Chapter 2548383

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Chapter NumberThe Last Chapter
Chapter TitleThe Destroyer
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2548383
Full Date1838-02-20
Page Number4
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Word Count4714
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Last Corrected2009-06-03
Newspaper TitleThe Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842)
Trove TitlePassages from the Diary of a late Physician
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Passages from the "Diary of a late

Physician -The last Chapter.. v (From Blackwood's Magazine, August, 1837.)

THE DESTROYER.

'_(.Continued from our last.)

" Tell his Boyal Highness," said he, " tha 11 am very grateful for his cora ^descensión ; and the moment I am able I will attend, him personally to say as

much. '

" I was not exactly authorised," said Lord-?, " to mention it to you, hut you aie to have the-th ; I heard his lîoyaj Highness say as much."

" Pray tell his Royal Highness," re- plied the Colonel, with a melancholy air, " that I cannot accept it-for I return to India by the next ship !"

" Good God ! Colonel St Helen,-re- turn to India ?" echoed Loi d-, w ith an air of infinite astonishment.

" Can I remain in England ?" sud- denly enquired the Colonel-with a look that silenced Lord-, hastily rising and standing for a few moments \\ it Ii his back turned towards him, evidently over- powered with his feelings. Neither spoke

for a few moments.

" I cannot tell this to his Royal High- ness," said Loid-; " I know he will ask me about every thing that has passed

at our interview."

" Then tell him, my Lord, my last words to you, were, that my heart is 'broken, but my will is not. I shall go

to India if I live-and that as soon as .possible !"

..Lord ? saw that he was inflexi- ble, and abstained from further impor-

tunities.

Three months had now elapsed from tho day on w hich Colonel St. Helen ar rhed in England to encounter so fell a blight of his fondest hopes, his brightest prospects ; ana he had made his final and gloomy preparations for letuining to India. Notwithstanding the sympa- thizing and affectionate attachment of General and Mr-.. Ogilvie, had it not Ticen for the daily sight of his chi'dren those innocent, helpless, desei led beings,

whom he was himself about to desert

lie would have lost almost all sympathy with mankind. His heart yearned to- wards his little sons-but his resolution

had been taken, and was nnchangcable, to íeturn to India, and amidst the scenes of direful carnage he had there quitted, to seek, in an honourable death, release

from the agonies he suffered. He ar- ranged all his affairs evidently on the hasis of his bing about to take leave of England for ever. His purposes with reference to his childien might have been varied, but for tlie fond and zealous guar

diana for them he found in General and

Mrs. Ogilvie. It was not till within

very short period of his departure, that

lie could bear to ask from the former a

detailed account of all that had happened. «He heard the name of Alveiley men- tioned in silence. He enquired for a while where he w as supposed to be, and never again alluded to him. The name of Mrs. St. Helen never escaped "his lips.

When he presented himself before tlie Commander-in-Chief, he met with a most gracious reception. His Royal Highness phook'him warmly by the hand, and with a quivering lip assured him of his sym- pathy and personal regard.

" Is your resolution to return to India, "Colonel St, Helen, unalteiable ?" en- quired the Duke. The Colonel bowed ; his air and manner satisfied the Duke of the usclessness of expostulation. No , in vain were the entreaties of roj'alty ; in vain the passionate tears and embraces of his sibter ; in vain the energetic remon .strances of General Ogilvie ; in vain were his children flung by his sister into his arms and upon his knees in an ecstacy »of grief. His darkening countenance

told how vain were all such appeals. His passage was engaged in a ship quit- ting the Thames in a few days' time. H is servants had already packed up al-

most all that was to be taken aboard.

The dreaded morning arrived ; he ten- derly embraced his sister and his children 'before setting off for town ; finally, as be Jiad determined, but only for a few hours *«s ihey supposed, understanding that he

would -return in the afternoon to bid them adieu Tor ever.

