Part 1 out of 6
Boys and Girls from Thackeray
By Kate Dickinson Sweetser
Pictures by GEORGE ALFRED WILLIAMS
William Makepeace Thackeray--the name is dear to all lovers of classic
fiction, who have wandered in enchanted lands, following the fortunes of
Colonel Newcome, Becky Sharp, Henry Esmond, and a host of other familiar
characters created by the great novelist.
To an unusual degree, Thackeray dwells on the childhood and youth of the
characters he depicts, lingering fondly and in details over the pranks
and pastimes, the school and college days of his heroes and heroines, as
though he wished to call especial attention to the interest of that
portion of their career.
That Thackeray has so emphasised his sketches of juvenile life, warrants
the presentation of those sketches in this volume and as complete
stories, without the adult intrigue and plot with which they are
surrounded in the novels from which they are taken. The object in so
presenting them is twofold: namely, to create an interest in Thackeray's
work among young readers to whom he has heretofore been unknown, and to
form a companion volume to those already given such a hearty
welcome--Boys and Girls from Dickens and George Eliot.
NEW YORK, 1907.
BECKY SHARP AT SCHOOL
CUFF'S FIGHT WITH "FIGS"
GEORGE OSBORNE--RAWDON CRAWLEY
CLIVE AND ETHEL NEWCOME
BOYS AND GIRLS _from_ THACKERAY
[Illustration: HENRY ESMOND AND THE CASTLEWOODS.]
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.
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, I believe," 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 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; and the new Viscountess, after walking down the gallery,
came back to the lad, took his hand again, placing her other fair hand on
his head, saying some words to him which were so kind, so sweet that the
boy felt as if the touch of a superior being, or angel, smote him down to
the ground, and he 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. 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, who knew for what calling
the lad was intended, and adding: "Welcome, kinsman."
"He is saying his prayers to mamma," says the little girl, and my lord
burst out into another great laugh at this, and kinsman Harry 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 these 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 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 dependent; 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 a feast was got ready, and guns were fired, and
tenants and domestics huzzahed when his carriage rolled into the
court-yard of the Hall, no one took any notice of young Henry Esmond, who
sat alone in the book-room until his new friends found him.
When my lord and lady were going away from the book-room, the little
girl, still holding him by the hand, bade him come too.
"Thou wilt always forsake an old friend for a new one, Trix," says her
father 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, lovingly; and 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 him '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 everyone seemed
to be there.
Presently, however, as the sun was setting, the little heir was sent
howling to bed, while the more fortunate little Trix was promised to
sit up for 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.
But the new Viscount Castlewood refused to hear of that, and said, "Thou
shalt sup with us, Harry, to-night! Shan't refuse a lady, shall he,
Trix?"--and Harry enjoyed the unexpected pleasure of an evening meal with
the new lord of Castlewood and his gracious family.
Later, when Harry 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. The next morning he was up and watching long before the
house was astir, longing to see that fair lady and her children again;
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
and listened while he told her 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 she asked him many more questions regarding himself, to which she
received brief replies, the substance of which was afterward amplified
into certain facts concerning the past of the orphan boy, which it is
well to note here and now.
It seemed that in former days, in a little cottage in the village of
Ealing, near to London, 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 England. With this old man lived a
little lad, who went by the name of Henry Thomas, but who was no other
than Henry Esmond. 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
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 shake his head. 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 new 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 had 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. So he 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 unjust stepmother gave him plenty to eat before he went away,
and did not beat him once, but 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 pretended to cry; but Harry thought it was only a
sham, and sprung quite delighted upon the horse upon which the lackey
helped him. This lackey 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 among French people, and
being called the Little Frenchman by other boys on Ealing Green.
The lackey was very talkative 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
patron; 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 that he was to be educated for the priesthood. 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
Mr. Holt, the priest, took the child by the hand and brought him to this
grand languid nobleman, who sat in a great cap and flowered
morning-gown, sucking oranges. He patted Harry on the head and gave him
an orange, and directed Blaise to 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 remembered to his life's end the delights of those days. He was taken
to see a play, 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 book: sellers'
shops on it, looking like a street, and the tower of London, with the
Armour, and the great lions and bears in the moat--all under company of
Presently, of an early morning, all the party set forth for the country,
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 Father Holt
took pity on him and gave the child a little bed in his chamber.
His artless talk and answers very likely inclined this gentleman in his
favour, for next day Mr. Holt said Harry should ride behind him, and not
with the French lackey; 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. The lad so pleased the gentleman 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.
At length, on the third day, at evening, they came to a village on the
green with elms around it, 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 anyone, 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 Dr. Tusher. Take off your hat, sirrah, and salute
"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 they 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.
Taking Harry by the hand as soon as they were both descended from their
horses, Mr. Holt led him across the court, 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. 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 slippers with red
heels; and an odour of musk was shaken out of her garments whenever she
moved or quitted the room, leaning on her tortoise-shell stick, little
Fury, the dog, barking at her heels, and Mrs. Tusher, the parson's wife,
by her side.
"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 Madame Tusher."
