The Relics of General Chasse, A Tale of Antwerp
by Anthony Trollope
That Belgium is now one of the European kingdoms, living by its own
laws, resting on its own bottom, with a king and court, palaces and
parliament of its own, is known to all the world. And a very nice
little kingdom it is; full of old towns, fine Flemish pictures, and
interesting Gothic churches. But in the memory of very many of us
who do not think ourselves old men, Belgium, as it is now calledin
those days it used to be Flanders and Brabantwas a part of
Holland; and it obtained its own independence by a revolution. In
that revolution the most important military step was the siege of
Antwerp, which was defended on the part of the Dutch by General
Chasse, with the utmost gallantry, but nevertheless ineffectually.
After the siege Antwerp became quite a show place; and among the
visitors who flocked there to talk of the gallant general, and to
see what remained of the great effort which he had made to defend
the place, were two Englishmen. One was the hero of this little
history; and the other was a young man of considerably less weight
in the world. The less I say of the latter the better; but it is
necessary that I should give some description of the former.
The Rev. Augustus Horne was, at the time of my narrative, a
beneficed clergyman of the Church of England. The profession which
he had graced sat easily on him. Its external marks and signs were
as pleasing to his friends as were its internal comforts to himself.
He was a man of much quiet mirth, full of polished wit, and on some
rare occasions he could descend to the more noisy hilarity of a
joke. Loved by his friends he loved all the world. He had known no
care and seen no sorrow. Always intended for holy orders he had
entered them without a scruple, and remained within their pale
without a regret. At twenty-four he had been a deacon, at twenty-
seven a priest, at thirty a rector, and at thirty-five a prebendary;
and as his rectory was rich and his prebendal stall well paid, the
Rev. Augustus Horne was called by all, and called himself, a happy
man. His stature was about six feet two, and his corpulence
exceeded even those bounds which symmetry would have preferred as
being most perfectly compatible even with such a height. But
nevertheless Mr. Horne was a well-made man; his hands and feet were
small; his face was handsome, frank, and full of expression; his
bright eyes twinkled with humour; his finely-cut mouth disclosed two
marvellous rows of well-preserved ivory; and his slightly aquiline
nose was just such a projection as one would wish to see on the face
of a well-fed good-natured dignitary of the Church of England. When
I add to all this that the reverend gentleman was as generous as he
was richand the kind mother in whose arms he had been nurtured had
taken care that he should never wantI need hardly say that I was
blessed with a very pleasant travelling companion.
I must mention one more interesting particular. Mr. Horne was rather
inclined to dandyism, in an innocent way. His clerical starched
neckcloth was always of the whitest, his cambric handkerchief of the
finest, his bands adorned with the broadest border; his sable suit
never degenerated to a rusty brown; it not only gave on all
occasions glossy evidence of freshness, but also of the talent which
the artisan had displayed in turning out a well-dressed clergyman of
the Church of England. His hair was ever brushed with scrupulous
attention, and showed in its regular waves the guardian care of each
separate bristle. And all this was done with that ease and grace
which should be the characteristics of a dignitary of the
established English Church.
I had accompanied Mr. Horne to the Rhine; and we had reached
Brussels on our return, just at the close of that revolution which
ended in affording a throne to the son-in-law of George the Fourth.
At that moment General Chasse's name and fame were in every man's
mouth, and, like other curious admirers of the brave, Mr. Horne
determined to devote two days to the scene of the late events at
Antwerp. Antwerp, moreover, possesses perhaps the finest spire, and
certainly one of the three or four finest pictures, in the world.
Of General Chasse, of the cathedral, and of the Rubens, I had heard
much, and was therefore well pleased that such should be his
resolution. This accomplished we were to return to Brussels; and
thence, via Ghent, Ostend, and Dover, I to complete my legal studies
in London, and Mr. Horne to enjoy once more the peaceful retirement
of Ollerton rectory. As we were to be absent from Brussels but one
night we were enabled to indulge in the gratification of travelling
without our luggage. A small sac-de-nuit was prepared; brushes,
combs, razors, strops, a change of linen, &c. &c., were carefully
put up; but our heavy baggage, our coats, waistcoats, and other
wearing apparel were unnecessary. It was delightful to feel oneself
so light-handed. The reverend gentleman, with my humble self by his
side, left the portal of the Hotel de Belle Vue at 7 a.m., in good
humour with all the world. There were no railroads in those days;
but a cabriolet, big enough to hold six persons, with rope traces
and corresponding appendages, deposited us at the Golden Fleece in
something less than six hours. The inward man was duly fortified,
and we started for the castle.
