Part 4 out of 10
flow. He was near half an hour before he came to himself, by which
time Doctor Tusher and little Frank arrived, and found my lord not
a corpse indeed, but as pale as one.
After a time, when he was able to bear motion, they put my lord
upon a groom's horse, and gave the other to Esmond, the men walking
on each side of my lord, to support him, if need were, and worthy
Doctor Tusher with them. Little Frank and Harry rode together at a
When we rode together home, the boy said: "We met mamma, who was
walking on the terrace with the doctor, and papa frightened her,
and told her you were dead . . ."
"That I was dead!" asks Harry.
"Yes. Papa says: 'Here's poor Harry killed, my dear;' on which
mamma gives a great scream; and oh, Harry! she drops down; and I
thought she was dead too. And you never saw such a way as papa was
in: he swore one of his great oaths: and he turned quite pale; and
then he began to laugh somehow, and he told the Doctor to take his
horse, and me to follow him; and we left him. And I looked back,
and saw him dashing water out of the fountain on to mamma. Oh, she
was so frightened!"
Musing upon this curious history--for my Lord Mohun's name was
Henry too, and they called each other Frank and Harry often--and
not a little disturbed and anxious, Esmond rode home. His dear
lady was on the terrace still, one of her women with her, and my
lord no longer there. There are steps and a little door thence
down into the road. My lord passed, looking very ghastly, with a
handkerchief over his head, and without his hat and periwig, which
a groom carried, but his politeness did not desert him, and he made
a bow to the lady above.
"Thank heaven, you are safe," she said.
"And so is Harry too, mamma," says little Frank,--"huzzay!"
Harry Esmond got off the horse to run to his mistress, as did
little Frank, and one of the grooms took charge of the two beasts,
while the other, hat and periwig in hand, walked by my lord's
bridle to the front gate, which lay half a mile away.
"Oh, my boy! what a fright you have given me!" Lady Castlewood
said, when Harry Esmond came up, greeting him with one of her
shining looks, and a voice of tender welcome; and she was so kind
as to kiss the young man ('twas the second time she had so honored
him), and she walked into the house between him and her son,
holding a hand of each.
WE RIDE AFTER HIM TO LONDON.
After a repose of a couple of days, the Lord Mohun was so far
recovered of his hurt as to be able to announce his departure for
the next morning; when, accordingly, he took leave of Castlewood,
proposing to ride to London by easy stages, and lie two nights upon
the road. His host treated him with a studied and ceremonious
courtesy, certainly different from my lord's usual frank and
careless demeanor; but there was no reason to suppose that the two
lords parted otherwise than good friends, though Harry Esmond
remarked that my Lord Viscount only saw his guest in company with
other persons, and seemed to avoid being alone with him. Nor did
he ride any distance with Lord Mohun, as his custom was with most
of his friends, whom he was always eager to welcome and unwilling
to lose; but contented himself, when his lordship's horses were
announced, and their owner appeared, booted for his journey, to
take a courteous leave of the ladies of Castlewood, by following
the Lord Mohun down stairs to his horses, and by bowing and wishing
him a good-day, in the court-yard. "I shall see you in London
before very long, Mohun," my lord said, with a smile, "when we will
settle our accounts together."
"Do not let them trouble you, Frank," said the other good-
naturedly, and holding out his hand, looked rather surprised at the
grim and stately manner in which his host received his parting
salutation; and so, followed by his people, he rode away.
Harry Esmond was witness of the departure. It was very different
to my lord's coming, for which great preparation had been made (the
old house putting on its best appearance to welcome its guest), and
there was a sadness and constraint about all persons that day,
which filled Mr. Esmond with gloomy forebodings, and sad indefinite
apprehensions. Lord Castlewood stood at the door watching his
guest and his people as they went out under the arch of the outer
gate. When he was there, Lord Mohun turned once more, my Lord
Viscount slowly raised his beaver and bowed. His face wore a
peculiar livid look, Harry thought. He cursed and kicked away his
dogs, which came jumping about him--then he walked up to the
fountain in the centre of the court, and leaned against a pillar
and looked into the basin. As Esmond crossed over to his own room,
late the chaplain's, on the other side of the court, and turned to
enter in at the low door, he saw Lady Castlewood looking through
the curtains of the great window of the drawing-room overhead, at
my lord as he stood regarding the fountain. There was in the court
a peculiar silence somehow; and the scene remained long in Esmond's
memory:--the sky bright overhead; the buttresses of the building
and the sun-dial casting shadow over the gilt memento mori
inscribed underneath; the two dogs, a black greyhound and a spaniel
nearly white, the one with his face up to the sun, and the other
snuffing amongst the grass and stones, and my lord leaning over the
fountain, which was bubbling audibly. 'Tis strange how that scene,
and the sound of that fountain, remain fixed on the memory of a man
who has beheld a hundred sights of splendor, and danger too, of
which he has kept no account.
It was Lady Castlewood--she had been laughing all the morning, and
especially gay and lively before her husband and his guest--who as
soon as the two gentlemen went together from her room, ran to
Harry, the expression of her countenance quite changed now, and
with a face and eyes full of care, and said, "Follow them, Harry, I
am sure something has gone wrong." And so it was that Esmond was
made an eavesdropper at this lady's orders and retired to his own
chamber, to give himself time in truth to try and compose a story
which would soothe his mistress, for he could not but have his own
apprehension that some serious quarrel was pending between the two
And now for several days the little company at Castlewood sat at
table as of evenings: this care, though unnamed and invisible,
being nevertheless present alway, in the minds of at least three
persons there. My lord was exceeding gentle and kind. Whenever he
quitted the room, his wife's eyes followed him. He behaved to her
with a kind of mournful courtesy and kindness remarkable in one of
his blunt ways and ordinary rough manner. He called her by her
Christian name often and fondly, was very soft and gentle with the
children, especially with the boy, whom he did not love, and being
lax about church generally, he went thither and performed all the
offices (down even to listening to Dr. Tusher's sermon) with great
"He paces his room all night; what is it? Henry, find out what it
is," Lady Castlewood said constantly to her young dependant. "He
has sent three letters to London," she said, another day.
"Indeed, madam, they were to a lawyer," Harry answered, who knew of
these letters, and had seen a part of the correspondence, which
related to a new loan my lord was raising; and when the young man
remonstrated with his patron, my lord said, "He was only raising
money to pay off an old debt on the property, which must be
Regarding the money, Lady Castlewood was not in the least anxious.
Few fond women feel money-distressed; indeed you can hardly give a
woman a greater pleasure than to bid her pawn her diamonds for the
man she loves; and I remember hearing Mr. Congreve say of my Lord
Marlborough, that the reason why my lord was so successful with
women as a young man, was because he took money of them. "There
are few men who will make such a sacrifice for them," says Mr.
Congreve, who knew a part of the sex pretty well.
Harry Esmond's vacation was just over, and, as hath been said, he
was preparing to return to the University for his last term before
taking his degree and entering into the Church. He had made up his
mind for this office, not indeed with that reverence which becomes
a man about to enter upon a duty so holy, but with a worldly spirit
of acquiescence in the prudence of adopting that profession for his
calling. But his reasoning was that he owed all to the family of
Castlewood, and loved better to be near them than anywhere else in
the world; that he might be useful to his benefactors, who had the
utmost confidence in him and affection for him in return; that he
might aid in bringing up the young heir of the house and acting as
his governor; that he might continue to be his dear patron's and
mistress's friend and adviser, who both were pleased to say that
they should ever look upon him as such; and so, by making himself
useful to those he loved best, he proposed to console himself for
giving up of any schemes of ambition which he might have had in his
own bosom. Indeed, his mistress had told him that she would not
have him leave her; and whatever she commanded was will to him.
The Lady Castlewood's mind was greatly relieved in the last few
days of this well-remembered holiday time, by my lord's announcing
one morning, after the post had brought him letters from London, in
a careless tone, that the Lord Mohun was gone to Paris, and was
about to make a great journey in Europe; and though Lord
Castlewood's own gloom did not wear off, or his behavior alter, yet
this cause of anxiety being removed from his lady's mind, she began
to be more hopeful and easy in her spirits, striving too, with all
her heart, and by all the means of soothing in her power, to call
back my lord's cheerfulness and dissipate his moody humor.
He accounted for it himself, by saying that he was out of health;
that he wanted to see his physician; that he would go to London,
and consult Doctor Cheyne. It was agreed that his lordship and
Harry Esmond should make the journey as far as London together; and
of a Monday morning, the 11th of October, in the year 1700, they
set forwards towards London on horseback. The day before being
Sunday, and the rain pouring down, the family did not visit church;
and at night my lord read the service to his family very finely,
and with a peculiar sweetness and gravity--speaking the parting
benediction, Harry thought, as solemn as ever he heard it. And he
kissed and embraced his wife and children before they went to their
own chambers with more fondness than he was ordinarily wont to
show, and with a solemnity and feeling of which they thought in
after days with no small comfort.
They took horse the next morning (after adieux from the family as
tender as on the night previous), lay that night on the road, and
entered London at nightfall; my lord going to the "Trumpet," in the
Cockpit, Whitehall, a house used by the military in his time as a
young man, and accustomed by his lordship ever since.
An hour after my lord's arrival (which showed that his visit had
been arranged beforehand), my lord's man of business arrived from
Gray's Inn; and thinking that his patron might wish to be private
with the lawyer, Esmond was for leaving them: but my lord said his
business was short; introduced Mr. Esmond particularly to the
lawyer, who had been engaged for the family in the old lord's time;
who said that he had paid the money, as desired that day, to my
Lord Mohun himself, at his lodgings in Bow Street; that his
lordship had expressed some surprise, as it was not customary to
employ lawyers, he said, in such transactions between men of honor;
but nevertheless, he had returned my Lord Viscount's note of hand,
which he held at his client's disposition.
"I thought the Lord Mohun had been in Paris!" cried Mr. Esmond, in
great alarm and astonishment.
"He is come back at my invitation," said my Lord Viscount. "We
have accounts to settle together."
"I pray heaven they are over, sir," says Esmond.
"Oh, quite," replied the other, looking hard at the young man. "He
was rather troublesome about that money which I told you I had lost
to him at play. And now 'tis paid, and we are quits on that score,
and we shall meet good friends again."
"My lord," cried out Esmond, "I am sure you are deceiving me, and
that there is a quarrel between the Lord Mohun and you."
"Quarrel--pish! We shall sup together this very night, and drink a
bottle. Every man is ill-humored who loses such a sum as I have
lost. But now 'tis paid, and my anger is gone with it."
"Where shall we sup, sir?" says Harry.
"WE! Let some gentlemen wait till they are asked," says my Lord
Viscount with a laugh. "You go to Duke Street, and see Mr.
Betterton. You love the play, I know. Leave me to follow my own
devices: and in the morning we'll breakfast together, with what
appetite we may, as the play says."
"By G--! my lord, I will not leave you this night," says Harry
Esmond. "I think I know the cause of your dispute. I swear to you
'tis nothing. On the very day the accident befell Lord Mohun, I
was speaking to him about it. I know that nothing has passed but
idle gallantry on his part."
"You know that nothing has passed but idle gallantry between Lord
Mohun and my wife," says my lord, in a thundering voice--"you knew
of this and did not tell me?"
"I knew more of it than my dear mistress did herself, sir--a
thousand times more. How was she, who was as innocent as a child,
to know what was the meaning of the covert addresses of a villain?"
"A villain he is, you allow, and would have taken my wife away from
"Sir, she is as pure as an angel," cried young Esmond.
