Pickle seems tolerably well reconciled to his Cage; and is by the Clergyman entertained with the Memoirs of a Noted Personage, whom he sees by accident in the Fleet.
The knight had scarce finished his narrative, when our hero was told, that a gentleman in the coffee-room wanted to see him; and when he went thither, he found his friend Crabtree, who had transacted all his affairs, according to the determination of the preceding day; and now gave him an account of the remarks he overheard, on the subject of his misfortune; for the manner of the arrest was so public and extraordinary, that those who were present immediately propagated it among their acquaintance, and it was that same evening discoursed upon at several tea and card tables, with this variation from the truth, that the debt amounted to twelve thousand, instead of twelve hundred pounds. From which circumstance it was conjectured, that Peregrine was a bite from the beginning, who had found credit on account of his effrontery and appearance, and imposed himself upon the town as a young gentleman of fortune. They rejoiced, therefore, at his calamity, which they considered as a just punishment for his fraud and presumption, and began to review certain particulars of his conduct, that plainly demonstrated him to be a rank adventurer, long before he had arrived at this end of his career.
Pickle, who now believed his glory was set for ever, received this intelligence with that disdain which enables a man to detach himself effectually from the world, and, with great tranquility, gave the misanthrope an entertaining detail of what he had seen and heard since their last parting. While they amused themselves in this manner over a dish of coffee they were joined by the parson, who congratulated our hero upon his bearing mischance with such philosophic quite, and began to regale the two friends with some curious circumstances relating to the private history of the several prisoners, as they happened to come in. At length a gentleman entered; at sight of whom the clergyman rose up, and saluted him with a most reverential bow, which was graciously returned by the stranger, who, with a young man that attended him, retired to the other end of the room. They were no sooner out of hearing, than the communicative priest desired his company to take particular notice of this person to whom he had paid his respects. “That man,” said he, “is this day one of the most flagrant instances of neglected virtue which the world can produce. Over and above a cool discerning head, fraught with uncommon learning and experience, he is possessed of such fortitude and resolution, as no difficulties can discourage, and no danger impair; and so indefatigable in his humanity, that even now, while he is surrounded with such embarrassments as would distract the brain of an ordinary mortal, he has added considerably to his encumbrances, by taking under his protection that young gentleman, who, induced by his character, appealed to his benevolence for redress of the grievances under which he labours from the villainy of guardian.”
Peregrine’s curiosity being excited by this encomium, asked the name of this generous patron, of which when he was informed, “I am no stranger,” said he, “to the fame of that gentleman, who has made a considerable noise in the world, on account of that great cause he undertook in defence of an unhappy orphan; and, since he is a person of such an amiable disposition, I am heartily sorry to find that his endeavours have not met with that successful issue which their good fortune in the beginning seemed to promise. Indeed, the circumstance of his espousing that cause was so uncommon and romantic and the depravity of the human heart so universal, that some people, unacquainted with his real character, imagined his views were altogether selfish; and some were not wanting, who affirmed he was a mere adventurer. Nevertheless, I must do him the justice to own, I have heard some of the most virulent of those who were concerned on the other side of the question, bear testimony in his favour, observing, that he was deceived into the expense of the whole, by the plausible story which at first engaged his compassion. Your description of his character confirms me in the same opinion, though I am quite ignorant of the affair; the particulars of which I should be glad to learn, as well as the genuine account of his own life, many circumstances of which are by his enemies, I believe, egregiously misrepresented.”
“Sir,” answered the priest, “that is a piece of satisfaction which I am glad to find myself capable of giving you. I have had the pleasure of being acquainted with Mr. M— from his youth, and everything which I shall relate concerning him, you may depend upon as a fact which hath fallen under my own cognizance, or been vouched upon the credit of undoubted evidence. “Mr. M—‘s father was a minister of the established church of Scotland, descended from a very ancient clan, and his mother nearly related to a noble family in the northern part of that kingdom. While the son was boarded at a public school, where he made good progress in the Latin tongue, his father died, and he was left an orphan to the care of an uncle, who, finding him determined against any servile employment, kept him at school, that he might prepare himself for the university, with a view of being qualified for his father’s profession.
“Here his imagination was so heated by the warlike achievements he found recorded in the Latin authors, such as Caesar, Curtius, and Buchanan, that he was seized with an irresistible thirst of military glory, and desire of trying his fortune in the army. His Majesty’s troops taking the field, in consequence of the rebellion which happened in the year seventeen hundred and fifteen, this young adventurer, thinking no life equal to that of a soldier, found means to furnish himself with a fusil and bayonet, and, leaving the school, repaired to the camp near Stirling with a view of signalizing himself in the field, though he was at that time but just turned of thirteen. He offered his service to several officers, in hope of being enlisted in their companies; but they would not receive him, because they rightly concluded, that he was some schoolboy broke loose, without the knowledge or consent of his relations. Notwithstanding this discouragement, he continued in camp, curiously prying into every part of the service; and such was the resolution conspicuous in him, even at such a tender age, that, after his small finances were exhausted, he persisted in his design; and, because he would not make his wants known, actually subsisted for several days on hips, haws, and sloes, and other spontaneous fruits, which he gathered in the woods and fields. Meanwhile, he never failed to be present, when any regiment or corps of men were drawn out to be exercised and reviewed, and accompanied them in all their evolutions, which he had learned to great perfection, by observing the companies which were quartered in the place where he was at school. This eagerness and perseverance attracted the notice of many officers, who, after having commended his spirit and zeal, pressed him to return to his parents, and even threatened to expel him from the camp, if he would not comply with their advice.
“These remonstrances having no other effect than that of warning him to avoid his monitors, they thought proper to alter their behaviour towards him, took him into their protection, and even into their mess, and what, above all other marks of favour, pleased the young soldier most, permitted him to incorporate in the battalion, and take his turn of duty with the other men. In this happy situation he was discovered by a relation of his mother, who was a captain in the army, and who used all his authority and influence in persuading M— to return to school; but, finding him deaf to his admonitions and threats, he took him under his own care, and, when the army marched to Dumblane, left him at Stirling with express injunctions to keep himself within the walls.
“He temporized with his kinsman, fearing that, should he seem refractory, the captain would have ordered him to be shut up in the castle. Inflamed with the desire of seeing a battle, his relation no sooner marched off the ground, than he mixed in with another regiment, to which his former patrons belonged, and proceeded to the field, where he distinguished himself, even at that early time of life, by his gallantry, in helping to retrieve a pair of colours belonging to M— n’s regiment; so that, after the affair, he was presented to the duke of Argyll, and recommended strongly to Brigadier Grant, who invited him into his regiment, and promised to provide for him with the first opportunity. But that gentleman in a little time lost his command upon the duke’s disgrace, and the regiment was ordered for Ireland, being given to Colonel Nassau, whose favour the young volunteer acquired to such a degree, that he was recommended to the king for his ensigncy, which in all probability he would have obtained, had not the regiment been unluckily reduced.
“In consequence of this reduction, which happened in the most severe season of the year, he was obliged to return to his own country, through infinite hardships, to which he was exposed from the narrowness of his circumstances. And continuing still enamoured of a military life, he entered into the regiment of Scots Greys, at that time commanded by the late Sir James Campbell, who, being acquainted with his family and character, encouraged him with a promise of speedy preferment. In this corps he remained three years, during which he had no opportunity of seeing actual service, except at the affair of Glensheel; and this life of insipid quiet must have hung heavy upon a youth of M—‘s active disposition, had not he found exercise for the mind, in reading books of amusement, history, voyages, and geography, together with those that treated of the art of war, ancient and modem, for which he contracted such an eager appetite, that he used to spend sixteen hours a day in this employment. About that time he became acquainted with a gentleman of learning and taste, who observing his indefatigable application, and insatiable thirst after knowledge, took upon himself the charge of superintending his studies; and, by the direction of such an able guide, the young soldier converted his attention to a more solid and profitable course of reading. So inordinate was his desire of making speedy advances in the paths of learning, that within the compass of three months, he diligently perused the writings of Locke and Malebranche, and made himself master of the first six and of the eleventh and twelfth books of Euclid’s Elements. He considered Puffendorf and Grotius with uncommon care, acquired a tolerable degree of knowledge in the French language, and his imagination was so captivated with the desire of learning, that, seeing no prospect of a war, or views of being provided for in the service, he quitted the army, and went through a regular course of university education. Having made such progress in his studies, he resolved to qualify himself for the church, and acquired such a stock of school divinity, under the instructions of a learned professor at Edinburgh, that he more than once mounted the rostrum in the public hall, and held forth with uncommon applause. But being discouraged from a prosecution of his plan, by the unreasonable austerity of some of the Scotch clergy, by whom the most indifferent and innocent words and actions were often misconstrued into levity and misconduct, he resolved to embrace the first favourable opportunity of going abroad, being inflamed with the desire of seeing foreign countries; and actually set out for Holland, where, for the space of two years, he studied the Roman law, with the law of nature and nations, under the famous professors Tolieu and Barbeyrac.
“Having thus finished his school education, he set out for Paris, with a view to make himself perfect in the French language, and learn such useful exercises, as might be acquired with the wretched remnant of his slender estate, which was by that time reduced very low. In his journey through the Netherlands, he went to Namur, and paid his respects to Bishop Strickland and General Collier, by whom he was received with great civility, in consequence of letters of recommendation, with which he was provided from the Hague; and the old general assured him of his protection and interest for a pair of colours, if he was disposed to enter into the Dutch service. Though he was by that time pretty well cured of his military quixotism, he would not totally decline the generous proffer, for which he thanked him in the most grateful terms, telling the general that he would pay his duty to him on his return from France, and then, if he could determine upon re-engaging in the army, should think himself highly honoured in being under his command.
“After a stay of two months in Flanders, he proceeded to Paris, and, far from taking up his habitation in the suburbs of St. Germain, according to the custom of English travellers, he hired a private lodging on the other side of the river, and associated chiefly with French officers, who, their youthful sallies being over, are allowed to be the politest gentlemen of that kingdom. In this scheme he found his account so much, that he could not but wonder at the folly of his countrymen, who lose the main scope of their going abroad, by spending their time and fortune idly with one another.
“During his residence in Holland, he had made himself acquainted with the best authors in the French language, so that he was able to share in their conversation; a circumstance from which he found great benefit; for it not only improved him in his knowledge of that tongue, but also tended to the enlargement of his acquaintance, in the course of which he contracted intimacies in some families of good fashion, especially those of the long robe, which would have enabled him to pass his time very agreeably, had he been a little easier in point of fortune. But his finances, notwithstanding the most rigid economy, being in a few months reduced to a very low ebb, the prospect of indigence threw a damp upon all his pleasures, though he never suffered himself to be thereby in any degree dispirited; being in that respect of so happy a disposition, that conscious poverty or abundance made very slight impressions upon his mind. This consumption of his cash, however, involved him in some perplexity, and he deliberated with himself, whether he should return to General Collier, or repair to London, where he might possibly fall into some business not unbecoming a gentleman; though he was very much mortified to find himself incapable of gratifying an inordinate desire which possessed him of making the grand tour, or, at least, of visiting the southern parts of France.