Upon my lady the boy's whole attention was for a time directed. He could
not keep his great eyes 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 Madame Tusher.
"Have done, you silly Maria," said Lady Castlewood, adding, "Come and
kiss my hand, child"; and little Harry Esmond took and dutifully kissed
the lean old hand, upon the gnarled knuckles of which there glittered a
"To kiss that hand would make many a pretty fellow happy!" cried Mrs.
Tusher; on which my lady cried 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 on whom this
artless flattery was bestowed, for, having gone down on his knee (as
Father Holt had directed him, and the fashion then was) and performed his
obeisance, she asked, "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."
Harry then 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 Madame 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. Madame Tusher is attached to my lady,
having been her waiting-woman before she was married, in the old lord's
time. She married Dr. 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 Saint Peter the head of your church?--Dr. Rabbits of Ealing
told us so."
The Father said, "Yes, he was."
"But Saint 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 a 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, 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 in
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 looked to the north, and communicated 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 more 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,
The Restoration did not bring enough money to the Lord Castlewood to
restore this ruined part of his house, where were the morning parlours,
and above them the long music-gallery. Before this stretched the
garden-terrace, where 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 a wooded height
beyond, that is called Cromwell's Battery to this day.
Young Harry Esmond soon 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
Also there came in these times to Father Holt many private visitors,
whom, after a little, Henry Esmond had no difficulty in recognising as
priests of the Father's order, whatever their dresses (and they
adopted all sorts) might be. They were closeted with the Father
constantly, and often came and rode away without paying their respects
to my lord and lady.
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 their walks was to
tell Harry of the glories of his order, of the Jesuits, an order founded
by Ignatius Loyola, whose members were intimately associated with
intrigues of church and state. He told Harry 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 Henry Esmond thought that to belong to the Jesuits was
the 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 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; like Harry, was to be bred up for an English
priest, and would get a college scholarship and fellowship from his
school, 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 Saint
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.
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, my Lord Castlewood
and Lady Isabella left the country for London, taking Father Holt 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 brain with the great books he found there.
After a while, however, 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 and his
wife and children. These had their lodging in the gate-house hard by.
with a door into the court. That with a window looking out on the green
was the Chaplain's room; and next to this was 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
Commonwealthmen. When Father Holt was at Castlewood little Harry Esmond
acted as his familiar 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.
Great public events were happening at this time, of which the simple
young page took little count. But one day, before the family went to
London, 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 forever!" "Down with the Pope!" "No Popery! no Popery!" 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!"
James the coachman was more afraid of his mistress than of the mob,
probably, for he whipped on his horses as he was bidden, and the post-boy
that rode with the first pair 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.
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, a great big saddler's apprentice of
the town, laughed, and stooped to pick up another potato. The crowd had
gathered quite between the horses and 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, "Huzzah, 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 with a great air of authority). "Make
way, and let her ladyship's carriage pass."
The men actually did make way, and the horses went on, my lord walking
after them with his hat on his head.
This mob was one of many thousands that were going about the country at
that time, huzzahing for the acquittal of seven bishops who had been
tried just then, and about whom little Harry Esmond knew scarce anything.
The party from Castlewood were on their way to Hexton, where there was a
great meeting of the gentry. 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 inn, 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 cruel name, 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.
Very soon after this my lord and lady went to London with Mr. Holt,
leaving 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 staunch Tory and kings-man, as all the Esmonds were.
Harry 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 plenty of protectors for Castlewood inmates in any
sort of invasion.
One day at dawn, 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 he and John Lockwood, the porter's
son, might go to the pond and see what fortune had brought them. It might
have been four o'clock when he heard the door of Father Holt's chamber
open. Harry jumped up, thinking for certain it was a robber, or hoping
perhaps for a ghost, and, flinging open his own door, saw a light inside
Father Holt's room, 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.
"_Silentium!_" whispered the other; "'tis I, my boy!" holding his hand
out, and Harry recognised Father Holt. A curtain was over the window
that looked to the court, and he saw that the smoke came from a great
flame of papers burning in a bowl 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; "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, but
without thinking, at the paper before him; but though he had seen it
before, he could not understand a word of it. They burned the papers
until scarce any traces of them remained.
Harry had been accustomed to seeing Father Holt in more dresses than one;
it not being safe, or worth the danger, for Popish priests to wear their
proper dress; so he was 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 a wardrobe, which he
usually kept locked, but from which he now took out two or three dresses
and wigs of different colours, and a couple of swords, 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
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 Father 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. "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
"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 onto 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 Harry how, by pressing on the base of the
window, the whole framework descended into a cavity worked below, from
which it could be 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 firmly as ever, seemingly, in the stone arch overhead.
Esmond, young as he was, would have died sooner than betray his friend
and master, as Mr. Holt well knew; so, then, when 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 later.
The Prince of Orange was then at Salisbury, as young Esmond learned from
seeing Dr. Tusher in his best cassock, with a great orange cockade in his
broad-leafed hat, and Nahun, 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 Salisbury to
pay his duty to his Highness the Prince. 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 bade
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.
