But, instead of approaching nearer the court, he retreated into one of the most obscure corners of the city: where, again changing both his name and his dress, in order to act a new part, he caused bills to be dispersed, giving notice of "The recent arrival of a famous German doctor, who, by long application and experience, had found out wonderful secrets, and infallible remedies."
[Bishop Burnet confirms this account.—"Being under an unlucky accident, which obliged him to keep out of the way, he disguised himself so, that his nearest friends could not have known him, and set up in Tower Street for an Italian mountebank, where he practised physic for some weeks, not without success. In his latter years he read books of history more. He took pleasure to disguise himself as a porter, or as a beggar; sometimes to follow some mean amours, which, for the variety of them, he affected. At other times, merely for diversion, he would go about in odd shapes; in which he acted his part so naturally, that even those who were in the secret, and saw him in these shapes, could perceive nothing by which he might be discovered."—Burnet's Life of Rochester, ed. 1774, p. 14.]
His secrets consisted in knowing what was past, and foretelling what was to come, by the assistance of astrology: and the virtue of his remedies principally consisted in giving present relief to unfortunate young women in all manner of diseases, and all kinds of accidents incident to the fair sex, either from too unbounded charity to their neighbours, or too great indulgence to themselves.
His first practice being confined to his neighbourhood, was not very considerable; but his reputation soon extending to the other end of the town, there presently flocked to him the women attending on the court, next, the chamber-maids of ladies of quality, who, upon the wonders they related concerning the German doctor, were soon followed by some of their mistresses.
Among all the compositions of a ludicrous and satirical kind, there never existed any that could be compared to those of Lord Rochester, either for humour, fire, or wit; but, of all his works, the most ingenious and entertaining is that which contains a detail of the intrigues and adventures in which he was engaged while he professed medicine and astrology in the suburbs of London.
The fair Jennings was very near getting a place in this collection; but the adventure that prevented her from it, did not, however, conceal from the public her intention of paying a visit to the German doctor.
The first chamber-maids that consulted him were only those of the maids of honour; who had numberless questions to ask, and not a few doubts to be resolved, both upon their own and their mistresses' accounts. Notwithstanding their disguise, he recognised some of them, particularly Miss Temple's and Miss Price's maids, and her whom Miss Hobart had lately discarded: these creatures all returned either filled with wonder and amazement, or petrified with terror and fear. Miss Temple's chamber-maid deposed that he assured her she would have the small-pox, and her mistress the great, within two months at farthest, if her aforesaid mistress did not guard against a man in woman's clothes. Miss Price's woman affirmed that, without knowing her, and only looking in her hand, he told her at first sight that, according to the course of the stars, he perceived that she was in the service of some good-natured lady, who had no other fault than loving wine and men. In short, every one of them, struck with some particular circumstance relating to their own private affairs, had either alarmed or diverted their mistresses with the account, not failing, according to custom, to embellish the truth, in order to enhance the wonder.
Miss Price, relating these circumstances one day to her new friend, the devil immediately tempted her to go in person, and see what sort of a creature this new magician was. This enterprise was certainly very rash; but nothing was too rash for Miss Jennings, who was of opinion that a woman might despise appearances, provided she was in reality virtuous. Miss Price was all compliance, and thus having fixed upon this glorious resolution, they only thought of the proper means of putting it into execution.
It was very difficult for Miss Jennings to disguise herself, on account of her excessive fair and bright complexion, and of something particular in her air and manner: however, after having well considered the matter the best disguise they could think of was to dress themselves like orange girls.
[These frolics appear to have been not unfrequent with persons of high rank at this period. In a letter from Mr. Henshaw to Sir Robert Paston, afterwards Earl of Yarmouth, dated October 13, 1670, we have the following account: "Last week, there being a faire neare Audley-end, the queen, the Dutchess of Richmond, and the Dutchess of Buckingham, had a frolick to disguise themselves like country lasses, to red petticoats, wastcotes, &c., and so goe see the faire. Sir Barnard Gascoign, on a cart jade, rode before the queen; another stranger before the Dutchess of Buckingham; and Mr. Roper before Richmond. They had all so overdone it in their disguise, and looked so much more like antiques than country volk, that, as soon as they came to the faire, the people began to goe after them; but the queen going to a booth, to buy a pair of yellow stockings for her sweet hart, and Sir Bernard asking for a pair of gloves sticht with blew, for his sweet hart, they were soon, by their gebrish, found to be strangers, which drew a bigger flock about them. One amongst them had seen the queen at dinner, knew her, and was proud of her knowledge. This soon brought all the faire into a crowd to stare at the queen. Being thus discovered, they, as soon as they could, got to their horses; but as many of the faire as had horses got up, with their wives, children, sweet harts, or neighbours, behind them, to get as much gape as they could, till they brought them to the court gate. Thus, by ill conduct, was a merry frolick turned into a penance."—I've's Select Papers, p. 39.
Bishop Burnet says, "at this time, (1668) the court fell into much extravagance in masquerading: both the king and queen, all the court, went about masked, and came into houses unknown, and danced there, with a great deal of wild frolic. In all this people were so disguised, that, without being in the secret, none could distinguish them. They were carried about in hackney chairs. Once the queen's chairmen, not knowing who she was, went from her. So she was alone, and was much disturbed, and came to Whitehall in a hackney coach; some say in a cart."—Burnet's History, vol. i., p. 368.]
This was no sooner resolved upon, but it was put in execution they attired themselves alike, and, taking each a basket of oranges under their arms, they embarked in a hackney coach, and committed themselves to fortune, without any other escort than their own caprice and indiscretion.
The duchess was gone to the play with her sister: Miss Jennings had excused herself under pretence of indisposition she was overjoyed at the happy commencement of their adventure; for they had disguised themselves, had crossed the Park, and taken their hackney coach at Whitehall gate, without the least accident. They mutually congratulated each other upon it, and Miss Price, taking a beginning so prosperous as a good omen of their success, asked her companion what they were to do at the fortune-teller's, and what they should propose to him.
Miss Jennings told her that, for her part, curiosity was her principal inducement for going thither; that, however, she was resolved to ask him, without naming any person, why a man, who was in love with a handsome young lady, was not urgent to marry her, since this was in his power to do, and by so doing he would have an opportunity of gratifying his desires. Miss Price told her, smiling, that, without going to the astrologer, nothing was more easy than to explain the enigma, as she herself had almost given her a solution of it in the narrative of the Duchess of Cleveland's adventures.
Having by this time nearly arrived at the playhouse, Miss Price, after a moment's reflection, said, that since fortune favoured them, a fair opportunity was now offered to signalize their courage, which was to go and sell oranges in the very playhouse, in the sight of the duchess and the whole court. The proposal being worthy of the sentiments of the one, and of the vivacity of the other, they immediately alighted, paid off their hack, and, running through the midst of an immense number of coaches, with great difficulty they reached the playhouse door. Sidney, more handsome than the beautiful Adonis, and dressed more gay than usual, alighted just then from his coach: Miss Price went boldly up to him, as he was adjusting his curls; but he was too much occupied with his own dear self to attend to anything else, and so passed on without deigning to give her an answer. Killegrew came next, and the fair Jennings, partly encouraged by the other's pertness, advanced towards him, and offered him her basket, whilst Price, more used to the language, desired him to buy her fine oranges. "Not now," said he, looking at them with attention; "but if thou wilt to-morrow morning bring this young girl to my lodgings, I will make it worth all the oranges in London to thee" and while he thus spoke to the one he chucked the other under the chin, examining her bosom. These familiarities making little Jennings forget the part she was acting, after having pushed him away with all the violence she was able, she told him with indignation that it was very insolent to dare—"Ha! ha!" said he, "here's a rarity indeed! a young w——, who, the better to sell her goods, sets up for virtue, and pretends innocence!"
Price immediately perceived that nothing could be gained by continuing any longer in so dangerous a place; and, taking her companion under the arm, she dragged her away, while she was still in emotion at the insult that had been offered to her.
Miss Jennings, resolving to sell no more oranges on these terms, was tempted to return, without accomplishing the other adventure; but Price having represented to her the disgrace of such cowardly behaviour, more particularly after having before manifested so much resolution, she consented to go and pay the astrologer a short visit, so as they might be enabled to regain the palace before the play was ended.
They had one of the doctor's bills for a direction, but there was no occasion for it; for the driver of the coach they had taken told them he knew very well the place they wanted, for he had already carried above an hundred persons to the German doctor's: they were within half a street of his house, when fortune thought proper to play them a trick.
Brounker had dined by chance with a merchant in that part of the city, and just as he was going away they ordered their coach to stop, as ill-luck would have it, just opposite to him. Two orange girls in a hackney coach, one of whom appeared to have a very pretty face, immediately drew his attention; besides, he had a natural curiosity for such objects.
