Biographical Anecdotes relating to the late Lieutenant Colonel John Mordaunt, of the Honourable East India Company's Madras Establishment.
THIS very singular and well known personage has been so much admired, so much reprobated, so much upheld, and so much decried, that some account of him may probably be acceptable to the publick.
He was a natural son of the late earl of Peterborough ; and, together with an elder brother, by the same mother, was, at an early age, put out to nurse. Harry, the eldest, was a pining, spiritless starvling; while John, the subject of this memoir, was active, lively, and of an uncommonly fine form. He was more of the Apollo Belvidere, though more rigid in muscle, than any other person I ever saw.
Harry took a sedentary turn, and being tender in constitution, could not partake of those gymnastick exercises which John delighted in, and in which he, on all occasions, took the lead. In fact, Harry was more calculated for scholastick researches, in which he made the ordinary progress of a schoolboy ; and would, probably, have shone under Alma Mater, had not his father, with the view of providing for him handsomely, and at a distance from the family in general, shipped him off as a cadet to Bengal.
John was too wild to learn much. His whole time was devoted to truancy ; and, as he often said, " one half of his days were spent in being flogged for the other half." Hence he was in no danger of a professorship, if we except those arts in which the celebrated Breslaw, Jones, &c. took their degrees. In such, John was completely at home, and they were certainly of some use to him, as will be hereafter seen.
When John was taken from school, he was about as learned as when he first was sent there. However, when this was ascertained, and a quarrel was commenced on the occasion, he very handsomely stepped forth to exculpate his master, whose attention he declared to be unparalleled; and, slipping off his clothes, exhibited the earnestness of the good man's endeavours ; humorously observing, that " as nothing could be got into his brain, his master had done his best to impress his instructions on the opposite seat of learning."
At the time that John was to pass muster before the India directors, he was out of the way, and it was nearly too late when he was found at marbles in Dean's yard. No time was lost in coaching him up to Leadenhallstreet, (Head offices of the Honourable East India Company - webmaster) where, being bent more on his pastime than on the grave questions put by his examiners, he was near being rejected as an idiot; when one of the quorum, who knew the youth's trim well, and who probably wished to see John appointed, asked him if he understood cribbage? John's soul was instantly roused; his eyes glistened; and, regardless of every matter relative to his appointment, he pulled out a pack of cards, so greasy as scarcely to be distinguished, and offered " to play the gentleman for any sum he chose."
The youth now felt himself at home, and speedily convinced them that, however ignorant he might be of the classicks, he was a match for any of them at cards. He was passed, and despatched to Portsmouth, where he was to embark in an India ship ready to sail with the first fair wind ; but as that was not to be had for some days, the person who had charge of him, put him on board, and returned to town.
John's gayety of disposition soon made him the fiddle of the crew. All on board loved him. He was elegant in his make; graceful in his movements (though he never could be made to walk a minuet by his dancing master) of a very animated countenance, strongly marked with good nature, spirit, and dignity; his features were regular and handsome; his eyes keen and commanding; and, on the whole, we may say he was such as is rarely seen.
Notwithstanding the rigid restrictions laid down by the person who had shipped him, such were the qualities of our young adventurer, that none could resist his wishes. The kindness he experienced, added to the novelty of the scene, made him completely happy, and attached him more to his new companions, than to his native soil. He could not bear to mope about the ship, whilst waiting for a wind, and frequently lent a pull in the boats, wbicb occasionally were sent for provisions, &c.
One day, however, John strayed into the town, and got into company with some girls, who soon eased him, not only of his money, but of his buckles, handkerchief, and every thing that could possibly be dispensed with. At this unlucky moment, the wind being fair, the signal was made for sailing, and the boat's crew were compelled, after a short, but active search, to put off, with heavy hearts, thinking they had seen the last of their favourite.
John came down to the beach too late. The boat was just arriving at the ship, which was lying to for her, and sailed immediately from the mother bank. What was to be done? He had no money, and not a soul would put off on such a trip without being previously well paid. The matter was to all appearance come to the worst, when seeing two watermen at cards in the stern sheets of a boat, he was led, by an irresistible, impulse to see how matters went on.
