Part 10 out of 10
With locked doors, and Colonel Esmond acting as secretary, the
Prince and his Lordship of Rochester passed many hours of this day,
composing Proclamations and Addresses to the Country, to the Scots,
to the Clergy, to the People of London and England; announcing the
arrival of the exile descendant of three sovereigns, and his
acknowledgment by his sister as heir to the throne. Every safeguard
for their liberties, the Church and People could ask, was promised
to them. The Bishop could answer for the adhesion of very many
prelates, who besought of their flocks and brother ecclesiastics to
recognize the sacred right of the future sovereign, and to purge the
country of the sin of rebellion.
During the composition of these papers, more messengers than one
came from the Palace regarding the state of the august patient
there lying. At mid-day she was somewhat better; at evening the
torpor again seized her, and she wandered in her mind. At night
Dr. A---- was with us again, with a report rather more favorable:
no instant danger at any rate was apprehended. In the course of
the last two years her Majesty had had many attacks similar, but
By this time we had finished a half-dozen of Proclamations, (the
wording of them so as to offend no parties, and not to give umbrage
to Whigs or Dissenters, required very great caution,) and the young
Prince, who had indeed shown, during a long day's labor, both
alacrity at seizing the information given him, and ingenuity and
skill in turning the phrases which were to go out signed by his
name, here exhibited a good-humor and thoughtfulness that ought to
be set down to his credit.
"Were these papers to be mislaid," says he, "or our scheme to come
to mishap, my Lord Esmond's writing would bring him to a place
where I heartily hope never to see him; and so, by your leave, I
will copy the papers myself, though I am not very strong in
spelling; and if they are found they will implicate none but the
person they most concern;" and so, having carefully copied the
Proclamations out, the Prince burned those in Colonel Esmond's
handwriting: "And now, and now, gentlemen," says he, "let us go to
supper, and drink a glass with the ladies. My Lord Esmond, you
will sup with us to-night; you have given us of late too little of
The Prince's meals were commonly served in the chamber which had
been Beatrix's bedroom, adjoining that in which he slept. And the
dutiful practice of his entertainers was to wait until their Royal
guest bade them take their places at table before they sat down to
partake of the meal. On this night, as you may suppose, only Frank
Castlewood and his mother were in waiting when the supper was
announced to receive the Prince; who had passed the whole of the
day in his own apartment, with the Bishop as his Minister of State,
and Colonel Esmond officiating as Secretary of his Council.
The Prince's countenance wore an expression by no means pleasant;
when looking towards the little company assembled, and waiting for
him, he did not see Beatrix's bright face there as usual to greet
him. He asked Lady Esmond for his fair introducer of yesterday:
her ladyship only cast her eyes down, and said quietly, Beatrix
could not be of the supper that night; nor did she show the least
sign of confusion, whereas Castlewood turned red, and Esmond was no
less embarrassed. I think women have an instinct of dissimulation;
they know by nature how to disguise their emotions far better than
the most consummate male courtiers can do. Is not the better part
of the life of many of them spent in hiding their feelings, in
cajoling their tyrants, in masking over with fond smiles and artful
gayety, their doubt, or their grief, or their terror?
Our guest swallowed his supper very sulkily; it was not till the
second bottle his Highness began to rally. When Lady Castlewood
asked leave to depart, he sent a message to Beatrix, hoping she
would be present at the next day's dinner, and applied himself to
drink, and to talk afterwards, for which there was subject in
The next day, we heard from our informer at Kensington that the
Queen was somewhat better, and had been up for an hour, though she
was not well enough yet to receive any visitor.
At dinner a single cover was laid for his Royal Highness; and the
two gentlemen alone waited on him. We had had a consultation in
the morning with Lady Castlewood, in which it had been determined
that, should his Highness ask further questions about Beatrix, he
should be answered by the gentlemen of the house.
He was evidently disturbed and uneasy, looking towards the door
constantly, as if expecting some one. There came, however, nobody,
except honest John Lockwood, when he knocked with a dish, which
those within took from him; so the meals were always arranged, and
I believe the council in the kitchen were of opinion that my young
lord had brought over a priest, who had converted us all into
Papists, and that Papists were like Jews, eating together, and not
choosing to take their meals in the sight of Christians.
The Prince tried to cover his displeasure; he was but a clumsy
dissembler at that time, and when out of humor could with
difficulty keep a serene countenance; and having made some foolish
attempts at trivial talk, he came to his point presently, and in as
easy a manner as he could, saying to Lord Castlewood, he hoped, he
requested, his lordship's mother and sister would be of the supper
that night. As the time hung heavy on him, and he must not go
abroad, would not Miss Beatrix hold him company at a game of cards?
At this, looking up at Esmond, and taking the signal from him, Lord
Castlewood informed his Royal Highness* that his sister Beatrix was
not at Kensington; and that her family had thought it best she
should quit the town.
* In London we addressed the Prince as Royal Highness invariably,
though the women persisted in giving him the title of King.
"Not at Kensington!" says he; "is she ill? she was well yesterday;
wherefore should she quit the town? Is it at your orders, my lord,
or Colonel Esmond's, who seems the master of this house?"
"Not of this, sir," says Frank very nobly, "only of our house in
the country, which he hath given to us. This is my mother's house,
and Walcote is my father's, and the Marquis of Esmond knows he hath
but to give his word, and I return his to him."
"The Marquis of Esmond!--the Marquis of Esmond," says the Prince,
tossing off a glass, "meddles too much with my affairs, and
presumes on the service he hath done me. If you want to carry your
suit with Beatrix, my lord, by blocking her up in gaol, let me tell
you that is not the way to win a woman."
"I was not aware, sir, that I had spoken of my suit to Madam
Beatrix to your Royal Highness."
