Part 7 out of 11
Albert then set out in quest of Dr. Rochecliffe's apartment, which was
only known to himself and the faithful Joliffe, and had at different
times accommodated that steady churchman with a place of concealment,
when, from his bold and busy temper, which led him into the most
extensive and hazardous machinations on the King's behalf, he had been
strictly sought after by the opposite party. Of late, the inquest after
him had died entirely away, as he had prudently withdrawn himself from
the scene of his intrigues. Since the loss of the battle of Worcester,
he had been afloat again, and more active than ever; and had, by friends
and correspondents, and especially the Bishop of ----, been the means of
directing the King's flight towards Woodstock, although it was not until
the very day of his arrival that he could promise him a safe reception
at that ancient mansion.
Albert Lee, though he revered both the undaunted spirit and ready
resources of the bustling and intriguing churchman, felt he had not been
enabled by him to answer some of Charles's questions yesternight, in a
way so distinct as one trusted with the King's safety ought to have
done; and it was now his object to make himself personally acquainted,
if possible, with the various bearings of so weighty a matter, as became
a man on whom so much of the responsibility was likely to descend.
Even his local knowledge was scarce adequate to find the Doctor's secret
apartment, had he not traced his way after a genial flavour of roasted
game through divers blind passages, and up and down certain very useless
stairs, through cupboards and hatchways, and so forth, to a species of
sanctum sanctorum, where Joceline Joliffe was ministering to the good
Doctor a solemn breakfast of wild-fowl, with a cup of small beer stirred
with a sprig of rosemary, which Dr. Rochecliffe preferred to all strong
potations. Beside him sat Bevis on his tail, slobbering and looking
amiable, moved by the rare smell of the breakfast, which had quite
overcome his native dignity of disposition.
The chamber in which the Doctor had established himself was a little
octangular room, with walls of great thickness, within which were
fabricated various issues, leading in different directions, and
communicating with different parts of the building. Around him were
packages with arms, and near him one small barrel, as it seemed, of
gunpowder; many papers in different parcels, and several keys for
correspondence in cipher; two or three scrolls covered with
hieroglyphics were also beside him, which Albert took for plans of
nativity; and various models of machinery, in which Dr. Rochecliffe was
an adept. There were also tools of various kinds, masks, cloaks, and a
dark lantern, and a number of other indescribable trinkets belonging to
the trade of a daring plotter in dangerous times. Last, there was a
casket with gold and silver coin of different countries, which was left
carelessly open, as if it were the least of Dr. Rochecliffe's concern,
although his habits in general announced narrow circumstances, if not
actual poverty. Close by the divine's plate lay a Bible and Prayer-book,
with some proof sheets, as they are technically called, seemingly fresh
from the press. There was also within the reach of his hand a dirk, or
Scottish poniard, a powder-horn, and a musketoon, or blunderbuss, with a
pair of handsome pocket-pistols. In the midst of this miscellaneous
collection, the Doctor sat eating his breakfast with great appetite, as
little dismayed by the various implements of danger around him, as a
workman is when accustomed to the perils of a gunpowder manufactory.
"So, young gentleman," he said, getting up and extending his hand, "are
you come to breakfast with me in good fellowship, or to spoil my meal
this morning, as you did my supper last night, by asking untimely
"I will pick a bone with you with all my heart," said Albert; "and if
you please, Doctor, I would ask some questions which seem not quite
So saying he sat down, and assisted the Doctor in giving a very
satisfactory account of a brace of wild-ducks and a leash of teal.
Bevis, who maintained his place with great patience and insinuation, had
his share of a collop, which was also placed on the well-furnished
board; for, like most high-bred dogs, he declined eating waterfowl.
"Come hither then, Albert Lee," said the Doctor, laying down his knife
and fork, and plucking the towel from his throat, so soon as Joceline
was withdrawn; "thou art still the same lad thou wert when I was thy
tutor--never satisfied with having got a grammar rule, but always
persecuting me with questions why the rule stood so, and not otherwise--
over-curious after information which thou couldst not comprehend, as
Bevis slobbered and whined for the duck-wing, which he could not eat."
"I hope you will find me more reasonable, Doctor," answered Albert; "and
at the same time, that you will recollect I am not now _sub ferula_, but
am placed in circumstances where I am not at liberty to act upon the
_ipse dixit_ of any man, unless my own judgment be convinced. I shall
deserve richly to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, should any misfortune
happen by my misgovernment in this business."
"And it is therefore, Albert, that I would have thee trust the whole to
me, without interfering. Thou sayest, forsooth, thou art not _sub
ferula_; but recollect that while you have been fighting in the field, I
have been plotting in the study--that I know all the combinations of the
King's friends, ay, and all the motions of his enemies, as well as a
spider knows every mesh of his web. Think of my experience, man. Not a
cavalier in the land but has heard of Rochecliffe, the Plotter. I have
been a main limb in every thing that has been attempted since
forty-two--penned declarations, conducted correspondence, communicated
with chiefs, recruited followers, commissioned arms, levied money,
appointed rendezvouses. I was in the Western Riding; and before that, in
the City Petition, and in Sir John Owen's stir in Wales; in short,
almost in every plot for the King, since Tomkins and Challoner's
"But were not all these plots unsuccessful?" said Albert; "and were not
Tomkins and Challoner hanged, Doctor?"
"Yes, my young friend," answered the Doctor, gravely, "as many others
have been with whom I have acted; but only because they did not follow
my advice implicitly. You never heard that I was hanged myself?"
"The time may come, Doctor," said Albert; "The pitcher goes oft to the
well.--The proverb, as my father would say, is somewhat musty. But I,
too, have some confidence in my own judgment; and, much as I honour the
Church, I cannot altogether subscribe to passive obedience. I will tell
you in one word what points I must have explanation on; and it will
remain with you to give it, or to return a message to the King that you
will not explain your plan; in which case, if he acts by my advice, he
will leave Woodstock, and resume his purpose of getting to the coast
"Well, then," said the Doctor, "thou suspicious monster, make thy
demands, and, if they be such as I can answer without betraying
confidence, I will reply to them."
"In the first place, then, what is all this story about ghosts, and
witch-crafts, and apparitions? and do you consider it as safe for his
Majesty to stay in a house subject to such visitations, real or
"You must be satisfied with my answer _in verbo sacerdotis_--the
circumstances you allude to will not give the least annoyance to
Woodstock during the King's residence. I cannot explain farther; but for
this I will be bound, at the risk of my neck."
"Then," said Lee, "we must take Dr. Rochecliffe's bail that the devil
will keep the peace towards our Sovereign Lord the King--good. Now there
lurked about this house the greater part of yesterday, and perhaps slept
here, a fellow called Tomkins,--a bitter Independent, and a secretary,
or clerk, or something or other, to the regicide dog Desborough. The man
is well known--a wild ranter in religious opinions, but in private
affairs far-sighted, cunning, and interested even as any rogue of them
"Be assured we will avail ourselves of his crazy fanaticism to mislead
his wicked cunning;--a child may lead a hog, if it has wit to fasten a
cord to the ring in its nose," replied the Doctor.
"You may be deceived," said Albert; "the age has many such as this
fellow, whose views of the spiritual and temporal world are so
different, that they resemble the eyes of a squinting man; one of which,
oblique and distorted, sees nothing but the end of his nose, while the
other, instead of partaking the same defect, views strongly, sharply,
and acutely, whatever is subjected to its scrutiny."
"But we will put a patch on the better eye," said the Doctor, "and he
shall only be allowed to speculate with the imperfect optic. You must
know, this fellow has always seen the greatest number, and the most
hideous apparitions; he has not the courage of a cat in such matters,
though stout enough when he hath temporal antagonists before him. I have
placed him under the charge of Joceline Joliffe, who, betwixt plying him
with sack and ghost-stories, would make him incapable of knowing what
was done, if you were to proclaim the King in his presence."
"But why keep such a fellow here at all?"
"Oh, sir, content you;--he lies leaguer, as a sort of ambassador for his
worthy masters, and we are secure from any intrusion so long as they get
all the news of Woodstock from Trusty Tomkins."
"I know Joceline's honesty well," said Albert; "and if he can assure me
that he will keep a watch over this fellow, I will so far trust in him.
He does not know the depth of the stake, 'tis true, but that my life is
concerned will be quite enough to keep him vigilant.--Well, then, I
proceed:--What if Markham Everard comes down on us?"
"We have his word to the contrary," answered Rochecliffe--"his word of
honour, transmitted by his friend:--Do you think it likely he will break
"I hold him incapable of doing so," answered Albert; "and, besides, I
think Markham would make no bad use of any thing which might come to his
knowledge--Yet God forbid we should be under the necessity of trusting
any who ever wore the Parliament's colours in a matter of such dear
"Amen!" said the Doctor.--"Are your doubts silenced now?"
"I still have an objection," said Albert, "to yonder impudent rakehelly
fellow, styling himself a cavalier, who rushed himself on our company
last night, and gained my father's heart by a story of the storm of
Brentford, which I dare say the rogue never saw."
"You mistake him, dear Albert," replied Rochecliffe--"Roger Wildrake,
although till of late I only knew him by name, is a gentleman, was bred
at the Inns of Court, and spent his estate in the King's service."
"Or rather in the devil's service," said Albert. "It is such fellows as
he, who, sunk from the license of their military habits into idle
debauched ruffians, infest the land with riots and robberies, brawl in
hedge alehouses and cellars where strong waters are sold at midnight,
and, with their deep oaths, their hot loyalty, and their drunken valour,
make decent men abominate the very name of cavalier."
"Alas!" said the Doctor, "it is but too true; but what can you expect?
When the higher and more qualified classes are broken down and mingled
undistinguishably with the lower orders, they are apt to lose the most
valuable marks of their quality in the general confusion of morals and
manners--just as a handful of silver medals will become defaced and
discoloured if jumbled about among the vulgar copper coin. Even the
prime medal of all, which we royalists would so willingly wear next our
very hearts, has not, perhaps, entirely escaped some deterioration--But
let other tongues than mine speak on that subject."
Albert Lee paused deeply after having heard these communications on the
part of Rochecliffe. "Doctor," he said, "it is generally agreed, even by
some who think you may occasionally have been a little over busy in
putting men upon dangerous actions"--
"May God forgive them who entertain so false an opinion of me," said the
--"That, nevertheless, you have done and suffered more in the King's
behalf than any man of your function."
"They do me but justice there," said Dr. Rochecliffe--"absolute
"I am therefore disposed to abide by your opinion, if, all things
considered, you think it safe that we should remain at Woodstock."
"That is not the question," answered the divine.
"And what is the question, then?" replied the young soldier.
"Whether any safer course can be pointed out. I grieve to say, that the
question must be comparative, as to the point of option. Absolute safety
is--alas the while!--out of the question on all sides. Now, I say
Woodstock is, fenced and guarded as at present, by far the most
preferable place of concealment."
"Enough," replied Albert; "I give up to you the question, as to a person
whose knowledge of such important affairs, not to mention your age and
experience, is more intimate and extensive than mine can be."
"You do well," answered Rochecliffe; "and if others had acted with the
like distrust of their own knowledge, and confidence in competent
persons, it had been better for the age. This makes Understanding bar
himself up within his fortalice, and Wit betake himself to his high
tower." (Here he looked around his cell with an air of self-complacence.)
"The wise man forseeth the tempest, and hideth himself."
"Doctor," said Albert, "let our foresight serve others far more precious
than either of us. Let me ask you, if you have well considered whether
our precious charge should remain in society with the family, or betake
himself to some of the more hidden corners of the house?"