The owner of the boat was losing his money at all fours, when John requested that he might play a hand or two for him; offering to abide himself by any loss during his own play. The man agreed, and John not only won back the losings, but eased his opponent of all his money. The waterman was asked to take him on board; but no promise of money could tempt him : " It was too far," and " mayhap might never get a penny by it;" " had been served so before;" and all the host of objections, common among interested persons, were raised. At length the waterman, taking bold of John's button, drew him aside from the many who were there langhing at his misfortune, and said he had observed, that in dealing, there seemed to be something uncommon; besides that, " he had turned up Jack plaguy often." " Now, young'ne, I've a notion that didn't come by nature; and if so be you'll show me how to do it, I will take you aboard at any risks."
The bargain was struck; the man, being instructed how to turn up Jack, with the aid of three of his friends, sailed and rowed with such effect as to get within notice of the vessel before dark. The sails were backed, and John facetiously observed, as he quitted the bunt: " Now, my honest friend, you have turned up Jack in earnest;" meaning the waterman had fairly fulfilled his promise, by putting him, John Mordaunt, on board.
On his arrival at Madras, John was received with open arms by all his countrymen, according to the practice of those days, when unbounded hospitality was prevalent. His letters of introduction, which had been prudently given in charge to the captain of the ship, were delivered; and there appears no doubt but he might have speedily obtained some important situation; but general sir John Clavering, who was then commander in chief in India, and who was, accordingly, second in council at Calcutta having promised to provide for him, John went on to Bengal, where he was appointed an honorary aid de camp to that officer, still retaining his rank on the Madras establishment, where he was afterwards subjected to much ill will and obloquy.
The general had, no doubt, been pre-informed of the gross ignorance under which our hero laboured, and was determined to put his abilities to an early test. Accordingly, after a few days entrance on his appointment, John was desired to write a letter, conformably to leading points furnished by the general, to one of the colonels, commanding at an upper station. John very readily undertook the office, and in a short time returned to the general's apartment with the letter, written according to the data.
Sir John did all he could to unravel the various pothook combinations, and to arrange them into any thing like penmanship; but in vain. The orthography was not a whit better. The general was amazed; but, being willing to know how John might have expressed what was intrusted to him to communicate, as the only means of obtaining that knowledge, desired him to read what he had written. In this reasonable expectation, the general was, however, completely foiled; his protegé very deliberately saying," that was no part of his duty : he had obeyed the general's orders by writing the letter. It was the business of the colonel to whom it was addressed, to read it!"
It is truly wonderful, that, under the consciousness of being so very deficient in this branch, and in a circle which is so eminent for superiour education, such as the society in India may fairly claim to be, Mordaunt should have taken so little, if any, pains to improve himself. He surpassed in almost every thing he undertook ; yet, seemingly, more by intuition, than by any study or effort to excel. This ignorance in regard to writing, was the more remarkable, as he generally conversed with perfect propriety; often, indeed, with elegance of diction, and with a precise appropriation of his words to the particular occasion. He spoke the Hindoe language fluently, and was a tolerable Persian scholar; yet he could not write two lines of English correctly. I once had occasion to borrow a horse from him for a day or two. He sent the animal to me with the following note. " You may kip the hos as long as you lick."'
His excellence of temper, under all the jokes to which this unhappy deficiency subjected him, was wonderful. He knew his failing, and allowed it to stand as a butt for the amusement of his friends; but was highly offended at the attempt of any one, whom he did not feel a partiality for, to excite a laugh at his expense; and more than once, in my hearing, has astonished persons of that description into the most complete humility. Once in particular, a very worthy young man of the name of James P- who was rather of the more silly order of beings, thinking be could take the liberty of playing with, or rather upon him, in a large company called to Mordaunt, desiring him to say what was the Latin for a goose? The answer was briefly: " I don't know the Latin for it; but the English for it is James P-.
