Part 2 out of 4
sideboard, where were the relics of a supper, and seizing the
mustard and salt pots, and a bottle of oil, he emptied them all into
a jug, into which he further poured a vast quantity of hot water.
This pleasing mixture he then, without a moment's hesitation, placed
to his lips, and swallowed as much of it as nature would allow him.
But when he had imbibed about a quart, the anticipated effect was
produced, and he was enabled, by the power of this ingenious
extemporaneous emetic, to get rid of much of the poison which Mrs.
Catherine had administered to him.
He was employed in these efforts when the doctor entered, along with
Mr. Brock and Mr. Trippet; who was not a little pleased to hear that
the poisoned punch had not in all probability been given to him. He
was recommended to take some of the Count's mixture, as a
precautionary measure; but this he refused, and retired home,
leaving the Count under charge of the physician and his faithful
It is not necessary to say what further remedies were employed by
them to restore the Captain to health; but after some time the
doctor, pronouncing that the danger was, he hoped, averted,
recommended that his patient should be put to bed, and that somebody
should sit by him; which Brock promised to do.
"That she-devil will murder me, if you don't," gasped the poor
Count. "You must turn her out of the bedroom; or break open the
door, if she refuses to let you in."
And this step was found to be necessary; for, after shouting many
times, and in vain, Mr. Brock found a small iron bar (indeed, he had
the instrument for many days in his pocket), and forced the lock.
The room was empty, the window was open: the pretty barmaid of the
"Bugle" had fled.
"The chest," said the Count--"is the chest safe?"
The Corporal flew to the bed, under which it was screwed, and
looked, and said, "It IS safe, thank Heaven!" The window was
closed. The Captain, who was too weak to stand without help, was
undressed and put to bed. The Corporal sat down by his side;
slumber stole over the eyes of the patient; and his wakeful nurse
marked with satisfaction the progress of the beneficent restorer of
When the Captain awoke, as he did some time afterwards, he found,
very much to his surprise, that a gag had been placed in his mouth,
and that the Corporal was in the act of wheeling his bed to another
part of the room. He attempted to move, and gave utterance to such
unintelligible sounds as could issue through a silk handkerchief.
"If your honour stirs or cries out in the least, I will cut your
honour's throat," said the Corporal.
And then, having recourse to his iron bar (the reader will now see
why he was provided with such an implement, for he had been
meditating this coup for some days), he proceeded first to attempt
to burst the lock of the little iron chest in which the Count kept
his treasure, and, failing in this, to unscrew it from the ground;
which operation he performed satisfactorily.
"You see, Count," said he, calmly, "when rogues fall out there's the
deuce to pay. You'll have me drummed out of the regiment, will you?
I'm going to leave it of my own accord, look you, and to live like a
gentleman for the rest of my days. Schlafen Sie wohl, noble
Captain: bon repos. The Squire will be with you pretty early in
the morning, to ask for the money you owe him."
With these sarcastic observations Mr. Brock departed; not by the
window, as Mrs. Catherine had done, but by the door, quietly, and so
into the street. And when, the next morning, the doctor came to
visit his patient, he brought with him a story how, at the dead of
night, Mr. Brock had roused the ostler at the stables where the
Captain's horses were kept--had told him that Mrs. Catherine had
poisoned the Count, and had run off with a thousand pounds; and how
he and all lovers of justice ought to scour the country in pursuit
of the criminal. For this end Mr. Brock mounted the Count's best
horse--that very animal on which he had carried away Mrs. Catherine:
and thus, on a single night, Count Maximilian had lost his mistress,
his money, his horse, his corporal, and was very near losing his
CHAPTER IV. IN WHICH MRS. CATHERINE BECOMES AN HONEST WOMAN AGAIN.
In this woeful plight, moneyless, wifeless, horseless, corporalless,
with a gag in his mouth and a rope round his body, are we compelled
to leave the gallant Galgenstein, until his friends and the progress
of this history shall deliver him from his durance. Mr. Brock's
adventures on the Captain's horse must likewise be pretermitted; for
it is our business to follow Mrs. Catherine through the window by
which she made her escape, and among the various chances that befell
She had one cause to congratulate herself,--that she had not her
baby at her back; for the infant was safely housed under the care of
a nurse, to whom the Captain was answerable. Beyond this her
prospects were but dismal: no home to fly to, but a few shillings
in her pocket, and a whole heap of injuries and dark revengeful
thoughts in her bosom: it was a sad task to her to look either
backwards or forwards. Whither was she to fly? How to live? What
good chance was to befriend her? There was an angel watching over
the steps of Mrs. Cat--not a good one, I think, but one of those
from that unnameable place, who have their many subjects here on
earth, and often are pleased to extricate them from worse
Mrs. Cat, now, had not committed murder, but as bad as murder; and
as she felt not the smallest repentance in her heart--as she had, in
the course of her life and connection with the Captain, performed
and gloried in a number of wicked coquetries, idlenesses, vanities,
lies, fits of anger, slanders, foul abuses, and what not--she was
fairly bound over to this dark angel whom we have alluded to; and he
dealt with her, and aided her, as one of his own children.
I do not mean to say that, in this strait, he appeared to her in the
likeness of a gentleman in black, and made her sign her name in
blood to a document conveying over to him her soul, in exchange for
certain conditions to be performed by him. Such diabolical bargains
have always appeared to me unworthy of the astute personage who is
supposed to be one of the parties to them; and who would scarcely be
fool enough to pay dearly for that which he can have in a few years
for nothing. It is not, then, to be supposed that a demon of
darkness appeared to Mrs. Cat, and led her into a flaming chariot
harnessed by dragons, and careering through air at the rate of a
thousand leagues a minute. No such thing; the vehicle that was sent
to aid her was one of a much more vulgar description.
The "Liverpool carryvan," then, which in the year 1706 used to
perform the journey between London and that place in ten days, left
Birmingham about an hour after Mrs. Catherine had quitted that town;
and as she sat weeping on a hillside, and plunged in bitter
meditation, the lumbering, jingling vehicle overtook her. The
coachman was marching by the side of his horses, and encouraging
them to maintain their pace of two miles an hour; the passengers had
some of them left the vehicle, in order to walk up the hill; and the
carriage had arrived at the top of it, and, meditating a brisk trot
down the declivity, waited there until the lagging passengers should
arrive: when Jehu, casting a good-natured glance upon Mrs.
Catherine, asked the pretty maid whence she was come, and whether
she would like a ride in his carriage. To the latter of which
questions Mrs. Catherine replied truly yes; to the former, her
answer was that she had come from Stratford; whereas, as we very
well know, she had lately quitted Birmingham.
"Hast thee seen a woman pass this way, on a black horse, with a
large bag of goold over the saddle?" said Jehu, preparing to mount
upon the roof of his coach.
"No, indeed," said Mrs. Cat.
"Nor a trooper on another horse after her--no? Well, there be a
mortal row down Birmingham way about sich a one. She have killed,
they say, nine gentlemen at supper, and have strangled a German
prince in bed. She have robbed him of twenty thousand guineas, and
have rode away on a black horse."
"That can't be I," said Mrs. Cat, naively, "for I have but three
shillings and a groat."
"No, it can't be thee, truly, for where's your bag of goold? and,
besides, thee hast got too pretty a face to do such wicked things as
to kill nine gentlemen and strangle a German prince."
"Law, coachman," said Mrs. Cat, blushing archly--",Law, coachman, DO
you think so?" The girl would have been pleased with a compliment
even on her way to be hanged; and the parley ended by Mrs. Catherine
stepping into the carriage, where there was room for eight people at
least, and where two or three individuals had already taken their
places. For these Mrs. Catherine had in the first place to make a
story, which she did; and a very glib one for a person of her years
and education. Being asked whither she was bound, and how she came
to be alone of a morning sitting by a road-side, she invented a neat
history suitable to the occasion, which elicited much interest from
her fellow-passengers: one in particular, a young man, who had
caught a glimpse of her face under her hood, was very tender in his
attentions to her.
But whether it was that she had been too much fatigued by the
occurrences of the past day and sleepless night, or whether the
little laudanum which she had drunk a few hours previously now began
to act upon her, certain it is that Mrs. Cat now suddenly grew sick,
feverish, and extraordinarily sleepy; and in this state she
continued for many hours, to the pity of all her fellow-travellers.
At length the "carryvan" reached the inn, where horses and
passengers were accustomed to rest for a few hours, and to dine; and
Mrs. Catherine was somewhat awakened by the stir of the passengers,
and the friendly voice of the inn-servant welcoming them to dinner.
The gentleman who had been smitten by her beauty now urged her very
politely to descend; which, taking the protection of his arm, she
He made some very gallant speeches to her as she stepped out; and
she must have been very much occupied by them, or wrapt up in her
own thoughts, or stupefied by sleep, fever, and opium, for she did
not take any heed of the place into which she was going: which, had
she done, she would probably have preferred remaining in the coach,
dinnerless and ill. Indeed, the inn into which she was about to
make her entrance was no other than the "Bugle," from which she set
forth at the commencement of this history; and which then, as now,
was kept by her relative, the thrifty Mrs. Score. That good
landlady, seeing a lady, in a smart hood and cloak, leaning, as if
faint, upon the arm of a gentleman of good appearance, concluded
them to be man and wife, and folks of quality too; and with much
discrimination, as well as sympathy, led them through the public
kitchen to her own private parlour, or bar, where she handed the
lady an armchair, and asked what she would like to drink. By this
time, and indeed at the very moment she heard her aunt's voice, Mrs.
Catherine was aware of her situation; and when her companion
retired, and the landlady, with much officiousness, insisted on
removing her hood, she was quite prepared for the screech of
surprise which Mrs. Score gave on dropping it, exclaiming, "Why, law
bless us, it's our Catherine!"
"I'm very ill, and tired, aunt," said Cat; "and would give the world
for a few hours' sleep."
"A few hours and welcome, my love, and a sack-posset too. You do
look sadly tired and poorly, sure enough. Ah, Cat, Cat! you great
ladies are sad rakes, I do believe. I wager now, that with all your
balls, and carriages, and fine clothes, you are neither so happy nor
so well as when you lived with your poor old aunt, who used to love
you so." And with these gentle words, and an embrace or two, which
Mrs. Catherine wondered at, and permitted, she was conducted to that
very bed which the Count had occupied a year previously, and
undressed, and laid in it, and affectionately tucked up by her aunt,
who marvelled at the fineness of her clothes, as she removed them
piece by piece; and when she saw that in Mrs. Catherine's pocket
there was only the sum of three and fourpence, said, archly, "There
was no need of money, for the Captain took care of that."
Mrs. Cat did not undeceive her; and deceived Mrs. Score certainly
was,--for she imagined the well-dressed gentleman who led Cat from
the carriage was no other than the Count; and, as she had heard,
from time to time, exaggerated reports of the splendour of the
establishment which he kept up, she was induced to look upon her
niece with the very highest respect, and to treat her as if she were
a fine lady. "And so she IS a fine lady," Mrs. Score had said
months ago, when some of these flattering stories reached her, and
she had overcome her first fury at Catherine's elopement. "The girl
was very cruel to leave me; but we must recollect that she is as
good as married to a nobleman, and must all forget and forgive, you
This speech had been made to Doctor Dobbs, who was in the habit of
taking a pipe and a tankard at the "Bugle," and it had been roundly
reprobated by the worthy divine; who told Mrs. Score, that the crime
of Catherine was only the more heinous, if it had been committed
from interested motives; and protested that, were she a princess, he
would never speak to her again. Mrs. Score thought and pronounced
the Doctor's opinion to be very bigoted; indeed, she was one of
those persons who have a marvellous respect for prosperity, and a
corresponding scorn for ill-fortune. When, therefore, she returned
to the public room, she went graciously to the gentleman who had led
Mrs. Catherine from the carriage, and with a knowing curtsey
welcomed him to the "Bugle;" told him that his lady would not come
to dinner, but bade her say, with her best love to his Lordship,
that the ride had fatigued her, and that she would lie in bed for an
hour or two.
