Chapter I: The War of the Succession
 

"He is an idle vagabond!" the mayor of the good town of Southampton said, in high wrath--"a ne'er do well, and an insolent puppy; and as to you, Mistress Alice, if I catch you exchanging words with him again, ay, or nodding to him, or looking as if in any way you were conscious of his presence, I will put you on bread and water, and will send you away for six months to the care of my sister Deborah, who will, I warrant me, bring you to your senses."

The Mayor of Southampton must have been very angry indeed when he spoke in this way to his daughter Alice, who in most matters had her own way. Especially did it show that he was angry, since he so spoke in the presence of Mistress Anthony, his wife, who was accustomed to have a by no means unimportant share in any decision arrived at respecting family matters.

She was too wise a woman, however, to attempt to arrest the torrent in full flood, especially as it was a matter on which her husband had already shown a very unusual determination to have his own way. She therefore continued to work in silence, and paid no attention to the appealing glance which her daughter, a girl of fourteen, cast toward her. But although she said nothing, her husband understood in her silence an unuttered protest.

"It is no use your taking that scamp's part, Mary, in this matter. I am determined to have my own way, and the townspeople know well that when Richard Anthony makes up his mind, nothing will move him."

"I have had no opportunity to take his part, Richard," his wife said quietly; "you have been storming without interruption since you came in five minutes ago, and I have not uttered a single word."

"But you agree with me, Mary--you cannot but agree with me--that it is nothing short of a scandal for the daughter of the Mayor of Southampton to be talking to a penniless young rogue like that at the garden gate."

"Alice should not have met him there," Mistress Anthony said; "but seeing that she is only fourteen years old, and the boy only sixteen, and he her second cousin, I do not see that the matter is so very shocking."

"In four more years, Mistress Anthony," the mayor said profoundly, "he will be twenty, and she will be eighteen."

"So I suppose, Richard; I am no great head at a figures, but even I can reckon that. But as at present they are only fourteen and sixteen, I repeat that I do not see that it matters--at least not so very much. Alice, do you go to your room, and remain there till I send for you."

The girl without a word rose and retired. In the reign of King William the Third implicit obedience was expected of children.

"I think, Richard," Mrs. Anthony went on when the door closed behind her daughter, "you are not acting quite with your usual wisdom in treating this matter in so serious a light, and in putting ideas into the girl's head which would probably never have entered there otherwise. Of course Alice is fond of Jack. It is only natural that she should be, seeing that he is her second cousin, and that for two years they have lived together under this roof."

"I was a fool, Mistress Anthony," the mayor said angrily, "ever to yield to your persuasions in that matter. It was unfortunate, of course, that the boy's father, the husband of your Cousin Margaret, should have been turned out of his living by the Sectarians, as befell thousands of other clergymen besides him. It was still more unfortunate that when King Charles returned he did not get reinstated; but, after all, that was Margaret's business and not mine; and if she was fool enough to marry a pauper, and he well nigh old enough to be her father--well, as I say, it was no business of mine."

"He was not a pauper, Richard, and you know it; and he made enough by teaching to keep him and Margaret comfortably till he broke down and died three years ago, and poor Margaret followed him to the grave a year later. He was a good man--in every way a good man."

"Tut, tut! I am not saying he wasn't a good man. I am only saying that, good or bad, it was no business of mine; and then nothing will do but I must send for the boy and put him in my business. And a nice mess he made of it--an idler, more careless apprentice, no cloth merchant, especially one who stood well with his fellow citizens, and who was on the highway to becoming mayor of his native city, was ever crossed with."

"I think he was hardly as bad as that, Richard. I don't think you were ever quite fair to the boy."

"Not fair, Mary! I am surprised at you. In what way was I not quite fair?"

"I don't think you meant to be unfair, Richard; but you see you were a little--just a little--prejudiced against him from the first; because, instead of jumping at your offer to apprentice him to your trade, he said he should like to be a sailor."

"Quite enough to prejudice me, too, madam. Why, there are scores of sons of respectable burgesses of this town who would jump at such an offer; and here this penniless boy turns up his nose at it."

"It was foolish, no doubt, Richard; but you see the boy had been reading the lives of admirals and navigators--he was full of life and spirit--and I believe his father had consented to his going to sea."

