Part 4 out of 11
While he accoutred him for the journey, Tressilian drew his own
girths tighter, and in a few minutes both were ready to mount.
At this moment Sludge approached to bid them farewell.
"You are going to leave me, then, my old playfellow," said the
boy; "and there is an end of all our game at bo-peep with the
cowardly lubbards whom I brought hither to have their broad-
footed nags shed by the devil and his imps?"
"It is even so," said Wayland Smith, "the best friends must part,
Flibbertigibbet; but thou, my boy, art the only thing in the Vale
of Whitehorse which I shall regret to leave behind me."
"Well, I bid thee not farewell," said Dickie Sludge, "for you
will be at these revels, I judge, and so shall I; for if Dominie
Holiday take me not thither, by the light of day, which we see
not in yonder dark hole, I will take myself there!"
"In good time," said Wayland; "but I pray you to do nought
"Nay, now you would make a child, a common child of me, and tell
me of the risk of walking without leading-strings. But before
you are a mile from these stones, you shall know by a sure token
that I have more of the hobgoblin about me than you credit; and I
will so manage that, if you take advantage, you may profit by my
"What dost thou mean, boy?" said Tressilian; but Flibbertigibbet
only answered with a grin and a caper, and bidding both of them
farewell, and, at the same time, exhorting them to make the best
of their way from the place, he set them the example by running
homeward with the same uncommon velocity with which he had
baffled Tressilian's former attempts to get hold of him.
"It is in vain to chase him," said Wayland Smith; "for unless
your worship is expert in lark-hunting, we should never catch
hold of him--and besides, what would it avail? Better make the
best of our way hence, as he advises."
They mounted their horses accordingly, and began to proceed at a
round pace, as soon as Tressilian had explained to his guide the
direction in which he desired to travel.
After they had trotted nearly a mile, Tressilian could not help
observing to his companion that his horse felt more lively under
him than even when he mounted in the morning.
"Are you avised of that?" said Wayland Smith, smiling. "That is
owing to a little secret of mine. I mixed that with an handful
of oats which shall save your worship's heels the trouble of
spurring these six hours at least. Nay, I have not studied
medicine and pharmacy for nought."
"I trust," said Tressilian, "your drugs will do my horse no
"No more than the mare's milk; which foaled him," answered the
artist, and was proceeding to dilate on the excellence of his
recipe when he was interrupted by an explosion as loud and
tremendous as the mine which blows up the rampart of a
beleaguered city. The horses started, and the riders were
equally surprised. They turned to gaze in the direction from
which the thunder-clap was heard, and beheld, just over the spot
they had left so recently, a huge pillar of dark smoke rising
high into the clear, blue atmosphere. "My habitation is gone to
wreck," said Wayland, immediately conjecturing the cause of the
explosion. "I was a fool to mention the doctor's kind intentions
towards my mansion before that limb of mischief, Flibbertigibbet;
I might have guessed he would long to put so rare a frolic into
execution. But let us hasten on, for the sound will collect the
country to the spot."
So saying, he spurred his horse, and Tressilian also quickening
his speed, they rode briskly forward.
"This, then, was the meaning of the little imp's token which he
promised us?" said Tressilian. "Had we lingered near the spot,
we had found it a love-token with a vengeance."
"He would have given us warning," said the smith. "I saw him
look back more than once to see if we were off--'tis a very
devil for mischief, yet not an ill-natured devil either. It were
long to tell your honour how I became first acquainted with him,
and how many tricks he played me. Many a good turn he did me
too, especially in bringing me customers; for his great delight
was to see them sit shivering behind the bushes when they heard
the click of my hammer. I think Dame Nature, when she lodged a
double quantity of brains in that misshapen head of his, gave him
the power of enjoying other people's distresses, as she gave them
the pleasure of laughing at his ugliness."
"It may be so," said Tressilian; "those who find themselves
severed from society by peculiarities of form, if they do not
hate the common bulk of mankind, are at least not altogether
indisposed to enjoy their mishaps and calamities."
"But Flibbertigibbet," answered Wayland, "hath that about him
which may redeem his turn for mischievous frolic; for he is as
faithful when attached as he is tricky and malignant to
strangers, and, as I said before, I have cause to say so."
Tressilian pursued the conversation no further, and they
continued their journey towards Devonshire without further
adventure, until they alighted at an inn in the town of
Marlborough, since celebrated for having given title to the
greatest general (excepting one) whom Britain ever produced.
Here the travellers received, in the same breath, an example of
the truth of two old proverbs--namely, that ILL NEWS FLY FAST,
and that LISTENERS SELDOM HEAR A GOOD TALE OF THEMSELVES.
The inn-yard was in a sort of combustion when they alighted;
insomuch, that they could scarce get man or boy to take care of
their horses, so full were the whole household of some news which
flew from tongue to tongue, the import of which they were for
some time unable to discover. At length, indeed, they found it
respected matters which touched them nearly.
"What is the matter, say you, master?" answered, at length, the
head hostler, in reply to Tressilian's repeated questions.--"Why,
truly, I scarce know myself. But here was a rider but now, who
says that the devil hath flown away with him they called Wayland
Smith, that won'd about three miles from the Whitehorse of
Berkshire, this very blessed morning, in a flash of fire and a
pillar of smoke, and rooted up the place he dwelt in, near that
old cockpit of upright stones, as cleanly as if it had all been
delved up for a cropping."
"Why, then," said an old farmer, "the more is the pity; for that
Wayland Smith (whether he was the devil's crony or no I skill
not) had a good notion of horses' diseases, and it's to be
thought the bots will spread in the country far and near, an
Satan has not gien un time to leave his secret behind un."
"You may say that, Gaffer Grimesby," said the hostler in return;
"I have carried a horse to Wayland Smith myself, for he passed
all farriers in this country."
"Did you see him?" said Dame Alison Crane, mistress of the inn
bearing that sign, and deigning to term HUSBAND the owner
thereof, a mean-looking hop-o'-my-thumb sort or person, whose
halting gait, and long neck, and meddling, henpecked
insignificance are supposed to have given origin to the
celebrated old English tune of "My name hath a lame tame Crane."
On this occasion he chirped out a repetition of his wife's
question, "Didst see the devil, Jack Hostler, I say?"
"And what if I did see un, Master Crane?" replied Jack Hostler,
for, like all the rest of the household, he paid as little
respect to his master as his mistress herself did.
"Nay, nought, Jack Hostler," replied the pacific Master Crane;
"only if you saw the devil, methinks I would like to know what
"You will know that one day, Master Crane," said his helpmate,
"an ye mend not your manners, and mind your business, leaving off
such idle palabras.--But truly, Jack Hostler, I should be glad to
know myself what like the fellow was."
"Why, dame," said the hostler, more respectfully, "as for what he
was like I cannot tell, nor no man else, for why I never saw un."
"And how didst thou get thine errand done," said Gaffer Grimesby,
"if thou seedst him not?"
"Why, I had schoolmaster to write down ailment o' nag," said Jack
Hostler; "and I went wi' the ugliest slip of a boy for my guide
as ever man cut out o' lime-tree root to please a child withal."
"And what was it?--and did it cure your nag, Jack Hostler?" was
uttered and echoed by all who stood around.
"Why, how can I tell you what it was?" said the hostler; "simply
it smelled and tasted--for I did make bold to put a pea's
substance into my mouth--like hartshorn and savin mixed with
vinegar; but then no hartshorn and savin ever wrought so speedy a
cure. And I am dreading that if Wayland Smith be gone, the bots
will have more power over horse and cattle."
The pride of art, which is certainly not inferior in its
influence to any other pride whatever, here so far operated on
Wayland Smith, that, notwithstanding the obvious danger of his
being recognized, he could not help winking to Tressilian, and
smiling mysteriously, as if triumphing in the undoubted evidence
of his veterinary skill. In the meanwhile, the discourse
"E'en let it be so," said a grave man in black, the companion of
Gaffer Grimesby; "e'en let us perish under the evil God sends us,
rather than the devil be our doctor."
"Very true," said Dame Crane; "and I marvel at Jack Hostler that
he would peril his own soul to cure the bowels of a nag."
"Very true, mistress," said Jack Hostler, "but the nag was my
master's; and had it been yours, I think ye would ha' held me
cheap enow an I had feared the devil when the poor beast was in
such a taking. For the rest, let the clergy look to it. Every
man to his craft, says the proverb--the parson to the prayer-
book, and the groom to his curry-comb.
"I vow," said Dame Crane, "I think Jack Hostler speaks like a
good Christian and a faithful servant, who will spare neither
body nor soul in his master's service. However, the devil has
lifted him in time, for a Constable of the Hundred came hither
this morning to get old Gaffer Pinniewinks, the trier of witches,
to go with him to the Vale of Whitehorse to comprehend Wayland
Smith, and put him to his probation. I helped Pinniewinks to
sharpen his pincers and his poking-awl, and I saw the warrant
from Justice Blindas."
"Pooh--pooh--the devil would laugh both at Blindas and his
warrant, constable and witch-finder to boot," said old Dame
Crank, the Papist laundress; "Wayland Smith's flesh would mind
Pinniewinks' awl no more than a cambric ruff minds a hot
piccadilloe-needle. But tell me, gentlefolks, if the devil ever
had such a hand among ye, as to snatch away your smiths and your
artists from under your nose, when the good Abbots of Abingdon
had their own? By Our Lady, no!--they had their hallowed tapers;
and their holy water, and their relics, and what not, could send
the foulest fiends a-packing. Go ask a heretic parson to do the
like. But ours were a comfortable people."
"Very true, Dame Crank," said the hostler; "so said Simpkins of
Simonburn when the curate kissed his wife,--'They are a
comfortable people,' said he."
"Silence, thou foul-mouthed vermin," said Dame Crank; "is it fit
for a heretic horse-boy like thee to handle such a text as the
"In troth no, dame," replied the man of oats; "and as you
yourself are now no text for their handling, dame, whatever may
have been the case in your day, I think we had e'en better leave
At this last exchange of sarcasm, Dame Crank set up her throat,
and began a horrible exclamation against Jack Hostler, under
cover of which Tressilian and his attendant escaped into the
They had no sooner entered a private chamber, to which Goodman
Crane himself had condescended to usher them, and dispatched
their worthy and obsequious host on the errand of procuring wine
and refreshment, than Wayland Smith began to give vent to his
"You see, sir," said he, addressing Tressilian, "that I nothing
fabled in asserting that I possessed fully the mighty mystery of
a farrier, or mareschal, as the French more honourably term us.
