’s room, opened the secret cupboard over the fireplace, burned all
the papers in it, and, as he had seen the priest do before, took down one
of his reverence’s manuscript sermons, and half burnt that in the brazier.
By the time the papers were quite destroyed it was daylight. Harry ran
back to his mistress again. Her gentlewoman ushered him again into her
ladyship’s chamber; she told him (from behind her nuptial curtains) to bid
the coach be got ready, and that she would ride away anon.

But the mysteries of her ladyship’s toilet were as awfully long on this
day as on any other, and, long after the coach was ready, my lady was
still attiring herself. And just as the viscountess stepped forth from her
room, ready for departure, young Job Lockwood comes running up from the
village with news that a lawyer, three officers, and twenty or
four-and-twenty soldiers, were marching thence upon the house. Job had but
two minutes the start of them, and, ere he had well told his story, the
troop rode into our courtyard.



Chapter VI. The Issue Of The Plots.—The Death Of Thomas, Third Viscount Of
Castlewood; And The Imprisonment Of His Viscountess


At first my lady was for dying like Mary, Queen of Scots (to whom she
fancied she bore a resemblance in beauty), and, stroking her scraggy neck,
said, “They will find Isabel of Castlewood is equal to her fate.” Her
gentlewoman, Victoire, persuaded her that her prudent course was, as she
could not fly, to receive the troops as though she suspected nothing, and
that her chamber was the best place wherein to await them. So her black
japan casket which Harry was to carry to the coach was taken back to her
ladyship’s chamber, whither the maid and mistress retired. Victoire came
out presently, bidding the page to say her ladyship was ill, confined to
her bed with the rheumatism.

By this time the soldiers had reached Castlewood. Harry Esmond saw them
from the window of the tapestry parlour; a couple of sentinels were posted
at the gate—a half-dozen more walked towards the stable; and some others,
preceded by their commander, and a man in black, a lawyer probably, were
conducted by one of the servants to the stair leading up to the part of
the house which my lord and lady inhabited.

So the captain, a handsome kind man, and the lawyer, came through the
ante-room to the tapestry parlour, and where now was nobody but young
Harry Esmond, the page.

“Tell your mistress, little man,” says the captain kindly, “that we must
speak to her.”

“My mistress is ill abed,” said the page.

“What complaint has she?” asked the captain.

The boy said, “the rheumatism!”

“Rheumatism! that’s a sad complaint,” continues the good-natured captain;
“and the coach is in the yard to fetch the doctor, I suppose?”

“I don’t know,” says the boy.

“And how long has her ladyship been ill?”

“I don’t know,” says the boy.

“When did my lord go away?”

“Yesterday night.”

“With Father Holt?”

“With Mr. Holt.”

“And which way did they travel?” asks the lawyer.

“They travelled without me,” says the page.

“We must see Lady Castlewood.”

“I have orders that nobody goes in to her ladyship—she is sick,” says the
page; but at this moment Victoire came out. “Hush!” says she; and, as if
not knowing that any one was near, “What’s this noise?” says she. “Is this
gentleman the doctor?”

“Stuff! we must see Lady Castlewood,” says the lawyer, pushing by.

The curtains of her ladyship’s room were down, and the chamber dark, and
she was in bed with a nightcap on her head, and propped up by her pillows,
looking none the less ghastly because of the red which was still on her
cheeks, and which she could not afford to forgo.

“Is that the doctor?” she said.

“There is no use with this deception, madam,” Captain Westbury said (for
so he was named). “My duty is to arrest the person of Thomas, Viscount
Castlewood, a nonjuring peer—of Robert Tusher, Vicar of Castlewood—and
Henry Holt, known under various other names and designations, a Jesuit
priest, who officiated as chaplain here in the late king’s time, and is
now at the head of the conspiracy which was about to break out in this
country against the authority of their Majesties King William and Queen
Mary—and my orders are to search the house for such papers or traces of
the conspiracy as may be found here. Your ladyship will please to give me
your keys, and it will be as well for yourself that you should help us, in
every way, in our search.”

“You see, sir, that I have the rheumatism, and cannot move,” said the
lady, looking uncommonly ghastly as she sat up in her bed, where however
she had had her cheeks painted, and a new cap put on, so that she might at
least look her best when the officers came.

“I shall take leave to place a sentinel in the chamber, so that your
ladyship, in case you should wish to rise, may have an arm to lean on,”
Captain Westbury said. “Your woman will show me where I am to look;” and
Madame Victoire, chattering in her half-French and half-English jargon,
opened while the captain examined one drawer after another; but, as Harry
Esmond thought, rather carelessly, with a smile on his face, as if he was
only conducting the examination for form’s sake.

Before one of the cupboards Victoire flung herself down, stretching out
her arms, and, with a piercing shriek, cried, “_Non, jamais, monsieur
l’officier! Jamais!_ I will rather die than let you see this wardrobe.”

But Captain Westbury would open it, still with a smile on his face, which,
when the box was opened, turned into a fair burst of laughter. It
contained—not papers regarding the conspiracy—but my lady’s wigs, washes,
and rouge-pots, and Victoire said men were monsters, as the captain went
on with his perquisition. He tapped the back to see whether or no it was
hollow, and as he thrust his hands into the cupboard, my lady from her bed
called out with a voice that did not sound like that of a very sick woman,
“Is it your commission to insult ladies as well as to arrest gentlemen,
captain?”

“These articles are only dangerous when worn by your ladyship,” the
captain said with a low bow, and a mock grin of politeness. “I have found
nothing which concerns the Government as yet—only the weapons with which
beauty is authorized to kill,” says he, pointing to a wig with his
sword-tip. “We must now proceed to search the rest of the house.”

“You are not going to leave that wretch in the room with me,” cried my
lady, pointing to the soldier.

“What can I do, madam? Somebody you must have to smooth your pillow and
bring your medicine—permit me——”

“Sir!” screamed out my lady—

“Madam, if you are too ill to leave the bed,” the captain then said,
rather sternly, “I must have in four of my men to lift you off in the
sheet: I must examine this bed, in a word; papers may be hidden in a bed
as elsewhere; we know that very well and——”

Here it was her ladyship’s turn to shriek, for the captain, with his fist
shaking the pillows and bolsters, at last came to “burn”, as they say in
the play of forfeits, and wrenching away one of the pillows, said, “Look,
did not I tell you so? Here is a pillow stuffed with paper.”

“Some villain has betrayed us,” cried out my lady, sitting up in the bed,
showing herself full dressed under her night-rail.

“And now your ladyship can move, I am sure; permit me to give you my hand
to rise. You will have to travel for some distance, as far as Hexton
Castle to-night. Will you have your coach? Your woman shall attend you if
you like—and the japan-box?”

“Sir! you don’t strike a _man_ when he is down,” said my lady, with some
dignity: “can you not spare a woman?”

“Your ladyship must please to rise and let me search the bed,” said the
captain; “there is no more time to lose in bandying talk.”

And, without more ado, the gaunt old woman got up. Harry Esmond
recollected to the end of his life that figure, with the brocade dress and
the white night-rail, and the gold-clocked red stockings, and white
red-heeled shoes sitting up in the bed, and stepping down from it. The
trunks were ready packed for departure in her ante-room, and the horses
ready harnessed in the stable: about all which the captain seemed to know,
by information got from some quarter or other; and, whence, Esmond could
make a pretty shrewd guess in after-times, when Dr. Tusher complained that
King William’s Government had basely treated him for services done in that
cause.

And here he may relate, though he was then too young to know all that was
happening, what the papers contained, of which Captain Westbury had made a
seizure, and which papers had been transferred from the japan-box to the
bed when the officers arrived.

There was a list, of gentlemen of the county in Father Holt’s
handwriting—Mr. Freeman’s (King James’s) friends—a similar paper being
found among those of Sir John Fenwick and Mr. Coplestone, who suffered
death for this conspiracy.

There was a patent conferring the title of Marquis of Esmond on my Lord
Castlewood, and the heirs male of his body; his appointment as lord
lieutenant of the county, and major-general.(7)

There were various letters from the nobility and gentry, some ardent and
some doubtful, in the king’s service; and (very luckily for him) two
letters concerning Colonel Francis Esmond; one from Father Holt, which
said, “I have been to see this colonel at his house at Walcote near to
Wells, where he resides since the king’s departure, and pressed him very
eagerly in Mr. Freeman’s cause, showing him the great advantage he would
have by trading with that merchant, offering him large premiums there as
agreed between us. But he says no: he considers Mr. Freeman the head of
the firm, will never trade against him or embark with any other trading
company, but considers his duty was done when Mr. Freeman left England.
This colonel seems to care more for his wife and his beagles than for
affairs. He asked me much about young H. E., ‘that bastard,’ as he called
him: doubting my lord’s intentions respecting him. I reassured him on this
head, stating what I knew of the lad, and our intentions respecting him,
but with regard to Freeman he was inflexible.”

And another letter was from Colonel Esmond to his kinsman, to say that one
Captain Holton had been with him offering him large bribes to join, _you
know who_, and saying that the head of the house of Castlewood was deeply
engaged in that quarter. But for his part he had broke his sword when the
K. left the country, and would never again fight in that quarrel. The P.
of O. was a man, at least, of a noble courage, and his duty and, as he
thought, every Englishman’s, was to keep the country quiet, and the French
out of it: and, in fine, that he would have nothing to do with the scheme.

Of the existence of these two letters and the contents of the pillow,
Colonel Frank Esmond, who became Viscount Castlewood, told Henry Esmond
afterwards, when the letters were shown to his lordship, who congratulated
himself, as he had good reason, that he had not joined in the scheme which
proved so fatal to many concerned in it. But, naturally, the lad knew
little about these circumstances when they happened under his eyes: only
being aware that his patron and his mistress were in some trouble, which
had caused the flight of the one, and the apprehension of the other by the
officers of King William.

The seizure of the papers effected, the gentlemen did not pursue their
further search through Castlewood house very rigorously. They examined Mr.
Holt’s room, being led thither by his pupil, who showed, as the father had
bidden him, the place where the key of his chamber lay, opened the door
for the gentlemen, and conducted them into the room.

When the gentlemen came to the half-burned papers in the brazier, they
examined them eagerly enough, and their young guide was a little amused at
their perplexity.

“What are these?” says one.

“They’re written in a foreign language,” says the lawyer. “What are you
laughing at, little whelp?” adds he, turning round as he saw the boy
smile.

“Mr. Holt said they were sermons,” Harry said, “and bade me to burn them;”
which indeed was true of those papers.

“Sermons, indeed—it’s treason, I would lay a wager,” cries the lawyer.

“Egad! it’s Greek to me,” says Captain Westbury. “Can you read it, little
boy?”

“Yes, sir, a little,” Harry said.

“Then read, and read in English, sir, on your peril,” said the lawyer. And
Harry began to translate:—

“Hath not one of your own writers said, ‘The children of Adam are now
labouring as much as he himself ever did, about the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil, shaking the boughs thereof, and seeking the fruit, being
for the most part unmindful of the tree of life.’ O blind generation! ’tis
this tree of knowledge to which the serpent has led you”—and here the boy
was obliged to stop, the rest of the page being charred by the fire: and
asked of the lawyer—“Shall I go on, sir?”

The lawyer said—“This boy is deeper than he seems: who knows that he is
not laughing at us?”

“Let’s have in Dick the Scholar,” cried Captain Westbury, laughing; and he
called to a trooper out of the window—“Ho, Dick, come in here and
construe.”

A thick-set soldier, with a square good-humoured face, came in at the
summons, saluting his officer.

“Tell us what is this, Dick,” says the lawyer.

“My name is Steele, sir,” says the soldier. “I may be Dick for my friends,
but I don’t name gentlemen of your cloth amongst them.”

“Well then, Steele.”

“Mr. Steele, sir, if you please. When you address a gentleman of his
Majesty’s Horse Guards, be pleased not to be so familiar.”

“I didn’t know, sir,” said the lawyer.

“How should you? I take it you are not accustomed to meet with gentlemen,”
says the trooper.

“Hold thy prate, and read that bit of paper,” says Westbury.

“’Tis Latin,” says Dick, glancing at it, and again saluting his officer,
“and from a sermon of Mr. Cudworth’s,” and he translated the words pretty
much as Henry Esmond had rendered them.

“What a young scholar you are,” says the captain to the boy.

“Depend on’t, he knows more than he tells,” says the lawyer. “I think we
will pack him off in the coach with old Jezebel.”

“For construing a bit of Latin?” said the captain very good-naturedly.

“I would as lief go there as anywhere,” Harry Esmond said, simply, “for
there is nobody to care for me.”

There must have been something touching in the child’s voice, or in this
description of his solitude—for the captain looked at him very
good-naturedly, and the trooper, called Steele, put his hand kindly on the
lad’s head, and said some words in the Latin tongue.

“What does he say?” says the lawyer.

“Faith, ask Dick himself,” cried Captain Westbury.

“I said I was not ignorant of misfortune myself, and had learned to
succour the miserable, and that’s not _your_ trade, Mr. Sheepskin,” said
the trooper.

“You had better leave Dick the Scholar alone, Mr. Corbet,” the captain
said. And Harry Esmond, always touched by a kind face and kind word, felt
very grateful to this good-natured champion.

The horses were by this time harnessed to the coach; and the countess and
Victoire came down and were put into the vehicle. This woman, who
quarrelled with Harry Esmond all day, was melted at parting with him, and
called him “dear angel”, and “poor infant”, and a hundred other names.

The viscountess, giving him her lean hand to kiss, bade him always be
faithful to the house of Esmond. “If evil should happen to my lord,” says
she, “his _successor_ I trust will be found, and give you protection.
Situated as I am, they will not dare wreak their vengeance on me _now_.”
And she kissed a medal she wore with great fervour, and Henry Esmond knew
not in the least what her meaning was; but hath since learned that, old as
she was, she was for ever expecting, by the good offices of saints and
relics, to have an heir to the title of Esmond.

Harry Esmond was too young to have been introduced into the secrets of
politics in which his patrons were implicated; for they put but few
questions to the boy (who was little of stature, and looked much younger
than his age), and such questions as they put he answered cautiously
enough, and professing even more ignorance than he had, for which his
examiners willingly enough gave him credit. He did not say a word about
the window or the cupboard over the fireplace; and these secrets quite
escaped the eyes of the searchers.

So then my lady was consigned to her coach, and sent off to Hexton, with
her woman and the man of law to bear her company, a couple of troopers
riding on either side of the coach. And Harry was left behind at the Hall,
belonging as it were to nobody, and quite alone in the world. The captain
and a guard of men remained in possession there; and the soldiers, who
were very good-natured and kind, ate my lord’s mutton and drank his wine,
and made themselves comfortable, as they well might do, in such pleasant
quarters.

The captains had their dinner served in my lord’s tapestry parlour, and
poor little Harry thought his duty was to wait upon Captain Westbury’s
chair, as his custom had been to serve his lord when he sat there.

After the departure of the countess, Dick the Scholar took Harry Esmond
under his special protection, and would examine him in his humanities, and
talk to him both of French and Latin, in which tongues the lad found, and
his new friend was willing enough to acknowledge, that he was even more
proficient than Scholar Dick. Hearing that he had learned them from a
Jesuit, in the praise of whom and whose goodness Harry was never tired of
speaking, Dick, rather to the boy’s surprise, who began to have an early
shrewdness, like many children bred up alone, showed a great deal of
theological science, and knowledge of the points at issue between the two
Churches; so that he and Harry would have hours of controversy together,
in which the boy was certainly worsted by the arguments of this singular
trooper. “I am no common soldier,” Dick would say, and indeed it was easy
to see by his learning, breeding, and many accomplishments, that he was
not. “I am of one of the most ancient families in the Empire; I have had
my education at a famous school, and a famous university; I learned my
first rudiments of Latin near to Smithfield, in London, where the martyrs
were roasted.”

“You hanged as many of ours,” interposed Harry; “and, for the matter of
persecution, Father Holt told me that a young gentleman of Edinburgh,
eighteen years of age, student at the college there, was hanged for heresy
only last year, though he recanted, and solemnly asked pardon for his
errors.”

“Faith! there has been too much persecution on both sides: but ’twas you
taught us.”

“Nay, ’twas the pagans began it,” cried the lad, and began to instance a
number of saints of the Church, from the Protomartyr downwards—“this one’s
fire went out under him: that one’s oil cooled in the cauldron: at a third
holy head the executioner chopped three times and it would not come off.
Show us martyrs in _your_ Church for whom such miracles have been done.”

“Nay,” says the trooper gravely, “the miracles of the first three
centuries belong to my Church as well as yours, Master Papist,” and then
added, with something of a smile upon his countenance, and a queer look at
Harry—“And yet, my little catechizer, I have sometimes thought about those
miracles, that there was not much good in them, since the victim’s head
always finished by coming off at the third or fourth chop, and the
cauldron, if it did not boil one day, boiled the next. Howbeit, in our
times, the Church has lost that questionable advantage of respites. There
never was a shower to put out Ridley’s fire, nor an angel to turn the edge
of Campion’s axe. The rack tore the limbs of Southwell the Jesuit and
Sympson the Protestant alike. For faith, everywhere multitudes die
willingly enough. I have read in Monsieur Rycaut’s _History of the Turks_,
of thousands of Mahomet’s followers rushing upon death in battle as upon
certain Paradise; and in the Great Mogul’s dominions people fling
themselves by hundreds under the cars of the idols annually, and the
widows burn themselves on their husbands’ bodies, as ’tis well known. ’Tis
not the dying for a faith that’s so hard, Master Harry—every man of every
nation has done that—’tis the living up to it that is difficult, as I know
to my cost,” he added, with a sigh. “And ah!” he added, “my poor lad, I am
not strong enough to convince thee by my life—though to die for my
religion would give me the greatest of joys—but I had a dear friend in
Magdalen College in Oxford; I wish Joe Addison were here to convince thee,
as he quickly could—for I think he’s a match for the whole College of
Jesuits; and what’s more, in his life too. In that very sermon of Dr.
Cudworth’s which your priest was quoting from, and which suffered
martyrdom in the brazier,” Dick added, with a smile, “I had a thought of
wearing the black coat (but was ashamed of my life you see, and took to
this sorry red one)—I have often thought of Joe Addison—Doctor Cudworth
says, ‘A good conscience is the best looking-glass of Heaven’—and there’s
a serenity in my friend’s face which always reflects it—I wish you could
see him, Harry.”

“Did he do you a great deal of good?” asked the lad, simply.

“He might have done,” said the other—“at least he taught me to see and
approve better things. ’Tis my own fault, _deteriora sequi_.”

“You seem very good,” the boy said.

“I’m not what I seem, alas!” answered the trooper—and indeed, as it turned
out, poor Dick told the truth—for that very night, at supper in the hall,
where the gentlemen of the troop took their repasts, and passed most part
of their days dicing and smoking of tobacco, and singing and cursing, over
the Castlewood ale—Harry Esmond found Dick the Scholar in a woful state of
drunkenness. He hiccuped out a sermon; and his laughing companions bade
him sing a hymn, on which Dick, swearing he would run the scoundrel
through the body who insulted his religion, made for his sword, which was
hanging on the wall, and fell down flat on the floor under it, saying to
Harry, who ran forward to help him, “Ah, little Papist, I wish Joseph
Addison was here!”

Though the troopers of the king’s Life Guards were all gentlemen, yet the
rest of the gentlemen seemed ignorant and vulgar boors to Harry Esmond,
with the exception of this good-natured Corporal Steele the Scholar, and
Captain Westbury and Lieutenant Trant, who were always kind to the lad.
They remained for some weeks or months encamped in Castlewood, and Harry
learned from them, from time to time, how the lady at Hexton Castle was
treated, and the particulars of her confinement there. ’Tis known that
King William was disposed to deal very leniently with the gentry who
remained faithful to the old king’s cause; and no prince usurping a crown,
as his enemies said he did (righteously taking it as I think now), ever
caused less blood to be shed. As for women-conspirators, he kept spies on
the least dangerous, and locked up the others. Lady Castlewood had the
best rooms in Hexton Castle, and the gaoler’s garden to walk in; and
though she repeatedly desired to be led out to execution, like Mary Queen
of Scots, there never was any thought of taking her painted old head off,
or any desire to do aught but keep her person in security.

And it appeared she found that some were friends in her misfortune, whom
she had, in her prosperity, considered as her worst enemies. Colonel
Francis Esmond, my lord’s cousin and her ladyship’s, who had married the
Dean of Winchester’s daughter, and, since King James’s departure out of
England, had lived not very far away from Hexton town, hearing of his
kinswoman’s strait, and being friends with Colonel Brice, commanding for
King William in Hexton, and with the Church dignitaries there, came to
visit her ladyship in prison, offering to his uncle’s daughter any
friendly services which lay in his power. And he brought his lady and
little daughter to see the prisoner, to the latter of whom, a child of
great beauty, and many winning ways, the old viscountess took not a little
liking, although between her ladyship and the child’s mother there was
little more love than formerly. There are some injuries which women never
forgive one another; and Madam Francis Esmond, in marrying her cousin, had
done one of those irretrievable wrongs to Lady Castlewood. But as she was
now humiliated, and in misfortune, Madam Francis could allow a truce to
her enmity, and could be kind for a while, at least, to her husband’s
discarded mistress. So the little Beatrix, her daughter, was permitted
often to go and visit the imprisoned viscountess, who, in so far as the
child and its father were concerned, got to abate in her anger towards
that branch of the Castlewood family. And the letters of Colonel Esmond
coming to light, as has been said, and his conduct being known to the
king’s council, the colonel was put in a better position with the existing
Government than he had ever before been; any suspicions regarding his
loyalty were entirely done away; and so he was enabled to be of more
service to his kinswoman than he could otherwise have been.

And now there befell an event by which this lady recovered her liberty,
and the house of Castlewood got a new owner, and fatherless little Harry
Esmond a new and most kind protector and friend. Whatever that secret was
which Harry was to hear from my lord, the boy never heard it; for that
night when Father Holt arrived, and carried my lord away with him, was the
last on which Harry ever saw his patron. What happened to my lord may be
briefly told here. Having found the horses at the place where they were
lying, my lord and Father Holt rode together to Chatteris, where they had
temporary refuge with one of the father’s penitents in that city; but the
pursuit being hot for them, and the reward for the apprehension of one or
the other considerable, it was deemed advisable that they should separate;
and the priest betook himself to other places of retreat known to him,
whilst my lord passed over from Bristol into Ireland, in which kingdom
King James had a Court and an army. My lord was but a small addition to
this; bringing, indeed, only his sword and the few pieces in his pocket;
but the king received him with some kindness and distinction in spite of
his poor plight, confirmed him in his new title of marquis, gave him a
regiment, and promised him further promotion. But titles or promotion were
not to benefit him now. My lord was wounded at the fatal battle of the
Boyne, flying from which field (long after his master had set him an
example), he lay for a while concealed in the marshy country near to the
town of Trim, and more from catarrh and fever caught in the bogs than from
the steel of the enemy in the battle, sank and died. May the earth lie
light upon Thomas of Castlewood! He who writes this must speak in charity,
though this lord did him and his two grievous wrongs: for one of these he
would have made amends, perhaps, had life been spared him; but the other
lay beyond his power to repair, though ’tis to be hoped that a greater
Power than a priest has absolved him of it. He got the comfort of this
absolution, too, such as it was: a priest of Trim writing a letter to my
lady to inform her of this calamity.

But in those days letters were slow of travelling, and our priest’s took
two months or more on its journey from Ireland to England: where, when it
did arrive, it did not find my lady at her own house; she was at the
king’s house of Hexton Castle when the letter came to Castlewood, but it
was opened for all that by the officer in command there.

Harry Esmond well remembered the receipt of this letter, which Lockwood
brought in as Captain Westbury and Lieutenant Trant were on the green
playing at bowls, young Esmond looking on at the sport, or reading his
book in the arbour.

“Here’s news for Frank Esmond,” says Captain Westbury; “Harry, did you
ever see Colonel Esmond?” And Captain Westbury looked very hard at the boy
as he spoke.

Harry said he had seen him but once when he was at Hexton, at the ball
there.

“And did he say anything?”

“He said what I don’t care to repeat,” Harry answered. For he was now
twelve years of age: he knew what his birth was and the disgrace of it;
and he felt no love towards the man who had most likely stained his
mother’s honour and his own.

“Did you love my Lord Castlewood?”

“I wait until I know my mother, sir, to say,” the boy answered, his eyes
filling with tears.

“Something has happened to Lord Castlewood,” Captain Westbury said, in a
vary grave tone—“something which must happen to us all. He is dead of a
wound received at the Boyne, fighting for King James.”

“I am glad my lord fought for the right cause,” the boy said.

“It was better to meet death on the field like a man, than face it on
Tower Hill, as some of them may,” continued Mr. Westbury. “I hope he has
made some testament, or provided for thee somehow. This letter says, he
recommends _unicum filium suum dilectissimum_ to his lady. I hope he has
left you more than that.”

Harry did not know, he said. He was in the hands of Heaven and Fate; but
more lonely now, as it seemed to him, than he had been all the rest of his
life; and that night, as he lay in his little room which he still
occupied, the boy thought with many a pang of shame and grief of his
strange and solitary condition:—how he had a father and no father; a
nameless mother that had been brought to ruin, perhaps, by that very
father whom Harry could only acknowledge in secret and with a blush, and
whom he could neither love nor revere. And he sickened to think how Father
Holt, a stranger, and two or three soldiers, his acquaintances of the last
six weeks, were the only friends he had in the great wide world, where he
was now quite alone. The soul of the boy was full of love, and he longed
as he lay in the darkness there for some one upon whom he could bestow it.
He remembers, and must to his dying day, the thoughts and tears of that
long night, the hours tolling through it. Who was he and what? Why here
rather than elsewhere? I have a mind, he thought, to go to that priest at
Trim, and find out what my father said to him on his death-bed confession.
Is there any child in the whole world so unprotected as I am? Shall I get
up and quit this place, and run to Ireland? With these thoughts and tears
the lad passed that night away until he wept himself to sleep.

The next day, the gentlemen of the guard who had heard what had befallen
him were more than usually kind to the child, especially his friend
Scholar Dick, who told him about his own father’s death, which had
happened when Dick was a child at Dublin, not quite five years of age.
“That was the first sensation of grief,” Dick said, “I ever knew. I
remember I went into the room where his body lay, and my mother sat
weeping beside it. I had my battledore in my hand, and fell a-beating the
coffin, and calling papa; on which my mother caught me in her arms, and
told me in a flood of tears papa could not hear me, and would play with me
no more, for they were going to put him under ground, whence he could
never come to us again. And this,” said Dick kindly, “has made me pity all
children ever since; and caused me to love thee, my poor fatherless,
motherless lad. And if ever thou wantest a friend, thou shalt have one in
Richard Steele.”

Harry Esmond thanked him, and was grateful. But what could Corporal Steele
do for him? take him to ride a spare horse, and be servant to the troop?
Though there might be a bar in Harry Esmond’s shield, it was a noble one.
The counsel of the two friends was, that little Harry should stay where he
was, and abide his fortune: so Esmond stayed on at Castlewood, awaiting
with no small anxiety the fate, whatever it was, which was over him.



Chapter VII. I Am Left At Castlewood An Orphan, And Find Most Kind
Protectors There


During the stay of the soldiers in Castlewood, honest Dick the Scholar was
the constant companion of the lonely little orphan lad Harry Esmond: and
they read together, and they played bowls together, and when the other
troopers or their officers, who were free-spoken over their cups (as was
the way of that day, when neither men nor women were over-nice), talked
unbecomingly of their amours and gallantries before the child, Dick, who
very likely was setting the whole company laughing, would stop their jokes
with a _maxima debetur pueris reverentia_, and once offered to lug out
against another trooper called Hulking Tom, who wanted to ask Harry Esmond
a ribald question.

Also, Dick seeing that the child had, as he said, a sensibility above his
years, and a great and praiseworthy discretion, confided to Harry his love
for a vintner’s daughter, near to the Tollyard, Westminster, whom Dick
addressed as Saccharissa in many verses of his composition, and without
whom he said it would be impossible that he could continue to live. He
vowed this a thousand times in a day, though Harry smiled to see the
lovelorn swain had his health and appetite as well as the most heart-whole
trooper in the regiment: and he swore Harry to secrecy too, which vow the
lad religiously kept, until he found that officers and privates were all
taken into Dick’s confidence, and had the benefit of his verses. And it
must be owned likewise that, while Dick was sighing after Saccharissa in
London, he had consolations in the country; for there came a wench out of
Castlewood village who had washed his linen, and who cried sadly when she
heard he was gone: and without paying her bill too, which Harry Esmond
took upon himself to discharge by giving the girl a silver pocket-piece,
which Scholar Dick had presented to him, when, with many embraces and
prayers for his prosperity, Dick parted from him, the garrison of
Castlewood being ordered away. Dick the Scholar said he would never forget
his young friend, nor indeed did he: and Harry was sorry when the kind
soldiers vacated Castlewood, looking forward with no small anxiety (for
care and solitude had made him thoughtful beyond his years) to his fate
when the new lord and lady of the house came to live there. He had lived
to be past twelve years old now; and had never had a friend, save this
wild trooper perhaps, and Father Holt; and had a fond and affectionate
heart, tender to weakness, that would fain attach itself to somebody, and
did not seem at rest until it had found a friend who would take charge of
it.

The instinct which led Henry Esmond to admire and love the gracious
person, the fair apparition of whose beauty and kindness had so moved him
when he first beheld her, became soon a devoted affection and passion of
gratitude, which entirely filled his young heart, that as yet, except in
the case of dear Father Holt, had had very little kindness for which to be
thankful. _O Dea certè_, thought he, remembering the lines out of the
_Aeneis_ which Mr. Holt had taught him. There seemed, as the boy thought,
in every look or gesture of this fair creature, an angelical softness and
bright pity—in motion or repose she seemed gracious alike; the tone of her
voice, though she uttered words ever so trivial, gave him a pleasure that
amounted almost to anguish. It cannot be called love, that a lad of twelve
years of age, little more than a menial, felt for an exalted lady, his
mistress: but it was worship. To catch her glance, to divine her errand
and run on it before she had spoken it; to watch, to follow, adore her;
became the business of his life. Meanwhile, as is the way often, his idol
had idols of her own, and never thought of or suspected the admiration of
her little pigmy adorer.

My lady had on her side her three idols: first and foremost, Jove and
supreme ruler, was her lord, Harry’s patron, the good Viscount of
Castlewood. All wishes of his were laws with her. If he had a headache,
she was ill. If he frowned, she trembled. If he joked, she smiled and was
charmed. If he went a-hunting, she was always at the window to see him
ride away, her little son crowing on her arm, or on the watch till his
return. She made dishes for his dinner: spiced his wine for him: made the
toast for his tankard at breakfast: hushed the house when he slept in his
chair, and watched for a look when he woke. If my lord was not a little
proud of his beauty, my lady adored it. She clung to his arm as he paced
the terrace, her two fair little hands clasped round his great one; her
eyes were never tired of looking in his face and wondering at its
perfection. Her little son was his son, and had his father’s look and
curly brown hair. Her daughter Beatrix was his daughter, and had his
eyes—were there ever such beautiful eyes in the world? All the house was
arranged so as to bring him ease and give him pleasure. She liked the
small gentry round about to come and pay him court, never caring for
admiration for herself; those who wanted to be well with the lady must
admire him. Not regarding her dress, she would wear a gown to rags,
because he had once liked it: and, if he brought her a brooch or a ribbon,
would prefer it to all the most costly articles of her wardrobe.

My lord went to London every year for six weeks, and the family being too
poor to appear at Court with any figure, he went alone. It was not until
he was out of sight that her face showed any sorrow: and what a joy when
he came back! What preparation before his return! The fond creature had
his arm-chair at the chimney-side—delighting to put the children in it,
and look at them there. Nobody took his place at the table; but his silver
tankard stood there as when my lord was present.

A pretty sight it was to see, during my lord’s absence, or on those many
mornings when sleep or headache kept him abed, this fair young lady of
Castlewood, her little daughter at her knee, and her domestics gathered
round her reading the Morning Prayer of the English Church. Esmond long
remembered how she looked and spoke kneeling reverently before the sacred
book, the sun shining upon her golden hair until it made a halo round
about her. A dozen of the servants of the house kneeled in a line opposite
their mistress; for awhile Harry Esmond kept apart from these mysteries,
but Doctor Tusher showing him that the prayers read were those of the
Church of all ages, and the boy’s own inclination prompting him to be
always as near as he might to his mistress, and to think all things she
did right, from listening to the prayers in the antechamber, he came
presently to kneel down with the rest of the household in the parlour; and
before a couple of years my lady had made a thorough convert. Indeed, the
boy loved his catechizer so much that he would have subscribed to anything
she bade him, and was never tired of listening to her fond discourse and
simple comments upon the book, which she read to him in a voice of which
it was difficult to resist the sweet persuasion and tender appealing
kindness. This friendly controversy, and the intimacy which it occasioned,
bound the lad more fondly than ever to his mistress. The happiest period
of all his life was this; and the young mother, with her daughter and son,
and the orphan lad whom she protected, read and worked and played, and
were children together. If the lady looked forward—as what fond woman does
not?—towards the future, she had no plans from which Harry Esmond was left
out; and a thousand and a thousand times in his passionate and impetuous
way he vowed that no power should separate him from his mistress, and only
asked for some chance to happen by which he might show his fidelity to
her. Now, at the close of his life, as he sits and recalls in tranquillity
the happy and busy scenes of it, he can think, not ungratefully, that he
has been faithful to that early vow. Such a life is so simple that years
may be chronicled in a few lines. But few men’s life-voyages are destined
to be all prosperous; and this calm of which we are speaking was soon to
come to an end.

As Esmond grew, and observed for himself, he found of necessity much to
read and think of outside that fond circle of kinsfolk who had admitted
him to join hand with them. He read more books than they cared to study
with him; was alone in the midst of them many a time, and passed nights
over labours, futile perhaps, but in which they could not join him. His
dear mistress divined his thoughts with her usual jealous watchfulness of
affection: began to forebode a time when he would escape from his
home-nest; and, at his eager protestations to the contrary, would only
sigh and shake her head. Before those fatal decrees in life are executed,
there are always secret previsions and warning omens. When everything yet
seems calm, we are aware that the storm is coming. Ere the happy days were
over, two at least of that home-party felt that they were drawing to a
close; and were uneasy, and on the look-out for the cloud which was to
obscure their calm.

’Twas easy for Harry to see, however much his lady persisted in obedience
and admiration for her husband, that my lord tired of his quiet life, and
grew weary, and then testy, at those gentle bonds with which his wife
would have held him. As they say the Grand Lama of Thibet is very much
fatigued by his character of divinity, and yawns on his altar as his
bonzes kneel and worship him, many a home-god grows heartily sick of the
reverence with which his family devotees pursue him, and sighs for freedom
and for his old life, and to be off the pedestal on which his dependants
would have him sit for ever, whilst they adore him, and ply him with
flowers, and hymns, and incense, and flattery;—so, after a few years of
his marriage, my honest Lord Castlewood began to tire; all the high-flown
raptures and devotional ceremonies with which his wife, his chief
priestess, treated him, first sent him to sleep, and then drove him out of
doors; for the truth must be told, that my lord was a jolly gentleman,
with very little of the august or divine in his nature, though his fond
wife persisted in revering it—and, besides, he had to pay a penalty for
this love, which persons of his disposition seldom like to defray: and, in
a word, if he had a loving wife, had a very jealous and exacting one. Then
he wearied of this jealousy: then he broke away from it; then came, no
doubt, complaints and recriminations; then, perhaps, promises of amendment
not fulfilled; then upbraidings not the more pleasant because they were
silent, and only sad looks and tearful eyes conveyed them. Then, perhaps,
the pair reached that other stage which is not uncommon in married life,
when the woman perceives that the god of the honeymoon is a god no more;
only a mortal like the rest of us—and so she looks into her heart, and lo!
_vacuae sedes et inania arcana_. And now, supposing our lady to have a
fine genius and a brilliant wit of her own, and the magic spell and
infatuation removed from her which had led her to worship as a god a very
ordinary mortal—and what follows? They live together, and they dine
together, and they say “my dear” and “my love” as heretofore; but the man
is himself, and the woman herself: that dream of love is over, as
everything else is over in life; as flowers and fury, and griefs and
pleasures, are over.

Very likely the Lady Castlewood had ceased to adore her husband herself
long before she got off her knees, or would allow her household to
discontinue worshipping him. To do him justice, my lord never exacted this
subservience: he laughed and joked, and drank his bottle, and swore when
he was angry, much too familiarly for any one pretending to sublimity; and
did his best to destroy the ceremonial with which his wife chose to
surround him. And it required no great conceit on young Esmond’s part to
see that his own brains were better than his patron’s, who, indeed, never
assumed any airs of superiority over the lad, or over any dependant of
his, save when he was displeased, in which case he would express his mind,
in oaths, very freely; and who, on the contrary, perhaps, spoiled “Parson
Harry”, as he called young Esmond, by constantly praising his parts, and
admiring his boyish stock of learning.

It may seem ungracious in one who has received a hundred favours from his
patron to speak in any but a reverential manner of his elders; but the
present writer has had descendants of his own, whom he has brought up with
as little as possible of the servility at present exacted by parents from
children (under which mask of duty there often lurks indifference,
contempt, or rebellion): and as he would have his grandsons believe or
represent him to be not an inch taller than Nature has made him: so, with
regard to his past acquaintances, he would speak without anger, but with
truth, as far as he knows it, neither extenuating nor setting down aught
in malice.

So long, then, as the world moved according to Lord Castlewood’s wishes,
he was good-humoured enough; of a temper naturally sprightly and easy,
liking to joke, especially with his inferiors, and charmed to receive the
tribute of their laughter. All exercises of the body he could perform to
perfection—shooting at a mark and flying, breaking horses, riding at the
ring, pitching the quoit, playing at all games with great skill. And not
only did he do these things well, but he thought he did them to
perfection; hence he was often tricked about horses, which he pretended to
know better than any jockey; was made to play at ball and billiards by
sharpers who took his money; and came back from London wofully poorer each
time than he went, as the state of his affairs testified, when the sudden
accident came by which his career was brought to an end.

He was fond of the parade of dress, and passed as many hours daily at his
toilette as an elderly coquette. A tenth part of his day was spent in the
brushing of his teeth and the oiling of his hair, which was curling and
brown, and which he did not like to conceal under a periwig, such as
almost everybody of that time wore (we have the liberty of our hair back
now, but powder and pomatum along with it. When, I wonder, will these
monstrous poll-taxes of our age be withdrawn, and men allowed to carry
their colours, black, red, or grey, as nature made them?) And, as he liked
her to be well dressed, his lady spared no pains in that matter to please
him; indeed, she would dress her head or cut it off if he had bidden her.

It was a wonder to young Esmond, serving as page to my lord and lady, to
hear, day after day, to such company as came, the same boisterous stories
told by my lord, at which his lady never failed to smile or hold down her
head, and Doctor Tusher to burst out laughing at the proper point, or cry,
“Fie, my lord, remember my cloth,” but with such a faint show of
resistance, that it only provoked my lord further. Lord Castlewood’s
stories rose by degrees, and became stronger after the ale at dinner and
the bottle afterwards; my lady always taking flight after the very first
glass to Church and King, and leaving the gentlemen to drink the rest of
the toasts by themselves.

And, as Harry Esmond was her page, he also was called from duty at this
time. “My lord has lived in the army and with soldiers,” she would say to
the lad, “amongst whom great licence is allowed. You have had a different
nurture, and I trust these things will change as you grow older; not that
any fault attaches to my lord, who is one of the best and most religious
men in this kingdom.” And very likely she believed so. ’Tis strange what a
man may do, and a woman yet think him an angel.

And as Esmond has taken truth for his motto, it must be owned, even with
regard to that other angel, his mistress, that she had a fault of
character, which flawed her perfections. With the other sex perfectly
tolerant and kindly, of her own she was invariably jealous, and a proof
that she had this vice is, that though she would acknowledge a thousand
faults that she had not, to this which she had she could never be got to
own. But if there came a woman with even a semblance of beauty to
Castlewood, she was so sure to find out some wrong in her, that my lord,
laughing in his jolly way, would often joke with her concerning her
foible. Comely servant-maids might come for hire, but none were taken at
Castlewood. The housekeeper was old; my lady’s own waiting-woman squinted,
and was marked with the small-pox; the housemaids and scullion were
ordinary country wenches, to whom Lady Castlewood was kind, as her nature
made her to everybody almost; but as soon as ever she had to do with a
pretty woman, she was cold, retiring, and haughty. The country ladies
found this fault in her; and though the men all admired her, their wives
and daughters complained of her coldness and airs, and said that
Castlewood was pleasanter in Lady Jezebel’s time (as the dowager was
called) than at present. Some few were of my mistress’s side. Old Lady
Blenkinsop Jointure, who had been at Court in King James the First’s time,
always took her side; and so did old Mistress Crookshank, Bishop
Crookshank’s daughter, of Hexton, who, with some more of their like,
pronounced my lady an angel; but the pretty women were not of this mind;
and the opinion of the country was, that my lord was tied to his wife’s
apron-strings, and that she ruled over him.

The second fight which Harry Esmond had, was at fourteen years of age,
with Bryan Hawkshaw, Sir John Hawkshaw’s son, of Bramblebrook, who
advancing this opinion, that my lady was jealous, and henpecked my lord,
put Harry into such a fury, that Harry fell on him, and with such rage,
that the other boy, who was two years older, and by far bigger than he,
had by far the worst of the assault, until it was interrupted by Doctor
Tusher walking out of the dinner room.

Bryan Hawkshaw got up, bleeding at the nose, having, indeed, been
surprised, as many a stronger man might have been, by the fury of the
assault upon him.

“You little bastard beggar!” he said, “I’ll murder you for this!”

And indeed he was big enough.

“Bastard or not,” said the other, grinding his teeth, “I have a couple of
swords, and if you like to meet me, as a man, on the terrace to-night——”

And here the doctor coming up, the colloquy of the young champions ended.
Very likely, big as he was, Hawkshaw did not care to continue a fight with
such a ferocious opponent as this had been.



Chapter VIII. After Good Fortune Comes Evil


Since my Lady Mary Wortley Montagu brought home the custom of inoculation
from Turkey (a perilous practice many deem it, and only a useless rushing
into the jaws of danger), I think the severity of the small-pox, that
dreadful scourge of the world, has somewhat been abated in our part of it;
and remembering in my time hundreds of the young and beautiful who have
been carried to the grave, or have only risen from their pillows
frightfully scarred and disfigured by this malady. Many a sweet face hath
left its roses on the bed, on which this dreadful and withering blight has
laid them. In my early days this pestilence would enter a village and
destroy half its inhabitants: at its approach it may well be imagined not
only the beautiful but the strongest were alarmed, and those fled who
could. One day in the year 1694 (I have good reason to remember it),
Doctor Tusher ran into Castlewood House, with a face of consternation,
saying that the malady had made its appearance at the blacksmith’s house
in the village, and that one of the maids there was down in the small-pox.

The blacksmith, beside his forge and irons for horses, had an alehouse for
men, which his wife kept, and his company sat on benches before the inn
door, looking at the smithy while they drank their beer. Now, there was a
pretty girl at this inn, the landlord’s men called Nancy Sievewright, a
bouncing fresh-looking lass, whose face was as red as the hollyhocks over
the pales of the garden behind the inn. At this time Harry Esmond was a
lad of sixteen, and somehow in his walks and rambles it often happened
that he fell in with Nancy Sievewright’s bonny face; if he did not want
something done at the blacksmith’s he would go and drink ale at the “Three
Castles”, or find some pretext for seeing this poor Nancy. Poor thing,
Harry meant or imagined no harm; and she, no doubt, as little, but the
truth is they were always meeting—in the lanes, or by the brook, or at the
garden-palings, or about Castlewood: it was, “Lord, Mr. Henry!” and “How
do you do, Nancy?” many and many a time in the week. ’Tis surprising the
magnetic attraction which draws people together from ever so far. I blush
as I think of poor Nancy now, in a red bodice and buxom purple cheeks and
a canvas petticoat; and that I devised schemes, and set traps, and made
speeches in my heart, which I seldom had courage to say when in presence
of that humble enchantress, who knew nothing beyond milking a cow, and
opened her black eyes with wonder when I made one of my fine speeches out
of Waller or Ovid. Poor Nancy! from the mist of far-off years thine honest
country face beams out; and I remember thy kind voice as if I had heard it
yesterday.

When Doctor Tusher brought the news that the small-pox was at the “Three
Castles”, whither a tramper, it was said, had brought the malady, Henry
Esmond’s first thought was of alarm for poor Nancy, and then of shame and
disquiet for the Castlewood family, lest he might have brought this
infection; for the truth is that Mr. Harry had been sitting in a back room
for an hour that day, where Nancy Sievewright was with a little brother
who complained of headache, and was lying stupefied and crying, either in
a chair by the corner of the fire, or in Nancy’s lap, or on mine.

Little Lady Beatrix screamed out at Dr. Tusher’s news; and my lord cried
out, “God bless me!” He was a brave man, and not afraid of death in any
shape but this. He was very proud of his pink complexion and fair hair—but
the idea of death by small-pox scared him beyond all other ends. “We will
take the children and ride away to-morrow to Walcote:” this was my lord’s
small house, inherited from his mother, near to Winchester.

“That is the best refuge in case the disease spreads,” said Dr. Tusher.
“’Tis awful to think of it beginning at the alehouse. Half the people of
the village have visited that to-day, or the blacksmith’s, which is the
same thing. My clerk Simons lodges with them—I can never go into my
reading-desk and have that fellow so near me. I won’t have that man near
me.”

“If a parishioner dying in the small-pox sent to you, would you not go?”
asked my lady, looking up from her frame of work, with her calm blue eyes.

“By the Lord, _I_ wouldn’t,” said my lord.

“We are not in a Popish country: and a sick man doth not absolutely need
absolution and confession,” said the doctor. “’Tis true they are a comfort
and a help to him when attainable, and to be administered with hope of
good. But in a case where the life of a parish priest in the midst of his
flock is highly valuable to them, he is not called upon to risk it (and
therewith the lives, future prospects, and temporal, even spiritual
welfare of his own family) for the sake of a single person, who is not
very likely in a condition even to understand the religious message
whereof the priest is the bringer—being uneducated, and likewise stupefied
or delirious by disease. If your ladyship or his lordship, my excellent
good friend and patron, were to take it——”

“God forbid!” cried my lord.

“Amen,” continued Dr. Tusher. “Amen to that prayer, my very good lord! for
your sake I would lay my life down”—and, to judge from the alarmed look of
the doctor’s purple face, you would have thought that that sacrifice was
about to be called for instantly.

To love children, and be gentle with them, was an instinct, rather than a
merit, in Henry Esmond, so much so, that he thought almost with a sort of
shame of his liking for them, and of the softness into which it betrayed
him; and on this day the poor fellow had not only had his young friend,
the milkmaid’s brother, on his knee, but had been drawing pictures, and
telling stories to the little Frank Esmond, who had occupied the same
place for an hour after dinner, and was never tired of Henry’s tales, and
his pictures of soldiers and horses. As luck would have it, Beatrix had
not on that evening taken her usual place, which generally she was glad
enough to have, upon her tutor’s lap. For Beatrix, from the earliest time,
was jealous of every caress which was given to her little brother Frank.
She would fling away even from the maternal arms, if she saw Frank had
been there before her; insomuch that Lady Castlewood was obliged not to
show her love for her son in the presence of the little girl, and embrace
one or the other alone. She would turn pale and red with rage if she
caught signs of intelligence or affection between Frank and his mother;
would sit apart, and not speak for a whole night, if she thought the boy
had a better fruit or a larger cake than hers; would fling away a ribbon
if he had one; and from the earliest age, sitting up in her little chair
by the great fireplace opposite to the corner where Lady Castlewood
commonly sat at her embroidery, would utter infantine sarcasms about the
favour shown to her brother. These, if spoken in the presence of Lord
Castlewood, tickled and amused his humour; he would pretend to love Frank
best, and dandle and kiss him, and roar with laughter at Beatrix’s
jealousy. But the truth is, my lord did not often witness these scenes,
nor very much trouble the quiet fireside at which his lady passed many
long evenings. My lord was hunting all day when the season admitted; he
frequented all the cockfights and fairs in the country, and would ride
twenty miles to see a main fought, or two clowns break their heads at a
cudgelling match; and he liked better to sit in his parlour drinking ale
and punch with Jack and Tom, than in his wife’s drawing-room: whither, if
he came, he brought only too often bloodshot eyes, a hiccuping voice, and
a reeling gait. The management of the house and the property, the care of
the few tenants and the village poor, and the accounts of the estate, were
in the hands of his lady and her young secretary, Harry Esmond. My lord
took charge of the stables, the kennel, and the cellar—and he filled this
and emptied it too.

So it chanced that upon this very day, when poor Harry Esmond had had the
blacksmith’s son, and the peer’s son, alike upon his knee, little Beatrix,
who would come to her tutor willingly enough with her book and her
writing, had refused him, seeing the place occupied by her brother, and,
luckily for her, had sat at the further end of the room, away from him,
playing with a spaniel dog which she had (and for which, by fits and
starts, she would take a great affection), and talking at Harry Esmond
over her shoulder, as she pretended to caress the dog, saying, that Fido
would love her, and she would love Fido, and nothing but Fido, all her
life.

When, then, the news was brought that the little boy at the “Three
Castles” was ill with the small-pox, poor Harry Esmond felt a shock of
alarm, not so much for himself as for his mistress’s son, whom he might
have brought into peril. Beatrix, who had pouted sufficiently (and who
whenever a stranger appeared began, from infancy almost, to play off
little graces to catch his attention), her brother being now gone to bed,
was for taking her place upon Esmond’s knee: for, though the doctor was
very obsequious to her, she did not like him, because he had thick boots
and dirty hands (the pert young miss said), and because she hated learning
the catechism.

But as she advanced towards Esmond from the corner where she had been
sulking, he started back and placed the great chair on which he was
sitting between him and her—saying in the French language to Lady
Castlewood, with whom the young lad had read much, and whom he had
perfected in this tongue—“Madam, the child must not approach me; I must
tell you that I was at the blacksmith’s to-day, and had his little boy
upon my lap.”

“Where you took my son afterwards,” Lady Castlewood said, very angry, and
turning red. “I thank you, sir, for giving him such company. Beatrix,” she
said in English, “I forbid you to touch Mr. Esmond. Come away, child—come
to your room. Come to your room—I wish your reverence good night—and you,
sir, had you not better go back to your friends at the alehouse?” Her
eyes, ordinarily so kind, darted flashes of anger as she spoke; and she
tossed up her head (which hung down commonly) with the mien of a princess.

“Hey-day!” says my lord, who was standing by the fireplace—indeed he was
in the position to which he generally came by that hour of the
evening—“Hey-day! Rachel, what are you in a passion about? Ladies ought
never to be in a passion. Ought they, Doctor Tusher? though it does good
to see Rachel in a passion—Damme, Lady Castlewood, you look dev’lish
handsome in a passion.”

“It is, my lord, because Mr. Henry Esmond, having nothing to do with his
time here, and not having a taste for our company, has been to the
alehouse, where he has _some friends_.”

My lord burst out with a laugh and an oath—“You young sly-boots, you’ve
been at Nancy Sievewright. D—— the young hypocrite, who’d have thought it
in him? I say, Tusher, he’s been after——”

“Enough, my lord,” said my lady, “don’t insult me with this talk.”

“Upon my word,” said poor Harry, ready to cry with shame and
mortification, “the honour of that young person is perfectly unstained for
me.”

“Oh, of course, of course,” says my lord, more and more laughing and
tipsy. “Upon his _honour_, doctor—Nancy Sieve——”

“Take Mistress Beatrix to bed,” my lady cried at this moment to Mrs.
Tucker her woman, who came in with her ladyship’s tea. “Put her into my
room—no, into yours,” she added quickly. “Go, my child: go, I say: not a
word!” And Beatrix, quite surprised at so sudden a tone of authority from
one who was seldom accustomed to raise her voice, went out of the room
with a scared countenance and waited even to burst out a-crying, until she
got to the door with Mrs. Tucker.

For once her mother took little heed of her sobbing, and continued to
speak eagerly—“My lord,” she said, “this young man—your dependant—told me
just now in French—he was ashamed to speak in his own language—that he had
been at the ale-house all day, where he has had that little wretch who is
now ill of the small-pox on his knee. And he comes home reeking from that
place—yes, reeking from it—and takes my boy into his lap without shame,
and sits down by me, yes, by _me_. He may have killed Frank for what I
know—killed our child. Why was he brought in to disgrace our house? Why is
he here? Let him go—let him go, I say, to-night, and pollute the place no
more.”

She had never once uttered a syllable of unkindness to Harry Esmond; and
her cruel words smote the poor boy, so that he stood for some moments
bewildered with grief and rage at the injustice of such a stab from such a
hand. He turned quite white from red, which he had been.

“I cannot help my birth, madam,” he said, “nor my other misfortune. And as
for your boy, if—if my coming nigh to him pollutes him now, it was not so
always. Good night, my lord. Heaven bless you and yours for your goodness
to me. I have tired her ladyship’s kindness out, and I will go;” and,
sinking down on his knee, Harry Esmond took the rough hand of his
benefactor and kissed it.

“He wants to go to the ale-house—let him go,” cried my lady.

“I’m d——d if he shall,” said my lord. “I didn’t think you could be so d——d
ungrateful, Rachel.”

Her reply was to burst into a flood of tears, and to quit the room with a
rapid glance at Harry Esmond. As my lord, not heeding them, and still in
great good humour, raised up his young client from his kneeling posture
(for a thousand kindnesses had caused the lad to revere my lord as a
father), and put his broad hand on Harry Esmond’s shoulder—

“She was always so,” my lord said; “the very notion of a woman drives her
mad. I took to liquor on that very account, by Jove, for no other reason
than that; for she can’t be jealous of a beer-barrel or a bottle of rum,
can she, doctor? D—— it, look at the maids—just look at the maids in the
house” (my lord pronounced all the words
together—just-look-at-the-maze-in-the-house: jever-see-such-maze?) “You
wouldn’t take a wife out of Castlewood now, would you, doctor?” and my
lord burst out laughing.

The doctor, who had been looking at my Lord Castlewood from under his
eyelids, said, “But joking apart, and, my lord, as a divine, I cannot
treat the subject in a jocular light, nor, as a pastor of this
congregation, look with anything but sorrow at the idea of so very young a
sheep going astray.”

“Sir,” said young Esmond, bursting out indignantly, “she told me that you
yourself were a horrid old man, and had offered to kiss her in the dairy.”

“For shame, Henry,” cried Doctor Tusher, turning as red as a turkey-cock,
while my lord continued to roar with laughter. “If you listen to the
falsehoods of an abandoned girl——”

“She is as honest as any woman in England, and as pure for me,” cried out
Henry, “and as kind, and as good. For shame on you to malign her!”

“Far be it from me to do so,” cried the doctor. “Heaven grant I may be
mistaken in the girl, and in you, sir, who have a truly _precocious_
genius; but that is not the point at issue at present. It appears that the
small-pox broke out in the little boy at the ‘Three Castles’; that it was
on him when you visited the ale-house, for your _own_ reasons; and that
you sat with the child for some time, and immediately afterwards with my
young lord.” The doctor raised his voice as he spoke, and looked towards
my lady, who had now come back, looking very pale, with a handkerchief in
her hand.

“This is all very true, sir,” said Lady Esmond, looking at the young man.

“’Tis to be feared that he may have brought the infection with him.”

“From the ale-house—yes,” said my lady.

“D—— it, I forgot when I collared you, boy,” cried my lord, stepping back.
“Keep off, Harry, my boy; there’s no good in running into the wolf’s jaws,
you know.”

My lady looked at him with some surprise, and instantly advancing to Henry
Esmond, took his hand. “I beg your pardon, Henry,” she said; “I spoke very
unkindly. I have no right to interfere with you—with your——”

My lord broke out into an oath. “Can’t you leave the boy alone, my lady?”
She looked a little red, and faintly pressed the lad’s hand as she dropped
it.

“There is no use, my lord,” she said; “Frank was on his knee as he was
making pictures, and was running constantly from Henry to me. The evil is
done, if any.”

“Not with me, damme,” cried my lord. “I’ve been smoking”—and he lighted
his pipe again with a coal—“and it keeps off infection; and as the disease
is in the village—plague take it—I would have you leave it. We’ll go
tomorrow to Walcote, my lady.”

“I have no fear,” said my lady; “I may have had it as an infant, it broke
out in our house then; and when four of my sisters had it at home, two
years before our marriage, I escaped it, and two of my dear sisters died.”

“I won’t run the risk,” said my lord; “I’m as bold as any man, but I’ll
not bear that.”

“Take Beatrix with you and go,” said my lady. “For us the mischief is
done; and Tucker can wait upon us, who has had the disease.”

“You take care to choose ’em ugly enough,” said my lord, at which her
ladyship hung down her head and looked foolish: and my lord, calling away
Tusher, bade him come to the oak parlour and have a pipe. The doctor made
a low bow to her ladyship (of which salaams he was profuse), and walked
off on his creaking square-toes after his patron.

When the lady and the young man were alone, there was a silence of some
moments, during which he stood at the fire, looking rather vacantly at the
dying embers, whilst her ladyship busied herself with her tambour-frame
and needles.

“I am sorry,” she said, after a pause, in a hard, dry voice,—“I _repeat_ I
am sorry that I showed myself so ungrateful for the safety of my son. It
was not at all my wish that you should leave us, I am sure, unless you
found pleasure elsewhere. But you must perceive, Mr. Esmond, that at your
age, and with your tastes, it is impossible that you can continue to stay
upon the intimate footing in which you have been in this family. You have
wished to go to the University, and I think ’tis quite as well that you
should be sent thither. I did not press this matter, thinking you a child,
as you are, indeed, in years—quite a child; and I should never have
thought of treating you otherwise until—until these _circumstances_ came
to light. And I shall beg my lord to dispatch you as quick as possible:
and will go on with Frank’s learning as well as I can (I owe my father
thanks for a little grounding, and you, I’m sure, for much that you have
taught me),—and—and I wish you a good night, Mr. Esmond.”

And with this she dropped a stately curtsy, and, taking her candle, went
away through the tapestry door, which led to her apartments. Esmond stood
by the fireplace, blankly staring after her. Indeed, he scarce seemed to
see until she was gone; and then her image was impressed upon him, and
remained for ever fixed upon his memory. He saw her retreating, the taper
lighting up her marble face, her scarlet lip quivering, and her shining
golden hair. He went to his own room, and to bed, where he tried to read,
as his custom was; but he never knew what he was reading until afterwards
he remembered the appearance of the letters of the book (it was in
Montaigne’s _Essays_), and the events of the day passed before him—that
is, of the last hour of the day; for as for the morning, and the poor
milkmaid yonder, he never so much as once thought. And he could not get to
sleep until daylight, and woke with a violent headache, and quite
unrefreshed.

He had brought the contagion with him from the “Three Castles” sure
enough, and was presently laid up with the small-pox, which spared the
Hall no more than it did the cottage.



Chapter IX. I Have The Small-Pox, And Prepare To Leave Castlewood


When Harry Esmond passed through the crisis of that malady, and returned
to health again, he found that little Frank Esmond had also suffered and
rallied after the disease, and the lady his mother was down with it, with
a couple more of the household. “It was a providence, for which we all
ought to be thankful,” Doctor Tusher said, “that my lady and her son were
spared, while Death carried off the poor domestics of the house;” and
rebuked Harry for asking, in his simple way—for which we ought to be
thankful—that the servants were killed, or the gentlefolks were saved? Nor
could young Esmond agree in the doctor’s vehement protestations to my
lady, when he visited her during her convalescence, that the malady had
not in the least impaired her charms, and had not been churl enough to
injure the fair features of the Viscountess of Castlewood, whereas in
spite of these fine speeches, Harry thought that her ladyship’s beauty was
very much injured by the smallpox. When the marks of the disease cleared
away, they did not, it is true, leave furrows or scars on her face (except
one, perhaps, on her forehead over her left eyebrow); but the delicacy of
her rosy colour and complexion were gone: her eyes had lost their
brilliancy, her hair fell, and her face looked older. It was as if a
coarse hand had rubbed off the delicate tints of that sweet picture, and
brought it, as one has seen unskilful painting-cleaners do, to the dead
colour. Also, it must be owned, that for a year or two after the malady,
her ladyship’s nose was swollen and redder.

There would be no need to mention these trivialities, but that they
actually influenced many lives, as trifles will in the world, where a gnat
often plays a greater part than an elephant, and a mole-hill, as we know
in King William’s case, can upset an empire. When Tusher in his courtly
way (at which Harry Esmond always chafed and spoke scornfully) vowed and
protested that my lady’s face was none the worse—the lad broke out and
said, “It _is_ worse: and my mistress is not near so handsome as she was”;
on which poor Lady Esmond gave a rueful smile, and a look into a little
Venice glass she had, which showed her I suppose that what the stupid boy
said was only too true, for she turned away from the glass and her eyes
filled with tears.

The sight of these in Esmond’s heart always created a sort of rage of
pity, and seeing them on the face of the lady whom he loved best, the
young blunderer sank down on his knees, and besought her to pardon him,
saying that he was a fool and an idiot, that he was a brute to make such a
speech, he who had caused her malady, and Doctor Tusher told him that a
bear he was indeed, and a bear he would remain, at which speech poor young
Esmond was so dumb-stricken that he did not even growl.

“He is _my_ bear, and I will not have him baited, doctor,” my lady said,
patting her hand kindly on the boy’s head, as he was still kneeling at her
feet. “How your hair has come off! And mine, too,” she added with another
sigh.

“It is not for myself that I cared,” my lady said to Harry, when the
parson had taken his leave; “but _am_ I very much changed? Alas! I fear
’tis too true.”

“Madam, you have the dearest, and kindest, and sweetest face in the world,
I think,” the lad said; and indeed he thought and thinks so.

“Will my lord think so when he comes back?” the lady asked, with a sigh,
and another look at her Venice glass. “Suppose he should think as you do,
sir, that I am hideous—yes, you said hideous—he will cease to care for me.
’Tis all men care for in women, our little beauty. Why did he select me
from among my sisters? ’Twas only for that. We reign but for a day or two:
and be sure that Vashti knew Esther was coming.”

“Madam,” said Mr. Esmond, “Ahasuerus was the Grand Turk, and to change was
the manner of his country, and according to his law.”

“You are all Grand Turks for that matter,” said my lady, “or would be if
you could. Come, Frank, come, my child. You are well, praised be Heaven.
_Your_ locks are not thinned by this dreadful small-pox: nor your poor
face scarred—is it, my angel?”

Frank began to shout and whimper at the idea of such a misfortune. From
the very earliest time the young lord had been taught to admire his beauty
by his mother: and esteemed it as highly as any reigning toast valued
hers.

One day, as he himself was recovering from his fever and illness, a pang
of something like shame shot across young Esmond’s breast as he remembered
that he had never once, during his illness, given a thought to the poor
girl at the smithy, whose red cheeks but a month ago he had been so eager
to see. Poor Nancy! her cheeks had shared the fate of roses, and were
withered now. She had taken the illness on the same day with Esmond—she
and her brother were both dead of the small-pox, and buried under the
Castlewood yew-trees. There was no bright face looking now from the
garden, or to cheer the old smith at his lonely fireside. Esmond would
have liked to have kissed her in her shroud (like the lass in Mr. Prior’s
pretty poem), but she rested many foot below the ground, when Esmond after
his malady first trod on it.

Doctor Tusher brought the news of this calamity, about which Harry Esmond
longed to ask, but did not like. He said almost the whole village had been
stricken with the pestilence; seventeen persons were dead of it, among
them mentioning the names of poor Nancy and her little brother. He did not
fail to say how thankful we survivors ought to be. It being this man’s
business to flatter and make sermons, it must be owned he was most
industrious in it, and was doing the one or the other all day.

And so Nancy was gone; and Harry Esmond blushed that he had not a single
tear for her, and fell to composing an elegy in Latin verses over the
rustic little beauty. He bade the dryads mourn and the river-nymphs
deplore her. As her father followed the calling of Vulcan, he said that
surely she was like a daughter of Venus, though Sievewright’s wife was an
ugly shrew, as he remembered to have heard afterwards. He made a long
face, but, in truth, felt scarcely more sorrowful than a mute at a
funeral. These first passions of men and women are mostly abortive; and
are dead almost before they are born. Esmond could repeat, to his last
day, some of the doggerel lines in which his muse bewailed his pretty
lass; not without shame to remember how bad the verses were, and how good
he thought them; how false the grief, and yet how he was rather proud of
it. ’Tis an error, surely, to talk of the simplicity of youth. I think no
persons are more hypocritical, and have a more affected behaviour to one
another, than the young. They deceive themselves and each other with
artifices that do not impose upon men of the world; and so we got to
understand truth better, and grow simpler as we grow older.

When my lady heard of the fate which had befallen poor Nancy, she said
nothing so long as Tusher was by, but when he was gone, she took Harry
Esmond’s hand and said—

“Harry, I beg your pardon for those cruel words I used on the night you
were taken ill. I am shocked at the fate of the poor creature, and am sure
that nothing had happened of that with which, in my anger, I charged you.
And the very first day we go out, you must take me to the blacksmith, and
we must see if there is anything I can do to console the poor old man.
Poor man! to lose both his children! What should I do without mine!”

And this was, indeed, the very first walk which my lady took, leaning on
Esmond’s arm, after her illness. But her visit brought no consolation to
the old father; and he showed no softness, or desire to speak. “The Lord
gave and took away,” he said; and he knew what His servant’s duty was. He
wanted for nothing—less now than ever before, as there were fewer mouths
to feed. He wished her ladyship and Master Esmond good morning—he had
grown tall in his illness, and was but very little marked; and with this,
and a surly bow, he went in from the smithy to the house, leaving my lady,
somewhat silenced and shamefaced, at the door. He had a handsome stone put
up for his two children, which may be seen in Castlewood churchyard to
this very day; and before a year was out his own name was upon the stone.
In the presence of Death, that sovereign ruler, a woman’s coquetry is
scared; and her jealousy will hardly pass the boundaries of that grim
kingdom. ’Tis entirely of the earth that passion, and expires in the cold
blue air, beyond our sphere.

At length, when the danger was quite over, it was announced that my lord
and his daughter would return. Esmond well remembered the day. The lady,
his mistress, was in a flurry of fear: before my lord came, she went into
her room, and returned from it with reddened cheeks. Her fate was about to
be decided. Her beauty was gone—was her reign, too, over? A minute would
say. My lord came riding over the bridge—he could be seen from the great
window, clad in scarlet, and mounted on his grey hackney—his little
daughter ambled by him in a bright riding-dress of blue, on a shining
chestnut horse. My lady leaned against the great mantelpiece, looking on,
with one hand on her heart—she seemed only the more pale for those red
marks on either cheek. She put her handkerchief to her eyes, and withdrew
it, laughing hysterically—the cloth was quite red with the rouge when she
took it away. She ran to her room again, and came back with pale cheeks
and red eyes—her son in her hand—just as my lord entered, accompanied by
young Esmond, who had gone out to meet his protector, and to hold his
stirrup as he descended from horseback.

“What, Harry, boy!” my lord said good-naturedly, “you look as gaunt as a
greyhound. The small-pox hasn’t improved your beauty, and your side of the
house hadn’t never too much of it—ho, ho!”

And he laughed, and sprang to the ground with no small agility, looking
handsome and red, with a jolly face and brown hair, like a beef-eater;
Esmond kneeling again, as soon as his patron had descended, performed his
homage, and then went to greet the little Beatrix, and help her from her
horse.

“Fie! how yellow you look,” she said; “and there are one, two, red holes
in your face;” which, indeed, was very true; Harry Esmond’s harsh
countenance bearing, as long as it continued to be a human face, the marks
of the disease.

My lord laughed again, in high good humour.

“D—— it!” said he, with one of his usual oaths, “the little slut sees
everything. She saw the dowager’s paint t’other day, and asked her why she
wore that red stuff—didn’t you, Trix? and the Tower; and St. James’s; and
the play; and the Prince George, and the Princess Anne—didn’t you, Trix?”

“They are both very fat, and smelt of brandy,” the child said.

Papa roared with laughing.

“Brandy!” he said. “And how do you know, Miss Pert?”

“Because your lordship smells of it after supper, when I embrace you
before you go to bed,” said the young lady, who, indeed, was as pert as
her father said, and looked as beautiful a little gipsy as eyes ever gazed
on.

“And now for my lady,” said my lord, going up the stairs, and passing
under the tapestry curtain that hung before the drawing-room door. Esmond
remembered that noble figure handsomely arrayed in scarlet. Within the
last few months he himself had grown from a boy to be a man, and with his
figure, his thoughts had shot up, and grown manly.

My lady’s countenance, of which Harry Esmond was accustomed to watch the
changes, and with a solicitous affection to note and interpret the signs
of gladness or care, wore a sad and depressed look for many weeks after
her lord’s return: during which it seemed as if, by caresses and
entreaties, she strove to win him back from some ill humour he had, and
which he did not choose to throw off. In her eagerness to please him she
practised a hundred of those arts which had formerly charmed him, but
which seemed now to have lost their potency. Her songs did not amuse him;
and she hushed them and the children when in his presence. My lord sat
silent at his dinner, drinking greatly, his lady opposite to him, looking
furtively at his face, though also speechless. Her silence annoyed him as
much as her speech; and he would peevishly, and with an oath, ask her why
she held her tongue and looked so glum, or he would roughly check her when
speaking, and bid her not talk nonsense. It seemed as if, since his
return, nothing she could do or say could please him.

When a master and mistress are at strife in a house, the subordinates in
the family take the one side or the other. Harry Esmond stood in so great
fear of my lord, that he would run a league barefoot to do a message for
him; but his attachment for Lady Esmond was such a passion of grateful
regard, that to spare her a grief, or to do her a service, he would have
given his life daily: and it was by the very depth and intensity of this
regard that he began to divine how unhappy his adored lady’s life was, and
that a secret care (for she never spoke of her anxieties) was weighing
upon her.

Can any one, who has passed through the world and watched the nature of
men and women there, doubt what had befallen her? I have seen, to be sure,
some people carry down with them into old age the actual bloom of their
youthful love, and I know that Mr. Thomas Parr lived to be a hundred and
sixty years old. But, for all that, threescore and ten is the age of men,
and few get beyond it; and ’tis certain that a man who marries for mere
_beaux yeux_, as my lord did, considers his part of the contract at end
when the woman ceases to fulfil hers, and his love does not survive her
beauty. I know ’tis often otherwise, I say; and can think (as most men in
their own experience may) of many a house, where, lighted in early years,
the sainted lamp of love hath never been extinguished; but so there is Mr.
Parr, and so there is the great giant at the fair that is eight feet
high—exceptions to men—and that poor lamp whereof I speak, that lights at
first the nuptial chamber, is extinguished by a hundred winds and draughts
down the chimney, or sputters out for want of feeding. And then—and then
it is Chloe, in the dark, stark awake, and Strephon snoring unheeding; or
_vice versa_, ’tis poor Strephon that has married a heartless jilt, and
awoke out of that absurd vision of conjugal felicity, which was to last
for ever, and is over like any other dream. One and other has made his
bed, and so must lie in it, until that final day when life ends, and they
sleep separate.

About this time young Esmond, who had a knack of stringing verses, turned
some of Ovid’s epistles into rhymes, and brought them to his lady for her
delectation. Those which treated of forsaken women touched her immensely,
Harry remarked; and when Oenone called after Paris, and Medea bade Jason
come back again, the lady of Castlewood sighed, and said she thought that
part of the verses was the most pleasing. Indeed, she would have chopped
up the dean, her old father, in order to bring her husband back again. But
her beautiful Jason was gone, as beautiful Jasons will go, and the poor
enchantress had never a spell to keep him.

My lord was only sulky as long as his wife’s anxious face or behaviour
seemed to upbraid him. When she had got to master these, and to show an
outwardly cheerful countenance and behaviour, her husband’s good humour
returned partially, and he swore and stormed no longer at dinner, but
laughed sometimes, and yawned unrestrainedly; absenting himself often from
home, inviting more company thither, passing the greater part of his days
in the hunting-field, or over the bottle as before; but, with this
difference, that the poor wife could no longer see now, as she had done
formerly, the light of love kindled in his eyes. He was with her, but that
flame was out; and that once welcome beacon no more shone there.

What were this lady’s feelings when forced to admit the truth whereof her
foreboding glass had given her only too true warning, that with her beauty
her reign had ended, and the days of her love were over? What does a
seaman do in a storm if mast and rudder are carried away? He ships a
jurymast, and steers as he best can with an oar. What happens if your roof
falls in a tempest? After the first stun of the calamity the sufferer
starts up, gropes around to see that the children are safe, and puts them
under a shed out of the rain. If the palace burns down, you take shelter
in the barn. What man’s life is not overtaken by one or more of these
tornadoes that send us out of the course, and fling us on rocks to shelter
as best we may?

When Lady Castlewood found that her great ship had gone down, she began as
best she might, after she had rallied from the effects of the loss, to put
out small ventures of happiness; and hope for little gains and returns, as
a merchant on “Change, _indocilis pauperiem pati_,” having lost his
thousands, embarks a few guineas upon the next ship. She laid out her all
upon her children, indulging them beyond all measure, as was inevitable
with one of her kindness of disposition; giving all her thoughts to their
welfare—learning, that she might teach them, and improving her own many
natural gifts and feminine accomplishments, that she might impart them to
her young ones. To be doing good for some one else, is the life of most
good women. They are exuberant of kindness, as it were, and must impart it
to some one. She made herself a good scholar of French, Italian, and
Latin, having been grounded in these by her father in her youth: hiding
these gifts from her husband out of fear, perhaps, that they should offend
him, for my lord was no bookman—pish’d and psha’d at the notion of learned
ladies, and would have been angry that his wife could construe out of a
Latin book of which he could scarce understand two words. Young Esmond was
usher, or house tutor, under her or over her, as it might happen. During
my lord’s many absences, these schooldays would go on uninterruptedly: the
mother and daughter learning with surprising quickness: the latter by fits
and starts only, and as suited her wayward humour. As for the little lord,
it must be owned that he took after his father in the matter of
learning—liked marbles and play, and the great horse, and the little one
which his father brought him, and on which he took him out a-hunting—a
great deal better than Corderius and Lily; marshalled the village boys,
and had a little court of them, already flogging them, and domineering
over them with a fine imperious spirit, that made his father laugh when he
beheld it, and his mother fondly warn him. The cook had a son, the woodman
had two, the big lad at the porter’s lodge took his cuffs and his orders.
Doctor Tusher said he was a young nobleman of gallant spirit; and Harry
Esmond, who was his tutor, and eight years his little lordship’s senior,
had hard work sometimes to keep his own temper, and hold his authority
over his rebellious little chief and kinsman.

In a couple of years after that calamity had befallen which had robbed
Lady Castlewood of a little—a very little—of her beauty, and her careless
husband’s heart (if the truth must be told, my lady had found not only
that her reign was over, but that her successor was appointed, a princess
of a noble house in Drury Lane somewhere, who was installed and visited by
my lord at the town eight miles off—_pudet haec opprobria dicere nobis_)—a
great change had taken place in her mind, which, by struggles only known
to herself, at least never mentioned to any one, and unsuspected by the
person who caused the pain she endured—had been schooled into such a
condition as she could not very likely have imagined possible a score of
months since, before her misfortunes had begun.

She had oldened in that time as people do who suffer silently great mental
pain; and learned much that she had never suspected before. She was taught
by that bitter teacher Misfortune. A child, the mother of other children,
but two years back her lord was a god to her; his words her law; his smile
her sunshine; his lazy commonplaces listened to eagerly, as if they were
words of wisdom—all his wishes and freaks obeyed with a servile devotion.
She had been my lord’s chief slave and blind worshipper. Some women bear
farther than this, and submit not only to neglect but to unfaithfulness
too—but here this lady’s allegiance had failed her. Her spirit rebelled
and disowned any more obedience. First she had to bear in secret the
passion of losing the adored object; then to get a farther initiation, and
to find this worshipped being was but a clumsy idol: then to admit the
silent truth, that it was she was superior, and not the monarch her
master: that she had thoughts which his brains could never master, and was
the better of the two; quite separate from my lord although tied to him,
and bound as almost all people (save a very happy few) to work all her
life alone. My lord sat in his chair, laughing his laugh, cracking his
joke, his face flushing with wine—my lady in her place over against him—he
never suspecting that his superior was there, in the calm resigned lady,
cold of manner, with downcast eyes. When he was merry in his cups, he
would make jokes about her coldness, and, “D—— it, now my lady is gone, we
will have t’other bottle,” he would say. He was frank enough in telling
his thoughts, such as they were. There was little mystery about my lord’s
words or actions. His fair Rosamond did not live in a labyrinth, like the
lady of Mr. Addison’s opera, but paraded with painted cheeks and a tipsy
retinue in the country town. Had she a mind to be revenged, Lady
Castlewood could have found the way to her rival’s house easily enough;
and, if she had come with bowl and dagger, would have been routed off the
ground by the enemy with a volley of Billingsgate, which the fair person
always kept by her.

Meanwhile, it has been said, that for Harry Esmond his benefactress’s
sweet face had lost none of its charms. It had always the kindest of looks
and smiles for him—smiles, not so gay and artless perhaps as those which
Lady Castlewood had formerly worn, when, a child herself, playing with her
children, her husband’s pleasure and authority were all she thought of;
but out of her griefs and cares, as will happen I think when these trials
fall upon a kindly heart, and are not too unbearable, grew up a number of
thoughts and excellences which had never come into existence, had not her
sorrow and misfortunes engendered them. Sure, occasion is the father of
most that is good in us. As you have seen the awkward fingers and clumsy
tools of a prisoner cut and fashion the most delicate little pieces of
carved work; or achieve the most prodigious underground labours, and cut
through walls of masonry, and saw iron bars and fetters; ’tis misfortune
that awakens ingenuity, or fortitude, or endurance, in hearts where these
qualities had never come to life but for the circumstance which gave them
a being.

“’Twas after Jason left her, no doubt,” Lady Castlewood once said with one
of her smiles to young Esmond (who was reading to her a version of certain
lines out of Euripides), “that Medea became a learned woman and a great
enchantress.”

“And she could conjure the stars out of heaven,” the young tutor added,
“but she could not bring Jason back again.”

“What do you mean?” asked my lady, very angry.

“Indeed I mean nothing,” said the other, “save what I’ve read in books.
What should I know about such matters? I have seen no woman save you and
little Beatrix, and the parson’s wife and my late mistress, and your
ladyship’s woman here.”

“The men who wrote your books,” says my lady, “your Horaces, and Ovids,
and Virgils, as far as I know of them, all thought ill of us, as all the
heroes they wrote about used us basely. We were bred to be slaves always;
and even of our own times, as you are still the only lawgivers, I think
our sermons seem to say that the best woman is she who bears her master’s
chains most gracefully. ’Tis a pity there are no nunneries permitted by
our Church: Beatrix and I would fly to one, and end our days in peace
there away from you.”

“And is there no slavery in a convent?” says Esmond.

“At least if women are slaves there, no one sees them,” answered the lady.
“They don’t work in street-gangs with the public to jeer them: and if they
suffer, suffer in private. Here comes my lord home from hunting. Take away
the books. My lord does not love to see them. Lessons are over for to-day,
Mr. Tutor.” And with a curtsy and a smile she would end this sort of
colloquy.

Indeed “Mr. Tutor”, as my lady called Esmond, had now business enough on
his hands in Castlewood House. He had three pupils, his lady and her two
children, at whose lessons she would always be present; besides writing my
lord’s letters, and arranging his accompts for him—when these could be got
from Esmond’s indolent patron.

Of the pupils the two young people were but lazy scholars, and as my lady
would admit no discipline such as was then in use, my lord’s son only
learned what he liked, which was but little, and never to his life’s end
could be got to construe more than six lines of Virgil. Mistress Beatrix
chattered French prettily from a very early age; and sang sweetly, but
this was from her mother’s teaching—not Harry Esmond’s, who could scarce
distinguish between “Green Sleeves” and “Lillabullero”; although he had no
greater delight in life than to hear the ladies sing. He sees them now
(will he ever forget them?) as they used to sit together of the summer
evenings—the two golden heads over the page—the child’s little hand and
the mother’s beating the time, with their voices rising and falling in
unison.

But if the children were careless, ’twas a wonder how eagerly the mother
learned from her young tutor—and taught him too. The happiest instinctive
faculty was this lady’s—a faculty for discerning latent beauties and
hidden graces of books, especially books of poetry, as in a walk she would
spy out field-flowers and make posies of them, such as no other hand
could. She was a critic not by reason but by feeling; the sweetest
commentator of those books they read together; and the happiest hours of
young Esmond’s life, perhaps, were those passed in the company of this
kind mistress and her children.

These happy days were to end soon, however; and it was by the Lady
Castlewood’s own decree that they were brought to a conclusion. It
happened about Christmastime, Harry Esmond being now past sixteen years of
age, that his old comrade, adversary, and friend, Tom Tusher, returned
from his school in London, a fair, well-grown, and sturdy lad, who was
about to enter college, with an exhibition from his school, and a prospect
of after promotion in the Church. Tom Tusher’s talk was of nothing but
Cambridge, now; and the boys, who were good friends, examined each other
eagerly about their progress in books. Tom had learned some Greek and
Hebrew, besides Latin, in which he was pretty well skilled, and also had
given himself to mathematical studies under his father’s guidance, who was
a proficient in those sciences, of which Esmond knew nothing, nor could he
write Latin so well as Tom, though he could talk it better, having been
taught by his dear friend the Jesuit father, for whose memory the lad ever
retained the warmest affection, reading his books, keeping his swords
clean in the little crypt where the father had shown them to Esmond on the
night of his visit; and often of a night sitting in the chaplain’s room,
which he inhabited, over his books, his verses, and rubbish, with which
the lad occupied himself, he would look up at the window, thinking he
wished it might open and let in the good father. He had come and passed
away like a dream; but for the swords and books Harry might almost think
the father was an imagination of his mind—and for two letters which had
come to him, one from abroad full of advice and affection, another soon
after he had been confirmed by the Bishop of Hexton, in which Father Holt
deplored his falling away. But Harry Esmond felt so confident now of his
being in the right, and of his own powers as a casuist, that he thought he
was able to face the father himself in argument, and possibly convert him.

To work upon the faith of her young pupil, Esmond’s kind mistress sent to
the library of her father the dean, who had been distinguished in the
disputes of the late king’s reign; and, an old soldier now, had hung up
his weapons of controversy. These he took down from his shelves willingly
for young Esmond, whom he benefited by his own personal advice and
instruction. It did not require much persuasion to induce the boy to
worship with his beloved mistress. And the good old nonjuring dean
flattered himself with a conversion which in truth was owing to a much
gentler and fairer persuader.

Under her ladyship’s kind eyes (my lord’s being sealed in sleep pretty
generally), Esmond read many volumes of the works of the famous British
divines of the last age, and was familiar with Wake and Sherlock, with
Stillingfleet and Patrick. His mistress never tired to listen or to read,
to pursue the text with fond comments, to urge those points which her
fancy dwelt on most, or her reason deemed most important. Since the death
of her father the dean, this lady hath admitted a certain latitude of
theological reading, which her orthodox father would never have allowed;
his favourite writers appealing more to reason and antiquity than to the
passions or imaginations of their readers, so that the works of Bishop
Taylor, nay, those of Mr. Baxter and Mr. Law, have in reality found more
favour with my Lady Castlewood than the severer volumes of our great
English schoolmen.

In later life, at the University, Esmond reopened the controversy, and
pursued it in a very different manner, when his patrons had determined for
him that he was to embrace the ecclesiastical life. But though his
mistress’s heart was in this calling, his own never was much. After that
first fervour of simple devotion, which his beloved Jesuit priest had
inspired in him, speculative theology took but little hold upon the young
man’s mind. When his early credulity was disturbed, and his saints and
virgins taken out of his worship, to rank little higher than the
divinities of Olympus, his belief became acquiescence rather than ardour;
and he made his mind up to assume the cassock and bands, as another man
does to wear a breastplate and jack-boots, or to mount a merchant’s desk
for a livelihood, and from obedience and necessity, rather than from
choice. There were scores of such men in Mr. Esmond’s time at the
Universities, who were going to the Church with no better calling than
his.

When Thomas Tusher was gone, a feeling of no small depression and disquiet
fell upon young Esmond, of which, though he did not complain, his kind
mistress must have divined the cause: for soon after she showed not only
that she understood the reason of Harry’s melancholy, but could provide a
remedy for it. Her habit was thus to watch, unobservedly, those to whom
duty or affection bound her, and to prevent their designs, or to fulfil
them, when she had the power. It was this lady’s disposition to think
kindnesses, and devise silent bounties, and to scheme benevolence for
those about her. We take such goodness, for the most part, as if it was
our due; the Marys who bring ointment for our feet get but little thanks.
Some of us never feel this devotion at all, or are moved by it to
gratitude or acknowledgement; others only recall it years after, when the
days are past in which those sweet kindnesses were spent on us, and we
offer back our return for the debt by a poor tardy payment of tears. Then
forgotten tones of love recur to us, and kind glances shine out of the
past—oh, so bright and clear!—oh, so longed after!—because they are out of
reach; as holiday music from withinside a prison wall—or sunshine seen
through the bars; more prized because unattainable—more bright because of
the contrast of present darkness and solitude, whence there is no escape.

All the notice, then, which Lady Castlewood seemed to take of Harry
Esmond’s melancholy, upon Tom Tusher’s departure, was, by a gaiety unusual
to her, to attempt to dispel his gloom. She made his three scholars
(herself being the chief one) more cheerful than ever they had been
before, and more docile too, all of them learning and reading much more
than they had been accustomed to do. “For who knows,” said the lady, “what
may happen, and whether we may be able to keep such a learned tutor long?”

Frank Esmond said he for his part did not want to learn any more, and
Cousin Harry might shut up his book whenever he liked, if he would come
out a-fishing; and little Beatrix declared she would send for Tom Tusher,
and _he_ would be glad enough to come to Castlewood, if Harry chose to go
away.

At last comes a messenger from Winchester one day, bearer of a letter with
a great black seal from the dean there, to say that his sister was dead,
and had left her fortune of 2,000_l._ among her six nieces, the dean’s
daughters; and many a time since has Harry Esmond recalled the flushed
face and eager look wherewith, after this intelligence, his kind lady
regarded him. She did not pretend to any grief about the deceased
relative, from whom she and her family had been many years parted.

When my lord heard of the news, he also did not make any very long face.
“The money will come very handy to furnish the music-room and the cellar,
which is getting low, and buy your ladyship a coach and a couple of horses
that will do indifferent to ride or for the coach. And Beatrix, you shall
have a spinet: and Frank, you shall have a little horse from Hexton Fair;
and Harry, you shall have five pounds to buy some books,” said my lord,
who was generous with his own, and indeed with other folks’ money. “I wish
your aunt would die once a year, Rachel; we could spend your money, and
all your sisters’, too.”

“I have but one aunt—and—and I have another use for the money, my lord,”
says my lady, turning very red.

“Another use, my dear; and what do you know about money?” cries my lord.
“And what the devil is there that I don’t give you which you want?”

“I intend to give this money—can’t you fancy how, my lord?”

My lord swore one of his large oaths that he did not know in the least
what she meant.

“I intend it for Harry Esmond to go to college.—Cousin Harry,” says my
lady, “you mustn’t stay longer in this dull place, but make a name to
yourself, and for us too, Harry.”

“D——n it, Harry’s well enough here,” says my lord, for a moment looking
rather sulky.

“Is Harry going away? You don’t mean to say you will go away?” cry out
Frank and Beatrix at one breath.

“But he will come back: and this will always be his home,” cries my lady,
with blue eyes looking a celestial kindness: “and his scholars will always
love him; won’t they?”

“By G——d, Rachel, you’re a good woman!” says my lord, seizing my lady’s
hand, at which she blushed very much, and shrank back, putting her
children before her. “I wish you joy, my kinsman,” he continued, giving
Harry Esmond a hearty slap on the shoulder. “I won’t balk your luck. Go to
Cambridge, boy; and when Tusher dies you shall have the living here, if
you are not better provided by that time. We’ll furnish the dining-room
and buy the horses another year. I’ll give thee a nag out of the stable:
take any one except my hack and the bay gelding and the coach-horses; and
God speed thee, my boy!”

“Have the sorrel, Harry; ’tis a good one. Father says ’tis the best in the
stable,” says little Frank, clapping his hands, and jumping up. “Let’s
come and see him in the stable.” And the other, in his delight and
eagerness, was for leaving the room that instant to arrange about his
journey.

The Lady Castlewood looked after him with sad penetrating glances. “He
wishes to be gone already, my lord,” said she to her husband.

The young man hung back abashed. “Indeed, I would stay for ever, if your
ladyship bade me,” he said.

“And thou wouldst be a fool for thy pains, kinsman,” said my lord. “Tut,
tut, man. Go and see the world. Sow thy wild oats; and take the best luck
that Fate sends thee. I wish I were a boy again that I might go to
college, and taste the Trumpington ale.”

“Ours indeed is but a dull home,” cries my lady, with a little of sadness,
and maybe of satire, in her voice: “an old glum house, half ruined, and
the rest only half furnished; a woman and two children are but poor
company for men that are accustomed to better. We are only fit to be your
worship’s handmaids, and your pleasures must of necessity lie elsewhere
than at home.”

“Curse me, Rachel, if I know now whether thou art in earnest or not,” said
my lord.

“In earnest, my lord!” says she, still clinging by one of her children.
“Is there much subject here for joke?” And she made him a grand curtsy,
and, giving a stately look to Harry Esmond, which seemed to say,
“Remember; you understand me, though he does not,” she left the room with
her children.