It should have been premised, that the foregoing question was put Mordaunt, in consequence of his having, in a note, sent to a person who had offended him, required " an immediate anser by the bearer." The gentleman addressed, wishing to terminate the matter amicably, construed the word literally, and sent a goose by the bearer ('anser' is Latin for 'goose' - webmaster) ; stating also, that he would partake of it the next day. This, to a man of Mordaunt's kidney, was the high road to reconciliation; though to nine persons in ten, and especially to those labouring under such a desperate deficiency in point of orthography, it would have appeared highly insulting.
It may readily be supposed, that Mordaunt was more ornamental than useful in general Clavering's office. However, the latter could not help esteeming him, and had he lived, would probably have effected. Mordaunt's removal from the Madras to the Bengal army. But the general dying, no other person felt so bold, or so interested for him, as to labour at that which, though not unprecedented, was so hostile to the sentiments of the latter establishment. The Madras officers never failed to notice, sometimes, indeed, in rather harsh terms, the injustice of an officer being on their rolls, who never joined his regiment for nearly twenty years, and whose whole time was passed in the lap of dissipation.
Being on a party of pleasure to the northward, and near to Lucknow, the capital of Oude, and the residence of the late nabob vizier, Asoph ul Doulah, Mordaunt, of course, had the curiosity to see both the prince and his court. The free, open temper of Asoph pleased Mordaunt, whose figure and manner made a great impression on his illustrious host. The latter was fond of hunting and shooting. To cockfighting, indeed, he was so partial, that he has even neglected due attendance to business of importance with the several residents, while engaged in a main with " his dear friend Mordaunt," who was completely skilled in that branch of barbarity. Though I cannot say it ever appeared to me as a very faithful resemblance, yet there is sufficient of character, and some other good points, in the portrait intended to represent Mordaunt, in the celebrated picture of the cockpit, executed by Zoffani, while at the nabob's court, to give some idea of the manly, dignified, and elegant person of the subject of this memoir. He is there represented as in the act of handing a cock, on which he bets highly, in opposition to a bird of his highness, the nabob, who is pourtrayed, in a loose undress, on the opposite side of the pit.
The figures in question, however, possess some merit, from the insight they give into the open, independent, yet unassuming air of Mordaunt, and the familiar manner in which the nabob stooped to join in diversions with him, and, indeed, with every European gentleman who wished to partake of such amusements as characterized that weak, idle, and contemptible prince.
Painting of Asaf al-Daula (the Nawab of Awadh 1775-97) at a cock-fight, by a Lucknow artist, c. 1830-35.
The Nawab crouches beside an English officer, both are watching a cock-fight. Three other European officers stand behind the pair with a number of Indian gentlemen. A servant holds a blue umbrella over the Nawab. A yellow canopy stretches over the group and there are baskets for the cocks to left and right. This painting most likely depicts the famous cockfight between Asaf al-Daula and Colonel Mordaunt which took place at Lucknow in 1786. - (from British Library website)
Mordaunt became such a favourite, that he was retained by the vizier at his court, in capacity of aide de camp; though he never attended but according to his own fancy, and then, generally, either to shoot, or to gamble with him. The various applications and sarcasms directed against Mordannt, as an absentee from his corps, for so many years, and at the distance of full two thousand miles, were alike disregarded by himself, and by the supreme government, of which all the individuals were personally attached to him. Some persons did not hesitate to assert, that he was kept by Mr. Hastings as a spy over the vizier, in consequence of the high favour and confidence the latter reposed in him but those who could entertain such an opinion, must be in extreme errour; for neither the conduct nor the disposition of Mordaunt, ever gave the smallest opening for such an inference. He was candid, free, and generous; and, I think, he would have abruptly revolted at any commission which might impose it, either directly, or circuitously, as a duty on him, to betray the secrets of the man who treated him with kindness and with respect.
Mordaunt was in the receipt of a handsome salary, and possessed many distinguished privileges under the patronage of the vizier, who often used to refer Europeans to him on occasions requiring his advice; though now and then he used to have recourse to the same excuse, when he did not wish to comply. On every such occasion Mordaunt was friendly, and on some rendered great service. Of this I shall quote instances.