These dog-hostlers, who, after all, are the better judges in such
a case, know what credit they should attach to my medicaments. I
call you to witness, worshipful Master Tressilian, that nought,
save the voice of calumny and the hand of malicious violence,
hath driven me forth from a station in which I held a place alike
useful and honoured."
"I bear witness, my friend, but will reserve my listening,"
answered Tressilian, "for a safer time; unless, indeed, you deem
it essential to your reputation to be translated, like your late
dwelling, by the assistance of a flash of fire. For you see your
best friends reckon you no better than a mere sorcerer."
"Now, Heaven forgive them," said the artist, "who confounded
learned skill with unlawful magic! I trust a man may be as
skilful, or more so, than the best chirurgeon ever meddled with
horse-flesh, and yet may be upon the matter little more than
other ordinary men, or at the worst no conjurer."
"God forbid else!" said Tressilian. "But be silent just for the
present, since here comes mine host with an assistant, who seems
something of the least."
Everybody about the inn, Dame Crane herself included, had been
indeed so interested and agitated by the story they had heard of
Wayland Smith, and by the new, varying, and more marvellous
editions of the incident which arrived from various quarters,
that mine host, in his righteous determination to accommodate his
guests, had been able to obtain the assistance of none of his
household, saving that of a little boy, a junior tapster, of
about twelve years old, who was called Sampson.
"I wish," he said, apologizing to his guests, as he set down a
flagon of sack, and promised some food immediately--"I wish the
devil had flown away with my wife and my whole family instead of
this Wayland Smith, who, I daresay, after all said and done, was
much less worthy of the distinction which Satan has done him."
"I hold opinion with you, good fellow," replied Wayland Smith;
"and I will drink to you upon that argument."
"Not that I would justify any man who deals with the devil," said
mine host, after having pledged Wayland in a rousing draught of
sack, "but that--saw ye ever better sack, my masters?--but that,
I say, a man had better deal with a dozen cheats and scoundrel
fellows, such as this Wayland Smith, than with a devil incarnate,
that takes possession of house and home, bed and board."
The poor fellow's detail of grievances was here interrupted by
the shrill voice of his helpmate, screaming from the kitchen, to
which he instantly hobbled, craving pardon of his guests. He was
no sooner gone than Wayland Smith expressed, by every
contemptuous epithet in the language, his utter scorn for a
nincompoop who stuck his head under his wife's apron-string; and
intimated that, saving for the sake of the horses, which required
both rest and food, he would advise his worshipful Master
Tressilian to push on a stage farther, rather than pay a
reckoning to such a mean-spirited, crow-trodden, henpecked
coxcomb, as Gaffer Crane.
The arrival of a large dish of good cow-heel and bacon something
soothed the asperity of the artist, which wholly vanished before
a choice capon, so delicately roasted that the lard frothed on
it, said Wayland, like May-dew on a lily; and both Gaffer Crane
and his good dame became, in his eyes, very painstaking,
accommodating, obliging persons.
According to the manners of the times, the master and his
attendant sat at the same table, and the latter observed, with
regret, how little attention Tressilian paid to his meal. He
recollected, indeed, the pain he had given by mentioning the
maiden in whose company he had first seen him; but, fearful of
touching upon a topic too tender to be tampered with, he chose to
ascribe his abstinence to another cause.
"This fare is perhaps too coarse for your worship," said Wayland,
as the limbs of the capon disappeared before his own exertions;
"but had you dwelt as long as I have done in yonder dungeon,
which Flibbertigibbet has translated to the upper element, a
place where I dared hardly broil my food, lest the smoke should
be seen without, you would think a fair capon a more welcome
"If you are pleased, friend," said Tressilian, "it is well.
Nevertheless, hasten thy meal if thou canst, For this place is
unfriendly to thy safety, and my concerns crave travelling."
Allowing, therefore, their horses no more rest than was
absolutely necessary for them, they pursued their journey by a
forced march as far as Bradford, where they reposed themselves
for the night.
The next morning found them early travellers. And, not to
fatigue the reader with unnecessary particulars, they traversed
without adventure the counties of Wiltshire and Somerset, and
about noon of the third day after Tressilian's leaving Cumnor,
arrived at Sir Hugh Robsart's seat, called Lidcote Hall, on the
frontiers of Devonshire.
Ah me! the flower and blossom of your house,
The wind hath blown away to other towers.
JOANNA BAILLIE'S FAMILY LEGEND.
The ancient seat of Lidcote Hall was situated near the village of
the same name, and adjoined the wild and extensive forest of
Exmoor, plentifully stocked with game, in which some ancient
rights belonging to the Robsart family entitled Sir Hugh to
pursue his favourite amusement of the chase. The old mansion was
a low, venerable building, occupying a considerable space of
ground, which was surrounded by a deep moat. The approach and
drawbridge were defended by an octagonal tower, of ancient
brickwork, but so clothed with ivy and other creepers that it was
difficult to discover of what materials it was constructed. The
angles of this tower were each decorated with a turret,
whimsically various in form and in size, and, therefore, very
unlike the monotonous stone pepperboxes which, in modern Gothic
architecture, are employed for the same purpose. One of these
turrets was square, and occupied as a clock-house. But the clock
was now standing still; a circumstance peculiarly striking to
Tressilian, because the good old knight, among other harmless
peculiarities, had a fidgety anxiety about the exact measurement
of time, very common to those who have a great deal of that
commodity to dispose of, and find it lie heavy upon their hands--
just as we see shopkeepers amuse themselves with taking an exact
account of their stock at the time there is least demand for it.
The entrance to the courtyard of the old mansion lay through an
archway, surmounted by the foresaid tower; but the drawbridge was
down, and one leaf of the iron-studded folding-doors stood
carelessly open. Tressilian hastily rode over the drawbridge,
entered the court, and began to call loudly on the domestics by
their names. For some time he was only answered by the echoes
and the howling of the hounds, whose kennel lay at no great
distance from the mansion, and was surrounded by the same moat.
At length Will Badger, the old and favourite attendant of the
knight, who acted alike as squire of his body and superintendent
of his sports, made his appearance. The stout, weather-beaten
forester showed great signs of joy when he recognized Tressilian.
"Lord love you," he said, "Master Edmund, be it thou in flesh and
fell? Then thou mayest do some good on Sir Hugh, for it passes
the wit of man--that is, of mine own, and the curate's, and
Master Mumblazen's--to do aught wi'un."
"Is Sir Hugh then worse since I went away, Will?" demanded
"For worse in body--no; he is much better," replied the domestic;
"but he is clean mazed as it were--eats and drinks as he was
wont--but sleeps not, or rather wakes not, for he is ever in a
sort of twilight, that is neither sleeping nor waking. Dame
Swineford thought it was like the dead palsy. But no, no, dame,
said I, it is the heart, it is the heart."
"Can ye not stir his mind to any pastimes?" said Tressilian.
"He is clean and quite off his sports," said Will Badger; "hath
neither touched backgammon or shovel-board, nor looked on the big
book of harrowtry wi' Master Mumblazen. I let the clock run
down, thinking the missing the bell might somewhat move him--for
you know, Master Edmund, he was particular in counting time--but
he never said a word on't, so I may e'en set the old chime a-
towling again. I made bold to tread on Bungay's tail too, and
you know what a round rating that would ha' cost me once a-day;
but he minded the poor tyke's whine no more than a madge howlet
whooping down the chimney--so the case is beyond me."
"Thou shalt tell me the rest within doors, Will. Meanwhile, let
this person be ta'en to the buttery, and used with respect. He
is a man of art."
"White art or black art, I would," said Will Badger, "that he had
any art which could help us.--Here, Tom Butler, look to the man
of art;--and see that he steals none of thy spoons, lad," he
added in a whisper to the butler, who showed himself at a low
window, "I have known as honest a faced fellow have art enough to
He then ushered Tressilian into a low parlour, and went, at his
desire, to see in what state his master was, lest the sudden
return of his darling pupil and proposed son-in-law should affect
him too strongly. He returned immediately, and said that Sir
Hugh was dozing in his elbow-chair, but that Master Mumblazen
would acquaint Master Tressilian the instant he awaked.
"But it is chance if he knows you," said the huntsman, "for he
has forgotten the name of every hound in the pack. I thought,
about a week since, he had gotten a favourable turn. 'Saddle me
old Sorrel,' said he suddenly, after he had taken his usual
night-draught out of the great silver grace-cup, 'and take the
hounds to Mount Hazelhurst to-morrow.' Glad men were we all, and
out we had him in the morning, and he rode to cover as usual,
with never a word spoken but that the wind was south, and the
scent would lie. But ere we had uncoupled'the hounds, he began
to stare round him, like a man that wakes suddenly out of a
dream--turns bridle, and walks back to Hall again, and leaves us
to hunt at leisure by ourselves, if we listed."
"You tell a heavy tale, Will," replied Tressilian; "but God must
help us--there is no aid in man."
"Then you bring us no news of young Mistress Amy? But what need
I ask--your brow tells the story. Ever I hoped that if any man
could or would track her, it must be you. All's over and lost
now. But if ever I have that Varney within reach of a flight-
shot, I will bestow a forked shaft on him; and that I swear by
salt and bread."
As he spoke, the door opened, and Master Mumblazen appeared--a
withered, thin, elderly gentleman, with a cheek like a winter
apple, and his grey hair partly concealed by a small, high hat,
shaped like a cone, or rather like such a strawberry-basket as
London fruiterers exhibit at their windows. He was too
sententious a person to waste words on mere salutation; so,
having welcomed Tressilian with a nod and a shake of the hand, he
beckoned him to follow to Sir Hugh's great chamber, which the
good knight usually inhabited. Will Badger followed, unasked,
anxious to see whether his master would be relieved from his
state of apathy by the arrival of Tressilian.
