Part 3 out of 10
never to his life's end could be got to construe more than six
lines of Virgil. Mistress Beatrix chattered French prettily, from
a very early age; and sang sweetly, but this was from her mother's
teaching--not Harry Esmond's, who could scarce distinguish between
"Green Sleeves" and "Lillibullero;" although he had no greater
delight in life than to hear the ladies sing. He sees them now
(will he ever forget them?) as they used to sit together of the
summer evenings--the two golden heads over the page--the child's
little hand, and the mother's beating the time, with their voices
rising and falling in unison.
But if the children were careless, 'twas a wonder how eagerly the
mother learnt from her young tutor--and taught him too. The
happiest instinctive faculty was this lady's--a faculty for
discerning latent beauties and hidden graces of books, especially
books of poetry, as in a walk she would spy out field-flowers and
make posies of them, such as no other hand could. She was a
critic, not by reason but by feeling; the sweetest commentator of
those books they read together; and the happiest hours of young
Esmond's life, perhaps, were those passed in the company of this
kind mistress and her children.
These happy days were to end soon, however; and it was by the Lady
Castlewood's own decree that they were brought to a conclusion. It
happened about Christmas-time, Harry Esmond being now past sixteen
years of age, that his old comrade, adversary, and friend, Tom
Tusher, returned from his school in London, a fair, well-grown, and
sturdy lad, who was about to enter college, with an exhibition from
his school, and a prospect of after promotion in the church. Tom
Tusher's talk was of nothing but Cambridge now; and the boys, who
were good friends, examined each other eagerly about their progress
in books. Tom had learned some Greek and Hebrew, besides Latin, in
which he was pretty well skilled, and also had given himself to
mathematical studies under his father's guidance, who was a
proficient in those sciences, of which Esmond knew nothing; nor
could he write Latin so well as Tom, though he could talk it
better, having been taught by his dear friend the Jesuit Father,
for whose memory the lad ever retained the warmest affection,
reading his books, keeping his swords clean in the little crypt
where the Father had shown them to Esmond on the night of his
visit; and often of a night sitting in the chaplain's room, which
he inhabited, over his books, his verses, and rubbish, with which
the lad occupied himself, he would look up at the window, thinking
he wished it might open and let in the good Father. He had come
and passed away like a dream; but for the swords and books Harry
might almost think the Father was an imagination of his mind--and
for two letters which had come to him, one from abroad, full of
advice and affection, another soon after he had been confirmed by
the Bishop of Hexton, in which Father Holt deplored his falling
away. But Harry Esmond felt so confident now of his being in the
right, and of his own powers as a casuist, that he thought he was
able to face the Father himself in argument, and possibly convert
To work upon the faith of her young pupil, Esmond's kind mistress
sent to the library of her father the Dean, who had been
distinguished in the disputes of the late king's reign; and, an old
soldier now, had hung up his weapons of controversy. These he took
down from his shelves willingly for young Esmond, whom he benefited
by his own personal advice and instruction. It did not require
much persuasion to induce the boy to worship with his beloved
mistress. And the good old nonjuring Dean flattered himself with a
conversion which, in truth, was owing to a much gentler and fairer
Under her ladyship's kind eyes (my lord's being sealed in sleep
pretty generally), Esmond read many volumes of the works of the
famous British Divines of the last age, and was familiar with Wake
and Sherlock, with Stillingfleet and Patrick. His mistress never
tired to listen or to read, to pursue the texts with fond comments,
to urge those points which her fancy dwelt on most, or her reason
deemed most important. Since the death of her father the Dean,
this lady hath admitted a certain latitude of theological reading
which her orthodox father would never have allowed; his favorite
writers appealing more to reason and antiquity than to the passions
or imaginations of their readers, so that the works of Bishop
Taylor, nay, those of Mr. Baxter and Mr. Law, have in reality found
more favor with my Lady Castlewood than the severer volumes of our
great English schoolmen.
In later life, at the University, Esmond reopened the controversy,
and pursued it in a very different manner, when his patrons had
determined for him that he was to embrace the ecclesiastical life.
But though his mistress's heart was in this calling, his own never
was much. After that first fervor of simple devotion, which his
beloved Jesuit priest had inspired in him, speculative theology
took but little hold upon the young man's mind. When his early
credulity was disturbed, and his saints and virgins taken out of
his worship, to rank little higher than the divinities of Olympus,
his belief became acquiescence rather than ardor; and he made his
mind up to assume the cassock and bands, as another man does to
wear a breastplate and jack-boots, or to mount a merchant's desk,
for a livelihood, and from obedience and necessity, rather than
from choice. There were scores of such men in Mr. Esmond's time at
the universities, who were going to the church with no better
calling than his.
When Thomas Tusher was gone, a feeling of no small depression and
disquiet fell upon young Esmond, of which, though he did not
complain, his kind mistress must have divined the cause: for soon
after she showed not only that she understood the reason of Harry's
melancholy, but could provide a remedy for it. Her habit was thus
to watch, unobservedly, those to whom duty or affection bound her,
and to prevent their designs, or to fulfil them, when she had the
power. It was this lady's disposition to think kindnesses, and
devise silent bounties and to scheme benevolence, for those about
her. We take such goodness, for the most part, as if it was our
due; the Marys who bring ointment for our feet get but little
thanks. Some of us never feel this devotion at all, or are moved
by it to gratitude or acknowledgment; others only recall it years
after, when the days are past in which those sweet kindnesses were
spent on us, and we offer back our return for the debt by a poor
tardy payment of tears. Then forgotten tones of love recur to us,
and kind glances shine out of the past--oh so bright and clear!--oh
so longed after!--because they are out of reach; as holiday music
from withinside a prison wall--or sunshine seen through the bars;
more prized because unattainable--more bright because of the
contrast of present darkness and solitude, whence there is no
All the notice, then, which Lady Castlewood seemed to take of Harry
Esmond's melancholy, upon Tom Tusher's departure, was, by a gayety
unusual to her, to attempt to dispel his gloom. She made his three
scholars (herself being the chief one) more cheerful than ever they
had been before, and more docile, too, all of them learning and
reading much more than they had been accustomed to do. "For who
knows," said the lady, "what may happen, and whether we may be able
to keep such a learned tutor long?"
Frank Esmond said he for his part did not want to learn any more,
and cousin Harry might shut up his book whenever he liked, if he
would come out a-fishing; and little Beatrix declared she would
send for Tom Tusher, and HE would be glad enough to come to
Castlewood, if Harry chose to go away.
At last comes a messenger from Winchester one day, bearer of a
letter, with a great black seal, from the Dean there, to say that
his sister was dead, and had left her fortune of 2,000L. among her
six nieces, the Dean's daughters; and many a time since has Harry
Esmond recalled the flushed face and eager look wherewith, after
this intelligence, his kind lady regarded him. She did not pretend
to any grief about the deceased relative, from whom she and her
family had been many years parted.
When my lord heard of the news, he also did not make any very long
face. "The money will come very handy to furnish the music-room
and the cellar, which is getting low, and buy your ladyship a coach
and a couple of horses that will do indifferent to ride or for the
coach. And, Beatrix, you shall have a spinnet: and, Frank, you
shall have a little horse from Hexton Fair; and, Harry, you shall
have five pounds to buy some books," said my lord, who was generous
with his own, and indeed with other folk's money. "I wish your
aunt would die once a year, Rachel; we could spend your money, and
all your sisters', too."
"I have but one aunt--and--and I have another use for the money, my
lord," says my lady, turning very red.
"Another use, my dear; and what do you know about money?" cries my
lord. "And what the devil is there that I don't give you which you
"I intend to give this money--can't you fancy how, my lord?"
My lord swore one of his large oaths that he did not know in the
least what she meant.
"I intend it for Harry Esmond to go to college. Cousin Harry,"
says my lady, "you mustn't stay longer in this dull place, but make
a name to yourself, and for us too, Harry."
"D--n it, Harry's well enough here," says my lord, for a moment
looking rather sulky.
"Is Harry going away? You don't mean to say you will go away?" cry
out Frank and Beatrix at one breath.
"But he will come back: and this will always be his home," cries my
lady, with blue eyes looking a celestial kindness: "and his
scholars will always love him; won't they?"
"By G-d, Rachel, you're a good woman!" says my lord, seizing my
lady's hand, at which she blushed very much, and shrank back,
putting her children before her. "I wish you joy, my kinsman," he
continued, giving Harry Esmond a hearty slap on the shoulder. "I
won't balk your luck. Go to Cambridge, boy, and when Tusher dies
you shall have the living here, if you are not better provided by
that time. We'll furnish the dining-room and buy the horses
another year. I'll give thee a nag out of the stable: take any one
except my hack and the bay gelding and the coach-horses; and God
speed thee, my boy!"
"Have the sorrel, Harry; 'tis a good one. Father says 'tis the
best in the stable," says little Frank, clapping his hands, and
jumping up. "Let's come and see him in the stable." And the
other, in his delight and eagerness, was for leaving the room that
instant to arrange about his journey.
The Lady Castlewood looked after him with sad penetrating glances.
"He wishes to be gone already, my lord," said she to her husband.
The young man hung back abashed. "Indeed, I would stay for ever,
if your ladyship bade me," he said.
"And thou wouldst be a fool for thy pains, kinsman," said my lord.
"Tut, tut, man. Go and see the world. Sow thy wild oats; and take
the best luck that Fate sends thee. I wish I were a boy again,
that I might go to college, and taste the Trumpington ale."
"Ours, indeed, is but a dull home," cries my lady, with a little of
sadness and, maybe, of satire, in her voice: "an old glum house,
half ruined, and the rest only half furnished; a woman and two
children are but poor company for men that are accustomed to
better. We are only fit to be your worship's handmaids, and your
pleasures must of necessity lie elsewhere than at home."
"Curse me, Rachel, if I know now whether thou art in earnest or
not," said my lord.
"In earnest, my lord!" says she, still clinging by one of her
children. "Is there much subject here for joke?" And she made him
a grand curtsy, and, giving a stately look to Harry Esmond, which
seemed to say, "Remember; you understand me, though he does not,"
she left the room with her children.
"Since she found out that confounded Hexton business," my lord
said--"and be hanged to them that told her!--she has not been the
same woman. She, who used to be as humble as a milkmaid, is as
proud as a princess," says my lord. "Take my counsel, Harry
Esmond, and keep clear of women. Since I have had anything to do
with the jades, they have given me nothing but disgust. I had a
wife at Tangier, with whom, as she couldn't speak a word of my
language, you'd have thought I might lead a quiet life. But she
tried to poison me, because she was jealous of a Jew girl. There
was your aunt, for aunt she is--aunt Jezebel, a pretty life your
father led with HER! and here's my lady. When I saw her on a
pillion, riding behind the Dean her father, she looked and was such
a baby, that a sixpenny doll might have pleased her. And now you
see what she is--hands off, highty-tighty, high and mighty, an
empress couldn't be grander. Pass us the tankard, Harry my boy. A
mug of beer and a toast at morn, says my host. A toast and a mug
of beer at noon, says my dear. D--n it, Polly loves a mug of ale,
too, and laced with brandy, by Jove!" Indeed, I suppose they drank
it together; for my lord was often thick in his speech at mid-day
dinner; and at night at supper, speechless altogether.
