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ly, 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 im. mense 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 Mor. daunt," 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 himelf, would have probably been disregarded, had not the mes. senger 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 calm. ness, sufficient 10 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 thou. sand 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 inrented 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 wer
sprung at the same moment, and which, Aying 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 has 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 errour, 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 after. wards confessed to me, that it was well all was settled.
Yet, strange to say, when a few years after, Mordaunt and another genLeman 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 adver. sary, 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 shuffing, cutting, and dealing way. Of this an instance is well known. Mordaunt observed that one of his ad. versaries 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, More daunt'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 errour. 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 superi
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. I 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 cid, 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 supposi. tions, 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 folo 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 leves VOL.
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
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 bad just stuck his fork into a duck, when Suffrein, with great good nature, but under no small astonishment, observed, that he had for. got 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 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 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 respecto ed, 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
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, I know not how it could be rendered in English, that point which entitles it to our admiration.
so as to retain