Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Discarded Service
By Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751)
From Letter to Sir W. Windham

THE THURSDAY following the Duke of Ormond came to see me, and after the compliment of telling me, that he believed that I should be surprised at the message he brought, he put into my hands a note to himself, and a little scrip of paper directed to me, and drawn in the style of justice of peace’s warrant. They were both in the Chevalier’s handwriting, and they were dated on the Tuesday, in order to make me believe that they had been writ on the road, and sent back to the Duke: his grace dropped in our conversation, with great dexterity, all the insinuations proper to confirm me in this opinion. I knew at this time his master was not gone; so that he gave me two very risible scenes, which are frequently to be met with when some people meddle in business; I mean that of seeing a man labor with a great deal of awkward artifice to make a secret of a nothing, and that of seeing yourself taken for a bubble when you know as much of the matter, as he who thinks that he imposes on you.
  I cannot recollect precisely the terms of the two papers. I remember that the kingly laconic style of one of them, and the expression of having no further occasion for my service, made me smile. The other was an order to give up the papers in my office; all which might have been contained in a letter-case of a moderate size. I gave the Duke the seals, and some papers which I could readily come at. Some others, and indeed all such as I had not destroyed, I sent afterwards to the Chevalier: and I took care to convey to him, by a safe hand, several of his letters, which it would have been very improper the Duke should have seen. I am surprised that he did not reflect on the consequence of my obeying his order literally. It depended on me to have shown his general what an opinion the Chevalier had of his capacity. I scorned the trick; and would not appear piqued, when I was far from being angry. As I gave up, without scruple, all the papers which remained in my hands, because I was determined never to make use of them; so I confess to you, that I took a sort of pride in never asking for those of mine which were in the Pretender’s hands: I contented myself with making the Duke understand how little need there was to get rid of a man in this manner, who had made the bargain which I had done at my engagement; and with taking this first opportunity to declare, that I would never more have to do with the Pretender, or his cause.  2
  That I might avoid being questioned and quoted in the most curious and the most babbling town in the world, I related what had passed to three or four of my friends, and hardly stirred abroad, during a fortnight, out of a little lodging which very few people knew of. At the end of this term the Marshal of Berwick came to see me, and asked me what I meant, to confine myself to my chamber, when my name was trumpeted about in all the companies of Paris, and the most infamous stories were spread concerning me. This was the first notice I had, and it was soon followed by others. I appeared immediately in the world, and found there was hardly a scurrilous tongue which had not been let loose on my subject; and that those persons, whom the Duke of Ormond and the Earl of Mar must influence, or might influence, were the loudest in defaming me.  3
  Particular instances wherein I had failed were cited; and, as it was the fashion for every Jacobite to affect being in the secret, you might have found a multitude of vouchers to facts, which, if they had been true, could in the nature of them be known to very few persons.  4
  This method, of beating down the reputation of a man by noise and impudence, imposed on the world at first, convinced people who were not acquainted with me, and staggered even my friends. But it ceased in a few days to have any effect against me. The malice was too gross to pass upon reflection. These stories died away almost as fast as they were published, for this very reason, because they were particular.  5

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.