Part 3 out of 4
round, squeezing through the legs of the gentlemen in the pit.
Nobody takes anything, as usual; and lo! the curtain rises again.
"Sh, 'shsh, 'shshshhh! Hats off!" says everybody.)
* * *
Mrs. Hayes had now been for six years the adored wife of Mr. Hayes,
and no offspring had arisen to bless their loves and perpetuate
their name. She had obtained a complete mastery over her lord and
master; and having had, as far as was in that gentleman's power,
every single wish gratified that she could demand, in the way of
dress, treats to Coventry and Birmingham, drink, and what not--for,
though a hard man, John Hayes had learned to spend his money pretty
freely on himself and her--having had all her wishes gratified, it
was natural that she should begin to find out some more; and the
next whim she hit upon was to be restored to her child. It may be
as well to state that she had never informed her husband of the
existence of that phenomenon, although he was aware of his wife's
former connection with the Count,--Mrs. Hayes, in their matrimonial
quarrels, invariably taunting him with accounts of her former
splendour and happiness, and with his own meanness of taste in
condescending to take up with his Excellency's leavings.
She determined, then (but as yet had not confided her determination
to her husband), she would have her boy; although in her seven
years' residence within twenty miles of him she had never once
thought of seeing him: and the kind reader knows that when his
excellent lady determines on a thing--a shawl, or an opera-box, or a
new carriage, or twenty-four singing-lessons from Tamburini, or a
night at the "Eagle Tavern," City Road, or a ride in a 'bus to
Richmond and tea and brandy-and-water at "Rose Cottage Hotel"--the
reader, high or low, knows that when Mrs. Reader desires a thing
have it she will; you may just as well talk of avoiding her as of
avoiding gout, bills, or grey hairs--and that, you know, is
impossible. I, for my part, have had all three--ay, and a wife too.
I say that when a woman is resolved on a thing, happen it will; if
husbands refuse, Fate will interfere (flectere si nequeo, etc.; but
quotations are odious). And some hidden power was working in the
case of Mrs. Hayes, and, for its own awful purposes, lending her its
Who has not felt how he works--the dreadful conquering Spirit of
Ill? Who cannot see, in the circle of his own society, the fated
and foredoomed to woe and evil? Some call the doctrine of destiny a
dark creed; but, for me, I would fain try and think it a consolatory
one. It is better, with all one's sins upon one's head, to deem
oneself in the hands of Fate, than to think--with our fierce
passions and weak repentances; with our resolves so loud, so vain,
so ludicrously, despicably weak and frail; with our dim, wavering,
wretched conceits about virtue, and our irresistible propensity to
wrong,--that we are the workers of our future sorrow or happiness.
If we depend on our strength, what is it against mighty
circumstance? If we look to ourselves, what hope have we? Look
back at the whole of your life, and see how Fate has mastered you
and it. Think of your disappointments and your successes. Has YOUR
striving influenced one or the other? A fit of indigestion puts
itself between you and honours and reputation; an apple plops on
your nose and makes you a world's wonder and glory; a fit of poverty
makes a rascal of you, who were, and are still, an honest man;
clubs, trumps, or six lucky mains at dice, make an honest man for
life of you, who ever were, will be, and are a rascal. Who sends
the illness? who causes the apple to fall? who deprives you of your
worldly goods? or who shuffles the cards, and brings trumps, honour,
virtue, and prosperity back again? You call it chance; ay, and so
it is chance that when the floor gives way, and the rope stretches
tight, the poor wretch before St. Sepulchre's clock dies. Only with
us, clear-sighted mortals as we are, we can't SEE the rope by which
we hang, and know not when or how the drop may fall.
But revenons a nos moutons: let us return to that sweet lamb Master
Thomas, and the milk-white ewe Mrs. Cat. Seven years had passed
away, and she began to think that she should very much like to see
her child once more. It was written that she should; and you shall
hear how, soon after, without any great exertions of hers, back he
came to her.
In the month of July, in the year 1715, there came down a road about
ten miles from the city of Worcester, two gentlemen; not mounted,
Templar-like, upon one horse, but having a horse between them--a
sorry bay, with a sorry saddle, and a large pack behind it; on which
each by turn took a ride. Of the two, one was a man of excessive
stature, with red hair, a very prominent nose, and a faded military
dress; while the other, an old weather-beaten, sober-looking
personage, wore the costume of a civilian--both man and dress
appearing to have reached the autumnal, or seedy state. However,
the pair seemed, in spite of their apparent poverty, to be passably
merry. The old gentleman rode the horse; and had, in the course of
their journey, ridden him two miles at least in every three. The
tall one walked with immense strides by his side; and seemed,
indeed, as if he could have quickly outstripped the four-footed
animal, had he chosen to exert his speed, or had not affection for
his comrade retained him at his stirrup.
A short time previously the horse had cast a shoe; and this the tall
man on foot had gathered up, and was holding in his hand: it having
been voted that the first blacksmith to whose shop they should come
should be called upon to fit it again upon the bay horse.
"Do you remimber this counthry, Meejor?" said the tall man, who was
looking about him very much pleased, and sucking a flower. "I think
thim green cornfields is prettier looking at than the d----- tobacky
out yondther, and bad lack to it!"
"I recollect the place right well, and some queer pranks we played
here seven years agone," responded the gentleman addressed as Major.
"You remember that man and his wife, whom we took in pawn at the
"And the landlady only hung last Michaelmas?" said the tall man,
"Hang the landlady!--we've got all we ever would out of HER, you
know. But about the man and woman. You went after the chap's
mother, and, like a jackass, as you are, let him loose. Well, the
woman was that Catherine that you've often heard me talk about. I
like the wench, ---- her, for I almost brought her up; and she was
for a year or two along with that scoundrel Galgenstein, who has
been the cause of my ruin."
"The inferrnal blackguard and ruffian!" said the tall man; who, with
his companion, has no doubt been recognised by the reader.
"Well, this Catherine had a child by Galgenstein; and somewhere here
hard by the woman lived to whom we carried the brat to nurse. She
was the wife of a blacksmith, one Billings: it won't be out of the
way to get our horse shod at his house, if he is alive still, and we
may learn something about the little beast. I should be glad to see
the mother well enough."
"Do I remimber her?" said the Ensign. "Do I remimber whisky? Sure
I do, and the snivelling sneak her husband, and the stout old lady
her mother-in-law, and the dirty one-eyed ruffian who sold me the
parson's hat that had so nearly brought me into trouble. Oh but it
was a rare rise we got out of them chaps, and the old landlady
that's hanged too!" And here both Ensign Macshane and Major Brock,
or Wood, grinned, and showed much satisfaction.
It will be necessary to explain the reason of it. We gave the
British public to understand that the landlady of the "Three Rooks,"
at Worcester, was a notorious fence, or banker of thieves; that is,
a purchaser of their merchandise. In her hands Mr. Brock and his
companion had left property to the amount of sixty or seventy
pounds, which was secreted in a cunning recess in a chamber of the
"Three Rooks" known only to the landlady and the gentlemen who
banked with her; and in this place, Mr. Sicklop, the one-eyed man
who had joined in the Hayes adventure, his comrade, and one or two
of the topping prigs of the county, were free. Mr. Sicklop had been
shot dead in a night attack near Bath: the landlady had been
suddenly hanged, as an accomplice in another case of robbery; and
when, on their return from Virginia, our two heroes, whose hopes of
livelihood depended upon it, had bent their steps towards Worcester,
they were not a little frightened to hear of the cruel fate of the
hostess and many of the amiable frequenters of the "Three Rooks."
All the goodly company were separated; the house was no longer an
inn. Was the money gone too? At least it was worth while to look--
which Messrs. Brock and Macshane determined to do.
The house being now a private one, Mr. Brock, with a genius that was
above his station, visited its owner, with a huge portfolio under
his arm, and, in the character of a painter, requested permission to
take a particular sketch from a particular window. The Ensign
followed with the artist's materials (consisting simply of a
screwdriver and a crowbar); and it is hardly necessary to say that,
when admission was granted to them, they opened the well-known door,
and to their inexpressible satisfaction discovered, not their own
peculiar savings exactly, for these had been appropriated instantly,
on hearing of their transportation, but stores of money and goods to
the amount of near three hundred pounds: to which Mr. Macshane said
they had as just and honourable a right as anybody else. And so
they had as just a right as anybody--except the original owners:
but who was to discover them?
With this booty they set out on their journey--anywhere, for they
knew not whither; and it so chanced that when their horse's shoe
came off, they were within a few furlongs of the cottage of Mr.
Billings, the blacksmith. As they came near, they were saluted by
tremendous roars issuing from the smithy. A small boy was held
across the bellows, two or three children of smaller and larger
growth were holding him down, and many others of the village were
gazing in at the window, while a man, half-naked, was lashing the
little boy with a whip, and occasioning the cries heard by the
travellers. As the horse drew up, the operator looked at the new-
comers for a moment, and then proceeded incontinently with his work;
belabouring the child more fiercely than ever.
When he had done, he turned round to the new-comers and asked how he
could serve them? whereupon Mr. Wood (for such was the name he
adopted, and by such we shall call him to the end) wittily remarked
that however he might wish to serve THEM, he seemed mightily
inclined to serve that young gentleman first.
"It's no joking matter," said the blacksmith: "if I don't serve him
so now, he'll be worse off in his old age. He'll come to the
gallows, as sure as his name is Bill---never mind what his name is."
And so saying, he gave the urchin another cut; which elicited, of
course, another scream.
"Oh! his name is Bill?" said Captain Wood.
"His name's NOT Bill!" said the blacksmith, sulkily. "He's no name;
and no heart, neither. My wife took the brat in, seven years ago,
from a beggarly French chap to nurse, and she kept him, for she was
a good soul" (here his eyes began to wink), "and she's--she's gone
now" (here he began fairly to blubber). "And d--- him, out of love
for her, I kept him too, and the scoundrel is a liar and a thief.
This blessed day, merely to vex me and my boys here, he spoke ill of
her, he did, and I'll--cut--his--life--out--I--will!" and with each
word honest Mulciber applied a whack on the body of little Tom
Billings; who, by shrill shrieks, and oaths in treble, acknowledged
the receipt of the blows.
"Come, come," said Mr. Wood, "set the boy down, and the bellows
a-going; my horse wants shoeing, and the poor lad has had strapping
The blacksmith obeyed, and cast poor Master Thomas loose. As he
staggered away and looked back at his tormentor, his countenance
assumed an expression which made Mr. Wood say, grasping hold of
Macshane's arm, "It's the boy, it's the boy! When his mother gave
Galgenstein the laudanum, she had the self-same look with her!"
"Had she really now?" said Mr. Macshane. "And pree, Meejor, who WAS
"Mrs. Cat, you fool!" answered Wood.
"Then, upon my secred word of honour, she has a mighty fine KITTEN
anyhow, my dear. Aha!"
"They don't DROWN such kittens," said Mr. Wood, archly; and
Macshane, taking the allusion, clapped his finger to his nose in
token of perfect approbation of his commander's sentiment.
While the blacksmith was shoeing the horse, Mr. Wood asked him many
questions concerning the lad whom he had just been chastising, and
succeeded, beyond a doubt, in establishing his identity with the
child whom Catherine Hall had brought into the world seven years
since. Billings told him of all the virtues of his wife, and the
manifold crimes of the lad: how he stole, and fought, and lied, and
swore; and though the youngest under his roof, exercised the most
baneful influence over all the rest of his family. He was
determined at last, he said, to put him to the parish, for he did
not dare to keep him.
