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The Letter-Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope v. I. by A. M. W. Stirling (compiler)

Part 4 out of 6

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to Lisbon.

It was a singularly exciting time to venture upon the continent. The very
atmosphere seemed permeated with terror of Napoleon. Each country was on
the defensive, struggling openly or surreptitiously to preserve its
threatened liberty; while the one topic of conversation was the defeat or
the success of armies. Thus the correspondence of the young travellers, so
eagerly awaited and devoured by the family in Grosvenor Square, serves to
throw many interesting sidelights upon continental existence during a
period of history with regard to which interest can never wax cold. [2]

John Stanhope and his friend for some time wrote from Lisbon, where, under
the auspices of the new Minister, they mixed in the best society, and met
the most prominent civil and military residents of the day. Among others,
they saw a great deal of General, afterwards Lord, Beresford [3] and were
much struck by the discipline of the Portuguese troops under his command.

A field-marshal in the British Army, William Carr Beresford, had, in 1807,
been appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the island of Madeira.
Subsequent to the Battle of Corunna, at which he was present, he was sent
back to Portugal to take command of the troops there, and at the head of
12,000 men he drove back the French. Of the difficulties, however, with
which he had to contend in his stupendous task, John Stanhope gives a
graphic description.

"At the time," he relates, "when Beresford was appointed to the command of
the Portuguese army, it was conspicuous for a lack of discipline which in
these days would hardly be credited. To say that it was the worst in
Europe would hardly give any idea of its degradation. The Portuguese
soldiers were a weak, worthless rabble, without pluck or organisation, and
practically useless for the campaign. Nor was the Government of the
country in a much better state; a long series of misgovernment had
introduced every species of corruption and deteriorated the character of
the people."

But the English general at once took a characteristic method of dealing
with a complex situation, and produced order out of chaos in the following
drastic manner.

"Lord John Russell," relates John Stanhope, "once told me an anecdote of
Beresford's first advent in Portugal, which serves so well to illustrate
his character that I cannot do better than retail it.

"Upon one of the first occasions of his taking the field with the
Portuguese troops, an officer, after having been despatched to a
particular post, came galloping back to him.

"'Why are you come here?' asked the marshal, surprised.

"'The fire was so hot,' the man exclaimed, 'that if I had remained there a
moment longer, I should certainly have been shot.'

"'_Shot_! but, to be sure, it was to be shot that I sent you there! Now, I
will give you fresh directions. I advise you to give in your resignation,
otherwise you must go back whence you came and be shot, or else be tried
by court-martial, which will come to the same thing!'

"The officer, who was of high rank, took the hint; he gave in his
resignation, and the other Portuguese officers learnt that under the
English commander it was necessary to make up their minds to be shot."

"Further," John Stanhope adds, "Beresford cashiered the field officers of
every regiment in the service. The fury that prevailed in the country at
such a measure may be better imagined than described. It was believed that
thousands of stilettoes would be raised against the tyrant Beresford. He
heard both threats and murmurs with perfect apathy, and immediately put at
the head of each regiment young officers belonging to our service,
distinguished for their spirit and decision. Raised to a rank above their
highest expectations, these young men were anxious to justify his choice
by their conduct, as well as to distinguish themselves; and gloriously did
they succeed. To content myself with mentioning one instance, I will
relate the case of Colonel Campbell, an officer whom I know well here in
Lisbon.

"Campbell was appointed to the command of one of the regiments of cavalry,
and the first breach of discipline which came under his notice was that of
a private striking an officer. Campbell determined to make a signal
example of the culprit. He was promptly warned, however, that when, upon
some previous occasion, a similar event had taken place, on the officer
then in command attempting to inflict punishment upon the delinquent, the
entire Regiment mutinied. Campbell, on hearing this, came to a quick
decision. He advanced and faced his battalion with a pistol in each hand.
He made them a brief speech in which he pointed out how glaring a breach
of discipline it was for a private to strike his superior; and he ended by
saying that he understood in a similar case the regiment had mutinied.
'I,' he concluded quietly, 'am determined that this man _shall_ be
punished; if you intend to mutiny, you must begin with me. I am perfectly
ready to receive you.' He then cocked his pistols and waited imperturbably
in expectation of the result. No one moved. Awed by his manner and his
threat, not a murmur escaped from the soldiers who confronted him, and
Campbell's influence over his men was permanently established, so that he
soon had the satisfaction of seeing them one of the best disciplined
regiments in the service.

"Marshal Beresford, who was capable of selecting his subordinates with
such perspicuity, did not fail to set them an example which roused their
emulation, so that the soldiers soon became proud of their own discipline,
and consequently attached to their officers and devoted to their marshal,
till the latter, adored by the army, is become completely dictator of
Portugal, his word is law, and the regency is little better than the
shadow of Government. Moreover, the marshal acts his part to perfection,
riding about the town in semi-regal state, surrounded by a brilliant
staff. The man who has accomplished all this may not be a genius, but he
has a right to be considered an extraordinary man, a man of the highest
courage and energy.

"To show the extent of his power and the coolness with which he exercises
it, I have only to instance the case of the embargo laid upon horses which
are private property. At the instigation of Beresford, an order was issued
for all the horses in the kingdom above a certain height to be taken for
the use of the army, the Government allowing a fixed price for each. One
of the first persons against whom the order was enforced was the Prince
Regent; his carriage, under the charge of some officers of his household,
was actually stopped in the town and the horses taken out of the vehicle,
which was left standing in the middle of the street. The Portugese at once
recognized that if the order was executed so strictly against the Regent
himself, his subjects were not likely to be treated with more
consideration, and the entire nation submitted with a good grace to the
inevitable. Portugal, in short, in the manner in which all deferred to the
dictation of Beresford, affords an extraordinary proof of how much may be
done towards regenerating a people by the hand of a vigorous ruler."

The Regent, however, if ignominiously bereft of horses, appears to have
remained the owner of innumerable unique, if useless carriages, which, on
one occasion, John Stanhope was taken to see.

"I was extremely amused," he writes, "with these curious specimens of
ancient magnificence. Some of the coaches were literally rooms on wheels.
They were extraordinarily cumbrous, covered with gilding and lined with
velvet, embroidered in gold. Many of them were decorated with pictures on
the panels and large gilt figures in front of the boxes. There were,
however, some of a more modern construction which had been built in Paris,
and one of these was pointed out to me as celebrated for having conveyed
the English generals on their entry into Lisbon after the famous
Convention of Cintra. Upon this occasion, I understand, it broke down and
became the cause of much wit among the generals as to whether it was their
personal weight or the weight of their dignity that caused their fall. Had
they been superstitious, they might have feared that it was ominous of a
yet greater fall!"

At length the two young travellers determined to journey on into Spain;
but in order to accomplish this, it was necessary first to buy horses--no
easy matter, since all that were available had been seized for the army.
After considerable delay Stanhope heard of a pretty little black
Andalusian, which belonged to a Spanish gentleman willing to sell it, and
lost no time in going to see the animal. He found that it furnished one of
the most quaint instances which he had yet come across of the intense
hatred to the French then universally cherished. "I took a great fancy to
it," he says, "from a curious trick which it had been taught; one,
however, which would have proved very inconvenient to me. _The moment it
heard anyone speak French, it put back its ears and flew at him!_ As I
wished to try this intelligent animal before I made my bargain, I returned
to give orders that my saddle should be sent to its stables; but in the
meantime, to my great disappointment, the servant in charge sold it to
another man, unknown to his master, and for a less price than I should
have been willing to give for such a remarkable animal."

At last, having procured the necessary steeds, the travellers started on
their journey, encountering many adventures and seeing many interesting
sights by the way. On one occasion they were quartered for some days upon
a poor Captain Major, whose habitation was a humble hut in a singularly
lonely district. Yet they found that he was a learned man, who had his
small but treasured library; and in the latter John Stanhope was further
astonished to find that one of the volumes which its owner considered most
priceless was a Latin translation of Young's _Night Thoughts_.

"It is a curious thing," he remarks, "that this work, held in general in
but little estimation in England, is invariably one of those most admired
throughout the entire Continent, not only by the Portugese, but
particularly by the lively Spanish."

It was men of the rank of their host, he adds, who had given occasion to
an amusing mistake on his part upon his first arrival in the country:
"According to the Portugese pronunciation," he writes, "_Major_ sounds
like _Moor_ or _More_. The first time I met a Captain Moor, I was much
surprised at finding a man of that name in Portugal; but when at every
turn I found another Captain Moor, I could no longer refrain from
expressing my astonishment at meeting with so many of that family, _and
all Captains!_ The laugh that was raised at my expense may be imagined!"

The two young travellers at length reached Cadiz, which was then besieged
by the French army. Almost one of the first things which struck John
Stanhope with regard to the city, he records as a feat both novel and
ingenious:--

Situated as Cadiz is, almost in the midst of the sea, the constant
breaking of the waves was sufficient to endanger, not only the walls
of the city, but even the neighbouring houses. A Spanish engineer, Don
Thomas Minoz, undertook to provide a curious security against so
alarming a danger. He effected his purpose by placing, at certain
intervals, large planks extending some distance into the sea; these
intervals he filled up with stones and cemented with a peculiar
species of mortar which had the advantage of becoming hardened by the
effects of time and exposure to weather; the wall above he built in
the shape of a bow; by these means the force of the waves was
effectually broken. But he met with those difficulties that so
frequently are opposed to the efforts of men of distinguished genius.
His labours were, in the first instance, counteracted by the misguided
parsimony of his employers, and subsequently, when completed, the work
was neglected and not kept in repair, in opposition to his express
injunctions, so that a great part of the cliff has since fallen.

The morning following his arrival, young Stanhope was taken to be
introduced to Admiral Purvis, then in command of the fleet off that coast;
and, having received from him an invitation to dinner, he returned on
shore to pay his respects, in the interval, to the Minister, Mr Wellesley.
On again boarding the ship he found the Admiral occupied in studying
through a telescope a vessel then in sight, which to Stanhope's great
excitement he explained was the _Ville de Paris_ returning to England with
Lord Collingwood. Overjoyed at the unexpected prospect of seeing, not only
his kinsman, but also his brother William, young Stanhope begged to be
allowed to accompany Admiral Purvis in paying a visit to the approaching
ship. Accordingly they snatched a hurried meal and set off in a small
boat. Scarcely, however, had they embarked than they were greeted by the
tidings that the vessel which they proposed to visit bore, not the brave
Admiral returning to his native land, but his lifeless corpse, worn out
with an arduous service sustained too long.

They immediately tacked about and returned to the ship they had just
quitted, and thence young Stanhope watched the stately _Ville de Paris_ as
she approached over the shining water, while he thought sadly of the
gallant life which had thus ended, and of the grief which the news that
had thus strangely become known to him would be learnt, many weeks later,
by his family in Grosvenor Square. The following day he saw his brother
William, now a sturdy youth grown out of all recognition; then the
brothers parted once more, William eventually to return to England, his
naval career ended, and John to experience a fate which he then little
foresaw.

He, with his companion Knox, remained some time in Cadiz, taking great
interest in the operations of attack and defence, into which they were
initiated by their friend, the celebrated Lord Macduff, [4] an
exceptionally keen and gallant soldier, who, however, apparently owed his
predilection for war to a singularly horrible event in his life.

"A tragic episode," writes John Stanhope, "has rendered the excitement of
active service an absolute necessity to him. His delight in battle arises
solely from the loss of a beloved wife, and sadly calculated was the end
of the beautiful Mrs Macduff to make the most serious impression on a
husband's mind, all the more so, perhaps, in that so fully did she merit
that epithet _beautiful_ which was always attached to her name. She had a
Newfoundland dog, which one day leapt up in apparent affection, and
catching her nose, gave it a bite, which not only seemed little more than
a scratch, but as the dog had just sprung out of the water no suspicion
attached to him. After some lapse of time, however, Mrs Duff was seized
with symptoms of hydrophobia, and soon fell a victim to that dreadful
disorder. Such a death for anyone cannot be contemplated without a
shudder, but in the case of one in the full pride of youth and exceptional
beauty, it appears, if possible, more inexpressibly horrible; and her
unhappy husband has subsequently striven to find even a temporary oblivion
of it in the greatest of earthly excitements--the din of arms."

