Part 8 out of 11
while, only cautioning his companion to keep the muffler close
around her face, he entered the gate leading her palfrey, but
with such a drooping crest, and such a look of conscious fear and
anxiety, that the crowd, not greatly pleased at any rate with the
preference bestowed upon them, accompanied their admission with
hooting and a loud laugh of derision.
Admitted thus within the chase, though with no very flattering
notice or distinction, Wayland and his charge rode forward,
musing what difficulties it would be next their lot to encounter,
through the broad avenue, which was sentinelled on either side by
a long line of retainers, armed with swords, and partisans richly
dressed in the Earl of Leicester's liveries, and bearing his
cognizance of the Bear and Ragged Staff, each placed within three
paces of each other, so as to line the whole road from the
entrance into the park to the bridge. And, indeed, when the lady
obtained the first commanding view of the Castle, with its
stately towers rising from within a long, sweeping line of
outward walls, ornamented with battlements and turrets and
platforms at every point of defence, with many a banner streaming
from its walls, and such a bustle of gay crests and waving plumes
disposed on the terraces and battlements, and all the gay and
gorgeous scene, her heart, unaccustomed to such splendour, sank
as if it died within her, and for a moment she asked herself what
she had offered up to Leicester to deserve to become the partner
of this princely splendour. But her pride and generous spirit
resisted the whisper which bade her despair.
"I have given him," she said, "all that woman has to give. Name
and fame, heart and hand, have I given the lord of all this
magnificence at the altar, and England's Queen could give him no
more. He is my husband--I am his wife--whom God hath joined, man
cannot sunder. I will be bold in claiming my right; even the
bolder, that I come thus unexpected, and thus forlorn. I know my
noble Dudley well! He will be something impatient at my
disobeying him, but Amy will weep, and Dudley will forgive her."
These meditations were interrupted by a cry of surprise from her
guide Wayland, who suddenly felt himself grasped firmly round the
body by a pair of long, thin black arms, belonging to some one
who had dropped himself out of an oak tree upon the croup of his
horse, amidst the shouts of laughter which burst from the
"This must be the devil, or Flibbertigibbet again!" said
Wayland, after a vain struggle to disengage himself, and unhorse
the urchin who clung to him; "do Kenilworth oaks bear such
"In sooth do they, Master Wayland," said his unexpected adjunct,
"and many others, too hard for you to crack, for as old as you
are, without my teaching you. How would you have passed the
pursuivant at the upper gate yonder, had not I warned him our
principal juggler was to follow us? And here have I waited for
you, having clambered up into the tree from the top of the wain;
and I suppose they are all mad for want of me by this time,"
"Nay, then, thou art a limb of the devil in good earnest," said
Wayland. "I give thee way, good imp, and will walk by thy
counsel; only, as thou art powerful be merciful."
As he spoke, they approached a strong tower, at the south
extremity of the long bridge we have mentioned, which served to
protect the outer gateway of the Castle of Kenilworth.
Under such disastrous circumstances, and in such singular
company, did the unfortunate Countess of Leicester approach, for
the first time, the magnificent abode of her almost princely
SNUG. Have you the lion's part written? pray, if it be, give
it me, for I am slow of study.
QUINCE. You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
When the Countess of Leicester arrived at the outer gate of the
Castle of Kenilworth, she found the tower, beneath which its
ample portal arch opened, guarded in a singular manner. Upon the
battlements were placed gigantic warders, with clubs, battle-
axes, and other implements of ancient warfare, designed to
represent the soldiers of King Arthur; those primitive Britons,
by whom, according to romantic tradition, the Castle had been
first tenanted, though history carried back its antiquity only to
the times of the Heptarchy.
Some of these tremendous figures were real men, dressed up with
vizards and buskins; others were mere pageants composed of
pasteboard and buckram, which, viewed from beneath, and mingled
with those that were real, formed a sufficiently striking
representation of what was intended. But the gigantic porter who
waited at the gate beneath, and actually discharged the duties of
warder, owed none of his terrors to fictitious means. We was a
man whose huge stature, thews, sinews, and bulk in proportion,
would have enabled him to enact Colbrand, Ascapart, or any other
giant of romance, without raising himself nearer to heaven even
by the altitude of a chopin. The legs and knees of this son of
Anak were bare, as were his arms from a span below the shoulder;
but his feet were defended with sandals, fastened with cross
straps of scarlet leather studded with brazen knobs. A close
jerkin of scarlet velvet looped with gold, with short breeches of
the same, covered his body and a part of his limbs; and he wore
on his shoulders, instead of a cloak, the skin of a black bear.
The head of this formidable person was uncovered, except by his
shaggy, black hair, which descended on either side around
features of that huge, lumpish, and heavy cast which are often
annexed to men of very uncommon size, and which, notwithstanding
some distinguished exceptions, have created a general prejudice
against giants, as being a dull and sullen kind of persons. This
tremendous warder was appropriately armed with a heavy club
spiked with steel. In fine, he represented excellently one of
those giants of popular romance, who figure in every fairy tale
or legend of knight-errantry.
The demeanour of this modern Titan, when Wayland Smith bent his
attention to him, had in it something arguing much mental
embarrassment and vexation; for sometimes he sat down for an
instant on a massive stone bench, which seemed placed for his
accommodation beside the gateway, and then ever and anon he
started up, scratching his huge head, and striding to and fro on
his post, like one under a fit of impatience and anxiety. It was
while the porter was pacing before the gate in this agitated
manner, that Wayland, modestly, yet as a matter of course (not,
however, without some mental misgiving), was about to pass him,
and enter the portal arch. The porter, however, stopped his
progress, bidding him, in a thundering voice, "Stand back!" and
enforcing his injunction by heaving up his steel-shod mace, and
dashing it on the ground before Wayland's horse's nose with such
vehemence that the pavement flashed fire, and the archway rang to
the clamour. Wayland, availing himself of Dickie's hints, began
to state that he belonged to a band of performers to which his
presence was indispensable, that he had been accidentally
detained behind, and much to the same purpose. But the warder
was inexorable, and kept muttering and murmuring something
betwixt his teeth, which Wayland could make little of; and
addressing betwixt whiles a refusal of admittance, couched in
language which was but too intelligible. A specimen of his
speech might run thus:--"What, how now, my masters?" (to
himself)--"Here's a stir--here's a coil."--(Then to Wayland)--
"You are a loitering knave, and shall have no entrance."--(Again
to himself)--"Here's a throng--here's a thrusting.--I shall ne'er
get through with it--Here's a--humph--ha."--(To Wayland)--"Back
from the gate, or I'll break the pate of thee."--(Once more to
himself)--"Here's a--no--I shall never get through it."
"Stand still," whispered Flibbertigibbet into Wayland's ear, "I
know where the shoe pinches, and will tame him in an instant."
He dropped down from the horse, and skipping up to the porter,
plucked him by the tail of the bearskin, so as to induce him to
decline his huge head, and whispered something in his ear. Not
at the command of the lord of some Eastern talisman did ever
Afrite change his horrid frown into a look of smooth submission
more suddenly than the gigantic porter of Kenilworth relaxed the
terrors of his looks at the instant Flibbertigibbet's whisper
reached his ears. He flung his club upon the ground, and caught
up Dickie Sludge, raising him to such a distance from the earth
as might have proved perilous had he chanced to let him slip.
"It is even so," he said, with a thundering sound of exultation
--"it is even so, my little dandieprat. But who the devil could
teach it thee?"
"Do not thou care about that," said Flibbertigibbet--"but--" he
looked at Wayland and the lady, and then sunk what he had to say
in a whisper, which needed not be a loud one, as the giant held
him for his convenience close to his ear. The porter then gave
Dickie a warm caress, and set him on the ground with the same
care which a careful housewife uses in replacing a cracked china
cup upon her mantelpiece, calling out at the same time to Wayland
and the lady, "In with you--in with you! and take heed how you
come too late another day when I chance to be porter."
"Ay, ay, in with you," added Flibbertigibbet; "I must stay a
short space with mine honest Philistine, my Goliath of Gath here;
but I will be with you anon, and at the bottom of all your
secrets, were they as deep and dark as the Castle dungeon."
"I do believe thou wouldst," said Wayland; "but I trust the
secret will be soon out of my keeping, and then I shall care the
less whether thou or any one knows it."
They now crossed the entrance tower, which obtained the name of
the Gallery-tower, from the following circumstance: The whole
bridge, extending from the entrance to another tower on the
opposite side of the lake, called Mortimer's Tower, was so
disposed as to make a spacious tilt-yard, about one hundred and
thirty yards in length, and ten in breadth, strewed with the
finest sand, and defended on either side by strong and high
palisades. The broad and fair gallery, destined for the ladies
who were to witness the feats of chivalry presented on this area,
was erected on the northern side of the outer tower, to which it
gave name. Our travellers passed slowly along the bridge or
tilt-yard, and arrived at Mortimer's Tower, at its farthest
extremity, through which the approach led into the outer or base-
court of the Castle. Mortimer's Tower bore on its front the
scutcheon of the Earl of March, whose daring ambition overthrew
the throne of Edward II., and aspired to share his power with the
"She-wolf of France," to whom the unhappy monarch was wedded.
The gate, which opened under this ominous memorial, was guarded
by many warders in rich liveries; but they offered no opposition
to the entrance of the Countess and her guide, who, having passed
by license of the principal porter at the Gallery-tower, were
not, it may be supposed, liable to interruption from his
deputies. They entered accordingly, in silence, the great
outward court of the Castle, having then full before them that
vast and lordly pile, with all its stately towers, each gate
open, as if in sign of unlimited hospitality, and the apartments
filled with noble guests of every degree, besides dependants,
retainers, domestics of every description, and all the appendages
and promoters of mirth and revelry.
Amid this stately and busy scene Wayland halted his horse, and
looked upon the lady, as if waiting her commands what was next to
be done, since they had safely reached the place of destination.
As she remained silent, Wayland, after waiting a minute or two,
ventured to ask her, in direct terms, what were her next
commands. She raised her hand to her forehead, as if in the act
of collecting her thoughts and resolution, while she answered him
in a low and suppressed voice, like the murmurs of one who speaks
in a dream--"Commands? I may indeed claim right to command, but
who is there will obey me!"
Then suddenly raising her head, like one who has formed a
decisive resolution, she addressed a gaily-dressed domestic, who
was crossing the court with importance and bustle in his
countenance, "Stop, sir," she said; "I desire to speak with, the
Earl of Leicester."
"With whom, an it please you?" said the man, surprised at the
demand; and then looking upon the mean equipage of her who used
towards him such a tone of authority, he added, with insolence,
"Why, what Bess of Bedlam is this would ask to see my lord on
such a day as the present?"
"Friend," said the Countess, "be not insolent--my business with
the Earl is most urgent."