"He's a fine whelp, and would fetch ten pieces in Virginny," sighed
"Crimp, of Bristol, would give five for him," said Mr. Wood,
"Why not take him?" said the Ensign.
"Faith, why not?" said Mr. Wood. "His keep, meanwhile, will not be
sixpence a day." Then turning round to the blacksmith, "Mr.
Billings," said he, "you will be surprised, perhaps, to hear that I
know everything regarding that poor lad's history. His mother was
an unfortunate lady of high family, now no more; his father a German
nobleman, Count de Galgenstein by name."
"The very man!" said Billings: "a young, fair-haired man, who came
here with the child, and a dragoon sergeant."
"Count de Galgenstein by name, who, on the point of death,
recommended the infant to me."
"And did he pay you seven years' boarding?" said Mr. Billings, who
was quite alive at the very idea.
"Alas, sir, not a jot! He died, sir, six hundred pounds in my debt;
didn't he, Ensign?"
"Six hundred, upon my secred honour! I remember when he got into
the house along with the poli--"
"Psha! what matters it?" here broke out Mr. Wood, looking fiercely
at the Ensign. "Six hundred pounds he owes me: how was he to pay
you? But he told me to take charge of this boy, if I found him; and
found him I have, and WILL take charge of him, if you will hand him
"Send our Tom!" cried Billings. And when that youth appeared,
scowling, and yet trembling, and prepared, as it seemed, for another
castigation, his father, to his surprise, asked him if he was
willing to go along with those gentlemen, or whether he would be a
good lad and stay with him.
Mr. Tom replied immediately, "I won't be a good lad, and I'd rather
go to ---- than stay with you!"
"Will you leave your brothers and sisters?" said Billings, looking
"Hang my brothers and sisters--I hate 'em; and, besides, I haven't
"But you had a good mother, hadn't you, Tom?"
Tom paused for a moment.
"Mother's gone," said he, "and you flog me, and I'll go with these
"Well, then, go thy ways," said Billings, starting up in a passion:
"go thy ways for a graceless reprobate; and if this gentleman will
take you, he may do so."
After some further parley, the conversation ended, and the next
morning Mr. Wood's party consisted of three: a little boy being
mounted upon the bay horse, in addition to the Ensign or himself;
and the whole company went journeying towards Bristol.
* * *
We have said that Mrs. Hayes had, on a sudden, taken a fit of
maternal affection, and was bent upon being restored to her child;
and that benign destiny which watched over the life of this lucky
lady instantly set about gratifying her wish, and, without cost to
herself of coach-hire or saddle-horse, sent the young gentleman very
quickly to her arms. The village in which the Hayeses dwelt was but
a very few miles out of the road from Bristol; whither, on the
benevolent mission above, hinted at, our party of worthies were
bound: and coming, towards the afternoon, in sight of the house of
that very Justice Ballance who had been so nearly the ruin of Ensign
Macshane, that officer narrated, for the hundredth time, and with
much glee, the circumstances which had then befallen him, and the
manner in which Mrs. Hayes the elder had come forward to his rescue.
"Suppose we go and see the old girl?" suggested Mr. Wood. "No harm
can come to us now." And his comrade always assenting, they wound
their way towards the village, and reached it as the evening came
on. In the public-house where they rested, Wood made inquiries
concerning the Hayes family; was informed of the death of the old
couple, of the establishment of John Hayes and his wife in their
place, and of the kind of life that these latter led together. When
all these points had been imparted to him, he ruminated much: an
expression of sublime triumph and exultation at length lighted up
his features. "I think, Tim," said he at last, "that we can make
more than five pieces of that boy."
"Oh, in coorse!" said Timothy Macshane, Esquire; who always agreed
with his "Meejor."
"In coorse, you fool! and how? I'll tell you how. This Hayes is
well to do in the world, and--"
"And we'll nab him again--ha, ha!" roared out Macshane. "By my
secred honour, Meejor, there never was a gineral like you at a
"Peace, you bellowing donkey, and don't wake the child. The man is
well to do, his wife rules him, and they have no children. Now,
either she will be very glad to have the boy back again, and pay for
the finding of him, or else she has said nothing about him, and will
pay us for being silent too: or, at any rate, Hayes himself will be
ashamed at finding his wife the mother of a child a year older than
his marriage, and will pay for the keeping of the brat away.
There's profit, my dear, in any one of the cases, or my name's not
When the Ensign understood this wondrous argument, he would fain
have fallen on his knees and worshipped his friend and guide. They
began operations, almost immediately, by an attack on Mrs. Hayes.
On hearing, as she did in private interview with the ex-corporal the
next morning, that her son was found, she was agitated by both of
the passions which Wood attributed to her. She longed to have the
boy back, and would give any reasonable sum to see him; but she
dreaded exposure, and would pay equally to avoid that. How could
she gain the one point and escape the other?
Mrs. Hayes hit upon an expedient which, I am given to understand, is
not uncommon nowadays. She suddenly discovered that she had a dear
brother, who had been obliged to fly the country in consequence of
having joined the Pretender, and had died in France, leaving behind
him an only son. This boy her brother had, with his last breath,
recommended to her protection, and had confided him to the charge of
a brother officer who was now in the country, and would speedily
make his appearance; and, to put the story beyond a doubt, Mr. Wood
wrote the letter from her brother stating all these particulars, and
Ensign Macshane received full instructions how to perform the part
of the "brother officer." What consideration Mr. Wood received for
his services, we cannot say; only it is well known that Mr. Hayes
caused to be committed to gaol a young apprentice in his service,
charged with having broken open a cupboard in which Mr. Hayes had
forty guineas in gold and silver, and to which none but he and his
wife had access.
Having made these arrangements, the Corporal and his little party
decamped to a short distance, and Mrs. Catherine was left to prepare
her husband for a speedy addition to his family, in the shape of
this darling nephew. John Hayes received the news with anything but
pleasure. He had never heard of any brother of Catherine's; she had
been bred at the workhouse, and nobody ever hinted that she had
relatives: but it is easy for a lady of moderate genius to invent
circumstances; and with lies, tears, threats, coaxings, oaths, and
other blandishments, she compelled him to submit.
Two days afterwards, as Mr. Hayes was working in his shop with his
lady seated beside him, the trampling of a horse was heard in his
courtyard, and a gentleman, of huge stature, descended from it, and
strode into the shop. His figure was wrapped in a large cloak; but
Mr. Hayes could not help fancying that he had somewhere seen his
"This, I preshoom," said the gentleman, "is Misther Hayes, that I
have come so many miles to see, and this is his amiable lady? I was
the most intimate frind, madam, of your laminted brother, who died
in King Lewis's service, and whose last touching letthers I
despatched to you two days ago. I have with me a further precious
token of my dear friend, Captain Hall--it is HERE."
And so saying, the military gentleman, with one arm, removed his
cloak, and stretching forward the other into Hayes's face almost,
stretched likewise forward a little boy, grinning and sprawling in
the air, and prevented only from falling to the ground by the hold
which the Ensign kept of the waistband of his little coat and
"Isn't he a pretty boy?" said Mrs. Hayes, sidling up to her husband
tenderly, and pressing one of Mr. Hayes's hands.
* * *
About the lad's beauty it is needless to say what the carpenter
thought; but that night, and for many many nights after, the lad
stayed at Mr. Hayes's.
CHAPTER VIII. ENUMERATES THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF MASTER THOMAS
BILLINGS--INTRODUCES BROCK AS DOCTOR WOOD--AND ANNOUNCES THE
EXECUTION OF ENSIGN MACSHANE.
We are obliged, in recording this history, to follow accurately that
great authority, the "Calendarium Newgaticum Roagorumque
Registerium," of which every lover of literature, in the present day
knows the value; and as that remarkable work totally discards all
the unities in its narratives, and reckons the life of its heroes
only by their actions, and not by periods of time, we must follow in
the wake of this mighty ark--a humble cock-boat. When it pauses, we
pause; when it runs ten knots an hour, we run with the same
celerity; and as, in order to carry the reader from the penultimate
chapter of this work unto the last chapter, we were compelled to
make him leap over a gap of seven blank years, ten years more must
likewise be granted to us before we are at liberty to resume our
During that period, Master Thomas Billings had been under the
especial care of his mother; and, as may be imagined, he rather
increased than diminished the accomplishments for which he had been
remarkable while under the roof of his foster-father. And with this
advantage, that while at the blacksmith's, and only three or four
years of age, his virtues were necessarily appreciated only in his
family circle and among those few acquaintances of his own time of
life whom a youth of three can be expected to meet in the alleys or
over the gutters of a small country hamlet,--in his mothers
residence, his circle extended with his own growth, and he began to
give proofs of those powers of which in infancy there had been only
encouraging indications. Thus it was nowise remarkable that a child
of four years should not know his letters, and should have had a
great disinclination to learn them; but when a young man of fifteen
showed the same creditable ignorance, the same undeviating dislike,
it was easy to see that he possessed much resolution and
perseverance. When it was remarked, too, that, in case of any
difference, he not only beat the usher, but by no means disdained to
torment and bully the very smallest boys of the school, it was easy
to see that his mind was comprehensive and careful, as well as
courageous and grasping. As it was said of the Duke of Wellington,
in the Peninsula, that he had a thought for everybody--from Lord
Hill to the smallest drummer in the army--in like manner Tom
Billings bestowed HIS attention on high and low; but in the shape of
blows: he would fight the strongest and kick the smallest, and was
always at work with one or the other. At thirteen, when he was
removed from the establishment whither he had been sent, he was the
cock of the school out of doors, and the very last boy in. He used
to let the little boys and new-comers pass him by, and laugh; but he
always belaboured them unmercifully afterwards; and then it was, he
said, HIS turn to laugh. With such a pugnacious turn, Tom Billings
ought to have been made a soldier, and might have died a marshal;
but, by an unlucky ordinance of fate, he was made a tailor, and died
a--never mind what for the present; suffice it to say, that he was
suddenly cut off, at a very early period of his existence, by a
disease which has exercised considerable ravages among the British
By consulting the authority above mentioned, we find that Hayes did
not confine himself to the profession of a carpenter, or remain long
established in the country; but was induced, by the eager spirit of
Mrs. Catherine most probably, to try his fortune in the metropolis;
where he lived, flourished, and died. Oxford Road, Saint Giles's,
and Tottenham Court were, at various periods of his residence in
town, inhabited by him. At one place he carried on the business of
greengrocer and small-coalman; in another, he was carpenter,
undertaker, and lender of money to the poor; finally, he was a
lodging-house keeper in the Oxford or Tyburn Road; but continued to
exercise the last-named charitable profession.
Lending as he did upon pledges, and carrying on a pretty large
trade, it was not for him, of course, to inquire into the pedigree
of all the pieces of plate, the bales of cloth, swords, watches,
wigs, shoe-buckles, etc. that were confided by his friends to his
keeping; but it is clear that his friends had the requisite
confidence in him, and that he enjoyed the esteem of a class of
characters who still live in history, and are admired unto this very
day. The mind loves to think that, perhaps, in Mr. Hayes's back
parlour the gallant Turpin might have hob-and-nobbed with Mrs.
Catherine; that here, perhaps, the noble Sheppard might have cracked
his joke, or quaffed his pint of rum. Who knows but that Macheath
and Paul Clifford may have crossed legs under Hayes's dinner-table?