"Full of life and spirit, madam!" the mayor repeated more angrily than before; "let me tell you it is these fellows who are full of life and adventure who come to the gallows. Naturally I was offended; but as I had given you my word I kept to it. Every man in Southampton knows that the word of Richard Anthony is as good as his bond. I bound him apprentice, and what comes of it? My foreman, Andrew Carson, is knocked flat on his back in the middle of the shop."

Mrs. Anthony bit her lips to prevent herself from smiling.

"We will not speak any more about that, Richard," she said; "because, if we did, we should begin to argue. You know it is my opinion, and always has been, that Carson deliberately set you against the boy; that he was always telling you tales to his disadvantage; and although I admit that the lad was very wrong to knock him down when he struck him, I think, my dear, I should have done the same had I been in his place."

"Then, madam," Mr. Anthony said solemnly, "you would have deserved what happened to him--that you should be turned neck and crop into the street."

Mrs. Anthony gave a determined nod of her head--a nod which signified that she should have a voice on that point. However, seeing that in her husband's present mood it was better to say no more, she resumed her work.

While this conversation had been proceeding, Jack Stilwell, who had fled hastily when surprised by the mayor as he was talking to his daughter at the back gate of the garden, had made his way down to the wharves, and there, seating himself upon a pile of wood, had stared moodily at the tract of mud extending from his feet to the strip of water far away. His position was indeed an unenviable one. As Mrs. Anthony had said, his father was a clergyman of the Church of England, the vicar of a snug living in Lincolnshire, but he had been cast out when the Parliamentarians gained the upper hand, and his living was handed over to a Sectarian preacher. When, after years of poverty, King Charles came to the throne, the dispossessed minister thought that as a matter of course he should be restored to his living; but it was not so. As in hundreds of other cases the new occupant conformed at once to the new laws, and the Rev. Thomas Stilwell, having no friends or interest, was, like many another clergyman, left out in the cold.

But by this time he had settled at Oxford--at which university he had been educated--and was gaining a not uncomfortable livelihood by teaching the sons of citizens. Late in life he married Margaret Ullathorpe, who, still a young woman, had, during a visit to some friends at Oxford, made his acquaintance. In spite of the disparity of years the union was a happy one. One son was born to them, and all had gone well until a sudden chill had been the cause of Mr. Stilwell's death, his wife surviving him only one year. Her death took place at Southampton, where she had moved after the loss of her husband, having no further tie at Oxford, and a week later Jack Stilwell found himself domiciled at the house of Mr. Anthony.

It was in vain that he represented to the cloth merchant that his wishes lay toward a seafaring life, and that although his father had wished him to go into the ministry, he had given way to his entreaties. Mr. Anthony sharply pooh poohed the idea, and insisted that it was nothing short of madness to dream of such a thing when so excellent an opportunity of learning a respectable business was open to him.

At any other time Jack would have resisted stoutly, and would have run away and taken his chance rather than agree to the proposition; but he was broken down by grief at his mother's death. Incapable of making a struggle against the obstinacy of Mr. Anthony, and scarce caring what became of himself, he signed the deed of apprenticeship which made him for five years the slave of the cloth merchant. Not that the latter intended to be anything but kind, and he sincerely believed that he was acting for the good of the boy in taking him as his apprentice; but as Jack recovered his spirits and energy, he absolutely loathed the trade to which he was bound. Had it not been for Mistress Anthony and Alice he would have braved the heavy pains and penalties which in those days befell disobedient apprentices, and would have run away to sea; but their constant kindness, and the fact that his mother with her dying breath had charged him to regard her cousin as standing in her place, prevented him from carrying the idea which he often formed into effect.

In the shop his life was wretched. He was not stupid, as his master asserted; for indeed in other matters he was bright and clever, and his father had been well pleased with the progress he made with his studies; but, in the first place; he hated his work, and, in the second, every shortcoming and mistake was magnified and made the most of by the foreman, Andrew Carson. This man had long looked to be taken into partnership, and finally to succeed his master, seeing that the latter had no sons, and he conceived a violent jealousy of Jack Stilwell, in whose presence, as a prime favorite of Mistress Anthony and of her daughter, he thought he foresaw an overthrow of his plans.

