Dorothy Forster


Walter Besant

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Table of Contents

  1. The Eve of St. John.
  2. The Forsters.
  3. The Heir of Bamborough.
  4. His Highness the Prince.
  5. Mr. Antony Hilyard.
  6. The Chief Creditor.
  7. Room for My Lord.
  8. A Prince in Israel.
  9. A Hunting Party.
  10. A Tender Conscience.
  11. Daphne.
  12. Frank Radcliffe.
  13. Christmas Eve.
  14. Christmas to Twelfth Night.
  15. New Year’s Day.
  16. A Strange Thing.
  17. He Loves Me.
  18. A Case of Conscience.
  19. My Decision.
  20. Her Ladyship’s Letter.
  21. Mr. Hilyard’s Dream.
  22. The Fugitive.
  23. What Will he Do?
  24. The Meeting at Greenrig.
  25. The First Days.
  26. Mr. Hilyard Returns.
  27. To London.
  28. Lord Crewe.
  29. In London.
  30. Lady Cowper.
  31. The Unfortunate Mr. Paul.
  32. A Noble Project.
  33. In the Town.
  34. Mr. Hilyard’s Freedom.
  35. Jenny’s Scheme.
  36. The Lords’ Trial.
  37. Frank’s Attempt.
  38. My Lord’s Last Days.
  39. Tom’s Escape.
  40. The End.

Chapter i.

The Eve of St. John.

Those who are so happy as to be born and to live out their appointed time in the North Country are not only removed from the luxuries and vices of London, but also from that wicked modern fashion of scoffing at the things which lie beyond man’s comprehension, and should therefore be accounted sacred. We of Northumberland certainly do not pretend disbelief in what is sufficiently proved, but cannot be understood. Almost everybody (every woman, indeed, without exception) has seen, some time or other, strange and wonderful things which cannot be explained. Some, it is true, have endeavoured to reason these things away by pretending the insensible and brute action of chance (among them, Mr. Hilyard tells me, a great Latin poet, named Lucretius), which is incredible unless we allow the round world and all that is therein to have been itself constructed and set a-going by accident. Others, still living, attribute the stories which abound among us to foolish credulity and ignorant superstition; unto such persons there is no answer but the evidence of things related and testified. Others again, whose opinion is to be received with respect, think they perceive in them the workings of man’s Chief Enemy. Let me, however, for my own part, following the expressed opinion of Mr. Hilyard and what I believe to have been that of my lord the late bishop, continue to think that what is permitted, though it be not understood, must be received with reverence and without too close scrutiny, as doubtless intended for no other purpose than a merciful one, videlicet, the admonition of the guilty and the encouragement of the virtuous.

To those, again, who ask (seeking to throw discredit upon these beliefs by means of an idle laugh) why the things of which I speak are more common in the north than in the south of England —— that is to say, why ghosts, spectres, witches, warlocks, elves, demons, fairies or faws, waufs, warnings, and other strange manifestations and mysterious powers, continue in the North Country, yet are rarely reported from the Home counties or south of Tyne —— I would venture to reply that (supposing the fact to be so) I know, indeed, of no other reason for the undoubted favour shown to us in this respect than the great superiority of Northumbrians over all other Englishmen in the matter of valour, strength, loyalty, and learning —— I mean, of course, when they apply themselves to study, for, as everybody knows, the gentlemen of the north are fonder of sport than of books. As for the piety of my people, much might be said and much confessed or allowed. We have, doubtless, the reputation of being hard drinkers and ready strikers; and we are also accused of smuggling and cattle-lifting. These charges are doubtless true, and cannot be denied, though of late years there has been amendment, and one should remember that there has never been a time until the present when a Northumberland man could look for continued peace or respite from fighting; nor could a rich man lie down at night with any certainty that he might not awake in the morning to find himself a poor man, his cattle lifted and his barns fired; nor could he fall asleep with an assurance that he would not be roused at night by the blazing turf, and have to boot and saddle and ride after marauders, pistol in holster, sword by side, and firelock on shoulder. This has made a race of men quick to fight and careless of life, since, willy nilly, they went daily in peril; and many families there are whose men, until a hundred years ago, never knew what it was to die in their beds. So much must be allowed my countrymen as an excuse for their readiness to strike. As to their drinking, true it is that the gentry drink much wine of France and Spain, Rhenish, claret, and mountain, with brandy, usquebaugh, Hollands, ale, cider, punch, mum, cordials, and strong waters of every kind, while the common sort follow the example of their betters as far as they can afford (in which I blame them not): but still our rough country fellows are not, so far as I know, so drunken as the rabble of London.

And as for religion, I dare maintain that no gentlemen in England go to church with greater regularity than those of Northumberland, or more dutifully repeat the responses; while the country people, though there are many parts where there is no church at all for them, do still keep up with zeal the observance, with all customary marks of respect, of the great days of the Church —— that is to say, feasting on New Year’s Day and Candlemas, fighting their cocks on Shrove Tuesday, eating parched peas on Carling Sunday, carrying round the plough at Christmas, getting up to see the sun dance at Easter Day, on May Day beating the bounds, according to ancient custom of the Church; and all with the drinking of ale continually, both small ale and October, according to their means, and plenty of honest quarter-staff, bull and badger baiting, wrestling and boxing, to keep up the spirits of the people. Moreover, there are among us, though many staunch Catholics, few, indeed, of the vermin who, under the name of Independents, Nonconformists, Whigs, and what not, have within the last eighty years murdered one King, driven another from his throne, and do still keep a third from the noble inheritance and earthly crown which are his by Divine Right. These reasons seem to me quite sufficient, without further inquiry, to account for the great blessings which we of the North Country enjoy in the shape of visits and messages from the dead, supernatural warnings, with omens, prognostications, and the spirit of prophecy. As regards fairies and certain strange spectres which are reported to linger among our old ruins, I say nothing: first, because I cannot understand the purpose served in the Great Universal Scheme by the race of fairies; and next, because, as regards the spectres, it is a thing incomprehensible to me why the ghosts of mere obscure and lowlyborn persons, such as Cuddy the Reaper or Nelly the Knocker, should be allowed so great a distinction as to continue among us, although it is seemly and becoming that the souls of great persons, such as that of the late Countess of Derwentwater (which I hear hath been recently reported to have been seen by many at Dilston) should be allowed to remain on earth as long as they please, either for the sake of weeping over the past, or of lingering in spots formerly loved, until they can take their place in Heaven.

On the Eve of St. John, in the year 1703, when Thomas Forster, Esquire, of Etherston, the elder, was Sheriff for Northumberland, I, Dorothy, his daughter, was at the Manor House, Bamborough, where I was staying under charge of my old nurse Judith, in order to see the Midsummer Fire. ’Twas the same year in which my elder brother Thomas, coming of age, entered into possession of that noble inheritance of the Bamborough estates, to which he was heir in coparceny with my aunt Dorothy, Lady Crewe. The estates included the village and Manor House, with the castle by the sea, and a great many other lands, manors, farms, and houses, of which an account shall presently be given. The house on this evening was filled with his companions, come to see the famous midnight fire; and after the manner of young gentlemen, they were killing the time between supper and twelve of the clock with drinking and singing.

The fire was built every year upon the seashore north of the castle, where a broad space of level sand lies between the links and the water, uncovered even at high tide. The custom of the St. John Baptist’s Fire goeth back beyond the memory of man —— it is so ancient that its origin is lost: it is so much esteemed that the folk would no more think of letting it be forgotten or neglected than the girls would forget to dream of husbands on St. Agnes’ Eve, or to hide the men’s shoes on Easter morning. Mr. Hilyard, who hath always something to say concerning the ancient world, will have it that the Midsummer Fire is nothing in the world but a pagan rite, videlicet, a fire built and lit in honour of the god Baal, and of Phoenician origin; that is to say, it came from Tyre, of which city Hiram once was king, whose sailors navigated the world in the service of Solomon, as is very well known, bringing to the harbours of the Holy Land gold from India and tin from Britain. For which reason, he saith, and in lasting remembrance of that wise prince, the Church hath done well to continue the practice, and to place under the protection of St. John Baptist that rite which formerly was part of the worship of a false god, and would, therefore, without such protection, lay open those who practise it to the wiles and temptations of the enemy.

From all quarters the people come a holiday-making, and to see the Bamborough Fire. They come from Lucker and from Spindleton, from the Sea Houses of North Sunderland, from Belford, which is six miles away, and from Ellingham, which is ten. It is the chief annual festival at Bamborough, even greater than the Hagameny carrying of the plough at Alnwick; the gipsies come and set up tents upon the sands; there is always a travelling show or two, with men who do strange things, and booths where gingerbread is sold; and there is all day long cock-fighting, with cudgelling, quarter-staff, and wrestling. The rustics come at daybreak, the farmers ride into the place early in the day, and there is a vast deal of drinking, eating, and singing long before the time comes for firing the pile. The younger men build up the pile with wood, artfully laying dry branches and twigs over and among the big logs, so as to raise a sudden and lofty flame; the boys look on and run about, and tease and fight each other; the girls are making wreaths and garlands with midsummer rush, vervain, and St. John’s wort; the older women and matrons stand together and talk. It is a subject for gratitude to think how simple are the pleasures of country women, since a long talk is, to most, their chief relaxation and delight; their husbands, poor souls, must still be drinking or smoking tobacco, or looking on at fights or banging each other with quarter-staves. As for the older men, if they are of the better sort, they sit together in the inn; and if they are of the lower kind, they commonly lean against door-posts, each with a pannikin in his hand, and slowly drink and slowly speak (because a rustic’s words are few, though his wisdom is great) in the soft Northumbrian burr, which I, for one, have ever loved so much, and cannot, if I would, lay aside. The ingenious Mr. De Foe hath lately called it a ‘hollow jawing in the throat,’ which is, by his leave, a rude and ignorant way of describing it, and more fitly applied to the rough talk of the Border Scotch. It is a way of speaking which cannot be set down on paper, therefore all that follows is written as if it had been spoken in the mincing, affected way of St. James’s Street, or the rough tongue of the London mob.

‘Oh, nurse!’ I cried, ‘when will it be midnight?’

‘Patience, lass,’ replied the old woman. ‘Time is a sluggard for the young, but for the old he gallops.’

I was sitting in the parlour with my old nurse Judith, waiting impatiently for the time; the loud talk of the gentlemen was heard from the dining-room. Presently my eyelids began to close, and my restless fingers became still. Then my head fell upon the tall back of the chair, and I was asleep. Nurse let me sleep till the clock struck two-quarters after eleven, when she awoke me, put on my hat, and tied a handkerchief about my neck, and so we sallied forth. As we left the house, the cold air, the shouts of the people outside, and the singing of the gentlemen within ——

‘When candlesticks they serve for bells;

    And frying-pans they use for ladles;

And in the sea they dig for wells;

    And porridge-pots they use for cradles ——’

completely awakened me, and I shivered, threw up my head, and felt no more sleepiness, and ran, laughing and shouting, to the sand-hills from which I was to see the show.

The night was clear, with never a cloud, and a bright full moon riding in the sky —— yet in this season, even at midnight, it is so light that there needs no moon. The wind had dropped, and the waves, which sometimes break so high and terrible on this coast, were now little ripples which rolled along the sand in a whisper. Above the sands the great castle stood, a grand sight to behold, its rugged walls either showing white in the moonlight, or, where in deep shadow, black and gloomy, until the red blaze of the bonfire presently lit them up, and made them yet more awful.

The sands were crowded with the noisy people. In the midst stood the great pile waiting for the torch. Everybody was talking, laughing, shouting, and singing. Upon the sea there lay a broad belt of white moonlight, very pretty to look upon. To me, thinking of what Mr. Hilyard had told me, it seemed that perhaps when King Solomon’s sailors came they may have built their idolatrous fire on the same place, and by the light of the same moon. But perhaps there were then as yet no Forsters in Northumberland. They are, it may be admitted, of later date than the age of Solomon and King Hiram. Perhaps, too, there was no castle. It seemed to me a great pity that Solomon’s sailors should come so far and not be able to see the castle after all; and this, although they had the glories of the Temple should they get home in safety to the ports of Joppa, Sidon, and Tyre. But then the clock struck twelve, and suddenly the fire blazed up, and in a moment seized on the whole of the pile, and rolled upward in vast great tongues of flame, with a cracking and roaring very frightful to behold and hear.

‘Thus,’ said Mr. Hilyard once, ‘thus the false prophets on Carmel danced and shouted round their altars; through such a fire the children were passed.’

Indeed, when one remembers the wild faces of the men and women who leaped about that fire, there remains no doubt that in the madness caused by the blaze and roar of the flames, and the drink they had taken, and the shouts and dancing, it needed little to make even our own people toss their little ones through the flames, as, it is said, but I know not with what truth, is done to this day by the wild Kerns of Ireland.

In half-an-hour the first fury of the flames was spent, the small branches being all burnt, and there remained only the steady burning of the big logs. And then the young men began to leap with shouts across the fire, and the girls threw their wreaths upon it and sang again, and again danced round and round the pile.

‘Let us go, Judith,’ said I, frightened by all this shouting.

‘Wait, child,’ the old woman replied. ‘Wait, my dearie; they are going to bring out the Midsummer Witch. We will go down and learn thy fortune.’

At this point, indeed, there was a rush of the boys, always the most zealous in every ceremony or public entertainment, across the sands, over which was now seen approaching a procession of half-a-dozen girls, walking slowly, and singing a kind of hymn. In their midst, as one could presently discern, there walked a girl dressed all in white, and veiled from head to foot. Her companions were carrying, according to custom, wreaths of vervain, midsummer rush, St. John’s wort, and mother-wort.

”Tis Jenny Lee,’ said Nurse Judith, half to herself. ‘They told me she was to be the St. John’s Eve Witch. A proper witch, I warrant. As for her father, sure he gave a love-drink to her mother, else how should an honest farmer’s wench go follow a gipsy tramp, even though he wedded her in church and called himself the king of his thievish people, and was, as a body might say, as well set up a man with as fine a leg as a woman can desire, and as proud as Lucifer —— Lord forgive us! And on Midsummer Eve!’ She looked round as if she expected something fearful with claws and fiery eyes, and crossed herself —— a Papistical custom, but common in Northumberland. ‘If you want a witch, you needn’t go farther than his daughter. They say she can do things already for which in the old times a poor old woman would be burned —— my own great-grandmother for one, in King James’s time. But that’s a hundred years ago, and the world is changed. Witches can come and go without let or hindrance, which is a shame in a Christian country. Yet it is a blessed thing to live in times when there is no fear of being burned for a witch when you are only old and toothless. Did I tell you, my dearie, how I once saw a witch fly across the moon, broomstick and all?’

She had often told me that story; but even at that tender age I could not believe how a cloud, as it seemed to everybody else, should be to her a witch astride of a broomstick.

‘To tell fortunes,’ Judith went on, ‘one must either be a witch or a gipsy. Jenny is both gipsy and witch, they say. Look! Here comes his honour with the gentlemen and Mr. Hilyard.

As the procession came across the sands, the white-veiled figure looking strange and ghastly in the moonlight, the gentlemen came out of the house and walked arm-in-arm down the street towards the shore. My brother Tom, it may be supposed, had taken a glass more than the strength of his head allowed, for he staggered a little as he went. With him were two or three of his friends —— Ned Swinburne and Jack Swinburne, brothers of Sir William of Capheaton; Mad Jack Hall, of Otterbourne, whose presence always foreboded misfortune to the Forsters; young Mr. Peregrine Widdrington, brother to my lord; and Mr. Antony Hilyard, Tom’s former tutor. They all trooped along together, noisily laughing.

By this time the girls had placed the Midsummer Witch on a sort of throne or stool of state covered with red cloth and flowers.

‘The Midsummer Witch must be a maid,’ said Judith, ‘and a firstborn child, else the spell will not work.’

They placed in her hand a vessel of some kind with a long and narrow neck.

‘It is filled with water,’ continued Judith, ‘drawn by herself from the sea on this very evening. Now, child, double thumb and come along.’

Everybody knows that to double your thumb in your right hand averts danger. I complied, and thus secured we ran down the hillock, and joined the group.

The villagers were standing round their newly-made witch in a respectful ring, the middle of which was occupied by Tom and his friends.

‘Now, fair witch and pretty sorceress,’ said he, pretending not to know the veiled girl, ‘tell us our fortunes, and we will reward thee with a kiss, if your ghostship allows us to see your face.’

But everybody knew very well who was the witch.

‘Your honour must put something of your own in the jar,’ said Judith.

Meantime the veiled girl sat as if she heard nothing; in her lap the jar, and her hands folded round it.

‘Drop your ring in it,’ whispered Judith. ‘No need to tell her your name or the name of any gentleman. She is veiled, and cannot see.’

Mr. Forster drew a signet-ring, engraved with his arms, from his finger, and placed it in the narrow-necked jar.

‘Now,’ he said, laughing, ‘tell me the fortune of the ring and its owner.’

She put her hand into the vessel, and took out the ring. Then she replied slowly, as if she were looking for words fitting the fortune she was to tell:

‘Great place, great chase: near the grave, yet one to save.

Great name, great blame; far off to die, at home to lie.’

That was a strange fortune: what could it mean?

‘I said she was a witch,’ murmured Judith. ‘Take back your ring, sir.’

The girl held out her open hand. Strange! the stone had fallen from the ring, and lay upon her palm.

‘Lucky,’ said my brother, ‘that it did not fall in the sand. The sea-water loosened it. “Great name,”’ he continued, a little sobered; ‘what is it? “Great blame,” or “great fame” ——“far off to die”—— well, what man can die more than once? “At home to lie”—— one would wish to lie with one’s own people. “Great blame!”—— who cares for blame? A good fortune this. Now, Ned, try your luck.’

Mr. Edward Swinburne, a young man of my brother’s age or thereabouts, stepped forward, and placed a piece of money in the jar.

Said the girl, taking out the money:

‘Prison walls and prison bed;

Who lies there is stark and dead.’

‘I wish to heaven, Tom,’ said the young man angrily, ‘that we had stayed at home, and sat out t’other bottle.’

Then Perry Widdrington took his place.

The oracle was more pleasant to hear. The voice of the girl was low, and she never moved the whole time:

‘Danger by land and danger by sea:

Yet your death at last in your bed shall be.’

‘Thank you for nothing, witch,’ said Peregrine, stepping back.

‘As for me,’ said mad Jack Hall, whom none of the Forsters, except Tom, loved, because his presence seems to bode misfortune to us —— besides, a man of forty had no business drinking and carousing with these young men ——‘as for me, I will have none of thy fortune, good nor bad. There’s plenty good and plenty bad in the locker. Good or bad, what matters, so there’s beef on board and drink in can?’

His rosy face looked as if he had already taken as much drink out of the can as he could well hold.

‘Come, brave toper —— come, my lusty Tony,’ cried the lad Peregrine, clapping Mr. Hilyard on the shoulder: ‘try thy fortune, man!’

The young man ought to have shown more reverence to the scholar, but learning and Perry Widdrington did not indeed regard each other with respect. Besides, the truth is that Mr. Hilyard was himself somewhat inclined to stagger as he went.

Mr. Hilyard was a young man then, although so learned. Perhaps he was about five or six and twenty. He wore no hat, his wig was awry and out of curl; his cheeks were red, his neckcloth was disordered; he stood behind the others, as if he did not by right of birth (which was the case) belong to them. His merry laughing face, when the fire lit it up, seemed filled with the joy of wine and song: the poet Anacreon (whose verses he afterwards translated) could not have been more jovial to look upon. His nose was broad, his lips full; his eyes were large, his figure short and squab.

‘My fortune?’ he asked, with a laugh —— though why should he laugh over so grave a matter as his own fate? ‘My fortune? What better fortune than to drink and royster among the gentlemen of Northumberland?’

However, he placed a coin in the girl’s jar, and waited as if he was ready for anything besides that fortune might have for him.

‘Fortune has no more to give me,’ Mr. Hilyard said presently. ‘Or, if anything, she keeps it concealed in a basket, as the Egyptian his secret, who, to one asking, replied, “Since thou seest it covered what impudence is this, to inquire into a hidden thing?” Keep silence, priestess.’

But the girl gave his fortune:

‘Love a fair girl all your life,

Yet shalt never have a wife.

Thou shalt rise and she shall fall;

Fear not —— thou wilt top them all.’

‘Why,’ cried Mr. Hilyard, ‘here is an excellent fortune indeed! Good Sybil, I thank thee. Yet Haman rose and topped them all. So did Stylites, and so doth Steeple Jack. So does every poor devil at Tyburn Tree. Nevertheless, I thank thee. Delphic oracles are ever obscure. And there are many ways of rising —— did one only know them.’

‘Enough fooling,’ said my brother. ‘Judith, give the girl a shilling for her trouble.’ He tossed her the coin. ‘Come, Ned —— come, Peregrine —— come, Jack! Let us go back and crack t’other bottle.’

They returned as they had come, arm-in-arm, tramping up the road, and the scholar began to sing as they went. He had a clear, sweet voice:

‘He drank till night, and he drank till noon,

    The thirst in his gullet was such;

He never could drink a drop too soon —— too soon:

        And never, never, never —— no —— never ——

        Never a drop too much.’

I whispered, ‘Judith,’ when they were quite gone, ‘let me now try my fortune, too. Is it not my turn now?’

But Judith was shaking her head.

‘That shall you not,’ she said angrily. ‘Here is a fine Midsummer Witch for you, with her bad luck for everybody! Heard one ever the like? I would duck her in the sea for two straws. And for all these gallant gentlemen, too!’

‘Oh, nurse!’ But the oracle sat as if she heard not. ‘Nurse, I must have my fortune told —— I must indeed.’

‘Yes —— yes,’ cried the women of the village, pressing round. ‘Miss Dorothy’s fortune! Let us have Miss Dorothy’s fortune, too.’

Judith gave way. She was as curious as the rest to know what this wonderful Midsummer Witch would say. Yet she was afraid.

‘Hast ever a crooked pin about thee, child?’ she asked. ‘So —— this will do. Drop it in the jar. Now —— double thumb again, child.’

The girl once more put her hand into the jar, and brought out the pin. As for me, I waited in a strange expectancy. Oh, what would she give me? For the moment I felt as if this farmer’s wench, whose father was but a common gipsy, actually knew the will of Heaven and could control the future. Impious thought! And yet —— it is truly wonderful —— one knows not how —— one cannot say why —— the predictions of humble women are so often fulfilled. Nurse Judith’s greatgrandmother —— the one who was burned for a witch —— predicted, as everybody still remembers, the tempest which blew down the roof of Belford Church, and on her way to the stake foretold a sudden and violent death for him who bore witness against her. Wonderful to relate, the man was, only a year afterwards, done to death in a fray with the Redesdale men. Yet that little Jenny Lee, a milkmaid, a dairymaid, who dropped me a curtsey when she passed me —— that she should —— it was impossible! What she said, however, was ambiguous enough for any fortune:

‘Lovers one, and two, and three,

Lovers of high and of low degree,

None of them all shall her husband be.’

If none of my lovers was to become my husband, I thought, whom should I have to marry?

‘Poor lass!’ the women murmured. ”Tis a strange unlucky night for the quality.’

It is a foolish thing that one should remember such a childish play, but I never forgot any of the fortunes told on that Midsummer Eve. Nor, I think, did my nurse, as long as she lived, which was for ten years more. But now Judith dragged me away roughly, though the oracle had not yet finished telling the fortunes.

‘Come, child,’ she said. ‘It is bed-time. Fuss enough made about a girl; silly talk —— though ’tis St. John’s Eve and all. Come, Dorothy! a maid of ten has got nothing to do with lovers. Lovers, indeed! Who ever heard of such things?’

She, however, did heed them very much, for her lips kept muttering as we came away from the great fire, round which the country people were now pressing and crowding together to know their fortune. What Jenny told them, I know not, but there now arose shouts of laughter. Yet to me it seemed as if they ought not to laugh when such melancholy fortunes had been told, and while the great fire —— the fire of Baal —— was still burning clear and bright, a terrible thing to look upon, just as it had done long ago when Solomon’s sailors landed here, before King Ida built the castle, and before ever a Forster was seen in the North Country.

‘“Far off to die, at home to lie,”’ Judith muttered. ‘What did the child mean? Where did she learn it? I hope his honour may not be disturbed by such a thing.’

His honour was not, because, with his companions, he was put to bed that night too drunk to remember anything.

‘Why, to be sure,’ the nurse went on, ‘it is only a play. And yet it is an old play, and we must never let it drop, or bad luck will come to us. Nobody knows who is abroad on such a night as this. Spirits whisper —— I felt a cold breath on my own cheek just now. ’Tis a fearful night. Say prayers, my dear, and get to sleep.’

Late as I had gone to bed, I was up betimes and dressed by six. When I went down the stairs I found Mr. Hilyard already up, and talking with no other than the girl Jenny Lee herself at the door.

I know not whether he had been, like the others, drunk the night before. He was quite sober now, and composed and grave in his manner, as becomes a scholar and was his wont in the morning. But his eyes were red, as sometimes happens after much wine.

‘Come, girl,’ he was saying, ‘thou shalt not put me off with nonsense. Who taught thee the rhymes?’

Jenny was a tall girl of twelve or thirteen, who might have been seventeen, so well grown was she. Judith called her a gipsy: her father, who was dead, belonged to that race. She had a gipsy’s black hair and bright black eyes; also a gipsy’s swarthy skin, red lips, and white teeth. She bore on her head a pail of milk. When Mr. Hilyard spoke to her she looked confused, and hesitated.

‘Come,’ he said. ‘Here is little Miss Dorothy. As you hope for any favour from this young lady, tell us where you learned those fortunes.’

‘Perhaps they were whispered by the spirits,’ said the girl impudently. ‘Everybody knows that on St. John’s Eve the good people are about.’

‘Perhaps they were not whispered. Perhaps I know where they came from.’

I suppose there was something in his look which she read, because she dropped her eyes.

‘Telling misfortunes to gentlefolk is no laughing matter, my girl. Such prophecies sometimes bring their own fulfilment. It is recorded of Marius —— but that concerns thee not. Who was it, Jenny?’

‘Granny,’ she whispered. ‘Granny. Oh, she is a proper witch!’

‘Of course, I know it,’ he replied. ‘Yet I saw none of your people among the gipsies yesterday.’

She replied that, in fact, they were in trouble, one of them having been unjustly hanged for stealing a sheep (the whole tribe being ready to swear an alibi), and another having been recently flogged through the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed; and that as regards Bamborough, the last time they were camped in that place there were so many complaints about pigs, geese, and even cows dying suddenly and mysteriously (their bodies being taken away by the gipsies and eaten), and so many threats of throwing the old woman into the pond for a witch, that they were afraid of coming any nearer. She was indeed —— I knew her well —— a most wonderful and terrible old woman to look at, being doubled up with rheumatism, and wrinkled and puckered in the face very curiously, yet with a pair of coal-black eyes which shone like fire.

‘She cast the fortunes of the gentlemen and Miss Dorothy with the cards,’ Jenny Lee went on; ‘and yours too, sir. Oh, granny’s words come true —— every one!’

‘Where did your people come from last?’ asked Mr. Hilyard.

‘They came from Lancashire, by way of Shotley; and they are going to Wooler first, and then across the Cheviots and to Jedburgh.’

‘From Lancashire.’

Mr. Hilyard stroked his chin and looked grave. Presently he began to speak with her eagerly in a tongue which I did not understand. Yet I knew very well that it was the language of the gipsy folk, and that Mr. Hilyard could talk it, being a most ingenious gentleman who could speak many languages, such as Dutch and French, and even thieves’ tongue, which they call Canting. This he learned in London, while lurking (at great risk of being knocked o’ the head) among the thieves and rogues of that great and wicked city. I believe there were also other weighty reasons, known to Oxford vintners and others who had trusted him, why for a time he should lie snug. You will hear presently how a person so learned and of such curious accomplishments became a resident in our house, and our dependent.

After a serious talk, Jenny went away, dropping me a curtsey without letting the pail fall from her head, or a drop of milk to be spilled. Then Mr. Hilyard hemmed twice, and said:

‘I was saying to the girl, Miss Dorothy, that the poultry of Bamboroughshire must not be stolen, or rogues will meet their deserts.’

This he may have said among other things, but I knew very well indeed that he had sent a much more important message. In those days of unquiet, when there were secret communications and letters constantly passing from hand to hand, and especially between Lancashire and Northumberland, even a child could understand that in some way or other Mr. Hilyard and the old gipsy woman were concerned in letter-carrying.

‘It is strange,’ he went on, speaking gravely, and with his eyes fixed, as if he was reading from a book, which was his way ——‘it is strange that the girl doth not forget the language of her father’s people, though her mother brought her away so young. Much I fear that when she grows older she will leave the ways of Christian folk and follow with the camp. ’Tis a strange wild people! Nor hath it ever been made certain whence they came or where they were first seen, though some say Bohemia and some say Egypt. As for their language, which I have been at some pains to learn, that seems to have in it something of the Chaldæan. Meantime forget, child, the pretended oracles of this gipsy Delphic. As for his honour, your brother, he will doubtless in some way achieve greatness, as his grandfather before him, Sir William, sheriff of the country; and what the witch says is true, that great name brings great blame. Themistocles is recorded to have compared himself to a tree, the leaves of which are plucked by every passer-by; yet in days of heat they all run to it for shelter. And as for prophecy, every man is Faber Fortunoe, or maker of his own fortune, which is the reason why some do spoil themselves in haste and hurry of making; so that we may admire the wisdom of Vespasian, who stamped his coin with a dolphin and an anchor, and the legend, Soon enough if well enough. Forget the oracles, child: seek not to know the intentions of Providence: and doubtless when your brother and the gentlemen are ready to take their breakfast, they will have forgotten, by reason of the potency of his honour’s port, the predictions of last night.’

It is, indeed, as difficult to keep a gentleman of Northumberland from wine as a woman from talk.

‘The goats of Candia,’ Mr. Hilyard resumed, stroking his chin, and changing his manner, ‘being shot with an arrow, straightway choose the herb dittany in order to cure the wound; the tortoise, having eaten a viper, seeks for wild marjoram; the dragon, when his sight fails, cleans his eyes with fennel. Cranes, for the good of the stomach, drink sea-water. The wise man, Miss Dorothy, after a bottle or two of port overnight, taketh a tankard of small-beer in the morning.’

He disappeared, in search of his remedy, and I saw him no more that morning. At noon the gentlemen took their breakfast, and presently rode away all together, laughing and shouting, and I never heard from any of them mention or remembrance of this oracle of St. John’s Eve.

Chapter ii.

The Forsters.

There are in Northumberland (one may thank Heaven for it) as many Forsters as there are Fenwicks, and more. First, it hath been said, but irreverently, the Lord made Adam and Eve; and then He made the Forsters. They are, indeed, as ancient a family as any in the county; as ancient in the county as the Percys, who belong also to Sussex, and are now swallowed up by the Seymours; or the Radcliffes, who came from Cumberland. The ancient and original seat of the Forsters from time immemorial has been at Etherston, which is, being interpreted, the Adder Stone. An old ring of the family, now in possession of my brother, John Forster, Esquire, of Etherston, commemorates the origin of the name, being shaped like unto a twisted viper with his tail in his mouth, and set with a precious stone. There is a snake or dragon connected with many old and illustrious families: for instance, there is the loathly worm of Spindleston; there is the dragon of the Lambtons of Durham; there is the Conyers’ dragon; there is a Sussex dragon; and the princely House of Lusignan, I am told by Mr. Hilyard, is descended from Melusine, a witch, or sorceress, who was half-woman, half-serpent. The legend of the Forsters’ adder is lost. Mr. Hilyard once made a ballad or song about it, but so full of knights, shepherds, nymphs, and cool grots (of which there are not many in our part of the county), that I thought it fantastical, although ingenious. The shield of the Forsters is —— argent: a chevron vert between three bugle-horns stringed gules, and for crest a bent arm and a hand bearing a broken lance. The Etherston quartering is also argent: on a bend cottised sable three martlets. The motto is ‘Si fractus fortis;’ but, like the Fenwicks, we have our family legend, namely:

‘Let us dearlie then holde

    To mynde ther worthines

That which our parents olde

    Hath left us to posses.’

There are branches of the Forsters everywhere: at Stokesley in Yorkshire, at Durham (where they are called the ‘Friendly Forsters’), at Tuggall Hall, at Aldermarston, at Berwick, in Jamaica (descended, I believe, from Claudius, nephew of Sir Claudius Forster, and my great-great-uncle), in London, and I know not where else. With these branches we have nothing here to do, save to mention them with respect as flourishing offshoots of a brave old stock. Especially, however, to be considered is the noble branch of Bamborough, founded by Sir John Forster, the valiant and trusty Warden of the March, under good Queen Elizabeth, for twenty-seven years, and Governor of Bamborough Castle. It was to his son, Sir Claudius, that King James made a grant of the castle and manor. This made him a man of greater importance than his first cousin, Mr. Forster, of Etherston. Yet it is a proud thing to be the Head of the House, which will ever be the happiness of the Forster who holds Etherston.

The Forsters have always been, like most Northumbrian families, blessed with numerous progeny. One of them had twenty-one sons and a daughter; being unsurpassed in this respect, even in Northumberland, except by Sir William Swinburne’s father, who, to be sure, had thirty children. How great a happiness to bring up so many valiant sons to fight England’s enemies and maintain the glory of the country! By marriage, especially before the Reformation, into which many noble Houses of the north would never enter, the Forsters were connected with nearly every family of gentle birth in the north; videlicet, Lords Crewe, Wharton, Hilton, and Ogle; the Radcliffes, Shaftoes, Swinburnes, Chaytors, Selbys, Herons, Carnabys, Crasters, Ridleys, Fenwicks, Salkelds, Grays of Chillingham and of Howick; the Coles of Brancepeth, and the Ordes. By marriage with a Radcliffe, the Forsters of Bamborough acquired the Manor of Blanchland; and by marriage with a Selby, that of Thornton. One of the Forsters was Lord Chief Justice of England, another was a Puisne Judge; many of them were Sheriffs and Knights of the Shire. Their history is, in a word, part and parcel of the history of Northumberland itself; that is to say, of the great and glorious realm of England.

This book is written for no other purpose than to set forth the true character of a gallant and honourable gentleman which hath been of late defamed; and especially by one who hath eaten his bread, drunk his wine, and received many favours at his hands. The name of this gentleman is Thomas Forster, generally called the Younger. It was he who commanded the Prince’s English forces during the unhappy Rebellion. The hand which writes his history is that of his sister. I am, it is true, unpractised in the penman’s art, therefore unskilled in the trick of making the false appear the true. Yet I can narrate faithfully the things which happened; I can show hypocrites and villains, stripped of their disguise, the horrid wretches which they are; and I can tell how gallant gentlemen and loyal subjects of the lawful sovereign of these realms (whom may God restore!) were betrayed to their own undoing.

No one should be able to speak of a man so well as his sister. As for his wife, she knows him only when he has arrived at manhood, and has no knowledge of the time when he was a stripling, inexperienced and ignorant, though perhaps full of brave intentions, or a boy at school under ferule and discipline, or a curly-headed laughing child. The sister remembers the growth of her brother’s mind; she has watched (if she be an elder sister) the hesitations of the boy, his first doubtful flights, seeming, like the needle when the compass is shaken, to incline now here, now there, until it settles towards a steady north, as towards the straight and narrow path of honour which leadeth to heaven. To a wife, a man presents himself completed, at his best; like a finished work, a picture framed, a poem written and printed. As for myself, it is true that I remember not my brother Tom as a child, because he was older than myself; but I knew him as a young man while he wore his own hair still tied up by a ribbon, and went about dressed in grey sagathy and woolen stockings, and great thick shoes for weekday use; with broadcloth and silver buttons, thread stockings, and silver buckles in his shoes, and a silk ribbon for his hair, on Sundays and holydays. A brave and gallant lad he was, better at hunting than at reading, fonder of sport than of books, hearty with all, ready with a laugh and a friendly word with rich and poor; and gifted with a natural love for friendliness, companionship, and good-fellowship, which made him beloved of all. He is dead now, and his fortunes broken and gone, and his enemies may say, as in the Otterbourne Ballad:

‘Now we have carry’d all Bambroughshire,

    All the welthe in the world have we.’

Many have drawn comparisons between Mr. Forster and his gallant companion-in-arms, Lord Derwentwater, to the disadvantage of the former. It hath never been my pretence or opinion that my brother was possessed of a nature so strangely and so richly compounded as that of Lord Derwentwater. He, it must be owned, drew all hearts by qualities as rare as they are admirable. But I make bold to maintain that if loyalty, fidelity, and courage may command respect, then we must give respect to the memory of Mr. Thomas Forster. These virtues were conspicuous in him, as in all his line. Like a river in a champagne country which runs evenly between its banks, so is the race of Forsters; like the river Coquet, which is now deep, now shallow, now gliding through open fields, now running under rocks, now under high hanging woods, is the race of the Radcliffes: and, like that river, they are most beautiful just before the end.

The father of this Thomas Forster was Thomas Forster, commonly called the Elder, of Etherston. He remained a private gentleman, taking no office until after the death of his cousins of Bamborough. Then he became Sheriff of the County and, between the years 1706 and 1710, Knight of the Shire. In the House of Commons he made no greater figure than a gentleman of Tory and High Church principles generally desires to make. Thus he was never a prater, nor did he waste the time of the House with idle talk and argument, being always well advised beforehand which side was the right, whose arguments would be the better, and prepared to vote, when called upon, with his friends. He, therefore, acquired the respect which Parliament is always ready to accord to members who sit silent and vote with their party. It would, indeed, have pleased him best could the measures have been brought forward silently, and voted without any speeches at all. ‘It was a poor reward,’ he said, ‘for the fatigue of a journey from Etherston to Newcastle, and from Newcastle to town, to sit out a long and tedious debate, when one’s mind was already made up, and argument can produce no more effect than swanshot on the back of a tortoise.’ He married, while in his twenty-first year, his second cousin Frances, daughter of Sir William Forster of Bamborough. By her he had issue, namely, Thomas Forster, aforesaid; John, who is now the possessor of Etherston; Margaret, the eldest of the family, married to Sir William Bacon, of Staward; Elizabeth and William, who both died young; and myself, Dorothy. It was the misfortune of these children that their mother, who was as virtuous and prudent as she was beautiful, died while they were all of tender years, and I, for one, but a little lassie indeed, too young to feel the blow which had fallen upon us, and too ignorant to join in the resentment which filled the breasts of my elders when my father, forgetting the incomparable virtues of the wife he had buried, married a second time. This marriage lasted but a short while, ending most tragically in the shooting by accident of madam. Would not one think that any man would plainly see in the death of two wives the direct injunction of Heaven to wed no more? Yet my father tempted Providence and married a third time, his wife being now a certain Barbara Lawes, from the South Country, whose birth was not such as to warrant this elevation, and who understood not the Northumberland people, or their speech, or their ways. She brought her husband two children, Ralph, who lived to be thirty years of age, and Mary, now married respectably to Mr. Proctor.

As to my father, he was the easiest and kindest of men; all he asked for in the world was rest and a quiet life; to this he was surely entitled by reason of his birth, his fortune, and his good health. His fortune was moderate: an estate of some few hundreds a year, and a house as good as any, except the great castles, in the county. Etherston Hall is a mile or so from the little hamlet of Lucker, and four miles from Bamborough. It is a large, square house, as full of modern conveniences as any gentleman may desire; the sitting-rooms are wainscoted with walnut-wood; it has sashwindows, glazed with crown glass, which make the rooms light and pleasant in all weathers; there are stoves to burn a coal fire, as well as andirons for wood; in the parlour there is a high-backed chair for madam, and a great oaken settle, for my father loved the wooden seat of the North Country, with its cupboard below, in which were kept all kinds of stores; there is a shelf of books if any want to read; there are still-room and dairy; and there is a great cellar well stocked with ale, both small and October —— wine, both French, Spanish, and home-made —— and whisky, brandy, and Geneva. Outside there is a stately garden full of fruit-trees, and planted with every kind of flower, fruit, and herb; and to screen the house from the cold north and east winds there is a thick plantation, call it rather a small wood or coppice, containing all the trees that afford thick foliage and shelter, as firs and pines with wych-elm, sycamore, ash, rowan, and so forth. ‘Why,’ my father would say, looking round him, ‘there is no better house in all Northumberland for the entertainment of one’s friends; nor, upon my word, doth a pipe of tobacco anywhere taste so well, whether it be on the settle by the fire, or in the garden beneath a tree. Go fetch me one, Dorothy, my girl.’ Seeing how much he loved to be at home, it may be thought surprising that he should have endured so long the fatigue of Parliament, the discomforts to a country gentleman of living in London, and the burden of the long journey to town and back again. Yet a gentleman must not shrink from the duties imposed upon him by his position, and when it became necessary for him to become Knight of the Shire, he accepted the office with courage.

I have no cause for repentance as regards the fifth commandment, and am easy in my conscience concerning my duty to my father. The fifth commandment, although it hath been held by some to enjoin submission to all one’s superiors in rank, fortune, place, affinity, or age, yet surely was never intended to include stepmothers. If it was, Heaven forgive the Forsters, for they have greatly sinned. Still, without seeking, like Adam in that pitiful excuse of his, to shift the blame upon another, it is not unjust to say that the beginnings of the quarrels were generally made by madam, who desired to rule her stepchildren, now growing tall and beyond her control, as if they were still little ones, and her own. My sister Margaret, the eldest, a girl of uncommon spirit, was quite able to hold her own. Perhaps madam was wrong when she charged her with inciting the younger ones to disobedience; but I am sure that Tom was right when he, grown too big to be beaten, even by his father, stood between madam and his little sister Dorothy, swearing that he would not let madam lay finger upon her, whether she deserved it or not. Let her go beat her own children as much as she pleased.

‘Dame,’ cried her husband, when madam complained, ‘must I for ever be going about with a whip in my hand, like an overseer in a negro plantation? Do you let the children alone, and they will let you alone.’

Then would she sit glum in a corner till I went humbly to ask pardon, and all for a time would go well again; and over a pipe of tobacco and a pot of October, my father would talk with Tom about his horses and his hounds. When my sister Margaret married and went away, the household became more peaceful. Between Tom and myself —— I being a child, and he a lad who was always ready to promise anything, besides that he regarded his younger sister with singular affection —— it was presently arranged and understood that when we grew up we would live together away from Etherston Hall, and quite apart from madam. The compact was made long before it seemed likely that it would ever be carried out; but then, who knows the decrees of Fate? Nothing, says Mr. Hilyard, according to the French proverb, is more certain than the unforeseen.

‘We will live together,’ said Tom. ‘Cheer up, Dorothy. We will go and live together somewhere as soon as I come of age to do what I please. Then madam will have no one to flout but Jack —— poor Jack!’

It is sad to remember the quarrels which occurred daily between these jealous children and their stepmother. She would rush into my father’s presence loud in complaint, scolding like a madwoman, though perhaps it was but a mere trifle, calling loudly for rods and whippings, lamenting the day that ever she came into a house where the children were so disobedient, upbraiding her husband for his lack of severity, and calling on the precepts of Solomon, who is nowhere so clear as on this point of punishing children. (Yet Rehoboam, who was, no doubt, very soundly flogged, did not turn out such a son as the wisest of men and fathers could regard with pride.) On the other side stood Tom with Dorothy; she hanging her head and holding her brother by the hand; he angry, flushed, with fiery eyes, meeting accusation with denial or with charges of his own. When the angry wife flung out of the room, the poor father would turn a perplexed face to his children.

‘It is hard,’ he would say, ‘that a man cannot come home and hang up his wig and find peace without quarrels and fault-findings. Tom, you villain, why anger madam? Dorothy, child, go ask pardon for both, and then sit down and let us be happy.’

Peace was attained presently, when, in a happy day, Mr. Hilyard came to the house. No one, before his arrival, understood how to treat the fancies of a whimsical woman, to humour her prejudices, and to keep her in good temper. Of Mr. Hilyard, more presently. For the moment, sufficient to note that my father soon learned to trust in him for the maintenance of an unclouded sky at home; my stepmother looked to him for such personal services and attentions as were necessary to keep her in good temper; my brother Tom, for such money (to be begged of my father) as he wanted for his personal pleasure; Jack, for mediation in order to save him from punishment; and I myself, for amusement and instruction, combined with the fingering of the spinet, of which I was always fond, and over which I attained, thanks to Mr. Hilyard, a proficiency (I may fairly say) equalled by few. There was never, sure, such a tutor in any family as Mr. Antony Hilyard.

By my mother’s side we came from the Bamborough Forsters —— a branch of the family more distinguished in the world than the main stock, and remarkable for the gifts of politeness and love of learning. Madam Frances Forster was the elder daughter of Sir William Forster, of Bamborough and Blanchland, by Dorothy Selby, his wife, daughter of Sir William Selby, and granddaughter of Ferdinando, Lord Fairfax. There were nine children of this marriage, viz., William, the eldest, who married his second cousin, Elizabeth Pert Forster, but died in 1698 without issue (she afterwards married Lord Stawell, and enjoyed a charge of £350 a year upon the estate); John, the second son, who died unmarried in 1699, aged thirty-one years; Ferdinando, of whom more immediately; Frances, my mother; and Dorothy, the youngest, whose birth caused the death of her mother.

This Dorothy, my aunt, grew up a most incomparable beauty, the equal of whom was not to be seen anywhere in the county. In those days, and until the death of Ferdinando, there was open house kept at Bamborough, with so much company and such prodigality and lavishing of good things as no other house in the county could show. It was ever a distinction between the Forsters of Etherston and those of Bamborough, that the former were quiet gentlemen, lovers of home, and not profuse of expenditure; while the latter were large-handed, hospitable, and never so happy as when they were spending money with open hands and both hands. True, they had a great estate; but there is no estate, not even his who owns Potosi or Golconda, but requires care in the spending. Sir William first, and his sons afterwards, lived as freely as if they had an endless revenue. They were not spendthrifts, nor did they throw money away in riotous living, like him who was reduced to feed with the pigs; but they lived at a great rate: their house was always open for anyone who chose; their stables were full of horses; their cellars full of wine; their rooms full of company; grooms and varlets in plenty lived upon them; they even went to London. Madam, I remember, was for ever wondering how the Bamborough people could afford, even with their means, this great expense, and looking forward to a sudden end. But she was one of those women who rejoice to play the part of the Trojan Princess, constantly foretell disaster, concern themselves continually with the affairs of other people, and are never so well pleased as when they have some fresh misfortune to discuss, or some certain calamity to predict.

To the beautiful Dorothy the coming and going of fresh company meant the arrival and dismissal of so many lovers, for all men fell in love with her at first sight. Those who were too old lamented their youth; those who were married wished they were single for her sake; those who were rich trusted in their acres; those who were poor hoped she would accept their poverty. In a word, they all with one consent began to ask her in marriage before she was seventeen years of age. But she would have none of them; not from pride, nor from a desire to make a great match (because, being a Forster, she knew that she could marry no one better than a plain Northumberland gentleman), but because she was young and happy, contented to wait single for a while, and because of all the lovers there was none who touched her heart.

‘My dear,’ she said to me once, long afterwards, ‘a maid so young is simple, and expects more than she can get; this man is too tall, that man too short, another too fat, another is boorish, another drinks too much wine, another has a hasty temper —— as if she must needs have a man made on purpose for her. The gentlemen pleased me well enough to converse with, though sometimes they were coarse in their talk (a thing which gentlewomen cannot too strongly reprehend); but I liked not the prospect of spending my whole life with any one of them all. I desired, in short, more than a plain gentleman can be expected to give. Heaven granted my desire, save for one small particular, which, perhaps, I forgot to pray for, or I might have had that as well. My husband, most admirable in all other respects, had lost, when I married him, what many young women would prize the most —— his youth. Yet he hath given me a great place and high rank, with learning and piety even beyond what may be looked for, even in a bishop; wisdom more than one expects, even in the House of Peers; and, my dear, unfailing love and consideration for woman’s weakness, which is as rare as it is delightful.’ And with that her beautiful eyes filled with tears —— but not of sorrow.

For there came to Alnwick when she was staying in their house in that town, being then but just eighteen, the great Bishop of Durham, Lord Crewe, upon a confirmation. Perhaps, but I am not sure, she was herself confirmed by him on that occasion. He was then fifty-six years of age, and, though there is so great a disparity between fifty-six and eighteen, and between a grave bishop and a giddy maiden, his lordship fell in love like any young country squire with Dorothy, and proposed to marry her. To me it seems a truly awful thing to marry a bishop of the English Church, and I am not surprised that Dorothy refused him. Being still in her youth, she was naturally inclined to gaiety, mirth, laughter, dancing, and the company of the young, which is a quite sufficient reason for her refusal, and we need seek no farther. Yet it was a great match, for he was not only Bishop of Durham (that is, a Prince Palatine, with power to appoint his own sheriffs, and almost sovereign in his own diocese), but he was also a great statesman (he had made many enemies in his political career), and, besides this, a peer of the realm by birth and succession, the only member of his sacred profession who could boast of that distinction.

When his lordship found that his suit did not prevail he went away, and presently married a widow —— Penelope, the relict of Sir Hugh Tynte. But when, ten years later, she died, he found that he still remembered the beautiful Dorothy —— probably he had never forgotten her —— and he again offered her his hand and title.

‘Child,’ she told me, ‘when one arrives at twenty-eight, the pleasures of youth have all been tasted. I had been to London, and seen the glories of the park, the theatre, the gaming-table, and the town of London. Nothing is solid, I had already learned, except the joys of rank, dignity, and wealth. When my lord came to me again, he was, it is true, ten years older —— he was sixty-six —— yet I assure you that he bore himself still with the uprightness and strength which most men show at forty, having no shadow of ailment or weakness, or touch of infirmity. I was, therefore, sensible of the great honour he proposed to me when he asked me again to become his wife. My dear, that venerable hand which I presumptuously rejected at eighteen, I accepted with gratitude at eight-and-twenty, and have had no reason since for a single day to regret my decision. Pray Heaven my lord hath continued to regard his marriage with the same feeling of satisfaction!’

Of that, indeed, there could be no doubt, because the Bishop remained to the end an ardent lover.

Such, then, was the family of the Forsters —— a goodly trunk, with many vigorous boughs —— their original seat at Etherston, with many stately houses and broad lands, belonging to the offshoots and younger branches: a House received with the respect due to an equal by all the great Northumbrian families, one which is numbered among those whose origin mounts to the time of the Conqueror or earlier. Their name is not like that of the Fenwicks or the Swinburnes, of territorial origin, but is, perhaps, a corruption of Forester. They were, Mr. Hilyard says, the family who first seized upon the forest, or they were the King’s foresters. In the old times, when they were always fighting, there was need of as many as could be produced, for the men were mostly doomed to early death fighting on the Border, and the women, more to be pitied, doomed to mourn for husbands, sons, and brothers. So that to both alike fate was unhappy. But that time has passed away. There is peace upon the Marches; and if wicked men stir not up the waters of strife, it is a time for sitting every man by his own fireside, his wig hung upon one peg, and his sword upon another, his helmet placed beside his forefathers’ monuments in the church, above the old coat of mail, a pipe of tobacco in his mouth, a brown tankard of October upon the table, with him a friend or two, and talk grave or cheerful, as the time and mood may suggest, while the sun slopes westward, and the shadows lengthen, and the dark crypt of Bamborough Church draweth nearer every hour.

The way in which Tom Forster, junior, of Etherston, became Tom Forster of Bamborough, was as follows:

On August the 22nd, in the year of grace seventeen hundred and one, Mr. Ferdinando Forster, Member of Parliament, the youngest and only surviving of the three brothers, was entertaining a company of gentlemen to dinner at the Black Horse Tavern in Newcastle. Now, there had been anger (for what reason I know not, and have never heard) for a long time between Mr. Forster and Mr. John Fenwick, of Rock. It has always been maintained Mr. Forster was a gentleman of easy and cheerful disposition, who bore no malice, and was unfriendly to no one; also that he was ready and willing to come to an amicable settlement of their differences, whatever they might be, hating nothing so much as bad blood, and being ready to forgive private injuries so far as his honour would allow. Unfortunately Mr. Fenwick was of an opposite temperament, being choleric, vindictive, and hot-headed. Also, conceiving that he had been wronged, he went about demanding vengeance, and breathing threats whenever he should meet his adversary. Was it not, therefore, a most unfortunate accident that he should be in Newcastle on that same August morning? And what should be said of the mischievous wretch (reported to be mad Jack Hall) who informed this angry man that his enemy was at the Black Horse? Thither he rushed, maddened by his great wrath, and, bursting into the room where Mr. Forster sat with his friends, did assail him with reproaches, insults, curses, and foul names of so outrageous and intolerable a kind that there was nothing for a man of honour to do but (having first called upon his friends to take notice that the quarrel was forced upon him) to rise and follow the aggressor into the open street. At the White Cross they stood, and both drew their swords. Mr. Hall, who had followed Mr. Fenwick, drew his sword as well, with intent to act as second. Just then, before the weapons had crossed, Mr. Forster’s foot slipped, and he fell upon the stones. What followed is dreadful to tell, and shows how rage may make even an honourable gentleman blind and mad. For Mr. Fenwick, without waiting for his adversary to recover, or to be in a position to defend himself, instantly ran him through the heart, so that he fell dead. It has always been said that Mr. Hall should have prevented this cruel murder by striking up Mr. Fenwick’s sword with his won, and there are not wanting those who call him as much a murderer as the unhappy man himself who did the deed. I know not how this may be; but so much is certain, that nothing afterwards ever prospered with Mr. Hall; but he was pursued with continued disaster to the day of his violent and untimely end —— a clear mark of Heaven’s displeasure. They seized Mr. Fenwick red-handed, so to speak, and lodged him in prison. A month later he was led forth and hanged for the murder —— a melancholy and disgraceful end for a gentleman of his birth and fortune.

The intelligence of this terrible crime was brought to Etherston by Mr. Hilyard the next day. He lay at Bamborough that night, and so heard the news among the first. Madam was sitting in the garden with the two boys and Dorothy, Tom being then seventeen and Jack five years younger.

‘Alas!’ she cried, when she heard the news —— the children looking at each other in amazement, not knowing what to say. ‘Alas! sure some great wickedness, boys, must have been committed by your mother’s family. First it is John, then William, and now Ferdinando; all gone in three years. Of nine children there remains but one. Some sins, we are assured, are visited upon the third and fourth generation. Tom, it would become thee to repent, lest it be visited upon thee as well.’

‘When I find out what I am to repent of,’ said Tom sullenly, because he loved not to hear the least reflection upon his mother’s family, ‘I will repent. My mother’s family have brought nothing but honour to us, as far as I know. There is credit in being worth notice. Now, a Lawes might steal a pig and be hanged for it, and his grandchildren never a penny the worse.’

‘With submission, madam,’ Mr. Hilyard interposed hastily, to prevent further words, ‘this crime may lead to your stepson’s singular advantage. For, if Mr. Ferdinando hath left no will, I mistake much if the estates do not devolve upon him, or upon him and Lady Crewe together.’

‘Will Tom have Bamborough?’ madam asked. ‘Then he must not have Etherston as well. That,’ she added, thinking of her own son, not yet born, ‘should be divided among all the other children, however many there may be. The law is unjust as regards the younger sons. No woman would ever be a second wife did she know how her own children would be served.’

‘I doubt not, madam,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘that should the occasion arise, his honour will prove as just and as generous as you would desire.’

‘Their father,’ madam replied, tossing her head, ‘would give all to Dorothy had he his own way. When justice is to be done, Mr. Hilyard, come to me about it.’

‘As for me,’ cried Tom, the brave lad, his face suddenly flushing, ‘it will be my business to avenge the death of my uncle. What! The breath only just out of his body, and we are talking of his succession!’

‘Nay,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘as for the murderer, he is in prison; they say that he will be tried for his life. Let me advise you rather to keep this melancholy story before your eyes as an example, never to be forgotten, of the danger of ungoverned wrath, which Lactantius calls a cruel tempest of the mind. Thus, as is recorded, began the madness of Ajax.’

They brought the body of Mr. Forster to Bamborough, and buried him in the crypt below the chancel. It was observed that no longer procession had ever been known at the funeral of anyone; nay, it is even said that when the coffin was borne into the church, the tail of the long line of mourners was yet a whole mile away from the porch, and they had to wait till all had reached the church, though all could not find room within, before they began the words of the Funeral Service. The chief mourner was my brother Tom, and after him my father, at the head of so great a gathering of Forsters that you might think them an army in themselves. Then came the county gentlemen and private friends, and lastly the tenants and the common people, who wept tears of unfeigned sorrow, for they had lost a landlord and friend of a kind heart, although one who spent at a great rate and lived beyond his income. The foxhunters gave their brother sportsman the last viewholloa, as one fires a volley over the grave of a soldier; and the Manor House provided a noble supper for all the mourners, of high and low degree, with as much drink of all kinds as their grief could crave, so that few, indeed, departed sober from that last tribute of respect to the murdered man.

It was proved to be as Mr. Hilyard thought, —— Mr. Forster had made no will. Therefore, the Bamborough estates fell to Lady Crewe and Tom as coheirs, each to take a moiety.

‘Dorothy,’ Tom cried, ‘what we agreed to do shall be done. As soon as I am of age, and can go to live at the Manor House, thou shalt come too, and we will live together.’

Chapter iii.

The Heir of Bamborough.

A noble inheritance indeed, even if one only had a moiety or half part! Not only did it include the manors of Bamborough and Blanchland, but also the Rectory and Monastery of Shotley, the Manor of Thornton, with houses at Alnwick and elsewhere, fishing-rights on Tweed and Derwent, and presentations to four livings and chapelries. Tom never wearied of enumerating his lands and possessions.

‘As to her ladyship,’ he said, ‘she may have children and she may not. If she have none, then the whole will be mine. And whatever happens, we shall live in the Manor House, Dorothy, and we will have a noble time —— you and I together. She has a dozen palaces and castles; she will surely not grudge me the simple Manor House of Bamborough.’

But as yet he wanted three years of twenty-one, and for the present he must needs have patience.

Presently, little by little, there began to leak out reports that all was not as it should be with the estate. For first we heard of a charge of £350 a year in favour of my uncle Will’s widow —— a monstrous and most greedy jointure, truly, when one considers that on many estates as large as that of Bamborough a poor £40 a year is all that a younger son or daughter may look for. Next we heard of a rent-charge of £500 a year created by the late Sir William Forster to pay for some of his profuse expenditure. This was bought up by Lord Crewe, no doubt at her ladyship’s expressed desire, for £10,000. But the Bishop was one of the most wealthy men in the kingdom, and could well afford even so great a sum. Here, however, was a goodly cantle cut out of the estate. Half the annual rent gone at once. Tom, for his part, showed little or no concern about it.

‘There remains,’ he said, ‘another £800 a year, besides the houses. There is a good deal to be done with the half of £800 a year. And I am the heir of Etherston as well.’

He looked on his heritage of Bamborough as a means for living as he wished until the Etherston property fell in.

Yet he ought to have felt that there is a sad falling-off from the £1,600 or so of revenue received by Sir William, to the enjoyment of only a moiety of £800 a year. There were other creditors and claims upon the estate also, of which we knew nothing, and happily, as yet, suspected nothing.

The heir of both Bamborough and Etherston was a much more important person than the heir of Etherston alone. Lady Crewe, who, to speak the truth, took little notice of her sister’s children while her brothers were living, now showed a very particular interest in Tom, and wrote many letters upon his course of life, both to him and to his father. She begged earnestly that he might go to Cambridge, pointing out that, although her nephew’s inclination lay not much, as she understood, in the direction of books, it would be well for him to make the acquaintance at that ancient seat of learning of the young men, his contemporaries, and to learn how matters of importance are regarded outside Northumberland. Tom, therefore, went to St. John’s College, as a gentleman commoner, with Mr. Hilyard for his tutor. Here, however, he remained but three or four terms. Then her ladyship pointed out that a country gentleman has to become a magistrate, so that it is most desirable for him to know law, and entreated him to enter at Lincoln’s Inn, and to reside in London for a part of each year, in order to study the Acts of Parliament and the powers of a justice of the peace. To this, however, Tom objected, saying that his father and his grandfather had been justices without going to Lincoln’s Inn, or knowing any law at all, and that, to his mind, a gentleman should not dirty his fingers with the quibbles and shifts of lawyers. In this opinion he continued, although he was reminded that one of his cousins had been Sir Thomas Forster, Justice of Common Pleas under King James I., and another, Sir Robert Forster, no less than Lord Chief Justice of England under Charles I. Then Lady Crewe wrote another letter, in which she clearly told her nephew that his rusticity and that of his friends was such as to unfit him for the posts of distinction open to the owner of Bamborough (her brothers, indeed, especially Ferdinando, had been gentlemen of courtly and finished manners, acquired among the most polite society of St. James’s): and that if he would neither study law nor letters, it behoved him, under proper tutelage, such as that of Mr. Hilyard, to travel into Italy, and so to acquire the manners of the great world. I knew not at the time, and none of us were courtiers enough to discern, that her ladyship, in taking all this trouble, was endeavouring to make Tom understand her design; namely, to make her nephew the successor of her brothers, and no loser by their prodigality, provided only he would show himself worthy of her bounty.

This project she never abandoned, being always most jealous for the honour of the Forsters, although the events which followed prevented her from carrying it into effect. Yet Tom was so foolish as to fall into a great rage upon receiving her letter, alleging that, as for his manners, he was not ashamed of them, and they were those of his father and his friends; that he was not, for his part, going to become a London beau; and as to travelling in foreign parts, to be sure the Prince was in France, but what had an English gentleman to learn from a set of mangy French and scurvy Italians? And as for distinction and the holding of high posts, he might show her ladyship some day that he was as capable of distinguishing himself as any man in Northumberland —— rusticity or no rusticity.

‘Thou wilt not be guided by the wisest of women, boy,’ my father said. ‘She is the wisest of women, because she is led by the most crafty and the wisest of men. Thou wilt neither to London nor to foreign lands, though here is Mr. Hilyard longing to go with thee. Well, stay-at-homes have little wit; ignorance breeds conceit. I have myself been to London and seen the Court; but as for thee, Tom, thou art pure rustic. Besides, though I am a simple and unlearned person, content to stay at home, they will not, I fear, suffer thee the same liberty. For thou hast more to lose; and where the carcase is, thither the eagles gather.’

Then Lady Crewe privately exhorted Mr. Forster to take care lest his son, through ignorance of the world, should be tempted into some rash enterprise, like that of Sir William Fenwick, who was executed for treason in the year 1696; to remember that fierce spirits were always abroad, endeavouring to stir up immature risings and to hatch foolish plots for the destruction of unhappy gentlemen; and to be assured that though her own favour and that of her husband would be continued to her nephew should he move prudently, that favour would certainly be withdrawn should rashness plunge him into difficulties with the Government: with much more to the same effect.

‘Her ladyship is right,’ cried my father. ‘None so hot for the Sovereign as my Lord Bishop till King William comes to the throne. Then he must needs run for it and try the air of France. Running is a very noble exercise when you are young. My lord is out of favour now, and he is getting old, and would fain stay where he is, and I think he would like to taste once more the sweetness of Court smiles; but still, one who loves the old House. This should be thy safest plan, Tom. Be guided by the Bishop. He will never go over to the other side, and yet he will never put his neck in the noose. Wherefore, my son, remember that conspiracies are hatched by men who have got nothing to lose; it is easy for a landless Irishman to talk wild and vapour, but for us, who have a name and an estate which we have held together for seven hundred years and more, the risk is too great. I do not say, neither, that we are to turn Whigs. We who fought for the Stuarts stand by them still. They made my grandfather Sheriff and Knight; they gave Sir Claudius the Manor of Bamborough; saving our religion, and our estates, Tom —— and our estates, boy, mind that —— we must follow the Stuarts always. When the voice of the country is clearly for the Prince, the Forsters will come with the rest. But when thwacks are going, let those who began get the first of the hammering, while we stand by and see which way the battle is likely to go. Therefore, when thou art of age, Tom, take care to write nothing, to promise nothing, to sign nothing. As for what may happen, we know nought. The Dutchman hath no children: let us wait; the Princess Anne may follow, but we know not. Let us wait, and meantime lie snug all.’

However, there were two years to wait before the coming of age, which was in the year 1702. By consent of Lady Crewe, Tom was allowed during this time to use the Manor House as if it was already his own, and many were the days which we spent in the old place, sometimes with Mr. Hilyard for tutor and companion, spending whole weeks there. The house was not larger than Etherston Hall, but it was, in a way, more splendid. There were portraits on the walls of Sir Claudius, Claudius his nephew, Sir William, his three sons, the wife of the eldest, my own mother, and my aunt, the beautiful Dorothy. Truly there never was a more lovely and charming face than that of this portrait, the original of which I had never seen. It represented her at the age of twenty or twenty-one. She had a face round rather than oval; a sweet, rounded, dimpled chin; a mouth more like a rosebud than the lips of a woman; light brown, curling hair, lying in a cluster about her forehead, which, Mr. Hilyard said, was too ample for the Greek idea of beauty, their Venus being low of forehead; the nose was full; the eyes were dark brown, and of a singular brightness. I reflected with inexpressible joy, when looking upon this sweet face, that my own eyes were of the same colour and brightness, and my own hair of the same hue, and the same tendency to twist and curl itself about my forehead. When gentlemen, past the age of thirty or so, came to the Manor House, they gazed at the portrait and sighed, remembering her beauty, and thinking, no doubt, how great a thing it would have been to marry so lovely a woman. When the young men came, they looked upon the portrait with such wonder as they might experience in looking upon that of Helen, Cleopatra, or fair Dido.

‘She moves,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘a goddess confessed. Never, since those fair women of old, has there been her like. Sometimes I think that the incomparable Sappho may have had those eyes, which are yours also, Miss Dorothy; and the chaste Lucretia that look, in which you yourself greatly resemble your aunt; and even Venus herself that dimpled chin, which I am glad to see remains still in the family.’

There were other portraits, but these were the best.

The house itself is of two stories, and is built in the modern fashion, having square sash windows, two on one side the door and one on the other. It looks from the front upon a triangular green, planted with a clump of trees, having the village pant at the end, and a field at the base. On the right is the church, and on the left is the broad street leading to the castle. At the back is a garden, not so big or so well provided as that of Etherston, because, by the seaside, everything will not grow; but it has a great store of herbs and fruit trees, with currants, gooseberries, and strawberries in season, lavender and other plants for strong waters and perfumes, and herbs for medicine: notwithstanding which, Nature hath been so benevolent as to plant things for suffering man’s solace in every hedge, so that, though there may be plenty of toothache in the world, there is also plenty of trefoil, yarrow, and groundsel-root; and, though one may catch a cough, there is no fear of using up all the ground-ivy; and, though men will cut themselves with knives and sickles, their wives can gather for nothing as much comfrey, self-heal, and valerian as will cure their wounds.

A goodly garden and ancient, with a trim lawn as well, on which bowls could be played; and a sundial, which had marked the flight of time for many hundreds of years; and a fountain, which was stopped, and would work no longer till Mr. Hilyard set it agoing; and then we marvelled how we could have found the garden perfect without the pleasant plash of that jet of water with its little arch like a rainbow, and its sparkle in the sun. In every season —— summer, winter, or autumn —— it was pleasant to walk in the garden, and to look over the low wall at the end, and the green meadow beyond it, upon the broad sea which stretches away till sea and sky meet. A stormy sea it is when the north-east winds blow, and many have been the wrecks upon the rocks and islets off the shore.

To live in the Manor House was in itself a help to cure our rustic ways of thought and speech. For not only were there portraits, but also pictures brought from abroad, pictures of Roman Catholic saints —— there was a martyr, I remember, set up as a target for the arrows of his persecutors; and others of hunting-parties, and of battles by sea and land. Mr. Hilyard would stand before these pictures and discourse with great learning to me upon the Italian, Spanish, French, and Dutch Schools, and the chief merits of each. There was also tapestry, but not much. Mr. Hilyard has told me of the famous tapestry which he has seen in the Palace of St. James. There was a cabinet full of curiosities brought home by travellers in foreign parts —— among them a stone picked up in the Garden of Gethsemane, and a garland of thorns bought in Jerusalem itself. This cabinet afforded Mr. Hilyard the opportunity of many a discourse. There were also books —— not one shelf only, as we had at Etherston —— but three or even four shelves. There was Baker’s ‘Chronicle,’ Holinshed’s ‘History,’ Sibbes’s ‘Soul’s Conflict,’ a volume of Jeremy Taylor, Camden’s ‘Britannia,’ Grey’s ‘Choregraphia,’ a ‘History of the Lives, Travels, and Sufferings of the Apostles,’ with pictures, very moving; Record’s ‘Arithmetic,’ the ‘Marrow of Mathematics,’ Hartmann’s ‘True Preserver of Health,’ Drake’s ‘World Encompassed,’ Evelyn’s ‘Gardener’s Almanack,’ the ‘Paradise Lost’ of Milton, the Plays of Shakespeare, Bacon’s ‘Essays,’ Quarles’s ‘Emblems,’ Butler’s ‘Hudibras,’ in which Mr. Hilyard greatly delighted —— I know not why, because I could never read it with pleasure —— and a great many more. I read in most of these books, and, I hope, sucked as much profit from them as was to be expected of a girl. To be sure, I had beside me always a most patient, learned, and kind commentator, who spared no pains to make me understand obscure passages, and to illustrate places which, before he spoke of them, seemed unintelligible. An ignorant reader is like a poor man with empty purse, who walks along a valley strewn with diamonds and precious stones, which he neglects because he knows not how priceless are the stones beneath his feet. Pity it was that Tom would neither read nor listen.

On Sundays, when we all went to church in the morning, there was a great and noteworthy difference after Tom became the half owner of Bamborough. For, as often happens in old churches, this of ours was divided and parcelled out among the gentry. The north transept belongs to the Greys of Howick; the south transept to the Radcliffes, although they are Papists; the north part of the nave belongs to the owners of the Lucker, the south to the Forsters of Etherston, and the chancel to the Forsters of Bamborough. While, therefore, my father, with madam and Jack and the children, sat in their pew below the pulpit, Tom, and I with him, and Mr. Hilyard, because he was the tutor, walked proudly into the chancel and sat in a great pew raised three feet above the ground, so that you mounted by steps. The seats were lined with red velvet, very worn. Above us hung our own scutcheon, showing the Radcliffe fleur-de-lys among the Etherston martlets; on the other side was the great marble monument of Sir Claudius, who died at Blanchland; and, hanging on the wall, the helmet and iron coat of some other Forster long since dead and gone. Beside us was the stone effigy, with crossed legs, called Sir Lancelot du Lac, concerning whom Mr. Hilyard had a great deal to say, as to whether he was not perchance a Forster, and thus misnamed from the tradition of some great exploit or deed of arms.

It is an old and crumbling chancel. Among other things it contains an ancient window, through which the unhappy lepers outside might formerly see the elevation of the Host within. Separating chancel from nave, was an open screen of carved white stone, a good deal broken. When we stood up for the reading of the Psalms and the singing of the hymn, I could see through this screen the back of the vicar at the reading-desk, and in the pew below the pulpit my father’s best Sunday wig in the crispest curl, and madam’s hat and ribbons. Beyond the pews of the gentlefolk were the seats of the common people, worn black and shiny by generations of the humble worshippers. I suppose that in heaven there are no velvet-lined pews, with steps to mount, and stoves to keep one warm in winter; but it seems fitting thus to separate gentle and simple, and doubtless even in heaven there are degrees —— one cannot understand that a prince and a scullion will ever sit side by side. As for me, I confess that it was with pride that I sat every Sunday beside Tom in the chancel, reflecting that, although my father was the head of the older stock, the noblest and best of the family came from Sir John, the great Warden of the March, and Governor of Bamborough Castle —— the most splendid possession of his grandchildren.

There was never a day, when I was at the Manor House, but I passed some of it within the old walls, clambering, exploring, and running from one broken chamber to another, until I knew every chamber and every vault in the great pile. When I climbed the broken stairs and stood upon the giddy top of the half-roofed keep, I used to look around me with such pride as a Percy should feel at Alnwick or at Arundel. I was prouder even than my brother of the stately place, though he never wearied of rehearsing the greatness of his folk. A noble castle, indeed! This is none other than the Castle of King Ida, called the Royal House. King Edwin lived here; miracles were worked here by saints for the preservation of the castle; William Rufus sat down before it; David Bruce was a prisoner in it; the breaches in the broken walls were caused by the cannon of the Yorkists. Why, whenever I read the history of England in Holinshed or Baker, I turned over the pages and looked out the places where the castle is mentioned, and then my foolish heart would glow with pride. But surely there could be no more delightful place for a young girl’s playground and place of meditation. The keep alone remains entire, out of all the towers, bastions, forts, and strong places which once stood here; but their ruins still stand. In some places there are broken stone steps leading up to chambers whose floors are gone, windows gaping wide, and roof long since torn off; in others there are deep dungeons, open now to the light of heaven. At night, I used to think the groans of dead prisoners still ascend to the sky. From the top of the keep one may look out to sea and behold the Farnes lying beneath one as on a map; to the north is Holy Island, with its ruined church and castle on a hill; to the south is black Dunstanburgh, where the Seeker may be seen nightly by those who look for him; and inland lie the fields and woods belonging to the Forsters. In early summer the rock on which the castle stands, black and terrible in the winter, is covered, wherever the least ruggedness affords space for a morsel of earth, with tufts of grass and flowers. There are the thrift, the bell campion, and the trefoil, crimson, white and blue, very pretty to look upon. Later on, the sandhills, about which the rabbits keep running all the year round in thousands, are covered with flowers of other kinds, the names of which I knew and their properties, thanks to Nurse Judith and Mr. Hilyard.

Often Mr. Hilyard came here with me, telling out of his vast knowledge stories of the days when this place, now so silent and ruinous, was filled with knights and valiant men-at-arms, when the courts resounded with the hoofs of horses, the voices of the soldiers, and the clank of iron heel. He could restore the castle as it used to be, and would mark out for me the inner bailly, the outer bailly, the portcullis, the postern, the outworks, the chapel, the stables, the kitchens, and all, until in imagination I knew the castle, as it was when the Percies were its governors. No others came to the old castle except myself and Mr. Hilyard; it was quite lonely and deserted. In stormy weather the waves leaped up to the very walls, while the gulls flew screaming and the wind whistled. In the evening, when the twilight fell, I would sit among the fallen stones, seeing in the shadows of the pile grim spirits of the dead, and hearing in the breeze the voices of departed saints, kings, knights, bishops, sad prisoners, brave men, and fair ladies, whose ancient joys and sufferings made this place as sacred as the churchyard.

As for Tom, he cared little about the antiquity of the castle or its past history; his chief desire being for the time to arrive when he could call the place his own and be out of tutelage, and his principal occupation being hunting of fox and of otter, riding, shooting, fishing, badger-drawing, bat-fowling, netting of partridges with the lanthorn, setting decoys for ducks, hawking on the seashore, stalking the wild bulls of Chillingham, cock-fighting, dog-fighting, with the other manly sports in which young men delight. He conversed much with grooms, keepers, feeders, and falconers, and was experienced in every kind of sport. He also took great pleasure, in those days, in the wild-fowl shooting on the islands; many a time he has taken me with him when he had no other companion (Mr. Hilyard’s stomach being unable to stand the motion of a boat). Then we would sail through the waves to those wild and desolate rocks covered with the nests of the sea-birds which rise screaming from under the feet of the rare visitor. The cries of the birds, the whirr of their wings, the whistling of the wind, the dashing of the waves, are the only sounds upon these lonely islands where St. Cuthbert built his hermitage. They are, indeed, a truly fitting place for the gloomy recluse, who (though doubtless a holy man) dared to call the half of the Lord’s creatures unclean, and forbade a woman even to set her foot upon the place where he resided. Many pious women have gone into voluntary retreat and hermitage, but one never yet, I believe, heard of a woman thus speaking of man as to call him unholy or unclean. The walls of St. Cuthbert’s house yet stand in ruins on his deserted island, but there are now no human beings within their shelter.

I learned to know all the birds by their flight, their cry, and their feathers —— the St. Cuthbert’s ducks who make nests of the sea-weed, the tomnoddies, the skouts, the guillemots, the shags, the kittiwakes, the gulls, the brockits, the rock-pigeons, the sea-larks, and the jackdaws who build in the rabbit-holes. In those days, who so brave and handsome as young Tom Forster, leaping lightly from rock to rock, fowling-piece in hand, his long hair tied in a ribbon, and blown behind him by the sea-breezes, his grey eyes bright, and his cheek ruddy? What but a splendid future could await a lad so gallant? As for the girl who ran beside him, as agile as her brother, dressed in short petticoats and thick shoes with woollen stockings, she was a slip of a thing then, with dark brown eyes (like those of her aunt), and long fair curls flying under her hat. Her brother, though he sometimes swore at his grooms and thrashed the stable-boys, never had a harsh or unkind word for her, nor she any thought for him but of tender and true affection. Pity it was that one of natural abilities so good would never read and acquire wisdom.

‘The man who reads not,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘may get skill and knowledge, but scarcely wisdom. The hind and herd are men of great skill and knowledge, the one in ploughing, sowing, and reaping, the other in cattle and the creatures of field and forest. So the old wife in the village learns the virtues of all the herbs that grow, and the sportsman learns the ways of the creatures whom he hunts. But without books one knoweth not his brother man, nor his own position and importance, nor the proportion which one thing beareth to another; as, for instance, the opinion of a Northumberland gentleman compared with the opinions of the City of London, or that of Will’s Coffee House. Thus the man of no books may easily consider his own importance to be much greater than it is in the eyes of others, and his own doctrines infallible, and his own way of thinking the only way possible for honest men. Especially there is the danger of overestimating his importance. It was the ignorance as well as the ambition of the thief Diophon which caused him to burst and die with envy because, on his way to be hanged, he found that one of his fellows was to be treated to a gallows higher than his own.’

I understood Mr. Hilyard to be talking of my brother Tom and his companions, wherefore I resented the likening of Tom unto the rogue Diophon, even though he was an ancient Greek; and he hastened to assure me that the comparison was not as to honesty but as to ignorance, which if it lead to self-conceit even in so base a person as a common thief, may much more do so in the case of a country gentleman of Northumberland.

Chapter iv.

His Highness the Prince.

