The Virginians, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER LXIII

Melpomene

George Warrington by no means allowed his legal studies to obstruct his comfort and pleasures, or interfere with his precious health. Madam Esmond had pointed out to him in her letters that though he wore a student’s gown, and sate down with a crowd of nameless people to hall-commons, he had himself a name, and a very ancient one, to support, and could take rank with the first persons at home or in his own country; and desired that he would study as a gentleman, not a mere professional drudge. With this injunction the young man complied obediently enough: so that he may be said not to have belonged to the rank and file of the law, but may be considered to have been a volunteer in her service, like some young gentlemen of whom we have just heard. Though not so exacting as she since has become — though she allowed her disciples much more leisure, much more pleasure, much more punch, much more frequenting of coffee-houses and holiday-making, than she admits nowadays, when she scarce gives her votaries time for amusement, recreation, instruction, sleep, or dinner — the law a hundred years ago was still a jealous mistress, and demanded a pretty exclusive attention. Murray, we are told, might have been an Ovid, but he preferred to be Lord Chief Justice, and to wear ermine instead of bays. Perhaps Mr. Warrington might have risen to a peerage and the woolsack, had he studied very long and assiduously, — had he been a dexterous courtier, and a favourite of attorneys: had he been other than he was, in a word. He behaved to Themis with a very decent respect and attention; but he loved letters more than law always; and the black-letter of Chaucer was infinitely more agreeable to him than the Gothic pages of Hale and Coke.

Letters were loved indeed in those quaint times, and authors were actually authorities. Gentlemen appealed to Virgil or Lucan in the Courts or the House of Commons. What said Statius, Juvenal — let alone Tully or Tacitus — on such and such a point? Their reign is over now, the good old Heathens: the worship of Jupiter and Juno is not more out of mode than the cultivation of Pagan poetry or ethics. The age of economists and calculators has succeeded, and Tooke’s Pantheon is deserted and ridiculous. Now and then, perhaps, a Stanley kills a kid, a Gladstone bangs up a wreath, a Lytton burns incense, in honour of the Olympians. But what do they care at Lambeth, Birmingham, the Tower Hamlets, for the ancient rites, divinities, worship? Who the plague are the Muses, and what is the use of all that Greek and Latin rubbish? What is Elicon, and who cares? Who was Thalia, pray, and what is the length of her i? Is Melpomene’s name in three syllables or four? And do you know from whose design I stole that figure of Tragedy which adorns the initial G of this chapter?

Now, it has been said how Mr. George in his youth, and in the long leisure which he enjoyed at home, and during his imprisonment in the French fort on the banks of Monongahela, had whiled away his idleness by paying court to Melpomene; and the result of their union was a tragedy, which has been omitted in Bell’s Theatre, though I dare say it is no worse than some of the pieces printed there. Most young men pay their respects to the Tragic Muse first, as they fall in love with women who are a great deal older than themselves. Let the candid reader own, if ever he had a literary turn, that his ambition was of the very highest, and that however, in his riper age, he might come down in his pretensions, and think that to translate an ode of Horace, or to turn a song of Waller or Prior into decent alcaics or sapphics, was about the utmost of his capability, tragedy and epic only did his green unknowing youth engage, and no prize but the highest was fit for him.

George Warrington, then, on coming to London, attended the theatrical performances at both houses, frequented the theatrical coffee-houses, and heard the opinions of the critics, and might be seen at the Bedford between the plays, or supping at the Cecil along with the wits and actors when the performances were over. Here he gradually became acquainted with the players and such of the writers and poets as were known to the public. The tough old Macklin, the frolicsome Foote, the vivacious Hippisley, the sprightly Mr. Garrick himself, might occasionally be seen at these houses of entertainment; and our gentleman, by his wit and modesty, as well, perhaps, as for the high character for wealth which he possessed, came to be very much liked in the coffee-house circles, and found that the actors would drink a bowl of punch with him, and the critics sup at his expense with great affability. To be on terms of intimacy with an author or an actor has been an object of delight to many a young man; actually to hob and nob with Bobadil or Henry the Fifth or Alexander the Great, to accept a pinch out of Aristarchus’s own box, to put Juliet into her coach, or hand Monimia to her chair, are privileges which would delight most young men of a poetic turn; and no wonder George Warrington loved the theatre. Then he had the satisfaction of thinking that his mother only half approved of plays and playhouses, and of feasting on fruit forbidden at home. He gave more than one elegant entertainment to the players, and it was even said that one or two distinguished geniuses had condescended to borrow money of him.

