Part 11 out of 11
himself, but unfortunately he did not recognize him in his
At length the boy thought he was on the point of succeeding when
the Earl came down to the lower part of the hall; but just as he
was about to accost him, he was prevented by Tressilian. As
sharp in ear as in wit, the boy heard the appointment settled
betwixt them, to take place in the Pleasance, and resolved to add
a third to the party, in hope that, either in coming or
returning, he might find an opportunity of delivering the letter
to Leicester; for strange stories began to flit among the
domestics, which alarmed him for the lady's safety. Accident,
however, detained Dickon a little behind the Earl, and as he
reached the arcade he saw them engaged in combat; in consequence
of which he hastened to alarm the guard, having little doubt that
what bloodshed took place betwixt them might arise out of his own
frolic. Continuing to lurk in the portico, he heard the second
appointment which Leicester at parting assigned to Tressilian;
and was keeping them in view during the encounter of the Coventry
men, when, to his surprise, he recognized Wayland in the crowd,
much disguised, indeed, but not sufficiently so to escape the
prying glance of his old comrade. They drew aside out of the
crowd to explain their situation to each other. The boy
confessed to Wayland what we have above told; and the artist, in
return, informed him that his deep anxiety for the fate of the
unfortunate lady had brought him back to the neighbourhood of the
Castle, upon his learning that morning, at a village about ten
miles distant, that Varney and Lambourne, whose violence he
dreaded, had both left Kenilworth over-night.
While they spoke, they saw Leicester and Tressilian separate
themselves from the crowd, dogged them until they mounted their
horses, when the boy, whose speed of foot has been before
mentioned, though he could not possibly keep up with them, yet
arrived, as we have seen, soon enough to save Tressilian's life.
The boy had just finished his tale when they arrived at the
High o'er the eastern steep the sun is beaming,
And darkness flies with her deceitful shadows;--
So truth prevails o'er falsehood. OLD PLAY.
As Tressilian rode along the bridge, lately the scene of so much
riotous sport, he could not but observe that men's countenances
had singularly changed during the space of his brief absence.
The mock fight was over, but the men, still habited in their
masking suits, stood together in groups, like the inhabitants of
a city who have been just startled by some strange and alarming
When he reached the base-court, appearances were the same--
domestics, retainers, and under-officers stood together and
whispered, bending their eyes towards the windows of the Great
Hall, with looks which seemed at once alarmed and mysterious.
Sir Nicholas Blount was the first person of his own particular
acquaintance Tressilian saw, who left him no time to make
inquiries, but greeted him with, "God help thy heart, Tressilian!
thou art fitter for a clown than a courtier thou canst not
attend, as becomes one who follows her Majesty. Here you are
called for, wished for, waited for--no man but you will serve the
turn; and hither you come with a misbegotten brat on thy horse's
neck, as if thou wert dry nurse to some sucking devil, and wert
just returned from airing."
"Why, what is the matter?" said Tressilian, letting go the boy,
who sprung to ground like a feather, and himself dismounting at
the same time.
"Why, no one knows the matter," replied Blount; "I cannot smell
it out myself, though I have a nose like other courtiers. Only,
my Lord of Leicester has galloped along the bridge as if he would
have rode over all in his passage, demanded an audience of the
Queen, and is closeted even now with her, and Burleigh and
Walsingham--and you are called for; but whether the matter be
treason or worse, no one knows."
"He speaks true, by Heaven!" said Raleigh, who that instant
appeared; "you must immediately to the Queen's presence."
"Be not rash, Raleigh," said Blount, "remember his boots.--For
Heaven's sake, go to my chamber, dear Tressilian, and don my new
bloom-coloured silken hose; I have worn them but twice."
"Pshaw!" answered Tressilian; "do thou take care of this boy,
Blount; be kind to him, and look he escapes you not--much depends
So saying, he followed Raleigh hastily, leaving honest Blount
with the bridle of his horse in one hand, and the boy in the
other. Blount gave a long look after him.
"Nobody," he said, "calls me to these mysteries--and he leaves me
here to play horse-keeper and child-keeper at once. I could
excuse the one, for I love a good horse naturally; but to be
plagued with a bratchet whelp.--Whence come ye, my fair-favoured
"From the Fens," answered the boy.
"And what didst thou learn there, forward imp?"
"To catch gulls, with their webbed feet and yellow stockings,"
said the boy.
"Umph!" said Blount, looking down on his own immense roses.
"Nay, then, the devil take him asks thee more questions."
Meantime Tressilian traversed the full length of the Great Hall,
in which the astonished courtiers formed various groups, and were
whispering mysteriously together, while all kept their eyes fixed
on the door which led from the upper end of the hall into the
Queen's withdrawing apartment. Raleigh pointed to the door.
Tressilian knocked, and was instantly admitted. Many a neck was
stretched to gain a view into the interior of the apartment; but
the tapestry which covered the door on the inside was dropped too
suddenly to admit the slightest gratification of curiosity.
Upon entrance, Tressilian found himself, not without a strong
palpitation of heart, in the presence of Elizabeth, who was
walking to and fro in a violent agitation, which she seemed to
scorn to conceal, while two or three of her most sage and
confidential counsellors exchanged anxious looks with each other,
but delayed speaking till her wrath abated. Before the empty
chair of state in which she had been seated, and which was half
pushed aside by the violence with which she had started from it,
knelt Leicester, his arms crossed, and his brows bent on the
ground, still and motionless as the effigies upon a sepulchre.
Beside him stood the Lord Shrewsbury, then Earl Marshal of
England, holding his baton of office. The Earl's sword was
unbuckled, and lay before him on the floor.
"Ho, sir!" said the Queen, coming close up to Tressilian, and
stamping on the floor with the action and manner of Henry
himself; "you knew of this fair work--you are an accomplice in
this deception which has been practised on us--you have been a
main cause of our doing injustice?" Tressilian dropped on his
knee before the Queen, his good sense showing him the risk of
attempting any defence at that moment of irritation. "Art dumb,
sirrah?" she continued; "thou knowest of this affair dost thou
"Not, gracious madam, that this poor lady was Countess of
"Nor shall any one know her for such," said Elizabeth. "Death of
my life! Countess of Leicester!--I say Dame Amy Dudley; and well
if she have not cause to write herself widow of the traitor
"Madam," said Leicester, "do with me what it may be your will to
do, but work no injury on this gentleman; he hath in no way
"And will he be the better for thy intercession," said the Queen,
leaving Tressilian, who slowly arose, and rushing to Leicester,
who continued kneeling--"the better for thy intercession, thou
doubly false--thou doubly forsworn;--of thy intercession, whose
villainy hath made me ridiculous to my subjects and odious to
myself? I could tear out mine eyes for their blindness!"
Burleigh here ventured to interpose.
"Madam," he said, "remember that you are a Queen--Queen of
England--mother of your people. Give not way to this wild storm
Elizabeth turned round to him, while a tear actually twinkled in
her proud and angry eye. "Burleigh," she said, "thou art a
statesman--thou dost not, thou canst not, comprehend half the
scorn, half the misery, that man has poured on me!"
With the utmost caution--with the deepest reverence--Burleigh
took her hand at the moment he saw her heart was at the fullest,
and led her aside to an oriel window, apart from the others.
"Madam," he said, "I am a statesman, but I am also a man--a man
already grown old in your councils--who have not and cannot have
a wish on earth but your glory and happiness; I pray you to be
"Ah! Burleigh," said Elizabeth, "thou little knowest--" here her
tears fell over her cheeks in despite of her.
"I do--I do know, my honoured sovereign. Oh, beware that you
lead not others to guess that which they know not!"
"Ha!" said Elizabeth, pausing as if a new train of thought had
suddenly shot across her brain. "Burleigh, thou art right--thou
art right--anything but disgrace--anything but a confession of
weakness--anything rather than seem the cheated, slighted--
'sdeath! to think on it is distraction!"
"Be but yourself, my Queen," said Burleigh; "and soar far above a
weakness which no Englishman will ever believe his Elizabeth
could have entertained, unless the violence of her disappointment
carries a sad conviction to his bosom."
"What weakness, my lord?" said Elizabeth haughtily; "would you
too insinuate that the favour in which I held yonder proud
traitor derived its source from aught--" But here she could no
longer sustain the proud tone which she had assumed, and again
softened as she said, "But why should I strive to deceive even
thee, my good and wise servant?"
Burleigh stooped to kiss her hand with affection, and--rare in
the annals of courts--a tear of true sympathy dropped from the
eye of the minister on the hand of his Sovereign.
