Part 8 out of 10
enabled to see a little company--and of the sort he liked best.
Mr. Steele and Mr. Addison both did him the honor to visit him; and
drank many a glass of good claret at his lodging, whilst their
entertainer, through his wound, was kept to diet drink and gruel.
These gentlemen were Whigs, and great admirers of my Lord Duke of
Marlborough; and Esmond was entirely of the other party. But their
different views of politics did not prevent the gentlemen from
agreeing in private, nor from allowing, on one evening when
Esmond's kind old patron, Lieutenant-General Webb, with a stick and
a crutch, hobbled up to the Colonel's lodging (which was prettily
situate at Knightsbridge, between London and Kensington, and
looking over the Gardens), that the Lieutenant-General was a noble
and gallant soldier--and even that he had been hardly used in the
Wynendael affair. He took his revenge in talk, that must be
confessed; and if Mr. Addison had had a mind to write a poem about
Wynendael, he might have heard from the commander's own lips the
story a hundred times over.
Mr. Esmond, forced to be quiet, betook himself to literature for a
relaxation, and composed his comedy, whereof the prompter's copy
lieth in my walnut escritoire, sealed up and docketed, "The
Faithful Fool, a Comedy, as it was performed by her Majesty's
Servants." 'Twas a very sentimental piece; and Mr. Steele, who had
more of that kind of sentiment than Mr. Addison, admired it, whilst
the other rather sneered at the performance; though he owned that,
here and there, it contained some pretty strokes. He was bringing
out his own play of "Cato" at the time, the blaze of which quite
extinguished Esmond's farthing candle; and his name was never put
to the piece, which was printed as by a Person of Quality. Only
nine copies were sold, though Mr. Dennis, the great critic, praised
it, and said 'twas a work of great merit; and Colonel Esmond had
the whole impression burned one day in a rage, by Jack Lockwood,
All this comedy was full of bitter satiric strokes against a
certain young lady. The plot of the piece was quite a new one. A
young woman was represented with a great number of suitors,
selecting a pert fribble of a peer, in place of the hero (but ill-
acted, I think, by Mr. Wilks, the Faithful Fool,) who persisted in
admiring her. In the fifth act, Teraminta was made to discover the
merits of Eugenio (the F. F.), and to feel a partiality for him too
late; for he announced that he had bestowed his hand and estate
upon Rosaria, a country lass, endowed with every virtue. But it
must be owned that the audience yawned through the play; and that
it perished on the third night, with only half a dozen persons to
behold its agonies. Esmond and his two mistresses came to the
first night, and Miss Beatrix fell asleep; whilst her mother, who
had not been to a play since King James the Second's time, thought
the piece, though not brilliant, had a very pretty moral.
Mr. Esmond dabbled in letters, and wrote a deal of prose and verse
at this time of leisure. When displeased with the conduct of Miss
Beatrix, he would compose a satire, in which he relieved his mind.
When smarting under the faithlessness of women, he dashed off a
copy of verses, in which he held the whole sex up to scorn. One
day, in one of these moods, he made a little joke, in which
(swearing him to secrecy) he got his friend Dick Steele to help
him; and, composing a paper, he had it printed exactly like
Steele's paper, and by his printer, and laid on his mistress's
breakfast-table the following--
"No. 341. "Tuesday, April 1, 1712.
Mutato nomine de te Fabula narratur.--HORACE.
Thyself the morain of the fable see.--CREECH.
"Jocasta is known as a woman of learning and fashion, and as one of
the most amiable persons of this court and country. She is at home
two mornings of the week, and all the wits and a few of the
beauties of London flock to her assemblies. When she goes abroad
to Tunbridge or the Bath, a retinue of adorers rides the journey
with her; and besides the London beaux, she has a crowd of admirers
at the Wells, the polite amongst the natives of Sussex and Somerset
pressing round her tea-tables, and being anxious for a nod from her
chair. Jocasta's acquaintance is thus very numerous. Indeed, 'tis
one smart writer's work to keep her visiting-book--a strong footman
is engaged to carry it; and it would require a much stronger head
even than Jocasta's own to remember the names of all her dear
"Either at Epsom Wells or at Tunbridge (for of this important
matter Jocasta cannot be certain) it was her ladyship's fortune to
become acquainted with a young gentleman, whose conversation was so
sprightly, and manners amiable, that she invited the agreeable
young spark to visit her if ever he came to London, where her house
in Spring Garden should be open to him. Charming as he was, and
without any manner of doubt a pretty fellow, Jocasta hath such a
regiment of the like continually marching round her standard, that
'tis no wonder her attention is distracted amongst them. And so,
though this gentleman made a considerable impression upon her, and
touched her heart for at least three-and-twenty minutes, it must be
owned that she has forgotten his name. He is a dark man, and may
be eight-and-twenty years old. His dress is sober, though of rich
materials. He has a mole on his forehead over his left eye; has a
blue ribbon to his cane and sword, and wears his own hair.
"Jocasta was much flattered by beholding her admirer (for that
everybody admires who sees her is a point which she never can for a
moment doubt) in the next pew to her at St. James's Church last
Sunday; and the manner in which he appeared to go to sleep during
the sermon--though from under his fringed eyelids it was evident he
was casting glances of respectful rapture towards Jocasta--deeply
moved and interested her. On coming out of church, he found his
way to her chair, and made her an elegant bow as she stepped into
it. She saw him at Court afterwards, where he carried himself with
a most distinguished air, though none of her acquaintances knew his
name; and the next night he was at the play, where her ladyship was
pleased to acknowledge him from the side-box.
"During the whole of the comedy she racked her brains so to
remember his name that she did not hear a word of the piece: and
having the happiness to meet him once more in the lobby of the
playhouse, she went up to him in a flutter, and bade him remember
that she kept two nights in the week, and that she longed to see
him at Spring Garden.
"He appeared on Tuesday, in a rich suit, showing a very fine taste
both in the tailor and wearer; and though a knot of us were
gathered round the charming Jocasta, fellows who pretended to know
every face upon the town, not one could tell the gentleman's name
in reply to Jocasta's eager inquiries, flung to the right and left
of her as he advanced up the room with a bow that would become a
"Jocasta acknowledged this salute with one of those smiles and
curtsies of which that lady hath the secret. She curtsies with a
languishing air, as if to say, 'You are come at last. I have been
pining for you:' and then she finishes her victim with a killing
look, which declares: 'O Philander! I have no eyes but for you.'
Camilla hath as good a curtsy perhaps, and Thalestris much such
another look; but the glance and the curtsy together belong to
Jocasta of all the English beauties alone.
"'Welcome to London, sir,' says she. 'One can see you are from the
country by your looks.' She would have said 'Epsom,' or
'Tunbridge,' had she remembered rightly at which place she had met
the stranger; but, alas! she had forgotten.
"The gentleman said, 'he had been in town but three days; and one
of his reasons for coming hither was to have the honor of paying
his court to Jocasta.'
"She said, 'the waters had agreed with her but indifferently.'
"'The waters were for the sick,' the gentleman said: 'the young and
beautiful came but to make them sparkle. And as the clergyman read
the service on Sunday,' he added, 'your ladyship reminded me of the
angel that visited the pool.' A murmur of approbation saluted this
sally. Manilio, who is a wit when he is not at cards, was in such
a rage that he revoked when he heard it.
"Jocasta was an angel visiting the waters; but at which of the
Bethesdas? She was puzzled more and more; and, as her way always
is, looked the more innocent and simple, the more artful her
"'We were discoursing,' says she, 'about spelling of names and
words when you came. Why should we say goold and write gold, and
call china chayney, and Cavendish Candish, and Cholmondeley
Chumley? If we call Pulteney Poltney, why shouldn't we call
"'Such an enchantress as your ladyship,' says he, 'is mistress of
all sorts of spells.' But this was Dr. Swift's pun, and we all
"'And--and how do you spell your name?' says she, coming to the
point at length; for this sprightly conversation had lasted much
longer than is here set down, and been carried on through at least
three dishes of tea.
"'Oh, madam,' says he, 'I SPELL MY NAME WITH THE Y.' And laying
down his dish, my gentleman made another elegant bow, and was gone
in a moment.
"Jocasta hath had no sleep since this mortification, and the
stranger's disappearance. If balked in anything, she is sure to
lose her health and temper; and we, her servants, suffer, as usual,
during the angry fits of our Queen. Can you help us, Mr.
Spectator, who know everything, to read this riddle for her, and
set at rest all our minds? We find in her list, Mr. Berty, Mr.
Smith, Mr. Pike, Mr. Tyler--who may be Mr. Bertie, Mr. Smyth, Mr.
Pyke, Mr. Tiler, for what we know. She hath turned away the clerk
of her visiting-book, a poor fellow with a great family of
children. Read me this riddle, good Mr. Shortface, and oblige your
"THE TRUMPET COFFEE-HOUSE, WHITEHALL.
MR. SPECTATOR,--I am a gentleman but little acquainted with the
town, though I have had a university education, and passed some
years serving my country abroad, where my name is better known than
in the coffee-house and St. James's.
"Two years since my uncle died, leaving me a pretty estate in the
county of Kent; and being at Tunbridge Wells last summer, after my
mourning was over, and on the look-out, if truth must be told, for
some young lady who would share with me the solitude of my great
Kentish house, and be kind to my tenantry (for whom a woman can do
a great deal more good than the best-intentioned man can), I was
greatly fascinated by a young lady of London, who was the toast of
all the company at the Wells. Every one knows Saccharissa's
beauty; and I think, Mr. Spectator, no one better than herself.
"My table-book informs me that I danced no less than seven-and-
twenty sets with her at the Assembly. I treated her to the fiddles
twice. I was admitted on several days to her lodging, and received
by her with a great deal of distinction, and, for a time, was
entirely her slave. It was only when I found, from common talk of
the company at the Wells, and from narrowly watching one, who I
once thought of asking the most sacred question a man can put to a
woman, that I became aware how unfit she was to be a country
gentleman's wife; and that this fair creature was but a heartless
worldly jilt, playing with affections that she never meant to
return, and, indeed, incapable of returning them. 'Tis admiration
such women want, not love that touches them; and I can conceive, in
her old age, no more wretched creature than this lady will be, when
her beauty hath deserted her, when her admirers have left her, and
she hath neither friendship nor religion to console her.
"Business calling me to London, I went to St. James's Church last
Sunday, and there opposite me sat my beauty of the Wells. Her
behavior during the whole service was so pert, languishing, and
absurd; she flirted her fan, and ogled and eyed me in a manner so
indecent, that I was obliged to shut my eyes, so as actually not to
see her, and whenever I opened them beheld hers (and very bright
they are) still staring at me. I fell in with her afterwards at
Court, and at the playhouse; and here nothing would satisfy her but
she must elbow through the crowd and speak to me, and invite me to
the assembly, which she holds at her house, not very far from
"Having made her a promise to attend, of course I kept my promise;
and found the young widow in the midst of a half-dozen of card
tables, and a crowd of wits and admirers. I made the best bow I
could, and advanced towards her; and saw by a peculiar puzzled look
in her face, though she tried to hide her perplexity, that she had
forgotten even my name.
"Her talk, artful as it was, convinced me that I had guessed
aright. She turned the conversation most ridiculously upon the
spelling of names and words; and I replied with as ridiculous
fulsome compliments as I could pay her: indeed, one in which I
compared her to an angel visiting the sick wells, went a little too
far; nor should I have employed it, but that the allusion came from
the Second Lesson last Sunday, which we both had heard, and I was
pressed to answer her.
