Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Joris Van Dael and PG Distributed Proofreaders
CALVERT OF STRATHORE
BY CARTER GOODLOE
I. The Legation at Paris
II. The France Of 1789
III. “The Lass with the Delicate Air” IV. At the Palais Royal
V. The Private Secretary
VI. Mr. Calvert Meets Old and New Friends VII. An Afternoon on the Ice
VIII. The Americans are Made Welcome in Paris IX. In which Mr. Calvert’s Good Intentions Miscarry X. At Versailles
XI. Mr. Calvert Attends the King’s Levee XII. The Fourth and the Fourteenth of July XIII. Monsieur de Lafayette Brings Friends to a Dinner at the Legation XIV. Mr. Calvert Rides Down into Touraine XV. Christmas Eve
XVI. Mr. Calvert Tries to Forget
XVII. Mr. Calvert Meets an Old Enemy XVIII. Mr. Calvert Fights a Duel
XIX. In which an Unlooked-for Event Takes Place XX. Mr. Calvert Sees a Short Campaign under Lafayette XXI. Mr. Calvert Quits the Army and Engages in a Hazardous Enterprise XXII. Mr. Calvert Starts on a Journey
XXIII. Within the Palace
XXIV. The Tenth of August
CALVERT OF STRATHMORE
THE LEGATION AT PARIS
There seemed to be some unusual commotion, a suppressed excitement, about the new and stately American Legation at Paris on the morning of the 3d of February in the year of grace (but not for France–her days and years of grace were over!) 1789. The handsome mansion at the corner of the Grande Route des Champs Elysees and the rue Neuve de Berry, which had lately belonged to Monsieur le Comte de l’Avongeac and in which Mr. Jefferson had installed himself as accredited minister to France after the return of Dr. Franklin to America, presented an appearance different from its usual quiet.
Across the courtyard, covered with snow fallen during the might, which glittered and sparkled in the brilliant wintry sunshine, grooms and stable-boys hurried between ecuries and remises, currying Mr. Jefferson’s horses and sponging off Mr. Jefferson’s handsome carriage, with which he had provided himself on setting up his establishment as minister of the infant federation of States to the court of the sixteenth Louis. At the porter’s lodge that functionary frequently left his little room, with its brazier of glowing coals, and walked up and down beneath the porte-cochere, flapping his arms vigorously in the biting wintry air, and glancing between the bars of the great outer gate up and down the road as if on the lookout for some person or persons. In the hotel itself, servants moved quickly and quietly about, setting everything in the most perfect order.
At one of the windows which gave upon the extensive gardens, covered, like all else, with the freshly fallen snow, Mr. Jefferson himself could now and then be seen as he moved restlessly about the small, octagonal room, lined with books and littered with papers, in which he conducted most of his official business. A letter, just finished, lay upon his desk. ‘Twas to his daughter in her convent of Panthemont, and full of that good advice which no one ever knew how to give better than he. The letter being folded and despatched by a servant, Mr. Jefferson was at liberty to indulge his restless mood. This he did, walking up and down with his hands clasped behind his back, as was his fashion; but, in spite of the impatience of his manner, a smile, as of some secret contentment or happy anticipation, played about his lips. At frequent intervals he would station himself at one of the windows which commanded the entrance of the hotel, and, looking anxiously out at the wintry scene, would consult the splendid new watch just made for him, at great cost, by Monsieur l’Epine.
It was on the stroke of twelve by Monsieur l’Epine’s watch when Mr. Jefferson, gazing out of the window for the twentieth time that morning of February 3d, saw a large travelling berline turn in at the big grille and draw up under the porte-cochere in front of the porter’s lodge. In an instant he was out of the room, down the great stairway, and at the entrance of the rez-de-chaussee, just as the postilion, dismounting, opened the door of the carriage from which emerged a large, handsome man of about thirty-five or six, who moved with surprising agility considering the fact that he boasted but one good leg, the other member being merely a wooden stump. He was followed by a younger man, who sprang out and waited respectfully, but eagerly, until Mr. Jefferson had welcomed his companion.
“Mr. Morris!–my dear sir! welcome to Paris! welcome to this little spot of America!” said Mr. Jefferson, shaking the older man cordially by the hand again and again and drawing him toward the open door. And then passing quickly out upon the step to where the young man still stood looking on at this greeting, Mr. Jefferson laid a hand affectionately on his shoulder and looked into the young eyes.
“My dear boy, my dear Calvert!” he exclaimed with emotion, “I cannot tell you how welcome you are, nor how I thank you for obeying my request to come to me!”
“The kindest command I could have received, sir,” replied the young man, much moved by Mr. Jefferson’s affectionate words and manner.
Turning, and linking an arm in that of each of his guests, Mr. Jefferson led them into the house, followed by the servants carrying their travelling things.
“Ah! we will bring back Virginia days in the midst of this turbulent, mad Paris. ‘Tis a wild, bad place I have brought you to, Ned,” he said, turning to the young gentleman, “but it must all end in good–surely, surely.” Mr. Jefferson’s happy mood seemed suddenly to cloud over, and he spoke absently and almost as if reassuring himself. “But come,” he added, brightening up, “I will not talk of such things before we are fairly in the house! Welcome again, Mr. Morris! Welcome, Mr. Secretary!”–he turned to Calvert–“It seems strange, but most delightful, to have you here.” Talking in such fashion, he hurried them up the great stairway as fast as Mr. Morris’s wooden leg would permit, and into his private study.
“Ha! a fire!” said Mr. Morris, sinking down luxuriously in a chair before the blazing logs. “I had almost forgot what the sight of one was like, and I was beginning to wish that this”–he looked down and tapped his sound leg, laughing a little whimsically, “were wood, too. I would have suffered less with the cold!”
“I am sure you must have had a bitter journey from Havre,” rejoined Mr. Jefferson. “‘Tis the coldest winter France has known for eighty years–the hardest, cruellest winter the poor of this great city, of this great country, can remember. Would to God it were over and the spring here!”
“I should imagine that it had not been any too pleasant even for the rich,” said Mr. Morris, shivering slightly. But Mr. Jefferson paid no attention to the sufferings of the rich suggested by Mr. Morris, and only stirred the blazing logs uneasily.
“At any rate it serves to make our welcome here seem the warmer, sir,” said Calvert, from where he stood divesting himself of his many-caped top-coat.
“Ah! that is spoken like you, Ned! But stand forth, sir! Let me see if you are changed, if four years at the College of Princeton have made another fellow of my old Calvert of Strathore.” He went over to the young man and drew him into the middle of the room, where the cold, brilliant sunshine struck full on the fine young face. There was no shadow or line upon it.
“You are much grown,” said Mr. Jefferson, thoughtfully, “much taller, but ’tis the same slender, athletic figure, and the eyes and brow and mouth are not changed, thank God!”
“Is there no improvement, sir? Can you note no change for the better?” said Calvert, laughing, and attempting to cover his embarrassment, at the close scrutiny he was undergoing. “But I fear not. I fear my college life has left as little impress on my mind as on my body. I shall never be a scholar like you, sir,” he added, with a sigh.
“And yet, in spite of your disinclination to study, you have gone through college, and most creditably. Dr. Witherspoon himself has written me of your career. Does that say nothing in your favor?”
“To be sure it does,” broke in Mr. Morris, laughing. “There is no merit in being a scholar like Mr. Jefferson here, who was born a student. He couldn’t have helped being a scholar if he had tried. But for you, Mr. Calvert, who dislike study, to have made yourself stick to the college curriculum for four years, I consider a great and meritorious achievement!”
“I agree with you entirely, Mr. Morris,” said Mr. Jefferson, joining in the laugh, “and as for that, Ned has done more than merely stick to the curriculum of the college. Dr. Witherspoon, in writing me of his progress, was pleased to say many complimentary things of several excursions into verse which he has made. He especially commended his lines on ‘A View of Princeton College,’ written something after the manner of Mr. Gray’s ‘Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.'”
“What!” said Mr. Morris, “an ode on ‘A View of Princeton College’! My dear Mr. Calvert, couldn’t a young man of your years find a more inspiring theme than a college building to write upon? Instead of an _alma mater_, you should have chosen some _filia pulchra_ to make verses to,” and he gave Mr. Jefferson a quizzical look.
“I agree with you again, Mr. Morris,” said that gentleman, laughing heartily, “and I think that you and I would have made no such mistake at Ned’s age,” and he sighed a little as he thought of the gay pleasures of his own youth, the dances and walks and talks with “Belinda,” and his poetic effusions to her and many another.
“Nor even at our own,” objected Mr. Morris. “I assure you I feel myself quite capable of composing verses to fair ones yet, Mr. Jefferson.” And indeed he was, and rhymed his way gayly to the heart of many a lady in the days to come.
As for Calvert, he only smiled at the light banter at his expense, scarcely understanding it, indeed, for as yet he carried a singularly untouched heart about in his healthy young body.
Mr. Morris arose: “I must be going,” he said. “I have sent my things on to the Hotel de Richelieu–” but Mr. Jefferson pressed him back into his seat.
“You are my guest for the day,” he declared, interrupting him, “and must take your first breakfast with Ned and myself here at the Legation. I will send you around to the rue de Richelieu in my carriage later on. I have a thousand questions to ask you. I must have all the news from America–how fares General Washington, and my friend, James Madison, and pretty Miss Molly Crenshawe?–there’s a lovely woman for you, Ned, in the bud, ’tis true, but likely to blossom into a perfect rose. There is but one beauty in all Paris to compare with her, I think. And that is the sister of your old friend d’Azay. And what does Patrick Henry and Pendleton these days? I hear that Hamilton holds strange views about the finances and has spoken of them freely in Congress. What are they? My letters give me no details as yet.” And more and more questions during the abundant breakfast which had been spread for them in the morning-room adjoining Mr. Jefferson’s library. Now it was a broadside of inquiries aimed at Mr. Gouverneur Morris concerning the newly adopted Constitution which he had helped fashion for the infant union of States and the chances of electing General Washington as first president of that union; now it was question after question regarding Dr. Franklin’s reception in America on his return from France and release from his arduous duties and the vexatious persecutions to which he had been subjected by his former colleagues–the most outrageous and unprovoked that ever man suffered–and there were endless inquiries about personal, friends, about the currency in America, and about the feeling of security and tranquillity of the States.
The breakfast, generous as it was, was over long before Mr. Jefferson had tired of his questioning, and they were still sitting around the table talking when a visitor was announced. It was Monsieur le Vicomte de Beaufort, Lafayette’s young kinsman and officer in the American war, who came in directly, bowing to Mr. Morris, whom he had known well in America, and embracing Calvert with a friendly fervor that almost five years of separation had not diminished. He had known of his coming through Mr. Jefferson, and, happening to pass the hotel, had stopped to inquire at the porter’s lodge whether the travellers had arrived.
“‘Tis a thousand pities d’Azay is not here to welcome you, too, my dear Calvert,” he said, regretfully, “but he will be back to-morrow with his aunt, the old Duchess, and his sister. He is gone down to Azay-le-Roi, his chateau near Tours, to fetch them. But come! I am all impatience to show you a little of my Paris. We won’t wait for d’Azay’s return to begin, and I am sure Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Morris will excuse you for a few hours. Is it not so, gentlemen?” He looked around at the two older men. “Calvert has shown me Virginia. I long to return the compliment and show him this little piece of France!”
“But first,” objected Mr. Jefferson, “I should like to show him the Embassy. Come, gentlemen, we will make a rapid tour of the apartments before you set out on your larger explorations.” And, leading the way, he began to point out the public and private apartments, the state dining-room, with its handsome service of silver plate, the view of the large gardens from the windows, the reception-hall, the doorways, the great staircase ornamented with sculptured salamanders, for Monsieur de l’Avongeac’s ancestors had built the house during the reign of Francois I. and had adorned it everywhere with the King’s insignia. ‘Twas a very magnificent hotel, for Mr. Jefferson had been unwilling to jeopardize the fortunes of the new republic by installing its legation in mean quarters, and it was eminently well arranged for the entertainment of the brilliant society that gathered so frequently by his invitation.