"Bah, bah, Monsieur! we need not be a conjurer to see that. It
makes itself seen at all moments. You are jealous, my lord, and
the maid of honor cannot look at another face without yours
beginning to scowl. That which you do is unworthy, Monsieur; is
inhospitable--is, is lache, yes, lache: (he spoke rapidly in
French, his rage carrying him away with each phrase:) "I come to
your house; I risk my life; I pass it in ennui; I repose myself on
your fidelity; I have no company but your lordship's sermons or the
conversations of that adorable young lady, and you take her from
me, and you, you rest! Merci, Monsieur! I shall thank you when I
have the means; I shall know to recompense a devotion a little
importunate, my lord--a little importunate. For a month past your
airs of protector have annoyed me beyond measure. You deign to
offer me the crown, and bid me take it on my knees like King John--
eh! I know my history, Monsieur, and mock myself of frowning
barons. I admire your mistress, and you send her to a Bastile of
the Province; I enter your house, and you mistrust me. I will
leave it, Monsieur; from to-night I will leave it. I have other
friends whose loyalty will not be so ready to question mine. If I
have garters to give away, 'tis to noblemen who are not so ready to
think evil. Bring me a coach and let me quit this place, or let
the fair Beatrix return to it. I will not have your hospitality at
the expense of the freedom of that fair creature."
This harangue was uttered with rapid gesticulation such as the
French use, and in the language of that nation. The Prince
striding up and down the room; his face flushed, and his hands
trembling with anger. He was very thin and frail from repeated
illness and a life of pleasure. Either Castlewood or Esmond could
have broke him across their knee, and in half a minute's struggle
put an end to him; and here he was insulting us both, and scarce
deigning to hide from the two, whose honor it most concerned, the
passion he felt for the young lady of our family. My Lord
Castlewood replied to the Prince's tirade very nobly and simply.
"Sir," says he, "your Royal Highness is pleased to forget that
others risk their lives, and for your cause. Very few Englishmen,
please God, would dare to lay hands on your sacred person, though
none would ever think of respecting ours. Our family's lives are
at your service, and everything we have except our honor."
"Honor! bah, sir, who ever thought of hurting your honor?" says the
Prince with a peevish air.
"We implore your Royal Highness never to think of hurting it," says
Lord Castlewood with a low bow. The night being warm, the windows
were open both towards the Gardens and the Square. Colonel Esmond
heard through the closed door the voice of the watchman calling the
hour, in the square on the other side. He opened the door
communicating with the Prince's room; Martin, the servant that had
rode with Beatrix to Hounslow, was just going out of the chamber as
Esmond entered it, and when the fellow was gone, and the watchman
again sang his cry of "Past ten o'clock, and a starlight night,"
Esmond spoke to the Prince in a low voice, and said--"Your Royal
Highness hears that man."
"Apres, Monsieur?" says the Prince.
"I have but to beckon him from the window, and send him fifty
yards, and he returns with a guard of men, and I deliver up to him
the body of the person calling himself James the Third, for whose
capture Parliament hath offered a reward of 500L., as your Royal
Highness saw on our ride from Rochester. I have but to say the
word, and, by the heaven that made me, I would say it if I thought
the Prince, for his honor's sake, would not desist from insulting
ours. But the first gentleman of England knows his duty too well
to forget himself with the humblest, or peril his crown for a deed
that were shameful if it were done."
"Has your lordship anything to say," says the Prince, turning to
Frank Castlewood, and quite pale with anger; "any threat or any
insult, with which you would like to end this agreeable night's
"I follow the head of our house," says Castlewood, bowing gravely.
"At what time shall it please the Prince that we should wait upon
him in the morning?"
"You will wait on the Bishop of Rochester early, you will bid him
bring his coach hither; and prepare an apartment for me in his own
house, or in a place of safety. The King will reward you handsomely,
never fear, for all you have done in his behalf. I wish you a good
night, and shall go to bed, unless it pleases the Marquis of Esmond
to call his colleague, the watchman, and that I should pass the
night with the Kensington guard. Fare you well, be sure I will
remember you. My Lord Castlewood, I can go to bed to-night without
need of a chamberlain." And the Prince dismissed us with a grim
bow, locking one door as he spoke, that into the supping-room, and
the other through which we passed, after us. It led into the small
chamber which Frank Castlewood or MONSIEUR BAPTISTE occupied, and by
which Martin entered when Colonel Esmond but now saw him in the
At an early hour next morning the Bishop arrived, and was closeted
for some time with his master in his own apartment, where the
Prince laid open to his counsellor the wrongs which, according to
his version, he had received from the gentlemen of the Esmond
family. The worthy prelate came out from the conference with an
air of great satisfaction; he was a man full of resources, and of a
most assured fidelity, and possessed of genius, and a hundred good
qualities; but captious and of a most jealous temper, that could
not help exulting at the downfall of any favorite; and he was
pleased in spite of himself to hear that the Esmond Ministry was at
"I have soothed your guest," says he, coming out to the two
gentlemen and the widow; who had been made acquainted with somewhat
of the dispute of the night before. (By the version we gave her,
the Prince was only made to exhibit anger because we doubted of his
intentions in respect to Beatrix; and to leave us, because we
questioned his honor.) "But I think, all things considered, 'tis
as well he should leave this house; and then, my Lady Castlewood,"
says the Bishop, "my pretty Beatrix may come back to it."
"She is quite as well at home at Castlewood," Esmond's mistress
said, "till everything is over."
"You shall have your title, Esmond, that I promise you," says the
good Bishop, assuming the airs of a Prime Minister. "The Prince
hath expressed himself most nobly in regard of the little
difference of last night, and I promise you he hath listened to my
sermon, as well as to that of other folks," says the Doctor,
archly; "he hath every great and generous quality, with perhaps a
weakness for the sex which belongs to his family, and hath been
known in scores of popular sovereigns from King David downwards."
"My lord, my lord!" breaks out Lady Esmond, "the levity with which
you speak of such conduct towards our sex shocks me, and what you
call weakness I call deplorable sin."
"Sin it is, my dear creature," says the Bishop, with a shrug,
taking snuff; "but consider what a sinner King Solomon was, and in
spite of a thousand of wives too."
"Enough of this, my lord," says Lady Castlewood, with a fine blush,
and walked out of the room very stately.
