Part 7 out of 10
readily arrive in the hands of his Grace the Duke of Marlborough,
who surely would wish to do justice to every officer of his army.
"Mr. Webb knows his duty too well to think of insubordination to
his superior officer, or of using his sword in a campaign against
any but the enemies of her Majesty. He solicits permission to
return to England immediately the military duties will permit, and
take with him to England Captain Esmond, of his regiment, who acted
as his aide-de-camp, and was present during the entire action, and
noted by his watch the time when Mr. Cadogan arrived at its close."
The Commander-in-Chief could not but grant this permission, nor
could he take notice of Webb's letter, though it was couched in
terms the most insulting. Half the army believed that the cities
of Ghent and Bruges were given up by a treason, which some in our
army very well understood; that the Commander-in-Chief would not
have relieved Lille if he could have helped himself; that he would
not have fought that year had not the Prince of Savoy forced him.
When the battle once began, then, for his own renown, my Lord
Marlborough would fight as no man in the world ever fought better;
and no bribe on earth could keep him from beating the enemy.*
* Our Grandfather's hatred of the Duke of Marlborough appears all
through his account of these campaigns. He always persisted that
the Duke was the greatest traitor and soldier history ever told of:
and declared that he took bribes on all hands during the war. My
Lord Marquis (for so we may call him here, though he never went by
any other name than Colonel Esmond) was in the habit of telling
many stories which he did not set down in his memoirs, and which he
had from his friend the Jesuit, who was not always correctly
informed, and who persisted that Marlborough was looking for a
bribe of two millions of crowns before the campaign of Ramillies.
And our Grandmother used to tell us children, that on his first
presentation to my Lord duke, the Duke turned his back upon my
Grandfather; and said to the Duchess, who told my lady dowager at
Chelsey, who afterwards told Colonel Esmond--"Tom Esmond's bastard
has been to my levee: he has the hang-dog look of his rogue of a
father"--an expression which my Grandfather never forgave. He was
as constant in his dislikes as in his attachments; and exceedingly
partial to Webb, whose side he took against the more celebrated
general. We have General Webb's portrait now at Castlewood, Va.
But the matter was taken up by the subordinates; and half the army
might have been by the ears, if the quarrel had not been stopped.
General Cadogan sent an intimation to General Webb to say that he
was ready if Webb liked, and would meet him. This was a kind of
invitation our stout old general was always too ready to accept,
and 'twas with great difficulty we got the General to reply that he
had no quarrel with Mr. Cadogan, who had behaved with perfect
gallantry, but only with those at head-quarters, who had belied
him. Mr. Cardonnel offered General Webb reparation; Mr. Webb said
he had a cane at the service of Mr. Cardonnel, and the only
satisfaction he wanted from him was one he was not likely to get,
namely, the truth. The officers in our staff of Webb's, and those
in the immediate suite of the General, were ready to come to blows;
and hence arose the only affair in which Mr. Esmond ever engaged as
principal, and that was from a revengeful wish to wipe off an old
My Lord Mohun, who had a troop in Lord Macclesfield's regiment of
the Horse Guards, rode this campaign with the Duke. He had sunk by
this time to the very worst reputation; he had had another fatal
duel in Spain; he had married, and forsaken his wife; he was a
gambler, a profligate, and debauchee. He joined just before
Oudenarde; and, as Esmond feared, as soon as Frank Castlewood heard
of his arrival, Frank was for seeking him out, and killing him.
The wound my lord got at Oudenarde prevented their meeting, but
that was nearly healed, and Mr. Esmond trembled daily lest any
chance should bring his boy and this known assassin together. They
met at the mess-table of Handyside's regiment at Lille; the officer
commanding not knowing of the feud between the two noblemen.
Esmond had not seen the hateful handsome face of Mohun for nine
years, since they had met on that fatal night in Leicester Field.
It was degraded with crime and passion now; it wore the anxious
look of a man who has three deaths, and who knows how many hidden
shames, and lusts, and crimes on his conscience. He bowed with a
sickly low bow, and slunk away when our host presented us round to
one another. Frank Castlewood had not known him till then, so
changed was he. He knew the boy well enough.
'Twas curious to look at the two--especially the young man, whose
face flushed up when he heard the hated name of the other; and who
said in his bad French and his brave boyish voice--"He had long
been anxious to meet my Lord Mohun." The other only bowed, and
moved away from him. I do him justice, he wished to have no
quarrel with the lad.
Esmond put himself between them at table. "D--- it," says Frank,
"why do you put yourself in the place of a man who is above you in
degree? My Lord Mohun should walk after me. I want to sit by my
Esmond whispered to Lord Mohun, that Frank was hurt in the leg at
Oudenarde; and besought the other to be quiet. Quiet enough he was
for some time; disregarding the many taunts which young Castlewood
flung at him, until after several healths, when my Lord Mohun got
to be rather in liquor.
"Will you go away, my lord?" Mr. Esmond said to him, imploring him
to quit the table.
"No, by G--," says my Lord Mohun. "I'll not go away for any man;"
he was quite flushed with wine by this time.
The talk got round to the affairs of yesterday. Webb had offered
to challenge the Commander-in-Chief: Webb had been ill-used: Webb
was the bravest, handsomest, vainest man in the army. Lord Mohun
did not know that Esmond was Webb's aide-de-camp. He began to tell
some stories against the General; which, from t'other side of
Esmond, young Castlewood contradicted.
"I can't bear any more of this," says my Lord Mohun.
"Nor can I, my lord," says Mr. Esmond, starting up. "The story my
Lord Mohun has told respecting General Webb is false, gentlemen--
false, I repeat," and making a low bow to Lord Mohun, and without a
single word more, Esmond got up and left the dining-room. These
affairs were common enough among the military of those days. There
was a garden behind the house, and all the party turned instantly
into it; and the two gentlemen's coats were off and their points
engaged within two minutes after Esmond's words had been spoken.
If Captain Esmond had put Mohun out of the world, as he might, a
villain would have been punished and spared further villanies--but
who is one man to punish another? I declare upon my honor that my
only thought was to prevent Lord Mohun from mischief with Frank,
and the end of this meeting was, that after half a dozen passes my
lord went home with a hurt which prevented him from lifting his
right arm for three months.
"Oh, Harry! why didn't you kill the villain?" young Castlewood
asked. "I can't walk without a crutch: but I could have met him on
horseback with sword and pistol." But Harry Esmond said, "'Twas
best to have no man's life on one's conscience, not even that
villain's." And this affair, which did not occupy three minutes,
being over, the gentlemen went back to their wine, and my Lord
Mohun to his quarters, where he was laid up with a fever which had
spared mischief had it proved fatal. And very soon after this
affair Harry Esmond and his General left the camp for London;
whither a certain reputation had preceded the Captain, for my Lady
Castlewood of Chelsey received him as if he had been a conquering
hero. She gave a great dinner to Mr. Webb, where the General's
chair was crowned with laurels; and her ladyship called Esmond's
health in a toast, to which my kind General was graciously pleased
to bear the strongest testimony: and took down a mob of at least
forty coaches to cheer our General as he came out of the House of
Commons, the day when he received the thanks of Parliament for his
action. The mob huzza'd and applauded him, as well as the fine
company: it was splendid to see him waving his hat, and bowing, and
laying his hand upon his Order of Generosity. He introduced Mr.
Esmond to Mr. St. John and the Right Honorable Robert Harley,
Esquire, as he came out of the House walking between them; and was
pleased to make many flattering observations regarding Mr. Esmond's
behavior during the three last campaigns.
Mr. St. John (who had the most winning presence of any man I ever
saw, excepting always my peerless young Frank Castlewood) said he
had heard of Mr. Esmond before from Captain Steele, and how he had
helped Mr. Addison to write his famous poem of the "Campaign."
"'Twas as great an achievement as the victory of Blenheim itself,"
Mr. Harley said, who was famous as a judge and patron of letters,
and so, perhaps, it may be--though for my part I think there are
twenty beautiful lines, but all the rest is commonplace, and Mr.
Addison's hymn worth a thousand such poems.
All the town was indignant at my Lord Duke's unjust treatment of
General Webb, and applauded the vote of thanks which the House of
Commons gave to the General for his victory at Wynendael. 'Tis
certain that the capture of Lille was the consequence of that lucky
achievement, and the humiliation of the old French King, who was
said to suffer more at the loss of this great city, than from any
of the former victories our troops had won over him. And, I think,
no small part of Mr. Webb's exultation at his victory arose from
the idea that Marlborough had been disappointed of a great bribe
the French King had promised him, should the siege be raised. The
very sum of money offered to him was mentioned by the Duke's
enemies; and honest Mr. Webb chuckled at the notion, not only of
beating the French, but of beating Marlborough too, and
intercepting a convoy of three millions of French crowns, that were
on their way to the Generalissimo's insatiable pockets. When the
General's lady went to the Queen's drawing-room, all the Tory women
crowded round her with congratulations, and made her a train
greater than the Duchess of Marlborough's own. Feasts were given
to the General by all the chiefs of the Tory party, who vaunted him
as the Duke's equal in military skill; and perhaps used the worthy
soldier as their instrument, whilst he thought they were but
acknowledging his merits as a commander. As the General's aide-de-
camp and favorite officer, Mr. Esmond came in for a share of his
chief's popularity, and was presented to her Majesty, and advanced
to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, at the request of his grateful
We may be sure there was one family in which any good fortune that
happened to Esmond caused such a sincere pride and pleasure, that
he, for his part, was thankful he could make them so happy. With
these fond friends, Blenheim and Oudenarde seemed to be mere
trifling incidents of the war; and Wynendael was its crowning
victory. Esmond's mistress never tired to hear accounts of the
battle; and I think General Webb's lady grew jealous of her, for
the General was for ever at Kensington, and talking on that
delightful theme. As for his aide-de-camp, though, no doubt,
Esmond's own natural vanity was pleased at the little share of
reputation which his good fortune had won him, yet it was chiefly
precious to him (he may say so, now that he hath long since
outlived it,) because it pleased his mistress, and, above all,
because Beatrix valued it.
As for the old Dowager of Chelsey, never was an old woman in all
England more delighted nor more gracious than she. Esmond had his
quarters in her ladyship's house, where the domestics were
instructed to consider him as their master. She bade him give
entertainments, of which she defrayed the charges, and was charmed
when his guests were carried away tipsy in their coaches. She must
have his picture taken; and accordingly he was painted by Mr.
Jervas, in his red coat, and smiling upon a bomb-shell, which was
bursting at the corner of the piece. She vowed that unless he made
a great match, she should never die easy, and was for ever bringing
young ladies to Chelsey, with pretty faces and pretty fortunes, at
the disposal of the Colonel. He smiled to think how times were
altered with him, and of the early days in his father's lifetime,
when a trembling page he stood before her, with her ladyship's
basin and ewer, or crouched in her coach-step. The only fault she
found with him was, that he was more sober than an Esmond ought to
be; and would neither be carried to bed by his valet, nor lose his
heart to any beauty, whether of St. James's or Covent Garden.
What is the meaning of fidelity in love, and whence the birth of it?
'Tis a state of mind that men fall into, and depending on the man
rather than the woman. We love being in love, that's the truth
on't. If we had not met Joan, we should have met Kate, and adored
her. We know our mistresses are no better than many other women,
nor no prettier, nor no wiser, nor no wittier. 'Tis not for these
reasons we love a woman, or for any special quality or charm I know
of; we might as well demand that a lady should be the tallest woman
in the world, like the Shropshire giantess,* as that she should be a
paragon in any other character, before we began to love her.
Esmond's mistress had a thousand faults beside her charms; he knew
both perfectly well! She was imperious, she was light-minded, she
was flighty, she was false, she had no reverence in her character;
she was in everything, even in beauty, the contrast of her mother,
who was the most devoted and the least selfish of women. Well, from
the very first moment he saw her on the stairs at Walcote, Esmond
knew he loved Beatrix. There might be better women--he wanted that
one. He cared for none other. Was it because she was gloriously
beautiful? Beautiful as she was, he had heard people say a score of
times in their company that Beatrix's mother looked as young, and
was the handsomer of the two. Why did her voice thrill in his ear
so? She could not sing near so well as Nicolini or Mrs. Tofts; nay,
she sang out of tune, and yet he liked to hear her better than St.