When they had made the tour of the establishment and had reached the head of the great stairway again, Mr. Jefferson dismissed the two young men with a final injunction to return soon, as he had much to talk over with Calvert. As the clanging door shut upon them, the two older men turned and went into Mr. Jefferson’s study.
“I have to thank you, Mr. Jefferson,” said Mr. Morris, seating himself once more before the crackling fire, “for a most pleasant acquaintance. I will confess now that when you wrote me suggesting that your new secretary should make the journey to France with me, I was scarcely pleased. ‘Tis a long trip to make in the company of one who may not be wholly congenial. But from the moment Mr. Calvert presented himself to me in Philadelphia, on the eve of our sailing, until now, I can truly say I have enjoyed every instant of his companionship. I had heard something of him–much, indeed–from General Washington and Mr. Hamilton, but I was wholly unprepared to find so sincere, so intelligent a young gentleman. There is a strength, a fine reserve about him which appeals greatly to me.”
“I thank you,” said Mr. Jefferson, gratefully. “I love him as though he were my son, and any praise of him is dear to me. Do you wonder that I want him near me? Besides, ’tis imperative that I have a private secretary. Mr. Short, our secretary of Legation, who is now in Italy travelling for his health, like myself, is overworked; there are a thousand affairs to be attended to each day, and so little method in our arrangements as yet; our instructions and remittances from Congress are so irregular, our duties so confounded with mere courtesies, that we make but little progress. Besides which the state of affairs in this country renders all diplomatic and business relations very slow and uncertain–I might say hazardous–” He stopped and looked thoughtfully into the fire.
“I am sorry to hear that,” said Mr. Morris, quickly. “I came over on business myself. And on business not only for myself, but on behalf of Mr. Robert Morris and of Constable & Co., of New York City. As you probably know, we have made large shipments of tobacco, contracted for by several farmers-general, but such has been the delay in delivery and payment after reaching this country that we deemed it absolutely necessary to have someone over here to attend to the matter. At Havre I found affairs irregular and prices low and fluctuating. I was hoping the markets would be steadier and quieter in Paris.”
“I am afraid you will not find it so,” replied Mr. Jefferson, shaking his head. “I am persuaded that this country is on the eve of some great change–some great upheaval. I see it in the faces of those I meet in the salons of the rich and noble; I see it in the faces of the common people in the streets–above all, I see it in the faces of the people in the streets.”
Again he stopped and looked thoughtfully into the blazing fire. Mr. Morris’s keen eyes fastened themselves on the finely chiselled face opposite him, aglow with a prophetic light. “I would be obliged,” he said at length, “if you would give me some detailed account of the state of this government and country. I should like to know just where I stand. At the distance of three thousand miles, and with slow and irregular packets as the only means of communication, we in America have but an imperfect and tardy conception of what is going on in this country.” He poured out a small glass of cognac from a decanter which stood on a table at his elbow, and, settling himself comfortably in his chair, prepared to listen.
It was a long story that Mr. Jefferson had to tell him–a story with many minute details touching the delicate relations between France and America, with many explanations of the events which had just taken place in Paris and the provinces, with many forecastings of events shortly to take place in the kingdom of Louis XVI. Perhaps it was in the forecasting of those events so soon to take place, of those acts of the multitude, as yet undreamed of by the very doers of them, that Mr. Jefferson most deeply impressed his listener. For there was no attribute of Mr. Jefferson’s mind so keen, so unerring, so forceful as that peculiar power of divining the drift of the masses. It was this power which later made him so greatly feared and greatly respected in his own land. Forewarned and forearmed, he had but to range himself at the head of multitudes, whose will he knew almost before they were aware of it themselves, or else to stand aside, and, unscathed, let it pass him by in all its turbulence and strength. But though he could foresee the trend of events, his judgment was not infallible as to their values and consequences. Even as he spoke of the disquieting progress of affairs, even as he predicted the yet more serious turn they were to take, his countenance expressed a boundless, if somewhat vaguely defined, belief and happiness in the future.
The glow of enthusiasm was not at all reflected in the keen, attentive face of the younger man opposite him, whose look of growing disquietude betrayed the fact that he did not share Mr. Jefferson’s hopes or sympathies. Indeed, it was inevitable that these two men of genius should hold dissimilar views about the struggle which the one had so clearly divined was to come and of which the other so clearly comprehended the consequences. It was inevitable that the man who had the sublime audacity to proclaim unfettered liberty and equality to a new world should differ radically from the man whose supreme achievement had been the fashioning and welding of its laws. They talked together until the wintry sun suddenly suffered an eclipse behind the mountains of gray clouds which had been threatening to fall upon it all the afternoon, and only the light from the crackling logs remained to show the bright enthusiasm of Mr. Jefferson’s noble face and the sombre shadow upon Mr. Morris’s disturbed one.
THE FRANCE OF 1789
France was sick. A great change and fever had fallen upon her, and there was no physician near skilled enough to cure her. Now and then one of her sons would look upon the pale, wasted features and note the rapidly throbbing pulse, the wild ravings of the disordered brain, and, frightened and despondent, would hurry away to consult with his brothers what should be done. But never to any good. Medicines were tried which had been potent with others in like sickness, but they seemed only to increase her delirium or lessen her vitality–never to bring her strength and reason. Day by day she grew worse. ‘Twas as if some quick poison were working in her veins, until at last the poor body was one mass of swollen disfigurements, of putrid sores, that only a miracle from Heaven could heal. As miracles could not be looked for, everyone who had any skill in such desperate cases was called, and a thousand different opinions were given, a thousand different cures tried. And when all was seen to have been in vain, her tortured children, in their despair, left her and turned upon the false physicians, putting them to death and with ferocious joy avenging her agonies. And in the quiet which thus fell upon her, when all had left her to die, the fever and pain vanished; from her opened veins the poisoned blood dropped away; to the blinded eyes sight returned; in the distracted brain reason once more held sway. Slowly and faintly she arose and went about her business.
It was of that fast-sickening France, of that blighted land of France, that Mr. Jefferson spoke so earnestly in the gathering darkness of that winter’s day in the year 1789. The storm which had just swept over the American colonies had passed, leaving wrecks strewn from shore to shore, ’tis true, but a land fairer and greater than ever, a people tried by adversity and made strong. The tempest, which had been so gallantly withstood by our ably manned ship of state, had blown across the Atlantic and was beating upon the unprotected shores of France. The storm was gathering fast in that most famous year of 1789–the _alpha_ and _omega_ of French history, the ending of all things old, the beginning of all things new, for France. Two years before the bewildered Assemblee des Notables had met and had been dismissed to spread their agitation and disaffection throughout all France by the still more bewildered Lomenie de Brienne, who was trying his hand at the impossible finances of France after the fall of that magnificent spendthrift, Monsieur Colonne. He, in turn, had been swept from his office and replaced by the pompous and incompetent Necker. Lafayette, the _deus ex machina_ of the times, had asked for his States-General, and now in this never-sufficiently-to-be-remembered year of 1789 they were to be convoked.
All France was disquieted by the elections–nay, more, agitated and agitating. Men who had never thought before were thinking now, and, as was inevitable to such unused intellects, were thinking badly. For the first time the common people were permitted to think. For the first time they were allowed, even urged, to look into their wretched hearts and tell their lord and king what grievances they found there. What wonder that when the ashes were raked from the long-smouldering fires of envy, of injustice, of oppression, of extortion, of misrule of every conceivable sort, they sprang into fierce flame? What wonder that when the bonds of silence were loosed from their miserable mouths, such a wild clamor went up to Heaven as made the king tremble upon his throne and his ministers shake with fear? Who could tell at what moment this unlooked-for, unprecedented clemency might be withdrawn and silence once more be sealed upon them? What wonder, then, that they made the most of their opportunity? What wonder that, suddenly finding themselves strong, who had been weak, they _did_ make the most of it?
The world seemed topsy-turvy. Strange ideas and theories were being written and talked about. Physical science had been revolutionized. People suddenly discovered that what they had held all their lives to be facts were entire misconceptions of the truth. And, if they had been so mistaken about the facts of physical science, might they not be equally mistaken about theology, about law, about politics? Everywhere was doubt and questioning. Revolution was in the air. It was the fashion, and the young French officers returned from the War of Independence in the American colonies found themselves alike the heroes of the common people and of the fashionable world.
True to its nature, the nobility played with revolution as it had played with everything from the beginning of time. It played with reform, with suggestions to abandon its privileges, its titles, with the freedom of the newly born press, with the prerogatives of the crown, with the tiers etat, with life, liberty, and happiness. It was a dangerous game, and in the danger lay its fascination. Society felt its foundations shake, and the more insecure it felt itself to be the more feverish seemed its desire to enjoy life to the dregs, to seize upon that fleet-footed Pleasure who ever kept ahead of her pursuers. There was a constant succession of balls, dramatic fetes, dinner-parties, of official entertainments by the members of the diplomatic corps in this volcanic year of 1789. The ministers of Louis’s court, being at their wits’ end to know what was to be done to allay the disturbances, were of the mind that they could and would, at least, enjoy themselves. The King having always been at his wits’ end was not conscious of being in any unusual or dangerous position. As short-sighted mentally as he was physically, he saw in the popular excitement of the times nothing to dread. Conscious of his own good intentions toward his people, he saw nothing in their ever-increasing demands but evidences of a spirit of progress which he was the first to applaud. Unmindful of the fact that “the most dangerous moment for a bad government is the moment when it meddles with reform,” he yielded everything. The nobles, noting with bitterness his concessions to the tiers etat, told themselves that the King had abandoned them; the common people, suspicious and bewildered, told themselves that their King was but deceiving them. The King, informed of the hostile attitude of the nobility and the ingratitude of the masses, vacillated between his own generous impulses and the despotic demands of the court party. By the King’s weakness, more than by all else, were loosened the foundations of that throne of France, already tottering under its long-accumulated weight of injustice, of mad extravagance, of dissoluteness, of bloody crime.
Nature herself seemed to be in league with the discontent of the times. A long drouth in the summer, which had made the poor harvests poorer still, was followed by that famous winter of 1789–that winter of merciless, of unexampled, cold for France. And in the heat of that long summer and in the cold of that still longer winter, the storm gathered fast which was to rise higher and higher until it should beat upon the very throne itself, and all that was left of honor and justice in France should perish therein.
“THE LASS WITH THE DELICATE AIR”
It was to that unhappy land of France that Mr. Jefferson had come almost five years before on a mission for Congress. For some time it had been the most cherished design of that body of patriots to establish advantageous commercial treaties with the European powers, thereby securing to America not only material prosperity, but, more important still, forcing our recognition as a separate and independent power, and creating for the new confederation of states a place among the brotherhood of nations. Confident that Mr. Jefferson’s astuteness, erudition, and probity would make a powerful impression upon those whom it was so much to our interest to attach to us, Congress had, on the 7th day of May, 1784, appointed him Minister Plenipotentiary for the negotiation of foreign commercial treaties. Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams, his co-workers, were already eagerly awaiting him in Paris.
