Part 1 out of 11
by Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Note: Footnotes and references to the notes at the end of the
printed book have been inserted in the etext in square
brackets ("") close to the place where they were
indicated by a suffix in the original text. The notes
at the end are now numbered instead of using pages to
identify them as was done in the printed text.
Text in italics has been written in capital letters.
A certain degree of success, real or supposed, in the delineation
of Queen Mary, naturally induced the author to attempt something
similar respecting "her sister and her foe," the celebrated
Elizabeth. He will not, however, pretend to have approached the
task with the same feelings; for the candid Robertson himself
confesses having felt the prejudices with which a Scottishman is
tempted to regard the subject; and what so liberal a historian
avows, a poor romance-writer dares not disown. But he hopes the
influence of a prejudice, almost as natural to him as his native
air, will not be found to have greatly affected the sketch he has
attempted of England's Elizabeth. I have endeavoured to describe
her as at once a high-minded sovereign, and a female of
passionate feelings, hesitating betwixt the sense of her rank and
the duty she owed her subjects on the one hand, and on the other
her attachment to a nobleman, who, in external qualifications at
least, amply merited her favour. The interest of the story is
thrown upon that period when the sudden death of the first
Countess of Leicester seemed to open to the ambition of her
husband the opportunity of sharing the crown of his sovereign.
It is possible that slander, which very seldom favours the
memories of persons in exalted stations, may have blackened the
character of Leicester with darker shades than really belonged to
it. But the almost general voice of the times attached the most
foul suspicions to the death of the unfortunate Countess, more
especially as it took place so very opportunely for the
indulgence of her lover's ambition. If we can trust Ashmole's
Antiquities of Berkshire, there was but too much ground for the
traditions which charge Leicester with the murder of his wife.
In the following extract of the passage, the reader will find the
authority I had for the story of the romance:--
"At the west end of the church are the ruins of a manor,
anciently belonging (as a cell, or place of removal, as some
report) to the monks of Abington. At the Dissolution, the said
manor, or lordship, was conveyed to one -- Owen (I believe), the
possessor of Godstow then.
"In the hall, over the chimney, I find Abington arms cut in
stone--namely, a patonee between four martletts; and also another
escutcheon--namely, a lion rampant, and several mitres cut in
stone about the house. There is also in the said house a chamber
called Dudley's chamber, where the Earl of Leicester's wife was
murdered, of which this is the story following:--
"Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a very goodly personage, and
singularly well featured, being a great favourite to Queen
Elizabeth, it was thought, and commonly reported, that had he
been a bachelor or widower, the Queen would have made him her
husband; to this end, to free himself of all obstacles, he
commands, or perhaps, with fair flattering entreaties, desires
his wife to repose herself here at his servant Anthony Forster's
house, who then lived in the aforesaid manor-house; and also
prescribes to Sir Richard Varney (a prompter to this design), at
his coming hither, that he should first attempt to poison her,
and if that did not take effect, then by any other way whatsoever
to dispatch her. This, it seems, was proved by the report of Dr.
Walter Bayly, sometime fellow of New College, then living in
Oxford, and professor of physic in that university; whom, because
he would not consent to take away her life by poison, the Earl
endeavoured to displace him the court. This man, it seems,
reported for most certain that there was a practice in Cumnor
among the conspirators, to have poisoned this poor innocent lady,
a little before she was killed, which was attempted after this
manner:--They seeing the good lady sad and heavy (as one that
well knew, by her other handling, that her death was not far
off), began to persuade her that her present disease was
abundance of melancholy and other humours, etc., and therefore
would needs counsel her to take some potion, which she absolutely
refusing to do, as still suspecting the worst; whereupon they
sent a messenger on a day (unawares to her) for Dr. Bayly, and
entreated him to persuade her to take some little potion by his
direction, and they would fetch the same at Oxford; meaning to
have added something of their own for her comfort, as the doctor
upon just cause and consideration did suspect, seeing their great
importunity, and the small need the lady had of physic, and
therefore he peremptorily denied their request; misdoubting (as
he afterwards reported) lest, if they had poisoned her under the
name of his potion, he might after have been hanged for a colour
of their sin, and the doctor remained still well assured that
this way taking no effect, she would not long escape their
violence, which afterwards happened thus. For Sir Richard Varney
abovesaid (the chief projector in this design), who, by the
Earl's order, remained that day of her death alone with her, with
one man only and Forster, who had that day forcibly sent away all
her servants from her to Abington market, about three miles
distant from this place; they (I say, whether first stifling her,
or else strangling her) afterwards flung her down a pair of
stairs and broke her neck, using much violence upon her; but,
however, though it was vulgarly reported that she by chance fell
downstairs (but still without hurting her hood that was upon her
head), yet the inhabitants will tell you there that she was
conveyed from her usual chamber where she lay, to another where
the bed's head of the chamber stood close to a privy postern
door, where they in the night came and stifled her in her bed,
bruised her head very much broke her neck, and at length flung
her down stairs, thereby believing the world would have thought
it a mischance, and so have blinded their villainy. But behold
the mercy and justice of God in revenging and discovering this
lady's murder; for one of the persons that was a coadjutor in
this murder was afterwards taken for a felony in the marches of
Wales, and offering to publish the manner of the aforesaid
murder, was privately made away in the prison by the Earl's
appointment; and Sir Richard Varney the other, dying about the
same time in London, cried miserably, and blasphemed God, and
said to a person of note (who hath related the same to others
since), not long before his death, that all the devils in hell
did tear him in pieces. Forster, likewise, after this fact,
being a man formerly addicted to hospitality, company, mirth, and
music, was afterwards observed to forsake all this, and with much
melancholy and pensiveness (some say with madness) pined and
drooped away. The wife also of Bald Butter, kinsman to the Earl,
gave out the whole fact a little before her death. Neither are
these following passages to be forgotten, that as soon as ever
she was murdered, they made great haste to bury her before the
coroner had given in his inquest (which the Earl himself
condemned as not done advisedly), which her father, or Sir John
Robertsett (as I suppose), hearing of, came with all speed
hither, caused her corpse to be taken up, the coroner to sit upon
her, and further inquiry to be made concerning this business to
the full; but it was generally thought that the Earl stopped his
mouth, and made up the business betwixt them; and the good Earl,
to make plain to the world the great love he bare to her while
alive, and what a grief the loss of so virtuous a lady was to his
tender heart, caused (though the thing, by these and other means,
was beaten into the heads of the principal men of the University
of Oxford) her body to be reburied in St, Mary's Church in
Oxford, with great pomp and solemnity. It is remarkable, when
Dr. Babington, the Earl's chaplain, did preach the funeral
sermon, he tript once or twice in his speech, by recommending to
their memories that virtuous lady so pitifully murdered, instead
of saying pitifully slain. This Earl, after all his murders and
poisonings, was himself poisoned by that which was prepared for
others (some say by his wife at Cornbury Lodge before mentioned),
though Baker in his Chronicle would have it at Killingworth; anno
1588." [Ashmole's Antiquities of Berkshire, vol.i., p.149. The
tradition as to Leicester's death was thus communicated by Ben
Jonson to Drummond of Hawthornden:--"The Earl of Leicester gave
a bottle of liquor to his Lady, which he willed her to use in any
faintness, which she, after his returne from court, not knowing
it was poison, gave him, and so he died."--BEN JONSON'S
INFORMATION TO DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN, MS., SIR ROBERT SIBBALD'S
The same accusation has been adopted and circulated by the author
of Leicester's Commonwealth, a satire written directly against
the Earl of Leicester, which loaded him with the most horrid
crimes, and, among the rest, with the murder of his first wife.
It was alluded to in the Yorkshire Tragedy, a play erroneously
ascribed to Shakespeare, where a baker, who determines to destroy
all his family, throws his wife downstairs, with this allusion to
the supposed murder of Leicester's lady,--
"The only way to charm a woman's tongue
Is, break her neck--a politician did it."
The reader will find I have borrowed several incidents as well as
names from Ashmole, and the more early authorities; but my first
acquaintance with the history was through the more pleasing
medium of verse. There is a period in youth when the mere power
of numbers has a more strong effect on ear and imagination than
in more advanced life. At this season of immature taste, the
author was greatly delighted with the poems of Mickle and
Langhorne, poets who, though by no means deficient in the higher
branches of their art, were eminent for their powers of verbal
melody above most who have practised this department of poetry.
One of those pieces of Mickle, which the author was particularly
pleased with, is a ballad, or rather a species of elegy, on the
subject of Cumnor Hall, which, with others by the same author,
was to be found in Evans's Ancient Ballads (vol. iv., page 130),
to which work Mickle made liberal contributions. The first
stanza especially had a peculiar species of enchantment for the
youthful ear of the author, the force of which is not even now
entirely spent; some others are sufficiently prosaic.
The dews of summer night did fall;
The moon, sweet regent of the sky,
Silver'd the walls of Cumnor Hall,
And many an oak that grew thereby,
Now nought was heard beneath the skies,
The sounds of busy life were still,
Save an unhappy lady's sighs,
That issued from that lonely pile.
"Leicester," she cried, "is this thy love
That thou so oft hast sworn to me,
To leave me in this lonely grove,
Immured in shameful privity?
"No more thou com'st with lover's speed,
Thy once beloved bride to see;
But be she alive, or be she dead,
I fear, stern Earl, 's the same to thee.
"Not so the usage I received
When happy in my father's hall;
No faithless husband then me grieved,
No chilling fears did me appal.
"I rose up with the cheerful morn,
No lark more blithe, no flower more gay;
And like the bird that haunts the thorn,
So merrily sung the livelong day.
"If that my beauty is but small,
Among court ladies all despised,
Why didst thou rend it from that hall,
Where, scornful Earl, it well was prized?
"And when you first to me made suit,
How fair I was you oft would say!
And proud of conquest, pluck'd the fruit,
Then left the blossom to decay.
"Yes! now neglected and despised,
The rose is pale, the lily's dead;
But he that once their charms so prized,
Is sure the cause those charms are fled.
"For know, when sick'ning grief doth prey,
And tender love's repaid with scorn,
The sweetest beauty will decay,--
What floweret can endure the storm?
"At court, I'm told, is beauty's throne,
Where every lady's passing rare,
That Eastern flowers, that shame the sun,
Are not so glowing, not so fair.