"You must get some one else to do it, were it thrice as urgent,"
said the fellow. "I should summon my lord from the Queen's royal
presence to do YOUR business, should I?--I were like to be
thanked with a horse-whip. I marvel our old porter took not
measure of such ware with his club, instead of giving them
passage; but his brain is addled with getting his speech by
Two or three persons stopped, attracted by the fleering way in
which the serving-man expressed himself; and Wayland, alarmed
both for himself and the lady, hastily addressed himself to one
who appeared the most civil, and thrusting a piece of money into
his hand, held a moment's counsel with him on the subject of
finding a place of temporary retreat for the lady. The person to
whom he spoke, being one in some authority, rebuked the others
for their incivility, and commanding one fellow to take care of
the strangers' horses, he desired them to follow him. The
Countess retained presence of mind sufficient to see that it was
absolutely necessary she should comply with his request; and
leaving the rude lackeys and grooms to crack their brutal jests
about light heads, light heels, and so forth, Wayland and she
followed in silence the deputy-usher, who undertook to be their
They entered the inner court of the Castle by the great gateway,
which extended betwixt the principal Keep, or Donjon, called
Caesar's Tower, and a stately building which passed by the name
of King Henry's Lodging, and were thus placed in the centre of
the noble pile, which presented on its different fronts
magnificent specimens of every species of castellated
architecture, from the Conquest to the reign of Elizabeth, with
the appropriate style and ornaments of each.
Across this inner court also they were conducted by their guide
to a small but strong tower, occupying the north-east angle of
the building, adjacent to the great hall, and filling up a space
betwixt the immense range of kitchens and the end of the great
hall itself. The lower part of this tower was occupied by some
of the household officers of Leicester, owing to its convenient
vicinity to the places where their duty lay; but in the upper
story, which was reached by a narrow, winding stair, was a small
octangular chamber, which, in the great demand for lodgings, had
been on the present occasion fitted up for the reception of
guests, though generally said to have been used as a place of
confinement for some unhappy person who had been there murdered.
Tradition called this prisoner Mervyn, and transferred his name
to the tower. That it had been used as a prison was not
improbable; for the floor of each story was arched, the walls of
tremendous thickness, while the space of the chamber did not
exceed fifteen feet in diameter. The window, however, was
pleasant, though narrow, and commanded a delightful view of what
was called the Pleasance; a space of ground enclosed and
decorated with arches, trophies, statues, fountains, and other
architectural monuments, which formed one access from the Castle
itself into the garden. There was a bed in the apartment, and
other preparations for the reception of a guest, to which the
Countess paid but slight attention, her notice being instantly
arrested by the sight of writing materials placed on the table
(not very commonly to be found in the bedrooms of those days),
which instantly suggested the idea of writing to Leicester, and
remaining private until she had received his answer.
The deputy-usher having introduced them into this commodious
apartment, courteously asked Wayland, whose generosity he had
experienced, whether he could do anything further for his
service. Upon receiving a gentle hint that some refreshment
would not be unacceptable, he presently conveyed the smith to the
buttery-hatch, where dressed provisions of all sorts were
distributed, with hospitable profusion, to all who asked for
them. Wayland was readily supplied with some light provisions,
such as he thought would best suit the faded appetite of the
lady, and did not omit the opportunity of himself making a hasty
but hearty meal on more substantial fare. He then returned to
the apartment in the turret, where he found the Countess, who had
finished her letter to Leicester, and in lieu of a seal and
silken thread, had secured it with a braid of her own beautiful
tresses, fastened by what is called a true-love knot.
"Good friend," said she to Wayland, "whom God hath sent to aid me
at my utmost need, I do beseech thee, as the last trouble you
shall take for an unfortunate lady, to deliver this letter to the
noble Earl of Leicester. Be it received as it may," she said,
with features agitated betwixt hope and fear, "thou, good fellow,
shalt have no more cumber with me. But I hope the best; and if
ever lady made a poor man rich, thou hast surely deserved it at
my hand, should my happy days ever come round again. Give it, I
pray you, into Lord Leicester's own hand, and mark how he looks
on receiving it."
Wayland, on his part, readily undertook the commission, but
anxiously prayed the lady, in his turn, to partake of some
refreshment; in which he at length prevailed, more through
importunity and her desire to see him begone on his errand than
from any inclination the Countess felt to comply with his
request. He then left her, advising her to lock her door on the
inside, and not to stir from her little apartment; and went to
seek an opportunity of discharging her errand, as well as of
carrying into effect a purpose of his own, which circumstances
had induced him to form.
In fact, from the conduct of the lady during the journey--her
long fits of profound silence, the irresolution and uncertainty
which seemed to pervade all her movements, and the obvious
incapacity of thinking and acting for herself under which she
seemed to labour--Wayland had formed the not improbable opinion
that the difficulties of her situation had in some degree
affected her understanding.
When she had escaped from the seclusion of Cumnor Place, and the
dangers to which she was there exposed, it would have seemed her
most rational course to retire to her father's, or elsewhere at a
distance from the power of those by whom these dangers had been
created. When, instead of doing so, she demanded to be conveyed
to Kenilworth, Wayland had been only able to account for her
conduct by supposing that she meant to put herself under the
tutelage of Tressilian, and to appeal to the protection of the
Queen. But now, instead of following this natural course, she
entrusted him with a letter to Leicester, the patron of Varney,
and within whose jurisdiction at least, if not under his express
authority, all the evils she had already suffered were inflicted
upon her. This seemed an unsafe and even a desperate measure,
and Wayland felt anxiety for his own safety, as well as that of
the lady, should he execute her commission before he had secured
the advice and countenance of a protector.
He therefore resolved, before delivering the letter to Leicester,
that he would seek out Tressilian, and communicate to him the
arrival of the lady at Kenilworth, and thus at once rid himself
of all further responsibility, and devolve the task of guiding
and protecting this unfortunate lady upon the patron who had at
first employed him in her service.
"He will be a better judge than I am," said Wayland, "whether she
is to be gratified in this humour of appeal to my Lord of
Leicester, which seems like an act of insanity; and, therefore, I
will turn the matter over on his hands, deliver him the letter,
receive what they list to give me by way of guerdon, and then
show the Castle of Kenilworth a pair of light heels; for, after
the work I have been engaged in, it will be, I fear, neither a
safe nor wholesome place of residence, and I would rather shoe
colts an the coldest common in England than share in their gayest
In my time I have seen a boy do wonders.
Robin, the red tinker, had a boy
Would ha run through a cat-hole. THE COXCOMB.
Amid the universal bustle which filled the Castle and its
environs, it was no easy matter to find out any individual; and
Wayland was still less likely to light upon Tressilian, whom he
sought so anxiously, because, sensible of the danger of
attracting attention in the circumstances in which he was placed,
he dared not make general inquiries among the retainers or
domestics of Leicester. He learned, however, by indirect
questions, that in all probability Tressilian must have been one
of a large party of gentlemen in attendance on the Earl of
Sussex, who had accompanied their patron that morning to
Kenilworth, when Leicester had received them with marks of the
most formal respect and distinction. He further learned that
both Earls, with their followers, and many other nobles, knights,
and gentlemen, had taken horse, and gone towards Warwick several
hours since, for the purpose of escorting the Queen to
Her Majesty's arrival, like other great events, was delayed from
hour to hour; and it was now announced by a breathless post that
her Majesty, being detained by her gracious desire to receive the
homage of her lieges who had thronged to wait upon her at
Warwick, it would be the hour of twilight ere she entered the
Castle. The intelligence released for a time those who were upon
duty, in the immediate expectation of the Queen's appearance, and
ready to play their part in the solemnities with which it was to
be accompanied; and Wayland, seeing several horsemen enter the
Castle, was not without hopes that Tressilian might be of the
number. That he might not lose an opportunity of meeting his
patron in the event of this being the case, Wayland placed
himself in the base-court of the Castle, near Mortimer's Tower,
and watched every one who went or came by the bridge, the
extremity of which was protected by that building. Thus
stationed, nobody could enter or leave the Castle without his
observation, and most anxiously did he study the garb and
countenance of every horseman, as, passing from under the
opposite Gallery-tower, they paced slowly, or curveted, along the
tilt-yard, and approached the entrance of the base-court.
But while Wayland gazed thus eagerly to discover him whom he saw
not, he was pulled by the sleeve by one by whom he himself would
not willingly have been seen.
This was Dickie Sludge, or Flibbertigibbet, who, like the imp
whose name he bore, and whom he had been accoutred in order to
resemble, seemed to be ever at the ear of those who thought least
of him. Whatever were Wayland's internal feelings, he judged it
necessary to express pleasure at their unexpected meeting.
"Ha! is it thou, my minikin--my miller's thumb--my prince of
cacodemons--my little mouse?"
"Ay," said Dickie, "the mouse which gnawed asunder the toils,
just when the lion who was caught in them began to look
wonderfully like an ass."
"Thy, thou little hop-the-gutter, thou art as sharp as vinegar
this afternoon! But tell me, how didst thou come off with yonder
jolterheaded giant whom I left thee with? I was afraid he would
have stripped thy clothes, and so swallowed thee, as men peel and
eat a roasted chestnut."
"Had he done so," replied the boy, "he would have had more brains
in his guts than ever he had in his noddle. But the giant is a
courteous monster, and more grateful than many other folk whom I
have helped at a pinch, Master Wayland Smith."
"Beshrew me, Flibbertigibbet," replied Wayland, "but thou art
sharper than a Sheffield whittle! I would I knew by what charm
you muzzled yonder old bear."
"Ay, that is in your own manner," answered Dickie; "you think
fine speeches will pass muster instead of good-will. However, as
to this honest porter, you must know that when we presented
ourselves at the gate yonder, his brain was over-burdened with a
speech that had been penned for him, and which proved rather an
overmatch for his gigantic faculties. Now this same pithy
oration had been indited, like sundry others, by my learned
magister, Erasmus Holiday, so I had heard it often enough to
remember every line. As soon as I heard him blundering and
floundering like a fish upon dry land, through the first verse,
and perceived him at a stand, I knew where the shoe pinched, and
helped him to the next word, when he caught me up in an ecstasy,
even as you saw but now. I promised, as the price of your
admission, to hide me under his bearish gaberdine, and prompt him
in the hour of need. I have just now been getting some food in
the Castle, and am about to return to him."
"That's right--that's right, my dear Dickie," replied Wayland;
"haste thee, for Heaven's sake! else the poor giant will be
utterly disconsolate for want of his dwarfish auxiliary. Away
with thee, Dickie!"
"Ay, ay!" answered the boy--"away with Dickie, when we have got
what good of him we can. You will not let me know the story of
this lady, then, who is as much sister of thine as I am?"
"Why, what good would it do thee, thou silly elf?" said Wayland.
"Oh, stand ye on these terms?" said the boy. "Well, I care not
greatly about the matter--only, I never smell out a secret but I
try to be either at the right or the wrong end of it, and so good
evening to ye."
"Nay, but, Dickie," said Wayland, who knew the boy's restless and
intriguing disposition too well not to fear his enmity--"stay, my
dear Dickie--part not with old friends so shortly! Thou shalt
know all I know of the lady one day."