Cecilia. She had not a finer complexion than Mrs. Steele, (Dick's
wife, whom he had now got, and who ruled poor Dick with a rod of
pickle,) and yet to see her dazzled Esmond; he would shut his eyes,
and the thought of her dazzled him all the same. She was brilliant
and lively in talk, but not so incomparably witty as her mother,
who, when she was cheerful, said the finest things; but yet to hear
her, and to be with her, was Esmond's greatest pleasure. Days
passed away between him and these ladies, he scarce knew how. He
poured his heart out to them, so as he never could in any other
company, where he hath generally passed for being moody, or
supercilious and silent. This society** was more delightful than
that of the greatest wits to him. May heaven pardon him the lies he
told the Dowager at Chelsey, in order to get a pretext for going
away to Kensington: the business at the Ordnance which he invented;
the interview with his General, the courts and statesmen's levees
which he DIDN'T frequent and describe; who wore a new suit on Sunday
at St. James's or at the Queen's birthday; how many coaches filled
the street at Mr. Harley's levee; how many bottles he had had the
honor to drink over-night with Mr. St. John at the "Cocoa-Tree," or
at the "Garter" with Mr. Walpole and Mr. Steele.
* 'Tis not thus WOMAN LOVES: Col. E. hath owned to this folly for a
SCORE OF WOMEN besides.--R.
** And, indeed, so was his to them, a thousand thousand times more
charming, for where was his equal?--R.
Mistress Beatrix Esmond had been a dozen times on the point of
making great matches, so the Court scandal said; but for his part
Esmond never would believe the stories against her; and came back,
after three years' absence from her, not so frantic as he had been
perhaps, but still hungering after her and no other; still hopeful,
still kneeling, with his heart in his hand for the young lady to
take. We were now got to 1709. She was near twenty-two years old,
and three years at Court, and without a husband.
"'Tis not for want of being asked," Lady Castlewood said, looking
into Esmond's heart, as she could, with that perceptiveness
affection gives. "But she will make no mean match, Harry: she will
not marry as I would have her; the person whom I should like to
call my son, and Henry Esmond knows who that is, is best served by
my not pressing his claim. Beatrix is so wilful, that what I would
urge on her, she would be sure to resist. The man who would marry
her, will not be happy with her, unless he be a great person, and
can put her in a great position. Beatrix loves admiration more
than love; and longs, beyond all things, for command. Why should a
mother speak so of her child? You are my son, too, Harry. You
should know the truth about your sister. I thought you might cure
yourself of your passion," my lady added, fondly. "Other people
can cure themselves of that folly, you know. But I see you are
still as infatuated as ever. When we read your name in the
Gazette, I pleaded for you, my poor boy. Poor boy, indeed! You
are growing a grave old gentleman, now, and I am an old woman. She
likes your fame well enough, and she likes your person. She says
you have wit, and fire, and good-breeding, and are more natural
than the fine gentlemen of the Court. But this is not enough. She
wants a commander-in-chief, and not a colonel. Were a duke to ask
her, she would leave an earl whom she had promised. I told you so
before. I know not how my poor girl is so worldly."
"Well," says Esmond, "a man can but give his best and his all. She
has that from me. What little reputation I have won, I swear I
cared for it because I thought Beatrix would be pleased with it.
What care I to be a colonel or a general? Think you 'twill matter
a few score years hence, what our foolish honors to-day are? I
would have had a little fame, that she might wear it in her hat.
If I had anything better, I would endow her with it. If she wants
my life, I would give it her. If she marries another, I will say
God bless him. I make no boast, nor no complaint. I think my
fidelity is folly, perhaps. But so it is. I cannot help myself.
I love her. You are a thousand times better: the fondest, the
fairest, the dearest of women. Sure, my dear lady, I see all
Beatrix's faults as well as you do. But she is my fate. 'Tis
endurable. I shall not die for not having her. I think I should
be no happier if I won her. Que voulez-vous? as my Lady of Chelsey
would say. Je l'aime."
"I wish she would have you," said Harry's fond mistress, giving a
hand to him. He kissed the fair hand ('twas the prettiest dimpled
little hand in the world, and my Lady Castlewood, though now almost
forty years old, did not look to be within ten years of her age).
He kissed and kept her fair hand, as they talked together.
"Why," says he, "should she hear me? She knows what I would say.
Far or near, she knows I'm her slave. I have sold myself for
nothing, it may be. Well, 'tis the price I choose to take. I am
worth nothing, or I am worth all."
"You are such a treasure," Esmond's mistress was pleased to say,
"that the woman who has your love, shouldn't change it away against
a kingdom, I think. I am a country-bred woman, and cannot say but
the ambitions of the town seem mean to me. I never was awe-
stricken by my Lady Duchess's rank and finery, or afraid," she
added, with a sly laugh, "of anything but her temper. I hear of
Court ladies who pine because her Majesty looks cold on them; and
great noblemen who would give a limb that they might wear a garter
on the other. This worldliness, which I can't comprehend, was born
with Beatrix, who, on the first day of her waiting, was a perfect
courtier. We are like sisters, and she the eldest sister, somehow.
She tells me I have a mean spirit. I laugh, and say she adores a
coach-and-six. I cannot reason her out of her ambition. 'Tis
natural to her, as to me to love quiet, and be indifferent about
rank and riches. What are they, Harry? and for how long do they
last? Our home is not here." She smiled as she spoke, and looked
like an angel that was only on earth on a visit. "Our home is
where the just are, and where our sins and sorrows enter not. My
father used to rebuke me, and say that I was too hopeful about
heaven. But I cannot help my nature, and grow obstinate as I grow
to be an old woman; and as I love my children so, sure our Father
loves us with a thousand and a thousand times greater love. It
must be that we shall meet yonder, and be happy. Yes, you--and my
children, and my dear lord. Do you know, Harry, since his death,
it has always seemed to me as if his love came back to me, and that
we are parted no more. Perhaps he is here now, Harry--I think he
is. Forgiven I am sure he is: even Mr. Atterbury absolved him, and
he died forgiving. Oh, what a noble heart he had! How generous he
was! I was but fifteen and a child when he married me. How good
he was to stoop to me! He was always good to the poor and humble."
She stopped, then presently, with a peculiar expression, as if her
eyes were looking into heaven, and saw my lord there, she smiled,
and gave a little laugh. "I laugh to see you, sir," she says;
"when you come, it seems as if you never were away." One may put
her words down, and remember them, but how describe her sweet
tones, sweeter than music!
My young lord did not come home at the end of the campaign, and
wrote that he was kept at Bruxelles on military duty. Indeed, I
believe he was engaged in laying siege to a certain lady, who was
of the suite of Madame de Soissons, the Prince of Savoy's mother,
who was just dead, and who, like the Flemish fortresses, was taken
and retaken a great number of times during the war, and occupied by
French, English, and Imperialists. Of course, Mr. Esmond did not
think fit to enlighten Lady Castlewood regarding the young
scapegrace's doings: nor had he said a word about the affair with
Lord Mohun, knowing how abhorrent that man's name was to his
mistress. Frank did not waste much time or money on pen and ink;
and, when Harry came home with his General, only writ two lines to
his mother, to say his wound in the leg was almost healed, that he
would keep his coming of age next year--that the duty aforesaid
would keep him at Bruxelles, and that Cousin Harry would tell all
But from Bruxelles, knowing how the Lady Castlewood always liked to
have a letter about the famous 29th of December, my lord writ her a
long and full one, and in this he must have described the affair
with Mohun; for when Mr. Esmond came to visit his mistress one day,
early in the new year, to his great wonderment, she and her
daughter both came up and saluted him, and after them the Dowager
of Chelsey, too, whose chairman had just brought her ladyship from
her village to Kensington across the fields. After this honor, I
say, from the two ladies of Castlewood, the Dowager came forward in
great state, with her grand tall head-dress of King James's reign,
that, she never forsook, and said, "Cousin Henry, all our family
have met; and we thank you, cousin, for your noble conduct towards
the head of our house." And pointing to her blushing cheek, she
made Mr. Esmond aware that he was to enjoy the rapture of an
embrace there. Having saluted one cheek, she turned to him the
other. "Cousin Harry," said both the other ladies, in a little
chorus, "we thank you for your noble conduct;" and then Harry
became aware that the story of the Lille affair had come to his
kinswomen's ears. It pleased him to hear them all saluting him as
one of their family.
The tables of the dining-room were laid for a great entertainment;
and the ladies were in gala dresses--my Lady of Chelsey in her
highest tour, my Lady Viscountess out of black, and looking fair
and happy a ravir; and the Maid of Honor attired with that splendor
which naturally distinguished her, and wearing on her beautiful
breast the French officer's star which Frank had sent home after
"You see, 'tis a gala day with us," says she, glancing down to the
star complacently, "and we have our orders on. Does not mamma look
charming? 'Twas I dressed her!" Indeed, Esmond's dear mistress,
blushing as he looked at her, with her beautiful fair hair, and an
elegant dress according to the mode, appeared to have the shape and
complexion of a girl of twenty.
On the table was a fine sword, with a red velvet scabbard, and a
beautiful chased silver handle, with a blue ribbon for a sword-
knot. "What is this?" says the Captain, going up to look at this
Mrs. Beatrix advanced towards it. "Kneel down," says she: "we dub
you our knight with this"--and she waved the sword over his head.
"My Lady Dowager hath given the sword; and I give the ribbon, and
mamma hath sewn on the fringe."
"Put the sword on him, Beatrix," says her mother. "You are our
knight, Harry--our true knight. Take a mother's thanks and prayers
for defending her son, my dear, dear friend." She could say no
more, and even the Dowager was affected, for a couple of rebellious
tears made sad marks down those wrinkled old roses which Esmond had
just been allowed to salute.
"We had a letter from dearest Frank," his mother said, "three days
since, whilst you were on your visit to your friend Captain Steele,
at Hampton. He told us all that you had done, and how nobly you
had put yourself between him and that--that wretch."
"And I adopt you from this day," says the Dowager, "and I wish I
was richer, for your sake, son Esmond," she added with a wave of
her hand; and as Mr. Esmond dutifully went down on his knee before
her ladyship, she cast her eyes up to the ceiling, (the gilt
chandelier, and the twelve wax-candles in it, for the party was
numerous,) and invoked a blessing from that quarter upon the newly
"Dear Frank," says the other viscountess, "how fond he is of his
military profession! He is studying fortification very hard. I
wish he were here. We shall keep his coming of age at Castlewood
"If the campaign permit us," says Mr. Esmond.
"I am never afraid when he is with you," cries the boy's mother.
"I am sure my Henry will always defend him."
"But there will be a peace before next year; we know it for
certain," cries the Maid of Honor. "Lord Marlborough will be
dismissed, and that horrible duchess turned out of all her places.
Her Majesty won't speak to her now. Did you see her at Bushy,
Harry? She is furious, and she ranges about the park like a
lioness, and tears people's eyes out."
"And the Princess Anne will send for somebody," says my Lady of
Chelsey, taking out her medal and kissing it.
"Did you see the King at Oudenarde, Harry?" his mistress asked.
She was a staunch Jacobite, and would no more have thought of
denying her king than her God.
"I saw the young Hanoverian only," Harry said. "The Chevalier de
"The King, sir, the King!" said the ladies and Miss Beatrix; and
she clapped her pretty hands, and cried, "Vive le Roy."
By this time there came a thundering knock, that drove in the doors
of the house almost. It was three o'clock, and the company were
arriving; and presently the servant announced Captain Steele and
Captain and Mrs. Steele, who were the first to arrive, had driven
to Kensington from their country-house, the Hovel at Hampton Wick.
