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tenay and his faithful and attached James Chudleigh in opposite ranks, in deadly strife against each other—Courtenay for the King; Chudleigh for the Parliament.
"So miserable, so unnatural, does the possibility of such a state of things appear to me, that, were it consistent with the duty I owe to my own character, rather than risk the probability of such an encounter I would gladly linger out all my days here in exile. But I fear I cannot much longer keep the neutral ground of absence—and serve the King again I cannot; indeed I cannot; my convictions now compelling me to take another course. Yet, I repeat it, I must not forget what I owe to my father and my family, as the heir of an ancient and honourable house. I must not forget that Sir George Chudleigh would consider his son's sword as tarnished indeed did he suffer it to rust from indolence in his father's hall at a period when all men are imperatively called upon to decide according to their principles, and to rank themselves with the court, or with the people. There are moments, dear Courtenay, when to doubt is to betray; and such a crisis seems now to be at hand. Should it prove such, 1 must, on the first summons, attend my father in England. Few of us thought to what these measures would lead when the strife first began.
'Quod certaminibus ortum ultra metam dnrat.'
"But let us leave these sad chances to time and fate; and for the present talk rather of our own private affairs and feelings.
"You asked me, in your last letter, wherefore I did not visit Bome, when anxious to extend my journey for the reasons already named. My father applied to the Council at home to obtain leave for me to travel as far as the imperial city. But this was absolutely refused; and a prohibition laid on St. Omer also; both those cities being considered as especially favourable to the King of England at this juncture; and my father, not wishing to offend the leaders of the popular party, would by no entreaty of mine consent that I should follow my own inclinations contrary to their will. I determined, therefore, to rest here for the present, awaiting further commands from England.
"You stayed so short a time in this place, you can form no adequate idea of its real character; you cannot think how singular, how amusing is this volatile city; where the strangest opposition of personages and circumstances neighbour each other; where pride and meanness, wealth and misery, splendour and dirt, security and danger, are often lodged not only in the same quarter but in the same street, sometimes under the same roof. I verily believe not a day passes, certainly not a night goes over our heads, but a private assassination, or a public murder, is committed, with so much sang froid it surprises nobody; and, if the murdered be poor or friendless, very little inquiry is made about it.* You have heard, no doubt, of the danger of the Pont Neuf, where, not very long ago, the people here set up a tine brazen statue on horseback of their Henry the Fourth. Well, I have met with an adventure here which has a good deal annoyed me, as it was the means of my losing a packet of valuable papers, which I was entrusted to deliver, with all care and secresy, to certain parties on my expected return to England. And, as so many cautions were annexed to the charge, and so much mystery observed by the person who committed the packet to my hands, I cannot help fearing more may depend on its loss than I am aware of. To add to my vexation in the business, I was little more than a stranger to the English lady who so earnestly implored me to convey her precious charge to her native land; and, although I have taken every pains since its loss to find where she is, in order to apprize her of it, I have never yet been able to trace her, as she unfortunately quitted the lodgings in which I had seen her near the Court imme
* The frightful account of Paris and of the Pont Neuf here given is confirmed by several writers of the period, both French and English.
diately after committing her packet to my care. The following is the strange manner in which I sustained the loss of these papers.
"On the evening of the day I had received them, I proceeded to keep an engagement I had made to sup with some young gallants on the side of the Seine opposite the Louvre; but, not sufficiently heeding the reports I had heard of the danger of passing the bridge in darkness, I directed the laquais ( a Norman lad, new to the city) to attend me about midnight, with a torch only, and not with a glaivesman; as I proposed to return after supper to my lodgings near the Court. The boy came at the time named, and bore his torch merrily before me, talking (for here it is one prime duty of a page to find matter of small talk for the ears of his master) and telling me some new piece of gossip about the Cardinal.
"All was quiet enough as we advanced; and the thought crossed me of how different was the silence and darkness of Paris at night to the light and security afforded to our good city of London by the watch, who, with their lanterns in one hand, and their bills in the other, cry the hour as every parish clock strikes it, all the night long.