And as he polished and added new beauties to his masterpiece, we may be sure that he took advice of certain friends of his, and that they gave him applause and counsel. Mr. Spencer, his new acquaintance, of the Temple, gave a breakfast at his chambers in Fig Tree Court, when Mr. Warrington read part of his play, and the gentlemen present pronounced that it had uncommon merit. Even the learned Mr. Johnson, who was invited, was good enough to say that the piece had showed talent. It warred against the unities, to be sure; but these had been violated by other authors, and Mr. Warrington might sacrifice them as well as another. There was in Mr. W.‘s tragedy a something which reminded him both of Coriolanus and Othello. “And two very good things too, sir!” the author pleaded. “Well, well, there was no doubt on that point; and ’tis certain your catastrophe is terrible, just, and being in part true, is not the less awful,” remarks Mr. Spencer.

Now the plot of Mr. Warrington’s tragedy was quite full indeed of battle and murder. A favourite book of his grandfather had been the life of old George Frundsberg of Mindelheim, a colonel of foot-folk in the Imperial service at Pavia fight, and during the wars of the Constable Bourbon: and one of Frundsberg’s military companions was a certain Carpzow, or Carpezan, whom our friend selected as his tragedy hero. His first act, as it at present stands in Sir George Warrington’s manuscript, is supposed to take place before a convent on the Rhine, which the Lutherans, under Carpezan, are besieging. A godless gang these Lutherans are. They have pulled the beards of Roman friars, and torn the veils of hundreds of religious women. A score of these are trembling within the walls of the convent yonder, of which the garrison, unless the expected succours arrive before midday, has promised to surrender. Meanwhile there is armistice, and the sentries within look on with hungry eyes, as the soldiers and camp people gamble on the grass before the gate. Twelve o’clock, ding, ding, dong! it sounds upon the convent bell. No succours have arrived. Open gates, warder! and give admission to the famous Protestant hero, the terror of Turks on the Danube, and Papists in the Lombard plains — Colonel Carpezan! See, here he comes, clad in complete steel, his hammer of battle over his shoulder, with which he has battered so many infidel sconces, his flags displayed, his trumpets blowing. “No rudeness, my men,” says Carpezan; “the wine is yours, and the convent larder and cellar are good: the church plate shall be melted: any of the garrison who choose to take service with Gaspar Carpezan are welcome, and shall have good pay. No insult to the religious ladies! I have promised them a safe-conduct, and he who lays a finger on them, hangs! Mind that Provost Marshal!” The Provost Marshal, a huge fellow in a red doublet, nods his head.

“We shall see more of that Provost Marshal, or executioner,” Mr. Spencer explains to his guests.

“A very agreeable acquaintance, I am sure — shall be delighted to meet the gentleman again!” says Mr. Johnson, wagging his head over his tea. “This scene of the mercenaries, the camp followers, and their wild sports, is novel and stirring, Mr. Warrington, and I make you my compliments on it. The Colonel has gone into the convent, I think? Now let us hear what he is going to do there.”

The Abbess, and one or two of her oldest ladies, make their appearance before the conqueror. Conqueror as he is, they heard him in their sacred halls. They have heard of his violent behaviour in conventual establishments before. That hammer, which he always carries in action, has smashed many sacred images in religious houses. Pounds and pounds of convent plate is he known to have melted, the sacrilegious plunderer! No wonder the Abbess-Princess of St. Mary’s, a lady of violent prejudices, free language, and noble birth, has a dislike to the lowborn heretic who lords it in her convent, and tells Carpezan a bit of her mind, as the phrase is. This scene, in which the lady gets somewhat better of the Colonel, was liked not a little by Mr. Warrington’s audience at the Temple. Terrible as he might be in war, Carpezan was shaken at first by the Abbess’s brisk opening charge of words; and, conqueror as he was, seemed at first to be conquered by his actual prisoner. But such an old soldier was not to be beaten ultimately by any woman. “Pray, madam,” says he, “how many ladies are there in your convent, for whom my people shall provide conveyance?” The Abbess, with a look of much trouble and anger, says that, “besides herself, the noble sisters of Saint Mary’s House are twenty — twenty-three.” She was going to say twenty-four, and now says twenty-three? “Ha! why this hesitation?” asks Captain Ulric, one of Carpezan’s gayest officers.