"Not from our mansion in Bloomsbury Square," as Mrs. Steele took
care to inform the ladies. Indeed Harry had ridden away from
Hampton that very morning, leaving the couple by the ears; for from
the chamber where he lay, in a bed that was none of the cleanest,
and kept awake by the company which he had in his own bed, and the
quarrel which was going on in the next room, he could hear both
night and morning the curtain lecture which Mrs. Steele was in the
habit of administering to poor Dick.
At night it did not matter so much for the culprit; Dick was
fuddled, and when in that way no scolding could interrupt his
benevolence. Mr. Esmond could hear him coaxing and speaking in
that maudlin manner, which punch and claret produce, to his beloved
Prue, and beseeching her to remember that there was a distiwisht
officer ithe rex roob, who would overhear her. She went on,
nevertheless, calling him a drunken wretch, and was only
interrupted in her harangues by the Captain's snoring.
In the morning, the unhappy victim awoke to a headache, and
consciousness, and the dialogue of the night was resumed. "Why do
you bring captains home to dinner when there's not a guinea in the
house? How am I to give dinners when you leave me without a
shilling? How am I to go traipsing to Kensington in my yellow
satin sack before all the fine company? I've nothing fit to put
on; I never have:" and so the dispute went on--Mr. Esmond
interrupting the talk when it seemed to be growing too intimate by
blowing his nose as loudly as ever he could, at the sound of which
trumpet there came a lull. But Dick was charming, though his wife
was odious, and 'twas to give Mr. Steele pleasure, that the ladies
of Castlewood, who were ladies of no small fashion, invited Mrs.
Besides the Captain and his lady, there was a great and notable
assemblage of company: my Lady of Chelsey having sent her lackeys
and liveries to aid the modest attendance at Kensington. There was
Lieutenant-General Webb, Harry's kind patron, of whom the Dowager
took possession, and who resplended in velvet and gold lace; there
was Harry's new acquaintance, the Right Honorable Henry St. John,
Esquire, the General's kinsman, who was charmed with the Lady
Castlewood, even more than with her daughter; there was one of the
greatest noblemen in the kingdom, the Scots Duke of Hamilton, just
created Duke of Brandon in England; and two other noble lords of
the Tory party, my Lord Ashburnham, and another I have forgot; and
for ladies, her Grace the Duchess of Ormonde and her daughters, the
Lady Mary and the Lady Betty, the former one of Mistress Beatrix's
colleagues in waiting on the Queen.
"What a party of Tories!" whispered Captain Steele to Esmond, as we
were assembled in the parlor before dinner. Indeed, all the
company present, save Steele, were of that faction.
Mr. St. John made his special compliments to Mrs. Steele, and so
charmed her that she declared she would have Steele a Tory too.
"Or will you have me a Whig?" says Mr. St. John. "I think, madam,
you could convert a man to anything."
"If Mr. St. John ever comes to Bloomsbury Square I will teach him
what I know," says Mrs. Steele, dropping her handsome eyes. "Do
you know Bloomsbury Square?"
"Do I know the Mall? Do I know the Opera? Do I know the reigning
toast? Why, Bloomsbury is the very height of the mode," says Mr.
St. John. "'Tis rus in urbe. You have gardens all the way to
Hampstead, and palaces round about you--Southampton House and
"Where you wretches go and fight duels," cries Mrs. Steele.
"Of which the ladies are the cause!" says her entertainer. "Madam,
is Dick a good swordsman? How charming the 'Tatler' is! We all
recognized your portrait in the 49th number, and I have been dying
to know you ever since I read it. 'Aspasia must be allowed to be
the first of the beauteous order of love.' Doth not the passage
run so? 'In this accomplished lady love is the constant effect,
though it is never the design; yet though her mien carries much
more invitation than command, to behold her is an immediate check
to loose behavior, and to love her is a liberal education.'"
"Oh, indeed!" says Mrs. Steele, who did not seem to understand a
word of what the gentleman was saying.
"Who could fail to be accomplished under such a mistress?" says Mr.
St. John, still gallant and bowing.
"Mistress! upon my word, sir!" cries the lady. "If you mean me,
sir, I would have you know that I am the Captain's wife."
"Sure we all know it," answers Mr. St. John, keeping his
countenance very gravely; and Steele broke in saying, "'Twas not
about Mrs. Steele I writ that paper--though I am sure she is worthy
of any compliment I can pay her--but of the Lady Elizabeth
"I hear Mr. Addison is equally famous as a wit and a poet," says
Mr. St. John. "Is it true that his hand is to be found in your
'Tatler,' Mr. Steele?"
"Whether 'tis the sublime or the humorous, no man can come near
him," cries Steele.
"A fig, Dick, for your Mr. Addison! cries out his lady: "a
gentleman who gives himself such airs and holds his head so high
now. I hope your ladyship thinks as I do: I can't bear those very
fair men with white eyelashes--a black man for me." (All the black
men at table applauded, and made Mrs. Steele a bow for this
compliment.) "As for this Mr. Addison," she went on, "he comes to
dine with the Captain sometimes, never says a word to me, and then
they walk up stairs both tipsy, to a dish of tea. I remember your
Mr. Addison when he had but one coat to his back, and that with a
patch at the elbow."
"Indeed--a patch at the elbow! You interest me," says Mr. St.
John. "'Tis charming to hear of one man of letters from the
charming wife of another."
"La, I could tell you ever so much about 'em," continues the
voluble lady. "What do you think the Captain has got now?--a
little hunchback fellow--a little hop-o'-my-thumb creature that he
calls a poet--a little Popish brat!"
"Hush, there are two in the room," whispers her companion.
"Well, I call him Popish because his name is Pope," says the lady.
"'Tis only my joking way. And this little dwarf of a fellow has
wrote a pastoral poem--all about shepherds and shepherdesses, you
"A shepherd should have a little crook," says my mistress, laughing
from her end of the table: on which Mrs. Steele said, "She did not
know, but the Captain brought home this queer little creature when
she was in bed with her first boy, and it was a mercy he had come
no sooner; and Dick raved about his genus, and was always raving
about some nonsense or other."
"Which of the 'Tatlers' do you prefer, Mrs. Steele?" asked Mr. St.
"I never read but one, and think it all a pack of rubbish, sir,"
says the lady. "Such stuff about Bickerstaffe, and Distaff, and
Quarterstaff, as it all is! There's the Captain going on still
with the Burgundy--I know he'll be tipsy before he stops--Captain
"I drink to your eyes, my dear," says the Captain, who seemed to
think his wife charming, and to receive as genuine all the satiric
compliments which Mr. St. John paid her.
All this while the Maid of Honor had been trying to get Mr. Esmond
to talk, and no doubt voted him a dull fellow. For, by some
mistake, just as he was going to pop into the vacant place, he was
placed far away from Beatrix's chair, who sat between his Grace and
my Lord Ashburnham, and shrugged her lovely white shoulders, and
cast a look as if to say, "Pity me," to her cousin. My Lord Duke
and his young neighbor were presently in a very animated and close
conversation. Mrs. Beatrix could no more help using her eyes than
the sun can help shining, and setting those it shines on a-burning.
By the time the first course was done the dinner seemed long to
Esmond; by the time the soup came he fancied they must have been
hours at table: and as for the sweets and jellies he thought they
never would be done.
At length the ladies rose, Beatrix throwing a Parthian glance at
her duke as she retreated; a fresh bottle and glasses were fetched,
and toasts were called. Mr. St. John asked his Grace the Duke of
Hamilton and the company to drink to the health of his Grace the
Duke of Brandon. Another lord gave General Webb's health, "and may
he get the command the bravest officer in the world deserves." Mr.
Webb thanked the company, complimented his aide-de-camp, and fought
his famous battle over again.
"Il est fatiguant," whispers Mr. St. John, "avec sa trompette de
Captain Steele, who was not of our side, loyally gave the health of
the Duke of Marlborough, the greatest general of the age.
"I drink to the greatest general with all my heart," says Mr. Webb;
"there can be no gainsaying that character of him. My glass goes
to the General, and not to the Duke, Mr. Steele." And the stout
old gentleman emptied his bumper; to which Dick replied by filling
and emptying a pair of brimmers, one for the General and one for
And now his Grace of Hamilton, rising up with flashing eyes (we had
all been drinking pretty freely), proposed a toast to the lovely,
to the incomparable Mrs. Beatrix Esmond; we all drank it with
cheers, and my Lord Ashburnham especially, with a shout of
"What a pity there is a Duchess of Hamilton," whispers St. John,
who drank more wine and yet was more steady than most of the
others, and we entered the drawing-room where the ladies were at
their tea. As for poor Dick, we were obliged to leave him alone at
the dining-table, where he was hiccupping out the lines from the
"Campaign," in which the greatest poet had celebrated the greatest
general in the world; and Harry Esmond found him, half an hour
afterwards, in a more advanced stage of liquor, and weeping about
the treachery of Tom Boxer.
The drawing-room was all dark to poor Harry, in spite of the grand
illumination. Beatrix scarce spoke to him. When my Lord Duke went
away, she practised upon the next in rank, and plied my young Lord
Ashburnham with all the fire of her eyes and the fascinations of
her wit. Most of the party were set to cards, and Mr. St. John,
after yawning in the face of Mrs. Steele, whom he did not care to
pursue any more; and talking in his most brilliant animated way to
Lady Castlewood, whom he pronounced to be beautiful, of a far
higher order of beauty than her daughter, presently took his leave,
and went his way. The rest of the company speedily followed, my
Lord Ashburnham the last, throwing fiery glances at the smiling
young temptress, who had bewitched more hearts than his in her
No doubt, as a kinsman of the house, Mr. Esmond thought fit to be
the last of all in it; he remained after the coaches had rolled
away--after his dowager aunt's chair and flambeaux had marched off
in the darkness towards Chelsey, and the town's people had gone to
bed, who had been drawn into the square to gape at the unusual
assemblage of chairs and chariots, lackeys, and torchmen. The poor
mean wretch lingered yet for a few minutes, to see whether the girl
would vouchsafe him a smile, or a parting word of consolation. But
her enthusiasm of the morning was quite died out, or she chose to
be in a different mood. She fell to joking about the dowdy
appearance of Lady Betty, and mimicked the vulgarity of Mrs.
Steele; and then she put up her little hand to her mouth and
yawned, lighted a taper, and shrugged her shoulders, and dropping
Mr. Esmond a saucy curtsy, sailed off to bed.
"The day began so well, Henry, that I hoped it might have ended
better," was all the consolation that poor Esmond's fond mistress
could give him; and as he trudged home through the dark alone, he
thought with bitter rage in his heart, and a feeling of almost
revolt against the sacrifice he had made:--"She would have me,"
thought he, "had I but a name to give her. But for my promise to
her father, I might have my rank and my mistress too."
I suppose a man's vanity is stronger than any other passion in him;
for I blush, even now, as I recall the humiliation of those distant
days, the memory of which still smarts, though the fever of balked
desire has passed away more than a score of years ago. When the
writer's descendants come to read this memoir, I wonder will they
have lived to experience a similar defeat and shame? Will they
ever have knelt to a woman who has listened to them, and played
with them, and laughed with them--who beckoning them with lures and
caresses, and with Yes smiling from her eyes, has tricked them on
to their knees, and turned her back and left them. All this shame
Mr. Esmond had to undergo; and he submitted, and revolted, and
presently came crouching back for more.
After this feste, my young Lord Ashburnham's coach was for ever
rolling in and out of Kensington Square; his lady-mother came to
visit Esmond's mistress, and at every assembly in the town,
wherever the Maid of Honor made her appearance, you might be pretty
sure to see the young gentleman in a new suit every week, and
decked out in all the finery that his tailor or embroiderer could
furnish for him. My lord was for ever paying Mr. Esmond
compliments: bidding him to dinner, offering him horses to ride,
and giving him a thousand uncouth marks of respect and good-will.
At last, one night at the coffee-house, whither my lord came
considerably flushed and excited with drink, he rushes up to Mr.
Esmond, and cries out--"Give me joy, my dearest Colonel; I am the
happiest of men."