In a long, low parlour, amply furnished with implements of the
chase, and with silvan trophies, by a massive stone chimney, over
which hung a sword and suit of armour somewhat obscured by
neglect, sat Sir Hugh Robsart of Lidcote, a man of large size,
which had been only kept within moderate compass by the constant
use of violent exercise, It seemed to Tressilian that the
lethargy, under which his old friend appeared to labour, had,
even during his few weeks' absence, added bulk to his person--at
least it had obviously diminished the vivacity of his eye, which,
as they entered, first followed Master Mumblazen slowly to a
large oaken desk, on which a ponderous volume lay open, and then
rested, as if in uncertainty, on the stranger who had entered
along with him. The curate, a grey-headed clergyman, who had
been a confessor in the days of Queen Mary, sat with a book in
his hand in another recess in the apartment. He, too, signed a
mournful greeting to Tressilian, and laid his book aside, to
watch the effect his appearance should produce on the afflicted
As Tressilian, his own eyes filling fast with tears, approached
more and more nearly to the father of his betrothed bride, Sir
Hugh's intelligence seemed to revive. He sighed heavily, as one
who awakens from a state of stupor; a slight convulsion passed
over his features; he opened his arms without speaking a word,
and, as Tressilian threw himself into them, he folded him to his
"There is something left to live for yet," were the first words
he uttered; and while he spoke, he gave vent to his feelings in a
paroxysm of weeping, the tears chasing each other down his
sunburnt cheeks and long white beard.
"I ne'er thought to have thanked God to see my master weep," said
Will Badger; "but now I do, though I am like to weep for
"I will ask thee no questions," said the old knight; "no
questions--none, Edmund. Thou hast not found her--or so found
her, that she were better lost."
Tressilian was unable to reply otherwise than by putting his
hands before his face.
"It is enough--it is enough. But do not thou weep for her,
Edmund. I have cause to weep, for she was my daughter; thou hast
cause to rejoice, that she did not become thy wife.--Great God!
thou knowest best what is good for us. It was my nightly prayer
that I should see Amy and Edmund wedded,--had it been granted, it
had now been gall added to bitterness."
"Be comforted, my friend," said the curate, addressing Sir Hugh,
"it cannot be that the daughter of all our hopes and affections
is the vile creature you would bespeak her."
"Oh, no," replied Sir Hugh impatiently, "I were wrong to name
broadly the base thing she is become--there is some new court
name for it, I warrant me. It is honour enough for the daughter
of an old Devonshire clown to be the leman of a gay courtier--of
Varney too--of Varney, whose grandsire was relieved by my father,
when his fortune was broken, at the battle of--the battle of--
where Richard was slain--out on my memory!--and I warrant none
of you will help me--"
"The battle of Bosworth," said Master Mumblazen--"stricken
between Richard Crookback and Henry Tudor, grandsire of the Queen
that now is, PRIMO HENRICI SEPTIMI; and in the year one thousand
four hundred and eighty-five, POST CHRISTUM NATUM."
"Ay, even so," said the old knight; "every child knows it. But
my poor head forgets all it should remember, and remembers only
what it would most willingly forget. My brain has been at fault,
Tressilian, almost ever since thou hast been away, and even yet
it hunts counter."
"Your worship," said the good clergyman, "had better retire to
your apartment, and try to sleep for a little space. The
physician left a composing draught; and our Great Physician has
commanded us to use earthly means, that we may be strengthened to
sustain the trials He sends us."
"True, true, old friend," said Sir Hugh; "and we will bear our
trials manfully--we have lost but a woman.--See, Tressilian,"--he
drew from his bosom a long ringlet of glossy hair,--"see this
lock! I tell thee, Edmund, the very night she disappeared, when
she bid me good even, as she was wont, she hung about my neck,
and fondled me more than usual; and I, like an old fool, held her
by this lock, until she took her scissors, severed it, and left
it in my hand--as all I was ever to see more of her!"
Tressilian was unable to reply, well judging what a complication
of feelings must have crossed the bosom of the unhappy fugitive
at that cruel moment. The clergyman was about to speak, but Sir
Hugh interrupted him.
"I know what you would say, Master Curate,--After all, it is but
a lock of woman's tresses; and by woman, shame, and sin, and
death came into an innocent world.--And learned Master Mumblazen,
too, can say scholarly things of their inferiority."
"C'EST L'HOMME," said Master Mumblazen, "QUI SE BAST, ET QUI
"True," said Sir Hugh, "and we will bear us, therefore, like men
who have both mettle and wisdom in us.--Tressilian, thou art as
welcome as if thou hadst brought better news. But we have spoken
too long dry-lipped.--Amy, fill a cup of wine to Edmund, and
another to me." Then instantly recollecting that he called upon
her who could not hear, he shook his head, and said to the
clergyman, "This grief is to my bewildered mind what the church
of Lidcote is to our park: we may lose ourselves among the briers
and thickets for a little space, but from the end of each avenue
we see the old grey steeple and the grave of my forefathers. I
would I were to travel that road tomorrow!"
Tressilian and the curate joined in urging the exhausted old man
to lay himself to rest, and at length prevailed. Tressilian
remained by his pillow till he saw that slumber at length sunk
down on him, and then returned to consult with the curate what
steps should be adopted in these unhappy circumstances.
They could not exclude from these deliberations Master Michael
Mumblazen; and they admitted him the more readily, that besides
what hopes they entertained from his sagacity, they knew him to
be so great a friend to taciturnity, that there was no doubt of
his keeping counsel. He was an old bachelor, of good family, but
small fortune, and distantly related to the House of Robsart; in
virtue of which connection, Lidcote Hall had been honoured with
his residence for the last twenty years. His company was
agreeable to Sir Hugh, chiefly on account of his profound
learning, which, though it only related to heraldry and
genealogy, with such scraps of history as connected themselves
with these subjects, was precisely of a kind to captivate the
good old knight; besides the convenience which he found in having
a friend to appeal to when his own memory, as frequently
happened, proved infirm and played him false concerning names and
dates, which, and all similar deficiencies, Master Michael
Mumblazen supplied with due brevity and discretion. And, indeed,
in matters concerning the modern world, he often gave, in his
enigmatical and heraldic phrase, advice which was well worth
attending to, or, in Will Badger's language, started the game
while others beat the bush.
"We have had an unhappy time of it with the good knight, Master
Edmund," said the curate. "I have not suffered so much since I
was torn away from my beloved flock, and compelled to abandon
them to the Romish wolves."
"That was in TERTIO MARIAE," said Master Mumblazen.
"In the name of Heaven," continued the curate, "tell us, has your
time been better spent than ours, or have you any news of that
unhappy maiden, who, being for so many years the principal joy of
this broken-down house, is now proved our greatest unhappiness?
Have you not at least discovered her place of residence?"
"I have," replied Tressilian. "Know you Cumnor Place, near
"Surely," said the clergyman; "it was a house of removal for the
monks of Abingdon."
"Whose arms," said Master Michael, "I have seen over a stone
chimney in the hall,--a cross patonce betwixt four martlets."
"There," said Tressilian, "this unhappy maiden resides, in
company with the villain Varney. But for a strange mishap, my
sword had revenged all our injuries, as well as hers, on his
"Thank God, that kept thine hand from blood-guiltiness, rash
young man!" answered the curate. "Vengeance is mine, saith the
Lord, and I will repay it. It were better study to free her from
the villain's nets of infamy."
"They are called, in heraldry, LAQUEI AMORIS, or LACS D'AMOUR,"
"It is in that I require your aid, my friends," said Tressilian.
"I am resolved to accuse this villain, at the very foot of the
throne, of falsehood, seduction, and breach of hospitable laws.
The Queen shall hear me, though the Earl of Leicester, the
villain's patron, stood at her right hand."
"Her Grace," said the curate, "hath set a comely example of
continence to her subjects, and will doubtless do justice on this
inhospitable robber. But wert thou not better apply to the Earl
of Leicester, in the first place, for justice on his servant? If
he grants it, thou dost save the risk of making thyself a
powerful adversary, which will certainly chance if, in the first
instance, you accuse his master of the horse and prime favourite
before the Queen."
"My mind revolts from your counsel," said Tressilian. "I cannot
brook to plead my noble patron's cause the unhappy Amy's cause--
before any one save my lawful Sovereign. Leicester, thou wilt
say, is noble. Be it so; he is but a subject like ourselves, and
I will not carry my plaint to him, if I can do better. Still, I
will think on what thou hast said; but I must have your
assistance to persuade the good Sir Hugh to make me his
commissioner and fiduciary in this matter, for it is in his name
I must speak, and not in my own. Since she is so far changed as
to dote upon this empty profligate courtier, he shall at least do
her the justice which is yet in his power."
"Better she died CAELEBS and SINE PROLE," said Mumblazen, with
more animation than he usually expressed, "than part, PER PALE,
the noble coat of Robsart with that of such a miscreant!"
"If it be your object, as I cannot question," said the clergyman,
"to save, as much as is yet possible, the credit of this unhappy
young woman, I repeat, you should apply, in the first instance,
to the Earl of Leicester. He is as absolute in his household as
the Queen in her kingdom, and if he expresses to Varney that such
is his pleasure, her honour will not stand so publicly
"You are right, you are right!" said Tressilian eagerly, "and I
thank you for pointing out what I overlooked in my haste. I
little thought ever to have besought grace of Leicester; but I
could kneel to the proud Dudley, if doing so could remove one
shade of shame from this unhappy damsel. You will assist me then
to procure the necessary powers from Sir Hugh Robsart?"
The curate assured him of his assistance, and the herald nodded
"You must hold yourselves also in readiness to testify, in case
you are called upon, the openhearted hospitality which our good
patron exercised towards this deceitful traitor, and the
solicitude with which he laboured to seduce his unhappy
"At first," said the clergyman, "she did not, as it seemed to me,
much affect his company; but latterly I saw them often together."
"SEIANT in the parlour," said Michael Mumblazen, "and PASSANT in
"I once came on them by chance," said the priest, "in the South
wood, in a spring evening. Varney was muffled in a russet cloak,
so that I saw not his face. They separated hastily, as they
heard me rustle amongst the leaves; and I observed she turned her
head and looked long after him."
"With neck REGUARDANT," said the herald. "And on the day of her
flight, and that was on Saint Austen's Eve, I saw Varney's groom,
attired in his liveries, hold his master's horse and Mistress
Amy's palfrey, bridled and saddled PROPER, behind the wall of the
"And now is she found mewed up in his secret place of
retirement," said Tressilian. "The villain is taken in the
manner, and I well wish he may deny his crime, that I may thrust
conviction down his false throat! But I must prepare for my
journey. Do you, gentlemen, dispose my patron to grant me such
powers as are needful to act in his name."
So saying, Tressilian left the room.
"He is too hot," said the curate; "and I pray to God that He may
grant him the patience to deal with Varney as is fitting."