The Prince entered it presently with a smile on his face, and if he
felt any offence against us on the previous night, at present
exhibited none. He offered a hand to each gentleman with great
courtesy. "If all your bishops preach so well as Doctor
Atterbury." says he, "I don't know, gentlemen, what may happen to
me. I spoke very hastily, my lords, last night, and ask pardon of
both of you. But I must not stay any longer," says he, "giving
umbrage to good friends, or keeping pretty girls away from their
homes. My Lord Bishop hath found a safe place for me, hard by at a
curate's house, whom the Bishop can trust, and whose wife is so
ugly as to be beyond all danger; we will decamp into those new
quarters, and I leave you, thanking you for a hundred kindnesses
here. Where is my hostess, that I may bid her farewell; to welcome
her in a house of my own, soon, I trust, where my friends shall
have no cause to quarrel with me."
Lady Castlewood arrived presently, blushing with great grace, and
tears filling her eyes as the Prince graciously saluted her. She
looked so charming and young, that the doctor, in his bantering
way, could not help speaking of her beauty to the Prince; whose
compliment made her blush, and look more charming still.
A GREAT SCHEME, AND WHO BALKED IT.
As characters written with a secret ink come out with the
application of fire, and disappear again and leave the paper white,
as soon as it is cool; a hundred names of men, high in repute and
favoring the Prince's cause, that were writ in our private lists,
would have been visible enough on the great roll of the conspiracy,
had it ever been laid open under the sun. What crowds would have
pressed forward, and subscribed their names and protested their
loyalty, when the danger was over! What a number of Whigs, now
high in place and creatures of the all-powerful Minister, scorned
Mr. Walpole then! If ever a match was gained by the manliness and
decision of a few at a moment of danger; if ever one was lost by
the treachery and imbecility of those that had the cards in their
hands, and might have played them, it was in that momentous game
which was enacted in the next three days, and of which the noblest
crown in the world was the stake.
From the conduct of my Lord Bolingbroke, those who were interested
in the scheme we had in hand, saw pretty well that he was not to be
trusted. Should the Prince prevail, it was his lordship's gracious
intention to declare for him: should the Hanoverian party bring in
their sovereign, who more ready to go on his knee, and cry, "God
Save King George?" And he betrayed the one Prince and the other;
but exactly at the wrong time. When he should have struck for King
James, he faltered and coquetted with the Whigs; and having
committed himself by the most monstrous professions of devotion,
which the Elector rightly scorned, he proved the justness of their
contempt for him by flying and taking renegade service with St.
Germains, just when he should have kept aloof: and that Court
despised him, as the manly and resolute men who established the
Elector in England had before done. He signed his own name to
every accusation of insincerity his enemies made against him; and
the King and the Pretender alike could show proofs of St. John's
treachery under his own hand and seal.
Our friends kept a pretty close watch upon his motions, as on those
of the brave and hearty Whig party, that made little concealment of
theirs. They would have in the Elector, and used every means in
their power to effect their end. My Lord Marlborough was now with
them. His expulsion from power by the Tories had thrown that great
captain at once on the Whig side. We heard he was coming from
Antwerp; and, in fact, on the day of the Queen's death, he once
more landed on English shore. A great part of the army was always
with their illustrious leader; even the Tories in it were indignant
at the injustice of the persecution which the Whig officers were
made to undergo. The chiefs of these were in London, and at the
head of them one of the most intrepid men in the world, the Scots
Duke of Argyle, whose conduct on the second day after that to which
I have now brought down my history, ended, as such honesty and
bravery deserved to end, by establishing the present Royal race on
the English throne.
Meanwhile there was no slight difference of opinion amongst the
councillors surrounding the Prince, as to the plan his Highness
should pursue. His female Minister at Court, fancying she saw some
amelioration in the Queen, was for waiting a few days, or hours it
might be, until he could be brought to her bedside, and
acknowledged as her heir. Mr. Esmond was for having him march
thither, escorted by a couple of troops of Horse Guards, and openly
presenting himself to the Council. During the whole of the night
of the 29th-30th July, the Colonel was engaged with gentlemen of
the military profession, whom 'tis needless here to name; suffice
it to say that several of them had exceeding high rank in the army,
and one of them in especial was a General, who, when he heard the
Duke of Marlborough was coming on the other side, waved his crutch
over his head with a huzzah, at the idea that he should march out
and engage him. Of the three Secretaries of State, we knew that
one was devoted to us. The Governor of the Tower was ours; the two
companies on duty at Kensington barrack were safe; and we had
intelligence, very speedy and accurate, of all that took place at
the Palace within.
At noon, on the 30th of July, a message came to the Prince's
friends that the Committee of Council was sitting at Kensington
Palace, their Graces of Ormonde and Shrewsbury, the Archbishop of
Canterbury and the three Secretaries of State, being there
assembled. In an hour afterwards, hurried news was brought that
the two great Whig Dukes, Argyle and Somerset, had broke into the
Council-chamber without a summons, and taken their seat at table.
After holding a debate there, the whole party proceeded to the
chamber of the Queen, who was lying in great weakness, but still
sensible, and the Lords recommended his Grace of Shrewsbury as the
fittest person to take the vacant place of Lord Treasurer; her
Majesty gave him the staff, as all know. "And now," writ my
messenger from Court, "NOW OR NEVER IS THE TIME."
Now or never was the time indeed. In spite of the Whig Dukes, our
side had still the majority in the Council, and Esmond, to whom the
message had been brought, (the personage at Court not being aware
that the Prince had quitted his lodging in Kensington Square,) and
Esmond's gallant young aide-de-camp, Frank Castlewood, putting on
sword and uniform, took a brief leave of their dear lady, who
embraced and blessed them both, and went to her chamber to pray for
the issue of the great event which was then pending.
