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The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. by W. M. Thackeray

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So it was, however, that a young gentleman, who, in the eyes of his
family, and in his own, doubtless, was looked upon as a consummate
hero, found that the great hero of the day took no more notice of
him than of the smallest drummer in his Grace's army. The Dowager
at Chelsey was furious against this neglect of her family, and had
a great battle with Lady Marlborough (as Lady Castlewood insisted
on calling the Duchess). Her Grace was now Mistress of the Robes
to her Majesty, and one of the greatest personages in this kingdom,
as her husband was in all Europe, and the battle between the two
ladies took place in the Queen's drawing-room.

The Duchess, in reply to my aunt's eager clamor, said haughtily,
that she had done her best for the legitimate branch of the
Esmonds, and could not be expected to provide for the bastard brats
of the family.

"Bastards!" says the Viscountess, in a fury. "There are bastards
among the Churchills, as your Grace knows, and the Duke of Berwick
is provided for well enough."

"Madam," says the Duchess, "you know whose fault it is that there
are no such dukes in the Esmond family too, and how that little
scheme of a certain lady miscarried."

Esmond's friend, Dick Steele, who was in waiting on the Prince,
heard the controversy between the ladies at court. "And faith,"
says Dick, "I think, Harry, thy kinswoman had the worst of it."

He could not keep the story quiet; 'twas all over the coffee-houses
ere night; it was printed in a News Letter before a month was over,
and "The reply of her Grace the Duchess of M-rlb-r-gh to a Popish
Lady of the Court, once a favorite of the late K--- J-m-s," was
printed in half a dozen places, with a note stating that "this
duchess, when the head of this lady's family came by his death
lately in a fatal duel, never rested until she got a pension for
the orphan heir, and widow, from her Majesty's bounty." The
squabble did not advance poor Esmond's promotion much, and indeed
made him so ashamed of himself that he dared not show his face at
the Commander-in-Chief's levees again.

During those eighteen months which had passed since Esmond saw his
dear mistress, her good father, the old Dean, quitted this life,
firm in his principles to the very last, and enjoining his family
always to remember that the Queen's brother, King James the Third,
was their rightful sovereign. He made a very edifying end, as his
daughter told Esmond, and not a little to her surprise, after his
death (for he had lived always very poorly) my lady found that her
father had left no less a sum than 3,000L. behind him, which he
bequeathed to her.

With this little fortune Lady Castlewood was enabled, when her
daughter's turn at Court came, to come to London, where she took a
small genteel house at Kensington, in the neighborhood of the
Court, bringing her children with her, and here it was that Esmond
found his friends.

As for the young lord, his university career had ended rather
abruptly. Honest Tusher, his governor, had found my young
gentleman quite ungovernable. My lord worried his life away with
tricks; and broke out, as home-bred lads will, into a hundred
youthful extravagances, so that Dr. Bentley, the new master of
Trinity, thought fit to write to the Viscountess Castlewood, my
lord's mother, and beg her to remove the young nobleman from a
college where he declined to learn, and where he only did harm by
his riotous example. Indeed, I believe he nearly set fire to
Nevil's Court, that beautiful new quadrangle of our college, which
Sir Christopher Wren had lately built. He knocked down a proctor's
man that wanted to arrest him in a midnight prank; he gave a
dinner-party on the Prince of Wales's birthday, which was within a
fortnight of his own, and the twenty young gentlemen then present
sallied out after their wine, having toasted King James's health
with open windows, and sung cavalier songs, and shouted "God save
the King!" in the great court, so that the master came out of his
lodge at midnight, and dissipated the riotous assembly.

This was my lord's crowning freak, and the Rev. Thomas Tusher,
domestic chaplain to the Right Honorable the Lord Viscount
Castlewood, finding his prayers and sermons of no earthly avail to
his lordship, gave up his duties of governor; went and married his
brewer's widow at Southampton, and took her and her money to his
parsonage house at Castlewood.

My lady could not be angry with her son for drinking King James's
health, being herself a loyal Tory, as all the Castlewood family
were, and acquiesced with a sigh, knowing, perhaps, that her
refusal would be of no avail to the young lord's desire for a
military life. She would have liked him to be in Mr. Esmond's
regiment, hoping that Harry might act as a guardian and adviser to
his wayward young kinsman; but my young lord would hear of nothing
but the Guards, and a commission was got for him in the Duke of
Ormond's regiment; so Esmond found my lord, ensign and lieutenant,
when he returned from Germany after the Blenheim campaign.

The effect produced by both Lady Castlewood's children when they
appeared in public was extraordinary, and the whole town speedily
rang with their fame: such a beautiful couple, it was declared,
never had been seen; the young maid of honor was toasted at every
table and tavern, and as for my young lord, his good looks were
even more admired than his sister's. A hundred songs were written
about the pair, and as the fashion of that day was, my young lord
was praised in these Anacreontics as warmly as Bathyllus. You may
be sure that he accepted very complacently the town's opinion of
him, and acquiesced with that frankness and charming good-humor he
always showed in the idea that he was the prettiest fellow in all

The old Dowager at Chelsey, though she could never be got to
acknowledge that Mistress Beatrix was any beauty at all, (in which
opinion, as it may be imagined, a vast number of the ladies agreed
with her), yet, on the very first sight of young Castlewood, she
owned she fell in love with him: and Henry Esmond, on his return to
Chelsey, found himself quite superseded in her favor by her younger
kinsman. The feat of drinking the King's health at Cambridge would
have won her heart, she said, if nothing else did. "How had the
dear young fellow got such beauty?" she asked. "Not from his
father--certainly not from his mother. How had he come by such
noble manners, and the perfect bel air? That countrified Walcote
widow could never have taught him." Esmond had his own opinion
about the countrified Walcote widow, who had a quiet grace and
serene kindness, that had always seemed to him the perfection of
good breeding, though he did not try to argue this point with his
aunt. But he could agree in most of the praises which the
enraptured old dowager bestowed on my Lord Viscount, than whom he
never beheld a more fascinating and charming gentleman. Castlewood
had not wit so much as enjoyment. "The lad looks good things," Mr.
Steele used to say; "and his laugh lights up a conversation as much
as ten repartees from Mr. Congreve. I would as soon sit over a
bottle with him as with Mr. Addison; and rather listen to his talk
than hear Nicolini. Was ever man so gracefully drunk as my Lord
Castlewood? I would give anything to carry my wine (though,
indeed, Dick bore his very kindly, and plenty of it, too), "like
this incomparable young man. When he is sober he is delightful;
and when tipsy, perfectly irresistible." And referring to his
favorite, Shakspeare (who was quite out of fashion until Steele
brought him back into the mode), Dick compared Lord Castlewood to
Prince Hal, and was pleased to dub Esmond as ancient Pistol.

The Mistress of the Robes, the greatest lady in England after the
Queen, or even before her Majesty, as the world said, though she
never could be got to say a civil word to Beatrix, whom she had
promoted to her place as maid of honor, took her brother into
instant favor. When young Castlewood, in his new uniform, and
looking like a prince out of a fairy tale, went to pay his duty to
her Grace, she looked at him for a minute in silence, the young man
blushing and in confusion before her, then fairly burst out a-
crying, and kissed him before her daughters and company. "He was
my boy's friend," she said, through her sobs. "My Blandford might
have been like him." And everybody saw, after this mark of the
Duchess's favor, that my young lord's promotion was secure, and
people crowded round the favorite's favorite, who became vainer and
gayer, and more good-humored than ever.

Meanwhile Madam Beatrix was making her conquests on her own side,
and amongst them was one poor gentleman, who had been shot by her
young eyes two years before, and had never been quite cured of that
wound; he knew, to be sure, how hopeless any passion might be,
directed in that quarter, and had taken that best, though ignoble,
remedium amoris, a speedy retreat from before the charmer, and a
long absence from her; and not being dangerously smitten in the
first instance, Esmond pretty soon got the better of his complaint,
and if he had it still, did not know he had it, and bore it easily.
But when he returned after Blenheim, the young lady of sixteen, who
had appeared the most beautiful object his eyes had ever looked on
two years back, was now advanced to a perfect ripeness and
perfection of beauty, such as instantly enthralled the poor devil,
who had already been a fugitive from her charms. Then he had seen
her but for two days, and fled; now he beheld her day after day,
and when she was at Court watched after her; when she was at home,
made one of the family party; when she went abroad, rode after her
mother's chariot; when she appeared in public places, was in the
box near her, or in the pit looking at her; when she went to church
was sure to be there, though he might not listen to the sermon, and
be ready to hand her to her chair if she deigned to accept of his
services, and select him from a score of young men who were always
hanging round about her. When she went away, accompanying her
Majesty to Hampton Court, a darkness fell over London. Gods, what
nights has Esmond passed, thinking of her, rhyming about her,
talking about her! His friend Dick Steele was at this time
courting the young lady, Mrs. Scurlock, whom he married; she had a
lodging in Kensington Square, hard by my Lady Castlewood's house
there. Dick and Harry, being on the same errand, used to meet
constantly at Kensington. They were always prowling about that
place, or dismally walking thence, or eagerly running thither.
They emptied scores of bottles at the "King's Arms," each man
prating of his love, and allowing the other to talk on condition
that he might have his own turn as a listener. Hence arose an
intimacy between them, though to all the rest of their friends they
must have been insufferable. Esmond's verses to "Gloriana at the
Harpsichord," to "Gloriana's Nosegay," to "Gloriana at Court,"
appeared this year in the Observator.--Have you never read them?
They were thought pretty poems, and attributed by some to Mr.

This passion did not escape--how should it?--the clear eyes of
Esmond's mistress: he told her all; what will a man not do when
frantic with love? To what baseness will he not demean himself?
What pangs will he not make others suffer, so that he may ease his
selfish heart of a part of its own pain? Day after day he would
seek his dear mistress, pour insane hopes, supplications,
rhapsodies, raptures, into her ear. She listened, smiled,
consoled, with untiring pity and sweetness. Esmond was the eldest
of her children, so she was pleased to say; and as for her
kindness, who ever had or would look for aught else from one who
was an angel of goodness and pity? After what has been said, 'tis
needless almost to add that poor Esmond's suit was unsuccessful.
What was a nameless, penniless lieutenant to do, when some of the
greatest in the land were in the field? Esmond never so much as
thought of asking permission to hope so far above his reach as he
knew this prize was and passed his foolish, useless life in mere
abject sighs and impotent longing. What nights of rage, what days
of torment, of passionate unfulfilled desire, of sickening jealousy
can he recall! Beatrix thought no more of him than of the lackey
that followed her chair. His complaints did not touch her in the
least; his raptures rather fatigued her; she cared for his verses
no more than for Dan Chaucer's, who's dead these ever so many
hundred years; she did not hate him; she rather despised him, and
just suffered him.

One day, after talking to Beatrix's mother, his dear, fond,
constant mistress--for hours--for all day long--pouring out his
flame and his passion, his despair and rage, returning again and
again to the theme, pacing the room, tearing up the flowers on the
table, twisting and breaking into bits the wax out of the stand-
dish, and performing a hundred mad freaks of passionate folly;
seeing his mistress at last quite pale and tired out with sheer
weariness of compassion, and watching over his fever for the
hundredth time, Esmond seized up his hat, and took his leave. As
he got into Kensington Square, a sense of remorse came over him for
the wearisome pain he had been inflicting upon the dearest and
kindest friend ever man had. He went back to the house, where the
servant still stood at the open door, ran up the stairs, and found
his mistress where he had left her in the embrasure of the window,
looking over the fields towards Chelsey. She laughed, wiping away
at the same time the tears which were in her kind eyes; he flung
himself down on his knees, and buried his head in her lap. She had
in her hand the stalk of one of the flowers, a pink, that he had
torn to pieces. "Oh, pardon me, pardon me, my dearest and
kindest," he said; "I am in hell, and you are the angel that brings
me a drop of water."