But why pause to speculate on things that might have been? why
desert reality for fond imagination, or call up from their honoured
graves the sacred dead? I know not: and yet, in sooth, I can never
pass Cumberland Gate without a sigh, as I think of the gallant
cavaliers who traversed that road in old time. Pious priests
accompanied their triumphs; their chariots were surrounded by hosts
of glittering javelin-men. As the slave at the car of the Roman
conqueror shouted, "Remember thou art mortal!", before the eyes of
the British warrior rode the undertaker and his coffin, telling him
that he too must die! Mark well the spot! A hundred years ago
Albion Street (where comic Power dwelt, Milesia's darling son)-
-Albion Street was a desert. The square of Connaught was without
its penultimate, and, strictly speaking, NAUGHT. The Edgware Road
was then a road, 'tis true; with tinkling waggons passing now and
then, and fragrant walls of snowy hawthorn blossoms. The ploughman
whistled over Nutford Place; down the green solitudes of Sovereign
Street the merry milkmaid led the lowing kine. Here, then, in the
midst of green fields and sweet air--before ever omnibuses were, and
when Pineapple Turnpike and Terrace were alike unknown--here stood
Tyburn: and on the road towards it, perhaps to enjoy the prospect,
stood, in the year 1725, the habitation of Mr. John Hayes.
One fine morning in the year 1725, Mrs. Hayes, who had been abroad
in her best hat and riding-hood; Mr. Hayes, who for a wonder had
accompanied her; and Mrs. Springatt, a lodger, who for a
remuneration had the honour of sharing Mrs. Hayes's friendship and
table: all returned, smiling and rosy, at about half-past ten
o'clock, from a walk which they had taken to Bayswater. Many
thousands of people were likewise seen flocking down the Oxford
Road; and you would rather have thought, from the smartness of their
appearance and the pleasure depicted in their countenances, that
they were just issuing from a sermon, than quitting the ceremony
which they had been to attend.
The fact is, that they had just been to see a gentleman hanged,--a
cheap pleasure, which the Hayes family never denied themselves; and
they returned home with a good appetite to breakfast, braced by the
walk, and tickled into hunger, as it were, by the spectacle. I can
recollect, when I was a gyp at Cambridge, that the "men" used to
have breakfast-parties for the very same purpose; and the exhibition
of the morning acted infallibly upon the stomach, and caused the
young students to eat with much voracity.
Well, Mrs. Catherine, a handsome, well-dressed, plump, rosy woman of
three or four and thirty (and when, my dear, is a woman handsomer
than at that age?), came in quite merrily from her walk, and entered
the back-parlour, which looked into a pleasant yard, or garden,
whereon the sun was shining very gaily; and where, at a table
covered with a nice white cloth, laid out with some silver mugs,
too, and knives, all with different crests and patterns, sat an old
gentleman reading in an old book.
"Here we are at last, Doctor," said Mrs. Hayes, "and here's his
speech." She produced the little halfpenny tract, which to this day
is sold at the gallows-foot upon the death of every offender. "I've
seen a many men turned off, to be sure; but I never did see one who
bore it more like a man than he did."
"My dear," said the gentleman addressed as Doctor, "he was as cool
and as brave as steel, and no more minded hanging than
"It was the drink that ruined him," said Mrs. Cat.
"Drink, and bad company. I warned him, my dear,--I warned him years
ago: and directly he got into Wild's gang, I knew that he had not a
year to run. Ah, why, my love, will men continue such dangerous
courses," continued the Doctor, with a sigh, "and jeopardy their
lives for a miserable watch or a snuff-box, of which Mr. Wild takes
three-fourths of the produce? But here comes the breakfast; and,
egad, I am as hungry as a lad of twenty."
Indeed, at this moment Mrs. Hayes's servant appeared with a smoking
dish of bacon and greens; and Mr. Hayes himself ascended from the
cellar (of which he kept the key), bearing with him a tolerably
large jug of small-beer. To this repast the Doctor, Mrs. Springatt
(the other lodger), and Mr. and Mrs. Hayes, proceeded with great
alacrity. A fifth cover was laid, but not used; the company
remarking that "Tom had very likely found some acquaintances at
Tyburn, with whom he might choose to pass the morning."
Tom was Master Thomas Billings, now of the age of sixteen: slim,
smart, five feet ten inches in height, handsome, sallow in
complexion, black-eyed and black-haired. Mr. Billings was
apprentice to a tailor, of tolerable practice, who was to take him
into partnership at the end of his term. It was supposed, and with
reason, that Tom would not fail to make a fortune in this business;
of which the present head was one Beinkleider, a German.
Beinkleider was skilful in his trade (after the manner of his
nation, which in breeches and metaphysics--in inexpressibles and
incomprehensibles--may instruct all Europe), but too fond of his
pleasure. Some promissory notes of his had found their way into
Hayes's hands, and had given him the means not only of providing
Master Billings with a cheap apprenticeship, and a cheap partnership
afterwards; but would empower him, in one or two years after the
young partner had joined the firm, to eject the old one altogether.
So that there was every prospect that, when Mr. Billings was
twenty-one years of age, poor Beinkleider would have to act, not as
his master, but his journeyman.
Tom was a very precocious youth; was supplied by a doting mother
with plenty of pocket-money, and spent it with a number of lively
companions of both sexes, at plays, bull-baitings, fairs, jolly
parties on the river, and such-like innocent amusements. He could
throw a main, too, as well as his elders; had pinked his man, in a
row at Madam King's in the Piazza; and was much respected at the
Mr. Hayes was not very fond of this promising young gentleman;
indeed, he had the baseness to bear malice, because, in a quarrel
which occurred about two years previously, he, Hayes, being desirous
to chastise Mr. Billings, had found himself not only quite
incompetent, but actually at the mercy of the boy; who struck him
over the head with a joint-stool, felled him to the ground, and
swore he would have his life. The Doctor, who was then also a
lodger at Mr. Hayes's, interposed, and restored the combatants, not
to friendship, but to peace. Hayes never afterwards attempted to
lift his hand to the young man, but contented himself with hating
him profoundly. In this sentiment Mr. Billings participated
cordially; and, quite unlike Mr. Hayes, who never dared to show his
dislike, used on every occasion when they met, by actions, looks,
words, sneers, and curses, to let his stepfather know the opinion
which he had of him. Why did not Hayes discard the boy altogether?
Because, if he did so, he was really afraid of his life, and because
he trembled before Mrs. Hayes, his lady, as the leaf trembles before
the tempest in October. His breath was not his own, but hers; his
money, too, had been chiefly of her getting,--for though he was as
stingy and mean as mortal man can be, and so likely to save much, he
had not the genius for GETTING which Mrs. Hayes possessed. She kept
his books (for she had learned to read and write by this time), she
made his bargains, and she directed the operations of the
poor-spirited little capitalist. When bills became due, and debtors
pressed for time, then she brought Hayes's own professional merits
into play. The man was as deaf and cold as a rock; never did poor
tradesmen gain a penny from him; never were the bailiffs delayed one
single minute from their prey. The Beinkleider business, for
instance, showed pretty well the genius of the two. Hayes was for
closing with him at once; but his wife saw the vast profits which
might be drawn out of him, and arranged the apprenticeship and the
partnership before alluded to. The woman heartily scorned and spit
upon her husband, who fawned upon her like a spaniel. She loved
good cheer; she did not want for a certain kind of generosity. The
only feeling that Hayes had for anyone except himself was for his
wife, whom he held in a cowardly awe and attachment: he liked
drink, too, which made him chirping and merry, and accepted
willingly any treats that his acquaintances might offer him; but he
would suffer agonies when his wife brought or ordered from the
cellar a bottle of wine.
And now for the Doctor. He was about seventy years of age. He had
been much abroad; he was of a sober, cheerful aspect; he dressed
handsomely and quietly in a broad hat and cassock; but saw no
company except the few friends whom he met at the coffee-house. He
had an income of about one hundred pounds, which he promised to
leave to young Billings. He was amused with the lad, and fond of
his mother, and had boarded with them for some years past. The
Doctor, in fact, was our old friend Corporal Brock, the Reverend
Doctor Wood now, as he had been Major Wood fifteen years back.
Anyone who has read the former part of this history must have seen
that we have spoken throughout with invariable respect of Mr. Brock;
and that in every circumstance in which he has appeared, he has
acted not only with prudence, but often with genius. The early
obstacle to Mr. Brock's success was want of conduct simply. Drink,
women, play--how many a brave fellow have they ruined!--had pulled
Brock down as often as his merit had carried him up. When a man's
passion for play has brought him to be a scoundrel, it at once
ceases to be hurtful to him in a worldly point of view; he cheats,
and wins. It is only for the idle and luxurious that women retain
their fascinations to a very late period; and Brock's passions had
been whipped out of him in Virginia; where much ill-health,
ill-treatment, hard labour, and hard food, speedily put an end to
them. He forgot there even how to drink; rum or wine made this poor
declining gentleman so ill that he could indulge in them no longer;
and so his three vices were cured.
Had he been ambitious, there is little doubt but that Mr. Brock, on
his return from transportation, might have risen in the world; but
he was old and a philosopher: he did not care about rising. Living
was cheaper in those days, and interest for money higher: when he
had amassed about six hundred pounds, he purchased an annuity of
seventy-two pounds, and gave out--why should he not?--that he had
the capital as well as the interest. After leaving the Hayes family
in the country, he found them again in London: he took up his abode
with them, and was attached to the mother and the son. Do you
suppose that rascals have not affections like other people? hearts,
madam--ay, hearts--and family ties which they cherish? As the
Doctor lived on with this charming family he began to regret that he
had sunk all his money in annuities, and could not, as he repeatedly
vowed he would, leave his savings to his adopted children.
He felt an indescribable pleasure ("suave mari magno," etc.) in
watching the storms and tempests of the Hayes menage. He used to
encourage Mrs. Catherine into anger when, haply, that lady's fits of
calm would last too long; he used to warm up the disputes between
wife and husband, mother and son, and enjoy them beyond expression:
they served him for daily amusement; and he used to laugh until the
tears ran down his venerable cheeks at the accounts which young Tom
continually brought him of his pranks abroad, among watchmen and
constables, at taverns or elsewhere.
When, therefore, as the party were discussing their bacon and
cabbage, before which the Reverend Doctor with much gravity said
grace, Master Tom entered. Doctor Wood, who had before been rather
gloomy, immediately brightened up, and made a place for Billings
between himself and Mrs. Catherine.
"How do, old cock?" said that young gentleman familiarly. "How goes
it, mother?" And so saying, he seized eagerly upon the jug of beer
which Mr. Hayes had drawn, and from which the latter was about to
help himself, and poured down his throat exactly one quart.
"Ah!" said Mr. Billings, drawing breath after a draught which he had
learned accurately to gauge from the habit of drinking out of pewter
measures which held precisely that quantity.--" Ah!" said Mr.
Billings, drawing breath, and wiping his mouth with his sleeves,
"this is very thin stuff, old Squaretoes; but my coppers have been
red-hot since last night, and they wanted a sluicing."
"Should you like some ale, dear?" said Mrs. Hayes, that fond and
"A quart of brandy, Tom?" said Doctor Wood. "Your papa will run
down to the cellar for it in a minute."
"I'll see him hanged first!" cried Mr. Hayes, quite frightened.
"Oh, fie, now, you unnatural father!" said the Doctor.