"The happiest of men needs no dearest colonel to give him joy,"
says Mr. Esmond. "What is the cause of this supreme felicity?"
"Haven't you heard?" says he. "Don't you know? I thought the
family told you everything: the adorable Beatrix hath promised to
"What!" cries out Mr. Esmond, who had spent happy hours with
Beatrix that very morning--had writ verses for her, that she had
sung at the harpsichord.
"Yes," says he; "I waited on her to-day. I saw you walking towards
Knightsbridge as I passed in my coach; and she looked so lovely,
and spoke so kind, that I couldn't help going down on my knees,
and--and--sure I am the happiest of men in all the world; and I'm
very young; but she says I shall get older: and you know I shall be
of age in four months; and there's very little difference between
us; and I'm so happy. I should like to treat the company to
something. Let us have a bottle--a dozen bottles--and drink the
health of the finest woman in England."
Esmond left the young lord tossing off bumper after bumper, and
strolled away to Kensington to ask whether the news was true.
'Twas only too sure: his mistress's sad, compassionate face told
him the story; and then she related what particulars of it she
knew, and how my young lord had made his offer, half an hour after
Esmond went away that morning, and in the very room where the song
lay yet on the harpsichord, which Esmond had writ, and they had
CONTAINING THE END OF MR. ESMOND'S ADVENTURES IN ENGLAND.
I COME TO AN END OF MY BATTLES AND BRUISES.
That feverish desire to gain a little reputation which Esmond had
had, left him now perhaps that he had attained some portion of his
wish, and the great motive of his ambition was over. His desire
for military honor was that it might raise him in Beatrix's eyes.
'Twas next to nobility and wealth, the only kind of rank she
valued. It was the stake quickest won or lost too; for law is a
very long game that requires a life to practise; and to be
distinguished in letters or the Church would not have forwarded the
poor gentleman's plans in the least. So he had no suit to play but
the red one, and he played it; and this, in truth, was the reason
of his speedy promotion; for he exposed himself more than most
gentlemen do, and risked more to win more. Is he the only man that
hath set his life against a stake which may be not worth the
winning? Another risks his life (and his honor, too, sometimes,)
against a bundle of bank-notes, or a yard of blue ribbon, or a seat
in Parliament; and some for the mere pleasure and excitement of the
sport; as a field of a hundred huntsmen will do, each out-bawling
and out-galloping the other at the tail of a dirty fox, that is to
be the prize of the foremost happy conqueror.
When he heard this news of Beatrix's engagement in marriage,
Colonel Esmond knocked under to his fate, and resolved to surrender
his sword, that could win him nothing now he cared for; and in this
dismal frame of mind he determined to retire from the regiment, to
the great delight of the captain next in rank to him, who happened
to be a young gentleman of good fortune, who eagerly paid Mr.
Esmond a thousand guineas for his majority in Webb's regiment, and
was knocked on the head the next campaign. Perhaps Esmond would
not have been sorry to share his fate. He was more the Knight of
the Woful Countenance than ever he had been. His moodiness must
have made him perfectly odious to his friends under the tents, who
like a jolly fellow, and laugh at a melancholy warrior always
sighing after Dulcinea at home.
Both the ladies of Castlewood approved of Mr. Esmond quitting the
army, and his kind General coincided in his wish of retirement and
helped in the transfer of his commission, which brought a pretty
sum into his pocket. But when the Commander-in-Chief came home,
and was forced, in spite of himself, to appoint Lieutenant-General
Webb to the command of a division of the army in Flanders, the
Lieutenant-General prayed Colonel Esmond so urgently to be his
aide-de-camp and military secretary, that Esmond could not resist
his kind patron's entreaties, and again took the field, not
attached to any regiment, but under Webb's orders. What must have
been the continued agonies of fears* and apprehensions which racked
the gentle breasts of wives and matrons in those dreadful days,
when every Gazette brought accounts of deaths and battles, and when
the present anxiety over, and the beloved person escaped, the doubt
still remained that a battle might be fought, possibly, of which
the next Flanders letter would bring the account; so they, the poor
tender creatures, had to go on sickening and trembling through the
whole campaign. Whatever these terrors were on the part of
Esmond's mistress, (and that tenderest of women must have felt them
most keenly for both her sons, as she called them), she never
allowed them outwardly to appear, but hid her apprehension, as she
did her charities and devotion. 'Twas only by chance that Esmond,
wandering in Kensington, found his mistress coming out of a mean
cottage there, and heard that she had a score of poor retainers,
whom she visited and comforted in their sickness and poverty, and
who blessed her daily. She attended the early church daily (though
of a Sunday, especially, she encouraged and advanced all sorts of
cheerfulness and innocent gayety in her little household): and by
notes entered into a table-book of hers at this time, and
devotional compositions writ with a sweet artless fervor, such as
the best divines could not surpass, showed how fond her heart was,
how humble and pious her spirit, what pangs of apprehension she
endured silently, and with what a faithful reliance she committed
the care of those she loved to the awful Dispenser of death and
* What indeed? Psm. xci. 2, 3, 7.--R. E.
As for her ladyship at Chelsey, Esmond's newly adopted mother, she
was now of an age when the danger of any second party doth not
disturb the rest much. She cared for trumps more than for most
things in life. She was firm enough in her own faith, but no
longer very bitter against ours. She had a very good-natured, easy
French director, Monsieur Gauthier by name, who was a gentleman of
the world, and would take a hand of cards with Dean Atterbury, my
lady's neighbor at Chelsey, and was well with all the High Church
party. No doubt Monsieur Gauthier knew what Esmond's peculiar
position was, for he corresponded with Holt, and always treated
Colonel Esmond with particular respect and kindness; but for good
reasons the Colonel and the Abbe never spoke on this matter
together, and so they remained perfect good friends.
All the frequenters of my Lady of Chelsey's house were of the Tory
and High Church party. Madame Beatrix was as frantic about the
King as her elderly kinswoman: she wore his picture on her heart;
she had a piece of his hair; she vowed he was the most injured, and
gallant, and accomplished, and unfortunate, and beautiful of
princes. Steele, who quarrelled with very many of his Tory
friends, but never with Esmond, used to tell the Colonel that his
kinswoman's house was a rendezvous of Tory intrigues; that Gauthier
was a spy; that Atterbury was a spy; that letters were constantly
going from that house to the Queen at St. Germains; on which
Esmond, laughing, would reply, that they used to say in the army
the Duke of Marlborough was a spy too, and as much in
correspondence with that family as any Jesuit. And without
entering very eagerly into the controversy, Esmond had frankly
taken the side of his family. It seemed to him that King James the
Third was undoubtedly King of England by right: and at his sister's
death it would be better to have him than a foreigner over us. No
man admired King William more; a hero and a conqueror, the bravest,
justest, wisest of men--but 'twas by the sword he conquered the
country, and held and governed it by the very same right that the
great Cromwell held it, who was truly and greatly a sovereign. But
that a foreign despotic Prince, out of Germany, who happened to be
descended from King James the First, should take possession of this
empire, seemed to Mr. Esmond a monstrous injustice--at least, every
Englishman had a right to protest, and the English Prince, the
heir-at-law, the first of all. What man of spirit with such a
cause would not back it? What man of honor with such a crown to
win would not fight for it? But that race was destined. That
Prince had himself against him, an enemy he could not overcome. He
never dared to draw his sword, though he had it. He let his
chances slip by as he lay in the lap of opera-girls, or snivelled
at the knees of priests asking pardon; and the blood of heroes, and
the devotedness of honest hearts, and endurance, courage, fidelity,
were all spent for him in vain.
But let us return to my Lady of Chelsey, who, when her son Esmond
announced to her ladyship that he proposed to make the ensuing
campaign, took leave of him with perfect alacrity, and was down to
piquet with her gentlewoman before he had well quitted the room on
his last visit. "Tierce to a king," were the last words he ever
heard her say: the game of life was pretty nearly over for the good
lady, and three months afterwards she took to her bed, where she
flickered out without any pain, so the Abbe Gauthier wrote over to
Mr. Esmond, then with his General on the frontier of France. The
Lady Castlewood was with her at her ending, and had written too,
but these letters must have been taken by a privateer in the packet
that brought them; for Esmond knew nothing of their contents until
his return to England.
My Lady Castlewood had left everything to Colonel Esmond, "as a
reparation for the wrong done to him;" 'twas writ in her will. But
her fortune was not much, for it never had been large, and the
honest viscountess had wisely sunk most of the money she had upon
an annuity which terminated with her life. However, there was the
house and furniture, plate and pictures at Chelsey, and a sum of
money lying at her merchant's, Sir Josiah Child, which altogether
would realize a sum of near three hundred pounds per annum, so that
Mr. Esmond found himself, if not rich, at least easy for life.
Likewise there were the famous diamonds which had been said to be
worth fabulous sums, though the goldsmith pronounced they would
fetch no more than four thousand pounds. These diamonds, however,
Colonel Esmond reserved, having a special use for them: but the
Chelsey house, plate, goods, &c., with the exception of a few
articles which he kept back, were sold by his orders; and the sums
resulting from the sale invested in the public securities so as to
realize the aforesaid annual income of three hundred pounds.
Having now something to leave, he made a will and despatched it
home. The army was now in presence of the enemy; and a great
battle expected every day. 'Twas known that the General-in-Chief
was in disgrace, and the parties at home strong against him, and
there was no stroke this great and resolute player would not
venture to recall his fortune when it seemed desperate. Frank
Castlewood was with Colonel Esmond; his General having gladly taken
the young nobleman on to his staff. His studies of fortifications
at Bruxelles were over by this time. The fort he was besieging had
yielded, I believe, and my lord had not only marched in with flying
colors, but marched out again. He used to tell his boyish
wickednesses with admirable humor, and was the most charming young
scapegrace in the army.
'Tis needless to say that Colonel Esmond had left every penny of
his little fortune to this boy. It was the Colonel's firm
conviction that the next battle would put an end to him: for he
felt aweary of the sun, and quite ready to bid that and the earth
farewell. Frank would not listen to his comrade's gloomy
forebodings, but swore they would keep his birthday at Castlewood
that autumn, after the campaign. He had heard of the engagement at
home. "If Prince Eugene goes to London," says Frank, "and Trix can
get hold of him, she'll jilt Ashburnham for his Highness. I tell
you, she used to make eyes at the Duke of Marlborough, when she was
only fourteen, and ogling poor little Blandford. I wouldn't marry
her, Harry--no, not if her eyes were twice as big. I'll take my
fun. I'll enjoy for the next three years every possible pleasure.
I'll sow my wild oats then, and marry some quiet, steady, modest,
sensible viscountess; hunt my harriers; and settle down at
Castlewood. Perhaps I'll represent the county--no, damme, YOU
shall represent the county. You have the brains of the family. By
the Lord, my dear old Harry, you have the best head and the kindest
heart in all the army; and every man says so--and when the Queen
dies, and the King comes back, why shouldn't you go to the House of
Commons, and be a Minister, and be made a Peer, and that sort of
thing? YOU be shot in the next action! I wager a dozen of
Burgundy you are not touched. Mohun is well of his wound. He is
always with Corporal John now. As soon as ever I see his ugly face
I'll spit in it. I took lessons of Father--of Captain Holt at
Bruxelles. What a man that is! He knows everything." Esmond bade
Frank have a care; that Father Holt's knowledge was rather
dangerous; not, indeed, knowing as yet how far the Father had
pushed his instructions with his young pupil.