Mixing with the most interesting society of Spain, enjoying many novel
experiences and encountering many famous people, the days of the young
travellers passed pleasantly. The Spaniards at this date cherished the
most profound admiration for the English. "They," explains John Stanhope,
"consider an Englishman as something superhuman, and, indeed, are anxious
that 'George terceo' should come to reign over them." He was also much
struck by the "devotion of the entire nation to the forms of their
religion"; and he adds: "There is, perhaps, nothing more striking amongst
the numerous ceremonies of this superstitious people than the effect
produced by what is usually known as the Angelus. On a fine evening in
summer, when the Alameda is crowded with Spaniards of all classes,
enjoying the delights of a Southern sky and the pure breezes of the sea,
at one moment all is noise and animation, the eyes, the tongues, the faces
of the fair Andalusians are all in motion and the Spanish _caballeros_ all
devoted to the terrestrial object of their adoration: on a sudden, the
Angelus sounds, the whole babel stops, a profound stillness falls like a
cloud over the gay scene, and everyone remains totally absorbed in prayer
so long as the sound of the bell is heard. It is scarcely possible to
convey any adequate idea of the effect produced by the instantaneous
silence of so vast a crowd. The moment the bell ceases, each addresses a
salutation to the person whom chance has thrown near him, and the
stillness--so striking, so solemn--is as suddenly broken by the
recommencement of all the former pandemonium and a deafening noise of
eager tongues.

"Yet in Spain a religion of forms and ceremonies seems to have been
substituted for a religion of Christian purity and morality. Although the
large majority of the population are devoted to their Church, they yet
imagine that if they strictly observe her ceremonies, fast rigidly, and go
regularly to confession, they have done all that is requisite. The
consequence of this state of things is the prevalence of the greatest
profligacy, which is fostered by the innumerable herd of monks who infest
the country. Common prostitutes sell indulgences which exempt from fasting
in Lent; and by what means they have obtained possession of these it is
not difficult to conjecture."

Another great drawback which John Stanhope found to life at Cadiz at that
date was the prevalence of a condition of society which entailed that each
Spanish lady should have her cortejo, or devoted attendant. "Behind each
lady who smiles at you," he explains, "there stands--not a duenna, such a
one as is represented on our stage--but a grim, black, ugly grandee, ready
to avenge with the stiletto every glance you may chance to give to the
lady of his love."

Nevertheless, Stanhope was enveigled into a silent flirtation which he
describes thus amusingly:

"Immediately opposite to my habitation are two houses belonging to two
merchants, who are either brothers or brothers-in-law. The one has an only
daughter, who cannot boast of much beauty, the other has two daughters,
the one a very pretty girl of a style rather unusual in Spain, for she has
auburn hair, while her sister is a thorough Spaniard, a lively little
thing with Andalusian eyes.

"A general flirtation was soon established between us; the heiress made me
a sign every morning, upon which I descended into the street; she then
threw out a most beautiful rose, which I picked up, and, pressing to my
lips, returned to my balcony. This was certainly something like swearing
allegiance, but I must confess that the fair cousin with the auburn hair,
who lived next door to her, was the real object of my admiration; she was
very modest and shy, and would only favour me with an occasional smile,
but there was a sweetness in that timid, blushing smile which surpassed
that of all the roses of Andalusia. She used also to serenade me on the
piano by playing _God save the King_, to which I responded politely by
playing some of the national airs of Spain. This silent flirtation
continued for some time, when one day while I was on my balcony, I was not
a little surprised to find standing beside me the servant from the house
of the modest little lady with auburn hair. He at once accosted me in
French, and, _sans ceremonie_, asked me which of the two young ladies I
admired. "It is not _that_ one, I am sure!" said he, pointing to the lady
of the roses. "No," said I, somewhat ungratefully, and pointed to her fair
cousin. The servant instantly disappeared; a conscious smile from the
beauty rewarded me for my preference, but--no more roses!"

An episode of a very different nature is described in another letter from
Cadiz. "An extraordinary execution took place the other day," he writes;
"extraordinary both from the manner in which it was carried out and the
circumstances under which it took place. The unfortunate man was strangled
by means of a machine of a new construction. It was an iron case or collar
that was fitted round his neck and drawn closer by means of a screw till
it occasioned strangulation. I did not follow the general example and
attend the execution, as I did not feel sufficient curiosity about this
new instrument of death to tempt me to witness so distressing a sight.

The sufferer was one of the principal judges in Madrid, and had rendered
himself peculiarly odious by the severity which he had exercised towards
the patriots, many of whom he had condemned to death. The guerrillas had,
in consequence, signalled him out as their victim, and nothing can perhaps
better illustrate the extraordinary state of Spain at this moment and the
power of the guerrillas than the daring nature of their attempt and the
success with which it was attended.

Having received information that the judge was to be present at a ball
given on the occasion of the marriage of one of his servants at a village
a short distance from Madrid, a guerrilla chief determined to take
advantage of the opportunity which this offered. He accordingly made his
appearance at the ball, and accosting the judge, requested him to come at
once to the door of the house, as he had something important to
communicate to him. No sooner had the judge reached the door than he was
seized, placed upon horseback, and hurried off. From the actual vicinity
of the capital, in a part of the country thickly occupied by troops, he
was thus carried away, and finally brought to Cadiz, where he was
condemned to atone for his treachery by his death. Previous to his
execution, he acknowledged the justice of his sentence, but declared that
there are now in Cadiz many men far more deserving of punishment than
himself, some of whom are actually in the employ of the Government."

At length John Stanhope decided that, in June, he would embark for
Gibraltar, intending to proceed thence to Carthagena, Valencia and
Majorca. At this juncture, however, Tom Knox, reluctantly listened to the
persuasions of his family, who feared his inability to stand a hot
climate, and decided to return home. How fortunate it was for himself that
he decided to do so, events were subsequently to prove.

John Stanhope, in company with some other friends, next made an agreement
with an English merchant to take them to Gibraltar. The man, however,
played them false, and sailed without them; whereupon they took passage on
board a wretched boat called the _Liverpool Hero_, on which they endured
extreme discomfort. One of Stanhope's greatest wishes had been to set foot
on the coast of Africa, but owing to the unseaworthy nature of the vessel
on which they found themselves, combined with the extreme roughness of the
weather, they were driven from the coast, and only after a most dangerous
passage did they eventually arrive at Gibraltar. As they entered the bay,
the first object which met their eyes was the ship in which they had
originally intended taking their passage. She had only just dropped her
anchor, and as they passed she hailed them. "On going on board," relates
John Stanhope, "the captain gave us a detailed account of a most
melancholy occurrence which had marked their voyage. Their few hours'
advantage in starting had enabled them to effect what we had in vain
attempted--the weathering Cape Espartel. There were on board the actual
passengers who had cut us out of our berths. They had felt as anxious as I
had done to plant their feet upon the coast of Africa. They accordingly
got into a boat and landed. They were amusing themselves with walking a
little way into the interior when a party of Moors, who had apparently
been watching them, stole gently through the brushwood with which the
coast was covered, and, getting between them and the coast, cut off their
retreat. The Moors killed two of them, one being a boy, to whose head they
deliberately put a gun and blew his brains out. The third they carried
away captive.

"We could not help shuddering at the thoughts of our narrow escape. Had we
fulfilled our original intention and occupied the berths which we had
actually taken on board that vessel we should undoubtedly have been in the
place of these unfortunate men, and should have experienced the horrible
fate which befell them."

A strange illustration of the fluctuations of fortune peculiar to those
days next came under the notice of young Stanhope, on his way to
Carthagena. "We passed," he writes, "the house of a Spaniard whose history
is singular enough. He was originally a poor peasant, but during the last
war with England he happened to be upon an island near the coast, in
company with one of his friends, when they observed two sailors land from
an English vessel. They promptly concealed themselves so that they might
observe the proceedings of these men without themselves being seen. The
sailors whom they watched dug a hole, put something carefully into it, and
then covered it over; after which they re-embarked.

"No sooner were they out of sight, than the two Spaniards came out from
their place of hiding, and hastened to the spot, eager to ascertain what
it could be that had been so mysteriously buried. Great was their delight
when they dug up what proved to be a treasure of great value, a heavy bag
of gold. They divided the spoil, and returned home wealthy men.
Subsequently, however, one of them, either feeling scruples with regard to
the possession of the booty or else in the due order of confession,
unburdened himself to his priest, who at once impressed upon him the
sinfulness of retaining the stolen treasure and the obligation of
endeavouring to find the rightful owners and restoring it to them. The
penitent, therefore, went to explain these views to his fellow-thief, who
appearing fully convinced by such reasoning, at once promised to undertake
on behalf of both himself and his friend the researches necessary for the
restoration of the stolen property. Believing this assurance, the
repentant man at once gave up to his friend his own share of the treasure,
only to discover, when too late, that his less scrupulous comrade had not
an intention of carrying out any such obligation, but having thus got
possession of the whole of the gold, he kept it, and is now one of the
richest and most influential men in this part of the country, while his
more honest dupe is still a poverty-stricken peasant."

In short, as John Stanhope was soon to find to his cost, it was not an age
when a sense of honour dictated the actions of the majority of men. It
happened soon afterwards that, unable to procure a satisfactory passage to
Majorca, Stanhope was constrained to embark upon a small vessel, the
appearance of which was singularly unprepossessing. But untrustworthy as
was the boat, its captain proved to him a greater source of danger.
Ignoring the undertaking he had given to the young Englishman, he
traitorously sailed for Barcelona, where he delivered up his passenger to
the French authorities, and John Stanhope thus unexpectedly found himself
doomed to the fate which Esther Acklom had so ingeniously escaped, that of
being a prisoner of Napoleon.

After various vicissitudes, and having been for eight weeks confined in a
dungeon in hourly expectation of death, he was at length ordered with
other prisoners of war to the depot at Verdun. Part of the journey thither
was accomplished on foot, part driving in a diligence. The weather was
bitterly cold, and the windows of the vehicle, which on this account were
perforce closed, were chiefly of wood, so that not only was the view
excluded, but the greater part of the journey was passed in darkness.

During part of the time, his only _compagnon de voyage_ was a French
soldier, who had just obtained his _conge_ and was returning home after a
long period of foreign service. "Poor fellow," writes John Stanhope, "his
happiness was unbounded! He could think and talk of nothing but the moment
of his first arrival at home, amusing himself with discussing the various
modes in which he might surprise his family. At length that which he
seemed inclined to adopt was to apply for a billet upon his own people; to
enter the house with all the swagger of a soldier quartered on strangers--
in short, to enact the part which he had often played in Germany and so
many other countries, and after having well tormented and frightened the
whole household, to throw himself into his father's arms with--"Mon pere,
embrassez votre fils!" I enjoyed the thought of the _denouement_--so truly
French--but with envious feelings; not to draw a contrast between our
relative situations was impossible, and I kept thinking, When--if ever--
shall I be able to surprise my family with my unexpected return?"

At another period of his journey one of Stanhope's fellow-travellers was a
certain Captain Reid, who had been aide-de-camp to General Reding, [5] and
had been taken prisoner. He told Stanhope the following curious story,
"which," the latter suggests, "Walter Scott would probably hail as an
additional proof of the reality of the art of divination. Captain Reid's
mother, many years ago, having heard of the fame of some fortune-teller,
resolved, out of pure frolic, to have her fortune told. She therefore
disguised herself as her own maid and went to see the woman. She was at
that date a wife and the mother of five children. The fortune-teller
informed her that she would have, in all, fifteen children; that, out of
those, two only would survive their infancy, and of those two, she would
only have comfort from one. The predicted number of children were born.
Reid and his sister alone lived to grow up, and 'what the future may
produce, I know not,' Reid concluded, 'but as I am a prisoner in a foreign
land, she certainly has no comfort in me."

With many anecdotes of General Reding did Captain Reid likewise regale his
fellow-prisoner: "--that distinguished but unfortunate officer," says John
Stanhope, "who at length fell victim to anxiety of mind arising from the
difficulties with which he had to struggle and disappointment at finding
that he commanded men who were not brave like himself. One day when Reding
was about to engage the French (I rather think it was to make an attack on
Barcelona) he sent his aide-de-camp, Reid, to a Spanish general, with
imperative orders to be at a certain post, at a certain time, with his
division. Just as Reding was on the point of moving forward to commence
the projected attack he perceived the Spanish general riding leisurely
towards him. 'What, _you_ here!' he exclaimed, horror-stricken, 'Why are
you not at your post?' 'I have received no orders,' was the reply. 'Reid!'
shouted the Swiss general in an overpowering fury and raising his sabre
over the head of his aide-de-camp, 'why did you not give my orders to the
Spaniard?' Reid, knowing his General's irritable temper, thought that
instant death was before him. 'I did!' he asserted emphatically; 'there
stands his aide-de-camp who was present at the time--let him deny it if he
dare!' Fortunately the aide-de-camp was too much a man of honour to deny
the truth. Reid was acquitted in his General's eyes; but the old Swiss
turned away heart-broken at the recognition that all his schemes at this
important juncture had been defeated by this act of treachery or cowardice
on the part of the Spaniard, and, in unconcealed disgust, he gave the
order for a retreat.

