"And I am indebted, count," resumed the merchant, "to nobleman of your country for its finest ornament: I mean the very horse I spoke of just now. He was sent to me one morning, with a letter from his brave owner, requesting me to give him shelter in my park. He is the most beautiful animal ever beheld. Unwilling to leave behind so valuable a deposit when I came to England I brought him with me."
"Poor Saladin!" cried Thaddeus, his heart overflowing with remembrance; "how glad I shall be to see thee!"
"What! was the horse yours?" asked Dr. Cavendish, surprised at this apostrophe.
"Yes," returned Thaddeus, "he was mine! and I owe to Mr. Hopetown a thousand thanks for his generous acquiescence with the prayers of an unfortunate stranger."
"No thanks to me, Count Sobieski. The moment I entered this room, I recollected you to be the same Polish officer I had observed on the beach at Dantzic. When I described your figure to the man who brought the horse, he said it was the same who gave him the letter. I could not learn your excellency's name; but I hoped one day or other to have the pleasure of meeting you again, and of returning Saladin into your hands in as good condition as when he came to mine."
Tears started into the eyes of Thaddeus.
"That horse, Mr. Hopetown, has carried me through many a bloody field; he alone witnessed my last adieu to the bleeding corpse of my country! I shall receive him again as an old and dear friend; but to his kind protector, how can I ever demonstrate the whole of my gratitude?" [Footnote: The love of Thaddeus to his horse has had some resemblances in the author's knowledge in yet more recent times. It seems to belong to the brave heart of every country in our civilized Europe, as well as in that of the wild Arab of the desert, to companion itself with his war-steed as with a friend or brother. I knew more than one gallant man who wept over the doom of his old charger when shot in the lines near Corunna; and another, of the same and other fields, who can never mention without turning pale the name of his faithful and beloved horse Columbus, who had carried him through various dangers on the South American continent, and at last perished by his side during a tremendous storm at sea, when no exertions of his master could save him. These are pangs of which only those who have the generous sensibility to feel them can have any idea. But they are true to the noble nature of which the inspired page speaks when it says, "The just man is merciful to his beast."— 1822.
The benignant master of the regretted Columbian steed was the late Sir R. K. Porter, the lamented brother of the yet surviving writer of the preceding note.—1845.]
"To have had it in my power to serve the Count Sobieski is a privilege of itself," returned Mr. Hopetown. "I am proud of that distinction, to be called the friend of a man who all the world honors will be a title which John Hopetown may be proud of."
Before the worthy merchant took his leave, he promised Thaddeus to send Saladin to Grosvenor Square that evening, and accepted his invitation to meet him and Dr. Cavendish the following day at dinner at Mr. Somerset's.
* * * * * * *
"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning."
Lady Albina Somerset's arrival in London was greeted by the immediate visits of all the persons in town who had been esteemed by the late Countess of Tinemouth, or on intimate terms with the baronet's family. It was not the gay season for the metropolis. Amongst the earliest names that appeared at her door were those of Lord Berrington, the Hon. Captain and Mrs. Montresor, and the Rev. Dr. Blackmore. Under any circumstances, either in the country or in town, Mr. Somerset and his young bride did not propose opening their gates to more general acquaintances until Miss Beaufort and the count were married, and both bridal parties had been presented at court in the spring. To this little select group of friends who were to assemble round Mr. Somerset's table on the appointed day, Thaddeus informed him, with frank pleasure, that he had taken the liberty of adding Dr. Cavendish and Mr. Hopetown of Dantzic.
Lady Albina received the two strangers with graceful hospitality. The affianced Mary, with an equally blushing grace, presented her hand to the generous protector of Saladin, accompanying the action with a modest acknowledgment of her interest in an animal so deservedly dear to the Count Sobieski. He had turned to meet Lord Berrington and the ever lively Sophia Egerton (now Mrs. Montresor), who both advanced to him at the same instant, to express their gratulations not only at seeing him again, but in a situation of happy promise, so consonant to his avowed rank and personal early fame.
Thaddeus replied to their felicitations with a smiling dignity in that ingenuous manner peculiarly his own. He was not a little surprised when Dr. Blackmore soon after recognized him to be the noble foreigner whose appearance had so much excited his attention, about a twelvemonth ago, at the Hummuins, in Covent Garden. The count did not recollect the circumstance of having seen the good doctor there; but the venerable man recapitulated the scene in the coffee- room through which the count had passed, describing, with no little animation, "a pedantic mannered person, dressed in black, and wearing spectacles (whose name he afterwards learned was Loftus), an M.A. of one of the colleges, who took the liberty to make some not very liberal remarks on the number of noble strangers then confiding themselves to the honorable sanctuary and sympathy of our country."
Pembroke could hardly hear the benevolent speaker to the end; stifling any audible expression of his re-awakened indignation, he whispered to the baronet, "My dear father! recent happy events have made us almost forget that villain's baseness; but I pray, let him not remain another week a blot upon our house's escutcheon."
"All shall be done as you wish," returned his father, in the same subdued tone; "but let us remember how much of that recent happiness the goodness of Providence hath brought out of this wretched man's offence. Were I extreme to mark what is done amiss, how could I abide the sentence that might be justly pronounced against myself? To- morrow we will talk over this matter, and settle it, I trust, with satisfaction to all parties."
Pembroke gratefully pressed his father's hand, and then, walking up the room, addressed Mrs. Montresor. In a few minutes her brave husband joined them. While talking of his late victorious and happily-completed homeward-bound voyage, he spoke with great regret of the threatened absence from England of his late colleague on the battle-field of the ocean, his old friend Captain Ross.
"How—whither is he going?" asked his wife, in a tone of interest.
Montresor replied, "The ill state of Lady Sara's health requires a milder air, and poor Ross means to take her without loss of time to Italy. I met him this morning, in despair about the suddenness of some alarming symptoms."
Thaddeus too well divined that this increased indisposition owed its rise to his recent return to town, and inwardly petitioning Heaven that absence and her husband's devoted tenderness might complete her cure, he could not repress a sigh, wrung from his respectful pity towards her, in this deep bosom-struggle with herself.
No one present except the future partner of his own heart marked the transient melancholy which passed over his countenance. She, who had suspected the unhappy Lady Sara's attachment, loved Thaddeus, if possible, still dearer for the compassion he bestowed on the meek penitence of the unhappy victim of a passion often as inscrutable as destructive.
When the party descended to dinner, Miss Dorothy, who sat next to the Count Sobieski, rallied him upon the utter desertion of one of his most pertinacious allies or adversaries—she did not know which to call the fair delinquent. "For admiring or detesting seemed quite the same to some ladies, so they did but show their power of mischief over any poor mortal man they found in their way!"
This strange attack, though uttered in perfect good humor by the lively old lady, following so closely the information relative to Lady Sara Ross, summoned a fervid color into the count's face; he looked surprised, and rather confused, at the revered speaker, who soon gayly related what she had been told that morning by her milliner, of "Miss Euphemia Dundas being on the point of marriage with a young Scotch nobleman in Berwickshire; and in proof, her elegant informant, Madame de Maradon, was making the bridal trousseau."
"So much the better for all straight-going people, ma chere tante" cried Pembroke; "little Phemy was no contemptible assailant either way. Besides," added he, turning airily to his own gentle bride, "you, my young lady, may congratulate yourself on the same good hope. I hear that an old turf-comrade of mine is going to take her loving sister off my hands. Come, Lord Berrington, you must verify my report, for I learned it from you."
His lordship smiled, and answered in the affirmative, adding that a friend of his in Lincolnshire, had written to him as most amusing news, "That the most worthy Orson, heir of all the lands, tenements, stables, and kennels of the doughty Sir Helerand Shafto, of that ilk, and twenty ilks besides north of the Humber, had been discovered by the wonderful occult penetration possessed by the exceedingly blue sorceress-lady Miss Diana Dundas (of as many ilks north of the Tweed), to be no Orson at all; but her very veritable Valentine, to whom she was now preparing to give her fair and golden-garnished hand in the course of the forthcoming month; that is, when the season of hunting and shooting is past and gone, and the chase-wearied pair may turn themselves, with their blown horses and hounds, to a little wholesome rustication in their homestead fields."
"I would not be their companion for Nebuchadnezzar's crown!" reiterated Pembroke, laughing.
Sobieski, not suppressing the smile that played on his lips at the whimsical description given by Lord Berrington's correspondent, wished the nuptials happy, as far as the parties could comprehend the feeling. The viscount in return protested that their Polish friend "was more generous than just in such a benediction."
"I vow to heaven," cried his lordship, "that I never knew people the aim of whose lives seemed so bent on sly mischief as those two sisters. Euphemia, pretty as she is, is better known by her skill in tormenting than by her beauty. And as for the poor squire Diana has conjured into matrimony, I have little doubt of his future baited fate when she springs her dogs of war upon that petted deer!"
"Ah, poor fool!" exclaimed Mrs. Montresor, "I warrant he will not escape the punishment he merits, for stepping between the goddess and her delectable Endymion, Lascelles."
"Quarter for an old acquaintance!" whispered Miss Beaufort, in a beseeching voice.
"She does not deserve it of you!" returned the lady, pursuing her ridiculous game, until both Miss Dorothy and Sir Robert petitioned for mercy from so fair a judge.
