Part 1 out of 4
This etext was prepared by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.
Catherine: A Story
by William Makepeace Thackeray
Catherine, A Story by Ikey Solomons, Esq., Junior.
1. Introducing to the reader the chief personages of this narrative.
2. In which are depicted the pleasures of a sentimental attachment.
3. In which a narcotic is administered, and a great deal of genteel
4. In which Mrs. Catherine becomes an honest woman again.
5. Contains Mr. Brock's autobiography, and other matter.
6. The adventures of the ambassador, Mr. MacShane.
7. Which embraces a period of seven years.
8. Enumerates the accomplishments of Master Thomas Billings--
introduces Brock as Doctor Wood--and announces the execution of
9. Interview between Count Galgenstein and Master Thomas Billings,
when he informs the Count of his parentage.
10. Showing how Galgenstein and Mrs. Cat recognise each other in
Marylebone Gardens--and how the Count drives her home in his carrige.
11. Of some domestic quarrels, and the consequence thereof.
12. Treats of love, and prepares for death.
13. Being a preparation for the end.
Chapter the Last.
Another Last Chapter.
The story of "Catherine," which appeared in Fraser's Magazine in
1839-40, was written by Mr. Thackeray, under the name of Ikey
Solomons, Jun., to counteract the injurious influence of some
popular fictions of that day, which made heroes of highwaymen and
burglars, and created a false sympathy for the vicious and criminal.
With this purpose, the author chose for the subject of his story a
woman named Catherine Hayes, who was burned at Tyburn, in 1726, for
the deliberate murder of her husband, under very revolting
circumstances. Mr. Thackeray's aim obviously was to describe the
career of this wretched woman and her associates with such fidelity
to truth as to exhibit the danger and folly of investing such
persons with heroic and romantic qualities.
CHAPTER I. Introducing to the reader the chief personages of this
At that famous period of history, when the seventeenth century
(after a deal of quarrelling, king-killing, reforming,
republicanising, restoring, re-restoring, play-writing, sermon-
writing, Oliver-Cromwellising, Stuartising, and Orangising, to be
sure) had sunk into its grave, giving place to the lusty eighteenth;
when Mr. Isaac Newton was a tutor of Trinity, and Mr. Joseph Addison
Commissioner of Appeals; when the presiding genius that watched over
the destinies of the French nation had played out all the best cards
in his hand, and his adversaries began to pour in their trumps; when
there were two kings in Spain employed perpetually in running away
from one another; when there was a queen in England, with such
rogues for Ministers as have never been seen, no, not in our own
day; and a General, of whom it may be severely argued, whether he
was the meanest miser or the greatest hero in the world; when Mrs.
Masham had not yet put Madam Marlborough's nose out of joint; when
people had their ears cut off for writing very meek political
pamphlets; and very large full-bottomed wigs were just beginning to
be worn with powder; and the face of Louis the Great, as his was
handed in to him behind the bed-curtains, was, when issuing thence,
observed to look longer, older, and more dismal daily. . . .
About the year One thousand seven hundred and five, that is, in the
glorious reign of Queen Anne, there existed certain characters, and
befell a series of adventures, which, since they are strictly in
accordance with the present fashionable style and taste; since they
have been already partly described in the "Newgate Calendar;" since
they are (as shall be seen anon) agreeably low, delightfully
disgusting, and at the same time eminently pleasing and pathetic,
may properly be set down here.
And though it may be said, with some considerable show of reason,
that agreeably low and delightfully disgusting characters have
already been treated, both copiously and ably, by some eminent
writers of the present (and, indeed, of future) ages; though to
tread in the footsteps of the immortal FAGIN requires a genius of
inordinate stride, and to go a-robbing after the late though
deathless TURPIN, the renowned JACK SHEPPARD, or the embryo DUVAL,
may be impossible, and not an infringement, but a wasteful
indication of ill-will towards the eighth commandment; though it
may, on the one hand, be asserted that only vain coxcombs would dare
to write on subjects already described by men really and deservedly
eminent; on the other hand, that these subjects have been described
so fully, that nothing more can be said about them; on the third
hand (allowing, for the sake of argument, three hands to one figure
of speech), that the public has heard so much of them, as to be
quite tired of rogues, thieves, cutthroats, and Newgate
altogether;--though all these objections may be urged, and each is
excellent, yet we intend to take a few more pages from the "Old
Bailey Calendar," to bless the public with one more draught from the
Stone Jug:*--yet awhile to listen, hurdle-mounted, and riding down
the Oxford Road, to the bland conversation of Jack Ketch, and to
hang with him round the neck of his patient, at the end of our and
his history. We give the reader fair notice, that we shall tickle
him with a few such scenes of villainy, throat-cutting, and bodily
suffering in general, as are not to be found, no, not in--; never
mind comparisons, for such are odious.
* This, as your Ladyship is aware, is the polite name for Her
Majesty's Prison of Newgate.
In the year 1705, then, whether it was that the Queen of England did
feel seriously alarmed at the notion that a French prince should
occupy the Spanish throne; or whether she was tenderly attached to
the Emperor of Germany; or whether she was obliged to fight out the
quarrel of William of Orange, who made us pay and fight for his
Dutch provinces; or whether poor old Louis Quatorze did really
frighten her; or whether Sarah Jennings and her husband wanted to
make a fight, knowing how much they should gain by it;--whatever the
reason was, it was evident that the war was to continue, and there
was almost as much soldiering and recruiting, parading, pike and
gun-exercising, flag-flying, drum-beating, powder-blazing, and
military enthusiasm, as we can all remember in the year 1801, what
time the Corsican upstart menaced our shores. A recruiting-party
and captain of Cutts's regiment (which had been so mangled at
Blenheim the year before) were now in Warwickshire; and having their
depot at Warwick, the captain and his attendant, the corporal, were
used to travel through the country, seeking for heroes to fill up
the gaps in Cutts's corps,--and for adventures to pass away the
weary time of a country life.
Our Captain Plume and Sergeant Kite (it was at this time, by the
way, that those famous recruiting-officers were playing their pranks
in Shrewsbury) were occupied very much in the same manner with
Farquhar's heroes. They roamed from Warwick to Stratford, and from
Stratford to Birmingham, persuading the swains of Warwickshire to
leave the plough for the Pike, and despatching, from time to time,
small detachments of recruits to extend Marlborough's lines, and to
act as food for the hungry cannon at Ramillies and Malplaquet.
Of those two gentlemen who are about to act a very important part in
our history, one only was probably a native of Britain,--we say
probably, because the individual in question was himself quite
uncertain, and, it must be added, entirely indifferent about his
birthplace; but speaking the English language, and having been
during the course of his life pretty generally engaged in the
British service, he had a tolerably fair claim to the majestic title
of Briton. His name was Peter Brock, otherwise Corporal Brock, of
Lord Cutts's regiment of dragoons; he was of age about fifty-seven
(even that point has never been ascertained); in height about five
feet six inches; in weight, nearly thirteen stone; with a chest that
the celebrated Leitch himself might envy; an arm that was like an
opera-dancer's leg; a stomach so elastic that it would accommodate
itself to any given or stolen quantity of food; a great aptitude for
strong liquors; a considerable skill in singing chansons de table of
not the most delicate kind; he was a lover of jokes, of which he
made many, and passably bad; when pleased, simply coarse,
boisterous, and jovial; when angry, a perfect demon: bullying,
cursing, storming, fighting, as is sometimes the wont with gentlemen
of his cloth and education.
Mr. Brock was strictly, what the Marquis of Rodil styled himself in
a proclamation to his soldiers after running away, a hijo de la
guerra--a child of war. Not seven cities, but one or two regiments,
might contend for the honour of giving him birth; for his mother,
whose name he took, had acted as camp-follower to a Royalist
regiment; had then obeyed the Parliamentarians; died in Scotland
when Monk was commanding in that country; and the first appearance
of Mr. Brock in a public capacity displayed him as a fifer in the
General's own regiment of Coldstreamers, when they marched from
Scotland to London, and from a republic at once into a monarchy.
Since that period, Brock had been always with the army, he had had,
too, some promotion, for he spake of having a command at the battle
of the Boyne; though probably (as he never mentioned the fact) upon
the losing side. The very year before this narrative commences, he
had been one of Mordaunt's forlorn hope at Schellenberg, for which
service he was promised a pair of colours; he lost them, however,
and was almost shot (but fate did not ordain that his career should
close in that way) for drunkenness and insubordination immediately
after the battle; but having in some measure reinstated himself by a
display of much gallantry at Blenheim, it was found advisable to
send him to England for the purposes of recruiting, and remove him
altogether from the regiment where his gallantry only rendered the
example of his riot more dangerous.
Mr. Brock's commander was a slim young gentleman of twenty-six,
about whom there was likewise a history, if one would take the
trouble to inquire. He was a Bavarian by birth (his mother being an
English lady), and enjoyed along with a dozen other brothers the
title of count: eleven of these, of course, were penniless; one or
two were priests, one a monk, six or seven in various military
services, and the elder at home at Schloss Galgenstein breeding
horses, hunting wild boars, swindling tenants, living in a great
house with small means; obliged to be sordid at home all the year,
to be splendid for a month at the capital, as is the way with many
other noblemen. Our young count, Count Gustavus Adolphus Maximilian
von Galgenstein, had been in the service of the French as page to a
nobleman; then of His Majesty's gardes du corps; then a lieutenant
and captain in the Bavarian service; and when, after the battle of
Blenheim, two regiments of Germans came over to the winning side,
Gustavus Adolphus Maximilian found himself among them; and at the
epoch when this story commences, had enjoyed English pay for a year
or more. It is unnecessary to say how he exchanged into his present
regiment; how it appeared that, before her marriage, handsome John
Churchill had known the young gentleman's mother, when they were
both penniless hangers-on at Charles the Second's court;--it is, we
say, quite useless to repeat all the scandal of which we are
perfectly masters, and to trace step by step the events of his
history. Here, however, was Gustavus Adolphus, in a small inn, in a
small village of Warwickshire, on an autumn evening in the year
1705; and at the very moment when this history begins, he and Mr.
Brock, his corporal and friend, were seated at a round table before
the kitchen-fire while a small groom of the establishment was
leading up and down on the village green, before the inn door, two
black, glossy, long-tailed, barrel-bellied, thick-flanked,
arch-necked, Roman-nosed Flanders horses, which were the property of
the two gentlemen now taking their ease at the "Bugle Inn." The two
gentlemen were seated at their ease at the inn table, drinking
mountain-wine; and if the reader fancies from the sketch which we
have given of their lives, or from his own blindness and belief in
the perfectibility of human nature, that the sun of that autumn
evening shone upon any two men in county or city, at desk or
harvest, at Court or at Newgate, drunk or sober, who were greater
rascals than Count Gustavus Galgenstein and Corporal Peter Brock, he
is egregiously mistaken, and his knowledge of human nature is not
worth a fig. If they had not been two prominent scoundrels, what
earthly business should we have in detailing their histories? What
would the public care for them? Who would meddle with dull virtue,
humdrum sentiment, or stupid innocence, when vice, agreeable vice,
is the only thing which the readers of romances care to hear?
