Page images

have laid claim to divine extraction, without vour to preserve decorum, and polish wit, until running the risk of being claimed by any earthly the edge of it is quite wore off: or, perhaps, of father. Not that his parents had any reason to that class, who, in the sapience of taste, are disdisown or renounce their offspring, or that there gusted with those very flavours in the producwas any thing preternatural in the circumstances tions of their own country, which have yielded of his generation and birth ; on the contrary, he infinite delectation to their faculties, when imwas, from the beginning, a child of promising ported from another clime; and damn an auparts, and in due course of nature ushered into thor in despite of all precedent and prescripthe world amidst a whole cloud of witnesses: tion ;—who extol the writings of Petronius Arbut, that he was acknowledged by no mortal biter, read with rapture the amorous sallies of sire, solely proceeded from the uncertainty of his Ovid's pen, and chuckle over the story of Lumother, whose affections were so dissipated cian's ass ; yet, if a modern author presumes to among a number of admirers, that she could relate the progress of a simple intrigue, are never pitch upon the person from whose loins shocked at the indecency and immorality of the our hero sprung.

scene ;-who delight in following Guzman d’AlOver and above this important doubt, under farache through all the mazes of squalid begwhich he was begotten, other particularities at- gary; who with pleasure accompany Don Quixo tended his birth, and seemed to mark him out ote and his squire, in the lowest paths of foras something uncommon among the sons of men. tune; who are diverted with the adventures of He was brought forth in a waggon, and might Scarron's ragged troop of strollers, and highly be said to be literally a native of two different entertained with the servile situations of Gil countries ; for, though he first saw the light in Blas; yet, when a character in humble life ocHolland, he was not born till after the carriage casionally occurs in a performance of our own arrived in Flanders; so that, all these extraore growth, exclaim, with an air of disgust,“ Was dinary circumstances considered, the task of de- ever any thing so mean ! sure, this writer must termining to what government he naturally owed have been very conversant with the lowest scenes allegiance, would be at least as difficult as that of of life;"-who, when Swift or Pope represents a ascertaining the so-much-contested birth-place coxcomb in the act of swearing, scruple not to of Homer.

laugh at the ridiculous exécrations ; but, in a Certain it is, the Count's mother was an Eng- less reputed author, condemn the use of such lishwoman, who, after having been five times a profane expletives ;--who eagerly explore the widow in one campaign, was, in the last year of jakes of Rabelais fór amusement, and even èxthe renowned Marlborough's command, num tract humour from the dean's description of a bered among the baggage of the allied army, lady's dressing-room; yet, in a production of which she still accompanied, through pure be- these days, unstamped with such venerable nevolence of spirit, supplying the ranks with the names, will stop their noses, with all the signs refreshing streams of choice geneva, and accom- of loathing and abhorrence, at a bare mention of modating individuals with clean linen, as the the china chamber-pot ;-who applaud Catullus, emergency of their occasions required : nor was Juvenal, Persius, and Lucan, for their spirit in her philanthropy altogether confined to such lashing the greatest names of antiquity; yet, ministration ; she abounded with “ the milk of when a British satirist, of this generation, has human kindness," which flowed plentifully courage enough to call in question the talents of among her fellow-creatures ; and to every son of a pseudo-patron in power, accuse him of insoMars who cultivated her favour, she liberally lence, rancour, and scurrility. dispensed her smiles, in order to sweeten the If such you be, courteous reader, I say again, toils and dangers of the field.

have a little patience; for your entertainment And here it will not be amiss to anticipate the we are about to write. Our hero shall, with all remarks of the reader, who, in the chastity and convenient despatch, be gradually sublimed into excellency of his conception, may possibly ex- those splendid connexions of which you are claim, " Good Heavens ! will these authors never enamoured ; and God forbid, that, in the mean reform their imaginations, and lift their ideas time, the nature of his extraction should turn to from the obscene objects of low life ? Must the his prejudice, in a land of freedom like this, public be again disgusted with the grovelling where individuals are every day ennobled in adventures of a waggon? Will no writer of ge- consequence of their own qualifications, without nius draw his pen in the vindication of taste, the least retrospective regard to the rank or meand entertain us with the agreeable characters, rit of their ancestors. Yes, refined reader, we the dignified conversation, the poignant repar- are hastening to that goal of perfection, where tee, in short, the genteel comedy of the polite satire dares not shew her face; where nature is world?"