"Have I said a word against her?" shrieks out my lord. "Did I ever
doubt that she was pure? It would have been the last day of her
life when I did. Do you fancy I think that SHE would go astray?
No, she hasn't passion enough for that. She neither sins nor
forgives. I know her temper--and now I've lost her, by heaven I
love her ten thousand times more than ever I did--yes, when she was
as young and as beautiful as an angel--when she smiled at me in her
old father's house, and used to lie in wait for me there as I came
from hunting--when I used to fling my head down on her little knees
and cry like a child on her lap--and swear I would reform, and
drink no more and play no more, and follow women no more; when all
the men of the Court used to be following her--when she used to
look with her child more beautiful, by George, than the Madonna in
the Queen's Chapel. I am not good like her, I know it. Who is--by
heaven, who is? I tired and wearied her, I know that very well. I
could not talk to her. You men of wit and books could do that, and
I couldn't--I felt I couldn't. Why, when you was but a boy of
fifteen I could hear you two together talking your poetry and your
books till I was in such a rage that I was fit to strangle you.
But you were always a good lad, Harry, and I loved you, you know I
did. And I felt she didn't belong to me: and the children don't.
And I besotted myself, and gambled and drank, and took to all sorts
of deviltries out of despair and fury. And now comes this Mohun,
and she likes him, I know she likes him."
"Indeed, and on my soul, you are wrong, sir," Esmond cried.
"She takes letters from him," cries my lord--"look here, Harry,"
and he pulled out a paper with a brown stain of blood upon it. "It
fell from him that day he wasn't killed. One of the grooms picked
it up from the ground and gave it me. Here it is in their d--d
comedy jargon. 'Divine Gloriana--Why look so coldly on your slave
who adores you? Have you no compassion on the tortures you have
seen me suffering? Do you vouchsafe no reply to billets that are
written with the blood of my heart.' She had more letters from
"But she answered none," cries Esmond.
"That's not Mohun's fault," says my lord, "and I will be revenged
on him, as God's in heaven, I will."
"For a light word or two, will you risk your lady's honor and your
family's happiness, my lord?" Esmond interposed beseechingly.
"Psha--there shall be no question of my wife's honor," said my
lord; "we can quarrel on plenty of grounds beside. If I live, that
villain will be punished; if I fall, my family will be only the
better: there will only be a spendthrift the less to keep in the
world: and Frank has better teaching than his father. My mind is
made up, Harry Esmond, and whatever the event is, I am easy about
it. I leave my wife and you as guardians to the children."
Seeing that my lord was bent upon pursuing this quarrel, and that
no entreaties would draw him from it, Harry Esmond (then of a
hotter and more impetuous nature than now, when care, and
reflection, and gray hairs have calmed him) thought it was his duty
to stand by his kind, generous patron, and said, "My lord, if you
are determined upon war, you must not go into it alone. 'Tis the
duty of our house to stand by its chief; and I should neither
forgive myself nor you if you did not call me, or I should be
absent from you at a moment of danger."
"Why, Harry, my poor boy, you are bred for a parson," says my lord,
taking Esmond by the hand very kindly; "and it were a great pity
that you should meddle in the matter."
"Your lordship thought of being a churchman once," Harry answered,
"and your father's orders did not prevent him fighting at
Castlewood against the Roundheads. Your enemies are mine, sir; I
can use the foils, as you have seen, indifferently well, and don't
think I shall be afraid when the buttons are taken off 'em." And
then Harry explained, with some blushes and hesitation (for the
matter was delicate, and he feared lest, by having put himself
forward in the quarrel, he might have offended his patron), how he
had himself expostulated with the Lord Mohun, and proposed to
measure swords with him if need were, and he could not be got to
withdraw peaceably in this dispute. "And I should have beat him,
sir," says Harry, laughing. "He never could parry that botte I
brought from Cambridge. Let us have half an hour of it, and
rehearse--I can teach it your lordship: 'tis the most delicate
point in the world, and if you miss it, your adversary's sword is
"By George, Harry, you ought to be the head of the house," says my
lord, gloomily. "You had been a better Lord Castlewood than a lazy
sot like me," he added, drawing his hand across his eyes, and
surveying his kinsman with very kind and affectionate glances.
"Let us take our coats off and have half an hour's practice before
nightfall," says Harry, after thankfully grasping his patron's
"You are but a little bit of a lad," says my lord, good-humoredly;
"but, in faith, I believe you could do for that fellow. No, my
boy," he continued, "I'll have none of your feints and tricks of
stabbing: I can use my sword pretty well too, and will fight my own
quarrel my own way."
"But I shall be by to see fair play?" cries Harry.
"Yes, God bless you--you shall be by."
"When is it, sir?" says Harry, for he saw that the matter had been
arranged privately and beforehand by my lord.
"'Tis arranged thus: I sent off a courier to Jack Westbury to say
that I wanted him specially. He knows for what, and will be here
presently, and drink part of that bottle of sack. Then we shall go
to the theatre in Duke Street, where we shall meet Mohun; and then
we shall all go sup at the 'Rose' or the 'Greyhound.' Then we
shall call for cards, and there will be probably a difference over
the cards--and then, God help us!--either a wicked villain and
traitor shall go out of the world, or a poor worthless devil, that
doesn't care to remain in it. I am better away, Hal--my wife will
be all the happier when I am gone," says my lord, with a groan,
that tore the heart of Harry Esmond, so that he fairly broke into a
sob over his patron's kind hand.
"The business was talked over with Mohun before he left home--
Castlewood I mean"--my lord went on. "I took the letter in to him,
which I had read, and I charged him with his villainy, and he could
make no denial of it, only he said that my wife was innocent."
"And so she is; before heaven, my lord, she is!" cries Harry.
"No doubt, no doubt. They always are," says my lord. "No doubt,
when she heard he was killed, she fainted from accident."
"But, my lord, MY name is Harry," cried out Esmond, burning red.
"You told my lady, 'Harry was killed!'"
"Damnation! shall I fight you too?" shouts my lord in a fury." Are
you, you little serpent, warmed by my fire, going to sting--YOU?--
No, my boy, you're an honest boy; you are a good boy." (And here
he broke from rage into tears even more cruel to see.) "You are an
honest boy, and I love you; and, by heavens, I am so wretched that
I don't care what sword it is that ends me. Stop, here's Jack
Westbury. Well, Jack! Welcome, old boy! This is my kinsman,
"Who brought your bowls for you at Castlewood, sir?" says Harry,
bowing; and the three gentlemen sat down and drank of that bottle
of sack which was prepared for them.
"Harry is number three," says my lord. "You needn't be afraid of
him, Jack." And the Colonel gave a look, as much as to say,
"Indeed, he don't look as if I need." And then my lord explained
what he had only told by hints before. When he quarrelled with
Lord Mohun he was indebted to his lordship in a sum of sixteen
hundred pounds, for which Lord Mohun said he proposed to wait until
my Lord Viscount should pay him. My lord had raised the sixteen
hundred pounds and sent them to Lord Mohun that morning, and before
quitting home had put his affairs into order, and was now quite
ready to abide the issue of the quarrel.
When we had drunk a couple of bottles of sack, a coach was called,
and the three gentlemen went to the Duke's Playhouse, as agreed.
The play was one of Mr. Wycherley's--"Love in a Wood."
Harry Esmond has thought of that play ever since with a kind of
terror, and of Mrs. Bracegirdle, the actress who performed the
girl's part in the comedy. She was disguised as a page, and came
and stood before the gentlemen as they sat on the stage, and looked
over her shoulder with a pair of arch black eyes, and laughed at my
lord, and asked what ailed the gentleman from the country, and had
he had bad news from Bullock fair?
Between the acts of the play the gentlemen crossed over and
conversed freely. There were two of Lord Mohun's party, Captain
Macartney, in a military habit, and a gentleman in a suit of blue
velvet and silver in a fair periwig, with a rich fall of point of
Venice lace--my Lord the Earl of Warwick and Holland. My lord had
a paper of oranges, which he ate and offered to the actresses,
joking with them. And Mrs. Bracegirdle, when my Lord Mohun said
something rude, turned on him, and asked him what he did there, and
whether he and his friends had come to stab anybody else, as they
did poor Will Mountford? My lord's dark face grew darker at this
taunt, and wore a mischievous, fatal look. They that saw it
remembered it, and said so afterward.
When the play was ended the two parties joined company; and my Lord
Castlewood then proposed that they should go to a tavern and sup.
Lockit's, the "Greyhound," in Charing Cross, was the house
selected. All six marched together that way; the three lords going
a-head, Lord Mohun's captain, and Colonel Westbury, and Harry
Esmond, walking behind them. As they walked, Westbury told Harry
Esmond about his old friend Dick the Scholar, who had got
promotion, and was Cornet of the Guards, and had wrote a book
called the "Christian Hero," and had all the Guards to laugh at him
for his pains, for the Christian Hero was breaking the commandments
constantly, Westbury said, and had fought one or two duels already.
And, in a lower tone, Westbury besought young Mr. Esmond to take no
part in the quarrel. "There was no need for more seconds than
one," said the Colonel, "and the Captain or Lord Warwick might
easily withdraw." But Harry said no; he was bent on going through
with the business. Indeed, he had a plan in his head, which, he
thought, might prevent my Lord Viscount from engaging.
They went in at the bar of the tavern, and desired a private room
and wine and cards, and when the drawer had brought these, they
began to drink and call healths, and as long as the servants were
in the room appeared very friendly.
Harry Esmond's plan was no other than to engage in talk with Lord
Mohun, to insult him, and so get the first of the quarrel. So when
cards were proposed he offered to play. "Psha!" says my Lord Mohun
(whether wishing to save Harry, or not choosing, to try the botte
de Jesuite, it is not to be known)--"Young gentlemen from college
should not play these stakes. You are too young."
"Who dares say I am too young?" broke out Harry. "Is your lordship
"Afraid!" cries out Mohun.
But my good Lord Viscount saw the move--"I'll play you for ten
moidores, Mohun," says he. "You silly boy, we don't play for
groats here as you do at Cambridge." And Harry, who had no such
sum in his pocket (for his half-year's salary was always pretty
well spent before it was due), fell back with rage and vexation in
his heart that he had not money enough to stake.
"I'll stake the young gentleman a crown," says the Lord Mohun's
"I thought crowns were rather scarce with the gentlemen of the
army," says Harry.
"Do they birch at College?" says the Captain.
"They birch fools," says Harry, "and they cane bullies, and they
fling puppies into the water."
"Faith, then, there's some escapes drowning," says the Captain, who
was an Irishman; and all the gentlemen began to laugh, and made
poor Harry only more angry.
My Lord Mohun presently snuffed a candle. It was when the drawers
brought in fresh bottles and glasses and were in the room on which
my Lord Viscount said--"The Deuce take you, Mohun, how damned
awkward you are. Light the candle, you drawer."
"Damned awkward is a damned awkward expression, my lord," says the
other. "Town gentlemen don't use such words--or ask pardon if they
"I'm a country gentleman," says my Lord Viscount.
"I see it by your manner," says my Lord Mohun. "No man shall say
damned awkward to me."
"I fling the words in your face, my lord," says the other; "shall I
send the cards too?"
"Gentlemen, gentlemen! before the servants?" cry out Colonel
Westbury and my Lord Warwick in a breath. The drawers go out of
the room hastily. They tell the people below of the quarrel up
"Enough has been said," says Colonel Westbury. "Will your
lordships meet to-morrow morning?"