"Then, Earl, why didst thou leave the beds
Where roses and where lilies vie,
To seek a primrose, whose pale shades
Must sicken when those gauds are by?
"'Mong rural beauties I was one,
Among the fields wild flowers are fair;
Some country swain might me have won,
And thought my beauty passing rare.
"But, Leicester (or I much am wrong),
Or 'tis not beauty lures thy vows;
Rather ambition's gilded crown
Makes thee forget thy humble spouse.
"Then, Leicester, why, again I plead
(The injured surely may repine)--
Why didst thou wed a country maid,
When some fair princess might be thine?
"Why didst thou praise my hum'ble charms,
And, oh! then leave them to decay?
Why didst thou win me to thy arms,
Then leave to mourn the livelong day?
"The village maidens of the plain
Salute me lowly as they go;
Envious they mark my silken train,
Nor think a Countess can have woe.
"The simple nymphs! they little know
How far more happy's their estate;
To smile for joy, than sigh for woe--
To be content, than to be great.
"How far less blest am I than them?
Daily to pine and waste with care!
Like the poor plant that, from its stem
Divided, feels the chilling air.
"Nor, cruel Earl! can I enjoy
The humble charms of solitude;
Your minions proud my peace destroy,
By sullen frowns or pratings rude.
"Last night, as sad I chanced to stray,
The village death-bell smote my ear;
They wink'd aside, and seemed to say,
'Countess, prepare, thy end is near!'
"And now, while happy peasants sleep,
Here I sit lonely and forlorn;
No one to soothe me as I weep,
Save Philomel on yonder thorn.
"My spirits flag--my hopes decay--
Still that dread death-bell smites my ear;
And many a boding seems to say,
'Countess, prepare, thy end is near!'"
Thus sore and sad that lady grieved,
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear;
And many a heartfelt sigh she heaved,
And let fall many a bitter tear.
And ere the dawn of day appear'd,
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear,
Full many a piercing scream was heard,
And many a cry of mortal fear.
The death-bell thrice was heard to ring,
An aerial voice was heard to call,
And thrice the raven flapp'd its wing
Around the towers of Cumnor Hall.
The mastiff howl'd at village door,
The oaks were shatter'd on the green;
Woe was the hour--for never more
That hapless Countess e'er was seen!
And in that Manor now no more
Is cheerful feast and sprightly ball;
For ever since that dreary hour
Have spirits haunted Cumnor Hall.
The village maids, with fearful glance,
Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall;
Nor ever lead the merry dance,
Among the groves of Cumnor Hall.
Full many a traveller oft hath sigh'd,
And pensive wept the Countess' fall,
As wand'ring onward they've espied
The haunted towers of Cumnor Hall.
1st March 1831.
I am an innkeeper, and know my grounds,
And study them; Brain o' man, I study them.
I must have jovial guests to drive my ploughs,
And whistling boys to bring my harvests home,
Or I shall hear no flails thwack. THE NEW INN.
It is the privilege of tale-tellers to open their story in an
inn, the free rendezvous of all travellers, and where the humour
of each displays itself without ceremony or restraint. This is
specially suitable when the scene is laid during the old days of
merry England, when the guests were in some sort not merely the
inmates, but the messmates and temporary companions of mine Host,
who was usually a personage of privileged freedom, comely
presence, and good-humour. Patronized by him the characters of
the company were placed in ready contrast; and they seldom
failed, during the emptying of a six-hooped pot, to throw off
reserve, and present themselves to each other, and to their
landlord, with the freedom of old acquaintance.
The village of Cumnor, within three or four miles of Oxford,
boasted, during the eighteenth of Queen Elizabeth, an excellent
inn of the old stamp, conducted, or rather ruled, by Giles
Gosling, a man of a goodly person, and of somewhat round belly;
fifty years of age and upwards, moderate in his reckonings,
prompt in his payments, having a cellar of sound liquor, a ready
wit, and a pretty daughter. Since the days of old Harry Baillie
of the Tabard in Southwark, no one had excelled Giles Gosling in
the power of pleasing his guests of every description; and so
great was his fame, that to have been in Cumnor without wetting a
cup at the bonny Black Bear, would have been to avouch one's-self
utterly indifferent to reputation as a traveller. A country
fellow might as well return from London without looking in the
face of majesty. The men of Cumnor were proud of their Host, and
their Host was proud of his house, his liquor, his daughter, and
It was in the courtyard of the inn which called this honest
fellow landlord, that a traveller alighted in the close of the
evening, gave his horse, which seemed to have made a long
journey, to the hostler, and made some inquiry, which produced
the following dialogue betwixt the myrmidons of the bonny Black
"What, ho! John Tapster."
"At hand, Will Hostler," replied the man of the spigot, showing
himself in his costume of loose jacket, linen breeches, and green
apron, half within and half without a door, which appeared to
descend to an outer cellar.
"Here is a gentleman asks if you draw good ale," continued the
"Beshrew my heart else," answered the tapster, "since there are
but four miles betwixt us and Oxford. Marry, if my ale did not
convince the heads of the scholars, they would soon convince my
pate with the pewter flagon."
"Call you that Oxford logic?" said the stranger, who had now
quitted the rein of his horse, and was advancing towards the inn-
door, when he was encountered by the goodly form of Giles Gosling
"Is it logic you talk of, Sir Guest?" said the host; "why, then,
have at you with a downright consequence--
'The horse to the rack,
And to fire with the sack.'"
"Amen! with all my heart, my good host," said the stranger; "let
it be a quart of your best Canaries, and give me your good help
to drink it."
"Nay, you are but in your accidence yet, Sir Traveller, if you
call on your host for help for such a sipping matter as a quart
of sack; Were it a gallon, you might lack some neighbouring aid
at my hand, and yet call yourself a toper."
"Fear me not." said the guest, "I will do my devoir as becomes a
man who finds himself within five miles of Oxford; for I am not
come from the field of Mars to discredit myself amongst the
followers of Minerva."
As he spoke thus, the landlord, with much semblance of hearty
welcome, ushered his guest into a large, low chamber, where
several persons were seated together in different parties--some
drinking, some playing at cards, some conversing, and some, whose
business called them to be early risers on the morrow, concluding
their evening meal, and conferring with the chamberlain about
their night's quarters.
The entrance of a stranger procured him that general and careless
sort of attention which is usually paid on such occasions, from
which the following results were deduced:--The guest was one of
those who, with a well-made person, and features not in
themselves unpleasing, are nevertheless so far from handsome
that, whether from the expression of their features, or the tone
of their voice, or from their gait and manner, there arises, on
the whole, a disinclination to their society. The stranger's
address was bold, without being frank, and seemed eagerly and
hastily to claim for him a degree of attention and deference
which he feared would be refused, if not instantly vindicated as
his right. His attire was a riding-cloak, which, when open,
displayed a handsome jerkin overlaid with lace, and belted with a
buff girdle, which sustained a broadsword and a pair of pistols.
"You ride well provided, sir," said the host, looking at the
weapons as he placed on the table the mulled sack which the
traveller had ordered.
"Yes, mine host; I have found the use on't in dangerous times,
and I do not, like your modern grandees, turn off my followers
the instant they are useless."
"Ay, sir?" said Giles Gosling; "then you are from the Low
Countries, the land of pike and caliver?"
"I have been high and low, my friend, broad and wide, far and
near. But here is to thee in a cup of thy sack; fill thyself
another to pledge me, and, if it is less than superlative, e'en
drink as you have brewed."
"Less than superlative?" said Giles Gosling, drinking off the
cup, and smacking his lips with an air of ineffable relish,--"I
know nothing of superlative, nor is there such a wine at the
Three Cranes, in the Vintry, to my knowledge; but if you find
better sack than that in the Sheres, or in the Canaries either, I
would I may never touch either pot or penny more. Why, hold it
up betwixt you and the light, you shall see the little motes
dance in the golden liquor like dust in the sunbeam. But I would
rather draw wine for ten clowns than one traveller.--I trust your
honour likes the wine?"
"It is neat and comfortable, mine host; but to know good liquor,
you should drink where the vine grows. Trust me, your Spaniard
is too wise a man to send you the very soul of the grape. Why,
this now, which you account so choice, were counted but as a cup
of bastard at the Groyne, or at Port St. Mary's. You should
travel, mine host, if you would be deep in the mysteries of the
butt and pottle-pot."
"In troth, Signior Guest," said Giles Gosling, "if I were to
travel only that I might be discontented with that which I can
get at home, methinks I should go but on a fool's errand.
Besides, I warrant you, there is many a fool can turn his nose up
at good drink without ever having been out of the smoke of Old
England; and so ever gramercy mine own fireside."
"This is but a mean mind of yours, mine host," said the stranger;
"I warrant me, all your town's folk do not think so basely. You
have gallants among you, I dare undertake, that have made the
Virginia voyage, or taken a turn in the Low Countries at least.
Come, cudgel your memory. Have you no friends in foreign parts
that you would gladly have tidings of?"
"Troth, sir, not I," answered the host, "since ranting Robin of
Drysandford was shot at the siege of the Brill. The devil take
the caliver that fired the ball, for a blither lad never filled a
cup at midnight! But he is dead and gone, and I know not a
soldier, or a traveller, who is a soldier's mate, that I would
give a peeled codling for."
"By the Mass, that is strange. What! so many of our brave
English hearts are abroad, and you, who seem to be a man of mark,
have no friend, no kinsman among them?"
"Nay, if you speak of kinsmen," answered Gosling, "I have one
wild slip of a kinsman, who left us in the last year of Queen
Mary; but he is better lost than found."
"Do not say so, friend, unless you have heard ill of him lately.
Many a wild colt has turned out a noble steed.--His name, I pray
"Michael Lambourne," answered the landlord of the Black Bear; "a
son of my sister's--there is little pleasure in recollecting
either the name or the connection."
"Michael Lambourne!" said the stranger, as if endeavouring to
recollect himself--"what, no relation to Michael Lambourne, the
gallant cavalier who behaved so bravely at the siege of Venlo
that Grave Maurice thanked him at the head of the army? Men said
he was an English cavalier, and of no high extraction."
"It could scarcely be my nephew," said Giles Gosling, "for he had
not the courage of a hen-partridge for aught but mischief."
"Oh, many a man finds courage in the wars," replied the stranger.