[Gentleman of the chamber to the Duke of York, and brother to Lord Viscount Brounker, president of the royal society. Lord Clarendon imputes to him the cause of the great sea-fight, in 1665, not being so well improved as it might have been, and adds, "nor did the duke come to hear of it till some years after, when Mr. Brounker's ill course of life, and his abominable nature, had rendered him so odious, that it was taken notice of in parliament, and, upon examination, found to be true, as is here related; upon which he was expelled the house of commons, whereof he was a; member, as an infamous person, though his friend Coventry adhered to him, and used many indirect acts to have protected him, and afterwards procured him to have more countenance from the king than most men thought he deserved; being a person, throughout his whole life, never notorious for anything but the highest degree of impudence, and stooping to the most infamous offices, and playing very well at chess, which preferred him more than the most virtuous qualities could have done."—Continuation of Clarendon's Life, p. 270.]
Of all the men at court, he had the least regard for the fair sex, and the least attention to their reputation: he was not young, nor was his person agreeable; however, with a great deal of wit he had a violent passion for women. He did himself justice respecting his own merit; and, being persuaded that he could only succeed with those who were desirous of having his money, he was at open war with all the rest. He had a little country-house four or five miles from London always well stocked with girls: in other respects he was a very honest man, and the best chess-player in England.
Price, alarmed at being thus closely examined by the most dangerous enemy they could encounter, turned her head the other way, bid her companion do the same, and told the coachman to drive on. Brounker followed them unperceived on foot; and the coach having stopped twenty or thirty yards farther up the street, they alighted. He was just behind them, and formed the same judgment of them which a man much more charitable to the sex must unavoidably have done, concluding that Miss Jennings was a young courtesan upon the look-out, and that Miss Price was the mother-abbess. He was, however, surprised to see them have much better shoes and stockings than women of that rank generally wear, and that the little orange girl, in getting out of a very high coach, showed one of the handsomest legs he had ever seen: but as all this was no obstruction to his designs, he resolved to purchase her at any rate, in order to place her in his seraglio.
He came up to them, as they were giving their baskets in guard to the coachman, with orders to wait for them exactly in that place. Brounker immediately pushed in between them: as soon as they saw him, they gave themselves up for lost; but he, without taking the least notice of their surprise, took Price aside with one hand, and his purse with the other, and began immediately to enter upon business, but was astonished to perceive that she turned away her face, without either answering or looking at him: As this conduct appeared to him unnatural, he stared her full in the face, notwithstanding all her endeavours to prevent him: he did the same to the other: and immediately recognised them, but determined to conceal his discovery.
The old fox possessed a wonderful command of temper on such occasions, and having teazed them a little longer to remove all suspicions he quitted them, telling Price; "That she was a great fool to refuse his offers, and that her girl would not, perhaps, get so much in a year, as she might with him in one day; that the times were greatly changed, since the queen's and the duchess's maids of honour forestalled the market, and were to be had cheaper than the town ladies." Upon this he went back to his coach, whilst they blessed themselves, returning heaven their most hearty thanks for having escaped this danger without being discovered.
Brounker, on the other hand, would not have taken a thousand guineas for this rencounter: he blessed the Lord that he had not alarmed them to such a degree as to frustrate their intention; for he made no doubt but Miss Price had managed some intrigue for Miss Jennings: he therefore immediately concluded, that at present it would be improper to make known his discovery, which would have answered no other end but to have overwhelmed them with confusion.
Upon this account, although Jermyn was one of his best friends, he felt a secret joy in not having prevented his being made a cuckold, before his marriage; and the apprehension he was in of preserving him from that accident, was his sole reason for quitting them with the precautions aforementioned.
Whilst they were under these alarms, their coachman was engaged in a squabble with some blackguard boys, who had gathered round his coach in order to steal the oranges: from words they came to blows: the two nymphs saw the commencement of the fray as they were returning to the coach, after having abandoned the design of going to the fortuneteller's. Their coachman being a man of spirit, it was with great difficulty they could persuade him to leave their oranges to the mob, that they might get off without any further disturbance: having thus regained their hack, after a thousand frights, and after having received an abundant share of the most low and infamous abuse applied to them during the fracas, they at length reached St. James's, vowing never more to go after fortune-tellers, through so many dangers, terrors, and alarms, as they had lately undergone.
Brounker, who, from the indifferent opinion he entertained of the fair sex, would have staked his life that Miss Jennings did not return from this expedition in the same condition she went, kept his thoughts, however, a profound secret; since it would have afforded him the highest satisfaction to have seen the all-fortunate Jermyn marry a little street-walker, who pretended to pass for a pattern of chastity, that he might, the day after his marriage, congratulate him upon his virtuous spouse; but heaven was not disposed to afford him that satisfaction, as will appear in the sequel of these memoirs.
Miss Hamilton was in the country, as we before mentioned, at a relation's: the Chevalier de Grammont bore this short absence of hers with great uneasiness, since she would not allow him permission to visit her there, upon any pretence whatever; but play, which was favourable to him, was no small relief to his extreme impatience.
Miss Hamilton, however, at last returned. Mrs. Wetenhall (for that was the name of her relation) would by all means wait upon her to London, in appearance out of politeness; for ceremony, carried beyond all bearing, is the grand characteristic of country gentry: yet this mark of civility was only a pretence, to obtain a peevish husband's consent to his wife's journey to town. Perhaps he would have done himself the honour of conducting Miss Hamilton up to London, had he not been employed in writing some remarks upon the ecclesiastical history, a work in which he had long been engaged: the ladies were more civil than to interrupt him in his undertaking, and besides, it would entirely have disconcerted all Mrs. Wetenhall's schemes.
This lady was what may be properly called a beauty, entirely English, made up of lilies and roses, of snow and milk, as to colour; and of wax, with respect to the arms, hands, neck, and feet, but all this without either animation or air; her face was uncommonly pretty; but there was no variety, no change of countenance in it: one would have thought she took it in the morning out of a case, in order to put it up again at night, without using it in the smallest degree in the daytime. What can I say of her! nature had formed her a baby from her infancy, and a baby remained till death the fair Mrs. Wetenhall. Her husband had been destined for the church; but his elder brother dying just at the time he had gone through his studies of divinity, instead of taking orders, he came to England, and took to wife Miss Bedingfield, the lady of whom we are now speaking.
His person was not disagreeable, but he had a serious contemplative air, very apt to occasion disgust: as for the rest, she might boast of having one of the greatest theologists in the kingdom for her husband: he was all day poring over his books, and went to bed soon, in order to rise early; so that his wife found him snoring when she came to bed, and when he arose he left her there sound asleep: his conversation at table would have been very brisk, if Mrs. Wetenhall had been as great a proficient in divinity, or as great a lover of controversy, as he was; but being neither learned in the former, nor desirous of the latter, silence reigned at their table, as absolutely as at a refectory.
She had often expressed a great desire to see London; but though they were only distant a very short day's journey from it, she had never been able to satisfy her curiosity: it was not therefore without reason, that she grew weary of the life she was forced to lead at Peckham. The melancholy retired situation of the place was to her insupportable; and as she had the folly, incident to many other women, of believing sterility to be a kind of reproach, she was very much hurt to see that she might fall under that suspicion; for she was persuaded, that although heaven had denied her children, she nevertheless had all the necessary requisites on her part, if it had been the will of the Lord. This had occasioned her to make some reflections, and then to reason upon those reflections; as for instance, that since her husband chose rather to devote himself to his studies, than to the duties of matrimony, to turn over musty old books, rather than attend to the attractions of beauty, and to gratify his own pleasures, rather than those of his wife, it might be permitted her to relieve some necessitous lover, in neighbourly charity, provided she could do it conscientiously, and to direct her inclinations in so just a, manner, that the evil spirit should have no concern in it. Mr. Wetenhall, a zealous partisan for the doctrine of the casuists, would not perhaps have approved of these decisions; but he was not consulted.
The greatest misfortune was, that neither solitary Peckham nor its sterile neighbourhood, presented any expedients, either for the execution of the afore-mentioned design, or for the relief of poor Mrs. Wetenhall: she was visibly pining away, when, through fear of dying either with solitude or of want, she had recourse to Miss Hamilton's commiseration.
Their first acquaintance was formed at Paris, whither Mr. Wetenhall had taken his wife half a year after they were married, on a journey thither to buy books: Miss Hamilton, who from that very time greatly pitied her, consented to pass some time in the country with her, in hopes by that visit to deliver her, for a short time at least, out of her captivity; which project succeeded according to her wish.