As regards politics, I declare that I know nothing at all of what went on in London or anywhere else; but, as for Northumberland, I can safely assert that I have never known a time when there were not, continually, whisperings in corners, mysterious communications, breathless suspense, a coming and going of strangers or of gentlemen whom I knew to be in some way connected with the cause of the Prince. There were always great things going to happen, if we were to believe the people who made it their business to keep up a racket through the country in order to sustain and stimulate the loyalty of the party. His Highness was about to embark; a great many thousand French soldiers were collecting for him; everything was ready; the country was strong for the Prince. According to these gentry, there never was any doubt at all about the voice of the country. Why, when after many years I journeyed to London, I was amazed to think of our own ignorance in believing all these statements. I do Mr. Hilyard the justice of saying that he never did believe them. He was, I know, a Whig by birth; but, like a good servant, he became a Jacobite because we, in whose service he was, were of that cause. What did London think? That was ever his cry. Not London of the coffee-houses and St. James’s Street, but London of the City. Why, how strong and resolute must be the Protestant party of this present day, seeing that it has been strong enough to stomach a King who knew no word of English, so resolute as to keep him with his ill manners, his ugly mistresses, and his German Court, rather than have a Papist, even with all the Christian graces —— though of these unfortunately the Prince hath few, which one says with shame. This was not understood in the north; many friends of the Protestant gentry were Catholics; they were English, however, first, and Catholics next; not servants of the Pope first, and English next.

‘Why,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘these are not the Papists we in the south have been taught to fear. Their priests are courteous gentlemen of good English families; they show no wish to roast us at the stake; they are all for toleration. I doubt whether if London knew Northumberland, the country would any longer fear a Catholic King. I hear there are some in Scotland who believe that the King would be converted by his coronation, which I doubt. But his advisers, if they were English priests, not foreigners, would surely do the country little harm.’

Mr. Hilyard always put London before any other part of England: doubtless with reason, as being the centre of all. And he acknowledged that the people of England will never forget the blood and fire of Queen Mary, nor will they cease to ask what security there is that another Papist Sovereign will not surround himself with other Bonners and Gardiners. Listening daily to the talk, I conceived a plan by which everything might be set right. Like all children’s plans, it was impossible: for it was nothing less than that the Prince should imitate the example of Henry IV. of France, and for his crown change his faith. This, in my eyes, was all the easier, from the circumstance that, while Henry left the right for the wrong, our King would leave the wrong for the right. Wrong or right, it must have been choking to King James to hear, when he went to live in Rome —— even in Rome, where he might look for applause and support, if anywhere —— to hear, I say, as he is said to have heard, a Cardinal —— one of the Holy College —— whisper to another, with scorn unworthy of his sacred profession and dignity, ‘Behold the King who threw away three crowns —— for a mass!’

There were busybodies who went up and down the country in these days whispering, reporting, conveying letters, drawing up lists, with a mighty fuss and pretence of secrecy. Some of them were disguised; some sent letters by the hands of countrymen, and even gipsies, on whom they could depend; some were Irish, who are ever ready to embark in any mad scheme; some were country gentlemen or younger sons; some, even, were High Church clergy; some were Roman Catholic priests of the intriguing kind, who dressed as laymen —— by dispensation, one may suppose. As for the sum of these whisperings, it was always the same. The country was ripe; at a word, at the signal, the rising would be general; the Prince was always ready. A brave captain, too, who had shown his valour at Oudenarde and Malplaquet (where, indeed, he was fighting against his own countrymen); one who was eager to lead his brave followers to victory, and to reward them generously with the spoil of the Whigs. These things were industriously spread abroad among the Jacobite gentry, especially of Lancashire and Northumberland; it was firmly believed that the party was irresistible. And if the gentlefolk believed this, how much more the common people and the ignorant Scotch, who ran after their chieftains to their own destruction? Yet the events of the year 1707 ought to have opened the eyes of the party when they saw a French fleet, well manned, well found, well armed, with six thousand soldiers on board, fly ignominiously at the mere appearance of Admiral Byng and his ships. The Prince was on board the French commander’s ship. He prayed to be landed on the coast of Scotland —— no one, whatever side he may have taken, can doubt the gallantry of His Highness in those days —— but the prayer was refused, so that he returned to France, and presently, notwithstanding the French King’s solemn engagements, was driven out of that country into the Papal Dominions. These things prove the value of the Grand Monarque’s word, and also that the English will not have a King forced upon them by French bayonets.

‘We wait our time,’ Tom said. ‘When that time comes, the unanimous rising of the country gentlemen will be accepted as the voice of the people.’

‘Happy the man,’ said Mr. Hilyard, stroking his chin, ‘who rises the last.’

‘What? And leave others the glory and the honours?’

He was still a lad under age, but in this way he talked; he and his companions.

‘It will be the Protestant gentry,’ he said grandly, ‘though we shall allow the Catholics to join us, who will restore His Sacred Majesty. Then we shall find for him, perhaps out of Northumberland, counsellors wise enough to assure the country’s safety.’

These were our dreams. Fatal dreams they were, which in the end destroyed so many.

But always, in all these talks, the gentlemen spoke of the young Lord Derwentwater and his return. He would lead the Catholics of the whole country. He was a man of whose opinions, though no one had yet seen him and he was but a boy, there could be no doubt; his loyalty was beyond all possible question, he was rich, he was young and ardent, he was reported to be possessed of every virtue. I heard so much talk of this young gentleman that he became in my imagination a person more important even than the Prince, concerning whom elder ladies already whispered and shook their heads. Besides, His Royal Highness stood too far away for a girl to think much about him. The kings of the earth are like the gods of the ancients —— one does not picture them except on coins and in statues. But as for Lord Derwentwater, who would certainly some day return to his own people, he must be as beautiful as David, as noble as Arthur, as splendid as Adonis, and as valiant as Orlando, or any of the Seven Champions. He was to one young damsel, and doubtless to many others, the Prince of the old wife’s story. There are many such stories, but only one Prince for all of them. He is young and handsome, so was Lord Derwentwater; he hath a noble and flourishing estate, so had my lord; he hath a generous heart and a lavish hand, so had the young Earl; he is unmarried and free to become a lover —— a thing which always pleases a girl, though she need not be so foolish as to think him likely to become her own lover —— thus was my lord. To these qualities add that he had been the youthful friend, the companion, the sharer of the studies, even the cousion of that young Prince, now our lawful King, the rightful Sovereign of Great Britain and Ireland, acknowledged by most of the subjects (that is to say by all honest men) in these islands. He would tell the simple country folks when he came home of the appearance and countenance of His Royal Highness; he would come as a messenger, or an ambassador —— say rather a Lieutenant–Governor —— to the North Country, to keep their loyalty alive.

The origin of the Radcliffes is so remote as to be unknown. Many of our northern gentry boast a descent from the Norman Conquerors. They, however, were nobles in still earlier times. It was not till two hundred years ago, or thereabouts, that a Radcliffe first came from Cumberland to the neighbouring county, when Sir William married the heiress of Dilston. The first Earl, Sir Francis, was created on the marriage of his eldest son Edward, in the year 1686, with Lady Mary Tudor, daughter of Charles II. It was an unhappy marriage, but as to the reasons of the unhappiness, one need not inquire. It becomes not a mere private gentlewoman to pass judgment on the actions of Earls and Countesses; yet it must not be forgotten that the Countess, within two years of the Earl’s death, married two more husbands in succession.

After the separation the Earl remained in London, in no way furthering (so far as I have learned) the cause of his rightful Sovereign. The Countess, however, took her four children to St. Germain’s, where she brought them up in the Court, and among the personal friends, of the Prince. It was feared by some that their French training would have made them become Frenchmen in habits and in mind. This was not so, however, for it may be averred that there never were three young men who more ardently desired the greatness of their country, and more loved liberty and Constitutional Government, than these three.

We were kept regularly informed of the Earl’s movements and those of his brothers by the kindness of Sir William and Lady Swinburne, of Capheaton, who received and sent letters from London, Newcastle, and even St. Germain’s. They were from the Earl himself, Sir William’s cousin, from the Countess, and from Colonel Thomas Radcliffe, who chiefly lived in Newcastle. Sir William Swinburne’s father married the first Earl’s half-sister, and the union was blessed by the birth of four-and-twenty children. Considering that the first Earl of Derwentwater had eight daughters and four sons, while his father had six sons and seven daughters, all by his wife Isabel, daughter of Sir Ralph Grey, of Chillingham, there were plenty in the north who could call the young Lord Derwentwater cousin.

We learned, therefore, from their letters, year by year, how the Earl and his brothers were in the hands of tutors, and were already showing great promise; how they were pages to the Prince; that it was decided not to let them carry arms in the French King’s service; that they would come to England as soon as the Earl was of age, and so on, the news always keeping up our curiosity about this young nobleman.

To pass over several years, we learned, in course of time, that his lordship was now fully grown; that he was a comely, well-proportioned, and handsome young man, accomplished in all manly exercises, fond of reading, and well instructed, acquainted with the names and pedigrees of the Northumberland families, who were all his cousins; and that he was coming home to England without delay. Then the intriguers sent word of this, as of a most important event, about the country; the messengers rode north and south with letters; there was a stir in the north, and it was felt that now the time would shortly arrive for something to be done.

‘But,’ said Tom, ‘we Protestants may not be led by a Catholic. My lord must be content with being second.’

Chapter v.

Mr. Antony Hilyard.

When Mr. Antony Hilyard first came to us, as tutor to my brothers, he was a young man of twenty-one or twenty-two, not long from Oxford. He brought with him letters recommendatory, in which his learning was highly approved, and was sent to us by Mr. Ferdinando Forster, who heard of him as a young man desirous of entering a gentleman’s family as tutor, in the hope of becoming chaplain, and perhaps rising in the Church. Although a young man of great accomplishments and vast knowledge, he left his University without obtaining a degree, which was strange if anyone had thought of inquiring into the cause; as for so learned a scholar coming to take a tutor’s place in a gentleman’s house, that was nothing, because he was only the son of a vintner, and born in a place called Barbican, London. Such a place of honourable service, especially when the master is so easy a gentleman as my father, is one which all young men of his birth and parts should desire, though some, as Mr. Hilyard hath himself often told me, go to London, and there court Fortune as poets, playwrights, translators, writers of vamped-up travels, compilers of sermons for such of the clergy as lack the ability to compose them, and such work, which is, I am informed, as poorly paid as it is miserable, and beneath the consideration of a man who values his own dignity. Mr. Hilyard could write and speak both the French and Italian tongues; he was, besides, familiar with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldæan; he was skilled in many branches of the mathematics; he could play on the spinet with great ease and dexterity; he was an excellent geographer, and could discourse for hours upon a mappa mundi, or chart of the world; he could tell the stars and their courses; he could converse with intelligence and to the edification of his hearers on almost any subject, being equally at home in Peru and in London; knowing the Hottentots and Japanese as well as the London Scourers; and even in matters connected with agriculture or housewifery he could talk learnedly, being familiar with the practice of the ancient Romans both in their houses and on their farms. In a word, no knowledge came amiss to him; he despised nothing; when he took his walks abroad he was always noting something, whether the call of a bird or the habits of a weasel, a wild flower or herb of the field; he would ask a gardener about his fruit, a shepherd about his sheep, a ploughman about the soil, a dairymaid about her cows. And what he learned he never forgot. I do not exhaust his accomplishments when I add that he was skilled in the art of fencing, and that here he found Tom an excellent pupil.

It was impossible for any young man to be more grave, and even solemn, in his bearing and conversation; when Mr. Forster invited him to drink with his friends, which he sometimes did, he was seldom greatly overcome with liquor, and even at his worst preserved his gravity; he displayed none of the disposition to levity, gallantry, profane talk, and impious scoffing which is manifested by so many young men of the present day; no woman’s reputation suffered by any act or word of his; no bishop could have been more blameless in his daily life.

It shows the strength of youthful impressions that, although I know so much better, I can never now think upon virtue without there instantly appearing before my eyes the short squab figure of Mr. Hilyard. He wears a brown coat, and he has no ruffles to his shirt; his face is round; his nose broad, and a little upturned; his lips are full and mobile; his eyes are large; it is neither the figure nor the face of a grave and learned person, yet was he both grave and learned. Socrates, I have heard, was remarkable for a face of great plainness, and yet was a very learned philosopher. Nor was it a face which one would expect to find in a man of so religious and severe a turn as Mr. Hilyard. He always went to church first, so to speak, and came out of it last; his discourse was full of examples gathered from ancient sources, and learned authors recommending the practice of good works.

Conduct so blameless, gravity so singular, wisdom so remarkable, never before seen in a man so young, could not fail to command, before long, the confidence of all. Mr. Forster entrusted his most private affairs to the counsel of Mr. Hilyard; madam carried her complaints to him as to one who would find redress; his pupil, who loved not books, obeyed him, was shamed out of his rusticity, and was kept by him from those follies by which young gentlemen in the country too often suffer in reputation and imperil their souls. As for myself, he took from the earliest the kindest interest in my welfare, and taught me many things which I should never have learned but for him, especially to read and talk the French tongue, and to play on the spinet. Lady Crewe condescended to write to him concerning her nephew, and the Bishop sent him instructions as to the authors which Tom should be made to read. Tom did not read them, but he sometimes listened while Mr. Hilyard read them aloud, and in this manner, no doubt, he arrived at some knowledge of their contents.

This preamble makes what follows the more astonishing. One evening —— it was in August, and a few weeks before Tom came of age —— while I was walking in the garden of the Manor House, the sun being already set, Tom came running and calling me:

‘Come, sister!’ he cried;‘come, Doll, quick! There is something worth looking at, I assure you.’

He took my hand, and we ran into the village street, which was generally quiet enough at this time, but this evening there was a great noise of singing and laughing, and the playing of a fiddle. It came from the inn.

‘There is the rarest sport,’ said Tom. ‘A company of players are at the inn, on their way from Alnwick to Berwick. Who do you think is with them? Mr. Hilyard!’

‘Mr. Hilyard with the players?’

‘No other. Ho! ho! Laughing and drinking and playing. Yes; you may open your eyes, Dolly, but there it is. No other than Mr. Hilyard! You never saw the like! Now, see; if he knows we are watching him he will stop. We can go to the back of the house, and in at the kitchen-door. Hush! Follow me, and don’t speak or laugh.’

We went on tiptoe into the kitchen of the inn, where the landlady was sitting. She held up her finger, screwed her mouth, nodded her head, and laughed, indicating by these gestures that something out of the common was going forward. She then gently opened the door which led into the best room —— not that where the rustics sit on wooden settles and push the pot around, but that which is furnished with tables and chairs, used by gentlemen and the better sort. The company consisted of about a dozen —— men and women, of various ages. They were not gentlefolk, yet they had an air very different from that of the country people. They were poorly dressed, yet had odds and ends of finery, one of the men wearing a scarlet coat and laced hat, planted sideways on his great wig, and cocked like an officer; another with tattered lace ruffles; a third with a ragged coat of drugget, and yet a fine flowered waistcoat. As for the women, there were, five, whom one was old, two others middle-aged, two young. One of the last was pretty, after a bold and impudent fashion, having great eyes, which she rolled about, and large, comely arms. She was dressed very finely, as if she was about to mount the stage, with a silk petticoat and satin frock looped up, and she wore a low commode upon her head. A bright fire was burning, though the night was not cold; a pair of candles were lighted; on the table, which was pushed into a corner, stood a bowl of steaming hot punch; and on the floor, prancing about by himself, with a thousand tricks of face and twistings of his body, was —— oh! wonder of wonders, and who could have believed it? —— no other than Mr. Antony Hilyard.

‘See him!’ whispered Tom. ‘Oh the pious and religious man!’

Indeed, I hardly recognised him, so changed he was. Why, he had given, somehow, a martial air to his wig; his face was twice as long as usual; his eye was stern; he wore the air of a commander-in-chief; he carried his left hand upon his hip, as one who is a marshal or prince at the head of his army. And he was at least six inches taller. How a man can change at will his face, his stature, and his appearance passeth my understanding. (Nota bene. —— The girl, Jenny Lee, was sitting in the corner of the room with her great black eyes wide open and her mouth agape; but of her I thought nothing, so stupefied was I with the transformation of Mr. Hilyard.)

He beckoned to the actress who wore the silk petticoat, and she laughed, sprang to her feet, and —— can such things be possible? —— became all in a moment changed, and was at once a great lady —— a princess or countess, at least. Why —— a moment before she was a common stroller of the company —— and now ——

‘Pretty Bracegirdle herself —— the fair, the chaste Celinda —— could not look the part better,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘Now, frail Calista, for the lines.’ Then they began to recite verses, walking up and down with strange gestures and great vehemence —— she sometimes sweeping across the floor as if she had whole yards of train behind her; he, as if clutching at a sword.

It was the scene in the ‘Fair Penitent’ in which the unworthy Calista receives the vows of Altamont. He says, with a face full of exalted joy and looks of the most tender love:

‘Begone, dull cares! I give you to the winds Far to be borne, far from the happy Altamont! Calista is the mistress of the year: She crowns the seasons with auspicious beauty, And bids even all my hours be good and joyful.’

To which she, repentant, though he knows not why, replies, hiding her head in her hands:

‘If I were ever mistress of such happiness, Oh! wherefore did I play the unthrifty fool, And, wasting all on others, leave myself Without one thought of joy, to give me comfort?’

‘He is not drunk, Tom,’ I whispered, wondering; because, at first, I thought that must be Mr. Hilyard’s condition. ‘It is beautiful. But what are they doing?’

‘That is play-acting, simpleton. Look at him now!’

They had stopped, and gone on to another scene. Mr. Hilyard was now another character; his face expressed mingled emotions of scorn, pity, and sternness, while the actress declaimed the well-known lines beginning:

‘Is this the famous friend of Altamont?’ After which came his turn, and he spoke like one who carries fate in his hand:

‘Alas! This rage is vain; for if your fame Or peace be worth your care, you must be calm And listen to the means are left to save ’em.’ And so on —— a strange wild scene of horror and reproach.

Well, when they finished, there was a great shouting of applause, and a swearing, with needless imprecations, that Wilks himself could not have played the part better; to which Mr. Hilyard replied, without any show or pretence of modesty, that indeed they were quite right, and that at Oxford he was always understood to be a great deal better actor than even that tragedian.

He then hoped the punch was to their liking, and begged them to fill their glasses again, which they very willingly did.

‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘I will now give you another taste of my quality. You shall see that we scholars of Oxford are not without parts.’

He thereupon took off his full wig, and borrowed a worn bobtail from the oldest of the company, who was sitting by the fire, toasting his toes and drinking his punch, without taking any interest in what was doing. He might have been the father of the troop, and, in fact, was the father of some of them. Mr. Hilyard, then, borrowing this wig, put it on his own head; and, to be sure, a most ludicrous appearance he did present. Never did one imagine that a change of wig could make so great a difference in a man’s appearance. His face became short again; his mouth was set askew, and he seemed laughing with his very eyes.

‘Why,’ whispered Tom, ‘who ever thought he could laugh at all? He has been with us five years, and never a smile till now!’

As the red firelight fell upon his face it seemed brimful of mirth, joy, and merriment, as if he could never do anything but laugh. His eyes swam with cheerfulness; there was no such thing as care in the whole world, one would have thought. Yet the same face that I knew so well, although now I seemed never to have known it before. Oh! figure of Virtue in a brown coat, and Piety with sober face, and Learning with decorous gravity, where art thou?

The actors looked at him with admiration. Not one of them could twist and turn his face so well. As for me, it was not admiration, but amazement.

‘Didst ever see the like, Doll!’ whispered Tom.

We still held the door ajar, and peeped through unregarded by any of the company.

Next, Mr. Hilyard, still with this face of smiles, turned a chair down, and sat upon it as if upon a saddle. Then he folded his arms, and delivered an oration in verse, at which everybody laughed loud and long. For my own part, I saw nothing to laugh at, for the verses were all about everybody being an ass —— a thing to make people cry, rather than laugh. The cit, they said, was an ass, the soldier was an ass, the lawyer was an ass, the sailor was an ass, and so forth. Perhaps the punch made the company the better disposed to laugh. When the speaker had finished, they all protested, with profane oaths, that Will Pinkiman himself had never given that epilogue better.

‘Will Pinkiman, gentlemen!’ cried Mr. Hilyard, getting off his chair. A fig for Will Pinkiman! Why, though to be sure he hath some merit, where is his fire compared to mine?’

‘Where, indeed, sir?’ repeated the fellow in the scarlet coat, with his tongue in his cheek. ‘A better than Will Pinkiman is here. I drink your health, sir.’

‘Gentlemen,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘an evening like this does one good. Believe me, I have never sung a single song, or played a single piece, for five years. In the north a man of my parts is truly wasted and thrown away.’

‘Come with us, sir,’ said the youngest actress, who had played Calista with him. ‘Sure, a gentleman like you would make a fortune on the boards.’

‘Nay, fair Calista, or Celinda, as thou wilt. There, indeed, you must hold me excused. Had your boards been the boards of Old Drury, it might be different. In that Temple of Thespis would be my proper home.’

He then called for another bowl of punch to be got ready against the other’s giving out, and taking up a fiddle which belonged to one of the company, he struck a chord or two, and began to play very sweetly. First he played the tune of ‘May Fair,’ then of ‘Cheshire Rounds,’ then ‘Ye Lasses and Lads,’ and lastly he played ‘The Countryman’s Delight.’ After which he laid down the bow, and looked about for applause, which came in thunders.

‘Why,’ whispered Tom, ‘I thought he could play none but Psalm tunes on the spinet.’

This done —— just, I suppose, to show the players another of his accomplishments —— he gave back the fiddle to its owner, and requested him to play an air which he named, and, I suppose, was very well known, to which he said he would sing a little song of his own composition.

‘Lord!’ Tom murmured, ‘he is going to sing next.’

He did sing, having a very sweet, melodious, and powerful voice, not slurring his words as some singers do, for the sake of harmonizing the tune, nor forgetting his tune in order to give more emphasis to his words, as is the way with others.

‘Sweet Amoret, ’tis you, I vow, Whose soft, prevailing charms Have bound my hopes of heaven now To live within, to live within thine arms.

‘But if condemned by thy disdain, And of thy smiles bereft; Still let me nurse the tender pain, Though no more hope, though no more hope be left.

‘He stakes his all to win or lose, Who sets his hopes so high, And finds too late he cannot choose But still to love, but still to love —— and die.’

‘Mr. Tofts himself,’ said the fair Celinda (or frail Calista), wiping a tear —— but I fear a false one ——‘could not have sung this song more sweetly, or more touched my heart.’

Mr. Hilyard smiled as one who is superior even to Mr. Tofts, and said that, for a private man, not a professor of the Art, he thought he had sung his own foolish song indifferent well. But, oh! you may think of the surprise of the girl peeping through the door. He to sing a love-song! Would skies drop next?

Now I was not so young or so ignorant but I could plainly see that whether Mr. Hilyard acted or sang well or ill, the company were fooling him for the sake of his punch. Also that they looked on with approval while the girl with the soiled silk petticoat and the large eyes plied their entertainer with praise, and kept filling his glass between the performances. After the song she said that she would like nothing so much as to rehearse with him a scene from the ‘Mourning Bride;’ that she had all her life been looking for some gentleman, not a common actor, but a gentleman, man (here the men grinned) who could not only give the lines with fire, but also look the part, and be as handsome in his person and courtly in his manner as Mr. Hilyard (here he stroked his chin and wagged his head and smiled, but the men grinned again, and took more punch). But, she said, taking out her handkerchief and weeping, unluckily, as all her friends present knew well, she could not afford a dress becoming to the part, and even had to play queens and chambermaids in the same frock, so unhappy she was. The other women murmured, ‘Poor thing! and Gospel truth! and the Lord knows! But a kind gentleman!’ The men took more whisky punch, and Mr. Hilyard, now a little flushed with praise and punch combined, and the girl’s eyes, which were kept fixed upon him (so the cunning snake charms the silly coney), and her wheedling voice —— for she had a very soft and winning voice —— began to shed tears too, out of compassion, and lugging out his purse, swore —— could one believe that he should ever swear? —— that she should make such an appearance on the stage as would show off her beautiful face and lovely figure to the best advantage, and gave her two or three guineas. She fell on her knees, calling him her preserver and her patron. The other women held up their hands, crying, ‘Oh, the generous gentleman! And this comes of a feeling heart, and of knowing what acting should be! And heaven, surely, hath its choicest blessings for one so good of heart!’ But the men took more punch.

Then Mr. Hilyard raised the cunning jade (who I could see very well was only pretending) and lifted her on his own knee, and began to kiss her, the other women murmuring that an honest girl might let the gentleman have so much liberty in return for his goodness.

‘O Lord! O Lord!’ murmured Tom. ‘This after what he said to me only yesterday!’

The men tipped the wink to each other, and drank more punch. Then, as Mr. Hilyard showed no sign of any more acting, one of them, putting down his glass, began to sing a song, at which the women stopped their ears and the men began to laugh, and Tom dragged me away. And so an end of the most wonderful evening ever seen.

‘Now,’ cried Tom, ‘what do you think of Mr. Hilyard, Dorothy?’

‘Truly, Tom,’ I replied, ‘I know not what to think or to say.’

‘Nor I. Well, he hath fooled us all; but we have found him out. Why, if he had only told me before what he could do, what evenings should we have had in this dull old house! After all, there are only a few months to wait. Dorothy, breathe not a word to my father or to Jack.’

Amazed, indeed, I was that Mr. Hilyard, of all men, should perform these antics! As well expect the Bishop of Durham, Lord Crewe himself, that venerable Father of the Church, to stand up for the Cobbler’s Dance, or the Vicar of Bamborough, a divine of great gravity, to grin through a horse-collar!

‘In the morning,’ said Tom, who seemed as much delighted at the discovery as I was amazed and grieved (for surely it is sad to find folly in a wise man’s mouth —— oh, how often had he admonished us both out of Solomon’s Proverbs!)——‘in the morning you shall see me smoke old Sobersides.’

Well, in the morning, when I expected the poor man to appear crestfallen and full of shame, Mr. Hilyard came down exactly the same to look upon as usual, save that he seemed thirsty. To be sure, he knew not that he had been observed. Yet surely he must have remembered, with repentance, the foolishness of the night.

‘I have heard, sir,’ said Tom presently, looking as meek as a sheep, ‘that a company of players passed through the town last night.’

Mr. Hilyard replied that a report to that effect had also reached his ears. He then proceeded to pronounce an eulogium on the Art of Acting, which, he said, was in his opinion second only to the divine gifts of poetry and music; that a man who was able to act should behave with modest gratitude for the possession of so great a quality; and he proceeded to give examples to prove the greatness of actors, from Roscius, who made a fortune of fifty millions of sesterces —— which seems a prodigious great sum, though I know not how many guineas go to make a sesterce —— unto the great Monsieur Baron, still living, and the favourite of the Paris ladies, although he was retired from the stage for twelve years and more.

‘Have you yourself, sir,’ asked Tom, ‘ever witnessed the performance of a play in London?’

‘It hath been my good fortune on many occasions,’ replied his tutor, ‘to see the play both at Drury Lane and the Haymarket. Perhaps I may be permitted to witness the exhibition of that divine Art again before I die.’

‘The best tragic actor is said to be Mr. Wilks, is he not?’ asked Tom, while Dorothy blushed.

‘Mr. Wilks hath certainly a great name,’ replied Mr. Hilyard. ‘Though I knew not you had heard of these things, Tom.’

‘And in comic parts one Will Pinkiman, I have been told,’ said Tom, ‘is considered the best.’

‘He certainly is,’ replied Mr. Hilyard, with some surprise. ‘Who hath told you of Will Pinkiman?’

‘Could you, sir, give us any example or imitation of this ingenious man? One would like to know how Pinkiman, for instance, pronounced the comical epilogue seated on an ass, on whose head he had placed a wig.’

Mr. Hilyard, somewhat disconcerted, changed colour, and drank off a pint or so of the small-ale with which he made his breakfast. Then he hemmed solemnly, and replied gravely:

‘Such an imitation is not, indeed, beyond my powers. And I perceive, Tom, that thou hast heard something of yesterday evening, and perhaps witnessed the entertainment which I provided for those poor but virtuous and ingenious people who passed the night at the inn. The Art of Acting was not included in the subjects which your father and Lady Crewe considered necessary for a gentleman. Therefore, I have abstained from ever speaking of it. Certainly it is no more necessary than that of painting, playing an instrument, sculpture, singing, carving, or any of those arts by which the daily life of the rich is embellished and in some countries the lives of the poor are made happy.’

He then, with so much gravity that one could not but remember the merry face of last night, proceeded to discourse upon the impersonation of character, and actually depicted before us, without leaving his chair, and simply by changing the expression of his face, and by various gestures of his hands, the diverse emotions of pity, terror, awe, expectancy, resignation, wrath, revenge, submission, love, jealousy, and suspicion, and all so naturally, and with so much dignity, that we were awed, and when we expected to laugh, or to make the poor man ashamed, we were made ashamed ourselves.

He concluded by warning us that, if we chanced to see a man who possessed this genius performing a foolish or mean part, we must be careful not to confound the man with the character which he assumed; to remember that many illustrious persons, including the Grand Monarque himself, had figured in operas, ballets, comic pieces, and burlettas, not to speak of Nero, a great artist, though a great monster, and Commodus; and to regard the stage as the finest school in the world for virtue and good manners; although as yet it must be owned, he said, that there was still —— as regards Comedy —— something to desire.

‘Who would think,’ said Tom, when he had concluded, and left us gaping at each other, ‘who would think that only yesterday evening he was hugging and kissing the actress?’

Now this event happened a very short time before Tom came of age. He spoke no more about it to me, nor did Mr. Hilyard again discourse of acting. It was not till a week before his birthday that Tom opened upon the subject again.

‘Dorothy,’ he said, ‘I have been thinking that for Mr. Hilyard to go away, when he hath become so useful to all of us, would be a great pity.’

‘Why should Mr. Hilyard leave us, Tom?’

‘Why, child, a man needs no tutor or guardian when he is twenty-one years of age. As for you and me, we shall live together; but you will miss him more than I, especially when I am away with my friends.’

‘Oh, Tom, who will ——’ But here I stopped, because there were so many things that Mr. Hilyard did for us that I could not tell which to begin with.

‘Who will keep the accounts —— look after the cellar, the stables, and the dogs; make my flies, look after my feeders and my cocks; read books with you, talk about the Romans, spout poetry, and —— what, Dorothy?’

‘Sing songs and play the fiddle, Tom?’ I asked timidly, because I had never dared to ask Mr. Hilyard to repeat that pretty performance.

‘And act like Will Pinkiman, and keep a whole roomful of men in a continual laugh —— who, Dorothy?’

‘Why, no one, Tom.’

‘There is no one. I believe there is no one in all England who can act, and play, and sing like Mr. Hilyard, demure as he looks, and purring like a cat all these years. Dorothy, if madam had seen him!’

‘Oh, Tom! Don’t tell her.’

‘I am not going to tell her. Now, listen, child: I have a plan, and I will tell thee what it is. He hath been with us so long that he knows our affairs and our most private concerns. I doubt not that he is honest, and his play-acting —— did you ever see the like?’

Tom fell into a kind of reverie, and remained speechless for a while. Then he broke out into a great fit of laughter, and began to imitate Mr. Hilyard’s face and speech (but at a long distance) when he sat upon the chair:

‘“Your fighting ass is a Bully, Your sneaking ass is a Cit, Your keeping ass is a Cully, Your top prime ass is a Wit.” How well he did it, sister! I have thought it over, my mind is quite made up; I will ask him to stay with me. He shall be my secretary or clerk, the steward of my affairs; he shall keep my books for me, and deal with my tenants. As for me, I shall ride, shoot, fish, and entertain my friends; in the evening, Mr. Hilyard shall have as much drink as he likes, and shall sing, play, and act for the amusement of my company. I will give him, besides his meat and drink, five-and-thirty pounds a year in money.’

On the twenty-first birthday there were rejoicings and a great feast held. Strange to see how Tom (who had, to be sure, been longing eagerly for the day) stepped into his place, no longer a minor, but now one of the gentlemen of the county. His head had been shaved, and he wore for the first time, but rather awkwardly, a beautiful full wig, the curls of which, hanging over his shoulders, greatly set forth the natural beauty of his features, and lent dignity to his appearance. He was also dressed in a purple coat with crimson lining, a white silk waistcoat, and scarlet leather shoes with gold buckles (they had belonged to Mr. Ferdinando), and he wore, for the first time, a sword.

‘Now, Dorothy,’ he said complacently, ‘I feel I am a man at last. Remember what I said about Mr. Hilyard.’

Among those who offered their congratulations was the tutor; but he wore a sad downcast countenance, because he looked for nothing less than to be sent away, his business being at last accomplished, and his pupil now of age.

He laid down his office, he said, with as much regret as Seneca, once tutor to the Emperor Nero. ‘But,’ he added, ‘my own worth falls as far short of that philosopher as my pupil’s character surpasses that of Nero. Wherefore, in parting from so generous a patron, I have no other consolation than the recollection of faithful service in the cultivation of so fruitful a soil as the brain of Mr. Forster, and the hope of letters recommendatory which may obtain for me other and equally suitable employment.’

‘Truly, suitable,’ said Tom, laughing. Mr. Hilyard blushed, but the rest wondered. ‘As for parting,’ Tom went on, ‘there go two to make a parting. Why not stay with me?’

The poor tutor, whose face had been growing longer day by day for two months, shook his head.

‘My occupation,’ he said, ‘is gone.’

‘As for occupation,’ Tom replied, ‘what say you to board and lodging, as much wine and punch as you can hold whenever there is company, and five-and-thirty pounds a year?’

‘But the duties —— the work ——’

‘Why —— that is the work, to eat and drink, and make merry.’

‘Mr. Hilyard to eat and drink, and make merry?’ cried madam. ‘Make merry? He?’

‘Why,’ said Tom, ‘that is what we are asking him to do. He will be strange to it at first, I fear. But I warrant you, give him but a month, and you shall see a change indeed. He will then be able to sing like Mr. Tofts, act like Will Pinkiman, drink like —— like any man among us, play the fiddle, and ——’

‘Is it possible, Mr. Hilyard?’ asked my father. ‘Ho! ho! I believe no more in grave faces. This is indeed a hiding of lights beneath a bushel.’ For the tutor hung his head and looked foolish.

‘If you want any other occupation,’ Tom continued, ‘there are accounts to keep, tenants to reprove, grooms and feeders to overlook, my sister to amuse, and, in fact, all the things you have done for the last five years.’

‘Your honour means this seriously?’ asked Mr. Hilyard.

‘Certainly I do.’

‘Then, sir’—— his face lightened, and he looked round him with a cheerful smile ——‘I accept your generous offer gratefully. I confess that the position and work of a tutor have ever been distasteful to me, and I have only hidden those small accomplishments of mine, which now you have discovered, because I feared they would be considered inconsistent with an almost sacred calling.’

‘Why, then, there is no more to say,’ cried Tom, ‘except to shake hands upon it.’

‘Yet there is one condition, if I may venture ——’

‘Venture, man.’

‘I pray that I be not expected to go fox-hunting. I love not, in truth, to risk my neck for a thing I never see, and which if I were to get I should not want.’

‘That is granted,’ said Tom, laughing, because some of Mr. Hilyard’s adventures on horseback had been ludicrous to the beholders, but painful to himself.

‘There is also one other thing,’ Mr. Hilyard continued, with a look, sideways, at myself, of which I afterwards thought with a kind of pity. ‘A faithful steward wants the whole day for the management of your honour’s business and the occasions and services of Miss Dorothy. I would, with submission, ask that I be only invited to lay aside those duties in the evening, when I shall be always pleased to place my poor talents, such as they are, at the service of your honour and your friends.’

‘My hand on’t,’ said Tom heartily, ‘and so, honest Tony’—— he called him Tony on that day and ever afterwards. Yet hitherto he had never spoken to him except bareheaded as to a parent or superior, and called him always ‘Sir.’ So quickly does a young man change when he comes to his twenty-first year. ‘So, honest Tony, thou prince of brave topers, stay with me. Read your books with missy all the day, but, by gad, all night you shall sing and drink your fill with the best company in the county!’

‘Are we dreaming?’ cried madam.

Chapter vi.

The Chief Creditor.

It was in this way that our tutor remained with us. My brother never did a wiser thing, nor made a better bargain; for if Mr. Hilyard was serviceable before, he was ten times as serviceable now, by his care and watchfulness saving expense here and preventing waste there. He took, in a word, the conduct of all Tom’s affairs, showing himself as capable and competent in administration as he had been a faithful tutor.

For my own part (not to speak, more than can be helped, of the way in which his evenings were too often employed), I found him a much more delightful companion now that he had no occasion for the austerity of a tutor. Yet he preserved his gravity during the working hours of the day.

‘I may at some time of my life,’ he said, ‘take upon me the vows of Holy Orders, for which I have ever had an ardent desire. One would almost as soon preach in a London church as deliver verses on the boards of Drury Lane, except for the applause, which, in the Early Church, was not wanting. Wherefore I still cultivate the habit of a decorous carriage. Yet I confess to you, Miss Dorothy, that there have been moments, before Mr. Forster came of age, when I have had a vehement yearning upon me to put on, as I may say, the old Adam. That temptation has now disappeared.’

Probably, as he put on the natural Adam nearly every evening, the cause of the temptation was removed. ’Twas as if a gambler should cease to feel the desire for gambling in the morning after he had begun to gamble every night. Mr. Hilyard became, in fact, much more pleasant. He would play tender and moving airs upon the fiddle, and, though he reserved his powers of imitation and drollery for the gentlemen (ladies being too often unable to see anything to laugh at in what pleases men after supper), he would sometimes sing very sweetly such songs as ‘Love finds out the way,’ or ‘Jockey’s Lamentation.’ And often when we were alone, my brother being away with friends, he would beguile an evening with a scene from Shakespeare, which he would act and read with surprising force.

I need not speak of his powers wholly with admiration, because their exercise had led him, as will presently be seen, to disgrace and almost to ruin. It was, when one thinks of it, a truly dreadful thing for a man who was a scholar and student of theology, of great learning, noble parts, and true eloquence, to be carried away by a love of buffoonery and the desire to display a monkey-like power of imitation. A pretty reward, indeed, of his labours as tutor, to be made the Merry Andrew, Clown, and Tom Fool of the whole company whenever Tom gathered his friends together. Ought they not rather to be ashamed of seeing so learned a man thus lower himself? Yet they showed no signs of compunction or shame, but at each new monkey-trick they cheered the louder and laughed the longer. Happily, women are removed from this temptation (though we have plenty left). We do not desire to be continually laughing, and we cannot understand what there is in most things to laugh at, nor why, because men get together, they must be for ever singing, laughing, and making merry. Everybody will understand, however, that this strange thing was speedily bruited abroad, and that the possession of this entertaining Oxford scholar brought gentlemen to our house. My brother, easy and hospitable, loved to entertain his friends, and they, not to be behindhand, constantly returned the compliment, especially in the hunting season, so that there was seldom a week without a feast and a carouse.

My time, from the year 1707 to the year 1710, was spent chiefly with Tom at the Manor House. In the latter year Lord Derwentwater came home, which made a great change, as you will presently hear, for all of us. In the morning it was my duty, even when quite young, to order the household, so that I became, in course of time, a notable woman, skilled in the preparation of conserves, jellies, pies, cakes, biscuits, puddings, stuffings, strong waters, perfumes, and home-made wines; good at embroidery, and able to play the spinet with some freedom and delicacy; also, I could make and mend, cut out, fashion, sew, and trim with any woman: in such pursuits my forenoon was entirely occupied, as well as that of my still-room maid, who was no other than that Jenny Lee, the Midsummer Witch, when we all had our fortunes told —— I am bound to say that, whatever her subsequent conduct, she was the most faithful, dexterous, and zealous maid to me, and I never had the least fault to find with her. My old nurse, Judith (who had been Tom’s nurse as well, and loved not madam), sat all day long in her armchair, reposing after a life spent in faithful service. One morning she slept so long beside the fire that I tried to awaken her for dinner; but could not, for she had slept through her passage from this world to the next.

In the afternoon, dinner over, Mr. Hilyard would sometimes read aloud out of a book, or we would read French together, or he would discourse upon matters of high import; or he would walk with me in the castle, or upon the sands, or across the fields, finding always something of instrction. Let me never forget how much I am indebted to this good and patient man (good and patient all the day, that is; though in those days somewhat deboshed with drink at night). It is through him that I learned something of history, geography, knowledge of the world we live in, and the stars beyond; yea, even my humble gratitude to the Divine Designer and Architect of the Universe, was first inspired by this modest scholar, in pointing out the wonders of the earth and the motions of the heavenly bodies.

Very shortly after Tom came of age he received a letter from Lady Crewe, his coheir, which might have very seriously alarmed a man of a less sanguine and hopeful character. What Tom believed he held as matter of faith, out of which no one could shake him. Now he held, as clearly as the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church (but with much less reason), that the great estates he inherited were as inexhaustible as the mines of Potosi. There had been, it is true, and he knew it, three successive holders of the property, who all spent, every year, more than their yearly income. Further, he knew that Lord Crewe had bought in a rent-charge of £500 a year. And this letter ought to have made him consider his position very carefully; but it did not.

‘My dear Nephew and Coheir,’ her ladyship wrote ——‘It is with infinite pain that I hereby inform you that the creditors of my late brothers have taken such steps as will result in our estate being thrown into Chancery, the effect of which cannot but be disastrous to us both, though, in the long-run, we shall perhaps recover. As regards present expenses, we shall have to appoint some trustworthy servant as steward of the property till such time as the lawyers have done with it and the creditors are satisfied. And you may rest assured of my care that your income shall be sufficient for you to live at the Manor House, though not in the state which my brothers were able to maintain. You will have fewer horses and servants; you will not be able, at present, to bear the charges of a seat in Parliament; but you will continue (I will take care therefor) to live on your estates, and in your own house. And, should I remain unhappily a childless wife, you will, on my death, succeed to my moiety. Therefore, my dear nephew, bid little Dorothy take care that there be no waste in the kitchen; buy no more horses; make no bets; run no matches; keep my late brother’s cellar for days of company; provide your table chiefly by your gun; make no debts; and hope continually that the years of lean kine will be but few, and will soon pass away.

‘Your loving Aunt,

‘Dorothy Crewe.’

Tom read this letter slowly.

‘“Fewer horses!”’ he said. ‘Why, I have but half a dozen or so as it is. “Fewer servants!” Then who is to keep the poor varlets if I send them adrift? “Make no bets!” Why, my lady, there you must please to excuse me, for a gentleman must make bets. “Run no matches!” Well, not many. What does she mean by “lean kine”?’

‘Her ladyship refers to the dream of Pharaoh,’ said Mr. Hilyard.

‘Then I wish her ladyship would talk plain English. After all, it will be but a year or two, and then —— Tony, what the devil are you looking so glum about?’

‘Chancery,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘means more than a year or two. Lawyers are like that famous vampire-bat, said to exist in Hungary, which seizes on a creature, and never lets go while there is blood left.’

It is wonderful to relate that Tom never took the least trouble to find out what the liabilities were, or how long it would take to pay them off. Meanwhile, there was no change in his manner of living, save that he bought no more horses, hired no new servants, and restrained himself from those things which require a great outlay of money. I know not how the money was found for the daily charges, but I suppose that Lady Crewe could tell, for the estates were really thrown into Chancery, where they remained for six years. Mr. Hilyard, I believe, but am not certain, was appointed steward. Also I know now that, one after the other, the creditors were mostly bought up by Lord Crewe.

With wings thus clipped, supposed to be the owner of a great estate, of which he could enjoy nothing, Tom could not take the same position in the county as had been enjoyed by his predecessors. Yet there was always the generous hospitality of the north, and the great cellar of wine left by Mr. Ferdinando held out even against Tom’s friends, who were mostly young, and all of them gifted with a great appetite and thirst; and as long familiarity with danger makes one cease to believe in it(as a sailor puts forth to meet the perils of the seas without a thought upon them), so Tom went on, taking no heed for the morrow, as if the broad lands of Bamborough were really his own, as they had been Sir William’s. Yet, as I grew older, and could understand things better, I learned from Mr. Hilyard that his own expectancy for the future was gloomy indeed, for all of us —— for Tom, who might lose the greater part of his estate; for myself, who would lose, so to speak, whatever he lost; and for himself, because he would lose employment to his mind, and a patron who was generous in his way, though sometimes quick with his tongue, and so might be turned again upon the world to seek his fortune at five or six and thirty years of age, when a man ought to be settled in the way of life by which he earns his bread.

‘I doubt,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘whether, when all is done, there will remain for the coheirs enough to give a bare living to his honour. All will go to Lord Crewe, who, I hear, is buying up the remaining creditors. We know not what may be the intentions of his lordship, but he is growing old, and may die; or he may intend —— but, indeed, we know not what he may intend, except that it is poor work for a Forster of Bamborough to look to any man for patronage and support.’

Poor work, truly! even though that man was so near a connection as my lord!

Tom, then, took no thought for the future, believing that the estates would shortly be cleared of all encumbrances, and his inheritance become all his own. Nay, when letters came from the lawyers, written in the language or jargon employed by the members of that profession with intent to darken the judgment and confuse the mind of a plain person, my brother tossed them over to Mr. Hilyard, bidding him read them if he pleased, but not to vex him by rehearsing their purport, and so, with a whistle to his dogs, off to the sport which chiefly occupied his mind. Nor would he hear afterwards what the letters conveyed to him, though Mr. Hilyard shook his head and groaned, telling me privately that our affairs were going from bad to worse. Like master, like man; he, too, when the bottle went round, shook off dull care, and assumed that fool’s cap which belongs to all who willingly dwell in a fool’s paradise.

There came the time, however, when the storm, which had been gathering so long, burst upon us in great fury, finding one at least, and that the man most concerned, wholly unprepared.

It was one day in the early autumn of the year 1709, and in the afternoon. My brother was sitting at the open window, with a packet of flies in his hands (they were made for him by Mr. Hilyard), but half-asleep and nodding, as sometimes happened to him after his dinner and noonday potations of strong ale. He was then twenty-seven years of age. Six years had passed since he came into his own, which was now, alas! to be taken from him, though he had never really enjoyed more than the shadow and reputation of it. Yet they were six years of fatness, with plenty of feasting, drinking, hunting, shooting, and fishing, so that one may easily understand that Tom looked no longer the gallant and handsome lad who received the congratulations of his friends when he reached his twenty-first year. His cheeks were fuller, and he had already something of a double chin. Yet a comely man still.

I have always thought it a great happiness that Tom was in no hurry to be married. In this respect he resembled many others of his family. His uncles John and Ferdinando, for instance, never married at all, nor hath his brother Jack as yet taken a wife, though he is now (at the time I write) far advanced towards forty. Had Tom become a father of children, this and later troubles might have been more than one could bear.

Then there rode up to the door the post-boy, mounted on his little pony, and blowing his horn, at the noise of which Tom started and woke up; Mr. Hilyard, who held in his hand a book in Latin, laid it down and went out, and I put aside my sewing and waited for the news. We were less astonished than most at the arrival of a letter, because we were sometimes privileged to read Lady Swinburne’s latest London news. Now it may seem incredible, but it is nevertheless true, and I have experienced the same thing on the occasion of other misfortunes as great, that I felt quite certain beforehand, and while waiting for the letter, that it brought bad news.

‘Read it, Tony,’ said Tom, giving it back. ‘It is from her ladyship. Perhaps it is to say that all is now paid off, and the estate is clear.’

Mr. Hilyard opened the letter, which was a long one, with great care,drew a chair to the window, and there read it.

This most astonishing epistle fell upon us all like a thunderbolt in our midst, as one of the Allies’ shells at Oudenarde. Consider; for so many years there had been always before our eyes the prospect of a time when the estates should be free —— in a year or two, perhaps, more or less; what mattered? Sooner or later Tom would have his unencumbered moiety, and, as was reasonable to suppose, at my lady’s death the whole.

It was a truly dreadful letter. It informed us, in fact, that there was nothing left. Law and the creditors had swallowed all. A thing impossible to believe, and yet most true. There was nothing left. My aunt, in telling us this dreadful thing, talked obscurely about our remaining at the Manor House, with hints about affairs of importance not to be undertaken without communication with her. I was, for my own part, so bewildered, that I understood but half of what she said.

Now, when Mr. Hilyard read, Tom, who began by paying little heed first, sprang to his feet, and then turned white and then red, crying:

‘Read that again! Read that again!’ And when the letter ended with an exhortation to resignation, Tom sank into his chair, crying, ‘For Lord’s sake, Tony, tell me without her ladyship’s rigmarole —— Death and Furies! what have I to do with resignation? —— what it means.’

‘It means, sir,’ Mr. Hilyard replied, ‘briefly this: The Bamborough estates have been all, by order of the Lord Chancellor, sold for the benefit of the creditors. Lord Crewe hath bought the whole for the sum of £20,000, and the amount due to her ladyship and yourself, the lawyers and creditors having been paid, and the rent-charges provided for, is not more than £1,020, of which you, who take the moiety, will receive £510 exactly.’

Then there was silence, during which we looked anxiously at Tom, whose face was swollen, and so red that I feared he would have a fit of some kind.

‘So all is gone,’ he said, at length. ‘A goodly inheritance, indeed! Five hundred pounds!’

‘Your honour forgets,’ replied Mr. Hilyard, ‘that you are still the heir of Etherston. As to the land of the Bamborough Forsters, that seems to have taken unto itself wings. If one cannot trust in land, in what shall man place his trust?’

‘I am the heir of Etherston —— that is true. But my father’s estate can do little more than keep himself and his family. Shall I have to go back to him and live upon his bounty?’ To this, being greatly moved and beyond himself, he added many strong words and oaths, which may be passed over.

‘Not so, sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘With submission, if you go back, Miss Dorothy will go with you; and I must needs go back into the world, naked as I came into it at my birth. Therefore, I trust this will not happen. As for this house and all these lands, they are indeed the property of the Lord Bishop; but there seems a way —— nay, her ladyship herself indicates a way. You will remain here —— as her nephew.’

‘A fine way, truly! I am to be a beggar —— a pensioner —— a dependent upon my aunt.’

‘Nay; the eldest son of Mr. Thomas, and the grandson of Sir William Forster, must not be called by anyone a beggar, or a pauper, or a dependent, even though his aunt, who is wealthy, provide the expenses of his establishment. Her ladyship clearly signifies her desire that you should continue as if this purchase had not been made, and that you should live in the same style as at present, which is not, I am aware, the style befitting Mr. Ferdinando’s successor, or equal to the splendour of his state; but yet it is the style and manner of a gentleman, and equal to that of your honour’s father; and she further clearly specifies her intention, if I read her aright, that out of the revenues of the estates such a sum shall be reserved for your use as may be found necessary.’

‘Yes —— but on conditions.’

‘With submission, sir, again: on reasonable conditions. She desires only that no important step be taken by you without her consent. That is to say, and, by way of illustration, when you desire to marry, you would signify your intention to her ladyship. That is what you would naturally do towards your lamented mother’s sister.’

‘Tilly vally, Tony, that is not what her ladyship means. You know very well what she does mean.’

‘Then, sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, apparently without attention to this interruption, ‘there is also the danger which threatens the whole country, and especially the north. Her ladyship, knowing your honour’s courage, loyalty, and daring, is right in fearing that you might be led into some rash enterprise, like the late Sir John Fenwick, in which you might lose not only your head but also your estates. This danger, sir, I for one, if I may venture to say so, have felt especially of late to be very great. Consider, that you are acknowledged by all to be by birth and position, as well as by abilities, foremost among the Protestant gentlemen of the north.’

‘That may be so, Tony,’ said Tom, softening. ‘I do not say that thou art wrong.’

‘A natural leader of the Cause, and of great daring.’

‘It is true,’ said Tom, wagging his head.

‘Round whom the people will rally.’

‘If not,’ said Tom, sitting down, ‘I should like to know round whom they will rally.’

‘Next,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘it is very well known that there hath been of late a great increase of agitation in the counties and in the towns. Private advices reach us from London of the clubs, of the enthusiasm for Dr. Sacheverell, and the loyalty even of the mob. Her ladyship desires, naturally, that when you take that step, which will go far to decide the victory of the Cause she hath at heart ——’

‘It will,’ cried Tom. ‘It must.’

‘She shall know beforehand, if only —— but this I guess —— in order that you may be enabled to make a fitting appearance in the field. A Forster may not be as magnificent as the Duke of Ormond, but he must be suitably equipped and followed.’

‘Why,’ said Tom, ‘if that is all her ladyship means ——’

‘What more, sir, may I ask, can she mean? As your honour’s aunt, she is anxious for your safety; as a woman, she reveres the head of her branch; also, as a woman, saving Miss Dorothy’s presence, having the power of the purse, she desires to keep it. As for what she intends, that is to me very certain. She hath been married more than ten years, and hath no children; she is already over forty; her husband is past seventy-five years of age, and will leave to his widow all he can, if he does not leave her all he has; her ladyship’s devotion to her own family is well known. To whom should she bequeath her wealth, save to your honour?’

‘True,’ said Tom, ‘it is natural. My lord is very rich.’

‘You will therefore become,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘before many years, the richest gentleman in the north.’

‘I shall then rebuild the castle, and live within its walls,’ said Tom.

‘You will certainly be able to do this, and to revive the old state of your ancestors, Sir John and Sir Claudius.’

‘I shall also restore the ancient Tower of Blanchland, and make a noble residence of it.’

‘Sir, the idea is worthy of the great position you will then hold.’

‘As for you, Tony, I have made up my mind. You shall take Holy Orders and become my chaplain, with two hundred pounds a year.’

‘Your honour is indeed generous.’

‘I shall also go into the House. By that time the Prince will have his throne. He will reward those who have been faithful to him.’

‘An earldom at least,’ said Mr. Hilyard.

‘At least,’ said Tom, kindling. ‘The Earl of Blanchland, ch? It would be as fine as the Earl of Derwentwater.’

‘Even at present,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘your honour may marry in any family you choose, being of so old and honourable a house. But then —— with Lord Crewe’s inheritance and the Sovereign’s favour —— of course you will be sworn of the Privy Council ——’

‘Of course,’ answered Tom proudly.

‘Earl of Blanchland, of His Majesty’s Privy Council; Knight of the Garter —— I think, my lord —— I mean, your honour —— we may say Knight of the Garter ——’

‘You may,’ said Tom, laying his fingers round his leg; ‘you may, sir.’

‘Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Northumberland; Hereditary Grand Warden of the March (an honour only to be asked for); Governor of the Castle of Bamborough; Lord of the Manor of Etherston ——’

‘I give that,’ said Tom, ‘to my brother Jack. It is not worth keeping.’

‘With all these distinctions, is there an heiress or a lady in all England but would rejoice at such an alliance?’

‘Gad!’ said Tom, ‘you put things as they should be put. Tony, your salary as my chaplain shall be four hundred, not two. You shall be a king among chaplains! But when you have the cassock and the bands, you will not cease from drinking and singing, will you?’

‘Sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘I shall be like unto Friar John des Entommeurs. In the gown I shall only drink the deeper.’

With such persuasion and artful show of hope did Mr. Hilyard soothe the disappointment of this dreadful blow, so that poor Tom, although without a penny (save his five hundred pounds), and dependent wholly upon the bounty of my aunt, felt himself in imagination exalted to the highest rank, and possessing all those distinctions which are most coveted.

‘Write to her ladyship, my good friend,’ he said, with the majesty of an Earl in his manner; ‘tell her in suitable terms that I agree to her proposals. Bring me the draft of the letter, and I will write it in my own hand, after I have corrected it. You can tell Jack, Dorothy, that I shall give him Etherston when the time comes.’

Alas! Jack has got Etherston, and has held it now for fourteen years. But what did poor Tom get?

Then —— the kind brother —— he thought upon his sister.

‘What shall I give thee, Dorothy?’ he asked. ‘Truly, if it depended upon me, thou shouldst have the finest husband in the world, and the richest dower.’

So he kissed me on the forehead, and left us.

‘Man,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘is ever allured by the things which are of least use to him. Who would be Earl and Knight of the Garter, and bear the weight and fardel of greatness? Who would not rather be a plain country gentleman, with an estate in land, a troop of friends, and a goodly cellar? His honour hath lost his whole substance. He hath remaining not one acre of land nor one shilling of revenue; yet is he happy, because he will now have continually before his eyes the inheritance of Lord Crewe.’

‘But you think ——’

‘Nay, I am sure. I have deceived him in nought, except in this. Her ladyship is, it is true, forty years of age, but she may very well live as long as her nephew. But to tell him this in his present mood would be the same as to kick over the basket of eggs out of which this mighty fortune was to be made. I have also hidden another thing, which I confess with shame. I am informed that Lord Derwentwater will certainly return early in the year. He is young and ardent; he will gather round him, no doubt, all the hot-brains and hair-brains of the county. Lady Crewe knows this, because she knows all. Who can tell what may happen? Is she not right to ensure that her nephew, if he risk his neck, shall risk nothing else?’

Chapter vii.

Room for My Lord.

It was in the year of grace seventen hundred and ten that Lord Derwentwater, who had been living abroad from childhood, returned to his native country. He was then in his twenty-first year, having been born on the 28th of June, 1689, being a year younger than the Prince, his cousin, whose education he shared, and whose playfellow he was. To one of those who welcomed him back —— a woman —— it will always seem as if her life had something of meanness in it before he came. Until then, she knew not what was meant by the manners and airs which are learned only at such Courts as those of Versailles and St. James’s; nor did she know before how splendid a being is a man who, besides being master of all the manly accomplishments, as most of the Northumberland gentlemen are, also possesses the language of gallantry, the manners of a courtier, and the youth and beauty of Apollo. I can but own —— why should I be ashamed to own it? —— that the admiration which I felt for my lord at the very first appearance and beholding of him, only increased the oftener I saw him and the more I conversed with him. Sure I am that Heaven hath nowhere bestowed upon this generation so goodly and virtuous a nobleman. Yet was he granted to us to gladden our hearts and set us an example of benevolence, courtesy, majesty, and good breeding for five short years. Thus are the greatest blessings granted to mankind (if I may be permitted so to speak of the Heavenly Scheme) with sparing and jealous hands.

It was by way of the Low Countries that the Earl returned to England, because the Long War, although it was drawing to a close, was still raging. Indeed, it was but a short while since the famous battle of Malplaquet, where the vanquished suffered not half so much loss as the victors, and our valiant Prince charged twelve times with the French regiment of Household Troops. Lord Derwentwater was accompanied only by his two brothers, Francis and Charles, the latter of whom was but a lad of sixteen, and his gentleman, Mr. Welby (afterwards hanged at Liverpool). He was met in London by his uncle, Colonel Thomas Radcliffe, and his cousin, Mr. Fenwick of Bywell (a near relation of the unhappy man who slew Mr. Ferdinando). As for the Colonel, who lived for the most part at Radcliffe House, in Newcastle, he was a most worthy and honourable gentleman, but subject to a strange infirmity. For he imagined that he was being constantly pursued by an enemy armed with a sword, so that when he walked abroad he constantly looked behind him, and when he sat at table he would suddenly spring to his feet and lay hand upon his sword; and at night he would leap from his bed, try the locks and bars of his door, and throw open the window. For this reason he went to Newcastle by water, a method of travelling which gave him the greatest content, because on board ship he fancied himself safe, except from pirates. It was resolved that, though no secret should be made as to the Earl’s arrival, there should be no stay in London, to avoid the danger of his being drawn into some rash design or engagement. For it was his friends’ anxious desire that while it should be very well understood that he was the faithful and loyal supporter of the Prince, he was to have no hand in any plots, and was not to move until success was assured.

They were joined in London also by Mr. Henry Howard, a Catholic priest, and cousin to the Duke of Norfolk (would that all priests were like unto this venerable and godly man!). And though they rode straight north, they made not so much haste but that news of their arrival reached the north before they got as far as York; and it was resolved by many of the gentlemen, especially his cousins, to give him welcome at Dilston Hall. As for us, we were doubly his cousins, both by our ancestor, Sir John, who married Jane Radcliffe, widow of Lord Ogle, and his son Nicolas, who married another Jane Radcliffe, heiress of Blanchland.

‘Who should go to welcome him if not I, his cousin and near neighbour?’ said Tom. (He was now become quite easy in his mind as regards his own circumstances, and secure of the brilliant succession with which Mr. Hilyard had inflamed his mind.) ‘And, if I go, why not you as well, Dorothy?’

You may judge of the joy with which I heard these words. But it was a great undertaking, and needed much consideration, which we entrusted to Mr. Hilyard. He finally resolved for us that we should go, and that we should seize the occasion to spend the whole year at Blanchland, where we might, at least, live retired, and at small charge, the place being eight or nine miles from any neighbours, and in the middle of a wild moor. I think —— nay, I am quite sure —— that Mr. Hilyard’s desire that Tom should spend no money was greater than his wish to greet the Earl, for, though he complained not, it fell to his lot to ask her ladyship for supplies, and to receive the rebukes for prodigality with which she sometimes answered his letters.

My heart was light at the prospect of so great a journey and the sight of strange places, to say nothing of giving a welcome to the young lord. I cared nothing for the cold wind of February, and the driving sleet and snow in which we began our journey. To me, though the snow lay in piles about the brambles and the bushes, and the wind blew from the north-east, and one’s fingers froze, and one’s feet in the saddle lost all feeling, the journey was delightful. We were a great party, having with us a whole troop of pack-horses laden with guns, fishing-tackle, clothes, and so forth. There were also Tom’s dogs and hounds, his second riding-horse, his grooms, his own man (who shaved him, dressed his wig, and kept his clothes), Mr. Hilyard, and my maid, Jenny Lee. So that we were like a small army, and made, in fact, almost as little progress as an army in motion. The first night we lay at our own house (but it was now Lord Crewe’s) at Alnwick; the second we lay at Rothbury, a pleasant town on the Coquet; on the third at Capheaton Castle, where we were hospitably entertained, though Sir William had already gone two days before to Dilston with her ladyship. On the fourth we rode into Hexham.

In this ancient town, which I now saw for the first time, we found gathered together a goodly company of gentlemen, assembled for the purpose of giving the Earl a hearty welcome home. The street was full of them and of their servants. They stood about the doors of the inns; they drank and sang in little companies. A group of the better sort were gathered in the open square between the church and the old town, where they talked and welcomed new-comers. Lord Widdrington, with his brothers, was reported to be at Beaufront with Mr. Errington; Sir William and Lady Swinburne, with half-a-dozen of the Swinburne brothers, the Ladies Katharine and Mary Radcliffe, and many other cousins, were at Dilston Hall. In Hexham there were Shaftoes, Claverings, Chorleys, Gibsons, and many more. Mad Jack Hall was among them, shouting and vapouring. High over the heads of the crowd towered the great form of Frank Stokoe, six inches taller than any other man in Northumberland. He was not only the tallest, but also the strongest, man in the county. He could crush pewter pots in his hand; he could pull against two horses, lift a couple of hundredweight with his little finger, stop a cart against a runaway horse, bend iron bars across his arm, and break pence with his fingers. Once he lifted a constable asleep, box and all, and dropped him over the wall into a burying-place. He lived at Chesterwood, near Haydon Bridge, and not far from Lord Derwentwater’s Castle of Langley, which lies in ruins these three hundred years, and is like, Heaven knows, to continue in that same evil plight for as many more. Also there were present certain gentlemen —— birds of ill omen, Mr. Hilyard called them, always imploring his patron to keep aloof from them, hold no communication with them, and not suffer himself to be enticed into correspondence with them. These are the men who ensnare honest and loyal gentlemen by making them combine, without their knowledge, in conspiracies and plots destined only to failure. Each premature plot, when detected and put down, costs the lives of some of these mischievous men; but the devil speedily raises up others to do his work, lest the wickedness of the world should go less.

Now, as we rode into the crowd, some of the gentlemen shook hands with Tom; and others greeted me with such compliments as they knew how to make (they were kindly meant; but I was soon to learn the true language of gallantry); and others shouted a welcome to lusty Tony (it is a shame that so great a scholar should consent to such a name), whose appearance and shining countenance promised an evening of merriment. Presently, looking about among the throng, I became aware of a person whom I had never before seen, in cassock and bands, and the most enormous great wig I had ever seen, reminding one of the lines:

‘His wig was so bushy, so long, and so fair, The best part of man was quite covered with hair; That he looked, as a body may modestly speak it, Like a calf with bald face peeping out of a thicket.’ His eyes were close together, which, I suppose, was the cause of his looking shifty and sly —— pigs have such eyes; his nose, like his cheeks, was fat; and his lips were thick and full. Unless his face belied him, he was one of those who loved the sacred profession for the life of ease and the fat eating which may be procured by the fortunate and the swinish. Miserable man! Yet still he lives and still he preaches, his conscience being seared with a hot iron. Thank Heaven! he is not an enemy of myself, but of my brother; therefore, I am not called upon to forgive him. Indeed, it is only a Christian’s duty to regard such as him with abhorrence, as one abhors the devil and all his works.

He was going about with an appearance of great bustle and business, as if everything depended upon himself, whispering to one man, holding another earnestly by the button, taking a pinch of snuff from another with an air of haste. Presently he advanced to us, bowing at every step.

‘Sir,’ he said to Tom, ‘I venture to present myself to your honour. I am the Vicar of Allenhead, your worship’s nearest neighbour when you honour Blanchland with a visit; and I venture to call myself one of the right party. Sir, I rejoice to find that you are here with so many noble gentlemen to welcome my Lord of Derwentwater. As for me, my motto is, and still will be, “The right of the first-born is his;” and, if it need more words, “Take away the wicked from before the king.” My name, sir, at your service, is Robert Patten, Artium Magister, and formerly of Lincoln College, Oxford, and —— O Lord! ——’

For he started back as one who has trodden upon an adder at least, and with a face suddenly pale with fright or astonishment, I know not which. Then I perceived that the cause of his alarm was none other than the sight of Mr. Hilyard. He, for his part, was looking down upon his reverence from his horse with a face as full of disdain and indignation as you can expect from a countenance naturally inclined for charity with all men. Mr. Hilyard could change his face at will when he wished to personate the sterner emotions in acting and make-believe, but, which is a truly wonderful thing, when he was in earnest, and actually felt those passions of scorn or wrath, his face failed to convey them.

‘If,’ he said presently, ‘the Prince’s cause hath pleased Bob Patten, we have got a brave recruit indeed, and are finely sped.’

At which the other plucked up courage, and, setting his band straight, replied:

‘I know not, Mr. Hilyard, what may be your present business in the north. I pray it be honest. Nay, sir,’ shrinking and putting up his hand, for Mr. Hilyard made as if he would strike at him with his whip —— ‘nay, sir, remember the cloth! Besides, I meant no harm. Respect the cloth, I pray you, sir! Indeed, I am sure from your company that it must be honest at least, and I hope respectable. Wherefore, all that passed in Oxford may be forgiven.’

‘Forgiven!’ cried Mr. Hilyard, in a great heat, ‘how dare you talk of forgiving? As for all that passed at Oxford, proclaim it aloud an you will; I have no call to be ashamed of it. But if you speak of forgiving, by the Lord I shall forget your sacred profession, and remember only what you were!’

‘Gentlemen,’ said Tom, speaking with authority, ‘let us have no quarrels to-day. Command me, Mr. Patten, if I can serve you in any way. Meanwhile, there will be a bowl of punch towards nine, if your cloth permits.’

‘Oh, sir!’ replied Mr. Patten, bowing, and spreading his hands. Ah! crocodile! as if thy cloth was ever guard against punch, or any other temptation!

Now that evening was spent in festivity, with singing and drinking, at which none of the gentlemen remained sober except Mr. Hilyard, who helped to carry his patron to bed, and did him the kindly office of loosening his cravat, adjusting his pillows, and pulling off his shoes. I know not if the gentlemen of the north be more prone to drink than those of the south, perhaps not; in either case there was the excuse for these hearty topers that on the next day they were to welcome home the noblest man of them all. And as for Mr. Patten, he slept where he fell. As for me, I went to bed betimes, but not to sleep, for the streets were full of men who went up and down —— they were the servants and grooms, and were as loyal and as tipsy as their masters. And when I fell asleep at last, it was to unquiet dreams, in which I was haunted by hoarse voices singing loyal songs.

The morning of the day when I was first to see Lord Derwentwater broke cold and rainy. But as the day advanced the clouds blew over, and we had that rare thing in February, a bright, cloudless, and sunny day. What mattered a cold and a sharp wind? Northumberland, the brave old county, would show at her best, despite the winter season. Often I think that winter hath charms of its own, especially in the woods, though the poets have resolved on singing the praise of spring and summer. It is true that there are no flowers and few birds; yet when the dead leaves hang, that is, where the trees stand thick, there are all kinds of pleasant colours. One who had travelled much in America once assured Mr. Hilyard that in the autumn and early winter the forests are all ablaze with crimson, yellow and red leaves of the maple tree (from which also he pretends that they make sugar, but one may not believe all traveller’s tales). There are places in Northumberland, and especially in the hanging woods beside the Tyne, where this beauty of winter leaves may also be observed. Methinks it is also a beautiful thing to watch the snow upon the branches, each one seeming like a stick of ice, and all together showing like the finest lace of Valenciennes. The contemplation of things beautiful fills the heart with joy, and raises the mind to heaven; but we simple women are slow and imperfect of speech; it needs such a poet as Milton (whom most of all I love, now that youth and joy are past) to put into words the meaning of our thoughts. However, I was glad and thankful that such a day had been vouchsafed for my lord’s return, nothing doubting but that his heart, too, would be uplifted on seeing his own woods and towers lying in the light of such a sun and such a clear blue sky.

We observed no order or time in setting forth. Some of the younger gentlemen mounted after breakfast and rode off along the road to Newcastle, intending to meet my lord’s party early; others went off leisurely, proposing to halt at Dilston, two miles or so from Hexham. We, for our part, waited till after dinner, judging that the Earl would not arrive before three o’clock at earliest.

Mr. Patten, whom I disliked from the first, perhaps because Mr. Hilyard regarded him with so much aversion, rode with us. That is to say, he rode beside Mr. Hilyard and behind us, but as if he belonged to our party. This is the way with those who desire to increase their own importance; they pretend to friendship with one man in order to obtain the patronage of another. By riding with Mr. Forster, the man Patten gave himself an excuse for welcoming a nobleman with whom he had no manner of concern or business.

When we had ridden past the bridge at Dilston, where there was a great concourse of people waiting, we left Mr. Patten behind, but we were joined by old Mr. Errington, of Beaufront, a wise and prudent gentleman, whose counsels ought to have guided the party five years later, but he was overruled. We naturally talked of the young Earl.

‘I am very sure, Tom,’ said Mr. Errington, ‘that we have in my lord a pillar of strength. He will be to the loyal gentlemen of the north as much as the Duke of Argyll to the Whigs of Scotland. I have it on the best authority that, although brought up in France, he is an Englishman; though a Catholic, like myself, he is as zealous for liberty as you can be; an adherent of the Prince, yet one who desires not violence, but rather the return of the nation to common-sense and loyalty; one who will conciliate and bind all of us together, so that we shall become a solid party, and in the end triumph even in the House of Commons.’

This, in the year 1710, was the earnest prayer of all moderate men and those who had much to lose.

‘With submission, sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘I would ask what advices your honour hath received respecting the temper of London?’

‘Nothing, Mr. Hilyard, but what is good. The Queen is well disposed towards her brother; the Tories are confident; there is talk of a peace; the Whigs and Dissenters are terrified. But our time may not come yet’.

‘The will of London,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘is the will of the nation’.

‘And, if fight we must,’ Tom cried, ‘the Earl can raise a thousand men’.

‘We shall not fight,’ said Mr. Errington. ‘We will have a bloodless revolution, such a Restoration as that of King Charles II., when he rode from Dover to London through a lane of rejoicing face. I know not, Mr. Hilyard, that London is so powerful as you would have us believe. But already the country is with us, and the clergy, as in duty bound. And the most that either party can say of the towns is that they are divided’.

A bloodless Restoration! It was, as I said, the dream of the better sort. But the Catholics forgot the terror of the Smithfield fires, which the people will never forget, from generation to generation, so long as England remains a country. The martyrs have made it impossible for a Papist ever again to rule over us.

‘As for us,’ said Mr. Errington, ‘we know very well, and do not disguise from ourselves, that in the present temper of the people the Prince, when he returns, must choose his Ministers and advisers, not from ourselves, but from his Protestant supporters. Lord Derwentwater may remain his Sovereign’s private friend, but can never become a member of his Government. It is to you, Tom, and such as you, that the King must turn’.

‘It is what I am always telling Mr. Forster,’ said Mr. Hilyard.

Mr. Forster replied, with a blush of satisfaction and the gravity which the subject demanded, that he was very much of Mr. Errington’s opinion that, whether he himself should be found competent to become a Minister or not, a Protestant country must have a Protestant Ministry, and that, begging Mr. Errington’s pardon, when the priest walks in, the King and his people fall out.

So we rode along slowly, for the way is none of the best, in such discourse, until about three o’clock or so, and a mile or two beyond Dilston, we heard a great shouting; and pricking our horses, we presently came upon a party of those who had ridden on before. They were now drawn up in a double line, and beyond this, his hat in his hand, my lord himself rode in advance of his party to meet his friends. No prince or sovereign in Europe but would have been moved and gratified by so noble a reception as the young nobleman received from the gentlemen who had thus ridden forth to meet him.

The path at this place is but a beaten track over the turf and level ground south of the river, which is here broad and shallow, with islets and long tongues of sand; there was an old angler in midstream, with rod and fly, careless (or perhaps he was deaf) of what this great shouting might mean, which he seemed not to hear. The ground is flat and covered with a rough coarse grass; southward rise the gentle hills, clothed with the woods which everywhere, except on the moors and the Cheviots, enrich the landskip of Northumberland, and form its boast. It was on this field that we received my lord.

It is nearly five-and-twenty years ago. If Lord Derwentwater were living, he would now be a man of forty-six, still in the full force and vigour of his manhood. Would he still remember (but he must) that afternoon in February, when, with his hat off, and the setting sun full in his face, making it shine like the face of Moses upon the mountain, he rode through that lane of gentlemen? As for myself, I saw more than I expected in my dreams. He was always the Prince of a fairy story; such as was the Childy Wynd, who transformed the loathly Worm of Spindleston, so was he; or as King Arthur sitting under Dunstanburgh, ever young and glorious, so was he. But the Prince of my dreams was a plain country gentleman, and before me was a gentleman of a kind I had never imagined, more courtly, more handsome, more splendid. There are some men who are called handsome by reason of a certain uniformity of feature (such as may be carved with a chisel out of a piece of stone); there are many who for a single good feature, a straight nose, the pleasing curve of a mouth, an agreeable smile, a bright eye, may be very justly called pretty fellows. But all alike were agreed in calling Lord Derwentwater the handsomest of men. There are also some men, but very few, to whom has been given that remarkable gift of commanding admiration, of compelling affection, and establishing firm confidence at the very first aspect and appearance of them. Such was my lord. For my own part, I know of no other man of all those who have lived in this eighteenth century, whose face is so well remembered even twenty years and more after his death. Why, there is not a woman, over thirty, within twenty miles of Dilston or Hexham, who, at the mere mention of his name or recollection of his face, doth not instantly fetch a sigh and drop a tear in memory of the handsome lord.

For those who never had the fortune to see him in the flesh, it is necessary to state that his face was full, with features well proportioned; his nose long and finely cut; his eyes grey of colour, and large (the large eye, they say, betokens the generous heart); I have myself seen those eyes so full of love, pity, and tenderness, that it makes the memory of them fill my own with tears. His forehead was high and square —— Mr. Hilyard says that men with such foreheads, when they are born in humble circumstances, take to study, and become philosophers, theologians, and great scholars, instancing his own forehead as an example, which is broad indeed, but lacking the dignity which sat upon the brow of the young Earl. His chin was round and large —— a small chin, or a chin which falls back, says Mr. Hilyard, is a sign of weakness and irresolution; a deserter, coward, runaway, or informer should be painted with a retreating chin (Mr. Patten’s chin was such, which proves the statement). As for my lord’s lips, they were firm and well set, yet of the kind which betray passion and agitation of the mind, so that those who knew him well could at all times read in the movements of his lips the emotions of his soul. Every feature in the face, according to Mr. Hilyard, corresponds to some virtue or defect in the soul. Thus, if one have thick lips, thrust forward, like Mr. Patten, one may be expected to be like him, a self-seeker, chatterer, mischief-maker, and betrayer of honest folk. My lord’s complexion was fair, and, before his hair was shaved, his head had been adorned with clusters of brown curls.

In short, the countenance of Lord Derwentwater indicated a soul full of dignity, benevolence, and sweetness. So it looked to me the first time that ever I looked upon it; so it proved to be so long as I knew it; so it seemed to me the last time —— oh, most sad and sorrowful time! —— that I saw it. There never was any human face in which the great virtues of humanity and kindness were more brightly illustrated than in the face of this young gentleman.

Behind the Earl rode his two brothers, Francis and Charles. The former was of smaller stature than the elder brother, and held his head down as if in thought; but it was his habit to go thus looking upon the ground. When he lifted his eyes one saw that they were strangely sad, and on his face there rested always a cloud, for which there was no reason save that he was, like his uncle, of a melancholic temperament from his youth upwards; and his eyes had always a look in them as of one who expects misfortune. Witches say that to men with such a look in their eyes misfortune comes; it is said that the look of impending misfortune may be read in the eyes of all the Stuarts —— the Royal House which the Fates, or rather the Furies, have persecuted with strange malevolence. Can it be that the future of a man may be read in his eyes, as in the palm of his hand? I know not; but Jenny Lee, my maid, the little gipsy witch, dropped strange prophetic hints about these young men, for which I rebuked her, even before she read their hands. As for Charles, the youngest of the three, he was as yet but a lad of sixteen, well-grown and comely; wore his own brown hair, and was as handsome as his eldest brother, yet in a different way. Those who can read fate in the eyes may have read his sorrows there, but to the rest of us they were brave and merry eyes, belonging to a young man who neither looked for evil nor feared it, and certainly never anticipated it; a brave, impetuous creature, as full of fancies and whims as any girl, as hot-headed as a Highlander; no lover of books or reading, yet a lad who had a great deal of knowledge, and forgot nothing. As he read so little, one must needs conjecture that he picked up his knowledge as the birds pick up their crumbs, bit by bit from conversation. Thus, though no scholar, he began very soon to be curious about the Roman remains, ancient ruins, and the antiquities of the county, so that he must needs ride over to Chollerford with Mr. Hilyard to see the old bridge and the wall, and discourse with him on moat and tower, and the uses of the wall, as if he had been a great student.

The mud and dust of travel had stained their clothes, but still the three brothers were much more richly dressed than our plain gentlemen, who for the most part wore plain drab or plush coats, with silver buttons, their linen not always of the freshest, their ruffles generally torn, and their wigs undressed. But then there is not much money among these younger sons, so that these things go unregarded. Nevertheless, I saw more than one looking with envy on the gold-laced hats and the embroidered scarfs of the Earl and his brothers.