Thaddeus, who possessed not the disposition to exult in the misconduct or mischances of any one who had injured him, felt this part of the conversation the least pleasant on that happy day, and to change its strain, he, in his turn, whispered to his father "to prevail on Lady Albina to indulge his friend Mr. Hopetown by singing a few passages from that beautiful ballad of the Scottish borders, 'Chevy Chase,' which had so delighted their own family party the preceding evening."
He did not ask this "charmed resource" from his own betrothed, because it was only at the close of that very preceding evening he had for the first time heard her voice, "in sweetest melody," chanting forth the parting anthem for the night, "From the ends of the earth, I will call upon thee, O Lord," and with tones of a kindred pathos, too thrilling to a son's startled ear and memory, to be invoked again in a mixed company.
Strange, indeed, it might be, but it was a sacred balm to his soul when these recurring remembrances discovered to his heart in the young and lovely future partner of his life a bond of union with that angelic mother who had given him being; and perhaps this devoted filial heart alone could appreciate the joy, the comfort, the bliss of such a similitude! But in after days he shared those feelings with his father, bringing to his regretful bosom a soothing perception of the likeness.
Lady Albina instantly complied, casting a sweet glance at Sir Robert, who immediately led her to the piano-forte, followed by the Scottish merchant of the Baltic, whither the noble symphony of "The Douglas," "hound and horn," soon gathered the rest of the company. The remainder of the evening passed away delightfully in the awakened harmony. Mrs. Montresor joined Lady Albina in some touching Italian duets; Pembroke supported both ladies in a fine trio of Mozart's; Mr. Hopetown requested another favorite son of his country, "Auld Robin Gray," and himself repaid Lady Albina's kind assent by a magnificent voluntary on his part, "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled." Mary accompanied that well known pibroch of "The Bruce" with a true responsive echo from her harp; but she declined singing herself, and when Thaddeus took the relinquished instrument from her hand, he pressed it with a silent tenderness, sweeter to her than could have been the plaudits of all the accomplished listeners around. That soft hand had stroked the branching neck of his recovered Saladin the same morning, and the happy master now marked his feeling of the gentle deed.
In the course of a few days, Pembroke's wishes with regard to Mr. Loftus were put into a train of fulfilment, Dr. Blackmore having undertaken to find a fitting tutor for the young Lord Avon, and in the interim would receive him into his own classical instruction, whenever it should be deemed proper to terminate his present holiday visit in Bedfordshire. But whilst Sir Robert had thus adjudged the guilty, he was careful not to expose him to fresh temptations, nor to suffer his crimes to implicate the innocent in its punishment. Hence, in pity to age and helplessness, he determined to settle two hundred pounds per annum on the wretched man's mother and sisters, who dwelt together in Wales. Shortly after, in consequence of his contrite confessions, "that all Mr. Somerset's allegations against him were too true," the humane father and son appointed one hundred pounds more to be paid yearly to the culprit himself, so that at least he might not be induced to lighten his honest labors for a suitable subsistence by renewed villanies. With reference to the benefice of Somerset, which had been the ill-sought price of this base pretender to sanctity and truth, Sir Robert decided on presenting it to the exemplary Dr. Blackmore whenever it should become vacant.
Meanwhile, the baronet's sojourn in town became indispensably prolonged, not only by the simple nature of the affairs that brought him thither, but by certain unlooked-for intricacies occurring in making a final adjustment of the various settlements and consequent conveyances to be effected on account of the two felicitous marriages in his family. During these lingering proceedings amongst the legal protectors of "soil and surety," Miss Beaufort remained the cherished and cheering guest of the already espoused pair, one of whom, indeed, still wore the garb of "a mourning bride," but all within was clad in the true white robe of nuptial purity and peace. Sobieski was the now no less privileged abiding inmate in the home and heart of Sir Robert Somerset. Increasing daily in favor with "good aunt Dorothy," the presiding mistress of his father's house, he soon became nearly as precious in her sight as had long been the pleasant society of her nephew Pembroke. And all this her ingenuous and affectionate nature avowed to Mary, in their frequent visits between the two houses, with a sort of delighted wonder at her heart's so prescient recognition of the new nephew her sweet niece was to bestow upon her. For it had not yet been revealed to her that Thaddeus did stand in that same tender relationship to her by a former marriage of her beloved brother with the lamented mother of the noble object of her cherished esteem. And what was the double joy of the blessed moment when that happy secret was confided to her bosom.
The last busy month of autumn in London had not only laid down its wearied head under the dark canopy of a murky atmosphere, lit with dimmed street-lamps to its slumbers, but its expected refreshment in the country did not offer much more agreeable materials for repose and vernal renovation. There were blustering winds strewing the recently green earth with beds of withered leaves of every foliage, stripped and fallen from the shivering woods above. And there were drenching rains, laying the lately pleasant fields in trackless swamps, and swelling the clear and gentle brooks into brawling floods, rending asunder the long-remembered rustic bridges which had hitherto linked the villages together, in convenient passages for wholesome relaxation or useful toil.
Such were the newspaper accounts from the country during the latter part of November; but there was seen a fairer prospect from the carriage windows of Sir Robert Somerset, when he and his gladdened party, one bright morning, on quitting the splashy environs of Hammersmith and Brentford, entered the broad expanse of Hounslow Heath, on their way into Warwickshire, and beheld its wide common covered with a fair carpet of spotless snow. Winter had then seriously, or, rather, smilingly, set in. It was the 10th of December; and the baronet, having signed and sealed all things necessary to transfer with perfect satisfaction himself and family (as was always his custom at this homeward season), now set forth to one or other of his ancient domains, to pass his Christmas in the bosom of an enlarged and a grateful domestic happiness. Thus, year after year, he diffused from each of those parental mansions that bounteous hospitality to high and low which he considered to be an especial duty in an English gentleman, whether in the character of "landlord" to noble guests and respected neighbors, or to wayfaring strangers passing by; or, while graciously mingling with his widely- established tenantry, or his equally regarded daily guests at this "holy festival," the virtuous, lowly peasantry, laborers on the land. Then smiled the cottager, with honest consciousness of yeoman worth, when seated in the great hall, under the eye of his munificent lord, who partook of the general feast. Then, too, did he smile when, at the head of his own little board, he sat with his children and humbler dependents, all furnished with ample Christmas fare by the baronet's still open hand.
When Thaddeus shared these primeval scenes of old England by the side of his British parent, (which festivities are still honorably preserved by some of its most ancient and noblest families,) they brought back to his heart those similar assemblages at Villanow and in Cracovia, where his revered grandfather, the palatine, had reigned prince and father over every happy breast. [Footnote: The writer remembers a similar scene to the above when she had the honor of dining, along with her revered family, on a festival of harvest-home at Bushy Palace, when its royal owner, his late majesty, was Duke of Clarence. Himself moved through his rustic guests in the gracious manner described.]
And happy were now the recollections of all who met at Deerhurst on this their first joyful Christmas season! Week after week glided along in the bland exercise of social duties aided by the more homefelt enjoyments of sweet domestic affections, which gave a living grace to all that was said or done and more intimately knit hearts together, never more to be divided.
But winter's howling blasts and sheltering halls, "where fireside comforts, taste, and gentle love, with soft amenities mingled into bliss," swiftly and fairer, changed their pleasant song, proclaiming in every brightening hue the hymn of nature—
"These, as they change, Almighty Father! Are but the varied God! The rolling year Is full of Thee! Forth in the pleasing spring Thy beauty walks, thy tenderness and love;"
and in the first month of that genial season, when the young grass covers the downy hills with verdure, and the glowing branches of the trees bud with an infant foliage, the sun smiles in the heavens, and the pellucid streams reflect his glorious rays, the day was fixed by Sir Robert Somerset, and approved by the beloved objects of his then peculiar solicitude, in which his paternal hand should plight theirs together before the altar of eternal truth.
The solemnity was to be performed in the village church, which stood in the park of Deerhurst, and the Rev. Dr. Blackmore, who came over from his own private dwelling in Worcestershire, accompanied by his pupil, Lord Avon, vas to perform the holy rite. No adjunct of the Roman Catholic ceremony (then the national church of Poland) was needful fully to legalize it. Thaddeus from his infancy had been reared in the Protestant faith, the faith of his mother, whose own mother was a daughter of the staunch Hussite race of the princely Zamoiski, who still professed that ancient, simple creed of their country. It was also the national faith of him who had given Therese's son being; therefore, to the same pure doctrine of Christianity had she dedicated his deserted child; and should they ever meet again, she believed it must be before the throne of Divine Mercy; and there she trusted to present their solitary offspring with the sacred words—"Here I am, Lord, and the child thou didst give me."
But to return to the marriage-day itself. The hour having arrived in which the soul-devoted Mary Beaufort was to resign herself and her earthly happiness into the power of the only man to whom, having once beheld and known him, she could ever have committed them, she pronounced her vows at the sacred altar with unsteadiness of tongue but with a fixed heart. And when, after embracing all the fond kindred so long dear to her, and now to him, and having received their parting blessings within the walls of her ever-cherished home, —sweet, while familiar Deerhurst,—she was driven rapidly through its gates, while a mixed and awed emotion agitated her breast. But immediately she felt the supporting arm of her husband gently pressing her trembling form; and so, with all that husband's tender sympathy, the hours glided away unperceived, till the august towers of her own native domain appeared on the evening horizon, and soon afterwards she alighted at the mansion itself, having passed along a central avenue of ancient oaks amid the congratulatory cheers of a large assemblage of her tenantry on horseback and on foot, planted on each side, to bid a glad welcome to their "liege lady and her lord."