Mr. Zoffani, in a humorous moment, had painted the nabob at full length, but in high caricature. The picture being at colonel Martine's, where old Zoffani resided, and the colonel's house being frequented by immense numbers of the natives, especially of those who, when the nabob wanted money, took his jewels to the colonel's to be pledged, it was not long before the prince was informed of the joke. In the first moments of irritation, he was disposed to make the painter a head shorter, and to dismiss the colonel, who was his chief engineer, and had the charge of his arsenal; but, as nothing could be done without his " dear friend Mordaunt," a message was despatched requiring his immediate attendance, " on matters of the utmost importance." This being a very stale mode of summoning Mordaunt, who would attend, or rather visit, only when it pleased himself, would have probably been disregarded, had not the messenger stated, that the nabob was incensed against Martine and Zoffani.
Mordaunt found the nabob foaming with rage, and about to proceed with a" host of rabble attendants to the colonel's. However, he got the story out of the nabob as well as he could, and argued him into a state of calmness, sufficient to let his purpose be suspended until the next day. So soon as could be done with safety, Mordaunt retired; and, as privately as possible, sent a note to Zoffani, with intelligence of the intended visit.
No time was lost, and the laughable caricature was in a few hours changed, by the magick pencil of Zoffani, into a superb portrait, highly ornamented, and so inimitably resemblant of the vizier, that it has been preferred to all which have been taken at sittings. The vizier did not fail to come, his mind full of anxiety for the honour of his dignified person, attended by Mordaunt, whose feelings for his friend's fate were speedily dissipated, when, on entering the portrait chamber, the picture in question shone forth so superbly, as to astonish the vizier, and to sully even the splendour which his whole equipage displayed on the occasion.
Asoph was delighted ; hurried the picture home ; gave Zoffani ten thousand rupees for it; and ordered the person who had informed him of the supposed caricature, to have his nose and ears cut off. Mordaunt, however, was equally successful in obtaining the poor fellow's pardon; and as the nabob would not detain him as a servant, very generously made him one of his own pensioners
At another time, the Hajam, or barber, who cut his excellency's hair, happened to draw blood, by going a little into the quick. This is considered as an offence of the highest atrocity; because crowned heads, throughout India, become degraded, if one drop of their blood be spilt by a barber; over whom a drawn sword is always held, while performing his duty, to remind him of his fate in case of the slightest incision.
The nabob, actuated by the common prejudice above described, had ordered the barber to be baked to death in an oven; when Mordaunt applied for his pardon. He could only obtain it conditionally; and, to be sure, the condition was both ludicrous and whimsical. Balloons were just invented when this happened, and Colonel Martine, being very ingenious, had made one which had taken up a considerable weight for short distances.
The nabob changed suddenly from great wrath to a sudden laugh, which continued so long as to alarm Mordaunt, whose pleasure was extreme, when he heard that, instead of being baked, the barber was to mount in the balloon, and to brush through the air according as chance might direct him.
It was accordingly settled. The balloon being sent off from his highness's forecourt, the barber was carried, more dead than alive, at a prodigious rate, to Poliergurge, distant about five miles from the city of Lucknow.
Mordaunt was little acquainted with the small sword, but was an excellent marksman, either with ball or small shot. With the latter he scarcely ever was seen to miss; and I have known him to come off winner when he has wagered to kill twenty snipes in as many shots. Although he missed one bird, he made up for it by killing two that were sprung at the same moment, and which, flying across each other's direction, were shot at the point of intersection. He was one of three, who, during one day, in the year 1786, shot such a quantity of game, chiefly snipes and teal, as loaded a small boat which conveyed the birds from Gowgautchy to Calcutta. His favourite sport was tiger shooting, in which he was often very successful; being vigorous, spirited, and expert; all which qualifications are indispensably requisite in that noble branch of the chace.