Castlewood sped to the barrack to give warning to the captain of
the Guard there; and then went to the "King's Arms" tavern at
Kensington, where our friends were assembled, having come by
parties of twos and threes, riding or in coaches, and were got
together in the upper chamber, fifty-three of them; their servants,
who had been instructed to bring arms likewise, being below in the
garden of the tavern, where they were served with drink. Out of
this garden is a little door that leads into the road of the
Palace, and through this it was arranged that masters and servants
were to march; when that signal was given, and that Personage
appeared, for whom all were waiting. There was in our company the
famous officer next in command to the Captain-General of the
Forces, his Grace the Duke of Ormonde, who was within at the
Council. There were with him two more lieutenant-generals, nine
major-generals and brigadiers, seven colonels, eleven Peers of
Parliament, and twenty-one members of the House of Commons. The
Guard was with us within and without the Palace: the Queen was with
us; the Council (save the two Whig Dukes, that must have
succumbed); the day was our own, and with a beating heart Esmond
walked rapidly to the Mall of Kensington, where he had parted with
the Prince on the night before. For three nights the Colonel had
not been to bed: the last had been passed summoning the Prince's
friends together, of whom the great majority had no sort of inkling
of the transaction pending until they were told that he was
actually on the spot, and were summoned to strike the blow. The
night before and after the altercation with the Prince, my
gentleman, having suspicions of his Royal Highness, and fearing
lest he should be minded to give us the slip, and fly off after his
fugitive beauty, had spent, if the truth must be told, at the
"Greyhound" tavern, over against my Lady Castlewood's house in
Kensington Square, with an eye on the door, lest the Prince should
escape from it. The night before that he had passed in his boots
at the "Crown" at Hounslow, where he must watch forsooth all night,
in order to get one moment's glimpse of Beatrix in the morning.
And fate had decreed that he was to have a fourth night's ride and
wakefulness before his business was ended.
He ran to the curate's house in Kensington Mall, and asked for Mr.
Bates, the name the Prince went by. The curate's wife said Mr.
Bates had gone abroad very early in the morning in his boots,
saying he was going to the Bishop of Rochester's house at Chelsey.
But the Bishop had been at Kensington himself two hours ago to seek
for Mr. Bates, and had returned in his coach to his own house, when
he heard that the gentleman was gone thither to seek him.
This absence was most unpropitious, for an hour's delay might cost
a kingdom; Esmond had nothing for it but to hasten to the "King's
Arms," and tell the gentlemen there assembled that Mr. George (as
we called the Prince there) was not at home, but that Esmond would
go fetch him; and taking a General's coach that happened to be
there, Esmond drove across the country to Chelsey, to the Bishop's
The porter said two gentlemen were with his lordship, and Esmond
ran past this sentry up to the locked door of the Bishop's study,
at which he rattled, and was admitted presently. Of the Bishop's
guests one was a brother prelate, and the other the Abbe G----.
"Where is Mr. George?" says Mr. Esmond; "now is the time." The
Bishop looked scared: "I went to his lodging," he said, "and they
told me he was come hither. I returned as quick as coach would
carry me; and he hath not been here."
The Colonel burst out with an oath; that was all he could say to
their reverences; ran down the stairs again, and bidding the
coachman, an old friend and fellow-campaigner, drive as if he was
charging the French with his master at Wynendael--they were back at
Kensington in half an hour.
Again Esmond went to the curate's house. Mr. Bates had not
returned. The Colonel had to go with this blank errand to the
gentlemen at the "King's Arms," that were grown very impatient by
Out of the window of the tavern, and looking over the garden wall,
you can see the green before Kensington Palace, the Palace gate
(round which the Ministers' coaches were standing), and the barrack
building. As we were looking out from this window in gloomy
discourse, we heard presently trumpets blowing, and some of us ran
to the window of the front-room, looking into the High Street of
Kensington, and saw a regiment of Horse coming.
"It's Ormonde's Guards," says one.
"No, by God, it's Argyle's old regiment!" says my General, clapping
down his crutch.
It was, indeed, Argyle's regiment that was brought from Westminster,
and that took the place of the regiment at Kensington on which we
"Oh, Harry!" says one of the generals there present, "you were born
under an unlucky star; I begin to think that there's no Mr. George,
nor Mr. Dragon either. 'Tis not the peerage I care for, for our
name is so ancient and famous, that merely to be called Lord
Lydiard would do me no good; but 'tis the chance you promised me of
As we were talking, Castlewood entered the room with a disturbed
"What news, Frank?" says the Colonel. "Is Mr. George coming at
"Damn him, look here!" says Castlewood, holding out a paper. "I
found it in the book--the what you call it, 'Eikum Basilikum,'--
that villain Martin put it there--he said his young mistress bade
him. It was directed to me, but it was meant for him I know, and I
broke the seal and read it."
The whole assembly of officers seemed to swim away before Esmond's
eyes as he read the paper; all that was written on it was:--
"Beatrix Esmond is sent away to prison, to Castlewood, where she
will pray for happier days."
"Can you guess where he is?" says Castlewood.
"Yes," says Colonel Esmond. He knew full well, Frank knew full
well: our instinct told whither that traitor had fled.
He had courage to turn to the company and say, "Gentlemen, I fear
very much that Mr. George will not be here to-day; something hath
happened--and--and--I very much fear some accident may befall him,
which must keep him out of the way. Having had your noon's
draught, you had best pay the reckoning and go home; there can be
no game where there is no one to play it."
Some of the gentlemen went away without a word, others called to
pay their duty to her Majesty and ask for her health. The little
army disappeared into the darkness out of which it had been called;
there had been no writings, no paper to implicate any man. Some
few officers and Members of Parliament had been invited over night
to breakfast at the "King's Arms," at Kensington; and they had
called for their bill and gone home.
AUGUST 1ST, 1714.
"Does my mistress know of this?" Esmond asked of Frank, as they
"My mother found the letter in the book, on the toilet-table. She
had writ it ere she had left home," Frank said. "Mother met her on
the stairs, with her hand upon the door, trying to enter, and never
left her after that till she went away. He did not think of
looking at it there, nor had Martin the chance of telling him. I
believe the poor devil meant no harm, though I half killed him; he
thought 'twas to Beatrix's brother he was bringing the letter."
Frank never said a word of reproach to me for having brought the
villain amongst us. As we knocked at the door I said, "When will
the horses be ready?" Frank pointed with his cane, they were
turning the street that moment.
We went up and bade adieu to our mistress; she was in a dreadful
state of agitation by this time, and that Bishop was with her whose
company she was so fond of.