“Since she found out that confounded Hexton business,” my lord said—“and
be hanged to them that told her!—she has not been the same woman. She, who
used to be as humble as a milkmaid, is as proud as a princess,” says my
lord. “Take my counsel, Harry Esmond, and keep clear of women. Since I
have had anything to do with the jades, they have given me nothing but
disgust. I had a wife at Tangier, with whom, as she couldn’t speak a word
of my language, you’d have thought I might lead a quiet life. But she
tried to poison me, because she was jealous of a Jew girl. There was your
aunt, for aunt she is—aunt Jezebel, a pretty life your father led with
_her_, and here’s my lady. When I saw her on a pillion riding behind the
dean her father, she looked and was such a baby, that a sixpenny doll
might have pleased her. And now you see what she is—hands off,
highty-tighty, high and mighty, an empress couldn’t be grander. Pass us
the tankard, Harry, my boy. A mug of beer and a toast at morn, says my
host. A toast and a mug of beer at noon, says my dear. D——n it, Polly
loves a mug of ale, too, and laced with brandy, by Jove!” Indeed, I
suppose they drank it together; for my lord was often thick in his speech
at mid-day dinner; and at night at supper, speechless altogether.

Harry Esmond’s departure resolved upon, it seemed as if the Lady
Castlewood, too, rejoiced to lose him; for more than once, when the lad,
ashamed perhaps at his own secret eagerness to go away (at any rate
stricken with sadness at the idea of leaving those from whom he had
received so many proofs of love and kindness inestimable), tried to
express to his mistress his sense of gratitude to her, and his sorrow at
quitting those who had so sheltered and tended a nameless and houseless
orphan, Lady Castlewood cut short his protests of love and his
lamentations, and would hear of no grief, but only look forward to Harry’s
fame and prospects in life. “Our little legacy will keep you for four
years like a gentleman. Heaven’s Providence, your own genius, industry,
honour, must do the rest for you. Castlewood will always be a home for
you; and these children, whom you have taught and loved, will not forget
to love you. And Harry,” said she (and this was the only time when she
spoke with a tear in her eye, or a tremor in her voice), “it may happen in
the course of nature that I shall be called away from them: and their
father—and—and they will need true friends and protectors. Promise me that
you will be true to them—as—as I think I have been to you—and a mother’s
fond prayer and blessing go with you.”

“So help me God, madam, I will,” said Harry Esmond, falling on his knees,
and kissing the hand of his dearest mistress. “If you will have me stay
now, I will. What matters whether or no I make my way in life, or whether
a poor bastard dies as unknown as he is now? ’Tis enough that I have your
love and kindness surely; and to make you happy is duty enough for me.”

“Happy!” says she; “but indeed I ought to be, with my children, and——”

“Not happy!” cried Esmond (for he knew what her life was, though he and
his mistress never spoke a word concerning it). “If not happiness, it may
be ease. Let me stay and work for you—let me stay and be your servant.”

“Indeed, you are best away,” said my lady, laughing, as she put her hand
on the boy’s head for a moment. “You shall stay in no such dull place. You
shall go to college and distinguish yourself as becomes your name. That is
how you shall please me best; and—and if my children want you, or I want
you, you shall come to us; and I know we may count on you.”

“May Heaven forsake me if you may not,” Harry said, getting up from his
knee.

“And my knight longs for a dragon this instant that he may fight,” said my
lady, laughing; which speech made Harry Esmond start, and turn red; for
indeed the very thought was in his mind, that he would like that some
chance should immediately happen whereby he might show his devotion. And
it pleased him to think that his lady had called him “her knight”, and
often and often he recalled this to his mind, and prayed that he might be
her true knight, too.

My lady’s bedchamber window looked out over the country, and you could see
from it the purple hills beyond Castlewood village, the green common
betwixt that and the Hall, and the old bridge which crossed over the
river. When Harry Esmond went away for Cambridge, little Frank ran
alongside his horse as far as the bridge, and there Harry stopped for a
moment, and looked back at the house where the best part of his life had
been passed. It lay before him with its grey familiar towers, a pinnacle
or two shining in the sun, the buttresses and terrace walls casting great
blue shades on the grass. And Harry remembered all his life after how he
saw his mistress at the window looking out on him, in a white robe, the
little Beatrix’s chestnut curls resting at her mother’s side. Both waved a
farewell to him, and little Frank sobbed to leave him. Yes, he _would_ be
his lady’s true knight, he vowed in his heart; he waved her an adieu with
his hat. The village people had good-bye to say to him too. All knew that
Master Harry was going to college, and most of them had a kind word and a
look of farewell. I do not stop to say what adventures he began to
imagine, or what career to devise for himself, before he had ridden three
miles from home. He had not read Monsieur Galland’s ingenious Arabian
tales as yet; but be sure that there are other folks who build castles in
the air, and have fine hopes, and kick them down too, besides honest
Alnaschar.



Chapter X. I Go To Cambridge, And Do But Little Good There


My lord, who said he should like to revisit the old haunts of his youth,
kindly accompanied Harry Esmond in his first journey to Cambridge. Their
road lay through London, where my lord viscount would also have Harry stay
a few days to show him the pleasures of the town, before he entered upon
his University studies, and whilst here Harry’s patron conducted the young
man to my lady dowager’s house at Chelsey near London: the kind lady at
Castlewood having specially ordered that the young gentleman and the old
should pay a respectful visit in that quarter.

Her ladyship the viscountess dowager occupied a handsome new house in
Chelsey, with a garden behind it, and facing the river, always a bright
and animated sight with its swarms of sailors, barges, and wherries. Harry
laughed at recognizing in the parlour the well-remembered old piece of Sir
Peter Lely, wherein his father’s widow was represented as a virgin
huntress, armed with a gilt bow and arrow, and encumbered only with that
small quantity of drapery which it would seem the virgins in King
Charles’s day were accustomed to wear.

My lady dowager had left off this peculiar habit of huntress when she
married. But though she was now considerably past sixty years of age, I
believe she thought that airy nymph of the picture could still be easily
recognized in the venerable personage who gave an audience to Harry and
his patron.

She received the young man with even more favour than she showed to the
elder, for she chose to carry on the conversation in French, in which my
Lord Castlewood was no great proficient, and expressed her satisfaction at
finding that Mr. Esmond could speak fluently in that language. “’Twas the
only one fit for polite conversation,” she condescended to say, “and
suitable to persons of high breeding.”

My lord laughed afterwards, as the gentlemen went away, at his kinswoman’s
behaviour. He said he remembered the time when she could speak English
fast enough, and joked in his jolly way at the loss he had had of such a
lovely wife as that.

My lady viscountess deigned to ask his lordship news of his wife and
children; she had heard that Lady Castlewood had had the small-pox; she
hoped she was not so _very_ much disfigured as people said.

At this remark about his wife’s malady, my lord viscount winced and turned
red; but the dowager, in speaking of the disfigurement of the young lady,
turned to her looking-glass and examined her old wrinkled countenance in
it with such a grin of satisfaction, that it was all her guests could do
to refrain from laughing in her ancient face.

She asked Harry what his profession was to be; and my lord, saying that
the lad was to take orders, and have the living of Castlewood when old Dr.
Tusher vacated it; she did not seem to show any particular anger at the
notion of Harry’s becoming a Church of England clergyman, nay, was rather
glad than otherwise, that the youth should be so provided for. She bade
Mr. Esmond not to forget to pay her a visit whenever he passed through
London, and carried her graciousness so far as to send a purse with twenty
guineas for him, to the tavern at which my lord put up (the “Greyhound”,
in Charing Cross); and, along with this welcome gift for her kinsman, she
sent a little doll for a present to my lord’s little daughter Beatrix, who
was growing beyond the age of dolls by this time, and was as tall almost
as her venerable relative.

After seeing the town, and going to the plays, my Lord Castlewood and
Esmond rode together to Cambridge, spending two pleasant days upon the
journey. Those rapid new coaches were not established as yet, that
performed the whole journey between London and the University in a single
day; however, the road was pleasant and short enough to Harry Esmond, and
he always gratefully remembered that happy holiday, which his kind patron
gave him.

Mr. Esmond was entered a pensioner of Trinity College in Cambridge, to
which famous college my lord had also in his youth belonged. Dr. Montague
was master at this time, and received my lord viscount with great
politeness: so did Mr. Bridge, who was appointed to be Harry’s tutor. Tom
Tusher, who was of Emmanuel College, and was by this time a junior soph,
came to wait upon my lord, and to take Harry under his protection; and
comfortable rooms being provided for him in the great court close by the
gate, and near to the famous Mr. Newton’s lodgings, Harry’s patron took
leave of him with many kind words and blessings, and an admonition to him
to behave better at the University than my lord himself had ever done.

’Tis needless in these memoirs to go at any length into the particulars of
Harry Esmond’s college career. It was like that of a hundred young
gentlemen of that day. But he had the ill fortune to be older by a couple
of years than most of his fellow students; and by his previous solitary
mode of bringing up, the circumstances of his life, and the peculiar
thoughtfulness and melancholy that had naturally engendered, he was, in a
great measure, cut off from the society of comrades who were much younger
and higher-spirited than he. His tutor, who had bowed down to the ground,
as he walked my lord over the college grass-plats, changed his behaviour
as soon as the nobleman’s back was turned, and was—at least Harry thought
so—harsh and overbearing. When the lads used to assemble in their _greges_
in hall, Harry found himself alone in the midst of that little flock of
boys; they raised a great laugh at him when he was set on to read Latin,
which he did with the foreign pronunciation taught to him by his old
master, the Jesuit, than which he knew no other. Mr. Bridge, the tutor,
made him the object of clumsy jokes, in which he was fond of indulging.
The young man’s spirit was chafed, and his vanity mortified; and he found
himself, for some time, as lonely in this place as ever he had been at
Castlewood, whither he longed to return. His birth was a source of shame
to him, and he fancied a hundred slights and sneers from young and old,
who, no doubt, had treated him better had he met them himself more
frankly. And as he looks back, in calmer days, upon this period of his
life, which he thought so unhappy, he can see that his own pride and
vanity caused no small part of the mortifications which he attributed to
others’ ill will. The world deals good-naturedly with good-natured people,
and I never knew a sulky misanthropist who quarrelled with it, but it was
he, and not it, that was in the wrong. Tom Tusher gave Harry plenty of
good advice on this subject, for Tom had both good sense and good humour;
but Mr. Harry chose to treat his senior with a great deal of superfluous
disdain and absurd scorn, and would by no means part from his darling
injuries, in which, very likely, no man believed but himself. As for
honest Doctor Bridge, the tutor found, after a few trials of wit with the
pupil, that the younger man was an ugly subject for wit, and that the
laugh was often turned against him. This did not make tutor and pupil any
better friends; but had, so far, an advantage for Esmond, that Mr. Bridge
was induced to leave him alone; and so long as he kept his chapels, and
did the college exercises required of him, Bridge was content not to see
Harry’s glum face in his class, and to leave him to read and sulk for
himself in his own chamber.

A poem or two in Latin and English, which were pronounced to have some
merit, and a Latin oration (for Mr. Esmond could write that language
better than pronounce it), got him a little reputation both with the
authorities of the University and amongst the young men, with whom he
began to pass for more than he was worth. A few victories over their
common enemy Mr. Bridge, made them incline towards him, and look upon him
as the champion of their order against the seniors. Such of the lads as he
took into his confidence, found him not so gloomy and haughty as his
appearance led them to believe; and Don Dismallo, as he was called, became
presently a person of some little importance in his college, and was, as
he believes, set down by the seniors there as rather a dangerous
character.

Don Dismallo was a stanch young Jacobite, like the rest of his family;
gave himself many absurd airs of loyalty; used to invite young friends to
burgundy, and give the king’s health on King James’s birthday; wore black
on the day of his abdication; fasted on the anniversary of King William’s
coronation; and performed a thousand absurd antics, of which he smiles now
to think.

These follies caused many remonstrances on Tom Tusher’s part, who was
always a friend to the powers that be, as Esmond was always in opposition
to them. Tom was a Whig, while Esmond was a Tory. Tom never missed a
lecture, and capped the proctor with the profoundest of bows. No wonder he
sighed over Harry’s insubordinate courses, and was angry when the others
laughed at him. But that Harry was known to have my lord viscount’s
protection, Tom no doubt would have broken with him altogether. But honest
Tom never gave up a comrade as long as he was the friend of a great man.
This was not out of scheming on Tom’s part, but a natural inclination
towards the great. ’Twas no hypocrisy in him to flatter, but the bent of
his mind, which was always perfectly good-humoured, obliging, and servile.

Harry had very liberal allowances, for his dear mistress of Castlewood not
only regularly supplied him, but the dowager at Chelsey made her donation
annual, and received Esmond at her house near London every Christmas; but,
in spite of these benefactions, Esmond was constantly poor; whilst ’twas a
wonder with how small a stipend from his father, Tom Tusher contrived to
make a good figure. ’Tis true that Harry both spent, gave, and lent his
money very freely, which Thomas never did. I think he was like the famous
Duke of Marlborough in this instance, who, getting a present of fifty
pieces, when a young man, from some foolish woman who fell in love with
his good looks, showed the money to Cadogan in a drawer scores of years
after, where it had lain ever since he had sold his beardless honour to
procure it. I do not mean to say that Tom ever let out his good looks so
profitably, for nature had not endowed him with any particular charms of
person, and he ever was a pattern of moral behaviour, losing no
opportunity of giving the very best advice to his younger comrade; with
which article, to do him justice, he parted very freely. Not but that he
was a merry fellow, too, in his way; he loved a joke, if by good fortune
he understood it, and took his share generously of a bottle if another
paid for it, and especially if there was a young lord in company to drink
it. In these cases there was not a harder drinker in the University than
Mr. Tusher could be; and it was edifying to behold him, fresh shaved and
with smug face, singing out “Amen!” at early chapel in the morning. In his
reading, poor Harry permitted himself to go a-gadding after all the Nine
Muses, and so very likely had but little favour from any one of them;
whereas Tom Tusher, who had no more turn for poetry than a ploughboy,
nevertheless, by a dogged perseverance and obsequiousness in courting the
divine Calliope, got himself a prize, and some credit in the University,
and a fellowship at his college, as a reward for his scholarship. In this
time of Mr. Esmond’s life, he got the little reading which he ever could
boast of, and passed a good part of his days greedily devouring all the
books on which he could lay hand. In this desultory way the works of most
of the English, French, and Italian poets came under his eyes, and he had
a smattering of the Spanish tongue likewise, besides the ancient
languages, of which, at least of Latin, he was a tolerable master.

Then, about midway in his University career, he fell to reading for the
profession to which worldly prudence rather than inclination called him,
and was perfectly bewildered in theological controversy. In the course of
his reading (which was neither pursued with that seriousness or that
devout mind which such a study requires), the youth found himself, at the
end of one month, a Papist, and was about to proclaim his faith; the next
month a Protestant, with Chillingworth; and the third a sceptic, with
Hobbs and Bayle. Whereas honest Tom Tusher never permitted his mind to
stray out of the prescribed University path, accepted the Thirty-nine
Articles with all his heart, and would have signed and sworn to other
nine-and-thirty with entire obedience. Harry’s wilfulness in this matter,
and disorderly thoughts and conversation, so shocked and afflicted his
senior, that there grew up a coldness and estrangement between them, so
that they became scarce more than mere acquaintances, from having been
intimate friends when they came to college first. Politics ran high, too,
at the University; and here, also, the young men were at variance. Tom
professed himself, albeit a High Churchman, a strong King William’s-man;
whereas Harry brought his family Tory politics to college with him, to
which he must add a dangerous admiration for Oliver Cromwell, whose side,
or King James’s by turns, he often chose to take in the disputes which the
young gentlemen used to hold in each other’s rooms, where they debated on
the state of the nation, crowned and deposed kings, and toasted past and
present heroes or beauties in flagons of college ale.

Thus, either from the circumstances of his birth, or the natural
melancholy of his disposition, Esmond came to live very much by himself
during his stay at the University, having neither ambition enough to
distinguish himself in the college career, nor caring to mingle with the
mere pleasures and boyish frolics of the students, who were, for the most
part, two or three years younger than he. He fancied that the gentlemen of
the common-room of his college slighted him on account of his birth, and
hence kept aloof from their society. It may be that he made the ill will,
which he imagined came from them, by his own behaviour, which, as he looks
back on it in after-life, he now sees was morose and haughty. At any rate,
he was as tenderly grateful for kindness as he was susceptible of slight
and wrong; and, lonely as he was generally, yet had one or two very warm
friendships for his companions of those days.

One of these was a queer gentleman that resided in the University, though
he was no member of it, and was the professor of a science scarce
recognized in the common course of college education. This was a French
refugee officer, who had been driven out of his native country at the time
of the Protestant persecutions there, and who came to Cambridge, where he
taught the science of the small-sword, and set up a saloon-of-arms. Though
he declared himself a Protestant, ’twas said Mr. Moreau was a Jesuit in
disguise; indeed, he brought very strong recommendations to the Tory
party, which was pretty strong in that University, and very likely was one
of the many agents whom King James had in this country. Esmond found this
gentleman’s conversation very much more agreeable, and to his taste, than
the talk of the college divines in the common-room; he never wearied of
Moreau’s stories of the wars of Turenne and Condé, in which he had borne a
part; and being familiar with the French tongue from his youth, and in a
place where but few spoke it, his company became very agreeable to the
brave old professor of arms, whose favourite pupil he was, and who made
Mr. Esmond a very tolerable proficient in the noble science of _escrime_.

At the next term Esmond was to take his degree of Bachelor of Arts, and
afterwards, in proper season, to assume the cassock and bands which his
fond mistress would have him wear. Tom Tusher himself was a parson and a
fellow of his college by this time; and Harry felt that he would very
gladly cede his right to the living of Castlewood to Tom, and that his own
calling was in no way the pulpit. But as he was bound, before all things
in the world, to his dear mistress at home, and knew that a refusal on his
part would grieve her, he determined to give her no hint of his
unwillingness to the clerical office; and it was in this unsatisfactory
mood of mind that he went to spend the last vacation he should have at
Castlewood before he took orders.



Chapter XI. I Come Home For A Holiday To Castlewood, And Find A Skeleton
In The House


At his third long vacation, Esmond came as usual to Castlewood, always
feeling an eager thrill of pleasure when he found himself once more in the
house where he had passed so many years, and beheld the kind familiar eyes
of his mistress looking upon him. She and her children (out of whose
company she scarce ever saw him) came to greet him. Miss Beatrix was grown
so tall that Harry did not quite know whether he might kiss her or no; and
she blushed and held back when he offered that salutation, though she took
it, and even courted it, when they were alone. The young lord was shooting
up to be like his gallant father in look, though with his mother’s kind
eyes: the Lady of Castlewood herself seemed grown, too, since Harry saw
her—in her look more stately, in her person fuller, in her face, still as
ever most tender and friendly, a greater air of command and decision than
had appeared in that guileless sweet countenance which Harry remembered so
gratefully. The tone of her voice was so much deeper and sadder when she
spoke and welcomed him, that it quite startled Esmond, who looked up at
her surprised as she spoke, when she withdrew her eyes from him; nor did
she ever look at him afterwards when his own eyes were gazing upon her. A
something hinting at grief and secret, and filling his mind with alarm
undefinable, seemed to speak with that low thrilling voice of hers, and
look out of those dear sad eyes. Her greeting to Esmond was so cold that
it almost pained the lad (who would have liked to fall on his knees and
kiss the skirt of her robe, so fond and ardent was his respect and regard
for her), and he faltered in answering the questions which she, hesitating
on her side, began to put to him. Was he happy at Cambridge? Did he study
too hard? She hoped not. He had grown very tall, and looked very well.

“He has got a moustache!” cries out Master Esmond.

“Why does he not wear a peruke like my Lord Mohun?” asked Miss Beatrix.
“My lord says that nobody wears their own hair.”

“I believe you will have to occupy your old chamber,” says my lady. “I
hope the housekeeper has got it ready.”

“Why, mamma, you have been there ten times these three days yourself!”
exclaims Frank.

“And she cut some flowers which you planted in my garden—do you remember,
ever so many years ago?—when I was quite a little girl,” cries out Miss
Beatrix, on tiptoe. “And mamma put them in your window.”

“I remember when you grew well after you were ill that you used to like
roses,” said the lady, blushing like one of them. They all conducted Harry
Esmond to his chamber; the children running before, Harry walking by his
mistress hand-in-hand.

The old room had been ornamented and beautified not a little to receive
him. The flowers were in the window in a china vase; and there was a fine
new counterpane on the bed, which chatterbox Beatrix said mamma had made
too. A fire was crackling on the hearth, although it was June. My lady
thought the room wanted warming; everything was done to make him happy and
welcome: “And you are not to be a page any longer, but a gentleman and
kinsman, and to walk with papa and mamma,” said the children. And as soon
as his dear mistress and children had left him to himself, it was with a
heart overflowing with love and gratefulness that he flung himself down on
his knees by the side of the little bed, and asked a blessing upon those
who were so kind to him.

The children, who are always house tell-tales, soon made him acquainted
with the little history of the house and family. Papa had been to London
twice. Papa often went away now. Papa had taken Beatrix to Westlands,
where she was taller than Sir George Harper’s second daughter, though she
was two years older. Papa had taken Beatrix and Frank both to Bellminster,
where Frank had got the better of Lord Bellminster’s son in a
boxing-match—my lord, laughing, told Harry afterwards. Many gentlemen came
to stop with papa, and papa had gotten a new game from London, a French
game, called a billiard—that the French king played it very well: and the
Dowager Lady Castlewood had sent Miss Beatrix a present; and papa had
gotten a new chaise, with two little horses, which he drove himself,
beside the coach, which mamma went in; and Dr. Tusher was a cross old
plague, and they did not like to learn from him at all; and papa did not
care about them learning, and laughed when they were at their books, but
mamma liked them to learn, and taught them; and “I don’t think papa is
fond of mamma”, said Miss Beatrix, with her great eyes. She had come quite
close up to Harry Esmond by the time this prattle took place, and was on
his knee, and had examined all the points of his dress, and all the good
or bad features of his homely face.

“You shouldn’t say that papa is not fond of mamma,” said the boy, at this
confession. “Mamma never said so; and mamma forbade you to say it, Miss
Beatrix.”

’Twas this, no doubt, that accounted for the sadness in Lady Castlewood’s
eyes, and the plaintive vibrations of her voice. Who does not know of
eyes, lighted by love once, where the flame shines no more?—of lamps
extinguished, once properly trimmed and tended? Every man has such in his
house. Such mementoes make our splendidest chambers look blank and sad;
such faces seen in a day cast a gloom upon our sunshine. So oaths mutually
sworn, and invocations of Heaven, and priestly ceremonies, and fond
belief, and love, so fond and faithful that it never doubted but that it
should live for ever, are all of no avail towards making love eternal: it
dies, in spite of the banns and the priest; and I have often thought there
should be a visitation of the sick for it, and a funeral service, and an
extreme unction, and an _abi in pace_. It has its course, like all mortal
things—its beginning, progress, and decay. It buds and it blooms out into
sunshine, and it withers and ends. Strephon and Chloe languish apart; join
in a rapture: and presently you hear that Chloe is crying, and Strephon
has broken his crook across her back. Can you mend it so as to show no
marks of rupture? Not all the priests of Hymen, not all the incantations
to the gods, can make it whole!

Waking up from dreams, books, and visions of college honours, in which,
for two years, Harry Esmond had been immersed, he found himself instantly,
on his return home, in the midst of this actual tragedy of life, which
absorbed and interested him more than all his tutor taught him. The
persons whom he loved best in the world, and to whom he owed most, were
living unhappily together. The gentlest and kindest of women was suffering
ill-usage and shedding tears in secret: the man who made her wretched by
neglect, if not by violence, was Harry’s benefactor and patron. In houses
where, in place of that sacred, inmost flame of love, there is discord at
the centre, the whole, household becomes hypocritical, and each lies to
his neighbour. The husband (or it may be the wife) lies when the visitor
comes in, and wears a grin of reconciliation or politeness before him. The
wife lies (indeed, her business is to do that, and to smile, however much
she is beaten), swallows her tears, and lies to her lord and master; lies
in bidding little Jacky respect dear papa; lies in assuring grandpapa that
she is perfectly happy. The servants lie, wearing grave faces behind their
master’s chair, and pretending to be unconscious of the fighting; and so,
from morning till bedtime, life is passed in falsehood. And wiseacres call
this a proper regard of morals, and point out Baucis and Philemon as
examples of a good life.

If my lady did not speak of her griefs to Harry Esmond, my lord was by no
means reserved when in his cups, and spoke his mind very freely, bidding
Harry in his coarse way, and with his blunt language, beware of all women
as cheats, jades, jilts, and using other unmistakable monosyllables in
speaking of them. Indeed, ’twas the fashion of the day as I must own; and
there’s not a writer of my time of any note, with the exception of poor
Dick Steele, that does not speak of a woman as of a slave, and scorn and
use her as such. Mr. Pope, Mr. Congreve, Mr. Addison, Mr. Gay, every one
of ’em, sing in this key, each according to his nature and politeness; and
louder and fouler than all in abuse is Dr. Swift, who spoke of them as he
treated them, worst of all.

Much of the quarrels and hatred which arise between married people come in
my mind from the husband’s rage and revolt at discovering that his slave
and bedfellow, who is to minister to all his wishes, and is church-sworn
to honour and obey him—is his superior; and that _he_, and not she, ought
to be the subordinate of the twain; and in these controversies, I think,
lay the cause of my lord’s anger against his lady. When he left her, she
began to think for herself, and her thoughts were not in his favour. After
the illumination, when the love-lamp is put out that anon we spoke of, and
by the common daylight we look at the picture, what a daub it looks! what
a clumsy effigy! How many men and wives come to this knowledge, think you?
And if it be painful to a woman to find herself mated for life to a boor,
and ordered to love and honour a dullard; it is worse still for the man
himself perhaps, whenever in his dim comprehension the idea dawns that his
slave and drudge yonder is, in truth, his superior; that the woman who
does his bidding, and submits to his humour, should be his lord; that she
can think a thousand things beyond the power of his muddled brains; and
that in yonder head, on the pillow opposite to him, lie a thousand
feelings, mysteries of thought, latent scorns and rebellions, whereof he
only dimly perceives the existence as they look out furtively from her
eyes: treasures of love doomed to perish without a hand to gather them;
sweet fancies and images of beauty that would grow and unfold themselves
into flower; bright wit that would shine like diamonds could it be brought
into the sun: and the tyrant in possession crushes the outbreak of all
these, drives them back like slaves into the dungeon and darkness, and
chafes without that his prisoner is rebellious, and his sworn subject
undutiful and refractory. So the lamp was out in Castlewood Hall, and the
lord and lady there saw each other as they were. With her illness and
altered beauty my lord’s fire for his wife disappeared; with his
selfishness and faithlessness her foolish fiction of love and reverence
was rent away. Love!—who is to love what is base and unlovely?
Respect!—who is to respect what is gross and sensual? Not all the marriage
oaths sworn before all the parsons, cardinals, ministers, muftis, and
rabbins in the world, can bind to that monstrous allegiance. This couple
was living apart then; the woman happy to be allowed to love and tend her
children (who were never of her own goodwill away from her) and thankful
to have saved such treasures as these out of the wreck in which the better
part of her heart went down.

These young ones had had no instructors save their mother, and Doctor
Tusher for their theology occasionally, and had made more progress than
might have been expected under a tutor so indulgent and fond as Lady
Castlewood. Beatrix could sing and dance like a nymph. Her voice was her
father’s delight after dinner. She ruled over the house with little
imperial ways, which her parents coaxed and laughed at. She had long
learned the value of her bright eyes, and tried experiments in coquetry,
_in corpore vili_, upon rustics and country squires, until she should
prepare to conquer the world and the fashion. She put on a new ribbon to
welcome Harry Esmond, made eyes at him, and directed her young smiles at
him, not a little to the amusement of the young man, and the joy of her
father, who laughed his great laugh, and encouraged her in her thousand
antics. Lady Castlewood watched the child gravely and sadly: the little
one was pert in her replies to her mother, yet eager in her protestations
of love and promises of amendment; and as ready to cry (after a little
quarrel brought on by her own giddiness) until she had won back her
mamma’s favour, as she was to risk the kind lady’s displeasure by fresh
outbreaks of restless vanity. From her mother’s sad looks she fled to her
father’s chair and boozy laughter. She already set the one against the
other: and the little rogue delighted in the mischief which she knew how
to make so early.

The young heir of Castlewood was spoiled by father and mother both. He
took their caresses as men do, and as if they were his right. He had his
hawks and his spaniel dog, his little horse and his beagles. He had
learned to ride and to drink, and to shoot flying: and he had a small
court, the sons of the huntsman and woodman, as became the heir-apparent,
taking after the example of my lord his father. If he had a headache, his
mother was as much frightened as if the plague were in the house: my lord
laughed and jeered in his abrupt way—(indeed, ’twas on the day after New
Year’s Day, and an excess of mince-pie)—and said with some of his usual
oaths—“D——n it, Harry Esmond—you see how my lady takes on about Frank’s
megrim. She used to be sorry about me, my boy (pass the tankard, Harry),
and to be frightened if I had a headache once. She don’t care about my
head now. They’re like that—women are—all the same, Harry, all jilts in
their hearts. Stick to college—stick to punch and buttery ale: and never
see a woman that’s handsomer than an old cinder-faced bedmaker. That’s my
counsel.”

It was my lord’s custom to fling out many jokes of this nature, in
presence of his wife and children, at meals—clumsy sarcasms which my lady
turned many a time, or which, sometimes, she affected not to hear, or
which now and again would hit their mark and make the poor victim wince
(as you could see by her flushing face and eyes filling with tears), or
which again worked her up to anger and retort, when, in answer to one of
these heavy bolts, she would flash back with a quivering reply. The pair
were not happy; nor indeed was it happy to be with them. Alas that
youthful love and truth should end in bitterness and bankruptcy! To see a
young couple loving each other is no wonder; but to see an old couple
loving each other is the best sight of all. Harry Esmond became the
confidant of one and the other—that is, my lord told the lad all his
griefs and wrongs (which were indeed of Lord Castlewood’s own making), and
Harry divined my lady’s; his affection leading him easily to penetrate the
hypocrisy under which Lady Castlewood generally chose to go disguised, and
see her heart aching whilst her face wore a smile. ’Tis a hard task for
women in life, that mask which the world bids them wear. But there is no
greater crime than for a woman who is ill used and unhappy to show that
she is so. The world is quite relentless about bidding her to keep a
cheerful face; and our women, like the Malabar wives, are forced to go
smiling and painted to sacrifice themselves with their husbands; their
relations being the most eager to push them on to their duty, and, under
their shouts and applauses, to smother and hush their cries of pain.

So, into the sad secret of his patron’s household, Harry Esmond became
initiated, he scarce knew how. It had passed under his eyes two years
before, when he could not understand it; but reading, and thought, and
experience of men, had oldened him; and one of the deepest sorrows of a
life which had never, in truth, been very happy, came upon him now, when
he was compelled to understand and pity a grief which he stood quite
powerless to relieve.

                  -------------------------------------

It hath been said my lord would never take the oath of allegiance, nor his
seat as a peer of the kingdom of Ireland, where, indeed, he had but a
nominal estate; and refused an English peerage which King William’s
Government offered him as a bribe to secure his loyalty.

He might have accepted this, and would doubtless, but for the earnest
remonstrances of his wife (who ruled her husband’s opinions better than
she could govern his conduct), and who being a simple-hearted woman, with
but one rule of faith and right, never thought of swerving from her
fidelity to the exiled family, or of recognizing any other sovereign but
King James; and, though she acquiesced in the doctrine of obedience to the
reigning power, no temptation, she thought, could induce her to
acknowledge the Prince of Orange as rightful monarch, nor to let her lord
so acknowledge him. So my Lord Castlewood remained a nonjuror all his life
nearly, though his self-denial caused him many a pang, and left him sulky
and out of humour.

The year after the Revolution, and all through King William’s life, ’tis
known there were constant intrigues for the restoration of the exiled
family; but if my Lord Castlewood took any share of these, as is probable,
’twas only for a short time, and when Harry Esmond was too young to be
introduced into such important secrets.

But in the year 1695, when that conspiracy of Sir John Fenwick, Colonel
Lowick, and others, was set on foot, for waylaying King William as he came
from Hampton Court to London, and a secret plot was formed, in which a
vast number of the nobility and people of honour were engaged; Father Holt
appeared at Castlewood, and brought a young friend with him, a gentleman
whom ’twas easy to see that both my lord and the father treated with
uncommon deference. Harry Esmond saw this gentleman, and knew and
recognized him in after-life, as shall be shown in its place; and he has
little doubt now that my lord viscount was implicated somewhat in the
transactions which always kept Father Holt employed and travelling hither
and thither under a dozen of different names and disguises. The father’s
companion went by the name of Captain James; and it was under a very
different name and appearance that Harry Esmond afterwards saw him.

It was the next year that the Fenwick conspiracy blew up, which is a
matter of public history now, and which ended in the execution of Sir John
and many more, who suffered manfully for their treason, and who were
attended to Tyburn by my lady’s father, Dean Armstrong, Mr. Collier, and
other stout nonjuring clergymen, who absolved them at the gallows’ foot.

’Tis known that when Sir John was apprehended, discovery was made of a
great number of names of gentlemen engaged in the conspiracy; when, with a
noble wisdom and clemency, the prince burned the list of conspirators
furnished to him, and said he would know no more. Now it was, after this,
that Lord Castlewood swore his great oath, that he would never, so help
him Heaven, be engaged in any transaction against that brave and merciful
man; and so he told Holt when the indefatigable priest visited him, and
would have had him engage in a farther conspiracy. After this my lord ever
spoke of King William as he was—as one of the wisest, the bravest, and the
greatest of men. My Lady Esmond (for her part) said she could never pardon
the king, first, for ousting his father-in-law from his throne, and
secondly, for not being constant to his wife, the Princess Mary. Indeed, I
think if Nero were to rise again, and be king of England, and a good
family man, the ladies would pardon him. My lord laughed at his wife’s
objections—the standard of virtue did not fit him much.

The last conference which Mr. Holt had with his lordship took place when
Harry was come home for his first vacation from college (Harry saw his old
tutor but for a half-hour, and exchanged no private words with him), and
their talk, whatever it might be, left my lord viscount very much
disturbed in mind—so much so, that his wife, and his young kinsman, Henry
Esmond, could not but observe his disquiet. After Holt was gone, my lord
rebuffed Esmond, and again treated him with the greatest deference; he
shunned his wife’s questions and company, and looked at his children with
such a face of gloom and anxiety, muttering, “Poor children—poor
children!” in a way that could not but fill those whose life it was to
watch him and obey him, with great alarm. For which gloom, each person
interested in the Lord Castlewood, framed in his or her own mind an
interpretation.

My lady, with a laugh of cruel bitterness, said, “I suppose the person at
Hexton has been ill, or has scolded him” (for my lord’s infatuation about
Mrs. Marwood was known only too well). Young Esmond feared for his money
affairs, into the condition of which he had been initiated; and that the
expenses, always greater than his revenue, had caused Lord Castlewood
disquiet.

One of the causes why my lord viscount had taken young Esmond into his
special favour was a trivial one, that hath not before been mentioned,
though it was a very lucky accident in Henry Esmond’s life. A very few
months after my lord’s coming to Castlewood, in the winter-time—the little
boy, being a child in a petticoat, trotting about—it happened that little
Frank was with his father after dinner, who fell asleep over his wine,
heedless of the child, who crawled to the fire; and, as good fortune would
have it, Esmond was sent by his mistress for the boy just as the poor
little screaming urchin’s coat was set on fire by a log; when Esmond,
rushing forward, tore the dress off the infant, so that his own hands were
burned more than the child’s, who was frightened rather than hurt, by this
accident. But certainly ’twas providential that a resolute person should
have come in at that instant, or the child had been burned to death
probably, my lord sleeping very heavily after drinking, and not waking so
cool as a man should who had a danger to face.

Ever after this the father, loud in his expressions of remorse and
humility for being a tipsy good-for-nothing, and of admiration for Harry
Esmond, whom his lordship would style a hero for doing a very trifling
service, had the tenderest regard for his son’s preserver, and Harry
became quite as one of the family. His burns were tended with the greatest
care by his kind mistress, who said that Heaven had sent him to be the
guardian of her children, and that she would love him all her life.

And it was after this, and from the very great love and tenderness which
had grown up in this little household, rather than to the exhortations of
Dean Armstrong (though these had no small weight with him), that Harry
came to be quite of the religion of his house and his dear mistress, of
which he has ever since been a professing member. As for Dr. Tusher’s
boasts that he was the cause of this conversion—even in these young days
Mr. Esmond had such a contempt for the doctor, that had Tusher bade him
believe anything (which he did not—never meddling at all), Harry would
that instant have questioned the truth on’t.

My lady seldom drank wine; but on certain days of the year, such as
birthdays (poor Harry had never a one) and anniversaries, she took a
little; and this day, the 29th December, was one. At the end, then, of
this year, ’96, it might have been a fortnight after Mr. Holt’s last
visit, Lord Castlewood being still very gloomy in mind, and sitting at
table—my lady bidding a servant bring her a glass of wine, and looking at
her husband with one of her sweet smiles, said—

“My lord, will you not fill a bumper too, and let me call a toast?”

“What is it, Rachel?” says he, holding out his empty glass to be filled.

“’Tis the 29th of December,” says my lady, with her fond look of
gratitude; “and my toast is, ‘Harry—and God bless him, who saved my boy’s
life!’ ”

My lord looked at Harry hard, and drank the glass, but clapped it down on
the table in a moment, and, with a sort of groan, rose up, and went out of
the room. What was the matter? We all knew that some great grief was over
him.

Whether my lord’s prudence had made him richer, or legacies had fallen to
him, which enabled him to support a greater establishment than that frugal
one which had been too much for his small means, Harry Esmond knew not;
but the house of Castlewood was now on a scale much more costly than it
had been during the first year of his lordship’s coming to the title.
There were more horses in the stable and more servants in the hall, and
many more guests coming and going now than formerly, when it was found
difficult enough by the strictest economy to keep the house as befitted
one of his lordship’s rank, and the estate out of debt. And it did not
require very much penetration to find, that many of the new acquaintances
at Castlewood were not agreeable to the lady there: not that she ever
treated them or any mortal with anything but courtesy; but they were
persons who could not be welcome to her; and whose society a lady so
refined and reserved could scarce desire for her children. There came
fuddling squires from the country round, who bawled their songs under her
windows and drank themselves tipsy with my lord’s punch and ale: there
came officers from Hexton, in whose company our little lord was made to
hear talk and to drink, and swear too in a way that made the delicate lady
tremble for her son. Esmond tried to console her by saying what he knew of
his college experience; that with this sort of company and conversation a
man must fall in sooner or later in his course through the world: and it
mattered very little whether he heard it at twelve years old or twenty—the
youths who quitted mother’s apron-strings the latest being not uncommonly
the wildest rakes. But it was about her daughter that Lady Castlewood was
the most anxious, and the danger which she thought menaced the little
Beatrix from the indulgences which her father gave her (it must be owned
that my lord, since these unhappy domestic differences especially, was at
once violent in his language to the children when angry, as he was too
familiar, not to say coarse, when he was in a good humour), and from the
company into which the careless lord brought the child.

Not very far off from Castlewood is Sark Castle, where the Marchioness of
Sark lived, who was known to have been a mistress of the late King
Charles—and to this house, whither indeed a great part of the country
gentry went, my lord insisted upon going, not only himself, but on taking
his little daughter and son to play with the children there. The children
were nothing loath, for the house was splendid, and the welcome kind
enough. But my lady, justly no doubt, thought that the children of such a
mother as that noted Lady Sark had been, could be no good company for her
two; and spoke her mind to her lord. His own language when he was thwarted
was not indeed of the gentlest: to be brief, there was a family dispute on
this, as there had been on many other points—and the lady was not only
forced to give in, for the other’s will was law—nor could she, on account
of their tender age, tell her children what was the nature of her
objection to their visit of pleasure, or indeed mention to them any
objection at all—but she had the additional secret mortification to find
them returning delighted with their new friends, loaded with presents from
them, and eager to be allowed to go back to a place of such delights as
Sark Castle. Every year she thought the company there would be more
dangerous to her daughter, as from a child Beatrix grew to a woman, and
her daily increasing beauty, and many faults of character too, expanded.

It was Harry Esmond’s lot to see one of the visits which the old lady of
Sark paid to the lady of Castlewood Hall: whither she came in state with
six chestnut horses and blue ribbons, a page on each carriage step, a
gentleman of the horse, and armed servants riding before and behind her.
And, but that it was unpleasant to see Lady Castlewood’s face, it was
amusing to watch the behaviour of the two enemies: the frigid patience of
the younger lady, and the unconquerable good humour of the elder—who would
see no offence whatever her rival intended, and who never ceased to smile
and to laugh, and to coax the children, and to pay compliments to every
man, woman, child, nay dog, or chair and table, in Castlewood, so bent was
she upon admiring everything there. She lauded the children, and wished—as
indeed she well might—that her own family had been brought up as well as
those cherubs. She had never seen such a complexion as dear
Beatrix’s—though to be sure she had a right to it from father and
mother—Lady Castlewood’s was indeed a wonder of freshness, and Lady Sark
sighed to think she had not been born a fair woman; and remarking Harry
Esmond, with a fascinating superannuated smile, she complimented him on
his wit, which she said she could see from his eyes and forehead; and
vowed that she would never have _him_ at Sark until her daughter were out
of the way.



Chapter XII. My Lord Mohun Comes Among Us For No Good


There had ridden along with this old princess’s cavalcade, two gentlemen;
her son, my Lord Firebrace, and his friend, my Lord Mohun, who both were
greeted with a great deal of cordiality by the hospitable Lord of
Castlewood. My Lord Firebrace was but a feeble-minded and weak-limbed
young nobleman, small in stature and limited in understanding—to judge
from the talk young Esmond had with him; but the other was a person of a
handsome presence, with the _bel air_, and a bright daring warlike aspect,
which, according to the chronicle of those days, had already achieved for
him the conquest of several beauties and toasts. He had fought and
conquered in France, as well as in Flanders; he had served a couple of
campaigns with the Prince of Baden on the Danube, and witnessed the rescue
of Vienna from the Turk. And he spoke of his military exploits pleasantly,
and with the manly freedom of a soldier, so as to delight all his hearers
at Castlewood, who were little accustomed to meet a companion so
agreeable.

On the first day this noble company came, my lord would not hear of their
departure before dinner, and carried away the gentlemen to amuse them,
whilst his wife was left to do the honours of her house to the old
marchioness and her daughter within. They looked at the stables, where my
Lord Mohun praised the horses, though there was but a poor show there:
they walked over the old house and gardens, and fought the siege of
Oliver’s time over again: they played a game of rackets in the old court,
where my Lord Castlewood beat my Lord Mohun, who said he loved ball of all
things, and would quickly come back to Castlewood for his revenge. After
dinner they played bowls, and drank punch in the green alley; and when
they parted they were sworn friends, my Lord Castlewood kissing the other
lord before he mounted on horseback, and pronouncing him the best
companion he had met for many a long day. All night long, over his
tobacco-pipe Castlewood did not cease to talk to Harry Esmond in praise of
his new friend, and in fact did not leave off speaking of him until his
lordship was so tipsy that he could not speak plainly any more.

At breakfast next day it was the same talk renewed; and when my lady said
there was something free in the Lord Mohun’s looks and manner of speech
which caused her to mistrust him, her lord burst out with one of his
laughs and oaths; said that he never liked man, woman, or beast, but what
she was sure to be jealous of it; that Mohun was the prettiest fellow in
England; that he hoped to see more of him whilst in the country; and that
he would let Mohun know what my Lady Prude said of him.

“Indeed,” Lady Castlewood said, “I liked his conversation well enough.
’Tis more amusing than that of most people I know. I thought it, I own,
too free; not from what he said, as rather from what he implied.”

“Psha! your ladyship does not know the world,” said her husband; “and you
have always been as squeamish as when you were a miss of fifteen.”

“You found no fault when I was a miss at fifteen.”

“Begad, madam, you are grown too old for a pinafore now; and I hold that
’tis for me to judge what company my wife shall see,” said my lord,
slapping the table.

“Indeed, Francis, I never thought otherwise,” answered my lady, rising and
dropping him a curtsy, in which stately action, if there was obedience,
there was defiance too; and in which a bystander, deeply interested in the
happiness of that pair as Harry Esmond was, might see how hopelessly
separated they were; what a great gulf of difference and discord had run
between them.

“By G——d! Mohun is the best fellow in England; and I’ll invite him here,
just to plague that woman. Did you ever see such a frigid insolence as it
is, Harry? That’s the way she treats me,” he broke out, storming, and his
face growing red as he clenched his fists and went on. “I’m nobody in my
own house. I’m to be the humble servant of that parson’s daughter. By
Jove! I’d rather she should fling the dish at my head than sneer at me as
she does. She puts me to shame before the children with her d——d airs;
and, I’ll swear, tells Frank and Beaty that papa’s a reprobate, and that
they ought to despise me.”

“Indeed and indeed, sir, I never heard her say a word out of respect
regarding you,” Harry Esmond interposed.

“No, curse it! I wish she would speak. But she never does. She scorns me,
and holds her tongue. She keeps off from me, as if I was a pestilence. By
George! she was fond enough of her pestilence once. And when I came
a-courting, you would see miss blush—blush red, by George! for joy. Why,
what do you think she said to me, Harry? She said herself, when I joked
with her about her d—d smiling red cheeks: ‘’Tis as they do at St.
James’s; I put up my red flag when my king comes.’ I was the king, you
see, she meant. But now, sir, look at her! I believe she would be glad if
I was dead; and dead I’ve been to her these five years—ever since you all
of you had the small-pox: and she never forgave me for going away.”

“Indeed, my lord, though ’twas hard to forgive, I think my mistress
forgave it,” Harry Esmond said; “and remember how eagerly she watched your
lordship’s return, and how sadly she turned away when she saw your cold
looks.”

“Damme!” cries out my lord; “would you have had me wait and catch the
small-pox? Where the deuce had been the good of that? I’ll bear danger
with any man—but not useless danger—no, no. Thank you for nothing. And—you
nod your head, and I know very well, Parson Harry, what you mean. There
was the—the other affair to make her angry. But is a woman never to
forgive a husband who goes a-tripping? Do you take me for a saint?”

“Indeed, sir, I do not,” says Harry, with a smile.

“Since that time my wife’s as cold as the statue at Charing Cross. I tell
thee she has no forgiveness in her, Henry. Her coldness blights my whole
life, and sends me to the punch-bowl, or driving about the country. My
children are not mine, but hers, when we are together. ’Tis only when she
is out of sight with her abominable cold glances, that run through me,
that they’ll come to me, and that I dare to give them so much as a kiss;
and that’s why I take ’em and love ’em in other people’s houses, Harry.
I’m killed by the very virtue of that proud woman. Virtue! give me the
virtue that can forgive; give me the virtue that thinks not of preserving
itself, but of making other folks happy. Damme, what matters a scar or two
if ’tis got in helping a friend in ill fortune?”

And my lord again slapped the table, and took a great draught from the
tankard. Harry Esmond admired as he listened to him, and thought how the
poor preacher of this self-sacrifice had fled from the small-pox, which
the lady had borne so cheerfully, and which had been the cause of so much
disunion in the lives of all in this house. “How well men preach,” thought
the young man, “and each is the example in his own sermon. How each has a
story in a dispute, and a true one, too, and both are right, or wrong as
you will!” Harry’s heart was pained within him, to watch the struggles and
pangs that tore the breast of this kind, manly friend and protector.

“Indeed, sir,” said he, “I wish to God that my mistress could hear you
speak as I have heard you; she would know much that would make her life
the happier, could she hear it.” But my lord flung away with one of his
oaths, and a jeer; he said that Parson Harry was a good fellow; but that
as for women, all women were alike—all jades and heartless. So a man
dashes a fine vase down and despises it for being broken. It may be
worthless—true: but who had the keeping of it, and who shattered it?

Harry, who would have given his life to make his benefactress and her
husband happy, bethought him, now that he saw what my lord’s state of mind
was, and that he really had a great deal of that love left in his heart,
and ready for his wife’s acceptance if she would take it, whether he could
not be a means of reconciliation between these two persons, whom he
revered the most in the world. And he cast about how he should break a
part of his mind to his mistress, and warn her that in his, Harry’s
opinion, at least, her husband was still her admirer, and even her lover.

But he found the subject a very difficult one to handle, when he ventured
to remonstrate, which he did in the very gravest tone (for long confidence
and reiterated proofs of devotion and loyalty had given him a sort of
authority in the house, which he resumed as soon as ever he returned to
it); and with a speech that should have some effect, as, indeed, it was
uttered with the speaker’s own heart, he ventured most gently to hint to
his adored mistress, that she was doing her husband harm by her ill
opinion of him, and that the happiness of all the family depended upon
setting her right.

She, who was ordinarily calm and most gentle, and full of smiles and soft
attentions, flushed up when young Esmond so spoke to her, and rose from
her chair, looking at him with a haughtiness and indignation that he had
never before known her to display. She was quite an altered being for that
moment; and looked an angry princess insulted by a vassal.

“Have you ever heard me utter a word in my lord’s disparagement?” she
asked hastily, hissing out her words, and stamping her foot.

“Indeed, no,” Esmond said, looking down.

“Are you come to me as his ambassador—_You?_” she continued.

“I would sooner see peace between you than anything else in the world,”
Harry answered, “and would go of any embassy that had that end.”

“So _you_ are my lord’s go-between?” she went on, not regarding this
speech. “You are sent to bid me back into slavery again, and inform me
that my lord’s favour is graciously restored to his handmaid? He is weary
of Covent Garden, is he, that he comes home and would have the fatted calf
killed?”

“There’s good authority for it, surely,” said Esmond.

“For a son, yes; but my lord is not my son. It was he who cast me away
from him. It was he who broke our happiness down, and he bids me to repair
it. It was he who showed himself to me at last, as he was, not as I had
thought him. It is he who comes before my children stupid and senseless
with wine—who leaves our company for that of frequenters of taverns and
bagnios—who goes from his home to the city yonder and his friends there,
and when he is tired of them returns hither, and expects that I shall
kneel and welcome him. And he sends _you_ as his chamberlain! What a proud
embassy! Monsieur, I make you my compliment of the new place.”

“It would be a proud embassy, and a happy embassy too, could I bring you
and my lord together,” Esmond replied.

“I presume you have fulfilled your mission now, sir. ’Twas a pretty one
for you to undertake. I don’t know whether ’tis your Cambridge philosophy,
or time, that has altered your ways of thinking,” Lady Castlewood
continued, still in a sarcastic tone. “Perhaps you too have learned to
love drink, and to hiccup over your wine or punch;—which is your worship’s
favourite liquor? Perhaps you too put up at the ‘Rose’ on your way through
London, and have your acquaintances in Covent Garden. My services to you,
sir, to principal and ambassador, to master and—and lackey.”

“Great Heavens, madam,” cried Harry, “what have I done that thus, for a
second time, you insult me? Do you wish me to blush for what I used to be
proud of, that I lived on your bounty? Next to doing you a service (which
my life would pay for), you know that to receive one from you is my
highest pleasure. What wrong have I done you that you should wound me so,
cruel woman?”

“What wrong?” she said, looking at Esmond with wild eyes. “Well, none—none
that you know of, Harry, or could help. Why did you bring back the
small-pox,” she added, after a pause, “from Castlewood village? You could
not help it, could you? Which of us knows whither fate leads us? But we
were all happy, Henry, till then.” And Harry went away from this colloquy,
thinking still that the estrangement between his patron and his beloved
mistress was remediable, and that each had at heart a strong attachment to
the other.

The intimacy between the Lords Mohun and Castlewood appeared to increase
as long as the former remained in the country; and my Lord of Castlewood
especially seemed never to be happy out of his new comrade’s sight. They
sported together, they drank, they played bowls and tennis: my Lord
Castlewood would go for three days to Sark, and bring back my Lord Mohun
to Castlewood—where indeed his lordship made himself very welcome to all
persons, having a joke or a new game at romps for the children, all the
talk of the town for my lord, and music and gallantry and plenty of the
_beau langage_ for my lady, and for Harry Esmond, who was never tired of
hearing his stories of his campaigns and his life at Vienna, Venice,
Paris, and the famous cities of Europe which he had visited both in peace
and war. And he sang at my lady’s harpsichord, and played cards or
backgammon, or his new game of billiards with my lord (of whom he
invariably got the better); always having a consummate good humour, and
bearing himself with a certain manly grace, that might exhibit somewhat of
the camp and Alsatia perhaps, but that had its charm and stamped him a
gentleman: and his manner to Lady Castlewood was so devoted and
respectful, that she soon recovered from the first feelings of dislike
which she had conceived against him—nay, before long, began to be
interested in his spiritual welfare, and hopeful of his conversion,
lending him books of piety, which he promised dutifully to study. With her
my lord talked of reform, of settling into quiet life, quitting the Court
and town, and buying some land in the neighbourhood—though it must be
owned that, when the two lords were together over their burgundy after
dinner, their talk was very different, and there was very little question
of conversion on my Lord Mohun’s part. When they got to their second
bottle, Harry Esmond used commonly to leave these two noble topers, who,
though they talked freely enough, Heaven knows, in his presence (Good
Lord, what a set of stories, of Alsatia and Spring Garden, of the taverns
and gaming-houses, of the ladies of the Court, and mesdames of the
theatres, he can recall out of their godly conversation!)—although I say
they talked before Esmond freely, yet they seemed pleased when he went
away, and then they had another bottle, and then they fell to cards, and
then my Lord Mohun came to her ladyship’s drawing-room; leaving his boon
companion to sleep off his wine.

’Twas a point of honour with the fine gentlemen of those days to lose or
win magnificently at their horse-matches, or games of cards and dice—and
you could never tell, from the demeanour of these two lords afterwards,
which had been successful and which the loser at their games. And when my
lady hinted to my lord that he played more than she liked, he dismissed
her with a “pish”, and swore that nothing was more equal than play betwixt
gentlemen, if they did but keep it up long enough. And these kept it up
long enough you may be sure. A man of fashion of that time often passed a
quarter of his day at cards, and another quarter at drink: I have known
many a pretty fellow, who was a wit too, ready of repartee, and possessed
of a thousand graces, who would be puzzled if he had to write more than
his name.

There is scarce any thoughtful man or woman, I suppose, but can look back
upon his course of past life, and remember some point, trifling as it may
have seemed at the time of occurrence, which has nevertheless turned and
altered his whole career. ’Tis with almost all of us, as in Monsieur
Massillon’s magnificent image regarding King William, a _grain de sable_
that perverts or perhaps overthrows us; and so it was but a light word
flung in the air, a mere freak of a perverse child’s temper, that brought
down a whole heap of crushing woes upon that family whereof Harry Esmond
formed a part.

Coming home to his dear Castlewood in the third year of his academical
course (wherein he had now obtained some distinction, his Latin Poem on
the death of the Duke of Gloucester, Princess Anne of Denmark’s son,
having gained him a medal, and introduced him to the society of the
University wits), Esmond found his little friend and pupil Beatrix grown
to be taller than her mother, a slim and lovely young girl, with cheeks
mantling with health and roses: with eyes like stars shining out of azure,
with waving bronze hair clustered about the fairest young forehead ever
seen: and a mien and shape haughty and beautiful, such as that of the
famous antique statue of the huntress Diana—at one time haughty, rapid,
imperious, with eyes and arrows that dart and kill. Harry watched and
wondered at this young creature, and likened her in his mind to Artemis
with the ringing bow and shafts flashing death upon the children of Niobe;
at another time she was coy and melting as Luna shining tenderly upon
Endymion. This fair creature, this lustrous Phoebe, was only young as yet,
nor had nearly reached her full splendour: but crescent and brilliant, our
young gentleman of the University, his head full of poetical fancies, his
heart perhaps throbbing with desires undefined, admired this rising young
divinity; and gazed at her (though only as at some “bright particular
star”, far above his earth) with endless delight and wonder. She had been
a coquette from the earliest times almost, trying her freaks and
jealousies, her wayward frolics and winning caresses, upon all that came
within her reach; she set her women quarrelling in the nursery, and
practised her eyes on the groom as she rode behind him on the pillion.

She was the darling and torment of father and mother. She intrigued with
each secretly; and bestowed her fondness and withdrew it, plied them with
tears, smiles, kisses, cajolements;—when the mother was angry, as happened
often, flew to the father, and sheltering behind him, pursued her victim;
when both were displeased, transferred her caresses to the domestics, or
watched until she could win back her parents’ good graces, either by
surprising them into laughter and good humour, or appeasing them by
submission and artful humility. She was _saevo laeta negotio_, like that
fickle goddess Horace describes, and of whose “malicious joy” a great poet
of our own has written so nobly—who, famous and heroic as he was, was not
strong enough to resist the torture of women.

It was but three years before, that the child, then but ten years old, had
nearly managed to make a quarrel between Harry Esmond and his comrade,
good-natured, phlegmatic Thomas Tusher, who never of his own seeking
quarrelled with anybody: by quoting to the latter some silly joke which
Harry had made regarding him—(it was the merest, idlest jest, though it
near drove two old friends to blows, and I think such a battle would have
pleased her)—and from that day Tom kept at a distance from her; and she
respected him, and coaxed him sedulously whenever they met. But Harry was
much more easily appeased, because he was fonder of the child: and when
she made mischief, used cutting speeches, or caused her friends pain, she
excused herself for her fault, not by admitting and deploring it, but by
pleading not guilty, and asserting innocence so constantly, and with such
seeming artlessness, that it was impossible to question her plea. In her
childhood, they were but mischiefs then which she did; but her power
became more fatal as she grew older—as a kitten first plays with a ball,
and then pounces on a bird and kills it. ’Tis not to be imagined that
Harry Esmond had all this experience at this early stage of his life,
whereof he is now writing the history—many things here noted were but
known to him in later days. Almost everything Beatrix did or undid seemed
good, or at least pardonable, to him then, and years afterwards.

It happened, then, that Harry Esmond came home to Castlewood for his last
vacation, with good hopes of a fellowship at his college, and a contented
resolve to advance his fortune that way. ’Twas in the first year of the
present century, Mr. Esmond (as far as he knew the period of his birth)
being then twenty-two years old. He found his quondam pupil shot up into
this beauty of which we have spoken, and promising yet more: her brother,
my lord’s son, a handsome high-spirited brave lad, generous and frank, and
kind to everybody, save perhaps his sister, with whom Frank was at war
(and not from his but her fault)—adoring his mother, whose joy he was: and
taking her side in the unhappy matrimonial differences which were now
permanent, while of course Mistress Beatrix ranged with her father. When
heads of families fall out, it must naturally be that their dependants
wear the one or the other party’s colour; and even in the parliaments in
the servants’ hall or the stables, Harry, who had an early observant turn,
could see which were my lord’s adherents and which my lady’s, and
conjecture pretty shrewdly how their unlucky quarrel was debated. Our
lackeys sit in judgement on us. My lord’s intrigues may be ever so
stealthily conducted, but his valet knows them; and my lady’s woman
carries her mistress’s private history to the servants’ scandal-market,
and exchanges it against the secrets of other abigails.



Chapter XIII. My Lord Leaves Us And His Evil Behind Him


My Lord Mohun (of whose exploits and fame some of the gentlemen of the
University had brought down but ugly reports) was once more a guest at
Castlewood, and seemingly more intimately allied with my lord even than
before. Once in the spring those two noblemen had ridden to Cambridge from
Newmarket, whither they had gone for the horse-racing, and had honoured
Harry Esmond with a visit at his rooms; after which Doctor Montague, the
master of the college, who had treated Harry somewhat haughtily, seeing
his familiarity with these great folks, and that my Lord Castlewood
laughed and walked with his hand on Harry’s shoulder, relented to Mr.
Esmond, and condescended to be very civil to him; and some days after his
arrival, Harry, laughing, told this story to Lady Esmond, remarking how
strange it was that men famous for learning and renowned over Europe,
should, nevertheless, so bow down to a title, and cringe to a nobleman
ever so poor. At this, Mistress Beatrix flung up her head, and said, it
became those of low origin to respect their betters; that the parsons made
themselves a great deal too proud, she thought; and that she liked the way
at Lady Sark’s best, where the chaplain, though he loved pudding, as all
parsons do, always went away before the custard.

“And when I am a parson,” says Mr. Esmond, “will you give me no custard,
Beatrix?”

“You—you are different,” Beatrix answered. “You are of our blood.”

“My father was a parson, as you call him,” said my lady.

“But mine is a peer of Ireland,” says Mistress Beatrix, tossing her head.
“Let people know their places. I suppose you will have me go down on my
knees and ask a blessing of Mr. Thomas Tusher, that has just been made a
curate, and whose mother was a waiting-maid.”

And she tossed out of the room, being in one of her flighty humours then.

When she was gone, my lady looked so sad and grave, that Harry asked the
cause of her disquietude. She said it was not merely what he said of
Newmarket, but what she had remarked, with great anxiety and terror, that
my lord, ever since his acquaintance with the Lord Mohun especially, had
recurred to his fondness for play, which he had renounced since his
marriage.

“But men promise more than they are able to perform in marriage,” said my
lady, with a sigh. “I fear he has lost large sums; and our property,
always small, is dwindling away under this reckless dissipation. I heard
of him in London with very wild company. Since his return letters and
lawyers are constantly coming and going: he seems to me to have a constant
anxiety, though he hides it under boisterousness and laughter. I looked
through—through the door last night, and—and before,” said my lady, “and
saw them at cards after midnight; no estate will bear that extravagance,
much less ours, which will be so diminished that my son will have nothing
at all, and my poor Beatrix no portion!”

“I wish I could help you, madam,” said Harry Esmond, sighing, and wishing
that unavailingly, and for the thousandth time in his life.

“Who can? Only God,” said Lady Esmond—“only God, in whose hands we are.”
And so it is, and for his rule over his family, and for his conduct to
wife and children—subjects over whom his power is monarchical—any one who
watches the world must think with trembling sometimes of the account which
many a man will have to render. For in our society there’s no law to
control the King of the Fireside. He is master of property, happiness—life
almost. He is free to punish, to make happy or unhappy—to ruin or to
torture. He may kill a wife gradually, and be no more questioned than the
Grand Seignior who drowns a slave at midnight. He may make slaves and
hypocrites of his children; or friends and freemen; or drive them into
revolt and enmity against the natural law of love. I have heard
politicians and coffee-house wiseacres talking over the newspaper, and
railing at the tyranny of the French king, and the emperor, and wondered
how these (who are monarchs, too, in their way) govern their own dominions
at home, where each man rules absolute? When the annals of each little
reign are shown to the Supreme Master, under whom we hold sovereignty,
histories will be laid bare of household tyrants as cruel as Amurath, and
as savage as Nero, and as reckless and dissolute as Charles.

If Harry Esmond’s patron erred, ’twas in the latter way, from a
disposition rather self-indulgent than cruel; and he might have been
brought back to much better feelings, had time been given to him to bring
his repentance to a lasting reform.

As my lord and his friend Lord Mohun were such close companions, Mistress
Beatrix chose to be jealous of the latter; and the two gentlemen often
entertained each other by laughing, in their rude boisterous way, at the
child’s freaks of anger and show of dislike. “When thou art old enough,
thou shalt marry Lord Mohun,” Beatrix’s father would say: on which the
girl would pout and say, “I would rather marry Tom Tusher.” And because
the Lord Mohun always showed an extreme gallantry to my Lady Castlewood,
whom he professed to admire devotedly, one day, in answer to this old joke
of her father’s, Beatrix said, “I think my lord would rather marry mamma
than marry me; and is waiting till you die to ask her.”

The words were said lightly and pertly by the girl one night before
supper, as the family party were assembled near the great fire. The two
lords, who were at cards, both gave a start; my lady turned as red as
scarlet, and bade Mistress Beatrix go to her own chamber; whereupon the
girl, putting on, as her wont was, the most innocent air, said, “I am sure
I meant no wrong; I am sure mamma talks a great deal more to Harry Esmond
than she does to papa—and she cried when Harry went away, and she never
does when papa goes away; and last night she talked to Lord Mohun for ever
so long, and sent us out of the room, and cried when we came back, and——”

“D——n!” cried out my Lord Castlewood, out of all patience. “Go out of the
room, you little viper!” and he started up and flung down his cards.

“Ask Lord Mohun what I said to him, Francis,” her ladyship said, rising up
with a scared face, but yet with a great and touching dignity and candour
in her look and voice. “Come away with me, Beatrix.” Beatrix sprung up
too; she was in tears now.

“Dearest mamma, what have I done?” she asked. “Sure I meant no harm.” And
she clung to her mother, and the pair went out sobbing together.

“I will tell you what your wife said to me, Frank,” my Lord Mohun
cried—“Parson Harry may hear it; and, as I hope for heaven, every word I
say is true. Last night, with tears in her eyes, your wife implored me to
play no more with you at dice or at cards, and you know best whether what
she asked was not for your good.”

“Of course it was, Mohun,” says my lord, in a dry hard voice. “Of course,
you are a model of a man: and the world knows what a saint you are.”

My Lord Mohun was separated from his wife, and had had many affairs of
honour: of which women as usual had been the cause.

“I am no saint, though your wife is—and I can answer for my actions as
other people must for their words,” said my Lord Mohun.

“By G——, my lord, you shall,” cried the other, starting up.

“We have another little account to settle first, my lord,” says Lord
Mohun. Whereupon Harry Esmond, filled with alarm for the consequences to
which this disastrous dispute might lead, broke out into the most vehement
expostulations with his patron and his adversary. “Gracious Heavens!” he
said, “my lord, are you going to draw a sword upon your friend in your own
house? Can you doubt the honour of a lady who is as pure as Heaven, and
would die a thousand times rather than do you a wrong? Are the idle words
of a jealous child to set friends at variance? Has not my mistress, as
much as she dared to, besought your lordship, as the truth must be told,
to break your intimacy with my Lord Mohun; and to give up the habit which
may bring ruin on your family? But for my Lord Mohun’s illness, had he not
left you?”

“Faith, Frank, a man with a gouty toe can’t run after other men’s wives,”
broke out my Lord Mohun, who indeed was in that way, and with a laugh and
a look at his swathed limb so frank and comical, that the other dashing
his fist across his forehead was caught by that infectious good humour,
and said with his oath, “—— it, Harry, I believe thee,” and so this
quarrel was over, and the two gentlemen, at swords drawn but just now,
dropped their points, and shook hands.

_Beati pacifici._ “Go, bring my lady back,” said Harry’s patron. Esmond
went away only too glad to be the bearer of such good news. He found her
at the door; she had been listening there, but went back as he came. She
took both his hands, hers were marble cold. She seemed as if she would
fall on his shoulder. “Thank you, and God bless you, my dear brother
Harry,” she said. She kissed his hand, Esmond felt her tears upon it: and
leading her into the room, and up to my lord, the Lord Castlewood with an
outbreak of feeling and affection, such as he had not exhibited for many a
long day, took his wife to his heart, and bent over and kissed her and
asked her pardon.

“’Tis time for me to go to roost. I will have my gruel abed,” said my Lord
Mohun: and limped off comically on Harry Esmond’s arm. “By George, that
woman is a pearl!” he said; “and ’tis only a pig that wouldn’t value her.
Have you seen the vulgar trapesing orange-girl whom Esmond”—but here Mr.
Esmond interrupted him, saying, that these were not affairs for him to
know.

My lord’s gentleman came in to wait upon his master, who was no sooner in
his nightcap and dressing-gown than he had another visitor whom his host
insisted on sending to him: and this was no other than the Lady Castlewood
herself with the toast and gruel, which her husband bade her make and
carry with her own hands in to her guest.

Lord Castlewood stood looking after his wife as she went on this errand,
and as he looked, Harry Esmond could not but gaze on him, and remarked in
his patron’s face an expression of love, and grief, and care, which very
much moved and touched the young man. Lord Castlewood’s hands fell down at
his sides, and his head on his breast, and presently he said—

“You heard what Mohun said, parson?”

“That my lady was a saint?”

“That there are two accounts to settle. I have been going wrong these five
years, Harry Esmond. Ever since you brought that damned small-pox into the
house, there has been a fate pursuing me, and I had best have died of it,
and not run away from it like a coward. I left Beatrix with her relations,
and went to London; and I fell among thieves, Harry, and I got back to
confounded cards and dice, which I hadn’t touched since my marriage—no,
not since I was in the duke’s guard, with those wild Mohocks. And I have
been playing worse and worse, and going deeper and deeper into it; and I
owe Mohun two thousand pounds now; and when it’s paid I am little better
than a beggar. I don’t like to look my boy in the face; he hates me, I
know he does. And I have spent Beaty’s little portion; and the Lord knows
what will come if I live; the best thing I can do is to die, and release
what portion of the estate is redeemable for the boy.”

Mohun was as much master at Castlewood as the owner of the Hall itself;
and his equipages filled the stables, where, indeed, there was room in
plenty for many more horses than Harry Esmond’s impoverished patron could
afford to keep. He had arrived on horseback with his people; but when his
gout broke out my Lord Mohun sent to London for a light chaise he had,
drawn by a pair of small horses, and running as swift, wherever roads were
good, as a Laplander’s sledge. When this carriage came, his lordship was
eager to drive the Lady Castlewood abroad in it, and did so many times,
and at a rapid pace, greatly to his companion’s enjoyment, who loved the
swift motion and the healthy breezes over the downs which lie hard upon
Castlewood, and stretch thence towards the sea. As this amusement was very
pleasant to her, and her lord, far from showing any mistrust of her
intimacy with Lord Mohun, encouraged her to be his companion; as if
willing, by his present extreme confidence, to make up for any past
mistrust which his jealousy had shown; the Lady Castlewood enjoyed herself
freely in this harmless diversion, which, it must be owned, her guest was
very eager to give her; and it seemed that she grew the more free with
Lord Mohun, and pleased with his company, because of some sacrifice which
his gallantry was pleased to make in her favour.

Seeing the two gentlemen constantly at cards still of evenings, Harry
Esmond one day deplored to his mistress that this fatal infatuation of her
lord should continue; and now they seemed reconciled together, begged his
lady to hint to her husband that he should play no more.

But Lady Castlewood, smiling archly and gaily, said she would speak to him
presently, and that, for a few nights more at least, he might be let to
have his amusement.

“Indeed, madam,” said Harry, “you know not what it costs you; and ’tis
easy for any observer who knows the game, to see that Lord Mohun is by far
the stronger of the two.”

“I know he is,” says my lady, still with exceeding good humour; “he is not
only the best player, but the kindest player in the world.”

“Madam, madam,” Esmond cried, transported and provoked. “Debts of honour
must be paid some time or other; and my master will be ruined if he goes
on.”

“Harry, shall I tell you a secret?” my lady replied, with kindness and
pleasure still in her eyes. “Francis will not be ruined if he goes on; he
will be rescued if he goes on. I repent of having spoken and thought
unkindly of the Lord Mohun when he was here in the past year. He is full
of much kindness and good: and ’tis my belief that we shall bring him to
better things. I have lent him Tillotson and your favourite Bishop Taylor,
and he is much touched, he says; and as a proof of his repentance—(and
herein lies my secret)—what do you think he is doing with Francis? He is
letting poor Frank win his money back again. He hath won already at the
last four nights; and my Lord Mohun says that he will not be the means of
injuring poor Frank and my dear children.”

“And in God’s name, what do you return him for this sacrifice?” asked
Esmond, aghast; who knew enough of men, and of this one in particular, to
be aware that such a finished rake gave nothing for nothing. “How, in
Heaven’s name, are you to pay him?”

“Pay him! With a mother’s blessing and a wife’s prayers!” cries my lady,
clasping her hands together. Harry Esmond did not know whether to laugh,
to be angry, or to love his dear mistress more than ever for the obstinate
innocency with which she chose to regard the conduct of a man of the
world, whose designs he knew better how to interpret. He told the lady,
guardedly, but so as to make his meaning quite clear to her, what he knew
in respect of the former life and conduct of this nobleman; of other women
against whom he had plotted, and whom he had overcome; of the conversation
which he Harry himself had had with Lord Mohun, wherein the lord made a
boast of his libertinism, and frequently avowed that he held all women to
be fair game (as his lordship styled this pretty sport), and that they
were all, without exception, to be won. And the return Harry had for his
entreaties and remonstrances was a fit of anger on Lady Castlewood’s part,
who would not listen to his accusations, she said, and retorted that he
himself must be very wicked and perverted, to suppose evil designs, where
she was sure none were meant. “And this is the good meddlers get of
interfering,” Harry thought to himself with much bitterness; and his
perplexity and annoyance were only the greater, because he could not speak
to my Lord Castlewood himself upon a subject of this nature, or venture to
advise or warn him regarding a matter so very sacred as his own honour, of
which my lord was naturally the best guardian.

But though Lady Castlewood would listen to no advice from her young
dependant, and appeared indignantly to refuse it when offered, Harry had
the satisfaction to find that she adopted the counsel which she professed
to reject; for the next day she pleaded a headache, when my Lord Mohun
would have had her drive out, and the next day the headache continued; and
next day, in a laughing gay way she proposed that the children should take
her place in his lordship’s car, for they would be charmed with a ride of
all things; and she must not have all the pleasure for herself. My lord
gave them a drive with a very good grace, though I dare say with rage and
disappointment inwardly—not that his heart was very seriously engaged in
his designs upon this simple lady: but the life of such men is often one
of intrigue, and they can no more go through the day without a woman to
pursue, than a fox-hunter without his sport after breakfast.

Under an affected carelessness of demeanour, and though there was no
outward demonstration of doubt upon his patron’s part since the quarrel
between the two lords, Harry yet saw that Lord Castlewood was watching his
guest very narrowly; and caught signs of distrust and smothered rage (as
Harry thought) which foreboded no good. On the point of honour Esmond knew
how touchy his patron was; and watched him almost as a physician watches a
patient, and it seemed to him that this one was slow to take the disease,
though he could not throw off the poison when once it had mingled with his
blood. We read in Shakespeare (whom the writer for his part considers to
be far beyond Mr. Congreve, Mr. Dryden, or any of the wits of the present
period) that when jealousy is once declared, nor poppy, nor mandragora,
nor all the drowsy syrups of the East, will ever soothe it or medicine it
away.

In fine, the symptoms seemed to be so alarming to this young physician
(who indeed young as he was had felt the kind pulses of all those dear
kinsmen), that Harry thought it would be his duty to warn my Lord Mohun,
and let him know that his designs were suspected and watched. So one day,
when in rather a pettish humour, his lordship had sent to Lady Castlewood,
who had promised to drive with him, and now refused to come, Harry
said—“My lord, if you will kindly give me a place by your side I will
thank you; I have much to say to you, and would like to speak to you
alone.”

“You honour me by giving me your confidence, Mr. Henry Esmond,” says the
other, with a very grand bow. My lord was always a fine gentleman, and
young as he was there was that in Esmond’s manner which showed that he was
a gentleman too, and that none might take a liberty with him—so the pair
went out, and mounted the little carriage which was in waiting for them in
the court, with its two little cream-coloured Hanoverian horses covered
with splendid furniture and champing at the bit.

“My lord,” says Harry Esmond, after they were got into the country, and
pointing to my Lord Mohun’s foot, which was swathed in flannel, and put up
rather ostentatiously on a cushion—“my lord, I studied medicine at
Cambridge.”

“Indeed, Parson Harry,” says he: “and are you going to take out a diploma:
and cure your fellow student of the——”

“Of the gout,” says Harry, interrupting him, and looking him hard in the
face; “I know a good deal about the gout.”

“I hope you may never have it. ’Tis an infernal disease,” says my lord,
“and its twinges are diabolical. Ah!” and he made a dreadful wry face, as
if he just felt a twinge.

“Your lordship would be much better if you took off all that flannel—it
only serves to inflame the toe,” Harry continued, looking his man full in
the face.

“Oh! it only serves to inflame the toe, does it?” says the other, with an
innocent air.

“If you took off that flannel, and flung that absurd slipper away, and
wore a boot,” continues Harry.

“You recommend me boots, Mr. Esmond?” asks my lord.

“Yes, boots and spurs. I saw your lordship three days ago run down the
gallery fast enough,” Harry goes on. “I am sure that taking gruel at night
is not so pleasant as claret to your lordship; and besides it keeps your
lordship’s head cool for play, whilst my patron’s is hot and flustered
with drink.”

“’Sdeath, sir, you dare not say that I don’t play fair?” cries my lord,
whipping his horses, which went away at a gallop.

“You are cool when my lord is drunk,” Harry continued; “your lordship gets
the better of my patron. I have watched you as I looked up from my books.”

“You young Argus!” says Lord Mohun, who liked Harry Esmond—and for whose
company and wit, and a certain daring manner, Harry had a great liking
too—“You young Argus! you may look with all your hundred eyes and see we
play fair. I’ve played away an estate of a night, and I’ve played my shirt
off my back; and I’ve played away my periwig and gone home in a nightcap.
But no man can say I ever took an advantage of him beyond the advantage of
the game. I played a dice-cogging scoundrel in Alsatia for his ears and
won ’em, and have one of ’em in my lodging in Bow Street in a bottle of
spirits. Harry Mohun will play any man for anything—always would.”

“You are playing awful stakes, my lord, in my patron’s house,” Harry said,
“and more games than are on the cards.”

“What do you mean, sir?” cries my lord, turning round, with a flush on his
face.

“I mean,” answers Harry, in a sarcastic tone, “that your gout is well—if
ever you had it.”

“Sir!” cried my lord, getting hot.

“And to tell the truth I believe your lordship has no more gout than I
have. At any rate, change of air will do you good, my Lord Mohun. And I
mean fairly that you had better go from Castlewood.”

“And were you appointed to give me this message?” cries the Lord Mohun.
“Did Frank Esmond commission you?”

“No one did. ’Twas the honour of my family that commissioned me.”

“And you are prepared to answer this?” cries the other, furiously lashing
his horses.

“Quite, my lord: your lordship will upset the carriage if you whip so
hotly.”

“By George, you have a brave spirit!” my lord cried out, bursting into a
laugh. “I suppose ’tis that infernal _botte de Jésuite_ that makes you so
bold,” he added.

“’Tis the peace of the family I love best in the world,” Harry Esmond said
warmly—“’tis the honour of a noble benefactor—the happiness of my dear
mistress and her children. I owe them everything in life, my lord; and
would lay it down for any one of them. What brings you here to disturb
this quiet household? What keeps you lingering month after month in the
country? What makes you feign illness and invent pretexts for delay? Is it
to win my poor patron’s money? Be generous, my lord, and spare his
weakness for the sake of his wife and children. Is it to practise upon the
simple heart of a virtuous lady? You might as well storm the Tower
single-handed. But you may blemish her name by light comments on it, or by
lawless pursuits—and I don’t deny that ’tis in your power to make her
unhappy. Spare these innocent people, and leave them.”

“By the Lord, I believe thou hast an eye to the pretty Puritan thyself,
Master Harry,” says my lord, with his reckless, good-humoured laugh, and
as if he had been listening with interest to the passionate appeal of the
young man. “Whisper, Harry. Art thou in love with her thyself? Hath tipsy
Frank Esmond come by the way of all flesh?”

“My lord, my lord,” cried Harry, his face flushing and his eyes filling as
he spoke, “I never had a mother, but I love this lady as one. I worship
her as a devotee worships a saint. To hear her name spoken lightly seems
blasphemy to me. Would you dare think of your own mother so, or suffer any
one so to speak of her! It is a horror to me to fancy that any man should
think of her impurely. I implore you, I beseech you, to leave her. Danger
will come out of it.”

“Danger, psha!” says my lord, giving a cut to the horses, which at this
minute—for we were got on to the Downs—fairly ran off into a gallop that
no pulling could stop. The rein broke in Lord Mohun’s hands, and the
furious beasts scampered madly forwards, the carriage swaying to and fro,
and the persons within it holding on to the sides as best they might,
until seeing a great ravine before them, where an upset was inevitable,
the two gentlemen leapt for their lives, each out of his side of the
chaise. Harry Esmond was quit for a fall on the grass, which was so severe
that it stunned him for a minute; but he got up presently very sick, and
bleeding at the nose, but with no other hurt. The Lord Mohun was not so
fortunate; he fell on his head against a stone, and lay on the ground dead
to all appearance.

This misadventure happened as the gentlemen were on their return
homewards; and my Lord Castlewood, with his son and daughter, who were
going out for a ride, met the ponies as they were galloping with the car
behind, the broken traces entangling their heels, and my lord’s people
turned and stopped them. It was young Frank who spied out Lord Mohun’s
scarlet coat as he lay on the ground, and the party made up to that
unfortunate gentleman and Esmond, who was now standing over him. His large
periwig and feathered hat had fallen off, and he was bleeding profusely
from a wound on the forehead, and looking, and being, indeed, a corpse.

“Great God! he’s dead!” says my lord. “Ride, some one: fetch a
doctor—stay. I’ll go home and bring back Tusher; he knows surgery,” and my
lord, with his son after him, galloped away.

They were scarce gone when Harry Esmond, who was indeed but just come to
himself, bethought him of a similar accident which he had seen on a ride
from Newmarket to Cambridge, and taking off a sleeve of my lord’s coat,
Harry, with a penknife, opened a vein in his arm, and was greatly
relieved, after a moment, to see the blood flow. He was near half an hour
before he came to himself, by which time Doctor Tusher and little Frank
arrived, and found my lord not a corpse indeed, but as pale as one.

After a time, and when he was able to bear motion, they put my lord upon a
groom’s horse, and gave the other to Esmond, the men walking on each side
of my lord, to support him, if need were, and worthy Doctor Tusher with
them. Little Frank and Harry rode together at a foot pace.

When we rode together home, the boy said: “We met mamma, who was walking
on the terrace with the doctor, and papa frightened her, and told her you
were dead——”

“That I was dead?” asks Harry.

“Yes. Papa says: ‘Here’s poor Harry killed, my dear;’ on which mamma gives
a great scream; and oh, Harry! she drops down; and I thought she was dead,
too. And you never saw such a way as papa was in: he swore one of his
great oaths: and he turned quite pale; and then he began to laugh somehow,
and he told the doctor to take his horse, and me to follow him; and we
left him. And I looked back, and saw him dashing water out of the fountain
on to mamma. Oh, she was so frightened!”

Musing upon this curious history—for my Lord Mohun’s name was Henry too,
and they called each other Frank and Harry often—and not a little
disturbed and anxious, Esmond rode home. His dear lady was on the terrace
still, one of her women with her, and my lord no longer there. There are
steps and a little door thence down into the road. My lord passed, looking
very ghastly, with a handkerchief over his head, and without his hat and
periwig, which a groom carried, but his politeness did not desert him, and
he made a bow to the lady above.

“Thank Heaven you are safe,” she said.

“And so is Harry, too, mamma,” says little Frank,—“huzzay!”

Harry Esmond got off the horse to run to his mistress, as did little
Frank, and one of the grooms took charge of the two beasts, while the
other, hat and periwig in hand, walked by my lord’s bridle to the front
gate, which lay half a mile away.

“Oh, my boy! what a fright you have given me!” Lady Castlewood said, when
Harry Esmond came up, greeting him with one of her shining looks, and a
voice of tender welcome; and she was so kind as to kiss the young man
(’twas the second time she had so honoured him), and she walked into the
house between him and her son, holding a hand of each.



Chapter XIV. We Ride After Him To London


After a repose of a couple of days, the Lord Mohun was so far recovered of
his hurt as to be able to announce his departure for the next morning;
when, accordingly, he took leave of Castlewood, proposing to ride to
London by easy stages, and lie two nights upon the road. His host treated
him with a studied and ceremonious courtesy, certainly different from my
lord’s usual frank and careless demeanour; but there was no reason to
suppose that the two lords parted otherwise than good friends, though
Harry Esmond remarked that my lord viscount only saw his guest in company
with other persons, and seemed to avoid being alone with him. Nor did he
ride any distance with Lord Mohun, as his custom was with most of his
friends, whom he was always eager to welcome and unwilling to lose; but
contented himself, when his lordship’s horses were announced, and their
owner appeared booted for his journey, to take a courteous leave of the
ladies of Castlewood, by following the Lord Mohun downstairs to his
horses, and by bowing and wishing him a good day, in the courtyard. “I
shall see you in London before very long, Mohun,” my lord said, with, a
smile; “when we will settle our accounts together.”

“Do not let them trouble you, Frank,” said the other good-naturedly, and,
holding out his hand, looked rather surprised at the grim and stately
manner in which his host received his parting salutation: and so, followed
by his people, he rode away.

Harry Esmond was witness of the departure. It was very different to my
lord’s coming, for which great preparation had been made (the old house
putting on its best appearance to welcome its guest), and there was a
sadness and constraint about all persons that day, which filled Mr. Esmond
with gloomy forebodings, and sad indefinite apprehensions. Lord Castlewood
stood at the door watching his guest and his people as they went out under
the arch of the outer gate. When he was there, Lord Mohun turned once
more, my lord viscount slowly raised his beaver and bowed. His face wore a
peculiar livid look, Harry thought. He cursed and kicked away his dogs,
which came jumping about him—then he walked up to the fountain in the
centre of the court, and leaned against a pillar and looked into the
basin. As Esmond crossed over to his own room, late the chaplain’s, on the
other side of the court, and turned to enter in at the low door, he saw
Lady Castlewood looking through the curtains of the great window of the
drawing-room overhead, at my lord as he stood regarding the fountain.
There was in the court a peculiar silence somehow; and the scene remained
long in Esmond’s memory;—the sky bright overhead; the buttresses of the
building and the sundial casting shadow over the gilt _memento mori_
inscribed underneath; the two dogs, a black greyhound and a spaniel nearly
white, the one with his face up to the sun, and the other snuffing amongst
the grass and stones, and my lord leaning over the fountain, which was
plashing audibly. ’Tis strange how that scene and the sound of that
fountain remain fixed on the memory of a man who has beheld a hundred
sights of splendour, and danger too, of which he has kept no account.

It was Lady Castlewood, she had been laughing all the morning, and
especially gay and lively before her husband and his guest, who, as soon
as the two gentlemen went together from her room, ran to Harry, the
expression of her countenance quite changed now, and with a face and eyes
full of care, and said, “Follow them, Harry, I am sure something has gone
wrong.” And so it was that Esmond was made an eavesdropper at this lady’s
orders: and retired to his own chamber, to give himself time in truth to
try and compose a story which would soothe his mistress, for he could not
but have his own apprehension that some serious quarrel was pending
between the two gentlemen.

And now for several days the little company at Castlewood sat at table as
of evenings: this care, though unnamed and invisible, being nevertheless
present alway, in the minds of at least three persons there. My lord was
exceeding gentle and kind. Whenever he quitted the room, his wife’s eyes
followed him. He behaved to her with a kind of mournful courtesy and
kindness remarkable in one of his blunt ways and ordinary rough manner. He
called her by her Christian name often and fondly, was very soft and
gentle with the children, especially with the boy, whom he did not love,
and being lax about church generally, he went thither and performed all
the offices (down even to listening to Doctor Tusher’s sermon) with great
devotion.

“He paces his room all night; what is it? Henry, find out what it is,”
Lady Castlewood said constantly to her young dependant. “He has sent three
letters to London,” she said, another day.

“Indeed, madam, they were to a lawyer,” Harry answered, who knew of these
letters, and had seen a part of the correspondence, which related to a new
loan my lord was raising; and when the young man remonstrated with his
patron, my lord said, “He was only raising money to pay off an old debt on
the property, which must be discharged.”

Regarding the money, Lady Castlewood was not in the least anxious. Few
fond women feel money-distressed; indeed you can hardly give a woman a
greater pleasure than to bid her pawn her diamonds for the man she loves;
and I remember hearing Mr. Congreve say of my Lord Marlborough, that the
reason why my lord was so successful with women as a young man was,
because he took money of them. “There are few men who will make such a
sacrifice for them,” says Mr. Congreve, who knew a part of the sex pretty
well.

Harry Esmond’s vacation was just over, and, as hath been said, he was
preparing to return to the University for his last term before taking his
degree and entering into the Church. He had made up his mind for this
office, not indeed with that reverence which becomes a man about to enter
upon a duty so holy, but with a worldly spirit of acquiescence in the
prudence of adopting that profession for his calling. But his reasoning
was that he owed all to the family of Castlewood, and loved better to be
near them than anywhere else in the world; that he might be useful to his
benefactors, who had the utmost confidence in him and affection for him in
return; that he might aid in bringing up the young heir of the house and
acting as his governor; that he might continue to be his dear patron’s and
mistress’s friend and adviser, who both were pleased to say that they
should ever look upon him as such: and so, by making himself useful to
those he loved best, he proposed to console himself for giving up of any
schemes of ambition which he might have had in his own bosom. Indeed, his
mistress had told him that she would not have him leave her; and whatever
she commanded was will to him.

The Lady Castlewood’s mind was greatly relieved in the last few days of
this well-remembered holiday time, by my lord’s announcing one morning,
after the post had brought him letters from London, in a careless tone,
that the Lord Mohun was gone to Paris, and was about to make a great
journey in Europe; and though Lord Castlewood’s own gloom did not wear
off, or his behaviour alter, yet this cause of anxiety being removed from
his lady’s mind, she began to be more hopeful and easy in her spirits:
striving too, with all her heart, and by all the means of soothing in her
power, to call back my lord’s cheerfulness and dissipate his moody humour.

He accounted for it himself, by saying that he was out of health; that he
wanted to see his physician; that he would go to London, and consult
Doctor Cheyne. It was agreed that his lordship and Harry Esmond should
make the journey as far as London together; and of a Monday morning, the
10th of October, in the year 1700, they set forwards towards London on
horseback. The day before being Sunday, and the rain pouring down, the
family did not visit church; and at night my lord read the service to his
family, very finely, and with a peculiar sweetness and gravity—speaking
the parting benediction, Harry thought, as solemn as ever he heard it. And
he kissed and embraced his wife and children before they went to their own
chambers with more fondness than he was ordinarily wont to show, and with
a solemnity and feeling of which they thought in after days with no small
comfort.

They took horse the next morning (after adieux from the family as tender
as on the night previous), lay that night on the road, and entered London
at nightfall; my lord going to the “Trumpet”, in the Cockpit, Whitehall, a
house used by the military in his time as a young man, and accustomed by
his lordship ever since.

An hour after my lord’s arrival (which showed that his visit had been
arranged beforehand), my lord’s man of business arrived from Gray’s Inn;
and thinking that his patron might wish to be private with the lawyer,
Esmond was for leaving them: but my lord said his business was short;
introduced Mr. Esmond particularly to the lawyer, who had been engaged for
the family in the old lord’s time; who said that he had paid the money, as
desired that day, to my Lord Mohun himself, at his lodgings in Bow Street;
that his lordship had expressed some surprise, as it was not customary to
employ lawyers, he said, in such transactions between men of honour; but,
nevertheless, he had returned my lord viscount’s note of hand, which he
held at his client’s disposition.