It boots not here to describe the effects which gunpowder and grape-
shot had had on the walls of Antwerp. Let the curious in these
matters read the horrors of the siege of Troy, or the history of
Jerusalem taken by Titus. The one may be found in Homer, and the
other in Josephus. Or if they prefer doings of a later date there
is the taking of Sebastopol, as narrated in the columns of the
"Times" newspaper. The accounts are equally true, instructive, and
intelligible. In the mean time allow the Rev. Augustus Horne and
myself to enter the private chambers of the renowned though defeated
We rambled for a while through the covered way, over the glacis and
along the counterscarp, and listened to the guide as he detailed to
us, in already accustomed words, how the siege had gone. Then we
got into the private apartments of the general, and, having
dexterously shaken off our attendant, wandered at large among the
"It is clear that no one ever comes here," said I.
"No," said the Rev. Augustus; "it seems not; and to tell the truth,
I don't know why any one should come. The chambers in themselves
are not attractive."
What he said was true. They were plain, ugly, square, unfurnished
rooms, here a big one, and there a little one, as is usual in most
houses;unfurnished, that is, for the most part. In one place we
did find a table and a few chairs, in another a bedstead, and so on.
But to me it was pleasant to indulge in those ruminations which any
traces of the great or unfortunate create in softly sympathising
minds. For a time we communicated our thoughts to each other as we
roamed free as air through the apartments; and then I lingered for a
few moments behind, while Mr. Horne moved on with a quicker step.
At last I entered the bedchamber of the general, and there I
overtook my friend. He was inspecting, with much attention, an
article of the great man's wardrobe which he held in his hand. It
was precisely that virile habiliment to which a well-known gallant
captain alludes in his conversation with the posthumous appearance
of Miss Bailey, as containing a Bank of England 5 pound note.
"The general must have been a large man, George, or he would hardly
have filled these," said Mr. Horne, holding up to the light the
respectable leathern articles in question. "He must have been a
very large man,the largest man in Antwerp, I should think; or else
his tailor has done him more than justice."
They were certainly large, and had about them a charming regimental
military appearance. They were made of white leather, with bright
metal buttons at the knees and bright metal buttons at the top.
They owned no pockets, and were, with the exception of the
legitimate outlet, continuous in the circumference of the waistband.
No dangling strings gave them an appearance of senile imbecility.
Were it not for a certain rigidity, sternness, and mental
inflexibility,we will call it military ardour,with which they
were imbued, they would have created envy in the bosom of a fox-
Mr. Horne was no fox-hunter, but still he seemed to be irresistibly
taken with the lady-like propensity of wishing to wear them.
"Surely, George," he said, "the general must have been a stouter man
than I am"and he contemplated his own proportions with
complacency"these what's-the-names are quite big enough for me."
I differed in opinion, and was obliged to explain that I thought he
did the good living of Ollerton insufficient justice.
"I am sure they are large enough for me," he repeated, with
considerable obstinacy. I smiled incredulously; and then to settle
the matter he resolved that he would try them on. Nobody had been
in these rooms for the last hour, and it appeared as though they
were never visited. Even the guide had not come on with us, but was
employed in showing other parties about the fortifications. It was
clear that this portion of the building was left desolate, and that
the experiment might be safely made. So the sportive rector
declared that he would for a short time wear the regimentals which
had once contained the valorous heart of General Chasse.
With all decorum the Rev. Mr. Horne divested himself of the work of
the London artist's needle, and, carefully placing his own garments
beyond the reach of dust, essayed to fit himself in military garb.
At that important momentat the critical instant of the attempt
the clatter of female voices was heard approaching the chamber.
They must have suddenly come round some passage corner, for it was
evident by the sound that they were close upon us before we had any
warning of their advent. At this very minute Mr. Horne was somewhat
embarrassed in his attempts, and was not fully in possession of his
usual active powers of movement, nor of his usual presence of mind.
He only looked for escape; and seeing a door partly open, he with
difficulty retreated through it, and I followed him. We found that
we were in a small dressing-room; and as by good luck the door was
defended by an inner bolt, my friend was able to protect himself.
"There shall be another siege, at any rate as stout as the last,
before I surrender," said he.
As the ladies seemed inclined to linger in the room it became a
matter of importance that the above-named articles should fit, not
only for ornament but for use. It was very cold, and Mr. Horne was
altogether unused to move in a Highland sphere of life. But alas,
alas! General Chasse had not been nurtured in the classical
retirement of Ollerton. The ungiving leather would stretch no point
to accommodate the divine, though it had been willing to minister to
the convenience of the soldier. Mr. Horne was vexed and chilled;
and throwing the now hateful garments into a corner, and protecting
himself from the cold as best he might by standing with his knees
together and his body somewhat bent so as to give the skirts of his
coat an opportunity of doing extra duty, he begged me to see if
those jabbering females were not going to leave him in peace to
recover his own property. I accordingly went to the door, and
opening it to a small extent I peeped through.