"Then she came to the question, which I knew was awaiting me, and
asked how I SPELT my name? 'Madam,' says I, turning on my heel, 'I
spell it with a Y.' And so I left her, wondering at the light-
heartedness of the town-people, who forget and make friends so
easily, and resolved to look elsewhere for a partner for your
"You know my real name, Mr. Spectator, in which there is no such a
letter as HUPSILON. But if the lady, whom I have called
Saccharissa, wonders that I appear no more at the tea-tables, she
is hereby respectfully informed the reason Y."
The above is a parable, whereof the writer will now expound the
meaning. Jocasta was no other than Miss Esmond, Maid of Honor to
her Majesty. She had told Mr. Esmond this little story of having
met a gentleman somewhere, and forgetting his name, when the
gentleman, with no such malicious intentions as those of "Cymon" in
the above fable, made the answer simply as above; and we all
laughed to think how little Mistress Jocasta-Beatrix had profited
by her artifice and precautions.
As for Cymon, he was intended to represent yours and her very
humble servant, the writer of the apologue and of this story, which
we had printed on a "Spectator" paper at Mr. Steele's office,
exactly as those famous journals were printed, and which was laid
on the table at breakfast in place of the real newspaper. Mistress
Jocasta, who had plenty of wit, could not live without her
Spectator to her tea; and this sham Spectator was intended to
convey to the young woman that she herself was a flirt, and that
Cymon was a gentleman of honor and resolution, seeing all her
faults, and determined to break the chains once and for ever.
For though enough hath been said about this love-business already--
enough, at least, to prove to the writer's heirs what a silly fond
fool their old grandfather was, who would like them to consider him
as a very wise old gentleman; yet not near all has been told
concerning this matter, which, if it were allowed to take in
Esmond's journal the space it occupied in his time, would weary his
kinsmen and women of a hundred years' time beyond all endurance;
and form such a diary of folly and drivelling, raptures and rage,
as no man of ordinary vanity would like to leave behind him.
The truth is, that, whether she laughed at him or encouraged him;
whether she smiled or was cold, and turned her smiles on another;
worldly and ambitious, as he knew her to be; hard and careless, as
she seemed to grow with her court life, and a hundred admirers that
came to her and left her; Esmond, do what he would, never could get
Beatrix out of his mind; thought of her constantly at home or away.
If he read his name in a Gazette, or escaped the shot of a cannon-
ball or a greater danger in the campaign, as has happened to him
more than once, the instant thought after the honor achieved or the
danger avoided, was, "What will SHE say of it?" "Will this
distinction or the idea of this peril elate her or touch her, so as
to be better inclined towards me?" He could no more help this
passionate fidelity of temper than he could help the eyes he saw
with--one or the other seemed a part of his nature; and knowing
every one of her faults as well as the keenest of her detractors,
and the folly of an attachment to such a woman, of which the
fruition could never bring him happiness for above a week, there
was yet a charm about this Circe from which the poor deluded
gentleman could not free himself; and for a much longer period than
Ulysses (another middle-aged officer, who had travelled much, and
been in the foreign wars,) Esmond felt himself enthralled and
besotted by the wiles of this enchantress. Quit her! He could no
more quit her, as the Cymon of this story was made to quit his
false one, than he could lose his consciousness of yesterday. She
had but to raise her finger, and he would come back from ever so
far; she had but to say I have discarded such and such an adorer,
and the poor infatuated wretch would be sure to come and roder
about her mother's house, willing to be put on the ranks of
suitors, though he knew he might be cast off the next week. If he
were like Ulysses in his folly, at least she was in so far like
Penelope that she had a crowd of suitors, and undid day after day
and night after night the handiwork of fascination and the web of
coquetry with which she was wont to allure and entertain them.
Part of her coquetry may have come from her position about the
Court, where the beautiful maid of honor was the light about which
a thousand beaux came and fluttered; where she was sure to have a
ring of admirers round her, crowding to listen to her repartees as
much as to admire her beauty; and where she spoke and listened to
much free talk, such as one never would have thought the lips or
ears of Rachel Castlewood's daughter would have uttered or heard.
When in waiting at Windsor or Hampton, the Court ladies and
gentlemen would be making riding parties together; Mrs. Beatrix in
a horseman's coat and hat, the foremost after the stag-hounds and
over the park fences, a crowd of young fellows at her heels. If
the English country ladies at this time were the most pure and
modest of any ladies in the world--the English town and court
ladies permitted themselves words and behavior that were neither
modest nor pure; and claimed, some of them, a freedom which those
who love that sex most would never wish to grant them. The
gentlemen of my family that follow after me (for I don't encourage
the ladies to pursue any such studies), may read in the works of
Mr. Congreve, and Dr. Swift and others, what was the conversation
and what the habits of our time.
The most beautiful woman in England in 1712, when Esmond returned
to this country, a lady of high birth, and though of no fortune to
be sure, with a thousand fascinations of wit and manners, Beatrix
Esmond was now six-and-twenty years old, and Beatrix Esmond still.
Of her hundred adorers she had not chosen one for a husband; and
those who had asked had been jilted by her; and more still had left
her. A succession of near ten years' crops of beauties had come up
since her time, and had been reaped by proper HUSBANDmen, if we may
make an agricultural simile, and had been housed comfortably long
ago. Her own contemporaries were sober mothers by this time; girls
with not a tithe of her charms, or her wit, having made good
matches, and now claiming precedence over the spinster who but
lately had derided and outshone them. The young beauties were
beginning to look down on Beatrix as an old maid, and sneer, and
call her one of Charles II.'s ladies, and ask whether her portrait
was not in the Hampton Court Gallery? But still she reigned, at
least in one man's opinion, superior over all the little misses
that were the toasts of the young lads; and in Esmond's eyes was
ever perfectly lovely and young.
Who knows how many were nearly made happy by possessing her, or,
rather, how many were fortunate in escaping this siren? 'Tis a
marvel to think that her mother was the purest and simplest woman
in the whole world, and that this girl should have been born from
her. I am inclined to fancy, my mistress, who never said a harsh
word to her children (and but twice or thrice only to one person),
must have been too fond and pressing with the maternal authority;
for her son and her daughter both revolted early; nor after their
first flight from the nest could they ever be brought back quite to
the fond mother's bosom. Lady Castlewood, and perhaps it was as
well, knew little of her daughter's life and real thoughts. How
was she to apprehend what passes in Queen's ante-chambers and at
Court tables? Mrs. Beatrix asserted her own authority so
resolutely that her mother quickly gave in. The maid of honor had
her own equipage; went from home and came back at her own will: her
mother was alike powerless to resist her or to lead her, or to
command or to persuade her.
She had been engaged once, twice, thrice, to be married, Esmond
believed. When he quitted home, it hath been said, she was
promised to my Lord Ashburnham, and now, on his return, behold his
lordship was just married to Lady Mary Butler, the Duke of
Ormonde's daughter, and his fine houses, and twelve thousand a year
of fortune, for which Miss Beatrix had rather coveted him, was out
of her power. To her Esmond could say nothing in regard to the
breaking of this match; and, asking his mistress about it, all Lady
Castlewood answered was: "do not speak to me about it, Harry. I
cannot tell you how or why they parted, and I fear to inquire. I
have told you before, that with all her kindness, and wit, and
generosity, and that sort of splendor of nature she has, I can say
but little good of poor Beatrix, and look with dread at the
marriage she will form. Her mind is fixed on ambition only, and
making a great figure; and, this achieved, she will tire of it as
she does of everything. Heaven help her husband, whoever he shall
be! My Lord Ashburnham was a most excellent young man, gentle and
yet manly, of very good parts, so they told me, and as my little
conversation would enable me to judge: and a kind temper--kind and
enduring I'm sure he must have been, from all that he had to
endure. But he quitted her at last, from some crowning piece of
caprice or tyranny of hers; and now he has married a young woman
that will make him a thousand times happier than my poor girl ever
The rupture, whatever its cause was, (I heard the scandal, but
indeed shall not take pains to repeat at length in this diary the
trumpery coffee-house story,) caused a good deal of low talk; and
Mr. Esmond was present at my lord's appearance at the Birthday with
his bride, over whom the revenge that Beatrix took was to look so
imperial and lovely that the modest downcast young lady could not
appear beside her, and Lord Ashburnham, who had his reasons for
wishing to avoid her, slunk away quite shamefaced, and very early.
This time his Grace the Duke of Hamilton, whom Esmond had seen
about her before, was constant at Miss Beatrix's side: he was one
of the most splendid gentlemen of Europe, accomplished by books, by
travel, by long command of the best company, distinguished as a
statesman, having been ambassador in King Williamn's time, and a
noble speaker in the Scots' Parliament, where he had led the party
that was against the Union, and though now five or six and forty
years of age, a gentleman so high in stature, accomplished in wit,
and favored in person, that he might pretend to the hand of any
Princess in Europe.
"Should you like the Duke for a cousin?" says Mr. Secretary St.
John, whispering to Colonel Esmond in French; "it appears that the
widower consoles himself."
But to return to our little Spectator paper and the conversation
which grew out of it. Miss Beatrix at first was quite BIT (as the
phrase of that day was) and did not "smoke" the authorship of the
story; indeed Esmond had tried to imitate as well as he could Mr.
Steele's manner (as for the other author of the Spectator, his
prose style I think is altogether inimitable); and Dick, who was
the idlest and best-natured of men, would have let the piece pass
into his journal and go to posterity as one of his own
lucubrations, but that Esmond did not care to have a lady's name
whom he loved sent forth to the world in a light so unfavorable.
Beatrix pished and psha'd over the paper; Colonel Esmond watching
with no little interest her countenance as she read it.
"How stupid your friend Mr. Steele becomes!" cries Miss Beatrix.
"Epsom and Tunbridge! Will he never have done with Epsom and
Tunbridge, and with beaux at church, and Jocastas and Lindamiras?
Why does he not call women Nelly and Betty, as their godfathers and
godmothers did for them in their baptism?"
"Beatrix. Beatrix!" says her mother, "speak gravely of grave
"Mamma thinks the Church Catechism came from heaven, I believe,"
says Beatrix, with a laugh, "and was brought down by a bishop from
a mountain. Oh, how I used to break my heart over it! Besides, I
had a Popish godmother, mamma; why did you give me one?"
"I gave you the Queen's name," says her mother blushing. "And a
very pretty name it is," said somebody else.
Beatrix went on reading--"Spell my name with a Y--why, you wretch,"
says she, turning round to Colonel Esmond, "you have been telling
my story to Mr. Steele--or stop--you have written the paper
yourself to turn me into ridicule. For shame, sir!"
Poor Mr. Esmond felt rather frightened, and told a truth, which was
nevertheless an entire falsehood. "Upon my honor," says he, "I
have not even read the Spectator of this morning." Nor had he, for
that was not the Spectator, but a sham newspaper put in its place.
She went on reading: her face rather flushed as she read. "No,"
she says, "I think you couldn't have written it. I think it must
have been Mr. Steele when he was drunk--and afraid of his horrid
vulgar wife. Whenever I see an enormous compliment to a woman, and
some outrageous panegyric about female virtue, I always feel sure
that the Captain and his better half have fallen out over-night,
and that he has been brought home tipsy, or has been found out in--"
"Beatrix!" cries the Lady Castlewood.
"Well, mamma! Do not cry out before you are hurt. I am not going
to say anything wrong. I won't give you more annoyance than you
can help, you pretty kind mamma. Yes, and your little Trix is a
naughty little Trix, and she leaves undone those things which she
ought to have done, and does those things which she ought not to
have done, and there's--well now--I won't go on. Yes, I will,
unless you kiss me." And with this the young lady lays aside her
paper, and runs up to her mother and performs a variety of embraces
with her ladyship, saying as plain as eyes could speak to Mr.
Esmond--"There, sir: would not YOU like to play the very same
"Indeed, madam, I would," says he.