"Reding while on active service usually drank three bottles of wine a day,
and never slept for more than three hours; he and his men were always in
motion, yet Reid, though pursuing the same _regimen_, declared that, in
common with his General, he was never in better health or happier at any
time of his life."

Of another famous general, Stanhope also records some interesting
observations. Arrived at Dijon, which was a depot for Spanish prisoners,
he went to call on an English fellow-prisoner, and found him having
breakfast in company with two Anglo-Spanish officers, both of whom had
served at Saragossa. "I therefore," he relates, "felt great interest in
talking over with them the events of that memorable siege, in which they
had acted an important part. Of course, to judge from their own account,
to them and to other Hibernian-Spanish officers was due the honour of
having conducted the defence of Saragossa; but what was indeed of interest
was to find that of Palafox [6] they spoke but slightingly, and seemed to
consider him merely as the nominal commander. All this was so new, so
incredible to me, that I could not help openly expressing my doubts on the
subject; these, however, were met by an argument to which it was
impossible not to attach considerable weight--that Palafox was at that
moment on parole in a town in France. 'Do you really think,' asked they,
'that if he were the powerful man he is represented to be he would be left
in comparative liberty? No; the Emperor is too wise for that! If Palafox
were what he has been supposed to be, _Napoleon would consider that no
prison in France is strong enough to hold him!_'"

At length young Stanhope arrived at Verdun and entered upon a period of
detention there to which he could foresee no prospective conclusion.
"There was no positive suffering of which to complain," he wrote
afterwards, "yet there is a weariness, an utter hopelessness in the life
of an exile which none can understand who have not experienced its
intensity." The patriotism which had gilded the voluntary exile of
Collingwood was perforce absent from the imprisonment of John Stanhope. No
glory of martyrdom dignified his forcible detention; he was merely the
victim of mischance. And the outlook was singularly hopeless. "The
negotiation for the exchange of prisoners has totally failed," he writes.
"The hope of the conclusion of the war appears to be more distant than
ever. Whilst the Emperor lives, peace seems to be impossible, and he may
live twenty years without the least diminution of his energy or his
ambition ... there is but one source from which we can any of us derive
the slightest consolation, and that is from the character of Napoleon
himself. His insatiable ambition, after having prompted him to the
execution of everything that is practicable, may finally urge him to
attempt impossibilities. Alexander wept because he could find no more
worlds to conquer; Napoleon may find there are too many worlds for him.
Universal dominion is not now so easy an acquisition. 'Give him rope
enough and he will hang himself!' is in all our mouths!"

With this slender consolation the luckless prisoners endeavoured to cheer
themselves; but meanwhile, as Stanhope points out, they existed "a
thousand people of different characters, ranks and habits collected
together in one town, without any occupation to divert the tedium of their
lives." Nor were there wanting additions to their society of an
undesirable character, men who had voluntarily fled across the Channel to
escape the consequence of nefarious dealings in horse-racing and gambling.
One of these, indeed, was described by the French Minister of War as "the
worst monster which England in her wrath has yet vomited across the
Channel"; and the enforced idleness to which the prisoners were subjected,
rendered them for the most part ready victims to the designs of such
unscrupulous villains, while it tended to make the life of the town
peculiarly demoralising. One source of satisfaction alone did Stanhope
find in his altered conditions. His family, who for many months had
believed him to be dead, were now overjoyed to hear of his safety, and to
find themselves once more able to communicate with him; none the less it
was impossible to ignore the constant danger to which his position still
exposed him. At any moment he or his fellow _detenus_ might be sacrificed
to the vindictiveness of Napoleon or to the exigencies of some political
situation, and he had not been long at Verdun before a recognition of this
fact was unpleasantly brought home to him.

Lord Blayney, [7] an Irish friend of his, was suddenly arrested one day in
the streets of Verdun and hurried off to the citadel. There he was
informed that by order of the French Government he was to answer with his
life for the safety of a French prisoner in England, who, having been
detected in some treasonable intrigue, was condemned to close confinement
and likely to be shot. Thus for a long time subsequently Lord Blayney
remained a prisoner in hourly peril of instant death.

There were also other evils to be reckoned with. The governors in whose
charge the prisoners were placed were too often unscrupulous men, who, so
long as they were secure from detection, did not hesitate to employ
tyranny or fraud in the endeavour to further their own advancement, either
by the pretended discovery of imaginary plots, thus giving a fictitious
impression of their own zeal to the ministers, or by extorting money
through terrorism from their defenceless victims.

A story in this latter connection is told by John Stanhope. It appears
that a certain General Wirion, who had at one time been attached to
Moreau's party, had succeeded in getting into favour with Napoleon, who
made him Governor of Verdun. Forthwith, the General's principal object was
to devise some means of extracting money from the prisoners resident
there, towards whom his conduct, on all occasions, was peculiarly
atrocious.

Among the _detenus_ he soon observed a young man of more fortune than wit,
whom he at once recognised as a victim ready to his hand. He accordingly
sent for this youth one morning, and informed him that he would give him
leave to reside in a village a little way beyond the limits, for so the
imaginary boundary was always designated within which the prisoners were
confined by their parole. Although surprised at a permission for which he
had not even applied, the young _detenu_ naturally was delighted, and,
utterly devoid of suspicion, he lost no time in availing himself of his
increased liberty.

Shortly afterwards, the Governor caused a bogus order to be posted in the
office in Verdun to which the prisoners went at fixed periods to sign
their names. It announced that the Minister of War had issued a decree
commanding that all prisoners found out of the limits should be shot.

This notice the young prisoner in question either did not see, or ignored,
thinking that in view of his having received special permission for his
departure from the Governor, it could not apply to his individual case.
From this false security, however, he was suddenly awakened one morning by
the appearance of a detachment of _gendarmerie_, who, without any
circumlocution, presented him with a copy of the order, and informed him
that, as he had been found out of the limits, he was included in the
number of those to whom the decrees applied, and that their orders were to
carry the sentence into immediate execution.

So sudden, so unexpected an announcement of instant death might well have
shaken a man of stronger nerve. As it was, the condition of the poor youth
was pitiable. In vain he protested his ignorance of the notice and his
innocence of any intentional disobedience to the Government; to all such
representations his captors turned a deaf ear. Still more, no means were
neglected by them, no note of preparation omitted, that could tend to
increase the agony of his terror.

At last, at the very moment when not a hope of life remained to him, a
Gallo-Irishman, the chosen confidant of the Governor, made his appearance,
as if by accident. At the sight of this man, one last chance of escape
presented itself to the miserable youth, and he entreated the fellow to
save him. The Irishman replied decisively that he could hold out no hope;
the orders of the Minister of War had been imperative, and any chance of
eluding them was impossible.

"But I have the General's permission to reside beyond the limits!" pleaded
the youth eagerly.

"True, but the General exceeded his powers in giving you that permission;
you cannot expect him to sacrifice himself for you. It is unfortunate, but
you must be the victim!"

"Is there no possibility of your doing anything? You are so intimate with
him, cannot you save me?"

"I fear not."

"But at least make _one_ effort!"

"It is a hopeless case!" the Irishman assured him. Then, after
consideration, he said: "Well, I will _try_, but upon one condition, and
one only."

"Name it!" was the eager reply.

"That you give me _carte-blanche_ to act as I see fit!"

The condemned man did not hesitate. He agreed readily to all the Irishman
suggested; and the villain having given orders to the _gendarmes_ to await
his return, departed triumphantly. After an interval which appeared
sufficiently long for him to have journeyed to Verdun and back, he
reappeared and informed the poor youth, who meanwhile had been awaiting
his verdict in a state of indescribable anxiety, that the mission had been
successful. This had not, however, he explained, been accomplished without
the greatest difficulty, as General Wirion trembled at the serious
responsibility which he was about to incur in disobeying the Minister's
express orders; nevertheless, the Governor would consent to spare the
Englishman's life on condition of his paying down immediately the sum of
L5000. The young man was startled by the largeness of the amount, but in
the position in which he was placed, it required few arguments to convince
him of the worthlessness of money when his existence was at stake. He
accordingly consented to the proposal, signed a draft for the specified
amount, and was set at liberty. When, however, in a calmer frame of mind
he came to consider the transaction and to discuss it with his friends, he
felt convinced that some trickery had been employed towards him. He
thereupon wrote to his banker, cancelling the order for the money. But
this only made matters worse for him; for the General, furious at such an
attempt to defeat his machinations, enforced payment, not merely of the
L5000 originally demanded, but of an additional L200, under pretext of
having incurred that latter expense in trying to substantiate his lawful
claim to the larger sum!

Needless to say, robberies of this description were perpetrated without
the knowledge of the Ministers; but a rumour of some disgraceful
transaction on the part of Wirion having at last reached them, he was
summoned to Paris to undergo examination before a court of inquiry. In
consequence of what then came to light, upon the next public occasion at
which he was present, the Emperor turned his back upon the General. The
latter understood the hint. He left the presence of Napoleon, got into a
hackney coach, drove to the Bois de Boulogne, and there shot himself.

Occasionally, however, Napoleon himself was outwitted by the cunning of
the villains in his employment. Wirion's successor at Verdun, Colonel
Courcelles, a less daring but more clever scoundrel, found favour with the
Emperor by a very simple expedient. He had lost one of his legs in _partie
de chasse_, a loss which gave him the valuable air of a gallant veteran,
and of which he knew how to take the best advantage. Passing through
Verdun to join his army, the Emperor spied the apparently maimed hero, and
at once honoured him with a special notice. "_Monsieur le Colonel_" he
inquired with a note of respect, "_ou avez-vous perdu la jambe?_"
Courcelles, sufficiently quick-witted to convey the impression he desired
without risking the utterance of any lie, replied truthfully: "_Sire,
j'etais a la bataille de Marengo!_"

Courcelles succeeded in robbing the prisoners who were in his charge in a
more cautious manner than his predecessor; he, in short, contrived to
subtract something for himself from any remittances which reached them,
and paid them francs for livres. But if in many instances the prisoners
suffered at the hands of the French authorities, on one occasion the
position was reversed, and a French commandant became the victim of a
prisoner's cunning.

The hero of this incident was Lord Blayney, the Irishman before referred
to. A certain General Cox, formerly Governor of Almeida, owned a very nice
little Andalusian horse, Sancho, which had distinguished itself as one of
the first racers in Verdun. Lord Blayney offered a challenge for Sancho to
run against a horse which he promised to produce for the event, and his
bet was accepted with alacrity. He thereupon sent to an Englishman who was
in young Talleyrand's service, and who was a recognised connoisseur in
horseflesh, instructing this man to send him a particular English race-
horse which had formerly figured at Verdun, and in the capabilities of
which Lord Blayney still apparently had confidence, although it was now
pretty well advanced in years.

Nevertheless, when the animal reached Lord Blayney's stables, sundry
alterations were made in its appearance which would prevent its being
recognised as an old acquaintance by those who had seen it formerly; and
thus when the date for the race arrived, an unknown beast entered the
lists against Sancho.

It was soon patent to all that the age of this competitor made its chance
of success but small; and, in fact, General Cox's fleet little horse won
in a canter. Everyone laughed loudly at Lord Blayney's folly in imagining
that so obviously incompetent an animal could run against the beautiful
little racer Sancho; only Lord Blayney himself seemed stupidly surprised
at his own failure. None the less, he bore his loss with amiability, and
as he had previously invited his antagonists to dine with him that night
he did not omit to make them welcome.

General Cox and the backers of Sancho were, not unnaturally, in the
highest spirits that evening; and when wine had loosened their tongues,
they expressed their triumph rather incautiously in loud praises of their
favourite horse. Lord Blayney likewise appeared to drink heavily, and at
last, seemingly elated by this fact, or stung past endurance by the
taunting remarks of his adversaries, he swore that he would again match
his horse against Sancho and for a yet larger sum of money. Cox,
delighted, instantly closed with the offer, and Lord Blayney shortly
afterwards, as though overcome by the wine he had drunk, fell asleep.