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, where they opened the drawers
and 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. To the
questions which the gentlemen 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 that time, and looked as innocent as boys of his age.
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 Mrs. Worksop used to tell to the idle little page,
who enjoyed the exciting narratives. 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 that she did not believe there was
a word of truth in the promises of toleration that Dutch monster made, or
a single word the perjured wretch said. My lord and lady being loyal
followers of the banished king, 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 character of the people he lived with.
Father Holt came to the Hall constantly, but officiated no longer openly
as chaplain. 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 secret window in Father Holt's room, though how often 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 he 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 lookout on the 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. It was lucky that there was 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 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 the Castlewood's county. Of late he had
taken a greater lead in affairs than before, having the indefatigable Mr.
Holt at his elbow, who was the most considerable person in that 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 loyal 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, those overthrown, and their indomitable
little master away in Ireland, it was thought that their side might move
on London itself, and a confident victory was predicted for the King.
While these great matters were in agitation, one day, it must have been
about the month of July, 1600, my lord, in a great horseman's coat, under
which Harry could see the shining of a steel breastplate he had on,
called the boy to him, 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 weeping
from her apartment.
"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 discussion, which presently ended, my
lord putting his horse into a canter after taking off his hat 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, and so they disappeared.
That evening those left behind had a great panic, the cow-boy coming at
milking-time riding one of the Castlewood horses, which he had found
grazing at the outer park-wall. It was quite in the grey of the morning
when the porter's bell rang, and old Lockwood let him in. He had gone
with him in the morning, and 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
watch, 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 cross-way.
"Sir," says he to the officer, "we are four to two; will you be so kind
as to take that road, and leave me 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; and 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. My lord's party rode on; shortly after midday heard firing, then
met a horseman who told them that the regiments declared an hour too
soon. General Ginckel was down upon them, and the whole thing was at an
end. "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 Harry, "you must go back to Castlewood and
deliver these," and Blaise went back and 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 other paper.
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 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 her departure, young John Lockwood came 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. John had
but two minutes the start of them, and, ere he had well told his story,
the troop rode into the court-yard.
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, and, preceded by their
commander and a lawyer, were conducted to the stair leading up to the
part of the house which my lord and lady inhabited. The Captain and the
lawyer came through the ante-room to the tapestry parlour, 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 a-bed," said the page.
"What complaint has she?" asked the Captain.
The boy said, "The rheumatism!"
"Rheumatism! that's a bad 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?"
"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 her maid 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
"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 of
Castlewood, of Robert Tusher, Vicar of Castlewood, and Henry Holt, known
under various other names, 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 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.
"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, chatting in her half-French and half-English jargon,
opened while the Captain examined one drawer after another; but, as Harry
Esmond thought, rather carelessly, as if he was only conducting the
examination for form's sake.
Before one of the cupboards Victoire flung herself down, 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 search. 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
"Is it your commission to insult ladies as well as to arrest
"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 authorised 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 wrenching away one of the
pillows, said, "Look! did not I tell you so? Here is a pillow stuffed
with paper. 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
under the white nightdress, 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 we 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, who were King James's friends; also 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. There were various letters from the nobility and gentry,
some ardent and some doubtful, and all valuable to the men who found
them, for reasons which the lad knew little about; 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
The seizure of the papers effected, the gentlemen did not pursue their
further search through Castlewood House very rigorously. They only
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 bowl, 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?" he added, turning round as he saw the
"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,
"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
A soldier, with a good-humoured face, came in at the summons, saluting
"Tell us what is this, Dick Steele," says the lawyer.
"'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 the old lady."
"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 language.
"What does he say?" says the lawyer.
"I said I was not ignorant of misfortune myself, and had learned to
succor the miserable, and that's not your trade, Mr. Sheepskin," said
"You had better leave Dick the Scholar alone, Mr. Corbett!" the Captain
said. And Harry Esmond, always touched by a kind face and a kind word,
felt very grateful to this good-natured champion.
The horses were by this time harnessed to the coach; and my Lady Isabella
was consigned to that vehicle 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.
After the departure of the countess, Dick the Scholar took Harry Esmond
under his special protection, and would talk to him both of French and
Latin, in which tongues the lad found 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, showed a great deal of theological
science, and knowledge of the points at issue between the Catholic and
Protestant churches; so that he and Harry would have hours of
controversy together, with which conversations the long days of the
trooper's stay at Castlewood were whiled away. Though the other troopers
were all gentlemen, they seemed ignorant and vulgar to Harry Esmond, with
the exception of this good-natured Corporal Steele, Scholar, although
Captain Westbury and Lieutenant Trant were always kind to the lad.
They remained for some months at Castlewood, and Harry learned from them,
from time to time, how Lady Isabella was being treated at Hexton Castle,
and the particulars of her confinement there. 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,
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. She even 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 hearing of his
kinswoman's scrape, came to visit her in prison, offering any friendly
services which lay in his power. He brought, too, his lady and little
daughter, Beatrix, the latter a child of great beauty and many winning
ways, to whom the old viscountess took not a little liking, and who was
permitted after that to go often and visit the prisoner.