“I thought the Lord Mohun had been in Paris!” cried Mr. Esmond, in great
alarm and astonishment.

“He is come back at my invitation,” said my lord viscount. “We have
accounts to settle together.”

“I pray Heaven they are over, sir,” says Esmond.

“Oh, quite,” replied the other, looking hard at the young man. “He was
rather troublesome about that money which I told you I had lost to him at
play. And now ’tis paid, and we are quits on that score, and we shall meet
good friends again.”

“My lord,” cried out Esmond, “I am sure you are deceiving me, and that
there is a quarrel between the Lord Mohun and you.”

“Quarrel—pish! We shall sup together this very night, and drink a bottle.
Every man is ill-humoured who loses such a sum as I have lost. But now
’tis paid, and my anger is gone with it.”

“Where shall we sup, sir?” says Harry.

“_We!_ Let some gentlemen wait till they are asked,” says my lord
viscount, with a laugh. “You go to Duke Street, and see Mr. Betterton. You
love the play, I know. Leave me to follow my own devices; and in the
morning we’ll breakfast together, with what appetite we may, as the play
says.”

“By G——! my lord, I will not leave you this night,” says Harry Esmond. “I
think I know the cause of your dispute. I swear to you ’tis nothing. On
the very day the accident befell Lord Mohun, I was speaking to him about
it. I know that nothing has passed but idle gallantry on his part.”

“You know that nothing has passed but idle gallantry between Lord Mohun
and my wife,” says my lord, in a thundering voice—“you knew of this, and
did not tell me?”

“I knew more of it than my dear mistress did herself, sir—a thousand times
more. How was she, who was as innocent as a child, to know what was the
meaning of the covert addresses of a villain?”

“A villain he is, you allow, and would have taken my wife away from me.”

“Sir, she is as pure as an angel,” cried young Esmond.

“Have I said a word against her?” shrieks out my lord. “Did I ever doubt
that she was pure? It would have been the last day of her life when I did.
Do you fancy I think that _she_ would go astray? No, she hasn’t passion
enough for that. She neither sins nor forgives. I know her temper—and now
I’ve lost her: by Heaven I love her ten thousand times more than ever I
did—yes, when she was young and as beautiful as an angel—when she smiled
at me in her old father’s house, and used to lie in wait for me there as I
came from hunting—when I used to fling my head down on her little knees
and cry like a child on her lap—and swear I would reform and drink no
more, and play no more, and follow women no more; when all the men of the
Court used to be following her—when she used to look with her child more
beautiful, by George, than the Madonna in the Queen’s Chapel. I am not
good like her, I know it. Who is—by Heaven, who is? I tired and wearied
her, I know that very well. I could not talk to her. You men of wit and
books could do that, and I couldn’t—I felt I couldn’t. Why, when you was
but a boy of fifteen I could hear you two together talking your poetry and
your books till I was in such a rage that I was fit to strangle you. But
you were always a good lad, Harry, and I loved you, you know I did. And I
felt she didn’t belong to me: and the children don’t. And I besotted
myself, and gambled, and drank, and took to all sorts of devilries out of
despair and fury. And now comes this Mohun, and she likes him, I know she
likes him.”

“Indeed, and on my soul, you are wrong, sir,” Esmond cried.

“She takes letters from him,” cries my lord—“look here Harry,” and he
pulled out a paper with a brown stain of blood upon it. “It fell from him
that day he wasn’t killed. One of the grooms picked it up from the ground
and gave it me. Here it is in their d——d comedy jargon. ‘Divine
Gloriana—Why look so coldly on your slave who adores you? Have you no
compassion on the tortures you have seen me suffering? Do you vouchsafe no
reply to billets that are written with the blood of my heart.’ She had
more letters from him.”

“But she answered none,” cries Esmond.

“That’s not Mohun’s fault,” says my lord, “and I will be revenged on him,
as God’s in heaven, I will.”

“For a light word or two, will you risk your lady’s honour and your
family’s happiness, my lord?” Esmond interposed beseechingly.

“Psha—there shall be no question of my wife’s honour,” said my lord; “we
can quarrel on plenty of grounds beside. If I live, that villain will be
punished; if I fall, my family will be only the better: there will only be
a spendthrift the less to keep in the world: and Frank has better teaching
than his father. My mind is made up, Harry Esmond, and whatever the event
is I am easy about it. I leave my wife and you as guardians to the
children.”

Seeing that my lord was bent upon pursuing this quarrel, and that no
entreaties would draw him from it, Harry Esmond (then of a hotter and more
impetuous nature than now, when care, and reflection, and grey hairs have
calmed him) thought it was his duty to stand by his kind generous patron,
and said—“My lord, if you are determined upon war, you must not go into it
alone. ’Tis the duty of our house to stand by its chief: and I should
neither forgive myself nor you if you did not call me, or I should be
absent from you at a moment of danger.”

“Why, Harry, my poor boy, you are bred for a parson,” says my lord, taking
Esmond by the hand very kindly: “and it were a great pity that you should
meddle in the matter.”

“Your lordship thought of being a churchman once,” Harry answered, “and
your father’s orders did not prevent him fighting at Castlewood against
the Roundheads. Your enemies are mine, sir: I can use the foils, as you
have seen, indifferently well, and don’t think I shall be afraid when the
buttons are taken off ’em.” And then Harry explained with some blushes and
hesitation (for the matter was delicate, and he feared lest, by having put
himself forward in the quarrel, he might have offended his patron), how he
had himself expostulated with the Lord Mohun, and proposed to measure
swords with him if need were, and he could not be got to withdraw
peaceably in this dispute. “And I should have beat him, sir,” says Harry,
laughing. “He never could parry that _botte_ I brought from Cambridge. Let
us have half an hour of it, and rehearse—I can teach it your lordship:
’tis the most delicate point in the world, and if you miss it your
adversary’s sword is through you.”

“By George, Harry! you ought to be the head of the house,” says my lord
gloomily. “You had been better Lord Castlewood than a lazy sot like me,”
he added, drawing his hand across his eyes, and surveying his kinsman with
very kind and affectionate glances.

“Let us take our coats off and have half an hour’s practice before
nightfall,” says Harry, after thankfully grasping his patron’s manly hand.

“You are but a little bit of a lad,” says my lord good-humouredly; “but,
in faith, I believe you could do for that fellow. No, my boy,” he
continued, “I’ll have none of your feints and tricks of stabbing: I can
use my sword pretty well too, and will fight my own quarrel my own way.”

“But I shall be by to see fair play,” cries Harry.

“Yes, God bless you—you shall be by.”

“When is it, sir?” says Harry, for he saw that the matter had been
arranged privately, and beforehand, by my lord.

“’Tis arranged thus: I sent off a courier to Jack Westbury to say that I
wanted him specially. He knows for what, and will be here presently, and
drink part of that bottle of sack. Then we shall go to the theatre in Duke
Street, where we shall meet Mohun; and then we shall all go sup at the
‘Rose’ or the ‘Greyhound’. Then we shall call for cards, and there will be
probably a difference over the cards—and then, God help us!—either a
wicked villain and traitor shall go out of the world, or a poor worthless
devil, that doesn’t care to remain in it. I am better away, Hal—my wife
will be all the happier when I am gone,” says my lord, with a groan, that
tore the heart of Harry Esmond so that he fairly broke into a sob over his
patron’s kind hand.

“The business was talked over with Mohun before he left home—Castlewood I
mean”—my lord went on. “I took the letter in to him, which I had read, and
I charged him with his villany, and he could make no denial of it, only he
said that my wife was innocent.”

“And so she is; before Heaven, my lord, she is!” cries Harry.

“No doubt, no doubt. They always are,” says my lord. “No doubt, when she
heard he was killed, she fainted from accident.”

“But, my lord, _my_ name is Harry,” cried out Esmond, burning red. “You
told my lady, ‘Harry was killed!’ ”

“Damnation! shall I fight you too?” shouts my lord, in a fury. “Are you,
you little serpent, warmed by my fire, going to sting—_you?_—No, my boy,
you’re an honest boy; you are a good boy.” (And here he broke from rage
into tears even more cruel to see.) “You are an honest boy, and I love
you; and, by Heavens, I am so wretched that I don’t care what sword it is
that ends me. Stop, here’s Jack Westbury. Well, Jack! Welcome, old boy!
This is my kinsman, Harry Esmond.”

“Who brought your bowls for you at Castlewood, sir,” says Harry, bowing;
and the three gentlemen sat down and drank of that bottle of sack which
was prepared for them.

“Harry is number three,” says my lord. “You needn’t be afraid of him,
Jack.” And the colonel gave a look, as much as to say, “Indeed, he don’t
look as if I need.” And then my lord explained what he had only told by
hints before. When he quarrelled with Lord Mohun he was indebted to his
lordship in a sum of sixteen hundred pounds, for which Lord Mohun said he
proposed to wait until my lord viscount should pay him. My lord had raised
the sixteen hundred pounds and sent them to Lord Mohun that morning, and
before quitting home had put his affairs into order, and was now quite
ready to abide the issue of the quarrel.

When we had drunk a couple of bottles of sack, a coach was called, and the
three gentlemen went to the Duke’s Playhouse, as agreed. The play was one
of Mr. Wycherley’s—_Love in a Wood_.

Harry Esmond has thought of that play ever since with a kind of terror,
and of Mrs. Bracegirdle, the actress who performed the girl’s part in the
comedy. She was disguised as a page, and came and stood before the
gentlemen as they sat on the stage, and looked over her shoulder with a
pair of arch black eyes, and laughed at my lord, and asked what ailed the
gentlemen from the country, and had he had bad news from Bullock Fair?

Between the acts of the play the gentlemen crossed over and conversed
freely. There were two of Lord Mohun’s party, Captain Macartney, in a
military habit, and a gentleman in a suit of blue velvet and silver in a
fair periwig, with a rich fall of point of Venice lace—my lord the Earl of
Warwick and Holland. My lord had a paper of oranges, which he ate and
offered to the actresses, joking with them. And Mrs. Bracegirdle, when my
Lord Mohun said something rude, turned on him, and asked him what he did
there, and whether he and his friends had come to stab anybody else, as
they did poor Will Mountford? My lord’s dark face grew darker at this
taunt, and wore a mischievous fatal look. They that saw it remembered it,
and said so afterward.

When the play was ended the two parties joined company; and my Lord
Castlewood then proposed that they should go to a tavern and sup.
Lockit’s, the “Greyhound”, in Charing Cross, was the house selected. All
six marched together that way; the three lords going ahead, Lord Mohun’s
captain, and Colonel Westbury, and Harry Esmond, walking behind them. As
they walked, Westbury told Harry Esmond about his old friend Dick the
Scholar, who had got promotion, and was cornet of the Guards, and had
wrote a book called the _Christian Hero_, and had all the Guards to laugh
at him for his pains, for the Christian Hero was breaking the commandments
constantly, Westbury said, and had fought one or two duels already. And,
in a lower tone, Westbury besought young Mr. Esmond to take no part in the
quarrel. “There was no need for more seconds than one,” said the colonel,
“and the captain or Lord Warwick might easily withdraw.” But Harry said
no; he was bent on going through with the business. Indeed, he had a plan
in his head, which, he thought, might prevent my lord viscount from
engaging.

They went in at the bar of the tavern, and desired a private room and wine
and cards, and when the drawer had brought these, they began to drink and
call healths, and as long as the servants were in the room appeared very
friendly.

Harry Esmond’s plan was no other than to engage in talk with Lord Mohun,
to insult him, and so get the first of the quarrel. So when cards were
proposed he offered to play. “Psha!” says my Lord Mohun (whether wishing
to save Harry, or not choosing to try the _botte de Jésuite_, it is not to
be known)—“young gentlemen from college should not play these stakes. You
are too young.”

“Who dares say I am too young?” broke out Harry. “Is your lordship
afraid?”

“Afraid!” cries out Mohun.

But my good lord viscount saw the move—“I’ll play you for ten moidores,
Mohun,” says he—“You silly boy, we don’t play for groats here as you do at
Cambridge:” and Harry, who had no such sum in his pocket (for his
half-year’s salary was always pretty well spent before it was due), fell
back with rage and vexation in his heart that he had not money enough to
stake.

“I’ll stake the young gentleman a crown,” says the Lord Mohun’s captain.

“I thought crowns were rather scarce with the gentlemen of the army,” says
Harry.

“Do they birch at college?” says the captain.

“They birch fools,” says Harry, “and they cane bullies, and they fling
puppies into the water.”

“Faith, then, there’s some escapes drowning,” says the captain, who was an
Irishman; and all the gentlemen began to laugh, and made poor Harry only
more angry.

My Lord Mohun presently snuffed a candle. It was when the drawers brought
in fresh bottles and glasses and were in the room—on which my lord
viscount said—“The deuce take you, Mohun, how damned awkward you are!
Light the candle, you drawer.”

“Damned awkward is a damned awkward expression, my lord,” says the other.
“Town gentlemen don’t use such words—or ask pardon if they do.”

“I’m a country gentleman,” says my lord viscount.

“I see it by your manner,” says my Lord Mohun. “No man shall say ‘damned
awkward’ to me.”

“I fling the words in your face, my lord,” says the other; “shall I send
the cards too?”

“Gentlemen, gentlemen! before the servants?” cry out Colonel Westbury and
my Lord Warwick in a breath. The drawers go out of the room hastily. They
tell the people below of the quarrel upstairs.

“Enough has been said,” says Colonel Westbury. “Will your lordships meet
to-morrow morning?”

“Will my Lord Castlewood withdraw his words?” asks the Earl of Warwick.

“My Lord Castlewood will be —— first,” says Colonel Westbury.

“Then we have nothing for it. Take notice, gentlemen, there have been
outrageous words—reparation asked and refused.”

“And refused,” says my Lord Castlewood, putting on his hat. “Where shall
the meeting be? and when?”

“Since my lord refuses me satisfaction, which I deeply regret, there is no
time so good as now,” says my Lord Mohun. “Let us have chairs and go to
Leicester Field.”

“Are your lordship and I to have the honour of exchanging a pass or two?”
says Colonel Westbury, with a low bow to my Lord of Warwick and Holland.

“It is an honour for me,” says my lord, with a profound congée, “to be
matched with a gentleman who has been at Mons and Namur.”

“Will your reverence permit me to give you a lesson?” says the captain.

“Nay, nay, gentlemen, two on a side are plenty,” says Harry’s patron.
“Spare the boy, Captain Macartney,” and he shook Harry’s hand—for the last
time, save one, in his life.

At the bar of the tavern all the gentlemen stopped, and my lord viscount
said, laughing, to the barwoman, that those cards set people sadly
a-quarrelling; but that the dispute was over now, and the parties were all
going away to my Lord Mohun’s house, in Bow Street, to drink a bottle more
before going to bed.

A half-dozen of chairs were now called, and the six gentlemen stepping
into them, the word was privately given to the chairmen to go to Leicester
Field, where the gentlemen were set down opposite the “Standard” Tavern.
It was midnight, and the town was abed by this time, and only a few lights
in the windows of the houses; but the night was bright enough for the
unhappy purpose which the disputants came about; and so all six entered
into that fatal square, the chairmen standing without the railing and
keeping the gate, lest any persons should disturb the meeting.

All that happened there hath been matter of public notoriety, and is
recorded, for warning to lawless men, in the annals of our country. After
being engaged for not more than a couple of minutes, as Harry Esmond
thought (though being occupied at the time with his own adversary’s point,
which was active, he may not have taken a good note of time), a cry from
the chairmen without, who were smoking their pipes, and leaning over the
railings of the field as they watched the dim combat within, announced
that some catastrophe had happened which caused Esmond to drop his sword
and look round, at which moment his enemy wounded him in the right hand.
But the young man did not heed this hurt much, and ran up to the place
where he saw his dear master was down.

My Lord Mohun was standing over him.

“Are you much hurt, Frank?” he asked, in a hollow voice.

“I believe I’m a dead man,” my lord said from the ground.

“No, no, not so,” says the other; “and I call God to witness, Frank
Esmond, that I would have asked your pardon, had you but given me a
chance. In—in the first cause of our falling out, I swear that no one was
to blame but me, and—and that my lady——”

“Hush!” says my poor lord viscount, lifting himself on his elbow, and
speaking faintly. “’Twas a dispute about the cards—the cursed cards.
Harry, my boy, are you wounded, too? God help thee! I loved thee, Harry,
and thou must watch over my little Frank—and—and carry this little heart
to my wife.”

And here my dear lord felt in his breast for a locket he wore there, and,
in the act, fell back, fainting.

We were all at this terrified, thinking him dead; but Esmond and Colonel
Westbury bade the chairmen to come into the field; and so my lord was
carried to one Mr. Aimes, a surgeon, in Long Acre, who kept a bath, and
there the house was wakened up, and the victim of this quarrel carried in.

My lord viscount was put to bed, and his wound looked to by the surgeon,
who seemed both kind and skilful. When he had looked to my lord, he
bandaged up Harry Esmond’s hand (who, from loss of blood, had fainted too,
in the house, and may have been some time unconscious); and when the young
man came to himself, you may be sure he eagerly asked what news there were
of his dear patron; on which the surgeon carried him to the room where the
Lord Castlewood lay; who had already sent for a priest; and desired
earnestly, they said, to speak with his kinsman. He was lying on a bed,
very pale and ghastly, with that fixed, fatal look in his eyes, which
betokens death; and faintly beckoning all the other persons away from him
with his hand, and crying out “Only Harry Esmond”, the hand fell powerless
down on the coverlet, as Harry came forward, and knelt down and kissed it.

“Thou art all but a priest, Harry,” my lord viscount gasped out, with a
faint smile, and pressure of his cold hand. “Are they all gone? Let me
make thee a death-bed confession.”

And with sacred Death waiting, as it were, at the bed-foot, as an awful
witness of his words, the poor dying soul gasped out his last wishes in
respect of his family;—his humble profession of contrition for his
faults;—and his charity towards the world he was leaving. Some things he
said concerned Harry Esmond as much as they astonished him. And my lord
viscount, sinking visibly, was in the midst of these strange confessions,
when the ecclesiastic for whom my lord had sent, Mr. Atterbury, arrived.

This gentleman had reached to no great church dignity as yet, but was only
preacher at St. Bride’s, drawing all the town thither by his eloquent
sermons. He was godson to my lord, who had been pupil to his father; had
paid a visit to Castlewood from Oxford more than once; and it was by his
advice, I think, that Harry Esmond was sent to Cambridge, rather than to
Oxford, of which place Mr. Atterbury, though a distinguished member, spoke
but ill.

Our messenger found the good priest already at his books, at five o’clock
in the morning, and he followed the man eagerly to the house where my poor
lord viscount lay—Esmond watching him, and taking his dying words from his
mouth.

My lord, hearing of Mr. Atterbury’s arrival, and squeezing Esmond’s hand,
asked to be alone with the priest; and Esmond left them there for this
solemn interview. You may be sure that his own prayers and grief
accompanied that dying benefactor. My lord had said to him that which
confounded the young man—informed him of a secret which greatly concerned
him. Indeed, after hearing it, he had had good cause for doubt and dismay;
for mental anguish as well as resolution. While the colloquy between Mr.
Atterbury and his dying penitent took place within, an immense contest of
perplexity was agitating Lord Castlewood’s young companion.

At the end of an hour—it may be more—Mr. Atterbury came out of the room
looking very hard at Esmond, and holding a paper.

“He is on the brink of God’s awful judgement,” the priest whispered. “He
has made his breast clean to me. He forgives and believes, and makes
restitution. Shall it be in public? Shall we call a witness to sign it?”

“God knows,” sobbed out the young man, “my dearest lord has only done me
kindness all his life.”

The priest put the paper into Esmond’s hand. He looked at it. It swam
before his eyes.

“’Tis a confession,” he said.

“’Tis as you please,” said Mr. Atterbury.

There was a fire in the room, where the cloths were drying for the baths,
and there lay a heap in a corner, saturated with the blood of my dear
lord’s body. Esmond went to the fire, and threw the paper into it. ’Twas a
great chimney with glazed Dutch tiles. How we remember such trifles in
such awful moments!—the scrap of the book that we have read in a great
grief—the taste of that last dish that we have eaten before a duel or some
such supreme meeting or parting. On the Dutch tiles at the bagnio was a
rude picture representing Jacob in hairy gloves, cheating Isaac of Esau’s
birthright. The burning paper lighted it up.

“’Tis only a confession, Mr. Atterbury,” said the young man. He leaned his
head against the mantelpiece: a burst of tears came to his eyes. They were
the first he had shed as he sat by his lord, scared by this calamity and
more yet by what the poor dying gentleman had told him, and shocked to
think that he should be the agent of bringing this double misfortune on
those he loved best.

“Let us go to him,” said Mr. Esmond. And accordingly they went into the
next chamber, where, by this time, the dawn had broke, which showed my
lord’s poor pale face and wild appealing eyes, that wore that awful fatal
look of coming dissolution. The surgeon was with him. He went into the
chamber as Atterbury came out thence. My lord viscount turned round his
sick eyes towards Esmond. It choked the other to hear that rattle in his
throat.

“My lord viscount,” says Mr. Atterbury, “Mr. Esmond wants no witnesses,
and hath burned the paper.”

“My dearest master!” Esmond said, kneeling down, and taking his hand and
kissing it.

My lord viscount sprang up in his bed, and flung his arms round Esmond.
“God bl—bless...,” was all he said. The blood rushed from his mouth,
deluging the young man. My dearest lord was no more. He was gone with a
blessing on his lips, and love and repentance and kindness in his manly
heart.

“_Benedicti benedicentes_,” says Mr. Atterbury, and the young man kneeling
at the bedside, groaned out an Amen.

“Who shall take the news to her?” was Mr. Esmond’s next thought. And on
this he besought Mr. Atterbury to bear the tidings to Castlewood. He could
not face his mistress himself with those dreadful news. Mr. Atterbury
complying kindly, Esmond writ a hasty note on his table-book to my lord’s
man, bidding him get the horses for Mr. Atterbury, and ride with him, and
send Esmond’s own valise to the Gatehouse prison, whither he resolved to
go and give himself up.



Book II. Contains Mr. Esmond’s Military Life, And Other Matters
Appertaining To The Esmond Family



Chapter I. I Am In Prison, And Visited, But Not Consoled There


Those may imagine, who have seen death untimely strike down persons
revered and beloved, and know how unavailing consolation is, what was
Harry Esmond’s anguish after being an actor in that ghastly midnight scene
of blood and homicide. He could not, he felt, have faced his dear
mistress, and told her that story. He was thankful that kind Atterbury
consented to break the sad news to her; but, besides his grief, which he
took into prison with him, he had that in his heart which secretly cheered
and consoled him.

A great secret had been told to Esmond by his unhappy stricken kinsman,
lying on his death-bed. Were he to disclose it, as in equity and honour he
might do, the discovery would but bring greater grief upon those whom he
loved best in the world, and who were sad enough already. Should he bring
down shame and perplexity upon all those beings to whom he was attached by
so many tender ties of affection and gratitude? degrade his father’s
widow? impeach and sully his father’s and kinsman’s honour? and for what?
for a barren title, to be worn at the expense of an innocent boy, the son
of his dearest benefactress. He had debated this matter in his conscience,
whilst his poor lord was making his dying confession. On one side were
ambition, temptation, justice even; but love, gratitude, and fidelity,
pleaded on the other. And when the struggle was over in Harry’s mind, a
glow of righteous happiness filled it; and it was with grateful tears in
his eyes that he returned thanks to God for that decision which he had
been enabled to make.

“When I was denied by my own blood,” thought he; “these dearest friends
received and cherished me. When I was a nameless orphan myself, and needed
a protector, I found one in yonder kind soul, who has gone to his account
repenting of the innocent wrong he has done.”

And with this consoling thought he went away to give himself up at the
prison, after kissing the cold lips of his benefactor.

It was on the third day after he had come to the Gatehouse prison (where
he lay in no small pain from his wound, which inflamed and ached
severely); and with those thoughts and resolutions that have been just
spoke of, to depress, and yet to console him, that H. Esmond’s keeper came
and told him that a visitor was asking for him, and though he could not
see her face, which was enveloped in a black hood, her whole figure, too,
being veiled and covered with the deepest mourning, Esmond knew at once
that his visitor was his dear mistress.

He got up from his bed, where he was lying, being very weak; and advancing
towards her, as the retiring keeper shut the door upon him and his guest
in that sad place, he put forward his left hand (for the right was wounded
and bandaged), and he would have taken that kind one of his mistress,
which had done so many offices of friendship for him for so many years.

But the Lady Castlewood went back from him, putting back her hood, and
leaning against the great stanchioned door which the gaoler had just
closed upon them. Her face was ghastly white, as Esmond saw it, looking
from the hood; and her eyes, ordinarily so sweet and tender, were fixed at
him with such a tragic glance of woe and anger, as caused the young man,
unaccustomed to unkindness from that person, to avert his own glances from
her face.

“And this, Mr. Esmond,” she said, “is where I see you; and ’tis to this
you have brought me!”

“You have come to console me in my calamity, madam,” said he (though, in
truth, he scarce knew how to address her, his emotions at beholding her,
so overpowered him).

She advanced a little, but stood silent and trembling, looking out at him
from her black draperies, with her small white hands clasped together, and
quivering lips and hollow eyes.

“Not to reproach me,” he continued, after a pause, “My grief is sufficient
as it is.”

“Take back your hand—do not touch me with it!” she cried. “Look! there’s
blood on it!”

“I wish they had taken it all,” said Esmond; “if you are unkind to me.”

“Where is my husband?” she broke out. “Give me back my husband, Henry? Why
did you stand by at midnight and see him murdered? Why did the traitor
escape who did it? You, the champion of your house, who offered to die for
us! You that he loved and trusted, and to whom I confided him—you that
vowed devotion and gratitude, and I believed you—yes, I believed you—why
are you here, and my noble Francis gone? Why did you come among us? You
have only brought us grief and sorrow; and repentance, bitter, bitter
repentance, as a return for our love and kindness. Did I ever do you a
wrong, Henry? You were but an orphan child when I first saw you—when _he_
first saw you, who was so good, and noble, and trusting. He would have had
you sent away, but, like a foolish woman, I besought him to let you stay.
And you pretended to love us, and we believed you—and you made our house
wretched, and my husband’s heart went from me: and I lost him through
you—I lost him—the husband of my youth, I say. I worshipped him: you know
I worshipped him—and he was changed to me. He was no more my Francis of
old—my dear, dear soldier. He loved me before he saw you; and I loved him;
oh, God is my witness how I loved him! Why did he not send you from among
us? ’Twas only his kindness, that could refuse me nothing then. And, young
as you were—yes, and weak and alone—there was evil, I knew there was evil
in keeping you. I read it in your face and eyes. I saw that they boded
harm to us—and it came, I knew it would. Why did you not die when you had
the small-pox—and I came myself and watched you, and you didn’t know me in
your delirium—and you called out for me, though I was there at your side.
All that has happened since, was a just judgement on my wicked heart—my
wicked jealous heart. Oh, I am punished—awfully punished! My husband lies
in his blood—murdered for defending me, my kind, kind, generous lord—and
you were by, and you let him die, Henry!”

These words, uttered in the wildness of her grief, by one who was
ordinarily quiet, and spoke seldom except with a gentle smile and a
soothing tone, rung in Esmond’s ear; and ’tis said that he repeated many
of them in the fever into which he now fell from his wound, and perhaps
from the emotion which such passionate, undeserved upbraidings caused him.
It seemed as if his very sacrifices and love for this lady and her family
were to turn to evil and reproach: as if his presence amongst them was
indeed a cause of grief, and the continuance of his life but woe and
bitterness to theirs. As the Lady Castlewood spoke bitterly, rapidly,
without a tear, he never offered a word of appeal or remonstrance; but sat
at the foot of his prison-bed, stricken only with the more pain at
thinking it was that soft and beloved hand which should stab him so
cruelly, and powerless against her fatal sorrow. Her words as she spoke
struck the chords of all his memory, and the whole of his boyhood and
youth passed within him; whilst this lady, so fond and gentle but
yesterday—this good angel whom he had loved and worshipped—stood before
him, pursuing him with keen words and aspect malign.

“I wish I were in my lord’s place,” he groaned out. “It was not my fault
that I was not there, madam. But Fate is stronger than all of us, and
willed what has come to pass. It had been better for me to have died when
I had the illness.”

“Yes, Henry,” said she—and as she spoke she looked at him with a glance
that was at once so fond and so sad, that the young man, tossing up his
arms, wildly fell back, hiding his head in the coverlet of the bed. As he
turned he struck against the wall with his wounded hand, displacing the
ligature; and he felt the blood rushing again from the wound. He
remembered feeling a secret pleasure at the accident—and thinking,
“Suppose I were to end now, who would grieve for me?”

This haemorrhage, or the grief and despair in which the luckless young man
was at the time of the accident, must have brought on a deliquium
presently; for he had scarce any recollection afterwards, save of some
one, his mistress probably, seizing his hand—and then of the buzzing noise
in his ears as he awoke, with two or three persons of the prison around
his bed, whereon he lay in a pool of blood from his arm.

It was now bandaged up again by the prison surgeon, who happened to be in
the place; and the governor’s wife and servant, kind people both, were
with the patient. Esmond saw his mistress still in the room when he awoke
from his trance; but she went away without a word; though the governor’s
wife told him that she sat in her room for some time afterward, and did
not leave the prison until she heard that Esmond was likely to do well.

Days afterwards, when Esmond was brought out of a fever which he had, and
which attacked him that night pretty sharply, the honest keeper’s wife
brought her patient a handkerchief fresh washed and ironed, and at the
corner of which he recognized his mistress’s well-known cipher and
viscountess’s crown. “The lady had bound it round his arm when he fainted,
and before she called for help,” the keeper’s wife said; “poor lady; she
took on sadly about her husband. He has been buried to-day, and a many of
the coaches of the nobility went with him,—my Lord Marlborough’s and my
Lord Sunderland’s, and many of the officers of the Guards, in which he
served in the old king’s time; and my lady has been with her two children
to the king at Kensington, and asked for justice against my Lord Mohun,
who is in hiding, and my lord the Earl of Warwick and Holland, who is
ready to give himself up and take his trial.”

Such were the news, coupled with assertions about her own honesty and that
of Molly her maid, who would never have stolen a certain trumpery gold
sleeve-button of Mr. Esmond’s that was missing after his fainting fit,
that the keeper’s wife brought to her lodger. His thoughts followed to
that untimely grave, the brave heart, the kind friend, the gallant
gentleman, honest of word and generous of thought (if feeble of purpose,
but are his betters much stronger than he?) who had given him bread and
shelter when he had none; home and love when he needed them; and who, if
he had kept one vital secret from him, had done that of which he repented
ere dying—a wrong indeed, but one followed by remorse, and occasioned by
almost irresistible temptation.

Esmond took his handkerchief when his nurse left him, and very likely
kissed it, and looked at the bauble embroidered in the corner. “It has
cost thee grief enough,” he thought, “dear lady, so loving and so tender.
Shall I take it from thee and thy children? No, never! Keep it, and wear
it, my little Frank, my pretty boy. If I cannot make a name for myself, I
can die without one. Some day, when my dear mistress sees my heart, I
shall be righted; or if not here or now, why, elsewhere; where Honour doth
not follow us, but where Love reigns perpetual.”

’Tis needless to narrate here, as the reports of the lawyers already have
chronicled them, the particulars or issue of that trial which ensued upon
my Lord Castlewood’s melancholy homicide. Of the two lords engaged in that
said matter, the second, my lord the Earl of Warwick and Holland, who had
been engaged with Colonel Westbury, and wounded by him, was found not
guilty by his peers, before whom he was tried (under the presidence of the
Lord Steward, Lord Somers); and the principal, the Lord Mohun, being found
guilty of the manslaughter (which, indeed, was forced upon him, and of
which he repented most sincerely), pleaded his clergy; and so was
discharged without any penalty. The widow of the slain nobleman, as it was
told us in prison, showed an extraordinary spirit; and, though she had to
wait for ten years before her son was old enough to compass it, declared
she would have revenge of her husband’s murderer. So much and suddenly had
grief, anger, and misfortune appeared to change her. But fortune, good or
ill, as I take it, does not change men and women. It but develops their
characters. As there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he
does not know till he takes up the pen to write, so the heart is a secret
even to him (or her) who has it in his own breast. Who hath not found
himself surprised into revenge, or action, or passion, for good or evil;
whereof the seeds lay within him, latent and unsuspected, until the
occasion called them forth? With the death of her lord, a change seemed to
come over the whole conduct and mind of Lady Castlewood; but of this we
shall speak in the right season and anon.

The lords being tried then before their peers at Westminster, according to
their privilege, being brought from the Tower with state processions and
barges, and accompanied by lieutenants and axe-men, the commoners engaged
in that melancholy fray took their trial at Newgate, as became them; and,
being all found guilty, pleaded likewise their benefit of clergy. The
sentence, as we all know, in these cases is, that the culprit lies a year
in prison, or during the king’s pleasure, and is burned in the hand, or
only stamped with a cold iron; or this part of the punishment is
altogether remitted at the grace of the sovereign. So Harry Esmond found
himself a criminal and a prisoner at two-and-twenty years old; as for the
two colonels, his comrades, they took the matter very lightly. Duelling
was a part of their business; and they could not in honour refuse any
invitations of that sort.

But the case was different with Mr. Esmond. His life was changed by that
stroke of the sword which destroyed his kind patron’s. As he lay in
prison, old Dr. Tusher fell ill and died; and Lady Castlewood appointed
Thomas Tusher to the vacant living; about the filling of which she had a
thousand times fondly talked to Harry Esmond: how they never should part;
how he should educate her boy; how to be a country clergyman, like saintly
George Herbert, or pious Dr. Ken, was the happiness and greatest lot in
life; how (if he were obstinately bent on it, though, for her part, she
owned rather to holding Queen Bess’s opinion, that a bishop should have no
wife, and if not a bishop why a clergyman?) she would find a good wife for
Harry Esmond: and so on, with a hundred pretty prospects told by fireside
evenings, in fond prattle, as the children played about the hall. All
these plans were overthrown now. Thomas Tusher wrote to Esmond, as he lay
in prison, announcing that his patroness had conferred upon him the living
his reverend father had held for many years; that she never, after the
tragical events which had occurred (whereof Tom spoke with a very edifying
horror), could see in the revered Tusher’s pulpit, or at her son’s table,
the man who was answerable for the father’s life; that her ladyship bade
him to say that she prayed for her kinsman’s repentance and his worldly
happiness; that he was free to command her aid for any scheme of life
which he might propose to himself; but that on this side of the grave she
would see him no more. And Tusher, for his own part, added that Harry
should have his prayers as a friend of his youth, and commended him whilst
he was in prison to read certain works of theology, which his reverence
pronounced to be very wholesome for sinners in his lamentable condition.

And this was the return for a life of devotion—this the end of years of
affectionate intercourse and passionate fidelity! Harry would have died
for his patron, and was held as little better than his murderer: he had
sacrificed, she did not know how much, for his mistress, and she threw him
aside—he had endowed her family with all they had, and she talked about
giving him alms as to a menial! The grief for his patron’s loss: the pains
of his own present position, and doubts as to the future: all these were
forgotten under the sense of the consummate outrage which he had to
endure, and overpowered by the superior pang of that torture.

He writ back a letter to Mr. Tusher from his prison, congratulating his
reverence upon his appointment to the living of Castlewood: sarcastically
bidding him to follow in the footsteps of his admirable father, whose gown
had descended upon him—thanking her ladyship for her offer of alms, which
he said he should trust not to need; and beseeching her to remember that,
if ever her determination should change towards him, he would be ready to
give her proofs of a fidelity which had never wavered, and which ought
never to have been questioned by that house. “And if we meet no more, or
only as strangers in this world,” Mr. Esmond concluded, “a sentence
against the cruelty and injustice of which I disdain to appeal; hereafter
she will know who was faithful to her, and whether she had any cause to
suspect the love and devotion of her kinsman and servant.”

After the sending of this letter, the poor young fellow’s mind was more at
ease than it had been previously. The blow had been struck, and he had
borne it. His cruel goddess had shaken her wings and fled: and left him
alone and friendless, but _virtute sua_. And he had to bear him up, at
once the sense of his right and the feeling of his wrongs, his honour and
his misfortune. As I have seen men waking and running to arms at a sudden
trumpet; before emergency a manly heart leaps up resolute; meets the
threatening danger with undaunted countenance; and, whether conquered or
conquering, faces it always. Ah! no man knows his strength or his
weakness, till occasion proves them. If there be some thoughts and actions
of his life from the memory of which a man shrinks with shame, sure there
are some which he may be proud to own and remember; forgiven injuries,
conquered temptations (now and then), and difficulties vanquished by
endurance.

                  -------------------------------------

It was these thoughts regarding the living, far more than any great
poignancy of grief respecting the dead, which affected Harry Esmond whilst
in prison after his trial: but it may be imagined that he could take no
comrade of misfortune into the confidence of his feelings, and they
thought it was remorse and sorrow for his patron’s loss which affected the
young man, in error of which opinion he chose to leave them. As a
companion he was so moody and silent that the two officers, his fellow
sufferers, left him to himself mostly, liked little very likely what they
knew of him, consoled themselves with dice, cards, and the bottle, and
whiled away their own captivity in their own way. It seemed to Esmond as
if he lived years in that prison: and was changed and aged when he came
out of it. At certain periods of life we live years of emotion in a few
weeks—and look back on those times, as on great gaps between the old life
and the new. You do not know how much you suffer in those critical
maladies of the heart, until the disease is over and you look back on it
afterwards. During the time, the suffering is at least sufferable. The day
passes in more or less of pain, and the night wears away somehow. ’Tis
only in after-days that we see what the danger has been—as a man out
a-hunting or riding for his life looks at a leap, and wonders how he
should have survived the taking of it. O dark months of grief and rage! of
wrong and cruel endurance! He is old now who recalls you. Long ago he has
forgiven and blest the soft hand that wounded him: but the mark is there,
and the wound is cicatrized only—no time, tears, caresses, or repentance,
can obliterate the scar. We are indocile to put up with grief, however.
_Reficimus rates quassas_: we tempt the ocean again and again, and try
upon new ventures. Esmond thought of his early time as a novitiate, and of
this past trial as an initiation before entering into life—as our young
Indians undergo tortures silently before they pass to the rank of warriors
in the tribe.

The officers, meanwhile, who were not let into the secret of the grief
which was gnawing at the side of their silent young friend, and being
accustomed to such transactions, in which one comrade or another was daily
paying the forfeit of the sword, did not of course bemoan themselves very
inconsolably about the fate of their late companion in arms. This one told
stories of former adventures of love, or war, or pleasure, in which poor
Frank Esmond had been engaged; t’other recollected how a constable had
been bilked, or a tavern-bully beaten: whilst my lord’s poor widow was
sitting at his tomb worshipping him as an actual saint and spotless
hero—so the visitors said who had news of Lady Castlewood; and Westbury
and Macartney had pretty nearly had all the town to come and see them.

The duel, its fatal termination, the trial of the two peers and the three
commoners concerned, had caused the greatest excitement in the town. The
prints and News Letters were full of them. The three gentlemen in Newgate
were almost as much crowded as the bishops in the Tower, or a highwayman
before execution. We were allowed to live in the governor’s house, as hath
been said, both before trial and after condemnation, waiting the king’s
pleasure; nor was the real cause of the fatal quarrel known, so closely
had my lord and the two other persons who knew it kept the secret, but
every one imagined that the origin of the meeting was a gambling dispute.
Except fresh air, the prisoners had, upon payment, most things they could
desire. Interest was made that they should not mix with the vulgar
convicts, whose ribald choruses and loud laughter and curses could be
heard from their own part of the prison, where they and the miserable
debtors were confined pell-mell.



Chapter II. I Come To The End Of My Captivity, But Not Of My Trouble


Among the company which came to visit the two officers was an old
acquaintance of Harry Esmond; that gentleman of the Guards, namely, who
had been so kind to Harry when Captain Westbury’s troop had been quartered
at Castlewood more than seven years before. Dick the Scholar was no longer
Dick the Trooper now, but Captain Steele of Lucas’s Fusiliers, and
secretary to my Lord Cutts, that famous officer of King William’s, the
bravest and most beloved man of the English army. The two jolly prisoners
had been drinking with a party of friends (for our cellar and that of the
keepers of Newgate, too, were supplied with endless hampers of burgundy
and champagne that the friends of the colonels sent in); and Harry, having
no wish for their drink or their conversation, being too feeble in health
for the one and too sad in spirits for the other, was sitting apart in his
little room, reading such books as he had, one evening, when honest
Colonel Westbury, flushed with liquor, and always good-humoured in and out
of his cups, came laughing into Harry’s closet, and said, “Ho, young
Killjoy! here’s a friend come to see thee; he’ll pray with thee, or he’ll
drink with thee; or he’ll drink and pray turn about. Dick, my Christian
hero, here’s the little scholar of Castlewood.”

Dick came up and kissed Esmond on both cheeks, imparting a strong perfume
of burnt sack along with his caress to the young man.

“What! is this the little man that used to talk Latin and fetch our bowls?
How tall thou art grown! I protest I should have known thee anywhere. And
so you have turned ruffian and fighter; and wanted to measure swords with
Mohun, did you? I protest that Mohun said at the Guard dinner yesterday,
where there was a pretty company of us, that the young fellow wanted to
fight him, and was the better man of the two.”

“I wish we could have tried and proved it, Mr. Steele,” says Esmond,
thinking of his dead benefactor, and his eyes filling with tears.

With the exception of that one cruel letter which he had from his
mistress, Mr. Esmond heard nothing from her, and she seemed determined to
execute her resolve of parting from him and disowning him. But he had news
of her, such as it was, which Mr. Steele assiduously brought him from the
prince’s and princesses’ Court, where our honest captain had been advanced
to the post of gentleman waiter. When off duty there, Captain Dick often
came to console his friends in captivity; a good nature and a friendly
disposition towards all who were in ill fortune no doubt prompting him to
make his visits, and good fellowship and good wine to prolong them.

“Faith,” says Westbury, “the little scholar was the first to begin the
quarrel—I mind me of it now—at Lockit’s. I always hated that fellow Mohun.
What was the real cause of the quarrel betwixt him and poor Frank? I would
wager ’twas a woman.”

“’Twas a quarrel about play—on my word, about play,” Harry said. “My poor
lord lost great sums to his guest at Castlewood. Angry words passed
between them; and, though Lord Castlewood was the kindest and most pliable
soul alive, his spirit was very high; and hence that meeting which has
brought us all here,” says Mr. Esmond, resolved never to acknowledge that
there had ever been any other but cards for the duel.

“I do not like to use bad words of a nobleman,” says Westbury; “but if my
Lord Mohun were a commoner, I would say, ’twas a pity he was not hanged.
He was familiar with dice and women at a time other boys are at school,
being birched; he was as wicked as the oldest rake, years ere he had done
growing; and handled a sword and a foil, and a bloody one too, before ever
he used a razor. He held poor Will Mountford in talk that night, when
bloody Dick Hill ran him through. He will come to a bad end, will that
young lord; and no end is bad enough for him,” says honest Mr. Westbury:
whose prophecy was fulfilled twelve years after, upon that fatal day when
Mohun fell, dragging down one of the bravest and greatest gentlemen in
England in his fall.

From Mr. Steele, then, who brought the public rumour, as well as his own
private intelligence, Esmond learned the movements of his unfortunate
mistress. Steele’s heart was of very inflammable composition; and the
gentleman usher spoke in terms of boundless admiration both of the widow
(that most beautiful woman, as he said) and of her daughter, who, in the
captain’s eyes, was a still greater paragon. If the pale widow, whom
Captain Richard, in his poetic rapture, compared to a Niobe in tears—to a
Sigismunda—to a weeping Belvidera, was an object the most lovely and
pathetic which his eyes had ever beheld, or for which his heart had
melted, even her ripened perfections and beauty were as nothing compared
to the promise of that extreme loveliness which the good captain saw in
her daughter. It was _matre pulcra filia pulcrior_. Steele composed
sonnets whilst he was on duty in his prince’s antechamber, to the maternal
and filial charms. He would speak for hours about them to Harry Esmond;
and, indeed, he could have chosen few subjects more likely to interest the
unhappy young man, whose heart was now as always devoted to these ladies;
and who was thankful to all who loved them, or praised them, or wished
them well.

Not that his fidelity was recompensed by any answering kindness, or show
of relenting even, on the part of a mistress obdurate now after ten years
of love and benefactions. The poor young man getting no answer, save
Tusher’s, to that letter which he had written, and being too proud to
write more, opened a part of his heart to Steele, than whom no man, when
unhappy, could find a kinder hearer or more friendly emissary; described
(in words which were no doubt pathetic, for they came _imo pectore_, and
caused honest Dick to weep plentifully) his youth, his constancy, his fond
devotion to that household which had reared him; his affection how earned,
and how tenderly requited until but yesterday, and (as far as he might)
the circumstances and causes for which that sad quarrel had made of Esmond
a prisoner under sentence, a widow and orphans of those whom in life he
held dearest. In terms that might well move a harder-hearted man than
young Esmond’s confidant—for, indeed, the speaker’s own heart was half
broke as he uttered them; he described a part of what had taken place in
that only sad interview which his mistress had granted him; how she had
left him with anger and almost imprecation, whose words and thoughts until
then had been only blessing and kindness; how she had accused him of the
guilt of that blood, in exchange for which he would cheerfully have
sacrificed his own (indeed, in this the Lord Mohun, the Lord Warwick, and
all the gentlemen engaged, as well as the common rumour out of
doors—Steele told him—bore out the luckless young man); and with all his
heart, and tears, he besought Mr. Steele to inform his mistress of her
kinsman’s unhappiness, and to deprecate that cruel anger she showed him.
Half frantic with grief at the injustice done him, and contrasting it with
a thousand soft recollections of love and confidence gone by, that made
his present misery inexpressibly more bitter, the poor wretch passed many
a lonely day and wakeful night in a kind of powerless despair and rage
against his iniquitous fortune. It was the softest hand that struck him,
the gentlest and most compassionate nature that persecuted him. “I would
as lief,” he said, “have pleaded guilty to the murder, and have suffered
for it like any other felon, as have to endure the torture to which my
mistress subjects me.”

Although the recital of Esmond’s story, and his passionate appeals and
remonstrances, drew so many tears from Dick who heard them, they had no
effect upon the person whom they were designed to move. Esmond’s
ambassador came back from the mission with which the poor young gentleman
had charged him, with a sad blank face and a shake of the head, which told
that there was no hope for the prisoner; and scarce a wretched culprit in
that prison of Newgate ordered for execution, and trembling for a
reprieve, felt more cast down than Mr. Esmond, innocent and condemned.

As had been arranged between the prisoner and his counsel in their
consultations, Mr. Steele had gone to the dowager’s house in Chelsey,
where it has been said the widow and her orphans were, had seen my lady
viscountess and pleaded the cause of her unfortunate kinsman. “And I think
I spoke well, my poor boy,” says Mr. Steele; “for who would not speak well
in such a cause, and before so beautiful a judge? I did not see the lovely
Beatrix (sure her famous namesake of Florence was never half so
beautiful), only the young viscount was in the room with the Lord
Churchill, my Lord of Marlborough’s eldest son. But these young gentlemen
went off to the garden, I could see them from the window tilting at each
other with poles in a mimic tournament (grief touches the young but
lightly, and I remember that I beat a drum at the coffin of my own
father). My lady viscountess looked out at the two boys at their game, and
said—‘You see, sir, children are taught to use weapons of death as toys,
and to make a sport of murder’; and as she spoke she looked so lovely, and
stood there in herself so sad and beautiful an instance of that doctrine
whereof I am a humble preacher, that had I not dedicated my little volume
of the _Christian Hero_ (I perceive, Harry, thou hast not cut the leaves
of it. The sermon is good, believe me, though the preacher’s life may not
answer it)—I say, hadn’t I dedicated the volume to Lord Cutts, I would
have asked permission to place her ladyship’s name on the first page. I
think I never saw such a beautiful violet as that of her eyes, Harry. Her
complexion is of the pink of the blush-rose, she hath an exquisite turned
wrist and dimpled hand, and I make no doubt——”

“Did you come to tell me about the dimples on my lady’s hand?” broke out
Mr. Esmond, sadly.

“A lovely creature in affliction seems always doubly beautiful to me,”
says the poor captain, who indeed was but too often in a state to see
double, and so checked he resumed the interrupted thread of his story. “As
I spoke my business,” Mr. Steele said, “and narrated to your mistress what
all the world knows, and the other side hath been eager to
acknowledge—that you had tried to put yourself between the two lords, and
to take your patron’s quarrel on your own point; I recounted the general
praises of your gallantry, besides my Lord Mohun’s particular testimony to
it; I thought the widow listened with some interest, and her eyes—I have
never seen such a violet, Harry—looked up at mine once or twice. But after
I had spoken on this theme for a while she suddenly broke away with a cry
of grief. ‘I would to God, sir,’ she said, ‘I had never heard that word
gallantry which you use, or known the meaning of it. My lord might have
been here but for that; my home might be happy; my poor boy have a father.
It was what you gentlemen call gallantry came into my home, and drove my
husband on to the cruel sword that killed him. You should not speak the
word to a Christian woman, sir—a poor widowed mother of orphans, whose
home was happy until the world came into it—the wicked godless world, that
takes the blood of the innocent, and lets the guilty go free.’

“As the afflicted lady spoke in this strain, sir,” Mr. Steele continued,
“it seemed as if indignation moved her, even more than grief.
‘Compensation!’ she went on passionately, her cheeks and eyes kindling;
‘what compensation does your world give the widow for her husband, and the
children for the murderer of their father? The wretch who did the deed has
not even a punishment. Conscience! what conscience has he, who can enter
the house of a friend, whisper falsehood and insult to a woman that never
harmed him, and stab the kind heart that trusted him? My lord—my Lord
Wretch, my Lord Villain’s, my Lord Murderer’s peers meet to try him, and
they dismiss him with a word or two of reproof, and send him into the
world again, to pursue women with lust and falsehood, and to murder
unsuspecting guests that harbour him. That day, my lord—my Lord
Murderer—(I will never name him)—was let loose, a woman was executed at
Tyburn for stealing in a shop. But a man may rob another of his life, or a
lady of her honour, and shall pay no penalty! I take my child, run to the
throne, and on my knees ask for justice, and the king refuses me. The
king! he is no king of mine—he never shall be. He, too, robbed the throne
from the king his father—the true king—and he has gone unpunished, as the
great do.’

“I then thought to speak for you,” Mr. Steele continued, “and I interposed
by saying, ‘There was one, madam, who, at least, would have put his own
breast between your husband’s and my Lord Mohun’s sword. Your poor young
kinsman, Harry Esmond, hath told me that he tried to draw the quarrel on
himself.’

“ ‘Are you come from _him_?’ asked the lady” (so Mr. Steele went on),
“rising up with a great severity and stateliness. ‘I thought you had come
from the princess. I saw Mr. Esmond in his prison, and bade him farewell.
He brought misery into my house. He never should have entered it.’

“ ‘Madam, madam, he is not to blame,’ I interposed,” continued Mr. Steele.

“ ‘Do I blame him to you, sir?’ asked the widow. ‘If ’tis he who sent you,
say that I have taken counsel, where’—she spoke with a very pallid cheek
now, and a break in her voice—‘where all who ask may have it;—and that it
bids me to part from him, and to see him no more. We met in the prison for
the last time—at least for years to come. It may be, in years hence,
when—when our knees and our tears and our contrition have changed our
sinful hearts, sir, and wrought our pardon, we may meet again—but not now.
After what has passed, I could not bear to see him. I wish him well, sir;
but I wish him farewell, too; and if he has that—that regard towards us
which he speaks of, I beseech him to prove it by obeying me in this.’

“ ‘I shall break the young man’s heart, madam, by this hard sentence,’ ”
Mr. Steele said.

“The lady shook her head,” continued my kind scholar. “ ‘The hearts of
young men, Mr. Steele, are not so made,’ she said. ‘Mr. Esmond will find
other—other friends. The mistress of this house has relented very much
towards the late lord’s son,’ she added, with a blush, ‘and has promised
me, that is, has promised that she will care for his fortune. Whilst I
live in it, after the horrid, horrid deed which has passed, Castlewood
must never be a home to him—never. Nor would I have him write to
me—except—no—I would have him never write to me, nor see him more. Give
him, if you will, my parting—Hush! not a word of this before my daughter.’

“Here the fair Beatrix entered from the river, with her cheeks flushing
with health, and looking only the more lovely and fresh for the mourning
habiliments which she wore. And my lady viscountess said—

“ ‘Beatrix, this is Mr. Steele, gentleman-usher to the prince’s highness.
When does your new comedy appear, Mr. Steele?’ I hope thou wilt be out of
prison for the first night, Harry.”

The sentimental captain concluded his sad tale, saying, “Faith, the beauty
of _Filia pulcrior_ drove _pulcram matrem_ out of my head; and yet as I
came down the river, and thought about the pair, the pallid dignity and
exquisite grace of the matron had the uppermost, and I thought her even
more noble than the virgin!”

                  -------------------------------------

The party of prisoners lived very well in Newgate, and with comforts very
different to those which were awarded to the poor wretches there (his
insensibility to their misery, their gaiety still more frightful, their
curses and blasphemy, hath struck with a kind of shame since—as proving
how selfish, during his imprisonment, his own particular grief was, and
how entirely the thoughts of it absorbed him): if the three gentlemen
lived well under the care of the warden of Newgate, it was because they
paid well: and indeed the cost at the dearest ordinary or the grandest
tavern in London could not have furnished a longer reckoning, than our
host of the “Handcuff Inn”—as Colonel Westbury called it. Our rooms were
the three in the gate over Newgate—on the second story looking up Newgate
Street towards Cheapside and Paul’s Church. And we had leave to walk on
the roof, and could see thence Smithfield and the Bluecoat Boys’ School,
Gardens, and the Chartreux, where, as Harry Esmond remembered, Dick the
Scholar, and his friend Tom Tusher, had had their schooling.

Harry could never have paid his share of that prodigious heavy reckoning
which my landlord brought to his guests once a week: for he had but three
pieces in his pockets that fatal night before the duel, when the gentlemen
were at cards, and offered to play five. But whilst he was yet ill at the
Gatehouse, after Lady Castlewood had visited him there, and before his
trial, there came one in an orange-tawny coat and blue lace, the livery
which the Esmonds always wore, and brought a sealed packet for Mr. Esmond,
which contained twenty guineas, and a note saying that a counsel had been
appointed for him, and that more money would be forthcoming whenever he
needed it.

’Twas a queer letter from the scholar as she was, or as she called
herself: the Dowager Viscountess Castlewood, written in the strange
barbarous French which she and many other fine ladies of that time—witness
Her Grace of Portsmouth—employed. Indeed, spelling was not an article of
general commodity in the world then, and my Lord Marlborough’s letters can
show that he, for one, had but a little share of this part of grammar.


    Mong Coussin (my lady viscountess dowager wrote), je scay que vous
    vous etes bravement batew et grievement bléssay—du costé de feu M.
    le Vicomte. M. le Compte de Varique ne se playt qua parlay de
    vous: M. de Moon auçy. Il di que vous avay voulew vous bastre
    avecque luy—que vous estes plus fort que luy sur
    l’ayscrimme—quil’y a surtout certaine Botte que vous scavay quil
    n’a jammay sceu pariay: et que c’en eut été fay de luy si vouseluy
    vous vous fussiay battews ansamb. Aincy ce pauv Vicompte est mort.
    Mort et peutayt—Mon coussin, mon coussin! jay dans la tayste que
    vous n’estes quung pety Monst—angcy que les Esmonds ong tousjours
    esté. La veuve est chay moy. J’ay recuilly cet’ pauve famme. Elle
    est furieuse cont vous, allans tous les jours chercher le Roy
    (d’icy) démandant à gran cri revanche pour son Mary. Elle ne veux
    voyre ni entende parlay de vous: pourtant elle ne fay qu’en parlay
    milfoy par jour. Quand vous seray hor prison venay me voyre.
    J’auray soing de vous. Si cette petite Prude veut se défaire de
    song pety Monste (Hélas je craing qùil ne soy trotar!) je m’en
    chargeray. J’ay encor quelqu interay et quelques escus de costay.

    La Veuve se raccommode avec Miladi Marlboro qui est tout puiçante
    avecque la Reine Anne. Cet dam sentéraysent pour la petite prude;
    qui pourctant a un fi du mesme asge que vous savay.

    En sortant de prisong venez icy. Je ne puy vous recevoir chay-moy
    à cause des méchansetés du monde, may pre du moy vous aurez
    logement.

    ISABELLE VICOMPTESSE D’ESMOND.


Marchioness of Esmond this lady sometimes called herself, in virtue of
that patent which had been given by the late King James to Harry Esmond’s
father; and in this state she had her train carried by a knight’s wife, a
cup and cover of assay to drink from, and fringed cloth.

He who was of the same age as little Francis, whom we shall henceforth
call Viscount Castlewood here, was H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, born in the
same year and month with Frank, and just proclaimed at St. Germains, King
of Great Britain, France, and Ireland.



Chapter III. I Take The Queen’s Pay In Quin’s Regiment


The fellow in the orange-tawny livery with blue lace and facings was in
waiting when Esmond came out of prison, and, taking the young gentleman’s
slender baggage, led the way out of that odious Newgate, and by Fleet
Conduit, down to the Thames, where a pair of oars was called, and they
went up the river to Chelsea. Esmond thought the sun had never shone so
bright; nor the air felt so fresh and exhilarating. Temple Garden, as they
rowed by, looked like the garden of Eden to him, and the aspect of the
quays, wharves, and buildings by the river, Somerset House, and
Westminster (where the splendid new bridge was just beginning), Lambeth
tower and palace, and that busy shining scene of the Thames swarming with
boats and barges, filled his heart with pleasure and cheerfulness—as well
such a beautiful scene might to one who had been a prisoner so long, and
with so many dark thoughts deepening the gloom of his captivity. They
rowed up at length to the pretty village of Chelsey, where the nobility
have many handsome country-houses; and so came to my lady viscountess’s
house, a cheerful new house in the row facing the river, with a handsome
garden behind it, and a pleasant look-out both towards Surrey and
Kensington, where stands the noble ancient palace of the Lord Warwick,
Harry’s reconciled adversary.

Here in her ladyship’s saloon, the young man saw again some of those
pictures which had been at Castlewood, and which she had removed thence on
the death of her lord, Harry’s father. Specially, and in the place of
honour, was Sir Peter Lely’s picture of the Honourable Mistress Isabella
Esmond as Diana, in yellow satin, with a bow in her hand and a crescent in
her forehead; and dogs frisking about her. ’Twas painted about the time
when royal Endymions were said to find favour with this virgin huntress;
and, as goddesses have youth perpetual, this one believed to the day of
her death that she never grew older: and always persisted in supposing the
picture was still like her.

After he had been shown to her room by the groom of the chamber, who
filled many offices besides in her ladyship’s modest household; and after
a proper interval, his elderly goddess Diana vouchsafed to appear to the
young man. A blackamoor in a Turkish habit, with red boots and a silver
collar, on which the viscountess’s arms were engraven, preceded her and
bore her cushion; then came her gentlewoman; a little pack of spaniels
barking and frisking about preceded the austere huntress—then, behold, the
viscountess herself “dropping odours”. Esmond recollected from his
childhood that rich aroma of musk which his mother-in-law (for she may be
called so) exhaled. As the sky grows redder and redder towards sunset, so,
in the decline of her years, the cheeks of my lady dowager blushed more
deeply. Her face was illuminated with vermilion, which appeared the
brighter from the white paint employed to set it off. She wore the
ringlets which had been in fashion in King Charles’s time; whereas the
ladies of King William’s had head-dresses like the towers of Cybele. Her
eyes gleamed out from the midst of this queer structure of paint, dyes,
and pomatums. Such was my lady viscountess, Mr. Esmond’s father’s widow.

He made her such a profound bow as her dignity and relationship merited:
and advanced with the greatest gravity, and once more kissed that hand,
upon the trembling knuckles of which glittered a score of
rings—remembering old times when that trembling hand made him tremble.
“Marchioness,” says he, bowing, and on one knee, “is it only the hand I
may have the honour of saluting?” For, accompanying that inward laughter,
which the sight of such an astonishing old figure might well produce in
the young man, there was goodwill too, and the kindness of consanguinity.
She had been his father’s wife, and was his grandfather’s daughter. She
had suffered him in old days, and was kind to him now after her fashion.
And now that bar-sinister was removed from Esmond’s thought, and that
secret opprobrium no longer cast upon his mind, he was pleased to feel
family ties and own them—perhaps secretly vain of the sacrifice he had
made, and to think that he, Esmond, was really the chief of his house, and
only prevented by his own magnanimity from advancing his claim.

At least, ever since he had learned that secret from his poor patron on
his dying bed, actually as he was standing beside it, he had felt an
independency which he had never known before, and which since did not
desert him. So he called his old aunt marchioness, but with an air as if
he was the Marquis of Esmond who so addressed her.

Did she read in the young gentleman’s eyes, which had now no fear of hers
or their superannuated authority, that he knew or suspected the truth
about his birth? She gave a start of surprise at his altered manner:
indeed, it was quite a different bearing to that of the Cambridge student
who had paid her a visit two years since, and whom she had dismissed with
five pieces sent by the groom of the chamber. She eyed him, then trembled
a little more than was her wont, perhaps, and said, “Welcome, cousin”, in
a frightened voice.

His resolution, as has been said before, had been quite different, namely,
so to bear himself through life as if the secret of his birth was not
known to him; but he suddenly and rightly determined on a different
course. He asked that her ladyship’s attendants should be dismissed, and
when they were private—“Welcome, nephew, at least, madam, it should be,”
he said, “A great wrong has been done to me and to you, and to my poor
mother, who is no more.”

“I declare before Heaven that I was guiltless of it,” she cried out,
giving up her cause at once. “It was your wicked father who——”

“Who brought this dishonour on our family,” says Mr. Esmond. “I know it
full well. I want to disturb no one. Those who are in present possession
have been my dearest benefactors, and are quite innocent of intentional
wrong to me. The late lord, my dear patron, knew not the truth until a few
months before his death, when Father Holt brought the news to him.”

“The wretch! he had it in confession! He had it in confession!” cried out
the dowager lady.

“Not so. He learned it elsewhere as well as in confession,” Mr. Esmond
answered. “My father, when wounded at the Boyne, told the truth to a
French priest, who was in hiding after the battle, as well as to the
priest there, at whose house he died. This gentleman did not think fit to
divulge the story till he met with Mr. Holt at St. Omer’s. And the latter
kept it back for his own purpose, and until he had learned whether my
mother was alive or no. She is dead years since: my poor patron told me
with his dying breath; and I doubt him not. I do not know even whether I
could prove a marriage. I would not if I could. I do not care to bring
shame on our name, or grief upon those whom I love, however hardly they
may use me. My father’s son, madam, won’t aggravate the wrong my father
did you. Continue to be his widow, and give me your kindness. ’Tis all I
ask from you; and I shall never speak of this matter again.”

“_Mais vous êtes un noble jeune homme!_” breaks out my lady, speaking, as
usual with her when she was agitated, in the French language.

“_Noblesse oblige_,” says Mr. Esmond, making her a low bow. “There are
those alive to whom, in return for their love to me, I often fondly said I
would give my life away. Shall I be their enemy now, and quarrel about a
title? What matters who has it? ’Tis with the family still.”

“What can there be in that little prude of a woman, that makes men so
_raffoler_ about her?” cries out my lady dowager. “She was here for a
month petitioning the king. She is pretty, and well conserved; but she has
not the _bel air_. In his late Majesty’s Court all the men pretended to
admire her; and she was no better than a little wax doll. She is better
now, and looks the sister of her daughter: but what mean you all by
bepraising her? Mr. Steele, who was in waiting on Prince George, seeing
her with her two children going to Kensington, writ a poem about her; and
says he shall wear her colours, and dress in black for the future. Mr.
Congreve says he will write a _Mourning Widow_, that shall be better than
his _Mourning Bride_. Though their husbands quarrelled and fought when
that wretch Churchill deserted the king (for which he deserved to be
hung), Lady Marlborough has again gone wild about the little widow;
insulted me in my own drawing-room, by saying that ’twas not the _old_
widow, but the young viscountess, she had come to see. Little Castlewood
and little Lord Churchill are to be sworn friends, and have boxed each
other twice or thrice like brothers already. ’Twas that wicked young Mohun
who, coming back from the provinces last year, where he had disinterred
her, raved about her all the winter; said she was a pearl set before
swine; and killed poor stupid Frank. The quarrel was all about his wife. I
know ’twas all about her. Was there anything between her and Mohun,
nephew? Tell me now; was there anything? About yourself, I do not ask you
to answer questions.” Mr. Esmond blushed up. “My lady’s virtue is like
that of a saint in heaven, madam,” he cried out.

“Eh!—_mon neveu_. Many saints get to Heaven after having a deal to repent
of. I believe you are like all the rest of the fools, and madly in love
with her.”

“Indeed, I loved and honoured her before all the world,” Esmond answered.
“I take no shame in that.”

“And she has shut her door on you—given the living to that horrid young
cub, son of that horrid old bear, Tusher, and says she will never see you
more. _Monsieur mon neveu_—we are all like that. When I was a young woman,
I’m positive that a thousand duels were fought about me. And when poor
Monsieur de Souchy drowned himself in the canal at Bruges because I danced
with Count Springbock, I couldn’t squeeze out a single tear, but danced
till five o’clock the next morning. ’Twas the count—no, ’twas my Lord
Ormonde that paid the fiddles, and his Majesty did me the honour of
dancing all night with me.—How you are grown! You have got the _bel air_.
You are a black man. Our Esmonds are all black. The little prude’s son is
fair; so was his father—fair and stupid. You were an ugly little wretch
when you came to Castlewood—you were all eyes, like a young crow. We
intended you should be a priest. That awful Father Holt—how he used to
frighten me when I was ill! I have a comfortable director now—the Abbé
Douillette—a dear man. We make meagre on Fridays always. My cook is a
devout pious man. You, of course, are of the right way of thinking. They
say the Prince of Orange is very ill indeed.”

In this way the old dowager rattled on remorselessly to Mr. Esmond, who
was quite astounded with her present volubility, contrasting it with her
former haughty behaviour to him. But she had taken him into favour for the
moment, and chose not only to like him, as far as her nature permitted,
but to be afraid of him; and he found himself to be as familiar with her
now as a young man, as when a boy, he had been timorous and silent. She
was as good as her word respecting him. She introduced him to her company,
of which she entertained a good deal—of the adherents of King James of
course—and a great deal of loud intriguing took place over her
card-tables. She presented Mr. Esmond as her kinsman to many persons of
honour; she supplied him not illiberally with money, which he had no
scruple in accepting from her, considering the relationship which he bore
to her, and the sacrifices which he himself was making in behalf of the
family. But he had made up his mind to continue at no woman’s
apron-strings longer; and perhaps had cast about how he should distinguish
himself, and make himself a name, which his singular fortune had denied
him. A discontent with his former bookish life and quietude,—a bitter
feeling of revolt at that slavery in which he had chosen to confine
himself for the sake of those whose hardness towards him made his heart
bleed,—a restless wish to see men and the world,—led him to think of the
military profession: at any rate, to desire to see a few campaigns, and
accordingly he pressed his new patroness to get him a pair of colours; and
one day had the honour of finding himself appointed an ensign in Colonel
Quin’s regiment of Fusiliers on the Irish establishment.

Mr. Esmond’s commission was scarce three weeks old when that accident
befell King William which ended the life of the greatest, the wisest, the
bravest, and most clement sovereign whom England ever knew. ’Twas the
fashion of the hostile party to assail this great prince’s reputation
during his life; but the joy which they and all his enemies in Europe
showed at his death, is a proof of the terror in which they held him.
Young as Esmond was, he was wise enough (and generous enough too, let it
be said) to scorn that indecency of gratulation which broke out amongst
the followers of King James in London, upon the death of this illustrious
prince, this invincible warrior, this wise and moderate statesman. Loyalty
to the exiled king’s family was traditional, as has been said, in that
house to which Mr. Esmond belonged. His father’s widow had all her hopes,
sympathies, recollections, prejudices, engaged on King James’s side; and
was certainly as noisy a conspirator as ever asserted the king’s rights,
or abused his opponent’s, over a quadrille table or a dish of bohea. Her
ladyship’s house swarmed with ecclesiastics, in disguise and out; with
tale-bearers from St. Germains; and quidnuncs that knew the last news from
Versailles; nay, the exact force and number of the next expedition which
the French king was to send from Dunkirk, and which was to swallow up the
Prince of Orange, his army, and his Court. She had received the Duke of
Berwick when he landed here in ’96. She kept the glass he drank from,
vowing she never would use it till she drank King James the Third’s health
in it on his Majesty’s return; she had tokens from the queen, and relics
of the saint who, if the story was true, had not always been a saint as
far as she and many others were concerned. She believed in the miracles
wrought at his tomb, and had a hundred authentic stories of wondrous cures
effected by the blessed king’s rosaries, the medals which he wore, the
locks of his hair, or what not. Esmond remembered a score of marvellous
tales which the credulous old woman told him. There was the Bishop of
Autun, that was healed of a malady he had for forty years, and which left
him after he said mass for the repose of the king’s soul. There was
Monsieur Marais, a surgeon in Auvergne, who had a palsy in both his legs,
which was cured through the king’s intercession. There was Philip Pitet,
of the Benedictines, who had a suffocating cough, which wellnigh killed
him, but he besought relief of Heaven through the merits and intercession
of the blessed king, and he straightway felt a profuse sweat breaking out
all over him, and was recovered perfectly. And there was the wife of
Monsieur Lepervier, dancing-master to the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, who was
entirely eased of a rheumatism by the king’s intercession, of which
miracle there could be no doubt, for her surgeon and his apprentice had
given their testimony, under oath, that they did not in any way contribute
to the cure. Of these tales, and a thousand like them, Mr. Esmond believed
as much as he chose. His kinswoman’s greater faith had swallow for them
all.

The English High Church party did not adopt these legends. But truth and
honour, as they thought, bound them to the exiled king’s side; nor had the
banished family any warmer supporter than that kind lady of Castlewood, in
whose house Esmond was brought up. She influenced her husband, very much
more perhaps than my lord knew, who admired his wife prodigiously though
he might be inconstant to her, and who, adverse to the trouble of thinking
himself, gladly enough adopted the opinions which she chose for him. To
one of her simple and faithful heart, allegiance to any sovereign but the
one was impossible. To serve King William for interest’s sake would have
been a monstrous hypocrisy and treason. Her pure conscience could no more
have consented to it than to a theft, a forgery, or any other base action.
Lord Castlewood might have been won over, no doubt, but his wife never
could: and he submitted his conscience to hers in this case as he did in
most others, when he was not tempted too sorely. And it was from his
affection and gratitude most likely, and from that eager devotion for his
mistress, which characterized all Esmond’s youth, that the young man
subscribed to this, and other articles of faith, which his fond
benefactress set him. Had she been a Whig, he had been one; had she
followed Mr. Fox, and turned Quaker, no doubt he would have abjured
ruffles and a periwig, and have forsworn swords, lace coats, and clocked
stockings. In the scholars’ boyish disputes at the University, where
parties ran very high, Esmond was noted as a Jacobite, and very likely
from vanity as much as affection took the side of his family.

Almost the whole of the clergy of the country and more than a half of the
nation were on this side. Ours is the most loyal people in the world
surely; we admire our kings, and are faithful to them long after they have
ceased to be true to us. ’Tis a wonder to any one who looks back at the
history of the Stuart family to think how they kicked their crowns away
from them; how they flung away chances after chances; what treasures of
loyalty they dissipated, and how fatally they were bent on consummating
their own ruin. If ever men had fidelity, ’twas they; if ever men
squandered opportunity, ’twas they; and, of all the enemies they had, they
themselves were the most fatal.(8)

When the Princess Anne succeeded, the wearied nation was glad enough to
cry a truce from all these wars, controversies, and conspiracies, and to
accept in the person of a princess of the blood royal a compromise between
the parties into which the country was divided. The Tories could serve
under her with easy consciences; though a Tory herself, she represented
the triumph of the Whig opinion. The people of England, always liking that
their princes should be attached to their own families, were pleased to
think the princess was faithful to hers; and up to the very last day and
hour of her reign, and but for that fatality which he inherited from his
fathers along with their claims to the English crown, King James the Third
might have worn it. But he neither knew how to wait an opportunity, nor to
use it when he had it; he was venturesome when he ought to have been
cautious, and cautious when he ought to have dared everything. ’Tis with a
sort of rage at his inaptitude that one thinks of his melancholy story. Do
the Fates deal more specially with kings than with common men? One is apt
to imagine so, in considering the history of that royal race, in whose
behalf so much fidelity, so much valour, so much blood were desperately
and bootlessly expended.

The king dead then, the Princess Anne (ugly Anne Hyde’s daughter, our
dowager at Chelsey called her) was proclaimed by trumpeting heralds all
over the town from Westminster to Ludgate Hill, amidst immense jubilations
of the people.

Next week my Lord Marlborough was promoted to the Garter, and to be
captain-general of her Majesty’s forces at home and abroad. This
appointment only inflamed the dowager’s rage, or, as she thought it, her
fidelity to her rightful sovereign. “The princess is but a puppet in the
hands of that fury of a woman, who comes into my drawing-room and insults
me to my face. What can come to a country that is given over to such a
woman?” says the dowager: “As for that double-faced traitor, my Lord
Marlborough, he has betrayed every man and every woman with whom he has
had to deal, except his horrid wife, who makes him tremble. ’Tis all over
with the country when it has got into the clutches of such wretches as
these.”

Esmond’s old kinswoman saluted the new powers in this way; but some good
fortune at least occurred to a family which stood in great need of it, by
the advancement of these famous personages who benefited humbler people
that had the luck of being in their favour. Before Mr. Esmond left England
in the month of August, and being then at Portsmouth, where he had joined
his regiment, and was busy at drill, learning the practice and mysteries
of the musket and pike, he heard that a pension on the Stamp Office had
been got for his late beloved mistress, and that the young Mistress
Beatrix was also to be taken into Court. So much good, at least, had come
of the poor widow’s visit to London, not revenge upon her husband’s
enemies, but reconcilement to old friends, who pitied, and seemed inclined
to serve her. As for the comrades in prison and the late misfortune;
Colonel Westbury was with the captain-general gone to Holland; Captain
Macartney was now at Portsmouth, with his regiment of Fusiliers and the
force under command of his grace the Duke of Ormonde, bound for Spain it
was said; my Lord Warwick was returned home; and Lord Mohun, so far from
being punished for the homicide which had brought so much grief and change
into the Esmond family, was gone in company of my Lord Macclesfield’s
splendid embassy to the Elector of Hanover, carrying the Garter to his
highness, and a complimentary letter from the queen.



Chapter IV. Recapitulations


From such fitful lights as could be cast upon his dark history by the
broken narrative of his poor patron, torn by remorse and struggling in the
last pangs of dissolution, Mr. Esmond had been made to understand so far,
that his mother was long since dead; and so there could be no question as
regarded her or her honour, tarnished by her husband’s desertion and
injury, to influence her son in any steps which he might take either for
prosecuting or relinquishing his own just claims. It appeared from my poor
lord’s hurried confession, that he had been made acquainted with the real
facts of the case only two years since, when Mr. Holt visited him, and
would have implicated him in one of those many conspiracies by which the
secret leaders of King James’s party in this country were ever
endeavouring to destroy the Prince of Orange’s life or power; conspiracies
so like murder, so cowardly in the means used, so wicked in the end, that
our nation has sure done well in throwing off all allegiance and fidelity
to the unhappy family that could not vindicate its right except by such
treachery—by such dark intrigue and base agents. There were designs
against King William that were no more honourable than the ambushes of
cut-throats and footpads. ’Tis humiliating to think that a great prince,
possessor of a great and sacred right, and upholder of a great cause,
should have stooped to such baseness of assassination and treasons as are
proved by the unfortunate King James’s own warrant and sign-manual given
to his supporters in this country. What he and they called levying war
was, in truth, no better than instigating murder. The noble Prince of
Orange burst magnanimously through those feeble meshes of conspiracy in
which his enemies tried to envelop him: it seemed as if their cowardly
daggers broke upon the breast of his undaunted resolution. After King
James’s death, the queen and her people at St. Germains—priests and women
for the most part—continued their intrigues in behalf of the young prince,
James the Third, as he was called in France and by his party here (this
prince, or Chevalier de St. George, was born in the same year with
Esmond’s young pupil Frank, my lord viscount’s son): and the prince’s
affairs, being in the hands of priests and women, were conducted as
priests and women will conduct them, artfully, cruelly, feebly, and to a
certain bad issue. The moral of the Jesuit’s story I think as wholesome a
one as ever was writ: the artfullest, the wisest, the most toilsome, and
dexterous plot-builders in the world—there always comes a day when the
roused public indignation kicks their flimsy edifice down, and sends its
cowardly enemies a-flying. Mr. Swift hath finely described that passion
for intrigue, that love of secrecy, slander, and lying, which belongs to
weak people, hangers-on of weak courts. ’Tis the nature of such to hate
and envy the strong, and conspire their ruin; and the conspiracy succeeds
very well, and everything presages the satisfactory overthrow of the great
victim; until one day Gulliver rouses himself, shakes off the little
vermin of an enemy, and walks away unmolested. Ah! the Irish soldiers
might well say after the Boyne, “Change kings with us, and we will fight
it over again.” Indeed, the fight was not fair between the two. ’Twas a
weak priest-ridden, woman-ridden man, with such puny allies and weapons as
his own poor nature led him to choose, contending against the schemes, the
generalship, the wisdom, and the heart of a hero.

On one of these many coward’s errands, then (for, as I view them now, I
can call them no less), Mr. Holt had come to my lord at Castlewood,
proposing some infallible plan for the Prince of Orange’s destruction, in
which my lord viscount, loyalist as he was, had indignantly refused to
join. As far as Mr. Esmond could gather from his dying words, Holt came to
my lord with a plan of insurrection, and offer of the renewal, in his
person, of that marquis’s title which King James had conferred on the
preceding viscount; and on refusal of this bribe, a threat was made, on
Holt’s part, to upset my lord viscount’s claim to his estate and title of
Castlewood altogether. To back this astounding piece of intelligence, of
which Henry Esmond’s patron now had the first light, Holt came armed with
the late lord’s dying declaration, after the affair of the Boyne, at Trim,
in Ireland, made both to the Irish priest and a French ecclesiastic of
Holt’s order, that was with King James’s army. Holt showed, or pretended
to show, the marriage certificate of the late Viscount Esmond with my
mother, in the city of Brussels, in the year 1677, when the viscount, then
Thomas Esmond, was serving with the English army in Flanders; he could
show, he said, that this Gertrude, deserted by her husband long since, was
alive, and a professed nun in the year 1685, at Brussels, in which year
Thomas Esmond married his uncle’s daughter, Isabella, now called
Viscountess Dowager of Castlewood; and leaving him, for twelve hours, to
consider this astounding news (so the poor dying lord said), disappeared
with his papers in the mysterious way in which he came. Esmond knew how,
well enough: by that window from which he had seen the father issue:—but
there was no need to explain to my poor lord, only to gather from his
parting lips the words which he would soon be able to utter no more.

Ere the twelve hours were over, Holt himself was a prisoner, implicated in
Sir John Fenwick’s conspiracy, and locked up at Hexton first, whence he
was transferred to the Tower; leaving the poor lord viscount, who was not
aware of the others being taken, in daily apprehension of his return, when
(as my Lord Castlewood declared, calling God to witness, and with tears in
his dying eyes) it had been his intention at once to give up his estate
and his title to their proper owner, and to retire to his own house at
Walcote with his family. “And would to God I had done it,” the poor lord
said; “I would not be here now, wounded to death, a miserable, stricken
man!”

My lord waited day after day, and, as may be supposed, no messenger came;
but at a month’s end Holt got means to convey to him a message out of the
Tower, which was to this effect: that he should consider all unsaid that
had been said, and that things were as they were.

“I had a sore temptation,” said my poor lord. “Since I had come into this
cursed title of Castlewood, which hath never prospered with me, I have
spent far more than the income of that estate and my paternal one, too. I
calculated all my means down to the last shilling, and found I never could
pay you back, my poor Harry, whose fortune I had had for twelve years. My
wife and children must have gone out of the house dishonoured, and
beggars. God knows, it hath been a miserable one for me and mine. Like a
coward, I clung to that respite which Holt gave me. I kept the truth from
Rachel and you. I tried to win money of Mohun, and only plunged deeper
into debt; I scarce dared look thee in the face when I saw thee. This
sword hath been hanging over my head these two years. I swear I felt happy
when Mohun’s blade entered my side.”

After lying ten months in the Tower, Holt, against whom nothing could be
found except that he was a Jesuit priest, known to be in King James’s
interest, was put on shipboard by the incorrigible forgiveness of King
William, who promised him, however, a hanging if ever he should again set
foot on English shore. More than once, whilst he was in prison himself,
Esmond had thought where those papers could be, which the Jesuit had shown
to his patron, and which had such an interest for himself. They were not
found on Mr. Holt’s person when that father was apprehended, for had such
been the case my lords of the council had seen them, and this family
history had long since been made public. However, Esmond cared not to seek
the papers. His resolution being taken; his poor mother dead; what matter
to him that documents existed proving his right to a title which he was
determined not to claim, and of which he vowed never to deprive that
family which he loved best in the world? Perhaps he took a greater pride
out of his sacrifice than he would have had in those honours which he was
resolved to forgo. Again, as long as these titles were not forthcoming,
Esmond’s kinsman, dear young Francis, was the honourable and undisputed
owner of the Castlewood estate and title. The mere word of a Jesuit could
not overset Frank’s right of occupancy, and so Esmond’s mind felt actually
at ease to think the papers were missing, and in their absence his dear
mistress and her son the lawful lady and lord of Castlewood.

Very soon after his liberation, Mr. Esmond made it his business to ride to
that village of Ealing where he had passed his earliest years in this
country, and to see if his old guardians were still alive and inhabitants
of that place. But the only relic which he found of old Monsieur
Pastoureau was a stone in the churchyard, which told that Athanasius
Pastoureau, a native of Flanders, lay there buried, aged 87 years. The old
man’s cottage, which Esmond perfectly recollected, and the garden (where
in his childhood he had passed many hours of play and reverie, and had
many a beating from his termagant of a foster-mother), were now in the
occupation of quite a different family; and it was with difficulty that he
could learn in the village what had come of Pastoureau’s widow and
children. The clerk of the parish recollected her—the old man was scarce
altered in the fourteen years that had passed since last Esmond set eyes
on him. It appeared she had pretty soon consoled herself after the death
of her old husband, whom she ruled over, by taking a new one younger than
herself, who spent her money and ill-treated her and her children. The
girl died; one of the boys ’listed; the other had gone apprentice. Old Mr.
Rogers, the clerk, said he had heard that Mrs. Pastoureau was dead too.
She and her husband had left Ealing this seven year; and so Mr. Esmond’s
hopes of gaining any information regarding his parentage from this family,
were brought to an end. He gave the old clerk a crown-piece for his news,
smiling to think of the time when he and his little playfellows had slunk
out of the churchyard, or hidden behind the gravestones, at the approach
of this awful authority.

Who was his mother? What had her name been? When did she die? Esmond
longed to find some one who could answer these questions to him, and
thought even of putting them to his aunt the viscountess, who had
innocently taken the name which belonged of right to Henry’s mother. But
she knew nothing, or chose to know nothing, on this subject, nor, indeed,
could Mr. Esmond press her much to speak on it. Father Holt was the only
man who could enlighten him, and Esmond felt he must wait until some fresh
chance or new intrigue might put him face to face with his old friend, or
bring that restless indefatigable spirit back to England again.

The appointment to his ensigncy, and the preparations necessary for the
campaign, presently gave the young gentleman other matters to think of.
His new patroness treated him very kindly and liberally; she promised to
make interest and pay money, too, to get him a company speedily; she bade
him procure a handsome outfit, both of clothes and of arms, and was
pleased to admire him when he made his first appearance in his laced
scarlet coat, and to permit him to salute her on the occasion of this
interesting investiture. “Red,” says she, tossing up her old head, “hath
always been the colour worn by the Esmonds.” And so her ladyship wore it
on her own cheeks very faithfully to the last. She would have him be
dressed, she said, as became his father’s son, and paid cheerfully for his
five-pound beaver, his black buckled periwig, and his fine holland shirts,
and his swords, and his pistols, mounted with silver. Since the day he was
born, poor Harry had never looked such a fine gentleman: his liberal
stepmother filled his purse with guineas, too, some of which Captain
Steele and a few choice spirits helped Harry to spend in an entertainment
which Dick ordered (and, indeed, would have paid for, but that he had no
money when the reckoning was called for; nor would the landlord give him
any more credit) at the “Garter”, over against the gate of the Palace, in
Pall Mall.

The old viscountess, indeed, if she had done Esmond any wrong formerly,
seemed inclined to repair it by the present kindness of her behaviour: she
embraced him copiously at parting, wept plentifully, bade him write by
every packet, and gave him an inestimable relic, which she besought him to
wear round his neck—a medal, blessed by I know not what Pope, and worn by
his late sacred Majesty King James. So Esmond arrived at his regiment with
a better equipage than most young officers could afford. He was older than
most of his seniors, and had a further advantage which belonged but to
very few of the army gentlemen in his day—many of whom could do little
more than write their names—that he had read much, both at home and at the
University, was master of two or three languages, and had that further
education which neither books nor years will give, but which some men get
from the silent teaching of adversity. She is a great schoolmistress, as
many a poor fellow knows, that hath held his hand out to her ferule, and
whimpered over his lesson before her awful chair.



Chapter V. I Go On The Vigo Bay Expedition, Taste Salt Water And Smell
Powder


The first expedition in which Mr. Esmond had the honour to be engaged,
rather resembled one of the invasions projected by the redoubted Captain
Avory or Captain Kid, than a war between crowned heads, carried on by
generals of rank and honour. On the 1st day of July, 1702, a great fleet,
of a hundred and fifty sail, set sail from Spithead, under the command of
Admiral Shovell, having on board 12,000 troops, with his grace the Duke of
Ormond as the captain-general of the expedition. One of these 12,000
heroes having never been to sea before, or, at least, only once in his
infancy, when he made the voyage to England from that unknown country
where he was born—one of those 12,000—the junior ensign of Colonel Quin’s
regiment of Fusiliers—was in a quite unheroic state of corporal
prostration a few hours after sailing; and an enemy, had he boarded the
ship, would have had easy work of him. From Portsmouth we put into
Plymouth, and took in fresh reinforcements. We were off Finisterre on the
31st of July, so Esmond’s table-book informs him; and on the 8th of August
made the rock of Lisbon. By this time the ensign was grown as bold as an
admiral, and a week afterwards had the fortune to be under fire for the
first time—and under water, too—his boat being swamped in the surf in
Toros Bay, where the troops landed. The ducking of his new coat was all
the harm the young soldier got in this expedition, for, indeed, the
Spaniards made no stand before our troops, and were not in strength to do
so.

But the campaign, if not very glorious, was very pleasant. New sights of
nature, by sea and land—a life of action, beginning now for the first
time—occupied and excited the young man. The many accidents, and the
routine of ship-board—the military duty—the new acquaintances, both of his
comrades in arms, and of the officers of the fleet—served to cheer and
occupy his mind, and waken it out of that selfish depression into which
his late unhappy fortunes had plunged him. He felt as if the ocean
separated him from his past care, and welcomed the new era of life which
was dawning for him. Wounds heal rapidly in a heart of two-and-twenty;
hopes revive daily; and courage rallies, in spite of a man. Perhaps, as
Esmond thought of his late despondency and melancholy, and how
irremediable it had seemed to him, as he lay in his prison a few months
back, he was almost mortified in his secret mind at finding himself so
cheerful.

To see with one’s own eyes men and countries, is better than reading all
the books of travel in the world: and it was with extreme delight and
exultation that the young man found himself actually on his grand tour,
and in the view of people and cities which he had read about as a boy. He
beheld war for the first time—the pride, pomp, and circumstance of it, at
least, if not much of the danger. He saw actually, and with his own eyes,
those Spanish cavaliers and ladies whom he had beheld in imagination in
that immortal story of Cervantes, which had been the delight of his
youthful leisure. ’Tis forty years since Mr. Esmond witnessed those
scenes, but they remain as fresh in his memory as on the day when first he
saw them as a young man. A cloud, as of grief, that had lowered over him,
and had wrapped the last years of his life in gloom, seemed to clear away
from Esmond during this fortunate voyage and campaign. His energies seemed
to awaken and to expand, under a cheerful sense of freedom. Was his heart
secretly glad to have escaped from that fond but ignoble bondage at home?
Was it that the inferiority to which the idea of his base birth had
compelled him, vanished with the knowledge of that secret, which though,
perforce, kept to himself, was yet enough to cheer and console him? At any
rate, young Esmond of the army was quite a different being to the sad
little dependant of the kind Castlewood household, and the melancholy
student of Trinity Walks; discontented with his fate, and with the
vocation into which that drove him, and thinking, with a secret
indignation, that the cassock and bands, and the very sacred office with
which he had once proposed to invest himself, were, in fact, but marks of
a servitude which was to continue all his life long. For, disguise it as
he might to himself, he had all along felt that to be Castlewood’s
chaplain was to be Castlewood’s inferior still, and that his life was but
to be a long, hopeless servitude. So, indeed, he was far from grudging his
old friend Tom Tusher’s good fortune (as Tom, no doubt, thought it). Had
it been a mitre and Lambeth which his friends offered him, and not a small
living and a country parsonage, he would have felt as much a slave in one
case as in the other, and was quite happy and thankful to be free.

The bravest man I ever knew in the army, and who had been present in most
of King William’s actions, as well as in the campaigns of the great Duke
of Marlborough, could never be got to tell us of any achievement of his,
except that once Prince Eugene ordered him up a tree to reconnoitre the
enemy, which feat he could not achieve on account of the horseman’s boots
he wore; and on another day that he was very nearly taken prisoner because
of these jackboots, which prevented him from running away. The present
narrator shall imitate this laudable reserve, and doth not intend to dwell
upon his military exploits, which were in truth not very different from
those of a thousand other gentlemen. This first campaign of Mr. Esmond’s
lasted but a few days; and as a score of books have been written
concerning it, it may be dismissed very briefly here.