This speech was received with much wonder by his Lordship; who was,
indeed, no other than a Liverpool tailor going to London to learn
fashions; but he only smiled, and did not undeceive the landlady,
who herself went off, smilingly, to bustle about dinner.
The two or three hours allotted to that meal by the liberal
coachmasters of those days passed away, and Mr. Coachman, declaring
that his horses were now rested enough, and that they had twelve
miles to ride, put the steeds to, and summoned the passengers. Mrs.
Score, who had seen with much satisfaction that her niece was really
ill, and her fever more violent, and hoped to have her for many days
an inmate in her house, now came forward, and casting upon the
Liverpool tailor a look of profound but respectful melancholy, said,
"My Lord (for I recollect your Lordship quite well), the lady
upstairs is so ill, that it would be a sin to move her: had I not
better tell coachman to take down your Lordship's trunks, and the
lady's, and make you a bed in the next room?"
Very much to her surprise, this proposition was received with a roar
of laughter. "Madam," said the person addressed, "I'm not a lord,
but a tailor and draper; and as for that young woman, before to-day
I never set eyes on her."
"WHAT!" screamed out Mrs. Score. "Are not you the Count? Do you
mean to say that you a'n't Cat's--? DO you mean to say that you
didn't order her bed, and that you won't pay this here little bill?"
And with this she produced a document, by which the Count's lady was
made her debtor in a sum of half-a-guinea.
These passionate words excited more and more laughter. "Pay it, my
Lord," said the coachman; "and then come along, for time presses."
"Our respects to her Ladyship," said one passenger. "Tell her my
Lord can't wait," said another; and with much merriment one and all
quitted the hotel, entered the coach, and rattled off.
Dumb--pale with terror and rage--bill in hand, Mrs. Score had
followed the company; but when the coach disappeared, her senses
returned. Back she flew into the inn, overturning the ostler, not
deigning to answer Doctor Dobbs (who, from behind soft
tobacco-fumes, mildly asked the reason of her disturbance), and,
bounding upstairs like a fury, she rushed into the room where
"Well, madam!" said she, in her highest key, "do you mean that you
have come into this here house to swindle me? Do you dare for to
come with your airs here, and call yourself a nobleman's lady, and
sleep in the best bed, when you're no better nor a common tramper?
I'll thank you, ma'am, to get out, ma'am. I'll have no sick paupers
in this house, ma'am. You know your way to the workhouse, ma'am,
and there I'll trouble you for to go." And here Mrs. Score
proceeded quickly to pull off the bedclothes; and poor Cat arose,
shivering with fright and fever.
She had no spirit to answer, as she would have done the day before,
when an oath from any human being would have brought half-a-dozen
from her in return; or a knife, or a plate, or a leg of mutton, if
such had been to her hand. She had no spirit left for such
repartees; but in reply to the above words of Mrs. Score, and a
great many more of the same kind--which are not necessary for our
history, but which that lady uttered with inconceivable shrillness
and volubility, the poor wench could say little,--only sob and
shiver, and gather up the clothes again, crying, "Oh, aunt, don't
speak unkind to me! I'm very unhappy, and very ill!"
"Ill, you strumpet! ill, be hanged! Ill is as ill does; and if you
are ill, it's only what you merit. Get out! dress yourself--tramp!
Get to the workhouse, and don't come to cheat me any more! Dress
yourself--do you hear? Satin petticoat forsooth, and lace to her
Poor, wretched, chattering, burning, shivering Catherine huddled on
her clothes as well she might: she seemed hardly to know or see
what she was doing, and did not reply a single word to the many that
the landlady let fall. Cat tottered down the narrow stairs, and
through the kitchen, and to the door; which she caught hold of, and
paused awhile, and looked into Mrs. Score's face, as for one more
chance. "Get out, you nasty trull!" said that lady, sternly, with
arms akimbo; and poor Catherine, with a most piteous scream and
outgush of tears, let go of the door-post and staggered away into
* * *
"Why, no--yes--no--it is poor Catherine Hall, as I live!" said
somebody, starting up, shoving aside Mrs. Score very rudely, and
running into the road, wig off and pipe in hand. It was honest
Doctor Dobbs; and the result of his interview with Mrs. Cat was,
that he gave up for ever smoking his pipe at the "Bugle;" and that
she lay sick of a fever for some weeks in his house.
* * *
Over this part of Mrs. Cat's history we shall be as brief as
possible; for, to tell the truth, nothing immoral occurred during
her whole stay at the good Doctor's house; and we are not going to
insult the reader by offering him silly pictures of piety,
cheerfulness, good sense, and simplicity; which are milk-and-water
virtues after all, and have no relish with them like a good strong
vice, highly peppered. Well, to be short: Doctor Dobbs, though a
profound theologian, was a very simple gentleman; and before Mrs.
Cat had been a month in the house, he had learned to look upon her
as one of the most injured and repentant characters in the world;
and had, with Mrs. Dobbs, resolved many plans for the future welfare
of the young Magdalen. "She was but sixteen, my love, recollect,"
said the Doctor; "she was carried off, not by her own wish either.
The Count swore he would marry her; and, though she did not leave
him until that monster tried to poison her, yet think what a fine
Christian spirit the poor girl has shown! she forgives him as
heartily--more heartily, I am sure, than I do Mrs. Score for turning
her adrift in that wicked way." The reader will perceive some
difference in the Doctor's statement and ours, which we assure him
is the true one; but the fact is, the honest rector had had his tale
from Mrs. Cat, and it was not in his nature to doubt, if she had
told him a history ten times more wonderful.
The reverend gentleman and his wife then laid their heads together;
and, recollecting something of John Hayes's former attachment to
Mrs. Cat, thought that it might be advantageously renewed, should
Hayes be still constant. Having very adroitly sounded Catherine (so
adroitly, indeed, as to ask her "whether she would like to marry
John Hayes?"), that young woman had replied, "No. She had loved
John Hayes--he had been her early, only love; but she was fallen
now, and not good enough for him." And this made the Dobbs family
admire her more and more, and cast about for means to bring the
marriage to pass.
Hayes was away from the village when Mrs. Cat had arrived there; but
he did not fail to hear of her illness, and how her aunt had
deserted her, and the good Doctor taken her in. The worthy Doctor
himself met Mr. Hayes on the green; and, telling him that some
repairs were wanting in his kitchen begged him to step in and
examine them. Hayes first said no, plump, and then no, gently; and
then pished, and then psha'd; and then, trembling very much, went
in: and there sat Mrs. Catherine, trembling very much too.
What passed between them? If your Ladyship is anxious to know,
think of that morning when Sir John himself popped the question.
Could there be anything more stupid than the conversation which took
place? Such stuff is not worth repeating: no, not when uttered by
people in the very genteelest of company; as for the amorous
dialogue of a carpenter and an ex-barmaid, it is worse still.
Suffice it to say, that Mr. Hayes, who had had a year to recover
from his passion, and had, to all appearances, quelled it, was over
head and ears again the very moment he saw Mrs. Cat, and had all his
work to do again.
Whether the Doctor knew what was going on, I can't say; but this
matter is certain, that every evening Hayes was now in the rectory
kitchen, or else walking abroad with Mrs. Catherine: and whether
she ran away with him, or he with her, I shall not make it my
business to inquire; but certainly at the end of three months (which
must be crowded up into this one little sentence), another elopement
took place in the village. "I should have prevented it, certainly,"
said Doctor Dobbs--whereat his wife smiled; "but the young people
kept the matter a secret from me." And so he would, had he known
it; but though Mrs. Dobbs had made several attempts to acquaint him
with the precise hour and method of the intended elopement, he
peremptorily ordered her to hold her tongue. The fact is, that the
matter had been discussed by the rector's lady many times. "Young
Hayes," would she say "has a pretty little fortune and trade of his
own; he is an only son, and may marry as he likes; and, though not
specially handsome, generous, or amiable, has an undeniable love for
Cat (who, you know, must not be particular), and the sooner she
marries him, I think, the better. They can't be married at our
church you know, and--" "Well," said the Doctor, "if they are
married elsewhere, I can't help it, and know nothing about it, look
you." And upon this hint the elopement took place: which, indeed,
was peaceably performed early one Sunday morning about a month
after; Mrs. Hall getting behind Mr. Hayes on a pillion, and all the
children of the parsonage giggling behind the window-blinds to see
the pair go off.
During this month Mr. Hayes had caused the banns to be published at
the town of Worcester; judging rightly that in a great town they
would cause no such remark as in a solitary village, and thither he
conducted his lady. O ill-starred John Hayes! whither do the dark
Fates lead you? O foolish Doctor Dobbs, to forget that young people
ought to honour their parents, and to yield to silly Mrs. Dobbs's
ardent propensity for making matches!
* * *
The London Gazette of the 1st April, 1706, contains a proclamation
by the Queen for putting into execution an Act of Parliament for the
encouragement and increase of seamen, and for the better and
speedier manning of Her Majesty's fleet, which authorises all
justices to issue warrants to constables, petty constables,
headboroughs, and tything-men, to enter and, if need be, to break
open the doors of any houses where they shall believe deserting
seamen to be; and for the further increase and encouragement of the
navy, to take able-bodied landsmen when seamen fail. This Act,
which occupies four columns of the Gazette, and another of similar
length and meaning for pressing men into the army, need not be
quoted at length here; but caused a mighty stir throughout the
kingdom at the time when it was in force.
As one has seen or heard, after the march of a great army, a number
of rogues and loose characters bring up the rear; in like manner, at
the tail of a great measure of State, follow many roguish personal
interests, which are protected by the main body. The great measure
of Reform, for instance, carried along with it much private jobbing
and swindling--as could be shown were we not inclined to deal mildly
with the Whigs; and this Enlistment Act, which, in order to maintain
the British glories in Flanders, dealt most cruelly with the British
people in England (it is not the first time that a man has been
pinched at home to make a fine appearance abroad), created a great
company of rascals and informers throughout the land, who lived upon
it; or upon extortion from those who were subject to it, or not
being subject to it were frightened into the belief that they were.
When Mr. Hayes and his lady had gone through the marriage ceremony
at Worcester, the former, concluding that at such a place lodging
and food might be procured at a cheaper rate, looked about carefully
for the meanest public-house in the town, where he might deposit his
In the kitchen of this inn, a party of men were drinking; and, as
Mrs. Hayes declined, with a proper sense of her superiority, to eat
in company with such low fellows, the landlady showed her and her
husband to an inner apartment, where they might be served in
The kitchen party seemed, indeed, not such as a lady would choose to
join. There was one huge lanky fellow, that looked like a soldier,
and had a halberd; another was habited in a sailor's costume, with a
fascinating patch over one eye; and a third, who seemed the leader
of the gang, was a stout man in a sailor's frock and a horseman's
jack-boots, whom one might fancy, if he were anything, to be a
Of one of these worthies, Mrs. Hayes thought she knew the figure and
voice; and she found her conjectures were true, when, all of sudden,
three people, without "With your leave," or "By your leave," burst
into the room, into which she and her spouse had retired. At their
head was no other than her old friend, Mr. Peter Brock; he had his
sword drawn, and his finger to his lips, enjoining silence, as it
were, to Mrs. Catherine. He with the patch on his eye seized
incontinently on Mr. Hayes; the tall man with the halberd kept the
door; two or three heroes supported the one-eyed man; who, with a
loud voice, exclaimed, "Down with your arms--no resistance! you are
my prisoner, in the Queen's name!"