"It may be," said the landlord; "but I would have thought our
Mike more likely to lose the little he had."
"The Michael Lambourne whom I knew," continued the traveller,
"was a likely fellow--went always gay and well attired, and had a
hawk's eye after a pretty wench."
"Our Michael," replied the host, "had the look of a dog with a
bottle at its tail, and wore a coat, every rag of which was
bidding good-day to the rest."
"Oh, men pick up good apparel in the wars," replied the guest.
"Our Mike," answered the landlord, "was more like to pick it up
in a frippery warehouse, while the broker was looking another
way; and, for the hawk's eye you talk of, his was always after my
stray spoons. He was tapster's boy here in this blessed house
for a quarter of a year; and between misreckonings, miscarriages,
mistakes, and misdemeanours, had he dwelt with me for three
months longer, I might have pulled down sign, shut up house, and
given the devil the key to keep."
"You would be sorry, after all," continued the traveller, "were I
to tell you poor Mike Lambourne was shot at the head of his
regiment at the taking of a sconce near Maestricht?"
"Sorry!--it would be the blithest news I ever heard of him, since
it would ensure me he was not hanged. But let him pass--I doubt
his end will never do such credit to his friends. Were it so, I
should say"--(taking another cup of sack)--"Here's God rest him,
with all my heart."
"Tush, man," replied the traveller, "never fear but you will have
credit by your nephew yet, especially if he be the Michael
Lambourne whom I knew, and loved very nearly, or altogether, as
well as myself. Can you tell me no mark by which I could judge
whether they be the same?"
"Faith, none that I can think of," answered Giles Gosling,
"unless that our Mike had the gallows branded on his left
shoulder for stealing a silver caudle-cup from Dame Snort of
"Nay, there you lie like a knave, uncle," said the stranger,
slipping aside his ruff; and turning down the sleeve of his
doublet from his neck and shoulder; "by this good day, my
shoulder is as unscarred as thine own.
"What, Mike, boy--Mike!" exclaimed the host;--"and is it thou,
in good earnest? Nay, I have judged so for this half-hour; for I
knew no other person would have ta'en half the interest in thee.
But, Mike, an thy shoulder be unscathed as thou sayest, thou must
own that Goodman Thong, the hangman, was merciful in his office,
and stamped thee with a cold iron."
"Tush, uncle--truce with your jests. Keep them to season your
sour ale, and let us see what hearty welcome thou wilt give a
kinsman who has rolled the world around for eighteen years; who
has seen the sun set where it rises, and has travelled till the
west has become the east."
"Thou hast brought back one traveller's gift with thee, Mike, as
I well see; and that was what thou least didst: need to travel
for. I remember well, among thine other qualities, there was no
crediting a word which came from thy mouth."
"Here's an unbelieving pagan for you, gentlemen!" said Michael
Lambourne, turning to those who witnessed this strange interview
betwixt uncle and nephew, some of whom, being natives of the
village, were no strangers to his juvenile wildness. "This may
be called slaying a Cumnor fatted calf for me with a vengeance.--
But, uncle, I come not from the husks and the swine-trough, and I
care not for thy welcome or no welcome; I carry that with me will
make me welcome, wend where I will."
So saying, he pulled out a purse of gold indifferently well
filled, the sight of which produced a visible effect upon the
company. Some shook their heads and whispered to each other,
while one or two of the less scrupulous speedily began to
recollect him as a school-companion, a townsman, or so forth. On
the other hand, two or three grave, sedate-looking persons shook
their heads, and left the inn, hinting that, if Giles Gosling
wished to continue to thrive, he should turn his thriftless,
godless nephew adrift again, as soon as he could. Gosling
demeaned himself as if he were much of the same opinion, for even
the sight of the gold made less impression on the honest
gentleman than it usually doth upon one of his calling.
"Kinsman Michael," he said, "put up thy purse. My sister's son
shall be called to no reckoning in my house for supper or
lodging; and I reckon thou wilt hardly wish to stay longer where
thou art e'en but too well known."
"For that matter, uncle," replied the traveller, "I shall consult
my own needs and conveniences. Meantime I wish to give the
supper and sleeping cup to those good townsmen who are not too
proud to remember Mike Lambourne, the tapster's boy. If you will
let me have entertainment for my money, so; if not, it is but a
short two minutes' walk to the Hare and Tabor, and I trust our
neighbours will not grudge going thus far with me."
"Nay, Mike," replied his uncle, "as eighteen years have gone over
thy head, and I trust thou art somewhat amended in thy
conditions, thou shalt not leave my house at this hour, and shalt
e'en have whatever in reason you list to call for. But I would I
knew that that purse of thine, which thou vapourest of, were as
well come by as it seems well filled."
"Here is an infidel for you, my good neighbours!" said
Lambourne, again appealing to the audience. "Here's a fellow
will rip up his kinsman's follies of a good score of years'
standing. And for the gold, why, sirs, I have been where it
grew, and was to be had for the gathering. In the New World have
I been, man--in the Eldorado, where urchins play at cherry-pit
with diamonds, and country wenches thread rubies for necklaces,
instead of rowan-tree berries; where the pantiles are made of
pure gold, and the paving-stones of virgin silver."
"By my credit, friend Mike," said young Laurence Goldthred, the
cutting mercer of Abingdon, "that were a likely coast to trade
to. And what may lawns, cypruses, and ribands fetch, where gold
is so plenty?"
"Oh, the profit were unutterable," replied Lambourne, "especially
when a handsome young merchant bears the pack himself; for the
ladies of that clime are bona-robas, and being themselves somewhat
sunburnt, they catch fire like tinder at a fresh complexion like
thine, with a head of hair inclining to be red."
"I would I might trade thither," said the mercer, chuckling.
"Why, and so thou mayest," said Michael--"that is, if thou art
the same brisk boy who was partner with me at robbing the Abbot's
orchard. 'Tis but a little touch of alchemy to decoct thy house
and land into ready money, and that ready money into a tall ship,
with sails, anchors, cordage, and all things conforming; then
clap thy warehouse of goods under hatches, put fifty good fellows
on deck, with myself to command them, and so hoist topsails, and
hey for the New World!"
"Thou hast taught him a secret, kinsman," said Giles Gosling, "to
decoct, an that be the word, his pound into a penny and his webs
into a thread.--Take a fool's advice, neighbour Goldthred. Tempt
not the sea, for she is a devourer. Let cards and cockatrices do
their worst, thy father's bales may bide a banging for a year or
two ere thou comest to the Spital; but the sea hath a bottomless
appetite,--she would swallow the wealth of Lombard Street in a
morning, as easily as I would a poached egg and a cup of clary.
And for my kinsman's Eldorado, never trust me if I do not believe
he has found it in the pouches of some such gulls as thyself.--
But take no snuff in the nose about it; fall to and welcome, for
here comes the supper, and I heartily bestow it on all that will
take share, in honour of my hopeful nephew's return, always
trusting that he has come home another man.--In faith, kinsman,
thou art as like my poor sister as ever was son to mother."
"Not quite so like old Benedict Lambourne, her husband, though,"
said the mercer, nodding and winking. "Dost thou remember, Mike,
what thou saidst when the schoolmaster's ferule was over thee for
striking up thy father's crutches?--it is a wise child, saidst
thou, that knows its own father. Dr. Bircham laughed till he
cried again, and his crying saved yours."
"Well, he made it up to me many a day after," said Lambourne;
"and how is the worthy pedagogue?"
"Dead," said Giles Gosling, "this many a day since."
"That he is," said the clerk of the parish; "I sat by his bed the
whilst. He passed away in a blessed frame. 'MORIOR--MORTUUS SUM
VEL FUI--MORI'--these were his latest words; and he just added,
'my last verb is conjugated."
"Well, peace be with him," said Mike, "he owes me nothing."
"No, truly," replied Goldthred; "and every lash which he laid on
thee, he always was wont to say, he spared the hangman a labour."
"One would have thought he left him little to do then," said the
clerk; "and yet Goodman Thong had no sinecure of it with our
friend, after all."
"VOTO A DIOS!" exclaimed Lambourne, his patience appearing to
fail him, as he snatched his broad, slouched hat from the table
and placed it on his head, so that the shadow gave the sinister
expression of a Spanish brave to eyes and features which
naturally boded nothing pleasant. "Hark'ee, my masters--all is
fair among friends, and under the rose; and I have already
permitted my worthy uncle here, and all of you, to use your
pleasure with the frolics of my nonage. But I carry sword and
dagger, my good friends, and can use them lightly too upon
occasion. I have learned to be dangerous upon points of honour
ever since I served the Spaniard, and I would not have you
provoke me to the degree of falling foul."
"Why, what would you do?" said the clerk.
"Ay, sir, what would you do?" said the mercer, bustling up on
the other side of the table.
"Slit your throat, and spoil your Sunday's quavering, Sir Clerk,"
said Lambourne fiercely; "cudgel you, my worshipful dealer in
flimsy sarsenets, into one of your own bales."
"Come, come," said the host, interposing, "I will have no
swaggering here.--Nephew, it will become you best to show no
haste to take offence; and you, gentlemen, will do well to
remember, that if you are in an inn, still you are the inn-
keeper's guests, and should spare the honour of his family.--I
protest your silly broils make me as oblivious as yourself; for
yonder sits my silent guest as I call him, who hath been my two
days' inmate, and hath never spoken a word, save to ask for his
food and his reckoning--gives no more trouble than a very
peasant--pays his shot like a prince royal--looks but at the sum
total of the reckoning, and does not know what day he shall go
away. Oh, 'tis a jewel of a guest! and yet, hang-dog that I am,
I have suffered him to sit by himself like a castaway in yonder
obscure nook, without so much as asking him to take bite or sup
along with us. It were but the right guerdon of my incivility
were he to set off to the Hare and Tabor before the night grows
With his white napkin gracefully arranged over his left arm, his
velvet cap laid aside for the moment, and his best silver flagon
in his right hand, mine host walked up to the solitary guest whom
he mentioned, and thereby turned upon him the eyes of the
He was a man aged betwixt twenty-five and thirty, rather above
the middle size, dressed with plainness and decency, yet bearing
an air of ease which almost amounted to dignity, and which seemed
to infer that his habit was rather beneath his rank. His
countenance was reserved and thoughtful, with dark hair and dark
eyes; the last, upon any momentary excitement, sparkled with
uncommon lustre, but on other occasions had the same meditative
and tranquil cast which was exhibited by his features. The busy
curiosity of the little village had been employed to discover his
name and quality, as well as his business at Cumnor; but nothing
had transpired on either subject which could lead to its
gratification. Giles Gosling, head-borough of the place, and a
steady friend to Queen Elizabeth and the Protestant religion, was
at one time inclined to suspect his guest of being a Jesuit, or
seminary priest, of whom Rome and Spain sent at this time so many
to grace the gallows in England. But it was scarce possible to
retain such a prepossession against a guest who gave so little
trouble, paid his reckoning so regularly, and who proposed, as it
seemed, to make a considerable stay at the bonny Black Bear.