With respect to the use of a pistol, it was wonderful. I have often competed with him, but without the smallest chance of winning. He had frequently laid five to one, though he confessed I sometimes trod close on his heels. I have, more than once, seen him hit a common brassheaded nail at fifteen yards ; and I would always have wagered on his side, when the object was an inch in diameter.
A curious circumstance happened to him while at Lucknow. An officer had taken offence at something he had said, and talked much of calling him to an account. He went to Mordaunt's with a friend, and there detailed the cause of his visit, in terms not clothed in all the politeness the dictionary could have helped him to. He was heard very patiently, and after a very short explanation, found himself to be in the wrong. Mordaunt convinced him of his error, and reprimanded him for his manner of delivering himself on the occasion. After the matter was concluded, and they were perfectly reconciled, I happened to drop in to take a few shots, when the ability displayed by Mordaunt made his visiter look pale. He afterwards confessed to me, that it was well all was settled.
Yet, strange to say, when a few years after, Mordaunt and another gentleman engaged in a quarrel of a very serious nature, with a third, whom they had accused of some improper conduct at cards, he missed his adversary, who, on the other hand, wounded both Mordaunt and his friend desperately. This was not owing to agitation, but, as Mordaunt expressed, in very curious terms, at the moment of missing, to the pistol being too highly charged.
While speaking of cards, I must again state, that he was acquainted with all the ordinary tricks in the shuffling, cutting, and dealing way. Of this an instance is well known. Mordaunt observed that one of his adversaries at whist was remarkably fortunate in his own deals; and, as he was rather a suspicious character, thought it needful to watch him. When Mordaunt came to deal, he gave himself thirteen trumps! This excited the curiosity of all, but particularly of the gentleman in question, who was very pointed in his observations on the singularity of the case. Mordaunt briefly said: " Sir, this was to show that you should not have all the fun to yourself," and, rising from his seat, left the black leg to ruminate on the obvious necessity of quitting India. Here, however, Mordaunt's goodness of heart was prevalent; for he obtained a promise from the whole party to keep the secret; provided the offender instantly left the country; which he accordingly did by the first conveyance.
With respect to the ordinary rules of arithmetick, no man could be more ignorant than Mordaunt; at least he never showed the least knowledge of any thing relating thereto. He kept no books, but all his money concerns were on scraps, and under terms and figures intelligible only to himself. He had many extensive claims on the nabob; and he had immense losses and gains to register in the 1,0,U, way. Yet, even the most intricate cases never puzzled him; and at settling times, he was rarely, if ever, found to be in error. This was one of the points in which he was apt to be peremptory ; for no sooner, did he hear a claim stated, which did not tally with his own peculiar mode of accounting, than he condemned it, in round terms, and would scarcely hear the attempt to substantiate, what he so decidedly denied.
It was well known that he could arrange the cards according to his pleasure; yet such was the general, I may say. universal opinion of his honour, that no one hesitated to play with him, sober or otherwise, for their usual stakes. His decision, in cases of differences, was generally final; and many references have been made to him, by letter, from very distant situations, regarding points in gaming.
His spirited detestation of any attempt at the undue exercise of authority, was manifested on various occasions; in one especially. A fives-court had been built by subscription, near the resident's house at Lucknow, and was considered as publick property. A succeeding resident, who lately died immensely rich, took the liberty of pulling it down, as it interfered with that privacy he sought as a married man. In that point no body would have differed from him; but, as it was done without consent of, or even notice to the proprietors, or to the society then at the place, such an arbitrary proceeding naturally gave offence. None liked to stand forth, until Mordaunt, who was at the time of despoliation at Calcutta, returned, and insisted on another fives-court being built at the resident's expense, on a site more convenient to all parties.
A new court was accordingly built for four of a side. It was ninety feet over-all, besides twelve feet of space beyond. The front wall was seventy feet high, and the court was forty feet broad. The inside was covered with black plaster, highly polished, and the floor terraced in a very superiour manner.
Mordaunt was so much master of his racket, and was so vigorous, that he would always wager on hitting the line from the over-all, a distance of thirty yards, once in three times. He could beat most people with a common round ruler.