When our fleet came within view of Cadiz, our commander sent a boat with a
white flag and a couple of officers to the Governor of Cadiz, Don Scipio
de Brancaccio, with a letter from his grace, in which he hoped that as Don
Scipio had formerly served with the Austrians against the French in
England, ’twas to be hoped that his excellency would now declare himself
against the French king and for the Austrian in the war between King
Philip and King Charles. But his excellency, Don Scipio, prepared a reply,
in which he announced that, having served his former king with honour and
fidelity, he hoped to exhibit the same loyalty and devotion towards his
present sovereign, King Philip V; and by the time this letter was ready,
the officers who had been taken to see the town, and the Alameda, and the
theatre, where bull-fights are fought, and the convents, where the
admirable works of Don Bartholomew Murillo inspired one of them with a
great wonder and delight—such as he had never felt before—concerning this
divine art of painting; and these sights over, and a handsome refection
and chocolate being served to the English gentlemen, they were accompanied
back to their shallop with every courtesy, and were the only two officers
of the English army that saw at that time that famous city.

The general tried the power of another proclamation on the Spaniards, in
which he announced that we only came in the interest of Spain and King
Charles, and for ourselves wanted to make no conquest nor settlement in
Spain at all. But all this eloquence was lost upon the Spaniards, it would
seem: the Captain-General of Andalusia would no more listen to us than the
Governor of Cadiz; and in reply to his grace’s proclamation, the Marquis
of Villadarias fired off another, which those who knew the Spanish thought
rather the best of the two; and of this number was Harry Esmond, whose
kind Jesuit in old days had instructed him, and now had the honour of
translating for his grace these harmless documents of war. There was a
hard touch for his grace, and, indeed, for other generals in her Majesty’s
service, in the concluding sentence of the Don: “That he and his council
had the generous example of their ancestors to follow, who had never yet
sought their elevation in the blood or in the flight of their kings.
‘_Mori pro patria_’ was his device, which the duke might communicate to
the princess who governed England.”

Whether the troops were angry at this repartee or no, ’tis certain
something put them in a fury; for, not being able to get possession of
Cadiz, our people seized upon Port St. Mary’s and sacked it, burning down
the merchants’ storehouses, getting drunk with the famous wines there,
pillaging and robbing quiet houses and convents, murdering and doing
worse. And the only blood which Mr. Esmond drew in this shameful campaign,
was the knocking down an English sentinel with a half-pike, who was
offering insult to a poor trembling nun. Is she going to turn out a
beauty? or a princess? or perhaps Esmond’s mother that he had lost and
never seen? Alas no, it was but a poor wheezy old dropsical woman, with a
wart on her nose. But having been early taught a part of the Roman
religion, he never had the horror of it that some Protestants have shown,
and seem to think to be a part of ours.

After the pillage and plunder of St. Mary’s, and an assault upon a fort or
two, the troops all took shipping, and finished their expedition, at any
rate, more brilliantly than it had begun. Hearing that the French fleet
with a great treasure was in Vigo Bay, our admirals, Rooke and Hopson,
pursued the enemy thither; the troops landed and carried the forts that
protected the bay, Hopson passing the boom first on board his ship the
_Torbay_, and the rest of the ships, English and Dutch, following him.
Twenty ships were burned or taken in the port of Redondilla, and a vast
deal more plunder than was ever accounted for; but poor men before that
expedition were rich afterwards, and so often was it found and remarked
that the Vigo officers came home with pockets full of money, that the
notorious Jack Shafto, who made such a figure at the coffee-houses and
gaming-tables in London, and gave out that he had been a soldier at Vigo,
owned, when he was about to be hanged, that Bagshot Heath had been his
Vigo, and that he only spoke of La Redondilla to turn away people’s eyes
from the real place where the booty lay. Indeed, Hounslow or Vigo—which
matters much? The latter was a bad business, though Mr. Addison did sing
its praises in Latin. That honest gentleman’s muse had an eye to the main
chance; and I doubt whether she saw much inspiration in the losing side.

But though Esmond, for his part, got no share of this fabulous booty, one
great prize which he had out of the campaign was, that excitement of
action and change of scene, which shook off a great deal of his previous
melancholy. He learnt at any rate to bear his fate cheerfully. He brought
back a browned face, a heart resolute enough, and a little pleasant store
of knowledge and observation, from that expedition, which was over with
the autumn, when the troops were back in England again; and Esmond giving
up his post of secretary to General Lumley, whose command was over, and
parting with that officer with many kind expressions of goodwill on the
general’s side, had leave to go to London, to see if he could push his
fortunes any way further, and found himself once more in his dowager
aunt’s comfortable quarters at Chelsey, and in greater favour than ever
with the old lady. He propitiated her with a present of a comb, a fan, and
a black mantle, such as the ladies of Cadiz wear, and which my lady
viscountess pronounced became her style of beauty mightily. And she was
greatly edified at hearing of that story of his rescue of the nun, and
felt very little doubt but that her King James’s relic, which he had
always dutifully worn in his desk, had kept him out of danger, and averted
the shot of the enemy. My lady made feasts for him, introduced him to more
company, and pushed his fortunes with such enthusiasm and success, that
she got a promise of a company for him through the Lady Marlborough’s
interest, who was graciously pleased to accept of a diamond worth a couple
of hundred guineas, which Mr. Esmond was enabled to present to her
ladyship through his aunt’s bounty, and who promised that she would take
charge of Esmond’s fortune. He had the honour to make his appearance at
the queen’s drawing-room occasionally, and to frequent my Lord
Marlborough’s levees. That great man received the young one with very
especial favour, so Esmond’s comrades said, and deigned to say that he had
received the best reports of Mr. Esmond, both for courage and ability,
whereon you may be sure the young gentleman made a profound bow, and
expressed himself eager to serve under the most distinguished captain in
the world.

Whilst his business was going on thus prosperously, Esmond had his share
of pleasure, too, and made his appearance along with other young gentlemen
at the coffee-houses, the theatres, and the Mall. He longed to hear of his
dear mistress and her family: many a time, in the midst of the gaieties
and pleasures of the town, his heart fondly reverted to them; and often as
the young fellows of his society were making merry at the tavern, and
calling toasts (as the fashion of that day was) over their wine, Esmond
thought of persons—of two fair women, whom he had been used to adore
almost, and emptied his glass with a sigh.

By this time the elder viscountess had grown tired again of the younger,
and whenever she spoke of my lord’s widow, ’twas in terms by no means
complimentary towards that poor lady: the younger woman not needing her
protection any longer, the elder abused her. Most of the family quarrels
that I have seen in life (saving always those arising from money disputes,
when a division of twopence-halfpenny will often drive the dearest
relatives into war and estrangement), spring out of jealousy and envy.
Jack and Tom, born of the same family and to the same fortune, live very
cordially together, not until Jack is ruined when Tom deserts him, but
until Tom makes a sudden rise in prosperity, which Jack can’t forgive. Ten
times to one ’tis the unprosperous man that is angry, not the other who is
in fault. ’Tis Mrs. Jack, who can only afford a chair that sickens at Mrs.
Tom’s new coach-and-six, cries out against her sister’s airs, and sets her
husband against his brother. ’Tis Jack who sees his brother shaking hands
with a lord (with whom Jack would like to exchange snuff-boxes himself),
that goes home and tells his wife how poor Tom is spoiled, he fears, and
no better than a sneak, parasite, and beggar on horseback. I remember how
furious the coffee-house wits were with Dick Steele when he set up his
coach, and fine house in Bloomsbury: they began to forgive him when the
bailiffs were after him, and abused Mr. Addison for selling Dick’s
country-house. And yet Dick in the spunging-house, or Dick in the Park,
with his four mares and plated harness, was exactly the same gentle,
kindly, improvident, jovial Dick Steele: and yet Mr. Addison was perfectly
right in getting the money which was his, and not giving up the amount of
his just claim, to be spent by Dick upon champagne and fiddlers, laced
clothes, fine furniture, and parasites, Jew and Christian, male and
female, who clung to him. As, according to the famous maxim of Monsieur de
Rochefoucault, “in our friends’ misfortunes there’s something secretly
pleasant to us”; so, on the other hand, their good fortune is
disagreeable. If ’tis hard for a man to bear his own good luck, ’tis
harder still for his friends to bear it for him; and but few of them
ordinarily can stand that trial: whereas one of the “precious uses” of
adversity is, that it is a great reconciler; that it brings back averted
kindness, disarms animosity, and causes yesterday’s enemy to fling his
hatred aside, and hold out a hand to the fallen friend of old days.
There’s pity and love, as well as envy, in the same heart and towards the
same person. The rivalry stops when the competitor tumbles; and, as I view
it, we should look at these agreeable and disagreeable qualities of our
humanity humbly alike. They are consequent and natural, and our kindness
and meanness both manly.

So you may either read the sentence, that the elder of Esmond’s two
kinswomen pardoned the younger her beauty, when that had lost somewhat of
its freshness, perhaps; and forgot most her grievances against the other,
when the subject of them was no longer prosperous and enviable; or we may
say more benevolently (but the sum comes to the same figures, worked
either way), that Isabella repented of her unkindness towards Rachel, when
Rachel was unhappy; and, bestirring herself in behalf of the poor widow
and her children, gave them shelter and friendship. The ladies were quite
good friends as long as the weaker one needed a protector. Before Esmond
went away on his first campaign, his mistress was still on terms of
friendship (though a poor little chit, a woman that had evidently no
spirit in her, &c.) with the elder Lady Castlewood; and Mistress Beatrix
was allowed to be a beauty.

But between the first year of Queen Anne’s reign, and the second, sad
changes for the worse had taken place in the two younger ladies, at least
in the elder’s description of them. Rachel, Viscountess Castlewood, had no
more face than a dumpling, and Mrs. Beatrix was grown quite coarse, and
was losing all her beauty. Little Lord Blandford (she never would call him
Lord Blandford; his father was Lord Churchill—the king, whom he betrayed,
had made him Lord Churchill, and he was Lord Churchill still)—might be
making eyes at her; but his mother, that vixen of a Sarah Jennings, would
never hear of such a folly. Lady Marlborough had got her to be a maid of
honour at Court to the princess, but she would repent of it. The widow
Francis (she was but Mrs. Francis Esmond) was a scheming, artful,
heartless hussy. She was spoiling her brat of a boy, and she would end by
marrying her chaplain.

“What, Tusher?” cried Mr. Esmond, feeling a strange pang of rage and
astonishment.

“Yes—Tusher, my maid’s son; and who has got all the qualities of his
father, the lackey in black, and his accomplished mamma, the
waiting-woman,” cries my lady. “What, do you suppose that a sentimental
widow, who will live down in that dingy dungeon of a Castlewood, where she
spoils her boy, kills the poor with her drugs, has prayers twice a day and
sees nobody but the chaplain—what do you suppose she can do, _mon cousin_,
but let the horrid parson, with his great square toes, and hideous little
green eyes, make love to her? _Cela c’est vu, mon cousin._ When I was a
girl at Castlewood, all the chaplains fell in love with me—they’ve nothing
else to do.”

My lady went on with more talk of this kind, though, in truth, Esmond had
no idea of what she said further, so entirely did her first words occupy
his thought. Were they true? Not all, nor half, nor a tenth part of what
the garrulous old woman said, was true. Could this be so? No ear had
Esmond for anything else, though his patroness chattered on for an hour.

Some young gentlemen of the town, with whom Esmond had made acquaintance,
had promised to present him to that most charming of actresses, and lively
and agreeable of women, Mrs. Bracegirdle, about whom Harry’s old adversary
Mohun had drawn swords, a few years before my poor lord and he fell out.
The famous Mr. Congreve had stamped with his high approval, to the which
there was no gainsaying, this delightful person: and she was acting in
Dick Steele’s comedies, and finally, and for twenty-four hours after
beholding her, Mr. Esmond felt himself, or thought himself, to be as
violently enamoured of this lovely brunette, as were a thousand other
young fellows about the city. To have once seen her was to long to behold
her again; and to be offered the delightful privilege of her acquaintance,
was a pleasure the very idea of which set the young lieutenant’s heart on
fire. A man cannot live with comrades under the tents without finding out
that he too is five-and-twenty. A young fellow cannot be cast down by
grief and misfortune ever so severe but some night he begins to sleep
sound, and some day when dinner-time comes to feel hungry for a beefsteak.
Time, youth, and good health, new scenes and the excitement of action and
a campaign, had pretty well brought Esmond’s mourning to an end; and his
comrades said that Don Dismal, as they called him, was Don Dismal no more.
So when a party was made to dine at the “Rose”, and go to the playhouse
afterward, Esmond was as pleased as another to take his share of the
bottle and the play.

How was it that the old aunt’s news, or it might be scandal, about Tom
Tusher, caused such a strange and sudden excitement in Tom’s old
playfellow? Hadn’t he sworn a thousand times in his own mind that the lady
of Castlewood, who had treated him with such kindness once, and then had
left him so cruelly, was, and was to remain henceforth, indifferent to him
for ever? Had his pride and his sense of justice not long since helped him
to cure the pain of that desertion—was it even a pain to him now? Why, but
last night as he walked across the fields and meadows to Chelsey from Pall
Mall, had he not composed two or three stanzas of a song, celebrating
Bracegirdle’s brown eyes, and declaring them a thousand times more
beautiful than the brightest blue ones that ever languished under the
lashes of an insipid fair beauty! But Tom Tusher! Tom Tusher, the
waiting-woman’s son, raising up his little eyes to his mistress! Tom
Tusher presuming to think of Castlewood’s widow! Rage and contempt filled
Mr. Harry’s heart at the very notion; the honour of the family, of which
he was the chief, made it his duty to prevent so monstrous an alliance,
and to chastise the upstart who could dare to think of such an insult to
their house. ’Tis true Mr. Esmond often boasted of republican principles,
and could remember many fine speeches he had made at college and
elsewhere, with _worth_ and not _birth_ for a text: but Tom Tusher to take
the place of the noble Castlewood—faugh! ’twas as monstrous as King
Hamlet’s widow taking off her weeds for Claudius. Esmond laughed at all
widows, all wives, all women; and were the banns about to be published, as
no doubt they were, that very next Sunday at Walcote Church, Esmond swore
that he would be present to shout No! in the face of the congregation, and
to take a private revenge upon the ears of the bridegroom.

Instead of going to dinner then at the “Rose” that night, Mr. Esmond bade
his servant pack a portmanteau and get horses, and was at Farnham,
half-way on the road to Walcote, thirty miles off, before his comrades had
got to their supper after the play. He bade his man give no hint to my
lady dowager’s household of the expedition on which he was going: and as
Chelsey was distant from London, the roads bad, and infested by footpads,
and Esmond often in the habit, when engaged in a party of pleasure, of
lying at a friend’s lodging in town, there was no need that his old aunt
should be disturbed at his absence—indeed, nothing more delighted the old
lady than to fancy that _mon cousin_, the incorrigible young sinner, was
abroad boxing the watch, or scouring St. Giles’s. When she was not at her
books of devotion, she thought Etheridge and Sedley very good reading. She
had a hundred pretty stories about Rochester, Harry Jermyn, and Hamilton;
and if Esmond would but have run away with the wife even of a citizen,
’tis my belief she would have pawned her diamonds (the best of them went
to our Lady of Chaillot) to pay his damages.

My lord’s little house of Walcote, which he inhabited before he took his
title and occupied the house of Castlewood—lies about a mile from
Winchester, and his widow had returned to Walcote after my lord’s death as
a place always dear to her, and where her earliest and happiest days had
been spent, cheerfuller than Castlewood, which was too large for her
straitened means, and giving her, too, the protection of the ex-dean, her
father. The young viscount had a year’s schooling at the famous college
there, with Mr. Tusher as his governor. So much news of them Mr. Esmond
had had during the past year from the old viscountess, his own father’s
widow; from the young one there had never been a word.

Twice or thrice in his benefactor’s lifetime, Esmond had been to Walcote;
and now, taking but a couple of hours’ rest only at the inn on the road,
he was up again long before daybreak, and made such good speed that he was
at Walcote by two o’clock of the day. He rid to the inn of the village,
where he alighted and sent a man thence to Mr. Tusher, with a message that
a gentleman from London would speak with him on urgent business. The
messenger came back to say the doctor was in town, most likely at prayers
in the cathedral. My lady viscountess was there too; she always went to
cathedral prayers every day.

The horses belonged to the post-house at Winchester. Esmond mounted again,
and rode on to the “George”; whence he walked, leaving his grumbling
domestic at last happy with a dinner, straight to the cathedral. The organ
was playing: the winter’s day was already growing grey: as he passed under
the street-arch into the cathedral-yard, and made his way into the ancient
solemn edifice.



Chapter VI. The 29th December


There was scarce a score of persons in the Cathedral besides the dean and
some of his clergy, and the choristers, young and old, that performed the
beautiful evening prayer. But Dr. Tusher was one of the officiants, and
read from the eagle, in an authoritative voice, and a great black periwig;
and in the stalls, still in her black widow’s hood, sat Esmond’s dear
mistress, her son by her side, very much grown, and indeed a noble-looking
youth, with his mother’s eyes, and his father’s curling brown hair, that
fell over his _point de Venise_—a pretty picture such as Vandyke might
have painted. Monsieur Rigaud’s portrait of my lord viscount, done at
Paris afterwards, gives but a French version of his manly, frank, English
face. When he looked up there were two sapphire beams out of his eyes,
such as no painter’s palette has the colour to match, I think. On this day
there was not much chance of seeing that particular beauty of my young
lord’s countenance; for the truth is, he kept his eyes shut for the most
part, and, the anthem being rather long, was asleep.

But the music ceasing, my lord woke up, looking about him, and his eyes
lighting on Mr. Esmond, who was sitting opposite him, gazing with no small
tenderness and melancholy upon two persons who had had so much of his
heart for so many years; Lord Castlewood, with a start, pulled at his
mother’s sleeve (her face had scarce been lifted from her book), and said,
“Look, mother!” so loud, that Esmond could hear on the other side of the
church, and the old dean on his throned stall. Lady Castlewood looked for
an instant as her son bade her, and held up a warning finger to Frank;
Esmond felt his whole face flush, and his heart throbbing, as that dear
lady beheld him once more. The rest of the prayers were speedily over: Mr.
Esmond did not hear them; nor did his mistress, very likely, whose hood
went more closely over her face, and who never lifted her head again until
the service was over, the blessing given, and Mr. Dean, and his procession
of ecclesiastics, out of the inner chapel.

Young Castlewood came clambering over the stalls before the clergy were
fairly gone, and, running up to Esmond, eagerly embraced him. “My dear,
dearest old Harry,” he said, “are you come back? Have you been to the
wars? You’ll take me with you when you go again? Why didn’t you write to
us? Come to mother.”

Mr. Esmond could hardly say more than a “God bless you, my boy”, for his
heart was very full and grateful at all this tenderness on the lad’s part;
and he was as much moved at seeing Frank, as he was fearful about that
other interview which was now to take place; for he knew not if the widow
would reject him as she had done so cruelly a year ago.

“It was kind of you to come back to us, Henry,” Lady Esmond said, “I
thought you might come.”

“We read of the fleet coming to Portsmouth. Why did you not come from
Portsmouth?” Frank asked, or my lord viscount, as he now must be called.

Esmond had thought of that too. He would have given one of his eyes so
that he might see his dear friends again once more; but believing that his
mistress had forbidden him her house, he had obeyed her, and remained at a
distance.

“You had but to ask, and you knew I would be here,” he said.

She gave him her hand, her little fair hand: there was only her marriage
ring on it. The quarrel was all over. The year of grief and estrangement
was passed. They never had been separated. His mistress had never been out
of his mind all that time. No, not once. No, not in the prison; nor in the
camp; nor on shore before the enemy; nor at sea under the stars of solemn
midnight, nor as he watched the glorious rising of the dawn: not even at
the table, where he sat carousing with friends, or at the theatre yonder,
where he tried to fancy that other eyes were brighter than hers. Brighter
eyes there might be, and faces more beautiful, but none so dear—no voice
so sweet as that of his beloved mistress, who had been sister, mother,
goddess to him during his youth—goddess now no more, for he knew of her
weaknesses; and by thought, by suffering, and that experience it brings,
was older now than she; but more fondly cherished as woman perhaps than
ever she had been adored as divinity.

What is it? Where lies it? the secret which makes one little hand the
dearest of all? Whoever can unriddle that mystery? Here she was, her son
by his side, his dear boy. Here she was, weeping and happy. She took his
hand in both hers; he felt her tears. It was a rapture of reconciliation.

“Here comes Squaretoes,” says Frank. “Here’s Tusher.”

Tusher, indeed, now appeared, creaking on his great heels. Mr. Tom had
divested himself of his alb or surplice, and came forward habited in his
cassock and great black periwig. How had Harry Esmond ever been for a
moment jealous of this fellow?

“Give us thy hand, Tom Tusher,” he said. The chaplain made him a very low
and stately bow. “I am charmed to see Captain Esmond,” says he. “My lord
and I have read the _Reddas incolumem precor_, and applied it, I am sure,
to you. You come back with Gaditanian laurels: when I heard you were bound
thither, I wished, I am sure, I was another Septimius. My lord viscount,
your lordship remembers _Septimi, Gades aditure mecum?_”

“There’s an angle of earth that I love better than Gades, Tusher,” says
Mr. Esmond. “’Tis that one where your reverence hath a parsonage, and
where our youth was brought up.”

“A house that has so many sacred recollections to me,” says Mr. Tusher
(and Harry remembered how Tom’s father used to flog him there)—“a house
near to that of my respected patron, my most honoured patroness, must ever
be a dear abode to me. But, madam, the verger waits to close the gates on
your ladyship.”

“And Harry’s coming home to supper. Huzzay! huzzay!” cries my lord.
“Mother, shall I run home and bid Beatrix put her ribbons on? Beatrix is a
maid of honour, Harry. Such a fine set-up minx!”

“Your heart was never in the Church, Harry,” the widow said, in her sweet
low tone, as they walked away together. (Now, it seemed they had never
been parted, and again, as if they had been ages asunder.) “I always
thought you had no vocation that way; and that ’twas a pity to shut you
out from the world. You would but have pined and chafed at Castlewood: and
’tis better you should make a name for yourself. I often said so to my
dear lord. How he loved you! ’Twas my lord that made you stay with us.”

“I asked no better than to stay near you always,” said Mr. Esmond.

“But to go was best, Harry. When the world cannot give peace, you will
know where to find it; but one of your strong imagination and eager
desires must try the world first before he tires of it. ’Twas not to be
thought of, or if it once was, it was only by my selfishness that you
should remain as chaplain to a country gentleman and tutor to a little
boy. You are of the blood of the Esmonds, kinsman; and that was always
wild in youth. Look at Francis. He is but fifteen, and I scarce can keep
him in my nest. His talk is all of war and pleasure, and he longs to serve
in the next campaign. Perhaps he and the young Lord Churchill shall go the
next. Lord Marlborough has been good to us. You know how kind they were in
my misfortune. And so was your—your father’s widow. No one knows how good
the world is, till grief comes to try us. ’Tis through my Lady
Marlborough’s goodness that Beatrix hath her place at Court; and Frank is
under my Lord Chamberlain. And the dowager lady, your father’s widow, has
promised to provide for you—has she not?”

Esmond said, “Yes. As far as present favour went, Lady Castlewood was very
good to him. And should her mind change,” he added gaily, “as ladies’
minds will, I am strong enough to bear my own burden, and make my way
somehow. Not by the sword very likely. Thousands have a better genius for
that than I, but there are many ways in which a young man of good parts
and education can get on in the world; and I am pretty sure, one way or
other, of promotion!” Indeed, he had found patrons already in the army,
and amongst persons very able to serve him, too; and told his mistress of
the flattering aspect of fortune. They walked as though they had never
been parted, slowly, with the grey twilight closing round them.

“And now we are drawing near to home,” she continued. “I knew you would
come, Harry, if—if it was but to forgive me for having spoken unjustly to
you after that horrid—horrid misfortune. I was half frantic with grief
then when I saw you. And I know now—they have told me. That wretch, whose
name I can never mention, even has said it: how you tried to avert the
quarrel, and would have taken it on yourself, my poor child: but it was
God’s will that I should be punished, and that my dear lord should fall.”

“He gave me his blessing on his death-bed,” Esmond said. “Thank God for
that legacy!”

“Amen, amen! dear Henry,” says the lady, pressing his arm. “I knew it. Mr.
Atterbury, of St. Bride’s, who was called to him, told me so. And I
thanked God, too, and in my prayers ever since remembered it.”

“You had spared me many a bitter night, had you told me sooner,” Mr.
Esmond said.

“I know it, I know it,” she answered, in a tone of such sweet humility, as
made Esmond repent that he should ever have dared to reproach her. “I know
how wicked my heart has been; and I have suffered too, my dear. I
confessed to Mr. Atterbury—I must not tell any more. He—I said I would not
write to you or go to you—and it was better even that, having parted, we
should part. But I knew you would come back—I own that. That is no one’s
fault. And to-day, Henry, in the anthem, when they sang it, ‘When the Lord
turned the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream’, I thought,
yes, like them that dream—them that dream. And then it went, ‘They that
sow in tears shall reap in joy; and he that goeth forth and weepeth, shall
doubtless come home again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him’;
I looked up from the book, and saw you. I was not surprised when I saw
you. I knew you would come, my dear, and saw the gold sunshine round your
head.”

She smiled an almost wild smile as she looked up at him. The moon was up
by this time, glittering keen in the frosty sky. He could see, for the
first time now clearly, her sweet careworn face.

“Do you know what day it is?” she continued. “It is the 29th of
December—it is your birthday! But last year we did not drink it—no, no. My
lord was cold, and my Harry was likely to die; and my brain was in a
fever; and we had no wine. But now—now you are come again, bringing your
sheaves with you, my dear.” She burst into a wild flood of weeping as she
spoke; she laughed and sobbed on the young man’s heart, crying out wildly,
“bringing your sheaves with you—your sheaves with you!”

As he had sometimes felt, gazing up from the deck at midnight into the
boundless starlit depths overhead, in a rapture of devout wonder at that
endless brightness and beauty—in some such a way as now, the depth of this
pure devotion (which was, for the first time, revealed to him quite) smote
upon him, and filled his heart with thanksgiving. Gracious God, who was
he, weak and friendless creature, that such a love should be poured out
upon him? Not in vain, not in vain has he lived—hard and thankless should
he be to think so—that has such a treasure given him. What is ambition
compared to that? but selfish vanity. To be rich, to be famous? What do
these profit a year hence, when other names sound louder than yours, when
you lie hidden away under the ground, along with the idle titles engraven
on your coffin? But only true love lives after you—follows your memory
with secret blessing—or precedes you, and intercedes for you. _Non omnis
moriar_—if dying, I yet live in a tender heart or two; nor am lost and
hopeless living, if a sainted departed soul still loves and prays for me.

“If—if ’tis so, dear lady,” Mr. Esmond said, “why should I ever leave you?
If God hath given me this great boon—and near or far from me, as I know
now—the heart of my dearest mistress follows me; let me have that blessing
near me, nor ever part with it till life separate us. Come away—leave this
Europe, this place which has so many sad recollections for you. Begin a
new life in a new world. My good lord often talked of visiting that land
in Virginia which King Charles gave us—gave his ancestor. Frank will give
us that. No man there will ask if there is a blot on my name, or inquire
in the woods what my title is.”

“And my children—and my duty—and my good father?—Henry,” she broke out.
“He has none but me now; for soon my sister will leave him, and the old
man will be alone. He has conformed since the new queen’s reign; and here
in Winchester, where they love him, they have found a church for him. When
the children leave me, I will stay with him. I cannot follow them into the
great world, where their way lies—it scares me. They will come and visit
me; and you will, sometimes, Henry—yes, sometimes, as now, in the holy
Advent season, when I have seen and blessed you once more.”

“I would leave all to follow you,” said Mr. Esmond; “and can you not be as
generous for me, dear lady?”

“Hush, boy!” she said, and it was with a mother’s sweet plaintive tone and
look that she spoke. “The world is beginning for you. For me, I have been
so weak and sinful that I must leave it, and pray out an expiation, dear
Henry. Had we houses of religion as there were once, and many divines of
our Church would have them again, I often think I would retire to one and
pass my life in penance. But I would love you still—yes, there is no sin
in such a love as mine now; and my dear lord in heaven may see my heart;
and knows the tears that have washed my sin away—and now—now my duty is
here, by my children whilst they need me, and by my poor old father,
and——”

“And not by me?” Henry said.

“Hush!” she said again, and raised her hand up to his lip. “I have been
your nurse. You could not see me, Harry, when you were in the small-pox,
and I came and sat by you. Ah! I prayed that I might die, but it would
have been in sin, Henry. Oh, it is horrid to look back to that time. It is
over now and past, and it has been forgiven me. When you need me again I
will come ever so far. When your heart is wounded, then come to me, my
dear. Be silent! let me say all. You never loved me, dear Henry—no, you do
not now, and I thank Heaven for it. I used to watch you, and knew by a
thousand signs that it was so. Do you remember how glad you were to go
away to college? ’Twas I sent you. I told my papa that, and Mr. Atterbury
too, when I spoke to him in London. And they both gave me
absolution—both—and they are godly men, having authority to bind and to
loose. And they forgave me, as my dear lord forgave me before he went to
heaven.”

“I think the angels are not all in heaven,” Mr. Esmond said. And as a
brother folds a sister to his heart; and as a mother cleaves to her son’s
breast—so for a few moments Esmond’s beloved mistress came to him and
blessed him.



Chapter VII. I Am Made Welcome At Walcote


As they came up to the house at Walcote, the windows from within were
lighted up with friendly welcome; the supper-table was spread in the
oak-parlour; it seemed as if forgiveness and love were awaiting the
returning prodigal. Two or three familiar faces of domestics were on the
lookout at the porch—the old housekeeper was there, and young Lockwood
from Castlewood in my lord’s livery of tawny and blue. His dear mistress
pressed his arm as they passed into the hall. Her eyes beamed out on him
with affection indescribable. “Welcome,” was all she said: as she looked
up, putting back her fair curls and black hood. A sweet rosy smile blushed
on her face: Harry thought he had never seen her look so charming. Her
face was lighted with a joy that was brighter than beauty—she took a hand
of her son who was in the hall waiting his mother—she did not quit
Esmond’s arm.

“Welcome, Harry!” my young lord echoed after her. “Here, we are all come
to say so. Here’s old Pincot, hasn’t she grown handsome?” and Pincot, who
was older, and no handsomer than usual, made a curtsy to the captain, as
she called Esmond, and told my lord to “Have done, now.”

“And here’s Jack Lockwood. He’ll make a famous grenadier, Jack; and so
shall I; we’ll both ’list under you, cousin. As soon as I am seventeen, I
go to the army—every gentleman goes to the army. Look! who comes here—ho,
ho!” he burst into a laugh. “’Tis Mistress Trix, with a new ribbon; I knew
she would put one on as soon as she heard a captain was coming to supper.”

This laughing colloquy took place in the hall of Walcote House: in the
midst of which is a staircase that leads from an open gallery, where are
the doors of the sleeping-chambers: and from one of these, a wax candle in
her hand, and illuminating her, came Mistress Beatrix—the light falling
indeed upon the scarlet ribbon which she wore, and upon the most brilliant
white neck in the world.

Esmond had left a child and found a woman, grown beyond the common height;
and arrived at such a dazzling completeness of beauty, that his eyes might
well show surprise and delight at beholding her. In hers there was a
brightness so lustrous and melting, that I have seen a whole assembly
follow her as if by an attraction irresistible: and that night the great
duke was at the playhouse after Ramillies, every soul turned and looked
(she chanced to enter at the opposite side of the theatre at the same
moment) at her, and not at him. She was a brown beauty: that is, her eyes,
hair, and eyebrows and eyelashes, were dark: her hair curling with rich
undulations, and waving over her shoulders; but her complexion was as
dazzling white as snow in sunshine; except her cheeks, which were a bright
red, and her lips, which were of a still deeper crimson. Her mouth and
chin, they said, were too large and full, and so they might be for a
goddess in marble, but not for a woman whose eyes were fire, whose look
was love, whose voice was the sweetest low song, whose shape was perfect
symmetry, health, decision, activity, whose foot as it planted itself on
the ground, was firm but flexible, and whose motion, whether rapid or
slow, was always perfect grace—agile as a nymph, lofty as a queen—now
melting, now imperious, now sarcastic, there was no single movement of
hers but was beautiful. As he thinks of her, he who writes feels young
again, and remembers a paragon.

So she came holding her dress with one fair rounded arm, and her taper
before her, tripping down the stair to greet Esmond.

“She hath put on her scarlet stockings and white shoes,” says my lord,
still laughing. “Oh, my fine mistress! is this the way you set your cap at
the captain!” She approached, shining smiles upon Esmond, who could look
at nothing but her eyes. She advanced holding forward her head, as if she
would have him kiss her as he used to do when she was a child.

“Stop,” she said, “I am grown too big! Welcome, cousin Harry,” and she
made him an arch curtsy, sweeping down to the ground almost, with the most
gracious bend, looking up the while with the brightest eyes and sweetest
smile. Love seemed to radiate from her. Harry eyed her with such a rapture
as the first lover is described as having by Milton.

“_N’est-ce pas?_” says my lady, in a low, sweet voice, still hanging on
his arm.

Esmond turned round with a start and a blush, as he met his mistress’s
clear eyes. He had forgotten her, wrapt in admiration of the _filia
pulcrior_.

“Right foot forward, toe turned out, so: now drop the curtsy, and show the
red stockings, Trix. They’ve silver clocks, Harry. The dowager sent ’em.
She went to put ’em on,” cries my lord.

“Hush, you stupid child!” says miss, smothering her brother with kisses;
and then she must come and kiss her mamma, looking all the while at Harry,
over his mistress’s shoulder. And if she did not kiss him, she gave him
both her hands, and then took one of his in both hands, and said, “Oh,
Harry, we’re so, _so_ glad you’re come!”

“There are woodcocks for supper,” says my lord: “huzzay! It was such a
hungry sermon.”

“And it is the 29th of December; and our Harry has come home.”

“Huzzay, old Pincot!” again says my lord; and my dear lady’s lips looked
as if they were trembling with a prayer. She would have Harry lead in
Beatrix to the supper-room, going herself with my young lord viscount; and
to this party came Tom Tusher directly, whom four at least out of the
company of five wished away. Away he went, however, as soon as the
sweetmeats were put down, and then, by the great crackling fire, his
mistress or Beatrix, with her blushing graces, filling his glass for him,
Harry told the story of his campaign, and passed the most delightful night
his life had ever known. The sun was up long ere he was, so deep, sweet,
and refreshing was his slumber. He woke as if angels had been watching at
his bed all night. I dare say one that was as pure and loving as an angel
had blest his sleep with her prayers.

Next morning the chaplain read prayers to the little household at Walcote,
as the custom was; Esmond thought Mistress Beatrix did not listen to
Tusher’s exhortation much: her eyes were wandering everywhere during the
service, at least whenever he looked up he met them. Perhaps he also was
not very attentive to his reverence the chaplain. “This might have been my
life,” he was thinking; “this might have been my duty from now till old
age. Well, were it not a pleasant one to be with these dear friends and
part from ’em no more? Until—until the destined lover comes and takes away
pretty Beatrix”—and the best part of Tom Tusher’s exposition, which may
have been very learned and eloquent, was quite lost to poor Harry by this
vision of the destined lover, who put the preacher out.

All the while of the prayers, Beatrix knelt a little way before Harry
Esmond. The red stockings were changed for a pair of grey, and black
shoes, in which her feet looked to the full as pretty. All the roses of
spring could not vie with the brightness of her complexion; Esmond thought
he had never seen anything like the sunny lustre of her eyes. My lady
viscountess looked fatigued, as if with watching, and her face was pale.

Miss Beatrix remarked these signs of indisposition in her mother, and
deplored them. “I am an old woman,” says my lady, with a kind smile; “I
cannot hope to look as young as you do, my dear.”

“She’ll never look as good as you do if she lives till she’s a hundred,”
says my lord, taking his mother by the waist, and kissing her hand.

“Do I look very wicked, cousin?” says Beatrix, turning full round on
Esmond, with her pretty face so close under his chin, that the soft
perfumed hair touched it. She laid her finger-tips on his sleeve as she
spoke; and he put his other hand over hers.

“I’m like your looking-glass,” says he, “and that can’t flatter you.”

“He means that you are always looking at him, my dear,” says her mother,
archly. Beatrix ran away from Esmond at this, and flew to her mamma, whom
she kissed, stopping my lady’s mouth with her pretty hand.

“And Harry is very good to look at,” says my lady, with her fond eyes
regarding the young man.

“If ’tis good to see a happy face,” says he, “you see that.” My lady said
“Amen”, with a sigh; and Harry thought the memory of her dead lord rose up
and rebuked her back again into sadness; for her face lost the smile, and
resumed its look of melancholy.

“Why, Harry, how fine we look in our scarlet and silver, and our black
periwig,” cries my lord. “Mother, I am tired of my own hair. When shall I
have a peruke? Where did you get your steenkirk, Harry?”

“It’s some of my lady dowager’s lace,” says Harry; “she gave me this and a
number of other fine things.”

“My lady dowager isn’t such a bad woman,” my lord continued.

“She’s not so—so red as she’s painted,” says Miss Beatrix.

Her brother broke into a laugh. “I’ll tell her you said so; by the lord,
Trix, I will,” he cries out.

“She’ll know that you hadn’t the wit to say it, my lord,” says Miss
Beatrix.

“We won’t quarrel the first day Harry’s here, will we, mother?” said the
young lord. “We’ll see if we can get on to the new year without a fight.
Have some of this Christmas pie? and here comes the tankard; no, it’s
Pincot with the tea.”

“Will the captain choose a dish?” asks Mistress Beatrix.

“I say, Harry,” my lord goes on, “I’ll show thee my horses after
breakfast; and we’ll go a bird-netting to-night, and on Monday there’s a
cock-match at Winchester—do you love cock-fighting, Harry?—between the
gentlemen of Sussex and the gentlemen of Hampshire, at ten pound the
battle, and fifty pound the odd battle to show one-and-twenty cocks.”

“And what will you do, Beatrix, to amuse our kinsman?” asks my lady.

“I’ll listen to him,” says Beatrix; “I am sure he has a hundred things to
tell us. And I’m jealous already of the Spanish ladies. Was that a
beautiful nun at Cadiz that you rescued from the soldiers? Your man talked
of it last night in the kitchen, and Mrs. Betty told me this morning as
she combed my hair. And he says you must be in love, for you sat on deck
all night, and scribbled verses all day in your table-book.” Harry thought
if he had wanted a subject for verses yesterday, to-day he had found one:
and not all the Lindamiras and Ardelias of the poets were half so
beautiful as this young creature; but he did not say so, though some one
did for him.

This was his dear lady who, after the meal was over, and the young people
were gone, began talking of her children with Mr. Esmond, and of the
characters of one and the other, and of her hopes and fears for both of
them. “’Tis not while they are at home,” she said, “and in their mother’s
nest, I fear for them—’tis when they are gone into the world, whither I
shall not be able to follow them. Beatrix will begin her service next
year. You may have heard a rumour about—about my Lord Blandford. They were
both children; and it is but idle talk. I know my kinswoman would never
let him make such a poor marriage as our Beatrix would be. There’s scarce
a princess in Europe that she thinks is good enough for him or for her
ambition.”

“There’s not a princess in Europe to compare with her,” says Esmond.

“In beauty? No, perhaps not,” answered my lady. “She is most beautiful,
isn’t she? ’Tis not a mother’s partiality that deceives me. I marked you
yesterday when she came down the stair: and read it in your face. We look
when you don’t fancy us looking, and see better than you think, dear
Harry: and just now when they spoke about your poems—you writ pretty lines
when you were but a boy—you thought Beatrix was a pretty subject for
verse, did not you, Harry?” (The gentleman could only blush for a reply.)
“And so she is—nor are you the first her pretty face has captivated. ’Tis
quickly done. Such a pair of bright eyes as hers learn their power very
soon, and use it very early.” And, looking at him keenly with hers, the
fair widow left him.

And so it is—a pair of bright eyes with a dozen glances suffice to subdue
a man; to enslave him, and inflame him; to make him even forget; they
dazzle him so that the past becomes straightway dim to him; and he so
prizes them that he would give all his life to possess ’em. What is the
fond love of dearest friends compared to this treasure? Is memory as
strong as expectancy? fruition, as hunger? gratitude, as desire? I have
looked at royal diamonds in the jewel-rooms in Europe, and thought how
wars have been made about ’em: Mogul sovereigns deposed and strangled for
them, or ransomed with them: millions expended to buy them; and daring
lives lost in digging out the little shining toys that I value no more
than the button in my hat. And so there are other glittering baubles (of
rare water too) for which men have been set to kill and quarrel ever since
mankind began; and which last but for a score of years, when their sparkle
is over. Where are those jewels now that beamed under Cleopatra’s
forehead, or shone in the sockets of Helen?

The second day after Esmond’s coming to Walcote, Tom Tusher had leave to
take a holiday, and went off in his very best gown and bands to court the
young woman whom his reverence desired to marry, and who was not a
viscount’s widow, as it turned out, but a brewer’s relict at Southampton,
with a couple of thousand pounds to her fortune: for honest Tom’s heart
was under such excellent control, that Venus herself without a portion
would never have caused it to flutter. So he rode away on his heavy-paced
gelding to pursue his jog-trot loves, leaving Esmond to the society of his
dear mistress and her daughter, and with his young lord for a companion,
who was charmed not only to see an old friend, but to have the tutor and
his Latin books put out of the way.

The boy talked of things and people, and not a little about himself, in
his frank artless way. ’Twas easy to see that he and his sister had the
better of their fond mother, for the first place in whose affections,
though they fought constantly, and though the kind lady persisted that she
loved both equally, ’twas not difficult to understand that Frank was his
mother’s darling and favourite. He ruled the whole household (always
excepting rebellious Beatrix) not less now than when he was a child
marshalling the village boys in playing at soldiers, and caning them
lustily too, like the sturdiest corporal. As for Tom Tusher, his reverence
treated the young lord with that politeness and deference which he always
showed for a great man, whatever his age or his stature was. Indeed, with
respect to this young one, it was impossible not to love him, so frank and
winning were his manners, his beauty, his gaiety, the ring of his
laughter, and the delightful tone of his voice. Wherever he went, he
charmed and domineered. I think his old grandfather, the dean, and the
grim old housekeeper, Mrs. Pincot, were as much his slaves as his mother
was: and as for Esmond, he found himself presently submitting to a certain
fascination the boy had, and slaving it like the rest of the family. The
pleasure which he had in Frank’s mere company and converse exceeded that
which he ever enjoyed in the society of any other man, however delightful
in talk, or famous for wit. His presence brought sunshine into a room, his
laugh, his prattle, his noble beauty and brightness of look cheered and
charmed indescribably. At the least tale of sorrow, his hands were in his
purse, and he was eager with sympathy and bounty. The way in which women
loved and petted him, when, a year or two afterwards, he came upon the
world, yet a mere boy, and the follies which they did for him (as indeed
he for them), recalled the career of Rochester, and outdid the successes
of Grammont. His very creditors loved him; and the hardest usurers, and
some of the rigid prudes of the other sex too, could deny him nothing. He
was no more witty than another man, but what he said, he said and looked
as no man else could say or look it. I have seen the women at the comedy
at Bruxelles crowd round him in the lobby: and as he sat on the stage more
people looked at him than at the actors, and watched him; and I remember
at Ramillies, when he was hit and fell, a great big red-haired Scotch
sergeant flung his halbert down, burst out a-crying like a woman, seizing
him up as if he had been an infant, and carrying him out of the fire. This
brother and sister were the most beautiful couple ever seen; though after
he winged away from the maternal nest this pair were seldom together.

Sitting at dinner two days after Esmond’s arrival (it was the last day of
the year), and so happy a one to Harry Esmond, that to enjoy it was quite
worth all the previous pain which he had endured and forgot: my young
lord, filling a bumper, and bidding Harry take another, drank to his
sister, saluting her under the title of “marchioness”.

“Marchioness!” says Harry, not without a pang of wonder, for he was
curious and jealous already.

“Nonsense, my lord,” says Beatrix, with a toss of her head. My lady
viscountess looked up for a moment at Esmond, and cast her eyes down.

“The Marchioness of Blandford,” says Frank, “don’t you know—hath not Rouge
Dragon told you?” (My lord used to call the dowager at Chelsey by this and
other names.) “Blandford has a lock of her hair: the duchess found him on
his knees to Mistress ’Trix, and boxed his ears, and said Dr. Hare should
whip him.”

“I wish Mr. Tusher would whip you too,” says Beatrix.

My lady only said: “I hope you will tell none of these silly stories
elsewhere than at home, Francis.”

“’Tis true, on my word,” continues Frank: “look at Harry scowling, mother,
and see how Beatrix blushes as red as the silver-clocked stockings.”

“I think we had best leave the gentlemen to their wine and their talk,”
says Mistress Beatrix, rising up with the air of a young queen, tossing
her rustling, flowing draperies about her, and quitting the room, followed
by her mother.

Lady Castlewood again looked at Esmond, as she stooped down and kissed
Frank. “Do not tell those silly stories, child,” she said: “do not drink
much wine, sir; Harry never loved to drink wine.” And she went away, too,
in her black robes, looking back on the young man with her fair, fond
face.

“Egad! it’s true,” says Frank, sipping his wine with the air of a lord.
“What think you of this Lisbon—real Collares? ’Tis better than your heady
port: we got it out of one of the Spanish ships that came from Vigo last
year: my mother bought it at Southampton, as the ship was lying there—the
_Rose_, Captain Hawkins.”

“Why, I came home in that ship,” says Harry.

“And it brought home a good fellow and good wine,” says my lord. “I say,
Harry, I wish thou hadst not that cursed bar sinister.”

“And why not the bar sinister?” asks the other.

“Suppose I go to the army and am killed—every gentleman goes to the
army—who is to take care of the women? ’Trix will never stop at home;
mother’s in love with you,—yes, I think mother’s in love with you. She was
always praising you, and always talking about you; and when she went to
Southampton, to see the ship, I found her out. But you see it is
impossible: we are of the oldest blood in England; we came in with the
Conqueror; we were only baronets,—but what then? we were forced into that.
James the First forced our great-grandfather. We are above titles; we old
English gentry don’t want ’em; the queen can make a duke any day. Look at
Blandford’s father, Duke Churchill, and Duchess Jennings, what were they,
Harry? Damn it, sir, what are they, to turn up their noses at us? Where
were they, when our ancestor rode with King Henry at Agincourt, and filled
up the French king’s cup after Poictiers? ’Fore George, sir, why shouldn’t
Blandford marry Beatrix? By G——! he _shall_ marry Beatrix, or tell me the
reason why. We’ll marry with the best blood of England, and none but the
best blood of England. You are an Esmond, and you can’t help your birth,
my boy. Let’s have another bottle. What! no more? I’ve drunk three parts
of this myself. I had many a night with my father; you stood to him like a
man, Harry. You backed your blood; you can’t help your misfortune, you
know,—no man can help that.”

The elder said he would go in to his mistress’s tea-table. The young lad,
with a heightened colour and voice, began singing a snatch of a song, and
marched out of the room. Esmond heard him presently calling his dogs about
him, and cheering and talking to them; and by a hundred of his looks and
gestures, tricks of voice and gait, was reminded of the dead lord, Frank’s
father.

And so, the Sylvester Night passed away; the family parted long before
midnight, Lady Castlewood remembering, no doubt, former New-Year’s Eves,
when healths were drunk, and laughter went round in the company of him to
whom years, past, and present, and future, were to be as one; and so cared
not to sit with her children and hear the cathedral bells ringing the
birth of the year 1703. Esmond heard the chimes as he sat in his own
chamber, ruminating by the blazing fire there, and listened to the last
notes of them, looking out from his window towards the city, and the great
grey towers of the cathedral lying under the frosty sky, with the keen
stars shining above.

The sight of these brilliant orbs no doubt made him think of other
luminaries. “And so her eyes have already done execution,” thought
Esmond—“on whom?—who can tell me?” Luckily his kinsman was by, and Esmond
knew he would have no difficulty in finding out Mistress Beatrix’s history
from the simple talk of the boy.



Chapter VIII. Family Talk


What Harry admired and submitted to in the pretty lad, his kinsman, was
(for why should he resist it?) the calmness of patronage which my young
lord assumed, as if to command was his undoubted right, and all the world
(below his degree) ought to bow down to Viscount Castlewood.

“I know my place, Harry,” he said. “I’m not proud—the boys at Winchester
College say I’m proud: but I’m not proud. I am simply Francis James
Viscount Castlewood in the peerage of Ireland. I might have been (do you
know that?) Francis James Marquis and Earl of Esmond in that of England.
The late lord refused the title which was offered to him by my godfather,
his late Majesty. You should know that—you are of our family, you know—you
cannot help your bar sinister, Harry, my dear fellow; and you belong to
one of the best families in England, in spite of that; and you stood by my
father, and by G——! I’ll stand by you. You shall never want a friend,
Harry, while Francis James Viscount Castlewood has a shilling. It’s now
1703—I shall come of age in 1709. I shall go back to Castlewood; I shall
live at Castlewood; I shall build up the house. My property will be pretty
well restored by then. The late viscount mismanaged my property, and left
it in a very bad state. My mother is living close, as you see, and keeps
me in a way hardly befitting a peer of these realms; for I have but a pair
of horses, a governor, and a man that is valet and groom. But when I am of
age, these things will be set right, Harry. Our house will be as it should
be. You’ll always come to Castlewood, won’t you? You shall always have
your two rooms in the court kept for you; and if anybody slights you, d——
them! let them have a care of _me_. I shall marry early—’Trix will be a
duchess by that time, most likely; for a cannon-ball may knock over his
grace any day, you know.”

“How?” says Harry.

“Hush, my dear!” says my lord viscount. “You are of the family—you are
faithful to us, by George, and I tell you everything. Blandford will marry
her—or ——” and here he put his little hand on his sword—“you understand
the rest. Blandford knows which of us two is the best weapon. At
small-sword, or back-sword, or sword and dagger, if he likes: I can beat
him. I have tried him, Harry; and begad, he knows I am a man not to be
trifled with.”

“But you do not mean,” says Harry, concealing his laughter, but not his
wonder, “that you can force my Lord Blandford, the son of the first man of
this kingdom, to marry your sister at sword’s point?”

“I mean to say that we are cousins by the mother’s side, though that’s
nothing to boast of. I mean to say that an Esmond is as good as a
Churchill; and when the king comes back, the Marquis of Esmond’s sister
may be a match for any nobleman’s daughter in the kingdom. There are but
two marquises in all England, William Herbert, Marquis of Powis, and
Francis James, Marquis of Esmond; and hark you, Harry, now swear you’ll
never mention this. Give me your honour as a gentleman, for you _are_ a
gentleman, though you are a——”

“Well, well,” says Harry, a little impatient.

“Well, then, when after my late viscount’s misfortune, my mother went up
with us to London, to ask for justice against you all (as for Mohun, I’ll
have his blood, as sure as my name is Francis Viscount Esmond), we went to
stay with our cousin my Lady Marlborough, with whom we had quarrelled for
ever so long. But when misfortune came, she stood by her blood:—so did the
dowager viscountess stand by her blood,—so did you. Well, sir, whilst my
mother was petitioning the late Prince of Orange—for I will never call him
king—and while you were in prison, we lived at my Lord Marlborough’s
house, who was only a little there, being away with the army in Holland.
And then ... I say, Harry, you won’t tell, now?”

Harry again made a vow of secrecy.

“Well, there used to be all sorts of fun, you know: my Lady Marlborough
was very fond of us, and she said I was to be her page; and she got ’Trix
to be a maid of honour, and while she was up in her room crying, we used
to be always having fun, you know; and the duchess used to kiss me, and so
did her daughters, and Blandford fell tremendous in love with ’Trix, and
she liked him; and one day he—he kissed her behind a door—he did
though,—and the duchess caught him, and she banged such a box of the ear
both to ’Trix and Blandford—you should have seen it! And then she said
that we must leave directly, and abused my mamma, who was cognizant of the
business; but she wasn’t—never thinking about anything but father. And so
we came down to Walcote. Blandford being locked up, and not allowed to see
’Trix. But _I_ got at him. I climbed along the gutter, and in through the
window, where he was crying.

“ ‘Marquis,’ says I, when he had opened it and helped me in, ‘you know I
wear a sword,’ for I had brought it.

“ ‘Oh, viscount,’ says he—‘oh, my dearest Frank!’ and he threw himself
into my arms and burst out a-crying. ‘I do love Mistress Beatrix so, that
I shall die if I don’t have her.’

“ ‘My dear Blandford,’ says I, ‘you are young to think of marrying;’ for
he was but fifteen, and a young fellow of that age can scarce do so, you
know.

“ ‘But I’ll wait twenty years, if she’ll have me,’ says he. ‘I’ll never
marry—no never, never, never, marry anybody but her. No, not a princess,
though they would have me do it ever so. If Beatrix will wait for me, her
Blandford swears he will be faithful.’ And he wrote a paper (it wasn’t
spelt right, for he wrote: ‘I’m ready to _sine with my blode_’, which you
know, Harry, isn’t the way of spelling it), and vowing that he would marry
none other but the Honourable Mistress Gertrude Beatrix Esmond, only
sister of his dearest friend Francis James, fourth Viscount Esmond. And so
I gave him a locket of her hair.”

“A locket of her hair!” cries Esmond.

“Yes. ’Trix gave me one after the fight with the duchess that very day. I
am sure I didn’t want it; and so I gave it him, and we kissed at parting,
and said—‘Good-bye, brother.’ And I got back through the gutter; and we
set off home that very evening. And he went to King’s College, in
Cambridge, and _I’m_ going to Cambridge soon; and if he doesn’t stand to
his promise (for he’s only wrote once),—he knows I wear a sword, Harry.
Come along, and let’s go see the cocking-match at Winchester.

“....But I say,” he added laughing, after a pause, “I don’t think ’Trix
will break her heart about him. Law bless you! Whenever she sees a man,
she makes eyes at him; and young Sir Wilmot Crawley of Queen’s Crawley,
and Anthony Henley of Alresford, were at swords drawn about her, at the
Winchester Assembly, a month ago.”

That night Mr. Harry’s sleep was by no means so pleasant or sweet as it
had been on the first two evenings after his arrival at Walcote. “So the
bright eyes have been already shining on another,” thought he, “and the
pretty lips, or the cheeks at any rate, have begun the work which they
were made for. Here’s a girl not sixteen, and one young gentleman is
already whimpering over a lock of her hair, and two country squires are
ready to cut each other’s throats that they may have the honour of a dance
with her. What a fool am I to be dallying about this passion, and singeing
my wings in this foolish flame. Wings!—why not say crutches? There is but
eight years’ difference between us, to be sure; but in life I am thirty
years older. How could I ever hope to please such a sweet creature as
that, with my rough ways and glum face? Say that I have merit ever so
much, and won myself a name, could she ever listen to me? She must be my
lady marchioness, and I remain a nameless bastard. O my master, my
master!” (here he fell to thinking with a passionate grief of the vow
which he had made to his poor dying lord); “O my mistress, dearest and
kindest, will you be contented with the sacrifice which the poor orphan
makes for you, whom you love, and who so loves you?”

And then came a fiercer pang of temptation. “A word from me,” Harry
thought, “a syllable of explanation, and all this might be changed; but
no, I swore it over the dying bed of my benefactor. For the sake of him
and his; for the sacred love and kindness of old days; I gave my promise
to him, and may kind Heaven enable me to keep my vow!”

The next day, although Esmond gave no sign of what was going on in his
mind, but strove to be more than ordinarily gay and cheerful when he met
his friends at the morning meal, his dear mistress, whose clear eyes it
seemed no emotion of his could escape, perceived that something troubled
him, for she looked anxiously towards him more than once during the
breakfast, and when he went up to his chamber afterwards she presently
followed him, and knocked at his door.

As she entered, no doubt the whole story was clear to her at once, for she
found our young gentleman packing his valise, pursuant to the resolution
which he had come to over-night of making a brisk retreat out of this
temptation.

She closed the door very carefully behind her, and then leant against it,
very pale, her hands folded before her, looking at the young man, who was
kneeling over his work of packing. “Are you going so soon?” she said.

He rose up from his knees, blushing, perhaps, to be so discovered, in the
very act, as it were, and took one of her fair little hands—it was that
which had her marriage ring on—and kissed it.

“It is best that it should be so, dearest lady,” he said.

“I knew you were going, at breakfast. I—I thought you might stay. What has
happened? Why can’t you remain longer with us? What has Frank told you—you
were talking together late last night?”

“I had but three days’ leave from Chelsea,” Esmond said, as gaily as he
could. “My aunt—she lets me call her aunt—is my mistress now; I owe her my
lieutenancy and my laced coat. She has taken me into high favour; and my
new general is to dine at Chelsea to-morrow—General Lumley, madam—who has
appointed me his aide de camp, and on whom I must have the honour of
waiting. See, here is a letter from the dowager; the post brought it last
night; and I would not speak of it, for fear of disturbing our last merry
meeting.”

My lady glanced at the letter, and put it down with a smile that was
somewhat contemptuous. “I have no need to read the letter,” says
she—(indeed, ’twas as well she did not; for the Chelsea missive, in the
poor dowager’s usual French jargon, permitted him a longer holiday than he
said. “_Je vous donne_,” quoth her ladyship, “_oui jour, pour vous fatigay
parfaictement de vos parens fatigans_”)—“I have no need to read the
letter,” says she. “What was it Frank told you last night?”

“He told me little I did not know,” Mr. Esmond answered. “But I have
thought of that little, and here’s the result; I have no right to the name
I bear, dear lady; and it is only by your sufferance that I am allowed to
keep it. If I thought for an hour of what has perhaps crossed your mind
too——”

“Yes, I did, Harry,” said she; “I thought of it; and think of it. I would
sooner call you my son than the greatest prince in Europe—yes, than the
greatest prince. For who is there so good and so brave, and who would love
her as you would? But there are reasons a mother can’t tell.”

“I know them,” said Mr. Esmond, interrupting her with a smile.—“I know
there’s Sir Wilmot Crawley of Queen’s Crawley, and Mr. Anthony Henley of
the Grange, and my Lord Marquis of Blandford, that seems to be the
favoured suitor. You shall ask me to wear my lady marchioness’s favours
and to dance at her ladyship’s wedding.”

“Oh, Harry, Harry, it is none of these follies that frighten me,” cried
out Lady Castlewood. “Lord Churchill is but a child, his outbreak about
Beatrix was a mere boyish folly. His parents would rather see him buried
than married to one below him in rank. And do you think that I would stoop
to sue for a husband for Francis Esmond’s daughter; or submit to have my
girl smuggled into that proud family to cause a quarrel between son and
parents, and to be treated only as an inferior? I would disdain such a
meanness. Beatrix would scorn it. Ah! Henry, ’tis not with you the fault
lies, ’tis with her. I know you both, and love you: need I be ashamed of
that love now? No, never, never, and ’tis not you, dear Harry, that is
unworthy. ’Tis for my poor Beatrix I tremble—whose headstrong will
frightens me; whose jealous temper (they say I was jealous too, but, pray
God, I am cured of that sin) and whose vanity no words or prayers of mine
can cure—only suffering, only experience, and remorse afterwards. Oh,
Henry, she will make no man happy who loves her. Go away, my son, leave
her: love us always, and think kindly of us: and for me, my dear, you know
that these walls contain all that I love in the world.”

In after-life, did Esmond find the words true which his fond mistress
spoke from her sad heart? Warning he had: but I doubt others had warning
before his time, and since: and he benefited by it as most men do.

My young lord viscount was exceeding sorry when he heard that Harry could
not come to the cock-match with him, and must go to London, but no doubt
my lord consoled himself when the Hampshire cocks won the match; and he
saw every one of the battles, and crowed properly over the conquered
Sussex gentlemen.

As Esmond rode towards town his servant, coming up to him, informed him
with a grin, that Mistress Beatrix had brought out a new gown and blue
stockings for that day’s dinner, in which she intended to appear, and had
flown into a rage and given her maid a slap on the face soon after she
heard he was going away. Mistress Beatrix’s woman, the fellow said, came
down to the servants’ hall, crying, and with the mark of a blow still on
her cheek: but Esmond peremptorily ordered him to fall back and be silent,
and rode on with thoughts enough of his own to occupy him—some sad ones,
some inexpressibly dear and pleasant.

His mistress, from whom he had been a year separated, was his dearest
mistress again. The family from which he had been parted, and which he
loved with the fondest devotion, was his family once more. If Beatrix’s
beauty shone upon him, it was with a friendly lustre, and he could regard
it with much such a delight as he brought away after seeing the beautiful
pictures of the smiling Madonnas in the convent at Cadiz, when he was
dispatched thither with a flag: and as for his mistress, ’twas difficult
to say with what a feeling he regarded her. ’Twas happiness to have seen
her: ’twas no great pang to part; a filial tenderness, a love that was at
once respect and protection, filled his mind as he thought of her; and
near her or far from her, and from that day until now, and from now till
death is past, and beyond it, he prays that sacred flame may ever burn.



Chapter IX. I Make The Campaign Of 1704


Mr. Esmond rode up to London then, where, if the dowager had been angry at
the abrupt leave of absence he took, she was mightily pleased at his
speedy return.

He went immediately and paid his court to his new general, General Lumley,
who received him graciously, having known his father, and also, he was
pleased to say, having had the very best accounts of Mr. Esmond from the
officer whose aide de camp he had been at Vigo. During this winter Mr.
Esmond was gazetted to a lieutenancy in Brigadier Webb’s regiment of
Fusiliers, then with their colonel in Flanders; but being now attached to
the suite of Mr. Lumley, Esmond did not join his own regiment until more
than a year afterwards, and after his return from the campaign of
Blenheim, which was fought the next year. The campaign began very early,
our troops marching out of their quarters before the winter was almost
over, and investing the city of Bonn, on the Rhine, under the duke’s
command. His grace joined the army in deep grief of mind, with crape on
his sleeve, and his household in mourning; and the very same packet which
brought the commander-in-chief over, brought letters to the forces which
preceded him, and one from his dear mistress to Esmond, which interested
him not a little.

The young Marquis of Blandford, his grace’s son, who had been entered in
King’s College in Cambridge (whither my lord viscount had also gone, to
Trinity, with Mr. Tusher as his governor), had been seized with small-pox,
and was dead at sixteen years of age, and so poor Frank’s schemes for his
sister’s advancement were over, and that innocent childish passion nipped
in the birth.

Esmond’s mistress would have had him return, at least her letters hinted
as much; but in the presence of the enemy this was impossible, and our
young man took his humble share in the siege, which need not be described
here, and had the good luck to escape without a wound of any sort, and to
drink his general’s health after the surrender. He was in constant
military duty this year, and did not think of asking for a leave of
absence, as one or two of his less fortunate friends did, who were cast
away in that tremendous storm which happened towards the close of
November, that “which of late o’er pale Britannia past” (as Mr. Addison
sang of it), and in which scores of our greatest ships and 15,000 of our
seamen went down.

They said that our duke was quite heartbroken by the calamity which had
befallen his family; but his enemies found that he could subdue them, as
well as master his grief. Successful as had been this great general’s
operations in the past year, they were far enhanced by the splendour of
his victory in the ensuing campaign. His grace the captain-general went to
England after Bonn, and our army fell back into Holland, where, in April,
1704, his grace again found the troops embarking from Harwich and landing
at Maesland Sluys: thence his grace came immediately to the Hague, where
he received the foreign ministers, general officers, and other people of
quality. The greatest honours were paid to his grace everywhere—at the
Hague, Utrecht, Ruremonde, and Maestricht; the civic authorities coming to
meet his coaches: salvos of cannon saluting him, canopies of state being
erected for him where he stopped, and feasts prepared for the numerous
gentlemen following in his suite. His grace reviewed the troops of the
States-General between Liége and Maestricht, and afterwards the English
forces, under the command of General Churchill, near Bois-le-Duc. Every
preparation was made for a long march; and the army heard, with no small
elation, that it was the commander-in-chief’s intention to carry the war
out of the Low Countries, and to march on the Mozelle. Before leaving our
camp at Maestricht, we heard that the French, under the Marshal Villeroy,
were also bound towards the Mozelle.

Towards the end of May, the army reached Coblentz; and next day, his
grace, and the generals accompanying him, went to visit the Elector of
Treves at his Castle of Ehrenbreitstein, the horse and dragoons passing
the Rhine whilst the duke was entertained at a grand feast by the Elector.
All as yet was novelty, festivity, and splendour—a brilliant march of a
great and glorious army through a friendly country, and sure through some
of the most beautiful scenes of nature which I ever witnessed.

The foot and artillery, following after the horse as quick as possible,
crossed the Rhine under Ehrenbreitstein, and so to Castel, over against
Mayntz, in which city his grace, his generals, and his retinue were
received at the landing-place by the Elector’s coaches, carried to his
highness’s palace amidst the thunder of cannon, and then once more
magnificently entertained. Gidlingen, in Bavaria, was appointed as the
general rendezvous of the army, and thither, by different routes, the
whole forces of English, Dutch, Danes, and German auxiliaries took their
way. The foot and artillery under General Churchill passed the Neckar, at
Heidelberg; and Esmond had an opportunity of seeing that city and palace,
once so famous and beautiful (though shattered and battered by the French,
under Turenne, in the late war), where his grandsire had served the
beautiful and unfortunate Electress-Palatine, the first King Charles’s
sister.

At Mindelsheim, the famous Prince of Savoy came to visit our commander,
all of us crowding eagerly to get a sight of that brilliant and intrepid
warrior; and our troops were drawn up in battalia before the prince, who
was pleased to express his admiration of this noble English army. At
length we came in sight of the enemy between Dillingen and Lawingen, the
Brentz lying between the two armies. The Elector, judging that Donauwort
would be the point of his grace’s attack, sent a strong detachment of his
best troops to Count Darcos, who was posted at Schellenberg, near that
place, where great entrenchments were thrown up, and thousands of pioneers
employed to strengthen the position.

On the 2nd of July, his grace stormed the post, with what success on our
part need scarce be told. His grace advanced with six thousand foot,
English and Dutch, thirty squadrons and three regiments of Imperial
cuirassiers, the duke crossing the river at the head of the cavalry.
Although our troops made the attack with unparalleled courage and
fury—rushing up to the very guns of the enemy, and being slaughtered
before their works—we were driven back many times, and should not have
carried them, but that the Imperialists came up under the Prince of Baden,
when the enemy could make no head against us: we pursued him into the
trenches, making a terrible slaughter there, and into the very Danube,
where a great part of his troops, following the example of their generals,
Count Darcos and the Elector himself, tried to save themselves by
swimming. Our army entered Donauwort, which the Bavarians evacuated; and
where ’twas said the Elector purposed to have given us a warm reception,
by burning us in our beds; the cellars of the houses, when we took
possession of them, being found stuffed with straw. But though the links
were there, the link-boys had run away. The townsmen saved their houses,
and our general took possession of the enemy’s ammunition in the arsenals,
his stores, and magazines. Five days afterwards a great _Te Deum_ was sung
in Prince Lewis’s army, and a solemn day of thanksgiving held in our own;
the Prince of Savoy’s compliments coming to his grace the captain-general
during the day’s religious ceremony, and concluding, as it were, with an
amen.

And now, having seen a great military march through a friendly country;
the pomps and festivities of more than one German court; the severe
struggle of a hotly-contested battle, and the triumph of victory; Mr.
Esmond beheld another part of military duty; our troops entering the
enemy’s territory, and putting all around them to fire and sword; burning
farms, wasted fields, shrieking women, slaughtered sons and fathers, and
drunken soldiery, cursing and carousing in the midst of tears, terror, and
murder. Why does the stately Muse of History, that delights in describing
the valour of heroes and the grandeur of conquest, leave out these scenes,
so brutal, mean, and degrading, that yet form by far the greater part of
the drama of war? You, gentlemen of England, who live at home at ease, and
compliment yourselves in the songs of triumph with which our chieftains
are bepraised—you pretty maidens, that come tumbling down the stairs when
the fife and drum call you, and huzzah for the British Grenadiers—do you
take account that these items go to make up the amount of the triumph you
admire, and form part of the duties of the heroes you fondle? Our chief,
whom England and all Europe, saving only the Frenchmen, worshipped almost,
had this of the godlike in him, that he was impassible before victory,
before danger, before defeat. Before the greatest obstacle or the most
trivial ceremony; before a hundred thousand men drawn in battalia, or a
peasant slaughtered at the door of his burning hovel; before a carouse of
drunken German lords, or a monarch’s court, or a cottage-table, where his
plans were laid, or an enemy’s battery, vomiting flame and death, and
strewing corpses round about him;—he was always cold, calm, resolute, like
fate. He performed a treason or a court-bow, he told a falsehood as black
as Styx, as easily as he paid a compliment or spoke about the weather. He
took a mistress, and left her; he betrayed his benefactor, and supported
him, or would have murdered him, with the same calmness always, and having
no more remorse than Clotho when she weaves the thread, or Lachesis when
she cuts it. In the hour of battle I have heard the Prince of Savoy’s
officers say, the prince became possessed with a sort of warlike fury; his
eyes lighted up; he rushed hither and thither, raging; he shrieked curses
and encouragement, yelling and harking his bloody war-dogs on, and himself
always at the first of the hunt. Our duke was as calm at the mouth of the
cannon as at the door of a drawing-room. Perhaps he could not have been
the great man he was, had he had a heart either for love or hatred, or
pity or fear, or regret, or remorse. He achieved the highest deed of
daring, or deepest calculation of thought, as he performed the very
meanest action of which a man is capable; told a lie, or cheated a fond
woman, or robbed a poor beggar of a halfpenny, with a like awful serenity
and equal capacity of the highest and lowest acts of our nature.

His qualities were pretty well known in the army, where there were parties
of all politics, and of plenty of shrewdness and wit; but there existed
such a perfect confidence in him, as the first captain of the world, and
such a faith and admiration in his prodigious genius and fortune, that the
very men whom he notoriously cheated of their pay, the chiefs whom he used
and injured—(for he used all men, great and small, that came near him, as
his instruments alike, and took something of theirs, either some quality
or some property—the blood of a soldier, it might be, or a jewelled hat,
or a hundred thousand crowns from a king, or a portion out of a starving
sentinel’s three farthings; or (when he was young) a kiss from a woman,
and the gold chain off her neck, taking all he could from woman or man,
and having, as I have said, this of the godlike in him, that he could see
a hero perish or a sparrow fall, with the same amount of sympathy for
either. Not that he had no tears; he could always order up this reserve at
the proper moment to battle; he could draw upon tears or smiles alike, and
whenever need was for using this cheap coin. He would cringe to a
shoeblack, as he would flatter a minister or a monarch; be haughty, be
humble, threaten, repent, weep, grasp your hand, or stab you whenever he
saw occasion)—But yet those of the army, who knew him best and had
suffered most from him, admired him most of all: and as he rode along the
lines to battle or galloped up in the nick of time to a battalion reeling
from before the enemy’s charge or shot, the fainting men and officers got
new courage as they saw the splendid calm of his face, and felt that his
will made them irresistible.

After the great victory of Blenheim the enthusiasm of the army for the
duke, even of his bitterest personal enemies in it, amounted to a sort of
rage—nay, the very officers who cursed him in their hearts, were among the
most frantic to cheer him. Who could refuse his meed of admiration to such
a victory and such a victor? Not he who writes: a man may profess to be
ever so much a philosopher; but he who fought on that day must feel a
thrill of pride as he recalls it.

The French right was posted near to the village of Blenheim, on the
Danube, where the Marshal Tallard’s quarters were; their line extending
through, it may be a league and a half, before Lutzingen and up to a woody
hill, round the base of which, and acting against the Prince of Savoy,
were forty of his squadrons. Here was a village that the Frenchmen had
burned, the wood being, in fact, a better shelter and easier of guard than
any village.

Before these two villages and the French lines ran a little stream, not
more than two foot broad, through a marsh (that was mostly dried up from
the heats of the weather), and this stream was the only separation between
the two armies—ours coming up and ranging themselves in line of battle
before the French, at six o’clock in the morning; so that our line was
quite visible to theirs; and the whole of this great plain was black and
swarming with troops for hours before the cannonading began.

On one side and the other this cannonading lasted many hours. The French
guns being in position in front of their line, and doing severe damage
among our horse especially, and on our right wing of Imperialists under
the Prince of Savoy, who could neither advance his artillery nor his
lines, the ground before him being cut up by ditches, morasses, and very
difficult of passage for the guns.

It was past midday when the attack began on our left, where Lord Cutts
commanded, the bravest and most beloved officer in the English army. And
now, as if to make his experience in war complete, our young aide de camp
having seen two great armies facing each other in line of battle, and had
the honour of riding with orders from one end to other of the line, came
in for a not uncommon accompaniment of military glory, and was knocked on
the head, along with many hundred of brave fellows, almost at the very
commencement of this famous day of Blenheim. A little after noon, the
disposition for attack being completed with much delay and difficulty, and
under a severe fire from the enemy’s guns, that were better posted and
more numerous than ours, a body of English and Hessians, with
Major-General Wilkes commanding at the extreme left of our line, marched
upon Blenheim, advancing with great gallantry, the major-general on foot,
with his officers, at the head of the column, and marching, with his hat
off, intrepidly in the face of the enemy, who was pouring in a tremendous
fire from his guns and musketry, to which our people were instructed not
to reply, except with pike and bayonet when they reached the French
palisades. To these Wilkes walked intrepidly, and struck the woodwork with
his sword before our people charged it. He was shot down at the instant,
with his colonel, major, and several officers; and our troops cheering and
huzzaing, and coming on, as they did, with immense resolution and
gallantry, were nevertheless stopped by the murderous fire from behind the
enemy’s defences, and then attacked in flank by a furious charge of French
horse which swept out of Blenheim, and cut down our men in great numbers.
Three fierce and desperate assaults of our foot were made and repulsed by
the enemy; so that our columns of foot were quite shattered, and fell
back, scrambling over the little rivulet, which we had crossed so
resolutely an hour before, and pursued by the French cavalry, slaughtering
us and cutting us down.

And now the conquerors were met by a furious charge of English horse under
Esmond’s general, General Lumley, behind whose squadrons the flying foot
found refuge, and formed again, whilst Lumley drove back the French horse,
charging up to the village of Blenheim and the palisades where Wilkes, and
many hundred more gallant Englishmen, lay in slaughtered heaps. Beyond
this moment, and of this famous victory, Mr. Esmond knows nothing; for a
shot brought down his horse and our young gentleman on it, who fell
crushed and stunned under the animal; and came to his senses he knows not
how long after, only to lose them again from pain and loss of blood. A dim
sense, as of people groaning round about him, a wild incoherent thought or
two for her who occupied so much of his heart now, and that here his
career, and his hopes, and misfortunes were ended, he remembers in the
course of these hours. When he woke up it was with a pang of extreme pain,
his breast-plate was taken off, his servant was holding his head up, the
good and faithful lad of Hampshire(9) was blubbering over his master, whom
he found and had thought dead, and a surgeon was probing a wound in the
shoulder, which he must have got at the same moment when his horse was
shot and fell over him. The battle was over at this end of the field, by
this time: the village was in possession of the English, its brave
defenders prisoners, or fled, or drowned, many of them, in the
neighbouring waters of the Donau. But for honest Lockwood’s faithful
search after his master, there had no doubt been an end of Esmond here,
and of this his story. The marauders were out rifling the bodies as they
lay on the field, and Jack had brained one of these gentry with the
club-end of his musket, who had eased Esmond of his hat and periwig, his
purse, and fine silver-mounted pistols which the dowager gave him, and was
fumbling in his pockets for further treasure, when Jack Lockwood came up
and put an end to the scoundrel’s triumph.

Hospitals for our wounded were established at Blenheim, and here for
several weeks Esmond lay in very great danger of his life; the wound was
not very great from which he suffered, and the ball extracted by the
surgeon on the spot where our young gentleman received it; but a fever set
in next day, as he was lying in hospital, and that almost carried him
away. Jack Lockwood said he talked in the wildest manner during his
delirium; that he called himself the Marquis of Esmond, and seizing one of
the surgeon’s assistants who came to dress his wounds, swore that he was
Madam Beatrix, and that he would make her a duchess if she would but say
yes. He was passing the days in these crazy fancies, and _vana somnia_,
whilst the army was singing _Te Deum_ for the victory, and those famous
festivities were taking place at which our duke, now made a Prince of the
Empire, was entertained by the King of the Romans and his nobility. His
grace went home by Berlin and Hanover, and Esmond lost the festivities
which took place at those cities, and which his general shared in company
of the other general officers who travelled with our great captain. When
he could move it was by the Duke of Wirtemburg’s city of Stuttgard that he
made his way homewards, revisiting Heidelberg again, whence he went to
Manheim, and hence had a tedious but easy water journey down the river of
Rhine, which he had thought a delightful and beautiful voyage indeed, but
that his heart was longing for home, and something far more beautiful and
delightful.

As bright and welcome as the eyes almost of his mistress shone the lights
of Harwich, as the packet came in from Holland. It was not many hours ere
he, Esmond, was in London, of that you may be sure, and received with open
arms by the old dowager of Chelsea, who vowed, in her jargon of French and
English, that he had the _air noble_, that his pallor embellished him,
that he was an Amadis and deserved a Gloriana; and, O flames and darts!
what was his joy at hearing that his mistress was come into waiting, and
was now with her Majesty at Kensington! Although Mr. Esmond had told Jack
Lockwood to get horses and they would ride for Winchester that night; when
he heard this news he countermanded the horses at once; his business lay
no longer in Hants; all his hope and desire lay within a couple of miles
of him in Kensington Park wall. Poor Harry had never looked in the glass
before so eagerly to see whether he had the _bel air_, and his paleness
really did become him; he never took such pains about the curl of his
periwig, and the taste of his embroidery and point-lace, as now, before
Mr. Amadis presented himself to Madam Gloriana. Was the fire of the French
lines half so murderous as the killing glances from her ladyship’s eyes? O
darts and raptures, how beautiful were they!

And as, before the blazing sun of morning, the moon fades away in the sky
almost invisible; Esmond thought, with a blush perhaps, of another sweet
pale face, sad and faint, and fading out of sight, with its sweet fond
gaze of affection; such a last look it seemed to cast as Eurydice might
have given, yearning after her lover, when Fate and Pluto summoned her,
and she passed away into the shades.



Chapter X. An Old Story About A Fool And A Woman


Any taste for pleasure which Esmond had (and he liked to _desipere in
loco_, neither more nor less than most young men of his age) he could now
gratify to the utmost extent, and in the best company which the town
afforded. When the army went into winter quarters abroad, those of the
officers who had interest or money easily got leave of absence, and found
it much pleasanter to spend their time in Pall Mall and Hyde Park, than to
pass the winter away behind the fortifications of the dreary old Flanders
towns, where the English troops were gathered. Yatches and packets passed
daily between the Dutch and Flemish ports and Harwich; the roads thence to
London and the great inns were crowded with army gentlemen; the taverns
and ordinaries of the town swarmed with red-coats; and our great duke’s
levees at St. James’s were as thronged as they had been at Ghent and
Brussels, where we treated him, and he us, with the grandeur and ceremony
of a sovereign. Though Esmond had been appointed to a lieutenancy in the
Fusilier regiment, of which that celebrated officer, Brigadier John
Richmond Webb, was colonel, he had never joined the regiment, nor been
introduced to its excellent commander, though they had made the same
campaign together, and been engaged in the same battle. But being aide de
camp to General Lumley, who commanded the division of horse, and the army
marching to its point of destination on the Danube by different routes,
Esmond had not fallen in, as yet, with his commander and future comrades
of the fort; and it was in London, in Golden Square, where Major-General
Webb lodged, that Captain Esmond had the honour of first paying his
respects to his friend, patron, and commander of after-days.

Those who remember this brilliant and accomplished gentleman may recollect
his character, upon which he prided himself, I think, not a little, of
being the handsomest man in the army; a poet who writ a dull copy of
verses upon the battle of Oudenarde three years after, describing Webb,
says:—


    To noble danger Webb conducts the way,
    His great example all his troops obey;
    Before the front the general sternly rides,
    With such an air as Mars to battle strides:
    Propitious Heaven must sure a hero save,
    Like Paris handsome, and like Hector brave.


Mr. Webb thought these verses quite as fine as Mr. Addison’s on the
Blenheim campaign, and, indeed, to be Hector _à la mode de Paris_, was
part of this gallant gentleman’s ambition. It would have been difficult to
find an officer in the whole army, or amongst the splendid courtiers and
cavaliers of the Maison-du-Roy, that fought under Vendosme and Villeroy in
the army opposed to ours, who was a more accomplished soldier and perfect
gentleman, and either braver or better-looking. And, if Mr. Webb believed
of himself what the world said of him, and was deeply convinced of his own
indisputable genius, beauty, and valour, who has a right to quarrel with
him very much? This self-content of his kept him in general good humour,
of which his friends and dependants got the benefit.

He came of a very ancient Wiltshire family, which he respected above all
families in the world: he could prove a lineal descent from King Edward
the First, and his first ancestor, Roaldus de Richmond, rode by William
the Conqueror’s side on Hastings field. “We were gentlemen, Esmond,” he
used to say, “when the Churchills were horseboys.” He was a very tall man,
standing in his pumps six feet three inches (in his great jack-boots, with
his tall, fair periwig, and hat and feather, he could not have been less
than eight feet high). “I am taller than Churchill,” he would say,
surveying himself in the glass, “and I am a better made man; and if the
women won’t like a man that hasn’t a wart on his nose, faith, I can’t help
myself, and Churchill has the better of me there.” Indeed, he was always
measuring himself with the duke, and always asking his friends to measure
them. And talking in this frank way, as he would do, over his cups, wags
would laugh and encourage him; friends would be sorry for him; schemers
and flatterers would egg him on, and tale-bearers carry the stories to
head quarters, and widen the difference which already existed there
between the great captain and one of the ablest and bravest lieutenants he
ever had.

His rancour against the duke was so apparent, that one saw it in the first
half-hour’s conversation with General Webb; and his lady, who adored her
general, and thought him a hundred times taller, handsomer, and braver
than a prodigal nature had made him, hated the great duke with such an
intensity as it becomes faithful wives to feel against their husbands’
enemies. Not that my lord duke was so yet; Mr. Webb had said a thousand
things against him, which his superior had pardoned; and his grace, whose
spies were everywhere, had heard a thousand things more that Webb had
never said. But it cost this great man no pains to pardon; and he passed
over an injury or a benefit alike easily.

Should any child of mine take the pains to read these, his ancestor’s
memoirs, I would not have him judge of the great duke(10) by what a
contemporary has written of him. No man hath been so immensely lauded and
decried as this great statesman and warrior; as, indeed, no man ever
deserved better the very greatest praise and the strongest censure. If the
present writer joins with the latter faction, very likely a private pique
of his own may be the cause of his ill-feeling.

On presenting himself at the commander-in-chief’s levee, his grace had not
the least remembrance of General Lumley’s aide de camp, and though he knew
Esmond’s family perfectly well, having served with both lords (my Lord
Francis and the viscount, Esmond’s father) in Flanders, and in the Duke of
York’s Guard, the Duke of Marlborough, who was friendly and serviceable to
the (so-styled) legitimate representatives of the Viscount Castlewood,
took no sort of notice of the poor lieutenant who bore their name. A word
of kindness or acknowledgement, or a single glance of approbation, might
have changed Esmond’s opinion of the great man; and instead of a satire,
which his pen cannot help writing, who knows but that the humble historian
might have taken the other side of panegyric? We have but to change the
point of view, and the greatest action looks mean; as we turn the
perspective-glass, and a giant appears a pigmy. You may describe, but who
can tell whether your sight is clear or not, or your means of information
accurate? Had the great man said but a word of kindness to the small one
(as he would have stepped out of his gilt chariot to shake hands with
Lazarus in rags and sores, if he thought Lazarus could have been of any
service to him), no doubt Esmond would have fought for him with pen and
sword to the utmost of his might; but my lord the lion did not want master
mouse at this moment, and so Muscipulus went off and nibbled in
opposition.

So it was, however, that a young gentleman, who, in the eyes of his
family, and in his own, doubtless, was looked upon as a consummate hero,
found that the great hero of the day took no more notice of him than of
the smallest drummer in his grace’s army. The dowager at Chelsea was
furious against this neglect of her family, and had a great battle with
Lady Marlborough (as Lady Castlewood insisted on calling the duchess). Her
grace was now mistress of the robes to her Majesty, and one of the
greatest personages in this kingdom, as her husband was in all Europe, and
the battle between the two ladies took place in the queen’s drawing-room.

The duchess, in reply to my aunt’s eager clamour, said haughtily, that she
had done her best for the legitimate branch of the Esmonds, and could not
be expected to provide for the bastard brats of the family.

“Bastards,” says the viscountess, in a fury, “there are bastards amongst
the Churchills, as your grace knows, and the Duke of Berwick is provided
for well enough.”

“Madam,” says the duchess, “you know whose fault it is that there are no
such dukes in the Esmond family too, and how that little scheme of a
certain lady miscarried.”

Esmond’s friend, Dick Steele, who was in waiting on the prince, heard the
controversy between the ladies at Court, “And faith,” says Dick, “I think,
Harry, thy kinswoman had the worst of it.”

He could not keep the story quiet; ’twas all over the coffee-houses ere
night; it was printed in a News Letter before a month was over, and “The
Reply of her Grace the Duchess of M-rlb-r-gh, to a Popish Lady of the
Court, once a favourite of the late K— J-m-s,” was printed in half a dozen
places, with a note stating that this duchess, when the head of this
lady’s family came by his death lately in a fatal duel, never rested until
she got a pension for the orphan heir, and widow, from her Majesty’s
bounty. The squabble did not advance poor Esmond’s promotion much, and
indeed made him so ashamed of himself that he dared not show his face at
the commander-in-chief’s levees again.

                  -------------------------------------

During those eighteen months which had passed since Esmond saw his dear
mistress, her good father, the old dean, quitted this life, firm in his
principles to the very last, and enjoining his family always to remember
that the queen’s brother, King James the Third, was their rightful
sovereign. He made a very edifying end, as his daughter told Esmond, and,
not a little to her surprise, after his death (for he had lived always
very poorly) my lady found that her father had left no less a sum than
3,000_l._ behind him, which he bequeathed to her.

With this little fortune Lady Castlewood was enabled, when her daughter’s
turn at Court came, to come to London, where she took a small genteel
house at Kensington, in the neighbourhood of the Court, bringing her
children with her, and here it was that Esmond found his friends.

As for the young lord, his University career had ended rather abruptly.
Honest Tusher, his governor, had found my young gentleman quite
ungovernable. My lord worried his life away with tricks; and broke out, as
home-bred lads will, into a hundred youthful extravagances, so that Dr.
Bentley, the new master of Trinity, thought fit to write to the
Viscountess Castlewood, my lord’s mother, and beg her to remove the young
nobleman from a college where he declined to learn, and where he only did
harm by his riotous example. Indeed, I believe he nearly set fire to
Nevil’s Court, that beautiful new quadrangle of our college, which Sir
Christopher Wren had lately built. He knocked down a proctor’s man that
wanted to arrest him in a midnight prank; he gave a dinner party on the
Prince of Wales’s birthday, which was within a fortnight of his own, and
the twenty young gentlemen then present sallied out after their wine,
having toasted King James’s health with open windows, and sung cavalier
songs, and shouted, “God save the King!” in the great court, so that the
master came out of his lodge at midnight, and dissipated the riotous
assembly.

This was my lord’s crowning freak, and the Rev. Thomas Tusher, domestic
chaplain to the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Castlewood, finding his
prayers and sermons of no earthly avail to his lordship, gave up his
duties of governor; went and married his brewer’s widow at Southampton,
and took her and her money to his parsonage-house at Castlewood.

My lady could not be angry with her son for drinking King James’s health,
being herself a loyal Tory, as all the Castlewood family were, and
acquiesced with a sigh, knowing, perhaps, that her refusal would be of no
avail to the young lord’s desire for a military life. She would have liked
him to be in Mr. Esmond’s regiment, hoping that Harry might act as
guardian and adviser to his wayward young kinsman; but my young lord would
hear of nothing but the Guards, and a commission was got for him in the
Duke of Ormonde’s regiment; so Esmond found my lord, ensign and
lieutenant, when he returned from Germany after the Blenheim campaign.

The effect produced by both Lady Castlewood’s children when they appeared
in public was extraordinary, and the whole town speedily rang with their
fame; such a beautiful couple, it was declared, never had been seen; the
young maid of honour was toasted at every table and tavern, and as for my
young lord, his good looks were even more admired than his sister’s. A
hundred songs were written about the pair, and as the fashion of that day
was, my young lord was praised in these Anacreontics as warmly as
Bathyllus. You may be sure that he accepted very complacently the town’s
opinion of him, and acquiesced with that frankness and charming good
humour he always showed in the idea that he was the prettiest fellow in
all London.

The old dowager at Chelsea, though she could never be got to acknowledge
that Mrs. Beatrix was any beauty at all (in which opinion, as it may be
imagined, a vast number of the ladies agreed with her), yet, on the very
first sight of young Castlewood, she owned she fell in love with him; and
Henry Esmond, on his return to Chelsea, found himself quite superseded in
her favour by her younger kinsman. That feat of drinking the king’s health
at Cambridge would have won her heart, she said, if nothing else did. “How
had the dear young fellow got such beauty?” she asked. “Not from his
father—certainly not from his mother. How had he come by such noble
manners, and the perfect _bel air_? That countrified Walcote widow could
never have taught him.” Esmond had his own opinion about the countrified
Walcote widow, who had a quiet grace, and serene kindness, that had always
seemed to him the perfection of good breeding, though he did not try to
argue this point with his aunt. But he could agree in most of the praises
which the enraptured old dowager bestowed on my lord viscount, than whom
he never beheld a more fascinating and charming gentleman. Castlewood had
not wit so much as enjoyment. “The lad looks good things,” Mr. Steele used
to say; “and his laugh lights up a conversation as much as ten repartees
from Mr. Congreve. I would as soon sit over a bottle with him as with Mr.
Addison; and rather listen to his talk than hear Nicolini. Was ever man so
gracefully drunk as my Lord Castlewood? I would give anything to carry my
wine (though, indeed, Dick bore his very kindly, and plenty of it, too)
like this incomparable young man. When he is sober he is delightful; and
when tipsy, perfectly irresistible.” And referring to his favourite,
Shakespeare (who was quite out of fashion until Steele brought him back
into the mode), Dick compared Lord Castlewood to Prince Hal, and was
pleased to dub Esmond as ancient Pistol.