The little horse-boy, who was leading the two black Flanders horses
up and down the green, might have put them in the stable for any
good that the horses got by the gentle exercise which they were now
taking in the cool evening air, as their owners had not ridden very
far or very hard, and there was not a hair turned of their sleek
shining coats; but the lad had been especially ordered so to walk
the horses about until he received further commands from the
gentlemen reposing in the "Bugle" kitchen; and the idlers of the
village seemed so pleased with the beasts, and their smart saddles
and shining bridles, that it would have been a pity to deprive them
of the pleasure of contemplating such an innocent spectacle. Over
the Count's horse was thrown a fine red cloth, richly embroidered in
yellow worsted, a very large count's coronet and a cipher at the
four corners of the covering; and under this might be seen a pair of
gorgeous silver stirrups, and above it, a couple of silver-mounted
pistols reposing in bearskin holsters; the bit was silver too, and
the horse's head was decorated with many smart ribbons. Of the
Corporal's steed, suffice it to say, that the ornaments were in
brass, as bright, though not perhaps so valuable, as those which
decorated the Captain's animal. The boys, who had been at play on
the green, first paused and entered into conversation with the
horse-boy; then the village matrons followed; and afterwards,
sauntering by ones and twos, came the village maidens, who love
soldiers as flies love treacle; presently the males began to arrive,
and lo! the parson of the parish, taking his evening walk with Mrs.
Dobbs, and the four children his offspring, at length joined himself
to his flock.
To this audience the little ostler explained that the animals
belonged to two gentlemen now reposing at the "Bugle:" one young
with gold hair, the other old with grizzled locks; both in red
coats; both in jack-boots; putting the house into a bustle, and
calling for the best. He then discoursed to some of his own
companions regarding the merits of the horses; and the parson, a
learned man, explained to the villagers, that one of the travellers
must be a count, or at least had a count's horsecloth; pronounced
that the stirrups were of real silver, and checked the impetuosity
of his son, William Nassau Dobbs, who was for mounting the animals,
and who expressed a longing to fire off one of the pistols in the
As this family discussion was taking place, the gentlemen whose
appearance had created so much attention came to the door of the
inn, and the elder and stouter was seen to smile at his companion;
after which he strolled leisurely over the green, and seemed to
examine with much benevolent satisfaction the assemblage of
villagers who were staring at him and the quadrupeds.
Mr. Brock, when he saw the parson's band and cassock, took off his
beaver reverently, and saluted the divine: "I hope your reverence
won't baulk the little fellow," said he; "I think I heard him
calling out for a ride, and whether he should like my horse, or his
Lordship's horse, I am sure it is all one. Don't be afraid, sir!
the horses are not tired; we have only come seventy mile to-day, and
Prince Eugene once rode a matter of fifty-two leagues (a hundred and
fifty miles), sir, upon that horse, between sunrise and sunset."
"Gracious powers! on which horse?" said Doctor Dobbs, very solemnly.
"On THIS, sir,--on mine, Corporal Brock of Cutts's black gelding,
'William of Nassau.' The Prince, sir, gave it me after Blenheim
fight, for I had my own legs carried away by a cannon-ball, just as
I cut down two of Sauerkrauter's regiment, who had made the Prince
"Your own legs, sir!" said the Doctor. "Gracious goodness! this is
more and more astonishing!"
"No, no, not my own legs, my horse's I mean, sir; and the Prince
gave me 'William of Nassau' that very day."
To this no direct reply was made; but the Doctor looked at Mrs.
Dobbs, and Mrs. Dobbs and the rest of the children at her eldest
son, who grinned and said, "Isn't it wonderful?" The Corporal to
this answered nothing, but, resuming his account, pointed to the
other horse and said, "THAT horse, sir--good as mine is--that horse,
with the silver stirrups, is his Excellency's horse, Captain Count
Maximilian Gustavus Adolphus von Galgenstein, captain of horse and
of the Holy Roman Empire" (he lifted here his hat with much gravity,
and all the crowd, even to the parson, did likewise). "We call him
'George of Denmark,' sir, in compliment to Her Majesty's husband:
he is Blenheim too, sir; Marshal Tallard rode him on that day, and
you know how HE was taken prisoner by the Count."
"George of Denmark, Marshal Tallard, William of Nassau! this is
strange indeed, most wonderful! Why, sir, little are you aware that
there are before you, AT THIS MOMENT, two other living beings who
bear these venerated names! My boys, stand forward! Look here,
sir: these children have been respectively named after our late
sovereign and the husband of our present Queen."
"And very good names too, sir; ay, and very noble little fellows
too; and I propose that, with your reverence and your ladyship's
leave, William Nassau here shall ride on George of Denmark, and
George of Denmark shall ride on William of Nassau."
When this speech of the Corporal's was made, the whole crowd set up
a loyal hurrah; and, with much gravity, the two little boys were
lifted up into the saddles; and the Corporal leading one, entrusted
the other to the horse-boy, and so together marched stately up and
down the green.
The popularity which Mr. Brock gained by this manoeuvre was very
great; but with regard to the names of the horses and children,
which coincided so extraordinarily, it is but fair to state, that
the christening of the quadrupeds had only taken place about two
minutes before the dragoon's appearance on the green. For if the
fact must be confessed, he, while seated near the inn window, had
kept a pretty wistful eye upon all going on without; and the horses
marching thus to and fro for the wonderment of the village, were
only placards or advertisements for the riders.
There was, besides the boy now occupied with the horses, and the
landlord and landlady of the "Bugle Inn," another person connected
with that establishment--a very smart, handsome, vain, giggling
servant-girl, about the age of sixteen, who went by the familiar
name of Cat, and attended upon the gentlemen in the parlour, while
the landlady was employed in cooking their supper in the kitchen.
This young person had been educated in the village poor-house, and
having been pronounced by Doctor Dobbs and the schoolmaster the
idlest, dirtiest, and most passionate little minx with whom either
had ever had to do, she was, after receiving a very small portion of
literary instruction (indeed it must be stated that the young lady
did not know her letters), bound apprentice at the age of nine years
to Mrs. Score, her relative, and landlady of the "Bugle Inn."
If Miss Cat, or Catherine Hall, was a slattern and a minx, Mrs.
Score was a far superior shrew; and for the seven years of her
apprenticeship the girl was completely at her mistress's mercy. Yet
though wondrously stingy, jealous, and violent, while her maid was
idle and extravagant, and her husband seemed to abet the girl, Mrs.
Score put up with the wench's airs, idleness, and caprices, without
ever wishing to dismiss her from the "Bugle." The fact is, that
Miss Catherine was a great beauty, and for about two years, since
her fame had begun to spread, the custom of the inn had also
increased vastly. When there was a debate whether the farmers, on
their way from market, would take t'other pot, Catherine, by
appearing with it, would straightway cause the liquor to be
swallowed and paid for; and when the traveller who proposed riding
that night and sleeping at Coventry or Birmingham, was asked by Miss
Catherine whether he would like a fire in his bedroom, he generally
was induced to occupy it, although he might before have vowed to
Mrs. Score that he would not for a thousand guineas be absent from
home that night. The girl had, too, half-a-dozen lovers in the
village; and these were bound in honour to spend their pence at the
alehouse she inhabited. O woman, lovely woman! what strong resolves
canst thou twist round thy little finger! what gunpowder passions
canst thou kindle with a single sparkle of thine eye! what lies and
fribble nonsense canst thou make us listen to, as they were gospel
truth or splendid wit! above all what bad liquor canst thou make us
swallow when thou puttest a kiss within the cup--and we are content
to call the poison wine!
The mountain-wine at the "Bugle" was, in fact, execrable; but Mrs.
Cat, who served it to the two soldiers, made it so agreeable to
them, that they found it a passable, even a pleasant task, to
swallow the contents of a second bottle. The miracle had been
wrought instantaneously on her appearance: for whereas at that very
moment the Count was employed in cursing the wine, the landlady, the
wine-grower, and the English nation generally, when the young woman
entered and (choosing so to interpret the oaths) said, "Coming, your
honour; I think your honour called"--Gustavus Adolphus whistled,
stared at her very hard, and seeming quite dumb-stricken by her
appearance, contented himself by swallowing a whole glass of
mountain by way of reply.
Mr. Brock was, however, by no means so confounded as his captain:
he was thirty years older than the latter, and in the course of
fifty years of military life had learned to look on the most
dangerous enemy, or the most beautiful woman, with the like daring,
devil-may-care determination to conquer.
"My dear Mary," then said that gentleman, "his honour is a lord; as
good as a lord, that is; for all he allows such humble fellows as I
am to drink with him."
Catherine dropped a low curtsey, and said, "Well, I don't know if
you are joking a poor country girl, as all you soldier gentlemen do;
but his honour LOOKS like a lord: though I never see one, to be
"Then," said the Captain, gathering courage, "how do you know I look
like one, pretty Mary?"
"Pretty Catherine: I mean Catherine, if you please, sir."
Here Mr. Brock burst into a roar of laughter, and shouting with many
oaths that she was right at first, invited her to give him what he
called a buss.
Pretty Catherine turned away from him at this request, and muttered
something about "Keep your distance, low fellow! buss indeed; poor
country girl," etc. etc., placing herself, as if for protection, on
the side of the Captain. That gentleman looked also very angry; but
whether at the sight of innocence so outraged, or the insolence of
the Corporal for daring to help himself first, we cannot say. "Hark
ye, Mr. Brock," he cried very fiercely, "I will suffer no such
liberties in my presence: remember, it is only my condescension
which permits you to share my bottle in this way; take care I don't
give you instead a taste of my cane." So saying, he, in a
protecting manner, placed one hand round Mrs. Catherine's waist,
holding the other clenched very near to the Corporal's nose.
Mrs. Catherine, for HER share of this action of the Count's,
dropped another curtsey and said, "Thank you, my Lord." But
Galgenstein's threat did not appear to make any impression on Mr.
Brock, as indeed there was no reason that it should; for the
Corporal, at a combat of fisticuffs, could have pounded his
commander into a jelly in ten minutes; so he contented himself by
saying, "Well, noble Captain, there's no harm done; it IS an honour
for poor old Peter Brock to be at table with you, and I AM sorry,
"In truth, Peter, I believe thou art; thou hast good reason, eh,
Peter? But never fear, man; had I struck thee, I never would have
"I KNOW you would not," replied Brock, laying his hand on his heart
with much gravity; and so peace was made, and healths were drunk.
Miss Catherine condescended to put her lips to the Captain's glass;
who swore that the wine was thus converted into nectar; and although
the girl had not previously heard of that liquor, she received the
compliment as a compliment, and smiled and simpered in return.
The poor thing had never before seen anybody so handsome, or so
finely dressed as the Count; and, in the simplicity of her coquetry,
allowed her satisfaction to be quite visible. Nothing could be more
clumsy than the gentleman's mode of complimenting her; but for this,
perhaps, his speeches were more effective than others more delicate
would have been; and though she said to each, "Oh, now, my Lord,"
and "La, Captain, how can you flatter one so?" and "Your honour's
laughing at me," and made such polite speeches as are used on these
occasions, it was manifest from the flutter and blush, and the grin
of satisfaction which lighted up the buxom features of the little
country beauty, that the Count's first operations had been highly
successful. When following up his attack, he produced from his neck
a small locket (which had been given him by a Dutch lady at the
Brill), and begged Miss Catherine to wear it for his sake, and
chucked her under the chin and called her his little rosebud, it was
pretty clear how things would go: anybody who could see the
expression of Mr. Brock's countenance at this event might judge of
the progress of the irresistible High-Dutch conqueror.