"Papists," argued Giles Gosling, "are a pinching, close-fisted
race, and this man would have found a lodging with the wealthy
squire at Bessellsey, or with the old Knight at Wootton, or in
some other of their Roman dens, instead of living in a house of
public entertainment, as every honest man and good Christian
should. Besides, on Friday he stuck by the salt beef and carrot,
though there were as good spitch-cocked eels on the board as ever
were ta'en out of the Isis."
Honest Giles, therefore, satisfied himself that his guest was no
Roman, and with all comely courtesy besought the stranger to
pledge him in a draught of the cool tankard, and honour with his
attention a small collation which he was giving to his nephew, in
honour of his return, and, as he verily hoped, of his
reformation. The stranger at first shook his head, as if
declining the courtesy; but mine host proceeded to urge him with
arguments founded on the credit of his house, and the
construction which the good people of Cumnor might put upon such
an unsocial humour.
"By my faith, sir," he said, "it touches my reputation that men
should be merry in my house; and we have ill tongues amongst us
at Cumnor (as where be there not?), who put an evil mark on men
who pull their hat over their brows, as if they were looking back
to the days that are gone, instead of enjoying the blithe
sunshiny weather which God has sent us in the sweet looks of our
sovereign mistress, Queen Elizabeth, whom Heaven long bless and
"Why, mine host," answered the stranger, "there is no treason,
sure, in a man's enjoying his own thoughts, under the shadow of
his own bonnet? You have lived in the world twice as long as I
have, and you must know there are thoughts that will haunt us in
spite of ourselves, and to which it is in vain to say, Begone,
and let me be merry."
"By my sooth," answered Giles Gosling, "if such troublesome
thoughts haunt your mind, and will not get them gone for plain
English, we will have one of Father Bacon's pupils from Oxford,
to conjure them away with logic and with Hebrew--or, what say you
to laying them in a glorious red sea of claret, my noble guest?
Come, sir, excuse my freedom. I am an old host, and must have my
talk. This peevish humour of melancholy sits ill upon you; it
suits not with a sleek boot, a hat of trim block, a fresh cloak,
and a full purse. A pize on it! send it off to those who have
their legs swathed with a hay-wisp, their heads thatched with a
felt bonnet, their jerkin as thin as a cobweb, and their pouch
without ever a cross to keep the fiend Melancholy from dancing in
it. Cheer up, sir! or, by this good liquor, we shall banish
thee from the joys of blithesome company, into the mists of
melancholy and the land of little-ease. Here be a set of good
fellows willing to be merry; do not scowl on them like the devil
looking over Lincoln."
"You say well, my worthy host," said the guest, with a melancholy
smile, which, melancholy as it was, gave a very pleasant:
expression to his countenance--"you say well, my jovial friend;
and they that are moody like myself should not disturb the mirth
of those who are happy. I will drink a round with your guests
with all my heart, rather than be termed a mar-feast."
So saying, he arose and joined the company, who, encouraged by
the precept and example of Michael Lambourne, and consisting
chiefly of persons much disposed to profit by the opportunity of
a merry meal at the expense of their landlord, had already made
some inroads upon the limits of temperance, as was evident from
the tone in which Michael inquired after his old acquaintances in
the town, and the bursts of laughter with which each answer was
received. Giles Gosling himself was somewhat scandalized at the
obstreperous nature of their mirth, especially as he
involuntarily felt some respect for his unknown guest. He
paused, therefore, at some distance from the table occupied by
these noisy revellers, and began to make a sort of apology for
"You would think," he said, "to hear these fellows talk, that
there was not one of them who had not been bred to live by Stand
and Deliver; and yet tomorrow you will find them a set of as
painstaking mechanics, and so forth, as ever cut an inch short of
measure, or paid a letter of change in light crowns over a
counter. The mercer there wears his hat awry, over a shaggy head
of hair, that looks like a curly water-dog's back, goes unbraced,
wears his cloak on one side, and affects a ruffianly vapouring
humour: when in his shop at Abingdon, he is, from his flat cap
to his glistening shoes, as precise in his apparel as if he was
named for mayor. He talks of breaking parks, and taking the
highway, in such fashion that you would think he haunted every
night betwixt Hounslow and London; when in fact he may be found
sound asleep on his feather-bed, with a candle placed beside him
on one side, and a Bible on the other, to fright away the
"And your nephew, mine host, this same Michael Lambourne, who is
lord of the feast--is he, too, such a would-be ruffler as the
rest of them?"
"Why, there you push me hard," said the host; "my nephew is my
nephew, and though he was a desperate Dick of yore, yet Mike may
have mended like other folks, you wot. And I would not have you
think all I said of him, even now, was strict gospel; I knew the
wag all the while, and wished to pluck his plumes from him. And
now, sir, by what name shall I present my worshipful guest to
"Marry, mine host," replied the stranger, "you may call me
"Tressilian?" answered mine host of the Bear. "A worthy name,
and, as I think, of Cornish lineage; for what says the south
'By Pol, Tre, and Pen,
You may know the Cornish men.'
Shall I say the worthy Master Tressilian of Cornwall?"
"Say no more than I have given you warrant for, mine host, and so
shall you be sure you speak no more than is true. A man may have
one of those honourable prefixes to his name, yet be born far
from Saint Michael's Mount."
Mine host pushed his curiosity no further, but presented Master
Tressilian to his nephew's company, who, after exchange of
salutations, and drinking to the health of their new companion,
pursued the conversation in which he found them engaged,
seasoning it with many an intervening pledge.
Talk you of young Master Lancelot? MERCHANT OF VENICE.
After some brief interval, Master Goldthred, at the earnest
instigation of mine host, and the joyous concurrence of his
guest, indulged the company with, the following morsel of
"Of all the birds on bush or tree,
Commend me to the owl,
Since he may best ensample be
To those the cup that trowl.
For when the sun hath left the west,
He chooses the tree that he loves the best,
And he whoops out his song, and he laughs at his jest;
Then, though hours be late and weather foul,
We'll drink to the health of the bonny, bonny owl.
"The lark is but a bumpkin fowl,
He sleeps in his nest till morn;
But my blessing upon the jolly owl,
That all night blows his horn.
Then up with your cup till you stagger in speech,
And match me this catch till you swagger and screech,
And drink till you wink, my merry men each;
For, though hours be late and weather be foul,
We'll drink to the health of the bonny, bonny owl."
"There is savour in this, my hearts," said Michael, when the
mercer had finished his song, "and some goodness seems left among
you yet; but what a bead-roll you have read me of old comrades,
and to every man's name tacked some ill-omened motto! And so
Swashing Will of Wallingford hath bid us good-night?"
"He died the death of a fat buck," said one of the party, "being
shot with a crossbow bolt, by old Thatcham, the Duke's stout
park-keeper at Donnington Castle."
"Ay, ay, he always loved venison well," replied Michael, "and a
cup of claret to boot--and so here's one to his memory. Do me
right, my masters."
When the memory of this departed worthy had been duly honoured,
Lambourne proceeded to inquire after Prance of Padworth.
"Pranced off--made immortal ten years since," said the mercer;
"marry, sir, Oxford Castle and Goodman Thong, and a tenpenny-
worth of cord, best know how."
"What, so they hung poor Prance high and dry? so much for loving
to walk by moonlight. A cup to his memory, my masters-all merry
fellows like moonlight. What has become of Hal with the Plume--
he who lived near Yattenden, and wore the long feather?--I
forget his name."
"What, Hal Hempseed?" replied the mercer. "Why, you may
remember he was a sort of a gentleman, and would meddle in state
matters, and so he got into the mire about the Duke of Norfolk's
affair these two or three years since, fled the country with a
pursuivant's warrant at his heels, and has never since been heard
"Nay, after these baulks," said Michael Lambourne, "I need hardly
inquire after Tony Foster; for when ropes, and crossbow shafts,
and pursuivant's warrants, and such-like gear, were so rife, Tony
could hardly 'scape them."
"Which Tony Foster mean you?" said the innkeeper.
"Why, him they called Tony Fire-the-Fagot, because he brought a
light to kindle the pile round Latimer and Ridley, when the wind
blew out Jack Thong's torch, and no man else would give him light
for love or money."
"Tony Foster lives and thrives," said the host. "But, kinsman, I
would not have you call him Tony Fire-the-Fagot, if you would
not brook the stab."
"How! is he grown ashamed on't?" said Lambourne, "Why, he was
wont to boast of it, and say he liked as well to see a roasted
heretic as a roasted ox."
"Ay, but, kinsman, that was in Mary's time," replied the
landlord, "when Tony's father was reeve here to the Abbot of
Abingdon. But since that, Tony married a pure precisian, and is
as good a Protestant, I warrant you, as the best."
"And looks grave, and holds his head high, and scorns his old
companions," said the mercer.
"Then he hath prospered, I warrant him," said Lambourne; "for
ever when a man hath got nobles of his own, he keeps out of the
way of those whose exchequers lie in other men's purchase."
"Prospered, quotha!" said the mercer; "why, you remember Cumnor
Place, the old mansion-house beside the churchyard?"
"By the same token, I robbed the orchard three times-- what of
that? It was the old abbot's residence when there was plague or
sickness at Abingdon."
"Ay," said the host, "but that has been long over; and Anthony
Foster hath a right in it, and lives there by some grant from a
great courtier, who had the church-lands from the crown. And
there he dwells, and has as little to do with any poor wight in
Cumnor, as if he were himself a belted knight."
"Nay," said the mercer, "it is not altogether pride in Tony
neither; there is a fair lady in the case, and Tony will scarce
let the light of day look on her."