"Ay!" said Dickie; "and that day may prove a nigh one. Fare
thee well, Wayland--I will to my large-limbed friend, who, if he
have not so sharp a wit as some folk, is at least more grateful
for the service which other folk render him. And so again, good
evening to ye."
So saying, he cast a somerset through the gateway, and lighting
on the bridge, ran with the extraordinary agility which was one
of his distinguishing attributes towards the Gallery-tower, and
was out of sight in an instant.
"I would to God I were safe out of this Castle again!" prayed
Wayland internally; "for now that this mischievous imp has put
his finger in the pie, it cannot but prove a mess fit for the
devil's eating. I would to Heaven Master Tressilian would
Tressilian, whom he was thus anxiously expecting in one
direction, had returned to Kenilworth by another access. It was
indeed true, as Wayland had conjectured, that in the earlier part
of the day he had accompanied the Earls on their cavalcade
towards Warwick, not without hope that he might in that town hear
some tidings of his emissary. Being disappointed in this
expectation, and observing Varney amongst Leicester's attendants,
seeming as if he had some purpose of advancing to and addressing
him, he conceived, in the present circumstances, it was wisest to
avoid the interview. He, therefore, left the presence-chamber
when the High-Sheriff of the county was in the very midst of his
dutiful address to her Majesty; and mounting his horse, rode back
to Kenilworth by a remote and circuitous road, and entered the
Castle by a small sallyport in the western wall, at which he was
readily admitted as one of the followers of the Earl of Sussex,
towards whom Leicester had commanded the utmost courtesy to be
exercised. It was thus that he met not Wayland, who was
impatiently watching his arrival, and whom he himself would have
been at least equally desirous to see.
Having delivered his horse to the charge of his attendant, he
walked for a space in the Pleasance and in the garden, rather to
indulge in comparative solitude his own reflections, than to
admire those singular beauties of nature and art which the
magnificence of Leicester had there assembled. The greater part
of the persons of condition had left the Castle for the present,
to form part of the Earl's cavalcade; others, who remained
behind, were on the battlements, outer walls, and towers, eager
to view the splendid spectacle of the royal entry. The garden,
therefore, while every other part of the Castle resounded with
the human voice, was silent but for the whispering of the leaves,
the emulous warbling of the tenants of a large aviary with their
happier companions who remained denizens of the free air, and the
plashing of the fountains, which, forced into the air from
sculptures of fatastic and grotesque forms, fell down with
ceaseless sound into the great basins of Italian marble.
The melancholy thoughts of Tressilian cast a gloomy shade on all
the objects with which he was surrounded. He compared the
magnificent scenes which he here traversed with the deep woodland
and wild moorland which surrounded Lidcote Hall, and the image of
Amy Robsart glided like a phantom through every landscape which
his imagination summoned up. Nothing is perhaps more dangerous
to the future happiness of men of deep thought and retired habits
than the entertaining an early, long, and unfortunate attachment.
It frequently sinks so deep into the mind that it becomes their
dream by night and their vision by day--mixes itself with every
source of interest and enjoyment; and when blighted and withered
by final disappointment, it seems as if the springs of the heart
were dried up along with it. This aching of the heart, this
languishing after a shadow which has lost all the gaiety of its
colouring, this dwelling on the remembrance of a dream from which
we have been long roughly awakened, is the weakness of a gentle
and generous heart, and it was that of Tressilian.
He himself at length became sensible of the necessity of forcing
other objects upon his mind; and for this purpose he left the
Pleasance, in order to mingle with the noisy crowd upon the
walls, and view the preparation for the pageants. But as he left
the garden, and heard the busy hum, mixed with music and
laughter, which floated around him, he felt an uncontrollable
reluctance to mix with society whose feelings were in a tone so
different from his own, and resolved, instead of doing so, to
retire to the chamber assigned him, and employ himself in study
until the tolling of the great Castle bell should announce the
arrival of Elizabeth.
Tressilian crossed accordingly by the passage betwixt the immense
range of kitchens and the great hall, and ascended to the third
story of Mervyn's Tower, and applying himself to the door of the
small apartment which had been allotted to him, was surprised to
find it was locked. He then recollected that the deputy-
chamberlain had given him a master-key, advising him, in the
present confused state of the Castle, to keep his door as much
shut as possible. He applied this key to the lock, the bolt
revolved, he entered, and in the same instant saw a female form
seated in the apartment, and recognized that form to be, Amy
Robsart. His first idea was that a heated imagination had raised
the image on which it doted into visible existence; his second,
that he beheld an apparition; the third and abiding conviction,
that it was Amy herself, paler, indeed, and thinner, than in the
days of heedless happiness, when she possessed the form and hue
of a wood-nymph, with the beauty of a sylph--but still Amy,
unequalled in loveliness by aught which had ever visited his
The astonishment of the Countess was scarce less than that of
Tressilian, although it was of shorter duration, because she had
heard from Wayland that he was in the Castle. She had started up
at his first entrance, and now stood facing him, the paleness of
her cheeks having given way to a deep blush.
"Tressilian," she said, at length, "why come you here?"
"Nay, why come you here, Amy," returned Tressilian, "unless it be
at length to claim that aid, which, as far as one man's heart and
arm can extend, shall instantly be rendered to you?"
She was silent a moment, and then answered in a sorrowful rather
than an angry tone, "I require no aid, Tressilian, and would
rather be injured than benefited by any which your kindness can
offer me. Believe me, I am near one whom law and love oblige to
"The villain, then, hath done you the poor justice which remained
in his power," said Tressilian, "and I behold before me the wife
"The wife of Varney!" she replied, with all the emphasis of
scorn. "With what base name, sir, does your boldness stigmatize
the--the--the--" She hesitated, dropped her tone of scorn, looked
down, and was confused and silent; for she recollected what fatal
consequences might attend her completing the sentence with "the
Countess of Leicester," which were the words that had naturally
suggested themselves. It would have been a betrayal of the
secret, on which her husband had assured her that his fortunes
depended, to Tressilian, to Sussex, to the Queen, and to the
whole assembled court. "Never," she thought, "will I break my
promised silence. I will submit to every suspicion rather than
The tears rose to her eyes, as she stood silent before
Tressilian; while, looking on her with mingled grief and pity, he
said, "Alas! Amy, your eyes contradict your tongue. That
speaks of a protector, willing and able to watch over you; but
these tell me you are ruined, and deserted by the wretch to whom
you have attached yourself."
She looked on him with eyes in which anger sparkled through her
tears, but only repeated the word "wretch!" with a scornful
"Yes, WRETCH!" said Tressilian; "for were he aught better, why
are you here, and alone, in my apartment? why was not fitting
provision made for your honourable reception?"
"In your apartment?" repeated Amy--"in YOUR apartment? It shall
instantly be relieved of my presence." She hastened towards the
door; but the sad recollection of her deserted state at once
pressed on her mind, and pausing on the threshold, she added, in
a tone unutterably pathetic, "Alas! I had forgot--I know not
where to go--"
"I see--I see it all," said Tressilian, springing to her side,
and leading her back to the seat, on which she sunk down. "You
DO need aid--you do need protection, though you will not own it;
and you shall not need it long. Leaning on my arm, as the
representative of your excellent and broken-hearted father, on
the very threshold of the Castle gate, you shall meet Elizabeth;
and the first deed she shall do in the halls of Kenilworth shall
be an act of justice to her sex and her subjects. Strong in my
good cause, and in the Queen's justice, the power of her minion
shall not shake my resolution. I will instantly seek Sussex."
"Not for all that is under heaven!" said the Countess, much
alarmed, and feeling the absolute necessity of obtaining time, at
least, for consideration. "Tressilian, you were wont to be
generous. Grant me one request, and believe, if it be your wish
to save me from misery and from madness, you will do more by
making me the promise I ask of you, than Elizabeth can do for me
with all her power."
"Ask me anything for which you can allege reason," said
Tressilian; "but demand not of me--"
"Oh, limit not your boon, dear Edmund!" exclaimed the Countess
--"you once loved that I should call you so--limit not your boon
to reason; for my case is all madness, and frenzy must guide the
counsels which alone can aid me."
"If you speak thus wildly," said Tressilian, astonishment again
overpowering both his grief and his resolution, "I must believe
you indeed incapable of thinking or acting for yourself."
"Oh, no!" she exclaimed, sinking on one knee before him, "I am
not mad--I am but a creature unutterably miserable, and, from
circumstances the most singular, dragged on to a precipice by the
arm of him who thinks he is keeping me from it--even by yours,
Tressilian--by yours, whom I have honoured, respected--all but
loved--and yet loved, too--loved, too, Tressilian--though not as
you wished to be."
There was an energy, a self-possession, an abandonment in her
voice and manner, a total resignation of herself to his
generosity, which, together with the kindness of her expressions
to himself, moved him deeply. He raised her, and, in broken
accents, entreated her to be comforted.
"I cannot," she said, "I will not be comforted, till you grant me
my request! I will speak as plainly as I dare. I am now
awaiting the commands of one who has a right to issue them. The
interference of a third person--of you in especial, Tressilian--
will be ruin--utter ruin to me. Wait but four-and-twenty hours,
and it may be that the poor Amy may have the means to show that
she values, and can reward, your disinterested friendship--that
she is happy herself, and has the means to make you so. It is
surely worth your patience, for so short a space?"
Tressilian paused, and weighing in his mind the various
probabilities which might render a violent interference on his
part more prejudicial than advantageous, both to the happiness
and reputation of Amy; considering also that she was within the
walls of Kenilworth, and could suffer no injury in a castle
honoured with the Queen's residence, and filled with her guards
and attendants--he conceived, upon the whole, that he might
render her more evil than good service by intruding upon her his
appeal to Elizabeth in her behalf. He expressed his resolution
cautiously, however, doubting naturally whether Amy's hopes of
extricating herself from her difficulties rested on anything
stronger than a blinded attachment to Varney, whom he supposed to
be her seducer.
"Amy," he said, while he fixed his sad and expressive eyes on
hers, which, in her ecstasy of doubt, terror, and perplexity, she
cast up towards him, "I have ever remarked that when others
called thee girlish and wilful, there lay under that external
semblance of youthful and self-willed folly deep feeling and
strong sense. In this I will confide, trusting your own fate in
your own hands for the space of twenty-four hours, without my
interference by word or act."
"Do you promise me this, Tressilian?" said the Countess. "Is it
possible you can yet repose so much confidence in me? Do you
promise, as you are a gentleman and a man of honour, to intrude
in my matters neither by speech nor action, whatever you may see
or hear that seems to you to demand your interference? Will you
so far trust me?"
"I will upon my honour," said Tressilian; "but when that space is
"Then that space is expired," she said, interrupting him, "you
are free to act as your judgment shall determine."
"Is there nought besides which I can do for you, Amy?" said
"Nothing," said she, "save to leave me,--that is, if--I blush to
acknowledge my helplessness by asking it--if you can spare me the
use of this apartment for the next twenty-four hours."