The dark chief pulls a letter from his pocket. “I require from you, madam,” he says sternly to the Lady Abbess, “the body of the noble lady Sybilla of Hoya. Her brother was my favourite captain, slain by my side, in the Milanese. By his death, she becomes heiress of his lands. ’Tis said a greedy uncle brought her hither; and fast immured the lady against her will. The damsel shall herself pronounce her fate — to stay a cloistered sister of Saint Mary’s, or to return to home and liberty, as Lady Sybil, Baroness of ———.” Ha! The Abbess was greatly disturbed by this question. She says, haughtily: “There is no Lady Sybil in this house: of which every inmate is under your protection, and sworn to go free. The Sister Agnes was a nun professed, and what was her land and wealth revert to this Order.”

“Give me straightway the body of the Lady Sybil of Hoya!” roars Carpezan, in great wrath. “If not, I make a signal to my Reiters, and give you and your convent up to war.”

“Faith, if I lead the storm, and have my right, ’tis not my Lady Abbess that I’ll choose,” says Captain Ulric, “but rather some plump, smiling, red-lipped maid like — like ——” Here, as he, the sly fellow, is looking under the veils of the two attendant nuns, the stern Abbess cries, “Silence, fellow, with thy ribald talk! The lady, warrior, whom you ask of me is passed away from sin, temptation, vanity, and three days since our Sister Agnes — died.”

At this announcement Carpezan is immensely agitated. The Abbess calls upon the chaplain to confirm her statement. Ghastly and pale, the old man has to own that three days since the wretched Sister Agnes was buried.

This is too much! In the pocket of his coat of mail Carpezan has a letter from Sister Agnes herself, in which she announces that she is going to be buried indeed, but in an oubliette of the convent, where she may either be kept on water and bread, or die starved outright. He seizes the unflinching Abbess by the arm, whilst Captain Ulric lays hold of the chaplain by the throat. The Colonel blows a blast upon his horn: in rush his furious Lanzknechts from without. Crash, bang! They knock the convent walls about. And in the midst of flames, screams, and slaughter, who is presently brought in by Carpezan himself, and fainting on his shoulder, but Sybilla herself? A little sister nun (that gay one with the red lips) had pointed out to the Colonel and Ulric the way to Sister Agnes’s dungeon, and, indeed, had been the means of making her situation known to the Lutheran chief.

“The convent is suppressed with a vengeance,” says Mr. Warrington. “We end our first act with the burning of the place, the roars of triumph of the soldiery, and the outcries of the nuns. They had best go change their dresses immediately, for they will have to be court ladies in the next act — as you will see.” Here the gentlemen talked the matter over. If the piece were to be done at Drury Lane, Mrs. Pritchard would hardly like to be Lady Abbess, as she doth but appear in the first act. Miss Pritchard might make a pretty Sybilla, and Miss Gates the attendant nun. Mr. Garrick was scarce tall enough for Carpezan — though, when he is excited, nobody ever thinks of him but as big as a grenadier. Mr. Johnson owns Woodward will be a good Ulric, as he plays the Mercutio parts very gaily; and so, by one and t’other, the audience fancies the play already on the boards, and casts the characters.

In act the second, Carpezan has married Sybilla. He has enriched himself in the wars, has been ennobled by the Emperor, and lives at his castle on the Danube in state and splendour.

But, truth to say, though married, rich, and ennobled, the Lord Carpezan was not happy. It may be that in his wild life, as leader of condottieri on both sides, he had committed crimes which agitated his mind with remorse. It may be that his rough soldier-manners consorted ill with his imperious highborn bride. She led him such a life — I am narrating as it were the Warrington manuscript, which is too long to print in entire — taunting him with his low birth, his vulgar companions, whom the old soldier loved to see about him, and so forth — that there were times when he rather wished that he had never rescued this lovely, quarrelsome, wayward vixen from the oubliette out of which he fished her. After the bustle of the first act this is a quiet one, and passed chiefly in quarrelling between the Baron and Baroness Carpezan, until horns blow, and it is announced that the young King of Bohemia and Hungary is coming bunting that way.

