| ||The Banished Man. Volume 1 of 2|
"I'm English born, and love a grumbling noise."
IN the capital of Bohemia the three wanderers remained no longer than was necessary to refresh themselves after the fatigues they had passed, and to enable them to undertake those which were to come in their way to Dresden. De Touranges, whose sufferings were of that sort for which time itself can apply no remedy, was, during these few days, in a state of mind that gave the greatest concern to his two friends; and the Abbé de St. Remi hardly ever left him so apprehensive was he that his fortitude would yield to his despair; while D'Alonville, either from his milder disposition, or because he knew the worst that could, as an individual, befal him, bore his misfortunes with greater calmness, and applied himself to soothe his more unhappy friend. Yet could he not offer hope he did not himself feel; and was conscious in this case of the inefficacy of all those common topics of consolation which are so generally dwelt upon, but of so little use in alleviating real affection.
There were many French arrived at Prague before them, and some who had left France very lately. The accounts these persons gave of the situation of affairs at Paris, their conjectures and apprehensions, were by no means calculated to appease the solicitude that tortured De Touranges. He fled, therefore, as much as possible from their society, and seemed relieved when with his two friends he again set forward on his journey.
Though no complaint escaped him, it was easy to see that the Abbé de St. Remi had suffered very much from the fatigue of travelling the greater part of the way on horseback between Vienna and Prague; D'Alonville, therefore, who already entertained the sincerest esteem for that excellent man, took some pains to procure for him a more commodious conveyance; and at length found a man who engaged to carry two persons and part of the baggage of the whole party to Dresden, in a kind of cabriolet, drawn by two horses, which he was to drive himself. For his own conveyance D'Alonville hired an horse of the same person, and another for De Touranges' servant. Matters being thus arranged, they left Prague five days after their arrival there.
From the time when the retreat of the combined armies from Champaign, had given so fatal a blow to the hopes of the French royalists, until the present hour, D'Alonville had been so much agitated by solicitude, or overwhelmed by sorrow; so continually suffering in his own person, or for those he loved, that he had never had time to look back on past events with coolness, or steadily to contemplate the prospect before him; but now, as slowly, and often at a distance, he followed the carriage in which his friends were seated, through the deep sands, and over the mountainous forests of Bohemia, the dreary stillness of every thing around him, the heavy gloom of a December sky, and the dark solemnity of the woods of fir through which the road often lay for many miles together, were united to produce reflection, retrospection, and regret.
His thoughts naturally reverted to those happy days of which fortune, rank, youth, and
health, flattered him with a long continuance; when his father considered him with affectionate pride, as the second hope and support of a noble house; and beheld with exultation the world around him, eager to do justice to the early promise of merit in a beloved son. He could not but recollect many scenes of former felicity, which were passed for ever; a few months only had elapsed, and now, without any fault of his own, he was an exile, and in comparison of his former situation, a beggar, wandering in the woods of Bohemia, without any certain purpose, and by no means assured of what he was to expect at the end of his journey, or indeed where that journey was to end.
In mournful contrast to the brilliant prospects of his youth, the miseries that had been crowded into the short space of two years, and particularly those that had marked the two last months, recurred to him in all their horrors. The defection of his brother, and the anguish it inflicted on the Viscount de Fayolles; the precipitate journey his father had made to the frontiers to join the Austrian and Prussian armies; their retreat, and all the horrors that followed it; the dreadful nights he passed between the time that his father was wounded, and his deplorable death; the castle of Rosenheim, and its inhabitants; their eventful journey to Coblentz, and his return to Rosenheim; with his subsequent mortifying disappointment in being dismissed from the friendship of the Rosenheim family, through the infamous arts of Heurthofen, all passed through his mind as an uneasy and distressing dream is recalled after a restless night; but with this melancholy difference, that all these events, which a little time before would, if they could have been prophesied, have appeared more improbable
than the wildest fiction of a disordered imagination, were now too real; and, while to look back was thus afflicting, the future was hid in hideous obscurity. What had happened, had so baffled every conjecture that might from experience or analogy have been made on the probable courses of human events, that the most sanguine mind could distinguish, in what was to come, nothing on which it might rest with hope. The most timid could hardly be accused of yielding too much to fear.