The Chevalier de Grammont, being informed of the day on which they were to arrive, borne on the wings of love and impatience, had engaged George Hamilton to go with him, and meet them some miles out of London. The equipage he had prepared for the purpose, corresponded with his usual magnificence; and on such an occasion, we may reasonably suppose he had not neglected his person: however, with all his impatience, he checked the ardour of the coachman, through fear of accidents, rightly judging that upon a road prudence is preferable to eagerness. The ladies at length appeared, and Miss Hamilton, being in his eyes, ten or twelve times more handsome than before her departure from London, he would have purchased with his life so kind a reception as she gave her brother.
Mrs. Wetenhall had her share of the praises, which at this interview were liberally bestowed upon her beauty, for which her beauty was very thankful to those who did it so much honour; and as Hamilton regarded her with a tender attention, she regarded Hamilton as a man very well qualified for putting in execution the little projects she had concerted with her conscience.
As soon as she was in London, her head was almost turned, through an excess of contentment and felicity: everything appeared like enchantment to her in this superb city; more particularly, as in Paris she had never seen anything farther than the Rue Saint Jacques, and a few booksellers' shops. Miss Hamilton entertained her at her own house, and she was presented, admired, and well received at both courts.
The Chevalier de Grammont, whose gallantry and magnificence were inexhaustible, taking occasion, from this fair stranger's arrival, to exhibit his grandeur, nothing was to be seen but balls, concerts, plays, excursions by land and by water, splendid collations and sumptuous entertainments: Mrs. Wetenhall was transported with pleasures, of which the greatest part were entirely new to her; she was greatly delighted with all, except now and then at a play, when tragedy was acted, which she confessed she thought rather wearisome: she agreed, however, that the show was very interesting, when there were many people killed upon the stage, but thought the players were very fine handsome fellows, who were much better alive than dead.
Hamilton, upon the whole, was pretty well treated by her, if a man in love, who is never satisfied until the completion of his wishes, could confine himself within the bounds of moderation and reason: he used all his endeavours to determine her to put in execution the projects she had formed at Peckham: Mrs. Wetenhall, on the other hand, was much pleased with him. This is the Hamilton who served in the French army with distinction; he was both agreeable and handsome. All imaginable opportunities conspired to favour the establishment of an intimacy, whose commencement had been so brisk, that in all probability it would not languish for a conclusion; but the more he pressed her to it, the more her resolution began to fail, and regard for some scruples, which she had not well weighed, kept her in suspense: there was reason to believe that a little perseverance would have removed these obstacles; yet this at the present time was not attempted. Hamilton, not able to conceive what could prevent her from completing his happiness, since in his opinion the first and greatest difficulties of an amour were already overcome, with respect to the public, resolved to abandon her to her irresolutions, instead of endeavouring to conquer them by a more vigorous attack. It was not consistent with reason, to desist from an enterprise, where so many prospects of success presented themselves, for such inconsiderable obstacles; but he suffered himself to be intoxicated with chimeras and visions, which unseasonably cooled the vigour of his pursuit, and led him astray in another unprofitable undertaking.
[I apprehend he is the same George Hamilton already described, who married Miss Jennings, and not the author of this work, as Lord Orford supposes. In a letter from Arlington to Sir William Godolphin, dated September 7, 1671, it is said, "the Conde de Molina complains to us of certain levies Sir George Hamilton hath made in Ireland. The king hath always told him he had no express license for it; and I have told the Conde he must not find it strange that a gentleman who had been bred the king's page abroad, and losing his employment at home, for being a Roman Catholic, should have some more than ordinary connivance towards the making his fortune abroad by the countenance of his friends and relations in Ireland: and yet take the matter in the worst sense he could give, it would not amount to the breach of any article betwixt the king my master and the court of Spain."—Arlington's letters, vol. ii., p. 332. In a letter from the same nobleman to Lord Sandwich, written about October, 1667, we find the cause of Sir George Hamilton's entering into the French service "Concerning the reformadoes of the guards of horse, his majesty thought fit, the other day, to have them dismissed, according to his promise, made to the parliament at the last session. Mr. Hamilton had a secret overture made him, that he, with those men, should be welcome into the French service; his majesty, at their dismissal, having declared they should have leave to go abroad whither they pleased." They accepted of Mr. Hamilton's offer to carry them into France. "Arlington's Letters," vol. i., p. 185. Lodge, in his Peerage of Ireland, says, Sir George Hamilton died in 1667, which, from the first extract above, appears to be erroneous. He has evidently confounded the father and son; the former of whom was the person who died in 1667.]
I know not whether poor Wetenhall took the blame upon herself; but it is certain, she was extremely mortified upon it. Soon after being obliged to return to her cabbages and turkeys at Peckham, she had almost gone distracted: that residence appeared a thousand times more dreadful to her, since she had been initiated into the amusements of London; but as the queen was to set out within a month for Tunbridge Wells, she was obliged to yield to necessity, and return to the philosopher, Wetenhall, with the consolation of having engaged Miss Hamilton to come and live at her house, which was within ten or twelve miles of Tunbridge, as long as the court remained there.
Miss Hamilton promised not to abandon her in her retirement, and further engaged to bring the Chevalier de Grammont along with her, whose humour and conversation extremely delighted her. The Chevalier de Grammont, who on all occasions started agreeable raillery, engaged on his part to bring George Hamilton, which words overwhelmed her with blushes. The court set out soon after to pass about two months in the place of all Europe the most rural and simple, and yet, at the same time, the most entertaining and agreeable. Tunbridge is the same distance from London, that Fontainebleau is from Paris, and is, at the season, the general rendezvous of all the gay and handsome of both sexes. The company, though always numerous, is always select: since those who repair thither for diversion, ever exceed the number of those who go thither for health. Everything there breathes mirth and pleasure: constraint is banished, familiarity is established upon the first acquaintance, and joy and pleasure are the sole sovereigns of the place.
The company are accommodated with lodgings in little, clean, and convenient habitations, that lie straggling and separated from each other, a mile and a half all round the Wells, where the company meet in the morning: this place consists of a long walk, shaded by spreading trees, under which they walk while they are drinking the waters: on one side of this walk is a long row of shops, plentifully stocked with all manner of toys, lace, gloves, stockings, and where there is raffling, as at Paris, in the Foire de Saint Germain: on the other side of the walk is the market; and, as it is the custom here for every person to buy their own provisions, care is taken that nothing offensive appears on the stalls. Here young, fair, fresh-coloured country girls, with clean linen, small straw hats, and neat shoes and stockings, sell game, vegetables, flowers and fruit: here one may live as one pleases: here is, likewise, deep play, and no want of amorous intrigues. As soon as the evening comes, every one quits his little palace to assemble at the bowling-green, where, in the open air, those who choose, dance upon a turf more soft and smooth than the finest carpet in the world.
Lord Muskerry had, within two or three short miles of Tunbridge, a very handsome seat called Summer-hill: Miss Hamilton, after having spent eight or ten days at Peckham, could not excuse herself from passing the remainder of the season at his house; and, having obtained leave of Mr. Wetenhall, that his lady should accompany her, they left the melancholy residence of Peckham, and its tiresome master, and fixed their little court at Summer-hill.
They went every day to court, or the court came to them. The queen even surpassed her usual attentions in inventing and supporting entertainments: she endeavoured to increase the natural ease and freedom of Tunbridge, by dispensing with, rather than requiring, those ceremonies that were due to her presence; and, confining in the bottom of her heart that grief and uneasiness she could not overcome, she saw Miss Stewart triumphantly possess the affections of the king without manifesting the least uneasiness.
Never did love see his empire in a more flourishing condition than on this spot: those who were smitten before they came to it, felt a mighty augmentation of their flame; and those who seemed the least susceptible of love, laid aside their natural ferocity, to act in a new character. For the truth of the latter, we shall only relate the change which soon appeared in the conduct of Prince Rupert.
[Lord Orford's contrast to this character of Prince Rupert is too just to be here omitted. "Born with the taste of an uncle whom his sword was not fortunate in defending, Prince Rupert was fond of those sciences which soften and adorn a hero's private hours, and knew how to mix them with his minutes of amusement, without dedicating his life to their pursuit, like us, who, wanting capacity for momentous views, make serious study of what is only the transitory occupation of a genius. Had the court of the first Charles been peaceful, how agreeably had the prince's congenial propensity flattered and confirmed the inclination of his uncle! How the muse of arts would have repaid the patronage of the monarch, when, for his first artist, she would have presented him with his nephew! How different a figure did the same prince make in a reign of dissimilar complexion! The philosophic warrior, who could relax himself into the ornament of a refined court, was thought a savage mechanic, when courtiers were only voluptuous wits. Let me transcribe a picture of Prince Rupert, drawn by a man who was far from having the least portion of wit in that age, who was superior to its indelicacy, and who yet was so overborne by its prejudices, that he had the complaisance to ridicule virtue, merit, talents. —But Prince Rupert, alas! was an awkward lover!" Lord Orford here inserts the character in the text, and then adds, "What pity that we, who wish to transmit this prince's resemblance to posterity on a fairer canvas, have none of these inimitable colours to efface the harsher likeness! We can but oppose facts to wit, truth to satire. —How unequal the pencils! yet what these lines cannot do they may suggest: they may induce the reader to reflect, that if the prince was defective in the transient varnish of a court, he at least was adorned by the arts with that polish which alone can make a court attract the attention of subsequent ages."—Catalogue of Engravers, p 135, 8vo ed.]