"I am your mother, you are my son, and I love you always," she
said, holding her hands over him: and he went away comforted and
humbled in mind, as he thought of that amazing and constant love
and tenderness with which this sweet lady ever blessed and pursued



The gentlemen ushers had a table at Kensington, and the Guard a
very splendid dinner daily at St. James's, at either of which
ordinaries Esmond was free to dine. Dick Steele liked the Guard-
table better than his own at the gentlemen ushers', where there was
less wine and more ceremony; and Esmond had many a jolly afternoon
in company of his friend, and a hundred times at least saw Dick
into his chair. If there is verity in wine, according to the old
adage, what an amiable-natured character Dick's must have been! In
proportion as he took in wine he overflowed with kindness. His
talk was not witty so much as charming. He never said a word that
could anger anybody, and only became the more benevolent the more
tipsy he grew. Many of the wags derided the poor fellow in his
cups, and chose him as a butt for their satire: but there was a
kindness about him, and a sweet playful fancy, that seemed to
Esmond far more charming than the pointed talk of the brightest
wits, with their elaborate repartees and affected severities. I
think Steele shone rather than sparkled. Those famous beaux-
esprits of the coffee-houses (Mr. William Congreve, for instance,
when his gout and his grandeur permitted him to come among us)
would make many brilliant hits--half a dozen in a night sometimes--
but, like sharp-shooters, when they had fired their shot, they were
obliged to retire under cover till their pieces were loaded again,
and wait till they got another chance at their enemy; whereas Dick
never thought that his bottle companion was a butt to aim at--only
a friend to shake by the hand. The poor fellow had half the town
in his confidence; everybody knew everything about his loves and
his debts, his creditors or his mistress's obduracy. When Esmond
first came on to the town, honest Dick was all flames and raptures
for a young lady, a West India fortune, whom he married. In a
couple of years the lady was dead, the fortune was all but spent,
and the honest widower was as eager in pursuit of a new paragon of
beauty, as if he had never courted and married and buried the last

Quitting the Guard-table one Sunday afternoon, when by chance Dick
had a sober fit upon him, be and his friend were making their way
down Germain Street, and Dick all of a sudden left his companion's
arm, and ran after a gentleman who was poring over a folio volume
at the book-shop near to St. James's Church. He was a fair, tall
man, in a snuff-colored suit, with a plain sword, very sober, and
almost shabby in appearance--at least when compared to Captain
Steele, who loved to adorn his jolly round person with the finest
of clothes, and shone in scarlet and gold lace. The Captain rushed
up, then, to the student of the book-stall, took him in his arms,
hugged him, and would have kissed him--for Dick was always hugging
and bussing his friends--but the other stepped back with a flush on
his pale face, seeming to decline this public manifestation of
Steele's regard.

"My dearest Joe, where hast thou hidden thyself this age?" cries
the Captain, still holding both his friend's hands; "I have been
languishing for thee this fortnight."

"A fortnight is not an age, Dick," says the other, very good-
humoredly. (He had light blue eyes, extraordinary bright, and a
face perfectly regular and handsome, like a tinted statue.) "And I
have been hiding myself--where do you think?"

"What! not across the water, my dear Joe?" says Steele, with a look
of great alarm: "thou knowest I have always--"

"No," says his friend, interrupting him with a smile: "we are not
come to such straits as that, Dick. I have been hiding, sir, at a
place where people never think of finding you--at my own lodgings,
whither I am going to smoke a pipe now and drink a glass of sack:
will your honor come?"

"Harry Esmond, come hither," cries out Dick. "Thou hast heard me
talk over and over again of my dearest Joe, my guardian angel?"

"Indeed," says Mr. Esmond, with a bow, "it is not from you only
that I have learnt to admire Mr. Addison. We loved good poetry at
Cambridge as well as at Oxford; and I have some of yours by heart,
though I have put on a red coat. . . . 'O qui canoro blandius
Orpheo vocale ducis carmen;' shall I go on, sir?" says Mr. Esmond,
who, indeed, had read and loved the charming Latin poems of Mr.
Addison, as every scholar of that time knew and admired them.

"This is Captain Esmond who was at Blenheim," says Steele.

"Lieutenant Esmond," says the other, with a low bow, "at Mr.
Addison's service.

"I have heard of you," says Mr. Addison, with a smile; as, indeed,
everybody about town had heard that unlucky story about Esmond's
dowager aunt and the Duchess.

"We were going to the 'George' to take a bottle before the play,"
says Steele: "wilt thou be one, Joe?"

Mr. Addison said his own lodgings were hard by, where he was still
rich enough to give a good bottle of wine to his friends; and
invited the two gentlemen to his apartment in the Haymarket,
whither we accordingly went.

"I shall get credit with my landlady," says he, with a smile, "when
she sees two such fine gentlemen as you come up my stair." And he
politely made his visitors welcome to his apartment, which was
indeed but a shabby one, though no grandee of the land could
receive his guests with a more perfect and courtly grace than this
gentleman. A frugal dinner, consisting of a slice of meat and a
penny loaf, was awaiting the owner of the lodgings. "My wine is
better than my meat," says Mr. Addison; "my Lord Halifax sent me
the Burgundy." And he set a bottle and glasses before his friends,
and ate his simple dinner in a very few minutes, after which the
three fell to, and began to drink. "You see," says Mr. Addison,
pointing to his writing-table, whereon was a map of the action at
Hochstedt, and several other gazettes and pamphlets relating to the
battle, "that I, too, am busy about your affairs, Captain. I am
engaged as a poetical gazetteer, to say truth, and am writing a
poem on the campaign."

So Esmond, at the request of his host, told him what he knew about
the famous battle, drew the river on the table aliquo mero, and
with the aid of some bits of tobacco-pipe showed the advance of the
left wing, where he had been engaged.

A sheet or two of the verses lay already on the table beside our
bottles and glasses, and Dick having plentifully refreshed himself
from the latter, took up the pages of manuscript, writ out with
scarce a blot or correction, in the author's slim, neat
handwriting, and began to read therefrom with great emphasis and
volubility. At pauses of the verse, the enthusiastic reader
stopped and fired off a great salvo of applause.

Esmond smiled at the enthusiasm of Addison's friend. "You are like
the German Burghers," says he, "and the Princes on the Mozelle:
when our army came to a halt, they always sent a deputation to
compliment the chief, and fired a salute with all their artillery
from their walls."

"And drunk the great chiefs health afterward, did not they?" says
Captain Steele, gayly filling up a bumper;--he never was tardy at
that sort of acknowledgment of a friend's merit.

"And the Duke, since you will have me act his Grace's part," says
Mr. Addison, with a smile, and something of a blush, "pledged his
friends in return. Most Serene Elector of Covent Garden, I drink
to your Highness's health," and he filled himself a glass. Joseph
required scarce more pressing than Dick to that sort of amusement;
but the wine never seemed at all to fluster Mr. Addison's brains;
it only unloosed his tongue: whereas Captain Steele's head and
speech were quite overcome by a single bottle.

No matter what the verses were, and, to say truth, Mr. Esmond found
some of them more than indifferent, Dick's enthusiasm for his chief
never faltered, and in every line from Addison's pen, Steele found
a master-stroke. By the time Dick had come to that part of the
poem, wherein the bard describes as blandly as though he were
recording a dance at the opera, or a harmless bout of bucolic
cudgelling at a village fair, that bloody and ruthless part of our
campaign, with the remembrance whereof every soldier who bore a
part in it must sicken with shame--when we were ordered to ravage
and lay waste the Elector's country; and with fire and murder,
slaughter and crime, a great part of his dominions was overrun;
when Dick came to the lines--

"In vengeance roused the soldier fills his hand
With sword and fire, and ravages the land,
In crackling flames a thousand harvests burn,
A thousand villages to ashes turn.
To the thick woods the woolly flocks retreat,
And mixed with bellowing herds confusedly bleat.
Their trembling lords the common shade partake,
And cries of infants found in every brake.
The listening soldier fixed in sorrow stands,
Loth to obey his leader's just commands.
The leader grieves, by generous pity swayed,
To see his just commands so well obeyed;"

by this time wine and friendship had brought poor Dick to a
perfectly maudlin state, and he hiccupped out the last line with a
tenderness that set one of his auditors a-laughing.

"I admire the license of your poets," says Esmond to Mr. Addison.
(Dick, after reading of the verses, was fain to go off, insisting
on kissing his two dear friends before his departure, and reeling
away with his periwig over his eyes.) "I admire your art: the
murder of the campaign is done to military music, like a battle at
the opera, and the virgins shriek in harmony, as our victorious
grenadiers march into their villages. Do you know what a scene it
was?"--(by this time, perhaps, the wine had warmed Mr. Esmond's
head too,)--"what a triumph you are celebrating? what scenes of
shame and horror were enacted, over which the commander's genius
presided, as calm as though he didn't belong to our sphere? You
talk of the 'listening soldier fixed in sorrow,' the 'leader's
grief swayed by generous pity;' to my belief the leader cared no
more for bleating flocks than he did for infants' cries, and many
of our ruffians butchered one or the other with equal alacrity. I
was ashamed of my trade when I saw those horrors perpetrated, which
came under every man's eyes. You hew out of your polished verses a
stately image of smiling victory; I tell you 'tis an uncouth,
distorted, savage idol; hideous, bloody, and barbarous. The rites
performed before it are shocking to think of. You great poets
should show it as it is--ugly and horrible, not beautiful and
serene. Oh, sir, had you made the campaign, believe me, you never
would have sung it so."

During this little outbreak, Mr. Addison was listening, smoking out
of his long pipe, and smiling very placidly. "What would you
have?" says he. "In our polished days, and according to the rules
of art, 'tis impossible that the Muse should depict tortures or
begrime her hands with the horrors of war. These are indicated
rather than described; as in the Greek tragedies, that, I dare say,
you have read (and sure there can be no more elegant specimens of
composition), Agamemnon is slain, or Medea's children destroyed,
away from the scene;--the chorus occupying the stage and singing of
the action to pathetic music. Something of this I attempt, my dear
sir, in my humble way: 'tis a panegyric I mean to write, and not a
satire. Were I to sing as you would have me, the town would tear
the poet in pieces, and burn his book by the hands of the common
hangman. Do you not use tobacco? Of all the weeds grown on earth,
sure the nicotian is the most soothing and salutary. We must paint
our great Duke," Mr. Addison went on, "not as a man, which no doubt
he is, with weaknesses like the rest of us, but as a hero. 'Tis in
a triumph, not a battle, that your humble servant is riding his
sleek Pegasus. We college poets trot, you know, on very easy nags;
it hath been, time out of mind, part of the poet's profession to
celebrate the actions of heroes in verse, and to sing the deeds
which you men of war perform. I must follow the rules of my art,
and the composition of such a strain as this must be harmonious and
majestic, not familiar, or too near the vulgar truth. Si parva
licet: if Virgil could invoke the divine Augustus, a humbler poet
from the banks of the Isis may celebrate a victory and a conqueror
of our own nation, in whose triumphs every Briton has a share, and
whose glory and genius contributes to every citizen's individual
honor. When hath there been, since our Henrys' and Edwards' days,
such a great feat of arms as that from which you yourself have
brought away marks of distinction? If 'tis in my power to sing
that song worthily, I will do so, and be thankful to my Muse. If I
fail as a poet, as a Briton at least I will show my loyalty, and
fling up my cap and huzzah for the conqueror:--

"'Rheni pacator et Istri
Omnis in hoc uno variis discordia cessit
Ordinibus; laetatur eques, plauditque senator,
Votaque patricio certant plebeia favori.'"