Harry Esmond's departure resolved upon, it seemed as if the Lady
Castlewood, too, rejoiced to lose him; for more than once, when the
lad, ashamed perhaps at his own secret eagerness to go away (at any
rate stricken with sadness at the idea of leaving those from whom
he had received so many proofs of love and kindness inestimable),
tried to express to his mistress his sense of gratitude to her, and
his sorrow at quitting those who had so sheltered and tended a
nameless and houseless orphan, Lady Castlewood cut short his
protests of love and his lamentations, and would hear of no grief,
but only look forward to Harry's fame and prospects in life. "Our
little legacy will keep you for four years like a gentleman.
Heaven's Providence, your own genius, industry, honor, must do the
rest for you. Castlewood will always be a home for you; and these
children, whom you have taught and loved, will not forget to love
you. And, Harry," said she (and this was the only time when she
spoke with a tear in her eye, or a tremor in her voice), "it may
happen in the course of nature that I shall be called away from
them: and their father--and--and they will need true friends and
protectors. Promise me that you will be true to them--as--as I
think I have been to you--and a mother's fond prayer and blessing
go with you."
"So help me God, madam, I will," said Harry Esmond, falling on his
knees, and kissing the hand of his dearest mistress. "If you will
have me stay now, I will. What matters whether or no I make my way
in life, or whether a poor bastard dies as unknown as he is now?
'Tis enough that I have your love and kindness surely; and to make
you happy is duty enough for me."
"Happy!" says she; "but indeed I ought to be, with my children,
"Not happy!" cried Esmond (for he knew what her life was, though he
and his mistress never spoke a word concerning it). "If not
happiness, it may be ease. Let me stay and work for you--let me
stay and be your servant."
"Indeed, you are best away," said my lady, laughing, as she put her
hand on the boy's head for a moment. "You shall stay in no such
dull place. You shall go to college and distinguish yourself as
becomes your name. That is how you shall please me best; and--and
if my children want you, or I want you, you shall come to us; and I
know we may count on you."
"May heaven forsake me if you may not!" Harry said, getting up from
"And my knight longs for a dragon this instant that he may fight,"
said my lady, laughing; which speech made Harry Esmond start, and
turn red; for indeed the very thought was in his mind, that he
would like that some chance should immediately happen whereby he
might show his devotion. And it pleased him to think that his lady
had called him "her knight," and often and often he recalled this
to his mind, and prayed that he might be her true knight, too.
My lady's bed-chamber window looked out over the country, and you
could see from it the purple hills beyond Castlewood village, the
green common betwixt that and the Hall, and the old bridge which
crossed over the river. When Harry Esmond went away for Cambridge,
little Frank ran alongside his horse as far as the bridge, and
there Harry stopped for a moment, and looked back at the house
where the best part of his life had been passed. It lay before him
with its gray familiar towers, a pinnacle or two shining in the
sun, the buttresses and terrace walls casting great blue shades on
the grass. And Harry remembered, all his life after, how he saw
his mistress at the window looking out on him in a white robe, the
little Beatrix's chestnut curls resting at her mother's side. Both
waved a farewell to him, and little Frank sobbed to leave him.
Yes, he WOULD be his lady's true knight, he vowed in his heart; he
waved her an adieu with his hat. The village people had Good-by to
say to him too. All knew that Master Harry was going to college,
and most of them had a kind word and a look of farewell. I do not
stop to say what adventures he began to imagine, or what career to
devise for himself before he had ridden three miles from home. He
had not read Monsieur Galland's ingenious Arabian tales as yet; but
be sure that there are other folks who build castles in the air,
and have fine hopes, and kick them down too, besides honest Alnaschar.
I GO TO CAMBRIDGE, AND DO BUT LITTLE GOOD THERE.
Mr lord, who said he should like to revisit the old haunts of his
youth, kindly accompanied Harry Esmond in his first journey to
Cambridge. Their road lay through London, where my Lord Viscount
would also have Harry stay a few days to show him the pleasures of
the town before he entered upon his university studies, and whilst
here Harry's patron conducted the young man to my Lady Dowager's
house at Chelsey near London: the kind lady at Castlewood having
specially ordered that the young gentleman and the old should pay a
respectful visit in that quarter.
Her ladyship the Viscountess Dowager occupied a handsome new house
in Chelsey, with a garden behind it, and facing the river, always a
bright and animated sight with its swarms of sailors, barges, and
wherries. Harry laughed at recognizing in the parlor the well-
remembered old piece of Sir Peter Lely, wherein his father's widow
was represented as a virgin huntress, armed with a gilt bow-and-
arrow, and encumbered only with that small quantity of drapery
which it would seem the virgins in King Charles's day were
accustomed to wear.
My Lady Dowager had left off this peculiar habit of huntress when
she married. But though she was now considerably past sixty years
of age, I believe she thought that airy nymph of the picture could
still be easily recognized in the venerable personage who gave an
audience to Harry and his patron.
She received the young man with even more favor than she showed to
the elder, for she chose to carry on the conversation in French, in
which my Lord Castlewood was no great proficient, and expressed her
satisfaction at finding that Mr. Esmond could speak fluently in
that language. "'Twas the only one fit for polite conversation,"
she condescended to say, "and suitable to persons of high breeding."
My lord laughed afterwards, as the gentlemen went away, at his
kinswoman's behavior. He said he remembered the time when she
could speak English fast enough, and joked in his jolly way at the
loss he had had of such a lovely wife as that.
My Lady Viscountess deigned to ask his lordship news of his wife
and children; she had heard that Lady Castlewood had had the small-
pox; she hoped she was not so VERY much disfigured as people said.
At this remark about his wife's malady, my Lord Viscount winced and
turned red; but the Dowager, in speaking of the disfigurement of
the young lady, turned to her looking-glass and examined her old
wrinkled countenance in it with such a grin of satisfaction, that
it was all her guests could do to refrain from laughing in her
She asked Harry what his profession was to be; and my lord, saying
that the lad was to take orders, and have the living of Castlewood
when old Dr. Tusher vacated it, she did not seem to show any
particular anger at the notion of Harry's becoming a Church of
England clergyman, nay, was rather glad than otherwise, that the
youth should be so provided for. She bade Mr. Esmond not to forget
to pay her a visit whenever he passed through London, and carried
her graciousness so far as to send a purse with twenty guineas for
him, to the tavern at which my lord put up (the "Greyhound," in
Charing Cross); and, along with this welcome gift for her kinsman,
she sent a little doll for a present to my lord's little daughter
Beatrix, who was growing beyond the age of dolls by this time, and
was as tall almost as her venerable relative.
After seeing the town, and going to the plays, my Lord Castlewood
and Esmond rode together to Cambridge, spending two pleasant days
upon the journey. Those rapid new coaches were not established, as
yet, that performed the whole journey between London and the
University in a single day; however, the road was pleasant and
short enough to Harry Esmond, and he always gratefully remembered
that happy holiday which his kind patron gave him.
Mr. Esmond was entered a pensioner of Trinity College in Cambridge,
to which famous college my lord had also in his youth belonged.
Dr. Montague was master at this time, and received my Lord Viscount
with great politeness: so did Mr. Bridge, who was appointed to be
Harry's tutor. Tom Tusher, who was of Emanuel College, and was by
this time a junior soph, came to wait upon my lord, and to take
Harry under his protection; and comfortable rooms being provided
for him in the great court close by the gate, and near to the
famous Mr. Newton's lodgings, Harry's patron took leave of him with
many kind words and blessings, and an admonition to him to behave
better at the University than my lord himself had ever done.
'Tis needless in these memoirs to go at any length into the
particulars of Harry Esmond's college career. It was like that of
a hundred young gentlemen of that day. But he had the ill fortune
to be older by a couple of years than most of his fellow-students;
and by his previous solitary mode of bringing up, the circumstances
of his life, and the peculiar thoughtfulness and melancholy that
had naturally engendered, he was, in a great measure, cut off from
the society of comrades who were much younger and higher-spirited
than he. His tutor, who had bowed down to the ground, as he walked
my lord over the college grass-plats, changed his behavior as soon
as the nobleman's back was turned, and was--at least Harry thought
so--harsh and overbearing. When the lads used to assemble in their
greges in hall, Harry found himself alone in the midst of that
little flock of boys; they raised a great laugh at him when he was
set on to read Latin, which he did with the foreign pronunciation
taught to him by his old master, the Jesuit, than which he knew no
other. Mr. Bridge, the tutor, made him the object of clumsy jokes,
in which he was fond of indulging. The young man's spirit was
chafed, and his vanity mortified; and he found himself, for some
time, as lonely in this place as ever he had been at Castlewood,
whither he longed to return. His birth was a source of shame to
him, and he fancied a hundred slights and sneers from young and
old, who, no doubt, had treated him better had he met them himself
more frankly. And as he looks back, in calmer days, upon this
period of his life, which he thought so unhappy, he can see that
his own pride and vanity caused no small part of the mortifications
which he attributed to other's ill will. The world deals good-
naturedly with good-natured people, and I never knew a sulky
misanthropist who quarrelled with it, but it was he, and not it,
that was in the wrong. Tom Tusher gave Harry plenty of good advice
on this subject, for Tom had both good sense and good humor; but
Mr. Harry chose to treat his senior with a great deal of
superfluous disdain and absurd scorn, and would by no means part
from his darling injuries, in which, very likely, no man believed
but himself. As for honest Doctor Bridge, the tutor found, after a
few trials of wit with the pupil, that the young man was an ugly
subject for wit, and that the laugh was often turned against him.
This did not make tutor and pupil any better friends; but had, so
far, an advantage for Esmond, that Mr. Bridge was induced to leave
him alone; and so long as he kept his chapels, and did the college
exercises required of him, Bridge was content not to see Harry's
glum face in his class, and to leave him to read and sulk for
himself in his own chamber.
A poem or two in Latin and English, which were pronounced to have
some merit, and a Latin oration, (for Mr. Esmond could write that
language better than pronounce it,) got him a little reputation
both with the authorities of the University and amongst the young
men, with whom he began to pass for more than he was worth. A few
victories over their common enemy, Mr. Bridge, made them incline
towards him, and look upon him as the champion of their order
against the seniors. Such of the lads as he took into his
confidence found him not so gloomy and haughty as his appearance
led them to believe; and Don Dismallo, as he was called, became
presently a person of some little importance in his college, and
was, as he believes, set down by the seniors there as rather a
Don Dismallo was a staunch young Jacobite, like the rest of his
family; gave himself many absurd airs of loyalty; used to invite
young friends to Burgundy, and give the King's health on King
James's birthday; wore black on the day of his abdication; fasted
on the anniversary of King William's coronation; and performed a
thousand absurd antics, of which he smiles now to think.
These follies caused many remonstrances on Tom Tusher's part, who
was always a friend to the powers that be, as Esmond was always in
opposition to them. Tom was a Whig, while Esmond was a Tory. Tom
never missed a lecture, and capped the proctor with the profoundest
of bows. No wonder he sighed over Harry's insubordinate courses,
and was angry when the others laughed at him. But that Harry was
known to have my Lord Viscount's protection, Tom no doubt would
have broken with him altogether. But honest Tom never gave up a
comrade as long as he was the friend of a great man. This was not
out of scheming on Tom's part, but a natural inclination towards
the great. 'Twas no hypocrisy in him to flatter, but the bent of
his mind, which was always perfectly good-humored, obliging, and
Harry had very liberal allowances, for his dear mistress of
Castlewood not only regularly supplied him, but the Dowager of
Chelsey made her donation annual, and received Esmond at her house
near London every Christmas; but, in spite of these benefactions,
Esmond was constantly poor; whilst 'twas a wonder with how small a
stipend from his father Tom Tusher contrived to make a good figure.
