Page images

Such was Lord Camelford's night illuminated, Camelford's windows rework; and although he so often spent mained dark as pitch. those quiet hours in administering This kind of thing was at that time black eyes to many, this eccentric crea- always bitterly resented by a London ture in the daytime was often to be mob. The canaille collected, and by found engaged in relieving the neces- way of preliminary saluted his winsities of many. He was, as before dows with a shower of stones. Irrimentioned, a curious mixture of vices tated by this treatment, the pugnacious and virtues, of studiousness and reck- peer sallied out, carrying a formidable lessness. We read in the columns of bludgeon, and single-handed laid about the Gentleman's Magazine that Lord him right and left. But the mob Camelford was not only iuclined to the bad cudgels too, and proceeded to show more enlightened pursuits of literature, his lordship that they also knew how but his chemical researches were to use those weapons.

They belaworthy of the highest praise. Some-bored him thoroughly, and in the end times he exhibits traces of a tender knocked him down and proceeded to heart and of being singularly benevo- roll him in the gutter. But the next lent and forgiving; at other times he night his windows were as dark as is unreasonably vindictive and barbar- ever, though he had taken the precau ous. It was hard to predict what he tion to fill the house with a party of would do or say on any given occasion, armed sailors, and it seemed likely that but the chances were it would be some- the festivities attending the welcome thing with a strong flavor, good or peace would be the cause of yet more bad.

bloodshed. Fortunately the mob were Such a character in fiction would be in a good temper, or content with havpronounced incredible ; yet such char- ing thrashed him once ; at any rate, he acters are not entirely unknown even was left this time to mourn, or rather in Biblical history. There was nothing curse, alone the national weakness in which delighted bim more than to coming to terms with “ Bony." stand out in direct contrast to the gen- The fact that he always showed an eral public and find himself in a minor- uncommon affection for his sister's two ity of one. In the House of Lords no children proves that his character was doubt he would have been often able not destitute of amiable qualities. For to gratify this whim ; but, like certain the gratification and amusement of noblemen of our own day, he had the these boys, he gave them a couple of good taste not to take his place as ponies, and it was one of his favorite an “hereditary legislator ; indeed recreations to take them out riding. throughout his short career he rather On these little expeditions if he pershunned the “ society of his peers," ceived any laborers at work, he used to preferring instead the ignobile vulgus of stop and engage them in conversation, the London streets.

and always made it his business to find In 1801, when all London was lit up out their circumstances, difficulties, in celebration of the return of peace, and little family secrets. Never on no persuasions would induce him to these occasions did distress plead in allow lights to be placed in the win- vain, and he seldom parted from those dows of his apartments, which were whom he considered deserving objects over a grocer's shop in Bond Street, of his bounty, without leaving behind though he had previously wished to go some substantial mark of his favor. It to Paris to end the war with a single was also his custom in order to test the blow. In vain did the grocer and his disposition of his so-called friends, to wife protest ; in vain did his friends occasionally represent himself as being try their persuasion ; he continued in- greatly in want of money, and to reexorable, and throughout the evening quest the loan of one or two thousand remained firm to his silly and wayward pounds. Some of those to whom be resolve. So, though all London was applied gave him the required sum, which he generally returned in the represented to the touchy nobleman course of a few days with a note of that a certain Mr. Best had said someexplanation.

thing to his prejudice to this woman. His name was a terror to fops, for The inflammable nobleman immedithough Camelford House at the top of ately took fire, so that happening to Park Lane was nominally his town meet this Mr. Best on the 6th of March residence, he lived chiefly in his bache- at the Prince of Wales coffee-house, lor quarters, or at clubs, and coffee- Lord Camelford went up to him and houses, where he would often go said loud enough to be heard by all shabbily dressed to read the paper. present: “I find, sir, that you have