"There were as brave men on that field," says Mr. Esmond (who never
could be made to love the Duke of Marlborough, nor to forget those
stories which he used to hear in his youth regarding that great
chiefs selfishness and treachery)--"there were men at Blenheim as
good as the leader, whom neither knights nor senators applauded,
nor voices plebeian or patrician favored, and who lie there
forgotten, under the clods. What poet is there to sing them?"

"To sing the gallant souls of heroes sent to Hades!" says Mr.
Addison, with a smile. "Would you celebrate them all? If I may
venture to question anything in such an admirable work, the
catalogue of the ships in Homer hath always appeared to me as
somewhat wearisome; what had the poem been, supposing the writer
had chronicled the names of captains, lieutenants, rank and file?
One of the greatest of a great man's qualities is success; 'tis the
result of all the others; 'tis a latent power in him which compels
the favor of the gods, and subjugates fortune. Of all his gifts I
admire that one in the great Marlborough. To be brave? every man
is brave. But in being victorious, as he is, I fancy there is
something divine. In presence of the occasion, the great soul of
the leader shines out, and the god is confessed. Death itself
respects him, and passes by him to lay others low. War and carnage
flee before him to ravage other parts of the field, as Hector from
before the divine Achilles. You say he hath no pity; no more have
the gods, who are above it, and superhuman. The fainting battle
gathers strength at his aspect; and, wherever he rides, victory
charges with him."

A couple of days after, when Mr. Esmond revisited his poetic
friend, he found this thought, struck out in the fervor of
conversation, improved and shaped into those famous lines, which
are in truth the noblest in the poem of the "Campaign." As the two
gentlemen sat engaged in talk, Mr. Addison solacing himself with
his customary pipe, the little maid-servant that waited on his
lodging came up, preceding a gentleman in fine laced clothes, that
had evidently been figuring at Court or a great man's levee. The
courtier coughed a little at the smoke of the pipe, and looked
round the room curiously, which was shabby enough, as was the owner
in his worn, snuff-colored suit and plain tie-wig.

"How goes on the magnum opus, Mr. Addison?" says the Court
gentleman on looking down at the papers that were on the table.

"We were but now over it," says Addison (the greatest courtier in
the land could not have a more splendid politeness, or greater
dignity of manner). "Here is the plan," says he, "on the table:
hac ibat Simois, here ran the little river Nebel: hic est Sigeia
tellus, here are Tallard's quarters, at the bowl of this pipe, at
the attack of which Captain Esmond was present. I have the honor
to introduce him to Mr. Boyle; and Mr. Esmond was but now depicting
aliquo proelia mixta mero, when you came in." In truth, the two
gentlemen had been so engaged when the visitor arrived, and
Addison, in his smiling way, speaking of Mr. Webb, colonel of
Esmond's regiment (who commanded a brigade in the action, and
greatly distinguished himself there), was lamenting that he could
find never a suitable rhyme for Webb, otherwise the brigade should
have had a place in the poet's verses. "And for you, you are but a
lieutenant," says Addison, "and the Muse can't occupy herself with
any gentleman under the rank of a field officer."

Mr. Boyle was all impatient to hear, saying that my Lord Treasurer
and my Lord Halifax were equally anxious; and Addison, blushing,
began reading of his verses, and, I suspect, knew their weak parts
as well as the most critical hearer. When he came to the lines
describing the angel, that

"Inspired repulsed battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage,"

he read with great animation, looking at Esmond, as much as to say,
"You know where that simile came from--from our talk, and our
bottle of Burgundy, the other day."

The poet's two hearers were caught with enthusiasm, and applauded
the verses with all their might. The gentleman of the Court sprang
up in great delight. "Not a word more, my dear sir," says he.
"Trust me with the papers--I'll defend them with my life. Let me
read them over to my Lord Treasurer, whom I am appointed to see in
half an hour. I venture to promise, the verses shall lose nothing
by my reading, and then, sir, we shall see whether Lord Halifax has
a right to complain that his friend's pension is no longer paid."
And without more ado, the courtier in lace seized the manuscript
pages, placed them in his breast with his ruffled hand over his
heart, executed a most gracious wave of the hat with the disengaged
hand, and smiled and bowed out of the room, leaving an odor of
pomander behind him.

"Does not the chamber look quite dark?" says Addison, surveying it,
"after the glorious appearance and disappearance of that gracious
messenger? Why, he illuminated the whole room. Your scarlet, Mr.
Esmond, will bear any light; but this threadbare old coat of mine,
how very worn it looked under the glare of that splendor! I wonder
whether they will do anything for me," he continued. "When I came
out of Oxford into the world, my patrons promised me great things;
and you see where their promises have landed me, in a lodging up
two pair of stairs, with a sixpenny dinner from the cook's shop.
Well, I suppose this promise will go after the others, and fortune
will jilt me, as the jade has been doing any time these seven
years. 'I puff the prostitute away,'" says he, smiling, and
blowing a cloud out of his pipe. "There is no hardship in poverty,
Esmond, that is not bearable; no hardship even in honest dependence
that an honest man may not put up with. I came out of the lap of
Alma Mater, puffed up with her praises of me, and thinking to make
a figure in the world with the parts and learning which had got me
no small name in our college. The world is the ocean, and Isis and
Charwell are but little drops, of which the sea takes no account.
My reputation ended a mile beyond Maudlin Tower; no one took note
of me; and I learned this at least, to bear up against evil fortune
with a cheerful heart. Friend Dick hath made a figure in the
world, and has passed me in the race long ago. What matters a
little name or a little fortune? There is no fortune that a
philosopher cannot endure. I have been not unknown as a scholar,
and yet forced to live by turning bear-leader, and teaching a boy
to spell. What then? The life was not pleasant, but possible--the
bear was bearable. Should this venture fail, I will go back to
Oxford; and some day, when you are a general, you shall find me a
curate in a cassock and bands, and I shall welcome your honor to my
cottage in the country, and to a mug of penny ale. 'Tis not
poverty that's the hardest to bear, or the least happy lot in
life," says Mr. Addison, shaking the ash out of his pipe. "See, my
pipe is smoked out. Shall we have another bottle? I have still a
couple in the cupboard, and of the right sort. No more?--let us go
abroad and take a turn on the Mall, or look in at the theatre and
see Dick's comedy. 'Tis not a masterpiece of wit; but Dick is a
good fellow, though he doth not set the Thames on fire."

Within a month after this day, Mr. Addison's ticket had come up a
prodigious prize in the lottery of life. All the town was in an
uproar of admiration of his poem, the "Campaign," which Dick Steele
was spouting at every coffee-house in Whitehall and Covent Garden.
The wits on the other side of Temple Bar saluted him at once as the
greatest poet the world had seen for ages; the people huzza'ed for
Marlborough and for Addison, and, more than this, the party in
power provided for the meritorious poet, and Addison got the
appointment of Commissioner of Excise, which the famous Mr. Locke
vacated, and rose from this place to other dignities and honors;
his prosperity from henceforth to the end of his life being scarce
ever interrupted. But I doubt whether he was not happier in his
garret in the Haymarket, than ever he was in his splendid palace at
Kensington; and I believe the fortune that came to him in the shape
of the countess his wife was no better than a shrew and a vixen.

Gay as the town was, 'twas but a dreary place for Mr. Esmond,
whether his charmer was in or out of it, and he was glad when his
general gave him notice that he was going back to his division of
the army which lay in winter-quarters at Bois-le-Duc. His dear
mistress bade him farewell with a cheerful face; her blessing he
knew he had always, and wheresoever fate carried him. Mistress
Beatrix was away in attendance on her Majesty at Hampton Court, and
kissed her fair fingertips to him, by way of adieu, when he rode
thither to take his leave. She received her kinsman in a waiting-
room, where there were half a dozen more ladies of the Court, so
that his high-flown speeches, had he intended to make any (and very
likely he did), were impossible; and she announced to her friends
that her cousin was going to the army, in as easy a manner as she
would have said he was going to a chocolate-house. He asked with a
rather rueful face, if she had any orders for the army? and she was
pleased to say that she would like a mantle of Mechlin lace. She
made him a saucy curtsy in reply to his own dismal bow. She
deigned to kiss her fingertips from the window, where she stood
laughing with the other ladies, and chanced to see him as he made
his way to the "Toy." The Dowager at Chelsey was not sorry to part
with him this time. "Mon cher, vous etes triste comme un sermon,"
she did him the honor to say to him; indeed, gentlemen in his
condition are by no means amusing companions, and besides, the
fickle old woman had now found a much more amiable favorite, and
raffoled for her darling lieutenant of the Guard. Frank remained
behind for a while, and did not join the army till later, in the
suite of his Grace the Commander-in-Chief. His dear mother, on the
last day before Esmond went away, and when the three dined
together, made Esmond promise to befriend her boy, and besought
Frank to take the example of his kinsman as of a loyal gentleman
and brave soldier, so she was pleased to say; and at parting,
betrayed not the least sign of faltering or weakness, though, God
knows, that fond heart was fearful enough when others were
concerned, though so resolute in bearing its own pain.

Esmond's general embarked at Harwich. 'Twas a grand sight to see
Mr. Webb dressed in scarlet on the deck, waving his hat as our
yacht put off, and the guns saluted from the shore. Harry did not
see his viscount again, until three months after, at Bois-le-Duc,
when his Grace the Duke came to take the command, and Frank brought
a budget of news from home: how he had supped with this actress,
and got tired of that; how he had got the better of Mr. St. John,
both over the bottle, and with Mrs. Mountford, of the Haymarket
Theatre (a veteran charmer of fifty, with whom the young scapegrace
chose to fancy himself in love); how his sister was always at her
tricks, and had jilted a young baron for an old earl. "I can't
make out Beatrix," he said; "she cares for none of us--she only
thinks about herself; she is never happy unless she is quarrelling;
but as for my mother--my mother, Harry, is an angel." Harry tried
to impress on the young fellow the necessity of doing everything in
his power to please that angel; not to drink too much; not to go
into debt; not to run after the pretty Flemish girls, and so forth,
as became a senior speaking to a lad. "But Lord bless thee!" the
boy said; "I may do what I like, and I know she will love me all
the same;" and so, indeed, he did what he liked. Everybody spoiled
him, and his grave kinsman as much as the rest.



On Whit-Sunday, the famous 23rd of May, 1706, my young lord first
came under the fire of the enemy, whom we found posted in order of
battle, their lines extending three miles or more, over the high
ground behind the little Gheet river, and having on his left the
little village of Anderkirk or Autre-eglise, and on his right
Ramillies, which has given its name to one of the most brilliant
and disastrous days of battle that history ever hath recorded.

Our Duke here once more met his old enemy of Blenheim, the Bavarian
Elector and the Marechal Villeroy, over whom the Prince of Savoy
had gained the famous victory of Chiari. What Englishman or
Frenchman doth not know the issue of that day? Having chosen his
own ground, having a force superior to the English, and besides the
excellent Spanish and Bavarian troops, the whole Maison-du-Roy with
him, the most splendid body of horse in the world,--in an hour (and
in spite of the prodigious gallantry of the French Royal Household,
who charged through the centre of our line and broke it,) this
magnificent army of Villeroy was utterly routed by troops that had
been marching for twelve hours, and by the intrepid skill of a
commander, who did, indeed, seem in the presence of the enemy to be
the very Genius of Victory.