Who shall describe my horror at the sight which I then saw? The
scene, which had hitherto been tinted with comic effect, was now
becoming so decidedly tragic that I did not dare at once to acquaint
my worthy pastor with that which was occurring,and, alas! had
Five country-women of our ownit was easy to know them by their
dress and general aspectwere standing in the middle of the room;
and one of them, the centre of the group, the senior harpy of the
lot, a maiden ladyI could have sworn to thatwith a red nose,
held in one hand a huge pair of scissors, and in the otherthe
already devoted goods of my most unfortunate companion! Down from
the waistband, through that goodly expanse, a fell gash had already
gone through and through; and in useless, unbecoming disorder the
broadcloth fell pendant from her arm on this side and on that. At
that moment I confess that I had not the courage to speak to Mr.
Horne,not even to look at him.
I must describe that group. Of the figure next to me I could only
see the back. It was a broad back done up in black silk not of the
newest. The whole figure, one may say, was dumpy. The black silk
was not long, as dresses now are worn, nor wide in its skirts. In
every way it was skimpy, considering the breadth it had to cover;
and below the silk I saw the heels of two thick shoes, and enough to
swear by of two woollen stockings. Above the silk was a red and
blue shawl; and above that a ponderous, elaborate brown bonnet, as
to the materials of which I should not wish to undergo an
examination. Over and beyond this I could only see the backs of her
two hands. They were held up as though in wonder at that which the
red-nosed holder of the scissors had dared to do.
Opposite to this lady, and with her face fully tamed to me, was a
kindly-looking, fat motherly woman, with light-coloured hair, not in
the best order. She was hot and scarlet with exercise, being
perhaps too stout for the steep steps of the fortress; and in one
hand she held a handkerchief, with which from time to time she wiped
her brow. In the other hand she held one of the extremities of my
friend's property, feelinggood, careful soul!what was the
texture of the cloth. As she did so, I could see a glance of
approbation pass across her warm features. I liked that lady's
face, in spite of her untidy hair, and felt that had she been alone
my friend would not have been injured.
On either side of her there stood a flaxen-haired maiden, with long
curls, large blue eyes, fresh red cheeks, an undefined lumpy nose,
and large good-humoured mouth. They were as like as two peas, only
that one was half an inch taller than the other; and there was no
difficulty in discovering, at a moment's glance, that they were the
children of that over-heated matron who was feeling the web of my
But the principal figure was she who held the centre place in the
group. She was tall and thin, with fierce-looking eyes, rendered
more fierce by the spectacles which she wore; with a red nose as I
said before; and about her an undescribable something which quite
convinced me that she had never knowncould never knowaught of
the comforts of married life. It was she who held the scissors and
the black garments. It was she who had given that unkind cut. As I
looked at her she whisked herself quickly round from one companion
to the other, triumphing in what she had done, and ready to triumph
further in what she was about to do. I immediately conceived a deep
hatred for that Queen of the Harpies.
"Well, I suppose they can't be wanted again," said the mother,
rubbing her forehead.
"Oh dear no!" said she of the red nose. "They are relics!" I
thought to leap forth; but for what purpose should I have leaped?
The accursed scissors had already done their work; and the symmetry,
nay, even the utility of the vestment was destroyed.
"General Chasse wore a very good article;I will say that for him,"
continued the mother.
"Of course he did!" said the Queen Harpy. "Why should he not,
seeing that the country paid for it for him? Well, ladies, who's
for having a bit?"
"Oh my! you won't go for to cut them up," said the stout back.
"Won't I," said the scissors; and she immediately made another
incision. "Who's for having a bit? Don't all speak at once."
"I should like a morsel for a pincushion," said flaxen-haired Miss
No. 1, a young lady about nineteen, actuated by a general affection
for all sword-bearing, fire-eating heroes. "I should like to have
something to make me think of the poor general!"
Snip, snip went the scissors with professional rapidity, and a round
piece was extracted from the back of the calf of the left leg. I
shuddered with horror; and so did the Rev. Augustus Horne with cold.
"I hardly think it's proper to cut them up," said Miss No. 2.
"Oh isn't it?" said the harpy. "Then I'll do what's improper!" And
she got her finger and thumb well through the holes in the scissors'
handles. As she spoke resolution was plainly marked on her brow.
"Well, if they are to be cut up, I should certainly like a bit for a
pen-wiper," said No. 2. No. 2 was a literary young lady with a
periodical correspondence, a journal, and an album. Snip, snip went
the scissors again, and the broad part of the upper right division
afforded ample materials for a pen-wiper.