“While he thus hesitated between different suggestions, he was one morning visited by a gentleman who had sought and cultivated his friendship, and for whom he had done a good office, in supporting him with spirit against a brutal German, with whom he had an affair of honour. This gentleman came to propose a party for a fortnight, to Fontainebleau, where the court then was; and the proposal being declined by M— with more than usual stiffness, his friend was very urgent to know the reason of his refusal, and at length, with some confusion, said, ‘Perhaps your finances are low?’ M— replied, that he had wherewithal to defray the expense of his journey to London, where he could be furnished with a fresh supply; and this answer was no sooner made, than the other taking him by the hand, ‘My dear friend,’ said he, ‘I am not unacquainted with your affairs, and would have offered you my credit long ago, if I had thought it would be acceptable; even now, I do not pretend to give you money, but desire and insist upon it, that you will accept of the loan of these two pieces of paper, to be repaid when you marry a woman with a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, or obtain an employment of a thousand a year.’ So saying, he presented him with two actions of above two thousand livres each.
“M— was astonished at this unexpected instance of generosity, in a stranger, and, with suitable acknowledgment, peremptorily refused to incur such an obligation; but at length he was, by dint of importunity and warm expostulation, prevailed upon to accept one of the actions, on condition that the gentleman would take his note for the sum; and this he absolutely rejected, until M— promised to draw upon him for double the value or more, in case he should at any time want a further supply. This uncommon act of friendship and generosity, afterwards had an opportunity to repay tenfold, though he could not help regretting the occasion, on his friend’s account. That worthy man having, by placing too much confidence in a villainous lawyer, and a chain of other misfortunes, involved himself and his amiable lady in a labyrinth of difficulties, which threatened the total ruin of his family, M— felt the inexpressible satisfaction of delivering his benefactor from the snare.
“Being thus reinforced by the generosity of his friend, M— resolved to execute his former plan of seeing the south of France, together with the sea-ports of Spain, as far as Cadiz, from whence he proposed to take a passage for London by sea; and, with this view, sent forward his trunks by the diligence to Lyons, determined to ride post, in order to enjoy a better view of the country, and for the conveniency of stopping at those places where there was anything remarkable to be seen or inquired into. While he was employed in taking leave of his Parisian friends, who furnished him with abundant recommendation, a gentleman of his own country, who spoke little or no French, hearing of his intention, begged the favour of accompanying him in his expedition. With this new companion, therefore, he set out for Lyons, where he was perfectly well received by the intendant and some of the best families of the place, in consequence of his letters of recommendation; and, after a short stay in that city, proceeded down the Rhone to Avignon, in what is called the coche d’eau; then visiting the principal towns of Dauphiny, Languedoc, and Provence, he returned to the delightful city of Marseilles, where he and his fellow-traveller were so much captivated by the serenity of the air, the good-nature and hospitality of the sprightly inhabitants, that they never dreamed of changing their quarters during the whole winter and part of the spring: here he acquired the acquaintance of the Marquis d’Argens, attorney-general in the parliament of Aix, and of his eldest son, who now makes so great a figure in the literary world; and when the affair of Father Girard and Mademoiselle Cadiere began to make a noise, he accompanied these two gentlemen to Toulon, where the marquis was ordered to take a precognition of the facts.
“On his return to Marseilles, he found a certain noble lord of great fortune, under the direction of a Swiss governor, who had accommodated him with two of his own relations, of the same country, by way of companions, together with five servants in his train. They being absolute strangers in the place, M— introduced them to the intendant, and several other good families, and had the good fortune to be so agreeable to his lordship, that he proposed and even pressed him to live with him in England as a friend and companion, and to take upon him the superintendence of his affairs, in which case he would settle upon him four hundred a year for life.
“This proposal was too advantageous to be slighted by a person of no fortune, or fixed establishment: he therefore made no difficulty of closing with it; but, as his lordship’s departure was fixed to a short day, and he urged him to accompany him to Paris, and from thence to England, M— thought it would be improper and indecent to interfere with the office of his governor, who might take umbrage at his favour, and therefore excused himself from a compliance with his lordship’s request, until his minority should be expired, as he was within a few months of being of age. However, he repeated his importunities so earnestly, and the governor joined in the request with such appearance of cordiality, that he was prevailed upon to comply with their joint desire; and in a few days set out with them for Paris, by the way of Lyons. But, before they had been three days in the city, M— perceived a total change in the behaviour of the Swiss and his two relations, who, in all probability, became jealous of his influence with his lordship; and he no sooner made this discovery, than he resolved to withdraw himself from such a disagreeable participation of that young nobleman’s favour. He, therefore, in spite of all his lordship’s entreaties and remonstrances, quitted him for the present, alleging, as a pretext, that he had a longing desire to see Switzerland and the banks of the Rhine, and promising to meet him again in England.
“This his intention being made known to the governor and his friends, their countenances immediately cleared up, their courtesy and complaisance returned, and they even furnished him with letters for Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, and Soleures; in consequence of which he met with unusual civilities at these places. Having made this tour with his Scotch friend, who came up to him before he left Lyons, and visited the most considerable towns on both sides of the Rhine, and the courts of the electors Palatine, Mentz, and Cologne, he arrived in Holland; and from thence, through the Netherlands, repaired to London, where he found my lord just returned from Paris.
“His lordship received him with expressions of uncommon joy, would not suffer him to stir from him for several days, and introduced him to his relations. M— accompanied his lordship from London to his country seat, where he was indeed treated with great friendship and confidence, and consulted in everything; but the noble peer never once made mention of the annuity which he had promised to settle upon him, nor did M— remind him of it, because he conceived it was his affair to fulfil his engagements of his own accord. M— being tired of the manner of living at this place, made an excursion to Bath, where he stayed about a fortnight, to partake of the diversions, and, upon his return, found his lordship making dispositions for another journey to Paris.
“Surprised at this sudden resolution, he endeavoured to dissuade him from it; but his remonstrances were rendered ineffectual by the insinuations of a foreigner who had come over with him, and filled his imagination with extravagant notions of pleasure, infinitely superior to any which he could enjoy while he was in the trammels and under the restraints of a governor. He, therefore, turned a deaf ear to all M—‘s arguments, and entreated him to accompany him in the journey; but this gentleman, foreseeing that a young man, like my lord, of strong passions, and easy to be misled, would, in all probability, squander away great sums of money, in a way that would neither do credit to himself, or to those who were concerned with him, resisted all his solicitations, on pretence of having business of consequence at London; and afterwards had reason to be extremely well pleased with his own conduct in this particular.
“Before he set out on this expedition, M — in justice to himself, reminded him of the proposal which he had made to him at Marseilles, desiring to know if he had altered his design in that particular; in which case he would turn his thoughts some other way, as he would not in the least be thought to intrude or pin himself upon any man. My lord protested in the most solemn manner, that he still continued in his former resolution, and, again beseeching him to bear him company into France, promised that everything should be settled to his satisfaction upon their return to England. M — however, still persisted in his refusal, for the above-mentioned reasons, and, though he never heard more of the annuity, he nevertheless continued to serve his lordship with his advice and good offices ever after; particularly in directing his choice to an alliance with a lady of eminent virtue, the daughter of a noble lord, more conspicuous for his shining parts than the splendour of his titles; a circumstance upon which he always reflected with particular satisfaction, as well on account of the extraordinary merit of the lady, as because it vested in her children a considerable part of that great estate, which of right belonged to her grandmother, and afterwards put him in a way to retrieve his estate from a heavy load of debt he had contracted. When my lord set out on his Paris expedition, the money M— had received from his generous friend at Paris was almost reduced to the last guinea. He had not yet reaped the least benefit from his engagements with his lordship; and, disdaining to ask for a supply from him, he knew not how to subsist, with any degree of credit, till his return.
“This uncomfortable prospect was the more disagreeable to him, as, at that time of life, he was much inclined to appear in the gay world, had contracted a taste for plays, operas, and other public diversions, and acquired an acquaintance with many people of good fashion, which could not be maintained without a considerable expense. In this emergency, he thought he could not employ his idle time more profitably than in translating, from foreign languages, such books as were then chiefly in vogue; and upon application to a friend, who was a man of letters, he was furnished with as much business of that kind as he could possibly manage, and wrote some pamphlets on the reigning controversies of that time, that had the good fortune to please. He was also concerned in a monthly journal of literature, and the work was carried on by the two friends jointly, though M— did not at all appear in the partnership. By these means he not only spent his mornings in useful exercise but supplied himself with money for what the French call the menus plaisirs, during the whole summer. He frequented all the assemblies in and about London, and considerably enlarged his acquaintance among the fair sex.
“He had, upon his first arrival in England, become acquainted with a lady at an assembly not far from London; and though, at that time, he had no thoughts of extending his views farther than the usual gallantry of the place, he met with such distinguishing marks of her regard in the sequel, and was so particularly encouraged by the advice of another lady, with whom he had been intimate in France, and who was now of their parties, that he could not help entertaining hopes of making an impression upon the heart of his agreeable partner, who was a young lady of an ample fortune and great expectations. He therefore cultivated her good graces with all the assiduity and address of which he was master, and succeeded so well in his endeavours, that, after a due course of attendance, and the death of an aunt, by which she received an accession of fortune to the amount of three and twenty thousand pounds, he ventured to declare his passion, and she not only heard him with patience and approbation, but also replied in terms adequate to his warmest wish.
“Finding himself so favourably received, he pressed her to secure his happiness by marriage; but, to this proposal, she objected the recency of her kinswoman’s death, which would have rendered such a step highly indecent, and the displeasure of her other relations, from whom she had still greater expectations, and who, at that time, importuned her to marry a cousin of her own, whom she could not like. However, that M— might have no cause to repine at her delay, she freely entered with him into an intimacy of correspondence; during which nothing could have added to their mutual felicity, which was the more poignant and refined, from the mysterious and romantic manner of their enjoying it; for, though he publicly visited her as an acquaintance, his behaviour on these occasions was always so distant, respectful, and reserved, that the rest of the company could not possibly suspect the nature of their reciprocal attachment; in consequence of which they used to have private interviews, unknown to every soul upon earth, except her maid, who was necessarily entrusted with the secret.
“In this manner they enjoyed the conversation of each other for above twelve months, without the least interruption; and though the stability of Mr. M—‘s fortune depended entirely upon their marriage, yet as he perceived his mistress so averse to it, he never urged it with vehemence, nor was at all anxious on that score, being easily induced to defer a ceremony, which, as he then thought, could in no shape have added to their satisfaction, though he hath since altered his sentiments. Be that as it will, his indulgent mistress, in order to set his mind at ease in that particular, and in full confidence of his honour, insisted on his accepting a deed of gift of her whole fortune, in consideration of her intended marriage; and, after some difficulty, he was prevailed upon to receive this proof of her esteem, well knowing that it would still be in his power to return the obligation. Though she often entreated him to take upon himself the entire administration of her finances, and upon divers occasions pressed him to accept of large sums, he never once abused her generous disposition, or solicited her for money, except for some humane purpose, which she was always more ready to fulfil than he to propose.