Being of a very vain communicative turn, our fair barmaid gave her
two companions, not only a pretty long account of herself, but of
many other persons in the village, whom she could perceive from the
window opposite to which she stood. "Yes, your honour," said she--
"my Lord, I mean; sixteen last March, though there's a many girl in
the village that at my age is quite chits. There's Polly Randall
now, that red-haired girl along with Thomas Curtis: she's seventeen
if she's a day, though he is the very first sweetheart she has had.
Well, as I am saying, I was bred up here in the village--father and
mother died very young, and I was left a poor orphan--well, bless
us! if Thomas haven't kissed her!--to the care of Mrs. Score, my
aunt, who has been a mother to me--a stepmother, you know;--and I've
been to Stratford fair, and to Warwick many a time; and there's two
people who have offered to marry me, and ever so many who want to,
and I won't have none--only a gentleman, as I've always said; not a
poor clodpole, like Tom there with the red waistcoat (he was one
that asked me), nor a drunken fellow like Sam Blacksmith yonder, him
whose wife has got the black eye, but a real gentleman, like--"
"Like whom, my dear?" said the Captain, encouraged.
"La, sir, how can you? Why, like our squire, Sir John, who rides in
such a mortal fine gold coach; or, at least, like the parson, Doctor
Dobbs--that's he, in the black gown, walking with Madam Dobbs in
"And are those his children?"
"Yes: two girls and two boys; and only think, he calls one William
Nassau, and one George Denmark--isn't it odd?" And from the parson,
Mrs. Catherine went on to speak of several humble personages of the
village community, who, as they are not necessary to our story, need
not be described at full length. It was when, from the window,
Corporal Brock saw the altercation between the worthy divine and his
son, respecting the latter's ride, that he judged it a fitting time
to step out on the green, and to bestow on the two horses those
famous historical names which we have just heard applied to them.
Mr. Brock's diplomacy was, as we have stated, quite successful; for,
when the parson's boys had ridden and retired along with their mamma
and papa, other young gentlemen of humbler rank in the village were
placed upon "George of Denmark" and "William of Nassau;" the
Corporal joking and laughing with all the grown-up people. The
women, in spite of Mr. Brock's age, his red nose, and a certain
squint of his eye, vowed the Corporal was a jewel of a man; and
among the men his popularity was equally great.
"How much dost thee get, Thomas Clodpole?" said Mr. Brock to a
countryman (he was the man whom Mrs. Catherine had described as her
suitor), who had laughed loudest at some of his jokes: "how much
dost thee get for a week's work, now?"
Mr. Clodpole, whose name was really Bullock, stated that his wages
amounted to "three shillings and a puddn."
"Three shillings and a puddn!--monstrous!--and for this you toil
like a galley-slave, as I have seen them in Turkey and America,--ay,
gentlemen, and in the country of Prester John! You shiver out of
bed on icy winter mornings, to break the ice for Ball and Dapple to
"Yes, indeed," said the person addressed, who seemed astounded at
the extent of the Corporal's information.
"Or you clean pigsty, and take dung down to meadow; or you act
watchdog and tend sheep; or you sweep a scythe over a great field of
grass; and when the sun has scorched the eyes out of your head, and
sweated the flesh off your bones, and well-nigh fried the soul out
of your body, you go home, to what?--three shillings a week and a
puddn! Do you get pudding every day?"
"No; only Sundays."
"Do you get money enough?"
"Do you get beer enough?"
"Oh no, NEVER!" said Mr. Bullock quite resolutely.
"Worthy Clodpole, give us thy hand: it shall have beer enough this
day, or my name's not Corporal Brock. Here's the money, boy! there
are twenty pieces in this purse: and how do you think I got 'em?
and how do you think I shall get others when these are gone?--by
serving Her Sacred Majesty, to be sure: long life to her, and down
with the French King!"
Bullock, a few of the men, and two or three of the boys, piped out
an hurrah, in compliment to this speech of the Corporal's: but it
was remarked that the greater part of the crowd drew back--the women
whispering ominously to them and looking at the Corporal.
"I see, ladies, what it is," said he. "You are frightened, and
think I am a crimp come to steal your sweethearts away. What! call
Peter Brock a double-dealer? I tell you what, boys, Jack Churchill
himself has shaken this hand, and drunk a pot with me: do you think
he'd shake hands with a rogue? Here's Tummas Clodpole has never had
beer enough, and here am I will stand treat to him and any other
gentleman: am I good enough company for him? I have money, look
you, and like to spend it: what should _I_ be doing dirty actions
A satisfactory reply to this query was not, of course, expected by
the Corporal nor uttered by Mr. Bullock; and the end of the dispute
was, that he and three or four of the rustic bystanders were quite
convinced of the good intentions of their new friend, and
accompanied him back to the "Bugle," to regale upon the promised
beer. Among the Corporal's guests was one young fellow whose dress
would show that he was somewhat better to do in the world than
Clodpole and the rest of the sunburnt ragged troop, who were
marching towards the alehouse. This man was the only one of his
hearers who, perhaps, was sceptical as to the truth of his stories;
but as soon as Bullock accepted the invitation to drink, John Hayes,
the carpenter (for such was his name and profession), said, "Well,
Thomas, if thou goest, I will go too."
"I know thee wilt," said Thomas: "thou'lt goo anywhere Catty Hall
is, provided thou canst goo for nothing."
"Nay, I have a penny to spend as good as the Corporal here."
"A penny to KEEP, you mean: for all your love for the lass at the
'Bugle,' did thee ever spend a shilling in the house? Thee wouldn't
go now, but that I am going too, and the Captain here stands treat."
"Come, come, gentlemen, no quarrelling," said Mr. Brock. "If this
pretty fellow will join us, amen say I: there's lots of liquor, and
plenty of money to pay the score. Comrade Tummas, give us thy arm.
Mr. Hayes, you're a hearty cock, I make no doubt, and all such are
welcome. Come along, my gentleman farmers, Mr. Brock shall have the
honour to pay for you all." And with this, Corporal Brock,
accompanied by Messrs. Hayes, Bullock, Blacksmith, Baker's-boy,
Butcher, and one or two others, adjourned to the inn; the horses
being, at the same time, conducted to the stable.
Although we have, in this quiet way, and without any flourishing of
trumpets, or beginning of chapters, introduced Mr. Hayes to the
public; and although, at first sight, a sneaking carpenter's boy may
seem hardly worthy of the notice of an intelligent reader, who looks
for a good cut-throat or highwayman for a hero, or a pickpocket at
the very least: this gentleman's words and actions should be
carefully studied by the public, as he is destined to appear before
them under very polite and curious circumstances during the course
of this history. The speech of the rustic Juvenal, Mr. Clodpole,
had seemed to infer that Hayes was at once careful of his money and
a warm admirer of Mrs. Catherine of the "Bugle:" and both the
charges were perfectly true. Hayes's father was reported to be a
man of some substance; and young John, who was performing his
apprenticeship in the village, did not fail to talk very big of his
pretensions to fortune--of his entering, at the close of his
indentures, into partnership with his father--and of the comfortable
farm and house over which Mrs. John Hayes, whoever she might be,
would one day preside. Thus, next to the barber and butcher, and
above even his own master, Mr. Hayes took rank in the village: and
it must not be concealed that his representation of wealth had made
some impression upon Mrs. Hall toward whom the young gentleman had
cast the eyes of affection. If he had been tolerably well-looking,
and not pale, rickety, and feeble as he was; if even he had been
ugly, but withal a man of spirit, it is probable the girl's kindness
for him would have been much more decided. But he was a poor weak
creature, not to compare with honest Thomas Bullock, by at least
nine inches; and so notoriously timid, selfish, and stingy, that
there was a kind of shame in receiving his addresses openly; and
what encouragement Mrs. Catherine gave him could only be in secret.
But no mortal is wise at all times: and the fact was, that Hayes,
who cared for himself intensely, had set his heart upon winning
Catherine; and loved her with a desperate greedy eagerness and
desire of possession, which makes passions for women often so fierce
and unreasonable among very cold and selfish men. His parents
(whose frugality he had inherited) had tried in vain to wean him
from this passion, and had made many fruitless attempts to engage
him with women who possessed money and desired husbands; but Hayes
was, for a wonder, quite proof against their attractions; and,
though quite ready to acknowledge the absurdity of his love for a
penniless alehouse servant-girl, nevertheless persisted in it
doggedly. "I know I'm a fool," said he; "and what's more, the girl
does not care for me; but marry her I must, or I think I shall just
die: and marry her I will." For very much to the credit of Miss
Catherine's modesty, she had declared that marriage was with her a
sine qua non, and had dismissed, with the loudest scorn and
indignation, all propositions of a less proper nature.
Poor Thomas Bullock was another of her admirers, and had offered to
marry her; but three shillings a week and a puddn was not to the
girl's taste, and Thomas had been scornfully rejected. Hayes had
also made her a direct proposal. Catherine did not say no: she was
too prudent: but she was young and could wait; she did not care for
Mr. Hayes yet enough to marry him--(it did not seem, indeed, in the
young woman's nature to care for anybody)--and she gave her adorer
flatteringly to understand that, if nobody better appeared in the
course of a few years, she might be induced to become Mrs. Hayes.
It was a dismal prospect for the poor fellow to live upon the hope
of being one day Mrs. Catherine's pis-aller.
In the meantime she considered herself free as the wind, and
permitted herself all the innocent gaieties which that "chartered
libertine," a coquette, can take. She flirted with all the
bachelors, widowers, and married men, in a manner which did
extraordinary credit to her years: and let not the reader fancy
such pastimes unnatural at her early age. The ladies--Heaven bless
them!--are, as a general rule, coquettes from babyhood upwards.
Little SHE'S of three years old play little airs and graces upon
small heroes of five; simpering misses of nine make attacks upon
young gentlemen of twelve; and at sixteen, a well-grown girl, under
encouraging circumstances--say, she is pretty, in a family of ugly
elder sisters, or an only child and heiress, or a humble wench at a
country inn, like our fair Catherine--is at the very pink and prime
of her coquetry: they will jilt you at that age with an ease and
arch infantine simplicity that never can be surpassed in maturer
Miss Catherine, then, was a franche coquette, and Mr. John Hayes was
miserable. His life was passed in a storm of mean passions and
bitter jealousies, and desperate attacks upon the indifference-rock
of Mrs. Catherine's heart, which not all his tempest of love could
beat down. O cruel cruel pangs of love unrequited! Mean rogues
feel them as well as great heroes. Lives there the man in Europe
who has not felt them many times?--who has not knelt, and fawned,
and supplicated, and wept, and cursed, and raved, all in vain; and
passed long wakeful nights with ghosts of dead hopes for company;
shadows of buried remembrances that glide out of their graves of
nights, and whisper, "We are dead now, but we WERE once; and we made
you happy, and we come now to mock you:--despair, O lover, despair,
and die"?--O cruel pangs!--dismal nights!--Now a sly demon creeps
under your nightcap, and drops into your ear those soft
hope-breathing sweet words, uttered on the well-remembered evening:
there, in the drawer of your dressing-table (along with the razors,
and Macassar oil), lies the dead flower that Lady Amelia Wilhelmina
wore in her bosom on the night of a certain ball--the corpse of a
glorious hope that seemed once as if it would live for ever, so
strong was it, so full of joy and sunshine: there, in your
writing-desk, among a crowd of unpaid bills, is the dirty scrap of
paper, thimble-sealed, which came in company with a pair of
muffetees of her knitting (she was a butcher's daughter, and did all
she could, poor thing!), begging "you would ware them at collidge,
and think of her who"--married a public-house three weeks
afterwards, and cares for you no more now than she does for the
pot-boy. But why multiply instances, or seek to depict the agony of
poor mean-spirited John Hayes? No mistake can be greater than that
of fancying such great emotions of love are only felt by virtuous or
exalted men: depend upon it, Love, like Death, plays havoc among
the pauperum tabernas, and sports with rich and poor, wicked and
virtuous, alike. I have often fancied, for instance, on seeing the
haggard pale young old-clothesman, who wakes the echoes of our
street with his nasal cry of "Clo'!"--I have often, I said, fancied
that, besides the load of exuvial coats and breeches under which he
staggers, there is another weight on him--an atrior cura at his
tail--and while his unshorn lips and nose together are performing
that mocking, boisterous, Jack-indifferent cry of "Clo', clo'!" who
knows what woeful utterances are crying from the heart within?