Then the lady with the back, seeing that the desecration of the
article had been completed, plucked up heart of courage and put in
her little request; "I think I might have a needle-case out of it,"
said she, "just as a suvneer of the poor general"and a long
fragment cut rapidly out of the waistband afforded her unqualified
Mamma, with the hot face and untidy hair, came next. "Well, girls,"
she said, "as you are all served, I don't see why I'm to be left
out. Perhaps, Miss Grogram"she was an old maid, you see
"perhaps, Miss Grogram, you could get me as much as would make a
There was not the slightest difficulty in doing this. The harpy in
the centre again went to work, snip, snip, and extracting from that
portion of the affairs which usually sustained the greater portion
of Mr. Horne's weight two large round pieces of cloth, presented
them to the well-pleased matron. "The general knew well where to
get a bit of good broadcloth, certainly," said she, again feeling
"And now for No. 1," said she whom I so absolutely hated; "I think
there is still enough for a pair of slippers. There's nothing so
nice for the house as good black cloth slippers that are warm to the
feet and don't show the dirt." And so saying, she spread out on the
floor the lacerated remainders.
"There's a nice bit there," said young lady No. 2, poking at one of
the pockets with the end of her parasol.
"Yes," said the harpy, contemplating her plunder. "But I'm thinking
whether I couldn't get leggings as well. I always wear leggings in
the thick of the winter." And so she concluded her operations, and
there was nothing left but a melancholy skeleton of seams and
All this having been achieved, they pocketed their plunder and
prepared to depart. There are people who have a wonderful appetite
for relics. A stone with which Washington had broken a window when
a boywith which he had done so or had not, for there is little
difference; a button that was on a coat of Napoleon's, or on that of
one of his lackeys; a bullet said to have been picked up at Waterloo
or Bunker's Hill; these, and suchlike things are great treasures.
And their most desirable characteristic is the ease with which they
are attained. Any bullet or any button does the work. Faith alone
is necessary. And now these ladies had made themselves happy and
glorious with "Relics" of General Chasse cut from the ill-used
habiliments of an elderly English gentleman!
They departed at last, and Mr. Horne, for once in an ill humour,
followed me into the bedroom. Here I must be excused if I draw a
veil over his manly sorrow at discovering what fate had done for
him. Remember what was his position, unclothed in the Castle of
Antwerp! The nearest suitable change for those which had been
destroyed was locked up in his portmanteau at the Hotel de Belle Rue
in Brussels! He had nothing left to himliterally nothing, in that
Antwerp world. There was no other wretched being wandering then in
that Dutch town so utterly denuded of the goods of life. For what
is a man fit,for what can he be fit,when left in such a
position? There are some evils which seem utterly to crush a man;
and if there be any misfortune to which a man may be allowed to
succumb without imputation on his manliness, surely it is such as
this. How was Mr. Horne to return to his hotel without incurring
the displeasure of the municipality? That was my first thought.
He had a cloak, but it was at the inn; and I found that my friend
was oppressed with a great horror at the idea of being left alone;
so that I could not go in search of it. There is an old saying,
that no man is a hero to his valet de chambre, the reason doubtless
being this, that it is customary for his valet to see the hero
divested of those trappings in which so much of the heroic consists.
Who reverences a clergyman without his gown, or a warrior without
his sword and sabre-tasche? What would even Minerva be without her
I do not wish it to be understood that I no longer reverenced Mr.
Horne because he was in an undress; but he himself certainly lost
much of his composed, well-sustained dignity of demeanour. He was
fearful and querulous, cold, and rather cross. When, forgetting his
size, I offered him my own, he thought that I was laughing at him.
He began to be afraid that the story would get abroad, and he then
and there exacted a promise that I would never tell it during his
lifetime. I have kept my word; but now my old friend has been
gathered to his fathers, full of years.
At last I got him to the hotel. It was long before he would leave
the castle, cloaked though he was;not, indeed, till the shades of
evening had dimmed the outlines of men and things, and made
indistinct the outward garniture of those who passed to and fro in
the streets. Then, wrapped in his cloak, Mr. Horne followed me
along the quays and through the narrowest of the streets; and at
length, without venturing to return the gaze of any one in the hotel
court, he made his way up to his own bedroom.
Dinnerless and supperless he went to his couch. But when there he
did consent to receive some consolation in the shape of mutton
cutlets and fried potatoes, a savory omelet, and a bottle of claret.
The mutton cutlets and fried potatoes at the Golden Fleece at
Antwerp areor were then, for I am speaking now of well-nigh thirty
years sinceremarkably good; the claret, also, was of the best; and
so, by degrees, the look of despairing dismay passed from his face,
and some scintillations of the old fire returned to his eyes.