Well, there was, to be sure, a great shouting as my lord rode slowly through this lane, shaking hands with every man in turn. He knew the names and families, though not the faces, of all, and could give each a kindly speech, with his Christian name, as if he had been an old friend separated only by a month or two. Presently it came to our turn, and he bowed very low and kissed my hand, saying a pretty thing about the good omen of being welcomed by the beautiful Dorothy Forster, and that if she would extend her friendship to him he should indeed be happy.

‘I fear, my lord,’ I said, being confused with so much compliment, ‘that you take me for my aunt, Lady Crewe.’

‘Nay,’ he said, ‘I take you for no other than yourself; although I know, believe me, of that elder Dorothy, once the flame of my father.’

And then more compliments, which may be omitted, because they were framed in pure kindness, and intended to please a girl who certainly never had many pretty things said to her before, though she knew very well that many gentlemen, she thought to please her brother, called her the beautiful Dorothy.

My lord had been from infancy at the Court of St. Germain, where, although there were many English gentlemen and their sons, French was commonly talked. He had also had French servants and valets, and lived among a people talking nothing but their own language. It is not, therefore, wonderful that he not only talked French as well as English, but also spoke his own language with a slight foreign accent. This very soon wore off (changing into the Northumberland burr), together with a certain shyness which marked him during the early days when he knew nothing of his friends except by name, and found them, as he afterwards confessed to me, different, indeed, from his expectations; that is to say, less polished in their manners, and more loyal in their friendships. Could a gentleman have higher praise? And is not loyalty better than a fine manner, however well we are pleased with it?

‘And this,’ said my lord, ‘I dare swear, is my cousin, Tom Forster of Bamborough.’

‘No other, my lord,’ cried Tom heartily, ‘and right glad to see you home again’.

Presently all rode back together, the younger men still shouting, and the elders riding soberly behind the Earl, I having the honour of riding on his right hand, and Mr. Errington on his left, while Tom rode with Frank and Charles Radcliffe. It was wonderful to observe how my lord knew all of them, and their private affairs and estates, and their position in the county. Indeed, by his father’s orders —— his mother caring nothing about such matters —— he had been instructed most carefully in the history of Northumberland families. It was an amiable and even a prince-like quality in him, as it had been in his grandfather, Charles II., never to forget the faces of those whom he met. I suppose that, had he chosen to exercise the power, he might also, like his royal cousin, and by right of descent, have touched for the king’s evil. Certainly the disloyal usurper, the Duke of Monmouth, did so.

It was now nearly four o’clock, and the short February day was drawing to a close. But the people who had come so far were not tired of waiting, and we found them all upon the bridge ready to shout their honest greeting. An honest and hearty crowd. Among them were not only some of the Earl’s cousins —— there was never a Radcliffe without a cloud of cousins —— and Lord Widdrington, with his brothers and others of the company from Hexham, but also the tenants and farmers, and a great company of miners, rough and rude fellows, with bristly beards and shaggy coats, who had trudged across the moor from Allendale. They were gathered together on the bridge, with pipers and a drum. When the procession came in sight, you may fancy what a noise, with the music and the shouting, was raised, and what a waving and throwing up of hats, and how the younger men in their joy, after the manner of young men, did beat and belabour one another. The Earl stopped and looked about him. These hundreds were assembled to give him welcome home. It is such a sight as brings the tears into a young man’s eyes; it was the first time, perhaps, that he understood his own power; the visible proof of it dazzled and moved him —— remember this, I pray you. Now, had he been brought up among all these people, he would have been familiar with his greatness from the beginning, and so might have grown hardened in heart, as happens to many who come to their estates in boyhood. This was not his case; and he was ever full of compassion for those who were his tenants, his dependents, and his servants. When the end came he spared them; he would not lead them out to the destruction which he wrought for himself, and from a mistaken sense of honour, though with a heavy heart. I say, at the sight of these rude and hearty people the tears came into the young Earl’s eyes and fell down his cheeks. I, who was nearest to him, saw them, and treasured the memory of them in my heart.

These rude miners, these sturdy farmers, these rough fellows, with their strange speech unfamiliar to him, were his own people, not his serfs and slaves. They were bound to him by no cruel laws of service, as the wretched people of France; yet, at his bidding, they would rise to a man and follow him. The Radcliffes were at no time tyrants and oppressors of the poor. From father to son they were always a kindly race, who dealt generously with the people, and reaped their reward in the affection and the loyalty of their tenants and dependents. Perhaps Lord Derwentwater, as he gazed upon the sea of faces, remembered that he might some day bid them take pike and firelock and follow him. I, for one, am ashamed to say that this was in my thoughts; and so, I am sure, it was in the thoughts of others in the company, who looked on the Earl as nothing but the possible leader of so many hundred men, and the owner of vast wealth, which was to be at the service of the Cause.

Then we rode across the bridge, and so up the steep lane which leads to the great avenue of Dilston Hall, and, beyond the avenue, the bridge across the Devilstone, its water, then foaming white, rushing down the dark and narrow channel between rugged rocks covered with green moss and (but not in March) with climbing plants, and arched over with trees, such as larch, alder, birch, and rowan. Behind us tramped and ran the crowd, all shouting together, with such a tumult as had not been seen since last the Scottish marauders attacked the town of Hexham; and that was long enough ago, and clean forgotten.

At the doors of the castle the Earl’s nearest relations stood ready to receive him. The first to greet him were his aunts, the Ladies Katharine and Mary Radcliffe, the sisters of the late Earl. They were not yet old, as Northumberland counts age, but certainly stricken in years, and perhaps neither of them under fifty. Both were dressed alike, and wore simple black silk frocks, with plain satin petticoats, high stomachers, and a great quantity of lace on their sleeves; also they had on long white kid gloves, and their hair was carefully dressed in high commodes, on the top of which was more lace, which gave them a nun-like appearance. Everybody knows that they hesitated all their lives whether or no to enter a convent, but in deference to their spiritual adviser remained without those gloomy walls, and yet practised, besides the usual Christian virtues, as to which many ladies of lower rank will not yield to them, the rules of some strict sisterhood, in virtue of which they rose early, and even in the night, to pray in the chapel, fasted very frequently, and went always in terror whether, by taking an egg on a Friday, or sugar to their chocolate, or cheese in Lent, they were not endangering their precious souls. I laugh not at them, because they lived up to the light of their consciences, and according to the laws laid down by their confessor. Yet I am happy in having had the plain Rule of Life laid down for me by my Prayer Book, the late Lord Bishop of Durham, and, in these recent years, by Mr. Hilyard. I need no confessor, and my conscience is at peace within me, whatever I eat or drink, thereby imitating the example of St. Paul. However, these were great ladies, who thought much of the example they were setting to other women; they were proud and stately in their bearing, yet kind of heart; in appearance they were so much alike that at first one did not distinguish them. Lady Katherine was the elder, and she was perhaps more lined and crossed in the face than her sister.

A pretty sight it was to see these two ladies trembling when their nephews approached, looking from one to the other of the three gallant young men who stood before them, and turning at length to the tallest and bravest of the three, who stepped forward and bent his knee, kissing their hands, and then kissing their cheeks.

‘James,’ cried Lady Katherine, ‘you are like my father more than your own.’

‘Nay, sister,’ said Mary, ‘he is also like our deceased brother. Nephew, you are welcome home. Stay with your own people; a Radcliffe is best in Northumberland; stay among us, and marry a North Country girl. And these are Frank and Charles. My dears, you are also very welcome. Remember, we are English here, not French.’

So they, too, saluted their aunts, and then Lady Swinburne followed, and after her Sir William, who, as he bade his cousin welcome to his own, loudly expressed the hope that nothing would be attemped by the Earl or his friends which would endanger so noble a head or so great an estate, adding that he knew there were many about who would endeavour to make his lordship a stalking-horse; that he was young as yet, and inexperienced; and that he commended him to follow the counsels of his father’s old friend, Mr. Errington.

To this Lord Widdrington responded with a loud ‘Amen’ and a profane oath, saying that as for danger, if all who were in the same boat would only pull together, and with a will, there would be no danger.

So, one after the other, all had been presented to the Earl, and we were beginning to wonder what would come next, when we saw the Reverend Mr. Patten stepping forward with an air of great importance. He bowed very low, and said that he had the honour to represent the Protestant Church of England and the clergy of Northumberland. (This shows the pushing, lying nature of the man, who had been in the Vicarage but a few months, and was unknown to the clergy, except that he was once curate at Penrith.) In their name he bade his lordship welcome. Speaking as a High Churchman and Tory, he said that he, in common with most, desired nothing so much as to be delivered of the godless; meaning, I suppose, the Whigs. And that, as for those who wish to transfer the succession to the House of Hanover, he could say, from his conscience:

‘Confounded be these rebels all That to usurpers bow, And make what Gods and Kings they please, And worship them below.’

He said a good deal more —— being applauded by some and regarded by others as an impertinent intruder. I was pleased to contrast this officiousness with the modesty of Mr. Hilyard, who stood without, not presuming to be presented to my lord, or to address him; yet, if he had spoken, he would certainly have delivered a very fine discourse, full of Latin quotations and reference to ancient authors.

‘I thank you, sir,’ said my lord coldly, when this person had quite finished; ‘but for this evening, indeed, we will have nothing of politics or the godless, or of Whigs and Tories.’

This he said partly to rebuke the impertinent zeal of Mr. Patten, and partly to silence certain noisy gentlemen, including the notorious Dick Gascoigne and Jack Hall, who were loudly boasting of what would happen now that his lordship was at home. One may truly say that there was hardly a moment from the time of the Earl’s return when he was allowed to rest in peace, from the day he returned to the day when he left his castle for the last time; their intention being always to keep before his lordship, and never suffer him to forget, that he was considered the head and chief of the Prince’s adherents in the north, and that his approval was taken for granted whatever was hatched. Those who were for open rebellion reckoned that he would join the first rising, whenever and wherever that was attempted, without hesitation; as for those who were for patience and making the party strong, they knew that they could depend upon him. In reality, however, it was perfectly well understood that the Earl desired above all things, and was desired by the leading men of the party, to keep himself retired and apart from politics until the time came when, like an important piece in the game of chess, he could move with the best effect.

It would have been more consonant with his ambition had he been born a mere private gentleman, able to live out his days in peace, and in the exercise of good works. But then, as Mr. Hilyard truly said, it is not every great man who is suffered by his friends, like Diocletian, after making Rome the metropolis of the whole world, by a voluntary exile to retire himself from it, and to end his days in his own secluded villa, a gardener and private gentleman in Dalmatia; or like Scipio, to build his house in the midst of a wood. Lord Derwentwater would have imitated this great Roman had it been permitted. It is, however, the misfortune of the great that the grandeur and eminence of their state will not permit them to taste for long the felicities of a private life.

‘An earl’s coronet in unquiet times,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘is like unto a king’s crown. Few of them are so soft lined but they sit heavy on the wearer’s brow.’

When my lord and his brothers retired to change their travelling-dress, Colonel Radcliffe invited the whole company to a supper, or banquet, which would be shortly served in the great hall. This was, of course, expected. Presently the brothers returned, dressed in a fashion suitable to their rank. The Earl had now a peach-coloured satin coat, lined with white, a flowered silk waistcoat, a crimson scarf, white silk stockings, and red-heeled shoes with diamond buckles. He gave his hand to his aunt, Lady Katharine. Lord Widdrington followed with Lady Mary, Francis Radcliffe with Lady Swinburne, Charles with Madam Errington, and Sir William with myself, and the rest after us in due order and such precedence as their age and rank allowed.

I think there never was a more joyful banquet than this; perhaps the cooks were not equal to those of Paris, but I am sure that by the guests nothing better could have been desired or expected. Of ladies there were only the five I have named. I was pleased to observe at the bottom of the table Mr. Hilyard, who was proposing to retire, as, not being a gentleman of the county or by birth, he was right in doing; but Colonel Radcliffe, who knew him well, insisted on his coming in, and placed him at the table beside himself.

It was Mr. Errington who asked the gentlemen to drink a bumper to the health of his lordship. He reminded those present who were of his own age that it was already twenty years since a Radcliffe had lived in Dilston Hall, and more than that length of time since so large a company had met together under its roof. He then spoke of the young Earl’s education, and averred his belief that, though brought up in France, he had remained an Englishman at heart, and had brought from that country nothing but the politeness of its nobles and the gallantry of its people —— qualities, he said, which, added to the courage of the English bulldog and his own generous nature as a true Radcliffe, could not but command the affections and respect of all. He would have said more, but the gentlemen would listen no longer, and, springing to their feet, drained their glasses, and shouted so that it did your heart good to hear them. I am quite sure there was never a hypocrite or pretender among them all (save Mr. Patten), so hearty and so unfeigned was their joy to receive this comely and gallant gentleman among them.

‘Gentlemen,’ said his lordship, when they suffered him at length to speak, and when his voice returned to him, for he was choked almost with the natural emotion which was caused by so much heartiness ——‘Gentlemen, I know not how to thank you sufficiently; indeed, I have no words strong enough for my thanks. I am an untried stranger, and you treat me as a proved friend. Yet we are kith and kin; we are cousins all; our ancestors stood shoulder to shoulder in many a Border fight; so let us always stand together. And as for what my cousin, Sir William, said just now, it is truly the wish of the Prince that no rash or ill-considered enterprise be taken in hand.’

Then he sat down, saying no more, for he was a man of few words. And, while the gentlemen shouted again, the ladies left the board, and went away to talk by themselves about his lordship and his two brothers.

Meantime, outside, the common sort, unmindful of the cold, were regaling themselves in their own way, having a barrel or two of strong ale broached, and a great fire, where an ox was roasting whole, the very smell of the beef being a banquet to many poor souls who seldom taste flesh, unless it be the flesh of swine, and that in great lumps of fat, which they sometimes eat with bread and sometimes soak in hot milk, Providence having bestowed upon this class of people stomachs stronger than those of gentlefolk.

‘In all times,’ saith Mr. Hilyard, ‘roastbeef has been in great scarcity, insomuch that in Homer the gods are represented as pleased by the fragrance or perfume of the roasting meat. And, if the very gods, how much more the common people! A morsel of bread dipped in oil, and a fig or a bunch of grapes, made their only meal for the day. As for swine’s flesh, that they never so much as tasted. When the Crusaders occupied the Holy Land (where they founded the Latin Kingdom, which they thought would last for ever), leprosy broke out among them, which they attributed to the eating of pork. But I know not if that was indeed the case.’

Certainly, to a Northumbrian nose, there is no smell more delicious than that of a piece of roasting beef, and these good fellows were sitting patiently about the fire until the ox should be cooked through. Some there were, it is true, who, miscalculating their strength of head, took so many pulls at Black Jack that they rolled over, and had to be carried into the kitchen and laid on the floor, so that they went supperless to bed. This was a pity, because his lordship did not give a roasted ox every day in the year, and to lose your share in a great feast is a dreadful thing for a poor man, and one thrown in his teeth all his life afterwards.

When Lord Derwentwater left his guests, which was early, because he never loved deep potations, he went outside to speak with his humble friends round the bonfire. They were at the moment engaged upon the beef, which was good but underdone, and in their best and most cheerful mood. He went among them shaking them by the hand, asking their names, kissing the young women, promising to call at their houses and farms, bidding the lads bustle about with the beer, promising to help them if he could be of any help, laughing at himself for understanding their speech slowly, and all with so hearty and easy a grace as to make the poor folk feel that truly a friend had come to them at last across the seas.

The housekeeper, good Mrs. Busby, who had waited for him day and night for twenty years, found beds for the ladies and for some of the gentlemen. But most of them slept where they fell, and in the morning, by dint of cold water poured upon the head, and smallbeer within, recovered their faculties before they rode away.

Before I went up the great staircase to bed, I looked into the hall. It was already very late —— nearly eleven. The gentlemen were drinking still, and some of them were smoking pipes of tobacco, while some were very red in the face, and some had fallen asleep —— their heads hanging downwards and quite helpless and sad to see, or else lolling back upon the chair with open mouth like an idiot, or lying on the table upon their arms. Strong drink had stolen away their brains, and for twelve hours they would be senseless. Among those who slept in their chairs was none other than his reverence, Mr. Robert Patten. A shameful spectacle! His great mouth was wide open, his head lying back, and some wag with a burnt cork had marked his upper lip and cheeks with the black moustachios and ferocious whiskers borne —— I am told —— by certain soldiers of a fierce and warlike nation called Heyducs. Why, it is a venial thing for a layman, one who has, perhaps, ridden and hunted for a whole day, to be overcome with thirst and potency of drink; but for a clergyman, one whose thoughts should be set upon holy things and the mysteries of the Christian scheme —— faugh! the sight is sorrowful indeed. One may remember many evil things in the life of Mr. Patten, but few more disgraceful than his tipsy senselessness at Lord Derwentwater’s return.

How different was Mr. Antony Hilyard! He was not drunk, nor, apparently, touched with wine. But his jolly red face was beaming with smiles. On one side of him sat Colonel Radcliffe, who had forgotten his invisible enemy, and was now laughing and listening; on the other side was Charles Radcliffe, not drinking, but looking curiously around him, and especially at the singer, as, with glorified face, bright eyes, and brandished glass, as if life was to him a dream of pure happiness without a care or a fear, he sang merrily —— men are like children, tickled with a straw, but yet it is a catching air —— his famous song:

‘I am a jolly toper, I am a ragged Soph,

Known by the pimples on my face with taking bumpers off;

And a-toping we will go —— we will go —— we will go ——

And a-toping we will go.’

Chapter viii.

A Prince in Israel.

So the next day to Blanchland, a ride of nine miles across a moor as wild as any in England; and Tom glum, partly on account of last night’s wine and partly at prospect of a whole year spent in this secluded spot.

‘Consider, sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘the advantages of the plan. First, it will be impossible to spend any money ——’

Here Tom flung into a rage, and swore that it was shameful for the owner of Bamborough to want for a little money.

‘Next,’ continued the judicious steward, ‘your honour will have most excellent shooting and fishing; and as for society ——’

‘I know all your songs,’ said Tom. ‘Can you not write some more?’

‘As for society, there are my lord and his brothers within an easy ride. Your honour doth very well understand that it may be both a singular advantage for yourself to enjoy the friendship of a nobleman who hath the Prince’s private ear, and to his lordship to have the benefit of your experience and advice in the conduct of his private affairs. As for that, I conceive it nothing short of a Providential interposition that, at the moment when he should arrive, inexperienced and raw, he should find in your honour a wise adviser.’

‘That is true, Tony,’ said Tom, looking more cheerful. ‘Dilston Hall is not ten miles from Blanchland, and the wine is good. We will teach him how to drink it. These Frenchmen cannot drink.’

‘And to mix whisky punch. In France they do not even know the liquor.’

‘Poor devils!’ said Tom. ‘His lordship has much to learn.’

But as Lord Derwentwater was for the next six months entirely occupied with the survey of his own estates, not only in Northumberland, but also in Lancashire and Cumberland, we saw nothing of him, and spent our time without any company other than our own. Mr. Patten, it is true, was sometimes so kind as to ride across the moor from Allenhead, and by a coarse flattery (call it rather an abject surrender of his judgment), compared with which Mr. Hilyard’s method was fine and delicate, he acquired an influence over Tom which afterwards did great harm. Certainly it was a quiet summer which we spent, and had Tom been content I should have been happy. Fortunately, her ladyship was pleased, and signified her pleasure in plain terms.

‘“I design not,”’ she wrote, ‘“that my nephew should live other than a gentlemen of his name and position ought. But I am well pleased that you are for a space removed from the company of those who lead you into wasteful courses with horse-racing and wagers”’—— Tom had been of late unfortunate ——”‘of which it is now well-nigh time to have done. It is my lord’s earnest desire that you should shortly take the place which becomes your family, and, on the retirement of your father, that you should represent the county in his stead. As this cannot be done without expense, and as we learn that your father is not willing to undertake the charge, having his second family to consider, it is the intention of my lord to make an annual allowance out of his Northumberland estates, such as may suffice for your maintenance in style befitting a gentleman. This generosity, I beg you to believe, is unasked by me, though I confess that he knows very well the solicitude with which I watch the welfare of my nephew. To be guided, as well as to be assisted, by so great and good a man, should be considered by you an honour.’”

‘This,’ said Mr. Hilyard, who was reading the letter, ‘is the first-fruit of that intention which I foretold six months ago.’

‘Ay,’ said Tom, ‘always at her ladyship’s apron. But go on. Has she any more advice? Am I to ask the Bishop permission to take a glass of whisky punch? Will he give me leave to hunt upon the moor? ’Tis all his.’

‘He who hath patience,’ replied Mr. Hilyard, ‘hath all. Ladies’ leading-strings stretch not all the way from Durham to St. Stephen’s. I proceed with the letter:

‘“I desire next to inform you that my Lord the Bishop hath a great desire to converse with Lord Derwentwater, and that in a private and quiet manner which will give no opportunity for malicious tongues. A Bishop of English Church cannot openly visit a Catholic peer, nor should he invite scandal and malignant whispers by entertaining in his own house so close a friend and so near a relation of the Prince. He wishes, therefore, that you should invite a hunting-party to Blanchland in October, at which he, too, unless otherwise prevented, will be present. Among your guests be sure that Lord Derwentwater is present. So no more at present. Give Dorothy, your sister, my blessing and that of the Bishop, and tell Mr. Hilyard, your steward, that I expect thrift in household charges while you are at Blanchland.

‘“Your loving Aunt,

‘“Dorothy Crewe.”’

To be sure, it was impossible to spend money at this quiet place, where there were no gentlemen to make matches, play cards, and lay bets, no market-town nearer than Hexham, no buying of horses, and no other people except ourselves and the hinds who tilled our lands. There is certainly nowhere in England a place which lies so remote from human habitation, unless it be in Allendale or among the Cheviots, as this old ruined Tower of Blanchland. Formerly it was a monastery, but was destroyed very long ago, in the reign of the first Edward, by a party of marauding Scots, and was never afterwards rebuilt. They say that the marauding Scots, who had crossed the Border with sacrilegious intent to sack this House of God, on account of its reputed wealth, had lost their way upon the moor in a mist, and were returning homeward disappointed, when they heard the monastery bell ringing close at hand —— it was to call the good monks together for a Te Deum on account of their escape from the enemy whose coming was looked for. Alas! the bell was a knell, and the Te Deum a funeral chant, for the ringing guided the robbers to the spot, and they quickly broke through the gates, murdered all the monks, set fire to the buildings, and rode away carrying their unhallowed spoil with the sacred vessels, driving the monks’ cattle before them, and leaving behind them nothing but the unburied corpses of the unfortunate brothers. Surely some dreadful vengeance must have overtaken these men; but it is so long ago that the memory of their names as well as their punishment has long since perished, though that of the crime has survived.

Blanchland lies along the valley of the Derwent in a deep hollow about the middle of the great moor called Hexhamshire Common, and ten or eleven miles south of Hexham; the stream is here quite little and shallow, babbling over pebbles and under trees; it is crossed by the stout old stone bridge built by the monks themselves, who once farmed the valley. The fields are now tilled by a few hinds who live about and around the quadrangle of the old monastery still marked by the ancient walls, behind which the rustics have built their cottages. The place has the aspect of an ancient and decayed college, the quadrangle having been neatly cobbled, and a pant of clear water erected by my great-great-grandfather, Sir Claudius, who died here in the year 1627. Our own dwelling-house consisted of two buildings; one, which we used for company and visitors, is first, a great square tower which stands over the ancient gate —— Mr. Hilyard says that the place might easily have been held for weeks against simple mosstroopers —— it has several good rooms in it; and the second a part of the old monastery, including the refectory, a fair and noble hall, with a large kitchen below, and beside it a small modern house, contrived either by Sir Claudius or some previous holders, within another ancient square tower. This house, very convenient in all respects, has a stone balcony on the north side, from where stone steps lead to the green meadow, which was once the monks’ burying-place. The ruins of their chapel, an old roofless tower and the walls, are standing in the meadow. Within the old chapel grass grows between the flags, wallflowers flourish upon the walls; there is on one of the stones a figure and an inscription, which Mr. Hilyard interpreted to be that of a certain man once Forester to the Abbey. But not a monument or a stone to the memory of the dead monks. They are gone and forgotten —— names, and lives, and all —— though their dust and ashes are beneath the feet of those who stand there. Bush and bramble grow round the chapel and cover the old graves, whose very mounds have now disappeared and are level with the turf. Among them rises an old stone cross, put up no one knows when. It is truly a venerable and ghostly place. In the twilight or moonlight one may see, or think he sees, the ghosts of the murdered friars among the ruins. In the dark winter evenings, the people said, they could be heard, when the wind was high, chaunting in the chapel; and every year, on that day when they rang the fatal bell and so called in the Scots, may be heard at midnight the ringing of a knell. Many are there who can testify to this miracle; and at night the venerable ghost of the Abbot himself may be sometimes met upon the bridge. But this may be rumour, for the people of the place are rude, having no learning at all, little religion, but great credulity, and prone to believe all they hear. Certainly I have never myself met the Abbot’s ghost, though I have often stood upon the bridge after nightfall alone or with Mr. Hilyard. On the other hand, I have heard, on windy nights, the chaunting of the dead monks very plainly. While we were there I heard so many ghost-stories that I began to suspect something wrong, and presently was not astonished to find that the number and dreadful, fearful aspect of the ghosts had greatly increased since we came to the place, insomuch that for years after (and no doubt until now) the simple people of the village, if it may be called a village, were frightened out of their lives if they had but to cross the quadrangle or fetch water at the pant after sunset. The cause of this terror was no other than my maid, Jenny Lee, who saw these apparitions. I verily believe that she invented her stories out of pure mischief and wantonness, spreading abroad continually tales of new ghosts. One day she saw in the graveyard a skull with fiery eyes, which grinned at her. Another evening she met the Devil himself (she declared; but his honour and Miss Dorothy must be told nothing about it —— artful creature!), with flames coming out of his mouth, and a great roaring, sure to bring mischief, if only the loss of a chicken or a sucking-pig, to some one. Another time there was a black dog, which portended death. Had I known of these things at the time, Jenny should soon, indeed, have gone a-packing. But I did not know till later on, when Mr. Hilyard inquired into the truth of these stories, and traced them all to this girl.

We passed here a quiet time during the spring and summer of that year. In the morning Tom went a-fishing, or hunted the otter, or went after badgers, or some kind of vermin, of which there are great quantities on the moor. After dinner he commonly slept. After supper he drank whisky punch, and to bed early. As for me, when my housewife duties were accomplished, I talked with the women-folk, who were simple and ignorant, but of good hearts; or walked up the valley along the south side, where there is a high sloping bank, or hill —— to my mind very beautiful. It is covered with trees. By the middle of June these trees have put on their leaves, and among the leaves are the pink blossoms of the blueberries and the white flowers of the wild strawberry, to say nothing of the wild flowers which clothe the place in that month as with a carpet. Even thus, in June, must have looked the Garden of Eden. In the afternoon Mr. Hilyard read to me, and we held converse in low whispers while Tom slept. And on Sunday morning the villagers came together, and Mr. Hilyard read the service appointed for the day. It was in June that Lord Derwentwater rode across the moor to visit us. We found that the shyness which he showed on his first return had gone altogether, being replaced by the most charming courtesy and condescension to all ranks. He had also begun to acquire the North-country manner of speech, and could converse with the common people. On his progress, if so it may be called, he was received everywhere with such joy that he was astonished, having as yet done nothing to deserve it.

‘The gentlemen of Northumberland,’ he declared, ‘are the most hospitable in the whole world, and the women are the most beautiful —— yes, Miss Dorothy, though they are but as the moon compared with one sun which I know. As for the moors’—— he had just ridden across Hexhamshire Common from Allendale to Blanchland on his way home to Dilston ——‘as for the moors, the air is certainly the finest in the world.’

Then he told us of his travels, the people he had met with, and the things he had done and was going to do. He would enlarge Dilston; he would rebuild Langley; he would build a cottage on the banks of Derwentwater, where his ancestors once had a great house; here he would build boats, and then, with his friends, would float upon the still waters among the lovely islands of the lake, and listen to the cooing of the doves in the woods, or to the melodious blowing of horns upon the shore. This, he said, would be all the Heaven he would ask if I was there to sit beside him in his boat. Alas! Every taste that most adorns the age was possessed by this young nobleman, and especially those truly princely tastes which desire the erection of stately buildings, the gathering of friends to enjoy his wealth, and the society of beautiful women. We ought not to reproach men with weakness on this score, seeing that all the best and noblest of mankind —— and chiefly those —— have loved women’s society.

Among other things that pleased him beside the universal welcome which he received, was that when he went into Lancashire —— it is so small a trifle that it should not, perhaps, be mentioned —— they made him Mayor of Walton. One would hardly suppose that it was worthy of the dignity of so great a lord to be pleased with so small a thing. Yet he was, and, just as Tom and his friends loved to drink and laugh, and Mr. Hilyard (but of an evening only) to sing and act, and play the buffoon, so Lord Derwentwater himself was not free from what we may call, without irreverence, a besetting infirmity of his sex, and a blemish upon the character of many great men —— I mean this love of tomfooling. Now, the Corporation of Walton is nothing in the world but a club of gentlemen held in a village of that name near Preston. Every member of the Club held an office. The Mayor has a Deputy, to take the chair in his absence. There are also in this foolish society a Recorder, two Bailiffs, two Serjeants, a Physician, a Mace-bearer, a Poet Laureate, and a Jester.

This burlesque of serious institutions appeared to Lord Derwentwater, and no doubt to the other members of the Club, a most humorous stroke; he laughed continually over their doings and sayings with Tom; and, in fact, so tickled him with the thing that the very next year he took the journey with the Earl to Preston, and there was elected into the Club, and honoured with the office of Serjeant, while Mr. Hilyard, always to the front where fooling and play-acting were concerned, was made at once both Poet Laureate and Jester, which offices were happily vacant for him. It is said that the verses he wrote, the jests he made, and the songs he sung, were worthy of being added to Mr. Brown’s ‘Miscellaneous Works,’ or Mr. D’Urfey’s ‘Pills to Purge Melancholy;’ but, unfortunately, the records of the Society perished in the disasters of the year 1715, and with them Mr. Hilyard’s verses.

One may easily excuse this levity in Lord Derwentwater, when one remembers that he and all his companions were as yet in their earliest manhood, before the vivacity of youth has vanished. Tom, the eldest, was but six-and-twenty; Lord Derwentwater himself, the youngest, only twenty-one; all of them honest country gentlemen and their younger brothers, and none, as yet, sated with the pleasures of the wicked town. How were the younger sons, for instance, to find money for the pleasures of town? I cannot pretend that all these young gentlemen were virtuous, or, in all their amusements, innocent; certainly, a good many of them were frequently drunk. But still they were all young, and one feels that a young man may sin out of mere youthful joy, and then repent; while an old man, if he sins it is hardness of heart. And, being young, they were full of spirits.

‘Solomon,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘teaches that a merry heart doeth good like medicine. Also he reminds us that a merry head maketh a cheerful countenance, and, further, that he who is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Wherefore, Miss Dorothy, let not this laughter of his honour, my patron, and Lord Derwentwater trouble you.’

Why, it could not trouble one if the causes of their mirth could have been understood. But it is of no use to talk of these things. Women sit with quiet faces, though their hearts are glad; but men must needs be laughing. Besides, Solomon has said so much about fools and their mirth as to make one afraid, lest, by laughing over-much, one may be confounded with these fools.

Then began my lord to come often to Blanchland, and I to enjoy the most happy six months of my life. Only six months! Yet, all that went before and all that came after are to be counted as nothing compared with that brief period of happiness. He would come over in the morning, when Tom was abroad, and hold conversation with me, either walking or in the old refectory where we sat. We talked of many things which I have not forgotten, but cannot write down all I remember. Sometimes Mr. Hilyard was with us, and sometimes we were alone. We conversed upon high and lofty themes, as well as on little things of the moment. Once, walking among the ruins of the monks’ chapel, I had the temerity —— or perhaps the ill-breeding —— to venture on asking him how it came about that a man of his knowledge and penetration could continue in the fold of the Roman Catholic Church.

He was not angry at the question, as might be expected (which shows his goodness of heart), but laughed, and said that he remained a Catholic because no one had yet succeeded in converting the Pope.

‘Fair Doctor of Divinity,’ he added; ‘do not tempt me. There is nothing I would not willingly do for the sake of your beaux yeux; but ask not a thing which touches my honour. Loyalty I owe to my Church as much as to my King. My cousin Dorothy would not surely advise a Radcliffe against his honour.’

This question of his religion dwelt in my lord’s mind, and he returned to it on another occasion, saying very seriously that Protestants were unhappy in knowing none of the repose and ease of soul which belong to those who hold what he called the True Faith.

‘For,’ he said, ‘either they are perplexed by doubts and always drifting into new heresies, or they are painfully striving, each for himself, and unaided, to attain his own safety, or they are guided by one or other of the heretic doctors to their irreparable loss; whereas we,’ he added, ‘live free from doubts. The Church hath settled all doubts long ago; she orders, and we obey; she teaches, and we believe; we have no reason for proving anything; we live without fear, and when at length we die,’ he took off his hat, ‘we are fortified by the last consolations and tender offices of the Church, and borne away by ministering angels, some to Heaven, but of these not many; the rest to the expiating fires of Purgatory. Fair cousin, I would that you, too, were in this fold with me!’

I was silenced, for the grave eyes and earnest voice of his lordship awed my soul. I knew not, indeed, what to answer until I consulted with Mr. Hilyard. In thinking over what my lord had said, his picture of faith seemed fair indeed.

‘Why,’ said Mr. Hilyard, when I spoke of it to him, ‘that is true enough; but, Miss Dorothy, remember that you, too, have a Church which teaches, orders, and consoles. Where are the doubts of which his lordship speaks? I know of none, for my own part; nor do you. And for us, as well as the Papists, surely there are the Sacraments of the Church, without the fires of Purgatory.’

Thus easily is a Papist answered by a man of learning.

But to Lord Derwentwater I only made reply, meekly, that I was an ignorant girl and presumptuous in speaking of such things; whereas, if he would take counsel with Lord Crewe or with Mr. Hilyard —— but upon this he fell a-laughing.

‘What, cousin,’ he said, ‘would you have me take the opinion of a jester, paid to make merriment for his master, and a singer of bacchanalian and dissolute songs for a company of drunken revellers? Nay, Miss Dorothy; I know that he is thy friend, and I speak not to make thee angry; and, in sober moments, I confess that I have found him a person of learning and wisdom. But in things spiritual —— think of it! As for Lord Crewe, I have heard that he is an excellent statesman, venerable for rank and years, and most benevolent in character; but I have never heard that he is a great theologian, or to be named in the same breath as the Fathers of the Church. And if he were, I have not myself the learning or the wit to examine and prove the very foundation of religion, or to be sure of getting a new faith if I cast away my present one, or finding belief through disbelief, or to hope for greater ease than at present I enjoy.’

So no more was said at the time between them of Popery or matters of religion; as for matters political, naturally there was much talk, especially when letters and papers arrived from London with intelligence. The affairs of the French King were going badly; as Englishmen we could not but rejoice, therefore. Yet the hopes of the Prince, so far as they rested on France, were decaying fast, wherefore we must be sorry; yet again, as if to put us in heart, it was reported that London was growing daily more favourable to the lawful Sovereign.

‘What London is, my lord,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ever anxious to glorify his native town, ‘that is the country. London deserted Richard II., and he fell; London joined Edward IV., and the Lancastrians’ cause was lost; it was London which deposed King Charles and sent King James a-packing. Yet the passions of the mob are fickle; we know them not. To-day they bawl for the Chevalier; to-morrow they will throw up their caps for the Protestant religion, and will plunder a Catholic Ambassador’s house. It hath been well observed that the mob is like Tiberius, who, to one beginning, “You remember, Caesar?” replied, “Nay; I do not remember what I was.”’

‘We are a long way from Caesar,’ said the Earl. ‘Let us, however, have no secret conspiracies and dark plots. There have been too many such already. It is not by treason that we shall bring back the King; but by the voice of the people. Never shall it be said that I, for one, dragged men from their homes to fight for their Prince, unless it was first made clear that the country was wholly for him.’

‘If London speaks, the nation will follow,’ Mr. Hilyard repeated.

‘When the country gentry agree to rise,’ said Tom, ‘the thing is as good as done.’

‘Then let nothing be done,’ Lord Derwentwater added, ‘till the voice of the country is certain, and the gentlemen of the country can be depended upon. As for French bayonets, we want none of them. And for premature risings, let us countenance none of them, nor have to do with those who would bring them about. Say I well, Tom Forster?’

‘Excellently well, my lord,’ Tom replied; though he was already, I now believe, in some kind of correspondence with those arch-conspirators, Dick Gascoigne and Captain Talbot. But let these words be remembered, because, in the sequel, it will be seen that they fell into Tom’s heart and remained there, bringing forth fruit.

The summer passed away with such discourse. The hunting-party was fixed for October the 30th. Mr. Hilyard, following her ladyship’s instructions, designed to make it a small and private party; but when it was known that the illustrious Lord Crewe, with his wife, would be present, there came so many promises of attendance, that order had to be taken for a very great quantity of provisions, the arrangement for which cost myself and Jenny Lee many a long day’s work. On the 29th, the Bishop and Lady Crewe rode from Bishop’s Auckland, a distance of twenty miles, over rough country ways —— a long ride for a man between seventy and eighty years of age. When we heard that they were visible form the hill, Tom and I went forth to meet them, and led them form the bridge to the porch.

When Lady Crewe, whom then I saw for the first time since a little child, dismounted, I perceived, though she was wrapped in a great thick hood covering her from head to foot, that she had brown curling hair like my own, and dark eyes of a singular brightness, which my own also somewhat resembled, and that she was of the same height, though stouter, then being about the age of forty.

‘So,’ she said to Tom, ‘thou art my nephew and my coheir. Kiss my cheek, Tom. We shall have a great deal to say.’

Then Tom assisted the Bishop to dismount.

‘Welcome, my lord,’ he said, ‘to your own house and Manor of Blanchland.’

‘As for its being mine own, Nephew Forster,’ said his lordship, ‘thou must ask thy aunt. She will not willingly let Bamborough and Blanchland go to a Crewe.’

Then we led them within, and I received my aunt’s gloves and muff, after kindly greetings from her; but I observed that her eyes followed Tom.

I would have knelt to the Bishop for his blessing, but he raised me, saying kindly:

‘Let me see thy face, Miss Dorothy the younger. Why —— so —— there are Forsters still, I see. Wife, here is the living picture of a certain maid with whom I fell in love twenty years ago. Thou art not so beautiful in my eyes, child, as thy aunt; but I doubt not there are plenty who ——’

‘He hath the face of Ferdinando,’ cried my aunt, speaking of Tom, ‘and the voice of poor Will. But perhaps most he favours my father, Sir William.’

‘She is very like all these, my dear,’ said Lord Crewe, looking earnestly at me. ‘Child, when I look upon thy face I see my own Dorothy again, in her first beauty. Yet she is always the most beautiful woman in the world to me. And every age with her will bring its own charm.’

‘He has the manner of my own branch, not the Etherston Forsters,’ my lady continued. ‘Tom, you must come with me to London before you go into the House. I shall present you to Lady Cowper, our cousin’ (she was a Clavering). ‘She is a rank Whig, but a woman of fashion and, what is better, of sense and virtue. Sense and virtue go together, Dorothy, child, though some people will have it otherwise.’

Lord Crewe bestowed upon Tom a passing glance, which showed me that he was less interested than his wife in the male Forsters.

‘My dear,’ he said, ‘if your nephew is wise he will ask for the society of no other woman than yourself while he is in London.’

Lord Crewe loved his wife so fondly that these compliments were but expressions of his tenderness. Most old men dote on their young wives: not so Lord Crewe. His passion, old as he was, was that of strong manhood, a steady and ardent flame which every woman should desire, one which causes the care and thoughtfulness of the lover to remain long after the honeymoon, and, indeed, throughout the earthly course. Never was there any example more truly illustrating the virtue and happiness of conjugal love than that of Lord Crewe and his wife.

When she had removed her travelling attire, and appeared, her hair dressed in a fontange with Colberteen lace, her silk dress looped to show the rich petticoat beneath, the lace upon her sleeve, her gold chain, and, above all, the surpassing dignity of her carriage and beauty of her face (though now in her fortieth year), I owned to myself that I had never before seen a lady so stately or so truly handsome, or so completely becoming her exalted rank as the wife either of an English bishop or an English baron.

‘What are thy thoughts, child?’ she asked, smiling, because I am sure she knew very well what they were.

‘Madam,’ I replied, with respect, ‘I was but thinking how the people everywhere, not only the gentlefolk but the common folk, and not only at Bamborough, but here and at Alnwick and everywhere, speak still of the beautiful Dorothy Forster —— and that now I know at length what they mean.’

‘Tut, tut!’ she replied, but she laughed and blushed —— she had still the fairest complexion ever seen, and the clearest skin (for the sake of her complexion she would never drink beer, and washed in cold water all the year round), and a colour, white and red, which came and went like a girl’s; her teeth were of a pearly white —— women of forty are sometimes lamentable to look upon, so bad have their teeth become —— with a mouth and rosy lips which seemed still young; her face was round rather than oval; her eyes were large and dark, as I have said; her hair was piled in a low tower, and covered with laces; her sloping shoulders were also half-hidden by a lace mantle, and she had the most dainty figure ever seen. Truly a Juno among women, who had been the chief of the Graces in her youth.

‘Tut, tut!’ she replied, tapping my cheek with her fan, but yet well pleased. ‘Silly child! Beauty is but for a day. We women have our little summer of good looks. A few years and it is over. I am an old woman now. But you, my dear, may look into the glass and see there what your aunt was like when she, like you, was nineteen years of age.’

Then we sat down to supper, Mr. Hilyard being first presented. He would have absented himself altogether, being modest and much afraid of the Lord Bishop; but my lady asked for him, and was good enough to insist upon his presence. Conversation was grave and serious, chiefly sustained by the Bishop, Mr. Hilyard saying never a word, but keeping his eyes on the table, and mightily relieved when at nine his lordship begged to be excused, on the ground that they had travelled far, and that now he was old and must to bed betimes.

‘You have put us in the haunted chamber, Dorothy,’ said Lady Crewe. ‘It was there that Sir Claudius died. When I was a child, I looked every day after dark for his ghost. But it never came. Yes, Blanchland is a strange, ghostly place. The people used to speak of terrible things.’

The Bishop gave her his hand.

‘Come, my dear,’ he said. ‘I engage to drive away any ghosts that come to disturb your sleep.’

Nathaniel, Lord Crewe, of Stene, in Northamptonshire, and Bishop of Durham, was at this time seventy-seven years of age, which we rightly consider a very great age indeed. There were in him, however, none of the infirmities of age; his walk was as firm, his eye was as clear, his voice as vigorous, his seat on horseback as steady, as in most men at fifty. In appearance he was most singular. For he wore his own hair, and not a wig; this was long, and abundant, and perfectly white; on his upper lip was a small whisker or moustache; he always had upon his head a little velvet cap; he was, in person, tall and spare; in his carriage, he stooped somewhat, a fine, scholarly habit, as caused by much reading and meditation; his eyes were black and piercing; his nose was straight and clear; his lips were set firm; and his chin was long and pointed. Those who have seen the portrait of Charles I., may be informed that Lord Crewe’s face somewhat resembled that of the sainted monarch.

He was a younger son of Lord Crewe, of Stene, in Northamptonshire, but, by the death of his elder brothers, he succeeded, in his fiftieth year, to the title. He was, in early life, a distinguished scholar of Lincoln College, Oxford, and was elected a Fellow of that venerable Foundation during the Protectorate, but declared for Crown and Hierarchy in 1660. He was made Rector of his College, Dean of Chichester, and Clerk of the Closet to King Charles II. In the year 1671, he was consecrated Bishop of Oxford, and two years later was translated to the See of Durham, which he held for fifty years, the longest episcopate, I believe, in the history of the Church of England.

No one is ignorant that this prelate incurred great odium during the reign of King James II. for his support of that monarch’s measures. I am not obliged to defend or to accuse his action while he was on the Ecclesiastical Commission; and to those who charge him with the prosecution of Dr. Samuel Johnson, of the Vice–Chancellor of Cambridge, with his famous offer to attend publicly the entry of the Pope’s Nuncio into London, and with his conduct in the case of Magdalen College, Oxford, the writer has nothing at all to say, because she is a simple woman, and these things are too high for her. It is true that in 1688 he was exempted from pardon, and had to take flight across the seas; yet, which shows that his enemies had nothing they could bring home to him, he presently came back and remained unmolested until his death —— that is to say, for five-and-twenty years. He was so good a man, and of so truly kind a heart, that one cannot believe he ever did or said a wrong thing. Certainly he never changed his principles, upholding Divine Right and the lawful succession of the Stuarts, and making no secret of his doctrines. As becomes a bishop, however, he took no active share in the affairs of the party, except in this very year of grace, namely 1710, when he opposed the prosecution of Dr. Sacheverell. And his last words to his chaplain when he died, full of years, in 1722, were, ‘Remember, Dick, never go over to the other side.’

As for his wealth, he possessed as Lord Crewe, his estates and the ancestral seat of Stene, with other manors and houses, in Northamptonshire. As Lord Bishop of Durham, he enjoyed the revenues and the powers of a Prince Palatine, with six splendid castles, including Durham, Auckland, and Norham, and eight great houses. He mostly kept his Court (for truly it was little less) at Durham, where he entertained in the year 1677 the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth, on his way to the north. A magnificent prelate, indeed; with the courage to declare and uphold his opinions; splendid in his carriage, his language, his dress, and in the liveries of his servants; one who ruled himself, his household, and his diocese with a firm hand; who spent freely, yet administered prudently; was affable to all except to those who would dispute his authority or his rank.

‘And now, Tony,’ said Tom, when they were gone, ‘we cannot sing with a bishop in the house; but we can drink. The lemons, brave boy, and the whisky. Methinks her ladyship means well.’

‘So well,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘that your honour hath but to defer to her opinions, and your fortunes will be higher even than I looked for. As for myself,’ here he sighed, and looked miserable for the space of three and a half rummers of punch, when he cheered up, and said that if starvation was before him, all the more reason for enjoying the present moment, and that of all the choice gifts of Heaven, that of whisky punch was certainly the one for which mankind should be most grateful. While he discoursed upon its merits I left them, and to bed.

Chapter ix.

A Hunting Party.

It has been pretended that the party of this day was one of the earliest attempts made by Mr. Forster the younger towards making himself the leader of the cause in the north. On the contrary, he had as yet no thought at all about leading. The gentlemen came together for no other purpose than to meet the Bishop (many of them being Catholics, who could only see him on some such occasion) and Lord Derwentwater, and the meeting was especially summoned to enable these two to meet one another. Among those who came to the meeting were many of the gentlemen who five years afterwards, to their undoing, took up arms for the Prince. Most of them lay at Hexham overnight, and came over the moor in the morning. It was a gallant sight, indeed, to see the gentlemen riding into the quadrangle, and giving their horses to the grooms, while they paid their respects to Lady Crewe, who was already dressed, early as it was, and received them with a kindly welcome which pleased all. The Bishop, she said, begged to be excused at that early hour; he would meet his friends in the evening. Meantime, breakfast, or luncheon, was spread, with cold pasties, spiced beef, game, and beer for all who chose.

They were a hearty and hungry crew. One cannot but remember with what goodwill they trooped in, and how they made the sirloins of beef to grow small, the pasties to vanish, and the birds to disappear, except their bones; also with what cheerfulness they exhorted each other to fill up and drink again. They had a day’s hunting before them. Surely a man may eat and drink who is going out for six or eight hours a-horseback across Hexhamshire Common. It was a pretty sight, certainly, when they had finished, to see them mount in the great quadrangle, with the shouting of the younger men —— ah! King Solomon’s medicine of the merry heart! —— and so off, trooping through the old gateway out upon the open moor, whither the huntsmen had taken the hounds. I, who seldom rode went with them on this day. Beside me rode, Lord Derwentwater, brave in scarlet, as were his brothers. But he was grave, and even sad.

‘I cannot but think, Miss Dorothy,’ he said, ‘that it is a strange thing for us to laugh and shout while our business is to talk of treason, according to the law of the land. When will treason become loyalty, and rebellion fidelity to the King?’

Then there arose a great yo-hoing and shouting, and the fox was found, and we all rode after it. About that day’s hunting it needs not to speak much. It was a long run. Tom, with Charlie Radcliffe, was in at the death, and they gave me the creature’s brush. As for Lord Derwentwater, he left not my side, being more concerned to talk with me than to gallop after the hounds. Certainly he never was a keen fox-hunter, his ideas of the hunt being taken from France, where, as he hath told me, the party ride down lanes or allées, in a great forest, after a wild boar or a stag, the sides of the lanes being lined with rustics, to prevent the boar from taking shelter in the wood. But he owned that our sport was more manly. This was a pleasant, nay, a delightful ride for me, seeing as I did in the eyes of his lordship those signs of admiration which please the hearts of all women alike, whether they be confident in their beauty, or afraid that they possess no charms to fix the affections of inconstant man. Perhaps we guess very readily what most we desire. At this time (let me confess and own without shame what need not be concealed) I had begun to desire one thing very much; that is to say, I understood very well that the happiest woman in the world would be she to whom this young gentleman would give the priceless blessing of his love. This made me watchful of his speech and looks; and enabled me, young and inexperienced as I was, to read very well the confession made by eyes full of admiration, though no word at all was spoken. No gentleman in the world had better eyes or sweeter than Lord Derwentwater, and no man’s love, I knew very well, was more to be desired; and, innocent and ignorant as we were, neither of us, at that time, considered the difficulties in the way. Poor Dorothy!

Some of the elder gentlemen remained behind, and sat all the morning to talk with Lady Crewe, once their toast and charming beauty, still beautiful and gracious as a great lady should be. Every woman likes, I suppose, to feel that men remember the beauty of her youth. It is a fleeting thing, and we are told that, like all earthly things, it is a vanity. Nevertheless, it is a vanity which pleases for a lifetime, and, like understanding in a man, it may be used, while it lasts, for great purposes. Lady Crewe knew well how to use her beauty and charm of words as well as of face, in order to lead men whithersoever she would. This is a simple art, though few women understand it, being nothing more or less than to make each man think the thing which he most desires to believe true, namely, that he occupies wholly the thoughts, hopes, interest, and sympathy of the woman who would lure him and lead him.

‘It is not love,’ said Mr. Hilyard once, ‘so much as vanity, which leads the world. Dalila conquered Samson by playing upon his pride of strength. Cleopatra overcame Antony by acknowledging the irresistible charm of a hero.’

So Lady Crewe, by coaxing, flattering, making men feel happy and proud of themselves (since they would please so great and gracious a lady), in a word, by charming men, could do with them what she pleased. Of course it need not be said that there could be no question of gallantry with this stately dame, the wife of the great Lord Crewe. Certainly not; yet all men were her slaves.

Some time between ten and eleven in the forenoon, the party being all ridden forth, my lord the Bishop came out from his chamber, dressed and ready for the duties of the day. At so advanced a stage of life, one must, I suppose, approach each day, which may be the last, slowly and carefully, fortified before the work of the day begins with food, prayer, and meditation. His lordship looked older in the morning than in the evening; yet not decayed. Though the lines and crow’sfeet of age lay thickly upon his face, so that it was seamed and scarred by a thousand waving lines, his eye was as bright and his lips as firm as if he were but forty or fifty. After a little discourse with the gentlemen who had remained behind, he sent immediately for Mr. Hilyard. He, to say the truth, was by no means anxious for the interview, and had shown, ever since this party was proposed, a singular desire to avoid the Bishop; proposing a hundred different pretexts for his absence.

First, his lordship, with great show of politeness, of which he was perfect master, begged Mr. Hilyard to show him the ruins and remains of this strange place, which our steward very willingly did, hoping, as will be seen, to stave off the questions which he feared. Presently, after talk about the Premonstratensian Friars (this was the learned name of the monks who were murdered, but why they had so long a name or what it means, I know not, nor need we inquire into the superstitious reasons for such a name), and after considering the quadrangle and the ancient Gate Tower, they turned into the graveyard, where were the ruins of the chapel. Here they talked of Gothic architecture, a subject on which, as on so many other things, Mr. Hilyard was well versed; and the Bishop, after lamenting the ruin of so beautiful a place, said that he could not suffer whole families thus to grow up in heathendom with so fair a chapel waiting but a roof, and that he should take order therefor.

‘As for you, sir,’ he said to Mr. Hilyard, ‘you seem to be possessed of some learning. You have studied, I perceive, the architecture of our churches.’

‘In my humble way, my lord, I have read such books on the subject as have fallen into my hands.’

‘And you are not unacquainted with the ancient dispositions of monasteries, it would seem.’

‘Also in my small way, my lord; and with such chances of observation as I have obtained.’

Then the Bishop seated himself upon a fallen stone in the corner of the tower, where he was sheltered from the wind, and where the sunshine fell, and fixed upon Mr. Hilyard his eyes, which were like the eyes of a hawk for clearness, and more terrible for sternness than the eyes of a lion, and said:

‘Then, sir, let me ask: Who are you?’

‘My lord, my name, at your lordship’s service, is Antony Hilyard.’

‘So much I know. And for ten years, or thereabouts, in the service of the Forsters. Now, sir, I meddle not with affairs which belong not to me, therefore when Mr. Thomas Forster of Etherston received you as my nephew’s tutor, I made no inquiry. Again, when I heard, through her ladyship, that the tutor, instead of becoming a chaplain, as is generally his laudable ambition, became a steward, I made no inquiry, because, tutor or steward, your affairs seemed to concern me not at all. But in view of the singular affection which my lady hath conceived for her nephew, her hopes for his future, and her designs as regards his inheritance, I can no longer suffer him to remain under the influence of men about whose character I know nothing. Doubtless, sir, you are honest. My nephew and his sister swear that you are honest.’

‘I hope so, my lord.’

‘It is certain that you have, whether for purposes of your own or not, acquired such an influence over both my nephew and my niece that I must come to an understanding. You sing, act, and play the Merry Andrew, when he has his friends about him; you manage his household, and keep his accounts; you have taught the young lady to sing, play music, read French, and other things, which, as my lady is assured, are all innocent and desirable accomplishments. We have also learned that although you were engaged upon a salary or wage of thirty pounds a year, you have never received any of that money, save a guinea here and there for clothing. Now, sir, I judge not beforehand, but you may be, for aught, I know, a vile Whig, endeavouring to instil into an honest mind pernicious opinions; or you may be one of those secret plotters who are the curse of our party, and lure on gentlemen to their destruction; or you may be, which is not impossible, a Jesuit on some secret service. So, sir, before we go any further, you will tell me who and what you are —— whose son, where born and brought up —— of what stock, town, religion?’

‘For my birth, my lord, I am of London; for my religion, I am a Protestant and humble servant of the Church; for my origin, my father was a vintner, with a tavern in Barbican; for my education, it was at St. Paul’s School, where I got credit for some scholarship, and’—— here he bowed his head, and looked guilty ——‘at Oxford, in your lordship’s own College of Lincoln.’

‘Go on, sir.’ For now Mr. Hilyard showed signs of the greatest distress, and began to cough, to hem, to blow his nose, and to wipe his brow. ‘Go on, sir, I command.’

‘I cannot deny, my lord —— nay, I confess —— though it cost me the post I hold and drive me out into the world —— that I concealed from Mr. Forster the reasons why I left Oxford without a degree. I hope that your lordship will consider my subsequent conduct to have in some measure mitigated the offence.’

‘What was the reason?’

‘My lord, I was expelled.’

The Bishop nodded his head as terrible as great Jove.

‘So, sir,’ he said, while the unlucky man trembled before him, ‘so, sir, you were expelled. This is truly an excellent recommendation for a tutor and teacher of young gentlemen. Pray, sir, why this punishment?’

‘My lord,’ the poor man replied in great confusion, ‘suffer me of your patience to explain that from my childhood upwards I have continually been afflicted —— affliction must I needs call that which hath led me to the ruin of my hopes —— with the desire of mocking, acting, and impersonating; also with the temptation to write verses, whether in Latin or in English; and with the love of exciting the laughter and mirth of my companions. So that to hold up to derision the usher while at school, which caused me often to be soundly switched, was my constant joy —— even though I had afterwards to cry —— because my fellows laughed at the performance. Or I was acting and rehearsing for their delight some passage from Dryden, Shakespeare, or Ben Jonson, which I had seen upon the stage.’

‘In plain language, sir, thou wast a common buffoon.’

‘Say, rather, my lord, with submission, an actor —— histrio. Roscius was rather my model than the Roman mime.’

‘As thou wilt, sir. Go on.’

‘Your lordship cannot but remember that at every public act the Terræ Filius, after the Proctor, hath permission to ridicule, or to hold up to derision, or to satirize ——’

‘Man,’ cried the Bishop, ‘I had partly guessed it. Thou wert, then, a Terræ Filius.’

‘My lord, it is most true.’

The Bishop’s face lost its severity. He laughed while Mr. Hilyard stood before him trembling, yet a little reassured. For, to say the truth, he expected nothing but instant dismissal.

‘The Terræ Filius,’ said the Bishop. ‘There were many of them, but few of much account. Some were coarse, some were ill bred, some were rustic, some were rude —— here and there one was witty. The heads and tutors loved better the coarse than the witty. Ay, ay! They expelled Tom Pittie when I was a bachelor, and they made Lancelot Addison, afterwards Dean of Lichfield, beg pardon on his knees. So, sir, you were the licensed jester of the University? An honourable post, forsooth!’

‘It was not so much, my lord,’ Mr. Hilyard went on,‘for my jests before the University, as for certain verses which were brought home to me by the treachery of a man, who —— but that does not concern your lordship.’

‘Of what kind were the verses?’

‘They were of a satirical kind.’ Mr. Hilyard pulled out his pocket-book, in which he kept memoranda, receipts, bills, and so forth. ‘If your lordship would venture to look at them. I keep always by me a copy to remind me of my sin.’ He found a worn and thumb-marked sheet of printed paper. ‘In Latinity they have been said to have a touch of Martial or Ausonius at his best —— but I may not boast’. He placed the verses in the Bishop’s hands, and waited, with a look of expectant pride rather than of repentance: he was no longer a confessing sinner, or a jester brought to shame; but, rather, a poet waiting for his patron’s verdict of praise or blame.

The Bishop read; the Bishop smiled; then the Bishop laughed.

‘The matter, truly, is most impudent, and richly deserved punishment. The style, doubtless, deserved reward. And for this thou wast expelled?’

‘My letters recommendatory, my lord, made no mention of the thing. Indeed, they were all written for me by those scholars who were my friends and companions.’

‘Well, sir, it is done, and I suppose you have repented often enough. For so good a scholar might have aspired to the dignities of the Church. It is an old tale: for a moment’s gratification, a lifelong sorrow. You laughed as a boy, in order that you might cry as a man. You might have become Fellow, Dean, Tutor, even Master; Rector of a country living, Canon, Prebendary, Archdeacon, or even —— Bishop. There are, in these times, when gentlemen fly from the Church, many Bishops on the Bench of no better origin than your own. You are steward to a country gentleman; keeper of farm and household accounts; fellow-toper, when his honour is alone; jester, when he hath company.’

‘I know it, my lord,’ replied Mr. Hilyard humbly. ‘I am Mr. Forster’s servant. Yet, a faithful servant.’

‘I know nothing to the contrary. Why have you not, during these six years, asked for the money promised at the outset?’

‘Oh, my lord —— consider —— pray —— I am under obligation of gratitude to a most kind and generous master, and a most considerate mistress. They subsist, though his honour would not like it stated so plainly, on the bounty of your lordship and my lady. Should I presume to take for myself what was meant for his honour?’

The Bishop made no reply for a while, but looked earnestly into his face.

‘Either thou art a very honest fellow,’ he said, at length, ‘or thou art a practised courtier.’

‘No courtier, my lord.’

‘I believe not. Now, sir, I think it will be my duty to advise her ladyship that no change need be made. But further inquiry must be made. Continue, therefore, for the present, in thy duties. And, for the salary, I will see that thou lose nothing.’

He then began to ask, in apparently a careless fashion, about the manner of our daily life, hearing how Tom spent his days in shooting and so forth, and showed no desire for reading, yet was no fool, and ready to receive information; how the hospitality of the Manor House, though not so splendid as that of its late owners, was abundant, and open to all who came, and so forth; to all of which the Bishop listened, as great men use, namely, as if these small things are of small importance, yet it is well to know them, and that, being so small, it is not necessary to express an opinion upon them.

‘I hear,’ he said, ‘that certain agitators continue to go about the country. Do they come here?’

Mr. Hilyard replied that Captain Gascoigne and Captain Talbot had been to the north that year, but that Mr. Forster was not, to his knowledge, in correspondence with them.

‘It is important,’ said the Bishop, ‘that no steps be taken for the present. There are reasons of State. See that you encourage no such work. I take it that my nephew is popular, by reason of a frank character and generous hand, such as the Forsters have always displayed, rather than by learning or eloquence.’

‘Your lordship is right. If I may presume to point out a fault in my patron ——’

‘What is it?’

‘It is his inexperience. He hath never, except to Cambridge, gone beyond his own county. Therefore he may be easily imposed upon, and led —— whither his friends would not wish him to go.’

To this the Bishop made no reply, but fell into a meditation, and presently rose and left Mr. Hilyard among the ruins.

‘I expected,’ said Mr. Hilyard, when he told me of this discourse, ‘nothing short of an order to be packing. Nothing short of that would do, I thought, for a man who had been expelled the University for holding up the Seniors to derision. Alas! I have been a monstrous fool. Yet I doubt not I should do it again. When wit is in, wisdom is out. There was a man of whom I once read, “He might have saved his life could he have refrained his tongue.” But he could not. Therefore, he said his epigram and was hanged, happy in the thought that his bon-mot would be remembered. Like good actions, good sayings live and bear fruit beyond the tomb. My satire on the Senior Proctor —— the Bishop laughed at it. Think you that many Bishops in the future will not also laugh at it?’

‘Is it so very comical, Mr. Hilyard, that it would make me laugh? For, you know, my sex are not so fond of laughing as your own.’

He replied, a little disconcerted, that the chief points of his satire lay in the Latin, which I could not understand.

The business of the day, namely, the conversation between Lord Derwentwater and Lord Crewe, took place in the evening, after dinner. Our guests were divided into two sets, one of which consisted of the older and more important gentlemen present, and the other of the younger sons. The latter spent their evening in the kitchen under the refectory, where they were perfectly happy, if the noise of singing and laughing denotes happiness. I saw Tom’s face grow melancholy as he sat between Lord Crewe on his left and Lady Crewe on his right, listening to discourse on grave and serious matters, while all this merriment went on below. Strange it was to see at the same table an English Bishop and a Catholic Earl.

When the servants were gone, Tom rose in his place and reminded his friends that they were assembled there in order to afford an opportunity for a conference between Lord Crewe, the Bishop of Durham, on the one hand, and Lord Derwentwater, with the honest gentlemen of the county, on the other. This conference being happily arranged, they would remind each other that they had with them the most venerable of the party, one who could remember Noll Cromwell himself, and had voted for King and Bishops before Charles II. came back. With which words he asked them to drink to the Prince.

After this they began by all, with one consent, talking of the latest intelligence, and of the great hopes which they entertained; how the Queen was reported to lean more and more to the cause of her brother; how the people of London were fast recovering their loyalty; and how the country, save for a few pestilent and unnatural Whigs, was Jacobite to the core; and so forth. It seemed as if I had heard that kind of talk all my life. If it was true, why could they not recall the Prince at once, and without more to do? If it was not true, why try to keep up their spirits with a falsehood? The plain, simple truth does not do for men; they must have exaggerations, rumours, see everything greater than it is. Otherwise, there would be no such thing as a party.

‘To one wise man,’ said Mr. Hilyard to me, speaking privately of this matter, ‘it seems as if, things being weighed, the for and the against, the scale inclines this way. To another wise man, the scale inclines that way. To the followers of those wise men who cannot weigh the arguments, or even perceive them, the scale kicks the beam. The more ignorant the partisan, the more thorough he is. Wherefore, the Lord protect us from wars of religion, in which every common soldier knows more than his officers.’

While this kind of talk went on, the Bishop sat quiet and grave, saying nothing; while Lord Derwentwater listened, and Lady Crewe smiled graciously on one after the other as they appealed to her.

When each had said what was in his mind on the matter of loyalty, the Bishop invited Lord Derwentwater to tell the company, who had never had the happiness of seeing the Prince, what manner of man he was to look upon.

‘In person, my Lord Bishop,’ he replied, ‘His Highness is tall, and inclined to be thin, as his father was before him. He is, although so young in years, already grave in manner; he speaks little; he is rarely heard to laugh; he hath little or nothing of the natural gaiety of young men in France. He rides well; his personal courage cannot be doubted, having been sufficiently proved at Oudenarde and Malplaquet; he is familiar with the names of all his friends. For instance, in Northumberland, he knows that he can reckon on Tom Forster’—— here my lord bowed to Tom, who reddened with pleasure, and drank off another bumper to the Prince ——‘and on Mr. Errington’—— here Mr. Errington did the like, and his lordship went on to name other gentlemen, especially Protestants, in the room.

‘If a woman may ask the question,’ said Lady Crewe, ‘we would hope that his character for religion and virtue, as well as for courage, is such as to endear him to the hearts of those who would fain see princes of blameless life.’

At this time the Prince, then only two-and-twenty years of age, though he had not acquired the reputation which afterwards made many of his friends in England cold to him, was by no means free from reproach —— indeed, there are many who throw temptation in the way of a prince —— and Lord Dewentwater paused before he replied.

‘As for religion,’ said my lord, ‘I know that he hath been most religiously educated, and that his mother is a saintly woman. So much I can depose from my own knowledge. For, if my Lord Bishop will pardon the remark, there were more masses at St. Germain’s than many about the Court would willingly attend. As for virtue, there have been rumours —— are there not rumours of every Prince? One must not repeat idle reports.’

‘One would wish to know,’ said the Bishop, ‘if the Prince hath a martial bearing, and one which may encourage his followers. Let us remember the gallantry of Prince Rupert, and the cheerful courage of young King Hal at Agincourt.’

‘I have never seen him,’ Lord Derwentwater replied, ‘with troops. I know not whether his face would show the cheerful courage of which your lordship speaks. That he is brave is well known. If he is less at home in camp than in his Court, we must thank the Queen, his mother, and the good priests, his instructors, who have made him, perhaps, fitter for heaven than for earth.’

‘I very much doubt it,’ said the Bishop, with a smile.

It was wonderful to think that here was a young gentleman who had actually been brought up with His Highness, and conversed with him, and was telling us about him.

‘Well,’ said the Bishop, ‘they may have made him fitter for the Mass than the march. Pity —— pity —— a thousand pities that his father must needs throw away his crown for his creed —— your pardon, my lord —— when he had already, had he pleased, the ancient, yet reformed, Church of England. It likes me not. I would rather he were more of a soldier and less of a priest. These things are well known to me already, but I wished that these gentlemen here also should hear them. For, believe me, all is not yet clear before us, my lord. I have watched the times for fifty years and more. The crowd hath shouted now for one side, and now for another; but never, saving your lordship’s presence, have their greasy caps been tossed up for a Roman Catholic. And, even if the general opinion be true, and the voice of the country be for the young Prince, I am very certain that he will not win the English heart, and so secure his throne, unless he consent to change his religion.’

‘It may be so,’ replied the Earl. ‘Yet sure I am that he will never change his religion.’

‘Then,’ said the Bishop, ‘if he comes home this year, or next, the very next year after his priests will get him sent abroad again. We are a people who have religion much upon the lips —— and it is the Protestant religion —— but it hinders not the luxury of the rich or the vices of the poor. There are still living among us —— I say this in presence of you Catholic gentlemen —— those whose fathers and grandfathers have spoken with men and women who remembered the flames of Smithfield. Your lordship is young, but you will never —— I prophesy —— no, never —— see England so changed that she will look without jealousy and hatred upon a court of priests.’

‘The King may surround himself, if he pleases, with Protestant advisers,’ said the Earl. ‘We of the old faith are content to sit at home in obscurity. Your lordship will not seek to burn us. We ask but toleration and our civil rights.’

The Bishop shook his head.

‘Will he be allowed?’ he asked. ‘Meantime, my lord, it does my heart good to see you —— still a young man and an Englishman —— no Frenchman —— back again among your own people. Trust me, you will be happier here than at St. Germain’s or Versailles. Believe an old man who was about the Court for nearly thirty years: it is an air which begetteth bad humours of the blood —— with jealousies, envies, and heartburnings. He who waiteth upon Princes must expect rubs such as happen not to quiet men. And, young man,’ he laid his hand upon the Earl’s shoulder, ‘listen not, I entreat you, to vapouring Irish captains or to Scotchmen disappointed of their pensions, or to soured English Papists, or to those who have waited in antechamber till rage has seized their heart. Let us remain on the right side. Some day it will prevail. On that day the voice of the whole country will call their Sovereign home. It may be that they will make him first embrace the faith as contained in the Thirty-nine Articles. Justice is mighty, and shall prevail. But, gentlemen, no plots! And you, sir, as you are the nearest among us all to the throne, so be the most cautious. Set the young hot heads of the north a good example. Gentlemen’ —— he rose, tall and majestic, with white waving locks and stooping shoulders, and his wife rose at the same time and gave him her arm ——‘my lords and gentlemen, Anglican or Catholic, whether of the old or the reformed faith, I give my prayers for the rightful cause, and to all here the blessing of a Bishop. Yea!’—— he raised his tall figure to the full height, ‘the blessing of one who is a successor of the Apostles by unbroken and lineal descent and right divine!’

Lord Derwentwater bent a knee, and kissed the Bishop’s hand. Then the company parted right and left, bowing low, while the old Bishop, with his lady and her niece, left the room.

Chapter x.

A Tender Conscience.

So, for prudence’ sake, and for carefulness, and to avoid the charges of an open house, we remained at Blanchland until the New Year.

Before her departure, Lady Crewe held a long and very serious talk with Tom, the nature of which I was not told at the time. For many days afterwards he was graver than was his wont, and talked much about his place in the county; he reprimanded Mr. Hilyard, also, when he spoke of sport, for thinking of nothing more worthy his attention (whereas the poor man thought of sport not at all, save only to please his patron), and he made inquiry about the House of Commons, the duties and privileges of members, and how a gentleman may rise to eminence in that august assembly, from which I conjectured that some plan had been laid before him by my aunt. He spoke also of matrimony and of heiresses, saying that a man in his position, although his estates were embarrassed, might look as high as anyone, and that London was the place to find a rich gentlewoman —— not Northumberland, where the families were so large and the times grown so peaceful that of heiresses there were none in the whole county.

‘Sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘I know little concerning the ways of the great, yet I have walked in St. James’s Park and seen the ladies followed by the beaux, few of whom can be compared with your honour for comeliness and strength; while there are many who cut a fine figure in the park and the theatre, yet have never an acre of land in all their family.’

Tom was twenty-seven by this time, no longer in the first flush of manhood, but a handsome fellow still, though beginning a double chin and inclined to be corpulent. As regards the pursuit of an heiress, I never heard anything more about it, and conjecture that it was a part of her ladyship’s advice offered, but not carried into practice. In matters of gallantry, our North-country gentlemen are sadly to seek —— nor do the ladies expect it of them; and an heiress and a fine lady of London would have so many beaux following her, that a plain man would have very little chance, however good his family.

Presently, Tom grew tired of keeping his own counsel, and therefore told us —— I mean Mr. Hilyard as well as myself —— all that had passed. Her ladyship was, he said, most gracious and kind. She assured him that the restoration of her own family to their lost wealth and former position was all that she now lived for, saving her obedience to her husband; that she had no longer any hope of children, and that while Lord Crewe’s Northamptonshire property would go to his own nephews, nieces, and cousins, he had most generously given to her the bestowal of the Northumberland property, which she was resolved upon bequeathing entire to her dear nephew.

This was good hearing indeed. But better was to follow. The Manor House was to be maintained as before, and a reasonable allowance was to be made to Tom out of the revenues of the estate. He was, therefore, once more master of Bamborough, and we might still sit in the chancel without feeling that we were usurping that place of honour. All was to be Tom’s.

Yet there were conditions —— just and reasonable conditions I call them, and such as should have been accepted without a murmur. But men are so masterful, they brook not the thought of bridle or of rein. First, Tom was to remember that he was no longer a young man, and that such follies as sitting up all night drinking and singing in the company of young gentlemen whose expectations and fortunes were far below his own, should now cease; that on the retirement of his father he was to become Knight of the Shire in his place; that he was to go no more to races and matches where money is rashly and wickedly lost; that he was to take unto himself, in reasonable time, a wife of good stock and approved breeding; and that, finally, as regards politics and the Party, he was to take no important step, at any time, without her ladyship’s consent and approval.

These conditions Tom accepted, yet grumbled at them.

‘Why,’ he said, ‘I am already seven-and-twenty, and am still to be in leading-strings. As for drinking, Heaven knows it is not once a month that we have a bout —— is it, Tony? Well, two or three times at most; as for racing, if a gentleman have a good horse why should he not back him for a few pounds? Is one to be for ever counting up the pence and watching how they fly? As for a wife, all in good time. When Dorothy marries, perhaps, or when —— but Heaven sends wives.’

‘The conditions, sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘appear to me such as your honour would do wrong to refuse, because they can never be enforced; nor can her ladyship ascertain whether or no they have been obeyed, except as to the matter of Parliament, in which there can be no doubt that it would be greatly to your honour’s interest to learn something of the affairs of the nation, if only with a view to those great offices and positions of State which will, doubtless, some day be forced upon you.’

‘Well,’ Tom replied, ‘it is something to have in the house one who can talk a man into anything. Why, Tony, if her ladyship ordered me a flogging at the cart’s tail, I warrant you would make it out to be very much in my interest.’

We were not without company, especially in the autumn, for Hexhamshire and Allendale Commons abound with wild birds and game of all kinds: there are grouse, blackcock, partridge, bustard, wild-geese, ducks, water-rail, heron, peewit, teal, and snipe; also for those who care to shoot them there are eagles, hawks, falcons, kestrel, and kite; so that if gentlemen came there was always at least game for the table, and he who sits down to a coursed hare, a brace of partridges, a rabbit-pie, or from the farm a Michaelmas goose or fat capon, need not complain about his dinner.

They came, therefore, across the moors for the sake of the sport, or for friendship with Tom, or to enjoy the singing and play-acting of the jester, or perhaps some of them —— I know not —— on account of myself. It is nigh upon thirty years ago. Alas! the pleasant times are gone. Wherefore let me, without boastfulness, but with gratitude, remember the days of my youth, when men took pleasure in such beauty as had been granted to me. I could tell (but refrain, because this book is not about myself, but my brother) how Perry Widdrington and Ned Swinburne quarrelled about me, and were like to fight —— the foolish boys —— as if running each other through the ribs would make a girl love either of them any the better. I had a deal to do with them: for, first their honour was concerned; then they had said such words to each other as required, and would have, the shedding of blood; next —— they were old friends from childhood, and it was a shame for each to treat the other so —— they would be revenged; lastly, what right had either to interfere when it was plain that the other was in love with Dorothy?

I told these boys that they were a couple of fools; that if they fought I would never speak with either of them again; that as for their religion, they were undeserving the name of Christians, who must forgive one another; and that, if they wanted further speech of me, they must immediately shake hands and be brothers again. At last they consented, and, with melancholy faces, shook hands upon it. Why they were sad over it I know not, because this handshaking saved the life of one and might have given the other a bride; only that the lady, when their hands had been given, told them she was sorry, but she could take neither. So they went away glum, and would not forgive me for a long time. There was also young Tom Clavering, who gave much trouble, being more persistent than most, and had to be spoken to very plainly. I might certainly have married one of these young gentlemen; but I know not how the family pot would have been kept boiling, or a roof kept over our heads, for they were all younger sons, with a poor forty pounds a year at most for all their portion, and the great family house to live in while they pleased; and not one with any thought of bettering himself. Young men think that the pot is filled with wishing, and that love provides beef as well as kisses. They were brave and gallant boys; much I loved to see their hearty faces and hear their merry laugh: but I could not regard them with the favour which they wanted, and for a very good reason —— because there was another man who had already fired my heart, and insomuch that, beside him, all other men seemed small and mean.

This, then, was the manner of our life at Blanchland, among the ruins which the old monks had left, and their melancholy ghosts. Sometimes I, who was as strong of limb and as well able to do a day’s march as any, would go with the gentlemen when they went shooting. Pretty it is to watch the dogs put up the game —— the grouse running in the cover, the swift whirr of the coveys, and the snipe with their quick flight and their thousand twistings and turnings, designed to deceive the huntsman and to escape his shot. Sometimes I would don riding-dress (but not coat, hat, and wig, as some ladies are reported to do nearer London), and ride with them after the fox, well pleased if, as often happened, Master Reynard escaped the hounds, putting the hounds off the scent by crossing a stream; or, but this was seldom, I would get up early in the morning, and go with them otter-hunting, which is too rough a sport for a girl and too cruel, with the fighting of the dogs and the killing of the poor brute at the end. After every party there was the finish of the day, with the feast —— rough and plenty —— the flowing of small-ale, stout October, and whisky punch, and Mr. Hilyard always ready, after his first glass or two, to play Jack Merryman for the company; and the Rev. Mr. Patten, if he was there, ready to bow low at every remark which my brother might make, and to say ‘Hush!’ when he was going to speak, and to sigh when he had spoken as if Solomon himself had uttered out of his boundless wisdom another proverb. When the punch began to go round I withdrew.

One of the most frequent visitors, as I have said already, was this Reverend Robert Patten, Vicar of Allenhead, for whom at the very outset I conceived a violent dislike. He came, I doubt not, partly in order to ingratiate himself with one who had two livings in his gift, and partly in order, if possible, to obtain a recommendation to the Bishop, and partly in order to get, at another’s expense, as much drink as he could carry —— and more. For my own part, I deplore the practice of taking too much wine, even among gentlemen, but in a clergyman it is truly scandalous. As for the enmity between Mr. Hilyard and this disgraceful minister, that by no means abated, but quite the contrary; so that, after the formal greeting, they exchanged not a single word, both making as if the other were not present.

At last I asked Mr. Hilyard for the cause of this bad blood between them.

‘It seems to me,’ I said, ‘that Mr. Patten, whom I confess I like not, is open to no other charge than that of drunkenness, which alone should not make him hateful in your eyes. We must not, Mr. Hilyard, judge our brethren too severely.’

‘It is true,’ he said, ‘that the sight of his sleek face and thick lips makes me angry, and sometimes almost beyond myself. Yet I pray, Miss Dorothy, that you hold me excused.’