One day it chanced that a dashing spoken of me in the most unwarrantbeau full of airs and graces came into able terms." Mr. Best quietly replied, the same box in a coffee-house in Con-“that he was quite ignorant of anyduit Street, which Camelford was fond thing to deserve such a charge ; of frequenting, and threw himself into Camelford replied that he knew otherthe opposite seat, at the same time call-wise, and called him “a scoundrel, a ing out in a most consequential tone, liar, and a ruffian.” "Waiter, bring a pint of Madeira, and After making use of such epithets as a couple of wax candles.' Meanwhile, these, there was according to the he drew Lord Camelford's candle code of honor of those days — but one towards himself, and began to read. course open to Mr. Best. A meeting The former glared at the intruder, but was proposed for the following mornsaid nothing. In the course of a few ing, and each of the parties having apminutes the buck's candles and wine pointed his second, it was left to them were brought and set out in the next to arrange the time and place, which box into which he presently lounged. was accordingly fixed to take place at Then Camelford, mimicking his tone seven o'clock in a meadow bebind Holcalled out : “Waitaa, bring me a pair land House. of snuffaas." These being brought his Meantime every means was used to lordship walked round with them to the prevent the necessity of a duel, and it other box, snuffed out both candles certainly seems to have been entirely and leisurely returned to his seat. Lord Camelford's fault that the affair "Waitaa, waitaa, waitaa,” roared the was allowed to be proceeded with. In indignant beau boiling and blustering the course of the evening, Mr. Best,

who is this fellow that although he had been so grossly indares thus to insult a gentleman ? who sulted, sent to his lordship the strong, is he? who is he?"

est assurance that the information he “Lord Camelford, sir !” said the received was unfounded, and that as waiter.

Lord Camelford had acted under a false " Lord Camelford I” returned the impression he would be quite satisfied former in horror-stricken accents. if his lordship would withdraw the Lord Camelford ! What have I to strong epithets which he had used.

And he immediately laid But Lord Camelford was too proud to down his score, and stole away, leav- accept this kindly and sensible offer. ing his Madeira untasted.

Meanwhile the proprietors of the At length Lord Camelford's irritable coffee-house and some mutual friends disposition, which had already involved among the bystanders lodged an inhim in endless quarrels and disputes, formation at Marlborough Street, but paved the way to the tragic ending of a though the magistrates were thus early life which was such a strange compound let into the secret, it appears that acof good and bad.

cording to the usual dilatoriness with It would appear that for some time regard to such matters (as in the case he had been épris of a certain lady of of the celebrated duel between Lord the name of Simmons. One day early Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton, in 1804, some officious retailer of gossip pearly a century before that) no steps

with rage,

pay ?"

were taken to prevent the encounter Unable to come to terms the two until too late.

principals mounted their horses and Not until nearly two o'clock in the rode along the Uxbridge Road, past the morning did any of the Marlborough wall which then bounded Kensington Street emissaries reach Lord Camel-Gardens and so came to the Horse ford's door, by which time the bird had and Groom, a little beyond Notting flown. For his lordship, who had Hill turnpike-gate. At the Horse and gained no little experience in matters Groom they dismount, cross the road, of honor, had taken good care to “ef- and proceed at a rapid pace along the face” himself from his Bond Street path towards the fields at the back lodging, and slept the night instead at of Holland House. It was now about a tavern in Oxford Street.

eight o'clock, and the sun had just He employed the quiet hours of this risen upon a wild March morning, the his last night upon earth in making seconds measured the ground and his will, bequeathing his estates to his placed their men at a distance of thirty sister, Lady Grenville. In this he in-paces. One or two of Lord Holland's serted a clause which proves him to outdoor servants were up and about have done at least one just and noble the grounds, but while they stood and act, for in it he wholly acquits his an- stared, the signal was given and Lord tagonist of blame by a positive state- Camelford fired first and missed. A ment that he was the aggressor in quarter of a minute more, Best hesievery sense. “Should I therefore lose tated, and some think he even now my life in a contest of my own seeking, asked his adversary to retract, but the I most solemnly forbid my friends or signal was repeated, and he fired, relations from instituting any vexatious whereupon Lord Camelford was seen proceeding against my antagonist ;” to fall at full length to the ground. and he further adds that if, “notwith- But he was not dead yet, though he standing the above declaration, the would never stand again, and oh ! laws of the land be put in force against irony of ironies, he declared that he him, I desire that this part of my will " was satisfied.” may be made known to the king.” They all ran to pick him up, and he