"How!" said Tressilian, who now for the first time interfered in
their conversation; "did ye not say this Foster was married, and
to a precisian?"
"Married he was, and to as bitter a precisian as ever ate flesh
in Lent; and a cat-and-dog life she led with Tony, as men said.
But she is dead, rest be with her! and Tony hath but a slip of a
daughter; so it is thought he means to wed this stranger, that
men keep such a coil about."
"And why so?--I mean, why do they keep a coil about her?" said
"Why, I wot not," answered the host, "except that men say she is
as beautiful as an angel, and no one knows whence she comes, and
every one wishes to know why she is kept so closely mewed up.
For my part, I never saw her--you have, I think, Master
"That I have, old boy," said the mercer. "Look you, I was riding
hither from Abingdon. I passed under the east oriel window of
the old mansion, where all the old saints and histories and such-
like are painted. It was not the common path I took, but one
through the Park; for the postern door was upon the latch, and I
thought I might take the privilege of an old comrade to ride
across through the trees, both for shading, as the day was
somewhat hot, and for avoiding of dust, because I had on my
peach-coloured doublet, pinked out with cloth of gold."
"Which garment," said Michael Lambourne, "thou wouldst willingly
make twinkle in the eyes of a fair dame. Ah! villain, thou wilt
never leave thy old tricks."
"Not so-not so," said the mercer, with a smirking laugh--"not
altogether so--but curiosity, thou knowest, and a strain of
compassion withal; for the poor young lady sees nothing from morn
to even but Tony Foster, with his scowling black brows, his
bull's head, and his bandy legs."
"And thou wouldst willingly show her a dapper body, in a silken
jerkin--a limb like a short-legged hen's, in a cordovan boot--
and a round, simpering, what-d'ye-lack sort of a countenance,
set off with a velvet bonnet, a Turkey feather, and a gilded
brooch? Ah! jolly mercer, they who have good wares are fond to
show them!--Come, gentles, let not the cup stand--here's to long
spurs, short boots, full bonnets, and empty skulls!"
"Nay, now, you are jealous of me, Mike," said Goldthred; "and yet
my luck was but what might have happened to thee, or any man."
"Marry confound thine impudence," retorted Lambourne; "thou
wouldst not compare thy pudding face, and sarsenet manners, to a
gentleman, and a soldier?"
"Nay, my good sir," said Tressilian, "let me beseech you will not
interrupt the gallant citizen; methinks he tells his tale so
well, I could hearken to him till midnight."
"It's more of your favour than of my desert," answered Master
Goldthred; "but since I give you pleasure, worthy Master
Tressilian, I shall proceed, maugre all the gibes and quips of
this valiant soldier, who, peradventure, hath had more cuffs than
crowns in the Low Countries. And so, sir, as I passed under the
great painted window, leaving my rein loose on my ambling
palfrey's neck, partly for mine ease, and partly that I might
have the more leisure to peer about, I hears me the lattice open;
and never credit me, sir, if there did not stand there the person
of as fair a woman as ever crossed mine eyes; and I think I have
looked on as many pretty wenches, and with as much judgment, as
"May I ask her appearance, sir?" said Tressilian.
"Oh, sir," replied Master Goldthred, "I promise you, she was in
gentlewoman's attire--a very quaint and pleasing dress, that
might have served the Queen herself; for she had a forepart with
body and sleeves, of ginger-coloured satin, which, in my
judgment, must have cost by the yard some thirty shillings, lined
with murrey taffeta, and laid down and guarded with two broad
laces of gold and silver. And her hat, sir, was truly the best
fashioned thing that I have seen in these parts, being of tawny
taffeta, embroidered with scorpions of Venice gold, and having a
border garnished with gold fringe--I promise you, sir, an
absolute and all-surpassing device. Touching her skirts, they
were in the old pass-devant fashion."
"I did not ask you of her attire, sir," said Tressilian, who had
shown some impatience during this conversation, "but of her
complexion--the colour of her hair, her features."
"Touching her complexion," answered the mercer, "I am not so
special certain, but I marked that her fan had an ivory handle,
curiously inlaid. And then again, as to the colour of her hair,
why, I can warrant, be its hue what it might, that she wore above
it a net of green silk, parcel twisted with gold."
"A most mercer-like memory!" said Lambourne. "The gentleman
asks him of the lady's beauty, and he talks of her fine clothes!"
"I tell thee," said the mercer, somewhat disconcerted, "I had
little time to look at her; for just as I was about to give her
the good time of day, and for that purpose had puckered my
features with a smile--"
"Like those of a jackanape simpering at a chestnut," said Michael
"Up started of a sudden," continued Goldthred, without heeding
the interruption, "Tony Foster himself, with a cudgel in his
"And broke thy head across, I hope, for thine impertinence," said
"That were more easily said than done," answered Goldthred
indignantly; "no, no--there was no breaking of heads. It's true,
he advanced his cudgel, and spoke of laying on, and asked why I
did not keep the public road, and such like; and I would have
knocked him over the pate handsomely for his pains, only for the
lady's presence, who might have swooned, for what I know."
"Now, out upon thee for a faint-spirited slave!" said Lambourne;
"what adventurous knight ever thought of the lady's terror, when
he went to thwack giant, dragon, or magician, in her presence,
and for her deliverance? But why talk to thee of dragons, who
would be driven back by a dragon-fly. There thou hast missed the
"Take it thyself, then, bully Mike," answered Goldthred. "Yonder
is the enchanted manor, and the dragon, and the lady, all at thy
service, if thou darest venture on them."
"Why, so I would for a quartern of sack," said the soldier --"or
stay: I am foully out of linen--wilt thou bet a piece of
Hollands against these five angels, that I go not up to the Hall
to-morrow and force Tony Foster to introduce me to his fair
"I accept your wager," said the mercer; "and I think, though thou
hadst even the impudence of the devil, I shall gain on thee this
bout. Our landlord here shall hold stakes, and I will stake down
gold till I send the linen."
"I will hold stakes on no such matter," said Gosling. "Good now,
my kinsman, drink your wine in quiet, and let such ventures
alone. I promise you, Master Foster hath interest enough to lay
you up in lavender in the Castle at Oxford, or to get your legs
made acquainted with the town-stocks."
"That would be but renewing an old intimacy, for Mike's shins and
the town's wooden pinfold have been well known to each other ere
now," said the mercer; "but he shall not budge from his wager,
unless he means to pay forfeit."
"Forfeit?" said Lambourne; "I scorn it. I value Tony Foster's
wrath no more than a shelled pea-cod; and I will visit his
Lindabrides, by Saint George, be he willing or no!"
"I would gladly pay your halves of the risk, sir," said
Tressilian, "to be permitted to accompany you on the adventure."
"In what would that advantage you, sir?" answered Lambourne.
"In nothing, sir," said Tressilian, "unless to mark the skill and
valour with which you conduct yourself. I am a traveller who
seeks for strange rencounters and uncommon passages, as the
knights of yore did after adventures and feats of arms."
"Nay, if it pleasures you to see a trout tickled," answered
Lambourne, "I care not how many witness my skill. And so here I
drink success to my enterprise; and he that will not pledge me on
his knees is a rascal, and I will cut his legs off by the
The draught which Michael Lambourne took upon this occasion had
been preceded by so many others, that reason tottered on her
throne. He swore one or two incoherent oaths at the mercer, who
refused, reasonably enough, to pledge him to a sentiment which
inferred the loss of his own wager.
"Wilt thou chop logic with me," said Lambourne, "thou knave, with
no more brains than are in a skein of ravelled silk? By Heaven,
I will cut thee into fifty yards of galloon lace!"
But as he attempted to draw his sword for this doughty purpose,
Michael Lambourne was seized upon by the tapster and the
chamberlain, and conveyed to his own apartment, there to sleep
himself sober at his leisure.
The party then broke up, and the guests took their leave; much
more to the contentment of mine host than of some of the company,
who were unwilling to quit good liquor, when it was to be had for
free cost, so long as they were able to sit by it. They were,
however, compelled to remove; and go at length they did, leaving
Gosling and Tressilian in the empty apartment.
"By my faith," said the former, "I wonder where our great folks
find pleasure, when they spend their means in entertainments, and
in playing mine host without sending in a reckoning. It is what
I but rarely practise; and whenever I do, by Saint Julian, it
grieves me beyond measure. Each of these empty stoups now, which
my nephew and his drunken comrades have swilled off, should have
been a matter of profit to one in my line, and I must set them
down a dead loss. I cannot, for my heart, conceive the pleasure
of noise, and nonsense, and drunken freaks, and drunken quarrels,
and smut, and blasphemy, and so forth, when a man loses money
instead of gaining by it. And yet many a fair estate is lost in
upholding such a useless course, and that greatly contributes to
the decay of publicans; for who the devil do you think would pay
for drink at the Black Bear, when he can have it for nothing at
my Lord's or the Squire's?"
Tressilian perceived that the wine had made some impression even
on the seasoned brain of mine host, which was chiefly to be
inferred from his declaiming against drunkenness. As he himself
had carefully avoided the bowl, he would have availed himself of
the frankness of the moment to extract from Gosling some further
information upon the subject of Anthony Foster, and the lady whom
the mercer had seen in his mansion-house; but his inquiries only
set the host upon a new theme of declamation against the wiles of
the fair sex, in which he brought, at full length, the whole
wisdom of Solomon to reinforce his own. Finally, he turned his
admonitions, mixed with much objurgation, upon his tapsters and
drawers, who were employed in removing the relics of the
entertainment, and restoring order to the apartment; and at
length, joining example to precept, though with no good success,
he demolished a salver with half a score of glasses, in
attempting to show how such service was done at the Three Cranes
in the Vintry, then the most topping tavern in London. This last
accident so far recalled him to his better self, that he retired
to his bed, slept sound, and awoke a new man in the morning.
Nay, I'll hold touch--the game shall be play'd out;
It ne'er shall stop for me, this merry wager:
That which I say when gamesome, I'll avouch
In my most sober mood, ne'er trust me else. THE HAZARD TABLE.
"And how doth your kinsman, good mine host?" said Tressilian,
when Giles Gosling first appeared in the public room, on the
morning following the revel which we described in the last
chapter. "Is he well, and will he abide by his wager?"