This I would not do, but pressed him to tell me all, which he did after much hesitation.

‘A Christian must not hate his brethren,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘but he may, I suppose, regard him with contempt. It is with contempt that I look upon Bob Patten. Know, therefore, Miss Dorothy, that we were at Oxford together, and of the same College. If I may say it without vanity, my parts were tolerable; but Bob was ever a dull dog. Had I not imitated the part of the Prodigal Son, I might now have been a grave and reverend Fellow —— perhaps the Tutor.’

He had already told me of his foolish conduct as regards the satire against one of his superiors.

‘Alas! the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil are greater to some than to others. There are, I am sure, many men who are tempted by none of the things which drive some of us to madness. I am myself drawn as by strong ropes whenever I hear the sound of a fiddle, the clinking of a glass, and the voices of those who laugh; if there is a church on one side of the street and a theatre on the other, I have no choice, but must needs go into the theatre. This was my ruin. Though I studied in the morning, I drank, and sang, and made verses in the evening. So I became known to the Proctors, and an object of suspicion.’

‘But what has this to do with Mr. Patten?’

‘Creeping Bob neither sang (because his voice was like the grating of rusty nails upon a slate), nor drank (because no one would give him or trust him), nor made merry (having been born on the shady side of the street), nor offended Proctors and Tutors, hoping maybe, but in this he hath been mistaken, to make up for muddy wit by nice morality, and perhaps to get a Fellowship and a fat College living. This conduct made him deservedly popular with his fellows, and gained him the glorious title of Creeping Bob. As he was then, so is he now.’

‘But, Mr. Hilyard, ought the prejudice of youthful days to be considered sufficient cause for so great a contempt?’

‘Nay —— but there is more. For certain small natural gifts’—— he assumed an air of humility which was nothing in the world but pride in a vizard ——‘which have been my plague; namely, that I could make epigrams (yet Martial himself was always a dependent on patrons, and lived in poverty) and verses (poets are allowed to be a ragged race) and orations, whether in Latin or in English, and either in the comical or the serious vein, and could in half an hour write more and better to the point than dull-witted pates such as Bob can do in a year —— I got a reputation, and was presently regarded with terror by every Doctor of Divinity and reverend person in the University, because whatever was whispered of scandal, as of one grave Professor being carried home brimful of punch, and another —— but these are old stories —— suffice it that the next day there was dished up, hot and hot, such a course of verses, satires, epigrams, and secret history as made the Fathers of the University tremble. And though they knew the hand which wrought these verses, they could not prove the fact.

‘Perhaps I had still escaped, but for a dastardly act of crowning treachery. For I had got safely to my third and last year, when I ought to have been presenting myself for a degree in Arts, with my string of syllogisms. Then, indeed, my life would have been different; instead of a servant —— whose fetters, Miss Dorothy, you have most generously covered with silk’—— he bowed low and his voice shook ——‘I say, generously covered with the finest silk, so that they have not galled the limbs of him that wears them, I might have been now a great preacher, or a grave scholar, a credit to my father’s care, and a monument and proof of answer to his prayers. Yet I lost all for the glory of a single set of verses.’

I knew already that he had committed this great madness. It seems incredible that young men can be found so eager for applause that they will even stake the hazard of a life upon the laughter of an hour. But this, Mr. Hilyard did.

‘As for my oration at Commemoration, that,’ he went on, ‘might have been passed over, though there were angry threats uttered. Yet it was allowed that a better oration than mine had never been made by any Terræ Filius in the memory of man. What did my business was a satire on the Vice–Chancellor, which the next day went about from College to College. There was no name to it, but everybody knew who wrote it. This gave them an excuse for bringing forward my speech before the Heads, and while one wanted me to be forgiven, and another to write me for two years in the Black Book, and another to send me down altogether, lo you! the President of my College settled the matter for me, for he lugged out of his pocket a letter in which the writer, whose name he withheld, said he felt moved by the extraordinary tenderness of his conscience to disclose the fact that the author of the satire was no other than Mr. Antony Hilyard, of his own College, and offered proof, not only as regarded the last production, but of every epigram and squib about which noise had been made for a whole twelvemonth. After that there was no more to do. They sent for me, the letter was read before my face, and I was expelled. The writer of the letter was no other than Creeping Bob. This the President himself afterwards told me. If I had been Aristides the Just they could not more unanimously have voted my expulsion.’

This, then, was the reason of his animosity. Certainly, no one can deny that it was a good and sufficient reason.

‘Doth Mr. Patten know ——’

‘I believe he knows it not. Yet, he who has once injured a man always fears that man, and would injure him again if he could. There is a way in which he could do me another wrong. I doubt not he will some day discover this method.’

‘But how can he hurt you now?’

‘When I was expelled, there was nothing for it but to run before my creditors in the town got wind of my misfortunes. It is ten years ago, but creditors never forget, and, were they to learn where to find me, a debtors’ prison would be my lot. If Mr. Patten is so officious as to tell anyone in Oxford —— well, at nineteen one is a fool, but sometimes folly is punished worse than crime. I had no right, being penniless, to have debts at all; nor should I, the son of a vintner, have presumed to wear white linen, lace ruffles, and silver buttons. Yet I did, trusting to pay when I was made a Fellow, as is the custom at the University. Wherefore I go daily in terror of the bailiffs, and at night lie down thinking that Newcastle Gaol is my certain end.’

‘Surely, a minister of the Church would not ——’

‘Bob Patten would if he thought of it. As for the mischief which he tries to work between his honour and myself, there, indeed, I defy him.’

So for the present the conversation came to an end. But I turned the matter over in my own mind, and watched the two. I saw that Mr. Patten still cast upon the man whom he had injured malignant scowls when he thought himself unobserved, and I found an opportunity to converse privately with him as well.

I began by asking him whether he had known Mr. Hilyard in former times.

He confessed that their acquaintance was of old times, when they were young and at the same College together; though, he added, they were never friends or of the same way of thinking. For which he piously thanked Heaven.

Thereupon, I asked him further if there were anything, so far as he remembered, against the private character of Mr. Hilyard —— other than might be alleged against any young man.

Here Mr. Patten hesitated. Presently, he said that as regards character a great deal might be said; but, indeed, a young man who was expelled the University for intolerable license, railing accusations, exaggerated charges, and unspeakable disrespect towards his superiors, had need of all that could be said for him; still, he would say nothing, only that, as he had reason to believe, there were many tradesmen of Oxford, honest creatures, who had trusted his word, and now would gladly know where Mr. Hilyard could be found.

Upon this I stopped him short, and informed him in plain language that, as no one could tell these tradesmen except himself, he must understand, once and for all, that the favour of Mr. Forster, if he hoped anything from it, depended on his observing silence.

‘Let there be,’ I added, ‘no letters of a “tender conscience,” Mr. Patten’—— at this he started and looked confused ——‘I say, let no letters of a “tender conscience” be written. Remember that. Should anything be done by Oxford people, it shall certainly be laid at your door, though, to be sure, a body would be sorry if a godly minister, such as yourself, should suffer from an injurious suspicion.’

Mr. Patten, who had turned first red and then pale, at mention of a letter of conscience, protested that he bore no malice towards Mr. Hilyard; and that, so far as the Oxford people were concerned, he had nothing to make or meddle in the matter.

Then I went farther. I said that Mr. Hilyard had now been in the family for a great many years; that he had always shown himself faithful, silent on occasion, and honest; that he was a gentleman of most ingenious mind and great parts; that not only Mr. Forster but also Lady Crewe entirely trusted him. Wherefore, if any distrust should arise in the minds of these, or either of these two, it could be none other than the work of a private enemy; and I plainly bade Mr. Patten beware, lest, through any hostility of his own, he should cause such a distrust, because, in such a case, he would have others besides Mr. Hilyard to encounter, and the truth should be wholly laid before the Bishop.

He protested again that nothing was farther from his thoughts than to create any such mischief; that he was a man who loved peace and friendship, and so forth. But he looked angry and troubled, his fat lips shook, and his small pig-like eyes winked.

Enough of this villain for the present.

Chapter xi.

Daphne.

I have not yet spoken of our most honoured visitors, the three Radcliffe brothers. They all came often, but the eldest most often. The reason of his coming you shall presently discover. As for all the three, though they conformed to our customs, and especially in the hospitality for which the north is famous (to the destruction of many a fine estate), they loved not to sit long over their wine, and left the table when the night was yet young, and the bottle but just beginning. The example of Lord Derwentwater’s manners shamed our young gentlemen of their rusticity, though it drove them not from the whisky punch. Thus Tom, for instance, began to take part in discourse which was serious and grave, as ladies like it. With the assistance of Mr. Hilyard and my lord, we held a great many conversations on those curious matters —— theological, philosophical, scientific, and so forth —— which do most concern the soul. To recall some of these old conversations of a happy time, the question was once argued by us whether Abraham was not the first institutor of public schools; and again, why the Fallen Angel is called alike the Son of the Morning and the Prince of Darkness; and another, whether a good painter may not draw a face better and more beautiful than any yet made; and whether it is right for a good patriot, who loves his country, and should desire to beget children for its defence, to become a monk or a nun; whether eyes or tongue help most to love; why a wet sheet tied round a cask prevents the liquor from freezing in the hardest weather; whether the fall of Lucifer was the occasion of the creation of the world; what is the best argument to prove the existence of God; whether the death-watch gives a long or a short notice; why Alexander called his horse Bucephalus; how the flying of kites may be improved to the public advantage; why fish taken from the salt sea taste fresh; what sort of Government is best? who are Gog and Magog? why the stork is never found except in a Republic; who was the father of Louis XIV.? whether the best times are already past, or are yet to come —— with many other questions and curious problems, invented or found for us by Mr. Hilyard, who enriched every discussion with so great a flow of learning as astonished those able to follow and understand him. It was pleasing at these times to observe the shamefacedness of those gallant boys, Perry Widdrington and Ned Swinburne; how they listened, and pretended to be regarding the speaker and his manner of dealing with the subject in hand; and how, presently, they either fell asleep or stole gently away, and so to their tobacco and October.

‘My lord,’ said Tom, ‘is a gentleman of the finest breeding; yet, hang it, he won’t drink! He can ride with the best, and shoot with the best —— pity that so strong a man should have head so weak.’

‘In Paris,’ I replied, ‘it is, happily, not the fashion for gentlemen to drink.’

‘Na —— na. Fashion —— fashion! we gentlemen of the north care nothing for fashion. Drinking will never go out of fashion in this country. A man ought to sit with the company and see the bottle out, not to get up with a “By your leave, gentlemen,” and so off to the women before the toast goes round half-a-dozen times. Let me tell you, sister, my lord and his brothers will never be truly popular till they learn to take their glasses about with the rest.’

Tom was wrong, because the Earl’s good heart made him everywhere beloved. It is better, methinks, to carry all hearts by generosity and virtue than to be popular in a company of gentlemen for strength of head, like any Timothy Tosspot. Why, Mr. Hilyard was popular among those who knew nothing of his scholarship and fine qualities, because he was never known to fall under the table while there was another man still sitting up. Any brewer’s man may become popular for the same cause.

‘My Lord Derwentwater,’ said Mr. Hilyard himself, who was not, in spite of his own practice, a respecter of those who love strong drink —— see how men can admire virtue, and even love her, yet still practise what they despise! ‘My lord is all goodness, I think. He reads books; he hath received a liberal education from the Jesuit Fathers, and can quote from Tully, the Mantuan, and even the great Epicurean poet. It is long, indeed, since so great a nobleman was also so good a scholar. At the University of Oxford, alas! the sons of gentlemen and noblemen are encouraged to pass their time in any pursuit rather than reading. And in Northumberland the gentlemen have been too busy, until late years, upon their Border frays to regard learning greatly. My lord is truly a Phoenix among them. Pity that he still adheres to the old religion. Faith, Miss Dorothy, may surpass reason; but must not oppose it. Yet, as hath been well observed, religion lieth not so much in the understanding as in the practice.’

Thus it happened that on many occasions my lord would leave the gentlemen over their cups and sit with me, conversing on all kinds of subjects, such as his relations with the Prince, his life in Paris, and his projects for the future. He opened up his mind to me in such a way as only a young man, in the society of a woman whom he trusts, can open his mind. I may truly say that I found him always inclined to good works, of the most benevolent disposition, and full of kindness, without any meanness, vice, or blemish in his character. Why do I say these things? His nobleness is so well known that for me to add my testimony is but like carrying coals to Newcastle. One thing I learned very plainly, that my lord, though of so great a name and estate, desired nothing in the world so much as to remain in ease and retirement; to be what his great-grandfather had been (there is no happier lot in the world), a plain country gentleman, and so to live and die. Yet with such loyalty that he knew well, and acknowledged, that when the Prince’s followers made a serious effort, he too, at risk of all, must arise and go with them. Wherefore he prayed daily that the voice of the nation might pronounce —— yea, shout loudly —— for the Prince, so that a restoration, not a rebellion, might follow. But for vapouring conspirators he had no patience, and to such he would never listen.

‘It gives me pleasure,’ he said (so kindly was his heart) ‘to converse with you, fair Miss Dorothy; nowhere else do I find so kind a listener. For if I talk with my brother Frank, he presently flies into a rage at the country’s treatment of Catholics; and if to my aunts, they reproach me for lukewarmness towards the Church, whereas, Heaven knows —— but that may pass; and if to your brother, he falls into his cups, and then he may say one knows not what. There is wisdom in your face —— which I have made to blush —— forgive me. Dorothy,’ he whispered, ‘have your lovers never written any verses on your blushing cheeks?’

I told him that gentlemen in Northumberland do not make verses on ladies at all.

Afterwards I told this pretty compliment (which was made with all respect) to Mr. Hilyard, who laughed, and said that it was high time for the Muses to exchange Parnassus for the Cheviot, or for Spindleston Heugh at least.

Then my lord began to tell me of the ways in Paris, and how the ladies were called by names other than their own sometimes a name made by an anagram, and sometimes by a name taken from classical story.

‘As for you,’ he said, ‘you should be called Daphne, after the nymph who was turned into a laurel. Daphne or Dorothy, which may I call you?’

We were walking along the south bank of the stream, where it rises in a hill, and is covered with hanging woods. Tom was gone a-shooting, and, though it was late in the year, the yellow leaves were still upon the trees, and there were flowers yet among the grass.

‘Daphne, or Dorothy —— which?’

‘Oh! my lord, I am a plain country girl, and know not the language of gallantry.’

‘Heavens!’ he replied. ‘If such a face could be seen in the land where this language is talked! But that, fair Daphne, is impossible. The French ladies are gracieuses, but they have not the beautiful face and figure of our English women, any more than their country has the charms of this, which is surely the garden of all the world.’

Could any woman hear such things said to her for the first time, and by a man so young, so handsome, and so noble, and not lose her heart? Why, I am proud to think that this divine young man made love to me; it makes me happy to remember it. I confess that I was ready to give him my hand and my heart. I should be ashamed of myself now if I had not been ready, because it would argue a head so insensible that a negro of New Guinea would scorn. And yet, whether I be believed or no, I declare that I had no thought of securing a coronet and a great estate. This was so. I was a simple country girl, but of an honourable house; a Radcliffe could do a Forster no honour by marrying her. I was unused to the polite world, ignorant of courts, and untrained in arts of coquetry. Again, I had no knowledge of a woman’s power, nor could I lure a man; nor did I know aught of the strength and passion of love, jealousy, or rivalry, save for the things Mr. Hilyard read to me out of Ovid —— such as the stories of Cephalus and Procris, Hero and Leander, Sappho and Phaon. It was by no arts of mine that my lord was attracted to my side. Yet a woman is not a stock or a stone; and when I saw that he loved me —— why, truly, I need say no more.

Some days after he called me Daphne I found lying on my table, written in a feigned hand, a copy of most beautiful verses. Who could doubt the poet?

‘Like apple-blossom, white and red; Like hues of dawn, which fly too soon; Like bloom of peach, so softly spread; Like thorn of May and rose of June —— Oh, sweet! oh, fair! beyond compare, Are Daphne’s cheeks, Are Daphne’s blushing cheeks, I swear.

‘That pretty rose, which comes and goes, Like April sunshine in the sky, I can command it when I choose —— See how it rises if I cry, Oh, sweet! oh, fair! beyond compare, Are Daphne’s cheeks, Are Daphne’s blushing cheeks, I swear.

‘Ah! when it lies round lips and eyes, And fades away, again to spring, No lover, sure, could ask for more Than still to cry, and still to sing: Oh, sweet! oh, fair! beyond compare, Are Daphne’s cheeks, Are Daphne’s blushing cheeks, I swear.’

Never, sure, were verses more beautiful. I read them again and again. I took them to bed with me, just as a little maid takes her doll with her. I knew them all by heart, and blushed ——

‘That pretty rose, which comes and goes, Like April sunshine in the sky’—— whenever I said them to myself. Who could have written them but my lord? I waited for his next visit, and showed the lines to him, thinking he would have confessed. Ah! the pretender! He read them with an air of astonishment so natural that it might have imposed upon any, so that I did not dare charge him with what he was too modest to acknowledge.

‘Daphne,’ he said, ‘they are pretty verses indeed. I would I could find such rhymes to fit my thoughts. Prior himself hath never written better. Alas! why am I not a poet?’

So he read them again, and when he read the last lines,

‘Oh, sweet! oh, fair! beyond compare, Are Daphne’s cheeks, Are Daphne’s blushing cheeks, I swear,’ he stooped and kissed my hand, saying:

‘Ah! Dorothy, are there in all the world cheeks more sweet than thine?’

Thus we talked, and in such sweet discourse the days passed by. I have sometimes wondered whether Tom suspected that, while he was tramping the moors, fowlingpiece in hand, Lord Derwentwater was turning his sister’s head with compliments, and stealing away her heart. Mr. Hilyard knew and witnessed all, but I understand not why he grew every day more gloomy, insomuch that Tom declared he now wanted six glasses of punch at least before he became moderately cheerful. Why should he not, since he protested so much affection for me, be the happier for my happiness? And why should he, when I went singing, go with his head hanging? He ought, further, to have been happy because Lord Derwentwater noticed him kindly, condescended to ask his opinion on many matters of importance, and listened gravely to his conversation.

‘Such a man,’ he said, ‘would in France be a poet and wit in the service of some great lord, or he would be a hanger-on of ladies’ salons and ruelles, making verses for them, writing operas and comedies. He would be admitted to the suppers of princes, where he would sing and recite and play a thousand monkey tricks. He would be just such a man as Boisrobert, the favourite of the Cardinal fifty years ago, or Benserade, or Voiture, or any of them. He would be an abbé at least, and presently would get something, a canonry, a prebend’s stall, or even a parish. What can such a man do in England?’

Such a man might, Mr. Hilyard himself told me, go to London, find a patron, write plays, and perhaps obtain a place; or he might be the starving wit of a coffee-house, the hack of a publisher, and die in a garret.

‘It is melancholy,’ Lord Derwentwater continued, ‘to see so fine a scholar thus wasted and thrown away. Not,’ he added, ‘that any man can be thrown away to whom it is allowed to sit daily in your presence and to hear your voice. But a man of such vast reading, with a memory so prodigious, should have climbed high up the ladder by now. He should be a Court Chaplain, or a Dean; whereas what is the poor man but a Jack Pudding in the evening and a steward in the morning? A play-actor need not know Greek nor a steward Hebrew. And when Tom Forster marries —— what?’

‘Mr. Hilyard will always have one friend,’ I said. ‘Who loves me must love him too.’

‘I would love an ape for your sake,’ he replied. ‘Therefore I find it easy to love this ingenious gentleman and unfortunate scholar.’ So, one day, I ventured to ask the poor man why he grew so melancholy.

He said, first of all, that he was not melancholy, but brimful of spirits and joy, to prove which he heaved a deep sigh.

‘Nay,’ I said, ‘but I know the contrary. Tell me —— why, surely you, to whom I owe so much gratitude, cannot think I am careless of your concerns. Tell me, dear friend, if it is anything I can help.’

‘It is nothing that you can help,’ he said. ‘I am, in truth, the most ungrateful dog in the world not to be jumping about and singing all day to give you pleasure;’ and yet here he fetched another sigh. ‘I think of the future, when you will go and I remain. But since you will be happy, what matters it for me?’

‘Oh, Mr. Hilyard! I could not be happy if you were miserable. We have been companions so long. Do you think I could ever forget your readings and your talk, from which I have learned all I know? Nay —— but let me whisper one thing. See —— there is one who —— who —— pretends to find pleasure in my society. He knows very well that he who loves me must love my Mr. Hilyard as well.’

Mr. Hilyard hath a heart full of sensibility. He bowed and kissed my hand, and said nothing. But tears were running down his cheeks.

Chapter xii.

Frank Radcliffe.

The second of the brothers came seldom. He was a grave lad: he neither laughed nor made merry, nor rode a-hunting like his two brothers. In figure he was the tallest of the three; but stooped in walking, so that he seemed the shortest. He was possessed of a strange melancholy, of which he was never quite free, although sometime he would seem to shake it off and talk bravely for a while. He was like his uncle, Colonel Thomas Radcliffe, in his temperament, being as moody and as full of strange fancies.

‘It is a disease,’ said Mr. Hilyard, speaking of Francis Radcliffe’s melancholia, ‘for which there is no known remedy, while the causes are subtle and manifold. The patients are subject to strange fancies and illusions; some have thought themselves made of glass and others of feathers; some are held down with fear, and others inflated like bladders with wild hopes; some suffer the curse of Apuleius, in that dead men’s bones are always held before them: a strange disease indeed. Yet melancholy men, as Aristotle insisteth, are often witty.’

Mr. Hilyard, therefore, regarded this young gentleman with a peculiar curiosity, and loved nothing so much as to talk with him and learn his thoughts. First of all he discovered that this boy was strangely given to the study of all books which he could find upon the unseen world, such as book on oracles, conjuring, of spirits, predictions, astrology, and so forth. On meeting encouragement he opened his mind to Mr. Hilyard and took counsel with him. There was no subject in the world, I believe, in which our most ingenious Oxford scholar was not versed. Therefore Frank learned from him how to conjure spirits, raise the dead, cast nativities, and so forth, and that is to say, all that books can teach.

‘Which is,’ Mr. Hilyard said, ‘everything except the essential. I mean, Mr. Radcliffe, that you may question the stars, but you must read their answer yourself, because they are silent; and you may question the dead —— these books tell you how —— but I doubt if they will reply.’

Nevertheless they began to amuse themselves with casting horoscopes and nativities, erecting celestial figures and the houses of heaven; Mr. Hilyard all the time protesting that the thing was a foolish invention, and useful only in that it taught something of the planetary courses. Yet he, like his pupil, watched anxiously for the event; and when, not in one case only, that of Frank himself, but also of the Earl and my brother Tom, the future which they hoped to find lovely and fortunate came out gloomy and threatening, all the signs menacing, Mr. Hilyard became terrified and would have no more of it, saying that though it was a vain thing, yet to continue in it might be the sin of tempting Providence, such as that committed by Saul; and that as for him, he would ask of the stars no more. Now if the future they had seen in this mirror of coming time had been bright and happy, would they have ceased to inquire? I think not; and strange it is that this thing which so many learned men and philosophers teach us to despise, is yet on occasion believed in even by themselves.

We had many conversations upon these subjects, which, like the tales of ghosts, are always curious to people of every age and rank. Mr. Hilyard, after speaking of the practice among the ancients, one day discoursed upon the common and vulgar methods practised by people in all countries and in times ancient and modern.

‘Some, for instance,’ he said, ‘look in a magic ball of glass, when they see not only the future but also the present, and what is being done in far countries. Others fill a basin with water, and behold the same as in a mirror. Others read the future by dreams, and others by cards; while by the flight and number of birds, the crowing of cocks, the first words heard in the morning, the luck of the day is determined. Some have placed barley on the letters of the alphabet, and noted the order in which a fowl will pick up the ears.’

‘My maid Jenny,’ I said, ‘reads fortunes by the hand.’

‘It is palmistry,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘and a most curious art, though, like the rest, it is vain and useless; while, it hath been held by some, the Lord hath stamped the future of man upon every feature, so that, if we could learn it, we might read in the curve of an eyebrow, the lines of the lips, the turn of the chin, a sure and certain prognostic of what will happen to us before we die. With your permission, Miss Dorothy, we will examine the girl in this matter.’

Jenny was called, and I asked her first to read my hand. She replied, looking ashamed, that she had read it many times; but when I commanded her to tell me what she saw there, she hesitated and changed colour, and then replied, like a gipsy at a fair when you cross her hand with a groat, that there was a fair young gentleman of a great estate, and that she saw a wedding-ring and happiness as long as a summer day, with beautiful children. But it was manifest that she said what she thought would please me. Then Mr. Hilyard bade her look at Mr. Frank’s hand, into which she peered long and with a strange curiosity. After a while she dropped his hand, and turned to Mr. Hilyard, saying:

‘Now yours, sir,’ and read it glibly as if from a book, saying, ‘The line of life is long, but the course of love is crossed. There is wealth for you, and honour; but no wife and no children. No one hath everything.’

‘But mine,’ cried Frank ——‘what is mine?’

But she replied not, running away. When afterwards I rebuked her, she acknowledged that she could not tell him what she read, so bad and unlucky it was. She also told me that her grandmother, the old gipsy woman of whom I have spoken, had also told the fortune of Mr. Frank by cards, and that it came the same as her own telling, which made me marvel.

‘Ask no more,’ said Mr. Hilyard; ‘and you, girl, keep these things to yourself, else the people will get strange notions into their heads.’

The people had already got into their heads strange notions. First this girl of mine had filled the place with the terror of the ghosts she saw. Next it was said that she was a witch, and ought to be thrown into a pond. Perhaps that would have been done, but for fear of us. Then it was said that she had bewitched a certain young fellow of the place named Job Oliver, a hind. They told Mr. Hilyard that Job would do whatever foolish things Jenny told him to do; that he would sometimes rise when she was not in the company, and say that Jenny called him, and so go to her; that he looked not as he was wont to look, but went about with eyes distracted and trembling hands.

‘She is a witch,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘just as all women are witches; and she hath bewitched this foolish lad. But the only arts, I think, are those which she practises in common with all her sex, namely, her eyes and her face. In a word, the fellow is in love.’

I spoke to her on the subject, and she confessed, though she looked confused, that it was as Mr. Hilyard said, and that if the man chose to be in love with her she could not help it; perhaps he did and said foolish things, but she could not help that either; and he must do what he pleased. The girl was saucy about it, but yet one could not reprove her, because it makes every woman saucy and self-conceited, when a man is in love with her. When she crossed the quadrangle or entered any of their houses, the people looked askance and put thumb in fingers, but yet were monstrous civil, because they feared her. Witch or not, she did none of them any harm (I do not believe that a pig which died at this time was overlooked by her, though this was charged upon her). As for Job, after we went away he presently recovered, looked about him, became once more a cheerful wight, forgot his enchantress, and married another woman, who made him happy in such sort as rustics understand happiness; that is to say, every year a thumping boy or girl, and every Sunday a great dish of fat bacon. And as for Jenny herself, she paid no heed to what was thought, but went about with an impudent answer for all except her mistress, and a saucy laugh, and singing as she went, as if there was no such thing in the world at all as witchcraft, and she had no powers and gifts above those generally conferred upon young maids —— namely, the bewitching of eyes and face, soft speech, and lovely limbs. Yet all the time a deceitful hussy. I knew not then, though I learned afterwards, that she met Frank Radcliffe secretly, and taught him, I believe, her arts of prediction, and even sent him to see her wicked old grandmother (who I am quite sure was another Witch of Endor), when the camp came once to Hexham. What they told him, between them, I know not; but in the end it became manifest what a gipsy woman can do when a young gentleman is foolish enough to listen to her wiles.

Not knowing these things, I begged Frank to give up this pursuit of his, as a useless, idle, and curious practice. He acknowledged that the priest gave him similar admonition, but yet that he continued, though he knew that he was wrong. Religion forbids it, that is most sure; if the art were sure and certain, he is foolish, indeed, who seeks to know the coming misery, or anticipates the coming happiness. Let us only live in the present, looking forward with sure and certain hope to the life where there will be no shedding of tears or thought of trouble. Why could not Frank let the future alone? The present, which he spoiled by this curiosity, should have been to him full of happiness, because he had everything that the world has to give —— youth, health, strength, riches, and a good heart. What more doth God give to any?

‘Why,’ said Frank, ‘what am I to do? There is nothing in this country for a Catholic gentleman to do. We may not hold commissions in the army; we cannot act as magistrates; we cannot enter the Universities; we cannot go into Parliament; we can hold no office, and are cut off from all employment. What wonder if some of us sit down to drink and hunt, and nothing more? Why should the country be afraid of a handful of gentlemen who have kept their old faith?’

Truly it was a hard case; yet what to do? We must not have the Pope’s subjects in our Houses of Parliament.

‘Well,’ he went on, ‘what am I to do with myself? I am a younger son, with a younger son’s portion —— enough, but not great riches. You have shut up all the doors; you treat us with suspicion and contempt; you call us Papists. I knew not till we came home how despised a creature is an English Catholic.’

‘Nay,’ I said, for the young man had worked himself into a passion, and the tears were in his eyes, ‘you have but to ride through any village in Northumberland to see the contempt with which a Radcliffe is regarded. Fie, Master Frank! you have been abroad so long that you know not the English heart. It may be, as you say, that the Catholics are excluded from civil rights. Is it not because it is believed that you love Pope first and King second? But it cannot be that there is nothing for you to do.’

‘Oh yes,’ he said bitterly, ‘there is always something. I may go to Douay, and so presently come back with shaven crown, and even be made some day, if I am fortunate, a Bishop in partibus.’

All this was true. There were here three brothers rich in gifts and graces. The eldest should have been a great statesman, the second a great scholar, and the third a soldier.

Yet because their grandfather chose to remain in the old religion, when the people were ordered to change for the new (because it is foolish to suppose that all the country gentlemen and the very rustics and hinds had wit and learning wherewith to argue for or against the faith), they were all condemned to idleness. Wherefore the eldest, who had the estates, the wealth, and the power, resolved on spending his life in good works, and the advancement of the poor committed to his trust; and the second became melancholy, and troubled himself about things hidden from mankind; and the third —— he was only a boy as yet —— was going to become a beau, and to follow all the pleasures of the town. Why, what a waste of gifts was here! And all for the Mass which stood between.

‘As for my lord,’ said Tom, ‘he is very well. He rides as straight as can be expected. His shooting will improve, and no doubt he will learn to put his money on matches and fights, though at present he cares little about such sport. And as for Charles, it is a promising boy and well-plucked. But as for Frank, he does nothing at all; he will neither laugh, nor sing, nor drink, nor hunt —— what is to be done with him? Tony, he loves your company. Can you make nothing of him? Can you not even make him drink?’

‘Indeed, sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘the English law opens to a young gentleman who is a Papist no opportunity at all for distinction. He must therefore either be made a priest or remain a sportsman. He has his choice between a saint and a cock-fighter. Mr. Frank, though born to be a scholar, has little calling to the saintly profession, and none at all for cock-fighting. So that unless he changes his disposition or his creed, he is likely to remain in his present melancholy.’

‘As for the cure of melancholy,’ Mr. Hilyard went on, ‘there are many things enumerated by the learned Burton. Borage, for instance, or bugloss, of which Helena’s famous bowl was made, after drinking which she felt no grief or remorse; marigold, put into broth; hop, which may be infused into ale, and taken by melancholy men with advantage; betony, the root of which is sovereign for the causing of mirth; penny-royal, wormwood, and other herbs, any of which may be taken by Mr. Francis without fear.’

‘Give him,’ said Tom, ‘a bowl of punch after a day’s hunting; make him dance after a pretty woman. A fig for all your herbs, and broths, and messes, Tony! Betony for the causing of mirth! Why, then, to-night, instead of whisky punch you may have a mess of betony.’

But Frank Radcliffe’s case was beyond the reach of herbs, and not even a bowl of punch would help —— partly because he could not drink punch.

I spoke about him to my lord, who owned that he could do nothing for his brother.

‘There is among us a strain of melancholy. My uncle, Thomas Radcliffe, hath it, and cannot be cured, though he wears a chalcedony in a ring, and hath taken medicines of all kinds, both simple and mineral, yet none to cure him. I doubt not Frank will be like him. Yet it is a good sign that he sometimes leaves the library to come here. The law, of which he justly complains, is hard upon us all. Yet we cannot alter it by crying. The Jesuit Fathers made of him a great scholar, and wanted to make him one of themselves, and in the end a priest —— nay, perhaps a Bishop, or even a Cardinal. Higher than that one need not look unless one is an Italian, when the Triple Crown itself of Christ’s Vicar on earth is possible. It is long since we had a Bishop in the family, and a Cardinal never. But if Frank will not, he must content himself with having such amusements as he can find for himself which will please a simple scholar and a private gentleman. He will grow wiser and merrier in time as he grows older. Meantime, we are as yet strangers in the country, and have much to learn. For the people are not like the people whence we have come; the gentlemen are not like those at St. Germain’s; the ladies are not like those my mother (who hath never seen the north) taught me to expect —— namely, hoops and patches and courtesies and fine sayings, instead of Arcadian shepherdesses, and the charms of Nature —— and fair Dorothy.’

Alas! To think that the melancholy of this unhappy young gentleman was caused by so humble and insignificant a person as my maid Jenny. Yet, strange as it seems, there is, in fact, no person in the world so humble and so insignificant —— not even a shepherd boy, a hind, a stable-help, a scullion —— but he can do mischief. The story how one was so desirous to achieve fame and so helpless by himself, being dull of understanding and unlearned, that he was fain to fire and destroy the noblest temple in Asia Minor, the ruins of which remain to this day, and have been seen by travellers, is, I think, an allegory.

Chapter xiii.

Christmas Eve.

Now I come to tell of a fortnight of so much happiness that I can never forget it, or tire of remembering it. Every day —— nay, every hour of that happy time, lives still in my mind, though it is now nearly thirty years ago, and I, who was then eighteen, am now well-nigh fifty, and am no more beautiful. This matters not, and before long, if it please merciful Heaven, I shall be beautiful again. This time was so happy to me because it changed an admirer into a lover, and a woman who waits for love into a woman who has received love. Call me not an old maid, I pray you, though I am no wedded wife and mother of a husband’s children, because I have enjoyed the love of a man and exchanged with him those sweet endearments which are innocent and lawful between a young man and a maid who love each other. She alone is an old maid who hath never been wooed; into whose eyes no lover hath gazed to rob her of her heart; whose hands have never been pressed; whose ears have never listened to the fond exaggerations with which a lover pleads his passion, and tries to tell how great and deep it is, though words fail. But, as for me, I have been loved by many, and I have loved one —— yea, I have loved him —— alas! alas! —— with all my heart and with all my soul; yet, I hope and pray, with innocency of heart, so that this my passion may not be laid to my charge, for though I loved him well, I loved, or tried to love, my God better. And this, too, I will show you.

The time was Christmas. My lord kept open house at Dilston for his friends and cousins, as many as chose to come (but he invited Tom and me); his farmers and tenants, and all the poor people around, even counting those of Hexham, so generous he was. During all the time from Christmas to Candlemas there was nothing but the roasting of beef and the eating of it, with the drinking of ale and everyday amusements such as men of all sorts and conditions love: as quarterstaff, cudgels, wrestling, fighting with dogs and cocks, and so forth; the people of the town flocking to see it —— the gentlemen not ashamed of getting a bloody crown from a rustic champion; the rustics proud to prove their mettle before the gentlemen, and pleased to drink to them afterwards. A busy and lively time —— the maids running about to see the shows, and more eager to witness a wrestling-match than to do the dairy-work; the grooms talking and playing with the girls, and no one reproaching them; no one zealous for work but the cooks and serving-women, who had a hard time of it, poor souls, continually roasting, boiling, laying of cloths, bringing of meat, carving it for hungry men, carrying pails of beer and pouring it out into the brown jugs with their great heads of foam. Yet none grumbled: the more they served the merrier they became. Cooks are only happy when they are at work; between whiles they are irritable, short of temper, and grumbling at the hardships of their lots and the shortcomings of scullions. But when they are bending over stew-pots and griddles, they are truly happy. Perhaps a sense of the blessings of plenty at such times is felt by their souls, so that, in a way we little regard, they may be lifted upward by the contemplation of a rib or sirloin, with fat and lean in goodly show. I have seen a cook gaze upon a leg of mutton with tears in her eyes, as one who hears a sweet strain of music, or considers the picture of a handsome man.

A girl who goes on a visit to so grand a house as Dilston, among ladies who have lived in London and gentlemen who know the splendours of a Court, is naturally troubled about her clothes, and thinks a great deal beforehand of the fine things she has to show. It would have gone hard with me, whose frocks were all of country-make and most of rough and cheap material (my petticoats for daily wear of homespun), but for the late visit of Lady Crewe. For I had no pin-money of my own, or any allowance from my father, who considered that I now belonged to Tom and her ladyship. Fortunately I am clever with my needle, and so was my maid Jenny. Tom, poor fellow, had no money to give, because he spent it all in his amusements; all, that is, which he got from Durham. Besides, most men, though they are careful about their flowered waistcoats and gold buckles, seem to think that for women brocade grows wild on every hedge, and satin hangs in rolls from every tree. Now before she went away Lady Crewe called me to her room, and then,after causing me to be measured (which showed that we were both of a height), she brought out a great parcel of fine things —— treasures, they seemed to me —— saying kindly:

‘Child, the granddaughter of Sir William Forster, of Bamborough, should be able to go as fine as her neighbours. Since thy brother loves to have thee with him, it shall be the care of thy mother’s sister to see thee dressed becomingly on occasion, so that no one, gentle or simple, may think that a Forster is not as good a lady as any in the county.’

Had it not been for this munificent gift, which came in pudding-time, so to speak, I should have gone to Dilston crying instead of laughing, because my petticoats were so short and my best frock so shabby. Alas! we grow old, and fine things, which once set off rosy cheeks and bright eyes, only serve now to hide the ravages of time.

So that, thanks to the kindness of Lady Crewe, I could reflect without dismay upon the grand dresses of the ladies Katharine and Mary; and though the day on which we rode across the dark moor to Dilston was so cold, with driving sleet and a bitter wind, that my horse was led and my face kept covered with a hood, my heart was quite warm when I remembered that on one of the pack-horses behind (I was fain to brave the blast in order to look back and see that the animal had not been blown away) were safely packed my silk-quilted petticoat, altered to fit my waist, and none could tell that it was not new; my French girdle, very pretty; my sable tippet lined with Italian lute-string; my velvet frock, made for Lady Crewe in London by a Court dressmaker, and very cunningly altered for me by Jenny —— that girl should have made her fortune in dressmaking; my cambric and laced handkerchiefs, laced tuckers and ruffles, French kid gloves, very fine (Tom gave me these, having bought them at Newcastle one day when he rode and won a match of twenty pounds a side); my satin apron; my French à-la-mode hood; my petticoat and mantua of French brocade; my cherry-coloured stays; and, for morning wear, my frocks of painted lawn, checkered shade, and watered tabby. As for my head-dress, I had considered this important subject with Jenny, and resolved that I would wear (as most suitable for my age and unmarried condition) a low coiffure, with falling lappets, such as Jenny could easily arrange, even though the elder ladies should think fit to appear every day in high commodes. I was also happy in the possession of an étui, which had been my grandmother’s —— a vastly pretty thing, with a gold watch, and places for scissors, knife, pencil, ivory tablets, box for thimble, another for aromatic vinegar, and a third for perfume (my favourite was from childhood the same as Lady Crewe’s, namely, bergamot), and a multitude of pretty, old-fashioned things worked in gold, such as little birdcages, eggs, tiny anchors, and so forth, and a seal with the family coat of arms and the Forster legend:

‘Let us dearly then hold To mind their worthiness, That which our parents old Hath left us to possess.’ Enough said of a simple girl’s finery, though in truth it made me happy at the time to think that I could stand among great ladies and not be ashamed of my homely dress. Perhaps it makes me happy still (or rather less sorrowful) to remember the things which caused my first happiness. Mr. Hilyard (he came with us) says that a great Italian poet declares that the memory of past gladness makes more sad the present sorrow. It is presumptuous to set up an opinion against a poet; but this is very certain, that there is one woman to whom all her consolation (besides the hope of the future) lies in the memory of the past. Why is joy, which comes so rarely and flies so swiftly, given to men except to be a lasting memory and consolation? The summer of our North Country is short, and the winter is long; yet all the year round we think of the sunshine, and in the cold winter eat with gratitude the fruits and harvests of the summer. So should it be with our hours, days, or years of happiness. In the cold winter which follows —— love fled, friends dead, fortune lost, pride destroyed —— our hearts should be warmed and our pains consoled by the mere thinking upon the vanished joys, just as I still think upon my stay at Dilston. Shall not an old man comfort himself with thinking of his former strength, and an old woman with the thought of her former beauty? I myself, being now in middle life and no longer comely, remember with grateful joy that my beauty once gave pleasure to all who looked upon it, loveliness in woman being, like the gracious sunshine, a gift for all alike, even to those who value it least and are insensible to its delight. To be sure, in those days I knew nothing of the pleasure which all men feel, rich and poor, young and old alike, though some are more insensible than others, in the contemplation of a lovely woman, so that some have beautiful faces painted on their snuff-boxes, and do gaze upon them constantly, even to the wasting of their time and the troubling of their heads, as the Greek gazed upon and fell in love with, and pined for, his statue, until Venus changed the marble into flesh; though it hath never been related that a miracle was wrought with a snuff-box, and one has never heard that a painted face has been transformed into a beauteous damsel.

Well, Dilston was reached at least, after that cold ride; and you may be sure that Tom Forster bawled lustily for hot mulled ale. We found the castle full of the Radcliffes, and all the great house astir with guests and servants and preparations for the feast.

My expectations proved true. The ladies Katharine and Mary were richly dressed indeed; yet with something sombre and nun-like, as was said to be affected by Madame de Maintenon, the French King’s wife. The gentlemen were dressed in the plain Northumberland fashion, except the Earl and his two brothers, who, after the manner in which they were brought up, dressed with great richness; even Charles, the youngest —— who was not yet at his full height, and only fifteen years of age, and wore his own hair tied behind with a crimson ribbon —— had a silk coat, a flowered waistcoat, white silk stockings, and red-heeled shoes. Everybody was so good as to compliment me on the appearance which I made. Even the ladies kindly said that, though my maid was only a country girl, she had so dressed my hair as to give it a modish look, and that no one could have looped my frock better, or shown a richer petticoat.

‘It is the first Christmas we have spent at home,’ said the Earl. ‘We must forget none of the old customs of the country. Besides, they are all Catholic customs, which is another reason for keeping them up.’

‘Mr. Hilyard, my lord,’ I said, ‘will have it that many of these are pagan, though transferred to Catholicism, and long ago adopted by the Church.’

He laughed, and called me an obstinate little Puritan.

The supper was served in the great hall, decked with holly and mistletoe; a Yule-log was blazing upon the hearth; the side-tables were dazzling with the Radcliffe plate; and the tables were covered with Yule-cakes, which are, in the north, shaped like a baby, and Christmas pies in form of a cradle, not to speak of goose-pies, shrid or mince pies, caraway-cakes, brawn, sirloins, turkeys, capons, hams and gammons, pheasants, partridges, hares, and everything good and fit for man’s delight. When all was ready and the company assembled, they brought in the boar’s head, maids and men following, all lustily singing ——

‘Nowell, Nowell. Tidings good I have to tell.’

There were but moderate potations at the supper, but some of the gentlemen made up for it afterwards; and when supper was done, the company all left the table together and sat down to cards, which must never be omitted on Christmas Eve, if you never touch a card on any other day. There was a basset-table, and a quadrille-table, and a pool of commerce. I played at the last with my lord, Charles, and others; and I won twelve shillings, which made me tremble to think what I should have done if I had lost so much. Indeed, I had not so much as twelve shillings in the world. After the cards we played another game —— everybody to say what most he loved and least he liked. In such a history as this it would be folly to record how my lord vowed that most he loved Dorothy’s smiles, and most he dreaded Dorothy’s frowns. Nevertheless, it must be owned that these compliments are pretty things; they keep up the spirits and courage of a girl, and her good opinion of herself, which is a great thing. Mr. Errington, of Beaufront, who was one of the company, said many pleasant things, pretending to be twenty years younger, and to mistake me for my aunt, the beautiful Dorothy Forster, whose suitor he had been. Of course I knew that he flattered me; but yet I was pleased. To have such pretty things said by so old a man is like a sweet golden russet of last year in the month of April. As for Charles Radcliffe, that mad boy swore loudly that he would be Miss Dorothy’s knight, and pranced about singing, with gestures like a Frenchman, that sweet old song:

‘Charmante Gabrielle, Percé de mille dards, Quand la gloire m’appelle A la suite de Mars, Cruelle départie! Malheureux jour! Que ne suis je sans vie Ou sans amour!’

‘We are in England, Charles,’ said his brother; ‘we are at home. Let us have no French songs.’

For some of the gentlemen looked dissatisfied. The language of gallantry and compliment was not greatly to their liking, and Tom even burst out a-laughing at hearing his sister so praised and complimented. This made me blush far more than any compliment. One does not except of a brother the praises and flatteries of a suitor; but at least he should not be wholly insensible to a sister’s beauty, or laugh at men who praise it. But then Tom always loved his gun, his horse, his dog, and his bottle better than any woman. Presently he went away, with most of the others, to sit over the wine, and there were only left my lord and his brothers, the ladies, Mr. Howard, the old priest, and Mr. Errington; and these, left to themselves, sat about the fire and told stories suitable to the time of year.

Strange, indeed, that men should be so venturesome as to doubt the truth of what hath been most abundantly proved! Yet Lord Derwentwater laughed at the stories of the Northumberland ghosts, for no other reason than that they had no ghosts at St. Germain’s. But Mr. Howard, who had lived in the county before, and knew, shook his head, and the ladies looked at each other with surprise, and Mr. Errington solemnly reproved this doubter.

‘My lord,’ he said, ‘there is not a Northumbrian, man, woman, or child, that believes not in the appearance of apparitions; nay, most of us have ourselves seen them. You have spent your youth in towns and Courts where, to be sure, there is little chance of meeting fairies. When you have learned the savage wildness of the moors, the solitude of the woods, and the silence of the long winter nights, you will speedily be converted, and doubt no more. Northumberland, without her ghosts and fairies, would be but half populated.’

‘Truly,’ said the Earl, ‘one ghost, methinks, were as efficacious as a hundred for the conversion of a doubter.’

He then spread a cushion on the carpet, and sat or lay upon it at my feet, saying:

‘In France they call them old wives’ tales. Let us hear of our North-country ghosts from young lips. Tell us some of your most frightful, Miss Dorothy.’

Thus invited, I was greatly confused; but with the assistance of Mr. Errington, who helped me, and suggested one history after the other, I boldly began upon the stories current among the people, and substantiated by evidence which cannot be denied: videlicet, that of the persons who themselves have seen the visions and appearances described.

The Earl knew nothing. He had been allowed to grow up in a most astonishing ignorance of the county ghosts. As for his brother Frank, he already knew something, having perhaps learned it (though of this I was then ignorant) of Jenny Lee and of others, being a youth of inquiring mind, who asked questions. It was astonishing to think that a Radcliffe should grow to years of manhood without having heard even of the Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh, or the Seeker of Dunstanburgh, or the fairies brought to Fawdon Hill by the Crusaders, or of King Arthur at Sewingshields, the Monk of Blinkburn, Jeannie of Haselrigg, or Meg of Maldon.

‘Let us all,’ said my lord, ‘go seek in Dunstanburgh, and dig into the earth at Sewingshields. Yet stay, how would King Arthur agree with the Prince, should both return together? Methinks we must first consult his Highness. Go on, fair story-teller.’

Then I began to tell of things more certain; not so ancient, and witnessed by people still surviving. Then the two old ladies, who knew better than myself the stories of Northumberland, nodded their heads, caught each other by the hands, held their breath, shook forefingers at their nephew, and asked in the pauses between the stories, ‘Was there ever before a Radcliffe who had to be taught these things at one-and-twenty?’ Pretty it was to see how much these ladies thought of their nephew, and how their kind eyes rested upon him with happiness.

Also, while I told my tales, I saw how Frank listened, with large sad eyes, and sighed, as if for the mere pleasure of listening to such stories, as one who was for ever considering how to converse with the dwellers of the other world. It was plain that he was ready to believe —— ay! and even to see —— whatever he was told. Of such are those who most frequently behold spectres, see visions, and have strange dreams. He breathed quickly; he sighed; he looked round him as if in the dark depths of the great hall, and among the figures in armour, behind the tapestry, there lurked the very shades and appearances about which we were speaking. As for old Mr. Errington, he reminded me of this story and of that, filled up the details, wagged his head, and, like the Lady Mary, shook his forefinger at my lord —— the Didymus or Unbeliever. There was also Mr. Howard, the priest —— an old man, too, of venerable aspect. He sat with his chin upon his hand, less occupied with the stories than with gazing upon the young lord of all, as he lay at my feet, the red light of the fire playing upon his face, which was upturned to look upon mine.

Simple things, yet terrible, are the omens and appearances in this haunted county.

I trembled while I told of the ghostly and shadowy hearse which, especially in the winter nights, rolls slowly and silently —— an awful thing to see —— up and down the roads till it comes to the house where the death is going to happen, and how the farmer once going home from market saw the hearse stop at his own door, and knew that one of his family would die. There were six tall sons, each one strong and brave, and three daughters, each one beautiful; and there was his wife. Which would be taken? The rest of that story is enough to convert the greatest scoffer, as well as to turn the sinner to repentance. Then there is the wauf, or figure of the person about to die seen by another person. Surely it is a most dreadful thing to have the power of seeing the wauf, for if one sees it, there arises a doubt and difficult question: should the person who is to die be told of it, or not? If he be told, he may fall into despair; and if not, then a great opportunity of seeking grace for the soul is lost. There is also the brag, which may assume whatever shape it pleases, as a calf, or a bundle of wood, or a hare, or a rick of hay, or anything which its tricksy and mischievous imagination may choose to order, to confound and tease a poor man or woman. And then there are the actual ghosts, whose number is in our country legion —— such as Jethro Burnet, the miser, who walks to lament the loss of his money-bags; the wretch who hanged himself, and hath since found no rest; the poor girl who was murdered, and the man who murdered her —— the former beside the pool wherein she was cast, and the latter by the gibbet, at Amble, where he was hanged in chains; Meg of Maldon, who walks of a night between Maldon and Hartington; the poor wretched woman who wanders on Hexham Moor at night, shrieking and crying (at Blanchland she could be heard plainly when the wind was high) because she killed her child with neglect, and now suffers —— one knows not for how long —— this misery. All these things were certainly intended for our admonition and warning. Again, there are the white figures which sometimes appear to fly from under the foot of the belated traveller; there is the strange and well-authenticated story of Nelly the Knocker; that of the Ghost of Silky; that of the fairy changing the little dwarf Hobbie; how a lad going forth one night to walk with his sweetheart, found her changed into the Devil; with many other strange and true stories, showing what may be expected, and hath already been witnessed in the county.

They listened, as has been told. They looked fearfully about the room. No one thought that in five short years Dilston Hall itself would be left to decay, and, in ten years more, another mournful figure would be added to the troop of Northumberland ghosts.

‘This,’ said my lord, when I finished, ‘is a fitting North-country termination of a Christmas feast; to sit after supper and tell bugbear tales. Fair narrator! you have so well done your part, that henceforth, I promise you, I will accept them all. I doubt no longer. If I were to meet Silky herself, I should not be surprised. If I heard Nelly the Knocker, or saw Meg of Maldon walking in the corridor, or the ghost of my great — grandmother ——’

‘Nephew,’ said Lady Katharine gently, ‘do not mock; the spirits of our ancestors may be round us at this moment, with our guardian angels. Vex them not, lest when we go to join them, they meet us with angry countenance.’

‘Enough of ghosts,’ said Mr. Howard. ‘To-morrow is Christmas. It is always the time to think about the next world, and sometimes we may hear these tales, which, true or not, help to keep faith alive; and these are times, Master Frank’—— he laid his hand upon the boy’s shoulder ——‘when we must rejoice in the present, feast, make other people joyful, and be glad ourselves.’

Chapter xiv.

Christmas to Twelfth Night.

Thus began the Christmas, which we kept with such royal state. It has been stated that this was a political meeting. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There was not, during the whole time, one word spoken concerning politics. It is true that my lord treated Tom as a private and especial friend, and showed him a very singular kindness throughout. It is also true that no two gentlemen could be more unlike each other than these two; for, while one was well read and loved books, the other knew little save what he had been taught, and read nothing but Quincy’s ‘Dispensatory,’ and his book on ‘Farriery.’ Also, one loved the society of ladies, and the other did not; one cared nothing for drinking, which to the other was his chief delight; one loved poetry and music, which to the other gave little or no pleasure. One went habited with due regard to his rank, having a valet to dress him; the other was careless of his dress, generally going about, on his shooting and other business, in great boots and a plain plush coat, stained with wine and weather.

‘Friendship,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘commonly with young men, goes by opposites. If Jonathan resembled his father, he had nothing of David’s disposition in him; yet were they friends in youth. The great Coligny and his malignant enemy, Guise, were once close friends, each admiring points of unlikeness. Perhaps my lord and Mr. Forster admire also, each in the other, points of unlikeness.’

Although the party consisted both of Catholics and Protestants, there were no discussions on that account; for, in Northumberland, so many families still belong to the old religion that we can meet each other without quarrelling. It must not, therefore, be thrown in Tom’s face that he was a secret friend of Papists. This has been said of him with injustice. In truth there was never a stouter Protestant, though his lawful Sovereign belongs, unhappily, to the opposite faith. Yet so tolerant withal. ‘Each,’ he would say, ‘for his own religion. Live and let live. But not to meddle with the endowments of the Church or to suffer Papists and Nonconformists to enter into the Universities.’

On the evening of Christmas Day there was performed for our pleasure the old play of ‘Alexander and the Egyptian King,’ by village mummers from Hexham and Dilston. The mummers were dressed up with ribbons and finery in rags and tatters; on their heads they wore gilt-paper crowns; they carried swords, and had a fiddler with them who played lustily all the time, whether the speakers were delivering their words or not.

First came the great King Alexander —— he was a blacksmith by trade, and a very big and lusty fellow, who wore a splendid crown of gilt paper and a rusty breastplate; he flourished a sword and marched valiantly, strutting like a game-cock after a fight. Then he pronounced his verses, and brave verses they were, though afterwards he quite forgot that he had promised to produce for us Dives and a Doctor. The Doctor came in due course, but we looked in vain for Dives, and a great moral lesson was lost. Everybody would like to be rich, yet few know the danger of riches or their own weakness in temptation. After him came the King of Egypt and his son Prince George; the King was stricken in years, and somewhat bent by rheumatism and his trade, that of shoemending; but the Prince was a lad whom I knew for as famous a hand with cudgel or quarterstaff as one may hope to see at a country fair. There was no reason why he should wish to fight Alexander, yet it seemed natural that they should, immediately on meeting, hurl words of reproach at each other and fly to arms. A most terrible and bloody fight it was which followed, the combatants thwacking and hacking at each other in such earnest as made one tremble, save for the thought that the swords were but stout ash-twigs painted blue, fitter to raise great weals than make deep cuts. The fiddler, meantime, ran round the pair, shouting while he played; and the King, so far from feeling terror for his son, clapped his hands and applauded, as we all did. It was arranged that Prince George was to be killed, but such was his stubborn nature that he refused to lie down until the great conqueror, a much heavier man than he, had first covered him from top to toe with blows and bruises. When at length he lay down, the Doctor was called in. This learned man, who was the clerk of the parish, impudently asserted his ability to cure all diseases, and, in proof, restored the Prince to life. Then there was another duello between the King and the conqueror: the reason of which I did not understand, save that it enabled the cobbler to show under what unhappy conditions one bent with his trade has to fight. It needs not to say that the cobbler, too, fell beneath great Alexander’s sword. They bore away his body, and all was over.

‘But where is Dives?’ cried my lord. ‘You promised Dives.’

The actors looked at one another, and presently the blacksmith plucked up courage to explain that there never was any Dives in the piece at all, though it was true that he was regularly promised in the prologue or opening verses.

‘Well,’ said my lord, ‘we will excuse the Dives for this once; and thank you, actors all, for a merry tragical piece, in which I know not whether most to admire the skill of Alexander or the courage of the King who dared to meet him. Stand aside, good fellows, and let us go on to the next show.’

Then followed the singers and choristers of Hexham, who were ordered to sing none but true North-country songs, of which we have many, and our people sing them prettily and in tune, sometimes one taking treble, and another a second, and a third tenor or bass, and all with justness, according to time and tune very melodiously, the like of which, I think, will not be found elsewhere, save in cathedrals, such as Durham and other places, where anthems are sung. My lord confessed that he had never heard anything like this rustic singing in France, where the peasants sing on holidays; but not, as our people sing, with gravity and earnestness. First they sang the song of ‘The Knight and the Lady:’

‘There was a lady of the North Countrie (Lay the bent to the bonny broom), And she had lovely daughters three (Lay the bent to the bony broom).’

After that they sang the ‘Battle of Otterbourne;’ then the ‘Fair Flower of Northumberland;’ and then the ballad of ‘Jock o’ the Side;’ and, last, the ‘Jolly Huntsman’s Garland,’ beginning:

‘I walked o’er the mountains, Where shepherds feed their flocks; I spy’d a troop of gallants A hunting of the fox. With clamour and with hollow They made the woods to ring; The hounds they bravely follow, Making a merry din.’

All the gentlemen in the company applauded this song loudly, and with a ‘Whoop!’ and ‘View hollow!’—— no talk of fox-hunting, or song in its praise, is complete without. They knew every verse out of the thirty or forty, and the histories, some of which were entertaining, of the gentlemen in honour of whom the song was written. Nothing is more delightful to one fox-hunter than to talk or hear of another.

There were other songs, and then all were regaled with a present in money and a plentiful supper of what they most love at Christmastide —— namely, a mighty dish of lobscouse, which is a mess of beef, potatoes, and onions, strong of smell and of taste, and therefore grateful to coarse feeders. After the lobscouse they had plum-porridge and shrid-pies, with as much strong ale as they could carry, and more. Yet most of them could carry a great deal: Alexander the Great went away with a barrel or so within him, a mere cask of ale; and the King of Egypt was carried from this field of honour as from the other.

One thing I must relate in my lord’s honour. Among the singers was a plain man (yet he had a sweet, rich voice), who was pointed out to him as a Percy by descent. He was but a stone-cutter, yet a descendant in the direct line from Jocelyn, the fourth Earl; and I know not how his forefathers fell so low. Lord Derwentwater waited until the singing was over, and then stepped forward and offered his hand to this man as to a gentleman, and sent for a bottle of wine which he gave him, with a purse of five guineas, saying that the Percies and the Radeliffes were cousins. The good man was much abashed at first, but presently lifted his head, and carried off his bottle and his purse with resolution and pride. This circumstance, simple as it may seem, greatly raised the character of his lordship; for the common people, many of whom are descendants —— even though bye-blows —— of the gentlefolk, highly regard and are extremely jealous of descent; so that at Hexham it is a great thing to be a Radcliffe, as in Redesdale it is a great thing to be a Hall, and as at Bamborough one would be a Forster if one could, and at Alnwick a Percy. To give a poor man a present because he is of noble descent is a small thing, certainly; yet it was done with so great an ease and kindness that it touched all hearts.

If, on Christmas Day, we amused ourselves after the manner of the people and were happy in their way, we were promised, a few days later, a performance of a quite different and more fashionable kind. It was through Mr. Hilyard, who always knew everything that was going on in the neighbourhood —— how, one knows not, save that he was ever talking with carriers, postboys, and gipsies, and always had a kind word and a crust or a groat for a vagrant, nor cared to inquire if he were honest or not, but helped him, he said, because he was a man, and therefore stamped, like his unworthy self, with the Divine effigies. He reported that there was a company of players at Newcastle, who could doubtless be persuaded, in the manner usually found effective among such people, to journey as far as Dilston Hall. And he sent off without delay a messenger who was to run the whole way, twenty miles, with a letter from himself, to bring them, bag and baggage. It was the same company, though this he told us not (but I remembered their faces), as that among whom we had seen him, for the first time, play Merry Andrew; but the younger actresses were changed, as is, I am told, a very common occurrence, their beauty and their cleverness getting them rapid promotion, and, in some cases, good husbands. Why, Lord Derwentwater’s grandmother was herself but an actress, though she made a King fall in love with her.

These strollers were so poor —— for the profits of each night’s performance are but a few shillings to be divided among all —— that they joyfully acceded to the invitation, and jumped at an offer which was to them nothing short of beef and beer and lodging for a month to come, so generous was my lord.

He had never seen an English play. Nor had I myself, or Tom, or any of the young gentlemen; though I had often heard my father speak of Drury Lane and the little theatre in the Haymarket, the amusements of which he often enjoyed when in London on his Parliament business.

‘I have witnessed the playing,’ said my lord, ‘at the Comédie Française, where they play very finely the tragedies of the great Racine and Corneille and the comedies of Molière. I have also attended a performance of Madame de Maintenon’s sacred plays with which she amuses His Majesty; and I have seen the Italian troupe, who are full of tricks and merriment, and have a thousand ingenious arts to divert their company. The play is truly a most polite form of entertainment, and would be more delightful if the parterre could be by any means induced to remain quiet, and if the actors could have the stage to themselves, without the three rows of gentlemen who interrupt the performance by loud talking, and encumber the movements of the actors. Mr. Hilyard, I beg that you will allow no seats upon our stage. We will all sit in front.’

At Dilston, as everywhere, Mr. Hilyard was entrusted with the management of our amusements.

‘I appoint you, sir,’ said my lord, ‘if I may, our Master of the Revels; and I require but one thing of you —— that you please Miss Dorothy.’

I was so much pleased that never since have I lost the memory of that fortnight, and dwell upon it with such delight in the recollection as I cannot express in words. Oh! sad it is (if we do not apply the thought to our spiritual advantage) that youth and beauty must fade, that love cannot always follow a smooth and easy course, and that the things we most desire should so often be snatched from our grasp just as we think them within our reach! To meditate upon the fleeting and momentary nature of earthly happiness is now my lot. The thought of the past would be too much for me, were it not for the heavenly blessing and divinely given hope that there is another and a more lasting youth before us. Why, what is it to pass through a few years of old age and solitary decay, when there awaits us another life in which I shall meet again my lord, with that same noble face which I remember so well, and those kindly eyes which, like the eyes in a portrait on the wall, follow me still, though they are long since closed in death! The face and the eyes will be the same, but oh! glorified, and in the living image of God. And as for me, my poor beauty that I loved so well, yet lost without a sigh when my friends were gone, that, too, will be given back to me and more, with such heavenly graces as are vouchsafed to those who believe. There will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; but a pure and innocent love will flow from one soul to another, so that my lord will meet me again with such a look in his sweet eyes as he wore in those old days at Dilston Hall. Therefore weep no more, poor Dorothy; but patience, and tell thy story.

The play which Mr. Hilyard chose for us was Congreve’s ‘Mourning Bride.’ He had read it to me more than once; but although the situation, even to one who reads or listens to the poem, is full of horror, and the unravelling of the plot keeps the mind agreeably on the stretch of expectation, I was not prepared for the emotions caused by the actual representation of the piece before my eyes. Mr. Hilyard arranged for the performance in the great hall, providing a curtain and footlights as in a real theatre, with scenery to help the imagination. Thus the scene in the temple or church was an awful representation of aisles and columns which one was easily persuaded to regard as real, though they were nothing in the world but rolls of canvas or linen daubed with grey paint. And thus (but I ought to have expected something from Mr. Hilyard’s vast importance) a most agreeable surprise awaited us. Not only did our Master of the Revels himself pronounce a prologue, beginning ——

‘Far from the London boards we’ve travelled here, Bringing with us, to make you better cheer, Great Dryden, Congreve, Shakespeare, Farquhar, Rowe, To raise your mirth and bid your tears to flow;’ and ending ——

‘Do thou, my lord, Fresh from the splendour of a Court, bestow (Though all our art be simple, and our show But rustic) gracious audience; and while We strive to please, do thou be pleased to smile. Of ye, O fair! we ask, but not in vain, To think ’tis London and in Drury Lane. See Osmyn hug his chains, and Zara say, “Blest be the death which whiles for you this night away.’”

‘Upon my word,’ said my lord, ‘Mr. Hilyard is a much more ingenious gentleman than I thought.’

‘He is well enough,’ said Tom. ‘But this verse-writing is mighty silly skimble skamble stuff.’

Then the curtain drew up, and the play began. Everybody knows this most beautiful tragedy, in which Almeria mourns the bridegroom torn from her at the very hour of her marriage, and drowned by being wrecked. But —— and here is the dramatist’s art —— her father is not to know of the marriage, therefore it is supposed that Almeria was a prisoner in Valentia, and that her husband was none other than the King of Valentia’s son; but that the town was taken by Almeria’s father, and the King and Prince Alphonso were forced to fly, and so taken captive or perished in the waves. The actress was a young woman of some beauty set off by art. She was of light complexion, with very fair hair and blue eyes, which I dare say are common among the Spaniards, and it showed very well under her black mourning habits. She spoke her part so naturally, telling the story of her hasty marriage and the loss of her groom so movingly, that we were all in tears from the beginning. And picture our astonishment when we discovered in the second scene that the prisoner, Osmyn, was none other than Mr. Hilyard himself! Instead of a wig, he wore a Moorish turban; instead of a coat and waistcoat, a suit of chain-armour (borrowed from the wall of the very hall where the play was acted). He was fettered with heavy chains, which he rattled dolefully; his face was full of sternness and resolution (quite unlike the short face and twinkling eyes of Mr. Hilyard), and his head was thrown back to express his scorn of his conqueror. I do not know why anyone should scorn a conqueror, but in Plutarch and the drama they always do so. A conqueror, methinks, should be admired as the stronger and more skilful; if fate permits it, he should be imitated. But perhaps the scorn is intended to show the defiance of virtue, even though vice be for the moment victorious.

He had little to say in the first act. But in the second, he showed the greatness of his soul. The scene is in the aisle of a vast church. The hearers were awed and terrified by the words of Almeria:

‘It strikes an awe And terror on my aching sight. The tomb And monumental caves of death are cold, And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart!’

She finds Osmyn: he is weeping at his father’s tomb, for behold, Osmyn is none other than Alphonso. The raptures of their meeting are interrupted by the arrival of Zara, also one of the captives. She is in love with Osmyn. (After the performance I reflected that it must be a rare thing for prisoners, male and female, thus to wander unrestrained about a church at midnight. Where were Osmyn’s fetters?) She upbraids him with his coldness, and offers liberty for love. He refuses. Then she threatens him, and on the arrival of the King has him conveyed to prison, with the immediate prospect of death by rack and whip. Mr. Hilyard (I mean Osmyn) went to face it with so heroic a countenance that we could not choose but wonder. Did one ever believe that Mr. Hilyard could face death and torture with so bold a front? I declare that, for one, I have ever since considered the courage of this peaceful scholar as tried and proved; nor is it any answer to say that an unshrinking mien may be assumed even by a coward in the presence of pretended torture. I am perfectly assured that no coward could assume without betraying so assured and finished a guise of heroism. In the morning, on reflection, I thought it strange that the King as well as his prisoners should spend the night in wandering among the tombs in a church.

In the third act Osmyn is visited in prison by his friend Heli (I forget whether he was also a prisoner, or merely a wandering friend), who informs him that there are hopes of a mutiny among the troops, and that Zara may assist to release him. In fact, Zara comes —— she was a brunette, with speaking eyes, and very finely, as I thought, played the part of a hapless woman who loves where she is not loved in return. She promises assistance, hoping for reward. She then retires, apparently to make room for Almeria, but returns to discover Almeria with the captive. This fires her resentment:

‘Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turn’d, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.’

In the fourth act things present a most dreadful outlook to Almeria and her fettered husband; but in the fifth, all, by a most fortunate and providential succession of murders, ends well. First, a mute carrying messages is slain; the King takes the place of Osmyn (or Alphonso) in the prison, and is murdered by mistake; Zara poisons herself, and throws herself upon the body of the King, whom she supposes to be Alphonoso; Almeria comes, and prepares to imitate her rival, when Alphonso, victorious and triumphant, bursts upon the scene, and saves her just in the nick of time. To tell how the tragic story filled my heart with pity and terror while it was acting, how Almeria bewailed her fate, how Zara raged, how nobly Mr. Hilyard (or Alphonso) bore himself, would be impossible. Suffice to say that we wiped away our tears and were happy again, though the stage was strewn with dead bodies, when Alphonso spoke the last lines:

‘Still in the way of honour persevere, And not from past or present ills despair, For blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds, And, though a late, a sure reward succeeds.’

There were others present who enjoyed the play as much as I did, though my lord said that, in his opinion, and compared with the majestic work of Racine, it was but a poor piece, and that the situations were forced, with too much blood. All the servants who chose to come were allowed to stand at the lower end, and though some of them gaped and wondered what it all might mean, there were others who looked on with delight. Among them was my maid Jenny, whom I discerned standing on a stool at the far end, her face aglow with a kind of rapture, her great black eyes like coals of fire, her lips parted, and her body bent forward —— things which I remembered afterwards.

This girl (who was, as I have said, clever, sharp, and faithful) I had taught to read. I am well aware that I am open to censure for doing this. The possession of this key to learning is a dangerous thing. It is certainly a question which still remains to be answered, whether persons in that class should be taught to read; for, in the first place, a little learning is a dangerous thing. Again, discontent is easily acquired when one learns how many, from obscure origins, have become rich. Thirdly, it has been abundantly proved that there is no villain like a villain who can read and write. On the other hand, it seems good that a man or woman should be able to read the Prayer Book, Catechism, and Psalms of David in the vulgar tongue, and the Bible as well, provided always that the interpretation of it be modestly left to clergymen of the Established Church, and not undertaken by private judgment. As for matters of daily work, such as the farm and the house and medicine, it is certain that book-learning will never become so good as the teaching of those who have learned from their fathers and mothers. However, be it right or wrong, I taught the girl to read; and Jenny, though this I knew not, began to read everything she could find at all times when she was not at work. Among other things she read, it is supposed, volumes of plays which belonged to Mr. Hilyard.

When the play was over, Jenny, instead of going to bed as a good girl should have done, must needs wait about (this I learned afterwards) until the players went to their supper; and after supper she sat up with them, listening open-mouthed to their talk. It seems that people of this profession scarce ever go to bed before one or two o’clock in the morning, because after their great passion and the excitement of so many emotions they are fain to sit up till late, recovering the calmness of spirit necessary for quiet sleep. I know not what they said to her, or she to them; but afterwards she was never the same girl. She had moods and fits; would cry for nothing, and laugh at a little; read more books of plays; and, among the other maids, would imitate not only the actresses, but also the very gentlemen of the company to the life —— their voice, gestures, and manner of bearing themselves. This was a very impudent and disrespectful thing to do. I have also reason to believe —— but as I never charged it upon him, so he never confessed it —— that Mr. Hilyard himself secretly encouraged the girl to learn, and taught her to declaim with justness of emphasis and proper management of voice, passages from his books. Great scholar and wit though he was, he did not sufficiently consider the consequences of his actions. To teach such a girl to deliver poetry with eloquence was as much as to give a man who hath no money a taste for the most costly wines.

This, however, by the way.

In the morning I myself, finding the players preparing to go away, entered into conversation with one of the women, the one who played Zara. She was a young woman of genteel carriage and respectful speech, who, off the stage, although upon it she was so queenly in her bearing and so full of fire and action, might very well have passed for a respectable seamstress or milliner. As for the woman who played Leonora, she was the wife of the King, I found, and middle-aged, with a baby. First of all, when I spoke to Zara, I found she was shy, as if afraid that I should despise or insult her, a thing of which I am told actors are very jealous, because by statute law they are regarded as rogues and vagabonds.

‘In Paris,’ my lord told me, ‘they once lost in this way their best actress, an incomparable and most beautiful creature, who was so enraged by the insults of the parterre, that she returned them with scorn and indignation. They clapped her in prison for this lèse-majesté; but when she was liberated, she refused ever to act again.’

Well, but I did not wish to show contempt for anybody, much less a virtuous and honest young woman; and I made haste to compliment her on her rare and wonderful gift of impersonation, adding that I had learned to respect the art from my tutor, Mr. Hilyard, whom they had allowed to play Osmyn. Then I asked her about her way of life, and if she was happy. She replied that, indeed, for happiness she could not tell, because poor folks are never overwhelmed with happiness; that the pay was uncertain, and sometimes food was scanty, and there were times when to play in a barn for a supper was counted great gain; yet (I remembered afterwards that Jenny stood beside me, and was listening with open mouth) the delight of acting (‘Oh! Ah!’ a gasp and a sigh from Jenny) was so great as to counterbalance the evils of poverty. That, to be sure, fine ladies look down upon an actress as mere dirt beneath their feet; but what signifies that, since one need never speak with a fine lady? That it was hard life, in which a body hath no time to be ill or to be wearied, or to have any mood or mind of her own, but always ready for a new part and to play new passion; yet, that this evil was compensated for by the freedom and variety of the life.

‘Consider, madam,’ she said earnestly, ‘if I were not an actress, I should be a maid in a lady’s house, or a common drudge to a tradesman’s wife, or perhaps a dressmaker, or serving-woman to a coffee-house or a tavern; or, if I had good looks, perhaps a shop-girl, to sell gloves, ribbons, and knickknacks, in Cranbourne Alley. Your ladyship doth not know, I am sure, the rubs and flips which we poor women have to endure from harsh masters. What is our character to them, provided fine gentlemen come to the shop and buy? and what do they care what becomes of the poor girls? One gone, another is easily found. All poor people must be unhappy in some way, I suppose. Give me my liberty’—— here Jenny choked —— ‘if I must starve with it. But we all hope for better times, and perhaps, before we grow old and lose such good looks as the Lord hath given to us, an engagement at York Theatre —— or even’—— here she gasped as one who catcheth at a bunch of grapes too high ——‘at Drury Lane.’

So they packed up their dresses and gilt crowns, their tin swords and fineries, and went away, well pleased with the generous pay of my lord.

But Mr. Hilyard went about with his chin in the air, still thinking himself Osmyn, for many days to come.

‘Are there,’ asked my lord, ‘many scholars of Oxford who can act, and write verses, and play the buffoon, and sing like that strange man of yours, Miss Dorothy? In Paris, such a scholar becomes an Abbé; he may make as many verses as he pleases, and pay court to as many patrons, and be lapdog to the fine ladies, but act upon the stage he may not.’

Yet he congratulated the actor with the kindness which belonged to his nature, trying to make him feel that his genius and the variety of his powers were admired and understood. And before we came away my lord gave him a snuff-box, which Mr. Hilyard still carries and greatly values. It bears upon the lid a picture of Danae, believed to be the portrait of Nell Gwynne.

‘But as for his acting,’ my lord went on, ‘I care not who acts nor what the piece, so long as thou art pleased, fair Daphne. For to please thee is at present all my thought and my only care. Ah! blushing, rosy English cheek! Sure nowhere in the world are the women so beautiful as in England; and nowhere so true, and good as well, as in my own country.’

With such pretty speeches he ended everything. If it were a ride, it must be whither I pleased; if we walked, it must be in what direction I commanded; when we dined, the dishes were to be to my liking; if I ventured to praise anything, it must become my own —— nay, I think that, had I chosen, I could have stripped the walls even of the family portraits, carried off the treasures which the house contained, and borne away all the horses from the stable. My lord possessed that nature which is never truly happy unless it is devising further happiness and fresh joyful surprises for those he loves.

Chapter xv.

New Year’s Day.

On the day of the New Year, which is the day for giving and receiving presents, there was so great an exchange of pretty things that I cannot enumerate them. For everybody gave something, if it were only a little trifle worked by hand. Thus, my lord presented Tom with a hunter, and Tom gave him a fowling-piece which had belonged to his uncle Ferdinando. Though the general joy at the master’s return was so great that the tables groaned beneath the presents offered to him, yet I think he gave far more than he received. That was ever his way —— to give more than he received, whether in friendship, trust, and confidence, or in rich presents, or in love. It is a happy disposition, showing that its owner is already half prepared for heaven. As for myself, I was made nothing short of rich by the many beautiful and costly things that were bestowed upon me. Tom gave me a pair of gloves, the Lady Mary a small parcel of pointlace of Valenciennes, the Lady Katharine a piece of most beautiful brocade, saying that she was too old for such gauds and vanities, which became young and beautiful gentlewomen, and her maid should give me counsel how best to make it up. Mr. Howard gave me a book from the library containing the ‘Meditations’ of Thomas à Kempis. Alas! I paid little heed at the time to the wise and comforting words of that precious book, though now, next to one other, it is my greatest consoler. (I also find some of the ‘Thoughts’ of Monsieur Pascal worthy the attention of those who would seek comfort from religion.) Frank gave me a silver chain —— it had been his grandmother’s —— for hanging keys and what not upon; and Mr. Errington gave me a pretty little ring set with an emerald, saying that he had bought it for the first Dorothy Forster twenty years before, but she would have none of him or of his gifts.

‘Wherefore, my dear,’ he said, ‘although an emerald speaks of love returned, let me bestow it upon one beautiful enough to be Dorothy’s daughter.

‘“O daughter, fairer than thy mother fair,” as says some poet, but I forget which, because it is thirty years since I left off reading verses. Very likely it was Suckling or Waller.’

‘Sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard officiously, ‘your honour does the Latin poet Horace the honour to quote him —— through an unknown translation.’

‘Gad,’ replied Mr. Errington, ‘I knew not I was quoting Latin. I am infinitely obliged to you, sir, for the assistance of your learning. It shall be Horace, since you say so. But much finer things, I doubt not, have been said about beautiful women by our English poets. Can you, sir, who know the poets, as well as everything else’ —— Mr. Errington was one of those gentlemen who regard scholarship as a kind of trade, to be followed by the baser sort, as indeed it chiefly is, and as a means of rising ——‘can you, sir, help us to something from an English poet with which we may compliment the beauty of this young lady?’

‘The language of gallantry,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘was not affected by Shakespeare, our greatest poet; yet there is one passage which I submit to your honour. It is in his sonnets, wherein the poet says:

‘“Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee Calls back the lovely April of her person.’”

‘Very good, sir,’ said Mr. Errington. ‘Fair Dorothy, Shakespeare was a prophet.’

Lord Derwentwater alone gave me nothing, which I thought strange. But presently, when the first business and agitation about the gifts were over, he begged me to examine with him some of the treasures and heirlooms of the house.