Early the following morning Mr. gave his hand to his antagonist, saying, Best called at the coffee-house in Ox-"Best, I am a dead man, and though ford Street, where he made a last effort you have killed me I fully forgive you ; to prevail upon his lordship to retract it was not your fault.” the expressions he had used. “Camel- The report of firearms had alarmed ford,” said he, "we have been friends, several other persons, so that Best and I know the generosity of your va- was obliged to seek safety in flight. ture. Upon my honor you have been one of the gardeners was sent for a imposed upon by Mrs. Simmons. Do surgeon, and a sedan chair was soon not insist on using expressions which procured, in which Lord Camelford in the end may cause the death of either was carried off to Little Holland you or me."

House, where he was attended by two To this Lord Camelford replied with surgeons, an express being sent off to some emotion, “Best, this is child's his brother-in-law, Lord Grenville, and play ; the thing must go on." Yet in to his cousin the Rev. Mr. Cockburn. his own heart he acquitted Mr. Best, He was put to bed and his clothes cut for he acknowledged in confidence to off him, but from the first the surgeons his second that he was in the wrong. gave no hope, for the bullet was buried The reason of all this obstinacy prob- in the body and could not be extracted, ably lay in the fact that Best had the and the lower limbs were paralyzed by credit of being a fatal shot, and Camel- its action. ford fancied his reputation might suffer He lingered in great agony for three if he made a concession, however slight, whole days, when mortification set in to such a person.

and put an end to his sufferings. Thus

died Thomas Pitt Lord Camelford at punishment; but in whose cases apthe early age of twenty-nine, in the peared circumstances of alleviation. prime and full vigor of manhood, by a He was passionately fond of science, death entirely due to his own wilful and though his mind, while a young obstinacy and foolish pride.

seaman, had been little cultivated, yet To his cousiu, Mr. Cockburn, who in his later years he had acquired a remained with him until he expired, he prodigious fund of inforınation, upon is said to have spoken with deep con- almost every subject connected with trition of his past life, and in the literature. In early life he had gloried moments of his greatest pain cried out much in puzzling the chaplains of the that he sincerely hoped the agonies he ships in which he had served, and to then endured might expiate the sins he enable him to gain such triumphs, he had committed.

had read all the sceptical books he “ I wish,” says Mr. Cockburn, “ with could procure, and thus his mind beall my soul, that the unthinking vota- came involuntarily tainted with infiries of dissipation and infidelity could delity. But as his judgment grew have been present at the death-bed of more matured, he discovered of himthis poor man, could have heard his self the fallacy of his reasonings, and expressions of contrition and of re- the folly of living an irreligious life. liance on the mercy of his Creator ; On the day after his death, an incould have heard his dying exhortation quest was held upon his body, when, to one of his intimate friends, to live in strange as it may sound to those who future a life of peace and virtue. I have read this brief history, twelve think it would have made an impres- wise and enlightened inhabitants of the sion on their minds, as it did on mine, rural village of Kensington, for such it not easily to be effaced.”

was when George III. was king, unaniHe was a man, says Cockburn, whose mously returned a verdict of “ Wilful real character was but little known to murder," against some person or perthe world ; his imperfections and his sons unknown. follies were often brought before the It is evident from all I have said, public, but the counterbalancing vir- that Lord Camelford had in him the tues he manifested were but little elements of a good naval officer ; but heard of. Though violent to those he was proud, and obstinate beyond whom he imagined to have wronged measure, and never could be brought bim, yet to his acquaintances he was to bow to the rules and requirements mild, affable, and courteous ; a stern of the service. From a child he would adversary, but the kiudest and most not obey or be amenable to reason ; generous of friends. That warmth of he delighted to set all authority at dedisposition, which prompted him so fiance ; at school it was the same, unhappily to great improprieties, afterwards in the navy; and he was prompted him also to the most lively true to his character to the very last. efforts of active benevolence. From The day before his death he wrote or the many prisons in the metropolis, rather dictated a codicil to his will. In from the various receptacles of human it he requests his relations not to wear misery, he received numberless peti- mourning for him, and then gives partions ; and no petition ever came in ticular instructions as to the disposal of vain. He was often the dupe of the his remains after death. designing and crafty supplicant, but he In this remarkable document he pref. was more often the reliever of real aced his wish by the statement that sorrow, and the soother of unmerited while other persons desired to be

