Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A Modern Telemachus online

. (page 1 of 14)
Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA Modern Telemachus → online text (page 1 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Transcribed from the 1889 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email
[email protected]


{'Be still' illustration: p1.jpg}

'Be still; I want to hear what they are saying.' - P. 2.



_All rights reserved_

_First Edition_ (2 _Vols. Crown_ 8_vo_) 1886
_Reprinted_ 1887, 1889


The idea of this tale was taken from _The Mariners' Chronicle_, compiled
by a person named Scott early in the last century - a curious book of
narratives of maritime adventures, with exceedingly quaint illustrations.
Nothing has ever shown me more plainly that truth is stranger than
fiction, for all that is most improbable here is the actual fact.

The Comte de Bourke was really an Irish Jacobite, naturalised in France,
and married to the daughter of the Marquis de Varennes, as well as in
high favour with the Marshal Duke of Berwick.

In 1719, just when the ambition of Elizabeth Farnese, the second wife of
Philip V. of Spain, had involved that country in a war with England,
France, and Austria, the Count was transferred from the Spanish Embassy
to that of Sweden, and sent for his wife and two elder children to join
him at a Spanish port.

This arrangement was so strange that I can only account for it by
supposing that as this was the date of a feeble Spanish attempt on behalf
of the Jacobites in Scotland, Comte de Bourke may not have ventured by
the direct route. Or it may not have been etiquette for him to re-enter
France when appointed ambassador. At any rate, the poor Countess did
take this route to the South, and I am inclined to think the narrative
must be correct, as all the side-lights I have been able to gain
perfectly agree with it, often in an unexpected manner.

The suite and the baggage were just as related in the story - the only
liberty I have taken being the bestowal of names. 'M. Arture' was really
of the party, but I have made him Scotch instead of Irish, and I have no
knowledge that the lackey was not French. The imbecility of the Abbe is
merely a deduction from his helplessness, but of course this may have
been caused by illness.

The meeting with M. de Varennes at Avignon, Berwick's offer of an escort,
and the Countess's dread of the Pyrenees, are all facts, as well as her
embarkation in the Genoese tartane bound for Barcelona, and its capture
by the Algerine corsair commanded by a Dutch renegade, who treated her
well, and to whom she gave her watch.

Algerine history confirms what is said of his treatment. Louis XIV. had
bombarded the pirate city, and compelled the Dey to receive a consul and
to liberate French prisoners and French property; but the lady having
been taken in an Italian ship, the Dutchman was afraid to set her ashore
without first taking her to Algiers, lest he should fall under suspicion.
He would not venture on taking so many women on board his own vessel,
being evidently afraid of his crew of more than two hundred Turks and
Moors, but sent seven men on board the prize and took it in tow.

Curiously enough, history mentions the very tempest which drove the
tartane apart from her captor, for it also shattered the French
transports and interfered with Berwick's Spanish campaign.

The circumstances of the wreck have been closely followed. 'M. Arture'
actually saved Mademoiselle de Bourke, and placed her in the arms of the
_maitre d'hotel_, who had reached a rock, together with the Abbe, the
lackey, and one out of the four maids. The other three were all in the
cabin with their mistress and her son, and shared their fate.

The real 'Arture' tried to swim to the shore, but never was seen again,
so that his adventures with the little boy are wholly imaginary. But the
little girl's conduct is perfectly true. When in the steward's arms she
declared that the savages might take her life, but never should make her
deny her faith.

The account of these captors was a great difficulty, till in the old
_Universal History_ I found a description of Algeria which tallied
wonderfully with the narrative. It was taken from a survey of the coast
made a few years later by English officials.

The tribe inhabiting Mounts Araz and Couco, and bordering on Djigheli
Bay, were really wild Arabs, claiming high descent, but very loose
Mohammedans, and savage in their habits. Their name of Cabeleyzes is
said - with what truth I know not - to mean 'revolted,' and they held
themselves independent of the Dey. They were in the habit of murdering
or enslaving all shipwrecked travellers, except subjects of Algiers, whom
they released with nothing but their lives.

All this perfectly explains the sufferings of Mademoiselle de Bourke. The
history of the plundering, the threats, the savage treatment of the
corpses, the wild dogs, the councils of the tribe, the separation of the
captives, and the child's heroism, is all literally true - the expedient
of Victorine's defence alone being an invention. It is also true that
the little girl and the _maitre d'hotel_ wrote four letters, and sent
them by different chances to Algiers, but only the last ever arrived, and
it created a great sensation.