"Will my Lord Castlewood withdraw his words?" asks the Earl of
"My Lord Castlewood will be ---- first," says Colonel Westbury.
"Then we have nothing for it. Take notice, gentlemen, there have
been outrageous words--reparation asked and refused."
"And refused," says my Lord Castlewood, putting on his hat. "Where
shall the meeting be? and when?"
"Since my Lord refuses me satisfaction, which I deeply regret,
there is no time so good as now," says my Lord Mohun. "Let us have
chairs and go to Leicester Field."
"Are your lordship and I to have the honor of exchanging a pass or
two?" says Colonel Westbury, with a low bow to my Lord of Warwick
"It is an honor for me," says my lord, with a profound congee, "to
be matched with a gentleman who has been at Mons and Namur."
"Will your Reverence permit me to give you a lesson?" says the
"Nay, nay, gentlemen, two on a side are plenty," says Harry's
patron. "Spare the boy, Captain Macartney," and he shook Harry's
hand--for the last time, save one, in his life.
At the bar of the tavern all the gentlemen stopped, and my Lord
Viscount said, laughing, to the barwoman, that those cards set
people sadly a-quarrelling; but that the dispute was over now, and
the parties were all going away to my Lord Mohun's house, in Bow
Street, to drink a bottle more before going to bed.
A half-dozen of chairs were now called, and the six gentlemen
stepping into them, the word was privately given to the chairmen to
go to Leicester Field, where the gentlemen were set down opposite
the "Standard Tavern." It was midnight, and the town was abed by
this time, and only a few lights in the windows of the houses; but
the night was bright enough for the unhappy purpose which the
disputants came about; and so all six entered into that fatal
square, the chairmen standing without the railing and keeping the
gate, lest any persons should disturb the meeting.
All that happened there hath been matter of public notoriety, and
is recorded, for warning to lawless men, in the annals of our
country. After being engaged for not more than a couple of
minutes, as Harry Esmond thought (though being occupied at the time
with his own adversary's point, which was active, he may not have
taken a good note of time), a cry from the chairmen without, who
were smoking their pipes, and leaning over the railings of the
field as they watched the dim combat within, announced that some
catastrophe had happened, which caused Esmond to drop his sword and
look round, at which moment his enemy wounded him in the right
hand. But the young man did not heed this hurt much, and ran up to
the place where he saw his dear master was down.
My Lord Mohun was standing over him.
"Are you much hurt, Frank?" he asked in a hollow voice.
"I believe I am a dead man," my lord said from the ground.
"No, no, not so," says the other; "and I call God to witness, Frank
Esmond, that I would have asked your pardon, had you but given me a
chance. In--in the first cause of our falling out, I swear that no
one was to blame but me, and--and that my lady--"
"Hush!" says my poor Lord Viscount, lifting himself on his elbow
and speaking faintly. "'Twas a dispute about the cards--the cursed
cards. Harry my boy, are you wounded, too? God help thee! I
loved thee, Harry, and thou must watch over my little Frank--and--
and carry this little heart to my wife."
And here my dear lord felt in his breast for a locket he wore
there, and, in the act, fell back fainting.
We were all at this terrified, thinking him dead; but Esmond and
Colonel Westbury bade the chairmen come into the field; and so my
lord was carried to one Mr. Aimes, a surgeon, in Long Acre, who
kept a bath, and there the house was wakened up, and the victim of
this quarrel carried in.
My Lord Viscount was put to bed, and his wound looked to by the
surgeon, who seemed both kind and skilful. When he had looked to
my lord, he bandaged up Harry Esmond's hand (who, from loss of
blood, had fainted too, in the house, and may have been some time
unconscious); and when the young man came to himself, you may be
sure he eagerly asked what news there were of his dear patron; on
which the surgeon carried him to the room where the Lord Castlewood
lay; who had already sent for a priest; and desired earnestly, they
said, to speak with his kinsman. He was lying on a bed, very pale
and ghastly, with that fixed, fatal look in his eyes, which
betokens death; and faintly beckoning all the other persons away
from him with his hand, and crying out "Only Harry Esmond," the
hand fell powerless down on the coverlet, as Harry came forward,
and knelt down and kissed it.
"Thou art all but a priest, Harry," my Lord Viscount gasped out,
with a faint smile, and pressure of his cold hand. "Are they all
gone? Let me make thee a death-bed confession."
And with sacred Death waiting, as it were, at the bed-foot, as an
awful witness of his words, the poor dying soul gasped out his last
wishes in respect of his family;--his humble profession of
contrition for his faults;--and his charity towards the world he
was leaving. Some things he said concerned Harry Esmond as much as
they astonished him. And my Lord Viscount, sinking visibly, was in
the midst of these strange confessions, when the ecclesiastic for
whom my lord had sent, Mr. Atterbury, arrived.
This gentleman had reached to no great church dignity as yet, but
was only preacher at St. Bride's, drawing all the town thither by
his eloquent sermons. He was godson to my lord, who had been pupil
to his father; had paid a visit to Castlewood from Oxford more than
once; and it was by his advice, I think, that Harry Esmond was sent
to Cambridge, rather than to Oxford, of which place Mr. Atterbury,
though a distinguished member, spoke but ill.
Our messenger found the good priest already at his books at five
o'clock in the morning, and he followed the man eagerly to the
house where my poor Lord Viscount lay--Esmond watching him, and
taking his dying words from his mouth.
My lord, hearing of Mr. Atterbury's arrival, and squeezing Esmond's
hand, asked to be alone with the priest; and Esmond left them there
for this solemn interview. You may be sure that his own prayers
and grief accompanied that dying benefactor. My lord had said to
him that which confounded the young man--informed him of a secret
which greatly concerned him. Indeed, after hearing it, he had had
good cause for doubt and dismay; for mental anguish as well as
resolution. While the colloquy between Mr. Atterbury and his dying
penitent took place within, an immense contest of perplexity was
agitating Lord Castlewood's young companion.
At the end of an hour--it may be more--Mr. Atterbury came out of
the room, looking very hard at Esmond, and holding a paper.
"He is on the brink of God's awful judgment," the priest whispered.
"He has made his breast clean to me. He forgives and believes, and
makes restitution. Shall it be in public? Shall we call a witness
to sign it?"
"God knows," sobbed out the young man, "my dearest lord has only
done me kindness all his life."
The priest put the paper into Esmond's hand. He looked at it. It
swam before his eyes.
"'Tis a confession," he said.
"'Tis as you please," said Mr. Atterbury.
There was a fire in the room where the cloths were drying for the
baths, and there lay a heap in a corner saturated with the blood of
my dear lord's body. Esmond went to the fire, and threw the paper
into it. 'Twas a great chimney with glazed Dutch tiles. How we
remember such trifles at such awful moments!--the scrap of the book
that we have read in a great grief--the taste of that last dish
that we have eaten before a duel, or some such supreme meeting or
parting. On the Dutch tiles at the Bagnio was a rude picture
representing Jacob in hairy gloves, cheating Isaac of Esau's
birthright. The burning paper lighted it up.
"'Tis only a confession, Mr. Atterbury," said the young man. He
leaned his head against the mantel-piece: a burst of tears came to
his eyes. They were the first he had shed as he sat by his lord,
scared by this calamity, and more yet by what the poor dying
gentleman had told him, and shocked to think that he should be the
agent of bringing this double misfortune on those he loved best.
"Let us go to him," said Mr. Esmond. And accordingly they went
into the next chamber, where by this time, the dawn had broke,
which showed my lord's poor pale face and wild appealing eyes, that
wore that awful fatal look of coming dissolution. The surgeon was
with him. He went into the chamber as Atterbury came out thence.
My Lord Viscount turned round his sick eyes towards Esmond. It
choked the other to hear that rattle in his throat.
"My Lord Viscount," says Mr. Atterbury, "Mr. Esmond wants no
witnesses, and hath burned the paper."
"My dearest master!" Esmond said, kneeling down, and taking his
hand and kissing it.
My Lord Viscount sprang up in his bed, and flung his arms round
Esmond. "God bl--bless--" was all he said. The blood rushed from
his mouth, deluging the young man. My dearest lord was no more.
He was gone with a blessing on his lips, and love and repentance
and kindness in his manly heart.
"Benedicti benedicentes," says Mr. Atterbury, and the young man,
kneeling at the bedside, groaned out an "Amen."
"Who shall take the news to her?" was Mr. Esmond's next thought.
And on this he besought Mr. Atterbury to bear the tidings to
Castlewood. He could not face his mistress himself with those
dreadful news. Mr. Atterbury complying kindly, Esmond writ a hasty
note on his table-book to my lord's man, bidding him get the horses
for Mr. Atterbury, and ride with him, and send Esmond's own valise
to the Gatehouse prison, whither he resolved to go and give himself
CONTAINS MR. ESMOND'S MILITARY LIFE, AND OTHER MATTERS APPERTAINING
TO THE ESMOND FAMILY.
I AM IN PRISON, AND VISITED, BUT NOT CONSOLED THERE.
Those may imagine, who have seen death untimely strike down persons
revered and beloved, and know how unavailing consolation is, what
was Harry Esmond's anguish after being an actor in that ghastly
midnight scene of blood and homicide. He could not, he felt, have
faced his dear mistress, and told her that story. He was thankful
that kind Atterbury consented to break the sad news to her; but,
besides his grief, which he took into prison with him, he had that
in his heart which secretly cheered and consoled him.
A great secret had been told to Esmond by his unhappy stricken
kinsman, lying on his death-bed. Were he to disclose it, as in
equity and honor he might do, the discovery would but bring greater
grief upon those whom he loved best in the world, and who were sad
enough already. Should he bring down shame and perplexity upon all
those beings to whom he was attached by so many tender ties of
affection and gratitude? degrade his father's widow? impeach and
sully his father's and kinsman's honor? and for what? for a barren
title, to be worn at the expense of an innocent boy, the son of his
dearest benefactress. He had debated this matter in his
conscience, whilst his poor lord was making his dying confession.
On one side were ambition, temptation, justice even; but love,
gratitude, and fidelity, pleaded on the other. And when the
struggle was over in Harry's mind, a glow of righteous happiness
filled it; and it was with grateful tears in his eyes that he
returned thanks to God for that decision which he had been enabled
"When I was denied by my own blood," thought he, "these dearest
friends received and cherished me. When I was a nameless orphan
myself, and needed a protector, I found one in yonder kind soul,
who has gone to his account repenting of the innocent wrong he has
And with this consoling thought he went away to give himself up at
the prison, after kissing the cold lips of his benefactor.
It was on the third day after he had come to the Gatehouse prison,
(where he lay in no small pain from his wound, which inflamed and
ached severely,) and with those thoughts and resolutions that have
been just spoke of, to depress, and yet to console him, that H.
Esmond's keeper came and told him that a visitor was asking for
him, and though he could not see her face, which was enveloped in a
black hood, her whole figure, too, being veiled and covered with
the deepest mourning, Esmond knew at once that his visitor was his
He got up from his bed, where he was lying, being very weak; and
advancing towards her as the retiring keeper shut the door upon him
and his guest in that sad place, he put forward his left hand (for
the right was wounded and bandaged), and he would have taken that
kind one of his mistress, which had done so many offices of
friendship for him for so many years.
But the Lady Castlewood went back from him, putting back her hood,
and leaning against the great stanchioned door which the gaoler had
just closed upon them. Her face was ghastly white, as Esmond saw
it, looking from the hood; and her eyes, ordinarily so sweet and
tender, were fixed on him with such a tragic glance of woe and
anger, as caused the young man, unaccustomed to unkindness from
that person, to avert his own glances from her face.