Within the great entrance of the baronial hall, winch opened to her by the immediate raising of a massive brazen portcullis, the ancient insignia of the Beaufort name, she received the joyful obeisance of the old domestics of her honored parents, hailing her, their beloved daughter, with a humble ardor of affection that bathed her enraptured face with filial tears. Thaddeus felt the scene in his own recollective heart.
Next morning Mrs. Robson and the delighted Nanny (dressed in a white frock for the blissful occasion), on being brought into the countess's private saloon, threw themselves at the feet of their benefactors and sobbed forth their happiness. The still more happy Sobieski raised them in his arms, and, embracing both, accosted the old lady as he would have done a revered relative, and the affectionate little girl like an adopted child.
The same day the vicar of Beaufort, whose large rural parish extended from the Castle to several miles around, rode to the gate, and was announced by name (the Rev. Mr. Tillotson), to pay his pastoral duty to his future noble neighbors and sacred charge, the owners of the land.
"His is a good name," observed Mary, with a gracious smile; "it was borne by one of the brightest luminaries of our Protestant church, Archbishop Tillotson, whose works you will find in the family library, now your own. And his descendant, the revered late vicar, christened me in the dear old church of the adjacent village, to which we go to-morrow, Sunday. Oh, how much have I to bless Heaven for in that holy place!" she tenderly ejaculated. "You, kneeling by my side there—one faith, one heart, one death, one salvation. O, my husband, I am blessed indeed!"
"My Mary, in earth and heaven!" was his soul's response, and with the words he pressed her fervently-clasped hands with a hallowed emotion to his lips.
In a few minutes after this she led the way to the ancient library, tapestried with family portraits, and furnished with book-cases of every past generation. Thither the young vicar, a truly worthy successor to his pious father, had been conducted; and there, being introduced by the countess (who had seen him only once before) to her lord, they found him not merely a clergyman to be respected, but an accomplished general scholar and a polished man.[Footnote: Over the gate-like arch of the library door had been erected, by a recent order from the gentlest hand now within its walls, a simple but exquisitely-carved escutcheon, showing the armorial bearing of the ancient and royal house of Sobieski—a crowned buckler, with the family motto, "God is the shield that covers me."]
Thus was Thaddeus, the long-cherished orphan of a broken paternal vow, by a wondrous providence established in his new British character—a husband, and an owner of large estates in the soil. And he soon became fully sensible to the double commission devolved upon himself. Whether as a son of Poland, in right of the life he had drawn from his mother's bosom, or as one equally claimed by England, in right of his paternal parent, he was well prepared to faithfully fulfil their relative duties, with a zeal to each respondent to the important privileges and blessings of so signal a lot. In two short preceding years he had indeed passed through a host of severe trials; but in all he had been supported by an Almighty hand, and under the same gracious trust he now looked forward to a long Sabbath of hallowed peace, and of grateful service to Him who bestowed it.
He had met it at Deerhurst, when under his father's roof; he maintained it at Beaufort, the seat of his most continuous residence; nor did he neglect its duties at Manor Court, Sir Robert's parental gift, and his own near neighborhood. And when the time came round for the family to revisit London, his pleasures there were of a character to correspond with his pursuits in the country, the happiness of others being the source of his own enjoyments.
"We are brethren!"
After the termination of the Count Sobieski's first Easter passed with the beloved of his soul in the home of her ancestors, they proceeded together to join Sir Robert Somerset, and their kind aunt Miss Dorothy, in Grosvenor Square, to become again his welcome guests, and always thereafter when in town, while Heaven prolonged their lives to renew the cherished reunion at each succeeding season.
Thus it was that, immediately subsequent to the holy festival, the now revered Lord of Beaufort cheerfully obeyed his father's summons to London, where he found Pembroke and Lady Albina already resettled in their former residence. Having ere long met the gratulatory calls of his metropolitan friends, he daily beheld his lovely bride—lovely in mind as in person—becoming more and more "the worshipped cynosure of neighboring eyes;" not only adorning the highest circles of society, but filling his home with all the ineffable charms of a wedded life, inspired by the gentle graces of domestic tenderness.
One balmy evening in May, when he and his young countess were driving out alone together, which they sometimes did, that she might have the delight of showing to him the varied rural environs of the great and gay royal city of England, the carriage, by her direction, took its course towards Primrose Hill, then crowned by a grove of "fair elm- trees," and clothed with a vesture of green sward, enamelled with wild flowers. Thence the light vehicle threaded a maze of shady lanes and pleasant field-paths, into a rustic, newly-made road, leading a little to the north of Covent Garden. [Footnote: All this has since become Regent's Park and its dependencies, whether streets or squares.]
Mary proposed stopping a few minutes in that magnificent general garden of the town, to purchase a bouquet of early roses, to present to Sir Robert on their return from their drive.
When the carriage drew up at the entrance of the great parterre, she stepped out to select them. Having quickly combined their fragrant beauties, she put the nosegay into the hand of one of the servants to place on the seat. Being nigh the church porch, she suddenly expressed a wish to her husband, on whose arm she leaned, to walk through the church-yard, and that the carriage should meet them at the opposite gate.
Thaddeus, not being aware that this porch belonged to the church where his veteran friend had been buried, gave instant assent; and before he had time to make more than a few remarks on the pure religious architecture of the building, which he thought had attracted his tasteful bride to take a nearer view, she had led him unconsciously to the general's grave. But it was no longer the same as when Sobieski last stood by its side. A simple white marble tomb now occupied the place of its former long grass and yarrow. Surprised, he bent forward, and read with brimming eyes the following inscription:—
1795-6. Stop, Traveller! Thou treadest on a Hero. Here rest the mortal remains of LIEUTENANT-GENERAL BUTZOU, Late of the Kingdom of Poland. A faithful soldier to his Lord and to his country! He sleeps in Faith and Hope!
Thaddeus for a moment felt as he did when he beheld those "mortal remains" laid there. But his own faith in that hope which consecrated this mortality to an immortal resurrection had then silently spread the balm of its full assurance overall those remembered pangs; and now, without speaking, he led his also pensive and tremulous companion to her carriage, where it awaited them, and seating her within it, clasped her to his breast. His tears, no longer restrained, poured those sweet pledges of a soul-felt approbation into her bosom that made it even ache with excess of happiness. But while the grateful voice of her husband was beginning to breathe its uttered thanks, he found the carriage stop again, in a street not far distant from the one they had just quitted. It drew up at the door of a handsome house, of an apparently contemporary structure with the church. It was the rectory of St. Paul's, Covent Garden and at its portal stood the reverend incumbent, evidently awaiting to receive his guests.
Thaddeus perceived him, and also the welcome of his position; so did his gentle wife, who with a blushing smile explained all the alterations he had observed on the respected grave, avowing that they had been done at her devoted wish, and were effected by the kind agency of that venerable man, the rector of the church, the Honorable Bruce Fitz-James. She then timidly added, (and how beautiful in that timidity!) she had something more to confess; she had ventured, after obtaining permission of the rector for the erection of the monument, to see it once during its progress, and then to promise him that on its completion her honored husband, the Count Sobieski, whose parental friend that noble dead had been, would, when she revealed her secret to him, pay a personal visit along with herself to her beneficent coadjutor, and duly express their united gratitude. She had scarcely spoken her rapid information, when its courteous object descended the portal to approach the carriage. His hat was taken off, and the snow-white hair, blown suddenly by a gust of wind across his benign brow, a little obscured his face, while he conducted the lady from the carriage up the steps of his door. But Sobieski found no difficulty in recognizing the time-blanched locks, which had been wetted by the weeping heavens in that hour of his lonely sorrow, whilst committing to the dust the remains of him whose sacred memorial he had just contemplated, raised by a wife's clear hand.
With these recollections had arisen the image of the pale, delicately-formed boy who had gazed so compassionately into his eyes while taking as he thought his last look at that humble grave; and with this bland recurrence came also the almost closing words of the solemn service, seeming again to proclaim to his heart, "I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead who die in the Lord!"
With calmed feelings and perfectly recovered self-possession, Thaddeus now followed his beloved wife (his solace and his joy), led by her delighted host, into the bright-panelled parlor of the rectory, where the mutual introduction instantly took place.
The beneficent old man, with a polished sincerity, declared his high gratification at this visit from the Count Sobieski, brought to him by the gracious lady who so deservedly shared his illustrious name. Thaddeus, with his usual modest dignity, received the implied compliment, and expressed his just sense of the deep obligation conferred on him and his countess by the last consecrated rite to the memory of his most revered friend.
Mary was then seated on an old-fashioned silk-embroidered settee, opposite to the flower-latticed bay-window of the apartment. The rector, with a courteous bow, which in his youth would have been called graceful, as if confident of a permitted privilege, placed himself beside her, while observing to her lord, in reply to these unfeigned thanks, that, "the reported name alone of the veteran patriot who lay there had not ceased from the day of his interment to attract, shrine-like, the pilgrim feet of many persons to the spot who respected and bewailed the fate of Poland."