"Would what?" asked Miss Beatrix.
"What you meant when you looked at me in that provoking way,"
"What a confessor!" cries Beatrix, with a laugh.
"What is it Henry would like, my dear?" asks her mother, the kind
soul, who was always thinking what we would like, and how she could
The girl runs up to her--"Oh, you silly kind mamma," she says,
kissing her again, "that's what Harry would like;" and she broke
out into a great joyful laugh; and Lady Castlewood blushed as
bashful as a maid of sixteen.
"Look at her, Harry," whispers Beatrix, running up, and speaking in
her sweet low tones. "Doesn't the blush become her? Isn't she
pretty? She looks younger than I am, and I am sure she is a
hundred million thousand times better."
Esmond's kind mistress left the room, carrying her blushes away
"If we girls at Court could grow such roses as that," continues
Beatrix, with her laugh, "what wouldn't we do to preserve 'em?
We'd clip their stalks and put 'em in salt and water. But those
flowers don't bloom at Hampton Court and Windsor, Henry." She
paused for a minute, and the smile fading away from her April face,
gave place to a menacing shower of tears; "Oh, how good she is,
Harry," Beatrix went on to say. "Oh, what a saint she is! Her
goodness frightens me. I'm not fit to live with her. I should be
better I think if she were not so perfect. She has had a great
sorrow in her life, and a great secret; and repented of it. It
could not have been my father's death. She talks freely about
that; nor could she have loved him very much--though who knows what
we women do love, and why?"
"What, and why, indeed," says Mr. Esmond.
"No one knows," Beatrix went on, without noticing this interruption
except by a look, "what my mother's life is. She hath been at
early prayer this morning; she passes hours in her closet; if you
were to follow her thither, you would find her at prayers now. She
tends the poor of the place--the horrid dirty poor! She sits
through the curate's sermons--oh, those dreary sermons! And you
see on a beau dire; but good as they are, people like her are not
fit to commune with us of the world. There is always, as it were,
a third person present, even when I and my mother are alone. She
can't be frank with me quite; who is always thinking of the next
world, and of her guardian angel, perhaps that's in company. Oh,
Harry, I'm jealous of that guardian angel!" here broke out Mistress
Beatrix. "It's horrid, I know; but my mother's life is all for
heaven, and mine--all for earth. We can never be friends quite;
and then, she cares more for Frank's little finger than she does
for me--I know she does: and she loves you, sir, a great deal too
much; and I hate you for it. I would have had her all to myself;
but she wouldn't. In my childhood, it was my father she loved--
(oh, how could she? I remember him kind and handsome, but so
stupid, and not being able to speak after drinking wine). And then
it was Frank; and now, it is heaven and the clergyman. How I would
have loved her! From a child I used to be in a rage that she loved
anybody but me; but she loved you all better--all, I know she did.
And now, she talks of the blessed consolation of religion. Dear
soul! she thinks she is happier for believing, as she must, that we
are all of us wicked and miserable sinners; and this world is only
a pied-a-terre for the good, where they stay for a night, as we do,
coming from Walcote, at that great, dreary, uncomfortable Hounslow
Inn, in those horrid beds--oh, do you remember those horrid beds?--
and the chariot comes and fetches them to heaven the next morning."
"Hush, Beatrix," says Mr. Esmond.
"Hush, indeed. You are a hypocrite, too, Henry, with your grave
airs and your glum face. We are all hypocrites. O dear me! We
are all alone, alone, alone," says poor Beatrix, her fair breast
heaving with a sigh.
"It was I that writ every line of that paper, my dear," says Mr.
Esmond. "You are not so worldly as you think yourself, Beatrix,
and better than we believe you. The good we have in us we doubt
of; and the happiness that's to our hand we throw away. You bend
your ambition on a great marriage and establishment--and why?
You'll tire of them when you win them; and be no happier with a
coronet on your coach--"
"Than riding pillion with Lubin to market," says Beatrix. "Thank
"I'm a dismal shepherd, to be sure," answers Esmond, with a blush;
"and require a nymph that can tuck my bed-clothes up, and make me
water-gruel. Well, Tom Lockwood can do that. He took me out of
the fire upon his shoulders, and nursed me through my illness as
love will scarce ever do. Only good wages, and a hope of my
clothes, and the contents of my portmanteau. How long was it that
Jacob served an apprenticeship for Rachel?"
"For mamma?" says Beatrix. "It is mamma your honor wants, and that
I should have the happiness of calling you papa?"
Esmond blushed again. "I spoke of a Rachel that a shepherd courted
five thousand years ago; when shepherds were longer lived than now.
And my meaning was, that since I saw you first after our
separation--a child you were then . . ."
"And I put on my best stockings to captivate you, I remember,
sir . . ."
"You have had my heart ever since then, such as it was; and such as
you were, I cared for no other woman. What little reputation I
have won, it was that you might be pleased with it: and indeed, it
is not much; and I think a hundred fools in the army have got and
deserved quite as much. Was there something in the air of that
dismal old Castlewood that made us all gloomy, and dissatisfied,
and lonely under its ruined old roof? We were all so, even when
together and united, as it seemed, following our separate schemes,
each as we sat round the table."
"Dear, dreary old place!" cries Beatrix. "Mamma hath never had the
heart to go back thither since we left it, when--never mind how
many years ago." And she flung back her curls, and looked over her
fair shoulder at the mirror superbly, as if she said, "Time, I defy
"Yes," says Esmond, who had the art, as she owned, of divining many
of her thoughts. "You can afford to look in the glass still; and
only be pleased by the truth it tells you. As for me, do you know
what my scheme is? I think of asking Frank to give me the
Virginian estate King Charles gave our grandfather. (She gave a
superb curtsy, as much as to say, 'Our grandfather, indeed! Thank
you, Mr. Bastard.') Yes, I know you are thinking of my bar-
sinister, and so am I. A man cannot get over it in this country;
unless, indeed, he wears it across a king's arms, when 'tis a
highly honorable coat; and I am thinking of retiring into the
plantations, and building myself a wigwam in the woods, and
perhaps, if I want company, suiting myself with a squaw. We will
send your ladyship furs over for the winter; and, when you are old,
we'll provide you with tobacco. I am not quite clever enough, or
not rogue enough--I know not which--for the Old World. I may make
a place for myself in the New, which is not so full; and found a
family there. When you are a mother yourself, and a great lady,
perhaps I shall send you over from the plantation some day a little
barbarian that is half Esmond half Mohock, and you will be kind to
him for his father's sake, who was, after all, your kinsman; and
whom you loved a little."
"What folly you are talking, Harry," says Miss Beatrix, looking
with her great eyes.
"'Tis sober earnest," says Esmond. And, indeed, the scheme had
been dwelling a good deal in his mind for some time past, and
especially since his return home, when he found how hopeless, and
even degrading to himself, his passion was. "No," says he, then:
"I have tried half a dozen times now. I can bear being away from
you well enough; but being with you is intolerable" (another low
curtsy on Mistress Beatrix's part), "and I will go. I have enough
to buy axes and guns for my men, and beads and blankets for the
savages; and I'll go and live amongst them."
"Mon ami," she says quite kindly, and taking Esmond's hand, with an
air of great compassion, "you can't think that in our position
anything more than our present friendship is possible. You are our
elder brother--as such we view you, pitying your misfortune, not
rebuking you with it. Why, you are old enough and grave enough to
be our father. I always thought you a hundred years old, Harry,
with your solemn face and grave air. I feel as a sister to you,
and can no more. Isn't that enough, sir?" And she put her face
quite close to his--who knows with what intention?
"It's too much," says Esmond, turning away. "I can't bear this
life, and shall leave it. I shall stay, I think, to see you
married, and then freight a ship, and call it the 'Beatrix,' and
bid you all . . ."
Here the servant, flinging the door open, announced his Grace the
Duke of Hamilton, and Esmond started back with something like an
imprecation on his lips, as the nobleman entered, looking splendid
in his star and green ribbon. He gave Mr. Esmond just that
gracious bow which he would have given to a lackey who fetched him
a chair or took his hat, and seated himself by Miss Beatrix, as the
poor Colonel went out of the room with a hang-dog look.
Esmond's mistress was in the lower room as he passed down stairs.
She often met him as he was coming away from Beatrix; and she
beckoned him into the apartment.
"Has she told you, Harry?" Lady Castlewood said.
"She has been very frank--very," says Esmond.
"But--but about what is going to happen?"
"What is going to happen?" says he, his heart beating.
"His Grace the Duke of Hamilton has proposed to her," says my lady.
"He made his offer yesterday. They will marry as soon as his
mourning is over; and you have heard his Grace is appointed
Ambassador to Paris; and the Ambassadress goes with him."
BEATRIX'S NEW SUITOR.
The gentleman whom Beatrix had selected was, to be sure, twenty
years older than the Colonel, with whom she quarrelled for being
too old; but this one was but a nameless adventurer, and the other
the greatest duke in Scotland, with pretensions even to a still
higher title. My Lord Duke of Hamilton had, indeed, every merit
belonging to a gentleman, and he had had the time to mature his
accomplishments fully, being upwards of fifty years old when Madam
Beatrix selected him for a bridegroom. Duke Hamilton, then Earl of
Arran, had been educated at the famous Scottish university of
Glasgow, and, coming to London, became a great favorite of Charles
the Second, who made him a lord of his bedchamber, and afterwards
appointed him ambassador to the French king, under whom the Earl
served two campaigns as his Majesty's aide-de-camp; and he was
absent on this service when King Charles died.
King James continued my lord's promotion--made him Master of the
Wardrobe and Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Horse; and his
lordship adhered firmly to King James, being of the small company
that never quitted that unfortunate monarch till his departure out
of England; and then it was, in 1688 namely, that he made the
friendship with Colonel Francis Esmond, that had always been, more
or less, maintained in the two families.
The Earl professed a great admiration for King William always, but
never could give him his allegiance; and was engaged in more than
one of the plots in the late great King's reign which always ended
in the plotters' discomfiture, and generally in their pardon, by
the magnanimity of the King. Lord Arran was twice prisoner in the
Tower during this reign, undauntedly saying, when offered his
release, upon parole not to engage against King William, that he
would not give his word, because "he was sure he could not keep
it;" but, nevertheless, he was both times discharged without any
trial; and the King bore this noble enemy so little malice, that
when his mother, the Duchess of Hamilton, of her own right,
resigned her claim on her husband's death, the Earl was, by patent
signed at Loo, 1690, created Duke of Hamilton, Marquis of
Clydesdale, and Earl of Arran, with precedency from the original
creation. His Grace took the oaths and his seat in the Scottish
parliament in 1700: was famous there for his patriotism and
eloquence, especially in the debates about the Union Bill, which
Duke Hamilton opposed with all his strength, though he would not go
the length of the Scottish gentry, who were for resisting it by
force of arms. 'Twas said he withdrew his opposition all of a
sudden, and in consequence of letters from the King at St.
Germains, who entreated him on his allegiance not to thwart the
Queen his sister in this measure; and the Duke, being always bent
upon effecting the King's return to his kingdom through a
reconciliation between his Majesty and Queen Anne, and quite averse
to his landing with arms and French troops, held aloof, and kept
out of Scotland during the time when the Chevalier de St. George's
descent from Dunkirk was projected, passing his time in England in
his great estate in Staffordshire.
When the Whigs went out of office in 1710, the Queen began to show
his Grace the very greatest marks of her favor. He was created
Duke of Brandon and Baron of Dutton in England; having the Thistle
already originally bestowed on him by King James the Second, his
Grace was now promoted to the honor of the Garter--a distinction so
great and illustrious, that no subject hath ever borne them
hitherto together. When this objection was made to her Majesty,
she was pleased to say, "Such a subject as the Duke of Hamilton has
a pre-eminent claim to every mark of distinction which a crowned
head can confer. I will henceforth wear both orders myself."