"This is most wonderful!" said Tressilian; "what hope or
interest can you have in a Castle where you cannot command even
"Argue not, but leave me," she said; and added, as he slowly and
unwillingly retired, "Generous Edmund! the time may come when
Amy may show she deserved thy noble attachment."
What, man, ne'er lack a draught, when the full can
Stands at thine elbow, and craves emptying!--
Nay, fear not me, for I have no delight
To watch men's vices, since I have myself
Of virtue nought to boast of--I'm a striker,
Would have the world strike with me, pell-mell, all.
Tressilian, in strange agitation of mind, had hardly stepped down
the first two or three steps of the winding staircase, when,
greatly to his surprise and displeasure, he met Michael
Lambourne, wearing an impudent familiarity of visage, for which
Tressilian felt much disposed to throw him down-stairs; until he
remembered the prejudice which Amy, the only object of his
solicitude, was likely to receive from his engaging in any act of
violence at that time and in that place.
He therefore contented himself with looking sternly upon
Lambourne, as upon one whom he deemed unworthy of notice, and
attempted to pass him in his way downstairs, without any symptom
of recognition. But Lambourne, who, amidst the profusion of that
day's hospitality, had not failed to take a deep though not an
overpowering cup of sack, was not in the humour of humbling
himself before any man's looks. He stopped Tressilian upon the
staircase without the least bashfulness or embarrassment, and
addressed him as if he had been on kind and intimate terms:--
"What, no grudge between us, I hope, upon old scores, Master
Tressilian?--nay, I am one who remembers former kindness rather
than latter feud. I'll convince you that I meant honestly and
kindly, ay, and comfortably by you."
"I desire none of your intimacy," said Tressilian--"keep company
with your mates."
"Now, see how hasty he is!" said Lambourne; "and how these
gentles, that are made questionless out of the porcelain clay of
the earth, look down upon poor Michael Lambourne! You would take
Master Tressilian now for the most maid-like, modest, simpering
squire of dames that ever made love when candles were long i' the
stuff--snuff; call you it? Why, you would play the saint on us,
Master Tressilian, and forget that even now thou hast a commodity
in thy very bedchamber, to the shame of my lord's castle, ha!
ha! ha! Have I touched you, Master Tressilian?"
"I know not what you mean," said Tressilian, inferring, however,
too surely, that this licentious ruffian must have been sensible
of Amy's presence in his apartment; 'i but if," he continued,
"thou art varlet of the chambers, and lackest a fee, there is one
to leave mine unmolested."
Lambourne looked at the piece of gold, and put it in his pocket
saying, "Now, I know not but you might have done more with me by
a kind word than by this chiming rogue. But after all he pays
well that pays with gold; and Mike Lambourne was never a
makebate, or a spoil-sport, or the like. E'en live, and let
others live, that is my motto-only, I would not let some folks
cock their beaver at me neither, as if they were made of silver
ore, and I of Dutch pewter. So if I keep your secret, Master
Tressilian, you may look sweet on me at least; and were I to want
a little backing or countenance, being caught, as you see the
best of us may be, in a sort of peccadillo--why, you owe it me--
and so e'en make your chamber serve you and that same bird in
bower beside--it's all one to Mike Lambourne."
"Make way, sir," said Tressilian, unable to bridle his
indignation, "you have had your fee."
"Um!" said Lambourne, giving place, however, while he sulkily
muttered between his teeth, repeating Tressilian's words, "Make
way--and you have had your fee; but it matters not, I will spoil
no sport, as I said before. I am no dog in the manger--mind
He spoke louder and louder, as Tressilian, by whom he felt
himself overawed, got farther and farther out of hearing.
"I am no dog in the manger; but I will not carry coals neither--
mind that, Master Tressilian; and I will have a peep at this
wench whom you have quartered so commodiously in your old haunted
room--afraid of ghosts, belike, and not too willing to sleep
alone. If I had done this now in a strange lord's castle, the
word had been, The porter's lodge for the knave! and, have him
flogged--trundle him downstairs like a turnip! Ay, but your
virtuous gentlemen take strange privileges over us, who are
downright servants of our senses. Well--I have my Master
Tressilian's head under my belt by this lucky discovery, that is
one thing certain; and I will try to get a sight of this
Lindabrides of his, that is another."
Now fare thee well, my master--if true service
Be guerdon'd with hard looks, e'en cut the tow-line,
And let our barks across the pathless flood
Hold different courses-- THE SHIPWRECK.
Tressilian walked into the outer yard of the Castle scarce
knowing what to think of his late strange and most unexpected
interview with Amy Robsart, and dubious if he had done well,
being entrusted with the delegated authority of her father, to
pass his word so solemnly to leave her to her own guidance for so
many hours. Yet how could he have denied her request--dependent
as she had too probably rendered herself upon Varney? Such was
his natural reasoning. The happiness of her future life might
depend upon his not driving her to extremities; and since no
authority of Tressilian's could extricate her from the power of
Varney, supposing he was to acknowledge Amy to be his wife, what
title had he to destroy the hope of domestic peace, which might
yet remain to her, by setting enmity betwixt them? Tressilian
resolved, therefore, scrupulously to observe his word pledged to
Amy, both because it had been given, and because, as he still
thought, while he considered and reconsidered that extraordinary
interview, it could not with justice or propriety have been
In one respect, he had gained much towards securing effectual
protection for this unhappy and still beloved object of his early
affection. Amy was no longer mewed up in a distant and solitary
retreat under the charge of persons of doubtful reputation. She
was in the Castle of Kenilworth, within the verge of the Royal
Court for the time, free from all risk of violence, and liable to
be produced before Elizabeth on the first summons. These were
circumstances which could not but assist greatly the efforts
which he might have occasion to use in her behalf.
While he was thus balancing the advantages and perils which
attended her unexpected presence in Kenilworth, Tressilian was
hastily and anxiously accosted by Wayland, who, after
ejaculating, "Thank God, your worship is found at last!"
proceeded with breathless caution to pour into his ear the
intelligence that the lady had escaped from Cumnor Place.
"And is at present in this Castle," said Tressilian. "I know it,
and I have seen her. Was it by her own choice she found refuge
in my apartment?"
"No," answered Wayland; "but I could think of no other way of
safely bestowing her, and was but too happy to find a deputy-
usher who knew where you were quartered--in jolly society truly,
the hall on the one hand, and the kitchen on the other!"
"Peace, this is no time for jesting," answered Tressilian
"I wot that but too well," said the artist, "for I have felt
these three days as if I had a halter round my neck. This lady
knows not her own mind--she will have none of your aid--commands
you not to be named to her--and is about to put herself into the
hands of my Lord Leicester. I had never got her safe into your
chamber, had she known the owner of it."
"Is it possible"" said Tressilian. "But she may have hopes the
Earl will exert his influence in her favour over his villainous
"I know nothing of that," said Wayland; "but I believe, if she is
to reconcile herself with either Leicester or Varney, the side of
the Castle of Kenilworth which will be safest for us will be the
outside, from which we can fastest fly away. It is not my
purpose to abide an instant after delivery of the letter to
Leicester, which waits but your commands to find its way to him.
See, here it is--but no--a plague on it--I must have left it in
my dog-hole, in the hay-loft yonder, where I am to sleep."
"Death and fury!" said Tressilian, transported beyond his usual
patience; "thou hast not lost that on which may depend a stake
more important than a thousand such lives as thine?"
"Lost it!" answered Wayland readily; "that were a jest indeed!
No, sir, I have it carefully put up with my night-sack, and some
matters I have occasion to use; I will fetch it in an instant."
"Do so," said Tressilian; "be faithful, and thou shalt be well
rewarded. But if I have reason to suspect thee, a dead dog were
in better case than thou!"
Wayland bowed, and took his leave with seeming confidence and
alacrity, but, in fact, filled with the utmost dread and
confusion. The letter was lost, that was certain,
notwithstanding the apology which he had made to appease the
impatient displeasure of Tressilian. It was lost--it might fall
into wrong hands--it would then certainly occasion a discovery of
the whole intrigue in which he had been engaged; nor, indeed, did
Wayland see much prospect of its remaining concealed, in any
event. He felt much hurt, besides, at Tressilian's burst of
"Nay, if I am to be paid in this coin for services where my neck
is concerned, it is time I should look to myself. Here have I
offended, for aught I know, to the death, the lord of this
stately castle, whose word were as powerful to take away my life
as the breath which speaks it to blow out a farthing candle. And
all this for a mad lady, and a melancholy gallant, who, on the
loss of a four-nooked bit of paper, has his hand on his poignado,
and swears death and fury!--Then there is the Doctor and Varney.
--I will save myself from the whole mess of them. Life is dearer
than gold. I will fly this instant, though I leave my reward
These reflections naturally enough occurred to a mind like
Wayland's, who found himself engaged far deeper than he had
expected in a train of mysterious and unintelligible intrigues,
in which the actors seemed hardly to know their own course. And
yet, to do him justice, his personal fears were, in some degree,
counterbalanced by his compassion for the deserted state of the
"I care not a groat for Master Tressilian," he said; "I have done
more than bargain by him, and I have brought his errant-damosel
within his reach, so that he may look after her himself. But I
fear the poor thing is in much danger amongst these stormy
spirits. I will to her chamber, and tell her the fate which has
befallen her letter, that she may write another if she list. She
cannot lack a messenger, I trow, where there are so many lackeys
that can carry a letter to their lord. And I will tell her also
that I leave the Castle, trusting her to God, her own guidance,
and Master Tressilian's care and looking after. Perhaps she may
remember the ring she offered me--it was well earned, I trow; but
she is a lovely creature, and--marry hang the ring! I will not
bear a base spirit for the matter. If I fare ill in this world
for my good-nature, I shall have better chance in the next. So
now for the lady, and then for the road."
With the stealthy step and jealous eye of the cat that steals on
her prey, Wayland resumed the way to the Countess's chamber,
sliding along by the side of the courts and passages, alike
observant of all around him, and studious himself to escape
observation. In this manner he crossed the outward and inward
Castle yard, and the great arched passage, which, running betwixt
the range of kitchen offices and the hall, led to the bottom of
the little winding-stair that gave access to the chambers of
The artist congratulated himself on having escaped the various
perils of his journey, and was in the act of ascending by two
steps at once, when he observed that the shadow of a man, thrown
from a door which stood ajar, darkened the opposite wall of the
staircase. Wayland drew back cautiously, went down to the inner
courtyard, spent about a quarter of an hour, which seemed at
least quadruple its usual duration, in walking from place to
place, and then returned to the tower, in hopes to find that the
lurker had disappeared. He ascended as high as the suspicious
spot--there was no shadow on the wall; he ascended a few yards
farther--the door was still ajar, and he was doubtful whether to
advance or retreat, when it was suddenly thrown wide open, and
Michael Lambourne bolted out upon the astonished Wayland. "Who
the devil art thou? and what seekest thou in this part of the
Castle? march into that chamber, and be hanged to thee!"