His guests sat on drinking till at length their host awoke, when it became
evident to them that, sobered by his nap, he was ready to view matters in
a more cautious light. "Cox" he observed anxiously, "I will give you a
good sum down to be off the bet I made just now." "Oh, no! no!" cried
General Cox. "It is too late to withdraw it--you cannot show the white
feather." "Well, then," shouted Lord Blayney, with apparent angry
recklessness, "I'll double the first bet!" "Done!" cried the General,
enchanted at the certainty of extracting a still larger sum from the
pockets of the foolish peer. So delighted was he, in fact, that he
generously arranged for several of his most intimate friends to share his
prospective good fortune, and seeing an unparalleled opportunity for
currying favour with the Commandant, he invited the latter to participate
in such exceptional luck.

One man alone saw through the whole transaction. This was a certain friend
of Lord Blayney's who is mentioned in John Stanhope's letters by his
nickname of "Paddy Boyle," [8] which had apparently been conferred upon
him on account of his exhibiting certain characteristics which are more
usually illustrative of an Irish than a Scottish nationality. Lord Boyle
went to Lord Blayney with the unwelcome announcement: "By Jove, my Lord,
I'll tell of you!"

"You'll do nothing of the sort!" rejoined Lord Blayney; "I'll give you a
hundred pounds to hold your tongue!" The bargain was struck and the secret
was kept.

The eventful day arrived. So large a bet had attracted universal
attention. "I will not attempt to describe," writes John Stanhope, "the
intense interest felt by all present at the commencement of the race, nor
the confusion and dismay of the Cox party when they saw the previously
incompetent animal now cantering away from Sancho with all the ease and
style of a true English racehorse; nor will I attempt to give the
crimination and recrimination that followed. I will content myself with
transcribing the observation with which the poor Commandant consoled
himself for his loss. '_Les Anglais pretendent que Lord Blayney est fou;
je reconnais a mes depens qu'il est plus fin que les autres!_'"

With regard to Lord Boyle, who so intelligently fathomed the intended ruse
in this instance, Stanhope subsequently relates some amusing anecdotes.
"During the time of our races," he writes, "Lord Blayney had invited a
large party to dine with him on the race ground. Instead of putting myself
in the path of the prospective host, as did most of my friends, I
studiously avoided him, and thus escaped an invitation, as I was anxious
to do, for I had little doubt that there would be a profusion of wine
which would lead to its inevitable consequences at Verdun--a good deal of
quarrelling. I rode to the course with Lord Boyle, who congratulated me on
my prudence. I never heard a man talk more reasonably or eloquently than
he did upon the state of the society at Verdun, and particularly upon the
reprehensible consequences which invariably arose from successive
drinking. The first thing I heard next morning was that Paddy Boyle had,
after dinner, _insulted every man at the table but one_, uttering sarcasms
founded doubtless upon truth, but as biting as they were clever. _From
every individual except the one who had escaped his attacks he had just
received a challenge_, which he had been forced to meet by sending round a
circular apology. He had thus given a pretty practical illustration of the
truth of the remarks with which he had favoured me on the previous
evening!"

Subsequently Lord Boyle afforded another illustration of his "strange
admixture of shrewdness and muddle-headedness." On an occasion when, it
must be emphasized, he was entirely sober, he was discovered going out
into the garden at twelve o'clock at night with a hand-candle in order to
ascertain what was the correct time by the sun-dial!

But in a society which comprised men of so many different types and
varying calibre, there were not wanting some of the survivals of a France
which was rapidly becoming extinct An inhabitant of Verdun frequently
referred to by Stanhope was the Chevalier de la Lance, an aristocrat of
the _ancien regime_, who piqued himself upon possessing the peculiar grace
of manner belonging to a bygone day, and which he carried to such a point
of exaggeration as often to render himself ridiculous. "He is nevertheless
a kind-hearted, gentlemanlike and amiable old man. Like most others of his
rank who are still alive, he emigrated at the beginning of the Revolution.
He retired to Germany, where he lived for some time under the assumed
character of a humble music-master. He tells me that one of his most
pleasant experiences was the surprise of his various pupils when, upon
leaving the place of exile, he sent them back all the tickets for lessons
which they had given him, and for which he no longer required payment He
did not, however, return to France alone; in the country-house of some of
his pupils he had met a lady whose heart was touched by the misfortunes of
the exile. She was related to one of the leading families of the Austrian
Empire, but had learnt to feel compassion for the unfortunate emigrant,
and as compassion is akin to love, it soon grew into a warmer sentiment,
and she at length agreed to unite her destiny to his."

On an occasion, destined to be momentous in the life of another friend of
Stanhope, did the Chevalier have an opportunity of displaying his
exquisite manners to the full. One day young Stanhope was walking through
the streets of Verdun with a friend of his, Captain Strachey, [9] when
they met a young Frenchman of their acquaintance, "one, indeed," he
remarks, "of the few _ancienne noblesse_ of Verdun."

'Ah, Monsieur Stanhope,' said the Frenchman, 'you must go to the
Cathedral, my cousin is the Queteuse [10] to-day; you must give her a
Napoleon at least!' Strachey announced that he would like to go with me,
and together accordingly we went.

"At the appointed time the Queteuse made her appearance. She proved to be
a most lovely girl, dressed in black silk, with a garland of snow-white
marguerites on her head. As a mark of particular attention from the
ecclesiastical authorities, she was permitted the escort of the Chevalier
de la Lance, who, thoroughly enjoying the situation, held the tips of her
fingers and conducted her with all the airs and graces of the olden time
through the crowd assembled in the church. At length, preceded by the
beadle in full costume, she approached the place where we were standing.
The graceful simplicity of her manners formed an admirable contrast to the
affectation of the old chevalier. With a low courtsey, and with a smile
which united the sweetest expression to the most perfect modesty, she
presented her purse to each of us in our turn. I was no longer at the
happy age when the heart is carried away by every sweet glance; but I own
that, for the moment, I was bewildered by the beautiful sight which the
young girl presented, as, engaged in so holy a cause, and with her
extraordinary loveliness framed by the picturesque surrounding of Gothic
arches, she might well have been mistaken for the vision of an angel. All
the money in my pocket was at once transferred to the little silk purse of
the fair petitioner; but to Captain Strachey's peace that smile was far
more fatal. It was decisive of the destiny of his life. A copy of French
verses which he penned to the beautiful Queteuse was the first proof of
the impression produced upon his heart. Many were the obstacles with which
he had to contend; but at length the lovely Mlle, de la Roche became the
bride of the English prisoner."

There was, however, but little intercourse between the English and the
French families at Verdun. "There is one set," Stanhope writes, "who keep
themselves very select and consider themselves _par excellence_ the
society of the town. Almost the only English admitted into their circle
are the Marine officers. It is said that they obtained this preference by
persuading the French that they are distinguished by the title of _Royal_
Marines entirely because they rank highest in the British service!"

Only a certain Mr and Mrs S. who belonged to the class of _detenus_ were
allowed, on sufferance, occasionally to mingle with the French families;
and in this connection Stanhope relates one more story.

"My fair countrywoman, who is sharing the captivity of her husband,
formerly an officer in the army, is singularly attractive. If her features
were not too pronounced and her form much too thin, she would be a very
pretty woman. As it is, there is something remarkably airy and graceful in
her figure, and very lively in her countenance. Still more lively is she
in her manners. She is, indeed, one of the cleverest and most sarcastic
women I ever knew, very agreeable when you are not yourself the object of
her satire. In order to preserve her character for wit, she is not very
scrupulous in her language; and in consequence of this an Englishman once
ventured to make her an insulting proposal, upon which she very quietly
caught up the poker and knocked him down, thus establishing her reputation
in such a forcible manner that, whatever she has subsequently been bold
enough to say, she is quite certain of being considered a perfect Diana.

"An adventure occurred to her which would be amusing if I could tell it in
her own language. On one of the coldest nights of a severe winter she left
her apartments to go to one of our Verdun balls. Her husband pleaded a
severe headache as an excuse for not accompanying her; and, that her
amusement might not be disturbed by any disagreeable suspicions, he
actually retired to bed and enacted the part of a sick man so well that he
eluded even her penetrating glance. No sooner, however, had the carriage
driven off which conveyed her to the ball, than up jumped the sick man,
dressed himself and set off to the club in order to indulge his darling
passion for play. At an hour rather earlier than he had calculated upon,
his wife left the ball, doubtless anxious to look after her invalid
husband. She was driven home by a friend, and in order to inconvenience
the latter as little as possible, she got out of the carriage without
waiting for the house-door to be opened, and allowed her friend to drive
away. It was a piercingly cold night, the ground was covered with snow,
and she picked her way carefully up the steps and then felt in her pocket
for her _passe-partout_. To her horror she discovered it was not there,
she had forgotten to take it out with her! She used all her efforts to
rouse her sleeping husband or some of the inmates, but in vain. No
resource remained but for her to walk, quarterdeck, in her satin shoes and
ball dress, the bodice of which, to make matters worse, was generally very
decollete.

"While engaged in this truly miserable occupation, who should come up but
her husband, returning from his club! Had he had the key in his pocket
much might have been forgiven him, but he, too, had forgotten it. He was
obliged, therefore, to join his wife's promenade before the door of their
lodgings, and submit to a snowy curtain-lecture, till dawn broke, and the
miserable, shivering couple were at last able to make themselves heard by
the inmates of the house."

Many years afterwards John Stanhope related a yet more extraordinary
meeting which occurred to this same couple.

"When the allied troops entered France, the hope of that liberty of which
he had so long been deprived was again kindled in the breast of Captain
S., and at length rose to such a pitch as to overpower all other
considerations, till he made his escape _en garcon_ from the _depot_. The
unpleasant situation of his wife when she found herself thus abandoned in
the midst of a foreign land may be imagined; but she was not the type of
woman to give herself up to despair. After some time had elapsed she set
off with the intention of making her solitary way to England. During her
journey she encountered a detachment of the Russian army, and on finding
herself surrounded by troops, nothing daunted, she demanded to be taken to
the General commanding them. She was conducted to his presence and was
received by him and his aide-de-camp, who stood beside him. Something in
the appearance of the latter attracted her attention--she looked again and
again--did her eyes deceive her, or was that figure in a Russian uniform,
with an order at his button-hole and his face partly concealed by heavy
moustachios, indeed her husband? Another look converted her doubts into
certainty, and she was in her husband's arms. He had directed his course
towards the Russian army, been of great service to the General--probably
by giving him information on the state of the country--and had been
rewarded by the situation he now held.

"He subsequently re-entered the English army, having obtained a commission
in the Horse Guards. Later, I often saw the fair heroine of this story
riding in Hyde Park, in a costume which resembled the uniform of her
husband's regiment, and accompanied by a daughter whose grace as an
equestrian was set off by her personal beauty, whilst an orderly enacting
the part of a groom completed the singular appearance of the group."

Meanwhile, amongst the men of all nationalities who were to be found among
the prisoners, certain of these, like Captain S., from time to time
succeeded in effecting their escape. One brazenly went as a courier
carrying despatches to the _grande armee_; another cleverly passed himself
off as a Custom House officer and actually accompanied a battalion of
French soldiers, during the whole time receiving the utmost civility from
the unsuspecting officers and men. But all studiously avoided Naval
disguises, for the French believed that there was some peculiar
predisposition in English blood to the Naval Service; indeed, on this
account, all English foundlings were sent to Marseilles or Toulon to be
brought up as sailors!

Once, during John Stanhope's residence at Verdun, did Napoleon pass
through the town. When this occurred, the young _detenu_ made his way so
close to the carriage and inspected its occupant with such determined
scrutiny that, he adds with satisfaction, "I can boast that I made
Napoleon himself draw back!" His description, entered in his journal, of
the Man of Destiny, then approaching the reverse of his fortunes, is of
peculiar interest.