If he ever did indulge in mischief, it was at this game, when his best friends were sure to receive some smart tokens of remembrance . 1 have had a ball or two from him occasionally, which kept my back in a glow for hours. But he used to be terribly severe on a very worthy, good natured civilian, Mr. Marcus Sackville Taylor, deputy to colonel, now major general, Palmer, who was for some years resident at the nabob's court.
Being on a brotherly footing, Mr. Taylor used to take these unpleasant raps, as every body else did, in good humour; and endeavoured, though not with equal success, to pay Mordaunt in his own coin. One evening he received so many, and so forcible repetitions of the joke, that he requested of Mordaunt to discontinue it. The latter, however, did not desist, but soon after gave Mr. Taylor such a blow, as exasperated him highly, and induced him, in rather a vindictive tone, to declare if he were hit again, his racket should be thrown at Mordaunt's head. This threat produced a whimsical scene ; for Mordaunt coolly told Mr. Taylor, that if he threw his racket, he would give him a good drubbing. Mr. Taylor no sooner heard the reply, than he fired with indignation ; and said, that " as between gentlemen, suppositions were considered as facts, Mordaunt might consider the racket he threw to the ground, as being thrown at his head." " Very well, Sackville," answered Mordaunt, very drily ; " then you may consider this aim I have taken with my racket, as being with a pistol, and that I have shot you dead." Mr. Taylor was proceeding with his intentions, when Mordaunt observed to him, that as he was, according to his own suppositions, dead, of course he could not speak; and therefore, nothing further could be said or heard, on his part. The whole party present, who were chagrined to see the smallest difference between two worthy men, joined in the laugh with Mordaunt, and in silencing his dead opponent, who speedily was restored to life, and to good humour.
This curious controversy, afterwards called the metaphysical duel, was often significantly quoted, or alluded to, on occasions where matters that went to extremity in the cabinet, ended tamely in the field.
Mordaunt never allowed the nabob to treat him with the least disrespect, or with hauteur. Indeed, such was the estimation in which he was held by that prince, that, in all probability, the latter never felt any disposition towards exerting his authority. Something may be gathered from the from lowing anecdote. The nabob wanted some alterations to be made in the howdah of his state elephant, and asked Mordaunt's opinion as to the best mode of securing it. The latter, very laconically, told the nabob, he understood nothing of the matter; he having been born and bred a gentleman; but that probably his blacksmith, pointing to Colonel Martine, could inform him how the howdah ought to be fastened.
This sneer, no doubt, gratified Mordaunt; who, though extremely intimate with Martine, and in the habit of addressing him by various ludicrous, but sarcastick nicknames, seemed not to relish that fondness for money, and those various practices of which he was said to be guilty.
Martine was very rich, and had built two houses near Lucknow, both of them complete fortifications, and capable of holding out a long time, against such popular commotions as were hourly to be expected. He lent money to the rich natives, taking their own or their wives' trinkets in pledge. He was, besides, very extensively concerned in trade, to very remote parts of India. He built several ships, and was, on the whole, a very useful man. He died about four years ago, immensely rich; but being very little acquainted with the English language, though near forty years in our service, he made such a will as might be expected from a man so circumstanced, and who prided himself in being his own lawyer. The consequence has been, that the manifold contradictions and equivocal expressions it abounded with, occasioned the whole estate to be thrown into chancery, whence it will, probably, never make its escape.
Marquis Cornwallis was either unwilling to compel Mordaunt to return to the Madras establishment, or was prevailed on by the vizier to let him remain on his staff. The marquis, one day, seeing Mordaunt at his levée asked him if he did not long to join his regiment. " No, my lord," answered Mordaunt, " not in the least" " But," resumed the marquis, " your services may be wanted, perhaps." " Indeed, my lord," rejoined Mordaunt, " I cannot do you half the service there, that I can in keeping the vizier amused, while you ease him of his money."