'Tis true that Harry both spent, gave, and lent his money very
freely, which Thomas never did. I think he was like the famous
Duke of Marlborough in this instance, who, getting a present of
fifty pieces, when a young man, from some foolish woman who fell in
love with his good looks, showed the money to Cadogan in a drawer
scores of years after, where it had lain ever since he had sold his
beardless honor to procure it. I do not mean to say that Tom ever
let out his good looks so profitably, for nature had not endowed
him with any particular charms of person, and he ever was a pattern
of moral behavior, losing no opportunity of giving the very best
advice to his younger comrade; with which article, to do him
justice, he parted very freely. Not but that he was a merry
fellow, too, in his way; he loved a joke, if by good fortune he
understood it, and took his share generously of a bottle if another
paid for it, and especially if there was a young lord in company to
drink it. In these cases there was not a harder drinker in the
University than Mr. Tusher could be; and it was edifying to behold
him, fresh shaved and with smug face, singing out "Amen!" at early
chapel in the morning. In his reading, poor Harry permitted
himself to go a-gadding after all the Nine Muses, and so very
likely had but little favor from any one of them; whereas Tom
Tusher, who had no more turn for poetry than a ploughboy,
nevertheless, by a dogged perseverance and obsequiousness in
courting the divine Calliope, got himself a prize, and some credit
in the University, and a fellowship at his college, as a reward for
his scholarship. In this time of Mr. Esmond's life, he got the
little reading which he ever could boast of, and passed a good part
of his days greedily devouring all the books on which he could lay
hand. In this desultory way the works of most of the English,
French, and Italian poets came under his eyes, and he had a
smattering of the Spanish tongue likewise, besides the ancient
languages, of which, at least of Latin, he was a tolerable master.
Then, about midway in his University career, he fell to reading for
the profession to which worldly prudence rather than inclination
called him, and was perfectly bewildered in theological
controversy. In the course of his reading (which was neither
pursued with that seriousness or that devout mind which such a
study requires) the youth found himself at the end of one month a
Papist, and was about to proclaim his faith; the next month a
Protestant, with Chillingworth; and the third a sceptic, with
Hobbes and Bayle. Whereas honest Tom Tusher never permitted his
mind to stray out of the prescribed University path, accepted the
Thirty-nine Articles with all his heart, and would have signed and
sworn to other nine-and-thirty with entire obedience. Harry's
wilfulness in this matter, and disorderly thoughts and
conversation, so shocked and afflicted his senior, that there grew
up a coldness and estrangement between them, so that they became
scarce more than mere acquaintances, from having been intimate
friends when they came to college first. Politics ran high, too,
at the University; and here, also, the young men were at variance.
Tom professed himself, albeit a high-churchman, a strong King
William's-man; whereas Harry brought his family Tory politics to
college with him, to which he must add a dangerous admiration for
Oliver Cromwell, whose side, or King James's by turns, he often
chose to take in the disputes which the young gentlemen used to
hold in each other's rooms, where they debated on the state of the
nation, crowned and deposed kings, and toasted past and present
heroes and beauties in flagons of college ale.
Thus, either from the circumstances of his birth, or the natural
melancholy of his disposition, Esmond came to live very much by
himself during his stay at the University, having neither ambition
enough to distinguish himself in the college career, nor caring to
mingle with the mere pleasures and boyish frolics of the students,
who were, for the most part, two or three years younger than he.
He fancied that the gentlemen of the common-room of his college
slighted him on account of his birth, and hence kept aloof from
their society. It may be that he made the ill will, which he
imagined came from them, by his own behavior, which, as he looks
back on it in after life, he now sees was morose and haughty. At
any rate, he was as tenderly grateful for kindness as he was
susceptible of slight and wrong; and, lonely as he was generally,
yet had one or two very warm friendships for his companions of
One of these was a queer gentleman that resided in the University,
though he was no member of it, and was the professor of a science
scarce recognized in the common course of college education. This
was a French refugee-officer, who had been driven out of his native
country at the time of the Protestant persecutions there, and who
came to Cambridge, where he taught the science of the small-sword,
and set up a saloon-of-arms. Though he declared himself a
Protestant, 'twas said Mr. Moreau was a Jesuit in disguise; indeed,
he brought very strong recommendations to the Tory party, which was
pretty strong in that University, and very likely was one of the
many agents whom King James had in this country. Esmond found this
gentleman's conversation very much more agreeable and to his taste
than the talk of the college divines in the common-room; he never
wearied of Moreau's stories of the wars of Turenne and Conde, in
which he had borne a part; and being familiar with the French
tongue from his youth, and in a place where but few spoke it, his
company became very agreeable to the brave old professor of arms,
whose favorite pupil he was, and who made Mr. Esmond a very
tolerable proficient in the noble science of escrime.
At the next term Esmond was to take his degree of Bachelor of Arts,
and afterwards, in proper season, to assume the cassock and bands
which his fond mistress would have him wear. Tom Tusher himself
was a parson and a fellow of his college by this time; and Harry
felt that he would very gladly cede his right to the living of
Castlewood to Tom, and that his own calling was in no way to the
pulpit. But as he was bound, before all things in the world, to
his dear mistress at home, and knew that a refusal on his part
would grieve her, he determined to give her no hint of his
unwillingness to the clerical office: and it was in this
unsatisfactory mood of mind that he went to spend the last
vacation he should have at Castlewood before he took orders.
I COME HOME FOR A HOLIDAY TO CASTLEWOOD, AND FIND A SKELETON IN THE
At his third long vacation, Esmond came as usual to Castlewood,
always feeling an eager thrill of pleasure when he found himself
once more in the house where he had passed so many years, and
beheld the kind familiar eyes of his mistress looking upon him.
She and her children (out of whose company she scarce ever saw him)
came to greet him. Miss Beatrix was grown so tall that Harry did
not quite know whether he might kiss her or no; and she blushed and
held back when he offered that salutation, though she took it, and
even courted it, when they were alone. The young lord was shooting
up to be like his gallant father in look, though with his mother's
kind eyes: the lady of Castlewood herself seemed grown, too, since
Harry saw her--in her look more stately, in her person fuller, in
her face still as ever most tender and friendly, a greater air of
command and decision than had appeared in that guileless sweet
countenance which Harry remembered so gratefully. The tone of her
voice was so much deeper and sadder when she spoke and welcomed
him, that it quite startled Esmond, who looked up at her surprised
as she spoke, when she withdrew her eyes from him; nor did she ever
look at him afterwards when his own eyes were gazing upon her. A
something hinting at grief and secret, and filling his mind with
alarm undefinable, seemed to speak with that low thrilling voice of
hers, and look out of those clear sad eyes. Her greeting to Esmond
was so cold that it almost pained the lad, (who would have liked to
fall on his knees, and kiss the skirt of her robe, so fond and
ardent was his respect and regard for her,) and he faltered in
answering the questions which she, hesitating on her side, began to
put to him. Was he happy at Cambridge? Did he study too hard?
She hoped not. He had grown very tall, and looked very well.
"He has got a moustache!" cries out Master Esmond.
"Why does he not wear a peruke like my Lord Mohun?" asked Miss
Beatrix. "My lord says that nobody wears their own hair."
"I believe you will have to occupy your old chamber," says my lady.
"I hope the housekeeper has got it ready."
"Why, mamma, you have been there ten times these three days
yourself!" exclaims Frank.
"And she cut some flowers which you planted in my garden--do you
remember, ever so many years ago? when I was quite a little girl,"
cries out Miss Beatrix, on tiptoe. "And mamma put them in your
"I remember when you grew well after you were ill that you used to
like roses," said the lady, blushing like one of them. They all
conducted Harry Esmond to his chamber; the children running before,
Harry walking by his mistress hand-in-hand.
The old room had been ornamented and beautified not a little to
receive him. The flowers were in the window in a china vase; and
there was a fine new counterpane on the bed, which chatterbox
Beatrix said mamma had made too. A fire was crackling on the
hearth, although it was June. My lady thought the room wanted
warming; everything was done to make him happy and welcome: "And
you are not to be a page any longer, but a gentleman and kinsman,
and to walk with papa and mamma," said the children. And as soon
as his dear mistress and children had left him to himself, it was
with a heart overflowing with love and gratefulness that he flung
himself down on his knees by the side of the little bed, and asked
a blessing upon those who were so kind to him.
The children, who are always house tell-tales, soon made him
acquainted with the little history of the house and family. Papa
had been to London twice. Papa often went away now. Papa had
taken Beatrix to Westlands, where she was taller than Sir George
Harper's second daughter, though she was two years older. Papa had
taken Beatrix and Frank both to Bellminster, where Frank had got
the better of Lord Bellminster's son in a boxing-match--my lord,
laughing, told Harry afterwards. Many gentlemen came to stop with
papa, and papa had gotten a new game from London, a French game,
called a billiard--that the French king played it very well: and
the Dowager Lady Castlewood had sent Miss Beatrix a present; and
papa had gotten a new chaise, with two little horses, which he
drove himself, beside the coach, which mamma went in; and Dr.
Tusher was a cross old plague, and they did not like to learn from
him at all; and papa did not care about them learning, and laughed
when they were at their books, but mamma liked them to learn, and
taught them; and "I don't think papa is fond of mamma," said Miss
Beatrix, with her great eyes. She had come quite close up to Harry
Esmond by the time this prattle took place, and was on his knee,
and had examined all the points of his dress, and all the good or
bad features of his homely face.
"You shouldn't say that papa is not fond of mamma," said the boy,
at this confession. "Mamma never said so; and mamma forbade you to
say it, Miss Beatrix."
'Twas this, no doubt, that accounted for the sadness in Lady
Castlewood's eyes, and the plaintive vibrations of her voice. Who
does not know of eyes, lighted by love once, where the flame shines
no more?--of lamps extinguished, once properly trimmed and tended?
Every man has such in his house. Such mementoes make our
splendidest chambers look blank and sad; such faces seen in a day
cast a gloom upon our sunshine. So oaths mutually sworn, and
invocations of heaven, and priestly ceremonies, and fond belief,
and love, so fond and faithful that it never doubted but that it
should live for ever, are all of no avail towards making love
eternal: it dies, in spite of the banns and the priest; and I have
often thought there should be a visitation of the sick for it, and
a funeral service, and an extreme unction, and an abi in pace. It
has its course, like all mortal things--its beginning, progress,
and decay. It buds and it blooms out into sunshine, and it withers
and ends. Strephon and Chloe languish apart; join in a rapture:
and presently you hear that Chloe is crying, and Strephon has
broken his crook across her back. Can you mend it so as to show no
marks of rupture? Not all the priests of Hymen, not all the
incantations to the gods, can make it whole!
Waking up from dreams, books, and visions of college honors, in
which for two years, Harry Esmond had been immersed, he found
himself, instantly, on his return home, in the midst of this actual
tragedy of life, which absorbed and interested him more than all
his tutor had taught him. The persons whom he loved best in the
world, and to whom he owed most, were living unhappily together.
The gentlest and kindest of women was suffering ill usage and
shedding tears in secret: the man who made her wretched by neglect,
if not by violence, was Harry's benefactor and patron. In houses
where, in place of that sacred, inmost flame of love, there is
discord at the centre, the whole household becomes hypocritical,
and each lies to his neighbor. The husband (or it may be the wife)
lies when the visitor comes in, and wears a grin of reconciliation
or politeness before him. The wife lies (indeed, her business is
to do that, and to smile, however much she is beaten), swallows her
tears, and lies to her lord and master; lies in bidding little
Jackey respect dear papa; lies in assuring grandpapa that she is
perfectly happy. The servants lie, wearing grave faces behind
their master's chair, and pretending to be unconscious of the
fighting; and so, from morning till bedtime, life is passed in
falsehood. And wiseacres call this a proper regard of morals, and
point out Baucis and Philemon as examples of a good life.