M. Dessault is a real personage, and the kindness of the Dey and of the
Moors was exactly as related, also the expedient of sending the Marabout
of Bugia to negotiate.

Mr. Thomas Thompson was really the English Consul at the time, but his
share in the matter is imaginary, as it depends on Arthur's adventures.

The account of the Marabout system comes from the _Universal History_;
but the arrival, the negotiations, and the desire of the sheyk to detain
the young French lady for a wife to his son, are from the narrative. He
really did claim to be an equal match for her, were she daughter of the
King of France, since he was King of the Mountains.

The welcome at Algiers and the _Te Deum_ in the Consul's chapel also are
related in the book that serves me for authority. It adds that
Mademoiselle de Bourke finally married a Marquis de B - -, and lived much
respected in Provence, dying shortly before the Revolution.

I will only mention further that a rescued Abyssinian slave named Fareek
(happily not tongueless) was well known to me many years ago in the
household of the late Warden Barter of Winchester College.

Since writing the above I have by the kindness of friends been enabled to
discover Mr. Scott's authority, namely, a book entitled _Voyage pour la
Redemption des captifs aux Royaumes d'Alger et de Tunis_, _fait en_ 1720
_par les P.P. Francois Comelin_, _Philemon de la Motte_, _et Joseph
Bernard_, _de l'Ordre de la Sainte Trinite_, _dit Mathurine_. This Order
was established by Jean Matha for the ransom and rescue of prisoners in
the hands of the Moors. A translation of the adventures of the Comtesse
de Bourke and her daughter was published in the _Catholic World_, New
York, July 1881. It exactly agrees with the narration in _The Mariners'
Chronicle_ except that, in the true spirit of the eighteenth century, Mr.
Scott thought fit to suppress that these ecclesiastics were at Algiers at
the time of the arrival of Mademoiselle de Bourke's letter, that they
interested themselves actively on her behalf, and that they wrote the
narrative from the lips of the _maitre d'hotel_ (who indeed may clearly
be traced throughout). It seems also that the gold cups were chalices,
and that a complete set of altar equipments fell a prey to the
Cabeleyzes, whose name the good fathers endeavour to connect with
_Cabale_ - with about as much reason as if we endeavoured to derive that
word from the ministry of Charles II.

Had I known in time of the assistance of these benevolent brethren I
would certainly have introduced them with all due honour, but, like the
Abbe Vertot, I have to say, _Mon histoire est ecrite_, and what is
worse - printed. Moreover, they do not seem to have gone on the mission
with the Marabout from Bugia, so that their presence really only accounts
for the _Te Deum_ with which the redeemed captives were welcomed.

It does not seem quite certain whether M. Dessault was Consul or Envoy; I
incline to think the latter. The translation in the _Catholic World_
speaks of Sir Arthur, but Mr. Scott's 'M. Arture' is much more
_vraisemblable_. He probably had either a surname to be concealed or
else unpronounceable to French lips. Scott must have had some further
information of the after history of Mademoiselle de Bourke since he
mentions her marriage, which could hardly have taken place when Pere
Comelin's book was published in 1720.



'Make mention thereto
Touching my much loved father's safe return,
If of his whereabouts I may best hear.'

_Odyssey_ (MUSGRAVE).

'Oh! brother, I wish they had named you Telemaque, and then it would have
been all right!'

'Why so, sister? Why should I be called by so ugly a name? I like
Ulysses much better; and it is also the name of my papa.'

'That is the very thing. His name is Ulysses, and we are going to seek
for him.'

'Oh! I hope that cruel old Mentor is not coming to tumble us down over a
great rook, like Telemaque in the picture.'

'You mean Pere le Brun?'

'Yes; you know he always says he is our Mentor. And I wish he would
change into a goddess with a helmet and a shield, with an ugly face, and
go off in a cloud. Do you think he will, Estelle?'

'Do not be so silly, Ulick; there are no goddesses now.'

'I heard M. de la Mede tell that pretty lady with the diamond butterfly
that she was his goddess; so there are!'

'You do not understand, brother. That was only flattery and compliment.
Goddesses were only in the Greek mythology, and were all over long ago!'

'But are we really going to see our papa?'

'Oh yes, mamma told me so. He is made Ambassador to Sweden, you know.'