It is probable that the consciousness of possessing this sympathy
aided Elizabeth in supporting her mortification, and suppressing
her extreme resentment; but she was still more moved by fear that
her passion should betray to the public the affront and the
disappointment, which, alike as a woman and a Queen, she was so
anxious to conceal. She turned from Burleigh, and sternly paced
the hall till her features had recovered their usual dignity, and
her mien its wonted stateliness of regular motion.
"Our Sovereign is her noble self once more," whispered Burleigh
to Walsingham; "mark what she does, and take heed you thwart her
She then approached Leicester, and said with calmness, "My Lord
Shrewsbury, we discharge you of your prisoner.--My Lord of
Leicester, rise and take up your sword; a quarter of an hour's
restraint under the custody of our Marshal, my lord, is, we
think, no high penance for months of falsehood practised upon us.
We will now hear the progress of this affair." She then seated
herself in her chair, and said, "You, Tressilian, step forward,
and say what you know."
Tressilian told his story generously, suppressing as much as he
could what affected Leicester, and saying nothing of their having
twice actually fought together. It is very probable that, in
doing so, he did the Earl good service; for had the Queen at that
instant found anything on account of which she could vent her
wrath upon him, without laying open sentiments of which she was
ashamed, it might have fared hard with him. She paused when
Tressilian had finished his tale.
"We will take that Wayland," she said, "into our own service, and
place the boy in our Secretary office for instruction, that he
may in future use discretion towards letters. For you,
Tressilian, you did wrong in not communicating the whole truth to
us, and your promise not to do so was both imprudent and
undutiful. Yet, having given your word to this unhappy lady, it
was the part of a man and a gentleman to keep it; and on the
whole, we esteem you for the character you have sustained in this
matter.--My Lord of Leicester, it is now your turn to tell us the
truth, an exercise to which you seem of late to have been too
much a stranger."
Accordingly, she extorted, by successive questions, the whole
history of his first acquaintance with Amy Robsart--their
marriage--his jealousy--the causes on which it was founded, and
many particulars besides. Leicester's confession, for such it
might be called, was wrenched from him piecemeal, yet was upon
the whole accurate, excepting that he totally omitted to mention
that he had, by implication or otherwise, assented to Varney's
designs upon the life of his Countess. Yet the consciousness of
this was what at that moment lay nearest to his heart; and
although he trusted in great measure to the very positive
counter-orders which he had sent by Lambourne, it was his purpose
to set out for Cumnor Place in person as soon as he should be
dismissed from the presence of the Queen, who, he concluded,
would presently leave Kenilworth.
But the Earl reckoned without his host. It is true his presence
and his communications were gall and wormwood to his once partial
mistress. But barred from every other and more direct mode of
revenge, the Queen perceived that she gave her false suitor
torture by these inquiries, and dwelt on them for that reason, no
more regarding the pain which she herself experienced, than the
savage cares for the searing of his own hands by grasping the hot
pincers with which he tears the flesh of his captive enemy.
At length, however, the haughty lord, like a deer that turns to
bay, gave intimation that his patience was failing. "Madam," he
said, "I have been much to blame--more than even your just
resentment has expressed. Yet, madam, let me say that my guilt,
if it be unpardonable, was not unprovoked, and that if beauty and
condescending dignity could seduce the frail heart of a human
being, I might plead both as the causes of my concealing this
secret from your Majesty."
The Queen was so much struck with this reply, which Leicester
took care should be heard by no one but herself, that she was for
the moment silenced, and the Earl had the temerity to pursue his
advantage. "Your Grace, who has pardoned so much, will excuse my
throwing myself on your royal mercy for those expressions which
were yester-morning accounted but a light offence."
The Queen fixed her eyes on him while she replied, "Now, by
Heaven, my lord, thy effrontery passes the bounds of belief, as
well as patience! But it shall avail thee nothing.--What ho! my
lords, come all and hear the news-my Lord of Leicester's stolen
marriage has cost me a husband, and England a king. His lordship
is patriarchal in his tastes--one wife at a time was
insufficient, and he designed US the honour of his left hand.
Now, is not this too insolent--that I could not grace him with a
few marks of court-favour, but he must presume to think my hand
and crown at his disposal? You, however, think better of me; and
I can pity this ambitious man, as I could a child, whose bubble
of soap has burst between his hands. We go to the presence-
chamber.--My Lord of Leicester, we command your close attendance
All was eager expectation in the hall, and what was the universal
astonishment when the Queen said to those next her, "The revels
of Kenilworth are not yet exhausted, my lords and ladies--we are
to solemnize the noble owner's marriage."
There was an universal expression of surprise.
"It is true, on our royal word," said the Queen; "he hath kept
this a secret even from us, that he might surprise us with it at
this very place and time. I see you are dying of curiosity to
know the happy bride. It is Amy Robsart, the same who, to make
up the May-game yesterday, figured in the pageant as the wife of
his servant Varney."
"For God's sake, madam," said the Earl, approaching her with a
mixture of humility, vexation, and shame in his countenance, and
speaking so low as to be heard by no one else, "take my head, as
you threatened in your anger, and spare me these taunts! Urge
not a falling man--tread not on a crushed worm."
"A worm, my lord?" said the Queen, in the same tone; "nay, a
snake is the nobler reptile, and the more exact similitude--the
frozen snake you wot of, which was warmed in a certain bosom--"
"For your own sake--for mine, madam," said the Earl--"while there
is yet some reason left in me--"
"Speak aloud, my lord," said Elizabeth, "and at farther distance,
so please you--your breath thaws our ruff. What have you to ask
"Permission," said the unfortunate Earl humbly, "to travel to
"To fetch home your bride belike?--Why, ay--that is but right,
for, as we have heard, she is indifferently cared for there.
But, my lord, you go not in person; we have counted upon passing
certain days in this Castle of Kenilworth, and it were slight
courtesy to leave us without a landlord during our residence
here. Under your favour, we cannot think to incur such disgrace
in the eyes of our subjects. Tressilian shall go to Cumnor Place
instead of you, and with him some gentleman who hath been sworn
of our chamber, lest my Lord of Leicester should be again jealous
of his old rival.--Whom wouldst thou have to be in commission
with thee, Tressilian?"
Tressilian, with humble deference, suggested the name of Raleigh.
"Why, ay," said the Queen; "so God ha' me, thou hast made a good
choice. He is a young knight besides, and to deliver a lady from
prison is an appropriate first adventure.--Cumnor Place is little
better than a prison, you are to know, my lords and ladies.
Besides, there are certain faitours there whom we would willingly
have in safe keeping. You will furnish them, Master Secretary,
with the warrant necessary to secure the bodies of Richard Varney
and the foreign Alasco, dead or alive. Take a sufficient force
with you, gentlemen--bring the lady here in all honour--lose no
time, and God be with you!"
They bowed, and left the presence,
Who shall describe how the rest of that day was spent at
Kenilworth? The Queen, who seemed to have remained there for the
sole purpose of mortifying and taunting the Earl of Leicester,
showed herself as skilful in that female art of vengeance, as she
was in the science of wisely governing her people. The train of
state soon caught the signal, and as he walked among his own
splendid preparations, the Lord of Kenilworth, in his own Castle,
already experienced the lot of a disgraced courtier, in the
slight regard and cold manners of alienated friends, and the ill-
concealed triumph of avowed and open enemies. Sussex, from his
natural military frankness of disposition, Burleigh and
Walsingham, from their penetrating and prospective sagacity, and
some of the ladies, from the compassion of their sex, were the
only persons in the crowded court who retained towards him the
countenance they had borne in the morning.
So much had Leicester been accustomed to consider court favour as
the principal object of his life, that all other sensations were,
for the time, lost in the agony which his haughty spirit felt at
the succession of petty insults and studied neglects to which he
had been subjected; but when he retired to his own chamber for
the night, that long, fair tress of hair which had once secured
Amy's letter fell under his observation, and, with the influence
of a counter-charm, awakened his heart to nobler and more natural
feelings. He kissed it a thousand times; and while he
recollected that he had it always in his power to shun the
mortifications which he had that day undergone, by retiring into
a dignified and even prince-like seclusion with the beautiful and
beloved partner of his future life, he felt that he could rise
above the revenge which Elizabeth had condescended to take.