"I am no dog, to go at every man's whistle," said the artist,
affecting a confidence which was belied by a timid shake in his
"Sayest thou me so?--Come hither, Lawrence Staples."
A huge, ill-made and ill-looked fellow, upwards of six feet high,
appeared at the door, and Lambourne proceeded: "If thou be'st so
fond of this tower, my friend, thou shalt see its foundations,
good twelve feet below the bed of the lake, and tenanted by
certain jolly toads, snakes, and so forth, which thou wilt find
mighty good company. Therefore, once more I ask you in fair
play, who thou art, and what thou seekest here?"
"If the dungeon-grate once clashes behind me," thought Wayland,
"I am a gone man." He therefore answered submissively, "He was
the poor juggler whom his honour had met yesterday in Weatherly
"And what juggling trick art thou playing in this tower? Thy
gang," said Lambourne, "lie over against Clinton's buildings."
"I came here to see my sister," said the juggler, "who is in
Master Tressilian's chamber, just above."
"Aha!" said Lambourne, smiling, "here be truths! Upon my
honour, for a stranger, this same Master Tressilian makes himself
at home among us, and furnishes out his cell handsomely, with all
sorts of commodities. This will be a precious tale of the
sainted Master Tressilian, and will be welcome to some folks, as
a purse of broad pieces to me.--Hark ye, fellow," he continued,
addressing Wayland, "thou shalt not give Puss a hint to steal
away we must catch her in her form. So, back with that pitiful
sheep-biting visage of thine, or I will fling thee from the
window of the tower, and try if your juggling skill can save your
"Your worship will not be so hardhearted, I trust," said Wayland;
"poor folk must live. I trust your honour will allow me to speak
with my sister?"
"Sister on Adam's side, I warrant," said Lambourne; "or, if
otherwise, the more knave thou. But sister or no sister. thou
diest on point of fox, if thou comest a-prying to this tower once
more. And now I think of it--uds daggers and death!--I will see
thee out of the Castle, for this is a more main concern than thy
"But, please your worship," said Wayland, "I am to enact Arion in
the pageant upon the lake this very evening."
"I will act it myself by Saint Christopher!" said Lambourne.
"Orion, callest thou him?--I will act Orion, his belt and his
seven stars to boot. Come along, for a rascal knave as thou art
--follow me! Or stay--Lawrence, do thou bring him along."
Lawrence seized by the collar of the cloak the unresisting
juggler; while Lambourne, with hasty steps, led the way to that
same sallyport, or secret postern, by which Tressilian had
returned to the Castle, and which opened in the western wall at
no great distance from Mervyn's Tower.
While traversing with a rapid foot the space betwixt the tower
and the sallyport, Wayland in vain racked his brain for some
device which might avail the poor lady, for whom, notwithstanding
his own imminent danger, he felt deep interest. But when he was
thrust out of the Castle, and informed by Lambourne, with a
tremendous oath, that instant death would be the consequence of
his again approaching it, he cast up his hands and eyes to
heaven, as if to call God to witness he had stood to the
uttermost in defence of the oppressed; then turned his back on
the proud towers of Kenilworth, and went his way to seek a
humbler and safer place of refuge.
Lawrence and Lambourne gazed a little while after Wayland, and
then turned to go back to their tower, when the former thus
addressed his companion: "Never credit me, Master Lambourne, if
I can guess why thou hast driven this poor caitiff from the
Castle, just when he was to bear a part in the show that was
beginning, and all this about a wench,"
"Ah, Lawrence," replied Lambourne, "thou art thinking of Black
Joan Jugges of Slingdon, and hast sympathy with human frailty.
But, corragio, most noble Duke of the Dungeon and Lord of Limbo,
for thou art as dark in this matter as thine own dominions of
Little-ease. My most reverend Signior of the Low Countries of
Kenilworth, know that our most notable master, Richard Varney,
would give as much to have a hole in this same Tressilian's coat,
as would make us some fifty midnight carousals, with the full
leave of bidding the steward go snick up, if he came to startle
us too soon from our goblets."
"Nay, an that be the case, thou hast right," said Lawrence
Staples, the upper-warder, or, in common phrase, the first
jailer, of Kenilworth Castle, and of the Liberty and Honour
belonging thereto. "But how will you manage when you are absent
at the Queen's entrance, Master Lambourne; for methinks thou must
attend thy master there?"
"Why thou, mine honest prince of prisons, must keep ward in my
absence. Let Tressilian enter if he will, but see thou let no
one come out. If the damsel herself would make a break, as 'tis
not unlike she may, scare her back with rough words; she is but a
paltry player's wench after all."
"Nay for that matter," said Lawrence, "I might shut the iron
wicket upon her that stands without the double door, and so force
per force she will be bound to her answer without more trouble."
"Then Tressilian will not get access to her," said Lambourne,
reflecting a moment. "But 'tis no matter; she will be detected
in his chamber, and that is all one. But confess, thou old
bat's-eyed dungeon-keeper, that you fear to keep awake by
yourself in that Mervyn's Tower of thine?"
"Why, as to fear, Master Lambourne," said the fellow, "I mind it
not the turning of a key; but strange things have been heard and
seen in that tower. You must have heard, for as short time as
you have been in Kenilworth, that it is haunted by the spirit of
Arthur ap Mervyn, a wild chief taken by fierce Lord Mortimer when
he was one of the Lords Marchers of Wales, and murdered, as they
say, in that same tower which bears his name."
"Oh, I have heard the tale five hundred times," said Lambourne,
"and how the ghost is always most vociferous when they boil leeks
and stirabout, or fry toasted cheese, in the culinary regions.
Santo Diavolo, man, hold thy tongue, I know all about it!"
"Ay, but thou dost not, though," said the turnkey, " for as wise
as thou wouldst make thyself. Ah, it is an awful thing to murder
a prisoner in his ward!--you that may have given a man a stab in
a dark street know nothing of it. To give a mutinous fellow a
knock on the head with the keys, and bid him be quiet, that's
what I call keeping order in the ward; but to draw weapon and
slay him, as was done to this Welsh lord, THAT raises you a ghost
that will render your prison-house untenantable by any decent
captive for some hundred years. And I have that regard for my
prisoners, poor things, that I have put good squires and men of
worship, that have taken a ride on the highway, or slandered my
Lord of Leicester, or the like, fifty feet under ground, rather
than I would put them into that upper chamber yonder that they
call Mervyn's Bower. Indeed, by good Saint Peter of the Fetters,
I marvel my noble lord, or Master Varney, could think of lodging
guests there; and if this Master Tressilian could get any one to
keep him company, and in especial a pretty wench, why, truly, I
think he was in the right on't."
"I tell thee," said Lambourne, leading the way into the turnkey's
apartment, "thou art an ass. Go bolt the wicket on the stair,
and trouble not thy noddle about ghosts. Give me the wine stoup,
man; I am somewhat heated with chafing with yonder rascal."
While Lambourne drew a long draught from a pitcher of claret,
which he made use of without any cup, the warder went on,
vindicating his own belief in the supernatural.
"Thou hast been few hours in this Castle, and hast been for the
whole space so drunk, Lambourne, that thou art deaf, dumb, and
blind. But we should hear less of your bragging were you to pass
a night with us at full moon; for then the ghost is busiest, and
more especially when a rattling wind sets in from the north-west,
with some sprinkling of rain, and now and then a growl of
thunder. Body o' me, what crackings and clashings, what
groanings and what howlings, will there be at such times in
Mervyn's Bower, right as it were over our heads, till the matter
of two quarts of distilled waters has not been enough to keep my
lads and me in some heart!"
"Pshaw, man!" replied Lambourne, on whom his last draught,
joined to repeated visitations of the pitcher upon former
occasions, began to make some innovation, "thou speakest thou
knowest not what about spirits. No one knows justly what to say
about them; and, in short, least said may in that matter be
soonest amended. Some men believe in one thing, some in another
--it is all matter of fancy. I have known them of all sorts, my
dear Lawrence Lock-the-door, and sensible men too. There's a
great lord--we'll pass his name, Lawrence--he believes in the
stars and the moon, the planets and their courses, and so forth,
and that they twinkle exclusively for his benefit, when in sober,
or rather in drunken truth, Lawrence, they are only shining to
keep honest fellows like me out of the kennel. Well, sir, let
his humour pass; he is great enough to indulge it. Then, look
ye, there is another--a very learned man, I promise you, and can
vent Greek and Hebrew as fast as I can Thieves' Latin he has an
humour of sympathies and antipathies--of changing lead into gold,
and the like; why, via, let that pass too, and let him pay those
in transmigrated coin who are fools enough to let it be current
with them. Then here comest thou thyself, another great man,
though neither learned nor noble, yet full six feet high, and
thou, like a purblind mole, must needs believe in ghosts and
goblins, and such like. Now, there is, besides, a great man--
that is, a great little man, or a little great man, my dear
Lawrence--and his name begins with V, and what believes he? Why,
nothing, honest Lawrence--nothing in earth, heaven, or hell; and
for my part, if I believe there is a devil, it is only because I
think there must be some one to catch our aforesaid friend by the
back 'when soul and body sever,' as the ballad says; for your
antecedent will have a consequent--RARO ANTECEDENTEM, as Doctor
Bircham was wont to say. But this is Greek to you now, honest
Lawrence, and in sooth learning is dry work. Hand me the pitcher
"In faith, if you drink more, Michael," said the warder, "you
will be in sorry case either to play Arion or to wait on your
master on such a solemn night; and I expect each moment to hear
the great bell toll for the muster at Mortimer's Tower, to
receive the Queen."
While Staples remonstrated, Lambourne drank; and then setting
down the pitcher, which was nearly emptied, with a deep sigh, he
said, in an undertone, which soon rose to a high one as his
speech proceeded, "Never mind, Lawrence; if I be drunk, I know
that shall make Varney uphold me sober. But, as I said, never
mind; I can carry my drink discreetly. Moreover, I am to go on
the water as Orion, and shall take cold unless I take something
comfortable beforehand. Not play Orion? Let us see the best
roarer that ever strained his lungs for twelve pence out-mouth
me! What if they see me a little disguised? Wherefore should
any man be sober to-night? answer me that. It is matter of
loyalty to be merry; and I tell thee there are those in the
Castle who, if they are not merry when drunk, have little chance
to be merry when sober--I name no names, Lawrence. But your
pottle of sack is a fine shoeing-horn to pull on a loyal humour,
and a merry one. Huzza for Queen Elizabeth!--for the noble
Leicester!--for the worshipful Master Varney!--and for Michael
Lambourne, that can turn them all round his finger!"
So saying, he walked downstairs, and across the inner court.