Sobieski's cheek flushed and his eye kindled at this testimony. To change a subject which he found wrought too powerfully on the recently-regained serenity of his mind, he affectionately inquired for the amiable boy he had seen take so touching an interest in the mournful errand to the church-yard on that ever-remembered day, and who, like a ministering seraph, had so guardingly watched the exposed head of his revered master, under the pitiless element then pouring down.
"He is my nephew," returned the rector, in a tone of tenderness: "Lord Edward Fitz-James. He is in delicate health; the youngest son of my eldest brother, the Marquis Fitz-James, who married late in life. Edward is, indeed, what he appears, a spirit of innocent, happy love, or of condoling commiseration, wherever his gentle footsteps move. And when I rejoin him this autumn, at his father's house in Scotland, and shall tell him that the never-forgotten chief mourner at that simple bier, with whom his own young tears fell in spontaneous sympathy, was the Count Sobieski—a kinsman of his own, whose character was already known to him in its youthful fame and by its honored name—what will be that meek child's exulting ecstasy!"
"A kinsman of that noble boy!" echoed Thaddeus, in surprise. "How may I flatter myself it can be so?"
Mary simultaneously uttered an amazed ejaculation of pleasure at the idea of any real relationship between that venerable man and herself; and he, with an answering look of kindred respect on both the astonished husband and his bride, replied to the former with the unstudied brevity of truth.
"A few sentences will explain it, for I consider it unnecessary to remind my present auditors of two great events in their respective countries. First, with regard to England; the change of royal succession in the Stuart line, from the branch of which James the Second was the head, to that of Brunswick-a backward step, originating in Elizabeth of Bohemia, the daughter of James the First, and therefore, the aunt of James the Second. At the height of these eventful circumstances, the offended sovereign retired with his exemplary queen and their infant son to the continent. There the royal boy continued to be styled, by his father's adherents, James Prince of Wales, but in the general world was usually known by the cognizance of the Chevalier St. George.
"This is the first link in our bracelet, noble lady!" observed the narrator, with a smile, and then proceeded. "I now advance to my second part, the crisis of which took place in Poland, about the same period. At the death of the great John Sobieski, King of Poland, the father of his people, there arose a deep-rooted conspiracy in certain neighboring states, jealous of his late power and glorious name, determining to undermine the accession of his family to the throne; and they found an apt soil to work on in a corresponding feeling ready to break out amongst some of the most influential nobles of the realm. Foreign and domestic revolutionists soon understand each other; and the dynasty of Sobieski being speedily overturned by the double treason of pretended friends and false allies, his three princely sons withdrew from occasioning the dire conflict of a civil war, two into distant lands, the other to the ancestral patrimony, in provinces far from the intrigues of ambition or the temptation of its treacherous lures.
"The two elder brothers, in a natural indignation against the popular ingratitude, took the expatriating destination. But Constantine, the youngest born, with the calm dignity of a son without other desired inheritance than the honor of such a parent, retired to the tranquil seclusion of the castled domain of Olesko, the ancient fortified palace of his progenitors, on the Polish border of Red Russia; and there, in philosophic quiet, he passed his blameless days with science and the arts, and in deeds of true Christian benevolence-the purport of his life. This respected seclusion was ultimately sweetly cheered when "woman smiled" upon it, in the form of a fair daughter of a neighboring magnate in the adjacent province, whose noble retirement, sharing the same patriotic principles with those of Constantine, yielded to the young philosopher a lovely helpmate for him.
"Prince James, his eldest brother, had meanwhile married a sister of their early associate in arms, the brave Charles of Newburg, when under the royal banner of Sobieski, in the memorable field of Vienna. Alexander, the second son, also met with a distinguished bride in Germany. Both princes were accomplished and handsome men; but one of our countrymen, contemporary and family physician to the late king, familiarly describes them in his curious reminiscences, thus:—'His majesty possessed a fine figure; he was tall and graceful. The nobleness and elevation of his soul were deeply depicted in his countenance and air. Prince James is dark-complexioned, slender in person, and more like a Spaniard than a Pole; he is very social, courteous and liberal. Alexander is of more manly proportions, and of a true Sarmatian physiognomy. But Constantine is an exact likeness of the king, his father.'" [Footnote: The writer of this note has seen a magnificent picture of that glorious king, a full length, the stature of life. It was nobly painted by an artist of the period.]
"And such was my ever-revered grandsire, his only son!" responded the heart of Thaddeus, but he did not utter the words. Meanwhile, the enthusiastic historiographer of a period he was so seldom called to touch on proceeded without a pause.
"In process of time, one fair scion from this illustrious stock became engrafted on our former royal stem. I mean her highness the Lady Clementina, the daughter of Prince James of Poland, who, after his rejection of all foreign aid to re-establish him in his father's kingdom, had, like the abdicated monarch of England, gone about a resigned pilgrim, 'seeking a better country,' till the two families auspiciously met, to brighten each other's remainder of earthly sojourn at St. Germains, in France. Then came the 'sweet bindwith,' the royal maid, the Prince Sobieski's beauteous daughter, to give her nuptial hand to the only son of the exiled king; and so, most remarkably, was united the equally extraordinary destinies of the regal race of the heroic John Sobieski with that of our anointed warrior, Robert Bruce, in the person of his princely descendant, James Fitz-James, in diplomatic parlance styled the Chevalier de St. George; and from that blended blood, and by family connection, sprung from the same branching tree, I feel sanguinely confident that the claim I have set up for myself and gentle nephew, whose kindred spirit the warm heart of the Count Sobieski has already acknowledged, will not be deemed an old man's dream."
A short silence ensued.
Thaddeus had been riveted with an almost breathless attention to this part of the narrative, some of its public circumstances having found a dim recollection in his mind; but his apprehensive mother had always turned him aside from any line in his historical reading which might particularly engage his ever-wakeful interest to the chivalrous nation of his own never-avowed parentage, and from which a father's desertion had expatriated him even before his birth. But now, how ample had been the atonement, the restitution, to this forsaken son?
Not being able to express any of the kindled feelings this narration had suggested, added to the daily increasing claims the blessing of such an atonement were hourly making on his best affections, he could only grasp the hand of the venerated speaker with a fervent pressure when he ceased. But Mary, irradiating smiles, the emanating light of her soul then at her Maker's feet, gently breathed her ardent felicitations at what she had just heard, which had indeed established her kindred with the venerated friend whose kindness had met her so unreservedly as a stranger.
When the little party so signally brought together, to become mutually entwined, as if already known to each other for years instead of minutes,—when they became composed, after the excited emotions of the disclosure had subsided, the reverend host, now considering the count and countess rather as young cousins to be honored than as guests to be entertained, conversed awhile more particularly with regard to the marquis and his family, and finally accepted, with declared pleasure, the earnest invitation of his gladly responsive new relatives to accompany them the following day, when they would call for him in their carriage, to dine with their dearest guardian and parental friend, Sir Robert Somerset.
"He is my Mary's maternal uncle," remarked Thaddeus, with a calm emphasis, "and has been to me as a father in this her adopted land. I found a brother, also, in his admirable son, Mr. Somerset, whom, with his young bride, you will meet to-morrow at Sir Robert's family table. Hence, my revered kinsman, you see what England still does in her kind bosom for a remnant of the race of Sobieski."
The appointed hour next day arrived. The count called for his friend, who was ready at the door of the rectory mansion, and, after much interesting conversation during the drive, conducted him into the presence of the baronet. Sir Robert greeted his guest in perfect harmony with the filial eloquence of Sobieski, in describing his adopted father's ever-gracious heart, and consequent benignant manners. Thaddeus had repeated to Sir Robert the revealments of yesterday's visit to the honorable and reverend rector of St. Paul's, which had so stirringly mingled with his own most cherished memories.
The cordial reception thus given to the revered narrator gratified him, as a full repayment for his imparted confidence of the day before, though he could not be aware of the real paternal fountain from which these warm welcomes flowed. But Thaddeus recognized it in every word, look, and act of his beloved father, and with his mother in his heart, he appreciated all.
Dr. Cavendish and Dr. Blackmore had been added to the party. Sincere esteem, with an ever-grateful recollection of the past, always spread the board of Sobieski for the former, whenever he might have leisure to enrich it with his highly intellectual store. Dr. Blackmore had arrived the preceding evening with Lord Avon, grown a fine youth, to pass a few days with his patron and friend, Sir Robert Somerset, on his way to transfer his noble charge to the tutorage of the fully competent, though young, vicar of Beaufort, Mr. Tillotson. Lord Avon was to reside in the vicarage, but would also possess the constant personal care of his friends at the Castle, and a home invitation to visit there, with his accomplished tutor, whenever it should be agreeable to Mr. Tillotson to bring him.
The rector of St. Paul's and the recently inducted rector of Somerset (whither he was proceeding after he should have deposited his young lordship at Beaufort) were respectively introduced to each other— worthy brethren in the pure church they were equally qualified to support and to adorn.