And here, at this lock, we shall leave the whole company until the
next chapter; which may possibly explain what they were.
CHAPTER V. CONTAINS MR. BROCK'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, AND OTHER MATTERS.
"You don't sure believe these men?" said Mrs. Hayes, as soon as the
first alarm caused by the irruption of Mr. Brock and his companions
had subsided. "These are no magistrate's men: it is but a trick to
rob you of your money, John."
"I will never give up a farthing of it!" screamed Hayes.
"Yonder fellow," continued Mrs. Catherine, "I know, for all his
drawn sword and fierce looks; his name is---"
"Wood, madam, at your service!" said Mr. Brock. "I am follower to
Mr. Justice Gobble, of this town: a'n't I, Tim?" said Mr. Brock to
the tall halberdman who was keeping the door.
"Yes indeed," said Tim, archly; "we're all followers of his honour
"Certainly!" said the one-eyed man.
"Of course!" cried the man in the nightcap.
"I suppose, madam, you're satisfied NOW?" continued Mr. Brock, alias
Wood. "You can't deny the testimony of gentlemen like these; and
our commission is to apprehend all able-bodied male persons who can
give no good account of themselves, and enrol them in the service of
Her Majesty. Look at this Mr. Hayes" (who stood trembling in his
shoes). "Can there be a bolder, properer, straighter gentleman?
We'll have him for a grenadier before the day's over!"
"Take heart, John--don't be frightened. Psha! I tell you I know the
man" cried out Mrs. Hayes: "he is only here to extort money."
"Oh, for that matter, I DO think I recollect the lady. Let me see;
where was it? At Birmingham, I think,--ay, at Birmingham,--about
the time when they tried to murder Count Gal--"
"Oh, sir!" here cried Madam Hayes, dropping her voice at once from a
tone of scorn to one of gentlest entreaty, "what is it you want with
my husband? I know not, indeed, if ever I saw you before. For what
do you seize him? How much will you take to release him, and let us
go? Name the sum; he is rich, and--"
"RICH, Catherine!" cried Hayes. "Rich!--O heavens! Sir, I have
nothing but my hands to support me: I am a poor carpenter, sir,
working under my father!"
"He can give twenty guineas to be free; I know he can!" said Mrs.
"I have but a guinea to carry me home," sighed out Hayes.
"But you have twenty at home, John," said his wife. "Give these
brave gentlemen a writing to your mother, and she will pay; and you
will let us free then, gentlemen--won't you?"
"When the money's paid, yes," said the leader, Mr. Brock.
"Oh, in course," echoed the tall man with the halberd. "What's a
thrifling detintion, my dear?" continued he, addressing Hayes.
"We'll amuse you in your absence, and drink to the health of your
pretty wife here."
This promise, to do the halberdier justice, he fulfilled. He called
upon the landlady to produce the desired liquor; and when Mr. Hayes
flung himself at that lady's feet, demanding succour from her, and
asking whether there was no law in the land--
"There's no law at the 'Three Rooks' except THIS!" said Mr. Brock in
reply, holding up a horse-pistol. To which the hostess, grinning,
assented, and silently went her way.
After some further solicitations, John Hayes drew out the necessary
letter to his father, stating that he was pressed, and would not be
set free under a sum of twenty guineas; and that it would be of no
use to detain the bearer of the letter, inasmuch as the gentlemen
who had possession of him vowed that they would murder him should
any harm befall their comrade. As a further proof of the
authenticity of the letter, a token was added: a ring that Hayes
wore, and that his mother had given him.
The missives were, after some consultation, entrusted to the care of
the tall halberdier, who seemed to rank as second in command of the
forces that marched under Corporal Brock. This gentleman was called
indifferently Ensign, Mr., or even Captain Macshane; his intimates
occasionally in sport called him Nosey, from the prominence of that
feature in his countenance; or Spindleshins, for the very reason
which brought on the first Edward a similar nickname. Mr. Macshane
then quitted Worcester, mounted on Hayes's horse; leaving all
parties at the "Three Rooks" not a little anxious for his return.
This was not to be expected until the next morning; and a weary nuit
de noces did Mr. Hayes pass. Dinner was served, and, according to
promise, Mr. Brock and his two friends enjoyed the meal along with
the bride and bridegroom. Punch followed, and this was taken in
company; then came supper. Mr. Brock alone partook of this, the
other two gentlemen preferring the society of their pipes and the
landlady in the kitchen.
"It is a sorry entertainment, I confess," said the ex-corporal, "and
a dismal way for a gentleman to spend his bridal night; but somebody
must stay with you, my dears: for who knows but you might take a
fancy to scream out of window, and then there would be murder, and
the deuce and all to pay. One of us must stay, and my friends love
a pipe, so you must put up with my company until they can relieve
The reader will not, of course, expect that three people who were to
pass the night, however unwillingly, together in an inn-room, should
sit there dumb and moody, and without any personal communication; on
the contrary, Mr. Brock, as an old soldier, entertained his
prisoners with the utmost courtesy, and did all that lay in his
power, by the help of liquor and conversation, to render their
durance tolerable. On the bridegroom his attentions were a good
deal thrown away: Mr. Hayes consented to drink copiously, but could
not be made to talk much; and, in fact, the fright of the seizure,
the fate hanging over him should his parents refuse a ransom, and
the tremendous outlay of money which would take place should they
accede to it, weighed altogether on his mind so much as utterly to
As for Mrs. Cat, I don't think she was at all sorry in her heart to
see the old Corporal: for he had been a friend of old times--dear
times to her; she had had from him, too, and felt for him, not a
little kindness; and there was really a very tender, innocent
friendship subsisting between this pair of rascals, who relished
much a night's conversation together.
The Corporal, after treating his prisoners to punch in great
quantities, proposed the amusement of cards: over which Mr. Hayes
had not been occupied more than an hour, when he found himself so
excessively sleepy as to be persuaded to fling himself down on the
bed dressed as he was, and there to snore away until morning.
Mrs. Catherine had no inclination for sleep; and the Corporal,
equally wakeful, plied incessantly the bottle, and held with her a
great deal of conversation. The sleep, which was equivalent to the
absence, of John Hayes took all restraint from their talk. She
explained to Brock the circumstances of her marriage, which we have
already described; they wondered at the chance which had brought
them together at the "Three Rooks;" nor did Brock at all hesitate to
tell her at once that his calling was quite illegal, and that his
intention was simply to extort money. The worthy Corporal had not
the slightest shame regarding his own profession, and cut many jokes
with Mrs. Cat about her late one; her attempt to murder the Count,
and her future prospects as a wife.
And here, having brought him upon the scene again, we may as well
shortly narrate some of the principal circumstances which befell him
after his sudden departure from Birmingham; and which he narrated
with much candour to Mrs. Catherine.
He rode the Captain's horse to Oxford (having exchanged his military
dress for a civil costume on the road), and at Oxford he disposed of
"George of Denmark," a great bargain, to one of the heads of
colleges. As soon as Mr. Brock, who took on himself the style and
title of Captain Wood, had sufficiently examined the curiosities of
the University, he proceeded at once to the capital: the only place
for a gentleman of his fortune and figure.
Here he read, with a great deal of philosophical indifference, in
the Daily Post, the Courant, the Observator, the Gazette, and the
chief journals of those days, which he made a point of examining at
"Button's" and "Will's," an accurate description of his person, his
clothes, and the horse he rode, and a promise of fifty guineas'
reward to any person who would give an account of him (so that he
might be captured) to Captain Count Galgenstein at Birmingham, to
Mr. Murfey at the "Golden Ball" in the Savoy, or Mr. Bates at the
"Blew Anchor in Pickadilly." But Captain Wood, in an enormous
full-bottomed periwig that cost him sixty pounds,* with high red
heels to his shoes, a silver sword, and a gold snuff-box, and a
large wound (obtained, he said, at the siege of Barcelona), which
disfigured much of his countenance, and caused him to cover one eye,
was in small danger, he thought, of being mistaken for Corporal
Brock, the deserter of Cutts's; and strutted along the Mall with as
grave an air as the very best nobleman who appeared there. He was
generally, indeed, voted to be very good company; and as his
expenses were unlimited ("A few convent candlesticks," my dear, he
used to whisper, "melt into a vast number of doubloons"), he
commanded as good society as he chose to ask for: and it was
speedily known as a fact throughout town, that Captain Wood, who had
served under His Majesty Charles III. of Spain, had carried off the
diamond petticoat of Our Lady of Compostella, and lived upon the
proceeds of the fraud. People were good Protestants in those days,
and many a one longed to have been his partner in the pious plunder.
* In the ingenious contemporary history of Moll Flanders, a periwig
is mentioned as costing that sum.
All surmises concerning his wealth, Captain Wood, with much
discretion, encouraged. He contradicted no report, but was quite
ready to confirm all; and when two different rumours were positively
put to him, he used only to laugh, and say, "My dear sir, _I_ don't
make the stories; but I'm not called upon to deny them; and I give
you fair warning, that I shall assent to every one of them; so you
may believe them or not, as you please." And so he had the
reputation of being a gentleman, not only wealthy, but discreet. In
truth, it was almost a pity that worthy Brock had not been a
gentleman born; in which case, doubtless, he would have lived and
died as became his station; for he spent his money like a gentleman,
he loved women like a gentleman, he would fight like a gentleman, he
gambled and got drunk like a gentleman. What did he want else?
Only a matter of six descents, a little money, and an estate, to
render him the equal of St. John or Harley. "Ah, those were merry
days!" would Mr. Brock say,--for he loved, in a good old age, to
recount the story of his London fashionable campaign;--"and when I
think how near I was to become a great man, and to die perhaps a
general, I can't but marvel at the wicked obstinacy of my ill-luck."
"I will tell you what I did, my dear: I had lodgings in Piccadilly,
as if I were a lord; I had two large periwigs, and three suits of
laced clothes; I kept a little black dressed out like a Turk; I
walked daily in the Mall; I dined at the politest ordinary in Covent
Garden; I frequented the best of coffee-houses, and knew all the
pretty fellows of the town; I cracked a bottle with Mr. Addison, and
lent many a piece to Dick Steele (a sad debauched rogue, my dear);
and, above all, I'll tell you what I did--the noblest stroke that
sure ever a gentleman performed in my situation.
"One day, going into 'Will's,' I saw a crowd of gentlemen gathered
together, and heard one of them say, 'Captain Wood! I don't know the
man; but there was a Captain Wood in Southwell's regiment.' Egad, it
was my Lord Peterborough himself who was talking about me. So,
putting off my hat, I made a most gracious conge to my Lord, and
said I knew HIM, and rode behind him at Barcelona on our entry into
"'No doubt you did, Captain Wood,' says my Lord, taking my hand;
'and no doubt you know me: for many more know Tom Fool, than Tom
Fool knows.' And with this, at which all of us laughed, my Lord
called for a bottle, and he and I sat down and drank it together.
