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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:28:47
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Meanwhile there was no slight difference of opinion amongst the councillors surrounding the Prince, as to the plan his Highness should pursue. His female Minister at Court, fancying she saw some amelioration in the Queen, was for waiting a few days, or hours it might be, until he could be brought to her bedside, and acknowledged as her heir. Mr. Esmond was for having him march thither, escorted by a couple of troops of Horse Guards, and openly presenting himself to the Council. During the whole of the night of the 29th-30th July, the Colonel was engaged with gentlemen of the military profession, whom ’tis needless here to name; suffice it to say that several of them had exceeding high rank in the army, and one of them in especial was a General, who, when he heard the Duke of Marlborough was coming on the other side, waved his crutch over his head with a huzzah, at the idea that he should march out and engage him. Of the three Secretaries of State, we knew that one was devoted to us. The Governor of the Tower was ours; the two companies on duty at Kensington barrack were safe; and we had intelligence, very speedy and accurate, of all that took place at the Palace within.

The company in the servants’ hall never for a moment supposed that these preparations were made for any other person than the young viscount, the lord of the house, whom his fond mother had been for so many years without seeing. Both ladies were perfect housewives, having the greatest skill in the making of confections, scented waters, &c., and keeping a notable superintendence over the kitchen. Calves enough were killed to feed an army of prodigal sons, Esmond thought, and laughed when he came to wait on the ladies, on the day when the guests were to arrive, to find two pairs of the finest and roundest arms to be seen in England (my Lady Castlewood was remarkable for this beauty of her person), covered with flour up above the elbows, and preparing paste, and turning rolling-pins in the housekeeper’s closet. The guest would not arrive till supper-time, and my lord would prefer having that meal in his own chamber. You may be sure the brightest plate of the house was laid out there, and can understand why it was that the ladies insisted that they alone would wait upon the young chief of the family.

When is it, sir?” says Harry, for he saw that the matter had been arranged privately and beforehand by my lord.

At least, ever since he had learned that secret from his poor patron on his dying bed, actually as he was standing beside it, he had felt an independency which he had never known before, and which since did not desert him. So he called his old aunt Marchioness, but with an air as if he was the Marquis of Esmond who so addressed her.

Bolingbroke always spoke freely when he had drunk freely. His enemies could get any secret out of him in that condition; women were even employed to ply him, and take his words down. I have heard that my Lord Stair, three years after, when the Secretary fled to France and became the Pretender’s Minister, got all the information he wanted by putting female spies over St. John in his cups. He spoke freely now:—Jonathan knows nothing of this for certain, though he suspects it, and by George, Webb will take an Archbishopric, and Jonathan a — no,— damme — Jonathan will take an Arch-bishopric from James, I warrant me, gladly enough. Your Duke hath the string of the whole matter in his hand,” the Secretary went on. We have that which will force Marlborough to keep his distance, and he goes out of London in a fortnight. Prior hath his business; he left me this morning, and mark me, Harry, should fate carry off our august, our beloved, our most gouty and plethoric Queen, and Defender of the Faith, la bonne cause triomphera. A la sante de la bonne cause! Everything good comes from France. Wine comes from France; give us another bumper to the bonne cause.” We drank it together.

When she was gone, my lady looked so sad and grave, that Harry asked the cause of her disquietude. She said it was not merely what he said of Newmarket, but what she had remarked, with great anxiety and terror, that my lord, ever since his acquaintance with the Lord Mohun especially, had recurred to his fondness for play, which he had renounced since his marriage.

But, as a prodigal that’s sending in a schedule of his debts to his friends, never puts all down, and, you may be sure, the rogue keeps back some immense swingeing bill, that he doesn’t dare to own; so the poor Frank had a very heavy piece of news to break to his mother, and which he hadn’t the courage to introduce into his first confession. Some misgivings Esmond might have, upon receiving Frank’s letter, and knowing into what hands the boy had fallen; but whatever these misgivings were, he kept them to himself, not caring to trouble his mistress with any fears that might be groundless.

So it was, however, that a young gentleman, who, in the eyes of his family, and in his own, doubtless, was looked upon as a consummate hero, found that the great hero of the day took no more notice of him than of the smallest drummer in his Grace’s army. The Dowager at Chelsey was furious against this neglect of her family, and had a great battle with Lady Marlborough (as Lady Castlewood insisted on calling the Duchess). Her Grace was now Mistress of the Robes to her Majesty, and one of the greatest personages in this kingdom, as her husband was in all Europe, and the battle between the two ladies took place in the Queen’s drawing-room.


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