The gazetteers and writers, both of the French and English side,
have given accounts sufficient of that bloody battle of Blarignies
or Malplaquet, which was the last and the hardest earned of the
victories of the great Duke of Marlborough. In that tremendous
combat near upon two hundred and fifty thousand men were engaged,
more than thirty thousand of whom were slain or wounded (the Allies
lost twice as many men as they killed of the French, whom they
conquered): and this dreadful slaughter very likely took place
because a great general's credit was shaken at home, and he thought
to restore it by a victory. If such were the motives which induced
the Duke of Marlborough to venture that prodigious stake, and
desperately sacrifice thirty thousand brave lives, so that he might
figure once more in a Gazette, and hold his places and pensions a
little longer, the event defeated the dreadful and selfish design,
for the victory was purchased at a cost which no nation, greedy of
glory as it may be, would willingly pay for any triumph. The
gallantry of the French was as remarkable as the furious bravery of
their assailants. We took a few score of their flags, and a few
pieces of their artillery; but we left twenty thousand of the
bravest soldiers of the world round about the intrenched lines,
from which the enemy was driven. He retreated in perfect good
order; the panic-spell seemed to be broke, under which the French
had labored ever since the disaster of Hochstedt; and, fighting now
on the threshold of their country, they showed an heroic ardor of
resistance, such as had never met us in the course of their
aggressive war. Had the battle been more successful, the conqueror
might have got the price for which he waged it. As it was, (and
justly, I think,) the party adverse to the Duke in England were
indignant at the lavish extravagance of slaughter, and demanded
more eagerly than ever the recall of a chief whose cupidity and
desperation might urge him further still. After this bloody fight
of Malplaquet, I can answer for it, that in the Dutch quarters and
our own, and amongst the very regiments and commanders whose
gallantry was most conspicuous upon this frightful day of carnage,
the general cry was, that there was enough of the war. The French
were driven back into their own boundary, and all their conquests
and booty of Flanders disgorged. As for the Prince of Savoy, with
whom our Commander-in-Chief, for reasons of his own, consorted more
closely than ever, 'twas known that he was animated not merely by a
political hatred, but by personal rage against the old French King:
the Imperial Generalissimo never forgot the slight put by Lewis
upon the Abbe de Savoie; and in the humiliation or ruin of his most
Christian Majesty, the Holy Roman Emperor found his account. But
what were these quarrels to us, the free citizens of England and
Holland! Despot as he was, the French monarch was yet the chief of
European civilization, more venerable in his age and misfortunes
than at the period of his most splendid successes; whilst his
opponent was but a semi-barbarous tyrant, with a pillaging,
murderous horde of Croats and Pandours, composing a half of his
army, filling our camp with their strange figures, bearded like the
miscreant Turks their neighbors, and carrying into Christian
warfare their native heathen habits of rapine, lust, and murder.
Why should the best blood in England and France be shed in order
that the Holy Roman and Apostolic master of these ruffians should
have his revenge over the Christian king? And it was to this end
we were fighting; for this that every village and family in England
was deploring the death of beloved sons and fathers. We dared not
speak to each other, even at table, of Malplaquet, so frightful
were the gaps left in our army by the cannon of that bloody action.
'Twas heartrending for an officer who had a heart to look down his
line on a parade-day afterwards, and miss hundreds of faces of
comrades--humble or of high rank--that had gathered but yesterday
full of courage and cheerfulness round the torn and blackened
flags. Where were our friends? As the great Duke reviewed us,
riding along our lines with his fine suite of prancing aides-de-
camp and generals, stopping here and there to thank an officer with
those eager smiles and bows of which his Grace was always lavish,
scarce a huzzah could be got for him, though Cadogan, with an oath,
rode up and cried--"D--n you, why don't you cheer?" But the men
had no heart for that: not one of them but was thinking, "Where's
my comrade?--where's my brother that fought by me, or my dear
captain that led me yesterday?" 'Twas the most gloomy pageant I
ever looked on; and the "Te Deum" sung by our chaplains, the most
woful and dreary satire.
Esmond's General added one more to the many marks of honor which he
had received in the front of a score of battles, and got a wound in
the groin, which laid him on his back; and you may be sure he
consoled himself by abusing the Commander-in-Chief, as he lay
groaning,--"Corporal John's as fond of me," he used to say, "as
King David was of General Uriah; and so he always gives me the post
of danger." He persisted, to his dying day, in believing that the
Duke intended he should be beat at Wynendael, and sent him
purposely with a small force, hoping that he might be knocked on
the head there. Esmond and Frank Castlewood both escaped without
hurt, though the division which our General commanded suffered even
more than any other, having to sustain not only the fury of the
enemy's cannonade, which was very hot and well served, but the
furious and repeated charges of the famous Maison du Roy, which we
had to receive and beat off again and again, with volleys of shot
and hedges of iron, and our four lines of musqueteers and pikemen.
They said the King of England charged us no less than twelve times
that day, along with the French Household. Esmond's late regiment,
General Webb's own Fusileers, served in the division which their
colonel commanded. The General was thrice in the centre of the
square of the Fusileers, calling the fire at the French charges,
and, after the action, his Grace the Duke of Berwick sent his
compliments to his old regiment and their Colonel for their
behavior on the field.
We drank my Lord Castlewood's health and majority, the 25th of
September, the army being then before Mons: and here Colonel Esmond
was not so fortunate as he had been in actions much more dangerous,
and was hit by a spent ball just above the place where his former
wound was, which caused the old wound to open again, fever,
spitting of blood, and other ugly symptoms, to ensue; and, in a
word, brought him near to death's door. The kind lad, his kinsman,
attended his elder comrade with a very praiseworthy
affectionateness and care until he was pronounced out of danger by
the doctors, when Frank went off, passed the winter at Bruxelles,
and besieged, no doubt, some other fortress there. Very few lads
would have given up their pleasures so long and so gayly as Frank
did; his cheerful prattle soothed many long days of Esmond's pain
and languor. Frank was supposed to be still at his kinsman's
bedside for a month after he had left it, for letters came from his
mother at home full of thanks to the younger gentleman for his care
of his elder brother (so it pleased Esmond's mistress now
affectionately to style him); nor was Mr. Esmond in a hurry to
undeceive her, when the good young fellow was gone for his
Christmas holiday. It was as pleasant to Esmond on his couch to
watch the young man's pleasure at the idea of being free, as to
note his simple efforts to disguise his satisfaction on going away.
There are days when a flask of champagne at a cabaret, and a red-
cheeked partner to share it, are too strong temptations for any
young fellow of spirit. I am not going to play the moralist, and
cry "Fie." For ages past, I know how old men preach, and what
young men practise; and that patriarchs have had their weak moments
too, long since Father Noah toppled over after discovering the
vine. Frank went off, then, to his pleasures at Bruxelles, in
which capital many young fellows of our army declared they found
infinitely greater diversion even than in London: and Mr. Henry
Esmond remained in his sick-room, where he writ a fine comedy, that
his mistress pronounced to be sublime, and that was acted no less
than three successive nights in London in the next year.
Here, as he lay nursing himself, ubiquitous Mr. Holt reappeared,
and stopped a whole month at Mons, where he not only won over
Colonel Esmond to the King's side in politics (that side being
always held by the Esmond family); but where he endeavored to
reopen the controversial question between the churches once more,
and to recall Esmond to that religion in which, in his infancy, he
had been baptized. Holt was a casuist, both dexterous and learned,
and presented the case between the English church and his own in
such a way that those who granted his premises ought certainly to
allow his conclusions. He touched on Esmond's delicate state of
health, chance of dissolution, and so forth; and enlarged upon the
immense benefits that the sick man was likely to forego--benefits
which the church of England did not deny to those of the Roman
communion, as how should she, being derived from that church, and
only an offshoot from it? But Mr. Esmond said that his church was
the church of his country, and to that he chose to remain faithful:
other people were welcome to worship and to subscribe any other set
of articles, whether at Rome or at Augsburg. But if the good
Father meant that Esmond should join the Roman communion for fear
of consequences, and that all England ran the risk of being damned
for heresy, Esmond, for one, was perfectly willing to take his
chance of the penalty along with the countless millions of his
fellow-countrymen, who were bred in the same faith, and along with
some of the noblest, the truest, the purest, the wisest, the most
pious and learned men and women in the world.
As for the political question, in that Mr. Esmond could agree with
the Father much more readily, and had come to the same conclusion,
though, perhaps, by a different way. The right divine, about which
Dr. Sacheverel and the High Church party in England were just now
making a bother, they were welcome to hold as they chose. If
Richard Cromwell, and his father before him had been crowned and
anointed (and bishops enough would have been found to do it), it
seemed to Mr. Esmond that they would have had the right divine just
as much as any Plantagenet, or Tudor, or Stuart. But the desire of
the country being unquestionably for an hereditary monarchy, Esmond
thought an English king out of St. Germains was better and fitter
than a German prince from Herrenhausen, and that if he failed to
satisfy the nation, some other Englishman might be found to take
his place; and so, though with no frantic enthusiasm, or worship of
that monstrous pedigree which the Tories chose to consider divine,
he was ready to say, "God save King James!" when Queen Anne went
the way of kings and commoners.
"I fear, Colonel, you are no better than a republican at heart,"
says the priest with a sigh.
"I am an Englishman," says Harry, "and take my country as I find
her. The will of the nation being for church and king, I am for
church and king too; but English church and English king; and that
is why your church isn't mine, though your king is."
Though they lost the day at Malplaquet, it was the French who were
elated by that action, whilst the conquerors were dispirited, by
it; and the enemy gathered together a larger army than ever, and
made prodigious efforts for the next campaign. Marshal Berwick was
with the French this year; and we heard that Mareschal Villars was
still suffering of his wound, was eager to bring our Duke to
action, and vowed he would fight us in his coach. Young Castlewood
came flying back from Bruxelles, as soon as he heard that fighting
was to begin; and the arrival of the Chevalier de St. George was
announced about May. "It's the King's third campaign, and it's
mine," Frank liked saying. He was come back a greater Jacobite
than ever, and Esmond suspected that some fair conspirators at
Bruxelles had been inflaming the young man's ardor. Indeed, he
owned that he had a message from the Queen, Beatrix's godmother,
who had given her name to Frank's sister the year before he and his
sovereign were born.
However desirous Marshal Villars might be to fight, my Lord Duke
did not seem disposed to indulge him this campaign. Last year his
Grace had been all for the Whigs and Hanoverians; but finding, on
going to England, his country cold towards himself, and the people
in a ferment of High Church loyalty, the Duke comes back to his
army cooled towards the Hanoverians, cautious with the
Imperialists, and particularly civil and polite towards the
Chevalier de St. George. 'Tis certain that messengers and letters
were continually passing between his Grace and his brave nephew,
the Duke of Berwick, in the opposite camp. No man's caresses were
more opportune than his Grace's, and no man ever uttered
expressions of regard and affection more generously. He professed
to Monsieur de Torcy, so Mr. St. John told the writer, quite an
eagerness to be cut in pieces for the exiled Queen and her family;
nay more, I believe, this year he parted with a portion of the most
precious part of himself--his money--which he sent over to the
royal exiles. Mr. Tunstal, who was in the Prince's service, was
twice or thrice in and out of our camp; the French, in theirs of
Arlieu and about Arras. A little river, the Canihe I think 'twas
called, (but this is writ away from books and Europe; and the only
map the writer hath of these scenes of his youth, bears no mark of
this little stream,) divided our pickets from the enemy's. Our
sentries talked across the stream, when they could make themselves
understood to each other, and when they could not, grinned, and
handed each other their brandy-flasks or their pouches of tobacco.
And one fine day of June, riding thither with the officer who
visited the outposts, (Colonel Esmond was taking an airing on
horseback, being too weak for military duty,) they came to this
river, where a number of English and Scots were assembled, talking
to the good-natured enemy on the other side.
Esmond was especially amused with the talk of one long fellow, with
a great curling red moustache, and blue eyes, that was half a dozen
inches taller than his swarthy little comrades on the French side
of the stream, and being asked by the Colonel, saluted him, and
said that he belonged to the Royal Cravats.
From his way of saying "Royal Cravat," Esmond at once knew that the
fellow's tongue had first wagged on the banks of the Liffey, and
not the Loire; and the poor soldier--a deserter probably--did not
like to venture very deep into French conversation, lest his
unlucky brogue should peep out. He chose to restrict himself to
such few expressions in the French language as he thought he had
mastered easily; and his attempt at disguise was infinitely
amusing. Mr. Esmond whistled Lillibullero, at which Teague's eyes
began to twinkle, and then flung him a dollar, when the poor boy
broke out with a "God bless--that is, Dieu benisse votre honor,"
that would infallibly have sent him to the provost-marshal had he
been on our side of the river.