And now there befell an event by which Lady Isabella recovered her
liberty, and the house of Castlewood got a new owner, Colonel Francis
Esmond, and fatherless little Harry Esmond, the new and most kind
protector and friend, whom we met at the opening of this story. My Lord
of Castlewood was wounded at the battle of the Boyne, flying from which
field he lay for a while concealed in a marsh, and more from cold and
fever caught in the bogs than from the steel of the enemy in the
In those days letters were slow of travelling, and that of a priest
announcing my lord's death took two months or more on its journey from
Ireland to England. When it did arrive, Lady Isabella was still
confined in Hexton Castle, but the letter was opened at Castlewood by
Harry Esmond well remembered the receipt of this letter, which was
brought in as Captain Westbury and Lieutenant Trant were on the Green
playing at Bowls, young Esmond looking on at the sport.
"Something has happened to Lord Castlewood," Captain Westbury said, in a
very grave tone. "He is dead of a wound received at the Boyne, fighting
for King James. I hope he has provided for thee somehow. Thou hast only
him to depend on now."
Harry did not know, he said. He was in the hands of Heaven, as he had
been all the rest of his life. That night as he lay in the darkness he
thought with a pang how Father Holt and two or three soldiers, his
acquaintances of the last six weeks, were the only friends he had in the
great wide world. The soul of the boy was full of love, and he longed as
he lay in the darkness there for someone upon whom he could bestow it.
Lady Isabella was in prison, his patron was dead, Father Holt was
gone,--he knew not where,--Tom Tusher was far away. To whom could he turn
now for comradeship?
He remembered to his dying day the thoughts and tears of that long
night--was there any child in the whole world so unprotected as he?
The next day the gentlemen of the guard, who had heard what had befallen
him, were more than usually kind to the child, and upon talking the
matter over with Dick they decided that Harry should stay where he was,
and abide his fortune; so he stayed on at Castlewood after the garrison
had been ordered away. He was sorry when the kind soldiers vacated
Castlewood, and looked forward with no small anxiety to his fate when the
new lord and lady of the house,--Colonel Francis Esmond and his
wife,--should come to live there. He was now past twelve years old and
had an affectionate heart, tender to weakness, that would gladly attach
itself to somebody, and would not feel at rest until it had found a
friend who would take charge of it.
Then came my lord and lady into their new domain, and my lady's
introduction to the little lad, whom she found in the book-room, as we
The instinct which led Henry Esmond to admire and love the gracious
person, the fair apparition, whose beauty and kindness so moved him when
he first beheld her, became soon a passion of gratitude, which entirely
filled his young heart. There seemed, as the boy thought, in her every
look or gesture, an angelic softness and bright pity. In motion or repose
she seemed gracious alike; the tone of her voice, though she spoke words
ever so trivial, gave him a pleasure that amounted almost to pain. It
could not be called love, that a lad of his age felt for 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, follow, adore her, became the
business of his life.
As for my Lord Castlewood, he was good-humoured, of a temper naturally
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, breaking horses, riding at the
ring, pitching the quoit, playing at all games with great skill. He was
fond of the parade of dress, and also fond of having his lady well
dressed; who spared no pains in that matter to please him. Indeed, she
would dress her head or cut it off if he had bidden her.
My Lord Viscount took young Esmond into his special favour, luckily for
the lad. A very few months after my lord's coming to Castlewood in the
winter time, little Frank being a child in petticoats, trotting about, it
happened that little Frank was with his father after dinner, who fell
asleep, heedless of the child, who crawled to the fire. 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. Esmond,
rushing forward, tore the dress off, so that his own hands were burned
more than the little boy's, who was frightened rather than hurt by the
accident. As my lord was sleeping heavily, it certainly was providential
that a resolute person should have come in at that instant, or the child
would have been burned to death.
Ever after this, the father was loud in his expressions of remorse, and
of admiration for Harry Esmond, and had the tenderest regard for his
son's preserver. 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
grew up in this little household, 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.
My lady had three idols: her lord, the good Viscount of Castlewood,--her
little son, who had his father's looks and curly, brown hair,--and her
daughter Beatrix, who had his eyes--were there ever such beautiful eyes
in the world?
A pretty sight it was to see the fair mistress of Castlewood, her little
daughter at her knee, and her domestics gathered around 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 kneeling in a line opposite their
mistress. For a while Harry Esmond as a good papist kept apart from these
mysteries, but Dr. Tusher, showing him that the prayers read were those
of the Church of all ages, 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 her so much that he would
have subscribed to anything she bade him at that time, and the happiest
period of all his life was this: when the young mother, with her daughter
and son, and the orphan lad whom she protected, read and worked and
played, and were children together.
But as Esmond grew, and observed for himself, he found much to read and
think of outside that fond circle of kinsfolk. 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, useless 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, knowing that some day her
predictions would come true.
Meanwhile evil fortune came upon the inmates of Castlewood Hall; brought
thither by no other than Harry himself. In those early days, before Lady
Mary Wortley Montague brought home the custom of inoculation from Turkey,
smallpox was considered, as indeed it was, the most dreadful scourge of
the world. The pestilence would enter a village and destroy half its
inhabitants. At its approach not only the beautiful, but the strongest
were alarmed, and those fled who could.