"Well, he was in disgrace, as you know, but he grew mighty fond of
me, and--would you believe it?--nothing would satisfy him but
presenting me at Court! Yes, to Her Sacred Majesty the Queen, and
my Lady Marlborough, who was in high feather. Ay, truly, the
sentinels on duty used to salute me as if I were Corporal John
himself! I was on the high road to fortune. Charley Mordaunt used
to call me Jack, and drink canary at my chambers; I used to make one
at my Lord Treasurer's levee; I had even got Mr. Army-Secretary
Walpole to take a hundred guineas as a compliment: and he had
promised me a majority: when bad luck turned, and all my fine hopes
were overthrown in a twinkling.
"You see, my dear, that after we had left that gaby,
Galgenstein,--ha, ha--with a gag in his mouth, and twopence-
halfpenny in his pocket, the honest Count was in the sorriest plight
in the world; owing money here and there to tradesmen, a cool
thousand to the Warwickshire Squire: and all this on eighty pounds
a year! Well, for a little time the tradesmen held their hands;
while the jolly Count moved heaven and earth to catch hold of his
dear Corporal and his dear money-bags over again, and placarded
every town from London to Liverpool with descriptions of my pretty
person. The bird was flown, however,--the money clean gone,--and
when there was no hope of regaining it, what did the creditors do
but clap my gay gentleman into Shrewsbury gaol: where I wish he had
rotted, for my part.
"But no such luck for honest Peter Brock, or Captain Wood, as he was
in those days. One blessed Monday I went to wait on Mr. Secretary,
and he squeezed my hand and whispered to me that I was to be Major
of a regiment in Virginia--the very thing: for you see, my dear, I
didn't care about joining my Lord Duke in Flanders; being pretty
well known to the army there. The Secretary squeezed my hand (it
had a fifty-pound bill in it) and wished me joy, and called me
Major, and bowed me out of his closet into the ante-room; and, as
gay as may be, I went off to the 'Tilt-yard Coffee-house' in
Whitehall, which is much frequented by gentlemen of our profession,
where I bragged not a little of my good luck.
"Amongst the company were several of my acquaintance, and amongst
them a gentleman I did not much care to see, look you! I saw a
uniform that I knew--red and yellow facings--Cutts's, my dear; and
the wearer of this was no other than his Excellency Gustavus
Adolphus Maximilian, whom we all know of!
"He stared me full in the face, right into my eye (t'other one was
patched, you know), and after standing stock-still with his mouth
open, gave a step back, and then a step forward, and then screeched
out, 'It's Brock!'
"'I beg your pardon, sir,' says I; 'did you speak to me?'
"'I'll SWEAR it's Brock,' cries Gal, as soon as he hears my voice,
and laid hold of my cuff (a pretty bit of Mechlin as ever you saw,
by the way).
"'Sirrah!' says I, drawing it back, and giving my Lord a little
touch of the fist (just at the last button of the waistcoat, my
dear,--a rare place if you wish to prevent a man from speaking too
much: it sent him reeling to the other end of the room). 'Ruffian!'
says I. 'Dog!' says I. 'Insolent puppy and coxcomb! what do you
mean by laying your hand on me?'
"'Faith, Major, you giv him his BILLYFUL,' roared out a long Irish
unattached ensign, that I had treated with many a glass of Nantz at
the tavern. And so, indeed, I had; for the wretch could not speak
for some minutes, and all the officers stood laughing at him, as he
writhed and wriggled hideously.
"'Gentlemen, this is a monstrous scandal,' says one officer. 'Men
of rank and honour at fists like a parcel of carters!'
"'Men of honour!' says the Count, who had fetched up his breath by
this time. (I made for the door, but Macshane held me and said,
'Major, you are not going to shirk him, sure?' Whereupon I gripped
his hand and vowed I would have the dog's life.)
"'Men of honour!' says the Count. 'I tell you the man is a
deserter, a thief, and a swindler! He was my corporal, and ran away
with a thou--'
"'Dog, you lie!' I roared out, and made another cut at him with my
cane; but the gentlemen rushed between us.
"'O bluthanowns!' says honest Macshane, 'the lying scounthrel this
fellow is! Gentlemen, I swear be me honour that Captain Wood was
wounded at Barcelona; and that I saw him there; and that he and I
ran away together at the battle of Almanza, and bad luck to us.'
"You see, my dear, that these Irish have the strongest imaginations
in the world; and that I had actually persuaded poor Mac that he and
I were friends in Spain. Everybody knew Mac, who was a character in
his way, and believed him.
"'Strike a gentleman,' says I. 'I'll have your blood, I will.'
"'This instant,' says the Count, who was boiling with fury; 'and
where you like.'
"'Montague House,' says I. 'Good,' says he. And off we went. In
good time too, for the constables came in at the thought of such a
disturbance, and wanted to take us in charge.
"But the gentlemen present, being military men, would not hear of
this. Out came Mac's rapier, and that of half-a-dozen others; and
the constables were then told to do their duty if they liked, or to
take a crown-piece, and leave us to ourselves. Off they went; and
presently, in a couple of coaches, the Count and his friends, I and
mine, drove off to the fields behind Montague House. Oh that vile
coffee-house! why did I enter it?
"We came to the ground. Honest Macshane was my second, and much
disappointed because the second on the other side would not make a
fight of it, and exchange a few passes with him; but he was an old
major, a cool old hand, as brave as steel, and no fool. Well, the
swords are measured, Galgenstein strips off his doublet, and I my
handsome cut-velvet in like fashion. Galgenstein flings off his
hat, and I handed mine over--the lace on it cost me twenty pounds.
I longed to be at him, for--curse him!--I hate him, and know that he
has no chance with me at sword's-play.
"'You'll not fight in that periwig, sure?' says Macshane. 'Of
course not,' says I, and took it off.
"May all barbers be roasted in flames; may all periwigs, bobwigs,
scratchwigs, and Ramillies cocks, frizzle in purgatory from this day
forth to the end of time! Mine was the ruin of me: what might I
not have been now but for that wig!
"I gave it over to Ensign Macshane, and with it went what I had
quite forgotten, the large patch which I wore over one eye, which
popped out fierce, staring, and lively as was ever any eye in the
"'Come on!' says I, and made a lunge at my Count; but he sprang back
(the dog was as active as a hare, and knew, from old times, that I
was his master with the small-sword), and his second, wondering,
struck up my blade.
"'I will not fight that man,' says he, looking mighty pale. 'I
swear upon my honour that his name is Peter Brock: he was for two
years my corporal, and deserted, running away with a thousand pounds
of my moneys. Look at the fellow! What is the matter with his eye?
why did he wear a patch over it? But stop!' says he. 'I have more
proof. Hand me my pocket-book.' And from it, sure enough, he
produced the infernal proclamation announcing my desertion! 'See if
the fellow has a scar across his left ear' (and I can't say, my
dear, but what I have: it was done by a cursed Dutchman at the
Boyne). 'Tell me if he has not got C.R. in blue upon his right arm'
(and there it is sure enough). 'Yonder swaggering Irishman may be
his accomplice for what I know; but I will have no dealings with Mr.
Brock, save with a constable for a second.'
"'This is an odd story, Captain Wood,' said the old Major who acted
for the Count.
"'A scounthrelly falsehood regarding me and my friend!' shouted out
Mr. Macshane; 'and the Count shall answer for it.'
"'Stop, stop!' says the Major. 'Captain Wood is too gallant a
gentleman, I am sure, not to satisfy the Count; and will show us
that he has no such mark on his arm as only private soldiers put
"'Captain Wood,' says I, 'will do no such thing, Major. I'll fight
that scoundrel Galgenstein, or you, or any of you, like a man of
honour; but I won't submit to be searched like a thief!'
"'No, in coorse,' said Macshane.
"'I must take my man off the ground,' says the Major.
"'Well, take him, sir,' says I, in a rage; 'and just let me have the
pleasure of telling him that he's a coward and a liar; and that my
lodgings are in Piccadilly, where, if ever he finds courage to meet
me, he may hear of me!'
"'Faugh! I shpit on ye all,' cries my gallant ally Macshane. And
sure enough he kept his word, or all but--suiting the action to it
at any rate.
"And so we gathered up our clothes, and went back in our separate
coaches, and no blood spilt.
"'And is it thrue now,' said Mr. Macshane, when we were alone--'is
it thrue now, all these divvles have been saying?' 'Ensign,' says
I, 'you're a man of the world?'
"''Deed and I am, and insign these twenty-two years.'
"'Perhaps you'd like a few pieces?' says I.
"'Faith and I should; for to tell you the secred thrut, I've not
tasted mate these four days.'
"'Well then, Ensign, it IS true,' says I; 'and as for meat, you
shall have some at the first cook-shop.' I bade the coach stop
until he bought a plateful, which he ate in the carriage, for my
time was precious. I just told him the whole story: at which he
laughed, and swore that it was the best piece of GENERALSHIP he ever
heard on. When his belly was full, I took out a couple of guineas
and gave them to him. Mr. Macshane began to cry at this, and kissed
me, and swore he never would desert me: as, indeed, my dear, I
don't think he will; for we have been the best of friends ever
since, and he's the only man I ever could trust, I think.
"I don't know what put it into my head, but I had a scent of some
mischief in the wind; so stopped the coach a little before I got
home, and, turning into a tavern, begged Macshane to go before me to
my lodging, and see if the coast was clear: which he did; and came
back to me as pale as death, saying that the house was full of
constables. The cursed quarrel at the Tilt-yard had, I suppose, set
the beaks upon me; and a pretty sweep they made of it. Ah, my dear!
five hundred pounds in money, five suits of laced clothes, three
periwigs, besides laced shirts, swords, canes, and snuff-boxes; and
all to go back to that scoundrel Count.
"It was all over with me, I saw--no more being a gentleman for me;
and if I remained to be caught, only a choice between Tyburn and a
file of grenadiers. My love, under such circumstances, a gentleman
can't be particular, and must be prompt; the livery-stable was hard
by where I used to hire my coach to go to Court,--ha! ha!--and was
known as a man of substance. Thither I went immediately. 'Mr.
Warmmash,' says I, 'my gallant friend here and I have a mind for a
ride and a supper at Twickenham, so you must lend us a pair of your
best horses.' Which he did in a twinkling, and off we rode.
"We did not go into the Park, but turned off and cantered smartly up
towards Kilburn; and, when we got into the country, galloped as if
the devil were at our heels. Bless you, my love, it was all done in
a minute: and the Ensign and I found ourselves regular knights of
the road, before we knew where we were almost. Only think of our
finding you and your new husband at the 'Three Rooks'! There's not
a greater fence than the landlady in all the country. It was she
that put us on seizing your husband, and introduced us to the other
two gentlemen, whose names I don't know any more than the dead."
"And what became of the horses?" said Mrs. Catherine to Mr. Brock,
when his tale was finished.
"Rips, madam," said he; "mere rips. We sold them at Stourbridge
fair, and got but thirteen guineas for the two."
"And--and--the Count, Max; where is he, Brock?" sighed she.
"Whew!" whistled Mr. Brock. "What, hankering after him still? My
dear, he is off to Flanders with his regiment; and, I make no doubt,
there have been twenty Countesses of Galgenstein since your time."
"I don't believe any such thing, sir," said Mrs. Catherine, starting
up very angrily.
"If you did, I suppose you'd laudanum him; wouldn't you?"