"Patience and Varney," said Mumblazen, "is worse heraldry than
metal upon metal. He is more false than a siren, more rapacious
than a griffin, more poisonous than a wyvern, and more cruel than
a lion rampant."
"Yet I doubt much," said the curate, "whether we can with
propriety ask from Sir Hugh Robsart, being in his present
condition, any deed deputing his paternal right in Mistress Amy
"Your reverence need not doubt that," said Will Badger, who
entered as he spoke, "for I will lay my life he is another man
when he wakes than he has been these thirty days past."
"Ay, Will," said the curate, "hast thou then so much confidence
in Doctor Diddleum's draught?"
"Not a whit," said Will, "because master ne'er tasted a drop
on't, seeing it was emptied out by the housemaid. But here's a
gentleman, who came attending on Master Tressilian, has given Sir
Hugh a draught that is worth twenty of yon un. I have spoken
cunningly with him, and a better farrier or one who hath a more
just notion of horse and dog ailment I have never seen; and such
a one would never be unjust to a Christian man."
"A farrier! you saucy groom--and by whose authority, pray?"
said the curate, rising in surprise and indignation; "or who will
be warrant for this new physician?"
"For authority, an it like your reverence, he had mine; and for
warrant, I trust I have not been five-and-twenty years in this
house without having right to warrant the giving of a draught to
beast or body--I who can gie a drench, and a ball, and bleed, or
blister, if need, to my very self."
The counsellors of the house of Robsart thought it meet to carry
this information instantly to Tressilian, who as speedily
summoned before him Wayland Smith, and demanded of him (in
private, however) by what authority he had ventured to administer
any medicine to Sir Hugh Robsart?
"Why," replied the artist, "your worship cannot but remember that
I told you I had made more progress into my master's--I mean the
learned Doctor Doboobie's--mystery than he was willing to own;
and indeed half of his quarrel and malice against me was that,
besides that I got something too deep into his secrets, several
discerning persons, and particularly a buxom young widow of
Abingdon, preferred my prescriptions to his."
"None of thy buffoonery, sir," said Tressilian sternly. "If thou
hast trifled with us--much more, if thou hast done aught that may
prejudice Sir Hugh Robsart's health, thou shalt find thy grave at
the bottom of a tin-mine."
"I know too little of the great ARCANUM to convert the ore to
gold," said Wayland firmly. "But truce to your apprehensions,
Master Tressilian. I understood the good knight's case from what
Master William Badger told me; and I hope I am able enough to
administer a poor dose of mandragora, which, with the sleep that
must needs follow, is all that Sir Hugh Robsart requires to
settle his distraught brains."
"I trust thou dealest fairly with me, Wayland?" said Tressilian.
"Most fairly and honestly, as the event shall show," replied the
artist. "What would it avail me to harm the poor old man for
whom you are interested?--you, to whom I owe it that Gaffer
Pinniewinks is not even now rending my flesh and sinews with his
accursed pincers, and probing every mole in my body with his
sharpened awl (a murrain on the hands which forged it!) in order
to find out the witch's mark?--I trust to yoke myself as a humble
follower to your worship's train, and I only wish to have my
faith judged of by the result of the good knight's slumbers."
Wayland Smith was right in his prognostication. The sedative
draught which his skill had prepared, and Will Badger's
confidence had administered, was attended with the most
beneficial effects. The patient's sleep was long and healthful,
and the poor old knight awoke, humbled indeed in thought and weak
in frame, yet a much better judge of whatever was subjected to
his intellect than he had been for some time past. He resisted
for a while the proposal made by his friends that Tressilian
should undertake a journey to court, to attempt the recovery of
his daughter, and the redress of her wrongs, in so far as they
might yet be repaired. "Let her go," he said; "she is but a hawk
that goes down the wind; I would not bestow even a whistle to
reclaim her." But though he for some time maintained this
argument, he was at length convinced it was his duty to take the
part to which natural affection inclined him, and consent that
such efforts as could yet be made should be used by Tressilian in
behalf of his daughter. He subscribed, therefore, a warrant of
attorney, such as the curate's skill enabled him to draw up; for
in those simple days the clergy were often the advisers of their
flock in law as well as in gospel.
All matters were prepared for Tressilian's second departure,
within twenty-four hours after he had returned to Lidcote Hall;
but one material circumstance had been forgotten, which was first
called to the remembrance of Tressilian by Master Mumblazen.
"You are going to court, Master Tressilian," said he; "you will
please remember that your blazonry must be ARGENT and OR--no
other tinctures will pass current." The remark was equally just
and embarrassing. To prosecute a suit at court, ready money was
as indispensable even in the golden days of Elizabeth as at any
succeeding period; and it was a commodity little at the command
of the inhabitants of Lidcote Hall. Tressilian was himself poor;
the revenues of good Sir Hugh Robsart were consumed, and even
anticipated, in his hospitable mode of living; and it was finally
necessary that the herald who started the doubt should himself
solve it. Master Michael Mumblazen did so by producing a bag of
money, containing nearly three hundred pounds in gold and silver
of various coinage, the savings of twenty years, which he now,
without speaking a syllable upon the subject, dedicated to the
service of the patron whose shelter and protection had given him
the means of making this little hoard. Tressilian accepted it
without affecting a moment's hesitation, and a mutual grasp of
the hand was all that passed betwixt them, to express the
pleasure which the one felt in dedicating his all to such a
purpose, and that which the other received from finding so
material an obstacle to the success of his journey so suddenly
removed, and in a manner so unexpected.
While Tressilian was making preparations for his departure early
the ensuing morning, Wayland Smith desired to speak with him,
and, expressing his hope that he had been pleased with the
operation of his medicine in behalf of Sir Hugh Robsart, added
his desire to accompany him to court. This was indeed what
Tressilian himself had several times thought of; for the
shrewdness, alertness of understanding, and variety of resource
which this fellow had exhibited during the time they had
travelled together, had made him sensible that his assistance
might be of importance. But then Wayland was in danger from the
grasp of law; and of this Tressilian reminded him, mentioning
something, at the same time, of the pincers of Pinniewinks and
the warrant of Master Justice Blindas. Wayland Smith laughed
both to scorn.
"See you, sir!" said he, "I have changed my garb from that of a
farrier to a serving-man; but were it still as it was, look at my
moustaches. They now hang down; I will but turn them up, and dye
them with a tincture that I know of, and the devil would scarce
know me again."
He accompanied these words with the appropriate action, and in
less than a minute, by setting up, his moustaches and his hair,
he seemed a different person from him that had but now entered
the room. Still, however, Tressilian hesitated to accept his
services, and the artist became proportionably urgent.
"I owe you life and limb," he said, "and I would fain pay a part
of the debt, especially as I know from Will Badger on what
dangerous service your worship is bound. I do not, indeed,
pretend to be what is called a man of mettle, one of those
ruffling tear-cats who maintain their master's quarrel with sword
and buckler. Nay, I am even one of those who hold the end of a
feast better than the beginning of a fray. But I know that I can
serve your worship better, in such quest as yours, than any of
these sword-and-dagger men, and that my head will be worth an
hundred of their hands."
Tressilian still hesitated. He knew not much of this strange
fellow, and was doubtful how far he could repose in him the
confidence necessary to render him a useful attendant upon the
present emergency. Ere he had come to a determination, the
trampling of a horse was heard in the courtyard, and Master
Mumblazen and Will Badger both entered hastily into Tressilian's
chamber, speaking almost at the same moment.
"Here is a serving-man on the bonniest grey tit I ever see'd in
my life," said Will Badger, who got the start--"having on his
arm a silver cognizance, being a fire-drake holding in his mouth
a brickbat, under a coronet of an Earl's degree," said Master
Mumblazen, "and bearing a letter sealed of the same."
Tressilian took the letter, which was addressed "To the
worshipful Master Edmund Tressilian, our loving kinsman--These--
ride, ride, ride--for thy life, for thy life, for thy life. "He
then opened it, and found the following contents:--
"MASTER TRESSILIAN, OUR GOOD FRIEND AND COUSIN,
"We are at present so ill at ease, and otherwise so unhappily
circumstanced, that we are desirous to have around us those of
our friends on whose loving-kindness we can most especially
repose confidence; amongst whom we hold our good Master
Tressilian one of the foremost and nearest, both in good will and
good ability. We therefore pray you, with your most convenient
speed, to repair to our poor lodging, at Sayes Court, near
Deptford, where we will treat further with you of matters which
we deem it not fit to commit unto writing. And so we bid you
heartily farewell, being your loving kinsman to command,
"RATCLIFFE, EARL OF SUSSEX."
"Send up the messenger instantly, Will Badger," said Tressilian;
and as the man entered the room, he exclaimed, "Ah, Stevens, is
it you? how does my good lord?"
"Ill, Master Tressilian," was the messenger's reply, "and having
therefore the more need of good friends around him."
"But what is my lord's malady?" said Tressilian anxiously; I
heard nothing of his being ill."
"I know not, sir," replied the man; "he is very ill at ease. The
leeches are at a stand, and many of his household suspect foul
practice-witchcraft, or worse."
"What are the symptoms?" said Wayland Smith, stepping forward
"Anan?" said the messenger, not comprehending his meaning.
"What does he ail?" said Wayland; "where lies his disease?"
The man looked at Tressilian, as if to know whether he should
answer these inquiries from a stranger, and receiving a sign in
the affirmative, he hastily enumerated gradual loss of strength,
nocturnal perspiration, and loss of appetite, faintness, etc.
"Joined," said Wayland, "to a gnawing pain in the stomach, and a
"Even so," said the messenger, somewhat surprised.
"I know how the disease is caused," said the artist, "and I know
the cause. Your master has eaten of the manna of Saint Nicholas.
I know the cure too--my master shall not say I studied in his
laboratory for nothing."
"How mean you?" said Tressilian, frowning; "we speak of one of
the first nobles of England. Bethink you, this is no subject for
"God forbid!" said Wayland Smith. "I say that I know this
disease, and can cure him. Remember what I did for Sir Hugh
"We will set forth instantly," said Tressilian. "God calls us."
Accordingly, hastily mentioning this new motive for his instant
departure, though without alluding to either the suspicions of
Stevens, or the assurances of Wayland Smith, he took the kindest
leave of Sir Hugh and the family at Lidcote Hall, who accompanied
him with prayers and blessings, and, attended by Wayland and the
Earl of Sussex's domestic, travelled with the utmost speed
Ay, I know you have arsenic,
Vitriol, sal-tartre, argaile, alkaly,
Cinoper: I know all.--This fellow, Captain,
Will come in time to be a great distiller,
And give a say (I will not say directly,
But very near) at the philosopher's stone. THE ALCHEMIST.