The mistress of the robes, the greatest lady in England after the queen,
or even before her Majesty, as the world said, though she never could be
got to say a civil word to Beatrix, whom she had promoted to her place as
maid of honour, took her brother into instant favour. When young
Castlewood, in his new uniform, and looking like a prince out of a
fairy-tale, went to pay his duty to her grace, she looked at him for a
minute in silence, the young man blushing and in confusion before her,
then fairly burst out a-crying, and kissed him before her daughters and
company. “He was my boy’s friend,” she said, through her sobs. “My
Blandford might have been like him.” And everybody saw, after this mark of
the duchess’s favour, that my young lord’s promotion was secure, and
people crowded round the favourite’s favourite, who became vainer and
gayer, and more good-humoured than ever.

Meanwhile Madam Beatrix was making her conquests on her own side, and
amongst them was one poor gentleman, who had been shot by her young eyes
two years before, and had never been quite cured of that wound; he knew,
to be sure, how hopeless any passion might be, directed in that quarter,
and had taken that best, though ignoble, _remedium amoris_, a speedy
retreat from before the charmer, and a long absence from her; and not
being dangerously smitten in the first instance, Esmond pretty soon got
the better of his complaint, and if he had it still, did not know he had
it, and bore it easily. But when he returned after Blenheim, the young
lady of sixteen, who had appeared the most beautiful object his eyes had
ever looked on two years back, was now advanced to a perfect ripeness and
perfection of beauty, such as instantly enthralled the poor devil, who had
already been a fugitive from her charms. Then he had seen her but for two
days, and fled; now he beheld her day after day, and when she was at
Court, watched after her; when she was at home, made one of the family
party; when she went abroad, rode after her mother’s chariot; when she
appeared in public places, was in the box near her, or in the pit looking
at her; when she went to church was sure to be there, though he might not
listen to the sermon, and be ready to hand her to her chair if she deigned
to accept of his services, and select him from a score of young men who
were always hanging round about her. When she went away, accompanying her
Majesty to Hampton Court, a darkness fell over London. Gods, what nights
has Esmond passed, thinking of her, rhyming about her, talking about her!
His friend Dick Steele was at this time courting the young lady, Mrs.
Scurlock, whom he married; she had a lodging in Kensington Square, hard by
my Lady Castlewood’s house there. Dick and Harry, being on the same
errand, used to meet constantly at Kensington. They were always prowling
about that place, or dismally walking thence, or eagerly running thither.
They emptied scores of bottles at the “King’s Arms”, each man prating of
his love, and allowing the other to talk on condition that he might have
his own turn as a listener. Hence arose an intimacy between them, though
to all the rest of their friends they must have been insufferable.
Esmond’s verses to “Gloriana at the Harpsichord”, to “Gloriana’s Nosegay”,
to “Gloriana at Court”, appeared this year in the _Observator_.—Have you
never read them? They were thought pretty poems, and attributed by some to
Mr. Prior.

This passion did not escape—how should it?—the clear eyes of Esmond’s
mistress: he told her all; what will a man not do when frantic with love?
To what baseness will he not demean himself? What pangs will he not make
others suffer, so that he may ease his selfish heart of a part of its own
pain? Day after day he would seek his dear mistress, pour insane hopes,
supplications, rhapsodies, raptures, into her ear. She listened, smiled,
consoled, with untiring pity and sweetness. Esmond was the eldest of her
children, so she was pleased to say; and as for her kindness, who ever had
or would look for aught else from one who was an angel of goodness and
pity? After what has been said, ’tis needless almost to add that poor
Esmond’s suit was unsuccessful. What was a nameless, penniless lieutenant
to do, when some of the greatest in the land were in the field? Esmond
never so much as thought of asking permission to hope so far above his
reach as he knew this prize was—and passed his foolish, useless life in
mere abject sighs and impotent longing. What nights of rage, what days of
torment, of passionate unfulfilled desire, of sickening jealousy, can he
recall! Beatrix thought no more of him than of the lackey that followed
her chair. His complaints did not touch her in the least; his raptures
rather fatigued her; she cared for his verses no more than for Dan
Chaucer’s, who’s dead these ever so many hundred years; she did not hate
him; she rather despised him, and just suffered him.

One day, after talking to Beatrix’s mother, his dear, fond, constant
mistress—for hours—for all day long—pouring out his flame and his passion,
his despair and rage, returning again and again to the theme, pacing the
room, tearing up the flowers on the table, twisting and breaking into bits
the wax out of the standish, and performing a hundred mad freaks of
passionate folly; seeing his mistress at last quite pale and tired out
with sheer weariness of compassion, and watching over his fever for the
hundredth time, Esmond seized up his hat, and took his leave. As he got
into Kensington Square, a sense of remorse came over him for the wearisome
pain he had been inflicting upon the dearest and kindest friend ever man
had. He went back to the house, where the servant still stood at the open
door, ran up the stairs, and found his mistress where he had left her in
the embrasure of the window, looking over the fields towards Chelsea. She
laughed, wiping away at the same time the tears which were in her kind
eyes; he flung himself down on his knees, and buried his head in her lap.
She had in her hand the stalk of one of the flowers, a pink, that he had
torn to pieces. “Oh, pardon me, pardon me, my dearest and kindest,” he
said; “I am in hell, and you are the angel that brings me a drop of
water.”

“I am your mother, you are my son, and I love you always,” she said,
holding her hands over him; and he went away comforted and humbled in
mind, as he thought of that amazing and constant love and tenderness with
which this sweet lady ever blessed and pursued him.



Chapter XI. The Famous Mr. Joseph Addison


The gentlemen ushers had a table at Kensington, and the Guard a very
splendid dinner daily at St. James’s, at either of which ordinaries Esmond
was free to dine. Dick Steele liked the Guard-table better than his own at
the gentleman ushers’, where there was less wine and more ceremony; and
Esmond had many a jolly afternoon in company of his friend, and a hundred
times at least saw Dick into his chair. If there is verity in wine,
according to the old adage, what an amiable-natured character Dick’s must
have been! In proportion as he took in wine he overflowed with kindness.
His talk was not witty so much as charming. He never said a word that
could anger anybody, and only became the more benevolent the more tipsy he
grew. Many of the wags derided the poor fellow in his cups, and chose him
as a butt for their satire; but there was a kindness about him, and a
sweet playful fancy, that seemed to Esmond far more charming than the
pointed talk of the brightest wits, with their elaborate repartees and
affected severities. I think Steele shone rather than sparkled. Those
famous _beaux-esprits_ of the coffee-houses (Mr. William Congreve, for
instance, when his gout and his grandeur permitted him to come among us)
would make many brilliant hits—half a dozen in a night sometimes—but, like
sharpshooters, when they had fired their shot, they were obliged to retire
under cover till their pieces were loaded again, and wait till they got
another chance at their enemy; whereas Dick never thought that his
bottle-companion was a butt to aim at—only a friend to shake by the hand.
The poor fellow had half the town in his confidence; everybody knew
everything about his loves and his debts, his creditors or his mistress’s
obduracy. When Esmond first came on to the town, honest Dick was all
flames and raptures for a young lady, a West India fortune, whom he
married. In a couple of years the lady was dead, the fortune was all but
spent, and the honest widower was as eager in pursuit of a new paragon of
beauty as if he had never courted and married and buried the last one.

Quitting the Guard-table on one sunny afternoon, when by chance Dick had a
sober fit upon him, he and his friend were making their way down Germain
Street, and Dick all of a sudden left his companion’s arm, and ran after a
gentleman who was poring over a folio volume at the book-shop near to St.
James’s Church. He was a fair, tall man, in a snuff-coloured suit, with a
plain sword, very sober, and almost shabby in appearance—at least when
compared to Captain Steele, who loved to adorn his jolly round person with
the finest of clothes, and shone in scarlet and gold lace. The captain
rushed up, then, to the student of the bookstall, took him in his arms,
hugged him, and would have kissed him—for Dick was always hugging and
bussing his friends—but the other stepped back with a flush on his pale
face, seeming to decline this public manifestation of Steele’s regard.

“My dearest Joe, where hast thou hidden thyself this age?” cries the
captain, still holding both his friend’s hands; “I have been languishing
for thee this fortnight.”

“A fortnight is not an age, Dick,” says the other, very good-humouredly.
(He had light blue eyes, extraordinary bright, and a face perfectly
regular and handsome, like a tinted statue.) “And I have been hiding
myself—where do you think?”

“What! not across the water, my dear Joe?” says Steele, with a look of
great alarm: “thou knowest I have always——”

“No,” says his friend, interrupting him with a smile: “we are not come to
such straits as that, Dick. I have been hiding, sir, at a place where
people never think of finding you—at my own lodgings, whither I am going
to smoke a pipe now and drink a glass of sack; will your honour come?”

“Harry Esmond, come hither,” cries out Dick. “Thou hast heard me talk over
and over again at my dearest Joe, my guardian angel.”

“Indeed,” says Mr. Esmond, with a bow, “it is not from you only that I
have learnt to admire Mr. Addison. We loved good poetry at Cambridge, as
well as at Oxford; and I have some of yours by heart, though I have put on
a red-coat ... ‘_O qui canoro blandius Orpheo vocale ducis carmen_’; shall
I go on, sir?” says Mr. Esmond, who indeed had read and loved the charming
Latin poems of Mr. Addison, as every scholar of that time knew and admired
them.

“This is Captain Esmond who was at Blenheim,” says Steele.

“Lieutenant Esmond,” says the other, with a low bow; “at Mr. Addison’s
service.”

“I have heard of you,” says Mr. Addison, with a smile; as, indeed,
everybody about town had heard that unlucky story about Esmond’s dowager
aunt and the duchess.

“We were going to the ‘George’, to take a bottle before the play,” says
Steele; “wilt thou be one, Joe?”

Mr. Addison said his own lodgings were hard by, where he was still rich
enough to give a good bottle of wine to his friends; and invited the two
gentlemen to his apartment in the Haymarket, whither we accordingly went.

“I shall get credit with my landlady,” says he, with a smile, “when she
sees two such fine gentlemen as you come up my stair.” And he politely
made his visitors welcome to his apartment, which was indeed but a shabby
one, though no grandee of the land could receive his guests with a more
perfect and courtly grace than this gentleman. A frugal dinner, consisting
of a slice of meat and a penny loaf, was awaiting the owner of the
lodgings. “My wine is better than my meat,” says Mr. Addison; “my Lord
Halifax sent me the burgundy.” And he set a bottle and glasses before his
friends, and eat his simple dinner in a very few minutes, after which the
three fell to, and began to drink. “You see,” says Mr. Addison, pointing
to his writing-table, whereon was a map of the action at Hochstedt, and
several other gazettes and pamphlets relating to the battle, “that I, too,
am busy about your affairs, captain. I am engaged as a poetical gazetteer,
to say truth, and am writing a poem on the campaign.”

So Esmond, at the request of his host, told him what he knew about the
famous battle, drew the river on the table, _aliquo mero_, and with the
aid of some bits of tobacco-pipe, showed the advance of the left wing,
where he had been engaged.

A sheet or two of the verses lay already on the table beside our bottles
and glasses, and Dick having plentifully refreshed himself from the
latter, took up the pages of manuscript, writ out with scarce a blot or
correction, in the author’s slim, neat handwriting, and began to read
therefrom with great emphasis and volubility. At pauses of the verse the
enthusiastic reader stopped and fired off a great salvo of applause.

Esmond smiled at the enthusiasm of Addison’s friend.

“You are like the German burghers,” says he, “and the princes on the
Mozelle; when our army came to a halt, they always sent a deputation to
compliment the chief, and fired a salute with all their artillery from
their walls.”

“And drunk the great chief’s health afterward, did not they?” says Captain
Steele, gaily filling up a bumper;—he never was tardy at that sort of
acknowledgement of a friend’s merit.

“And the duke, since you will have me act his grace’s part,” says Mr.
Addison, with a smile and something of a blush, “pledged his friends in
return. Most serene Elector of Covent Garden, I drink to your highness’s
health,” and he filled himself a glass. Joseph required scarce more
pressing than Dick to that sort of amusement; but the wine never seemed at
all to fluster Mr. Addison’s brains; it only unloosed his tongue, whereas
Captain Steele’s head and speech were quite overcome by a single bottle.

No matter what the verses were, and, to say truth, Mr. Esmond found some
of them more than indifferent, Dick’s enthusiasm for his chief never
faltered, and in every line from Addison’s pen, Steele found a
master-stroke. By the time Dick had come to that part of the poem, wherein
the bard describes as blandly as though he were recording a dance at the
Opera, or a harmless bout of bucolic cudgelling at a village fair, that
bloody and ruthless part of our campaign, with the remembrance whereof
every soldier who bore a part in it must sicken with shame—when we were
ordered to ravage and lay waste the Elector’s country; and with fire and
murder, slaughter and crime, a great part of his dominions was overrun:
when Dick came to the lines—


    In vengeance roused the soldier fills his hand
    With sword and fire, and ravages the land.
    In crackling flames a thousand harvests burn,
    A thousand villages to ashes turn.
    To the thick woods the woolly flocks retreat,
    And mixed with bellowing herds confusedly bleat.
    Their trembling lords the common shade partake,
    And cries of infants found in every brake.
    The listening soldier fixed in sorrow stands,
    Loath to obey his leader’s just commands.
    The leader grieves, by generous pity swayed,
    To see his just commands so well obeyed:


by this time wine and friendship had brought poor Dick to a perfectly
maudlin state, and he hiccuped out the last line with a tenderness that
set one of his auditors a-laughing.

“I admire the licence of you poets,” says Esmond to Mr. Addison. (Dick,
after reading of the verses, was fain to go off, insisting on kissing his
two dear friends before his departure, and reeling away with his periwig
over his eyes.) “I admire your art: the murder of the campaign is done to
military music, like a battle at the Opera, and the virgins shriek in
harmony, as our victorious grenadiers march into their villages. Do you
know what a scene it was” (by this time, perhaps, the wine had warmed Mr.
Esmond’s head too),—“what a triumph you are celebrating? what scenes of
shame and horror were enacted, over which the commander’s genius presided,
as calm as though he didn’t belong to our sphere? You talk of the
‘listening soldier fixed in sorrow’, the ‘leader’s grief swayed by
generous pity’; to my belief the leader cared no more for bleating flocks
than he did for infants’ cries, and many of our ruffians butchered one or
the other with equal alacrity. I was ashamed of my trade when I saw those
horrors perpetrated, which came under every man’s eyes. You hew out of
your polished verses a stately image of smiling victory; I tell you ’tis
an uncouth, distorted, savage idol; hideous, bloody, and barbarous. The
rites performed before it are shocking to think of. You great poets should
show it as it is—ugly and horrible, not beautiful and serene. Oh, sir, had
you made the campaign, believe me, you never would have sung it so.”

During this little outbreak, Mr. Addison was listening, smoking out of his
long pipe, and smiling very placidly. “What would you have?” says he. “In
our polished days, and according to the rules of art, ’tis impossible that
the Muse should depict tortures or begrime her hands with the horrors of
war. These are indicated rather than described; as in the Greek tragedies,
that, I dare say, you have read (and sure there can be no more elegant
specimens of composition); Agamemnon is slain, or Medea’s children
destroyed, away from the scene;—the chorus occupying the stage and singing
of the action to pathetic music. Something of this I attempt, my dear sir,
in my humble way: ’tis a panegyric I mean to write, and not a satire. Were
I to sing as you would have me, the town would tear the poet in pieces,
and burn his book by the hands of the common hangman. Do you not use
tobacco? Of all the weeds grown on earth, sure the nicotian is the most
soothing and salutary. We must paint our great duke,” Mr. Addison went on,
“not as a man, which no doubt he is, with weaknesses like the rest of us,
but as a hero. ’Tis in a triumph, not a battle, that your humble servant
is riding his sleek Pegasus. We college-poets trot, you know, on very easy
nags; it hath been, time out of mind, part of the poet’s profession to
celebrate the actions of heroes in verse, and to sing the deeds which you
men of war perform. I must follow the rules of my art, and the composition
of such a strain as this must be harmonious and majestic, not familiar, or
too near the vulgar truth. _Si parva licet_: if Virgil could invoke the
divine Augustus, a humbler poet from the banks of the Isis may celebrate a
victory and a conqueror of our own nation, in whose triumphs every Briton
has a share, and whose glory and genius contributes to every citizen’s
individual honour. When hath there been, since our Henrys’ and Edwards’
days, such a great feat of arms as that from which you yourself have
brought away marks of distinction? If ’tis in my power to sing that song
worthily, I will do so, and be thankful to my Muse. If I fail as a poet,
as a Briton at least I will show my loyalty and fling up my cap and huzzah
for the conqueror:


    ————“Rheni pacator et Istri
    Omnis in hoc uno variis discordia cessit
    Ordinibus; laetatur eques, plauditque senator,
    Votaque patricio certant plebeia favori.”


“There were as brave men on that field,” says Mr. Esmond (who never could
be made to love the Duke of Marlborough, nor to forget those stories which
he used to hear in his youth regarding that great chief’s selfishness and
treachery)—“there were men at Blenheim as good as the leader, whom neither
knights nor senators applauded, nor voices plebeian or patrician favoured,
and who lie there forgotten, under the clods. What poet is there to sing
them?”

“To sing the gallant souls of heroes sent to Hades!” says Mr. Addison,
with a smile: “would you celebrate them all? If I may venture to question
anything in such an admirable work, the catalogue of the ships in Homer
hath always appeared to me as somewhat wearisome; what had the poem been,
supposing the writer had chronicled the names of captains, lieutenants,
rank and file? One of the greatest of a great man’s qualities is success;
’tis the result of all the others; ’tis a latent power in him which
compels the favour of the gods, and subjugates fortune. Of all his gifts I
admire that one in the great Marlborough. To be brave? every man is brave.
But in being victorious, as he is, I fancy there is something divine. In
presence of the occasion, the great soul of the leader shines out, and the
god is confessed. Death itself respects him, and passes by him to lay
others low. War and carnage flee before him to ravage other parts of the
field, as Hector from before the divine Achilles. You say he hath no pity;
no more have the gods, who are above it, and superhuman. The fainting
battle gathers strength at his aspect; and, wherever he rides, victory
charges with him.”

A couple of days after, when Mr. Esmond revisited his poetic friend, he
found this thought, struck out in the fervour of conversation, improved
and shaped into those famous lines, which are in truth the noblest in the
poem of the _Campaign_. As the two gentlemen sat engaged in talk, Mr.
Addison solacing himself with his customary pipe; the little maidservant
that waited on his lodging came up, preceding a gentleman in fine laced
clothes, that had evidently been figuring at Court or a great man’s levee.
The courtier coughed a little at the smoke of the pipe, and looked round
the room curiously, which was shabby enough, as was the owner in his worn
snuff-coloured suit and plain tie-wig.

“How goes on the _magnum opus_, Mr. Addison?” says the Court gentleman on
looking down at the papers that were on the table.

“We were but now over it,” says Addison (the greatest courtier in the land
could not have a more splendid politeness, or greater dignity of manner);
“here is the plan,” says he, “on the table; _hac ibat Simois_, here ran
the little river Nebel: _hic est Sigeia tellus_, here are Tallard’s
quarters, at the bowl of this pipe, at the attack of which Captain Esmond
was present. I have the honour to introduce him to Mr. Boyle; and Mr.
Esmond was but now depicting _aliquo praelia mixta mero_, when you came
in.” In truth the two gentlemen had been so engaged when the visitor
arrived, and Addison, in his smiling way, speaking of Mr. Webb, colonel of
Esmond’s regiment (who commanded a brigade in the action, and greatly
distinguished himself there), was lamenting that he could find never a
suitable rhyme for Webb, otherwise the brigade should have had a place in
the poet’s verses. “And for you, you are but a lieutenant,” says Addison,
“and the Muse can’t occupy herself with any gentleman under the rank of a
field-officer.”

Mr. Boyle was all impatient to hear, saying that my Lord Treasurer and my
Lord Halifax were equally anxious; and Addison, blushing, began reading of
his verses, and, I suspect, knew their weak parts as well as the most
critical hearer. When he came to the lines describing the angel, that


    Inspired repulsed battalions to engage,
    And taught the doubtful battle where to rage,


he read with great animation, looking at Esmond, as much as to say, “You
know where that simile came from—from our talk, and our bottle of
burgundy, the other day.”

The poet’s two hearers were caught with enthusiasm, and applauded the
verses with all their might. The gentleman of the Court sprang up in great
delight. “Not a word more, my dear sir,” says he. “Trust me with the
papers—I’ll defend them with my life. Let me read them over to my Lord
Treasurer, whom I am appointed to see in half an hour. I venture to
promise, the verses shall lose nothing by my reading, and then, sir, we
shall see whether Lord Halifax has a right to complain that his friend’s
pension is no longer paid.” And without more ado, the courtier in lace
seized the manuscript pages, placed them in his breast with his ruffled
hand over his heart, executed a most gracious wave of the hat with the
disengaged hand, and smiled and bowed out of the room, leaving an odour of
pomander behind him.

“Does not the chamber look quite dark,” says Addison, surveying it, “after
the glorious appearance and disappearance of that gracious messenger? Why,
he illuminated the whole room. Your scarlet, Mr. Esmond, will bear any
light; but this threadbare old coat of mine, how very worn it looked under
the glare of that splendour! I wonder whether they will do anything for
me,” he continued. “When I came out of Oxford into the world, my patrons
promised me great things; and you see where their promises have landed me,
in a lodging up two pair of stairs, with a sixpenny dinner from the cook’s
shop. Well, I suppose this promise will go after the others, and fortune
will jilt me, as the jade has been doing any time these seven years. ‘I
puff the prostitute away,’ ” says he, smiling, and blowing a cloud out of
his pipe. “There is no hardship in poverty, Esmond, that is not bearable;
no hardship even in honest dependence that an honest man may not put up
with. I came out of the lap of Alma Mater, puffed up with her praises of
me, and thinking to make a figure in the world with the parts and learning
which had got me no small name in our college. The world is the ocean, and
Isis and Charwell are but little drops, of which the sea takes no account.
My reputation ended a mile beyond Maudlin Tower; no one took note of me;
and I learned this, at least, to bear up against evil fortune with a
cheerful heart. Friend Dick hath made a figure in the world, and has
passed me in the race long ago. What matters a little name or a little
fortune? There is no fortune that a philosopher cannot endure. I have been
not unknown as a scholar, and yet forced to live by turning bear-leader,
and teaching a boy to spell. What then? The life was not pleasant, but
possible—the bear was bearable. Should this venture fail, I will go back
to Oxford; and some day, when you are a general, you shall find me a
curate in a cassock and bands, and I shall welcome your honour to my
cottage in the country, and to a mug of penny ale. ’Tis not poverty that’s
the hardest to bear, or the least happy lot in life,” says Mr. Addison,
shaking the ash out of his pipe. “See, my pipe is smoked out. Shall we
have another bottle? I have still a couple in the cupboard, and of the
right sort. No more?—let us go abroad and take a turn on the Mall, or look
in at the theatre and see Dick’s comedy. ’Tis not a masterpiece of wit;
but Dick is a good fellow, though he doth not set the Thames on fire.”

Within a month after this day, Mr. Addison’s ticket had come up a
prodigious prize in the lottery of life. All the town was in an uproar of
admiration of his poem, the _Campaign_, which Dick Steele was spouting at
every coffee-house in Whitehall and Covent Garden. The wits on the other
side of Temple Bar saluted him at once as the greatest poet the world had
seen for ages; the people huzza’ed for Marlborough and for Addison, and,
more than this, the party in power provided for the meritorious poet, and
Mr. Addison got the appointment of Commissioner of Excise, which the
famous Mr. Locke vacated, and rose from this place to other dignities and
honours; his prosperity from henceforth to the end of his life being
scarce ever interrupted. But I doubt whether he was not happier in his
garret in the Haymarket, than ever he was in his splendid palace at
Kensington; and I believe the fortune that came to him in the shape of the
countess his wife, was no better than a shrew and a vixen.

                  -------------------------------------

Gay as the town was, ’twas but a dreary place for Mr. Esmond, whether his
charmer was in it or out of it, and he was glad when his general gave him
notice that he was going back to his division of the army which lay in
winter quarters at Bois-le-Duc. His dear mistress bade him farewell with a
cheerful face; her blessing he knew he had always, and wheresoever fate
carried him. Mrs. Beatrix was away in attendance on her Majesty at Hampton
Court, and kissed her fair finger-tips to him, by way of adieu, when he
rode thither to take his leave. She received her kinsman in a waiting-room
where there were half a dozen more ladies of the Court, so that his
high-flown speeches, had he intended to make any (and very likely he did),
were impossible; and she announced to her friends that her cousin was
going to the army, in as easy a manner as she would have said he was going
to a chocolate-house. He asked with a rather rueful face, if she had any
orders for the army? and she was pleased to say that she would like a
mantle of Mechlin lace. She made him a saucy curtsy in reply to his own
dismal bow. She deigned to kiss her finger-tips from the window, where she
stood laughing with the other ladies, and chanced to see him as he made
his way to the “Toy”. The dowager at Chelsea was not sorry to part with
him this time. “_Mon cher, vous êtes triste comme un sermon_,” she did him
the honour to say to him; indeed, gentlemen in his condition are by no
means amusing companions, and besides, the fickle old woman had now found
a much more amiable favourite, and _raffole_’d for her darling lieutenant
of the Guard. Frank remained behind for a while, and did not join the army
till later, in the suite of his grace the commander-in-chief. His dear
mother, on the last day before Esmond went away, and when the three dined
together, made Esmond promise to befriend her boy, and besought Frank to
take the example of his kinsman as of a loyal gentleman and brave soldier,
so she was pleased to say; and at parting, betrayed not the least sign of
faltering or weakness, though, God knows, that fond heart was fearful
enough when others were concerned, though so resolute in bearing its own
pain.

Esmond’s general embarked at Harwich. ’Twas a grand sight to see Mr. Webb
dressed in scarlet on the deck, waving his hat as our yacht put off, and
the guns saluted from the shore. Harry did not see his viscount again,
until three months after, at Bois-le-Duc, when his grace the duke came to
take the command, and Frank brought a budget of news from home: how he had
supped with this actress, and got tired of that; how he had got the better
of Mr. St. John, both over the bottle, and with Mrs. Mountford, of the
Haymarket Theatre (a veteran charmer of fifty, with whom the young
scapegrace chose to fancy himself in love); how his sister was always at
her tricks, and had jilted a young baron for an old earl. “I can’t make
out Beatrix,” he said; “she cares for none of us—she only thinks about
herself; she is never happy unless she is quarrelling; but as for my
mother—my mother, Harry, is an angel.” Harry tried to impress on the young
fellow the necessity of doing everything in his power to please that
angel; not to drink too much; not to go into debt; not to run after the
pretty Flemish girls, and so forth, as became a senior speaking to a lad.
“But Lord bless thee!” the boy said; “I may do what I like, and I know she
will love me all the same;” and so, indeed, he did what he liked.
Everybody spoiled him, and his grave kinsman as much as the rest.



Chapter XII. I Get A Company In The Campaign Of 1706


On Whit Sunday, the famous 23rd of May, 1706, my young lord first came
under the fire of the enemy, whom we found posted in order of battle,
their lines extending three miles or more, over the high ground behind the
little Gheet river, and having on his left the little village of Anderkirk
or Autre-église, and on his right Ramillies, which has given its name to
one of the most brilliant and disastrous days of battle that history ever
hath recorded.

Our duke here once more met his old enemy of Blenheim, the Bavarian
Elector and the Mareschal Villeroy, over whom the Prince of Savoy had
gained the famous victory of Chiari. What Englishman or Frenchman doth not
know the issue of that day? Having chosen his own ground, having a force
superior to the English, and besides the excellent Spanish and Bavarian
troops, the whole Maison-du-Roy with him, the most splendid body of horse
in the world,—in an hour (and in spite of the prodigious gallantry of the
French Royal Household, who charged through the centre of our line and
broke it), this magnificent army of Villeroy was utterly routed by troops
that had been marching for twelve hours, and by the intrepid skill of a
commander, who did, indeed, seem in the presence of the enemy to be the
very Genius of Victory.

I think it was more from conviction than policy, though that policy was
surely the most prudent in the world, that the great duke always spoke of
his victories with an extraordinary modesty, and as if it was not so much
his own admirable genius and courage which achieved these amazing
successes, but as if he was a special and fatal instrument in the hands of
Providence, that willed irresistibly the enemy’s overthrow. Before his
actions he always had the church service read solemnly, and professed an
undoubting belief that our queen’s arms were blessed and our victory sure.
All the letters which he writ after his battles show awe rather than
exultation; and he attributes the glory of these achievements, about which
I have heard mere petty officers and men bragging with a pardonable
vainglory, in no wise to his own bravery or skill, but to the
superintending protection of Heaven, which he ever seemed to think was our
especial ally. And our army got to believe so, and the enemy learnt to
think so too; for we never entered into a battle without a perfect
confidence that it was to end in a victory; nor did the French, after the
issue of Blenheim, and that astonishing triumph of Ramillies, ever meet us
without feeling that the game was lost before it was begun to be played,
and that our general’s fortune was irresistible. Here, as at Blenheim, the
duke’s charger was shot, and ’twas thought for a moment he was dead. As he
mounted another, Binfield, his master of the horse, kneeling to hold his
grace’s stirrup, had his head shot away by a cannon-ball. A French
gentleman of the Royal Household, that was a prisoner with us, told the
writer that at the time of the charge of the Household, when their horse
and ours were mingled, an Irish officer recognized the Prince-Duke, and
calling out—“Marlborough, Marlborough!” fired his pistol at him _à bout
portant_, and that a score more carbines and pistols were discharged at
him. Not one touched him: he rode through the French Cuirassiers sword in
hand, and entirely unhurt, and calm and smiling rallied the German horse,
that was reeling before the enemy, brought these and twenty squadrons of
Orkney’s back upon them, and drove the French across the river
again—leading the charge himself, and defeating the only dangerous move
the French made that day.

Major-General Webb commanded on the left of our line, and had his own
regiment under the orders of their beloved colonel. Neither he nor they
belied their character for gallantry on this occasion; but it was about
his dear young lord that Esmond was anxious, never having sight of him
save once, in the whole course of the day, when he brought an order from
the commander-in-chief to Mr. Webb. When our horse, having charged round
the right flank of the enemy by Overkirk, had thrown him into entire
confusion, a general advance was made, and our whole line of foot,
crossing the little river and the morass, ascended the high ground where
the French were posted, cheering as they went, the enemy retreating before
them. ’Twas a service of more glory than danger, the French battalions
never waiting to exchange push of pike or bayonet with ours; and the
gunners flying from their pieces which our line left behind us as they
advanced, and the French fell back.

At first it was a retreat orderly enough; but presently the retreat became
a rout, and a frightful slaughter of the French ensued on this panic; so
that an army of sixty thousand men was utterly crushed and destroyed in
the course of a couple of hours. It was as if a hurricane had seized a
compact and numerous fleet, flung it all to the winds, shattered, sunk,
and annihilated it; _afflavit Deus, et dissipati sunt_. The French army of
Flanders was gone, their artillery, their standards, their treasure,
provisions, and ammunition were all left behind them: the poor devils had
even fled without their soup-kettles, which are as much the palladia of
the French infantry as of the Grand Signor’s Janizaries, and round which
they rally even more than round their lilies.

The pursuit, and a dreadful carnage which ensued (for the dregs of a
battle, however brilliant, are ever a base residue of rapine, cruelty, and
drunken plunder), was carried far beyond the field of Ramillies.

Honest Lockwood, Esmond’s servant, no doubt wanted to be among the
marauders himself and take his share of the booty; for when, the action
over, and the troops got to their ground for the night, the captain bade
Lockwood get a horse, he asked, with a very rueful countenance, whether
his honour would have him come too; but his honour only bade him go about
his own business, and Jack hopped away quite delighted as soon as he saw
his master mounted. Esmond made his way, and not without danger and
difficulty, to his grace’s head quarters, and found for himself very
quickly where the aides de camp’s quarters were, in an outbuilding of a
farm, where several of these gentlemen were seated, drinking and singing,
and at supper. If he had any anxiety about his boy, ’twas relieved at
once. One of the gentlemen was singing a song to a tune that Mr. Farquhar
and Mr. Gay both had used in their admirable comedies, and very popular in
the army of that day; after the song came a chorus, “Over the hills and
far away”; and Esmond heard Frank’s fresh voice soaring, as it were, over
the songs of the rest of the young men—a voice that had always a certain
artless, indescribable pathos with it, and indeed which caused Mr.
Esmond’s eyes to fill with tears now, out of thankfulness to God the child
was safe and still alive to laugh and sing.

When the song was over Esmond entered the room, where he knew several of
the gentlemen present, and there sat my young lord, having taken off his
cuirass, his waistcoat open, his face flushed, his long yellow hair
hanging over his shoulders, drinking with the rest; the youngest, gayest,
handsomest there. As soon as he saw Esmond, he clapped down his glass, and
running towards his friend, put both his arms round him and embraced him.
The other’s voice trembled with joy as he greeted the lad; he had thought
but now as he stood in the courtyard under the clear-shining moonlight:
“Great God! what a scene of murder is here within a mile of us; what
hundreds and thousands have faced danger to-day; and here are these lads
singing over their cups, and the same moon that is shining over yonder
horrid field is looking down on Walcote very likely, while my lady sits
and thinks about her boy that is at the war.” As Esmond embraced his young
pupil now, ’twas with the feeling of quite religious thankfulness, and an
almost paternal pleasure that he beheld him.

Round his neck was a star with a striped ribbon, that was made of small
brilliants and might be worth a hundred crowns. “Look,” says he, “won’t
that be a pretty present for mother?”

“Who gave you the Order?” says Harry, saluting the gentleman: “did you win
it in battle?”

“I won it,” cried the other, “with my sword and my spear. There was a
mousquetaire that had it round his neck—such a big mousquetaire, as big as
General Webb. I called out to him to surrender, and that I’d give him
quarter: he called me a _petit polisson_, and fired his pistol at me, and
then sent it at my head with a curse. I rode at him, sir, drove my sword
right under his arm-hole, and broke it in the rascal’s body. I found a
purse in his holster with sixty-five louis in it, and a bundle of
love-letters, and a flask of Hungary-water. _Vive la guerre!_ there are
the ten pieces you lent me. I should like to have a fight every day;” and
he pulled at his little moustache and bade a servant bring a supper to
Captain Esmond.

Harry fell to with a very good appetite; he had tasted nothing since
twenty hours ago, at early dawn. Master Grandson, who read this, do you
look for the history of battles and sieges? Go, find them in the proper
books; this is only the story of your grandfather and his family. Far more
pleasant to him than the victory, though for that too he may say
_meminisse juvat_, it was to find that the day was over, and his dear
young Castlewood was unhurt.

And would you, sirrah, wish to know how it was that a sedate captain of
foot, a studious and rather solitary bachelor of eight or nine and twenty
years of age, who did not care very much for the jollities which his
comrades engaged in, and was never known to lose his heart in any garrison
town—should you wish to know why such a man had so prodigious a
tenderness, and tended so fondly a boy of eighteen, wait, my good friend,
until thou art in love with thy schoolfellow’s sister, and then see how
mighty tender thou wilt be towards him. Esmond’s general and his grace the
prince-duke were notoriously at variance, and the former’s friendship was
in no wise likely to advance any man’s promotion, of whose services Webb
spoke well; but rather likely to injure him, so the army said, in the
favour of the greater man. However, Mr. Esmond had the good fortune to be
mentioned very advantageously by Major-General Webb in his report after
the action; and the major of his regiment and two of the captains having
been killed upon the day of Ramillies, Esmond, who was second of the
lieutenants, got his company, and had the honour of serving as Captain
Esmond in the next campaign.

My lord went home in the winter, but Esmond was afraid to follow him. His
dear mistress wrote him letters more than once, thanking him, as mothers
know how to thank, for his care and protection of her boy, extolling
Esmond’s own merits with a great deal more praise than they deserved; for
he did his duty no better than any other officer; and speaking sometimes,
though gently and cautiously, of Beatrix. News came from home of at least
half a dozen grand matches that the beautiful maid of honour was about to
make. She was engaged to an earl, our gentlemen of St. James’s said, and
then jilted him for a duke, who, in his turn, had drawn off. Earl or duke
it might be who should win this Helen, Esmond knew she would never bestow
herself on a poor captain. Her conduct, it was clear, was little
satisfactory to her mother, who scarcely mentioned her, or else the kind
lady thought it was best to say nothing, and leave time to work out its
cure. At any rate, Harry was best away from the fatal object which always
wrought him so much mischief; and so he never asked for leave to go home,
but remained with his regiment that was garrisoned in Brussels, which city
fell into our hands when the victory of Ramillies drove the French out of
Flanders.



Chapter XIII. I Meet An Old Acquaintance In Flanders, And Find My Mother’s
Grave And My Own Cradle There


Being one day in the Church of St. Gudule, at Brussels, admiring the
antique splendour of the architecture (and always entertaining a great
tenderness and reverence for the Mother Church, that hath been as wickedly
persecuted in England as ever she herself persecuted in the days of her
prosperity), Esmond saw kneeling at a side altar, an officer in a green
uniform coat, very deeply engaged in devotion. Something familiar in the
figure and posture of the kneeling man struck Captain Esmond, even before
he saw the officer’s face. As he rose up, putting away into his pocket a
little black breviary, such as priests use, Esmond beheld a countenance so
like that of his friend and tutor of early days, Father Holt, that he
broke out into an exclamation of astonishment and advanced a step towards
the gentleman, who was making his way out of church. The German officer
too looked surprised when he saw Esmond, and his face from being pale grew
suddenly red. By this mark of recognition, the Englishman knew that he
could not be mistaken; and though the other did not stop, but on the
contrary rather hastily walked away towards the door, Esmond pursued him
and faced him once more, as the officer helping himself to holy water,
turned mechanically towards the altar to bow to it ere he quitted the
sacred edifice.

“My father!” says Esmond in English.

“Silence! I do not understand. I do not speak English,” says the other in
Latin.

Esmond smiled at this sign of confusion, and replied in the same language.
“I should know my father in any garment, black or white, shaven or
bearded,” for the Austrian officer was habited quite in the military
manner, and had as warlike a moustachio as any Pandour.

He laughed—we were on the church steps by this time, passing through the
crowd of beggars that usually is there holding up little trinkets for sale
and whining for alms. “You speak Latin,” says he, “in the English way,
Harry Esmond; you have forsaken the old true Roman tongue you once knew.”
His tone was very frank, and friendly quite; the kind voice of fifteen
years back; he gave Esmond his hand as he spoke.

“Others have changed their coats too, my father,” says Esmond, glancing at
his friend’s military decoration.

“Hush! I am Mr. or Captain von Holtz, in the Bavarian Elector’s service,
and on a mission to his highness the Prince of Savoy. You can keep a
secret I know from old times.”

“Captain von Holtz,” says Esmond, “I am your very humble servant.”

“And you, too, have changed your coat,” continues the other, in his
laughing way; “I have heard of you at Cambridge and afterwards: we have
friends everywhere; and I am told that Mr. Esmond at Cambridge was as good
a fencer as he was a bad theologian.” (So, thinks Esmond, my old _maitre
d’armes_ was a Jesuit as they said.)

“Perhaps you are right,” says the other, reading his thoughts quite as he
used to do in old days: “you were all but killed at Hochstedt of a wound
in the left side. You were before that at Vigo, aide de camp to the Duke
of Ormonde. You got your company the other day after Ramillies; your
general and the prince-duke are not friends; he is of the Webbs of Lydiard
Tregoze, in the county of York, a relation of my Lord St. John. Your
cousin, Monsieur de Castlewood, served his first campaign this year in the
Guard; yes, I do know a few things as you see.”

Captain Esmond laughed in his turn. “You have indeed a curious knowledge,”
he says. A foible of Mr. Holt’s, who did know more about books and men
than, perhaps, almost any person Esmond had ever met, was omniscience;
thus in every point he here professed to know, he was nearly right, but
not quite. Esmond’s wound was in the right side, not the left, his first
general was General Lumley; Mr. Webb came out of Wiltshire, not out of
Yorkshire; and so forth. Esmond did not think fit to correct his old
master in these trifling blunders, but they served to give him a knowledge
of the other’s character, and he smiled to think that this was his oracle
of early days; only now no longer infallible or divine.

“Yes,” continues Father Holt, or Captain von Holtz, “for a man who has not
been in England these eight years, I know what goes on in London very
well. The old dean is dead, my Lady Castlewood’s father. Do you know that
your recusant bishops wanted to consecrate him Bishop of Southampton, and
that Collier is Bishop of Thetford by the same imposition? The Princess
Anne has the gout and eats too much; when the king returns, Collier will
be an archbishop.”

“Amen!” says Esmond, laughing; “and I hope to see your eminence no longer
in jack-boots, but red stockings, at Whitehall.”

“You are always with us—I know that—I heard of that when you were at
Cambridge; so was the late lord; so is the young viscount.”

“And so was my father before me,” said Mr. Esmond, looking calmly at the
other, who did not, however, show the least sign of intelligence in his
impenetrable grey eyes—how well Harry remembered them and their look! only
crows’ feet were wrinkled round them—marks of black old Time had settled
there.

Esmond’s face chose to show no more sign of meaning than the father’s.
There may have been on the one side and the other just the faintest
glitter of recognition, as you see a bayonet shining out of an ambush; but
each party fell back, when everything was again dark.

“And you, _mon capitaine_, where have you been?” says Esmond, turning away
the conversation from this dangerous ground, where neither chose to
engage.

“I may have been in Pekin,” says he, “or I may have been in Paraguay—who
knows where? I am now Captain von Holtz, in the service of his electoral
highness, come to negotiate exchange of prisoners with his highness of
Savoy.”

’Twas well known that very many officers in our army were well-affected
towards the young king at St. Germains, whose right to the throne was
undeniable, and whose accession to it, at the death of his sister, by far
the greater part of the English people would have preferred, to the having
a petty German prince for a sovereign, about whose cruelty, rapacity,
boorish manners, and odious foreign ways, a thousand stories were current.
It wounded our English pride to think, that a shabby High-Dutch duke,
whose revenues were not a tithe as great as those of many of the princes
of our ancient English nobility, who could not speak a word of our
language, and whom we chose to represent as a sort of German boor, feeding
on train-oil and sauerkraut, with a bevy of mistresses in a barn, should
come to reign over the proudest and most polished people in the world.
Were we, the conquerors of the Grand Monarch, to submit to that ignoble
domination? What did the Hanoverian’s Protestantism matter to us? Was it
not notorious (we were told and led to believe so) that one of the
daughters of this Protestant hero was being bred up with no religion at
all, as yet, and ready to be made Lutheran or Roman, according as the
husband might be, whom her parents should find for her? This talk, very
idle and abusive much of it was, went on at a hundred mess-tables in the
army; there was scarce an ensign that did not hear it, or join in it, and
everybody knew, or affected to know, that the commander-in-chief himself
had relations with his nephew, the Duke of Berwick (’twas by an
Englishman, thank God, that we were beaten at Almanza), and that his grace
was most anxious to restore the royal race of his benefactors, and to
repair his former treason.

This is certain, that for a considerable period no officer in the duke’s
army lost favour with the commander-in-chief for entertaining or
proclaiming his loyalty towards the exiled family. When the Chevalier de
St. George, as the King of England called himself, came with the dukes of
the French blood royal, to join the French army under Vendosme, hundreds
of ours saw him and cheered him, and we all said he was like his father in
this, who, seeing the action of La Hogue fought between the French ships
and ours, was on the side of his native country during the battle. But
this, at least the chevalier knew, and every one knew, that, however well
our troops and their general might be inclined towards the prince
personally, in the face of the enemy there was no question at all.
Wherever my lord duke found a French army, he would fight and beat it, as
he did at Oudenarde, two years after Ramillies, where his grace achieved
another of his transcendent victories; and the noble young prince, who
charged gallantly along with the magnificent Maison-du-Roy, sent to
compliment his conquerors after the action.

In this battle, where the young Electoral Prince of Hanover behaved
himself very gallantly, fighting on our side, Esmond’s dear General Webb
distinguished himself prodigiously, exhibiting consummate skill and
coolness as a general, and fighting with the personal bravery of a common
soldier. Esmond’s good luck again attended him; he escaped without a hurt,
although more than a third of his regiment was killed, had again the
honour to be favourably mentioned in his commander’s report, and was
advanced to the rank of major. But of this action there is little need to
speak, as it hath been related in every _Gazette_, and talked of in every
hamlet in this country. To return from it to the writer’s private affairs,
which here, in his old age, and at a distance, he narrates for his
children who come after him. Before Oudenarde, and after that chance
rencontre with Captain von Holtz at Brussels, a space of more than a year
elapsed, during which the captain of Jesuits and the captain of Webb’s
Fusiliers were thrown very much together. Esmond had no difficulty in
finding out (indeed, the other made no secret of it to him, being assured
from old times of his pupil’s fidelity), that the negotiator of prisoners
was an agent from St. Germains, and that he carried intelligence between
great personages in our camp and that of the French. “My business,” said
he, “and I tell you, both because I can trust you, and your keen eyes have
already discovered it, is between the King of England and his subjects,
here engaged in fighting the French king. As between you and them, all the
Jesuits in the world will not prevent your quarrelling: fight it out,
gentlemen. St. George for England, I say—and you know who says so,
wherever he may be.”

I think Holt loved to make a parade of mystery, as it were, and would
appear and disappear at our quarters as suddenly as he used to return and
vanish in the old days at Castlewood. He had passes between both armies,
and seemed to know (but with that inaccuracy which belonged to the good
father’s omniscience) equally well what passed in the French camp and in
ours. One day he would give Esmond news of a great _feste_ that took place
in the French quarters, of a supper of Monsieur de Rohan’s, where there
was play and violins, and then dancing and masques: the king drove thither
in Marshal Villar’s own guinguette. Another day he had the news of his
Majesty’s ague, the king had not had a fit these ten days, and might be
said to be well. Captain Holtz made a visit to England during this time,
so eager was he about negotiating prisoners; and ’twas on returning from
this voyage that he began to open himself more to Esmond, and to make him,
as occasion served, at their various meetings, several of those
confidences which are here set down all together.

The reason of his increased confidence was this: upon going to London, the
old director of Esmond’s aunt, the dowager, paid her ladyship a visit at
Chelsey, and there learnt from her that Captain Esmond was acquainted with
the secret of his family, and was determined never to divulge it. The
knowledge of this fact raised Esmond in his old tutor’s eyes, so Holt was
pleased to say, and he admired Harry very much for his abnegation.

“The family at Castlewood have done far more for me than my own ever did,”
Esmond said. “I would give my life for them. Why should I grudge the only
benefit that ’tis in my power to confer on them?” The good father’s eyes
filled with tears at this speech, which to the other seemed very simple:
he embraced Esmond, and broke out into many admiring expressions; he said
he was a _noble cœur_, that he was proud of him, and fond of him as his
pupil and friend—regretted more than ever that he had lost him, and been
forced to leave him in those early times, when he might have had an
influence over him, have brought him into that only true Church to which
the father belonged, and enlisted him in the noblest army in which a man
ever engaged—meaning his own Society of Jesus, which numbers (says he) in
its troops the greatest heroes the world ever knew;—warriors, brave enough
to dare or endure anything, to encounter any odds, to die any
death;—soldiers that have won triumphs a thousand times more brilliant
than those of the greatest general; that have brought nations on their
knees to their sacred banner, the Cross; that have achieved glories and
palms incomparably brighter than those awarded to the most splendid
earthly conquerors—crowns of immortal light, and seats in the high places
of Heaven.

Esmond was thankful for his old friend’s good opinion, however little he
might share the Jesuit father’s enthusiasm. “I have thought of that
question, too,” says he, “dear father,” and he took the other’s
hand—“thought it out for myself, as all men must, and contrive to do the
right, and trust to Heaven as devoutly in my way as you in yours. Another
six months of you as a child, and I had desired no better. I used to weep
upon my pillow at Castlewood as I thought of you, and I might have been a
brother of your order; and who knows,” Esmond added, with a smile, “a
priest in full orders, and with a pair of moustachios, and a Bavarian
uniform.”

“My son,” says Father Holt, turning red, “in the cause of religion and
loyalty all disguises are fair.”

“Yes,” broke in Esmond, “all disguises are fair, you say; and all
uniforms, say I, black or red,—a black cockade or a white one—or a laced
hat, or a sombrero, with a tonsure under it. I cannot believe that St.
Francis Xavier sailed over the sea in a cloak, or raised the dead—I tried;
and very nearly did once, but cannot. Suffer me to do the right, and to
hope for the best in my own way.”

Esmond wished to cut short the good father’s theology, and succeeded; and
the other, sighing over his pupil’s invincible ignorance, did not withdraw
his affection from him, but gave him his utmost confidence—as much, that
is to say, as a priest can give: more than most do; for he was naturally
garrulous, and too eager to speak.

Holt’s friendship encouraged Captain Esmond to ask, what he long wished to
know, and none could tell him, some history of the poor mother whom he had
often imagined in his dreams, and whom he never knew. He described to Holt
those circumstances which are already put down in the first part of this
story—the promise he had made to his dear lord, and that dying friend’s
confession; and he besought Mr. Holt to tell him what he knew regarding
the poor woman from whom he had been taken.

“She was of this very town,” Holt said, and took Esmond to see the street
where her father lived, and where, as he believed, she was born. “In 1676,
when your father came hither in the retinue of the late king, then Duke of
York, and banished hither in disgrace, Captain Thomas Esmond became
acquainted with your mother, pursued her, and made a victim of her; he
hath told me in many subsequent conversations, which I felt bound to keep
private then, that she was a woman of great virtue and tenderness, and in
all respects a most fond, faithful creature. He called himself Captain
Thomas, having good reason to be ashamed of his conduct towards her, and
hath spoken to me many times with sincere remorse for that, as with fond
love for her many amiable qualities. He owned to having treated her very
ill; and that at this time his life was one of profligacy, gambling, and
poverty. She became with child of you; was cursed by her own parents at
that discovery; though she never upbraided, except by her involuntary
tears, and the misery depicted on her countenance, the author of her
wretchedness and ruin.

“Thomas Esmond—Captain Thomas, as he was called—became engaged in a
gaming-house brawl, of which the consequence was a duel, and a wound so
severe that he never—his surgeon said—could outlive it. Thinking his death
certain, and touched with remorse, he sent for a priest of the very Church
of St. Gudule where I met you; and on the same day, after his making
submission to our Church, was married to your mother a few weeks before
you were born. My Lord Viscount Castlewood, Marquis of Esmond, by King
James’s patent, which I myself took to your father, your lordship was
christened at St. Gudule by the same curé who married your parents, and by
the name of Henry Thomas, son of E. Thomas, officier Anglais, and Gertrude
Maes. You see you belong to us from your birth, and why I did not christen
you when you became my dear little pupil at Castlewood.

“Your father’s wound took a favourable turn—perhaps his conscience was
eased by the right he had done—and to the surprise of the doctors he
recovered. But as his health came back, his wicked nature, too, returned.
He was tired of the poor girl, whom he had ruined; and receiving some
remittance from his uncle, my lord the old viscount then in England, he
pretended business, promised return, and never saw your poor mother more.

“He owned to me, in confession first, but afterwards in talk before your
aunt, his wife, else I never could have disclosed what I now tell you,
that on coming to London he writ a pretended confession to poor Gertrude
Maes—Gertrude Esmond—of his having been married in England previously,
before uniting himself with her; said that his name was not Thomas; that
he was about to quit Europe for the Virginia plantations, where, indeed,
your family had a grant of land from King Charles the First; sent her a
supply of money, the half of the last hundred guineas he had, entreated
her pardon, and bade her farewell.

“Poor Gertrude never thought that the news in this letter might be untrue
as the rest of your father’s conduct to her. But though a young man of her
own degree, who knew her history, and whom she liked before she saw the
English gentleman who was the cause of all her misery, offered to marry
her, and to adopt you as his own child, and give you his name, she refused
him. This refusal only angered her father, who had taken her home; she
never held up her head there, being the subject of constant unkindness
after her fall; and some devout ladies of her acquaintance offering to pay
a little pension for her, she went into a convent, and you were put out to
nurse.

“A sister of the young fellow, who would have adopted you as his son, was
the person who took charge of you. Your mother and this person were
cousins. She had just lost a child of her own, which you replaced, your
own mother being too sick and feeble to feed you; and presently your nurse
grew so fond of you, that she even grudged letting you visit the convent
where your mother was, and where the nuns petted the little infant, as
they pitied and loved its unhappy parent. Her vocation became stronger
every day, and at the end of two years she was received as a sister of the
house.

“Your nurse’s family were silk-weavers out of France, whither they
returned to Arras in French Flanders, shortly before your mother took her
vows, carrying you with them, then a child of three years old. ’Twas a
town, before the late vigorous measures of the French king, full of
Protestants, and here your nurse’s father, old Pastoureau, he with whom
you afterwards lived at Ealing, adopted the reformed doctrines, perverting
all his house with him. They were expelled thence by the edict of his most
Christian Majesty, and came to London, and set up their looms in
Spittlefields. The old man brought a little money with him, and carried on
his trade, but in a poor way. He was a widower; by this time his daughter,
a widow too, kept house for him, and his son and he laboured together at
their vocation. Meanwhile your father had publicly owned his conversion
just before King Charles’s death (in whom our Church had much such another
convert), was reconciled to my Lord Viscount Castlewood, and married, as
you know, to his daughter.

“It chanced that the younger Pastoureau, going with a piece of brocade to
the mercer, who employed him, on Ludgate Hill, met his old rival coming
out of an ordinary there. Pastoureau knew your father at once, seized him
by the collar, and upbraided him as a villain, who had seduced his
mistress, and afterwards deserted her and her son. Mr. Thomas Esmond also
recognized Pastoureau at once, besought him to calm his indignation, and
not to bring a crowd round about them; and bade him to enter into the
tavern, out of which he had just stepped, when he would give him any
explanation. Pastoureau entered, and heard the landlord order the drawer
to show Captain Thomas to a room; it was by his Christian name that your
father was familiarly called at his tavern haunts, which, to say the
truth, were none of the most reputable.

“I must tell you that Captain Thomas, or my lord viscount afterwards, was
never at a loss for a story, and could cajole a woman or a dun with a
volubility, and an air of simplicity at the same time, of which many a
creditor of his has been the dupe. His tales used to gather verisimilitude
as he went on with them. He strung together fact after fact with a
wonderful rapidity and coherence. It required, saving your presence, a
very long habit of acquaintance with your father to know when his lordship
was l——,—telling the truth or no.

“He told me with rueful remorse when he was ill—for the fear of death set
him instantly repenting, and with shrieks of laughter when he was well,
his lordship having a very great sense of humour—how in half an hour’s
time, and before a bottle was drunk, he had completely succeeded in biting
poor Pastoureau. The seduction he owned too: that he could not help: he
was quite ready with tears at a moment’s warning, and shed them profusely
to melt his credulous listener. He wept for your mother even more than
Pastoureau did, who cried very heartily, poor fellow, as my lord informed
me; he swore upon his honour that he had twice sent money to Brussels, and
mentioned the name of the merchant with whom it was lying for poor
Gertrude’s use. He did not even know whether she had a child or no, or
whether she was alive or dead; but got these facts easily out of honest
Pastoureau’s answers to him. When he heard that she was in a convent, he
said he hoped to end his days in one himself, should he survive his wife,
whom he hated, and had been forced by a cruel father to marry; and when he
was told that Gertrude’s son was alive, and actually in London, ‘I
started,’ says he; ‘for then, damme, my wife was expecting to lie-in, and
I thought should this old Put, my father-in-law, run rusty, here would be
a good chance to frighten him.’

“He expressed the deepest gratitude to the Pastoureau family for their
care of the infant; you were now near six years old; and on Pastoureau
bluntly telling him, when he proposed to go that instant and see the
darling child, that they never wished to see his ill-omened face again
within their doors; that he might have the boy, though they should all be
very sorry to lose him; and that they would take his money, they being
poor, if he gave it; or bring him up, by God’s help, as they had hitherto
done, without: he acquiesced in this at once, with a sigh, said, ‘Well,
’twas better that the dear child should remain with friends who had been
so admirably kind to him’; and in his talk to me afterwards, honestly
praised and admired the weaver’s conduct and spirit; owned that the
Frenchman was a right fellow, and he, the Lord have mercy upon him, a sad
villain.

“Your father,” Mr. Holt went on to say, “was good-natured with his money
when he had it; and having that day received a supply from his uncle, gave
the weaver ten pieces with perfect freedom, and promised him further
remittances. He took down eagerly Pastoureau’s name and place of abode in
his table-book, and when the other asked him for his own, gave, with the
utmost readiness, his name as Captain Thomas, New Lodge, Penzance,
Cornwall; he said he was in London for a few days only on business
connected with his wife’s property; described her as a shrew, though a
woman of kind disposition; and depicted his father as a Cornish squire, in
an infirm state of health, at whose death he hoped for something handsome,
when he promised richly to reward the admirable protector of his child,
and to provide for the boy. ‘And by Gad, sir,’ he said to me in his
strange laughing way, ‘I ordered a piece of brocade of the very same
pattern as that which the fellow was carrying, and presented it to my wife
for a morning wrapper, to receive company after she lay-in of our little
boy.’

“Your little pension was paid regularly enough; and when your father
became Viscount Castlewood on his uncle’s demise, I was employed to keep a
watch over you, and ’twas at my instance that you were brought home. Your
foster-mother was dead; her father made acquaintance with a woman whom he
married, who quarrelled with his son. The faithful creature came back to
Brussels to be near the woman he loved, and died, too, a few months before
her. Will you see her cross in the convent cemetery? The superior is an
old penitent of mine, and remembers Sœur Marie Madeleine fondly still.”

                  -------------------------------------

Esmond came to this spot in one sunny evening of spring, and saw, amidst a
thousand black crosses, casting their shadows across the grassy mounds,
that particular one which marked his mother’s resting-place. Many more of
those poor creatures that lay there had adopted that same name, with which
sorrow had rebaptized her, and which fondly seemed to hint their
individual story of love and grief. He fancied her in tears and darkness,
kneeling at the foot of her cross, under which her cares were buried.

Surely he knelt down, and said his own prayer there, not in sorrow so much
as in awe (for even his memory had no recollection of her), and in pity
for the pangs which the gentle soul in life had been made to suffer. To
this cross she brought them; for this heavenly bridegroom she exchanged
the husband who had wooed her, the traitor who had left her. A thousand
such hillocks lay round about, the gentle daisies springing out of the
grass over them, and each bearing its cross and requiescat. A nun, veiled
in black, was kneeling hard by, at a sleeping sister’s bedside (so fresh
made, that the spring had scarce had time to spin a coverlid for it);
beyond the cemetery walls you had glimpses of life and the world, and the
spires and gables of the city. A bird came down from a roof opposite, and
lit first on a cross, and then on the grass below it, whence it flew away
presently with a leaf in its mouth: then came a sound as of chanting, from
the chapel of the sisters hard by; others had long since filled the place,
which poor Mary Magdalene once had there, were kneeling at the same stall,
and hearing the same hymns and prayers in which her stricken heart had
found consolation. Might she sleep in peace—might she sleep in peace; and
we, too, when our struggles and pains are over! But the earth is the
Lord’s as the heaven is; we are alike His creatures here and yonder. I
took a little flower off the hillock, and kissed it, and went my way, like
the bird that had just lighted on the cross by me, back into the world
again. Silent receptacle of death! tranquil depth of calm, out of reach of
tempest and trouble! I felt as one who had been walking below the sea, and
treading amidst the bones of shipwrecks.



Chapter XIV. The Campaign Of 1707, 1708


During the whole of the year which succeeded that in which the glorious
battle of Ramillies had been fought, our army made no movement of
importance, much to the disgust of very many of our officers remaining
inactive in Flanders, who said that his grace the captain-general had had
fighting enough, and was all for money now, and the enjoyment of his five
thousand a year and his splendid palace at Woodstock, which was now being
built. And his grace had sufficient occupation fighting his enemies at
home this year, where it begun to be whispered that his favour was
decreasing, and his duchess losing her hold on the queen, who was
transferring her royal affections to the famous Mrs. Masham, and Mrs.
Masham’s humble servant, Mr. Harley. Against their intrigues, our duke
passed a great part of his time intriguing. Mr. Harley was got out of
office, and his grace, in so far, had a victory. But her Majesty,
convinced against her will, was of that opinion still, of which the poet
says people are when so convinced, and Mr. Harley before long had his
revenge.

Meanwhile the business of fighting did not go on any way to the
satisfaction of Marlborough’s gallant lieutenants. During all 1707, with
the French before us, we had never so much as a battle; our army in Spain
was utterly routed at Almanza by the gallant Duke of Berwick; and we of
Webb’s, which regiment the young duke had commanded before his father’s
abdication, were a little proud to think that it was our colonel who had
achieved this victory. “I think if I had had Galway’s place, and my
Fusiliers,” says our general, “we would not have laid down our arms, even
to our old colonel, as Galway did; and Webb’s officers swore if we had had
Webb, at least we would not have been taken prisoners.” Our dear old
general talked incautiously of himself and of others; a braver or a more
brilliant soldier never lived than he; but he blew his honest trumpet
rather more loudly than became a commander of his station, and, mighty man
of valour as he was, shook his great spear, and blustered before the army
too fiercely.

Mysterious Mr. Holtz went off on a secret expedition in the early part of
1708, with great elation of spirits, and a prophecy to Esmond that a
wonderful something was about to take place. This secret came out on my
friend’s return to the army, whither he brought a most rueful and dejected
countenance, and owned that the great something he had been engaged upon
had failed utterly. He had been indeed with that luckless expedition of
the Chevalier de St. George, who was sent by the French king with ships
and an army from Dunkirk, and was to have invaded and conquered Scotland.
But that ill wind which ever opposed all the projects upon which the
prince ever embarked, prevented the Chevalier’s invasion of Scotland, as
’tis known, and blew poor Monsieur von Holtz back into our camp again, to
scheme and foretell, and to pry about as usual. The Chevalier (the King of
England, as some of us held him) went from Dunkirk to the French army to
make the campaign against us. The Duke of Burgundy had the command this
year, having the Duke of Berry with him, and the famous Mareschal Vendosme
and the Duke of Matignon to aid him in the campaign. Holtz, who knew
everything that was passing in Flanders and France (and the Indies for
what I know), insisted that there would be no more fighting in 1708 than
there had been in the previous year, and that our commander had reasons
for keeping him quiet. Indeed, Esmond’s general, who was known as a
grumbler, and to have a hearty mistrust of the great duke, and hundreds
more officers besides, did not scruple to say that these private reasons
came to the duke in the shape of crown-pieces from the French king, by
whom the generalissimo was bribed to avoid a battle. There were plenty of
men in our lines, quidnuncs, to whom Mr. Webb listened only too willingly,
who could specify the exact sums the duke got, how much fell to Cadogan’s
share, and what was the precise fee given to Doctor Hare.

And the successes with which the French began the campaign of 1708, served
to give strength to these reports of treason, which were in everybody’s
mouth. Our general allowed the enemy to get between us and Ghent, and
declined to attack him, though for eight-and-forty hours the armies were
in presence of each other. Ghent was taken, and on the same day Monsieur
de la Mothe summoned Bruges; and these two great cities fell into the
hands of the French without firing a shot. A few days afterwards La Mothe
seized upon the fort of Plashendall: and it began to be supposed that all
Spanish Flanders, as well as Brabant, would fall into the hands of the
French troops; when the Prince Eugene arrived from the Mozelle, and then
there was no more shilly-shallying.

The Prince of Savoy always signalized his arrival at the army by a great
feast (my lord duke’s entertainments were both seldom and shabby): and I
remember our general returning from this dinner with the two
commanders-in-chief; his honest head a little excited by wine, which was
dealt out much more liberally by the Austrian than by the English
commander:—“Now,” says my general, slapping the table, with an oath, “he
must fight; and when he is forced to it, d—— it, no man in Europe can
stand up against Jack Churchill.” Within a week the battle of Oudenarde
was fought, when, hate each other as they might, Esmond’s general and the
commander-in-chief were forced to admire each other, so splendid was the
gallantry of each upon this day.

The brigade commanded by Major-General Webb gave and received about as
hard knocks as any that were delivered in that action, in which Mr. Esmond
had the fortune to serve at the head of his own company in his regiment,
under the command of their own colonel as major-general; and it was his
good luck to bring the regiment out of action as commander of it, the four
senior officers above him being killed in the prodigious slaughter which
happened on that day. I like to think that Jack Haythorn, who sneered at
me for being a bastard and a parasite of Webb’s, as he chose to call me,
and with whom I had had words, shook hands with me the day before the
battle begun. Three days before, poor Brace, our lieutenant-colonel, had
heard of his elder brother’s death, and was heir to a baronetcy in
Norfolk, and four thousand a year. Fate, that had left him harmless
through a dozen campaigns, seized on him just as the world was worth
living for, and he went into action, knowing, as he said, that the luck
was going to turn against him. The major had just joined us—a creature of
Lord Marlborough, put in much to the dislike of the other officers, and to
be a spy upon us, as it was said. I know not whether the truth was so, nor
who took the tattle of our mess to head quarters, but Webb’s regiment, as
its colonel, was known to be in the commander-in-chief’s black books: “And
if he did not dare to break it up at home,” our gallant old chief used to
say, “he was determined to destroy it before the enemy;” so that poor
Major Proudfoot was put into a post of danger.

Esmond’s dear young viscount, serving as aide de camp to my lord duke,
received a wound, and won an honourable name for himself in the _Gazette_;
and Captain Esmond’s name was sent in for promotion by his general, too,
whose favourite he was. It made his heart beat to think that certain eyes
at home, the brightest in the world, might read the page on which his
humble services were recorded; but his mind was made up steadily to keep
out of their dangerous influence, and to let time and absence conquer that
passion he had still lurking about him. Away from Beatrix, it did not
trouble him; but he knew as certain that if he returned home, his fever
would break out again, and avoided Walcote as a Lincolnshire man avoids
returning to his fens, where he is sure that the ague is lying in wait for
him.

We of the English party in the army, who were inclined to sneer at
everything that came out of Hanover, and to treat as little better than
boors and savages the Elector’s court and family, were yet forced to
confess that, on the day of Oudenarde, the young electoral prince, then
making his first campaign, conducted himself with the spirit and courage
of an approved soldier. On this occasion his electoral highness had better
luck than the King of England, who was with his cousins in the enemy’s
camp, and had to run with them at the ignominious end of the day. With the
most consummate generals in the world before them, and an admirable
commander on their own side, they chose to neglect the councils, and to
rush into a combat with the former, which would have ended in the utter
annihilation of their army but for the great skill and bravery of the Duke
of Vendosme, who remedied, as far as courage and genius might, the
disasters occasioned by the squabbles and follies of his kinsmen, the
legitimate princes of the blood royal.

“If the Duke of Berwick had but been in the army, the fate of the day
would have been very different,” was all that poor Mr. von Holtz could
say; “and you would have seen that the hero of Almanza was fit to measure
swords with the conqueror of Blenheim.”

The business relative to the exchange of prisoners was always going on,
and was at least that ostensible one which kept Mr. Holtz perpetually on
the move between the forces of the French and the Allies. I can answer for
it, that he was once very near hanged as a spy by Major-General Wayne,
when he was released and sent on to head quarters by a special order of
the commander-in-chief. He came and went, always favoured, wherever he
was, by some high though occult protection. He carried messages between
the Duke of Berwick and his uncle, our duke. He seemed to know as well
what was taking place in the prince’s quarter as our own: he brought the
compliments of the King of England to some of our officers, the gentlemen
of Webb’s among the rest, for their behaviour on that great day; and after
Wynendael, when our general was chafing at the neglect of our
commander-in-chief, he said he knew how that action was regarded by the
chiefs of the French army, and that the stand made before Wynendael wood
was the passage by which the Allies entered Lille.

“Ah!” says Holtz (and some folks were very willing to listen to him), “if
the king came by his own, how changed the conduct of affairs would be! His
Majesty’s very exile has this advantage, that he is enabled to read
England impartially, and to judge honestly of all the eminent men. His
sister is always in the hand of one greedy favourite or another, through
whose eyes she sees, and to whose flattery or dependants she gives away
everything. Do you suppose that his Majesty, knowing England so well as he
does, would neglect such a man as General Webb? He ought to be in the
House of Peers as Lord Lydiard. The enemy and all Europe know his merit;
it is that very reputation which certain great people, who hate all
equality and independence, can never pardon.” It was intended that these
conversations should be carried to Mr. Webb. They were welcome to him, for
great as his services were, no man could value them more than John
Richmond Webb did himself, and the differences between him and Marlborough
being notorious, his grace’s enemies in the army and at home began to
court Webb, and set him up against the all-grasping domineering chief. And
soon after the victory of Oudenarde, a glorious opportunity fell into
General Webb’s way, which that gallant warrior did not neglect, and which
gave him the means of immensely increasing his reputation at home.

After Oudenarde, and against the counsels of Marlborough, it was said, the
Prince of Savoy sat down before Lille, the capital of French Flanders, and
commenced that siege, the most celebrated of our time, and almost as
famous as the siege of Troy itself, for the feats of valour performed in
the assault and the defence. The enmity of that Prince of Savoy against
the French king was a furious personal hate, quite unlike the calm
hostility of our great English general, who was no more moved by the game
of war than that of billiards, and pushed forward his squadrons, and drove
his red battalions hither and thither as calmly as he would combine a
stroke or make a cannon with the balls. The game over (and he played it so
as to be pretty sure to win it), not the least animosity against the other
party remained in the breast of this consummate tactician. Whereas between
the Prince of Savoy and the French it was _guerre à mort_. Beaten off in
one quarter, as he had been at Toulon in the last year, he was back again
on another frontier of France, assailing it with his indefatigable fury.
When the prince came to the army, the smouldering fires of war were
lighted up and burst out into a flame. Our phlegmatic Dutch allies were
made to advance at a quick march—our calm duke forced into action. The
prince was an army in himself against the French; the energy of his hatred
prodigious, indefatigable—infectious over hundreds of thousands of men.
The emperor’s general was repaying, and with a vengeance, the slight the
French king had put upon the fiery little Abbé of Savoy. Brilliant and
famous as a leader himself, and beyond all measure daring and intrepid,
and enabled to cope with almost the best of those famous men of war who
commanded the armies of the French king, Eugene had a weapon, the equal of
which could not be found in France, since the cannon-shot of Sasbach laid
low the noble Turenne, and could hurl Marlborough at the heads of the
French host, and crush them as with a rock, under which all the gathered
strength of their strongest captains must go down.

The English duke took little part in that vast siege of Lille, which the
Imperial generalissimo pursued with all his force and vigour, further than
to cover the besieging lines from the Duke of Burgundy’s army, between
which and the Imperialists our duke lay. Once, when Prince Eugene was
wounded, our duke took his highness’s place in the trenches; but the siege
was with the Imperialists, not with us. A division under Webb and Rantzau
was detached into Artois and Picardy upon the most painful and odious
service that Mr. Esmond ever saw in the course of his military life. The
wretched towns of the defenceless provinces, whose young men had been
drafted away into the French armies, which year after year the insatiable
war devoured, were left at our mercy; and our orders were to show them
none. We found places garrisoned by invalids, and children and women: poor
as they were, and as the costs of this miserable war had made them, our
commission was to rob these almost starving wretches—to tear the food out
of their granaries, and strip them of their rags. ’Twas an expedition of
rapine and murder we were sent on: our soldiers did deeds such as an
honest man must blush to remember. We brought back money and provisions in
quantity to the duke’s camp; there had been no one to resist us, and yet
who dares to tell with what murder and violence, with what brutal cruelty,
outrage, insult, that ignoble booty had been ravished from the innocent
and miserable victims of the war?

Meanwhile, gallantly as the operations before Lille had been conducted,
the Allies had made but little progress, and ’twas said when we returned
to the Duke of Marlborough’s camp, that the siege would never be brought
to a satisfactory end, and that the Prince of Savoy would be forced to
raise it. My Lord Marlborough gave this as his opinion openly; those who
mistrusted him, and Mr. Esmond owns himself to be of the number, hinted
that the duke had his reasons why Lille should not be taken, and that he
was paid to that end by the French king. If this was so, and I believe it,
General Webb had now a remarkable opportunity of gratifying his hatred of
the commander-in-chief, of balking that shameful avarice, which was one of
the basest and most notorious qualities of the famous duke, and of showing
his own consummate skill as a commander. And when I consider all the
circumstances preceding the event which will now be related, that my lord
duke was actually offered certain millions of crowns provided that the
siege of Lille should be raised; that the Imperial army before it was
without provisions and ammunition, and must have decamped but for the
supplies that they received; that the march of the convoy destined to
relieve the siege was accurately known to the French; and that the force
covering it was shamefully inadequate to that end, and by six times
inferior to Count de la Mothe’s army, which was sent to intercept the
convoy; when ’tis certain that the Duke of Berwick, de la Mothe’s chief,
was in constant correspondence with his uncle, the English generalissimo:
I believe on my conscience that ’twas my Lord Marlborough’s intention to
prevent those supplies, of which the Prince of Savoy stood in absolute
need, from ever reaching his highness; that he meant to sacrifice the
little army which covered this convoy, and to betray it as he had betrayed
Tollemache at Brest; as he betrayed every friend he had, to further his
own schemes of avarice or ambition. But for the miraculous victory which
Esmond’s general won over an army six or seven times greater than his own,
the siege of Lille must have been raised; and it must be remembered that
our gallant little force was under the command of a general whom
Marlborough hated, that he was furious with the conqueror, and tried by
the most open and shameless injustice afterwards to rob him of the credit
of his victory.



Chapter XV. General Webb Wins The Battle Of Wynendael


By the besiegers and besieged of Lille, some of the most brilliant feats
of valour were performed that ever illustrated any war. On the French side
(whose gallantry was prodigious, the skill and bravery of Marshal
Boufflers actually eclipsing those of his conqueror, the Prince of Savoy)
may be mentioned that daring action of Messieurs de Luxembourg and
Tournefort, who, with a body of horse and dragoons, carried powder into
the town, of which the besieged were in extreme want, each soldier
bringing a bag with forty pounds of powder behind him; with which perilous
provision they engaged our own horse, faced the fire of the foot brought
out to meet them: and though half of the men were blown up in the dreadful
errand they rode on, a part of them got into the town with the succours of
which the garrison was so much in want. A French officer, Monsieur du
Bois, performed an act equally daring, and perfectly successful. The
duke’s great army lying at Helchin, and covering the siege, and it being
necessary for Monsieur de Vendosme to get news of the condition of the
place, Captain du Bois performed his famous exploit: not only passing
through the lines of the siege, but swimming afterwards no less than seven
moats and ditches: and coming back the same way, swimming with his letters
in his mouth.

By these letters Monsieur de Boufflers said that he could undertake to
hold the place till October; and that, if one of the convoys of the Allies
could be intercepted, they must raise the siege altogether.

Such a convoy as hath been said was now prepared at Ostend, and about to
march for the siege; and on the 27th September, we (and the French too)
had news that it was on its way. It was composed of 700 waggons,
containing ammunition of all sorts, and was escorted out of Ostend by
2,000 infantry and 300 horse. At the same time Monsieur de la Mothe
quitted Bruges, having with him five-and-thirty battalions, and upwards of
sixty squadrons and forty guns, in pursuit of the convoy.

Major-General Webb had meanwhile made up a force of twenty battalions, and
three squadrons of dragoons, at Turout, whence he moved to cover the
convoy and pursue la Mothe: with whose advanced guard ours came up upon
the great plain of Turout, and before the little wood and castle of
Wynendael; behind which the convoy was marching.

As soon as they came in sight of the enemy, our advanced troops were
halted, with the wood behind them, and the rest of our force brought up as
quickly as possible, our little body of horse being brought forward to the
opening of the plain, as our general said, to amuse the enemy. When
Monsieur la Mothe came up he found us posted in two lines in front of the
wood; and formed his own army in battle facing ours, in eight lines, four
of infantry in front, and dragoons and cavalry behind.

The French began the action, as usual, with a cannonade which lasted three
hours, when they made their attack, advancing in twelve lines, four of
foot and four of horse, upon the allied troops in the wood where we were
posted. Their infantry behaved ill; they were ordered to charge with the
bayonet, but, instead, began to fire, and almost at the very first
discharge from our men, broke and fled. The cavalry behaved better; with
these alone, who were three or four times as numerous as our whole force,
Monsieur de la Mothe might have won victory: but only two of our
battalions were shaken in the least; and these speedily rallied: nor could
the repeated attacks of the French horse cause our troops to budge an inch
from the position in the wood in which our general had placed them.

After attacking for two hours, the French retired at night-fall entirely
foiled. With all the loss we had inflicted upon him, the enemy was still
three times stronger than we: and it could not be supposed that our
general could pursue M. de la Mothe, or do much more than hold our ground
about the wood, from which the Frenchman had in vain attempted to dislodge
us. La Mothe retired behind his forty guns, his cavalry protecting them
better than it had been enabled to annoy us; and meanwhile the convoy,
which was of more importance than all our little force, and the safe
passage of which we would have dropped to the last man to accomplish,
marched away in perfect safety during the action, and joyfully reached the
besieging camp before Lille.

Major-General Cadogan, my lord duke’s quartermaster-general (and between
whom and Mr. Webb there was no love lost), accompanied the convoy, and
joined Mr. Webb with a couple of hundred horse just as the battle was
over, and the enemy in full retreat. He offered, readily enough, to charge
with his horse upon the French as they fell back; but his force was too
weak to inflict any damage upon them; and Mr. Webb, commanding as
Cadogan’s senior, thought enough was done in holding our ground before an
enemy that might still have overwhelmed us had we engaged him in the open
territory, and in securing the safe passage of the convoy. Accordingly,
the horse brought up by Cadogan did not draw a sword; and only prevented,
by the good countenance they showed, any disposition the French might have
had to renew the attack on us. And no attack coming, at nightfall General
Cadogan drew off with his squadron, being bound for head quarters, the two
generals at parting grimly saluting each other.

“He will be at Roncq time enough to lick my lord duke’s trenchers at
supper,” says Mr. Webb.

Our own men lay out in the woods of Wynendael that night, and our general
had his supper in the little castle there.

“If I was Cadogan, I would have a peerage for this day’s work,” General
Webb said; “and Harry, thou shouldst have a regiment. Thou hast been
reported in the last two actions: thou wert near killed in the first. I
shall mention thee in my dispatch to his grace the commander-in-chief, and
recommend thee to poor Dick Harwood’s vacant majority. Have you ever a
hundred guineas to give Cardonnel? Slip them into his hand to-morrow, when
you go to head quarters with my report.”

In this report the major-general was good enough to mention Captain
Esmond’s name with particular favour; and that gentleman carried the
dispatch to head quarters the next day, and was not a little pleased to
bring back a letter by his grace’s secretary, addressed to
Lieutenant-General Webb. The Dutch officer dispatched by Count Nassau
Woudenbourg, Vælt-Mareschal Auverquerque’s son, brought back also a
complimentary letter to his commander, who had seconded Mr. Webb in the
action with great valour and skill.

Esmond, with a low bow and a smiling face, presented his dispatch, and
saluted Mr. Webb as Lieutenant-General, as he gave it in. The gentlemen
round about him—he was riding with his suite on the road to Menin as
Esmond came up with him—gave a cheer, and he thanked them, and opened the
dispatch with rather a flushed eager face.

He slapped it down on his boot in a rage after he had read it. “’Tis not
even writ with his own hand. Read it out, Esmond.” And Esmond read it
out:—


    “Sir—Mr. Cadogan is just now come in, and has acquainted me with
    the success of the action you had yesterday in the afternoon
    against the body of troops commanded by Monsieur de la Mothe, at
    Wynendael, which must be attributed chiefly to your good conduct
    and resolution. You may be sure I shall do you justice at home,
    and be glad on all occasions to own the service you have done in
    securing this convoy.—Yours, &c., M.”


“Two lines by that d——d Cardonnel, and no more, for the taking of
Lille—for beating five times our number—for an action as brilliant as the
best he ever fought,” says poor Mr. Webb. “Lieutenant-General! That’s not
his doing. I was the oldest major-general. By ——, I believe he had been
better pleased if I had been beat.”

The letter to the Dutch officer was in French, and longer and more
complimentary than that to Mr. Webb.

“And this is the man,” he broke out, “that’s gorged with gold—that’s
covered with titles and honours that we won for him—and that grudges even
a line of praise to a comrade in arms! Hasn’t he enough? Don’t we fight
that he may roll in riches? Well, well, wait for the _Gazette_, gentlemen.
The queen and the country will do us justice if his grace denies it us.”
There were tears of rage in the brave warrior’s eyes as he spoke; and he
dashed them off his face on to his glove. He shook his fist in the air.
“Oh, by the Lord!” says he, “I know what I had rather have than a
peerage!”

“And what is that, sir?” some of them asked.

“I had rather have a quarter of an hour with John Churchill, on a fair
green field, and only a pair of rapiers between my shirt and his ——”

“Sir!” interposes one.

“Tell him so! I know that’s what you mean. I know every word goes to him
that’s dropped from every general officer’s mouth. I don’t say he’s not
brave. Curse him! he’s brave enough; but we’ll wait for the _Gazette_,
gentlemen. God save her Majesty! she’ll do us justice.”

The _Gazette_ did not come to us till a month afterwards; when my general
and his officers had the honour to dine with Prince Eugene in Lille; his
highness being good enough to say that we had brought the provisions, and
ought to share in the banquet. ’Twas a great banquet. His grace of
Marlborough was on his highness’s right, and on his left the Mareschal de
Boufflers, who had so bravely defended the place. The chief officers of
either army were present; and you may be sure Esmond’s general was
splendid this day: his tall noble person, and manly beauty of face, made
him remarkable anywhere; he wore, for the first time, the star of the
Order of Generosity, that his Prussian Majesty had sent to him for his
victory. His Highness, the Prince of Savoy, called a toast to the
conqueror of Wynendael. My lord duke drank it with rather a sickly smile.
The aides de camp were present; and Harry Esmond and his dear young lord
were together, as they always strove to be when duty would permit: they
were over against the table where the generals were, and could see all
that passed pretty well. Frank laughed at my lord duke’s glum face: the
affair of Wynendael, and the captain-general’s conduct to Webb, had been
the talk of the whole army. When his highness spoke, and gave—“_Le
vainqueur de Wynendael; son armée et sa victoire_,” adding, “_qui nous
font diner à Lille aujourdhuy_”—there was a great cheer through the hall;
for Mr. Webb’s bravery, generosity, and very weaknesses of character
caused him to be beloved in the army.

“Like Hector, handsome, and like Paris, brave!” whispers Frank Castlewood.
“A Venus, an elderly Venus, couldn’t refuse him a pippin. Stand up, Harry.
See, we are drinking the army of Wynendael. Ramillies is nothing to it.
Huzzay! Huzzay!”

At this very time, and just after our general had made his
acknowledgement, some one brought in an English _Gazette_—and was passing
it from hand to hand down the table. Officers were eager enough to read
it; mothers and sisters at home must have sickened over it. There scarce
came out a _Gazette_ for six years that did not tell of some heroic death
or some brilliant achievement.

“Here it is—Action of Wynendael—here you are, general,” says Frank,
seizing hold of the little dingy paper that soldiers love to read so; and,
scrambling over from our bench, he went to where the general sat, who knew
him, and had seen many a time at his table his laughing, handsome face,
which everybody loved who saw. The generals in their great perukes made
way for him. He handed the paper over General Dohna’s buff coat to our
general on the opposite side.

He came hobbling back, and blushing at his feat: “I thought he’d like it,
Harry,” the young fellow whispered. “Didn’t I like to read my name after
Ramillies, in the _London Gazette_?—Viscount Castlewood serving a
volunteer—I say, what’s yonder?”

Mr. Webb, reading the _Gazette_, looked very strange—slapped it down on
the table—then sprung up in his place, and began,—“Will your highness
please to ——”

His grace the Duke of Marlborough here jumped up too—“There’s some
mistake, my dear General Webb.”

“Your grace had better rectify it,” says Mr. Webb, holding out the letter;
but he was five off his grace the prince duke, who, besides, was higher
than the general (being seated with the Prince of Savoy, the Electoral
Prince of Hanover, and the envoys of Prussia and Denmark, under a
baldaquin), and Webb could not reach him, tall as he was.

“Stay,” says he, with a smile, as if catching at some idea, and then, with
a perfect courtesy, drawing his sword, he ran the _Gazette_ through with
the point, and said, “Permit me to hand it to your grace.”

The duke looked very black. “Take it,” says he, to his master of the
horse, who was waiting behind him.

The lieutenant-general made a very low bow, and retired and finished his
glass. The _Gazette_ in which Mr. Cardonnel, the duke’s secretary, gave an
account of the victory of Wynendael, mentioned Mr. Webb’s name, but gave
the sole praise and conduct of the action to the duke’s favourite, Mr.
Cadogan.

There was no little talk and excitement occasioned by this strange
behaviour of General Webb, who had almost drawn a sword upon the
commander-in-chief; but the general, after the first outbreak of his
anger, mastered it outwardly altogether; and, by his subsequent behaviour,
had the satisfaction of even more angering the commander-in-chief, than he
could have done by any public exhibition of resentment.

On returning to his quarters, and consulting with his chief adviser, Mr.
Esmond, who was now entirely in the general’s confidence, and treated by
him as a friend, and almost a son, Mr. Webb writ a letter to his grace the
commander-in-chief, in which he said:—


    Your grace must be aware that the sudden perusal of the _London
    Gazette_, in which your grace’s secretary, Mr. Cardonnel, hath
    mentioned Major-General Cadogan’s name, as the officer commanding
    in the late action of Wynendael, must have caused a feeling of
    anything but pleasure to the general who fought that action.

    Your grace must be aware that Mr. Cadogan was not even present at
    the battle, though he arrived with squadrons of horse at its
    close, and put himself under the command of his superior officer.
    And as the result of the battle of Wynendael, in which
    Lieutenant-General Webb had the good fortune to command, was the
    capture of Lille, the relief of Brussels, then invested by the
    enemy under the Elector of Bavaria, the restoration of the great
    cities of Ghent and Bruges, of which the enemy (by treason within
    the walls) had got possession in the previous year: Mr. Webb
    cannot consent to forgo the honours of such a success and service,
    for the benefit of Mr. Cadogan, or any other person.

    As soon as the military operations of the year are over,
    Lieutenant-General Webb will request permission to leave the army,
    and return to his place in Parliament, where he gives notice to
    his grace the commander-in-chief, that he shall lay his case
    before the House of Commons, the country, and her majesty the
    queen.

    By his eagerness to rectify that false statement of the _Gazette_,
    which had been written by his grace’s secretary, Mr. Cardonnel,
    Mr. Webb, not being able to reach his grace the commander-in-chief
    on account of the gentlemen seated between them, placed the paper
    containing the false statement on his sword, so that it might more
    readily arrive in the hands of his Grace the Duke of Marlborough,
    who surely would wish to do justice to every officer of his army.

    Mr. Webb knows his duty too well to think of insubordination to
    his superior officer, or of using his sword in a campaign against
    any but the enemies of her majesty. He solicits permission to
    return to England immediately the military duties will permit, and
    take with him to England Captain Esmond, of his regiment, who
    acted as his aide de camp, and was present during the entire
    action, and noted by his watch the time when Mr. Cadogan arrived
    at its close.


The commander-in-chief could not but grant this permission, nor could he
take notice of Webb’s letter, though it was couched in terms the most
insulting. Half the army believed that the cities of Ghent and Bruges were
given up by a treason, which some in our army very well understood; that
the commander-in-chief would not have relieved Lille if he could have
helped himself; that he would not have fought that year had not the Prince
of Savoy forced him. When the battle once began, then, for his own renown,
my Lord Marlborough would fight as no man in the world ever fought better;
and no bribe on earth could keep him from beating the enemy.(11)

But the matter was taken up by the subordinates; and half the army might
have been by the ears, if the quarrel had not been stopped. General
Cadogan sent an intimation to General Webb to say that he was ready if
Webb liked, and would meet him. This was a kind of invitation our stout
old general was always too ready to accept, and ’twas with great
difficulty we got the general to reply that he had no quarrel with Mr.
Cadogan, who had behaved with perfect gallantry, but only with those at
head quarters, who had belied him. Mr. Cardonnel offered General Webb
reparation; Mr. Webb said he had a cane at the service of Mr. Cardonnel,
and the only satisfaction he wanted from him was one he was not likely to
get, namely, the truth. The officers in our staff of Webb’s, and those in
the immediate suite of the general, were ready to come to blows; and hence
arose the only affair in which Mr. Esmond ever engaged as principal, and
that was from a revengeful wish to wipe off an old injury.

My Lord Mohun, who had a troop in Lord Macclesfield’s regiment of the
Horse Guards, rode this campaign with the duke. He had sunk by this time
to the very worst reputation; he had had another fatal duel in Spain; he
had married, and forsaken his wife; he was a gambler, a profligate, and
debauchee. He joined just before Oudenarde; and, as Esmond feared, as soon
as Frank Castlewood heard of his arrival, Frank was for seeking him out,
and killing him. The wound my lord got at Oudenarde prevented their
meeting, but that was nearly healed, and Mr. Esmond trembled daily lest
any chance should bring his boy and this known assassin together. They met
at the mess-table of Handyside’s regiment at Lille; the officer commanding
not knowing of the feud between the two noblemen.

Esmond had not seen the hateful handsome face of Mohun for nine years,
since they had met on that fatal night in Leicester Field. It was degraded
with crime and passion now; it wore the anxious look of a man who has
three deaths—and who knows how many hidden shames and lusts, and crimes,
on his conscience. He bowed with a sickly low bow, and slunk away when our
host presented us round to one another. Frank Castlewood had not known him
till then, so changed was he. He knew the boy well enough.