"Leave the room, fellow," said the lady. But she recollected
herself speedily again; and, clasping her hands, and looking very
wretched at Brock, at the ceiling, at the floor, at her husband
(from whom she violently turned away her head), she began to cry
piteously: to which tears the Corporal set up a gentle
accompaniment of whistling, as they trickled one after another down
I don't think they were tears of repentance; but of regret for the
time when she had her first love, and her fine clothes, and her
white hat and blue feather. Of the two, the Corporal's whistle was
much more innocent than the girl's sobbing: he was a rogue; but a
good-natured old fellow when his humour was not crossed. Surely our
novel-writers make a great mistake in divesting their rascals of all
gentle human qualities: they have such--and the only sad point to
think of is, in all private concerns of life, abstract feelings, and
dealings with friends, and so on, how dreadfully like a rascal is to
an honest man. The man who murdered the Italian boy, set him first
to play with his children whom he loved, and who doubtless deplored
CHAPTER VI. ADVENTURES OF THE AMBASSADOR, MR. MACSHANE.
If we had not been obliged to follow history in all respects, it is
probable that we should have left out the last adventure of Mrs.
Catherine and her husband, at the inn at Worcester, altogether; for,
in truth, very little came of it, and it is not very romantic or
striking. But we are bound to stick closely, above all, by THE
TRUTH--the truth, though it be not particularly pleasant to read of
or to tell. As anybody may read in the "Newgate Calendar," Mr. and
Mrs. Hayes were taken at an inn at Worcester; were confined there;
were swindled by persons who pretended to impress the bridegroom for
military service. What is one to do after that? Had we been
writing novels instead of authentic histories, we might have carried
them anywhere else we chose: and we had a great mind to make Hayes
philosophising with Bolingbroke, like a certain Devereux; and Mrs.
Catherine maitresse en titre to Mr. Alexander Pope, Doctor
Sacheverel, Sir John Reade the oculist, Dean Swift, or Marshal
Tallard; as the very commonest romancer would under such
circumstances. But alas and alas! truth must be spoken, whatever
else is in the wind; and the excellent "Newgate Calendar," which
contains the biographies and thanatographies of Hayes and his wife,
does not say a word of their connections with any of the leading
literary or military heroes of the time of Her Majesty Queen Anne.
The "Calendar" says, in so many words, that Hayes was obliged to
send to his father in Warwickshire for money to get him out of the
scrape, and that the old gentleman came down to his aid. By this
truth must we stick; and not for the sake of the most brilliant
episode,--no, not for a bribe of twenty extra guineas per sheet,
would we depart from it.
Mr. Brock's account of his adventure in London has given the reader
some short notice of his friend, Mr Macshane. Neither the wits nor
the principles of that worthy Ensign were particularly firm: for
drink, poverty, and a crack on the skull at the battle of Steenkirk
had served to injure the former; and the Ensign was not in his best
days possessed of any share of the latter. He had really, at one
period, held such a rank in the army, but pawned his half-pay for
drink and play; and for many years past had lived, one of the
hundred thousand miracles of our city, upon nothing that anybody
knew of, or of which he himself could give any account. Who has not
a catalogue of these men in his list? who can tell whence comes the
occasional clean shirt, who supplies the continual means of
drunkenness, who wards off the daily-impending starvation? Their
life is a wonder from day to day: their breakfast a wonder; their
dinner a miracle; their bed an interposition of Providence. If you
and I, my dear sir, want a shilling tomorrow, who will give it us?
Will OUR butchers give us mutton-chops? will OUR laundresses clothe
us in clean linen?--not a bone or a rag. Standing as we do (may it
be ever so) somewhat removed from want,* is there one of us who does
not shudder at the thought of descending into the lists to combat
with it, and expect anything but to be utterly crushed in the
* The author, it must be remembered, has his lodgings and food
provided for him by the government of his country.
Not a bit of it, my dear sir. It takes much more than you think for
to starve a man. Starvation is very little when you are used to it.
Some people I know even, who live on it quite comfortably, and make
their daily bread by it. It had been our friend Macshane's sole
profession for many years; and he did not fail to draw from it such
a livelihood as was sufficient, and perhaps too good, for him. He
managed to dine upon it a certain or rather uncertain number of days
in the week, to sleep somewhere, and to get drunk at least three
hundred times a year. He was known to one or two noblemen who
occasionally helped him with a few pieces, and whom he helped in
turn--never mind how. He had other acquaintances whom he pestered
undauntedly; and from whom he occasionally extracted a dinner, or a
crown, or mayhap, by mistake, a goldheaded cane, which found its way
to the pawnbroker's. When flush of cash, he would appear at the
coffee-house; when low in funds, the deuce knows into what mystic
caves and dens he slunk for food and lodging. He was perfectly
ready with his sword, and when sober, or better still, a very little
tipsy, was a complete master of it; in the art of boasting and lying
he had hardly any equals; in shoes he stood six feet five inches;
and here is his complete signalement. It was a fact that he had
been in Spain as a volunteer, where he had shown some gallantry, had
had a brain-fever, and was sent home to starve as before.
Mr. Macshane had, however, like Mr. Conrad, the Corsair, one virtue
in the midst of a thousand crimes,--he was faithful to his employer
for the time being: and a story is told of him, which may or may
not be to his credit, viz. that being hired on one occasion by a
certain lord to inflict a punishment upon a roturier who had crossed
his lordship in his amours, he, Macshane, did actually refuse from
the person to be belaboured, and who entreated his forbearance, a
larger sum of money than the nobleman gave him for the beating;
which he performed punctually, as bound in honour and friendship.
This tale would the Ensign himself relate, with much
self-satisfaction; and when, after the sudden flight from London, he
and Brock took to their roving occupation, he cheerfully submitted
to the latter as his commanding officer, called him always Major,
and, bating blunders and drunkenness, was perfectly true to his
leader. He had a notion--and, indeed, I don't know that it was a
wrong one--that his profession was now, as before, strictly
military, and according to the rules of honour. Robbing he called
plundering the enemy; and hanging was, in his idea, a dastardly and
cruel advantage that the latter took, and that called for the
The other gentlemen concerned were strangers to Mr. Brock, who felt
little inclined to trust either of them upon such a message, or with
such a large sum to bring back. They had, strange to say, a similar
mistrust on their side; but Mr. Brock lugged out five guineas, which
he placed in the landlady's hand as security for his comrade's
return; and Ensign Macshane, being mounted on poor Hayes's own
horse, set off to visit the parents of that unhappy young man. It
was a gallant sight to behold our thieves' ambassador, in a faded
sky-blue suit with orange facings, in a pair of huge jack-boots
unconscious of blacking, with a mighty basket-hilted sword by his
side, and a little shabby beaver cocked over a large tow-periwig,
ride out from the inn of the "Three Rooks" on his mission to Hayes's
It was eighteen miles distant from Worcester; but Mr. Macshane
performed the distance in safety, and in sobriety moreover (for such
had been his instructions), and had no difficulty in discovering the
house of old Hayes: towards which, indeed, John's horse trotted
incontinently. Mrs. Hayes, who was knitting at the house-door, was
not a little surprised at the appearance of the well-known grey
gelding, and of the stranger mounted upon it.
Flinging himself off the steed with much agility, Mr. Macshane, as
soon as his feet reached the ground, brought them rapidly together,
in order to make a profound and elegant bow to Mrs. Hayes; and
slapping his greasy beaver against his heart, and poking his periwig
almost into the nose of the old lady, demanded whether he had the
"shooprame honour of adthressing Misthriss Hees?"
Having been answered in the affirmative, he then proceeded to ask
whether there was a blackguard boy in the house who would take "the
horse to the steeble;" whether "he could have a dthrink of
small-beer or buthermilk, being, faith, uncommon dthry;" and
whether, finally, "he could be feevored with a few minutes' private
conversation with her and Mr. Hees, on a matther of consitherable
impartance." All these preliminaries were to be complied with
before Mr. Macshane would enter at all into the subject of his
visit. The horse and man were cared for; Mr. Hayes was called in;
and not a little anxious did Mrs. Hayes grow, in the meanwhile, with
regard to the fate of her darling son. "Where is he? How is he?
Is he dead?" said the old lady. "Oh yes, I'm sure he's dead !"
"Indeed, madam, and you're misteeken intirely: the young man is
perfectly well in health."
"Oh, praised be Heaven!"
"But mighty cast down in sperrits. To misfortunes, madam, look you,
the best of us are subject; and a trifling one has fell upon your
And herewith Mr. Macshane produced a letter in the handwriting of
young Hayes, of which we have had the good luck to procure a copy.
It ran thus:--
"HONORED FATHER AND MOTHER,--The bearer of this is a kind gentleman,
who has left me in a great deal of trouble. Yesterday, at this
towne, I fell in with some gentlemen of the queene's servas; after
drinking with whom, I accepted her Majesty's mony to enliste.
Repenting thereof, I did endeavour to escape; and, in so doing, had
the misfortune to strike my superior officer, whereby I made myself
liable to Death, according to the rules of warr. If, however, I pay
twenty ginnys, all will be wel. You must give the same to the
barer, els I shall be shott without fail on Tewsday morning. And so
no more from your loving son,
"From my prison at Bristol, this unhappy Monday."
When Mrs. Hayes read this pathetic missive, its success with her was
complete, and she was for going immediately to the cupboard, and
producing the money necessary for her darling son's release. But
the carpenter Hayes was much more suspicious. "I don't know you,
sir," said he to the ambassador.
"Do you doubt my honour, sir?" said the Ensign, very fiercely.
"Why, sir," replied Mr. Hayes "I know little about it one way or
other, but shall take it for granted, if you will explain a little
more of this business."
"I sildom condescind to explean," said Mr. Macshane, "for it's not
the custom in my rank; but I'll explean anything in reason."
"Pray, will you tell me in what regiment my son is enlisted?"
"In coorse. In Colonel Wood's fut, my dear; and a gallant corps it
is as any in the army."
"And you left him?"
"On me soul, only three hours ago, having rid like a horse-jockey
ever since; as in the sacred cause of humanity, curse me, every man
As Hayes's house was seventy miles from Bristol, the old gentleman
thought this was marvellous quick riding, and so, cut the
conversation short. "You have said quite enough, sir," said he, "to
show me there is some roguery in the matter, and that the whole
story is false from beginning to end."
At this abrupt charge the Ensign looked somewhat puzzled, and then
spoke with much gravity. "Roguery," said he, "Misthur Hees, is a
sthrong term; and which, in consideration of my friendship for your
family, I shall pass over. You doubt your son's honour, as there
wrote by him in black and white?"
"You have forced him to write," said Mr. Hayes.
"The sly old divvle's right," muttered Mr. Macshane, aside. "Well,
sir, to make a clean breast of it, he HAS been forced to write it.
The story about the enlistment is a pretty fib, if you will, from
beginning to end. And what then, my dear? Do you think your son's
any better off for that?"
"Oh, where is he?" screamed Mrs. Hayes, plumping down on her knees.
"We WILL give him the money, won't we, John?"
"I know you will, madam, when I tell you where he is. He is in the
hands of some gentlemen of my acquaintance, who are at war with the
present government, and no more care about cutting a man's throat
than they do a chicken's. He is a prisoner, madam, of our sword and
spear. If you choose to ransom him, well and good; if not, peace be
with him! for never more shall you see him."
"And how do I know you won't come back to-morrow for more money?"
asked Mr. Hayes.
"Sir, you have my honour; and I'd as lieve break my neck as my
word," said Mr. Macshane, gravely. "Twenty guineas is the bargain.
Take ten minutes to talk of it--take it then, or leave it; it's all
the same to me, my dear." And it must be said of our friend the
Ensign, that he meant every word he said, and that he considered the
embassy on which he had come as perfectly honourable and regular.