As a bon vivant, as master of the revels, or at the head of his own table, few could give greater variety, or more complete satisfaction than Mordaunt. He had the best of wines, and spared no expense, though he would take very little personal trouble, in providing whatever was choice or rare. He stood on little ceremony, especially at his own house; and, at his friend's, never allowed any thing to incommode him, from a bashful reserve. Whatever was, in his opinion wrong, he did not hesitate to condemn.
These observations were very quick, and generally not devoid of humour. His old friend, captain Waugh, dining with him one day, made such a hole in a fine goose, as to excite the attention of Mordaunt; who, turning to his head servant, ordered aloud, that, " whenever captain Waugh dined at his house, there should always be two geese on table; one for the captain, the other for the company."
The following anecdote will exhibit, that the above directions were not misapplied.
Captain Waugh commanded one of the six battalions which, under the immortal Goddard, penetrated through the heart of the Mahratta country, though opposed by at least a hundred thousand men, chiefly cavalry. When the peace was concluded with that power, in 1782, captain Waugh took his passage from Bombay to Bengal, in a vessel which was captured off Tranquebar, by Suffrein. That admiral treated him with great politeness, and invited him to his table. The French, according to their custom, began with their soup, &c; while Waugh commenced his attack on a goose, which happened to be near him. The bird was soon disposed of, and Waugh had just stuck his fork into a duck, when Suffrein, with great good nature, but under no small astonishment, observed, that he had forgot the English captain's name, but requested he would take a glass of wine. " My name is Waugh, and I will drink with you with all my heart," answered the captain " Bon, bon," said Suffrein, delighted at what he thought was a joke of his guest's; "mais. Monsieur Waugh, si vous resterois ici, nous n'aurions pas une oie dans toute l'escadre." *
[* The literal translation of this facetious reply of the admiral's would stand thus :— " Truly, Mr. Waugh, if you remain here, we shall not have a goose left in the whole squadron." But this is rather an inversion of the pun on the word oie, which signifies a goose. Indeed, 1 know not how it could be rendered in English, so as to retain that point which entitles it to our admiration.]
The pun was rather a fortunate one for Waugh, who played such a tune with his knife and fork, as made all the Frenchmen stare, and induced Suffrein to set him ashore, on parole, at the first port.
After the arrival of the two brothers, Harry and John, in Bengal, they had but little intercourse. Harry seemed to be jealous and envious of his brother's qualifications, and of the general partiality in his favour; which was by no means the case with himself. He was haughty, reserved, tenacious, and satirical; consequently was not very likely to be much respected, or relished as a companion. His emaciated, bilious appearance, was not calculated to prepossess either sex in his behalf. Indeed, the ladies could not bear him. John always treated him with particular consideration; but, when having attempted to oppose, or to argue against him, used briefly to put him down with: " Hold your tongue,' Harry, you are a puny little fool, and fit for nothing but to be a lord/' Nevertheless, John never allowed any person to speak disrespectfully of him.
Harry died of diseases which seemed to have been rocked with him in his cradle; while John, though possessed of a vigorous constitution, after arriving at the acmé of popularity, at least so far as related to all with whom he associated, and after performing feats in various exercises, which denoted the vastness of his powers, seemed to descend, as it were, down a precipice into his grave. He never, indeed, got completely better of the pistol shot in his breast; and, probably, actuated by that mistaken pride, generally urging men who have done wonders, not to allow their decrease of vigour to be noticed or suspected, he neglected the warnings given him by one or two serious attacks on his liver, and thus hastened that end which we may call untimely.
He died in the 40th year of his age, beloved and regretted by a numerous circle. I believe, setting aside the dissipation in which he delighted, he could not leave any past reckoning of vices to appear against him. His heart was formed for friendship. He was warm in his attachments, which were, however, very select; and, notwithstanding the peculiar bluntness of his manner, I cannot say I ever heard him utter a rude thing, or do an uncharitable act.
Such are the outlines of a man, who, had he been bred in courts, would probably have been the Rochester of his day; for he was inordinately fond of women ; and seemed, when ill, to regret his situation chiefly as depriving him of their society.