“In the course of this correspondence, he became acquainted with some of her female relations, and, among the rest, with a young lady, so eminently adorned with all the qualifications of mind and person, that, notwithstanding all his philosophy and caution, he could not behold and converse with her, without being deeply smitten with her charms. He did all in his power to discourage this dangerous invasion in the beginning, and to conceal the least symptom of it from her relation; he summoned all his reflection to his aid, and, thinking it would be base and dishonest to cherish any sentiment repugnant to the affection which he owed to a mistress who had placed such unlimited confidence in him, he attempted to stifle the infant flame, by avoiding the amiable inspirer of it. But the passion had taken too deep a root in his heart to be so easily extirpated; his absence from the dear object increased the impatience of his love: the intestine conflict between that and gratitude deprived him of his rest and appetite. He was, in a short time, emaciated by continual watching, anxiety, and want of nourishment, and so much altered from his usual cheerfulness, that his mistress, being surprised and alarmed at the change, which, from the symptoms, she judged was owing to some uneasiness of mind, took all imaginable pains to discover the cause. In all probability it did not escape her penetration; for she more than once asked if he was in love with her cousin; protesting that, far from being an obstacle to his happiness, she would, in that case, be an advocate for his passion. However, this declaration was never made without manifest signs of anxiety and uneasiness, which made such an impression upon the heart of M — that he resolved to sacrifice his happiness, and even his life, rather than take any step which might be construed into an injury or insult to a person who had treated him with such generosity and goodness.
“In consequence of this resolution, he formed another, which was to go abroad, under pretence of recovering his health, but in reality to avoid the temptation, as well as the suspicion of being inconstant; and in this design he was confirmed by his physician, who actually thought him in the first stage of a consumption, and therefore advised him to repair to the south of France. He communicated his design, with the doctor’s opinion, to the lady, who agreed to it with much less difficulty than he found in conquering his own reluctance at parting with the dear object of his love. The consent of his generous mistress being obtained, he waited upon her with the instrument whereby she had made the conveyance of her fortune to him; and all his remonstrances being insufficient to persuade her to take it back, he cancelled it in her presence, and placed it in that state upon her toilet, while she was dressing; whereupon she shed a torrent of tears, saying, she now plainly perceived that he wanted to tear himself from her, and that his affections were settled upon another. He was sensibly affected by this proof of her concern, and endeavoured to calm the perturbation of her mind, by vowing eternal fidelity, and pressing her to accept of his hand in due form before his departure. By these means her transports were quieted for the present, and the marriage deferred for the same prudential reasons which had hitherto prevented it.
“Matters being thus compromised, and the day fixed for his departure, she, together with her faithful maid, one morning visited him for the first time at his own lodgings; and, after breakfast, desiring to speak with him in private, he conducted her into another room, where assuming an unusual gravity of aspect, ‘My dear M — ’ said she, ‘you are now going to leave me, and God alone knows if ever we shall meet again; therefore, if you really love me with that tenderness which you profess, you will accept of this mark of my friendship and unalterable affection; it will at least be a provision for your journey, and if an accident should befall me, before I have the happiness of receiving you again into my arms, I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that you are not altogether without resource.’ So saying, she put an embroidered pocket-book into his hand. He expressed the high sense he had of her generosity and affection in the most pathetic terms, and begged leave to suspend his acceptance, until he should know the contents of her present, which was so extraordinary, that he absolutely refused to receive it. He was, however, by her repeated entreaties, in a manner compelled to receive about one-half, and she afterwards insisted upon his taking a reinforcement of a considerable sum for the expense of his journey.
“Having stayed with her ten days beyond the time he had fixed for his departure, and settled the method of their correspondence, he took his leave, with a heart full of sorrow, anxiety, and distraction, produced from the different suggestions of his duty and love. He then set out for France, and, after a short stay at Paris, proceeded to Aix in Provence, and from thence to Marseilles, at which two places he continued for some months. But nothing he met with being able to dissipate those melancholy ideas which still preyed upon his imagination, and affected his spirits, he endeavoured to elude them with a succession of new objects; and, with that view, persuaded a counsellor of the parliament of Aix, a man of great worth, learning, and good-humour, to accompany him in making a tour of those parts of France which he had not yet seen. On their return from this excursion, they found at Aix an Italian abbe, a person of character, and great knowledge of men and books, who, having travelled all over Germany and France, was so far on his return to his own country.
“M— having, by means of his friend the counsellor, contracted an acquaintance with this gentleman, and, being desirous of seeing some parts of Italy, particularly the carnival at Venice, they set out together from Marseilles in a tartan for Genoa, coasting it all the way, and lying on shore every night. Having shown him what was most remarkable in this city, his friend the abbe was so obliging as to conduct him through Tuscany, and the most remarkable cities in Lombardy, to Venice, where M— insisted upon defraying the expense of the whole tour, in consideration of the abbe’s complaisance, which had been of infinite service to him in the course of this expedition. Having remained five weeks at Venice, he was preparing to set out for Rome, with some English gentlemen whom he had met by accident, when he was all of a sudden obliged to change his resolution by some disagreeable letters which he received from London. He had, from his first departure, corresponded with his generous, though inconstant mistress, with a religious exactness and punctuality; nor was she, for some time, less observant of the agreement they had made. Nevertheless, she, by degrees, became so negligent and cold in her expression, and so slack in her correspondence, that he could not help observing and upbraiding her with such indifference; and her endeavours to palliate it were supported by pretexts so frivolous, as to be easily seen through by a lover of very little discernment.
“While he tortured himself with conjectures about the cause of this unexpected change, he received such intelligence from England, as, when joined with what he himself had perceived by her manner of writing, left him little or no room to doubt of her fickleness and inconstancy. Nevertheless, as he knew by experience that informations of that kind are not to be entirely relied upon, he resolved to be more certainly apprised: and, for that end, departed immediately for London, by the way of Tyrol, Bavaria, Alsace, and Paris. On his arrival in England, he learned, with infinite concern, that his intelligence had not been at all exaggerated; and his sorrow was inexpressible to find a person endowed with so many other noble and amiable qualities, seduced into an indiscretion, that of necessity ruined the whole plan which had been concerted between them for their mutual happiness. She made several attempts, by letters and interviews, to palliate her conduct, and soften him into a reconciliation; but his honour being concerned, he remained deaf to all her entreaties and proposals. Nevertheless, I have often heard him say, that he could not help loving her, and revering the memory of a person to whose generosity and goodness he owed his fortune, and one whose foibles were overbalanced by a thousand good qualities. He often insisted on making restitution; but far from complying with that proposal, she afterwards often endeavoured to lay him under yet greater obligations of the same kind, and importuned him with the warmest solicitations to renew their former correspondence, which he as often declined.
“M— took this instance of the inconstancy of the sex so much to heart, that he had almost resolved for the future to keep clear of all engagements for life, and returned to Paris, in order to dissipate his anxiety, where he hired an apartment in one of the academies, in the exercises whereof he took singular delight. During his residence at this place, he had the good fortune to ingratiate himself with a great general, a descendant of one of the most ancient and illustrious families in France; having attracted his notice by some remarks he had written on Folard’s Polybius, which were accidentally shown to that great man by one of his aides-de-camp, who was a particular friend of M—. The favour he had thus acquired was strengthened by his assiduities and attention. Upon his return to London, he sent some of Handel’s newest compositions to the prince, who was particularly fond of that gentleman’s productions, together with Clark’s edition of Caesar; and, in the spring of the same year, before the French army took the field, he was honoured with a most obliging letter from the prince, inviting him to come over, if he wanted to see the operations of the campaign, and desiring he would give himself no trouble about his equipage.
“M— having still some remains of a military disposition, and this to be a more favourable opportunity than any he should ever meet with again, readily embraced the offer, and sacrificed the soft delights of love, which at that time he enjoyed without control, to an eager, laborious, and dangerous curiosity. In that and the following campaign, during which he was present at the siege of Philipsburgh, and several other actions, he enlarged his acquaintance among the French officers, especially those of the graver sort, who had a taste for books and literature; and the friendship and interest of those gentlemen were afterwards of singular service to him, though in an affair altogether foreign from their profession. “He had all along made diligent inquiry into the trade and manufactures of the countries through which he had occasion to travel, more particularly those of Holland, England, and France; and, as he was well acquainted with the revenue and farms of this last kingdom, he saw with concern the great disadvantages under which our tobacco trade, the most considerable branch of our commerce with that people, was carried on; what inconsiderable returns were made to the planters, out of the low price given by the French company; and how much it was in the power of that company to reduce it still lower. M— had formed a scheme to remedy this evil, so far as it related to the national loss or gain, by not permitting the duty of one penny in the pound, old subsidy, to be drawn back, on tobacco, re-exported. He demonstrated to the ministry of that time, that so inconsiderable a duty could not in the least diminish the demand from abroad, which was the only circumstance to be apprehended, and that the yearly produce of that revenue would amount to one hundred and twenty thousand pounds, without one shilling additional expense to the public; but the ministry having the excise scheme then in contemplation, could think of no other till that should be tried; and that project having miscarried, he renewed his application, when they approved of his scheme in every particular, but discovered a surprising backwardness to carry it into execution.
“His expectations in this quarter being disappointed, he, by the interposition of his friends, presented a plan to the French company, in which he set forth the advantages that would accrue to themselves from fixing the price, and securing that sort of tobacco which best suited the taste of the public and their manufacture; and finally proposed to furnish them with any quantity, at the price which they paid in the port of London.
“After some dispute, they agreed to this proposal, and contracted with him for fifteen thousand hogsheads a year, for which they obliged themselves to pay ready money, on its arrival in any one or more convenient ports in the south or western coasts of Great Britain that he should please to fix upon for that purpose. M— no sooner obtained this contract, than he immediately set out for America, in order to put it in execution; and, by way of companion, carried with him a little French abbe, a man of humour, wit, and learning, with whom he had been long acquainted, and for whom he had done many good offices.
“On his arrival in Virginia, which opportunely happened at a time when all the gentlemen were assembled in the capital of that province, he published a memorial, representing the disadvantages under which their trade was carried on, the true method of redressing their own grievances in that respect, and proposing to contract with them for the yearly quantity of fifteen thousand hogsheads of such tobacco as was fit for the French market, at the price which he demonstrated to be considerably greater than that which they had formerly received. This remonstrance met with all the success and encouragement he could expect. The principal planters, seeing their own interest concerned, readily assented to the proposal, which, through their influence, was also relished by the rest; and the only difficulty that remained, related to the security for payment of the bills on the arrival of the tobacco in England, and to the time stipulated for the continuance of the contract.
“In order to remove these objections, Mr. M— returned to Europe, and found the French company of farmers disposed to agree to everything he desired for facilitating the execution of the contract, and perfectly well pleased with the sample which he had already sent; but his good friend the abbe, whom he had left behind him in America, by an unparalleled piece of treachery, found means to overturn the whole project. He secretly wrote a memorial to the company, importing, that he found, by experience, M— could afford to furnish them at a much lower price than that which they had agreed to give; and that, by being in possession of the contract for five years, as was intended according to the proposal, he would have the company so much in his power, that they must afterwards submit to any price he should please to impose; and that, if they thought him worth of such a trust, he would undertake to furnish them at an easier rate, in conjunction with some of the leading men in Virginia and Maryland, with whom, he said, he had already concerted measures for that purpose.