"My lad (who is one of whom it may be said he belongs ni a Dieu ni au Diable, but is a sort of demi spirit, hovering between both, having in him as much of heaven's grace as to make him go to mass, and wish to obtain it, and, nevertheless, quite enough of allegiance to the dark enemy to make him do his work of mischief with a right good will), my lad was, with more pertness than reverence, prattling about some light tale, when what should we hear but the clash of swords on the bridge, towards the centre of which we were advancing.
"The lad's courage lay in his heels; he was for using them, and proposed the same thing to me. I refused. 'On, you dog;' said I. 'Know you not that you serve an Englishman!' So I drew, and he next proposed to dowse out the light. 'What for?' said I. 'That we pass unseen; and, if there be robbers on the bridge, they may fancy, by our having no torch, that we are one of their number.'
"' Out upon you for a devil's imp !' said I; 'do you think that in darkness or in light I will pass for a rogue in this city? Go on, and let us take our chance.'
"On we went, my lad muttering something that might have been, for aught I know to the contrary, an invocation to all the saints for protection. Presently we saw, by looking under the torch, a couple of fellows with pistols in their hands, ready cocked. They came directly up to me. 'Monsieur,' said one of them, very civilly in French,' will you do me the honour to read over this proclamation ; its contents are of importance to us both.'
"I took the paper from the fellow's hand, and, no sooner had I done so, than with the mouth of his pistol pointed towards me he came close up on one side, his companion on the other, and a couple more, hitherto unseen, advanced; so that I had now four ruffians to deal with. They completely surrounded me. There was no mistaking their function; I saw their faces, brutal and ferocious they were too; and the scoundrels, I thought, smelt of their gunpowder trade.
"However, they offered me no violence, but said, 'Read, read !' and to the boy, ' Hold up thy torch.' I then read their paper. The contents were to the effect that a proclamation had been made by the brigands of Paris that all who thought proper to pass the Pont Neuf after dark, and to walk before the statue of King Henry the Great with their hats on their heads, must forfeit both hats and cloaks to the gentlemen abovenamed, the self-constituted watch of the respect due to his Majesty's figure. And so, without more ado, the moment I had finished reading the paper, one fellow plucked off my hat, another snatched at my cloak, a third asked for my purse, which I was obliged to yield, whilst the fourth held the mouth of the pistol still pointed at my head, and spoke ver a word. You will not wonder when I tell you, that in this active assault I was rifled of the packet committed to my charge; though I confess at the moment I forgot I had it about me, so greatly was I amazed, and indeed amused, by the nature and the daring impudence of the transaction.
"On my wishing to retain my bonnet, the thieves told me it could not be; and that they had the honour a few evenings before to disencumber one of his present Majesty's secretaries of the covering of his head on the same occasion. Then, adding they would see me safe over the bridge, they bid my lad (who stood trembling with his teeth chattering all the time this scene passed) lead on with the torch; nor did they quit me till I had fairly passed their station. At length, wishing me a good night, they disappeared with their booty, and left me in no very dignified plight to walk home en cuerpo, consoling myself with the recollection that I was not the first Englishman who had been so served; and that one of our ambassadors had sustained a much greater disgrace when he was thus used by three men instead of four. But the loss of the packet, a thing committed to my trust, and with no means of informing the owner of the loss—there was the vexation!
"And now, let me name a subject in which I feel a warm interest, as it is one that so nearly concerns yourself. My father informs me that some great change has taken place in your situation and prospects: that you have recently taken up your abode, as your present and future home, under the roof of your godmother, Lady Howard, at her mansion of Walreddon, in Devonshire.
"Now this is what I cannot comprehend. Well do I know that you are the favourite and the godson, nay, almost the adopted son, of your sponsor, Lady Howard. But then, I hear also, she is a woman of a character so eccentric, in many respects so little congenial to your own, that I cannot reconcile it to my ideas of the 1 "Tnfort of either party, that you should live