"I wonder whether they find themselves much happier for what they
have got?" said he.
"A great deal happier," said I. "They'll boast of those things to
all their friends at home, and we shall doubtless see some account
of their success in the newspapers."
"It would be delightful to expose their blunder,to show them up.
Would it not, George? To turn the tables on them?"
"Yes," said I, "I should like to have the laugh against them."
"So would I, only that I should compromise myself by telling the
story. It wouldn't do at all to have it told at Oxford with my name
attached to it."
To this also I assented. To what would I not have assented in my
anxiety to make him happy after his misery?
But all was not over yet. He was in bed now, but it was necessary
that he should rise again on the morrow. At home, in England, what
was required might perhaps have been made during the night; but
here, among the slow Flemings, any such exertion would have been
impossible. Mr. Horne, moreover, had no desire to be troubled in
his retirement by a tailor.
Now the landlord of the Golden Fleece was a very stout man,a very
stout man indeed. Looking at him as he stood with his hands in his
pockets at the portal of his own establishment, I could not but
think that he was stouter even than Mr. Horne. But then he was
certainly much shorter, and the want of due proportion probably
added to his unwieldy appearance. I walked round him once or twice
wishfully, measuring him in my eye, and thinking of what texture
might be the Sunday best of such a man. The clothes which he then
had on were certainly not exactly suited to Mr. Horne's tastes.
He saw that I was observing him, and appeared uneasy and offended.
I had already ascertained that he spoke a little English. Of
Flemish I knew literally nothing, and in French, with which probably
he was also acquainted, I was by no means voluble. The business
which I had to transact was intricate, and I required the use of my
It was intricate and delicate, and difficult withal. I began by
remarking on the weather, but he did not take my remarks kindly. I
am inclined to fancy that he thought I was desirous of borrowing
money from him. At any rate he gave me no encouragement in my first
"Vat misfortune?" at last he asked, when I had succeeded in making
him understand that a gentleman up stairs required his assistance.
"He has lost these things," and I took hold of my own garments.
"It's a long story, or I'd tell you how; but he has not a pair in
the world till he gets back to Brussels,unless you can lend him
"Lost hees br-?" and he opened his eyes wide, and looked at me with
"Yes, yes, exactly so," said I, interrupting him. "Most astonishing
thing, isn't it? But it's quite true."
"Vas hees money in de pocket?" asked my auspicious landlord.
"No, no, no. It's not so bad as that, his money is all right. I
had the money, luckily."
"Ah! dat is better. But he have lost hees b-?"
"Yes, yes;" I was now getting rather impatient. "There is no
mistake about it. He has lost them as sure as you stand there."
And then I proceeded to explain that as the gentleman in question
was very stout, and as he, the landlord, was stoat also, he might
assist us in this great calamity by a loan from his own wardrobe.
When he found that the money was not in the pocket, and that his
bill therefore would be paid, he was not indisposed to be gracious.
He would, he said, desire his servant to take up what was required
to Mr. Horne's chamber. I endeavoured to make him understand that a
sombre colour would be preferable; but he only answered that he
would put the best that he had at the gentleman's disposal. He
could not think of offering anything less than his best on such an
occasion. And then he turned his back and went his way, muttering
as he went something in Flemish, which I believed to be an
exclamation of astonishment that any man should, under any
circumstances, lose such an article.
It was now getting late; so when I had taken a short stroll by
myself, I went to bed without disturbing Mr. Horne again that night.
On the following morning I thought it best not to go to him unless
he sent for me; so I desired the boots to let him know that I had
ordered breakfast in a private room, and that I would await him
there unless he wished to see me. He sent me word back to say that
he would be with me very shortly.
He did not keep me waiting above half an hour, but I confess that
that half hour was not pleasantly spent. I feared that his temper
would be tried in dressing, and that he would not be able to eat his
breakfast in a happy state of mind. So that when I heard his heavy
footstep advancing along the passage my heart did misgive me, and I
felt that I was trembling.
That step was certainly slower and more ponderous than usual. There
was always a certain dignity in the very sound of his movements, but
now this seemed to have been enhanced. To judge merely by the step
one would have said that a bishop was coming that way instead of a
And then he entered. In the upper half of his august person no
alteration was perceptible. The hair was as regular and as graceful
as ever, the handkerchief as white, the coat as immaculate; but
below his well-filled waistcoat a pair of red plush began to shine
in unmitigated splendour, and continued from thence down to within
an inch above his knee; nor, as it appeared, could any pulling
induce them to descend lower. Mr. Horne always wore black silk
stockings,at least so the world supposed, but it was now apparent
that the world had been wrong in presuming him to be guilty of such
extravagance. Those, at any rate, which he exhibited on the present
occasion were more economical. They were silk to the calf, but
thence upwards they continued their career in white cotton. These
then followed the plush; first two snowy, full-sized pillars of
white, and then two jet columns of flossy silk. Such was the
appearance, on that well-remembered morning, of the Rev. Augustus
Horne, as he entered the room in which his breakfast was prepared.