But, great as was Mr. Jefferson’s patriotic interest in the cause he was to represent at the court of Louis XVI., his exile from Monticello was very painful to him. The recent death of his wife there, and the youth of the two children he was to leave, bound him to the place. Having also very clearly in mind Mr. Jay’s and Dr. Franklin’s disappointments and bickerings in London in the same cause of commercial treaties, he looked forward with growing distaste to the difficulties and diplomatic struggles before him; for Mr. Jefferson was always more ready to lead than to combat. Perhaps, too, he did not relish the idea that although in his own country no one was more generally famed for talents and learning than himself, in Paris, amid that brilliant throng of _savants_ and courtiers, he would be but a simple Virginia gentleman without prestige or reputation. And, moreover, he feared that his plain, democratic manners and principles–which he scorned to alter for anyone–would be but ill-suited to the courtly life of Versailles. For it must be owned that Mr. Jefferson’s democracy, like his learning, was a trifle ostentatious, and became more so as he grew older. Surely, though, such blemishes are not incompatible with greatness of character, but only serve to make a great man more lovable and human. And as for Mr. Jefferson, if he had not been blessed with some such harmless frailties, he had seemed almost more than mortal with his great learning, his profound, if often impracticable, philosophy, and his deathless patriotism. Such as he was, Mr. Jefferson was greatly beloved, and many of his warmest friends and admirers foregathered at Monticello on the evening of the 23d of May, 1784, to bid him farewell ere he should set out the next day on his long journey to Boston, from which port he was to sail for France. As he stood on the north portico of Monticello, awaiting his guests and looking long and lovingly at the beautiful view of mountain and valley spread before him, he made a striking, not easily forgotten, picture. The head, lightly thrown back, with its wavy, sandy hair worn short, and the finely chiselled profile were cameo-like in their classical regularity. The lithe, meagre form, well dressed in blackcloth coat and knee breeches, white waistcoat and ruffles of finest linen, black silk stockings and silver-buckled shoes, was energetic, graceful, and well proportioned. With such a physique it was not wonderful that Mr. Jefferson was famous as shot, horseman, and athlete, even among such noted sportsmen as Virginia could boast of by the score in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Suddenly he lowered his head and, withdrawing his gaze from the mountains, looked about him with an impatient little sigh.
“I am a savage! Savage enough to prefer the woods and streams and independence of my Monticello to all the brilliant pleasures which Paris will offer me. I could find it in my heart to wish that Congress had never urged upon me this mission abroad. But I have always tried to serve my country at my country’s call, and I shall continue to serve her, though it take me from home and family and friends. Instead of repining at this exile to France–for how long I do not know–I should be thankful for this last beautiful evening at Monticello and for the friends who are come to bid me farewell. I wonder that the Marquis does not arrive. I have much of importance to discuss with him.”
Mr. Jefferson had no greater admirer than the Marquis de Lafayette, whose arrival he so impatiently awaited. He had affairs of weight to talk over with the young Frenchman–letters of introduction to statesmen with whom Lafayette was most intimate, notes on commercial affairs of France, messages to friends, drafts on bankers in Paris, and a host of details on the present state of politics in France with which he wished to become acquainted before presenting himself at the French court, and which Lafayette, but lately returned from France, could amply furnish him. And after business should have been finished, Mr. Jefferson was looking forward with keen delight to all that the observant, cultured young nobleman might have to tell him of the progress in the Parisian world of sciences, art, and music (for Mr. Jefferson was an amateur of music), and of those adventures which had attended his triumphal return to America. ‘Twas at General Washington’s invitation that Monsieur de Lafayette was re-visiting, after only three years’ absence, the greatful states where he had first, and so gloriously, embarked in the cause of liberty, and the warmth of his welcome at Mount Vernon–where indeed Mr. Jefferson’s note, inviting him to Monticello, reached him–would alone have repaid him for the long journey had all other honors been denied him. But his progress through the states had been one triumph, marked by lavish fetes and civic parades, not so magnificent, it is true, as those tendered him on his last visit to our country, but still forming an almost unparalleled tribute of affection and respect from a nation to an individual. Young men of the highest position and family attached themselves to his retinue and rode with him from city to city, leaving him only to be replaced by other friends and enthusiastic admirers. Even as Mr. Jefferson stood upon the portico of Monticello, Monsieur de Lafayette was approaching, with his escort, riding hard and joyfully in the gathering twilight to reach there in time to see his illustrious friend before he should set out for Boston.
In the meantime guests were arriving rapidly, horseback or in handsome, high-panelled coaches drawn by four horses (such as Colonel Cary of Ampthill boasted), and the negro grooms were busy stabling them. In the house servants were moving about, lighting the fragrant wax candles of myrtle-berry and seeing to the comfort of the guests. The narrow stairway could hardly accommodate the rustling, voluminous brocades that swept up and down them above the clicking, high-heeled shoes and dainty, silver-clocked stockings. But there was room for all in the beautiful octagonal hall, thirty feet square, and in the long saloon parlor, the cost of whose inlaid satin and rosewood floor had somewhat scandalized Mr. Jefferson’s less wealthy and less artistic neighbors.
It were hard indeed to get together a gathering of more beautiful women or more courtly, distinguished gentlemen than was assembled that evening at Monticello. Among the latter were many of those men who had helped to make America what she was; lawgivers, soldiers, tried statesmen who had been of that famous Congress of ’75, of which my Lord Chatham, in a burst of uncontrollable enthusiasm, had declared that “its members had never been excelled in solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion.”
The Virginia beauties, if less modish and extravagant, as a rule, than the belles of Philadelphia and New York, yielded to none in aristocratic loveliness and grace and dignity of bearing. In the eyes of Mr. Jefferson their very naturalness made them more attractive, and perhaps it was for her sweet freshness and shy beauty that he gave the palm of loveliness to Miss Molly Crenshawe, who had ridden over on a pillion behind her brother from her father’s neighboring estate of Edgemoor, attended by young Carter of Redlands, who was never far away from her if he could help it. A less partial judge than Mr. Jefferson, however, would have found it hard to decide that she was more lovely than her dearest friend, the bewitching Miss Peggy Gary, who had driven over early in the day from Ampthill with her father, Colonel Archibald Gary.
Talking and laughing, the two young girls rustled down the stairs and across the broad hall to the entrance of the saloon parlor, where Mr. Jefferson and his sister, the lovely widow Carr, were standing, greeting their guests. The courtesies which the young ladies swept their host and hostess were marvels of grace and dexterity, and were noted with approval by the young gentlemen who lined the walls or talked to the ladies already foregathered. Some of those same young gentlemen fairly rivalled the ladies in richness of attire, following the elaborate fashions of dress which General Washington had encouraged by his own example. For the most part they were the sons of wealthy farmers and planters, shorn perhaps of some of their pre-Revolutionary splendor, but still aristocrats in bearing and feeling; young sporting squires who indulged in cock-fighting and horse-racing; rising lawyers, orators, all bearing the marks of good birth and good breeding.
Among the crowd of gayly dressed young gentlemen was one who was especially noticeable. His handsome face wore a rather reckless, petulant expression, which, however, could not conceal a certain brightness and fire of genius that at moments eclipsed the irritable look and rendered his countenance unusually attractive. It was Gilbert Stuart, the young portrait painter, but recently returned from England, where he was famed both as artist and wit. It was even said by his admirers (and indeed Mr. Adams had but lately written it home from London) that there his fame and following were the equal of his master’s, Benjamin West’s, or even Sir Joshua Reynolds’s.
The scene in Mr. Jefferson’s drawing-room was becoming more and more animated. The guests had nearly all assembled and were thronging the parlor and great hall beneath the brilliant light of many candles. From the music-gallery overhead the sounds of flute and violin in tentative accord were beginning to be heard. The musicians were some of Mr. Jefferson’s slaves who had shown marked ability and whom he himself had instructed in the art. They had proved themselves apt pupils and could play excellently airs for the minuet and Virginia reel. Mr. Jefferson was never happier than when Monticello was thronged with gay dancers, nor was he an indifferent votary of Terpsichore himself. Indeed, many were the balls and assemblies he attended during his student days in Williamsburg, many the nights he danced away with “Belinda” and other fair ones. And so when the music for the irresistible Virginia reel struck up, Mr. Jefferson was first on the floor with Miss Molly Crenshawe. They were quickly followed by other couples, until the opposite lines of dancers extended half-way down the sides of the long drawing-room. Up and down they went to the gay music, under the bright light, misty with powder shaken from flying curls.
Suddenly, as Mr. Stuart was advancing with out-stretched hands to swing Miss Gary, there was a blare of horns and a chorus of “hellos” from without, mingled with the sound of horses galloping up the avenue. The dancers ceased their courtesying and stately step, the music stopped, and Mr. Jefferson hurried to the portico in time to greet the young Marquis de Lafayette and his escort as they flung themselves off their hot mounts. Every head was uncovered as the young Frenchman affectionately embraced Mr. Jefferson, and greetings and acclamations went up from the throng of guests as they appeared at the entrance.
‘Twas not wonderful that Mr. Jefferson, like General Washington, Colonel Hamilton, General Greene, and so many others of our distinguished patriots, was captivated by this young nobleman, and could the jealous ones who asserted that they were dazzled by his rank and awed and flattered into giving him more than he merited but have seen him in the first flush of his glory and young manhood they, too, would have found his charm irresistible. Indeed, to Mr. Jefferson he was always the hero, the man of genius and spotless patriotism, though many, in after years, grew to distrust his powers and motives.
As Monsieur de Lafayette stood there at the door of the drawing-room, smiling and bowing after his own graceful fashion, there was a bright daring, a gay gallantry in the expression of his youthful face–he was but six and twenty and major-general, diplomat, and friend of philosophers–that won all hearts; and though the countenance was not handsome, the broad, slightly receding forehead, straight nose, and delicate mouth and chin gave to it a very distinguished appearance. The three-cornered continental hat which he swept to the ground before the ladies disclosed a flaming red head, the hair slightly powdered and tied back with a black ribbon. His tall figure–he was of equal height with Mr. Jefferson, who was over six feet–was enveloped in a light riding-coat with short capes over the shoulders, which, when he threw it off, disclosed to view the uniform of a major-general of continental dragoons. Just behind him stood two of his suite, his young kinsman, the devil-may-care Vicomte de Beaufort, and the Vicomte d’Azay, a brave young French officer who had served with Beaufort under Rochambeau and had been present before Yorktown.
Mr. Jefferson advanced to the centre of the room with his guests.
“My friends,” he said, “this is one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. Monticello shelters for the first time-America’s illustrious ally and devoted soldier, the Marquis de Lafayette, and his fellow-countrymen and officers, Messieurs les Vicomtes de Beaufort and d’Azay. I salute them for you!” Turning, he embraced the three young men, and then, placing his hand on the Marquis’s arm, he led him to Mrs. Carr.
“Madame,” he said, “I leave the Marquis in your hands for the present.” He went back to the two young officers, and taking them each by an arm he led them about the room, introducing them to many, of the company. Finally, leaving them to the tender mercies of Miss Crenshawe and Miss Peggy Gary, he returned once more to look after the rest of Monsieur de Lafayette’s escort.
As he did so he noticed at the door two young men who were quietly making their way into the room. The elder–who might have been twenty-six or seven–was dark, with brilliant eyes and an alert, almost restless manner, while the younger, who was scarcely more than a boy, not over nineteen, was fair, with deep blue eyes, reflective and calm, and a quiet dignity and strength of manner that in some fashion was not unsuited to his youth. Both were slender, wellbuilt, and rather under than over middle height. Mr. Jefferson hastened to them and shook hands warmly with the elder gentleman.
“My dear Colonel Hamilton, this is an unexpected pleasure and honor. Welcome to Monticello!” and then turning to the youth and laying a hand affectionately on his shoulder, he cried, gayly:
“My dear Ned, when did you come and why have I not seen you before?”
“Sir,” replied the young man, respectfully, “we have but just arrived in Monsieur de Lafayette’s company, and, feeling myself at home, I stayed without a few moments to give some orders about the stabling of the horses. Colonel Hamilton was kind enough to remain with me. Will you pardon our delay and assurance?”
“My dear boy, as you well know, I am only too happy to have you look upon Monticello as your other home, and every servant and horse upon the place is at your disposal. But how did you two happen to fall in with the Marquis?”