castigated, almost even to still life ; where huHave a little patience, gentle, delicate, sublime mour turns changeling, and slavers in an insipid critic; you, I doubt not, are one of those con- grin; where wit is volatilized into a mere vasummate connoisseurs, who, in their purifica- pour ; where decency, divested of all substance, tions, let humour evaporate, while they endea- hovers about like a fantastic shadow ; where the

salt of genius, escaping, leaves nothing but pure having been performed as asual at the drumand simple phlegm; and the inoffensive pen fore head. The lady had no sooner taken possession ever drops the mild manna of soul-sweetening of her new name, than she bestowed it upon her praise.

son, who was thenceforward distinguished by the appellation of Ferdinand de Fadom ; nor

was the husband offended at this presumption in CHAP. II.

his wife, which he not only considered as a proof

of her affection and esteem, but also as a comA superficial view of our Hero's infancy. pliment, by which he might in time acquire the

credit of being the real father of such an hopeHaving thus bespoken the indulgence of our ful child. guests, let us now produce the particulars of our Notwithstanding this new engagement with a entertainment, and speedily conduct our adven- foreigner, our hero's mother still exercised the turer through the stage of infancy, which seldom virtues of her calling among the English troops, teems with interesting incidents.

so much was she biassed by that laudable parAs the occupations of his mother would not tiality, which, as Horace observes, the natale conveniently permit her to suckle this her first- solum generally inspires: indeed this inclination born at her own breast, and those happy ages was enforced by another reason, that did not fail were now no more, in which the charge of nurse to influence her conduct in this particular; all ing a child might be left to the next goat or she- her knowledge of the high Dutch language conwolf, she resolved to improve upon the ordinan- sisted in some words of traffic absolutely necesces of nature, and foster him with a juice much sary for the practice of her vocation, together more energic than the milk of goat, wolf, or with sundry oaths and terms of reproach, that woman; this was no other than that delicious kept her customers in awe; so that, except nectar, which, as we have already hinted, she so among her own countrymen, she could not incordially distributed from a small cask that hung dulge that propensity to conversation, for which before her, depending from her shoulders by å she had been remarkable from her earliest years. leathern zone. Thus determined, ere he was Nor did this instance of her affection fail of yet twelve days old, she enclosed him in a can- turning to her account in the sequel : she was vass knapsack, which, being adjusted to her neck, promoted to the office of cook to a regimental fell down upon her back, and balanced the cargo mess of officers; and, before the peace of Utrech, that rested on her bosom.

was actually in possession of a suttling-tent, There are not wanting those who affirm, that, pitched for the accommodation of the gentlemen while her double charge was carried about in in the army. this situation, her cag was furnished with a long Meanwhile, Ferdinand improved apace in the and slender flexible tube, which, when the child accomplishments of infancy; his beauty was began to be clamorous, she conveyed into his conspicuous, and his vigour so uncommon, that mouth, and strait he stilled himself with suck- he was with justice likened unto Hercules in ing ; but this we consider as an extravagant as the cradle: the friends of his father-in-law sertion of those who mix the marvellous in all dandled him on their knees, while he played their narrations, because we cannot conceive how with their whiskers, and before he was thirteen the tender organs of an infant could digest such months old, taught him to suck brandy imprega fiery beverage, which never fails to discompose nated with gunpowder, through the touch-hole the constitutions of the most hardy and robust: of a pistol. At the same time, he was caressed we therefore conclude, that the use of this po- by divers serjeants of the British army, who see tation was more restrained, and that it was with verally and in secret contemplated his qualificasimple element diluted into a composition adapt- tions with a father's pride, excited by the artful ed to his taste and years. Be this as it will, he declaration with which the mother had flattered certainly was indulged in the use of it to such a each apart. degree as would have effectually obstructed his Soon as the war was (for her unhappily) confuture fortune, had not he been happily cloyed cluded, she, as in duty bound, followed her huswith the repetition of the same fare, for which band into Bohemia ; and his regiment being sent he conceived the utmost detestation and abhore into garrison at Prague, she opened a cabaret in rence, rejecting it with loathing and disgust, like that city, which was frequented by a good many those choice spirits, who, having been crammed guests of the Scotch and Irish nations, who were with religion in their childhood, renounce it in devoted to the exercise of arms in the service of their youth, among other absurd prejudices of the emperor. It was by this communication education.

that the English tongue became vernacular to While he thus dangled in a state of suspen- young Ferdinand, who, without such opportusion, a German trooper was transiently smit with nity, would have been a stranger to the language the charms of his mother, who listened to his of his forefathers, in spite of all his mother's honourable addresses, and once more received loquacity and elocution :-though it must he the silken bonds of matrimony; the ceremony owned, for the credit of her maternal care, that