He was not long in effecting a breach between the boy and his master--for Jack's carelessness and inattention gave him plenty of opportunities--and Mr. Anthony ere long viewed the boy's errors as acts of willful disobedience. This state of things lasted for two years until the climax came, when, as Mr. Anthony had said to his wife, Jack, upon the foreman attempting to strike him, had knocked the latter down in the shop.

Mr. Anthony's first impulse was to take his apprentice before the justices and to demand condign punishment for such an act of flagrant rebellion; but a moment's reflection told him that Jack, at the end of his punishment, would return to his house, where his wife would take his part as usual, and the quarrels which had frequently arisen on his account would be more bitter than before.

It was far better to get rid of him at once, and he accordingly ordered him from the shop, tore up his indenture before his eyes, and bade him never let him see his face again. For the first few hours Jack was delighted at his freedom. He spent the day down on the wharves talking to the fishermen and sailors. There were no foreign bound ships in the port, and he had no wish to ship on board a coaster; he therefore resolved to wait until a vessel sailing for foreign ports should leave.

He had no money; but a few hours after he left the shop Mrs. Anthony's maid found him on the wharf, and gave him a letter from her mistress. In this was inclosed a sum of money sufficient to last him for some time, and an assurance that she did not share her husband's anger against him.

"I have no doubt, my dear Jack," she said, "that in time I could heal the breach and could arrange for you to come back again, but I think perhaps it is better as it is. You would never make a clothier, and I don't think you would ever become Mayor of Southampton. I know what your wishes are, and I think that you had better follow them out. Alice is heartbroken over the affair, but I assure her that it will all turn out for the best. I cannot ask you to come up to the house; but whenever you have settled on anything leave a note with Dorothy for me, and I will come down with Alice to see you and say goodby to you. I will see that you do not go without a proper outfit."

It was to deliver this letter that Jack had gone up to the back gate; and seeing Alice in the garden they had naturally fallen into conversation at the gate, when the mayor, looking out from the window of his warehouse, happened to see them, and went out in the greatest wrath to put a stop to the conversation.

Jack had indeed found a ship; she had come in from Holland with cloth and other merchandise, and was after she was discharged to sail for the colonies with English goods. She would not leave the port for some weeks; but he had seen the captain, who had agreed to take him as ship's boy. Had the mayor been aware that his late apprentice was on the point of leaving he would not have interfered with his intention; but as he had peremptorily ordered that his name was not to be mentioned before him, and as Mrs. Anthony had no motive in approaching the forbidden subject, the mayor remained in ignorance that Jack was about to depart on a distant voyage.

One day, on going down to the town hail, he found an official letter waiting him; it was an order from government empowering justices of the peace to impress such men as they thought fit, with the only restriction that men entitled to vote for members of parliament were exempted. This tremendous power had just been legalized by an act of parliament. A more iniquitous act never disgraced our statutes, for it enabled justices of the peace to spite any of their poorer neighbors against whom they had a grudge, and to ship them off to share in the hardships of Marlborough's campaign in Germany and the Low Countries, or in the expedition now preparing for Spain.

At that time the army was held in the greatest dislike by the English people. The nation had always been opposed to a standing force, and it was only now that the necessities of the country induced them to tolerate it. It was, however, recruited almost entirely from reckless and desperate men. Criminals were allowed to commute sentences of imprisonment for service in the army, and the gates of the prisons were also opened to insolvent debtors consenting to enlist. But all the efforts of the recruiting sergeants, aided by such measures as these, proved insufficient to attract a sufficient number of men to keep up the armies at the required strength.

Pressing had always existed to a certain extent; but it had been carried on secretly, and was regarded as illegal. Therefore, as men must be had, the law giving justices the authority and power to impress any men they might select, with the exception of those who possessed a vote for members of parliament, was passed with the approval of parties on both sides of the House of Commons.

There was indeed great need for men. England had allied herself with Austria and Holland in opposition to France, the subject of dispute being the succession to the crown of Spain, England's feelings in the matter being further imbittered by the recognition by Louis XIV of the Pretender as King of England. Therefore, although her interests were not so deeply engaged in the question as to the succession to the throne of Spain as were those of the continental powers, she threw herself into the struggle with ardor.

The two claimants to the throne of Spain were the Archduke Charles, second son of Leopold, Emperor of Austria, and Philip, Duke of Anjou, a younger grandson of Louis. On the marriage of the French king with Maria Theresa, the sister of Charles II of Spain, she had formally renounced all claims to the succession, but the French king had nevertheless continued from time to time to bring them forward. Had these rights not been renounced Philip would have had the best claim to the Spanish throne, the next of kin after him being Charles of Austria.