If my lady did not speak of her griefs to Harry Esmond, my lord was
by no means reserved when in his cups, and spoke his mind very
freely, bidding Harry in his coarse way, and with his blunt
language, beware of all women as cheats, jades, jilts, and using
other unmistakable monosyllables in speaking of them. Indeed,
'twas the fashion of the day, as I must own; and there's not a
writer of my time of any note, with the exception of poor Dick
Steele, that does not speak of a woman as of a slave, and scorn and
use her as such. Mr. Pope, Mr. Congreve, Mr. Addison, Mr. Gay,
every one of 'em, sing in this key, each according to his nature
and politeness, and louder and fouler than all in abuse is Dr.
Swift, who spoke of them as he treated them, worst of all.
Much of the quarrels and hatred which arise between married people
come in my mind from the husband's rage and revolt at discovering
that his slave and bedfellow, who is to minister to all his wishes,
and is church-sworn to honor and obey him--is his superior; and
that HE, and not she, ought to be the subordinate of the twain; and
in these controversies, I think, lay the cause of my lord's anger
against his lady. When he left her, she began to think for
herself, and her thoughts were not in his favor. After the
illumination, when the love-lamp is put out that anon we spoke of,
and by the common daylight we look at the picture, what a daub it
looks! what a clumsy effigy! How many men and wives come to this
knowledge, think you? And if it be painful to a woman to find
herself mated for life to a boor, and ordered to love and honor a
dullard; it is worse still for the man himself perhaps, whenever in
his dim comprehension the idea dawns that his slave and drudge
yonder is, in truth, his superior; that the woman who does his
bidding, and submits to his humor, should be his lord; that she can
think a thousand things beyond the power of his muddled brains; and
that in yonder head, on the pillow opposite to him, lie a thousand
feelings, mysteries of thought, latent scorns and rebellions,
whereof he only dimly perceives the existence as they look out
furtively from her eyes: treasures of love doomed to perish without
a hand to gather them; sweet fancies and images of beauty that
would grow and unfold themselves into flower; bright wit that would
shine like diamonds could it be brought into the sun: and the
tyrant in possession crushes the outbreak of all these, drives them
back like slaves into the dungeon and darkness, and chafes without
that his prisoner is rebellious, and his sworn subject undutiful
and refractory. So the lamp was out in Castlewood Hall, and the
lord and lady there saw each other as they were. With her illness
and altered beauty my lord's fire for his wife disappeared; with
his selfishness and faithlessness her foolish fiction of love and
reverence was rent away. Love!--who is to love what is base and
unlovely? Respect!--who is to respect what is gross and sensual?
Not all the marriage oaths sworn before all the parsons, cardinals,
ministers, muftis, and rabbins in the world, can bind to that
monstrous allegiance. This couple was living apart then; the woman
happy to be allowed to love and tend her children (who were never
of her own good-will away from her), and thankful to have saved
such treasures as these out of the wreck in which the better part
of her heart went down.
These young ones had had no instructors save their mother, and
Doctor Tusher for their theology occasionally, and had made more
progress than might have been expected under a tutor so indulgent
and fond as Lady Castlewood. Beatrix could sing and dance like a
nymph. Her voice was her father's delight after dinner. She ruled
over the house with little imperial ways, which her parents coaxed
and laughed at. She had long learned the value of her bright eyes,
and tried experiments in coquetry, in corpore vili, upon rustics
and country squires, until she should prepare to conquer the world
and the fashion. She put on a new ribbon to welcome Harry Esmond,
made eyes at him, and directed her young smiles at him, not a
little to the amusement of the young man, and the joy of her
father, who laughed his great laugh, and encouraged her in her
thousand antics. Lady Castlewood watched the child gravely and
sadly: the little one was pert in her replies to her mother, yet
eager in her protestations of love and promises of amendment; and
as ready to cry (after a little quarrel brought on by her own
giddiness) until she had won back her mamma's favor, as she was to
risk the kind lady's displeasure by fresh outbreaks of restless
vanity. From her mother's sad looks she fled to her father's chair
and boozy laughter. She already set the one against the other: and
the little rogue delighted in the mischief which she knew how to
make so early.
The young heir of Castlewood was spoiled by father and mother both.
He took their caresses as men do, and as if they were his right.
He had his hawks and his spaniel dog, his little horse and his
beagles. He had learned to ride, and to drink, and to shoot
flying: and he had a small court, the sons of the huntsman and
woodman, as became the heir-apparent, taking after the example of
my lord his father. If he had a headache, his mother was as much
frightened as if the plague were in the house: my lord laughed and
jeered in his abrupt way--(indeed, 'twas on the day after New
Year's Day, and an excess of mince-pie)--and said with some of his
usual oaths--"D--n it, Harry Esmond--you see how my lady takes on
about Frank's megrim. She used to be sorry about me, my boy (pass
the tankard, Harry), and to be frightened if I had a headache once.
She don't care about my head now. They're like that--women are--
all the same, Harry, all jilts in their hearts. Stick to college--
stick to punch and buttery ale: and never see a woman that's
handsomer than an old cinder-faced bed-maker. That's my counsel."
It was my lord's custom to fling out many jokes of this nature, in
presence of his wife and children, at meals--clumsy sarcasms which
my lady turned many a time, or which, sometimes, she affected not
to hear, or which now and again would hit their mark and make the
poor victim wince (as you could see by her flushing face and eyes
filling with tears), or which again worked her up to anger and
retort, when, in answer to one of these heavy bolts, she would
flash back with a quivering reply. The pair were not happy; nor
indeed was it happy to be with them. Alas that youthful love and
truth should end in bitterness and bankruptcy! To see a young
couple loving each other is no wonder; but to see an old couple
loving each other is the best sight of all. Harry Esmond became
the confidant of one and the other--that is, my lord told the lad
all his griefs and wrongs (which were indeed of Lord Castlewood's
own making), and Harry divined my lady's; his affection leading him
easily to penetrate the hypocrisy under which Lady Castlewood
generally chose to go disguised, and see her heart aching whilst
her face wore a smile. 'Tis a hard task for women in life, that
mask which the world bids them wear. But there is no greater crime
than for a woman who is ill used and unhappy to show that she is
so. The world is quite relentless about bidding her to keep a
cheerful face; and our women, like the Malabar wives, are forced to
go smiling and painted to sacrifice themselves with their husbands;
their relations being the most eager to push them on to their duty,
and, under their shouts and applauses, to smother and hush their
cries of pain.
So, into the sad secret of his patron's household, Harry Esmond
became initiated, he scarce knew how. It had passed under his eyes
two years before, when he could not understand it; but reading, and
thought, and experience of men, had oldened him; and one of the
deepest sorrows of a life which had never, in truth, been very
happy, came upon him now, when he was compelled to understand and
pity a grief which he stood quite powerless to relieve.
It hath been said my lord would never take the oath of allegiance,
nor his seat as a peer of the kingdom of Ireland, where, indeed, he
had but a nominal estate; and refused an English peerage which King
William's government offered him as a bribe to secure his loyalty.
He might have accepted this, and would doubtless, but for the
earnest remonstrances of his wife, who ruled her husband's opinions
better than she could govern his conduct, and who being a simple-
hearted woman, with but one rule of faith and right, never thought
of swerving from her fidelity to the exiled family, or of
recognizing any other sovereign but King James; and though she
acquiesced in the doctrine of obedience to the reigning power, no
temptation, she thought, could induce her to acknowledge the Prince
of Orange as rightful monarch, nor to let her lord so acknowledge
him. So my Lord Castlewood remained a nonjuror all his life
nearly, though his self-denial caused him many a pang, and left him
sulky and out of humor.
The year after the Revolution, and all through King William's life,
'tis known there were constant intrigues for the restoration of the
exiled family; but if my Lord Castlewood took any share of these,
as is probable, 'twas only for a short time, and when Harry Esmond
was too young to be introduced into such important secrets.
But in the year 1695, when that conspiracy of Sir John Fenwick,
Colonel Lowick, and others, was set on foot, for waylaying King
William as he came from Hampton Court to London, and a secret plot
was formed, in which a vast number of the nobility and people of
honor were engaged, Father Holt appeared at Castlewood, and brought
a young friend with him, a gentleman whom 'twas easy to see that
both my lord and the Father treated with uncommon deference. Harry
Esmond saw this gentleman, and knew and recognized him in after
life, as shall be shown in its place; and he has little doubt now
that my Lord Viscount was implicated somewhat in the transactions
which always kept Father Holt employed and travelling hither and
thither under a dozen of different names and disguises. The
Father's companion went by the name of Captain James; and it was
under a very different name and appearance that Harry Esmond
afterwards saw him.
It was the next year that the Fenwick conspiracy blew up, which is
a matter of public history now, and which ended in the execution of
Sir John and many more, who suffered manfully for their treason,
and who were attended to Tyburn by my lady's father Dean Armstrong,
Mr. Collier, and other stout nonjuring clergymen, who absolved them
at the gallows-foot.
'Tis known that when Sir John was apprehended, discovery was made
of a great number of names of gentlemen engaged in the conspiracy;
when, with a noble wisdom and clemency, the Prince burned the list
of conspirators furnished to him, and said he would know no more.
Now it was after this that Lord Castlewood swore his great oath,
that he would never, so help him heaven, be engaged in any
transaction against that brave and merciful man; and so he told
Holt when the indefatigable priest visited him, and would have had
him engage in a farther conspiracy. After this my lord ever spoke
of King William as he was--as one of the wisest, the bravest, and
the greatest of men. My Lady Esmond (for her part) said she could
never pardon the King, first, for ousting his father-in-law from
his throne, and secondly, for not being constant to his wife, the
Princess Mary. Indeed, I think if Nero were to rise again, and be
king of England, and a good family man, the ladies would pardon
him. My lord laughed at his wife's objections--the standard of
virtue did not fit him much.
The last conference which Mr. Holt had with his lordship took place
when Harry was come home for his first vacation from college (Harry
saw his old tutor but for a half-hour, and exchanged no private
words with him), and their talk, whatever it might be, left my Lord
Viscount very much disturbed in mind--so much so, that his wife,
and his young kinsman, Henry Esmond, could not but observe his
disquiet. After Holt was gone, my lord rebuffed Esmond, and again
treated him with the greatest deference; he shunned his wife's
questions and company, and looked at his children with such a face
of gloom and anxiety, muttering, "Poor children--poor children!" in
a way that could not but fill those whose life it was to watch him
and obey him with great alarm. For which gloom, each person
interested in the Lord Castlewood, framed in his or her own mind an
My lady, with a laugh of cruel bitterness said, "I suppose the
person at Hexton has been ill, or has scolded him" (for my lord's
infatuation about Mrs. Marwood was known only too well). Young
Esmond feared for his money affairs, into the condition of which he
had been initiated; and that the expenses, always greater than his
revenue, had caused Lord Castlewood disquiet.
One of the causes why my Lord Viscount had taken young Esmond into
his special favor was a trivial one, that hath not before been
mentioned, though it was a very lucky accident in Henry Esmond's
life. A very few months after my lord's coming to Castlewood, in
the winter time--the little boy, being a child in a petticoat,
trotting about--it happened that little Frank was with his father
after dinner, who fell asleep over his wine, heedless of the child,
who crawled to the fire; and, as good fortune would have it, Esmond
was sent by his mistress for the boy just as the poor little
screaming urchin's coat was set on fire by a log; when Esmond,
rushing forward, tore the dress off the infant, so that his own
hands were burned more than the child's, who was frightened rather
than hurt by this accident. But certainly 'twas providential that
a resolute person should have come in at that instant, or the child
had been burned to death probably, my lord sleeping very heavily
after drinking, and not waking so cool as a man should who had a
danger to face.