"And pray, what prevents us," said Mr. Hayes, starting up in a rage,
"from taking hold of you, as a surety for him?"
"You wouldn't fire on a flag of truce, would ye, you dishonourable
ould civilian?" replied Mr. Macshane. "Besides," says he, "there's
more reasons to prevent you: the first is this," pointing to his
sword; "here are two more"--and these were pistols; "and the last
and the best of all is, that you might hang me and dthraw me and
quarther me, an yet never see so much as the tip of your son's nose
again. Look you, sir, we run mighty risks in our profession--it's
not all play, I can tell you. We're obliged to be punctual, too, or
it's all up with the thrade. If I promise that your son will die as
sure as fate to-morrow morning, unless I return home safe, our
people MUST keep my promise; or else what chance is there for me?
You would be down upon me in a moment with a posse of constables,
and have me swinging before Warwick gaol. Pooh, my dear! you never
would sacrifice a darling boy like John Hayes, let alone his lady,
for the sake of my long carcass. One or two of our gentlemen have
been taken that way already, because parents and guardians would not
"AND WHAT BECAME OF THE POOR CHILDREN?" said Mrs. Hayes, who began
to perceive the gist of the argument, and to grow dreadfully
"Don't let's talk of them, ma'am: humanity shudthers at the
thought!" And herewith Mr. Macshane drew his finger across his
throat in such a dreadful way as to make the two parents tremble.
"It's the way of war, madam, look you. The service I have the
honour to belong to is not paid by the Queen; and so we're obliged
to make our prisoners pay, according to established military
No lawyer could have argued his case better than Mr. Macshane so
far; and he completely succeeded in convincing Mr. and Mrs. Hayes of
the necessity of ransoming their son. Promising that the young man
should be restored to them next morning, along with his beautiful
lady, he courteously took leave of the old couple, and made the best
of his way back to Worcester again. The elder Hayes wondered who
the lady could be of whom the ambassador had spoken, for their son's
elopement was altogether unknown to them; but anger or doubt about
this subject was overwhelmed by their fears for their darling John's
safety. Away rode the gallant Macshane with the money necessary to
effect this; and it must be mentioned, as highly to his credit, that
he never once thought of appropriating the sum to himself, or of
deserting his comrades in any way.
His ride from Worcester had been a long one. He had left that city
at noon, but before his return thither the sun had gone down; and
the landscape, which had been dressed like a prodigal, in purple and
gold, now appeared like a Quaker, in dusky grey; and the trees by
the road-side grew black as undertakers or physicians, and, bending
their solemn heads to each other, whispered ominously among
themselves; and the mists hung on the common; and the cottage lights
went out one by one; and the earth and heaven grew black, but for
some twinkling useless stars, which freckled the ebon countenance of
the latter; and the air grew colder; and about two o'clock the moon
appeared, a dismal pale-faced rake, walking solitary through the
deserted sky; and about four, mayhap, the Dawn (wretched
'prentice-boy!) opened in the east the shutters of the Day:--in
other words, more than a dozen hours had passed. Corporal Brock had
been relieved by Mr. Redcap, the latter by Mr. Sicklop, the one-eyed
gentleman; Mrs. John Hayes, in spite of her sorrows and bashfulness,
had followed the example of her husband, and fallen asleep by his
side--slept for many hours--and awakened still under the
guardianship of Mr. Brock's troop; and all parties began anxiously
to expect the return of the ambassador, Mr. Macshane.
That officer, who had performed the first part of his journey with
such distinguished prudence and success, found the night, on his
journey homewards, was growing mighty cold and dark; and as he was
thirsty and hungry, had money in his purse, and saw no cause to
hurry, he determined to take refuge at an alehouse for the night,
and to make for Worcester by dawn the next morning. He accordingly
alighted at the first inn on his road, consigned his horse to the
stable, and, entering the kitchen, called for the best liquor in the
A small company was assembled at the inn, among whom Mr. Macshane
took his place with a great deal of dignity; and, having a
considerable sum of money in his pocket, felt a mighty contempt for
his society, and soon let them know the contempt he felt for them.
After a third flagon of ale, he discovered that the liquor was sour,
and emptied, with much spluttering and grimaces, the remainder of
the beer into the fire. This process so offended the parson of the
parish (who in those good old times did not disdain to take the post
of honour in the chimney-nook), that he left his corner, looking
wrathfully at the offender; who without any more ado instantly
occupied it. It was a fine thing to hear the jingling of the twenty
pieces in his pocket, the oaths which he distributed between the
landlord, the guests, and the liquor--to remark the sprawl of his
mighty jack-boots, before the sweep of which the timid guests edged
farther and farther away; and the languishing leers which he cast on
the landlady, as with wide-spread arms he attempted to seize upon
When the ostler had done his duties in the stable, he entered the
inn, and whispered the landlord that "the stranger was riding John
Hayes's horse:" of which fact the host soon convinced himself, and
did not fail to have some suspicions of his guest. Had he not
thought that times were unquiet, horses might be sold, and one man's
money was as good as another's, he probably would have arrested the
Ensign immediately, and so lost all the profit of the score which
the latter was causing every moment to be enlarged.
In a couple of hours, with that happy facility which one may have
often remarked in men of the gallant Ensign's nation, he had managed
to disgust every one of the landlord's other guests, and scare them
from the kitchen. Frightened by his addresses, the landlady too had
taken flight; and the host was the only person left in the
apartment; who there stayed for interest's sake merely, and listened
moodily to his tipsy guest's conversation. In an hour more, the
whole house was awakened by a violent noise of howling, curses, and
pots clattering to and fro. Forth issued Mrs. Landlady in her
night-gear, out came John Ostler with his pitchfork, downstairs
tumbled Mrs. Cook and one or two guests, and found the landlord and
ensign on the kitchen-floor--the wig of the latter lying, much
singed and emitting strange odours, in the fireplace, his face
hideously distorted, and a great quantity of his natural hair in the
partial occupation of the landlord; who had drawn it and the head
down towards him, in order that he might have the benefit of
pummelling the latter more at his ease. In revenge, the landlord
was undermost, and the Ensign's arms were working up and down his
face and body like the flaps of a paddle-wheel: the man of war had
clearly the best of it.
The combatants were separated as soon as possible; but, as soon as
the excitement of the fight was over, Ensign Macshane was found to
have no further powers of speech, sense, or locomotion, and was
carried by his late antagonist to bed. His sword and pistols, which
had been placed at his side at the commencement of the evening, were
carefully put by, and his pocket visited. Twenty guineas in gold, a
large knife--used, probably, for the cutting of
bread-and-cheese--some crumbs of those delicacies and a paper of
tobacco found in the breeches-pockets, and in the bosom of the
sky-blue coat, the leg of a cold fowl and half of a raw onion,
constituted his whole property.
These articles were not very suspicious; but the beating which the
landlord had received tended greatly to confirm his own and his
wife's doubts about their guest; and it was determined to send off
in the early morning to Mr. Hayes, informing him how a person had
lain at their inn who had ridden thither mounted upon young Hayes's
horse. Off set John Ostler at earliest dawn; but on his way he woke
up Mr. Justice's clerk, and communicated his suspicions to him; and
Mr. Clerk consulted with the village baker, who was always up early;
and the clerk, the baker, the butcher with his cleaver, and two
gentlemen who were going to work, all adjourned to the inn.
Accordingly, when Ensign Macshane was in a truckle-bed, plunged in
that deep slumber which only innocence and drunkenness enjoy in this
world, and charming the ears of morn by the regular and melodious
music of his nose, a vile plot was laid against him; and when about
seven of the clock he woke, he found, on sitting up in his bed,
three gentlemen on each side of it, armed, and looking ominous. One
held a constable's staff, and albeit unprovided with a warrant,
would take upon himself the responsibility of seizing Mr. Macshane
and of carrying him before his worship at the hall.
"Taranouns, man!" said the Ensign, springing up in bed, and abruptly
breaking off a loud sonorous yawn, with which he had opened the
business of the day, "you won't deteen a gentleman who's on life and
death? I give ye my word, an affair of honour."
"How came you by that there horse?" said the baker.
"How came you by these here fifteen guineas?" said the landlord, in
whose hands, by some process, five of the gold pieces had
"What is this here idolatrous string of beads?" said the clerk.
Mr. Macshane, the fact is, was a Catholic, but did not care to own
it: for in those days his religion was not popular.
"Baids? Holy Mother of saints! give me back them baids," said Mr.
Macshane, clasping his hands. "They were blest, I tell you, by his
holiness the po--psha! I mane they belong to a darling little
daughter I had that's in heaven now: and as for the money and the
horse, I should like to know how a gentleman is to travel in this
counthry without them."
"Why, you see, he may travel in the country to GIT 'em," here
shrewdly remarked the constable; "and it's our belief that neither
horse nor money is honestly come by. If his worship is satisfied,
why so, in course, shall we be; but there is highwaymen abroad, look
you; and, to our notion, you have very much the cut of one."
Further remonstrances or threats on the part of Mr. Macshane were
useless. Although he vowed that he was first cousin to the Duke of
Leinster, an officer in Her Majesty's service, and the dearest
friend Lord Marlborough had, his impudent captors would not believe
a word of his statement (which, further, was garnished with a
tremendous number of oaths); and he was, about eight o'clock,
carried up to the house of Squire Ballance, the neighbouring justice
of the peace.
When the worthy magistrate asked the crime of which the prisoner had
been guilty, the captors looked somewhat puzzled for the moment;
since, in truth, it could not be shown that the Ensign had committed
any crime at all; and if he had confined himself to simple silence,
and thrown upon them the onus of proving his misdemeanours, Justice
Ballance must have let him loose, and soundly rated his clerk and
the landlord for detaining an honest gentleman on so frivolous a
But this caution was not in the Ensign's disposition; and though his
accusers produced no satisfactory charge against him, his own words
were quite enough to show how suspicious his character was. When
asked his name, he gave it in as Captain Geraldine, on his way to
Ireland, by Bristol, on a visit to his cousin the Duke of Leinster.
He swore solemnly that his friends, the Duke of Marlborough and Lord
Peterborough, under both of whom he had served, should hear of the
manner in which he had been treated; and when the justice,--a sly
old gentleman, and one that read the Gazettes, asked him at what
battles he had been present, the gallant Ensign pitched on a couple
in Spain and in Flanders, which had been fought within a week of
each other, and vowed that he had been desperately wounded at both;
so that, at the end of his examination, which had been taken down by
the clerk, he had been made to acknowledge as follows:--Captain
Geraldine, six feet four inches in height; thin, with a very long
red nose, and red hair; grey eyes, and speaks with a strong Irish
accent; is the first-cousin of the Duke of Leinster, and in constant
communication with him: does not know whether his Grace has any
children; does not know whereabouts he lives in London; cannot say
what sort of a looking man his Grace is: is acquainted with the
Duke of Marlborough, and served in the dragoons at the battle of
Ramillies; at which time he was with my Lord Peterborough before
Barcelona. Borrowed the horse which he rides from a friend in
London, three weeks since. Peter Hobbs, ostler, swears that it was
in his master's stable four days ago, and is the property of John
Hayes, carpenter. Cannot account for the fifteen guineas found on
him by the landlord; says there were twenty; says he won them at
cards, a fortnight since, at Edinburgh; says he is riding about the
country for his amusement: afterwards says he is on a matter of
life and death, and going to Bristol; declared last night, in the
hearing of several witnesses, that he was going to York; says he is
a man of independent property, and has large estates in Ireland, and
a hundred thousand pounds in the Bank of England. Has no shirt or
stockings, and the coat he wears is marked "S.S." In his boots is
written "Thomas Rodgers," and in his hat is the name of the "Rev.