"And this, Mr. Esmond," she said, "is where I see you; and 'tis to
this you have brought me!"
"You have come to console me in my calamity, madam," said he
(though, in truth, he scarce knew how to address her, his emotions
at beholding her so overpowered him).
She advanced a little, but stood silent and trembling, looking out
at him from her black draperies, with her small white hands clasped
together, and quivering lips and hollow eyes.
"Not to reproach me," he continued after a pause. "My grief is
sufficient as it is."
"Take back your hand--do not touch me with it!" she cried. "Look!
there's blood on it!"
"I wish they had taken it all," said Esmond; "if you are unkind to
"Where is my husband?" she broke out. "Give me back my husband,
Henry. Why did you stand by at midnight and see him murdered? Why
did the traitor escape who did it? You, the champion of your
house, who offered to die for us! You that he loved and trusted,
and to whom I confided him--you that vowed devotion and gratitude,
and I believed you--yes, I believed you--why are you here, and my
noble Francis gone? Why did you come among us? You have only
brought us grief and sorrow; and repentance, bitter, bitter
repentance, as a return for our love and kindness. Did I ever do
you a wrong, Henry? You were but an orphan child when I first saw
you--when HE first saw you, who was so good, and noble, and
trusting. He would have had you sent away, but, like a foolish
woman, I besought him to let you stay. And you pretended to love
us, and we believed you--and you made our house wretched, and my
husband's heart went from me: and I lost him through you--I lost
him--the husband of my youth, I say. I worshipped him: you know I
worshipped him--and he was changed to me. He was no more my
Francis of old--my dear, dear soldier. He loved me before he saw
you; and I loved him. Oh, God is my witness how I loved him! Why
did he not send you from among us? 'Twas only his kindness, that
could refuse me nothing then. And, young as you were--yes, and
weak and alone--there was evil, I knew there was evil in keeping
you. I read it in your face and eyes. I saw that they boded harm
to us--and it came, I knew it would. Why did you not die when you
had the small-pox--and I came myself and watched you, and you
didn't know me in your delirium--and you called out for me, though
I was there at your side? All that has happened since, was a just
judgment on my wicked heart--my wicked jealous heart. Oh, I am
punished--awfully punished! My husband lies in his blood--murdered
for defending me, my kind, kind, generous lord--and you were by,
and you let him die, Henry!"
These words, uttered in the wildness of her grief, by one who was
ordinarily quiet, and spoke seldom except with a gentle smile and a
soothing tone, rung in Esmond's ear; and 'tis said that he repeated
many of them in the fever into which he now fell from his wound,
and perhaps from the emotion which such passionate, undeserved
upbraidings caused him. It seemed as if his very sacrifices and
love for this lady and her family were to turn to evil and
reproach: as if his presence amongst them was indeed a cause of
grief, and the continuance of his life but woe and bitterness to
theirs. As the Lady Castlewood spoke bitterly, rapidly, without a
tear, he never offered a word of appeal or remonstrance: but sat at
the foot of his prison-bed, stricken only with the more pain at
thinking it was that soft and beloved hand which should stab him so
cruelly, and powerless against her fatal sorrow. Her words as she
spoke struck the chords of all his memory, and the whole of his
boyhood and youth passed within him; whilst this lady, so fond and
gentle but yesterday--this good angel whom he had loved and
worshipped--stood before him, pursuing him with keen words and
"I wish I were in my lord's place," he groaned out. "It was not my
fault that I was not there, madam. But Fate is stronger than all
of us, and willed what has come to pass. It had been better for me
to have died when I had the illness."
"Yes, Henry," said she--and as she spoke she looked at him with a
glance that was at once so fond and so sad, that the young man,
tossing up his arms, wildly fell back, hiding his head in the
coverlet of the bed. As he turned he struck against the wall with
his wounded hand, displacing the ligature; and he felt the blood
rushing again from the wound. He remembered feeling a secret
pleasure at the accident--and thinking, "Suppose I were to end now,
who would grieve for me?"
This hemorrhage, or the grief and despair in which the luckless
young man was at the time of the accident, must have brought on a
deliquium presently; for he had scarce any recollection afterwards,
save of some one, his mistress probably, seizing his hand--and then
of the buzzing noise in his ears as he awoke, with two or three
persons of the prison around his bed, whereon he lay in a pool of
blood from his arm.
It was now bandaged up again by the prison surgeon, who happened to
be in the place; and the governor's wife and servant, kind people
both, were with the patient. Esmond saw his mistress still in the
room when he awoke from his trance; but she went away without a
word; though the governor's wife told him that she sat in her room
for some time afterward, and did not leave the prison until she
heard that Esmond was likely to do well.
Days afterwards, when Esmond was brought out of a fever which he
had, and which attacked him that night pretty sharply, the honest
keeper's wife brought her patient a handkerchief fresh washed and
ironed, and at the corner of which he recognized his mistress's
well-known cipher and viscountess's crown. "The lady had bound it
round his arm when he fainted, and before she called for help," the
keeper's wife said. "Poor lady! she took on sadly about her
husband. He has been buried to-day, and a many of the coaches of
the nobility went with him--my Lord Marlborough's and my Lord
Sunderland's, and many of the officers of the Guards, in which he
served in the old King's time; and my lady has been with her two
children to the King at Kensington, and asked for justice against
my Lord Mohun, who is in hiding, and my Lord the Earl of Warwick
and Holland, who is ready to give himself up and take his trial."
Such were the news, coupled with assertions about her own honesty
and that of Molly her maid, who would never have stolen a certain
trumpery gold sleeve-button of Mr. Esmond's that was missing after
his fainting fit, that the keeper's wife brought to her lodger.
His thoughts followed to that untimely grave, the brave heart, the
kind friend, the gallant gentleman, honest of word and generous of
thought, (if feeble of purpose, but are his betters much stronger
than he?) who had given him bread and shelter when he had none;
home and love when he needed them; and who, if he had kept one
vital secret from him, had done that of which he repented ere
dying--a wrong indeed, but one followed by remorse, and occasioned
by almost irresistible temptation.
Esmond took his handkerchief when his nurse left him, and very
likely kissed it, and looked at the bauble embroidered in the
corner. "It has cost thee grief enough," he thought, "dear lady,
so loving and so tender. Shall I take it from thee and thy
children? No, never! Keep it, and wear it, my little Frank, my
pretty boy. If I cannot make a name for myself, I can die without
one. Some day, when my dear mistress sees my heart, I shall be
righted; or if not here or now, why, elsewhere; where Honor doth
not follow us, but where Love reigns perpetual."
'Tis needless to relate here, as the reports of the lawyers already
have chronicled them, the particulars or issue of that trial which
ensued upon my Lord Castlewood's melancholy homicide. Of the two
lords engaged in that sad matter, the second, my Lord the Earl of
Warwick and Holland, who had been engaged with Colonel Westbury,
and wounded by him, was found not guilty by his peers, before whom
he was tried (under the presidence of the Lord Steward, Lord
Somers); and the principal, the Lord Mohun, being found guilty of
the manslaughter, (which, indeed, was forced upon him, and of which
he repented most sincerely,) pleaded his clergy, and so was
discharged without any penalty. The widow of the slain nobleman,
as it was told us in prison, showed an extraordinary spirit; and,
though she had to wait for ten years before her son was old enough
to compass it, declared she would have revenge of her husband's
murderer. So much and suddenly had grief, anger, and misfortune
appeared to change her. But fortune, good or ill, as I take it,
does not change men and women. It but develops their characters.
As there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does
not know till he takes up the pen to write, so the heart is a
secret even to him (or her) who has it in his own breast. Who hath
not found himself surprised into revenge, or action, or passion,
for good or evil, whereof the seeds lay within him, latent and
unsuspected, until the occasion called them forth? With the death
of her lord, a change seemed to come over the whole conduct and
mind of Lady Castlewood; but of this we shall speak in the right
season and anon.
The lords being tried then before their peers at Westminster,
according to their privilege, being brought from the Tower with
state processions and barges, and accompanied by lieutenants and
axe-men, the commoners engaged in that melancholy fray took their
trial at Newgate, as became them; and, being all found guilty,
pleaded likewise their benefit of clergy. The sentence, as we all
know in these cases, is, that the culprit lies a year in prison, or
during the King's pleasure, and is burned in the hand, or only
stamped with a cold iron; or this part of the punishment is
altogether remitted at the grace of the Sovereign. So Harry Esmond
found himself a criminal and a prisoner at two-and-twenty years
old; as for the two colonels, his comrades, they took the matter
very lightly. Duelling was a part of their business; and they
could not in honor refuse any invitations of that sort.
But the case was different with Mr. Esmond. His life was changed
by that stroke of the sword which destroyed his kind patron's. As
he lay in prison, old Dr. Tusher fell ill and died; and Lady
Castlewood appointed Thomas Tusher to the vacant living; about the
filling of which she had a thousand times fondly talked to Harry
Esmond: how they never should part; how he should educate her boy;
how to be a country clergyman, like saintly George Herbert or pious
Dr. Ken, was the happiest and greatest lot in life; how (if he were
obstinately bent on it, though, for her part, she owned rather to
holding Queen Bess's opinion, that a bishop should have no wife,
and if not a bishop why a clergyman?) she would find a good wife
for Harry Esmond: and so on, with a hundred pretty prospects told
by fireside evenings, in fond prattle, as the children played about
the hall. All these plans were overthrown now. Thomas Tusher
wrote to Esmond, as he lay in prison, announcing that his patroness
had conferred upon him the living his reverend father had held for
many years; that she never, after the tragical events which had
occurred (whereof Tom spoke with a very edifying horror), could see
in the revered Tusher's pulpit, or at her son's table, the man who
was answerable for the father's life; that her ladyship bade him to
say that she prayed for her kinsman's repentance and his worldly
happiness; that he was free to command her aid for any scheme of
life which he might propose to himself; but that on this side of
the grave she would see him no more. And Tusher, for his own part,
added that Harry should have his prayers as a friend of his youth,
and commended him whilst he was in prison to read certain works of
theology, which his Reverence pronounced to be very wholesome for
sinners in his lamentable condition.
And this was the return for a life of devotion--this the end of
years of affectionate intercourse and passionate fidelity! Harry
would have died for his patron, and was held as little better than
his murderer: he had sacrificed, she did not know how much, for his
mistress, and she threw him aside; he had endowed her family with
all they had, and she talked about giving him alms as to a menial!
The grief for his patron's loss; the pains of his own present
position, and doubts as to the future: all these were forgotten
under the sense of the consummate outrage which he had to endure,
and overpowered by the superior pang of that torture.
He writ back a letter to Mr. Tusher from his prison, congratulating
his Reverence upon his appointment to the living of Castlewood:
sarcastically bidding him to follow in the footsteps of his
admirable father, whose gown had descended upon him; thanking her
ladyship for her offer of alms, which he said he should trust not
to need; and beseeching her to remember that, if ever her
determination should change towards him, he would be ready to give
her proofs of a fidelity which had never wavered, and which ought
never to have been questioned by that house. "And if we meet no
more, or only as strangers in this world," Mr. Esmond concluded, "a
sentence against the cruelty and injustice of which I disdain to
appeal; hereafter she will know who was faithful to her, and
whether she had any cause to suspect the love and devotion of her
kinsman and servant."
After the sending of this letter, the poor young fellow's mind was
more at ease than it had been previously. The blow had been
struck, and he had borne it. His cruel goddess had shaken her
wings and fled: and left him alone and friendless, but virtute sua.