Ever after this the father, loud in his expressions of remorse and
humility for being a tipsy good-for-nothing, and of admiration for
Harry Esmond, whom his lordship would style a hero for doing a very
trifling service, had the tenderest regard for his son's preserver,
and Harry became quite as one of the family. His burns were tended
with the greatest care by his kind mistress, who said that heaven
had sent him to be the guardian of her children, and that she would
love him all her life.
And it was after this, and from the very great love and tenderness
which had grown up in this little household, rather than from the
exhortations of Dean Armstrong (though these had no small weight
with him), that Harry came to be quite of the religion of his house
and his dear mistress, of which he has ever since been a professing
member. As for Dr. Tusher's boasts that he was the cause of this
conversion--even in these young days Mr. Esmond had such a contempt
for the Doctor, that had Tusher bade him believe anything (which he
did not--never meddling at all), Harry would that instant have
questioned the truth on't.
My lady seldom drank wine; but on certain days of the year, such as
birthdays (poor Harry had never a one) and anniversaries, she took
a little; and this day, the 29th December, was one. At the end,
then, of this year, '96, it might have been a fortnight after Mr.
Holt's last visit, Lord Castlewood being still very gloomy in mind,
and sitting at table--my lady bidding a servant bring her a glass
of wine, and looking at her husband with one of her sweet smiles,
"My lord, will you not fill a bumper too, and let me call a toast?"
"What is it, Rachel?" says he, holding out his empty glass to be
"'Tis the 29th of December," says my lady, with her fond look of
gratitude: "and my toast is, 'Harry--and God bless him, who saved
my boy's life!'"
My lord looked at Harry hard, and drank the glass, but clapped it
down on the table in a moment, and, with a sort of groan, rose up,
and went out of the room. What was the matter? We all knew that
some great grief was over him.
Whether my lord's prudence had made him richer, or legacies had
fallen to him, which enabled him to support a greater establishment
than that frugal one which had been too much for his small means,
Harry Esmond knew not; but the house of Castlewood was now on a
scale much more costly than it had been during the first years of
his lordship's coming to the title. There were more horses in the
stable and more servants in the hall, and many more guests coming
and going now than formerly, when it was found difficult enough by
the strictest economy to keep the house as befitted one of his
lordship's rank, and the estate out of debt. And it did not
require very much penetration to find that many of the new
acquaintances at Castlewood were not agreeable to the lady there:
not that she ever treated them or any mortal with anything but
courtesy; but they were persons who could not be welcome to her;
and whose society a lady so refined and reserved could scarce
desire for her children. There came fuddling squires from the
country round, who bawled their songs under her windows and drank
themselves tipsy with my lord's punch and ale: there came officers
from Hexton, in whose company our little lord was made to hear talk
and to drink, and swear too, in a way that made the delicate lady
tremble for her son. Esmond tried to console her by saying what he
knew of his College experience; that with this sort of company and
conversation a man must fall in sooner or later in his course
through the world: and it mattered very little whether he heard it
at twelve years old or twenty--the youths who quitted mother's
apron-strings the latest being not uncommonly the wildest rakes.
But it was about her daughter that Lady Castlewood was the most
anxious, and the danger which she thought menaced the little
Beatrix from the indulgences which her father gave her, (it must be
owned that my lord, since these unhappy domestic differences
especially, was at once violent in his language to the children
when angry, as he was too familiar, not to say coarse, when he was
in a good humor,) and from the company into which the careless lord
brought the child.
Not very far off from Castlewood is Sark Castle, where the
Marchioness of Sark lived, who was known to have been a mistress of
the late King Charles--and to this house, whither indeed a great
part of the country gentry went, my lord insisted upon going, not
only himself, but on taking his little daughter and son, to play
with the children there. The children were nothing loth, for the
house was splendid, and the welcome kind enough. But my lady,
justly no doubt, thought that the children of such a mother as that
noted Lady Sark had been, could be no good company for her two; and
spoke her mind to her lord. His own language when he was thwarted
was not indeed of the gentlest: to be brief, there was a family
dispute on this, as there had been on many other points--and the
lady was not only forced to give in, for the other's will was law--
nor could she, on account of their tender age, tell her children
what was the nature of her objection to their visit of pleasure, or
indeed mention to them any objection at all--but she had the
additional secret mortification to find them returning delighted
with their new friends, loaded with presents from them, and eager
to be allowed to go back to a place of such delights as Sark
Castle. Every year she thought the company there would be more
dangerous to her daughter, as from a child Beatrix grew to a woman,
and her daily increasing beauty, and many faults of character too,
It was Harry Esmond's lot to see one of the visits which the old
Lady of Sark paid to the Lady of Castlewood Hall: whither she came
in state with six chestnut horses and blue ribbons, a page on each
carriage step, a gentleman of the horse, and armed servants riding
before and behind her. And, but that it was unpleasant to see Lady
Castlewood's face, it was amusing to watch the behavior of the two
enemies: the frigid patience of the younger lady, and the
unconquerable good-humor of the elder--who would see no offence
whatever her rival intended, and who never ceased to smile and to
laugh, and to coax the children, and to pay compliments to every
man, woman, child, nay dog, or chair and table, in Castlewood, so
bent was she upon admiring everything there. She lauded the
children, and wished as indeed she well might--that her own family
had been brought up as well as those cherubs. She had never seen
such a complexion as dear Beatrix's--though to be sure she had a
right to it from father and mother--Lady Castlewood's was indeed a
wonder of freshness, and Lady Sark sighed to think she had not been
born a fair woman; and remarking Harry Esmond, with a fascinating
superannuated smile, she complimented him on his wit, which she
said she could see from his eyes and forehead; and vowed that she
would never have HIM at Sark until her daughter were out of the way.
MY LORD MOHUN COMES AMONG US FOR NO GOOD.
There had ridden along with this old Princess's cavalcade, two
gentlemen: her son, my Lord Firebrace, and his friend, my Lord
Mohun, who both were greeted with a great deal of cordiality by the
hospitable Lord of Castlewood. My Lord Firebrace was but a feeble-
minded and weak-limbed young nobleman, small in stature and limited
in understanding to judge from the talk young Esmond had with him;
but the other was a person of a handsome presence, with the bel
air, and a bright daring warlike aspect, which, according to the
chronicle of those days, had already achieved for him the conquest
of several beauties and toasts. He had fought and conquered in
France, as well as in Flanders; he had served a couple of campaigns
with the Prince of Baden on the Danube, and witnessed the rescue of
Vienna from the Turk. And he spoke of his military exploits
pleasantly, and with the manly freedom of a soldier, so as to
delight all his hearers at Castlewood, who were little accustomed
to meet a companion so agreeable.
On the first day this noble company came, my lord would not hear of
their departure before dinner, and carried away the gentlemen to
amuse them, whilst his wife was left to do the honors of her house
to the old Marchioness and her daughter within. They looked at the
stables where my Lord Mohun praised the horses, though there was
but a poor show there: they walked over the old house and gardens,
and fought the siege of Oliver's time over again: they played a
game of rackets in the old court, where my Lord Castlewood beat my
Lord Mohun, who said he loved ball of all things, and would quickly
come back to Castlewood for his revenge. After dinner they played
bowls and drank punch in the green alley; and when they parted they
were sworn friends, my Lord Castlewood kissing the other lord
before he mounted on horseback, and pronouncing him the best
companion he had met for many a long day. All night long, over his
tobacco-pipe, Castlewood did not cease to talk to Harry Esmond in
praise of his new friend, and in fact did not leave off speaking of
him until his lordship was so tipsy that he could not speak plainly
At breakfast next day it was the same talk renewed; and when my
lady said there was something free in the Lord Mohun's looks and
manner of speech which caused her to mistrust him, her lord burst
out with one of his laughs and oaths; said that he never liked man,
woman, or beast, but what she was sure to be jealous of it; that
Mohun was the prettiest fellow in England; that he hoped to see
more of him whilst in the country; and that he would let Mohun know
what my Lady Prude said of him.
"Indeed," Lady Castlewood said, "I liked his conversation well
enough. 'Tis more amusing than that of most people I know. I
thought it, I own, too free; not from what he said, as rather from
what he implied."
"Psha! your ladyship does not know the world," said her husband;
"and you have always been as squeamish as when you were a miss of
"You found no fault when I was a miss at fifteen."
"Begad, madam, you are grown too old for a pinafore now; and I hold
that 'tis for me to judge what company my wife shall see," said my
lord, slapping the table.
"Indeed, Francis, I never thought otherwise," answered my lady,
rising and dropping him a curtsy, in which stately action, if there
was obedience, there was defiance too; and in which a bystander,
deeply interested in the happiness of that pair as Harry Esmond
was, might see how hopelessly separated they were; what a great
gulf of difference and discord had run between them.
"By G-d! Mohun is the best fellow in England; and I'll invite him
here, just to plague that woman. Did you ever see such a frigid
insolence as it is, Harry? That's the way she treats me," he broke
out, storming, and his face growing red as he clenched his fists
and went on. "I'm nobody in my own house. I'm to be the humble
servant of that parson's daughter. By Jove! I'd rather she should
fling the dish at my head than sneer at me as she does. She puts
me to shame before the children with her d--d airs; and, I'll
swear, tells Frank and Beaty that papa's a reprobate, and that they
ought to despise me."
"Indeed and indeed, sir, I never heard her say a word but of
respect regarding you," Harry Esmond interposed.
"No, curse it! I wish she would speak. But she never does. She
scorns me, and holds her tongue. She keeps off from me, as if I
was a pestilence. By George! she was fond enough of her pestilence
once. And when I came a-courting, you would see miss blush--blush
red, by George! for joy. Why, what do you think she said to me,
Harry? She said herself, when I joked with her about her d--d
smiling red cheeks: ''Tis as they do at St. James's; I put up my
red flag when my king comes.' I was the king, you see, she meant.
But now, sir, look at her! I believe she would be glad if I was
dead; and dead I've been to her these five years--ever since you
all of you had the small-pox: and she never forgave me for going
"Indeed, my lord, though 'twas hard to forgive, I think my mistress
forgave it," Harry Esmond said; "and remember how eagerly she
watched your lordship's return, and how sadly she turned away when
she saw your cold looks."
"Damme!" cries out my lord; "would you have had me wait and catch
the small-pox? Where the deuce had been the good of that? I'll
bear danger with any man--but not useless danger--no, no. Thank
you for nothing. And--you nod your head, and I know very well,
Parson Harry, what you mean. There was the--the other affair to
make her angry. But is a woman never to forgive a husband who goes
a-tripping? Do you take me for a saint?"
"Indeed, sir, I do not," says Harry, with a smile.
"Since that time my wife's as cold as the statue at Charing Cross.
I tell thee she has no forgiveness in her, Henry. Her coldness
blights my whole life, and sends me to the punch-bowl, or driving
about the country. My children are not mine, but hers, when we are
together. 'Tis only when she is out of sight with her abominable
cold glances, that run through me, that they'll come to me, and
that I dare to give them so much as a kiss; and that's why I take
'em and love 'em in other people's houses, Harry. I'm killed by
the very virtue of that proud woman. Virtue! give me the virtue
that can forgive; give me the virtue that thinks not of preserving
itself, but of making other folks happy. Damme, what matters a
scar or two if 'tis got in helping a friend in ill fortune?"