Accordingly, on the following day the whole conduct of the Earl
displayed so much dignified equanimity--he seemed so solicitous
about the accommodations and amusements of his guests, yet so
indifferent to their personal demeanour towards him--so
respectfully distant to the Queen, yet so patient of her
harassing displeasure--that Elizabeth changed her manner to him,
and, though cold and distant, ceased to offer him any direct
affront. She intimated also with some sharpness to others around
her, who thought they were consulting her pleasure in showing a
neglectful conduct to the Earl, that while they remained at
Kenilworth they ought to show the civility due from guests to the
Lord of the Castle. In short, matters were so far changed in
twenty-four hours that some of the more experienced and sagacious
courtiers foresaw a strong possibility of Leicester's restoration
to favour, and regulated their demeanour towards him, as those
who might one day claim merit for not having deserted him in
adversity. It is time, however, to leave these intrigues, and
follow Tressilian and Raleigh on their journey.
The troop consisted of six persons; for, besides Wayland, they
had in company a royal pursuivant and two stout serving-men. All
were well-armed, and travelled as fast as it was possible with
justice to their horses, which had a long journey before them.
They endeavoured to procure some tidings as they rode along of
Varney and his party, but could hear none, as they had travelled
in the dark. At a small village about twelve miles from
Kenilworth, where they gave some refreshment to their horses, a
poor clergyman, the curate of the place, came out of a small
cottage, and entreated any of the company who might know aught of
surgery to look in for an instant on a dying man.
The empiric Wayland undertook to do his best, and as the curate
conducted him to the spot, he learned that the man had been found
on the highroad, about a mile from the village, by labourers, as
they were going to their work on the preceding morning, and the
curate had given him shelter in his house. He had received a
gun-shot wound, which seemed to be obviously mortal; but whether
in a brawl or from robbers they could not learn, as he was in a
fever, and spoke nothing connectedly. Wayland entered the dark
and lowly apartment, and no sooner had the curate drawn aside the
curtain than he knew, in the distorted features of the patient,
the countenance of Michael Lambourne. Under pretence of seeking
something which he wanted, Wayland hastily apprised his fellow-
travellers of this extraordinary circumstance; and both
Tressilian and Raleigh, full of boding apprehensions, hastened to
the curate's house to see the dying man.
The wretch was by this time in the agonies of death, from which a
much better surgeon than Wayland could not have rescued him, for
the bullet had passed clear through his body. He was sensible,
however, at least in part, for he knew Tressilian, and made signs
that he wished him to stoop over his bed. Tressilian did so, and
after some inarticulate murmurs, in which the names of Varney and
Lady Leicester were alone distinguishable, Lambourne bade him
"make haste, or he would come too late." It was in vain
Tressilian urged the patient for further information; he seemed
to become in some degree delirious, and when he again made a
signal to attract Tressilian's attention, it was only for the
purpose of desiring him to inform his uncle, Giles Gosling of the
Black Bear, that "he had died without his shoes after all." A
convulsion verified his words a few minutes after, and the
travellers derived nothing from having met with him, saving the
obscure fears concerning the fate of the Countess, which his
dying words were calculated to convey, and which induced them to
urge their journey with the utmost speed, pressing horses in the
Queen's name when those which they rode became unfit for service.
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. MICKLE.
We are now to return to that part of our story where we intimated
that Varney, possessed of the authority of the Earl of Leicester,
and of the Queen's permission to the same effect, hastened to
secure himself against discovery of his perfidy by removing the
Countess from Kenilworth Castle. He had proposed to set forth
early in the morning; but reflecting that the Earl might relent
in the interim, and seek another interview with the Countess, he
resolved to prevent, by immediate departure, all chance of what
would probably have ended in his detection and ruin. For this
purpose he called for Lambourne, and was exceedingly incensed to
find that his trusty attendant was abroad on some ramble in the
neighbouring village, or elsewhere. As his return was expected,
Sir Richard commanded that he should prepare himself for
attending him on an immediate journey, and follow him in case he
returned after his departure.
In the meanwhile, Varney used the ministry of a servant called
Robin Tider, one to whom the mysteries of Cumnor Place were
already in some degree known, as he had been there more than once
in attendance on the Earl. To this man, whose character
resembled that of Lambourne, though he was neither quite so
prompt nor altogether so profligate, Varney gave command to have
three horses saddled, and to prepare a horse-litter, and have
them in readiness at the postern gate. The natural enough excuse
of his lady's insanity, which was now universally believed,
accounted for the secrecy with which she was to be removed from
the Castle, and he reckoned on the same apology in case the
unfortunate Amy's resistance or screams should render such
necessary. The agency of Anthony Foster was indispensable, and
that Varney now went to secure.
This person, naturally of a sour, unsocial disposition, and
somewhat tired, besides, with his journey from Cumnor to
Warwickshire, in order to bring the news of the Countess's
escape, had early extricated himself from the crowd of
wassailers, and betaken himself to his chamber, where he lay
asleep, when Varney, completely equipped for travelling, and with
a dark lantern in his hand, entered his apartment. He paused an
instant to listen to what his associate was murmuring in his
sleep, and could plainly distinguish the words, "AVE MARIA--ORA
PRO NOBIS. No, it runs not so--deliver us from evil--ay, so it
"Praying in his sleep," said Varney, "and confounding his old and
new devotions. He must have more need of prayer ere I am done
with him.--What ho! holy man, most blessed penitent!--awake--
awake! The devil has not discharged you from service yet."
As Varney at the same time shook the sleeper by the arm, it
changed the current of his ideas, and he roared out, "Thieves!--
thieves! I will die in defence of my gold--my hard-won gold--
that has cost me so dear. Where is Janet?--Is Janet safe?"
"Safe enough, thou bellowing fool!" said Varney; "art thou not
ashamed of thy clamour?"
Foster by this time was broad awake, and sitting up in his bed,
asked Varney the meaning of so untimely a visit. "It augurs
nothing good," he added.
"A false prophecy, most sainted Anthony," returned Varney; "it
augurs that the hour is come for converting thy leasehold into
copyhold. What sayest thou to that?"
"Hadst thou told me this in broad day," said Foster, "I had
rejoiced; but at this dead hour, and by this dim light, and
looking on thy pale face, which is a ghastly contradiction to thy
light words, I cannot but rather think of the work that is to be
done, than the guerdon to be gained by it."
"Why, thou fool, it is but to escort thy charge back to Cumnor
"Is that indeed all?" said Foster; "thou lookest deadly pale,
and thou art not moved by trifles--is that indeed all?"
"Ay, that--and maybe a trifle more," said Varney.
"Ah, that trifle more!" said Foster; "still thou lookest paler
"Heed not my countenance," said Varney; "you see it by this
wretched light. Up and be doing, man. Think of Cumnor Place--
thine own proper copyhold. Why, thou mayest found a weekly
lectureship, besides endowing Janet like a baron's daughter.
Seventy pounds and odd."
"Seventy-nine pounds, five shillings and fivepence half-penny,
besides the value of the wood," said Foster; "and I am to have it
all as copyhold?"
"All, man--squirrels and all. No gipsy shall cut the value of a
broom--no boy so much as take a bird's nest--without paying thee
a quittance.--Ay, that is right--don thy matters as fast as
possible; horses and everything are ready, all save that accursed
villain Lambourne, who is out on some infernal gambol."
"Ay, Sir Richard," said Foster, "you would take no advice. I
ever told you that drunken profligate would fail you at need.
Now I could have helped you to a sober young man."
"What, some slow-spoken, long-breathed brother of the
congregation? Why, we shall have use for such also, man. Heaven
be praised, we shall lack labourers of every kind.--Ay, that is
right--forget not your pistols. Come now, and let us away."
"Whither?" said Anthony.
"To my lady's chamber; and, mind, she MUST along with us. Thou
art not a fellow to be startled by a shriek?"
"Not if Scripture reason can be rendered for it; and it is
written, 'Wives obey your husbands.' But will my lord's commands
bear us out if we use violence?"
"Tush, man! here is his signet," answered Varney; and having
thus silenced the objections of his associate, they went together
to Lord Hunsdon's apartments, and acquainting the sentinel with
their purpose, as a matter sanctioned by the Queen and the Earl
of Leicester, they entered the chamber of the unfortunate
The horror of Amy may be conceived when, starting from a broken
slumber, she saw at her bedside Varney, the man on earth she most
feared and hated. It was even a consolation to see that he was
not alone, though she had so much reason to dread his sullen
"Madam," said Varney, "there is no time for ceremony. My Lord of
Leicester, having fully considered the exigencies of the time,
sends you his orders immediately to accompany us on our return to
Cumnor Place. See, here is his signet, in token of his instant
and pressing commands."