There he is, chaffering with the footman at No. 7 about an old
dressing-gown: you think his whole soul is bent only on the contest
about the garment. Psha! there is, perhaps, some faithless girl in
Holywell Street who fills up his heart; and that desultory Jew-boy
is a peripatetic hell! Take another instance:--take the man in the
beef-shop in Saint Martin's Court. There he is, to all appearances
quite calm: before the same round of beef--from morning till
sundown--for hundreds of years very likely. Perhaps when the
shutters are closed, and all the world tired and silent, there is HE
silent, but untired--cutting, cutting, cutting. You enter, you get
your meat to your liking, you depart; and, quite unmoved, on, on he
goes, reaping ceaselessly the Great Harvest of Beef. You would
fancy that if Passion ever failed to conquer, it had in vain
assailed the calm bosom of THAT MAN. I doubt it, and would give
much to know his history.
Who knows what furious Aetna-flames are raging underneath the
surface of that calm flesh-mountain--who can tell me that that
calmness itself is not DESPAIR?
* * *
The reader, if he does not now understand why it was that Mr. Hayes
agreed to drink the Corporal's proffered beer, had better just read
the foregoing remarks over again, and if he does not understand
THEN, why, small praise to his brains. Hayes could not bear that
Mr. Bullock should have a chance of seeing, and perhaps making love
to Mrs. Catherine in his absence; and though the young woman never
diminished her coquetries, but, on the contrary, rather increased
them in his presence, it was still a kind of dismal satisfaction to
be miserable in her company.
On this occasion, the disconsolate lover could be wretched to his
heart's content; for Catherine had not a word or a look for him, but
bestowed all her smiles upon the handsome stranger who owned the
black horse. As for poor Tummas Bullock, his passion was never
violent; and he was content in the present instance to sigh and
drink beer. He sighed and drank, sighed and drank, and drank again,
until he had swallowed so much of the Corporal's liquor, as to be
induced to accept a guinea from his purse also; and found himself,
on returning to reason and sobriety, a soldier of Queen Anne's.
But oh! fancy the agonies of Mr. Hayes when, seated with the
Corporal's friends at one end of the kitchen, he saw the Captain at
the place of honour, and the smiles which the fair maid bestowed
upon him; when, as she lightly whisked past him with the Captain's
supper, she, pointing to the locket that once reposed on the breast
of the Dutch lady at the Brill, looked archly on Hayes and said,
"See, John, what his Lordship has given me;" and when John's face
became green and purple with rage and jealousy, Mrs. Catherine
laughed ten times louder, and cried "Coming, my Lord," in a voice of
shrill triumph, that bored through the soul of Mr. John Hayes and
left him gasping for breath.
On Catherine's other lover, Mr. Thomas, this coquetry had no effect:
he, and two comrades of his, had by this time quite fallen under the
spell of the Corporal; and hope, glory, strong beer, Prince Eugene,
pair of colours, more strong beer, her blessed Majesty, plenty more
strong beer, and such subjects, martial and bacchic, whirled through
their dizzy brains at a railroad pace.
And now, if there had been a couple of experienced reporters present
at the "Bugle Inn," they might have taken down a conversation on
love and war--the two themes discussed by the two parties occupying
the kitchen--which, as the parts were sung together, duetwise,
formed together some very curious harmonies. Thus, while the
Captain was whispering the softest nothings, the Corporal was
shouting the fiercest combats of the war; and, like the gentleman at
Penelope's table, on it exiguo pinxit praelia tota bero. For
CAPTAIN. What do you say to a silver trimming, pretty Catherine?
Don't you think a scarlet riding-cloak, handsomely laced, would
become you wonderfully well?--and a grey hat with a blue feather--
and a pretty nag to ride on--and all the soldiers to present arms as
you pass, and say, "There goes the Captain's lady"? What do you
think of a side-box at Lincoln's Inn playhouse, or of standing up to
a minuet with my Lord Marquis at--?
CORPORAL. The ball, sir, ran right up his elbow, and was found the
next day by Surgeon Splinter of ours,--where do you think, sir?--
upon my honour as a gentleman it came out of the nape of his--
CAPTAIN. Necklace--and a sweet pair of diamond earrings,
mayhap--and a little shower of patches, which ornament a lady's face
wondrously--and a leetle rouge--though, egad! such peach-cheeks as
yours don't want it;--fie! Mrs. Catherine, I should think the birds
must come and peck at them as if they were fruit--
CORPORAL. Over the wall; and three-and-twenty of our fellows jumped
after me. By the Pope of Rome, friend Tummas, that was a day!--Had
you seen how the Mounseers looked when four-and-twenty rampaging
he-devils, sword and pistol, cut and thrust, pell-mell came tumbling
into the redoubt! Why, sir, we left in three minutes as many
artillerymen's heads as there were cannon-balls. It was, "Ah
sacre!" "D----- you, take that!" "O mon Dieu!" "Run him through!"
"Ventrebleu!" and it WAS ventrebleu with him, I warrant you; for
bleu, in the French language, means "through;" and ventre--why, you
see, ventre means--
CAPTAIN. Waists, which are worn now excessive long; and for the
hoops, if you COULD but see them--stap my vitals, my dear, but there
was a lady at Warwick's Assembly (she came in one of my Lord's
coaches) who had a hoop as big as a tent: you might have dined
under it comfortably;--ha! ha! 'pon my faith, now--
CORPORAL. And there we found the Duke of Marlborough seated along
with Marshal Tallard, who was endeavouring to drown his sorrow over
a cup of Johannisberger wine; and a good drink too, my lads, only
not to compare to Warwick beer. "Who was the man who has done
this?" said our noble General. I stepped up. "How many heads was
it," says he, "that you cut off?" "Nineteen," says I, "besides
wounding several." When he heard it (Mr. Hayes, you don't drink) I'm
blest if he didn't burst into tears! "Noble noble fellow," says he.
"Marshal, you must excuse me if I am pleased to hear of the
destruction of your countrymen. Noble noble fellow!--here's a
hundred guineas for you." Which sum he placed in my hand. "Nay,"
says the Marshal "the man has done his duty:" and, pulling out a
magnificent gold diamond-hilted snuff-box, he gave me--
MR. BULLOCK. What, a goold snuff-box? Wauns, but thee WAST in
CORPORAL. No, not the snuff-box, but--A PINCH OF SNUFF,--ha!
ha!--run me through the body if he didn't. Could you but have seen
the smile on Jack Churchill's grave face at this piece of
generosity! So, beckoning Colonel Cadogan up to him, he pinched his
Ear and whispered--
CAPTAIN. "May I have the honour to dance a minuet with your
Ladyship?" The whole room was in titters at Jack's blunder; for, as
you know very well, poor Lady Susan HAS A WOODEN LEG. Ha! ha! fancy
a minuet and a wooden leg, hey, my dear?--
MRS. CATHERINE. Giggle--giggle--giggle: he! he! he! Oh, Captain,
you rogue, you--
SECOND TABLE. Haw! haw! haw! Well you be a foony mon, Sergeant,
* * *
This little specimen of the conversation must be sufficient. It
will show pretty clearly that EACH of the two military commanders
was conducting his operations with perfect success. Three of the
detachment of five attacked by the Corporal surrendered to him: Mr.
Bullock, namely, who gave in at a very early stage of the evening,
and ignominiously laid down his arms under the table, after standing
not more than a dozen volleys of beer; Mr. Blacksmith's boy, and a
labourer whose name we have not been able to learn. Mr. Butcher
himself was on the point of yielding, when he was rescued by the
furious charge of a detachment that marched to his relief: his wife
namely, who, with two squalling children, rushed into the "Bugle,"
boxed Butcher's ears, and kept up such a tremendous fire of oaths
and screams upon the Corporal, that he was obliged to retreat.
Fixing then her claws into Mr. Butcher's hair, she proceeded to drag
him out of the premises; and thus Mr. Brock was overcome. His
attack upon John Hayes was a still greater failure; for that young
man seemed to be invincible by drink, if not by love: and at the
end of the drinking-bout was a great deal more cool than the
Corporal himself; to whom he wished a very polite good-evening, as
calmly he took his hat to depart. He turned to look at Catherine,
to be sure, and then he was not quite so calm: but Catherine did
not give any reply to his good-night. She was seated at the
Captain's table playing at cribbage with him; and though Count
Gustavus Maximilian lost every game, he won more than he lost,--sly
fellow!--and Mrs. Catherine was no match for him.
It is to be presumed that Hayes gave some information to Mrs. Score,
the landlady: for, on leaving the kitchen, he was seen to linger
for a moment in the bar; and very soon after Mrs. Catherine was
called away from her attendance on the Count, who, when he asked for
a sack and toast, was furnished with those articles by the landlady
herself: and, during the half-hour in which he was employed in
consuming this drink, Monsieur de Galgenstein looked very much
disturbed and out of humour, and cast his eyes to the door
perpetually; but no Catherine came. At last, very sulkily, he
desired to be shown to bed, and walked as well as he could (for, to
say truth, the noble Count was by this time somewhat unsteady on his
legs) to his chamber. It was Mrs. Score who showed him to it, and
closed the curtains, and pointed triumphantly to the whiteness of
"It's a very comfortable room," said she, "though not the best in
the house; which belong of right to your Lordship's worship; but our
best room has two beds, and Mr. Corporal is in that, locked and
double-locked, with his three tipsy recruits. But your honour will
find this here bed comfortable and well-aired; I've slept in it
myself this eighteen years."
"What, my good woman, you are going to sit up, eh? It's cruel hard
on you, madam."
"Sit up, my Lord? bless you, no! I shall have half of our Cat's
bed; as I always do when there's company." And with this Mrs. Score
curtseyed and retired.
Very early the next morning the active landlady and her bustling
attendant had prepared the ale and bacon for the Corporal and his
three converts, and had set a nice white cloth for the Captain's
breakfast. The young blacksmith did not eat with much satisfaction;
but Mr. Bullock and his friend betrayed no sign of discontent,
except such as may be consequent upon an evening's carouse. They
walked very contentedly to be registered before Doctor Dobbs, who
was also justice of the peace, and went in search of their slender
bundles, and took leave of their few acquaintances without much
regret: for the gentlemen had been bred in the workhouse, and had
not, therefore, a large circle of friends.
It wanted only an hour of noon, and the noble Count had not
descended. The men were waiting for him, and spent much of the
Queen's money (earned by the sale of their bodies overnight) while
thus expecting him. Perhaps Mrs. Catherine expected him too, for
she had offered many times to run up--with my Lord's boots--with the
hot water--to show Mr. Brock the way; who sometimes condescended to
officiate as barber. But on all these occasions Mrs. Score had
prevented her; not scolding, but with much gentleness and smiling.