When dinner was announced, the Rev. Bruce Fitz-James received the hand of the cheerful Miss Dorothy to lead her down. She had given him a frank greeting of relationship on his being presented to her, as mistress of her brother's house, on his first entrance into the drawing room. During the social repast, much elegant and intellectual conversation took place, and promises were solicited, both then and after the banquet, by the members of the family group from their several guests for visits at the seasons most pleasant to themselves, to Deerhurst, to Somerset, and to Beaufort. The venerable Fitz-James and his young nephew were particularly besought by Thaddeus and his Mary, who anticipated a peculiar delight in becoming intimately acquainted with that interesting boy. Lord Avon they hoped might prove a companionable attraction to the latter.
The invitations were cordially accepted, the paternal uncle of the young Lord Edward not doubting the ready approbation of his brother, the marquis. And it was arranged that both at Beaufort and at Deerhurst the whole of the baronet's family group should be assembled, including Mr. Somerset and his gentle lady, whose placid graces moved round his ever sparkling vivacity with a softly- tempering shade.
Thus, day after day, week after week, while continuing in town, time passed on in the alternate interchanges of domestic tranquillity and the active exercises of those duties to society in general, and to the important demands of public claims on the present stations of the several individuals on whom such calls were made.
Nor in the country, when returned to their separate dwelling-places, did the same happy and honorable routine cease its genial round. Pembroke's most stationary residence was Somerset Castle, his father's beneficent representative, whose favorite home was Deerhurst. And thus mutually endeared, and worthy of their Heaven- bestowed stewardship, we leave the family of Sir Robert Somerset.
We leave Thaddeus Sobieski, now one of its most beloved members, blessed in the fruition of every earthly good. The virtues, the muses, and the charities were the chosen guests at his abundant table. Poverty could not veil genius from his penetration, nor misfortune obscure the inborn light of its integrity. Though exiled from his native land, where his birth gave him dominion over rich territories, now in the hands of strangers, and a numerous happy people, now no more, he had not yet relinquished the love of empire. But it was not over principalities and embattled hosts that he desired to prolong the sceptre of command. He wished to reign in the soul. His throne was sought in the hearts of the good, the kind, the men of honest industry, and the unfortunate, on whom prosperity had frowned. In fact, the unhappy of every degree and nation found consolation, refuge, and repose within the sheltering domains of Beaufort. No eye looked wistfully on him to turn away disappointed; his smiles cheered the disconsolate, and his protecting arms warded off, when possible, the approach of new sorrows. "Peace was within his walls, and plenteousness within his palaces."
And when a few eventful months of the succeeding year had distinguished its course with the death of the imperious destroyer of Poland, and General Kosciusko (having been set at liberty by her generous successor, and honorably empowered to go whither he willed) had arrived in England on his way to the United States, he sought and found Thaddeus, his young comrade in the fields of Poland, and was hailed with the warmest welcome by that now indeed truly "comforted" brave and last representative of the noble race and name of the glory of his country, the more than once Gideon-shield of Christendom—John Sobieski.
"Ah, my chief!" cried he, while he clasped the veteran to his breast, "I am indeed favored above mortals. I see thee again, on whom I believed the gates of a ruthless prison had closed forever! I have all that remains of my country now within my arms. Kosciusko, my friend, my father, bless your son!"
Kosciusko did bless him, and embalmed the benediction with a shower of tears more precious than the richest unction that ever flowed on a royal head. They were drawn from a Christian soldier's heart—a true patriot and a hero.
Sobieski presented his lovely wife to this illustrious friend, and while he gratefully acknowledged the rare felicity of his ultimate fate, he owned that the retrospection of the past calamity, like a shade in a picture, gives to our present bliss greater force and brightness. But that such felicity was his, he could only ascribe to the gracious providence of God, who "trieth the spirit of man," and can bring him to a joy on earth even like unto a resurrection from the dead. And the conclusion is not even then; "there remaineth yet a better life, and a better country for those who trust in the Lord of earth and heaven!"
CHIEFLY RELATING TO GENERAL KOSCIUSKO.
The writer prefaces these notes with the following dedicatory tribute she inscribed to the memory of this illustrious chief in a former but subsequent edition, some years after the first publication of the work. It runs thus:—
THADDEUS OF WARSAW.
THIS TENTH EDITION IS HUMBLY AND AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED TO THE MEMORY OF THE LATE JUSTLY REVERED AND RENOWNED
General Thaddeus Kosciusko.
"The spirit of war between nation and nation, and between man and man in those nations, for public supremacy on the one side and private aggrandizement on the other, being still as much the character of the times as in the days when the preceding biographical tale of Poland was written, the author continues to feel the probable consequences of such a crisis in forming the future principles of manly British youth—a feeling which was the origin of the work itself.
"Its direct aim being to draw a distinguishing line between the spirit of true patriotism and that of ambitious public discontent,— between real glory, which arises from benefits bestowed, and the false fame of acquired conquests, which a leader of banditti has as much right to arrogate as would the successful invader of kingdoms,— the character of General Kosciusko, under these views, presented itself to the writer as the completest exemplar for such a picture.
"Enthusiasm attempted to supply the pencil of genius, and though the portraiture be imperfectly sketched, yet its author has been gratified by the sympathy of readers, not only of her own people, but of those of distant nations; and that the principles of heroic virtue which she sought to inculcate in her narrative were pronounced by its great patriot subject, in a letter he addressed to herself, 'as worthy of his approbation and esteem,' seems, now that he is removed from all earthly influence, to sanction her paying that honest homage to his memory which delicacy forbade her doing while he lived.
"The first publication of this work was inscribed to a British hero, 'a land commander and a tar,' whose noble nature well deserved the title bestowed upon it by his venerable sovereign, George III., ('Coeur-de-Lion.') He, a brother in spirit, fully appreciated the character of Thaddeus Kosciusko, and the writer of this devoted tribute feels that she deepens the tints of honor on each name by thus associating them together. But may the tomb of the British hero be long in finding its place! That of the Polish patriot has already received its sacred deposit, and with the sincere oblation of a not quite stranger's heart, this poor offering is laid on the grave of him who fought for 'his country's freedom, laws, and native king;' who, when riches and a crown were proffered to himself by the then dictator of almost all Europe, declined both, because no price could buy the independence of an honest man.
"Such was General Kosciusko; such was the model of disinterestedness, of tempered valor, and of public virtue which his annalist sought to set forth in the foregoing pages; such was the man who honored their narrator with his approval and esteem! and in that last word she feels a privilege, but with due humility, to thus link some little memorial of herself to after times, by so uniting to the name of Thaddeus Kosciusko that of his humble but sincere aspirer to such themes,
"LONG-DITTON ON-THAMES, September, 1819."
Since the above inscription was first written and inscribed in the former edition, the brave and benign "Christian knight," the Coeur- de-Lion of our own times, has also been gathered to the tears of his country, and his monumental statue, as if standing on the victorious mount of St. Jean d'Acre, is now preparing to be set up, with its appropriate sacred trophies, in the great Naval Hall at Greenwich. It is understood that his mortal remains will be removed from the Pere la Chaise in Paris, where they now lie, to finally rest in St. Paul's Cathedral, where Nelson sleeps. Kosciusko's tomb is at Cracow, the ancient capital of Poland; and in the manner of its most ancient style of sepulchre, it appears an immense earthen tumulus, piled over the simple-mounded grave, which accumulating portions were severally borne to their hallowed place in the arms alone of each silent mourner, in a certain number of successive days, till the whole was raised into a grand pyramidal mass.
In looking back through the avenue of life to those periods the tale tells of, what events have occurred, public and private, to the countries and the individuals referred to in these memoranda! to persons of lofty names and excellence, both in our own and in other lands, mutually affected with admiration and regret for the virtues and the calamities described. It is an awful contemplation, and in sitting down in my now solitary chamber to its retrospection, I find that nearly half a century has passed since its transactions swept over Europe like a desolating blast. Then I wrote my little chronicle when the birthright independence of Poland was no more; when she lay in her ashes, and her mighty men were trodden into the dust; when the pall of death overspread the country, and her widows and her orphans wandered afar into the trackless wilderness of a barren world.
During this wide expatriation, some distinguished captives, who had fallen in the field, and were counted among the slain, having been found by the victors alive in their stiffened blood, were conveyed to various prisons; and along with these was discovered the justly feared, and not less justly deplored, General Kosciusko, who, though long unheard of by the lone wanderers of his scattered host, had been thus preserved by the supreme Lord of all, to behold again a remnant of his own brightened in hope, and comforted by the honoring sympathy of the good and brave in many nations.
Kosciusko was of noble birth, and early distinguished himself by his spirit and talents for the martial field. Indeed, owing to the belligerent position of Poland, situated in the midst of jealous and encroaching nations, arms was the natural profession of every gentleman in the kingdom, commerce and agriculture being the usual pursuits of the middle classes. But it happened, in the early manhood of Thaddeus Kosciusko, that the dangerous political Stromboli which surrounded his country, and often aroused an answering blaze in that since devoted land, slept in their fires; and Poland being at peace, her young military students, becoming desirous of practising their science in some actual campaign, resolved to try their strength across the Atlantic. Hearing of the war then just commenced between the British Colonies in America and the mother country, Kosciusko, as a deciding spirit amongst his ardent associates, brought them to this resolution. Losing no time, they embarked, passed over the wide ocean of the Western world, and landing safe and full of their object, offered their services to the army of independence. Having been readily accepted, and immediately applied to use, the extraordinary warrior talents of Kosciusko soon shone conspicuous, and were speedily honored by his being appointed special aide-de-camp to General Washington. His subsequent conduct in the camp and field was consonant to its beginning, and he became a distinguished general in rank and command long before his volunteered military services had terminated. When the war ended, in the peace of mutual concessions between the national parent and its children on a distant land, (a point that is the duty of all Christian states to consider, and to measure their ultimate conduct by,) the Poles returned to their own country, where they soon met circumstances which caused them to call forth their recently passed experience for her. But they had not departed from the newly-established American State without demonstrations of its warm gratitude; and Koscuisko, in particular, with his not less popular compatriot and friend, Niemcivitz, the soldier and the poet, bore away with them the pure esteem of the brave population, the sighs of private friendship, and the tears of an abiding regret from many fair eyes.