And he had to bear him up, at once the sense of his right and the
feeling of his wrongs, his honor and his misfortune. As I have
seen men waking and running to arms at a sudden trumpet, before
emergency a manly heart leaps up resolute; meets the threatening
danger with undaunted countenance; and, whether conquered or
conquering, faces it always. Ah! no man knows his strength or his
weakness, till occasion proves them. If there be some thoughts and
actions of his life from the memory of which a man shrinks with
shame, sure there are some which he may be proud to own and
remember; forgiven injuries, conquered temptations (now and then)
and difficulties vanquished by endurance.
It was these thoughts regarding the living, far more than any great
poignancy of grief respecting the dead, which affected Harry Esmond
whilst in prison after his trial: but it may be imagined that he
could take no comrade of misfortune into the confidence of his
feelings, and they thought it was remorse and sorrow for his
patron's loss which affected the young man, in error of which
opinion he chose to leave them. As a companion he was so moody and
silent that the two officers, his fellow-sufferers, left him to
himself mostly, liked little very likely what they knew of him,
consoled themselves with dice, cards, and the bottle, and whiled
away their own captivity in their own way. It seemed to Esmond as
if he lived years in that prison: and was changed and aged when he
came out of it. At certain periods of life we live years of
emotion in a few weeks--and look back on those times, as on great
gaps between the old life and the new. You do not know how much
you suffer in those critical maladies of the heart, until the
disease is over and you look back on it afterwards. During the
time, the suffering is at least sufferable. The day passes in more
or less of pain, and the night wears away somehow. 'Tis only in
after days that we see what the danger has been--as a man out a-
hunting or riding for his life looks at a leap, and wonders how he
should have survived the taking of it. O dark months of grief and
rage! of wrong and cruel endurance! He is old now who recalls you.
Long ago he has forgiven and blest the soft hand that wounded him:
but the mark is there, and the wound is cicatrized only--no time,
tears, caresses, or repentance, can obliterate the scar. We are
indocile to put up with grief, however. Reficimus rates quassas:
we tempt the ocean again and again, and try upon new ventures.
Esmond thought of his early time as a novitiate, and of this past
trial as an initiation before entering into life--as our young
Indians undergo tortures silently before they pass to the rank of
warriors in the tribe.
The officers, meanwhile, who were not let into the secret of the
grief which was gnawing at the side of their silent young friend,
and being accustomed to such transactions, in which one comrade or
another was daily paying the forfeit of the sword, did not, of
course, bemoan themselves very inconsolably about the fate of their
late companion in arms. This one told stories of former adventures
of love, or war, or pleasure, in which poor Frank Esmond had been
engaged; t'other recollected how a constable had been bilked, or a
tavern-bully beaten: whilst my lord's poor widow was sitting at his
tomb worshipping him as an actual saint and spotless hero--so the
visitors said who had news of Lady Castlewood; and Westbury and
Macartney had pretty nearly had all the town to come and see them.
The duel, its fatal termination, the trial of the two peers and the
three commoners concerned, had caused the greatest excitement in
the town. The prints and News Letters were full of them. The
three gentlemen in Newgate were almost as much crowded as the
bishops in the Tower, or a highwayman before execution. We were
allowed to live in the Governor's house, as hath been said, both
before trial and after condemnation, waiting the King's pleasure;
nor was the real cause of the fatal quarrel known, so closely had
my lord and the two other persons who knew it kept the secret, but
every one imagined that the origin of the meeting was a gambling
dispute. Except fresh air, the prisoners had, upon payment, most
things they could desire. Interest was made that they should not
mix with the vulgar convicts, whose ribald choruses and loud
laughter and curses could be heard from their own part of the
prison, where they and the miserable debtors were confined pell-
I COME TO THE END OF MY CAPTIVITY, BUT NOT OF MY TROUBLE.
Among the company which came to visit the two officers was an old
acquaintance of Harry Esmond; that gentleman of the Guards, namely,
who had been so kind to Harry when Captain Westbury's troop had
been quartered at Castlewood more than seven years before. Dick
the Scholar was no longer Dick the Trooper now, but Captain Steele
of Lucas's Fusiliers, and secretary to my Lord Cutts, that famous
officer of King William's, the bravest and most beloved man of the
English army. The two jolly prisoners had been drinking with a
party of friends (for our cellar and that of the keepers of
Newgate, too, were supplied with endless hampers of Burgundy and
Champagne that the friends of the Colonels sent in); and Harry,
having no wish for their drink or their conversation, being too
feeble in health for the one and too sad in spirits for the other,
was sitting apart in his little room, reading such books as he had,
one evening, when honest Colonel Westbury, flushed with liquor, and
always good-humored in and out of his cups, came laughing into
Harry's closet and said, "Ho, young Killjoy! here's a friend come
to see thee; he'll pray with thee, or he'll drink with thee; or
he'll drink and pray turn about. Dick, my Christian hero, here's
the little scholar of Castlewood."
Dick came up and kissed Esmond on both cheeks, imparting a strong
perfume of burnt sack along with his caress to the young man.
"What! is this the little man that used to talk Latin and fetch our
bowls? How tall thou art grown! I protest I should have known
thee anywhere. And so you have turned ruffian and fighter; and
wanted to measure swords with Mohun, did you? I protest that Mohun
said at the Guard dinner yesterday, where there was a pretty
company of us, that the young fellow wanted to fight him, and was
the better man of the two."
"I wish we could have tried and proved it, Mr. Steele," says
Esmond, thinking of his dead benefactor, and his eyes filling with
With the exception of that one cruel letter which he had from his
mistress, Mr. Esmond heard nothing from her, and she seemed
determined to execute her resolve of parting from him and disowning
him. But he had news of her, such as it was, which Mr. Steele
assiduously brought him from the Prince's and Princess's Court,
where our honest Captain had been advanced to the post of gentleman
waiter. When off duty there, Captain Dick often came to console
his friends in captivity; a good nature and a friendly disposition
towards all who were in ill-fortune no doubt prompting him to make
his visits, and good-fellowship and good wine to prolong them.
"Faith," says Westbury, "the little scholar was the first to begin
the quarrel--I mind me of it now--at Lockit's. I always hated that
fellow Mohun. What was the real cause, of the quarrel betwixt him
and poor Frank? I would wager 'twas a woman."
"'Twas a quarrel about play--on my word, about play," Harry said.
"My poor lord lost great sums to his guest at Castlewood. Angry
words passed between them; and, though Lord Castlewood was the
kindest and most pliable soul alive, his spirit was very high; and
hence that meeting which has brought us all here," says Mr. Esmond,
resolved never to acknowledge that there had ever been any other
cause but cards for the duel.
"I do not like to use bad words of a nobleman," says Westbury; "but
if my Lord Mohun were a commoner, I would say, 'twas a pity he was
not hanged. He was familiar with dice and women at a time other
boys are at school being birched; he was as wicked as the oldest
rake, years ere he had done growing; and handled a sword and a
foil, and a bloody one, too, before he ever used a razor. He held
poor Will Mountford in talk that night, when bloody Dick Hill ran
him through. He will come to a bad end, will that young lord; and
no end is bad enough for him," says honest Mr. Westbury: whose
prophecy was fulfilled twelve years after, upon that fatal day when
Mohun fell, dragging down one of the bravest and greatest gentlemen
in England in his fall.
From Mr. Steele, then, who brought the public rumor, as well as his
own private intelligence, Esmond learned the movements of his
unfortunate mistress. Steele's heart was of very inflammable
composition; and the gentleman usher spoke in terms of boundless
admiration both of the widow (that most beautiful woman, as he
said) and of her daughter, who, in the Captain's eyes, was a still
greater paragon. If the pale widow, whom Captain Richard, in his
poetic rapture compared to a Niobe in tears--to a Sigismunda--to a
weeping Belvidera, was an object the most lovely and pathetic which
his eyes had ever beheld, or for which his heart had melted, even
her ripened perfections and beauty were as nothing compared to the
promise of that extreme loveliness which the good Captain saw in
her daughter. It was matre pulcra filia pulcrior. Steele composed
sonnets whilst he was on duty in his Prince's ante-chamber, to the
maternal and filial charms. He would speak for hours about them to
Harry Esmond; and, indeed, he could have chosen few subjects more
likely to interest the unhappy young man, whose heart was now as
always devoted to these ladies; and who was thankful to all who
loved them, or praised them, or wished them well.
Not that his fidelity was recompensed by any answering kindness, or
show of relenting even, on the part of a mistress obdurate now
after ten years of love and benefactions. The poor young man
getting no answer, save Tusher's, to that letter which he had
written, and being too proud to write more, opened a part of his
heart to Steele, than whom no man, when unhappy, could find a
kinder hearer, or more friendly emissary; described (in words which
were no doubt pathetic, for they came imo pectore, and caused
honest Dick to weep plentifully) his youth, his constancy, his fond
devotion to that household which had reared him; his affection, how
earned, and how tenderly requited until but yesterday, and (as far
as he might) the circumstances and causes for which that sad
quarrel had made of Esmond a prisoner under sentence, a widow and
orphans of those whom in life he held dearest. In terms that might
well move a harder-hearted man than young Esmond's confidant--for,
indeed, the speaker's own heart was half broke as he uttered them--
he described a part of what had taken place in that only sad
interview which his mistress had granted him; how she had left him
with anger and almost imprecation, whose words and thoughts until
then had been only blessing and kindness; how she had accused him
of the guilt of that blood, in exchange for which he would
cheerfully have sacrificed his own (indeed, in this the Lord Mohun,
the Lord Warwick, and all the gentlemen engaged, as well as the
common rumor out of doors--Steele told him--bore out the luckless
young man); and with all his heart, and tears, he besought Mr.
Steele to inform his mistress of her kinsman's unhappiness, and to
deprecate that cruel anger she showed him. Half frantic with grief
at the injustice done him, and contrasting it with a thousand soft
recollections of love and confidence gone by, that made his present
misery inexpressibly more bitter, the poor wretch passed many a
lonely day and wakeful night in a kind of powerless despair and
rage against his iniquitous fortune. It was the softest hand that
struck him, the gentlest and most compassionate nature that
persecuted him. "I would as lief," he said, "have pleaded guilty
to the murder, and have suffered for it like any other felon, as
have to endure the torture to which my mistress subjects me."
Although the recital of Esmond's story, and his passionate appeals
and remonstrances, drew so many tears from Dick who heard them,
they had no effect upon the person whom they were designed to move.
Esmond's ambassador came back from the mission with which the poor
young gentleman had charged him, with a sad blank face and a shake
of the head, which told that there was no hope for the prisoner;
and scarce a wretched culprit in that prison of Newgate ordered for
execution, and trembling for a reprieve, felt more cast down than
Mr. Esmond, innocent and condemned.