The hall was full of strange things and treasures brought together from every part of the world; by Radcliffes who had travelled in far countries, even to Constantinople and the Holy Land; by Radcliffes who had crossed the ocean, and seen the two Americas and the savage Indians; by Radcliffes who had plundered Scottish castles and Scottish towns in the old times; by Radcliffes who had bought beautiful things in Italy, and by those who had bought them in London. The walls were covered with pictures; not only portraits, but also those pictures which men strangely love to paint, of half-clothed shepherdesses, nymphs, satyrs, and so forth; illustrations of stories from Ovid and the ancient poets, some of which Mr. Hilyard had read to me; together with other pictures, to my poor understanding, equally foolish —— to wit, the martyrdom and torture of saints, as the shooting of St. Sebastian with arrows; the roasting of St. Lawrence upon a gridiron (this was very fine and much-praised picture by an Italian master, whose name I have forgotten; but it made your flesh creep ever afterwards even to think of that poor writhing wretch); the angles in heaven, all sitting in a formal circle; the beheading of St. Peter, and so forth. I know not why these things should be portrayed, unless, as is wisely done in Fox’s ‘Book of Martyrs,’ in order to show, by lively pictures of the poor creatures in the flames, what one religion is capable of doing, and the other of enduring. Besides the pictures, there were suits of armour, both chain-armour, very beautifully wrought, and armour of hammered iron, with a whole armoury of weapons hanging like trophies upon the walls, such as pikes, lances, spears, bows and arrows, crossbows, guns and firelocks of all kinds, strange instruments for tearing knights out of their saddles, battleaxes, maces, and swords of every kind. At my request, my lord once dressed himself in one of the suits of chain-armour, and put on his head an iron helmet, with side or cheek pieces, and a machine for protecting the face. With a battleaxe in his hand, he looked most martial and commanding; yet I laughed to see the long wig below the helmet, flowing over the shoulders and the chain-armour. To each age its fashions; since the politeness of the present generation commands gentlemen no longer to wear their own hair, but a full wig, whereby the aged may look young, and the young disguise their youth and inexperience, there must seem something ludicrous when the dress of our ancestors is assumed even for a moment. It was not, however, to see these things, which stood exposed to the view of all who came, that I was asked to accompany my lord. We went to see those treasures which were kept under lock and key in cabinets and cupboards, and even in secret places known only to Mrs. Busby, the housekeeper, who came with us, bearing the keys.

Lady Mary came, too. Her sister, Lady Katharine, the most gentle and pious of women, was in the chapel, where she spent a great part of each day in prayer and meditation. Certainly, if ever there was a saint in the Church of Rome, she was one. Though we are bound not to accept the doctrine of Purgatory (which seems to me the least harmful of human inventions, as regards religion), yet I have always thought, in considering the life of this pious woman, that there could be no fires of Purgatory for her. Her sister was as gentle, but not so pious (yet a good woman, and obedient to the Church).

‘My dear,’ she said, ‘we have many pretty things to show you. No doubt the Forsters have also got together, both at Bamborough and Etherston, things as curious and more valuable, for we are not ignorant that you have been longer in the county. But our collections are allowed to be very fine.’

They were indeed very fine. We have nothing to compare with them, either at Etherston or at Bamborough.

There were old brocades, stiff with gold and silver; gloves set with pearls; shoebuckles with diamonds; embroidered and jewelled garters; damasks, flounced stuffs, rich silks, every kind of woman’s dress from the time of Henry VI., or even older, to the present day. The housekeeper laid them out with pride, saying, ‘This belonged to Lady Radcliffe, your lordship’s grandmother, who was a daughter of Sir William Fenwick; and this was part of the bridal dress of Anne Radcliffe, who married Sir Philip Constable; and these were the late Lady Swinburne’s gloves’—— and so on. She had, besides, a story to tell of every one; how this lady was a widow and a beauty; and this one ran away, and another was married against her will, and another a widow almost as soon as she was a bride; such tales as an old housekeeper loves to gather together and to store up.

‘Women,’ says Mr. Hilyard, ‘are the historians, as they are the guardians of the household.’

‘These,’ said the Earl, ‘are the ladies’ collections. My own mother’—— his face darkened when he spoke of his mother (at which I wonder not)——‘hath added nothing; but my grandmother and her predecessors have all contributed something of their finery to make this collection the better. Great pity it is when a family lets all be scattered abroad and lost.’

Then we were shown the cabinets, where were locked up the trinkets, ornaments, and things in gold. Here were rings of all kinds —— some old and rudely set, but with large stones; some with posies and devices; some with coats of arms; some with stories belonging to them and some without. Also there were bracelets of all kinds —— of plain beaten gold, of chains in gold, of rings, of serpents; of Saracen, Turkish, Indian, Venetian, and Florentine work; also necklaces of silver and of gold —— plain and set with

emeralds, diamonds, rubies, opal, sapphires, and all other precious stones, egrets, étuis, and chains of all kinds, even the thin and delicate chain of pure soft gold from India —— one never saw so brave a show. Then there were miniatures in gold frames set with pearls, of the Radcliffe ladies, including my own great-grandmother, the heiress of Blanchland. A comely and beautiful race they were. Next there were snuff-boxes collected by the late Earl, who died in the year 1705. There were dozens of these, mostly with lids beautifully painted, but the pictures such as please not a woman’s eye, being like those on the walls, of half-dressed nymphs and shepherdesses. Dear me! A man who wants to take snuff can surely take it quite as well out of a tin or brass snuff-box, such as our gentlemen use, as out of a box with a heathen goddess sprawling outside, dressed as heathen goddesses were accustomed to dress.

‘It is,’ said Mr. Hilyard once, talking the nonsense that even learned men sometimes permit themselves ——‘it is an excuse for painting the ideal, model, and fountain of beauty. It has been held that from Venus —— namely feminine beauty —— are born not only the train of Loves, petulant and wanton, but also the nine Muses, who are, in fact, Poetry, Music, Dancing, Acting, Gallantry, Courtesy, Politeness, Courtship, and Intrigue, and not Thalia and her sisters at all, unless they can be proved to have those attributes.’

This foolish talk I refused to hear. Did ever a woman wish to see represented the stalwart form and sturdy calves of her lover? How, then, did we get our love for poetry, dancing, and the rest of it, including coquetry?

I cannot tell all that was in this cabinet of wonders. But in the lowest drawers there lay —— fans! Oh, Heaven! Fans! I never knew before that there were in the whole wide world so many fans. They were all painted, and some of them most beautifully. There were fans with flowers on them, so life-like that you stooped to breathe the perfume of the rose or the mignonette; there were fans with rustic scenes —— swains and shepherdesses dancing round a maypole.

‘Do they dance so in France, my lord?’ I asked.

‘Nay,’ he replied gravely. ‘They dance, indeed, but it is to forget the terrors of tomorrow, and to rejoice over the certainty of to-day’s dinner. There is laughter, but not much joy, in the peasant’s dance.’

So I laid that down, and took up another. Upon it was the tale of the Sirens and Ulysses. Oh! I knew the story, and wonderful it was to see the oarsmen rowing silent and careless, neither seeing nor hearing, while Ulysses, bound to the mast, strained forward to catch the music, after which he would fain have followed like a slave if he could. It was a moral piece, and I looked at it with admiration. The next —— but I cannot run through them all —— was the Judgment of Paris —— the shepherd, a very noble youth, with something of the look of my lord upon him; while as for the goddesses, not one of them, to my thinking, deserved an apple so much as —— but we may not judge, and it seemed to please his lordship. Then there were more swains and shepherdesses, very sweet and pretty, with grass like velvet, and dresses (though they had been tending sheep) as clean and neat as if just out of the band-box.

‘Ah! if one could find such a country,’ I said, ‘one would willingly turn milkmaid.’

‘And I,’ said my lord, ‘would even be turned into a shepherd to be companion to such a milkmaid.’

Then there was a fan of Pierrot, Harlequin, and Columbine. It brought your heart into your mouth only to see such merry, careless faces, as if there were no such thing as trouble, or anxiety, or exiled princes, or rival churches, or wicked people, and all that one had to do was to tell stories continually, laugh, dance, sing, and make merry. I never saw before such happiness depicted on simple white silk. It made me think, somehow, of Mr. Hilyard in the evening. After this fan, I cared little about the rest, though the parting of Achilles and Briseis was sad, and the death of Cleopatra tragic.

‘Now,’ said my lord, smiling kindly, as was his wont when he was doing something generous ——‘now that you have seen our pretty things, remember that you have not received my étrenne. Will it please you make a choice?’

I know not whether by accident or design, but Lady Mary and the housekeeper were engaged among the silks and old brocades, and we were alone.

‘Oh, my lord!’ I said, ‘I cannot take any of these beautiful things. They belong to your house and to your family. They must not leave you.’

‘Take all,’ he whispered. ‘Oh, Dorothy! take all; and yet, they need not leave me, if in taking them you take me too.’

Alas! what could a girl say? I knew not what to say; for in the great joy of that moment I remembered not —— nay, all this time I thought not about it, being in a Fool’s Paradise —— what stood between us.

‘Oh, my lord!’ was all I could whisper.

But he stooped and kissed my fingers, and I think that Lady Mary saw him, for she came back quickly, a little glow upon her faded cheek and a brightness in her eyes; but said nothing, only presently took my hand in hers and pressed it kindly.

Well, there was no help; she joined her nephew in forcing presents upon me. I chose the fan with Harlequin, Columbine, and Pierrot upon it. Why, it lies beside me still, with its three once happy, laughing faces. Long ago they too have been driven out of their Fool’s Paradise, like me. The silk has faded; the pictured faces smile no more —— they have lost their youth —— they are wrinkled —— they have forgotten how to laugh. when I die, I should like that fan to be buried with me.

Other things they gave me —— a ring, a bracelet —— what matters now? —— with kind words, and praise of beauty and sweet looks. A sensible girl knows very well that this flattery is bestowed out of goodness of heart, and with the desire of pleasing her; it does not turn her head more than the passing sunshine of the moment, though it makes her cheek to glow, her eyes to brighten, and her lips to tremble.

‘There were never,’ whispered the fond young lover, ‘never, I swear, finer eyes or sweeter lips.’

In the evening, when I opened my fan, a paper fell out. My lord picked it up and gave it me. Oh! it was another set of verses, and in the same feigned handwriting as the first. He read them, affecting as much surprise as on the former occasion:

‘Learn, nymphs, from wondrous Daphne’s art

    The uses of the fan,

Designed to play a potent part

    When she undoes a man.

As when the silly trout discerns

    The artificial fly,

And rises, bites, and too late learns

    The hook that lies hard by;

So man, before whose raptured gaze

    The fan in Daphne’s arms,

Now spreads, now shuts, and now displays,

    And now conceals her charms,

Falls, like that silly fish, a prey,

    Yet happier far than he,

Adores the hand outstretched to slay,

    And dies in ecstasy.’

Chapter xvi.

A Strange Thing.

I cannot forbear to mention a thing which happened at this time, so strange, so contrary to reason and experience, so far removed from the ordinary stories of apparitions and phantoms, that, had I not been agitated by a thousand tumultuous joys, I must have been thrown by it into great apprehensions, and perhaps have felt compelled to lay the matter before the Bishop.

The thing is concerned with my maid Jenny, of course. I have already explained that she was an active and faithful maid, clever with her needle, a good hairdresser, modest and respectful in her behaviour to me, whatever she was to others. With all these virtues, it is grievous to remember that if ever a woman was a witch, and had dealings with the devil —— why, even Mr. Hilyard, who is always most cautious in these matters, confesses that the matter is beyond his comprehension, and he knows not how to explain it, or what to say of it. Let us remember that at Blanchland she saw apparitions (though others saw none), to the terror of the village; and there also she was said to lead about a rustic whom she made to do whatever she pleased (this at the time I believed not, though now I know that it may be true). And at Dilston she acted parts either of her own invention, or imitated people, or declaimed what she had heard to such admiration that the men gazed upon her with open mouths, and the kitchen-maids dropped the dishes, and the elder women crossed themselves. Gipsy blood will show, they say; no doubt these outcasts are in some sort more liable than the rest of us to diabolical possession, and it is by this, and no other way, that they are enabled to read the future, predict fortunes, and, above all, to bewitch a man and make him do whatsoever they please.

It was on the morning after this day of gifts —— a gloomy and cloudy morning, with mist lying over the Devilswater and the meadow beneath the Hall; the gentlemen were in the fields shooting; Lady Katharine was, I suppose, in the chapel; Lady Mary was dozing in her chair; the maids were all at work below and in the kitchens. I, having nothing to do, and a heart troubled but full of joy, began to roam by myself about the great house. First I went into the library, where few ever sat. Sometimes my lord went thither to spend an hour; he was a gentleman of parts, and possessed as much learning as befits a man of his rank. An earl must not be a writer of books or a poet by trade, though he may, as Lord Rochester did, write witty and ingenious verses to be given to his mistress or to please the Court. Frank Radcliffe was often there, and sometimes Mr. Howard. To-day when I opened the door I saw the good old priest sleeping beside a great wood fire, on his knees a massive volume in calf, with brass clasps —— no doubt a learned work on theology. So, not to disturb him, I shut the door again quite softly, and went along the passages among the many old rooms, hung with tapestry, and furnished after an antique style. Some of them were occupied, but for the most part they were empty, and I looked curiously into them, half afraid of the deep shadows, in which ghosts might linger. If I entered these silent chambers, I peeped hurriedly into the mirrors, fearful lest, as has happened to many honest people, I might see a second face in addition to my own, or, which is worse than a whole procession of ghosts, not my own face at all, but quite another one —— a strange, a threatening, and an angry face —— or the face of a demon. I have often prayed to be protected from this form of visitation, of which I could tell many stories, but refrain, merely saying that it is a sure indication of great disaster thus to see a strange and angry face in the mirror instead of your own.

The house being so silent, the air without so misty, and the rooms so dark, it is not wonderful that I presently fell into that expectant spirit in which nothing seems strange, so that if all my ancestors on the Radcliffe side had with one consent marched up the corridor to greet me, I should have taken it as nothing out of the way or even unexpected. It is a condition of mind into which it is easy to fall when one is in a reverie.

Now, as I walked along the passage, I became aware of a voice: it was a low voice, which I knew very well, but did not remember whose it was (when one’s head was full of Lord Derwentwater, could one remember the voice of a servant-maid?). Without following or seeking after that voice, I walked by accident straight to the room whence it came, and, the door being open, and I not thinking one way or the other whether I ought to look or whether I ought not, I not only looked in at the door, but I walked into the room. Truly I was as one in a dream.

The thing which I saw awakened me from my dream, and I started and was seized with a horror the like of which I never felt before and hope never to feel again; because I saw with my own eyes the bewitching of a man by a woman.

It was a large low room without much furniture, and I think it had once been used for a children’s room, for there were little chairs about, and broken toys. There were only two persons in the room: one of the two was Frank Radcliffe, and the other was none other, if you please, than Jenny, my own maid. That Frank should condescend to hold conversation at all with this blackeyed gipsy girl might have filled me with wonder; yet I was not so young or so innocent (what country girl is?) as not to know that young gentlemen will often stoop to rustic wenches, to their own shame and the just ruin of the latter. But Frank was not like many of our young bloods, a mere hunting and shooting creature, born to destroy vermin for the farmers and provide game for the table. He was a gentleman of high breeding and polished, nay, delicate manners, no more capable, one would think, of being led out of himself by the flashing eyes of a village beauty than my lord himself; a scholar too, and man of books. Yet here he was; and with him, Jenny. The girl was sitting on a high chair with her back to the door, and therefore saw me not; nor did she hear my footsteps. Before her, like a boy at school before his master, stood the young man. To think that she should sit, and he be standing! But oh, heavens! what ailed him? His eyes were open, and he gazed straight before him, so that he looked into my face, but he seemed to see nothing; his arms were hanging motionless; he stood erect, like a soldier with a pike in waiting for the word of command; his cheek was pale: he seemed as one whose soul had fled while his body waits for its return, or as one entranced, or as one who walks in his sleep. Yet, for the strange feeling upon me, as if anything might happen and nothing was wonderful, I stood where I was and looked on in silence, though what I saw was beyond the power of the mind to conceive.

Were they play-acting? But in no play-acting that ever I heard of does the actor go through his performance with face so motionless. The play-acting was nothing. Jenny lifted her finger, Frank did the same. Jenny folded a paper into a kind of narrow tube and gave it him, muttering something in a low voice. Then he put the tube to his lips and made as if he were smoking a pipe.

Then Jenny made another gesture, and he dropped the paper.

‘Think next,’ she said imperiously, ‘of my own people, the gipsies. I want to know what old granny is doing, and what she is saying. If she is making a charm, tell me how she makes it.’

‘There is a gipsy camp,’ he replied slowly, but with no change in his eyes, ‘outside the houses of a village. They have drawn their carts round an open space, where there is a great fire and a pot upon it.’

‘And granny —— what is granny doing?’

‘I see an old woman lying upon the boards in one of the carts. A young man lies beside her, groaning and twisting about.’

‘What does granny say?’

‘She bids him cheer up; for what is a simple flogging at the cart-tail when once ’tis over? And what is a sore back to the rheumatism in every bone?’

‘It is my cousin, Pharaoh Lee,’ said Jenny. ‘Poor Pharaoh! He has been stealing poultry, no doubt. The back of him should be of leather by now, unless backs get the softer for flogging, like a beefsteak. Well —— Leave the camp, and think of my lord, your brother. So —— where is he?’

‘He is walking beside Tom Forster, fowling — piece on shoulder. But he looks neither to right nor left, and he is not thinking of the birds.’

‘What is he thinking of, then?’

‘He is thinking,’ replied Frank, ‘of Dorothy. His mind is quite full of her. He can think of nothing else. He has told her that he loves her, and before she goes away he will tell her so again. “Sweet Dorothy!” he says in his mind. “Fair Dorothy! There is none like Dorothy Forster.”

Now, when I heard these words it seemed to me as if the things I saw and heard were ghostly and sent from the other world, wherefore I fell into the deadly terror which seizes those who behold such things and receive such messages, and I shrieked aloud and fell into a swoon, which lasted I know not how long.

When I came to myself, I was sitting in the chair where Jenny (unless it was a vision) had been exercising her witcheries. She was kneeling at my feet, beating my palms, and putting a cold, wet towel to my forehead, with a face full of terror and surprise.

‘Ah!’ she said, ‘you are better now, my lady.’

‘What is it, Jenny?’ I cried, clutching her hand and looking around. ‘What is it? Where is he?’

‘Where is he?’ she repeated. ‘Why —— who?’

‘Mr. Francis Radcliffe.’

‘Mr. Frank? Indeed, your ladyship, I know not. I suppose he may have gone out with the gentlemen shooting, or perhaps, because he is a studious gentleman, he is in the library, or talking, maybe, to Mr. Hilyard. What should Mr. Frank be doing here?’

‘Nay —— but I saw him!’

‘Where did you see him? Oh, madam! rest a while. Your poor head is wandering. You must have had a shock.’

‘I saw him, I say —— here with you —— wicked girl! with your sorceries.’ I pushed her from me; but she looked astonished and not guilty at all —— which was most strange.

‘Alas! madam, what sorceries? I know not what you mean. I was in your own room hard by, putting up the lace for your hair, which I shall dress by-and-by’—— my own room was close at hand, but I had forgotten it ——‘when I heard a loud cry and a something fall, and ran to help —— and oh dear! —— oh dear! —— it was your ladyship lying on the floor all by yourself, with a face as white as a sheet.’

‘But I saw him —— and you ——’

I looked about the room; there was certainly no Frank Radcliffe there. Then I started to my feet; the fascination was quite gone; it went away as suddenly as it came. I determined to seek out Frank and learn the truth at once.

‘Stay here, shameless girl!’ I cried. ‘If thou hast lied thou shalt leave me this moment, even if the village folk burn thee for a witch, as they called thee at Blanchland.’

I hastened along the passages and down the stairs to the library. Oh, most wonderful! Everything, with one exception, was just as I had left it half an hour before. Father Howard slept in the quiet corner beside the fire, his great volume on his knee; on the hearth there slowly burned among its white ashes a great log; the silent books stood round the walls, and above them hung the portraits of Radcliffes dead and gone; through the windows I saw the white mists hanging over the meadow and the narrow bed of Devilswater. Everything the same, except that at a table before one of the windows sat Frank himself, two or three books before him.

‘Frank!’ I cried.

‘Dorothy! What is it? Your cheeks are white and your eyes are frightened —— what is it, Dorothy?’

‘How long have you been here, Frank?’

‘I think all the morning, Dorothy. Why?’

‘I saw —— that is, I thought I saw you, but just now, in the north corridor. Perhaps it was imagination. Yet, I thought —— were you not there, of truth?’

‘Indeed, I have not left the library since breakfast. I must have been asleep, like Mr. Howard, for I find I have not turned the page for half an hour and more. Do you think, Dorothy,’ he asked earnestly, ‘that you have seen a ghost? This Dilston, they say, is full of ghosts. But I have seen none, as yet.’

‘I know not,’ I replied, ‘what I have seen —— or what it means. Frank —— you have told me the truth?’

I could not doubt the truth of his straightforward eyes, nor the sincerity of his assurance. Wherefore, with a beating heart, I returned slowly to my own chamber, and found Jenny in tears. I thought I must have seemed harsh to her, feeling now certain that what I had seen was a vision of a disordered brain. Yet, why should the brain of a girl newly made happy by the most noble lover in the world be disordered? Therefore I bestowed upon her a frock, a hood, and a pair of warm cloth gloves, for a New Year’s gift, and told her that I must have had some dream or seen some vision, and that I blamed her no longer; though at heart I felt some suspicion still, because the dream or vision, if such it had been, remained in my mind clear and strong, so that I could not choose but think it real. And yet, that Frank should have been in the library since the morning and never once left it!

In the afternoon I told the whole to Mr. Hilyard, and confessed to him that, although I was now certain that I had been deceived or that I was under some charm, yet I felt uneasy. He received my story with great seriousness, and began to consider what it might mean.

‘Truly,’ he said, ‘if this be a vision, and not a cheat by the girl Jenny —— but how could she cheat without the assistance of Mr. Frank? —— it is a very serious and weighty business. It is a pity that you did not, before you swooned away, throw your arms about the effigies or apparition of the girl, as was done by Lord Colchester about fifty years ago, when he clasped thin air, as Ixion clasped his cloud. We may not doubt that warnings may take various shapes. Thus it is related on good authority from Portsmouth that a gentleman of that place has been lately troubled by the apparition of a man who constantly pursues him and reproaches him for some secret crime; and Colonel Radcliffe affords another instance, who is also followed continually by some unseen enemy. There is also the authentic story of the ghost of Madam Bendish, of East Ham, near London, who lately appeared to an old gentleman there, and bade him reprove an obstinate son with Proverbs, one, two, and three. There was also, only a short time ago, the young gentleman of All Hallows, Bread Street Parish, who had a vision of a burial, the cloth held by four maids, which came true of himself. And the ghost of Thomas Chambers, of Chesham, in Buckinghamshire, was after his death seen by many, but especially the maid of the house, leaning, in a melancholy posture, against a tree, attired in the same cap and dress in which they laid him out. We may no more deny these appearances than we may deny the existence of the soul or our immortal hopes. Besides which, if more testimony were wanted, Plutarch, Apuleius, and all the Roman and Grecian histories are full of such instances.’

‘But, Mr. Hilyard, is there any like my own?’

‘I know not one,’ he replied, thoughtfully; ‘for there is no threat, nor any call for repentance. You have nothing to do with gipsies and flogging of backs; and there remains the friendly and comfortable assurance, if I may make so bold as to say so, of my lord’s disposition and affection —— of which I, for one, have long been fully certain. So, Miss Dorothy, I would advise and counsel that nothing more be said or thought about this strange thing, especially to the girl, lest she be puffed up with conceit and vanity.’

What happened that same day was this, though I heard it not till long afterwards. Mr. Hilyard, on leaving me, repaired to a quiet chamber, where he would be undisturbed, and then sent for Jenny to attend him.

She came in fear and trembling.

‘Now,’ he said, shaking his fore-finger in a very terrible way, ‘what is this I hear about Mr. Francis and yourself?’

‘I know nothing, sir,’ she began.

‘About the camp, now.’

‘If Miss Dorothy thought she heard Mr. Frank tell me about my cousin Pharaoh’s back, she must have dreamed it.’

‘Now, girl, thou art caught. Know that your mistress said not one word to you of Pharaoh and his back, which I hope hath been soundly lashed for his many thieveries. Therefore, since I know it, because she told me, and since she hath not told you, pray, how do you know it? Girl, on your knees and confess, or worse will happen to thee.’

Upon this she burst into tears, fell upon her knees, and confessed a most wonderful thing, which made Mr. Hilyard’s very wig to stand on end, so strange it was.

She owned that she possessed, having learned it from her grandmother, a strange and mysterious power over certain persons; that she amused herself with trying it upon various men; that there was a poor fellow at Blanchland whom she could make to fetch and carry at her will; but that there was no one over whom she had greater power than over Mr. Frank.

Being asked if he knew, she denied it, saying that, although it pleased him to converse with her sometimes, and to learn from her the secrets of palmistry, and other little things which he persuaded her to teach him, he had no knowledge of the trance into which she could throw him at will; and that, during that period, he could tell her what people were doing anywhere in the world, and what were their thoughts; that she was exercising this gift of sorcery, the power of which belongs only to the gipsies, and to few among them, when Miss Dorothy surprised her; that she hastened to send Mr. Frank, still unconscious, back to the library, so that, when he returned to himself, he knew not that anything had happened; and thereby she was able to deceive her mistress.

‘In the name of Heaven, child!’ cried Mr. Hilyard in affright, ‘hast thou such a power over me?’

Jenny swore she had none, nor was like to have if she tried; and that she would never try upon him, being afraid of detection; nor upon his honour, Mr. Forster, as in duty bound; nor upon her mistress. But that, as to this young gentleman, he forced himself upon her, coming continually to her, and begging to have the future revealed, either by cards, or by the lines of his hand, or the shape of his head, or the circumstances of his birth; and then nothing would satisfy him but to know, and to learn for himself how, and by what rules and observations, these things were done; so that he laid himself directly open, as it were, to the Evil One; and when the young witch, for so one must now think her, essayed her art upon him, he fell a ready victim. Lastly, the girl implored Mr. Hilyard, with many tears, and on her bended knees, to forgive her, promising that never again would she speak with Mr. Frank, nor practise upon him this truly diabolical art, on penalty of being instantly dismissed the service of Miss Dorothy, and haled before a Justice of the Peace to be dealt with as a witch.

Well, Mr. Hilyard, as he afterwards confessed, was greatly concerned at this narrative, which surprised as well as terrified him. First, he endeavoured to convince the girl that she was in the hands of the Evil One, who would infallibly, unless she repented, bring her to such sufferings as she could not yet even dream of; next, that it was the height of presumption for her to exercise this dreadful power upon a young gentleman; thirdly, he promised to consider what was best to be done, and, if he could, to hide the fact, on her faithful promise to abstain for the future, to fast once a week for six months for penance, and to pray night and morning to be delivered from the Devil. So he dismissed her.

‘Next,’ he told me afterwards, ‘I fell to thinking how dreadful a thing it must be to possess this power, and how constant a temptation there would be to use it for one’s own advantage, or to gratify malice, revenge, and private spite: so that, if all possessed it, for one who would use it for the public good a hundred would use it for their own selfish ends. Further, that an unfortunate creature under this power, and compelled by this influence, might commit the most horrible crimes and know nothing about it. Why, many a poor wretch may have been hanged for things done by command of her who had bewitched him. And as for me, I confess (which shows my unworthiness) that I forgot the wickedness of tempting the Lord and the sin of Saul, and longed to consult so strange an oracle on my own account. From this I was protected by Grace.’

For my own part, I resolved to say nothing about it, thinking that we should leave Dilston in a few days, and that meanwhile I would watch diligently, and prevent the meeting together in any place of the girl and Mr. Frank. But she gave me no more trouble, and I think there was not another meeting before we went away.

Chapter xvii.

He Loves Me.

Of all pleasant things upon the earth, there cometh an end in time. Nay, the more pleasant are the things, the shorter they are, and the faster do they hasten away. This is wisely ordained lest we forget in the present the joys which await us, greater than mind can conceive or tongue can utter, in the world to come. Whereas I, for my part, by foretaste, and as it were by looking through the gates of Paradise (which I certainly was permitted to do while my lord bestowed his affections upon me), am privileged above my less fortunate fellow-creatures to know something of the grateful, happy, and contented heart of those who wear the golden crown and play upon the golden harp.

As the time drew near for us to go, it seemed as if everybody multiplied kindness. The two ladies gave me more pretty things with generous words, and Lady Mary whispered, pressing my hand, ‘My dear, remember that a Radcliffe must always be a Catholic,’ and I said ‘Yes; that I knew it well,’ thinking that she meant only that her nephew must not be converted to the Church of England by me. Lady Katharine took both my hands in hers, and kissed me on the forehead, saying that no doubt I should be led, by pleasant ways, to see the beauty and joyfulness of that Fold wherein alone poor sinful man could find peace and rest for his soul. This, too, I took for little meaning, because she was so good and so pious a woman that she wished everybody to belong to her own Church. Nor did I yet understand what was meant by the text which forbids an unequal yoke. Certainly, we who had been brought up among so many Catholics, seeing them no worse (if no better) in honour, loyalty, and virtue than ourselves, were not likely to consider a man an unbeliever because he attended Mass. To this day, though I have long pondered upon the matter, I cannot quite persuade myself that St. Paul, when he set down certain instruction of his command, was thinking of the Pope and his followers. No; I was thinking if I turned my thoughts at all in that direction, which I doubt, that my lord might go to Dilston Chapel and I to Hexham Church, a separation painful in the idea, but doubtless it would be made tolerable in time.

Mr. Errington, of Beaufront, hinted at the matter more plainly. He said that he was rejoiced to find that my lord’s fancy was so soon, and so happily, fixed. That the Forsters were fully the equals of the Radcliffes, though there was not yet an earl or a baron among them.

‘My dear,’ he said, being an old gentleman of a very soft heart, anxious to make ladies happy when he could ——‘my dear, I knew and loved Lady Crewe ten years before she married the Bishop: a beautiful creature, indeed, she was, and full of great majesty, yet not so beautiful as you, my second Dorothy, believe me. For thou art as sweet, and gracious withal, as she was dignified. We country gentlemen were too rude and plain of speech for her. I blame her not, and she was born to be a Peeress, as was manifest by her beauty and the awe with which she surrounded herself, as you, my child, for your beauty too, and for your sweetness. Hath my lord told you that your smile is like the sunshine on a field of growing corn?’

‘Oh, sir!’ I replied, ‘my lord hath paid me many sweet compliments, and I think my head is half turned.’

‘Nay; a beautiful woman cannot rejoice too much in her beauty. See now, Miss Dorothy; we are all of us pleased that my lord shall marry a North-country maiden, one of ourselves: the marriage of his father was not happy; we desire to keep all Radcliffes to the north; moreover, generous as he is, it cannot be denied that his lordship does not know our gentlemen and their ways; nor our people and their ways; he must put off a little of the Versailles manner and descend to plain folk.’

‘Oh!’ I declared, ‘one would not wish him altered one jot from what he is.’

‘Nay, keep him as he is; but make him something more. It is not enough to give; he must understand his people. Well, he can have no kinder schoolmaster. Pretty Dorothy! Thy blushes become thee, child, as its bloom becomes the peach. As for the one obstacle, to my mind it needs not to be named. One religion will take a man to heaven as well as another, though Mr. Howard would not acknowledge it; and I am a Catholic, and should not say so. Let not pride prevent the removal of that obstacle. A religion held by so goodly a part of Christendom cannot be wrong; and you shall be rewarded with the noblest young lover that exists, I believe, in the whole world.’

This speech chilled my spirits very considerably. For to change my religion —— what would her ladyship say? What, my father? what, my brother Tom? what, the Bishop? Yet what matter what all together said, if it made my lord happy? And so, at the moment, it seemed a small thing and easy to change one’s articles of religion and accept the chains of the Roman Faith.

Next, Mr. Howard sought me and begged a word. He said, speaking very gravely, that no one could affect ignorance of the fact that my lord was fully possessed with the idea of a certain lady; that the subject was much in his own mind; that, on the one hand, it was greatly to be hoped that he would ally himself to a family of the north, and with a gentlewoman whose good sense and moderation would prevent him from falling into the snares always laid for such as his lordship. But these dangers were increased in his case by his ignorance of England and the English people; for example, that there was, he believed, great exaggeration as to the strength of the Prince’s cause, and therefore great caution must be observed as to any decisive movement; that he believed myself —— that certain lady, namely —— capable of giving good and wise counsel, and he earnestly prayed —— at this point of his discourse the tears came into his eyes —— that should the thing which he suspected proceed farther, such a measure of light and grace might be accorded to that young lady as to lead her to the bosom of the ancient Church —— with more to the same effect, and all with such earnestness and so much affection towards my lord and his interests, as moved me, too, to tears; especially when this venerable man spake of the fellowship in the Church of Christ, one and indivisible, so much was I moved, so deeply did I feel the beauty of the pictures which he drew, that I verily believe, had he on the spot offered to receive me —— if that offer had been made in the presence of my lord himself —— alas! one knows not; woman is at best a weak creature, easy to be led —— but there might have been one more Catholic in the world; there might have been a happy bride: yet, as we may not choose but believe, and as the Bishop himself has often said, things are directed for us; we know not for what reason we are guided; nor can we tell in the great scheme of the universe what part even so insignificant a thing as a young woman (though of good family) may be called upon to play. His lordship was not present; Mr. Howard did not offer to take me to the chapel; and so, with tears on both sides, we parted. Yet it must be confessed that I knelt to receive his blessing as if he had been the Bishop of Durham himself. When one converses with Papists like Mr. Howard, men so gentle, so blameless in life and conversation, so learned and so benevolent, one wonders about the hard things said daily of the ancient Church; one forgets the cruel fires of Smithfield; one even forgets the Spanish Inquisition itself. It is not till afterwards that one asks if it would be possible, even for the sake of a lover, to belong to a Church which yearly tortures and strangles and burns men whose only crime is to think for themselves. How can these things be? How can the same Church produce at once, in the same generation, such a man as Mr. Howard and such as the Grand Inquisitor?

Then Frank Radcliffe came.

‘I am right sorry you are going,’ he said. ‘The place will be dull without you, Dorothy. My lord will hang his head and mope. I shall have no one to talk with. But you will come back soon. Promise me that, Dorothy. You know very well what I mean. Come back and make us all happy.’

‘Indeed,’ said I; ‘would my coming back make you all happy?’

‘First,’ he said, ‘it would make my brother happy, because he is in love with you; next, me, because I love you too, and just as well, but a man must give way to his elder brother; next, because Charles also loves you, and swears he is your knight till death; and next, on account of my aunts, who will be happy if the Earl is happy. All of us, fair Dorothy.’

‘But, Frank —— it is good of you to say this —— but remember that I know not what my lord may intend; and if it were as you say, there would be much to consider.’

‘Oh, the Mass —— the Mass!’ he replied impatiently. ‘When one is brought up in the Fold, one troubles one’s head little about these things. To give up the Church would be a great thing, but surely there can be no trouble about coming back to it.’

This shows how prejudiced the mind may become, when accustomed to the pretensions of Rome. But I was better brought up.

It cannot be denied that the contemplation of this amiable family, all combined in pressing upon me to accept what I most of all things in the world desired to obtain, was very moving to me; and when Lord Derwentwater himself conversed with me on the subject, I was, I now confess, ready to yield unconditional submission. If men only knew the weakness of women, they could make them say or do what they please. But perhaps men themselves are not so strong as they seem to be. Indeed, that must be so.

‘Fair Daphne,’ my lover began, ‘it is sad indeed to think that to-morrow thou must go from us. The sun will shine no more in Dilston.’

‘Oh, my lord,’ I said, ‘do not talk any more the language of gallantry; you have spoiled me enough. I am but plain Tom Forster’s sister, and in Northumberland we are not accustomed to your fine French compliments. Let me, however, thank your lordship for your very great kindness both to my brother and to myself.’

‘Let there be no longer, then,’ he said, and as he spoke his beautiful eyes grew so soft and his voice so sweet that oh! my heart melted clean away, and I could have fallen at his feet, even like Esther at the feet of the great King, and that without shame ——‘let there be no longer compliments between us. You shall be no more the nymph Daphne; you shall be, what you are, only Tom Forster’s sister —— only the beautiful and incomparable Dorothy, whom I love.’

‘Oh, my lord! Think —— I am no great lady of fashion —— you would be ashamed of your rustic passion in a week.’

‘Ashamed! Why, Dorothy, with their paint and patches and powder, there is not, believe me, in all Versailles and Paris, to say nothing of London, which I know not —— there is nowhere, I swear, a woman fit to hold a candle beside so sweet a face as yours. My dear, thou art —— no, I will not make any more compliments. But, Dorothy, I love thee.’ And with that he fell upon his knee, and began to kiss my hand, murmuring softly, ‘I love thee, my dear —— I love thee with all my heart.’

‘Oh, my lord! I repeated, the fatal words having been spoken, overwhelmed with a kind of terror and awe and shame, because why should he love me so much? ‘You love me —— you love me —— alas! how can it be? What shall I say —— what shall I say?’

‘Say only, my dear, that you will love me in return.’

Then there arose in my mind, doubtless sent by Heaven, the memory of certain words spoken by Mr. Hilyard concerning the Church of England —— how that it was as ancient as the Church of Rome, and as safe, and yet unstained by the blood of martyrs. Also, I seemed to see before me the awful form of the Bishop, tall and menacing, beckoning me away.

‘Speak, Dorothy, my dear —— oh, Dorothy, speak! Why are you trembling? Merciful Heaven! have I said anything to terrify this tender heart? What troubles my love?’

‘Oh, Lord Derwentwater, it is —— the Mass!’

He let my hand fall, and for a moment he was silent. Then he began again, hotly:

‘The Mass! Is it a Mass shall part us? Why, child, I love thee so well that I will give up Church and all for thy sweet sake if thou wilt not give up thy Church for mine. The Mass against thy hand! Nay, I too will become of the English Church. Thou hast converted me already.’

Was there ever so fond and true a lover? But I remembered again what he had said, months before, at Blanchland.

‘No, no,’ I replied, ‘you cannot. Other men, smaller men, may change their faith, but you must not. Remember what you told me once ——’

‘Doth my sweet Dorothy remember even my idle words? All my words are idle except my last —— that I love thee.’

‘Do I remember them, my lord? —— as if I could ever forget them! You said, without knowing then what the words might some day mean, that I could persuade you to anything except what concerns your honour, and that your honour is concerned with your faith. Never —— never shall it be said that I sought to turn you aside from your honour. My lord, if you seriously think of such a thing, put it out of your mind. Oh! what is a foolish, worthless girl compared with the career and the history of a great lord like yourself?’

He would have replied to this in the same hot strain, for there was now in his eyes the hot flame of love that will not be denied —— the masterful look which frightens women, and compels them (yet I think he would never have compelled me to accept the sacrifice he offered)—— but Mr. Howard stepped between us. He had, I suppose, entered unseen, and heard the last words.

‘I thank you, young lady,’ he said, ‘in the name of a greater even than his lordship; the Holy Church thanks you. I would that all her daughters were as noble and as truly great as yourself. My lord, your passion is honourable, as becomes your rank. You would neither do yourself, nor ask Miss Dorothy to do, what in her conscience she would not approve.’

Lord Derwentwater answered not.

‘Part here, my children,’ Mr. Howard continued, ‘enough has been said. You, my lord, can afford to wait six months. If your passion be what you think it to be, six months is a short time indeed for meditation and endeavour to make yourself worthy of this young lady. And for you, Miss Dorothy, I pray you to read the books which I shall give you. Believe me, you have my prayers, my earnest prayers, and those of the two saintly ladies of this house. In six months my lord, if he be in the same mind, and unless you have already sent him away, will look for your reply.’

Lord Derwentwater, without a word, fell on his knee again, and kissed my fingers. Then he left the room with bowed head.

‘Not the chief of the Radcliffes only, but also his wife and his children and grandchildren must remain in the ancient Catholic Faith,’ said Mr. Howard gravely.

And then I understood, for the first time fully, that the passion of my lord, however vehement, would never, by those greater than himself, be allowed to imperil his adherence to the old religion. Alas! just as poor Frank had said, ‘You play with us, you feast with us, you sport with us; but you will not allow us to fight for you, or to make laws for you, to administer justice to you.’ So I thought bitterly that I might say, as a Protestant, to the Catholics, ‘You play with us, you feast with us, you make love to us; but you will not marry us.’

Chapter xviii.

A Case of Conscience.

So, after a long ride of three days, we arrived again at Bamborough —— what things had I seen since last we left the Manor House! —— and in the quiet life as of old I had leisure to read and reflect upon the tracts and books given to me Mr. Howard. In so far as they spoke of obedience to authority, then truly I was entirely at one with his friends, because I had always been brought up to submit myself dutifully to those in authority, and especially my spiritual pastors and masters. Yet I was thankful that our own rule was so light and our yoke so easy to be borne compared with the practices imposed upon the faithful in that other flock —— as fasting throughout Lent, and on Fridays, and on many other days in the year. But when the books spoke of Early Fathers, and writings almost sacred, and Decretals, and so forth, then was I lost; because if these things were true, why was not the Lord Bishop converted long since, and the Vicar of Bamborough? And if things were not true, as were therein stated, why was not the Pope himself long since converted? Ah! how happy a thing it would be for the whole world if the Pope could be converted! There would then be no more Inquisitions, no more tortures, no more quarrels, no more parting of lovers. The Bishop of Rome would be but as the Bishop of Canterbury —— and this is a foolish woman’s idle dream.

Truly, I was little forwarded for all my reading. I had no one with whom I could consult, because, as my lord’s proposals had not been made either to Tom or to my father, they were in a manner secret, at least for six months. Strange that Tom suspected nothing. Never was there at any time a man whose thoughts ran less upon love or anything to do with love; and as he never fell in love himself (which in the sequel proved a fortunate circumstance), so he never thought that any would fall in love with his sister. Still less would it appear to him possible that this could be the case with so great and exalted a man as Lord Derwentwater, for whom he entertained a profound veneration in spite of continual assurances, made to gratify his own vanity, that a Forster was as good as a Radcliffe (which no one has ever doubted, I believe).

For a time, therefore, I meditated alone upon this important matter. It would be foolish to deny that I was greatly taken by the prospect which thus suddenly and unexpectedly opened out before my eyes. Natural pride in my own family forbade any feeling of inferiority —— that James Radcliffe was the third Earl was only owing to his father’s marriage with King Charles’s daughter, who must needs have a husband among the Peers. The first baronet of the House received this title after —— not before —— the honour of knighthood was conferred upon Sir Claudius Forster. There was, therefore, no inequality as to family; and as for lands, possessions, and wealth, it may be truly said that these entered little into my mind. But I acknowledge that my imagination was fired with the person and the qualities possessed by the owner of this coronet and these lands; and never since have I looked upon the like of that noble gentleman —— call him rather a prince —— in whom were gathered together so many virtues without one defect. I felt in some sort even ashamed that such a man might offer his hand and service to one simple and inexperienced as I was, a mere gentlewoman with nothing but my beauty (such as that might be) and my virtue and piety (why, there was the rub) to recommend me. He knew Courts, and the great ladies of Versailles and St. Germain’s. Was there one of them too high for him? Was there, among the greatest ladies of the proudest aristocracy in the world, even the Rohans, the Montmorencies, or the Lusignans, any who would not be honoured by such an offer from James Radcliffe, Earl of Derwentwater?

To refuse it would seem madness; yet to accept it would be —— might be —— a sin so great that it would never be forgiven. It is cruel when religion is pitted against love, and when a girl has to choose between her lover and her hopes of heaven.

For who can be converted by merely wishing? Who, by argument, reading, or thinking, can put away from his mind the doctrines in which he hath been brought up from childhood? A woman might bring herself to hear Mass, to call herself a Catholic, to confess, to submit to the Church for the sake of her lover and her husband; but with what despair must she look forward to that day when she must give up the pretence, and confess the falsehood of her life before an offended Judge!

I had from infancy been taught, and now firmly held, the doctrines of the Christian faith as professed by the Church of England. By what reasoning could I, unassisted, exchange these for the Roman Catholic doctrines? And, even if assisted —— say by Mr. Howard —— with what face could I ever afterwards meet the Bishop, and own to him that the authority of this simple Romish priest had more weight for me than the authority of himself, the great and lordly Bishop of Durham? Or with what reply could I meet the charge that I had thrown away my religion to get me a lover? Oh, shame! Yet such a lover!

The soul can play all manner of juggling tricks with herself. Therefore it is not wonderful that a woman should be led away for a time with cases and arguments which at first looked pretty enough, yet soon crumbled into dust and ashes. As that Naaman was allowed to go with his master into the Temple of Rimmon, though it is nowhere stated that he was to profess the worship of that idol, whoever he may be. (Mr. Hilyard said it was the Pomegranate and the symbol of fertility; but who would be so foolish as to worship a mere fruit? Naaman’s master must surely have been better than a fool.) And again, the example of Henry IV. of France, which hath misled many. Truly no more wicked speech could have been made than that of his, in which he spoke of valuing the crown of France at more than a Mass. Put against this the noble example of Queen Elizabeth, who, in the reign of Queen Mary, went daily in peril of her life, yet would not give up the Protestant religion; and, if you will, the examples of King James II. and his son, who gave up three crowns rather than relinquish the faith which they (wrongly) believed to be true. There is no help for it, I suppose, but that women brought up in the Roman Faith must needs abide in it, How much the more, then, that we, who belong to the Pure and Reformed branch of the Universal Church, should cling to it as the only hope of our souls! As for controversy, Mr. Hilyard once said well, ‘There is nothing more excellent than religion; but to raise quarrels over it is to dishonour it. Why should that which is designed to make us happy in another world make us miserable in this? Wherefore it comes to this, that we shall never all be perfectly happy till we are all agreed upon the Thirty-nine Articles of the Faith.’

When that happy event will happen none can predict —— perhaps not till long after the present century —— a third part of which is, while I write these words, already gone; perhaps not till the nineteenth century itself is drawing to a close, and the end of all things is approaching.

Then I laid the case, but with feigned names and false circumstances, before Mr. Hilyard. I inquired of him his opinion as to change of creed in general, whether there were no cases in which it would be allowed (always supposing that reason and conscience went the other way). Thus I put before him (as if the Prince was in my mind) the case of a sovereign whose conversion, real or pretended, would bring happiness to his country; or a godly minister whose obedience to the law would secure his services to his helpless parishioners; or a bishop, who, by outward conforming, might keep moderate doctrines in his diocese; or a gentleman, who, by professing himself of the Church of England, might obtain a commission of the Queen, and so rise to great honour; or a woman who, by acknowledging a faith in which her conscience forbade her to engage, might make her lover happy, and, perhaps in the event, lead him to her own Church.

There never, surely, was a man stronger in the cause of virtue than Mr. Hilyard. If there were more like him, the wickedness of the age would long since have wholly vanished. As for the example of his private life, it becomes not a fellow-sinner to judge. If we may compare small with great, it cannot be denied that the King who wrote (by Divine guidance) the most perfect book of rules for the conduct of life, did by no means set a pattern of self-denial in his own practice. So with Mr. Hilyard.

I put forward my question with much confusion and many blushes, because I feared that Mr. Hilyard might guess the cause and secret purpose of my simulated cases. He answered not for some moments, looking earnestly into my face. Then he, too, changed colour, and gave his answer, walking about the room and in some agitation of manner which surprised me.

‘As for the cases advanced,’ he said, ‘there are none to be for a moment considered, except the last. The King who sacrificed his conscience to his ambition laid open a way to greater evils. Heaven raised up in Henry IV. a champion for the Protestant Faith second only to that great and god-like man, Coligny. Had he adhered, the wars might have continued and France might have been partitioned; but the Protestants would have won their freedom. The duty of a minister is clearly indicated in the history and example of Mr. Gilpin, of Houghton-le-Spring, who persevered in his Protestant teaching throughout the reign of Bloody Mary, ever keeping ready a white shirt in which to present a comely appearance at the stake. Yet, being haled up to London, he broke his leg, which, causing him to lie in bed, saved his life, because Mary died, and good Queen Bess succeeded. As for a young gentleman of a Catholic family, we have,’ he said, ‘many instances around us of those who, for want of a profession, pass idle and ignoble lives, as if drinking and sport were the only objects for which man, a rational being, was created. But as for their consciences, you must please to excuse me. I doubt much whether the conscience of such a young gentleman would trouble him so much as his sense of honour; and once entered upon the roll of regiment, there would be mighty little further question as to religion. The English armies,’ he added, ‘are Protestant to the backbone. That cannot be denied. Yet how far their lives and daily conversation are guided by their religion, and how far their practice is conversant with their profession, I am not prepared to say. If, therefore, Miss Dorothy, any of his honour’s Catholic friends are minded to renounce the Pope, in order to bear a pike or carry the colours, encourage them by all means.’

‘There remains,’ he went on to say, ‘the last case.’ Again he stopped, and again earnestly gazed upon my face. ‘I am not, I confess, skilled in casuistry; nor can I advise as to the case. Yet, were it to arise, I would advise the woman to whom it occurs to take the matter seriously in hand, and if she have friends and relations in authority and high places, to lay the decision before them, as one which affects not her happiness only or the happiness of her lover, but also her conscience and her soul.’ He said this very seriously, so that his words fell deeply into my heart.

‘I know,’ he went on, ‘that a beautiful woman can persuade a man who loves her to any course which she desires; for which cause Kings are led by their mistresses, and, in Catholic countries, the mistresses are guided by the priests. We need not go back to consider the case of Achilles, of Samson, Æneas, David, Mare Antony, and Solomon. There are instances enough of own times. Witness our own Charles II., and the Grand Monarque himself, now a slave to Madame de Maintenon. Truly, Miss Dorothy, an amorous man is like a Weathercock in the hands of the woman whom he loves. Wherefore the poets have rightly feigned that love turns one into a boar, and another into an ass, and a third into a wolf —— why, the French King hath been boar, wolf, and ass in turn. But, you may argue, the virtuous love of one woman and one man is not to be compared with the fleeting amours of a King. That is indeed true; not the less is it true that the woman able to fix the affections of one who, though a husband, remains a lover, may lead him whithersoever she pleases. The case, Miss Dorothy, is too high for me. If I were a Jesuit, I should say, “The end justifies the means; let the maiden confer happiness upon the man, relying on her strength to lead him into a better way.” But I am an English Churchman, and I doubt. The rule is laid down plain for all to read, “The lip of truth shall be established for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Wherefore let this young gentlewoman seek counsel of those in authority.’

Mr. Hilyard said this with so much gravity that his words sank into my heart, and I began to ask myself seriously whether, even for my lover, I ought to do so grave a thing. For several days afterwards I observed that he was agitated, and would go a-walking by himself in the garden, shaking his forefinger as he went, as one does who is in trouble. I knew very well, poor man, that he was in trouble about me, and that he had divined my secret.

I followed not his advice, however, in asking the counsel of those in authority. Rather I put the decision off, as is the custom of women when in a doubt. Time, accident, authority, would decide. Again, a woman must not for ever be thinking about her love affairs. Was there not my brother Tom to think of? Then came the spring, and June was upon us, and my lord’s visit was to come within a very little while, and I was so nearer the Altar and the Mass (yet open to persuasion) than I had been at the New Year.

I know not how Lady Crewe became possessed of my secret, and therefore I was greatly astonished when I received, only the day before my lord arrived, the following letter, sent to me all the way from Durham by special messenger. The letter, wrapped in three folds of paper, was superscribed: ‘These for the private eye of my niece, Dorothy Forster.’ I opened it with such fear and trembling as always seize the person who receives a letter. And all the more because I knew from whence it came, and guessed quickly what it might contain.

‘My dear and loving Niece,’ the letter began ——‘It hath been brought to my knowledge that a young gentleman, whose name need not be mentioned between us, is desirous of making thee an offer of his hand and estate. The hand is most honourable and the estate is goodly. Also the young gentleman is reported to possess virtues and accomplishments quite uncommon even among those of exalted rank. For these reasons, the Bishop and myself would be willing to give our approval to the proposal as one likely to lead to the earthly happiness of both, although the suitor is still a man in very early manhood. My own happiness, as my niece knows very well, has been obtained by marriage with a man forty years my senior, and immeasurably above what any woman can hope in wisdom, benevolence, and true piety. Yet I say not that happiness may not be had between persons more nearly of an age —— when, that is, the husband is able to inspire respect, if not awe, and the wife is filled with the desire of doing her duty according to the submission enjoined by Apostolic law.

‘There is, however, in this case, the difficulty that the young gentleman is a Catholic, and may not marry any outside the pale of his own Church. Nor can he, being bound in honour, change the faith in which he hath been educated. My lord the Bishop hath very seriously considered the case, and asked himself the question whether a young woman in such a position may with a good conscience embrace the religion of her lover. He bids me now admonish you that such an act, even with the intention of, perhaps, weaning her lover from his opinions, cannot be allowed as lawful or permitted on the ground of expediency. Wherefore, my dear Dorothy, should this suit be persevered in, we look from thee for such behaviour as becomes the dignity of a Forster and the duty of a Churchwoman. And think not but that thou shalt be rewarded in some way —— how, we know not, yet believe that she who doth righteously shall receive a crown. Marriage, child, is an honourable condition; yet they do well sometimes who are not married; and truly, I myself waited until I was already twenty-seven before I married my lord.

‘I learn, further, that thy brother knoweth nought of this matter. It is well; Tom is more generous than prudent; his counsels are too much guided by the wine of yesterday. Tell him nothing unless it be necessary; let it not be known for vanity’s sake that this alliance was offered to you; let it be kept a secret, for the sake of the young gentleman, that you refused him. In all difficulties, my dear niece, write to me for guidance, resting well assured that the Bishop is ever ready to give his consideration to the affairs of his wife’s family.

‘I hear little or nothing new from London. They talk of letters between the Prince and his sister; and that he is now at Bar-le-Duc. Our friends in London are daily growing more confident, and the country is reported more impatient; therefore we hope and pray daily that when the Queen dies, though this event may not happen for a great many years, the Prince will quietly return and take his place without opposition, or any bloodshed.

‘I grieve that my nephew Tom doth not yet consider it to be his duty to marry, so that heirs may be reared for the great estate which he will some day obtain. The misfortunes of the Forsters in losing three goodly sons without issue have been so great that I would fain see another generation arise in whom the line should be continued. There were nine of us as children —— who would desire more? —— and now but one survives —— myself. I learn that the monument I have ordered for my late brothers’ memory is nearly ready for Bamborough Church; wherefore I purpose this summer, if my lord’s health continues good, to journey northwards, in order to see that my design hath been faithfully carried out. I am desired by the Bishop to convey to thee his blessing.

‘Thy loving Aunt,

‘Dorothy Crewe.’

This letter was like a surgeon’s knife, so keen was its edge and so intolerable was its pain, even though it was wholesome for the soul!

The inclination of a girl is not a thing with which the world is concerned. Yet I must confess that the pain, the anguish, the bitterness of losing that dear hope which had made me happy for six months, were more than I could well bear. Alas! I know the pains of love as well as the blessings of love. Oh! why —— why could they not let me alone? Why should not I make my lord happy for a short lifetime, and pretend for his dear sake the belief which I could not feel? Happy those who number not a bishop among their parents and superiors!

So farewell, love! And now for a time the sun was to be darkened, the moon was to shed no light; there would be no perfume of flowers, sweet breath of wind: the sea should be a blood-red sheet, and the green fields as a desert of sand, until the Lord should send a softened heart with resignation to the Heavenly will.

Chapter xix.

My Decision.

Just as Mr. Forster’s visit to Dilston is by some pretended to have had a political meaning, so Lord Derwentwater’s visit to Bamborough in the following June is also wrongly so described, as will immediately become apparent. In truth, there was in neither any political or rebellious intentions whatever; but as at Dilston the Radcliffe cousins assembled to keep their Christmas and New Year with the Earl, so at Bamborough the Protestant gentlemen, including those who then and afterwards remained well affected to the Hanover usurpation, gathered together to meet Lord Derwentwater. People in the south cannot understand how Protestants and Catholics can meet in Northumberland without immediately falling to loggerheads and quarrelling about the Pope. And it seems the belief of the common sort in London that the appearance of a Catholic should be the signal for the throwing of brickbats, dead cats, and stones at his head. This kind of piety we do not understand. Alas! it was my unhappiness during this time of company, when everyone expected smiles and a face of joy, to feel that such a reply would have to be given to my lord as would fill two hearts with unhappiness. I carried Lady Crewe’s letter with me always, not for comfort, but for support, for it afforded me small consolation to know that I had the permission or license of the Church to make myself unhappy. Father Howard, on the other hand, would have given me authority to be happy. I perceived, too, that Mr. Hilyard had fully divined my secret, because he now sat glum, and looked at me with eyes full of pity, though he spoke not for a time. This is a grievous thing for a young woman who hath a great secret, to find that a third person has guessed it; for then must she either confess it to that person, in which case she blabs the secret of another, or she must go on pretending to hide what has already been discovered, like an ostrich with her eggs, or the pelican who is said to bury her head in the sand, and so to think that all is concealed. Mr. Hilyard gave no sign of his discovery save by tell-tale eyes, which, dissimulator of looks though he was, could not hide from me the truth that he knew my trouble and sorrow.

A day or two before my lord arrived, he began, Tom being present, to speak very briskly about badgers, otters, cub-foxes, seafowl, and other things with which his lordship might be amused; and presently, Tom having withdrawn, he said to me gravely:

‘Miss Dorothy, I would that I could hope to see the roses return to your cheeks when my lord comes. Believe me, those others who love you (in thine own station and with the respect due) take it greatly to heart that they see you thus going in sorrow and trouble.’

At these kind words I began to cry and lament.

‘Nay,’ he said, ‘there is, be assured, no man in the world worth your tears. And there is remedy for those who will find it, as is shown in the “Remedium Amoris.” Cressida forsook Troilus for Diomede; Paris left Oenone for Helen; Helen preferred, to the tender care of the best of husbands, Paris and the flouts of the Trojan ladies; one Cupid is painted contending with another, because one love driveth out another.’

‘I know not,’ I replied, ‘how there can be two loves in one life. These are idle words, Mr. Hilyard. What is Helen or Cressida to me?’

‘It were much to be desired,’ said Mr. Hilyard, without replying to this question, ‘that the passion of love could be treated as copiously and minutely by ingenious women as it hath been by men, who have written all the love-stories and poems on love, so that the world may very well learn the miseries caused by that passion in men, and its incitements, growth, violence, and remedies. Yet for women there has been nothing (a few fragments by Sappho excepted) written by themselves to tell of the origin, symptoms, and strength of the passion, nor how it differs from the corresponding emotion in men. So that, though physicians may very well understand the existence of the disease (if it be a disease), even though it exhibit to outward view less violent symptoms than in men, they are apt to treat it as if it were the same in kind, whereas (as I conceive and in my poor judgment) it is by no means of the same kind. This I could make manifest to you, had you the patience to listen.’

‘Indeed, sir,’ I said, ‘I doubt not that you are a very learned person; but suffer me, pray, to know my own heart without your interpretation.’

‘For the cure of love in young men,’ he went on, ‘there are prescribed many things of little service in the case of the other sex. For instance, fasting, exercise, study, the use of lettuce, melons, water-lilies, and rue, combined (in obstinate cases) with flogging. None of these remedies seem convenient or apt for a woman; indeed, for a true remedium amoris I think there is nothing absolutely sovereign for a woman, except the comprehension or the discovery that the object of her passion, on account of some vitium or defect which he may possess in mind or body, is among his fellows contemptible or mean. Others think that a woman is most easily cured by the knowledge of her lover’s infidelity or loss of affection; but this produces jealousy, and jealousy incites to revenge, or even madness. Wherefore, Miss Dorothy, I would recommend to all young ladies who are in love that they should steadily keep before their imaginations the imperfections of their lovers.’

‘Oh, sir,’ I cried, ‘this talk is trifling! You have found out my secret and shamed me. You know that I love a man whom I cannot marry. Let that be enough. Why tease me with this foolish prating of lettuce and water-lilies? My lord may —— nay, he must —— go away and find another woman for his wife. This must I bear without jealousy or revenge, as a Christian woman should, because there is no help for it. But that I should think upon his defects, who hath none! Fie, Mr. Hilyard! I thought not you could say anything so foolish and so cruel.’

‘Forgive me,’ he replied, seeing that I was now moved to anger.

‘Why, after this foolish talk about fickle women (I may not have been so beautiful as Helen, but I have certainly been more constant), and about the symptoms of love (as if any woman who respects herself would talk to a man about her thoughts and hopes), and about love’s remedies and lettuces (as if what one eats and drinks could alter the affections of the heart!)—— after all this talk, I say, to advise me that I should fix my mind on my lord’s imperfections —— of all men the least imperfect!’

‘Forgive me, Miss Dorothy. I know of no defects in his lordship, except that he hath made you unhappy with loving you —— a thing which he could not help, unless he had been the most insensible of men. Yet I would venture on anything if I could only restore the merry face of my mistress. Did you take counsel with any —— any in authority?’

Here he blushed and looked shamefaced; I know not why.

‘Lady Crewe hath written to me, enjoining me, in the name of the Bishop, to proceed no farther.’

‘Yet your happiness is more to me —— I mean, to yourself —— even than the order of the Bishop. Wherefore, Miss Dorothy’ (he endeavoured to speak boldly, but failed, and spoke in some confusion, like unto one who first would open up his mind as regards a horrid crime)——‘wherefore let us consider that case of conscience which you once laid before me again. It may be that —— we shall see —— the Bishop may not thoroughly understand. There are excuses’ (he seemed feeling about for them). ‘It may very well be argued that a young gentlewoman, such as you described in your questions, might be considered as an exceptional case; for not only her own, but also her lover’s happiness, is concerned. And he a great nobleman. And though we hold a purer form of faith, yet it cannot be denied that the Catholics have a most venerable ——’

‘Oh, Mr. Hilyard,’ I interrupted, ‘your arguments come too late!’

‘If you are unhappy,’ he replied, ‘how much more I, who am the cause!’

‘You the cause?’

‘Yes,’ he hung his head; ‘because —— because —— well, if I had given a different reply to that question.’

He sighed again, and went away; but looked as if there was something still on his mind, if he dared to say it out. And still he was silent, and behaved like one with a burden on his conscience when in my company. But this did not at all prevent him from being in good voice, and with a cheerful countenance, such as becomes a man who is happy and of a clear conscience, when Mr. Forster had visitors and the drinking and singing began. However, I had long ceased to wonder at the variations in this man, all for virtue in the morning, with a conscience tender, and converse pious and sincere. Yet in the evening, virtue forgotten, folly made welcome, and revelry proclaimed with wicked and idle songs.

The month of June is the spring of Northumberland, and a most beautiful time it is, when every morning yields a new surprise, and the dullest heart cannot but rejoice in the long days and the warm sunshine, after the cold east winds of April and May. In June the very sands upon the shore below the castle show of brighter hue, while the hedges are gay with flowers, and the trees are all glorious with their new finery of leaf. Nowhere, Mr. Hilyard assures me, are the leaves of the trees more large and full, or the flowers of field, hedge, and ditch more varied, than in this favoured country. It is in this month that a young lover should woo his mistress; it was in this month that Lord Derwentwater came to pay his court to one who was, alas! bidden to say him nay.

He came for no other purpose —— though it was given out that he came to stay with Tom Forster, to visit his property in the north of the county (in right of this the north transept of Bamborough Church belonging to him), to talk politics, and whatever the people pleased —— he came, I say, with no other object than to see me, and to remind me that the six months had come to an end.

On the first day, and on the second, and on the third, there was no opportunity for private discourse between us, because there was no moment when so honoured a guest was left alone to follow his own course unattended; one gentleman after another being presented to his lordship, and continual amusements (whereof great men must become wearied) being provided for him. But still he followed me with eyes full of love, and still I trembled, thinking of what was to come, and how I should find the courage to say it.

The first day he explored, with a great company, the dismantled and ruinous chambers of the great castle, Mr. Hilyard going with the party in order to discourse upon the history and antiquities of the place, to describe its sieges, and to enlarge upon the greatness of the Forsters, so that some gentlemen present of equally good family wished that they, too, had in their own houses an Oxford scholar who could keep their accounts, rehearse, as if he were a great historian, the ancient glories of their line, and in the evening sing, and act, and play the buffoon for them to laugh. Truly a valuable servant, a Phoenix of stewards! Lord Derwentwater spoke in great admiration of this venerable pile, compared with which, he said, his own ruined castle of Langley was small and insignificant. He also made some very pertinent remarks about the decay of great families, and the passage of estates into the female line, and congratulated Mr. Forster the Elder (of Etherston) on the happy circumstances which still preserved this great monument for the original and parent stock, not knowing the truth, that the place belonged to none other than Lord Crewe.

In the evening there was a very splendid supper; not, truly, so fine as could be given at Dilston, but a banquet to simple gentlemen, and there was great havoc among the bottles, though as usual his lordship begged early to be excused, on the ground that though his heart was Northumbrian, his head was still French, and could not endure the generous potations of his friends. They would have been better pleased had he remained toasting and drinking with them, until all were laid on the floor together. In this manner, Indeed, many of them proved the friendliness with which they regarded his lordship.

The next day a party was made up to go a-shooting among the wild birds of the Staples and the Farnes, though there is little sport where the birds are so plentiful and so tame that it is mere slaughter and butchery. That seems to me true sport when a pheasant is discerned among the bushes, and presently put up; or a covey of partridges rises among the turnips, or a fox is made to stake his swiftness and cunning against the swiftness of the hounds; but it is a poor thing indeed to stand upon a rock and shoot among a flying crowd of birds who have no fear of man.

On the morning of the fourth day, Lord Derwentwater rose early, and finding me already up and dressed, surprised me by asking for a dish of chocolate. The habit of drinking chocolate in the morning, although it hath found great favour (surely it is a most delightful and wholesome beverage) among the ladies, is as yet little esteemed by the gentlemen of the north. To these last a tankard of small-ale is considered better for the composing of the stomach and the satisfying of thirst.

‘You shall have, my lord,’ I said, ‘as fine a dish of chocolate as if you were at St. Germain’s itself.’

I begged him to wait a few minutes only, and ran quickly and called Jenny, my maid, to help me. Then, though my heart was beating, I made the chocolate with my own hands, strong, hot, and foaming, while Jenny spread a white cloth and laid the table in the garden under a walnut-tree. When the chocolate was ready I found a new scone made of the finest meal, boiled two or three eggs, and spread all out, with cream and yellow butter from the dairy, and a dish of last year’s honey.

‘Your breakfast is ready, my lord,’ I said, like a waiting-maid. ‘But you must take it in the garden, where I have laid it for you.’

He followed me, and protested that he had neither expected nor deserved so great an honour as to be served by Miss Dorothy.

‘I am pleased,’ I said, ‘and honoured in doing so small a service for your lordship, if you can eat eggs and honey and drink chocolate, instead of pressed beef and beer.’

‘It is the food of the gods,’ he replied, ‘or, at least, of Arcadia shepherds. Dorothy, was there ever in Arcadia such a shepherdess?’

One knows not what might have been said further had not Mr. Hilyard appeared abruptly, taking the early air in a morning-gown, ragged and worn. He would have retired, seeing his lordship, but I bade him stay.

‘Here is another of our shepherds,’ I said. ‘But fie, Mr. Hilyard! Do shepherds in Arcadia wear ragged gowns when they rise in the morning to see great noblemen?’

‘Mr. Hilyard will not allow anyone to forget him,’ said his lordship kindly. ‘He discourses learnedly by day on history and antiquity, and in the evening he displays the powers of the most accomplished mime. I thank you, sir, for your exertions in both capacities. Especially, let me say, for the former.’

‘My lord,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘I am like the nightingale. My pipe is kept for the evening. By day I am at the commands of Miss Dorothy.’

‘Then, sir, truly you ought to be the happiest of men.’

‘My lord,’ replied Mr. Hilyard gravely, ‘I have the kindest and best of mistresses, who hath ever treated me with a consideration I should be the basest wretch not to feel and acknowledge. In this house there is not one who doth not daily pray for her happiness, and I, who am the most unworthy, pray the most continually.’

So saying, he bowed low and left the garden, for which I thanked him in my heart, knowing why he did so; and yet trembled, because I remembered my weakness at Dilston, and that I would need to keep careful watch over my words, to discipline my inclinations, and to submit myself and my will wholly to the authority of the Bishop.

Then were we left alone in the garden, whither in the early morning none ever came, except sometimes the gardener. The place was well fitted for our talk, being a bower surrounded on two sides by a hawthorn hedge, now all in blossom and at its sweetest; on the third side having an elderberry-tree, just preparing to flower, and looking upon the bowling-green. Often in the warm evenings the gentlemen would take their tobacco after supper in this retreat.

‘Will your lordship first eat your breakfast?’ I said, when Mr. Hilyard left us. ‘I hope you will find the chocolate to your liking. Let me give you a little more cream; the eggs are new laid this morning; the air should sharpen your appetite’—— talking fast, so that he might be tempted to go on eating, and forget for a moment what was in his mind. But he pushed the plate from him.

‘Dorothy,’ he cried, ‘you think that I can eat when I have found at last an opportunity to speak with you? For what reason, think you, did I come here? Was it to shoot birds on the islands? Was it to drink the Prince’s health?’

‘Alas! my lord, can you not refrain for a little while? Oh, let me be happy for a short half-hour in serving you! Let me talk of other things —— of Dilston. Is your brother, Mr. Frank, well and cheerful? Is Mr. Charles still in good spirits? How is the good Mr. Howard?’

‘No, Dorothy, I cannot refrain. I must tell you —— because I came here to tell you —— that I love you more and more. I think upon your image by day and by night. Five months of meditation have made me only more thy slave. My dear, give me life, or bid me go away and die.’

Now, Heaven guard the religion of a poor weak woman!

Then, while he fell upon his knee and kissed my hand as he had done at Dilston, the same strange weakness fell upon me, like a swoon or fainting-fit; my knees trembled as I stood; my heart began to beat fast, my eyes swam, and I said nothing. Oh! so overwhelming and so strong is this passion in man that it carries away a woman, too, like a straw in a current. And all this while his voice fell upon my ear like music.

‘Oh, Dorothy, Dorothy! there is nowhere in this world so divine a face; there are no blue eyes like thine, my dear; there is no voice so sweet as thine; there are no such soft brown curls, no cheeks so red and white, no lips so rosy. Oh, my dear! if I was in love with thee at Christmas, I am ten times more in love at Midsummer.’

Again I felt the pang, but now with tenfold agony, of the Bishop’s injunction —— ah! why is virtue always so harsh? Again was I tempted, so that if he had, in a way, forced me —— if he had only taken me in his arms and sworn never to let me go till I promised to be of his religion, I must most certainly have yielded. He did not —— sinner that I am, I have never ceased to be sorry that he did not —— therefore religion triumphed, and I remain a Protestant to this hour. Yet at that moment I would have thrown all away —— yes, all —— obedience to my Bishop, to my aunt, the faith in which I had been educated, all to go away with this man and cleave unto him. Never again, never again can I be so tempted; never again could there happen to me temptation like unto this. Kind Heaven will not suffer it more than once in a lifetime.

‘Oh! rise, my lord,’ I cried at last. ‘At least let us talk together reasonably. I am not a goddess; I am a poor weak woman, ignorant and rustic; I am not worthy of your regard. Leave me to my own people.’

He obeyed and rose, but his eyes were wild and his cheek flushed. He walked to and fro for a space, swinging his arms, until he grew composed. Then he came back to me and tried to talk soberly.

He spoke, as he always did, with the greatest modesty about himself. He was fully aware, he said, that an education in France, although it had not made him a Frenchman, very much separated him from his countrymen; so that on his return he found the customs strange to him, and the language, though he spoke English from the cradle, difficult.

‘Moreover,’ he said, ‘I know that my manners are not yours. I have not the frank cordiality of your brother, or the boisterous jollity of his friends; I cannot drink with them; I am not accustomed to their noisy fox-hunting, otter-hunting, badger-baiting; it is strange to me when a gentleman takes a quarterstaff and for half an hour belabours, and is belaboured by, a rustic; in my very dress I lack the simplicity which distinguishes them.’ (Here I could not choose but smile, because it was a kind of nature in the Earl to dress finely; and if fine clothes are not made for such as Lord Derwentwater, for whom should they be made?) ‘Again, I know not rightly how to treat my people. In France they are not considered; they make the roads, plough the land, find the soldiers, pay the taxes, but they are not regarded. A French noble is like a creature of another race, to whom the lower race is born subject. I hear of the English freedom and independence; yet when I come home I am received with ten times the welcome and respect which the French canaille use towards their betters. Here they do not hate the noblesse; on the contrary, they love them. Why, in France a noble thinks little of kicking, beating, and cuffing any man of the lower orders, even if he be a scholar or a poet. Here, gentle or simple, if you strike a man he will return the blow, with the law at his back and no Bastille to fear. So great a thing is liberty! And so hard it is for a gentleman to know how rightly to treat his people! Their friend I would fain be; their equal I cannot be; their oppressor I might be, yet would rather die. How to deserve their love and to retain their respect? Dorothy, let it be your task to teach me!’

‘Alas! my lord, there are many better teachers than myself.’

‘Nay. I have been walking in the village with Mr. Hilyard, and speaking with the people. Everywhere it is the same story —— the goodness of Miss Dorothy: how kind she is to the poor; of what an open hand and tender heart! There are more poor on the Radcliffe estates than at Bamborough; come to them and be their guardian angel.’

I replied, but with trembling voice, that an angel I could never be; and as for going to Dilston, that was impossible, and I must, alas! still remain at the Manor House.

‘There is so great a difference,’ he went on, ‘between the people of France and of England. Here they dance not on a Sunday, nor is there any playing of the pipe; they do not laugh and sing greatly, yet they are better fed and better dressed, and are truly more happy; they seem sad at first, but they are not sad; sometimes they seem surly, yet they may be trusted. Teach me, Dorothy, better to know this brave folk of Northumberland.’

‘Oh, my lord,’ I replied, ‘you are learning every day; you will understand them soon, far better than I could teach you.’

For a reason which you will presently hear, he did not learn to understand them, and with all his virtues never became quite a Northumbrian.

‘And I am separated from the rest, though there are many Catholics in this country, by our religion. This one does not understand in a Catholic country, where the hatred of the faith by Protestants is not comprehended. Men such as myself, who would fain know the true temper of the people, are open to great danger of deceit. Already I perceive that many things currently reported at St. Germain’s were false. In the business of his Highness, we are dependent on our messengers, who may have their own purposes to serve, and may see with eyes of exaggeration.’ He stopped and sighed. ‘For all these reasons, Dorothy, take pity on me.’

‘My lord, if pity be of any use, from my very heart would I give you that pity.’

‘If you give it, show it, Dorothy; give me, as well, your hand.’

I made no answer. It was too much for me to bear, that he, so noble and so good, should sue thus humbly for so small a thing.

‘Let me see with those sweet English eyes,’ he said. ‘Let me be taught by that voice, which is all the music I care to hear.’

‘Oh, my lord, it cannot be! Nay, do not force a poor girl against her conscience. First, I am a simple gentlewoman, and know not the manners of the Court. What would her ladyship, your mother, say of such a match?’

‘It needs not,’ he answered, ‘to consider my mother’s objections, if she have any. She is now with her third husband, and has no longer any right to be consulted. That is not your reason, Dorothy.’

Like all women, I played round the point as if I would escape it.

‘Next, my lord, you want one who in manner and appearance would adorn the high place to which you raise your Countess.’

Here, indeed, he vehemently protested that there never had been, and never would be, one more beautiful, more gracious, more worthy of the highest rank than the fair Dorothy.

‘And yet,’ he said, ‘these are not your reasons. Why, for your sake would I give up rank and dignities, with all my possessions —— happy with you if I had to go to the plantations of Virginia, or the savage wilds of New England.’

‘No, my lord; those are not my reasons. Alas! I have but one reason. Father Howard instructed me six months ago what that reason would be.’

‘Dorothy, have you not listened to his arguments?’

‘Indeed, my lord, I have read them all, and with a heart willing to be convinced, Heaven knows! Why, what should I have to reply when a scholar tells me this and that? How can a poor woman do more than obey authority and trust in the Lord? Yet just as your own honour keeps you to the faith in which you were trained, so does mine forbid me to leave my own save by permission and authority of those who are my natural pastors and masters. For if I did, I believe I should have no more, as long as I live, any rest or comfort in my conscience.’

He made no reply at first to this.

‘It is your honour, my lord, as you have yourself told me. Would it be to my honour if I, being too ignorant to decide on these grave questions, were to abandon the faith of my people, presumptuously give them the lie, and assure so great a scholar as the Lord Bishop of Durham that he is wrong? Can I do this thing, my lord, even for your sake?’

‘Is this, then,’ he asked sadly, ‘the only thing which stands between us? Good God! that we should part because priests cannot agree!’

‘Yes,’ I said; ‘there is nothing else, believe me. Can your lordship think that I am insensible to the offer of so much nobleness —— so far greater than any merit of mine? But yet it is an obstacle which cannot be overcome.’

‘Nay; but for my sake, Dorothy, listen to Mr. Howard. He will place before you, so plainly that there shall be no manner of doubt possible, reasons which shall compel you, without thinking of me at all, to come into the true Church. I would have no pretended convert. I do not ask you to listen to any arguments of mine; for, indeed, I am not a Doctor of Divinity —— I know not how to defend the Church. There are others who pray daily at the altar for thy conversion. When I came from Dilston, my aunt, whose heart you have won —— I mean the Lady Mary —— whispered to me, “Bring her back with you; Mr. Howard is ready to resolve her doubts, and I will pray for her.’”

I shook my head. There was more than a Mass between us. If it had been only a Mass, Mr. Howard might easily have removed all scruples with ease, because Love would have gone before to clear the way. There was, besides, the tall and venerable form of the Lord Bishop. He seemed at this moment to stand before me, upright as a dart, warning me with a frown, which made me tremble, not to sell my conscience for a wedding-ring.

‘Shall we say,’ Lord Derwentwater went on, ‘that your learning and reason are more than a match for Mr. Howard and all the Church? If it be so, then come and convert him and all of us. Only come and listen to him.’

‘Oh, I must not!’ I replied. ‘My lord, I have my own people to consider, as well as my own conscience. I doubt not —— I am a very weak woman —— that the reasons of Mr. Howard, and the prayers of Lady Mary, and my own inclination would speedily effect the conversion which you desire. Yet I am strictly admonished by the Bishop, Lord Crewe, that I already belong to a Church with authority, and that it is the Church of my father and mother.’