Doctor Snoffler lived at Worcester, and had lately advertised in the
Hue and Cry a number of articles taken from his house. Mr. Macshane
said, in reply to this, that his hat had been changed at the inn,
and he was ready to take his oath that he came thither in a
gold-laced one. But this fact was disproved by the oaths of many
persons who had seen him at the inn. And he was about to be
imprisoned for the thefts which he had not committed (the fact about
the hat being, that he had purchased it from a gentleman at the
"Three Rooks" for two pints of beer)--he was about to be remanded,
when, behold, Mrs. Hayes the elder made her appearance; and to her
it was that the Ensign was indebted for his freedom.
Old Hayes had gone to work before the ostler arrived; but when his
wife heard the lad's message, she instantly caused her pillion to be
placed behind the saddle, and mounting the grey horse, urged the
stable-boy to gallop as hard as ever he could to the justice's
She entered panting and alarmed. "Oh, what is your honour going to
do to this honest gentleman?" said she. "In the name of Heaven, let
him go! His time is precious--he has important business--business of
life and death."
"I tould the jidge so," said the Ensign, "but he refused to take my
word--the sacred wurrd of honour of Captain Geraldine."
Macshane was good at a single lie, though easily flustered on an
examination; and this was a very creditable stratagem to acquaint
Mrs. Hayes with the name that he bore.
"What! you know Captain Geraldine?" said Mr. Ballance, who was
perfectly well acquainted with the carpenter's wife.
"In coorse she does. Hasn't she known me these tin years? Are we
not related? Didn't she give me the very horse which I rode, and,
to make belave, tould you I'd bought in London?"
"Let her tell her own story. Are you related to Captain Geraldine,
"A very elegant connection! And you gave him the horse, did you, of
your own free-will?"
"Oh yes! of my own will--I would give him anything. Do, do, your
honour, let him go! His child is dying," said the old lady,
bursting into tears. "It may be dead before he gets to--before he
gets there. Oh, your honour, your honour, pray, pray, don't detain
The justice did not seem to understand this excessive sympathy on
the part of Mrs. Hayes; nor did the father himself appear to be
nearly so affected by his child's probable fate as the honest woman
who interested herself for him. On the contrary, when she made this
passionate speech, Captain Geraldine only grinned, and said, "Niver
mind, my dear. If his honour will keep an honest gentleman for
doing nothing, why, let him--the law must settle between us; and as
for the child, poor thing, the Lord deliver it!"
At this, Mrs. Hayes fell to entreating more loudly than ever; and as
there was really no charge against him, Mr. Ballance was constrained
to let him go.
The landlord and his friends were making off, rather confused, when
Ensign Macshane called upon the former in a thundering voice to
stop, and refund the five guineas which he had stolen from him.
Again the host swore there were but fifteen in his pocket. But
when, on the Bible, the Ensign solemnly vowed that he had twenty,
and called upon Mrs. Hayes to say whether yesterday, half-an-hour
before he entered the inn, she had not seen him with twenty guineas,
and that lady expressed herself ready to swear that she had, Mr.
Landlord looked more crestfallen than ever, and said that he had not
counted the money when he took it; and though he did in his soul
believe that there were only fifteen guineas, rather than be
suspected of a shabby action, he would pay the five guineas out of
his own pocket: which he did, and with the Ensign's, or rather Mrs.
Hayes's, own coin.
As soon as they were out of the justice's house, Mr. Macshane, in
the fulness of his gratitude, could not help bestowing an embrace
upon Mrs. Hayes. And when she implored him to let her ride behind
him to her darling son, he yielded with a very good grace, and off
the pair set on John Hayes's grey.
"Who has Nosey brought with him now?" said Mr. Sicklop, Brock's
one-eyed confederate, who, about three hours after the above
adventure, was lolling in the yard of the "Three Rooks." It was our
Ensign, with the mother of his captive. They had not met with any
accident in their ride.
"I shall now have the shooprame bliss," said Mr. Macshane, with much
feeling, as he lifted Mrs. Hayes from the saddle---"the shooprame
bliss of intwining two harrts that are mead for one another. Ours,
my dear, is a dismal profession; but ah! don't moments like this
make aminds for years of pain? This way, my dear. Turn to your
right, then to your left--mind the stip--and the third door round
All these precautions were attended to; and after giving his
concerted knock, Mr. Macshane was admitted into an apartment, which
he entered holding his gold pieces in the one hand, and a lady by
We shall not describe the meeting which took place between mother
and son. The old lady wept copiously; the young man was really glad
to see his relative, for he deemed that his troubles were over.
Mrs. Cat bit her lips, and stood aside, looking somewhat foolish;
Mr. Brock counted the money; and Mr. Macshane took a large dose of
strong waters, as a pleasing solace for his labours, dangers, and
When the maternal feelings were somewhat calmed, the old lady had
leisure to look about her, and really felt a kind of friendship and
goodwill for the company of thieves in which she found herself. It
seemed to her that they had conferred an actual favour on her, in
robbing her of twenty guineas, threatening her son's life, and
finally letting him go.
"Who is that droll old gentleman?" said she; and being told that it
was Captain Wood, she dropped him a curtsey, and said, with much
respect, "Captain, your very humble servant;" which compliment Mr.
Brock acknowledged by a gracious smile and bow. "And who is this
pretty young lady?" continued Mrs. Hayes.
"Why--hum--oh--mother, you must give her your blessing. She is Mrs.
John Hayes." And herewith Mr. Hayes brought forward his interesting
lady, to introduce her to his mamma.
The news did not at all please the old lady; who received Mrs.
Catherine's embrace with a very sour face indeed. However, the
mischief was done; and she was too glad to get back her son to be,
on such an occasion, very angry with him. So, after a proper
rebuke, she told Mrs. John Hayes that though she never approved of
her son's attachment, and thought he married below his condition,
yet as the evil was done, it was their duty to make the best of it;
and she, for her part, would receive her into her house, and make
her as comfortable there as she could.
"I wonder whether she has any more money in that house?" whispered
Mr. Sicklop to Mr. Redcap; who, with the landlady, had come to the
door of the room, and had been amusing themselves by the
contemplation of this sentimental scene.
"What a fool that wild Hirishman was not to bleed her for more!"
said the landlady; "but he's a poor ignorant Papist. I'm sure my
man" (this gentleman had been hanged), "wouldn't have come away with
such a beggarly sum."
"Suppose we have some more out of 'em?" said Mr. Redcap. "What
prevents us? We have got the old mare, and the colt too,--ha! ha!--
and the pair of 'em ought to be worth at least a hundred to us."
This conversation was carried on sotto voce; and I don't know
whether Mr. Brock had any notion of the plot which was arranged by
the three worthies. The landlady began it. "Which punch, madam,
will you take?" says she. "You must have something for the good of
the house, now you are in it."
"In coorse," said the Ensign.
"Certainly," said the other three. But the old lady said she was
anxious to leave the place; and putting down a crown-piece,
requested the hostess to treat the gentlemen in her absence.
"Good-bye, Captain," said the old lady.
"Ajew!" cried the Ensign, "and long life to you, my dear. You got
me out of a scrape at the justice's yonder; and, split me! but
Insign Macshane will remimber it as long as he lives."
And now Hayes and the two ladies made for the door; but the landlady
placed herself against it, and Mr. Sicklop said, "No, no, my pretty
madams, you ain't a-going off so cheap as that neither; you are not
going out for a beggarly twenty guineas, look you,--we must have
Mr. Hayes starting back, and cursing his fate, fairly burst into
tears; the two women screamed; and Mr. Brock looked as if the
proposition both amused and had been expected by him: but not so
"Major!" said he, clawing fiercely hold of Brock's arms.
"Ensign," said Mr. Brock, smiling.
"Arr we, or arr we not, men of honour?"
"Oh, in coorse," said Brock, laughing, and using Macshane's
"If we ARR men of honour, we are bound to stick to our word; and,
hark ye, you dirty one-eyed scoundrel, if you don't immadiately make
way for these leedies, and this lily-livered young jontleman who's
crying so, the Meejor here and I will lug out and force you." And
so saying, he drew his great sword and made a pass at Mr. Sicklop;
which that gentleman avoided, and which caused him and his companion
to retreat from the door. The landlady still kept her position at
it, and with a storm of oaths against the Ensign, and against two
Englishmen who ran away from a wild Hirishman, swore she would not
budge a foot, and would stand there until her dying day.
"Faith, then, needs must," said the Ensign, and made a lunge at the
hostess, which passed so near the wretch's throat, that she
screamed, sank on her knees, and at last opened the door.
Down the stairs, then, with great state, Mr. Macshane led the elder
lady, the married couple following; and having seen them to the
street, took an affectionate farewell of the party, whom he vowed
that he would come and see. "You can walk the eighteen miles aisy,
between this and nightfall," said he.
"WALK!" exclaimed Mr. Hayes. "Why, haven't we got Ball, and shall
ride and tie all the way?"
"Madam!" cried Macshane, in a stern voice, "honour before
everything. Did you not, in the presence of his worship, vow and
declare that you gave me that horse, and now d'ye talk of taking it
back again? Let me tell you, madam, that such paltry thricks ill
become a person of your years and respectability, and ought never to
be played with Insign Timothy Macshane."
He waved his hat and strutted down the street; and Mrs. Catherine
Hayes, along with her bridegroom and mother-in-law, made the best of
their way homeward on foot.
CHAPTER VII. WHICH EMBRACES A PERIOD OF SEVEN YEARS.
The recovery of so considerable a portion of his property from the
clutches of Brock was, as may be imagined, no trifling source of joy
to that excellent young man, Count Gustavus Adolphus de Galgenstein;
and he was often known to say, with much archness, and a proper
feeling of gratitude to the Fate which had ordained things so, that
the robbery was, in reality, one of the best things that could have
happened to him: for, in event of Mr. Brock's NOT stealing the
money, his Excellency the Count would have had to pay the whole to
the Warwickshire Squire, who had won it from him at play. He was
enabled, in the present instance, to plead his notorious poverty as
an excuse; and the Warwickshire conqueror got off with nothing,
except a very badly written autograph of the Count's, simply
acknowledging the debt.
This point his Excellency conceded with the greatest candour; but
(as, doubtless, the reader may have remarked in the course of his
experience) to owe is not quite the same thing as to pay; and from
the day of his winning the money until the day of his death the
Warwickshire Squire did never, by any chance, touch a single bob,
tizzy, tester, moidore, maravedi, doubloon, tomaun, or rupee, of the
sum which Monsieur de Galgenstein had lost to him.
That young nobleman was, as Mr. Brock hinted in the little
autobiographical sketch which we gave in a former chapter,
incarcerated for a certain period, and for certain other debts, in
the donjons of Shrewsbury; but he released himself from them by that
noble and consolatory method of whitewashing which the law has
provided for gentlemen in his oppressed condition; and he had not
been a week in London, when he fell in with, and overcame, or put to
flight, Captain Wood, alias Brock, and immediately seized upon the
remainder of his property. After receiving this, the Count, with
commendable discretion, disappeared from England altogether for a
while; nor are we at all authorised to state that any of his debts
to his tradesmen were discharged, any more than his debts of honour,
as they are pleasantly called.