As had been arranged between the prisoner and his counsel in their
consultations, Mr. Steele had gone to the dowager's house in
Chelsey, where it has been said the widow and her orphans were, had
seen my Lady Viscountess, and pleaded the cause of her unfortunate
kinsman. "And I think I spoke well, my poor boy," says Mr. Steele;
"for who would not speak well in such a cause, and before so
beautiful a judge? I did not see the lovely Beatrix (sure her
famous namesake of Florence was never half so beautiful), only the
young Viscount was in the room with the Lord Churchill, my Lord of
Marlborough's eldest son. But these young gentlemen went off to
the garden; I could see them from the window tilting at each other
with poles in a mimic tournament (grief touches the young but
lightly, and I remember that I beat a drum at the coffin of my own
father). My Lady Viscountess looked out at the two boys at their
game and said--'You see, sir, children are taught to use weapons of
death as toys, and to make a sport of murder;' and as she spoke she
looked so lovely, and stood there in herself so sad and beautiful,
an instance of that doctrine whereof I am a humble preacher, that
had I not dedicated my little volume of the 'Christian Hero'--(I
perceive, Harry, thou hast not cut the leaves of it. The sermon is
good, believe me, though the preacher's life may not answer it)--I
say, hadn't I dedicated the volume to Lord Cutts, I would have
asked permission to place her ladyship's name on the first page. I
think I never saw such a beautiful violet as that of her eyes,
Harry. Her complexion is of the pink of the blush-rose, she hath
an exquisite turned wrist and dimpled hand, and I make no doubt--"
"Did you come to tell me about the dimples on my lady's hand?"
broke out Mr. Esmond, sadly.
"A lovely creature in affliction seems always doubly beautiful to
me," says the poor Captain, who indeed was but too often in a state
to see double, and so checked he resumed the interrupted thread of
his story. "As I spoke my business," Mr. Steele said, "and
narrated to your mistress what all the world knows, and the other
side hath been eager to acknowledge--that you had tried to put
yourself between the two lords, and to take your patron's quarrel
on your own point; I recounted the general praises of your
gallantry, besides my Lord Mohun's particular testimony to it; I
thought the widow listened with some interest, and her eyes--I have
never seen such a violet, Harry--looked up at mine once or twice.
But after I had spoken on this theme for a while she suddenly broke
away with a cry of grief. 'I would to God, sir,' she said, 'I had
never heard that word gallantry which you use, or known the meaning
of it. My lord might have been here but for that; my home might be
happy; my poor boy have a father. It was what you gentlemen call
gallantry came into my home, and drove my husband on to the cruel
sword that killed him. You should not speak the word to a
Christian woman, sir, a poor widowed mother of orphans, whose home
was happy until the world came into it--the wicked godless world,
that takes the blood of the innocent, and lets the guilty go free.'
"As the afflicted lady spoke in this strain, sir," Mr. Steele
continued, "it seemed as if indignation moved her, even more than
grief. 'Compensation!' she went on passionately, her cheeks and
eyes kindling; 'what compensation does your world give the widow
for her husband, and the children for the murderer of their father?
The wretch who did the deed has not even a punishment. Conscience!
what conscience has he, who can enter the house of a friend,
whisper falsehood and insult to a woman that never harmed him, and
stab the kind heart that trusted him? My Lord--my Lord Wretch's,
my Lord Villain's, my Lord Murderer's peers meet to try him, and
they dismiss him with a word or two of reproof and send him into
the world again, to pursue women with lust and falsehood, and to
murder unsuspecting guests that harbor him. That day, my Lord--my
Lord Murderer--(I will never name him)--was let loose, a woman was
executed at Tyburn for stealing in a shop. But a man may rob
another of his life, or a lady of her honor, and shall pay no
penalty! I take my child, run to the throne, and on my knees ask
for justice, and the King refuses me. The King! he is no king of
mine--he never shall be. He, too, robbed the throne from the king
his father--the true king--and he has gone unpunished, as the great
"I then thought to speak for you," Mr. Steele continued, "and I
interposed by saying, 'There was one, madam, who, at least, would
have put his own breast between your husband's and my Lord Mohun's
sword. Your poor young kinsman, Harry Esmond, hath told me that he
tried to draw the quarrel on himself.'
"'Are you come from HIM?' asked the lady (so Mr. Steele went on)
rising up with a great severity and stateliness. 'I thought you
had come from the Princess. I saw Mr. Esmond in his prison, and
bade him farewell. He brought misery into my house. He never
should have entered it.'
"'Madam, madam, he is not to blame,' I interposed," continued Mr.
"'Do I blame him to you, sir?' asked the widow. 'If 'tis he who
sent you, say that I have taken counsel, where'--she spoke with a
very pallid cheek now, and a break in her voice--'where all who ask
may have it;--and that it bids me to part from him, and to see him
no more. We met in the prison for the last time--at least for
years to come. It may be, in years hence, when--when our knees and
our tears and our contrition have changed our sinful hearts, sir,
and wrought our pardon, we may meet again--but not now. After what
has passed, I could not bear to see him. I wish him well, sir; but
I wish him farewell, too; and if he has that--that regard towards
us which he speaks of, I beseech him to prove it by obeying me in
"'I shall break the young man's heart, madam, by this hard
sentence,'" Mr. Steele said.
"The lady shook her head," continued my kind scholar. "'The hearts
of young men, Mr. Steele, are not so made,' she said. 'Mr. Esmond
will find other--other friends. The mistress of this house has
relented very much towards the late lord's son,' she added, with a
blush, 'and has promised me, that is, has promised that she will
care for his fortune. Whilst I live in it, after the horrid horrid
deed which has passed, Castlewood must never be a home to him--
never. Nor would I have him write to me--except--no--I would have
him never write to me, nor see him more. Give him, if you will, my
parting--Hush! not a word of this before my daughter.'
"Here the fair Beatrix entered from the river, with her cheeks
flushing with health, and looking only the more lovely and fresh
for the mourning habiliments which she wore. And my Lady
"'Beatrix, this is Mr. Steele, gentleman-usher to the Prince's
Highness. When does your new comedy appear, Mr. Steele?' I hope
thou wilt be out of prison for the first night, Harry."
The sentimental Captain concluded his sad tale, saying, "Faith, the
beauty of Filia pulcrior drove pulcram matrem out of my head; and
yet as I came down the river, and thought about the pair, the
pallid dignity and exquisite grace of the matron had the uppermost,
and I thought her even more noble than the virgin!"
The party of prisoners lived very well in Newgate, and with
comforts very different to those which were awarded to the poor
wretches there (his insensibility to their misery, their gayety
still more frightful, their curses and blasphemy, hath struck with
a kind of shame since--as proving how selfish, during his
imprisonment, his own particular grief was, and how entirely the
thoughts of it absorbed him): if the three gentlemen lived well
under the care of the Warden of Newgate, it was because they paid
well: and indeed the cost at the dearest ordinary or the grandest
tavern in London could not have furnished a longer reckoning, than
our host of the "Handcuff Inn"--as Colonel Westbury called it. Our
rooms were the three in the gate over Newgate--on the second story
looking up Newgate Street towards Cheapside and Paul's Church. And
we had leave to walk on the roof, and could see thence Smithfield
and the Bluecoat Boys' School, Gardens, and the Chartreux, where,
as Harry Esmond remembered, Dick the Scholar, and his friend Tom
Tusher, had had their schooling.
Harry could never have paid his share of that prodigious heavy
reckoning which my landlord brought to his guests once a week: for
be had but three pieces in his pockets that fatal night before the
duel, when the gentlemen were at cards, and offered to play five.
But whilst he was yet ill at the Gatehouse, after Lady Castlewood
had visited him there, and before his trial, there came one in an
orange-tawny coat and blue lace, the livery which the Esmonds
always wore, and brought a sealed packet for Mr. Esmond, which
contained twenty guineas, and a note saying that a counsel had been
appointed for him, and that more money would be forthcoming
whenever he needed it.
'Twas a queer letter from the scholar as she was, or as she called
herself: the Dowager Viscountess Castlewood, written in the strange
barbarous French which she and many other fine ladies of that time--
witness her Grace of Portsmouth--employed. Indeed, spelling was
not an article of general commodity in the world then, and my Lord
Marlborough's letters can show that he, for one, had but a little
share of this part of grammar:--
"MONG COUSSIN," my Lady Viscountess Dowager wrote, "je scay que
vous vous etes bravement batew et grievement blessay--du coste de
feu M. le Vicomte. M. le Compte de Varique ne se playt qua parlay
de vous: M. de Moon aucy. Il di que vous avay voulew vous bastre
avecque luy--que vous estes plus fort que luy fur l'ayscrimme--
quil'y a surtout certaine Botte que vous scavay quil n'a jammay
sceu pariay: et que c'en eut ete fay de luy si vouseluy vous vous
fussiay battews ansamb. Aincy ce pauv Vicompte est mort. Mort et
pontayt--Mon coussin, mon coussin! jay dans la tayste que vous
n'estes quung pety Monst--angcy que les Esmonds ong tousjours este.
La veuve est chay moy. J'ay recuilly cet' pauve famme. Elle est
furieuse cont vous, allans tous les jours chercher ley Roy (d'icy)
demandant a gran cri revanche pour son Mary. Elle ne veux voyre ni
entende parlay de vous: pourtant elle ne fay qu'en parlay milfoy
par jour. Quand vous seray hor prison venay me voyre. J'auray
soing de vous. Si cette petite Prude veut se defaire de song pety
Monste (Helas je craing quil ne soy trotar!) je m'on chargeray.
J'ay encor quelqu interay et quelques escus de costay.
"La Veuve se raccommode avec Miladi Marlboro qui est tout puicante
avecque la Reine Anne. Cet dam senteraysent pour la petite prude;
qui pourctant a un fi du mesme asge que vous savay.
"En sortant de prisong venez icy. Je ne puy vous recevoir chaymoy
a cause des mechansetes du monde, may pre du moy vous aurez
"ISABELLE VICOMTESSE D'ESMOND"
Marchioness of Esmond this lady sometimes called herself, in virtue
of that patent which had been given by the late King James to Harry
Esmond's father; and in this state she had her train carried by a
knight's wife, a cup and cover of assay to drink from, and fringed
He who was of the same age as little Francis, whom we shall
henceforth call Viscount Castlewood here, was H. R. H. the Prince
of Wales, born in the same year and month with Frank, and just
proclaimed at Saint Germains, King of Great Britain, France, and
I TAKE THE QUEEN'S PAY IN QUIN'S REGIMENT.
The fellow in the orange-tawny livery with blue lace and facings
was in waiting when Esmond came out of prison, and, taking the
young gentleman's slender baggage, led the way out of that odious
Newgate, and by Fleet Conduit, down to the Thames, where a pair of
oars was called, and they went up the river to Chelsey. Esmond
thought the sun had never shone so bright; nor the air felt so
fresh and exhilarating. Temple Garden, as they rowed by, looked
like the garden of Eden to him, and the aspect of the quays,
wharves, and buildings by the river, Somerset House, and
Westminster (where the splendid new bridge was just beginning),
Lambeth tower and palace, and that busy shining scene of the Thames
swarming with boats and barges, filled his heart with pleasure and
cheerfulness--as well such a beautiful scene might to one who had
been a prisoner so long, and with so many dark thoughts deepening
the gloom of his captivity. They rowed up at length to the pretty
village of Chelsey, where the nobility have many handsome country-
houses; and so came to my Lady Viscountess's house, a cheerful new
house in the row facing the river, with a handsome garden behind
it, and a pleasant look-out both towards Surrey and Kensington,
where stands the noble ancient palace of the Lord Warwick, Harry's
Here in her ladyship's saloon, the young man saw again some of
those pictures which had been at Castlewood, and which she had
removed thence on the death of her lord, Harry's father.
Specially, and in the place of honor, was Sir Peter Lely's picture
of the honorable Mistress Isabella Esmond as Diana, in yellow
satin, with a bow in her hand and a crescent in her forehead; and
dogs frisking about her. 'Twas painted about the time when royal
Endymions were said to find favor with this virgin huntress; and,
as goddesses have youth perpetual, this one believed to the day of
her death that she never grew older: and always persisted in
supposing the picture was still like her.