The warder looked after him, shook his head, and while he drew
close and locked a wicket, which, crossing the staircase,
rendered it impossible for any one to ascend higher than the
story immediately beneath Mervyn's Bower, as Tressilian's chamber
was named, he thus soliloquized with himself--"It's a good thing
to be a favourite. I well-nigh lost mine office, because one
frosty morning Master Varney thought I smelled of aqua vitae; and
this fellow can appear before him drunk as a wineskin, and yet
meet no rebuke. But then he is a pestilent clever fellow withal,
and no one can understand above one half of what he says."
Now bid the steeple rock--she comes, she comes!--
Speak for us, bells--speak for us, shrill-tongued tuckets.
Stand to thy linstock, gunner; let thy cannon
Play such a peal, as if a paynim foe
Came stretch'd in turban'd ranks to storm the ramparts.
We will have pageants too--but that craves wit,
And I'm a rough-hewn soldier. THE VIRGIN QUEEN--A TRAGI-COMEDY.
Tressilian, when Wayland had left him, as mentioned in the last
chapter, remained uncertain what he ought next to do, when
Raleigh and Blount came up to him arm in arm, yet, according to
their wont, very eagerly disputing together. Tressilian had no
great desire for their society in the present state of his
feelings, but there was no possibility of avoiding them; and
indeed he felt that, bound by his promise not to approach Amy, or
take any step in her behalf, it would be his best course at once
to mix with general society, and to exhibit on his brow as little
as he could of the anguish and uncertainty which sat heavy at his
heart. He therefore made a virtue of necessity, and hailed his
comrades with, "All mirth to you, gentlemen! Whence come ye?"
"From Warwick, to be sure," said Blount; "we must needs home to
change our habits, like poor players, who are fain to multiply
their persons to outward appearance by change of suits; and you
had better do the like, Tressilian."
"Blount is right," said Raleigh; "the Queen loves such marks of
deference, and notices, as wanting in respect, those who, not
arriving in her immediate attendance, may appear in their soiled
and ruffled riding-dress. But look at Blount himself,
Tressilian, for the love of laughter, and see how his villainous
tailor hath apparelled him--in blue, green, and crimson, with
carnation ribbons, and yellow roses in his shoes!"
"Why, what wouldst thou have?" said Blount. "I told the cross-
legged thief to do his best, and spare no cost; and methinks
these things are gay enough--gayer than thine own. I'll be
judged by Tressilian."
"I agree--I agree," said Walter Raleigh. "Judge betwixt us,
Tressilian, for the love of heaven!"
Tressilian, thus appealed to, looked at them both, and was
immediately sensible at a single glance that honest Blount had
taken upon the tailor's warrant the pied garments which he had
chosen to make, and was as much embarrassed by the quantity of
points and ribbons which garnished his dress, as a clown is in
his holiday clothes; while the dress of Raleigh was a well-
fancied and rich suit, which the wearer bore as a garb too well
adapted to his elegant person to attract particular attention.
Tressilian said, therefore, "That Blount's dress was finest, but
Raleigh's the best fancied."
Blount was satisfied with his decision. "I knew mine was
finest," he said; "if that knave Doublestitch had brought me home
such a simple doublet as that of Raleigh's, I would have beat his
brains out with his own pressing-iron. Nay, if we must be fools,
ever let us be fools of the first head, say I."
"But why gettest thou not on thy braveries, Tressilian?" said
"I am excluded from my apartment by a silly mistake," said
Tressilian, "and separated for the time from my baggage. I was
about to seek thee, to beseech a share of thy lodging."
"And welcome," said Raleigh; "it is a noble one. My Lord of
Leicester has done us that kindness, and lodged us in princely
fashion. If his courtesy be extorted reluctantly, it is at least
extended far. I would advise you to tell your strait to the
Earl's chamberlain--you will have instant redress."
"Nay, it is not worth while, since you can spare me room,"
replied Tressilian--"I would not be troublesome. Has any one
come hither with you?"
"Oh, ay," said Blount; "Varney and a whole tribe of Leicestrians,
besides about a score of us honest Sussex folk. We are all, it
seems, to receive the Queen at what they call the Gallery-tower,
and witness some fooleries there; and then we're to remain in
attendance upon the Queen in the Great Hall--God bless the mark!
--while those who are now waiting upon her Grace get rid of their
slough, and doff their riding-suits. Heaven help me, if her
Grace should speak to me, I shall never know what to answer!"
"And what has detained them so long at Warwick?" said
Tressilian, unwilling that their conversation should return to
his own affairs.
"Such a succession of fooleries," said Blount, "as were never
seen at Bartholomew-fair. We have had speeches and players, and
dogs and bears, and men making monkeys and women moppets of
themselves--I marvel the Queen could endure it. But ever and
anon came in something of 'the lovely light of her gracious
countenance,' or some such trash. Ah! vanity makes a fool of
the wisest. But come, let us on to this same Gallery-tower--
though I see not what thou Tressilian, canst do with thy riding-
dress and boots."
"I will take my station behind thee, Blount," said Tressilian,
who saw that his friend's unusual finery had taken a strong hold
of his imagination; "thy goodly size and gay dress will cover my
"And so thou shalt, Edmund," said Blount. "In faith I am glad
thou thinkest my garb well-fancied, for all Mr. Wittypate here;
for when one does a foolish thing, it is right to do it
So saying, Blount cocked his beaver, threw out his leg, and
marched manfully forward, as if at the head of his brigade of
pikemen, ever and anon looking with complaisance on his crimson
stockings, and the huge yellow roses which blossomed on his
shoes. Tressilian followed, wrapt in his own sad thoughts, and
scarce minding Raleigh, whose quick fancy, amused by the awkward
vanity of his respectable friend, vented itself in jests, which
he whispered into Tressilian's ear.
In this manner they crossed the long bridge, or tilt-yard, and
took their station, with other gentlemen of quality, before the
outer gate of the Gallery, or Entrance-tower. The whole amounted
to about forty persons, all selected as of the first rank under
that of knighthood, and were disposed in double rows on either
side of the gate, like a guard of honour, within the close hedge
of pikes and partisans which was formed by Leicester's retainers,
wearing his liveries. The gentlemen carried no arms save their
swords and daggers. These gallants were as gaily dressed as
imagination could devise; and as the garb of the time permitted a
great display of expensive magnificence, nought was to be seen
but velvet and cloth of gold and silver, ribbons, leathers, gems,
and golden chains. In spite of his more serious subjects of
distress, Tressilian could not help feeling that he, with his
riding-suit, however handsome it might be, made rather an
unworthy figure among these "fierce vanities," and the rather
because he saw that his deshabille was the subject of wonder
among his own friends, and of scorn among the partisans of
We could not suppress this fact, though it may seem something at
variance with the gravity of Tressilian's character; but the
truth is, that a regard for personal appearance is a species of
self-love, from which the wisest are not exempt, and to which the
mind clings so instinctively that not only the soldier advancing
to almost inevitable death, but even the doomed criminal who goes
to certain execution, shows an anxiety to array his person to the
best advantage. But this is a digression.
It was the twilight of a summer night (9th July, 1575), the sun
having for some time set, and all were in anxious expectation of
the Queen's immediate approach. The multitude had remained
assembled for many hours, and their numbers were still rather on
the increase. A profuse distribution of refreshments, together
with roasted oxen, and barrels of ale set a-broach in different
places of the road, had kept the populace in perfect love and
loyalty towards the Queen and her favourite, which might have
somewhat abated had fasting been added to watching. They passed
away the time, therefore, with the usual popular amusements of
whooping, hallooing, shrieking, and playing rude tricks upon each
other, forming the chorus of discordant sounds usual on such
occasions. These prevailed all through the crowded roads and
fields, and especially beyond the gate of the Chase, where the
greater number of the common sort were stationed; when, all of a
sudden, a single rocket was seen to shoot into the atmosphere,
and, at the instant, far heard over flood and field, the great
bell of the Castle tolled.
Immediately there was a pause of dead silence, succeeded by a
deep hum of expectation, the united voice of many thousands, none
of whom spoke above their breath--or, to use a singular
expression, the whisper of an immense multitude.
"They come now, for certain," said Raleigh. "Tressilian, that
sound is grand. We hear it from this distance as mariners, after
a long voyage, hear, upon their night-watch, the tide rush upon
some distant and unknown shore."
"Mass!" answered Blount, "I hear it rather as I used to hear
mine own kine lowing from the close of Wittenswestlowe."
"He will assuredly graze presently," said Raleigh to Tressilian;
"his thought is all of fat oxen and fertile meadows. He grows
little better than one of his own beeves, and only becomes grand
when he is provoked to pushing and goring."
"We shall have him at that presently," said Tressilian, "if you
spare not your wit."
"Tush, I care not," answered Raleigh; "but thou too, Tressilian,
hast turned a kind of owl, that flies only by night--hast
exchanged thy songs for screechings, and good company for an ivy-
"But what manner of animal art thou thyself, Raleigh," said
Tressilian, "that thou holdest us all so lightly?"
"Who--I?" replied Raleigh. "An eagle am I, that never will
think of dull earth while there is a heaven to soar in, and a sun
to gaze upon."
"Well bragged, by Saint Barnaby!" said Blount; "but, good Master
Eagle, beware the cage, and beware the fowler. Many birds have
flown as high that I have seen stuffed with straw and hung up to
scare kites.--But hark, what a dead silence hath fallen on them
"The procession pauses," said Raleigh, "at the gate of the Chase,
where a sibyl, one of the FATIDICAE, meets the Queen, to tell her
fortune. I saw the verses; there is little savour in them, and
her Grace has been already crammed full with such poetical
compliments. She whispered to me, during the Recorder's speech
yonder, at Ford-mill, as she entered the liberties of Warwick,
how she was 'PERTAESA BARBARAE LOQUELAE.'"
"The Queen whispered to HIM!" said Blount, in a kind of
soliloquy; "Good God, to what will this world come!"
His further meditations were interrupted by a shout of applause
from the multitude, so tremendously vociferous that the country
echoed for miles round. The guards, thickly stationed upon the
road by which the Queen was to advance, caught up the
acclamation, which ran like wildfire to the Castle, and announced
to all within that Queen Elizabeth had entered the Royal Chase of
Kenilworth. The whole music of the Castle sounded at once, and a
round of artillery, with a salvo of small arms, was discharged
from the battlements; but the noise of drums and trumpets, and
even of the cannon themselves, was but faintly heard amidst the
roaring and reiterated welcomes of the multitude.
As the noise began to abate, a broad glare of light was seen to
appear from the gate of the Park, and broadening and brightening
as it came nearer, advanced along the open and fair avenue that
led towards the Gallery-tower; and which, as we have already
noticed, was lined on either hand by the retainers of the Earl of
Leicester. The word was passed along the line, "The Queen! The
Queen! Silence, and stand fast!" Onward came the cavalcade,
illuminated by two hundred thick waxen torches, in the hands of
as many horsemen, which cast a light like that of broad day all
around the procession, but especially on the principal group, of
which the Queen herself, arrayed in the most splendid manner, and
blazing with jewels, formed the central figure. She was mounted
on a milk-white horse, which she reined with peculiar grace and
dignity; and in the whole of her stately and noble carriage you
saw the daughter of an hundred kings.