“Both Colonel Hamilton and myself were passing a few days at Mount Vernon by invitation of General Washington, when news that the Marquis was coming reached him. The General insisted that we should remain to see Monsieur de Lafayette, so we were still at Mount Vernon when your note asking his attendance here was received by him. Sure of my old welcome at Monticello, I determined to accompany him on his journey. As for Colonel Hamilton, he is charged with important affairs for you, sir.”
“‘Tis an ill wind that blows nobody good, Colonel,” said Mr. Jefferson, smiling, “and I shall certainly not call even business an ill wind since it has blown you hither.”
“There is a better reason still, Mr. Jefferson,” replied Mr. Hamilton, “for I came on business of General Washington’s, and never yet blew ill wind from that quarter.”
“Then you are doubly welcome, my dear Colonel,” rejoined Mr. Jefferson, heartily.
“Thank you, Mr. Jefferson,” said Mr. Hamilton. “Besides the business I am charged with, which relates to the commercial treaties with Flanders, and which I hope to have the honor of discussing with you fully before your departure, I bear General Washington’s greetings and best wishes for your welfare and the success of your difficult mission. It would have given him the greatest pleasure to convey these in person, and, indeed, I think he would have been tempted to make the journey to Monticello himself to see you had he not expected a visit from Mr. Gouverneur Morris, who, I doubt not, is at Mount Vernon by this time.”
“Mr. Morris!” exclaimed Mr. Jefferson. “And what has brought Mr. Morris to Virginia?”
“General Washington’s invitation to discuss with him a plan to urge the necessity of a new convention upon Congress. They have been warm personal friends, as you doubtless know, ever since Mr. Morris visited the camp at Valley Forge, and later drafted such admirable plans for raising money to relieve the troops. General Washington feels affection for him as a friend and the greatest respect for him as a financier.”
“He is indeed the possessor of many and varied talents,” assented Mr. Jefferson, though without any, great show of enthusiasm. “Mr. Madison admires him, and was remarking but yesterday that ‘to the brilliancy of his genius is added what is too rare–a candid surrender of his opinions when the lights of discussion satisfied him.’ I own that the eulogy seems a trifle overdrawn to me. He is a thought too much the aristocrat and society man,” he added, coldly. “Have you ever seen him, Ned? No? He is a striking figure, especially since he had the vast misfortune some years ago to lose a leg in a runaway accident.”
“He consoles himself by saying he will be a steadier man with one than with two legs,” laughed Mr. Hamilton. “But, seriously, Ned,” he continued, turning to the younger man, “he has a magnificent mind and is a great financier.”
While he spoke, Mr. Jefferson smiled dubiously, for he considered Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Morris to be dangerously alike as financiers. As for the youth addressed, he listened with his customary quiet attention to the conversation, though he little dreamed how great his own interest in Mr. Morris was to be in after years and how closely they were to be bound together.
“But come, sirs,” suddenly exclaimed Mr. Jefferson, “our discussion of Mr. Morris’s good points must wait, for I see Mrs. Carr looking at you, Colonel. If you will pay your respects to her, I will be with you in a few moments. As for you, sir,” he went on, speaking to the youth he called Ned and regarded so affectionately, “you are but wasting your time. You should be talking with some of these pretty young women. Shall we say Miss Molly Crenshawe, who is certainly looking most beautiful this evening? or perhaps the dashing Miss Peggy?” He glanced keenly at the youth, who retained all his serene indifference of manner, only blushing slightly and shaking his head.
Mr. Jefferson laughed indulgently. “Ned, Ned, you were ever a shy youth, and I think time does nothing to help you. Tis a crime to be as indifferent to women as you are, and, I warn you, there will come a day when some woman will revenge herself upon you for the whole sex, and, when that happens, do not come to me for consolation!” He moved away, still laughing, and left the boy to pay his respects to Mrs. Carr, with whom he was a great favorite, as he was with all who knew him well. But he never had a large circle of friends. There were but few who ever really understood and thoroughly appreciated that noble character. It is the compensation of such natures that they are self-sufficing and are as indifferent of such recognition as they are superior to it.
As Mr. Jefferson passed down the room he was stopped by Mr. Gilbert Stuart, who touched him on the arm.
“Mr. Jefferson,” he exclaimed, in eager tones, “take pity on an exile just returned and tell me who your young friend is. I had thought Mr. Hamilton’s one of the finest faces I had ever seen until I set eyes on this young gentleman with him. And, indeed, I think they resemble one another vastly. Has our young West Indian at last found a relative? I hear he is but indifferently provided with that commodity. No? Well, I protest his young friend has the most charming countenance I have ever seen since I painted Mr. Grant in London.”
“Which portrait, Mr. Stuart, I hear is a masterpiece and has added enormously to your reputation.” Mr. Stuart bowed low at the compliment, well pleased that Mr. Jefferson should have heard so favorably of that wonderful picture of his which had set all London gossiping and had caused Mr. Benjamin West and Sir Joshua Reynolds (so ’twas said) some pangs of envy. “As for myself, however,” went on Mr. Jefferson, “I can scarcely credit that it is a greater piece of work than the portrait of General Washington which you have executed for the Marquis of Lansdowne at Mr. William Bingham’s request. I cannot express to you how greatly the replica of that picture pleases me. Its arrival here has been kept a profound secret from all save my sister, but I am getting as impatient as a child to show it to my guests, and can scarcely wait for the supper-hour to arrive.”
“I sincerely hope, sir, both as an artist and a friend, that the surprise you have planned will not turn into a disappointment. But you have not yet told me, Mr. Jefferson, who the interesting young gentleman is with Mrs. Carr.”
“That,” said Mr. Jefferson, looking kindly toward the youth beside his sister, “is young Calvert of Strathore, and a finer young gentleman does not live in Virginia–no, nor in any other state of this country,” he added, warmly. “He is of the famous Baltimore family, a direct descendant of Leonard Calvert, cadet brother of the second Lord Baltimore, and is the bearer of my Lord Baltimore’s name, Cecil Calvert, to which has been prefixed Edward, for his father. The family came to this country in 1644, I believe, and for several generations lived in the colony of Maryland, and have always been people of position and wealth. Ned’s father, however, had a serious disagreement with his family, because of his marriage with a lovely young Quakeress of Philadelphia, and finally broke off entirely from his people, renouncing even the long-cherished Catholic faith, and came to Virginia when their only child was about two years old. Mr. Calvert built a spacious, comfortable residence on the banks of the Potomac not far from Mr. Washington’s residence, calling it ‘Strathore,’ after the older Maryland place.”
“What a head!” murmured Mr. Stuart, looking at the young man. “What sincerity and quiet strength! But continue, I beg of you.”
“There is little to tell–some six years after removing to Virginia, Calvert’s father and mother both suddenly died, leaving the poor boy estranged from the only relatives he had in Maryland, but, fortunately, under the guardianship of General Washington, who has been all kindness toward him. Madame Washington would have taken him to Mount Vernon had it not been for the father’s wish that he should grow up on his own estate, alone save for the excellent tutors with whom he has always been provided. But he has ever been warmly welcomed at Mount Vernon on long visits there, and both General and Madame Washington have become greatly attached to him. It was through them I first knew and liked him, and he has passed many, I hope not unhappy, weeks at Monticello with me since. ‘Tis that curious and melancholy resemblance in their fate–both orphaned and solitary–which, I fancy, had much to do with the firm friendship that has sprung up between Colonel Hamilton and Calvert. But though in appearance and circumstance they resemble each other, in mental characteristics they are opposites. Calvert has none of Hamilton’s brilliancy of intellect and vividness of imagination” (for whatever their bitter disagreements were later, Mr. Jefferson, then and for many years afterward, was always ready to acknowledge and admire Hamilton’s superb genius), “but he is of a profound logical order of intelligence; he has good judgment and discretion, indomitable will power, and a nobility of aim and faithfulness of purpose that are as rare as they are admirable. I can conceive of no circumstances in which he might be placed where his reliability and firmness would prove inadequate to the occasion.”
“His face bears out what you tell me of him, Mr. Jefferson,” assented the young artist, who was regarding Calvert with increasing interest. “Tis a fine countenance, and I shall not be happy until I have transferred it to canvas. I shall have to beg a few sittings of Calvert of Strathore!”
Mr. Jefferson smiled. “I am afraid, Mr. Stuart, that you will find it difficult to persuade Ned that he has a ‘fine countenance’! He is the soul of modesty as he is the soul of truth and honor.” He stopped and looked affectionately at young Calvert, who was still beside Madame Carr, unconscious of the close scrutiny he was undergoing. “I hardly know how to describe him to you,” continued Mr. Jefferson, meditatively. “His is a noble and lovable character. I never look at him but these lines from Horace come to my mind–‘_Quam desederio sit pudor aut modus tam cari capitis’_! I can only say that had I been blessed with a son,” and he sighed as he spoke, “I would have wished him to be like Edward Calvert, and, believe me, ’tis not partiality that makes me speak of him in such fashion. General Washington and Colonel Hamilton and Monsieur de Lafayette, under whom he served at Yorktown, hold him as I do. Gentle and tractable as he is, the lad has plenty of spirit, and ran away from the College of New Jersey in 1780, where he had been matriculated but two months, and, presenting himself to his guardian and friend, General Washington, begged to be permitted to fight for his country. He was scarce fifteen, and Dr. Witherspoon, whom, as you doubtless know, our good friend Henry Laurens persuaded to leave Edinburgh to take charge of the College at Princeton, violently opposed his abandoning his studies, but the young man was determined, and was finally commissioned as an aide to General Lafayette. He was of particular service to both Lafayette and Rochambeau, as he understands and speaks the French language excellently, having studied it since childhood and speaking much with a French tutor whom he had for some years. He is to return to the College of Princeton in the fall of this year, and finish his studies. For though he will be nineteen years of age when he enters, yet such is his determination to get the college education which his service to his country interrupted, that he is resolved to recommence now at the age when most youths have finished their studies. And if at the end of his college course my duties still detain me abroad, ’tis my intention and dearest wish to have him come out to me, and I promise you he will make me as efficient a secretary as ever Hamilton made General Washington.”
“All that you tell me only increases my interest in the young gentleman, Mr. Jefferson,” said Stuart, “and I am more determined than ever to have him sit for me. I can see the picture,” he went on, eagerly–“the fine, youthful brow and wavy hair drawn loosely back and slightly powdered, the blue eyes, aquiline nose, and firm mouth–the chin is a trifle delicate but the jaw is square–” he was speaking half to himself, noting in artist fashion the salient points of a countenance at once attractive and handsome, not so much by reason of beautiful features as because of the expression which was at once youthful, serene, and noble. All these points were afterward portrayed by Mr. Stuart, though it was not until many years later that the picture was executed, Mr. Stuart being recalled almost immediately to London, where, indeed, Calvert finally sat to him. That likeness, done in the most admirable fashion, came later into the possession of one of Calvert’s dearest friends and greatest admirers, and was prized above most things by one who loved the original so deeply and so long.
“And he has other attractions,” said Mr. Jefferson, after a long pause, during which the two gentlemen regarded young Calvert, the artist absorbed in plans for his picture, Mr. Jefferson in affectionate thoughts of the young man so dear to his heart. “He has one of the clearest, freshest voices that you ever heard, Mr. Stuart; a voice that matches his face and makes one believe in youth and happiness and truth. Why should he not sing for us?” he exclaimed. “The dancing has ceased, I see. Come, I will ask him.”
Followed by Mr. Stuart, he went over to young Calvert, who was still standing sentinel beside Madame Carr, and clapped him affectionately on the shoulder.
“Ned, we demand a song! Come, no refusal, sir!” he exclaimed. “I shall send Caesar for my Amati and you must sing us something. Shall it be ‘The Lass with the Delicate Air’? That is my favorite, I think. ‘Tis, as you know, Mr. Stuart, by the late Dr. Arne, the prince of song-writers. Here, boy!” he said, turning to one of the small darkies standing about to snuff the candles, “tell Caesar to bring me ‘Pet.'”–for it was thus he called his violin, which had been saved by Caesar’s devotion and bravery when all else at Elk Hill was destroyed by order of my Lord Cornwallis. While this was going forward Calvert stood by silent, outwardly calm and unruffled, inwardly much perturbed. It was his pleasure and habit to sing for Mr. Jefferson or for General and Madame Washington, but it was something of an ordeal to sing before an audience. That quiet heroism, though, which was part of his character, and which made him accept tranquilly everything, from the most trifling inconvenience to the greatest trials, kept him from raising any objection.