“The company were so much alarmed at these insinuations, that they declined complying with Mr. M—‘s demands until the abbe’s return; and, though they afterwards used all their endeavours to persuade him to be concerned with that little traitor in his undertaking, by which he might still have been a very considerable gainer, he resisted all their solicitations, and plainly told them, in the abbe’s presence, that he would never prostitute his own principles so far, as to enter into engagements of any kind with a person of his character, much less in a scheme that had a manifest tendency to lower the market price of tobacco in England.
“Thus ended a project the most extensive, simple, and easy, and, as appeared by the trial made, the best calculated to raise an immense fortune of any that was ever undertaken or planned by a private person; a project, in the execution of which M— had the good of the public, and the glory of putting in a flourishing condition the valuable branch of our trade which gives employment to two great provinces and above two hundred sail of ships, much more at heart than his own private interest. It was reasonable to expect, that a man whose debts M— had paid more than once, whom he had obliged in many other respects, and whom he had carried with him at a very considerable expense, on this expedition, merely with a view of bettering his fortune, would have acted with common honesty, if not with gratitude; but such was the depravity of this little monster’s heart, that, on his deathbed, he left a considerable fortune to mere strangers, with whom he had little or no connection, without the least thought of refunding the money advanced for him by M — in order to prevent his rotting in a jail.
“When M— had once obtained a command of money, he, by his knowledge in several branches of trade, as well as by the assistance of some intelligent friends at Paris and London, found means to employ it to very good purpose; and had he been a man of that selfish disposition, which too much prevails in the world, he might have been at this day master of a very ample fortune; but his ear was never deaf to the voice of distress, nor his beneficent heart shut against the calamities of his fellow-creatures. He was even ingenious in contriving the most delicate methods of relieving modest indigence, and, by his industrious benevolence, often anticipated the requests of misery.
“I could relate a number of examples to illustrate my assertions, in some of which you would perceive the most disinterested generosity; but such a detail would trespass too much upon your time, and I do not pretend to dwell upon every minute circumstance of his conduct. Let it suffice to say, that, upon the declaration of war in Spain, he gave up all his commercial schemes, and called in his money from all quarters, with a view of sitting down, for the rest of his life, contented with what he had got, and restraining his liberalities to what he could spare from his yearly income. This was a very prudential resolution, could he have kept it; but, upon the breaking out of the war, he could not without concern see many gentlemen of merit, who had been recommended to him, disappointed of commissions, merely for want of money to satisfy the expectations of the commission-brokers of that time; and therefore launched out considerable sums for them on their bare notes, great part whereof was lost by the death of some in the unfortunate expedition to the West Indies. He at length, after many other actions of the like nature, from motives of pure humanity, love of justice, and abhorrence of oppression, embarked in a cause, every way the most important that ever came under the discussion of the courts of law in these kingdoms; whether it be considered in relation to the extraordinary nature of the case, or the immense property of no less than fifty thousand pounds a year, and three peerages that depended upon it.
“In the year 1740, the brave admiral who at that time commanded his majesty’s fleet in the West Indies, among the other transactions of his squadron transmitted to the duke of Newcastle, mentioned a young man, who, though in the capacity of a common sailor on board one of the ships under his command, laid claim to the estate and titles of the earl of A—. These pretensions were no sooner communicated in the public papers, than they became the subject of conversation in all companies; and the person whom they chiefly affected, being alarmed at the appearance of a competitor, though at such a distance, began to put himself in motion, and take all the precautions which he thought necessary to defeat the endeavour of the young upstart. Indeed, the early intelligence he received of Mr. A—‘s making himself known in the West Indies, furnished him with numberless advantages over that unhappy young gentleman; for, being in possession of a splendid fortune, and lord of many manors in the neighbourhood of the very place where the claimant was born, he knew all the witnesses who could give the most material evidence of his legitimacy; and, if his probity did not restrain him, had, by his power and influence, sufficient opportunity and means of applying to the passions and interests of the witnesses, to silence many, and gain over others to his side; while his competitor, by an absence of fifteen or sixteen years from his native country, the want of education and friends, together with his present helpless situation, was rendered absolutely incapable of taking any step for his own advantage. And although his worthy uncle’s conspicuous virtue, and religious regard for justice and truth, might possibly be an unconquerable restraint to his taking any undue advantages, yet the consciences of that huge army of emissaries he kept in pay were not altogether so very tender and scrupulous. This much, however, may be said, without derogation from, or impeachment of, the noble earl’s nice virtue and honour, that he took care to compromise all differences with the other branches of the family, whose interests were, in this affair, connected with his own, by sharing the estate with them, and also retained most of the eminent counsel within the bar of both kingdoms against this formidable bastard, before any suit was instituted by him.
“While he was thus entrenching himself against the attack of a poor forlorn youth, at the distance of fifteen hundred leagues, continually exposed to the dangers of the sea, the war, and an unhealthy climate, Mr. M — in the common course of conversation, chanced to ask some questions relating to this romantic pretender, of one H — who was at that time the present Lord A—‘s chief agent. This man, when pressed, could not help owning that the late Lord A— actually left a son, who had been spirited away into America soon after his father’s death, but said he did not know whether this was the same person. This information could not fail to make an impression on the humanity of Mr. M — who, being acquainted with the genius of the wicked party who had possessed themselves of this unhappy young man’s estate and honours, expressed no small anxiety and apprehension lest they should take him off by some means or other; and, even then, seemed disposed to contribute towards the support of the friendless orphan, and to inquire more circumstantially into the nature of his claim. In the meantime his occasions called him to France, and during his absence Mr. A— arrived in London in the month of October, 174l.”
Here the clergyman was interrupted by Peregrine, who said there was something so extraordinary, not to call it improbable, in the account he had heard of the young gentleman’s being sent into exile, that he would look upon himself as infinitely obliged to the doctor, if he would favour him with a true representation of that transaction, as well as of the manner in which he arrived and was known at the Island of Jamaica.
The parson, in compliance with our hero’s request, taking up the story from the beginning, “Mr. A — ” said he, “is the son of Arthur, late lord baron of A — by his wife Mary S — natural daughter to John, duke of B— and N — whom he publicly married on the 21st day of July, 1706, contrary to the inclination of his mother, and all his other relations, particularly of Arthur, late earl of A — who bore an implacable enmity to the duke her father, and, for that reason, did all that lay in his power to traverse the marriage; but, finding his endeavours ineffectual, he was so much offended, that he would never be perfectly reconciled to Lord A — though he was his presumptive heir. After their nuptials, they cohabited together in England for the space of two or three years, during which she miscarried more than once; and he being a man of levity, and an extravagant disposition, not only squandered away all that he had received of his wife’s fortune, but also contracted many considerable debts, which obliged him to make a precipitate retreat into Ireland, leaving his lady behind him in the house with his mother and sister, who, having also been averse to the match, had always looked upon her with eyes of disgust.
“It was not likely that harmony should long subsist in this family, especially as Lady A— was a woman of a lofty spirit, who could not tamely bear insults and ill-usage from persons who, she had reason to believe, were her enemies at heart. Accordingly, a misunderstanding soon happened among them, which was fomented by the malice of one of her sisters-in-law. Divers scandalous reports of her misconduct, to which the empty pretensions of a vain wretched coxcomb, who was made use of as an infamous tool for that purpose, gave a colourable pretext, were trumped up, and transmitted, with many false and aggravating circumstances, to her husband in Ireland; who, being a giddy, unthinking man, was so much incensed at these insinuations, that, in the first transports of his passion, he sent to his mother a power of attorney, that she might sue for a divorce in his behalf. A libel was thereupon exhibited, containing many scandalous allegations, void of any real foundation in truth; but being unsupported by any manner of proof, it was at length dismissed with costs, after it had depended upwards of two years.
“Lord A— finding himself abused by the misrepresentations of his mother and sister, discovered an inclination to be reconciled to his lady. In consequence of which, she was sent over to Dublin by her father, to the care of a gentleman in that city; in whose house she was received by her husband with all the demonstrations of love and esteem. From thence he conducted her to his lodgings, and thence to his country house, where she had the misfortune to suffer a miscarriage, through fear and resentment of my lord’s behaviour, which was often brutal and indecent. From the country they removed to Dublin, about the latter end of July, or beginning of August, 1714, where they had not long continued, when her ladyship was known to be again with child.
“Lord A— and his issue being next in remainder to the honours and estate of Arthur, earl of A — was extremely solicitous to have a son; and, warned by the frequent miscarriages of his lady, resolved to curb the natural impatience and rusticity of his disposition, that she might not, as formerly, suffer by his outrageous conduct. He accordingly cherished her with uncommon tenderness and care; and her pregnancy being pretty far advanced, conducted her to his country seat, where she was delivered of Mr. A — about the latter end of April, or beginning of May; for none of the witnesses have been able, at this distance, with absolute certainty to fix the precise time of his birth, and there was no register kept in the parish. As an additional misfortune, no gentleman of fashion lived in that parish; nor did those who lived at any considerable distance care to cultivate an acquaintance with a man of Lord A—‘s strange conduct.
“Be that as it will, the occasion was celebrated by his lordship’s tenants and dependents upon the spot, and in the neighbouring town of New-R — by bonfires, illuminations, and other rejoicings; which have made such an impression upon the minds of the people, that in the place where they happened, and the contiguous parishes, several hundred persons have already declared their knowledge and remembrance of this event, in spite of the great power of the claimant’s adversary in that quarter, and the great pains and indirect methods taken by his numberless agents and emissaries, as well as by those who are interested with him in the event of the suit, to corrupt and suppress the evidence.
“Lord A — after the birth of his son, who was sent to nurse in the neighbourhood, according to the custom of the country, where people of the highest distinction put their children out to nurse into farmhouses and cabins, lived in harmony with his lady for the space of two years. But having, by his folly and extravagance, reduced himself to great difficulties, he demanded the remainder of her fortune from her father, the duke of B — who absolutely refused to part with a shilling until a proper settlement should be made on his daughter, which, by that time, he had put out of his own power to make, by his folly and extravagance.
“As her ladyship, by her endeavours to reform the economy of her house, had incurred the displeasure of some idle profligate fellows, who had fastened themselves upon her husband, and helped to consume his substance, they seized this opportunity of the duke’s refusal; and, in order to be revenged upon the innocent lady, persuaded Lord A — that the only means of extracting money from his grace, would be to turn her away, on pretence of infidelity to his bed, for which they hinted there was but too much foundation. At their suggestions, a most infamous plan was projected; in the execution of which, one P — a poor, unbred, simple country booby, whom they had decoyed into a snare, lost one of his ears, and the injured lady retired that same day to New-R — where she continued several years. She did not, however, leave the house, without struggling hard to carry her child along with her; but far from enjoying such indulgence, strict orders were given, that the boy should not, for the future, be brought within her sight. This base, inhuman treatment, instead of answering the end proposed, produced such a contrary effect, that the duke of B — by a codicil to his will, in which he reflects upon Lord A—‘s evil temper, directed his executors to pay to his daughter an annuity of one hundred pounds, while her lord and she should continue to live separate; and this allowance was to cease on Lord A—‘s death.