"For well, sir, he started two hours since, and has visited I
know not what purlieus of his old companions; hath but now
returned, and is at this instant breakfasting on new-laid eggs
and muscadine. And for his wager, I caution you as a friend to
have little to do with that, or indeed with aught that Mike
proposes. Wherefore, I counsel you to a warm breakfast upon a
culiss, which shall restore the tone of the stomach; and let my
nephew and Master Goldthred swagger about their wager as they
"It seems to me, mine host," said Tressilian, "that you know not
well what to say about this kinsman of yours, and that you can
neither blame nor commend him without some twinge of conscience."
"You have spoken truly, Master Tressilian," replied Giles
Gosling. "There is Natural Affection whimpering into one ear,
'Giles, Giles, why wilt thou take away the good name of thy own
nephew? Wilt thou defame thy sister's son, Giles Gosling? wilt
thou defoul thine own nest, dishonour thine own blood?' And then,
again, comes Justice, and says, 'Here is a worthy guest as ever
came to the bonny Black Bear; one who never challenged a
reckoning' (as I say to your face you never did, Master
Tressilian--not that you have had cause), 'one who knows not why
he came, so far as I can see, or when he is going away; and wilt
thou, being a publican, having paid scot and lot these thirty
years in the town of Cumnor, and being at this instant head-
borough, wilt thou suffer this guest of guests, this man of men,
this six-hooped pot (as I may say) of a traveller, to fall into
the meshes of thy nephew, who is known for a swasher and a
desperate Dick, a carder and a dicer, a professor of the seven
damnable sciences, if ever man took degrees in them?' No, by
Heaven! I might wink, and let him catch such a small butterfly
as Goldthred; but thou, my guest, shall be forewarned, forearmed,
so thou wilt but listen to thy trusty host."
"Why, mine host, thy counsel shall not be cast away," replied
Tressilian; "however, I must uphold my share in this wager,
having once passed my word to that effect. But lend me, I pray,
some of thy counsel. This Foster, who or what is he, and why
makes he such mystery of his female inmate?"
"Troth," replied Gosling, "I can add but little to what you heard
last night. He was one of Queen Mary's Papists, and now he is
one of Queen Elizabeth's Protestants; he was an onhanger of the
Abbot of Abingdon; and now he lives as master of the Manor-house.
Above all, he was poor, and is rich. Folk talk of private
apartments in his old waste mansion-house, bedizened fine enough
to serve the Queen, God bless her! Some men think he found a
treasure in the orchard, some that he sold himself to the devil
for treasure, and some say that he cheated the abbot out of the
church plate, which was hidden in the old Manor-house at the
Reformation. Rich, however, he is, and God and his conscience,
with the devil perhaps besides, only know how he came by it. He
has sulky ways too--breaking off intercourse with all that are of
the place, as if he had either some strange secret to keep, or
held himself to be made of another clay than we are. I think it
likely my kinsman and he will quarrel, if Mike thrust his
acquaintance on him; and I am sorry that you, my worthy Master
Tressilian, will still think of going in my nephew's company."
Tressilian again answered him, that he would proceed with great
caution, and that he should have no fears on his account; in
short, he bestowed on him all the customary assurances with which
those who are determined on a rash action are wont to parry the
advice of their friends.
Meantime, the traveller accepted the landlord's invitation, and
had just finished the excellent breakfast, which was served to
him and Gosling by pretty Cicely, the beauty of the bar, when the
hero of the preceding night, Michael Lambourne, entered the
apartment. His toilet had apparently cost him some labour, for
his clothes, which differed from those he wore on his journey,
were of the newest fashion, and put on with great attention to
the display of his person.
"By my faith, uncle," said the gallant, "you made a wet night of
it, and I feel it followed by a dry morning. I will pledge you
willingly in a cup of bastard.--How, my pretty coz Cicely! why,
I left you but a child in the cradle, and there thou stand'st in
thy velvet waistcoat, as tight a girl as England's sun shines on.
Know thy friends and kindred, Cicely, and come hither, child,
that I may kiss thee, and give thee my blessing."
"Concern not yourself about Cicely, kinsman," said Giles Gosling,
"but e'en let her go her way, a' God's name; for although your
mother were her father's sister, yet that shall not make you and
"Why, uncle," replied Lambourne, "think'st thou I am an infidel,
and would harm those of mine own house?"
"It is for no harm that I speak, Mike," answered his uncle, "but
a simple humour of precaution which I have. True, thou art as
well gilded as a snake when he casts his old slough in the spring
time; but for all that, thou creepest not into my Eden. I will
look after mine Eve, Mike, and so content thee.--But how brave
thou be'st, lad! To look on thee now, and compare thee with
Master Tressilian here, in his sad-coloured riding-suit, who
would not say that thou wert the real gentleman and he the
"Troth, uncle," replied Lambourne, "no one would say so but one
of your country-breeding, that knows no better. I will say, and
I care not who hears me, there is something about the real gentry
that few men come up to that are not born and bred to the
mystery. I wot not where the trick lies; but although I can
enter an ordinary with as much audacity, rebuke the waiters and
drawers as loudly, drink as deep a health, swear as round an
oath, and fling my gold as freely about as any of the jingling
spurs and white feathers that are around me, yet, hang me if I
can ever catch the true grace of it, though I have practised an
hundred times. The man of the house sets me lowest at the board,
and carves to me the last; and the drawer says, 'Coming, friend,'
without any more reverence or regardful addition. But, hang it,
let it pass; care killed a cat. I have gentry enough to pass the
trick on Tony Fire-the-Faggot, and that will do for the matter in
"You hold your purpose, then, of visiting your old acquaintance?"
said Tressilian to the adventurer.
"Ay, sir," replied Lambourne; "when stakes are made, the game
must be played; that is gamester's law, all over the world. You,
sir, unless my memory fails me (for I did steep it somewhat too
deeply in the sack-butt), took some share in my hazard?"
"I propose to accompany you in your adventure," said Tressilian,
"if you will do me so much grace as to permit me; and I have
staked my share of the forfeit in the hands of our worthy host."
"That he hath," answered Giles Gosling, "in as fair Harry-nobles
as ever were melted into sack by a good fellow. So, luck to your
enterprise, since you will needs venture on Tony Foster; but, by
my credit, you had better take another draught before you depart,
for your welcome at the Hall yonder will be somewhat of the
driest. And if you do get into peril, beware of taking to cold
steel; but send for me, Giles Gosling, the head-borough, and I
may be able to make something out of Tony yet, for as proud as he
The nephew dutifully obeyed his uncle's hint, by taking a second
powerful pull at the tankard, observing that his wit never served
him so well as when he had washed his temples with a deep
morning's draught; and they set forth together for the habitation
of Anthony Foster.
The village of Cumnor is pleasantly built on a hill, and in a
wooded park closely adjacent was situated the ancient mansion
occupied at this time by Anthony Foster, of which the ruins may
be still extant. The park was then full of large trees, and in
particular of ancient and mighty oaks, which stretched their
giant arms over the high wall surrounding the demesne, thus
giving it a melancholy, secluded, and monastic appearance. The
entrance to the park lay through an old-fashioned gateway in the
outer wall, the door of which was formed of two huge oaken leaves
thickly studded with nails, like the gate of an old town.
"We shall be finely helped up here," said Michael Lambourne,
looking at the gateway and gate, "if this fellow's suspicious
humour should refuse us admission altogether, as it is like he
may, in case this linsey-wolsey fellow of a mercer's visit to his
premises has disquieted him. But, no," he added, pushing the
huge gate, which gave way, "the door stands invitingly open; and
here we are within the forbidden ground, without other impediment
than the passive resistance of a heavy oak door moving on rusty
They stood now in an avenue overshadowed by such old trees as we
have described, and which had been bordered at one time by high
hedges of yew and holly. But these, having been untrimmed for
many years, had run up into great bushes, or rather dwarf-trees,
and now encroached, with their dark and melancholy boughs, upon
the road which they once had screened. The avenue itself was
grown up with grass, and, in one or two places, interrupted by
piles of withered brushwood, which had been lopped from the trees
cut down in the neighbouring park, and was here stacked for
drying. Formal walks and avenues, which, at different points,
crossed this principal approach, were, in like manner, choked up
and interrupted by piles of brushwood and billets, and in other
places by underwood and brambles. Besides the general effect of
desolation which is so strongly impressed whenever we behold the
contrivances of man wasted and obliterated by neglect, and
witness the marks of social life effaced gradually by the
influence of vegetation, the size of the trees and the
outspreading extent of their boughs diffused a gloom over the
scene, even when the sun was at the highest, and made a
proportional impression on the mind of those who visited it.
This was felt even by Michael Lambourne, however alien his habits
were to receiving any impressions, excepting from things which
addressed themselves immediately to his passions.
"This wood is as dark as a wolf's mouth," said he to Tressilian,
as they walked together slowly along the solitary and broken
approach, and had just come in sight of the monastic front of the
old mansion, with its shafted windows, brick walls overgrown with
ivy and creeping shrubs, and twisted stalks of chimneys of heavy
stone-work. "And yet," continued Lambourne, "it is fairly done
on the part of Foster too for since he chooses not visitors, it
is right to keep his place in a fashion that will invite few to
trespass upon his privacy. But had he been the Anthony I once
knew him, these sturdy oaks had long since become the property of
some honest woodmonger, and the manor-close here had looked
lighter at midnight than it now does at noon, while Foster played
fast and loose with the price, in some cunning corner in the
purlieus of Whitefriars."
"Was he then such an unthrift?" asked Tressilian.
"He was," answered Lambourne, "like the rest of us, no saint, and
no saver. But what I liked worst of Tony was, that he loved to
take his pleasure by himself, and grudged, as men say, every drop
of water that went past his own mill. I have known him deal with
such measures of wine when he was alone, as I would not have
ventured on with aid of the best toper in Berkshire;--that, and
some sway towards superstition, which he had by temperament,
rendered him unworthy the company of a good fellow. And now he
has earthed himself here, in a den just befitting such a sly fox
"May I ask you, Master Lambourne," said Tressilian, "since your
old companion's humour jumps so little with your own, wherefore
you are so desirous to renew acquaintance with him?"
"And may I ask you, in return, Master Tressilian," answered
Lambourne, "wherefore you have shown yourself so desirous to
accompany me on this party?"
"I told you my motive," said Tressilian, "when I took share in
your wager--it was simple curiosity."