Tressilian and his attendants pressed their route with all
dispatch. He had asked the smith, indeed, when their departure
was resolved on, whether he would not rather choose to avoid
Berkshire, in which he had played a part so conspicuous? But
Wayland returned a confident answer. He had employed the short
interval they passed at Lidcote Hall in transforming himself in a
wonderful manner. His wild and overgrown thicket of beard was
now restrained to two small moustaches on the upper lip, turned
up in a military fashion. A tailor from the village of Lidcote
(well paid) had exerted his skill, under his customer's
directions, so as completely to alter Wayland's outward man, and
take off from his appearance almost twenty years of age.
Formerly, besmeared with soot and charcoal, overgrown with hair,
and bent double with the nature of his labour, disfigured too by
his odd and fantastic dress, he seemed a man of fifty years old.
But now, in a handsome suit of Tressilian's livery, with a sword
by his side and a buckler on his shoulder, he looked like a gay
ruffling serving-man, whose age might be betwixt thirty and
thirty-five, the very prime of human life. His loutish, savage-
looking demeanour seemed equally changed, into a forward, sharp,
and impudent alertness of look and action.
When challenged by Tressilian, who desired to know the cause of a
metamorphosis so singular and so absolute, Wayland only answered
by singing a stave from a comedy, which was then new, and was
supposed, among the more favourable judges, to augur some genius
on the part of the author. We are happy to preserve the couplet,
which ran exactly thus,--
"Ban, ban, ca Caliban--
Get a new master--Be a new man."
Although Tressilian did not recollect the verses, yet they
reminded him that Wayland had once been a stage player, a
circumstance which, of itself, accounted indifferently well for
the readiness with which he could assume so total a change of
personal appearance. The artist himself was so confident of his
disguise being completely changed, or of his having completely
changed his disguise, which may be the more correct mode of
speaking, that he regretted they were not to pass near his old
place of retreat.
"I could venture," he said, "in my present dress, and with your
worship's backing, to face Master Justice Blindas, even on a day
of Quarter Sessions; and I would like to know what is become of
Hobgoblin, who is like to play the devil in the world, if he can
once slip the string, and leave his granny and his dominie.--Ay,
and the scathed vault!" he said; "I would willingly have seen
what havoc the explosion of so much gunpowder has made among
Doctor Demetrius Doboobie's retorts and phials. I warrant me, my
fame haunts the Vale of the Whitehorse long after my body is
rotten; and that many a lout ties up his horse, lays down his
silver groat, and pipes like a sailor whistling in a calm for
Wayland Smith to come and shoe his tit for him. But the horse
will catch the founders ere the smith answers the call."
In this particular, indeed, Wayland proved a true prophet; and so
easily do fables rise, that an obscure tradition of his
extraordinary practice in farriery prevails in the Vale of
Whitehorse even unto this day; and neither the tradition of
Alfred's Victory, nor of the celebrated Pusey Horn, are better
preserved in Berkshire than the wild legend of Wayland Smith.
[See Note 2, Legend of Wayland Smith.]
The haste of the travellers admitted their making no stay upon
their journey, save what the refreshment of the horses required;
and as many of the places through which they passed were under
the influence of the Earl of Leicester, or persons immediately
dependent on him, they thought it prudent to disguise their names
and the purpose of their journey. On such occasions the agency
of Wayland Smith (by which name we shall continue to distinguish
the artist, though his real name was Lancelot Wayland) was
extremely serviceable. He seemed, indeed, to have a pleasure in
displaying the alertness with which he could baffle
investigation, and amuse himself by putting the curiosity of
tapsters and inn-keepers on a false scent. During the course of
their brief journey, three different and inconsistent reports
were circulated by him on their account--namely, first, that
Tressilian was the Lord Deputy of Ireland, come over in disguise
to take the Queen's pleasure concerning the great rebel Rory Oge
MacCarthy MacMahon; secondly, that the said Tressilian was an
agent of Monsieur, coming to urge his suit to the hand of
Elizabeth; thirdly, that he was the Duke of Medina, come over,
incognito, to adjust the quarrel betwixt Philip and that
Tressilian was angry, and expostulated with the artist on the
various inconveniences, and, in particular, the unnecessary
degree of attention to which they were subjected by the figments
he thus circulated; but he was pacified (for who could be proof
against such an argument?) by Wayland's assuring him that a
general importance was attached to his own (Tressilian's)
striking presence, which rendered it necessary to give an
extraordinary reason for the rapidity and secrecy of his journey.
At length they approached the metropolis, where, owing to the
more general recourse of strangers, their appearance excited
neither observation nor inquiry, and finally they entered London
It was Tressilian's purpose to go down directly to Deptford,
where Lord Sussex resided, in order to be near the court, then
held at Greenwich, the favourite residence of Elizabeth, and
honoured as her birthplace. Still a brief halt in London was
necessary; and it was somewhat prolonged by the earnest
entreaties of Wayland Smith, who desired permission to take a
walk through the city.
"Take thy sword and buckler, and follow me, then," said
Tressilian; "I am about to walk myself, and we will go in
This he said, because he was not altogether so secure of the
fidelity of his new retainer as to lose sight of him at this
interesting moment, when rival factions at the court of Elizabeth
were running so high. Wayland Smith willingly acquiesced in the
precaution, of which he probably conjectured the motive, but only
stipulated that his master should enter the shops of such
chemists or apothecaries as he should point out, in walking
through Fleet Street, and permit him to make some necessary
purchases. Tressilian agreed, and obeying the signal of his
attendant, walked successively into more than four or five shops,
where he observed that Wayland purchased in each only one single
drug, in various quantities. The medicines which he first asked
for were readily furnished, each in succession, but those which
he afterwards required were less easily supplied; and Tressilian
observed that Wayland more than once, to the surprise of the
shopkeeper, returned the gum or herb that was offered to him, and
compelled him to exchange it for the right sort, or else went on
to seek it elsewhere. But one ingredient, in particular, seemed
almost impossible to be found. Some chemists plainly admitted
they had never seen it; others denied that such a drug existed,
excepting in the imagination of crazy alchemists; and most of
them attempted to satisfy their customer, by producing some
substitute, which, when rejected by Wayland, as not being what he
had asked for, they maintained possessed, in a superior degree,
the self-same qualities. In general they all displayed some
curiosity concerning the purpose for which he wanted it. One
old, meagre chemist, to whom the artist put the usual question,
in terms which Tressilian neither understood nor could recollect,
answered frankly, there was none of that drug in London, unless
Yoglan the Jew chanced to have some of it upon hand.
"I thought as much," said Wayland. And as soon as they left the
shop, he said to Tressilian, "I crave your pardon, sir, but no
artist can work without his tools. I must needs go to this
Yoglan's; and I promise you, that if this detains you longer than
your leisure seems to permit, you shall, nevertheless, be well
repaid by the use I will make of this rare drug. Permit me," he
added, "to walk before you, for we are now to quit the broad
street and we will make double speed if I lead the way."
Tressilian acquiesced, and, following the smith down a lane which
turned to the left hand towards the river, he found that his
guide walked on with great speed, and apparently perfect
knowledge of the town, through a labyrinth of by-streets, courts,
and blind alleys, until at length Wayland paused in the midst of
a very narrow lane, the termination of which showed a peep of the
Thames looking misty and muddy, which background was crossed
saltierwise, as Mr. Mumblazen might have said, by the masts of
two lighters that lay waiting for the tide. The shop under which
he halted had not, as in modern days, a glazed window, but a
paltry canvas screen surrounded such a stall as a cobbler now
occupies, having the front open, much in the manner of a
fishmonger's booth of the present day. A little old smock-faced
man, the very reverse of a Jew in complexion, for he was very
soft-haired as well as beardless, appeared, and with many
courtesies asked Wayland what he pleased to want. He had no
sooner named the drug, than the Jew started and looked surprised.
"And vat might your vorship vant vith that drug, which is not
named, mein God, in forty years as I have been chemist here?"
"These questions it is no part of my commission to answer," said
Wayland; "I only wish to know if you have what I want, and having
it, are willing to sell it?"
"Ay, mein God, for having it, that I have, and for selling it, I
am a chemist, and sell every drug." So saying, he exhibited a
powder, and then continued, "But it will cost much moneys. Vat I
ave cost its weight in gold--ay, gold well-refined--I vilI say
six times. It comes from Mount Sinai, where we had our blessed
Law given forth, and the plant blossoms but once in one hundred
"I do not know how often it is gathered on Mount Sinai," said
Wayland, after looking at the drug offered him with great
disdain, "but I will wager my sword and buckler against your
gaberdine, that this trash you offer me, instead of what I asked
for, may be had for gathering any day of the week in the castle
ditch of Aleppo."
"You are a rude man," said the Jew; "and, besides, I ave no
better than that--or if I ave, I will not sell it without order
of a physician, or without you tell me vat you make of it."
The artist made brief answer in a language of which Tressilian
could not understand a word, and which seemed to strike the Jew
with the utmost astonishment. He stared upon Wayland like one
who has suddenly recognized some mighty hero or dreaded
potentate, in the person of an unknown and unmarked stranger.
"Holy Elias!" he exclaimed, when he had recovered the first
stunning effects of his surprise; and then passing from his
former suspicious and surly manner to the very extremity of
obsequiousness, he cringed low to the artist, and besought him to
enter his poor house, to bless his miserable threshold by
"Vill you not taste a cup vith the poor Jew, Zacharias Yoglan?
--Vill you Tokay ave?--vill you Lachrymae taste?--vill you--"
"You offend in your proffers," said Wayland; "minister to me in
what I require of you, and forbear further discourse."
The rebuked Israelite took his bunch of keys, and opening with
circumspection a cabinet which seemed more strongly secured than
the other cases of drugs and medicines amongst which it stood, he
drew out a little secret drawer, having a glass lid, and
containing a small portion of a black powder. This he offered to
Wayland, his manner conveying the deepest devotion towards him,
though an avaricious and jealous expression, which seemed to
grudge every grain of what his customer was about to possess
himself, disputed ground in his countenance with the obsequious
deference which he desired it should exhibit.
"Have you scales?" said Wayland.