’Twas curious to look at the two—especially the young man, whose face
flushed up when he heard the hated name of the other; and who said in his
bad French and his brave boyish voice—“He had long been anxious to meet my
Lord Mohun.” The other only bowed, and moved away from him. I do him
justice, he wished to have no quarrel with the lad.

Esmond put himself between them at table. “D—— it,” says Frank, “why do
you put yourself in the place of a man who is above you in degree? My Lord
Mohun should walk after me. I want to sit by my Lord Mohun.”

Esmond whispered to Lord Mohun, that Frank was hurt in the leg at
Oudenarde; and besought the other to be quiet. Quiet enough he was for
some time; disregarding the many taunts which young Castlewood flung at
him, until after several healths, when my Lord Mohun got to be rather in
liquor.

“Will you go away, my lord?” Mr. Esmond said to him, imploring him to quit
the table.

“No, by G——,” says my Lord Mohun. “I’ll not go away for any man;” he was
quite flushed with wine by this time.

The talk got round to the affairs of yesterday. Webb had offered to
challenge the commander-in-chief: Webb had been ill-used: Webb was the
bravest, handsomest, vainest man in the army. Lord Mohun did not know that
Esmond was Webb’s aide de camp. He began to tell some stories against the
general; which, from t’other side of Esmond, young Castlewood
contradicted.

“I can’t bear any more of this,” says my Lord Mohun.

“Nor can I, my lord,” says Mr. Esmond, starting up. “The story my Lord
Mohun has told respecting General Webb is false, gentlemen—false, I
repeat,” and making a low bow to Lord Mohun, and without a single word
more, Esmond got up and left the dining-room. These affairs were common
enough among the military of those days. There was a garden behind the
house, and all the party turned instantly into it; and the two gentlemen’s
coats were off and their points engaged within two minutes after Esmond’s
words had been spoken. If Captain Esmond had put Mohun out of the world,
as he might, a villain would have been punished and spared further
villanies—but who is one man to punish another? I declare upon my honour
that my only thought was to prevent Lord Mohun from mischief with Frank,
and the end of this meeting was, that after half a dozen passes my lord
went home with a hurt which prevented him from lifting his right arm for
three months.

“Oh, Harry, why didn’t you kill the villain?” young Castlewood asked. “I
can’t walk without a crutch: but I could have met him on horseback with
sword and pistol.” But Harry Esmond said, “’Twas best to have no man’s
life on one’s conscience, not even that villain’s”; and this affair, which
did not occupy three minutes, being over, the gentlemen went back to their
wine, and my Lord Mohun to his quarters, where he was laid up with a fever
which had spared mischief had it proved fatal. And very soon after this
affair Harry Esmond and his general left the camp for London; whither a
certain reputation had preceded the captain, for my Lady Castlewood of
Chelsea received him as if he had been a conquering hero. She gave a great
dinner to Mr. Webb, where the general’s chair was crowned with laurels;
and her ladyship called Esmond’s health in a toast, to which my kind
general was graciously pleased to bear the strongest testimony: and took
down a mob of at least forty coaches to cheer our general as he came out
of the House of Commons, the day when he received the thanks of Parliament
for his action. The mob huzza’ed and applauded him, as well as the fine
company: it was splendid to see him waving his hat, and bowing, and laying
his hand upon his Order of Generosity. He introduced Mr. Esmond to Mr. St.
John and the Right Honourable Robert Harley, Esquire, as he came out of
the House walking between them; and was pleased to make many flattering
observations regarding Mr. Esmond’s behaviour during the three last
campaigns.

Mr. St. John (who had the most winning presence of any man I ever saw,
excepting always my peerless young Frank Castlewood) said he had heard of
Mr. Esmond before from Captain Steele, and how he had helped Mr. Addison
to write his famous poem of the _Campaign_.

“’Twas as great an achievement as the victory of Blenheim itself,” Mr.
Harley said, who was famous as a judge and patron of letters, and so,
perhaps, it may be—though for my part I think there are twenty beautiful
lines, but all the rest is commonplace, and Mr. Addison’s hymn worth a
thousand such poems.

All the town was indignant at my lord duke’s unjust treatment of General
Webb, and applauded the vote of thanks which the House of Commons gave to
the general for his victory at Wynendael. ’Tis certain that the capture of
Lille was the consequence of that lucky achievement, and the humiliation
of the old French king, who was said to suffer more at the loss of this
great city, than from any of the former victories our troops had won over
him. And, I think, no small part of Mr. Webb’s exultation at his victory,
arose from the idea that Marlborough had been disappointed of a great
bribe the French king had promised him, should the siege be raised. The
very sum of money offered to him was mentioned by the duke’s enemies; and
honest Mr. Webb chuckled at the notion, not only of beating the French,
but of beating Marlborough too, and intercepting a convoy of three
millions of French crowns, that were on their way to the generalissimo’s
insatiable pockets. When the general’s lady went to the queen’s
drawing-room, all the Tory women crowded round her with congratulations,
and made her a train greater than the Duchess of Marlborough’s own. Feasts
were given to the general by all the chiefs of the Tory party, who vaunted
him as the duke’s equal in military skill; and perhaps used the worthy
soldier as their instrument, whilst he thought they were but acknowledging
his merits as a commander. As the general’s aide de camp, and favourite
officer, Mr. Esmond came in for a share of his chief’s popularity, and was
presented to her Majesty, and advanced to the rank of lieutenant-colonel,
at the request of his grateful chief.

We may be sure there was one family in which any good fortune that
happened to Esmond, caused such a sincere pride and pleasure, that he, for
his part, was thankful he could make them so happy. With these fond
friends, Blenheim and Oudenarde seemed to be mere trifling incidents of
the war; and Wynendael was its crowning victory. Esmond’s mistress never
tired to hear accounts of the battle; and I think General Webb’s lady grew
jealous of her, for the general was for ever at Kensington, and talking on
that delightful theme. As for his aide de camp, though, no doubt, Esmond’s
own natural vanity was pleased at the little share of reputation which his
good fortune had won him, yet it was chiefly precious to him (he may say
so, now that he hath long since outlived it) because it pleased his
mistress, and, above all, because Beatrix valued it.

As for the old dowager of Chelsea, never was an old woman in all England
more delighted nor more gracious than she. Esmond had his quarters in her
ladyship’s house, where the domestics were instructed to consider him as
their master. She bade him give entertainments, of which she defrayed the
charges, and was charmed when his guests were carried away tipsy in their
coaches. She must have his picture taken; and accordingly he was painted
by Mr. Jervas, in his red coat, and smiling upon a bombshell, which was
bursting at the corner of the piece. She vowed that unless he made a great
match, she should never die easy, and was for ever bringing young ladies
to Chelsea, with pretty faces and pretty fortunes, at the disposal of the
colonel. He smiled to think how times were altered with him, and of the
early days in his father’s lifetime, when a trembling page he stood before
her, with her ladyship’s basin and ewer, or crouched in her coach-step.
The only fault she found with him was, that he was more sober than an
Esmond ought to be; and would neither be carried to bed by his valet, nor
lose his heart to any beauty, whether of St. James’s or Covent Garden.

What is the meaning of fidelity in love, and whence the birth of it? ’Tis
a state of mind that men fall into, and depending on the man rather than
the woman. We love being in love, that’s the truth on’t. If we had not met
Joan, we should have met Kate, and adored her. We know our mistresses are
no better than many other women, nor no prettier, nor no wiser, nor no
wittier. ’Tis not for these reasons we love a woman, or for any special
quality or charm I know of; we might as well demand that a lady should be
the tallest woman in the world, like the Shropshire giantess,(12) as that
she should be a paragon in any other character, before we began to love
her. Esmond’s mistress had a thousand faults beside her charms: he knew
both perfectly well! She was imperious, she was light-minded, she was
flighty, she was false, she had no reverence in her character; she was in
everything, even in beauty, the contrast of her mother, who was the most
devoted and the least selfish of women. Well, from the very first moment
he saw her on the stairs at Walcote, Esmond knew he loved Beatrix. There
might be better women—he wanted that one. He cared for none other. Was it
because she was gloriously beautiful? Beautiful as she was, he had heard
people say a score of times in their company, that Beatrix’s mother looked
as young, and was the handsomer of the two. Why did her voice thrill in
his ear so? She could not sing near so well as Nicolini or Mrs. Tofts;
nay, she sang out of tune, and yet he liked to hear her better than St.
Cecilia. She had not a finer complexion than Mrs. Steele (Dick’s wife,
whom he had now got, and who ruled poor Dick with a rod of pickle), and
yet to see her dazzled Esmond; he would shut his eyes, and the thought of
her dazzled him all the same. She was brilliant and lively in talk, but
not so incomparably witty as her mother, who, when she was cheerful, said
the finest things; but yet to hear her, and to be with her, was Esmond’s
greatest pleasure. Days passed away between him and these ladies, he
scarce knew how. He poured his heart out to them, so as he never could in
any other company, where he hath generally passed for being moody, or
supercilious and silent. This society(13) was more delightful than that of
the greatest wits to him. May Heaven pardon him the lies he told the
dowager at Chelsea, in order to get a pretext for going away to
Kensington; the business at the Ordnance which he invented; the interview
with his general, the courts and statesman’s levees which he _didn’t_
frequent and describe; who wore a new suit on Sunday at St. James’s or at
the queen’s birthday; how many coaches filled the street at Mr. Harley’s
levee; how many bottles he had had the honour to drink overnight with Mr.
St. John at the “Cocoa Tree,” or at the “Garter” with Mr. Walpole and Mr.
Steele.

Mistress Beatrix Esmond had been a dozen times on the point of making
great matches, so the Court scandal said; but for his part Esmond never
would believe the stories against her; and came back, after three years’
absence from her, not so frantic as he had been perhaps, but still
hungering after her and no other; still hopeful, still kneeling, with his
heart in his hand for the young lady to take. We were now got to 1709. She
was near twenty-two years old, and three years at Court, and without a
husband.

“’Tis not for want of being asked,” Lady Castlewood said, looking into
Esmond’s heart, as she could, with that perceptiveness affection gives.
“But she will make no mean match, Harry: she will not marry as I would
have her; the person whom I should like to call my son, and Henry Esmond
knows who that is, is best served by my not pressing his claim. Beatrix is
so wilful, that what I would urge on her, she would be sure to resist. The
man who would marry her will not be happy with her, unless he be a great
person, and can put her in a great position. Beatrix loves admiration more
than love; and longs, beyond all things, for command. Why should a mother
speak so of her child? You are my son, too, Harry. You should know the
truth about your sister. I thought you might cure yourself of your
passion,” my lady added fondly. “Other people can cure themselves of that
folly, you know. But I see you are still as infatuated as ever. When we
read your name in the _Gazette_, I pleaded for you, my poor boy. Poor boy,
indeed! You are growing a grave old gentleman now, and I am an old woman.
She likes your fame well enough, and she likes your person. She says you
have wit, and fire, and good breeding, and are more natural than the fine
gentlemen of the Court. But this is not enough. She wants a
commander-in-chief, and not a colonel. Were a duke to ask her, she would
leave an earl whom she had promised. I told you so before. I know not how
my poor girl is so worldly.”

“Well,” says Esmond, “a man can but give his best and his all. She has
that from me. What little reputation I have won, I swear I cared for it
because I thought Beatrix would be pleased with it. What care I to be a
colonel or a general? Think you ’twill matter a few score years hence,
what our foolish honours to-day are? I would have had a little fame, that
she might wear it in her hat. If I had anything better, I would endow her
with it. If she wants my life, I would give it her. If she marries
another, I will say God bless him. I make no boast, nor no complaint. I
think my fidelity is folly, perhaps. But so it is. I cannot help myself. I
love her. You are a thousand times better: the fondest, the fairest, the
dearest, of women. Sure, my dear lady, I see all Beatrix’s faults as well
as you do. But she is my fate. ’Tis endurable. I shall not die for not
having her. I think I should be no happier if I won her. _Que
voulez-vous?_ as my lady of Chelsea would say. _Je l’aime_.”

“I wish she would have you,” said Harry’s fond mistress, giving a hand to
him. He kissed the fair hand (’twas the prettiest dimpled little hand in
the world, and my Lady Castlewood, though now almost forty years old, did
not look to be within ten years of her age). He kissed and kept her fair
hand, as they talked together.

“Why,” says he, “should she hear me? She knows what I would say. Far or
near, she knows I’m her slave. I have sold myself for nothing, it may be.
Well, ’tis the price I choose to take. I am worth nothing, or I am worth
all.”

“You are such a treasure,” Esmond’s mistress was pleased to say, “that the
woman who has your love, shouldn’t change it away against a kingdom, I
think. I am a country-bred woman, and cannot say but the ambitions of the
town seem mean to me. I never was awe-stricken by my lady duchess’s rank
and finery, or afraid,” she added, with a sly laugh, “of anything but her
temper. I hear of Court ladies who pine because her Majesty looks cold on
them; and great noblemen who would give a limb that they might wear a
garter on the other. This worldliness, which I can’t comprehend, was born
with Beatrix, who, on the first day of her waiting, was a perfect
courtier. We are like sisters, and she the eldest sister, somehow. She
tells me I have a mean spirit. I laugh, and say she adores a
coach-and-six. I cannot reason her out of her ambition. ’Tis natural to
her, as to me to love quiet, and be indifferent about rank and riches.
What are they, Harry? and for how long do they last? Our home is not
here.” She smiled as she spoke, and looked like an angel that was only on
earth on a visit. “Our home is where the just are, and where our sins and
sorrows enter not. My father used to rebuke me, and say that I was too
hopeful about Heaven. But I cannot help my nature, and grow obstinate as I
grow to be an old woman; and as I love my children so, sure our Father
loves us with a thousand and a thousand times greater love. It must be
that we shall meet yonder, and be happy. Yes, you—and my children, and my
dear lord. Do you know, Harry, since his death, it has always seemed to me
as if his love came back to me, and that we are parted no more. Perhaps he
is here now, Harry—I think he is. Forgiven I am sure he is: even Mr.
Atterbury absolved him, and he died forgiving. Oh, what a noble heart he
had! How generous he was! I was but fifteen, and a child when he married
me. How good he was to stoop to me! He was always good to the poor and
humble.” She stopped, then presently, with a peculiar expression, as if
her eyes were looking into Heaven, and saw my lord there, she smiled, and
gave a little laugh. “I laugh to see you, sir,” she says; “when you come,
it seems as if you never were away.” One may put her words down, and
remember them, but how describe her sweet tones, sweeter than music.

My young lord did not come home at the end of the campaign, and wrote that
he was kept at Bruxelles on military duty. Indeed, I believe he was
engaged in laying siege to a certain lady, who was of the suite of Madame
de Soissons, the Prince of Savoy’s mother, who was just dead, and who,
like the Flemish fortresses, was taken and retaken a great number of times
during the war, and occupied by French, English, and Imperialists. Of
course, Mr. Esmond did not think fit to enlighten Lady Castlewood
regarding the young scapegrace’s doings: nor had he said a word about the
affair with Lord Mohun, knowing how abhorrent that man’s name was to his
mistress. Frank did not waste much time or money on pen and ink; and, when
Harry came home with his general, only writ two lines to his mother, to
say his wound in the leg was almost healed, that he would keep his coming
of age next year—that the duty aforesaid would keep him at Bruxelles, and
that Cousin Harry would tell all the news.

But from Bruxelles, knowing how the Lady Castlewood always liked to have a
letter about the famous 29th of December, my lord writ her a long and full
one, and in this he must have described the affair with Mohun; for when
Mr. Esmond came to visit his mistress one day, early in the new year, to
his great wonderment, she and her daughter both came up and saluted him,
and after them the dowager of Chelsea, too, whose chairman had just
brought her ladyship from her village to Kensington across the fields.
After this honour, I say, from the two ladies of Castlewood, the dowager
came forward in great state, with her grand tall head-dress of King
James’s reign, that she never forsook, and said, “Cousin Henry, all our
family have met; and we thank you, cousin, for your noble conduct towards
the head of our house.” And pointing to her blushing cheek, she made Mr.
Esmond aware that he was to enjoy the rapture of an embrace there. Having
saluted one cheek, she turned to him the other. “Cousin Harry,” said both
the other ladies, in a little chorus, “we thank you for your noble
conduct;” and then Harry became aware that the story of the Lille affair
had come to his kinswomen’s ears. It pleased him to hear them all saluting
him as one of their family.

The tables of the dining-room were laid for a great entertainment; and the
ladies were in gala dresses—my lady of Chelsea in her highest _tour_, my
lady viscountess out of black, and looking fair and happy, _à ravir_; and
the maid of honour attired with that splendour which naturally
distinguished her, and wearing on her beautiful breast the French
officer’s star which Frank had sent home after Ramillies.

“You see, ’tis a gala day with us,” says she, glancing down to the star
complacently, “and we have our orders on. Does not mamma look charming?
’Twas I dressed her!” Indeed, Esmond’s dear mistress, blushing as he
looked at her, with her beautiful fair hair and an elegant dress,
according to the _mode_, appeared to have the shape and complexion of a
girl of twenty.

On the table was a fine sword, with a red velvet scabbard, and a beautiful
chased silver handle, with a blue ribbon for a sword-knot. “What is this?”
says the captain, going up to look at this pretty piece.

Mrs. Beatrix advanced towards it. “Kneel down,” says she: “we dub you our
knight with this”—and she waved the sword over his head—“my lady dowager
hath given the sword; and I give the ribbon, and mamma hath sewn on the
fringe.”

“Put the sword on him, Beatrix,” says her mother. “You are our knight,
Harry—our true knight. Take a mother’s thanks and prayers for defending
her son, my dear, dear friend.” She could say no more, and even the
dowager was affected, for a couple of rebellious tears made sad marks down
those wrinkled old roses which Esmond had just been allowed to salute.

“We had a letter from dearest Frank,” his mother said, “three days since,
whilst you were on your visit to your friend Captain Steele, at Hampton.
He told us all that you had done, and how nobly you had put yourself
between him and that—that wretch.”

“And I adopt you from this day,” says the dowager; “and I wish I was
richer, for your sake, son Esmond,” she added, with a wave of her hand;
and as Mr. Esmond dutifully went down on his knee before her ladyship, she
cast her eyes up to the ceiling (the gilt chandelier, and the twelve wax
candles in it, for the party was numerous), and invoked a blessing from
that quarter upon the newly adopted son.

“Dear Frank,” says the other viscountess, “how fond he is of his military
profession! He is studying fortification very hard. I wish he were here.
We shall keep his coming of age at Castlewood next year.”

“If the campaign permit us,” says Mr. Esmond.

“I am never afraid when he is with you,” cries the boy’s mother. “I am
sure my Henry will always defend him.”

“But there will be a peace before next year; we know it for certain,”
cries the maid of honour. “Lord Marlborough will be dismissed, and that
horrible duchess turned out of all her places. Her Majesty won’t speak to
her now. Did you see her at Bushy, Harry? she is furious, and she ranges
about the park like a lioness, and tears people’s eyes out.”

“And the Princess Anne will send for somebody,” says my lady of Chelsea,
taking out her medal and kissing it.

“Did you see the king at Oudenarde, Harry?” his mistress asked. She was a
stanch Jacobite, and would no more have thought of denying her king than
her God.

“I saw the young Hanoverian only:” Harry said, “the Chevalier de St.
George——”

“The king, sir, the king!” said the ladies and Miss Beatrix; and she
clapped her pretty hands, and cried, “Vive le Roy!”

By this time there came a thundering knock, that drove in the doors of the
house almost. It was three o’clock, and the company were arriving; and
presently the servant announced Captain Steele and his lady.

Captain and Mrs. Steele, who were the first to arrive, had driven to
Kensington from their country-house, the Hovel at Hampton Wick, “Not from
our mansion in Bloomsbury Square,” as Mrs. Steele took care to inform the
ladies. Indeed Harry had ridden away from Hampton that very morning,
leaving the couple by the ears; for from the chamber where he lay, in a
bed that was none of the cleanest, and kept awake by the company which he
had in his own bed, and the quarrel which was going on in the next room,
he could hear both night and morning the curtain lecture which Mrs. Steele
was in the habit of administering to poor Dick.

At night it did not matter so much for the culprit; Dick was fuddled, and
when in that way no scolding could interrupt his benevolence. Mr. Esmond
could hear him coaxing and speaking in that maudlin manner, which punch
and claret produce, to his beloved Prue, and beseeching her to remember
that there was a _distiwisht officer ithe nex roob_, who would overhear
her. She went on, nevertheless, calling him a drunken wretch, and was only
interrupted in her harangues by the captain’s snoring.

In the morning, the unhappy victim awoke to a headache and consciousness,
and the dialogue of the night was resumed. “Why do you bring captains home
to dinner when there’s not a guinea in the house? How am I to give dinners
when you leave me without a shilling? How am I to go trapesing to
Kensington in my yellow satin sack before all the fine company? I’ve
nothing fit to put on; I never have:” and so the dispute went on—Mr.
Esmond interrupting the talk when it seemed to be growing too intimate by
blowing his nose as loudly as ever he could, at the sound of which trumpet
there came a lull. But Dick was charming, though his wife was odious, and
’twas to give Mr. Steele pleasure, that the ladies of Castlewood, who were
ladies of no small fashion, invited Mrs. Steele.

Besides the captain and his lady, there was a great and notable assemblage
of company: my lady of Chelsea having sent her lackeys and liveries to aid
the modest attendance at Kensington. There was Lieutenant-General Webb,
Harry’s kind patron, of whom the dowager took possession, and who
resplended in velvet and gold lace; there was Harry’s new acquaintance,
the Right Honourable Henry St. John, Esquire, the general’s kinsman, who
was charmed with the Lady Castlewood, even more than with her daughter;
there was one of the greatest noblemen in the kingdom, the Scots Duke of
Hamilton, just created Duke of Brandon in England; and two other noble
lords of the Tory party, my Lord Ashburnham, and another I have forgot;
and for ladies, her grace the Duchess of Ormonde and her daughters, the
Lady Mary and the Lady Betty, the former one of Mistress Beatrix’s
colleagues in waiting on the queen.

“What a party of Tories!” whispered Captain Steele to Esmond, as we were
assembled in the parlour before dinner. Indeed, all the company present,
save Steele, were of that faction.

Mr. St. John made his special compliments to Mrs. Steele, and so charmed
her that she declared she would have Steele a Tory too.

“Or will you have me a Whig?” says Mr. St. John. “I think, madam, you
could convert a man to anything.”

“If Mr. St. John ever comes to Bloomsbury Square I will teach him what I
know,” says Mrs. Steele, dropping her handsome eyes. “Do you know
Bloomsbury Square?”

“Do I know the Mall? Do I know the Opera? Do I know the reigning toast?
Why, Bloomsbury is the very height of the mode,” says Mr. St. John. “’Tis
_rus in urbe_. You have gardens all the way to Hampstead, and palaces
round about you—Southampton House and Montague House.”

“Where you wretches go and fight duels,” cries Mrs. Steele.

“Of which the ladies are the cause!” says her entertainer. “Madam, is Dick
a good swordsman? How charming the _Tatler_ is! We all recognized your
portrait in the 49th number, and I have been dying to know you ever since
I read it. ‘Aspasia must be allowed to be the first of the beauteous order
of love.’ Doth not the passage run so? ‘In this accomplished lady love is
the constant effect, though it is never the design; yet though her mien
carries much more invitation than command, to behold her is an immediate
check to loose behaviour, and to love her is a liberal education.’ ”

“Oh, indeed!” says Mrs. Steele, who did not seem to understand a word of
what the gentleman was saying.

“Who could fail to be accomplished under such a mistress?” says Mr. St.
John, still gallant and bowing.

“Mistress! upon my word, sir!” cries the lady. “If you mean me, sir, I
would have you know that I am the captain’s wife.”

“Sure we all know it,” answers Mr. St. John, keeping his countenance very
gravely; and Steele broke in, saying, “’Twas not about Mrs. Steele I writ
that paper—though I am sure she is worthy of any compliment I can pay
her—but of the Lady Elizabeth Hastings.”(14)

“I hear Mr. Addison is equally famous as a wit and a poet,” says Mr. St.
John. “Is it true that his hand is to be found in your _Tatler_, Mr.
Steele?”

“Whether ’tis the sublime or the humorous, no man can come near him,”
cries Steele.

“A fig, Dick, for your Mr. Addison!” cries out his lady: “a gentleman who
gives himself such airs and holds his head so high now. I hope your
ladyship thinks as I do: I can’t bear those very fair men with white
eyelashes—a black man for me.” (All the black men at table applauded, and
made Mrs. Steele a bow for this compliment.) “As for this Mr. Addison,”
she went on, “he comes to dine with the captain sometimes, never says a
word to me, and then they walk upstairs, both tipsy, to a dish of tea. I
remember your Mr. Addison when he had but one coat to his back, and that
with a patch at the elbow.”

“Indeed—a patch at the elbow! You interest me,” says Mr. St. John. “’Tis
charming to hear of one man of letters from the charming wife of another.”

“Law, I could tell you ever so much about ’em,” continues the voluble
lady. “What do you think the captain has got now?—a little hunchback
fellow—a little hop-o’-my-thumb creature that he calls a poet—a little
Popish brat!”

“Hush, there are two in the room,” whispers her companion.

“Well, I call him Popish because his name is Pope,” says the lady. “’Tis
only my joking way. And this little dwarf of a fellow has wrote a pastoral
poem—all about shepherds and shepherdesses, you know.”

“A shepherd should have a little crook,” says my mistress, laughing from
her end of the table: on which Mrs. Steele said, “She did not know, but
the captain brought home this queer little creature when she was in bed
with her first boy, and it was a mercy he had come no sooner; and Dick
raved about his _genus_, and was always raving about some nonsense or
other.”

“Which of the _Tatlers_ do you prefer, Mrs. Steele?” asked Mr. St. John.

“I never read but one, and think it all a pack of rubbish, sir,” says the
lady. “Such stuff about Bickerstaffe, and Distaff, and Quarterstaff, as it
all is! There’s the captain going on still with the burgundy—I know he’ll
be tipsy before he stops—Captain Steele!”

“I drink to your eyes, my dear,” says the captain, who seemed to think his
wife charming, and to receive as genuine all the satiric compliments which
Mr. St. John paid her.

All this while the maid of honour had been trying to get Mr. Esmond to
talk, and no doubt voted him a dull fellow. For, by some mistake, just as
he was going to pop into the vacant place, he was placed far away from
Beatrix’s chair, who sat between his grace and my Lord Ashburnham, and
shrugged her lovely white shoulders, and cast a look as if to say, “Pity
me,” to her cousin. My lord duke and his young neighbour were presently in
a very animated and close conversation. Mrs. Beatrix could no more help
using her eyes than the sun can help shining, and setting those it shines
on a-burning. By the time the first course was done the dinner seemed long
to Esmond: by the time the soup came he fancied they must have been hours
at table: and as for the sweets and jellies he thought they never would be
done.

At length the ladies rose, Beatrix throwing a Parthian glance at her duke
as she retreated; a fresh bottle and glasses were fetched, and toasts were
called. Mr. St. John asked his grace the Duke of Hamilton and the company
to drink to the health of his grace the Duke of Brandon. Another lord gave
General Webb’s health, “and may he get the command the bravest officer in
the world deserves.” Mr. Webb thanked the company, complimented his aide
de camp, and fought his famous battle over again.

“_Il est fatiguant_,” whispers Mr. St. John, “_avec sa trompette de
Wynendael_.”

Captain Steele, who was not of our side, loyally gave the health of the
Duke of Marlborough, the greatest general of the age.

“I drink to the greatest general with all my heart,” says Mr. Webb; “there
can be no gainsaying that character of him. My glass goes to the general,
and not to the duke, Mr. Steele.” And the stout old gentleman emptied his
bumper; to which Dick replied by filling and emptying a pair of brimmers,
one for the general and one for the duke.

And now his grace of Hamilton, rising up, with flashing eyes (we had all
been drinking pretty freely), proposed a toast to the lovely, to the
incomparable Mrs. Beatrix Esmond; we all drank it with cheers, and my Lord
Ashburnham especially, with a shout of enthusiasm.

“What a pity there is a Duchess of Hamilton,” whispers St. John, who drank
more wine and yet was more steady than most of the others, and we entered
the drawing-room where the ladies were at their tea. As for poor Dick, we
were obliged to leave him alone at the dining-table, where he was
hiccupping out the lines from the _Campaign_, in which the greatest poet
had celebrated the greatest general in the world; and Harry Esmond found
him, half an hour afterwards, in a more advanced stage of liquor, and
weeping about the treachery of Tom Boxer.

The drawing-room was all dark to poor Harry, in spite of the grand
illumination. Beatrix scarce spoke to him. When my lord duke went away,
she practised upon the next in rank, and plied my young Lord Ashburnham
with all the fire of her eyes and the fascinations of her wit. Most of the
party were set to cards, and Mr. St. John, after yawning in the face of
Mrs. Steele, whom he did not care to pursue any more, and talking in his
most brilliant animated way to Lady Castlewood, whom he pronounced to be
beautiful, of a far higher order of beauty than her daughter, presently
took his leave, and went his way. The rest of the company speedily
followed, my Lord Ashburnham the last, throwing fiery glances at the
smiling young temptress, who had bewitched more hearts than his in her
thrall.

No doubt, as a kinsman of the house, Mr. Esmond thought fit to be the last
of all in it; he remained after the coaches had rolled away—after his
dowager aunt’s chair and flambeaux had marched off in the darkness towards
Chelsea, and the town’s-people had gone to bed, who had been drawn into
the square to gape at the unusual assemblage of chairs and chariots,
lackeys and torchmen. The poor mean wretch lingered yet for a few minutes,
to see whether the girl would vouchsafe him a smile, or a parting word of
consolation. But her enthusiasm of the morning was quite died out, or she
chose to be in a different mood. She fell to joking about the dowdy
appearance of Lady Betty, and mimicked the vulgarity of Mrs. Steele; and
then she put up her little hand to her mouth and yawned, lighted a taper,
and shrugged her shoulders, and dropping Mr. Esmond a saucy curtsy, sailed
off to bed.

“The day began so well, Henry, that I had hoped it might have ended
better,” was all the consolation that poor Esmond’s fond mistress could
give him; and as he trudged home through the dark alone, he thought, with
bitter rage in his heart, and a feeling of almost revolt against the
sacrifice he had made:—“She would have me,” thought he, “had I but a name
to give her. But for my promise to her father, I might have my rank and my
mistress too.”

I suppose a man’s vanity is stronger than any other passion in him; for I
blush, even now, as I recall the humiliation of those distant days, the
memory of which still smarts, though the fever of baulked desire has
passed away more than a score of years ago. When the writer’s descendants
come to read this memoir, I wonder will they have lived to experience a
similar defeat and shame? Will they ever have knelt to a woman, who has
listened to them, and played with them, and laughed at them—who beckoning
them with lures and caresses, and with Yes, smiling from her eyes, has
tricked them on to their knees, and turned her back and left them? All
this shame Mr. Esmond had to undergo; and he submitted, and revolted, and
presently came crouching back for more.

After this _feste_, my young Lord Ashburnham’s coach was for ever rolling
in and out of Kensington Square; his lady-mother came to visit Esmond’s
mistress, and at every assembly in the town, wherever the maid of honour
made her appearance, you might be pretty sure to see the young gentleman
in a new suit every week, and decked out in all the finery that his tailor
or embroiderer could furnish for him. My lord was for ever paying Mr.
Esmond compliments, bidding him to dinner, offering him horses to ride,
and giving him a thousand uncouth marks of respect and goodwill. At last,
one night at the coffee-house, whither my lord came considerably flushed
and excited with drink, he rushes up to Mr. Esmond, and cries out—“Give me
joy, my dearest colonel; I am the happiest of men.”

“The happiest of men needs no dearest colonel to give him joy,” says Mr.
Esmond. “What is the cause of this supreme felicity?”

“Haven’t you heard?” says he. “Don’t you know? I thought the family told
you everything: the adorable Beatrix hath promised to be mine.”

“What!” cries out Mr. Esmond, who had spent happy hours with Beatrix that
very morning—had writ verses for her, that she had sung at the
harpsichord.

“Yes,” says he; “I waited on her to-day. I saw you walking towards
Knightsbridge as I passed in my coach; and she looked so lovely, and spoke
so kind, that I couldn’t help going down on my knees, and—and—sure I’m the
happiest of men in all the world; and I’m very young; but she says I shall
get older: and you know I shall be of age in four months; and there’s very
little difference between us; and I’m so happy. I should like to treat the
company to something. Let us have a bottle—a dozen bottles—and drink the
health of the finest woman in England.”

                  -------------------------------------

Esmond left the young lord tossing off bumper after bumper, and strolled
away to Kensington to ask whether the news was true. ’Twas only too sure:
his mistress’s sad, compassionate face told him the story; and then she
related what particulars of it she knew, and how my young lord had made
his offer, half an hour after Esmond went away that morning, and in the
very room where the song lay yet on the harpsichord, which Esmond had
writ, and they had sung together.



Book III. Containing The End Of Mr. Esmond’s Adventures In England



Chapter I. I Come To An End Of My Battles And Bruises


That feverish desire to gain a little reputation which Esmond had had,
left him now perhaps that he had attained some portion of his wish, and
the great motive of his ambition was over. His desire for military honour
was that it might raise him in Beatrix’s eyes. ’Twas next to nobility and
wealth the only kind of rank she valued. It was the stake quickest won or
lost too; for law is a very long game that requires a life to practise;
and to be distinguished in letters or the Church would not have forwarded
the poor gentleman’s plans in the least. So he had no suit to play but the
red one, and he played it; and this, in truth, was the reason of his
speedy promotion; for he exposed himself more than most gentlemen do, and
risked more to win more. Is he the only man that hath set his life against
a stake which may be not worth the winning? Another risks his life (and
his honour, too, sometimes) against a bundle of bank-notes, or a yard of
blue ribbon, or a seat in Parliament; and some for the mere pleasure and
excitement of the sport; as a field of a hundred huntsmen will do, each
out-bawling and out-galloping the other at the tail of a dirty fox, that
is to be the prize of the foremost happy conqueror.

When he heard this news of Beatrix’s engagement in marriage, Colonel
Esmond knocked under to his fate, and resolved to surrender his sword,
that could win him nothing now he cared for; and in this dismal frame of
mind he determined to retire from the regiment, to the great delight of
the captain next in rank to him, who happened to be a young gentleman of
good fortune, who eagerly paid Mr. Esmond a thousand guineas for his
majority in Webb’s regiment, and was knocked on the head the next
campaign. Perhaps Esmond would not have been sorry to share his fate. He
was more the Knight of the Woful Countenance than ever he had been. His
moodiness must have made him perfectly odious to his friends under the
tents, who like a jolly fellow, and laugh at a melancholy warrior always
sighing after Dulcinea at home.

Both the ladies of Castlewood approved of Mr. Esmond quitting the army,
and his kind general coincided in his wish of retirement, and helped in
the transfer of his commission, which brought a pretty sum into his
pocket. But when the commander-in-chief came home, and was forced, in
spite of himself, to appoint Lieutenant-General Webb to the command of a
division of the army in Flanders, the lieutenant-general prayed Colonel
Esmond so urgently to be his aide de camp and military secretary, that
Esmond could not resist his kind patron’s entreaties, and again took the
field, not attached to any regiment, but under Webb’s orders. What must
have been the continued agonies of fears(15) and apprehensions which
racked the gentle breasts of wives and matrons in those dreadful days,
when every _Gazette_ brought accounts of deaths and battles, and when the
present anxiety over, and the beloved person escaped, the doubt still
remained that a battle might be fought, possibly, of which the next
Flanders letter would bring the account; so they, the poor tender
creatures, had to go on sickening and trembling through the whole
campaign. Whatever these terrors were on the part of Esmond’s mistress
(and that tenderest of women must have felt them most keenly for both her
sons, as she called them), she never allowed them outwardly to appear, but
hid her apprehension as she did her charities and devotion. ’Twas only by
chance that Esmond, wandering in Kensington, found his mistress coming out
of a mean cottage there, and heard that she had a score of poor retainers,
whom she visited and comforted in their sickness and poverty, and who
blessed her daily. She attended the early church daily (though of a Sunday
especially, she encouraged and advanced all sorts of cheerfulness and
innocent gaiety in her little household): and by notes entered into a
table-book of hers at this time, and devotional compositions writ with a
sweet artless fervour, such as the best divines could not surpass, showed
how fond her heart was, how humble and pious her spirit, what pangs of
apprehension she endured silently, and with what a faithful reliance she
committed the care of those she loved to the awful Dispenser of death and
life.

As for her ladyship at Chelsea, Esmond’s newly-adopted mother, she was now
of an age when the danger of any second party doth not disturb the rest
much. She cared for trumps more than for most things in life. She was firm
enough in her own faith, but no longer very bitter against ours. She had a
very good-natured, easy French director, Monsieur Gauthier by name, who
was a gentleman of the world, and would take a hand of cards with Dean
Atterbury, my lady’s neighbour at Chelsea, and was well with all the High
Church party. No doubt Monsieur Gauthier knew what Esmond’s peculiar
position was, for he corresponded with Holt, and always treated Colonel
Esmond with particular respect and kindness; but for good reasons the
colonel and the abbé never spoke on this matter together, and so they
remained perfect good friends.

All the frequenters of my lady of Chelsea’s house were of the Tory and
High Church party. Madame Beatrix was as frantic about the king as her
elderly kinswoman: she wore his picture on her heart; she had a piece of
his hair; she vowed he was the most injured, and gallant, and
accomplished, and unfortunate, and beautiful of princes. Steele, who
quarrelled with very many of his Tory friends, but never with Esmond, used
to tell the colonel that his kinswoman’s house was a rendezvous of Tory
intrigues; that Gauthier was a spy; that Atterbury was a spy; that letters
were constantly going from that house to the queen at St. Germains; on
which Esmond, laughing, would reply, that they used to say in the army the
Duke of Marlborough was a spy too, and as much in correspondence with that
family as any Jesuit. And without entering very eagerly into the
controversy, Esmond had frankly taken the side of his family. It seemed to
him that King James the Third was undoubtedly King of England by right:
and at his sister’s death it would be better to have him than a foreigner
over us. No man admired King William more; a hero and a conqueror, the
bravest, justest, wisest of men—but ’twas by the sword he conquered the
country, and held and governed it by the very same right that the great
Cromwell held it, who was truly and greatly a sovereign. But that a
foreign despotic prince, out of Germany, who happened to be descended from
King James the First, should take possession of this empire, seemed to Mr.
Esmond a monstrous injustice—at least, every Englishman had a right to
protest, and the English prince, the heir-at-law, the first of all. What
man of spirit with such a cause would not back it? What man of honour with
such a crown to win would not fight for it? But that race was destined.
That prince had himself against him, an enemy he could not overcome. He
never dared to draw his sword, though he had it. He let his chances slip
by as he lay in the lap of opera-girls, or snivelled at the knees of
priests asking pardon; and the blood of heroes, and the devotedness of
honest hearts, and endurance, courage, fidelity, were all spent for him in
vain.

But let us return to my lady of Chelsea, who, when her son Esmond
announced to her ladyship that he proposed to make the ensuing campaign,
took leave of him with perfect alacrity, and was down to piquet with her
gentlewoman before he had well quitted the room on his last visit. “Tierce
to a king,” were the last words he ever heard her say: the game of life
was pretty nearly over for the good lady, and three months afterwards she
took to her bed, where she flickered out without any pain, so the Abbé
Gauthier wrote over to Mr. Esmond, then with his general on the frontier
of France. The Lady Castlewood was with her at her ending, and had written
too, but these letters must have been taken by a privateer in the packet
that brought them; for Esmond knew nothing of their contents until his
return to England.

My Lady Castlewood had left everything to Colonel Esmond, “as a reparation
for the wrong done to him”; ’twas writ in her will. But her fortune was
not much, for it never had been large, and the honest viscountess had
wisely sunk most of the money she had upon an annuity which terminated
with her life. However, there was the house and furniture, plate and
pictures at Chelsea, and a sum of money lying at her merchant’s, Sir
Josiah Child, which altogether would realize a sum of near three hundred
pounds per annum, so that Mr. Esmond found himself, if not rich, at least
easy for life. Likewise, there were the famous diamonds which had been
said to be worth fabulous sums, though the goldsmith pronounced they would
fetch no more than four thousand pounds. These diamonds, however, Colonel
Esmond reserved, having a special use for them: but the Chelsea house,
plate, goods, &c., with the exception of a few articles which he kept
back, were sold by his orders; and the sums resulting from the sale
invested in the public securities so as to realize the aforesaid annual
income of three hundred pounds.

Having now something to leave, he made a will, and dispatched it home. The
army was now in presence of the enemy; and a great battle expected every
day. ’Twas known that the general-in-chief was in disgrace, and the
parties at home strong against him; and there was no stroke this great and
resolute player would not venture to recall his fortune when it seemed
desperate. Frank Castlewood was with Colonel Esmond; his general having
gladly taken the young nobleman on to his staff. His studies of
fortifications at Bruxelles were over by this time. The fort he was
besieging had yielded, I believe, and my lord had not only marched in with
flying colours, but marched out again. He used to tell his boyish
wickednesses with admirable humour, and was the most charming young
scapegrace in the army.

’Tis needless to say that Colonel Esmond had left every penny of his
little fortune to this boy. It was the colonel’s firm conviction that the
next battle would put an end to him: for he felt aweary of the sun, and
quite ready to bid that and the earth farewell. Frank would not listen to
his comrade’s gloomy forebodings, but swore they would keep his birthday
at Castlewood that autumn, after the campaign. He had heard of the
engagement at home. “If Prince Eugene goes to London,” says Frank, “and
Trix can get hold of him, she’ll jilt Ashburnham for his highness. I tell
you, she used to make eyes at the Duke of Marlborough, when she was only
fourteen and ogling poor little Blandford. _I_ wouldn’t marry her, Harry,
no not if her eyes were twice as big. I’ll take my fun. I’ll enjoy for the
next three years every possible pleasure. I’ll sow my wild oats then, and
marry some quiet, steady, modest, sensible viscountess; hunt my harriers;
and settle down at Castlewood. Perhaps I’ll represent the county—no,
damme, _you_ shall represent the county. You have the brains of the
family. By the Lord, my dear old Harry, you have the best head and the
kindest heart in all the army; and every man says so—and when the queen
dies, and the king comes back, why shouldn’t you go to the House of
Commons and be a minister, and be made a peer, and that sort of thing?
_You_ be shot in the next action! I wager a dozen of burgundy you are not
touched. Mohun is well of his wound. He is always with Corporal John now.
As soon as ever I see his ugly face I’ll spit in it. I took lessons of
Father—of Captain Holtz at Bruxelles. What a man that is! He knows
everything.” Esmond bade Frank have a care; that Father Holt’s knowledge
was rather dangerous; not, indeed, knowing as yet how far the father had
pushed his instructions with his young pupil.

The gazetteers and writers, both of the French and English side, have
given accounts sufficient of that bloody battle of Blarignies or
Malplaquet, which was the last and the hardest-earned of the victories of
the great Duke of Marlborough. In that tremendous combat, near upon two
hundred and fifty thousand men were engaged, more than thirty thousand of
whom were slain or wounded (the Allies lost twice as many men as they
killed of the French, whom they conquered): and this dreadful slaughter
very likely took place because a great general’s credit was shaken at
home, and he thought to restore it by a victory. If such were the motives
which induced the Duke of Marlborough to venture that prodigious stake,
and desperately sacrifice thirty thousand brave lives, so that he might
figure once more in a _Gazette_, and hold his places and pensions a little
longer, the event defeated the dreadful and selfish design, for the
victory was purchased at a cost which no nation, greedy of glory as it may
be, would willingly pay for any triumph. The gallantry of the French was
as remarkable as the furious bravery of their assailants. We took a few
score of their flags, and a few pieces of their artillery; but we left
twenty thousand of the bravest soldiers of the world round about the
entrenched lines, from which the enemy was driven. He retreated in perfect
good order; the panic-spell seemed to be broke, under which the French had
laboured ever since the disaster of Hochstedt; and, fighting now on the
threshold of their country, they showed an heroic ardour of resistance,
such as had never met us in the course of their aggressive war. Had the
battle been more successful, the conqueror might have got the price for
which he waged it. As it was (and justly, I think), the party adverse to
the duke in England were indignant at the lavish extravagance of
slaughter, and demanded more eagerly than ever the recall of a chief,
whose cupidity and desperation might urge him further still. After this
bloody fight of Malplaquet, I can answer for it, that in the Dutch
quarters and our own, and amongst the very regiments and commanders, whose
gallantry was most conspicuous upon this frightful day of carnage, the
general cry was, that there was enough of the war. The French were driven
back into their own boundary, and all their conquests and booty of
Flanders disgorged. As for the Prince of Savoy, with whom our
commander-in-chief, for reasons of his own, consorted more closely than
ever, ’twas known that he was animated not merely by a political hatred,
but by personal rage against the old French king: the Imperial
Generalissimo never forgot the slight put by Lewis upon the Abbé de
Savoie; and in the humiliation or ruin of his most Christian Majesty, the
Holy Roman Emperor found his account. But what were these quarrels to us,
the free citizens of England and Holland? Despot as he was, the French
monarch was yet the chief of European civilization, more venerable in his
age and misfortunes than at the period of his most splendid successes;
whilst his opponent was but a semi-barbarous tyrant, with a pillaging
murderous horde of Croats and Pandours, composing a half of his army,
filling our camp with their strange figures, bearded like the miscreant
Turks their neighbours, and carrying into Christian warfare their native
heathen habits of rapine, lust, and murder. Why should the best blood in
England and France be shed in order that the Holy Roman and Apostolic
master of these ruffians should have his revenge over the Christian king?
And it was to this end we were fighting; for this that every village and
family in England was deploring the death of beloved sons and fathers. We
dared not speak to each other, even at table, of Malplaquet, so frightful
were the gaps left in our army by the cannon of that bloody action. ’Twas
heartrending, for an officer who had a heart, to look down his line on a
parade-day afterwards, and miss hundreds of faces of comrades—humble or of
high rank—that had gathered but yesterday full of courage and cheerfulness
round the torn and blackened flags. Where were our friends? As the great
duke reviewed us, riding along our lines with his fine suite of prancing
aides de camp and generals, stopping here and there to thank an officer
with those eager smiles and bows of which his grace was always lavish,
scarce a huzzah could be got for him, though Cadogan, with an oath, rode
up and cried—“D—n you, why don’t you cheer?” But the men had no heart for
that: not one of them but was thinking, “Where’s my comrade?—where’s my
brother that fought by me, or my dear captain that led me yesterday?”
’Twas the most gloomy pageant I ever looked on; and the _Te Deum_, sung by
our chaplains, the most woful and dreary satire.

Esmond’s general added one more to the many marks of honour which he had
received in the front of a score of battles, and got a wound in the groin,
which laid him on his back; and you may be sure he consoled himself by
abusing the commander-in-chief, as he lay groaning:—“Corporal John’s as
fond of me,” he used to say, “as King David was of General Uriah; and so
he always gives me the post of danger.” He persisted, to his dying day, in
believing that the duke intended he should be beat at Wynendael, and sent
him purposely with a small force, hoping that he might be knocked on the
head there. Esmond and Frank Castlewood both escaped without hurt, though
the division which our general commanded suffered even more than any
other, having to sustain not only the fury of the enemy’s cannonade, which
was very hot and well-served, but the furious and repeated charges of the
famous Maison-du-Roy, which we had to receive and beat off again and
again, with volleys of shot and hedges of iron, and our four lines of
musketeers and pikemen. They said the King of England charged us no less
than twelve times that day, along with the French Household. Esmond’s late
regiment, General Webb’s own Fusiliers, served in the division which their
colonel commanded. The general was thrice in the centre of the square of
the Fusiliers, calling the fire at the French charges; and, after the
action, his grace the Duke of Berwick sent his compliments to his old
regiment and their colonel for their behaviour on the field.

We drank my Lord Castlewood’s health and majority, the 25th of September,
the army being then before Mons: and here Colonel Esmond was not so
fortunate as he had been in actions much more dangerous, and was hit by a
spent ball just above the place where his former wound was, which caused
the old wound to open again, fever, spitting of blood, and other ugly
symptoms, to ensue; and, in a word, brought him near to death’s door. The
kind lad, his kinsman, attended his elder comrade with a very praiseworthy
affectionateness and care until he was pronounced out of danger by the
doctors, when Frank went off, passed the winter at Bruxelles, and
besieged, no doubt, some other fortress there. Very few lads would have
given up their pleasures so long and so gaily as Frank did; his cheerful
prattle soothed many long days of Esmond’s pain and languor. Frank was
supposed to be still at his kinsman’s bedside for a month after he had
left it, for letters came from his mother at home full of thanks to the
younger gentleman for his care of his elder brother (so it pleased
Esmond’s mistress now affectionately to style him); nor was Mr. Esmond in
a hurry to undeceive her, when the good young fellow was gone for his
Christmas holiday. It was as pleasant to Esmond on his couch to watch the
young man’s pleasure at the idea of being free, as to note his simple
efforts to disguise his satisfaction on going away. There are days when a
flask of champagne at a cabaret, and a red-cheeked partner to share it,
are too strong temptations for any young fellow of spirit. I am not going
to play the moralist, and cry “Fie!” For ages past, I know how old men
preach, and what young men practise; and that patriarchs have had their
weak moments, too, long since Father Noah toppled over after discovering
the vine. Frank went off, then, to his pleasures at Bruxelles, in which
capital many young fellows of our army declared they found infinitely
greater diversion even than in London: and Mr. Henry Esmond remained in
his sick-room, where he writ a fine comedy, that his mistress pronounced
to be sublime, and that was acted no less than three successive nights in
London in the next year.

Here, as he lay nursing himself, ubiquitous Mr. Holtz reappeared, and
stopped a whole month at Mons, where he not only won over Colonel Esmond
to the king’s side in politics (that side being always held by the Esmond
family); but where he endeavoured to reopen the controversial question
between the Churches once more, and to recall Esmond to that religion in
which, in his infancy, he had been baptized. Holtz was a casuist, both
dexterous and learned, and presented the case between the English Church
and his own in such a way that those who granted his premisses ought
certainly to allow his conclusions. He touched on Esmond’s delicate state
of health, chance of dissolution, and so forth; and enlarged upon the
immense benefits that the sick man was likely to forgo—benefits which the
Church of England did not deny to those of the Roman communion, as how
should she, being derived from that Church, and only an offshoot from it.
But Mr. Esmond said that his Church was the church of his country, and to
that he chose to remain faithful: other people were welcome to worship and
to subscribe any other set of articles, whether at Rome or at Augsburg.
But if the good father meant that Esmond should join the Roman communion
for fear of consequences, and that all England ran the risk of being
damned for heresy, Esmond, for one, was perfectly willing to take his
chance of the penalty along with the countless millions of his fellow
countrymen, who were bred in the same faith, and along with some of the
noblest, the truest, the purest, the wisest, the most pious and learned
men and women in the world.

As for the political question, in that Mr. Esmond could agree with the
father much more readily, and had come to the same conclusion, though,
perhaps, by a different way. The right-divine, about which Dr. Sacheverel
and the High Church party in England were just now making a bother, they
were welcome to hold as they chose. If Henry Cromwell and his father
before him, had been crowned and anointed (and bishops enough would have
been found to do it), it seemed to Mr. Esmond that they would have had the
right-divine just as much as any Plantagenet, or Tudor, or Stuart. But the
desire of the country being unquestionably for an hereditary monarchy,
Esmond thought an English king out of St. Germains was better and fitter
than a German prince from Herrenhausen, and that if he failed to satisfy
the nation, some other Englishman might be found to take his place; and
so, though with no frantic enthusiasm, or worship of that monstrous
pedigree which the Tories chose to consider divine, he was ready to say,
“God save King James!” when Queen Anne went the way of kings and
commoners.

“I fear, colonel, you are no better than a republican at heart,” says the
priest, with a sigh.

“I am an Englishman,” says Harry, “and take my country as I find her. The
will of the nation being for Church and King, I am for Church and King,
too; but English Church, and English King; and that is why your Church
isn’t mine, though your king is.”

Though they lost the day at Malplaquet, it was the French who were elated
by that action, whilst the conquerors were dispirited by it; and the enemy
gathered together a larger army than ever, and made prodigious efforts for
the next campaign. Marshal Berwick was with the French this year; and we
heard that Mareschal Villars was still suffering of his wound, was eager
to bring our duke to action, and vowed he would fight us in his coach.
Young Castlewood came flying back from Bruxelles, as soon as he heard that
righting was to begin; and the arrival of the Chevalier de St. George was
announced about May. “It’s the king’s third campaign, and it’s mine,”
Frank liked saying. He was come back a greater Jacobite than ever, and
Esmond suspected that some fair conspirators at Bruxelles had been
inflaming the young man’s ardour. Indeed, he owned that he had a message
from the queen, Beatrix’s godmother, who had given her name to Frank’s
sister the year before he and his sovereign were born.

However desirous Marshal Villars might be to fight, my lord duke did not
seem disposed to indulge him this campaign. Last year his grace had been
all for the Whigs and Hanoverians; but finding, on going to England, his
country cold towards himself, and the people in a ferment of High-Church
loyalty, the duke comes back to his army cooled towards the Hanoverians,
cautious with the Imperialists, and particularly civil and polite towards
the Chevalier de St. George. ’Tis certain that messengers and letters were
continually passing between his grace and his brave nephew, the Duke of
Berwick, in the opposite camp. No man’s caresses were more opportune than
his grace’s, and no man ever uttered expressions of regard and affection
more generously. He professed to Monsieur de Torcy, so Mr. St. John told
the writer, quite an eagerness to be cut in pieces for the exiled queen
and her family; nay more, I believe, this year he parted with a portion of
the most precious part of himself—his money—which he sent over to the
royal exiles. Mr. Tunstal, who was in the prince’s service, was twice or
thrice in and out of our camp; the French, in theirs of Arlieu and about
Arras. A little river, the Canihe, I think ’twas called (but this is writ
away from books and Europe; and the only map the writer hath of these
scenes of his youth, bears no mark of this little stream), divided our
pickets from the enemy’s. Our sentries talked across the stream, when they
could make themselves understood to each other, and when they could not,
grinned, and handed each other their brandy-flasks or their pouches of
tobacco. And one fine day of June, riding thither with the officer who
visited the outposts (Colonel Esmond was taking an airing on horseback,
being too weak for military duty), they came to this river, where a number
of English and Scots were assembled, talking to the good-natured enemy on
the other side.

Esmond was especially amused with the talk of one long fellow, with a
great curling red moustache, and blue eyes, that was half a dozen inches
taller than his swarthy little comrades on the French side of the stream,
and being asked by the colonel, saluted him, and said that he belonged to
the Royal Cravats.

From his way of saying “Royal Cravat”, Esmond at once knew that the
fellow’s tongue had first wagged on the banks of the Liffey, and not the
Loire; and the poor soldier—a deserter probably—did not like to venture
very deep into French conversation, lest his unlucky brogue should peep
out. He chose to restrict himself to such few expressions in the French
language as he thought he had mastered easily; and his attempt at disguise
was infinitely amusing. Mr. Esmond whistled “Lillibullero,” at which
Teague’s eyes began to twinkle, and then flung him a dollar, when the poor
boy broke out with a “God bless—that is, _Dieu bénisse votre honor_”, that
would infallibly have sent him to the provost-marshal had he been on our
side of the river.

Whilst this parley was going on, three officers on horseback, on the
French side, appeared at some little distance, and stopped as if eyeing
us, when one of them left the other two, and rode close up to us who were
by the stream. “Look, look!” says the Royal Cravat, with great agitation,
“_pas lui_, that’s he; not him, _l’autre_,” and pointed to the distant
officer on a chestnut horse, with a cuirass shining in the sun, and over
it a broad blue ribbon.

“Please to take Mr. Hamilton’s services to my Lord Marlborough—my lord
duke,” says the gentleman in English; and, looking to see that the party
were not hostilely disposed, he added, with a smile, “There’s a friend of
yours, gentlemen, yonder; he bids me to say that he saw some of your faces
on the 11th of September last year.”

As the gentleman spoke, the other two officers rode up, and came quite
close. We knew at once who it was. It was the king, then two-and-twenty
years old, tall and slim, with deep brown eyes, that looked melancholy,
though his lips wore a smile. We took off our hats and saluted him. No
man, sure, could see for the first time, without emotion, the youthful
inheritor of so much fame and misfortune. It seemed to Mr. Esmond that the
prince was not unlike young Castlewood, whose age and figure he resembled.
The Chevalier de St. George acknowledged the salute, and looked at us
hard. Even the idlers on our side of the river set up a hurrah. As for the
Royal Cravat, he ran to the prince’s stirrup, knelt down and kissed his
boot, and bawled and looked a hundred ejaculations and blessings. The
prince bade the aide de camp give him a piece of money; and when the party
saluting us had ridden away, Cravat spat upon the piece of gold by way of
benediction, and swaggered away, pouching his coin and twirling his honest
carroty moustache.

The officer in whose company Esmond was, the same little captain of
Handyside’s regiment, Mr. Sterne, who had proposed the garden at Lille,
when my Lord Mohun and Esmond had their affair, was an Irishman too, and
as brave a little soul as ever wore a sword. “Bedad,” says Roger Sterne,
“that long fellow spoke French so beautiful that I shouldn’t have known he
wasn’t a foreigner, till he broke out with his hulla-balloing, and only an
Irish calf can bellow like that.”—And Roger made another remark in his
wild way, in which there was sense as well as absurdity—“If that young
gentleman,” says he, “would but ride over to our camp instead of
Villars’s, toss up his hat and say, ‘Here am I, the king, who’ll follow
me?’ by the Lord, Esmond, the whole army would rise and carry him home
again, and beat Villars, and take Paris by the way.”

The news of the prince’s visit was all through the camp quickly, and
scores of ours went down in hopes to see him. Major Hamilton, whom we had
talked with, sent back by a trumpet several silver pieces for officers
with us. Mr. Esmond received one of these: and that medal, and a
recompense not uncommon amongst princes, were the only rewards he ever had
from a royal person, whom he endeavoured not very long after to serve.

Esmond quitted the army almost immediately after this, following his
general home; and, indeed, being advised to travel in the fine weather and
attempt to take no further part in the campaign. But he heard from the
army, that of the many who crowded to see the Chevalier de St. George,
Frank Castlewood had made himself most conspicuous: my lord viscount
riding across the little stream bareheaded to where the prince was, and
dismounting and kneeling before him to do him homage. Some said that the
prince had actually knighted him, but my lord denied that statement,
though he acknowledged the rest of the story, and said:—“From having been
out of favour with Corporal John,” as he called the duke, before, his
grace warned him not to commit those follies, and smiled on him cordially
ever after.

“And he was so kind to me,” Frank writ, “that I thought I would put in a
good word for Master Harry, but when I mentioned your name he looked as
black as thunder, and said he had never heard of you.”



Chapter II. I Go Home, And Harp On The Old String


After quitting Mons and the army, and as he was waiting for a packet at
Ostend, Esmond had a letter from his young kinsman Castlewood at
Bruxelles, conveying intelligence whereof Frank besought him to be the
bearer to London, and which caused Colonel Esmond no small anxiety.

The young scapegrace, being one-and-twenty years old, and being anxious to
sow his “wild otes”, as he wrote, had married Mademoiselle de Wertheim,
daughter of Count de Wertheim, Chamberlain to the Emperor, and having a
post in the Household of the Governor of the Netherlands.


    PS. (the young gentleman wrote): Clotilda is _older than me_,
    which perhaps may be objected to her: but I am so _old a raik_
    that the age makes no difference, and I am _determined_ to reform.
    We were married at St. Gudule, by Father Holt. She is heart and
    soul for the _good cause_. And here the cry is _Vif-le-Roy_, which
    my mother will _join in_, and Trix _too_. Break this news to ’em
    gently: and tell Mr. Finch, my agent, to press the people for
    their rents, and send me the _ryno_ anyhow. Clotilda sings, and
    plays on the Spinet _beautifully_. She is a fair beauty. And if
    it’s a son, you shall stand _Godfather_. I’m going to leave the
    army, having had _enuf of soldering_; and my lord duke
    _recommends_ me. I shall pass the winter here: and stop at least
    until Clo’s lying-in. I call her _old Clo_, but nobody else shall.
    She is the cleverest woman in all Bruxelles: understanding
    painting, music, poetry, and perfect at _cookery and puddens_. I
    borded with the count, that’s how I came to know her. There are
    four counts her brothers. One an abbey—three with the prince’s
    army. They have a lawsuit for _an immense fortune_: but are now in
    a _pore way_. Break this to mother, who’ll take anything from
    _you_. And write, and bid Finch write _amediately_. Hostel de
    ’l’Aigle Noire, Bruxelles, Flanders.


So Frank had married a Roman Catholic lady, and an heir was expected, and
Mr. Esmond was to carry this intelligence to his mistress at London. ’Twas
a difficult embassy; and the colonel felt not a little tremor as he neared
the capital.

He reached his inn late, and sent a messenger to Kensington to announce
his arrival and visit the next morning. The messenger brought back news
that the Court was at Windsor, and the fair Beatrix absent and engaged in
her duties there. Only Esmond’s mistress remained in her house at
Kensington. She appeared in Court but once in the year; Beatrix was quite
the mistress and ruler of the little mansion, inviting the company
thither, and engaging in every conceivable frolic of town pleasure. Whilst
her mother, acting as the young lady’s protectress and elder sister,
pursued her own path, which was quite modest and secluded.

As soon as ever Esmond was dressed (and he had been awake long before the
town), he took a coach for Kensington, and reached it so early that he met
his dear mistress coming home from morning prayers. She carried her
Prayer-book, never allowing a footman to bear it, as everybody else did:
and it was by this simple sign Esmond knew what her occupation had been.
He called to the coachman to stop, and jumped out as she looked towards
him. She wore her hood as usual, and she turned quite pale when she saw
him. To feel that kind little hand near to his heart seemed to give him
strength. They soon were at the door of her ladyship’s house—and within
it.

With a sweet sad smile she took his hand and kissed it.

“How ill you have been: how weak you look, my dear Henry,” she said.

’Tis certain the colonel did look like a ghost, except that ghosts do not
look very happy, ’tis said. Esmond always felt so on returning to her
after absence, indeed whenever he looked in her sweet kind face.

“I am come back to be nursed by my family,” says he. “If Frank had not
taken care of me after my wound, very likely I should have gone
altogether.”

“Poor Frank, good Frank!” says his mother. “You’ll always be kind to him,
my lord,” she went on. “The poor child never knew he was doing you a
wrong.”

“My lord!” cries out Colonel Esmond. “What do you mean, dear lady?”

“I am no lady,” says she; “I am Rachel Esmond, Francis Esmond’s widow, my
lord. I cannot bear that title. Would we never had taken it from him who
has it now. But we did all in our power, Henry: we did all in our power;
and my lord and I—that is——”

“Who told you this tale, dearest lady?” asked the colonel.

“Have you not had the letter I writ you? I writ to you at Mons directly I
heard it,” says Lady Esmond.

“And from whom?” again asked Colonel Esmond—and his mistress then told him
that on her death-bed the dowager countess, sending for her, had presented
her with this dismal secret as a legacy. “’Twas very malicious of the
dowager,” Lady Esmond said, “to have had it so long, and to have kept the
truth from me. ‘Cousin Rachel,’ she said,” and Esmond’s mistress could not
forbear smiling as she told the story, “ ‘cousin Rachel,’ cries the
dowager, ‘I have sent for you, as the doctors say I may go off any day in
this dysentery; and to ease my conscience of a great load that has been on
it. You always have been a poor creature and unfit for great honour, and
what I have to say won’t, therefore, affect you so much. You must know,
cousin Rachel, that I have left my house, plate, and furniture, three
thousand pounds in money, and my diamonds that my late revered saint and
sovereign, King James, presented me with, to my Lord Viscount Castlewood.’

“ ‘To my Frank?’ ” says Lady Castlewood: “ ‘I was in hopes——

“ ‘To Viscount Castlewood, my dear, Viscount Castlewood, and Baron Esmond
of Shandon in the kingdom of Ireland, Earl and Marquis of Esmond under
patent of his Majesty King James the Second, conferred upon my husband the
late marquis—for I am Marchioness of Esmond before God and man.’

“ ‘And have you left poor Harry nothing, dear marchioness?’ ” asks Lady
Castlewood (she hath told me the story completely since with her quiet
arch way; the most charming any woman ever had: and I set down the
narrative here at length so as to have done with it). “ ‘And have you left
poor Harry nothing?’ ” asks my dear lady: “for you know, Henry,” she says
with her sweet smile, “I used always to pity Esau—and I think I am on his
side—though papa tried very hard to convince me the other way.

“ ‘Poor Harry!’ says the old lady. ‘So you want something left to poor
Harry: he, he! (reach me the drops, cousin). Well then, my dear, since you
want poor Harry to have a fortune: you must understand that ever since the
year 1691, a week after the battle of the Boyne, where the Prince of
Orange defeated his royal sovereign and father, for which crime he is now
suffering in flames (ugh, ugh), Henry Esmond hath been Marquis of Esmond
and Earl of Castlewood in the United Kingdom, and Baron and Viscount
Castlewood of Shandon in Ireland, and a baronet—and his eldest son will
be, by courtesy, styled Earl of Castlewood—he! he! What do you think of
that, my dear?’

“ ‘Gracious mercy! how long have you known this?’ ” cries the other lady
(thinking perhaps that the old marchioness was wandering in her wits).

“ ‘My husband, before he was converted, was a wicked wretch,’ ” the sick
sinner continued. “ ‘When he was in the Low Countries he seduced a
weaver’s daughter; and added to his wickedness by marrying her. And then
he came to this country and married me—a poor girl—a poor innocent young
thing—I say,’ though she was past forty, you know, Harry, when she
married: and as for being innocent—‘Well,’ she went on, ‘I knew nothing of
my lord’s wickedness for three years after our marriage, and after the
burial of our poor little boy I had it done over again, my dear. I had
myself married by Father Holt in Castlewood chapel, as soon as ever I
heard the creature was dead—and having a great illness then, arising from
another sad disappointment I had, the priest came and told me that my lord
had a son before our marriage, and that the child was at nurse in England;
and I consented to let the brat be brought home, and a queer little
melancholy child it was when it came.

“ ‘Our intention was to make a priest of him: and he was bred for this,
until you perverted him from it, you wicked woman. And I had again hopes
of giving an heir to my lord, when he was called away upon the king’s
business, and died fighting gloriously at the Boyne Water.

“ ‘Should I be disappointed—I owed your husband no love, my dear, for he
had jilted me in the most scandalous way; and I thought there would be
time to declare the little weaver’s son for the true heir. But I was
carried off to prison, where your husband was so kind to me—urging all his
friends to obtain my release, and using all his credit in my favour—that I
relented towards him, especially as my director counselled me to be
silent; and that it was for the good of the king’s service that the title
of our family should continue with your husband the late viscount, whereby
his fidelity would be always secured to the king. And a proof of this is,
that a year before your husband’s death, when he thought of taking a place
under the Prince of Orange, Mr. Holt went to him, and told him what the
state of the matter was, and obliged him to raise a large sum for his
Majesty: and engaged him in the true cause so heartily, that we were sure
of his support on any day when it should be considered advisable to attack
the usurper. Then his sudden death came; and there was a thought of
declaring the truth. But ’twas determined to be best for the king’s
service to let the title still go with the younger branch; and there’s no
sacrifice a Castlewood wouldn’t make for that cause, my dear.

“ ‘As for Colonel Esmond, he knew the truth already’ (and then, Harry,” my
mistress said, “she told me of what had happened at my dear husband’s
death-bed). ‘He doth not intend to take the title, though it belongs to
him. But it eases my conscience that you should know the truth, my dear.
And your son is lawfully Viscount Castlewood so long as his cousin doth
not claim the rank.’ ”

This was the substance of the dowager’s revelation. Dean Atterbury had
knowledge of it, Lady Castlewood said, and Esmond very well knows how:
that divine being the clergyman for whom the late lord had sent on his
death-bed: and when Lady Castlewood would instantly have written to her
son, and conveyed the truth to him, the dean’s advice was that a letter
should be writ to Colonel Esmond rather; that the matter should be
submitted to his decision, by which alone the rest of the family were
bound to abide.

“And can my dearest lady doubt what that will be?” says the colonel.

“It rests with you, Harry, as the head of our house.”

“It was settled twelve years since, by my dear lord’s bedside,” says
Colonel Esmond. “The children must know nothing of this. Frank and his
heirs after him must bear our name. ’Tis his rightfully; I have not even a
proof of that marriage of my father and mother, though my poor lord, on
his death-bed, told me that Father Holt had brought such a proof to
Castlewood. I would not seek it when I was abroad. I went and looked at my
poor mother’s grave in her convent. What matter to her now? No court of
law on earth, upon my mere word, would deprive my lord viscount and set me
up. I am the head of the house, dear lady; but Frank is Viscount of
Castlewood still. And rather than disturb him, I would turn monk, or
disappear in America.”

As he spoke so to his dearest mistress, for whom he would have been
willing to give up his life, or to make any sacrifice any day, the fond
creature flung herself down on her knees before him, and kissed both his
hands in an outbreak of passionate love and gratitude, such as could not
but melt his heart, and make him feel very proud and thankful that God had
given him the power to show his love for her, and to prove it by some
little sacrifice on his own part. To be able to bestow benefits or
happiness on those one loves is sure the greatest blessing conferred upon
a man—and what wealth or name, or gratification of ambition or vanity,
could compare with the pleasure Esmond now had of being able to confer
some kindness upon his best and dearest friends?

“Dearest saint,” says he—“purest soul, that has had so much to suffer,
that has blest the poor lonely orphan with such a treasure of love. ’Tis
for me to kneel, not for you: ’tis for me to be thankful that I can make
you happy. Hath my life any other aim? Blessed be God that I can serve
you! What pleasure, think you, could all the world give me compared to
that?”

“Don’t raise me,” she said, in a wild way, to Esmond, who would have
lifted her. “Let me kneel—let me kneel, and—and—worship you.”

                  -------------------------------------

Before such a partial judge, as Esmond’s dear mistress owned herself to
be, any cause which he might plead was sure to be given in his favour; and
accordingly he found little difficulty in reconciling her to the news
whereof he was bearer, of her son’s marriage to a foreign lady, Papist
though she was. Lady Castlewood never could be brought to think so ill of
that religion as other people in England thought of it: she held that ours
was undoubtedly a branch of the Church Catholic, but that the Roman was
one of the main stems on which, no doubt, many errors had been grafted
(she was, for a woman, extraordinarily well versed in this controversy,
having acted, as a girl, as secretary to her father, the late dean, and
written many of his sermons, under his dictation); and if Frank had chosen
to marry a lady of the Church of South Europe, as she would call the Roman
communion, that was no need why she should not welcome her as a
daughter-in-law: and accordingly she writ to her new daughter a very
pretty, touching letter (as Esmond thought, who had cognizance of it
before it went), in which the only hint of reproof was a gentle
remonstrance that her son had not written to herself, to ask a fond
mother’s blessing for that step which he was about taking. “Castlewood
knew very well,” so she wrote to her son, “that she never denied him
anything in her power to give, much less would she think of opposing a
marriage that was to make his happiness, as she trusted, and keep him out
of wild courses, which had alarmed her a good deal: and she besought him
to come quickly to England, to settle down in his family house of
Castlewood (‘It is his family house,’ says she, to Colonel Esmond, ‘though
only his own house by your forbearance’), and to receive the accompt of
her stewardship during his ten years’ minority.” By care and frugality,
she had got the estate into a better condition than ever it had been since
the Parliamentary wars; and my lord was now master of a pretty, small
income, not encumbered of debts, as it had been, during his father’s
ruinous time. “But in saving my son’s fortune,” says she, “I fear I have
lost a great part of my hold on him.” And, indeed, this was the case; her
ladyship’s daughter complaining that their mother did all for Frank, and
nothing for her; and Frank himself being dissatisfied at the narrow,
simple way of his mother’s living at Walcote, where he had been brought up
more like a poor parson’s son, than a young nobleman that was to make a
figure in the world. ’Twas this mistake in his early training, very
likely, that set him so eager upon pleasure when he had it in his power;
nor is he the first lad that has been spoiled by the over-careful fondness
of women. No training is so useful for children, great or small, as the
company of their betters in rank or natural parts; in whose society they
lose the overweening sense of their own importance, which stay-at-home
people very commonly learn.

But, as a prodigal that’s sending in a schedule of his debts to his
friends, never puts all down, and, you may be sure, the rogue keeps back
some immense swingeing bill, that he doesn’t dare to own; so the poor
Frank had a very heavy piece of news to break to his mother, and which he
hadn’t the courage to introduce into his first confession. Some misgivings
Esmond might have, upon receiving Frank’s letter, and knowing into what
hands the boy had fallen; but whatever these misgivings were, he kept them
to himself, not caring to trouble his mistress with any fears that might
be groundless.

However, the next mail which came from Bruxelles, after Frank had received
his mother’s letter there, brought back a joint composition from himself
and his wife, who could spell no better than her young scapegrace of a
husband, full of expressions of thanks, love, and duty to the dowager
viscountess, as my poor lady now was styled; and along with this letter
(which was read in a family council, namely, the viscountess, Mistress
Beatrix, and the writer of this memoir, and which was pronounced to be
vulgar by the maid of honour, and felt to be so by the other two), there
came a private letter for Colonel Esmond from poor Frank, with another
dismal commission for the colonel to execute, at his best opportunity; and
this was to announce that Frank had seen fit, “by the exhortation of Mr.
Holt, the influence of his Clotilda, and the blessing of Heaven and the
saints,” says my lord, demurely, “to change his religion, and be received
into the bosom of that Church of which his sovereign, many of his family,
and the greater part of the civilized world, were members.” And his
lordship added a postscript, of which Esmond knew the inspiring genius
very well, for it had the genuine twang of the seminary, and was quite
unlike poor Frank’s ordinary style of writing and thinking; in which he
reminded Colonel Esmond that he too was, by birth, of that Church; and
that his mother and sister should have his lordship’s prayers to the
saints (an inestimable benefit, truly!) for their conversion.

If Esmond had wanted to keep this secret he could not; for a day or two
after receiving this letter, a notice from Bruxelles appeared in the
_Post-Boy_, and other prints, announcing that “a young Irish lord, the
Viscount C-stle-w—d, just come to his majority, and who had served the
last campaigns with great credit, as aide de camp to his grace the Duke of
Marlborough, had declared for the Popish religion at Bruxelles, and had
walked in a procession barefoot, with a wax taper in his hand.” The
notorious Mr. Holt, who had been employed as a Jacobite agent during the
last reign, and many times pardoned by King William, had been, the
_Post-Boy_ said, the agent of this conversion.

The Lady Castlewood was as much cast down by this news as Miss Beatrix was
indignant at it. “So,” says she, “Castlewood is no longer a home for us,
mother. Frank’s foreign wife will bring her confessor, and there will be
frogs for dinner; and all Tusher’s and my grandfather’s sermons are flung
away upon my brother. I used to tell you that you killed him with the
Catechism, and that he would turn wicked as soon as he broke from his
mammy’s leading-strings. Oh, mother, you would not believe that the young
scapegrace was playing you tricks, and that sneak of a Tusher was not a
fit guide for him. Oh, those parsons! I hate ’em all,” says Mistress
Beatrix, clapping her hands together; “yes, whether they wear cassocks and
buckles, or beards and bare feet. There’s a horrid Irish wretch who never
misses a Sunday at Court, and who pays me compliments there, the horrible
man; and if you want to know what parsons are, you should see his
behaviour, and hear him talk of his own cloth. They’re all the same,
whether they’re bishops or bonzes, or Indian fakirs. They try to domineer,
and they frighten us with kingdom come; and they wear a sanctified air in
public, and expect us to go down on our knees and ask their blessing; and
they intrigue, and they grasp, and they backbite, and they slander worse
than the worst courtier or the wickedest old woman. I heard this Mr. Swift
sneering at my Lord Duke of Marlborough’s courage the other day. He! that
Teague from Dublin! because his grace is not in favour, dares to say this
of him; and he says this that it may get to her Majesty’s ear, and to coax
and wheedle Mrs. Masham. They say the Elector of Hanover has a dozen of
mistresses in his Court at Herrenhausen, and if he comes to be king over
us, I wager that the bishops and Mr. Swift, that wants to be one, will
coax and wheedle them. Oh, those priests and their grave airs! I’m sick of
their square toes and their rustling cassocks. I should like to go to a
country where there was not one, or turn Quaker, and get rid of ’em; and I
would, only the dress is not becoming, and I’ve much too pretty a figure
to hide it. Haven’t I, cousin?” and here she glanced at her person and the
looking-glass, which told her rightly that a more beautiful shape and face
never were seen.

“I made that onslaught on the priests,” says Miss Beatrix, afterwards, “in
order to divert my poor dear mother’s anguish about Frank. Frank is as
vain as a girl, cousin. Talk of us girls being vain, what are _we_ to you?
It was easy to see that the first woman who chose would make a fool of
him, or the first robe—I count a priest and a woman all the same. We are
always caballing; we are not answerable for the fibs we tell; we are
always cajoling and coaxing, or threatening; and we are always making
mischief, Colonel Esmond—mark my word for that, who know the the world,
sir, and have to make my way in it. I see as well as possible how Frank’s
marriage hath been managed. The count, our papa-in-law, is always away at
the coffee-house. The countess, our mother, is always in the kitchen
looking after the dinner. The countess, our sister, is at the spinet. When
my lord comes to say he is going on the campaign, the lovely Clotilda
bursts into tears, and faints so; he catches her in his arms—no, sir, keep
your distance, cousin, if you please—she cries on his shoulder, and he
says, ‘Oh, my divine, my adored, my beloved Clotilda, are you sorry to
part with me?’ ‘Oh, my Francisco,’ says she, ‘oh, my lord!’ and at this
very instant mamma and a couple of young brothers, with moustachios and
long rapiers, come in from the kitchen, where they have been eating bread
and onions. Mark my word, you will have all this woman’s relations at
Castlewood three months after she has arrived there. The old count and
countess, and the young counts and all the little countesses her sisters.
Counts! every one of these wretches says he is a count. Guiscard, that
stabbed Mr. Harvy, said he was a count; and I believe he was a barber. All
Frenchmen are barbers—Fiddle-dee! don’t contradict me—or else
dancing-masters, or else priests;” and so she rattled on.

“Who was it taught _you_ to dance, cousin Beatrix?” says the colonel.

She laughed out the air of a minuet, and swept a low curtsy, coming up to
the recover with the prettiest little foot in the world pointed out. Her
mother came in as she was in this attitude; my lady had been in her
closet, having taken poor Frank’s conversion in a very serious way; the
madcap girl ran up to her mother, put her arms round her waist, kissed
her, tried to make her dance, and said: “Don’t be silly, you kind little
mamma, and cry about Frank turning Papist. What a figure he must be, with
a white sheet and a candle walking in a procession barefoot!” And she
kicked off her little slippers (the wonderfullest little shoes with
wonderful tall red heels, Esmond pounced upon one as it fell close beside
him), and she put on the drollest little _moue_, and marched up and down
the room holding Esmond’s cane by way of taper. Serious as her mood was,
Lady Castlewood could not refrain from laughing; and as for Esmond he
looked on with that delight with which the sight of this fair creature
always inspired him: never had he seen any woman so arch, so brilliant,
and so beautiful.

Having finished her march, she put out her foot for her slipper. The
colonel knelt down: “If you will be Pope I will turn Papist,” says he; and
her holiness gave him gracious leave to kiss the little stockinged foot
before he put the slipper on.

Mamma’s feet began to pat on the floor during this operation, and Beatrix,
whose bright eyes nothing escaped, saw that little mark of impatience. She
ran up and embraced her mother, with her usual cry of, “Oh, you silly
little mamma: your feet are quite as pretty as mine,” says she: “they are,
cousin, though she hides ’em; but the shoemaker will tell you that he
makes for both off the same last.”

“You are taller than I am, dearest,” says her mother, blushing over her
whole sweet face—“and—and it is your hand, my dear, and not your foot he
wants you to give him,” and she said it with a hysteric laugh, that had
more of tears than laughter in it; laying her head on her daughter’s fair
shoulder, and hiding it there. They made a very pretty picture together,
and looked like a pair of sisters—the sweet simple matron seeming younger
than her years, and her daughter, if not older, yet somehow, from a
commanding manner and grace which she possessed above most women, her
mother’s superior and protectress.

“But, oh!” cries my mistress, recovering herself after this scene, and
returning to her usual sad tone, “’tis a shame that we should laugh and be
making merry on a day when we ought to be down on our knees and asking
pardon.”

“Asking pardon for what?” says saucy Mrs. Beatrix,—“because Frank takes it
into his head to fast on Fridays, and worship images? You know if you had
been born a Papist, mother, a Papist you would have remained to the end of
your days. ’Tis the religion of the king and of some of the best quality.
For my part, I’m no enemy to it, and think Queen Bess was not a penny
better than Queen Mary.”

“Hush, Beatrix! Do not jest with sacred things, and remember of what
parentage you come,” cries my lady. Beatrix was ordering her ribbons, and
adjusting her tucker, and performing a dozen provoking pretty ceremonies,
before the glass. The girl was no hypocrite at least. She never at that
time could be brought to think but of the world and her beauty; and seemed
to have no more sense of devotion than some people have of music, that
cannot distinguish one air from another. Esmond saw this fault in her, as
he saw many others—a bad wife would Beatrix Esmond make, he thought, for
any man under the degree of a prince. She was born to shine in great
assemblies, and to adorn palaces, and to command everywhere—to conduct an
intrigue of politics, or to glitter in a queen’s train. But to sit at a
homely table, and mend the stockings of a poor man’s children! that was no
fitting duty for her, or at least one that she wouldn’t have broke her
heart in trying to do. She was a princess, though she had scarce a
shilling to her fortune; and one of her subjects—the most abject and
devoted wretch, sure, that ever drivelled at a woman’s knees—was this
unlucky gentleman; who bound his good sense, and reason, and independence,
hand and foot; and submitted them to her.

And who does not know how ruthlessly women will tyrannize when they are
let to domineer? and who does not know how useless advice is? I could give
good counsel to my descendants, but I know they’ll follow their own way,
for all their grandfather’s sermon. A man gets his own experience about
women, and will take nobody’s hearsay; nor, indeed, is the young fellow
worth a fig that would. ’Tis I that am in love with my mistress, not my
old grandmother that counsels me; ’tis I that have fixed the value of the
thing I would have, and know the price I would pay for it. It may be
worthless to you, but ’tis all my life to me. Had Esmond possessed the
Great Mogul’s crown and all his diamonds, or all the Duke of Marlborough’s
money, or all the ingots sunk at Vigo, he would have given them all for
this woman. A fool he was, if you will; but so is a sovereign a fool, that
will give half a principality for a little crystal as big as a pigeon’s
egg, and called a diamond: so is a wealthy nobleman a fool, that will face
danger or death, and spend half his life, and all his tranquillity,
caballing for a blue ribbon: so is a Dutch merchant a fool, that hath been
known to pay ten thousand crowns for a tulip. There’s some particular
prize we all of us value, and that every man of spirit will venture his
life for. With this, it may be to achieve a great reputation for learning;
with that, to be a man of fashion, and the admiration of the town; with
another, to consummate a great work of art or poetry, and go to
immortality that way; and with another, for a certain time of his life,
the sole object and aim is a woman.

Whilst Esmond was under the domination of this passion, he remembers many
a talk he had with his intimates, who used to rally our Knight of the
Rueful Countenance at his devotion, whereof he made no disguise, to
Beatrix; and it was with replies such as the above he met his friends’
satire. “Granted, I am a fool,” says he, “and no better than you; but you
are no better than I. You have your folly you labour for; give me the
charity of mine. What flatteries do you, Mr. St. John, stoop to whisper in
the ears of a queen’s favourite? What nights of labour doth not the
laziest man in the world endure, forgoing his bottle, and his boon
companions, forgoing Lais, in whose lap he would like to be yawning, that
he may prepare a speech full of lies, to cajole three hundred stupid
country gentlemen in the House of Commons, and get the hiccuping cheers of
the October Club! What days will you spend in your jolting chariot!” (Mr.
Esmond often rode to Windsor, and especially, of later days, with the
secretary.) “What hours will you pass on your gouty feet—and how humbly
will you kneel down to present a dispatch—you, the proudest man in the
world, that has not knelt to God since you were a boy, and in that posture
whisper, flatter, adore almost, a stupid woman, that’s often boozy with
too much meat and drink, when Mr. Secretary goes for his audience! If my
pursuit is vanity, sure yours is too.” And then the secretary would fly
out in such a rich flow of eloquence, as this pen cannot pretend to
recall; advocating his scheme of ambition, showing the great good he would
do for his country when he was the undisputed chief of it; backing his
opinion with a score of pat sentences from Greek and Roman authorities (of
which kind of learning he made rather an ostentatious display), and
scornfully vaunting the very arts and meannesses by which fools were to be
made to follow him, opponents to be bribed or silenced, doubters
converted, and enemies overawed.

“I am Diogenes,” says Esmond, laughing, “that is taken up for a ride in
Alexander’s chariot. I have no desire to vanquish Darius or to tame
Bucephalus. I do not want what you want, a great name or a high place: to
have them would bring me no pleasure. But my moderation is taste, not
virtue; and I know that what I do want, is as vain as that which you long
after. Do not grudge me my vanity, if I allow yours; or rather, let us
laugh at both indifferently, and at ourselves, and at each other.”

“If your charmer holds out,” says St. John, “at this rate, she may keep
you twenty years besieging her, and surrender by the time you are seventy,
and she is old enough to be a grandmother. I do not say the pursuit of a
particular woman is not as pleasant a pastime as any other kind of
hunting,” he added; “only, for my part, I find the game won’t run long
enough. They knock under too soon—that’s the fault I find with ’em.”

“The game which you pursue is in the habit of being caught, and used to
being pulled down,” says Mr. Esmond.

“But Dulcinea del Toboso is peerless, eh?” says the other. “Well, honest
Harry, go and attack windmills—perhaps thou art not more mad than other
people,” St. John added, with a sigh.



Chapter III. A Paper Out Of The “Spectator”


Doth any young gentleman of my progeny, who may read his old grandfather’s
papers, chance to be presently suffering under the passion of Love? There
is a humiliating cure, but one that is easy and almost specific for the
malady—which is, to try an alibi. Esmond went away from his mistress and
was cured a half-dozen times; he came back to her side, and instantly fell
ill again of the fever. He vowed that he could leave her and think no more
of her, and so he could pretty well, at least, succeed in quelling that
rage and longing he had whenever he was with her; but as soon as he
returned he was as bad as ever again. Truly a ludicrous and pitiable
object, at least exhausting everybody’s pity but his dearest mistress’s,
Lady Castlewood’s, in whose tender breast he reposed all his dreary
confessions, and who never tired of hearing him and pleading for him.

Sometimes Esmond would think there was hope. Then again he would be
plagued with despair, at some impertinence or coquetry of his mistress.
For days they would be like brother and sister, or the dearest
friends—she, simple, fond, and charming—he, happy beyond measure at her
good behaviour. But this would all vanish on a sudden. Either he would be
too pressing, and hint his love, when she would rebuff him instantly, and
give his vanity a box on the ear: or he would be jealous, and with perfect
good reason, of some new admirer that had sprung up, or some rich young
gentleman newly arrived in the town, that this incorrigible flirt would
set her nets and baits to draw in. If Esmond remonstrated, the little
rebel would say—“Who are you? I shall go my own way, sirrah, and that way
is towards a husband, and I don’t want _you_ on the way. I am for your
betters, colonel, for your betters: do you hear that? You might do if you
had an estate and were younger; only eight years older than I, you say!
pish, you are a hundred years older. You are an old, old Graveairs, and I
should make you miserable, that would be the only comfort I should have in
marrying you. But you have not money enough to keep a cat decently after
you have paid your man his wages, and your landlady her bill. Do you think
I’m going to live in a lodging, and turn the mutton at a string whilst
your honour nurses the baby? Fiddlestick, and why did you not get this
nonsense knocked out of your head when you were in the wars? You are come
back more dismal and dreary than ever. You and mamma are fit for each
other. You might be Darby and Joan, and play cribbage to the end of your
lives.”

“At least you own to your worldliness, my poor Trix,” says her mother.

“Worldliness—O my pretty lady! Do you think that I am a child in the
nursery, and to be frightened by Bogey? Worldliness, to be sure; and pray,
madam, where is the harm of wishing to be comfortable? When you are gone,
you dearest old woman, or when I am tired of you and have run away from
you, where shall I go? Shall I go and be head nurse to my Popish
sister-in-law, take the children their physic, and whip ’em, and put ’em
to bed when they are naughty? Shall I be Castlewood’s upper servant, and
perhaps marry Tom Tusher? _Merci!_ I have been long enough Frank’s humble
servant. Why am I not a man? I have ten times his brains, and had I worn
the—well, don’t let your ladyship be frightened—had I worn a sword and
periwig instead of this mantle and commode, to which nature has condemned
me—(though ’tis a pretty stuff, too—cousin Esmond! you will go to the
Exchange to-morrow, and get the exact counterpart of this ribbon, sir, do
you hear?)—I would have made our name talked about. So would Graveairs
here have made something out of our name if he had represented it. My Lord
Graveairs would have done very well. Yes, you have a very pretty way, and
would have made a very decent, grave speaker;” and here she began to
imitate Esmond’s way of carrying himself, and speaking to his face, and so
ludicrously that his mistress burst out a-laughing, and even he himself
could see there was some likeness in the fantastical malicious caricature.

“Yes,” says she, “I solemnly vow, own, and confess, that I want a good
husband. Where’s the harm of one? My face is my fortune. Who’ll come?—buy,
buy, buy! I cannot toil, neither can I spin, but I can play twenty-three
games on the cards. I can dance the last dance, I can hunt the stag, and I
think I could shoot flying. I can talk as wicked as any woman of my years,
and know enough stories to amuse a sulky husband for at least one thousand
and one nights. I have a pretty taste for dress, diamonds, gambling, and
old china. I love sugar-plums, Malines lace (that you brought me, cousin,
is very pretty), the opera, and everything that is useless and costly. I
have got a monkey and a little black boy—Pompey, sir, go and give a dish
of chocolate to Colonel Graveairs,—and a parrot and a spaniel, and I must
have a husband. Cupid, you hear?”