To recapitulate the memorable events of the threatened royal freedom of Poland, by the three formidable foreign powers confederated for its annihilation, and in repelling which General Kosciusko took so gallant a lead, is not here necessary to connect our memoranda concerning his unreceding struggles to maintain her political existence. They have already been sketched in the preceding little record of the actual scenes in which he and his equally devoted compeers held their indomitable resistance till the fatal issue. "Sarmatia lay in blood!" and the portion of that once great bulwark of civilized Europe was adjudged by the paricidal victors to themselves: a sentence like unto that passed on the worst of criminals was thus denounced against Christendom's often best benefactor, while the rest of Europe stood silently by, paralyzed or appalled, during the immediate execution of the noble victim.
But though dismembered and thrown out from the "map of nations" by the combination of usurping ambition and broken faith, and no longer to be regarded as one in its "proud cordon," Poland retained within herself (as has been well observed by a contemporary writer) "a mode of existence unknown till then in the history of the world—a domestic national vitality." Unknown, we may venture to say, except in one extraordinary yet easily and reverentially understood instance. We mean the sense of an integral national being, ever- living in the bosoms of the people of Israel, throughout all their different dispersions and captivities. And, perhaps, with respect to this principle of a moral, political, and filial life, still drawing its aliment from the inhumed heart of their mother-country, who, to them, "is not dead but sleepeth!" may be explained, in some degree, in reference to the above remark on the existing and individual feeling amongst the wanderers of Poland, by considering some of the best effects, latent in their "working together for good," in the deep experience of her ancient variously-constituted modes of civil government.
Under that of her early monarchs, the Piasts and their senate, she sat beneath an almost patriarchal sceptre, they being native and truly parental princes. John Sobieski was one of this description by descent and just rule. Under the Jagellon dynasty, also sprung from the soil, she held a yet more generalizing constitutional code, after which she gradually adopted certain republican forms, with an elective king—a strange contradiction in the asserted object, a sound system for political freedom, but which, in fact, contained the whole alchemy of a nation's "anarchical life," and ultimately produced the entire destruction of the state. From the established date of the elective monarchy, the kingdom became an arena for every species of ambitious rivalry, and its sure consequences, the interference of foreign influences; and hence rapidly advanced the decline of the true independent spirit of the land, to stand in her laws, and in her own political strength; her own impartial laws, the palladium of the people and a native king the parental guardian of their just administration. But, in sad process of time, "strangers of Rome, of Gaul, and of other nations," in whose veins not a drop of Sclavonian blood flowed, found means to successively seat themselves on the throne of the Piasts, the Jagellons, and the Sobieskis, of ancient Sarmatia; and the revered fabric fell, as by an earthquake, to be registered no more amongst the kingdoms of the world.
THE EARLY EDUCATION OF KOSCIUSKO AND HIS COMPATRIOTS, WITH ITS SUBSEQUENT EFFECTS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF THEIR LIVES.
Though their country appeared thus lost to them, they felt its kingdom still in their minds—in the bosom of memory, in the consciousness of an ancestry of bravery and of virtue; and though the soil had passed away from the feet of those whose ancestors of "sword or share" had trod it as sons and owners, and it now holds no place for them but their fathers' graves, yet the root is deep in such planting, and the tree, though invisible to the world, is seen and nourished in the depths of their hearts by the dews of heaven.
The pages of universal history, sacred and profane, ancient and modern, when opened with the conviction that He who made the world governs it also, will best explain the why of these changes in the destiny of nations; and within half of the latter part of the last century, and the nearly half of the present, awful have been the pages to be read. Hence we may understand the vital influence of the objects of education with regard to the principles inculcated, whether with relation to individual interest or to the generalized consideration of a people as a commonwealth or a kingdom. A kingdom and a commonwealth may be considered the same thing, when the power of both people and king are limited by just laws, established by the long exercised wisdom of the nation, holding the whole powers of the state in equilibrium; and in this sense, meaning "a royal commonwealth," comprising, as in England, "kings, lords, and commons," it is generally believed is intended to be understood the term, "The republic of Poland, with its king."
The Polish nation, however, under all their dominions of government, usually partook something of the policies and manners of the then existing times. Yet they were always distinguished by a particular chivalry of character, a brave freedom from all foreign and domestic vassalage, and a generous disposition to respect and to assist the neighboring nations to maintain the same independence they themselves enjoyed. Though actual schools, or colleges, or written lore, might not originally have had much to do with it, the continued practice of old, well-formed customs held them in "the ways their fathers walked in" and they found them those of "pleasantness" and true honor. But the time came when literary dictation was to take the place of oral tradition, and of habitual imitative reverence of the past. Schools and colleges were instituted, teaching for doctrines the prevailing sentiments of the endowers, or of the instructors employed. During the reigns of the later sovereigns of the Jagellon dynasty, Sigismund I. and II., and that of their predecessor, John Sobieski, the principles of these seminaries might be considered sound. But soon after the death of the last-named monarch, when the latent mischief contained in the Utopian idea of the perfection of an always elective monarchy began to shake the stability of even the monarchy itself, certain of the public teachers evinced correspondent signs of this destructive species of freemasonry; and about the same period the Voltaire venom of infidelity against all the laws of God and man being poured throughout the whole civilized world, the general effect had so banefully reached the seats of national instruction in Poland, that several of the most venerated personages, whose names have already been, commemorated in the preceding biographical story, congregated together to stem, by a counteracting current, the torrent where they saw it likely to overflow; to sap up its introduced sources, by obtaining the abolition of some of the most subtle and dangerous of the scholastic institutions, and the establishment of others in their room, on the sound foundation of moral and religious polity between men and nations.
The sole remaining princely descendants of the three just referred to, true patriot-monarchs, were the earliest awakened to resist the spirit of evil spreading amongst all classes in the nation. The Czartoryski and the Zamoyski race, both of the Jagellon line, and near kinsmen to the then newly raised monarch to the Polish throne, Stanislaus Poniatowski, appeared like twin stars over the darkened field, and the whole aspect of the country seemed speedily changed. A contemporary writer bears record that one hundred and twenty-seven provincial colleges were founded, perfected, and supported by them and their patriotic colleagues; while the University of Vilna was judiciously and munificently organized by its prince palatine, Adam Czartoryski himself, and a statute drawn up which declared it "an open high-school from the supreme board of public education for all the Polish provinces." Herein was every science exalting to the faculties of man, and conducive to his sacred aspirations, seriously and diligently inculcated; and every principle of morality and religion, purifying to his mixed nature, and therefore calculated to establish him in the answering conduct, truth, justice, and loyal obedience to the hereditary revered laws of the nation, equally instilled, qualifying him to uphold them, and to defend their freedom from all offensive operations at home or abroad, intended to subvert the purity of their code or the integrity of their administration. Such was the import of the implied vow on entering the university.
Amongst the gallant youths brought up in such a school of public virtue was Thaddeus Kosciusko and the young Timotheus Niemcivitz, his friend from youth to age. Kosciusko, as has already been said, was of noble parentage; and to be the son of a Polish nobleman was to be born a soldier, and its practical education, with sabre and lance, his daily pastime. But military studies were included in these various colleges, and the friends soon became as mutually expert in arms as they ever after continued severally distinguished in the fields of their country with sword or lyre. Besides, neither of the young cavaliers passed quite away from their alma mater without having each received the completing accolade of "true knighthood" by the stroke of "fealty to honor!" from the inaugurating sunbeam of some lovely woman's eye. Such befell the youthful Kosciusko, one bright evening, in a large and splendid circle of "the beautiful and brave" at Vilna; and it never lessened its full rays in his chivalric heart, from that hour devoted to the angel-like unknown who had shed them on him, and who had seemed to doubly consecrate the ardors of his soul to his country—her country—the country of all he loved and honored upon earth. How he wrought out this silent vow is a story of deep interest—equally faithful to his patriotic loyalty and to his ever-cherished love; and in some subsequent reminiscences of the hero, should the writer live to touch a Polish theme again, they may be related with additional honor to his memory.
Brief was the time after the preceding sealing scene of the young Kosciusko for his military vocation took place, before himself and his friend Niemcivitz—who had also received his "anointing spell," which he gayly declared came by more bright eyes than he would dare whisper to their possessors—made a joint arrangement to quit the study of arms, though thus cheered on by the Muses and the Graces, and at once enter the exercise in some actual field of rugged war. The newly-opened dispute between Great Britain and her colonies in North America seemed calculated for their honorable practice. Consulting some of their most respected friends, they speedily found means to cross the seas, and shared the first great campaign under Washington. The issue of that campaign, and those which followed it, need not be repeated here; suffice it to say, the hard-fought contest ended in a treaty of peace between the parent country and its contumacious offspring, in the year 1783, with England's acknowledgment of their independence, under the name of the United States of America.