During the later days of the King of Spain all Europe had looked on with the most intense interest at the efforts which the respective parties made for their candidates. Whichever might succeed to the throne the balance of power would be destroyed; for either Austria and Spain united, or France and Spain united, would be sufficient to overawe the rest of the Continent. Louis XIV lulled the fears of the Austrian party by suggesting a treaty of partition to the Dutch states and William the Third of England.

By this treaty it was agreed that the Archduke Charles was to be acknowledged successor to the crowns of Spain, the Indies, and the Netherlands; while the dauphin, as the eldest son of Maria Theresa, should receive the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, with the Spanish province of Guipuscoa and the duchy of Milan, in compensation of his abandonment of other claims. When the conditions of this treaty became known they inspired natural indignation in the minds of the people of the country which had thus been arbitrarily allotted, and the dying Charles of Spain was infuriated by this conspiracy to break up and divide his dominion. His jealousy of France would have led him to select the Austrian claimant; but the emperor's undisguised greed for a portion of the Spanish empire, and the overbearing and unpleasant manner of the Austrian ambassador in the Spanish court, drove him to listen to the overtures of Louis, who had a powerful ally in Cardinal Portocarrero, Archbishop of Toledo, whose influence was all powerful with the king. The cardinal argued that the grandson of Maria Theresa could not be bound by her renunciation, and also that it had only been made with a view to keep separate the French and Spanish monarchies, and that if a descendant of hers, other than the heir to the throne of France, were chosen, this condition would be carried out.

Finally, he persuaded Charles, a month before his death, to sign a will declaring Philip, Duke of Anjou, grandson of his brother in law Louis XIV, sole heir of the Spanish empire. The will was kept secret till the death of the king, and was then publicly proclaimed. Louis accepted the bequest in favor of his grandson, and Philip was declared king in Spain and her dependencies.

The greatest indignation was caused in England, Holland, and the empire at this breach by the King of France of the treaty of partition, of which he himself had been the author. England and Holland were unprepared for war, and therefore bided their time, but Austria at once commenced hostilities by directing large bodies of troops, under Prince Eugene, into the duchy of Milan, and by inciting the Neapolitans to revolt. The young king was at first popular in Spain, but Cardinal Portocarrero, who exercised the real power of the state, by his overbearing temper, his avarice, and his shameless corruption, speedily alienated the people from their monarch. Above all, the cardinal was supposed to be the tool of the French king, and to represent the policy which had for its object the dismemberment of the Spanish monarchy and the aggrandizement of France.

That Louis had such designs was undoubted, and, if properly managed and bribed, Portocarrero would have been a pliant instrument in his hands; but the cardinal was soon estranged by the constant interference by the French agents in his own measures of government, and therefore turned against France that power of intrigue which he had recently used in her favor. He pretended to be devoted to France, and referred even the most minute details of government to Paris for approbation, with the double view of disgusting Louis with the government of Spain and of enraging the Spanish people at the constant interference of Louis.

Philip, however, found a new and powerful ally in the hearts of the people by his marriage with Maria Louisa, daughter of the Duke of Savoy--a beautiful girl of fourteen years old, who rapidly developed into a graceful and gifted woman, and became the darling of the Spanish people, and whose intellect, firmness, and courage guided and strengthened her weak but amiable husband. For a time the power of Spain and France united overshadowed Europe, the trading interests of England and Holland were assailed, and a French army assembled close to the Flemish frontier.

The indignation of the Dutch overcame their fears, and they yielded to the quiet efforts which King William was making, and combined with England and Austria in a grand alliance against France, the object of the combination being to exclude Louis from the Netherlands and West Indies, and to prevent the union of the crowns of France and Spain upon the same head. King William might not have obtained from the English parliament a ratification of the alliance had not Louis just at this moment acknowledged the son of the ex-king James as king of England. This insult roused the spirit of the English people, the House of Commons approved the triple alliance, and voted large supplies. King William died just after seeing his favorite project successful, and was succeeded by Queen Anne, who continued his policy. The Austrian Archduke Charles was recognized by the allies as King of Spain, and preparation made for war.