'Is that greater than Envoy to Spain?'

'Very, very much greater. They call mamma Madame l'Ambassadrice; and she
is having three complete new dresses made. See, there are _la bonne_ and
Laurent talking. It is English, and if we go near with our cups and
balls we shall hear all about it. Laurent always knows, because my uncle
tells him.'

'You must call him _La Juenesse_ now he is made mamma's lackey. Is he
not beautiful in his new livery?'

'Be still now, brother; I want to hear what they are saying.'

This may sound somewhat sly, but French children, before Rousseau had
made them the fashion, were kept in the background, and were reduced to
picking up intelligence as best they could without any sense of its being
dishonourable to do so; and, indeed, it was more neglect than desire of
concealment that left their uninformed.

This was in 1719, four years after the accession of Louis XV., a puny
infant, to the French throne, and in the midst of the Regency of the Duke
of Orleans. The scene was a broad walk in the Tuileries gardens, beneath
a closely-clipped wall of greenery, along which were disposed alternately
busts upon pedestals, and stone vases of flowers, while beyond lay formal
beds of flowers, the gravel walks between radiating from a fountain, at
present quiescent, for it was only ten o'clock in the forenoon, and the
gardens were chiefly frequented at that hour by children and their
attendants, who, like Estelle and Ulysse de Bourke, were taking an early
walk on their way home from mass.

They were a miniature lady and gentleman of the period in costume, with
the single exception that, in consideration of their being only nine and
seven years old, their hair was free from powder. Estelle's light,
almost flaxen locks were brushed back from her forehead, and tied behind
with a rose-coloured ribbon, but uncovered, except by a tiny lace cap on
the crown of her head; Ulick's darker hair was carefully arranged in
great curls on his back and shoulders, as like a full-bottomed wig as
nature would permit, and over it he wore a little cocked hat edged with
gold lace. He had a rich laced cravat, a double-breasted waistcoat of
pale blue satin, and breeches to match, a brown velvet coat with blue
embroidery on the pockets, collar, and skirts, silk stockings to match,
as well as the knot of the tiny scabbard of the semblance of a sword at
his side, shoes with silver buckles, and altogether he might have been a
full-grown Comte or Vicomte seen through a diminishing glass. His sister
was in a full-hooped dress, with tight long waist, and sleeves reaching
to her elbows, the under skirt a pale pink, the upper a deeper rose
colour; but stiff as was the attire, she had managed to give it a slight
general air of disarrangement, to get her cap a little on one side, a
stray curl loose on her forehead, to tear a bit of the dangling lace on
her arms, and to splash her robe with a puddle. He was in air, feature,
and complexion a perfect little dark Frenchman. The contour of her face,
still more its rosy glow, were more in accordance with her surname, and
so especially were the large deep blue eyes with the long dark lashes and
pencilled brows. And there was a lively restless air about her full of
intelligence, as she manoeuvred her brother towards a stone seat, guarded
by a couple of cupids reining in sleepy-looking lions in stone, where,
under the shade of a lime-tree, her little petticoated brother of two
years old was asleep, cradled in the lap of a large, portly, handsome
woman, in a dark dress, a white cap and apron, and dark crimson cloak,
loosely put back, as it was an August day. Native costumes were then, as
now, always worn by French nurses; but this was not the garb of any
province of the kingdom, and was as Irish as the brogue in which she was
conversing with the tall fine young man who stood at ease beside her. He
was in a magnificent green and gold livery suit, his hair powdered, and
fastened in a _queue_, the whiteness contrasting with the dark brows, and
the eyes and complexion of that fine Irish type that it is the fashion to
call Milesian. He looked proud of his dress, which was viewed in those
days as eminently becoming, and did in fact display his well-made figure
and limbs to great advantage; but he looked anxiously about, and his
first inquiry on coming on the scene in attendance upon the little boy
had been -

'The top of the morning to ye, mother! And where is Victorine?'

'Arrah, and what would ye want with Victorine?' demanded the _bonne_. 'Is
not the old mother enough for one while, to feast her eyes on her an'
Lanty Callaghan, now he has shed the _marmiton's_ slough, and come out in
old Ireland's colours, like a butterfly from a palmer? La Jeunesse,
instead of Laurent here, and Laurent there.'