"How shall I describe him? He was in a coloured nightcap, not a very
Imperial, nor, at any time, a becoming costume; he had travelled all
night, which, also, is neither calculated to improve a man's beauty, nor
to shed a ray of good-humour over his countenance. His face looked
swollen, his complexion sallow and livid; his eyes--but it is impossible
to describe the expression of those eyes; I need only say that they were
the true index of his character. There was in them a depth of reflection,
a power of intention (if I may so call it) of seeing into the souls of
men; there was a murkiness, a dark scowl, that made me exclaim-' Nothing
in the world would tempt me to go one hour in that carriage with that
man!' I could understand the power of that eye, under the glance of which
the proudest heart in France shrank abashed; but still the whole
countenance rather brought to my memory the early impressions I had formed
of a moody schoolmaster, than those of a Caesar or an Alexander." [11]

The days were then long past, however, when Napoleon's assumption of regal
magnificence had provoked merriment among those as yet unfamiliar with it.
In 1804 Lady Louisa Stuart had recorded how the unaccustomed deference
with which the first consul elected to be treated was viewed in the nature
of a farce by those surrounding him. Everyone of any rank who employed the
titles by which the parvenu monarch desired to be called, did so as a
recognised jest. "_Sa Majeste Imperiale et puis du rire_!" But if that
phase had now gone by and the boldest in France had learnt to quail before
the piercing glance of the usurper, there remained apparently a few stout
English hearts in whom he still failed to inspire awe. John Stanhope
relates:--

"An incident occurred during Napoleon's passage through Verdun, which,
however difficult to describe with full effect, is yet too good to be
omitted. An old British merchant captain went up to the window and
presented a petition. This the Emperor refused to receive, observing--'I
take no petitions from the English.' 'Then--d----n your eyes, you b----y
son of a ----!' exclaimed the old sailor with engaging frankness, as,
turning on his heels, he strode disgustedly away. Napoleon did not appear
to understand this comment, but probably he had some shrewd suspicion of
its nature."

So profound a sensation, however, did the countenance of the Emperor make
upon John Stanhope that he could never afterwards recall it without a
shudder. That sense of an all-dominant will, of a boundless egoism, of a
villainy which refused to be limited and could not be gauged by any of the
ordinary restrictions applicable to normal humanity, was never
subsequently erased from his recollections. It must be emphasised,
moreover, that John Stanhope was by temperament and training singularly
cosmopolitan in his outlook, and free from insular prejudice even with
regard to his country's foe, so much so that, when he again had an
opportunity of observing Napoleon, he readily acknowledged the strange
magnetism of the man whose personality yet filled him with such
instinctive repugnance.

On this latter occasion Bonaparte was already past the meridian of his
glory, and had met with reverses which enforced a more careful cultivation
of his popularity with the masses. "He was," relates John Stanhope, "most
gracious in his manner to the surrounding crowd, greeting them with a
smile; and that smile was strikingly beautiful; there was a fascination
about it, which, even in spite of my previous impressions, I could not
resist."

Still more, he records with obvious pleasure an instance of the Emperor's
magnanimity:--

"It would not be doing justice to Napoleon to omit the case of Captain
Fane. That gallant officer had been taken prisoner in an attack that he
had made upon some town on the coast of Spain. He had landed with the
greater part of his crew, and carried the place with great bravery; but
success was fatal to the discipline of his force. Unaccustomed as they
were to fighting on shore, not all the efforts of Captain Fane could keep
them together. They dispersed in all directions, plundering, and looking
for wine. The French who had watched the whole proceedings from the
heights, sent a force down, which, unobserved, got between them and the
sea, cut off their retreat and took the whole party prisoners.

"Captain Fane, who was a true English sailor, had some dispute with the
officer into whose hands he was committed on the French frontier. The
latter thereupon refused to accept his parole, so that Fane was conducted
to Verdun by the _gendarmes_, treated with considerable harshness, and
lodged in prison at the end of each day's march. This treatment was not
calculated to produce a favourable impression on his already prejudiced
mind, and not unnaturally there was not in the whole depot a more violent
anti-Gallican than was Captain Fane.

"But his residence at Verdun was not long. A circumstance had occurred in
the earlier part of his career which his friends justly thought likely to
be of service to him in the unfortunate situation in which he now found
himself. At the time of the Egyptian campaign, he had been midshipman on
board a man-o'-war employed on the coast of Egypt. One day some French
prisoners had been in danger of being drowned, when Fane jumped overboard
and saved their lives at the risk of his own. The circumstance had at the
time come to the knowledge of General Bonaparte, and he had expressed his
high sense of the bravery of the young English officer.

"Now under the changed circumstances in which Captain Fane found himself,
his friends did but justice to the Emperor in believing that if the
occurrence were but recalled to the memory of Bonaparte, coupled with the
knowledge that that once gallant midshipman was now a prisoner in his
dominions, it would at least militate in favour of the captive. The
information, of which Captain Fane himself would have scorned to make use,
was therefore conveyed to Bonaparte, and not a moment did the Emperor
hesitate. He at once ordered Captain Fane's unconditional liberation.--It
is with great pleasure that I record this trait of magnanimity in
Napoleon; similar instances of which more than once came under my notice."

Of Jerome Bonaparte, on the contrary, John Stanhope gives a very different
description. He was one morning for a considerable time in the same room
with the King of Westphalia, in fact, for over an hour, while the latter
was occupied with the consumption of a lengthy breakfast, and his
impression of the man whom he thus watched closely is summed up briefly:-
"A more insignificant personage," he says, "I have never yet beheld!"
After which he dismisses Jerome as undeserving of further comment.

After a long and dreary residence at Verdun, John Stanhope heard by chance
that a French lady was desirous of having any English prisoners of
undoubted respectability _en pension_ at her Chateau de D., near Ligny. He
therefore applied to the commandant for permission to pass there what was
termed _la belle saison_; and this was granted on condition that he
reported himself at Verdun at the end of the month. Much delighted at the
prospect of such a change in his surroundings, he therefore set out for
Ligny, with his gig, two horses, and an old field captain, who attended
him in the capacity of servant. His experiences are not without interest
while thus resident in a French country family who were singularly typical
of the period in which they lived.

The family, of whom he purposely suppresses the names, consisted of
Monsieur V., a kind-hearted man, about fifty years of age. Madame V., whom
he describes as "one of the most singular specimens of a French woman that
it ever was my lot to meet with"; and her son-in-law and married daughter,
Monsieur and Madame M.

"Madame V.," he wrote long after, "was a thorough _intrigante_, never
quiet for a moment, but always with some project in her head, a constant
prey to all sorts of sharpers, who flattered her, fed upon her and
converted her schemes into an abundant source of profit to themselves. The
great object of her ambition at this moment was to obtain the post of
governess to the King of Rome. _Madame!_--I have only to represent to
myself that little round figure, nearly as large as it was long and much
the shape of a ball, with her Parisian graces grafted on to her pretension
to the manners of the _vieille Cour_, to enjoy, even now, a hearty laugh
at her vanity in supposing that it was in her power to supersede and
triumph over a Montesquieu. "As it may seem extraordinary that people in
the position of the V.s should have admitted English prisoners _en
pension_, I ought to mention that it was entirely a _galanterie_ on the
part of Monsieur. He stipulated it should be no expense to him, excepting
in the article of wine, which he would freely give; that whatever benefit
arose from the money paid by us, should belong entirely to Madame V.; and
a considerable profit she must undoubtedly have made, as little was the
addition on our account to their domestic expenditure.

"The daughter of this couple was married to a man of talent, who, however,
had a brusquerie of manner which rendered him rather forbidding. He seemed
to aim rather at the rough independence of Revolutionary France than at
the _politesse_ which marked the _vieille Cour_ of which Madame was an
exponent. He treated me, however, with the utmost kindness and attention.
Originally he had been but clerk to Monsieur V. and lived in the house. As
is not unusually the case under such circumstances, an attachment grew up
between him and Mlle. V.; but when did the course of true love run
smoothly? Madame V. had other designs for her daughter; she destined her
to the arms of one of Napoleon's generals, and had already opened
negotiations with a view of carrying these intentions into effect. The
father, unable to resist the daughter's tears, joined with her in
endeavouring to extort from Madame V. a reluctant consent; but the latter
remained inflexible. After all other arguments had been exhausted in vain,
Monsieur M., her daughter and even her husband threw themselves on their
knees before her in tears, and entreated her to yield to their wishes.
Such a scene was too much for a Frenchwoman. She yielded, and abandoning
her ambitious project, gave her daughter to Monsieur M.!

"Monsieur V. thereupon built a nice house for the young couple at the
extremity of the garden, so that his daughter had the advantage of being
perfectly independent, and yet of living as much as she chose with her
father and mother. In general they formed but one family, and great was
their contentment, though this was not, in reality, increased by the
circumstance of Monsieur M. having recently been raised to the dignity of
Mayor of D. and Secretary to the Prefect of the Department, a situation
which gave him considerable power, and made him a person of greater
consequence than his father-in-law.

"Our life was very uniform. At eight o'clock punctually we met at a little
building at the end of the garden which Madame had dignified by the title
of _La Ferme_, though it had not a pretension of any sort to such a
denomination. It was in fact a small cottage consisting of a kitchen
fitted up in cottage style, a small pantry, two bedrooms above, furnished
with all the luxury of modern refinement--so much for the cottage. From
what books Madame V. had drawn her ideas of rural felicity I know not, but
she deemed it more sentimental to breakfast in the cottage than to enjoy
that meal comfortably in her dining-room, so to the _ferme_ we were to go,
and, whether the weather was hot or cold, to sit near the blazing fire in
the little kitchen and enjoy the rural felicity of making our own toast.
At one we dined, took a ride or walk in the afternoon, and at eight sat
down to supper.

"The house was not an uncomfortable, though somewhat singular one.
Monsieur V. having been called away from home during the time that he was
building it, Madame took advantage of his absence to take care of herself,
and, in so doing, to spoil the house. She had a fancy that she could only
breathe freely in a large room; she therefore constructed out of the body
of the house an enormous bedroom for herself. It was square, with a
dressing-room at each angle. Her husband, upon his return home, found his
house completely spoilt, as this room occupied the main part of the first
floor. However, as the mischief was done, he bore it with the greatest
philosophy, venting his feelings with his usual exclamation on such
occasions--'_Oh, ma femme! ma femme!_'

"The drawing-room was a pleasant and well-furnished room, it opened by a
door, partly of glass, on to a flight of steps which served also as a
bridge over a rivulet which ran close to the walls of the house. These
steps led to the flower garden which was laid out in the old-fashioned
style. In the centre was a fountain, round which there were beds of
flowers. At the extremity of the garden there was a large orangery which
had no pretentions to architectural beauty, but contained a magnificent
collection of orange trees. During the warm weather, these ornamented the
garden, and at a more wintry period, being ranged in rows in the orangery,
afforded us an agreeable promenade.

"The gardens extended a considerable distance. They included on one side a
kitchen garden and a vineyard, and on the other, to give the effect of
what the French call an English garden, a wood had been considered a
necessary requisite. It was cut out in walks, one of which led to the
_ferme_ and another to the hermitage, so that the garden may be said to
have possessed every requisite for a perfect garden. But absurd as this
reunion of _bois_, hermitage and _ferme_, may sound, the gardens were
really pretty, and the connecting of the kitchen garden and the vineyard
with the pleasure ground not only added to its extent, but its variety. I
have often thought that our English kitchen gardens, by a little more
variety in their form and by an intermixture of shrubbery, might be
converted into an ornamental instead of a formal addition to our country
houses.

"Adjoining the drawing-room was a room, prettily furnished, in which I
slept, and which also formed a not uncomfortable sitting-room when I
wished to be alone. Behind the drawing-room was the dining-room, which,
like all French dining-rooms, had the appearance of an anteroom. It opened
into the library where there was a good collection of books and also of
minerals, indeed, there was hardly anything of which there was _not_ a
collection.

"On one occasion I incurred Madame V.'s serious displeasure. A hornet's
nest had been discovered, and, as it was voted a great curiosity, was
placed by Madame's orders among the other specimens of Natural history in
the library. Warmed into life by the heat of the room, some of the hornets
began to show signs of activity. The prospect was far from pleasant, and,
alarmed at the disagreeable interruption about to be offered to my
studies, I secretly commissioned a servant to throw the hornet's nest into
the water. Boundless was the indignation of Madame V, on finding that I
had deprived her museum of so great a treasure; and it was a considerable
time before an act of such temerity on my part was forgiven.

"We sometimes took advantage of a fine evening to form a party in the
woods. On an occasion when the Chevalier de la Lance was staying with us
accompanied by his fifteen-year-old daughter, one of the prettiest of our
Verdun belles, we had one of these excursions to the forest. After dinner
some of the most musical of our party were requested by the young belle to
enliven the evening by music. Madame M., my hostess's daughter, had a most
beautiful voice, and had, of course, enjoyed all the advantages to be
derived from Parisian masters. Whilst she was singing, we all observed
that a nightingale perched upon one of the neighbouring trees continued
silent; the moment she stopped, he began to warble forth his 'wood-notes
wild.' This occurred not once, but repeatedly. He was far, however, from
showing the same attention to the chevalier. Apparently not entertaining
an equally good opinion of the old man's musical talents, from the moment
that gentleman began to take up the song, the nightingale began also, and
evidently did all in his power to drown the chevalier's voice!"