Act III. is passed at Prague, whither his Majesty has invited Lord Carpezan and his wife, with noble offers of preferment to the latter. From Baron he shall be promoted to be Count, from Colonel he shall be General-inChief. His wife is the most brilliant and fascinating of all the ladies of the court — and as for Carpzoff ——

“Oh, stay — I have it — I know your story, sir, now,” says Mr. Johnson. “’Tis in ‘Meteranus,’ in the Theatrum Universum. I read it in Oxford as a boy — Carpezanus or Carpzoff ——”

“That is the fourth act,” says Mr. Warrington. In the fourth act the young King’s attentions towards Sybilla grow more and more marked; but her husband, battling against his jealousy, long refuses to yield to it, until his wife’s criminality is put beyond a doubt — and here he read the act, which closes with the terrible tragedy which actually happened. Being convinced of his wife’s guilt, Carpezan caused the executioner who followed his regiment to slay her in her own palace. And the curtain of the act falls just after the dreadful deed is done, in a side-chamber illuminated by the moon shining through a great oriel window, under which the King comes with his lute, and plays the song which was to be the signal between him and his guilty victim.

This song (writ in the ancient style, and repeated in the piece, being sung in the third act previously at a great festival given by the King and Queen) was pronounced by Mr. Johnson to be a happy imitation of Mr. Waller’s manner, and its gay repetition at the moment of guilt, murder, and horror, very much deepened the tragic gloom of the scene.

“But whatever came afterwards?” he asked. “I remember in the Theatrum, Carpezan is said to have been taken into favour again by Count Mansfield, and doubtless to have murdered other folks on the reformed side.”

Here our poet has departed from historic truth. In the fifth act of Carpezan King Louis of Hungary and Bohemia (sufficiently terror-stricken, no doubt, by the sanguinary termination of his intrigue) has received word that the Emperor Solyman is invading his Hungarian dominions. Enter two noblemen who relate how, in the council which the King held upon the news, the injured Carpezan rushed infuriated into the royal presence, broke his sword, and flung it at the King’s feet — along with a glove which he dared him to wear, and which he swore he would one day claim. After that wild challenge the rebel fled from Prague, and had not since been heard of; but it was reported that he had joined the Turkish invader, assumed the turban, and was now in the camp of the Sultan, whose white tents glance across the river yonder, and against whom the King was now on his march. Then the King comes to his tent with his generals, prepares his order of battle; and dismisses them to their posts, keeping by his side an aged and faithful knight, his master of the horse, to whom he expresses his repentance for his past crimes, his esteem for his good and injured Queen, and his determination to meet the day’s battle like a man.

“What is this field called?”

“Mohacz, my liege!” says the old warrior, adding the remark that “Ere set of sun, Mohacz will see a battle bravely won.”

Trumpets and alarms now sound; they are the cymbals and barbaric music of the Janissaries: we are in the Turkish camp, and yonder, surrounded by turbaned chiefs, walks the Sultan Solyman’s friend, the conqueror of Rhodes, the redoubted Grand Vizier.

Who is that warrior in an Eastern habit, but with a glove in his cap? ’Tis Carpezan. Even Solyman knew his courage and ferocity as a soldier. He knows; the ordnance of the Hungarian host; in what arms King Louis is weakest: how his cavalry, of which the shock is tremendous, should be received, and inveigled into yonder morass, where certain death may await them — he prays for a command in the front, and as near as possible to the place where the traitor King Louis will engage. “’Tis well,” says the grim Vizier, “our invincible Emperor surveys the battle from yonder tower. At the end of the day, he will know how to reward your valour.” The signal-guns fire — the trumpets blow — the Turkish captains retire, vowing death to the infidel, and eternal fidelity to the Sultan.

And now the battle begins in earnest, and with those various incidents which the lover of the theatre knoweth. Christian knights and Turkish warriors clash and skirmish over the stage. Continued alarms are sounded. Troops on both sides advance and retreat. Carpezan, with his glove in his cap, and his dreadful hammer smashing all before him, rages about the field, calling for King Louis. The renegade is about to slay a warrior who faces him, but recognising young Ulric, his ex-captain, he drops the uplifted hammer, and bids him fly, and think of Carpezan. He is softened at seeing his young friend, and thinking of former times when they fought and conquered together in the cause of Protestantism. Ulric bids him to return, but of course that is now out of the question. They fight. Ulric will have it, and down he goes under the hammer. The renegade melts in sight of his wounded comrade, when who appears but King Louis, his plumes torn, his sword hacked, his shield dented with a thousand blows which he has received and delivered during the day’s battle. Ha! who is this? The guilty monarch would turn away (perhaps Macbeth may have done so before), but Carpezan is on him. All his softness is gone. He rages like a fury. “An equal fight!” he roars. “A traitor against a traitor! Stand, King Louis! False King, false knight, false friend — by this glove in my helmet, I challenge you!” And he tears the guilty token out of his cap, and flings it at the King.