An English army was landed near Cadiz; but the Spaniards showed no signs of rising in favor of Charles, and, after bringing great discredit on themselves and exciting the animosity of the Spaniards by gross misconduct, the English army embarked again. Some treasure ships were captured, and others sunk in the harbor of Vigo, but the fleet was no more effective than the army. Admiral Sir John Munden was cashiered for treachery or cowardice on the coast of Spain, and four captains of vessels in the gallant Benbow's West India fleet were either dismissed or shot for refusing to meet the enemy and for abandoning their chief.

In 1703 little was done in the way of fighting, but the allies received an important addition of strength by the accession of Portugal to their ranks. In 1704 the allies made an attempt upon the important city of Barcelona. It was believed that the Catalans would have declared for Charles; but the plot by which the town was to be given up to him was discovered on the eve of execution, and the English force re-embarked on their ships. Their success was still less on the side of Portugal, where the Duke of Berwick, who was in command of the forces of King Philip, defeated the English and Dutch under the Duke of Schomberg and captured many towns.

The Portuguese rendered the allies but slight assistance. These reverses were, however, balanced by the capture of Gibraltar on the 21st of June by the fleet under Sir George Rooke, and a small land force under Prince George of Hesse. Schomberg was recalled and Lord Galway took the command; but he succeeded no better than his predecessor, and affairs looked but badly for the allies, when the Duke of Marlborough, with the English and allied troops in Germany, inflicted the first great check upon the power and ambition of Louis XIV by the splendid victory of Blenheim.

This defeat of the French had a disastrous effect upon the fortunes of Philip. He could no longer hope for help from his grandfather, for Louis was now called upon to muster his whole strength on his eastern frontier for the defense of his own dominion, and Philip was forced to depend upon his partisans in Spain only. The partisans of Charles at once took heart. The Catalans had never been warm in the cause of Philip; the crowns of Castile, Arragon, and Catalonia had only recently been united, and dangerous jealousy existed between these provinces. The Castilians were devoted adherents of Philip, and this in itself was sufficient to set Catalonia and Arragon against him.

The English government had been informed of this growing discontent in the north of Spain, and sent out an emissary to inquire into the truth of the statement. As his report confirmed all that they had heard, it was decided in the spring of 1705 to send out an expedition which was to effect a landing in Catalonia, and would, it was hoped, be joined by all the people of that province and Arragon. By the efforts and patronage of the Duchess of Marlborough, who was all powerful with Queen Anne, the Earl of Peterborough was named to the command of the expedition.

The choice certainly appeared a singular one, for hitherto the earl had done nothing which would entitle him to so distinguished a position. Charles Mordaunt was the eldest son of John Lord Mordaunt, Viscount Avalon, a brave and daring cavalier, who had fought heart and soul for Charles, and had been tried by Cromwell for treason, and narrowly escaped execution. On the restoration, as a reward for his risk of life and fortune, and for his loyalty and ability, he was raised to the peerage.

His son Charles inherited none of his father's steadfastness. Brought up in the profligate court of Charles the Second he became an atheist, a scoffer at morality, and a republican. At the same time he had many redeeming points. He was brilliant, witty, energetic, and brave. He was generous and strictly honorable to his word. He was filled with a burning desire for adventure, and, at the close of 1674, when in his seventeenth year, he embarked in Admiral Torrington's ship, and proceeded to join as a volunteer Sir John Narborough's fleet in the Mediterranean, in order to take part in the expedition to restrain and revenge the piratical depredations of the barbarous states of Tripoli and Algiers.

He distinguished himself on the 14th of January, 1675, in an attack by the boats of the fleet upon four corsair men o' war moored under the very guns of the castle and fort of Tripoli. The exploit was a successful one, the ships were all burned, and most of their crews slain. Another encounter with the fleet of Tripoli took place in February, when the pirates were again defeated, and the bey forced to grant all the English demands.

In 1677 the fleet returned to England, and with it Mordaunt, who had during his absence succeeded to his father's title and estates, John Lord Mordaunt having died on the 5th of June, 1675. Shortly after his return to England Lord Mordaunt, though still but twenty years old, married a daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser. But his spirit was altogether unsuited to the quiet enjoyment of domestic life, and at the end of September, 1678, he went out as a volunteer in his majesty's ship Bristol, which was on the point of sailing for the Mediterranean to take part in an expedition fitting out for the relief of Tangier, then besieged by the Moors. Nothing, however, came of the expedition, and Mordaunt returned to England in the autumn of 1679.