While he and General Ogilvie were waiting in a back room at Messrs.-, "the army agents, wheie lie wished to make'some final pecuniary arrangements, his eye happened to fall upon a paragraph, which lie read w ith almost a suspension of his breath, and a face suddenly flushed

with excitement.

" Ogilvie !" paid he, turning to his

tistonisned brother-in-law a countenance

»that had quickly become white as death, and sjjeaking in a t tally different voice from any that had been heard fi om him since his illness, "Ishall not go to India. At all events, not at present."

" I am delighted to hear it," said the <General, confounded with the suddenness of the information as much as at the .manner in which it was conveyed ; " but, .good God, w hat has happened ? what lias agitated you ?"

"I am not agitated," replied Colonel St. Helen, with a violent effort to speak calmly, at the same time rising from his chair, and folding up the newspaper he had "been reading. " Can you spaie this?"_said,~be to the clerk whom he had summoned into tlie room. He was an- swered in the affirmative. Then you may ?tell Mr. - to give himbelf no further trouble about the business I called upon ; b' so good as to tell bira that I have .made some change in my arrangements. Shall -we walk home, Ogilvie f" they quitted Messrs. --'s immediately.

" St. Helen," said General Ogilvie, tis they left, w J protest that I will not return home with you till you have told me frankly what has occasioned this most .extraordinary change of manner and pur pose'?

"My dear Ogilvie, yon shall know all. R' ad this," said the Colqnel, taking out tlie new spaper, and unfolding it, he pointed out tlie following paragraph :

" By the death of the Right Hon Lord ' Seckington, Captain Alverley, formerly of the-Guards, succeeds to the ti tie and estates, which are gi eat, as well as to the splendid accumulations o? landed property said to have been made by the late Lord S., who has be

qlienflicd every tiling to the present 'Lord Seckington. Ile is now abroad, but is ipiaily expected in ?-Street."

" Well 1" exclaimed tlie General, after liaving read the paragraph tw ice over, in perturbed silence, returning tlie paper " of course, it ia easy to guess your in,

tentions."

" Intentions !" exclaimed Colonel St. Helen, with great vivacity, " this is ihe first time I have breathed freely since my arrival in England ?"

" Do you, then, really think of meet- ing this man?" enquired the General, gravely, after a pu<e.

" Meet him ? Do I intend to meet /¿zwA-^Ogilvie, you vex mel" îcplied Colonel St Helen, briskly and bitterly, ,at the same lime insensiby quickening his pace. He dragged his companion along in silence, at such a rapid j ate, that they were half through the Park before either-deeply engaged with hi<* thoughts-had again spoken.

" Let me see-how shall I know when lie arrives in Loudon ?" said the Colonel, abruptly, as if he had thought aloud.

" Oíi, there cannot be much difliculty about that," replied the General, who had '.atisfied himself of the hopelessness of altempting to dissuade Colonel St. Helen from his evident purpose.-" I « ill do all that you can possibly desii e,

since"

" Dear Ogilvie-my dear, good bro- ther," said the Colonel, with affectionate energy, " do not think I «nail permit you to J>e at all involved in this affair. Áiischief may como of it-I cannot de- prive my sister and my children of your pieaence, even for a moment."

" You shall not meet him unless I am at your elbow," /interrupted the General, willi a determined air ;"," Ï can be finn,

;ow »perfectly

s., - v J^suJKJf you that my ¿nind iSjfixed ynalle^l^ly^It cannot be ; "it shall no1 be^ ftfiij*w£.fall at the fir'it fireif I permit youJîM&MJn the ground. 1 could not aim steaîfïjyjf you were there. No-I jiaye gotiiany' man. Darnley will»-1: ~.r

" I hauy our professed duellists," in- terrupted the General with irrepressible agitation.

" They are made for such an affair as mine !" exclaimed .Colonel St. Helen, with a kind of cheerfulness that wa3 sick- ening.

General Ogilvie had never seen such a remarkable change so quickly effected in

any one.