He was brave and courageous, even to rashness; but cross-grained and incorrigibly obstinate: his genius was fertile in mathematical experiments, and he possessed some knowledge of chemistry: he was polite even to excess, unseasonably; but haughty, and even brutal, when he ought to have been gentle and courteous: he was tall, and his manners were ungracious: he had a dry hard-favoured visage, and a stern look, even when he wished to please; but, when he was out of humour, he was the true picture of reproof.
The queen had sent for the players, either that there might be no intermission in the diversions of the place, or, perhaps, to retort upon Miss Stewart, by the presence of Nell Gwyn, part of the uneasiness she felt from hers. Prince Rupert found charms in the person of another player called Hughes, who brought down and greatly subdued his natural fierceness.
[Mrs. Hughes was one of the actresses belonging to the king's company, and one of the earliest female performers. According to Downs, she commenced her theatrical career after the opening of Drury lane theatre, in 1663. She appears to have been the first female representative of Desdemona. By Prince Rupert she had a daughter, named Ruperta, married to Lieutenant-general Howe, who survived her husband many years, dying at Somerset house, about the year 1740.]
From this time, adieu alembics, crucibles, furnaces, and all the black furniture of the forges: a complete farewell to all mathematical instruments and chemical speculations: sweet powder and essences were now the only ingredients that occupied any share of his attention. The impertinent gipsy chose to be attacked in form; and proudly refusing money, that, in the end she might sell her favours at a dearer rate, she caused the poor prince to act a part so unnatural, that he no longer appeared like the same person. The king was greatly pleased with this event, for which great rejoicings were made at Tunbridge; but nobody was bold enough to make it the subject of satire, though the same constraint was not observed with other ridiculous personages.
There was dancing every day at the queen's apartments, because the physicians recommended it, and no person thought it amiss: for even those who cared least for it, chose that exercise to digest the waters rather than walking. Lord Muskerry thought himself secure against his lady's rage for dancing; for, although he was ashamed of it, the princess of Babylon was, by the grace of God, six or seven months advanced in pregnancy; and, to complete her misfortune, the child had fallen all on one side, so that even Euclid would have been puzzled to say what her figure was. The disconsolate lady, seeing Miss Hamilton and Mrs. Wetenhall set out every morning, sometimes on horseback and sometimes in a coach, but ever attended by a gallant troop to conduct them to court, and to convey them back, she fancied a thousand times more delights at Tunbridge than in reality there were, and she did not cease in her imagination, to dance over at Summer-hill all the country dances which she thought had been danced at Tunbridge. She could no longer support the racking torments which disturbed her mind, when relenting heaven, out of pity to her pains and sufferings, caused Lord Muskerry to repair to London, and kept him there two whole days: as soon as ever he had turned his back, the Babylonian princess declared her resolution to make a trip to court.
She had a domestic chaplain who did not want sense, and Lord Muskerry, for fear of accidents, had recommended her to the wholesome counsels and good prayers of this prudent divine; but in vain were all his preachings and exhortations to stay at home; in vain did he set before her eyes her husband's commands, and the dangers to which she would expose herself in her present condition; he likewise added that her pregnancy, being a particular blessing from heaven, she ought therefore to be so much the more careful for its preservation, since it cost her husband, perhaps, more trouble than she was aware of, to obtain it. These remonstrances were altogether ineffectual: Miss Hamilton and her cousin Wetenhall, having the complaisance to confirm her in her resolution, they assisted in dressing her the next morning, and set out along with her all their skill and dexterity were requisite to reduce her shape into some kind of symmetry; but, having at last pinned a small cushion under her petticoat on the right side, to counteract the untoward appearance the little infant occasioned by throwing itself on the left, they almost split their sides with laughter, assuring her at the same time that she looked perfectly charming.
As soon as she appeared, it was generally believed that she had dressed herself in a farthingale, in order to make her court to the queen; but every person was pleased at her arrival: those who were unacquainted with the circumstances assured her in earnest that she was pregnant with twins; and the queen, who envied her condition, notwithstanding the ridiculous appearance she then made, being made acquainted with the motive of her journey, was determined to gratify her inclinations.
As soon as the hour for country dances arrived, her cousin Hamilton was appointed her partner: she made some faint excuses at first on account of the inconvenient situation she was then in: but soon suffered them to be overcome, in order, as she said, to show her duty to the queen; and never did a woman in this world enjoy such complete satisfaction.
We have already observed, that the greatest prosperity is liable to the greatest change: Lady Muskerry, trussed up as she was, seemed to feel no manner of uneasiness from the motion in dancing; on the contrary, being only apprehensive of the presence of her husband, which would have destroyed all her happiness, she danced with uncommon briskness, lest her ill stars should bring him back before she had fully satisfied herself with it. In the midst, therefore, of her capering in this indiscreet manner, her cushion came loose, without her perceiving it, and fell to the ground in the very middle of the first round. The Duke of Buckingham, who watched her, took it up instantly, wrapped it up in his coat, and, mimicking the cries of a new-born infant, he went about inquiring for a nurse for the young Muskerry among the maids of honour.
This buffoonery, joined to the strange figure of the poor lady, had almost thrown Miss Stewart into hysterics; for the princess of Babylon, after this accident, was quite flat on one side, and immoderately protuberant on the other. All those who had before suppressed their inclinations to laugh, now gave themselves free scope, when they saw that Miss Stewart was ready to split her sides. The poor lady was greatly disconcerted: every person was officious to console her; but the queen, who inwardly laughed more heartily than any, pretended to disapprove of their taking such liberties.
Whilst Miss Hamilton and Mrs. Wetenhall endeavoured to refit Lady Muskerry in another room, the Duke of Buckingham told the king that, if the physicians would permit a little exercise immediately after a delivery, the best way to recover Lady Muskerry was to renew the dance as soon as ever her infant was replaced; this advice was approved, and accordingly put in execution. The queen proposed, as soon as she appeared, a second round of country-dances; and Lady Muskerry accepting the offer, the remedy had its desired effect, and entirely removed every remembrance of her late mishap.
Whilst these things were passing at the king's court, that of the Duke of York took a journey on the other side of London; the pretence of this journey was to visit the county whose name he bore; but love was the real motive. The duchess, since her elevation, had conducted herself with such prudence and circumspection, as could not be sufficiently admired: such were her manners, and such the general estimation in which she was held, that she appeared to have found out the secret of pleasing every one; a secret yet more rare than the grandeur to which she had been raised: but, after having gained universal esteem, she was desirous of being more particularly beloved; or, more properly speaking, malicious Cupid assaulted her heart, in spite of the discretion, prudence, and reason, with which she had fortified it.
In vain had she said to herself a hundred times, that if the duke had been so kind as to do her justice by falling in love with her, he had done her too much honour by making her his wife; that with respect to his inconstant disposition, which estranged him from her, she ought to bear it with patience, until it pleased heaven to produce a change in his conduct; that the frailties on his part, which might to her appear injurious, would never justify in her the least deviation from her duty; and, as resentment was still less allowable, she ought to endeavour to regain him by a conduct entirely opposite to his own. In vain was it, as we have said before, that she had long resisted Love and his emissaries by the help of these maxims: how solid soever reason, and however obstinate wisdom and virtue may be, there are yet certain attacks which tire by their length, and, in the end, subdue both reason and virtue itself.
The Duchess of York was one of the highest feeders in England: as this was an unforbidden pleasure she indulged herself in it, as an indemnification for other self-denials. It was really an edifying sight to see her at table. The duke, on the contrary, being incessantly in the hurry of new fancies, exhausted himself by his inconstancy, and was gradually wasting away; whilst the poor princess, gratifying her good appetite, grew so fat and plump that it was a blessing to see her. It is not easy to determine how long things would have continued in this situation, if Love, who was resolved to have satisfaction for her late conduct, so opposite to the former, had not employed artifice as well as force, to disturb her repose.
