« EdellinenJatka »
Bimbelot and Sauvageon besought their captors to let them go, but ineffectually.
Epargnez moi, de grace,” roared Bimbelot, piteously; “I adore de great Marlbrook.”
“ Listen to his lingo,” cried a waterman. “ We must be precious flats not to have found him out sooner.”
“I am entirely of your opinion, friend,” replied Proddy.
“ What shall we do with 'em ?” cried a small-coal-man. « Throw 'em into the fire ?"
“ Or roast 'em alive?" cried a butcher.
“Oh, mon cher sergent !-my dear Mr. Proddy! do say a word for me,” implored Bimbelot.
But the coachman turned away in disgust.
“ I'll tell you what to do with 'em,” said Scales to the bystanders. “Make the valet put on this tatterdemalion attire,” pointing to the duke's effigy,"and make the corporal put on t'other.”
Shouts of laughter followed this suggestion, and instant preparations were made to carry it into effect. The straw bolsters were stripped of their covering, and the two Frenchmen, whose clothes were torn from their backs, were compelled to put on the wretched habiliments of their dummies. The masks were then clapped on their faces, and they looked more complete scare-crows than the effigies themselves. Bimbelot's appearance occasioned roars of laughter. The old jack-boots into which his little legs were plunged ascended to his hips; the coat covered him like a sack; and the hat thrust over his brows well nigh extinguished him. Sauvageon looked scarcely less ridiculous. In this guise, they were hoisted upon the top of the sedan-chair, and exposed to the jeers and hootings of the rabble, who, after pelting them with various missiles, threatened to throw them into the fire; and would have done so, no doubt, but for the interference of the serjeant and Proddy. In the end, crackers were tied to their tails, and fired, after which they were allowed to run for their lives, and, amidst a shower of squibs and blazing embers, which were hurled at them, managed to escape.
Thus ended the trial of Doctor Sacheverell, which paved the way, as had been foreseen by its projectors, for the dissolution of the ministry. The Whigs never recovered the blow so successfully aimed at their popularity; and though they struggled on for some time, from this point their decline may
be dated. Six weeks after the termination of his trial, Doctor Sacheverell commenced a progress through the country, and was everywhere received with extraordinary rejoicing. At Oxford, he was magnificently entertained by the heads of the colleges, and after remaining there during a fortnight, proceeded to Bunbury and Warwick, where he was equally well received. But the greatest honour shewn him was at Bridgenorth. As he approached the town, he was met by Mr. Creswell, a wealthy gentleman of the neighbourhood, attached to the Jacobite cause, at the head of an immense cavalcade of horse and foot, amounting to many thousands, most of whom wore white breast-knots edged with gold, and gilt laurel-leaves in their hats. The roads were lined with people, and, to add to the effect of the procession, the hedges were dressed with flowers to the distance of two miles. The steeples were adorned with flags and colours, and the bells rang out merrily. This was the last scene of the doctor's triumph.
CHAPTER THE NINTH.
SHEWING HOW THE WHIG MINISTRY WAS DISSOLVED.
The cabals of Harley, to effect the dissolution of the Whig ministry, were at length crowned with success. Consternation was carried into the cabinet by the sudden and unlooked-for appointment of the Duke of Somerset to the place of lord chamberlain, in the room of the Earl of Kent, who was induced to retire by the offer of a dukedom; as well as by the removal of Sunderland, notwithstanding the efforts of his colleagues and the Duchess of Marlborough to keep him in his post; but the final blow was given by the disgrace of Godolphin, who, having parted with the queen overnight, on apparently amicable terms, was confounded, the next morning, by receiving a letter from her, intimating that he was dismissed from her service, and requiring him to break his staff, in place of delivering it up to her. Ă retiring pension of four thousand a-year was promised him at the same time, but it was never paid; nor was it ever demanded by the high-minded treasurer, though he stood much in need of it.
