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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 20:03:13
Typefacelarge in Small
And so Nancy was gone; and Harry Esmond blushed that he had not a single tear for her, and fell to composing an elegy in Latin verses over the rustic little beauty. He bade the dryads mourn and the river-nymphs deplore her. As her father followed the calling of Vulcan, he said that surely she was like a daughter of Venus, though Sievewright’s wife was an ugly shrew, as he remembered to have heard afterwards. He made a long face, but, in truth, felt scarcely more sorrowful than a mute at a funeral. These first passions of men and women are mostly abortive; and are dead almost before they are born. Esmond could repeat, to his last day, some of the doggerel lines in which his muse bewailed his pretty lass; not without shame to remember how bad the verses were, and how good he thought them; how false the grief, and yet how he was rather proud of it. ’Tis an error, surely, to talk of the simplicity of youth. I think no persons are more hypocritical, and have a more affected behavior to one another, than the young. They deceive themselves and each other with artifices that do not impose upon men of the world; and so we get to understand truth better, and grow simpler as we grow older.

On presenting himself at the Commander-inChief’s levee, his Grace had not the least remembrance of General Lumley’s aide-de-camp, and though he knew Esmond’s family perfectly well, having served with both lords (my Lord Francis and the Viscount Esmond’s father) in Flanders, and in the Duke of York’s Guard, the Duke of Marlborough, who was friendly and serviceable to the (so-styled) legitimate representatives of the Viscount Castlewood, took no sort of notice of the poor lieutenant who bore their name. A word of kindness or acknowledgment, or a single glance of approbation, might have changed Esmond’s opinion of the great man; and instead of a satire, which his pen cannot help writing, who knows but that the humble historian might have taken the other side of panegyric? We have but to change the point of view, and the greatest action looks mean; as we turn the perspective-glass, and a giant appears a pigmy. You may describe, but who can tell whether your sight is clear or not, or your means of information accurate? Had the great man said but a word of kindness to the small one (as he would have stepped out of his gilt chariot to shake hands with Lazarus in rags and sores, if he thought Lazarus could have been of any service to him), no doubt Esmond would have fought for him with pen and sword to the utmost of his might; but my lord the lion did not want master mouse at this moment, and so Muscipulus went off and nibbled in opposition.

Mr. Webb thought these verses quite as fine as Mr. Addison’s on the Blenheim Campaign, and, indeed, to be Hector a la mode de Paris, was part of this gallant gentleman’s ambition. It would have been difficult to find an officer in the whole army, or amongst the splendid courtiers and cavaliers of the Maison du Roy, that fought under Vendosme and Villeroy in the army opposed to ours, who was a more accomplished soldier and perfect gentleman, and either braver or better-looking. And if Mr. Webb believed of himself what the world said of him, and was deeply convinced of his own indisputable genius, beauty, and valor, who has a right to quarrel with him very much? This self-content of his kept him in general good-humor, of which his friends and dependants got the benefit.

The house would not be up for some hours yet, (it was July, and the dawn was only just awake,) and here Esmond opened himself to his mistress, of the business he had in hand, and what part Frank was to play in it. He knew he could confide anything to her, and that the fond soul would die rather than reveal it; and bidding her keep the secret from all, he laid it entirely before his mistress (always as staunch a little loyalist as any in the kingdom), and indeed was quite sure that any plan, of his was secure of her applause and sympathy. Never was such a glorious scheme to her partial mind, never such a devoted knight to execute it. An hour or two may have passed whilst they were having their colloquy. Beatrix came out to them just as their talk was over; her tall beautiful form robed in sable (which she wore without ostentation ever since last year’s catastrophe), sweeping over the green terrace, and casting its shadows before her across the grass.

Don Dismallo was a staunch young Jacobite, like the rest of his family; gave himself many absurd airs of loyalty; used to invite young friends to Burgundy, and give the King’s health on King James’s birthday; wore black on the day of his abdication; fasted on the anniversary of King William’s coronation; and performed a thousand absurd antics, of which he smiles now to think.

This is certain, that for a considerable period no officer in the Duke’s army lost favor with the Commander-inChief for entertaining or proclaiming his loyalty towards the exiled family. When the Chevalier de St. George, as the King of England called himself, came with the dukes of the French blood royal, to join the French army under Vendosme, hundreds of ours saw him and cheered him, and we all said he was like his father in this, who, seeing the action of La Hogue fought between the French ships and ours, was on the side of his native country during the battle. But this, at least the Chevalier knew, and every one knew, that, however well our troops and their general might be inclined towards the prince personally, in the face of the enemy there was no question at all. Wherever my Lord Duke found a French army, he would fight and beat it, as he did at Oudenarde, two years after Ramillies, where his Grace achieved another of his transcendent victories; and the noble young prince, who charged gallantly along with the magnificent Maison-du-Roy, sent to compliment his conquerors after the action.

Of the gout,” says Harry, interrupting him, and looking him hard in the face; I know a good deal about the gout.”

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.


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