As Mr. Jefferson drew his bow across his violin the company fell away from the centre of the room, leaving a clear space. Stepping forward he leaned over his beloved Amati and played the opening bars of Dr. Arne’s famous ballad, with its liquid phrases and quaint intervals of melody. At the first notes of the air Calvert stood beside him and lifted up his fresh young voice of thrilling sweetness. It was one of those naturally beautiful voices, which at this time and for many years longer had a charm that none could resist, and which helped, among other things, to earn for him the everlasting jealousy of that remarkable and versatile scoundrel, Monsieur le Baron de St. Aulaire.
“I protest, sir,” cried Mr. Gilbert from his place beside Miss Crenshawe, when the bow at last dropped from the quivering strings, “I protest I have not heard such music since St. George and Garat played and sang together in Paris!”
Monsieur de Lafayette laid his hand affectionately on Calvert’s shoulder. “Ah, Ned,” he said in his English with the strong accent, “that was sweet, but if I mistake me not, thy voice sounded even sweeter to my ears as thou sangst thy songs around the campfires at night after our long marches and counter-marches when we hung upon Cornwallis’s flank or raced toward Petersburg to beat Phillips! ‘Twas a very girl’s voice then, but it could make us forget fatigue and danger and homesickness!”
“I am glad to believe that I was of some service,” said Calvert. “I have often thought,” he went on, smiling a little, “that had I not been under the protection of General Washington I should never have been permitted to make the campaign.”
But the Marquis would have none of his modesty.
“No, no,” he cried, “thou knowest thou wert my favorite aide and served me faithfully and well. Dost thou not remember the many messages thou didst carry to General Rochambeau for me when we lay before Yorktown? And the friends thou hadst in his army? De Beaufort and d’Azay were among the best, is it not so? But what is this?” he inquired, suddenly, as he saw the middle of the long room cleared and a very army of slaves approaching bearing an immense table already laid with fine damask and silver.
“Madame Carr evidently thinks her guests are in need of refreshment after these wearying musical performances,” replied Calvert, laughing, “and as we are too numerous to be entertained in the dining-room, supper is to be served here. ‘Tis frequently Mr. Jefferson’s fashion when his company is large.”
With little formality the guests took their places at table, the ladies all being seated and many of the older gentlemen. The younger ones stood about and waited upon the ladies, contenting themselves by eating after they were served, as they hung over their chairs and conversed with them.
Calvert with Beaufort and d’Azay were busily occupied, the French officers devoting themselves to the wants of the beautiful Miss Peggy Gary and Miss Molly Crenshawe, Calvert gravely seeing that the elderly Mrs. Mason, mother of Mr. Jefferson’s great friend, Mr. George Mason, Mrs. Wythe, and other dowagers were bountifully supplied. It was like him to pass by the young beauties to attend upon those who had greater needs and less attractions. From his position behind the dowagers’ chairs he could catch bits of conversation from both ends of the table. Now it was Mr. Jefferson’s voice, rising above the noise, talk, and laughter, offering some excellent Madeira to his abstemious friend, Mr. Arkwright.
“I insist,” urged Mr. Jefferson, “for upon my word ’tis true, as someone has said, that water has tasted of sinners ever since the Flood!”
Now it was Mr. Madison who arose, glass in hand, to propose a toast to Mr. Jefferson.
It was not a very eloquent farewell, but, as he said, “the message comes from all hearts present, and the burden of it is a safe journey, great achievement, and a speedy return.”
When Mr. Jefferson rose to respond, then, indeed, was heard eloquence. Toward the close of his brief reply there was a note of sadness in it.
“I have ever held it the first duty of a patriot to submit himself to the commands of his country. My command has been to leave my country. I would that it had been otherwise–but my country before all! And should I be able to serve her in ever so little by going, no separation from all I love best, no loss of ease and quiet pleasures, will be too costly for me not to bear with resignation, nay, even with cheerfulness! I shall take with me one hostage to happiness–my daughter–and should my splendid exile to the greatest court of Europe be prolonged and my duties become too arduous, I shall send to these shores for one to aid me–one on whose fidelity and zeal I can rely–for my dear young friend–Calvert of Strathore.”
At this unexpected announcement Calvert started with surprise and pleasure, having heard nothing of Mr. Jefferson’s intention. “But why should I speak of my exile?” continued Mr. Jefferson. “Shall I not be among friends?” and he looked with affectionate regard toward the three young Frenchmen. “Shall I not be among friends, the truest and noblest that any country or any individual can boast? Your looks bespeak your answer! Friends, I ask you to drink to Monsieur le Marquis de Lafayette and to Messieurs de Beaufort and d’Azay!”
Amid the enthusiastic applause which followed, Lafayette was seen to rise and lift his hand for silence.
“Since the first day we set foot upon this great country,” he said, “we have received naught but kindness, aid, honors. How shall we thank you for that in a few words? We cannot, but we can make you a promise for our King, our country, and ourselves. ‘Tis this. Mr. Jefferson shall find a welcome and a home in France such as we have found here, an admiration, a respect, a love such as we cannot command. And should Mr. Calvert come also, he shall be as a brother to us! I drink to our happy reunion in France!”
“So you will come to France, too, Ned,” cried d’Azay to Calvert. “I shall claim you as my guest and take you down to our chateau of Azay-le-Roi and show you to my sister Adrienne as a great American savage!”
“You will be blessed if she looks at you out of mere curiosity if for naught else,” murmured Beaufort at Calvert’s ear, “for she is the prettiest little nun in all France. Show Calvert thy locket, Henri.”
Somewhat reluctantly d’Azay pulled forth a small ivory miniature in a gold case, and holding it well within the hollow of his hand, so that others might not see, he laid it before Calvert.
“Is she not a beauty?” demanded Beaufort, eagerly. “More beautiful, I think, than the lovely Miss Shippen of Philadelphia, or Miss Bingham, or any of your famous beauties, Calvert.”
It was indeed a beautiful face that Calvert gazed upon, a slender, oval face with violet eyes, shadowed by long, thick lashes; a straight nose with slightly distended nostrils, which, with the curling lips, gave a look of haughtiness to the countenance in spite of its youthfulness. A cloud of dusky hair framed the face, which, altogether, was still extremely immature and (as Calvert thought) capable of developing into noble loveliness or hardening into unpleasing though striking beauty.
Beaufort still hung over Calvert’s shoulder. “She is ‘The Lass with the Delicate Air’ whom you but just now sang of, Calvert,” he said, laughing softly. “I wonder who will ever be lucky enough to find a way to win this maid!”
As Calvert stood gazing in silent admiration at the miniature and but half-listening to Beaufort’s wild talk, Mr. Jefferson suddenly rose in his place.
“One more toast,” he said, in a loud voice–“a toast without which we cannot disperse. Ned, I call on you, who are his young favorite, for a toast to General Washington!”
There was a burst of applause at the name, and then Calvert rose. He was a gallant young figure as he stood there, his wine-glass uplifted and a serious expression on his boyish face.
“To the one,” he cried, after an instant’s hesitation, “whom we hold in our hearts to be the bravest of soldiers, the purest of patriots, and the wisest of men–General Washington!”
As he spoke the last words, Mr. Jefferson drew aside a heavy curtain which had hung across the wall behind his chair, and as the velvet fell apart a replica of the famous portrait of General Washington, which Mr. Stuart had but lately painted for the Marquis of Lansdowne, was revealed to the surprised and delighted guests. Amid a burst of patriotic enthusiasm everyone arose and, with glass upheld, saluted the great Hero, and then–and for the last time for many years–the Sage of Monticello.
AT THE PALAIS ROYAL
It was in pursuance of his favorite plan to make Calvert his secretary, should he be appointed Minister to the court of Louis XVI., that Mr. Jefferson wrote to the young man four years later, inviting him to come to France. This invitation was eagerly accepted, and it was thus that Mr. Calvert found himself in company with Beaufort at the American Legation in Paris on that February evening in the year 1789.
When the great doors of the Legation had shut upon the two young men, they found themselves under the marquise where Beaufort’s sleigh–a very elaborate and fantastic affair–awaited them. Covering themselves with the warm furs, they set off at a furious pace down the Champs Elysees to the Place Louis XV. It was both surprising and alarming to Calvert to note with what reckless rapidity Beaufort drove through the crowded boulevard, where pedestrians mingled perforce with carriages, sleighs, and chairs, there being no foot pavements, and with what smiling indifference he watched their efforts to get out of his horses’ way.
“‘Tis insufferable, my dear Calvert,” he said, when his progress was stopped entirely by a crowd of people, who poured out of a small street abutting upon the boulevard, “’tis insufferable that this rabble cannot make way for a gentleman’s carriage.”
“I should think the rabble would find it insufferable that a gentleman’s carriage should be driven so recklessly in this crowded thoroughfare, my dear Beaufort,” returned Calvert, quietly, looking intently at that same rabble as it edged and shuffled and slipped its way along into the great street. At Calvert’s remark, the young Frenchman shrugged his shoulders and shook his reins over his impatient horses until the chime of silver bells around their necks rang again. “As usual–in revolt against the powers that be,” he laughed.
Calvert leaned forward. “What is it?” he said. “There seems to be some commotion. They are carrying something.”
‘Twas as he had said. In the crowd of poor-looking people was a still closer knot of men, evidently carrying some heavy object.
“Qu’est ce qu’il y a, mon ami?” said Calvert, touching a man on the shoulder who had been pushed close to the sleigh. The man addressed looked around. He was poorly and thinly clothed, with only a ragged muffler knotted about his throat to keep off the stinging cold. From under his great shaggy eyebrows a pair of wild, sunken eyes gleamed ferociously, but there was a smile upon his lips.
“‘Tis nothing, M’sieur,” he said, nonchalantly. “‘Tis only a poor wretch who has died from the cold and they are taking him away. You see he could not get any charcoal this morning when he went to Monsieur Juigne. ‘Tis best so.” He turned away carelessly, and, forcing himself through the crowd, was soon lost to sight.
“There are many such,” said Beaufort, gloomily, in answer to Calvert’s look of inquiry. “What will you have? The winter has been one of unexampled, of never-ending cold. The government, the cures, the nobles have done much for the poor wretches, but it has been impossible to relieve the suffering. They have, at least, to be thankful that freezing is such an easy death, and when all is said, they are far better off dead than alive. But it is extremely disagreeable to see the shivering scarecrows on the streets, and they ought to be kept to the poorer quarters of the city.” He had thrown off his look of gloom and spoke carelessly, though with an effort, as he struck the horses, which started again down the great avenue.
Calvert looked for an instant at Beaufort. “‘Tis unlike you to speak so,” he said, at length. Indeed, ever since the young man had come into the breakfast-room at the Legation, Calvert had been puzzled by some strange difference in his former friend. It was not that the young Frenchman was so much more elaborately and exquisitely dressed than in the days when Calvert had known him in America, or that he was older or of more assurance of manner. There was some subtle change in his very nature, in the whole impression he gave out, or so it seemed to Calvert. There was an air of flippancy, of careless gayety, about Beaufort now very unlike the ingenuous candor, the boyish simplicity, of the Beaufort who had served as a volunteer under Rochambeau in the war of American independence.
“What will you have?” he asked again, nonchalantly. “Wait until you have been in Paris awhile and you will better understand our manner of speech. ‘Tis a strange enough jargon, God knows,” he said, laughing in a disquieted fashion. “And France is not America.”