Another diversion at Ligny was _la chasse_. Monsieur M. was a great
sportsman and very fond of shooting; he kept a small pack of hounds and
seldom went out with them without inviting young Stanhope to accompany
him. "One day," relates John Stanhope, "we were out fox-hunting on foot,
our business being to head the fox and--_horresco referens_--to shoot
him! The hounds were running, and all of a sudden came to a check and
ceased giving tongue. At that moment Lord Boyle, who was out with us, and
who was not far from me, levelled his gun and took, as it proved, a deadly
aim. I looked at him in some astonishment, at a loss to imagine what game
he could have seen when the hounds were not running. He fired, and then
throwing up his arms in horror, cried out, at the same time stamping and
raving, 'Oh! Monsieur M., I have killed your best dog!' Vexed as I was at
such a disaster, I could not help laughing at the gesticulations of my
friend, and at Paddy, with eyes quick enough for anything, having mistaken
a _dog for a fox_. It was quite a practical Bull. No one could have
behaved better than Monsieur M. He concealed his regret and said
everything in his power to reassure and recompose the distracted culprit."

There was, Stanhope remarks, not much game in the neighbourhood of Ligny,
though there could not be a country better adapted to it, as the house was
situated between two forests, both of which abounded in wolves. "However,"
writes Stanhope, "I was only out one day at _la chasse aux loups_. I had
been so long deprived of the amusements of a sportsman that an invitation
from Monsieur M., to accompany him on the following morning produced so
much excitement in my mind that I lay awake half the night ... and I was
not too late for the appointed hour of six o'clock. Monsieur M., another
sportsman and myself, proceeded to a distant part of the forest. We were
all stationed, in advance, at different posts where it was thought likely
that the wolf might cross the path. The hounds were soon in full cry. My
heart beat high as I heard them approach me, but, alas! instead of the
_grand gibier_ I expected, a poor little hare stole quietly by! It was a
terrible falling off, and no wolf crossed our path that morning.

"Yet at the time of which I am speaking, we had pretty good proof of their
being in our immediate vicinity, for one morning, when I was out walking,
I heard, close to the house, a piercing yell. I ran to ascertain what was
the matter and found that a favourite setter of Monsieur M., itself as big
as a wolf, had just been carried off by one of these ferocious animals.
Poor M. could hardly be consoled for the loss of another favourite dog,
and was some days before he recovered his usual spirits. After I left
Ligny, Lord Blayney and some other Verdunites killed six or seven wolves
in one day's sport."

The warfare against both wolves and foxes at Ligny was, however, very
essential, in view of the fact that Madame V., in order to further her
favourite project of becoming Governess to the King of Rome, had resorted
to a singular plan to ensure her popularity at Court.

Napoleon was exceedingly anxious to promote the progress of agriculture in
France, and as a first step in that direction to introduce the breed of
Merino sheep into the country. "Madame V. therefore determined to have her
flock of Merinos. But as the pure breed could only be procured at a
considerable cost, she resolved to arrive at the completion of her purpose
in a more economical manner. She succeeded in purchasing some rams of the
Merino breed, and she calculated that by crossing the sheep of the country
with them she would in eight years succeed in establishing a flock of
perfectly pure blood. She did not trouble herself about the evil results
attributed by agriculturists to breeding in and in. Her speculation was
the more extraordinary from the circumstance of her having no farm, nor
any land upon which to keep her sheep; but for this difficulty she found
an easy remedy. She sent out her flock under the guidance of a shepherd
boy, to feed wherever food they could find, but principally in the
Imperial forests.

"In order to give a greater _eclat_ to her favourite hobby, she built a
magnificent sheep-shed which was finished whilst I was there. But before
the sheep were introduced to their new abode, the priest was sent for to
give it his blessing. This he did in due form by sprinkling holy water in
all directions and consecrating it with as much solemnity as if he had
been dedicating a church to the service of God. Further, to celebrate the
event with yet greater pomp, she had likewise promised to give a ball;
but, to the disappointment of the prisoners resident with her, she finally
decided that the religious ceremony must suffice, and the Merinos were
allowed to enter upon their new career with no secular demonstration to
succeed the ecclesiastical."

Various indeed were the methods employed by the ambitious in order to
attract the attention and win the coveted favour of Napoleon. "A person of
great distinction," writes Stanhope, "the Marechal Oudinot, who resides in
the town of Bar, has built a large manufactory for the purpose of making
sugar from beetroot. He does not appear to entertain any sanguine
expectations of profit, for upon General Cox asking him one day, when he
was dining at Bar, what had been the success of his manufactory, the
Marechal replied with rather more honesty than discretion, 'Ce n'est que
pour plaire a l'Empereur!' Certainly in this point of view it was a
magnificent piece of flattery!

"That this Marechal is a _nouveau riche_ the appearance of his house at
Bar sufficiently indicates. It stands in the middle of the town, and is
surrounded by a high wall, upon the top of which a range of shells and
bombs are represented in stone. At the entrance door stand two sentinels--
two wooden grenadiers painted in full uniform and as large as life, which
certainly cannot be considered as any _preuves de noblesse_, or marks of a
refined taste. One day Madame M. grievously offended this important
person. Gazing at his mansion and its surrounding tokens of magnificence,
she enthusiastically gave vent to a compliment which, however clever she
might think it, was not calculated to flatter the pride of a _parvenu_.
'Ah! Monsieur le Marechal!' she exclaimed indiscreetly, 'vous montez, nous
descendons!'

"Indeed, what the Marechal's origin may be, I know not; but I am told
that, till quite recently, he conducted himself with the best possible
feeling towards his old friends and relations, and was universally praised
for the kindness and condescension of his manners. A great change,
however, has lately been observed, perhaps because he has married a young
and pretty girl belonging to the _ancienne noblesse_. His old friends are
now treated with the greatest _hauteur_; he even requires the company at
his parties to remain standing in a circle round him, and he appears to
feel the regal coronet already budding upon his brows.

"Singular times, in truth, are these, when a man of the very lowest birth
may indulge in such _reveries_ without the faintest absurdity!"

CHAPTER VI

1812-1813

LETTERS FROM AN ESCAPED PRISONER

At length the prospects of the luckless prisoner brightened. John Stanhope
obtained leave to change his place of detention for Paris, where existence
promised to be far more agreeable than at Verdun or Ligny. Having
journeyed thither with a light heart, and some of the hopefulness of youth
restored, he was not disappointed. He found himself warmly welcomed by
many of his fellow-countrymen; while the French savants, having learnt the
original object of his journey and all the circumstances which had led to
his imprisonment, received him unhesitatingly as one of their body and
give him free access to the Institute.

Forthwith life became once more full of interest, and as agreeable as it
was practicable for that of an exile to be. He rapidly made friends
amongst both the French and English residents in Paris, while one of his
fellow-prisoners on parole in the capital at this date was the well-known
banker, Mr Boyd [1] with whom his family had long been acquainted, and in
whose vicinity he now took rooms.

"Mr Boyd," relates Stanhope, "was in a singular position. He had
originally been one of the first, if not _the_ first banker in Paris. He
stood, as I have heard, in a pre-eminent position, admitted, as an
Englishman, to those highest circles which were closed to the monied men
of France, and aspiring to that commanding influence in the commercial
world which although often maintained in England is seldom countenanced in
France, unless we may consider Lafitte as an exception. At the breaking
out of the Revolution, the temptation offered by Mr Boyd's wealth was too
great to be resisted. The French Government chose to consider him as an
_emigre_, and seized upon the funds of the bank, which are said to have
consisted of L600,000. At the Peace of Amiens he returned to Paris to
reclaim his property, but upon the renewal of the war he was detained as a
prisoner, being included in the class of _detenus_. In vain he
remonstrated with the Ministers, and said, 'If I am a Frenchman, give me
my liberty; if I am an Englishman, restore me my money; you cannot be
entitled to detain me prisoner as an Englishman and to keep my money as
that of a Frenchman!'

"All his remonstrances were in vain; but distressed as his circumstances
were at this date, his heart was warm and his board as hospitable as ever.
Many an evening have I passed with him talking over the events of former
times and of his financial schemes. I have never met with a spirit more
buoyant nor a disposition more sanguine. In that Paris where he had once
stood at the head of the mercantile interest, and enjoyed, with a zest of
which few men were capable, every luxury that the luxurious capital could
supply, he was now the double bankrupt, the prisoner of war. But to the
credit of the French financiers--then, indeed, the men of most
distinction in the world of fashion--he was not neglected. He still lived
in that society of which he had formerly been so distinguished a member,
nor was he treated with contempt because his wife and daughters now went
to parties in their fiacre. On one of these occasions he met Talleyrand,
who could not help exclaiming, 'Ah! _Monsieur Boyd, vous voir comme
cela!_'

"An application was at one time made to Boyd for his opinion on the
financial affairs of England. This, although not avowed, he was perfectly
aware was made by the Emperor's desire and for his Majesty's private
information. Mr Boyd was not a man, be the consequences what they might,
to bend before the Imperial footstool or to disguise the truth. He was
placed upon his hobby-horse--Pitt's financial system and the sinking fund.
His statement proved anything but satisfactory to the high quarter for
which it was desired; and never again was Mr Boyd applied to on the
subject of English finance."

With regard to his acquaintance amongst the French, John Stanhope speaks
with the greatest interest of a man who became his great friend, Monsieur
de Baure, a Member of the Institute and President of the Cour Imperiale.

"I do not know," he writes, "that I ever remember to have seen a
countenance expressive of brighter intelligence than his. His was indeed
the eye of genius, and gave me a perfect conception of the meaning of an
_eagle eye_. Yet I have seen it alight with a much greater disposition to
fun than I expected to have found in one occupying so high a judicial
situation. Indeed, in one instance, I was more amused than I can express
by the extremely dry manner in which he completely took in an assembly of
the wisest men in France!"

On this occasion young Stanhope was seated amongst a number of
distinguished men at the Institute, when M. de Baure rose to his feet, and
a hush fell on the assembly of savants, who waited with profound attention
for the words of wisdom about to flow from the lips of their learned
colleague. As he rose, however, de Baure caught Stanhope's eye with a
glance which the latter says "spoke as plainly as a glance could speak,
'Now I am about to have some fun with these wiseacres!'"

Drawing himself up, the speaker announced with the most profound
solemnity, "Gentlemen, I must preface my remarks by stating how I consider
that a cook who discovers a new dish deserves a seat in the Institute more
than a man who discovers a new star...."

Loud were the interruptions of horror which burst from the Members of the
Institute, who, to the unutterable amusement of Stanhope and certain of
his friends, took the remark literally.

"_Que me fait une etoile?_" continued de Baure with impassioned eloquence.
"_Que me fait une etoile_ whilst a chef who discovers a new dish which
tempts me to begin again after I have satisfied my appetite confers upon
me the greatest obligation which it lies in the power of one human being
to confer upon another!" [2]

Urged by his grave and astounded colleagues to elaborate his reasons for
his extraordinary statement, de Baure declined on the following ground: "A
king of France," he said, "was passing through a provincial town when a
pompous mayor, addressing his Majesty, regretted that he had twenty very
urgent reasons for not having fired the guns in honour of the Royal visit,
the first of which was that he had not any powder. 'Stop there!' said the
King, 'I will excuse you the other nineteen.'"

Another Frenchman, of a very different type, who was a friend of John
Stanhope at this date, was the young Comte de St. Morys, of whose tragic
fate, so illustrative of the conditions then prevalent in France, Stanhope
subsequently gave the following account:--

"The Comte de St. Morys had been an _emigre_ at the period of the
Revolution. His mother, however, had not accompanied her husband during
that exile, and, in consequence, had succeeded eventually in preventing
the confiscation of some of his property. When, later, Napoleon adopted
the course of gathering round his throne as many of the old _noblesse_ as
he could, he conveyed the hint to Madame de St. Morys that, unless her son
returned, the remainder of her property should be confiscated. In
consequence of this notification the young Comte deemed it his duty to
return to his native land, and he established himself in the _basse-cour_
of his former home, which was all of the chateau which now remained.

"Unfortunately for him, the rest of the property had been sold to a man
whose character may be best described by stating that he had been a
branded fellow. A good understanding was not likely to exist between men
of such opposite principles, and St. Morys, although he possessed the
kindest and the warmest heart, was rather of a hasty disposition, and had
a little more brusquerie of manner than is generally found among Frenchmen
of his rank. What may have been the first, or the principal cause of the
dispute, I know not, but, from what I heard, it appeared to me most
probable that the object of Colonel Barbier de Fay was to compel Monsieur
de St. Morys to give him a high price for his land in order to get rid of
so disagreeable a neighbour.