"It is false!" said the Countess; "thou hast stolen the warrant
--thou, who art capable of every villainy, from the blackest to
"It is TRUE, madam," replied Varney; "so true, that if you do not
instantly arise, and prepare to attend us, we must compel you to
obey our orders."
"Compel! Thou darest not put it to that issue, base as thou
art!" exclaimed the unhappy Countess.
"That remains to be proved, madam," said Varney, who had
determined on intimidation as the only means of subduing her high
spirit; "if you put me to it, you will find me a rough groom of
It was at this threat that Amy screamed so fearfully that, had it
not been for the received opinion of her insanity, she would
quickly have had Lord Hunsdon and others to her aid. Perceiving,
however, that her cries were vain, she appealed to Foster in the
most affecting terms, conjuring him, as his daughter Janet's
honour and purity were dear to him, not to permit her to be
treated with unwomanly violence.
"Why, madam, wives must obey their husbands---there's Scripture
warrant for it," said Foster; "and if you will dress yourself,
and come with us patiently, there's no one shall lay finger on
you while I can draw a pistol-trigger."
Seeing no help arrive, and comforted even by the dogged language
of Foster, the Countess promised to arise and dress herself, if
they would agree to retire from the room. Varney at the same
time assured her of all safety and honour while in their hands,
and promised that he himself would not approach her, since his
presence was so displeasing. Her husband, he added, would be at
Cumnor Place within twenty-four hours after they had reached it.
Somewhat comforted by this assurance, upon which, however, she
saw little reason to rely, the unhappy Amy made her toilette by
the assistance of the lantern, which they left with her when they
quitted the apartment.
Weeping, trembling, and praying, the unfortunate lady dressed
herself with sensations how different from the days in which she
was wont to decorate herself in all the pride of conscious
beauty! She endeavoured to delay the completing her dress as
long as she could, until, terrified by the impatience of Varney,
she was obliged to declare herself ready to attend them.
When they were about to move, the Countess clung to Foster with
such an appearance of terror at Varney's approach that the latter
protested to her, with a deep oath, that he had no intention
whatever of even coming near her. "If you do but consent to
execute your husband's will in quietness, you shall," he said,
"see but little of me. I will leave you undisturbed to the care
of the usher whom your good taste prefers."
"My husband's will!" she exclaimed. "But it is the will of God,
and let that be sufficient to me. I will go with Master Foster
as unresistingly as ever did a literal sacrifice. He is a father
at least; and will have decency, if not humanity. For thee,
Varney, were it my latest word, thou art an equal stranger to
Varney replied only she was at liberty to choose, and walked some
paces before them to show the way; while, half leaning on Foster,
and half carried by him, the Countess was transported from
Saintlowe's Tower to the postern gate, where Tider waited with
the litter and horses.
The Countess was placed in the former without resistance. She
saw with some satisfaction that, while Foster and Tider rode
close by the litter, which the latter conducted, the dreaded
Varney lingered behind, and was soon lost in darkness. A little
while she strove, as the road winded round the verge of the lake,
to keep sight of those stately towers which called her husband
lord, and which still, in some places, sparkled with lights,
where wassailers were yet revelling. But when the direction of
the road rendered this no longer possible, she drew back her
head, and sinking down in the litter, recommended herself to the
care of Providence.
Besides the desire of inducing the Countess to proceed quietly on
her journey, Varney had it also in view to have an interview with
Lambourne, by whom he every moment expected to be joined, without
the presence of any witnesses. He knew the character of this
man, prompt, bloody, resolute, and greedy, and judged him the
most fit agent he could employ in his further designs. But ten
miles of their journey had been measured ere he heard the hasty
clatter of horse's hoofs behind him, and was overtaken by Michael
Fretted as he was with his absence, Varney received his
profligate servant with a rebuke of unusual bitterness. "Drunken
villain," he said, "thy idleness and debauched folly will stretch
a halter ere it be long, and, for me, I care not how soon!"
This style of objurgation Lambourne, who was elated to an unusual
degree, not only by an extraordinary cup of wine, but by the sort
of confidential interview he had just had with the Earl, and the
secret of which he had made himself master, did not receive with
his wonted humility. "He would take no insolence of language,"
he said, "from the best knight that ever wore spurs. Lord
Leicester had detained him on some business of import, and that
was enough for Varney, who was but a servant like himself."
Varney was not a little surprised at his unusual tone of
insolence; but ascribing it to liquor, suffered it to pass as if
unnoticed, and then began to tamper with Lambourne touching his
willingness to aid in removing out of the Earl of Leicester's way
an obstacle to a rise, which would put it in his power to reward
his trusty followers to their utmost wish. And upon Michael
Lambourne's seeming ignorant what was meant, he plainly indicated
"the litter-load, yonder," as the impediment which he desired
should be removed.
"Look you, Sir Richard, and so forth," said Michael, "some are
wiser than some, that is one thing, and some are worse than some,
that's another. I know my lord's mind on this matter better than
thou, for he hath trusted me fully in the matter. Here are his
mandates, and his last words were, Michael Lambourne--for his
lordship speaks to me as a gentleman of the sword, and useth not
the words drunken villain, or such like phrase, of those who know
not how to bear new dignities--Varney, says he, must pay the
utmost respect to my Countess. I trust to you for looking to it,
Lambourne, says his lordship, and you must bring back my signet
from him peremptorily."
"Ay," replied Varney, "said he so, indeed? You know all, then?"
"All--all; and you were as wise to make a friend of me while the
weather is fair betwixt us."
"And was there no one present," said Varney, "when my lord so
"Not a breathing creature," replied Lambourne. "Think you my
lord would trust any one with such matters, save an approved man
of action like myself?"
"Most true," said Varney; and making a pause, he looked forward
on the moonlight road. They were traversing a wide and open
heath. The litter being at least a mile before them, was both
out of sight and hearing. He looked behind, and there was an
expanse, lighted by the moonbeams, without one human being in
sight. He resumed his speech to Lambourne: "And will you turn
upon your master, who has introduced you to this career of court-
like favour--whose apprentice you have been, Michael--who has
taught you the depths and shallows of court intrigue?"
"Michael not me!" said Lambourne; "I have a name will brook a
MASTER before it as well as another; and as to the rest, if I
have been an apprentice, my indenture is out, and I am resolute
to set up for myself."
"Take thy quittance first, thou fool!" said Varney; and with a
pistol, which he had for some time held in his hand, shot
Lambourne through the body.
The wretch fell from his horse without a single groan; and
Varney, dismounting, rifled his pockets, turning out the lining,
that it might appear he had fallen by robbers. He secured the
Earl's packet, which was his chief object; but he also took
Lambourne"s purse, containing some gold pieces, the relics of
what his debauchery had left him, and from a singular combination
of feelings, carried it in his hand only the length of a small
river, which crossed the road, into which he threw it as far as
he could fling. Such are the strange remnants of conscience
which remain after she seems totally subdued, that this cruel and
remorseless man would have felt himself degraded had he pocketed
the few pieces belonging to the wretch whom he had thus
The murderer reloaded his pistol after cleansing the lock and
barrel from the appearances of late explosion, and rode calmly
after the litter, satisfying himself that he had so adroitly
removed a troublesome witness to many of his intrigues, and the
bearer of mandates which he had no intentions to obey, and which,
therefore, he was desirous it should be thought had never reached
The remainder of the journey was made with a degree of speed
which showed the little care they had for the health of the
unhappy Countess. They paused only at places where all was under
their command, and where the tale they were prepared to tell of
the insane Lady Varney would have obtained ready credit had she
made an attempt to appeal to the compassion of the few persons
admitted to see her. But Amy saw no chance of obtaining a
hearing from any to whom she had an opportunity of addressing
herself; and besides, was too terrified for the presence of
Varney to violate the implied condition under which she was to
travel free from his company. The authority of Varney, often so
used during the Earl's private journeys to Cumnor, readily
procured relays of horses where wanted, so that they approached
Cumnor Place upon the night after they left Kenilworth.
At this period of the journey Varney came up to the rear of the
litter, as he had done before repeatedly during their progress,
and asked, "How does she?"
"She sleeps," said Foster. "I would we were home--her strength
"Rest will restore her," answered Varney. "She shall soon sleep
sound and long. We must consider how to lodge her in safety."
"In her own apartments, to be sure," said Foster. "I have sent
Janet to her aunt's with a proper rebuke, and the old women are
truth itself--for they hate this lady cordially."
"We will not trust them, however, friend Anthony," said Varney;
"We must secure her in that stronghold where you keep your gold."
"My gold!" said Anthony, much alarmed; "why, what gold have I?