"Hum!" said the Doctor, with an air of deep reflection--"I think he will
be safest as Louis Kerneguy, keeping himself close beside you"--
"I fear it will be necessary," added Albert, "that I scout abroad a
little, and show myself in some distant part of the country, lest,
coming here in quest of me, they should find higher game."
"Pray do not interrupt me--Keeping himself close beside you or your
father, in or near to Victor Lee's apartment, from which you are aware
he can make a ready escape, should danger approach. This occurs to me as
best for the present--I hope to hear of the vessel to-day--to-morrow at
Albert Lee bid the active but opiniated man good morrow; admiring how
this species of intrigue had become a sort of element in which the
Doctor seemed to enjoy himself, notwithstanding all that the poet has
said concerning the horrors which intervene betwixt the conception and
execution of a conspiracy.
In returning from Dr. Rochecliffe's sanctuary, he met with Joceline, who
was anxiously seeking him. "The young Scotch gentleman," he said, in a
mysterious manner, "has arisen from bed, and, hearing me pass, he called
me into his apartment."
"Well," replied Albert, "I will see him presently."
"And he asked me for fresh linen and clothes. Now, sir, he is like a man
who is quite accustomed to be obeyed, so I gave him a suit which
happened to be in a wardrobe in the west tower, and some of your linen
to conform; and when he was dressed, he commanded me to show him to the
presence of Sir Henry Lee and my young lady. I would have said
something, sir, about waiting till you came back, but he pulled me
goodnaturedly by the hair, (as, indeed, he has a rare humour of his
own,) and told me, he was guest to Master Albert Lee, and not his
prisoner; so, sir, though I thought you might be displeased with me for
giving him the means of stirring abroad, and perhaps being seen by those
who should not see him, what could I say?"
"You are a sensible fellow, Joceline, and comprehend always what is
recommended to you. This youth will not be controlled, I fear, by either
of us; but we must look the closer after his safety. You keep your watch
over that prying fellow the steward?"
"Trust him to my care--on that side have no fear. But ah, sir! I would
we had the young Scot in his old clothes again, for the riding-suit of
yours which he now wears hath set him off in other-guess fashion."
From the manner in which the faithful dependent expressed himself,
Albert saw that he suspected who the Scottish page in reality was; yet
he did not think it proper to acknowledge to him a fact of such
importance, secure as he was equally of his fidelity, whether explicitly
trusted to the full extent, or left to his own conjectures. Full of
anxious thought, he went to the apartment of Victor Lee, in which
Joliffe told him he would find the party assembled. The sound of
laughter, as he laid his hand on the lock of the door, almost made him
start, so singularly did it jar with the doubtful and melancholy
reflections which engaged his own mind. He entered, and found his father
in high good-humour, laughing and conversing freely with his young
charge, whose appearance was, indeed, so much changed to the better in
externals, that it seemed scarce possible a night's rest, a toilet, and
a suit of decent clothes, could have done so much in his favour in so
short a time. It could not, however, be imputed to the mere alteration
of dress, although that, no doubt, had its effect. There was nothing
splendid in that which Louis Kerneguy (we continue to call him by his
assumed name) now wore. It was merely a riding-suit of grey cloth, with
some silver lace, in the fashion of a country gentleman of the time. But
it happened to fit him very well, and to become his very dark
complexion, especially as he now held up his head, and used the manners,
not only of a well-behaved but of a highly-accomplished gentleman. When
he moved, his clumsy and awkward limp was exchanged for a sort of
shuffle, which, as it might be the consequence of a wound in those
perilous times, had rather an interesting than an ungainly effect. At
least it was as genteel an expression that the party had been overhard
travelled, as the most polite pedestrian could propose to himself.
The features of the Wanderer were harsh as ever, but his red shock
peruke, for such it proved, was laid aside, his sable elf-locks were
trained, by a little of Joceline's assistance, into curls, and his fine
black eyes shone from among the shade of these curls, and corresponded
with the animated, though not handsome, character of the whole head. In
his conversation, he had laid aside all the coarseness of dialect which
he had so strongly affected on the preceding evening; and although he
continued to speak a little Scotch, for the support of his character as
a young gentleman of that nation, yet it was not in a degree which
rendered his speech either uncouth or unintelligible, but merely
afforded a certain Doric tinge essential to the personage he
represented. No person on earth could better understand the society in
which he moved; exile had made him acquainted with life in all its
shades and varieties;--his spirits, if not uniform, were elastic--he had
that species of Epicurean philosophy, which, even in the most extreme
difficulties and dangers, can, in an interval of ease, however brief,
avail itself of the enjoyments of the moment--he was, in short, in youth
and misfortune, as afterwards in his regal condition, a good-humoured
but hard-hearted voluptuary--wise, save where his passions
intervened--beneficent, save when prodigality had deprived him of the
means, or prejudice of the wish, to confer benefits--his faults such as
might often have drawn down hatred, but that they were mingled with so
much urbanity, that the injured person felt it impossible to retain the
full sense of his wrongs.
Albert Lee found the party, consisting of his father, sister, and the
supposed page, seated by the breakfast-table, at which he also took his
place. He was a pensive and anxious beholder of what passed, while the
page, who had already completely gained the heart of the good old
cavalier, by mimicking the manner in which the Scottish divines preached
in favour of Ma gude Lord Marquis of Argyle and the Solemn League and
Covenant, was now endeavouring to interest the fair Alice by such
anecdotes, partly of warlike and perilous adventure, as possessed the
same degree of interest for the female ear which they have had ever
since Desdemona's days. But it was not only of dangers by land and sea
that the disguised page spoke; but much more, and much oftener, on
foreign revels, banquets, balls, where the pride of France, of Spain, or
of the Low Countries, was exhibited in the eyes of their most eminent
beauties. Alice being a very young girl, who, in consequence of the
Civil War, had been almost entirely educated in the country, and often
in great seclusion, it was certainly no wonder that she should listen
with willing ears, and a ready smile, to what the young gentleman, their
guest, and her brother's protege, told with so much gaiety, and mingled
with such a shade of dangerous adventure, and occasionally of serious
reflection, as prevented the discourse from being regarded as merely
light and frivolous.
In a word, Sir Henry Lee laughed, Alice smiled from time to time, and
all were satisfied but Albert, who would himself, however, have been
scarce able to allege a sufficient reason for his depression of spirits.
The materials of breakfast were at last removed, under the active
superintendence of the neat-handed Phoebe, who looked over her shoulder,
and lingered more than once, to listen to the fluent discourse of their
new guest, whom, on the preceding evening, she had, while in attendance
at supper, accounted one of the most stupid inmates to whom the gates of
Woodstock had been opened since the times of Fair Rosamond.
Louis Kerneguy then, when they were left only four in the chamber,
without the interruption of domestics, and the successive bustle
occasioned by the discussion and removal of the morning meal, became
apparently sensible, that his friend and ostensible patron Albert ought
not altogether to be suffered to drop to leeward in the conversation,
while he was himself successfully engaging the attention of those
members of his family to whom he had become so recently known. He went
behind his chair, therefore, and, leaning on the back, said with a
good-humoured tone, which made his purpose entirely intelligible,--
"Either my good friend, guide, and patron, has heard worse news this
morning than he cares to tell us, or he must have stumbled over my
tattered jerkin and leathern hose, and acquired, by contact, the whole
mass of stupidity which I threw off last night with those most dolorous
garments. Cheer up, my dear Colonel Albert, if your affectionate page
may presume to say so--you are in company with those whose society, dear
to strangers, must be doubly so to you. Oddsfish, man, cheer up! I have
seen you gay on a biscuit and a mouthful of water-cresses--don't let
your heart fail you on Rhenish wine and venison."
"Dear Louis," said Albert, rousing himself into exertion, and somewhat
ashamed of his own silence, "I have slept worse, and been astir earlier
"Be it so," said his father; "yet I hold it no good excuse for your
sullen silence. Albert, you have met your sister and me, so long
separated from you, so anxious on your behalf, almost like mere
strangers, and yet you are returned safe to us, and you find us well."
"Returned indeed--but for safety, my dear father, that word must be a
stranger to us Worcester folk for some time. However, it is not my own
safety about which I am anxious."
"About whose, then, should you be anxious?--All accounts agree that the
King is safe out of the dogs' jaws."
"Not without some danger, though," muttered Louis, thinking of his
encounter with Bevis on the preceding evening.
"No, not without danger, indeed," echoed the knight; "but, as old Will
'There's such divinity doth hedge a king,
That treason dares not peep at what it would.'
"No, no--thank God, that's cared for; our Hope and Fortune is escaped,
so all news affirm, escaped from Bristol--if I thought otherwise,
Albert, I should be as sad as you are. For the rest of it, I have lurked
a month in this house when discovery would have been death, and that is
no longer since than after Lord Holland and the Duke of Buckingham's
rising at Kingston; and hang me, if I thought once of twisting my brow
into such a tragic fold as yours, but cocked my hat at misfortune as a
"If I might put in a word," said Louis, "it would be to assure Colonel
Albert Lee that I verily believe the King would think his own hap,
wherever he may be, much the worse that his best subjects were seized
with dejection on his account."
"You answer boldly on the King's part, young man," said Sir Henry.
"Oh, my father was meikle about the King's hand," answered Louis,
recollecting his present character.
"No wonder, then," said Sir Henry, "that you have so soon recovered your
good spirits and good breeding, when you heard of his Majesty's escape.
Why, you are no more like the lad we saw last night, than the best
hunter I ever had was like a dray-horse."
"Oh, there is much in rest, and food, and grooming," answered Louis.
"You would hardly know the tired jade you dismounted from last night,
when she is brought out prancing and neighing the next morning, rested,
refreshed, and ready to start again--especially if the brute hath some
good blood, for such pick up unco fast."
"Well, then, but since thy father was a courtier, and thou hast learned,
I think, something of the trade, tell us a little, Master Kerneguy, of
him we love most to hear about--the King; we are all safe and secret,
you need not be afraid. He was a hopeful youth; I trust his flourishing
blossom now gives promise of fruit?"
As the knight spoke, Louis bent his eyes on the ground, and seemed at
first uncertain what to answer. But, admirable at extricating himself
from such dilemmas, he replied, "that he really could not presume to
speak on such a subject in the presence of his patron, Colonel Albert
Lee, who must be a much better judge of the character of King Charles
than he could pretend to be."
Albert was accordingly next assailed by the Knight, seconded by Alice,
for some account of his Majesty's character.
"I will speak but according to facts," said Albert; "and then I must be
acquitted of partiality. If the King had not possessed enterprise and
military skill, he never would have attempted the expedition to
Worcester;--had he not had personal courage, he had not so long disputed
the battle that Cromwell almost judged it lost. That he possesses
prudence and patience, must be argued from the circumstances attending
his flight; and that he has the love of his subjects is evident, since,
necessarily known to many, he has been betrayed by none."
"For shame, Albert!" replied his sister; "is that the way a good
cavalier doles out the character of his Prince, applying an instance at
every concession, like a pedlar measuring linen with his rod?--Out upon
you!--no wonder you were beaten, if you fought as coldly for your King
as you now talk for him."
"I did my best to trace a likeness from what I have seen and known of
the original, sister Alice," replied her brother.--"If you would have a
fancy portrait, you must get an artist of more imagination than I have
to draw it for you."
"I will be that artist myself" said Alice; "and, in _my_ portrait, our
Monarch shall show all that he ought to be, having such high
pretensions--all that he must be, being so loftily descended--all that I
am sure he is, and that every loyal heart in the kingdom ought to
"Well said, Alice," quoth the old knight--"Look thou upon this picture,
and on this!--Here is our young friend shall judge. I wager my best
nag--that is, I would wager him had I one left--that Alice proves the
better painter of the two.--My son's brain is still misty, I think,
since his defeat--he has not got the smoke of Worcester out of it.