“While she remained in this solitary situation, the child was universally known and received as the legitimate son and heir of her lord, whose affection for the boy was so conspicuous, that, in the midst of his own necessities, he never failed to maintain him in the dress and equipage of a young nobleman. In the course of his infancy, his father having often changed his place of residence, the child was put under the instructions of a great many different schoolmasters, so that he was perfectly well known in a great many different parts of the kingdom; and his mother seized all opportunities, which were but rare, on account of his father’s orders to the contrary, of seeing and giving him proofs of her maternal tenderness, until she set out for England, after having been long in a declining state of health, by a paralytical disorder; upon the consequence of which, such dependence was placed by her inconsiderate husband, who was by this time reduced to extreme poverty, that he actually married a woman whom he had long kept as a mistress. This creature no sooner understood that Lady A— was departed from Ireland, than she openly avowed her marriage, and went about publicly with Lord A — visiting his acquaintances in the character of his wife.
“From this era may be dated the beginning of Mr. A—‘s misfortune. This artful woman, who had formerly treated the child with an appearance of fondness, in order to ingratiate herself with the father, now looking upon herself as sufficiently established in the family, thought it was high time to alter her behaviour with regard to the unfortunate boy; and accordingly, for obvious reasons, employed a thousand artifices to alienate the heart of the weak father from his unhappy offspring. Yet, notwithstanding all her insinuations, nature still maintained her influence in his heart; and though she often found means to irritate him by artful and malicious accusations, his resentment never extended farther than fatherly correction. She would have found it impossible to accomplish his ruin, had not her efforts been reinforced by a new auxiliary, who was no other than his uncle, the present usurper of his title and estate; yet even this confederacy was overawed, in some measure, by the fear of alarming the unfortunate mother, until her distemper increased to a most deplorable degree of the dead palsy, and the death of her father had reduced her to a most forlorn and abject state of distress. Then they ventured upon the execution of their projects; and, though their aims were widely different, concurred in their endeavours to remove the hapless boy, as the common obstacle to both.
“Lord A— who, as I have already observed, was a man of weak intellects, and utterly void of any fixed principle of action, being by this time reduced to such a pitch of misery, that he was often obliged to pawn his wearing apparel in order to procure the common necessaries of life; and having no other fund remaining, with which he could relieve his present necessities, except a sale of the reversion of the A— estate, to which the nonage of his son was an effectual bar, he was advised by his virtuous brother, and the rest of his counsellors, to surmount this difficulty, by secreting his son, and spreading a report of his death. This honest project he the more readily embraced, because he knew that no act of his could frustrate the child’s succession. Accordingly, the boy was removed from the school at which he was then boarded, to the house of one K — an agent and accomplice of the present earl of A — where he was kept for several months closely confined; and, in the meantime, it was industriously reported that he was dead.
“This previous measure being taken, Lord A— published advertisements in the gazettes, offering reversions of the A— estate to sale; and emissaries of various kinds were employed to inveigle such as were ignorant of the nature of the settlement of these estates, or strangers to the affairs of his family. Some people, imposed upon by the report of the child’s death, were drawn in to purchase, thinking themselves safe in the concurrence of his lordship’s brother, upon presumption that he was next in remainder to the succession; others, tempted by the smallness of the price, which rarely exceeded half a year’s purchase, as appears by many deeds, though they doubted the truth of the boy’s being dead, ran small risks, on the contingency of his dying before he should be of age, or in hopes of his being prevailed upon to confirm the grants of his father; and many more were treating with him on the same notions, when their transactions were suddenly interrupted, and the scheme of raising more money for the present, defeated by the unexpected appearance of the boy, who, being naturally sprightly and impatient of restraint, had found means to break from his confinement, and wandered up and down the streets of Dublin, avoiding his father’s house, and choosing to encounter all sorts of distress, rather than subject himself again to the cruelty and malice of the woman who supplied his mother’s place. Thus debarred his father’s protection, and destitute of any fixed habitation, he herded with all the loose, idle, and disorderly youths in Dublin, skulking chiefly about the college, several members and students of which, taking pity on his misfortunes, supplied him at different times with clothes and money. In this unsettled and uncomfortable way of life did he remain, from the year 1725 to the latter end of November, 1727; at which time his father died, so miserably poor, that he was actually buried at the public expense.
“This unfortunate nobleman was no sooner dead, than his brother Richard, now earl of A — taking advantage of the nonage and helpless situation of his nephew, seized upon all the papers of the defunct, and afterwards usurped the title of Lord A — to the surprise of the servants, and others who were acquainted with the affairs of the family. This usurpation, bold as it was, produced no other effect than that of his being insulted by the populace as he went through the streets, and the refusal of the king-at-arms to enrol the certificate of his brother’s having died without issue. The first of these inconveniences he bore without any sense of shame, though not without repining, conscious that it would gradually vanish with the novelty of his invasion; and as to the last, he conquered it by means well known and obvious.
“Nor will it seem strange, that he should thus invade the rights of an orphan with impunity, if people will consider, that the late Lord A— had not only squandered away his fortune with the most ridiculous extravagance, but also associated himself with low company, so that he was little known, and less regarded, by persons of any rank and figure in life; and his child, of consequence, debarred of the advantages which might have accrued from valuable connections. And though it was universally known, that Lady A— had a son in Ireland, such was the obscurity in which the father had lived, during the last years of his life, that few of the nobility could be supposed to be acquainted with the particular circumstances of a transaction in which they had no concern, and which had happened at the distance of twelve years before the date of this usurpation. Moreover, as their first information was no other than common fame, the public clamour occasioned by the separation might inspire such as were strangers to the family affairs with a mistaken notion of the child’s having been born about or after the time of that event. The hurry and bustle occasioned by the arrival of the lord-lieutenant about this period, the reports industriously propagated of the claimant’s death, the obscurity and concealment in which the boy was obliged to live, in order to elude the wicked attempts of his uncle, might also contribute to his peaceable enjoyment of an empty title. And lastly, Lord Chancellor W — whose immediate province it was to issue writs for parliament, was an utter stranger in Ireland, unacquainted with the descents of families, and consequently did not examine farther than the certificate enrolled in the books of the king-at-arms. Over and above these circumstances, which naturally account for the success of the imposture, it may be observed, that the hapless youth had not one relation alive, on the side of his father, whose interest it was not to forward or connive at his destruction; that his grandfather, the duke of B — was dead; and that his mother was then in England, in a forlorn, destitute, dying condition, secreted from the world, and even from her own relations, by her woman Mary H — who had a particular interest to secrete her, and altogether dependent upon a miserable and precarious allowance from the duchess of B — to whose caprice she was moreover a most wretched slave.
“Notwithstanding these concurring circumstances in favour of the usurper, he did not think himself secure while the orphan had any chance of finding a friend who would undertake his cause; and therefore laid a plan for his being kidnapped, and sent to America as a slave. His coadjutor in this inhuman scheme was a person who carried on the trade of transporting servants to our plantations, and was deeply interested on this occasion, having, for a mere trifle, purchased of the late Lord A — the reversion of a considerable part of the A— estate, which shameful bargain was confirmed by the brother, but could never take place, unless the boy could be effectually removed.
“Everything being settled with this auxiliary, several ruffians were employed in search of the unhappy victim; and the first attempt that was made upon him, in which his uncle personally assisted, happening near one of the great markets of the city of Dublin, an honest butcher, with the assistance of his neighbours, rescued him by force from their cruel hands. This, however, was but a short respite; for, though warned by this adventure, the boy seldom crept out of his lurking-places, without the most cautious circumspection, he was, in March, 1727, discovered by the diligence of his persecutors, and forcibly dragged on board of a ship bound for Newcastle, on Delaware river in America, where he was sold as a slave, and kept to hard labour, much above his age or strength, for the space of thirteen years, during which he was transferred from one person to another.
“While he remained in this servile situation, he often mentioned, to those in whom he thought such confidence might be placed, the circumstances of his birth and title, together with the manner of his being exiled from his native country, although, in this particular, he neglected a caution which he had received in his passage, importing that such a discovery would cost him his life. Meanwhile the usurper quietly enjoyed his right; and to those who questioned him about his brother’s son, constantly replied, that the boy had been dead for several years. And Arthur, earl of A — dying in April 1737, he, upon pretence of being next heir, succeeded to the honours and estate of that nobleman.
“The term of the nephew’s bondage, which had been lengthened out beyond the usual time, on account of his repeated attempts to escape, being expired in the year 1739, he hired himself as a common sailor in a trading vessel bound to Jamaica; and there, being entered on board of one of his majesty’s ships under the command of Admiral Vernon, openly declared his parentage and pretensions. This extraordinary claim, which made a great noise in the fleet, reaching the ears of one Lieutenant S — nearly related to the usurper’s Irish wife, he believed the young gentleman to be an impostor; and, thinking it was incumbent on him to discover the cheat, he went on board the ship to which the claimant belonged, and, having heard the account which he gave of himself, was, notwithstanding his prepossessions, convinced of the truth of what he alleged. On his return to his own ship, he chanced to mention this extraordinary affair upon the quarter-deck, in the hearing of Mr. B — one of the midshipmen, who had formerly been at school with Mr. A—. This young gentleman not only told the lieutenant, that he had been school-fellow with Lord A—‘s son, but also declared that he should know him again, if not greatly altered, as he still retained a perfect idea of his countenance.
“Upon this intimation, the lieutenant proposed that the experiment should be tried; and went with the midshipman on board the ship that the claimant was on, for that purpose. After all the sailors had been assembled upon deck, Mr. B — casting his eyes around, immediately distinguished Mr. A— in the crowd, and, laying his hand on his shoulder, ‘This is the man,’ said he; affirming, at the same time, that, while he continued at school with him, the claimant was reputed and respected as Lord A—‘s son and heir, and maintained in all respects suitable to the dignity of his rank. Nay, he was, in like manner, recognised by several other persons in the fleet, who had known him in his infancy.
“These things being reported to the admiral, he generously ordered him to be supplied with necessaries, and treated like a gentleman; and, in his next despatches, transmitted an account of the affair to the duke of Newcastle, among the other transactions of the fleet.
“In September or October, 1741, Mr. A— arrived in London; and the first person to whom he applied for advice and assistance was a man of the law, nearly related to the families of A— and A — and well acquainted with the particular affairs of each; who, far from treating him as a bastard and impostor, received him with civility and seeming kindness, asked him to eat, presented him with a piece of money, and, excusing himself from meddling in the affair, advised him to go to Ireland, as the most proper place for commencing a suit for the recovery of his right.