“And though the cold is doubtless unfortunate for the poor, the rich have enjoyed the winter greatly. Why, I have not had such sport since d’Azay and I used to go skating on your Schuylkill!” He flicked the horses again. “And as for the ladies!–they crowd to the pieces d’eau in the royal gardens. Those that can’t skate are pushed about in chairs upon runners or drive all day in their sleighs. ‘Tis something new, and, you know, Folly must be ever amused.”
Even while he spoke numbers of elegantly mounted sleighs swept by, and to the fair occupants of many of them Beaufort bowed with easy grace. Here and there along the wide street great fires were burning, tended by cures in their long cassocks and crowded around by shivering men and women. The doors of the churches and hospitals stood open, and a continual stream of freezing wretches passed in to get warmed before proceeding on their way. Upon many houses were large signs bearing a notice to the effect that hot soup would be served free during certain hours, and a jostling, half-starved throng was standing at each door. There was a sort of terror of misery and despair over the whole scene, brilliant though it was, which affected Calvert painfully.
“Where are you going to take me?” he asked Beaufort, as the horses turned into the Place Louis XV.
“Where should I be taking you but to the incomparable Palais Royal, the capital of Paris as Paris is of France?” returned Beaufort, gayly. “‘Tis a Parisian’s first duty to a stranger. There you will see the world in little, hear all the latest news and the most scandalous gossip, find the best wines and coffee, read the latest pamphlets–and let me tell you, my dear Calvert, they come out daily by the dozens in these times–see the best-known men about town, and–but I forget. I am telling you of what the Palais Royal used to be. In these latter times it has changed greatly,” he spoke gloomily now. “‘Tis the gathering-place of Orleans men in these days, and they are fast turning into a Hell what was once very nearly an earthly Paradise!”
“You seem to know the place well,” said Mr. Calvert.
“No man of fashion but knows it,” returned Beaufort, “though I think ’twill soon be deserted by all of us who love the King.”
“You were not so fond of kings in America,” said Calvert, smiling a little.
“I was young and hot-headed then. No, no, Calvert, I have learned many things since Yorktown. Nor do I regret what I then did, but”–he paused an instant–“I see trouble ahead for my country and my class. Shall I not stick to my King and my order? There will be plenty who will desert both. ‘Tis not the fashion to be loyal now,” he went on, bitterly. “Even d’Azay hath changed. He, like Lafayette and your great friend Mr. Jefferson and so many others, is all for the common people. Perhaps I am but a feather-headed fool, but it seems to me a dangerous policy, and I think, with your Shakespeare, that perhaps ’twere better ‘to bear the ills we have’–how goes it? I can never remember verse.”
As he finished speaking, he reined in his horses sharply, and looking about him, Calvert perceived that they had stopped before a building whose massive exterior was most imposing. Alighting and throwing the reins to the groom, Beaufort led Calvert under the arcades of the Palais Royal and into the grand courtyard, where were such crowds and such babel of noises as greatly astonished the young American. Shops lined the sides of the vast building–shops of every variety, filled with every kind of luxury known to that luxurious age; cafes whose reputation had spread throughout Europe, swarming with people, all seemingly under the influence of some strange agitation; book-stalls teeming with brand-new publications and crowded with eager buyers; marionette shows; theatres; dancing-halls–all were there. Boys, bearing trays slung about their shoulders by leathern straps and heaped with little trick toys, moved continually among the throngs, hawking their wares and explaining the operation of them. Streams of people passed continually through the velvet curtains hung before Herr Curtius’s shop to see his marvellous waxworks within. Opposite this popular resort was the Theatre de Seraphim, famed for its “ombres chinoises,” and liberally patronized by the frequenters of the Palais Royal. A little farther along under the arcades was the stall where Mademoiselle la Pierre, the Prussian giantess, could be seen for a silver piece. Next to this place of amusement was a small salon containing a mechanical billiard-table, over which a billiard-ball, when adroitly struck, would roll, touching the door of a little gilded chateau and causing the images of celebrated personages to appear at each of the windows, to the huge delight of the easily amused crowds.
Cold as the afternoon was, the press of people was tremendous, and besides the numbers bent on amusement, throngs of men stood about under the wind-swept arcades, talking excitedly, some with frightened, furtive face and air, others boldly and recklessly.
As they passed along, Calvert noted with surprise that Beaufort seemed to have but few acquaintances among the crowds of gesticulating, excited men, and that the look of disquiet upon his face was intensifying each moment. When they reached the Cafe de l’Ecole, the storm burst.
“‘Tis an infernal shame,” he said, angrily, sinking into a chair at a small table, and pointing Calvert to the one opposite him, “’tis an infernal shame that this pleasure palace should be made the hotbed of political intrigue; that these brawling, demented demagogues should be allowed to rant and rave here to an excited mob; that these disloyal, seditious pamphlets should be distributed and read and discussed beneath the windows of the King’s own cousin! The King must be mad to permit this folly, which increases daily. Where will it end?” He looked at Calvert and clapped his hands together. A waiter came running up.
“What will you have, Calvert?–some of the best cognac and coffee?” he asked. “There is no better to be found in all France than here.”
“‘Twill suit me excellently,” said Calvert, absently, thinking more of what Beaufort had told him of the tendencies of the times than of the coffee and cognac of the Cafe de l’Ecole. As he spoke, the man, who had stood by passively awaiting his orders, suddenly started and looked at the young American attentively.
“But–pardon, Messieurs,” he stammered, “is it possible that I see Monsieur Calvert at Paris?” Beaufort looked up in astonishment at the servant who had so far forgotten himself as to address two gentlemen without permission, and Calvert, turning to the man and studying his face for an instant, suddenly seized him by the hand cordially, and exclaimed, “My good Bertrand, is it indeed you?”
“Ah! Monsieur–what happiness! I had never thought to see Monsieur again!”
“Then you were destined to be greatly mistaken, Bertrand,” returned Calvert, laughing, “for you are likely to see me often. I am to be here in Paris for an indefinite length of time, and as Monsieur de Beaufort tells me that the Cafe de l’Ecole surpasses all others, I shall be here very frequently.”
“And now,” broke in Beaufort, addressing the man, who still stood beaming with delight and surprise upon Calvert, “go and get us our coffee and cognac.” The man departed hastily and Beaufort turned to Calvert.
“Allow me to congratulate you upon finding an acquaintance in Paris so soon! May I ask who the gentleman is?”
“The gentleman was once a private in a company under Monsieur de Lafayette’s orders before Yorktown, and is my very good friend,” says Calvert, quietly, ignoring Beaufort’s somewhat disdainful raillery. What he did not tell Beaufort was that Private Bertrand owed his life and much material aid to himself, and that the man was profoundly devoted and grateful. In Calvert’s estimation it was but a simple service he had rendered the poor soldier–rescuing him from many dying and wounded comrades who had fallen in that first fierce onslaught upon the Yorktown redoubt. He had directed the surgeon to dress the man’s wounds–he had been knocked on the head with a musket–and had eased the poor wretch’s mind greatly by speaking to him in his own tongue, for most of the French soldiery under Rochambeau and Lafayette knew not a word of English. When Bertrand recovered, Calvert had sent him a small sum of money and a kind message, neither of which was the man likely to forget. Never, in the whole course of his pinched, oppressed young life in France, had kindness and consideration been shown him from those above him. Tyranny and abuse had been his lot and the lot of those all about him, and such a passionate devotion for the young American officer was kindled in his breast as would have greatly astonished its object had he known it. It was with an almost ludicrous air of solicitude that Bertrand placed the coffee before Calvert and poured out his cognac and then hung about, waiting anxiously for any sign or word from him.
“Is it not the best coffee in the world?” said Beaufort, sipping his complacently and looking about the crowded room for a familiar face. Apparently he found none, for, leaning across the table and speaking to Calvert quite loudly and in an insolent tone, he said, “‘Tis a good thing the coffee is of the best, or, my word of honor, I would not come to a place which gentlemen seem to have abandoned and to which canaille flock.” And with that he leaned back and looked about him with a fine nonchalance. There was a little murmur of suppressed ejaculations and menaces from those nearest who had heard his words, but it soon subsided at the sight of Monsieur de Beaufort’s handsome face and reckless air.
“There is also another charm about the Cafe de l’Ecole, my dear Calvert,” he said, speaking in a slightly lower tone and with an appreciative smile. “Monsieur Charpentier, our host, has a most undeniably pretty daughter. She is the caissiere, fortunately, and may be seen–and admired–at any time. We will see her as we go out. And speaking of beauties,” he continued, turning the stem of his wine-glass slowly around, “you have asked no word of Mademoiselle d’Azay–or, I should say, Madame la Marquise de St. Andre!”
“Ah!” said Calvert, politely, “is she married?”
“What a cold-blooded creature!” said Beaufort, laughing. “Let me tell you, Calvert, the marriage which you take so nonchalantly was the sensation of Paris. It was the talk of the town for weeks, and the strangest marriage–if marriage it can be called–ever heard of. ‘Tis now three years since Mademoiselle Adrienne d’Azay finished her studies at the Couvent de Marmoutier (’tis an old abbaye on the banks of the Loire, Calvert, near Azay-le-Roi, the chateau of the d’Azay family) and came to dazzle all Paris under the chaperonage of her great aunt, the old Duchesse d’Azay. As you have seen her portrait–and, I dare say, remember its smallest detail–I will spare you the recital of those charms which captivated half the young gentlemen of our world on her first appearance at court. She became the rage, and, before six months had passed, Madame d’Azay had arranged a marriage with the rich old St. Andre. She would sell her own soul for riches, Calvert; judge, therefore, how willingly she would sell her niece’s soul.” He paused an instant and tapped impatiently on the table for another glass of cognac.
“It was a great match, I suppose,” hazarded Calvert.
“Oh, yes; Monsieur de St. Andre was a man high in the confidence of both the King and Queen–and let me tell thee, ’tis no easy matter to please _both_ the King and Queen–and a man of rank and fortune. ‘Tis safe to say the Duchess was most concerned as to his fortune, which was enormous. He was a trifle old, however, for Mademoiselle d’Azay, he being near sixty-five, and she but eighteen.”
“Gracious Heaven!” ejaculated Calvert. “What a cruel wrong to so young a creature! What a marriage!”
“Upon my word, I believe only the recital of wrong has power to stir that cold American blood of thine,” said Beaufort, laughing again. “But do not excite yourself too much. After all ’twas scarcely a marriage, for, within an hour after the ceremony, the elderly bridegroom was alone in his travelling coach on his way to Madrid, sent thither at the instant and urgent command of the King on important private business connected with the Family Compact. From that journey he never returned alive, being attacked with a fatal fluxion of the lungs at a great public banquet given in his honor by Count Florida Blanca. His body was brought back to France, and his soi-disant widow mourned him decorously for a year. Since then she has been the gayest, as she is the fairest, creature in the great world of Paris.”
“Is she, indeed, so beautiful?” asked Calvert, indifferently.
“She is truly incomparable,” returned Beaufort, warmly. “And I promise thee, Ned,” he went on, in his reckless fashion, “that that cool head of thine and that stony heart–if thou hast a heart, which I scarce believe–will be stirred at sight of Madame de St. Andre, or I know not the power of a lovely face–and no man knows better the power of a lovely face than I, who am moved by every one I see!” he added, laughing ruefully. “Besides her beauty and her fortune, there is a wayward brilliancy about her, a piquant charm in her state of widowed maid, that makes her fairly irresistible. The Queen finds her charming and that Madame de Polignac is pleased to be jealous. ‘Tis even said that d’Artois and d’Orleans, those archenemies, agree only in finding her enchanting, and the rumor goes that ’twas d’Artois’s influence that sent the elderly husband off post-haste to Madrid. A score of gentlemen dangle after her constantly, though apparently there is no one she prefers–unless,” he hesitated, and Calvert noticed that he paled a little and spoke with an effort, “unless it be Monsieur le Baron de St. Aulaire.”