The two gallant Poles returned to Europe, and onward to their own country, by a route tracked by former brave deeds; through France, Germany, and other lands, marked by the Gustavuses, the Montecuculi, the Turennes, the Condes, the Marlboroughs, the Eugenes, champions alike of national peace and national glory on those widely-extended plains and bulwarked frontiers, till the belligerent clouds of a still more threatening hostility than any of those repelled invasions were seen hovering luridly over their own beloved country. Warned thus, during their pleasant travel, of the coming events whose shadows seemed to rise on every side of Poland, in forms appalling to the luxurious, the avaricious, the indolently selfish, of every description in the land, but which only roused and nerved the hearts and arms of her two sons, courageous in the simplicity of their purpose—Poland's preservation! they hastened in that moment to her bosom.
The events of this her mortal struggle, in fast union with these faithful sons, and other filial hearts, commemorated in the foregoing narrative of Thaddeus Sobieski, need not be recapitulated here. It amply tells the fate of the great kingdom which had stood as with gates of brass, until the intestine rivalries of an elective monarchy—the worshipped idol alike of presumptuous private ambition and pretended patriotic liberality—the true masked priest of public anarchy—rent them asunder, and the watchful nations, ready for plunder and extended dominion, poured into them a flood like the rivers of Babylon, over all her walls and towers.
We have read that part of her bravest sons were swept away into distant lands; some to die in homeless exile, others to meet the honorable compassion and the cheering hopes of sympathy from a people like themselves, who had formerly fought the good fight for England's laws, liberties, and royal name in Europe. And some were shut up from the light of day in the fettered captivity of foreign prisons, until "the iron entered their souls." Amongst these noble captives were General Kosciusko and his faithful Achates, Niemcivitz, to whom might be justly applied the words of our bard of "The Seasons," affixed to the young brow of Sir Philip Sidney—
"The plume of war, with early chaplets crown'd The hero's laurel with the poet's bays."
But the Emperor Paul, on his accession to the throne of the Czars, as has before been noted, was too generous a captor to hold in cage so sweet a singing bird and so noble a lion; and he gave them liberty, appending to the act, dearest to a free-born heart, an imperial donation to Kosciusko that might have furnished him with a golden argosy all over the world. But the wounded son of Poland declined it in a manner worthy her name, and with an ingenuous gratitude towards the munificent sovereign who had offered it, not as a bribe for "golden opinions," but as a sincere tribute to high heroic virtue.
The writer of this note was informed of this fact many years ago, by a celebrated English banker, at that time at St. Petersburg, and corresponding between that city and London, with whom the imperial present had been lodged, and through whom General Kosciusko respectfully but decidedly declined its acceptance.
Then it was that, after halting a short time in England, he with his school and camp companion in so many changes, prepared a second crossing over the Atlantic, to revisit its victor President in his olive-grounds at Mount Vernon. But Niemcivitz had another errand. His roving Cupid had long settled its wing, and he eagerly sought to plight, before Heaven's altar in the church, the already sacred vow he had pledged to a fair daughter of that country while sharing the dangers of its battlefields.
It was with great difficulty the portcullis of a friendship strong as death had been raised in old chivalric Kent, to allow departure to so dear and honored a guest as he, who their master had seen fall in his memorable wounds on the plain of Brzesc. But he promised to return again, should the same sweet cherub that sat up aloft on his first voyage to America steer back his little bark in safety; and then he trusted to be once more clasped to the bosom of Poland, in that of his most beloved friend, a dweller in England. [Footnote: The portcullis, the gate, and the armorial crest of Beaufort has descended from the royal founder of the family, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.]
Besides this cherished heir of his earliest remembrances, there were other friends of olden days who had welcomed him with gladdening recollections. Amongst these was the family of Vanderhorst, originally of the Spanish Netherlands, who, from religious rather than political motives, had transferred themselves from certain persecutions in that land during times of papal tyranny to the shelter of the British colonies on the Transatlantic shore, and who, on the separation of those colonies into independent states from the mother country, had removed, in relative grateful duties, to the governing land of their early refuge, and were now dwelling here in prosperity and happy repose, when General Kosciusko set his honored foot on its sea-girt and virtue-bulwarked coast He was their former guest while at New York, and he readily accepted their eager invitation that he would revisit them in their new paternal country. At this period the head of the respected family resided at Bristol, in Queen's Square, (the Grosvenor Square of that opulent city,) and Mr. Vanderhorst inhabited one of the most superb mansions in it. General Kosciusko arrived at his worthy host's door on the 7th of June, 1797, and was greeted by the hearty embrace of his old friend and the blushingly-presented cheeks of his two daughters, young and lovely, in their teens. Their brother, a fine youth, pressed the hand of his father's gallant and revered guest to his lips. Niemcivitz, meanwhile, with dew-like tear-drops glittering over his joyous smiles, greeted every one with the affectionate recognition of a heart that seemed to know only to love. The writer, for one, shall never forget those tears and smiles on that venerable but ever kindly face; yet it was only in his old age that I first knew him. But sweet sisters, whom I began to know in your bright bloom, I can never forget those charming looks of reciprocating welcome that sprang alone from the fulness of a good and truthful virgin heart. They are now before me, though the eyes which then beamed so ingenuously on the honored countenance of the Polish hero are closed in death; or rather, shall I say, re-opened on him in a fairer and never-closing light.
He spent a happy week in that bright circle, in which the present commemorator has often since moved, and heard members of it over and over again describe its happy scenes; sometimes, the younger sister, my own especial friend; at other times the animated brother. The revered father has long been in his respected grave; and the elder sister, after an early marriage with an officer of distinction in the British army, breathed her last sigh in the island of Antigua, leaving an only child, a daughter, Cordelia Duncombe Taylor, a beautiful memorial of the surpassingly lovely mother and aunt from whom she is descended.
During the Bristol sojourn, brief as it was, numerous were the sincere votaries to simple-hearted public virtue who sought it to pay their homage to the modest hero within its hospitable walls. Rufus King, then diplomatic minister from the United States to Great Britain, and the accomplished Turnbull, by pen, pencil, and sword the celebrated compeer of General Washington in his fields of glory, was here also.
On the Polish chief's approach to the city becoming known, the above gentlemen, with its sheriffs, Penry and Edgar, and Colonel Sir George Thomas, commanding a regiment of dragoons in the vicinity, went out in procession to meet him, to give him honoring welcome to the British shores. Crowds of the neighboring gentry, in carriages or on horseback, thronged the cavalcade; and on each succeeding day, while he remained at Bristol, similar throngs of enthusiastic visitants congregated in the square to catch a moment's sight of him. The military band of the cavalry regiment attended every evening in the hall of Mr. Vanderhorst, to regale the honor-oppressed invalid with martial airs, from every land wherever a soldier's banner had waved.
But letters arrived from Mount Vernon. General Washington had become impatient for his expected guest, and the morning of his separation from his Bristol friends was fixed. The vessel in which he was to embark was inspected with scrupulous care; and from the state of some of his yet unhealed wounds, he was obliged to be conveyed from Queen's Square to the quay in a sedan-chair. Mr. Vanderhorst and his son preceded it on foot, and two military officers, Captains Whorwood and Ferguson, walked on each side, each with his helmet off and in his hand, resting them on the poles of the sedan as they moved along. The colonel and other personal friends of Mr. Vanderhorst, and admirers of his hero-guest, followed in the rear of the chair, and a respectful and self-organized rank and file of humbler station closed the procession to the waterside.
There he embarked in a lightly-manned boat, with a sail and rudder, a more precious freight than Caesar and his fortunes; for the Roman general crossed a barrier-river to subvert his country—Thaddeus Kosciusko a stream of refuge, after having sacrificed his all, though in vain, to preserve the independence of his native land. And thus the welcomed coming speeded parting guest took a grateful leave of the party who escorted him. They had seen him comfortably placed in the boat, and when it had put off, he and Niemcivitz, uncapped, extended their handkerchiefs, fluttering in the breeze, to them and the other bystanders, as the little sail gave bosom to the wind, and the farewell of this salution was answered with the warm and brave- hearted cheers of old British custom, and the waving of hats, which propitious sounds echoed back from cliff to cliff of the superb St. Vincent rocks that rampart the keys of the Bristol Avon.
All along the river, as the bark proceeded down, it was met, when within sight of any of the numerous merchant villas that adorned its banks, by pretty pleasure-skiffs, bringing votive presents of fruits and flowers to the brave voyagers on board. And then, while the wounded and fatigued veteran, as he lay on his pallet on the deck, was only able to bow his head with a gracious accepting smile to the respectful messengers, Niemcivitz stood at the prow, his then bright locks dallying with the sweet zephyrs from the gardened shores, and spoke the general's and his own heartfelt thanks, in a language of poetry that best accorded with his own glowing and his chiefs' gallant feelings, and the generous benedicite of the fair donators.