One day in the year 1694 Dr. Tusher ran into Castlewood House with a face
of consternation, saying that the malady had made its appearance in the
village, that a child at the Inn was down with the smallpox.
Now there was a pretty girl at this Inn, Nancy Sievewright, the
blacksmith's daughter, a bouncing, fresh-looking lass, with whom Harry
Esmond in his walks and rambles often happened to fall in; or, failing to
meet her, he would discover some errand to be done at the blacksmith's,
or would go to the Inn to find her.
When Dr. Tusher brought the news that smallpox was at the Inn, Henry
Esmond's first thought was of alarm for poor Nancy, and then of disquiet
for the Castlewood family, lest he might have brought this infection to
them; for the truth is, that Mr. Harry had been sitting that day for an
hour with Nancy Sievewright, holding her little brother, who had
complained of headache, on his knee; and had also since then been drawing
pictures and telling stories to little Frank Castlewood, who had occupied
his knee for an hour after dinner, and was never tired of Henry's tales
of soldiers and horses. As luck would have it, Beatrix had not that
evening taken her usual place, which generally she was glad enough to
take, 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 her mother's arms if she saw Frank had been
there before her; she would turn pale and red with rage if she caught
signs of 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 too; 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 childish sarcasm 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.
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
had refused to take that place, seeing it had been 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--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 no one but Fido all the
rest of her life.
When, then, Dr. Tusher brought the news that the little boy at the Inn
was ill with the smallpox, poor Harry Esmond felt a shock of alarm, not
so much for himself as for little Frank, whom he might have brought into
peril. Beatrix, who had by this time 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 attentive 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 toward Esmond, he started back, and placed the
great chair on which he was sitting between him and her--saying in
French to Lady Castlewood, "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 cried, very angry,
and turning red. "I thank you, sir, for giving him such company.
Beatrix," she continued 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"--this to Dr. Tusher--adding to Harry: "and you,
sir, had not you better go back to your friends at the Inn?"
Her eyes, ordinarily so kind, darted flashes of anger as she spoke; and
she tossed up her head with the mien of a Princess, adding such words of
reproach and indignation that Harry Esmond, to whom she had never once
before uttered a syllable of unkindness, stood for some moments
bewildered with grief and rage at the injustice of her reproaches. He
turned quite white from red, and answered her in a low voice, ending his
little speech with these words, addressed to Lord Castlewood: "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, took the
rough hand of his benefactor and kissed it.
Here my lady burst into a flood of tears, and quitted the room, as my
lord raised up Harry Esmond from his kneeling posture, put his broad hand
on the lad's shoulder, and spoke kindly to him. Then, suddenly
remembering that Harry might have brought the infection with him, he
stepped back suddenly, saying, "Keep off, Harry, my boy; there is no good
in running into the wolf's jaws, you know!"
My lady, who had now returned to the room, said: "There is no use, my
lord. 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!" cried my lord. "I've been smoking, 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 to-morrow to Wolcott."
"I have no fear, my lord," said my lady; "it broke out in our house when
I was an infant, and when four of my sisters had it at home, two years
before our marriage, I escaped it."
"I won't run the risk," said my lord; "I am 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
Then my lord, calling away Tusher, bade him come to the oak parlour and
have a pipe. When my lady and Harry Esmond were alone there was a silence
of some moments, after which her ladyship spoke in a hard, dry voice of
her objections to his intimacy with the blacksmith's daughter, and she
added, "Under all the circumstances I shall beg my lord to despatch you
from this house 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 am sure, for much that you have taught me. And--I
wish you a good-night."
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 forever 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. And he could
not get to sleep until daylight, and woke with a violent headache, and
He had brought the contagion with him from the Inn, sure enough, and was
presently laid up with the smallpox, which spared the Hall no more than
it did the cottage.
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 that Lady Castlewood was down with it,
with a couple more of the household. "It was a Providence, for which we
all ought to be thankful," Dr. Tusher said, "that my lady and her son
were spared, while death carried off the poor domestics of the house;"
and he rebuked Harry for asking in his simply way, for which we ought to
be thankful; that the servants were killed or the gentlefolk were saved?
Nor could young Esmond agree with the Doctor that the malady had not in
the least impaired my lady's charms, for 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 scars on
her face, except one on her forehead, but the delicacy of her complexion
was gone, her eyes had lost their brilliancy and her face looked older.
When Tusher vowed and protested that this was not so, in the presence of
my lady, the lad broke out impulsively, and said, "It is true; my
mistress is not near so handsome as she was!" On which poor Lady
Castlewood gave a rueful smile, and a look into a little 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 on the face of the lady whom he loved best filled
Esmond's heart with a soft of rage of pity, and 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
caused her malady; and Dr. Tusher told him that he was a bear indeed, and
a bear he would remain, after 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
"Madam, you have the dearest, and kindest, and sweetest face in the
world, I think," the lad said.