After he had been shown to her room by the groom of the chamber,
who filled many offices besides in her ladyship's modest household,
and after a proper interval, his elderly goddess Diana vouchsafed
to appear to the young man. A blackamoor in a Turkish habit, with
red boots and a silver collar, on which the Viscountess's arms were
engraven, preceded her and bore her cushion; then came her
gentlewoman; a little pack of spaniels barking and frisking about
preceded the austere huntress--then, behold, the Viscountess
herself "dropping odors." Esmond recollected from his childhood
that rich aroma of musk which his mother-in-law (for she may be
called so) exhaled. As the sky grows redder and redder towards
sunset, so, in the decline of her years, the cheeks of my Lady
Dowager blushed more deeply. Her face was illuminated with
vermilion, which appeared the brighter from the white paint
employed to set it off. She wore the ringlets which had been in
fashion in King Charles's time; whereas the ladies of King
William's had head-dresses like the towers of Cybele. Her eyes
gleamed out from the midst of this queer structure of paint, dyes,
and pomatums. Such was my Lady Viscountess, Mr. Esmond's father's
He made her such a profound bow as her dignity and relationship
merited, and advanced with the greatest gravity, and once more
kissed that hand, upon the trembling knuckles of which glittered a
score of rings--remembering old times when that trembling hand made
him tremble. "Marchioness," says he, bowing, and on one knee, "is
it only the hand I may have the honor of saluting?" For,
accompanying that inward laughter, which the sight of such an
astonishing old figure might well produce in the young man, there
was good will too, and the kindness of consanguinity. She had been
his father's wife, and was his grandfather's daughter. She had
suffered him in old days, and was kind to him now after her
fashion. And now that bar-sinister was removed from Esmond's
thought, and that secret opprobrium no longer cast upon his mind,
he was pleased to feel family ties and own them--perhaps secretly
vain of the sacrifice he had made, and to think that he, Esmond,
was really the chief of his house, and only prevented by his own
magnanimity from advancing his claim.
At least, ever since he had learned that secret from his poor
patron on his dying bed, actually as he was standing beside it, he
had felt an independency which he had never known before, and which
since did not desert him. So he called his old aunt Marchioness,
but with an air as if he was the Marquis of Esmond who so addressed
Did she read in the young gentleman's eyes, which had now no fear
of hers or their superannuated authority, that he knew or suspected
the truth about his birth? She gave a start of surprise at his
altered manner: indeed, it was quite a different bearing to that of
the Cambridge student who had paid her a visit two years since, and
whom she had dismissed with five pieces sent by the groom of the
chamber. She eyed him, then trembled a little more than was her
wont, perhaps, and said, "Welcome, cousin," in a frightened voice.
His resolution, as has been said before, had been quite different,
namely, so to bear himself through life as if the secret of his
birth was not known to him; but he suddenly and rightly determined
on a different course. He asked that her ladyship's attendants
should be dismissed, and when they were private--"Welcome, nephew,
at least, madam, it should be," he said. "A great wrong has been
done to me and to you, and to my poor mother, who is no more."
"I declare before heaven that I was guiltless of it," she cried
out, giving up her cause at once. "It was your wicked father who--"
"Who brought this dishonor on our family," says Mr. Esmond. "I
know it full well. I want to disturb no one. Those who are in
present possession have been my dearest benefactors, and are quite
innocent of intentional wrong to me. The late lord, my dear
patron, knew not the truth until a few months before his death,
when Father Holt brought the news to him."
"The wretch! he had it in confession! he had it in confession!"
cried out the Dowager Lady.
"Not so. He learned it elsewhere as well as in confession," Mr.
Esmond answered. "My father, when wounded at the Boyne, told the
truth to a French priest, who was in hiding after the battle, as
well as to the priest there, at whose house he died. This
gentleman did not think fit to divulge the story till he met with
Mr. Holt at Saint Omer's. And the latter kept it back for his own
purpose, and until he had learned whether my mother was alive or
no. She is dead years since, my poor patron told me with his dying
breath, and I doubt him not. I do not know even whether I could
prove a marriage. I would not if I could. I do not care to bring
shame on our name, or grief upon those whom I love, however hardly
they may use me. My father's son, madam, won't aggravate the wrong
my father did you. Continue to be his widow, and give me your
kindness. 'Tis all I ask from you; and I shall never speak of this
"Mais vous etes un noble jeune homme!" breaks out my lady,
speaking, as usual with her when she was agitated, in the French
"Noblesse oblige," says Mr. Esmond, making her a low bow. "There
are those alive to whom, in return for their love to me, I often
fondly said I would give my life away. Shall I be their enemy now,
and quarrel about a title? What matters who has it? 'Tis with the
"What can there be in that little prude of a woman that makes men
so raffoler about her?" cries out my Lady Dowager. "She was here
for a month petitioning the King. She is pretty, and well
conserved; but she has not the bel air. In his late Majesty's
Court all the men pretended to admire her, and she was no better
than a little wax doll. She is better now, and looks the sister of
her daughter; but what mean you all by bepraising her? Mr. Steele,
who was in waiting on Prince George, seeing her with her two
children going to Kensington, writ a poem about her, and says he
shall wear her colors, and dress in black for the future. Mr.
Congreve says he will write a 'Mourning Widow,' that shall be
better than his 'Mourning Bride.' Though their husbands quarrelled
and fought when that wretch Churchill deserted the King (for which
he deserved to be hung), Lady Marlborough has again gone wild about
the little widow; insulted me in my own drawing-room, by saying
'twas not the OLD widow, but the young Viscountess, she had come to
see. Little Castlewood and little Lord Churchill are to be sworn
friends, and have boxed each other twice or thrice like brothers
already. 'Twas that wicked young Mohun who, coming back from the
provinces last year, where he had disinterred her, raved about her
all the winter; said she was a pearl set before swine; and killed
poor stupid Frank. The quarrel was all about his wife. I know
'twas all about her. Was there anything between her and Mohun,
nephew? Tell me now--was there anything? About yourself, I do not
ask you to answer questions."
Mr. Esmond blushed up. "My lady's virtue is like that of a saint
in heaven, madam," he cried out.
"Eh!--mon neveu. Many saints get to heaven after having a deal to
repent of. I believe you are like all the rest of the fools, and
madly in love with her."
"Indeed, I loved and honored her before all the world," Esmond
answered. "I take no shame in that."
"And she has shut her door on you--given the living to that horrid
young cub, son of that horrid old bear, Tusher, and says she will
never see you more. Monsieur mon neveu--we are all like that.
When I was a young woman, I'm positive that a thousand duels were
fought about me. And when poor Monsieur de Souchy drowned himself
in the canal at Bruges because I danced with Count Springbock, I
couldn't squeeze out a single tear, but danced till five o'clock
the next morning. 'Twas the Count--no, 'twas my Lord Ormond that
played the fiddles, and his Majesty did me the honor of dancing all
night with me.--How you are grown! You have got the bel air. You
are a black man. Our Esmonds are all black. The little prude's
son is fair; so was his father--fair and stupid. You were an ugly
little wretch when you came to Castlewood--you were all eyes, like
a young crow. We intended you should be a priest. That awful
Father Holt--how he used to frighten me when I was ill! I have a
comfortable director now--the Abbe Douillette--a dear man. We make
meagre on Fridays always. My cook is a devout pious man. You, of
course, are of the right way of thinking. They say the Prince of
Orange is very ill indeed."
In this way the old Dowager rattled on remorselessly to Mr. Esmond,
who was quite astounded with her present volubility, contrasting it
with her former haughty behavior to him. But she had taken him
into favor for the moment, and chose not only to like him, as far
as her nature permitted, but to be afraid of him; and he found
himself to be as familiar with her now as a young man, as, when a
boy, he had been timorous and silent. She was as good as her word
respecting him. She introduced him to her company, of which she
entertained a good deal--of the adherents of King James of course--
and a great deal of loud intriguing took place over her card-
tables. She presented Mr. Esmond as her kinsman to many persons of
honor; she supplied him not illiberally with money, which he had no
scruple in accepting from her, considering the relationship which
he bore to her, and the sacrifices which he himself was making in
behalf of the family. But he had made up his mind to continue at
no woman's apron-strings longer; and perhaps had cast about how he
should distinguish himself, and make himself a name, which his
singular fortune had denied him. A discontent with his former
bookish life and quietude,--a bitter feeling of revolt at that
slavery in which he had chosen to confine himself for the sake of
those whose hardness towards him make his heart bleed,--a restless
wish to see men and the world,--led him to think of the military
profession: at any rate, to desire to see a few campaigns, and
accordingly he pressed his new patroness to get him a pair of
colors; and one day had the honor of finding himself appointed an
ensign in Colonel Quin's regiment of Fusileers on the Irish
Mr. Esmond's commission was scarce three weeks old when that
accident befell King William which ended the life of the greatest,
the wisest, the bravest, and most clement sovereign whom England
ever knew. 'Twas the fashion of the hostile party to assail this
great prince's reputation during his life; but the joy which they
and all his enemies in Europe showed at his death, is a proof of
the terror in which they held him. Young as Esmond was, he was
wise enough (and generous enough too, let it be said) to scorn that
indecency of gratulation which broke out amongst the followers of
King James in London, upon the death of this illustrious prince,
this invincible warrior, this wise and moderate statesman. Loyalty
to the exiled king's family was traditional, as has been said, in
that house to which Mr. Esmond belonged. His father's widow had
all her hopes, sympathies, recollections, prejudices, engaged on
King James's side; and was certainly as noisy a conspirator as ever
asserted the King's rights, or abused his opponent's, over a
quadrille table or a dish of bohea. Her ladyship's house swarmed
with ecclesiastics, in disguise and out; with tale-bearers from St.
Germains; and quidnuncs that knew the last news from Versailles;
nay, the exact force and number of the next expedition which the
French king was to send from Dunkirk, and which was to swallow up
the Prince of Orange, his army and his court. She had received the
Duke of Berwick when he landed here in '96. She kept the glass he
drank from, vowing she never would use it till she drank King James
the Third's health in it on his Majesty's return; she had tokens
from the Queen, and relics of the saint who, if the story was true,
had not always been a saint as far as she and many others were
concerned. She believed in the miracles wrought at his tomb, and
had a hundred authentic stories of wondrous cures effected by the
blessed king's rosaries, the medals which he wore, the locks of his
hair, or what not. Esmond remembered a score of marvellous tales
which the credulous old woman told him. There was the Bishop of
Autun, that was healed of a malady he had for forty years, and
which left him after he said mass for the repose of the king's
soul. There was M. Marais, a surgeon in Auvergne, who had a palsy
in both his legs, which was cured through the king's intercession.
There was Philip Pitet, of the Benedictines, who had a suffocating
cough, which wellnigh killed him, but he besought relief of heaven
through the merits and intercession of the blessed king, and he
straightway felt a profuse sweat breaking out all over him, and was
recovered perfectly. And there was the wife of Mons. Lepervier,
dancing-master to the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, who was entirely eased of
a rheumatism by the king's intercession, of which miracle there
could be no doubt, for her surgeon and his apprentice had given
their testimony, under oath, that they did not in any way
contribute to the cure. Of these tales, and a thousand like them,
Mr. Esmond believed as much as he chose. His kinswoman's greater
faith had swallow for them all.