I think it was more from conviction than policy, though that policy
was surely the most prudent in the world, that the great Duke
always spoke of his victories with an extraordinary modesty, and as
if it was not so much his own admirable genius and courage which
achieved these amazing successes, but as if he was a special and
fatal instrument in the hands of Providence, that willed
irresistibly the enemy's overthrow. Before his actions he always
had the church service read solemnly, and professed an undoubting
belief that our Queen's arms were blessed and our victory sure.
All the letters which he writ after his battles show awe rather
than exultation; and he attributes the glory of these achievements,
about which I have heard mere petty officers and men bragging with
a pardonable vainglory, in nowise to his own bravery or skill, but
to the superintending protection of heaven, which he ever seemed to
think was our especial ally. And our army got to believe so, and
the enemy learnt to think so too; for we never entered into a
battle without a perfect confidence that it was to end in a
victory; nor did the French, after the issue of Blenheim, and that
astonishing triumph of Ramillies, ever meet us without feeling that
the game was lost before it was begun to be played, and that our
general's fortune was irresistible. Here, as at Blenheim, the
Duke's charger was shot, and 'twas thought for a moment he was
dead. As he mounted another, Binfield, his master of the horse,
kneeling to hold his Grace's stirrup, had his head shot away by a
cannon-ball. A French gentleman of the Royal Household, that was a
prisoner with us, told the writer that at the time of the charge of
the Household, when their horse and ours were mingled, an Irish
officer recognized the Prince-Duke, and calling out--"Marlborough,
Marlborough!" fired his pistol at him a bout-portant, and that a
score more carbines and pistols were discharged at him. Not one
touched him: he rode through the French Curiassiers sword-in-hand,
and entirely unhurt, and calm and smiling, rallied the German
Horse, that was reeling before the enemy, brought these and twenty
squadrons of Orkney's back upon them, and drove the French across
the river, again leading the charge himself, and defeating the only
dangerous move the French made that day.

Major-General Webb commanded on the left of our line, and had his
own regiment under the orders of their beloved colonel. Neither he
nor they belied their character for gallantry on this occasion; but
it was about his dear young lord that Esmond was anxious, never
having sight of him save once, in the whole course of the day, when
he brought an order from the Commander-in-Chief to Mr. Webb. When
our horse, having charged round the right flank of the enemy by
Overkirk, had thrown him into entire confusion, a general advance
was made, and our whole line of foot, crossing the little river and
the morass, ascended the high ground where the French were posted,
cheering as they went, the enemy retreating before them. 'Twas a
service of more glory than danger, the French battalions never
waiting to exchange push of pike or bayonet with ours; and the
gunners flying from their pieces, which our line left behind us as
they advanced, and the French fell back.

At first it was a retreat orderly enough; but presently the retreat
became a rout, and a frightful slaughter of the French ensued on
this panic: so that an army of sixty thousand men was utterly
crushed and destroyed in the course of a couple of hours. It was
as if a hurricane had seized a compact numerous fleet, flung it all
to the winds, shattered, sunk, and annihilated it: afflavit Deus,
et dissipati sunt. The French army of Flanders was gone, their
artillery, their standards, their treasure, provisions, and
ammunition were all left behind them: the poor devils had even fled
without their soup-kettles, which are as much the palladia of the
French infantry as of the Grand Seignior's Janissaries, and round
which they rally even more than round their lilies.

The pursuit, and a dreadful carnage which ensued (for the dregs of
a battle, however brilliant, are ever a base residue of rapine,
cruelty, and drunken plunder,) was carried far beyond the field of

Honest Lockwood, Esmond's servant, no doubt wanted to be among the
marauders himself and take his share of the booty; for when, the
action over, and the troops got to their ground for the night, the
Captain bade Lockwood get a horse, he asked, with a very rueful
countenance, whether his honor would have him come too; but his
honor only bade him go about his own business, and Jack hopped away
quite delighted as soon as he saw his master mounted. Esmond made
his way, and not without danger and difficulty, to his Grace's
headquarters, and found for himself very quickly where the aide-de-
camps' quarters were, in an out-building of a farm, where several
of these gentlemen were seated, drinking and singing, and at
supper. If he had any anxiety about his boy, 'twas relieved at
once. One of the gentlemen was singing a song to a tune that Mr.
Farquhar and Mr. Gay both had used in their admirable comedies, and
very popular in the army of that day; and after the song came a
chorus, "Over the hills and far away;" and Esmond heard Frank's
fresh voice, soaring, as it were, over the songs of the rest of the
young men--a voice that had always a certain artless, indescribable
pathos with it, and indeed which caused Mr. Esmond's eyes to fill
with tears now, out of thankfulness to God the child was safe and
still alive to laugh and sing.

When the song was over Esmond entered the room, where he knew
several of the gentlemen present, and there sat my young lord,
having taken off his cuirass, his waistcoat open, his face flushed,
his long yellow hair hanging over his shoulders, drinking with the
rest; the youngest, gayest, handsomest there. As soon as he saw
Esmond, he clapped down his glass, and running towards his friend,
put both his arms round him and embraced him. The other's voice
trembled with joy as he greeted the lad; he had thought but now as
he stood in the court-yard under the clear-shining moonlight:
"Great God! what a scene of murder is here within a mile of us;
what hundreds and thousands have faced danger to-day; and here are
these lads singing over their cups, and the same moon that is
shining over yonder horrid field is looking down on Walcote very
likely, while my lady sits and thinks about her boy that is at the
war." As Esmond embraced his young pupil now, 'twas with the
feeling of quite religious thankfulness and an almost paternal
pleasure that he beheld him.

Round his neck was a star with a striped ribbon, that was made of
small brilliants and might be worth a hundred crowns. "Look," says
he, "won't that be a pretty present for mother?"

"Who gave you the Order?" says Harry, saluting the gentleman: "did
you win it in battle?"

"I won it," cried the other, "with my sword and my spear. There
was a mousquetaire that had it round his neck--such a big
mousquetaire, as big as General Webb. I called out to him to
surrender, and that I'd give him quarter: he called me a petit
polisson and fired his pistol at me, and then sent it at my head
with a curse. I rode at him, sir, drove my sword right under his
arm-hole, and broke it in the rascal's body. I found a purse in
his holster with sixty-five Louis in it, and a bundle of love-
letters, and a flask of Hungary-water. Vive la guerre! there are
the ten pieces you lent me. I should like to have a fight every
day;" and he pulled at his little moustache and bade a servant
bring a supper to Captain Esmond.

Harry fell to with a very good appetite; he had tasted nothing
since twenty hours ago, at early dawn. Master Grandson, who read
this, do you look for the history of battles and sieges? Go, find
them in the proper books; this is only the story of your
grandfather and his family. Far more pleasant to him than the
victory, though for that too he may say meminisse juvat, it was to
find that the day was over, and his dear young Castlewood was

And would you, sirrah, wish to know how it was that a sedate
Captain of Foot, a studious and rather solitary bachelor of eight
or nine and twenty years of age, who did not care very much for the
jollities which his comrades engaged in, and was never known to
lose his heart in any garrison-town--should you wish to know why
such a man had so prodigious a tenderness, and tended so fondly a
boy of eighteen, wait, my good friend, until thou art in love with
thy schoolfellow's sister, and then see how mighty tender thou wilt
be towards him. Esmond's general and his Grace the Prince-Duke
were notoriously at variance, and the former's friendship was in
nowise likely to advance any man's promotion of whose services Webb
spoke well; but rather likely to injure him, so the army said, in
the favor of the greater man. However, Mr. Esmond had the good
fortune to be mentioned very advantageously by Major-General Webb
in his report after the action; and the major of his regiment and
two of the captains having been killed upon the day of Ramillies,
Esmond, who was second of the lieutenants, got his company, and had
the honor of serving as Captain Esmond in the next campaign.

My lord went home in the winter, but Esmond was afraid to follow
him. His dear mistress wrote him letters more than once, thanking
him, as mothers know how to thank, for his care and protection of
her boy, extolling Esmond's own merits with a great deal more
praise than they deserved; for he did his duty no better than any
other officer; and speaking sometimes, though gently and
cautiously, of Beatrix. News came from home of at least half a
dozen grand matches that the beautiful maid of honor was about to
make. She was engaged to an earl, our gentleman of St. James's
said, and then jilted him for a duke, who, in his turn, had drawn
off. Earl or duke it might be who should win this Helen, Esmond
knew she would never bestow herself on a poor captain. Her
conduct, it was clear, was little satisfactory to her mother, who
scarcely mentioned her, or else the kind lady thought it was best
to say nothing, and leave time to work out its cure. At any rate,
Harry was best away from the fatal object which always wrought him
so much mischief; and so he never asked for leave to go home, but
remained with his regiment that was garrisoned in Brussels, which
city fell into our hands when the victory of Ramillies drove the
French out of Flanders.



Being one day in the Church of St. Gudule, at Brussels, admiring
the antique splendor of the architecture (and always entertaining a
great tenderness and reverence for the Mother Church, that hath
been as wickedly persecuted in England as ever she herself
persecuted in the days of her prosperity), Esmond saw kneeling at a
side altar an officer in a green uniform coat, very deeply engaged
in devotion. Something familiar in the figure and posture of the
kneeling man struck Captain Esmond, even before he saw the
officer's face. As he rose up, putting away into his pocket a
little black breviary, such as priests use, Esmond beheld a
countenance so like that of his friend and tutor of early days,
Father Holt, that he broke out into an exclamation of astonishment
and advanced a step towards the gentleman, who was making his way
out of church. The German officer too looked surprised when he saw
Esmond, and his face from being pale grew suddenly red. By this
mark of recognition, the Englishman knew that he could not be
mistaken; and though the other did not stop, but on the contrary
rather hastily walked away towards the door, Esmond pursued him and
faced him once more, as the officer, helping himself to holy water,
turned mechanically towards the altar, to bow to it ere he quitted
the sacred edifice.

"My Father!" says Esmond in English.

"Silence! I do not understand. I do not speak English," says the
other in Latin.

Esmond smiled at this sign of confusion, and replied in the same
language--"I should know my Father in any garment, black or white,
shaven or bearded;" for the Austrian officer was habited quite in
the military manner, and had as warlike a mustachio as any Pandour.

He laughed--we were on the church steps by this time, passing
through the crowd of beggars that usually is there holding up
little trinkets for sale and whining for alms. "You speak Latin,"
says he, "in the English way, Harry Esmond; you have forsaken the
old true Roman tongue you once knew." His tone was very frank, and
friendly quite; the kind voice of fifteen years back; he gave
Esmond his hand as he spoke.

"Others have changed their coats too, my Father," says Esmond,
glancing at his friend's military decoration.

"Hush! I am Mr. or Captain von Holtz, in the Bavarian Elector's
service, and on a mission to his Highness the Prince of Savoy. You
can keep a secret I know from old times."

"Captain von Holtz," says Esmond, "I am your very humble servant."

"And you, too, have changed your coat," continues the other in his
laughing way; "I have heard of you at Cambridge and afterwards: we
have friends everywhere; and I am told that Mr. Esmond at Cambridge
was as good a fencer as he was a bad theologian." (So, thinks
Esmond, my old maitre d'armes was a Jesuit, as they said.)

"Perhaps you are right," says the other, reading his thoughts quite
as he used to do in old days; "you were all but killed at Hochstedt
of a wound in the left side. You were before that at Vigo, aide-
de-camp to the Duke of Ormonde. You got your company the other day
after Ramillies; your general and the Prince-Duke are not friends;
he is of the Webbs of Lydiard Tregoze, in the county of York, a
relation of my Lord St. John. Your cousin, M. de Castlewood,
served his first campaign this year in the Guard; yes, I do know a
few things, as you see."

Captain Esmond laughed in his turn. "You have indeed a curious
knowledge," he says. A foible of Mr. Holt's, who did know more
about books and men than, perhaps, almost any person Esmond had
ever met, was omniscience; thus in every point he here professed to
know, he was nearly right, but not quite. Esmond's wound was in
the right side, not the left; his first general was General Lumley;
Mr. Webb came out of Wiltshire, not out of Yorkshire; and so forth.
Esmond did not think fit to correct his old master in these
trifling blunders, but they served to give him a knowledge of the
other's character, and he smiled to think that this was his oracle
of early days; only now no longer infallible or divine.