“And who is Monsieur de St. Aulaire?” inquired Calvert.
“A most charming man and consummate villain,” says Beaufort, with a gloomy smile. “The _fine fleur_ of our aristocracy, a maker of tender rhymes, a singer of tender songs, a good swordsman, a brilliant wit, a perfect courtier, a lucky gambler–in a word, just that fortunate combination of noble and ignoble qualities most likely to fascinate Madame de St. Andre,” and a shadow settled for a moment on the debonair face of Monsieur de Beaufort.
It did not need that shadow or that effort at light raillery to inform Calvert that Beaufort himself was an unsuccessful unit in the “score of gentlemen who dangled after” Madame de St. Andre, and he would have essayed to offer his friend some comfort had he known how. But the truth was that Calvert, never having experienced the anguish and delights of love, felt a natural hesitation in proffering either sympathy or advice to one so much wiser than himself.
While he was revolving some expression of interest (it was always his way to think well before speaking and to keep silent if his thoughts were not to his entire satisfaction), a sudden murmur, which rapidly developed into a deep roar as it drew nearer, was heard outside, and at the Cafe de l’Ecole the shouting ceased and one man’s voice, harsh, incisive, agitated, could be heard above all the others. Looking through the wide glass doors Calvert and Beaufort saw in the gathering dusk the possessor of that voice being raised hurriedly upon the shoulders of those who stood nearest him in the throng, and in that precarious position he remained for a few minutes haranguing the turbulent mass of people. Suddenly he sprang down, and, elbowing his way through the crowd, he entered the Cafe de l’Ecole, followed by as many as could squeeze themselves into the already crowded room.
“What is it?” Beaufort demanded, languidly, of Bertrand. The man, by tiptoeing, was trying to see over the heads of the smokers and drinkers, who had risen to their feet and were applauding the orator who had just entered.
“It is Monsieur Danton who is come in. He is making his way to the caisse, doubtless to speak with Madame, his wife. Evidently Monsieur has just addressed a throng in the Gardens.”
“Ah! then ’tis certainly time that we go, since Monsieur Danton invades the place. ‘Tis a poverty-stricken young lawyer from Arcis-sur-Aube, my dear Calvert,” said Beaufort, disdainfully, “who has but lately come to Paris and who, having no briefs to occupy his time, fills it to good advantage by wooing and marrying the pretty Charpentier. The pretty Charpentier has a pretty dot. I can’t show you the dot, but come with me and I will show you the beauty.”
He got up from the table followed by Calvert and, with his hand laid lightly on his silver dress sword, made his way easily through the surly crowd, who, seemingly impelled by some irresistible power and against their wish, opened a passage for him and the young stranger. As they drew near the comptoir, Calvert perceived for the first time, leaning against it, the man who had created such an excitement by his words and sudden entrance. He was a big, burly figure, with a head and face that had something of the bull in them. Indeed, they had come by that resemblance honestly, for a bull had tossed him, goring the lips and flattening the nose, and the marks were never to be effaced. Smallpox, too, had left its sign in the deeply scarred skin. Only the eyes remained to show one what might have been the original beauty of the face. They shone, brilliant and keen, from beneath great tufted eyebrows, above which waved a very lion’s mane of rough, dark hair.
“A face to be remembered, this Monsieur Danton’s,” said Calvert to himself. And, indeed, it was. Years afterward, when he saw it again and for the last time, every detail of that rugged countenance was as fresh in his memory as it was at that moment in the Cafe de l’Ecole. As for Danton, all unconscious of the young American’s scrutiny, his gaze was bent upon the pretty, vivacious little beauty who sat behind the caisse, and had so lately become Madame Danton. As he looked, the harsh features softened and a sentimental expression came into the keen eyes. “‘Tis the same conquered, slavish look the painter hath put into the lion’s face when Ariadne is by,” mused Calvert to himself.
Beaufort was counting out silver pieces slowly, and slowly dropping them on the caissiere’s desk. He looked at Calvert and nodded appreciatively, coolly toward Madame Danton.
“Quelle charmante tete,” he said, lightly, nonchalantly.
The burly figure leaning on the comptoir straightened up as if stung into action; the softened eyes kindled with speechless wrath and flamed into the imperturbable, debonair face of Monsieur de Beaufort. One of the silver pieces rolled upon the floor. Calvert stooped quickly for it. “Madame will permit me,” he said, courteously, and, lifting his hat, placed the coin upon the desk. Without another look or word he turned and, followed leisurely by Beaufort, made his way to the door.
“An insolent,” said Danton, savagely, to Madame, and gazing after Beaufort’s retreating back.
“Yes,” returned Madame, grinding her pretty teeth with rage–“Monsieur le Vicomte de Beaufort is an insolent–and not for the first time.”
“I shall remember Monsieur le Vicomte de Beaufort’s insolence as well as I shall remember the Englishman’s politeness.”
Bertrand edged nearer the herculean Monsieur Danton. “Pardon, M’sieur,” he commenced, nervously, “it is not an Englishman–it is an American–a young American officer–Monsieur Calvert–aide-decamp to Monsieur le Marquis de Lafayette, before Yorktown. A patriot of patriots, Messieurs,” he went on, turning to the listening throng about him; “a lover of freedom, a compassionate heart. He saved me from death, Messieurs, he gave me money, he sent me clothing, he saw that I was fed and cared for, Messieurs.” He told his story with many gesticulations and much emphasis, interrupted now and then by huzzas for the young American.
Calvert would have been vastly astonished to know that the lifting of his hat and his courteous tone had contrived to make a popular hero of him; as much astonished, perhaps, as Beaufort to know that his careless, impertinent compliment to Madame Danton’s charming head had sealed the fate of his own. But ’tis in this hap-hazard fashion that the destiny of mortals is decided. We are but the victims of chance or mischance. Of all vainglorious philosophies, that of predestination is the vainest.
Outside, the night had fallen, and the shops, arcades, and gardens of the Palais Royal were ablaze with innumerable candles and illuminated Chinese lanterns. Before the entrance Monsieur de Beaufort’s groom was walking his half-frozen and restless horses up and down the icy street.
Beaufort laid his hand on Calvert’s arm. “Come,” he said, gloomily, “the place is become insufferable. Let me take you back to the Legation.” Springing in he turned his horses’ heads once more toward the Place Louis XV. and the Champs Elysees, and, while he guided them through the crowded and badly lighted thoroughfare, Calvert had leisure to think upon the events of the last hour. It was with resentment and shame he reflected upon his friend’s airy insolence to the pretty caissiere of the Cafe de l’Ecole. That it should have been offered in her husband’s presence was a gratuitous aggravation of the offence. That it should have been offered her with such disdainful contempt for any objection on her part or her husband’s, with such easy assurance that there could be no objections on their part, was another gratuitous aggravation of the offence. In that noble insolence Calvert read a sign of the times more legible than the clearest writing in the pamphlets flooding the book-stalls of the Palais Royal.
THE PRIVATE SECRETARY
They drove in silence almost to the rue Neuve de Berry, Calvert musing on the strange glimpse he had had of life in Paris, Beaufort busy with his restless horses. At the grille of the Legation Calvert alighted and Beaufort bade him good-by, still with the gloomy, foreboding look on his handsome face.
When Calvert had mounted the great stairway, with the carved salamanders on the balustrade ever crawling their way up and down, he found Mr. Jefferson sitting alone before the bright fire in his library. As soon as he heard the young man’s step he looked up eagerly.
“At last!” he cried. “I was wishing that you would come in. Mr. Morris has just been despatched in my carriage to the rue Richelieu, and I was beginning to wonder what that wild Beaufort had done with you to keep you so late.”
“We are but just returned from a sight of the Palais Royal,” said Calvert, throwing off his great-coat and sitting down beside Mr. Jefferson, who rang for candles and a box of his Virginia tobacco. “And a strange enough sight it was–a turbulent crowd, and much political speaking from hoarse-throated giants held aloft on their friends’ shoulders.” “A strange enough place, indeed,” said Mr. Jefferson, shaking his head and smiling a little at Calvert’s wholesale description of it. “‘Tis the political centre of Paris, in fact, and though the crowds may be turbulent and the orators windy, yet ’tis there that the fruitful seed of the political harvest, which this great country will reap with such profit, is being sown. ‘Despise not the day of small things,'” he went on, cheerfully. “These rude, vehement orators, with their narrow, often erroneous, ideas, are nevertheless doing a good work. They are opening the minds of the ignorant, clearing a way for broader, higher ideals to lodge therein; they are the pioneers, in this hitherto undiscovered country for France, of civil liberty, and of freedom of thought and action.”
“And these vehement orators, with their often erroneous ideas–will they do no harm? Will these pioneers not lead their fellows astray in that undiscovered country?” suggested Calvert, not without a blush to think that he had the temerity to question the soundness of Mr. Jefferson’s views.
“Were we not inexperienced, hot-headed men who gathered in the Apollo room at the Raleigh to protest against the proceedings in Massachusetts? Were we not rash, windy orators in the House of Burgesses–nay, in Congress itself? Yet did we not accomplish great things–great good?” He laid his hand affectionately on the shoulder of the young man who remained silent, revolving many things, Aeneas-like, but too modest to oppose himself further to Mr. Jefferson.
“No, no, my boy,” continued Mr. Jefferson, after an instant’s silence, “do not believe that the awakening which made of us a great nation will not be equally glorious for France! And with such leaders as are hers, will she not march proudly and triumphantly forward to her day of glory? Will not a Lafayette do even more for his own country than ever he did for America? Even I have been able to help somewhat. ‘Tis true, as Minister from the United States of America, I cannot use my official influence, but surely as a patriot, as an American citizen who is profoundly, overwhelmingly grateful for the aid, the generosity, the friendship of this great country, I can give counsel, the results of our experience, a word of encouragement, of good cheer.”
He paused, his noble face alight with enthusiasm and emotion. Of all the fine traits of that fine character none was more strongly marked than that of gratitude. Never ashamed to show it, his only fear was that he might not prove grateful enough. Other Americans, of as great talents and colder hearts, could find it easy to believe that France had extended her aid to us for diplomatic purposes–to guard her own interests and humble her adversary, England–could look on with neutral eyes at her awful struggles, could keep America calmly aloof from all her entanglements. Not so Mr. Jefferson. Such a return for her services seemed to him but the acme of selfishness and ingratitude. It was not bad statesmanship that made him bear so long with the blunders, the impertinences, the fatuity of Monsieur Genet; it was the remembrance of all the benefits showered upon us by the country which that charlatan represented. Perhaps ’tis well that those who hold the welfare of a nation in their hands should, like the gods, feel neither fear, nor anger, nor love, nor hatred, nor gratitude–in a word, should be unmoved by forces that sway the common mortal, so that, free from all earthly claims, that nation soars away to dizzying heights of prosperity and power. _Pro bono publico_ is a wellnigh irresistible plea. But there are statesmen in whose code of morals national virtues are identical with personal virtues, national crimes with personal crimes. Such a one was Mr. Jefferson.
“No, no,” he went on, musingly, filling his long pipe with the mild, fragrant Virginia tobacco which had been shipped to him in the packet of two months back, “we must not forget our obligations. Would that we could pay some of the moneyed ones! The finances of this country are in a deplorable state and there are millions of indebtedness on account of our war. But if we cannot do that, we can, at least, give our moral aid to those who are trying to bring about great reforms in this kingdom–reforms which, I hope, will be carried through at the forthcoming States-General to be held in May. Already the elections are preparing, and some of our friends will undoubtedly represent their orders. D’Azay and Lafayette will assuredly be nominated from the noblesse.”
“General de Lafayette and d’Azay!” said Calvert. “I should like to see them again. The last time was at Monticello.”