Onward the little vessel sped, until it reached the American ship afloat in King's Road, to convey its two noble passengers to the new republic, just established in the western hemisphere. That the well- remembered aid-de-camp of its boasted hero, Washington, was received with warrior honors, need not be here described. He rested that night under the variegated flag streaming from the topmast head, which his own volunteer arm had assisted to place there; and he thought of Poland and of England till he glided into a gentle sleep, and dreamed of both. By the following letter it may be seen that his eyes were visited next day by a sweet vision, in real personal existence, of the same kind beings whose recollections alone had so blandly soothed his pillow on the surge.
"Letter from General Kosciusko, to——Vanderhorst, Esq., &c., &c., &c. From the United States of America, No. 36 Queen's Square, Bristol.
"At sea," (but without further date; circumstances, however, establishing it to have been written on or about the 21st or 22d June, 1797.)
"IT is the subject for a drama only, where the actors can express with the action and words what may approach nearest to what was passed yesterday within us, that I try to write. We were highly pleased, it is true, and with uncommon satisfaction, to see the approach of your family in a boat to our ship. But how short was the duration of the pleasure! When separation took place, our hearts were melted in tears. And we were frightened at their return, with fears of what might happen to them upon a high sea in so small a boat. Every rising wave gave the greatest pain to our anxiety, and the extreme painfulness of our alarm even increased when we were so far off that we could not see them more.
"I must beg of you to give them a good reprimand. Their kind and sensible hearts passed the limits of safety for themselves, and gave us the most distressful emotions of soul. The sea was so rough, I am sure they must all be very sick. However, we send them the warmest thanks, with everlasting friendship and remembrance. Be pleased, also, to take for yourself our tender respects.
"Never shall I forget so kind reception of me in your house, nor the attentions of your friends. I am sensible that I gave to you and your amiable family a great trouble; but your goodness will not acknowledge it, and by so doing, it more impresses my mind with the obligation, and with a true answering affection for your whole family.
"I am, dear sir, with friendship and esteem, your most thankful and most obedient servant,
"I can nothing add to the feelings of my worthy friend but that I wish to the respectable and beautiful family of Vanderhorst all the happiness that virtue and the most excellent qualities of the heart can deserve.
"The fair deity—I mean Mister Cupid—desires his best compliments to you all."
This tender yet playful postscript from the young soldier votary of Cupid and the muse is evidently appended in the gayety of an affectionate heart, speeding to the land of his own lady-love, shortly to become his bride after his arrival, and which was so consummated. Kosciusko never swerved from his soul's loyalty to the bright Polish Laura of his cherished devotedness; and his subsequent correspondence, one of pure, unselfish friendship, with the youngest daughter of his venerable Anglo-American friend, lovely as she was pure, confided to her how faithful had been his heart's allegiance to the woman of his first and last vows. They had met during his track of early military fame, and had exchanged these vows. But blighting circumstances interfered, and they lived, and loved, but never met again.
The narrator of these little reminiscences might well, perhaps most agreeably, drop the curtain here; for strange and stirring incidents awaited the two friends on their return to Europe, after a rather prolonged sojourn amongst the animated hospitalities of a grateful people.
The homeward side of that curtain was wrought in mingled fabric, gold, silver, and various threaded yarns; and many were the different hands that threw the shuttles—emperors, kings, princes, friends, traitors; but above all, in the depth of mischief, the spirit of suspicion had steeped the web.
Such was the lurid appearance of the great drama of Europe when Kosciusko and Niemcivitz set foot again upon its shores. Death had thrown his pall over some in high places and others in low. But more cheering suns soon arose, to scare away the darkening shadows, and the patriot heroes' hopes ascended with them. How some were honored, some deceived in the observance, need not lengthen out our present pages; suffice it to say that there were stars then rising on the horizon which promised fairer elements.
It may be recollected that at the signing of the partition of Poland by the benumbed Senate, on the fatal day of its political decease the young prince Adam Czartoryski, the eldest son of the justly-renowned and virtuous palatine of Vilna, who had been so signal a benefactor to his country by the endowment and reformation of its chief schools, was sent out a hostage to Russia, in seal of the then final resignation. His education had been noble, like the principles of those schools in the foundation of which the brave, illustrious and also erudite Lithuanian family of Krasinski had been eminent sharers. [Footnote: Count Valerian Krasinski, a distinguished son of this house, has long been an honored guest in England, and held in high literary respect for his veritable and admirable works, written in fine English: "The Times of Philip Augustus," and "The History of the Protestant Reformation in Poland." The writer of this note knows that he has in his possession some beautiful manuscript tales, descriptive of the manners of Poland; one called "Amoina," a most remarkable story; another, entitled, "My Grandmamma," full of interesting matter, written as a solace in occasional rests from severer literary occupations. And she laments that he has not yet allowed himself to be prevailed on to give any of these touching and elegant reminiscences to his English readers.] The young prince's manners were equally noble with his principles, and not long in attracting the most powerful eyes in the empire. During the remainder of the reign of the Empress Catharine, she caused him to be treated with protective kindness, and on her demise he was instantly removed by the Emperor Paul from whatever surveillance had been left over him, into the imperial palace of St. Petersburg, where this justly-admired princely student of Vilna was to be the constant inmate and companion of the youthful Alexander, the eldest son and heir of the empire.
Their studies, their amusements, were shared together; and they soon became friends like brothers. About the same time, as has before been related, Paul had given freedom to General Kosciusko and his compatriot Niemcivitz. And still, after the death of that mysteriously-destined sovereign, a halcyon sky seemed to hold its bland aspects over Russia's Sclavonian sister people, ancient Sarmatia. But ere long the scene changed, and the "seething-pot" of a universal ambition, the crucible of nations, grasped by the hand of Napoleon, began again to darken the world's atmosphere.
Kosciusko now looked on, sometimes with yet struggling hopes, then with well-founded convictions that "the doom was not yet spent;" and no more to be deluded one way or another, while such shifting grounds and sudden earthquakes were erupting the earth under his feet, like the prophet of old, boding worse things to come, he withdrew himself far into the solitudes of nature, into the wide yet noiseless temple of God, where the prayer of an honest man's heart might be heard and answered by that all-merciful and all-wise Being, who sometimes leaves proud men to themselves, to the lawless, headlong driving of their arrogant passions, to show them, in the due turn of events, what a vicious self-aggrandizing, abhorrent and despicable monster in human shape such a noble creature, when turned from the divine purpose of his creation, may become. To such contemplations, and to the repose of a mind and conscience at peace with itself, did the once, nay, ever-renowned hero of Poland, retire into the most sequestered mountains of Switzerland. A few friends, of the same closed accounts with the world, congregated around him; and there he dwelt several years, beloved and revered, as, indeed, he was wherever he planted his pilgrim staff.
He died at Soleure, in the house of a friend, Mr. Zeltner, in consequence of a fall from his horse while taking a solitary ride. He was buried there with every demonstration of respect in the power of the simple inhabitants to bestow. But the Emperor Alexander, on hearing of the event, would not allow remains so honorable to be divided from the land of their birth; and such high and sincere homage to the undaunted heroism and universally acknowledged integrity of the lamented dead found no difficulty in obtaining the distinguishing object sought, that of transferring his virtue- consecrated relics to the shrine of ancient Christian Poland, the city of Cracow, and there reinterring them in the great royal cemetery of the most revered patriots of the kingdom.
Years rolled on over the head and heart of the patriot and the bard, Niemcivitz, the ever "faithful Achates" of his friend and his country, even after, to his bereaved heart, he had survived both. He had also become a widower. His gentle and delicate wife went to revisit her native climate in the United States, but died there. On his return thence to Europe, the consolations of a fraternal friendship, in the bosoms of his noble countrymen, who had become adopted denizens of free and happy England, vainly sought to retain him with them. Sorrow in a breast of his temperament cannot find rest in any place. His shining locks, once likened to those of Hyperion, became frosted by an age of wandering as well as of sadness; and the till then joyous and ever-tender heart of the sweetest poet of Sclavonian birth breathed its last sigh in Paris, in the summer of 1841. It was on the first of June; and on the eighth of the month he was buried with military honors and all the distinguishing rites of the national church. The funeral service was performed by the Archbishop of Chalcidonia, with a large body of the clergy attending. A choir of fifty professors sung the mass, and more than a thousand persons thronged the procession—persons of all nations, of all creeds, religious or political, of every rank amongst men, of every mind, from the prince to the peasant, that understood the true value of genius when helmed by virtue, either on the land or on the wave; whether in the field or in the cabinet; in the student's closet, or in the duties of domestic home.
Such a man was Niemcivitz. So was he wept; so will he be remembered, proving, indeed, most convincingly, that there is a standard set up in men's hearts, if they would but look to it, which, whatever be their minor clashing opinions, shows that the truly great and good in this earth are all of one family in the estimation of pure intellect, the spiritual organ of all just estimation, which is, in fact, that of the kingdom of heaven—that kingdom which, if its laws to man were properly preserved and obeyed, would spread the shepherds' promised "peace and good-will to all mankind." But men may listen, approve, and admire, and yet withhold obedience. But why will the heirs of such a covenant, with sight and hearing, die from its inheritance?
Kosciusko and Niemcivitz were real appreciators of so rich a birthright in "the better country!" and now are gone to Him who purchased it by His most precious blood, to enter with Him forever into its peaceful and glorious rest.
BRISTOL, SEPTEMBER 1845.