"Yes," continues Father Holt, or Captain von Holtz, "for a man who
has not been in England these eight years, I know what goes on in
London very well. The old Dean is dead, my Lady Castlewood's
father. Do you know that your recusant bishops wanted to
consecrate him Bishop of Southampton, and that Collier is Bishop of
Thetford by the same imposition? The Princess Anne has the gout
and eats too much; when the King returns, Collier will be an

"Amen!" says Esmond, laughing; "and I hope to see your Eminence no
longer in jack-boots, but red stockings, at Whitehall."

"You are always with us--I know that--I heard of that when you were
at Cambridge; so was the late lord; so is the young viscount."

"And so was my father before me," said Mr. Esmond, looking calmly
at the other, who did not, however, show the least sign of
intelligence in his impenetrable gray eyes--how well Harry
remembered them and their look! only crows' feet were wrinkled
round them--marks of black old Time had settled there.

Esmond's face chose to show no more sign of meaning than the
Father's. There may have been on the one side and the other just
the faintest glitter of recognition, as you see a bayonet shining
out of an ambush; but each party fell back, when everything was
again dark.

"And you, mon capitaine, where have you been?" says Esmond, turning
away the conversation from this dangerous ground, where neither
chose to engage.

"I may have been in Pekin," says he, "or I may have been in
Paraguay--who knows where? I am now Captain von Holtz, in the
service of his Electoral Highness, come to negotiate exchange of
prisoners with his Highness of Savoy."

'Twas well known that very many officers in our army were well-
affected towards the young king at St. Germains, whose right to the
throne was undeniable, and whose accession to it, at the death of
his sister, by far the greater part of the English people would
have preferred, to the having a petty German prince for a
sovereign, about whose cruelty, rapacity, boorish manners, and
odious foreign ways, a thousand stories were current. It wounded
our English pride to think that a shabby High-Dutch duke, whose
revenues were not a tithe as great as those of many of the princes
of our ancient English nobility, who could not speak a word of our
language, and whom we chose to represent as a sort of German boor,
feeding on train-oil and sour-crout, with a bevy of mistresses in a
barn, should come to reign over the proudest and most polished
people in the world. Were we, the conquerors of the Grand Monarch,
to submit to that ignoble domination? What did the Hanoverian's
Protestantism matter to us? Was it not notorious (we were told and
led to believe so) that one of the daughters of this Protestant
hero was being bred up with no religion at all, as yet, and ready
to be made Lutheran or Roman, according as the husband might be
whom her parents should find for her? This talk, very idle and
abusive much of it was, went on at a hundred mess-tables in the
army; there was scarce an ensign that did not hear it, or join in
it, and everybody knew, or affected to know, that the Commander-in-
Chief himself had relations with his nephew, the Duke of Berwick
('twas by an Englishman, thank God, that we were beaten at
Almanza), and that his Grace was most anxious to restore the royal
race of his benefactors, and to repair his former treason.

This is certain, that for a considerable period no officer in the
Duke's army lost favor with the Commander-in-Chief for entertaining
or proclaiming his loyalty towards the exiled family. When the
Chevalier de St. George, as the King of England called himself,
came with the dukes of the French blood royal, to join the French
army under Vendosme, hundreds of ours saw him and cheered him, and
we all said he was like his father in this, who, seeing the action
of La Hogue fought between the French ships and ours, was on the
side of his native country during the battle. But this, at least
the Chevalier knew, and every one knew, that, however well our
troops and their general might be inclined towards the prince
personally, in the face of the enemy there was no question at all.
Wherever my Lord Duke found a French army, he would fight and beat
it, as he did at Oudenarde, two years after Ramillies, where his
Grace achieved another of his transcendent victories; and the noble
young prince, who charged gallantly along with the magnificent
Maison-du-Roy, sent to compliment his conquerors after the action.

In this battle, where the young Electoral Prince of Hanover behaved
himself very gallantly, fighting on our side, Esmond's dear General
Webb distinguished himself prodigiously, exhibiting consummate
skill and coolness as a general, and fighting with the personal
bravery of a common soldier. Esmond's good-luck again attended
him; he escaped without a hurt, although more than a third of his
regiment was killed, had again the honor to be favorably mentioned
in his commander's report, and was advanced to the rank of major.
But of this action there is little need to speak, as it hath been
related in every Gazette, and talked of in every hamlet in this
country. To return from it to the writer's private affairs, which
here, in his old age, and at a distance, he narrates for his
children who come after him. Before Oudenarde, after that chance
rencontre with Captain von Holtz at Brussels, a space of more than
a year elapsed, during which the captain of Jesuits and the captain
of Webb's Fusileers were thrown very much together. Esmond had no
difficulty in finding out (indeed, the other made no secret of it
to him, being assured from old times of his pupil's fidelity), that
the negotiator of prisoners was an agent from St. Germains, and
that he carried intelligence between great personages in our camp
and that of the French. "My business," said he--"and I tell you,
both because I can trust you and your keen eyes have already
discovered it--is between the King of England and his subjects here
engaged in fighting the French king. As between you and them, all
the Jesuits in the world will not prevent your quarrelling: fight
it out, gentlemen. St. George for England, I say--and you know who
says so, wherever he may be."

I think Holt loved to make a parade of mystery, as it were, and
would appear and disappear at our quarters as suddenly as he used
to return and vanish in the old days at Castlewood. He had passes
between both armies, and seemed to know (but with that inaccuracy
which belonged to the good Father's omniscience) equally well what
passed in the French camp and in ours. One day he would give
Esmond news of a great feste that took place in the French
quarters, of a supper of Monsieur de Rohan's, where there was play
and violins, and then dancing and masques; the King drove thither
in Marshal Villars' own guinguette. Another day he had the news of
his Majesty's ague: the King had not had a fit these ten days, and
might be said to be well. Captain Holtz made a visit to England
during this time, so eager was he about negotiating prisoners; and
'twas on returning from this voyage that he began to open himself
more to Esmond, and to make him, as occasion served, at their
various meetings, several of those confidences which are here set
down all together.

The reason of his increased confidence was this: upon going to
London, the old director of Esmond's aunt, the dowager, paid her
ladyship a visit at Chelsey, and there learnt from her that Captain
Esmond was acquainted with the secret of his family, and was
determined never to divulge it. The knowledge of this fact raised
Esmond in his old tutor's eyes, so Holt was pleased to say, and he
admired Harry very much for his abnegation.

"The family at Castlewood have done far more for me than my own
ever did," Esmond said. "I would give my life for them. Why
should I grudge the only benefit that 'tis in my power to confer on
them?" The good Father's eyes filled with tears at this speech,
which to the other seemed very simple: he embraced Esmond, and
broke out into many admiring expressions; he said he was a noble
coeur, that he was proud of him, and fond of him as his pupil and
friend--regretted more than ever that he had lost him, and been
forced to leave him in those early times, when he might have had an
influence over him, have brought him into that only true church to
which the Father belonged, and enlisted him in the noblest army in
which a man ever engaged--meaning his own society of Jesus, which
numbers (says he) in its troops the greatest heroes the world ever
knew;--warriors brave enough to dare or endure anything, to
encounter any odds, to die any death--soldiers that have won
triumphs a thousand times more brilliant than those of the greatest
general; that have brought nations on their knees to their sacred
banner, the Cross; that have achieved glories and palms
incomparably brighter than those awarded to the most splendid
earthly conquerors--crowns of immortal light, and seats in the high
places of heaven.

Esmond was thankful for his old friend's good opinion, however
little he might share the Jesuit-father's enthusiasm. "I have
thought of that question, too," says he, "dear Father," and he took
the other's hand--"thought it out for myself, as all men must, and
contrive to do the right, and trust to heaven as devoutly in my way
as you in yours. Another six months of you as a child, and I had
desired no better. I used to weep upon my pillow at Castlewood as
I thought of you, and I might have been a brother of your order;
and who knows," Esmond added, with a smile, "a priest in full
orders, and with a pair of mustachios, and a Bavarian uniform?"

"My son," says Father Holt, turning red, "in the cause of religion
and loyalty all disguises are fair."

"Yes," broke in Esmond, "all disguises are fair, you say; and all
uniforms, say I, black or red,--a black cockade or a white one--or
a laced hat, or a sombrero, with a tonsure under it. I cannot
believe that St. Francis Xavier sailed over the sea in a cloak, or
raised the dead--I tried, and very nearly did once, but cannot.
Suffer me to do the right, and to hope for the best in my own way."

Esmond wished to cut short the good Father's theology, and
succeeded; and the other, sighing over his pupil's invincible
ignorance, did not withdraw his affection from him, but gave him
his utmost confidence--as much, that is to say, as a priest can
give: more than most do; for he was naturally garrulous, and too
eager to speak.

Holt's friendship encouraged Captain Esmond to ask, what he long
wished to know, and none could tell him, some history of the poor
mother whom he had often imagined in his dreams, and whom he never
knew. He described to Holt those circumstances which are already
put down in the first part of this story--the promise he had made
to his dear lord, and that dying friend's confession; and he
besought Mr. Holt to tell him what he knew regarding the poor woman
from whom he had been taken.

"She was of this very town," Holt said, and took Esmond to see the
street where her father lived, and where, as he believed, she was
born. "In 1676, when your father came hither in the retinue of the
late king, then Duke of York, and banished hither in disgrace,
Captain Thomas Esmond became acquainted with your mother, pursued
her, and made a victim of her; he hath told me in many subsequent
conversations, which I felt bound to keep private then, that she
was a woman of great virtue and tenderness, and in all respects a
most fond, faithful creature. He called himself Captain Thomas,
having good reason to be ashamed of his conduct towards her, and
hath spoken to me many times with sincere remorse for that, as with
fond love for her many amiable qualities, he owned to having
treated her very ill: and that at this time his life was one of
profligacy, gambling, and poverty. She became with child of you;
was cursed by her own parents at that discovery; though she never
upbraided, except by her involuntary tears, and the misery depicted
on her countenance, the author of her wretchedness and ruin.

"Thomas Esmond--Captain Thomas, as he was called--became engaged in
a gaming-house brawl, of which the consequence was a duel, and a
wound so severe that he never--his surgeon said--could outlive it.
Thinking his death certain, and touched with remorse, he sent for a
priest of the very Church of St. Gudule where I met you; and on the
same day, after his making submission to our Church, was married to
your mother a few weeks before you were born. My Lord Viscount
Castlewood, Marquis of Esmond, by King James's patent, which I
myself took to your father, your lordship was christened at St.
Gudule by the same cure who married your parents, and by the name
of Henry Thomas, son of E. Thomas, officier Anglois, and Gertrude
Maes. You see you belong to us from your birth, and why I did not
christen you when you became my dear little pupil at Castlewood.

"Your father's wound took a favorable turn--perhaps his conscience
was eased by the right he had done--and to the surprise of the
doctors he recovered. But as his health came back, his wicked
nature, too, returned. He was tired of the poor girl, whom he had
ruined; and receiving some remittance from his uncle, my lord the
old viscount, then in England, he pretended business, promised
return, and never saw your poor mother more.

"He owned to me, in confession first, but afterwards in talk before
your aunt, his wife, else I never could have disclosed what I now
tell you, that on coming to London he writ a pretended confession
to poor Gertrude Maes--Gertrude Esmond--of his having been married
in England previously, before uniting himself with her; said that
his name was not Thomas; that he was about to quit Europe for the
Virginian plantations, where, indeed, your family had a grant of
land from King Charles the First; sent her a supply of money, the
half of the last hundred guineas he had, entreated her pardon, and
bade her farewell.

"Poor Gertrude never thought that the news in this letter might be
untrue as the rest of your father's conduct to her. But though a
young man of her own degree, who knew her history, and whom she
liked before she saw the English gentleman who was the cause of all
her misery, offered to marry her, and to adopt you as his own
child, and give you his name, she refused him. This refusal only
angered her father, who had taken her home; she never held up her
head there, being the subject of constant unkindness after her
fall; and some devout ladies of her acquaintance offering to pay a
little pension for her, she went into a convent, and you were put
out to nurse.