The treasury was instantly put into commission, and Lord Poulet placed at its head, while Harley was invested with the real powers of government. Proposals of a coalition were then made to such Whig ministers as still remained in office, but they were indignantly rejected, it being supposed that the Tories could not carry on the administration, inasmuch as they had not the confidence of the country. No alternative, therefore, was left the queen, but to dismiss the Whigs altogether, which was done, and parliament dissolved.
The result of this latter step proved the justice of Harley's calculations. Hitherto the junta had possessed entire control over the House of Commons, and they relied upon its support, to embarrass the measures of the new ministers, and ultimately regain their lost power. But the returns undeceived them, manifesting a vast preponderance in favour of the Tories in the new parliament. Mortification and defeat had been everywhere experienced by the Whigs. The recent impeachment was constantly thrown in their teeth: those who had voted for it were insulted and threatened by the rabble ; while the name of
Sacheverell served as the rallying word of their adversaries. The new parliament, therefore, placed a Tory ministry out of the reach of danger.
Prior to the elections, the ministerial appointments were completed. Mr. Saint-John was made secretary of state ; the Duke of Ormond, lord-lieutenant of Ireland; the Earl of Rochester, president of the council ; the Duke of Buckingham, lord-steward of the household ; and other promotions occurred, not necessary to be particularized. So constructed, the new cabinet commenced its work; and, supported as it was by the queen, seemed to hold out a reasonable prospect of stability. Energy and unanimity at first marked its progress, and the fierce and unscrupulous opposition it encountered only added to its strength.
Disunions and jealousies, however, began ere long to arise in it, inspiring the displaced party with a hope that the combination which had proved fatal to them would be speedily disorganized.
Harley had not yet attained the goal of his ambition; and now, at the moment when he was about to put forth his hand to grasp the reward of his toils—the treasurer's staff, two rivals stepped forward, threatening to snatch it from him. These were, the Earl of Rochester and Saint-John. Between Harley and Rochester an old enmity had subsisted, which, though patched up for a time, had latterly been revived in all its ardour. Conceiving himself entitled, from his long experience, his tried attachment to the church, his relationship to the queen (he was her maternal uncle), to the chief office of the government, Rochester put in his claim for it, and Anne was too timid and indecisive to give him a positive refusal. Saint-John, on the other hand, conscious of his
, superior abilities, disdaining to be ruled, and master of the Jacobite and movement sections of the Tory party, was determined no longer to hold a subordinate place in the cabinet, and signified as much to Mrs. Masham, to whom he paid secret and assiduous court. Thus opposed, Harley seemed in danger of losing the prize for which he had laboured so hard, when an occurrence took place, which though at first apparently fraught with imminent peril, in the end proved the means of accomplishing his desires. To explain this, we must go back a short space in our history.
One night, about six months after Sacheverell's trial, a man suddenly darted out of Little Man's coffee-house-a notorious haunt of sharpers—with a drawn sword in his hand, and made off at a furious pace towards Pall Mall. He was pursued by halfa-dozen persons, armed like himself; but after chasing him as far as the Haymarket, they lost sight of him, and turned back.
“ Well, let him go," said one of them; "we know where to find him, if the major's wounds prove mortal.”
“ The major has won above five hundred pounds from him," observed another; “so if he has got hurt, he can afford to buy plasters for his wounds."
“ It has been diamond cut diamond throughout, but the
major has proved the sharper in more senses than one,” observed a third, with a laugh; “but as the marquis has palmed, topped, knapped, and slurred the dice himself, he could not, in reason, blame the major for using fulhams.”
“ I shouldn't care if the marquis could keep his temper,” said a fourth; “but his sword is out whenever he loses, and the major is not the first, by some score, that he has pinked.”
“ Defend me from the marquis!” said the first ; “ but I suppose we have done with him now. He's regularly cleaned out.”
“Yet he's so clever a fellow, that it wont surprise me if he finds out a way to retrieve his fortunes,” said the third.
“He'd sell himself to the devil to do it, I don't doubt,” remarked the first; “but come ! let's go back to the major. We must get him some assistance.”