At last, more gentle and smiling than ever, she came downstairs and
said, "Catherine darling, his honour the Count is mighty hungry this
morning, and vows he could pick the wing of a fowl. Run down,
child, to Farmer Brigg's and get one: pluck it before you bring it,
you know, and we will make his Lordship a pretty breakfast."
Catherine took up her basket, and away she went by the back-yard,
through the stables. There she heard the little horse-boy whistling
and hissing after the manner of horseboys; and there she learned
that Mrs. Score had been inventing an ingenious story to have her
out of the way. The ostler said he was just going to lead the two
horses round to the door. The Corporal had been, and they were
about to start on the instant for Stratford.
The fact was that Count Gustavus Adolphus, far from wishing to pick
the wing of a fowl, had risen with a horror and loathing for
everything in the shape of food, and for any liquor stronger than
small beer. Of this he had drunk a cup, and said he should ride
immediately to Stratford; and when, on ordering his horses, he had
asked politely of the landlady "why the d---- SHE always came up,
and why she did not send the girl," Mrs. Score informed the Count
that her Catherine was gone out for a walk along with the young man
to whom she was to be married, and would not be visible that day.
On hearing this the Captain ordered his horses that moment, and
abused the wine, the bed, the house, the landlady, and everything
connected with the "Bugle Inn."
Out the horses came: the little boys of the village gathered round;
the recruits, with bunches of ribands in their beavers, appeared
presently; Corporal Brock came swaggering out, and, slapping the
pleased blacksmith on the back, bade him mount his horse; while the
boys hurrah'd. Then the Captain came out, gloomy and majestic; to
him Mr. Brock made a military salute, which clumsily, and with much
grinning, the recruits imitated. "I shall walk on with these brave
fellows, your honour, and meet you at Stratford," said the Corporal.
"Good," said the Captain, as he mounted. The landlady curtseyed;
the children hurrah'd more; the little horse-boy, who held the
bridle with one hand and the stirrup with the other, and expected a
crown-piece from such a noble gentleman, got only a kick and a
curse, as Count von Galgenstein shouted, "D----- you all, get out of
the way!" and galloped off; and John Hayes, who had been sneaking
about the inn all the morning, felt a weight off his heart when he
saw the Captain ride off alone.
O foolish Mrs. Score! O dolt of a John Hayes! If the landlady had
allowed the Captain and the maid to have their way, and meet but for
a minute before recruits, sergeant, and all, it is probable that no
harm would have been done, and that this history would never have
When Count von Galgenstein had ridden half a mile on the Stratford
road, looking as black and dismal as Napoleon galloping from the
romantic village of Waterloo, he espied, a few score yards onwards,
at the turn of the road, a certain object which caused him to check
his horse suddenly, brought a tingling red into his cheeks, and made
his heart to go thump--thump! against his side. A young lass was
sauntering slowly along the footpath, with a basket swinging from
one hand, and a bunch of hedge-flowers in the other. She stopped
once or twice to add a fresh one to her nosegay, and might have seen
him, the Captain thought; but no, she never looked directly towards
him, and still walked on. Sweet innocent! she was singing as if
none were near; her voice went soaring up to the clear sky, and the
Captain put his horse on the grass, that the sound of the hoofs
might not disturb the music.
"When the kine had given a pailful,
And the sheep came bleating home,
Poll, who knew it would be healthful,
Went a-walking out with Tom.
Hand in hand, sir, on the land, sir,
As they walked to and fro,
Tom made jolly love to Polly,
But was answered no, no, no."
The Captain had put his horse on the grass, that the sound of his
hoofs might not disturb the music; and now he pushed its head on to
the bank, where straightway "George of Denmark" began chewing of
such a salad as grew there. And now the Captain slid off
stealthily; and smiling comically, and hitching up his great
jack-boots, and moving forward with a jerking tiptoe step, he, just
as she was trilling the last o-o-o of the last no in the above poem
of Tom D'Urfey, came up to her, and touching her lightly on the
"My dear, your very humble servant."
Mrs. Catherine (you know you have found her out long ago!) gave a
scream and a start, and would have turned pale if she could. As it
was, she only shook all over, and said,
"Oh, sir, how you DID frighten me!"
"Frighten you, my rosebud! why, run me through, I'd die rather than
frighten you. Gad, child, tell me now, am I so VERY frightful?"
"Oh no, your honour, I didn't mean that; only I wasn't thinking to
meet you here, or that you would ride so early at all: for, if you
please, sir, I was going to fetch a chicken for your Lordship's
breakfast, as my mistress said you would like one; and I thought,
instead of going to Farmer Brigg's, down Birmingham way, as she told
me, I'd go to Farmer Bird's, where the chickens is better, sir,--my
Lord, I mean."
"Said I'd like a chicken for breakfast, the old cat! why, I told her
I would not eat a morsel to save me--I was so dru--I mean I ate such
a good supper last night--and I bade her to send me a pot of small
beer, and to tell you to bring it; and the wretch said you were gone
out with your sweetheart--"
"What! John Hayes, the creature? Oh, what a naughty story-telling
"--You had walked out with your sweetheart, and I was not to see you
any more; and I was mad with rage, and ready to kill myself; I was,
"Oh, sir! pray, PRAY don't."
"For your sake, my sweet angel?"
"Yes, for my sake, if such a poor girl as me can persuade noble
"Well, then, for YOUR sake, I won't; no, I'll live; but why live?
Hell and fury, if I do live I'm miserable without you; I am,--you
know I am,--you adorable, beautiful, cruel, wicked Catherine!"
Catherine's reply to this was "La, bless me! I do believe your
horse is running away." And so he was! for having finished his meal
in the hedge, he first looked towards his master and paused, as it
were, irresolutely; then, by a sudden impulse, flinging up his tail
and his hind legs, he scampered down the road.
Mrs. Hall ran lightly after the horse, and the Captain after Mrs.
Hall; and the horse ran quicker and quicker every moment, and might
have led them a long chase,--when lo! debouching from a twist in the
road, came the detachment of cavalry and infantry under Mr. Brock.
The moment he was out of sight of the village, that gentleman had
desired the blacksmith to dismount, and had himself jumped into the
saddle, maintaining the subordination of his army by drawing a
pistol and swearing that he would blow out the brains of any person
who attempted to run. When the Captain's horse came near the
detachment he paused, and suffered himself to be caught by Tummas
Bullock, who held him until the owner and Mrs. Catherine came up.
Mr. Bullock looked comically grave when he saw the pair; but the
Corporal graciously saluted Mrs. Catherine, and said it was a fine
day for walking.
"La, sir, and so it is," said she, panting in a very pretty and
distressing way, "but not for RUNNING. I do protest--ha!--and vow
that I really can scarcely stand. I'm so tired of running after
that naughty naughty horse!"
"How do, Cattern?" said Thomas. "Zee, I be going a zouldiering
because thee wouldn't have me." And here Mr. Bullock grinned. Mrs.
Catherine made no sort of reply, but protested once more she should
die of running. If the truth were told, she was somewhat vexed at
the arrival of the Corporal's detachment, and had had very serious
thoughts of finding herself quite tired just as he came in sight.
A sudden thought brought a smile of bright satisfaction in the
Captain's eyes. He mounted the horse which Tummas still held.
"TIRED, Mrs Catherine," said he, "and for my sake? By heavens! you
shan't walk a step farther. No, you shall ride back with a guard of
honour! Back to the village, gentlemen!--rightabout face! Show
those fellows, Corporal, how to rightabout face. Now, my dear,
mount behind me on Snowball; he's easy as a sedan. Put your dear
little foot on the toe of my boot. There now,--up!--jump! hurrah!"
"THAT'S not the way, Captain," shouted out Thomas, still holding on
to the rein as the horse began to move. "Thee woan't goo with him,
will thee, Catty?"
But Mrs. Catherine, though she turned away her head, never let go
her hold round the Captain's waist; and he, swearing a dreadful oath
at Thomas, struck him across the face and hands with his riding
whip. The poor fellow, who at the first cut still held on to the
rein, dropped it at the second, and as the pair galloped off, sat
down on the roadside and fairly began to weep.
"MARCH, you dog!" shouted out the Corporal a minute after. And so
he did: and when next he saw Mrs. Catherine she WAS the Captain's
lady sure enough, and wore a grey hat, with a blue feather, and red
riding-coat trimmed with silverlace. But Thomas was then on a
bare-backed horse, which Corporal Brock was flanking round a ring,
and he was so occupied looking between his horse's ears that he had
no time to cry then, and at length got the better of his attachment.
* * *
This being a good opportunity for closing Chapter I, we ought,
perhaps, to make some apologies to the public for introducing them
to characters that are so utterly worthless; as we confess all our
heroes, with the exception of Mr. Bullock, to be. In this we have
consulted nature and history, rather than the prevailing taste and
the general manner of authors. The amusing novel of "Ernest
Maltravers," for instance, opens with a seduction; but then it is
performed by people of the strictest virtue on both sides: and
there is so much religion and philosophy in the heart of the
seducer, so much tender innocence in the soul of the seduced, that--
bless the little dears!--their very peccadilloes make one interested
in them; and their naughtiness becomes quite sacred, so deliciously
is it described. Now, if we ARE to be interested by rascally
actions, let us have them with plain faces, and let them be
performed, not by virtuous philosophers, but by rascals. Another
clever class of novelists adopt the contrary system, and create
interest by making their rascals perform virtuous actions. Against
these popular plans we here solemnly appeal. We say, let your
rogues in novels act like rogues, and your honest men like honest
men; don't let us have any juggling and thimble-rigging with virtue
and vice, so that, at the end of three volumes, the bewildered
reader shall not know which is which; don't let us find ourselves
kindling at the generous qualities of thieves, and sympathising with
the rascalities of noble hearts. For our own part, we know what the
public likes, and have chosen rogues for our characters, and have
taken a story from the "Newgate Calendar," which we hope to follow
out to edification. Among the rogues, at least, we will have
nothing that shall be mistaken for virtues. And if the British
public (after calling for three or four editions) shall give up, not
only our rascals, but the rascals of all other authors, we shall be
content:--we shall apply to Government for a pension, and think that
our duty is done.
CHAPTER II. IN WHICH ARE DEPICTED THE PLEASURES OF A SENTIMENTAL
It will not be necessary, for the purpose of this history, to follow
out very closely all the adventures which occurred to Mrs. Catherine
from the period when she quitted the "Bugle" and became the
Captain's lady; for although it would be just as easy to show as
not, that the young woman, by following the man of her heart, had
only yielded to an innocent impulse, and by remaining with him for a
certain period, had proved the depth and strength of her affection
for him,--although we might make very tender and eloquent apologies
for the error of both parties, the reader might possibly be
disgusted at such descriptions and such arguments: which, besides,
are already done to his hand in the novel of "Ernest Maltravers"
From the gentleman's manner towards Mrs. Catherine, and from his
brilliant and immediate success, the reader will doubtless have
concluded, in the first place, that Gustavus Adolphus had not a very
violent affection for Mrs. Cat; in the second place, that he was a
professional lady-killer, and therefore likely at some period to
resume his profession; thirdly, and to conclude, that a connection
so begun, must, in the nature of things, be likely to end speedily.
And so, to do the Count justice, it would, if he had been allowed to
follow his own inclination entirely; for (as many young gentlemen
will, and yet no praise to them) in about a week he began to be
indifferent, in a month to be weary, in two months to be angry, in
three to proceed to blows and curses; and, in short, to repent most
bitterly the hour when he had ever been induced to present Mrs.