“Iss, missis,” says Pompey, a little grinning negro Lord Peterborow gave
her, with a bird of Paradise in his turbant, and a collar with his
mistress’s name on it.

“Iss, missis!” says Beatrix, imitating the child. “And if husband not
come, Pompey must go fetch one.”

And Pompey went away grinning with his chocolate tray, as Miss Beatrix ran
up to her mother and ended her sally of mischief in her common way, with a
kiss—no wonder that upon paying such a penalty her fond judge pardoned
her.

                  -------------------------------------

When Mr. Esmond came home, his health was still shattered; and he took a
lodging near to his mistress’s, at Kensington, glad enough to be served by
them, and to see them day after day. He was enabled to see a little
company—and of the sort he liked best. Mr. Steele and Mr. Addison both did
him the honour to visit him: and drank many a flask of good claret at his
lodging, whilst their entertainer, through his wound, was kept to diet
drink and gruel. These gentlemen were Whigs, and great admirers of my Lord
Duke of Marlborough; and Esmond was entirely of the other party. But their
different views of politics did not prevent the gentlemen from agreeing in
private, nor from allowing, on one evening when Esmond’s kind old patron,
Lieutenant-General Webb, with a stick and a crutch, hobbled up to the
colonel’s lodging (which was prettily situate at Knightsbridge, between
London and Kensington, and looking over the Gardens), that the
lieutenant-general was a noble and gallant soldier—and even that he had
been hardly used in the Wynendael affair. He took his revenge in talk,
that must be confessed; and if Mr. Addison had had a mind to write a poem
about Wynendael, he might have heard from the commander’s own lips the
story a hundred times over.

Mr. Esmond, forced to be quiet, betook himself to literature for a
relaxation, and composed his comedy, whereof the prompter’s copy lieth in
my walnut escritoire, sealed up and docketed, _The Faithful Fool_, a
Comedy, as it was performed by her Majesty’s servants. ’Twas a very
sentimental piece; and Mr. Steele, who had more of that kind of sentiment
than Mr. Addison, admired it, whilst the other rather sneered at the
performance; though he owned that, here and there, it contained some
pretty strokes. He was bringing out his own play of _Cato_ at the time,
the blaze of which quite extinguished Esmond’s farthing candle: and his
name was never put to the piece, which was printed as by a Person of
Quality. Only nine copies were sold, though Mr. Dennis, the great critic,
praised it, and said ’twas a work of great merit; and Colonel Esmond had
the whole impression burned one day in a rage, by Jack Lockwood, his man.

All this comedy was full of bitter satiric strokes against a certain young
lady. The plot of the piece was quite a new one. A young woman was
represented with a great number of suitors, selecting a pert fribble of a
peer, in place of the hero (but ill-acted, I think, by Mr. Wilks, the
Faithful Fool), who persisted in admiring her. In the fifth act, Teraminta
was made to discover the merits of Eugenio (the F. F.), and to feel a
partiality for him too late; for he announced that he had bestowed his
hand and estate upon Rosaria, a country lass, endowed with every virtue.
But it must be owned that the audience yawned through the play; and that
it perished on the third night, with only half a dozen persons to behold
its agonies. Esmond and his two mistresses came to the first night, and
Miss Beatrix fell asleep; whilst her mother, who had not been to a play
since King James the Second’s time, thought the piece, though not
brilliant, had a very pretty moral.

Mr. Esmond dabbled in letters, and wrote a deal of prose and verse at this
time of leisure. When displeased with the conduct of Miss Beatrix, he
would compose a satire, in which he relieved his mind. When smarting under
the faithlessness of women, he dashed off a copy of verses, in which he
held the whole sex up to scorn. One day, in one of these moods, he made a
little joke, in which (swearing him to secrecy) he got his friend Dick
Steele to help him; and, composing a paper, he had it printed exactly like
Steele’s paper, and by his printer, and laid on his mistress’s
breakfast-table the following:—

“SPECTATOR.

No. 341. Tuesday, April 1, 1712.

Mutato nomine de te Fabula narratur.—HORACE.

Thyself the moral of the Fable see.—CREECH.

“Jocasta is known as a woman of learning and fashion, and as one of the
most amiable persons of this Court and country. She is at home two
mornings of the week, and all the wits and a few of the beauties of London
flock to her assemblies. When she goes abroad to Tunbridge or the Bath, a
retinue of adorers rides the journey with her; and, besides the London
beaux, she has a crowd of admirers at the Wells, the polite amongst the
natives of Sussex and Somerset pressing round her tea-tables, and being
anxious for a nod from her chair. Jocasta’s acquaintance is thus very
numerous. Indeed, ’tis one smart writer’s work to keep her visiting-book—a
strong footman is engaged to carry it; and it would require a much
stronger head, even than Jocasta’s own, to remember the names of all her
dear friends.

“Either at Epsom Wells or at Tunbridge (for of this important matter
Jocasta cannot be certain) it was her ladyship’s fortune to become
acquainted with a young gentleman, whose conversation was so sprightly,
and manners amiable, that she invited the agreeable young spark to visit
her if ever he came to London, where her house in Spring Garden should be
open to him. Charming as he was, and without any manner of doubt a pretty
fellow, Jocasta hath such a regiment of the like continually marching
round her standard, that ’tis no wonder her attention is distracted
amongst them. And so, though this gentleman made a considerable impression
upon her, and touched her heart for at least three-and-twenty minutes, it
must be owned that she has forgotten his name. He is a dark man, and may
be eight-and-twenty years old. His dress is sober, though of rich
materials. He has a mole on his forehead over his left eye; has a blue
ribbon to his cane and sword, and wears his own hair.

“Jocasta was much flattered by beholding her admirer (for that everybody
admires who sees her is a point which she never can for a moment doubt) in
the next pew to her at St. James’s Church last Sunday; and the manner in
which he appeared to go to sleep during the sermon—though from under his
fringed eyelids it was evident he was casting glances of respectful
rapture towards Jocasta—deeply moved and interested her. On coming out of
church, he found his way to her chair, and made her an elegant bow as she
stepped into it. She saw him at Court afterwards, where he carried himself
with a most distinguished air, though none of her acquaintances knew his
name; and the next night he was at the play, where her ladyship was
pleased to acknowledge him from the side-box.

“During the whole of the comedy she racked her brains so to remember his
name, that she did not hear a word of the piece: and having the happiness
to meet him once more in the lobby of the playhouse, she went up to him in
a flutter, and bade him remember that she kept two nights in the week, and
that she longed to see him at Spring Garden.

“He appeared on Tuesday, in a rich suit, showing a very fine taste both in
the tailor and wearer; and though a knot of us were gathered round the
charming Jocasta, fellows who pretended to know every face upon the town,
not one could tell the gentleman’s name in reply to Jocasta’s eager
inquiries, flung to the right and left of her as he advanced up the room
with a bow that would become a duke.

“Jocasta acknowledged this salute with one of those smiles and curtsies of
which that lady hath the secret. She curtsies with a languishing air, as
if to say, ‘You are come at last. I have been pining for you:’ and then
she finishes her victim with a killing look, which declares: ‘O Philander!
I have no eyes but for you.’ Camilla hath as good a curtsy perhaps, and
Thalestris much such another look; but the glance and the curtsy together
belong to Jocasta of all the English beauties alone.

“ ‘Welcome to London, sir,’ says she. ‘One can see you are from the
country by your looks.’ She would have said ‘Epsom’, or ‘Tunbridge’, had
she remembered rightly at which place she had met the stranger; but, alas!
she had forgotten.

“The gentleman said, ‘he had been in town but three days; and one of his
reasons for coming hither was to have the honour of paying his court to
Jocasta.’

“She said, ‘the waters had agreed with her but indifferently.’

“ ‘The waters were for the sick,’ the gentleman said: ‘the young and
beautiful came but to make them sparkle. And, as the clergyman read the
service on Sunday,’ he added, ‘your ladyship reminded me of the angel that
visited the pool.’ A murmur of approbation saluted this sally. Manilio,
who is a wit when he is not at cards, was in such a rage that he revoked
when he heard it.

“Jocasta was an angel visiting the waters; but at which of the Bethesdas?
She was puzzled more and more; and, as her way always is, looked the more
innocent and simple, the more artful her intentions were.

“ ‘We were discoursing,’ says she, ‘about spelling of names and words when
you came. Why should we say goold and write gold, and call china chayny,
and Cavendish Candish, and Cholmondeley Chumley? If we call Pulteney
Poltney, why shouldn’t we call poultry pultry—and——’

“ ‘Such an enchantress as your ladyship,’ says he, ‘is mistress of all
sorts of spells.’ But this was Dr. Swift’s pun, and we all knew it.

“ ‘And—and how do you spell your name?’ says she, coming to the point, at
length; for this sprightly conversation had lasted much longer than is
here set down, and been carried on through at least three dishes of tea.

“ ‘Oh, madam,’ says he, ‘_I spell my name with the y_.’ And laying down
his dish, my gentleman made another elegant bow, and was gone in a moment.

“Jocasta hath had no sleep since this mortification, and the stranger’s
disappearance. If balked in anything, she is sure to lose her health and
temper; and we, her servants, suffer, as usual, during the angry fits of
our queen. Can you help us, Mr. Spectator, who know everything, to read
this riddle for her, and set at rest all our minds? We find in her list,
Mr. Berty, Mr. Smith, Mr. Pike, Mr. Tyler—who may be Mr. Bertie, Mr.
Smyth, Mr. Pyke, Mr. Tiler, for what we know. She hath turned away the
clerk of her visiting-book, a poor fellow with a great family of children.
Read me this riddle, good Mr. Shortface, and oblige your admirer—OEDIPUS.”

THE “TRUMPET” COFFEE-HOUSE, Whitehall.

“MR. SPECTATOR—I am a gentleman but little acquainted with the town,
though I have had a university education, and passed some years serving my
country abroad, where my name is better known than in the coffee-houses
and St. James’s.

“Two years since my uncle died, leaving me a pretty estate in the county
of Kent; and being at Tunbridge Wells last summer, after my mourning was
over, and on the look-out, if truth must be told, for some young lady who
would share with me the solitude of my great Kentish house, and be kind to
my tenantry (for whom a woman can do a great deal more good than the
best-intentioned man can), I was greatly fascinated by a young lady of
London, who was the toast of all the company at the Wells. Everyone knows
Saccharissa’s beauty; and I think, Mr. Spectator, no one better than
herself.

“My table-book informs me that I danced no less than seven-and-twenty sets
with her at the assembly. I treated her to the fiddles twice. I was
admitted on several days to her lodging, and received by her with a great
deal of distinction, and, for a time, was entirely her slave. It was only
when I found, from common talk of the company at the Wells, and from
narrowly watching one, who I once thought of asking the most sacred
question a man can put to a woman, that I became aware how unfit she was
to be a country gentleman’s wife; and that this fair creature was but a
heartless worldly jilt, playing with affections that she never meant to
return, and, indeed, incapable of returning them. ’Tis admiration such
women want, not love that touches them; and I can conceive, in her old
age, no more wretched creature than this lady will be, when her beauty
hath deserted her, when her admirers have left her, and she hath neither
friendship nor religion to console her.

“Business calling me to London, I went to St. James’s Church last Sunday,
and there opposite me sat my beauty of the Wells. Her behaviour during the
whole service was so pert, languishing, and absurd; she flirted her fan,
and ogled and eyed me in a manner so indecent, that I was obliged to shut
my eyes, so as actually not to see her, and whenever I opened them beheld
hers (and very bright they are) still staring at me. I fell in with her
afterwards at Court, and at the playhouse; and here nothing would satisfy
her but she must elbow through the crowd and speak to me, and invite me to
the assembly, which she holds at her house, nor very far from Ch-r-ng
Cr-ss.

“Having made her a promise to attend, of course I kept my promise; and
found the young widow in the midst of a half-dozen of card-tables, and a
crowd of wits and admirers. I made the best bow I could, and advanced
towards her; and saw by a peculiar puzzled look in her face, though she
tried to hide her perplexity, that she had forgotten even my name.

“Her talk, artful as it was, convinced me that I had guessed aright. She
turned the conversation most ridiculously upon the spelling of names and
words; and I replied with as ridiculous, fulsome compliments as I could
pay her: indeed, one in which I compared her to an angel visiting the
sick-wells, went a little too far; nor should I have employed it, but that
the allusion came from the Second Lesson last Sunday, which we both had
heard, and I was pressed to answer her.

“Then she came to the question, which I knew was awaiting me, and asked
how I _spelt_ my name? ‘Madam,’ says I, turning on my heel, ‘I spell it
with the _y_.’ And so I left her, wondering at the light-heartedness of
the town-people, who forget and make friends so easily, and resolved to
look elsewhere for a partner for your constant reader.

“CYMON WYLDOATS.

“You know my real name, Mr. Spectator, in which there is no such a letter
as _hupsilon_. But if the lady, whom I have called Saccharissa, wonders
that I appear no more at the tea-tables, she is hereby respectfully
informed the reason _y_.”

                  -------------------------------------

The above is a parable, whereof the writer will now expound the meaning.
Jocasta was no other than Miss Esmond, maid of honour to her Majesty. She
had told Mr. Esmond this little story of having met a gentleman,
somewhere, and forgetting his name, when the gentleman, with no such
malicious intentions as those of “Cymon” in the above fable, made the
answer simply as above; and we all laughed to think how little Mistress
Jocasta-Beatrix had profited by her artifice and precautions.

As for Cymon he was intended to represent yours and her very humble
servant, the writer of the apologue and of this story, which we had
printed on a _Spectator_ paper at Mr. Steele’s office, exactly as those
famous journals were printed, and which was laid on the table at breakfast
in place of the real newspaper. Mistress Jocasta, who had plenty of wit,
could not live without her _Spectator_ to her tea; and this sham
_Spectator_ was intended to convey to the young woman that she herself was
a flirt, and that Cymon was a gentleman of honour and resolution, seeing
all her faults, and determined to break the chains once and for ever.

For though enough hath been said about this love business already—enough,
at least, to prove to the writer’s heirs what a silly fond fool their old
grandfather was, who would like them to consider him a a very wise old
gentleman; yet not near all has been told concerning this matter, which,
if it were allowed to take in Esmond’s journal the space it occupied in
his time, would weary his kinsmen and women of a hundred years’ time
beyond all endurance; and form such a diary of folly and drivelling,
raptures and rage, as no man of ordinary vanity would like to leave behind
him.

The truth is, that, whether she laughed at him or encouraged him; whether
she smiled or was cold, and turned her smiles on another—worldly and
ambitious, as he knew her to be; hard and careless, as she seemed to grow
with her Court life, and a hundred admirers that came to her and left her;
Esmond, do what he would, never could get Beatrix out of his mind; thought
of her constantly at home or away. If he read his name in a _Gazette_, or
escaped the shot of a cannon-ball or a greater danger in the campaign, as
has happened to him more than once, the instant thought after the honour
achieved or the danger avoided, was “What will _she_ say of it?” “Will
this distinction or the idea of this peril elate her or touch her, so as
to be better inclined towards me?” He could no more help this passionate
fidelity of temper than he could help the eyes he saw with—one or the
other seemed a part of his nature; and knowing every one of her faults as
well as the keenest of her detractors, and the folly of an attachment to
such a woman, of which the fruition could never bring him happiness for
above a week, there was yet a charm about this Circe from which the poor
deluded gentleman could not free himself; and for a much longer period
than Ulysses (another middle-aged officer, who had travelled much, and
been in the foreign wars), Esmond felt himself enthralled and besotted by
the wiles of this enchantress. Quit her! He could no more quit her, as the
Cymon of this story was made to quit his false one, than he could lose his
consciousness of yesterday. She had but to raise her finger, and he would
come back from ever so far; she had but to say, “I have discarded
such-and-such an adorer,” and the poor infatuated wretch would be sure to
come and _rôder_ about her mother’s house, willing to be put on the ranks
of suitors, though he knew he might be cast off the next week. If he were
like Ulysses in his folly at least, she was in so far like Penelope, that
she had a crowd of suitors, and undid day after day and night after night
the handiwork of fascination and the web of coquetry with which she was
wont to allure and entertain them.

Part of her coquetry may have come from her position about the Court,
where the beautiful maid of honour was the light about which a thousand
beaux came and fluttered; where she was sure to have a ring of admirers
round her, crowding to listen to her repartees as much as to admire her
beauty; and where she spoke and listened to much free talk, such as one
never would have thought the lips or ears of Rachel Castlewood’s daughter
would have uttered or heard. When in waiting at Windsor or Hampton, the
Court ladies and gentlemen would be making riding parties together; Mrs.
Beatrix in a horseman’s coat and hat, the foremost after the staghounds
and over the park fences, a crowd of young fellows at her heels. If the
English country ladies at this time were the most pure and modest of any
ladies in the world—the English town and Court ladies permitted themselves
words and behaviour that were neither modest nor pure; and claimed, some
of them, a freedom which those who love that sex most would never wish to
grant them. The gentlemen of my family that follow after me (for I don’t
encourage the ladies to pursue any such studies), may read in the works of
Mr. Congreve, and Dr. Swift, and others, what was the conversation and
what the habits of our time.

The most beautiful woman in England in 1712, when Esmond returned to this
country, a lady of high birth, and though of no fortune to be sure, with a
thousand fascinations of wit and manners—Beatrix Esmond—was now
six-and-twenty years old, and Beatrix Esmond still. Of her hundred adorers
she had not chosen one for a husband; and those who had asked had been
jilted by her; and more still had left her. A succession of near ten
years’ crops of beauties had come up since her time, and had been reaped
by proper _husband_men, if we may make an agricultural simile, and had
been housed comfortably long ago. Her own contemporaries were sober
mothers by this time; girls with not a tithe of her charms, or her wit,
having made good matches, and now claiming precedence over the spinster
who but lately had derided and outshone them. The young beauties were
beginning to look down on Beatrix as an old maid, and sneer, and call her
one of Charles the Second’s ladies, and ask whether her portrait was not
in the Hampton Court Gallery? But still she reigned, at least in one man’s
opinion, superior over all the little misses that were the toasts of the
young lads; and in Esmond’s eyes was ever perfectly lovely and young.

Who knows how many were nearly made happy by possessing her, or, rather,
how many were fortunate in escaping this siren? ’Tis a marvel to think
that her mother was the purest and simplest woman in the whole world, and
that this girl should have been born from her. I am inclined to fancy, my
mistress, who never said a harsh word to her children (and but twice or
thrice only to one person), must have been too fond and pressing with the
maternal authority; for her son and her daughter both revolted early; nor
after their first flight from the nest could they ever be brought back
quite to the fond mother’s bosom. Lady Castlewood, and perhaps it was as
well, knew little of her daughter’s life and real thoughts. How was she to
apprehend what passed in queens’ antechambers and at Court tables? Mrs.
Beatrix asserted her own authority so resolutely that her mother quickly
gave in. The maid of honour had her own equipage; went from home and came
back at her own will: her mother was alike powerless to resist her or to
lead her, or to command or to persuade her.

She had been engaged once, twice, thrice, to be married, Esmond believed.
When he quitted home, it hath been said, she was promised to my Lord
Ashburnham, and now, on his return, behold his lordship was just married
to Lady Mary Butler, the Duke of Ormonde’s daughter, and his fine houses,
and twelve thousand a year of fortune, for which Miss Beatrix had rather
coveted him, was out of her power. To her Esmond could say nothing in
regard to the breaking of this match; and, asking his mistress about it,
all Lady Castlewood answered was: “Do not speak to me about it, Harry. I
cannot tell you how or why they parted, and I fear to inquire. I have told
you before, that with all her kindness, and wit, and generosity, and that
sort of splendour of nature she has; I can say but little good of poor
Beatrix, and look with dread at the marriage she will form. Her mind is
fixed on ambition only, and making a great figure: and, this achieved, she
will tire of it as she does of everything. Heaven help her husband,
whoever he shall be! My Lord Ashburnham was a most excellent young man,
gentle and yet manly, of very good parts, so they told me, and as my
little conversation would enable me to judge: and a kind temper—kind and
enduring I’m sure he must have been, from all that he had to endure. But
he quitted her at last, from some crowning piece of caprice or tyranny of
hers; and now he has married a young woman that will make him a thousand
times happier than my poor girl ever could.”

The rupture, whatever its cause was (I heard the scandal, but indeed shall
not take pains to repeat at length in this diary the trumpery coffee-house
story), caused a good deal of low talk; and Mr. Esmond was present at my
lord’s appearance at the birthday with his bride, over whom the revenge
that Beatrix took was to look so imperial and lovely that the modest
downcast young lady could not appear beside her, and Lord Ashburnham, who
had his reasons for wishing to avoid her, slunk away quite shamefaced, and
very early. This time his grace the Duke of Hamilton, whom Esmond had seen
about her before, was constant at Miss Beatrix’s side: he was one of the
most splendid gentlemen of Europe, accomplished by books, by travel, by
long command of the best company, distinguished as a statesman, having
been ambassador in King William’s time, and a noble speaker in the Scots
Parliament, where he had led the party that was against the union, and
though now five- or six-and-forty years of age, a gentleman so high in
stature, accomplished in wit, and favoured in person, that he might
pretend to the hand of any princess in Europe.

“Should you like the duke for a cousin?” says Mr. Secretary St. John,
whispering to Colonel Esmond in French; “it appears that the widower
consoles himself.”

But to return to our little _Spectator_ paper and the conversation which
grew out of it. Miss Beatrix at first was quite _bit_ (as the phrase of
that day was) and did not “smoke” the authorship of the story: indeed
Esmond had tried to imitate as well as he could Mr. Steele’s manner (as
for the other author of the _Spectator_, his prose style I think is
altogether inimitable); and Dick, who was the idlest and best-natured of
men, would have let the piece pass into his journal and go to posterity as
one of his own lucubrations, but that Esmond did not care to have a lady’s
name whom he loved sent forth to the world in a light so unfavourable.
Beatrix pished and psha’d over the paper; Colonel Esmond watching with no
little interest her countenance as she read it.

“How stupid your friend Mr. Steele becomes!” cries Miss Beatrix. “Epsom
and Tunbridge! Will he never have done with Epsom and Tunbridge, and with
beaux at church, and Jocastas and Lindamiras? Why does he not call women
Nelly and Betty, as their godfathers and godmothers did for them in their
baptism?”

“Beatrix, Beatrix!” says her mother, “speak gravely of grave things.”

“Mamma thinks the Church Catechism came from Heaven, I believe,” says
Beatrix, with a laugh, “and was brought down by a bishop from a mountain.
Oh, how I used to break my heart over it! Besides, I had a Popish
god-mother, mamma; why did you give me one?”

“I gave you the queen’s name,” says her mother, blushing. “And a very
pretty name it is,” said somebody else.

Beatrix went on reading—“Spell my name with a _y_—why, you wretch,” says
she, turning round to Colonel Esmond, “you have been telling my story to
Mr. Steele—or stop—you have written the paper yourself to turn me into
ridicule. For shame, sir!”

Poor Mr. Esmond felt rather frightened, and told a truth, which was
nevertheless an entire falsehood. “Upon my honour,” says he, “I have not
even read the _Spectator_ of this morning.” Nor had he, for that was not
the _Spectator_, but a sham newspaper put in its place.

She went on reading: her face rather flushed as she read. “No,” she says,
“I think you couldn’t have written it. I think it must have been Mr.
Steele when he was drunk—and afraid of his horrid vulgar wife. Whenever I
see an enormous compliment to a woman, and some outrageous panegyric about
female virtue, I always feel sure that the captain and his better half
have fallen out overnight, and that he has been brought home tipsy, or has
been found out in ——”

“Beatrix!” cries the Lady Castlewood.

“Well, mamma! Do not cry out before you are hurt. I am not going to say
anything wrong. I won’t give you more annoyance than I can help, you
pretty kind mamma. Yes, and your little Trix is a naughty little Trix, and
she leaves undone those things which she ought to have done, and does
those things which she ought not to have done, and there’s——well now—I
won’t go on. Yes, I will, unless you kiss me.” And with this the young
lady lays aside her paper, and runs up to her mother and performs a
variety of embraces with her ladyship, saying as plain as eyes could speak
to Mr. Esmond—“There, sir: would not _you_ like to play the very same
pleasant game?”

“Indeed, madam, I would,” says he.

“Would what?” asked Miss Beatrix.

“What you meant when you looked at me in that provoking way,” answers
Esmond.

“What a confessor!” cries Beatrix, with a laugh.

“What is it Henry would like, my dear?” asks her mother, the kind soul,
who was always thinking what we would like, and how she could please us.

The girl runs up to her—“Oh, you silly kind mamma,” she says, kissing her
again, “that’s what Harry would like;” and she broke out into a great
joyful laugh: and Lady Castlewood blushed as bashful as a maid of sixteen.

“Look at her, Harry,” whispers Beatrix, running up, and speaking in her
sweet low tones. “Doesn’t the blush become her? Isn’t she pretty? She
looks younger than I am: and I am sure she is a hundred million thousand
times better.”

Esmond’s kind mistress left the room, carrying her blushes away with her.

“If we girls at Court could grow such roses as that,” continues Beatrix,
with her laugh, “what wouldn’t we do to preserve ’em? We’d clip their
stalks and put ’em in salt and water. But those flowers don’t bloom at
Hampton Court and Windsor, Henry.” She paused for a minute, and the smile
fading away from her April face, gave place to a menacing shower of tears:
“Oh, how good she is, Harry,” Beatrix went on to say. “Oh, what a saint
she is! Her goodness frightens me. I’m not fit to live with her. I should
be better, I think, if she were not so perfect. She has had a great sorrow
in her life, and a great secret; and repented of it. It could not have
been my father’s death. She talks freely about that; nor could she have
loved him very much—though who knows what we women do love, and why?”

“What, and why, indeed,” says Mr. Esmond.

“No one knows,” Beatrix went on, without noticing this interruption except
by a look, “what my mother’s life is. She hath been at early prayer this
morning: she passes hours in her closet; if you were to follow her
thither, you would find her at prayers now. She tends the poor of the
place—the horrid dirty poor! She sits through the curate’s sermons—oh,
those dreary sermons! And you see, _on a beau dire_; but good as they are,
people like her are not fit to commune with us of the world. There is
always, as it were, a third person present, even when I and my mother are
alone. She can’t be frank with me quite; who is always thinking of the
next world, and of her guardian angel, perhaps that’s in company. Oh,
Harry, I’m jealous of that guardian angel!” here broke out Mistress
Beatrix. “It’s horrid, I know; but my mother’s life is all for Heaven, and
mine—all for earth. We can never be friends quite; and then, she cares
more for Frank’s little finger than she does for me—I know she does: and
she loves you, sir, a great deal too much; and I hate you for it. I would
have had her all to myself; but she wouldn’t. In my childhood, it was my
father she loved—(Oh, how could she? I remember him kind and handsome, but
so stupid, and not being able to speak after drinking wine). And then, it
was Frank; and now, it is Heaven and the clergyman. How I would have loved
her! From a child I used to be in a rage that she loved anybody but me;
but she loved you all better—all, I know she did. And now, she talks of
the blessed consolation of religion. Dear soul! she thinks she is happier
for believing, as she must, that we are all of us wicked and miserable
sinners; and this world is only a _pied à terre_ for the good, where they
stay for a night, as we do, coming from Walcote, at that great, dreary,
uncomfortable Hounslow inn, in those horrid beds. Oh, do you remember
those horrid beds?—and the chariot comes and fetches them to Heaven the
next morning.”

“Hush, Beatrix,” says Mr. Esmond.

“Hush, indeed. You are a hypocrite, too, Henry, with your grave airs and
your glum face. We are all hypocrites. Oh dear me! We are all alone,
alone, alone,” says poor Beatrix, her fair breast heaving with a sigh.

“It was I that writ every line of that paper, my dear,” says Mr. Esmond.
“You are not so worldly as you think yourself, Beatrix, and better than we
believe you. The good we have in us we doubt of; and the happiness that’s
to our hand we throw away. You bend your ambition on a great marriage and
establishment—and why? You’ll tire of them when you win them; and be no
happier with a coronet on your coach——”

“Than riding pillion with Lubin to market,” says Beatrix. “Thank you,
Lubin!”

“I’m a dismal shepherd, to be sure,” answers Esmond, with a blush; “and
require a nymph that can tuck my bed-clothes up, and make me water-gruel.
Well, Tom Lockwood can do that. He took me out of the fire upon his
shoulders, and nursed me through my illness as love will scarce ever do.
Only good wages, and a hope of my clothes, and the contents of my
portmanteau. How long was it that Jacob served an apprenticeship for
Rachel?”

“For mamma?” says Beatrix. “Is it mamma your honour wants, and that I
should have the happiness of calling you papa?”

Esmond blushed again. “I spoke of a Rachel that a shepherd courted five
thousand years ago; when shepherds were longer lived than now. And my
meaning was, that since I saw you first after our separation—a child you
were then——”

“And I put on my best stockings to captivate you, I remember, sir.”

“You have had my heart ever since then, such as it was; and such as you
were, I cared for no other woman. What little reputation I have won, it
was that you might be pleased with it: and, indeed, it is not much; and I
think a hundred fools in the army have got and deserved quite as much. Was
there something in the air of that dismal old Castlewood that made us all
gloomy, and dissatisfied, and lonely under its ruined old roof? We were
all so, even when together and united, as it seemed, following our
separate schemes, each as we sat round the table.”

“Dear, dreary old place!” cries Beatrix. “Mamma hath never had the heart
to go back thither since we left it, when—never mind how many years ago,”
and she flung back her curls, and looked over her fair shoulder at the
mirror superbly, as if she said, “Time, I defy you.”

“Yes,” says Esmond, who had the art, as she owned, of divining many of her
thoughts. “You can afford to look in the glass still; and only be pleased
by the truth it tells you. As for me, do you know what my scheme is? I
think of asking Frank to give me the Virginia estate King Charles gave our
grandfather.” (She gave a superb curtsy, as much as to say, “Our
grandfather, indeed! Thank you, Mr. Bastard.”) “Yes, I know you are
thinking of my bar-sinister, and so am I. A man cannot get over it in this
country; unless, indeed, he wears it across a king’s arms, when ’tis a
highly honourable coat: and I am thinking of retiring into the
plantations, and building myself a wigwam in the woods, and perhaps, if I
want company, suiting myself with a squaw. We will send your ladyship furs
over for the winter; and, when you are old, we’ll provide you with
tobacco. I am not quite clever enough, or not rogue enough—I know not
which—for the Old World. I may make a place for myself in the new, which
is not so full; and found a family there. When you are a mother yourself,
and a great lady, perhaps I shall send you over from the plantation some
day a little barbarian that is half Esmond half Mohock, and you will be
kind to him for his father’s sake, who was, after all, your kinsman; and
whom you loved a little.”

“What folly you are talking, Harry!” says Miss Beatrix, looking with her
great eyes.

“’Tis sober earnest,” says Esmond. And, indeed, the scheme had been
dwelling a good deal in his mind for some time past, and especially since
his return home, when he found how hopeless, and even degrading to
himself, his passion was. “No,” says he, then, “I have tried half a dozen
times now. I can bear being away from you well enough; but being with you
is intolerable” (another low curtsy on Mrs. Beatrix’s part), “and I will
go. I have enough to buy axes and guns for my men, and beads and blankets
for the savages; and I’ll go and live amongst them.”

“_Mon ami_,” she says, quite kindly, and taking Esmond’s hand, with an air
of great compassion. “You can’t think that in our position anything more
than our present friendship is possible. You are our elder brother—as such
we view you, pitying your misfortune, not rebuking you with it. Why, you
are old enough and grave enough to be our father. I always thought you a
hundred years old, Harry, with your solemn face and grave air. I feel as a
sister to you, and can no more. Isn’t that enough, sir?” And she put her
face quite close to his—who knows with what intention?

“It’s too much,” says Esmond, turning away. “I can’t bear this life, and
shall leave it. I shall stay, I think, to see you married, and then
freight a ship, and call it the _Beatrix_, and bid you all——”

Here the servant, flinging the door open, announced his grace the Duke of
Hamilton, and Esmond started back with something like an imprecation on
his lips, as the nobleman entered, looking splendid in his star and green
ribbon. He gave Mr. Esmond just that gracious bow which he would have
given to a lackey who fetched him a chair or took his hat, and seated
himself by Miss Beatrix, as the poor colonel went out of the room with a
hang-dog look.

Esmond’s mistress was in the lower room as he passed downstairs. She often
met him as he was coming away from Beatrix; and she beckoned him into the
apartment.

“Has she told you, Harry?” Lady Castlewood said.

“She has been very frank—very,” says Esmond.

“But—but about what is going to happen?”

“What is going to happen?” says he, his heart beating.

“His grace the Duke of Hamilton has proposed to her,” says my lady. “He
made his offer yesterday. They will marry as soon as his mourning is over;
and you have heard his grace is appointed ambassador to Paris; and the
ambassadress goes with him.”



Chapter IV. Beatrix’s New Suitor


The gentleman whom Beatrix had selected was, to be sure, twenty years
older than the colonel, with whom she quarrelled for being too old; but
this one was but a nameless adventurer, and the other the greatest duke in
Scotland, with pretensions even to a still higher title. My Lord Duke of
Hamilton had, indeed, every merit belonging to a gentleman, and he had had
the time to mature his accomplishments fully, being upwards of fifty years
old when Madam Beatrix selected him for a bridegroom. Duke Hamilton, then
Earl of Arran, had been educated at the famous Scottish University of
Glasgow, and, coming to London, became a great favourite of Charles the
Second, who made him a lord of his bedchamber, and afterwards appointed
him ambassador to the French king, under whom the earl served two
campaigns as his Majesty’s aide de camp; and he was absent on this service
when King Charles died.

King James continued my lord’s promotion—made him master of the wardrobe,
and colonel of the Royal Regiment of Horse; and his lordship adhered
firmly to King James, being of the small company that never quitted that
unfortunate monarch till his departure out of England; and then it was, in
1688, namely, that he made the friendship with Colonel Francis Esmond,
that had always been, more or less, maintained in the two families.

The earl professed a great admiration for King William always, but never
could give him his allegiance; and was engaged in more than one of the
plots in the late great king’s reign, which always ended in the plotters’
discomfiture, and generally in their pardon, by the magnanimity of the
king. Lord Arran was twice prisoner in the Tower during this reign,
undauntedly saying, when offered his release, upon parole not to engage
against King William, that he would not give his word, because “he was
sure he could not keep it”; but, nevertheless, he was both times
discharged without any trial; and the king bore this noble enemy so little
malice, that when his mother, the Duchess of Hamilton, of her own right,
resigned her claim on her husband’s death, the earl was, by patent signed
at Loo, 1690, created Duke of Hamilton, Marquis of Clydesdale, and Earl of
Arran, with precedency from the original creation. His grace took the
oaths and his seat in the Scottish Parliament in 1700: was famous there
for his patriotism and eloquence, especially in the debates about the
Union Bill, which Duke Hamilton opposed with all his strength, though he
would not go the length of the Scottish gentry, who were for resisting it
by force of arms. ’Twas said he withdrew his opposition all of a sudden,
and in consequence of letters from the king at St. Germains, who entreated
him on his allegiance not to thwart the queen, his sister, in this
measure; and the duke, being always bent upon effecting the king’s return
to his kingdom through a reconciliation between his Majesty and Queen
Anne, and quite averse to his landing with arms and French troops, held
aloof, and kept out of Scotland during the time when the Chevalier de St.
George’s descent from Dunkirk was projected, passing his time in England
in his great estate of Staffordshire.

When the Whigs went out of office in 1710, the queen began to show his
grace the very greatest marks of her favour. He was created Duke of
Brandon and Baron of Dutton in England; having the Thistle already
originally bestowed on him by King James the Second, his grace was now
promoted to the honour of the Garter—a distinction so great and
illustrious, that no subject hath ever borne them hitherto together. When
this objection was made to her Majesty, she was pleased to say, “Such a
subject as the Duke of Hamilton has a pre-eminent claim to every mark of
distinction which a crowned head can confer. I will henceforth wear both
orders myself.”

At the Chapter held at Windsor in October, 1712, the duke and other
knights, including Lord-Treasurer, the new-created Earl of Oxford and
Mortimer, were installed; and a few days afterwards his grace was
appointed Ambassador-Extraordinary to France, and his equipages, plate,
and liveries commanded, of the most sumptuous kind, not only for his
excellency the ambassador, but for her excellency the ambassadress, who
was to accompany him. Her arms were already quartered on the coach panels,
and her brother was to hasten over on the appointed day to give her away.

His lordship was a widower, having married, in 1698, Elizabeth, daughter
of Digby, Lord Gerard, by which marriage great estates came into the
Hamilton family; and out of these estates came, in part, that tragic
quarrel which ended the duke’s career.

                  -------------------------------------

From the loss of a tooth to that of a mistress there’s no pang that is not
bearable. The apprehension is much more cruel than the certainty; and we
make up our mind to the misfortune when ’tis irremediable, part with the
tormentor, and mumble our crust on t’other side of the jaws. I think
Colonel Esmond was relieved when a ducal coach-and-six came and whisked
his charmer away out of his reach, and placed her in a higher sphere. As
you have seen the nymph in the opera-machine go up to the clouds at the
end of the piece where Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, and all the divine company
of Olympians are seated, and quaver out her last song as a goddess: so
when this portentous elevation was accomplished in the Esmond family, I am
not sure that every one of us did not treat the divine Beatrix with
special honours; at least, the saucy little beauty carried her head with a
toss of supreme authority, and assumed a touch-me-not air, which all her
friends very good-humouredly bowed to.

An old army acquaintance of Colonel Esmond’s, honest Tom Trett, who had
sold his company, married a wife, and turned merchant in the city, was
dreadfully gloomy for a long time, though living in a fine house on the
river, and carrying on a great trade to all appearance. At length Esmond
saw his friend’s name in the _Gazette_ as a bankrupt; and a week after
this circumstance my bankrupt walks into Mr. Esmond’s lodging with a face
perfectly radiant with good humour, and as jolly and careless as when they
had sailed from Southampton ten years before for Vigo. “This bankruptcy,”
says Tom, “has been hanging over my head these three years; the thought
hath prevented my sleeping, and I have looked at poor Polly’s head on
t’other pillow, and then towards my razor on the table, and thought to put
an end to myself, and so give my woes the slip. But now we are bankrupts:
Tom Trett pays as many shillings in the pound as he can; his wife has a
little cottage at Fulham, and her fortune secured to herself. I am afraid
neither of bailiff nor of creditor; and for the last six nights have slept
easy.” So it was that when Fortune shook her wings and left him, honest
Tom cuddled himself up in his ragged virtue, and fell asleep.

Esmond did not tell his friend how much his story applied to Esmond too;
but he laughed at it, and used it; and having fairly struck his docket in
this love transaction, determined to put a cheerful face on his
bankruptcy. Perhaps Beatrix was a little offended at his gaiety. “Is this
the way, sir, that you receive the announcement of your misfortune,” says
she, “and do you come smiling before me as if you were glad to be rid of
me?”

Esmond would not be put off from his good humour, but told her the story
of Tom Trett and his bankruptcy. “I have been hankering after the grapes
on the wall,” says he, “and lost my temper because they were beyond my
reach; was there any wonder? They’re gone now, and another has them—a
taller man than your humble servant has won them.” And the colonel made
his cousin a low bow.

“A taller man, cousin Esmond!” says she. “A man of spirit would have
scaled the wall, sir, and seized them! A man of courage would have fought
for ’em, not gaped for ’em.”

“A duke has but to gape and they drop into his mouth,” says Esmond, with
another low bow.

“Yes, sir,” says she, “a duke _is_ a taller man than you. And why should I
not be grateful to one such as his grace, who gives me his heart and his
great name? It is a great gift he honours me with; I know ’tis a bargain
between us; and I accept it, and will do my utmost to perform my part of
it. ’Tis no question of sighing and philandering between a nobleman of his
grace’s age and a girl who hath little of that softness in her nature. Why
should I not own that I am ambitious, Harry Esmond; and if it be no sin in
a man to covet honour, why should a woman too not desire it? Shall I be
frank with you, Harry, and say that if you had not been down on your
knees, and so humble, you might have fared better with me? A woman of my
spirit, cousin, is to be won by gallantry, and not by sighs and rueful
faces. All the time you are worshipping and singing hymns to me, I know
very well I am no goddess, and grow weary of the incense. So would you
have been weary of the goddess too—when she was called Mrs. Esmond, and
got out of humour because she had not pin-money enough, and was forced to
go about in an old gown. Eh! cousin, a goddess in a mob-cap, that has to
make her husband’s gruel, ceases to be divine—I am sure of it. I should
have been sulky and scolded; and of all the proud wretches in the world
Mr. Esmond is the proudest, let me tell him that. You never fall into a
passion; but you never forgive, I think. Had you been a great man, you
might have been good humoured; but being nobody, sir, you are too great a
man for me; and I’m afraid of you, cousin—there; and I won’t worship you,
and you’ll never be happy except with a woman who will. Why, after I
belonged to you, and after one of my tantrums, you would have put the
pillow over my head some night, and smothered me, as the black man does
the woman in the play that you’re so fond of. What’s the creature’s
name?—Desdemona. You would, you little black-eyed Othello!”

“I think I should, Beatrix,” says the colonel.

“And I want no such ending. I intend to live to be a hundred, and to go to
ten thousand routs and balls, and to play cards every night of my life
till the year eighteen hundred. And I like to be the first of my company,
sir; and I like flattery and compliments, and you give me none; and I like
to be made to laugh, sir, and who’s to laugh at _your_ dismal face, I
should like to know; and I like a coach-and-six or a coach-and-eight; and
I like diamonds, and a new gown every week; and people to say—‘That’s the
duchess—How well her grace looks—Make way for Madame l’Ambassadrice
d’Angleterre—Call her excellency’s people’—that’s what I like. And as for
you, you want a woman to bring your slippers and cap, and to sit at your
feet, and cry, ‘O caro! O bravo!’ whilst you read your Shakespeares, and
Miltons, and stuff. Mamma would have been the wife for you, had you been a
little older, though you look ten years older than she does—you do, you
glum-faced, blue-bearded, little old man! You might have sat, like Darby
and Joan, and flattered each other; and billed and cooed like a pair of
old pigeons on a perch. I want my wings and to use them, sir.” And she
spread out her beautiful arms, as if indeed she could fly off like the
pretty “Gawrie”, whom the man in the story was enamoured of.

“And what will your Peter Wilkins say to your flight?” says Esmond, who
never admired this fair creature more than when she rebelled and laughed
at him.

“A duchess knows her place,” says she, with a laugh. “Why, I have a son
already made for me, and thirty years old (my Lord Arran), and four
daughters. How they will scold, and what a rage they will be in, when I
come to take the head of the table! But I give them only a month to be
angry; at the end of that time they shall love me every one, and so shall
Lord Arran, and so shall all his grace’s Scots vassals and followers in
the Highlands. I’m bent on it; and, when I take a thing in my head, ’tis
done. His grace is the greatest gentleman in Europe, and I’ll try and make
him happy; and, when the king comes back, you may count on my protection,
Cousin Esmond—for come back the king will and shall: and I’ll bring him
back from Versailles, if he comes under my hoop.”

“I hope the world will make you happy, Beatrix,” says Esmond, with a sigh.
“You’ll be Beatrix till you are my lady duchess—will you not? I shall then
make your grace my very lowest bow.”

“None of these sighs and this satire, cousin,” she says. “I take his
grace’s great bounty thankfully—yes, thankfully; and will wear his honours
becomingly. I do not say he hath touched my heart; but he has my
gratitude, obedience, admiration—I have told him that, and no more; and
with that his noble heart is content. I have told him all—even the story
of that poor creature that I was engaged to—and that I could not love; and
I gladly gave his word back to him, and jumped for joy to get back my own.
I am twenty-five years old.”

“Twenty-six, my dear,” says Esmond.

“Twenty-five, sir—I choose to be twenty-five; and, in eight years, no man
hath ever touched my heart. Yes—you did once, for a little, Harry, when
you came back after Lille, and engaging with that murderer, Mohun, and
saving Frank’s life. I thought I could like you; and mamma begged me hard,
on her knees, and I did—for a day. But the old chill came over me, Henry,
and the old fear of you and your melancholy; and I was glad when you went
away, and engaged with my Lord Ashburnham, that I might hear no more of
you, that’s the truth. You are too good for me somehow. I could not make
you happy, and should break my heart in trying, and not being able to love
you. But if you had asked me when we gave you the sword, you might have
had me, sir, and we both should have been miserable by this time. I talked
with that silly lord all night just to vex you and mamma, and I succeeded,
didn’t I? How frankly we can talk of these things! It seems a thousand
years ago: and, though we are here sitting in the same room, there’s a
great wall between us. My dear, kind, faithful, gloomy old cousin! I can
like you now, and admire you too, sir, and say that you are brave, and
very kind, and very true, and a fine gentleman for all—for all your little
mishap at your birth,” says she, wagging her arch head.

“And now, sir,” says she, with a curtsy, “we must have no more talk except
when mamma is by, as his grace is with us; for he does not half like you,
cousin, and is as jealous as the black man in your favourite play.”

Though the very kindness of the words stabbed Mr. Esmond with the keenest
pang, he did not show his sense of the wound by any look of his (as
Beatrix, indeed, afterwards owned to him), but said, with a perfect
command of himself and an easy smile, “The interview must not end yet, my
dear, until I have had my last word. Stay, here comes your mother” (indeed
she came in here with her sweet anxious face, and Esmond, going up, kissed
her hand respectfully). “My dear lady may hear, too, the last words, which
are no secrets, and are only a parting benediction accompanying a present
for your marriage from an old gentleman your guardian; for I feel as if I
was the guardian of all the family, and an old, old fellow that is fit to
be the grandfather of you all; and in this character let me make my lady
duchess her wedding present. They are the diamonds my father’s widow left
me. I had thought Beatrix might have had them a year ago; but they are
good enough for a duchess, though not bright enough for the handsomest
woman in the world.” And he took the case out of his pocket in which the
jewels were, and presented them to his cousin.

She gave a cry of delight, for the stones were indeed very handsome, and
of great value; and the next minute the necklace was where Belinda’s cross
is in Mr. Pope’s admirable poem, and glittering on the whitest and most
perfectly-shaped neck in all England.

The girl’s delight at receiving these trinkets was so great, that after
rushing to the looking-glass and examining the effect they produced upon
that fair neck which they surrounded, Beatrix was running back with her
arms extended, and was perhaps for paying her cousin with a price, that he
would have liked no doubt to receive from those beautiful rosy lips of
hers, but at this moment the door opened, and his grace the bridegroom
elect was announced.

He looked very black upon Mr. Esmond, to whom he made a very low bow
indeed, and kissed the hand of each lady in his most ceremonious manner.
He had come in his chair from the palace hard by, and wore his two stars
of the Garter and the Thistle.

“Look, my lord duke,” says Mrs. Beatrix, advancing to him, and showing the
diamonds on her breast.

“Diamonds,” says his grace. “Hm! they seem pretty.”

“They are a present on my marriage,” says Beatrix.

“From her Majesty?” asks the duke. “The queen is very good.”

“From my cousin Henry—from our cousin Henry”—cry both the ladies in a
breath.

“I have not the honour of knowing the gentleman. I thought that my Lord
Castlewood had no brother: and that on your ladyship’s side there were no
nephews.”

“From our cousin, Colonel Henry Esmond, my lord,” says Beatrix, taking the
colonel’s hand very bravely—“who was left guardian to us by our father,
and who has a hundred times shown his love and friendship for our family.”

“The Duchess of Hamilton receives no diamonds but from her husband,
madam,” says the duke—“may I pray you to restore these to Mr. Esmond?”

“Beatrix Esmond may receive a present from our kinsman and benefactor, my
lord duke,” says Lady Castlewood, with an air of great dignity. “She is my
daughter yet: and if her mother sanctions the gift—no one else hath the
right to question it.”

“Kinsman and benefactor!” says the duke. “I know of no kinsman: and I do
not choose that my wife should have for benefactor a——”

“My lord,” says Colonel Esmond.

“I am not here to bandy words,” says his grace: “frankly I tell you that
your visits to this house are too frequent, and that I choose no presents
for the Duchess of Hamilton from gentlemen that bear a name they have no
right to.”

“My lord!” breaks out Lady Castlewood, “Mr. Esmond hath the best right to
that name of any man in the world: and ’tis as old and as honourable as
your grace’s.”

My lord duke smiled, and looked as if Lady Castlewood was mad, that was so
talking to him.

“If I called him benefactor,” said my mistress, “it is because he has been
so to us—yes, the noblest, the truest, the bravest, the dearest of
benefactors. He would have saved my husband’s life from Mohun’s sword. He
did save my boy’s, and defended him from that villain. Are those no
benefits?”

“I ask Colonel Esmond’s pardon,” says his grace, if possible more haughty
than before; “I would say not a word that should give him offence, and
thank him for his kindness to your ladyship’s family. My Lord Mohun and I
are connected, you know, by marriage—though neither by blood nor
friendship; but I must repeat what I said, that my wife can receive no
presents from Colonel Esmond.”

“My daughter may receive presents from the Head of our House: my daughter
may thankfully take kindness from her father’s, her mother’s, her
brother’s dearest friend; and be grateful for one more benefit besides the
thousand we owe him,” cries Lady Esmond. “What is a string of diamond
stones compared to that affection he hath given us—our dearest preserver
and benefactor? We owe him not only Frank’s life, but our all—yes, our
all,” says my mistress, with a heightened colour and a trembling voice.
“The title we bear is his, if he would claim it. ’Tis we who have no right
to our name: not he that’s too great for it. He sacrificed his name at my
dying lord’s bedside—sacrificed it to my orphan children; gave up rank and
honour because he loved us so nobly. His father was Viscount of Castlewood
and Marquis of Esmond before him; and he is his father’s lawful son and
true heir, and we are the recipients of his bounty, and he the chief of a
house that’s as old as your own. And if he is content to forgo his name
that my child may bear it, we love him and honour him and bless him under
whatever name he bears”—and here the fond and affectionate creature would
have knelt to Esmond again, but that he prevented her; and Beatrix,
running up to her with a pale face and a cry of alarm, embraced her and
said, “Mother, what is this?”

“’Tis a family secret, my lord duke,” says Colonel Esmond: “poor Beatrix
knew nothing of it: nor did my lady till a year ago. And I have as good a
right to resign my title as your grace’s mother to abdicate hers to you.”

“I should have told everything to the Duke of Hamilton,” said my mistress,
“had his grace applied to me for my daughter’s hand, and not to Beatrix. I
should have spoken with you this very day in private, my lord, had not
your words brought about this sudden explanation—and now ’tis fit Beatrix
should hear it; and know, as I would have all the world know, what we owe
to our kinsman and patron.”

And then in her touching way, and having hold of her daughter’s hand, and
speaking to her rather than my lord duke, Lady Castlewood told the story
which you know already—lauding up to the skies her kinsman’s behaviour. On
his side Mr. Esmond explained the reasons that seemed quite sufficiently
cogent with him, why the succession in the family, as at present it stood,
should not be disturbed; and he should remain, as he was, Colonel Esmond.

“And Marquis of Esmond, my lord,” says his grace, with a low bow. “Permit
me to ask your lordship’s pardon for words that were uttered in ignorance;
and to beg for the favour of your friendship. To be allied to you, sir,
must be an honour under whatever name you are known” (so his grace was
pleased to say): “and in return for the splendid present you make my wife,
your kinswoman, I hope you will please to command any service that James
Douglas can perform. I shall never be easy until I repay you a part of my
obligations at least; and ere very long, and with the mission her Majesty
hath given me,” says the duke, “that may perhaps be in my power. I shall
esteem it as a favour, my lord, if Colonel Esmond will give away the
bride.”

“And if he will take the usual payment in advance, he is welcome,” says
Beatrix, stepping up to him; and as Esmond kissed her, she whispered, “Oh,
why didn’t I know you before?”

My lord duke was as hot as a flame at this salute, but said never a word:
Beatrix made him a proud curtsy, and the two ladies quitted the room
together.

“When does your excellency go for Paris?” asks Colonel Esmond.

“As soon after the ceremony as may be,” his grace answered. “’Tis fixed
for the first of December: it cannot be sooner. The equipage will not be
ready till then. The queen intends the embassy should be very grand—and I
have law business to settle. That ill-omened Mohun has come, or is coming,
to London again: we are in a lawsuit about my late Lord Gerard’s property;
and he hath sent to me to meet him.”



Chapter V. Mohun Appears For The Last Time In This History


Besides my Lord Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, who, for family reasons, had
kindly promised his protection and patronage to Colonel Esmond, he had
other great friends in power now, both able and willing to assist him, and
he might, with such allies, look forward to as fortunate advancement in
civil life at home as he had got rapid promotion abroad. His grace was
magnanimous enough to offer to take Mr. Esmond as secretary on his Paris
embassy, but no doubt he intended that proposal should be rejected; at any
rate, Esmond could not bear the thoughts of attending his mistress farther
than the church-door after her marriage, and so declined that offer which
his generous rival made him.

Other gentlemen, in power, were liberal at least of compliments and
promises to Colonel Esmond. Mr. Harley, now become my Lord Oxford and
Mortimer, and installed Knight of the Garter on the same day as his grace
of Hamilton had received the same honour, sent to the colonel to say that
a seat in Parliament should be at his disposal presently, and Mr. St. John
held out many flattering hopes of advancement to the colonel when he
should enter the House. Esmond’s friends were all successful, and the most
successful and triumphant of all was his dear old commander, General Webb,
who was now appointed Lieutenant-General of the Land Forces, and received
with particular honour by the ministry, by the queen, and the people out
of doors, who huzza’d the brave chief when they used to see him in his
chariot, going to the House or to the Drawing-room, or hobbling on foot to
his coach from St. Stephen’s upon his glorious old crutch and stick, and
cheered him as loud as they had ever done Marlborough.

That great duke was utterly disgraced; and honest old Webb dated all his
grace’s misfortunes from Wynendael, and vowed that Fate served the traitor
right. Duchess Sarah had also gone to ruin; she had been forced to give up
her keys, and her places, and her pensions:—“Ah, ah!” says Webb, “she
would have locked up three millions of French crowns with her keys had I
but been knocked on the head, but I stopped that convoy at Wynendael.” Our
enemy Cardonnel was turned out of the House of Commons (along with Mr.
Walpole) for malversation of public money. Cadogan lost his place of
Lieutenant of the Tower. Marlborough’s daughters resigned their posts of
ladies of the bedchamber; and so complete was the duke’s disgrace, that
his son-in-law, Lord Bridgewater, was absolutely obliged to give up his
lodging at St. James’s, and had his half-pension, as Master of the Horse,
taken away. But I think the lowest depth of Marlborough’s fall was when he
humbly sent to ask General Webb when he might wait upon him; he who had
commanded the stout old general, who had injured him and sneered at him,
who had kept him dangling in his antechamber, who could not even after his
great service condescend to write him a letter in his own hand. The nation
was as eager for peace, as ever it had been hot for war. The Prince of
Savoy came amongst us, had his audience of the queen, and got his famous
Sword of Honour, and strove with all his force to form a Whig party
together, to bring over the young Prince of Hanover—to do anything which
might prolong the war, and consummate the ruin of the old sovereign whom
he hated so implacably. But the nation was tired of the struggle; so
completely wearied of it that not even our defeat at Denain could rouse us
into any anger, though such an action so lost two years before, would have
set all England in a fury. ’Twas easy to see that the great Marlborough
was not with the army. Eugene was obliged to fall back in a rage, and
forgo the dazzling revenge of his life. ’Twas in vain the duke’s side
asked, “Would we suffer our arms to be insulted? Would we not send back
the only champion who could repair our honour?” The nation had had its
bellyful of fighting; nor could taunts or outcries goad up our Britons any
more.

For a statesman, that was always prating of liberty, and had the grandest
philosophic maxims in his mouth, it must be owned that Mr. St. John
sometimes rather acted like a Turkish than a Greek philosopher, and
especially fell foul of one unfortunate set of men, the men of letters,
with a tyranny a little extraordinary in a man who professed to respect
their calling so much. The literary controversy at this time was very
bitter, the Government side was the winning one, the popular one, and I
think might have been the merciful one. ’Twas natural that the Opposition
should be peevish and cry out; some men did so from their hearts, admiring
the Duke of Marlborough’s prodigious talents, and deploring the disgrace
of the greatest general the world ever knew: ’twas the stomach that caused
other patriots to grumble, and such men cried out because they were poor,
and paid to do so. Against these my Lord Bolingbroke never showed the
slightest mercy, whipping a dozen into prison or into the pillory without
the least commiseration.

From having been a man of arms Mr. Esmond had now come to be a man of
letters, but on a safer side than that in which the above-cited poor
fellows ventured their liberties and ears. There was no danger on ours,
which was the winning side; besides, Mr. Esmond pleased himself by
thinking that he writ like a gentleman if he did not always succeed as a
wit.

Of the famous wits of that age, who have rendered Queen Anne’s reign
illustrious, and whose works will be in all Englishmen’s hands in ages yet
to come, Mr. Esmond saw many, but at public places chiefly; never having a
great intimacy with any of them, except with honest Dick Steele and Mr.
Addison, who parted company with Esmond, however, when that gentleman
became a declared Tory, and lived on close terms with the leading persons
of that party. Addison kept himself to a few friends, and very rarely
opened himself except in their company. A man more upright and
conscientious than he, it was not possible to find in public life, and one
whose conversation was so various, easy, and delightful. Writing now in my
mature years, I own that I think Addison’s politics were the right, and
were my time to come over again, I would be a Whig in England and not a
Tory; but with people that take a side in politics, ’tis men rather than
principles that commonly bind them. A kindness or a slight puts a man
under one flag or the other, and he marches with it to the end of the
campaign. Esmond’s master in war was injured by Marlborough, and hated
him: and the lieutenant fought the quarrels of his leader. Webb coming to
London was used as a weapon by Marlborough’s enemies (and true steel he
was, that honest chief); nor was his aide de camp, Mr. Esmond, an
unfaithful or unworthy partisan. ’Tis strange here, and on a foreign soil,
and in a land that is independent in all but the name (for that the North
American colonies shall remain dependants on yonder little island for
twenty years more, I never can think), to remember how the nation at home
seemed to give itself up to the domination of one or other aristocratic
party, and took a Hanoverian king, or a French one, according as either
prevailed. And while the Tories, the October Club gentlemen, the High
Church parsons that held by the Church of England, were for having a
Papist king, for whom many of their Scottish and English leaders, firm
churchmen all, laid down their lives with admirable loyalty and devotion;
they were governed by men who had notoriously no religion at all, but used
it as they would use any opinion for the purpose of forwarding their own
ambition. The Whigs, on the other hand, who professed attachment to
religion and liberty too, were compelled to send to Holland or Hanover for
a monarch around whom they could rally. A strange series of compromises is
that English history; compromise of principle, compromise of party,
compromise of worship! The lovers of English freedom and independence
submitted their religious consciences to an Act of Parliament; could not
consolidate their liberty without sending to Zell or the Hague for a king
to live under; and could not find amongst the proudest people in the world
a man speaking their own language, and understanding their laws, to govern
them. The Tory and High Church patriots were ready to die in defence of a
Papist family that had sold us to France; the great Whig nobles, the
sturdy Republican recusants who had cut off Charles Stuart’s head for
treason, were fain to accept a king whose title came to him through a
royal grandmother, whose own royal grandmother’s head had fallen under
Queen Bess’s hatchet. And our proud English nobles sent to a petty German
town for a monarch to come and reign in London; and our prelates kissed
the ugly hands of his Dutch mistresses, and thought it no dishonour. In
England you can but belong to one party or t’other, and you take the house
you live in with all its encumbrances, its retainers, its antique
discomforts, and ruins even; you patch up, but you never build up anew.
Will we of the New World submit much longer, even nominally, to this
ancient British superstition? There are signs of the times which make me
think that ere long we shall care as little about King George here, and
peers temporal and peers spiritual, as we do for King Canute or the
Druids.

This chapter began about the wits, my grandson may say, and hath wandered
very far from their company. The pleasantest of the wits I knew were the
Doctors Garth and Arbuthnot, and Mr. Gay, the author of _Trivia_, the most
charming kind soul that ever laughed at a joke or cracked a bottle. Mr.
Prior I saw, and he was the earthen pot swimming with the pots of brass
down the stream, and always and justly frightened lest he should break in
the voyage. I met him both at London and Paris, where he was performing
piteous congees to the Duke of Shrewsbury, not having courage to support
the dignity which his undeniable genius and talent had won him, and
writing coaxing letters to Secretary St. John, and thinking about his
plate and his place, and what on earth should become of him should his
party go out. The famous Mr. Congreve I saw a dozen of times at Button’s,
a splendid wreck of a man, magnificently attired, and though gouty, and
almost blind, bearing a brave face against fortune.

The great Mr. Pope (of whose prodigious genius I have no words to express
my admiration) was quite a puny lad at this time, appearing seldom in
public places. There were hundreds of men, wits, and pretty fellows
frequenting the theatres and coffee-houses of that day—whom _nunc
prescribere longum est_. Indeed I think the most brilliant of that sort I
ever saw was not till fifteen years afterwards, when I paid my last visit
in England, and met young Harry Fielding, son of the Fielding that served
in Spain and afterwards in Flanders with us, and who for fun and humour
seemed to top them all. As for the famous Dr. Swift, I can say of him,
“_vidi tantum_.” He was in London all these years up to the death of the
queen; and in a hundred public places where I saw him, but no more; he
never missed Court of a Sunday, where once or twice he was pointed out to
your grandfather. He would have sought me out eagerly enough had I been a
great man with a title to my name, or a star on my coat. At Court the
doctor had no eyes but for the very greatest. Lord Treasurer and St. John
used to call him Jonathan, and they paid him with this cheap coin for the
service they took of him. He writ their lampoons, fought their enemies,
flogged and bullied in their service, and it must be owned with a
consummate skill and fierceness. ’Tis said he hath lost his intellect now,
and forgotten his wrongs and his rage against mankind. I have always
thought of him and of Marlborough as the two greatest men of that age. I
have read his books (who doth not know them?) here in our calm woods, and
imagine a giant to myself as I think of him, a lonely fallen Prometheus,
groaning as the vulture tears him. Prometheus I saw, but when first I ever
had any words with him, the giant stepped out of a sedan-chair in the
Poultry, whither he had come with a tipsy Irish servant parading before
him, who announced him, bawling out his reverence’s name, whilst his
master below was as yet haggling with the chairman. I disliked this Mr.
Swift, and heard many a story about him, of his conduct to men, and his
words to women. He could flatter the great as much as he could bully the
weak; and Mr. Esmond, being younger and hotter in that day than now, was
determined, should he ever meet this dragon, not to run away from his
teeth and his fire.

Men have all sorts of motives which carry them onwards in life, and are
driven into acts of desperation, or it may be of distinction, from a
hundred different causes. There was one comrade of Esmond’s, an honest
little Irish lieutenant of Handyside’s, who owed so much money to a camp
sutler, that he began to make love to the man’s daughter, intending to pay
his debt that way; and at the battle of Malplaquet, flying away from the
debt and lady too, he rushed so desperately on the French lines, that he
got his company; and came a captain out of the action, and had to marry
the sutler’s daughter after all, who brought him his cancelled debt to her
father as poor Rogers’s fortune. To run out of the reach of bill and
marriage, he ran on the enemy’s pikes; and as these did not kill him he
was thrown back upon t’other horn of his dilemma. Our great duke at the
same battle was fighting, not the French, but the Tories in England; and
risking his life and the army’s, not for his country but for his pay and
places; and for fear of his wife at home, that only being in life whom he
dreaded. I have asked about men in my own company (new drafts of poor
country boys were perpetually coming over to us during the wars, and
brought from the ploughshare to the sword), and found that a half of them
under the flags were driven thither on account of a woman: one fellow was
jilted by his mistress and took the shilling in despair; another jilted
the girl, and fled from her and the parish to the tents where the law
could not disturb him. Why go on particularizing? What can the sons of
Adam and Eve expect, but to continue in that course of love and trouble
their father and mother set out on? O my grandson! I am drawing nigh to
the end of that period of my history, when I was acquainted with the great
world of England and Europe, my years are past the Hebrew poet’s limit,
and I say unto thee, all my troubles and joys too, for that matter, have
come from a woman; as thine will when thy destined course begins. ’Twas a
woman that made a soldier of me, that set me intriguing afterwards; I
believe I would have spun smocks for her had she so bidden me; what
strength I had in my head I would have given her; hath not every man in
his degree had his Omphale and Delilah? Mine befooled me on the banks of
the Thames, and in dear old England; thou mayest find thine own by
Rappahannoc.

To please that woman then I tried to distinguish myself as a soldier, and
afterwards as a wit and a politician; as to please another I would have
put on a black cassock and a pair of bands, and had done so but that a
superior fate intervened to defeat that project. And I say, I think the
world is like Captain Esmond’s company I spoke of anon; and, could you see
every man’s career in life, you would find a woman clogging him; or
clinging round his march and stopping him; or cheering him and goading
him; or beckoning him out of her chariot, so that he goes up to her, and
leaves the race to be run without him; or bringing him the apple, and
saying “Eat”; or fetching him the daggers and whispering “Kill! yonder
lies Duncan, and a crown, and an opportunity”.

Your grandfather fought with more effect as a politician than as a wit;
and having private animosities and grievances of his own and his general’s
against the great duke in command of the army, and more information on
military matters than most writers, who had never seen beyond the fire of
a tobacco-pipe at Wills’s, he was enabled to do good service for that
cause which he embarked in, and for Mr. St. John and his party. But he
disdained the abuse in which some of the Tory writers indulged; for
instance, Dr. Swift, who actually chose to doubt the Duke of Marlborough’s
courage, and was pleased to hint that his grace’s military capacity was
doubtful: nor were Esmond’s performances worse for the effect they were
intended to produce (though no doubt they could not injure the Duke of
Marlborough nearly so much in the public eyes as the malignant attacks of
Swift did, which were carefully directed so as to blacken and degrade
him), because they were writ openly and fairly by Mr. Esmond, who made no
disguise of them, who was now out of the army, and who never attacked the
prodigious courage and talents, only the selfishness and rapacity, of the
chief.

The colonel then, having writ a paper for one of the Tory journals, called
the _Post-Boy_ (a letter upon Bouchain, that the town talked about for two
whole days, when the appearance of an Italian singer supplied a fresh
subject for conversation), and having business at the Exchange, where Mrs.
Beatrix wanted a pair of gloves or a fan very likely, Esmond went to
correct his paper, and was sitting at the printer’s, when the famous Dr.
Swift came in, his Irish fellow with him that used to walk before his
chair, and bawled out his master’s name with great dignity.

Mr. Esmond was waiting for the printer too, whose wife had gone to the
tavern to fetch him, and was meantime engaged in drawing a picture of a
soldier on horseback for a dirty little pretty boy of the printer’s wife,
whom she had left behind her.

“I presume you are the editor of the _Post-Boy_, sir?” says the doctor, in
a grating voice that had an Irish twang; and he looked at the colonel from
under his two bushy eyebrows with a pair of very clear blue eyes. His
complexion was muddy, his figure rather fat, his chin double. He wore a
shabby cassock, and a shabby hat over his black wig, and he pulled out a
great gold watch, at which he looks very fierce.

“I am but a contributor, Dr. Swift,” says Esmond, with the little boy
still on his knee. He was sitting with his back in the window, so that the
doctor could not see him.

“Who told you I was Dr. Swift?” says the doctor, eyeing the other very
haughtily.

“Your reverence’s valet bawled out your name,” says the colonel. “I should
judge you brought him from Ireland.”

“And pray, sir, what right have you to judge whether my servant came from
Ireland or no? I want to speak with your employer, Mr. Leach. I’ll thank
ye go fetch him.”

“Where’s your papa, Tommy?” asks the colonel of the child, a smutty little
wretch in a frock.

Instead of answering, the child begins to cry; the doctor’s appearance had
no doubt frightened the poor little imp.

“Send that squalling little brat about his business, and do what I bid ye,
sir,” says the doctor.

“I must finish the picture first for Tommy,” says the colonel, laughing.
“Here, Tommy, will you have your Pandour with whiskers or without?”

“Whisters,” says Tommy, quite intent on the picture.

“Who the devil are ye, sir?” cries the doctor; “are ye a printer’s man or
are ye not?” he pronounced it like _naught_.

“Your reverence needn’t raise the devil to ask who I am,” says Colonel
Esmond. “Did you ever hear of Dr. Faustus, little Tommy? or Friar Bacon,
who invented gunpowder, and set the Thames on fire?”

Mr. Swift turned quite red, almost purple. “I did not intend any offence,
sir,” says he.

“I daresay, sir, you offended without meaning,” says the other drily.

“Who are ye, sir? Do you know who I am, sir? You are one of the pack of
Grub-Street scribblers that my friend Mr. Secretary hath laid by the
heels. How dare ye, sir, speak to me in this tone?” cries the doctor, in a
great fume.

“I beg your honour’s humble pardon if I have offended your honour,” says
Esmond, in a tone of great humility. “Rather than be sent to the Compter,
or be put in the pillory, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do. But Mrs. Leach,
the printer’s lady, told me to mind Tommy whilst she went for her husband
to the tavern, and I daren’t leave the child lest he should fall into the
fire; but if your reverence will hold him——”

“I take the little beast!” says the doctor, starting back. “I am engaged
to your betters, fellow. Tell Mr. Leach that when he makes an appointment
with Dr. Swift he had best keep it, do ye hear? And keep a respectful
tongue in your head, sir, when you address a person like me.”

“I’m but a poor broken-down soldier,” says the colonel, “and I’ve seen
better days, though I am forced now to turn my hand to writing. We can’t
help our fate, sir.”

“You’re the person that Mr. Leach hath spoken to me of, I presume. Have
the goodness to speak civilly when you are spoken to—and tell Leach to
call at my lodgings in Bury Street, and bring the papers with him to-night
at ten o’clock. And the next time you see me, you’ll know me, and be
civil, Mr. Kemp.”

Poor Kemp, who had been a lieutenant at the beginning of the war, and
fallen into misfortune, was the writer of the _Post-Boy_, and now took
honest Mr. Leach’s pay in place of her Majesty’s. Esmond had seen this
gentleman, and a very ingenious, hard-working honest fellow he was,
toiling to give bread to a great family, and watching up many a long
winter night to keep the wolf from his door. And Mr. St. John, who had
liberty always on his tongue, had just sent a dozen of the Opposition
writers into prison, and one actually into the pillory, for what he called
libels, but libels not half so violent as those writ on our side. With
regard to this very piece of tyranny, Esmond had remonstrated strongly
with the secretary, who laughed and said, the rascals were served quite
right; and told Esmond a joke of Swift’s regarding the matter. Nay, more,
this Irishman, when St. John was about to pardon a poor wretch condemned
to death for rape, absolutely prevented the secretary from exercising this
act of good nature, and boasted that he had had the man hanged; and great
as the doctor’s genius might be, and splendid his ability, Esmond for one
would affect no love for him, and never desired to make his acquaintance.
The doctor was at Court every Sunday assiduously enough, a place the
colonel frequented but rarely, though he had a great inducement to go
there in the person of a fair maid of honour of her Majesty’s; and the
airs and patronage Mr. Swift gave himself, forgetting gentlemen of his
country whom he knew perfectly, his loud talk at once insolent and
servile, nay, perhaps his very intimacy with lord treasurer and the
secretary, who indulged all his freaks and called him Jonathan, you may be
sure, were remarked by many a person of whom the proud priest himself took
no note, during that time of his vanity and triumph.

’Twas but three days after the 15th of November, 1712 (Esmond minds him
well of the date), that he went by invitation to dine with his general,
the foot of whose table he used to take on these festive occasions, as he
had done at many a board, hard and plentiful, during the campaign. This
was a great feast, and of the latter sort; the honest old gentleman loved
to treat his friends splendidly: his grace of Ormonde, before he joined
his army as generalissimo, my Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, one of her
Majesty’s secretaries of state, my Lord Orkney, that had served with us
abroad, being of the party. His grace of Hamilton, master of the ordnance,
and in whose honour the feast had been given, upon his approaching
departure as ambassador to Paris, had sent an excuse to General Webb at
two o’clock, but an hour before the dinner: nothing but the most immediate
business, his grace said, should have prevented him having the pleasure of
drinking a parting glass to the health of General Webb. His absence
disappointed Esmond’s old chief, who suffered much from his wounds
besides; and though the company was grand, it was rather gloomy. St. John
came last, and brought a friend with him:—“I’m sure,” says my general,
bowing very politely, “my table hath always a place for Dr. Swift.”

Mr. Esmond went up to the doctor with a bow and a smile:—“I gave Dr.
Swift’s message,” says he, “to the printer: I hope he brought your
pamphlet to your lodgings in time.” Indeed poor Leach had come to his
house very soon after the doctor left it, being brought away rather tipsy
from the tavern by his thrifty wife; and he talked of cousin Swift in a
maudlin way, though of course Mr. Esmond did not allude to this
relationship. The doctor scowled, blushed, and was much confused, and said
scarce a word during the whole of dinner. A very little stone will
sometimes knock down these Goliaths of wit; and this one was often
discomfited when met by a man of any spirit; he took his place sulkily,
put water in his wine that the others drank plentifully, and scarce said a
word.

The talk was about the affairs of the day, or rather about persons than
affairs: my Lady Marlborough’s fury, her daughters in old clothes and
mob-caps looking out from their windows and seeing the company pass to the
Drawing-room; the gentleman-usher’s horror when the Prince of Savoy was
introduced to her Majesty in a tie-wig, no man out of a full-bottomed
periwig ever having kissed the royal hand before; about the Mohawks and
the damage they were doing, rushing through the town, killing and
murdering. Some one said the ill-omened face of Mohun had been seen at the
theatre the night before, and Macartney and Meredith with him. Meant to be
a feast, the meeting, in spite of drink, and talk, was as dismal as a
funeral. Every topic started subsided into gloom. His grace of Ormonde
went away because the conversation got upon Denain, where we had been
defeated in the last campaign. Esmond’s general was affected at the
allusion to this action too, for his comrade of Wynendael, the Count of
Nassau-Woudenberg, had been slain there. Mr. Swift, when Esmond pledged
him, said he drank no wine, and took his hat from the peg and went away,
beckoning my Lord Bolingbroke to follow him; but the other bade him take
his chariot and save his coach-hire, he had to speak with Colonel Esmond;
and when the rest of the company withdrew to cards, these two remained
behind in the dark.

Bolingbroke always spoke freely when he had drunk freely. His enemies
could get any secret out of him in that condition; women were even
employed to ply him, and take his words down. I have heard that my Lord
Stair, three years after, when the secretary fled to France and became the
pretender’s minister, got all the information he wanted by putting female
spies over St. John in his cups. He spoke freely now:—“Jonathan knows
nothing of this for certain, though he suspects it, and by George, Webb
will take an archbishopric, and Jonathan a—no, damme—Jonathan will take an
archbishopric from James, I warrant me, gladly enough. Your duke hath the
string of the whole matter in his hand,” the secretary went on. “We have
that which will force Marlborough to keep his distance, and he goes out of
London in a fortnight. Prior hath his business; he left me this morning,
and mark me, Harry, should fate carry off our august, our beloved, our
most gouty and plethoric queen, and defender of the faith, _la bonne cause
triomphera. A la santé de la bonne cause!_ Everything good comes from
France. Wine comes from France; give us another bumper to the _bonne
cause_.” We drank it together.

“Will the _bonne cause_ turn Protestant?” asked Mr. Esmond.

“No, hang it,” says the other, “he’ll defend our faith as in duty bound,
but he’ll stick by his own. The Hind and the Panther shall run in the same
car, by Jove. Righteousness and peace shall kiss each other; and we’ll
have Father Massillon to walk down the aisle of St. Paul’s, cheek by jowl,
with Dr. Sacheverel. Give us more wine; here’s a health to the _bonne
cause_, kneeling—damme, let’s drink it kneeling.” He was quite flushed and
wild with wine as he was talking.

“And suppose,” says Esmond, who always had this gloomy apprehension, “the
_bonne cause_ should give us up to the French, as his father and uncle did
before him?”

“Give us up to the French!” starts up Bolingbroke; “is there any English
gentleman that fears that? You who have seen Blenheim and Ramillies,
afraid of the French! Your ancestors and mine, and brave old Webb’s
yonder, have met them in a hundred fields, and our children will be ready
to do the like. Who’s he that wishes for more men from England? My cousin
Westmoreland? Give us up to the French, pshaw!”

“His uncle did,” says Mr. Esmond.

“And what happened to his grandfather?” broke out St. John, filling out
another bumper. “Here’s to the greatest monarch England ever saw; here’s
to the Englishman that made a kingdom of her. Our great king came from
Huntingdon, not Hanover; our fathers didn’t look for a Dutchman to rule
us. Let him come and we’ll keep him, and we’ll show him Whitehall. If he’s
a traitor let us have him here to deal with him; and then there are
spirits here as great as any that have gone before. There are men here
that can look at danger in the face and not be frightened at it. Traitor,
treason! what names are these to scare you and me? Are all Oliver’s men
dead, or his glorious name forgotten in fifty years? Are there no men
equal to him, think you, as good—aye, as good? God save the king! and, if
the monarchy fails us, God save the British republic!”

He filled another great bumper, and tossed it up and drained it wildly,
just as the noise of rapid carriage-wheels approaching was stopped at our
door, and after a hurried knock and a moment’s interval, Mr. Swift came
into the hall, ran upstairs to the room we were dining in, and entered it
with a perturbed face. St. John, excited with drink, was making some wild
quotation out of _Macbeth_, but Swift stopped him.

“Drink no more, my lord, for God’s sake,” says he, “I come with the most
dreadful news.”

“Is the queen dead?” cries out Bolingbroke, seizing on a water-glass.

“No, Duke Hamilton is dead, he was murdered an hour ago by Mohun and
Macartney; they had a quarrel this morning; they gave him not so much time
as to write a letter. He went for a couple of his friends, and he is dead,
and Mohun, too, the bloody villain, who was set on him. They fought in
Hyde Park just before sunset; the duke killed Mohun, and Macartney came up
and stabbed him, and the dog is fled. I have your chariot below; send to
every part of the country and apprehend that villain; come to the duke’s
house and see if any life be left in him.”

“O Beatrix, Beatrix,” thought Esmond, “and here ends my poor girl’s
ambition!”



Chapter VI. Poor Beatrix


There had been no need to urge upon Esmond the necessity of a separation
between him and Beatrix: Fate had done that completely; and I think from
the very moment poor Beatrix had accepted the duke’s offer, she began to
assume the majestic air of a duchess, nay, queen elect, and to carry
herself as one sacred and removed from us common people. Her mother and
kinsman both fell into her ways, the latter scornfully perhaps, and
uttering his usual gibes at her vanity and his own. There was a certain
charm about this girl of which neither Colonel Esmond nor his fond
mistress could forgo the fascination; in spite of her faults and her pride
and wilfulness, they were forced to love her; and, indeed, might be set
down as the two chief flatterers of the brilliant creature’s court.

Who, in the course of his life, hath not been so bewitched, and worshipped
some idol or another? Years after this passion hath been dead and buried,
along with a thousand other worldly cares and ambitions, he who felt it
can recall it out of its grave, and admire, almost as fondly as he did in
his youth, that lovely queenly creature. I invoke that beautiful spirit
from the shades and love her still; or rather I should say such a past is
always present to a man; such a passion once felt forms a part of his
whole being, and cannot be separated from it; it becomes a portion of the
man of to-day, just as any great faith or conviction, the discovery of
poetry, the awakening of religion, ever afterward influence him; just as
the wound I had at Blenheim, and of which I wear the scar, hath become
part of my frame and influenced my whole body, nay spirit, subsequently,
though ’twas got and healed forty years ago. Parting and forgetting! What
faithful heart can do these? Our great thoughts, our great affections, the
Truths of our life, never leave us. Surely, they cannot separate from our
consciousness; shall follow it whithersoever that shall go; and are of
their nature divine and immortal.

With the horrible news of this catastrophe, which was confirmed by the
weeping domestics at the duke’s own door, Esmond rode homewards as quick
as his lazy coach would carry him, devising all the time how he should
break the intelligence to the person most concerned in it; and if a satire
upon human vanity could be needed, that poor soul afforded it in the
altered company and occupations in which Esmond found her. For days
before, her chariot had been rolling the street from mercer to
toyshop—from goldsmith to laceman: her taste was perfect, or at least the
fond bridegroom had thought so, and had given entire authority over all
tradesmen, and for all the plate, furniture, and equipages, with which his
grace the ambassador wished to adorn his splendid mission. She must have
her picture by Kneller, a duchess not being complete without a portrait,
and a noble one he made, and actually sketched in, on a cushion, a coronet
which she was about to wear. She vowed she would wear it at King James the
Third’s coronation, and never a princess in the land would have become
ermine better. Esmond found the antechamber crowded with milliners and
toyshop women, obsequious goldsmiths with jewels, salvers, and tankards;
and mercer’s men with hangings, and velvets, and brocades. My lady duchess
elect was giving audience to one famous silversmith from Exeter “Change,”
who brought with him a great chased salver, of which he was pointing out
the beauties as Colonel Esmond entered. “Come,” says she, “cousin, and
admire the taste of this pretty thing.” I think Mars and Venus were lying
in the golden bower, that one gilt Cupid carried off the war-god’s
casque—another his sword—another his great buckler, upon which my Lord
Duke Hamilton’s arms with ours were to be engraved—and a fourth was
kneeling down to the reclining goddess with the ducal coronet in his
hands, God help us! The next time Mr. Esmond saw that piece of plate, the
arms were changed, the ducal coronet had been replaced by a viscount’s; it
formed part of the fortune of the thrifty goldsmith’s own daughter, when
she married my Lord Viscount Squanderfield two years after.

“Isn’t this a beautiful piece?” says Beatrix, examining it, and she
pointed out the arch graces of the Cupids, and the fine carving of the
languid prostrate Mars. Esmond sickened as he thought of the warrior dead
in his chamber, his servants and children weeping around him; and of this
smiling creature attiring herself, as it were, for that nuptial death-bed.
“’Tis a pretty piece of vanity,” says he, looking gloomily at the
beautiful creature: there were flambeaux in the room lighting up the
brilliant mistress of it. She lifted up the great gold salver with her
fair arms.

“Vanity!” says she haughtily. “What is vanity in you, sir, is propriety in
me. You ask a Jewish price for it, Mr. Graves; but have it I will, if only
to spite Mr. Esmond.”

“O Beatrix, lay it down!” says Mr. Esmond. “Herodias! you know not what
you carry in the charger.”

She dropped it with a clang; the eager goldsmith running to seize his
fallen ware. The lady’s face caught the fright from Esmond’s pale
countenance, and her eyes shone out like beacons of alarm:—“What is it,
Henry?” says she, running to him, and seizing both his hands. “What do you
mean by your pale face and gloomy tones?”

“Come away, come away!” says Esmond, leading her: she clung frightened to
him, and he supported her upon his heart, bidding the scared goldsmith
leave them. The man went into the next apartment, staring with surprise,
and hugging his precious charger.

“O my Beatrix, my sister!” says Esmond, still holding in his arms the
pallid and affrighted creature, “you have the greatest courage of any
woman in the world; prepare to show it now, for you have a dreadful trial
to bear.”

She sprang away from the friend who would have protected her:—“Hath he
left me?” says she. “We had words this morning: he was very gloomy, and I
angered him: but he dared not, he dared not!” As she spoke a burning blush
flushed over her whole face and bosom. Esmond saw it reflected in the
glass by which she stood, with clenched hands, pressing her swelling
heart.

“He has left you,” says Esmond, wondering that rage rather than sorrow was
in her looks.

“And he is alive,” cries Beatrix, “and you bring me this commission! He
has left me, and you haven’t dared to avenge me! You, that pretend to be
the champion of our house, have let me suffer this insult! Where is
Castlewood? I will go to my brother.”

“The duke is not alive, Beatrix,” said Esmond.

She looked at her cousin wildly, and fell back to the wall as though shot
in the breast:—“And you come here, and—and—you killed him?”

“No; thank Heaven,” her kinsman said, “the blood of that noble heart doth
not stain my sword! In its last hour it was faithful to thee, Beatrix
Esmond. Vain and cruel woman! kneel and thank the awful Heaven which
awards life and death, and chastises pride, that the noble Hamilton died
true to you; at least that ’twas not your quarrel, or your pride, or your
wicked vanity, that drove him to his fate. He died by the bloody sword
which already had drank your own father’s blood. O woman, O sister! to
that sad field where two corpses are lying—for the murderer died too by
the hand of the man he slew—can you bring no mourners but your revenge and
your vanity? God help and pardon thee, Beatrix, as He brings this awful
punishment to your hard and rebellious heart.”

Esmond had scarce done speaking, when his mistress came in. The colloquy
between him and Beatrix had lasted but a few minutes, during which time
Esmond’s servant had carried the disastrous news through the household.
The army of Vanity Fair, waiting without, gathered up all their fripperies
and fled aghast. Tender Lady Castlewood had been in talk above with Dean
Atterbury, the pious creature’s almoner and director; and the dean had
entered with her as a physician whose place was at a sick-bed. Beatrix’s
mother looked at Esmond and ran towards her daughter, with a pale face and
open heart and hands, all kindness and pity. But Beatrix passed her by,
nor would she have any of the medicaments of the spiritual physician. “I
am best in my own room and by myself,” she said. Her eyes were quite dry;
nor did Esmond ever see them otherwise, save once, in respect to that
grief. She gave him a cold hand as she went out: “Thank you, brother,” she
said, in a low voice, and with a simplicity more touching than tears; “all
you have said is true and kind, and I will go away and ask pardon.” The
three others remained behind, and talked over the dreadful story. It
affected Dr. Atterbury more even than us, as it seemed. The death of
Mohun, her husband’s murderer, was more awful to my mistress than even the
duke’s unhappy end. Esmond gave at length what particulars he knew of
their quarrel, and the cause of it. The two noblemen had long been at war
with respect to the Lord Gerard’s property, whose two daughters my lord
duke and Mohun had married. They had met by appointment that day at the
lawyer’s in Lincoln’s Inn Fields; had words which, though they appeared
very trifling to those who heard them, were not so to men exasperated by
long and previous enmity. Mohun asked my lord duke where he could see his
grace’s friends, and within an hour had sent two of his own to arrange
this deadly duel. It was pursued with such fierceness, and sprung from so
trifling a cause, that all men agreed at the time that there was a party,
of which these three notorious brawlers were but agents, who desired to
take Duke Hamilton’s life away. They fought three on a side, as in that
tragic meeting twelve years back, which hath been recounted already, and
in which Mohun performed his second murder. They rushed in, and closed
upon each other at once without any feints or crossing of swords even, and
stabbed one at the other desperately, each receiving many wounds; and
Mohun having his death-wound, and my lord duke lying by him, Macartney
came up and stabbed his grace as he lay on the ground, and gave him the
blow of which he died. Colonel Macartney denied this, of which the horror
and indignation of the whole kingdom would nevertheless have him guilty,
and fled the country, whither he never returned.

What was the real cause of the Duke Hamilton’s death—a paltry quarrel that
might easily have been made up, and with a ruffian so low, base,
profligate, and degraded with former crimes and repeated murders, that a
man of such a renown and princely rank as my lord duke might have
disdained to sully his sword with the blood of such a villain. But his
spirit was so high that those who wished his death knew that his courage
was like his charity, and never turned any man away; and he died by the
hands of Mohun, and the other two cut-throats that were set on him. The
queen’s ambassador to Paris died, the loyal and devoted servant of the
House of Stuart, and a royal prince of Scotland himself, and carrying the
confidence, the repentance of Queen Anne along with his own open devotion,
and the goodwill of millions in the country more, to the queen’s exiled
brother and sovereign.

That party to which Lord Mohun belonged had the benefit of his service,
and now were well rid of such a ruffian. He, and Meredith, and Macartney,
were the Duke of Marlborough’s men; and the two colonels had been broke
but the year before for drinking perdition to the Tories. His grace was a
Whig now and a Hanoverian, and as eager for war as Prince Eugene himself.
I say not that he was privy to Duke Hamilton’s death, I say that his party
profited by it; and that three desperate and bloody instruments were found
to effect that murder.

As Esmond and the dean walked away from Kensington discoursing of this
tragedy, and how fatal it was to the cause which they both had at heart;
the street-criers were already out with their broadsides, shouting through
the town the full, true, and horrible account of the death of Lord Mohun
and Duke Hamilton in a duel. A fellow had got to Kensington, and was
crying it in the square there at very early morning, when Mr. Esmond
happened to pass by. He drove the man from under Beatrix’s very window,
whereof the casement had been set open. The sun was shining though ’twas
November: he had seen the market-carts rolling into London, the guard
relieved at the Palace, the labourers trudging to their work in the
gardens between Kensington and the City—the wandering merchants and
hawkers filling the air with their cries. The world was going to its
business again, although dukes lay dead and ladies mourned for them; and
kings, very likely, lost their chances. So night and day pass away, and
to-morrow comes, and our place knows us not. Esmond thought of the
courier, now galloping on the north road to inform him, who was Earl of
Arran yesterday, that he was Duke of Hamilton to-day, and of a thousand
great schemes, hopes, ambitions, that were alive in the gallant heart,
beating a few hours since, and now in a little dust quiescent.