"However that may be, Colonel Barbier's hatred to St. Morys at length
carried him so far as to lead him to form a plan of vengeance which I can
characterise by no other expression than diabolical.

"At the restoration of the Bourbons, Monsieur de St. Morys, like many
others, was raised to the rank he would have held according to the army
list. He therefore became a general in the army and a lieutenant in the
Garde de Corps, which, as the regiment was entirely composed of nobles,
was a very high situation. Colonel Barbier, with a double motive--first
that of tormenting Monsieur de St. Morys and next that of throwing
discredit on a corps which he detested--introduced into the Garde room,
and circulated wherever he could find access, printed papers blackening
the Count's character. That gentleman accordingly challenged him. Colonel
Barbier replied that he would only accept the challenge on one condition--
that two pistols should be put into a bag, one loaded and another not, and
that they should draw for the chance.

"This St. Morys rejected, stating that he was prepared to fight, but not
to commit murder. In order, however, that his character should be free
from stain he referred the matter to the Marshals of France. They approved
of his conduct, and there the matter ought to have ended. Unfortunately
the Garde de Corps, aware of the jealousy with which the old army viewed
their position, were very touchy on the point of honour. Wherefore the Duc
de Luxembourg, his Colonel, considered that St. Morys was under a cloud,
and refused to allow him to perform his military duties till his
reputation was cleared. This was, in point of fact, the object which his
adversary had in view. It placed St. Morys in a most awkward position, and
threw an apple of discord among the Garde de Corps.

"My poor friend unluckily consulted everybody, and followed everybody's
advice. That which our joint friend, the Comte G. de la Rochefoucauld,
gave him appeared to me the best; he advised him to make up his mind at
once to the sacrifice of his commission; that having challenged his
opponent he had done all that was incumbent upon him as a man of honour, a
fact which was unquestionable after the decision of the marshals, and that
he should express himself ready to meet any person who should arraign his
conduct. But this would probably have involved him with the Duc de
Luxembourg, and consequently compelled him to resign his commission in the
Guards, which would have been peculiarly unfortunate as he was daily in
expectation of being raised to the rank of captain, upon which he intended
to have retired upon half pay.

"Instead, therefore, of following this advice, he endeavoured by further
irritation to compel his opponent to meet him; he went into a cafe and
struck the Colonel on the face with his fist, believing that so public a
disgrace would induce Barbier to meet him on his own terms; but the other
was not to be diverted from his predetermined purpose; he continued to
persist in his declaration that he would fight only on the terms he had
originally proposed.

"In this state the matter continued for some time, till Barbier thought he
had sufficiently achieved his first object of bringing disgrace upon St.
Morys, and therefore, at last, consented to meet his antagonist. They
accordingly met, fired two brace of pistols, and then drew their swords.
The seconds had previously decreed that the duel should terminate as soon
as blood was drawn. Monsieur de St. Morys having, or thinking he had,
slightly wounded his enemy, called out, 'Monsieur, vous etes blesse!' and
laid himself open in full confidence that the fight was over. 'Non,
monsieur,' replied Barbier, '_mais vous etes mort!_' and not only plunged
his sword into his victim's body, but is said actually to have given a
turn with his wrist to secure the mortality of the wound.

"Thus terminated the life of poor St. Morys!"

The consummation of this tragedy, however, belonged to a date later than
that of the residence of John Stanhope in Paris, and during his sojourn
there St Morys was still, like many of his day, endeavouring to reconcile
his royalist proclivities to the changed conditions of his surroundings
and his own altered fortunes. Meanwhile, into the comparatively peaceful
routine of Parisian life came, ever and anon, news of a series of
victories achieved by the _grande armee_, which was received in France
with the customary complacency and elation that such events had long been
wont to evoke. By the bulk of Frenchmen the triumphant issue of the
Russian campaign was looked upon as a foregone conclusion, and, therefore,
when there suddenly broke upon Paris the knowledge of the supreme disaster
of Moscow the effect was overwhelming. The 10th Bulletin disclosed the
truth with a shattering finality: "_Dans quatre jours cette belle armee
n'existait plus._" The effect was as though a thunderbolt had fallen upon
the smiling, placid country. France was plunged into mourning for her
sons, Ministers trembled for their posts, and everywhere reigned
consternation, uncertainty and grief.

Suddenly, into the middle of this general _bouleversement_, a rumour
gained credence that the Emperor himself was at the Tuileries. Young
Stanhope hastened to the palace to learn the accuracy of this report, and
was soon convinced of its truth. Throughout the building were tokens of
unwonted activity; lights were visible in all the windows, and a small
crowd was stationed outside. From a French soldier standing near him he
learnt that the carriage in which Napoleon had travelled had broken down
at Meaux, "and the Emperor had then got into one of the little cabriolets
vulgarly called a _pot de chambre_; they are little cars which ply between
Paris and the neighbouring towns, and carry four inside, and one,
generally called a _lapin_, on the same seat as the driver." Upon his
arrival in Paris his Imperial Majesty got out of this vehicle and walked
to the Tuileries, where he was stopped by the guard at the door, who, in
the dusk, failed to recognise him. "_Je suis de la maison!_" explained
Napoleon briefly, and he was permitted to enter.

Thus Bonaparte returned to Paris, not as the triumphant victor, the
indomitable conqueror of Europe, but as a defeated general, bent on
retrieving some singularly grievous errors by tact and perseverance. Yet
something never to be regained was lost to the Man of Destiny. The spell
which had deified him was broken. Napoleon the Invincible, the Infallible,
had blundered. "This supernatural man, this god--or devil--had sunk below
the level of ordinary men. '_Le prestige est passe_' was in everybody's
mouth."

Paris soon rang with stories of the disastrous campaign--tales, in the
most trivial of which the Parisians recognised the complex personality of
that god or devil of their mingled idolatry or detestation. A French
officer told John Stanhope two anecdotes, which, although in themselves
slight, are strikingly illustrative both of Napoleon's shrewdness and of
his brutality. On one occasion the Emperor heard some men murmuring and
declaring that rather than suffer the torments which they were then
enduring, they had better give up the struggle and make up their minds to
go to Siberia. Napoleon turned to them, and, fixing them with his glance,
merely observed, "En Siberie ou _en France_!" Well did he understand the
emotional temperament of the men with whom he had to deal! The tone in
which he uttered _en France_ recalled vividly to their thoughts their own,
their beautiful France; and the men, who a moment before were abandoned to
despair, roused themselves and advanced on their march with all the
enthusiasm and the renewed vivacity of Frenchmen.

The other story, as indicated, is of a less creditable nature. After the
terrible crossing of the Beresina, when, through faulty generalship and
inexcusable want of forethought, thousands upon thousands of lives were
needlessly sacrificed, the Emperor, during the wretched bivouac west of
the river, was, like the rest of his regiment, suffering intensely from
the bitter weather. His officers, therefore, went round calling for dry
wood for his fire, and soldiers, perishing with cold, came forward to
offer precious sticks, with the words, uttered ungrudgingly, "Take this
for the Emperor." Shortly afterwards, Napoleon was seated in a miserable
_barraque_, with his _surtout_ over his shoulders, enjoying the poor fire
thus obtained. Folding his coat more closely about him, he remarked
casually, "Il y aura diablement des fous geles cette nuit!"

Yet the man before whose colossal egoism imagination waxes impotent,
could, on other occasions, exhibit an irresponsible _bonhomie_, which
seemed totally at variance with the more sinister side of his character.
This John Stanhope illustrates by another anecdote.

"Amongst my fellow-prisoners at Verdun had been a gentleman who promoted
to the rank of his mistress a woman who was previously his maid-servant.
He obtained permission to reside in Paris, but was included in the general
order of the Duc de Rovigo upon his appointment to the Ministry of Police,
by which nearly all the English were returned to the depots.

"Madame Chambers, who found herself, under that fictitious title,
occupying a very different position at Paris to that which she could fill
at Verdun, where her real situation and origin were generally known, had
no inclination to go back to that depot, but determined to leave no stone
unturned to obtain leave for Chambers to remain in Paris. She was not a
person to be easily daunted or troubled with any unnecessary _mauvaise
honte_. Accordingly, the first time that the Emperor went to the _chasse_,
Madame Chambers made her appearance. It was after the shooting was over,
when a great circle was formed, in which the Emperor paced backwards and
forwards, generally with his hands behind his back and his eyes fixed upon
the ground, whilst the game which had been shot was laid out before him.
Madame Chambers advanced and presented a petition to him. He inquired
curtly who she was and what she wanted, and took no further notice of her.
The next time the Emperor went to the _chasse_ Madame Chambers again made
her appearance, the same scene was re-enacted, with the same result. He
went again a third time, and there also again appeared Madame Chambers
with her petition.

"'Comment!' exclaimed the Emperor furiously, 'toujours Madame Chambers!'

"'Oui, Empereur, toujours Madame Chambers,' she replied imperturbably.

"This was too much for Napoleon. The man who was accustomed to see the
greatest of his generation tremble before his slightest frown gazed in no
small astonishment at the plump, placid little soubrette who confronted
him without a tremor. He burst into a merry laugh, and exclaimed. '_Eh
bien, que votre mari reste a Paris. Berthier, je vous en charge!_' turning
to Marshal Berthier who was in his suite; and Mr Chambers was never sent
back to the depot."

Few, however, shared the temerity of Madame Chambers. John Stanhope
writes: "The awe that even the principal ministers felt in the presence of
Napoleon would not be credited in England. His courtiers literally
trembled before him. 'In what sort of a humour is the Emperor to-day?'
was a frequent question in Paris.... How I have blushed for the adulation,
the degrading, I may almost say the blasphemous flattery that has been
offered before the throne of Napoleon by men of the highest rank. But
perhaps I ought to make some allowance for those who had witnessed the
horrors of the Revolution. Can, however, such men be expected to recover
the high tone of feeling they once entertained? Can France ever be
restored to a sound state?"

Yet one man stood alone in heroic opposition to the Conqueror of
Christendom. Frail, old, and deserted even by those upon whose support he
had relied, the Pope, Pius VII., had courage to oppose the Conqueror of
the world. While John Stanhope was in Paris the celebrated interview took
place between the aged Pontiff and the autocrat to whom the Vicar of
Christ was but as a temporal Sovereign to be crushed beneath the might of
an all-but universal monarchy. Pius VII. had indeed had an ample warning
in the fate of his predecessor, who, bereft of all power, had been
consigned by Napoleon to an imprisonment in which he had expired. In 1801
Pius VII. had been forced to conclude a _concordat_ with Napoleon, which
the latter had afterwards subjected to arbitrary alterations; in 1804 the
Pontiff had found himself compelled to repair to Paris to assist at the
coronation of his enemy. Shortly after his return to Rome the French had
entered the Eternal city, and in May 1809 the Papal States were annexed by
France. Promptly the brave old Pontiff excommunicated the robbers of the
Holy See, and the vengeance of Bonaparte upon this act was swift and sure.
The Pope was removed as a prisoner to Grenoble, then to Fontainebleau; and
it is curious to learn, by Stanhope's contemporary account, the light in
which such a stupendous event in the history of the Roman Church was
regarded at the date of its happening.

"The Holy Father, the representative of St Peter, he who holds the Keys of
Heaven and Hell, is actually a prisoner in the hands of Napoleon! Poor,
excellent old man, gallantly and with the resignation of a martyr does he
bear up against his sufferings and maintain the dignity of the Papal See.
It is a singular thing that in a _soi-disant_ Catholic country the
imprisonment of the Father of their Church should make so little
sensation. I hear, indeed, that many women gathered round the different
places at which he stopped in the course of his journey through France,
but even the interest they felt for him soon appears to have subsided. _A
partie de chasse_ the other day was announced to take place in the Forest
of Fontainebleau. This afforded the Emperor an opportunity of having a
conversation with the Pope without any sacrifice of his own dignity,
without any troublesome arrangement of ceremony, and still more without
drawing upon himself the public eye, as to go hunting near the Palace of
Fontainebleau without even paying a visit to the Pope would have been a
positive breach of politeness.