I could see at a glance that a dark frown contracted his eyebrows,
and that the compressed muscles of his upper lip gave a strange
degree of austerity to his open face. He carried his head proudly
on high, determined to be dignified in spite of his misfortunes, and
advanced two steps into the room without a remark, as though he were
able to show that neither red plush nor black cloth could disarrange
the equal poise of his mighty mind!
And after all what are a man's garments but the outward husks in
which the fruit is kept, duly tempered from the wind?
"The rank is but the guinea stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that."
And is not the tailor's art as little worthy, as insignificant as
that of the king who makes
"A marquis, duke, and a' that"?
Who would be content to think that his manly dignity depended on his
coat and waistcoat, or his hold on the world's esteem on any other
garment of usual wear? That no such weakness soiled his mind Mr.
Horne was determined to prove; and thus he entered the room with
measured tread, and stern dignified demeanour.
Having advanced two steps his eye caught mine. I do not know
whether he was moved by some unconscious smile on my part;for in
truth I endeavoured to seem as indifferent as himself to the nature
of his dress;or whether he was invincibly tickled by some inward
fancy of his own, but suddenly his advancing step ceased, a broad
flash of comic humour spread itself over his features, he retreated
with his back against the wall, and then burst out into an
immoderate roar of loud laughter.
And Iwhat else could I then do but laugh? He laughed, and I
laughed. He roared, and I roared. He lifted up his vast legs to
view till the rays of the morning sun shone through the window on
the bright hues which he displayed; and he did not sit down to his
breakfast till he had in every fantastic attitude shown off to the
best advantage the red plush of which he had so recently become
An Antwerp private cabriolet on that day reached the yard of the
Hotel de Belle Vue at about 4 p.m., and four waiters, in a frenzy of
astonishment, saw the Reverend Augustus Horne descend from the
vehicle and seek his chamber dressed in the garments which I have
described. But I am inclined to think that he never again favoured
any of his friends with such a sight.
It was on the next evening after this that I went out to drink tea
with two maiden ladies, relatives of mine, who kept a seminary for
English girls at Brussels. The Misses Macmanus were very worthy
women, and earned their bread in an upright, painstaking manner. I
would not for worlds have passed through Brussels without paying
them this compliment. They were, however, perhaps a little dull,
and I was aware that I should not probably meet in their drawing-
room many of the fashionable inhabitants of the city. Mr. Horne had
declined to accompany me; but in doing so he was good enough to
express a warm admiration for the character of my worthy cousins.
The elder Miss Macmanus, in her little note, had informed me that
she would have the pleasure of introducing me to a few of my
"compatriots." I presumed she meant Englishmen; and as I was in the
habit of meeting such every day of my life at home, I cannot say
that I was peculiarly elevated by the promise. When, however, I
entered the room, there was no Englishman there;there was no man
of any kind. There were twelve ladies collected together with the
view of making the evening pass agreeably to me, the single virile
being among them all. I felt as though I were a sort of Mohammed in
Paradise; but I certainly felt also that the Paradise was none of my
In the centre of the amphitheatre which the ladies formed sat the
two Misses Macmanus;there, at least, they sat when they had
completed the process of shaking hands with me. To the left of
them, making one wing of the semicircle, were arranged the five
pupils by attending to whom the Misses Macmanus earned their living;
and the other wing consisted of the five ladies who had furnished
themselves with relics of General Chasse. They were my
I was introduced to them all, one after the other; but their names
did not abide in my memory one moment. I was thinking too much of
the singularity of the adventure, and could not attend to such
minutiae. That the red-rosed harpy was Miss Grogram, that I
remembered;that, I may say, I shall never forget. But whether the
motherly lady with the somewhat blowsy hair was Mrs. Jones, or Mrs.
Green, or Mrs. Walker, I cannot now say. The dumpy female with the
broad back was always called Aunt Sally by the young ladies.