"Did you tell him, my lord," says Esmond, "that Beatrix was at
Castlewood?" The Bishop blushed and stammered: "Well," says he,
"I . . ."
"You served the villain right," broke out Mr. Esmond, "and he has
lost a crown by what you told him."
My mistress turned quite white, "Henry, Henry," says she, "do not
"It may not be too late," says Esmond; "he may not have gone to
Castlewood; pray God, it is not too late." The Bishop was breaking
out with some banale phrases about loyalty, and the sacredness of
the Sovereign's person; but Esmond sternly bade him hold his
tongue, burn all papers, and take care of Lady Castlewood; and in
five minutes he and Frank were in the saddle, John Lockwood behind
them, riding towards Castlewood at a rapid pace.
We were just got to Alton, when who should meet us but old
Lockwood, the porter from Castlewood, John's father, walking by the
side of the Hexton flying-coach, who slept the night at Alton.
Lockwood said his young mistress had arrived at home on Wednesday
night, and this morning, Friday, had despatched him with a packet
for my lady at Kensington, saying the letter was of great
We took the freedom to break it, while Lockwood stared with wonder,
and cried out his "Lord bless me's," and "Who'd a thought it's," at
the sight of his young lord, whom he had not seen these seven
The packet from Beatrix contained no news of importance at all. It
was written in a jocular strain, affecting to make light of her
captivity. She asked whether she might have leave to visit Mrs.
Tusher, or to walk beyond the court and the garden wall. She gave
news of the peacocks, and a fawn she had there. She bade her
mother send her certain gowns and smocks by old Lockwood; she sent
her duty to a certain Person, if certain other persons permitted
her to take such a freedom; how that, as she was not able to play
cards with him, she hoped he would read good books, such as Doctor
Atterbury's sermons and "Eikon Basilike:" she was going to read
good books; she thought her pretty mamma would like to know she was
not crying her eyes out.
"Who is in the house besides you, Lockwood?" says the Colonel.
"There be the laundry-maid, and the kitchen-maid, Madam Beatrix's
maid, the man from London, and that be all; and he sleepeth in my
lodge away from the maids," says old Lockwood.
Esmond scribbled a line with a pencil on the note, giving it to the
old man, and bidding him go on to his lady. We knew why Beatrix
had been so dutiful on a sudden, and why she spoke of "Eikon
Basilike." She writ this letter to put the Prince on the scent,
and the porter out of the way.
"We have a fine moonlight night for riding on," says Esmond;
"Frank, we may reach Castlewood in time yet." All the way along
they made inquiries at the post-houses, when a tall young gentleman
in a gray suit, with a light brown periwig, just the color of my
lord's, had been seen to pass. He had set off at six that morning,
and we at three in the afternoon. He rode almost as quickly as we
had done; he was seven hours a-head of us still when we reached the
We rode over Castlewood Downs before the breaking of dawn. We
passed the very spot where the car was upset fourteen years since,
and Mohun lay. The village was not up yet, nor the forge lighted,
as we rode through it, passing by the elms, where the rooks were
still roosting, and by the church, and over the bridge. We got off
our horses at the bridge and walked up to the gate.
"If she is safe," says Frank, trembling, and his honest eyes
filling with tears, "a silver statue to Our Lady!" He was going to
rattle at the great iron knocker on the oak gate; but Esmond
stopped his kinsman's hand. He had his own fears, his own hopes,
his own despairs and griefs, too; but he spoke not a word of these
to his companion, or showed any signs of emotion.
He went and tapped at the little window at the porter's lodge,
gently, but repeatedly, until the man came to the bars.
"Who's there?" says he, looking out; it was the servant from
"My Lord Castlewood and Colonel Esmond," we said, from below.
"Open the gate and let us in without any noise."
"My Lord Castlewood?" says the other; "my lord's here, and in bed."
"Open, d--n you," says Castlewood, with a curse.
"I shall open to no one," says the man, shutting the glass window
as Frank drew a pistol. He would have fired at the porter, but
Esmond again held his hand.
"There are more ways than one," says he, "of entering such a great
house as this." Frank grumbled that the west gate was half a mile
round. "But I know of a way that's not a hundred yards off," says
Mr. Esmond; and leading his kinsman close along the wall, and by
the shrubs which had now grown thick on what had been an old moat
about the house, they came to the buttress, at the side of which
the little window was, which was Father Holt's private door.
Esmond climbed up to this easily, broke a pane that had been
mended, and touched the spring inside, and the two gentlemen passed
in that way, treading as lightly as they could; and so going
through the passage into the court, over which the dawn was now
reddening, and where the fountain plashed in the silence.
They sped instantly to the porter's lodge, where the fellow had not
fastened his door that led into the court; and pistol in hand came
upon the terrified wretch, and bade him be silent. Then they asked
him (Esmond's head reeled, and he almost fell as he spoke) when
Lord Castlewood had arrived? He said on the previous evening,
about eight of the clock.--"And what then?"--His lordship supped
with his sister.--"Did the man wait?" Yes, he and my lady's maid
both waited: the other servants made the supper; and there was no
wine, and they could give his lordship but milk, at which he
grumbled; and--and Madam Beatrix kept Miss Lucy always in the room
with her. And there being a bed across the court in the Chaplain's
room, she had arranged my lord was to sleep there. Madam Beatrix
had come down stairs laughing with the maids, and had locked
herself in, and my lord had stood for a while talking to her
through the door, and she laughing at him. And then he paced the
court awhile, and she came again to the upper window; and my lord
implored her to come down and walk in the room; but she would not,
and laughed at him again, and shut the window; and so my lord,
uttering what seemed curses, but in a foreign language, went to the
Chaplain's room to bed.
"Was this all!"--"All," the man swore upon his honor; all as he
hoped to be saved.--"Stop, there was one thing more. My lord, on
arriving, and once or twice during supper, did kiss his sister, as
was natural, and she kissed him." At this Esmond ground his teeth
with rage, and wellnigh throttled the amazed miscreant who was
speaking, whereas Castlewood, seizing hold of his cousin's hand,
burst into a great fit of laughter.