Catherine the toe of his boot, for the purpose of lifting her on to
"Egad!" said he to the Corporal one day, when confiding his griefs
to Mr. Brock, "I wish my toe had been cut off before ever it served
as a ladder to this little vixen."
"Or perhaps your honour would wish to kick her downstairs with it?"
delicately suggested Mr. Brock.
"Kick her! why, the wench would hold so fast by the banisters that I
COULD not kick her down, Mr. Brock. To tell you a bit of a secret,
I HAVE tried as much--not to kick her--no, no, not kick her,
certainly: that's ungentlemanly--but to INDUCE her to go back to
that cursed pot-house where we fell in with her. I have given her
"Oh, yes, I saw your honour give her one yesterday--with a mug of
beer. By the laws, as the ale run all down her face, and she
clutched a knife to run at you, I don't think I ever saw such a
she-devil! That woman will do for your honour some day, if you
"Do for ME? No, hang it, Mr. Brock, never! She loves every hair of
my head, sir: she worships me, Corporal. Egad, yes! she worships
me; and would much sooner apply a knife to her own weasand than
scratch my little finger!"
"I think she does," said Mr. Brock.
"I'm sure of it," said the Captain. "Women, look you, are like
dogs, they like to be ill-treated: they like it, sir; I know they
do. I never had anything to do with a woman in my life but I
ill-treated her, and she liked me the better."
"Mrs. Hall ought to be VERY fond of you then, sure enough!" said Mr.
"Very fond;--ha, ha! Corporal, you wag you--and so she IS very fond.
Yesterday, after the knife-and-beer scene--no wonder I threw the
liquor in her face: it was so dev'lish flat that no gentleman could
drink it: and I told her never to draw it till dinner-time--"
"Oh, it was enough to put an angel in a fury!" said Brock.
"Well, yesterday, after the knife business, when you had got the
carver out of her hand, off she flings to her bedroom, will not eat
a bit of dinner forsooth, and remains locked up for a couple of
hours. At two o'clock afternoon (I was over a tankard), out comes
the little she-devil, her face pale, her eyes bleared, and the tip
of her nose as red as fire with sniffling and weeping. Making for
my hand, 'Max,' says she, 'will you forgive me?' 'What!' says I.
'Forgive a murderess?' says I. 'No, curse me, never!' 'Your
cruelty will kill me,' sobbed she. 'Cruelty be hanged!' says I;
'didn't you draw that beer an hour before dinner?' She could say
nothing to THIS, you know, and I swore that every time she did so, I
would fling it into her face again. Whereupon back she flounced to
her chamber, where she wept and stormed until night-time."
"When you forgave her?"
"I DID forgive her, that's positive. You see I had supped at the
'Rose' along with Tom Trippet and half-a-dozen pretty fellows; and I
had eased a great fat-headed Warwickshire landjunker--what d'ye call
him?--squire, of forty pieces; and I'm dev'lish good-humoured when
I've won, and so Cat and I made it up: but I've taught her never to
bring me stale beer again--ha, ha!"
This conversation will explain, a great deal better than any
description of ours, however eloquent, the state of things as
between Count Maximilian and Mrs. Catherine, and the feelings which
they entertained for each other. The woman loved him, that was the
fact. And, as we have shown in the previous chapter how John Hayes,
a mean-spirited fellow as ever breathed, in respect of all other
passions a pigmy, was in the passion of love a giant, and followed
Mrs. Catherine with a furious longing which might seem at the first
to be foreign to his nature; in the like manner, and playing at
cross-purposes, Mrs. Hall had become smitten of the Captain; and, as
he said truly, only liked him the better for the brutality which she
received at his hands. For it is my opinion, madam, that love is a
bodily infirmity, from which humankind can no more escape than from
small-pox; and which attacks every one of us, from the first duke in
the Peerage down to Jack Ketch inclusive: which has no respect for
rank, virtue, or roguery in man, but sets each in his turn in a
fever; which breaks out the deuce knows how or why, and, raging its
appointed time, fills each individual of the one sex with a blind
fury and longing for some one of the other (who may be pure, gentle,
blue-eyed, beautiful, and good; or vile, shrewish, squinting,
hunchbacked, and hideous, according to circumstances and luck);
which dies away, perhaps, in the natural course, if left to have its
way, but which contradiction causes to rage more furiously than
ever. Is not history, from the Trojan war upwards and downwards,
full of instances of such strange inexplicable passions? Was not
Helen, by the most moderate calculation, ninety years of age when
she went off with His Royal Highness Prince Paris of Troy? Was not
Madame La Valliere ill-made, blear-eyed, tallow-complexioned,
scraggy, and with hair like tow? Was not Wilkes the ugliest,
charmingest, most successful man in the world? Such instances might
be carried out so as to fill a volume; but cui bono? Love is fate,
and not will; its origin not to be explained, its progress
irresistible: and the best proof of this may be had at Bow Street
any day, where if you ask any officer of the establishment how they
take most thieves, he will tell you at the houses of the women.
They must see the dear creatures though they hang for it; they will
love, though they have their necks in the halter. And with regard
to the other position, that ill-usage on the part of the man does
not destroy the affection of the woman, have we not numberless
police-reports, showing how, when a bystander would beat a husband
for beating his wife, man and wife fall together on the interloper
and punish him for his meddling?
These points, then, being settled to the satisfaction of all
parties, the reader will not be disposed to question the assertion
that Mrs. Hall had a real affection for the gallant Count, and grew,
as Mr. Brock was pleased to say, like a beefsteak, more tender as
she was thumped. Poor thing, poor thing! his flashy airs and smart
looks had overcome her in a single hour; and no more is wanted to
plunge into love over head and ears; no more is wanted to make a
first love with--and a woman's first love lasts FOR EVER (a man's
twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth is perhaps the best): you can't kill
it, do what you will; it takes root, and lives and even grows, never
mind what the soil may be in which it is planted, or the bitter
weather it must bear--often as one has seen a wallflower grow--out
of a stone.
In the first weeks of their union, the Count had at least been
liberal to her: she had a horse and fine clothes, and received
abroad some of those flattering attentions which she held at such
high price. He had, however, some ill-luck at play, or had been
forced to pay some bills, or had some other satisfactory reason for
being poor, and his establishment was very speedily diminished. He
argued that, as Mrs. Catherine had been accustomed to wait on others
all her life, she might now wait upon herself and him; and when the
incident of the beer arose, she had been for some time employed as
the Count's housekeeper, with unlimited superintendence over his
comfort, his cellar, his linen, and such matters as bachelors are
delighted to make over to active female hands. To do the poor
wretch justice, she actually kept the man's menage in the best
order; nor was there any point of extravagance with which she could
be charged, except a little extravagance of dress displayed on the
very few occasions when he condescended to walk abroad with her, and
extravagance of language and passion in the frequent quarrels they
had together. Perhaps in such a connection as subsisted between
this precious couple, these faults are inevitable on the part of the
woman. She must be silly and vain, and will pretty surely therefore
be fond of dress; and she must, disguise it as she will, be
perpetually miserable and brooding over her fall, which will cause
her to be violent and quarrelsome.
Such, at least, was Mrs. Hall; and very early did the poor vain
misguided wretch begin to reap what she had sown.
For a man, remorse under these circumstances is perhaps uncommon.
No stigma affixes on HIM for betraying a woman; no bitter pangs of
mortified vanity; no insulting looks of superiority from his
neighbour, and no sentence of contemptuous banishment is read
against him; these all fall on the tempted, and not on the tempter,
who is permitted to go free. The chief thing that a man learns
after having successfully practised on a woman is to despise the
poor wretch whom he has won. The game, in fact, and the glory, such
as it is, is all his, and the punishment alone falls upon her.
Consider this, ladies, when charming young gentlemen come to woo you
with soft speeches. You have nothing to win, except wretchedness,
and scorn, and desertion. Consider this, and be thankful to your
Solomons for telling it.
It came to pass, then, that the Count had come to have a perfect
contempt and indifference for Mrs. Hall;--how should he not for a
young person who had given herself up to him so easily?--and would
have been quite glad of any opportunity of parting with her. But
there was a certain lingering shame about the man, which prevented
him from saying at once and abruptly, "Go!" and the poor thing did
not choose to take such hints as fell out in the course of their
conversation and quarrels. And so they kept on together, he
treating her with simple insult, and she hanging on desperately, by
whatever feeble twig she could find, to the rock beyond which all
was naught, or death, to her.
Well, after the night with Tom Trippet and the pretty fellows at the
"Rose," to which we have heard the Count allude in the conversation
just recorded, Fortune smiled on him a good deal; for the
Warwickshire squire, who had lost forty pieces on that occasion,
insisted on having his revenge the night after; when, strange to
say, a hundred and fifty more found their way into the pouch of his
Excellency the Count. Such a sum as this quite set the young
nobleman afloat again, and brought back a pleasing equanimity to his
mind, which had been a good deal disturbed in the former difficult
circumstances; and in this, for a little and to a certain extent,
poor Cat had the happiness to share. He did not alter the style of
his establishment, which consisted, as before, of herself and a
small person who acted as scourer, kitchen-wench, and scullion; Mrs.
Catherine always putting her hand to the principal pieces of the
dinner; but he treated his mistress with tolerable good-humour; or,
to speak more correctly, with such bearable brutality as might be
expected from a man like him to a woman in her condition. Besides,
a certain event was about to take place, which not unusually occurs
in circumstances of this nature, and Mrs. Catherine was expecting
soon to lie in.
The Captain, distrusting naturally the strength of his own paternal
feelings, had kindly endeavoured to provide a parent for the coming
infant; and to this end had opened a negotiation with our friend Mr.
Thomas Bullock, declaring that Mrs. Cat should have a fortune of
twenty guineas, and reminding Tummas of his ancient flame for her:
but Mr. Tummas, when this proposition was made to him, declined it,
with many oaths, and vowed that he was perfectly satisfied with his
present bachelor condition. In this dilemma, Mr. Brock stepped
forward, who declared himself very ready to accept Mrs. Catherine
and her fortune: and might possibly have become the possessor of
both, had not Mrs. Cat, the moment she heard of the proposed
arrangement, with fire in her eyes, and rage--oh, how bitter!--in
her heart, prevented the success of the measure by proceeding
incontinently to the first justice of the peace, and there swearing
before his worship who was the father of the coming child.
This proceeding, which she had expected would cause not a little
indignation on the part of her lord and master, was received by him,
strangely enough, with considerable good-humour: he swore that the
wench had served him a good trick, and was rather amused at the
anger, the outbreak of fierce rage and contumely, and the wretched
wretched tears of heartsick desperation, which followed her
announcement of this step to him. For Mr. Brock, she repelled his
offer with scorn and loathing, and treated the notion of a union
with Mr. Bullock with yet fiercer contempt. Marry him indeed! a
workhouse pauper carrying a brown-bess! She would have died sooner,
she said, or robbed on the highway. And so, to do her justice, she
would: for the little minx was one of the vainest creatures in
existence, and vanity (as I presume everybody knows) becomes THE
principle in certain women's hearts--their moral spectacles, their
conscience, their meat and drink, their only rule of right and
As for Mr. Tummas, he, as we have seen, was quite unfriendly to the
proposition as she could be; and the Corporal, with a good deal of
comical gravity, vowed that, as he could not be satisfied in his
dearest wishes, he would take to drinking for a consolation: which
he straightway did.