Plague on thee!--a young man, and cast down for one beating? Had you
been banged twenty times like me, it had been time to look grave.--But
come, Alice, forward; the colours are mixed on your pallet--forward with
something that shall show like one of Vandyck's living portraits, placed
beside the dull dry presentation there of our ancestor Victor Lee."
Alice, it must be observed, had been educated by her father in the
notions of high and even exaggerated loyalty, which characterized the
cavaliers, and she was really an enthusiast in the royal cause. But,
besides, she was in good spirits at her brother's happy return, and
wished to prolong the gay humour in which her father had of late
scarcely ever indulged.
"Well, then," she said, "though I am no Apelles, I will try to paint an
Alexander, such as I hope, and am determined to believe, exists in the
person of our exiled sovereign, soon I trust to be restored. And I will
not go farther than his own family. He shall have all the chivalrous
courage, all the warlike skill, of Henry of France, his grandfather, in
order to place him on the throne; all his benevolence, love of his
people, patience even of unpleasing advice, sacrifice of his own wishes
and pleasures to the commonweal, that, seated there, he may be blest
while living, and so long remembered when dead, that for ages after it
shall be thought sacrilege to breathe an aspersion against the throne
which he had occupied! Long after he is dead, while there remains an old
man who has seen him, were the condition of that survivor no higher than
a groom or a menial, his age shall be provided for at the public charge,
and his grey hairs regarded with more distinction than an earl's
coronet, because he remembers the Second Charles, the monarch of every
heart in England!"
While Alice spoke, she was hardly conscious of the presence of any one
save her father and brother; for the page withdrew himself somewhat from
the circle, and there was nothing to remind her of him. She gave the
reins, therefore, to her enthusiasm; and as the tears glittered in her
eye, and her beautiful features became animated, she seemed like a
descended cherub proclaiming the virtues of a patriot monarch. The
person chiefly interested in her description held himself back, as we
have said, and concealed his own features, yet so as to preserve a full
view of the beautiful speaker.
Albert Lee, conscious in whose presence this eulogium was pronounced,
was much embarrassed; but his father, all whose feelings were flattered
by the panegyric, was in rapture.
"So much for the _King_, Alice," he said, "and now for the _Man_."
"For the man," replied Alice, in the same tone, "need I wish him more
than the paternal virtues of his unhappy father, of whom his worst
enemies have recorded, that if moral virtues and religious faith were to
be selected as the qualities which merited a crown, no man could plead
the possession of them in a higher or more indisputable degree.
Temperate, wise, and frugal, yet munificent in rewarding merit--a friend
to letters and the muses, but a severe discourager of the misuse of such
gifts--a worthy gentleman--a kind master--the best friend, the best
father, the best Christian"--Her voice began to falter, and her father's
handkerchief was already at his eyes.
"He was, girl, he was!" exclaimed Sir Henry; "but no more on't, I charge
ye--no more on't--enough; let his son but possess his virtues, with
better advisers, and better fortunes, and he will be all that England,
in her warmest wishes, could desire."
There was a pause after this; for Alice felt as if she had spoken too
frankly and too zealously for her sex and youth. Sir Henry was occupied
in melancholy recollections on the fate of his late sovereign, while
Kerneguy and his supposed patron felt embarrassed, perhaps from a
consciousness that the real Charles fell far short of his ideal
character, as designed in such glowing colours. In some cases,
exaggerated or unappropriate praise becomes the most severe satire.
But such reflections were not of a nature to be long willingly cherished
by the person to whom they might have been of great advantage. He
assumed a tone of raillery, which is, perhaps, the readiest mode of
escaping from the feelings of self-reproof. "Every cavalier," he said,
"should bend his knee to thank Mistress Alice Lee for having made such a
flattering portrait of the King their master, by laying under
contribution for his benefit the virtues of all his ancestors; only
there was one point he would not have expected a female painter to have
passed over in silence. When she made him, in right of his grandfather
and father, a muster of royal and individual excellences, why could she
not have endowed him at the same time with his mother's personal charms?
Why should not the son of Henrietta Maria, the finest woman of her day,
add the recommendations of a handsome face and figure to his internal
qualities? He had the same hereditary title to good looks as to mental
qualifications; and the picture, with such an addition, would be perfect
in its way--and God send it might be a resemblance."
"I understand you, Master Kerneguy," said Alice; "but I am no fairy, to
bestow, as those do in the nursery tales, gifts which Providence has
denied. I am woman enough to have made enquiries on the subject, and I
know the general report is, that the King, to have been the son of such
handsome parents, is unusually hard-favoured."
"Good God, sister!" said Albert, starting impatiently from his seat.
"Why, you yourself told me so," said Alice, surprised at the emotion he
testified; "and you said"--
"This is intolerable," muttered Albert; "I must out to speak with
Joceline without delay--Louis," (with an imploring look to Kerneguy,)
"you will surely come with me?"
"I would with all my heart," said Kerneguy, smiling maliciously; "but
you see how I suffer still from lameness.--Nay, nay, Albert," he
whispered, resisting young Lee's attempt to prevail on him to leave the
room, "can you suppose I am fool enough to be hurt by this?--on the
contrary, I have a desire of profiting by it."
"May God grant it!" said Lee to himself, as he left the room--"it will
be the first lecture you ever profited by; and the devil confound the
plots and plotters who made me bring you to this place!" So saying, he
carried his discontent forth into the Park.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-THIRD.
For there, they say, he daily doth frequent
With unrestrained loose companions;
While he, young, wanton, and effeminate boy,
Takes on the point of honour, to support
So dissolute a crew.
The conversation which Albert had in vain endeavoured to interrupt,
flowed on in the same course after he had left the room. It entertained
Louis Kerneguy; for personal vanity, or an over-sensitiveness to
deserved reproof, were not among the faults of his character, and were
indeed incompatible with an understanding, which, combined with more
strength of principle, steadiness of exertion, and self-denial, might
have placed Charles high on the list of English monarchs. On the other
hand, Sir Henry listened with natural delight to the noble sentiments
uttered by a being so beloved as his daughter. His own parts were rather
steady than brilliant; and he had that species of imagination which is
not easily excited without the action of another, as the electrical
globe only scintillates when rubbed against its cushion. He was well
pleased, therefore, when Kerneguy pursued the conversation, by observing
that Mistress Alice Lee had not explained how the same good fairy that
conferred moral qualities, could not also remove corporeal blemishes.
"You mistake, sir," said Alice. "I confer nothing. I do but attempt to
paint our King such as I _hope_ he is--such as I am sure he _may_ be,
should he himself desire to be so. The same general report which speaks
of his countenance as unprepossessing, describes his talents as being of
the first order. He has, therefore, the means of arriving at excellence,
should he cultivate them sedulously and employ them usefully--should he
rule his passions and be guided by his understanding. Every good man
cannot be wise; but it is in the power of every wise man, if he pleases,
to be as eminent for virtue as for talent."
Young Kerneguy rose briskly, and took a turn through the room; and ere
the knight could make any observation on the singular vivacity in which
he had indulged, he threw himself again into his chair, and said, in
rather an altered tone of voice--"It seems, then, Mistress Alice Lee,
that the good friends who have described this poor King to you, have
been as unfavourable in their account of his morals as of his person?"
"The truth must be better known to you, sir," said Alice, "than it can
be to me. Some rumours there have been which accuse him of a license,
which, whatever allowance flatterers make for it, does not, to say the
least, become the son of the Martyr--I shall be happy to have these
contradicted on good authority."
"I am surprised at your folly," said Sir Henry Lee, "in hinting at such
things, Alice; a pack of scandal, invented by the rascals who have
usurped the government--a thing devised by the enemy."
"Nay, sir," said Kerneguy, laughing, "we must not let our zeal charge
the enemy with more scandal than they actually deserve. Mistress Alice
has put the question to me. I can only answer, that no one can be more
devotedly attached to the King than I myself,--that I am very partial to
his merits and blind to his defects;--and that, in short, I would be the
last man in the world to give up his cause where it was tenable.
Nevertheless, I must confess, that if all his grandfather of Navarre's
morals have not descended to him, this poor King has somehow inherited a
share of the specks that were thought to dim the lustre of that great
Prince--that Charles is a little soft-hearted, or so, where beauty is
concerned.--Do not blame him too severely, pretty Mistress Alice; when a
man's hard fate has driven him among thorns, it were surely hard to
prevent him from trifling with the few roses he may find among them?"
Alice, who probably thought the conversation had gone far enough, rose
while Master Kerneguy was speaking, and was leaving the room before he
had finished, without apparently hearing the interrogation with which he
concluded. Her father approved of her departure, not thinking the turn
which Kerneguy had given to the discourse altogether fit for her
presence; and, desirous civilly to break off the conversation, "I see,"
he said, "this is about the time, when, as Will says, the household
affairs will call my daughter hence; I will therefore challenge you,
young gentleman, to stretch your limbs in a little exercise with me,
either at single rapier, or rapier and poniard, back-sword, spadroon, or
your national weapons of broad-sword and target; for all or any of which
I think we shall find implements in the hall."
It would be too high a distinction, Master Kerneguy said, for a poor
page to be permitted to try a passage of arms with a knight so renowned
as Sir Henry Lee, and he hoped to enjoy so great an honour before he
left Woodstock; but at the present moment his lameness continued to
give him so much pain, that he should shame himself in the attempt.
Sir Henry then offered to read him a play of Shakspeare, and for this
purpose turned up King Richard II. But hardly had he commenced with
"Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster,"
when the young gentleman was seized with such an incontrollable fit of
the cramp as could only be relieved by immediate exercise. He therefore
begged permission to be allowed to saunter abroad for a little while, if
Sir Henry Lee considered he might venture without danger.
"I can answer for the two or three of our people that are still left
about the place," said Sir Henry; "and I know my son has disposed them
so as to be constantly on the watch. If you hear the bell toll at the
Lodge, I advise you to come straight home by the way of the King's Oak,
which you see in yonder glade towering above the rest of the trees. We
will have some one stationed there to introduce you secretly into the
The page listened to these cautions with the impatience of a schoolboy,
who, desirous of enjoying his holiday, hears without marking the advice
of tutor or parent, about taking care not to catch cold, and so forth.
The absence of Alice Lee had removed all which had rendered the interior
of the Lodge agreeable, and the mercurial young page fled with
precipitation from the exercise and amusement which Sir Henry had
proposed. He girded on his rapier, and threw his cloak, or rather that
which belonged to his borrowed suit, about him, bringing up the lower
part so as to muffle the face and show only the eyes over it, which was
a common way of wearing them in those days, both in streets, in the
country, and in public places, when men had a mind to be private, and to
avoid interruption from salutations and greetings in the market-place.
He hurried across the open space which divided the front of the Lodge
from the wood, with the haste of a bird, escaped from the cage, which,
though joyful at its liberation, is at the same time sensible of its
need of protection and shelter. The wood seemed to afford these to the
human fugitive, as it might have done to the bird in question.
When under the shadow of the branches, and within the verge of the
forest, covered from observation, yet with the power of surveying the
front of the Lodge, and all the open ground before it, the supposed
Louis Kerneguy meditated on his escape.
"What an infliction--to fence with a gouty old man, who knows not, I
dare say, a trick of the sword which was not familiar in the days of old
Vincent Saviolo! or, as a change of misery, to hear him read one of
those wildernesses of scenes which the English call a play, from
prologue to epilogue--from Enter the first to the final _Exeunt
omnes_--an unparalleled horror--a penance which would have made a
dungeon darker, and added dullness even to Woodstock!"