At the Chapter held at Windsor in October, 1712, the Duke and other
knights, including Lord-Treasurer, the new-created Earl of Oxford
and Mortimer, were installed; and a few days afterwards his Grace
was appointed Ambassador-Extraordinary to France, and his
equipages, plate, and liveries commanded, of the most sumptuous
kind, not only for his Excellency the Ambassador, but for her
Excellency the Ambassadress, who was to accompany him. Her arms
were already quartered on the coach panels, and her brother was to
hasten over on the appointed day to give her away.
His lordship was a widower, having married, in 1698, Elizabeth,
daughter of Digby Lord Gerard, by which marriage great estates came
into the Hamilton family; and out of these estates came, in part,
that tragic quarrel which ended the Duke's career.
From the loss of a tooth to that of a mistress there's no pang that
is not bearable. The apprehension is much more cruel than the
certainty; and we make up our mind to the misfortune when 'tis
irremediable, part with the tormentor, and mumble our crust on
t'other side of the jaws. I think Colonel Esmond was relieved when
a ducal coach and six came and whisked his charmer away out of his
reach, and placed her in a higher sphere. As you have seen the
nymph in the opera-machine go up to the clouds at the end of the
piece where Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, and all the divine company of
Olympians are seated, and quaver out her last song as a goddess: so
when this portentous elevation was accomplished in the Esmond
family, I am not sure that every one of us did not treat the divine
Beatrix with special honors; at least the saucy little beauty
carried her head with a toss of supreme authority, and assumed a
touch-me-not air, which all her friends very good-humoredly bowed to.
An old army acquaintance of Colonel Esmond's, honest Tom Trett, who
had sold his company, married a wife, and turned merchant in the
city, was dreadfully gloomy for a long time, though living in a
fine house on the river, and carrying on a great trade to all
appearance. At length Esmond saw his friend's name in the Gazette
as a bankrupt; and a week after this circumstance my bankrupt walks
into Mr. Esmond's lodging with a face perfectly radiant with good-
humor, and as jolly and careless as when they had sailed from
Southampton ten years before for Vigo. "This bankruptcy," says
Tom, "has been hanging over my head these three years; the thought
hath prevented my sleeping, and I have looked at poor Polly's head
on t'other pillow, and then towards my razor on the table, and
thought to put an end to myself, and so give my woes the slip. But
now we are bankrupts: Tom Trett pays as many shillings in the pound
as he can; his wife has a little cottage at Fulham, and her fortune
secured to herself. I am afraid neither of bailiff nor of
creditor: and for the last six nights have slept easy." So it was
that when Fortune shook her wings and left him, honest Tom cuddled
himself up in his ragged virtue, and fell asleep.
Esmond did not tell his friend how much his story applied to Esmond
too; but he laughed at it, and used it; and having fairly struck
his docket in this love transaction, determined to put a cheerful
face on his bankruptcy. Perhaps Beatrix was a little offended at
his gayety. "Is this the way, sir, that you receive the
announcement of your misfortune," says she, "and do you come
smiling before me as if you were glad to be rid of me?"
Esmond would not be put off from his good-humor, but told her the
story of Tom Trett and his bankruptcy. "I have been hankering
after the grapes on the wall," says he, "and lost my temper because
they were beyond my reach; was there any wonder? They're gone now,
and another has them--a taller man than your humble servant has won
them." And the Colonel made his cousin a low bow.
"A taller man, Cousin Esmond!" says she. "A man of spirit would
have sealed the wall, sir, and seized them! A man of courage would
have fought for 'em, not gaped for 'em."
"A Duke has but to gape and they drop into his mouth," says Esmond,
with another low bow.
"Yes, sir," says she, "a Duke IS a taller man than you. And why
should I not be grateful to one such as his Grace, who gives me his
heart and his great name? It is a great gift he honors me with; I
know 'tis a bargain between us; and I accept it, and will do my
utmost to perform my part of it. 'Tis no question of sighing and
philandering between a noble man of his Grace's age and a girl who
hath little of that softness in her nature. Why should I not own
that I am ambitious, Harry Esmond; and if it be no sin in a man to
covet honor, why should a woman too not desire it? Shall I be
frank with you, Harry, and say that if you had not been down on
your knees, and so humble, you might have fared better with me? A
woman of my spirit, cousin, is to be won by gallantry, and not by
sighs and rueful faces. All the time you are worshipping and
singing hymns to me, I know very well I am no goddess, and grow
weary of the incense. So would you have been weary of the goddess
too--when she was called Mrs. Esmond, and got out of humor because
she had not pin-money enough, and was forced to go about in an old
gown. Eh! cousin, a goddess in a mob-cap, that has to make her
husband's gruel, ceases to be divine--I am sure of it. I should
have been sulky and scolded; and of all the proud wretches in the
world Mr. Esmond is the proudest, let me tell him that. You never
fall into a passion; but you never forgive, I think. Had you been
a great man, you might have been good-humored; but being nobody,
sir, you are too great a man for me; and I'm afraid of you, cousin--
there! and I won't worship you, and you'll never be happy except
with a woman who will. Why, after I belonged to you, and after one
of my tantrums, you would have put the pillow over my head some
night, and smothered me, as the black man does the woman in the
play that you're so fond of. What's the creature's name?--
Desdemona. You would, you little black-dyed Othello!"
"I think I should, Beatrix," says the Colonel.
"And I want no such ending. I intend to live to be a hundred, and
to go to ten thousand routs and balls, and to play cards every
night of my life till the year eighteen hundred. And I like to be
the first of my company, sir; and I like flattery and compliments,
and you give me none; and I like to be made to laugh, sir, and
who's to laugh at YOUR dismal face, I should like to know? and I
like a coach-and six or a coach-and-eight; and I like diamonds, and
a new gown every week; and people to say--'That's the Duchess--How
well her Grace looks--Make way for Madame l'Ambassadrice
d'Angleterre--Call her Excellency's people'--that's what I like.
And as for you, you want a woman to bring your slippers and cap,
and to sit at your feet, and cry, 'O caro! O bravo!' whilst you
read your Shakespeares and Miltons and stuff. Mamma would have
been the wife for you, had you been a little older, though you look
ten years older than she does--you do, you glum-faced, blue-bearded
little old man! You might have sat, like Darby and Joan, and
flattered each other; and billed and cooed like a pair of old
pigeons on a perch. I want my wings and to use them, sir." And
she spread out her beautiful arms, as if indeed she could fly off
like the pretty "Gawrie," whom the man in the story was enamored of.
"And what will your Peter Wilkins say to your flight?" says Esmond,
who never admired this fair creature more than when she rebelled
and laughed at him.
"A duchess knows her place," says she, with a laugh. "Why, I have
a son already made for me, and thirty years old (my Lord Arran),
and four daughters. How they will scold, and what a rage they will
be in, when I come to take the head of the table! But I give them
only a month to be angry; at the end of that time they shall love
me every one, and so shall Lord Arran, and so shall all his Grace's
Scots vassals and followers in the Highlands. I'm bent on it; and
when I take a thing in my head, 'tis done. His Grace is the
greatest gentleman in Europe, and I'll try and make him happy; and,
when the King comes back, you may count on my protection, Cousin
Esmond--for come back the King will and shall; and I'll bring him
back from Versailles, if he comes under my hoop."
"I hope the world will make you happy, Beatrix," says Esmond, with
a sigh. "You'll be Beatrix till you are my Lady Duchess--will you
not? I shall then make your Grace my very lowest bow."
"None of these sighs and this satire, cousin," she says. "I take
his Grace's great bounty thankfully--yes, thankfully; and will wear
his honors becomingly. I do not say he hath touched my heart; but
he has my gratitude, obedience, admiration--I have told him that,
and no more; and with that his noble heart is content. I have told
him all--even the story of that poor creature that I was engaged
to--and that I could not love; and I gladly gave his word back to
him, and jumped for joy to get back my own. I am twenty-five years
"Twenty-six, my dear," says Esmond.
"Twenty-five, sir--I choose to be twenty-five; and in eight years
no man hath ever touched my heart. Yes--you did once, for a
little, Harry, when you came back after Lille, and engaging with
that murderer Mohun, and saving Frank's life. I thought I could
like you; and mamma begged me hard, on her knees, and I did--for a
day. But the old chill came over me, Henry, and the old fear of
you and your melancholy; and I was glad when you went away, and
engaged with my Lord Ashburnham, that I might hear no more of you,
that's the truth. You are too good for me, somehow. I could not
make you happy, and should break my heart in trying, and not being
able to love you. But if you had asked me when we gave you the
sword, you might have had me, sir, and we both should have been
miserable by this time. I talked with that silly lord all night
just to vex you and mamma, and I succeeded, didn't I? How frankly
we can talk of these things! It seems a thousand years ago: and,
though we are here sitting in the same room, there is a great wall
between us. My dear, kind, faithful, gloomy old cousin! I can
like now, and admire you too, sir, and say that you are brave, and
very kind, and very true, and a fine gentleman for all--for all
your little mishap at your birth," says she, wagging her arch head.
"And now, sir," says she, with a curtsy, "we must have no more talk
except when mamma is by, as his Grace is with us; for he does not
half like you, cousin, and is jealous as the black man in your
Though the very kindness of the words stabbed Mr. Esmond with the
keenest pang, he did not show his sense of the wound by any look of
his (as Beatrix, indeed, afterwards owned to him), but said, with a
perfect command of himself and an easy smile, "The interview must
not end yet, my dear, until I have had my last word. Stay, here
comes your mother" (indeed she came in here with her sweet anxious
face, and Esmond going up kissed her hand respectfully). "My dear
lady may hear, too, the last words, which are no secrets, and are
only a parting benediction accompanying a present for your marriage
from an old gentleman your guardian; for I feel as if I was the
guardian of all the family, and an old old fellow that is fit to be
the grandfather of you all; and in this character let me make my
Lady Duchess her wedding present. They are the diamonds my
father's widow left me. I had thought Beatrix might have had them
a year ago; but they are good enough for a duchess, though not
bright enough for the handsomest woman in the world." And he took
the case out of his pocket in which the jewels were, and presented
them to his cousin.
She gave a cry of delight, for the stones were indeed very
handsome, and of great value; and the next minute the necklace was
where Belinda's cross is in Mr. Pope's admirable poem, and
glittering on the whitest and most perfectly-shaped neck in all
The girl's delight at receiving these trinkets was so great, that
after rushing to the looking-glass and examining the effect they
produced upon that fair neck which they surrounded, Beatrix was
running back with her arms extended, and was perhaps for paying her
cousin with a price, that he would have liked no doubt to receive
from those beautiful rosy lips of hers, but at this moment the door
opened, and his Grace the bridegroom elect was announced.
He looked very black upon Mr. Esmond, to whom he made a very low
bow indeed, and kissed the hand of each lady in his most
ceremonious manner. He had come in his chair from the palace hard
by, and wore his two stars of the Garter and the Thistle.
"Look, my Lord Duke," says Mistress Beatrix, advancing to him, and
showing the diamonds on her breast.
"Diamonds," says his Grace. "Hm! they seem pretty."
"They are a present on my marriage," says Beatrix.
"From her Majesty?" asks the Duke. "The Queen is very good."
"From my cousin Henry--from our cousin Henry"--cry both the ladies
in a breath.
"I have not the honor of knowing the gentleman. I thought that my
Lord Castlewood had no brother: and that on your ladyship's side
there were no nephews."