La Pierre and La Jeunesse were the stereotyped names of all pairs of
lackeys in French noble houses, and the title was a mark of promotion;
but Lanty winced and said, 'Have done with that, mother. You know that
never the pot nor the kettle has blacked my fingers since Master Phelim
went to the good fathers' school with me to carry his books and insinse
him with the larning. 'Tis all one, as his own body-servant that I have
been, as was fitting for his own foster-brother, till now, when not one
of the servants, barring myself and Maitre Hebert, the steward, will
follow Madame la Comtesse beyond the four walls of Paris. "Will you
desert us too, Laurent?" says the lady. "And is it me you mane, Madame,"
says I, "Sorrah a Callaghan ever deserted a Burke!" "Then," says she,
"if you will go with us to Sweden, you shall have two lackey's suits, and
a couple of _louis d'or_ to cross your pocket with by the year, forbye
the fee and bounty of all the visitors to M. le Comte." "Is it M. l'Abbe
goes with Madame?" says I. "And why not," says she. "Then," says I,
"'tis myself that is mightily obliged to your ladyship, and am ready to
put on her colours and do all in reason in her service, so as I am free
to attend to Master Phelim, that is M. l'Abbe, whenever he needs me, that
am in duty bound as his own foster-brother." "Ah, Laurent," says she,
"'tis you that are the faithful domestic. We shall all stand in need of
such good offices as we can do to one another, for we shall have a long
and troublesome, if not dangerous journey, both before and after we have
met M. le Comte."'

Estelle here nodded her head with a certain satisfaction, while the nurse
replied -

'And what other answer could the son of your father make - Heavens be his
bed - that was shot through the head by the masther's side in the weary
wars in Spain? and whom could ye be bound to serve barring Master Phelim,
that's lain in the same cradle with yees - '

'Is not Victorine here, mother?' still restlessly demanded Lanty.

'Never you heed Victorine,' replied she. 'Sure she may have a little
arrand of her own, and ye might have a word for the old mother that never
parted with you before.'

'You not going, mother!' he exclaimed.

''Tis my heart that will go with you and Masther Phelim, my jewel; but
Madame la Comtesse will have it that this weeny little darlint' - caressing
the child in her lap - 'could never bear the cold of that bare and
dissolute place in the north you are bound for, and old Madame la
Marquise, her mother, would be mad entirely if all the children left her;
but our own lady can't quit the little one without leaving his own nurse
Honor with him!'

'That's news to me intirely, mother,' said Lanty; 'bad luck to it!'

Honor laughed that half-proud, half-sad laugh of mothers when their sons
outgrow them. 'Fine talking! Much he cares for the old mother if he can
see the young girl go with him.'

For Lanty's eyes had brightened at sight of a slight little figure, trim
to the last degree, with a jaunty little cap on her dark hair, gay
trimmings to the black apron, dainty shoes and stockings that came
tripping down the path. His tongue instantly changed to French from what
he called English, as in pathetic insinuating modulations he demanded how
she could be making him weary his very heart out.

'Who bade you?' she retorted. 'I never asked you to waste your time

'And will ye not give me a glance of the eyes that have made a cinder of
my poor heart, when I am going away into the desolate north, among the
bears and the savages and the heretics?'

'There will be plenty of eyes there to look at your fine green and gold,
for the sake of the Paris cut; though a great lumbering fellow like you
does not know how to show it off!'

'And if I bring back a heretic _bru_ to break the heart of the mother,
will it not be all the fault of the cruelty of Mademoiselle Victorine?'

Here Estelle, unable to withstand Lanty's piteous intonations, broke in,
'Never mind, Laurent, Victorine goes with us. She went to be measured
for a new pair of slices on purpose!'

'Ah! I thought I should disembarrass myself of a great troublesome

'No!' retorted the boy, 'you knew Laurent was going, for Maitre Hebert
had just come in to say he must have a lackey's suit!'

'Yes,' said Estelle, 'that was when you took me in your arms and kissed
me, and said you would follow Madame la Comtesse to the end of the

The old nurse laughed heartily, but Victorine cried out, 'Does
Mademoiselle think I am going to follow naughty little girls who invent
follies? It is still free to me to change my mind. Poor Simon Claquette
is gnawing his heart out, and he is to be left _concierge_!'

The clock at the palace chimed eleven, Estelle took her brother's hand,
Honor rose with little Jacques in her arms, Victorine paced beside her,
and Lanty as La Jeunesse followed, puffing out his breast, and wielding
his cane, as they all went home to _dejeuner_.