" Have you thought of your poor boys ?" said ho, as they approached

home.

" Thank God that my sister is your wife ; that you are my brother-in-law !

exclaimed Colonel St. Helen, in a more subdued tone than that in which he had

been hitherto speaking ; " they cannot

be belter off !"

" This scoundrel lins no such tics ! You don't meet on equal terms."

" Perhaps not exactly, hut-my bul let will spoil his pretty coronet too !" ne paused, and a grim smile passed over his features. " Poor devil," he added with a bitter air, " I would give a trifle to be present when Major Darnley first calls upon him ! It will try his mettle, rather won't it?" almost laughing-but such a laugh. J

" Really St Helen, this has turned| you into a devil !" exclaimed General Ogilvie.

" Tho best thing that the old Lord Seckington ever did," said Colonel St. Helen to himself, but aloud-as if he had not heard his companion's remark, " was to die, exactly when he did die ; the best thing that has happened to the new Lord Seckington was, to become Lord Seckington exactly when he did become Lor.d Seckington ; and the next best thing was, that I should rome to know of it just when I did come to know

of it."

"You are certainly, my dear St. Helen, the most cruelly injured man breathing," said General Ogilvie, after they had walked for some minutes in silence," and noboby has a right to inter- fere with you !"

" I should think not" replied Colonel St. Helen, in the same short bitter tones in which he had been all along speaking. Ogilvie !" he added, turning suddenly, and looking him full in the face, " no treachery ! By your honour as a soldier and a gentleman, no interference in any way !"

" I should have thought that such an appeal was perfectly unnecessary," re- plied the General, coldly.

" Oh, forgive me ! forgive me, Ogil- vie!' Remember my sufferings j I was wrong, I know it.''

" Iluive nothing to forgive, St. Helen," replied General Ogilvie, with a quivering lip. " By my God, I will be true to you in every thing."

" And I will be true to myself, Ogil- vie.-You shall see !" rejoined the Colonel grasping his hand, and shaking it cor- dially.-" And now what must we say to my sister to prevent suspicion ?"

<< Oh ! we must say that your ship does not sail for a fortnight, or something of that kind-it will be no'difficult thing to deceive her, poor thing!" said the General with a deep sigh.,

" Hardy,!' said Colonel St. Helen, ad- dressing his groom, whom he had sent

for as soon as he reached his own room at

General Ogilvie'-s, and putting two gui- neas into his hand, " go directly and station yourself at the corner of

strect, and watch number-, which is Lord Seckington's. Say not a word to any body, but be on the look-out night and day ; the moment you see a travel- ling carriage-or any thing of that sort -go np to the door, presently enquire who it is that has come ; if you Jicar that it is Loul Seckington, come off to me at the top of your speed- it shall be the best half-hour's work you ever did in your li e-ask quietly-quietly, mind, to see me and tell me your news. To nobody but mo, sir."

Hardy was a keen and faithful fellow ; and in about an hour's time he was to be seen lurking about-street, in exact obedience to his master's orders.

What I subsequently learnt form several quarters I may state here, in order to keep up the course of the narrative, and the

¡bitter to explain the events which remain

to be described.

I was right in supposing that Captain Alverley and Mrs. St. Helen went direct to the Continent ; but of their move- ments when there I scarce know any thing. Her wild and frantic agonies of remorse at the step she had taken were scarcely calculated to increase the attach- ment of her heartless companion, whose satiated eye beheld tlie beauty which had so long fevered his soul daily disappear- ing. Even had it been otherwise-had

>he retained all the fascination and love- liness of her manners, the novelty of the . affair had wore off) he had gained his object-and she perceived his altering feelings. To her guilty affrighted soul, indeed,-»

" The hollow tongue of time

? was a perpetual knell. Kncfi stroke Pealed for a hope the less ; the funeral note Of lore deep buried without resui ruction, In the grave of possession."