Chapter VII. I Visit Castlewood Once More


Thus, for a third time, Beatrix’s ambitious hopes were circumvented, and
she might well believe that a special malignant fate watched and pursued
her, tearing her prize out of her hand just as she seemed to grasp it, and
leaving her with only rage and grief for her portion. Whatever her
feelings might have been of anger or of sorrow (and I fear me that the
former emotion was that which most tore her heart), she would take no
confidant, as people of softer natures would have done under such a
calamity; her mother and her kinsman knew that she would disdain their
pity, and that to offer it would be but to infuriate the cruel wound which
fortune had inflicted. We knew that her pride was awfully humbled and
punished by this sudden and terrible blow; she wanted no teaching of ours
to point out the sad moral of her story. Her fond mother could give but
her prayers, and her kinsman his faithful friendship and patience to the
unhappy stricken creature; and it was only by hints, and a word or two
uttered months afterwards, that Beatrix showed she understood their silent
commiseration, and on her part was secretly thankful for their
forbearance. The people about the Court said there was that in her manner
which frightened away scoffing and condolence: she was above their triumph
and their pity, and acted her part in that dreadful tragedy greatly and
courageously; so that those who liked her least were yet forced to admire
her. We, who watched her after her disaster, could not but respect the
indomitable courage and majestic calm with which she bore it. “I would
rather see her tears than her pride,” her mother said, who was accustomed
to bear her sorrows in a very different way, and to receive them as the
stroke of God, with an awful submission and meekness. But Beatrix’s nature
was different to that tender parent’s; she seemed to accept her grief, and
to defy it; nor would she allow it (I believe not even in private, and in
her own chamber) to extort from her the confession of even a tear of
humiliation or a cry of pain. Friends and children of our race, who come
after me, in which way will you bear your trials? I know one that prays
God will give you love rather than pride, and that the Eye all-seeing
shall find you in the humble place. Not that we should judge proud spirits
otherwise than charitably. ’Tis nature hath fashioned some for ambition
and dominion, as it hath formed others for obedience and gentle
submission. The leopard follows his nature as the lamb does, and acts
after leopard law; she can neither help her beauty, nor her courage, nor
her cruelty; nor a single spot on her shining coat; nor the conquering
spirit which impels her; nor the shot which brings her down.

                  -------------------------------------

During that well-founded panic the Whigs had, lest the queen should
forsake their Hanoverian prince, bound by oaths and treaties as she was to
him, and recall her brother, who was allied to her by yet stronger ties of
nature and duty; the Prince of Savoy, and the boldest of that party of the
Whigs, were for bringing the young Duke of Cambridge over, in spite of the
queen and the outcry of her Tory servants, arguing that the electoral
prince, a peer and prince of the blood-royal of this realm too, and in the
line of succession to the crown, had a right to sit in the Parliament
whereof he was a member, and to dwell in the country which he one day was
to govern. Nothing but the strongest ill will expressed by the queen, and
the people about her, and menaces of the royal resentment, should this
scheme be persisted in, prevented it from being carried into effect.

The boldest on our side were, in like manner, for having our prince into
the country. The undoubted inheritor of the right divine; the feelings of
more than half the nation, of almost all the clergy, of the gentry of
England and Scotland with him; entirely innocent of the crime for which
his father suffered—brave, young, handsome, unfortunate—who in England
would dare to molest the prince should he come among us, and fling himself
upon British generosity, hospitality, and honour? An invader with an army
of Frenchmen behind him, Englishmen of spirit would resist to the death,
and drive back to the shores whence he came; but a prince, alone, armed
with his right only, and relying on the loyalty of his people, was sure,
many of his friends argued, of welcome, at least of safety, among us. The
hand of his sister the queen, of the people his subjects, never could be
raised to do him a wrong. But the queen was timid by nature, and the
successive ministers she had, had private causes for their irresolution.
The bolder and honester men, who had at heart the illustrious young
exile’s cause, had no scheme of interest of their own to prevent them from
seeing the right done, and, provided only he came as an Englishman, were
ready to venture their all to welcome and defend him.

St. John and Harley both had kind words in plenty for the prince’s
adherents, and gave him endless promises of future support; but hints and
promises were all they could be got to give; and some of his friends were
for measures much bolder, more efficacious, and more open. With a party of
these, some of whom are yet alive, and some whose names Mr. Esmond has no
right to mention, he found himself engaged the year after that miserable
death of Duke Hamilton, which deprived the prince of his most courageous
ally in this country. Dean Atterbury was one of the friends whom Esmond
may mention, as the brave bishop is now beyond exile and persecution, and
to him, and one or two more, the colonel opened himself of a scheme of his
own, that, backed by a little resolution on the prince’s part, could not
fail of bringing about the accomplishment of their dearest wishes.

My young Lord Viscount Castlewood had not come to England to keep his
majority, and had now been absent from the country for several years. The
year when his sister was to be married and Duke Hamilton died, my lord was
kept at Bruxelles by his wife’s lying-in. The gentle Clotilda could not
bear her husband out of her sight; perhaps she mistrusted the young
scapegrace should he ever get loose from her leading-strings; and she kept
him by her side to nurse the baby and administer posset to the gossips.
Many a laugh poor Beatrix had had about Frank’s uxoriousness: his mother
would have gone to Clotilda when her time was coming, but that the
mother-in-law was already in possession, and the negotiations for poor
Beatrix’s marriage were begun. A few months after the horrid catastrophe
in Hyde Park, my mistress and her daughter retired to Castlewood, where my
lord, it was expected, would soon join them. But, to say truth, their
quiet household was little to his taste; he could be got to come to
Walcote but once after his first campaign; and then the young rogue spent
more than half his time in London, not appearing at Court, or in public
under his own name and title, but frequenting plays, bagnios, and the very
worst company, under the name of Captain Esmond (whereby his innocent
kinsman got more than once into trouble); and so under various pretexts,
and in pursuit of all sorts of pleasures, until he plunged into the lawful
one of marriage, Frank Castlewood had remained away from this country, and
was unknown, save amongst the gentlemen of the army, with whom he had
served abroad. The fond heart of his mother was pained by this long
absence. ’Twas all that Henry Esmond could do to soothe her natural
mortification, and find excuses for his kinsman’s levity.

In the autumn of the year 1713, Lord Castlewood thought of returning home.
His first child had been a daughter; Clotilda was in the way of gratifying
his lordship with a second, and the pious youth thought that, by bringing
his wife to his ancestral home, by prayers to St. Philip of Castlewood,
and what not, Heaven might be induced to bless him with a son this time,
for whose coming the expectant mamma was very anxious.

The long-debated peace had been proclaimed this year at the end of March;
and France was open to us. Just as Frank’s poor mother had made all things
ready for Lord Castlewood’s reception, and was eagerly expecting her son,
it was by Colonel Esmond’s means that the kind lady was disappointed of
her longing, and obliged to defer once more the darling hope of her heart.

Esmond took horses to Castlewood. He had not seen its ancient grey towers
and well-remembered woods for nearly fourteen years, and since he rode
thence with my lord, to whom his mistress with her young children by her
side waved an adieu, what ages seem to have passed since then, what years
of action and passion, of care, love, hope, disaster! The children were
grown up now, and had stories of their own. As for Esmond, he felt to be a
hundred years old; his dear mistress only seemed unchanged; she looked and
welcomed him quite as of old. There was the fountain in the court babbling
its familiar music, the old hall and its furniture, the carved chair my
late lord used, the very flagon he drank from. Esmond’s mistress knew he
would like to sleep in the little room he used to occupy; ’twas made ready
for him, and wall-flowers and sweet herbs set in the adjoining chamber,
the chaplain’s room.

In tears of not unmanly emotion, with prayers of submission to the awful
Dispenser of death and life, of good and evil fortune, Mr. Esmond passed a
part of that first night at Castlewood, lying awake for many hours as the
clock kept tolling (in tones so well remembered), looking back, as all men
will, that revisit their home of childhood, over the great gulf of time,
and surveying himself on the distant bank yonder, a sad little melancholy
boy, with his lord still alive—his dear mistress, a girl yet, her children
sporting around her. Years ago, a boy on that very bed, when she had
blessed him and called him her knight, he had made a vow to be faithful
and never desert her dear service. Had he kept that fond boyish promise?
Yes, before Heaven; yes, praise be to God! His life had been hers; his
blood, his fortune, his name, his whole heart ever since had been hers and
her children’s. All night long he was dreaming his boyhood over again, and
waking fitfully; he half fancied he heard Father Holt calling to him from
the next chamber, and that he was coming in and out from the mysterious
window.

Esmond rose up before the dawn, passed into the next room, where the air
was heavy with the odour of the wall-flowers; looked into the brasier
where the papers had been burnt, into the old presses where Holt’s books
and papers had been kept, and tried the spring, and whether the window
worked still. The spring had not been touched for years, but yielded at
length, and the whole fabric of the window sank down. He lifted it and it
relapsed into its frame; no one had ever passed thence since Holt used it
sixteen years ago.

Esmond remembered his poor lord saying, on the last day of his life, that
Holt used to come in and out of the house like a ghost, and knew that the
father liked these mysteries, and practised such secret disguises,
entrances, and exits; this was the way the ghost came and went, his pupil
had always conjectured. Esmond closed the casement up again as the dawn
was rising over Castlewood village; he could hear the clinking at the
blacksmith’s forge yonder among the trees, across the green, and past the
river, on which a mist still lay sleeping.

Next Esmond opened that long cupboard over the woodwork of the
mantelpiece, big enough to hold a man, and in which Mr. Holt used to keep
sundry secret properties of his. The two swords he remembered so well as a
boy, lay actually there still, and Esmond took them out and wiped them,
with a strange curiosity of emotion. There were a bundle of papers here,
too, which no doubt had been left at Holt’s last visit to the place, in my
lord viscount’s life, that very day when the priest had been arrested and
taken to Hexham Castle. Esmond made free with these papers, and found
treasonable matter of King William’s reign, the names of Charnock and
Perkins, Sir John Fenwick and Sir John Friend, Rookwood and Lodwick, Lords
Montgomery and Ailesbury, Clarendon and Yarmouth, that had all been
engaged in plots against the usurper; a letter from the Duke of Berwick
too, and one from the king at St. Germains, offering to confer upon his
trusty and well-beloved Francis Viscount Castlewood the titles of Earl and
Marquis of Esmond, bestowed by patent royal, and in the fourth year of his
reign, upon Thomas Viscount Castlewood and the heirs male of his body, in
default of which issue the ranks and dignities were to pass to Francis
aforesaid.

This was the paper, whereof my lord had spoken, which Holt showed him the
very day he was arrested, and for an answer to which he would come back in
a week’s time. I put these papers hastily into the crypt whence I had
taken them, being interrupted by a tapping of a light finger at the ring
of the chamber-door: ’twas my kind mistress, with her face full of love
and welcome. She, too, had passed the night wakefully, no doubt; but
neither asked the other how the hours had been spent. There are things we
divine without speaking, and know though they happen out of our sight.
This fond lady hath told me that she knew both days when I was wounded
abroad. Who shall say how far sympathy reaches, and how truly love can
prophesy? “I looked into your room,” was all she said; “the bed was
vacant, the little old bed! I knew I should find you here.” And tender and
blushing faintly with a benediction in her eyes, the gentle creature
kissed him.

They walked out, hand-in-hand, through the old court, and to the
terrace-walk, where the grass was glistening with dew, and the birds in
the green woods above were singing their delicious choruses under the
blushing morning sky. How well all things were remembered! The ancient
towers and gables of the hall darkling against the east, the purple
shadows on the green slopes, the quaint devices and carvings of the dial,
the forest-crowned heights, the fair yellow plain cheerful with crops and
corn, the shining river rolling through it towards the pearly hills
beyond; all these were before us, along with a thousand beautiful memories
of our youth, beautiful and sad, but as real and vivid in our minds as
that fair and always-remembered scene our eyes beheld once more. We forget
nothing. The memory sleeps, but awakens again; I often think how it shall
be when, after the last sleep of death, the réveillé shall arouse us for
ever, and the past in one flash of self-consciousness rush back, like the
soul, revivified.

The house would not be up for some hours yet (it was July, and the dawn
was only just awake), and here Esmond opened himself to his mistress, of
the business he had in hand, and what part Frank was to play in it. He
knew he could confide anything to her, and that the fond soul would die
rather than reveal it; and bidding her keep the secret from all, he laid
it entirely before his mistress (always as stanch a little loyalist as any
in the kingdom), and indeed was quite sure that any plan of his was secure
of her applause and sympathy. Never was such a glorious scheme to her
partial mind, never such a devoted knight to execute it. An hour or two
may have passed whilst they were having their colloquy. Beatrix came out
to them just as their talk was over; her tall beautiful form robed in
sable (which she wore without ostentation ever since last year’s
catastrophe), sweeping over the green terrace, and casting its shadows
before her across the grass.

She made us one of her grand curtsies smiling, and called us “the young
people”. She was older, paler, and more majestic than in the year before;
her mother seemed the youngest of the two. She never once spoke of her
grief, Lady Castlewood told Esmond, or alluded, save by a quiet word or
two, to the death of her hopes.

When Beatrix came back to Castlewood she took to visiting all the cottages
and all the sick. She set up a school of children, and taught singing to
some of them. We had a pair of beautiful old organs in Castlewood Church,
on which she played admirably, so that the music there became to be known
in the country for many miles round, and no doubt people came to see the
fair organist as well as to hear her. Parson Tusher and his wife were
established at the vicarage, but his wife had brought him no children
wherewith Tom might meet his enemies at the gate. Honest Tom took care not
to have many such, his great shovel-hat was in his hand for everybody. He
was profuse of bows and compliments. He behaved to Esmond as if the
colonel had been a commander-in-chief; he dined at the hall that day,
being Sunday, and would not partake of pudding except under extreme
pressure. He deplored my lord’s perversion, but drank his lordship’s
health very devoutly; and an hour before at church sent the colonel to
sleep, with a long, learned, and refreshing sermon.

Esmond’s visit home was but for two days; the business he had in hand
calling him away and out of the country. Ere he went, he saw Beatrix but
once alone, and then she summoned him out of the long tapestry room, where
he and his mistress were sitting, quite as in old times, into the
adjoining chamber, that had been Viscountess Isabel’s sleeping-apartment,
and where Esmond perfectly well remembered seeing the old lady sitting up
in the bed, in her night-rail, that morning when the troop of guard came
to fetch her. The most beautiful woman in England lay in that bed now,
whereof the great damask hangings were scarce faded since Esmond saw them
last.

Here stood Beatrix in her black robes, holding a box in her hand; ’twas
that which Esmond had given her before her marriage, stamped with a
coronet which the disappointed girl was never to wear; and containing his
aunt’s legacy of diamonds.

“You had best take these with you, Harry,” says she; “I have no need of
diamonds any more.” There was not the least token of emotion in her quiet
low voice. She held out the black shagreen-case with her fair arm, that
did not shake in the least. Esmond saw she wore a black velvet bracelet on
it, with my lord duke’s picture in enamel; he had given it her but three
days before he fell.

Esmond said the stones were his no longer, and strove to turn off that
proffered restoration with a laugh: “Of what good,” says he, “are they to
me? The diamond loop to his hat did not set off Prince Eugene, and will
not make my yellow face look any handsomer.”

“You will give them to your wife, cousin,” says she. “My cousin, your wife
has a lovely complexion and shape.”

“Beatrix,” Esmond burst out, the old fire flaming out as it would at
times, “will you wear those trinkets at your marriage? You whispered once
you did not know me: you know me better now: how I sought, what I have
sighed for, for ten years, what forgone!”

“A price for your constancy, my lord!” says she; “such a _preux chevalier_
wants to be paid. Oh fie, cousin!”

“Again,” Esmond spoke out, “if I do something you have at heart; something
worthy of me and you; something that shall make me a name with which to
endow you; will you take it? There was a chance for me once, you said; is
it impossible to recall it? Never shake your head, but hear me: say you
will hear me a year hence. If I come back to you and bring you fame, will
that please you? If I do what you desire most—what he who is dead desired
most—will that soften you?”

“What is it, Henry?” says she, her face lighting up; “what mean you?”

“Ask no questions,” he said, “wait, and give me but time; if I bring back
that you long for, that I have a thousand times heard you pray for, will
you have no reward for him who has done you that service? Put away those
trinkets, keep them: it shall not be at my marriage, it shall not be at
yours, but if man can do it, I swear a day shall come when there shall be
a feast in your house, and you shall be proud to wear them. I say no more
now; put aside these words, and lock away yonder box until the day when I
shall remind you of both. All I pray of you now is, to wait and to
remember.”

“You are going out of the country?” says Beatrix, in some agitation.

“Yes, to-morrow,” says Esmond.

“To Lorraine, cousin?” says Beatrix, laying her hand on his arm; ’twas the
hand on which she wore the duke’s bracelet. “Stay, Harry!” continued she,
with a tone that had more despondency in it than she was accustomed to
show. “Hear a last word. I do love you. I do admire you—who would not,
that has known such love as yours has been for us all? But I think I have
no heart; at least, I have never seen the man that could touch it; and,
had I found him, I would have followed him in rags had he been a private
soldier, or to sea, like one of those buccaneers you used to read to us
about when we were children. I would do anything for such a man, bear
anything for him: but I never found one. You were ever too much of a slave
to win my heart; even my lord duke could not command it. I had not been
happy had I married him. I knew that three months after our engagement—and
was too vain to break it. O Harry! I cried once or twice, not for him, but
with tears of rage because I could not be sorry for him. I was frightened
to find I was glad of his death; and were I joined to you, I should have
the same sense of servitude, the same longing to escape. We should both be
unhappy, and you the most, who are as jealous as the duke was himself. I
tried to love him; I tried, indeed I did: affected gladness when he came:
submitted to hear when he was by me, and tried the wife’s part I thought I
was to play for the rest of my days. But half an hour of that complaisance
wearied me, and what would a lifetime be? My thoughts were away when he
was speaking; and I was thinking, Oh that this man would drop my hand, and
rise up from before my feet! I knew his great and noble qualities, greater
and nobler than mine a thousand times, as yours are, cousin, I tell you, a
million and a million times better. But ’twas not for these I took him. I
took him to have a great place in the world, and I lost it. I lost it, and
do not deplore him—and I often thought, as I listened to his fond vows and
ardent words, Oh, if I yield to this man, and meet _the other_, I shall
hate him and leave him! I am not good, Harry: my mother is gentle and good
like an angel. I wonder how she should have had such a child. She is weak,
but she would die rather than do a wrong; I am stronger than she, but I
would do it out of defiance. I do not care for what the parsons tell me
with their droning sermons: I used to see them at Court as mean and as
worthless as the meanest woman there. Oh, I am sick and weary of the
world! I wait but for one thing, and when ’tis done, I will take Frank’s
religion and your poor mother’s, and go into a nunnery, and end like her.
Shall I wear the diamonds then?—they say the nuns wear their best trinkets
the day they take the veil. I will put them away as you bid me; farewell,
cousin, mamma is pacing the next room, racking her little head to know
what we have been saying. She is jealous, all women are. I sometimes think
that is the only womanly quality I have.”

“Farewell. Farewell, brother!” She gave him her cheek as a brotherly
privilege. The cheek was as cold as marble.

Esmond’s mistress showed no signs of jealousy when he returned to the room
where she was. She had schooled herself so as to look quite inscrutably,
when she had a mind. Amongst her other feminine qualities she had that of
being a perfect dissembler.

He rid away from Castlewood to attempt the task he was bound on, and stand
or fall by it; in truth his state of mind was such, that he was eager for
some outward excitement to counteract that gnawing malady which he was
inwardly enduring.



Chapter VIII. I Travel To France And Bring Home A Portrait Of Rigaud


Mr. Esmond did not think fit to take leave at Court, or to inform all the
world of Pall Mall and the coffee-houses, that he was about to quit
England; and chose to depart in the most private manner possible. He
procured a pass as for a Frenchman, through Dr. Atterbury, who did that
business for him, getting the signature even from Lord Bolingbroke’s
office, without any personal application to the secretary. Lockwood, his
faithful servant, he took with him to Castlewood, and left behind there:
giving out ere he left London that he himself was sick, and gone to
Hampshire for country air, and so departed as silently as might be upon
his business.

As Frank Castlewood’s aid was indispensable for Mr. Esmond’s scheme, his
first visit was to Bruxelles (passing by way of Antwerp, where the Duke of
Marlborough was in exile), and in the first-named place Harry found his
dear young Benedict, the married man, who appeared to be rather out of
humour with his matrimonial chain, and clogged with the obstinate embraces
which Clotilda kept round his neck. Colonel Esmond was not presented to
her; but Monsieur Simon was, a gentleman of the Royal Cravat (Esmond
bethought him of the regiment of his honest Irishman, whom he had seen
that day after Malplaquet, when he first set eyes on the young king); and
Monsieur Simon was introduced to the Viscountess Castlewood, _née_
Comptesse Wertheim; to the numerous counts, the Lady Clotilda’s tall
brothers; to her father the chamberlain; and to the lady his wife, Frank’s
mother-in-law, a tall and majestic person of large proportions, such as
became the mother of such a company of grenadiers as her warlike sons
formed. The whole race were at free quarters in the little castle nigh to
Bruxelles which Frank had taken; rode his horses; drank his wine; and
lived easily at the poor lad’s charges. Mr. Esmond had always maintained a
perfect fluency in the French, which was his mother tongue; and if this
family (that spoke French with the twang which the Flemings use)
discovered any inaccuracy in Mr. Simon’s pronunciation, ’twas to be
attributed to the latter’s long residence in England, where he had married
and remained ever since he was taken prisoner at Blenheim. His story was
perfectly pat; there were none there to doubt it save honest Frank, and he
was charmed with his kinsman’s scheme, when he became acquainted with it;
and, in truth, always admired Colonel Esmond with an affectionate
fidelity, and thought his cousin the wisest and best of all cousins and
men. Frank entered heart and soul into the plan, and liked it the better
as it was to take him to Paris, out of reach of his brothers, his father,
and his mother-in-law, whose attentions rather fatigued him.

Castlewood, I have said, was born in the same year as the Prince of Wales;
had not a little of the prince’s air, height, and figure; and, especially
since he had seen the Chevalier de St. George on the occasion before
named, took no small pride in his resemblance to a person so illustrious;
which likeness he increased by all the means in his power, wearing fair
brown periwigs, such as the prince wore, and ribbons, and so forth, of the
chevalier’s colour. This resemblance was, in truth, the circumstance on
which Mr. Esmond’s scheme was founded; and, having secured Frank’s secrecy
and enthusiasm, he left him to continue his journey, and see the other
personages on whom its success depended. The place whither Mr. Simon next
travelled was Bar, in Lorraine, where that merchant arrived with a
consignment of broadcloths, valuable laces from Malines, and letters for
his correspondent there.

Would you know how a prince, heroic from misfortunes, and descended from a
line of kings, whose race seemed to be doomed like the Atridae of
old—would you know how he was employed, when the envoy who came to him
through danger and difficulty beheld him for the first time? The young
king, in a flannel jacket, was at tennis with the gentlemen of his suite,
crying out after the balls, and swearing like the meanest of his subjects.
The next time Mr. Esmond saw him, ’twas when Monsieur Simon took a packet
of laces to Miss Oglethorpe; the prince’s antechamber in those days, at
which ignoble door men were forced to knock for admission to his Majesty.
The admission was given, the envoy found the king and the mistress
together; the pair were at cards, and his Majesty was in liquor. He cared
more for three honours than three kingdoms; and a half-dozen glasses of
ratafia made him forget all his woes and his losses, his father’s crown,
and his grandfather’s head.

Mr. Esmond did not open himself to the prince then. His Majesty was scarce
in a condition to hear him; and he doubted whether a king who drank so
much could keep a secret in his fuddled head; or whether a hand that shook
so, was strong enough to grasp at a crown. However at last, and after
taking counsel with the prince’s advisers, amongst whom were many
gentlemen, honest and faithful, Esmond’s plan was laid before the king,
and her actual Majesty Queen Oglethorpe, in council. The prince liked the
scheme well enough; ’twas easy and daring, and suited to his reckless
gaiety and lively youthful spirit. In the morning after he had slept his
wine off, he was very gay, lively, and agreeable. His manner had an
extreme charm of archness, and a kind simplicity; and, to do her justice,
her Oglethorpean Majesty was kind, acute, resolute, and of good counsel;
she gave the prince much good advice that he was too weak to follow, and
loved him with a fidelity which he returned with an ingratitude quite
royal.

Having his own forebodings regarding his scheme should it ever be
fulfilled, and his usual sceptic doubts as to the benefit which might
accrue to the country by bringing a tipsy young monarch back to it,
Colonel Esmond had his audience of leave and quiet. Monsieur Simon took
his departure. At any rate the youth at Bar was as good as the older
Pretender at Hanover; if the worst came to the worst, the Englishman could
be dealt with as easy as the German. Monsieur Simon trotted on that long
journey from Nancy to Paris, and saw that famous town, stealthily and like
a spy, as in truth he was; and where, sure, more magnificence and more
misery is heaped together, more rags and lace, more filth and gilding,
than in any city in this world. Here he was put in communication with the
king’s best friend, his half-brother, the famous Duke of Berwick; Esmond
recognized him as the stranger who had visited Castlewood now near twenty
years ago. His grace opened to him when he found that Mr. Esmond was one
of Webb’s brave regiment, that had once been his grace’s own. He was the
sword and buckler indeed of the Stuart cause: there was no stain on his
shield except the bar across it, which Marlborough’s sister left him. Had
Berwick been his father’s heir, James the Third had assuredly sat on the
English throne. He could dare, endure, strike, speak, be silent. The fire
and genius, perhaps, he had not (that were given to baser men), but except
these he had some of the best qualities of a leader. His grace knew
Esmond’s father and history; and hinted at the latter in such a way as
made the colonel to think he was aware of the particulars of that story.
But Esmond did not choose to enter on it, nor did the duke press him. Mr.
Esmond said, “No doubt he should come by his name if ever greater people
came by theirs.”

What confirmed Esmond in his notion that the Duke of Berwick knew of his
case was, that when the colonel went to pay his duty at St. Germains, her
Majesty once addressed him by the title of Marquis. He took the queen the
dutiful remembrances of her goddaughter, and the lady whom, in the days of
her prosperity, her Majesty had befriended. The queen remembered Rachel
Esmond perfectly well, had heard of my Lord Castlewood’s conversion, and
was much edified by that act of Heaven in his favour. She knew that others
of that family had been of the only true Church too: “Your father and your
mother, _monsieur le marquis_,” her Majesty said (that was the only time
she used the phrase). Monsieur Simon bowed very low, and said he had found
other parents than his own who had taught him differently; but these had
only one king: on which her Majesty was pleased to give him a medal
blessed by the Pope, which had been found very efficacious in cases
similar to his own, and to promise she would offer up prayers for his
conversion and that of the family: which no doubt this pious lady did,
though up to the present moment, and after twenty-seven years, Colonel
Esmond is bound to say that neither the medal nor the prayers have had the
slightest known effect upon his religious convictions.

As for the splendour of Versailles, Monsieur Simon, the merchant, only
beheld them as a humble and distant spectator, seeing the old king but
once, when he went to feed his carps; and asking for no presentation at
his Majesty’s Court.

By this time my Lord Viscount Castlewood was got to Paris, where, as the
London prints presently announced, her ladyship was brought to bed of a
son and heir. For a long while afterwards she was in a delicate state of
health, and ordered by the physicians not to travel; otherwise ’twas well
known that the Viscount Castlewood proposed returning to England, and
taking up his residence at his own seat.

Whilst he remained at Paris, my Lord Castlewood had his picture done by
the famous French painter Monsieur Rigaud, a present for his mother in
London; and this piece Monsieur Simon took back with him when he returned
to that city, which he reached about May, in the year 1714, very soon
after which time my Lady Castlewood and her daughter, and their kinsman,
Colonel Esmond, who had been at Castlewood all this time, likewise
returned to London; her ladyship occupying her house at Kensington, Mr.
Esmond returning to his lodgings at Knightsbridge, nearer the town, and
once more making his appearance at all public places, his health greatly
improved by his long stay in the country.

The portrait of my lord, in a handsome gilt frame, was hung up in the
place of honour in her ladyship’s drawing-room. His lordship was
represented in his scarlet uniform of Captain of the Guard, with a
light-brown periwig, a cuirass under his coat, a blue ribbon, and a fall
of Bruxelles lace. Many of her ladyship’s friends admired the piece beyond
measure, and flocked to see it; Bishop Atterbury, Mr. Lesly, good old Mr.
Collier, and others amongst the clergy, were delighted with the
performance, and many among the first quality examined and praised it;
only I must own that Dr. Tusher happening to come up to London, and seeing
the picture (it was ordinarily covered by a curtain, but on this day Miss
Beatrix happened to be looking at it when the doctor arrived), the Vicar
of Castlewood vowed he could not see any resemblance in the piece to his
old pupil, except perhaps, a little about the chin and the periwig; but we
all of us convinced him, that he had not seen Frank for five years or
more; that he knew no more about the fine arts than a ploughboy, and that
he must be mistaken; and we sent him home assured that the piece was an
excellent likeness. As for my Lord Bolingbroke, who honoured her ladyship
with a visit occasionally, when Colonel Esmond showed him the picture he
burst out laughing, and asked what devilry he was engaged on? Esmond owned
simply that the portrait was not that of Viscount Castlewood, besought the
secretary on his honour to keep the secret, said that the ladies of the
house were enthusiastic Jacobites, as was well known; and confessed that
the picture was that of the Chevalier St. George.

The truth is, that Mr. Simon, waiting upon Lord Castlewood one day at
Monsieur Rigaud’s, whilst his lordship was sitting for his picture,
affected to be much struck with a piece representing the chevalier,
whereof the head only was finished, and purchased it of the painter for a
hundred crowns. It had been intended the artist said, for Miss Oglethorpe,
the prince’s mistress, but that young lady quitting Paris, had left the
work on the artist’s hands; and taking this piece home, when my lord’s
portrait arrived, Colonel Esmond, alias Monsieur Simon, had copied the
uniform and other accessories from my lord’s picture to fill up Rigaud’s
incomplete canvas: the colonel all his life having been a practitioner of
painting, and especially followed it during his long residence in the
cities of Flanders, among the masterpieces of Vandyck and Rubens. My
grandson hath the piece, such as it is, in Virginia now.

At the commencement of the month of June, Miss Beatrix Esmond, and my lady
viscountess, her mother, arrived from Castlewood; the former to resume her
service at Court, which had been interrupted by the fatal catastrophe of
Duke Hamilton’s death. She once more took her place, then, in her
Majesty’s suite and at the maids’ table, being always a favourite with
Mrs. Masham, the queen’s chief woman, partly perhaps on account of her
bitterness against the Duchess of Marlborough, whom Miss Beatrix loved no
better than her rival did. The gentlemen about the Court, my Lord
Bolingbroke amongst others, owned that the young lady had come back
handsomer than ever, and that the serious and tragic air, which her face
now involuntarily wore, became her better than her former smiles and
archness.

All the old domestics at the little house of Kensington Square were
changed; the old steward that had served the family any time these
five-and-twenty years, since the birth of the children of the house, was
dispatched into the kingdom of Ireland to see my lord’s estate there: the
housekeeper, who had been my lady’s woman time out of mind, and the
attendant of the young children, was sent away grumbling to Walcote, to
see to the new painting and preparing of that house, which my lady dowager
intended to occupy for the future, giving up Castlewood to her
daughter-in-law, that might be expected daily from France. Another servant
the viscountess had was dismissed too—with a gratuity—on the pretext that
her ladyship’s train of domestics must be diminished; so, finally, there
was not left in the household a single person who had belonged to it
during the time my young Lord Castlewood was yet at home.

For the plan which Colonel Esmond had in view, and the stroke he intended,
’twas necessary that the very smallest number of persons should be put in
possession of his secret. It scarce was known, except to three or four out
of his family, and it was kept to a wonder.

On the 10th of June, 1714, there came by Mr. Prior’s messenger from Paris,
a letter from my Lord Viscount Castlewood to his mother, saying that he
had been foolish in regard of money matters, that he was ashamed to own he
had lost at play, and by other extravagances; and that instead of having
great entertainments as he had hoped at Castlewood this year, he must live
as quiet as he could, and make every effort to be saving. So far every
word of poor Frank’s letter was true, nor was there a doubt that he and
his tall brothers-in-law had spent a great deal more than they ought, and
engaged the revenues of the Castlewood property, which the fond mother had
husbanded and improved so carefully during the time of her guardianship.

His “Clotilda”, Castlewood went on to say, “was still delicate, and the
physicians thought her lying-in had best take place at Paris. He should
come without her ladyship, and be at his mother’s house about the 17th or
18th day of June, proposing to take horse from Paris immediately, and
bringing but a single servant with him; and he requested that the lawyers
of Gray’s Inn might be invited to meet him with their account, and the
land-steward come from Castlewood with his, so that he might settle with
them speedily, raise a sum of money whereof he stood in need, and be back
to his viscountess by the time of her lying-in.” Then his lordship gave
some of the news of the town, sent his remembrance to kinsfolk, and so the
letter ended. ’Twas put in the common post, and no doubt the French police
and the English there had a copy of it, to which they were exceeding
welcome.

Two days after another letter was dispatched by the public post of France,
in the same open way, and this, after giving news of the fashion at Court
there, ended by the following sentences, in which, but for those that had
the key, ’twould be difficult for any man to find any secret lurked at
all:—


    (The king will take) medicine on Thursday. His Majesty is better
    than he hath been of late, though incommoded by indigestion from
    his too great appetite. Madame Maintenon continues well. They have
    performed a play of Mons. Racine at St. Cyr. The Duke of
    Shrewsbury and Mr. Prior, our envoy, and all the English nobility
    here were present at it. (The Viscount Castlewood’s passports)
    were refused to him, ’twas said; his lordship being sued by a
    goldsmith for _Vaisselle plate_, and a pearl necklace supplied to
    Mademoiselle Meruel of the French Comedy. ’Tis a pity such news
    should get abroad (and travel to England) about our young nobility
    here. Mademoiselle Meruel has been sent to the Fort l’Evesque;
    they say she has ordered not only plate, but furniture, and a
    chariot and horses (under that lord’s name), of which extravagance
    his unfortunate viscountess knows nothing.

    (His majesty will be) eighty-two years of age on his next
    birthday. The Court prepares to celebrate it with a great feast.
    Mr. Prior is in a sad way about their refusing at home to send him
    his plate. All here admired my lord viscount’s portrait, and said
    it was a masterpiece of Rigaud. Have you seen it? It is (at the
    Lady Castlewood’s house in Kensington Square). I think no English
    painter could produce such a piece.

    Our poor friend the abbé hath been at the Bastille, but is now
    transported to the Conciergerie (where his friends may visit him.
    They are to ask for) a remission of his sentence soon. Let us hope
    the poor rogue will have repented in prison.

    (The Lord Castlewood) has had the affair of the plate made up, and
    departs for England.

    Is not this a dull letter? I have a cursed headache with drinking
    with Mat and some more overnight, and tipsy or sober am

    Thine ever ——.


All this letter, save some dozen of words which I have put above between
brackets, was mere idle talk, though the substance of the letter was as
important as any letter well could be. It told those that had the key,
that _the king will take the Viscount Castlewood’s passports and travel to
England under that lord’s name. His Majesty will be at the Lady
Castlewood’s house in Kensington Square, where his friends may visit him;
they are to ask for the Lord Castlewood_. This note may have passed under
Mr. Prior’s eyes, and those of our new allies the French, and taught them
nothing; though it explains sufficiently to persons in London what the
event was which was about to happen, as ’twill show those who read my
memoirs a hundred years hence, what was that errand on which Colonel
Esmond of late had been busy. Silently and swiftly to do that about which
others were conspiring, and thousands of Jacobites all over the country,
clumsily caballing; alone to effect that which the leaders here were only
talking about; to bring the Prince of Wales into the country openly in the
face of all, under Bolingbroke’s very eyes, the walls placarded with the
proclamation signed with the secretary’s name, and offering five hundred
pounds reward for his apprehension: this was a stroke, the playing and
winning of which might well give any adventurous spirit pleasure: the loss
of the stake might involve a heavy penalty, but all our family were eager
to risk that for the glorious chance of winning the game.

Nor should it be called a game, save perhaps with the chief player, who
was not more or less sceptical than most public men with whom he had
acquaintance in that age. (Is there ever a public man in England that
altogether believes in his party? Is there one, however doubtful, that
will not fight for it?) Young Frank was ready to fight without much
thinking, he was a Jacobite as his father before him was; all the Esmonds
were Royalists. Give him but the word, he would cry, “God save King
James!” before the palace guard, or at the Maypole in the Strand; and with
respect to the women, as is usual with them, ’twas not a question of party
but of faith; their belief was a passion; either Esmond’s mistress or her
daughter would have died for it cheerfully. I have laughed often, talking
of King William’s reign, and said I thought Lady Castlewood was
disappointed the king did not persecute the family more; and those who
know the nature of women may fancy for themselves, what needs not here be
written down, the rapture with which these neophytes received the mystery
when made known to them; the eagerness with which they looked forward to
its completion; the reverence which they paid the minister who initiated
them into that secret Truth, now known only to a few, but presently to
reign over the world. Sure there is no bound to the trustingness of women.
Look at Arria worshipping the drunken clodpate of a husband who beats her;
look at Cornelia treasuring as a jewel in her maternal heart the oaf her
son; I have known a woman preach Jesuit’s bark, and afterwards Dr.
Berkeley’s tar-water, as though to swallow them were a divine decree, and
to refuse them no better than blasphemy.

On his return from France Colonel Esmond put himself at the head of this
little knot of fond conspirators. No death or torture he knew would
frighten them out of their constancy. When he detailed his plan for
bringing the king back, his elder mistress thought that that restoration
was to be attributed under Heaven to the Castlewood family and to its
chief, and she worshipped and loved Esmond, if that could be, more than
ever she had done. She doubted not for one moment of the success of his
scheme, to mistrust which would have seemed impious in her eyes. And as
for Beatrix, when she became acquainted with the plan, and joined it, as
she did with all her heart, she gave Esmond one of her searching bright
looks: “Ah, Harry,” says she, “why were you not the head of our house? You
are the only one fit to raise it; why do you give that silly boy the name
and the honour? But ’tis so in the world; those get the prize that don’t
deserve or care for it. I wish I could give you _your_ silly prize,
cousin, but I can’t; I have tried and I can’t.” And she went away, shaking
her head mournfully, but always, it seemed to Esmond, that her liking and
respect for him was greatly increased, since she knew what capability he
had both to act and bear; to do and to forgo.



Chapter IX. The Original Of The Portrait Comes To England


’Twas announced in the family that my Lord Castlewood would arrive, having
a confidential French gentleman in his suite, who acted as secretary to
his lordship, and who being a Papist, and a foreigner of a good family,
though now in rather a menial place, would have his meals served in his
chamber, and not with the domestics of the house. The viscountess gave up
her bedchamber contiguous to her daughter’s, and having a large convenient
closet attached to it, in which a bed was put up, ostensibly for Monsieur
Baptiste, the Frenchman; though, ’tis needless to say, when the doors of
the apartments were locked, and the two guests retired within it, the
young viscount became the servant of the illustrious prince whom he
entertained, and gave up gladly the more convenient and airy chamber and
bed to his master. Madam Beatrix also retired to the upper region, her
chamber being converted into a sitting-room for my lord. The better to
carry the deceit, Beatrix affected to grumble before the servants, and to
be jealous that she was turned out of her chamber to make way for my lord.

No small preparations were made, you may be sure, and no slight tremor of
expectation caused the hearts of the gentle ladies of Castlewood to
flutter, before the arrival of the personages who were about to honour
their house. The chamber was ornamented with flowers; the bed covered with
the very finest of linen; the two ladies insisting on making it
themselves, and kneeling down at the bedside and kissing the sheets out of
respect for the web that was to hold the sacred person of a king. The
toilet was of silver and crystal; there was a copy of _Eikon Basilike_
laid on the writing-table; a portrait of the martyred king hung always
over the mantel, having a sword of my poor Lord Castlewood underneath it,
and a little picture or emblem which the widow loved always to have before
her eyes on waking, and in which the hair of her lord and her two children
was worked together. Her books of private devotions, as they were all of
the English Church, she carried away with her to the upper apartment which
she destined for herself. The ladies showed Mr. Esmond, when they were
completed, the fond preparations they had made. ’Twas then Beatrix knelt
down and kissed the linen sheets. As for her mother, Lady Castlewood made
a curtsy at the door, as she would have done to the altar on entering a
church, and owned that she considered the chamber in a manner sacred.

The company in the servants’ hall never for a moment supposed that these
preparations were made for any other person than the young viscount, the
lord of the house, whom his fond mother had been for so many years without
seeing. Both ladies were perfect housewives, having the greatest skill in
the making of confections, scented waters, &c., and keeping a notable
superintendence over the kitchen. Calves enough were killed to feed an
army of prodigal sons, Esmond thought, and laughed when he came to wait on
the ladies, on the day when the guests were to arrive, to find two pairs
of the finest and roundest arms to be seen in England (my Lady Castlewood
was remarkable for this beauty of her person), covered with flour up above
the elbows, and preparing paste, and turning rolling-pins in the
housekeeper’s closet. The guest would not arrive till supper-time, and my
lord would prefer having that meal in his own chamber. You may be sure the
brightest plate of the house was laid out there, and can understand why it
was that the ladies insisted that they alone would wait upon the young
chief of the family.

Taking horse, Colonel Esmond rode rapidly to Rochester, and there awaited
the king in that very town where his father had last set his foot on the
English shore. A room had been provided at an inn there for my Lord
Castlewood and his servant; and Colonel Esmond timed his ride so well that
he had scarce been half an hour in the place, and was looking over the
balcony into the yard of the inn, when two travellers rode in at the
inn-gate, and the colonel running down, the next moment embraced his dear
young lord.

My lord’s companion, acting the part of a domestic, dismounted, and was
for holding the viscount’s stirrup; but Colonel Esmond, calling to his own
man, who was in the court, bade him take the horses and settle with the
lad who had ridden the post along with the two travellers, crying out in a
cavalier tone in the French language to my lord’s companion, and affecting
to grumble that my lord’s fellow was a Frenchman, and did not know the
money or habits of the country:—“My man will see to the horses, Baptiste,”
says Colonel Esmond: “do you understand English?” “Very leetle.” “So,
follow my lord and wait upon him at dinner in his own room.” The landlord
and his people came up presently bearing the dishes; ’twas well they made
a noise and stir in the gallery, or they might have found Colonel Esmond
on his knee before Lord Castlewood’s servant, welcoming his Majesty to his
kingdom, and kissing the hand of the king. We told the landlord that the
Frenchman would wait on his master; and Esmond’s man was ordered to keep
sentry in the gallery without the door. The prince dined with a good
appetite, laughing and talking very gaily, and condescendingly bidding his
two companions to sit with him at table. He was in better spirits than
poor Frank Castlewood, who Esmond thought might be wobegone on account of
parting with his divine Clotilda; but the prince wishing to take a short
siesta after dinner, and retiring to an inner chamber where there was a
bed, the cause of poor Frank’s discomfiture came out; and bursting into
tears, with many expressions of fondness, friendship, and humiliation, the
faithful lad gave his kinsman to understand that he now knew all the
truth, and the sacrifices which Colonel Esmond had made for him.

Seeing no good in acquainting poor Frank with that secret, Mr. Esmond had
entreated his mistress also not to reveal it to her son. The prince had
told the poor lad all as they were riding from Dover: “I had as lief he
had shot me, cousin,” Frank said: “I knew you were the best and the
bravest, and the kindest of all men” (so the enthusiastic young fellow
went on); “but I never thought I owed you what I do, and can scarce bear
the weight of the obligation.”

“I stand in the place of your father,” says Mr. Esmond kindly, “and sure a
father may dispossess himself in favour of his son. I abdicate the
twopenny crown, and invest you with the kingdom of Brentford; don’t be a
fool and cry; you make a much taller and handsomer viscount than ever I
could.” But the fond boy with oaths and protestations, laughter and
incoherent outbreaks of passionate emotion, could not be got, for some
little time, to put up with Esmond’s raillery; wanted to kneel down to
him, and kissed his hand; asked him and implored him to order something,
to bid Castlewood give his own life up or take somebody else’s; anything,
so that he might show his gratitude for the generosity Esmond showed him.

“The k——, _he_ laughed,” Frank said, pointing to the door where the
sleeper was, and speaking in a low tone, “I don’t think he should have
laughed as he told me the story. As we rode along from Dover, talking in
French, he spoke about you, and your coming to him at Bar; he called you
‘_le grand sérieux_’, Don Bellianis of Greece, and I don’t know what
names; mimicking your manner” (here Castlewood laughed himself)—“and he
did it very well. He seems to sneer at everything. He is not like a king:
somehow, Harry, I fancy you are like a king. He does not seem to think
what a stake we are all playing. He would have stopped at Canterbury to
run after a barmaid there, had I not implored him to come on. He hath a
house at Chaillot where he used to go and bury himself for weeks away from
the queen, and with all sorts of bad company,” says Frank, with a demure
look; “you may smile, but I am not the wild fellow I was; no, no, I have
been taught better,” says Castlewood devoutly, making a sign on his
breast.

“Thou art my dear brave boy,” says Colonel Esmond, touched at the young
fellow’s simplicity, “and there will be a noble gentleman at Castlewood so
long as my Frank is there.”

The impetuous young lad was for going down on his knees again, with
another explosion of gratitude, but that we heard the voice from the next
chamber of the august sleeper, just waking, calling out:—“_Eh, La-Fleur,
un verre d’eau_”; his Majesty came out yawning:—“A pest,” says he, “upon
your English ale; ’tis so strong that, _ma foi_, it hath turned my head.”

The effect of the ale was like a spur upon our horses, and we rode very
quickly to London, reaching Kensington at nightfall. Mr. Esmond’s servant
was left behind at Rochester, to take care of the tired horses, whilst we
had fresh beasts provided along the road. And galloping by the prince’s
side the colonel explained to the Prince of Wales what his movements had
been; who the friends were that knew of the expedition; whom, as Esmond
conceived, the prince should trust; entreating him, above all, to maintain
the very closest secrecy until the time should come when his royal
highness should appear. The town swarmed with friends of the prince’s
cause; there were scores of correspondents with St. Germains; Jacobites
known and secret; great in station and humble; about the Court and the
queen; in the Parliament, Church, and among the merchants in the City. The
prince had friends numberless in the army, in the Privy Council, and the
officers of state. The great object, as it seemed, to the small band of
persons who had concerted that bold stroke, who had brought the queen’s
brother into his native country, was, that his visit should remain unknown
till the proper time came, when his presence should surprise friends and
enemies alike; and the latter should be found so unprepared and disunited,
that they should not find time to attack him. We feared more from his
friends than from his enemies. The lies, and tittle-tattle sent over to
St. Germains by the Jacobite agents about London, had done an incalculable
mischief to his cause, and wofully misguided him, and it was from these
especially, that the persons engaged in the present venture were anxious
to defend the chief actor in it.(16)

The party reached London by nightfall, leaving their horses at the
Posting-House over against Westminster, and being ferried over the water
where Lady Esmond’s coach was already in waiting. In another hour we were
all landed at Kensington, and the mistress of the house had that
satisfaction which her heart had yearned after for many years, once more
to embrace her son, who on his side, with all his waywardness, ever
retained a most tender affection for his parent.

She did not refrain from this expression of her feeling, though the
domestics were by, and my Lord Castlewood’s attendant stood in the hall.
Esmond had to whisper to him in French to take his hat off. Monsieur
Baptiste was constantly neglecting his part with an inconceivable levity:
more than once on the ride to London, little observations of the stranger,
light remarks, and words betokening the greatest ignorance of the country
the prince came to govern, had hurt the susceptibility of the two
gentlemen forming his escort; nor could either help owning in his secret
mind that they would have had his behaviour otherwise, and that the
laughter and the lightness, not to say licence, which characterized his
talk, scarce befitted such a great prince, and such a solemn occasion. Not
but that he could act at proper times with spirit and dignity. He had
behaved, as we all knew, in a very courageous manner on the field. Esmond
had seen a copy of the letter the prince writ with his own hand when urged
by his friends in England to abjure his religion, and admired that manly
and magnanimous reply by which he refused to yield to the temptation.
Monsieur Baptiste took off his hat, blushing at the hint Colonel Esmond
ventured to give him, and said:—“_Tenez, elle est jolie, la petite mère;
Foi-de-Chevalier! elle est charmante; mais l’autre, qui est cette nymphe,
cet astre qui brille, cette Diane qui descend sur nous?_” And he started
back, and pushed forward, as Beatrix was descending the stair. She was in
colours for the first time at her own house; she wore the diamonds Esmond
gave her; it had been agreed between them, that she should wear these
brilliants on the day when the king should enter the house, and a queen
she looked, radiant in charms, and magnificent and imperial in beauty.

Castlewood himself was startled by that beauty and splendour; he stepped
back and gazed at his sister as though he had not been aware before (nor
was he, very likely) how perfectly lovely she was, and I thought blushed
as he embraced her. The prince could not keep his eyes off her; he quite
forgot his menial part, though he had been schooled to it, and a little
light portmanteau prepared expressly that he should carry it. He pressed
forward before my lord viscount. ’Twas lucky the servants’ eyes were busy
in other directions, or they must have seen that this was no servant, or
at least a very insolent and rude one.

Again Colonel Esmond was obliged to cry out, “Baptiste”, in a loud
imperious voice, “have a care to the valise”; at which hint the wilful
young man ground his teeth together with something very like a curse
between them, and then gave a brief look of anything but pleasure to his
Mentor. Being reminded, however, he shouldered the little portmanteau, and
carried it up the stair, Esmond preceding him, and a servant with lighted
tapers. He flung down his burden sulkily in the bedchamber:—“A prince that
will wear a crown must wear a mask,” says Mr. Esmond, in French.

“_Ah, peste!_ I see how it is,” says Monsieur Baptiste, continuing the
talk in French. “The Great Serious is seriously”—“alarmed for Monsieur
Baptiste,” broke in the colonel. Esmond neither liked the tone with which
the prince spoke of the ladies, nor the eyes with which he regarded them.

The bedchamber and the two rooms adjoining it, the closet and the
apartment which was to be called my lord’s parlour, were already lighted
and awaiting their occupier; and the collation laid for my lord’s supper.
Lord Castlewood and his mother and sister came up the stair a minute
afterwards, and, so soon as the domestics had quitted the apartment,
Castlewood and Esmond uncovered, and the two ladies went down on their
knees before the prince, who graciously gave a hand to each. He looked his
part of prince much more naturally than that of servant, which he had just
been trying, and raised them both with a great deal of nobility, as well
as kindness in his air. “Madam,” says he, “my mother will thank your
ladyship for your hospitality to her son; for you, madam,” turning to
Beatrix, “I cannot bear to see so much beauty in such a posture. You will
betray Monsieur Baptiste if you kneel to him; sure ’tis his place rather
to kneel to you.”

A light shone out of her eyes; a gleam bright enough to kindle passion in
any breast. There were times when this creature was so handsome, that she
seemed, as it were, like Venus revealing herself a goddess in a flash of
brightness. She appeared so now; radiant, and with eyes bright with a
wonderful lustre. A pang, as of rage and jealousy, shot through Esmond’s
heart, as he caught the look she gave the prince; and he clenched his hand
involuntarily and looked across to Castlewood, whose eyes answered his
alarm-signal, and were also on the alert. The prince gave his subjects an
audience of a few minutes, and then the two ladies and Colonel Esmond
quitted the chamber. Lady Castlewood pressed his hand as they descended
the stair, and the three went down to the lower rooms, where they waited
awhile till the travellers above should be refreshed and ready for their
meal.

Esmond looked at Beatrix, blazing with her jewels on her beautiful neck.
“I have kept my word,” says he: “And I mine,” says Beatrix, looking down
on the diamonds.

“Were I the Mogul emperor,” says the colonel, “you should have all that
were dug out of Golconda.”

“These are a great deal too good for me,” says Beatrix, dropping her head
on her beautiful breast,—“so are you all, all:” and when she looked up
again, as she did in a moment, and after a sigh, her eyes, as they gazed
at her cousin, wore that melancholy and inscrutable look which ’twas
always impossible to sound.

When the time came for the supper, of which we were advertised by a
knocking overhead, Colonel Esmond and the two ladies went to the upper
apartment, where the prince already was, and by his side the young
viscount, of exactly the same age, shape, and with features not
dissimilar, though Frank’s were the handsomer of the two. The prince sat
down, and bade the ladies sit. The gentlemen remained standing; there was,
indeed, but one more cover laid at the table:—“Which of you will take it?”
says he.

“The head of our house,” says Lady Castlewood, taking her son’s hand, and
looking towards Colonel Esmond with a bow and a great tremor of the voice;
“the Marquis of Esmond will have the honour of serving the king.”

“I shall have the honour of waiting on his royal highness,” says Colonel
Esmond, filling a cup of wine, and, as the fashion of that day was, he
presented it to the king on his knee.

“I drink to my hostess and her family,” says the prince, with no very
well-pleased air; but the cloud passed immediately off his face, and he
talked to the ladies in a lively, rattling strain, quite undisturbed by
poor Mr. Esmond’s yellow countenance, that I dare say looked very glum.

When the time came to take leave, Esmond marched homewards to his
lodgings, and met Mr. Addison on the road that night, walking to a cottage
he had at Fulham, the moon shining on his handsome serene face:—“What
cheer, brother?” says Addison, laughing; “I thought it was a footpad
advancing in the dark, and behold ’tis an old friend. We may shake hands,
colonel, in the dark, ’tis better than fighting by daylight. Why should we
quarrel, because I am a Whig and thou art a Tory? Turn thy steps and walk
with me to Fulham, where there is a nightingale still singing in the
garden, and a cool bottle in a cave I know of; you shall drink to the
Pretender if you like, and I will drink my liquor my own way: I have had
enough of good liquor?—no, never! There is no such word as enough as a
stopper for good wine. Thou wilt not come? Come any day, come soon. You
know I remember _Simois_ and the _Sigeia tellus_, and the _praelia mixta
mero, mixta mero_,” he repeated, with ever so slight a touch of _merum_ in
his voice, and walked back a little way on the road with Esmond, bidding
the other remember he was always his friend, and indebted to him for his
aid in the _Campaign_ poem. And very likely Mr. Under Secretary would have
stepped in and taken t’other bottle at the colonel’s lodgings, had the
latter invited him, but Esmond’s mood was none of the gayest, and he bade
his friend an inhospitable good-night at the door.

“I have done the deed,” thought he, sleepless, and looking out into the
night; “he is here, and I have brought him; he and Beatrix are sleeping
under the same roof now. Whom did I mean to serve in bringing him? Was it
the prince, was it Henry Esmond? Had I not best have joined the manly
creed of Addison yonder, that scouts the old doctrine of right divine,
that boldly declares that Parliament and people consecrate the sovereign,
not bishops, nor genealogies, nor oils, nor coronations.” The eager gaze
of the young prince, watching every movement of Beatrix, haunted Esmond
and pursued him. The prince’s figure appeared before him in his feverish
dreams many times that night. He wished the deed undone, for which he had
laboured so. He was not the first that has regretted his own act, or
brought about his own undoing. Undoing? Should he write that word in his
late years? No, on his knees before Heaven, rather be thankful for what
then he deemed his misfortune, and which hath caused the whole subsequent
happiness of his life.

Esmond’s man, honest John Lockwood, had served his master and the family
all his life, and the colonel knew that he could answer for John’s
fidelity as for his own. John returned with the horses from Rochester
betimes the next morning, and the colonel gave him to understand that on
going to Kensington, where he was free of the servants’ hall, and indeed
courting Mrs. Beatrix’s maid, he was to ask no questions, and betray no
surprise, but to vouch stoutly that the young gentleman he should see in a
red coat there was my Lord Viscount Castlewood, and that his attendant in
grey was Monsieur Baptiste the Frenchman. He was to tell his friends in
the kitchen such stories as he remembered of my lord viscount’s youth at
Castlewood; what a wild boy he was; how he used to drill Jack and cane
him, before ever he was a soldier; everything, in fine, he knew respecting
my lord viscount’s early days. Jack’s ideas of painting had not been much
cultivated during his residence in Flanders with his master; and, before
my young lord’s return, he had been easily got to believe that the picture
brought over from Paris, and now hanging in Lady Castlewood’s
drawing-room, was a perfect likeness of her son, the young lord. And the
domestics having all seen the picture many times, and catching but a
momentary imperfect glimpse of the two strangers on the night of their
arrival, never had a reason to doubt the fidelity of the portrait; and
next day, when they saw the original of the piece habited exactly as he
was represented in the painting, with the same periwig, ribbon, and
uniform of the Guard, quite naturally addressed the gentleman as my Lord
Castlewood, my lady viscountess’s son.

The secretary of the night previous was now the viscount; the viscount
wore the secretary’s grey frock; and John Lockwood was instructed to hint
to the world below stairs that my lord being a Papist, and very devout in
that religion, his attendant might be no other than his chaplain from
Bruxelles; hence, if he took his meals in my lord’s company there was
little reason for surprise. Frank was further cautioned to speak English
with a foreign accent, which task he performed indifferently well, and
this caution was the more necessary because the prince himself scarce
spoke our language like a native of the island; and John Lockwood laughed
with the folks below stairs at the manner in which my lord, after five
years abroad, sometimes forgot his own tongue and spoke it like a
Frenchman. “I warrant,” says he, “that with the English beef and beer, his
lordship will soon get back the proper use of his mouth;” and, to do his
new lordship justice, he took to beer and beef very kindly.

The prince drank so much, and was so loud and imprudent in his talk after
his drink, that Esmond often trembled for him. His meals were served as
much as possible in his own chamber, though frequently he made his
appearance in Lady Castlewood’s parlour and drawing-room, calling Beatrix
“sister”, and her ladyship “mother”, or “madam”, before the servants. And,
choosing to act entirely up to the part of brother and son, the prince
sometimes saluted Mrs. Beatrix and Lady Castlewood with a freedom which
his secretary did not like, and which, for his part, set Colonel Esmond
tearing with rage.

The guests had not been three days in the house when poor Jack Lockwood
came with a rueful countenance to his master, and said: “My lord, that
is—the gentleman, has been tampering with Mrs. Lucy” (Jack’s sweetheart),
“and given her guineas and a kiss.” I fear that Colonel Esmond’s mind was
rather relieved than otherwise, when he found that the ancillary beauty
was the one whom the prince had selected. His royal tastes were known to
lie that way, and continued so in after-life. The heir of one of the
greatest names, of the greatest kingdoms, and of the greatest misfortunes
in Europe, was often content to lay the dignity of his birth and grief at
the wooden shoes of a French chambermaid, and to repent afterwards (for he
was very devout) in ashes taken from the dustpan. ’Tis for mortals such as
these that nations suffer, that parties struggle, that warriors fight and
bleed. A year afterwards gallant heads were falling, and Nithsdale in
escape, and Derwentwater on the scaffold; whilst the heedless ingrate, for
whom they risked and lost all, was tippling with his seraglio of
mistresses in his _petite maison_ of Chaillot.

Blushing to be forced to bear such an errand, Esmond had to go to the
prince and warn him that the girl whom his highness was bribing, was John
Lockwood’s sweetheart, an honest resolute man, who had served in six
campaigns, and feared nothing, and who knew that the person, calling
himself Lord Castlewood, was not his young master: and the colonel
besought the prince to consider what the effect of a single man’s jealousy
might be, and to think of other designs he had in hand, more important
than the seduction of a waiting-maid, and the humiliation of a brave man.
Ten times, perhaps, in the course of as many days, Mr. Esmond had to warn
the royal young adventurer of some imprudence or some freedom. He received
these remonstrances very testily, save perhaps in this affair of poor
Lockwood’s, when he deigned to burst out a-laughing, and said, “What! the
_soubrette_ has peached to the _amoureux_, and Crispin is angry, and
Crispin has served, and Crispin has been a corporal, has he? Tell him we
will reward his valour with a pair of colours, and recompense his
fidelity.”

Colonel Esmond ventured to utter some other words of entreaty, but the
prince, stamping imperiously, cried out, “_Assez, milord: je m’ennuye à la
prêche_; I am not come to London to go to the sermon.” And he complained
afterwards to Castlewood, that “_le petit jaune, le noir colonel, le
Marquis Misanthrope_” (by which facetious names his royal highness was
pleased to designate Colonel Esmond), “fatigued him with his grand airs
and virtuous homilies.”

The Bishop of Rochester, and other gentlemen engaged in the transaction
which had brought the prince over, waited upon his royal highness,
constantly asking for my Lord Castlewood on their arrival at Kensington,
and being openly conducted to his royal highness in that character, who
received them either in my lady’s drawing-room below, or above in his own
apartment; and all implored him to quit the house as little as possible,
and to wait there till the signal should be given for him to appear. The
ladies entertained him at cards, over which amusement he spent many hours
in each day and night. He passed many hours more in drinking, during which
time he would rattle and talk very agreeably, and especially if the
colonel was absent, whose presence always seemed to frighten him; and the
poor “_Colonel Noir_” took that hint as a command accordingly, and seldom
intruded his black face upon the convivial hours of this august young
prisoner. Except for those few persons of whom the porter had the list,
Lord Castlewood was denied to all friends of the house who waited on his
lordship. The wound he had received had broke out again from his journey
on horseback, so the world and the domestics were informed. And Doctor
A——,(17) his physician (I shall not mention his name, but he was physician
to the Queen, of the Scots nation, and a man remarkable for his
benevolence as well as his wit), gave orders that he should be kept
perfectly quiet until the wound should heal. With this gentleman, who was
one of the most active and influential of our party, and the others before
spoken of, the whole secret lay; and it was kept with so much
faithfulness, and the story we told so simple and natural, that there was
no likelihood of a discovery except from the imprudence of the prince
himself, and an adventurous levity that we had the greatest difficulty to
control. As for Lady Castlewood, although she scarce spoke a word, ’twas
easy to gather from her demeanour, and one or two hints she dropped, how
deep her mortification was at finding the hero whom she had chosen to
worship all her life (and whose restoration had formed almost the most
sacred part of her prayers), no more than a man, and not a good one. She
thought misfortune might have chastened him; but that instructress had
rather rendered him callous than humble. His devotion, which was quite
real, kept him from no sin he had a mind to. His talk showed good-humour,
gaiety, even wit enough; but there was a levity in his acts and words that
he had brought from among those libertine devotees with whom he had been
bred, and that shocked the simplicity and purity of the English lady,
whose guest he was. Esmond spoke his mind to Beatrix pretty freely about
the prince, getting her brother to put in a word of warning. Beatrix was
entirely of their opinion; she thought he was very light, very light and
reckless; she could not even see the good looks Colonel Esmond had spoken
of. The prince had bad teeth, and a decided squint. How could we say he
did not squint? His eyes were fine, but there was certainly a cast in
them. She rallied him at table with wonderful wit; she spoke of him
invariably as of a mere boy; she was more fond of Esmond than ever,
praised him to her brother, praised him to the prince, when his royal
highness was pleased to sneer at the colonel, and warmly espoused his
cause: “And if your Majesty does not give him the Garter his father had,
when the Marquis of Esmond comes to your Majesty’s Court, I will hang
myself in my own garters, or will cry my eyes out.” “Rather than lose
those,” says the prince, “he shall be made archbishop and colonel of the
Guard” (it was Frank Castlewood who told me of this conversation over
their supper).

“Yes,” cries she, with one of her laughs,—(I fancy I hear it now; thirty
years afterwards I hear that delightful music)—“yes, he shall be
Archbishop of Esmond and Marquis of Canterbury.”

“And what will your ladyship be?” says the prince; “you have but to choose
your place.”

“I,” says Beatrix, “will be mother of the maids to the queen of his
Majesty King James the Third—_Vive le Roy!_” and she made him a great
curtsy, and drank a part of a glass of wine in his honour.

“The prince seized hold of the glass and drank the last drop of it,”
Castlewood said, “and my mother, looking very anxious, rose up and asked
leave to retire. But that ’Trix is my mother’s daughter, Harry,” Frank
continued, “I don’t know what a horrid fear I should have of her. I wish—I
wish this business were over. You are older than I am, and wiser, and
better, and I owe you everything, and would die for you—before George I
would; but I wish the end of this were come.”

Neither of us very likely passed a tranquil night; horrible doubts and
torments racked Esmond’s soul; ’twas a scheme of personal ambition, a
daring stroke for a selfish end—he knew it. What cared he, in his heart,
who was king? Were not his very sympathies and secret convictions on the
other side—on the side of People, Parliament, Freedom? And here was he,
engaged for a prince, that had scarce heard the word “liberty”; that
priests and women, tyrants by nature both, made a tool of. The misanthrope
was in no better humour after hearing that story, and his grim face more
black and yellow than ever.



Chapter X. We Entertain A Very Distinguished Guest At Kensington


Should any clue be found to the dark intrigues at the latter end of Queen
Anne’s time, or any historian be inclined to follow it, ’twill be
discovered, I have little doubt, that not one of the great personages
about the queen had a defined scheme of policy, independent of that
private and selfish interest which each was bent on pursuing; St. John was
for St. John, and Harley for Oxford, and Marlborough for John Churchill,
always; and according as they could get help from St. Germains or Hanover,
they sent over proffers of allegiance to the princes there, or betrayed
one to the other: one cause, or one sovereign, was as good as another to
them, so that they could hold the best place under him; and like Lockit
and Peachem, the Newgate chiefs in the _Rogues’ Opera_ Mr. Gay wrote
afterwards, had each in his hand documents and proofs of treason which
would hang the other, only he did not dare to use the weapon, for fear of
that one which his neighbour also carried in his pocket. Think of the
great Marlborough, the greatest subject in all the world, a conqueror of
princes, that had marched victorious over Germany, Flanders, and France,
that had given the law to sovereigns abroad, and been worshipped as a
divinity at home, forced to sneak out of England—his credit, honours,
places, all taken from him; his friends in the army broke and ruined; and
flying before Harley, as abject and powerless as a poor debtor before a
bailiff with a writ. A paper, of which Harley got possession, and showing
beyond doubt that the duke was engaged with the Stuart family, was the
weapon with which the treasurer drove Marlborough out of the kingdom. He
fled to Antwerp, and began intriguing instantly on the other side, and
came back to England, as all know, a Whig and a Hanoverian.

Though the treasurer turned out of the army and office every man, military
or civil, known to be the duke’s friend, and gave the vacant posts among
the Tory party; he, too, was playing the double game between Hanover and
St. Germains, awaiting the expected catastrophe of the queen’s death to be
master of the state, and offer it to either family that should bribe him
best, or that the nation should declare for. Whichever the king was,
Harley’s object was to reign over him; and to this end he supplanted the
former famous favourite, decried the actions of the war which had made
Marlborough’s name illustrious, and disdained no more than the great
fallen competitor of his, the meanest arts, flatteries, intimidations,
that would secure his power. If the greatest satirist the world ever hath
seen had writ against Harley, and not for him, what a history had he left
behind of the last years of Queen Anne’s reign! But Swift, that scorned
all mankind, and himself not the least of all, had this merit of a
faithful partisan, that he loved those chiefs who treated him well, and
stuck by Harley bravely in his fall, as he gallantly had supported him in
his better fortune.

Incomparably more brilliant, more splendid, eloquent, accomplished, than
his rival, the great St. John could be as selfish as Oxford was, and could
act the double part as skilfully as ambidextrous Churchill. He whose talk
was always of liberty, no more shrunk from using persecution and the
pillory against his opponents, than if he had been at Lisbon and Grand
Inquisitor. This lofty patriot was on his knees at Hanover and St.
Germains too; notoriously of no religion, he toasted Church and queen as
boldly as the stupid Sacheverel, whom he used and laughed at; and to serve
his turn, and to overthrow his enemy, he could intrigue, coax, bully,
wheedle, fawn on the Court favourite, and creep up the back-stair as
silently as Oxford who supplanted Marlborough, and whom he himself
supplanted. The crash of my Lord Oxford happened at this very time whereat
my history is now arrived. He was come to the very last days of his power,
and the agent whom he employed to overthrow the conqueror of Blenheim, was
now engaged to upset the conqueror’s conqueror, and hand over the staff of
government to Bolingbroke, who had been panting to hold it.

In expectation of the stroke that was now preparing, the Irish regiments
in the French service were all brought round about Boulogne in Picardy, to
pass over if need were with the Duke of Berwick; the soldiers of France no
longer, but subjects of James the Third of England and Ireland King. The
fidelity of the great mass of the Scots (though a most active, resolute,
and gallant Whig party, admirably and energetically ordered and
disciplined, was known to be in Scotland too) was notoriously unshaken in
their king. A very great body of Tory clergy, nobility, and gentry, were
public partisans of the exiled prince; and the indifferents might be
counted on to cry King George or King James, according as either should
prevail. The queen, especially in her latter days, inclined towards her
own family. The prince was lying actually in London, within a stone’s-cast
of his sister’s palace; the first minister toppling to his fall, and so
tottering that the weakest push of a woman’s finger would send him down;
and as for Bolingbroke, his successor, we know on whose side his power and
his splendid eloquence would be on the day when the queen should appear
openly before her council and say:—“This, my lords, is my brother; here is
my father’s heir, and mine after me.”

During the whole of the previous year the queen had had many and repeated
fits of sickness, fever, and lethargy, and her death had been constantly
looked for by all her attendants. The Elector of Hanover had wished to
send his son, the Duke of Cambridge—to pay his court to his cousin the
queen, the Elector said;—in truth, to be on the spot when death should
close her career. Frightened perhaps to have such a _memento mori_ under
her royal eyes, her Majesty had angrily forbidden the young prince’s
coming into England. Either she desired to keep the chances for her
brother open yet; or the people about her did not wish to close with the
Whig candidate till they could make terms with him. The quarrels of her
ministers before her face at the Council board, the pricks of conscience
very likely, the importunities of her ministers, and constant turmoil and
agitation round about her, had weakened and irritated the princess
extremely; her strength was giving way under these continual trials of her
temper, and from day to day it was expected she must come to a speedy end
of them. Just before Viscount Castlewood and his companion came from
France, her Majesty was taken ill. The St. Anthony’s fire broke out on the
royal legs; there was no hurry for the presentation of the young lord at
Court, or that person who should appear under his name; and my lord
viscount’s wound breaking out opportunely, he was kept conveniently in his
chamber until such time as his physician should allow him to bend his knee
before the queen. At the commencement of July, that influential lady, with
whom it has been mentioned that our party had relations, came frequently
to visit her young friend, the maid of honour, at Kensington, and my lord
viscount (the real or supposititious), who was an invalid at Lady
Castlewood’s house.

On the 27th day of July, the lady in question, who held the most intimate
post about the queen, came in her chair from the palace hard by, bringing
to the little party in Kensington Square, intelligence of the very highest
importance. The final blow had been struck, and my Lord of Oxford and
Mortimer was no longer treasurer. The staff was as yet given to no
successor, though my Lord Bolingbroke would undoubtedly be the man. And
now the time was come, the queen’s Abigail said: and now my Lord
Castlewood ought to be presented to the sovereign.

After that scene which Lord Castlewood witnessed and described to his
cousin, who passed such a miserable night of mortification and jealousy as
he thought over the transaction; no doubt the three persons who were set
by nature as protectors over Beatrix came to the same conclusion, that she
must be removed from the presence of a man whose desires towards her were
expressed only too clearly; and who was no more scrupulous in seeking to
gratify them than his father had been before him. I suppose Esmond’s
mistress, her son, and the colonel himself, had been all secretly debating
this matter in their minds, for when Frank broke out, in his blunt way,
with:—“I think Beatrix had best be anywhere but here,”—Lady Castlewood
said:—“I thank you, Frank, I have thought so too”; and Mr. Esmond, though
he only remarked that it was not for him to speak, showed plainly, by the
delight on his countenance, how very agreeable that proposal was to him.

“One sees that you think with us, Henry,” says the viscountess, with ever
so little of sarcasm in her tone: “Beatrix is best out of this house
whilst we have our guest in it, and as soon as this morning’s business is
done, she ought to quit London.”

“What morning’s business?” asked Colonel Esmond, not knowing what had been
arranged, though in fact the stroke next in importance to that of bringing
the prince, and of having him acknowledged by the queen, was now being
performed at the very moment we three were conversing together.

The Court-lady with whom our plan was concerted, and who was a chief agent
in it, the Court-physician, and the Bishop of Rochester, who were the
other two most active participators in our plan, had held many councils in
our house at Kensington and elsewhere, as to the means best to be adopted
for presenting our young adventurer to his sister the queen. The simple
and easy plan proposed by Colonel Esmond had been agreed to by all
parties, which was that on some rather private day, when there were not
many persons about the Court, the prince should appear there as my Lord
Castlewood, should be greeted by his sister-in-waiting, and led by that
other lady into the closet of the queen. And according to her Majesty’s
health or humour, and the circumstances that might arise during the
interview; it was to be left to the discretion of those present at it, and
to the prince himself, whether he should declare that it was the queen’s
own brother, or the brother of Beatrix Esmond, who kissed her royal hand.
And this plan being determined on, we were all waiting in very much
anxiety for the day and signal of execution.

Two mornings after that supper, it being the 27th day of July, the Bishop
of Rochester breakfasting with Lady Castlewood and her family, and the
meal scarce over, Dr. A——’s coach drove up to our house at Kensington, and
the doctor appeared amongst the party there, enlivening a rather gloomy
company; for the mother and daughter had had words in the morning in
respect to the transactions of that supper, and other adventures perhaps,
and on the day succeeding. Beatrix’s haughty spirit brooked remonstrances
from no superior, much less from her mother, the gentlest of creatures,
whom the girl commanded rather than obeyed. And feeling she was wrong, and
that by a thousand coquetries (which she could no more help exercising on
every man that came near her, than the sun can help shining on great and
small) she had provoked the prince’s dangerous admiration, and allured him
to the expression of it, she was only the more wilful and imperious the
more she felt her error.

To this party, the prince being served with chocolate in his bedchamber,
where he lay late sleeping away the fumes of his wine, the doctor came,
and by the urgent and startling nature of his news, dissipated instantly
that private and minor unpleasantry under which the family of Castlewood
was labouring.

He asked for the guest; the guest was above in his own apartment: he bade
_Monsieur Baptiste_ go up to his master instantly, and requested that _my
Lord Viscount Castlewood_ would straightway put his uniform on, and come
away in the doctor’s coach now at the door.

He then informed Madam Beatrix what her part of the comedy was to be:—“In
half an hour,” says he, “her Majesty and her favourite lady will take the
air in the cedar-walk behind the new banqueting-house. Her Majesty will be
drawn in a garden-chair, Madam Beatrix Esmond and _her brother_, _my Lord
Viscount Castlewood_, will be walking in the private garden (here is Lady
Masham’s key), and will come unawares upon the royal party. The man that
draws the chair will retire, and leave the queen, the favourite, and the
maid of honour and her brother together; Mrs. Beatrix will present her
brother, and then!—and then, my lord bishop will pray for the result of
the interview, and his Scots clerk will say Amen! Quick, put on your hood,
Madam Beatrix; why doth not his Majesty come down? Such another chance may
not present itself for months again.”

The prince was late and lazy, and indeed had all but lost that chance
through his indolence. The queen was actually about to leave the garden
just when the party reached it; the doctor, the bishop, the maid of honour
and her brother went off together in the physician’s coach, and had been
gone half an hour when Colonel Esmond came to Kensington Square.

The news of this errand, on which Beatrix was gone, of course for a moment
put all thoughts of private jealousy out of Colonel Esmond’s head. In half
an hour more the coach returned; the bishop descended from it first, and
gave his arm to Beatrix, who now came out. His lordship went back into the
carriage again, and the maid of honour entered the house alone. We were
all gazing at her from the upper window, trying to read from her
countenance the result of the interview from which she had just come.

She came into the drawing-room in a great tremor and very pale; she asked
for a glass of water as her mother went to meet her, and after drinking
that and putting off her hood, she began to speak:—“We may all hope for
the best,” says she; “it has cost the queen a fit. Her Majesty was in her
chair in the cedar-walk accompanied only by Lady ——, when we entered by
the private wicket from the west side of the garden, and turned towards
her, the doctor following us. They waited in a side-walk hidden by the
shrubs, as we advanced towards the chair. My heart throbbed so I scarce
could speak; but my prince whispered, ‘Courage, Beatrix’, and marched on
with a steady step. His face was a little flushed, but he was not afraid
of the danger. He who fought so bravely at Malplaquet fears nothing.”
Esmond and Castlewood looked at each other at this compliment, neither
liking the sound of it.

“The prince uncovered,” Beatrix continued, “and I saw the queen turning
round to Lady Masham, as if asking who these two were. Her Majesty looked
very pale and ill, and then flushed up; the favourite made us a signal to
advance, and I went up, leading my prince by the hand, quite close to the
chair: ‘Your Majesty will give my lord viscount your hand to kiss,’ says
her lady, and the queen put out her hand, which the prince kissed,
kneeling on his knee, he who should kneel to no mortal man or woman.

“ ‘You have been long from England, my lord,’ says the queen: ‘why were
you not here to give a home to your mother and sister?’

“ ‘I am come, madam, to stay now, if the queen desires me,’ says the
prince, with another low bow.

“ ‘You have taken a foreign wife, my lord, and a foreign religion; was not
that of England good enough for you?’

“ ‘In returning to my father’s Church,’ says the prince, ‘I do not love my
mother the less, nor am I the less faithful servant of your Majesty.’

“Here,” says Beatrix, “the favourite gave me a little signal with her hand
to fall back, which I did, though I died to hear what should pass; and
whispered something to the queen, which made her Majesty start and utter
one or two words in a hurried manner, looking towards the prince, and
catching hold with her hand of the arm of her chair. He advanced still
nearer towards it; he began to speak very rapidly; I caught the words,
‘Father, blessing, forgiveness,’—and then presently the prince fell on his
knees; took from his breast a paper he had there, handed it to the queen,
who, as soon as she saw it, flung up both her arms with a scream, and took
away that hand nearest the prince, and which he endeavoured to kiss. He
went on speaking with great animation of gesture, now clasping his hands
together on his heart, now opening them as though to say: ‘I am here, your
brother, in your power.’ Lady Masham ran round on the other side of the
chair, kneeling too, and speaking with great energy. She clasped the
queen’s hand on her side, and picked up the paper her Majesty had let
fall. The prince rose and made a further speech as though he would go; the
favourite on the other hand urging her mistress, and then, running back to
the prince, brought him back once more close to the chair. Again he knelt
down and took the queen’s hand, which she did not withdraw, kissing it a
hundred times; my lady all the time, with sobs and supplications, speaking
over the chair. This while the queen sat with a stupefied look, crumpling
the paper with one hand, as my prince embraced the other; then of a sudden
she uttered several piercing shrieks, and burst into a great fit of
hysteric tears and laughter. ‘Enough, enough, sir, for this time,’ I heard
Lady Masham say; and the chairman, who had withdrawn round the
banqueting-room, came back, alarmed by the cries: ‘Quick,’ says Lady
Masham, ‘get some help,’ and I ran towards the doctor, who, with the
Bishop of Rochester, came up instantly. Lady Masham whispered the prince
he might hope for the very best; and to be ready to-morrow; and he hath
gone away to the Bishop of Rochester’s house, to meet several of his
friends there. And so the great stroke is struck,” says Beatrix, going
down on her knees, and clasping her hands, “God save the King: God save
the King!”

Beatrix’s tale told, and the young lady herself calmed somewhat of her
agitation, we asked with regard to the prince, who was absent with Bishop
Atterbury, and were informed that ’twas likely he might remain abroad the
whole day. Beatrix’s three kinsfolk looked at one another at this
intelligence; ’twas clear the same thought was passing through the minds
of all.

But who should begin to break the news? Monsieur Baptiste, that is Frank
Castlewood, turned very red, and looked towards Esmond; the colonel bit
his lips, and fairly beat a retreat into the window: it was Lady
Castlewood that opened upon Beatrix with the news which we knew would do
anything but please her.

“We are glad,” says she, taking her daughter’s hand, and speaking in a
gentle voice, “that the guest is away.”

Beatrix drew back in an instant, looking round her at us three, and as if
divining a danger. “Why glad?” says she, her breast beginning to heave;
“are you so soon tired of him?”

“We think one of us is devilishly too fond of him,” cries out Frank
Castlewood.

“And which is it—you, my lord, or is it mamma, who is jealous because he
drinks my health? or is it the head of the family” (here she turned with
an imperious look towards Colonel Esmond), “who has taken of late to
preach the king sermons?”

“We do not say you are too free with his Majesty.”

“I thank you, madam,” says Beatrix, with a toss of the head and a curtsy.

But her mother continued, with very great calmness and dignity—“At least
we have not said so, though we might, were it possible for a mother to say
such words to her own daughter, your father’s daughter.”

“_Eh! mon père_,” breaks out Beatrix, “was no better than other persons’
fathers;” and again she looked towards the colonel.

We all felt a shock as she uttered those two or three French words; her
manner was exactly imitated from that of our foreign guest.

“You had not learned to speak French a month ago, Beatrix,” says her
mother, sadly, “nor to speak ill of your father.”

Beatrix, no doubt, saw that slip she had made in her flurry, for she
blushed crimson: “I have learnt to honour the king,” says she, drawing up,
“and ’twere as well that others suspected neither his Majesty nor me.”

“If you respected your mother a little more,” Frank said, “’Trix, you
would do yourself no hurt.”

“I am no child,” says she, turning round on him; “we have lived very well
these five years without the benefit of your advice or example, and I
intend to take neither now. Why does not the head of the house speak?” she
went on; “he rules everything here. When his chaplain has done singing the
psalms, will his lordship deliver the sermon? I am tired of the psalms.”
The prince had used almost the very same words, in regard to Colonel
Esmond, that the imprudent girl repeated in her wrath.

“You show yourself a very apt scholar, madam,” says the colonel; and,
turning to his mistress, “Did your guest use these words in your
ladyship’s hearing, or was it to Beatrix in private that he was pleased to
impart his opinion regarding my tiresome sermon?”

“Have you seen him alone?” cries my lord, starting up with an oath: “by
God, have you seen him alone?”

“Were he here, you wouldn’t dare so to insult me; no, you would not dare!”
cries Frank’s sister. “Keep your oaths, my lord, for your wife; we are not
used here to such language. ’Till you came, there used to be kindness
between me and mamma, and I cared for her when you never did, when you
were away for years with your horses, and your mistress, and your Popish
wife.”

“By ——,” says my lord, rapping out another oath, “Clotilda is an angel;
how dare you say a word against Clotilda?”

Colonel Esmond could not refrain from a smile, to see how easy Frank’s
attack was drawn off by that feint:—“I fancy Clotilda is not the subject
in hand,” says Mr. Esmond, rather scornfully; “her ladyship is at Paris, a
hundred leagues off, preparing baby-linen. It is about my Lord
Castlewood’s sister, and not his wife, the question is.”

“He is not my Lord Castlewood,” says Beatrix, “and he knows he is not; he
is Colonel Francis Esmond’s son, and no more, and he wears a false title;
and he lives on another man’s land, and he knows it.” Here was another
desperate sally of the poor beleaguered garrison, and an _alerte_ in
another quarter. “Again, I beg your pardon,” says Esmond. “If there are no
proofs of my claim, I have no claim. If my father acknowledged no heir,
yours was his lawful successor, and my Lord Castlewood hath as good a
right to his rank and small estate as any man in England. But that again
is not the question, as you know very well: let us bring our talk back to
it, as you will have me meddle in it. And I will give you frankly my
opinion, that a house where a prince lies all day, who respects no woman,
is no house for a young unmarried lady; that you were better in the
country than here; that he is here on a great end, from which no folly
should divert him; and that having nobly done your part of this morning,
Beatrix, you should retire off the scene awhile, and leave it to the other
actors of the play.”

As the colonel spoke with a perfect calmness and politeness, such as ’tis
to be hoped he hath always shown to women,(18) his mistress stood by him
on one side of the table, and Frank Castlewood on the other, hemming in
poor Beatrix, that was behind it, and, as it were, surrounding her with
our approaches.

Having twice sallied out and been beaten back, she now, as I expected,
tried the _ultima ratio_ of women, and had recourse to tears. Her
beautiful eyes filled with them; I never could bear in her, nor in any
woman, that expression of pain:—“I am alone,” sobbed she; “you are three
against me—my brother, my mother, and you. What have I done, that you
should speak and look so unkindly at me? Is it my fault that the prince
should, as you say, admire me? Did I bring him here? Did I do aught but
what you bade me, in making him welcome? Did you not tell me that our duty
was to die for him? Did you not teach me, mother, night and morning, to
pray for the king, before even ourselves? What would you have of me,
cousin, for you are the chief of the conspiracy against me; I know you
are, sir, and that my mother and brother are acting but as you bid them;
whither would you have me go?”

“I would but remove from the prince,” says Esmond gravely, “a dangerous
temptation; Heaven forbid I should say you would yield: I would only have
him free of it. Your honour needs no guardian, please God, but his
imprudence doth. He is so far removed from all women by his rank, that his
pursuit of them cannot but be unlawful. We would remove the dearest and
fairest of our family from the chance of that insult, and that is why we
would have you go, dear Beatrix.”

“Harry speaks like a book,” says Frank, with one of his oaths, “and, by
——, every word he saith is true. You can’t help being handsome, ’Trix; no
more can the prince help following you. My council is that you go out of
harm’s way; for, by the Lord, were the prince to play any tricks with you,
king as he is, or is to be, Harry Esmond and I would have justice of him.”

“Are not two such champions enough to guard me?” says Beatrix, something
sorrowfully; “sure, with you two watching, no evil could happen to me.”

“In faith, I think not, Beatrix,” says Colonel Esmond; “nor if the prince
knew us would he try.”

“But does he know you?” interposed Lady Esmond, very quiet: “he comes of a
country where the pursuit of kings is thought no dishonour to a woman. Let
us go, dearest Beatrix. Shall we go to Walcote or to Castlewood? We are
best away from the city; and when the prince is acknowledged, and our
champions have restored him, and he hath his own house at St. James’s or
Windsor, we can come back to ours here. Do you not think so, Harry and
Frank?”

Frank and Harry thought with her, you may be sure.

“We will go, then,” says Beatrix, turning a little pale; “Lady Masham is
to give me warning to-night how her Majesty is, and to-morrow——”

“I think we had best go to-day, my dear,” says my Lady Castlewood; “we
might have the coach and sleep at Hounslow, and reach home to-morrow. ’Tis
twelve o’clock; bid the coach, cousin, be ready at one.”

“For shame!” burst out Beatrix, in a passion of tears and mortification.
“You disgrace me by your cruel precautions; my own mother is the first to
suspect me, and would take me away as my gaoler. I will not go with you,
mother; I will go as no one’s prisoner. If I wanted to deceive, do you
think I could find no means of evading you? My family suspects me. As
those mistrust me that ought to love me most, let me leave them; I will
go, but I will go alone: to Castlewood, be it. I have been unhappy there
and lonely enough; let me go back, but spare me at least the humiliation
of setting a watch over my misery, which is a trial I can’t bear. Let me
go when you will, but alone, or not at all. You three can stay and triumph
over my unhappiness, and I will bear it as I have borne it before. Let my
gaoler-in-chief go order the coach that is to take me away. I thank you,
Henry Esmond, for your share in the conspiracy. All my life long I’ll
thank you, and remember you; and you, brother, and you, mother, how shall
I show my gratitude to you for your careful defence of my honour?”

She swept out of the room with the air of an empress, flinging glances of
defiance at us all, and leaving us conquerors of the field, but scared,
and almost ashamed of our victory. It did indeed seem hard and cruel that
we three should have conspired the banishment and humiliation of that fair
creature. We looked at each other in silence; ’twas not the first stroke
by many of our actions in that unlucky time, which, being done, we wished
undone. We agreed it was best she should go alone, speaking stealthily to
one another, and under our breaths, like persons engaged in an act they
felt ashamed in doing.

In a half-hour, it might be, after our talk she came back, her countenance
wearing the same defiant air which it had borne when she left us. She held
a shagreen-case in her hand; Esmond knew it as containing his diamonds
which he had given to her for her marriage with Duke Hamilton, and which
she had worn so splendidly on the inauspicious night of the prince’s
arrival. “I have brought back,” says she, “to the Marquis of Esmond the
present he deigned to make me in days when he trusted me better than now.
I will never accept a benefit or a kindness from Henry Esmond more, and I
give back these family diamonds, which belonged to one king’s mistress, to
the gentleman that suspected I would be another. Have you been upon your
message of coach-caller, my lord marquis; will you send your valet to see
that I do not run away?” We were right, yet, by her manner, she had put us
all in the wrong; we were conquerors, yet the honours of the day seemed to
be with the poor oppressed girl.

That luckless box containing the stones had first been ornamented with a
baron’s coronet, when Beatrix was engaged to the young gentleman from whom
she parted, and afterwards the gilt crown of a duchess figured on the
cover, which also poor Beatrix was destined never to wear. Lady Castlewood
opened the case mechanically and scarce thinking what she did; and behold,
besides the diamonds, Esmond’s present, there lay in the box the enamelled
miniature of the late duke, which Beatrix had laid aside with her mourning
when the king came into the house; and which the poor heedless thing very
likely had forgotten.

“Do you leave this, too, Beatrix?” says her mother, taking the miniature
out and with a cruelty she did not very often show; but there are some
moments when the tenderest women are cruel, and some triumphs which angels
can’t forgo.(19)

Having delivered this stab, Lady Esmond was frightened at the effect of
her blow. It went to poor Beatrix’s heart; she flushed up and passed a
handkerchief across her eyes, and kissed the miniature, and put it into
her bosom:—“I had forgot it,” says she; “my injury made me forget my
grief, my mother has recalled both to me. Farewell, mother, I think I
never can forgive you; something hath broke between us that no tears nor
years can repair. I always said I was alone; you never loved me, never—and
were jealous of me from the time I sat on my father’s knee. Let me go
away, the sooner the better; I can bear to be with you no more.”

“Go, child,” says her mother, still very stern; “go and bend your proud
knees and ask forgiveness; go, pray in solitude for humility and
repentance. ’Tis not your reproaches that make me unhappy, ’tis your hard
heart, my poor Beatrix; may God soften it, and teach you one day to feel
for your mother!”

If my mistress was cruel, at least she never could be got to own as much.
Her haughtiness quite overtopped Beatrix’s; and, if the girl had a proud
spirit, I very much fear it came to her by inheritance.



Chapter XI. Our Guest Quits Us As Not Being Hospitable Enough


Beatrix’s departure took place within an hour, her maid going with her in
the post-chaise, and a man armed on the coach-box to prevent any danger of
the road. Esmond and Frank thought of escorting the carriage, but she
indignantly refused their company, and another man was sent to follow the
coach, and not to leave it till it had passed over Hounslow Heath on the
next day. And these two forming the whole of Lady Castle wood’s male
domestics, Mr. Esmond’s faithful John Lockwood came to wait on his
mistress during their absence, though he would have preferred to escort
Mrs. Lucy, his sweetheart, on her journey into the country.

We had a gloomy and silent meal; it seemed as if a darkness was over the
house, since the bright face of Beatrix had been withdrawn from it. In the
afternoon came a message from the favourite to relieve us somewhat from
this despondency. “The queen hath been much shaken,” the note said; “she
is better now, and all things will go well. Let _my Lord Castlewood_ be
ready against we s