Whilst this parley was going on, three officers on horseback, on
the French side, appeared at some little distance, and stopped as
if eying us, when one of them left the other two, and rode close up
to us who were by the stream. "Look, look!" says the Royal Cravat,
with great agitation, "pas lui, that's he; not him, l'autre," and
pointed to the distant officer on a chestnut horse, with a cuirass
shining in the sun, and over it a broad blue ribbon.
"Please to take Mr. Hamilton's services to my Lord Marlborough--my
Lord Duke," says the gentleman in English: and, looking to see that
the party were not hostilely disposed, he added, with a smile,
"There's a friend of yours, gentlemen, yonder; he bids me to say
that he saw some of your faces on the 11th of September last year."
As the gentleman spoke, the other two officers rode up, and came
quite close. We knew at once who it was. It was the King, then
two-and-twenty years old, tall and slim, with deep brown eyes, that
looked melancholy, though his lips wore a smile. We took off our
hats and saluted him. No man, sure, could see for the first time,
without emotion, the youthful inheritor of so much fame and
misfortune. It seemed to Mr. Esmond that the Prince was not unlike
young Castlewood, whose age and figure he resembled. The Chevalier
de St. George acknowledged the salute, and looked at us hard. Even
the idlers on our side of the river set up a hurrah. As for the
Royal Cravat, he ran to the Prince's stirrup, knelt down and kissed
his boot, and bawled and looked a hundred ejaculations and
blessings. The prince bade the aide-de-camp give him a piece of
money; and when the party saluting us had ridden away, Cravat spat
upon the piece of gold by way of benediction, and swaggered away,
pouching his coin and twirling his honest carroty moustache.
The officer in whose company Esmond was, the same little captain of
Handyside's regiment, Mr. Sterne, who had proposed the garden at
Lille, when my Lord Mohun and Esmond had their affair, was an
Irishman too, and as brave a little soul as ever wore a sword.
"Bedad," says Roger Sterne, "that long fellow spoke French so
beautiful that I shouldn't have known he wasn't a foreigner, till
he broke out with his hulla-ballooing, and only an Irish calf can
bellow like that." And Roger made another remark in his wild way,
in which there was sense as well as absurdity--"If that young
gentleman," says he, "would but ride over to our camp, instead of
Villars's, toss up his hat and say, 'Here am I, the King, who'll
follow me?' by the Lord, Esmond, the whole army would rise and
carry him home again, and beat Villars, and take Paris by the way."
The news of the Prince's visit was all through the camp quickly,
and scores of ours went down in hopes to see him. Major Hamilton,
whom we had talked with, sent back by a trumpet several silver
pieces for officers with us. Mr. Esmond received one of these; and
that medal, and a recompense not uncommon amongst Princes, were the
only rewards he ever had from a Royal person, whom he endeavored
not very long after to serve.
Esmond quitted the army almost immediately after this, following
his general home; and, indeed, being advised to travel in the fine
weather and attempt to take no further part in the campaign. But
he heard from the army, that of the many who crowded to see the
Chevalier de St. George, Frank Castlewood had made himself most
conspicuous: my Lord Viscount riding across the little stream
bareheaded to where the Prince was, and dismounting and kneeling
before him to do him homage. Some said that the Prince had
actually knighted him, but my lord denied that statement, though he
acknowledged the rest of the story, and said:--"From having been
out of favor with Corporal John," as he called the Duke, "before
his Grace warned him not to commit those follies, and smiled on him
cordially ever after."
"And he was so kind to me," Frank writ, "that I thought I would put
in a good word for Master Harry, but when I mentioned your name he
looked as black as thunder, and said he had never heard of you."
I GO HOME, AND HARP ON THE OLD STRING.
After quitting Mons and the army, and as he was waiting for a
packet at Ostend, Esmond had a letter from his young kinsman
Castlewood at Bruxelles, conveying intelligence whereof Frank
besought him to be the bearer to London, and which caused Colonel
Esmond no small anxiety.
The young scapegrace, being one-and-twenty years old, and being
anxious to sow his "wild otes," as he wrote, had married
Mademoiselle de Wertheim, daughter of Count de Wertheim,
Chamberlain to the Emperor, and having a post in the Household of
the Governor of the Netherlands. "P.S.," the young gentleman
wrote: "Clotilda is OLDER THAN ME, which perhaps may be objected to
her: but I am so OLD A RAIK that the age makes no difference, and I
am DETERMINED to reform. We were married at St. Gudule, by Father
Holt. She is heart and soul for the GOOD CAUSE. And here the cry
is Vif-le-Roy, which my mother will JOIN IN, and Trix TOO. Break
this news to 'em gently: and tell Mr. Finch, my agent, to press the
people for their rents, and send me the RYNO anyhow. Clotilda
sings, and plays on the Spinet BEAUTIFULLY. She is a fair beauty.
And if it's a son, you shall stand GODFATHER. I'm going to leave
the army, having had ENUF OF SOLDERING; and my Lord Duke RECOMMENDS
me. I shall pass the winter here: and stop at least until Clo's
lying in. I call her OLD CLO, but nobody else shall. She is the
cleverest woman in all Bruxelles: understanding painting, music,
poetry, and perfect at COOKERY AND PUDDENS. I borded with the
Count, that's how I came to know her. There are four Counts her
brothers. One an Abbey--three with the Prince's army. They have a
lawsuit for AN IMMENCE FORTUNE: but are now in a PORE WAY. Break
this to mother, who'll take anything from YOU. And write, and bid
Finch write AMEDIATELY. Hostel de l'Aigle Noire, Bruxelles,
So Frank had married a Roman Catholic lady, and an heir was
expected, and Mr. Esmond was to carry this intelligence to his
mistress at London. 'Twas a difficult embassy; and the Colonel
felt not a little tremor as he neared the capital.
He reached his inn late, and sent a messenger to Kensington to
announce his arrival and visit the next morning. The messenger
brought back news that the Court was at Windsor, and the fair
Beatrix absent and engaged in her duties there. Only Esmond's
mistress remained in her house at Kensington. She appeared in
court but once in the year; Beatrix was quite the mistress and
ruler of the little mansion, inviting the company thither, and
engaging in every conceivable frolic of town pleasure. Whilst her
mother, acting as the young lady's protectress and elder sister,
pursued her own path, which was quite modest and secluded.
As soon as ever Esmond was dressed (and he had been awake long
before the town), he took a coach for Kensington, and reached it so
early that he met his dear mistress coming home from morning
prayers. She carried her prayer-book, never allowing a footman to
bear it, as everybody else did: and it was by this simple sign
Esmond knew what her occupation had been. He called to the
coachman to stop, and jumped out as she looked towards him. She
wore her hood as usual, and she turned quite pale when she saw him.
To feel that kind little hand near to his heart seemed to give him
strength. They were soon at the door of her ladyship's house--and
With a sweet sad smile she took his hand and kissed it.
"How ill you have been: how weak you look, my dear Henry," she
'Tis certain the Colonel did look like a ghost, except that ghosts
do not look very happy, 'tis said. Esmond always felt so on
returning to her after absence, indeed whenever he looked in her
sweet kind face.
"I am come back to be nursed by my family," says he. "If Frank had
not taken care of me after my wound, very likely I should have gone
"Poor Frank, good Frank!" says his mother. "You'll always be kind
to him, my lord," she went on. "The poor child never knew he was
doing you a wrong."
"My lord!" cries out Colonel Esmond. "What do you mean, dear
"I am no lady," says she; "I am Rachel Esmond, Francis Esmond's
widow, my lord. I cannot bear that title. Would we never had
taken it from him who has it now. But we did all in our power,
Henry: we did all in our power; and my lord and I--that is--"
"Who told you this tale, dearest lady?" asked the Colonel.
"Have you not had the letter I writ you? I writ to you at Mons
directly I heard it," says Lady Esmond.
"And from whom?" again asked Colonel Esmond--and his mistress then
told him that on her death-bed the Dowager Countess, sending for
her, had presented her with this dismal secret as a legacy. "'Twas
very malicious of the Dowager," Lady Esmond said, "to have had it
so long, and to have kept the truth from me." "Cousin Rachel," she
said,--and Esmond's mistress could not forbear smiling as she told
the story--"Cousin Rachel," cries the Dowager, "I have sent for
you, as the doctors say I may go off any day in this dysentery; and
to ease my conscience of a great load that has been on it. You
always have been a poor creature and unfit for great honor, and
what I have to say won't, therefore, affect you so much. You must
know, Cousin Rachel, that I have left my house, plate, and
furniture, three thousand pounds in money, and my diamonds that my
late revered Saint and Sovereign, King James, presented me with, to
my Lord Viscount Castlewood."
"To my Frank?" says Lady Castlewood; "I was in hopes--"
To Viscount Castlewood, my dear; Viscount Castlewood and Baron
Esmond of Shandon in the Kingdom of Ireland, Earl and Marquis of
Esmond under patent of his Majesty King James the Second, conferred
upon my husband the late Marquis--for I am Marchioness of Esmond
before God and man."
"And have you left poor Harry nothing, dear Marchioness?" asks Lady
Castlewood (she hath told me the story completely since with her
quiet arch way; the most charming any woman ever had: and I set
down the narrative here at length, so as to have done with it).
"And have you left poor Harry nothing?" asks my dear lady: "for you
know, Henry," she says with her sweet smile, "I used always to pity
Esau--and I think I am on his side--though papa tried very hard to
convince me the other way."
"Poor Harry!" says the old lady. "So you want something left to
poor Harry: he,--he! (reach me the drops, cousin). Well, then, my
dear, since you want poor Harry to have a fortune, you must
understand that ever since the year 1691, a week after the battle
of the Boyne, where the Prince of Orange defeated his royal
sovereign and father, for which crime he is now suffering in flames
(ugh! ugh!) Henry Esmond hath been Marquis of Esmond and Earl of
Castlewood in the United Kingdom, and Baron and Viscount Castlewood
of Shandon in Ireland, and a Baronet--and his eldest son will be,
by courtesy, styled Earl of Castlewood--he! he! What do you think
of that, my dear?"
"Gracious mercy! how long have you known this?" cries the other
lady (thinking perhaps that the old Marchioness was wandering in
"My husband, before he was converted, was a wicked wretch," the
sick sinner continued. "When he was in the Low Countries he
seduced a weaver's daughter; and added to his wickedness by
marrying her. And then he came to this country and married me--a
poor girl--a poor innocent young thing--I say,"--"though she was
past forty, you know, Harry, when she married: and as for being
innocent"--"Well," she went on, "I knew nothing of my lord's
wickedness for three years after our marriage, and after the burial
of our poor little boy I had it done over again, my dear: I had
myself married by Father Holt in Castlewood chapel, as soon as ever
I heard the creature was dead--and having a great illness then,
arising from another sad disappointment I had, the priest came and
told me that my lord had a son before our marriage, and that the
child was at nurse in England; and I consented to let the brat be
brought home, and a queer little melancholy child it was when it
"Our intention was to make a priest of him: and he was bred for
this, until you perverted him from it, you wicked woman. And I had
again hopes of giving an heir to my lord, when he was called away
upon the King's business, and died fighting gloriously at the Boyne
"Should I be disappointed--I owed your husband no love, my dear,
for he had jilted me in the most scandalous way and I thought there
would be time to declare the little weaver's son for the true heir.
But I was carried off to prison, where your husband was so kind to
me--urging all his friends to obtain my release, and using all his
credit in my favor--that I relented towards him, especially as my
director counselled me to be silent; and that it was for the good
of the King's service that the title of our family should continue
with your husband the late viscount, whereby his fidelity would be
always secured to the King. And a proof of this is, that a year
before your husband's death, when he thought of taking a place
under the Prince of Orange, Mr. Holt went to him, and told him what
the state of the matter was, and obliged him to raise a large sum
for his Majesty; and engaged him in the true cause so heartily,
that we were sure of his support on any day when it should be
considered advisable to attack the usurper. Then his sudden death
came; and there was a thought of declaring the truth. But 'twas
determined to be best for the King's service to let the title still
go with the younger branch; and there's no sacrifice a Castlewood
wouldn't make for that cause, my dear.