The very name of father used to put Mr. Hayes in a fury. "I'm not
his father, thank Heaven!" said he.
"No, nor nobody else's," said Tom.
Mr. Hayes only muttered "Base-born brat!"
"His father was a gentleman,--that's more than you ever were!"
screamed Mrs. Hayes. "His father was a man of spirit; no cowardly
sneak of a carpenter, Mr Hayes! Tom has noble blood in his veins,
for all he has a tailor's appearance; and if his mother had had her
right, she would be now in a coach-and-six."
"I wish I could find my father," said Tom; "for I think Polly Briggs
and I would look mighty well in a coach-and-six." Tom fancied that
if his father was a count at the time of his birth, he must be a
prince now; and, indeed, went among his companions by the latter
"Ay, Tom, that you would," cried his mother, looking at him fondly.
"With a sword by my side, and a hat and feather there's never a lord
at St. James's would cut a finer figure."
After a little more of this talk, in which Mrs. Hayes let the
company know her high opinion of her son--who, as usual, took care
to show his extreme contempt for his stepfather--the latter retired
to his occupations; the lodger, Mrs. Springatt, who had never said a
word all this time, retired to her apartment on the second floor;
and, pulling out their pipes and tobacco, the old gentleman and the
young one solaced themselves with half-an-hour's more talk and
smoking; while the thrifty Mrs. Hayes, opposite to them, was busy
with her books.
"What's in the confessions?" said Mr. Billings to Doctor Wood.
"There were six of 'em besides Mac: two for sheep, four
housebreakers; but nothing of consequence, I fancy."
"There's the paper," said Wood, archly. "Read for yourself, Tom."
Mr. Tom looked at the same time very fierce and very foolish; for,
though he could drink, swear, and fight as well as any lad of his
inches in England, reading was not among his accomplishments. "I
tell you what, Doctor," said he, "---- you! have no bantering with
me,--for I'm not the man that will bear it,-- me!" and he threw a
tremendous swaggering look across the table.
"I want you to learn to read, Tommy dear. Look at your mother there
over her books: she keeps them as neat as a scrivener now, and at
twenty she could make never a stroke."
"Your godfather speaks for your good, child; and for me, thou
knowest that I have promised thee a gold-headed cane and periwig on
the first day that thou canst read me a column of the Flying Post."
"Hang the periwig!" said Mr. Tom, testily. "Let my godfather read
the paper himself, if he has a liking for it."
Whereupon the old gentleman put on his spectacles, and glanced over
the sheet of whity-brown paper, which, ornamented with a picture of
a gallows at the top, contained the biographies of the seven unlucky
individuals who had that morning suffered the penalty of the law.
With the six heroes who came first in the list we have nothing to
do; but have before us a copy of the paper containing the life of
No. 7, and which the Doctor read in an audible voice.
"The seventh victim to his own crimes was the famous highwayman,
Captain Macshane, so well known as the Irish Fire-eater.
"The Captain came to the ground in a fine white lawn shirt and
nightcap; and, being a Papist in his religion, was attended by
Father O'Flaherty, Popish priest, and chaplain to the Bavarian
"Captain Macshane was born of respectable parents, in the town of
Clonakilty, in Ireland, being descended from most of the kings in
that country. He had the honour of serving their Majesties King
William and Queen Mary, and Her Majesty Queen Anne, in Flanders and
Spain, and obtained much credit from my Lords Marlborough and
Peterborough for his valour.
"But being placed on half-pay at the end of the war, Ensign Macshane
took to evil courses; and, frequenting the bagnios and dice-houses,
was speedily brought to ruin.
"Being at this pass, he fell in with the notorious Captain Wood, and
they two together committed many atrocious robberies in the inland
counties; but these being too hot to hold them, they went into the
west, where they were unknown. Here, however, the day of
retribution arrived; for, having stolen three pewter-pots from a
public-house, they, under false names, were tried at Exeter, and
transported for seven years beyond the sea. Thus it is seen that
Justice never sleeps; but, sooner or latter, is sure to overtake the
"On their return from Virginia, a quarrel about booty arose between
these two, and Macshane killed Wood in a combat that took place
between them near to the town of Bristol; but a waggon coming up,
Macshane was obliged to fly without the ill-gotten wealth: so true
is it, that wickedness never prospers.
"Two days afterwards, Macshane met the coach of Miss Macraw, a
Scotch lady and heiress, going, for lumbago and gout, to the Bath.
He at first would have robbed this lady; but such were his arts,
that he induced her to marry him; and they lived together for seven
years in the town of Eddenboro, in Scotland,--he passing under the
name of Colonel Geraldine. The lady dying, and Macshane having
expended all her wealth, he was obliged to resume his former evil
courses, in order to save himself from starvation; whereupon he
robbed a Scotch lord, by name the Lord of Whistlebinkie, of a mull
of snuff; for which crime he was condemned to the Tolbooth prison at
Eddenboro, in Scotland, and whipped many times in publick.
"These deserved punishments did not at all alter Captain Macshane's
disposition; and on the 17th of February last, he stopped the
Bavarian Envoy's coach on Blackheath, coming from Dover, and robbed
his Excellency and his chaplain; taking from the former his money,
watches, star, a fur-cloak, his sword (a very valuable one); and
from the latter a Romish missal, out of which he was then reading,
and a case-bottle."
"The Bavarian Envoy!" said Tom parenthetically. "My master,
Beinkleider, was his Lordship's regimental tailor in Germany, and is
now making a Court suit for him. It will be a matter of a hundred
pounds to him, I warrant."
Doctor Wood resumed his reading. "Hum--hum! A Romish missal, out of
which he was reading, and a case-bottle.
"By means of the famous Mr. Wild, this notorious criminal was
brought to justice, and the case-bottle and missal have been
restored to Father O'Flaherty.
"During his confinement in Newgate, Mr. Macshane could not be
brought to express any contrition for his crimes, except that of
having killed his commanding officer. For this Wood he pretended an
excessive sorrow, and vowed that usquebaugh had been the cause of
his death,--indeed, in prison he partook of no other liquor, and
drunk a bottle of it on the day before his death.
"He was visited by several of the clergy and gentry in his cell;
among others, by the Popish priest whom he had robbed, Father
O'FIaherty, before mentioned, who attended him likewise in his last
moments (if that idolatrous worship may be called attention), and
likewise by the Father's patron, the Bavarian Ambassador, his
Excellency Count Maximilian de Galgenstein."
As old Wood came to these words, he paused to give them utterance.
"What! Max?" screamed Mrs. Hayes, letting her ink-bottle fall over
"Why, be hanged if it ben't my father!" said Mr. Billings.
"Your father, sure enough, unless there be others of his name, and
unless the scoundrel is hanged," said the Doctor--sinking his voice,
however, at the end of the sentence.
Mr. Billings broke his pipe in an agony of joy. "I think we'll have
the coach now, Mother," says he; "and I'm blessed if Polly Briggs
shall not look as fine as a duchess."
"Polly Briggs is a low slut, Tom, and not fit for the likes of you,
his Excellency's son. Oh, fie! You must be a gentleman now,
sirrah; and I doubt whether I shan't take you away from that odious
tailor's shop altogether."
To this proposition Mr. Billings objected altogether; for, besides
Mrs. Briggs before alluded to, the young gentleman was much attached
to his master's daughter, Mrs. Margaret Gretel, or Gretchen
"No," says he. "There will be time to think of that hereafter,
ma'am. If my pa makes a man of me, why, of course, the shop may go
to the deuce, for what I care; but we had better wait, look you, for
something certain before we give up such a pretty bird in the hand
"He speaks like Solomon," said the Doctor.
"I always said he would be a credit to his old mother, didn't I,
Brock?" cried Mrs. Cat, embracing her son very affectionately. "A
credit to her; ay, I warrant, a real blessing! And dost thou want
any money, Tom? for a lord's son must not go about without a few
pieces in his pocket. And I tell thee, Tommy, thou must go and see
his Lordship; and thou shalt have a piece of brocade for a
waistcoat, thou shalt; ay, and the silver-hilted sword I told thee
of; but oh, Tommy, Tommy! have a care, and don't be a-drawing of it
in naughty company at the gaming-houses, or at the--"
"A drawing of fiddlesticks, Mother! If I go to see my father, I
must have a reason for it; and instead of going with a sword in my
hand, I shall take something else in it."
"The lad IS a lad of nous," cried Doctor Wood, "although his mother
does spoil him so cruelly. Look you, Madam Cat: did you not hear
what he said about Beinkleider and the clothes? Tommy will just
wait on the Count with his Lordship's breeches. A man may learn a
deal of news in the trying on of a pair of breeches."
And so it was agreed that in this manner the son should at first
make his appearance before his father. Mrs. Cat gave him the piece
of brocade, which, in the course of the day, was fashioned into a
smart waistcoat (for Beinkleider's shop was close by, in Cavendish
Square). Mrs. Gretel, with many blushes, tied a fine blue riband
round his neck; and, in a pair of silk stockings, with gold buckles
to his shoes, Master Billings looked a very proper young gentleman.
"And, Tommy," said his mother, blushing and hesitating, "should
Max--should his Lordship ask after your--want to know if your mother
is alive, you can say she is, and well, and often talks of old
times. And, Tommy" (after another pause), "you needn't say anything
about Mr. Hayes; only say I'm quite well."
Mrs. Hayes looked at him as he marched down the street, a long long
way. Tom was proud and gay in his new costume, and was not unlike
his father. As she looked, lo! Oxford Street disappeared, and she
saw a green common, and a village, and a little inn. There was a
soldier leading a pair of horses about on the green common; and in
the inn sat a cavalier, so young, so merry, so beautiful! Oh, what
slim white hands he had; and winning words, and tender, gentle blue
eyes! Was it not an honour to a country lass that such a noble
gentleman should look at her for a moment? Had he not some charm
about him that she must needs obey when he whispered in her ear,
"Come, follow me!" As she walked towards the lane that morning, how
well she remembered each spot as she passed it, and the look it wore
for the last time! How the smoke was rising from the pastures, how
the fish were jumping and plashing in the mill-stream! There was
the church, with all its windows lighted up with gold, and yonder
were the reapers sweeping down the brown corn. She tried to sing as
she went up the hill--what was it? She could not remember; but oh,
how well she remembered the sound of the horse's hoofs, as they came
quicker, quicker--nearer, nearer! How noble he looked on his great
horse! Was he thinking of her, or were they all silly words which
he spoke last night, merely to pass away the time and deceive poor
girls with? Would he remember them,--would he?
"Cat my dear," here cried Mr. Brock, alias Captain, alias Doctor
Wood, "here's the meat a-getting cold, and I am longing for my
As they went in he looked her hard in the face. "What, still at it,
you silly girl? I've been watching you these five minutes, Cat; and
be hanged but I think a word from Galgenstein, and you would follow
him as a fly does a treacle-pot!"
They went in to breakfast; but though there was a hot shoulder of
mutton and onion-sauce--Mrs. Catherine's favourite dish--she never
touched a morsel of it.
In the meanwhile Mr. Thomas Billings, in his new clothes which his
mamma had given him, in his new riband which the fair Miss
Beinkleider had tied round his neck, and having his Excellency's
breeches wrapped in a silk handkerchief in his right hand, turned
down in the direction of Whitehall, where the Bavarian Envoy lodged.
But, before he waited on him, Mr. Billings, being excessively
pleased with his personal appearance, made an early visit to Mrs.