When he discovered the incurable nature

of her mental sufferings,-that whirling

her about from one scene of amusement

to another failed of its object-he began to complain that his funds were running low. He had, in truth, long been greatly embarrassed and involved,- yet he con- trived to appear possessed of all the wealth and to enjoy all the luxuries and elegancies that penniless young men of fashion so mysteriously secure for them- selves. Now, however, the money he had obtained from Mrs. St. Helen, as well as a few hundreds that had been supplied to him by a brother reprobate in order to carry on the intrigue, had almost disappeared. He began to feel himself placed in awkward circumstances. What is a penniless man of fashion in Paris? Captain Alverley besides was burdened with the perpetual presence of a woman who was weeping bitterly from morning till night-frequently in violent hysterics and who vehemently reproachel him with being the author of all her misery. He soon began to sicken of all this. Was it for this that he had quitted all the plea- sures of London, and lost all his hopes of advancement in the army? Paris was a very pleasant place, and he could have enjoyed himself there but for this un- fortunate and-as he soon felt and ex- pressed it-most disgusting affair. He therefore began to loathe the very sight of his miserable companion. It was un- questionably with a feeling of keen regret that he found lier brought home one night dripping from the Seine, after an abortive attempt at selfdestruction, to which his cold sarcastic repartees had impelled his half-maddened victim. The poor Captain was to be pitied-his bold and dashing adventure had turned out most unfortunately ! Instead of the bril- liant beauty he had reckoned on having secured for at least a year or two in Mrs. St. Helen, he beheld it suddenly withered and gone, and there was ever with bim a haggard woman, tearing her hair, wring- ing her hands, and frantically taxing him with being her destroyer. In vam he sought to escape from it-she would never.leave him! He had returned to London to endeavour to raise funds ; his unlucky encounter with the Com mander-in-Chief sent bira back jn a fury to Paris. He had never felt himself in

such an extremity ; and he determined, after much bitter reflection, that could he but once get extricated from this unfor- tunate adventure, he would never again

undertake one on so extensive a scale.

Of a sudden, however, an express from London brought lum news that electrified him with delight,-a delight which, in the enthusiasm of the moment, he attempted to communicate to his gloomy companion. By the death of his aged uncle he had become Lord Seckingfon ; the proprietor of Secking ton Castle, in-shire ; one or two other houses in different parts of the country; and asplendidmansion in

Street ; with a rent-roll of upwards of .£25,000 a-year, and not less than £200,000 in the funds. At the first im- pulse of his general feelings he deter- mined to settle upon Mts. St. Helen the sum of £300 a-year, which he permitted her to spend whereever she choose ~ of- fering to give her a thousand pounds in addition if she would not return to Eng- land. She began, however, now to be .unreasonable ; and affected to receive his liberal proposal willi consternation !

And was it really then possible that, after all he had said,and done, she was not to become Lady Seckington ! Even

if Colonel St. Helen should take success-

ful proceedings for a divorce ? Horror

horror unutterable !

The next communication that reached

Lord Seckington consisted chiefly of pressing entreaties from his solicitor, and that of his lamented uncle, the late Lord Seckington, that he would lose no time in coming to London, as there were many matters requiring his immediate attention. He was glad to see their letters accom- panied with one thatbore the handwriting of his intimate friend Captain Leicester. He opened it and read thus,

" Dear Seckington

-Pshaw, how odd it looks ! Of course I congratu'ate you, as every body does. Don't cut your old friends, that's all. But I wish chiefly to say-wait abroad a little, only till the excitement of the story has gone down. That d-d unhappy devil St. H-, is in town ; but I hear he's going back to Indirr in double-quick time. Would it not be as well to wait till he's off, and tho coast is

clear ?

" Eternally yours,

" F. LElCESTEIt."

" The Right Hon. Lord Seckington."