‘Dorothy, it is for love! By Heaven, if you love me as I love you, no priest, be he bishop or not, shall stand between us! Keep your own religion then, my dear; worship how you please. It must surely be a true religion which such an angel would profess. Go to your own Church —— have your own priest; I will never interfere. Only suffer me to have mine.’

Then, indeed, was I for a moment overwhelmed, and felt as if, after all my doubts, heaven itself were opening to me. Each to keep his own religion! Why, what could be a happier settlement? And love to remain! Ah, happy ending!

Yet I know now full well that, had I yielded, there would have been worse trouble before me, and the misery of being torn from my lover’s arms when I thought myself folded securely there for ever. No one, on either side, would have allowed the marriage; either I must be received into the Catholic religion, which the Bishop and Lady Crewe, to say nothing of my father and Tom, would never permit, or Lord Derwentwater must come over to the Protestants —— a thing which his people would, with all their powers, oppose.

I was saved by timely, nay, providential, reason. I thought of the dismal condition of parents who agree not in religion, and would each fain bring up the children in different ways, which must be intolerable to a mother; and of the dreadful thing to live with a man whom you fondly love, but concerning whose soul and ultimate fate you tremble continually; and to see your innocent children torn from the true Fold, and brought up in the way of superstition and error. All this I thought upon quickly, and without time to give it words; and then I strengthened my courage (though heart beat and lips were dry, and hands trembled and knees were sinking), and begged my lord, humbly, to go away and leave me, because I could bear the vehemence of his pleadings no longer. But, I added, I should never —— no, not if my days were prolonged far beyond the earthly span —— never forget the honour he had done me, and would pray for him night and morning, that he might obtain a wife worthy of him, and children brave and strong, with a long and happy life, and all the best and most precious gifts —— yea, and more —— that the Lord hath ever vouchsafed to man. Then, being an honourable gentleman, although so torn and distracted by his passion, he desisted, doing and saying no more than to stoop and kiss me upon my forehead, with a ——

‘Farewell, sweet Dorothy! Now must I go —— whither, and what to do, I know not, and care no longer.’

So I was left alone, and, sitting down, could weep and cry to my heart’s content.

How long I sat there I know not; but presently I heard a step in the garden, and Mr. Hilyard returned.

‘I met my lord,’ he said. ‘Distraction was in his look: he hath mounted his horse and ridden away. Oh! Miss Dorothy, my poor mistress, forgive me! it is my fault —— my doing —— all.’

He threw himself upon his knees.

‘Drive me away,’ he said; ‘I deserve nothing less. For it was none but I who wrote to Lady Crewe and told her of my lord’s passion and your doubt. Had it not been for that letter, the Bishop would have known nothing, and long before he could interfere you might have been received in Dilston Chapel. You have been my friend and benefactress, and this is my gratitude. Let me call him back. Why, we need not go to Mr. Howard; I know all his arguments. In half an hour I will convert you myself. In a quarter of an hour I will convince you. I will even ask to be received with you, so as to remain in your service. Be it on my head! It is the least that I can do.’

I bade him be silent, and leave me alone. Yet he was so repentant, and so strangely moved, that I gave him my hand in token of forgiveness, and told him that there was nothing to forgive.

Sometimes, since, I have blamed him for meddling. But, had he not informed Lady Crewe, the thing must have been told her by another, and, sooner or later, the whole business must be opened before her. Besides, he was but doing his duty to his mistress. Yet I have often wondered why, when my lord had me, so to speak, in a melting mood —— when my heart was torn to pieces with pity and with love —— he did not carry me away straight to the altar, when I might have been converted, received, baptized, confessed, and even married all in an hour, and before there was time to remember the Bishop at all.

Chapter xx.

Her Ladyship’s Letter.

Nothing of all this was told by me to Tom or to my father, though afterwards they learned it from Lady Crewe. I saw my lord once more before he went away, but not alone. Nevertheless he whispered, ‘Dorothy! you have chosen rightly; all that you do is well done. Farewell!’ And so he went away, and I lost the noblest lover that ever wooed a maid. Shortly after I received from Lady Crewe a letter, which I copy out for the consolation of other girls who may be parted from their lovers for conscience or religion’s sake. The letter was not brought by the postboy, but one of the Bishop’s running footmen, who also carried with him a great parcel of fine things sent to me by her ladyship, kindly hoping thus to cheer my spirits by the contemplation of black and silver fringe, Geneva velvet, Brussels lace, Italian silk, soft Indian stuffs, white sarsnet, blue and gold atlas, flowered damask, and so forth. It is certainly a great solace to a woman in all the misfortunes of life to have such things to look at, and I dare say many a sad heart may have been comforted by such a present as was thus made to me.

‘My dear and loving Niece,’ her ladyship wrote ——‘I hear from a sure hand that the admonition and advice of the Bishop in this grave affair between Lord Derwentwater and yourself have been duly considered by you, and have borne fruit in your decision, which I pity and am sorry for, while I cannot but approve. It is a grievous thing, indeed, for a woman to send away any gallant gentleman who offers his hand and his affections (yet have I sent away many); much more grievous is it when that gentleman is such an one as my Lord of Derwentwater, a man born, I am persuaded, to be loved by all, a young gentleman of excellent parts and great sweetness, not to speak of his exalted rank and his nearness to the throne. Among the many offers which I received and refused, there was not one so important as this. Indeed, my dear, the conquest of this admirable young gentleman, though it surprises me not, since the beauty of the women in our family hath ever been coupled with that most excellent gift, the power of attraction, yet it should greatly raise you in the estimation of all. There is not (believe me) a young woman in all England who would not long to have so brave a lover at her feet, and it will be all your life a subject of gratitude and thankfulness that this has happened to you. But if I admire your fortune, child, in this affair, I admire your behaviour more in letting him go. Grievous it is, without doubt, and my heart bleeds for your sorrow. Yet, my dear, on the other hand, consider, I pray, how much more grievous would it be to have taken him. For, just as he can never change the religion in which he was brought up, which is that of his father, of his mother, of his grandfather King Charles, and of his cousin the Prince; so you, for your part, can never change your own, which is that of all the living Forsters, whether of Etherston or of Bamborough, and that of your illustrious uncle, the Bishop of this diocese. Picture to yourself a distracted household in which the father is a Papist and the mother a Protestant; the children inclining now this way, now that, as they are swayed by their father’s or their mother’s influence; imagine the unfortunate parents, fearful each for the future lot of the other, and trembling continually for fear whether Heaven can be assured for those who hold to this or to that belief. My dear, thou hast saved thyself from such a fate in the decision which you have taken. Wherefore, learn to look upon the Earl as a friend who cannot possibly become a husband any more than if he were thy brother, and let thy heart be free to listen to the persuasions of other and more fortunate men. Meantime, forget not to take comfort in the thought that thou hast obeyed the admonition of thy Bishop —— a thing much more pleasing to Almighty God than the mere following of the inclinations and temptations of the heart. This, in after years and upon thy death-bed, will afford thee such satisfaction and comfort as the memory of a short period of passion could never secure. Wherefore, my dear niece, I leave thee to thy resignation as a Christian, to thy obedience as a daughter of the Church of England, to thy pride as a Forster, to bring thee quickly to a cheerful and contented mind. Of this matter, for the present, enough.

My lord, I am thankful therefor, continues insuch health and strength as is surprising in a man of his years. To him belongs the blessing of long continuance in the land. We hear good news concerning the temper of the country, which promises to assume a settled resolution of loyalty. I know very well on which side my niece will be found. Rest assured, therefore, that thou hast in me always the same affection and desire for thy welfare.

‘Thy loving Aunt,

‘Dorothy Crewe.’

In this way, therefore, did my love-story end. Because my lover was so gallant and comely a man, all other men have since appeared small compared with him. Nor have I ever been able to endure the thought of a second lover; though many have offered themselves, including that faithful pair who would never take nay for an answer, Peregrine Widdrington and Ned Swinburne. Thus it is that, though an unmarried woman, I have learned to distinguish and to understand very clearly the symptoms of love, which are various, and differ with every man, one becoming melancholy and another joyful, one hanging his head and another dancing, one afraid and another confident; but always the same hungry look in every eye —— the same look as I had seen in my lord’s eyes, though in him much more noble and dignified. But never again, towards any other man, did I feel the same glow in my own heart, the same yearning —— almost too strong to be endured —— to see that look again. Therefore, I think that, though a woman may perhaps make a good wife even to a man who has never touched her heart, we are all so constituted by nature that we can love but one man. This is that high and sacred mystery of wedded life, ordained by Heaven for the mutual support and comfort of man and woman. I have missed that chief blessing, it is true; but I have not missed the gift of a man’s love.

It would be foolish to relate how dull were the days and how tedious the duties of the house after my lord left me. A girl crossed in love is ever a sorrowful creature; all such do I pity from my heart, remembering the pain and anguish which at that time I endured. In such a juncture and at the outset there is no comfort in anything —— not even in lace and silks; nor any joy in the day, nor any rest at night. For the morning brings the thought that there will be no happiness in the day, and the sun uprising only renews the pain of yesterday; in the night, the face of him who is lost comes back in dreams, and hangs about the pillow like the face of a ghost. I saw that ghost by night and had those memories by day. When Mr. Hilyard read to me, I heard not; when he played sad music to me, I sat in my chair and listened not; when he talked to me, I heeded not. Yet he never wearied in reading, talking, and playing to me, and was a most patient, thoughtful creature. At such time the things which happen pass before our eyes as in a dream, and we see them not, and think nothing strange. Why, I remember now that Jenny Lee came to me one day, and after saying that she could not bear to see her mistress thus go still in sorrow, telling me she knew how to get from her grandmother a love-potion, which, if I pleased, she would send by a sure and secret hand to Dilston Hall, to bring back my lord, so that, nillywilly, he should not choose but come. Instead of rebuking the girl, and soundly boxing her ears, I only shook my head and said nothing. Yet this is passing strange —— that a servant-maid should offer to practise sorcery, and her mistress should not reprove her.

Let all this pass: time brings patience and understanding. What had been done was for conscience and fair Religion’s sake. Afterwards, but not for a year or two, Lady Crewe told my brother Tom what had happened, and it was counted as an honour to us all that my lord had proposed and I had refused.

At this time my father, being now somewhat advanced in years —— namely, between fifty and sixty —— was aweary of the long journey to London and back, and therefore resolved to retire from the House of Commons. I know not what passed between Lady Crewe and Tom on the subject of living in London, but I suppose that she agreed to bear his charges, so that he should make an appearance in the great town worthy of his position in the county and his place as a Knight of the Shire. Certain it is that he was elected, being the seventh Forster in unbroken line who thus represented his county in Parliament.

When Tom was away, which was now for a great while in the year, I led for the most part a retired life at the Manor House, Mr. Hilyard managing all her affairs for Lady Crewe, though I confess that so great a scholar would have been better occupied in a library. We continued to read together, and in the winter evenings we had music, chiefly of a grave and serious kind, which elevates the soul and leads it heavenward. It seemed as if he was contented, when there was no feasting or fooling, to lead this quiet life. Often, also, my father would sit with us, especially in the summer evenings, and take a pipe of Virginia with a mug of ale. But as for play-acting, singing choruses, and the like, there was none of it. Nor was there much whisper of what was doing in the world, save for a news-letter which sometimes reached us. Nothing more astonished me when I went to London than the multiplication of news and the swiftness with which the latest intelligence is received and scattered abroad. Again, Mr. Hilyard had often told me that we lived in an age remarkable, even like that of Augustus, for wit, poetry, genius, and learning. Yet of all these wits —— of Addison and Steele and the rest —— I should have known nothing, except at second hand, had not Mr. Hilyard, by great good fortune, lighted on a complete set of the papers called the Spectator and the Tatler. It was in the year 1713, and at Alnwick, whither few books find their way. Certainly, I may truly say that I have never received greater pleasure than from the reading of these delightful works. Too often the wits of the age lend their powers to bringing virtue in contempt, so that a gentlewoman cannot so much as look upon their poems; and if she ventures to the theatre, must, for shame’ sake, put on a mask. There is comfort in the thought that such writers receive their reward in the oblivion into which they speedily fall. Neglect, says Mr. Hilyard, is the certain fate of those who impiously seek to make virtue ridiculous.

Each year, when Tom came home, the house was filled again. Once more the cellar was opened; there was feasting, and, in the evening, singing and drinking, with Mr. Hilyard to keep the company merry. Pleasant it was to see Tom, happy, as of old, with every kind of sport, never tired of the things which always amused him, calling for the old songs and the old stories. But there appeared latterly many strange faces, at sight of whom Mr. Hilyard looked glum. They were nonjurors, malcontents, and restless men, who were not satisfied, as most of us in the north, to wait, but must needs be for ever pushing and plotting.

As for Tom’s way of living in London, it was this —— apart from his Parliament duties. After a mug or two of small-beer in the morning, he commonly took his dinner at Lovett’s, by Charing Cross, a place much frequented by Members of Parliament and country gentlemen. Dinner despatched, he would presently walk to White’s Coffee House, in St. James’s Street, where no Whig dare so much as show his face. Here would he take a dish of coffee or chocolate, with a pipe of tobacco, and, perhaps, if the weather were raw, a dram of ratafia or Nantz. In the evening he went to the October Club. He was never seen in the Park, or the theatre, or any of the places where ladies resort; and while, on the one hand, he escaped the destruction which the ladies of London sometimes bring upon country gentlemen, on the other, there was no question as to marrying an heiress. An easy man, everybody’s friend, and to all the world Tom Forster.

When I asked Mr. Hilyard where the October Club met, he said that he did not know, but certainly as far as possible from Will’s. I know that Will’s is the resort of wits and poets, and it was easy to understand that Mr. Hilyard meant to imply that Tom’s friends were not remarkable for learning and ingenuity. I dare say this may be so, if only for the reason that most of the Tories are gentlemen by birth; now there is no reason at all why one already illustrious by his descent should seek glory in the contest of wit, in which he may be outdone by some smart Templar, or even the son of a London vintner, like Mr. Hilyard. On the other hand, there are many great wits and scholars on our side, and I hope that Bishop Atterbury, or Lord Bolingbroke, may be acknowledged at least the equal of Addison or Steele. But perhaps, after all, Mr. Hilyard only desired to say a smart thing. There is practised among scholars the art of describing men and things in sharp sentences, mostly ill-natured. They call this art wit or satire, but it is, to my thinking, mostly ill-nature or spitefulness.

‘If I were in London, which I fear’—— here Mr. Hilyard sighed heavily ——‘I shall never see again, I would go to the coffee-houses of both sides, and then ——’

‘What then?’

‘I should learn all that can be said against either side. Believe me, Miss Dorothy, there would be no greater safeguard for your Tory gentleman than to hear the Whig argument.’

‘Nay,’ I said, ‘a Forster must be loyal.’

‘Let him be as loyal as you will. But if there is to be fighting let others begin. Her ladyship is much concerned at the continual presence of these nonjurors.’

In the early spring of the year 1712, my maid Jenny Lee ran away from me. I am not able to charge myself with the least harshness towards the girl, whom I treated with kindness from the beginning, although I could not forget the strange things I had myself seen, or else thought I had seen, when at Dilston Hall. But she was quiet and well behaved, and gave me no trouble at all except on that account; and always dutiful, affectionate, and respectful, clever with her fingers, and knowing how to restrain her tongue. I had already designed her in my own mind to marry, when my brother should have no more need of his services, his own man, Thomas Lee (not of the gipsy Lees), a handy and honest fellow, not more given to drink than most, and never drunk until his master was first seen safe to bed. But the end was otherwise, for one day, hearing that the strolling players were at Wooler, only ten miles away, she could not be restrained, but packed up all she had —— in truth, a sorry bundle —— threw it over her shoulder, and marched off, leaving a saucy message to Mr. Hilyard, that he only was to blame, because he it was who first showed her how to act; and a crying message to me that indeed I had been a kind mistress to her, and that she begged my forgiveness, but she must needs become a player, and no other way of life was tolerable to her.

In the autumn of the same year, that is, in the year 1712, we heard of Lord Derwentwater’s marriage. He was married on July the 10th, to Anna, daughter of Sir John Webb, Baronet, of Canford, in Dorsetshire. His wife’s family were Catholics, so that, happily, there was no question of religion between them. She had been educated in a convent at Paris, and I believe that my lord made her acquaintance before he returned to England. By her mother’s side she was also of good blood, being granddaughter of Lord Worlaby, and great-granddaughter to the Marquis of Winchester. He wrote two or three days after his marriage to his cousin, Lady Swinburne, of Capheaton, from a place called Hallenhope, in Gloucestershire, where he lived for two years with his wife, and where his son was born. His letter, which Lady Swinburne showed me, was full of joy, for which I thanked God, praying that his earthly happiness might be continued to him for a long life. We also learned that my lord had further agreed to spend two years in the south of England, among his wife’s relations. I know not for what reason this article was asked for, or insisted upon, but I think with the design of protecting the young Earl from the designs and conspiracies of the more violent among his party. If that were the case, then I would to Heaven that they had made the agreement for three years and a half, at least, when all the trouble might have been averted. I am very certain that there would have been no disturbance in Northumberland, whatever they might do in Scotland, but for the certainty that the great families in the county, and especially the Radcliffes, would be drawn in.

I have never charged my lord, either secretly or openly, with inconstancy, yet I confess that, at the first moment, when I heard of his marriage, I felt a pang, which I believe was natural, though it hath since been repented. Such a charge would be most unreasonable, on every ground —— that of his rank, because a man in his exalted rank must marry for the sake of heirs; and because, if one woman says nay, there are plenty as good as she in the world —— ay, and a good deal better. Then, again, a man may love many women in his life, I suppose, though that we cannot understand. Lastly, his choice was wise, and his wife beautiful, virtuous, and in every way worthy of her rank, and of her husband.

I have told all that concerns the early life of my brother until the time when he became Knight of the Shire. You have seen how he was trained, and how fitted for the part he was fated to play; that is, he was fonder of the country than of town; he never unlearned his country speech and manner; he was loved by all; he was of easy temper; he was but little conversant with books or men; he was readily persuaded; he was honourable and loyal, true to his word, and to his friends.

In the sequel, it may seem to some that I presume to treat of matters beyond a woman’s reach. Though I may be excused if I touch sometimes on these things, I would not, certainly, seem desirous of writing history. The Rising in the North will, I hope, be fitly treated by Mr. Hilyard, who promises to make such a book concerning it as Sallust made concerning the Conspiracy of Catiline (though not comparing its leaders with that bloodthirsty parricide). In this way he will do justice to the actors, and confer immortality upon himself. Sad it would be if so much learning were to be rewarded by no other monument than a tomb in Durham Cathedral.

Chapter xxi.

Mr. Hilyard’s Dream.

It was late in the summer of 1714 that Lord Derwentwater brought the Countess home. Such was his eagerness to return, and hers to make acquaintance with her husband’s cousins, that is to say, with all the gentry of the county, that he started for the north on the very day that his two years expired, namely, on the 10th of July; and, though he travelled with a great company of servants, baggage, and pack-horses, and stopped on the way to see York races, he arrived at Dilston Hall in the first week of August, to the joy and content of his friends and tenants.

As for his brothers, Frank and Charles, they were both in London, but not, I understood, living together, and Charles spending at a great rate, that is to say, above his income; his uncle, Colonel Thomas Radcliffe, was at Douay, where I hope the poor man forgot his imaginary pursuer; the Lady Mary was gone to Durham, where she had a house; and Lady Katharine to live in a convent at St. Germain’s —— honoured no more by the Court of the Prince, who was at Bar-le-Due. Some of the Swinburnes were there to meet the Countess, and Mr. Errington, of Beaufront. Mr. Hilyard also, who was at Blanchland on Lady Crewe’s business, went to Dilston to pay his respects. Tom was still in London, and I was at Bamborough, thirty miles away.

When, however, Mr. Hilyard returned, he informed me of every particular, even of her ladyship’s dress, of which, for a man, he was observant, and made me understand that the Countess had taste, and dressed in the mode.

‘As for my lord,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘he looks certainly older, and is fuller in the cheeks than three years ago; but his carriage is the same. Sure there is no other nobleman in the world like unto him. He was so good as to inquire of my welfare, after asking after your own health and his honour’s.’

‘And the Countess?’ I asked.

‘She is little of stature, but vivacious in speech; her age is twenty; her eyes are dark and bright, and she laughs readily. She has the manners of the town, and will prove, I doubt not, remarkable for her ready sallies; and for a lively temper rather than for the dignity which is so conspicuous in some great ladies —— in Lady Crewe, for example. Her own people all declare that she is kindhearted and generous, though quick of speech.’

‘Did my lord seem happy?’ I asked.

‘There was no outward sign of anything but of happiness,’ he told me. ‘They are reported to be lovers still, though they have been married two years and more. All testify that never was a couple more truly fitted for each other, and yet ——’

He stopped short, but I knew very well what was in his mind.

‘And yet, three years ago,’ I said, ‘he was content to look for happiness with another woman. Young men sometimes mistake their hearts. Let us be thankful that, this time, my lord hath made no mistake. Those who remain lovers after two years are certainly married as Heaven intended, and will continue lovers to the end.’

And yet, for my own part, I had never forgotten his image, which was graven on my heart. But he had forgotten; he could show every outward sign of happiness. This, I say, being a feeble woman, I could not choose but feel. Afterwards I learned that a man may be happy, and yet not forget tender passages of old. We women are for ever saying, ‘A man does this, and a man does that,’ making comparisons of ourselves with the other sex, only to find out our own weakness and their strength. ‘A wise man,’ quoth King Solomon, ‘is strong.’ He doth not say that a strong man is wise. Yet methinks a man, because he is strong, may attain unto and reach that Wisdom, which is to the soul (also in the words of Solomon) like honey and the honeycomb, more easily than a woman.

‘I hear also,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘that the Countess is red-hot for the Prince; and am sorry to hear it.’

‘Why,’ I replied, ‘surely you would not have her on the other side?

‘Nay; I would have her on the side of safety. Loyalty, faith, and kinship call the Earl into a certain path which is beset with danger. Let Prudence walk beside him, if only to hold him back.’

Of late Mr. Hilyard often spoke thus, showing, though I knew it not, a spirit prophetic. Thus can learning make men foretell the storm, and see clouds to come even in a sky without a cloud. In affairs of State who would have looked for foresight from a simple Oxford scholar of lowly birth? Yet the storm was at hand. The first sign of it came the very next day, namely, the 7th of August, in the year of grace 1714; Mr. Hilyard being in the forenoon on the high-road from which Bamborough lieth distant a mile and a half, or thereabouts, presently saw, making what speed he could along the way (which here is rough and full of furrows, so that to gallop is not easy), a messenger on horseback, who blew a horn as he went, and cried out with a loud voice unto any he met or passed, or saw working in the fields or in the cottage gardens, or at open door, or in farmyards by the wayside, saying:

‘The Queen is dead, good people. Queen Anne is dead!’

With this news in his mouth Mr. Hilyard hastened to tell me.

‘Queen Anne is dead!’ he said, for the fiftieth time. ‘What will they do? Nay, what have they already done? It is a week and more that the Queen is dead. Have they proclaimed the Prince? Is he already sent for? Did the Queen acknowledge him for her successor? Oh that we could hear more! If we knew what they have already done! Why, anything may happen now —— a peaceful succession, a civil war, a rebellion —— what do we know? And here sit I with folded arms, and can do nothing.’

‘You could do nothing,’ I said, ‘if you were in London, except shout in the streets and get knocked on the head.’

It is a strange delusion of every man that the course of events lieth in his own hand, and that if he alone were in the right place to order and direct, all would go well.

‘Nay,’ he replied, ‘to shout in the street would be something. Besides, where pamphlets and verses and lampoons are flying, there could I be of use. At such times, a poet makes others shout.’

Then we began again to guess and to wonder what was going to happen. If the Prince had been acknowledged by his sister for her successor, he would probably have been proclaimed on the day of her death. How did London take it? If that were so, it would fare ill with the great Whig lords, like the Duke of Argyll and others, supporters of King William, Queen Anne, and the Protestant Succession. But as for families like ourselves, who had remained staunch supporters of the rightful heir, there would be a time of fatness.

‘His honour,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘cannot expect anything short of an earldom. That is the least that can be given to him.’

‘But,’ I asked, ‘how if the Prince surrounds himself with priests?’

‘Why,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘that would not be endured by the City, and a remedy must be found. Else ——’ he looked so resolute that I trembled for his Highness.

‘And what will the Nonconformists say?’

‘As for them,’ he replied, ‘they must sit down and be content. Loyal they will never be. If they are not content, let them follow their grandfathers to America.’

And so on. We made no manner of doubt, after much talking, that the Prince was already proclaimed, and Tom ruffling with the best on the victorious side.

‘Heavens!’ cried Mr. Hilyard, ‘what a sight must it be! The theatres resounding with loyal songs; the houses illuminated; all the brave soldiers drunk; every sour and surly Whig made to put a candle in his windows or have them broken; fighting at every corner; bonfires in every street; oxen roasted whole; conduits running with wine; the City Companies holding high banquet; the universal feasting, singing, and drinking! Not a glum face outside the conventicle. Heigho! What would I not give to be there among them all!’

He then went on to construct the future history of Great Britain and Ireland, in which he allowed the Prince to remain a Catholic, but exacted of him a pledge that his children should be brought up in the bosom of the English Church; he would also be suffered to have about him such priests as were necessary for himself alone, Catholics being excluded from any share in Government, and the Ministry being Protestants; Lord Derwentwater was to be made a Duke; Tom to receive the rank and title of Earl of Bamborough; he himself was to be a permanent Under–Secretary, but I forget of what department —— I think, however, it was of the Navy, because, like all Englishmen, he loved ships, and was ready at any time to prove that the English fleets were being ruined. As for me, I was to be advanced to the rank of Earl’s daughter, and to be styled the Lady Dorothy Forster. An unheard-of prosperity was to reward the whole country for its return to loyalty. Thus, we were to drive the French out of North America, which, from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Pole, was to belong to the English; we were to establish new trading forts along the coast of India, and oust the French from their settlements in the East. We were to turn the Dutch out of the Cape of Good Hope; to extend our trade to China; to occupy the islands newly discovered in the great Pacific Ocean.

‘Why,’ I said, ‘it is a dream of universal conquest.’

‘It is more,’ he went on. ‘We shall establish wherever we go the teaching of the pure Gospel and the Articles of the Church of England; we shall even convert to Protestantism the Irish people, so that they, too, like the rest of the United Kingdom, shall become contented and loyal.’

A thousand other prophecies, projects, and designs he had which I forget or cannot write down, because it makes my head swim only to think of them. Mr. Hilyard’s head was always filled with such inventions, fancies, and imaginations.

Unfortunately, all this beautiful structure of history proved to be only what the French call a Château en Espagne, that is to say, a castle in the air, a child’s tower built of cards, a dream of the morning. For in a day or two we heard the choking news that the Elector of Hanover had been proclaimed King without opposition. There were no bonfires for the Prince, no illuminations, no shouting of a loyal mob. The ‘Jacks,’ we heard, were downcast and despairing. At White’s Coffee House the gentlemen looked at each other with blank faces; the Whigs cocked their hats and went with sprightly mien. As for poor Queen Anne, no one, so far as we could hear, seemed to pity her. It is the fate of Kings. In their life-time they are the idols (if they believe all they are told) of their subjects; they are models of virtue and piety; they are endowed by Heaven with genius incomparable; yet when they die no one laments; and the praise is transferred to the successor. Queen Anne is dead. Wherefore, without so much as a ‘Poor Queen Anne!’ throw up caps and shout for the pious and virtuous Prince who is crossing the sea in the Peregrine yacht, no doubt full of love towards his loving subjects.

‘Alas!’ cried Mr. Hilyard, when he had somewhat recovered the blow. ‘To the wise man who hath read history and reflects, the rocks resound with the clashing of arms, and the rivers run with blood.’ He added, one after the other, half a dozen passages from the Latin poets, all of which fortified him in this gloomy opinion.

After this it seemed as if there was no more peace or quietness for us, but for ever disquieting rumours. Mr. Hilyard would ride as far as Alnwick for news, or even to Newcastle. Sometimes Lady Crewe would send me a London letter. In this way we heard that London was greatly disturbed, but the City firm for the Protestant Succession; that men were constantly flogged, flung into prison, and fined for loyalty to the Prince: the air was full of rumours. In the General Election of 1714, Tom was returned again without opposition: he also visited Lady Crewe and the Bishop; I have reason to believe that they advised him again to move with caution and have nothing to do with plots. Alas! he was already drawn in, and now too far gone to recede. Besides, under his frank and easy nature there lay, as we all knew, a loyalty towards his friends which nothing could shake. This was shown in the end, when others held back and he led the way.

‘There is,’ said Mr. Hilyard, speaking of this time, long afterwards, ‘a point in the history of all conspiracies at which a man, who has gone so far, cannot retire. His honour is at stake —— more, his very safety demands that he continue; he is involved in the common ruin or the common triumph. In this respect the history of all conspiracies is the same.’

As for this one, which was hatching, as one may say, for fifteen years, how should I know it, except from such shreds and scraps as Mr. Hilyard hath got for me and pieced together after a fashion? The chief leaders who were known, such as Bishop Atterbury, the Duke of Ormond, and Lord Bolingbroke, had with them men of equal rank with themselves. With them were associated a great number of gentlemen: some of them Irish adventurers, some younger sons, some clergymen, who served as messengers —— it was designed by means of these messengers to ensure risings on or about the same day in various parts of the kingdom. Commands were formed; Tom, for instance, was to lead the Prince’s forces in the north, assisted (because he knew nothing of the art of war) by Colonel Oxbrough; honours were to be bestowed and places given to those who faithfully served the Prince. His Royal Highness would himself join the insurgents: at the first considerable success, it was confidently reckoned that the troops would break away and come over to us. As for the Highlanders, they were already safe; our side would give them pay. The Established Church would be left undisturbed: and, as for the Dissenters —— why, in the opinion of most of these Tories, there were few punishments too bad for a Dissenter.

‘As for me, Tony,’ said Tom, partly unfolding this design —— but he knew very well that he could trust his man ——‘as for me, I am assured of a peerage. That, with a grant of land —— some of the confiscated estates —— and a post in the Ministry, will satisfy me. I am not greedy. Hang it, man ——(this bottle is finished; open t’other)—— prate not to me of prudence! there are too many of us embarked not to make it a safe job. Besides, think you, Tony, that I like being my lady’s pensioner? What assurance have I that, in the end, she does not throw me over; or that my lord hath devised the Bamborough estates to her, or to me after her death? And then, am I to fall back upon Etherston, where my father is already so crippled that the most he can do is to keep himself, with his wife and children and my brother Jack? What will it be when madam’s jointure has to be added? Why, half the gentlemen in Northumberland want such a windfall as a successful rising to put them on their legs again. We will burn all the papers, Tony, and hang up the rascal lawyers, who are Whigs to a man, and would turn honest people out of their own, because they owe a parcel of debt.’

He presently went back to London, and we waited, being pretty sure that the attempt would not be far off.

‘Oh!’ I cried, ‘they are strong men and brave men, and the country is with them! and yet they wait and wait, and the time it passeth by.’

‘Nay,’ said Mr. Hilyard gently; ‘but this business of rebellion and civil war is a most dreadful thing, as well for the right as for the wrong. Certain I am that not without grievous bloodshed, and perhaps a religious war as great and terrible as that in France a hundred and fifty years ago, will the Prince come to his own. Consider, I pray you, the sufferings of the wounded, the agonies of widows and orphans, the ruined homes —— alas! the pity of it.’

He stopped, being greatly moved —— indeed, since he understood the measure of the danger and the certainty of the design, he had been much cast down —— and presently fetched down a great volume, in the reading of which he ever took great delight.

‘Let me,’ he said, ‘read to you something on this subject by the learned Burton, in his “Anatomy of Melancholie.’”

He read a chapter concerning war and its dreadful evils. At the reading I was filled with shame that I should desire so grievous a thing. And yet, what to do, since the right cause must prevail, and there lies but one way?

‘The right cause,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘Yes; the right cause, truly. Yet the trouble remains, in all human affairs, to find out the right cause. For, except to women, who are ever certain and sure that they possess the Truth absolute, there is always so much to say, first on this side, then on the other, and that without being a rhetorician or chopper of logic; so that even I, for my own part, do not always discern which is the right. Truly, I think that, in all our human institutions, there is so much of error in the foundation that it infects the whole. For, as to the Divine Right of Kings, how know we who first made the first king? Was it, perchance, some tall and strong man, such as Mr. Stokoe, who elected himself? And have not, in all ages, kings supported themselves by wars —— that is, by strength? Would it not have been better to have had no kings? Rome was never so happy as under a Republic, nor Athens as under her Archons; the greatness of Sparta compareth not with that of Athens. Yet, again, is the ignorant and greasy mob to rule all, being swayed by brutal passions and ungoverned desires?’

‘Do you mean, Mr. Hilyard, that the Prince’s cause is not a holy and righteous cause?’

‘I mean, Miss Dorothy, that the cause embraced by his honour, my patron and benefactor, and by you, whose humble servant I am, is also mine, whether it be right or wrong.’

He bowed his head, and his eye glittered. Never before, save when he personated the Prince in the village inn, had I seen a more noble look in his face. He was, it is true, only my lady’s steward, and a poor scholar, who had been Tom’s tutor, notorious throughout the county for his buffooneries and his singing; yet our gentlemen would have done well had they taken his counsel before they trusted their own.

All this time Lord Derwentwater made no sign, and though an attempt has been made to prove that he was privy to the design from the beginning, it is not true. I say not that he suspected nothing. He would have been a stock and stone, and a fool to boot, not to know very well that serious things were contemplated. But, for his part, he was not consulted; that is most certain. He wished for nothing but peace and quiet, and the society of wife and children. Yet the men who projected the rebellion knew very well that they were sure of him. It was not only that he was the grandson of King Charles —— other sons and grandsons, such as the Dukes of Richmond and St. Alban’s, were not ashamed, any more than the Lady Dorchester, once the mistress of King James himself, to attend King George’s coronation —— it was because he had been the playfellow of the Prince, and was known to be of the highest honour and courage.

Early in the year 1715 —— I think in March —— the Houses of Parliament were opened by the King, who called the attention of both Houses to the assistance which the Prince was expecting to receive. Then we heard that Lord Bolingbroke had fled. Then other rumours reached us; as that search for treasonable papers had been conducted in the barracks; that all officers had been ordered to return to their regiments at once; that the Prince had left Lorraine; that the Earl of Mar had gone into Scotland —— what does it matter to set down all the things we heard and talked in those days?

‘How can I tell,’ asked Mr. Hilyard, ‘which way London doth now incline? In my young days we were all for King William and the Protestant religion; nor can I understand how the better sort —— the Lord Mayor, the Aldermen, Common Council, and grave citizens —— can have changed, unless it be that the stories we hear are true, and that there is not a man about the new Court who is a good Churchman, or even a staunch Dissenter. Indifference and unbelief the City will not endure any more than Popery.’

Then we heard that there was a general flight from London of all the Roman Catholics. This was followed by a proclamation ordering Papists to withdraw to at least ten miles from London; a clergyman in Edinburgh begged the prayers of the congregation for a young gentleman that either was, or would soon be, at sea; riots were reported from Oxford, Birmingham, and other places; and yet the houses and the shipping on the Thames were illuminated when King George went up and down the river; and a camp was formed in Hyde Park.

‘One day in August I received a letter from Lady Crewe, superscribed, ‘Haste! Post Haste!’ She had, she said, heavy news to communicate about Tom. She had heard from a safe quarter that the Ministry had resolved upon seizing the persons of all the principal Jacobite gentlemen of the north and elsewhere. Among them she knew were included Mr. Thomas Forster the younger.

‘I know not,’ she added, ‘what correspondence (if any) my nephew hath had with the Prince and his friends, or what papers he hath in his possession. Do thou, however, Dorothy, enjoin him strictly from me, if he be riding north (which seems likely, since I have had no late tidings of him), that he burn all his papers, and then surrender himself, lest worse follow, unto the nearest magistrate, until the storm be past. In this counsel the Bishop joins heartily. One must be, he says, in such times as these either the reed or the oak. Tom is not strong enough to be the oak. Let him be the reed, and meet the tempest with bowed head. This for thy private eye.’

We read and discussed this letter all the day. We knew nothing —— whether Tom was still in London, or whether we could write to him. Mr. Hilyard was of opinion that, the times being clearly perilous, the safest place for a Tory gentleman was the Tower, and for safety’s sake the more of them there the better.

‘Because,’ he said, ‘they will not hang them all, and they dare not hang one.’

It was soon after dark in the evening, the day being the 28th of August, the people of the village being all abed, and the place quiet, that we heard a clattering of hoofs in the road outside, stopping at the gate of the Manor House; and Mr. Hilyard went outside, curious and perhaps disquieted, as one is always before the arrival of misfortune. He returned immediately, bringing with him no other than Tom himself. His shoulders were bent, his face pale, his eyes anxious, his clothes covered with dust and mud.

‘Quick, Dorothy!’ he said; ‘a drink. Let it be October. Quick!’

He drained about a quart of ale, and then set down the mug with a sigh.

‘Why —— so —— that makes a man of me again. I have been in the saddle for fifteen hours, and am well-nigh spent. There hath been as yet no messenger or officers after me?’

‘None, Tom.’

‘Well, I can lie here, I think, one night. To-morrow I must be up, and away again.’

Chapter xxii.

The Fugitive.

After he had taken some supper and was refreshed, Tom began to tell us more.

‘Everything,’ he said, ‘was discovered —— I know not by what treachery. The King, who seems anxious not to offend the House, asked permission to arrest six of the members, of whom I was one, so that there was time for warning; and for my own part, whatever the others did, I saddled my horse and rode away, and, I dare say, the messenger after me. But I think he hath not travelled quite so fast, and I may be safe here for one night at least.’

He laughed, but uneasily. In his eyes there was the look of a hunted creature, and he started at the least sound. Presently, however, he became so heavy with sleep and weariness that he must needs go to bed, and so, messenger or no messenger, threw himself upon his bed and fell asleep.

We sat up late, thinking how best to hide him; yet not so late but that before five in the morning I was up, expecting no less than to find the messenger at the door. But there was no one. Presently, Tom came, awakened by Mr. Hilyard, and grumbling that he could not have his sleep out. But there was no time to lose, for the village was already stirring.

The garden of the Manor House is separated from the sands only by a field of coarse grass. By crossing this field, which can generally be done without being seen by any of the villagers, one can gain access to the castle by the old postern. It was thus that we hurried Tom to his first place of concealment —— a chamber known to no one but Mr. Hilyard and myself. It is below the level of the inner bailly, but yet not underground, because its window is above the rock, and looks out across the sand and the sea. The chamber was perhaps once used for a place of confinement, though the window is larger than one commonly finds in such gloomy places. It is approached by certain vaults now ruinous and partly fallen in, the entrance to which is itself half hidden by broken stones and briars, so that it looks like a broken hole in the wall. Here we thought he might lie hidden as long as he pleased.

At first Tom was as pleased as a child with a new toy. As soon, however, as he felt himself safe from pursuit, he began to reflect that a cell might be secure but yet uncomfortable. So anxious were we about the main point that we gave no thought to anything else, and considered not the wretchedness of waiting all day long in a stone chamber whose window has no glass, and where there is neither chair, bed, nor table, nor any convenience at all for comfort. The conveyance of these things to the chamber without observation or suspicion gave me the first of many lessons in the difficulty of being secret; anybody may easily keep a secret, but no one knows, except those who have unhappily been forced to try, how hard it is to do a thing secretly, so as neither to be seen nor suspected. In a few days, the history of the warrant and Tom’s flight might be known even in this remote village: the messengers would certainly come here in search of him; it was, therefore, of vital importance that his presence should be suspected by no one. How, therefore, all that day I conveyed small pieces of furniture to the end of the garden and dropped them over the wall for Mr. Hilyard to pick up and carry them across to the castle; how, with his own hands, that ingenious man, as ready with a carpenter’s tools as with a Latin poem, constructed and fitted first a window-shutter and afterwards a rude kind of window-sash; how he carried blankets, candles, wine, tobacco, and provisions, to the cell, need not be related. No one, from the mere fact of seeing us go up to the castle, would have suspected anything, because it was my daily resort.

At nightfall we carried a goodly supply of supper and whisky to the cell, and there I left Mr. Hilyard, who came not away until Tom was so much fortified by strong drink that he was in a condition not to fear the ghosts of the castle, and was, in fact, already asleep upon the hard bed we had made up for him with blankets and pillows strewn on the stones.

Thus our charge began. As early in the morning as was possible without causing any who saw to ask why, I went to the castle, carrying breakfast under my cloak. All the morning I sat with Tom. At one o’clock I took him dinner; in the evening Mr. Hilyard brought supper and sat with him.

After a time our prisoner grew peevish, and hard to please. He was anxious to change his quarters, and had it not been for a scare that we had would perhaps have gone off to seek shelter elsewhere. Of this I will speak presently.

He laughed scornfully at Lady Crewe’s counsel. It would be safe, he said, for him to surrender when the Prince himself could safely surrender, and not before. There was enough against him to hang a dozen men, if hanging was to begin; and he had left all his papers behind to be seized by the officers.

‘When the ship is sinking,’ he said, ‘a man cares first to get off alive. I knew not when the warrant would arrive, so mounted and rode away without waiting for anyone. Why, what matters? If they had not taken my papers, they would have taken some other’s.’

It was a grave business, indeed; and graver than we looked for at first, when we thought he was to be arrested only on account of his opinions.

‘So it is, however, Dorothy,’ he said, ‘and nothing is left but to push on the Prince’s interest. Fear not, child! Why, all is ready; the country is with us; the train is laid. Yet a week or two and thou shalt see an explosion will startle all England. Fortune and rank are before us when we have succeeded.’

‘And if we fail?’ Mr. Hilyard muttered with serious face.

‘Tony,’ said Tom, ‘I take that for a most peevish, ill-natured speech. “If we fail,” he says! Why, do you ask a sailor when he embarks what he will do if the ship be wrecked? or a soldier before a battle, how if he be shot? Hark ye, brother —— there is one comfort for me if we fail. I risk my neck, but not my estates, for I have none. So talk no more of failure, Tony, if you love me.’

Whenever I think of this time, and consider that we were engaged upon so dangerous a piece of work, much I wonder that we carried it through with success. Yet we did, thanks to the extraordinary precautions taken by Mr. Hilyard. For, first, he would have none in the secret at all —— no, not even Tom’s old companions, Ned Swinburne and Perry Widdrington, though they rode over a dozen times for news of their friend.

To them Mr. Hilyard replied that he had good assurance of his honour’s safety, but that until Mr. Forster chose to reveal his whereabouts it would be better for his friends not to inquire. Nor would he suffer any of the people in the village to be informed, nor the maids in the house, saying that these would be the first to be suspected, and, if they were arrested, would certainly, from sheer terror and dread of the whipping-post, tell all they knew. ‘Pinch a rat,’ he said, ‘and he will squeak.’ As for the additional food required, we both pretended great and uncommon appetite. Mr. Hilyard, for his part generally a small eater, though valiant with a bottle, assumed the guise of a desperate trencherman, comparing himself with the Grand Monarque himself, who is said to devour daily enough to maintain ten ordinary people (I mean not in the rhetorical sense, in which he hath devoured —— that is, impoverished —— his whole country, but in the literal sense). Then, after nightfall, he would steal out, carrying a great basket laden with next day’s provisions, to the chamber in the castle, where Tom would take his supper, and they would talk, drink, and smoke tobacco till the prisoner was sleepy. This we did during the whole of the month of August and half-way through September, Tom all the time expecting every day to hear of a rising over the whole country. No news coming to us, he chafed and wondered by what mischance the project was hindered. I cannot doubt that what Tom told me was true, and that so many noblemen and gentlemen all over the country should be in the plot, should have given solemn promises, and should be looking for the business to begin, fills me now with amazement that the result was so meagre. Alas! it costs more than promises to make a Rebellion become a Revolution.

As for the scare of which I have spoken, it was caused by the visit of Mr. Ridley, Justice of the Peace, with three or four messengers, armed with a warrant to search for Tom. With him was my father, grave and anxious, my brother Jack, and my half-brother Ralph, now a lad of thirteen or fourteen.

‘Dorothy,’ whispered my father, ‘surely thou hast not been so foolish as to hide Tom in the Manor House?’

‘Nay, sir,’ I replied truthfully, and aloud. ‘Tom is not here. Mr. Ridley might like, perhaps, to content himself.’

Mr. Ridley told us that he was charged to look for and to arrest Mr. Thomas Forster the younger; that he had been traced north as far as Newcastle; and that it was believed he had taken refuge in this, his own house. I assured him that he was not there. At first he was for taking my word, but his officers murmured. Therefore he said that he must, with my permission, visit the house. This he did in a civil and discreet manner, being a gentleman of as old a family as our own, and by no means desirous of finding Tom. They went into all the rooms, one after the other; first my own, with the maids’ room beside it; Tom’s room next, with his bed ready made, but no sign of its having been used, and Mr. Hilyard’s last.

Then the officers whispered together again, and, with Mr. Ridley, rode up to the castle-wall, where all dismounted, and went into the ruins, my father and I following.

‘I ask not where he is, Dorothy,’ said my father. ‘Sure I am that he would tell thee. But is he safe? Mr. Ridley tells me that there is as much against him as against the Duke of Ormond.’

‘I believe, sir,’ I replied, ‘that he is perfectly safe.’

They searched the great keep from top to bottom; they peered down the well; they climbed the broken stairs; they looked into the open and roofless rooms, along the broken walls; and they found nobody. But they did not know of the ruined vaults, where the ground slopes northwards to the postern-gate, nor did they know that in a chamber beneath their feet, looking across the sands, sat at that moment Mr. Forster himself, with Mr. Hilyard, a tankard of ale between them, and each with a pipe of tobacco in his mouth, as if they had been at White’s in St. James’s Street.

Then they went away, and so we were quiet, except for our scare. For my own part, I confess that I was pale with terror, and my heart beat, but chiefly on account of the boy Ralph, who still kept running here and there, as if, like the foolish and ignorant lad that he was, he wished to discover his brother’s hiding-place; and I was ashamed of myself for being so bad an actor, because my cheeks and eyes made it manifest to some that I was in fear, which made the men continue the search more narrowly.

‘Humph!’ said my father at length, when the officers desisted from the search, and left the castle. ‘Send me Mr. Hilyard tomorrow morning.’

But Mr. Hilyard told him nothing, and so discreetly conducted himself that he left my father in ignorance whether or no he knew where Tom was hidden.

One officer remained in the village. He knew nothing concerning Mr. Hilyard, but thought that if he followed me about he should certainly learn something. Wherefore, I made feigned expeditions, and led him many a pretty dance to Belford, Lucker, Beal, and North Sunderland, and would have taken him farther afield (because he had tender feet), but that my own legs would carry me no farther. While I was thus tramping across the fields, Mr. Hilyard was sitting with the fugitive in his retreat, keeping him cheerful.

And presently the officer went away too, and we heard that they were looking for Tom in the houses of his friends.

‘Let them search everywhere,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘I fear nothing but his own impatience.’

Tom could not, in fact, endure the confinement of his cell; once or twice he broke loose, and I surprised him walking about in the inner court of the castle by day, as if secure that no one would enter: it is irksome for an active man to be kept all day long in a little chamber half underground. Then he railed at poor Mr. Hilyard for not taking his friends into confidence; for not bringing him more beer; because his food must needs be cold; because he would not sit with him all day long; and was as unreasonable as a child, taking the service and patience of this faithful creature as if it were a thing to which he was entitled. At night, with his punch and his tobacco, he was easier, and told, over and over again, how he became a conspirator: chiefly because he hoped for wealth, and could not bear to think that he was, save for the small inheritance of Etherston, a dependent on the bounty of his aunt. I think that if Lady Crewe had given him some part of the estate which she designed for him it might have been better. Yet who would assure her that this part, too, would not go the same way as it had gone before? After all, it is the way of the county; Tom was not the only Northumberland gentleman who loved a lavish way of life; he was not the only man who cast in his fortunes (after they were ruined) with those of the Prince (which, I now perceive, were desperate), in the hope of winning back all, and more. But if he had owned something he might have been content to wait.

Other news Mr. Hilyard got together; as that Lord Derwentwater remained perfectly quiet: Tom declared that he was never in any conspiracy or plot whatever; his house at Dilston harboured none of the secret messengers; to all appearance he was entirely occupied in the management of his estates, and in the new house which he proposed to build, and, indeed, had already begun, but had no time to finish. I have seen a letter written by him in this very month of August, in which he expressed his earnest prayer for peace and quiet, ‘of which,’ he added, ‘we have had so little as yet.’ Ah! had this most amiable of men been born in a lowlier station! Could he, without reproach, have spent his life careless of princes and politics, how happy would he have been! Some of us seem especially born for happiness; they evidently desire it both for themselves and for those they love; they are by nature benevolent, generous, active in relieving those who suffer: such an one was my lord, born to be himself happy and to make others happy.

It was, I remember, on September the 15th, being Friday (a most ominous and unlucky day of the week), that Mr. Hilyard came running home with a face greatly agitated.

‘They have begun!’ he cried. Then he sat down and looked round him as one who is trying to understand the meaning of things. ‘They have begun! Alas! It needed not a prophet to foretell, when the Queen died, the blood which should flow.’

‘Who have begun, Mr. Hilyard? Tell me —— quick!’

‘Let us go tell his honour. He was right; they have begun, and no man can tell the end. It is easy to talk of rebellion; but to play at it —— there, indeed! But let us to the castle and tell his honour.’

He rose, and shook his head dolefully.

‘What hath been begun?’ I repeated.

‘The Scots have begun. Four days ago they proclaimed the Prince at Kirk Michael. I have it from the gipsies, some of whom were there and saw it done. They are reported to be already 5,000 strong.’

This was news indeed. Should we be kept back when the Scots had led the way? Why, in a moment, all the things I had heard since I was a child rushed to my brain. The rising was always to begin in Scotland; it was to be supported by the Highlanders; it was to be followed by risings in Ireland, the West, the North, and the Midland Counties. The project was always the same. And now, after many years, we were to see the great design carried out. The thing was so great, that to think of it actually as begun made one’s head to reel.

‘Yes,’ said Mr. Hilyard gravely, ‘his honour will have his chance at last. It is an Earl’s coronet —— promised by the Chief of a House which is famous, as everybody knows, for keeping promises —— the gratitude of the Prince on the one side; on the other —— what? At the best, flight in France; at the worst —— nay, Miss Dorothy, look not so pale. In war, even in civil war, which is fiercer and more sanguinary, there are a thousand chances. What! The Prince may be successful; the army, as they hope, may join him; the sailors, as they desire, may mutiny; the people, as they trust, may love Divine Right more than they fear the fires of Smithfield; they may love the comely face of a young Prince more than they dread the Inquisition. What do I know? Even London —— all is possible; all —— believe me. Wherefore, courage! we are embarked upon an enterprise full of uncertainty. But courage! all may yet go well, though one may still fear the worst.’

With such despondency did Mr. Hilyard receive the news which filled my foolish heart with joy. But he was never a Tory at heart, being so jealous for the Protestant religion, that he could never believe the Church safe under a Catholic King. He went off, therefore, hanging his head, to carry the news to the castle.

Tom received the news with so much joy, that at first he was for throwing off all concealment, and at once proclaiming the Prince on the steps of Bamborough Castle. Then he would ride about openly and resist the authority of the warrant; or he would take up his residence at the Manor House; or he would enlist as many men as possible, and go across the Border to join the Scots. All these steps Mr. Hilyard combated, pointing out that the pursuit and search after him would be the hotter for the Scotch news; that to resist the warrant would be madness, unless he were assured of his friends’ backing; and that no Northumberland men would cross the Border to fight beside the Scots.

‘However,’ said Tom, ‘one thing I am resolved —— I will leave this cursed doghole, and that at once. Where else canst thou stow a man, Tony?’

‘Why, indeed,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘there is no place so snug as this. But, if proper precautions are used, I see not why Farne Island —— but that when all else fails —— or Blanchland, or there are dry holes up Devilstone Water, or there are the miners’ huts at Allendale, or, if the worst comes to the worst, there are the gipsies, who would take your honour across the Cheviots by a safe path, and so to Lord Mar himself, if you are assured ——’

‘Assured, man! I am assured of nothing, save that it is my only chance. But first let me talk with some of my friends.’

He was so restless that, to keep him quiet, we agreed to ride with him to Blanchland, where he might confer with Lord Derwentwater. We rode by night for greater safety, resting at the house of a friend who shall be nameless —— of friends there were plenty —— in the day. There was to be one more night journey for me with Tom, but of that I knew not then, and rode beside him proud and joyful that the long suspense was to be ended and the battle fought. The God of War is worshipped, I am sure, with as much faith by women as by men. To me, thinking while we rode silently in the light of the moon upon the open moor or in the black shade of the woods, my heart glowed within me, and it seemed as if we were only doing at last what ought to have been done long ago: since the right was with us, the Lord was with us.

‘Yes,’ said Mr. Hilyard, when I told him this. ‘But still I say, happy the man who joins the last, when he is quite sure the Lord is with the cause, and hath proved His favour by manifesting His might. How know we that, if Heaven intends to interfere, the time for interference hath yet arrived?’

Thus it is with men who exhort each other to be strong, to have faith, to rejoice in right and justice, and to make poor women feel certain. Yet, when the time comes, there are so many doubts and hesitations that one looks on in amaze, and asks where faith hath gone.

No messengers had come to Blanchland, nor, we found, had any knowledge of the business reached to that place at all. We rested there one night, and the next morning I rose early, and, leaving Tom in this lonely retreat, rode across the moor with Mr. Hilyard, to Dilston, not without some misgivings of my meeting with the Earl (which were unworthy of him as well as of myself).

Chapter xxiii.

What Will he Do?

When last I saw Dilston it was in the dead of winter; the woods were bare of leaves, and the dark Devilstone Water poured through its narrow rocky banks in a broad stream; now the rocks were hidden with trees and brambles, alder, wych-elm, and rowan, and bright with summer flowers; while, as one stood upon the little bridge, the shrunken water was like a little thread of silver running among great mossy stones.

The courtyard of the castle was full of people —— some old men and women waiting for the doles which were freely given every day; some farmers wanting to have speech with my lord; some stable-boys, grooms, and men with guns and dogs. As we went up the steps which lead to the great hall, he came out himself and met us.

‘Why, Mr. Hilyard!’ he said, laughing; ‘my lusty Tony! how goes it with Mr. Forster?’ And here I threw back my hood and he recognised me. ‘Dorothy!’ he cried, his kind eyes softening; ‘my cousin Dorothy!’ He gave me both his hands. ‘It is four years since we met —— and then —— you are well and happy, cousin?’

‘Quite well, my lord; and as happy as Tom’s affairs will let me be.’

‘Come, let me take you to the Countess.’

Happiness makes young mothers beautiful. Who could be more beautiful than the woman who rose to meet me, tossing her little boy in her arms, while his saucy hands pulled and tangled her hair rolled back from her forehead? She was small of stature, and possessed bright eyes, and such a quickness of expression as I have never since seen in any other woman. She looked at me so curiously that I perceived she knew something of what had passed between my lord and me. Then she made me sit down, took off my hood with her own hands, and gave me a cup of chocolate, begging me to rest after my ride across the moor.

‘And where is Tom?’ asked the Earl.

‘He is now at Blanchland, where he much desires to see your lordship. You have not learned, perhaps, that the Scots are in arms.’

‘The Scots have risen?’ he cried, with change of colour. ‘This is great news indeed!’

‘The Scots have risen?’ cried the Countess, clasping his arm with her little fingers. ‘This is good news indeed!’

‘I heard it from some gipsies,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘There was a hunting-party, where the Prince was proclaimed; and they are said to be already many thousands strong. Mr. Forster, on hearing the news, left his hiding-place in the castle, and hath ridden to Blanchland, where he desires the honour of a conference with your lordship.’

‘I will ride over this morning,’ said the Earl thoughtfully.

‘But Dorothy will stay with me,’ said his wife; ‘we will have our conference while you have yours.’

He left us. As he rode away with Mr. Hilyard, he met outside the castle Mr. Errington, of Beaufront, to whom he told the news, and asked for counsel.

‘My lord,’ said Mr. Errington gravely, ‘look around you. To whom do all these fair lands belong?’

‘Why, truly,’ he replied, ‘to myself.’

‘Then, my lord, do not, I charge you, risk so goodly an inheritance, save at the sure and certain call of honour.’

I know not what passed between him and Tom, but I believe that Tom was all for action and the Earl for prudence. Meanwhile, we women sat conversing of the children, and of household things, and of my lord’s habits and tastes. By many little gentle touches and hints the Countess made me feel that she had heard of me, and how once her husband loved me, and gave me to understand that she was not jealous of any woman, because she knew that she possessed his whole heart (which was, indeed, the case, yet I hope I should never have given her cause for the least jealousy).

My lord came back the same day, and after supper we had a long and grave discourse, during which I discovered that he was truly much in love with his wife, and uneasy at the mere thought of exposing her and her children to the sorrow and unhappiness which would attend a failure; that he now regarded the cause of the Prince as becomes one who hath so great a stake to lose; that the Countess was far more eager than himself (as knowing less of the danger); and that he looked upon the news with distrust and suspicion.

‘Let us wait,’ he said, ‘for the English people to give their voice. Without the will of the people the Prince can never return.’

‘It rests,’ said the Countess, ‘with the natural leaders of the people to guide them.’

My lord laughed gently.

‘My dear,’ he said, ‘a Catholic in this country cannot be a leader. Let us wait. Now, cousin, tell us of yourself and of the hearts you have broken since you conquered mine, but kindly gave it back to me for future use.’

The news of the Scottish rising made the Government more anxious than ever to secure the leaders of the plot in England. Therefore Tom was quickly warned that he must quit Blanchland and seek safety elsewhere. First, he stayed a short while at the house of Mr. Patten, the Vicar of Allendale, and next —— but it is a tedious task to tell of all his hiding-places; for wherever he went, presently, by some treachery, the messengers in search of him got upon his track, and he had to change his quarters. Mr. John Fenwick, of Bywell, kept him for awhile, and here he would certainly have been caught, but that the messenger stayed half a mile from the house to get the aid of a constable, so that Tom had just time to escape, leaving his bed warm, so to speak. This Mr. Fenwick was expected to have joined the rising, but hung back, no doubt to his own great satisfaction, when he found how things were going. For this I neither praise nor blame him; on the one hand, a man is right to hesitate when so great a thing as his estate and the fortunes of his children are at stake; on the other, he ought not to raise vain expectations in the minds of his friends. Had all gone out who were expected or had promised, there might have been seen a different ending.

As for me, I remained at Dilston, and for a fortnight more we expected news, but heard little. Mr. Hilyard went backwards and forwards between Newcastle and Hexham, bringing in such intelligence as he could learn. The Scottish rebels, it was certain, numbered 12,000 men. The Prince was expected daily; they were masters of all Fife, with the seaboard; Colonel Oxbrough, Captain Gascoigne, and Mr. Talbot had arrived at Newcastle to stir up the north, and remind loyal gentlemen of their pledges; the Whigs at Newcastle were bestirring themselves; men were looking at each other and expecting civil war; but London was reported firm for the Protestant Succession, and the Prince and Princess of Wales every day going without fear among the people. And, alas! Lady Crewe, from anxiety for her nephew’s safety, had fallen into convulsions, or fits of some other kind, and was lying on her bed grievously ill.

I think it was about the 28th of September that Charles Radcliffe brought us the news of the warrant issued against Lord Derwentwater. He rode all the way from London to warn his brother; the messenger charged with his arrest was already at Durham.

‘Why?’ asked my lord. ‘What have I done that they should arrest me?’

‘You are the Prince’s companion and cousin,’ replied his brother. ‘Is not that enough? They think they will strike the Prince by striking you.’

‘Faith!’ said Lord Derwentwater, smiling. ‘They know not his Highness who think he can be struck through another.’

After receiving this disquieting intelligence, my lord sat for a good while in silence, and we women waited patiently to hear his conclusion. Then he rose, and began to walk up and down the room in grave thought. We sat still with never a word.

‘Wife,’ he said, at last, ‘hast thou any counsel for thy husband?’

She shook her head at first. But he kissed her tenderly, and bade her speak what was in her mind.

‘I know,’ she said, taking his hand and kissing it, ‘your great love for your children and your wife. You would not rashly do aught to imperil those you love. This I know full well, and am thankful therefor. But —— oh, my lord! —— remember the days when we were little at St. Germain’s and you were a page of the Prince, and I, with my schoolfellows, did all that women can —— prayed for him daily. Should it be said that Lord Derwentwater, when the chance came to bring the King to his own again, hung back, and left to others the honour? Nay, my lord’——(she threw herself upon his neck)—— ‘I know: it is thy life, as well as thy fortune, that hangs upon this chance. Thy life —— oh, my dear lord! my dear lord! and mine with it!’

‘Sweetheart!’—— my lord folded her tenderly in his arms ——‘were there a chance, believe me, Derwentwater would be the first. Yet, I doubt —— I doubt whether the chance be not a forlorn hope. It is already a fortnight and more since we had tidings of the insurrection, and as yet nothing hath been done, so far as we can tell. Patience, therefore. Let not thy quick woman’s wit jump to the conclusion that the business is done before we know if it be well begun.’

Then he turned to me and said, with his sweet smile, in which present friendship was combined with the memory of the past:

‘Fair Dorothy, we have had many talks in the former time over this and other matters: give me thy counsel.’

‘Oh, my lord!’ I said, moved to tears by the sight of this tenderness, ‘what have I to say which her ladyship hath not already better said? Yet I pray your lordship to do nothing rashly, and to think always of your wife and tender children.’

And at that moment the nurse opened the door and brought them in —— two little creatures with fair curling locks and blue eyes. The elder, who could walk, broke from his nurse’s arms and ran across the floor with outstretched hands, crying to his father. The Earl caught him up and kissed him fondly. When he set the boy down again, his eyes were filled with tears.

‘My mind,’ he said, ‘is made up. I am to be arrested, who have no knowledge of any plot at all. I will surrender.’

He looked at his wife; but she cast down her eyes, and he left the room.

‘He will surrender!’ said Charles. ‘What, without a blow?’

‘He will surrender,’ said the Countess, ‘and I who looked to see him riding gallantly at the head of his regiment ——’

I have since that day often considered the case. I think, now, that he was right. For, if he surrendered, it was only one man the less (because he would never force his own people into the service); and, if he did not surrender, he would have to become, like Tom, a wanderer and fugitive, until he was forced, as Tom was forced, into taking up arms.

But in this, as in everything else, fate was too strong for him. He repaired that same day to the house of Mr. B——n, Justice of the Peace (I repress his name for pity, because his repentance must since surely have been as great as his fault was astonishing). This magistrate, after hearing what his lordship had to say, refused (illegally) to accept his surrender (whereby he brought my lord to his death), and persuaded him to return to his own house again. This my lord did in great heaviness.

‘The stars,’ he said, ‘in their courses fight against me. All are of one mind. They say my death is sought. They will not suffer me to surrender. What next —— ah! Dorothy, what next?’

One thing was certain, that, if he did not surrender and would not be caught, he must go into hiding. And this he did. And for nearly three weeks, the great Earl of Derwentwater became a fugitive, living I know not exactly how or where, but in hiding always. And for us who remained behind there was nothing left but to pray and to hope. If we women were Jacobites before, judge what we were now, when all our hopes depended on success! Charles stayed with us, waiting. He was full of courage and of heart, yet even he confessed that London was strong for the Protestant Succession —— but London would come round. As for our armies! They should drive King George’s troops before them like cattle; why, Lord Mar had with him already 12,000 men, and still they came flocking in —— it did one good, at such a time, to have so gallant and brave a lad as Charles Radcliffe with us.

He knew, as well, that the three secret messengers who usually travelled in the north had arrived at Newcastle, viz.: Mr. John Shafto (who was afterwards shot at Preston); Captain Robert Talbot, a Roman Catholic, formerly in the French service (he was executed for high treason); and Captain John Hunter (hanged at Liverpool). With them were Colonel Oxbrough, who had served under King James II.; the two Wogans, Nicolas and Charles; and Mr. James Talbot (who afterwards escaped from Newgate, but being retaken was executed). Other messengers there were, but I forget their names.

I must not forget that one day, when we were talking about other things, I asked him for news of his brother Frank.

He shook his head.

‘Frank,’ he said, ‘is troubled with a grievous cough, which keeps him much at home. Yet would he have ridden with me north, but was prevented.’

He then went on to tell me that he was held and bound captive by love, and that with an actress.

‘She was in his lodging,’ he said, ‘when last I saw Frank, and sprang at me like a tigress when I asked him to come with me. “He go a-fighting?” she cried. “Never! for any Prince or King among them all. Go tell my lord that I have got his brother, and am keeping him safe.” Strange! Frank is bewitched.’

I though no more about the matter at the time, but afterwards I remembered it.

Chapter xxiv.

The Meeting at Greenrig.

There are many stories told of Lord Derwentwater’s hiding-places; as, for instance, that he was obliged to conceal himself in the Queen’s Cave, where Queen Margaret and her son were kept in safety. It is true he met his wife in Deepden, because it is a retired spot not likely to be disturbed; indeed, there was no need for such hiding in caves, for he had made by his benevolence and generosity friends enough among his tenants and the poor people, who would have died rather than give him up. It was, however, intolerable that a man of his exalted rank should be in hiding at all, and before long there began to be spread abroad in whisper that a council of some kind was to be held.

No one knew whose turn might come next. The case of Lord Derwentwater might be that of any gentleman in the county. When the meeting was held at which action was resolved upon, there was hardly a man present who did not expect his own arrest. it was at a place called Greenrig, upon the open moor between Blanchland and Dilston. Five years before the same company met together, but then for friendship and for feasting. Then all faces were gay; now all were gloomy. Even with those who were young and those who had nothing to lose, it is a serious thing to draw the sword. My lord’s eyes were anxious, and his forehead lined; Tom was grave, his look suspicious, as if a messenger might lurk in every clump of heather. I know not how all were called together, but there came Lord Widdrington; Sir William Swinburne and two brothers; Mr. Clavering, of Callalee; Mr. Fenwick, of Bywell; Mr. Errington, of Beaufront; Mr. Shafto; Mr. Stokoe; and a few others. Charles Radcliffe was there —— we all knew what was in the heart of that gallant boy. The Countess was present, her cheek flushed and angry, her eyes flashing. There came with Tom (besides Mr. Hilyard) his friend, who became afterwards his chief adviser in the field, Colonel Oxbrough, whom now I met (for the Countess and I rode across the moor with Charles) for the first time. I may not speak of the dead with blame, but sure and certain I am that if Tom had not fallen in with this gentleman he might have been now lord of the great Bamborough estates, and these free and unencumbered, as Lady Crewe intended. Colonel Oxbrough was born to a good estate (perhaps he ran through it in the manner common to many Irish landlords): he served under King James: he was a Catholic: in manner, he was unlike any of the other Irishmen engaged in this business, not loud in talk and hectoring like Captain Gascoigne, nor boastful like Captain Wogan, but of a calm, cold way of speech which had more effect than loud and boastful talk; in appearance he was tall and thin, with bright eyes, aquiline nose, and firm lips: in manner he was courtly, and in demeanour mild and thoughtful, always showing great regard to the opinions of the man with whom he conversed. Yet of all the rebels, this man was the most determined; he had made up his mind that for Ireland (for he cared nothing about England or Scotland) it was necessary that the King should be a Catholic: with that object he would go to the death willingly, but, further, I think he cared little.

The servants held the horses at a convenient distance, and the gentlemen gathered together, some lying on the turf and some standing. The moor, purple with heather and ling, stretched away on every side; there was no chance of interruption. As for the Countess, with whom I came, she stood beside her husband, her hands laid upon his left arm, her cheeks flushed and angry, her eyes flashing, gazing into his face as if she would read his thoughts. As for hers, I knew them.

Then Lord Derwentwater spoke, slowly and seriously. No one, he said, had the interests of the Prince, his lawful King and Sovereign, more at heart than himself. This was so well known, that a warrant was issued, as they all knew, for his arrest; no doubt his fate was determined before he had a chance of striking a blow. He desired at this meeting to take his friends’ opinion whether the time had truly arrived for rising in the name of the Prince. For himself, he could not pretend to know the feeling of the country; he had lived in it but five years, and never in London at all. But he was fully assured, he said, that nothing should be attempted in England, whatever the Scots might do, until it was clear, first, that the voice of the whole country was in favour of the Prince; next, that a rising in one county would be immediately followed by others in all parts; and lastly, that the temper of the army and the fleet should be favourable. ‘For, gentlemen,’ he continued, ‘let us consider, I pray you, not only ourselves, who have a stake in the country which you hazard in this chance and fortune of uncertain war; not only our own lives, which the common soldier risks for sixpence a day, and every sailor who goes afloat; but also our wives and children, who will be ruined with us if we fail. Remember the many grievous cases after the late unhappy Civil War, when English noblemen and gentlemen were almost begging their bread in France and the Low Countries. Also let us consider those poor faithful creatures, who will take pike and firelock and follow our fortunes. Therefore, I say, unless the way is made plain to me, I will not so far weaken the Prince’s cause as to throw away foolishly my fortune and my life.’

At these words there was a murmur of approbation; but the Countess clutched at my hand, murmuring, ‘Oh! he knows not his own strength. He has but to declare himself!’ Then the gentlemen looked upon each other, and then upon Tom, who presently spoke. What he said was simple and in plain words, for he was no speaker, to the effect that his own part and share in the design was so great, and his name so fully involved, that there was no hope left for him, save in the success of the undertaking; that he was resolved to live no longer the life of a fox in a hole, but should, unless something was determined at this meeting, ride straightway across the Border and join the force of Lord Mar. As regarded the other gentlemen, each knew for himself how far he had gone, and whether it was safe to go back or go on, and he should not say one word to persuade anyone into an enterprise which might lead to fortune or might lead to death. Every man had his own life in his hands, and sometimes it was necessary to stake that life in the game. And so on, speaking, as it seemed to me, very sensibly and to the point, concluding by saying that he, for one, would draw and persuade no one to follow him.

‘He is not a man of books,’ whispered Mr. Hilyard; ‘but Demosthenes could not have pleaded the cause of the Prince more artfully.’

Lord Widdrington followed. I knew little of his lordship, except from hearsay, and therefore I refrain from speaking about him. He was a Catholic, and at this time about thirty-eight or forty years of age, married to the daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Tempest, of Stella; he was also the grandson of Lord Fairfax, and therefore a cousin of my own. His family were lords of Widdrington even in the reign of Henry I.; one of them was killed in an engagement with General Lilburne during the Civil Wars; another fell at the Battle of the Boyne; the present lord is brother-in-law to Lord Langdale, whom his sister married, and to Mr. Townley, of Townley, who joined the Rebellion, but was acquitted. Other connections his lordship had which proved fortunate for him in the end, when all those who had interest, save one or two, managed to get a pardon. Lord Widdrington said, briefly, that it was clearly the duty of loyal gentlemen to take every opportunity of pressing forward the cause of the lawful Sovereign, and that he, for one, should be pleased if the gentlemen present should think the time opportune, and the hope of success so reasonable as to justify them in taking up arms. ‘But,’ he added, ‘I applaud the maxim of Lord Derwentwater, that for the Prince’s friends to get killed, and their property confiscated, would be a poor way of helping his Highness.’ And with that he ended.

Sir William Swinburne spoke next to the same effect; and then Colonel Oxbrough, seeing that no other gentleman had anything to say, took off his hat and begged to be allowed speech. He said, speaking without any passion, and in a low voice and slowly, that, in his serious opinion, the times were never more ripe for action; that since the death of the late Queen men had been looking at each other in wonder that nothing was done; yet he, for one, would be slow to accuse the loyalists of England of indifference, since he was persuaded that nothing was wanting except a leader and an example. ‘Why, gentlemen,’ he went on, ‘here is before our eyes an example which is better than myriads of words. The Earl of Mar began with a thousand men, and hath now with him fully twelve thousand. His army is like a ball of snow, gathering strength as it rolls onward. Do you wish for a better example? Ireland is waiting for the signal; in the west of England they are also waiting; Cumberland and Lancashire are full of loyal men; London counts thousands of the Prince’s friends; his Highness is even now preparing to cross over and take the field in person. What better opportunity can you have? What more can you desire? If any other consideration were wanting, there is the fact that you are all very well known for the Prince’s friends. What private promises you may each have made I know not, but would have you remember that treachery hath already been at work; I doubt not that in a few days you will be secured and clapped into separate prisons, or hurried away to London, where you will be severally examined, and none will know what the others will answer; so that for very fear of betraying one another you may verily do it. This, gentlemen, is a disagreeable thing to contemplate. Yet there seems, in my humble opinion, only one way to prevent it.’

Well, still they looked at one another, for no one would be the first to propose so grave a step. Colonel Oxbrough stood silent, with grave composed look, and made no sign of impatience. But then the Countess herself sprang into the middle of the circle, and with the air and manner of a queen, flung her fan upon the ground before them all, crying, ‘Take my fan, then, gentlemen, and give me your swords!’

My lord’s face flushed crimson, as he picked it up and restored it to her.

‘Gentlemen,’ he said, quietly, ‘enough talking.’

He took off his hat, and drew his sword, crying, ‘God save King James!’ All their swords flashed, and every man tossed up his hat, crying, ‘God save King James!’

‘Why,’ said Colonel Oxbrough quietly, ‘I knew there could be but one end. Madam’—— he bowed low to the Countess, who stood with clasped hands, panting breast, flushed cheek, and parted lips gazing upon her husband ——‘Madam, as it was said of Queen Elizabeth, so shall it be said of your ladyship ——“Dux foemina facti.’”

Mr. Hilyard, who stood behind me, and had no sword to draw, groaned and sighed, but nobody heard him except myself.

‘Alas!’ he said, whispering, ‘Colonel Oxbrough is a dangerous man: he knows that with many the surest spur to courage is fear. That is why, in the ancient temples, Fear is represented and painted with a lion’s head. It is fear which drives them all. His honour is afraid because he knows not how much hath been reported of his sayings, meetings and conspiracies in London; yet sure I am he would have done better to give himself up, and so have obtained a pardon after reasonable delay. As is Mr. Forster, so are the other gentlemen, who are all afraid, and with reason. I except my Lord Derwentwater, who would have had us wait —— but his hand was forced. Pray Heaven there be hereafter no cause for repentance!’

After the shouting there was much talking together and discussion, in which Lord Derwentwater took little part, standing silent and contemplative. When everyone had had his say, mostly in a confused babble, there was silence, and Colonel Oxbrough was heard recommending or suggesting. At last all was resolved upon. On the following morning they were all to repair to the Greenrig Burn, there openly to band together in the name of King James.

So they parted; Lord Derwentwater with the Countess, Mr. Errington, Sir William Swinburne (it was lucky for Sir William that he was persuaded by his lordship to go home, and to stay there awhile), his two brothers, Lord Widdrington with his two brothers, and two or three more, rode back to Dilston; Tom, flushed and excited, to Blanchland, with the rest of his friends, among whom, I forgot to mention, was Mr. Patten.

‘Sir,’ said this worthy minister, ‘I now venture to ask a favour of your honour.’

‘What is it?’ asked Tom; ‘I think this is a time for action, not for asking favours.’

‘It is, sir, that your honour, who, I hear, will receive the King’s commission to command his Majesty’s forces in England, will be graciously pleased’—— here he bowed down to the ground ——‘to confer upon me, unworthy as I am, the office of chaplain to your honour.’

‘Why,’ said Tom, ‘if that be all, my chaplain shalt thou be. And you, Tony, don’t look glum. Think you that there shall be no more feasting and drinking? Wait, man, till we have got the Prince to St. James’s, and then will we make a night of it!’

‘At such a juncture,’ said Mr. Patten severely, ‘Mr. Hilyard can surely think of something besides drinking and playing the fool.’

‘I think, besides,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘of Rehoboam and his counsellors.’

‘Dare you maintain, sir ——’

‘Hark ye, sir!’ Mr. Hilyard replied; ‘meddle not with me, chaplain or no chaplain. The only favour I ask of his honour is that I may follow him and serve him in the field as I have served him at home. I dare say I shall be able to carry a musket as well as any ploughboy in the ranks.’

‘You to fight! Oh, Mr. Hilyard!’ I exclaimed.

‘Nay, sister,’ said Tom, ‘all shall go who will. Yet I drag none against his inclination. Tony, give me thy hand, honest friend. Fight beside me, or stay at home with Dorothy, as thou wilt. If we come well out of this, old friend, of which I make no doubt, thou shalt see I am not ungrateful. My poverty thou knowest, but not my wish to reward thee for all these years of service.’

The tears came into Mr. Hilyard’s eyes; he looked as if he would have spoken, but refrained.

They had a merry evening, after all, with shouting enough for the whole of the great army they were going to raise, and Mr. Hilyard singing as if he was the most red-hot Jacobite among them all. Perhaps at the moment, with the whisky punch before him, and amid the shouts and applause of his friends, he thought he was.

It is not for my feeble pen to write a history of the events which followed. What do I know of armies and of battles? I stayed at Blanchland alone, except for my maid and the rustics of that retired place, seeing no one save from time to time when I rode across the moor to Dilston, and learned all that the Countess could tell me, which was little. Had we been able to look into the future, which is mercifully withheld from us, we should have been wretched indeed. Women can only believe what they are told. Did not Colonel Oxbrough promise a general rising? We were strong in hope, having little fear for the issue, but only for the chances of battle. Victory was certain, but brave men must die before the trumpets of the victors blow.

In the morning early the gentlemen were in the saddle.

‘Courage, Dorothy!’ said Tom; ‘we are going to certain victory. Farewell, dear lass.’

So he bent from his saddle and kissed me, and then clattered away under the old arch, and rode off gaily with his friends. The next time I saw Tom he was again with his friends, but, alas! in different guise.

The last to go was Mr. Hilyard, equipped for the first time in his life with a musket and a sword, and two great horse-pistols stuck in his holsters; but he showed little confidence in these weapons.

‘So, Miss Dorothy,’ he said, ‘I go a-fighting. For myself, I have little stomach for the sport. I think we be all fools together. Heaven send us safe home again! Phew! I am sick already of bullets, as well as of marching and shouting. Farewell, sweet mistress. Alas! shall I ever come back to be your servant again?’

Chapter xxv.

The First Days.