"Will my lord think so when he comes back?" the lady asked with a sigh,
and another look at her glass. Then turning to her young son she said,
"Come, Frank, come, my child. You are well, praised be Heaven. _Your_
locks are not thinned by this dreadful smallpox; nor your poor face
scarred--is it, my angel?"
Frank began to shout and whimper at the idea of such a misfortune, for
from the very earliest time the young lord had been taught by his mother
to admire his own beauty; and esteemed it very highly.
At length, when the danger was quite over, it was announced that my lord
and Beatrix would return. Esmond well remembered the day. My lady 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.
Would my lord--who cared so much for physical perfection--find hers gone,
too? A minute would say. She saw him come riding over the bridge, clad in
scarlet, and mounted on his grey hackney, his little daughter beside him,
in a bright riding dress of blue, on a shining chestnut horse. My lady
put her handkerchief to her eyes, and withdrew it, laughing hysterically.
She ran to her room again, and came back with pale cheeks and red eyes,
her son beside her, 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!" he exclaimed good-naturedly, "you look as gaunt as a
greyhound. The smallpox hasn't improved your beauty, and you never had
too much of it--ho!"
And he laughed and sprang to the ground, looking handsome and red, with a
jolly face and brown hair. Esmond, kneeling again, as soon as his patron
had descended, performed his homage, and then went to help the little
Beatrix 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 he lived the marks of the disease.
My lord laughed again, in high good-humour, exclaiming with one of his
usual oaths, "The little minx 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 Ann--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 kiss you before
I 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
alone under the tapestry curtain that hung before the drawing-room door.
Esmond always 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.
After her lord's return, Harry Esmond watched my lady's countenance with
solicitous affection, and noting its sad, depressed look realised that
there was a marked change in her. In her eagerness to please her husband
she practised a hundred arts which had formerly pleased him, charmed him,
but in vain. Her songs did not amuse him, and she hushed them and the
children when in his presence. Her silence annoyed him as much as her
speech; and it seemed as if nothing she could do or say could please him.
But for Harry Esmond his benefactress' sweet face had lost none of its
charms. It had always the kindest of looks and smiles for him; not so gay
and artless perhaps as those which Lady Castlewood had formerly worn, but
out of her griefs and cares, as will happen when trials fall upon a
kindly heart, grew up a number of thoughts and virtues which had never
come into existence, had not her sorrow given birth to them.
When Lady Castlewood found that she had lost the freshness of her
husband's admiration, she turned all her thoughts to the welfare of her
children, learning that she might teach them, and improving her many
natural gifts and accomplishments that she might impart them. She made
herself a good scholar of French, Italian, and Latin. Young Esmond was
house-tutor under her or over her, as it might happen, no more having
been said of his leaving Castlewood since the night before he came down
with the smallpox. During my lord's many absences these school days would
go on uninterruptedly: the mother and daughter learning with surprising
quickness, the latter by fits and starts only, 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 sport best,
and enjoyed marshalling the village boys, of whom he had a little court;
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. Dr. Tusher said he was a young nobleman of gallant
spirit; and Harry Esmond, who was 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.
Indeed, "Mr. Tutor," as my lady called Esmond, had now business enough on
his hands in Castlewood house. He had his pupils, besides writing my
lord's letters, and arranging his accounts for him, when these could be
got from his 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 one air from another, although he had no greater
delight in life than to hear the ladies sing. He never forgot 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 these happy days were to end soon, and it was by Lady Castlewood's
own decree that they were brought to a conclusion. It happened about
Christmas time, Harry Esmond being now past sixteen years of age, that
his old comrade, Tom Tusher, returned from school in London, a fair,
well-grown and sturdy lad, who was about to enter college, with good
marks 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 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 study under his father's guidance.
Harry Esmond could not write Latin as 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, and keeping his swords clean. Often of a night sitting in the
Chaplain's room, over his books, his verses, his rubbish, with which the
lad occupied himself, he would look up at the window, wishing 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 he was an
imagination of his mind--and for two letters which had come from him, one
from abroad, full of advice and affection, another soon after Harry had
been confirmed by the Bishop of Hexton, in which Father Holt deplored his
falling away from the true faith. But it would have taken greater
persuasion than his to induce the boy to worship other than with his
beloved mistress, and under her kind eyes he read many volumes of the
works of the famous British divines of the last age. His mistress never
tired of pursuing their texts with fond comments, or to urge those points
which her fancy dwelt on most, or her reason deemed most important.
In later life, at the University, Esmond pursued the subject in a very
different manner, as was suitable for one who was to become a clergyman.
But his heart was never much inclined towards this calling. He made up
his mind to wear 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--from obedience and necessity, rather than from choice.
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 guessed 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. All the notice, however, which she
seemed to take of his melancholy, was by a gaiety unusual to her,
attempting to dispel his gloom. She made his scholars more cheerful than
ever they had been before, and more obedient, too, 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 came 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 among her six nieces, of which Lady
Castlewood was one.
When my lord heard of the news, he made no pretence of grieving.