Having thus settled with his creditors, the gallant Count had
interest enough with some of the great folk to procure for himself a
post abroad, and was absent in Holland for some time. It was here
that he became acquainted with the lovely Madam Silverkoop, the
widow of a deceased gentleman of Leyden; and although the lady was
not at that age at which tender passions are usually inspired--being
sixty--and though she could not, like Mademoiselle Ninon de
l'Enclos, then at Paris, boast of charms which defied the progress
of time,--for Mrs. Silverkoop was as red as a boiled lobster, and as
unwieldy as a porpoise; and although her mental attractions did by
no means make up for her personal deficiencies,--for she was
jealous, violent, vulgar, drunken, and stingy to a miracle: yet her
charms had an immediate effect on Monsieur de Galgenstein; and
hence, perhaps, the reader (the rogue! how well he knows the world!)
will be led to conclude that the honest widow was RICH.
Such, indeed, she was; and Count Gustavus, despising the difference
between his twenty quarterings and her twenty thousand pounds, laid
the most desperate siege to her, and finished by causing her to
capitulate; as I do believe, after a reasonable degree of pressing,
any woman will do to any man: such, at least, has been MY
experience in the matter.
The Count then married; and it was curious to see how he--who, as we
have seen in the case of Mrs. Cat, had been as great a tiger and
domestic bully as any extant--now, by degrees, fell into a quiet
submission towards his enormous Countess; who ordered him up and
down as a lady orders her footman, who permitted him speedily not to
have a will of his own, and who did not allow him a shilling of her
money without receiving for the same an accurate account.
How was it that he, the abject slave of Madam Silverkoop, had been
victorious over Mrs. Cat? The first blow is, I believe, the
decisive one in these cases, and the Countess had stricken it a week
after their marriage;--establishing a supremacy which the Count
never afterwards attempted to question.
We have alluded to his Excellency's marriage, as in duty bound,
because it will be necessary to account for his appearance hereafter
in a more splendid fashion than that under which he has hitherto
been known to us; and just comforting the reader by the knowledge
that the union, though prosperous in a worldly point of view, was,
in reality, extremely unhappy, we must say no more from this time
forth of the fat and legitimate Madam de Galgenstein. Our darling
is Mrs. Catherine, who had formerly acted in her stead; and only in
so much as the fat Countess did influence in any way the destinies
of our heroine, or those wise and virtuous persons who have appeared
and are to follow her to her end, shall we in any degree allow her
name to figure here. It is an awful thing to get a glimpse, as one
sometimes does, when the time is past, of some little little wheel
which works the whole mighty machinery of FATE, and see how our
destinies turn on a minute's delay or advance, or on the turning of
a street, or on somebody else's turning of a street, or on somebody
else's doing of something else in Downing Street or in Timbuctoo,
now or a thousand years ago. Thus, for instance, if Miss Poots, in
the year 1695, had never been the lovely inmate of a Spielhaus at
Amsterdam, Mr. Van Silverkoop would never have seen her; if the day
had not been extraordinarily hot, the worthy merchant would never
have gone thither; if he had not been fond of Rhenish wine and
sugar, he never would have called for any such delicacies; if he had
not called for them, Miss Ottilia Poots would never have brought
them, and partaken of them; if he had not been rich, she would
certainly have rejected all the advances made to her by Silverkoop;
if he had not been so fond of Rhenish and sugar, he never would have
died; and Mrs. Silverkoop would have been neither rich nor a widow,
nor a wife to Count von Galgenstein. Nay, nor would this history
have ever been written; for if Count Galgenstein had not married the
rich widow, Mrs. Catherine would never have--
Oh, my dear madam! you thought we were going to tell you. Pooh!
nonsense!--no such thing! not for two or three and seventy pages or
so,--when, perhaps, you MAY know what Mrs. Catherine never would
The reader will remember, in the second chapter of these Memoirs,
the announcement that Mrs. Catherine had given to the world a child,
who might bear, if he chose, the arms of Galgenstein, with the
further adornment of a bar-sinister. This child had been put out to
nurse some time before its mother's elopement from the Count; and as
that nobleman was in funds at the time (having had that success at
play which we duly chronicled), he paid a sum of no less than twenty
guineas, which was to be the yearly reward of the nurse into whose
charge the boy was put. The woman grew fond of the brat; and when,
after the first year, she had no further news or remittances from
father or mother, she determined, for a while at least, to maintain
the infant at her own expense; for, when rebuked by her neighbours
on this score, she stoutly swore that no parents could ever desert
their children, and that some day or other she should not fail to be
rewarded for her trouble with this one.
Under this strange mental hallucination poor Goody Billings, who had
five children and a husband of her own, continued to give food and
shelter to little Tom for a period of no less than seven years; and
though it must be acknowledged that the young gentleman did not in
the slightest degree merit the kindnesses shown to him, Goody
Billings, who was of a very soft and pitiful disposition, continued
to bestow them upon him: because, she said, he was lonely and
unprotected, and deserved them more than other children who had
fathers and mothers to look after them. If, then, any difference
was made between Tom's treatment and that of her own brood, it was
considerably in favour of the former; to whom the largest
proportions of treacle were allotted for his bread, and the
handsomest supplies of hasty pudding. Besides, to do Mrs. Billings
justice, there WAS a party against him; and that consisted not only
of her husband and her five children, but of every single person in
the neighbourhood who had an opportunity of seeing and becoming
acquainted with Master Tom.
A celebrated philosopher--I think Miss Edgeworth--has broached the
consolatory doctrine, that in intellect and disposition all human
beings are entirely equal, and that circumstance and education are
the causes of the distinctions and divisions which afterwards
unhappily take place among them. Not to argue this question, which
places Jack Howard and Jack Thurtell on an exact level,--which would
have us to believe that Lord Melbourne is by natural gifts and
excellences a man as honest, brave, and far-sighted as the Duke of
Wellington,--which would make out that Lord Lyndhurst is, in point
of principle, eloquence, and political honesty, no better than Mr.
O'Connell,--not, I say, arguing this doctrine, let us simply state
that Master Thomas Billings (for, having no other, he took the name
of the worthy people who adopted him) was in his long-coats
fearfully passionate, screaming and roaring perpetually, and showing
all the ill that he COULD show. At the age of two, when his
strength enabled him to toddle abroad, his favourite resort was the
coal-hole or the dung-heap: his roarings had not diminished in the
least, and he had added to his former virtues two new ones,--a love
of fighting and stealing; both which amiable qualities he had many
opportunities of exercising every day. He fought his little
adoptive brothers and sisters; he kicked and cuffed his father and
mother; he fought the cat, stamped upon the kittens, was worsted in
a severe battle with the hen in the backyard; but, in revenge,
nearly beat a little sucking-pig to death, whom he caught alone and
rambling near his favourite haunt, the dung-hill. As for stealing,
he stole the eggs, which he perforated and emptied; the butter,
which he ate with or without bread, as he could find it; the sugar,
which he cunningly secreted in the leaves of a "Baker's Chronicle,"
that nobody in the establishment could read; and thus from the pages
of history he used to suck in all he knew--thieving and lying
namely; in which, for his years, he made wonderful progress. If any
followers of Miss Edgeworth and the philosophers are inclined to
disbelieve this statement, or to set it down as overcharged and
distorted, let them be assured that just this very picture was, of
all the pictures in the world, taken from nature. I, Ikey Solomons,
once had a dear little brother who could steal before he could walk
(and this not from encouragement,--for, if you know the world, you
must know that in families of our profession the point of honour is
sacred at home,--but from pure nature)--who could steal, I say,
before he could walk, and lie before he could speak; and who, at
four and a half years of age, having attacked my sister Rebecca on
some question of lollipops, had smitten her on the elbow with a
fire-shovel, apologising to us by saying simply, "---- her, I wish
it had been her head!" Dear, dear Aminadab! I think of you, and
laugh these philosophers to scorn. Nature made you for that career
which you fulfilled: you were from your birth to your dying a
scoundrel; you COULDN'T have been anything else, however your lot
was cast; and blessed it was that you were born among the prigs,-
-for had you been of any other profession, alas! alas! what ills
might you have done! As I have heard the author of "Richelieu,"
"Siamese Twins," etc. say "Poeta nascitur non fit," which means that
though he had tried ever so much to be a poet, it was all moonshine:
in the like manner, I say, "ROAGUS nascitur, non fit." We have it
from nature, and so a fig for Miss Edgeworth.
In this manner, then, while his father, blessed with a wealthy wife,
was leading, in a fine house, the life of a galley-slave; while his
mother, married to Mr. Hayes, and made an honest women of, as the
saying is, was passing her time respectably in Warwickshire, Mr.
Thomas Billings was inhabiting the same county, not cared for by
either of them; but ordained by Fate to join them one day, and have
a mighty influence upon the fortunes of both. For, as it has often
happened to the traveller in the York or the Exeter coach to fall
snugly asleep in his corner, and on awaking suddenly to find himself
sixty or seventy miles from the place where Somnus first visited
him: as, we say, although you sit still, Time, poor wretch, keeps
perpetually running on, and so must run day and night, with never a
pause or a halt of five minutes to get a drink, until his dying day;
let the reader imagine that since he left Mrs. Hayes and all the
other worthy personages of this history, in the last chapter, seven
years have sped away; during which, all our heroes and heroines have
been accomplishing their destinies.
Seven years of country carpentering, or rather trading, on the part
of a husband, of ceaseless scolding, violence, and discontent on the
part of a wife, are not pleasant to describe: so we shall omit
altogether any account of the early married life of Mr. and Mrs.
John Hayes. The "Newgate Calendar" (to which excellent compilation
we and the OTHER popular novelists of the day can never be
sufficiently grateful) states that Hayes left his house three or
four times during this period, and, urged by the restless humours of
his wife, tried several professions: returning, however, as he grew
weary of each, to his wife and his paternal home. After a certain
time his parents died, and by their demise he succeeded to a small
property, and the carpentering business, which he for some time
What, then, in the meanwhile, had become of Captain Wood, or Brock,
and Ensign Macshane?--the only persons now to be accounted for in
our catalogue. For about six months after their capture and release
of Mr. Hayes, those noble gentlemen had followed, with much prudence
and success, that trade which the celebrated and polite Duval, the
ingenious Sheppard, the dauntless Turpin, and indeed many other
heroes of our most popular novels, had pursued,--or were pursuing,
in their time. And so considerable were said to be Captain Wood's
gains, that reports were abroad of his having somewhere a buried
treasure; to which he might have added more, had not Fate suddenly
cut short his career as a prig. He and the Ensign were--shame to
say--transported for stealing three pewter-pots off a railing at
Exeter; and not being known in the town, which they had only reached
that morning, they were detained by no further charges, but simply
condemned on this one. For this misdemeanour, Her Majesty's
Government vindictively sent them for seven years beyond the sea;
and, as the fashion then was, sold the use of their bodies to
Virginian planters during that space of time. It is thus, alas!
that the strong are always used to deal with the weak, and many an
honest fellow has been led to rue his unfortunate difference with
Thus, then, we have settled all scores. The Count is in Holland
with his wife; Mrs. Cat in Warwickshire along with her excellent
husband; Master Thomas Billings with his adoptive parents in the
same county; and the two military gentlemen watching the progress
and cultivation of the tobacco and cotton plant in the New World.
All these things having passed between the acts,
dingaring-a-dingaring-a-dingledingleding, the drop draws up, and the
next act begins. By the way, the play ENDS with a drop: but that
is neither here nor there.
* * *
(Here, as in a theatre, the orchestra is supposed to play something
melodious. The people get up, shake themselves, yawn, and settle
down in their seats again. "Porter, ale, ginger-beer, cider," comes