He at first let loose upon her resentment and jealousy two mortal enemies to all tranquillity and happiness. A tall creature, pale-faced, and nothing but skin and bone, named Churchill, whom she had taken for a maid of honour, became the object of her jealousy, because she was then the object of the duke's affection. The court was not able to comprehend how, after having been in love with Lady Chesterfield, Miss Hamilton, and Miss Jennings, he could have any inclination for such a creature; but they soon perceived that something more than unaccountable variety had a great share in effecting this conquest.
[Miss Arabella Churchill, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill of Wotton Basset, in the county of Wilts, and sister to the celebrated John, Duke of Marlborough. She was born 1648.]
The duchess beheld with indignation a choice which seemed to debase her own merit in a much greater degree than any of the former; at the very instant that indignation and jealousy began to provoke her spleen, perfidious Cupid threw in the way of her passions and resentments the amiable, handsome Sidney; and, whilst he kept her eyes fixed upon his personal perfections, diverted her attention from perceiving the deficiency of his mental accomplishments: she was wounded before she was aware of her danger; but the good opinion Sidney had of his own merit did not suffer him long to be ignorant of such a glorious conquest; and, in order more effectually to secure it, his eyes rashly answered everything which those of her royal highness had the kindness to tell him, whilst his personal accomplishments were carefully heightened by all the advantages of dress and show.
The duchess, foreseeing the consequences of such an engagement, strongly combated the inclination that hurried her away; but Miss Hobart, siding with that inclination, argued the matter with her scruples, and, in the end, really vanquished them. This girl had insinuated herself into her royal highness's confidence by a fund of news with which she was provided the whole year round: the court and the city supplied her; nor was it very material to her whether her stories were true or false, her chief care being that they should prove agreeable to her mistress: she knew, likewise, how to gratify her palate, and constantly provided a variety of those dishes and liquors which she liked best. These qualifications had rendered her necessary; but, desirous of being still more so, and having perceived both the airs that Sidney gave himself, and what was passing in the heart of her mistress, the cunning Hobart took the liberty of telling her royal highness that this unfortunate youth was pining away solely on her account; that it was a thousand pities a man of his figure should lose the respect for her which was most certainly her due, merely because she had reduced him to such a state that he could no longer preserve it; that he was gradually dying away on her account, in the sight of the whole court; that his situation would soon be generally remarked, except she made use of the proper means to prevent it; that, in her opinion, her royal highness ought to pity the miserable situation into which her charms had reduced him, and to endeavour to alleviate his pain in some way or other. The duchess asked her what she meant by "endeavouring to alleviate his pain in some way or other." "I mean, madam," answered Miss Hobart, "that, if either his person be disagreeable, or his passion troublesome, you will give him his discharge; or, if you choose to retain him in your service, as all the princesses in the world would do in your place, you will permit me to give him directions from you for his future conduct, mixed with a few grains of hope, to prevent his entirely losing his senses, until you find a proper occasion yourself to acquaint him with your wishes." "What!" said the duchess, "would you advise me, Hobart—you, who really love me—to engage in an affair of this nature, at the expense of my honour, and the hazard of a thousand inconveniences! If such frailties are sometimes excusable, they certainly are not so in the high station in which I am placed; and it would be an ill-requital on my part for his goodness who raised me to the rank I now fill to——" "All this is very fine," interrupted Miss Hobart: "but is it not very well known that he only married you because he was importuned so to do? Since that I refer to yourself whether he has ever restrained his inclination a single moment, giving you the most convincing proofs of the change that has taken place in his heart, by a thousand provoking infidelities? Is it still your intention to persevere in a state of indolence and humility, whilst the duke, after having received the favours, or suffered the repulses, of all the coquettes in England, pays his addresses to the maids of honour, one after the other, and at present places his whole ambition and desires in the conquest of that ugly skeleton, Churchill? What! Madam, must then your prime of life be spent in a sort of widowhood in deploring your misfortunes, without ever being permitted to make use of any remedy that may offer? A woman must be endowed with insuperable patience, or with an inexhaustible degree of resignation, to bear this. Can a husband, who disregards you both night and day, really suppose, because his wife eats and drinks heartily, as, God be thanked, your royal highness does, that she wants nothing else than to sleep well too? Faith, such conduct is too bad: I therefore once more repeat that there is not a princess in the universe who would refuse the homage of a man like Sidney, when a husband pays his addresses elsewhere."
These reasons were certainly not morally good; but had they been still worse the duchess would have yielded to them, so much did her heart act in concert with Miss Hobart, to overthrow her discretion and prudence.
This intrigue began at the very time that Miss Hobart advised Miss Temple not to give any encouragement to the addresses of the handsome Sidney. As for him, no sooner was he informed by the confidant Hobart that the goddess accepted his adoration than he immediately began to be particularly reserved and circumspect in his behaviour, in order to divert the attention of the public; but the public is not so easily deceived as some people imagine.
As there were too many spies, too many inquisitive people and critics, in a numerous court, residing in the midst of a populous city, the duchess to avoid exposing the inclinations of her heart to the scrutiny of so many inquisitors, engaged the Duke of York to undertake the journey before mentioned, whilst the queen and her court were at Tunbridge.
This conduct was prudent; and, if agreeable to her, was far from displeasing to any of her court, except Miss Jennings: Jermyn was not of the party; and, in her opinion, every party was insipid in which he was not one of the company. He had engaged himself in an enterprise above his strength, in laying a wager which the Chevalier de Grammont had laid before, and lost. He betted five hundred guineas that he would ride twenty miles in one hour upon the same horse, in the high road. The day he had fixed upon for this race was the very same in which Miss Jennings went to the fortune-teller's.
Jermyn was more fortunate than her in this undertaking he came off victorious; but as his courage had far exceeded the strength of his constitution in this exertion to win the wager, he got a violent fever into the bargain, which brought him very low. Miss Jennings inquired after his health; but that was all she dared to do. In modern romances, a princess need only pay a visit to some hero, abandoned by his physicians, a perfect cure would be wrought in three days; but since Miss Jennings had not been the cause of Jermyn's fever, she was not certain of relieving him from it, although she had been sure that a charitable visit would not have been censured in a malicious court. Without therefore paying any attention to the uneasiness she might feel upon the occasion, the court set out without him: she had, however, the gratification to testify her ill-humour throughout the whole journey, by appearing displeased with everything which seemed to afford satisfaction to all the rest of the company.
Talbot made one of the company; and flattering himself that the absence of a dangerous rival might produce some change in his favour, he was attentive to all the actions, motions, and even gestures, of his former mistress. There was certainly enough fully to employ his attention: it was contrary to her disposition to remain long in a serious humour. Her natural vivacity hurried her away, from being seemingly lost in thought, into sallies of wit, which afforded him hopes that she would soon forget Jermyn, and remember that his own passion was the first she had encouraged. However, he kept his distance, notwithstanding his love and his hopes, being of opinion that it ill became an injured lover to betray either the least weakness, or the smallest return of affection, for an ungrateful mistress, who had deserted him.
Miss Jennings was so far from thinking of his resentments, that she did not even recollect he had ever paid his addresses to her; and her thoughts being wholly occupied upon the poor sick man, she conducted herself towards Talbot as if they never had had anything to say to each other. It was to him that she most usually gave her hand, either in getting into or out of the coach; she conversed more readily with him than any other person, and, without intending it, did everything to make the court believe she was cured of her passion for Jermyn in favour of her former lover.
Of this he seemed likewise convinced, as well as the rest; and thinking it now proper to act another part, in order to let her know that his sentiments with respect to her were still the same, he had resolved to address her in the most tender and affectionate manner upon this subject. Fortune seemed to have favoured him, and to have smoothed the way for this intended harangue: he was alone with her in her chamber; and, what was still better, she was rallying him concerning Miss Boynton; saying, "that they were undoubtedly much obliged to him for attending them on their journey, whilst poor Miss Boynton had fainting fits at Tunbridge, at least twice every day, for love of him." Upon this discourse, Talbot thought it right to begin the recital of his sufferings and fidelity, when Miss Temple, with a paper in her hand, entered the room. This was a letter in verse, which Lord Rochester had written some time before, upon the intrigues of the two courts; wherein, upon the subject of Miss Jennings, he said: "that Talbot had struck terror among the people of God, by his gigantic stature; but that Jermyn, like a little David, had vanquished the great Goliath." Jennings, delighted with this allusion, read it over two or three times, thought it more entertaining than Talbot's conversation, at first heartily laughed at it, but soon after, with a tender air, "Poor little David!" said she, with a deep sigh, and turning her head on one side during this short reverie, she shed a few tears, which assuredly did not flow for the defeat of the giant. This stung Talbot to the quick; and, seeing himself so ridiculously deceived in his hopes, he went abruptly out of the room, vowing never to think any more of a giddy girl, whose conduct was regulated neither by sense nor reason; but he did not keep his resolution.