On perusingthis well-timed and friendly letter, it suddenly occurred to Lord Seckington that be had certainly various matters of importance to settle in differ- ent parts of the Continent ; and so he wrote to his solicitors-infinitely to their astonishment and vexation. He was preparing to set off for Brussels two or three days afterwards, when another letter reached bim from the same friendly and vigilant pen.

(Private.)

" London, 8th August, l8-. " Dear Seckington.

" What the deuce is in the wind, per- haps you can better guess than I can tell ; but 1 lose no time in writing, to say that Colonel St. Helen, who had appointed to

sail to Tndia Cas I told you in my letter 1 of the other day), and taken leave of every body in a gloomy w ay, to seek an honourable 'grave, &c. &c. &c, has suddenly changed his mind, counter- manded all his arrangements, and stops in London ! ! Every one is amazed at this queer move. I have .reason to Jiiiow that he had actually engaged his passage by a ship that started two or tlnee days ago, and has forfeited all the passage money. This certainly loiks cursedly unpleasant-are we to look out for a squall ? Do you think he has seen that offensive, impertinent paragraph about you in the papers, and is waiting for you ? If so, you are in a d-d awk- ward predicament, and I really scarce know how to advise you. It will hardly do to keep out of the way a little longer, will it ? Ask-, and-, and above all, Count .. Ever yours, more and more, F. L."

As Lord Seckington read this let- ter his face gradually became as white as the paper he looked upon. Seve- ral letters lay on the table beforo him unopened and unattended to. With .Captain Leicester's in his hand, he re- mained motionless for nearly half an hour ; at the expiration of which period he was on the point of going into his bed room and putting the muzzle of a pistol into his ear. Probably what he endured

in that brief interval counterbalanced all the pleasure of his whole life. Lord Seckington was a frightful reprobate, but he was no coward ; on the contrary, he

was as cool and brave a man as ever wore

epaulets. But consider his situation.

Here he was scarcely thirty vears old suddenly become a peer of the realm, having succeeded to a very ancient title ; and with all appliances and means to boot

-all that coula secure him

" Honor, wealth, obedience-troops of friends."

in short, occupying as brilliant a position as man could well be placed in ; yet amidst all the dazzling prospect that was opened before him, his eye lit and settled upon one fell figure only-that of Colonel St. Helen, standing at ten or twelve paces from him, his outstretched arm steadily pointing a p'stol at his head. It was per- fectly frightful.

What would he have cared for it in the

heyday of his career as Captain Alverley; or rather as he was only a few short days before, desperately in debt, driven from the army, disgusted willi the presence and

stunned with the shrieks of a woman lie had long loathed ; but now-Perdition ! The cold sweat stood upon his brow, and he felt sick to death. What was to be done ? He could not keep out of the way-the spirit of man could not endure the idea of such cow ardice ; no, his coro- net should never be defiled by the head of a coward. So there was no alterna-

tive. To London he must go, and that without delay, with the all but certainty tliat within a few hours of his arrivai, Colonel St. Helen would have avenged all the wrongs he had suffered by sending a bullet through the head of him that had

inflicted them. These were the dreadful

thoughts that were passing through his mind, when the spectre stood suddenly

before him, Mrs. St. Helen, who then happened to enter his room-all her beauty gone, a truly " lamentable object."

" Well, madam," commenced Lord Seckington, bitterly and fiercely, " I am going to London, to be shot at by your d-d husband. He will certainly kill hie ; that is, if I do not first"-The latter part of this fiendish speech was lo3t upon Mrs. St. Helen, who had fallen down into a swoon. He immediately summoned assistance into the room, and then quitted it, hastily gathering up his letters ; but, by some fatality, leaving

behind him the one which had occasioned him his horrible agonies - Captain Leices- ter's. It fell into the hands of Mrs. St. Helen's maid, who communicated its direftd contents to Mrs. St. Helen, but not till after Lord Seckington had quitted Paris. He hurried to his bedroom, and after drinking off a large glass of Cogniac, he dressed, and set off to consult with one or two " experienced" friends upon the only matter that now occupied his mind-whether the laws of duelling would admit, under the circumstances of his expected meeting with Colonel St. Helen, of his shooting at his antagonist, in the first instance, which would afford him, he considered, the only chance he had of saving a life he was just then particularly anxious to preserve.