"La you there now!" answered Lambourne. "See how you civil and
discreet gentlemen think to use us who live by the free exercise
of our wits! Had I answered your question by saying that it was
simple curiosity which led me to visit my old comrade Anthony
Foster, I warrant you had set it down for an evasion, and a turn
of my trade. But any answer, I suppose, must serve my turn."
"And wherefore should not bare curiosity," said Tressilian, "be a
sufficient reason for my taking this walk with you?"
"Oh, content yourself, sir," replied Lambourne; "you cannot put
the change on me so easy as you think, for I have lived among the
quick-stirring spirits of the age too long to swallow chaff for
grain. You are a gentleman of birth and breeding--your bearing
makes it good; of civil habits and fair reputation--your manners
declare it, and my uncle avouches it; and yet you associate
yourself with a sort of scant-of-grace, as men call me, and,
knowing me to be such, you make yourself my companion in a visit
to a man whom you are a stranger to--and all out of mere
curiosity, forsooth! The excuse, if curiously balanced, would be
found to want some scruples of just weight, or so."
"If your suspicions were just," said Tressilian, "you have shown
no confidence in me to invite or deserve mine."
"Oh, if that be all," said Lambourne, "my motives lie above
water. While this gold of mine lasts"--taking out his purse,
chucking it into the air, and catching it as it fell--"I will
make it buy pleasure; and when it is out I must have more. Now,
if this mysterious Lady of the Manor--this fair Lindabrides of
Tony Fire-the-Fagot--be so admirable a piece as men say, why,
there is a chance that she may aid me to melt my nobles into
greats; and, again, if Anthony be so wealthy a chuff as report
speaks him, he may prove the philosopher's stone to me, and
convert my greats into fair rose-nobles again."
"A comfortable proposal truly," said Tressilian; "but I see not
what chance there is of accomplishing it."
"Not to-day, or perchance to-morrow," answered Lambourne; "I
expect not to catch the old jack till. I have disposed my
ground-baits handsomely. But I know something more of his
affairs this morning than I did last night, and I will so use my
knowledge that he shall think it more perfect than it is. Nay,
without expecting either pleasure or profit, or both, I had not
stepped a stride within this manor, I can tell you; for I promise
you I hold our visit not altogether without risk.--But here we
are, and we must make the best on't."
While he thus spoke, they had entered a large orchard which
surrounded the house on two sides, though the trees, abandoned by
the care of man, were overgrown and messy, and seemed to bear
little fruit. Those which had been formerly trained as espaliers
had now resumed their natural mode of growing, and exhibited
grotesque forms, partaking of the original training which they
had received. The greater part of the ground, which had once
been parterres and flower-gardens, was suffered in like manner to
run to waste, excepting a few patches which had been dug up and
planted with ordinary pot herbs. Some statues, which had
ornamented the garden in its days of splendour, were now thrown
down from their pedestals and broken in pieces; and a large
summer-house, having a heavy stone front, decorated with carving
representing the life and actions of Samson, was in the same
They had just traversed this garden of the sluggard, and were
within a few steps of the door of the mansion, when Lambourne had
ceased speaking; a circumstance very agreeable to Tressilian, as
it saved him the embarrassment of either commenting upon or
replying to the frank avowal which his companion had just made of
the sentiments and views which induced him to come hither.
Lambourne knocked roundly and boldly at the huge door of the
mansion, observing, at the same time, he had seen a less strong
one upon a county jail. It was not until they had knocked more
than once that an aged, sour-visaged domestic reconnoitred them
through a small square hole in the door, well secured with bars
of iron, and demanded what they wanted.
"To speak with Master Foster instantly, on pressing business of
the state," was the ready reply of Michael Lambourne.
"Methinks you will find difficulty to make that good," said
Tressilian in a whisper to his companion, while the servant went
to carry the message to his master.
"Tush," replied the adventurer; "no soldier would go on were he
always to consider when and how he should come off. Let us once
obtain entrance, and all will go well enough."
In a short time the servant returned, and drawing with a careful
hand both bolt and bar, opened the gate, which admitted them
through an archway into a square court, surrounded by buildings.
Opposite to the arch was another door, which the serving-man in
like manner unlocked, and thus introduced them into a stone-paved
parlour, where there was but little furniture, and that of the
rudest and most ancient fashion. The windows were tall and
ample, reaching almost to the roof of the room, which was
composed of black oak; those opening to the quadrangle were
obscured by the height of the surrounding buildings, and, as they
were traversed with massive shafts of solid stone-work, and
thickly painted with religious devices, and scenes taken from
Scripture history, by no means admitted light in proportion to
their size, and what did penetrate through them partook of the
dark and gloomy tinge of the stained glass.
Tressilian and his guide had time enough to observe all these
particulars, for they waited some space in the apartment ere the
present master of the mansion at length made his appearance.
Prepared as he was to see an inauspicious and ill-looking person,
the ugliness of Anthony Foster considerably exceeded what
Tressilian had anticipated. He was of middle stature, built
strongly, but so clumsily as to border on deformity, and to give
all his motions the ungainly awkwardness of a left-legged and
left-handed man. His hair, in arranging which men at that time,
as at present, were very nice and curious, instead of being
carefully cleaned and disposed into short curls, or else set up
on end, as is represented in old paintings, in a manner
resembling that used by fine gentlemen of our own day, escaped in
sable negligence from under a furred bonnet, and hung in elf-
locks, which seemed strangers to the comb, over his rugged brows,
and around his very singular and unprepossessing countenance.
His keen, dark eyes were deep set beneath broad and shaggy
eyebrows, and as they were usually bent on the ground, seemed as
if they were themselves ashamed of the expression natural to
them, and were desirous to conceal it from the observation of
men. At times, however, when, more intent on observing others,
he suddenly raised them, and fixed them keenly on those with whom
he conversed, they seemed to express both the fiercer passions,
and the power of mind which could at will suppress or disguise
the intensity of inward feeling. The features which corresponded
with these eyes and this form were irregular, and marked so as to
be indelibly fixed on the mind of him who had once seen them.
Upon the whole, as Tressilian could not help acknowledging to
himself, the Anthony Foster who now stood before them was the
last person, judging from personal appearance, upon whom one
would have chosen to intrude an unexpected and undesired visit.
His attire was a doublet of russet leather, like those worn by
the better sort of country folk, girt with a buff belt, in which
was stuck on the right side a long knife, or dudgeon dagger, and
on the other a cutlass. He raised his eyes as he entered the
room, and fixed a keenly penetrating glance upon his two
visitors; then cast them down as if counting his steps, while he
advanced slowly into the middle of the room, and said, in a low
and smothered tone of voice, "Let me pray you, gentlemen, to tell
me the cause of this visit."
He looked as if he expected the answer from Tressilian, so true
was Lambourne's observation that the superior air of breeding and
dignity shone through the disguise of an inferior dress. But it
was Michael who replied to him, with the easy familiarity of an
old friend, and a tone which seemed unembarrassed by any doubt of
the most cordial reception.
"Ha! my dear friend and ingle, Tony Foster!" he exclaimed,
seizing upon the unwilling hand, and shaking it with such
emphasis as almost to stagger the sturdy frame of the person whom
he addressed, "how fares it with you for many a long year? What!
have you altogether forgotten your friend, gossip, and
playfellow, Michael Lambourne?"
"Michael Lambourne!" said Foster, looking at him a moment; then
dropping his eyes, and with little ceremony extricating his hand
from the friendly grasp of the person by whom he was addressed,
"are you Michael Lambourne?"
"Ay; sure as you are Anthony Foster," replied Lambourne.
"'Tis well," answered his sullen host. "And what may Michael
Lambourne expect from his visit hither?"
"VOTO A DIOS," answered Lambourne, "I expected a better welcome
than I am like to meet, I think."
"Why, thou gallows-bird--thou jail-rat--thou friend of the
hangman and his customers!" replied Foster, "hast thou the
assurance to expect countenance from any one whose neck is beyond
the compass of a Tyburn tippet?"
"It may be with me as you say," replied Lambourne; "and suppose I
grant it to be so for argument's sake, I were still good enough
society for mine ancient friend Anthony Fire-the-Fagot, though he
be, for the present, by some indescribable title, the master of
"Hark you, Michael Lambourne," said Foster; "you are a gambler
now, and live by the counting of chances--compute me the odds
that I do not, on this instant, throw you out of that window into
the ditch there."
"Twenty to one that you do not," answered the sturdy visitor.
"And wherefore, I pray you?" demanded Anthony Foster, setting
his teeth and compressing his lips, like one who endeavours to
suppress some violent internal emotion.
"Because," said Lambourne coolly, "you dare not for your life lay
a finger on me. I am younger and stronger than you, and have in
me a double portion of the fighting devil, though not, it may be,
quite so much of the undermining fiend, that finds an underground
way to his purpose--who hides halters under folk's pillows, and
who puts rats-bane into their porridge, as the stage-play says."
Foster looked at him earnestly, then turned away, and paced the
room twice with the same steady and considerate pace with which
he had entered it; then suddenly came back, and extended his hand
to Michael Lambourne, saying, "Be not wroth with me, good Mike; I
did but try whether thou hadst parted with aught of thine old and
honourable frankness, which your enviers and backbiters called
"Let them call it what they will," said Michael Lambourne, "it is
the commodity we must carry through the world with us.--Uds
daggers! I tell thee, man, mine own stock of assurance was too
small to trade upon. I was fain to take in a ton or two more of
brass at every port where I touched in the voyage of life; and I
started overboard what modesty and scruples I had remaining, in
order to make room for the stowage."
"Nay, nay," replied Foster, "touching scruples and modesty, you
sailed hence in ballast. But who is this gallant, honest Mike?
--is he a Corinthian--a cutter like thyself?"
"I prithee, know Master Tressilian, bully Foster," replied
Lambourne, presenting his friend in answer to his friend's
question, "know him and honour him, for he is a gentleman of many
admirable qualities; and though he traffics not in my line of
business, at least so far as I know, he has, nevertheless, a just
respect and admiration for artists of our class. He will come to
in time, as seldom fails; but as yet he is only a neophyte, only
a proselyte, and frequents the company of cocks of the game, as a
puny fencer does the schools of the masters, to see how a foil is
handled by the teachers of defence."