"If it amuses thee," says Esmond in French, "that your sister
should be exchanging of kisses with a stranger, I fear poor Beatrix
will give thee plenty of sport."--Esmond darkly thought, how
Hamilton, Ashburnham, had before been masters of those roses that
the young Prince's lips were now feeding on. He sickened at that
notion. Her cheek was desecrated, her beauty tarnished; shame and
honor stood between it and him. The love was dead within him; had
she a crown to bring him with her love, he felt that both would
But this wrath against Beatrix did not lessen the angry feelings of
the Colonel against the man who had been the occasion if not the
cause of the evil. Frank sat down on a stone bench in the court-
yard, and fairly fell asleep, while Esmond paced up and down the
court, debating what should ensue. What mattered how much or how
little had passed between the Prince and the poor faithless girl?
They were arrived in time perhaps to rescue her person, but not her
mind; had she not instigated the young Prince to come to her;
suborned servants, dismissed others, so that she might communicate
with him? The treacherous heart within her had surrendered, though
the place was safe; and it was to win this that he had given a
life's struggle and devotion; this, that she was ready to give away
for the bribe of a coronet or a wink of the Prince's eye.
When he had thought his thoughts out he shook up poor Frank from
his sleep, who rose yawning, and said he had been dreaming of
Clotilda. "You must back me," says Esmond, in what I am going to
do. I have been thinking that yonder scoundrel may have been
instructed to tell that story, and that the whole of it may be a
lie; if it be, we shall find it out from the gentleman who is
asleep yonder. See if the door leading to my lady's rooms," (so we
called the rooms at the north-west angle of the house,) "see if the
door is barred as he saith." We tried; it was indeed as the lackey
had said, closed within.
"It may have been opened and shut afterwards," says poor Esmond;
"the foundress of our family let our ancestor in in that way."
"What will you do, Harry, if--if what that fellow saith should turn
out untrue?" The young man looked scared and frightened into his
kinsman's face; I dare say it wore no very pleasant expression.
"Let us first go see whether the two stories agree," says Esmond;
and went in at the passage and opened the door into what had been
his own chamber now for wellnigh five-and-twenty years. A candle
was still burning, and the Prince asleep dressed on the bed--Esmond
did not care for making a noise. The Prince started up in his bed,
seeing two men in his chamber. "Qui est la" says he, and took a
pistol from under his pillow.
"It is the Marquis of Esmond," says the Colonel, "come to welcome
his Majesty to his house of Castlewood, and to report of what hath
happened in London. Pursuant to the King's orders, I passed the
night before last, after leaving his Majesty, in waiting upon the
friends of the King. It is a pity that his Majesty's desire to see
the country and to visit our poor house should have caused the King
to quit London without notice yesterday, when the opportunity
happened which in all human probability may not occur again; and
had the King not chosen to ride to Castlewood, the Prince of Wales
might have slept at St. James's."
"'Sdeath! gentlemen," says the Prince, starting off his bed,
whereon he was lying in his clothes, "the Doctor was with me
yesterday morning, and after watching by my sister all night, told
me I might not hope to see the Queen."
"It would have been otherwise," says Esmond with another bow; "as,
by this time, the Queen may be dead in spite of the Doctor. The
Council was met, a new Treasurer was appointed, the troops were
devoted to the King's cause; and fifty loyal gentlemen of the
greatest names of this kingdom were assembled to accompany the
Prince of Wales, who might have been the acknowledged heir of the
throne, or the possessor of it by this time, had your Majesty not
chosen to take the air. We were ready; there was only one person
that failed us, your Majesty's gracious--"
"Morbleu, Monsieur, you give me too much Majesty," said the Prince,
who had now risen up and seemed to be looking to one of us to help
him to his coat. But neither stirred.
"We shall take care," says Esmond, "not much oftener to offend in
"What mean you, my lord?" says the Prince, and muttered something
about a guet-a-pens, which Esmond caught up.
"The snare, Sir," said he, "was not of our laying; it is not we
that invited you. We came to avenge, and not to compass, the
dishonor of our family."
"Dishonor! Morbleu, there has been no dishonor," says the Prince,
turning scarlet, "only a little harmless playing."
"That was meant to end seriously."
"I swear," the Prince broke out impetuously, "upon the honor of a
gentleman, my lords--"
"That we arrived in time. No wrong hath been done, Frank," says
Colonel Esmond, turning round to young Castlewood, who stood at the
door as the talk was going on. "See! here is a paper whereon his
Majesty has deigned to commence some verses in honor, or dishonor,
of Beatrix. Here is 'Madame' and 'Flamme,' 'Cruelle' and
'Rebelle,' and 'Amour' and 'Jour' in the Royal writing and
spelling. Had the Gracious lover been happy, he had not passed his
time in sighing." In fact, and actually as he was speaking, Esmond
cast his eyes down towards the table, and saw a paper on which my
young Prince had been scrawling a madrigal, that was to finish his
charmer on the morrow.
"Sir," says the Prince, burning with rage (he had assumed his Royal
coat unassisted by this time), "did I come here to receive
"To confer them, may it please your Majesty," says the Colonel,
with a very low bow, "and the gentlemen of our family are come to
"Malediction!" says the young man, tears starting into his eyes
with helpless rage and mortification. "What will you with me,
"If your Majesty will please to enter the next apartment," says
Esmond, preserving his grave tone, "I have some papers there which
I would gladly submit to you, and by your permission I will lead
the way;" and, taking the taper up, and backing before the Prince
with very great ceremony, Mr. Esmond passed into the little
Chaplain's room, through which we had just entered into the house:--
"Please to set a chair for his Majesty, Frank," says the Colonel
to his companion, who wondered almost as much at this scene, and
was as much puzzled by it, as the other actor in it. Then going to
the crypt over the mantel-piece, the Colonel opened it, and drew
thence the papers which so long had lain there.