“Before the young gentleman had an opportunity, or indeed any inclination, to comply with this advice, he was accidentally met in the street by that same H — who, as I have mentioned, gave Mr. M— the first insight into the affair. This man immediately knew the claimant, having been formerly an agent for his father, and afterwards a creature of his uncle’s, with whom he was, not without reason, suspected to be concerned in kidnapping and transporting his nephew. Be that as it will, his connections with the usurper were now broken off by a quarrel, in consequence of which he had thrown up his agency; and he invited the hapless stranger to his house, with a view of making all possible advantage of such a guest.
“There he had not long remained, when his treacherous landlord, tampering with his inexperience, effected a marriage between him and the daughter of one of his own friends, who lodged in his house at the same time. But afterwards, seeing no person of consequence willing to espouse his cause, he looked upon him as an encumbrance, and wanted to rid his hands of him accordingly. He remembered that Mr. M— had expressed himself with all the humanity of apprehension in favour of the unfortunate young nobleman, before his arrival in England; and, being well acquainted with the generosity of his disposition, he no sooner understood that he was returned from France, than he waited upon him with an account of Mr. A—‘s being safely arrived. Mr. M— was sincerely rejoiced to find, that a person who had been so cruelly injured, and undergone so long and continued a scene of distress, was restored to a country where he was sure of obtaining justice, and where every good man, as he imagined, would make the cause his own. And being informed that the youth was in want of necessaries, he gave twenty guineas to H— for his use, and promised to do him all the service in his power; but had no intention to take upon himself the whole weight of such an important affair, or indeed to appear in the cause, until he should be fully and thoroughly satisfied that the claimant’s pretensions were well founded.
“In the meantime, H— insinuating that the young gentleman was not safe in his present lodging from the machinations of his enemies, M— accommodated him with an apartment in his own house; where he was at great pains to remedy the defect in his education, by rendering him fit to appear as a gentleman in the world. Having received from him all the intelligence he could give relating to his own affair, he laid the case before counsel, and despatched a person to Ireland, to make further inquiries upon the same subject; who, in his first arrival in that kingdom, found the claimant’s birth was as publicly known as any circumstance of that kind could possibly be, at so great a distance of time.
“The usurper and his friends gave all the interruption in their power to any researches concerning that affair; and had recourse to every art and expedient that could be invented, to prevent its being brought to a legal discussion. Privilege, bills in chancery, orders of court surreptitiously and illegally obtained, and every other invention was made use of to bar and prevent a fair and honest trial by a jury. The usurper himself, and his agents, at the same time that they formed divers conspiracies against his life, in vain endeavoured to detach Mr. M— from the orphan’s cause, by innumerable artifices, insinuating, cajoling, and misrepresenting, with surprising dexterity and perseverance.
“His protector, far from being satisfied with their reasons, was not only deaf to their remonstrances, but, believing him in danger from their repeated efforts, had him privately conveyed into the country; where an unhappy accident, which he hath ever since sincerely regretted, furnished his adversary with a colourable pretext to cut him off in the beginning of his career.
“A man happening to lose his life by the accidental discharge of a piece that chanced to be in a young gentleman’s hands, the account of this misfortune no sooner reached the ears of his uncle, than he expressed the most immoderate joy at having found so good a handle for destroying him, under colour of law. He immediately constituted himself prosecutor, set his emissaries at work to secure a coroner’s inquest suited to his cruel purposes; set out for the place in person, to take care that the prisoner should not escape; insulted him in jail, in the most inhuman manner; employed a whole army of attorneys and agents, to spirit up and carry on a most virulent prosecution; practised all the unfair methods that could he invented, in order that the unhappy gentleman should be transported to Newgate, from the healthy prison to which he was at first committed; endeavoured to inveigle him into destructive confessions; and, not to mention other more infamous arts employed in the affair of evidence, attempted to surprise him upon his trial in the absence of his witnesses and counsel, contrary to a previous agreement with the prosecutor’s own attorney. Nay, he even appeared in person upon the bench at the trial, in order to intimidate the evidence, and browbeat the unfortunate prisoner at the bar, and expended above a thousand pounds in that prosecution. In spite of all his wicked efforts, however, which were defeated by the spirit and indefatigable industry of Mr. M — the young gentleman was honourably acquitted, to the evident satisfaction of all the impartial; the misfortune, that gave a handle for that unnatural prosecution, appearing to a demonstration to have been a mere accident.
“In a few months, his protector, who had now openly espoused his cause, taking with him two gentlemen to witness his transactions, conducted him to his native country, with a view to be better informed of the strength of his pretensions, than he could be by the intelligence he had hitherto received, or by the claimant’s own dark and almost obliterated remembrance of the facts which were essential to be known. Upon their arrival in Dublin, application was made to those persons whom Mr. A— had named as his schoolmasters and companions, together with the servants and neighbours of his father. These, though examined separately, without having the least previous intimation of what the claimant had reported, agreed in their accounts with him, as well as with one another, and mentioned many other people as acquainted with the same facts, to whom Mr. M— had recourse, and still met with the same unvaried information. By these means, he made such progress in his inquiries, that, in less than two months, no fewer than one hundred persons, from different quarters of the kingdom, either personally, or by letters, communicated their knowledge of the claimant, in declarations consonant with one another, as well as with the accounts he gave of himself. Several servants who had lived with his father, and been deceived with the story of his death, so industriously propagated by his uncle, no sooner heard of his being in Dublin, than they came from different parts of the country to see him; and though great pains were taken to deceive them, they, nevertheless, knew him at first sight; some of them fell upon their knees to thank for his preservation, embraced his legs, and shed tears of joy for his return.
“Although the conduct of his adversary, particularly in the above-mentioned prosecution, together with the evidence that already appeared, were sufficient to convince all mankind of the truth of the claimant’s pretensions, Mr. M — in order to be further satisfied, resolved to see how he would be received upon the spot where he was born; justly concluding, that if he was really an impostor, the bastard of a kitchen-wench, produced in a country entirely possessed by his enemy and his allies, he must be looked upon in that place with the utmost detestation and contempt.
“This his intention was no sooner known to the adverse party, than their agents and friends from all quarters repaired to that place with all possible despatch, and used all their influence with the people, in remonstrances, threats, and all the other arts they could devise, not only to discountenance the claimant upon his arrival, but even to spirit up a mob to insult him. Notwithstanding these precautions, and the servile awe and subjection in which tenants are kept by their landlords in that part of the country, as soon as it was known that Mr. A— approached the town, the inhabitants crowded out in great multitudes to receive and welcome him, and accompanied him into town, with acclamations, and other expressions of joy, insomuch that the agents of his adversary durst not show their faces. The sovereign of the corporation, who was a particular creature and favourite of the usurper, and whose all depended upon the issue of the cause, was so conscious of the stranger’s right, and so much awed by the behaviour of the people, who knew that consciousness, that he did not think it safe even to preserve the appearance of neutrality upon this occasion, but actually held the stirrup while Mr. A— dismounted from his horse.
“This sense of conviction in the people manifested itself still more powerfully when he returned to the same place in the year 1744, about which time Lord A— being informed of his resolution, determined again to be beforehand with him, and set out in person, with his agents and friends, some of whom were detached before him to prepare for his reception, and induced the people to meet him in a body, and accompany him to town, with such expressions of welcome as they had before bestowed on his nephew; but, in spite of all their art and interest, he was suffered to pass through the street in a mournful silence; and though several barrels of beer were produced to court the favour of the populace, they had no other effect than that of drawing their ridicule upon the donor, whereas, when Mr. A — two days afterwards, appeared, all the inhabitants, with garlands, streamers, music, and other ensigns of joy, crowded out to meet him, and ushered him into town with such demonstrations of pleasure and goodwill, that the noble peer found it convenient to hide himself from the resentment of his own tenants, the effects of which he must have severely felt, had not he been screened by the timely remonstrances of Mr. M — and the other gentlemen who accompanied his competitor.
“Nor did his apprehension vanish with the transaction of this day; the town was again in uproar on the Sunday following, when it was known that Mr. A— intended to come thither from Dunmain to church; they went out to meet him as before, and conducted him to the church door with acclamations, which terrified his uncle to such a degree, that he fled with precipitation in a boat, and soon after entirely quitted the place.
“It would be almost an endless task to enumerate the particular steps that were taken by one side to promote, and by the other to delay, the trial. The young gentleman’s adversaries finding that they could not, by all the subterfuges and arts they had used, evade it, repeated attempts were made to assassinate him and his protector; and every obstruction thrown in the way of his cause which craft could invent, villainy execute, and undue influence confirm. But all these difficulties were surmounted by the vigilance, constancy, courage, and sagacity of M—; and, at last, the affair was brought to a very solemn trial at bar, which being continued, by several adjournments, from the eleventh to the twenty-fifth day of November, a verdict was found for the claimant by a jury of gentlemen, which, in point of reputation and property, cannot be easily paralleled in the annals of that or any other country; a jury, that could by no means be suspected of prepossessions in favour of Mr. A — to whose person they were absolute strangers; especially if we consider, that a gentleman in their neighbourhood, who was nephew to the foreman, and nearly related to some of the rest of their number, forfeited a considerable estate by their decision.
“This verdict,” said the parson, “gave the highest satisfaction to all impartial persons that were within reach of being duly informed of their proceedings, and of the different genius and conduct of the parties engaged in the contest, but more especially to such as were in court, as I was, at the trial, and had an opportunity of observing the characters and behaviour of the persons who appeared there to give evidence. To such it was very apparent, that all the witnesses produced there on the part of the uncle, were either his tenants, dependents, pot-companions, or persons some way or other interested in the issue of the suit, and remarkable for a low kind of cunning; that many of them were persons of profligate lives, who deserved no credit; that, independent of the levity of their characters, those of them who went under the denomination of colonels, Colonel L— alone excepted, who had nothing to say, and was only brought there in order to give credit to that party, made so ridiculous a figure, and gave so absurd, contradictory, and inconsistent an evidence, as no court or jury could give the least degree of credit to. On the other hand, it was observed, that the nephew and Mr. M — his chief manager, being absolute strangers in that country, and unacquainted with the characters of the persons they had to deal with, were obliged to lay before the court and jury such evidence as came to their hand, some of whom plainly appeared to have been put upon them by their adversaries with a design to hurt. It was also manifest, that the witnesses produced for Mr. A — were such as could have no manner of connection with him, nor any dependence whatsoever upon him, to influence their evidence; for the far greatest part of them had never seen him from his infancy till the trial began; and many of them, though poor, and undignified with the title of colonels, were people of unblemished character, of great simplicity, and such as no man in his senses would pitch upon to support a bad cause. It is plain that the jury, whose well-known honour, impartiality, and penetration, must be revered by all who are acquainted with them, were not under the least difficulty about their verdict; for they were not enclosed above half an hour, when they returned with it. These gentlemen could not help observing the great inequality of the parties engaged, the great advantages that the uncle had in every other respect, except the truth and justice of his case, over the nephew, by means of his vast possessions, and of his power and influence all round the place of his birth; nor could the contrast between the different geniuses of the two parties escape their observation. They could not but see and conclude, that a person who had confessedly transported and sold his orphan nephew into slavery — who, on his return, had carried on so unwarrantable and cruel a prosecution to take away his life under colour of law — and who had also given such glaring proofs of his skill and dexterity in the management of witnesses for that cruel purpose — was in like manner capable of exerting the same happy talent on this occasion, when his all was at stake; more especially, as he had so many others who were equally interested with himself, and whose abilities in that respect fell nothing short of his own, to second him in it. The gentlemen of the jury had also a near view of the manner in which the witnesses delivered their testimonies, and had from thence an opportunity of observing many circumstances, and distinguishing characteristics of truth and falsehood, from which a great deal could be gathered, that could not be adequately conveyed by any printed account, how exact soever; consequently, they must have been much better judges of the evidence on which they founded their verdict than any person who had not the same opportunity, can possibly be.