Here he stopped and looked around, then continued his meditations--"So,
then, it was here that the gay old Norman secluded his pretty
mistress--I warrant, without having seen her, that Rosamond Clifford was
never half so handsome as that lovely Alice Lee. And what a soul there
is in the girl's eye!--with what abandonment of all respects, save that
expressing the interest of the moment, she poured forth her tide of
enthusiasm! Were I to be long here, in spite of prudence, and
half-a-dozen very venerable obstacles beside, I should be tempted to try
to reconcile her to the indifferent visage of this same hard-favoured
Prince.--Hard favoured?--it is a kind of treason for one who pretends to
so much loyalty, to say so of the King's features, and in my mind
deserves punishment.--Ah, pretty Mistress Alice! many a Mistress Alice
before you has made dreadful exclamations on the irregularities of
mankind, and the wickedness of the age, and ended by being glad to look
out for apologies for their own share in them. But then her father--the
stout old cavalier--my father's old friend--should such a thing befall,
it would break his heart.--Break a pudding's-end--he has more sense. If
I give his grandson a title to quarter the arms of England, what matter
if a bar sinister is drawn across them?--Pshaw! far from an abatement,
it is a point of addition--the heralds in their next visitation will
place him higher in the roll for it. Then, if he did wince a little at
first, does not the old traitor deserve it;--first, for his disloyal
intention of punching mine anointed body black and blue with his vile
foils--and secondly, his atrocious complot with Will Shakspeare, a
fellow as much out of date as himself, to read me to death with five
acts of a historical play, or chronicle, 'being the piteous Life and
Death of Richard the Second?' Odds-fish, my own life is piteous enough,
as I think; and my death may match it, for aught I see coming yet. Ah,
but then the brother--my friend--my guide--my guard--So far as this
little proposed intrigue concerns him, such practising would be thought
not quite fair. But your bouncing, swaggering, revengeful brothers exist
only on the theatre. Your dire revenge, with which a brother persecuted
a poor fellow who had seduced his sister, or been seduced by her, as the
case might be, as relentlessly as if he had trodden on his toes without
making an apology, is entirely out of fashion, since Dorset killed the
Lord Bruce many a long year since. Pshaw! when a King is the offender,
the bravest man sacrifices nothing by pocketing a little wrong which he
cannot personally resent. And in France, there is not a noble house,
where each individual would not cock his hat an inch higher, if they
could boast of such a left-handed alliance with the Grand Monarque."
Such were the thoughts which rushed through the mind of Charles, at his
first quitting the Lodge of Woodstock, and plunging into the forest that
surrounded it. His profligate logic, however, was not the result of his
natural disposition, nor received without scruple by his sound
understanding. It was a train of reasoning which he had been led to
adopt from his too close intimacy with the witty and profligate youth of
quality by whom he had been surrounded. It arose from the evil
communication with Villiers, Wilmot, Sedley, and others, whose genius
was destined to corrupt that age, and the Monarch on whom its character
afterwards came so much to depend. Such men, bred amidst the license of
civil war, and without experiencing that curb which in ordinary times
the authority of parents and relations imposes upon the headlong
passions of youth, were practised in every species of vice, and could
recommend it as well by precept as by example, turning into pitiless
ridicule all those nobler feelings which withhold men from gratifying
lawless passion. The events of the King's life had also favoured his
reception of this Epicurean doctrine. He saw himself, with the highest
claims to sympathy and assistance, coldly treated by the Courts which he
visited, rather as a permitted supplicant, than an exiled Monarch. He
beheld his own rights and claims treated with scorn and indifference;
and, in the same proportion, he was reconciled to the hard-hearted and
selfish course of dissipation, which promised him immediate indulgence.
If this was obtained at the expense of the happiness of others, should
he of all men be scrupulous upon the subject, since he treated others
only as the world treated him?
But although the foundations of this unhappy system had been laid, the
Prince was not at this early period so fully devoted to it as he was
found to have become, when a door was unexpectedly opened for his
restoration. On the contrary, though the train of gay reasoning which we
have above stated, as if it had found vent in uttered language, did
certainly arise in his mind, as that which would have been suggested by
his favourite counsellors on such occasions, he recollected that what
might be passed over as a peccadillo in France or the Netherlands, or
turned into a diverting novel or pasquinade by the wits of his own
wandering Court, was likely to have the aspect of horrid ingratitude and
infamous treachery among the English gentry, and would inflict a deep,
perhaps an incurable wound upon his interests, among the more aged and
respectable part of his adherents. Then it occurred to him--for his own
interest did not escape him, even in this mode of considering the
subject--that he was in the power of the Lees, father and son, who were
always understood to be at least sufficiently punctilious on the score
of honour; and if they should suspect such an affront as his imagination
had conceived, they could be at no loss to find means of the most ample
revenge, either by their own hands, or by those of the ruling faction.
"The risk of re-opening the fatal window at Whitehall, and renewing the
tragedy of the Man in the Mask, were a worse penalty," was his final
reflection, "than the old stool of the Scottish penance; and pretty
though Alice Lee is, I cannot afford to intrigue at such a hazard. So,
farewell, pretty maiden! unless, as sometimes has happened, thou hast a
humour to throw thyself at thy King's feet, and then I am too
magnanimous to refuse thee my protection. Yet, when I think of the pale
clay-cold figure of the old man, as he lay last night extended before
me, and imagine the fury of Albert Lee raging with impatience, his hand
on a sword which only his loyalty prevents him from plunging into his
sovereign's heart--nay, the picture is too horrible! Charles must for
ever change his name to Joseph, even if he were strongly tempted; which
may Fortune in mercy prohibit!"
To speak the truth of a prince, more unfortunate in his early
companions, and the callousness which he acquired by his juvenile
adventures and irregular mode of life, than in his natural disposition,
Charles came the more readily to this wise conclusion, because he was by
no means subject to those violent and engrossing passions, to gratify
which the world has been thought well lost. His amours, like many of the
present day, were rather matters of habit and fashion, than of passion
and affection: and, in comparing himself in this respect to his
grandfather, Henry IV., he did neither his ancestor nor himself perfect
justice. He was, to parody the words of a bard, himself actuated by the
stormy passions which an intriguer often only simulates,--
None of those who loved so kindly,
None of those who loved so blindly.
An amour was with him a matter of amusement, a regular consequence, as
it seemed to him, of the ordinary course of things in society. He was
not at the trouble to practise seductive arts, because he had seldom
found occasion to make use of them; his high rank, and the profligacy of
part of the female society with which he had mingled, rendering them
unnecessary. Added to this, he had, for the same reason, seldom been
crossed by the obstinate interference of relations, or even of husbands,
who had generally seemed not unwilling to suffer such matters to take
So that, notwithstanding his total looseness of principle, and
systematic disbelief in the virtue of women, and the honour of men, as
connected with the character of their female relatives, Charles was not
a person to have studiously introduced disgrace into a family, where a
conquest might have been violently disputed, attained with difficulty,
and accompanied with general distress, not to mention the excitation of
all fiercer passions against the author of the scandal.
But the danger of the King's society consisted in his being much of an
unbeliever in the existence of such cases as were likely to be
embittered by remorse on the part of the principal victim, or rendered
perilous by the violent resentment of her connexions or relatives. He
had even already found such things treated on the continent as matters
of ordinary occurrence, subject, in all cases where a man of high
influence was concerned, to an easy arrangement; and he was really,
generally speaking, sceptical on the subject of severe virtue in either
sex, and apt to consider it as a veil assumed by prudery in women, and
hypocrisy in men, to extort a higher reward for their compliance.
While we are discussing the character of his disposition to gallantry,
the Wanderer was conducted, by the walk he had chosen, through several
whimsical turns, until at last it brought him under the windows of
Victor Lee's apartment, where he descried Alice watering and arranging
some flowers placed on the oriel window, which was easily accessible by
daylight, although at night he had found it a dangerous attempt to scale
it. But not Alice only, her father also showed himself near the window,
and beckoned him up. The family party seemed now more promising than
before, and the fugitive Prince was weary of playing battledore and
shuttlecock with his conscience, and much disposed to let matters go as
chance should determine.
He climbed lightly up the broken ascent, and was readily welcomed by the
old knight, who held activity in high honour. Alice also seemed glad to
see the lively and interesting young man; and by her presence, and the
unaffected mirth with which she enjoyed his sallies, he was animated to
display those qualities of wit and humour, which nobody possessed in a
His satire delighted the old gentleman, who laughed till his eyes ran
over as he heard the youth, whose claims to his respect he little
dreamed of, amusing him with successive imitations of the Scottish
Presbyterian clergymen, of the proud and poor Hidalgo of the North, of
the fierce and over-weening pride and Celtic dialect of the mountain
chief, of the slow and more pedantic Lowlander, with all of which his
residence in Scotland had made him familiar. Alice also laughed, and
applauded, amused herself, and delighted to see that her father was so;
and the whole party were in the highest glee, when Albert Lee entered,
eager to find Louis Kerneguy, and to lead him away to a private colloquy
with Dr. Rochecliffe, whose zeal, assiduity, and wonderful possession of
information, had constituted him their master-pilot in those difficult
It is unnecessary to introduce the reader to the minute particulars of
their conference. The information obtained was so far favourable, that
the enemy seemed to have had no intelligence of the King's route towards
the south, and remained persuaded that he had made his escape from
Bristol, as had been reported, and as had indeed been proposed; but the
master of the vessel prepared for the King's passage had taken the
alarm, and sailed without his royal freight. His departure, however, and
the suspicion of the service in which he was engaged, served to make the
belief general, that the King had gone off along with him.
But though this was cheering, the Doctor had more unpleasant tidings
from the sea-coast, alleging great difficulties in securing a vessel, to
which it might be fit to commit a charge so precious; and, above all,
requesting his Majesty might on no account venture to approach the
shore, until he should receive advice that all the previous arrangements
had been completely settled.
No one was able to suggest a safer place of residence than that which he
at present occupied. Colonel Everard was deemed certainly not personally
unfriendly to the King; and Cromwell, as was supposed, reposed in
Everard an unbounded confidence. The interior presented numberless
hiding-places, and secret modes of exit, known to no one but the ancient
residents of the Lodge--nay, far better to Rochecliffe than to any of
them; as, when Rector at the neighbouring town, his prying disposition
as an antiquary had induced him to make very many researches among the
old ruins--the results of which he was believed, in some instances, to
have kept to himself.
To balance these conveniences, it was no doubt true, that the
Parliamentary Commissioners were still at no great distance, and would
be ready to resume their authority upon the first opportunity. But no
one supposed such an opportunity was likely to occur; and all believed,
as the influence of Cromwell and the army grew more and more
predominant, that the disappointed Commissioners would attempt nothing
in contradiction to his pleasure, but wait with patience an
indemnification in some other quarter for their vacated commissions.
Report, through the voice of Master Joseph Tomkins, stated, that they
had determined, in the first place, to retire to Oxford, and were making
preparations accordingly. This promised still farther to insure the
security of Woodstock. It was therefore settled, that the King, under
the character of Louis Kerneguy, should remain an inmate of the Lodge,
until a vessel should be procured for his escape, at the port which
might be esteemed the safest and most convenient.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FOURTH.
The deadliest snakes are those which, twined 'mongst flowers,
Blend their bright colouring with the varied blossoms,
Their fierce eyes glittering like the spangled dew-drop;
In all so like what nature has most harmless,
That sportive innocence, which dreads no danger,
Is poison'd unawares.