" You must give him," said Colonel

? ? , a considerable authority in such matters, " two shots, in my opinion, and even a third, if the first two have had no eifert ; and then you may do as you

will."

" Pho !" exclaimed Lord Seckington, with undisguised trepidation.

" Well,'' replied the Colonel quietly, " you may say pho ! if you like, but you asked my opinion, and you have it. I have known it acted upon several times, and never objected to."

" Is your friend a good shot ?" enquired Count-, a little fire-eater as ever

breathed.

" I should say, in all probability, as good as myself."

The Count shrugged lib shoulders. " Ah, that is_very bad ! I think you may shoot at your friend at the very first, by

accident." .

" That's not exactly the way maP" ters are settled in England, Count,'* interrupted Colonel -, sharply ;

the vivacious Frenchman retorted ; one word led on another, and that evening tliey went through a little duel-scene of their own ; Lord Seckington being actually compelled to stand second to his countryman ! On returning to his hotel, he found the cards of almost every one of his most distinguished countrymen then resident in Paris lying on his table. He turned sick atheaitas he looked upon them. He fonnd that Mrs. St. Helen was still in a state of insensibility ; and he embraced the opportunity it afforded liiin of preparing for his immediate de- parture : but not before he had left suffi- cient funds to provide for her comforts till he could send her further assistance from London, if, indeed, she did not first receive the intelligence of his death. Early in the ensuing morning he set out, with much the same thoughts and feelings as those with which a man might pass

through beautiful scenery on his way to l the guilotine. ¡

Perhaps it might not be exaggeration to say that he endured ihe tortures of fie damned ; and when his postchaise aid four drew up opposite the frowning portals of his house in-Street, he stepped out of it pale as death, and scarce able to conceal his agitation from the ob- sequious menials who lined the hall to receive their n w lord. " How long will they be mine ?"

Jls soon as the bustle of his arrival was over, and while the emptied chaise was being led away from the door, a 1 groom, who might have been observed goitering about the street, stepped up, ?ently pulled the area-bell," and inquired ^ that was Lord Seckington who had ar

rived ? Ile w as rather tartly answered in the affirmative by a bustling servant. The groom sauntered down the street ; but as

soon as he had turned the corner he ran

as if a pack of beagles had been at hi» heels, and scarce ever stopped until he had reached General Ogilvie's. He sue ceeded in communicating his pregnant intelligence to Colonel St. Helen, with- out having excited the suspicion of any one m the house ; "which Colonel St. Helen quitted a few minutes afterwards.

About seven o'clock the same evening a gentleman knocked at the door of Lord Seckington's house. Having been in- formed that his lordship was very parti- cularly engaged, the stranaer desired to bo shown into the library, where he would wait his lordship's leisure, as he had a very pressing engagement with him. The servant accordingly ushered him into the library, and took up to Lord Seckington the card of Mnjor Darrley. He had not long to wait ; for in less than five minutes the door was opened, and Lord Secking- ton entered in his dressing gown.

" Major Darnley, I presume ?" he en- quired, politely advancing towards his visitor, who rose and bowed. Lord Seckington, who looked pale and fatigued with travelling, apologised for his delay in attending the Major, and also for his dress, on the score of his having not yet had time to cha ge it.

" I need only mention the name of Colonel St. Helen, my Lord," saitl Major Darnley, in a low tone, " to apprise your Lordship of the painful nature of my

errand."

"Certainly- I perfectly understand," replied Lord Seckington, rather hastily.

" Of course, my Lord, the sooner this affair is settled the" better I "

(To be concluded in our next,)