God help me, I have no gold--I would I had!"
"Now, marry hang thee, thou stupid brute, who thinks of or cares
for thy gold? If I did, could I not find an hundred better ways
to come at it? In one word, thy bedchamber, which thou hast
fenced so curiously, must be her place of seclusion; and thou,
thou hind, shalt press her pillows of down. I dare to say the
Earl will never ask after the rich furniture of these four
This last consideration rendered Foster tractable; he only asked
permission to ride before, to make matters ready, and spurring
his horse, he posted before the litter, while Varney falling
about threescore paces behind it, it remained only attended by
When they had arrived at Cumnor Place, the Countess asked eagerly
for Janet, and showed much alarm when informed that she was no
longer to have the attendance of that amiable girl.
"My daughter is dear to me, madam," said Foster gruffly; "and I
desire not that she should get the court-tricks of lying and
'scaping--somewhat too much of that has she learned already, an
it please your ladyship."
The Countess, much fatigued and greatly terrified by the
circumstances of her journey, made no answer to this insolence,
but mildly expressed a wish to retire to her chamber,
"Ay, ay," muttered Foster, "'tis but reasonable; but, under
favour, you go not to your gew-gaw toy-house yonder--you will
sleep to-night in better security."
"I would it were in my grave," said the Countess; "but that
mortal feelings shiver at the idea of soul and body parting."
"You, I guess, have no chance to shiver at that," replied Foster.
"My lord comes hither to-morrow, and doubtless you will make your
own ways good with him."
"But does he come hither?--does he indeed, good Foster?"
"Oh, ay, good Foster!" replied the other. "But what Foster
shall I be to-morrow when you speak of me to my lord--though all
I have done was to obey his own orders?"
"You shall be my protector--a rough one indeed--but still a
protector," answered the Countess. "Oh that Janet were but
"She is better where she is," answered Foster--"one of you is
enough to perplex a plain head. But will you taste any
"Oh no, no--my chamber--my chamber! I trust," she said
apprehensively, "I may secure it on the inside?"
"With all my heart," answered Foster, "so I may secure it on the
outside;" and taking a light, he led the way to a part of the
building where Amy had never been, and conducted her up a stair
of great height, preceded by one of the old women with a lamp.
At the head of the stair, which seemed of almost immeasurable
height, they crossed a short wooden gallery, formed of black oak,
and very narrow, at the farther end of which was a strong oaken
door, which opened and admitted them into the miser's apartment,
homely in its accommodations in the very last degree, and, except
in name, little different from a prison-room.
Foster stopped at the door, and gave the lamp to the Countess,
without either offering or permitting the attendance of the old
woman who had carried it. The lady stood not on ceremony, but
taking it hastily, barred the door, and secured it with the ample
means provided on the inside for that purpose.
Varney, meanwhile, had lurked behind on the stairs; but hearing
the door barred, he now came up on tiptoe, and Foster, winking to
him, pointed with self-complacence to a piece of concealed
machinery in the wall, which, playing with much ease and little
noise, dropped a part of the wooden gallery, after the manner of
a drawbridge, so as to cut off all communication between the door
of the bedroom, which he usually inhabited, and the landing-place
of the high, winding stair which ascended to it. The rope by
which this machinery was wrought was generally carried within the
bedchamber, it being Foster's object to provide against invasion
from without; but now that it was intended to secure the prisoner
within, the cord had been brought over to the landing-place, and
was there made fast, when Foster with much complacency had
dropped the unsuspected trap-door.
Varney looked with great attention at the machinery, and peeped
more than once down the abyss which was opened by the fall of the
trap-door. It was dark as pitch, and seemed profoundly deep,
going, as Foster informed his confederate in a whisper, nigh to
the lowest vault of the Castle. Varney cast once more a fixed
and long look down into this sable gulf, and then followed Foster
to the part of the manor-house most usually inhabited.
When they arrived in the parlour which we have mentioned, Varney
requested Foster to get them supper, and some of the choicest
wine. "I will seek Alasco," he added; "we have work for him to
do, and we must put him in good heart."
Foster groaned at this intimation, but made no remonstrance. The
old woman assured Varney that Alasco had scarce eaten or drunken
since her master's departure, living perpetually shut up in the
laboratory, and talking as if the world's continuance depended on
what he was doing there.
"I will teach him that the world hath other claims on him," said
Varney, seizing a light, and going in quest of the alchemist. He
returned, after a considerable absence, very pale, but yet with
his habitual sneer on his cheek and nostril. "Our friend," he
said, "has exhaled."
"How!--what mean you?" said Foster--"run away--fled with my
forty pounds, that should have been multiplied a thousand-fold?
I will have Hue and Cry!"
"I will tell thee a surer way," said Varney.
"How!--which way?" exclaimed Foster; "I will have back my forty
pounds--I deemed them as surely a thousand times multiplied--I
will have back my in-put, at the least."
"Go hang thyself, then, and sue Alasco in the Devil's Court of
Chancery, for thither he has carried the cause."
"How!--what dost thou mean is he dead?"
"Ay, truly is he," said Varney; "and properly swollen already in
the face and body. He had been mixing some of his devil's
medicines, and the glass mask which he used constantly had fallen
from his face, so that the subtle poison entered the brain, and
did its work."
"SANCTA MARIA!" said Foster--"I mean, God in His mercy preserve
us from covetousness and deadly sin!--Had he not had projection,
think you? Saw you no ingots in the crucibles?"
"Nay, I looked not but at the dead carrion," answered Varney; "an
ugly spectacle--he was swollen like a corpse three days exposed
on the wheel. Pah! give me a cup of wine."
"I will go," said Foster, "I will examine myself--" He took the
lamp, and hastened to the door, but there hesitated and paused.
"Will you not go with me?" said he to Varney.
"To what purpose?" said Varney; "I have seen and smelled enough
to spoil my appetite. I broke the window, however, and let in
the air; it reeked of sulphur, and such like suffocating steams,
as if the very devil had been there."
"And might it not be the act of the demon himself?" said Foster,
still hesitating; "I have heard he is powerful at such times, and
with such people."
"Still, if it were that Satan of thine," answered Varney, "who
thus jades thy imagination, thou art in perfect safety, unless he
is a most unconscionable devil indeed. He hath had two good sops
"How TWO sops--what mean you?" said Foster--"what mean you?"
"You will know in time," said Varney;--"and then this other
banquet--but thou wilt esteem Her too choice a morsel for the
fiend's tooth--she must have her psalms, and harps, and seraphs."
Anthony Foster heard, and came slowly back to the table. "God!
Sir Richard, and must that then be done?"
"Ay, in very truth, Anthony, or there comes no copyhold in thy
way," replied his inflexible associate.
"I always foresaw it would land there!" said Foster. "But how,
Sir Richard, how?--for not to win the world would I put hands on
"I cannot blame thee," said Varney; "I should be reluctant to do
that myself. We miss Alasco and his manna sorely--ay, and the
"Why, where tarries Lambourne?" said Anthony.
"Ask no questions," said Varney, "thou wilt see him one day if
thy creed is true. But to our graver matter. I will teach thee
a spring, Tony, to catch a pewit. Yonder trap-door--yonder
gimcrack of thine, will remain secure in appearance, will it not,
though the supports are withdrawn beneath?"
"Ay, marry, will it," said Foster; "so long as it is not trodden
"But were the lady to attempt an escape over it," replied Varney,
"her weight would carry it down?"
"A mouse's weight would do it," said Foster.
"Why, then, she dies in attempting her escape, and what could you
or I help it, honest Tony? Let us to bed, we will adjust our
On the next day, when evening approached, Varney summoned Foster
to the execution of their plan. Tider and Foster's old man-
servant were sent on a feigned errand down to the village, and
Anthony himself, as if anxious to see that the Countess suffered
no want of accommodation, visited her place of confinement. He
was so much staggered at the mildness and patience with which she
seemed to endure her confinement, that he could not help
earnestly recommending to her not to cross the threshold of her
room on any account whatever, until Lord Leicester should come,
"which," he added, "I trust in God, will be very soon." Amy
patiently promised that she would resign herself to her fate.
and Foster returned to his hardened companion with his conscience
half-eased of the perilous load that weighed on it. "I have
warned her," he said; "surely in vain is the snare set in the
sight of any bird!"