Charles (we must now give him his own name) was easily reconciled to the
circumstances which rendered his residence at Woodstock advisable. No
doubt he would much rather have secured his safety by making an
immediate escape out of England; but he had been condemned already to
many uncomfortable lurking-places, and more disagreeable disguises, as
well as to long and difficult journeys, during which, between
pragmatical officers of justice belonging to the prevailing party, and
parties of soldiers whose officers usually took on them to act on their
own warrant, risk of discovery had more than once become very imminent.
He was glad, therefore, of comparative repose, and of comparative
Then it must be considered, that Charles had been entirely reconciled to
the society at Woodstock since he had become better acquainted with it.
He had seen, that, to interest the beautiful Alice, and procure a great
deal of her company, nothing more was necessary than to submit to the
humours, and cultivate the intimacy, of the old cavalier her father. A
few bouts at fencing, in which Charles took care not to put out his more
perfect skill, and full youthful strength and activity--the endurance of
a few scenes from Shakspeare, which the knight read with more zeal than
taste--a little skill in music, in which the old man had been a
proficient--the deference paid to a few old-fashioned opinions, at which
Charles laughed in his sleeve--were all-sufficient to gain for the
disguised Prince an interest in Sir Henry Lee, and to conciliate in an
equal degree the good-will of his lovely daughter.
Never were there two young persons who could be said to commence this
species of intimacy with such unequal advantages. Charles was a
libertine, who, if he did not in cold blood resolve upon prosecuting his
passion for Alice to a dishonourable conclusion, was at every moment
liable to be provoked to attempt the strength of a virtue, in which he
was no believer. Then Alice, on her part, hardly knew even what was
implied by the word libertine or seducer. Her mother had died early in
the commencement of the Civil War, and she had been bred up chiefly with
her brother and cousin; so that she had an unfearing and unsuspicious
frankness of manner, upon which Charles was not unwilling or unlikely to
put a construction favourable to his own views. Even Alice's love for
her cousin--the first sensation which awakens the most innocent and
simple mind to feelings of shyness and restraint towards the male sex in
general--had failed to excite such an alarm in her bosom. They were
nearly related; and Everard, though young, was several years her elder,
and had, from her infancy, been an object of her respect as well as of
her affection. When this early and childish intimacy ripened into
youthful love, confessed and returned, still it differed in some shades
from the passion existing between lovers originally strangers to each
other, until their affections have been united in the ordinary course of
courtship. Their love was fonder, more familiar, more perfectly
confidential; purer too, perhaps, and more free from starts of
passionate violence, or apprehensive jealousy.
The possibility that any one could have attempted to rival Everard in
her affection, was a circumstance which never occurred to Alice; and
that this singular Scottish lad, whom she laughed with on account of his
humour, and laughed at for his peculiarities, should be an object of
danger or of caution, never once entered her imagination. The sort of
intimacy to which she admitted Kerneguy was the same to which she would
have received a companion of her own sex, whose manners she did not
always approve, but whose society she found always amusing.
It was natural that the freedom of Alice Lee's conduct, which arose from
the most perfect indifference, should pass for something approaching to
encouragement in the royal gallant's apprehension, and that any
resolutions he had formed against being tempted to violate the
hospitality of Woodstock, should begin to totter, as opportunities for
doing so became more frequent.
These opportunities were favoured by Albert's departure from Woodstock
the very day after his arrival. It had been agreed, in full council with
Charles and Rochecliffe, that he should go to visit his uncle Everard in
the county of Kent, and, by showing himself there, obviate any cause of
suspicion which might arise from his residence at Woodstock, and remove
any pretext for disturbing his father's family on account of their
harbouring one who had been so lately in arms. He had also undertaken,
at his own great personal risk, to visit different points on the
sea-coast, and ascertain the security of different places for providing
shipping for the King's leaving England.
These circumstances were alike calculated to procure the King's safety,
and facilitate his escape. But Alice was thereby deprived of the
presence of her brother, who would have been her most watchful guardian,
but who had set down the King's light talk upon a former occasion to the
gaiety of his humour, and would have thought he had done his sovereign
great injustice, had he seriously suspected him of such a breach of
hospitality as a dishonourable pursuit of Alice would have implied.
There were, however, two of the household at Woodstock, who appeared not
so entirely reconciled with Louis Kerneguy or his purposes. The one was
Bevis, who seemed, from their first unfriendly rencontre, to have kept
up a pique against their new guest, which no advances on the part of
Charles were able to soften. If the page was by chance left alone with
his young mistress, Bevis chose always to be of the party; came close by
Alice's chair, and growled audibly when the gallant drew near her. "It
is a pity," said the disguised Prince, "that your Bevis is not a
bull-dog, that we might dub him a roundhead at once--He is too handsome,
too noble, too aristocratic, to nourish those inhospitable prejudices
against a poor houseless cavalier. I am convinced the spirit of Pym or
Hampden has transmigrated into the rogue and continues to demonstrate
his hatred against royalty and all its adherents."
Alice would then reply, that Bevis was loyal in word and deed, and only
partook her father's prejudices against the Scots, which, she could not
but acknowledge, were tolerably strong.
"Nay, then," said the supposed Louis, "I must find some other reason,
for I cannot allow Sir Bevis's resentment to rest upon national
antipathy. So we will suppose that some gallant cavalier, who wended to
the wars and never returned, has adopted this shape to look back upon
the haunts he left so unwillingly, and is jealous at seeing even poor
Louis Kerneguy drawing near to the lady of his lost affections."--He
approached her chair as he spoke, and Bevis gave one of his deep growls.
"In that case, you had best keep your distance," said Alice, laughing,
"for the bite of a dog, possessed by the ghost of a jealous lover,
cannot be very safe." And the King carried on the dialogue in the same
strain--which, while it led Alice to apprehend nothing more serious than
the apish gallantry of a fantastic boy, certainly induced the supposed
Louis Kerneguy to think that he had made one of those conquests which
often and easily fall to the share of sovereigns. Notwithstanding the
acuteness of his apprehension, he was not sufficiently aware that the
Royal Road to female favour is only open to monarchs when they travel in
grand costume, and that when they woo incognito, their path of courtship
is liable to the same windings and obstacles which obstruct the course
of private individuals.
There was, besides Bevis, another member of the family, who kept a
look-out upon Louis Kerneguy, and with no friendly eye. Phoebe
Mayflower, though her experience extended not beyond the sphere of the
village, yet knew the world much better than her mistress, and besides
she was five years older. More knowing, she was more suspicious. She
thought that odd-looking Scotch boy made more up to her young mistress
than was proper for his condition of life; and, moreover, that Alice
gave him a little more encouragement than Parthenia would have afforded
to any such Jack-a-dandy, in the absence of Argalus--for the volume
treating of the loves of these celebrated Arcadians was then the
favourite study of swains and damsels throughout merry England.
Entertaining such suspicions, Phoebe was at a loss how to conduct
herself on the occasion, and yet resolved she would not see the
slightest chance of the course of Colonel Everard's true love being
obstructed, without attempting a remedy. She had a peculiar favour for
Markham herself; and, moreover, he was, according to her phrase, as
handsome and personable a young man as was in Oxfordshire; and this
Scottish scarecrow was no more to be compared to him than chalk was to
cheese. And yet she allowed that Master Girnigy had a wonderfully
well-oiled tongue, and that such gallants were not to be despised. What
was to be done?--she had no facts to offer, only vague suspicion; and
was afraid to speak to her mistress, whose kindness, great as it was,
did not, nevertheless, encourage familiarity.
She sounded Joceline; but he was, she knew not why, so deeply interested
about this unlucky lad, and held his importance so high, that she could
make no impression on him. To speak to the old knight would have been to
raise a general tempest. The worthy chaplain, who was, at Woodstock,
grand referee on all disputed matters, would have been the damsel's most
natural resource, for he was peaceful as well as moral by profession,
and politic by practice. But it happened he had given Phoebe
unintentional offence by speaking of her under the classical epithet of
_Rustica Fidele_, the which epithet, as she understood it not, she held
herself bound to resent as contumelious, and declaring she was not
fonder of a _fiddle_ than other folk, had ever since shunned all
intercourse with Dr. Rochecliffe which she could easily avoid.
Master Tomkins was always coming and going about the house under various
pretexts; but he was a roundhead, and she was too true to the cavaliers
to introduce any of the enemy as parties to their internal discords;
besides, he had talked to Phoebe herself in a manner which induced her
to decline everything in the shape of familiarity with him. Lastly,
Cavaliero Wildrake might have been consulted; but Phoebe had her own
reasons for saying, as she did with some emphasis, that Cavaliero
Wildrake was an impudent London rake. At length she resolved to
communicate her suspicions to the party having most interest in
verifying or confuting them.
"I'll let Master Markham Everard know, that there is a wasp buzzing
about his honey-comb," said Phoebe; "and, moreover, that I know that
this young Scotch Scapegrace shifted himself out of a woman's into a
man's dress at Goody Green's, and gave Goody Green's Dolly a gold-piece
to say nothing about it; and no more she did to any one but me, and she
knows best herself whether she gave change for the gold or not--but
Master Louis is a saucy jackanapes, and like enough to ask it."
Three or four days elapsed while matters continued in this
condition--the disguised Prince sometimes thinking on the intrigue which
Fortune seemed to have thrown in his way for his amusement, and taking
advantage of such opportunities as occurred to increase his intimacy
with Alice Lee; but much oftener harassing Dr. Rochecliffe with
questions about the possibility of escape, which the good man finding
himself unable to answer, secured his leisure against royal importunity,
by retreating into the various unexplored recesses of the Lodge, known
perhaps only to himself, who had been for nearly a score of years
employed in writing the Wonders of Woodstock.
It chanced on the fourth day, that some trifling circumstance had called
the knight abroad; and he had left the young Scotsman, now familiar in
the family, along with Alice, in the parlour of Victor Lee. Thus
situated, he thought the time not unpropitious for entering upon a
strain of gallantry, of a kind which might be called experimental, such
as is practised by the Croats in skirmishing, when they keep bridle in
hand, ready to attack the enemy, or canter off without coming to close
quarters, as circumstances may recommend. After using for nearly ten
minutes a sort of metaphysical jargon, which might, according to Alice's
pleasure, have been interpreted either into gallantry, or the language
of serious pretension, and when he supposed her engaged in fathoming his
meaning, he had the mortification to find, by a single and brief
question, that he had been totally unattended to, and that Alice was
thinking on anything at the moment rather than the sense of what he had
been saying. She asked him if he could tell what it was o'clock, and
this with an air of real curiosity concerning the lapse of time, which
put coquetry wholly out of the question.
"I will go look at the sundial, Mistress Alice," said the gallant,
rising and colouring, through a sense of the contempt with which he
thought himself treated.
"You will do me a pleasure, Master Kerneguy," said Alice, without the
least consciousness of the indignation she had excited.
Master Louis Kerneguy left the room accordingly, not, however, to
procure the information required, but to vent his anger and
mortification, and to swear, with more serious purpose than he had dared
to do before, that Alice should rue her insolence. Good-natured as he
was, he was still a prince, unaccustomed to contradiction, far less to
contempt, and his self pride felt, for the moment, wounded to the quick.
With a hasty step he plunged into the Chase, only remembering his own
safety so far as to choose the deeper and sequestered avenues, where,
walking on with the speedy and active step, which his recovery from
fatigue now permitted him to exercise according to his wont, he solaced
his angry purposes, by devising schemes of revenge on the insolent
country coquette, from which no consideration of hospitality was in
future to have weight enough to save her.