"A sister of the young fellow who would have adopted you as his son
was the person who took charge of you. Your mother and this person
were cousins. She had just lost a child of her own, which you
replaced, your own mother being too sick and feeble to feed you;
and presently your nurse grew so fond of you, that she even grudged
letting you visit the convent where your mother was, and where the
nuns petted the little infant, as they pitied and loved its unhappy
parent. Her vocation became stronger every day, and at the end of
two years she was received as a sister of the house.

"Your nurse's family were silk-weavers out of France, whither they
returned to Arras in French Flanders, shortly before your mother
took her vows, carrying you with them, then a child of three years
old. 'Twas a town, before the late vigorous measures of the French
king, full of Protestants, and here your nurse's father, old
Pastoureau, he with whom you afterwards lived at Ealing, adopted
the reformed doctrines, perverting all his house with him. They
were expelled thence by the edict of his most Christian Majesty,
and came to London, and set up their looms in Spittlefields. The
old man brought a little money with him, and carried on his trade,
but in a poor way. He was a widower; by this time his daughter, a
widow too, kept house for him, and his son and he labored together
at their vocation. Meanwhile your father had publicly owned his
conversion just before King Charles's death (in whom our Church had
much such another convert), was reconciled to my Lord Viscount
Castlewood, and married, as you know, to his daughter.

"It chanced that the younger Pastoureau, going with a piece of
brocade to the mercer who employed him, on Ludgate Hill, met his
old rival coming out of an ordinary there. Pastoureau knew your
father at once, seized him by the collar, and upbraided him as a
villain, who had seduced his mistress, and afterwards deserted her
and her son. Mr. Thomas Esmond also recognized Pastoureau at once,
besought him to calm his indignation, and not to bring a crowd
round about them; and bade him to enter into the tavern, out of
which he had just stepped, when he would give him any explanation.
Pastoureau entered, and heard the landlord order the drawer to show
Captain Thomas to a room; it was by his Christian name that your
father was familiarly called at his tavern haunts, which, to say
the truth, were none of the most reputable.

"I must tell you that Captain Thomas, or my Lord Viscount
afterwards, was never at a loss for a story, and could cajole a
woman or a dun with a volubility, and an air of simplicity at the
same time, of which many a creditor of his has been the dupe. His
tales used to gather verisimilitude as he went on with them. He
strung together fact after fact with a wonderful rapidity and
coherence. It required, saving your presence, a very long habit of
acquaintance with your father to know when his lordship was l----,--
telling the truth or no.

"He told me with rueful remorse when he was ill--for the fear of
death set him instantly repenting, and with shrieks of laughter
when he was well, his lordship having a very great sense of humor--
how in a half an hour's time, and before a bottle was drunk, he had
completely succeeded in biting poor Pastoureau. The seduction he
owned to: that he could not help: he was quite ready with tears at
a moment's warning, and shed them profusely to melt his credulous
listener. He wept for your mother even more than Pastoureau did,
who cried very heartily, poor fellow, as my lord informed me; he
swore upon his honor that he had twice sent money to Brussels, and
mentioned the name of the merchant with whom it was lying for poor
Gertrude's use. He did not even know whether she had a child or
no, or whether she was alive or dead; but got these facts easily
out of honest Pastoureau's answers to him. When he heard that she
was in a convent, he said he hoped to end his days in one himself,
should he survive his wife, whom he hated, and had been forced by a
cruel father to marry; and when he was told that Gertrude's son was
alive, and actually in London, 'I started,' says he; 'for then,
damme, my wife was expecting to lie in, and I thought should this
old Put, my father-in-law, run rusty, here would be a good chance
to frighten him.'

"He expressed the deepest gratitude to the Pastoureau family for
the care of the infant: you were now near six years old; and on
Pastoureau bluntly telling him, when he proposed to go that instant
and see the darling child, that they never wished to see his ill-
omened face again within their doors; that he might have the boy,
though they should all be very sorry to lose him; and that they
would take his money, they being poor, if he gave it; or bring him
up, by God's help, as they had hitherto done, without: he
acquiesced in this at once, with a sigh, said, 'Well, 'twas better
that the dear child should remain with friends who had been so
admirably kind to him;' and in his talk to me afterwards, honestly
praised and admired the weaver's conduct and spirit; owned that the
Frenchman was a right fellow, and he, the Lord have mercy upon him,
a sad villain.

"Your father," Mr. Holt went on to say, "was good-natured with his
money when he had it; and having that day received a supply from
his uncle, gave the weaver ten pieces with perfect freedom, and
promised him further remittances. He took down eagerly
Pastoureau's name and place of abode in his table-book, and when
the other asked him for his own, gave, with the utmost readiness,
his name as Captain Thomas, New Lodge, Penzance, Cornwall; he said
he was in London for a few days only on business connected with his
wife's property; described her as a shrew, though a woman of kind
disposition; and depicted his father as a Cornish squire, in an
infirm state of health, at whose death he hoped for something
handsome, when he promised richly to reward the admirable protector
of his child, and to provide for the boy. 'And by Gad, sir,' he
said to me in his strange laughing way, 'I ordered a piece of
brocade of the very same pattern as that which the fellow was
carrying, and presented it to my wife for a morning wrapper, to
receive company after she lay in of our little boy.'

"Your little pension was paid regularly enough; and when your
father became Viscount Castlewood on his uncle's demise, I was
employed to keep a watch over you, and 'twas at my instance that
you were brought home. Your foster-mother was dead; her father
made acquaintance with a woman whom he married, who quarrelled with
his son. The faithful creature came back to Brussels to be near
the woman he loved, and died, too, a few months before her. Will
you see her cross in the convent cemetery? The Superior is an old
penitent of mine, and remembers Soeur Marie Madeleine fondly

Esmond came to this spot in one sunny evening of spring, and saw,
amidst a thousand black crosses, casting their shadows across the
grassy mounds, that particular one which marked his mother's
resting-place. Many more of those poor creatures that lay there
had adopted that same name, with which sorrow had rebaptized her,
and which fondly seemed to hint their individual story of love and
grief. He fancied her in tears and darkness, kneeling at the foot
of her cross, under which her cares were buried. Surely he knelt
down, and said his own prayer there, not in sorrow so much as in
awe (for even his memory had no recollection of her), and in pity
for the pangs which the gentle soul in life had been made to
suffer. To this cross she brought them; for this heavenly
bridegroom she exchanged the husband who had wooed her, the traitor
who had left her. A thousand such hillocks lay round about, the
gentle daisies springing out of the grass over them, and each
bearing its cross and requiescat. A nun, veiled in black, was
kneeling hard by, at a sleeping sister's bedside (so fresh made,
that the spring had scarce had time to spin a coverlid for it);
beyond the cemetery walls you had glimpses of life and the world,
and the spires and gables of the city. A bird came down from a
roof opposite, and lit first on a cross, and then on the grass
below it, whence it flew away presently with a leaf in its mouth:
then came a sound as of chanting, from the chapel of the sisters
hard by; others had long since filled the place which poor Mary
Magdeleine once had there, were kneeling at the same stall, and
hearing the same hymns and prayers in which her stricken heart had
found consolation. Might she sleep in peace--might she sleep in
peace; and we, too, when our struggles and pains are over! But the
earth is the Lord's as the heaven is; we are alike his creatures
here and yonder. I took a little flower off the hillock and kissed
it, and went my way, like the bird that had just lighted on the
cross by me, back into the world again. Silent receptacle of
death; tranquil depth of calm, out of reach of tempest and trouble!
I felt as one who had been walking below the sea, and treading
amidst the bones of shipwrecks.


THE CAMPAIGN OF 1707, 1708.

During the whole of the year which succeeded that in which the
glorious battle of Ramillies had been fought, our army made no
movement of importance, much to the disgust of very many of our
officers remaining inactive in Flanders, who said that his Grace
the Captain-General had had fighting enough, and was all for money
now, and the enjoyment of his five thousand a year and his splendid
palace at Woodstock, which was now being built. And his Grace had
sufficient occupation fighting his enemies at home this year, where
it began to be whispered that his favor was decreasing, and his
duchess losing her hold on the Queen, who was transferring her
royal affections to the famous Mrs. Masham, and Mrs. Masham's
humble servant, Mr. Harley. Against their intrigues, our Duke
passed a great part of his time intriguing. Mr. Harley was got out
of office, and his Grace, in so far, had a victory. But her
Majesty, convinced against her will, was of that opinion still, of
which the poet says people are when so convinced, and Mr. Harley
before long had his revenge.

Meanwhile the business of fighting did not go on any way to the
satisfaction of Marlborough's gallant lieutenants. During all
1707, with the French before us, we had never so much as a battle;
our army in Spain was utterly routed at Almanza by the gallant Duke
of Berwick; and we of Webb's, which regiment the young Duke had
commanded before his father's abdication, were a little proud to
think that it was our colonel who had achieved this victory. "I
think if I had had Galway's place, and my Fusileers," says our
General, "we would not have laid down our arms, even to our old
colonel, as Galway did;" and Webb's officers swore if we had had
Webb, at least we would not have been taken prisoners. Our dear
old general talked incautiously of himself and of others; a braver
or a more brilliant soldier never lived than he; but he blew his
honest trumpet rather more loudly than became a commander of his
station, and, mighty man of valor as he was, shook his great spear
and blustered before the army too fiercely.

Mysterious Mr. Holtz went off on a secret expedition in the early
part of 1708, with great elation of spirits and a prophecy to
Esmond that a wonderful something was about to take place. This
secret came out on my friend's return to the army, whither he
brought a most rueful and dejected countenance, and owned that the
great something he had been engaged upon had failed utterly. He
had been indeed with that luckless expedition of the Chevalier de
St. George, who was sent by the French king with ships and an army
from Dunkirk, and was to have invaded and conquered Scotland. But
that ill wind which ever opposed all the projects upon which the
Prince ever embarked, prevented the Chevalier's invasion of
Scotland, as 'tis known, and blew poor Monsieur von Holtz back into
our camp again, to scheme and foretell, and to pry about as usual.
The Chevalier (the king of England, as some of us held him) went
from Dunkirk to the French army to make the campaign against us.
The Duke of Burgundy had the command this year, having the Duke of
Berry with him, and the famous Mareschal Vendosme and the Duke of
Matignon to aid him in the campaign. Holtz, who knew everything
that was passing in Flanders and France (and the Indies for what I
know), insisted that there would be no more fighting in 1708 than
there had been in the previous year, and that our commander had
reasons for keeping him quiet. Indeed, Esmond's general, who was
known as a grumbler, and to have a hearty mistrust of the great
Duke, and hundreds more officers besides, did not scruple to say
that these private reasons came to the Duke in the shape of crown-
pieces from the French King, by whom the Generalissimo was bribed
to avoid a battle. There were plenty of men in our lines,
quidnuncs, to whom Mr. Webb listened only too willingly, who could
specify the exact sums the Duke got, how much fell to Cadogan's
share, and what was the precise fee given to Doctor Hare.

And the successes with which the French began the campaign of 1708
served to give strength to these reports of treason, which were in
everybody's mouth. Our general allowed the enemy to get between us
and Ghent, and declined to attack him, though for eight and forty
hours the armies were in presence of each other. Ghent was taken,
and on the same day Monsieur de la Mothe summoned Bruges; and these
two great cities fell into the hands of the French without firing a
shot. A few days afterwards La Mothe seized upon the fort of
Plashendall: and it began to be supposed that all Spanish Flanders,
as well as Brabant, would fall into the hands of the French troops;
when the Prince Eugene arrived from the Mozelle, and then there was
no more shilly-shallying.