"From our cousin, Colonel Henry Esmond, my lord," says Beatrix,
taking the Colonel's hand very bravely,--"who was left guardian to
us by our father, and who has a hundred times shown his love and
friendship for our family."
"The Duchess of Hamilton receives no diamonds but from her husband,
madam," says the Duke--"may I pray you to restore these to Mr.
"Beatrix Esmond may receive a present from our kinsman and
benefactor, my Lord Duke," says Lady Castlewood, with an air of
great dignity. "She is my daughter yet: and if her mother
sanctions the gift--no one else hath the right to question it."
"Kinsman and benefactor!" says the Duke. "I know of no kinsman:
and I do not choose that my wife should have for benefactor a--"
"My lord!" says Colonel Esmond.
"I am not here to bandy words," says his Grace: "frankly I tell you
that your visits to this house are too frequent, and that I choose
no presents for the Duchess of Hamilton from gentlemen that bear a
name they have no right to."
"My lord!" breaks out Lady Castlewood, "Mr. Esmond hath the best
right to that name of any man in the world: and 'tis as old and as
honorable as your Grace's."
My Lord Duke smiled, and looked as if Lady Castlewood was mad, that
was so talking to him.
"If I called him benefactor," said my mistress, "it is because he
has been so to us--yes, the noblest, the truest, the bravest, the
dearest of benefactors. He would have saved my husband's life from
Mohun's sword. He did save my boy's, and defended him from that
villain. Are those no benefits?"
"I ask Colonel Esmond's pardon," says his Grace, if possible more
haughty than before. "I would say not a word that should give him
offence, and thank him for his kindness to your ladyship's family.
My Lord Mohun and I are connected, you know, by marriage--though
neither by blood nor friendship; but I must repeat what I said,
that my wife can receive no presents from Colonel Esmond."
"My daughter may receive presents from the Head of our House: my
daughter may thankfully take kindness from her father's, her
mother's, her brother's dearest friend; and be grateful for one
more benefit besides the thousand we owe him," cries Lady Esmond.
"What is a string of diamond stones compared to that affection he
hath given us--our dearest preserver and benefactor? We owe him
not only Frank's life, but our all--yes, our all," says my
mistress, with a heightened color and a trembling voice. "The
title we bear is his, if he would claim it. 'Tis we who have no
right to our name: not he that's too great for it. He sacrificed
his name at my dying lord's bedside--sacrificed it to my orphan
children; gave up rank and honor because he loved us so nobly. His
father was Viscount of Castlewood and Marquis of Esmond before him;
and he is his father's lawful son and true heir, and we are the
recipients of his bounty, and he the chief of a house that's as old
as your own. And if he is content to forego his name that my child
may bear it, we love him and honor him and bless him under whatever
name he bears"--and here the fond and affectionate creature would
have knelt to Esmond again, but that he prevented her; and Beatrix,
running up to her with a pale face and a cry of alarm, embraced her
and said, "Mother, what is this?"
"'Tis a family secret, my Lord Duke," says Colonel Esmond: "poor
Beatrix knew nothing of it; nor did my lady till a year ago. And I
have as good a right to resign my title as your Grace's mother to
abdicate hers to you."
"I should have told everything to the Duke of Hamilton," said my
mistress, "had his Grace applied to me for my daughter's hand, and
not to Beatrix. I should have spoken with you this very day in
private, my lord, had not your words brought about this sudden
explanation--and now 'tis fit Beatrix should hear it; and know, as
I would have all the world know, what we owe to our kinsman and
And then in her touching way, and having hold of her daughter's
hand, and speaking to her rather than my Lord Duke, Lady Castlewood
told the story which you know already--lauding up to the skies her
kinsman's behavior. On his side Mr. Esmond explained the reasons
that seemed quite sufficiently cogent with him, why the succession
in the family, as at present it stood, should not be disturbed; and
he should remain as he was, Colonel Esmond.
"And Marquis of Esmond, my lord," says his Grace, with a low bow.
"Permit me to ask your lordship's pardon for words that were
uttered in ignorance; and to beg for the favor of your friendship.
To be allied to you, sir, must be an honor under whatever name you
are known" (so his Grace was pleased to say); "and in return for
the splendid present you make my wife, your kinswoman, I hope you
will please to command any service that James Douglas can perform.
I shall never be easy until I repay you a part of my obligations at
least; and ere very long, and with the mission her Majesty hath
given me," says the Duke, "that may perhaps be in my power. I
shall esteem it as a favor, my lord, if Colonel Esmond will give
away the bride."
"And if he will take the usual payment in advance, he is welcome,"
says Beatrix, stepping up to him; and, as Esmond kissed her, she
whispered, "Oh, why didn't I know you before?"
My Lord Duke was as hot as a flame at this salute, but said never a
word: Beatrix made him a proud curtsy, and the two ladies quitted
the room together.
"When does your Excellency go for Paris?" asks Colonel Esmond.
"As soon after the ceremony as may be," his Grace answered. "'Tis
fixed for the first of December: it cannot be sooner. The equipage
will not be ready till then. The Queen intends the embassy should
be very grand--and I have law business to settle. That ill-omened
Mohun has come, or is coming, to London again: we are in a lawsuit
about my late Lord Gerard's property; and he hath sent to me to
MOHUN APPEARS FOR THE LAST TIME IN THIS HISTORY.
Besides my Lord Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, who for family
reasons had kindly promised his protection and patronage to Colonel
Esmond, he had other great friends in power now, both able and
willing to assist him, and he might, with such allies, look forward
to as fortunate advancement in civil life at home as he had got
rapid promotion abroad. His Grace was magnanimous enough to offer
to take Mr. Esmond as secretary on his Paris embassy, but no doubt
he intended that proposal should be rejected; at any rate, Esmond
could not bear the thoughts of attending his mistress farther than
the church-door after her marriage, and so declined that offer
which his generous rival made him.
Other gentlemen in power were liberal at least of compliments and
promises to Colonel Esmond. Mr. Harley, now become my Lord Oxford
and Mortimer, and installed Knight of the Garter on the same day as
his Grace of Hamilton had received the same honor, sent to the
Colonel to say that a seat in Parliament should be at his disposal
presently, and Mr. St. John held out many flattering hopes of
advancement to the Colonel when he should enter the House.
Esmond's friends were all successful, and the most successful and
triumphant of all was his dear old commander, General Webb, who was
now appointed Lieutenant-General of the Land Forces, and received
with particular honor by the Ministry, by the Queen, and the people
out of doors, who huzza'd the brave chief when they used to see him
in his chariot going to the House or to the Drawing-room, or
hobbling on foot to his coach from St. Stephen's upon his glorious
old crutch and stick, and cheered him as loud as they had ever done
That great Duke was utterly disgraced; and honest old Webb dated
all his Grace's misfortunes from Wynendael, and vowed that Fate
served the traitor right. Duchess Sarah had also gone to ruin; she
had been forced to give up her keys, and her places, and her
pensions:--"Ah, ah!" says Webb, "she would have locked up three
millions of French crowns with her keys had I but been knocked on
the head, but I stopped that convoy at Wynendael." Our enemy
Cardonnel was turned out of the House of Commons (along with Mr.
Walpole) for malversation of public money. Cadogan lost his place
of Lieutenant of the Tower. Marlborough's daughters resigned their
posts of ladies of the bedchamber; and so complete was the Duke's
disgrace, that his son-in-law, Lord Bridgewater, was absolutely
obliged to give up his lodgings at St. James's, and had his half-
pension, as Master of the Horse, taken away. But I think the
lowest depth of Marlborough's fall was when he humbly sent to ask
General Webb when he might wait upon him; he who had commanded the
stout old General, who had injured him and sneered at him, who had
kept him dangling in his ante-chamber, who could not even after his
great service condescend to write him a letter in his own hand.
The nation was as eager for peace as ever it had been hot for war.
The Prince of Savoy came amongst us, had his audience of the Queen,
and got his famous Sword of Honor, and strove with all his force to
form a Whig party together, to bring over the young Prince of
Hanover to do anything which might prolong the war, and consummate
the ruin of the old sovereign whom he hated so implacably. But the
nation was tired of the struggle: so completely wearied of it that
not even our defeat at Denain could rouse us into any anger, though
such an action so lost two years before would have set all England
in a fury. 'Twas easy to see that the great Marlborough was not
with the army. Eugene was obliged to fall back in a rage, and
forego the dazzling revenge of his life. 'Twas in vain the Duke's
side asked, "Would we suffer our arms to be insulted? Would we not
send back the only champion who could repair our honor?" The
nation had had its bellyful of fighting; nor could taunts or
outcries goad up our Britons any more.
For a statesman that was always prating of liberty, and had the
grandest philosophic maxims in his mouth, it must be owned that Mr.
St. John sometimes rather acted like a Turkish than a Greek
philosopher, and especially fell foul of one unfortunate set of
men, the men of letters, with a tyranny a little extraordinary in a
man who professed to respect their calling so much. The literary
controversy at this time was very bitter, the Government side was
the winning one, the popular one, and I think might have been the
merciful one. 'Twas natural that the opposition should be peevish
and cry out: some men did so from their hearts, admiring the Duke
of Marlborough's prodigious talents, and deploring the disgrace of
the greatest general the world ever knew: 'twas the stomach that
caused other patriots to grumble, and such men cried out because
they were poor, and paid to do so. Against these my Lord
Bolingbroke never showed the slightest mercy, whipping a dozen into
prison or into the pillory without the least commiseration.
From having been a man of arms Mr. Esmond had now come to be a man
of letters, but on a safer side than that in which the above-cited
poor fellows ventured their liberties and ears. There was no
danger on ours, which was the winning side; besides, Mr. Esmond
pleased himself by thinking that he writ like a gentleman if he did
not always succeed as a wit.
Of the famous wits of that age, who have rendered Queen Anne's
reign illustrious, and whose works will be in all Englishmen's
hands in ages yet to come, Mr. Esmond saw many, but at public
places chiefly; never having a great intimacy with any of them,
except with honest Dick Steele and Mr. Addison, who parted company
with Esmond, however, when that gentleman became a declared Tory,
and lived on close terms with the leading persons of that party.
Addison kept himself to a few friends, and very rarely opened
himself except in their company. A man more upright and
conscientious than he it was not possible to find in public life,
and one whose conversation was so various, easy, and delightful.
Writing now in my mature years, I own that I think Addison's
politics were the right, and were my time to come over again, I
would be a Whig in England and not a Tory; but with people that
take a side in politics, 'tis men rather than principles that
commonly bind them. A kindness or a slight puts a man under one
flag or the other, and he marches with it to the end of the
campaign. Esmond's master in war was injured by Marlborough, and
hated him: and the lieutenant fought the quarrels of his leader.