Of course they set to, and the monarch falls under the terrible arm of the man whom he has injured. He dies, uttering a few incoherent words of repentance, and Carpezan, leaning upon his murderous mace, utters a heartbroken soliloquy over the royal corpse. The Turkish warriors have gathered meanwhile: the dreadful day is their own. Yonder stands the dark Vizier, surrounded by his Janissaries, whose bows and swords are tired of drinking death. He surveys the renegade standing over the corpse of the King.

“Christian renegade!” he says, “Allah has given us a great victory. The arms of the Sublime Emperor are everywhere triumphant. The Christian King is slain by you.”

“Peace to his soul! He died like a good knight,” gasps Ulric, himself dying on the field.

“In this day’s battle,” the grim Vizier continues, “no man hath comported himself more bravely than you. You are made Bassa of Transylvania! Advance bowmen — Fire!”

An arrow quivers in the breast of Carpezan.

“Bassa of Transylvania, you were a traitor to your King, who lies murdered by your hand!” continues grim Vizier. “You contributed more than any soldier to this day’s great victory. ’Tis thus my sublime Emperor meetly rewards you. Sound trumpets! We march for Vienna to-night!”

And the curtain drops as Carpezan, crawling towards his dying comrade, kisses his hands, and gasps —

“Forgive me, Ulric!”

When Mr. Warrington has finished reading his tragedy, he turns round to Mr. Johnson, modestly, and asks —

“What say you, sir? Is there any chance for me?”

But the opinion of this most eminent critic is scarce to be given, for Mr. Johnson had been asleep for some time, and frankly owned that he had lost the latter part of the play.

The little auditory begins to hum and stir as the noise of the speaker ceased. George may have been very nervous when he first commenced to read; but everybody allows that he read the last two acts uncommonly well, and makes him a compliment upon his matter and manner. Perhaps everybody is in good-humour because the piece has come to an end. Mr. Spencer’s servant hands about refreshing drinks. The Templars speak out their various opinions whilst they sip the negus. They are a choice band of critics, familiar with the pit of the theatre, and they treat Mr. Warrington’s play with the gravity which such a subject demands.

Mr. Fountain suggests that the Vizier should not say “Fire!” when he bids the archers kill Carpezan, as you certainly don’t fire with a bow and arrows. A note is taken of the objection.

Mr. Figtree, who is of a sentimental turn, regrets that Ulric could not be saved, and married to the comic heroine.

“Nay, sir, there was an utter annihilation of the Hungarian army at Mohacz,” says Mr. Johnson, “and Ulric must take his knock on the head with the rest. He could only be saved by flight, and you wouldn’t have a hero run away! Pronounce sentence of death against Captain Ulric, but kill him with honours of war.”

Messrs. Essex and Tanfield wonder to one another who is this queer-looking pert whom Spencer has invited, and who contradicts everybody; and suggest a boat up the river and a little fresh air after the fatigues of the tragedy.

The general opinion is decidedly favourable to Mr. Warrington’s performance; and Mr. Johnson’s opinion, on which he sets a special value, is the most favourable of all. Perhaps Mr. Johnson is not sorry to compliment a young gentleman of fashion and figure like Mr. W. “Up to the death of the heroine,” he says, “I am frankly with you, sir. And I may speak, as a playwright who have killed my own heroine, and had my share of the plausus in the atro. To hear your own lines nobly delivered to an applauding house, is indeed a noble excitement. I like to see a young man of good name and lineage who condescends to think that the Tragic Muse is not below his advances. It was to a sordid roof that I invited her, and I asked her to rescue me from poverty and squalor. Happy you, sir, who can meet her upon equal terms, and can afford to marry her without a portion!”

“I doubt whether the greatest genius is not debased who has to make a bargain with Poetry,” remarks Mr. Spencer.

“Nay, sir,” Mr. Johnson answered, “I doubt if many a great genius would work at all without bribes and necessities; and so a man had better marry a poor Muse for good and all, for better or worse, than dally with a rich one. I make you my compliment to your play, Mr. Warrington, and if you want an introduction to the stage, shall be very happy if I can induce my friend Mr. Garrick to present you.”

“Mr. Garrick shall be his sponsor,” cried the florid Mr. Figtree. “Melpomene shall be his godmother, and he shall have the witches’ caldron in Macbeth for a christening font.”