And my lord again slapped the table, and took a great draught from
the tankard. Harry Esmond admired as he listened to him, and
thought how the poor preacher of this self-sacrifice had fled from
the small-pox, which the lady had borne so cheerfully, and which
had been the cause of so much disunion in the lives of all in this
house. "How well men preach," thought the young man, "and each is
the example in his own sermon. How each has a story in a dispute,
and a true one, too, and both are right or wrong as you will!"
Harry's heart was pained within him, to watch the struggles and
pangs that tore the breast of this kind, manly friend and protector.
"Indeed, sir," said he, "I wish to God that my mistress could hear
you speak as I have heard you; she would know much that would make
her life the happier, could she hear it." But my lord flung away
with one of his oaths, and a jeer; he said that Parson Harry was a
good fellow; but that as for women, all women were alike--all jades
and heartless. So a man dashes a fine vase down, and despises it
for being broken. It may be worthless--true: but who had the
keeping of it, and who shattered it?
Harry, who would have given his life to make his benefactress and
her husband happy, bethought him, now that he saw what my lord's
state of mind was, and that he really had a great deal of that love
left in his heart, and ready for his wife's acceptance if she would
take it, whether he could not be a means of reconciliation between
these two persons, whom he revered the most in the world. And he
cast about how he should break a part of his mind to his mistress,
and warn her that in his, Harry's opinion, at least, her husband
was still her admirer, and even her lover.
But he found the subject a very difficult one to handle, when he
ventured to remonstrate, which he did in the very gravest tone,
(for long confidence and reiterated proofs of devotion and loyalty
had given him a sort of authority in the house, which he resumed as
soon as ever he returned to it,) and with a speech that should have
some effect, as, indeed, it was uttered with the speaker's own
heart, he ventured most gently to hint to his adored mistress that
she was doing her husband harm by her ill opinion of him, and that
the happiness of all the family depended upon setting her right.
She, who was ordinarily calm and most gentle, and full of smiles
and soft attentions, flushed up when young Esmond so spoke to her,
and rose from her chair, looking at him with a haughtiness and
indignation that he had never before known her to display. She was
quite an altered being for that moment; and looked an angry
princess insulted by a vassal.
"Have you ever heard me utter a word in my lord's disparagement?"
she asked hastily, hissing out her words, and stamping her foot.
"Indeed, no," Esmond said, looking down.
"Are you come to me as his ambassador--YOU?" she continued.
"I would sooner see peace between you than anything else in the
world," Harry answered, "and would go of any embassy that had that
"So YOU are my lord's go-between?" she went on, not regarding this
speech. "You are sent to bid me back into slavery again, and
inform me that my lord's favor is graciously restored to his
handmaid? He is weary of Covent Garden, is he, that he comes home
and would have the fatted calf killed?"
"There's good authority for it, surely," said Esmond.
"For a son, yes; but my lord is not my son. It was he who cast me
away from him. It was he who broke our happiness down, and he bids
me to repair it. It was he who showed himself to me at last, as he
was, not as I had thought him. It is he who comes before my
children stupid and senseless with wine--who leaves our company for
that of frequenters of taverns and bagnios--who goes from his home
to the City yonder and his friends there, and when he is tired of
them returns hither, and expects that I shall kneel and welcome
him. And he sends YOU as his chamberlain! What a proud embassy!
Monsieur, I make you my compliment of the new place."
"It would be a proud embassy, and a happy embassy too, could I
bring you and my lord together," Esmond replied.
"I presume you have fulfilled your mission now, sir. 'Twas a
pretty one for you to undertake. I don't know whether 'tis your
Cambridge philosophy, or time, that has altered your ways of
thinking," Lady Castlewood continued, still in a sarcastic tone.
"Perhaps you too have learned to love drink, and to hiccup over
your wine or punch;--which is your worship's favorite liquor?
Perhaps you too put up at the 'Rose' on your way to London, and
have your acquaintances in Covent Garden. My services to you, sir,
to principal and ambassador, to master and--and lackey."
"Great heavens! madam," cried Harry. "What have I done that thus,
for a second time, you insult me? Do you wish me to blush for what
I used to be proud of, that I lived on your bounty? Next to doing
you a service (which my life would pay for), you know that to
receive one from you is my highest pleasure. What wrong have I
done you that you should wound me so, cruel woman?"
"What wrong?" she said, looking at Esmond with wild eyes. "Well,
none--none that you know of, Harry, or could help. Why did you
bring back the small-pox," she added, after a pause, "from
Castlewood village? You could not help it, could you? Which of us
knows whither fate leads us? But we were all happy, Henry, till
then." And Harry went away from this colloquy, thinking still that
the estrangement between his patron and his beloved mistress was
remediable, and that each had at heart a strong attachment to the
The intimacy between the Lords Mohun and Castlewood appeared to
increase as long as the former remained in the country; and my Lord
of Castlewood especially seemed never to be happy out of his new
comrade's sight. They sported together, they drank, they played
bowls and tennis: my Lord Castlewood would go for three days to
Sark, and bring back my Lord Mohun to Castlewood--where indeed his
lordship made himself very welcome to all persons, having a joke or
a new game at romps for the children, all the talk of the town for
my lord, and music and gallantry and plenty of the beau langage for
my lady, and for Harry Esmond, who was never tired of hearing his
stories of his campaigns and his life at Vienna, Venice, Paris, and
the famous cities of Europe which he had visited both in peace and
war. And he sang at my lady's harpsichord, and played cards or
backgammon, or his new game of billiards with my lord (of whom he
invariably got the better) always having a consummate good-humor,
and bearing himself with a certain manly grace, that might exhibit
somewhat of the camp and Alsatia perhaps, but that had its charm,
and stamped him a gentleman: and his manner to Lady Castlewood was
so devoted and respectful, that she soon recovered from the first
feelings of dislike which she had conceived against him--nay,
before long, began to be interested in his spiritual welfare, and
hopeful of his conversion, lending him books of piety, which he
promised dutifully to study. With her my lord talked of reform, of
settling into quiet life, quitting the court and town, and buying
some land in the neighborhood--though it must be owned that, when
the two lords were together over their Burgundy after dinner, their
talk was very different, and there was very little question of
conversion on my Lord Mohun's part. When they got to their second
bottle, Harry Esmond used commonly to leave these two noble topers,
who, though they talked freely enough, heaven knows, in his
presence (Good Lord, what a set of stories, of Alsatia and Spring
Garden, of the taverns and gaming-houses, of the ladies of the
court, and mesdames of the theatres, he can recall out of their
godly conversation!)--although, I say, they talked before Esmond
freely, yet they seemed pleased when he went away, and then they
had another bottle, and then they fell to cards, and then my Lord
Mohun came to her ladyship's drawing-room; leaving his boon
companion to sleep off his wine.
'Twas a point of honor with the fine gentlemen of those days to
lose or win magnificently at their horse-matches, or games of cards
and dice--and you could never tell, from the demeanor of these two
lords afterwards, which had been successful and which the loser at
their games. And when my lady hinted to my lord that he played
more than she liked, he dismissed her with a "pish," and swore that
nothing was more equal than play betwixt gentlemen, if they did but
keep it up long enough. And these kept it up long enough, you may
be sure. A man of fashion of that time often passed a quarter of
his day at cards, and another quarter at drink: I have known many a
pretty fellow, who was a wit too, ready of repartee, and possessed
of a thousand graces, who would be puzzled if he had to write more
than his name.
There is scarce any thoughtful man or woman, I suppose, but can
look back upon his course of past life, and remember some point,
trifling as it may have seemed at the time of occurrence, which has
nevertheless turned and altered his whole career. 'Tis with almost
all of us, as in M. Massillon's magnificent image regarding King
William, a grain de sable that perverts or perhaps overthrows us;
and so it was but a light word flung in the air, a mere freak of
perverse child's temper, that brought down a whole heap of crushing
woes upon that family whereof Harry Esmond formed a part.
Coming home to his dear Castlewood in the third year of his
academical course, (wherein he had now obtained some distinction,
his Latin Poem on the death of the Duke of Gloucester, Princess
Anne of Denmark's son, having gained him a medal, and introduced
him to the society of the University wits,) Esmond found his little
friend and pupil Beatrix grown to be taller than her mother, a slim
and lovely young girl, with cheeks mantling with health and roses:
with eyes like stars shining out of azure, with waving bronze hair
clustered about the fairest young forehead ever seen: and a mien
and shape haughty and beautiful, such as that of the famous antique
statue of the huntress Diana--at one time haughty, rapid,
imperious, with eyes and arrows that dart and kill. Harry watched
and wondered at this young creature, and likened her in his mind to
Artemis with the ringing bow and shafts flashing death upon the
children of Niobe; at another time she was coy and melting as Luna
shining tenderly upon Endymion. This fair creature, this lustrous
Phoebe, was only young as yet, nor had nearly reached her full
splendor: but crescent and brilliant, our young gentleman of the
University, his head full of poetical fancies, his heart perhaps
throbbing with desires undefined, admired this rising young
divinity; and gazed at her (though only as at some "bright
particular star," far above his earth) with endless delight and
wonder. She had been a coquette from the earliest times almost,
trying her freaks and jealousies, her wayward frolics and winning
caresses, upon all that came within her reach; she set her women
quarrelling in the nursery, and practised her eyes on the groom as
she rode behind him on the pillion.
She was the darling and torment of father and mother. She
intrigued with each secretly; and bestowed her fondness and
withdrew it, plied them with tears, smiles, kisses, cajolements;--
when the mother was angry, as happened often, flew to the father,
and sheltering behind him, pursued her victim; when both were
displeased, transferred her caresses to the domestics, or watched
until she could win back her parents' good graces, either by
surprising them into laughter and good-humor, or appeasing them by
submission and artful humility. She was saevo laeta negotio, like
that fickle goddess Horace describes, and of whose "malicious joy"
a great poet of our own has written so nobly--who, famous and
heroic as he was, was not strong enough to resist the torture of
It was but three years before that the child, then but ten years
old, had nearly managed to make a quarrel between Harry Esmond and
his comrade, good-natured, phlegmatic Thomas Tusher, who never of
his own seeking quarrelled with anybody: by quoting to the latter
some silly joke which Harry had made regarding him--(it was the
merest idlest jest, though it near drove two old friends to blows,
and I think such a battle would have pleased her)--and from that
day Tom kept at a distance from her; and she respected him, and
coaxed him sedulously whenever they met. But Harry was much more
easily appeased, because he was fonder of the child: and when she
made mischief, used cutting speeches, or caused her friends pain,
she excused herself for her fault, not by admitting and deploring
it, but by pleading not guilty, and asserting innocence so
constantly, and with such seeming artlessness, that it was
impossible to question her plea. In her childhood, they were but
mischiefs then which she did; but her power became more fatal as
she grew older--as a kitten first plays with a ball, and then
pounces on a bird and kills it. 'Tis not to be imagined that Harry
Esmond had all this experience at this early stage of his life,
whereof he is now writing the history--many things here noted were
but known to him in later days. Almost everything Beatrix did or
undid seemed good, or at least pardonable, to him then, and years
It happened, then, that Harry Esmond came home to Castlewood for
his last vacation, with good hopes of a fellowship at his college,
and a contented resolve to advance his fortune that way. 'Twas in
the first year of the present century, Mr. Esmond (as far as he
knew the period of his birth) being then twenty-two years old. He
found his quondam pupil shot up into this beauty of which we have
spoken, and promising yet more: her brother, my lord's son, a
handsome high-spirited brave lad, generous and frank, and kind to
everybody, save perhaps his sister, with whom Frank was at war (and
not from his but her fault)--adoring his mother, whose joy he was:
and taking her side in the unhappy matrimonial differences which
were now permanent, while of course Mistress Beatrix ranged with
her father. When heads of families fall out, it must naturally be
that their dependants wear the one or the other party's color; and
even in the parliaments in the servants' hall or the stables,
Harry, who had an early observant turn, could see which were my
lord's adherents and which my lady's, and conjecture pretty
shrewdly how their unlucky quarrel was debated. Our lackeys sit in
judgment on us. My lord's intrigues may be ever so stealthily
conducted, but his valet knows them; and my lady's woman carries
her mistress's private history to the servants' scandal market, and
exchanges it against the secrets of other abigails.