Lost in these contemplations, D'Alonville often lingered behind his friends, and arrived at the places where they stopped, some time after them. As the same horses were to draw them all the way to Dresden, and the man to whom they belonged had bargained that he was to take his own time, they were to be four days in reaching that town from Prague, though it is not much above seventy English miles. On the third of these days D'Alonville had walked with his two friends up a steep ascent in order to relieve the horses. The Marquis and the Abbé had again entered their chaise, and were descending on the other side, where D'Alonville rather chose to walk, as his horse was fatigued, and the road slippery from sleet which was still falling; when arriving at an angle which had before concealed the road from him, he saw a past chaise which, in descending also, appeared to have been overturned by the fall of one of the horses; and two strangers and their servants were endeavouring to get the horse up. D'Alonville saw the cabriole in which his friends were, stop, and the Abbé de St. Remi was already out of it, to lend what assistance he could to the travellers. He hastened on himself as fast as the road would allow; and when he came near the carriages tied his horse to a
tree and went forward to offer his services to the gentlemen, whom he now learned from a servant who could speak French, were Englishmen, travelling in their own chaise with post horses to Dresden, on their way through Germany from Italy to England. These gentlemen, one of whom appeared younger than the other, though neither of them were above six or seven and twenty, were employed in disengaging the suffering animal, who had in failing dragged the chaise over him, broke the shaft, and seemed to be stunned if not killed by the violence of the fall. D'Alonville understood, and could speak a little English; and while he lent what help seemed in his power, he could not avoid remarking how differently the two travellers proceeded. He who appeared the eldest of them, in every strong term which the English language so copiously affords, cursed all foreign postillions, post horses, and post masters. He swore that on the whole Continent there was not one of any sort of these worth a damn; and that a man had better go to the devil at once, than put himself in the way of having any thing to do with such hellish cattle and such infernal scoundrels. All this eloquence was entirely lost on the German postillion, who, without moving a muscle of his broad face, and with his short pipe still in his mouth, had very calmly taken off the other horses, fastened them to a tree, and now began with equal composure to unbuckle, untie, and unstrap the intricacies of the harness, entangled around the fallen horse; intricacies of which he alone was probably master. The furious gentleman was for cutting them without hesitation; and his companion seemed only solicitous to deliver the poor animal as immediately as possible from the painful situation in which he lay, to which the vio-
lence and noise of his friend seemed by no means likely to contribute. An English servant, under the directions of the former gentleman, appeared to act with the most intelligence, while an Italian valet stood aghast, and without undertaking to help or to advise himself, seemed to be addressing his favorite Saint for assistance; till a volley of oaths from the other Englishman, who called him a macaroni son of a b—h, and asked him what he stood quivering there for; roused him from his pious appeal; and though he did not understand the force of the exhortation, urged him to spring forward. But here again he was wrong—and for this misapplied zeal received only a repulse—"Why you landsided rascal, get out of the way, and be cursed to you. Don't you see that here are more already than do any good? Come, you Monsieur, (addressing himself to the Marquis's servant) here, lend us a lift on this side.—Pooh! damn it, not so—here, this way.—I'll be cursed if he or any of his countrymen, know the head of a horse from the tail!" By this time the horse was so far released that he could have got up had he been able; but it appeared he was so much hurt that he could not rise, and was at all events disqualified from proceeding. There were three, however, left, which were sufficient to take the carriage to the next post-house; but much yet remained to do before it could move. The shaft was to be spliced, and one of the wheels damaged in the fall to he put in a condition to perform the rest of the journey. "Dire were the oaths and deep the cursings" from the mouth of the apparently irritable Englishman, before this could be accomplished. And, notwithstanding the discouragement of his rough manners, for which his friend repeatedly apologized to D'Alon-
ville, and to the Abbé de St. Remi, in French as soon as he found that one of them understood English, they both stayed and lent every possible assistance till the vehicle was put in a condition to proceed with safety. The Abbé, who from his age and character might well have executed himself from taking any trouble at all, where there were so many others, then slightly touched his hat and returned to his own chaise, where the Marquis de Touranges, who did not believe his interference necessary, and who had formed no very favorable ideas of the travellers, from what little he understood of the conversation of one of them, had remained a quiet spectator of the bustle; and was indeed in a few moments after it began so entirely absorbed in his own sad reflections, that nothing but the loud voice and furious oaths of one of the strangers could have made the least impression upon him. When the Abbé however returned to take his seat by him, the younger of the two Englishmen followed him, and in polite term renewed his acknowledgments. The Abbé in return, assured him he was glad he had been of any service, and wished him a good journey. The cabriole then proceeded, and De Touranges said, "one is surprized to hear French, and even good French, if it were not for the vile accent it is spoken with, from the mouth of those half-savages."
"Who do you qualify," enquired the Abbé "with the name of half-savages?"
"Those Englishmen," replied De Touranges.
"And why so?" enquired St. Remi.
"Because I can consider them no otherwise," answered the Marquis.
"I think you wrong, however," replied the Abbé. "I know no nation of Europe more
enlightened, more respectable, at least so they appear to me, even from the little I know of them, by the translations we have of their best authors; for thought I read English, it is hardly fluently enough to enable me to enjoy them in the original."
"You might as well judge of the wit of the Spaniards from a French version of Don Quixote. The Spaniards, however, have as little of what is properly called wit, as the English of any kind of genius. As to the latter, they are a nation to whom we owe almost all the evils that war has brought upon France; and the greatest of all evils, that which has now destroyed her."
De Touranges the sunk into one of his mournful reveries; and though the Abbé undertook to defend the nation for whom he pleaded from the imputation, and proceeded with equal reason, eloquence, and method; the dialogue became a monologue, for de Touranges had ceased to listen, and gave no other answer, than that he thought the English a proud, ferocious, and hardly civilized people; and that the man they had lately seen was a just specimen of the nation.