The ladies of the court, who rode beside her Majesty, had taken
especial care that their own external appearance should not be
more glorious than their rank and the occasion altogether
demanded, so that no inferior luminary might appear to approach
the orbit of royalty. But their personal charms, and the
magnificence by which, under every prudential restraint, they
were necessarily distinguished, exhibited them as the very flower
of a realm so far famed for splendour and beauty. The
magnificence of the courtiers, free from such restraints as
prudence imposed on the ladies, was yet more unbounded.
Leicester, who glittered like a golden image with jewels and
cloth of gold, rode on her Majesty's right hand, as well in
quality of her host as of her master of the horse. The black
steed which he mounted had not a single white hair on his body,
and was one of the most renowned chargers in Europe, having been
purchased by the Earl at large expense for this royal occasion.
As the noble animal chafed at the slow pace of the procession,
and, arching his stately neck, champed on the silver bits which
restrained him, the foam flew from his mouth, and speckled his
well-formed limbs as if with spots of snow. The rider well
became the high place which he held, and the proud steed which he
bestrode; for no man in England, or perhaps in Europe, was more
perfect than Dudley in horsemanship, and all other exercises
belonging to his quality. He was bareheaded as were all the
courtiers in the train; and the red torchlight shone upon his
long, curled tresses of dark hair, and on his noble features, to
the beauty of which even the severest criticism could only object
the lordly fault, as it may be termed, of a forehead somewhat too
high. On that proud evening those features wore all the grateful
solicitude of a subject, to show himself sensible of the high
honour which the Queen was conferring on him, and all the pride
and satisfaction which became so glorious a moment. Yet, though
neither eye nor feature betrayed aught but feelings which suited
the occasion, some of the Earl's personal attendants remarked
that he was unusually pale, and they expressed to each other
their fear that he was taking more fatigue than consisted with
Varney followed close behind his master, as the principal esquire
in waiting, and had charge of his lordship's black velvet bonnet,
garnished with a clasp of diamonds and surmounted by a white
plume. He kept his eye constantly on his master, and, for
reasons with which the reader is not unacquainted, was, among
Leicester's numerous dependants, the one who was most anxious
that his lord's strength and resolution should carry him
successfully through a day so agitating. For although Varney was
one of the few, the very few moral monsters who contrive to lull
to sleep the remorse of their own bosoms, and are drugged into
moral insensibility by atheism, as men in extreme agony are
lulled by opium, yet he knew that in the breast of his patron
there was already awakened the fire that is never quenched, and
that his lord felt, amid all the pomp and magnificence we have
described, the gnawing of the worm that dieth not. Still,
however, assured as Lord Leicester stood, by Varney's own
intelligence, that his Countess laboured under an indisposition
which formed an unanswerable apology to the Queen for her not
appearing at Kenilworth, there was little danger, his wily
retainer thought, that a man so ambitious would betray himself by
giving way to any external weakness.
The train, male and female, who attended immediately upon the
Queen's person, were, of course, of the bravest and the fairest
--the highest born nobles, and the wisest counsellors, of that
distinguished reign, to repeat whose names were but to weary the
reader. Behind came a long crowd of knights and gentlemen, whose
rank and birth, however distinguished, were thrown into shade, as
their persons into the rear of a procession whose front was of
such august majesty.
Thus marshalled, the cavalcade approached the Gallery-tower,
which formed, as we have often observed, the extreme barrier of
It was now the part of the huge porter to step forward; but the
lubbard was so overwhelmed with confusion of spirit--the contents
of one immense black jack of double ale, which he had just drunk
to quicken his memory, having treacherously confused the brain it
was intended to clear--that he only groaned piteously, and
remained sitting on his stone seat; and the Queen would have
passed on without greeting, had not the gigantic warder's secret
ally, Flibbertigibbet, who lay perdue behind him, thrust a pin
into the rear of the short femoral garment which we elsewhere
The porter uttered a sort of yell, which came not amiss into his
part, started up with his club, and dealt a sound douse or two on
each side of him; and then, like a coach-horse pricked by the
spur, started off at once into the full career of his address,
and by dint of active prompting on the part of Dickie Sludge,
delivered, in sounds of gigantic intonation, a speech which may
be thus abridged--the reader being to suppose that the first
lines were addressed to the throng who approached the gateway;
the conclusion, at the approach of the Queen, upon sight of whom,
as struck by some heavenly vision, the gigantic warder dropped
his club, resigned his keys, and gave open way to the Goddess of
the night, and all her magnificent train.
"What stir, what turmoil, have we for the nones?
Stand back, my masters, or beware your bones!
Sirs, I'm a warder, and no man of straw,
My voice keeps order, and my club gives law.
Yet soft--nay, stay--what vision have we here?
What dainty darling's this--what peerless peer?
What loveliest face, that loving ranks unfold,
Like brightest diamond chased in purest gold?
Dazzled and blind, mine office I forsake,
My club, my key, my knee, my homage take.
Bright paragon, pass on in joy and bliss;--
Beshrew the gate that opes not wide at such a sight as this!"
[This is an imitation of Gascoigne's verses spoken by the
Herculean porter, as mentioned in the text. The original may be
found in the republication of the Princely Pleasures of
Kenilworth, by the same author, in the History of Kenilworth
already quoted. Chiswick, 1821.]
Elizabeth received most graciously the homage of the Herculean
porter, and, bending her head to him in requital, passed through
his guarded tower, from the top of which was poured a clamorous
blast of warlike music, which was replied to by other bands of
minstrelsy placed at different points on the Castle walls, and by
others again stationed in the Chase; while the tones of the one,
as they yet vibrated on the echoes, were caught up and answered
by new harmony from different quarters.
Amidst these bursts of music, which, as if the work of
enchantment, seemed now close at hand, now softened by distant
space, now wailing so low and sweet as if that distance were
gradually prolonged until only the last lingering strains could
reach the ear, Queen Elizabeth crossed the Gallery-tower, and
came upon the long bridge, which extended from thence to
Mortimer's Tower, and which was already as light as day, so many
torches had been fastened to the palisades on either side. Most
of the nobles here alighted, and sent their horses to the
neighbouring village of Kenilworth, following the Queen on foot,
as did the gentlemen who had stood in array to receive her at the
On this occasion, as at different times during the evening,
Raleigh addressed himself to Tressilian, and was not a little
surprised at his vague and unsatisfactory answers; which, joined
to his leaving his apartment without any assigned reason,
appearing in an undress when it was likely to be offensive to the
Queen, and some other symptoms of irregularity which he thought
he discovered, led him to doubt whether his friend did not labour
under some temporary derangement.
Meanwhile, the Queen had no sooner stepped on the bridge than a
new spectacle was provided; for as soon as the music gave signal
that she was so far advanced, a raft, so disposed as to resemble
a small floating island, illuminated by a great variety of
torches, and surrounded by floating pageants formed to represent
sea-horses, on which sat Tritons, Nereids, and other fabulous
deities of the seas and rivers, made its appearance upon the
lake, and issuing from behind a small heronry where it had been
concealed, floated gently towards the farther end of the bridge.
On the islet appeared a beautiful woman, clad in a watchet-
coloured silken mantle, bound with a broad girdle inscribed with
characters like the phylacteries of the Hebrews. Her feet and
arms were bare, but her wrists and ankles were adorned with gold
bracelets of uncommon size. Amidst her long, silky black hair
she wore a crown or chaplet of artificial mistletoe, and bore in
her hand a rod of ebony tipped with silver. Two Nymphs attended
on her, dressed in the same antique and mystical guise.
The pageant was so well managed that this Lady of the Floating
Island, having performed her voyage with much picturesque effect,
landed at Mortimer's Tower with her two attendants just as
Elizabeth presented herself before that outwork. The stranger
then, in a well-penned speech, announced herself as that famous
Lady of the Lake renowned in the stories of King Arthur, who had
nursed the youth of the redoubted Sir Lancelot, and whose beauty
'had proved too powerful both for the wisdom and the spells of
the mighty Merlin. Since that early period she had remained
possessed of her crystal dominions, she said, despite the various
men of fame and might by whom Kenilworth had been successively
tenanted. 'The Saxons, the Danes, the Normans, the Saintlowes,
the Clintons, the Montforts, the Mortimers, the Plantagenets,
great though they were in arms and magnificence, had never, she
said, caused her to raise her head from the waters which hid her
crystal palace. But a greater than all these great names had now
appeared, and she came in homage and duty to welcome the peerless
Elizabeth to all sport which the Castle and its environs, which
lake or land, could afford.
The Queen received this address also with great courtesy, and
made answer in raillery, "We thought this lake had belonged to
our own dominions, fair dame; but since so famed a lady claims it
for hers, we will be glad at some other time to have further
communing with you touching our joint interests."
With this gracious answer the Lady of the Lake vanished, and
Arion, who was amongst the maritime deities, appeared upon his
dolphin. But Lambourne, who had taken upon him the part in the
absence of Wayland, being chilled with remaining immersed in an
element to which he was not friendly, having never got his speech
by heart, and not having, like the porter, the advantage of a
prompter, paid it off with impudence, tearing off his vizard, and
swearing, "Cogs bones! he was none of Arion or Orion either, but
honest Mike Lambourne, that had been drinking her Majesty's
health from morning till midnight, and was come to bid her
heartily welcome to Kenilworth Castle."
This unpremeditated buffoonery answered the purpose probably
better than the set speech would have done. The Queen laughed
heartily, and swore (in her turn) that he had made the best
speech she had heard that day. Lambourne, who instantly saw his
jest had saved his bones, jumped on shore, gave his dolphin a
kick, and declared he would never meddle with fish again, except
At the same time that the Queen was about to enter the Castle,
that memorable discharge of fireworks by water and land took
place, which Master Laneham, formerly introduced to the reader,
has strained all his eloquence to describe.
"Such," says the Clerk of the Council-chamber door "was the blaze
of burning darts, the gleams of stars coruscant, the streams and
hail of fiery sparks, lightnings of wildfire, and flight-shot of
thunderbolts, with continuance, terror, and vehemency, that the
heavens thundered, the waters surged, and the earth shook; and
for my part, hardy as I am, it made me very vengeably afraid."
[See Laneham's Account of the Queen's Entertainment at
Killingworth Castle, in 1575, a very diverting tract, written by
as great a coxcomb as ever blotted paper. [See Note 6] The
original is extremely rare, but it has been twice reprinted; once
in Mr. Nichols's very curious and interesting collection of the
Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, vol.i. and
more lately in a beautiful antiquarian publication, termed
KENILWORTH ILLUSTRATED, printed at Chiswick, for Meridew of
Coventry and Radcliffe of Birmingham. It contains reprints of
Laneham's Letter, Gascoigne's PrinceIy Progress, and other scarce
pieces, annotated with accuracy and ability. The author takes
the liberty to refer to this work as his authority for the
account of the festivities.