Webb coming to London was used as a weapon by Marlborough's enemies
(and true steel he was, that honest chief); nor was his aide-de-
camp, Mr. Esmond, an unfaithful or unworthy partisan. 'Tis strange
here, and on a foreign soil, and in a land that is independent in
all but the name, (for that the North American colonies shall
remain dependants on yonder little island for twenty years more, I
never can think,) to remember how the nation at home seemed to give
itself up to the domination of one or other aristocratic party, and
took a Hanoverian king, or a French one, according as either
prevailed. And while the Tories, the October club gentlemen, the
High Church parsons that held by the Church of England, were for
having a Papist king, for whom many of their Scottish and English
leaders, firm churchmen all, laid down their lives with admirable
loyalty and devotion; they were governed by men who had notoriously
no religion at all, but used it as they would use any opinion for
the purpose of forwarding their own ambition. The Whigs, on the
other hand, who professed attachment to religion and liberty too,
were compelled to send to Holland or Hanover for a monarch around
whom they could rally. A strange series of compromises is that
English History; compromise of principle, compromise of party,
compromise of worship! The lovers of English freedom and
independence submitted their religious consciences to an Act of
Parliament; could not consolidate their liberty without sending to
Zell or the Hague for a king to live under; and could not find
amongst the proudest people in the world a man speaking their own
language, and understanding their laws, to govern them. The Tory
and High Church patriots were ready to die in defence of a Papist
family that had sold us to France; the great Whig nobles, the
sturdy republican recusants who had cut off Charles Stuart's head
for treason, were fain to accept a king whose title came to him
through a royal grandmother, whose own royal grandmother's head had
fallen under Queen Bess's hatchet. And our proud English nobles
sent to a petty German town for a monarch to come and reign in
London and our prelates kissed the ugly hands of his Dutch
mistresses, and thought it no dishonor. In England you can but
belong to one party or t'other, and you take the house you live in
with all its encumbrances, its retainers, its antique discomforts,
and ruins even; you patch up, but you never build up anew. Will we
of the new world submit much longer, even nominally, to this
ancient British superstition? There are signs of the times which
make me think that ere long we shall care as little about King
George here, and peers temporal and peers spiritual, as we do for
King Canute or the Druids.
This chapter began about the wits, my grandson may say, and hath
wandered very far from their company. The pleasantest of the wits
I knew were the Doctors Garth and Arbuthnot, and Mr. Gay, the
author of "Trivia," the most charming kind soul that ever laughed
at a joke or cracked a bottle. Mr. Prior I saw, and he was the
earthen pot swimming with the pots of brass down the stream, and
always and justly frightened lest he should break in the voyage. I
met him both at London and Paris, where he was performing piteous
congees to the Duke of Shrewsbury, not having courage to support
the dignity which his undeniable genius and talent had won him, and
writing coaxing letters to Secretary St. John, and thinking about
his plate and his place, and what on earth should become of him
should his party go out. The famous Mr. Congreve I saw a dozen of
times at Button's, a splendid wreck of a man, magnificently
attired, and though gouty, and almost blind, bearing a brave face
The great Mr. Pope (of whose prodigious genius I have no words to
express my admiration) was quite a puny lad at this time, appearing
seldom in public places. There were hundreds of men, wits, and
pretty fellows frequenting the theatres and coffee-houses of that
day--whom "nunc perscribere longum est." Indeed I think the most
brilliant of that sort I ever saw was not till fifteen years
afterwards, when I paid my last visit in England, and met young
Harry Fielding, son of the Fielding that served in Spain and
afterwards in Flanders with us, and who for fun and humor seemed to
top them all. As for the famous Dr. Swift, I can say of him, "Vidi
tantum." He was in London all these years up to the death of the
Queen; and in a hundred public places where I saw him, but no more;
he never missed Court of a Sunday, where once or twice he was
pointed out to your grandfather. He would have sought me out
eagerly enough had I been a great man with a title to my name, or a
star on my coat. At Court the Doctor had no eyes but for the very
greatest. Lord Treasurer and St. John used to call him Jonathan,
and they paid him with this cheap coin for the service they took of
him. He writ their lampoons, fought their enemies, flogged and
bullied in their service, and it must be owned with a consummate
skill and fierceness. 'Tis said he hath lost his intellect now,
and forgotten his wrongs and his rage against mankind. I have
always thought of him and of Marlborough as the two greatest men of
that age. I have read his books (who doth not know them?) here in
our calm woods, and imagine a giant to myself as I think of him, a
lonely fallen Prometheus, groaning as the vulture tears him.
Prometheus I saw, but when first I ever had any words with him, the
giant stepped out of a sedan chair in the Poultry, whither he had
come with a tipsy Irish servant parading before him, who announced
him, bawling out his Reverence's name, whilst his master below was
as yet haggling with the chairman. I disliked this Mr. Swift, and
heard many a story about him, of his conduct to men, and his words
to women. He could flatter the great as much as he could bully the
weak; and Mr. Esmond, being younger and hotter in that day than
now, was determined, should he ever meet this dragon, not to run
away from his teeth and his fire.
Men have all sorts of motives which carry them onwards in life, and
are driven into acts of desperation, or it may be of distinction,
from a hundred different causes. There was one comrade of
Esmond's, an honest little Irish lieutenant of Handyside's, who
owed so much money to a camp sutler, that he began to make love to
the man's daughter, intending to pay his debt that way; and at the
battle of Malplaquet, flying away from the debt and lady too, he
rushed so desperately on the French lines, that he got his company;
and came a captain out of the action, and had to marry the sutler's
daughter after all, who brought him his cancelled debt to her
father as poor Roger's fortune. To run out of the reach of bill
and marriage, he ran on the enemy's pikes; and as these did not
kill him he was thrown back upon t'other horn of his dilemma. Our
great Duke at the same battle was fighting, not the French, but the
Tories in England; and risking his life and the army's, not for his
country but for his pay and places; and for fear of his wife at
home, that only being in life whom he dreaded. I have asked about
men in my own company, (new drafts of poor country boys were
perpetually coming over to us during the wars, and brought from the
ploughshare to the sword,) and found that a half of them under the
flags were driven thither on account of a woman: one fellow was
jilted by his mistress and took the shilling in despair; another
jilted the girl, and fled from her and the parish to the tents
where the law could not disturb him. Why go on particularizing?
What can the sons of Adam and Eve expect, but to continue in that
course of love and trouble their father and mother set out on? Oh,
my grandson! I am drawing nigh to the end of that period of my
history, when I was acquainted with the great world of England and
Europe; my years are past the Hebrew poet's limit, and I say unto
thee, all my troubles and joys too, for that matter, have come from
a woman; as thine will when thy destined course begins. 'Twas a
woman that made a soldier of me, that set me intriguing afterwards;
I believe I would have spun smocks for her had she so bidden me;
what strength I had in my head I would have given her; hath not
every man in his degree had his Omphale and Delilah? Mine befooled
me on the banks of the Thames, and in dear old England; thou mayest
find thine own by Rappahannock.
To please that woman then I tried to distinguish myself as a
soldier, and afterwards as a wit and a politician; as to please
another I would have put on a black cassock and a pair of bands,
and had done so but that a superior fate intervened to defeat that
project. And I say, I think the world is like Captain Esmond's
company I spoke of anon; and could you see every man's career in
life, you would find a woman clogging him; or clinging round his
march and stopping him; or cheering him and goading him: or
beckoning him out of her chariot, so that he goes up to her, and
leaves the race to be run without him or bringing him the apple,
and saying "Eat;" or fetching him the daggers and whispering "Kill!
yonder lies Duncan, and a crown, and an opportunity."
Your grandfather fought with more effect as a politician than as a
wit: and having private animosities and grievances of his own and
his General's against the great Duke in command of the army, and
more information on military matters than most writers, who had
never seen beyond the fire of a tobacco-pipe at "Wills's," he was
enabled to do good service for that cause which he embarked in, and
for Mr. St. John and his party. But he disdained the abuse in
which some of the Tory writers indulged; for instance, Dr. Swift,
who actually chose to doubt the Duke of Marlborough's courage, and
was pleased to hint that his Grace's military capacity was
doubtful: nor were Esmond's performances worse for the effect they
were intended to produce, (though no doubt they could not injure
the Duke of Marlborough nearly so much in the public eyes as the
malignant attacks of Swift did, which were carefully directed so as
to blacken and degrade him,) because they were writ openly and
fairly by Mr. Esmond, who made no disguise of them, who was now out
of the army, and who never attacked the prodigious courage and
talents, only the selfishness and rapacity, of the chief.
The Colonel then, having writ a paper for one of the Tory journals,
called the Post-Boy, (a letter upon Bouchain, that the town talked
about for two whole days, when the appearance of an Italian singer
supplied a fresh subject for conversation,) and having business at
the Exchange, where Mistress Beatrix wanted a pair of gloves or a
fan very likely, Esmond went to correct his paper, and was sitting
at the printer's, when the famous Doctor Swift came in, his Irish
fellow with him that used to walk before his chair, and bawled out
his master's name with great dignity.
Mr. Esmond was waiting for the printer too, whose wife had gone to
the tavern to fetch him, and was meantime engaged in drawing a
picture of a soldier on horseback for a dirty little pretty boy of
the printer's wife, whom she had left behind her.
"I presume you are the editor of the Post-Boy, sir?" says the
Doctor, in a grating voice that had an Irish twang; and he looked
at the Colonel from under his two bushy eyebrows with a pair of
very clear blue eyes. His complexion was muddy, his figure rather
fat, his chin double. He wore a shabby cassock, and a shabby hat
over his black wig, and he pulled out a great gold watch, at which
he looks very fierce.
"I am but a contributor, Doctor Swift," says Esmond, with the
little boy still on his knee. He was sitting with his back in the
window, so that the Doctor could not see him.
"Who told you I was Dr. Swift?" says the Doctor, eying the other
"Your Reverence's valet bawled out your name," says the Colonel.
"I should judge you brought him from Ireland?"
"And pray, sir, what right have you to judge whether my servant
came from Ireland or no? I want to speak with your employer, Mr.
Leach. I'll thank ye go fetch him."
"Where's your papa, Tommy?" asks the Colonel of the child, a smutty
little wretch in a frock.
Instead of answering, the child begins to cry; the Doctor's
appearance had no doubt frightened the poor little imp.
"Send that squalling little brat about his business, and do what I
bid ye, sir," says the Doctor.
"I must finish, the picture first for Tommy," says the Colonel,
laughing. "Here, Tommy, will you have your Pandour with whiskers
"Whisters," says Tommy, quite intent on the picture.
"Who the devil are ye, sir?" cries the Doctor; "are ye a printer's
man or are ye not?" he pronounced it like NAUGHT.
"Your reverence needn't raise the devil to ask who I am," says
Colonel Esmond. "Did you ever hear of Doctor Faustus, little
Tommy? or Friar Bacon, who invented gunpowder, and set the Thames
Mr. Swift turned quite red, almost purple. "I did not intend any
offence, sir," says he.
"I dare say, sir, you offended without meaning," says the other,
"Who are ye, sir? Do you know who I am, sir? You are one of the
pack of Grub Street scribblers that my friend Mr. Secretary hath
laid by the heels. How dare ye, sir, speak to me in this tone?"
cries the Doctor, in a great fume.
"I beg your honor's humble pardon if I have offended your honor,"
says Esmond in a tone of great humility. "Rather than be sent to
the Compter, or be put in the pillory, there's nothing I wouldn't
do. But Mrs. Leach, the printer's lady, told me to mind Tommy
whilst she went for her husband to the tavern, and I daren't leave
the child lest he should fall into the fire; but if your Reverence
will hold him--"
"I take the little beast!" says the Doctor, starting back. "I am
engaged to your betters, fellow. Tell Mr. Leach that when he makes
an appointment with Dr. Swift he had best keep it, do ye hear? And
keep a respectful tongue in your head, sir, when you address a
person like me."
"I'm but a poor broken-down soldier," says the Colonel, "and I've
seen better days, though I am forced now to turn my hand to
writing. We can't help our fate, sir."
"You're the person that Mr. Leach hath spoken to me of, I presume.
Have the goodness to speak civilly when you are spoken to--and tell
Leach to call at my lodgings in Bury Street, and bring the papers
with him to-night at ten o'clock. And the next time you see me,
you'll know me, and be civil, Mr. Kemp."