"The money will come very handy to furnish the music-room and the cellar,
which is getting low, and buy your ladyship a coat, and a couple of new
horses. And, Beatrix, you shall have a spinnet; 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 folk's 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," said my lady.
"Another use, my dear; and what do you know about money?" said my lord.
"And what the devil is there that I don't give you which you want?"
"I intend this money for Harry Esmond to go to college," says my lady.
"You mustn't stay longer in this dull place, but make a name for
yourself, and for us, too, Harry."
"Is Harry going away? You don't mean to say you will go away?" cried out
Frank and Beatrix in one breath.
"But he will come back; and this will always be his home," cried my lady,
with blue eyes looking a celestial kindness. "And his scholars will
always love him, won't they?"
"Rachel, you're a good woman!" exclaimed my lord, with an oath, seizing
my lady's hand. "I wish you joy!" 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 stables; 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," said little Frank, clapping his hands and jumping up.
"Let's come and see him in the stable." And Harry Esmond in his delight
and eagerness was for leaving the room that instant to arrange about
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 forever if your
ladyship bade me," he said.
"And thou wouldst be a fool for thy pains," 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 Thumpington ale."
"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 bed-chamber 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 to 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
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 the 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.
This change in his life was a very fine thing indeed for Harry, who rode
away in company of my lord, who said he should like to revisit the old
haunts of his youth, and so accompanied Harry to Cambridge. Their road
lay through London, where my Lord Viscount would have Harry stay a few
days to see 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 near London. Lady Isabella received them
cordially, and asked Harry what his profession was to be. Upon hearing
that the lad was to take orders, and to have the living of Castlewood
when old Dr. Tusher vacated it, she seemed glad that the youth should be
so provided for.
She bade Harry Esmond 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 where he and his lord were staying, and
with this welcome gift sent also a little doll for Beatrix, who, however,
was growing beyond the age of dolls by this time, and was almost as tall
as Lady Isabella.
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 that performed the journey in a single
day were not yet established, but the road was pleasant and short enough
to Harry Esmond, and he always gratefully remembered that happy holiday
which his kind patron gave him.
Henry Esmond was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, to which famous
college my lord had also in his youth belonged. My Lord Viscount was
received with great politeness by the head master, as well as by Mr.
Bridge, who was appointed to be Harry's tutor. Tom Tusher, who was by
this time a junior Soph, came to take Harry under his protection; and
comfortable rooms being provided for him, Harry's patron took leave of
him with many kind words and blessings, and an admonition to have to
behave better at the University than my lord himself had ever done.
Thus began Harry Esmond's college career, which was in no wise different
from that of a hundred other young gentlemen of that day. Meanwhile,
while he was becoming used to the manners and customs of his new life and
enjoying it thoroughly in his quiet way; at Castlewood Hall life was not
so cheerful as it had been when he was there to note his mistress' sorrow
or joy and act according to her need.
Coming home to his dear Castlewood in the third year of his academic
course, Harry was overjoyed to see again the kind blue eyes of his
mistress, when she and the children came to greet him. He found Frank
shooting up to be like his gallant father in looks and in tastes. He had
his hawks, and his spaniel dog, his little horse, and his beagles; had
learned to ride and to shoot flying, and had a small court made up of
the sons of the huntsmen and woodsmen, over whom he ruled as imperiously
as became the heir-apparent.
As for Beatrix, Esmond found her 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.
This bright creature 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, caresses; when the mother was
angry, flew to the father; 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 submissive and an artful humility. She
had been a coquette from her earliest days; had long learned the value of
her bright eyes, and tried experiments in coquetry upon rustics and
country 'squires until she should have opportunity to conquer a larger
world in later years.
When, then, Harry Esmond came home to Castlewood for his last vacation he
found his old pupil shot up into this capricious beauty; her brother, a
handsome, high-spirited, brave lad, generous and frank and kind to
everybody, save perhaps Beatrix, with whom he was perpetually at war, and
not from his, but her, fault; adoring his mother, whose joy he was. And
Lady Castlewood was no whit less gracious and attractive to Harry than in
the old days when as a lad he had first kissed her fair, protecting hand.
Such was the group who welcomed Henry Esmond on his return from college.
Not anticipating the future, not looking ahead, let us leave beautiful
Beatrix, imperious young Frank, sweet Lady Castlewood, giving a glad
welcome to their old friend and tutor. Truly we carry away a pretty
picture as we finish this chapter of Esmond's youth.
[Illustration: WARRINGTON AND GEORGE WASHINGTON.]
Henry Esmond, Esq., an officer who had served with the rank of Colonel
during the wars of Queen Anne's reign, found himself at its close
involved in certain complications, both political and private. For this
reason Mr. Esmond thought best to establish himself in Virginia, where he
took possession of a large estate conferred by King Charles I. upon his
ancestor. Mr. Esmond previously to this had married Rachel, widow of the
late Francis Castlewood, Baronet, by whom he had one daughter, afterwards
Madame Warrington, whose twin sons, George and Henry Warrington, were
known as the Virginians.