“These, Mr. Pickle, were my reflections on what I had occasion to observe concerning that famous trial; and, on my return to England two years after, I could not help pitying the self-sufficiency of some people, who, at this distance, pretended to pass their judgment on that verdict with as great positiveness as if they had been in the secrets of the cause, or upon the jury who tried it; and that from no better authority than the declamations of Lord A—‘s emissaries, and some falsified printed accounts, artfully cooked up on purpose to mislead and deceive.
“But to return from this digression. Lord A — the defendant in that cause, was so conscious of the strength and merits of his injured nephew’s case, and that a verdict would go against him, that he ordered a writ of error to be made out before the trial was ended; and the verdict was no sooner given, than he immediately lodged it, though he well knew he had no manner of error to assign. This expedient was practised merely for vexation and delay, in order to keep Mr. A— from the possession of the small estate he had recovered by the verdict, that, his slender funds being exhausted, he might be deprived of other means to prosecute his right; and by the most oppressive contrivances and scandalous chicanery, it has been kept up to this day, without his being able to assign the least shadow of any error.
“Lord A— was not the only antagonist that Mr. A— had to deal with; all the different branches of the A— family, who had been worrying one another at law ever since the death of the late earl of A — about the partition of his great estate, were now firmly united in an association against this unfortunate gentleman; mutual deeds were executed among them, by which many great lordships and estates were given up by the uncle to persons who had no right to possess them, in order to engage them to side with him against his nephew, in withholding the unjust possession of the remainder.
“These confederates having held several consultations against their common enemy, and finding that his cause gathered daily strength since the trial, by the accession of many witnesses of figure and reputation, who had not been heard of before, and that the only chance they had to prevent the speedy establishment of his right, and their own destruction, was by stripping Mr. M— of the little money that yet remained, and by stopping all further resources whereby he might be enabled to proceed; they therefore came to a determined resolution to carry that hopeful scheme into execution; and, in pursuance thereof, they have left no expedient or stratagem, how extraordinary or scandalous soever, unpractised, to distress Mr. A— and that gentleman. For that end, all the oppressive arts and dilatory expensive contrivances that the fertile invention of the lowest pettifoggers of the law could possibly devise, have with dexterity been played off against them, in fruitless quibbling, and malicious suits, entirely foreign to the merits of the cause. Not to mention numberless other acts of oppression, the most extraordinary and unprecedented proceeding, by means whereof this sham writ of error hath been kept on foot ever since November, 1743, is to me,” said the doctor, “a most flagrant instance not only of the prevalency of power and money, when employed, as in the present case, against an unfortunate helpless man, disabled, as he is, of the means of ascertaining his right, but of the badness of a cause that hath recourse to so many iniquitous expedients to support it.
“In a word, the whole conduct of Lord A— and his party, from the beginning to this time, hath been such as sufficiently manifests that it could proceed from no other motives than a consciousness of Mr. A—‘s right, and of their own illegal usurpations, and from a terror of trusting the merits of their case to a fair discussion by the laws of their country; and that the intention and main drift of all their proceedings plainly tends to stifle and smother the merits of the case from the knowledge of the world, by oppressive arts and ingenious delays, rather than trust it to the candid determination of an honest jury. What else could be the motives of kidnapping the claimant, and transporting him when an infant? of the various attempts made upon his life since his return? of the attempts to divest him of all assistance to ascertain his right, by endeavouring so solicitously to prevail on Mr. M— to abandon him in the beginning? of retaining an army of counsel before any suit had been commenced? of the many sinister attempts to prevent the trial at bar? of the various arts made use of to terrify any one from appearing as witness for the claimant, and to seduce those who had appeared? of the shameless, unprecedented, low tricks now practised, to keep him out of the possession of that estate for which he had obtained the verdict, thereby to disable him from bringing his cause to a further hearing; and of the attempts made to buy up Mr. M—‘s debts, and to spirit up suits against him? Is it not obvious from all these circumstances, as well as from the obstruction they have given to the attorney-general’s proceeding to make a report to his majesty on the claimant’s petition to the king for the peerage, which was referred by his majesty to that gentleman, so far back as 1743, that all their efforts are bent to that one point, of stifling, rather than suffering the merits of this cause to come to a fair and candid hearing; and that the sole consideration at present between them and this unfortunate man is not whether he is right or wrong, but whether he shall or shall not find money to bring this cause to a final determination?
“Lord A— and his confederates, not thinking themselves safe with all these expedients, while there was a possibility of their antagonist’s obtaining any assistance from such as humanity, compassion, generosity, or a love of justice, might induce to lay open their purses to his assistance in ascertaining his right, have, by themselves and their numerous emissaries, employed all the arts of calumny, slander, and detraction against him, by traducing his cause, vilifying his person, and most basely and cruelly tearing his character to pieces, by a thousand misrepresentations, purposely invented and industriously propagated in all places of resort, which is a kind of cowardly assassination that there is no guarding against; yet, in spite of all these machinations, and the shameful indifference of mankind, who stand aloof unconcerned, and see this unhappy gentleman most inhumanly oppressed by the weight of lawless power and faction, M — far from suffering himself to be dejected by the multiplying difficulties that crowd upon him, still exerts himself with amazing fortitude and assiduity, and will, I doubt not, bring the affair he began and carried on with so much spirit, while his finances lasted, to a happy conclusion.
“It would exceed the bounds of my intention, and, perhaps, trespass too much upon your time, were I to enumerate the low artifices and shameful quibbles by which the usurper has found means to procrastinate the decision of the contest between him and his hapless nephew, or to give a detail of the damage and perplexity which Mr. M— has sustained, and been involved in, by the treachery and ingratitude of some who listed themselves under him in the prosecution of this affair; and by the villainy of others, who, under various pretences of material discoveries they had to make, etc., had fastened themselves upon him, and continued to do all the mischief in their power, until the cloven foot was detected.
“One instance, however, is so flagrantly flagitious, that I cannot resist the inclination I feel to relate it, as an example of the most infernal perfidy that perhaps ever entered the human heart. I have already mentioned the part which H— n acted in the beginning of M—‘s connection with the unfortunate stranger, and hinted that the said H— lay under many obligations to that gentleman before Mr. A—‘s arrival in England. He had been chief agent to Lord A — and, as it afterwards appeared, received several payments of a secret pension which that lord enjoyed, for which he either could not or would not account. His lordship, therefore, in order to compel him to it, took out writs against him, and his house was continually surrounded with catchpoles for the space of two whole years.
“Mr. M— believing, from H—‘s own account of the matter, that the poor man was greatly injured, and prosecuted on account of his attachment to the unhappy young gentleman, did him all the good offices in his power, and became security for him on several occasions; nay, such was his opinion of his integrity, that, after Mr. A— was cleared of the prosecution carried on against him by his uncle, his person was entrusted to the care of this hypocrite, who desired that the young gentleman might lodge at his house for the convenience of air, M—‘s own occasions calling him often into the country.
“Having thus, by his consummate dissimulation, acquired such a valuable charge, he wrote a letter to one of Lord A—‘s attorneys, offering to betray Mr. A — provided his lordship would settle his account, and give him a discharge for eight hundred pounds of the pension which he had received and not accounted for. Mr. M — informed of this treacherous proposal, immediately removed his lodger from his house into his own, without assigning his reasons for so doing, until he was obliged to declare it, in order to free himself from the importunities of H — who earnestly solicited his return. This miscreant finding himself detected and disappointed in his villainous design, was so much enraged at his miscarriage, that, forgetting all the benefits he had received from M— for a series of years, he practised all the mischief that his malice could contrive against him; and at length entered into a confederacy with one G — and several other abandoned wretches, who, as before said, under various pretences of being able to make material discoveries, and otherwise to serve the cause, had found means to be employed in some extra business relating to it, though their real intention was to betray the claimant.
“These confederates, in conjunction with some other auxiliaries of infamous character, being informed that Mr. M— was on the point of securing a considerable sum, to enable him to prosecute Mr. A—‘s right, and to bring it to a happy conclusion, contrived a deep-laid scheme to disappoint him in it, and at once to ruin the cause. And, previous measures being taken for that wicked purpose, they imposed upon the young gentleman’s inexperience and credulity by insinuations equally false, plausible, and malicious; to which they at length gained his belief, by the mention of some circumstances that gave what they alleged an air of probability, and even of truth. They swore that Mr. M— had taken out an action against him for a very large sum of money; that they had actually seen the writ; that the intention of it was to throw him into prison for life, and ruin his cause, in consequence of an agreement made by him with Lord A — and his other enemies, to retrieve the money that he had laid out in the cause.
“This plausible tale was enforced with such an air of truth, candour, and earnest concern for his safety, and was strengthened by so many imprecations and corroborating circumstances of their invention, as would have staggered one of much greater experience and knowledge of mankind than Mr. A— could be supposed at that time to possess. The notion of perpetual imprisonment, and the certain ruin they made him believe his cause was threatened with, worked upon his imagination to such a degree, that he suffered himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter by this artful band of villains, who secreted him at the lodgings of one P — an intimate of G—‘s, for several days, under colour of his being hunted by bailiffs employed by Mr. M — where he was not only obliged by them to change his name, but even his wife was not suffered to have access to him.
“Their design was to have sold him, or drawn him into a ruinous compromise with his adversaries, for a valuable consideration to themselves. But as no ties are binding among such a knot of villains, the rest of the conspirators were jockeyed by G — who, in order to monopolize the advantage to himself, hurried his prize into the country, and secreted him even from his confederates, in a place of concealment one hundred miles from London, under the same ridiculous pretence of M—‘s having taken out a writ against him, and of bailiffs being in pursuit of him everywhere round London.
“He was no sooner there, than G — as a previous step to the other villainy he intended, tricked him out of a bond for six thousand pounds, under colour of his having a person ready to advance the like sum upon it, as an immediate fund for carrying on his cause; assuring him, at the same time, that he had a set of gentlemen ready, who were willing to advance twenty-five thousand pounds more for the same purpose, and to allow him five hundred pounds a year for his maintenance, till his cause should be made an end of, provided that Mr. M— should have no further concern with him and his cause.