MY LORD LEAVES US AND HIS EVIL BEHIND HIM.
My Lord Mohun (of whose exploits and fame some of the gentlemen of
the University had brought down but ugly reports) was once more a
guest at Castlewood, and seemingly more intimately allied with my
lord even than before. Once in the spring those two noblemen had
ridden to Cambridge from Newmarket, whither they had gone for the
horse-racing, and had honored Harry Esmond with a visit at his
rooms; after which Doctor Montague, the master of the College, who
had treated Harry somewhat haughtily, seeing his familiarity with
these great folks, and that my Lord Castlewood laughed and walked
with his hand on Harry's shoulder, relented to Mr. Esmond, and
condescended to be very civil to him; and some days after his
arrival, Harry, laughing, told this story to Lady Esmond, remarking
how strange it was that men famous for learning and renowned over
Europe, should, nevertheless, so bow down to a title, and cringe to
a nobleman ever so poor. At this Mistress Beatrix flung up her
head, and said it became those of low origin to respect their
betters; that the parsons made themselves a great deal too proud,
she thought; and that she liked the way at Lady Sark's best, where
the chaplain, though he loved pudding, as all parsons do, always
went away before the custard.
"And when I am a parson," says Mr. Esmond, "will you give me no
"You--you are different," Beatrix answered. "You are of our
"My father was a parson, as you call him," said my lady.
"But mine is a peer of Ireland," says Mistress Beatrix, tossing her
head. "Let people know their places. I suppose you will have me
go down on my knees and ask a blessing of Mr. Thomas Tusher, that
has just been made a curate and whose mother was a waiting-maid."
And she tossed out of the room, being in one of her flighty humors
When she was gone, my lady looked so sad and grave, that Harry
asked the cause of her disquietude. She said it was not merely
what he said of Newmarket, but what she had remarked, with great
anxiety and terror, that my lord, ever since his acquaintance with
the Lord Mohun especially, had recurred to his fondness for play,
which he had renounced since his marriage.
"But men promise more than they are able to perform in marriage,"
said my lady, with a sigh. "I fear he has lost large sums; and our
property, always small, is dwindling away under this reckless
dissipation. I heard of him in London with very wild company.
Since his return, letters and lawyers are constantly coming and
going: he seems to me to have a constant anxiety, though he hides
it under boisterousness and laughter. I looked through--through
the door last night, and--and before," said my lady, "and saw them
at cards after midnight; no estate will bear that extravagance,
much less ours, which will be so diminished that my son will have
nothing at all, and my poor Beatrix no portion!"
"I wish I could help you, madam," said Harry Esmond, sighing, and
wishing that unavailingly, and for the thousandth time in his life.
"Who can? Only God," said Lady Esmond--"only God, in whose hands
we are." And so it is, and for his rule over his family, and for
his conduct to wife and children--subjects over whom his power is
monarchical--any one who watches the world must think with
trembling sometimes of the account which many a man will have to
render. For in our society there's no law to control the King of
the Fireside. He is master of property, happiness--life almost.
He is free to punish, to make happy or unhappy--to ruin or to
torture. He may kill a wife gradually, and be no more questioned
than the Grand seignior who drowns a slave at midnight. He may
make slaves and hypocrites of his children; or friends and freemen;
or drive them into revolt and enmity against the natural law of
love. I have heard politicians and coffee-house wiseacres talking
over the newspaper, and railing at the tyranny of the French King,
and the Emperor, and wondered how these (who are monarchs, too, in
their way) govern their own dominions at home, where each man rules
absolute. When the annals of each little reign are shown to the
Supreme Master, under whom we hold sovereignty, histories will be
laid bare of household tyrants as cruel as Amurath, and as savage
as Nero, and as reckless and dissolute as Charles.
If Harry Esmond's patron erred, 'twas in the latter way, from a
disposition rather self-indulgent than cruel; and he might have
been brought back to much better feelings, had time been given to
him to bring his repentance to a lasting reform.
As my lord and his friend Lord Mohun were such close companions,
Mistress Beatrix chose to be jealous of the latter; and the two
gentlemen often entertained each other by laughing, in their rude
boisterous way, at the child's freaks of anger and show of dislike.
"When thou art old enough, thou shalt marry Lord Mohun," Beatrix's
father would say: on which the girl would pout and say, "I would
rather marry Tom Tusher." And because the Lord Mohun always showed
an extreme gallantry to my Lady Castlewood, whom he professed to
admire devotedly, one day, in answer to this old joke of her
father's, Beatrix said, "I think my lord would rather marry mamma
than marry me; and is waiting till you die to ask her."
The words were said lightly and pertly by the girl one night before
supper, as the family party were assembled near the great fire.
The two lords, who were at cards, both gave a start; my lady turned
as red as scarlet, and bade Mistress Beatrix go to her own chamber;
whereupon the girl, putting on, as her wont was, the most innocent
air, said, "I am sure I meant no wrong; I am sure mamma talks a
great deal more to Harry Esmond than she does to papa--and she
cried when Harry went away, and she never does when papa goes away!
and last night she talked to Lord Mohun for ever so long, and sent
us out of the room, and cried when we came back, and--"
"D--n!" cried out my Lord Castlewood, out of all patience. "Go out
of the room, you little viper!" and he started up and flung down
"Ask Lord Mohun what I said to him, Francis," her ladyship said,
rising up with a scared face, but yet with a great and touching
dignity and candor in her look and voice. "Come away with me,
Beatrix." Beatrix sprung up too; she was in tears now.
"Dearest mamma, what have I done?" she asked. "Sure I meant no
harm." And she clung to her mother, and the pair went out sobbing
"I will tell you what your wife said to me, Frank," my Lord Mohun
cried. "Parson Harry may hear it; and, as I hope for heaven, every
word I say is true. Last night, with tears in her eyes, your wife
implored me to play no more with you at dice or at cards, and you
know best whether what she asked was not for your good."
"Of course, it was, Mohun," says my lord in a dry hard voice. "Of
course you are a model of a man: and the world knows what a saint
My Lord Mohun was separated from his wife, and had had many affairs
of honor: of which women as usual had been the cause.
"I am no saint, though your wife is--and I can answer for my
actions as other people must for their words," said my Lord Mohun.
"By G--, my lord, you shall," cried the other, starting up.
"We have another little account to settle first, my lord," says
Lord Mohun. Whereupon Harry Esmond, filled with alarm for the
consequences to which this disastrous dispute might lead, broke out
into the most vehement expostulations with his patron and his
adversary. "Gracious heavens!" he said, "my lord, are you going to
draw a sword upon your friend in your own house? Can you doubt the
honor of a lady who is as pure as heaven, and would die a thousand
times rather than do you a wrong? Are the idle words of a jealous
child to set friends at variance? Has not my mistress, as much as
she dared do, besought your lordship, as the truth must be told, to
break your intimacy with my Lord Mohun; and to give up the habit
which may bring ruin on your family? But for my Lord Mohun's
illness, had he not left you?"
"'Faith, Frank, a man with a gouty toe can't run after other men's
wives," broke out my Lord Mohun, who indeed was in that way, and
with a laugh and a look at his swathed limb so frank and comical,
that the other dashing his fist across his forehead was caught by
that infectious good-humor, and said with his oath, "---- it,
Harry, I believe thee," and so this quarrel was over, and the two
gentlemen, at swords drawn but just now, dropped their points, and
Beati pacifici. "Go, bring my lady back," said Harry's patron.
Esmond went away only too glad to be the bearer of such good news.
He found her at the door; she had been listening there, but went
back as he came. She took both his hands, hers were marble cold.
She seemed as if she would fall on his shoulder. "Thank you, and
God bless you, my dear brother Harry," she said. She kissed his
hand, Esmond felt her tears upon it: and leading her into the room,
and up to my lord, the Lord Castlewood, with an outbreak of feeling
and affection such as he had not exhibited for many a long day,
took his wife to his heart, and bent over and kissed her and asked
"'Tis time for me to go to roost. I will have my gruel a-bed,"
said my Lord Mohun: and limped off comically on Harry Esmond's arm.
"By George, that woman is a pearl!" he said; "and 'tis only a pig
that wouldn't value her. Have you seen the vulgar traipsing
orange-girl whom Esmond"--but here Mr. Esmond interrupted him,
saying, that these were not affairs for him to know.
My lord's gentleman came in to wait upon his master, who was no
sooner in his nightcap and dressing-gown than he had another
visitor whom his host insisted on sending to him: and this was no
other than the Lady Castlewood herself with the toast and gruel,
which her husband bade her make and carry with her own hands in to
Lord Castlewood stood looking after his wife as she went on this
errand, and as he looked, Harry Esmond could not but gaze on him,
and remarked in his patron's face an expression of love, and grief,
and care, which very much moved and touched the young man. Lord
Castlewood's hands fell down at his sides, and his head on his
breast, and presently he said,--
"You heard what Mohun said, parson?"
"That my lady was a saint?"
"That there are two accounts to settle. I have been going wrong
these five years, Harry Esmond. Ever since you brought that damned
small-pox into the house, there has been a fate pursuing me, and I
had best have died of it, and not run away from it like a coward.
I left Beatrix with her relations, and went to London; and I fell
among thieves, Harry, and I got back to confounded cards and dice,
which I hadn't touched since my marriage--no, not since I was in
the Duke's Guard, with those wild Mohocks. And I have been playing
worse and worse, and going deeper and deeper into it; and I owe
Mohun two thousand pounds now; and when it's paid I am little
better than a beggar. I don't like to look my boy in the face; he
hates me, I know he does. And I have spent Beaty's little portion:
and the Lord knows what will come if I live; the best thing I can
do is to die, and release what portion of the estate is redeemable
for the boy."
Mohun was as much master at Castlewood as the owner of the Hall
itself; and his equipages filled the stables, where, indeed, there
was room and plenty for many more horses than Harry Esmond's
impoverished patron could afford to keep. He had arrived on
horseback with his people; but when his gout broke out my Lord
Mohun sent to London for a light chaise he had, drawn by a pair of
small horses, and running as swift, wherever roads were good, as a
Laplander's sledge. When this carriage came, his lordship was
eager to drive the Lady Castlewood abroad in it, and did so many
times, and at a rapid pace, greatly to his companion's enjoyment,
who loved the swift motion and the healthy breezes over the downs
which lie hard upon Castlewood, and stretch thence towards the sea.
As this amusement was very pleasant to her, and her lord, far from
showing any mistrust of her intimacy with Lord Mohun, encouraged
her to be his companion--as if willing by his present extreme
confidence to make up for any past mistrust which his jealousy had
shown--the Lady Castlewood enjoyed herself freely in this harmless
diversion, which, it must be owned, her guest was very eager to
give her; and it seemed that she grew the more free with Lord
Mohun, and pleased with his company, because of some sacrifice
which his gallantry was pleased to make in her favor.