Mr. Esmond called his American house Castlewood, from the family estate
in England. The whole customs of Virginia, indeed, were fondly modelled
after the English customs. The Virginians boasted that King Charles II.
had been king in Virginia before he had been king in England. The
resident gentry were connected with good English families and lived on
their great lands after a fashion almost patriarchal. For its rough
cultivation, each estate had a multitude of hands, who were subject to
the command of the master. The land yielded their food, live stock and
game. The great rivers swarmed with fish for the taking. Their ships took
the tobacco off their private wharves on the banks of the Potomac or the
James River, and carried it to London or Bristol, bringing back English
goods and articles of home manufacture in return for the only produce
which the Virginian gentry chose to cultivate. Their hospitality was
boundless. No stranger was ever sent away from their gates. The question
of slavery was not born at the time of which we write. To be the
proprietor of black servants shocked the feelings of no Virginian
gentleman; nor, in truth, was the despotism exercised over the negro race
generally a savage one. The food was plenty; the poor black people lazy
and not unhappy. You might have preached negro-emancipation to Madame
Esmond of Castlewood as you might have told her to let the horses run
loose out of the stables; she had no doubt but that the whip and the
corn-bag were good for both.
Having lost his wife, his daughter took the management of the Colonel and
his estate, and managed both with the spirit and determination which
governed her management of every person and thing which came within her
After fifteen years' residence upon his great Virginian estate the
Colonel agreed in his daughter's desire to replace the wooden house in
which they lived, with a nobler mansion which would be more fitting for
his heirs to inherit. His daughter had a very high opinion indeed of her
ancestry, and her father, growing exquisitely calm and good-natured in
his serene declining years, humoured his child's peculiarities and
interests in an easy bantering way. Truth to tell, there were few
families in England with nobler connections than the Esmonds. The
Virginians, Madame Rachel Warrington's sons, inherited the finest blood
and traditions, and the rightful king of England had not two more
faithful little subjects than the young twins of Castlewood.
At Colonel Esmond's death, Madame Esmond, as she was thereafter called,
proclaimed her eldest son, George, heir of the estate; and Harry,
George's younger brother by half an hour, was instructed to respect his
senior. All the household was also instructed to pay him honour, and in
the whole family of servants there was only one rebel, Harry's
foster-mother, a faithful negro woman who never could be made to
understand why her child should not be first, who was handsomer and
stronger and cleverer than his brother, as she vowed; though in truth,
there was not much difference in the beauty, strength, or stature of the
twins. In disposition, they were in many points exceedingly unlike; but
in feature they resembled each other so closely that, but for the colour
of their hair, it had been difficult to distinguish them. In their beds,
and when their heads were covered with those vast ribboned nightcaps
which our great and little ancestors wore, it was scarcely possible for
any but a nurse or a mother to tell the one from the other child.
Howbeit, alike in form, we have said that they differed in temper. The
elder was peaceful, studious and silent; the younger was warlike and
noisy. He was quick at learning when he began, but very slow at
beginning. No threats of the ferule would provoke Harry to learn in an
idle fit, or would prevent George from helping his brother in his lesson.
Harry was of a strong military turn, drilled the little negroes on the
estate, and caned them like a corporal, having many good boxing-matches
with them, and never bearing malice if he was worsted; whereas George was
sparing of blows, and gentle with all about him. As the custom in all
families was, each of the boys had a special little servant assigned
him; and it was a known fact that George, finding his little wretch of a
blackamoor asleep on his master's bed, sat down beside it and brushed the
flies off the child with a feather-fan, to the horror of old Gumbo, the
child's father, who found his young master so engaged, and to the
indignation of Madame Esmond, who ordered the young negro off to the
proper officer for a whipping. In vain George implored and entreated,
burst into passionate tears and besought a remission of the sentence. His
mother was inflexible regarding the young rebel's punishment, and the
little negro went off beseeching his young master not to cry.
A fierce quarrel between mother and son ensued out of this event. Her son
would not be pacified. He said the punishment was a shame--a shame; that
he was the master of the boy, and no one--no, not his mother--had a right
to touch him; that she might order _him_ to be corrected, and that he
would suffer the punishment, as he and Harry often had, but no one should
lay a hand on his boy. Trembling with passionate rebellion against what
he conceived the injustice of the procedure, he vowed that on the day he
came of age he would set young Gumbo free; went to visit the child in the
slaves' quarters, and gave him one of his own toys.
The black martyr was an impudent, lazy, saucy little personage, who would
be none the worse for a whipping, as the Colonel, who was then living, no
doubt thought; for he acquiesced in the child's punishment when Madame
Esmond insisted upon it, and only laughed in his good-natured way when
his indignant grandson called out:
"You let mamma rule you in everything, grandpapa."
"Why so I do," says grandpapa. "Rachel, my love, the way in which I am
petticoat-ridden is so evident that even this baby has found it out."
"Then why don't you stand up like a man?" says little Harry, who always
was ready to abet his brother.
Grandpapa looked queerly.
"Because I like sitting down best, my dear," he said. "I am an old
gentleman, and standing fatigues me."
On account of a certain apish drollery and humour which exhibited itself