He left, therefore, the Countess's door unsecured on the outside,
and, under the eye of Varney, withdrew the supports which
sustained the falling trap, which, therefore, kept its level
position merely by a slight adhesion. They withdrew to wait the
issue on the ground-floor adjoining; but they waited long in
vain. At length Varney, after walking long to and fro, with his
face muffled in his cloak, threw it suddenly back and exclaimed,
"Surely never was a woman fool enough to neglect so fair an
opportunity of escape!"
"Perhaps she is resolved," said Foster, "to await her husband's
"True!--most true!" said Varney, rushing out; "I had not thought
of that before."
In less than two minutes, Foster, who remained behind, heard the
tread of a horse in the courtyard, and then a whistle similar to
that which was the Earl's usual signal. The instant after the
door of the Countess's chamber opened, and in the same moment the
trap-door gave way. There was a rushing sound--a heavy fall--a
faint groan--and all was over.
At the same instant, Varney called in at the window, in an accent
and tone which was an indescribable mixture betwixt horror and
raillery, "Is the bird caught?--is the deed done?"
"O God, forgive us!" replied Anthony Foster.
"Why, thou fool," said Varney, "thy toil is ended, and thy reward
secure. Look down into the vault--what seest thou?"
"I see only a heap of white clothes, like a snowdrift," said
Foster. "O God, she moves her arm!"
"Hurl something down on her--thy gold chest, Tony--it is an heavy
"Varney, thou art an incarnate fiend!" replied Foster.
"There needs nothing more--she is gone!"
"So pass our troubles," said Varney, entering the room; "I
dreamed not I could have mimicked the Earl's call so well."
"Oh, if there be judgment in heaven, thou hast deserved it," said
Foster, "and wilt meet it! Thou hast destroyed her by means of
her best affections--it is a seething of the kid in the mother's
"Thou art a fanatical ass," replied Varney; "let us now think how
the alarm should be given--the body is to remain where it is."
But their wickedness was to be permitted no longer; for even
while they were at this consultation, Tressilian and Raleigh
broke in upon them, having obtained admittance by means of Tider
and Foster's servant, whom they had secured at the village.
Anthony Foster fled on their entrance, and knowing each corner
and pass of the intricate old house, escaped all search. But
Varney was taken on the spot; and instead of expressing
compunction for what he had done, seemed to take a fiendish
pleasure in pointing out to them the remains of the murdered
Countess, while at the same time he defied them to show that he
had any share in her death. The despairing grief of Tressilian,
on viewing the mangled and yet warm remains of what had lately
been so lovely and so beloved, was such that Raleigh was
compelled to have him removed from the place by force, while he
himself assumed the direction of what was to be done.
Varney, upon a second examination, made very little mystery
either of the crime or of its motives---alleging, as a reason for
his frankness, that though much of what he confessed could only
have attached to him by suspicion, yet such suspicion would have
been sufficient to deprive him of Leicester's confidence, and to
destroy all his towering plans of ambition. "I was not born," he
said, "to drag on the remainder of life a degraded outcast; nor
will I so die that my fate shall make a holiday to the vulgar
From these words it was apprehended he had some design upon
himself, and he was carefully deprived of all means by which such
could be carried into execution. But like some of the heroes of
antiquity, he carried about his person a small quantity of strong
poison, prepared probably by the celebrated Demetrius Alasco.
Having swallowed this potion over-night, he was found next
morning dead in his cell; nor did he appear to have suffered much
agony, his countenance presenting, even in death, the habitual
expression of sneering sarcasm which was predominant while he
lived. "The wicked man," saith Scripture, "hath no bands in his
The fate of his colleague in wickedness was long unknown. Cumnor
Place was deserted immediately after the murder; for in the
vicinity of what was called the Lady Dudley's Chamber, the
domestics pretended to hear groans, and screams, and other
supernatural noises. After a certain length of time, Janet,
hearing no tidings of her father, became the uncontrolled
mistress of his property, and conferred it with her hand upon
Wayland, now a man of settled character, and holding a place in
Elizabeth's household. But it was after they had been both dead
for some years that their eldest son and heir, in making some
researches about Cumnor Hall, discovered a secret passage, closed
by an iron door, which, opening from behind the bed in the Lady
Dudley's Chamber, descended to a sort of cell, in which they
found an iron chest containing a quantity of gold, and a human
skeleton stretched above it. The fate of Anthony Foster was now
manifest. He had fled to this place of concealment, forgetting
the key of the spring-lock; and being barred from escape by the
means he had used for preservation of that gold, for which he had
sold his salvation, he had there perished miserably.
Unquestionably the groans and screams heard by the domestics were
not entirely imaginary, but were those of this wretch, who, in
his agony, was crying for relief and succour.
The news of the Countess's dreadful fate put a sudden period to
the pleasures of Kenilworth. Leicester retired from court, and
for a considerable time abandoned himself to his remorse. But as
Varney in his last declaration had been studious to spare the
character of his patron, the Earl was the object rather of
compassion than resentment. The Queen at length recalled him to
court; he was once more distinguished as a statesman and
favourite; and the rest of his career is well known to history.
But there was something retributive in his death, if, according
to an account very generally received, it took place from his
swallowing a draught of poison which was designed by him for
another person. [See Note 9. Death of the Earl of Leicester.]
Sir Hugh Robsart died very soon after his daughter, having
settled his estate on Tressilian. But neither the prospect of
rural independence, nor the promises of favour which Elizabeth
held out to induce him to follow the court, could remove his
profound melancholy. Wherever he went he seemed to see before
him the disfigured corpse of the early and only object of his
affection. At length, having made provision for the maintenance
of the old friends and old servants who formed Sir Hugh's family
at Lidcote Hall, he himself embarked with his friend Raleigh for
the Virginia expedition, and, young in years but old in grief,
died before his day in that foreign land.
Of inferior persons it is only necessary to say that Blount's wit
grew brighter as his yellow roses faded; that, doing his part as
a brave commander in the wars, he was much more in his element
than during the short period of his following the court; and that
Flibbertigibbet's acute genius raised him to favour and
distinction in the employment both of Burleigh and Walsingham.
Note 1. Ch. III.--FOSTER, LAMBOURNE, AND THE BLACK BEAR.
If faith is to be put in epitaphs, Anthony Foster was something
the very reverse of the character represented in the novel.
Ashmole gives this description of his tomb. I copy from the
ANTIQUITIES OF BERKSHIRE, vol.i., p.143.
"In the north wall of the chancel at Cumnor church is a monument
of grey marble, whereon, in brass plates, are engraved a man in
armour, and his wife in the habit of her times, both kneeling
before a fald-stoole, together with the figures of three sons
kneeling behind their mother. Under the figure of the man is
"ANTONIUS FORSTER, generis generosa propago,
Cumnerae Dominus, Bercheriensis erat.
Armiger, Armigero prognatus patre Ricardo,
Qui quondam Iphlethae Salopiensis erat.
Quatuor ex isto fluxerunt stemmate nati,
Ex isto Antonius stemmate quartus erat.
Mente sagax, animo precellens, corpore promptus,
Eloquii dulcis, ore disertus erat.
In factis probitas; fuit in sermone venustas,
In vultu gravitas, relligione fides,
In patriam pietas, in egenos grata voluntas,
Accedunt reliquis annumeranda bonis.
Si quod cuncta rapit, rapuit non omnia Lethum,
Si quod Mors rapuit, vivida fama dedit.
"These verses following are writ at length, two by two, in praise
"Argute resonas Cithare pretendere chordas
Novit, et Aonia concrepuisse Lyra.
Gaudebat terre teneras defigere plantas;
Et mira pulchras construere arte domos
Composita varias lingua formare loquelas
Doctus, et edocta scribere multa manu.
"The arms over it thus:--
Quart. I. 3 HUNTER'S HORNS stringed.
II. 3 PINIONS with their points upwards.
"The crest is a STAG couchant, vulnerated through the neck by a
broad arrow; on his side is a MARTLETT for a difference."
From this monumental inscription it appears that Anthony Foster,
instead of being a vulgar, low-bred, puritanical churl, was, in
fact, a gentleman of birth and consideration, distinguished for
his skill in the arts of music and horticulture, as also in
languages. In so far, therefore, the Anthony Foster of the
romance has nothing but the name in common with the real
individual. But notwithstanding the charity, benevolence, and
religious faith imputed by the monument of grey marble to its
tenant, tradition, as well as secret history, names him as the
active agent in the death of the Countess; and it is added that,
from being a jovial and convivial gallant, as we may infer from
some expressions in the epitaph, he sunk, after the fatal deed,
into a man of gloomy and retired habits, whose looks and manners
indicated that he suffered under the pressure of some atrocious
The name of Lambourne is still known in the vicinity, and it is
said some of the clan partake the habits, as well as name, of the
Michael Lambourne of the romance. A man of this name lately
murdered his wife, outdoing Michael in this respect, who only was
concerned in the murder of the wife of another man.