"Come, Tummas," said he to Mr. Bullock "since we CAN'T have the girl
of our hearts, why, hang it, Tummas, let's drink her health!" To
which Bullock had no objection. And so strongly did the
disappointment weigh upon honest Corporal Brock, that even when,
after unheard-of quantities of beer, he could scarcely utter a word,
he was seen absolutely to weep, and, in accents almost
unintelligible, to curse his confounded ill-luck at being deprived,
not of a wife, but of a child: he wanted one so, he said, to
comfort him in his old age.
The time of Mrs. Catherine's couche drew near, arrived, and was gone
through safely. She presented to the world a chopping boy, who
might use, if he liked, the Galgenstein arms with a bar-sinister;
and in her new cares and duties had not so many opportunities as
usual of quarrelling with the Count: who, perhaps, respected her
situation, or, at least, was so properly aware of the necessity of
quiet to her, that he absented himself from home morning, noon, and
The Captain had, it must be confessed, turned these continued
absences to a considerable worldly profit, for he played
incessantly; and, since his first victory over the Warwickshire
Squire, Fortune had been so favourable to him, that he had at
various intervals amassed a sum of nearly a thousand pounds, which
he used to bring home as he won; and which he deposited in a strong
iron chest, cunningly screwed down by himself under his own bed.
This Mrs. Catherine regularly made, and the treasure underneath it
could be no secret to her. However, the noble Count kept the key,
and bound her by many solemn oaths (that he discharged at her
himself) not to reveal to any other person the existence of the
chest and its contents.
But it is not in a woman's nature to keep such secrets; and the
Captain, who left her for days and days, did not reflect that she
would seek for confidants elsewhere. For want of a female
companion, she was compelled to bestow her sympathies upon Mr.
Brock; who, as the Count's corporal, was much in his lodgings, and
who did manage to survive the disappointment which he had
experienced by Mrs. Catherine's refusal of him.
About two months after the infant's birth, the Captain, who was
annoyed by its squalling, put it abroad to nurse, and dismissed its
attendant. Mrs. Catherine now resumed her household duties, and
was, as before, at once mistress and servant of the establishment.
As such, she had the keys of the beer, and was pretty sure of the
attentions of the Corporal; who became, as we have said, in the
Count's absence, his lady's chief friend and companion. After the
manner of ladies, she very speedily confided to him all her domestic
secrets; the causes of her former discontent; the Count's ill-
treatment of her; the wicked names he called her; the prices that
all her gowns had cost her; how he beat her; how much money he won
and lost at play; how she had once pawned a coat for him; how he had
four new ones, laced, and paid for; what was the best way of
cleaning and keeping gold-lace, of making cherry-brandy, pickling
salmon, etc., etc. Her confidences upon all these subjects used to
follow each other in rapid succession; and Mr. Brock became, ere
long, quite as well acquainted with the Captain's history for the
last year as the Count himself:--for he was careless, and forgot
things; women never do. They chronicle all the lover's small
actions, his words, his headaches, the dresses he has worn, the
things he has liked for dinner on certain days;--all which
circumstances commonly are expunged from the male brain immediately
after they have occurred, but remain fixed with the female.
To Brock, then, and to Brock only (for she knew no other soul), Mrs.
Cat breathed, in strictest confidence, the history of the Count's
winnings, and his way of disposing of them; how he kept his money
screwed down in an iron chest in their room; and a very lucky fellow
did Brock consider his officer for having such a large sum. He and
Cat looked at the chest: it was small, but mighty strong, sure
enough, and would defy picklocks and thieves. Well, if any man
deserved money, the Captain did ("though he might buy me a few yards
of that lace I love so," interrupted Cat),--if any man deserved
money, he did, for he spent it like a prince, and his hand was
always in his pocket.
It must now be stated that Monsieur de Galgenstein had, during Cat's
seclusion, cast his eyes upon a young lady of good fortune, who
frequented the Assembly at Birmingham, and who was not a little
smitten by his title and person. The "four new coats, laced, and
paid for," as Cat said, had been purchased, most probably, by his
Excellency for the purpose of dazzling the heiress; and he and the
coats had succeeded so far as to win from the young woman an actual
profession of love, and a promise of marriage provided Pa would
consent. This was obtained,--for Pa was a tradesman; and I suppose
every one of my readers has remarked how great an effect a title has
on the lower classes. Yes, thank Heaven! there is about a freeborn
Briton a cringing baseness, and lickspittle awe of rank, which does
not exist under any tyranny in Europe, and is only to be found here
and in America.
All these negotiations had been going on quite unknown to Cat; and,
as the Captain had determined, before two months were out, to fling
that young woman on the pave, he was kind to her in the meanwhile:
people always are when they are swindling you, or meditating an
injury against you.
The poor girl had much too high an opinion of her own charms to
suspect that the Count could be unfaithful to them, and had no
notion of the plot that was formed against her. But Mr. Brock had:
for he had seen many times a gilt coach with a pair of fat white
horses ambling in the neighbourhood of the town, and the Captain on
his black steed caracolling majestically by its side; and he had
remarked a fat, pudgy, pale-haired woman treading heavily down the
stairs of the Assembly, leaning on the Captain's arm: all these Mr.
Brock had seen, not without reflection. Indeed, the Count one day,
in great good-humour, had slapped him on the shoulder and told him
that he was about speedily to purchase a regiment; when, by his
great gods, Mr. Brock should have a pair of colours. Perhaps this
promise occasioned his silence to Mrs. Catherine hitherto; perhaps
he never would have peached at all; and perhaps, therefore, this
history would never have been written, but for a small circumstance
which occurred at this period.
"What can you want with that drunken old Corporal always about your
quarters?" said Mr. Trippet to the Count one day, as they sat over
their wine, in the midst of a merry company, at the Captain's rooms.
"What!" said he. "Old Brock? The old thief has been more useful to
me than many a better man. He is as brave in a row as a lion, as
cunning in intrigue as a fox; he can nose a dun at an inconceivable
distance, and scent out a pretty woman be she behind ever so many
stone walls. If a gentleman wants a good rascal now, I can
recommend him. I am going to reform, you know, and must turn him
out of my service."
"And pretty Mrs. Cat?"
"Oh, curse pretty Mrs. Cat! she may go too."
"And the brat?"
"Why, you have parishes, and what not, here in England. Egad! if a
gentleman were called upon to keep all his children, there would be
no living: no, stap my vitals! Croesus couldn't stand it."
"No, indeed," said Mr. Trippet: "you are right; and when a
gentleman marries, he is bound in honour to give up such low
connections as are useful when he is a bachelor."
"Of course; and give them up I will, when the sweet Mrs. Dripping is
mine. As for the girl, you can have her, Tom Trippet, if you take a
fancy to her; and as for the Corporal, he may be handed over to my
successor in Cutts's:--for I will have a regiment to myself, that's
poz; and to take with me such a swindling, pimping, thieving,
brandy-faced rascal as this Brock will never do. Egad! he's a
disgrace to the service. As it is, I've often a mind to have the
superannuated vagabond drummed out of the corps."
Although this resume of Mr. Brock's character and accomplishments
was very just, it came perhaps with an ill grace from Count Gustavus
Adolphus Maximilian, who had profited by all his qualities, and who
certainly would never have given this opinion of them had he known
that the door of his dining-parlour was open, and that the gallant
Corporal, who was in the passage, could hear every syllable that
fell from the lips of his commanding officer. We shall not say,
after the fashion of the story-books, that Mr. Brock listened with a
flashing eye and a distended nostril; that his chest heaved
tumultuously, and that his hand fell down mechanically to his side,
where it played with the brass handle of his sword. Mr. Kean would
have gone through most of these bodily exercises had he been acting
the part of a villain enraged and disappointed like Corporal Brock;
but that gentleman walked away without any gestures of any kind, and
as gently as possible. "He'll turn me out of the regiment, will
he?" says he, quite piano; and then added (con molta espressione),
"I'll do for him."
And it is to be remarked how generally, in cases of this nature,
gentlemen stick to their word.
CHAPTER III. IN WHICH A NARCOTIC IS ADMINISTERED, AND A GREAT DEAL
OF GENTEEL SOCIETY DEPICTED.
When the Corporal, who had retreated to the street-door immediately
on hearing the above conversation, returned to the Captain's
lodgings and paid his respects to Mrs. Catherine, he found that lady
in high good-humour. The Count had been with her, she said, along
with a friend of his, Mr. Trippet; had promised her twelve yards of
the lace she coveted so much; had vowed that the child should have
as much more for a cloak; and had not left her until he had sat with
her for an hour, or more, over a bowl of punch, which he made on
purpose for her. Mr. Trippet stayed too. "A mighty pleasant man,"
said she; "only not very wise, and seemingly a good deal in liquor."
"A good deal indeed!" said the Corporal. "He was so tipsy just now
that he could hardly stand. He and his honour were talking to Nan
Fantail in the market-place; and she pulled Trippet's wig off, for
wanting to kiss her."
"The nasty fellow!" said Mrs. Cat, "to demean himself with such low
people as Nan Fantail, indeed! Why, upon my conscience now,
Corporal, it was but an hour ago that Mr. Trippet swore he never saw
such a pair of eyes as mine, and would like to cut the Captain's
throat for the love of me. Nan Fantail, indeed!"
"Nan's an honest girl, Madam Catherine, and was a great favourite of
the Captain's before someone else came in his way. No one can say a
word against her--not a word."
"And pray, Corporal, who ever did?" said Mrs. Cat, rather offended.
"A nasty, ugly slut! I wonder what the men can see in her?"
"She has got a smart way with her, sure enough; it's what amuses the
"And what? You don't mean to say that my Max is fond of her NOW?"
said Mrs. Catherine, looking very fierce.
"Oh, no; not at all: not of HER;--that is--"
"Not of HER!" screamed she. "Of whom, then?"
"Oh, psha! nonsense! Of you, my dear, to be sure; who else should
he care for? And, besides, what business is it of mine?" And
herewith the Corporal began whistling, as if he would have no more
of the conversation. But Mrs. Cat was not to be satisfied,--not
she,--and carried on her cross-questions.
"Why, look you," said the Corporal, after parrying many of
these,--"Why, look you, I'm an old fool, Catherine, and I must blab.
That man has been the best friend I ever had, and so I was quiet;
but I can't keep it in any longer,--no, hang me if I can! It's my
belief he's acting like a rascal by you: he deceives you,
Catherine; he's a scoundrel, Mrs. Hall, that's the truth on't."
Catherine prayed him to tell all he knew; and he resumed.
"He wants you off his hands; he's sick of you, and so brought here
that fool Tom Trippet, who has taken a fancy to you. He has not the
courage to turn you out of doors like a man; though indoors he can
treat you like a beast. But I'll tell you what he'll do. In a
month he will go to Coventry, or pretend to go there, on recruiting
business. No such thing, Mrs. Hall; he's going on MARRIAGE
business; and he'll leave you without a farthing, to starve or to
rot, for him. It's all arranged, I tell you: in a month, you are
to be starved into becoming Tom Trippet's mistress; and his honour
is to marry rich Miss Dripping, the twenty-thousand-pounder from
London; and to purchase a regiment;--and to get old Brock drummed
out of Cutts's too," said the Corporal, under his breath. But he
might have spoken out, if he chose; for the poor young woman had
sunk on the ground in a real honest fit.