Poor Kemp, who had been a lieutenant at the beginning of the war,
and fallen into misfortune, was the writer of the Post-Boy, and now
took honest Mr. Leach's pay in place of her Majesty's. Esmond had
seen this gentleman, and a very ingenious, hardworking honest
fellow he was, toiling to give bread to a great family, and
watching up many a long winter night to keep the wolf from his
door. And Mr. St. John, who had liberty always on his tongue, had
just sent a dozen of the opposition writers into prison, and one
actually into the pillory, for what he called libels, but libels
not half so violent as those writ on our side. With regard to this
very piece of tyranny, Esmond had remonstrated strongly with the
Secretary, who laughed and said the rascals were served quite
right; and told Esmond a joke of Swift's regarding the matter.
Nay, more, this Irishman, when St. John was about to pardon a poor
wretch condemned to death for rape, absolutely prevented the
Secretary from exercising this act of good-nature, and boasted that
he had had the man hanged; and great as the Doctor's genius might
be, and splendid his ability, Esmond for one would affect no love
for him, and never desired to make his acquaintance. The Doctor
was at Court every Sunday assiduously enough, a place the Colonel
frequented but rarely, though he had a great inducement to go there
in the person of a fair maid of honor of her Majesty's; and the
airs and patronage Mr. Swift gave himself, forgetting gentlemen of
his country whom he knew perfectly, his loud talk at once insolent
and servile, nay, perhaps his very intimacy with Lord Treasurer and
the Secretary, who indulged all his freaks and called him Jonathan,
you may be sure, were remarked by many a person of whom the proud
priest himself took no note, during that time of his vanity and
'Twas but three days after the 15th of November, 1712 (Esmond minds
him well of the date), that he went by invitation to dine with his
General, the foot of whose table he used to take on these festive
occasions, as he had done at many a board, hard and plentiful,
during the campaign. This was a great feast, and of the latter
sort; the honest old gentleman loved to treat his friends
splendidly: his Grace of Ormonde, before he joined his army as
generalissimo, my Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, one of her Majesty's
Secretaries of State, my Lord Orkney, that had served with us
abroad, being of the party. His Grace of Hamilton, Master of the
Ordnance, and in whose honor the feast had been given, upon his
approaching departure as Ambassador to Paris, had sent an excuse to
General Webb at two o'clock, but an hour before the dinner: nothing
but the most immediate business, his Grace said, should have
prevented him having the pleasure of drinking a parting glass to
the health of General Webb. His absence disappointed Esmond's old
chief, who suffered much from his wounds besides; and though the
company was grand, it was rather gloomy. St. John came last, and
brought a friend with him: "I'm sure," says my General, bowing very
politely, "my table hath always a place for Dr. Swift."
Mr. Esmond went up to the Doctor with a bow and a smile:--"I gave
Dr. Swift's message," says he, "to the printer: I hope he brought
your pamphlet to your lodgings in time." Indeed poor Leach had
come to his house very soon after the Doctor left it, being brought
away rather tipsy from the tavern by his thrifty wife; and he
talked of Cousin Swift in a maudlin way, though of course Mr.
Esmond did not allude to this relationship. The Doctor scowled,
blushed, and was much confused, and said scarce a word during the
whole of dinner. A very little stone will sometimes knock down
these Goliaths of wit; and this one was often discomfited when met
by a man of any spirit; he took his place sulkily, put water in his
wine that the others drank plentifully, and scarce said a word.
The talk was about the affairs of the day, or rather about persons
than affairs: my Lady Marlborough's fury, her daughters in old
clothes and mob-caps looking out from their windows and seeing the
company pass to the Drawing-room; the gentleman-usher's horror when
the Prince of Savoy was introduced to her Majesty in a tie-wig, no
man out of a full-bottomed periwig ever having kissed the Royal
hand before; about the Mohawks and the damage they were doing,
rushing through the town, killing and murdering. Some one said the
ill-omened face of Mohun had been seen at the theatre the night
before, and Macartney and Meredith with him. Meant to be a feast,
the meeting, in spite of drink and talk, was as dismal as a
funeral. Every topic started subsided into gloom. His Grace of
Ormonde went away because the conversation got upon Denain, where
we had been defeated in the last campaign. Esmond's General was
affected at the allusion to this action too, for his comrade of
Wynendael, the Count of Nassau Woudenbourg, had been slain there.
Mr. Swift, when Esmond pledged him, said he drank no wine, and took
his hat from the peg and went away, beckoning my Lord Bolingbroke
to follow him; but the other bade him take his chariot and save his
coach-hire--he had to speak with Colonel Esmond; and when the rest
of the company withdrew to cards, these two remained behind in the
Bolingbroke always spoke freely when he had drunk freely. His
enemies could get any secret out of him in that condition; women
were even employed to ply him, and take his words down. I have
heard that my Lord Stair, three years after, when the Secretary
fled to France and became the Pretender's Minister, got all the
information he wanted by putting female spies over St. John in his
cups. He spoke freely now:--"Jonathan knows nothing of this for
certain, though he suspects it, and by George, Webb will take an
Archbishopric, and Jonathan a--no,--damme--Jonathan will take an
Arch-bishopric from James, I warrant me, gladly enough. Your Duke
hath the string of the whole matter in his hand," the Secretary
went on. "We have that which will force Marlborough to keep his
distance, and he goes out of London in a fortnight. Prior hath his
business; he left me this morning, and mark me, Harry, should fate
carry off our august, our beloved, our most gouty and plethoric
Queen, and Defender of the Faith, la bonne cause triomphera. A la
sante de la bonne cause! Everything good comes from France. Wine
comes from France; give us another bumper to the bonne cause." We
drank it together.
"Will the bonne cause turn Protestant?" asked Mr. Esmond.
"No, hang it," says the other, "he'll defend our Faith as in duty
bound, but he'll stick by his own. The Hind and the Panther shall
run in the same car, by Jove. Righteousness and peace shall kiss
each other: and we'll have Father Massillon to walk down the aisle
of St. Paul's, cheek by jowl with Dr. Sacheverel. Give us more
wine; here's a health to the bonne cause, kneeling--damme, let's
drink it kneeling." He was quite flushed and wild with wine as he
"And suppose," says Esmond, who always had this gloomy apprehension,
"the bonne cause should give us up to the French, as his father
and uncle did before him?"
"Give us up to the French!" starts up Bolingbroke; "is there any
English gentleman that fears that? You who have seen Blenheim and
Ramillies, afraid of the French! Your ancestors and mine, and
brave old Webb's yonder, have met them in a hundred fields, and our
children will be ready to do the like. Who's he that wishes for
more men from England? My Cousin Westmoreland? Give us up to the
"His uncle did," says Mr. Esmond.
"And what happened to his grandfather?" broke out St. John, filling
out another bumper. "Here's to the greatest monarch England ever
saw; here's to the Englishman that made a kingdom of her. Our
great King came from Huntingdon, not Hanover; our fathers didn't
look for a Dutchman to rule us. Let him come and we'll keep him,
and we'll show him Whitehall. If he's a traitor let us have him
here to deal with him; and then there are spirits here as great as
any that have gone before. There are men here that can look at
danger in the face and not be frightened at it. Traitor! treason!
what names are these to scare you and me? Are all Oliver's men
dead, or his glorious name forgotten in fifty years? Are there no
men equal to him, think you, as good--ay, as good? God save the
King! and, if the monarchy fails us, God save the British Republic!"
He filled another great bumper, and tossed it up and drained it
wildly, just as the noise of rapid carriage-wheels approaching was
stopped at our door, and after a hurried knock and a moment's
interval, Mr. Swift came into the hall, ran up stairs to the room
we were dining in, and entered it with a perturbed face. St. John,
excited with drink, was making some wild quotation out of Macbeth,
but Swift stopped him.
"Drink no more, my lord, for God's sake!" says he. "I come with
the most dreadful news."
"Is the Queen dead?" cries out Bolingbroke, seizing on a water-
"No, Duke Hamilton is dead: he was murdered an hour ago by Mohun
and Macartney; they had a quarrel this morning; they gave him not
so much time as to write a letter. He went for a couple of his
friends, and he is dead, and Mohun, too, the bloody villain, who
was set on him. They fought in Hyde Park just before sunset; the
Duke killed Mohun, and Macartney came up and stabbed him, and the
dog is fled. I have your chariot below; send to every part of the
country and apprehend that villain; come to the Duke's house and
see if any life be left in him."
"Oh, Beatrix, Beatrix," thought Esmond, "and here ends my poor
There had been no need to urge upon Esmond the necessity of a
separation between him and Beatrix: Fate had done that completely;
and I think from the very moment poor Beatrix had accepted the
Duke's offer, she began to assume the majestic air of a Duchess,
nay, Queen Elect, and to carry herself as one sacred and removed
from us common people. Her mother and kinsman both fell into her
ways, the latter scornfully perhaps, and uttering his usual gibes
at her vanity and his own. There was a certain charm about this
girl of which neither Colonel Esmond nor his fond mistress could
forego the fascination; in spite of her faults and her pride and
wilfulness, they were forced to love her; and, indeed, might be set
down as the two chief flatterers of the brilliant creature's court.
Who, in the course of his life, hath not been so bewitched, and
worshipped some idol or another? Years after this passion hath
been dead and buried, along with a thousand other worldly cares and
ambitions, he who felt it can recall it out of its grave, and
admire, almost as fondly as he did in his youth, that lovely
queenly creature. I invoke that beautiful spirit from the shades
and love her still; or rather I should say such a past is always
present to a man; such a passion once felt forms a part of his
whole being, and cannot be separated from it; it becomes a portion
of the man of to-day, just as any great faith or conviction, the
discovery of poetry, the awakening of religion, ever afterwards
influence him; just as the wound I had at Blenheim, and of which I
wear the scar, hath become part of my frame and influenced my whole
body, nay, spirit subsequently, though 'twas got and healed forty
years ago. Parting and forgetting! What faithful heart can do
these? Our great thoughts, our great affections, the Truths of our
life, never leave us. Surely, they cannot separate from our
consciousness; shall follow it whithersoever that shall go; and are
of their nature divine and immortal.
With the horrible news of this catsstrophe, which was confirmed by
the weeping domestics at the Duke's own door, Esmond rode homewards
as quick as his lazy coach would carry him, devising all the time
how he should break the intelligence to the person most concerned
in it; and if a satire upon human vanity could be needed, that poor
soul afforded it in the altered company and occupations in which
Esmond found her. For days before, her chariot had been rolling
the street from mercer to toyshop--from goldsmith to laceman: her
taste was perfect, or at least the fond bridegroom had thought so,
and had given her entire authority over all tradesmen, and for all
the plate, furniture and equipages, with which his Grace the
Ambassador wished to adorn his splendid mission. She must have her
picture by Kneller, a duchess not being complete without a
portrait, and a noble one he made, and actually sketched in, on a
cushion, a coronet which she was about to wear. She vowed she
would wear it at King James the Third's coronation, and never a
princess in the land would have become ermine better. Esmond found
the ante-chamber crowded with milliners and toyshop women,
obsequious goldsmiths with jewels, salvers, and tankards; and
mercers' men with hangings, and velvets, and brocades. My Lady
Duchess elect was giving audience to one famous silversmith from
Exeter Change, who brought with him a great chased salver, of which
he was pointing out the beauties as Colonel Esmond entered.
"Come," says she, "cousin, and admire the taste of this pretty
thing." I think Mars and Venus were lying in the golden bower,
that one gilt Cupid carried off the war-god's casque--another his
sword--another his great buckler, upon which my Lord Duke
Hamilton's arms with ours were to be engraved--and a fourth was
kneeling down to the reclining goddess with the ducal coronet in
her hands, God help us! The next time Mr. Esmond saw that piece of
plate, the arms were changed, the ducal coronet had been replaced
by a viscount's; it formed part of the fortune of the thrifty
goldsmith's own daughter, when she married my Lord Viscount
Squanderfield two years after.