The Jew pointed to those which lay ready for common use in the
shop, but he did so with a puzzled expression of doubt and fear,
which did not escape the artist.
"They must be other than these," said Wayland sternly. "Know you
not that holy things lose their virtue if weighed in an unjust
The Jew hung his head, took from a steel-plated casket a pair of
scales beautifully mounted, and said, as he adjusted them for the
artist's use, "With these I do mine own experiment--one hair of
the high-priest's beard would turn them."
"It suffices," said the artist, and weighed out two drachms for
himself of the black powder, which he very carefully folded up,
and put into his pouch with the other drugs. He then demanded
the price of the Jew, who answered, shaking his head and bowing,
"No price--no, nothing at all from such as you. But you will see
the poor Jew again? you will look into his laboratory, where,
God help him, he hath dried himself to the substance of the
withered gourd of Jonah, the holy prophet. You will ave pity on
him, and show him one little step on the great road?"
"Hush!" said Wayland, laying his finger mysteriously on his
mouth; "it may be we shall meet again. Thou hast already the
SCHAHMAJM, as thine own Rabbis call it--the general creation;
watch, therefore, and pray, for thou must attain the knowledge of
Alchahest Elixir Samech ere I may commune further with thee."
Then returning with a slight nod the reverential congees of the
Jew, he walked gravely up the lane, followed by his master, whose
first observation on the scene he had just witnessed was, that
Wayland ought to have paid the man for his drug, whatever it was.
"I pay him?" said the artist. "May the foul fiend pay me if I
do! Had it not been that I thought it might displease your
worship, I would have had an ounce or two of gold out of him, in
exchange of the same just weight of brick dust."
"I advise you to practise no such knavery while waiting upon me,"
"Did I not say," answered the artist, "that for that reason alone
I forbore him for the present?--Knavery, call you it? Why,
yonder wretched skeleton hath wealth sufficient to pave the whole
lane he lives in with dollars, and scarce miss them out of his
own iron chest; yet he goes mad after the philosopher's stone.
And besides, he would have cheated a poor serving-man, as he
thought me at first, with trash that was not worth a penny.
Match for match, quoth the devil to the collier; if his false
medicine was worth my good crowns, my true brick dust is as well
worth his good gold."
"It may be so, for aught I know," said Tressilian, "in dealing
amongst Jews and apothecaries; but understand that to have such
tricks of legerdemain practised by one attending on me diminishes
my honour, and that I will not permit them. I trust thou hast
made up thy purchases?"
"I have, sir," replied Wayland; "and with these drugs will I,
this very day, compound the true orvietan, that noble medicine
which is so seldom found genuine and effective within these
realms of Europe, for want of that most rare and precious drug
which I got but now from Yoglan." [Orvietan, or Venice treacle,
as it was sometimes called, was understood to be a sovereign
remedy against poison; and the reader must be contented, for the
time he peruses these pages, to hold the same opinion, which was
once universally received by the learned as well as the vulgar.]
"But why not have made all your purchases at one shop?" said his
master; "we have lost nearly an hour in running from one pounder
of simples to another."
"Content you, sir," said Wayland. "No man shall learn my secret;
and it would not be mine long, were I to buy all my materials
from one chemist."
They now returned to their inn (the famous Bell-Savage); and
while the Lord Sussex's servant prepared the horses for their
journey, Wayland, obtaining from the cook the service of a
mortar, shut himself up in a private chamber, where he mixed,
pounded, and amalgamated the drugs which he had bought, each in
its due proportion, with a readiness and address that plainly
showed him well practised in all the manual operations of
By the time Wayland's electuary was prepared the horses were
ready, and a short hour's riding brought them to the present
habitation of Lord Sussex, an ancient house, called Sayes Court,
near Deptford, which had long pertained to a family of that name,
but had for upwards of a century been possessed by the ancient
and honourable family of Evelyn. The present representative of
that ancient house took a deep interest in the Earl of Sussex,
and had willingly accommodated both him and his numerous retinue
in his hospitable mansion. Sayes Court was afterwards the
residence of the celebrated Mr. Evelyn, whose "Silva" is still
the manual of British planters; and whose life, manners, and
principles, as illustrated in his Memoirs, ought equally to be
the manual of English gentlemen.
This is rare news thou tell'st me, my good fellow;
There are two bulls fierce battling on the green
For one fair heifer--if the one goes down,
The dale will be more peaceful, and the herd,
Which have small interest in their brulziement,
May pasture there in peace.--OLD PLAY.
Sayes Court was watched like a beleaguered fort; and so high rose
the suspicions of the time, that Tressilian and his attendants
were stopped and questioned repeatedly by sentinels, both on foot
and horseback, as they approached the abode of the sick Earl. In
truth, the high rank which Sussex held in Queen Elizabeth's
favour, and his known and avowed rivalry of the Earl of
Leicester, caused the utmost importance to be attached to his
welfare; for, at the period we treat of, all men doubted whether
he or the Earl of Leicester might ultimately have the higher rank
in her regard.
Elizabeth, like many of her sex, was fond of governing by
factions, so as to balance two opposing interests, and reserve in
her own hand the power of making either predominate, as the
interest of the state, or perhaps as her own female caprice (for
to that foible even she was not superior), might finally
determine. To finesse--to hold the cards--to oppose one interest
to another--to bridle him who thought himself highest in her
esteem, by the fears he must entertain of another equally
trusted, if not equally beloved, were arts which she used
throughout her reign, and which enabled her, though frequently
giving way to the weakness of favouritism, to prevent most of its
evil effects on her kingdom and government.
The two nobles who at present stood as rivals in her favour
possessed very different pretensions to share it; yet it might be
in general said that the Earl of Sussex had been most serviceable
to the Queen, while Leicester was most dear to the woman. Sussex
was, according to the phrase of the times, a martialist--had done
good service in Ireland and in Scotland, and especially in the
great northern rebellion, in 1569, which was quelled, in a great
measure, by his military talents. He was, therefore, naturally
surrounded and looked up to by those who wished to make arms
their road to distinction. The Earl of Sussex, moreover, was of
more ancient and honourable descent than his rival, uniting in
his person the representation of the Fitz-Walters, as well as of
the Ratcliffes; while the scutcheon of Leicester was stained by
the degradation of his grandfather, the oppressive minister of
Henry VII., and scarce improved by that of his father, the
unhappy Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, executed on Tower Hill,
August 22, 1553. But in person, features, and address, weapons
so formidable in the court of a female sovereign, Leicester had
advantages more than sufficient to counterbalance the military
services, high blood, and frank bearing of the Earl of Sussex;
and he bore, in the eye of the court and kingdom, the higher
share in Elizabeth's favour, though (for such was her uniform
policy) by no means so decidedly expressed as to warrant him
against the final preponderance of his rival's pretensions. The
illness of Sussex therefore happened so opportunely for
Leicester, as to give rise to strange surmises among the public;
while the followers of the one Earl were filled with the deepest
apprehensions, and those of the other with the highest hopes of
its probable issue. Meanwhile--for in that old time men never
forgot the probability that the matter might be determined by
length of sword--the retainers of each noble flocked around their
patron, appeared well armed in the vicinity of the court itself,
and disturbed the ear of the sovereign by their frequent and
alarming debates, held even within the precincts of her palace.
This preliminary statement is necessary, to render what follows
intelligible to the reader. [See Note 3. Leicester and Sussex.]
On Tressilian's arrival at Sayes Court, he found the place filled
with the retainers of the Earl of Sussex, and of the gentlemen
who came to attend their patron in his illness. Arms were in
every hand, and a deep gloom on every countenance, as if they had
apprehended an immediate and violent assault from the opposite
faction. In the hall, however, to which Tressilian was ushered
by one of the Earl's attendants, while another went to inform
Sussex of his arrival, he found only two gentlemen in waiting.
There was a remarkable contrast in their dress, appearance, and
manners. The attire of the elder gentleman, a person as it
seemed of quality and in the prime of life, was very plain and
soldierlike, his stature low, his limbs stout, his bearing
ungraceful, and his features of that kind which express sound
common sense, without a grain of vivacity or imagination. The
younger, who seemed about twenty, or upwards, was clad in the
gayest habit used by persons of quality at the period, wearing a
crimson velvet cloak richly ornamented with lace and embroidery,
with a bonnet of the same, encircled with a gold chain turned
three times round it, and secured by a medal. His hair was
adjusted very nearly like that of some fine gentlemen of our own
time--that is, it was combed upwards, and made to stand as it
were on end; and in his ears he wore a pair of silver earrings,
having each a pearl of considerable size. The countenance of
this youth, besides being regularly handsome and accompanied by a
fine person, was animated and striking in a degree that seemed to
speak at once the firmness of a decided and the fire of an
enterprising character, the power of reflection, and the
promptitude of determination.
Both these gentlemen reclined nearly in the same posture on
benches near each other; but each seeming engaged in his own
meditations, looked straight upon the wall which was opposite to
them, without speaking to his companion. The looks of the elder
were of that sort which convinced the beholder that, in looking
on the wall, he saw no more than the side of an old hall hung
around with cloaks, antlers, bucklers, old pieces of armour,
partisans, and the similar articles which were usually the
furniture of such a place. The look of the younger gallant had
in it something imaginative; he was sunk in reverie, and it
seemed as if the empty space of air betwixt him and the wall were
the stage of a theatre on which his fancy was mustering his own
DRAMATIS PERSONAE, and treating him with sights far different
from those which his awakened and earthly vision could have
At the entrance of Tressilian both started from their musing, and
made him welcome--the younger, in particular, with great
appearance of animation and cordiality.
"Thou art welcome, Tressilian," said the youth. "Thy philosophy
stole thee from us when this household had objects of ambition to
offer; it is an honest philosophy, since it returns thee to us
when there are only dangers to be shared."
"Is my lord, then, so greatly indisposed?" said Tressilian.
"We fear the very worst," answered the elder gentleman, "and by
the worst practice."
"Fie," replied Tressilian, "my Lord of Leicester is honourable."
"What doth he with such attendants, then, as he hath about him?"
said the younger gallant. "The man who raises the devil may be
honest, but he is answerable for the mischief which the fiend
does, for all that."
"And is this all of you, my mates," inquired Tressilian, "that
are about my lord in his utmost straits?"
"No, no," replied the elder gentleman, "there are Tracy, Markham,
and several more; but we keep watch here by two at once, and some
are weary and are sleeping in the gallery above."
