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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:07:23
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He will be at Roncq time enough to lick my Lord Duke’s trenchers at supper,” says Mr. Webb.

There was scarce a score of persons in the Cathedral beside the Dean and some of his clergy, and the choristers, young and old, that performed the beautiful evening prayer. But Mr. Tusher was one of the officiants, and read from the eagle in an authoritative voice, and a great black periwig; and in the stalls, still in her black widow’s hood, sat Esmond’s dear mistress, her son by her side, very much grown, and indeed a noble-looking youth, with his mother’s eyes, and his father’s curling brown hair, that fell over his point de Venise — a pretty picture such as Van Dyck might have painted. Mons. Rigaud’s portrait of my Lord Viscount, done at Paris afterwards, gives but a French version of his manly, frank, English face. When he looked up there were two sapphire beams out of his eyes such as no painter’s palette has the color to match, I think. On this day there was not much chance of seeing that particular beauty of my young lord’s countenance; for the truth is, he kept his eyes shut for the most part, and, the anthem being rather long, was asleep.

A taller man, Cousin Esmond!” says she. A man of spirit would have sealed the wall, sir, and seized them! A man of courage would have fought for ’em, not gaped for ’em.”

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

No dinner! poor dear child!” says my lady, heaping up his plate with meat, and my lord, filling a bumper for him, bade him call a health; on which Master Harry, crying The King,” tossed off the wine. My lord was ready to drink that, and most other toasts: indeed only too ready. He would not hear of Doctor Tusher (the Vicar of Castlewood, who came to supper) going away when the sweetmeats were brought: he had not had a chaplain long enough, he said, to be tired of him: so his reverence kept my lord company for some hours over a pipe and a punch-bowl; and went away home with rather a reeling gait, and declaring a dozen of times, that his lordship’s affability surpassed every kindness he had ever had from his lordship’s gracious family.

Having his own forebodings regarding his scheme should it ever be fulfilled, and his usual sceptic doubts as to the benefit which might accrue to the country by bringing a tipsy young monarch back to it, Colonel Esmond had his audience of leave and quiet. Monsieur Simon took his departure. At any rate the youth at Bar was as good as the older Pretender at Hanover; if the worst came to the worst, the Englishman could be dealt with as easy as the German. Monsieur Simon trotted on that long journey from Nancy to Paris, and saw that famous town, stealthily and like a spy, as in truth he was; and where, sure, more magnificence and more misery is heaped together, more rags and lace, more filth and gilding, than in any city in this world. Here he was put in communication with the King’s best friend, his half brother, the famous Duke of Berwick; Esmond recognized him as the stranger who had visited Castlewood now near twenty years ago. His Grace opened to him when he found that Mr. Esmond was one of Webb’s brave regiment, that had once been his Grace’s own. He was the sword and buckler indeed of the Stuart cause: there was no stain on his shield except the bar across it, which Marlborough’s sister left him. Had Berwick been his father’s heir, James the Third had assuredly sat on the English throne. He could dare, endure, strike, speak, be silent. The fire and genius, perhaps, he had not (that were given to baser men), but except these he had some of the best qualities of a leader. His Grace knew Esmond’s father and history; and hinted at the latter in such a way as made the Colonel to think he was aware of the particulars of that story. But Esmond did not choose to enter on it, nor did the Duke press him. Mr. Esmond said, No doubt he should come by his name if ever greater people came by theirs.”

She was the darling and torment of father and mother. She intrigued with each secretly; and bestowed her fondness and withdrew it, plied them with tears, smiles, kisses, cajolements;— when the mother was angry, as happened often, flew to the father, and sheltering behind him, pursued her victim; when both were displeased, transferred her caresses to the domestics, or watched until she could win back her parents’ good graces, either by surprising them into laughter and good-humor, or appeasing them by submission and artful humility. She was saevo laeta negotio, like that fickle goddess Horace describes, and of whose malicious joy” a great poet of our own has written so nobly — who, famous and heroic as he was, was not strong enough to resist the torture of women.

No doubt, as a kinsman of the house, Mr. Esmond thought fit to be the last of all in it; he remained after the coaches had rolled away — after his dowager aunt’s chair and flambeaux had marched off in the darkness towards Chelsey, and the town’s people had gone to bed, who had been drawn into the square to gape at the unusual assemblage of chairs and chariots, lackeys, and torchmen. The poor mean wretch lingered yet for a few minutes, to see whether the girl would vouchsafe him a smile, or a parting word of consolation. But her enthusiasm of the morning was quite died out, or she chose to be in a different mood. She fell to joking about the dowdy appearance of Lady Betty, and mimicked the vulgarity of Mrs. Steele; and then she put up her little hand to her mouth and yawned, lighted a taper, and shrugged her shoulders, and dropping Mr. Esmond a saucy curtsy, sailed off to bed.


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