"If such be his quality, I will pray your company in another
chamber, honest Mike, for what I have to say to thee is for thy
private ear.--Meanwhile, I pray you, sir, to abide us in this
apartment, and without leaving it; there be those in this house
who would be alarmed by the sight of a stranger."
Tressilian acquiesced, and the two worthies left the apartment
together, in which he remained alone to await their return."
[See Note 1. Foster, Lambourne, and the Black Bear.]
Not serve two masters?--Here's a youth will try it--
Would fain serve God, yet give the devil his due;
Says grace before he doth a deed of villainy,
And returns his thanks devoutly when 'tis acted, OLD PLAY.
The room into which the Master of Cumnor Place conducted his
worthy visitant was of greater extent than that in which they had
at first conversed, and had yet more the appearance of
dilapidation. Large oaken presses, filled with shelves of the
same wood, surrounded the room, and had, at one time, served for
the arrangement of a numerous collection of books, many of which
yet remained, but torn and defaced, covered with dust, deprived
of their costly clasps and bindings, and tossed together in heaps
upon the shelves, as things altogether disregarded, and abandoned
to the pleasure of every spoiler. The very presses themselves
seemed to have incurred the hostility of those enemies of
learning who had destroyed the volumes with which they had been
heretofore filled. They were, in several places, dismantled of
their shelves, and otherwise broken and damaged, and were,
moreover, mantled with cobwebs and covered with dust.
"The men who wrote these books," said Lambourne, looking round
him, "little thought whose keeping they were to fall into."
"Nor what yeoman's service they were to do me," quoth Anthony
Foster; "the cook hath used them for scouring his pewter, and the
groom hath had nought else to clean my boots with, this many a
"And yet," said Lambourne, "I have been in cities where such
learned commodities would have been deemed too good for such
"Pshaw, pshaw," answered Foster, "'they are Popish trash, every
one of them--private studies of the mumping old Abbot of
Abingdon. The nineteenthly of a pure gospel sermon were worth a
cartload of such rakings of the kennel of Rome."
"Gad-a-mercy, Master Tony Fire-the-Fagot!" said Lambourne, by
way of reply.
Foster scowled darkly at him, as he replied, "Hark ye, friend
Mike; forget that name, and the passage which it relates to, if
you would not have our newly-revived comradeship die a sudden and
a violent death."
"Why," said Michael Lambourne, "you were wont to glory in the
share you had in the death of the two old heretical bishops."
"That," said his comrade, "was while I was in the gall of
bitterness and bond of iniquity, and applies not to my walk or my
ways now that I am called forth into the lists. Mr. Melchisedek
Maultext compared my misfortune in that matter to that of the
Apostle Paul, who kept the clothes of the witnesses who stoned
Saint Stephen. He held forth on the matter three Sabbaths past,
and illustrated the same by the conduct of an honourable person
present, meaning me."
"I prithee peace, Foster," said Lambourne, "for I know not how it
is, I have a sort of creeping comes over my skin when I hear the
devil quote Scripture; and besides, man, how couldst thou have
the heart to quit that convenient old religion, which you could
slip off or on as easily as your glove? Do I not remember how
you were wont to carry your conscience to confession, as duly as
the month came round? and when thou hadst it scoured, and
burnished, and whitewashed by the priest, thou wert ever ready
for the worst villainy which could be devised, like a child who
is always readiest to rush into the mire when he has got his
Sunday's clean jerkin on."
"Trouble not thyself about my conscience," said Foster; "it is a
thing thou canst not understand, having never had one of thine
own. But let us rather to the point, and say to me, in one word,
what is thy business with me, and what hopes have drawn thee
"The hope of bettering myself, to be sure," answered Lambourne,
"as the old woman said when she leapt over the bridge at
Kingston. Look you, this purse has all that is left of as round
a sum as a man would wish to carry in his slop-pouch. You are
here well established, it would seem, and, as I think, well
befriended, for men talk of thy being under some special
protection--nay, stare not like a pig that is stuck, mon; thou
canst not dance in a net and they not see thee. Now I know such
protection is not purchased for nought; you must have services to
render for it, and in these I propose to help thee."
"But how if I lack no assistance from thee, Mike? I think thy
modesty might suppose that were a case possible."
"That is to say," retorted Lambourne, "that you would engross the
whole work, rather than divide the reward. But be not over-
greedy, Anthony--covetousness bursts the sack and spills the
grain. Look you, when the huntsman goes to kill a stag, he takes
with him more dogs than one. He has the stanch lyme-hound to
track the wounded buck over hill and dale, but he hath also the
fleet gaze-hound to kill him at view. Thou art the lyme-hound, I
am the gaze-hound; and thy patron will need the aid of both, and
can well afford to requite it. Thou hast deep sagacity--an
unrelenting purpose--a steady, long-breathed malignity of nature,
that surpasses mine. But then, I am the bolder, the quicker, the
more ready, both at action and expedient. Separate, our
properties are not so perfect; but unite them, and we drive the
world before us. How sayest thou--shall we hunt in couples?"
"It is a currish proposal--thus to thrust thyself upon my private
matters," replied Foster; "but thou wert ever an ill-nurtured
"You shall have no cause to say so, unless you spurn my
courtesy," said Michael Lambourne; "but if so, keep thee well
from me, Sir Knight, as the romance has it. I will either share
your counsels or traverse them; for I have come here to be busy,
either with thee or against thee."
"Well," said Anthony Foster, "since thou dost leave me so fair a
choice, I will rather be thy friend than thine enemy. Thou art
right; I CAN prefer thee to the service of a patron who has
enough of means to make us both, and an hundred more. And, to
say truth, thou art well qualified for his service. Boldness and
dexterity he demands--the justice-books bear witness in thy
favour; no starting at scruples in his service why, who ever
suspected thee of a conscience? an assurance he must have who
would follow a courtier--and thy brow is as impenetrable as a
Milan visor. There is but one thing I would fain see amended in
"And what is that, my most precious friend Anthony?" replied
Lambourne; "for I swear by the pillow of the Seven Sleepers I
will not be slothful in amending it."
"Why, you gave a sample of it even now," said Foster. "Your
speech twangs too much of the old stamp, and you garnish it ever
and anon with singular oaths, that savour of Papistrie. Besides,
your exterior man is altogether too deboshed and irregular to
become one of his lordship's followers, since he has a reputation
to keep up in the eye of the world. You must somewhat reform
your dress, upon a more grave and composed fashion; wear your
cloak on both shoulders, and your falling band unrumpled and well
starched. You must enlarge the brim of your beaver, and diminish
the superfluity of your trunk-hose; go to church, or, which will
be better, to meeting, at least once a month; protest only upon
your faith and conscience; lay aside your swashing look, and
never touch the hilt of your sword but when you would draw the
carnal weapon in good earnest."
"By this light, Anthony, thou art mad," answered Lambourne, "and
hast described rather the gentleman-usher to a puritan's wife,
than the follower of an ambitious courtier! Yes, such a thing as
thou wouldst make of me should wear a book at his girdle instead
of a poniard, and might just be suspected of manhood enough to
squire a proud dame-citizen to the lecture at Saint Antonlin's,
and quarrel in her cause with any flat-capped threadmaker that
would take the wall of her. He must ruffle it in another sort
that would walk to court in a nobleman's train."
"Oh, content you, sir," replied Foster, "there is a change since
you knew the English world; and there are those who can hold
their way through the boldest courses, and the most secret, and
yet never a swaggering word, or an oath, or a profane word in
"That is to say," replied Lambourne, "they are in a trading
copartnery, to do the devil's business without mentioning his
name in the firm? Well, I will do my best to counterfeit, rather
than lose ground in this new world, since thou sayest it is grown
so precise. But, Anthony, what is the name of this nobleman, in
whose service I am to turn hypocrite?"
"Aha! Master Michael, are you there with your bears?" said
Foster, with a grim smile; "and is this the knowledge you pretend
of my concernments? How know you now there is such a person IN
RERUM NATURA, and that I have not been putting a jape upon you
all this time?"
"Thou put a jape on me, thou sodden-brained gull?" answered
Lambourne, nothing daunted. "Why, dark and muddy as thou
think'st thyself, I would engage in a day's space to sec as clear
through thee and thy concernments, as thou callest them, as
through the filthy horn of an old stable lantern."
At this moment their conversation was interrupted by a scream
from the next apartment.
"By the holy Cross of Abingdon," exclaimed Anthony Foster,
forgetting his Protestantism in his alarm, "I am a ruined man!"
So saying, he rushed into the apartment whence the scream issued,
followed by Michael Lambourne. But to account for the sounds
which interrupted their conversation, it is necessary to recede a
little way in our narrative.
It has been already observed, that when Lambourne accompanied
Foster into the library, they left Tressilian alone in the
ancient parlour. His dark eye followed them forth of the
apartment with a glance of contempt, a part of which his mind
instantly transferred to himself, for having stooped to be even
for a moment their familiar companion. "These are the
associates, Amy"--it was thus he communed with himself--"to which
thy cruel levity--thine unthinking and most unmerited falsehood,
has condemned him of whom his friends once hoped far other
things, and who now scorns himself, as he will be scorned by
others, for the baseness he stoops to for the love of thee! But
I will not leave the pursuit of thee, once the object of my
purest and most devoted affection, though to me thou canst
henceforth be nothing but a thing to weep over. I will save thee
from thy betrayer, and from thyself; I will restore thee to thy
parent--to thy God. I cannot bid the bright star again sparkle
in the sphere it has shot from, but--"
A slight noise in the apartment interrupted his reverie. He
looked round, and in the beautiful and richly-attired female who
entered at that instant by a side-door he recognized the object
of his search. The first impulse arising from this discovery
urged him to conceal his face with the collar of his cloak, until
he should find a favourable moment of making himself known. But
his purpose was disconcerted by the young lady (she was not above
eighteen years old), who ran joyfully towards him, and, pulling
him by the cloak, said playfully, "Nay, my sweet friend, after I
have waited for you so long, you come not to my bower to play the
masquer. You are arraigned of treason to true love and fond
affection, and you must stand up at the bar and answer it with
face uncovered--how say you, guilty or not?"
"Alas, Amy!" said Tressilian, in a low and melancholy tone, as
he suffered her to draw the mantle from his face. The sound of
his voice, and still more the unexpected sight of his face,
changed in an instant the lady's playful mood. She staggered