Twenty-nine years before the opening of this narrative, just after the
battle of Boyne Water had ruined the hopes of the Stewarts in Ireland,
Sir Ulick Burke had attended James II. in his flight from Waterford; and
his wife had followed him, attended by her two faithful servants, Patrick
Callaghan, and his wife Honor, carrying her mistress's child on her
bosom, and her own on her back.

Sir Ulick, or Le Chevalier Bourke, as the French called him, had no
scruple in taking service in the armies of Louis XIV. Callaghan followed
him everywhere, while Honor remained a devoted attendant on her lady,
doubly bound to her by exile and sorrow.

Little Ulick Burke's foster-sister died, perhaps because she had always
been made second to him through all the hardships and exposure of the
journey. Other babes of both lady and nurse had succumbed to the
mortality which beset the children of that generation, and the only
survivors besides the eldest Burke and one daughter were the two youngest
of each mother, and they had arrived so nearly at the same time that
Honor Callaghan could again be foster-mother to Phelim Burke, a sickly
child, reared with great difficulty.

The family were becoming almost French. Sir Ulick was an intimate friend
of one of the noblest men of the day, James Fitz-James, Marshal Duke of
Berwick, who united military talent, almost equal to that of his uncle of
Marlborough, to an unswerving honour and integrity very rare in those
evil times. Under him, Sir Ulick fought in the campaigns that finally
established the House of Bourbon upon the throne of Spain, and the
younger Ulick or Ulysse, as his name had been classicalised and
Frenchified, was making his first campaign as a mere boy at the time of
the battle of Almanza, that solitary British defeat, for which our
national consolation is that the French were commanded by an Englishman,
the Duke of Berwick, and the English by a Frenchman, the Huguenot
Rubigne, Earl of Galway. The first English charge was, however, fatal to
the Chevalier Bourke, who fell mortally wounded, and in the endeavour to
carry him off the field the faithful Callaghan likewise fell. Sir Ulick
lived long enough to be visited by the Duke, and to commend his children
to his friend's protection.

Berwick was held to be dry and stiff, but he was a faithful friend, and
well redeemed his promise. The eldest son, young as he was, obtained as
wife the daughter of the Marquis de Varennes, and soon distinguished
himself both in war and policy, so as to receive the title of Comte de

The French Church was called on to provide for the other two children.
The daughter, Alice, became a nun in one of the Parisian convents, with
promises of promotion. The younger son, Phelim, was weakly in health,
and of intellect feeble, if not deficient, and was almost dependent on
the devoted care and tenderness of his foster-brother, Laurence
Callaghan. Nobody was startled when Berwick's interest procured for the
dull boy of ten years old the Abbey of St. Eudoce in Champagne. To be
sure the responsibilities were not great, for the Abbey had been burnt
down a century and a half ago by the Huguenots, and there had never been
any monks in it since, so the only effect was that little Phelim Burke
went by the imposing title of Monsieur l'Abbe de St. Eudoce, and his
family enjoyed as much of the revenues of the estates of the Abbey as the
Intendant thought proper to transmit to them. He was, to a certain
degree, ecclesiastically educated, having just memory enough to retain
for recitation the tasks that Lanty helped him to learn, and he could
copy the themes or translations made for him by his faithful companion.
Neither boy had the least notion of unfairness or deception in this
arrangement: it was only the natural service of the one to the other, and
if it were perceived in the Fathers of the Seminary, whither Lanty daily
conducted the young Abbot, they winked at it. Nor, though the
quick-witted Lanty thus acquired a considerable amount of learning, no
idea occurred to him of availing himself of it for his own advantage. It
sat outside him, as it were, for 'Masther Phelim's' use; and he no more
thought of applying it to his own elevation than he did of wearing the
_soutane_ he brushed for his young master.

The Abbe was now five-and-twenty, had received the tonsure, and had been
admitted to minor Orders, but there was no necessity for him to proceed
any farther unless higher promotion should be accorded to him in
recompense of his brother's services. He was a gentle, amiable being,
not at all fit to take care of himself; and since the death of his
mother, he had been the charge of his brother and sister-in-law, or
perhaps more correctly speaking, of the Dowager Marquise de Varennes, for
all the branches of the family lived together in the Hotel de Varennes at
Paris, or its chateau in the country, and the fine old lady ruled over

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA Modern Telemachus → online text (page 1 of 14)