Seeing the two gentlemen constantly at cards still of evenings,
Harry Esmond one day deplored to his mistress that this fatal
infatuation of her lord should continue; and now they seemed
reconciled together, begged his lady to hint to her husband that he
should play no more.
But Lady Castlewood, smiling archly and gayly, said she would speak
to him presently, and that, for a few nights more at least, he
might be let to have his amusement.
"Indeed, madam," said Harry, "you know not what it costs you; and
'tis easy for any observer who knows the game, to see that Lord
Mohun is by far the stronger of the two."
"I know he is," says my lady, still with exceeding good-humor; "he
is not only the best player, but the kindest player in the world."
"Madam, madam!" Esmond cried, transported and provoked. "Debts of
honor must be paid some time or other; and my master will be ruined
if he goes on."
"Harry, shall I tell you a secret?" my lady replied, with kindness
and pleasure still in her eyes. "Francis will not be ruined if he
goes on; he will be rescued if he goes on. I repent of having
spoken and thought unkindly of the Lord Mohun when he was here in
the past year. He is full of much kindness and good; and 'tis my
belief that we shall bring him to better things. I have lent him
'Tillotson' and your favorite 'Bishop Taylor,' and he is much
touched, he says; and as a proof of his repentance--(and herein
lies my secret)--what do you think he is doing with Francis? He is
letting poor Frank win his money back again. He hath won already
at the last four nights; and my Lord Mohun says that he will not be
the means of injuring poor Frank and my dear children."
"And in God's name, what do you return him for the sacrifice?"
asked Esmond, aghast; who knew enough of men, and of this one in
particular, to be aware that such a finished rake gave nothing for
nothing. "How, in heaven's name, are you to pay him?"
"Pay him! With a mother's blessing and a wife's prayers!" cries my
lady, clasping her hands together. Harry Esmond did not know
whether to laugh, to be angry, or to love his dear mistress more
than ever for the obstinate innocency with which she chose to
regard the conduct of a man of the world, whose designs he knew
better how to interpret. He told the lady, guardedly, but so as to
make his meaning quite clear to her, what he knew in respect of the
former life and conduct of this nobleman; of other women against
whom he had plotted, and whom he had overcome; of the conversation
which he, Harry himself, had had with Lord Mohun, wherein the lord
made a boast of his libertinism, and frequently avowed that he held
all women to be fair game (as his lordship styled this pretty
sport), and that they were all, without exception, to be won. And
the return Harry had for his entreaties and remonstrances was a fit
of anger on Lady Castlewood's part, who would not listen to his
accusations; she said and retorted that he himself must be very
wicked and perverted to suppose evil designs where she was sure
none were meant. "And this is the good meddlers get of
interfering," Harry thought to himself with much bitterness; and
his perplexity and annoyance were only the greater, because he
could not speak to my Lord Castlewood himself upon a subject of
this nature, or venture to advise or warn him regarding a matter so
very sacred as his own honor, of which my lord was naturally the
But though Lady Castlewood would listen to no advice from her young
dependant, and appeared indignantly to refuse it when offered,
Harry had the satisfaction to find that she adopted the counsel
which she professed to reject; for the next day she pleaded a
headache, when my Lord Mohun would have had her drive out, and the
next day the headache continued; and next day, in a laughing gay
way, she proposed that the children should take her place in his
lordship's car, for they would be charmed with a ride of all
things; and she must not have all the pleasure for herself. My
lord gave them a drive with a very good grace, though, I dare say,
with rage and disappointment inwardly--not that his heart was very
seriously engaged in his designs upon this simple lady: but the
life of such men is often one of intrigue, and they can no more go
through the day without a woman to pursue, than a fox-hunter
without his sport after breakfast.
Under an affected carelessness of demeanor, and though there was no
outward demonstration of doubt upon his patron's part since the
quarrel between the two lords, Harry yet saw that Lord Castlewood
was watching his guest very narrowly; and caught sight of distrust
and smothered rage (as Harry thought) which foreboded no good. On
the point of honor Esmond knew how touchy his patron was; and
watched him almost as a physician watches a patient, and it seemed
to him that this one was slow to take the disease, though he could
not throw off the poison when once it had mingled with his blood.
We read in Shakspeare (whom the writer for his part considers to be
far beyond Mr. Congreve, Mr. Dryden, or any of the wits of the
present period,) that when jealousy is once declared, nor poppy,
nor mandragora, nor all the drowsy syrups of the East, will ever
soothe it or medicine it away.
In fine, the symptoms seemed to be so alarming to this young
physician (who, indeed, young as he was, had felt the kind pulses
of all those dear kinsmen), that Harry thought it would be his duty
to warn my Lord Mohun, and let him know that his designs were
suspected and watched. So one day, when in rather a pettish humor
his lordship had sent to Lady Castlewood, who had promised to drive
with him, and now refused to come, Harry said--"My lord, if you
will kindly give me a place by your side I will thank you; I have
much to say to you, and would like to speak to you alone."
"You honor me by giving me your confidence, Mr. Henry Esmond," says
the other, with a very grand bow. My lord was always a fine
gentleman, and young as he was there was that in Esmond's manner
which showed that he was a gentleman too, and that none might take
a liberty with him--so the pair went out, and mounted the little
carriage, which was in waiting for them in the court, with its two
little cream-colored Hanoverian horses covered with splendid
furniture and champing at the bit.
"My lord," says Harry Esmond, after they were got into the country,
and pointing to my Lord Mohun's foot, which was swathed in flannel,
and put up rather ostentatiously on a cushion--"my lord, I studied
medicine at Cambridge."
"Indeed, Parson Harry," says he; "and are you going to take out a
diploma: and cure your fellow-students of the--"
"Of the gout," says Harry, interrupting him, and looking him hard
in the face; "I know a good deal about the gout."
"I hope you may never have it. 'Tis an infernal disease," says my
lord, "and its twinges are diabolical. Ah!" and he made a dreadful
wry face, as if he just felt a twinge.
"Your lordship would be much better if you took off all that
flannel--it only serves to inflame the toe," Harry continued,
looking his man full in the face.
"Oh! it only serves to inflame the toe, does it?" says the other,
with an innocent air.
"If you took off that flannel, and flung that absurd slipper away,
and wore a boot," continues Harry.
"You recommend me boots, Mr. Esmond?" asks my lord.
"Yes, boots and spurs. I saw your lordship three days ago run down
the gallery fast enough," Harry goes on. "I am sure that taking
gruel at night is not so pleasant as claret to your lordship; and
besides it keeps your lordship's head cool for play, whilst my
patron's is hot and flustered with drink."
"'Sdeath, sir, you dare not say that I don't play fair?" cries my
lord, whipping his horses, which went away at a gallop.
"You are cool when my lord is drunk," Harry continued; "your
lordship gets the better of my patron. I have watched you as I
looked up from my books."
"You young Argus!" says Lord Mohun, who liked Harry Esmond--and for
whose company and wit, and a certain daring manner, Harry had a
great liking too--"You young Argus! you may look with all your
hundred eyes and see we play fair. I've played away an estate of a
night, and I've played my shirt off my back; and I've played away
my periwig and gone home in a nightcap. But no man can say I ever
took an advantage of him beyond the advantage of the game. I
played a dice-cogging scoundrel in Alsatia for his ears and won
'em, and have one of 'em in my lodging in Bow Street in a bottle of
spirits. Harry Mohun will play any man for anything--always
"You are playing awful stakes, my lord, in my patron's house,"
Harry said, "and more games than are on the cards."
"What do you mean, sir?" cries my lord, turning round, with a flush
on his face.
"I mean," answers Harry, in a sarcastic tone, "that your gout is
well--if ever you had it."
"Sir!" cried my lord, getting hot.
"And to tell the truth I believe your lordship has no more gout
than I have. At any rate, change of air will do you good, my Lord
Mohun. And I mean fairly that you had better go from Castlewood."
"And were you appointed to give me this message?" cries the Lord
Mohun. "Did Frank Esmond commission you?"
"No one did. 'Twas the honor of my family that commissioned me."
"And you are prepared to answer this?" cries the other, furiously
lashing his horses.
"Quite, my lord: your lordship will upset the carriage if you whip
"By George, you have a brave spirit!" my lord cried out, bursting
into a laugh. "I suppose 'tis that infernal botte de Jesuite that
makes you so bold," he added.
"'Tis the peace of the family I love best in the world," Harry
Esmond said warmly--"'tis the honor of a noble benefactor--the
happiness of my dear mistress and her children. I owe them
everything in life, my lord; and would lay it down for any one of
them. What brings you here to disturb this quiet household? What
keeps you lingering month after month in the country? What makes
you feign illness, and invent pretexts for delay? Is it to win my
poor patron's money? Be generous, my lord, and spare his weakness
for the sake of his wife and children. Is it to practise upon the
simple heart of a virtuous lady? You might as well storm the Tower
single-handed. But you may blemish her name by light comments on
it, or by lawless pursuits--and I don't deny that 'tis in your
power to make her unhappy. Spare these innocent people, and leave
"By the Lord, I believe thou hast an eye to the pretty Puritan
thyself, Master Harry," says my lord, with his reckless, good-
humored laugh, and as if he had been listening with interest to the
passionate appeal of the young man. "Whisper, Harry. Art thou in
love with her thyself? Hath tipsy Frank Esmond come by the way of
"My lord, my lord," cried Harry, his face flushing and his eyes
filling as he spoke, "I never had a mother, but I love this lady as
one. I worship her as a devotee worships a saint. To hear her
name spoken lightly seems blasphemy to me. Would you dare think of
your own mother so, or suffer any one so to speak of her? It is a
horror to me to fancy that any man should think of her impurely. I
implore you, I beseech you, to leave her. Danger will come out of
"Danger, psha!" says my lord, giving a cut to the horses, which at
this minute--for we were got on to the Downs--fairly ran off into a
gallop that no pulling could stop. The rein broke in Lord Mohun's
hands, and the furious beasts scampered madly forwards, the
carriage swaying to and fro, and the persons within it holding on
to the sides as best they might, until seeing a great ravine before
them, where an upset was inevitable, the two gentlemen leapt for
their lives, each out of his side of the chaise. Harry Esmond was
quit for a fall on the grass, which was so severe that it stunned
him for a minute; but he got up presently very sick, and bleeding
at the nose, but with no other hurt. The Lord Mohun was not so
fortunate; he fell on his head against a stone, and lay on the
ground, dead to all appearance.
This misadventure happened as the gentlemen were on their return
homewards; and my Lord Castlewood, with his son and daughter, who
were going out for a ride, met the ponies as they were galloping
with the car behind, the broken traces entangling their heels, and
my lord's people turned and stopped them. It was young Frank who
spied out Lord Mohun's scarlet coat as he lay on the ground, and
the party made up to that unfortunate gentleman and Esmond, who was
now standing over him. His large periwig and feathered hat had
fallen off, and he was bleeding profusely from a wound on the
forehead, and looking, and being, indeed, a corpse.
"Great God! he's dead!" says my lord. "Ride, some one: fetch a
doctor--stay. I'll go home and bring back Tusher; he knows
surgery," and my lord, with his son after him, galloped away.
They were scarce gone when Harry Esmond, who was indeed but just
come to himself, bethought him of a similar accident which he had
seen on a ride from Newmarket to Cambridge, and taking off a sleeve
of my lord's coat, Harry, with a penknife, opened a vein of his
arm, and was greatly relieved, after a moment, to see the blood