“Yes, yes,” returned Mr. Jefferson, smiling at the pleasant recollection of that last evening in Virginia. “Lafayette is still in Auvergne, I believe, busy with his elections, so that I fear he will not be here tomorrow, the evening of the weekly Legation reception. But d’Azay will doubtless present himself, since Monsieur de Beaufort tells us he returns tomorrow. Indeed, he and his aunt, Madame la Duchesse d’Azay, and his sister, the lovely Madame de St. Andre, are among my stanchest friends in this great city and nearly always do me the honor to be my guests at the receptions and dinners I find it both so agreeable and necessary to give. I have already engaged Mr. Morris’s company for the evening. It will give me great pleasure to introduce two such Americans to the world of Paris,” and he laid his hand affectionately, in his customary fashion, on the young man’s shoulder.
As Mr. Jefferson had said, he entertained frequently, and ’twas a very brilliant society that gathered at least once a week in the salon of the minister from the young Republic, drawn thither by policy, curiosity, respect and admiration for Mr. Jefferson, a desire to consult him on the important topics of the hour, and a certain freedom from constraint–a feeling as of being on neutral ground. For already the salons of Paris were divided against themselves. No longer simply the gatherings of fashionable, of charming, of frivolous men and women, they had grown somewhat serious with the seriousness of the time. In the salon of Madame Necker gathered the solid supporters of the King, and, above all, the solid supporters of Monsieur Necker, who was at the height of his power and complacently ready to play the role of saviour to his country. At the Palais Royal crowded the queer followers of Monsieur le Duc d’Orleans, the enemies of the King. At the house of the beautiful Theroigne de Mericourt were to be found the men of the most advanced, the most revolutionary, ideas, the future murderers and despoilers of France. In the salon of the exquisite Madame de Sabran flocked all those young aristocrats, wits, sprigs of nobility, who believed in nothing in Heaven or earth save in the Old Order. There was the serious circle around Madame de Tesse, where new ideas were advanced and discussed, and there was the gay circle of Madame de Beauharnais, whose chief attractions were her delightful dinners, and who, the wits declared, had “intended to found a salon, but had only succeeded in starting a restaurant.” Besides these, there were a dozen other important centres representing as many different shades of political faith. But in the salon of the American Legation gathered the best of every following, for, although Mr. Jefferson’s democratic principles were, of course, well and widely known, yet was he so respected, his moderation and fairness so recognized, that all considered it an honor to be his friend and his presence a guarantee of amicable discussion and good-fellowship.
“I shall be very glad to meet your new friends, sir,” said Calvert, smiling back at Mr. Jefferson as that gentleman arose and stood with his back to the fire, his tall, thin figure silhouetted by the firelight on the wall (the candles were still unlit), his hands clasped lightly behind his back, as was his wont. “I had the pleasure of meeting an old one this afternoon.”
“Indeed,” said Mr. Jefferson, “and who was that?”
“A poor French private named Bertrand, who served in a company under General de Lafayette’s orders in the attack on Yorktown, and whom I had the occasion to know rather well. I fancy,” he went on, smiling a little at the recollection of Beaufort’s haughtiness, “that Beaufort was somewhat amazed at the cordiality of our meeting.”
“Beaufort!” ejaculated Mr. Jefferson, and a slight frown gathered on his forehead. “I fancy that Beaufort and his ilk will be amazed at many things shortly. Ned, I warn you to beware of him. He has changed greatly since the days when he fought so gallantly under Rochambeau in our great War of Independence. He has become an aristocrat of aristocrats, a popinjay, a silken dandy, like most of the young nobles at this court. He is high in the King’s favor and devoted to his cause. Though your friendships and opinions can have no official weight, as you are my private secretary, still ’twere well to be careful, to be as neutral as possible, to occasion no offence. And, indeed, Mr. Secretary,” he went on, shaking off his serious air and speaking in a lighter tone, “I should be instructing you in your duties, explaining the diplomatic situation to you, instead of discussing foolish young noblemen like Monsieur de Beaufort.”
“I shall remember your advice, Mr. Jefferson,” said Calvert, quietly, “and I am ready for any instructions and duties.”
“After all, ’twill be unwise to begin them this evening,” returned Mr. Jefferson, shaking his head. “You are doubtless wearied with your journey, and we had better postpone your induction into office until to-morrow, when we can take the whole day for business. You can have no idea, my dear Ned, of the numberless affairs put into our hands,” he went on, with a note of anxiety in his voice, “or with what difficulty many of them are arranged. The constant change of ministers is most disconcerting among the many disconcerting factors of official existence here, and just now I am harassed by my non-success in getting from Congress an appropriation to pay bills for medals and for the redemption of our captives. It seems that the interest on the Dutch loans until 1790 must be paid before other claims, which leaves but a small chance for those bills to be liquidated. By the way, to-morrow you must write me a letter to Monsieur de Villedeuil a propos of a Mr. Nesbit and his debts–an affair lately put into our care. But there! no business this evening. ‘Tis but a short while before dinner, which you and I will take quite alone this evening, Ned, and you must tell me of yourself and what you have been doing all these years at the College of Princeton.”
Mr. Jefferson looked at the young man before him with such affectionate interest that Calvert, though he was the least talkative or egotistic of mortals, found himself telling of his college life, the vacations at Strathore, and his visits to Philadelphia and New York.
Now and then one sees a person in the _mezzo cammin_ of his years so happily constituted by nature as to attract and be attracted by youth. He seems to hold some fortunate, ever-youthful principle of life denied to the rest of us. It was so with Mr. Jefferson. Statesman, philosopher, scientist himself, he yet numbered the young and inexperienced among his many friends, and not one of them held so warm a place in his affections as young Calvert of Strathore. He had received from Dr. Witherspoon the accounts of his career at college, where, although never greatly popular, he had won his way by his quiet self-reliance, entire sincerity, and the accuracy and solidity of his mind rather than by any brilliancy of intellect. These sterling gifts had first attracted Mr. Jefferson’s notice and excited his admiration and affection. The lonely condition of the young man, too, though borne by him in that uncomplaining fashion characteristic of him, touched Mr. Jefferson, the more, perhaps, for the very silence and stoicism with which ’twas supported. He was, therefore, greatly surprised when he heard Calvert allude to it for the first time on that winter’s afternoon. The young man had taken Mr. Jefferson’s place before the open fire and now stood leaning against the chimney-piece as he talked, while Mr. Jefferson, sitting beside the reading-table, drew deep whiffs of the fragrant tobacco from his long pipe and listened interestedly to what Calvert had to say, smiling now and then appreciatively. After a little the young man ceased to speak and stood gazing meditatively into the glowing logs.
“A word more, Mr. Jefferson,” he said, at length, still gazing into the gleaming embers. As he stood so, looking down into the fire, the flickering light leaped up and played upon his quiet face, upon the clean-cut lips, the firm jaw, the aquiline nose, the broad, smooth brow, from which the dark-brown hair, unpowdered, waved back, tied at the neck with a black ribbon whose ends fell down upon the broad young shoulders. Perhaps it was the changing light, or perhaps it was the shadow from his uplifted hand on which he lightly leaned his head, that made his eyes seem dark and troubled, and quite unlike their usual serene selves. As Mr. Jefferson looked at the young man an uneasy thought took shape in his mind that that face’s cheerful expression had altered since it had entered his doors, that the shadow of a change had somehow come upon it.
“A word more,” said Calvert again, resting his foot upon one of the burnished andirons, and removing his gaze from the flickering fire to Mr. Jefferson’s attentive face. “I believe that not in my letters, and assuredly not since getting here, have I thanked you gratefully enough for summoning me to you. ‘Tis such an honor and a pleasure to be with you, to work for you, that I cannot express myself as I would like, sir. Indeed, I have long years of kindnesses, of interest, of affectionate concern for my welfare, to thank you for. I do not think you can ever know what all that means to one so entirely alone as I am and have been almost since I could remember. ‘Tis only in the last few years,” he went on, hurriedly, and lowering his hand still more over his serious eyes, “that I have entirely realized what it is to be without kindred. I have to thank you and a few other kind friends that the knowledge has been so long withheld from me.”
Mr. Jefferson looked at the young figure, with its unusual air of sadness, bending over the firelight. Rising, he went over to him and laid his hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“There can be no question of thanks between us, Ned,” he said at length, simply. “I love you as though you were my son, and it is the greatest pleasure to have you with me.” And, indeed, it seemed so and as if he could not do enough for his young secretary. And that night, when the quiet dinner was over and they were ready to retire, he himself lighted Calvert to his bed-chamber and left him with such an affectionate good-night that the young man felt happier and more at home in that strange house in Paris than though he had been at Strathore itself, with no three thousand miles of vexed ocean between himself and Virginia.
MR. CALVERT MEETS OLD AND NEW FRIENDS
The day after Calvert’s arrival was a long and busy one for him. He was closeted from morning until night with Mr. Jefferson, who explained to him the many private affairs awaiting transaction, as well as much of the important official business of the Legation. It was also necessary that he should be thoroughly au courant with the political outlook of the times and the entire state of European affairs, and in those shifting, troublesome days it was no easy matter to thoroughly understand the drift of events. Russia was the cynosure of all eyes at that moment, and on her throne sat the most ambitious, the most daring, the most brilliant, and the most successful queen the world has ever seen. Catharine’s designs upon Turkey, in which she was abetted by Austria’s Emperor, Joseph, threatened to disrupt Europe and caused Chatham’s son to look with anxious eyes toward the East, while strengthening his hold in Holland. Poland, desperate, and struggling vainly to keep her place among European nations, was but a plaything in the hands of the Empress, aided by Prussia, who realized only too well that her own prosperity demanded the destruction of the weaker state. In the North, Gustavus ruled in isolated splendor, now lending his aid to some one of the warring continental powers, now arraying himself against the combatants to preserve some semblance of a balance of power.
Calvert threw himself with enthusiasm into his work, delighted to be able to lighten the immense labors of Mr. Jefferson (who, to tell the truth, was always overworked and underpaid), and happy to think he was of service to one who had always shown such kindness to him. So interested and energetic was the young man that Mr. Jefferson had much difficulty in getting him to lay aside his papers and make himself ready for the reception of the evening. Indeed, when, after dressing quickly, he descended to the great drawing-room, which looked quite splendid, with its multitude of wax lights and gilded mirrors, he found it already filled with a company more splendid than any he had ever before seen. As he approached, he noticed that Mr. Jefferson was conversing with a large gentleman of pompous appearance, to whom he had just presented Mr. Morris, and to whom he presented Calvert in turn as “Monsieur Necker.” ‘Twas with a good deal of curiosity and disappointment that Calvert saw for the first time the Minister of Finance, the greatest power for the moment in France. He was a large, heavy man, whose countenance, with its high, retreating forehead, chin of unusual length, vivid brown eyes and elevated eyebrows, was intelligent, but did not even hint at genius. There was about him an air of fatigue and laboriousness which suggested the hard-working and successful business man rather than a great statesman and financier, and the courtly richness of his embroidered velvet dress suited ill his commonplace figure. In his whole personality Calvert decided there was no suggestion of that nobility of mind and nature which so distinguished Mr. Jefferson, nor of that keen mentality and easy elegance of manner so characteristic of Mr. Gouverneur Morris.
“His looks seem to say, ‘I am the man,'” whispered that gentleman to Calvert as Monsieur Necker turned aside for an instant to speak with Mr. Jefferson, and Calvert could not help smiling at the humorous and swift summing-up of the Minister’s character and the merry twinkle in Mr. Morris’s eye. But whatever their opinion of his talents, Monsieur Necker’s cordiality was above reproach, and it was with elaborate politeness that he presented the Americans to Madame Necker. She was a very handsome woman still, retaining traces of that beauty which had fired Gibbon in his youth, and was all amiability to the two strangers, whom she introduced to her daughter, Madame la Baronne de Stael-Holstein, wife of the ambassador from Gustavus III. to the court of Louis XVI.
Madame de Stael stood with her back to the open fire, her hands clasped