Constantly would he make use buried in their native land however of that influence which rank and for- great the distance might be, he on the tune gave him with the government to contrary wished to be interred in a interfere on behalf of those malefactors distant land. “I wish my body,". whose crimes had subjeca hem to avs lie, “to be renioved as soon as niay be convenient, to a country far scription : "The Right Hon. Lord distant, to a spot not near the launts Camelford, died 10th March, 1804, aged of men, but where the surrounding 29 years." His body still lies where it scenery may smile upon my remains.was first temporarily interred, for the He then went into details. This place war lasted a long while, and at its close was by the lake of St. Pierre, in the Lord Camelford's remains were forgotcanton of Berne, in Switzerland, and ten, and there seenis never to have the exact spot was marked by three been any further attempt to carry out trees. He desired that the centre tree the testamentary wishes of the deceased might be taken up, and his body placed peer. Many persons


have actually in the cavity, and that no monument or been shown by former vergers of St. stone might mark the place. He then Anne's what purported to be the coffin gave a reason for this selection : “ At containing all that remained of Lord the foot of this tree I formerly passed Camelford, probably fish-basket and many hours in solitude contemplating all, but of late years the vaults under the mutability of human affairs ; ” and the church have been filled with sawas a compensation, he left the propri- dust. There he most probably will etors of the spot described, 1,0001. remain until the “last trumpet shall That at eleven years of age he or any sound” buried in sawdust, alongside other boy should have meditated under the coffin of that other eccentric inditrees upon the “mutability of human vidual, the adventurer, Theodore, king affairs,” is nonsense. He was medi. of Corsica. At any rate, there seems tating upon that subject as he lay little chance that he will ever rest in a-dying, and it was then that he re- the romantic spot he fancied, and paid membered the green meadows, the for. blue lake, and the peaceful hours in His tive property of Boconnoc Park, the place where he had spent his inno- Cornwall, he bequeathed to his sister cent childhood, when he little dreamed Anne, Lady Grenville, who was his that he should kill poor Peterson by a sole executrix. He also left considerpistol-shot, and be killed by a pistol able sums to be devoted to charitable himself in retribution.

purposes. Lady Grenville outlived her But in this matter of the disposal of brother sixty years, dying in full poshis remains he was not destined to session of her faculties, at the age of have his own way. The body was re- ninety in the year 1863. moved the day after his death from Kensington to Camelford House, and thence on the 17th March it was taken and placed wit the vaults of St. Anne's, Soho, beside the coffin which

MENTAL WORK. held the remains of Theodore, king of WHEN I say that a man has a horror Corsica, pending its removal to Switz- of work, I mean the work of original erland ; for preparations had actually production of ideas and not that of been made to carry out Lord Camel- exercise, by means of which the menford's wishes. He was embalmed and tal organs are kept in a state of health. his remains packed up for transporta- For instance, that which is commonly tion in an enormously long fish-basket called the imaginative faculty, taken in in place of a shell. But at the last its restricted sense, is only the faculty moment, when all was ready, war of associating a great mauy mental was again proclaimed and the body images together, in order to realize was unable to be transported. It was numerous and varied combinations of thereupon placed temporarily in a mag. these, which, in certain cases, produce nificent coffin ornamented with a pro- great psychic pleasure. Take a volume fusion of silver clasps and covered with of poems, written by some fanciful rose-colored velvet and surmounted by poet, as Shelley or Baudelaire ; these a coronet, and with the following in-Iverses excite in us images and their

From The Revue des Revues.

« PreviousContinue »