"I thought I should give it her," said Mr. Brock as he procured a
glass of water; and, lifting her on to a sofa, sprinkled the same
over her. "Hang it! how pretty she is."
* * *
When Mrs. Catherine came to herself again, Brock's tone with her was
kind, and almost feeling. Nor did the poor wench herself indulge in
any subsequent shiverings and hysterics, such as usually follow the
fainting-fits of persons of higher degree. She pressed him for
further explanations, which he gave, and to which she listened with
a great deal of calmness; nor did many tears, sobs, sighs, or
exclamations of sorrow or anger escape from her: only when the
Corporal was taking his leave, and said to her point-blank,--" Well,
Mrs. Catherine, and what do you intend to do?" she did not reply a
word; but gave a look which made him exclaim, on leaving the room,--
"By heavens! the woman means murder! I would not be the Holofernes
to lie by the side of such a Judith as that--not I!" And he went
his way, immersed in deep thought. When the Captain returned at
night, she did not speak to him; and when he swore at her for being
sulky, she only said she had a headache, and was dreadfully ill;
with which excuse Gustavus Adolphus seemed satisfied, and left her
He saw her the next morning for a moment: he was going a-shooting.
Catherine had no friend, as is usual in tragedies and romances,--no
mysterious sorceress of her acquaintance to whom she could apply for
poison,--so she went simply to the apothecaries, pretending at each
that she had a dreadful toothache, and procuring from them as much
laudanum as she thought would suit her purpose.
When she went home again she seemed almost gay. Mr. Brock
complimented her upon the alteration in her appearance; and she was
enabled to receive the Captain at his return from shooting in such a
manner as made him remark that she had got rid of her sulks of the
morning, and might sup with them, if she chose to keep her good-
humour. The supper was got ready, and the gentlemen had the
punch-bowl when the cloth was cleared,--Mrs. Catherine, with her
delicate hands, preparing the liquor.
It is useless to describe the conversation that took place, or to
reckon the number of bowls that were emptied; or to tell how Mr.
Trippet, who was one of the guests, and declined to play at cards
when some of the others began, chose to remain by Mrs. Catherine's
side, and make violent love to her. All this might be told, and the
account, however faithful, would not be very pleasing. No, indeed!
And here, though we are only in the third chapter of this history,
we feel almost sick of the characters that appear in it, and the
adventures which they are called upon to go through. But how can we
help ourselves? The public will hear of nothing but rogues; and the
only way in which poor authors, who must live, can act honestly by
the public and themselves, is to paint such thieves as they are:
not, dandy, poetical, rose-water thieves; but real downright
scoundrels, leading scoundrelly lives, drunken, profligate,
dissolute, low; as scoundrels will be. They don't quote Plato, like
Eugene Aram; or live like gentlemen, and sing the pleasantest
ballads in the world, like jolly Dick Turpin; or prate eternally
about "to kalon,"* like that precious canting Maltravers, whom we
all of us have read about and pitied; or die whitewashed saints,
like poor "Biss Dadsy" in "Oliver Twist." No, my dear madam, you
and your daughters have no right to admire and sympathise with any
such persons, fictitious or real: you ought to be made cordially to
detest, scorn, loathe, abhor, and abominate all people of this
kidney. Men of genius like those whose works we have above alluded
to, have no business to make these characters interesting or
agreeable; to be feeding your morbid fancies, or indulging their
own, with such monstrous food. For our parts, young ladies, we beg
you to bottle up your tears, and not waste a single drop of them on
any one of the heroes or heroines in this history: they are all
rascals, every soul of them, and behave "as sich." Keep your
sympathy for those who deserve it: don't carry it, for preference,
to the Old Bailey, and grow maudlin over the company assembled
* Anglicised version of the author's original Greek text.
Just, then, have the kindness to fancy that the conversation which
took place over the bowls of punch which Mrs. Catherine prepared,
was such as might be expected to take place where the host was a
dissolute, dare-devil, libertine captain of dragoons, the guests for
the most part of the same class, and the hostess a young woman
originally from a country alehouse, and for the present mistress to
the entertainer of the society. They talked, and they drank, and
they grew tipsy; and very little worth hearing occurred during the
course of the whole evening. Mr. Brock officiated, half as the
servant, half as the companion of the society. Mr. Thomas Trippet
made violent love to Mrs. Catherine, while her lord and master was
playing at dice with the other gentlemen: and on this night,
strange to say, the Captain's fortune seemed to desert him. The
Warwickshire Squire, from whom he had won so much, had an amazing
run of good luck. The Captain called perpetually for more drink,
and higher stakes, and lost almost every throw. Three hundred, four
hundred, six hundred--all his winnings of the previous months were
swallowed up in the course of a few hours. The Corporal looked on;
and, to do him justice, seemed very grave as, sum by sum, the Squire
scored down the Count's losses on the paper before him.
Most of the company had taken their hats and staggered off. The
Squire and Mr. Trippet were the only two that remained, the latter
still lingering by Mrs. Catherine's sofa and table; and as she, as
we have stated, had been employed all the evening in mixing the
liquor for the gamesters, he was at the headquarters of love and
drink, and had swallowed so much of each as hardly to be able to
The dice went rattling on; the candles were burning dim, with great
long wicks. Mr. Trippet could hardly see the Captain, and thought,
as far as his muzzy reason would let him, that the Captain could not
see him: so he rose from his chair as well as he could, and fell
down on Mrs. Catherine's sofa. His eyes were fixed, his face was
pale, his jaw hung down; and he flung out his arms and said, in a
maudlin voice, "Oh, you byoo-oo-oo-tifile Cathrine, I must have a
"Beast!" said Mrs. Catherine, and pushed him away. The drunken
wretch fell off the sofa, and on to the floor, where he stayed; and,
after snorting out some unintelligible sounds, went to sleep.
The dice went rattling on; the candles were burning dim, with great
"Seven's the main," cried the Count. "Four. Three to two against
"Ponies," said the Warwickshire Squire.
Rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, clatter, NINE. Clap, clap, clap,
clap, ELEVEN. Clutter, clutter, clutter, clutter: "Seven it is,"
says the Warwickshire Squire. "That makes eight hundred, Count."
"One throw for two hundred," said the Count. "But stop! Cat, give
us some more punch."
Mrs. Cat came forward; she looked a little pale, and her hand
trembled somewhat. "Here is the punch, Max," said she. It was
steaming hot, in a large glass. "Don't drink it all," said she;
"leave me some."
"How dark it is!" said the Count, eyeing it.
"It's the brandy," said Cat.
"Well, here goes! Squire, curse you! here's your health, and bad
luck to you!" and he gulped off more than half the liquor at a
draught. But presently he put down the glass and cried, "What
infernal poison is this, Cat?"
"Poison!" said she. "It's no poison. Give me the glass." And she
pledged Max, and drank a little of it. "'Tis good punch, Max, and
of my brewing; I don't think you will ever get any better." And she
went back to the sofa again, and sat down, and looked at the
Mr. Brock looked at her white face and fixed eyes with a grim kind
of curiosity. The Count sputtered, and cursed the horrid taste of
the punch still; but he presently took the box, and made his
As before, the Squire beat him; and having booked his winnings, rose
from table as well as he might and besought to lead him downstairs;
which Mr. Brock did.
Liquor had evidently stupefied the Count: he sat with his head
between his hands, muttering wildly about ill-luck, seven's the
main, bad punch, and so on. The street-door banged to; and the
steps of Brock and the Squire were heard, until they could be heard
"Max," said she; but he did not answer. "Max," said she again,
laying her hand on his shoulder.
"Curse you," said that gentleman, "keep off, and don't be laying
your paws upon me. Go to bed, you jade, or to--,for what I care;
and give me first some more punch--a gallon more punch, do you
The gentleman, by the curses at the commencement of this little
speech, and the request contained at the end of it, showed that his
losses vexed him, and that he was anxious to forget them
"Oh, Max!" whimpered Mrs. Cat, "you--don't--want any more punch?"
"Don't! Shan't I be drunk in my own house, you cursed whimpering
jade, you? Get out!" and with this the Captain proceeded to
administer a blow upon Mrs. Catherine's cheek.
Contrary to her custom, she did not avenge it, or seek to do so, as
on the many former occasions when disputes of this nature had arisen
between the Count and her; but now Mrs. Catherine fell on her knees
and, clasping her hands and looking pitifully in the Count's face,
cried, "Oh, Count, forgive me, forgive me!"
"Forgive you! What for? Because I slapped your face? Ha, ha!
I'll forgive you again, if you don't mind."
"Oh, no, no, no!" said she, wringing her hands. "It isn't that.
Max, dear Max, will you forgive me? It isn't the blow--I don't mind
"It's what, you--maudlin fool?"
"IT'S THE PUNCH!"
The Count, who was more than half seas over, here assumed an air of
much tipsy gravity. "The punch! No, I never will forgive you that
last glass of punch. Of all the foul, beastly drinks I ever tasted,
that was the worst. No, I never will forgive you that punch."
"Oh, it isn't that, it isn't that!" said she.
"I tell you it is that,--you! That punch, I say that punch was no
better than paw--aw-oison." And here the Count's head sank back,
and he fell to snore.
"IT WAS POISON!" said she.
"WHAT!" screamed he, waking up at once, and spurning her away from
him. "What, you infernal murderess, have you killed me?"
"Oh, Max!--don't kill me, Max! It was laudanum--indeed it was. You
were going to be married, and I was furious, and I went and got--"
"Hold your tongue, you fiend," roared out the Count; and with more
presence of mind than politeness, he flung the remainder of the
liquor (and, indeed, the glass with it) at the head of Mrs.
Catherine. But the poisoned chalice missed its mark, and fell right
on the nose of Mr. Tom Trippet, who was left asleep and unobserved
under the table.
Bleeding, staggering, swearing, indeed a ghastly sight, up sprang
Mr. Trippet, and drew his rapier. "Come on," says he; "never say
die! What's the row? I'm ready for a dozen of you." And he made
many blind and furious passes about the room.
"Curse you, we'll die together!" shouted the Count, as he too pulled
out his toledo, and sprang at Mrs. Catherine.
"Help! murder! thieves!" shrieked she. "Save me, Mr. Trippet, save
me!" and she placed that gentleman between herself and the Count,
and then made for the door of the bedroom, and gained it, and bolted
"Out of the way, Trippet," roared the Count--"out of the way, you
drunken beast! I'll murder her, I will--I'll have the devil's
life." And here he gave a swinging cut at Mr. Trippet's sword: it
sent the weapon whirling clean out of his hand, and through a window
into the street.
"Take my life, then," said Mr. Trippet: "I'm drunk, but I'm a man,
and, damme! will never say die."
"I don't want your life, you stupid fool. Hark you, Trippet, wake
and be sober, if you can. That woman has heard of my marriage with
"Twenty thousand pound," ejaculated Trippet.
"She has been jealous, I tell you, and POISONED us. She has put
laudanum into the punch."
"What, in MY punch?" said Trippet, growing quite sober and losing
his courage. "O Lord! O Lord!"
"Don't stand howling there, but run for a doctor; 'tis our only
chance." And away ran Mr. Trippet, as if the deuce were at his
The Count had forgotten his murderous intentions regarding his
mistress, or had deferred them at least, under the consciousness of
his own pressing danger. And it must be said, in the praise of a
man who had fought for and against Marlborough and Tallard, that his
courage in this trying and novel predicament never for a moment
deserted him, but that he showed the greatest daring, as well as
ingenuity, in meeting and averting the danger. He flew to the