I am indebted for a curious ground-plan of the Castle of
Kenilworth, as it existed in Queen Elizabeth's time, to the
voluntary kindness of Richard Badnall Esq. of Olivebank, near
Liverpool. From his obliging communication, I learn that the
original sketch was found among the manuscripts of the celebrated
J. J. Rousseau, when he left England. These were entrusted by
the philosopher to the care of his friend Mr. Davenport, and
passed from his legatee into the possession of Mr. Badnall.]
Nay, this is matter for the month of March,
When hares are maddest. Either speak in reason,
Giving cold argument the wall of passion,
Or I break up the court. BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.
It is by no means our purpose to detail minutely all the princely
festivities of Kenilworth, after the fashion of Master Robert
Laneham, whom we quoted in the conclusion of the last chapter.
It is sufficient to say that under discharge of the splendid
fireworks, which we have borrowed Laneham's eloquence to
describe, the Queen entered the base-court of Kenilworth, through
Mortimer's Tower, and moving on through pageants of heathen gods
and heroes of antiquity, who offered gifts and compliments on the
bended knee, at length found her way to the Great Hall of the
Castle, gorgeously hung for her reception with the richest silken
tapestry, misty with perfumes, and sounding to strains of soft
and delicious music. From the highly-carved oaken roof hung a
superb chandelier of gilt bronze, formed like a spread eagle,
whose outstretched wings supported three male and three female
figures, grasping a pair of branches in each hand. The Hall was
thus illuminated by twenty-four torches of wax. At the upper end
of the splendid apartment was a state canopy, overshadowing a
royal throne, and beside it was a door, which opened to a long
suite of apartments, decorated with the utmost magnificence for
the Queen and her ladies, whenever it should be her pleasure to
The Earl of Leicester having handed the Queen up to her throne,
and seated her there, knelt down before her, and kissing the hand
which she held out, with an air in which romantic and respectful
gallantry was happily mingled with the air of loyal devotion, he
thanked her, in terms of the deepest gratitude, for the highest
honour which a sovereign could render to a subject. So handsome
did he look when kneeling before her, that Elizabeth was tempted
to prolong the scene a little longer than there was, strictly
speaking, necessity for; and ere she raised him, she passed her
hand over his head, so near as almost to touch his long, curled,
and perfumed hair, and with a movement of fondness that seemed to
intimate she would, if she dared, have made the motion a slight
[To justify what may be considered as a high-coloured picture,
the author quotes the original of the courtly and shrewd Sir
James Melville, being then Queen Mary's envoy at the court of
"I was required," says Sir James, "to stay till I had seen him
made Earle of Leicester, and Baron of Denbigh, with great
solemnity; herself (Elizabeth) helping to put on his ceremonial,
he sitting on his knees before her, keeping a great gravity and a
discreet behaviour; but she could not refrain from putting her
hand to his neck to kittle (i.e., tickle) him, smilingly, the
French Ambassador and I standing beside her."--MELVILLE'S
MEMOIRS, BANNATYNE EDITION, p. 120.]
She at length raised him, and standing beside the throne, he
explained to her the various preparations which had been made for
her amusement and accommodation, all of which received her prompt
and gracious approbation. The Earl then prayed her Majesty for
permission that he himself, and the nobles who had been in
attendance upon her during the journey, might retire for a few
minutes, and put themselves into a guise more fitting for dutiful
attendance, during which space those gentlemen of worship
(pointing to Varney, Blount, Tressilian, and others), who had
already put themselves into fresh attire, would have the honour
of keeping her presence-chamber.
"Be it so, my lord," answered the Queen; "you could manage a
theatre well, who can thus command a double set of actors. For
ourselves, we will receive your courtesies this evening but
clownishly, since it is not our purpose to change our riding
attire, being in effect something fatigued with a journey which
the concourse of our good people hath rendered slow, though the
love they have shown our person hath, at the same time, made it
Leicester, having received this permission, retired accordingly,
and was followed by those nobles who had attended the Queen to
Kenilworth in person. The gentlemen who had preceded them, and
were, of course, dressed for the solemnity, remained in
attendance. But being most of them of rather inferior rank, they
remained at an awful distance from the throne which Elizabeth
occupied. The Queen's sharp eye soon distinguished Raleigh
amongst them, with one or two others who were personally known to
her, and she instantly made them a sign to approach, and accosted
them very graciously. Raleigh, in particular, the adventure of
whose cloak, as well as the incident of the verses, remained on
her mind, was very graciously received; and to him she most
frequently applied for information concerning the names and rank
of those who were in presence. These he communicated concisely,
and not without some traits of humorous satire, by which
Elizabeth seemed much amused. "And who is yonder clownish
fellow?" she said, looking at Tressilian, whose soiled dress on
this occasion greatly obscured his good mien.
"A poet, if it please your Grace," replied Raleigh.
"I might have guessed that from his careless garb," said
Elizabeth. "I have known some poets so thoughtless as to throw
their cloaks into gutters."
"It must have been when the sun dazzled both their eyes and their
judgment," answered Raleigh.
Elizabeth smiled, and proceeded, "I asked that slovenly fellow's
name, and you only told me his profession."
"Tressilian is his name," said Raleigh, with internal reluctance,
for he foresaw nothing favourable to his friend from the manner
in which she took notice of him.
"Tressilian!" answered Elizabeth. "Oh, the Menelaus of our
romance. Why, he has dressed himself in a guise that will go far
to exculpate his fair and false Helen. And where is Farnham, or
whatever his name is--my Lord of Leicester's man, I mean--the
Paris of this Devonshire tale?"
With still greater reluctance Raleigh named and pointed out to
her Varney, for whom the tailor had done all that art could
perform in making his exterior agreeable; and who, if he had not
grace, had a sort of tact and habitual knowledge of breeding,
which came in place of it.
The Queen turned her eyes from the one to the other. "I doubt,"
she said, "this same poetical Master Tressilian, who is too
learned, I warrant me, to remember whose presence he was to
appear in, may be one of those of whom Geoffrey Chaucer says
wittily, the wisest clerks are not the wisest men. I remember
that Varney is a smooth-tongued varlet. I doubt this fair
runaway hath had reasons for breaking her faith."
To this Raleigh durst make no answer, aware how little he should
benefit Tressilian by contradicting the Queen's sentiments, and
not at all certain, on the whole, whether the best thing that
could befall him would not be that she should put an end at once
by her authority to this affair, upon which it seemed to him
Tressilian's thoughts were fixed with unavailing and distressing
pertinacity. As these reflections passed through his active
brain, the lower door of the hall opened, and Leicester,
accompanied by several of his kinsmen, and of the nobles who had
embraced his faction, re-entered the Castle Hall.
The favourite Earl was now apparelled all in white, his shoes
being of white velvet; his under-stocks (or stockings) of knit
silk; his upper stocks of white velvet, lined with cloth of
silver, which was shown at the slashed part of the middle thigh;
his doublet of cloth of silver, the close jerkin of white velvet,
embroidered with silver and seed-pearl, his girdle and the
scabbard of his sword of white velvet with golden buckles; his
poniard and sword hilted and mounted with gold; and over all a
rich, loose robe of white satin, with a border of golden
embroidery a foot in breadth. The collar of the Garter, and the
azure garter itself around his knee, completed the appointments
of the Earl of Leicester; which were so well matched by his fair
stature, graceful gesture, fine proportion of body, and handsome
countenance, that at that moment he was admitted by all who saw
him as the goodliest person whom they had ever looked upon.
Sussex and the other nobles were also richly attired, but in
point of splendour and gracefulness of mien Leicester far
exceeded them all.
Elizabeth received him with great complacency. "We have one
piece of royal justice," she said, "to attend to. It is a piece
of justice, too, which interests us as a woman, as well as in the
character of mother and guardian of the English people."
An involuntary shudder came over Leicester as he bowed low,
expressive of his readiness to receive her royal commands; and a
similar cold fit came over Varney, whose eyes (seldom during that
evening removed from his patron) instantly perceived from the
change in his looks, slight as that was, of what the Queen was
speaking. But Leicester had wrought his resolution up to the
point which, in his crooked policy, he judged necessary; and when
Elizabeth added, "it is of the matter of Varney and Tressilian we
speak--is the lady here, my lord?" his answer was ready--
"Gracious madam, she is not."
Elizabeth bent her brews and compressed her lips. "Our orders
were strict and positive, my lord," was her answer--
"And should have been obeyed, good my liege," replied Leicester,
"had they been expressed in the form of the lightest wish. But
--Varney, step forward--this gentleman will inform your Grace of
the cause why the lady" (he could not force his rebellious tongue
to utter the words--HIS WIFE) "cannot attend on your royal
Varney advanced, and pleaded with readiness, what indeed he
firmly believed, the absolute incapacity of the party (for
neither did he dare, in Leicester's presence, term her his wife)
to wait on her Grace.
"Here," said he, "are attestations from a most learned physician,
whose skill and honour are well known to my good Lord of
Leicester, and from an honest and devout Protestant, a man of
credit and substance, one Anthony Foster, the gentleman in whose
house she is at present bestowed, that she now labours under an
illness which altogether unfits her for such a journey as betwixt
this Castle and the neighbourhood of Oxford."
"This alters the matter," said the Queen, taking the certificates
in her hand, and glancing at their contents.--"Let Tressilian
come forward.--Master Tressilian, we have much sympathy for your
situation, the rather that you seem to have set your heart deeply
on this Amy Robsart, or Varney. Our power, thanks to God, and
the willing obedience of a loving people, is worth much, but
there are some things which it cannot compass. We cannot, for
example, command the affections of a giddy young girl, or make
her love sense and learning better than a courtier's fine
doublet; and we cannot control sickness, with which it seems this
lady is afflicted, who may not, by reason of such infirmity,
attend our court here, as we had required her to do. Here are
the testimonials of the physician who hath her under his charge,
and the gentleman in whose house she resides, so setting forth."
"Under your Majesty's favour," said Tressilian hastily, and in
his alarm for the consequence of the imposition practised on the
Queen forgetting in part at least his own promise to Amy, "these
certificates speak not the truth."
"How, sir!" said the Queen--"impeach my Lord of Leicester's
veracity! But you shall have a fair hearing. In our presence
the meanest of our subjects shall be heard against the proudest,
and the least known against the most favoured; therefore you
shall be heard fairly, but beware you speak not without a
warrant! Take these certificates in your own hand, look at them
carefully, and say manfully if you impugn the truth of them, and
upon what evidence."
As the Queen spoke, his promise and all its consequences rushed
on the mind of the unfortunate Tressilian, and while it
controlled his natural inclination to pronounce that a falsehood
which he knew from the evidence of his senses to be untrue, gave
an indecision and irresolution to his appearance and utterance
which made strongly against him in the mind of Elizabeth, as well
as of all who beheld him. He turned the papers over and over, as
if he had been an idiot, incapable of comprehending their
contents. The Queen's impatience began to become visible. "You