Briggs, who lived in the neighbourhood of Swallow Street; and who,
after expressing herself with much enthusiasm regarding her Tommy's
good looks, immediately asked him what he would stand to drink?
Raspberry gin being suggested, a pint of that liquor was sent for;
and so great was the confidence and intimacy subsisting between
these two young people, that the reader will be glad to hear that
Mrs. Polly accepted every shilling of the money which Tom Billings
had received from his mamma the day before; nay, could with
difficulty be prevented from seizing upon the cut-velvet breeches
which he was carrying to the nobleman for whom they were made.
Having paid his adieux to Mrs. Polly, Mr. Billings departed to visit
CHAPTER IX. INTERVIEW BETWEEN COUNT GALGENSTEIN AND MASTER THOMAS
BILLINGS, WHEN HE INFORMS THE COUNT OF HIS PARENTAGE.
I don't know in all this miserable world a more miserable spectacle
than that of a young fellow of five or six and forty. The British
army, that nursery of valour, turns out many of the young fellows I
mean: who, having flaunted in dragoon uniforms from seventeen to
six-and-thirty; having bought, sold, or swapped during that period
some two hundred horses; having played, say, fifteen thousand games
at billiards; having drunk some six thousand bottles of wine; having
consumed a reasonable number of Nugee coats, split many dozen pairs
of high-heeled Hoby boots, and read the newspaper and the army-list
duly, retire from the service when they have attained their eighth
lustre, and saunter through the world, trailing from London to
Cheltenham, and from Boulogne to Paris, and from Paris to Baden,
their idleness, their ill-health, and their ennui. "In the morning
of youth," and when seen along with whole troops of their
companions, these flowers look gaudy and brilliant enough; but there
is no object more dismal than one of them alone, and in its
autumnal, or seedy state. My friend, Captain Popjoy, is one who has
arrived at this condition, and whom everybody knows by his title of
Father Pop. A kinder, simpler, more empty-headed fellow does not
exist. He is forty-seven years old, and appears a young,
good-looking man of sixty. At the time of the Army of Occupation he
really was as good-looking a man as any in the Dragoons. He now
uses all sorts of stratagems to cover the bald place on his head, by
combing certain thin grey sidelocks over it. He has, in revenge, a
pair of enormous moustaches, which he dyes of the richest
blue-black. His nose is a good deal larger and redder than it used
to be; his eyelids have grown flat and heavy; and a little pair of
red, watery eyeballs float in the midst of them: it seems as if the
light which was once in those sickly green pupils had extravasated
into the white part of the eye. If Pop's legs are not so firm and
muscular as they used to be in those days when he took such leaps
into White's buckskins, in revenge his waist is much larger. He
wears a very good coat, however, and a waistband, which he lets out
after dinner. Before ladies he blushes, and is as silent as a
schoolboy. He calls them "modest women." His society is chiefly
among young lads belonging to his former profession. He knows the
best wine to be had at each tavern or cafe, and the waiters treat
him with much respectful familiarity. He knows the names of every
one of them; and shouts out, "Send Markwell here!" or, "Tell
Cuttriss to give us a bottle of the yellow seal!" or, "Dizzy voo,
Monsure Borrel, noo donny shampang frappy," etc. He always makes
the salad or the punch, and dines out three hundred days in the
year: the other days you see him in a two-franc eating-house at
Paris, or prowling about Rupert Street, or St. Martin's Court, where
you get a capital cut of meat for eightpence. He has decent
lodgings and scrupulously clean linen; his animal functions are
still tolerably well preserved, his spiritual have evaporated long
since; he sleeps well, has no conscience, believes himself to be a
respectable fellow, and is tolerably happy on the days when he is
asked out to dinner.
Poor Pop is not very high in the scale of created beings; but, if
you fancy there is none lower, you are in egregious error. There
was once a man who had a mysterious exhibition of an animal, quite
unknown to naturalists, called "the wusser." Those curious
individuals who desired to see the wusser were introduced into an
apartment where appeared before them nothing more than a little lean
shrivelled hideous blear-eyed mangy pig. Everyone cried out
"Swindle!" and "Shame!" "Patience, gentlemen, be heasy," said the
showman: "look at that there hanimal; it's a perfect phenomaly of
hugliness: I engage you never see such a pig." Nobody ever had
seen. "Now, gentlemen," said he, "I'll keep my promise, has per
bill; and bad as that there pig is, look at this here" (he showed
another). "Look at this here, and you'll see at once that it's A
WUSSER." In like manner the Popjoy breed is bad enough, but it
serves only to show off the Galgenstein race; which is WUSSER.
Galgenstein had led a very gay life, as the saying is, for the last
fifteen years; such a gay one, that he had lost all capacity of
enjoyment by this time, and only possessed inclinations without
powers of gratifying them. He had grown to be exquisitely curious
and fastidious about meat and drink, for instance, and all that he
wanted was an appetite. He carried about with him a French cook,
who could not make him eat; a doctor, who could not make him well; a
mistress, of whom he was heartily sick after two days; a priest, who
had been a favourite of the exemplary Dubois, and by turns used to
tickle him by the imposition of penance, or by the repetition of a
tale from the recueil of Noce, or La Fare. All his appetites were
wasted and worn; only some monstrosity would galvanise them into
momentary action. He was in that effete state to which many
noblemen of his time had arrived; who were ready to believe in
ghost-raising or in gold-making, or to retire into monasteries and
wear hair-shirts, or to dabble in conspiracies, or to die in love
with little cook-maids of fifteen, or to pine for the smiles or at
the frowns of a prince of the blood, or to go mad at the refusal of
a chamberlain's key. The last gratification he remembered to have
enjoyed was that of riding bareheaded in a soaking rain for three
hours by the side of his Grand Duke's mistress's coach; taking the
pas of Count Krahwinkel, who challenged him, and was run through the
body for this very dispute. Galgenstein gained a rheumatic gout by
it, which put him to tortures for many months; and was further
gratified with the post of English Envoy. He had a fortune, he
asked no salary, and could look the envoy very well. Father
O'Flaherty did all the duties, and furthermore acted as a spy over
the ambassador--a sinecure post, for the man had no feelings,
wishes, or opinions--absolutely none.
"Upon my life, father," said this worthy man, "I care for nothing.
You have been talking for an hour about the Regent's death, and the
Duchess of Phalaris, and sly old Fleury, and what not; and I care
just as much as if you told me that one of my bauers at Galgenstein
had killed a pig; or as if my lacquey, La Rose yonder, had made love
to my mistress."
"He does!" said the reverend gentleman.
"Ah, Monsieur l'Abbe!" said La Rose, who was arranging his master's
enormous Court periwig, "you are, helas! wrong. Monsieur le Comte
will not be angry at my saying that I wish the accusation were
The Count did not take the slightest notice of La Rose's wit, but
continued his own complaints.
"I tell you, Abbe, I care for nothing. I lost a thousand guineas
t'other night at basset; I wish to my heart I could have been vexed
about it. Egad! I remember the day when to lose a hundred made me
half mad for a month. Well, next day I had my revenge at dice, and
threw thirteen mains. There was some delay; a call for fresh bones,
I think; and would you believe it?--I fell asleep with the box in my
"A desperate case, indeed," said the Abbe.
"If it had not been for Krahwinkel, I should have been a dead man,
that's positive. That pinking him saved me."
"I make no doubt of it," said the Abbe. "Had your Excellency not
run him through, he, without a doubt, would have done the same for
"Psha! you mistake my words, Monsieur l'Abbe" (yawning). "I
mean--what cursed chocolate!--that I was dying for want of
excitement. Not that I cared for dying; no, d---- me if I do!"
"WHEN you do, your Excellency means," said the Abbe, a fat
grey-haired Irishman, from the Irlandois College at Paris.
His Excellency did not laugh, nor understand jokes of any kind; he
was of an undeviating stupidity, and only replied, "Sir, I mean what
I say. I don't care for living: no, nor for dying either; but I
can speak as well as another, and I'll thank you not to be
correcting my phrases as if I were one of your cursed schoolboys,
and not a gentleman of fortune and blood."
Herewith the Count, who had uttered four sentences about himself (he
never spoke of anything else), sunk back on his pillows again, quite
exhausted by his eloquence. The Abbe, who had a seat and a table by
the bedside, resumed the labours which had brought him into the room
in the morning, and busied himself with papers, which occasionally
he handed over to his superior for approval.
Presently Monsieur la Rose appeared.
"Here is a person with clothes from Mr. Beinkleider's. Will your
Excellency see him, or shall I bid him leave the clothes?"
The Count was very much fatigued by this time; he had signed three
papers, and read the first half-a-dozen lines of a pair of them.
"Bid the fellow come in, La Rose; and, hark ye, give me my wig: one
must show one's self to be a gentleman before these scoundrels."
And he therefore mounted a large chestnut-coloured, orange-scented
pyramid of horsehair, which was to awe the new-comer.
He was a lad of about seventeen, in a smart waistcoat and a blue
riband: our friend Tom Billings, indeed. He carried under his arm
the Count's destined breeches. He did not seem in the least awed,
however, by his Excellency's appearance, but looked at him with a
great degree of curiosity and boldness. In the same manner he
surveyed the chaplain, and then nodded to him with a kind look of
"Where have I seen the lad?" said the father. "Oh, I have it! My
good friend, you were at the hanging yesterday, I think?"
Mr. Billings gave a very significant nod with his head. "I never
miss," said he.
"What a young Turk! And pray, sir, do you go for pleasure, or for
"Business! what do you mean by business?"
"Oh, I did not know whether you might be brought up to the trade, or
your relations be undergoing the operation."
"My relations," said Mr. Billings, proudly, and staring the Count
full in the face, "was not made for no such thing. I'm a tailor
now, but I'm a gentleman's son: as good a man, ay, as his lordship
there: for YOU a'n't his lordship--you're the Popish priest you
are; and we were very near giving you a touch of a few Protestant
The Count began to be a little amused: he was pleased to see the
Abbe look alarmed, or even foolish.
"Egad, Abbe," said he, "you turn as white as a sheet."
"I don't fancy being murdered, my Lord," said the Abbe, hastily;
"and murdered for a good work. It was but to be useful to yonder
poor Irishman, who saved me as a prisoner in Flanders, when
Marlborough would have hung me up like poor Macshane himself was
"Ah!" said the Count, bursting out with some energy, "I was thinking
who the fellow could be, ever since he robbed me on the Heath. I
recollect the scoundrel now: he was a second in a duel I had here
in the year six."
"Along with Major Wood, behind Montague House," said Mr. Billings.
"I'VE heard on it." And here he looked more knowing than ever.
"YOU!" cried the Count, more and more surprised. "And pray who the
devil ARE you?"
"My name's Billings."
"Billings?" said the Count.
"I come out of Warwickshire," said Mr. Billings.
"I was born at Birmingham town."
"Were you, really!"
"My mother's name was Hayes," continued Billings, in a solemn voice.
"I was put out to a nurse along with John Billings, a blacksmith;
and my father run away. NOW do you know who I am?"
"Why, upon honour, now," said the Count, who was amused,--"upon
honour, Mr. Billings, I have not that advantage."
"Well, then, my Lord, YOU'RE MY FATHER!"
Mr. Billings when he said this came forward to the Count with a
theatrical air; and, flinging down the breeches of which he was the
bearer, held out his arms and stared, having very little doubt but
that his Lordship would forthwith spring out of bed and hug him to
his heart. A similar piece of naivete many fathers of families
have, I have no doubt, remarked in their children; who, not caring
for their parents a single doit, conceive, nevertheless, that the
latter are bound to show all sorts of affection for them. His
lordship did move, but backwards towards the wall, and began pulling
at the bell-rope with an expression of the most intense alarm.