The irritated gallant passed
"The dial-stone, aged and green,"
without deigning to ask it a single question; nor could it have
satisfied his curiosity if he had, for no sun happened to shine at the
moment. He then hastened forward, muffling himself in his cloak, and
assuming a stooping and slouching gait, which diminished his apparent
height. He was soon involved in the deep and dim alleys of the wood,
into which he had insensibly plunged himself, and was traversing it at a
great rate, without having any distinct idea in what direction he was
going, when suddenly his course was arrested, first by a loud hello, and
then by a summons to stand, accompanied by what seemed still more
startling and extraordinary, the touch of a cane upon his shoulder,
imposed in a good-humoured but somewhat imperious manner.
There were few symptoms of recognition which would have been welcome at
this moment; but the appearance of the person who had thus arrested his
course, was least of all that he could have anticipated as timely or
agreeable. When he turned, on receiving the signal, he beheld himself
close to a young man, nearly six feet in height, well made in joint and
limb, but the gravity of whose apparel, although handsome and
gentlemanlike, and a sort of precision in his habit, from the cleanness
and stiffness of his band to the unsullied purity of his Spanish-leather
shoes, bespoke a love of order which was foreign to the impoverished and
vanquished cavaliers, and proper to the habits of those of the
victorious party, who could afford to dress themselves handsomely; and
whose rule--that is, such as regarded the higher and more respectable
classes--enjoined decency and sobriety of garb and deportment. There was
yet another weight against the Prince in the scale, and one still more
characteristic of the inequality in the comparison, under which he
seemed to labour. There was strength in the muscular form of the
stranger who had brought him to this involuntary parley, authority and
determination in his brow, a long rapier on the left, and a poniard or
dagger on the right side of his belt, and a pair of pistols stuck into
it, which would have been sufficient to give the unknown the advantage,
(Louis Kerneguy having no weapon but his sword,) even had his personal
strength approached nearer than it did to that of the person by whom he
was thus suddenly stopped.
Bitterly regretting the thoughtless fit of passion that brought him into
his present situation, but especially the want of the pistols he had
left behind, and which do so much to place bodily strength and weakness
upon an equal footing, Charles yet availed himself of the courage and
presence of mind, in which few of his unfortunate family had for
centuries been deficient. He stood firm and without motion, his cloak
still wrapped round the lower part of his face, to give time for
explanation, in case he was mistaken for some other person.
This coolness produced its effect; for the other party said,--with doubt
and surprise on his part, "Joceline Joliffe, is it not?--if I know not
Joceline Joliffe, I should at least know my own cloak."
"I am not Joceline Joliffe, as you may see, sir," said Kerneguy, calmly,
drawing himself erect to show the difference of size, and dropping the
cloak from his face and person.
"Indeed!" replied the stranger, in surprise; "then, Sir Unknown, I have
to express my regret at having used my cane in intimating that I wished
you to stop. From that dress, which I certainly recognise for my own, I
concluded you must be Joceline, in whose custody I had left my habit at
"If it had been Joceline, sir," replied the supposed Kerneguy, with
perfect composure, "methinks you should not have struck so hard." The
other party was obviously confused by the steady calmness with which he
was encountered. The sense of politeness dictated, in the first place,
an apology for a mistake, when he thought he had been tolerably certain
of the person. Master Kerneguy was not in a situation to be punctilious;
he bowed gravely, as indicating his acceptance of the excuse offered,
then turned, and walked, as he conceived, towards the Lodge; though he
had traversed the woods which were cut with various alleys in different
directions, too hastily to be certain of the real course which he wished
He was much embarrassed to find that this did not get him rid of the
companion whom he had thus involuntarily acquired. Walked he slow,
walked he fast, his friend in the genteel but puritanic habit, strong in
person, and well armed, as we have described him, seemed determined to
keep him company, and, without attempting to join, or enter into
conversation, never suffered him to outstrip his surveillance for more
than two or three yards. The Wanderer mended his pace; but, although he
was then, in his youth, as afterwards in his riper age, one of the best
walkers in Britain, the stranger, without advancing his pace to a run,
kept fully equal to him, and his persecution became so close and
constant, and inevitable, that the pride and fear of Charles were both
alarmed, and he began to think that, whatever the danger might be of a
single-handed rencontre, he would nevertheless have a better bargain of
this tall satellite if they settled the debate betwixt them in the
forest, than if they drew near any place of habitation, where the man in
authority was likely to find friends and concurrents.
Betwixt anxiety, therefore, vexation, and anger, Charles faced suddenly
round on his pursuer, as they reached a small narrow glade, which led to
the little meadow over which presided the King's Oak, the ragged and
scathed branches and gigantic trunk of which formed a vista to the
little wild avenue.
"Sir," said he to his pursuer, "you have already been guilty of one
piece of impertinence towards me. You have apologised; and knowing no
reason why you should distinguish me as an object of incivility, I have
accepted your excuse without scruple. Is there any thing remains to be
settled betwixt us, which causes you to follow me in this manner? If so,
I shall be glad to make it a subject of explanation or satisfaction, as
the case may admit of. I think you can owe me no malice; for I never saw
you before to my knowledge. If you can give any good reason for asking
it, I am willing to render you personal satisfaction. If your purpose is
merely impertinent curiosity, I let you know that I will not suffer
myself to be dogged in my private walks by any one."
"When I recognise my own cloak on another man's shoulders," replied the
stranger, dryly, "methinks I have a natural right to follow and see what
becomes of it; for know, sir, though I have been mistaken as to the
wearer, yet I am confident I had as good a right to stretch my cane
across the cloak you are muffled in, as ever had any one to brush his
own garments. If, therefore, we are to be friends, I must ask, for
instance, how you came by that cloak, and where you are going with it? I
shall otherwise make bold to stop you, as one who has sufficient
commission to do so."
"Oh, unhappy cloak," thought the Wanderer, "ay, and thrice unhappy the
idle fancy that sent me here with it wrapped around my nose, to pick
quarrels and attract observation, when quiet and secrecy were peculiarly
essential to my safety!"
"If you will allow me to guess, sir," continued the stranger, who was no
other than Markham Everard, "I will convince you that you are better
known than you think for."
"Now, Heaven forbid!" prayed the party addressed, in silence, but with
as much devotion as ever he applied to a prayer in his life. Yet even in
this moment of extreme urgency, his courage and composure did not fail;
and he recollected it was of the utmost importance not to seem startled,
and to answer so as, if possible, to lead the dangerous companion with
whom he had met, to confess the extent of his actual knowledge or
suspicions concerning him.
"If you know me, sir," he said, "and are a gentleman, as your appearance
promises, you cannot be at a loss to discover to what accident you must
attribute my wearing these clothes, which you say are yours." "Oh, sir,"
replied Colonel Everard, his wrath in no sort turned away by the
mildness of the stranger's answer--"we have learned our Ovid's
Metamorphoses, and we know for what purposes young men of quality travel
in disguise--we know that even female attire is resorted to on certain
occasions--We have heard of Vertumnus and Pomona."
The Monarch, as he weighed these words, again uttered a devout prayer,
that this ill-looking affair might have no deeper root than the jealousy
of some admirer of Alice Lee, promising to himself, that, devotee as he
was to the fair sex, he would make no scruple of renouncing the fairest
of Eve's daughters in order to get out of the present dilemma.
"Sir," he said, "you seem to be a gentleman. I have no objection to tell
you, as such, that I also am of that class."
"Or somewhat higher, perhaps?" said Everard.
"A gentleman," replied Charles, "is a term which comprehends all ranks
entitled to armorial bearings--A duke, a lord, a prince, is no more than
a gentleman; and if in misfortune as I am, he may be glad if that
general term of courtesy is allowed him."
"Sir," replied Everard, "I have no purpose to entrap you to any
acknowledgment fatal to your own safety,--nor do I hold it my business
to be active in the arrest of private individuals, whose perverted sense
of national duty may have led them into errors, rather to be pitied than
punished by candid men. But if those who have brought civil war and
disturbance into their native country, proceed to carry dishonour and
disgrace into the bosom of families--if they attempt to carry on their
private debaucheries to the injury of the hospitable roofs which afford
them refuge from the consequences of their public crimes, do you think,
my lord, that we shall bear it with patience?"
"If it is your purpose to quarrel with me," said the Prince, "speak it
out at once like a gentleman. You have the advantage, no doubt, of arms;
but it is not that odds which will induce me to fly from a single man.
If, on the other hand, you are disposed to hear reason, I tell you in
calm words, that I neither suspect the offence to which you allude, nor
comprehend why you give me the title of my Lord."
"You deny, then, being the Lord Wilmot?" said Everard.
"I may do so most safely," said the Prince.
"Perhaps you rather style yourself Earl of Rochester? We heard that the
issuing of some such patent by the King of Scots was a step which your
"Neither lord nor earl am I, as sure as I have a Christian soul to be
saved. My name is"--
"Do not degrade yourself by unnecessary falsehood, my lord; and that to
a single man, who, I promise you, will not invoke public justice to
assist his own good sword should he see cause to use it. Can you look at
that ring, and deny that you are Lord Wilmot?"
He handed to the disguised Prince a ring which he took from his purse,
and his opponent instantly knew it for the same he had dropped into
Alice's pitcher at the fountain, obeying only, through imprudently, the
gallantry of the moment, in giving a pretty gem to a handsome girl, whom
he had accidentally frightened.
"I know the ring," he said; "it has been in my possession. How it should
prove me to be Lord Wilmot, I cannot conceive; and beg to say, it bears
false witness against me."
"You shall see the evidence," answered Everard; and, resuming the ring,
he pressed a spring ingeniously contrived in the collet of the setting,
on which the stone flew back, and showed within it the cipher of Lord
Wilmot beautifully engraved in miniature, with a coronet.--"What say you
"That probabilities are no proofs," said the Prince; "there is nothing
here save what may be easily accounted for. I am the son of a Scottish
nobleman, who was mortally wounded and made prisoner at Worcester fight.
When he took leave, and bid me fly, he gave me the few valuables he
possessed, and that among others. I have heard him talk of having
changed rings with Lord Wilmot, on some occasion in Scotland, but I
never knew the trick of the gem which you have shown me."
In this it may be necessary to say, Charles spoke very truly; nor would
he have parted with it in the way he did, had he suspected it would be
easily recognised. He proceeded after a minute's pause:--"Once more,
sir--I have told you much that concerns my safety--if you are generous,
you will let me pass, and I may do you on some future day as good
service. If you mean to arrest me, you must do so here, and at your own
peril, for I will neither walk farther your way, nor permit you to dog
me on mine. If you let me pass, I will thank you: if not, take to your
"Young gentleman," said Colonel Everard, "whether you be actually the
gay young nobleman for whom I took you, you have made me uncertain; but,
intimate as you say your family has been with him, I have little doubt
that you are proficient in the school of debauchery, of which Wilmot and
Villiers are professors, and their hopeful Master a graduated student.
Your conduct at Woodstock, where you have rewarded the hospitality of
the family by meditating the most deadly wound to their honour, has
proved you too apt a scholar in such an academy. I intended only to warn
you on this subject--it will be your own fault if I add chastisement to
"Warn me, sir!" said the Prince indignantly, "and chastisement! This is
presuming more on my patience than is consistent with your own safety--
Draw, sir."--So saying, he laid his hand on his sword.
"My religion," said Everard, "forbids me to be rash in shedding
blood--Go home, sir--be wise--consult the dictates of honour as well as
prudence. Respect the honour of the House of Lee, and know there is one
nearly allied to it, by whom your motions will be called to severe
"Aha!" said the Prince, with a bitter laugh, "I see the whole matter
now--we have our roundheaded Colonel, our puritan cousin before us--the
man of texts and morals, whom Alice Lee laughs at so heartily. If your
religion, sir, prevents you from giving satisfaction, it should prevent
you from offering insult to a person of honour."
