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be detained, and repaired to Mr. Saint-John, by whom a warrant was issued for the marquis's arrest.
Three queen's messengers were then sent in search of the offender. By good fortune they found him in Saint James's Park, and before he could offer any resistance, secured and disarmed him. The marquis besought them to kill him on the spot, but, turning a deaf ear to his entreaties, they conveyed him to the Cock Pit, where he was placed in a room adjoining Mr. SaintJohn's office. His clothes were then carefully searched, and everything taken from him; but the scrutiny was scarcely concluded, when he contrived, unperceived, to possess himself of a penknife which chanced to be lying on a desk near him, and to slip it into his sleeve. Possessed of this
Possessed of this weapon all his audacity and confidence returned to him, and he awaited his approaching examination with apparent unconcern.
Meanwhile, the news of Guiscard's capture was conveyed to Harley, and shortly afterwards, a privy council, consisting of himself, Mr. Saint-John, Sir Simon Harcourt, the Earl of Rochester, the Dukes of Newcastle, Ormond, and Queensbury, together with Lords Dartmouth and Poulet, assembled in the secretary's room at the Cock Pit. The chamber in which the meeting was held was plainly furnished, containing merely a large table covered with green cloth, round which a number of chairs were set, and a small side-table for the under-secretaries. The sole ornament of its walls was a full length portrait of the queen by Kneller.
Saint-John officiated as chairman. After a brief conference among the council, the prisoner was introduced. He looked pale as death, but maintained a stern and composed demeanour, and glanced haughtily and menacingly at Saint-John and Harley.
“ I am surprised and sorry to see you in this position, marquis,” observed the latter.
“ You may be sorry, but can scarely be surprised, sir," rejoined Guiscard.
“ How so?" demanded the other, sharply. “ Do you inean to infer
“ I infer nothing,” interrupted Guiscard; “ let the examination proceed.”
“ You are brought here, prisoner, charged with treason and leze majesté of the highest class,” said Saint-John.
“ By whom am I thus charged ?" asked Guiscard, impatiently.
“ No matter by whom,” rejoined the secretary. “You are accused of holding secret and treasonable correspondence with the court of France. How do you answer ?"
“ I deny it,” replied Guiscard, boldly.
“ The next allegation against you, prisoner, is one of the blackest dye,” pursued Saint-John:
* you are charged with threatening to take the life of our sovereign lady the queen to whom you, though a foreigner, are bound by the strongest ties of gratitude, for many favours conferred upon you."
“ Heaven forbid I should be capable of harbouring a thought against her majesty!” cried the marquis, fervently." I should indeed be a monster of ingratitude.”
At this asseveration, there was an irrepressible murmur of indignation among the council.
“I know the miscreant who has thus falsely accused me,” continued Guiscard. “ He is a man who served me as valet-a man of infamous and unscrupulous character and he has forged this story to obtain a reward from Mr. Harley."
“Let it pass for the present,” rejoined Saint-John. “I would now ask if you have any acquaintance with M. Moreau, a banker, at Paris ? and if you have held any communication with him lately?”
At the mention of his name, in spite of himself, Guiscard trembled.
“ I used to know such a person,” he replied ; " but I have had no correspondence with him for many years."
“ That is false !" replied Harley, producing the packet. “ Here are your letters to him, in which you make the most diabolical proposals to the French government.”
At the sight of the packet, a terrible change came over Guiscard. His limbs shook, and the damps gathered thickly on his brow.
“ It is useless to brave it out further, wretched man!” said Harley; "as some slight atonement of your offence, I recommend you to make a full confession.”
“ I will confess, Mr. Harley,” replied Guiscard, “and I may say more than you may care to have told. I beg to have a word in private with Mr. Saint-John.”
“ That is impossible,” rejoined the secretary. “You are here before the council as a criminal, and if you have anything to advance, it must be uttered before us all.”
“What I have to say is important to the state," urged Guiscard; “ but I will not utter it, except to yourself. You may make what use you please of it afterwards.”
" It cannot be,” replied Saint-John. “The request is unusual, and cannot be granted.”
“ You will repent your non-compliance with my wishes, Mr. Saint-John," said Guiscard.
“ This pertinacity is intolerable,” cried Saint-John, rising. “Let the messengers remove the prisoner,” he added to one of the under-secretaries.
“A moment-only one moment,” said Guiscard, approaching Harley, who had taken the seat just quitted by Saint-John. “ You will intercede with her majesty to spare my life, Mr. Harley. You were once my friend."
“ I can hold out little hope for you, prisoner,” replied Harley, sternly. “ The safety of the state requires that crimes of such magnitude as yours should not go unpunished.”
“ Where are the messengers ?” cried Saint-John, impatiently.
“Will you not endeavour to prove my innocence, Mr. Harley ?” said Guiscard, drawing close to him.
“How can I, with such damning evidences as these before me ?" cried Harley, pointing to the letters. “ Stand back, sir !" “Can nothing move you?” repeated Guiscard.
Nothing !" replied Harley. “ Then have at thee, thou blacker traitor than myself !” thundered Guiscard.
And plucking, the penknife suddenly from his sleeve, he plunged it into Harley's breast. The blade coming in contact with the bone, snapped near the handle; but unconscious of the accident, Guiscard repeated the blow with greater violence than before, exclaiming—“ This to thy heart, perfidious villain !"
The suddenness of the action for a moment paralysed the others. But recovering themselves, they sprang to Harley's assistance. Saint-John
was the first to attack the assassin, and passed his sword twice through his body, but though Guiscard received other wounds from the Duke of Newcastle, who, being seated at the lower end of the table, leapt upon it, and thus made his way to the scene of action, as well as from Lord Dartmouth, he did not fall. Some of the council nearest the marquis were so much alarmed by his infuriated appearance, that, fearing he might turn his rage upon them, they sought to protect themselves with chairs. Others shouted for help, while the Earl of Poulet called loudly to Saint-John and Newcastle not to kill the assassin, as it was most important to the ends of justice that his life should be preserved.
Amid this confusion the messengers and door-keepers rushed in, and threw themselves upon Guiscard, who, wounded as he was, defended himself with surprising vigour, and some minutes elapsed before they could overpower him. In the struggle he received many severe bruises, one of which chancing in the back, occasioned his death. While lying on the ground, and while the messengers were in the act of binding him, he addressed the Duke of Ormond, who stood near him, “ Is Harley dead? I thought I heard him fall."
“ No, villain ; he lives to balk your vindictive purpose," replied the duke.
Guiscard gnashed his teeth in impotent rage. “I pray your grace dispatch me!” he groaned.
“ That is the executioner's business, not mine,” replied the duke, turning away.
Nothing could exceed the calmness and composure exhibited by Harley on this trying occasion. Uncertain whether he had received a mortal wound, he held a handkerchief to his breast to stanch the blood, patiently awaiting the arrival of a surgeon, and conversing tranquilly with his friends, who crowded round him, expressing the most earnest solicitude.
And well might he be content, though he knew not then why. That blow made him lord treasurer and earl of Oxford.