“Mr. A — having by this time received some intimations of the deceit that had been put upon him, made answer, that he should look upon himself as a very ungrateful monster indeed, if he deserted a person who had saved his life, and so generously ventured his own, together with his fortune, in his cause, until he should first be certain of the truth of what was alleged of him, and absolutely rejected the proposal. G — who had no other view in making it, than to cover the secret villainy he meditated against him, and to facilitate the execution thereof, easily receded from it, when he found Mr. A— so averse to it, and undertook nevertheless to raise the money, adding, that he might, if he pleased, return to Mr. M— whenever it was secured. The whole drift of this pretended undertaking to raise the twenty-five thousand pounds, was only to lay a foundation for a dexterous contrivance to draw Mr. A— unwarily into the execution of a deed, relinquishing all his right and title, under a notion of its being a deed to secure the repayment of that sum.
“G— having, as he imagined, so far paved the way for the execution of such a deed, enters into an agreement with an agent, employed for that purpose by Mr. A—‘s adversaries, purporting that in consideration of the payment of a bond for six thousand pounds, which he, G — had, as he pretended, laid out in Mr. A—‘s cause, and of an annuity of seven hundred pounds a year, he was to procure for them from Mr. A— a deed ready executed, relinquishing all right and title to the A— estate and honours. Everything being prepared for the execution of this infernal scheme, unknown to Mr. A — G— then thought proper to send for him to town from his retirement, in order, as he pretended, to execute a security of twenty-five thousand pounds.
“This intended victim to that villain’s avarice no sooner arrived in town, full of hopes of money to carry on his cause, and of agreeably surprising his friend and protector Mr. M — with so seasonable and unexpected a reinforcement, than an unforeseen difficulty arose, concerning the payment of G—‘s six-thousand-pound bond. That money was to have been raised out of the estate of a lunatic, which could not be done without the leave of the Court of Chancery, to whom an account must have been given of the intended application of it. While preparations were making to rectify this omission, G— immediately carried Mr. A— again into the country, lest he should happen to be undeceived by some means or other.
“In the meantime, this wicked machination was providentially discovered by Mr. M — before it could be carried into execution, by means of the jealousies that arose among the conspirators themselves; and was, at the same time, confirmed to him by a person whom the very agent for the A— party had entrusted with the secret. M— no sooner detected it, than he communicated his discovery to one of Mr. A—‘s counsel, a man of great worth, and immediately thereupon took proper measures to defeat it. He then found means to lay open to Mr. A— himself the treacherous scheme that was laid for his destruction. He was highly sensible of it, and could never afterwards reflect on the snare that he had so unwarily been drawn into, and had so narrowly escaped, without a mixture of horror, shame, and gratitude to his deliverer.
“The consummate assurance of the monsters who were engaged in this plot, after they had been detected, and upbraided with their treachery, is scarce to be paralleled; for they not only owned the fact of spiriting Mr. A— away in the manner above mentioned, but justified their doing it as tending to his service. They also maintained, that they had actually secured the twenty-five thousand pounds for him, though they never could name any one person who was to have advanced the money. No man was more active in this scheme than H — nor any man more solicitous to keep Mr. A— up in the false impressions he had received, or in projecting methods to ruin his protector, than he.
“Among many other expedients for that purpose, a most malicious attempt was made to lodge an information against him, for treasonable practices, with the secretary of state, notwithstanding the repeated proofs he had given of his loyalty; and, as a preparatory step to his accusation, a letter, which this traitor dictated, was copied by another person, and actually sent to the earl of C — importing, that the person who copied the letter had an affair of consequence to communicate to his lordship, if he would appoint a time of receiving the information. But that person, upon full conviction of the villainy of the scheme, absolutely refused to proceed further in it; so that his malice once more proved abortive; and before he had time to execute any other contrivance of the same nature, he was imprisoned in this very jail for debt.
“Here, finding his creditors inexorable, and himself destitute of all other resource, he made application to the very man whom he had injured in such an outrageous manner, set forth his deplorable case in the most pathetic terms, and entreated him, with the most abject humility, to use his influence in his behalf. The distress of this varlet immediately disarmed M— of his resentment, and even excited his compassion. Without sending any answer to his remonstrances, he interceded for him with his creditors; and the person to whom he was chiefly indebted, refusing to release him without security, this unwearied benefactor joined with the prisoner in a bond for above two hundred and forty pounds, for which he obtained his release.
“He was no sooner discharged, however, than he entered into fresh combinations with G— and others, in order to thwart his deliverer in his schemes of raising money, and otherwise to distress and deprive him of liberty; for which purpose, no art or industry, perjury not excepted, hath been spared. And, what is still more extraordinary, this perfidious monster having found money to take up the bond, in consequence of which he regained his freedom, hath procured a writ against M — upon that very obligation; and taken assignments to some other debts of that gentleman, with the same Christian intention. But hitherto he hath, by surprising sagacity and unshaken resolution, baffled all their infernal contrivances, and retorted some of their machinations on their own heads. At this time, when he is supposed by some, and represented by others, as under the circumstances of oblivion and despondence, he proceeds in his design with the utmost calmness and intrepidity, meditating schemes, and ripening measures, that will one day confound his enemies, and attract the notice and admiration of mankind.”
Peregrine, having thanked the priest for his obliging information, expressed his surprise at the scandalous inattention of the world to an affair of such importance; observing, that, by such inhuman neglect, this unfortunate young gentleman, Mr. A — was absolutely deprived of all the benefit of society; the sole end of which is, to protect the rights, redress the grievances, and promote the happiness of individuals. As for the character of M — he said, it was so romantically singular in all its circumstances, that, though other motives were wanting, curiosity alone would induce him to seek his acquaintance. But he did not at all wonder at the ungrateful returns which had been made to his generosity by H— and many others, whom he had served in a manner that few, besides himself, would have done; for he had been long convinced of the truth conveyed in these lines of a celebrated Italian author:—
Li beneficii che, per la loro grandezza, non ponno esser guiderdonati, con la scelerata moneta dell’ ingratitudine sono pagati.
“The story which you have related of that young gentleman,” said he, “bears a very strong resemblance to the fate of a Spanish nobleman, as it was communicated to me by one of his own intimate friends at Paris. The Countess d’Alvarez died immediately after the birth of a son, and the husband surviving her but three years, the child was left sole heir to the honours and estate, under the guardianship of his uncle, who had a small fortune and a great many children. This inhuman relation, coveting the wealth of his infant ward, formed a design against the life of the helpless orphan, and trusted the execution of it to his valet-de-chambre, who was tempted to undertake the murder by the promise of a considerable reward. He accordingly stabbed the boy with a knife in three different places, on the right side of his neck; but, as he was not used to such barbarous attempts, his hand failed in the performance; and he was seized with such remorse, that, perceiving the wounds were not mortal, he carried the hapless victim to the house of a surgeon, by whose care they were healed; and, in the meantime, that he might not forfeit his recompense, found means to persuade his employer, that his orders were performed. A bundle being made up for the purpose, was publicly interred as the body of the child, who was said to have been suddenly carried off by a convulsion; and the uncle, without opposition, succeeded to his honours and estate. The boy being cured of his hurts, was, about the age of six, delivered, with a small sum of money, to a merchant just embarking for Turkey; who was given to understand, that he was the bastard of a man of quality and that for family reasons, it was necessary to conceal his birth.
“While the unfortunate orphan remained in this deplorable state of bondage, all the children of the usurper died one after another; and he himself being taken dangerously ill, attributed all his afflictions to the just judgment of God, and communicated his anxiety on that subject to the valet-de-chambre, who had been employed in the murder of his nephew. That domestic, in order to quiet his master’s conscience, and calm the perturbation of his spirits, confessed what he had done, and gave him hopes of still finding the boy by dint of industry and expense. The unhappy child being the only hope of the family of Alvarez, the uncle immediately ordered a minute inquiry to be set on foot; in consequence of which he was informed, that the orphan had been sold to a Turk, who had afterwards transferred him to an English merchant, by whom he was conveyed to London.
“An express was immediately despatched to this capital, where he understood that the unhappy exile had, in consideration of his faithful services, been bound apprentice to a French barber-surgeon; and, after he had sufficiently qualified himself in that profession, been received into the family of the Count de Gallas, at that time the emperor’s ambassador at the court of London. From the house of this nobleman he was traced into the service of Count d’Oberstorf, where he had married his lady’s chambermaid, and then gone to settle as a surgeon in Bohemia.
“In the course of these inquiries, several years elapsed: his uncle, who was very much attached to the house of Austria, lived at Barcelona when the father of this empress-queen resided in that city, and lent him a very considerable sum of money in the most pressing emergency of his affairs; and when that prince was on the point of returning to Germany, the old count, finding his end approaching, sent his father confessor to his majesty, with a circumstantial account of the barbarity he had practised against his nephew, for which he implored forgiveness, and begged he would give orders, that the orphan, when found, should inherit the dignities and fortune which he had unjustly usurped.
“His majesty assured the old man, that he might make himself easy on that score, and ordered the confessor to follow him to Vienna, immediately after the count’s death, in order to assist his endeavours in finding out the injured heir. The priest did not fail to yield obedience to this command. He informed himself of certain natural marks on the young count’s body, which were known to the nurse and women who attended him in his infancy; and, with a gentleman whom the emperor ordered to accompany him, set out for Bohemia, where he soon found the object of his inquiry, in the capacity of major-domo to a nobleman of that country, he having quitted his profession of surgery for that office.
“He was not a little surprised, when he found himself circumstantially catechised about the particulars of his life, by persons commissioned for that purpose by the emperor. He told them, that he was absolutely ignorant of his own birth, though he had been informed, during his residence in Turkey, that he was the bastard of a Spanish grandee, and gave them a minute detail of the pilgrimage he had undergone. This information agreeing with the intelligence which the priest had already received, and being corroborated by the marks upon his body, and the very scars of the wounds which had been inflicted upon him in his infancy, the confessor, without further hesitation, saluted him by the name of Count d’Alvarez, grandee of Spain, and explained the whole mystery of his fortune.
“If he was agreeably amazed at this explanation, the case was otherwise with his wife, who thought herself in great danger of being abandoned by a husband of such high rank; but he immediately dispelled her apprehension, by assuring her, that, as she had shared in his adversity, she should also partake of his good fortune. He set out immediately for Vienna, to make his acknowledgments to the emperor, who favoured him with a very gracious reception, promised to use his influence, so that he might enjoy the honours and estate of his family; and in the meantime acknowledged himself his debtor for four hundred thousand florins, which he had borrowed from his uncle. He threw himself at the feet of his august protector, expressed the most grateful sense of his goodness, and begged he might be permitted to settle in some of his imperial majesty’s dominions. This request was immediately granted; he was allowed to purchase land in any part of the hereditary dominions of the house of Austria, to the amount of the sum I have mentioned; and made choice of the country of Ratibor, in Silesia, where, in all probability, he still resides.”
Peregrine had scarce finished the narrative, when he perceived Mr. M— slip something into the hand of the young man with whom he had been conversing at the other end of the room, and rise up from the table in order to take his leave. He at once understood the meaning of this conveyance, and longed for an opportunity to be acquainted with such a rare instance of primitive benevolence; but the consciousness of his present situation hindered him from making any advance that might be construed into forwardness or presumption.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54