The passions of both were now fully up--they drew mutually, and began to
fight, the Colonel relinquishing the advantage he could have obtained by
the use of his fire-arms. A thrust of the arm, or a slip of the foot,
might, at the moment, have changed the destinies of Britain, when the
arrival of a third party broke off the combat.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIFTH.
Stay--for the King has thrown his warder down.
The combatants, whom we left engaged at the end of the last chapter,
made mutual passes at each other with apparently equal skill and
courage. Charles had been too often in action, and too long a party as
well as a victim to civil war, to find any thing new or surprising in
being obliged to defend himself with his own hands; and Everard had been
distinguished, as well for his personal bravery, as for the other
properties of a commander. But the arrival of a third party prevented
the tragic conclusion of a combat, in which the success of either party
must have given him much cause for regretting his victory.
It was the old knight himself, who arrived, mounted upon a forest pony,
for the war and sequestration had left him no steed of a more dignified
description. He thrust himself between the combatants, and commanded
them on their lives to hold. So soon as a glance from one to the other
had ascertained to him whom he had to deal with, he demanded, "Whether
the devils of Woodstock, whom folk talked about, had got possession of
them both, that they were tilting at each other within the verge of the
royal liberties? Let me tell both of you," he said, "that while old
Henry Lee is at Woodstock, the immunities of the Park shall be
maintained as much as if the King were still on the throne. None shall
fight duellos here, excepting the stags in their season. Put up, both of
you, or I shall lug out as thirdsman, and prove perhaps the worst devil
of the three!--As Will says--
'I'll so maul you and your toasting-irons,
That you shall think the devil has come from hell.'"
The combatants desisted from their encounter, but stood looking at each
other sullenly, as men do in such a situation, each unwilling to seem to
desire peace more than the other, and averse therefore to be the first
to sheathe his sword.
"Return your weapons, gentlemen, upon the spot," said the knight yet
more peremptorily, "one and both of you, or you will have something to
do with me, I promise you. You may be thankful times are changed. I have
known them such, that your insolence might have cost each of you your
right hand, if not redeemed with a round sum of money. Nephew, if you do
not mean to alienate me for ever, I command you to put up.--Master
Kerneguy, you are my guest. I request of you not to do me the insult of
remaining with your sword drawn, where it is my duty to see peace
"I obey you, Sir Henry," said the King, sheathing his rapier--"I hardly
indeed know wherefore I was assaulted by this gentleman. I assure you,
none respects the King's person or privileges more than myself--though
the devotion is somewhat out of fashion."
"We may find a place to meet, sir," replied Everard, "where neither the
royal person nor privileges can be offended."
"Faith, very hardly, sir," said Charles, unable to suppress the rising
jest--"I mean, the King has so few followers, that the loss of the least
of them might be some small damage to him; but, risking all that, I will
meet you wherever there is fair field for a poor cavalier to get off in
safety, if he has the luck in fight."
Sir Henry Lee's first idea had been fixed upon the insult offered to the
royal demesne; he now began to turn them towards the safety of his
kinsman, and of the young royalist, as he deemed him. "Gentlemen," he
said, "I must insist on this business being put to a final end. Nephew
Markham, is this your return for my condescension in coming back to
Woodstock on your warrant, that you should take an opportunity to cut
the throat of my guest?"
"If you knew his purpose as well as I do,"--said Markham, and then
paused, conscious that he might only incense his uncle without
convincing him, as any thing he might say of Kerneguy's addresses to
Alice was likely to be imputed to his own jealous suspicions--he looked
on the ground, therefore, and was silent.
"And you, Master Kerneguy," said Sir Henry, "can you give me any reason
why you seek to take the life of this young man, in whom, though
unhappily forgetful of his loyalty and duty, I must yet take some
interest, as my nephew by affinity?"
"I was not aware the gentleman enjoyed that honour, which certainly
would have protected him from my sword," answered Kerneguy. "But the
quarrel is his; nor can I tell any reason why he fixed it upon me,
unless it were the difference of our political opinions."
"You know the contrary," said Everard; "you know that I told you you
were safe from me as a fugitive royalist--and your last words showed you
were at no loss to guess my connexion with Sir Henry. That, indeed, is
of little consequence. I should debase myself did I use the relationship
as a means of protection from you, or any one."
As they thus disputed, neither choosing to approach the real cause of
quarrel, Sir Henry looked from one to the other, with a peace-making
"'Why, what an intricate impeach is this?
I think you both have drunk of Circe's cup.'
"Come, my young masters, allow an old man to mediate between you. I am
not shortsighted in such matters--The mother of mischief is no bigger
than a gnat's wing; and I have known fifty instances in my own day,
when, as Will says--
'Gallants have been confronted hardily,
In single opposition, hand to hand.'
in which, after the field was fought, no one could remember the cause of
quarrel.--Tush! a small thing will do it--the taking of the wall--or the
gentle rub of the shoulder in passing each other, or a hasty word, or a
misconceived gesture--Come, forget your cause of quarrel, be what it
will--you have had your breathing, and though you put up your rapiers
unbloodied, that was no default of yours, but by command of your elder,
and one who had right to use authority. In Malta, where the duello is
punctiliously well understood, the persons engaged in a single combat
are bound to halt on the command of a knight, or priest, or lady, and
the quarrel so interrupted is held as honourably terminated, and may not
be revived.--Nephew, it is, I think, impossible that you can nourish
spleen against this young gentleman for having fought for his king. Hear
my honest proposal, Markham--You know I bear no malice, though I have
some reason to be offended with you--Give the young man your hand in
friendship, and we will back to the Lodge, all three together, and drink
a cup of sack in token of reconciliation."
Markham Everard found himself unable to resist this approach towards
kindness on his uncle's part. He suspected, indeed, what was partly the
truth, that it was not entirely from reviving good-will, but also, that
his uncle thought, by such attention, to secure his neutrality at least,
if not his assistance, for the safety of the fugitive royalist. He was
sensible that he was placed in an awkward predicament; and that he might
incur the suspicions of his own party, for holding intercourse even with
a near relation, who harboured such guests. But, on the other hand, he
thought his services to the Commonwealth had been of sufficient
importance to outweigh whatever envy might urge on that topic. Indeed,
although the Civil War had divided families much, and in many various
ways, yet when it seemed ended by the triumph of the republicans, the
rage of political hatred began to relent, and the ancient ties of
kindred and friendship regained at least a part of their former
influence. Many reunions were formed; and those who, like Everard,
adhered to the conquering party, often exerted themselves for the
protection of their deserted relatives.
As these things rushed through his mind, accompanied with the prospect
of a renewed intercourse with Alice Lee, by means of which he might be
at hand to protect her against every chance, either of injury or insult,
he held out his hand to the supposed Scottish page, saying at the same
time, "That, for his part, he was very ready to forget the cause of
quarrel, or rather, to consider it as arising out of a misapprehension,
and to offer Master Kerneguy such friendship as might exist between
honourable men, who had embraced different sides in politics."
Unable to overcome the feeling of personal dignity, which prudence
recommended him to forget, Louis Kerneguy in return bowed low, but
without accepting Everard's proffered hand.
"He had no occasion," he said, "to make any exertions to forget the
cause of quarrel, for he had never been able to comprehend it; but as he
had not shunned the gentleman's resentment, so he was now willing to
embrace and return any degree of his favour, with which he might be
pleased to honour him."
Everard withdrew his hand with a smile, and bowed in return to the
salutation of the page, whose stiff reception of his advances he imputed
to the proud pettish disposition of a Scotch boy, trained up in
extravagant ideas of family consequence and personal importance, which
his acquaintance with the world had not yet been sufficient to dispel.
Sir Henry Lee, delighted with the termination of the quarrel, which he
supposed to be in deep deference to his own authority, and not
displeased with the opportunity of renewing some acquaintance with his
nephew, who had, notwithstanding his political demerits, a warmer
interest in his affections than he was, perhaps, himself aware of, said,
in a tone of consolation, "Never be mortified, young gentlemen. I
protest it went to my heart to part you, when I saw you stretching
yourselves so handsomely, and in fair love of honour, without any
malicious or blood-thirsty thoughts. I promise you, had it not been for
my duty as Ranger here, and sworn to the office, I would rather have
been your umpire than your hinderance.--But a finished quarrel is a
forgotten quarrel; and your tilting should have no further consequence
excepting the appetite it may have given you."
So saying, he urged forward his pony, and moved in triumph towards the
Lodge by the nearest alley. His feet almost touching the ground, the
ball of his toe just resting in the stirrup,--the forepart of the thigh
brought round to the saddle,--the heels turned outwards, and sunk as
much as possible,--his body precisely erect,--the reins properly and
systematically divided in his left hand, his right holding a riding-rod
diagonally pointed towards the horse's left ear,--he seemed a champion
of the manege, fit to have reined Bucephalus himself. His youthful
companions, who attended on either hand like equerries, could scarcely
suppress a smile at the completely adjusted and systematic posture of
the rider, contrasted with the wild and diminutive appearance of the
pony, with its shaggy coat, and long tail and mane, and its keen eyes
sparkling like red coals from amongst the mass of hair which fell over
its small countenance. If the reader has the Duke of Newcastle's book on
horsemanship, (_splendida moles!_) he may have some idea of the figure
of the good knight, if he can conceive such a figure as one of the
cavaliers there represented, seated, in all the graces of his art, on a
Welsh or Exmoor pony, in its native savage state, without grooming or
discipline of any kind; the ridicule being greatly enhanced by the
disproportion of size betwixt the animal and its rider.
Perhaps the knight saw their wonder, for the first words he said after
they left the ground were, "Pixie, though small, is mettlesome,
gentlemen," (here he contrived that Pixie should himself corroborate the
assertion, by executing a gambade,)--"he is diminutive, but full of
spirit;--indeed, save that I am somewhat too large for an elfin
horseman," (the knight was upwards of six feet high,) "I should remind
myself, when I mount him, of the Fairy King, as described by Mike
Himself he on an ear-wig set,
Yet scarce upon his back could get,
So oft and high he did curvet,
Ere he himself did settle.
He made him stop, and turn, and bound,
To gallop, and to trot the round.
He scarce could stand on any ground,
He was so full of mettle.'"
"My old friend, Pixie," said Everard, stroking the pony's neck, "I am
glad that he has survived all these bustling days--Pixie must be above
twenty years old, Sir Henry?"
"Above twenty years, certainly. Yes, nephew Markham, war is a whirlwind
in a plantation, which only spares what is least worth leaving. Old
Pixie and his old master have survived many a tall fellow, and many a
great horse--neither of them good for much themselves. Yet, as Will
says, an old man can do somewhat. So Pixie and I still survive."
So saying, he again contrived that Pixie should show some remnants of
"Still survive?" said the young Scot, completing the sentence which the
good knight had left unfinished--"ay, still survive,
'To witch the world with noble horsemanship.'"
Everard coloured, for he felt the irony; but not so his uncle, whose
simple vanity never permitted him to doubt the sincerity of the
"Are you advised of that?" he said. "In King James's time, indeed, I
have appeared in the tilt-yard, and there you might have said--
'You saw young Harry with his beaver up.'
"As to seeing _old_ Harry, why"--Here the knight paused, and looked as a
bashful man in labour of a pun--"As to old Harry--why, you might as well
see the _devil_. You take me, Master Kerneguy--the devil, you know, is
my namesake--ha--ha--ha!--Cousin Everard, I hope your precision is not
startled by an innocent jest?"