"Here, may it please your Majesty," says he, "is the Patent of
Marquis sent over by your Royal Father at St. Germains to Viscount
Castlewood, my father: here is the witnessed certificate of my
father's marriage to my mother, and of my birth and christening; I
was christened of that religion of which your sainted sire gave all
through life so shining example. These are my titles, dear Frank,
and this what I do with them: here go Baptism and Marriage, and
here the Marquisate and the August Sign-Manual, with which your
predecessor was pleased to honor our race." And as Esmond spoke he
set the papers burning in the brazier. "You will please, sir, to
remember," he continued, "that our family hath ruined itself by
fidelity to yours: that my grandfather spent his estate, and gave
his blood and his son to die for your service; that my dear lord's
grandfather (for lord you are now, Frank, by right and title too)
died for the same cause; that my poor kinswoman, my father's second
wife, after giving away her honor to your wicked perjured race,
sent all her wealth to the King; and got in return, that precious
title that lies in ashes, and this inestimable yard of blue ribbon.
I lay this at your feet and stamp upon it: I draw this sword, and
break it and deny you; and, had you completed the wrong you
designed us, by heaven I would have driven it through your heart,
and no more pardoned you than your father pardoned Monmouth. Frank
will do the same, won't you, cousin?"
Frank, who had been looking on with a stupid air at the papers, as
they flamed in the old brazier, took out his sword and broke it,
holding his head down:--"I go with my cousin," says he, giving
Esmond a grasp of the hand. "Marquis or not, by ---, I stand by
him any day. I beg your Majesty's pardon for swearing; that is--
that is--I'm for the Elector of Hanover. It's all your Majesty's
own fault. The Queen's dead most likely by this time. And you
might have been King if you hadn't come dangling after Trix."
"Thus to lose a crown," says the young Prince, starting up, and
speaking French in his eager way; "to lose the loveliest woman in
the world; to lose the loyalty of such hearts as yours, is not
this, my lords, enough of humiliation?--Marquis, if I go on my
knees will you pardon me?--No, I can't do that, but I can offer you
reparation, that of honor, that of gentlemen. Favor me by crossing
the sword with mine: yours is broke--see, yonder in the armoire are
two;" and the Prince took them out as eager as a boy, and held them
towards Esmond:--"Ah! you will? Merci, monsieur, merci!"
Extremely touched by this immense mark of condescension and
repentance for wrong done, Colonel Esmond bowed down so low as
almost to kiss the gracious young hand that conferred on him such
an honor, and took his guard in silence. The swords were no sooner
met, than Castlewood knocked up Esmond's with the blade of his own,
which he had broke off short at the shell; and the Colonel falling
back a step dropped his point with another very low bow, and
declared himself perfectly satisfied.
"Eh bien, Vicomte!" says the young Prince, who was a boy, and a
French boy, "il ne nous reste qu'une chose a faire:" he placed his
sword upon the table, and the fingers of his two hands upon his
breast:--"We have one more thing to do," says he; "you do not
divine it?" He stretched out his arms:--"Embrassons nous!"
The talk was scarce over when Beatrix entered the room:--What came
she to seek there? She started and turned pale at the sight of her
brother and kinsman, drawn swords, broken sword-blades, and papers
yet smouldering in the brazier.
"Charming Beatrix," says the Prince, with a blush which became him
very well, "these lords have come a-horseback from London, where my
sister lies in a despaired state, and where her successor makes
himself desired. Pardon me for my escapade of last evening. I had
been so long a prisoner, that I seized the occasion of a promenade
on horseback, and my horse naturally bore me towards you. I found
you a Queen in your little court, where you deigned to entertain
me. Present my homages to your maids of honor. I sighed as you
slept, under the window of your chamber, and then retired to seek
rest in my own. It was there that these gentlemen agreeably roused
me. Yes, milords, for that is a happy day that makes a Prince
acquainted, at whatever cost to his vanity, with such a noble heart
as that of the Marquis of Esmond. Mademoiselle, may we take your
coach to town? I saw it in the hangar, and this poor Marquis must
be dropping with sleep."
"Will it please the King to breakfast before he goes?" was all
Beatrix could say. The roses had shuddered out of her cheeks; her
eyes were glaring; she looked quite old. She came up to Esmond and
hissed out a word or two:--"If I did not love you before, cousin,"
says she, "think how I love you now." If words could stab, no
doubt she would have killed Esmond; she looked at him as if she
But her keen words gave no wound to Mr. Esmond; his heart was too
hard. As he looked at her, he wondered that he could ever have
loved her. His love of ten years was over; it fell down dead on
the spot, at the Kensington Tavern, where Frank brought him the
note out of "Eikon Basilike." The Prince blushed and bowed low, as
she gazed at him, and quitted the chamber. I have never seen her
from that day.
Horses were fetched and put to the chariot presently. My lord rode
outside, and as for Esmond he was so tired that he was no sooner in
the carriage than he fell asleep, and never woke till night, as the
coach came into Alton.
As we drove to the "Bell" Inn comes a mitred coach with our old
friend Lockwood beside the coachman. My Lady Castlewood and the
Bishop were inside; she gave a little scream when she saw us. The
two coaches entered the inn almost together; the landlord and
people coming out with lights to welcome the visitors.
We in our coach sprang out of it, as soon as ever we saw the dear
lady, and above all, the Doctor in his cassock. What was the news?
Was there yet time? Was the Queen alive? These questions were put
hurriedly, as Boniface stood waiting before his noble guests to bow
them up the stair.
"Is she safe?" was what Lady Castlewood whispered in a flutter to
"All's well, thank God," says he, as the fond lady took his hand
and kissed it, and called him her preserver and her dear. SHE
wasn't thinking of Queens and crowns.
The Bishop's news was reassuring: at least all was not lost; the
Queen yet breathed, or was alive when they left London, six hours
since. ("It was Lady Castlewood who insisted on coming," the
Doctor said.) Argyle had marched up regiments from Portsmouth, and
sent abroad for more; the Whigs were on the alert, a pest on them,
(I am not sure but the Bishop swore as he spoke,) and so too were
our people. And all might be saved, if only the Prince could be at
London in time. We called for horses, instantly to return to
London. We never went up poor crestfallen Boniface's stairs, but
into our coaches again. The Prince and his Prime Minister in one,
Esmond in the other, with only his dear mistress as a companion.