"And some," said the young man," are gone down to the Dock yonder
at Deptford, to look out such a hull; as they may purchase by
clubbing their broken fortunes; and as soon as all is over, we
will lay our noble lord in a noble green grave, have a blow at
those who have hurried him thither, if opportunity suits, and
then sail for the Indies with heavy hearts and light purses."
"It may be," said Tressilian, "that I will embrace the same
purpose, so soon as I have settled some business at court."
"Thou business at court!" they both exclaimed at once, "and thou
make the Indian voyage!"
"Why, Tressilian," said the younger man, "art thou not wedded,
and beyond these flaws of fortune, that drive folks out to sea
when their bark bears fairest for the haven?-- What has become of
the lovely Indamira that was to match my Amoret for truth and
"Speak not of her!" said Tressilian, averting his face.
"Ay, stands it so with you?" said the youth, taking his hand
very affectionately; "then, fear not I will again touch the green
wound. But it is strange as well as sad news. Are none of our
fair and merry fellowship to escape shipwreck of fortune and
happiness in this sudden tempest? I had hoped thou wert in
harbour, at least, my dear Edmund. But truly says another dear
friend of thy name,
'What man that sees the ever whirling wheel
Of Chance, the which all mortal things doth sway,
But that thereby doth find and plainly feel,
How Mutability in them doth play
Her cruel sports to many men's decay.'"
The elder gentleman had risen from his bench, and was pacing the
hall with some impatience, while the youth, with much earnestness
and feeling, recited these lines. When he had done, the other
wrapped himself in his cloak, and again stretched himself down,
saying, "I marvel, Tressilian, you will feed the lad in this
silly humour. If there were ought to draw a judgment upon a
virtuous and honourable household like my lord's, renounce me if
I think not it were this piping, whining, childish trick of
poetry, that came among us with Master Walter Wittypate here and
his comrades, twisting into all manner of uncouth and
incomprehensible forms of speech, the honest plain English phrase
which God gave us to express our meaning withal."
"Blount believes," said his comrade, laughing, "the devil woo'd
Eve in rhyme, and that the mystic meaning of the Tree of
Knowledge refers solely to the art of clashing rhymes and meting
out hexameters." [See Note 4. Sir Walter Raleigh.]
At this moment the Earl's chamberlain entered, and informed
Tressilian that his lord required to speak with him.
He found Lord Sussex dressed, but unbraced, and lying on his
couch, and was shocked at the alteration disease had made in his
person. The Earl received him with the most friendly cordiality,
and inquired into the state of his courtship. Tressilian evaded
his inquiries for a moment, and turning his discourse on the
Earl's own health, he discovered, to his surprise, that the
symptoms of his disorder corresponded minutely with those which
Wayland had predicated concerning it. He hesitated not,
therefore, to communicate to Sussex the whole history of his
attendant, and the pretensions he set up to cure the disorder
under which he laboured. The Earl listened with incredulous
attention until the name of Demetrius was mentioned, and then
suddenly called to his secretary to bring him a certain casket
which contained papers of importance. "Take out from thence," he
said, "the declaration of the rascal cook whom we had under
examination, and look heedfully if the name of Demetrius be not
The secretary turned to the passage at once, and read, "And said
declarant, being examined, saith, That he remembers having made
the sauce to the said sturgeon-fish, after eating of which the
said noble Lord was taken ill; "and he put the usual ingredients
and condiments therein, namely--"
"Pass over his trash," said the Earl, "and see whether he had not
been supplied with his materials by a herbalist called
"It is even so," answered the secretary. "And he adds, he has
not since seen the said Demetrius."
"This accords with thy fellow's story, Tressilian," said the
Earl; "call him hither."
On being summoned to the Earl's presence, Wayland Smith told his
former tale with firmness and consistency.
"It may be," said the Earl, "thou art sent by those who have
begun this work, to end it for them; but bethink, if I miscarry
under thy medicine, it may go hard with thee."
"That were severe measure," said Wayland, "since the issue of
medicine, and the end of life, are in God's disposal. But I will
stand the risk. I have not lived so long under ground to be
afraid of a grave."
"Nay, if thou be'st so confident," said the Earl of Sussex, "I
will take the risk too, for the learned can do nothing for me.
Tell me how this medicine is to be taken."
"That will I do presently," said Wayland; "but allow me to
condition that, since I incur all the risk of this treatment, no
other physician shall be permitted to interfere with it."
"That is but fair," replied the Earl; "and now prepare your
While Wayland obeyed the Earl's commands, his servants, by the
artist's direction, undressed their master, and placed him in
"I warn you," he said, "that the first operation of this medicine
will be to produce a heavy sleep, during which time the chamber
must be kept undisturbed, as the consequences may otherwise he
fatal. I myself will watch by the Earl with any of the gentlemen
of his chamber."
"Let all leave the room, save Stanley and this good fellow," said
"And saving me also," said Tressilian. "I too am deeply
interested in the effects of this potion."
"Be it so, good friend," said the Earl. "And now for our
experiment; but first call my secretary and chamberlain."
"Bear witness," he continued, when these officers arrived--"bear
witness for me, gentlemen, that our honourable friend Tressilian
is in no way responsible for the effects which this medicine may
produce upon me, the taking it being my own free action and
choice, in regard I believe it to be a remedy which God has
furnished me by unexpected means to recover me of my present
malady. Commend me to my noble and princely Mistress; and say
that I live and die her true servant, and wish to all about her
throne the same singleness of heart and will to serve her, with
more ability to do so than hath been assigned to poor Thomas
He then folded his hands, and seemed for a second or two absorbed
in mental devotion, then took the potion in his hand, and,
pausing, regarded Wayland with a look that seemed designed to
penetrate his very soul, but which caused no anxiety or
hesitation in the countenance or manner of the artist.
"Here is nothing to be feared," said Sussex to Tressilian, and
swallowed the medicine without further hesitation
"I am now to pray your lordship," said Wayland, "to dispose
yourself to rest as commodiously as you can; and of you,
gentlemen, to remain as still and mute as if you waited at your
The chamberlain and secretary then withdrew, giving orders that
all doors should be bolted, and all noise in the house strictly
prohibited. Several gentlemen were voluntary watchers in the
hall, but none remained in the chamber of the sick Earl, save his
groom of the chamber, the artist, and Tressilian.--Wayland
Smith's predictions were speedily accomplished, and a sleep fell
upon the Earl, so deep and sound that they who watched his
bedside began to fear that, in his weakened state, he might pass
away without awakening from his lethargy. Wayland Smith himself
appeared anxious, and felt the temples of the Earl slightly, from
time to time, attending particularly to the state of his
respiration, which was full and deep, but at the same time easy
You loggerheaded and unpolish'd grooms,
What, no attendance, no regard, no duty?
Where is the foolish knave I sent before? TAMING OF THE SHREW.
There is no period at which men look worse in the eyes of each
other, or feel more uncomfortable, than when the first dawn of
daylight finds them watchers. Even a beauty of the first order,
after the vigils of a ball are interrupted by the dawn, would do
wisely to withdraw herself from the gaze of her fondest and most
partial admirers. Such was the pale, inauspicious, and
ungrateful light which began to beam upon those who kept watch
all night in the hall at Sayes Court, and which mingled its cold,
pale, blue diffusion with the red, yellow, and smoky beams of
expiring lamps and torches. The young gallant, whom we noticed
in our last chapter, had left the room for a few minutes, to
learn the cause of a knocking at the outward gate, and on his
return was so struck with the forlorn and ghastly aspects of his
companions of the watch that he exclaimed, "Pity of my heart, my
masters, how like owls you look! Methinks, when the sun rises, I
shall see you flutter off with your eyes dazzled, to stick
yourselves into the next ivy-tod or ruined steeple."
"Hold thy peace, thou gibing fool," said Blount; "hold thy peace.
Is this a time for jeering, when the manhood of England is
perchance dying within a wall's breadth of thee?"
"There thou liest," replied the gallant.
"How, lie!" exclaimed Blount, starting up, "lie! and to me?"
"Why, so thou didst, thou peevish fool," answered the youth;
"thou didst lie on that bench even now, didst thou not? But art
thou not a hasty coxcomb to pick up a wry word so wrathfully?
Nevertheless, loving and, honouring my lord as truly as thou, or
any one, I do say that, should Heaven take him from us, all
England's manhood dies not with him."
"Ay," replied Blount, "a good portion will survive with thee,
"And a good portion with thyself, Blount, and with stout Markham
here, and Tracy, and all of us. But I am he will best employ the
talent Heaven has given to us all."
"As how, I prithee?" said Blount; "tell us your mystery of
"Why, sirs," answered the youth, "ye are like goodly land, which
bears no crop because it is not quickened by manure; but I have
that rising spirit in me which will make my poor faculties labour
to keep pace with it. My ambition will keep my brain at work, I
"I pray to God it does not drive thee mad," said Blount; "for my
part, if we lose our noble lord, I bid adieu to the court and to
the camp both. I have five hundred foul acres in Norfolk, and
thither will I, and change the court pantoufle for the country
"O base transmutation!" exclaimed his antagonist; "thou hast
already got the true rustic slouch--thy shoulders stoop, as if
thine hands were at the stilts of the plough; and thou hast a
kind of earthy smell about thee, instead of being perfumed with
essence, as a gallant and courtier should. On my soul, thou hast
stolen out to roll thyself on a hay mow! Thy only excuse will be
to swear by thy hilts that the farmer had a fair daughter."
"I pray thee, Walter," said another of the company, "cease thy
raillery, which suits neither time nor place, and tell us who was
at the gate just now."
"Doctor Masters, physician to her Grace in ordinary, sent by her
especial orders to inquire after the Earl's health," answered
"Ha! what?" exclaimed Tracy; "that was no slight mark of
favour. If the Earl can but come through, he will match with
Leicester yet. Is Masters with my lord at present?"
"Nay," replied Walter, "he is half way back to Greenwich by this
time, and in high dudgeon."
"Thou didst not refuse him admittance?" exclaimed Tracy.
"Thou wert not, surely, so mad?" ejaculated Blount.
"I refused him admittance as flatly, Blount, as you would refuse
a penny to a blind beggar--as obstinately, Tracy, as thou didst
ever deny access to a dun."
"Why, in the fiend's name, didst thou trust him to go to the
gate?" said Blount to Tracy.
"It suited his years better than mine," answered Tracy; "but he
has undone us all now thoroughly. My lord may live or die, he
will never have a look of favour from her Majesty again."