The Marquis de Guiscard, who had retreated into a small street near the Haymarket, finding his pursuers gone, issued from his place of concealment, and proceeded slowly homewards. His gait was unsteady, as if from intoxication; but this was not the case, and he uttered ever and anon a deep oath, smiting his forehead with his clenched hand.
On reaching his residence, the door was opened by Bimbelot, who started on beholding his wild and haggard looks. Snatching a light from the terrified valet, Guiscard rushed up stairs and entered a room, but presently returned to the landing, and called to Bimbelot, in a loud, angry voice,
“Where's your mistress, rascal? Is she not come home ?"
“No, monseigneur,” replied the valet, “she's gone to the masquerade, and you are aware it is seldom over before four or five o'clock in the morning.
Uttering an angry ejaculation, the marquis returned to the room, and flinging himself into a chair, buried his face in his hands, and was for some time lost in the bitterest and most painful reflection.
He then arose, and pacing to and fro, exclaimed—“ Disgrace and ruin stare me in the face! What shall I do?-how relieve myself? Fool! madman that I was, to risk all I had against the foul play of those sharpers. They have fleeced me of everything; and to-morrow, my house, and all within it, will be seized by the merciless Jew, Solomons, who has hunted me down like a beast of prey. The discontinuance of my pension of a hundred ducatoons a month from the States-General of Holland—the disbanding of my regiment, and the consequent loss of my pay -the extravagances of the woman I was fool enough to marry for the bribe of a thousand pounds from Harley, thrice which amount she has since spent-the failure of my schemes the death of my stanch friend the Comte de Briançon—all these calamities have reduced me to such a strait, that I was weak enough -mad enough-to place my whole fortune on one last stake. And
now I have lost it!-lost it to a sharper! But if he has robbed me, he will scarce live to enjoy the spoil."
And with a strange savage laugh he sat down, and relapsed into silence. But his thoughts were too maddening to allow him to remain long tranquil.
Something must be done!" he cried, getting up, distractedly; "but what-what? To-morrow, the wreck of my property will be seized, and I shall be thrown into prison by Solomons. But I can fly the night is before me. To fly, I must have the means of flight-and how procure them? Is there nothing here I can carry off-my pictures are gone-my plate-all my valuables -except-ha! the jewels Angelica brought from Saint-John! -They are left-they will save me. The necklace alone cost three hundred pounds; but supposing it fetches a third of the sum, I can contrive to exist upon it till something turns up. Money is to be had from France. Ha! ha! I am not utterly lost. I shall retire for a time, only to appear again with new splendour."
Full of these thoughts he proceeded to a small cabinet standing near the bed, and opening it, took out a case, which he unfastened. It was empty.
"The jewels are gone!-she has robbed me!" he exclaimed. "Perdition seize her! My last hope is annihilated!"
Transported with fury and despair, he lost all command of himself, and taking down a pistol, which hung near the bed, he held it to his temples, and was about to pull the trigger, when Bimbelot, who had been on the watch for some minutes, rushed forward, and entreated him to stay his hand.
"I know that you are ruined, monseigneur," cried the valet; "but it will not mend the matter to kill yourself."
"Fool!" exclaimed the marquis, furiously-"but for your stupid interference all my troubles would have been over by this time. What should I live for?"
"In the hope of better days," returned Bimbelot. may cease frowning upon you, and put on her former smiles." "No-no, the jade has deserted me for ever," cried the marquis. "I shall not struggle longer. I am sick of life! Leave me."
"Only postpone your resolution till to-morrow, monseigneur, and I'm persuaded you will think better of it," urged Bimbelot; "if not, the same remedy is at hand."
"Well,” replied Guiscard, putting down the pistol, "I will wait till to-morrow, if only to settle accounts with my faithless
"Better leave her to settle them herself," replied Bimbelot. "If monseigneur would be advised by me, he would quit this house for a short time, and live in retirement, till means can be devised of pacifying his creditors.
"You awaken new hope within my breast, my faithful fellow," replied Guiscard; "I will go this very morning before any one is astir, and accompany me."