"As for Colonel Esmond, he knew the truth already." ("And then,
Harry," my mistress said, "she told me of what had happened at my
dear husband's death-bed"). "He doth not intend to take the title,
though it belongs to him. But it eases my conscience that you
should know the truth, my dear. And your son is lawfully Viscount
Castlewood so long as his cousin doth not claim the rank."
This was the substance of the Dowager's revelation. Dean Atterbury
had knowledge of it, Lady Castlewood said, and Esmond very well
knows how: that divine being the clergyman for whom the late lord
had sent on his death-bed: and when Lady Castlewood would instantly
have written to her son, and conveyed the truth to him, the Dean's
advice was that a letter should be writ to Colonel Esmond rather;
that the matter should be submitted to his decision, by which alone
the rest of the family were bound to abide.
"And can my dearest lady doubt what that will be?" says the Colonel.
"It rests with you, Harry, as the head of our house."
"It was settled twelve years since, by my dear lord's bedside,"
says Colonel Esmond. "The children must know nothing of this.
Frank and his heirs after him must bear our name. 'Tis his
rightfully; I have not even a proof of that marriage of my father
and mother, though my poor lord, on his death-bed, told me that
Father Holt had brought such a proof to Castlewood. I would not
seek it when I was abroad. I went and looked at my poor mother's
grave in her convent. What matter to her now? No court of law on
earth, upon my mere word, would deprive my Lord Viscount and set me
up. I am the head of the house, dear lady; but Frank is Viscount
of Castlewood still. And rather than disturb him, I would turn
monk, or disappear in America."
As he spoke so to his dearest mistress, for whom he would have been
willing to give up his life, or to make any sacrifice any day, the
fond creature flung herself down on her knees before him, and
kissed both his hands in an outbreak of passionate love and
gratitude, such as could not but melt his heart, and make him feel
very proud and thankful that God had given him the power to show
his love for her, and to prove it by some little sacrifice on his
own part. To be able to bestow benefits or happiness on those one
loves is sure the greatest blessing conferred upon a man--and what
wealth or name, or gratification of ambition or vanity, could
compare with the pleasure Esmond now had of being able to confer
some kindness upon his best and dearest friends?
"Dearest saint," says he--"purest soul, that has had so much to
suffer, that has blest the poor lonely orphan with such a treasure
of love. 'Tis for me to kneel, not for you: 'tis for me to be
thankful that I can make you happy. Hath my life any other aim?
Blessed be God that I can serve you! What pleasure, think you,
could all the world give me compared to that?"
"Don't raise me," she said, in a wild way, to Esmond, who would
have lifted her. "Let me kneel--let me kneel, and--and--worship
Before such a partial judge as Esmond's dear mistress owned herself
to be, any cause which he might plead was sure to be given in his
favor; and accordingly he found little difficulty in reconciling
her to the news whereof he was bearer, of her son's marriage to a
foreign lady, Papist though she was. Lady Castlewood never could
be brought to think so ill of that religion as other people in
England thought of it: she held that ours was undoubtedly a branch
of the Catholic church, but that the Roman was one of the main
stems on which, no doubt, many errors had been grafted (she was,
for a woman, extraordinarily well versed in this controversy,
having acted, as a girl, as secretary to her father, the late dean,
and written many of his sermons, under his dictation); and if Frank
had chosen to marry a lady of the church of south Europe, as she
would call the Roman communion, there was no need why she should
not welcome her as a daughter-in-law: and accordingly she wrote to
her new daughter a very pretty, touching letter (as Esmond thought,
who had cognizance of it before it went), in which the only hint of
reproof was a gentle remonstrance that her son had not written to
herself, to ask a fond mother's blessing for that step which he was
about taking. "Castlewood knew very well," so she wrote to her
son, "that she never denied him anything in her power to give, much
less would she think of opposing a marriage that was to make his
happiness, as she trusted, and keep him out of wild courses, which
had alarmed her a good deal:" and she besought him to come quickly
to England, to settle down in his family house of Castlewood ("It
is his family house," says she, to Colonel Esmond, "though only his
own house by your forbearance") and to receive the accompt of her
stewardship during his ten years' minority. By care and frugality,
she had got the estate into a better condition than ever it had
been since the Parliamentary wars; and my lord was now master of a
pretty, small income, not encumbered of debts, as it had been,
during his father's ruinous time. "But in saving my son's
fortune," says she, "I fear I have lost a great part of my hold on
him." And, indeed, this was the case: her ladyship's daughter
complaining that their mother did all for Frank, and nothing for
her; and Frank himself being dissatisfied at the narrow, simple way
of his mother's living at Walcote, where he had been brought up
more like a poor parson's son than a young nobleman that was to
make a figure in the world. 'Twas this mistake in his early
training, very likely, that set him so eager upon pleasure when he
had it in his power; nor is he the first lad that has been spoiled
by the over-careful fondness of women. No training is so useful
for children, great or small, as the company of their betters in
rank or natural parts; in whose society they lose the overweening
sense of their own importance, which stay-at-home people very
But, as a prodigal that's sending in a schedule of his debts to his
friends, never puts all down, and, you may be sure, the rogue keeps
back some immense swingeing bill, that he doesn't dare to own; so
the poor Frank had a very heavy piece of news to break to his
mother, and which he hadn't the courage to introduce into his first
confession. Some misgivings Esmond might have, upon receiving
Frank's letter, and knowing into what hands the boy had fallen; but
whatever these misgivings were, he kept them to himself, not caring
to trouble his mistress with any fears that might be groundless.
However, the next mail which came from Bruxelles, after Frank had
received his mother's letters there, brought back a joint
composition from himself and his wife, who could spell no better
than her young scapegrace of a husband, full of expressions of
thanks, love, and duty to the Dowager Viscountess, as my poor lady
now was styled; and along with this letter (which was read in a
family council, namely, the Viscountess, Mistress Beatrix, and the
writer of this memoir, and which was pronounced to be vulgar by the
maid of honor, and felt to be so by the other two), there came a
private letter for Colonel Esmond from poor Frank, with another
dismal commission for the Colonel to execute, at his best
opportunity; and this was to announce that Frank had seen fit, "by
the exhortation of Mr. Holt, the influence of his Clotilda, and the
blessing of heaven and the saints," says my lord, demurely, "to
change his religion, and be received into the bosom of that church
of which his sovereign, many of his family, and the greater part of
the civilized world, were members." And his lordship added a
postscript, of which Esmond knew the inspiring genius very well,
for it had the genuine twang of the Seminary, and was quite unlike
poor Frank's ordinary style of writing and thinking; in which he
reminded Colonel Esmond that he too was, by birth, of that church;
and that his mother and sister should have his lordship's prayers
to the saints (an inestimable benefit, truly!) for their conversion.
If Esmond had wanted to keep this secret, he could not; for a day
or two after receiving this letter, a notice from Bruxelles
appeared in the Post-Boy and other prints, announcing that "a young
Irish lord, the Viscount C-stlew--d, just come to his majority, and
who had served the last campaigns with great credit, as aide-de-
camp to his Grace the Duke of Marlborough, had declared for the
Popish religion at Bruxelles, and had walked in a procession
barefoot, with a wax-taper in his hand." The notorious Mr. Holt,
who had been employed as a Jacobite agent during the last reign,
and many times pardoned by King William, had been, the Post-Boy
said, the agent of this conversion.
The Lady Castlewood was as much cast down by this news as Miss
Beatrix was indignant at it. "So," says she, "Castlewood is no
longer a home for us, mother. Frank's foreign wife will bring her
confessor, and there will be frogs for dinner; and all Tusher's and
my grandfather's sermons are flung away upon my brother. I used to
tell you that you killed him with the catechism, and that he would
turn wicked as soon as he broke from his mammy's leading-strings.
Oh, mother, you would not believe that the young scapegrace was
playing you tricks, and that sneak of a Tusher was not a fit guide
for him. Oh, those parsons, I hate 'em all!" says Mistress
Beatrix, clapping her hands together; "yes, whether they wear
cassocks and buckles, or beards and bare feet. There's a horrid
Irish wretch who never misses a Sunday at Court, and who pays me
compliments there, the horrible man; and if you want to know what
parsons are, you should see his behavior, and hear him talk of his
own cloth. They're all the same, whether they're bishops, or
bonzes, or Indian fakirs. They try to domineer, and they frighten
us with kingdom come; and they wear a sanctified air in public, and
expect us to go down on our knees and ask their blessing; and they
intrigue, and they grasp, and they backbite, and they slander worse
than the worst courtier or the wickedest old woman. I heard this
Mr. Swift sneering at my Lord Duke of Marlborough's courage the
other day. He! that Teague from Dublin! because his Grace is not
in favor, dares to say this of him; and he says this that it may
get to her Majesty's ear, and to coax and wheedle Mrs. Masham.
They say the Elector of Hanover has a dozen of mistresses in his
court at Herrenhausen, and if he comes to be king over us, I wager
that the bishops and Mr. Swift, that wants to be one, will coax and
wheedle them. Oh, those priests and their grave airs! I'm sick of
their square toes and their rustling cassocks. I should like to go
to a country where there was not one, or turn Quaker, and get rid
of 'em; and I would, only the dress is not becoming, and I've much
too pretty a figure to hide it. Haven't I, cousin?" and here she
glanced at her person and the looking-glass, which told her rightly
that a more beautiful shape and face never were seen.
"I made that onslaught on the priests," says Miss Beatrix,
afterwards, "in order to divert my poor dear mother's anguish about
Frank. Frank is as vain as a girl, cousin. Talk of us girls being
vain, what are WE to you? It was easy to see that the first woman
who chose would make a fool of him, or the first robe--I count a
priest and a woman all the same. We are always caballing; we are
not answerable for the fibs we tell; we are always cajoling and
coaxing, or threatening; and we are always making mischief, Colonel
Esmond--mark my word for that, who know the world, sir, and have to
make my way in it. I see as well as possible how Frank's marriage
hath been managed. The Count, our papa-in-law, is always away at
the coffee-house. The Countess, our mother, is always in the
kitchen looking after the dinner. The Countess, our sister, is at
the spinet. When my lord comes to say he is going on the campaign,
the lovely Clotilda bursts into tears, and faints--so; he catches
her in his arms--no, sir, keep your distance, cousin, if you
please--she cries on his shoulder, and he says, 'Oh, my divine, my
adored, my beloved Clotilda, are you sorry to part with me?' 'Oh,
my Francisco,' says she, 'oh my lord!' and at this very instant
mamma and a couple of young brothers, with moustaches and long
rapiers, come in from the kitchen, where they have been eating
bread and onions. Mark my word, you will have all this woman's
relations at Castlewood three months after she has arrived there.
The old count and countess, and the young counts and all the little
countesses her sisters. Counts! every one of these wretches says
he is a count. Guiscard, that stabbed Mr. Harvey, said he was a
count; and I believe he was a barber. All Frenchmen are barbers--
Fiddledee! don't contradict me--or else dancing-masters, or else
priests." And so she rattled on.
"Who was it taught YOU to dance, Cousin Beatrix?" says the Colonel.
She laughed out the air of a minuet, and swept a low curtsy, coming
up to the recover with the prettiest little foot in the world
pointed out. Her mother came in as she was in this attitude; my
lady had been in her closet, having taken poor Frank's conversion
in a very serious way; the madcap girl ran up to her mother, put
her arms round her waist, kissed her, tried to make her dance, and
said: "Don't be silly, you kind little mamma, and cry about Frank
turning Papist. What a figure he must be, with a white sheet and a
candle, walking in a procession barefoot!" And she kicked off her
little slippers (the wonderfullest little shoes with wonderful tall
red heels: Esmond pounced upon one as it fell close beside him),
and she put on the drollest little moue, and marched up and down
the room holding Esmond's cane by way of taper. Serious as her
mood was, Lady Castlewood could not refrain from laughing; and as
for Esmond he looked on with that delight with which the sight of
this fair creature always inspired him: never had he seen any woman
so arch, so brilliant, and so beautiful.