"The interview took place. On the one side was the venerable churchman
bending beneath the weight of affliction as well as of years, on the other
Napoleon Bonaparte; yet if the reports circulated in Paris are to be
believed, the old Pontiff held his own with unabated courage and dignity,
and nobly maintained the cause of his religion, though the Emperor is said
_actually to have thrust his fist in his face and all but struck him_. How
the interview terminated I cannot learn, but I heard the fresh Concordat
cried about the streets of Paris that same evening.

"This dispute," he writes later, "has narrowly escaped producing the most
important results in ecclesiastical history--the separation of the French
Empire from the See of Rome. The Emperor had assumed the nomination to the
French Bishoprics, but the Pope refused to give the investiture to the
persons he appointed. The Church almost universally stood by their Chief;
the consequence was that there was a considerable difficulty in filling up
the vacant Sees. The Archbishopric of Paris was one of these. The Emperor
offered it to his Uncle, Cardinal Fesch, but he, either from sincere
attachment to his Church, or from the duty he owed to the Roman supremacy
as a Cardinal, or from a conviction that he was safer in possession of the
Archbishopric of Lyons, held under the Pope's authority, than he could be
in one held in defiance of it, resolved to brave the Emperor's anger and
refuse that offer. Napoleon, contenting himself with calling Fesch a fool,
offered it to Cardinal Maury, who became titular Archbishop of Paris.
There are few things in the history of the French Revolution that make one
blush more for human nature than the falling off of that man whose opening
career had been so brilliant....

"More and more the Emperor had felt that to be second to the Pope was
inconsistent with his own dignity, and that if he could not bend the
pontiff to his will, he must do without him. He had accordingly determined
to assume the sole presentation of the Bishoprics; but how to get the
Church to assent to such a proceeding was the question. He came at length
to the decision of summoning the Gallican and Italian Churches.... When
the Council met, I was allowed by a friend of mine to copy a letter from
one of the members. It was a curious document and I preserved it for some
time with great care, but I became at length alarmed at having such a
compromising paper in my possession and reluctantly committed it to the
flames. The tenor, however, of some parts of it I remember....

"The writer stated that the Emperor at first proposed to try the effects
of corruption and to tamper with the Bishops individually, and that he had
succeeded in that course, to some extent, more particularly with the
Italian Bishops; but that when he abandoned that plan and summoned a
Council, he committed a great error and entirely defeated his own
intentions. Those men, who could be gained by corruption or intimidated by
power, when they found themselves surrounded by their Brethren, were
withheld, by shame, from giving way to such considerations. Numbers give
power; individually each man might tremble at the thought of resisting
Napoleon, but united, the _esprit de corps_ which is, as it ought to be,
the most powerful incentive among all Churchmen, taught them to offer an
unyielding opposition to all demands inconsistent with the rights of their
Church. But there was another circumstance which rendered the assembling
of the Council fatal to the Emperor's project, and which, not to have
known, was on his part inexcusable ignorance. At the opening of all
Councils each member takes an oath that he will not alter anything that
has been fixed by former Councils, so that everyone in this case was
individually bound by an oath taken in the presence of his Colleagues to
reject such conditions as were required by the Emperor from the Council!
The consequence of this was that even those who had given their adhesion
to his plans were now found united with the brethren in the cause of their
Church. Napoleon found that he had overreached himself.

"The letter further stated that the Bishop or Archbishop of Tours had
conducted himself like an angel. _Du sang nous en avons tous dans nos
veines_, was the opening of his speech, _et que nous en devons repandre
puisque la derniere goutte_, etc., etc. It stated further that when the
Bishops took up the address to the throne they commenced in the following
words--_Sire, nous vous apportons nos tetes!_ Upon which the Emperor
actually started, surprised at hearing himself addressed in words which
were suited to a Nero or a Caligula."

Meanwhile Napoleon, having failed to bend the Church of Rome to his will,
was preparing for another campaign against terrestrial powers. He had
started a conscription and was raising an army of 400,000 men, with which
he hoped to regain something of his lost prestige in the eyes of the
world. Apart from troops, he had to acquire horses for his cavalry and for
this end some expedient had to be devised. The methods which he adopted
were in accordance with the rest of his policy.

"Bold, indeed, as well as singular, was his plan. A conscription of horses
would have been too violent, certainly too straightforward a proceeding,
but still it was only by some measure of that nature that his object could
be attained. That which was determined upon was the _voluntary
presentation_ of horses to the Emperor, a plan which obviated the
necessity of paying anything, whereas, in a case of conscription, some
sum, however inadequate, must have been fixed upon as a sort of regulation
price.

"The example was set by the Senate, then followed by the city of Paris and
all the authorities. The papers teemed with fulsome statements of the
"presents" made to the Emperor. Monsieur A. had sent his son, fully
equipped; Monsieur B. had sent two horses, which the Emperor had
graciously accepted, etc., etc. If this fashion had been confined to those
whose situation rendered it incumbent upon them to prove their zeal for
the Emperor's service, there would have been no great harm; no one would
have felt much pity for this slight sacrifice on the part of those who
were basking in the sunshine of Court favour. Far, however, was the
measure from being limited to courtiers; its operation was universal. The
stables of every individual were visited, their horses examined and
practically seized....

"A friend of mine was so indignant at having his stables inspected that he
boldly refused to allow his horses to be taken out, declaring that if the
Emperor insisted upon having them, he would give them poison. I heard of
only one other case of resistance. A man whose horses were to be taken
away, inquired, with unprecedented temerity, 'Is this compulsory?'

"'No!--Ah, no!' was the emphatic reply.

"'Then if it is voluntary, it rests with me?'

"'_Mais certainement!_ But we _advise_ you to send them!'

"'May I then demand payment?' he next inquired.

"'Mais certainement!' was again the assurance which he received. He might
have payment at a subsequent date--they could not say exactly when, but
they _advised_ him not to demand it.

"It may be concluded that such indiscriminate spoliation, only rendered
the more disgusting by the humbug with which it was accompanied, could not
but tend to increase the unpopularity of the Emperor. So violent was the
discontent, that nothing but the dread of the police and the state of
apathy, into which the whole nation had sunk, prevented an open
insurrection."

In the midst of the general discontent, however, a ripple of merriment
passed over Paris. Madame mere, who, of course, could not avoid following
the new fashion, presented her horses as an offering to her son. They were
at once, to the delight of the Parisians, returned to her as _good for
nothing_! "Whether," says Stanhope, "she had selected her gift with a view
to this verdict, or whether it represented the general state of her stud,
I know not, but, from what I have seen, I conclude that the latter is not
an unlikely case." This little incident and the fact that many of the
untrained horses thus acquired, pirouetted in an undignified manner and
turned their backs as the Emperor passed, momentarily restored the good
humour of the Parisians.

But John Stanhope, whose own steed escaped confiscation on account of its
being blind of one eye, took far less interest in the Emperor's movements
than in a chance of freedom which at last presented itself to him. "There
was not a man in France at this date," he states, "certainly not a
Minister, who would have dared individually to plead the cause of a
prisoner. With the exception of Talleyrand, few among the French
dignitaries were superior to that singular influence by which Napoleon was
able to subdue the proudest spirits; and since the Ministers had positive
orders not to submit to the Emperor any proposal of that nature, there was
not one of them bold enough to defy such a mandate." But as with the
ecclesiastics, so with the Savants of France; what a man dared not attempt
singly, a body of men, in their collective strength, might venture. It was
patent to the Savants that the young Englishman had been unjustly
detained. The object of his journey had been so obviously not only a
peaceable but a laudable one, that the Institute determined at length, if
possible, in the interests of Science, to effect his liberation.

And at last they succeeded. At last, after a period of alternate
tormenting hope and despair, John Stanhope secured the longed-for passport
which accorded him permission to quit Paris. Even then, when liberty was
once more within his reach, it was all but snatched from him. Savary,
Minister of the Interior, taking advantage of the Emperor's absence,
harshly ordered all prisoners to return to their _depots_. But Stanhope,
with Napoleon's passport in his pocket, decided to disregard these orders,
and since his parole no longer prohibited an attempt at flight, he
determined to sell his newborn liberty dearly. After many hairbreadth
escapes he succeeded in reaching the German frontier, and to his unbounded
relief knew that he was at last free!

[Illustration: PASSPORT GIVEN BY NAPOLEON I TO JOHN SPENCER STANHOPE,
MARCH 14TH, 1813]

By the advice of his friends he decided to make his way back to England,
instead of going direct to Greece as he had at first intended. Passing
next through Vienna, therefore, he viewed with pardonable curiosity
Francis I., the father of Marie Louise; and his description of the
attitude of the Emperor of Austria towards his redoubtable son-in-law at
this date, when the latter still retained the Imperial power, is of
interest in the light of the complete change of front exhibited by Francis
directly the ascendancy of Napoleon appeared to be on the wane. Stanhope
relates:--

We English view with such horror all despotic Governments that we
cannot conceive the possibility of happiness existing under the sway
of an absolute Sovereign. Yet such I found to be the case at Vienna.
The Government of the Emperor is mild and paternal, the people seem to
have as much freedom of speech as they could enjoy even in England,
and at this particular moment the measures of the administration are
anything but popular. The Emperor is supposed to be devoted to the
cause of Napoleon, whilst his subjects are almost universally
enthusiastic for the liberty of Germany. Upon some occurrence, I think
it was upon the occasion of an insult offered to the Conte de
Narbonne, the Emperor was reported to have said--"Monsieur
l'Ambassadeur, you and I are the only two _Frenchmen_ in the country!"

The Empress was described to me as a woman of a proud and violent
temper, whilst the Crown Prince was spoken of with great interest, but
as a young man kept in the highest subjection. When the Emperor
summoned him to accompany himself and the Empress on their way to meet
Napoleon and Marie Louise, then on their road to Vilna previous to
opening the Moscow Campaign, the Prince was said to have replied that
he should have been most happy to have gone to meet his sister, _but
not that Man_!--the consequence of this was that he was immediately
put under arrest.

I was much pleased with the simple and unaffected manner in which the
Imperial family seemed to mix with the people. The Archduchesses
frequently drove about the streets without Guards or more attendants
than any lady of fashion would have had, though among the nobility
there is occasionally a display of state that is not to be found in
any other capital in Europe. I saw a man of rank going to Court who
had with him at least twenty servants magnificently dressed; and
although it was drawing towards the end of the season, Vienna still
appeared to be extremely brilliant and luxurious.... The city,
however, still bore marks of her recent misfortunes; the French
cannon-balls were still visible, and ruined buildings still testified
that she had been forced to yield to the proud will of a Conqueror.

At length, on what John Stanhope subsequently described as the happiest
day of his life, he reached Cannon Hall; and he used to relate that one of
the first discoveries which he made on entering his old home convinced him
how confident at one time his family must have been that he was numbered
with the dead, for a very valuable collection of prints, which he had
greatly prized, had, in view of his supposed decease, been employed by his
brothers in papering one of the bachelors' bedrooms!

Naturally, he was strongly urged by his relations not to risk leaving
England again, and many of his friends added their persuasions to those of
his family, pointing out the serious risk which he ran in again visiting
the continent. To all such representations he turned a deaf ear, since he
held that, as his liberty had been granted him with the ostensible object
of enabling him to prosecute his proposed researches in Greece, he was in
honour bound to fulfil that obligation. His brother Edward decided to
accompany him, and to his brother William he wrote:--

CANNON HALL, _September 1813._

Edward and I start for Greece next month, & my old friend Bonaparte is
at such a low ebb that I think perhaps I may be able to return through
France without the agreeable title of Prisoner.

You seem to think that I am not obliged to go into Greece. The truth
is that I do not consider myself as positively obliged, but I consider
that the honour of a Stanhope must not only be maintained, it must not
even be suspected, so go I will, be the consequences what they may.

[Illustration: EDWARD COLLINGWOOD, SON OF WALTER SPENCER STANHOPE, ESQ.,
M.P.]

Thus it befell that John Stanhope nearly became, for the second time, a
prisoner of Napoleon, and the tale of his adventures may be concluded
here.

He had promised that he would _en route_ deliver some despatches to the
Queen of Wurtemburg; he therefore journeyed to Stuttgart, where he had a
lively interview with the former Princess Royal of England, who, although
now forty-seven years of age, and exceedingly massive in figure, still
retained her girlish sprightliness. On hearing that a young Englishman
desired to see her, she at once concluded that someone had been sent with
fresh news of her father, George III., the thought of whose mental
affliction was a constant source of grief to her. John Stanhope writes:--

STUTTGART, _January 10th, 1814._

As soon as I had breakfasted, I went to the Palace. I was shown into a

Book of the day: