The Virginians, by William Makepeace Thackeray


In which we both fight and run away

What was the use of a Colonel without a regiment? The Governor and Council who had made such a parade of thanks in endowing me with mine, were away out of sight, skulking on board ships, with an occasional piracy and arson on shore. My Lord Dunmore’s black allies frightened away those of his own blood; and besides these negroes whom he had summoned round him in arms, we heard that he had sent an envoy among the Indians of the South, and that they were to come down in numbers and tomahawk our people into good behaviour. “And these are to be our allies!” I say to my mother, exchanging ominous looks with her, and remembering, with a ghastly distinctness, that savage whose face glared over mine, and whose knife was at my throat when Florac struck him down on Braddock’s Field. We put our house of Castlewood into as good a state of defence as we could devise; but, in truth, it was more of the red men and the blacks than of the rebels we were afraid. I never saw my mother lose courage but once, and then when she was recounting to us the particulars of our father’s death in a foray of Indians more than forty years ago. Seeing some figures one night moving in front of our house, nothing could persuade the good lady but that they were savages, and she sank on her knees crying out, “The Lord have mercy upon us! The Indians — the Indians!”

My lord’s negro allies vanished on board his ships, or where they could find pay and plunder; but the painted heroes from the South never made their appearance, though I own to have looked at my mother’s grey head, my wife’s brown hair, and our little one’s golden ringlets, with a horrible pang of doubt lest these should fall the victims of ruffian war. And it was we who fought with such weapons, and enlisted these allies! But that I dare not (so to speak) be setting myself up as interpreter of Providence, and pointing out the special finger of Heaven (as many people are wont to do), I would say our employment of these Indians, and of the German mercenaries, brought their own retribution with them in this war. In the field, where the mercenaries were attacked by the Provincials, they yielded, and it was triumphing over them that so raised the spirit of the Continental army; and the murder of one woman (Miss McCrea) by a half-dozen drunken Indians, did more harm to the Royal cause than the loss of a battle or the destruction of regiments.

Now, the Indian panic over, Madam Esmond’s courage returned: and she began to be seriously and not unjustly uneasy at the danger which I ran myself, and which I brought upon others, by remaining in Virginia.

“What harm can they do me,” says she, “a poor woman? If I have one son a colonel without a regiment, I have another with a couple of hundred Continentals behind him in Mr. Washington’s camp. If the Royalists come, they will let me off for your sake; if the rebels appear, I shall have Harry’s passport. I don’t wish, sir, I don’t like that your delicate wife and this dear little baby should be here, and only increase the risk of all of us! We must have them away to Boston or New York. Don’t talk about defending me! Who will think of hurting a poor, harmless, old woman? If the rebels come, I shall shelter behind Mrs. Fanny’s petticoats, and shall be much safer without you in the house than in it.” This she said in part, perhaps, because ’twas reasonable; more so because she would have me and my family out of the danger; and danger or not, for her part felt that she was determined to remain in the land where her father was buried, and she was born. She was living backwards, so to speak. She had seen the new generation, and blessed them, and bade them farewell. She belonged to the past, and old days and memories.

While we were debating about the Boston scheme, comes the news that the British have evacuated that luckless city altogether, never having ventured to attack Mr. Washington in his camp at Cambridge (though he lay there for many months without powder at our mercy); but waiting until he procured ammunition, and seized and fortified Dorchester heights, which commanded the town, out of which the whole British army and colony was obliged to beat a retreat. That the King’s troops won the battle at Bunker’s Hill, there is no more doubt than that they beat the French at Blenheim; but through the war their chiefs seem constantly to have been afraid of assaulting entrenched Continentals afterwards; else why, from July to March, hesitate to strike an almost defenceless enemy? Why the hesitation at Long Island, when the Continental army was in our hand? Why that astonishing timorousness — of Howe before Valley Forge, where the relics of a force starving, sickening, and in rags, could scarcely man the lines, which they held before a great, victorious, and perfectly appointed army?

As the hopes and fears of the contending parties rose and fell, it was curious to mark the altered tone of the partisans of either. When the news came to us in the country of the evacuation of Boston, every little Whig in the neighbourhood made his bow to Madam, and advised her to a speedy submission. She did not carry her loyalty quite so openly as heretofore, and flaunt her flag in the faces of the public, but she never swerved. Every night and morning in private poor Hagan prayed for the Royal Family in our own household, and on Sundays any neighbours were welcome to attend the service, where my mother acted as a very emphatic clerk, and the prayer for the High Court of Parliament under our most religious and gracious King was very stoutly delivered. The brave Hagan was a parson without a living, as I was a Militia Colonel without a regiment. Hagan had continued to pray stoutly for King George in Williamsburg, long after his Excellency our Governor had run away: but on coming to church one Sunday to perform his duty, he found a corporal’s guard at the church-door, who told him that the Committee of Safety had put another divine in his place, and he was requested to keep a quiet tongue in his head. He told the men to “lead him before their chiefs” (our honest friend always loved tall words and tragic attitudes); and accordingly was marched through the streets to the Capitol, with a chorus of white and coloured blackguards at the skirts of his gown; and had an interview with Messrs. Henry and the new State officers, and confronted the robbers, as he said, in their den. Of course he was for making an heroic speech before these gentlemen (and was one of many men who perhaps would have no objection to be made martyrs, so that they might be roasted coram populo, or tortured in a full house), but Mr. Henry was determined to give him no such chance. After keeping Hagan three or four hours waiting in an anteroom in the company of negroes, when the worthy divine entered the new chief magistrate’s room with an undaunted mien, and began a prepared speech with —“Sir, by what authority am I, a minister of the ——” “Mr. Hagan,” says the other, interrupting him, “I am too busy to listen to speeches. And as for King George, he has henceforth no more authority in this country than King Nebuchadnezzar. Mind you that, and hold your tongue, if you please! Stick to King John, sir, and King Macbeth; and if you will send round your benefit-tickets, all the Assembly shall come and hear you. Did you ever see Mr. Hagan on the boards, when you was in London, General?” And, so saying, Henry turns round upon Mr. Washington’s second in command, General Lee, who was now come into Virginia upon State affairs, and our shamefaced good Hagan was bustled out of the room, reddening, and almost crying with shame. After this event we thought that Hagan’s ministrations were best confined to us in the country, and removed the worthy pastor from his restive lambs in the city.

The selection of Virginians to the very highest civil and military appointments of the new government bribed and flattered many of our leading people, who, otherwise, and but for the outrageous conduct of our government, might have remained faithful to the Crown, and made good head against the rising rebellion. But, although we Loyalists were gagged and muzzled, though the Capitol was in the hands of the Whigs, and our vaunted levies of loyal recruits so many Falstaff’s regiments for the most part, the faithful still kept intelligences with one another in the colony, and with our neighbours; and though we did not rise, and though we ran away, and though, in examination before committees, justices, and so forth, some of our frightened people gave themselves Republican airs, and vowed perdition to kings and nobles; yet we knew each other pretty well, and — according as the chances were more or less favourable to us, the master more or less hard — we concealed our colours, showed our colours, half showed our colours, or downright apostatised for the nonce, and cried, “Down with King George!” Our negroes bore about, from house to house, all sorts of messages and tokens. Endless underhand plots and schemes were engaged in by those who could not afford the light. The battle over, the neutrals come and join the winning side, and shout as loudly as the patriots. The runaways are not counted. Will any man tell me that the signers and ardent well-wishers of the Declaration of Independence were not in a minority of the nation, and that the minority did not win? We knew that apart of the defeated army of Massachusetts was about to make an important expedition southward, upon the success of which the very greatest hopes were founded; and I, for one, being anxious to make a movement as soon as there was any chance of activity, had put myself in communication with the ex-Governor Martin, of North Carolina, whom I proposed to join, with three or four of our Virginian gentlemen, officers of that notable corps of which we only wanted privates. We made no particular mystery about our departure from Castlewood; the affairs of Congress were not going so well yet that the new government could afford to lay any particular stress or tyranny upon persons of a doubtful way of thinking. Gentlemen’s houses were still open; and in our southern fashion we would visit our friends for months at a time. My wife and I, with our infant and a fitting suite of servants, took leave of Madam Esmond on a visit to a neighbouring plantation. We went thence to another friend’s house, and then to another, till finally we reached Wilmington, in North Carolina, which was the point at which we expected to stretch a hand to the succours which were coming to meet us.

Ere our arrival, our brother Carolinian Royalists had shown themselves in some force. Their encounters with the Whigs had been unlucky. The poor Highlanders had been no more fortunate in their present contest in favour of King George, than when they had drawn their swords against him in their own country. We did not reach Wilmington until the end of May, by which time we found Admiral Parker’s squadron there, with General Clinton and five British regiments on board, whose object was a descent upon Charleston.

The General, to whom I immediately made myself known, seeing that my regiment consisted of Lady Warrington, our infant, whom she was nursing, and three negro servants, received us at first with a very grim welcome. But Captain Horner of the Sphinx frigate, who had been on the Jamaica station, and received, like all the rest of the world, many kindnesses from our dear Governor there, when he heard that my wife was General Lambert’s daughter, eagerly received her on board, and gave up his best cabin to our service; and so we were refugees, too, like my Lord Dunmore, having waved our flag, to be sure, and pocketed it, and slipped out at the back door. From Wilmington we bore away quickly to Charleston, and in the course of the voyage and our delay in the river, previous to our assault on the place, I made some acquaintance with Mr. Clinton, which increased to a further intimacy. It was the King’s birthday when we appeared in the river: we determined it was a glorious day for the commencement of the expedition.

It did not take place for some days after, and I leave out, purposely, all descriptions of my Penelope parting from her Hector, going forth on this expedition. In the first place, Hector is perfectly well (though a little gouty), nor has any rascal of a Pyrrhus made a prize of his widow: and in times of war and commotion, are not such scenes of woe and terror, and parting, occurring every hour? I can see the gentle face yet over the bulwark, as we descend the ship’s side into the boats, and the smile of the infant on her arm. What old stories, to be sure! Captain Miles, having no natural taste for poetry, you have forgot the verses, no doubt, in Mr. Pope’s Homer, in which you are described as parting with your heroic father; but your mother often read them to you as a boy, and keeps the gorget I wore on that day somewhere amongst her dressing-boxes now.

My second venture at fighting was no more lucky than my first. We came back to our ships that evening thoroughly beaten. The madcap Lee, whom Clinton had faced at Boston, now met him at Charleston. Lee, and the gallant garrison there, made a brilliant and most successful resistance. The fort on Sullivan’s Island, which we attacked, was a nut we could not crack. The fire of all our frigates was not strong enough to pound its shell; the passage by which we moved up to the assault of the place was not fordable, as those officers found — Sir Henry at the head of them, who was always the first to charge — who attempted to wade it. Death by shot, by drowning, by catching my death of cold, I had braved before I returned to my wife; and our frigate being aground for a time and got off with difficulty, was agreeably cannonaded by the enemy until she got off her bank.

A small incident in the midst of this unlucky struggle was the occasion of a subsequent intimacy which arose between me and Sir Harry Clinton, and bound me to that most gallant officer during the Period in which it was my fortune to follow the war. Of his qualifications as a leader there may be many opinions: I fear to say, regarding a man I heartily respect and admire, there ought only to be one. Of his personal bearing and his courage there can be no doubt; he was always eager to show it; and whether at the final charge on Breed’s Hill, when at the head of the rallied troops he carried the Continental lines, or here before Sullivan’s Fort, or a year later at Fort Washington, when, standard in hand, he swept up the height, and entered the fort at the head of the storming column, Clinton was always foremost in the race of battle, and the King’s service knew no more admirable soldier.

We were taking to the water from our boats, with the intention of forcing a column to the fort, through a way which our own guns had rendered practicable, when a shot struck a boat alongside of us, so well aimed, as actually to put three-fourths of the boat’s crew hors de combat, and knock down the officer steering, and the flag behind him. I could not help crying out, “Bravo! well aimed!” for no ninepins ever went down more helplessly than these poor fellows before the round shot. Then the General, turning round to me, says, rather grimly, “Sir, the behaviour of the enemy seems to please you!” “I am pleased, sir,” says I, “that my countrymen, yonder, should fight as becomes our nation.” We floundered on towards the fort in the midst of the same amiable attentions from small arms and great, until we found the water was up to our breasts and deepening at every step, when we were fain to take to our boats again and pull out of harm’s way. Sir Henry waited upon my Lady Warrington on board the Sphinx after this, and was very gracious to her, and mighty facetious regarding the character of the humble writer of the present memoir, whom his Excellency always described as a rebel at heart. I pray my children may live to see or engage in no great revolutions — such as that, for instance, raging in the country of our miserable French neighbours. Save a very, very few indeed, the actors in those great tragedies do not bear to be scanned too closely; the chiefs are often no better than ranting quacks; the heroes ignoble puppets; the heroines anything but pure. The prize is not always to the brave. In our revolution it certainly did fall, for once and for a wonder, to the most deserving: but who knows his enemies now? His great and surprising triumphs were not in those rare engagements with the enemy where he obtained a trifling mastery; but over Congress; over hunger and disease; over lukewarm friends, or smiling foes in his own camp, whom his great spirit had to meet and master. When the struggle was over, and our important chiefs who had conducted it began to squabble and accuse each other in their own defence before the nation — what charges and counter-charges were brought; what pretexts of delay were urged; what piteous excuses were put forward that this fleet arrived too late; that that regiment mistook its orders; that these cannon-balls would not fit those guns; and so to the end of the chapter! Here was a general who beat us with no shot at times, and no powder, and no money; and he never thought of a convention; his courage never capitulated! Through all the doubt and darkness, the danger and long tempest of the war, I think it was only the American leader’s indomitable soul that remained entirely steady.

Of course our Charleston expedition was made the most of, and pronounced a prodigious victory by the enemy, who had learnt (from their parents, perhaps) to cry victory if a corporal’s guard were surprised, as loud as if we had won a pitched battle. Mr. Lee rushed back to New York, the conqueror of conquerors, trumpeting his glory, and by no man received with more eager delight than by the Commander-inChief of the American Army. It was my dear Lee and my dear General between them, then; and it hath always touched me in the history of our early Revolution to note that simple confidence and admiration with which the General-inChief was wont to regard officers under him, who had happened previously to serve with the King’s army. So the Mexicans of old looked and wondered when they first saw an armed Spanish horseman! And this mad, flashy braggart (and another Continental general, whose name and whose luck afterwards were sufficiently notorious) you may be sure took advantage of the modesty of the Commander-inChief, and advised, and blustered, and sneered, and disobeyed orders; daily presenting fresh obstacles (as if he had not enough otherwise!) in the path over which only Mr. Washington’s astonishing endurance could have enabled him to march.

Whilst we were away on our South Carolina expedition, the famous Fourth of July had taken place, and we and the thirteen United States were parted for ever. My own native state of Virginia had also distinguished itself by announcing that all men are equally free; that all power is vested in the people, who have an inalienable right to alter, reform, or abolish their form of government at pleasure, and that the idea of an hereditary first magistrate is unnatural and absurd! Our General presented me with this document fresh from Williamsburg, as we were sailing northward by the Virginia capes, and, amidst not a little amusement and laughter, pointed out to me the faith to which, from the Fourth inst. inclusive, I was bound. There was no help for it; I was a Virginian — my godfathers had promised and vowed, in my name, that all men were equally free (including, of course, the race of poor Gumbo), that the idea of a monarchy is absurd, and that I had the right to alter my form of government at pleasure. I thought of Madam Esmond at home, and how she would look when these articles of faith were brought her to subscribe; how would Hagan receive them? He demolished them in a sermon, in which all the logic was on his side, but the U.S. Government has not, somehow, been affected by the discourse; and when he came to touch upon the point that all men being free, therefore Gumbo and Sady, and Nathan, had assuredly a right to go to Congress: “Tut, tut! my good Mr. Hagan,” says my mother, “let us hear no more of this nonsense; but leave such wickedness and folly to the rebels!”

By the middle of August we were before New York, whither Mr. Howe had brought his army that had betaken itself to Halifax after its inglorious expulsion from Boston. The American Commander-inChief was at New York, and a great battle inevitable; and I looked forward to it with an inexpressible feeling of doubt and anxiety, knowing that my dearest brother and his regiment formed part of the troops whom we must attack, and could not but overpower. Almost the whole of the American army came over to fight on a small island, where every officer on both sides knew that they were to be beaten, and whence they had not a chance of escape. Two frigates, out of a hundred we had placed so as to command the enemy’s entrenched camp and point of retreat across East River to New York, would have destroyed every bark in which he sought to fly, and compelled him to lay down his arms on shore. He fought: his hasty levies were utterly overthrown; some of his generals, his best troops, his artillery taken; the remnant huddled into their entrenched camp after their rout, the pursuers entering it with them. The victors were called back; the enemy was then pent up in a corner of the island, and could not escape. “They are at our mercy, and are ours tomorrow,” says the gentle General. Not a ship was set to watch the American force; not a sentinel of ours could see a movement in their camp. A whole army crossed under our eyes in one single night to the mainland without the loss of a single man; and General Howe was suffered to remain in command after this feat, and to complete his glories of Long Island and Breed’s Hill, at Philadelphia! A friend, to be sure, crossed in the night to say the enemy’s army was being ferried over, but he fell upon a picket of Germans: they could not understand him: their commander was boozing or asleep. In the morning, when the spy was brought to some one who could comprehend the American language, the whole Continental force had crossed the East River, and the empire over thirteen colonies had slipped away.

The opinions I had about our chief were by no means uncommon in the army; though, perhaps, wisely kept secret by gentlemen under Mr. Howe’s immediate command. Am I more unlucky than other folks, I wonder? or why are my imprudent sayings carried about more than my neighbours’? My rage that such a use was made of such a victory was no greater than that of scores of gentlemen with the army. Why must my name forsooth be given up to the Commander-inChief as that of the most guilty of the grumblers? Personally, General Howe was perfectly brave, amiable, and good-humoured.

“So, Sir George,” says he, “you find fault with me, as a military man, because there was a fog after the battle on Long Island, and your friends, the Continentals, gave me the slip! Surely we took and killed enough of them; but there is no satisfying you gentlemen amateurs!” and he turned his back on me, and shrugged his shoulders, and talked to some one else. Amateur I might be, and he the most amiable of men; but if King George had said to him, “Never more be officer of mine,” yonder agreeable and pleasant Cassio would most certainly have had his desert.

I soon found how our Chief had come in possession of his information regarding myself. My admirable cousin, Mr. William Esmond — who of course had forsaken New York and his post, when all the Royal authorities fled out of the place, and Washington occupied it — returned along with our troops and fleets; and, being a gentleman of good birth and name, and well acquainted with the city, made himself agreeable to the newcomers of the Royal army, the young bloods, merry fellows, and macaronis, by introducing them to play-tables, taverns, and yet worse places, with which the worthy gentleman continued to be familiar in the New World as in the Old. Coelum non animum. However Will had changed his air, or whithersoever he transported his carcase, he carried a rascal in his skin.

I had heard a dozen stories of his sayings regarding my family, and was determined neither to avoid him nor seek him; but to call him to account whensoever we met; and, chancing one day to be at a coffee-house in a friend’s company, my worthy kinsman swaggered in with a couple of young lads of the army, whom he found it was his pleasure and profit now to lead into every kind of dissipation. I happened to know one of Mr. Will’s young companions, an aide-de-camp of General Clinton’s, who had been in my close company both at Charleston, before Sullivan’s Island, and in the action of Brooklyn, where our General gloriously led the right wing of the English army. They took a box without noticing us at first, though I heard my name three or four times mentioned by my brawling kinsman, who ended some drunken speech he was making by slapping his fist on the table, and swearing, “By — — I will do for him, and the bloody rebel, his brother!”

“Ah! Mr. Esmond,” says I, coming forward with my hat on. (He looked a little pale behind his punch-bowl.) “I have long wanted to see you, to set some little matters right about which there has been a difference between us.”

“And what may those be, sir?” says he, with a volley of oaths.

“You have chosen to cast a doubt upon my courage, and say that I shirked a meeting with you when we were young men. Our relationship and our age ought to prevent us from having recourse to such murderous follies” (Mr. Will started up, looking fierce and relieved), “but I give you notice, that though I can afford to overlook lies against myself, if I hear from you a word in disparagement of my brother, Colonel Warrington, of the Continental Army, I will hold you accountable.”

“Indeed, gentlemen! Mighty fine, indeed! You take notice of Sir George Warrington’s words!” cries Mr. Will over his punch-bowl.

“You have been pleased to say,” I continued, growing angry as I spoke, and being a fool therefore for my pains, “that the very estates we hold in this country are not ours, but of right revert to your family!”

“So they are ours! By George, they’re ours! I’ve heard my brother Castlewood say so a score of times!” swears Mr. Will.

“In that case, sir,” says I, hotly, “your brother, my Lord Castlewood, tells no more truth than yourself. We have the titles at hone in Virginia. They are registered in the courts there; and if ever I hear one word more of this impertinence, I shall call you to account where no constables will be at hand to interfere!”

“I wonder,” cries Will, in a choking voice, “that I don’t cut him into twenty thousand pieces as he stands there before me with his confounded yellow face. It was my brother Castlewood won his money — no, it was his brother; d —— you, which are you, the rebel or the other? I hate the ugly faces of both of you, and, hic! — if you are for the King, show you are for the King, and drink his health!” and he sank down into his box with a hiccup and a wild laugh, which he repeated a dozen times, with a hundred more oaths and vociferous outcries that I should drink the King’s health.

To reason with a creature in this condition, or ask explanations or apologies from him, was absurd. I left Mr. Will to reel to his lodgings under the care of his young friends — who were surprised to find an old toper so suddenly affected and so utterly prostrated by liquor — and limped home to my wife, whom I found happy in possession of a brief letter from Hal, which a countryman had brought in; and who said not a word about the affairs of the Continentals with whom he was engaged, but wrote a couple of pages of rapturous eulogiums upon his brother’s behaviour in the field, which my dear Hal was pleased to admire, as he admired everything I said and did.

I rather looked for a messenger from my amiable kinsman in consequence of the speeches which had passed between us the night before, and did not know but that I might be called by Will to make my words good; and when accordingly Mr. Lacy (our companion of the previous evening) made his appearance at an early hour of the forenoon, I was beckoning my Lady Warrington to leave us, when, with a laugh and a cry of “Oh dear, no!” Mr. Lacy begged her ladyship not to disturb herself.

“I have seen,” says he, “a gentleman who begs to send you his apologies if he uttered a word last night which could offend you.”

“What apologies? what words?” asks the anxious wife.

I explained that roaring Will Esmond had met me in a coffee-house on the previous evening, and quarrelled with me, as he had done with hundreds before. “It appears the fellow is constantly abusive, and invariably pleads drunkenness, and apologises the next morning, unless he is caned over-night,” remarked Captain Lacy. And my lady, I dare say, makes a little sermon, and asks why we gentlemen will go to idle coffee-houses and run the risk of meeting roaring, roystering Will Esmonds?

Our sojourn in New York was enlivened by a project for burning the city which some ardent patriots entertained and partially executed. Several such schemes were laid in the course of the war, and each one of the principal cities was doomed to fire; though, in the interests of peace and goodwill, I hope it will be remembered that these plans never originated with the cruel government of a tyrant king, but were always proposed by gentlemen on the Continental side, who vowed that, rather than remain under the ignominious despotism of the ruffian of Brunswick, the fairest towns of America should burn. I presume that the sages who were for burning down Boston were not actual proprietors in that place, and the New York burners might come from other parts of the country — from Philadelphia, or what not. Howbeit, the British spared you, gentlemen, and we pray you give us credit for this act of moderation.

I had not the fortune to be present in the action on the White Plains, being detained by the hurt which I had received at Long Island, and which broke out again and again, and took some time in the healing. The tenderest of nurses watched me through my tedious malady, and was eager for the day when I should doff my militia coat and return to the quiet English home where Hetty and our good General were tending our children. Indeed I don’t know that I have yet forgiven myself for the pains and terrors that I must have caused my poor wife, by keeping her separate from her young ones, and away from her home, because, forsooth, I wished to see a little more of the war then going on. Our grand tour in Europe had been all very well. We had beheld St. Peter’s at Rome, and the Bishop thereof; the Dauphiness of France (alas, to think that glorious head should ever have been brought so low!) at Paris; and the rightful King of England at Florence. I had dipped my gout in a half-dozen baths and spas, and played cards in a hundred courts, as my Travels in Europe (which I propose to publish after my completion of the History of the American War) will testify. [Neither of these two projected works of Sir George Warrington were brought, as it appears, to a completion.] And, during our peregrinations, my hypochondria diminished (which plagued me woefully at home); and my health and spirits visibly improved. Perhaps it was because she saw the evident benefit I had from excitement and change, that my wife was reconciled to my continuing to enjoy them; and though secretly suffering pangs at being away from her nursery and her eldest boy (for whom she ever has had an absurd infatuation), the dear hypocrite scarce allowed a look of anxiety to appear on her face; encouraged me with smiles; professed herself eager to follow me; asked why it should be a sin in me to covet honour? and, in a word, was ready to stay, to go, to smile, to be sad; to scale mountains, or to go down to the sea in ships; to say that cold was pleasant, heat tolerable, hunger good sport, dirty lodgings delightful; though she is wretched sailor, very delicate about the little she eats, and an extreme sufferer both of cold and heat. Hence, as I willed to stay on yet a while on my native continent, she was certain nothing was so good for me; and when I was minded to return home — oh, how she brightened, and kissed her infant, and told him how he should see the beautiful gardens at home, and Aunt Theo, and grandpapa, and his sister, and Miles. “Miles!” cries the little parrot, mocking its mother — and crowing; as if there was any mighty privilege in seeing Mr. Miles, forsooth, who was under Doctor Sumner’s care at Harrow-on-the-Hill, where, to do the gentleman justice, he showed that he could eat more tarts than any boy in the school, and took most creditable prizes at football and hare-and-hounds.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00