[ocr errors]

she let slip no occasion of making it familiar of an imperial officer, who lay bleeding on the to his ear and conception ; for, even at those in- plain, to all appearance in the agonies of death. tervals in which she could find no person to care She could not, in her heart, refuse that fary on the altercation, she used to hold forth in vour to a friend and Christian, she had so comearnest soliloquies upon the subject of her own passionately bestowed upon so many enemies situation, giving vent to many opprobrious in- and infidels, and therefore drew near with the vectives against her husband's country, between sovereign remedy, which she had already adwhich and Old England she drew many odi- ministered with such success. As she approachous comparisons; and prayed, without ceasing, ed this deplorable object of pity, her ears were that Europe might speedily be involved in a surprised with an ejaculation in the English general war, so as that she might have some tongue, which he fervently pronounced, though chance of re-enjoying the pleasures and emolu- with a weak and languid voice, recommending ments of a Flanders campaign.

his soul to God, and his family to the protection

of Heaven. Our amazon's purpose was staggerCHAP. III.

ed by this providential incident; the sound of her native language, so unexpectedly heard, and

so pathetically delivered, had a surprising effect He is initiated in a military life, and has the upon her imagination; and the faculty of regood fortune to acquire a generous Patron. flection did not forsake her in such an emera

gency: though she could not recollect the feaWhile she wearied Heaven with these petis tures of this unhappy officer, she concluded, tions, the flame of war broke out betwixt the from his appearance, that he was some person houses of Ottoman and Austria, and the em- of distinction in the service, and foresaw greater peror sent forth an army into Hungary, under advantage to herself in attempting to preserve ihe auspices of the renowned Prince Eugene. his life, than she could possibly reap from the On account of this expedition, the mother of execution of her first resolve. If,” said she our hero gave up housekeeping, and cheerfully to herself, “ I can find means of conveying him followed her customers and husband into the to his tent alive, he cannot but in conscience field; having first provided herself with store acknowledge my humanity with some considerof those commodities, in which she had former- able recompence; and should he chance to surly merchandized. Although the hope of profit vive his wounds, I have every thing to expect might in some measure affect her determina- from his gratitude and power.' tion, one of the chief motives for her visiting Fraught with these prudential suggestions, the frontiers of Turkey, was the desire of initiat- she drew near the unfortunate stranger, and, in ing her son in the rudiments of his education, a softened accent of pity and condolence, queswhich she now thought high time to inculcate, tioned him concerning his name, condition, and he being, at this period, in the sixth year of his the nature of his mischance, at the same time age; he was accordingly conducted to the camp, making a gentle tender of her service. Agreewhich she considered as the most consummate ably surprised to hear himself accosted in such school of life, and proposed for the scene of his a manner, by a person whose equipage seemed instruction ; and in this academy he had not to promise far other designs, he thanked her in continued many weeks, when he was an eye- the most grateful terms for her humanity, with witness of that famous victory, which, with the appellation of kind countrywoman; gave sixty thousand men, the imperial general ob- her to understand that he was colonel of a regitained over an army of one hundred and fifty ment of horse; that he had fallen in consethousand Turks.

quence of a shot he received in his breast at the His father-in-law was engaged, and his mo- beginning of the action; and finally entreated ther would not be idle on this occasion : she her to procure some carriage on which he might was a perfect mistress of all the camp qualifica- be removed to his tent. Perceiving him faint tions, and thought it a duty incumbent on her and exhausted with the loss of blood, she raised to contribute all that lay in her power towards up his head, and treated him with that cordial distressing the enemy: with these sentiments, which was her constant companion : at that inshe hovered about the skirts of the army, and stant, espying a small body of hussars returning the troops were no sooner employed in the pure to the camp with the plunder they had taken, she suit, than she began to traverse the field of invoked their assistance, and they forth with carbattle with a poniard and a bag, in order to ried the officer to his own quarters, where his consult her own interest, annoy the foe, and ex- wound was dressed, and his preserver carefully ercise her humanity at the same time. In short, tended him until his recovery was completed. she had, with amazing prowess, delivered some In return for these good offices, this gentlefifty or threescore disabled mussulmen of the man, who was originally of Scotland, rewarded pain under which they groaned, and made a her for the present, with great liberality; ascomfortable booty of the spoils of the slain, sured her of his influence in promoting her huswhen her eyes were attracted by the rich attire band, and took upon himself the charge of young Ferdinand's education; the boy was im- to the cause which she espoused ; and in their mediately taken into his protection, and entered march to battle, actually encouraged the ranks as a trooper in his own regiment; but his good with repeated declarations, importing, that she intentions towards his father-in-law were frus, had been eye-witness of ten decisive engagements, trated by the death of the German, who, in a in all of which her friends had been victorious, few days after this disposition, was shot in the and imputing such uncommon good fortune to trenches before Temiswaer.