The Prince of Savoy always signalized his arrival at the army by a
great feast (my Lord Duke's entertainments were both seldom and
shabby): and I remember our general returning from this dinner with
the two commanders-in-chief; his honest head a little excited by
wine, which was dealt out much more liberally by the Austrian than
by the English commander:--"Now," says my general, slapping the
table, with an oath, "he must fight; and when he is forced to it,
d--- it, no man in Europe can stand up against Jack Churchill."
Within a week the battle of Oudenarde was fought, when, hate each
other as they might, Esmond's general and the Commander-in-Chief
were forced to admire each other, so splendid was the gallantry of
each upon this day.

The brigade commanded by Major-General Webb gave and received about
as hard knocks as any that were delivered in that action, in which
Mr. Esmond had the fortune to serve at the head of his own company
in his regiment, under the command of their own Colonel as Major-
General; and it was his good luck to bring the regiment out of
action as commander of it, the four senior officers above him being
killed in the prodigious slaughter which happened on that day. I
like to think that Jack Haythorn, who sneered at me for being a
bastard and a parasite of Webb's, as he chose to call me, and with
whom I had had words, shook hands with me the day before the battle
began. Three days before, poor Brace, our Lieutenant-Colonel, had
heard of his elder brother's death, and was heir to a baronetcy in
Norfolk, and four thousand a year. Fate, that had left him
harmless through a dozen campaigns, seized on him just as the world
was worth living for, and he went into action knowing, as he said,
that the luck was going to turn against him. The Major had just
joined us--a creature of Lord Marlborough, put in much to the
dislike of the other officers, and to be a spy upon us, as it was
said. I know not whether the truth was so, nor who took the tattle
of our mess to headquarters, but Webb's regiment, as its Colonel,
was known to be in the Commander-in-Chief's black books: "And if he
did not dare to break it up at home," our gallant old chief used to
say, "he was determined to destroy it before the enemy;" so that
poor Major Proudfoot was put into a post of danger.

Esmond's dear young Viscount, serving as aide-de-camp to my Lord
Duke, received a wound, and won an honorable name for himself in
the Gazette; and Captain Esmond's name was sent in for promotion by
his General, too, whose favorite he was. It made his heart beat to
think that certain eyes at home, the brightest in the world, might
read the page on which his humble services were recorded; but his
mind was made up steadily to keep out of their dangerous influence,
and to let time and absence conquer that passion he had still
lurking about him. Away from Beatrix, it did not trouble him; but
he knew as certain that if he returned home, his fever would break
out again, and avoided Walcote as a Lincolnshire man avoids
returning to his fens, where he is sure that the ague is lying in
wait for him.

We of the English party in the army, who were inclined to sneer at
everything that came out of Hanover, and to treat as little better
than boors and savages the Elector's court and family, were yet
forced to confess that, on the day of Oudenarde, the young
Electoral Prince, then making his first campaign, conducted himself
with the spirit and courage of an approved soldier. On this
occasion his Electoral Highness had better luck than the King of
England, who was with his cousins in the enemy's camp, and had to
run with them at the ignominious end of the day. With the most
consummate generals in the world before them, and an admirable
commander on their own side, they chose to neglect the councils,
and to rush into a combat with the former, which would have ended
in the utter annihilation of their army but for the great skill and
bravery of the Duke of Vendosme, who remedied, as far as courage
and genius might, the disasters occasioned by the squabbles and
follies of his kinsmen, the legitimate princes of the blood royal.

"If the Duke of Berwick had but been in the army, the fate of the
day would have been very different," was all that poor Mr. von
Holtz could say; "and you would have seen that the hero of Almanza
was fit to measure swords with the conqueror of Blenheim."

The business relative to the exchange of prisoners was always going
on, and was at least that ostensible one which kept Mr. Holtz
perpetually on the move between the forces of the French and the
Allies. I can answer for it, that he was once very near hanged as
a spy by Major-General Wayne, when he was released and sent on to
head-quarters by a special order of the Commander-in-Chief. He
came and went, always favored, wherever he was, by some high though
occult protection. He carried messages between the Duke of Berwick
and his uncle, our Duke. He seemed to know as well what was taking
place in the Prince's quarter as our own: he brought the
compliments of the King of England to some of our officers, the
gentlemen of Webb's among the rest, for their behavior on that
great day; and after Wynendael, when our General was chafing at the
neglect of our Commander-in-Chief, he said he knew how that action
was regarded by the chiefs of the French army, and that the stand
made before Wynendael wood was the passage by which the Allies
entered Lille.

"Ah!" says Holtz (and some folks were very willing to listen to
him), "if the king came by his own, how changed the conduct of
affairs would be! His Majesty's very exile has this advantage,
that he is enabled to read England impartially, and to judge
honestly of all the eminent men. His sister is always in the hand
of one greedy favorite or another, through whose eyes she sees, and
to whose flattery or dependants she gives away everything. Do you
suppose that his Majesty, knowing England so well as he does, would
neglect such a man as General Webb? He ought to be in the House of
Peers as Lord Lydiard. The enemy and all Europe know his merit; it
is that very reputation which certain great people, who hate all
equality and independence, can never pardon." It was intended that
these conversations should be carried to Mr. Webb. They were
welcome to him, for great as his services were, no man could value
them more than John Richmond Webb did himself, and the differences
between him and Marlborough being notorious, his Grace's enemies in
the army and at home began to court Webb, and set him up against
the all-grasping, domineering chief. And soon after the victory of
Oudenarde, a glorious opportunity fell into General Webb's way,
which that gallant warrior did not neglect, and which gave him the
means of immensely increasing his reputation at home.

After Oudenarde, and against the counsels of Marlborough, it was
said, the Prince of Savoy sat down before Lille, the capital of
French Flanders, and commenced that siege, the most celebrated of
our time, and almost as famous as the siege of Troy itself, for the
feats of valor performed in the assault and the defence. The
enmity of the Prince of Savoy against the French king was a furious
personal hate, quite unlike the calm hostility of our great English
general, who was no more moved by the game of war than that of
billiards, and pushed forward his squadrons, and drove his red
battalions hither and thither as calmly as he would combine a
stroke or make a cannon with the balls. The game over (and he
played it so as to be pretty sure to win it), not the least
animosity against the other party remained in the breast of this
consummate tactician. Whereas between the Prince of Savoy and the
French it was guerre a mort. Beaten off in one quarter, as he had
been at Toulon in the last year, he was back again on another
frontier of France, assailing it with his indefatigable fury. When
the Prince came to the army, the smouldering fires of war were
lighted up and burst out into a flame. Our phlegmatic Dutch allies
were made to advance at a quick march--our calm Duke forced into
action. The Prince was an army in himself against the French; the
energy of his hatred, prodigious, indefatigable--infectious over
hundreds of thousands of men. The Emperor's general was repaying,
and with a vengeance, the slight the French King had put upon the
fiery little Abbe of Savoy. Brilliant and famous as a leader
himself, and beyond all measure daring and intrepid, and enabled to
cope with almost the best of those famous men of war who commanded
the armies of the French King, Eugene had a weapon, the equal of
which could not be found in France, since the cannon-shot of
Sasbach laid low the noble Turenne, and could hurl Marlborough at
the heads of the French host, and crush them as with a rock, under
which all the gathered strength of their strongest captains must go

The English Duke took little part in that vast siege of Lille,
which the Imperial Generalissimo pursued with all his force and
vigor, further than to cover the besieging lines from the Duke of
Burgundy's army, between which and the Imperialists our Duke lay.
Once, when Prince Eugene was wounded, our Duke took his Highness's
place in the trenches; but the siege was with the Imperialists, not
with us. A division under Webb and Rantzau was detached into
Artois and Picardy upon the most painful and odious service that
Mr. Esmond ever saw in the course of his military life. The
wretched towns of the defenceless provinces, whose young men had
been drafted away into the French armies, which year after year the
insatiable war devoured, were left at our mercy; and our orders
were to show them none. We found places garrisoned by invalids,
and children and women; poor as they were, and as the costs of this
miserable war had made them, our commission was to rob these almost
starving wretches--to tear the food out of their granaries, and
strip them of their rags. 'Twas an expedition of rapine and murder
we were sent on: our soldiers did deeds such as an honest man must
blush to remember. We brought back money and provisions in
quantity to the Duke's camp; there had been no one to resist us,
and yet who dares to tell with what murder and violence, with what
brutal cruelty, outrage, insult, that ignoble booty had been
ravished from the innocent and miserable victims of the war?

Meanwhile, gallantly as the operations before Lille had been
conducted, the Allies had made but little progress, and 'twas said
when we returned to the Duke of Marlborough's camp, that the siege
would never be brought to a satisfactory end, and that the Prince
of Savoy would be forced to raise it. My Lord Marlborough gave
this as his opinion openly; those who mistrusted him, and Mr.
Esmond owns himself to be of the number, hinted that the Duke had
his reasons why Lille should not be taken, and that he was paid to
that end by the French King. If this was so, and I believe it,
General Webb had now a remarkable opportunity of gratifying his
hatred of the Commander-in-Chief, of balking that shameful avarice,
which was one of the basest and most notorious qualities of the
famous Duke, and of showing his own consummate skill as a
commander. And when I consider all the circumstances preceding the
event which will now be related, that my Lord Duke was actually
offered certain millions of crowns provided that the siege of Lille
should be raised: that the Imperial army before it was without
provisions and ammunition, and must have decamped but for the
supplies that they received; that the march of the convoy destined
to relieve the siege was accurately known to the French; and that
the force covering it was shamefully inadequate to that end, and by
six times inferior to Count de la Mothe's army, which was sent to
intercept the convoy; when 'tis certain that the Duke of Berwick,
De la Mothe's chief, was in constant correspondence with his uncle,
the English Generalissimo: I believe on my conscience that 'twas my
Lord Marlborough's intention to prevent those supplies, of which
the Prince of Savoy stood in absolute need, from ever reaching his
Highness; that he meant to sacrifice the little army which covered
this convoy, and to betray it as he had betrayed Tollemache at
Brest; as he had betrayed every friend he had, to further his own
schemes of avarice or ambition. But for the miraculous victory
which Esmond's general won over an army six or seven times greater
than his own, the siege of Lille must have been raised; and it must
be remembered that our gallant little force was under the command
of a general whom Marlborough hated, that he was furious with the
conqueror, and tried by the most open and shameless injustice
afterwards to rob him of the credit of his victory.



By the besiegers and besieged of Lille, some of the most brilliant
feats of valor were performed that ever illustrated any war. On
the French side (whose gallantry was prodigious, the skill and
bravery of Marshal Boufflers actually eclipsing those of his
conqueror, the Prince of Savoy) may be mentioned that daring action
of Messieurs de Luxembourg and Tournefort, who, with a body of
horse and dragoons, carried powder into the town, of which the
besieged were in extreme want, each soldier bringing a bag with
forty pounds of powder behind him; with which perilous provision
they engaged our own horse, faced the fire of the foot brought out
to meet them: and though half of the men were blown up in the
dreadful errand they rode on, a part of them got into the town with
the succors of which the garrison was so much in want. A French
officer, Monsieur du Bois, performed an act equally daring, and
perfectly successful. The Duke's great army lying at Helchin, and
covering the siege, and it being necessary for M. de Vendosme to
get news of the condition of the place, Captain Dubois performed
his famous exploit: not only passing through the lines of the
siege, but swimming afterwards no less than seven moats and
ditches: and coming back the same way, swimming with his letters in
his mouth.

By these letters Monsieur de Boufflers said that he could undertake
to hold the place till October; and that if one of the convoys of
the Allies could be intercepted, they must raise the siege

Such a convoy as hath been said was now prepared at Ostend, and
about to march for the siege; and on the 27th September we (and the
French too) had news that it was on its way. It was composed of
700 wagons, containing ammunition of all sorts, and was escorted
out of Ostend by 2,000 infantry and 300 horse. At the same time M.
de la Mothe quitted Bruges, having with him five-and-thirty
battalions, and upwards of sixty squadrons and forty guns, in
pursuit of the convoy.