“Sir, I neither said font nor godmother!”— remarks the man of letters. “I would have no play contrary to morals or religion nor, as I conceive, is Mr. Warrington’s piece otherwise than friendly to them. Vice is chastised, as it should be, even in kings, though perhaps we judge of their temptations too lightly. Revenge is punished — as not to be lightly exercised by our limited notion of justice. It may have been Carpezan’s wife who perverted the King, and not the King who led the woman astray. At any rate, Louis is rightly humiliated for his crime, and the Renegade most justly executed for his. I wish you a good afternoon, gentlemen!” And with these remarks, the great author took his leave of the company.

Towards the close of the reading, General Lambert had made his appearance at Mr. Spencer’s chambers, and had listened to the latter part of the tragedy. The performance over, he and George took their way to the latter’s lodgings in the first place, and subsequently to the General’s own house, where the young author was expected, in order to recount the reception which his play had met from his Temple critics.

At Mr. Warrington’s apartments in Southampton Row, they found a letter awaiting George, which the latter placed in his pocket unread, so that he might proceed immediately with his companion to Soho. We may be sure the ladies there were eager to know about the Carpezan’s fate in the morning’s small rehearsal.

Hetty said George was so shy, that perhaps it would be better for all parties if some other person had read the play. Theo, on the contrary, cried out:

“Read it, indeed! Who can read a poem better than the author who feels it in his heart? And George had his whole heart in the piece!”

Mr. Lambert very likely thought that somebody else’s whole heart was in the piece too, but did not utter this opinion to Miss Theo.

“I think Harry would look very well in your figure of a Prince,” says the General. “That scene where he takes leave of his wife before departing for the wars reminds me of your brother’s manner not a little.”

“Oh, papa! surely Mr. Warrington himself would act the Prince’s part best!” cries Miss Theo.

“And be deservedly slain in battle at the end?” asks the father of the house.

“I did not say that — only that Mr. George would make a very good Prince, papa!” cries Miss Theo.

“In which case he would find a suitable Princess, I have no doubt. What news of your brother Harry?”

George, who had been thinking about theatrical triumphs; about monumentum aere perennius; about lilacs; about love whispered and tenderly accepted, remembers that he has a letter from Harry in his pocket, and gaily produces it.

“Let us hear what Mr. Truant says for himself, Aunt Lambert!” cries George, breaking the seal.

Why is he so disturbed, as he reads the contents of his letter? Why do the women look at him with alarmed eyes? And why, above all, is Hetty so pale?

“Here is the letter,” says George, and begins to read it:

“RYDE, June 1, 1758.

“I did not tell my dearest George what I hoped and intended, when I left home on Wednesday. ’Twas to see Mr. Webb at Portsmouth or the Isle of Wight, wherever his Regiment was, and if need was to go down on my knees to him to take me as volunteer on the Expedition. I took boat from Portsmouth, where I learned that he was with our regiment incampt at the village of Ryde. Was received by him most kindly, and my petition granted out of hand. That is why I say our regiment. We are eight gentlemen volunteers with Mr. Webb, all men of birth, and good fortunes except poor me, who don’t deserve one. We are to mess with the officers; we take the right of the collumn, and have always the right to be in front, and in an hour we embark on board his Majesty’s Ship the Rochester of 60 guns, while our Commodore’s, Mr. Howe’s, is the Essex, 70. His squadron is about 20 ships, and I should think 100 transports at least. Though ’tis a secret expedition, we make no doubt France is our destination — where I hope to see my friends the Monsieurs once more, and win my colours, a la point de mon epee, as we used to say in Canada. Perhaps my service as interpreter may be useful; I speaking the language not so well as some one I know, but better than most here.

“I scarce venture to write to our mother to tell her of this step. Will you, who have a coxing tongue will wheadle any one, write to her as soon as you have finisht the famous tradgedy? Will you give my affectionate respects to dear General Lambert and ladies? and if any accident should happen, I know you will take care of poor Gumbo as belonging to my dearest best George’s most affectionate brother, HENRY E. WARRINGTON.

“P.S. — Love to all at home when you write, including Dempster, Mountain, and Fanny M. and all the people, and duty to my honoured mother, wishing I had pleased her better. And if I said anything unkind to dear Miss Hester Lambert, I know she will forgive me, and pray God bless all. — H. E. W.”

“To G. Esmond Warrington, Esq., at Mr. Scrace’s House in Southampton Row, Opposite Bedford House Gardens, London.”

He has not read the last words with a very steady voice. Mr. Lambert sits silent, though not a little moved. Theo and her mother look at one another; but Hetty remains with a cold face and a stricken heart. She thinks, “He is gone to danger, perhaps to death, and it was I sent him!”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/virginians/chapter63.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07