some supernatural quality inherent in her perThis event, over and above the conjugal af- son. fliction with which it invaded the lady's quiet, Whether or not this confidence contributed would have involved her in infinite difficulty to the fortune of the day, by inspiring the soland distress, with regard to her temporal con- diers to an uncommon pitch of courage and recerns, by leaving her unprotected in the midst solution, I shall not pretend to determine : but, of strangers, had not she been thus providen- certain it is, the victory began from that quartially supplied with an effectual patron in the ter in which she had posted herself; and no colonel, who was known by the appellation of corps in the army behaved with such intrepidiCount Melvil. He no sooner saw her, by the ty as that which was manifested by those who death of her husband, detached from all pere were favoured with her admonitions and exsonal connexions with a military life, than he ample ; for she not only exposed her person to proposed that she should quit her occupation in the enemy's fire, with the indifference and dethe camp, and retire to his habitation in the liberation of a veteran, but she is said to have city of Presburg, where she would be entertaine achieved a very conspicuous exploit by the ed in ease and plenty, during the remaining prowess of her single arm; the extremity of part of her natural life: with all due acknow the line to which she had attached herself, beledgments of his generosity, she begged to be ing assaulted in flank by a body of the spahis, excused from embracing his proposal, alleging wheeled about, in order to sustain the charge, she was so much accustomed to her present way and received them with such a seasonable fire, of life, and so much devoted to the service of as brought a great number of turbans to the the soldiery, that she should never be happy in ground; among those who fell was one of the retirement, while the troops of any prince in chiefs, or agas, who had advanced before the Christendom kept the field.

rest, with a view to signalize his valour. The Count, finding her determined to prosecute Our English Penthesilea no sooner saw this ber scheme, repeated his promise of befriending Turkish leader drop, than, struck with the maga her upon all occasions; and in the mean time nificence of his own and horse's trappings, she admitted Ferdinand into the namber of his do- sprung forward to seize them as her prize, and mesties, resolving that he should be brought up found

the aga not dead, though in a good meain attendance upon his own son, who was a boy sure disabled by his misfortune, which was enof the same age. He kept him, however, in his tirely owing to the weight of his horse, that, tent, until he should have an opportunity of rea having been killed by a musket-ball, lay upon visiting his family in person ; and before that his leg, so that he could not disengage himself. occasion offered, two whole years elapsed, dur. Nevertheless, perceiving the virago approach ing which the illustrious Prince Eugene gained with fell intent, he brandished his scymitar, the celebrated battle of Belgrade, and afterwards and tried to intimidate his assailant with a most maile himself master of that important frontier. horrible exclamation ; but it was not the dismal

yell of a dismounted cavalier, though enforced CHAP. IV.

with a hideous ferocity of countenance, and the menacing gestures with which he waited her

approach, that could intimidate such an unHis Mother's prowess and death ; together with daunted she-campaigner ; she saw him writhing some instances of his own sagacity. in the agonies of a situation from which he

could not move; and, running towards him It would have been impossible for the mother with the nimbleness and intrepidity of a Caof our adventurer, such as she hath been describe milla, described a semicircle in the progress of ed, to sit quietly in her tent, while such an her assault, and, attacking him on one side, heroic scene was acting. She was no sooner plunged her well-tried dagger in his throat: apprised of the general's intention to attack the the shades of death encompassed him, his lifeenemy, than she, as usual, packed up her move blood issued at the wound, he fell prone upon ables in a waggon, which she committed to the the earth, he bit the dust, and having thrice incare of a peasant in the neighbourhood, and put voked the name of Allah! straight expired. herself in motion with the troops ; big with the While his destiny was thus fulfilled, his folexpectation of re-acting that part in which she lowers began to reel; they seemed dismayed at had formerly acquitted herself so much to her the fate of their chief, beheld their companions advantage.- Nay, she by this time looked upon drop like the leaves in autumn, and suddenly her own presence as a certain omen of success halted in the midst of their career. The ims