"Nor the means of making fortunes for his followers," said the
young gallant, smiling contemptuously;--"there lies the sore
point that will brook no handling. My good sirs, I sounded my
lamentations over my lord somewhat less loudly than some of you;
but when the point comes of doing him service, I will yield to
none of you. Had this learned leech entered, think'st thou not
there had been such a coil betwixt him and Tressilian's
mediciner, that not the sleeper only, but the very dead might
have awakened? I know what larurm belongs to the discord of
"And who is to take the blame of opposing the Queen's orders?"
said Tracy; "for, undeniably, Doctor Masters came with her
Grace's positive commands to cure the Earl."
"I, who have done the wrong, will bear the blame," said Walter.
"Thus, then, off fly the dreams of court favour thou hast
nourished," said Blount, "and despite all thy boasted art and
ambition, Devonshire will see thee shine a true younger brother,
fit to sit low at the board, carve turn about with the chaplain,
look that the hounds be fed, and see the squire's girths drawn
when he goes a-hunting."
"Not so," said the young man, colouring, "not while Ireland and
the Netherlands have wars, and not while the sea hath pathless
waves. The rich West hath lands undreamed of, and Britain
contains bold hearts to venture on the quest of them. Adieu for
a space, my masters. I go to walk in the court and look to the
"The lad hath quicksilver in his veins, that is certain," said
Blount, looking at Markham.
"He hath that both in brain and blood," said Markham, "which may
either make or mar him. But in closing the door against Masters,
he hath done a daring and loving piece of service; for
Tressilian's fellow hath ever averred that to wake the Earl were
death, and Masters would wake the Seven Sleepers themselves, if
he thought they slept not by the regular ordinance of medicine."
Morning was well advanced when Tressilian, fatigued and over-
watched, came down to the hall with the joyful intelligence that
the Earl had awakened of himself, that he found his internal
complaints much mitigated, and spoke with a cheerfulness, and
looked round with a vivacity, which of themselves showed a
material and favourable change had taken place. Tressilian at
the same time commanded the attendance of one or two of his
followers, to report what had passed during the night, and to
relieve the watchers in the Earl's chamber.
When the message of the Queen was communicated to the Earl of
Sussex, he at first smiled at the repulse which the physician had
received from his zealous young follower; but instantly
recollecting himself, he commanded Blount, his master of the
horse, instantly to take boat, and go down the river to the
Palace of Greenwich, taking young Walter and Tracy with him, and
make a suitable compliment, expressing his grateful thanks to his
Sovereign, and mentioning the cause why he had not been enabled
to profit by the assistance of the wise and learned Doctor
"A plague on it!" said Blount, as he descended the stairs; "had
he sent me with a cartel to Leicester I think I should have done
his errand indifferently well. But to go to our gracious
Sovereign, before whom all words must be lacquered over either
with gilding or with sugar, is such a confectionary matter as
clean baffles my poor old English brain.--Come with me, Tracy,
and come you too, Master Walter Wittypate, that art the cause of
our having all this ado. Let us see if thy neat brain, that
frames so many flashy fireworks, can help out a plain fellow at
need with some of thy shrewd devices."
"Never fear, never fear," exclaimed the youth, "it is I will help
you through; let me but fetch my cloak."
"Why, thou hast it on thy shoulders," said Blount,--"the lad is
"No, No, this is Tracy's old mantle," answered Walter. "I go not
with thee to court unless as a gentleman should."
"Why," Said Blount, "thy braveries are like to dazzle the eyes of
none but some poor groom or porter."
"I know that," said the youth; "but I am resolved I will have my
own cloak, ay, and brush my doublet to boot, ere I stir forth
"Well, well," said Blount, "here is a coil about a doublet and a
cloak. Get thyself ready, a God's name!"
They were soon launched on the princely bosom of the broad
Thames, upon which the sun now shone forth in all its splendour.
"There are two things scarce matched in the universe," said
Walter to Blount--"the sun in heaven, and the Thames on the
"The one will light us to Greenwich well enough," said Blount,
"and the other would take us there a little faster if it were
"And this is all thou thinkest--all thou carest--all thou deemest
the use of the King of Elements and the King of Rivers--to guide
three such poor caitiffs as thyself, and me, and Tracy, upon an
idle journey of courtly ceremony!"
"It is no errand of my seeking, faith," replied Blount, "and I
could excuse both the sun and the Thames the trouble of carrying
me where I have no great mind to go, and where I expect but dog's
wages for my trouble--and by my honour," he added, looking out
from the head of the boat, "it seems to me as if our message were
a sort of labour in vain, for, see, the Queen's barge lies at the
stairs as if her Majesty were about to take water."
It was even so. The royal barge, manned with the Queen's
watermen richly attired in the regal liveries, and having the
Banner of England displayed, did indeed lie at the great stairs
which ascended from the river, and along with it two or three
other boats for transporting such part of her retinue as were not
in immediate attendance on the royal person. The yeomen of the
guard, the tallest and most handsome men whom England could
produce, guarded with their halberds the passage from the palace-
gate to the river side, and all seemed in readiness for the
Queen's coming forth, although the day was yet so early.
"By my faith, this bodes us no good," said Blount; "it must be
some perilous cause puts her Grace in motion thus untimeously, By
my counsel, we were best put back again, and tell the Earl what
we have seen."
"Tell the Earl what we have seen!" said Walter; "why what have
we seen but a boat, and men with scarlet jerkins, and halberds in
their hands? Let us do his errand, and tell him what the Queen
says in reply."
So saying, he caused the boat to be pulled towards a landing-
place at some distance from the principal one, which it would
not, at that moment, have been thought respectful to approach,
and jumped on shore, followed, though with reluctance, by his
cautious and timid companions. As they approached the gate of
the palace, one of the sergeant porters told them they could not
at present enter, as her Majesty was in the act of coming forth.
The gentlemen used the name of the Earl of Sussex; but it proved
no charm to subdue the officer, who alleged, in reply, that it
was as much as his post was worth to disobey in the least tittle
the commands which he had received.
"Nay, I told you as much before," said Blount; "do, I pray you,
my dear Walter, let us take boat and return."
"Not till I see the Queen come forth," returned the youth
"Thou art mad, stark mad, by the Mass!" answered Blount.
"And thou," said Walter, "art turned coward of the sudden. I
have seen thee face half a score of shag-headed Irish kerns to
thy own share of them; and now thou wouldst blink and go back to
shun the frown of a fair lady!"
At this moment the gates opened, and ushers began to issue forth
in array, preceded and flanked by the band of Gentlemen
Pensioners. After this, amid a crowd of lords and ladies, yet so
disposed around her that she could see and be seen on all sides,
came Elizabeth herself, then in the prime of womanhood, and in
the full glow of what in a Sovereign was called beauty, and who
would in the lowest rank of life have been truly judged a noble
figure, joined to a striking and commanding physiognomy. She
leant on the arm of Lord Hunsdon, whose relation to her by her
mother's side often procured him such distinguished marks of
The young cavalier we have so often mentioned had probably never
yet approached so near the person of his Sovereign, and he
pressed forward as far as the line of warders permitted, in order
to avail himself of the present opportunity. His companion, on
the contrary, cursing his imprudence, kept pulling him backwards,
till Walter shook him off impatiently, and letting his rich cloak
drop carelessly from one shoulder; a natural action, which
served, however, to display to the best advantage his well-
proportioned person. Unbonneting at the same time, he fixed his
eager gaze on the Queen's approach, with a mixture of respectful
curiosity and modest yet ardent admiration, which suited so well
with his fine features that the warders, struck with his rich
attire and noble countenance, suffered him to approach the ground
over which the Queen was to pass, somewhat closer than was
permitted to ordinary spectators. Thus the adventurous youth
stood full in Elizabeth's eye--an eye never indifferent to the
admiration which she deservedly excited among her subjects, or to
the fair proportions of external form which chanced to
distinguish any of her courtiers.
Accordingly, she fixed her keen glance on the youth, as she
approached the place where he stood, with a look in which
surprise at his boldness seemed to be unmingled with resentment,
while a trifling accident happened which attracted her attention
towards him yet more strongly. The night had been rainy, and
just where the young gentleman stood a small quantity of mud
interrupted the Queen's passage. As she hesitated to pass on,
the gallant, throwing his cloak from his shoulders, laid it on
the miry spot, so as to ensure her stepping over it dry-shod.
Elizabeth looked at the young man, who accompanied this act of
devoted courtesy with a profound reverence, and a blush that
overspread his whole countenance. The Queen was confused, and
blushed in her turn, nodded her head, hastily passed on, and
embarked in her barge without saying a word.
"Come along, Sir Coxcomb," said Blount; "your gay cloak will need
the brush to-day, I wot. Nay, if you had meant to make a
footcloth of your mantle, better have kept Tracy's old drab-de-
bure, which despises all colours."
"This cloak," said the youth, taking it up and folding it, "shall
never be brushed while in my possession."
"And that will not be long, if you learn not a little more
economy; we shall have you in CUERPO soon, as the Spaniard says."
Their discourse was here interrupted by one of the band of
"I was sent," said he, after looking at them attentively, "to a
gentleman who hath no cloak, or a muddy one.--You, sir, I think,"
addressing the younger cavalier, "are the man; you will please to
"He is in attendance on me," said Blount--"on me, the noble Earl
of Sussex's master of horse."
"I have nothing to say to that," answered the messenger; "my
orders are directly from her Majesty, and concern this gentleman
So saying, he walked away, followed by Walter, leaving the others
behind, Blount's eyes almost starting from his head with the
excess of his astonishment. At length he gave vent to it in an
exclamation, "Who the good jere would have thought this!" And
shaking his head with a mysterious air, he walked to his own
boat, embarked, and returned to Deptford.
The young cavalier was in the meanwhile guided to the water-side
by the Pensioner, who showed him considerable respect; a
circumstance which, to persons in his situation, may be
considered as an augury of no small consequence. He ushered him
into one of the wherries which lay ready to attend the Queen's
barge, which was already proceeding; up the river, with the
advantage of that flood-tide of which, in the course of their
descent, Blount had complained to his associates.
The two rowers used their oars with such expedition at the signal
of the Gentleman Pensioner, that they very soon brought their
little skiff under the stern of the Queen's boat, where she sat
beneath an awning, attended by two or three ladies, and the
nobles of her household. She looked more than once at the wherry
in which the young adventurer was seated, spoke to those around