The other votaries of love, who were numerous in this court, were more successful, the journey being undertaken solely on that account. There were continual balls and entertainments upon the road; hunting, and all other diversions, wherever the court halted in its progress. The tender lovers flattered themselves with the thought of being able to crown their happiness as they proceeded in their journey; and the beauties who governed their destiny did not forbid them to hope. Sidney paid his court with wonderful assiduity: the duchess made the duke take notice of his late perfect devotion to his service: his royal highness observed it, and agreed that he ought to be remembered upon the first opportunity, which happened soon after.
Montagu, as before mentioned, was master of the horse to the duchess: he was possessed of a great deal of wit, had much penetration, and loved mischief. How could she bear such a man near her person, in the present situation of her heart? This greatly embarrassed her; but Montagu's elder brother having, very a-propos, got himself killed where he had no business, the duke obtained for Montagu the post of master of the horse to the queen, which the deceased enjoyed; and the handsome Sidney was appointed to succeed him in the same employment to the duchess. All this happened according to her wish; and the duke was highly pleased that he had found means to promote these two gentlemen at once, without being at the least expense.
Miss Hobart greatly applauded these promotions: she had frequent and long conversations with Sidney, which, being remarked, some did her the honour to believe it was upon her own account; and the compliments that were made her upon the occasion she most willingly received. The duke, who believed it at first, observed to the duchess the unaccountable taste of certain persons, and how the handsomest young fellow in England was infatuated with such a frightful creature.
The duchess confessed that taste was very arbitrary; the truth whereof he himself seemed to be convinced of, since he had fixed upon the beauteous Helen for his mistress. I know not whether this raillery caused him to reflect for what reasons he had made his choice; but it is certain he began to cool in his affections for Miss Churchill; and perhaps he would entirely have abandoned this pursuit, had not an accident taken place, which raised in him an entirely new inclination for her.
The court having halted for a few days in a fine open country, the duchess was desirous of seeing a greyhound course. This diversion is practised in England upon large downs, where the turf, eaten by the sheep, is particularly green, and wonderfully even. She was in her coach, and all the ladies on horseback, every one of them being attended by her squire; it therefore was but reasonable that the mistress should likewise have her squire. He accordingly was at the side of her coach, and seemed to compensate for his deficiencies in conversation, by the uncommon beauty of his mien and figure.
The duke attended Miss Churchill, not for the sake of besieging her with soft flattering tales of love, but, on the contrary, to chide her for sitting so ill on horseback: She was one of the most indolent creatures in the world; and although the maids of honour are generally the worst mounted of the whole court, yet, in order to distinguish her, on account of the favour she enjoyed, they had given her a very pretty, though rather a high-spirited horse; a distinction she would very willingly have excused them.
The embarrassment and fear she was under had added to her natural paleness. In this situation, her countenance had almost completed the duke's disgust, when her horse, desirous of keeping pace with the others, set off in a gallop, notwithstanding her greatest efforts to prevent it; and her endeavours to hold him in, firing his mettle, he at length set off at full speed, as if he was running a race against the duke's horse.
Miss Churchill lost her seat, screamed out, and fell from her horse. A fall in so quick a pace must have been violent; and yet it proved favourable to her in every respect; for, without receiving any hurt, she gave the lie to all the unfavourable suppositions that had been formed of her person, in judging from her face. The duke alighted, in order to help her: she was so greatly stunned, that her thoughts were otherwise employed than about decency on the present occasion; and those who first crowded around her found her rather in a negligent posture: they could hardly believe that limbs of such exquisite beauty could belong to Miss Churchill's face. After this accident, it was remarked that the duke's tenderness and affection for her increased every day; and, towards the end of the winter, it appeared that she had not tyrannized over his passion, nor made him languish with impatience.
The two courts returned to London much about the same time, equally satisfied with their respective excursions; though the queen was disappointed in the hopes she had entertained of the good effects of the Tunbridge waters.
It was about this time that the Chevalier de Grammont received a letter from the Marchioness de Saint-Chaumont, his sister, acquainting him, that he might return when he thought proper, the king having given him leave. He would have received this news with joy at any other time, whatever had been the charms of the English court; but, in the present situation of his heart, he could not resolve to quit it.
He had returned from Tunbridge a thousand times deeper in love than ever; for, during this agreeable excursion, he had every day seen Miss Hamilton, either in the marshes of melancholy Peckham, or in the delicious walks of cheerful Summerhill, or in the daily diversions and entertainments of the queen's court; and whether he saw her on horseback, heard her conversation, or observed her in the dance, still he was persuaded that Heaven had never formed an object in every respect more worthy of the love, and more deserving of the affection, of a man of sense and delicacy. How then was it possible for him to bear the thoughts of leaving her? This appeared to him absolutely impracticable; however, as he was desirous of making a merit with her, of the determination he had made to neglect his fortune, rather than to be separated from her charms, he showed her his sister's letter: but this confidence had not the success he expected.
Miss Hamilton, in the first place, congratulated him upon his recall: She returned him many thanks for the sacrifice he intended to make her; but as this testimony of affection greatly exceeded the bounds of mere gallantry, however sensibly she might feel this mark of his tenderness, she was, however, determined not to abuse it. In vain did he protest that he would rather meet death than part from her irresistible charms; and her irresistible charms protested that he should never see them more, unless he departed immediately. Thus was he forced to obey. However, he was allowed to flatter himself, that these positive orders, how harsh soever they might appear, did not flow from indifference; that she would always be more pleased with his return than with his departure, for which she was now so urgent; and having generously given him assurances that, so far as depended upon herself, he would find, upon his return, no variation in her sentiments during his absence, he took leave of his friends, thinking of nothing but his return, at the very time he was making preparations for his departure.
CHAPTER ELEVENTH. RETURN OF THE CHEVALIER GRAMMONT TO FRANCE—HE IS SENT BACK TO ENGLAND—VARIOUS LOVE INTRIGUES AT THIS COURT, AND MARRIAGE OF MOST OF THE HEROES OF THESE MEMOIRS
The nearer the Chevalier de Grammont approached the court of France, the more did he regret his absence from that of England.
A thousand different thoughts occupied his mind upon the journey: Sometimes he reflected upon the joy and satisfaction his friends and relations would experience upon his return; sometimes upon the congratulations and embraces of those who, being neither the one nor the other, would, nevertheless, overwhelm him with impertinent compliments: All these ideas passed quickly through his head; for a man deeply in love makes it a scruple of conscience not to suffer any other thoughts to dwell upon his mind than those of the object beloved. It was then the tender, endearing remembrance of what he had left in London that diverted his thoughts from Paris; and it was the torments of absence that prevented his feeling those of the bad roads and the bad horses. His heart protested to Miss Hamilton, between Montreuil and Abbeville that he only tore himself from her with such haste, to return the sooner; after which, by a short reflection, comparing the regret he had formerly felt upon the same road, in quitting France for England, with that which he now experienced, in quitting England for France, he found the last much more insupportable than the former.
It is thus that a man in love entertains himself upon the road; or rather, it is thus that a trifling writer abuses the patience of his reader, either to display his own sentiments, or to lengthen out a tedious story; but God forbid that this character should apply to ourselves, since we profess to insert nothing in these memoirs, but what we have heard from the mouth of him whose actions and sayings we transmit to posterity.
Who, except Squire Feraulas, has ever been able to keep a register of all the thoughts, sighs, and exclamations, of his illustrious master? For my own part, I should never have thought that the attention of the Count de Grammont, which is at present so sensible to inconveniences and dangers, would have ever permitted him to entertain amorous thoughts upon the road, if he did not himself dictate to me what I am now writing.
But let us speak of him at Abbeville. The postmaster was his old acquaintance: His hotel was the best provided of any between Calais and Paris; and the Chevalier de Grammont, alighting, told Termes he would drink a glass of wine during the time they were changing horses. It was about noon; and, since the preceding night, when they had landed at Calais, until this instant, they had not eat a single mouthful. Termes, praising the Lord, that natural feelings had for once prevailed over the inhumanity of his usual impatience, confirmed him as much as possible in such reasonable sentiments.
Upon their entering the kitchen, where the Chevalier generally paid his first visit, they were surprised to see half a dozen spits loaded with game at the fire, and every other preparation for a magnificent entertainment. The heart of Termes leaped for joy: he gave private orders to the hostler to pull the shoes off some of the horses, that he might not be forced away from this place before he had satisfied his craving appetite.