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

perialists, observing the confusion of the enemy, Thalestris, or any boasted heroine of ancient redoubled their fire; and, raising a dreadful times. It cannot be supposed that this catasshout, advanced in order to improve the ad- trophe made a very deep impression upon the vantage they had gained: the spahis durst not mind of young Ferdinand, who had just then wait the shock of such an encounter ; they attained the ninth year of his age, and been for wheeled to the right about, and, clapping spurs a considerable time weaned from her maternal to their horses, fled in the utmost disorder. caresses; especially, as he felt no wants nor This was actually the circumstance that turned grievances in the family of the count, who fathe scale of battle: the Austrians pursued voured him with a particular share of indultheir good fortune with uncoinmon impetuosi- gence, because he perceived in him a spirit of ty, and in a few minutes left the field clear for docility, insinuation, and sagacity, far above his the mother of our hero, who was such an adept years. He did not, however, fail to lament the in the art of stripping, that in the twinkling of untimely fate of his mother, with such filial exan eye the bodies of the aga and his Arabian pressions of sorrow, as still more intimately relay naked to the skin. It would have been commended him to his patron ; who, being himhappy for her, had she been contented with self a man of extraordinary benevolence, looked these first-fruits, reaped from the fortune of the upon the boy as a prodigy of natural affection, day, and retired with her spoils, which were and foresaw in his future services a fund of granot inconsiderable ; but, intoxicated with the titude and attachment, that could not fail to glory she had won, enticed by the glittering ca- render him a valuable acquisition to his family. parisons that lay scattered on the plain, and In his own country he had often seen conwithout doubt prompted by the secret instinct nexions of that sort, which, having been planted of her fate, she resolved to seize opportunity by in the infancy of the adherent, had grown up to the forelock, and once for all indemnify herself a surprising pitch of fidelity and friendship, for the many fatigues, hazards, and sorrows she that no temptation could bias, and no danger had undergone.

dissolve. He therefore rejoiced in the hope of Thus determined, she reconnoitred the field, seeing his own son accommodated with such a and practised her address so successfully, that faithful attendant, in the person of young Fain less than half an hour she was loaded with thom, on whom he resolved to bestow the same ermine and embroidery, and disposed to retreat education he had planned for the other, though with her burden, when her regards were soli- conveyed in such a manner as should be suitable cited by a splendid bundle, which she descried to the sphere in which he was ordained to move. at some distance lying on the ground. This In consequence of these determinations, our was no other than an unhappy officer of the young adventurer led a very easy life, in quality hussars ; who, after having had the good for- of page to the count, in whose tent he lay upon tune to take a Turkish standard, was desperate a pallet, close to his field-bed, and often divertly wounded in the thigh, and obliged to quit ed him with his childish prattle in the English his horse ; finding himself in such an helpless tongue, which the more seldom his master had condition, he had wrapt his acquisition round occasion to speak, he the more delighted to hear. his body, that whatever might happen, he and In the exercise of his function, the boy was inhis glory should not be parted; and thus credibly assiduous and alert; far from neglectshrouded among the dying and the dead, he ing the little particulars of his duty, and emhad observed the progress of our heroine, barking in the mischievous amusements of the who stalked about the field, like another Atro- children belonging to the camp, he was always pos, finishing, wherever she came, the work of diligent, sedate, agreeably officious, and anticideath : he did not at all doubt, that he him- pating ; and in the whole of his behaviour seemself would be visited in the course of her pere- ed to express the most vigilant sense of his pagrinations, and therefore provided for her re- tron's goodness and generosity: nay, to such a ception, with a pistol ready cocked in his hand, degree had these sentiments, in all appearance, while he lay perdue beneath his covert, in all operated upon his reflection, that one morning, appearance bereft of life. He was not deceived while he supposed the count asleep, he crept in his prognostic; she no sooner eyed the gold- softly to his bed-side, and, gently kissing his en crescent, than, inflamed with curiosity or hand, which happened to be uncovered, procupidity, she directed thitherward her steps, nounced, in a low voice, a most fervent prayer and discerning the carcass of a man, from in his behalf, beseeching Heaven to shower which, she thought, there would be a necessity down blessings upon him, as the widow's friend for disengaging it, she lifted up her weapon, in and the orphan's father : this benediction was order to make sure of her purchase ; and in the not lost upon the Count, who chanced to be very instant of discharging her blow, received a awake, and heard it with admiration ; but what brace of bullets in her brain.

rivetted Ferdinand in his good graces, was a Thus ended the mortal pilgrimage of this discovery that our youth made, while his masmodern amazon ; who, in point of courage, was ter was upon duty in the trenches before Bele not inferior to Semiramis, Tomyris, Zenobia, grade.

« PreviousContinue »