While the unfortunate de Touranges was thus indulging national prejudice, roused and embittered by peculiar calamity, D'Alonville remained in conversation with the two English gentlemen, though only by one of them he could make himself understood in his own language, for the elder, whose name was Melton, could speak no language but English, though he was now on his return from the tour of Europe. His friend, however, informed D'Alonville, that they had not travelled together the whole way, but that they met by accident at Turin,
Mr. Melton coming last from Naples, and himself from Geneva, where he had been since France had became an uneasy residence for strangers. Mr. Melton receiving intelligence there of the death of two dowagers, who had kept him out of the moiety of a very large fortune, and sick of scenes for which he never had any taste, was returning to England. The young man who spoke, a younger brother of the name of Ellesmere, had agreed to accompany him through Germany, in the intention of visiting some of the German courts, and particularly Berlin; and having some thoughts of entering into the army, wished to understand more than he now did the tactics of a nation, who, under their last monarch, were the admiration of Europe. This conversation passed as D'Alonville and Ellesmere walked together down the hill; Melton had wrapped himself in his great coat and was replaced in the chaise.—When it stopped at the bottom for Ellesmere to get into it, he thanked D'Alonville in warmer and civiller terms than before, for the assistance they had received form him and his friend in their little dilemma; and added, that as they were travelling the same way, he should be glad if any opportunity offered of renewing their acquaintance. The post chaise in which these gentlemen were, notwithstanding it moved now only with three horses, proceeded faster than D'Alonville could do on the miserable and thoroughly-tired horse he was furnished with; they soon therefore left him behind, and passed the cabriole in which were the Abbe and De Touranges.—Melton had till then been silent, but at the noise the postillions made in passing each other he seemed to be roused form his reverie, and speaking to Ellesmere, said,
"well Ned, what did you do with your Frenchman?"
"Nothing," answered Ellesmere, "but thanked him for having tried to help us, which methought was the more necessary, as you were not too civil in abusing the man's country all the time he and his friend were standing in the rain, and helping us as well as they could."
"Pooh! damn it," replied Melton, "they did not understand me."
"Pardon me," said Ellesmere, "the younger of them understands English perfectly, though he does not speak it much; and even the elder one, whom I take to be a priest, seems to know at least what is said."
"Oh! what the fellow with a round black patch upon his scull, as if he had got a plaister for a broken head? Well! and what if he did? Who was that stately gentleman that was perched up in their rabbit-cart, and hardly put his nose out of his frizzled and furred great coat to peep at us? I suppose he was master of the other two."
"I did not observe him," replied Ellesmere, "but whoever he might be, I do not believe the other two were servants.—The young man with whom I conversed, seemed to be very much of a gentleman; and from the appearance of the whole party, I fancy they are emigrant French, who are seeking in some other country, an asylum against the tyranny and injustice that is executing in their own."
"A fine hand to be sure they have made of their liberty," said Melton. "What the devil had they to do to think of being free? I suppose they will now over run every country in Europe. For my part I cannot love them, nor ever did."
"But it does not appear, my friend," rejoined Ellesmere, "that Italians please you better."
"Oh! damn them—squeaking, fiddling, scraping, persidious rascals."
"Or Germans?" added Ellesmere.
"Humph! Yes they are a little better. I think they have a little more of Englishmen about them."
"Or Spaniards, or Portuguese?"
"Oh curse them; I hate them, though I know very little of them. They are fellows one knows hardly any thing about."
"Or Russians, or Swedes, or Danes, or Dutchmen?"
"Dutchmen! Hah! the most cheating money-getting, narrow-souled, bargain-driving scoundrels!—No, damn me, a Dutchman is worse—.."
"Worse than a Frenchman?" cried Ellesmere.
"No, nothing can be worse; but I think they are almost as bad."
"Not one nation of Europe then has the honor of being held in any degree of esteem by you; but my good friend, might you not be enabled to judge better of their characters, if you could speak their languages?"
I don't wish to speak their languages; what good does it do an Englishman? When I go to my estate in Gloucestershire, now for example, which I intend to do now the gentlewomen are both gone to earth, d'ye think I shall ever see any of these fellows? And among my neighbours and tenants d'ye believe we shall find occasion for French and Italian?"
"Why then," said Ellesmere, "did you go among them at all professing present dislike, and having no view of subsequent improvement?"
"Why! Nay faith I can hardly tell. I had lost a pretty round sum among sharpers."
"Englishmen, I suppose?"
"Aye, Englishmen, some of them, but others of them were Irishmen; so as I hated to hear about it from my aunt and my grandmother, and did not know very well what to do to get out of their way, I was persuaded to try the tour, as it is called, which it seems a man of fortune is expected to make.—But I pique myself upon returning to England as entirely British as I sat out—And unless my mind alters strangely, I shall live and die a thorough Englishman."
"I do believe you," answered Ellesmere; "and who but must rejoice, that there are still any of that excellent breed left, and that we are not wholly degenerated?"
They now arrived at the inn where they were to remain that night. The other three travellers, who were obliged to submit to the convenience of the proprietor of their horses, reached not so far, but remained at a village three leagues behind on the road.