Soon after, a number of violins and hautboys, attended by all the mob of the town, entered the court. The landlord, being asked the reason of these great preparations, acquainted the Chevalier de Grammont that they were for the wedding of one of the most wealthy gentlemen in the neighbourhood with one of the handsomest girls in the whole province; that the entertainment was to be at his house; and that, if his lordship chose to stop, in a very short time he would see the new-married couple arrive from the church, since the music was already come. He was right in his conjectures; for these words were scarce out of his mouth, when three uncommonly large coaches, loaded with lackeys, as tall as Swiss, with most gaudy liveries, all covered with lace, appeared in the court, and disembarked the whole wedding company. Never was country magnificence more naturally displayed: Rusty tinsel, tarnished lace, striped silks, little eyes, and full swelling breasts, appeared on every side.
If the first sight of the procession surprised the Chevalier de Grammont, faithful Termes was no less astonished at the second. The little that was to be seen of the bride's face appeared not without beauty; but no judgment could be formed of the remainder: Four dozen of patches, at least, and ten ringlets of hair, on each side, most completely concealed her from all human eyes; but it was the bridegroom who most particularly attracted the Chevalier de Grammont's attention.
He was as ridiculously dressed as the rest of the company, except a coat of the greatest magnificence, and of the most exquisite taste. The Chevalier de Grammont, walking up to him to examine his dress, began to commend the embroidery of his coat. The bridegroom thought himself much honoured by this examination, and told him he bought it for one hundred and fifty louis, at the time he was paying his addresses to his wife. "Then you did not get it made here?" said the Chevalier de Grammont. "No," replied the other; "I bought it of a London merchant, who had ordered it for an English lord." The Chevalier de Grammont, who now began to perceive in what manner the adventure would end, asked him if he should recollect the merchant if he saw him again? "Recollect him!" replied the other, "I surely ought; for I was obliged to sit up drinking with him all night at Calais, as I was endeavouring to beat down the price." Termes had vanished out of sight as soon as ever this coat appeared, though he little supposed that the cursed bridegroom would have any conversation concerning it with his master.
The Chevalier's thoughts were some time wavering between his inclination to laugh, and a desire of hanging Master Termes; but the long habit of suffering himself to be robbed by his domestics, together with the vigilance of the criminal, whom his master could not reproach with having slept in his service, inclined him to clemency; and yielding to the importunities of the country gentleman, in order to confound his faithful servant, he sat down to table, to make the thirty-seventh of the company.
A short time after, he desired one of the waiters to call for a gentleman whose name was Termes. He immediately appeared; and as soon as the master of the feast saw him, he rose from table, and offering him his hand; "Welcome, my friend," said he; "you see that I have taken good care of the coat which you sold me with so much reluctance, and that I have kept it for a good purpose."
Termes, having put on a face of brass, pretended not to know him, and pushed him back with some degree of rudeness. "No, no!" said the other; "since I was obliged to sit up with you the whole night, in order to strike the bargain, you shall pledge me in the bride's health." The Chevalier de Grammont, who saw that Termes was disconcerted, notwithstanding his impudence, said to him with a smile: "Come, come, my good London merchant, sit down, as you are so civilly invited: we are not so crowded at table but that there will be room enough for such an honest gentleman as yourself." At these words five-and-thirty of the guests were in motion to receive this new visitor: the bride alone, out of an idea of decorum, remained seated; and the audacious Termes, having swallowed the first shame of this adventure, began to lay about him at such a rate, as if it had been his intention to swallow all the wine provided for the wedding, if his master had not risen from the table as they were taking off four-and-twenty soups, to serve up as many other dishes in their stead.
The company were not so unreasonable as to desire a man who was in such haste to remain to the end of a wedding dinner; but they all got up when he arose from table, and all that he could obtain from the bridegroom was that the company should not attend him to the gate of the inn. As for Termes, he wished they had not quitted him till the end of their journey, so much did he dread being left alone with his master.
They had advanced some distance from Abbeville, and were proceeding on in the most profound silence, when Termes, who expected an end to it in a short time, was only solicitous in what manner it might happen, whether his master would attack him with a torrent of invectives, and certain epithets which were most justly his due, or whether, in an insulting, ironical manner, he might make use of such commendations as were most likely to confound him; but finding, instead of either, that he remained in sullen silence, he thought it prudent rather to prevent the speech the Chevalier was meditating than to suffer him to think longer about it; and, accordingly, arming himself with all his effrontery: "You seem to be very angry, Sir," said he, "and I suppose you think you have reason for being so; but the devil take me, if you are not mistaken in reality."
"How! traitor! in reality?" said the Chevalier de Grammont. "It is then because I have not had thee well thrashed, as thou hast for a long time merited." "Look ye, Sir," replied Termes, "you always run into a passion, instead of listening to reason! Yes, Sir, I maintain that what I did was for your benefit." "And was not the quicksand likewise for my service?" said the Chevalier de Grammont. "Have patience, if you please," pursued the other: "I know not how that simpleton of a bridegroom happened to be at the custom-house when my portmanteau was examined at Calais: but these silly cuckolds thrust in their noses everywhere. As soon as ever he saw your coat, he fell in love with it. I immediately perceived he was a fool; for he fell down upon his knees, beseeching me to sell it him. Besides being greatly rumpled in the portmanteau, it was all stained in front by the sweat of the horses. I wonder how the devil he has managed to get it cleaned; but, faith, I am the greatest scoundrel in the world, if you would ever have put it on. In a word, it cost you one hundred and forty louis d'ors, and seeing he offered me one hundred and fifty for it; 'My master,' said I, 'has no occasion for this tinselled bauble to distinguish him at the ball; and, although he was pretty full of cash when I left him, how know I in what situation he may be upon my return? there is no certainty at play.' To be brief, Sir, I got ten louis d'ors for it more than it cost you: this you see is all clear profit: I will be accountable to you for it, and you know that I am sufficiently substantial to make good such a sum. Confess now, do you think you would have appeared to greater advantage at the ball, if you had been dressed out in that damned coat, which would have made you look just like the village bridegroom to whom we sold it? and yet how you stormed at London when you thought it lost; what fine stories you told the king about the quicksand; and how churlish you looked, when you first began to suppose that this country booby wore it at his wedding!"
What could the Chevalier reply to such uncommon impudence? If he indulged his resentment, he must either have most severely bastinadoed him, or he must have discarded him, as the easiest escape the rogue could expect; but he had occasion for him during the remainder of his journey; and, as soon as he was at Paris, he had occasion for him for his return.
The Marechal de Grammont had no sooner notice of his arrival than he went to him at the hotel; and, the first embraces being over on both sides, "Chevalier," said the Marechal, "how many days have you been in coming from London hither? for God knows at what a rate you travel on such occasions." The Chevalier told him he had been three days upon the road; and, to excuse himself for making no more haste, he related to him his Abbeville adventure. "It is a very entertaining one," said his brother; "but what is yet more entertaining is, that it will be your fault if you do not find your coat still at table; for the country gentry are not accustomed to rise very soon from a wedding dinner." And then, in a very serious tone, told him, "he knew not who had advised him to this unexpected return, which might probably ruin all his affairs; but he had orders from the king to bid him go back again without appearing at court. He told him afterwards that he was very much astonished at his impatience, as, till this time, he had conducted himself uncommonly well, and was sufficiently acquainted with the king's temper to know that the only way to merit his pardon was to wait until it freely came from his clemency."
The Chevalier, in justification of his conduct, produced Madame de Saint Chaumont's letter, and told the Marechal that he would very willingly have spared her the trouble of writing him such kind of news, to occasion him so useless a journey. "Still more indiscretion," replied his brother; "for pray how long has our sister being either secretary of state or minister, that she should be employed by the king to make known his majesty's order? Do you wish to know the real state of the case? Some time ago the king told Madame—[Henrietta]—how you had refused the pension the King of England offered you.
["Henrietta, youngest daughter of Charles the First,—born at Exeter 16th June, 1644, from whence she was removed to London in 1646, and, with her governess, Lady Dalkeith, soon afterwards conveyed to France. On the restoration, she came over to England with her mother, but returned to France in about six months, and was married to Philip, Duke of Orleans, only brother of Louis XIV. In May, 1670, she came again to Dover, on a mission of a political nature, it is supposed, from the French king to her brother, in which she was successful. She died, soon after her return to France, suddenly, not without suspicion of having been poisoned by her husband. King James, in his Diary, says, 'On the 22d of June, the news of the Duchess of Orleans' death arrived. It was suspected that counter-poisons were given her; but when she was opened, in the presence of the English ambassador, the Earl of Ailesbury, an English physician and surgeon, there appeared no grounds of suspicion of any foul play. Yet Bucks tallied openly that she was poisoned; and was so violent as to propose to foreign ministers to make war on France.'—Macpherson's Original Papers, vol i. At the end of Lord Arlington's Letters are five very remarkable ones from a person of quality, who is said to have been actually on the spot, giving a particular relation of her death.]