"Isn't this a beautiful piece?" says Beatrix, examining it, and she
pointed out the arch graces of the Cupids, and the fine carving of
the languid prostrate Mars. Esmond sickened as he thought of the
warrior dead in his chamber, his servants and children weeping
around him; and of this smiling creature attiring herself, as it
were, for that nuptial death-bed. "'Tis a pretty piece of vanity,"
says he, looking gloomily at the beautiful creature: there were
flambeaux in the room lighting up the brilliant mistress of it.
She lifted up the great gold salver with her fair arms.
"Vanity!" says she, haughtily. "What is vanity in you, sir, is
propriety in me. You ask a Jewish price for it, Mr. Graves; but
have it I will, if only to spite Mr. Esmond."
"Oh, Beatrix, lay it down!" says Mr. Esmond. "Herodias! you know
not what you carry in the charger."
She dropped it with a clang; the eager goldsmith running to seize
his fallen ware. The lady's face caught the fright from Esmond's
pale countenance, and her eyes shone out like beacons of alarm:--
"What is it, Henry!" says she, running to him, and seizing both his
hands. "What do you mean by your pale face and gloomy tones?"
"Come away, come away!" says Esmond, leading her: she clung
frightened to him, and he supported her upon his heart, bidding the
scared goldsmith leave them. The man went into the next apartment,
staring with surprise, and hugging his precious charger.
"Oh, my Beatrix, my sister!" says Esmond, still holding in his arms
the pallid and affrighted creature, "you have the greatest courage
of any woman in the world; prepare to show it now, for you have a
dreadful trial to bear."
She sprang away from the friend who would have protected her:--
"Hath he left me?" says she. "We had words this morning: he was
very gloomy, and I angered him: but he dared not, he dared not!"
As she spoke a burning blush flushed over her whole face and bosom.
Esmond saw it reflected in the glass by which she stood, with
clenched hands, pressing her swelling heart.
"He has left you," says Esmond, wondering that rage rather than
sorrow was in her looks.
"And he is alive," cried Beatrix, "and you bring me this
commission! He has left me, and you haven't dared to avenge me!
You, that pretend to be the champion of our house, have let me
suffer this insult! Where is Castlewood? I will go to my
"The Duke is not alive, Beatrix," said Esmond.
She looked at her cousin wildly, and fell back to the wall as
though shot in the breast:--"And you come here, and--and--you
"No; thank heaven!" her kinsman said. "The blood of that noble
heart doth not stain my sword! In its last hour it was faithful to
thee, Beatrix Esmond. Vain and cruel woman! kneel and thank the
awful heaven which awards life and death, and chastises pride, that
the noble Hamilton died true to you; at least that 'twas not your
quarrel, or your pride, or your wicked vanity, that drove him to
his fate. He died by the bloody sword which already had drank your
own father's blood. O woman, O sister! to that sad field where two
corpses are lying--for the murderer died too by the hand of the man
he slew--can you bring no mourners but your revenge and your
vanity? God help and pardon thee, Beatrix, as he brings this awful
punishment to your hard and rebellious heart."
Esmond had scarce done speaking, when his mistress came in. The
colloquy between him and Beatrix had lasted but a few minutes,
during which time Esmond's servant had carried the disastrous news
through the household. The army of Vanity Fair, waiting without,
gathered up all their fripperies and fled aghast. Tender Lady
Castlewood had been in talk above with Dean Atterbury, the pious
creature's almoner and director; and the Dean had entered with her
as a physician whose place was at a sick-bed. Beatrix's mother
looked at Esmond and ran towards her daughter, with a pale face and
open heart and hands, all kindness and pity. But Beatrix passed
her by, nor would she have any of the medicaments of the spiritual
physician. "I am best in my own room and by myself," she said.
Her eyes were quite dry; nor did Esmond ever see them otherwise,
save once, in respect to that grief. She gave him a cold hand as
she went out: "Thank you, brother," she said, in a low voice, and
with a simplicity more touching than tears; "all you have said is
true and kind, and I will go away and ask pardon." The three
others remained behind, and talked over the dreadful story. It
affected Dr. Atterbury more even than us, as it seemed. The death
of Mohun, her husband's murderer, was more awful to my mistress
than even the Duke's unhappy end. Esmond gave at length what
particulars he knew of their quarrel, and the cause of it. The two
noblemen had long been at war with respect to the Lord Gerard's
property, whose two daughters my Lord Duke and Mohun had married.
They had met by appointment that day at the lawyer's in Lincoln's
Inn Fields; had words which, though they appeared very trifling to
those who heard them, were not so to men exasperated by long and
previous enmity. Mohun asked my Lord Duke where he could see his
Grace's friends, and within an hour had sent two of his own to
arrange this deadly duel. It was pursued with such fierceness, and
sprung from so trifling a cause, that all men agreed at the time
that there was a party, of which these three notorious brawlers
were but agents, who desired to take Duke Hamilton's life away.
They fought three on a side, as in that tragic meeting twelve years
back, which hath been recounted already, and in which Mohun
performed his second murder. They rushed in, and closed upon each
other at once without any feints or crossing of swords even, and
stabbed one at the other desperately, each receiving many wounds;
and Mohun having his death-wound, and my Lord Duke lying by him,
Macartney came up and stabbed his Grace as he lay on the ground,
and gave him the blow of which he died. Colonel Macartney denied
this, of which the horror and indignation of the whole kingdom
would nevertheless have him guilty, and fled the country, whither
he never returned.
What was the real cause of the Duke Hamilton's death?--a paltry
quarrel that might easily have been made up, and with a ruffian so
low, base, profligate, and degraded with former crimes and repeated
murders, that a man of such renown and princely rank as my Lord
Duke might have disdained to sully his sword with the blood of such
a villain. But his spirit was so high that those who wished his
death knew that his courage was like his charity, and never turned
any man away; and he died by the hands of Mohun, and the other two
cut-throats that were set on him. The Queen's ambassador to Paris
died, the loyal and devoted servant of the House of Stuart, and a
Royal Prince of Scotland himself, and carrying the confidence, the
repentance of Queen Anne along with his own open devotion, and the
good-will of millions in the country more, to the Queen's exiled
brother and sovereign.
That party to which Lord Mohun belonged had the benefit of his
service, and now were well rid of such a ruffian. He, and
Meredith, and Macartney, were the Duke of Marlborough's men; and
the two colonels had been broke but the year before for drinking
perdition to the Tories. His Grace was a Whig now and a
Hanoverian, and as eager for war as Prince Eugene himself. I say
not that he was privy to Duke Hamilton's death, I say that his
party profited by it; and that three desperate and bloody
instruments were found to effect that murder.
As Esmond and the Dean walked away from Kensington discoursing of
this tragedy, and how fatal it was to the cause which they both had
at heart, the street-criers were already out with their broadsides,
shouting through the town the full, true, and horrible account of
the death of Lord Mohun and Duke Hamilton in a duel. A fellow had
got to Kensington, and was crying it in the square there at very
early morning, when Mr. Esmond happened to pass by. He drove the
man from under Beatrix's very window, whereof the casement had been
set open. The sun was shining though 'twas November: he had seen
the market-carts rolling into London, the guard relieved at the
palace, the laborers trudging to their work in the gardens between
Kensington and the City--the wandering merchants and hawkers
filling the air with their cries. The world was going to its
business again, although dukes lay dead and ladies mourned for
them; and kings, very likely, lost their chances. So night and day
pass away, and to-morrow comes, and our place knows us not. Esmond
thought of the courier, now galloping on the North road to inform
him, who was Earl of Arran yesterday, that he was Duke of Hamilton
to-day, and of a thousand great schemes, hopes, ambitions, that
were alive in the gallant heart, beating a few hours since, and now
in a little dust quiescent.
I VISIT CASTLEWOOD ONCE MORE.
Thus, for a third time, Beatrix's ambitious hopes were
circumvented, and she might well believe that a special malignant
fate watched and pursued her, tearing her prize out of her hand
just as she seemed to grasp it, and leaving her with only rage and
grief for her portion. Whatever her feelings might have been of
anger or of sorrow, (and I fear me that the former emotion was that
which most tore her heart,) she would take no confidant, as people
of softer natures would have done under such a calamity; her mother
and her kinsman knew that she would disdain their pity, and that to
offer it would be but to infuriate the cruel wound which fortune
had inflicted. We knew that her pride was awfully humbled and
punished by this sudden and terrible blow; she wanted no teaching
of ours to point out the sad moral of her story. Her fond mother
could give but her prayers, and her kinsman his faithful friendship
and patience to the unhappy, stricken creature; and it was only by
hints, and a word or two uttered months afterwards, that Beatrix
showed she understood their silent commiseration, and on her part
was secretly thankful for their forbearance. The people about the
Court said there was that in her manner which frightened away
scoffing and condolence: she was above their triumph and their
pity, and acted her part in that dreadful tragedy greatly and
courageously; so that those who liked her least were yet forced to
admire her. We, who watched her after her disaster, could not but
respect the indomitable courage and majestic calm with which she
bore it. "I would rather see her tears than her pride," her mother
said, who was accustomed to bear her sorrows in a very different
way, and to receive them as the stroke of God, with an awful
submission and meekness. But Beatrix's nature was different to
that tender parent's; she seemed to accept her grief and to defy
it; nor would she allow it (I believe not even in private and in
her own chamber) to extort from her the confession of even a tear
of humiliation or a cry of pain. Friends and children of our race,
who come after me, in which way will you bear your trials? I know
one that prays God will give you love rather than pride, and that
the Eye all-seeing shall find you in the humble place. Not that we
should judge proud spirits otherwise than charitably. 'Tis nature
hath fashioned some for ambition and dominion, as it hath formed
others for obedience and gentle submission. The leopard follows
his nature as the lamb does, and acts after leopard law; she can
neither help her beauty, nor her courage, nor her cruelty; nor a
single spot on her shining coat; nor the conquering spirit which
impels her; nor the shot which brings her down.
During that well-founded panic the Whigs had, lest the Queen should
forsake their Hanoverian Prince, bound by oaths and treaties as she
was to him, and recall her brother, who was allied to her by yet
stronger ties of nature and duty; the Prince of Savoy, and the
boldest of that party of the Whigs, were for bringing the young
Duke of Cambridge over, in spite of the Queen, and the outcry of
her Tory servants, arguing that the Electoral Prince, a Peer and
Prince of the Blood-Royal of this Realm too, and in the line of
succession to the crown, had, a right to sit in the Parliament
whereof he was a member, and to dwell in the country which he one
day was to govern. Nothing but the strongest ill will expressed by
the Queen, and the people about her, and menaces of the Royal
resentment, should this scheme be persisted in, prevented it from
being carried into effect.
The boldest on our side were, in like manner, for having our Prince
into the country. The undoubted inheritor of the right divine; the
feelings of more than half the nation, of almost all the clergy, of
the gentry of England and Scotland with him; entirely innocent of
the crime for which his father suffered--brave, young, handsome,
unfortunate--who in England would dare to molest the Prince should
he come among us, and fling himself upon British generosity,
hospitality, and honor? An invader with an army of Frenchmen
behind him, Englishmen of spirit would resist to the death, and
drive back to the shores whence he came; but a Prince, alone, armed
with his right only, and relying on the loyalty of his people, was
sure, many of his friends argued, of welcome, at least of safety,
among us. The hand of his sister the Queen, of the people his
subjects, never could be raised to do him a wrong. But the Queen
was timid by nature, and the successive Ministers she had, had
private causes for their irresolution. The bolder and honester
men, who had at heart the illustrious young exile's cause, had no
scheme of interest of their own to prevent them from seeing the
right done, and, provided only he came as an Englishman, were ready
to venture their all to welcome and defend him.
St. John and Harley both had kind words in plenty for the Prince's