Major-General Webb had meanwhile made up a force of twenty
battalions and three squadrons of dragoons at Turout, whence he
moved to cover the convoy and pursue La Mothe: with whose advanced
guard ours came up upon the great plain of Turout, and before the
little wood and castle of Wynendael; behind which the convoy was

As soon as they came in sight of the enemy, our advanced troops
were halted, with the wood behind them, and the rest of our force
brought up as quickly as possible, our little body of horse being
brought forward to the opening of the plain, as our General said,
to amuse the enemy. When M. de la Mothe came up, he found us
posted in two lines in front of the wood; and formed his own army
in battle facing ours, in eight lines, four of infantry in front,
and dragoons and cavalry behind.

The French began the action, as usual, with a cannonade which
lasted three hours, when they made their attack, advancing in eight
lines, four of foot and four of horse, upon the allied troops in
the wood where we were posted. Their infantry behaved ill; they
were ordered to charge with the bayonet, but, instead, began to
fire, and almost at the very first discharge from our men, broke
and fled. The cavalry behaved better; with these alone, who were
three or four times as numerous as our whole force, Monsieur de la
Mothe might have won victory: but only two of our battalions were
shaken in the least; and these speedily rallied: nor could the
repeated attacks of the French horse cause our troops to budge an
inch from the position in the wood in which our General had placed

After attacking for two hours, the French retired at nightfall
entirely foiled. With all the loss we had inflicted upon him, the
enemy was still three times stronger than we: and it could not be
supposed that our General could pursue M. de la Mothe, or do much
more than hold our ground about the wood, from which the Frenchman
had in vain attempted to dislodge us. La Mothe retired behind his
forty guns, his cavalry protecting them better than it had been
enabled to annoy us; and meanwhile the convoy, which was of more
importance than all our little force, and the safe passage of which
we would have dropped to the last man to accomplish, marched away
in perfect safety during the action, and joyfully reached the
besieging camp before Lille.

Major-General Cadogan, my Lord Duke's Quarter-Master-General, (and
between whom and Mr. Webb there was no love lost), accompanied the
convoy, and joined Mr. Webb with a couple of hundred horse just as
the battle was over, and the enemy in full retreat. He offered,
readily enough, to charge with his horse upon the French as they
fell back; but his force was too weak to inflict any damage upon
them; and Mr. Webb, commanding as Cadogan's senior, thought enough
was done in holding our ground before an enemy that might still
have overwhelmed us had we engaged him in the open territory, and
in securing the safe passage of the convoy. Accordingly, the horse
brought up by Cadogan did not draw a sword; and only prevented, by
the good countenance they showed, any disposition the French might
have had to renew the attack on us. And no attack coming, at
nightfall General Cadogan drew off with his squadron, being bound
for head-quarters, the two Generals at parting grimly saluting each

"He will be at Roncq time enough to lick my Lord Duke's trenchers
at supper," says Mr. Webb.

Our own men lay out in the woods of Wynendael that night, and our
General had his supper in the little castle there.

"If I was Cadogan, I would have a peerage for this day's work,"
General Webb said; "and, Harry, thou shouldst have a regiment.
Thou hast been reported in the last two actions: thou wert near
killed in the first. I shall mention thee in my despatch to his
Grace the Commander-in-Chief, and recommend thee to poor Dick
Harwood's vacant majority. Have you ever a hundred guineas to give
Cardonnel? Slip them into his hand to-morrow, when you go to head-
quarters with my report."

In this report the Major-General was good enough to mention Captain
Esmond's name with particular favor; and that gentleman carried the
despatch to head-quarters the next day, and was not a little
pleased to bring back a letter by his Grace's secretary, addressed
to Lieutenant-General Webb. The Dutch officer despatched by Count
Nassau Woudenbourg, Vaelt-Mareschal Auverquerque's son, brought
back also a complimentary letter to his commander, who had seconded
Mr. Webb in the action with great valor and skill.

Esmond, with a low bow and a smiling face, presented his despatch,
and saluted Mr. Webb as Lieutenant-General, as he gave it in. The
gentlemen round about him--he was riding with his suite on the road
to Menin as Esmond came up with him--gave a cheer, and he thanked
them, and opened the despatch with rather a flushed, eager face.

He slapped it down on his boot in a rage after he had read it.
"'Tis not even writ with his own hand. Read it out, Esmond." And
Esmond read it out:--

"SIR,--Mr. Cadogan is just now come in, and has acquainted me with
the success of the action you had yesterday in the afternoon
against the body of troops commanded by M. de la Mothe, at
Wynendael, which must be attributed chiefly to your good conduct
and resolution. You may be sure I shall do you justice at home,
and be glad on all occasions to own the service you have done in
securing this convoy.--Yours, &c., M."

"Two lines by that d--d Cardonnel, and no more, for the taking of
Lille--for beating five times our number--for an action as
brilliant as the best he ever fought," says poor Mr. Webb.
"Lieutenant-General! That's not his doing. I was the oldest
major-general. By ----, I believe he had been better pleased if I
had been beat."

The letter to the Dutch officer was in French, and longer and more
complimentary than that to Mr. Webb.

"And this is the man," he broke out, "that's gorged with gold--
that's covered with titles and honors that we won for him--and that
grudges even a line of praise to a comrade in arms! Hasn't he
enough? Don't we fight that he may roll in riches? Well, well,
wait for the Gazette, gentlemen. The Queen and the country will do
us justice if his Grace denies it us." There were tears of rage in
the brave warrior's eyes as he spoke; and he dashed them off his
face on to his glove. He shook his fist in the air. "Oh, by the
Lord!" says he, "I know what I had rather have than a peerage!"

"And what is that, sir?" some of them asked.

"I had rather have a quarter of an hour with John Churchill, on a
fair green field, and only a pair of rapiers between my shirt and

"Sir!" interposes one.

"Tell him so! I know that's what you mean. I know every word goes
to him that's dropped from every general officer's mouth. I don't
say he's not brave. Curse him! he's brave enough; but we'll wait
for the Gazette, gentlemen. God save her Majesty! she'll do us

The Gazette did not come to us till a month afterwards; when my
General and his officers had the honor to dine with Prince Eugene
in Lille; his Highness being good enough to say that we had brought
the provisions, and ought to share in the banquet. 'Twas a great
banquet. His Grace of Marlborough was on his Highness's right, and
on his left the Mareschal de Boufflers, who had so bravely defended
the place. The chief officers of either army were present; and you
may be sure Esmond's General was splendid this day: his tall noble
person, and manly beauty of face, made him remarkable anywhere; he
wore, for the first time, the star of the Order of Generosity, that
his Prussian Majesty had sent to him for his victory. His Highness
the Prince of Savoy called a toast to the conqueror of Wynendael.
My Lord Duke drank it with rather a sickly smile. The aides-de-
camp were present: and Harry Esmond and his dear young lord were
together, as they always strove to be when duty would permit: they
were over against the table where the generals were, and could see
all that passed pretty well. Frank laughed at my Lord Duke's glum
face: the affair of Wynendael, and the Captain-General's conduct to
Webb, had been the talk of the whole army. When his Highness
spoke, and gave--"Le vainqueur de Wynendael; son armee et sa
victoire," adding, "qui nous font diner a Lille aujourd'huy"--there
was a great cheer through the hall; for Mr. Webb's bravery,
generosity, and very weaknesses of character caused him to be
beloved in the army.

"Like Hector, handsome, and like Paris, brave!" whispers Frank
Castlewood. "A Venus, an elderly Venus, couldn't refuse him a
pippin. Stand up, Harry. See, we are drinking the army of
Wynendael. Ramillies is nothing to it. Huzzay! huzzay!"

At this very time, and just after our General had made his
acknowledgment, some one brought in an English Gazette--and was
passing it from hand to hand down the table. Officers were eager
enough to read it; mothers and sisters at home must have sickened
over it. There scarce came out a Gazette for six years that did
not tell of some heroic death or some brilliant achievement.

"Here it is--Action of Wynendael--here you are, General," says
Frank, seizing hold of the little dingy paper that soldiers love to
read so; and, scrambling over from our bench, he went to where the
General sat, who knew him, and had seen many a time at his table
his laughing, handsome face, which everybody loved who saw. The
generals in their great perukes made way for him. He handed the
paper over General Dohna's buff-coat to our General on the opposite

He came hobbling back, and blushing at his feat: "I thought he'd
like it, Harry," the young fellow whispered. "Didn't I like to
read my name after Ramillies, in the London Gazette?--Viscount
Castlewood serving a volunteer--I say, what's yonder?"

Mr. Webb, reading the Gazette, looked very strange--slapped it down
on the table--then sprang up in his place, and began to--"Will your
Highness please to--"

His Grace the Duke of Marlborough here jumped up too--"There's some
mistake, my dear General Webb."

"Your Grace had better rectify it," says Mr. Webb, holding out the
letter; but he was five off his Grace the Prince Duke, who,
besides, was higher than the General (being seated with the Prince
of Savoy, the Electoral Prince of Hanover, and the envoys of
Prussia and Denmark, under a baldaquin), and Webb could not reach
him, tall as he was.

"Stay," says he, with a smile, as if catching at some idea, and
then, with a perfect courtesy, drawing his sword, he ran the
Gazette through with the point, and said, "Permit me to hand it to
your Grace."

The Duke looked very black. "Take it," says he, to his Master of
the Horse, who was waiting behind him.

The Lieutenant-General made a very low bow, and retired and
finished his glass. The Gazette in which Mr. Cardonnel, the Duke's
secretary, gave an account of the victory of Wynendael, mentioned
Mr. Webb's name, but gave the sole praise and conduct of the action
to the Duke's favorite, Mr. Cadogan.

There was no little talk and excitement occasioned by this strange
behavior of General Webb, who had almost drawn a sword upon the
Commander-in-Chief; but the General, after the first outbreak of
his anger, mastered it outwardly altogether; and, by his subsequent
behavior, had the satisfaction of even more angering the Commander-
in-Chief, than he could have done by any public exhibition of

On returning to his quarters, and consulting with his chief
adviser, Mr. Esmond, who was now entirely in the General's
confidence, and treated by him as a friend, and almost a son, Mr.
Webb writ a letter to his Grace the Commander-in-Chief, in which he

"Your Grace must be aware that the sudden perusal of the London
Gazette, in which your Grace's secretary, Mr. Cardonnel, hath
mentioned Major-General Cadogan's name as the officer commanding in
the late action of Wynendael, must have caused a feeling of
anything but pleasure to the General who fought that action.

"Your Grace must be aware that Mr. Cadogan was not even present at
the battle, though he arrived with squadrons of horse at its close,
and put himself under the command of his superior officer. And as
the result of the battle of Wynendael, in which Lieutenant-General
Webb had the good fortune to command, was the capture of Lille, the
relief of Brussels, then invested by the enemy under the Elector of
Bavaria, the restoration of the great cities of Ghent and Bruges,
of which the enemy (by treason within the walls) had got possession
in the previous year, Mr. Webb cannot consent to forego the honors
of such a success and service, for the benefit of Mr. Cadogan, or
any other person.

"As soon as the military operations of the year are over,
Lieutenant-General Webb will request permission to leave the army,
and return to his place in Parliament, where he gives notice to his
Grace the Commander-in Chief, that he shall lay his case before the
House of Commons, the country, and her Majesty the Queen.

"By his eagerness to rectify that false statement of the Gazette,
which had been written by his Grace's secretary, Mr. Cardonnel, Mr.
Webb, not being able to reach his Grace the Commander-in-Chief on
account of the gentlemen seated between them, placed the paper
containing the false statement on his sword, so that it might more

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