I have only to add that the jolly Black Bear has been restored to
his predominance over bowl and bottle in the village of Cumnor.
Note 2. Ch. XIII.--LEGEND OF WAYLAND SMITH.
The great defeat given by Alfred to the Danish invaders is said
by Mr. Gough to have taken place near Ashdown, in Berkshire. "The
burial place of Baereg, the Danish chief, who was slain in this
fight, is distinguished by a parcel of stones, less than a mile
from the hill, set on edge, enclosing a piece of ground somewhat
raised. On the east side of the southern extremity stand three
squarish flat stones, of about four or five feet over either way,
supporting a fourth, and now called by the vulgar WAYLAND SMITH,
from an idle tradition about an invisible smith replacing lost
horse-shoes there."--GOUGH'S edition of CAMDEN'S BRITANNIA,
vol.i., p. 221.
The popular belief still retains memory of this wild legend,
which, connected as it is with the site of a Danish sepulchre,
may have arisen from some legend concerning the northern Duergar,
who resided in the rocks, and were cunning workers in steel and
iron. It was believed that Wayland Smith's fee was sixpence, and
that, unlike other workmen, he was offended if more was offered.
Of late his offices have been again called to memory; but fiction
has in this, as in other cases, taken the liberty to pillage the
stores of oral tradition. This monument must be very ancient,
for it has been kindly pointed out to me that it is referred to
in an ancient Saxon charter as a landmark. The monument has been
of late cleared out, and made considerably more conspicuous.
Note 3. Ch. XIV.--LEICESTER AND SUSSEX.
Naunton gives us numerous and curious particulars of the jealous
struggle which took place between Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex, and
the rising favourite Leicester. The former, when on his
deathbed, predicted to his followers that after his death the
gipsy (so he called Leicester, from his dark complexion) would
prove too many for them.
Note 4. Ch. XIV.--SIR WALTER RALEIGH.
Among the attendants and adherents of Sussex, we have ventured to
introduce the celebrated Raleigh, in the dawn of his court
In Aubrey's Correspondence there are some curious particulars of
Sir Walter Raleigh. "He was a tall, handsome, bold man; but his
naeve was that he was damnably proud. Old Sir Robert Harley of
Brampton Brian Castle, who knew him, would say it was a great
question who was the proudest, Sir Walter or Sir Thomas Overbury;
but the difference that was, was judged in Sir Thomas's side. In
the great parlour at Downton, at Mr. Raleigh's, is a good piece,
an original of Sir Walter, in a white satin doublet, all
embroidered with rich pearls, and a mighty rich chain of great
pearls about his neck. The old servants have told me that the
real pearls were near as big as the painted ones. He had a most
remarkable aspect, an exceeding high forehead, long-faced, and
sour-eyelidded. "A rebus is added to this purpose:--
The enemy to the stomach, and the word of disgrace,
Is the name of the gentleman with the bold face.
Sir Walter Raleigh's beard turned up naturally, which gave him an
advantage over the gallants of the time, whose moustaches
received a touch of the barber's art to give them the air then
most admired.--See AUBREY'S CORRESPONDENCE, vol.ii., part ii.,
Note 5. Ch. XV.--COURT FAVOUR OF SIR WALTER RALEIGH.
The gallant incident of the cloak is the traditional account of
this celebrated statesman's rise at court. None of Elizabeth's
courtiers knew better than he how to make his court to her
personal vanity, or could more justly estimate the quantity of
flattery which she could condescend to swallow. Being confined
in the Tower for some offence, and understanding the Queen was
about to pass to Greenwich in her barge, he insisted on
approaching the window, that he might see, at whatever distance,
the Queen of his Affections, the most beautiful object which the
earth bore on its surface. The Lieutenant of the Tower (his own
particular friend) threw himself between his prisoner and the
window; while Sir Waiter, apparently influenced by a fit of
unrestrainable passion, swore he would not be debarred from
seeing his light, his life, his goddess! A scuffle ensued, got
up for effect's sake, in which the Lieutenant and his captive
grappled and struggled with fury, tore each other's hair, and at
length drew daggers, and were only separated by force. The Queen
being informed of this scene exhibited by her frantic adorer, it
wrought, as was to be expected, much in favour of the captive
Paladin. There is little doubt that his quarrel with the
Lieutenant was entirely contrived for the purpose which it
Note 6. Ch. XVII.--ROBERT LANEHAM.
Little is known of Robert Laneham, save in his curious letter to
a friend in London, giving an account of Queen Elizabeth's
entertainments at Kenilworth, written in a style of the most
intolerable affectation, both in point of composition and
orthography. He describes himself as a BON VIVANT, who was wont
to be jolly and dry in the morning, and by his good-will would be
chiefly in the company of the ladies. He was, by the interest of
Lord Leicester, Clerk of the Council Chamber door, and also
keeper of the same. "When Council sits," says he, "I am at hand.
If any makes a babbling, PEACE, say I. If I see a listener or a
pryer in at the chinks or lockhole, I am presently on the bones
of him. If a friend comes, I make him sit down by me on a form
or chest. The rest may walk, a God's name!" There has been
seldom a better portrait of the pragmatic conceit and self-
importance of a small man in office.
Note 7. Ch. XVIII.--DR. JULIO.
The Earl of Leicester's Italian physician, Julio, was affirmed by
his contemporaries to be a skilful compounder of poisons, which
he applied with such frequency, that the Jesuit Parsons extols
ironically the marvellous good luck of this great favourite in
the opportune deaths of those who stood in the way of his wishes.
There is a curious passage on the subject:--
"Long after this, he fell in love with the Lady Sheffield, whom I
signified before, and then also had he the same fortune to have
her husband dye quickly, with an extreame rheume in his head (as
it was given out), but as others say, of an artificiall catarre
that stopped his breath.
"The like good chance had he in the death of my Lord of Essex (as
I have said before), and that at a time most fortunate for his
purpose; for when he was coming home from Ireland, with intent to
revenge himselfe upon my Lord of Leicester for begetting his wife
with childe in his absence (the childe was a daughter, and
brought up by the Lady Shandoes, W. Knooles, his wife), my Lord
of Leicester hearing thereof, wanted not a friend or two to
accompany the deputy, as among other a couple of the Earles own
servants, Crompton (if I misse not his name), yeoman of his
bottles, and Lloid his secretary, entertained afterward by my
Lord of Leicester, and so he dyed in the way of an extreame flux,
caused by an Italian receipe, as all his friends are well
assured, the maker whereof was a chyrurgeon (as it is beleeved)
that then was newly come to my Lord from Italy---a cunning man
and sure in operation, with whom, if the good Lady had been
sooner acquainted, and used his help, she should not have needed
to sitten so pensive at home, and fearefull of her husband's
former returne out of the same country......Neither must you
marvaile though all these died in divers manners of outward
diseases, for this is the excellency of the Italian art, for
which this chyrurgeon and Dr. Julio were entertained so
carefully, who can make a man dye in what manner or show of
sickness you will--by whose instructions, no doubt; but his
lordship is now cunning, especially adding also to these the
counsell of his Doctor Bayly, a man also not a little studied (as
he seemeth) in his art; for I heard him once myselfe, in a
publique act in Oxford, and that in presence of my Lord of
Leicester (if I be not deceived), maintain that poyson might be
so tempered and given as it should not appear presently, and yet
should kill the party afterward, at what time should be
appointed; which argument belike pleased well his lordship, and
therefore was chosen to be discussed in his audience, if I be not
deceived of his being that day present. So, though one dye of a
flux, and another of a catarre, yet this importeth little to the
matter, but showeth rather the great cunning and skill of the
artificer."--PARSONS' LEICESTER'S COMMONWEALTH, p.23.
It is unnecessary to state the numerous reasons why the Earl is
stated in the tale to be rather the dupe of villains than the
unprincipled author of their atrocities. In the latter capacity,
which a part at least of his contemporaries imputed to him, he
would have made a character too disgustingly wicked to be useful
for the purposes of fiction.
I have only to add that the union of the poisoner, the
quacksalver, the alchemist, and the astrologer in the same person
was familiar to the pretenders to the mystic sciences.
Note 8. Ch. XXXII.--FURNITURE OF KENILWORTH.