Needs must that I say somewhat concerning the first days of this unlucky Rebellion, because many things foolish and false have been said and written concerning its early beginning. And first, it is most true that not one gentleman joined (except, perhaps, the Earl) who was not possessed beforehand of a general knowledge (I say general, not full and particular) of the design, and had pledged his honour to carry it out when called upon. Yet nothing was decided upon until the meeting, wherefore all spoke truth in saying at their trials that the business was not premeditated. This being so, I hope that no one will repeat the idle accusation which has been brought against my brother that he drew them all in. In truth, there came but two who can be fairly charged upon him. One of these was Mr. Craster of Craster, and the other his cousin, Tom Forster, afterwards hanged at Liverpool. Lastly, I declare that not one among them all would have moved but for the things they were told by the secret messengers, such as Oxbrough, Gascoigne, and Talbot —— I mean such things as have been already repeated concerning the temper of the country. Never was a company of honourable gentlemen (as I have since fully learned) so vilely deceived and betrayed to their own destruction as these unfortunate gentlemen of Northumberland. Had I known then what now I know, I would myself have stabbed Colonel Oxbrough to the heart with my scissors. For there was no rising in the West of England at all, and only a riot or two in the Midland Counties; nor any rising in Ireland, where most we expected and looked for one; and as for the great promises which we had, it will be seen presently to how much they amounted. Yet the poor gentleman may himself have been deceived, and in the end he met his death with great fortitude.

There were about twenty gentlemen who rode out with Tom. They were, if I remember rightly, Mr. William Clavering, of Callalee, and his brother John; Mr. George Collingwood; four Shaftoes —— namely, Mr. William Shafto, of Bavington, and three others; Mr. George Gibson; Dick Stokoe; Mr. George Sanderson, of Highlee, and Mr. William Sanderson; Mr. Will Charleton the younger, of the Tower; Mr. John Hunter; Mr. William Craster; my cousin, Thomas Forster; Mr. Thomas Lisle; Mr. Thomas Riddle the younger, of Swinburne Castle; Mr. John Crofts, of Wooler; Mr. John Beaumont; Mr. Robert Cotton, and Mr. John Cotton, his son. With them rode Mr. Patten and Mr. Hilyard, the former swelling like a bishop (as he already thought himself), in a new cassock and great wig, and the latter riding last, with anxious face. Some of them rode out from Blanchland, but most came from Hexham.

They made no stay at Greenrig, but, thinking the place inconvenient, they rode on to the top of an adjacent hill, called the Waterfalls, whence they presently discerned Lord Derwentwater approaching with his friends. It hath been reported, and I have never heard to the contrary, that on the evening before he left the home to which he was to return no more, and in the grounds of his house, the Earl met a ghost, or spirit, who spoke to him, and promised (being one of those spirits who are permitted to tell the truth with intent to lead astray) that he should never fall in battle. I know not how this may be: I saw and spoke with my lord but once again, and he made no mention of this circumstance. But I am well assured that all night long his favourite dog howled and cried; and, when he mounted his horse in the morning, the creature reared and backed, and could not be persuaded to advance; which makes me think that a friendly spirit barred the way, as was done unto Balaam a long time ago —— only, in this case, the angel became not visible; and, when one of the grooms led the horse forward, he fell to trembling, and became covered with sweat and foam. Moreover, my lord found, soon after starting, that the ring which he always wore (it had been his grandmother’s gift to him) was lost or left behind. In spite of these ill omens and manifest warnings, he bore himself with a cheerful countenance; and, if he had misgivings, communicated none of them to those around him, who were, indeed, a joyful company, laughing and racing as they rode. He had with him his brother Charles; Lord Widdrington and his two brothers; Mr. Edward Howard, brother of the Duke of Norfolk; Mr. Walter Tancred, brother of Sir Thomas; Sir William Swinburne’s two brothers, Ned and Charles; Lord Widdrington’s brother-in-law, Mr. Richard Townley; Mr. Errington, of Beaufront; Mr. Philip Hudson, uncle to Lord Widdrington; and one or two others. The numbers of the gentlemen thus joined together amounted in all to about sixty horsemen, of whom twenty were servants. This was not, to be sure, a large force with which to take the field against King George’s armies. But they expected no more at the beginning, and rode north that day to Rothbury, the news of what was doing spreading like wildfire through the country. At Rothbury their numbers were much increased; though, for the present, they would enlist none of the country people, only bade them sit down and wait, for their time should come before long. Now this, Mr. Hilyard hath always maintained, was their first and capital error; for they should have listed all who came that were able to carry pike and firelock, and not to have refused any. Then, whether their army were well or ill-equipped, the fame and rumour of the great numbers flocking to them would have been spread abroad, and so many thousands encouraged to enlist. Besides, those who would have joined, on seeing the gallant show of gentlemen and their mighty following, lost heart, or became cold, when they had passed by, and remembered only the danger when their offers to join might have been accepted with joy. However, this was only one of the many mistakes made, Colonel Oxbrough, the principal adviser, being one who knew not the country, and vainly imagined that the rustics of Northumberland are as hostile to the Government, and as full of hatred, as are the wild kernes of Ireland, which was a great mistake to make.

Next day, being Saturday, the 7th of October, they marched upon Warkworth; and there, at the gates of the old castle, the General (no other than Tom), wearing a mask —— but why, I know not, because all the world knew him —— proclaimed King James III. of Great Britain. It was done with trumpet and drum, and one acting as herald (I suspect, Mr. Hilyard; but he hath never avowed the fact). On the next day, being Sunday, the General sent orders to Mr. Ion, vicar of the parish, that he should pray for King James; and, on his refusing, commanded Mr. Buxton, Chaplain of the Forces (Mr. Patten being, as it were, Domestic Chaplain to the General), to read the service, which was done, and a very stirring sermon was preached, full of exhortations to be manful to the cause, and to fight valiantly. On Monday, the 10th, they rode to Morpeth, and there received seventy gentlemen from over the Border. They were now 300 strong, and all gentlemen. Had they taken all who offered, they might have been 3,000 strong. Here they were all rejoiced by the news that Mr. Launcelot Errington, with half a dozen companions, had boldly captured the castle on Holy Island. They did not hold it long; but it is by such feats of bravery that the hearts of others are uplifted. If they could keep the place, they could signal friends at sea, who were expected daily, with supplies of arms and officers. At Morpeth they again proclaimed the Chevalier. Here they were joined by a good many other gentlemen; but still they refused the common people. Now, considering that foot soldiers are the greatest and most important part of an army, it seems madness not to have taken them. ‘A dozen times,’ Mr. Hilyard hath said since, ‘was I tempted to proffer my humble counsel to the General; but refrained, seeing that I was the lowest of the gentlemen volunteers, and he now surrounded by noblemen and officers. Yet I would to Heaven I had had but a single hour with him alone over a pipe, as in the old days, when he would honour me by asking my mind!’

Another dreadful mistake, though one which was afterwards pleaded in excuse, was that the gentlemen did not bring with them every man that could be raised. Lord Derwentwater, for example, could have raised and armed well-nigh a thousand men; yet he brought none with him, except half a dozen servants.

‘They were struck,’ said Mr. Hilyard afterwards in London, ‘with that kind of madness, in virtue of which men do nothing right, but see everything as through a distorted glass, and so commit one fault after another, and do all wrong. It is not a phrensy, ecstasy, or the fury which comes from love, study, or religious fury, but one which deprives the reason of judgment, the body being sound and well; and is, I doubt not, a demoniacal possession, permitted for high purposes by Heaven itself, against which we ought to pray. Who but madmen would have refused to enlist the common sort? Who but madmen would have left behind them their own people, who were an army ready to hand? Who but such would have gone into a campaign without arms, ammunition, ordnance, provisions, or any thought for supplying them?’

Their first design was to get possession of Newcastle, of which town they had great hopes; and they sent Charles Radcliffe forward with a troop of horse to take and hold Felton Bridge, which was done with great valour.

And here they met with their first disappointment, expecting that Newcastle would open its gates to them, whereas, on the contrary, the gates of that city were closed tight, and the citizens and keelmen armed, and the friends of the Prince had to lie snug and quiet. There is no doubt that they were promised the town would receive them, and a great accession to their strength it would have been, being strongly fortified, rich, populous, and inhabited by a sturdy and valiant race of men, most of whom would have followed the rising tide of success. However, this failed, and on the 18th of October the town was occupied by General Carpenter with Hotham’s Regiment of Foot, and Cobham’s, Molesworth’s, and Churchill’s Dragoons. Meantime, therefore, the insurgents withdrew to Hexham, where they stayed three days, the men billeted upon the inhabitants, but all well-behaved and among friends, though the vicar refused, like Mr. Ion of Warkworth, to pray for King James. Here the joyful news came that Lord Kenmure, with the Earls of Nithsdale, Carnwath, and Wintoun had taken arms in the south of Scotland, and had set up the King’s standard (worked by Lady Kenmure, very handsome in blue silk, with white pennants) in the town of Moffat. After a little marching and onlisting they crossed over the Cheviots, Lord Kenmure commanding, and came to Rothbury, whence they sent a message to General Forster to know his mind. The latter replied that he would join them, and accordingly the English forces marched north and joined the Scotch; after which they crossed the Border again and went to Kelso, where, on the Sunday, Mr. Patten preached a very stirring sermon from the text, ‘The right of the firstborn is his,’ handling the subject, as Mr. Hilyard assures me, most masterly.

On the Monday the men were drawn up in the market-place, where, the colours flying, the drums beating, and the bagpipes playing, the King was solemnly proclaimed, and the Earl of Mar’s manifesto read aloud. Their army consisted now of about 1,500 foot and 700 horse, to oppose whom General Carpenter had no more than 900 men, horse and foot, and these raw soldiers for the most part. There were, therefore, two courses open to them —— I mean sensible courses —— either they might march northwards and attack the Duke of Argyll’s army in the rear, which would greatly strengthen the Earl of Mar and embolden his followers; or they might cross the Border again and fall upon General Carpenter before he got any reinforcements. Thus would they strike a most telling blow, and one that would encourage the whole party in England. But alas! counsels were divided; there were jealousies between Scots and English; the Scottish officers refused to enter England, while the English would not enter Scotland. They therefore marched without purpose or aim, except, as it seemed to friends and foes alike, with intent to escape General Carpenter, along the northern slopes of the Cheviots, until they came to Langholm in Eskdale, where it was resolved, against the opinion of Lord Derwentwater, to invade Lancashire, most of the gentlemen believing (on the faith of promises and the assurances of the Irish officers) that in this Catholic county 20,000 men would rise and join them. The sequel shows how much reliance could be placed on these assurances. On the way south a good many of the Scots deserted and went home; on Penrith Fell they encountered, being then about 1,700 strong, the whole body of militia, called together and arrayed by the sheriff, armed with pitchforks, pikes, and all kinds of rustic weapons. They numbered 10,000, but at sight of the insurgents they turned and ran without a blow being struck. It was a bloodless victory, and ought to have raised the spirits of our men; but it did not, because the leaders were already dashed (and showed it in their bearing) by the smallness of their numbers and their own dissensions. The only men among them all, Mr. Hilyard tells me, who kept their cheerfulness were Charles Radcliffe, Colonel Oxbrough, whose courage and calmness no misfortunes could depress, and Mr. Patten, who, until the end came, could not believe that an army in which were so many noblemen and gentlemen could fail to be victorious. After occupying Appleby, and obtaining a good number of horses, also saddles, firelocks, and other useful things, they were joined by some of the Catholic families of Lancashire, together with a few Protestants; but as for the 20,000 men who were to rally round them, they were nowhere visible. At Appleby about 500 Scotsmen deserted the camp, and marched homewards again, selling their guns as they went for food. Among them were sixteen or seventeen gentlemen of Teviotdale, who liked not the prospect. I would to Heaven that every man had deserted, and the whole army had melted away! From Appleby they marched to Kendal, where Tom’s godmother, Mrs. Bellingham, was living; but she refused to see her godson, being all for the Protestant Succession. From Kendal they made for Lancaster, which they entered on the 7th of November, and there, indeed, they expected great additions, but I cannot hear that many came in. They stayed at Lancaster for three days, and were hospitably received by the ladies, who dressed themselves in their bravest, and invited the gentlemen to drink tea with them. On the 10th of November they reached Preston —— which was to prove the end of their invasion. Here they were joined by nearly a thousand Catholics and their followers. And, as I have enumerated most of the Northumberland gentlemen, let me also set down some of these Lancashire names who, to their honour, were so loyal to their Prince. They were Mr. Richard Chorley, of Chorley, and his son Charles (the father shot at Liverpool, and the son died in gaol); Mr. Ralph Standish (pardoned); Mr. Francis Anderton (sentenced, but pardoned, though I believe he lost his estate of $2,000 a year); Mr. John Dalton and Mr. Edward Tildesly (both pardoned); Mr. Richard Butler, of Raclife (died in Newgate), and Mr. John Beaumont (escaped); Mr. Hodgson, of Leighton Hall; Mr. Dalton, of Thurnham; Mr. Hilton, of Cartmel; Mr. Butler, of Rowcliff; and others whose names I have been told, but have forgotten. I must not omit the unfortunate Mr. William Paul, clerk, Master of Arts, of St. John’s College, Cambridge. This poor man, the Vicar of Horton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire, gave up his living, and trudged north, dressed in a blue coat, laced hat, long wig, and sword, as if he was a layman, to join the army (and meet an ignominious death, as it proved, upon the scaffold), and all, I believe, because his old friend Tom Forster, who was kind to him when he was a poor scholar of St. John’s College, Cambridge, was General. He not only joined the army, but he did excellent service in bringing news of General Carpenter’s strength and movements.

At Preston great hopes were raised, so many coming in, whose rebellion of a day or two cost them dear. Reports were brought from Manchester that the leading people in the town were well-disposed towards the Prince. Lord Derwentwater himself went thither secretly, and held a meeting with some of the gentlemen there in order to arrange for a rising, but I have not heard with what success. Then it was expected that the Duke of Ormond would have joined them with at least 3,000 men. I know not, nor have ever been able to learn, why nothing was done in Ireland or in the West of England. Opportunities lost never return, and although I am convinced that never in the history of the world were gentlemen more deceived, yet I cannot understand why, the cause itself being so righteous, the end was not more successful. All might have gone well. Alas! where was the prudence? The English General (my poor brother) had no military knowledge, and, though he was advised by Colonel Oxbrough, the lords and gentlemen of the council were too proud to be led by him, and Tom was not strong enough to command. How could he command his old friends and fellows against their will?

Meantime, while they were considering whether they should advance on Liverpool, General Willes had joined General Carpenter, and was marching on Preston, resolved to attack the rebels with such forces as he had. Look now! King George’s troops were but 1,000 in all, or 1,200 at the most, and the insurgents had nigh upon 3,000! Doth it not make one’s blood boil to think how, being more than twice their enemy in number, brave men’s lives were thrown away, and a righteous cause destroyed? But to enumerate the mistakes made by our people makes me sure that the blessing of Heaven was withheld from the very first, we know not why, and it is well not to inquire too closely. Weak human wit cannot discover why the Right doth not always triumph, or why, for the sins of princes, the people should be punished.

‘I know not,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘what was said and proposed at the councils of war, save that Mr. Charles Radcliffe came from them always in a rage, and the Earl hanging his head, and the General troubled and perplexed. I think that if Colonel Oxbrough’s advice had been taken, things would have put on a different face. A quiet and resolute gentleman, who at the worst never showed the least resentment when his advice was not taken, nor any indignation when Scots and English quarrelled, nor spoke an evil word against those who broke their promises, but took all as part of the day’s work, and went to the gallows as calmly as he went on parade. This it is, methinks, to be a soldier!’

Chapter xxvi.

Mr. Hilyard Returns.

Then, from the day of Tom’s departure, for the space of six weeks, I heard nothing save when I rode to Dilston, and heard what my lord, who found means to send a letter every week, told the Countess. As I know now with what misgivings he entered upon the Rebellion; how quickly he perceived, but could not remedy, the errors committed during its conduct; and how there fell upon him, very soon after the beginning, a heaviness and despondency which grew daily deeper —— ah! noble heart! —— I have never ceased to wonder how he could sustain the pretence of light heart, hope, and, cheerfulness which he presented in those beautiful letters of his. There was nothing —— no, not one word —— in them which might lead his wife to suppose that all was not going well. They were on the Border; they were with Lord Kenmure and the Scots; they were already so many strong; they were coming back, and would gather in the recruits so freely offered at the outset; they would soon be 20,000 strong —— with more to the same effect, and the whole so set and ornamented with terms of endearment for his wife, and of tender messages of love to the innocent children, that the heart of her who read them was led aside from the contemplation of the danger to think only of the honour and glory of the expedition.

‘That my lord should be foremost,’ said the fond wife, ‘in bringing the Prince to his own is not wonderful; nay, it is his duty. But it surprises me that the gentlemen of England have not long ago resolved to accomplish so easy a task. Why, it will be but a ride through the country, from Northumberland to London.’

It was, truly, to end in a ride through the country; but not such a ride as her ladyship pictured to herself.

Then we pleased ourselves in wondering how the Prince would be received by London; when the coronation would take place; by what safeguards and concessions the liberties of the Church of England would be secured; how great a thing it would be once more to have a Court, with a young King and Queen (but a wife must be found for his Majesty, and who should she be?), to which Catholic gentlefolk might resort; and how charming, after the quiet country life, to enjoy the pleasures of the town —— with many other speculations equally pleasant and profitable.

In those days the Countess talked with me a great deal concerning her childhood, when first she made the acquaintance of her future lord. They were together at St. Germain’s, she being in the Ursuline Convent, with one or two of her sisters (she was the eldest of five daughters), and he a page and companion of the Prince. The English children at St. Germain’s had more liberty than, it seems, is accorded to the French, and they all knew each other.

‘My dear,’ she said, in her quick and candid manner of speech, ‘I blush not to own that I loved him from the first, when he was only a beautiful boy, dressed up like a soldier to please the Prince, with his brown hair in a ribbon, and a little sword by his side; I loved him then, and I have loved him ever since, though little did I think I should ever get my heart’s desire. For supposing we played together, and were friends, he would go away and forget me; or he would meet with more beautiful women, and fall in love with them; or with flattering and designing women, who would want his wealth and rank —— I care nothing about either, Heaven knows, and would love him just as much if he were a simple gentleman like his cousins of the county. Why, as for love, did he not fall in love with you, who would have none of him for religion’s sake? Ah!’—— here she sighed ——”tis well I was not so tempted. Religion and all I think I would have thrown away for his dear sake. Yet how he should love me after your lovely face, Cousin Dorothy, passeth my understanding. Well, as for what is before, I know not, but pray for the best, and am thankful that we have had three years of happiness, although I have sometimes vexed him with my tongue, which at times, alas! is sharp. Yet he hath never reproached me with this my infirmity, knowing that afterwards I still repent and am sorry.’

She had many admirable qualities, not the least of them being that she was wise enough to know how good and great a man was her husband. Some women there are, who if a man love them, cannot, perhaps for that very reason (knowing how small they are compared with him), believe that he can be in any way great. It is as much as to say that the man who loves a foolish woman must be himself a fool. Such women know not what now I know, and am glad to know, because it makes me understand many things; namely, that no man doth love a foolish woman, but rather the divine and perfect image of a woman which he pictures to himself, instead of the real woman. Not that the Countess was a foolish woman at all, but quite the contrary, being, in every respect but one, wise and prudent. She checked her husband’s profusion (which was his only fault); she set bounds to his generosity in the matter of giving money constantly to his brother Charles, who was always wanting more; she possessed great dignity of carriage, although little of stature; and she was only foolish where all the other women of her party are foolish, in thinking that because loyalty is a righteous and good thing, the Prince’s cause would be easily won. Therefore she could not brook the shilly-shally delays of the gentlemen, and long before arms were resolved upon was impatient. In this I blamed her not then, nor do I blame her now; because we only believed what we were told to believe, and could not know —— which we had not been told —— the true strength of the feeling among all classes as regards a Protestant succession. In Northumberland one had at least the advantage of knowing that a man may be a Papist, and yet may adorn himself with as many personal graces and virtues as any Protestant among us all. Where could be found a man of more unblemished life, more universal benevolence, greater simplicity, temperance, modesty, and honour than Lord Derwentwater himself? Therefore, I say, I blame not the Countess for, her zeal, though it precipitated the ruin of her house. Nay, I was as zealous as herself, and thought the throwing down of her fan a fine and courageous action.

Let me say nothing but what is good of this unhappy woman, whose afflictions were greater than she could bear. Why I, who never ceased to love Lord Derwentwater, nor ever shall, and am not ashamed to own it, have long confessed to myself that, with my rustic ways, I could never have hoped to fix his affections after the first strong tide of passion, and to keep them for life as this clever, quick-witted creature, as changeable in her moods as the sky in June, and as sweet to look upon.

It is now sixteen years since she died, and was buried among the English nuns at Louvain; but her spirit hath returned to England, and wanders sadly at night among the woods and ruined gardens of Dilston. Alas! that one born to be so happy should die so wretched.

Enough, for this time, of the talk and thoughts of two fond women. We waited thus: I at Blanchland, and the Countess at Dilston, with none about her but old men and women-servants, from the 6th of October to the 15th of November.

On the evening of that day (which was Wednesday) I was sitting beside the fire, a book in my hand, but my thoughts far away. Certain prognostics of the disaster were already in my mind, though, as always happens, I thought little of them until later; that is to say, my sleep had been disturbed the night before by dreadful and disquieting dreams, but when I awoke in the morning there was left nothing but a confused image as of some horrid monster. Thus the messenger of Heaven came to warn Nebuchadnezzar, but he forgot in the morning everything, save that a strange and terrible dream had come to him. Thus, all day long, strange sounds disquieted me. There were omens of bad luck, such as salt-spilling, hearing unlucky words early in the morning, and so forth, which I afterwards remembered. On Sunday, I had a strange roaring, sound in my ears (which may have been the noise of the cannonade at Preston, but I hardly think that possible). On the same day, I opened the Bible at haphazard, and lighted on these terrifying words in the Book of Psalms, which manifestly referred to the overthrow of those who were doing the Lord’s work for the rightful Sovereign: ‘The zeal of thine house hath even eaten me, and the rebukes of them that rebuked thee are fallen upon me.’ On Monday and Tuesday I was agitated by strange terrors, and on Wednesday morning these returned to me in greater force. In the evening, the house then being quiet and the maids gone to bed, I sat thinking about many things; and first, as we are all selfish creatures, of my hard lot in losing the only man I could ever love, and the melancholy lives of women who miss the happiness of husband and children; next of the strange and tragical fate which still seemed to pursue the Forsters of Bamborough, so that my brother Tom, the last man of the race (not counting poor rustic Jack), was now a fugitive and a rebel who would be exiled, or worse, should the enterprise fail. Surely, I thought, it was time for a change in fortune; the triumph of the business in hand would bring us dignities and rank once more. Next, I remembered the grievous illness of Lady Crewe, of the issue of which I had no knowledge. Here was food enough for sad thoughts.

Now, while I sat, I became aware of footsteps outside, and there was a gentle knock at the window. I was never greatly afraid of robbers and such as break into houses, therefore I hastened to take a candle, and presently unlocked the door and looked out. It had been snowing all day, and the drifts lay deep in the old quadrangle. There was no one in the porch.

‘Who is there?’ I cried loudly.

‘Thank Heaven!’ replied a voice I knew full well. ‘It is Miss Dorothy.’

There stood before me Mr. Hilyard himself.

‘Who is within,’ he asked, ‘besides yourself?’

I told him no one except the maids, and they were all abed, for it was past nine already.

Still he hesitated, hanging his head, till I bade him sharply shake off the snow from his coat and come in. Cold as it was, he had no cloak or muffler. He obeyed, and with a trembling hand quickly shut and barred the door behind him.

Then I knew, indeed, that something dreadful had happened, and thought of all the forebodings and omens of the last few days.

He followed me into the kitchen, where there was still a good fire burning. Here he threw himself into a chair, and looked at me with white face and quivering lips.

‘Miss Dorothy,’ he began, but burst into sobbing and crying.

‘Where is my brother Tom?’ I cried. ‘Is he killed?’

‘No,’ he replied. ‘No; he is not dead. Better, perhaps, if he had been killed in battle.’

‘Where is my lord? Is he dead?’

‘No; he is not dead.’

He was so white in the cheeks and trembled so much in every limb that I feared he was going to swoon.

‘Are you in want of food?’ I asked him.

‘I had some bread last night,’ he said. ‘Since then I have eaten nothing.’

‘Since Tom and Lord Derwentwater are alive,’ I said, ‘tell me no more till you have eaten.’

When he had devoured some bread and meat and taken a good draught of ale, he stood up and said solemnly a grace after meat.

‘Never yet had I felt till to-day the force of the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Alas! what pangs are endured by those who starve! Save a little bread, finished last night, have I tasted nothing since I escaped from Preston on Monday evening?’

‘How? Escaped?’

‘Miss Dorothy’—— his eyes filled with tears ——‘alas! my kind sweet mistress, be brave, for the worst hath happened. His honour, General Forster, Lord Derwentwater, Lord Widdrington, all the other gentlemen, and the whole of the insurgent army, have surrendered, and are prisoners of General Willes. The Rebellion, unless the Scots fare better than the English, is at an end. As for his Highness, who hath brought us to this strait, I wish to Heaven he were a prisoner as well!’

‘Prisoners? Tell me more.’

‘I will tell you,’ he said, ‘from the beginning, that is from last Saturday. We were at Preston, and in higher spirits than we had been for some time, having received a great accession of the Catholic gentlemen of Lancashire, and their followers. I pretend not to know what was the General’s purpose, but it was understood amongst us that we were to march on Saturday morning upon Manchester, his honour being assured that none of the enemy were within forty miles. You may judge, therefore, of our astonishment when we received orders to prepare for action, for General Willes was upon us, in what force and whether provided with cannon we knew not, so badly were we served by our messengers. And yet I am informed by Mr. Patten, who hath had the ear of his honour throughout, that he spared neither pains nor cost to be acquainted with all the movements of General Carpenter, knowing nothing of General Willes, who was marching upon us from Wigan, having with him, some say, less than a thousand men, but I know not what his numbers may have been. He was so close to the town, that when the General rode out beyond the bridge with a party of horse he discovered the vanguard of the Dragoons, and had to ride back hastily. And then —— I know not how, save by some judicial blindness sent by Heaven —— oh! had I been of the council! There is a passage in Livy —— but let that pass. Suffice it that the greatest, the most fatal mistake was made —— oh! how could it escape them all?’

I asked who made the mistake.

‘His honour himself. That is to say, none but the General can be praised or blamed for the conduct of a campaign; but yet I know, having heard it for a truth from Mr. Patten, who hath been mighty civil to me since we started, that in every operation his honour has been first guided and directed by Colonel Oxbrough, and then thwarted by gentlemen who shall be nameless. I cannot doubt that in the matter of the bridge, he —— that is, Colonel Oxbrough —— was overruled; nor can I believe that a man who has studied campaigns and been on active service, could have neglected so simple an advantage. Know then, Miss Dorothy, that before the town there runs a deep river which must be forded; over the river a bridge; and this side the bridge a deep and narrow lane: it is like the Pass of Thermopylæ; it may be defended by a hundred men against an army —— nay, by means of this pass, we might have destroyed all the force that General Willes had been able to bring against us. Yet we neglected to defend this bridge. Some say the Brigadier MacIntosh refused to obey the General; I know not if it be true; certainly there is no love between the Scotch and the English officers. It matters not by whose fault; the bridge was left undefended, and the enemy crossed over at their ease, and so came up to the town and prepared for an attack.’

He stopped and sighed.

‘I never thought,’ he went on, ‘that I, a plain Oxford scholar, a man of peace, and of obscure birth, should take my part in a battle, fighting among gentlemen; nor did I look to feel the madness of Mars in my blood. Yet this day shall I never forget, nor the “joy of battle” spoken of by Homer, and now understood by me. We formed four chief barricadoes, or barriers, behind which we received the enemy. As for me, I had the honour to be placed among the gentlemen volunteers who defended the barrier below the church, under Brigadier MacIntosh. We were commanded by the Lords Derwentwater, Kenmure, Wintoun, and Nithsdale. As for my lord and his brother, Mr. Charles, I dare maintain that they set an example to all of us of courage and coolness under fire, being stripped to the waistcoat, and encouraging the men to work at the barriers and to give a warm reception to the enemy. A warm reception we gave them, indeed, and killed, I believe, as many as 120 of them at the first attack. The battle lasted from three o’clock in the afternoon till long into the night. Twice I saw the General —— Mr. Tom, I mean —— riding up to the barricado, encouraging us to stand firm and fire with precision, freely exposing himself to the enemy’s fire. When the night fell the enemy set fire to two or three houses, partly with the design to burn down the whole town, and partly to terrify and dislodge us, and had there been the least wind, no doubt their horrid project had succeeded. At midnight the enemy withdrew, leaving 300 and more dead upon the field, while we for our part had lost but 17 killed and about 40 wounded. As for me, I had never a scratch. Yet, in spite of this signal advantage, and the joy of our men, you shall hear how we were all presently undone.’

He stopped and fetched another sigh.

‘Undone, did I say? Yea; ruined and lost beyond hope. Yet we were 3,000 strong, and fellows as stout as a general would wish to command.

‘All that night the houses blazed and fell, one by one, with a most dreadful roaring of flames, and I think that few of us got much sleep. For my own part I sat, firelock in hand, behind our barrier, wishing that the morning would come, and longing to be at ’em again. This I say not with boastfulness, but to show how quickly even a man of peace may become a man of war. Yet is the man of peace a madman thus to follow the drum. It hath been truly said by Seneca in his book ——’

‘Never mind Seneca, Mr. Hilyard. For Heaven’s sake go on with the story. What happened next?’

‘Since you know that we were all taken prisoners, you know, Miss Dorothy, pretty nearly as much as I know myself. For, of a truth, I cannot tell with certainty why we laid down our arms. We took a few prisoners, and from one of them, an officer, I learned the strength of the enemy, and that General Carpenter was marching upon us, having with him three regiments of Dragoons. But still we should greatly outnumber them. “Gentlemen,” cried one of the prisoners, as he was led through our ranks, “I am your prisoner to-day, but you will all be ours to-morrow.” At which some of us laughed, but I, thinking how the bridge had been neglected, began to consider seriously what this might mean. I say again that I blame not his honour. Neither as man nor boy hath he ever cared for things military, to study the conduct of a siege nor the history of a campaign. But I marvel that Colonel Oxbrough, who should have known better, or that Lord Widdrington, who should have been made to hold his tongue, or that Brigadier MacIntosh —— but, indeed, there is small profit in wondering.

‘Now, in the morning, when we expected, although it was Sunday, that the enemy would either attack us again, or that we should sally forth and attack them, which would have been more to our humour and the purpose, the blood of the men being up, and everybody in good spirits at the yesterday’s fighting and heavy losses we had inflicted upon the enemy, no orders came, and we continued at our posts all that morning. There was some firing upon us, but not much, from two or three houses occupied by the enemy. I think it must have been ten of the clock that a rumour began among us that General Carpenter had arrived, and that the town was invested, and we entirely surrounded. At first that seemed to matter little, because we had beaten them once, and could beat them again were they twice as strong. Next it was whispered that we were short of powder as well as provisions. What kind of officers are those who lead their men into a fight with no more ammunition than is enough for a single day’s fighting, and no more provisions than from day to day can be gathered on the march? Now when I understood this I began to tremble indeed, because it became quite plain to me that we must now either surrender (though nearly three to one, and full of heart), or fight our way out with bayonet, pike, and sword against musket and cannon. I confess, moreover, that I was tempted to follow the example of some of our men, who, on the first suspicion of this desperate position of affairs, scowered off, and made good their escape by a way where as yet none of the Dragoons were posted. It was by a street called Fishergate, which leads to a meadow beside the river, where are two good fords. I know not how many got away, but by one way or another, hiding in the houses and escaping by night, there must have been more than a thousand, because sure I am that not half of those who were with us the day before the fight were those who laid down their arms the day after. A happy escape to them! As for those who are taken, what can they look for? Courage, Miss Dorothy! there is time, and something may yet be done. We must not despair. First, there is open always to poor mortals in their worst extremity their appeal to Heaven; it is not fortune alone which destroys armies. Next, it must be admitted a noble madness at the worst, which compelled so many gentlemen to go forth on this forlorn hope, so that their speedy discomfiture ought to be a punishment sufficient unto them. Besides, there is the famous passage of Boethius ——’

‘Oh! Mr. Hilyard, let us not look to Boethius for help. Tell me all, and then let us think what remains to be done.’

‘Alas! little is left to tell, and that is bad. On Sunday morning there was held a council, of which I have heard the substance, though, of course, I was not present. When the time shall come when scholars shall be consulted on every subject, as the oracles were consulted of old, there will be a school or college of scholars whose sole business it shall be to advise Ministers, contrive measures, be consulted by Generals, and lay down plans for the general good of the nation. Happy would it have been —— I say it not boastfully, but with sorrow —— for us all had our commander sought the counsel of the only scholar who was with them. But they knew not —— they know not, and do not in their ignorance suspect —— that a man who hath road Tacitus, Livy, and Thucydides, to say nothing of Cæsar his Commentaries, Sallust his history, the great military writer Vegetius (in the Leyden edition), and the late campaigns, with such help as was within his reach, of the illustrious Marlborough, a greater than Hannibal, could lead their army better than all of them put together. No ammunition, no powder, no provisions; not a map of the country; no spies —— and that bridge left undefended! Why, I should have sallied forth to meet the enemy, and struck a blow, before that bridge was abandoned, as would have rung through all England; General Carpenter’s turn should have followed next; and then —— then —— unless the City of London declared for the Prince I should ——’

He stopped, gasping, carried away with the imaginary glory of the campaign directed by himself.

‘What would you have done then, Mr. Hilyard?’

‘I should have dictated terms to King George, and in return for disbanding my forces and sending all home again, I would have left him on the throne and accepted a general amnesty.’

‘What, and desert the Prince?’

‘Nothing is of any lasting help for the Prince,’ he said, ‘until he hath first turned Protestant. Although they did not consult me, however, I learned that the council was divided, and no agreement possible; for some thought that, considering our number, which was still greater than that of the enemy, it would be shameful to surrender without another fight, while others thought that enough blood had been shed, and that terms had better be made —— such terms as could be obtained. If there was neither ammunition nor provision, how could a sally be attempted, to say nothing of an escape? And how could we sit down to be starved? Then the town was invested: we were all caught like rats in a trap; if we attempted to fight our way out, we should be shot down as we ran; with other arguments which savoured as much of cowardice as of prudence. His honour, who presided, listened to all, and looked from one to the other to ask his opinion. The Earl of Derwentwater, with his brother and the Highland officers, were hot for a sally, and for fighting the way out with sword and bayonet when all the powder was gone. “What!” they cried, “are we to abandon the enterprise because we are merely threatened? We are invested —— that is true; we have little powder —— that is true; let us reserve all we have to protect the rear, and cut our way in the darkness through them.” Lord Widdrington, for his part, was strong for capitulation; the rising, he said, was hopeless; the English gentlemen held aloof, or were hostile; the Earl of Carlisle, Lord Lumley, and a great many gentlemen of the north were with General Carpenter; they had been deceived with promises of support, not only from men who at the moment of action refused to come out, but also from the messengers who came and went between London and the north —— here he looked at Colonel Oxbrough. Things were bad, but they might be made worse; the business of the Prince could not be advanced by the carnage of his followers; wherefore he was for a capitulation on honourable terms. Then Lord Derwentwater spoke again. He said that he partly agreed with Lord Widdrington; their affairs were hopeless; divided counsels, as well as misrepresentation, had brought them to this pass; yet he, for one, could not think they should capitulate while they still had their swords left. His vote, therefore, was again for cutting a way through. Finally, all looked to Colonel Oxbrough, who, in his calm and quiet way, said that as regards misrepresentation, he knew of none, all the business of the Prince being carried on faithfully, as is proper among gentlemen; that he had himself been a messenger, and proved his own loyalty by casting in his lot with them; that, as to the failure in the south and west, and the silence as regards Ireland, he knew no more than anyone present; but, as to the present juncture, he was a soldier, and knew how to obey, though against his own judgment; therefore, whatever the opinion of the council, he was ready to obey again, whether it should be decided to fight or to capitulate. If to fight, many would doubtless meet with the death of a soldier; if to surrender, some would probably be hanged, some beheaded, and some pardoned, and their estates confiscated. “But,” he added, “those who die will die for the King, and those who are ruined will be ruined for his sake.”

‘Outside, and among us of the rank and file, there was now (seeing that the way of escape by Fishergate Street was at last closed by the Dragoons) only one feeling —— namely, that we should fight our way out; and hard things were said of our leaders, who had got us into this trap, out of which there was no escape, although so many roads, so that we were like crabs and lobsters in their wicker-work cages, whereinto they can creep with ease, but cannot get out again. Nevertheless, despair and determination would have made a way, I doubt not, for who would not fight if it were certain death to remain and probable death to advance? I know not what may be the clemency of King George, on which they now build so many hopes, but kings do not use to be merciful towards rebels. However, we were all resolved to fight, and when at length Colonel Oxbrough was sent to treat of surrender, the common soldiers were told, to keep them quiet, that General Willes had offered honourable terms if we would lay down our arms. The terms which he brought back were, indeed, nothing but what we had a right to expect —— namely, that we were to surrender at discretion. This, one must own, was choking to us all, after a victory such as ours. The Colonel brought back this reply, and a second message was sent by Captain Dalzell begging for time, which was granted —— namely, until seven o’clock on Monday morning, provided that no more entrenchments were thrown up and that hostages were sent. It was with a heavy heart, indeed, that I saw my Lord Derwentwater, with grave and serious countenance, ride forth with Colonel MacIntosh, as our hostages. For I understood very well that this was but the beginning of the end, and that our vaunted rising, which was to have been followed by the general voice of the whole nation, had come to a sudden and shameful end. I could not but think of all that this brave young gentleman staked upon the issue of the enterprise: his vast estates, his rank and dignity —— even his life: for, though the clemency of the King be extended to all else, can it ever include the Prince’s cousin, his playfellow, and his most intimate friend? Alas! I fear that noontide sun of splendour is veiled and eclipsed already! It is reported that when Lord Derwentwater entered the General’s tent, he sat down and said, with a sigh, that he would rather trust himself to the clemency of King George than return to an army where there was neither wisdom, agreement, obedience, nor honesty (thinking of the mischievous jealousies between Englishman and Scot). For clemency, we know not; the smaller folk may hope, but for my lord, I dare prophesy that he will smile no more upon this earth. And as for the rest of his days, they will be few indeed and full of sorrow. I know not in what reflections my comrades passed Sunday night; but for myself, I meditated continually on the nearness of death, seeing nothing but probable destruction whichever way was chosen. Why, I asked myself, did I make or meddle with the matter? For, though bound in duty to follow his honour did he order it, I was not bound to volunteer my life in the cause. Again, I said to myself, though I hoped to show gratitude by being of service, I should have known that as a common soldier I could have no say in the council —— not even private intercourse with the General. Perhaps there were others such as myself; though most seemed insensible to danger, and lay sleeping like logs all the night, and in the morning would have gone forth to fight as cheerfully as to play a bout at quarterstaff. Truly I think that most of our vaunted courage doth proceed from insensibility and lack of imagination, so that the brave soldier who marches straight to the cannon’s mouth does so because he cannot think, or picture the future, and would draw back and flinch if he could foresee the agony of his wound and the dreadful pain in which he must die. However this may be, when it became known in the morning that, after all, we were to surrender, and that after what had seemed to us a most glorious and successful action, in which they lost ten times as many men as we, and had at last to retire, the rage and disappointment of the men were terrible to witness. They ran about the streets, calling upon each other to sally forth and force a way out. Had they been led in this attempt, I am very certain that we should have got away, though with heavy loss, and perhaps have gotten in the end much advantage to the cause. But our officers were too tender for us (if not for themselves), therefore we must needs be hanged, as will doubtless happen to most, or sent to the Plantations, or die of gaol-fever —— though with regard to his honour, Miss Dorothy, we must hope for better things. The unfortunate Mr. Patten, poor wretch, will have but short shrift, I fear. I love not the man, yet I confess that his courage in coming out with us, his bravery in the action, and his present constancy under misfortune, have caused me to forgive the past.

‘The soldiers ran, I say, this way and that, distracted, and without a leader, for the officers and gentlemen, even those who were loudest to sally forth, kept within, and ventured not out to meet that roaring, maddened mob. One there was among us who ventured to use the word “surrender.” Him they shot. As for me, having designs of my own, I bellowed with the rest, and so kept a whole skin.

‘Miss Dorothy,’ he interrupted himself, crying out as if violently moved, ‘I maintain and declare that the whole business was conducted so feebly from the very beginning, when they refused to enlist the men who volunteered, to the end, when they would not even keep the bridge or sally forth and attack the enemy, whom we outnumbered by three to one, that his honour the General was right to bring it to a close. Yes, we might have made a sortie; there were still a few rounds of powder left; we might (some of us) have escaped, and the lives lost would have been counted by hundreds; and afterwards what would have been our lot, but wandering among the mountains and starving on the moors, with death for those taken prisoner, and few indeed winning their way to the Scottish army? Whereas, now, the Government may show themselves merciful. One knows not, to be sure, the fate of Lord Mar; if he be successful for a time —— for he cannot, I am sure, in the long-run —— our prisoners may meet with leniency; if Lord Mar be already defeated, which much I fear, then the fate of the prisoners may be hard. Let us not forget that their leaders gave themselves up, in the hope that the common sort might escape unharmed and free.’

It was Tom’s good heart and compassionate nature made him listen to the counsels of Lord Widdrington. He gave up himself and his friends to save the poor fellow who had followed them; there was to be no unnecessary bloodshed. I know that this is not the way in which campaigns should be conducted. Does a Marlborough when he meditates a Blenheim think with pity of the soldiers who will die in carrying out his plans? Tom was not a Marlborough, nor ought he to have been a general. Yet as for his courage, that was abundantly proved; as for his honesty, that was never doubted; as for his military genius, we must look for it in the plans proposed by Colonel Oxbrough, and if we find it not in the history of the campaign, we must remember that discord prevailed in every council, where every man regarded himself as equal to the General-in-Chief. The leaders, when there was no hope but in a great carnage, gave themselves up to save the rest. It was nobly done by them. As for King George’s clemency, we must look to the heads on Temple Bar, the scaffolds on Tower Hill, the shootings and hangings at Liverpool, Warrington, and Preston; the deaths in prison, the confiscated estates, and the long lines of wretches put on board the ships at Liverpool, and sent out to work for the rest of their days, torn from their homes, in the Plantations of Virginia and Jamaica.

Mr. Hilyard went on to finish his narrative.

‘In the midst of the confusion, one Mr. Alexander Murray, Lieutenant in Strathmore’s Regiment, being a hot-headed youth, and full of indignation against the surrender, made his way to General Forster’s quarters, where his honour sat, in melancholy mood, as may be imagined, and with him one or two gentlemen, and Mr. Patten, his chaplain. Mr. Murray carried in his hand a pistol, which no one had noticed until he burst into their midst, and crying ‘Traitor!’ levelled it at Mr. Forster’s head, and would most certainly have killed him, but that Mr. Patten struck up the pistol, and the shot went into the ceiling.

‘Quite early in the morning, almost before daylight, the Dragoons rode in. A trumpet was blown, and, all being presently drawn up in the market-place, the men were told to lay down their arms, which they did with very rueful faces, and only because they had no more ammunition, and there was no one to lead them. Thus ended our great and glorious Rebellion. I have left at Preston near 500 English gentlemen and followers and soldiers (where are all the rest —— those who promised, but came not; and those who came, but ran away?), and 1,000 Scots, of whom 150 are noblemen and gentlemen (but at least 1,000 must have got away, or gone away, before the fighting began). What they will do with all I know not. My greatest hope is that, seeing they have so many in the net, they may pardon all; but my greatest fear is that, seeing they have both small and great, they may punish all the great while they suffer the small to go free.’

‘Then, how is it,’ I asked, ‘that you, too, are not a prisoner?’

He laughed, and took another draught of the October.

‘When I perceived,’ he said, ‘how things were likely to go, I reflected that a free man is certainly more useful than a prisoner; and that, if I could be of any service to his honour (as the mouse was once of service to the lion), it could only be if I was free. Wherefore, I cast about in my mind for a way of escape. Happily, I remembered that the man in whose house I was billeted, an apothecary by trade, had already professed some kind of friendship for me because of certain recipes, secrets, and ancient mixtures, which, out of my reading in Celsus, and other learned authors, I had been able to impart to him. Therefore, before the proclamation for all to repair to the market-place was issued, I had already awakened my friend from sleep, and communicated to him my plan. It was nothing more than this, that, having first shaved my head and chin (one of the marks of our men being a bristly chin), he should give me an old second-hand full-bottomed wig, such as is worn by those apothecaries who wish to pass for learned physicians, and a blue apron, and should put me behind his own counter. This obliging man, for whom I will most certainly transcribe the Roman cure for podagra as soon as (if ever) I reach home —— that is, the Manor House —— again, most generously gave me all I wanted. Nota bene, he is a bachelor, which made the thing easier, there being no woman in his house to pry and talk, except a deaf old crone. I, therefore, became for the day his apprentice, assistant, or journeyman, serving drugs, mixing medicines, and preparing lotions, emetics, plaisters, and other things for the sick men and wounded. You may think that all this time I kept my face so screwed up, that no one, even of our own men (but they were under ward) should know me. Another service the apothecary did for me. Lord Widdrington was ill with the gout; my (supposed) master had to prescribe for him. This would give him, I thought, the chance of speaking a word to his honour.

‘The good man told me that he found his honour at the Mitre Tavern, where were also all the lords and some other of the gentlemen, the whole company greatly cast down; that, after giving Lord Widdrington his medicine, he whispered in Mr. Forster’s car (but there were no sentinels in the room to watch or guard the prisoners) that I was in his house, safely bestowed and disguised for the present, and designed to escape on the first opportunity, and that I desired to know if I could be of service to him. To this Mr. Forster replied that he knew not what could be done. “But,” he said, “bid Mr. Hilyard, as soon as he safely may, go to Lady Crewe, and inform her exactly of all the circumstances. And tell him to take care of Mistress Dorothy, my sister.”’

Thus in the hour of his greatest humiliation did my brother find a kind thought for me.

‘When the night fell,’ Mr. Hilyard went on, ‘I made haste to depart, all the more quickly because my benefactor, the apothecary, began to be uneasy lest any of the townsfolk should accuse him of harbouring a rebel. By this time the search in the houses was over, and the streets swept clear of our unlucky insurgents, who were all under lock and key, except those fortunate enough to get off, like myself. As for the Highlanders and common soldiers, they were all clapped into the parish church. But because the Dragoons were riding up and down stopping and questioning all passengers, I filled a basket with some bottles of physic, and put a little biscuit into my pocket. Thus prepared, and with my apron still tied round me, I sallied forth. Now all the roads were blocked with patrols, but I knew a way, could I reach it, where lane led to a meadow, and beyond the meadow was a ford over the river, and beyond the ford open fields. The night was dark, with sleet and rain, which helped me to pass unperceived, though in a great quaking, for, believe me, I had no great confidence in my apron should I be questioned. In a word, I got in safety to my lane, ran across the meadow, and through the river, up to the middle in the freezing water, and so into the open country. All that night I walked or ran, and towards morning found a barn, where I lay on soft straw, and slept the day through. And so I made my way here, and am once more, Miss Dorothy, if I be not taken prisoner, hopeful to serve you again.’

This was the story which Mr. Hilyard brought to me. When I had heard it throughout I sat awhile as one who is stunned with a blow upon the head, saying nothing, while Mr. Hilyard began to comfort me and himself with illustrations, taken from sacred and ancient history, of misfortunes and reverses to kings and princes, instancing Crassus, Croesus, Polyeuctes, Cato, Brutus, Cassius, Hannibal, and many other notable cases, in which fortune proved fickle. Alas! what did the violent death of Cato signify to me, who was in terror for a brother? Presently he ceased talking, and his eyes closed. He was asleep. This did not show want of feeling, for I remembered that the poor man had been walking for two nights, and was tired out.

I left him sleeping, and went to my own room, where I lay awake all night, thinking what should be done. To all my thinking there came but one gleam of hope. There was the King’s clemency. Had I known or suspected the vengeance that would be wreaked upon these unfortunate prisoners there would have been no hope left at all.

Chapter xxvii.

To London.

‘It is certain,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘that the lords and the chiefs will be taken to London, there to be tried for high treason. I heard that it was already decided from two King’s officers, who came to the shop for a plaister on Monday afternoon.’

This made me think that, if one were to help Tom, it must be in London, and I presently resolved that somehow I would get me thither. To be sure, it was a great journey for a woman to undertake, and that in winter. But it must be done. Mr. Hilyard was going to Stene. I would go with him so far; after that by myself, if necessary, or under such charge as Lady Crewe would assign to me, and to such a house as she would recommend to me. On this I quickly resolved, and was determined. As for Lord Crewe’s help, on that I built little, because it needed not a politician to perceive that one of his lordship’s history and known opinions would have small interest in a Whig Court. Yet when a man is so highly placed he must have friends, cousins, and old acquaintances on both sides. ‘Add to this,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘that to-day my turn; to-morrow yours! The great Whig Lords are not too certain of their seats.’

When, however, I told Mr. Hilyard that I was resolved to go, I had the greatest trouble with him. For, first, he maintained stiffly that it would be impossible to take me with him on account of the weather, it being already the middle of November, the days growing short, and the roads so heavy that no one could expect the coach or any waggons would run. Moreover, there had already fallen so great a depth of snow as I have never seen since, insomuch that Hexham Moor was four or five feet deep in it, and in the drifts much deeper. No one, he said, ought to travel in such weather but those who are young, strong, and fear not the cold. I replied that I was both strong and young, and fearless of cold. Next, as to other dangers, he was himself well known in these parts as having been in the service of Mr. Forster, both the elder and the younger, for fifteen years; during that time having met with many people and made many acquaintances. It also was very well known that he went out with his patron. This being so, what if he were arrested and imprisoned, and I left alone on the road? I replied that such a thing would be most dreadful, and must therefore be guarded against by some disguise, the nature of which I would leave to his invention. ‘Why,’ he said, smiling, ‘as to that, I doubt not that I could dress up so as to defy them all; but there is also yourself. Will it be wise, think you, men’s minds being in a tumult, to proclaim aloud that Miss Dorothy Forster, sister of General Forster, is going to London in order to get off her brother, if she can in any way prevail? There must be disguise for you, as well as for me, if you will go.’

‘Indeed I shall go,’ I replied; ‘nothing else will content me. And I trust to you to bring me safe to town; disguise me as you will. Why, Mr. Hilyard, who is there to work for Tom but myself?’

‘There is Lady Crewe,’ he said. ‘And, truly, I know not what you could do in London.’

‘Yes, Mr. Hilyard; by your leave I could be doing something. I could see Tom, and do what is told me. Surely he has friends in London.’

‘Surely he has; but I fear that they are all on the wrong side, like Lady Crewe herself. Have you no cousins among the Whigs?’

Cousins I had, plenty as blackberries, but all were honest Tories. Stay, there was one; but I had never seen her. She was Mary Clavering, who made a great match, and married Lord Cowper.

‘Lord Cowper? Lord Cowper?’ cried Mr. Hilyard. ‘Why, he is Lord Chancellor. If Lady Cowper is your cousin, the business is as good as done. But yet, I know not. She cannot ask for many; and there is Mr. Clavering of Callalee a prisoner. Still, there is one friend at Court for us. If he only had the money (but perhaps his honour’s friends in London will find that) to grease a few palms, I should not despair. Miss Dorothy, if you are brave, and feel strong enough, come to London with me, in the name of God.’

Then he began to plan disguises; and first he thought he would become a clergyman, and I his daughter —— then he walked about, puffing his cheeks and smacking his protruded lips, like one of those reverend gentlemen who think too much of the fleshpots and the flask. (While thus acting, he looked for all the world as if he wore a cassock.) But that plan pleased him not, on consideration, because he remembered that it is a long way to London, that accidents might happen on the road, and he be called upon to read the service appointed for the sick, to console and fortify the dying, even to administer the Holy Sacrament, which would be a most dreadful and unpardonable sin; and yet, if he refused, he must needs confess the cheat, and so be haled to prison, or whipped out of the town as a rogue, and very likely I with him. No; that would not do. Then he thought that he would be a physician, and his face became long, and he carried his nose in the air, and one seemed to perceive the smell of drugs, as is generally the case with these gentry.

‘Why,’ he said, ‘truly, I am already somewhat skilled in medicine, having once, when young, read for curiosity the works of Celsus, Galen, and Avicenna, and could easily pass for a physician until I fell in with a brother of the mystery, when, for lack of the current coin of speech and the jargon of the trade, every craft having its own manner of speech, I should certainly be discovered.’

Then he laughed, for a new idea occurred to him, and he begged me to excuse him for a few minutes. So he left the room. Presently a step outside and a knock at the door. Wonderful is the power of a mime! It is needless to say that I knew Mr. Hilyard under his disguise, but I also knew, which is much more to the point, for whom he wished to be taken. There is in the village of Bamborough an honest blacksmith named John Purdy, of as old a family as our own, because if we have been Forsters of Etherston from time immemorial, the Purdys have been village blacksmiths for as long (one of them joined the insurgents at Kendal for no other reason than because Mr. Tom was the General, and afterwards for his trouble got sent to Virginia, where he presently was set free, and is now doing well). John Purdy was a man of forty, short and square built, who went lame by reason of an accident in his ‘prentice days. He wore a handkerchief tied round his head, and over that a great flapping hat, and in his hand always a stout ashen staff. Such as he was, so was Mr. Hilyard —— a simple tradesman, honest to look at, and not ashamed of himself, knowing his duty to his betters. Why, Mr. Hilyard looked almost too much of a village blacksmith. He had no occasion to carry a hammer; there was across his face a grimy stain of oil or grease; his hands were rusty with iron stains; his flapping hat was over the red handkerchief; his neck was wrapped in wool.

‘Will this do, Miss Dorothy?’ he asked with pride; and as he spoke his face became square like the face of John Purdy, his mouth set firm, and his nose long and straight. ‘Will this do? I am now a North-country blacksmith; I am going to Durham to seek for work with my sister, who is a handy girl, knows her place, and is respectful to her betters. At Durham we shall be going to Newcastle, at Newcastle to York, and at York to London. It is a truly admirable disguise. I am safe, unless they ask me to make a horseshoe.’

His spirits, which had been desponding, rallied again at the prospect of riding to London and play-acting all the way.

I asked him when the prisoners might be expected to arrive in London.

‘Justice,’ he said, ‘is not only blind, but lame. That is why she goeth so slowly. But I see no reason why the prisoners should be kept at Preston. They will ride by easy stages, perhaps ten or twelve miles a day; and it is three hundred miles or so. If I were his honour or Lord Derwentwater, I would try whether a clean pair of heels would not be more to the purpose than Court influence.’

‘But suppose they are too well guarded.’

He laughed.

‘You cannot,’ he said, ‘guard a man who resolves to escape, and hath the wit. Oh Lord! everything is possible to him who hath the wit.’

‘Then, Mr. Hilyard, why have not you become a rich man?’

He might have replied that it was partly out of his fidelity to me and to mine; otherwise, had so ingenious a gentleman gone to London, he must, surely, have acquired great fame and riches.

We set off on our journey the next morning, in a terrible gale of wind and snow, through which nothing could have kept me up but a terror worse than that of a driving wind across a bleak moor. I had with me in my pocket all the money that I could find, amounting in all to no more than twenty-four guineas. I also tied up, in as small a parcel as I could make it, some of my fine things which I might want in London. These Mr. Hilyard made into a pack. He was dressed in a long brown coat of frieze, with long sleeves, which covered his hands as well as gloves might have done, and was, besides, muffled up about the neck and chin, so that certainly no one, with his flapping hat and his limp, would have recognised him. As for me, I was dressed like any plain village girl, with a hood and thick flannel petticoats. We were to ride the same horse (but that a good stout nag, easily able to carry both), I on pillion behind Mr. Hilyard; but the way was so bad, and the snow so deep, that I do not think the poor man rode fifty miles out of all the way between Blanchland and London. Often we both walked, one each side the poor creature, who picked his way slowly in the deep snow, and sank sometimes up to the girth.

‘If we may believe in the intervention of Heaven,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘we might own that the wrath of the Lord is poured out upon us, for our Rebellion against the Protestant Succession, in snow and sleet, storm and rain.’

‘And yet,’ I replied, ‘there be many thousands in England who have not joined in the Rebellion: and for them, too, are the storm and snow.’

‘Yes; and David alone counted the people, yet the people perished.’

Every day, and all day long, Sundays included, we continued our journey in such a winter as I hope never to see again. On the road we were in little danger: footpads would not attack a pair of poor country people: no one was likely to recognise either of us: the danger and the inconvenience were in the evening, when we had to find the rudest lodgings, avoiding the inns, unless we were compelled to go to them; and then Mr. Hilyard would be in terror lest some one should offer a rudeness to me, whereby he would have to fight and create a disturbance, and be taken before a justice; and I in terror lest he should be carried away by his vanity, and begin to sing and to show his gifts and parts. But neither of these things happened. For myself, as soon as I had a bed, or a part of a bed, given to me (which was always among the maids and servants, as suited my pretended condition), I would go there and sit down, and to bed early, while the rest, men and women together, sat round the fire, my blacksmith being thought a surly fellow, who spoke little, though he was willing to drink with any who offered.

Once the night fell before we found a resting-house, and we lost our way. Then, indeed, my brave companion and trusty friend, who had kept me in heart by his own courage, seemed to lose his courage suddenly.

‘Alas!’ he said, when I reproved him gently, ‘I know of dangers whereof you know nothing. We are now warm and not yet hungry, but we shall presently become chilled with the terrible wind, and we shall grow hungry, and we shall yawn and feel a desire to fall asleep. But, mark you, if we fall asleep we shall die. Wherefore, if you see me growing sleepy or heavy, prick me sharply with a pin; and if you so much as yawn, think it not strange if I shake you by the shoulders. It is related in Olaus Magnus how a company of sailors, going a-fishing about the North Cape (where live the little Lapps, and there are terrible sorcerers and magicians), were overtaken by a storm of wind and snow, and so lost their way, and presently fell a-yawning and so all to sleep save one, who kept himself awake with deep stabs and cuts of a knife, causing sore pains; so that if his eyelids fell, for mere smart he was sure to open them again —— and so was at last picked up and recovered. But his companions sleep still, where they lie covered with snow and ice, and so will lie till the Day of Judgment. Miss Dorothy, ’tis an awful tale! Prick me sharply, I pray you, if I so much as offer to yawn.’

The wind blew too cold in our faces for me, at least, to feel sleepy, or to think of yawning. But it was late, and the road grew worse, and I knew not whither we might be going.

The poor tired nag was stumbling now, and both of us at his head. There seemed no vestige of a road. The landscape on either hand, for it was a champaign country, lay stretched out white, covered with snow. The clouds had cleared away, and the moon was out; but not a barn, or a farmhouse, or a cottage in which we could seek for so much as a shelter in the straw. We plodded on, the horse lifting his feet with difficulty, and Mr. Hilyard, now in a kind of despair, begging me from time to time not to yawn, and to have a long pin ready.

Suddenly we saw before us a light, or lights.

‘Is it a Will-o’-the-wisp?’ I said. ‘Or it may be a fairy light. Sure nothing human could be out on such a night, except ourselves.’

‘I know not what it is,’ he said; ‘but I have two loaded pistols in the holsters, and, by your leave, I will have them in readiness: and there is also my cudgel, but I hope I shall not have to use it. Miss Dorothy, forgive me for letting you come with me on this wild-goose chase. I have lost my patron, who will most surely be hanged, and drawn, and quartered; and now I have lost my mistress too. Robbed and murdered shall we surely be; but not you, believe me —— not before they have first killed me.’

He was cold and faint for want of food, which made him afraid; but yet he was resolved to sell our lives dear. We cautiously advanced in the direction of the lights, which were not flickering, like goblin fires, but steady. I walked beside him, leading the horse. When, presently, we came to the spot, we discovered that the lights came from three or four great covered carts, such as gipsies use. Mr. Hilyard shouted aloud for joy.

‘We are safe now,’ he said; ‘these people are true Romany.’

It is truly wonderful to relate that these outcasts, whom the world regards with so much scorn, who have no knowledge at all of religion, duty, or morals, who live by pilfering and plundering, who, when caught loitering in a town, are whipped and clapped in the stocks, received us with the greatest kindness as soon as they discovered that Mr. Hilyard could talk to them in their own language.

The women took off my cold and wet stockings and shoes, bathed my feet in hot water, brought me a pannikin of hot broth made with I know not what meats, but comforting; and then, because I was no longer able to hold up my head, they made me a bed of blankets on the floor of a cart, and so I slept till morning. Mr. Hilyard, I learned afterwards, was not so weary but he could sit up and feast and drink whisky with them, and talk to them in their own tongue, so that they took him for one of themselves, only disguised for sinful purposes of his own.

We parted from these humble friends with gratitude. I have never seen them since, but for their sake I regard this unhappy race of wanderers with compassion, and never see a caravan or a camp without giving something to the women, and a word of counsel, which I doubt is thrown away unto the men.

‘I have heard news,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘These people were, it seems, following the army when, like a mad dog which hath no purpose, we marched up and down the Border. They picked up all the things which we threw away or left behind, and now have stored up, against the time when they can find a market, a great quantity of guns and pikes gathered on the ground after each day’s camp. Some of them came into Preston with us, but scowered, like me, after the surrender; some stayed with the enemy. One of them was sent by Lord Derwentwater to Dilston. The Countess instantly put together all the papers she could find, and gave them in charge to one of the cottagers whom she can trust. Then, with her children, she started for London.’

Alas! those tender children!

‘Lady Nithsdale,’ he went on, ‘is also upon the road. Heavens! it makes one’s heart to bleed only to think of the anxious ladies who are toiling along this dreadful road amid these pitiless snows; and of the innocent children who will be robbed of their inheritance —— and for what —— for what? Will there ever come a time when mankind will cease to bring ruin, death, and misery upon their heads for the sake of princes —— yea, and of princes who deserve nothing at their hands but contempt and deposition?’

He then began to harangue upon the wickedness, the tyranny, and the cruelty of kings from Nero to Louis le Grand; I think that his discourse lasted the whole day, and that he omitted no particulars of royal crimes. As to his charges against kings and sovereign princes I have nothing to say, except that we must take into account the fact that they are but men, and exposed to great temptations. Perhaps some day the world may happen upon a race of virtuous princes, in answer to the prayers which loyal people so continually send up to the Throne. But to rail at kings as if we could do without them is to rail at a Divinely-appointed institution, and, therefore, hath in it something of blasphemy, for which I rebuked this too daring speaker. But he laughed, asking what I knew of Divine Right. Now, when you ask a woman concerning the foundations of her faith, you put a question which she cannot answer, because she must needs believe what she has been taught. But if there were to be no kings, what would become of the virtue of loyalty, and for what purpose was it implanted in the heart of man? Strange that so good a Tory as Mr. Hilyard had always been in Northumberland, should become every day, the nearer we got to London, more of a Whig!

I think, however, that Mr. Hilyard’s peevishness about kings sprang from the bitter weather, which made his nose so blue and his hands so cold that he must needs find vent in ill-temper against something. Surely there never was so cold a winter or such dreadful weather for those poor ladies who, like myself, were travelling up to London on behalf of the prisoners. When we reached York, after six days of the greatest hardships that I ever endured, I was fain get to bed, and stayed there from Saturday afternoon till Monday morning. Here Mr. Hilyard resolved to put aside the Northumbrian way of speech, and became a Yorkshireman. No one, however, suspected us or asked any questions; nor was any insult offered to me, as Mr. Hilyard feared might happen. I think, for my own part, that the common sort of English, everywhere, as well as in Northumberland, though rude and rough, do not insult women. This savage vice is reserved for gentlemen; not the meaner sort of men, but those who scower the streets at night, and intercept solitary passengers in unfrequented parts.

At York Mr. Hilyard cast about for a waggon which might be going to London, but there was none; the weather being so bad that no cart or waggon could take the road. While we were there Mr. Hilyard learned that the unfortunate Countess of Nithsdale, going up to London on the same errand as ourselves, would not stay for the weather to break, and the coach to start, but was riding on with all speed.

‘She is a great lady,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘daughter of Lord Powis, whom King James at St. Germain’s made a duke; one of her sisters is the wife of Lord Montague; she hath cousins on both sides, yet I doubt if they will avail her aught.’

‘If she have so many cousins,’ I said, ‘and yet cannot wait for the weather to break, how much more should I push on, who have so few to help!’

He made no objection to this, and we left York the next morning, though the snow was still so deep that not only the stage, but even the post was stopped. But there was one happiness, that the road grows easier and smoother with every mile that one gets nearer London, and there are many more inns of all kinds, especially of those frequented by cattle-drovers, waggoners, carters, carriers, and handicraftsmen going from town to town upon the way; therefore suitable for a blacksmith going to London looking for work, with his sister looking for respectable service. These places were rough, and the food was coarse, like the talk; yet they were safe for us. Now I remarked, not once or twice, but everywhere along the road, that the common people, who talked about nothing but the Rebellion, were one and all hot for the Protestant Succession. I heard it everywhere declared that the intention of the Prince was to introduce the Pope and the Roman religion, with the Inquisition, the rack, stake, thumb-screw, and all the tortures of which they had heard. As soon as he was firmly on the throne all good Protestants would be sent to the flames, after having their limbs cruelly racked and twisted. I know not what may have been the opinions of the country gentlefolk, but as regards the common country people there could be no doubt whatever on this point. Nothing could be held in greater abhorrence by them than a Popish sovereign. I shuddered, too, at their bloodthirstiness.The gallows was too good for such traitors and villains as Lord Derwentwater and General Forster; the most exquisite tortures should be prepared for them, every man loudly expressing his willingness to administer them, so that it was shocking to hear them talk. And then most pious ejaculations for the safety of Mother Church interlarded with the most desperately profane oaths! Mr. Hilyard seemed to take a pleasure in encouraging this cruel and sanguinary talk; and, when I reproached him with it, excused himself partly on the ground that he dared not even be suspected of Jacobite principles, lest all should be discovered, and therefore he fell in with their mood; and next, that many of those who were loudest in their talk were, he thought, secretly on the Prince’s side, but afraid of betraying themselves, and that it amused him to watch their anxiety to seem on the safe side. ‘But,’ he said, ‘doth not this show the madness of our late attempt? What is it like —— and on which side —— the voice of the country of which we have heard so much? Where are those hearts which were said to be beating for the Prince?’

He could not contain his indignation and wrath at the folly which had plunged us all in such misery, but inveighed without ceasing at the cruelty and recklessness of those in London who caused the whole business. But when he perceived that his words sank so deep in my heart, that I was falling into a kind of melancholy or despair, he changed the talk, and would speak no more in this gloomy way of the rising or its consequences. On the contrary, he assumed the bearing and manner of one who is on a pleasant journey. Though each step was in three feet of snow, and we made no more, but sometimes much less, than two miles in an hour, he laughed and sang as he went, insomuch that I should have thought him wanting in sensibility had I not perceived that he was playing a part in order to divert my thoughts. And always —— can I ever be sufficiently grateful to him, or pray earnestly enough for his spiritual and temporal good? —— careful for such comfort and alleviation as he could procure for me, bargaining when we stopped for a good bed for me, and if possible a bed in a room by myself with no other women, because these were sometimes rough and rude; and at York he bought a great soft rug, which he tied upon the saddle in such a way that he could fold it over and wrap my feet, which before had been almost frozen. He carried with him always a bottle of cordial, or strong waters, with which to refresh me (and himself also) when I was faint. As for the fatigue of the journey, that had to be borne with patience, but the suffering —— nay, the torture —— he endured for himself without repining, though he relieved it for me. Truth to say, it was a fearful journey; for the sun never once showed his face, nor did the snow cease falling, or the frost cease to continue, or the cold wind of the north to change. All the towns were alike, and every village a copy of the village we passed two hours before —— covered up with deep drifts of snow; so that not only did it seem to me as if I must spend the rest of my life in plodding through the snow, but as if I had never done anything else, the former part of it having been a dream. Further, I could not but feel, which Mr. Hilyard had put into my mind, as if Heaven itself was showing its displeasure at our enterprise. Could the Lord, after all, be on the side of an Usurper? If so, where was the Right Divine of which we had been told so much?

‘It is by travelling,’ said Mr. Hilyard cheerfully, diverting my thoughts, and pretending to enjoy the journey, ‘that we learn the world and watch the manners of men. I have always envied the great travellers of whom we read. Herodotus, Ulysses, Marcus Polus Venetus, Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake, and others, though none of them, I think, had worse weather and worse roads than we. Therefore it is the greater merit to bear up cheerfully and keep a brave heart as you do, Miss Dorothy’—— here I lifted my head and pushed back my hood a little. Alas! the same falling of the snow, the same drifts against the trunks, the boughs drooping with the weight —— when would this journey end? ‘Like them,’ Mr. Hilyard continued, ‘I would take ship and sail for distant islands, and resolve the many doubts which beset those who would construct the mappa mundi. Perhaps upon the way I should encounter Elias Artifex, the Wandering Jew, who must be by this time an accomplished geographer. Then I would learn whether there be a high rock of loadstone, or whether it be the pole star which causeth the compass to point one way; where is the kingdom of Prester John; whether the story of the great bird Rucke in Madagascar is true, and if he can of a verity carry an elephant; what is the cause of the Nile’s annual rising, what of the currents in the Atlantic; what is the outlet of the Caspian Sea; whether Mount Caucasus be higher than the Pico of Teneriffe; whither go the birds in winter, and if it be true that in Muscovy is a race of men who sleep all the winter like dormice; where was the site of the earthly Paradise —— with many other great and important questions not to be solved except by travelling to those places.’

And so on, talking continually, and forcing me to listen, lest perchance I might fall into that kind of stupor of which during those days he was very much afraid.

In a word, it was the most frightful journey ever woman undertook. Even now, I dream of it sometimes —— and in my waking moments it seems to have been a dream —— and always along that white, silent and terrible road, there was present before my eyes the vision of a scaffold and a block, with the glittering steel of the axe, and in my mind the story of that Israelitish woman who spread sackcloth upon the rock, and watched there day and night, so that neither the beasts of the field nor the fowls of the air should touch the hanging corpses of her sons.

Chapter xxviii.

Lord Crewe.

So, at last, we came to Stene, Lord Crewe’s place in Northamptonshire.

Now, while we drew near to the park-gates, and were thinking how best to convey a message to her ladyship, there passed out a gentleman of grave and reverend appearance, in cassock and full wig, whom I judged might be in the Bishop’s service. So I stopped him, and asked him civilly if he was perchance his lordship’s chaplain.

‘I am,’ he replied, in some surprise at the question. ‘Why, my good girl?’

‘Tell him, Mr. Hilyard,’ I said. ‘Tell him all.’

‘Sir,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘this young lady is not what she seems. She is Miss Dorothy Forster, sister of Mr. Thomas Forster the younger, who lately commanded the rebel army, and niece of Lady Crewe. We are on our way to London; but first she would have speech, if, it may be, with her ladyship.’

‘What!’ cried the clergyman. ‘Have you not heard? Good Heaven! Her ladyship hath been dead these six weeks and more!’

Dead! Lady Crewe was dead! Then was I friendless indeed.

‘She died,’ he went on, ‘of a fit or convulsion, caused, we are assured, by her anxiety on learning that a warrant was out for the apprehension of her nephew. She never learned the news of his rising, which was kept from her by order of my lord, for fear of greater anxiety. She died on the 16th day of October.’

‘The stars in their courses fight against us,’ said Mr. Hilyard, in consternation. ‘Terror ubique tremor, timor undique et undique terror.’

‘Who are you, sir, pray?’ asked the chaplain, astonished to hear Latin from the mouth of a blacksmith.

‘I was formerly Mr. Forster’s tutor, and have since been his steward. I am in disguise, partly because I also was with the insurgents, and am not desirous of being taken. But, sir, could we speak with his lordship?’

‘My lord is much broken by the death of her ladyship. Yet, I doubt not that he will receive her niece.’

He took us into the park, and so into the hall of the house (a great and stately house it was, though not so fine as that of Bishop’s Auckland or the Castle of Durham), and begged me to wait a few moments while he sought his lordship.

Lord Crewe was sitting in his library in a high-backed armchair, a book on the table beside him, and a great coal-fire burning.

‘Come, child!’ he said, holding out both hands; ‘come, kiss me for thy dear aunt’s sake! Thou hast heard my irreparable loss.’

‘I have just learned it, my lord, to my infinite sorrow. For, oh! I have lost her to whom I looked for help at this moment, and she is gone; and I may now lose my brother, who is a prisoner, and on his way to London to be tried.’ And so, weeping and sobbing, I fell at his lordship’s knees.

‘Ay,’ he said, laying his hand upon my head, ‘weep and cry, child! Youth hath tears; age hath none. Life hath nothing left for me: I have lost all, my dear. Thou art strangely like her when she was young. Stay with me a while, and let me comfort myself by merely looking upon thy face. Nay, I have heard of thy misfortunes. Tom is a prisoner. Fools all! fools all! Yet I warned him; I admonished him. This it is not to listen to the counsel of an old man. What would you do for him?’

‘With permission, my lord, we would go to London and try to save him,’ Mr. Hilyard replied.

‘Who are you, sir?’ he asked. ‘Oh, I remember now. It is the Terræ Filius. And how, sir, doth so great and powerful a man as you propose to tear these rebels from the grasp of Justice?’

‘As yet, my lord, we know not; but we hope that a way will be opened. There are, first, the chances in our favour. The Court may take a lenient view, seeing that so many are involved; or there is the clemency of the King.’

‘Pass on to the next chance,’ said the Bishop. ‘Build not on the clemency of Kings.’

‘Why, my lord, if he is to be tried, there is not much more to be said. But, perhaps he may not be tried at all. A pardon might be procured by friends in high place.’

‘In this matter, sir, look not to me for help. I am now old. All my friends, if I have any left, are on the other side.’

‘Then, my lord, saving your presence, there are juries to be influenced ——’

‘They will not be so foolish as to try them by a jury.’

‘Next, there are, my lord, asking your pardon, guards to be corrupted, as has been done in many famous examples.’

‘Tush —— tush! tell me not of these secrets. You will want money, sir, and much money. Man, let me look at you full in the face. Your eyes seem honest. In these times, and in such a service, the scarcity of honest men is lamentably felt. Yet you seem honest, and you have proved faithful. Suppose, Dorothy, child, I were to find you the money —— doth Tom trust this man? To be sure, he would trust any man who offered. It is their easy temper, not their ill-fate, which hath ruined the Forsters.’

‘We have trusted him, my lord, for fifteen years.’

‘Look ye, sirrah!’ his lordship shook his long and lean forefinger in the face of Mr. Hilyard. ‘Look ye, if you now betray the trust, the malediction of the Church itself shall follow you to your death —— and after,’ he added solemnly. Then he paused. ‘To do these things,’ he presently went on, ‘may require much money. He must be defended if he be brought to trial: if he never come to trial —— How much money have you?’

We had twenty-four guineas when we left Blanchland. We have spent six on the road. There are eighteen guineas left. It is all our stock.’

‘Eighteen guineas!’ my lord laughed. ‘It is a goodly stock. Now, sir, I will give you a letter to my agent and factor in London. He will provide you with all you want —— understand, all! Do not be afraid to ask. My wife, the most beautiful and the most faithful woman in the world, is dead: alas! I, too, shall follow soon; my days will be few and full of sorrow. I am old —— I am eighty-two years of age —— my work is done —— I have now nothing left but meditation and prayer.’ He went on in this way so that I thought his mind was wandering with age and trouble; but he did not forget what he designed to say. ‘Therefore, because she would have wished it, her nephew, who hath proved a fool and a companion of fools, shall not suffer, if I can help it, the just consequence of his folly. Go then, to this man of business, and let him know who thou art; give him my letter, and, when the time comes, ask boldly for as much as will be wanted —— nay, if it cost ten or twenty thousand pounds he will give it thee.’

‘Oh, my lord!’ Mr. Hilyard fairly burst into tears. ‘This is princely generosity. I hoped for nothing more than a help to maintain my mistress in London. Why, with such help as this, his honour is as good as free already.’ He knelt and kissed his lordship’s hand.

‘Go, fellow,’ said the Bishop, not unmoved. ‘But remember lest they say, as was said to Peter, “Thou also art one of them.” Keep thine own neck out of the halter, if thou wouldst save Tom Forster’s. And, as regards the money, waste not: yet spare not. Enough said. And now, Dorothy, if thou wilt stay a while in my poor house, let me have thee clad in habits more suitable than these ——’

‘I thank you, my lord, for all your kindness; but I cannot rest day or night until I am in London.’

So we took our letter, with a full purse of money besides, and receiving the Bishop’s blessing, went on our way. My aunt was dead; but her affection for her own family survived in the remembrance of her husband.

I never saw so great a change in any man as was wrought in Mr. Hilyard by the prospect of this money. He capered and leaped, he danced and sang upon the heavy road.

‘Why,’ he said, ‘we are made men now! Let us rejoice. Let us concert our plans.’

He devised a thousand plans, but none of them suited, and he began again every hour with a new one. Most, indeed, seemed to me as unreal and improbable as the intrigue of a comedy or the plot of a tragedy. He seemed to multiply difficulties in order to get rid of them by sudden surprises. Nevertheless it pleased him, and it beguiled the journey, which continued as cold as before, but was not so miserable, because we now had money and could dwell upon the future with a little hope. Indeed, it passed all understanding to think that I started on this long and costly journey with such an end in view, and no more in money than twenty-four guineas! But then I only knew, concerning money, that, in Northumberland, with a guinea one can keep a household for nigh upon a month. As for money of my own, I never had any.

‘With money,’ went on Mr. Hilyard, ‘dungeons are opened, prison-bars removed, and captives set free. With money, justice may be bought, as well as injustice. With money, good may be accomplished as well as evil. Why, the history of the world is the history of bribing. I could narrate endless examples ——’

He did; and during several days he instructed me in the part which bribes had played in the progress of the world. So that in the end it seemed to me as if nothing, good or bad, had ever been accomplished without a bribe and a pretence. But such knowledge doth not tend to edification.

It was on the 9th day of December that we drew near to London. Now, as we walked along the road we became aware of a great stir and bustle, many men and women hastening southward, the same way as we were going, as if impelled by desire to see some wonderful show. The road was also covered with waggons, carts, and horsemen.