"He appeared pleased with the manner in which Comminges had related to him the circumstances attending it, and said he was pleased with you for it: Madame interpreted this as an order for your recall; and Madame de Saint Chaumont being very far from possessing that wonderful discretion she imagines herself mistress of, she hastened to despatch to you this consequential order in her own hand. To conclude, Madame said yesterday, when the king was at dinner, that you would very soon be here; and the king, as soon as dinner was over, commanded me to send you back as soon as you arrived. Here you are; set off again immediately."
This order might have appeared severe to the Chevalier de Grammont at any other time; but, in the present state of his heart, he soon resolved upon obeying. Nothing gave him uneasiness but the officious advice which had obliged him to leave the English court; and being entirely unconcerned that he was not allowed to see the French court before his departure, he only desired the Marechal to obtain leave for him to stay a few days to collect in some play debts which were owing him. This request was granted, on condition that he should not remain in Paris.
He chose Vaugirard for his retreat: it was there that he had several adventures which he so often related in so humorous and diverting a manner, that it would be tedious to repeat them; there it was that he administered the sacrament in so solemn a manner, that, as there did not remain a sufficient number of Swiss at Versailles to guard the chapel, Vardes was obliged to acquaint the king that they were all gone to the Chevalier de Grammont, who was administering the sacrament at Vaugirard: there likewise happened that wonderful adventure which threw the first slur upon the reputation of the great Saucourt, when, having a tete-a-tete with the gardener's daughter, the horn, which was agreed upon as the signal to prevent surprises, was sounded so often, that the frequent alarms cooled the courage of the celebrated Saucourt, and rendered useless the assignation that was procured for him with one of the prettiest girls in the neighbourhood. It was, likewise, during his stay at Vaugirard, that he paid a visit to Mademoiselle de l'Hopital at Issy, to inquire into the truth of a report of an amour between her and a man of the long robe; and it was there that, on his arriving unexpectedly, the President de Maisons was forced to take refuge in a closet, with so much precipitation, that half of his robe remained on the outside when he shut the door; while the Chevalier de Grammont, who observed it, made his visit excessively long, in order to keep the two lovers upon the rack.
His business being settled, he set out for England on the wings of love. Termes redoubled his vigilance upon the road. The post horses were ready in an instant at every stage: the winds and tides favoured his impatience; and he reached London with the highest satisfaction. The court was both surprised and charmed at his sudden return. No person condoled with him upon his late disappointment, which had occasioned him to come back, as he testified no manner of uneasiness concerning it himself: nor was Miss Hamilton in the least displeased at his readiness in obeying the orders of the king his master.
Nothing new had happened in the English court during his short absence; but it assumed a different aspect soon after his return: I mean with respect to love and pleasure, which were the most serious concerns of the court during the greatest part of this gay reign.
The Duke of Monmouth, natural son to Charles the Second, now made his first appearance in his father's court.
[James Duke of Monmouth, was the son of Charles the II., by one Lucy Walters. He was born at Rotterdam, April 9, 1649, and bore the name of James Crofts until the restoration. His education was chiefly at Paris, under the eye of the queen-mother, and the government of Thomas Ross, Esq., who was afterwards secretary to Mr. Coventry during his embassy in Sweden. At the restoration, he was brought to England, and received with joy by his father, who heaped honours and riches upon him, which were not sufficient to satisfy his ambitious views. To exclude his uncle, the Duke of York, from the throne, he was continually intriguing with the opposers of government, and was frequently in disgrace with his sovereign. On the accession of James II. he made an ineffectual attempt to raise a rebellion, was taken prisoner, and beheaded on Tower-hill, 15th July, 1685. Mr. Macpherson has drawn his character in the following terms: "Monmouth, highly beloved by the populace, was a fit instrument to carry forward his (i.e. Shaftesbury's) designs. To a gracefulness which prejudiced mankind in his favour as soon as seen, he joined an affability which gained their love. Constant in his friendships, and just to his word, by nature tender, and an utter enemy to severity and cruelty, active and vigorous in his constitution, he excelled in the manly exercises of the field. He was personally brave. He loved the pomp and the very dangers of war. But with these splendid qualities, he was vain to a degree of folly, versatile in his measures, weak in his understanding. He was ambitious without dignity, busy without consequence, attempting ever to be artful, but always a fool. Thus, taking the applause of the multitude for a certain mark of merit, he was the dupe of his own vanity, and owed all his misfortunes to that weakness."—History of England, vol. i., chap. iii.]
His entrance upon the stage of the world was so brilliant, his ambition had occasioned so many considerable events, and the particulars of his tragical end are so recent, that it were needless to produce any other traits to give a sketch of his character. By the whole tenor of his life, he appeared to be rash in his undertakings, irresolute in the execution, and dejected in his misfortunes, in which, at least, an undaunted resolution ought to equal the greatness of the attempt.
His figure and the exterior graces of his person were such, that nature perhaps never formed anything more complete: His face was extremely handsome; and yet it was a manly face, neither inanimate nor effeminate; each feature having its beauty and peculiar delicacy: He had a wonderful genius for every sort of exercise, an engaging aspect, and an air of grandeur: in a word, he possessed every personal advantage; but then he was greatly deficient in mental accomplishments. He had no sentiments but such as others inspired him with; and those who first insinuated themselves into his friendship, took care to inspire him with none but such as were pernicious. The astonishing beauty of his outward form caused universal admiration: those who before were looked upon as handsome were now entirely forgotten at court: and all the gay and beautiful of the fair sex were at his devotion. He was particularly beloved by the king; but the universal terror of husbands and lovers. This, however, did not long continue; for nature not having endowed him with qualifications to secure the possession of the heart, the fair sex soon perceived the defect.
The Duchess of Cleveland was out of humour with the king, because the children she had by his majesty were like so many little puppets, compared to this new Adonis. She was the more particularly hurt, as she might have boasted of being the queen of love, in comparison with the duke's mother.
The king, however, laughed at her reproaches, as, for some time, she had certainly no right to make any; and, as this piece of jealousy appeared to be more ill-founded than any she had formerly affected, no person approved of her ridiculous resentment. Not succeeding in this, she formed another scheme to give the king uneasiness: Instead of opposing his extreme tenderness for his son, she pretended to adopt him, in her affection, by a thousand commendations and caresses, which she was daily and continually increasing. As these endearments were public, she imagined they could not be suspected; but she was too well known for her real design to be mistaken. The king was no longer jealous of her; but, as the Duke of Monmouth was of an age not to be insensible to the attractions of a woman possessing so many charms, he thought it proper to withdraw him from this pretended mother-in-law, to preserve his innocence, or at least his fame, uncontaminated: it was for this reason, therefore, that the king married him so young. An heiress of five thousand pounds a-year in Scotland, offered very a-propos: her person was full of charms, and her mind possessed all those perfections in which the handsome Monmouth was deficient.
[This was Lady Anne Scott, daughter and sole heir of Francis, Earl of Buccleugh, only son and heir of Walter, Lord Scott, created Earl of Buccleugh in 1619. On their marriage the duke took the surname of Scott, and he and his lady were created Duke and Duchess of Buccleugh, Earl and Countess of Dalkeith, Baron and Baroness of Whitchester and Ashdale in Scotland, by letters patent, dated April 20th, 1673. Also, two days after he was installed at Windsor, the king and queen, the Duke of York, and most of the court being present. The next day, being St. George's day, his majesty solemnized it with a royal feast, and entertained the knights companions in St. George's hall in the castle of Windsor. Though there were several children of this marriage, it does not appear to have been a happy one; the duke, without concealment attaching himself to Lady Harriet Wentworth, whom, with his dying breath, he declared he considered as his only wife in the sight of God. The duchess, in May, 1688, took to her second husband Charles, Lord Cornwallis. She died Feb. 6, 1731-32, in the 81st year of her age, and was buried at Dalkeith in Scotland. Our author is not more correct about figures than he avows himself to be in the arrangement of facts and dates: the duchess's fortune was much greater than he has stated it to have been.]
New festivals and entertainments celebrated this marriage. The most effectual method to pay court to the king, was to outshine the rest in brilliancy and grandeur; and whilst these rejoicings brought forward all manner of gallantry and magnificence, they either revived old, or established new amours.
The fair Stewart, then in the meridian of her glory, attracted all eyes, and commanded universal respect and admiration. The Duchess of Cleveland endeavoured to eclipse her at this fate, by a load of jewels, and by all the artificial ornaments of dress; but it was in vain: her face looked rather thin and pale, from the commencement of a third or fourth pregnancy, which the king was still pleased to place to his own account; and, as for the rest, her person could in no respect stand in competition with the grace and beauty of Miss Stewart.