In revising this work, I have had the means of making some
accurate additions to my attempt to describe the princely
pleasures of Kenilworth, by the kindness of my friend William
Hamper, Esq., who had the goodness to communicate to me an
inventory of the furniture of Kenilworth in the days of the
magnificent Earl of Leicester. I have adorned the text with some
of the splendid articles mentioned in the inventory, but
antiquaries especially will be desirous to see a more full
specimen than the story leaves room for.
EXTRACTS FROM KENILWORTH INVENTORY, A.D. 1584.
A Salte, ship-fashion, of the mother of perle, garnished with
silver and divers workes, warlike ensignes, and ornaments, with
xvj peeces of ordinance whereof ij on wheles, two anckers on the
foreparte, and on the stearne the image of Dame Fortune standing
on a globe with a flag in her hand. Pois xxxij oz.
A gilte salte like a swann, mother of perle. Pois xxx oz. iij
A George on horseback, of wood, painted and gilt, with a case for
knives in the tayle of the horse, and a case for oyster knives in
the brest of the Dragon.
A green barge-cloth, embrother'd with white lions and beares.
A perfuming pann, of silver. Pois xix oz.
In the halle. Tabells, long and short, vj. Formes, long and
(These are minutely specified, and consisted of the following
subjects, in tapestry, and gilt, and red leather.)
Flowers, beasts, and pillars arched. Forest worke. Historie.
Storie of Susanna, the Prodigall Childe, Saule, Tobie, Hercules,
Lady Fame, Hawking and Hunting, Jezabell, Judith and Holofernes,
David, Abraham, Sampson, Hippolitus, Alexander the Great, Naaman
the Assyrian, Jacob, etc.
BEDSTEADS, WITH THEIR FURNITURE.
(These are magnificent and numerous. I shall copy VERBATIM the
description of what appears to have been one of the best.)
A bedsted of wallnut-tree, toppe fashion, the pillers redd and
varnished, the ceelor, tester, and single vallance of crimson
sattin, paned with a broad border of bone lace of golde and
silver. The tester richlie embrothered with my Lo. armes in a
garland of hoppes, roses, and pomegranetts, and lyned with
buckerom. Fyve curteins of crimson sattin to the same bedsted,
striped downe with a bone lace of gold and silver, garnished with
buttons and loops of crimson silk and golde, containing xiiij
bredths of sattin, and one yarde iij quarters deepe. The ceelor,
vallance, and curteins lyned with crymson taffata sarsenet.
A crymson sattin counterpointe, quilted and embr. with a golde
twiste, and lyned with redd sarsenet, being in length iij yards
good, and in breadth iij scant.
A chaise of crymson sattin, suteable.
A fayre quilte of crymson sattin, vj breadths, iij yardes 3
quarters naile deepe, all lozenged over with silver twiste, in
the midst a cinquefoile within a garland of ragged staves,
fringed rounde aboute with a small fringe of crymson silke, lyned
throughe with white fustian.
Fyve plumes of coolered feathers, garnished with bone lace and
spangells of goulde and silver, standing in cups knitt all over
with goulde, silver, and crymson silk. [Probably on the centre
and four corners of the bedstead. Four bears and ragged staves
occupied a similar position on another of these sumptuous pieces
A carpett for a cupboarde of crymson sattin, embrothered with a
border of goulde twiste, about iij parts of it fringed with silk
and goulde, lyned with bridges [That is, Bruges.] sattin, in
length ij yards, and ij bredths of sattin.
(There were eleven down beds and ninety feather beds, besides
CHYRES, STOOLES, AND CUSHENS.
(These were equally splendid with the beds, etc. I shall here
copy that which stands at the head of the list.)
A chaier of crimson velvet, the seate and backe partlie
embrothered, with R. L. in cloth of goulde, the beare and ragged
staffe in clothe of silver, garnished with lace and fringe of
goulde, silver, and crimson silck. The frame covered with
velvet, bounde aboute the edge with goulde lace, and studded with
A square stoole and a foote stoole, of crimson velvet, fringed
and garnished suteable.
A long cushen of crimson velvet, embr. with the ragged staffe in
a wreathe of goulde, with my Lo. posie "DROYTE ET LOYALL" written
in the same, and the letters R. L. in clothe of goulde, being
garnished with lace, fringe, buttons, and tassels of gold,
silver, and crimson silck, lyned with crimson taff., being in
length 1 yard quarter.
A square cushen, of the like velvet, embr. suteable to the long
(There were 10 velvet carpets for tables and windows, 49 Turkey
carpets for floors, and 32 cloth carpets. One of each I will now
A carpett of crimson velvet, richlie embr. with my Lo. posie,
beares and ragged staves, etc., of clothe of goulde and silver,
garnished upon the seames and aboute with golde lace, fringed
accordinglie, lyned with crimson taffata sarsenett, being 3
breadths of velvet, one yard 3 quarters long.
A great Turquoy carpett, the grounde blew, with a list of yelloe
at each end, being in length x yards, in bredthe iiij yards and
A long carpett of blew clothe, lyned with bridges sattin, fringed
with blew silck and goulde, in length vj yards lack a quarter,
the whole bredth of the clothe.
(Chiefly described as having curtains.)
The Queene's Majestie (2 great tables). 3 of my Lord. St.
Jerome. Lo. of Arundell. Lord Mathevers. Lord of Pembroke.
Counte Egmondt. The Queene of Scotts. King Philip. The Baker's
Daughters. The Duke of Feria. Alexander Magnus. Two Yonge
Ladies. Pompaea Sabina. Fred. D. of Saxony. Emp. Charles.
K. Philip's Wife. Prince of Orange and his Wife. Marq. of
Berges and his Wife. Counte de Home. Count Holstrate. Monsr.
Brederode. Duke Alva. Cardinal Grandville. Duches of Parma.
Henrie E. of Pembrooke and his young Countess. Countis of Essex.
Occacion and Repentance. Lord Mowntacute. Sir Jas. Crofts. Sir
Wr. Mildmay. Sr. Wm. Pickering. Edwin Abp. of York.
A tabell of an historie of men, women, and children, moulden in
A little foulding table of ebanie, garnished with white bone,
wherein are written verses with lres. of goulde.
A table of my Lord's armes.
Fyve of the plannetts, painted in frames.
Twentie-three cardes, [That is charts.] or maps of countries.
(I shall give two specimens.)
An instrument of organs, regall, and virginalls, covered with
crimson velvet, and garnished with goulde lace.
A fair pair of double virginalls.
A cabonett of crimson sattin, richlie embr. with a device of
hunting the stagg, in goulde, silver, and silck, with iiij
glasses in the topp thereof, xvj cupps of flowers made of goulde,
silver, and silck, in a case of leather, lyned with greene sattin
(Another of purple velvet. A desk of red leather.)
A CHESS BOARDE of ebanie, with checkars of christall and other
stones, layed with silver, garnished with beares and ragged
staves, and cinquefoiles of silver. The xxxij men likewyse of
christall and other stones sett, the one sort in silver white,
the other gilte, in a case gilded and lyned with green cotton.
(Another of bone and ebanie. A pair of tabells of bone.)
A great BRASON CANDLESTICK to hang in the roofe of the howse,
verie fayer and curiouslye wrought, with xxiiij branches, xij
greate and xij of lesser size, 6 rowlers and ij wings for the
spreade eagle, xxiiij socketts for candells, xij greater and xij
of a lesser sorte, xxiiij sawcers, or candlecups, of like
proporcion to put under the socketts, iij images of men and iij
of weomen, of brass, verie finely and artificiallie done.
These specimens of Leicester's magnificence may serve to assure
the reader that it scarce lay in the power of a modern author to
exaggerate the lavish style of expense displayed in the princely
pleasures of Kenilworth.
Note to Ch. XLI.--DEATH OF THE EARL OF LEICESTER.
In a curious manuscript copy of the information given by Ben
Jonson to Drummond of Hawthornden, as transcribed by Sir Robert
Sibbald, Leicester's death is ascribed to poison administered as
a cordial by his countess, to whom he had given it, representing
it to be a restorative in any faintness, in the hope that she
herself might be cut off by using it. We have already quoted
Jonson's account of this merited stroke of retribution in a note
of the Introduction to this volume. It may be here added that
the following satirical epitaph on Leicester occurs in Drummond's
Collection, but is evidently not of his composition:--
EPITAPH ON THE ERLE OF LEISTER.
Here lies a valiant warriour,
Who never drew a sword;
Here lies a noble courtier,
Who never kept his word;
Here lies the Erle of Leister,
Who governed the Estates,
Whom the earth could never living love,
And the just Heaven now hates.