Castlewood galloped forwards on horseback to gather the Prince's
friends and warn them of his coming. We travelled through the
night. Esmond discoursing to his mistress of the events of the
last twenty-four hours; of Castlewood's ride and his; of the
Prince's generous behavior and their reconciliation. The night
seemed short enough; and the starlit hours passed away serenely in
that fond company.
So we came along the road; the Bishop's coach heading ours; and,
with some delays in procuring horses, we got to Hammersmith about
four o'clock on Sunday morning, the first of August, and half an
hour after, it being then bright day, we rode by my Lady Warwick's
house, and so down the street of Kensington.
Early as the hour was, there was a bustle in the street and many
people moving to and fro. Round the gate leading to the Palace,
where the guard is, there was especially a great crowd. And the
coach ahead of us stopped, and the Bishop's man got down to know
what the concourse meant?
There presently came from out of the gate--Horse Guards with their
trumpets, and a company of heralds with their tabards. The
trumpets blew, and the herald-at-arms came forward and proclaimed
GEORGE, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland,
King, Defender of the Faith. And the people shouted God save the
Among the crowd shouting and waving their hats, I caught sight of
one sad face, which I had known all my life, and seen under many
disguises. It was no other than poor Mr. Holt's, who had slipped
over to England to witness the triumph of the good cause; and now
beheld its enemies victorious, amidst the acclamations of the
English people. The poor fellow had forgot to huzzah or to take
his hat off, until his neighbors in the crowd remarked his want of
loyalty, and cursed him for a Jesuit in disguise, when he ruefully
uncovered and began to cheer. Sure he was the most unlucky of men:
he never played a game but he lost it; or engaged in a conspiracy
but 'twas certain to end in defeat. I saw him in Flanders after
this, whence he went to Rome to the head-quarters of his Order; and
actually reappeared among us in America, very old, and busy, and
hopeful. I am not sure that he did not assume the hatchet and
moccasins there; and, attired in a blanket and war-paint, skulk
about a missionary amongst the Indians. He lies buried in our
neighboring province of Maryland now, with a cross over him, and a
mound of earth above him; under which that unquiet spirit is for
ever at peace.
With the sound of King George's trumpets, all the vain hopes of the
weak and foolish young Pretender were blown away; and with that
music, too, I may say, the drama of my own life was ended. That
happiness, which hath subsequently crowned it, cannot be written in
words; 'tis of its nature sacred and secret, and not to be spoken
of, though the heart be ever so full of thankfulness, save to
Heaven and the One Ear alone--to one fond being, the truest and
tenderest and purest wife ever man was blessed with. As I think of
the immense happiness which was in store for me, and of the depth
and intensity of that love which, for so many years, hath blessed
me, I own to a transport of wonder and gratitude for such a boon--
nay, am thankful to have been endowed with a heart capable of
feeling and knowing the immense beauty and value of the gift which
God hath bestowed upon me. Sure, love vincit omnia; is
immeasurably above all ambition, more precious than wealth, more
noble than name. He knows not life who knows not that: he hath not
felt the highest faculty of the soul who hath not enjoyed it. In
the name of my wife I write the completion of hope, and the summit
of happiness. To have such a love is the one blessing, in
comparison of which all earthly joy is of no value; and to think of
her, is to praise God.
It was at Bruxelles, whither we retreated after the failure of our
plot--our Whig friends advising us to keep out of the way--that the
great joy of my life was bestowed upon me, and that my dear
mistress became my wife. We had been so accustomed to an extreme
intimacy and confidence, and had lived so long and tenderly
together, that we might have gone on to the end without thinking of
a closer tie; but circumstances brought about that event which so
prodigiously multiplied my happiness and hers (for which I humbly
thank Heaven), although a calamity befell us, which, I blush to
think, hath occurred more than once in our house. I know not what
infatuation of ambition urged the beautiful and wayward woman,
whose name hath occupied so many of these pages, and who was served
by me with ten years of such constant fidelity and passion; but
ever after that day at Castlewood, when we rescued her, she
persisted in holding all her family as her enemies, and left us,
and escaped to France, to what a fate I disdain to tell. Nor was
her son's house a home for my dear mistress; my poor Frank was
weak, as perhaps all our race hath been, and led by women. Those
around him were imperious, and in a terror of his mother's
influence over him, lest he should recant, and deny the creed which
he had adopted by their persuasion. The difference of their
religion separated the son and the mother: my dearest mistress felt
that she was severed from her children and alone in the world--
alone but for one constant servant on whose fidelity, praised be
Heaven, she could count. 'Twas after a scene of ignoble quarrel on
the part of Frank's wife and mother (for the poor lad had been made
to marry the whole of that German family with whom he had connected
himself), that I found my mistress one day in tears, and then
besought her to confide herself to the care and devotion of one
who, by God's help, would never forsake her. And then the tender
matron, as beautiful in her Autumn, and as pure as virgins in their
spring, with blushes of love and "eyes of meek surrender," yielded
to my respectful importunity, and consented to share my home. Let
the last words I write thank her, and bless her who hath blessed
By the kindness of Mr. Addison, all danger of prosecution, and
every obstacle against our return to England, was removed; and my
son Frank's gallantry in Scotland made his peace with the King's
government. But we two cared no longer to live in England: and
Frank formally and joyfully yielded over to us the possession of
that estate which we now occupy, far away from Europe and its
troubles, on the beautiful banks of the Potomac, where we have
built a new Castlewood, and think with grateful hearts of our old
home. In our Transatlantic country we have a season, the calmest
and most delightful of the year, which we call the Indian summer: I
often say the autumn of our life resembles that happy and serene
weather, and am thankful for its rest and its sweet sunshine.
Heaven hath blessed us with a child, which each parent loves for
her resemblance to the other. Our diamonds are turned into ploughs
and axes for our plantations; and into negroes, the happiest and
merriest, I think, in all this country: and the only jewel by which
my wife sets any store, and from which she hath never parted, is
that gold button she took from my arm on the day when she visited
me in prison, and which she wore ever after, as she told me, on the
tenderest heart in the world.