He was so delighted with the applause of both his companions, that he
recited the whole of the celebrated passage referred to, and concluded
with defying the present age, bundle all its wits, Donne, Cowley,
Waller, and the rest of them together, to produce a poet of a tenth part
of the genius of old Will.
"Why, we are said to have one of his descendants among us--Sir William
D'Avenant," said Louis Kerneguy; "and many think him as clever a
"What!" exclaimed Sir Henry--"Will D'Avenant, whom I knew in the North,
an officer under Newcastle, when the Marquis lay before Hull?--why, he
was an honest cavalier, and wrote good doggrel enough; but how came he
a-kin to Will Shakspeare, I trow?"
"Why," replied the young Scot, "by the surer side of the house, and
after the old fashion, if D'Avenant speaks truth. It seems that his
mother was a good-looking, laughing, buxom mistress of an inn between
Stratford and London, at which Will Shakspeare often quartered as he
went down to his native town; and that out of friendship and gossipred,
as we say in Scotland, Will Shakspeare became godfather to Will
D'Avenant; and not contented with this spiritual affinity, the younger
Will is for establishing some claim to a natural one, alleging that his
mother was a great admirer of wit, and there were no bounds to her
complaisance for men of genius."
"Out upon the hound!" said Colonel Everard; "would he purchase the
reputation of descending from poet, or from prince, at the expense of
his mother's good fame?--his nose ought to be slit."
"That would be difficult," answered the disguised Prince, recollecting
the peculiarity of the bard's countenance. [Footnote: D'Avenant actually
wanted the nose, the foundation of many a jest of the day.]
"Will D'Avenant the son of Will Shakspeare?" said the knight, who had
not yet recovered his surprise at the enormity of the pretension; "why,
it reminds me of a verse in the Puppet-show of Phaeton, where the hero
complains to his mother--
'Besides, by all the village boys I am sham'd,
You the Sun's son, you rascal, you be d--d!'
"I never heard such unblushing assurance in my life!--Will D'Avenant the
son of the brightest and best poet that ever was, is, or will be?--But I
crave your pardon, nephew--You, I believe, love no stage plays."
"Nay, I am not altogether so precise as you would make me, uncle. I have
loved them perhaps too well in my time, and now I condemn them not
altogether, or in gross, though I approve not their excesses and
extravagances.--I cannot, even in Shakspeare, but see many things both
scandalous to decency and prejudicial to good manners--many things which
tend to ridicule virtue, or to recommend vice,--at least to mitigate the
hideousness of its features. I cannot think these fine poems are an
useful study, and especially for the youth of either sex, in which
bloodshed is pointed out as the chief occupation of the men, and
intrigue as the sole employment of the women."
In making these observations, Everard was simple enough to think that he
was only giving his uncle an opportunity of defending a favourite
opinion, without offending him by a contradiction, which was so limited
and mitigated. But here, as on other occasions, he forgot how obstinate
his uncle was in his views, whether of religion, policy, or taste, and
that it would be as easy to convert him to the Presbyterian form of
government, or engage him to take the abjuration oath, as to shake his
belief in Shakspeare. There was another peculiarity in the good knight's
mode of arguing, which Everard, being himself of a plain and downright
character, and one whose religious tenets were in some degree
unfavourable to the suppressions and simulations often used in society,
could never perfectly understand. Sir Henry, sensible of his natural
heat of temper, was wont scrupulously to guard against it, and would for
some time, when in fact much offended, conduct a debate with all the
external appearance of composure, till the violence of his feelings
would rise so high as to overcome and bear away the artificial barriers
opposed to it, and rush down upon the adversary with accumulating wrath.
It thus frequently happened, that, like a wily old general, he retreated
in the face of his disputant in good order and by degrees, with so
moderate a degree of resistance, as to draw on his antagonist's pursuit
to the spot, where, at length, making a sudden and unexpected attack,
with horse, foot, and artillery at once, he seldom failed to confound
the enemy, though he might not overthrow him.
It was on this principle, therefore, that, hearing Everard's last
observation, he disguised his angry feelings, and answered, with a tone
where politeness was called in to keep guard upon passion, "That
undoubtedly the Presbyterian gentry had given, through the whole of
these unhappy times, such proofs of an humble, unaspiring, and
unambitious desire of the public good, as entitled them to general
credit for the sincerity of those very strong scruples which they
entertained against works, in which the noblest, sentiments of religion
and virtue,--sentiments which might convert hardened sinners, and be
placed with propriety in the mouths of dying saints and martyrs,--
happened, from the rudeness and coarse taste of the times, to be mixed
with some broad jests, and similar matter, which lay not much in the
way, excepting of those who painfully sought such stuff out, that they
might use it in vilifying what was in itself deserving of the highest
applause. But what he wished especially to know from his nephew was,
whether any of those gifted men, who had expelled the learned scholars
and deep divines of the Church of England from the pulpit, and now
flourished in their stead, received any inspiration from the muses, (if
he might use so profane a term without offence to Colonel Everard,) or
whether they were not as sottishly and brutally averse from elegant
letters, as they were from humanity and common sense?"
Colonel Everard might have guessed, by the ironical tone in which this
speech was delivered, what storm was mustering within his uncle's
bosom--nay, he might have conjectured the state of the old knight's
feelings from his emphasis on the word Colonel, by which epithet, as
that which most connected his nephew with the party he hated, he never
distinguished Everard, unless when his wrath was rising; while, on the
contrary, when disposed to be on good terms with him, he usually called
him Kinsman, or Nephew Markham. Indeed, it was under a partial sense
that this was the case, and in the hope to see his cousin Alice, that
the Colonel forbore making any answer to the harangue of his uncle,
which had concluded just as the old knight had alighted at the door of
the Lodge, and was entering the hall, followed by his two attendants.
Phoebe at the same time made her appearance in the hall, and received
orders to bring some "beverage" for the gentlemen. The Hebe of Woodstock
failed not to recognise and welcome Everard by an almost imperceptible
curtsy; but she did not serve her interest, as she designed, when she
asked the knight, as a question of course, whether he commanded the
attendance of Mistress Alice. A stern _No_, was the decided reply; and
the ill-timed interference seemed to increase his previous irritation
against Everard for his depreciation of Shakspeare. "I would insist,"
said Sir Henry, resuming the obnoxious subject, "were it fit for a poor
disbanded cavalier to use such a phrase towards a commander of the
conquering army,--upon, knowing whether the convulsion which has sent us
saints and prophets without end, has not also afforded us a poet with
enough both of gifts and grace to outshine poor old Will, the oracle and
idol of us blinded and carnal cavaliers."
"Surely, sir," replied Colonel Everard; "I know verses written by a
friend of the Commonwealth, and those, too, of a dramatic character,
which, weighed in an impartial scale, might equal even the poetry of
Shakspeare, and which are free from the fustian and indelicacy with
which that great bard was sometimes content to feed the coarse appetites
of his barbarous audience."
"Indeed!" said the knight, keeping down his wrath with difficulty. "I
should like to be acquainted with this master-piece of poetry!--May we
ask the name of this distinguished person?"
"It must be Vicars, or Withers, at least," said the feigned page.
"No, sir," replied Everard, "nor Drummond of Hawthornden, nor Lord
Stirling neither. And yet the verses will vindicate what I say, if you
will make allowance for indifferent recitation, for I am better
accustomed to speak to a battalion than to those who love the muses. The
speaker is a lady benighted, who, having lost her way in a pathless
forest, at first expresses herself agitated by the supernatural fears to
which her situation gave rise."
"A play, too, and written by a roundhead author!" said Sir Henry in
"A dramatic production at least," replied his nephew; and began to
recite simply, but with feeling, the lines now so well known, but which
had then obtained no celebrity, the fame of the author resting upon the
basis rather of his polemical and political publications, than on the
poetry doomed in after days to support the eternal structure of his
'These thoughts may startle, but will not, astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong-siding champion, Conscience.'"
"My own opinion, nephew Markham, my own opinion," said Sir Henry, with a
burst of admiration; "better expressed, but just what I said when the
scoundrelly roundheads pretended to see ghosts at Woodstock--Go on, I
"'O welcome pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemish'd form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That he the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassail'd.--
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud.
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?'"
"The rest has escaped me," said the reciter; "and I marvel I have been
able to remember so much."
Sir Henry Lee, who had expected some effusion very different from those
classical and beautiful lines, soon changed the scornful expression of
his countenance, relaxed his contorted upper lip, and, stroking down his
beard with his left hand, rested the forefinger of the right upon his
eyebrow, in sign of profound attention. After Everard had ceased
speaking, the old man signed as at the end of a strain of sweet music.
He then spoke in a gentler manner than formerly.
"Cousin Markham," he said, "these verses flow sweetly, and sound in my
ears like the well-touched warbling of a lute. But thou knowest I am
somewhat slow of apprehending the full meaning of that which I hear for
the first time. Repeat me these verses again, slowly and deliberately;
for I always love to hear poetry twice, the first time for sound, and
the latter time for sense."
Thus encouraged, Everard recited again the lines with more hardihood and
better effect; the knight distinctly understanding, and from his looks
and motions, highly applauding them.
"Yes!" he broke out, when Everard was again silent--"Yes, I do call that
poetry--though it were even written by a Presbyterian, or an Anabaptist
either. Ay, there were good and righteous people to be found even
amongst the offending towns which were destroyed by fire. And certainly
I have heard, though with little credence (begging your pardon, cousin.
Everard,) that there are men among you who have seen the error of their
ways in rebelling against the best and kindest of masters, and bringing
it to that pass that he was murdered by a gang yet fiercer than
themselves. Ay, doubtless, the gentleness of spirit, and the purity of
mind, which dictated those beautiful lines, has long ago taught a man so
amiable to say, I have sinned, I have sinned. Yes, I doubt not so sweet
a harp has been broken, even in remorse, for the crimes he was witness
to; and now he sits drooping for the shame and sorrow of England,--all
his noble rhymes, as Will says,
'Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh.'
Dost thou not think so, Master Kerneguy?"
"Not I, Sir Henry," answered the page, somewhat maliciously.
"What, dost not believe the author of these lines must needs be of the
better file, and leaning to our persuasion?"
"I think, Sir Henry, that the poetry qualifies the author to write a
play on the subject of Dame Potiphar and her recusant lover; and as for
his calling--that last metaphor of the cloud in a black coat or cloak,
with silver lining, would have dubbed him a tailor with me, only that I
happen to know that he is a schoolmaster by profession, and by political
opinions qualified to be Poet Laureate to Cromwell; for what Colonel
Everard has repeated with such unction, is the production of no less
celebrated a person than John Milton."
"John Milton!" exclaimed Sir Henry in astonishment--"What! John Milton,
the blasphemous and bloody-minded author of the _Defensio Populi
Anglicani_!--the advocate of the infernal High Court of Fiends; the
creature and parasite of that grand impostor, that loathsome hypocrite,
that detestable monster, that prodigy of the universe, that disgrace of
mankind, that landscape of iniquity, that sink of sin, and that
compendium of baseness, Oliver Cromwell!"
"Even the same John Milton," answered Charles; "schoolmaster to little
boys, and tailor to the clouds, which he furnishes with suits of black,
lined with silver, at no other expense than that of common sense."
"Markham Everard," said the old knight, "I will never forgive thee--
never, never. Thou hast made me speak words of praise respecting one
whose offal should fatten the region-kites. Speak not to me, sir, but
begone! Am I, your kinsman and benefactor, a fit person to be juggled
out of my commendation and eulogy, and brought to bedaub such a whitened