The English High Church party did not adopt these legends. But
truth and honor, as they thought, bound them to the exiled king's
side; nor had the banished family any warmer supporter than that
kind lady of Castlewood, in whose house Esmond was brought up. She
influenced her husband, very much more perhaps than my lord knew,
who admired his wife prodigiously though he might be inconstant to
her, and who, adverse to the trouble of thinking himself, gladly
enough adopted the opinions which she chose for him. To one of her
simple and faithful heart, allegiance to any sovereign but the one
was impossible. To serve King William for interest's sake would
have been a monstrous hypocrisy and treason. Her pure conscience
could no more have consented to it than to a theft, a forgery, or
any other base action. Lord Castlewood might have been won over,
no doubt, but his wife never could: and he submitted his conscience
to hers in this case as he did in most others, when he was not
tempted too sorely. And it was from his affection and gratitude
most likely, and from that eager devotion for his mistress, which
characterized all Esmond's youth, that the young man subscribed to
this, and other articles of faith, which his fond benefactress set
him. Had she been a Whig, he had been one; had she followed Mr.
Fox, and turned Quaker, no doubt he would have abjured ruffles and
a periwig, and have forsworn swords, lace-coats, and clocked
stockings. In the scholars' boyish disputes at the University,
where parties ran very high, Esmond was noted as a Jacobite, and
very likely from vanity as much as affection took the side of his
Almost the whole of the clergy of the country and more than a half
of the nation were on this side. Ours is the most loyal people in
the world surely; we admire our kings, and are faithful to them
long after they have ceased to be true to us. 'Tis a wonder to any
one who looks back at the history of the Stuart family to think how
they kicked their crowns away from them; how they flung away
chances after chances; what treasures of loyalty they dissipated,
and how fatally they were bent on consummating their own ruin. If
ever men had fidelity, 'twas they; if ever men squandered
opportunity, 'twas they; and, of all the enemies they had, they
themselves were the most fatal.
When the Princess Anne succeeded, the wearied nation was glad
enough to cry a truce from all these wars, controversies, and
conspiracies, and to accept in the person of a Princess of the
blood royal a compromise between the parties into which the country
was divided. The Tories could serve under her with easy
consciences; though a Tory herself, she represented the triumph of
the Whig opinion. The people of England, always liking that their
Princes should be attached to their own families, were pleased to
think the Princess was faithful to hers; and up to the very last
day and hour of her reign, and but for that fatality which he
inherited from his fathers along with their claims to the English
crown, King James the Third might have worn it. But he neither
knew how to wait an opportunity, nor to use it when he had it; he
was venturesome when he ought to have been cautious, and cautious
when he ought to have dared everything. 'Tis with a sort of rage
at his inaptitude that one thinks of his melancholy story. Do the
Fates deal more specially with kings than with common men? One is
apt to imagine so, in considering the history of that royal race,
in whose behalf so much fidelity, so much valor, so much blood were
desperately and bootlessly expended.
The King dead then, the Princess Anne (ugly Anne Hyde's daughter,
our Dowager at Chelsey called her) was proclaimed by trumpeting
heralds all over the town from Westminster to Ludgate Hill, amidst
immense jubilations of the people.
Next week my Lord Marlborough was promoted to the Garter, and to be
Captain-General of her Majesty's forces at home and abroad. This
appointment only inflamed the Dowager's rage, or, as she thought
it, her fidelity to her rightful sovereign. "The Princess is but a
puppet in the hands of that fury of a woman, who comes into my
drawing-room and insults me to my face. What can come to a country
that is given over to such a woman?" says the Dowager: "As for that
double-faced traitor, my Lord Marlborough, he has betrayed every
man and every woman with whom he has had to deal, except his horrid
wife, who makes him tremble. 'Tis all over with the country when
it has got into the clutches of such wretches as these."
Esmond's old kinswoman saluted the new powers in this way; but some
good fortune at last occurred to a family which stood in great need
of it, by the advancement of these famous personages who benefited
humbler people that had the luck of being in their favor. Before
Mr. Esmond left England in the month of August, and being then at
Portsmouth, where he had joined his regiment, and was busy at
drill, learning the practice and mysteries of the musket and pike,
he heard that a pension on the Stamp Office had been got for his
late beloved mistress, and that the young Mistress Beatrix was also
to be taken into court. So much good, at least, had come of the
poor widow's visit to London, not revenge upon her husband's
enemies, but reconcilement to old friends, who pitied, and seemed
inclined to serve her. As for the comrades in prison and the late
misfortune, Colonel Westbury was with the Captain-General gone to
Holland; Captain Macartney was now at Portsmouth, with his regiment
of Fusileers and the force under command of his Grace the Duke of
Ormond, bound for Spain it was said; my Lord Warwick was returned
home; and Lord Mohun, so far from being punished for the homicide
which had brought so much grief and change into the Esmond family,
was gone in company of my Lord Macclesfield's splendid embassy to
the Elector of Hanover, carrying the Garter to his Highness, and a
complimentary letter from the Queen.
From such fitful lights as could be cast upon his dark history by
the broken narrative of his poor patron, torn by remorse and
struggling in the last pangs of dissolution, Mr. Esmond had been
made to understand so far, that his mother was long since dead; and
so there could be no question as regarded her or her honor,
tarnished by her husband's desertion and injury, to influence her
son in any steps which he might take either for prosecuting or
relinquishing his own just claims. It appeared from my poor lord's
hurried confession, that he had been made acquainted with the real
facts of the case only two years since, when Mr. Holt visited him,
and would have implicated him in one of those many conspiracies by
which the secret leaders of King James's party in this country were
ever endeavoring to destroy the Prince of Orange's life or power:
conspiracies so like murder, so cowardly in the means used, so
wicked in the end, that our nation has sure done well in throwing
off all allegiance and fidelity to the unhappy family that could
not vindicate its right except by such treachery--by such dark
intrigue and base agents. There were designs against King William
that were no more honorable than the ambushes of cut-throats and
footpads. 'Tis humiliating to think that a great Prince, possessor
of a great and sacred right, and upholder of a great cause, should
have stooped to such baseness of assassination and treasons as are
proved by the unfortunate King James's own warrant and sign manual
given to his supporters in this country. What he and they called
levying war was, in truth, no better than instigating murder. The
noble Prince of Orange burst magnanimously through those feeble
meshes of conspiracy in which his enemies tried to envelop him: it
seemed as if their cowardly daggers broke upon the breast of his
undaunted resolution. After King James's death, the Queen and her
people at St. Germains--priests and women for the most part--
continued their intrigues in behalf of the young Prince, James the
Third, as he was called in France and by his party here (this
Prince, or Chevalier de St. George, was born in the same year with
Esmond's young pupil Frank, my Lord Viscount's son); and the
Prince's affairs, being in the hands of priests and women, were
conducted as priests and women will conduct them, artfully,
cruelly, feebly, and to a certain bad issue. The moral of the
Jesuits' story I think as wholesome a one as ever was writ: the
artfullest, the wisest, the most toilsome, and dexterous plot-
builders in the world--there always comes a day when the roused
public indignation kicks their flimsy edifice down, and sends its
cowardly enemies a-flying. Mr. Swift hath finely described that
passion for intrigue, that love of secrecy, slander, and lying,
which belongs to weak people, hangers-on of weak courts. 'Tis the
nature of such to hate and envy the strong, and conspire their
ruin; and the conspiracy succeeds very well, and everything
presages the satisfactory overthrow of the great victim; until one
day Gulliver rouses himself, shakes off the little vermin of an
enemy, and walks away unmolested. Ah! the Irish soldiers might
well say after the Boyne, "Change kings with us and we will fight
it over again." Indeed, the fight was not fair between the two.
'Twas a weak, priest-ridden, woman-ridden man, with such puny
allies and weapons as his own poor nature led him to choose,
contending against the schemes, the generalship, the wisdom, and
the heart of a hero.
On one of these many coward's errands then, (for, as I view them
now, I can call them no less,) Mr. Holt had come to my lord at
Castlewood, proposing some infallible plan for the Prince of
Orange's destruction, in which my Lord Viscount, loyalist as he
was, had indignantly refused to join. As far as Mr. Esmond could
gather from his dying words, Holt came to my lord with a plan of
insurrection, and offer of the renewal, in his person, of that
marquis's title which King James had conferred on the preceding
viscount; and on refusal of this bribe, a threat was made, on
Holt's part, to upset my Lord Viscount's claim to his estate and
title of Castlewood altogether. To back this astounding piece of
intelligence, of which Henry Esmond's patron now had the first
light, Holt came armed with the late lord's dying declaration,
after the affair of the Boyne, at Trim, in Ireland, made both to
the Irish priest and a French ecclesiastic of Holt's order, that
was with King James's army. Holt showed, or pretended to show, the
marriage certificate of the late Viscount Esmond with my mother, in
the city of Brussels, in the year 1677, when the viscount, then
Thomas Esmond, was serving with the English army in Flanders; he
could show, he said, that this Gertrude, deserted by her husband
long since, was alive, and a professed nun in the year 1685, at
Brussels, in which year Thomas Esmond married his uncle's daughter,
Isabella, now called Viscountess Dowager of Castlewood; and leaving
him, for twelve hours, to consider this astounding news (so the
poor dying lord said), disappeared with his papers in the
mysterious way in which he came. Esmond knew how, well enough: by
that window from which he had seen the Father issue:--but there was
no need to explain to my poor lord, only to gather from his parting
lips the words which he would soon be able to utter no more.
Ere the twelve hours were over, Holt himself was a prisoner,
implicated in Sir John Fenwick's conspiracy, and locked up at
Hexton first, whence he was transferred to the Tower; leaving the
poor Lord Viscount, who was not aware of the others being taken, in
daily apprehension of his return, when (as my Lord Castlewood
declared, calling God to witness, and with tears in his dying eyes)
it had been his intention at once to give up his estate and his
title to their proper owner, and to retire to his own house at
Walcote with his family. "And would to God I had done it," the
poor lord said. "I would not be here now, wounded to death, a
miserable, stricken man!"
My lord waited day after day, and, as may be supposed, no messenger
came; but at a month's end Holt got means to convey to him a
message out of the Tower, which was to this effect: that he should
consider all unsaid that had been said, and that things were as
"I had a sore temptation," said my poor lord. "Since I had come
into this cursed title of Castlewood, which hath never prospered
with me, I have spent far more than the income of that estate, and
my paternal one, too. I calculated all my means down to the last
shilling, and found I never could pay you back, my poor Harry,
whose fortune I had had for twelve years. My wife and children
must have gone out of the house dishonored, and beggars. God
knows, it hath been a miserable one for me and mine. Like a
coward, I clung to that respite which Holt gave me. I kept the
truth from Rachel and you. I tried to win money of Mohun, and only
plunged deeper into debt; I scarce dared look thee in the face when
I saw thee. This sword hath been hanging over my head these two
years. I swear I felt happy when Mohun's blade entered my side."
After lying ten months in the Tower, Holt, against whom nothing
could be found except that he was a Jesuit priest, known to be in
King James's interest, was put on shipboard by the incorrigible
forgiveness of King William, who promised him, however, a hanging
if ever he should again set foot on English shore. More than once,
whilst he was in prison himself, Esmond had thought where those
papers could be, which the Jesuit had shown to his patron, and
which had such an interest for himself. They were not found on Mr.
Holt's person when that Father was apprehended, for had such been
the case my Lords of the Council had seen them, and this family
history had long since been made public. However, Esmond cared not
to seek the papers. His resolution being taken; his poor mother
dead; what matter to him that documents existed proving his right
to a title which he was determined not to claim, and of which he
vowed never to deprive that family which he loved best in the
world? Perhaps he took a greater pride out of his sacrifice than
he would have had in those honors which he was resolved to forego.
Again, as long as these titles were not forthcoming, Esmond's