In June, 1680, he again sailed for Tangier with a small expedition commanded by the Earl of Plymouth. The expedition succeeded in throwing themselves into the besieged town, and continued the defense with vigor, and Mordaunt again distinguished himself; but he soon wearied of the monotony of a long siege, and before the end of the year found opportunity to return to England, where he plunged into politics and became one of the leaders of the party formed to exclude the Duke of York from the throne.

Although a close friend of Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney he had fortunately for himself not been admitted to the fatal privilege of their private councils, and therefore escaped the fate which befell them. He continued his friendship with them to the last, and accompanied Algernon Sidney to the scaffold. But even while throwing himself heart and soul into politics he was continually indulging in wild freaks which rendered him the talk of the town.

On the accession of King James he made his first speech in the House of Peers against a standing army, and distinguished himself alike by the eloquence and violence of his language. He was now under the displeasure of the court, and his profuse generosity had brought him into pecuniary trouble. In 1686, therefore, he quitted England with the professed intention of accepting a command in the Dutch fleet then about to sail for the West Indies, When he arrived in Holland, however, he presented himself immediately to the Prince of Orange, and first among the British nobility boldly proposed to William an immediate invasion of England. He pushed his arguments with fiery zeal, urged the disaffection of all classes, the hatred of the Commons, the defection of the Lords, the alarm of the Church, and the wavering loyalty of the army.

William, however, was already informed of these facts, and was not to be hurried. Mordaunt remained with him till, on the 20th of October, 1688, he sailed for England. The first commission that King William signed in England was the appointment of Lord Mordaunt as lieutenant colonel of horse, and raising a regiment he rendered good service at Exeter. As soon as the revolution was completed, and William and Mary ascended the throne, Mordaunt was made a privy councilor and one of the lords of the bedchamber, and in April, 1689, he was made first commissioner of the treasury, and advanced to the dignity of Earl of Monmouth. In addition to the other offices to which he was appointed he was given the colonelcy of the regiment of horse guards.

His conduct in office showed in brilliant contrast to that of the men with whom he was placed. He alone was free from the slightest suspicion of corruption and venality, and he speedily made enemies among his colleagues by the open contempt which he manifested for their gross corruption.

Although he had taken so prominent a part in bringing King William to England, Monmouth soon became mixed up in all sorts of intrigues and plots. He was already tired of the reign of the Dutch king, and longed for a commonwealth. He was constantly quarreling with his colleagues, and whenever there was a debate in the House of Lords Monmouth took a prominent part on the side of the minority. In 1692 he went out with his regiment of horse guards to Holland, and fought bravely at the battle of Steenkirk. The campaign was a failure, and in October he returned to England with the king.

For two years after this he lived quietly, devoting his principal attention to his garden and the society of wits and men of letters. Then he again appeared in parliament, and took a leading part in the movement in opposition to the crown, and inveighed in bitter terms against the bribery of persons in power by the East India Company, and the venality of many members of parliament and even the ministry. His relations with the king were now of the coldest kind, and he became mixed up in a Jacobite plot. How far he was guilty in the matter was never proved. Public opinion certainly condemned him, and by a vote of the peers he was deprived of all his employments and sent to the Tower. The king, however, stood his friend, and released him at the end of the session.

In 1697, by the death of his uncle, Charles became Earl of Peterborough, and passed the next four years in private life, emerging only occasionally to go down to the House of Peers and make fiery onslaughts upon abuses and corruption. In the course of these years, both in parliament and at court, he had been sometimes the friend, sometimes the opponent of Marlborough; but he had the good fortune to be a favorite of the duchess, and when the time came that a leader was required for the proposed expedition to Spain, she exerted herself so effectually that she procured his nomination.

Hitherto his life had been a strange one. Indolent and energetic by turns, restless and intriguing, quarreling with all with whom he came in contact, burning with righteous indignation against corruption and misdoing, generous to a point which crippled his finances seriously, he was a puzzle to all who knew him, and had he died at this time he would only have left behind him the reputation of being one of the most brilliant, gifted, and honest, but at the same time one of the most unstable, eccentric, and ill regulated spirits of his time.