"Keep back, sirrah!--keep back! Suppose I AM your father, do you
want to murder me? Good heavens! how the boy smells of gin and
tobacco! Don't turn away, my lad; sit down there at a proper
distance. And, La Rose, give him some eau-de-Cologne, and get a cup
of coffee. Well, now, go on with your story. Egad, my dear Abbe, I
think it is very likely that what the lad says is true."
"If it is a family conversation," said the Abbe, "I had better leave
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, no! I could not stand the boy alone. Now,
Mister ah!--What's-your-name? Have the goodness to tell your
Mr. Billings was woefully disconcerted; for his mother and he had
agreed that as soon as his father saw him he would be recognised at
once, and, mayhap, made heir to the estates and title; in which
being disappointed, he very sulkily went on with his narrative, and
detailed many of those events with which the reader has already been
made acquainted. The Count asked the boy's mother's Christian name,
and being told it, his memory at once returned to him.
"What! are you little Cat's son?" said his Excellency. "By heavens,
mon cher Abbe, a charming creature, but a tigress--positively a
tigress. I recollect the whole affair now. She's a little fresh
black-haired woman, a'n't she? with a sharp nose and thick eyebrows,
ay? Ah yes, yes!" went on my Lord, "I recollect her, I recollect
her. It was at Birmingham I first met her: she was my Lady
Trippet's woman, wasn't she?"
"She was no such thing," said Mr. Billings, hotly. "Her aunt kept
the 'Bugle Inn' on Waltham Green, and your Lordship seduced her."
"Seduced her! Oh, 'gad, so I did. Stap me, now, I did. Yes, I
made her jump on my black horse, and bore her off like--like Aeneas
bore his wife away from the siege of Rome! hey, l'Abbe?"
"The events were precisely similar," said the Abbe. "It is
wonderful what a memory you have!"
"I was always remarkable for it," continued his Excellency. "Well,
where was I,--at the black horse? Yes, at the black horse. Well, I
mounted her on the black horse, and rode her en croupe, egad--ha,
ha!--to Birmingham; and there we billed and cooed together like a
pair of turtle-doves: yes--ha!--that we did!"
"And this, I suppose, is the end of some of the BILLINGS?" said the
Abbe, pointing to Mr. Tom.
"Billings! what do you mean? Yes--oh--ah--a pun, a calembourg. Fi
donc, M. l'Abbe." And then, after the wont of very stupid people,
M. de Galgenstein went on to explain to the Abbe his own pun.
"Well, but to proceed," cries he. "We lived together at Birmingham,
and I was going to be married to a rich heiress, egad! when what do
you think this little Cat does? She murders me, egad! and makes me
manquer the marriage. Twenty thousand, I think it was; and I wanted
the money in those days. Now, wasn't she an abominable monster,
that mother of yours, hey, Mr. a--What's-your-name?"
"She served you right!" said Mr. Billings, with a great oath,
starting up out of all patience.
"Fellow!" said his Excellency, quite aghast, "do you know to whom
you speak?--to a nobleman of seventy-eight descents; a count of the
Holy Roman Empire; a representative of a sovereign? Ha, egad!
Don't stamp, fellow, if you hope for my protection."
"D--n your protection!" said Mr. Billings, in a fury. "Curse you
and your protection too! I'm a free-born Briton, and no ---- French
Papist! And any man who insults my mother--ay, or calls me feller--
had better look to himself and the two eyes in his head, I can tell
him!" And with this Mr. Billings put himself into the most approved
attitude of the Cockpit, and invited his father, the reverend
gentleman, and Monsieur la Rose the valet, to engage with him in a
pugilistic encounter. The two latter, the Abbe especially, seemed
dreadfully frightened; but the Count now looked on with much
interest; and, giving utterance to a feeble kind of chuckle, which
lasted for about half a minute, said,--
"Paws off, Pompey! You young hangdog, you--egad, yes, aha! 'pon
honour, you're a lad of spirit; some of your father's spunk in you,
hey? I know him by that oath. Why, sir, when I was sixteen, I used
to swear--to swear, egad, like a Thames waterman, and exactly in
this fellow's way! Buss me, my lad; no, kiss my hand. That will
do"--and he held out a very lean yellow hand, peering from a pair of
yellow ruffles. It shook very much, and the shaking made all the
rings upon it shine only the more.
"Well," says Mr. Billings, "if you wasn't a-going to abuse me nor
mother, I don't care if I shake hands with you. I ain't proud!"
The Abbe laughed with great glee; and that very evening sent off to
his Court a most ludicrous spicy description of the whole scene of
meeting between this amiable father and child; in which he said that
young Billings was the eleve favori of M. Kitch, Ecuyer, le bourreau
de Londres, and which made the Duke's mistress laugh so much that
she vowed that the Abbe should have a bishopric on his return: for,
with such store of wisdom, look you, my son, was the world governed
in those days.
The Count and his offspring meanwhile conversed with some
cordiality. The former informed the latter of all the diseases to
which he was subject, his manner of curing them, his great
consideration as chamberlain to the Duke of Bavaria; how he wore his
Court suits, and of a particular powder which he had invented for
the hair; how, when he was seventeen, he had run away with a
canoness, egad! who was afterwards locked up in a convent, and grew
to be sixteen stone in weight; how he remembered the time when
ladies did not wear patches; and how the Duchess of Marlborough
boxed his ears when he was so high, because he wanted to kiss her.
All these important anecdotes took some time in the telling, and
were accompanied by many profound moral remarks; such as, "I can't
abide garlic, nor white-wine, stap me! nor Sauerkraut, though his
Highness eats half a bushel per day. I ate it the first time at
Court; but when they brought it me a second time, I
refused--refused, split me and grill me if I didn't! Everybody
stared; his Highness looked as fierce as a Turk; and that infernal
Krahwinkel (my dear, I did for him afterwards)--that cursed
Krahwinkel, I say, looked as pleased as possible, and whispered to
Countess Fritsch, 'Blitzchen, Frau Grafinn,' says he, 'it's all over
with Galgenstein.' What did I do? I had the entree, and demanded
it. 'Altesse,' says I, falling on one knee, 'I ate no kraut at
dinner to-day. You remarked it: I saw your Highness remark it.'
"'I did, M. le Comte,' said his Highness, gravely.
"I had almost tears in my eyes; but it was necessary to come to a
resolution, you know. 'Sir,' said I, 'I speak with deep grief to
your Highness, who are my benefactor, my friend, my father; but of
this I am resolved, I WILL NEVER EAT SAUERKRAUT MORE: it don't
agree with me. After being laid up for four weeks by the last dish
of Sauerkraut of which I partook, I may say with confidence--IT
DON'T agree with me. By impairing my health, it impairs my
intellect, and weakens my strength; and both I would keep for your
"'Tut, tut!' said his Highness. 'Tut, tut, tut!' Those were his
"'Give me my sword or my pen,' said I. 'Give me my sword or my pen,
and with these Maximilian de Galgenstein is ready to serve you; but
sure,--sure, a great prince will pity the weak health of a faithful
subject, who does not know how to eat Sauerkraut?' His Highness was
walking about the room: I was still on my knees, and stretched
forward my hand to seize his coat.
"'GEHT ZUM TEUFEL, Sir!' said he, in a loud voice (it means 'Go to
the deuce,' my dear),--'Geht zum Teufel, and eat what you like!'
With this he went out of the room abruptly; leaving in my hand one
of his buttons, which I keep to this day. As soon as I was alone,
amazed by his great goodness and bounty, I sobbed aloud--cried like
a child" (the Count's eyes filled and winked at the very
recollection), "and when I went back into the card-room, stepping up
to Krahwinkel, 'Count,' says I, 'who looks foolish now?'--Hey there,
La Rose, give me the diamond-- Yes, that was the very pun I made,
and very good it was thought. 'Krahwinkel,' says I, 'WHO LOOKS
FOOLISH NOW?' and from that day to this I was never at a Court-day
asked to eat Sauerkraut--NEVER!"
"Hey there, La Rose! Bring me that diamond snuff-box in the drawer
of my secretaire;" and the snuff-box was brought. "Look at it, my
dear," said the Count, "for I saw you seemed to doubt. There is the
button--the very one that came off his Grace's coat."
Mr. Billings received it, and twisted it about with a stupid air.
The story had quite mystified him; for he did not dare yet to think
his father was a fool--his respect for the aristocracy prevented
When the Count's communications had ceased, which they did as soon
as the story of the Sauerkraut was finished, a silence of some
minutes ensued. Mr. Billings was trying to comprehend the
circumstances above narrated; his Lordship was exhausted; the
chaplain had quitted the room directly the word Sauerkraut was
mentioned--he knew what was coming. His Lordship looked for some
time at his son; who returned the gaze with his mouth wide open.
"Well," said the Count--"well, sir? What are you sitting there for?
If you have nothing to say, sir, you had better go. I had you here
to amuse me--split me--and not to sit there staring!"
Mr. Billings rose in a fury.
"Hark ye, my lad," said the Count, "tell La Rose to give thee five
guineas, and, ah--come again some morning. A nice well-grown young
lad," mused the Count, as Master Tommy walked wondering out of the
apartment; "a pretty fellow enough, and intelligent too."
"Well, he IS an odd fellow, my father," thought Mr. Billings, as he
walked out, having received the sum offered to him. And he
immediately went to call upon his friend Polly Briggs, from whom he
had separated in the morning.
What was the result of their interview is not at all necessary to
the progress of this history. Having made her, however, acquainted
with the particulars of his visit to his father, he went to his
mother's, and related to her all that had occurred.
Poor thing, she was very differently interested in the issue of it!
CHAPTER X. SHOWING HOW GALGENSTEIN AND MRS. CAT RECOGNISE EACH
OTHER IN MARYLEBONE GARDENS--AND HOW THE COUNT DRIVES HER HOME IN
About a month after the touching conversation above related, there
was given, at Marylebone Gardens, a grand concert and entertainment,
at which the celebrated Madame Amenaide, a dancer of the theatre at
Paris, was to perform, under the patronage of several English and
foreign noblemen; among whom was his Excellency the Bavarian Envoy.
Madame Amenaide was, in fact, no other than the maitresse en titre
of the Monsieur de Galgenstein, who had her a great bargain from the
Duke de Rohan-Chabot at Paris.
It is not our purpose to make a great and learned display here,
otherwise the costumes of the company assembled at this fete might
afford scope for at least half-a-dozen pages of fine writing; and we
might give, if need were, specimens of the very songs and music sung
on the occasion. Does not the Burney collection of music, at the
British Museum, afford one an ample store of songs from which to
choose? Are there not the memoirs of Colley Cibber? those of Mrs.