Too much sugar spoils one's tea; I think I have heard that even
prosperity will cloy when it comes in overdoses; and a schoolboy has
been known to be overdone with jam. I myself have always been
peculiarly attached to ladies' society, and have avoided bachelor
parties as things execrable in their very nature. But on this
special occasion I felt myself to be that schoolboy;I was
literally overdone with jam. My tea was all sugar, so that I could
not drink it. I was one among twelve. What could I do or say? The
proportion of alloy was too small to have any effect in changing the
nature of the virgin silver, and the conversation became absolutely
I must confess also that my previous experience as to these
compatriots of mine had not prejudiced me in their favour. I
regarded them with,I am ashamed to say so, seeing that they were
ladies,but almost with loathing. When last I had seen them their
occupation had reminded me of some obscene feast of harpies, or
almost of ghouls. They had brought down to the verge of desperation
the man whom of all men I most venerated. On these accounts I was
inclined to be taciturn with reference to them;and then what could
I have to say to the Misses Macmanus's five pupils?
My cousin at first made an effort or two in my favour, but these
efforts were fruitless. I soon died away into utter unrecognised
insignificance, and the conversation, as I have before said, became
feminine. And indeed that horrid Miss Grogram, who was, as it were,
the princess of the ghouls, nearly monopolised the whole of it.
Mamma Joneswe will call her Jones for the occasionput in a word
now and then, as did also the elder and more energetic Miss
Macmanus. The dumpy lady with the broad back ate tea-cake
incessantly; the two daughters looked scornful, as though they were
above their company with reference to the five pupils; and the five
pupils themselves sat in a row with the utmost propriety, each with
her hands crossed on her lap before her.
Of what they were talking at last I became utterly oblivious. They
had ignored me, going into realms of muslin, questions of maid-
servants, female rights, and cheap under-clothing; and I therefore
had ignored them. My mind had gone back to Mr. Horne and his
garments. While they spoke of their rights, I was thinking of his
wrongs; when they mentioned the price of flannel, I thought of that
But of a sudden my attention was arrested. Miss Macmanus had said
something of the black silks of Antwerp, when Miss Grogram replied
that she had just returned from that city and had there enjoyed a
great success. My cousin had again asked something about the black
silks, thinking, no doubt, that Miss Grogram had achieved some
bargain, but that lady had soon undeceived her.
"Oh no," said Miss Grogram, "it was at the castle. We got such
beautiful relics of General Chasse! Didn't we, Mrs. Jones?"
"Indeed we did," said Mrs. Jones, bringing out from beneath the
skirts of her dress and ostensibly displaying a large black bag.
"And I've got such a beautiful needle-case," said the broad-back,
displaying her prize. "I've been making it up all the morning."
And she handed over the article to Miss Macmanus.
"And only look at this duck of a pen-wiper," simpered flaxen-hair
No. 2. "Only think of wiping one's pens with relics of General
Chasse!" and she handed it over to the other Miss Macmanus.
"And mine's a pin-cushion," said No. 1, exhibiting the trophy.
"But that's nothing to what I've got," said Miss Grogram. "In the
first place, there's a pair of slippers,a beautiful pair;they're
not made up yet, of course; and then"
The two Misses Macmanus and their five pupils were sitting open-
eared, open-eyed, and open-mouthed. How all these sombre-looking
articles could be relics of General Chasse did not at first appear
clear to them.
"What are they, Miss Grogram?" said the elder Miss Macmanus, holding
the needle-case in one hand and Mrs. Jones's bag in the other. Miss
Macmanus was a strong-minded female, and I reverenced my cousin when
I saw the decided way in which she intended to put down the greedy
arrogance of Miss Grogram.
"They are relics."
"But where do they come from, Miss Grogram?"
"Why, from the castle, to be sure;from General Chasse's own
"Did anybody sell them to you?"
"Or give them to you?"
"Why, no;at least not exactly give."
"There they were, and she took 'em," said the broad-back. Oh, what
a look Miss Grogram gave her! "Took them! of course I took them.
That is, you took them as much as I did. They were things that we
found lying about."
"What things?" asked Miss Macmanus, in a peculiarly strong-minded
Miss Grogram seemed to be for a moment silenced. I had been
ignored, as I have said, and my existence forgotten; but now I
observed that the eyes of the culprits were turned towards me,the
eyes, that is, of four of them. Mrs. Jones looked at me from
beneath her fan; the two girls glanced at me furtively, and then
their eyes fell to the lowest flounces of their frocks.