Having finished her march, she put out her foot for her slipper.
The Colonel knelt down: "If you will be Pope I will turn Papist,"
says he; and her Holiness gave him gracious leave to kiss the
little stockinged foot before he put the slipper on.
Mamma's feet began to pat on the floor during this operation, and
Beatrix, whose bright eyes nothing escaped, saw that little mark of
impatience. She ran up and embraced her mother, with her usual cry
of, "Oh, you silly little mamma: your feet are quite as pretty as
mine," says she: "they are, cousin, though she hides 'em; but the
shoemaker will tell you that he makes for both off the same last."
"You are taller than I am, dearest," says her mother, blushing over
her whole sweet face--"and--and it is your hand, my dear, and not
your foot he wants you to give him;" and she said it with a
hysteric laugh, that had more of tears than laughter in it; laying
her head on her daughter's fair shoulder, and hiding it there.
They made a very pretty picture together, and looked like a pair of
sisters--the sweet simple matron seeming younger than her years,
and her daughter, if not older, yet somehow, from a commanding
manner and grace which she possessed above most women, her mother's
superior and protectress.
"But oh!" cries my mistress, recovering herself after this scene,
and returning to her usual sad tone, "'tis a shame that we should
laugh and be making merry on a day when we ought to be down on our
knees and asking pardon."
"Asking pardon for what?" says saucy Mrs. Beatrix--"because Frank
takes it into his head to fast on Fridays and worship images? You
know if you had been born a Papist, mother, a Papist you would have
remained to the end of your days. 'Tis the religion of the King
and of some of the best quality. For my part, I'm no enemy to it,
and think Queen Bess was not a penny better than Queen Mary."
"Hush, Beatrix! Do not jest with sacred things, and remember of
what parentage you come," cries my lady. Beatrix was ordering her
ribbons, and adjusting her tucker, and performing a dozen
provokingly pretty ceremonies, before the glass. The girl was no
hypocrite at least. She never at that time could be brought to
think but of the world and her beauty; and seemed to have no more
sense of devotion than some people have of music, that cannot
distinguish one air from another. Esmond saw this fault in her, as
he saw many others--a bad wife would Beatrix Esmond make, he
thought, for any man under the degree of a Prince. She was born to
shine in great assemblies, and to adorn palaces, and to command
everywhere--to conduct an intrigue of politics, or to glitter in a
queen's train. But to sit at a homely table, and mend the
stockings of a poor man's children! that was no fitting duty for
her, or at least one that she wouldn't have broke her heart in
trying to do. She was a princess, though she had scarce a shilling
to her fortune; and one of her subjects--the most abject and
devoted wretch, sure, that ever drivelled at a woman's knees--was
this unlucky gentleman; who bound his good sense, and reason, and
independence, hand and foot, and submitted them to her.
And who does not know how ruthlessly women will tyrannize when they
are let to domineer? and who does not know how useless advice is?
I could give good counsel to my descendants, but I know they'll
follow their own way, for all their grandfather's sermon. A man
gets his own experience about women, and will take nobody's
hearsay; nor, indeed, is the young fellow worth a fig that would.
'Tis I that am in love with my mistress, not my old grandmother
that counsels me: 'tis I that have fixed the value of the thing I
would have, and know the price I would pay for it. It may be
worthless to you, but 'tis all my life to me. Had Esmond possessed
the Great Mogul's crown and all his diamonds, or all the Duke of
Marlborough's money, or all the ingots sunk at Vigo, he would have
given them all for this woman. A fool he was, if you will; but so
is a sovereign a fool, that will give half a principality for a
little crystal as big as a pigeon's egg, and called a diamond: so
is a wealthy nobleman a fool, that will face danger or death, and
spend half his life, and all his tranquillity, caballing for a blue
ribbon; so is a Dutch merchant a fool, that hath been known to pay
ten thousand crowns for a tulip. There's some particular prize we
all of us value, and that every man of spirit will venture his life
for. With this, it may be to achieve a great reputation for
learning; with that, to be a man of fashion, and the admiration of
the town; with another, to consummate a great work of art or
poetry, and go to immortality that way; and with another, for a
certain time of his life, the sole object and aim is a woman.
Whilst Esmond was under the domination of this passion, he
remembers many a talk he had with his intimates, who used to rally
Our Knight of the Rueful Countenance at his devotion, whereof he
made no disguise, to Beatrix; and it was with replies such as the
above he met his friends' satire. "Granted, I am a fool," says he,
"and no better than you; but you are no better than I. You have
your folly you labor for; give me the charity of mine. What
flatteries do you, Mr. St. John, stoop to whisper in the ears of a
queen's favorite? What nights of labor doth not the laziest man in
the world endure, foregoing his bottle, and his boon companions,
foregoing Lais, in whose lap he would like to be yawning, that he
may prepare a speech full of lies, to cajole three hundred stupid
country-gentlemen in the House of Commons, and get the hiccupping
cheers of the October Club! What days will you spend in your
jolting chariot." (Mr. Esmond often rode to Windsor, and
especially, of later days, with the secretary.) "What hours will
you pass on your gouty feet--and how humbly will you kneel down to
present a despatch--you, the proudest man in the world, that has
not knelt to God since you were a boy, and in that posture whisper,
flatter, adore almost, a stupid woman, that's often boozy with too
much meat and drink, when Mr. Secretary goes for his audience! If
my pursuit is vanity, sure yours is too." And then the Secretary,
would fly out in such a rich flow of eloquence, as this pen cannot
pretend to recall; advocating his scheme of ambition, showing the
great good he would do for his country when he was the undisputed
chief of it; backing his opinion with a score of pat sentences from
Greek and Roman authorities (of which kind of learning he made
rather an ostentatious display), and scornfully vaunting the very
arts and meannesses by which fools were to be made to follow him,
opponents to be bribed or silenced, doubters converted, and enemies
"I am Diogenes," says Esmond, laughing, "that is taken up for a
ride in Alexander's chariot. I have no desire to vanquish Darius
or to tame Bucephalus. I do not want what you want, a great name
or a high place: to have them would bring me no pleasure. But my
moderation is taste, not virtue; and I know that what I do want is
as vain as that which you long after. Do not grudge me my vanity,
if I allow yours; or rather, let us laugh at both indifferently,
and at ourselves, and at each other."
"If your charmer holds out," says St. John, "at this rate she may
keep you twenty years besieging her, and surrender by the time you
are seventy, and she is old enough to be a grandmother. I do not
say the pursuit of a particular woman is not as pleasant a pastime
as any other kind of hunting," he added; "only, for my part, I find
the game won't run long enough. They knock under too soon--that's
the fault I find with 'em."
"The game which you pursue is in the habit of being caught, and
used to being pulled down," says Mr. Esmond.
"But Dulcinea del Toboso is peerless, eh?" says the other. "Well,
honest Harry, go and attack windmills--perhaps thou art not more
mad than other people," St. John added, with a sigh.
A PAPER OUT OF THE "SPECTATOR."
Doth any young gentleman of my progeny, who may read his old
grandfather's papers, chance to be presently suffering under the
passion of Love? There is a humiliating cure, but one that is easy
and almost specific for the malady--which is, to try an alibi.
Esmond went away from his mistress and was cured a half-dozen
times; he came back to her side, and instantly fell ill again of
the fever. He vowed that he could leave her and think no more of
her, and so he could pretty well, at least, succeed in quelling
that rage and longing he had whenever he was with her; but as soon
as he returned he was as bad as ever again. Truly a ludicrous and
pitiable object, at least exhausting everybody's pity but his
dearest mistress's, Lady Castlewood's, in whose tender breast he
reposed all his dreary confessions, and who never tired of hearing
him and pleading for him.
Sometimes Esmond would think there was hope. Then again he would
be plagued with despair, at some impertinence or coquetry of his
mistress. For days they would be like brother and sister, or the
dearest friends--she, simple, fond, and charming--he, happy beyond
measure at her good behavior. But this would all vanish on a
sudden. Either he would be too pressing, and hint his love, when
she would rebuff him instantly, and give his vanity a box on the
ear; or he would be jealous, and with perfect good reason, of some
new admirer that had sprung up, or some rich young gentleman newly
arrived in the town, that this incorrigible flirt would set her
nets and baits to draw in. If Esmond remonstrated, the little
rebel would say--"Who are you? I shall go my own way, sirrah, and
that way is towards a husband, and I don't want YOU on the way. I
am for your betters, Colonel, for your betters: do you hear that?
You might do if you had an estate and were younger; only eight
years older than I, you say! pish, you are a hundred years older.
You are an old, old Graveairs, and I should make you miserable,
that would be the only comfort I should have in marrying you. But
you have not money enough to keep a cat decently after you have
paid your man his wages, and your landlady her bill. Do you think
I am going to live in a lodging, and turn the mutton at a string
whilst your honor nurses the baby? Fiddlestick, and why did you
not get this nonsense knocked out of your head when you were in the
wars? You are come back more dismal and dreary than ever. You and
mamma are fit for each other. You might be Darby and Joan, and
play cribbage to the end of your lives."
"At least you own to your worldliness, my poor Trix," says her
"Worldliness. Oh, my pretty lady! Do you think that I am a child
in the nursery, and to be frightened by Bogey! Worldliness, to be
sure; and pray, madam, where is the harm of wishing to be
comfortable? When you are gone, you dearest old woman, or when I
am tired of you and have run away from you, where shall I go?
Shall I go and be head nurse to my Popish sister-in-law, take the
children their physic, and whip 'em, and put 'em to bed when they
are naughty? Shall I be Castlewood's upper servant, and perhaps
marry Tom Tusher? Merci! I have been long enough Frank's humble
servant. Why am I not a man? I have ten times his brains, and had
I worn the--well, don't let your ladyship be frightened--had I worn
a sword and periwig instead of this mantle and commode to which
nature has condemned me--(though 'tis a pretty stuff, too--Cousin
Esmond! you will go to the Exchange to-morrow, and get the exact
counterpart of this ribbon, sir; do you hear?)--I would have made
our name talked about. So would Graveairs here have made something
out of our name if he had represented it. My Lord Graveairs would
have done very well. Yes, you have a very pretty way, and would
have made a very decent, grave speaker." And here she began to
imitate Esmond's way of carrying himself and speaking to his face,
and so ludicrously that his mistress burst out a-laughing, and even
he himself could see there was some likeness in the fantastical
"Yes," says she, "I solemnly vow, own, and confess, that I want a
good husband. Where's the harm of one? My face is my fortune.
Who'll come?--buy, buy, buy! I cannot toil, neither can I spin,
but I can play twenty-three games on the cards. I can dance the
last dance, I can hunt the stag, and I think I could shoot flying.
I can talk as wicked as any woman of my years, and know enough
stories to amuse a sulky husband for at least one thousand and one
nights. I have a pretty taste for dress, diamonds, gambling, and
old China. I love sugar-plums, Malines lace (that you brought me,
cousin, is very pretty), the opera, and everything that is useless
and costly. I have got a monkey and a little black boy--Pompey,
sir, go and give a dish of chocolate to Colonel Graveairs,--and a
parrot and a spaniel, and I must have a husband. Cupid, you hear?"
"Iss, Missis!" says Pompey, a little grinning negro Lord
Peterborrow gave her, with a bird of Paradise in his turbant, and a
collar with his mistress's name on it.
"Iss, Missis!" says Beatrix, imitating the child. "And if husband
not come, Pompey must go fetch one."
And Pompey went away grinning with his chocolate tray as Miss
Beatrix ran up to her mother and ended her sally of mischief in her
common way, with a kiss--no wonder that upon paying such a penalty
her fond judge pardoned her.
When Mr. Esmond came home, his health was still shattered; and he
took a lodging near to his mistresses, at Kensington, glad enough
to be served by them, and to see them day after day. He was