Clark, the daughter of Colley? Is there not Congreve, and
Farquhar--nay, and at a pinch, the "Dramatic Biography," or even the
Spectator, from which the observant genius might borrow passages,
and construct pretty antiquarian figments? Leave we these trifles
to meaner souls! Our business is not with the breeches and
periwigs, with the hoops and patches, but with the divine hearts of
men, and the passions which agitate them. What need, therefore,
have we to say that on this evening, after the dancing, the music,
and the fireworks, Monsieur de Galgenstein felt the strange and
welcome pangs of appetite, and was picking a cold chicken, along
with some other friends in an arbour--a cold chicken, with an
accompaniment of a bottle of champagne--when he was led to remark
that a very handsome plump little person, in a gorgeous stiff damask
gown and petticoat, was sauntering up and down the walk running
opposite his supping-place, and bestowing continual glances towards
his Excellency. The lady, whoever she was, was in a mask, such as
ladies of high and low fashion wore at public places in those days,
and had a male companion. He was a lad of only seventeen,
marvellously well dressed--indeed, no other than the Count's own
son, Mr. Thomas Billings; who had at length received from his mother
the silver-hilted sword, and the wig, which that affectionate parent
had promised to him.
In the course of the month which had elapsed since the interview
that has been described in the former chapter, Mr. Billings had
several times had occasion to wait on his father; but though he had,
according to her wishes, frequently alluded to the existence of his
mother, the Count had never at any time expressed the slightest wish
to renew his acquaintance with that lady; who, if she had seen him,
had only seen him by stealth.
The fact is, that after Billings had related to her the particulars
of his first meeting with his Excellency; which ended, like many of
the latter visits, in nothing at all; Mrs. Hayes had found some
pressing business, which continually took her to Whitehall, and had
been prowling from day to day about Monsieur de Galgenstein's
lodgings. Four or five times in the week, as his Excellency stepped
into his coach, he might have remarked, had he chosen, a woman in a
black hood, who was looking most eagerly into his eyes: but those
eyes had long since left off the practice of observing; and Madam
Catherine's visits had so far gone for nothing.
On this night, however, inspired by gaiety and drink, the Count had
been amazingly stricken by the gait and ogling of the lady in the
mask. The Reverend O'Flaherty, who was with him, and had observed
the figure in the black cloak, recognised, or thought he recognised,
her. "It is the woman who dogs your Excellency every day," said he.
"She is with that tailor lad who loves to see people hanged--your
Excellency's son, I mean." And he was just about to warn the Count
of a conspiracy evidently made against him, and that the son had
brought, most likely, the mother to play her arts upon him--he was
just about, I say, to show to the Count the folly and danger of
renewing an old liaison with a woman such as he had described Mrs.
Cat to be, when his Excellency, starting up, and interrupting his
ghostly adviser at the very beginning of his sentence, said, "Egad,
l'Abbe, you are right--it IS my son, and a mighty smart-looking
creature with him. Hey! Mr. What's-your-name--Tom, you rogue, don't
you know your own father?" And so saying, and cocking his beaver on
one side, Monsieur de Galgenstein strutted jauntily after Mr.
Billings and the lady.
It was the first time that the Count had formally recognised his
"Tom, you rogue," stopped at this, and the Count came up. He had a
white velvet suit, covered over with stars and orders, a neat modest
wig and bag, and peach-coloured silk-stockings with silver clasps.
The lady in the mask gave a start as his Excellency came forward.
"Law, mother, don't squeege so," said Tom. The poor woman was
trembling in every limb, but she had presence of mind to "squeege"
Tom a great deal harder; and the latter took the hint, I suppose,
and was silent.
The splendid Count came up. Ye gods, how his embroidery glittered
in the lamps! What a royal exhalation of musk and bergamot came
from his wig, his handkerchief, and his grand lace ruffles and
frills! A broad yellow riband passed across his breast, and ended
at his hip in a shining diamond cross--a diamond cross, and a
diamond sword-hilt! Was anything ever seen so beautiful? And might
not a poor woman tremble when such a noble creature drew near to
her, and deigned, from the height of his rank and splendour, to look
down upon her? As Jove came down to Semele in state, in his habits
of ceremony, with all the grand cordons of his orders blazing about
his imperial person--thus dazzling, magnificent, triumphant, the
great Galgenstein descended towards Mrs. Catherine. Her cheeks
glowed red-hot under her coy velvet mask, her heart thumped against
the whalebone prison of her stays. What a delicious storm of vanity
was raging in her bosom! What a rush of long-pent recollections
burst forth at the sound of that enchanting voice!
As you wind up a hundred-guinea chronometer with a twopenny
watch-key--as by means of a dirty wooden plug you set all the waters
of Versailles a-raging, and splashing, and storming--in like manner,
and by like humble agents, were Mrs. Catherine's tumultuous passions
set going. The Count, we have said, slipped up to his son, and
merely saying, "How do, Tom?" cut the young gentleman altogether,
and passing round to the lady's side, said, "Madam, 'tis a charming
evening--egad it is!" She almost fainted: it was the old voice.
There he was, after seventeen years, once more at her side!
Now I know what I could have done. I can turn out a quotation from
Sophocles (by looking to the index) as well as another: I can throw
off a bit of fine writing too, with passion, similes, and a moral at
the end. What, pray, is the last sentence but one but the very
finest writing? Suppose, for example, I had made Maximilian, as he
stood by the side of Catherine, look up towards the clouds, and
exclaim, in the words of the voluptuous Cornelius Nepos,
Droseran phusin euageetoi, k.t.l. *
* Anglicised version of the author's original Greek text.
Or suppose, again, I had said, in a style still more popular:--
The Count advanced towards the maiden. They both were mute for a
while; and only the beating of her heart interrupted that thrilling
and passionate silence. Ah, what years of buried joys and fears,
hopes and disappointments, arose from their graves in the far past,
and in those brief moments flitted before the united ones! How sad
was that delicious retrospect, and oh, how sweet! The tears that
rolled down the cheek of each were bubbles from the choked and
moss-grown wells of youth; the sigh that heaved each bosom had some
lurking odours in it--memories of the fragrance of boyhood, echoes
of the hymns of the young heart! Thus is it ever--for these blessed
recollections the soul always has a place; and while crime perishes,
and sorrow is forgotten, the beautiful alone is eternal.
"O golden legends, written in the skies!" mused De Galgenstein, "ye
shine as ye did in the olden days! WE change, but YE speak ever the
same language. Gazing in your abysmal depths, the feeble ratioci--"
* * * * *
There, now, are six columns* of the best writing to be found in this
or any other book. Galgenstein has quoted Euripides thrice, Plato
once, Lycophron nine times, besides extracts from the Latin syntax
and the minor Greek poets. Catherine's passionate embreathings are
of the most fashionable order; and I call upon the ingenious critic
of the X---- newspaper to say whether they do not possess the real
impress of the giants of the olden time--the real Platonic smack, in
a word? Not that I want in the least to show off; but it is as
well, every now and then, to show the public what one CAN do.
(* There WERE six columns, as mentioned by the accurate Mr.
Solomons; but we have withdrawn two pages and three-quarters,
because, although our correspondent has been excessively eloquent,
according to custom, we were anxious to come to the facts of the
Mr. Solomons, by sending to our office, may have the cancelled
Instead, however, of all this rant and nonsense, how much finer is
the speech that the Count really did make! "It is a very fine
evening,--egad it is!" The "egad" did the whole business: Mrs. Cat
was as much in love with him now as ever she had been; and,
gathering up all her energies, she said, "It is dreadful hot too, I
think;" and with this she made a curtsey.
"Stifling, split me!" added his Excellency. "What do you say,
madam, to a rest in an arbour, and a drink of something cool?"
"Sir!" said the lady, drawing back.
"Oh, a drink--a drink by all means," exclaimed Mr. Billings, who was
troubled with a perpetual thirst. "Come, mo--, Mrs. Jones, I mean.
you're fond of a glass of cold punch, you know; and the rum here is
prime, I can tell you."
The lady in the mask consented with some difficulty to the proposal
of Mr. Billings, and was led by the two gentlemen into an arbour,
where she was seated between them; and some wax-candles being
lighted, punch was brought.
She drank one or two glasses very eagerly, and so did her two
companions; although it was evident to see, from the flushed looks
of both of them, that they had little need of any such stimulus.
The Count, in the midst of his champagne, it must be said, had been
amazingly stricken and scandalised by the appearance of such a youth
as Billings in a public place with a lady under his arm. He was,
the reader will therefore understand, in the moral stage of liquor;
and when he issued out, it was not merely with the intention of
examining Mr. Billings's female companion, but of administering to
him some sound correction for venturing, at his early period of
life, to form any such acquaintances. On joining Billings, his
Excellency's first step was naturally to examine the lady. After
they had been sitting for a while over their punch, he bethought him
of his original purpose, and began to address a number of moral
remarks to his son.
We have already given some specimens of Monsieur de Galgenstein's
sober conversation; and it is hardly necessary to trouble the reader
with any further reports of his speeches. They were intolerably
stupid and dull; as egotistical as his morning lecture had been, and
a hundred times more rambling and prosy. If Cat had been in the
possession of her sober senses, she would have seen in five minutes
that her ancient lover was a ninny, and have left him with scorn;
but she was under the charm of old recollections, and the sound of
that silly voice was to her magical. As for Mr. Billings, he
allowed his Excellency to continue his prattle; only frowning,
yawning, cursing occasionally, but drinking continually.
So the Count descanted at length upon the enormity of young
Billings's early liaisons; and then he told his own, in the year
four, with a burgomaster's daughter at Ratisbon, when he was in the
Elector of Bavaria's service--then, after Blenheim, when he had come
over to the Duke of Marlborough, when a physician's wife at Bonn
poisoned herself for him, etc. etc.; of a piece with the story of
the canoness, which has been recorded before. All the tales were
true. A clever, ugly man every now and then is successful with the
ladies; but a handsome fool is irresistible. Mrs. Cat listened and
listened. Good heavens! she had heard all these tales before, and
recollected the place and the time--how she was hemming a
handkerchief for Max; who came round and kissed her, vowing that the
physician's wife was nothing compared to her--how he was tired, and
lying on the sofa, just come home from shooting. How handsome he
looked! Cat thought he was only the handsomer now; and looked more
grave and thoughtful, the dear fellow!
The garden was filled with a vast deal of company of all kinds, and
parties were passing every moment before the arbour where our trio
sat. About half-an-hour after his Excellency had quitted his own
box and party, the Rev. Mr. O'Flaherty came discreetly round, to
examine the proceedings of his diplomatical chef. The lady in the
mask was listening with all her might; Mr. Billings was drawing
figures on the table with punch; and the Count talking incessantly.
The Father Confessor listened for a moment; and then, with something
resembling an oath, walked away to the entry of the gardens, where
his Excellency's gilt coach, with three footmen, was waiting to
carry him back to London. "Get me a chair, Joseph," said his
Reverence, who infinitely preferred a seat gratis in the coach.
"That fool," muttered he, "will not move for this hour." The
reverend gentleman knew that, when the Count was on the subject of
the physician's wife, his discourses were intolerably long; and took
upon himself, therefore, to disappear, along with the rest of the
Count's party; who procured other conveyances, and returned to their
After this quiet shadow had passed before the Count's box, many
groups of persons passed and repassed; and among them was no other
than Mrs. Polly Briggs, to whom we have been already introduced.
Mrs. Polly was in company with one or two other ladies, and leaning
on the arm of a gentleman with large shoulders and calves, a fierce
cock to his hat, and a shabby genteel air. His name was Mr. Moffat,
and his present occupation was that of doorkeeper at a gambling-
house in Covent Garden; where, though he saw many thousands pass
daily under his eyes, his own salary amounted to no more than
four-and-sixpence weekly,--a sum quite insufficient to maintain him
in the rank which he held.