Miss Grogram turned her spectacles right upon me, and I fancied that
she nodded her head at me as a sort of answer to Miss Macmanus. The
five pupils opened their mouths and eyes wider; but she of the broad
back was nothing abashed. It would have been nothing to her had
there been a dozen gentlemen in the room. "We just found a pair of
black." The whole truth was told in the plainest possible
"Oh, Aunt Sally!" "Aunt Sally, how can you?" "Hold your tongue,
"And then Miss Grogram just cut them up with her scissors,"
continued Aunt Sally, not a whit abashed, "and gave us each a bit,
only she took more than half for herself." It was clear to me that
there had been some quarrel, some delicious quarrel, between Aunt
Sally and Miss Grogram. Through the whole adventure I had rather
respected Aunt Sally. "She took more than half for herself,"
continued Aunt Sally. "She kept all the"
"Jemima," said the elder Miss Macmanus, interrupting the speaker and
addressing her sister, "it is time, I think, for the young ladies to
retire. Will you be kind enough to see them to their rooms?" The
five pupils thereupon rose from their seatsand courtesied. They
then left the room in file, the younger Miss Macmanus showing them
"But we haven't done any harm, have we?" asked Mrs. Jones, with some
tremulousness in her voice.
"Well, I don't know," said Miss Macmanus. "What I'm thinking of now
is this;to whom, I wonder, did the garments properly belong? Who
had been the owner and wearer of them?"
"Why, General Chasse of course," said Miss Grogram.
"They were the general's," repeated the two young ladies; blushing,
however, as they alluded to the subject.
"Well, we thought they were the general's, certainly; and a very
excellent article they were," said Mrs. Jones.
"Perhaps they were the butler's?" said Aunt Sally. I certainly had
not given her credit for so much sarcasm.
"Butler's!" exclaimed Miss Grogram, with a toss of her head.
"Oh, Aunt Sally, Aunt Sally! how can you?" shrieked the two young
"Oh laws!" ejaculated Mrs. Jones.
"I don't think that they could have belonged to the butler," said
Miss Macmanus, with much authority, "seeing that domestics in this
country are never clad in garments of that description; so far my
own observation enables me to speak with certainty. But it is
equally sure that they were never the property of the general lately
in command at Antwerp. Generals, when they are in full dress, wear
ornamental lace upon theirtheir regimentals; and when" So much
she said, and something more, which it may be unnecessary that I
should repeat; but such were her eloquence and logic that no doubt
would have been left on the mind of any impartial hearer. If an
argumentative speaker ever proved anything, Miss Macmanus proved
that General Chasse had never been the wearer of the article in
"But I know very well they were his!" said Miss Grogram, who was not
an impartial hearer. "Of course they were; whose else's should they
"I'm sure I hope they were his," said one of the young ladies,
"I wish I'd never taken it," said the other.
"Dear, dear, dear!" said Mrs. Jones.
"I'll give you my needle-case, Miss Grogram," said Aunt Sally.
I had sat hitherto silent during the whole scene, meditating how
best I might confound the red-nosed harpy. Now, I thought, was the
time for me to strike in.
"I really think, ladies, that there has been some mistake," said I.
"There has been no mistake at all, sir!" said Miss Grogram.
"Perhaps not," I answered, very mildly; "very likely not. But some
affair of a similar nature was very much talked about in Antwerp
"Oh laws!" again ejaculated Mrs. Jones.
"The affair I allude to has been talked about a good deal,
certainly," I continued. "But perhaps it may be altogether a
"And what may be the circumstance to which you allude?" asked Miss
Macmanus, in the same authoritative tone.
"I dare say it has nothing to do with these ladies," said I; "but an
article of dress, of the nature they have described, was cut up in
the Castle of Antwerp on the day before yesterday. It belonged to a
gentleman who was visiting the place; and I was given to understand
that he is determined to punish the people who have wronged him."
"It can't be the same," said Miss Grogram; but I could see that she
"Oh laws! what will become of us?" said Mrs. Jones.
"You can all prove that I didn't touch them, and that I warned her
not," said Aunt Sally. In the mean time the two young ladies had
almost fainted behind their fans.
"But how had it come to pass," asked Miss Macmanus, "that the
"I know nothing more about it, cousin," said I; "only it does seem
that there is an odd coincidence."
Immediately after this I took my leave. I saw that I had avenged my
friend, and spread dismay in the hearts of these who had injured
him. I had learned in the course of the evening at what hotel the
five ladies were staying; and in the course of the next morning I
sauntered into the hall, and finding one of the porters alone, asked
if they were still there. The man told me that they had started by
the earliest diligence. "And," said he, "if you are a friend of
theirs, perhaps you will take charge of these things, which they
have left behind them?" So saying, he pointed to a table at the
back of the hall, on which were lying the black bag, the black
needle-case, the black pin cushion, and the black pen-wiper. There
was also a heap of fragments of cloth which I well knew had been
intended by Miss Grogram for the comfort of her feet and ancles.
I declined the commission, however. "They were no special friends
of mine," I said; and I left all the relics still lying on the
little table in the back hall.
"Upon the whole, I am satisfied!" said the Rev. Augustus Horne, when
I told him the finale of the story.