Mr. Moffat had, however, received some funds--amounting indeed, to a
matter of twelve guineas--within the last month, and was treating
Mrs. Briggs very generously to the concert. It may be as well to
say that every one of the twelve guineas had come out of Mrs.
Polly's own pocket; who, in return, had received them from Mr.
Billings. And as the reader may remember that, on the day of
Tommy's first interview with his father, he had previously paid a
visit to Mrs. Briggs, having under his arm a pair of breeches, which
Mrs. Briggs coveted--he should now be informed that she desired
these breeches, not for pincushions, but for Mr. Moffat, who had
long been in want of a pair.
Having thus episodically narrated Mr. Moffat's history, let us state
that he, his lady, and their friends, passed before the Count's
arbour, joining in a melodious chorus to a song which one of the
society, an actor of Betterton's, was singing:
"'Tis my will, when I'm dead, that no tear shall be shed,
No 'Hic jacet' be graved on my stone;
But pour o'er my ashes a bottle of red,
And say a good fellow is gone,
My brave boys!
And say a good fellow is gone."
"My brave boys" was given with vast emphasis by the party; Mr.
Moffat growling it in a rich bass, and Mrs. Briggs in a soaring
treble. As to the notes, when quavering up to the skies, they
excited various emotions among the people in the gardens. "Silence
them blackguards!" shouted a barber, who was taking a pint of small
beer along with his lady. "Stop that there infernal screeching!"
said a couple of ladies, who were sipping ratafia in company with
two pretty fellows.
"Dang it, it's Polly!" said Mr. Tom Billings, bolting out of the
box, and rushing towards the sweet-voiced Mrs. Briggs. When he
reached her, which he did quickly, and made his arrival known by
tipping Mrs. Briggs slightly on the waist, and suddenly bouncing
down before her and her friend, both of the latter drew back
"Law, Mr. Billings!" says Mrs. Polly, rather coolly, "is it you?
Who thought of seeing you here?"
"Who's this here young feller?" says towering Mr. Moffat, with his
"It's Mr. Billings, cousin, a friend of mine," said Mrs. Polly,
"Oh, cousin, if it's a friend of yours, he should know better how to
conduct himself, that's all. Har you a dancing-master, young
feller, that you cut them there capers before gentlemen?" growled
Mr. Moffat; who hated Mr. Billings, for the excellent reason that he
lived upon him.
"Dancing-master be hanged!" said Mr. Billings, with becoming spirit:
"if you call me dancing-master, I'll pull your nose."
"What!" roared Mr. Moffat, "pull my nose? MY NOSE! I'll tell you
what, my lad, if you durst move me, I'll cut your throat, curse me!"
"Oh, Moffy--cousin, I mean--'tis a shame to treat the poor boy so.
Go away, Tommy; do go away; my cousin's in liquor," whimpered Madam
Briggs, who really thought that the great doorkeeper would put his
threat into execution.
"Tommy!" said Mr. Moffat, frowning horribly; "Tommy to me too? Dog,
get out of my ssss---" SIGHT was the word which Mr. Moffat intended
to utter; but he was interrupted; for, to the astonishment of his
friends and himself, Mr. Billings did actually make a spring at the
monster's nose, and caught it so firmly, that the latter could not
finish his sentence.
The operation was performed with amazing celerity; and, having
concluded it, Mr. Billings sprang back, and whisked from out its
sheath that new silver-hilted sword which his mamma had given him.
"Now," said he, with a fierce kind of calmness, "now for the
throat-cutting, cousin: I'm your man!"
How the brawl might have ended, no one can say, had the two
gentlemen actually crossed swords; but Mrs. Polly, with a wonderful
presence of mind, restored peace by exclaiming, "Hush, hush! the
beaks, the beaks!" Upon which, with one common instinct, the whole
party made a rush for the garden gates, and disappeared into the
fields. Mrs. Briggs knew her company: there was something in the
very name of a constable which sent them all a-flying.
After running a reasonable time, Mr. Billings stopped. But the
great Moffat was nowhere to be seen, and Polly Briggs had likewise
vanished. Then Tom bethought him that he would go back to his
mother; but, arriving at the gate of the gardens, was refused
admittance, as he had not a shilling in his pocket. "I've left,"
says Tommy, giving himself the airs of a gentleman, "some friends in
the gardens. I'm with his Excellency the Bavarian henvy."
"Then you had better go away with him," said the gate people.
"But I tell you I left him there, in the grand circle, with a lady;
and, what's more, in the dark walk, I have left a silver-hilted
"Oh, my Lord, I'll go and tell him then," cried one of the porters,
"if you will wait."
Mr. Billings seated himself on a post near the gate, and there
consented to remain until the return of his messenger. The latter
went straight to the dark walk, and found the sword, sure enough.
But, instead of returning it to its owner this discourteous knight
broke the trenchant blade at the hilt; and flinging the steel away,
pocketed the baser silver metal, and lurked off by the private door
consecrated to the waiters and fiddlers.
In the meantime, Mr. Billings waited and waited. And what was the
conversation of his worthy parents inside the garden? I cannot say;
but one of the waiters declared that he had served the great foreign
Count with two bowls of rack-punch, and some biscuits, in No. 3:
that in the box with him were first a young gentleman, who went
away, and a lady, splendidly dressed and masked: that when the lady
and his Lordship were alone, she edged away to the further end of
the table, and they had much talk: that at last, when his Grace had
pressed her very much, she took off her mask and said, "Don't you
know me now, Max?" that he cried out, "My own Catherine, thou art
more beautiful than ever!" and wanted to kneel down and vow eternal
love to her; but she begged him not to do so in a place where all
the world would see: that then his Highness paid, and they left the
gardens, the lady putting on her mask again.
When they issued from the gardens, "Ho! Joseph la Rose, my coach!"
shouted his Excellency, in rather a husky voice; and the men who had
been waiting came up with the carriage. A young gentleman, who was
dosing on one of the posts at the entry, woke up suddenly at the
blaze of the torches and the noise of the footmen. The Count gave
his arm to the lady in the mask, who slipped in; and he was
whispering La Rose, when the lad who had been sleeping hit his
Excellency on the shoulder, and said, "I say, Count, you can give ME
a cast home too," and jumped into the coach.
When Catherine saw her son, she threw herself into his arms, and
kissed him with a burst of hysterical tears; of which Mr. Billings
was at a loss to understand the meaning. The Count joined them,
looking not a little disconcerted; and the pair were landed at their
own door, where stood Mr. Hayes, in his nightcap, ready to receive
them, and astounded at the splendour of the equipage in which his
wife returned to him.
CHAPTER XI. OF SOME DOMESTIC QUARRELS, AND THE CONSEQUENCE THEREOF.
An ingenious magazine-writer, who lived in the time of Mr. Brock and
the Duke of Marlborough, compared the latter gentleman's conduct in
battle, when he
"In peaceful thought the field of death surveyed,
To fainting squadrons lent the timely aid;
Inspired repulsed battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage"--
Mr. Joseph Addison, I say, compared the Duke of Marlborough to an
angel, who is sent by Divine command to chastise a guilty people--
"And pleased his Master's orders to perform,
Rides on the whirlwind, and directs the storm."
The first four of these novel lines touch off the Duke's disposition
and genius to a tittle. He had a love for such scenes of strife:
in the midst of them his spirit rose calm and supreme, soaring (like
an angel or not, but anyway the compliment is a very pretty one) on
the battle-clouds majestic, and causing to ebb or to flow the mighty
tide of war.
But as this famous simile might apply with equal propriety--to a bad
angel as to a good one, it may in like manner be employed to
illustrate small quarrels as well as great--a little family
squabble, in which two or three people are engaged, as well as a
vast national dispute, argued on each side by the roaring throats of
five hundred angry cannon. The poet means, in fact, that the Duke
of Marlborough had an immense genius for mischief.
Our friend Brock, or Wood (whose actions we love to illustrate by
the very handsomest similes), possessed this genius in common with
his Grace; and was never so happy, or seen to so much advantage, as
when he was employed in setting people by the ears. His spirits,
usually dull, then rose into the utmost gaiety and good-humour.
When the doubtful battle flagged, he by his art would instantly
restore it. When, for instance, Tom's repulsed battalions of
rhetoric fled from his mamma's fire, a few words of apt sneer or
encouragement on Wood's part would bring the fight round again; or
when Mr. Hayes's fainting squadrons of abuse broke upon the stubborn
squares of Tom's bristling obstinacy, it was Wood's delight to rally
the former, and bring him once more to the charge. A great share
had this man in making those bad people worse. Many fierce words
and bad passions, many falsehoods and knaveries on Tom's part, much
bitterness, scorn, and jealousy on the part of Hayes and Catherine,
might be attributed to this hoary old tempter, whose joy and
occupation it was to raise and direct the domestic storms and
whirlwinds of the family of which he was a member. And do not let
us be accused of an undue propensity to use sounding words, because
we compare three scoundrels in the Tyburn Road to so many armies,
and Mr. Wood to a mighty field-marshal. My dear sir, when you have
well studied the world--how supremely great the meanest thing in
this world is, and how infinitely mean the greatest--I am mistaken
if you do not make a strange and proper jumble of the sublime and
the ridiculous, the lofty and the low. I have looked at the world,
for my part, and come to the conclusion that I know not which is
Well, then, on the night when Mrs Hayes, as recorded by us, had been
to the Marylebone Gardens, Mr. Wood had found the sincerest
enjoyment in plying her husband with drink; so that, when Catherine
arrived at home, Mr. Hayes came forward to meet her in a manner
which showed he was not only surly, but drunk. Tom stepped out of
the coach first; and Hayes asked him, with an oath, where he had
been? The oath Mr. Billings sternly flung back again (with another
in its company), and at the same time refused to give his stepfather
any sort of answer to his query.
"The old man is drunk, mother," said he to Mrs. Hayes, as he handed
that lady out of the coach (before leaving which she had to withdraw
her hand rather violently from the grasp of the Count, who was
inside). Hayes instantly showed the correctness of his surmise by
slamming the door courageously in Tom's face, when he attempted to
enter the house with his mother. And when Mrs. Catherine
remonstrated, according to her wont, in a very angry and
supercilious tone, Mr. Hayes replied with equal haughtiness, and a
regular quarrel ensued.
People were accustomed in those days to use much more simple and
expressive terms of language than are now thought polite; and it
would be dangerous to give, in this present year 1840, the exact
words of reproach which passed between Hayes and his wife in 1726.
Mr. Wood sat near, laughing his sides out. Mr. Hayes swore that his
wife should not go abroad to tea-gardens in search of vile Popish
noblemen; to which Mrs. Hayes replied, that Mr. Hayes was a pitiful,
lying, sneaking cur, and that she would go where she pleased. Mr.
Hayes rejoined that if she said much more he would take a stick to
her. Mr. Wood whispered, "And serve her right." Mrs. Hayes
thereupon swore she had stood his cowardly blows once or twice
before, but that if ever he did so again, as sure as she was born,
she would stab him. Mr. Wood said, "Curse me, but I like her
Mr. Hayes took another line of argument, and said, "The neighbours
would talk, madam."
"Ay, that they will, no doubt," said Mr. Wood.
"Then let them," said Catherine. "What do we care about the
neighbours? Didn't the neighbours talk when you sent Widow Wilkins
to gaol? Didn't the neighbours talk when you levied on poor old
Thomson? You didn't mind THEN, Mr, Hayes."
"Business, ma'am, is business; and if I did distrain on Thomson, and
lock up Wilkins, I think you knew about it as much as I."