‘This,’ said Mr. Hilyard, with pride, ‘is what happeneth daily in the great roads which lead to London.’

‘Yes.’ I said. ‘But why do all the people wear favours?’

This he did not know; but he asked one, and presently came back to me with perturbed countenance. ‘Miss Dorothy,’ he whispered, ‘we are none too soon. This day the prisoners will be marched into London.

It was the very day when the procession of prisoners arrived. We were to see them pass, willy-nilly; for there was no turning back without exciting distrust, and the people were very fierce and angry. Mr. Hilyard even bought a favour for himself and another for me, to avert suspicion. Thus decorated, we followed with the stream of country people who flocked along the road. They were all going, we learned, to a place called Highgate, where there is a lofty hill from which London may be viewed (they say Whittington, while sitting here upon the grass, heard the bells of Bow calling him back); and they were flocking to see the most wonderful show for many a long year, namely, three hundred English gentlemen led in triumph along the way for the mob to jeer at and insult. Truly a magnanimous thing for a victor and a Christian King to command!

If the country people came to Highgate in their smocks, the town people came out in their greasy coats; there were thousands on the hill and on the slopes; where the road sloped downward through hedges and trees, now white and heavy with snow, we saw the mighty multitude rolling to and fro like waves near the shore, and heard them roaring like the waves that beat upon the rocks. Some standing near us said aloud that the prisoners would never reach the town, but be torn to pieces upon the road.

‘Take courage,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘Look! there is a detachment of Guards to convoy them safe, let the mob roar as loud as they please.’

Presently I perceived the melancholy procession slowly coming towards us. Alas! alas! Was this the end? Was it for this that my lady flung down her fan, and I with joyful heart applauded and approved the deed? They defiled slowly past us, riding two abreast, and divided into four detachments or companies. The arms of every man were pinioned behind him; his horse was led by a foot soldier carrying a musket with fixed bayonet; each division was preceded by a troop of horse with drawn swords, their drums insulting the unhappy prisoners by beating a triumphal march in derision.

As this miserable procession marched past the people crowded in on every side, crying out the most frightful imprecations, of which ‘Papists! Bloody Catholics and murderers!’ were the least injurious. Most of the gentlemen thus insulted rode by proudly with head erect, as if they were in a triumphal procession. Was it possible, I asked myself, that Englishmen could thus come out to insult the fallen?

In the last division rode the English noblemen, and with them my unhappy brother. He sat with hanging head, his hands tied behind him, his cheek pale. Alas! poor Tom! What were his thoughts? ‘He knows not,’ whispered Mr. Hilyard, ‘of the letter in my pocket.’ Beside him rode Mr. Patten, his chaplain. He, for his part, seemed proud of his position; he looked about him cheerfully, and nodded his head to the crowd, which assailed him with the vilest language. ‘He is a brave man,’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘It repents me that I called him Creeping Bob. I have forgiven him his Oxford business.’ As for Lord Derwentwater, he sat upright —— his eyes bright, his cheek flushed, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

‘Draw your hood closer,’ Mr. Hilyard whispered; ‘this rabble must not see your tears.’

When the last of the Dragoons who brought up the rear had gone, the mob crowded in and ran along the road behind. There were left only the decent sort. One of those, dressed soberly in a brown coat, said to me, gravely:

‘Young woman, this is a sorry sight, but yet a joyful for honest folk. Remember that these men are the enemies of freedom. I desire not the blood of any man; but I pray above all things for continuance of liberty, especially of conscience and opinion. Keep thy tears, then, for a better cause.’

‘Alas! sir!’ I could not refrain from saying. ‘What if a woman have friends —— a brother, even —— among them?’

‘Madam’—— he took off his hat ——‘I ask your pardon, and I pray for a happy deliverance for your friend —— or brother.’

He went away, but this imprudence frightened Mr. Hilyard mightily, and he hastened to push on down the hill.

Chapter xxix.

In London.

In this way we came to town, where my first night was full of dreadful dreams, and my sleep troubled with the sight of the poor prisoners marching along the road amid the derision and the hootings of the mob. But at the end of the road there was a black scaffold and a gibbet beside it, with hanging ropes; a block, and a man with an axe: and beside me stood no other than my maid, Jenny Lee, saying, as she pointed to Tom, ‘Great name; great blame,’ as she had said on the Eve of St. John.

The place where I was lodged was in a street near Drury Lane, called Great Wyld Street, at the house of one John Purdy, a cousin of John Purdy, the Bamborough blacksmith, himself born at Lucker, but come to London to seek his fortune in that trade, and knowing me very well when I was little. He was married to a buxom young London woman, and had a family of four or five children, being a thriving tradesman. His wife, a decent, kind-hearted body, though a stickler for the Protestant Succession, and of the Independent sect, was curious at first to look upon the sister of the General Forster of whose doings everyone had lately heard so much (the people, I know not why, called him the ‘Man under the Rose,’ and he was popularly supposed to be the chief mover and agent in the whole affair).

‘Sometimes,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘popular beliefs make history. Can it be that Catiline was only an instrument, and Spartacus a tool? Will his honour, the dupe of crafty and designing men, go down to posterity as the fabricator of the whole business?’

In the morning the good woman made a hundred excuses to come into my room: she had a log of ship-timber fresh come up from Deptford; she would ask my pleasure concerning dinner and supper; she could get me some fine fresh fish —— and always with something

about the prisoners. ‘They were followed with shouting and curses,’ she said, in her desire to comfort me, ‘all through the town and as far as the Tower, where they have placed the lords; they sang songs running along beside them, and dangled warming-pans out of the windows. As for Lord Derwentwater, they say he is as handsome as the day, and never lowered his head or made the least sign that he heard a word; he might have been going to his wedding instead of his death, the poor young gentleman! As for the gentlemen, some of them are in Newgate. ’Tis a pity! Mercy, they say, will be shown to none, but all will be hanged. Oh dear! Yes, hanged, drawn, and quartered, and their legs and heads set up on Temple Bar. A thousand pities, to be sure!’

It was cold comfort, indeed, that this good woman gave me. Her husband, however, was better. He came to offer me his best services, and if there was anything he could do for his honour or for me, to let him know; he said that, of course, he recognised Mr. Hilyard in his disguise as a countryman, for which he supposed there was good reason; but he was a North-countryman, and knew the respect due to the Forsters, and how to keep a quiet tongue in his head, especially where his wife was concerned.

Early next morning Mr. Hilyard himself came to see me. He was now transformed again, feeling as much pleasure in this, his second disguise, as a child feels in a new toy. He was, if you please, a physician, with an immense great wig, a black coat, and sword —— very grave, but with nose in the air; he rode in a hackney-coach, because, he said, no one regardeth a physician who walks; besides, it was sixteen years and more since he had sat in a glass-coach. I do not know that there was any necessity for this careful disguise, seeing that no one in London knew him, and that all who were with him in the rebel army were dispersed or prisoners. But he thought so, and it gave him confidence. Besides, he felt himself a secret agent or officer of Lord Crewe, and therefore bound, I suppose, to spend his money.

‘My Lord Bishop,’ he said, ‘will approve of this disguise when he hears of it. Money cannot be better laid out than in artifices which prevent suspicion. Until our plan is completed and we are ready for action, we must lie quiet and snug, and take care to give no occasion for talk.’

He then sat down and proceeded with his news. But first I remarked in him a great vivacity and air of enjoyment. He said that it was the noise of the London streets and the smell of the London air which raised and exhilarated his spirits, so that he felt an uncommon lightness of heart, although the circumstances of this return to his native air were so unhappy.

‘And now,’ he said, ‘I must tell you that his honour is lodged in Newgate, with seventy or eighty of the gentlemen, and the rest are in the Fleet and Marshalsea, except the lords, who are all in the Tower. So much I learned in the coffee-house on Ludgate Hill, whither I repaired after buying these clothes at second-hand in the Minories. The talk is of nothing but the rebels and the prisoners. It is sixteen years and more since last I smelt the tobacco and the coffee. I hope you like this wig; it cost me three guineas, and was the property of a great physician now deceased. All the talk, I say, is of the prisoners. They say the insults of the mob were incredible. The mob is now fired with a noble zeal for the Protestant Succession, and hath grown mighty pious. It is a religious fervour which is too hot to last, but may yet prove disastrous to our friends. I have found a lodging in Great Queen Street, not far from here and convenient for Drury Lane Theatre, where I can lie snug. I have told the landlady, who is a respectable widow woman, that I am a physician from the country, come to town on business. I have paid her a fortnight in advance to prevent questions being asked. And now comes another piece of news which will indeed astonish you. Last night I went to the theatre to divert myself.’

‘To divert yourself! Oh, Mr. Hilyard! did you come to London to divert yourself?’

‘Nay —— nay —— but, believe me, when nothing can be done, it is good to relieve the mind. We must not think of one thing only, or we might presently fall into a melancholy, a lethargy, and so be able to effect nothing. Consider, pray, how long and painful hath been the journey to London, and with what sad thoughts and gloomy forebodings we lengthened the miles. Believe me, Miss Dorothy, not for the pleasure of the acting did I go, but as medicine or physic to the soul.’

He spoke so earnestly that one could not but forgive him. Besides, it was sixteen years since the poor man had seen the theatre.

‘The piece was the “Cobbler of Preston.” But never mind the piece, although it was, for that matter, admirably played. Yet more fire might have been expressed by him who played —— but, I forget; my news has nothing to do with the play. I would you had been in the house to see the brave show, the beaux and the modish ladies. I could have wept to think of the old times when I used to go there whenever I could find a sixpence for the gallery, or a shilling for the pit. The house quite full, and the talk about nothing but the brave bearing of the prisoners. Mostly my Lord Derwentwater was commended, because of all he seems to have the poorest chance of escape. They have already begun to hang them in Liverpool, it is said,’

‘But your news —— your news, Mr. Hilyard!’

‘It is that the principal female character was played —— you will never guess! It was played —— you were never so surprised in all your life —— and played with so great a fire, such justness of gesture and looks, such perfect command of the part and knowledge of the lines as astonished me —— by none other, if you please, than your own maid —— Jenny Lee!’

‘Why,’ I said, ‘I heard that she had joined the players. There is no reason, that I see, for surprise. She was a clever girl, and I hope she has remained good.’

‘Oh!’ he said. ‘Are you not surprised? Should you wonder if I, beginning as a humble curate, were to become Archbishop of Canterbury? Or if a lad who sweeps out the chambers of a barrister were to become Lord Chancellor? Or if a drummer-boy should grow to command the army? Yet, believe me, this is what Jenny Lee has done. Among actresses she is a Bishop, a General, a Lord Chancellor. Indeed she deserves her good fortune, if ever woman did.’

‘By reason of her good conduct?’

‘Nay; what matters her conduct, good or bad? On the stage she is Calista, Almeria, Celinda, what you will; off the stage we have nothing to say or think of her, any more than of any other woman. I mean that she hath become a most accomplished and wonderful actress. But this is not all. After the play was over I went to the stage-door, and begged that a letter might be taken to Mistress Lee from an old friend. It was but a line that I wrote, asking that an old friend from Northumberland might see her. Now be prepared for a new surprise. She came down in a few minutes, but knew me not, so that I had to whisper my name; and then, without saying a word, she took my hand and led me to her own coach. “Come,” she said, “and have supper with me, and tell me all.”’

‘Her own coach? Jenny Lee’s coach?’

‘Why, I said, did I not, that she is a queen among actresses? Of course she has her coach, and coachman too. She lives in Red Lion Square, a very convenient and fashionable part of town, though somewhat far from the theatre. I found in her lodgings no other person than Mr. Frank Radcliffe.’

‘I think,’ I said, ‘that a gentleman of his birth might be more choice in his company. Did he, too, go to the theatre, or to sup with a play-actress, to divert his mind?’

‘But,’ he repeated, ‘she is a very great actress indeed. However, there is not much diversion for Mr. Frank. To begin with, I saw clearly that the poor young gentleman is melancholy mad in love with Jenny. She can do with him what she pleases. You remember the strange thing you saw at Dilston. She orders and he obeys. Yet he looks little like a lover, and is so worn and thin that you would not know him. He says that had he known of the rising he would have hurried to the north to join his brother, but he had no hint or suspicion of it. The poor young gentleman, with his hacking cough, would have been killed in a week. I told him that, so far as I could learn, the Earl had no hint or suspicion of it either, and that, for his own sake, his friends were well pleased that he had not joined that unfortunate enterprise. I then explained the cause of my coming to London, and the manner, which greatly affected Jenny (whose heart, I am sure, is good, though she be an actress). She shed tears, and inquired if in any way she might help us in our business.’

‘Why,’ I said, ‘the Forsters must be sunk low indeed, if they must stoop to seek the aid of an actress who was once a servant-maid.’

Mr. Hilyard replied nothing.

‘To be sure,’ I went on, ‘you yourself seem infatuated with the girl. Is it not intolerable that she should steal away the senses of a young gentleman with her sorceries? And you would have me, her former mistress, go to her for counsel and aid?’

‘Forgive me,’ he replied, humbly. ‘As for her sorceries, I doubt if they are now, whatever they were once, other than any woman can exercise with black eyes and pretty face, and such a wit as Jenny hath. ’Tis true she was your maid; but she is so no longer. All things must have a beginning. Why, I was myself but the son of a vintner, and have, if the truth be told, sat at the spigot when a boy and filled the measures. Yet was I thought worthy to be enrolled among the gentlemen volunteers, and to fight beside Lord Derwentwater himself at Preston. Jenny was once your maid; but she is now a great and wonderful actress.’

‘Say no more of her, Mr. Hilyard,’ I replied.

‘Alas!’ he said, ‘will the day ever come when ladies will look upon actors as they have long since looked upon painters and poets, and hold them in equal honour? But fear not, Miss Dorothy; Jenny, poor girl, shall not, as she desires, pay her respects to you. Yet she wept, thinking of your kindness towards her.’

He forbore at the time to tell me more, but afterwards I learned what passed. It seems that, like Mrs. Bracegirdle, Mrs. Oldfield, and other great actresses, Jenny was continually besieged by troops of lovers and gallants, who swarmed after her like flies in August. I do not know what magic charm there is in her profession and calling which causeth men to run after an actress; but this I am assured is the case with all of them who are young and pretty. Among Jenny’s courtiers were some of rank and high in office, whose names (though I learned them) must not be mentioned here. But she would have nothing to say to any of them, being resolved upon nothing less than marrying Frank Radcliffe, who loved her with a kind of madness, and on keeping her reputation unspotted for his sake. Because she was an actress, there were stories told about her, and if these were true (but they were not) she must have been the worst of women. She promised Mr. Hilyard at that supper that she would consider, from her knowledge of the town, what was best to be done, and how she should work among those great gentlemen who dangled after her, for Mr. Forster. As for the Earl, he, she said, was altogether game too high for her: he would command a host of friends, and it depended on nothing but the King’s clemency or his revenge. But, as for a plain country gentleman, why, perhaps —— she could not say —— and he was the General, which made it difficult —— but she would consult with a certain great man about the Court. All this from an actress and a gipsy girl, who had been my maid! But strange things happen still in London! All this she would do, and more if she could, for Miss Dorothy’s sake, and for no other’s; unless it might be for Mr. Hilyard himself, who first taught her to act.

‘Her supper was noble,’ Mr. Hilyard continued. ‘After the meals we have taken on the road, it was a feast of Belshazzar. But Mr. Frank touched nothing, coughing grievously. After supper we had whisky punch, the first I have tasted since we left the north. Alas! shall I ever drink it again with his honour in the Manor House?’ Here his eyes overflowed. ‘It cannot be but we will somehow get him off —— either by interest or else by the golden key.’

I confess that I was at first humiliated and shamed at the thought of owing anything to the backstairs influence of Jenny Lee, and I rejoice still to think that in the end it was not needed. I do not share Mr. Hilyard’s admiration of the actor’s art, nor do I find anything admirable, unless shamelessness be admirable, in standing up before a thousand people to recite verses, dressed up in a gilt crown and a silk gown. But I was sorry to hear the bad news concerning Frank Radcliffe, whom I resolved upon seeing as soon as possible. Meantime, for a few days, nothing could be done, Mr. Hilyard said, except to seek out such friends as might help us. Now, so unhappy were we, that of all our friends and cousins —— who are legion —— there was not one who was on the other side, excepting only Lady Cowper.

In the afternoon of that day, Mr. Hilyard took me abroad, to see some of the sights of London. First, he led me to Drury Lane; where he pointed out the great theatre, the house where Nell Gwynne lived, the place where Lord Craven, who married Princess Elizabeth, had his palace, and many other curious places. Through by-lanes and narrow passages filled with shops and people he next led me into the Strand, which is truly a wonderful thoroughfare, with, on the south side, Somerset House and the site of the old Savoy (now in ruins), Buckingham House, Northumberland House, and many others. The day was very cold, but the ladies were abroad, some in coaches and some walking, the latter mostly attended by gentlemen. Then Mr. Hilyard showed me the Park and Spring Gardens, but I cannot understand how any can call them beautiful. Perhaps, when the leaves are on the trees, the long straight alleys may look well.

‘You should see them,’ said my guide, ‘in June, when the trees are green, and beneath the trees the fine ladies and the beaux. That is, indeed, a sight to make one dream of heaven.’

From the Park he led me to Westminster Abbey. Here, as the day was growing dark, we wandered in the dim and awful twilight among the monuments, while our footsteps echoed in the lofty roof, and our voices resounded overhead in gentle thunder.

‘It is a place for prayer and meditation,’ I said. ‘Surely in so great a city there must be many unhappy.’

‘I doubt it not,’ replied Mr. Hilyard. ‘The city hath thousands of poor wretches.’

‘Do they come here,’ I asked, ‘to pray and repent?’

He shook his head.

‘The Church of England,’ he replied, ‘keeps these great cathedrals for the spiritual benefit of the better sort. For the baser kind, and to further and encourage their prayers and repentance, there are mercifully provided the whipping-post, the pillory, Bridewell, where the lash is not spared, and Newgate, with its gaol-fever, its chains, its greedy warders, and the Reverend Ordinary who also goeth in the cart to Tyburn with those who are to be hanged.’

Let me here set down a strange thing, which I thought a freak of Mr. Hilyard’s; yet to which I consented, because one would not throw away a chance: and in the long-run, it helped me much, and perhaps assured me safety, as you will hear.

He was always full of mystery about his plans, sometimes throwing out hints of an armed rescue by means of a Jacobite mob; and at other times dwelling on the necessity of caution, and secret corruption of persons in trust. Once, I remember, he proposed seriously a forged pardon and order from the King to let Mr. Forster go free.

‘If,’ he said, ‘it was a tragedy we were writing, I should say that no better plot could be devised than the escape of the prisoner, on the morning of his execution, by means of a forged pardon. But I doubt whether the difficulty of deceiving the Governor, and the uncertainty as to the proper form of signature —— whether paper or parchment, how to be worded, how sent to the prison —— would not prove fatal to the design.’

And so with many other notable designs.

One day, however, he informed me that he had considered the subject carefully, and was of opinion that steps should be taken to throw suspicion, after the escape, in a false direction; that he had already learned, from a certain source, of a sea captain of Wapping, reported to be an extraordinary villain and most treacherous dog, making it his practice to bargain with gentlemen, highwaymen, cutthroats, and others, who might desire to change their native air for that of France, for their conveyance across the water; and, having gotten their money, to betray them for more pay —— if he could get it —— to the messengers and officers.

‘What,’ I asked, ‘have we to do with such a desperate villain as this?’

‘Why,’ said Mr. Hilyard, remember that we know not when we may make our attempt. We will go to him, the first thing; we will open the business, naming no names; we will prepare him, beforehand, to expect a great personage.’

I could not understand why. If the man was a villain, why not go to an honest man, who would truly serve us?

‘As for my plans,’ he went on, ‘they are not perfected; nor can they be until I have seen his honour and inspected the ground. But we cannot begin too soon, nor can we neglect the least precaution.’

I knew nothing, as yet, of his plans; because, as I have already said, what he had opened to me seemed like the foolish story of a play. However, I listened to him in the matter of this Wapping journey (which, although such as would only be thought of by one who had read many plays, turned out, in the long-run, useful), and we rode thither in a glass-coach. I dressed in my best, concerning which Mr. Hilyard was very particular, wishing the fellow we had to do with to take me for a lady of the highest quality.

We came, after a long drive through streets more crowded and noisy, and with more tumult, fighting, and blasphemy, than I could have believed possible, to the river-bank, to a place called Wapping Old Stairs, where we left the coach and took boat (if the people in the streets swore horribly, those on the river swore much worse), and were rowed to a small vessel moored in the middle of the stream. The captain, who was on deck, had a chair rigged to a yard and lowered for me, while Mr. Hilyard clambered up the ladder. A most sinister and evil-looking villain he was, with a great scar across his face; but he bowed, and tried to smile and to look loyal and faithful. Judas himself, or Mr. Patten, had not a more sinister countenance.

‘Here is the lady, captain,’ said Mr. Hilyard; ‘and not to beat about the bush, seeing that we are all honest people here, and of the right sort ——’

‘Truly,’ said the captain, with a most forbidding grin, ‘of the right sort.’

‘Let us come to the point. We will say that her ladyship hath a husband, brother, father, or lover, anxious, for reasons of his own, to change the air. As for his lordship’s —— I mean his honour’s —— name, it matters not. The question is, first, for how much you will take this gentleman abroad and land him on the coast of France.’

‘I will take him, because of his opinions,’ said the honourable captain, ‘for a hundred and fifty guineas.’

Heavens! what a price for taking a gentleman across the Channel!

‘Captain,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘your hand upon it. It is a cheap bargain. This, your ladyship,’ turning to me, ‘is a man of honour. Of that I am informed by friends in whom I can trust. We may rely upon him. He is a man of honour. It may be a month, or even more, before we are ready. But here is our man. Lucky we are to find a man of honour ready to our hand.’

The captain protested that all the world knew him for a man of honour; but that, as for waiting, he should require ten guineas a week for keeping the hoy in readiness.

‘You shall have it, captain, said Mr. Hilyard readily. ‘You shall have it. A moderate sum, indeed, for such a man as yourself. But you must be always aboard, for we may drop down at any hour of the day or night.’

‘He is Judas Iscariot the Second, or perhaps his great-grandson,’ said Mr. Hilyard when we were ashore. ‘We can go home again, remembering that this villain will presently make another bargain for his own advantage, by which he hopes, when he has secured his money from the escaping prisoner, to get a second and perhaps a higher price.’

‘How will it serve us?’

‘In this way, that they will first look for his honour, when we have got him out, at Wapping, which will give us time.’

This seemed very ingenious; but, meanwhile, how was he to be got out? And here Mr. Hilyard could only talk about his plans, which were as yet, he said, only half-hatched; but he thought of nothing else day or night, and went each evening, in order to seek inspiration, to the theatre. I blamed him not. It was my brother, not he, who was in Newgate; and surely no one could have been more generous and faithful than he during all that long and terrible ride to London.

Chapter xxx.

Lady Cowper.

Lord Cowper’s great town house was in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, at the north-west corner. I went in the morning, hoping to find there my cousin (who was now a Lady of the Chamber to the Princess of Wales) free from visitors, and more open to hear my case: and by the advice of Mr. Hilyard, who accompanied me, we hired a glass-coach for the visit, so that the impudent lacqueys and footmen should not fail to pay us the respect which they withhold whenever the outward appearance of a visitor doth not proclaim his quality and rank. Certainly, I think these London varlets are a disgrace to the manners of the City. It matters little what such gentry think of one; but it was of great importance not to be thrust aside and kept waiting in the hall among the jeers and ribaldry of this people, who are thus badly behaved because their masters do not correct them as they should. Never were, any stable-boys, for instance, better mannered than Tom’s, because he always went among them, as he went among his dogs, whip in hand.

There was a little crowd about the door, consisting partly of tradesmen waiting to see the housekeeper or her ladyship, partly of footmen in livery, and partly of persons, perhaps gentlemen, looking for the most part anxious and decayed, waiting to present petitions, or to have audience of the Lord Chancellor. Mr. Hilyard left me in the coach, and conversed for a few minutes with a great, insolent-looking fellow in my lord’s livery. I saw him put money (it was a whole guinea) into the man’s hand.

‘Tell my lady,’ he said, ‘her cousin desires to have speech with her.’

Upon this the man went away, but presently returned, and Mr. Hilyard informed me that her ladyship would see her cousin.

It was still so early that Lady Cowper was sitting in her breakfast-room, three children playing round her on the floor. I desire before everything else to testify that, though my cousin, Lady Cowper, was the wife of a great Whig Lord and Minister of State, nothing could have been kinder than her reception of me, whose brother she could not but regard as a principal cause of all the trouble, and nothing more friendly than her continued interest in my case, and thoughtful advice. At this time she was about thirty years of age, having been born at Chipwell, in Durham, in the year 1685, and was married in 1706 to Lord Cowper, then Keeper of the Great Seals (she died seven years later of a broken heart, three months after her husband, and is now, I cannot doubt, having been so good a woman, far happier than she ever hoped to be). This virtuous and amiable woman showed in her lovely face the virtues and graces with which she was so bountifully endowed. Her features were straight and regular; her eyes full and soft —— my own still shed tears, even to think of her. When I entered the room she rose and came to meet me.

‘Cousin!’ she said, giving me both her hands, ‘I have not learned your name, but I give you welcome. Sit down and tell me what is your trouble —— you have great trouble written on your face, my dear —— and how I can best help you.’

But at these kind words —— almost the first I had heard since the trouble began —— my courage gave way, and I fell into a passion of crying and sobbing. Yet I had not cried once, except with my Lord Crewe, since Mr. Hilyard brought me the dreadful news. She took my hands in hers and kissed me, crying with me, I think.

‘Tell me, my dear,’ she said presently, ‘tell me, if you can, who you are.’

‘Alas! ‘I replied, ‘I am Dorothy Forster.’

‘What?’ she said, her eyes full of compassion. ‘You are my beautiful cousin Dorothy? My dear, I have heard of you: like poor Lady Crewe, whom this trouble has killed, you could find no one good enough for you in the north, and must needs wait for a Prince. My poor child! I cannot say that I am glad to see you, for, indeed, this is a most grievous and terrible business. Yet, try to keep up your heart while we consider what may be done. In the first place, there is no hurry, we have time before us: my lord says that the trials of the Peers are certain to come first, but we cannot tell when they will come on. As for your brother Tom —— I have seen him, and I wished him to come here often, but he would never pay his court to ladies, and preferred his Jacobite coffee-house —— if he were tried to-day or to-morrow, in the present temper of the Court and the town, there can be no doubt of the sentence. You will gain by waiting. But, oh! my dear, consider his offence. He was the General of the English forces. He is not an ordinary rebel. He is as bad as the Earl of Mar or Lord Kenmure. Do not suffer him to be hopeful, but rather let him prepare for the worst. And do you, Dorothy, work your best for him meanwhile.’

Then she asked me where I was lodging, and promised to procure for me, if she could, an order to see Tom in Newgate. All visitors, except such as had permission, were as yet refused admission; but this restriction was speedily broken through in favour of those who had money wherewith to bribe the officers of the prison.

‘I know not,’ she went on, ‘what may be the mind of the King, but I am very sure that the Ministers will desire that the examples shall be as few as possible. Why, why did not Tom Forster follow the example of so many others, and escape by the way?’

I knew not that any escaped on the way.

‘I suppose,’ I replied, ‘that his honour was concerned. Others might run away, but not the General who surrendered.’

‘Nay, but the King’s honour is not concerned in granting a pardon to the leaders. Yet it is early to talk of these things. Now, child, come to see me often: this week I am in waiting: I have told the Princess already that poor Tom is my cousin: but of course she can do nothing —— yet. My dear, he should have escaped. Oh! they should all have escaped! I have no patience with the punctilio of men who led so crazy an enterprise. Why, if the threatened end were not so terrible, they would all be the laughing-stock of the country. Dorothy, my dear Dorothy, why did you let them do it?’

‘Indeed,’ I said, ‘we believed what we were told: and, alas! the women were worse than the men. We were told —— Colonel Oxbrough and Captain Gascoigne said so —— that the whole country was with us: the army would mutiny: the people would rally round us —— what did they not say?’

‘As for these agitators, at least,’ said Lady Cowper gravely, ‘I trust that full justice will be done.’

‘Yet all the way to London,’ I told her, ‘we heard nothing but curses on the Prince and all his party, and the Pope. Not once in all that long ride did we find a man who prayed for his return.’

Then she asked me how I came to London, and when she heard that it was on horseback, through all the dreadful weather, she threw up her hands in wonder.

‘Is there any,’ she cried, ‘but a brave Northumberland girl who would take such a ride? But who came with you, Dorothy?’

Should I tell? Yet I knew she would not betray me.

‘My brother’s steward; formerly his tutor —— Mr. Hilyard. Oh! Lady Cowper, hush! let me whisper. He, too, was with them, but he escaped. To bring me to London he dressed himself like a blacksmith, and me like a country-wench. Now he waits for me at your door, disguised as a grave physician. I have placed his life in your hands! But, without him, I am helpless indeed.’

‘His life is safe with me, my child; but I would willingly converse with a rebel who thus puts his head in the lion’s mouth.’

She rang a hand-bell, and ordered a footman to bring to her the gentleman who was waiting for me.

Mr. Hilyard came, wearing a face of the greatest importance and learning.

‘Pray, sir,’ said Lady Cowper, ‘pardon me. I am anxious concerning my cousin’s health. She hath suffered great weariness of body and trouble of mind of late. Your learned counsel, I trust, will not be wanting in the case. You are doubtless a Member of the College of Physicians.’

‘I had the honour of studying medicine, my lady, at the renowned University of Leyden,’ he replied, without a blush, though the falsehood was so great.

‘Would you be willing to take counsel with my own physician? I find my cousin’s cheek pale, and her colour comes and goes. These are signs which should not be neglected.’

‘Most willingly, madam, will I consult with your physician. But your ladyship need be under no pain in Miss Dorothy’s case. She suffers from that complaint for which the ancients did worship Angerona Dea, videlicet, Fear: but in her case it is fear on account of others. It is a disorder which affects the brains only of the more noble (the Muses, for example, are said to be melancholy because their followers are poor). For the remedy of this disorder there is, first, the removal of the cause, so that the liberation of his honour, Mr. Thomas Forster the younger, and that of the Earl of Derwentwater, will, I pledge my professional skill, leave this lady as comely of face and as cheerful of aspect as before. But if that may not yet be done, I would prescribe hope, the promise of her friends to help, daily prayer, and certain precepts of philosophy, with the use of herbs, such as betony, a sprig of marigold always in her broth, and the flowers of Carduus benedictus. Other simples there are, with which I will not weary your ladyship.’

‘Indeed, sir, my cousin is fortunate in having so learned a physician.’

She smiled as she said this, but Mr. Hilyard bowed low, puffing out his cheeks, and looking so learned and skilful a physician that even I was almost deceived.

Then she dismissed me, promising faithfully to keep my case in mind, and to say what she could to help.

‘Do not forget, however,’ she added, ‘that I have the chief of my own family, Mr. Clavering of Callalee, in Newgate, with many other friends and cousins. To think that the poor old gentleman, now over seventy, should have thought to take up arms. Yet, like Tom Forster and all the rest, his estates are almost ruined by free hospitality and feasting. Yes, I know, Lady Crewe would have given all back to Tom, and so the Forsters of Bamborough might have begun again in greater wealth and state than before. It was her dream, poor lady; and foolish Tom must needs break it to pieces and kill the dreamer. Why, I know not, except that he hoped to repair his fortunes by another and quicker way, yet full of danger. Well; drink, feasting, horse-racing and sport, have ruined more Northumberland gentlemen of late than all the Scots across the Border in the good old days. Farewell, brave child! We must do our best to remove the cause, most learned sir, of my cousin’s sick looks, and then we shall want neither betony, nor marigold, nor —— nor the other remedy —— what was it?’

‘That most noble and sovereign herb, my lady, called Carduus benedictus.’

Chapter xxxi.

The Unfortunate Mr. Paul.

In three or four days Lady Cowper sent for me again to visit her in the morning. She had to tell me that I might now visit my brother in Newgate, for they suffered as many as pleased to visit the prisoners. But that as for the physician, my friend ——‘Child,’ she said, smiling, ‘you ought not to have told me. Pray forget that I have the man’s secret. Yet was I glad to have seen and conversed with a creature so honest and so faithful. Doth he ask no reward for his services?’

How could he, seeing I had nothing in the world to give him, nor had Tom neither? And the upshot of the whole business to him would be little short of ruin, seeing that his occupation was gone. Lady Crewe dead; Tom, if pardoned or reprieved, probably without any means; I powerless to help; his own youth gone (he was now at least thirty-seven) —— what would the poor man do in this hard world to get him a living?

‘Nay,’ said Lady Cowper; ‘a gentleman of his gifts can never starve, though it be long before he finds another patron like Tom, and another place to suit his genius so well as the one now in jeopardy. But, my dear, caution him carefully that he go not near Newgate yet, permission or not. Listen: it is whispered that the evidence against the prisoners will be found in the prison itself —— I mean, cousin, that wherever there are conspirators there are traitors; and when it comes to danger for the neck, honour and faith have but a poor chance. Ask me no questions, my dear. None of the gentlemen, our cousins, we may be sure, would consent to save their lives by such villainy. I only warn thee. There may be informers to turn King’s evidence. This physician —— whoever he may be —— lord! I have no memory —— if you even told me, I have clean and altogether forgotten where he comes from —— Leyden was it, or Muscovy? —— let him not venture within those walls; and, if he value his learned neck, bid him go no more abroad in the streets than is necessary, and if he can disguise his face, let him do so. Informers have one fault: they will still be showing zeal; and, perhaps, to secure a rebel at large might be thought by them more praiseworthy than to convict a rebel in prison. As for Tom,’ she went on, ‘if he is tried, make him plead guilty. It is his only chance —— since he missed the chance of running away on the road. My dear, if Lady Crewe were living, he certainly would never be tried at all.’

She said this with so much meaning, that one could not but understand her.

‘Perhaps,’ I said, ‘Lord Crewe might be willing to do for his wife’s nephew what his wife would have done, had she lived.’

She smiled, and looked as if she would like to know more. Then she said:

‘If that is so, cousin, keep thy secret carefully. Tell me no more; or if you do tell me, forget that you have told me. But best not. Has anything yet been done? But do not tell me. A woman whose husband is the Lord Chancellor must not know these things. Yet my memory is very short. Oh! cousin, tell me or not, as seems you best; but, my dear, be prudent. Do not hurry, yet waste no time.’

I told her, then, after reminding her that my brother’s life depended on her secrecy, that nothing was yet done, but that we had command of a vast great sum of money, and Mr. Hilyard was engaged in devising a plan which should be safe and expeditious.

‘Mr. Hilyard,’ she said, ‘may be an ingenious man; but in such a case as this an ounce of woman’s wit, I take it, is worth a pound of man’s. No doubt he could tell us how men have broken prison since the first prison-house was erected by some Greek king; that is the way men cheat us, and because they know history, they think they can do everything; here, however, is no case for the boring of holes through the wall. Remember, my dear, the old story of Jupiter when he was in love, and how he got into the tower of the nymph. You know the pretty, naughty fable? By a shower of gold, my dear. Take your shower of gold in your own hand and try. Alas! how one’s tongue carries one away! What has the wife of the Lord Chancellor to do with showers of gold and Greek damsels? Yet, my cousin, I would to heaven that Tom was gotten clean away! I told the Princess of your long march to London through the snow and frost, and she wept. Do you think your Prince would have wept?’

Now this talk set me a-thinking. For Mr. Hilyard was all in the clouds with his great plans, and talked sometimes as if he was about to raise an army, or to besiege Newgate; and at other times as if he was inventing the plot of some mighty drama, in which the right people always came on the stage at the right time. Yet these vast projects were, I suppose, but the preliminaries to some more practical scheme. As for what I thought and what I attempted, you shall hear presently.

When I repeated to Mr. Hilyard some of this conversation, and especially that part of it which related to King’s evidence, he fell into so violent a wrath that I thought he would have had some sort of fit. For, surely, he declared, there can be no more dreadful wickedness than thus to betray the men with whom you have sworn fidelity. We wrote out lists, so far as we knew them, of all the prisoners brought to London, and we could think of none capable of playing so mean, so treacherous, so contemptible a part. Yet we could not choose but take Lady Cowper’s warning seriously, and Mr. Hilyard, with grave face, promised to run no risks that he could avoid.

In spite of his promise he presently fell into so great a danger that he got a terrible fright, and for some time lost confidence in his disguise, and would not venture abroad until nightfall. The way of it was this. Some prisoners being brought to London from Scotland, he must needs, being assured, in his own conceit, against recognition, go stand with the crowd outside the gates of Newgate to see them enter. It was mostly a Jacobite crowd, collected to cheer the unhappy men, but there were Whigs among them. Now, as Mr. Hilyard, in his sober physician’s dress, stood among the rest, some one tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned and saw that it was no other than the Reverend Mr. William Paul, the clergyman who joined the rebels in Lancashire, and escaped through having been sent away with letters. He had put off his cassock, and now, dressed like a plain citizen of London, was come to see the dismal show.

‘Ho! brother,’ he whispered. ‘Do you not know me? Let us go drink a glass together.’

‘What!’ said Mr. Hilyard. ‘It is Mr. Paul! Did you recognise me in this disguise?’

‘Recognise you? Of course I did, for all your great wig and your sober looks.’

While they were thus conversing there stepped from the doors of the prison an officer armed with a truncheon, who laid his hand upon the unfortunate Mr. Paul’s shoulder.

‘In the King’s name!’ he said, ‘I have a warrant to arrest the body of the Reverend William Paul.’

So saying, though the crowd pushed to and fro, and groaned, none dared attempt a rescue, and in a moment the poor man was haled within the prison-doors. (He was one of those afterwards executed.) You may be sure that Mr. Hilyard was not long in retreating, and for a few days he did not dare so much as to come to my lodgings.

I thought continually of Lady Cowper’s words concerning woman’s wit, but came not for a long while into any reasonable way of following her advice, for no other cause, I verily believe, than that I could not at all understand how to spend the twenty thousand pounds which Lord Crewe was ready to give us. When, however, I began to go to Newgate (of which I will tell immediately), I distinguished a turnkey or officer who belonged especially to the Governor’s house; and, partly at first in the hope that to conciliate this fellow might soften Tom’s lot in prison, I began to give him money.

He was a cunning-looking rascal, about fifty-five years of age, with a, foxy face and red twinkling eyes, which from the first followed me about as if I seemed likely to offer bribes. His fingers were curly from the taking of fees, while as for pity towards the poor unfortunate people in ward, his heart, I am sure, was nothing in the world but a lump of stone; he looked on every prisoner as worth so many guineas, and lamented the execution of a profitable criminal much as a physician laments the death of a profitable patient. Finding how greedy he was, and keen after money, I began to consider if I could not use him for some more considerable purpose than a careful attention to Tom, for whom, as he had his own man with him, he could do but little, even if he desired. Therefore I increased my gifts, dropping each day something handsome into his palm, and pretending to be grateful for his (supposed) kindness to my brother.

‘Such goodness,’ I said to him, ‘deserves a better reward, which it shall certainly obtain if the General steps out of prison. To be sure, if one were to find a willing and a friendly heart, that were easy. Ah! how gladly would one reward such a person! Think of it, Mr. Jonas!’ That was his name.

He grinned and nodded, and said he should not forget what I had said. Then every day that he saw me he would look at me inquiringly, as if to wonder why I did not use his services; and if he got a chance of speaking to me unheard, he would whisper:

‘A friendly and a willing heart, your ladyship.’

This was all my secret. While Mr. Hilyard was concocting great schemes and plots, I was simply trying whether a common servant of the gaol would not do the business for us just as well as if we were to set agoing the whole machinery of a five-act comedy with Spanish intrigues and French surprises.

And as for this fellow, it was perfectly plain to me that, though perhaps he might play me false in the end, he was willing to open his ears wide at the mere mention of the words ‘reward’ or ‘bribe.’ Therefore I kept him on and off, saying nothing more at the time, but waiting for a favourable opportunity.

The time was not yet ripe, for outside, not only in London, but over the whole country, there was such an uproar that one would have thought it was nothing less than the defeat of the Spanish Armada, instead of a handful of their own misguided countrymen rising inopportunely in a righteous cause. The bells of the City churches were kept a-clanging; bands of men paraded the streets with favours, shouting and challenging the Jacks to come forth and show themselves; there was fighting, drinking, profane swearing, lighting of bonfires, and brandishing of warming-pans all day long, and, I dare say, all night as well. As for me, I saw little of it; but once, going to the prison in a coach, we were stopped by a dozen half-drunken men, who pressed round the doors, swearing that I must drink King George’s health, or kiss them all. So I drank to the King, wishing in secret that it might choke his majesty, and they laughed and bade the coachman drive on. Why, what a poor cause that must be which wants such swaggerers and drunken reprobates to defend it! The hatred of the people against us was kept up, and aggravated as well, by the sermons of the London clergymen, especially in Nonconformist chapels; and, above all, by the Whig papers, which continually hurled dirt at the unfortunate prisoners and the cause for which they suffered. Lady Cowper bade me pay no heed to these things, because, she said, nobody regards what the journals say. Yet it was dreadful to read the things that were written about the wives and friends of the prisoners. We were assailed as tigresses —— but, indeed, I cannot repeat what they said; they also pleased themselves by enumerating the possessions and country seats of the rebels, which they confiscated, sold, and distributed long before the prisoners were tried at all. And they would not so much as listen to a word of mercy.

The first time I went to Newgate, it was expecting nothing short of underground dungeons, chains, gloom, and misery. Yet when I was admitted, the warden (no other than this same Jonas), after taking my name, and telling me that the General was lying in the Governor’s house with a few other gentlemen, led the way to a large and comfortable room on the first floor, which was his chamber. The only inconvenience about the room was that it served as bedroom, dining-room, and parlour all in one. There was no clank of chains, and nothing to remind one that it was a prison, save the feeling that between the house and the street was an ante-room, with turnkeys and a strong door.

It was in the forenoon; Tom was sitting beside a bright coal-fire, his wig and hat lying on the bed, and his head in a warm linen nightcap. Opposite to him sat Mr. Patten, and both were smoking tobacco, early as it was. But they were silent, and they looked sad. As for the chaplain, who had made so brave a show riding among the prisoners, he was now pale of cheek and heavy of eye.

‘Dorothy!’ cried Tom, springing to his feet. ‘Why, I knew that she would come to London after me! Did I not say so, parson? ’Tis a brave girl. Kiss me, lass. So —— now what news? What will Lady Crewe do? What doth her ladyship say? Will she among her friends ——’

‘Alas, Tom!’ I said; ‘Lady Crewe is dead. She died two months ago, after a kind of fit, or convulsion, for fear that you would be taken. Tom, ’twas pure love for you that killed her.’

At this dreadful intelligence Tom turned quite white, and fell back into his chair.

‘Lady Crewe dead? Then,’ he looked round him helplessly, ‘what will become of us all?’

‘Nay, Tom,’ I replied. ‘We know not, yet. But keep up heart, brother. There is time enough yet to consider; and all are agreed that, where so many are concerned, mercy must be shown. For shame’s sake they cannot but pardon some of these gentlemen.’

‘Why,’ said Tom, ‘some they may. But I was their General. What do you say to that, Dorothy? Unless they pardon all, I doubt if the General will escape.’

‘And I,’ said Mr. Patten, shaking his head gloomily, ‘was, alas! his honour’s chaplain. I doubt they will make an example of me for the encouragement of my cloth. What do they say outside about me, Miss Dorothy?’

‘Indeed, Mr. Patten,’ I told him, ‘I know little of what they say, for as yet I have seen no one but my cousin, Lady Cowper.’

‘Miss Dorothy,’ he said earnestly, ‘pray, you that are so tender of heart, when you speak of his honour to her ladyship, couple my name with his. Say the General and his chaplain. Do not suffer them to be separated. The General with his chaplain. If we have sinned together —— nay, I deny not that I exhorted him continually that he was on the Lord’s side —— we have been taken together. Why, your honour, Lady Cowper is the wife of the Chancellor —— no less. If she pleases she can set us free. But it would cut your generous heart to the quick, I know it, if I were left to hang while you marched out free.’

‘It would,’ said Tom. ‘Fear not, friend; we shall go out together.’

‘As yet,’ I told them, ‘Lady Cowper can do nothing. Nobody can say a word. What she will be able to do afterwards, I know not. Remember that she is a great lady at Court, and a Lady of the Bed–Chamber to the Princess of Wales, and must not seem to screen his Highness’s friends too much.’

Mr. Patten was, it was plain, in a great scare, now that he actually found himself in prison, with a prospect of being hanged. I have always been truly thankful that I said nothing at the time of what the Bishop was willing to do; else Mr. Patten (the villain) would have heard and blabbed, and so all been spoiled. Perhaps Tom in his cups might have blurted it out. So I asked Tom only if he was comfortable, and if I could do aught for him.

‘Why,’ said Tom,‘as for comfort, I suppose whatever you give him, a bird in a cage, or a rat in a trap, is never so comfortable as a bird in the air or a rat in the ditch. For those who have money there is some comfort, as you see; a quiet place at least, where one can take a pipe of tobacco in peace. As for my money, ’tis almost at an end; look you to it, Dorothy, if you can.’

I told him that I could find money for him, but that at present he must not ask from whom it came, because I wished him not as yet to know that it came from Lord Crewe.

‘So long as it comes,’ he said, ‘I care not where it comes from. They made me pay twenty five guineas for privilege not to wear irons —— they are making great fortunes out of us, these turnkeys and wardens —— twenty-five guineas, and as much for Mr. Patten here —— else would his legs be clinking as he went’—— Mr. Patten shook his head and sighed. ‘Ten guineas I paid not to be put in the common side; and as much for Mr. Patten —— else he would be among the poor devils who have got no money, and pig together like sows in a sty —— now he hath accommodation with no more than two or three at most in a bed, and the Press Yard to walk in with the gentlemen, and the ordinary to converse with.’

‘A worthy man,’ said Mr. Patten, ‘but obstinate on the vice of rebellion, and perhaps over-hot for the Protestant Succession.’

‘Five pounds a week they make us pay for lodging in the Governor’s house, and another five pounds for a room to myself; and what with garniture here, garniture there, fees everywhere —— hang me if the wealth of London would stand a whole winter in this place! But perhaps they won’t keep us here the whole winter.’

Mr. Patten groaned aloud.

‘As for company,’ Tom went on, ‘there are all our old friends. Charles Radcliffe, Ned Swinburne and his brother Charles, Perry Widdrington, Jack Hall, Dick Stokoe, and all we used to drink with; we can drink and sing together as much as ever, but there does not seem much stomach for it, because, Dorothy, we can no longer ride together: and as for other company, the prison is always full of it.’

He then went on to tell me how these friends of ours were treated. The prison consists, first, of what is called the ‘Common Side,’ with the ‘Lions’ Den’ and the ‘Middle Dark,’ where the baser sort are confined. I know not what must be the sufferings of the poor creatures who, for lack of money, are thrust into these dreadful places, which are, to begin with, filled with men and women of the vilest kind, creatures without (as it would seem) one spark left of virtue, religion, or decency. Some of those who were in that dreadful place were my own friends, the gallant lads I had known from childhood. They stayed not long; if the Jacobites of London would not fight, they could, and did, find money, and before long every gentleman in the gaol found such accommodation as was possible to be obtained in the place. For those who had money might buy the right of using the Press Yard by day, with beds in the rooms round it belonging to the Governor. As for scenes of despair, I know not what they might suffer on the Common Side, but in the Press Yard into which I looked, there seemed nothing but jollity, drinking, and mirth. Is it possible, I asked myself, that men who are in peril of being sentenced to death can face the danger with hearts so callous? Why, here was a knot of men in a drinking-box as unconcerned as if they were mere visitors, or the place was a common tavern. Some were playing cards, some were talking vehemently, some quarrelling, some playing tennis, some smoking tobacco, some lounging against doorposts; but as for any decent, God-fearing behaviour, that I think one might look for in vain. All day long they spent in the Press Yard, unless at meals; at ten o’clock they were locked in their rooms, where sometimes two or three had to sleep on the same bed, until eight in the morning.

‘It is a wretched place,’ said Tom; ‘and an insult to a gentleman to send him here. Why, I expected at least such a respect due to my position as to be sent to the Tower. But no; here I am, as you see, shut up with the rank and file, as one may say.’

‘Yet you are in good company,’ I said; ‘since all your old friends are with you.’

‘Why am I not with the lords in the Tower?’ he repeated. ‘Surely the General of the army might be treated with as much consideration as any nobleman in his command. I take it ill, Dorothy, I assure you. Some private enemy hath interposed to rob me of the honour due to me.’

I thought that when it came to getting him out, I would rather he was in Newgate than in the Tower; but I did not say so.

‘As for my trial,’ he said, ‘I care not when it comes on; I am assured that I have friends enough to pack a jury. As for that, they will find it difficult to get any jury to convict. I do not fear, Dorothy. Then it will be our turn next, and we will let these gentlemen have a taste of the Press Yard.’

I believe that his friends were right in so advising him; no jury could have been found to agree in a verdict, unless it was made up of Nonconformists. But his face and the faces of all lengthened when they found that they would not be tried by a jury at all. When the Government went back to trial by jury, the verdict in the cases of Ferguson and Innes, Tildesley and Towneley, in which the evidence was plain, and yet the prisoners were acquitted, showed how much a jury could be trusted.

‘And where,’ asked Tom, ‘is honest Tony?’

‘Ah!’ said Mr. Patten, ‘hath our good Antony escaped? or was he among those taken to Liverpool?’

He looked, although Mr. Hilyard bore such testimony to his friendliness, as if he would rather hear that he was among the prisoners in the north. I could never believe of this man that he wished Mr. Hilyard well.

‘He is safe,’ I replied; ‘and I hope we shall hear of his doing a good stroke for us as soon as he can get about without fear.’

Here again I rejoiced, afterwards, that I did not let Mr. Patten know where his enemy was to be found.

‘I would he were with me,’ said Tom. ‘I miss him more than enough. Without Tony a bowl of whisky punch seems only half complete. But one would not have him taken neither; while as for singing —— I doubt if I shall ever hear another song again.’

‘Nay, sir,’ said his chaplain, ‘cheer up. The small and unimportant persons, such as myself and Mr. Hilyard, if he be caught, will certainly be hanged, drawn, and quartered. We can expect no less. But for the quality, who have friends and influence in high places, why, you may be sure to expect favour. As for us —— well, let us be thankful that we have done our duty in the world. He who dies for his country ——’

‘Pshaw!’ said Tom. ‘Thou must for ever be talking about dying. Hang it, Mr. Patten, canst thou not drink about like a Christian, and leave dying till thou art sentenced?’

‘Ah!’ he replied, with a deep sigh. ‘Mr. Hilyard is a happy man. Will he not, Miss Dorothy, who can play so many parts, fit upon himself a disguise and visit his old friends?’

‘Nay,’ I said, ‘Mr. Hilyard is safest without these walls.’

‘You did not say,’ he went on, ‘where he is now in hiding.’

I do not know whether he was already contemplating his great villainy, but I mistrusted the man, and so made no reply.

‘All the way to London,’ Tom went on, ‘we were cheered by the whisper that we should be rescued on the road. Why, where were all the loyal gentlemen we had heard so much of? A hundred gallant fellows with sword and pistol could have done it. Yet they sat still. To-day it was to be in the evening; in the evening, next day; so they cheated us. At last we were to be rescued in the very London streets; yet there was not a voice in our favour, but curses upon us all the way, as if we had not a friend in the City.’

They rose on the assurance that there were thousands to join them; they rode contentedly south, looking daily for a rescue by their friends; even in London streets they reckoned on escape. Ah! what a Fool’s Paradise was this, in which we had all lived so long! And how wise was I become after my journey among the common sort of England, and all the talk I had heard of Pope and of Pretender! Methinks, though the voice of the people be flickle and variable, they reckon foolishly who reckon without it.

Chapter xxxii.

A Noble Project.

I have now to tell of a project, daring and yet most simple, which was set on foot at this time, and unknown to any of those most concerned in it —— Lady Derwentwater went to her dying day in ignorance of it. True it is that by the act and overruling will of Providence the design was frustrated, but I firmly believe it would have succeeded save for this misfortune.

It was not hatched and invented by Mr. Hilyard, whose designs were truly ingenious, but magnificent, as becomes one who hath read the tragic pieces of Greece and Rome, and knows what a plot should be; crooked also, full of surprises, dangers, and demanding the assistance of a great number of people, as is the case always with high tragedy. A simple contrivance was not, in so great a matter, worthy of consideration. This design of which I speak was due to Jenny Lee alone, who must have all the credit, though, in her present condition, the poor creature cannot, I am sure, feel any glory in this, or in any other scheme. You shall presently hear what it was.

Mr. Hilyard, partly with a view of giving me what he called a just view of the noble art of acting, partly that he might lead me to regard Jenny with favour, and partly hoping to divert my mind from the continual contemplation of misfortune, persuaded me one evening to let him carry me to the play. A country-bred woman, who hath seen but one London theatre in her life, may without shame confess that it seemed to her like an enchanted island, and that, though the house was full of finely-dressed women and gallant gentlemen, she had no eyes for them, or for anything else, so long as the actors were on the stage. The piece performed was a very fine tragedy, namely, Dryden’s ‘Conquest of Granada,’ in which, Mr. Hilyard told me, Nelly Gwynne, the mother of the Duke of St. Albans, formerly played the part now given to Jenny. I confess, further, that I was astonished beyond measure to see this girl, only a short while since a mere slip of a lady’s-maid, with a curtsey to the ladies and a smile to the gentlemen who chucked her under the chin (as is a familiar though reprehensible custom in Northumberland), and humble to all, should be transformed into a Princess moving with majesty and heroic courage among the most frightful scenes of war and death. ’Twas truly wonderful!

‘There were many,’ said Mr. Hilyard, when we came away, ‘who could not listen to the play for looking at the lovely Incognita who was in the boxes’—— he meant me. ‘Thus will beauty prevail even over the splendour of the stage. And when the beaux flocked out and made a lane to see you pass, you looked neither to the right nor to the left, but passed through them all as cold and as heedless as Diana.’

‘Why,’ I said, ‘I was not thinking of them. How should I? My thoughts were with the unlucky Mahomet Boabdilen, the last King of Granada —— and with Jenny —— I mean ——’

‘Ah! Miss Dorothy, you will make poor Jenny happy only to let me tell her that she was able to turn your thoughts aside from the crowded house.’

I said that if so small a thing could make her happy, she was very welcome to her happiness.

‘But it is not all,’ he persisted. ‘Jenny humbly desires to pay her respects to you. To the rest of the world she is the Tragedy Queen or the Comic Muse, but to you she bids me say she is, and will always be, your faithful servant.’

‘Bring her to me, then,’ I replied, ‘in Heaven’s name!’

So he left me at my lodging and went away, I suppose to sup with the actress among her friends.

But next day, about ten in the forenoon, comes, if you please, Jenny herself, not in her own coach, because, I suppose, she did not desire to show off her newly-acquired splendour, but walking, and dressed, not richly, but plainly, though of good materials, and as a wealthy gentlewoman would desire to go abroad.

She made me a deep reverence, and hoped I was in health, and that his honour my brother was as well as the unfortunate posture of his affairs admitted. In the old times she stood while she answered my questions; but I could not think of allowing a person who could assume the splendid manners I had seen last night to stand, whatever her past history, wherefore, I bade her take a chair and be welcome, and congratulated her on her success.

‘I thank your ladyship,’ she replied; ‘I have succeeded far beyond my hopes. For at first I thought only to act in a barn, or at a fair, like the people I ran away with; it was grand to put on fine clothes and to speak fine verses; and it seemed delightful to be free and have no masters (yet now I have ten thousand). More than this I never thought to do. Yet you see me now at Drury Lane.’

‘Well, Jenny,’ I said, ‘Mr. Hilyard is never tired of singing thy praises; truly, for myself, I understand not acting; yet I saw thee last night, and, believe me, child, I marvelled greatly at thy cleverness, thy quickness, and thy courage. Enough said about Drury Lane; tell me now, Jenny, about Mr. Frank Radcliffe.’

She blushed a little —— but one cannot expect many blushes of an actress!

‘It is true,’ she said, ‘that I have always had power over Frank Radcliffe, and that of a kind which, except to those of my own people, must appear strange. Nay, I humbly confess that I deceived your ladyship at Dilston Hall when you surprised me exercising that power, because I was ashamed and afraid. Since then, however, I practise upon him in this way no more. It needs not —— Frank is in love with me, and will marry me, when he gets better of his cough.’

‘But Jenny, child, Mr. Frank Radcliffe is a gentleman.’

‘It is true, madam, and I am only an actress. But he will marry me as soon as he gets better.’

‘And then he is a Papist; and you are ——’

‘I am a gipsy, madam. But he will marry me as soon as he gets better. At present he is troubled with a hacking cough that gives him no rest night or day. But this will pass when the warm weather comes. And so, your ladyship, if you please there need be no more said on this head. For Frank will marry me, Papist or Protestant, lady or gipsy, daughter of an earl or plain actress.’

She looked so resolute and spoke with such decision, that I now perceived quite clearly my old Jenny was gone, and this girl before me was quite another kind of person. But that I had already suspected.

‘Wherefore, my lady,’ she went on confidently, though in the old humble manner of speech, ‘my respects paid and these things explained, I desire to lay before you, for your counsel, a project or design of mine own, whereby, if all goes well, we may effect my lord’s escape.’

‘Oh, Jenny! know you what your words mean?’

‘Quite well, madam. I am happy to see that your ladyship hath still something of the same interest in my lord as of old.’

‘Jenny,’ I said, ‘I know not if you are in earnest; but of this be assured. My interest in Lord Derwentwater’s welfare is as great as ever; nor could it possibly be greater. If you have any rational project for his deliverance, in Heaven’s name let me hear it! If it be a secret, be sure that I would rather die a hundred deaths than reveal the thing. Tell me, Jenny, what it is.’

Then, with many entreaties for secrecy, because the pit of Drury Lane was all for the Protestant Succession, and she would be hissed off the stage if the thing were known or even suspected to have come from her, she revealed her design.

First, she assured me, and I readily believed her, that Frank Radcliffe would do anything she told him to do, being madly in love with her; next, that the thing she wanted him to do was perfectly easy, without much danger, and such a thing as would make the ears of those that heard it to tingle; thirdly, that Frank had never ceased to lament his lot as an English gentleman who yet, for his religion’s sake, was not allowed to take any part in the affairs of the nation, and condemned to a private and inglorious life; and then, after this preamble, she opened her design to me. It was, in fact, nothing less than this.

Frank Radcliffe, as everybody knows, was so much like his brother, save that he was somewhat taller of stature and thinner, that in the dusk, and among those who knew his brother imperfectly, he might very well pass for him. Jenny, therefore, proposed that, disguised by herself with a little painting of eyebrows and face, and some artful touches about nose and mouth, Frank should go with her, under some other name, to see his brother in the Tower. There was at this time little difficulty about the admission of visitors; everybody was passed in who pleased; they might even go into the Bell Tower among the common people admitted by the wardens, and so by a small bribe, or by entreaty, or by pretence of some kind or other, obtain admission.

‘Now hearken. Once in my lord’s chamber,’ said Jenny, ‘I whip out my hare’s foot and my sponge; I quickly rub out the make-up of Frank and transfer it to my lord, giving him dark eyebrows, lips turned down, eyes longer than natural, and a mouth a little turned to one side (which disguises most wonderfully). I shorten his chin by a line of chalk; I give his nose the least touch of red; and I paint his cheek with a touch or two of colour which now it lacks. This done, they exchange perruques and coats. Frank takes my lord’s long wig and scarlet coat, and he Frank’s brown drugget and plain curled wig of black horsehair. Then we go away crying —— I can cry so as to move all hearts; but I am not certain yet what I will be, whether his nurse or his aunt, Lady Mary or even his mother. My lord will come after me, wagging his head as they do on the stage —— so —— to show sympathy and sorrow, and Frank will be left behind. Then for a moment he will show his noble face at the door just to disarm suspicion, and so back again quickly, and sit down quiet till time hath passed sufficient for us to get out of the Tower and away —— whither, we must settle when we have effected our escape.’

This was truly a notable project. Did Frank know of it?

‘That,’ said Jenny, ‘is the trouble for us. At present he knows nothing, but is low in his spirits, thinking of his brother a prisoner, and himself little better, since his cough is so bad. I fear as yet to tell him, lest it make him feverish and anxious to be up and about, whereas he ought at present to be resting and getting well.’

So for the present we said no more upon that head, except that Frank was not to be told until his cough was better.

‘As for that,’ said Jenny, ‘the physicians do not good with him, and an hour of my art is worth fifty of theirs. If I were with him always I could cure him of his cough, or of anything. Alas! Miss Dorothy, you know not what this power of mine can do for him.’

‘Jenny,’ I asked earnestly, ‘is it by possession of the devil? Tell me, for the sake of thine eternal soul.’

She laughed at this.

‘I have never seen the devil,’ she said; ‘and I know nought of him. Truly, my grandmother might tell you more; but she teaches, the poor old woman, only what her mother taught her. As for the devil, we gipsies know nothing of any devil. Yet I think that if our art were known, all the world would flock to us to be healed, instead of to physicians. If I were to tell your ladyship what things I have seen and what pains allayed —— all in a moment —— but you would never believe me ——’

‘Yet —— oh, Jenny! —— can it be right to use a magic power?’

‘Magic —— magic?’ she repeated; ‘what is magic? My people have secrets, and I know something of them. Why’—— she sprang to her feet and flung out her arms ——‘I am a gipsy, and I have been your ladyship’s servant; and I am an actress, and hundreds of fine gentlemen love me —— in the way of fine gentlemen; and one man loves me so well that he would take me away and make me his wife, being such as I am. What can I do for that gentleman? Oh, Miss Dorothy! if my art were indeed as you think it, of the devil, I would still practise it daily, if thus I could restore my Frank to health.’

Chapter xxxiii.

In the Town.

By this time all the friends of the prisoners had hurried up to the town. Lady Derwentwater, poor creature, with her two children, was staying with the Duchess of Cleveland; the Dowager Countess, with her third husband, Mr. Rooke, was come to save her son, if that was possible: already the Court, and everybody about the Court, the Ministers, and all who were thought to have any influence with them, were besieged with petitions and entreaties for pardon. What bribes were offered and taken, I know not; but a good many who were no worse than those executed got free pardons. Lady Cowper told me afterwards that her husband was offered £60,000 to procure the pardon of Lord Derwenwater. They tried to bribe the wrong man; the hands of those far lower in rank should have been touched with gold. But you shall see. It made my heart bleed, sad as I was on my own account, to hear Lady Cowper’s tales of the poor women who came to her daily, because she was of the North Country, to beg her influence, and fell at her feet and wept. She was so tender and compassionate a woman, that I am sure she used her influence as she could, and perhaps got off many more besides her cousins, Mr. Clavering and his son.

The Countess placed her whole hope in her husband’s powerful friends and connections. The Dukes of Richmond and St. Albans, his cousins, were on the other side; would they allow their kinsman’s head to fall without an effort? Alas! her hope proved a broken reed; these noble lords begged for a pardon, but they begged in vain, and I doubt whether they begged in the only way which was able to touch the King’s heart, namely, by threats. Lord Derwentwater was their kinsman, true; but unfortunately he was not their friend. Among the Peers he had no friends. Why, Lord Nairn got off because he had an old schoolfellow among the Ministers; but there was no one who had known Lord Derwentwater as a boy. Truly, to be a Roman Catholic in this realm of England is to be placed at a great disadvantage. One would not, surely, wish it otherwise; but for my lord’s sake it must needs be lamented. There were seven lords in the Tower; in the end five got off. Why did they execute the other two? Were they more criminal than the rest? Alas! no; but they were more friendless, and one of them was near by blood to the Prince.

I sought the Countess as soon as I learned where she was. She seemed, at first, full of hope —— even of confidence. The King would not dare to displeasure so many great lords who would implore his pardon for her husband; his own seat was not so secure as to warrant the throwing away of powerful friends; his cause would be best served by clemency. She repeated these arguments so often, and with so many interjections, pauses, catching of her babes to her breast, that I could very well perceive the secret terror in her heart. Her cheeks were wan; her eyes were hollow; she was consumed by her anxiety as by a fever. She owned to me presently that at night she could not sleep, but passed the hours on her knees, offering herself, her children, her all to the Virgin, in return for the life —— only the life —— of her husband.

‘Alas!’ she cried, ‘Heaven is not deaf; the Lord is very merciful. I have by letters asked the Augustine Sisters in Paris to pray for me; day and night there is a taper burning before the Virgin in their chapel; the good Sisters pray for me without ceasing. Or when I am not praying I importune some great man or some great lady to do something for my lord. They tell me the law must have its course; there must be a trial —— I care not what they say or do at the trial, if he be pardoned after it; I must expect —— yes, I look —— to hear that he is sentenced to execution —— but that matters nothing if they mean to let him go. Why, if he be but suffered to live, I promise that not he only, but his son after him, shall sit quiet at home even if the Prince with his forces be marching through England from victory to victory.’

Then she went on, now assuring herself of his safety, and now confessing her fears, and it was dreadful sorrow and pain only to hear her. She saw her husband almost daily, and in his presence, I am told, she controlled herself and was calm, as both the brave souls were, for fear of making each other more unhappy. Sometimes I asked myself whether she ever repented of throwing down her fan on the day of the meeting. I think she did not, because I, who was as vehement as herself, have not and never shall repent of my earnestness. For if the cause was just, and the time was ripe, why should we delay the blow? Let the blame lie on those wicked and mischievous men who persuaded us that the time was really ripe for action and the hour come, not on those who believed and were deceived to their own destruction.

In the midst of his own trouble my lord found time to think of me. One day about the New Year the Countess gave me a letter from him.

‘My dear Cousin Dorothy,’ it said,

‘I hear that you are in London about Tom’s unhappy business. It would comfort me greatly if I could see you, and I doubt not, if you can come here, they will admit you to see me. God send us all a happy deliverance! Though for myself I dare not hope, yet as for Tom, whose only fault was his easy temper, by which designing persons led him (and us) to confusion, I hope and believe that he will escape. Comfort my dear wife, and keep up your own heart.

‘Your loving Cousin and Friend,

‘Derwentwater.’

‘Go to see him, Dorothy,’ said the Countess; ‘if only because he hath always loved you well and taken pleasure in your conversation. Besides, he desires to send some message to your brother about I know not what.’

I rejoice now, though then it seemed a terrible thing to do, that I had courage to visit my lord in that gloomy place, the Tower, the very name of which fills the heart with terror. I have him always in my mind with that proud bearing and steadfast eye with which he encountered the insults of the mob. It is well also to think of him as he was when he sat in his prison, endeavouring to be resigned to his untimely fate, yet not without hope; cheerful, as becomes a Christian; and brave, as becomes a gentleman.

I rode to the Tower through the City in a hackney-coach, having my landlady, Purdy’s wife, with me for guide or protector. The day was so cold and the streets so frozen, that our coachman went but slowly, and the good woman with me had time to point out all the places along which we passed. First, St. Sepulchre’s Church; then Newgate Prison (which I already knew so well); then through the gate with the effigy of Dick Whittington and his cat upon it; the narrow and evil-smelling Newgate Street, its bulkheads covered with meat, the gutters running blood, and greasy butchers carrying carcases upon their shoulders; and after Newgate Street St. Paul’s Cathedral (truly a great and wonderful building), and then crowded streets without number (but among them the tall Monument); and presently a wide, open space, with, on the right hand, a broad river and a forest of masts, and before me a great white castle, which is none other than the Tower of London, where so many unfortunate lords have been confined.

When our coachman drew up before a kind of wicket, I observed first that the gate was guarded by a dozen or twenty men, in scarlet jerkins, and caps of some old fashion; these are the buffetiers. Beyond them, in a courtyard, was a troop of foot-soldiers, some on guard, some standing about in the door, some within the guard-room, sitting beside a great fire. Outside the gate there was a little crowd of men and women, some of them belonging to the better sort. As I stood and looked at them, one stepped forward and flourished his hat.

‘We hope,’ he said, ‘that your ladyship is on the right side —— that is to say, the side for which the lords within are prisoners.’

Thus bold with their opinions were the Jacobites of London. Alas! had they been as bold with their swords!

And the rest of the crowd murmured approval, and the women cried, ‘God help the poor prisoners!’ and the men said, ‘Lord bless the lady’s pretty face, whoever she is.’

‘My friends,’ I said, ‘I am going to see my cousin, Lord Derwentwater; and I am the sister of General Forster, now in Newgate.’

Then they all bowed, and made way for me with great respect.

When I came out, they were waiting for me; and after I got into my coach, they walked beside me in a kind of procession as far as Tower Street, where they cheered me loudly and left me.

Two of the prisoners, namely, Lords Derwentwater and Nithsdale, were confined in what they call the Bell Tower. It is close to the entrance, and is the only part of the great gloomy building which I saw. They were placed in two chambers on the second story which lead out of a large room called the Council Chamber, the same in which Guy Fawkes was tortured and examined. When I was conducted to this room I found it filled not only with guards and wardens on duty, but also with people, chiefly women, who had been suffered to come here by these men, or paid for admission, in order to look upon those who visited the prisoners. This, because they gazed so earnestly upon me, and asked each other aloud who I might be, I thought at the time was cruel and unfeeling; but now one blesses the happy chance, because it was the presence of such a crowd which enabled Lady Nithsdale to get off her husband. However, they kept me waiting for a few moments, and then admitted me to his lordship.

It was a small chamber, but decently furnished. My lord, who was writing at the table, rose to welcome me with his ready smile.

‘Why, Cousin Dorothy,’ he said, ‘it is kind to brave the mob on so cold a day as this in order to visit a poor prisoner. Oh! as to my health, that matters nothing now, and my comfort very little. As I have made my bed, so must I lie upon it. Nay, Dorothy, do not cry. If a man stakes his all upon a hopeless chance, he must look to lose. Perhaps, before I die, I may bring myself to forgive those whose lies and treacheries brought us to this pass. Were it not, indeed, for my wife and hapless babies ——’

He turned his head and was silent.

‘My lord,’ I said, trying to bring him hope, ‘you do yourself an injustice. You are not yet even tried; you have many friends —— more than you know of. Great ladies and gentlemen, men of exalted rank there are, who will leave no stone unturned for you.’

‘If all England were my friend, Dorothy, it would avail me nothing so long as I have one enemy —— and he the King.’

And to this he returned again presently, declaring always that the King himself was resolved upon his destruction. And that he knew for certain that the King regarded the Prince and all his personal friends with peculiar hatred and malice.

‘Besides,’ he said, ‘if any are to be sentenced, shall the leaders escape and the followers suffer? Would that be justice?’

‘Since the power of this new King,’ I said, ‘is now proved by the failure of the Rebellion, which has established him on a firmer footing and therefore done him all the good possible, why can he not pardon all?’

‘Because history is not made up of pardons, but of sentences and executions. However, in this place,’ he said, ‘we have, at least, time for meditation; and if I were to write a narrative of the Rebellion I should call it “The History of a Hundred Fools and Half-a-dozen Knaves.” The knaves, I trust, will at least receive the same punishment as the fools. As for us, I know not which should be considered the greatest fool of any, but I think it must be myself, unless it were Tom Forster.’

He then told me that he had strong reason to believe there would be found among the prisoners one or two to give King’s evidence in order to save themselves. This was what Lady Cowper hinted.

‘I trust,’ he said, ‘that among my own friends there is not one who would play so base a part; and I think, nay, I am sure, that there is plenty of evidence to hang most of us without such assistance. Go to Tom, however, and tell him so much from me, that he and his friends may be warned against traitors in the camp.’

He put aside this matter, and began first calmly and reasonably to consider the mistakes which had been made in their short campaign; especially their neglect in not enlisting as many as offered; in not providing ammunition and provisions; and in entering England so ill prepared. And next he told me he was already thinking of his defence, and that he was careful not to say aught that might implicate my brother any deeper in the business.

‘I am told,’ he added, ‘that an attempt will be made to prove my cousin, Tom Forster, the author of the whole design —— whereas he was but an instrument —— and as the man who drew us all in. Therefore I shall maintain the clean contrary. I rose for my lawful Sovereign, first, because it was my duty when the time came; next, because I was assured, being myself ignorant of the feeling of the people, that every gentleman in the country would rise with us. Tell Tom this also, from me, cousin. And tell him, moreover, that though many blame him for the Preston surrender, I do not. The case was hopeless; more would have been killed trying to cut their way through than will now, probably, be beheaded or hanged. Yet I still wish we had run the chance. So let us think kindly of each other; if both die, let us meet in heaven as brothers; and if I only, let him remember me with sorrow and kindness.’

‘And if neither, my lord?’

‘Why, then ——’ he laughed, gently. ‘But ’tis impossible, the King being such as he is. Yet if neither, then, Dorothy, I promise to oblige Tom by sitting with him as far as t’other bottle.’

Then he was silent awhile, gazing before him as one who sees in fancy a pageant of the past.

‘Dorothy,’ he said, softly, ‘you remember the time, five years ago, when I used to ride across the moor to Blanchland to walk and talk with the sweetest girl in Northumberland.’

‘Oh! my lord, you must not say that any more; you must not even think such a thing. But as for me, can I ever forget that season?’

‘Why, I am married since then, and have a wife whom I dearly love, and she hath made me the happiest of men; yet withal, by your leave, Dorothy, fair cousin, I do still remember that time, and the sweet looks and gentle smiles of her who refused me for conscience’ sake. I say it in all honesty, my cousin.’

‘My lord, you can say nothing but in honesty.’

‘It was from your lips, cousin, that I learned what in St. Germain’s I could not learn, what should be the conduct of a true English gentleman, and what his duty to those who depend upon him. Why, I was not half an Englishman. How ignorant I was in those days no one but yourself has ever known. It was your kind heart that taught me to desire the love of the people. In France we regard them not, and care neither for their affection nor their hatred. It comforts me, now, to think that, thanks to your noble teaching, my people will grieve for me when I am dead. Well, it is over; you and I will never walk and talk together any more; yet we have been happy. And now I am tied up in the slaughter-house, waiting for the man with the knife. And Charles, poor lad! is in Newgate. And Frank —— where is Frank?’

‘Frank is in London, but he is grievously sick with a cough which leaves him not day or night, so that he cannot quit his chamber. And much I fear that he will never go abroad again.’

I did not tell him —— because why should he be vexed? —— that Frank was also held in bondage by his strange and vehement passion.

‘Poor Frank!’ he sighed. ‘This it is to inherit the unlucky blood of the Stuarts. The Radcliffes did very well until —— poor Frank! Charles told me something of an actress —— but I forget what. Tell him if you see him, Dorothy, that I can give him my prayers for the short time left me in life, but nothing more. Two of us in grievous jeopardy of the scaffold, and one like to die of a cough. ’Tis an excellent and a hopeful beginning of the New Year!’

It was growing dark, and time for me to go. So in the twilight of that too dismal New Year’s Day, and in that gloomy place, we stood to say farewell, face to face. He held both my hands in his.

‘Farewell, sweet cousin —— dear sister, whom I have always loved. If we meet no more, farewell.’

He kissed me on the forehead and lips, and so I left him, and —— alas! alas! —— I looked upon his noble face no more.

Chapter xxxiv.

Mr. Hilyard’s Freedom.

A day or two after this Mr. Hilyard appeared no longer in the disguise of a physician, but dressed as a sober and grave citizen; that is to say, in no disguise at all, having bartered his physician’s wig for a full wig such as that worn by the better sort, and his black clothes for a plum-coloured coat and waistcoat of the same.

‘What is this new disguise?’ I asked.

‘No disguise at all,’ he replied. ‘I am now a free man, and need not hide my head at all. There is no warrant out for me; and if there were, I am assured of my pardon.’

I asked him how this was.

‘Miss Dorothy,’ he replied, smiling, ‘the son of a vintner need not be too proud to take favours from a gipsy, or even an actress.’

‘Is this, then, Jenny Lee’s doing?’

‘I will tell you in a few words. Know, then, that Jenny loves to entertain her friends, after the theatre, to supper at her own lodging, and has been so good as to invite me to make one whenever I please. Many gentlemen —— wits, Templars, poets, and the like, go there, and some are men of rank. Jenny cares not who they are, so long as they amuse her and make her laugh, which is all she loves.’

I had already, as I have said, seen Jenny on the stage (at Mr. Hilyard’s urgent entreaty, but from no desire of my own), and a very moving spectacle, I confess, it was. Her part was so full of noble sentiments that I began to understand Mr. Hilyard’s admiration for acting. Why, if all actresses and actors are thus full of virtuous and lofty discourse there can be no question that theirs is truly a great and wonderful profession, and worthy of all honour. But now Mr. Hilyard told me that laughter was all she cared for. Yet she seemed in her part possessed of the finest and most exquisite sensibility. How, after this, can Mr. Hilyard persist that acting is an art which hath in it something of the divine? To care for nothing but laughing!

‘Among her friends,’ Mr. Hilyard went on, ‘who come to sup with her after the play is a certain great Whig lord —— yes, a very great and powerful lord indeed —— and yet his name need not be mentioned between us, because, perhaps, he is one of those humble Christians who love not their good deeds to be made public; or, perhaps, because all the world need not know that he goeth to sup with Jenny Lee. Well, last night, after supper, there was singing and laughing. Among the others, I performed for the amusement of the company some of those small arts of mine by which I have often, of old, beguiled the evening for his honour and his friends.’

‘I know them well, Mr. Hilyard.’

‘Yes —— I sang and played my best. But who can call anything acting when Jenny Lee is present? Yet they laughed and were amused; my lord was so good as to distinguish me particularly, and presently I heard him whisper Jenny, and ask what was my name and condition. “Indeed, my lord,” said she, in her pretty, roguish way, “I shall not tell your lordship unless you promise to grant me the next favour I ask.” “The least favour from your hands, fair Jenny,” he replied, “even to answer so simple a question, is richly repaid by the greatest from mine.” But I think he did not guess what she was about to ask him. “My lord,” she said, whispering, “he is a most harmless, affectionate creature; he hath come up to London from the north; it is dangerous for him to venture abroad for the present, because he was with the rebels. Nay; but he went only because his patron went, as in duty bound, and for no Popish reasons. No one is in search of him; no one wants to arrest him; but if he be by any accident discovered and clapped in ward, then will his neck be twisted and his song spoiled. Wherefore, my lord, make this poor man safe, and give him assurance of safety, and you shall have ——” “What, fair Jenny?” “My gratitude, my lord. Can you ask for more? He is my earliest friend. He first taught me how to act; he who helps Mr. Hilyard, helps me.”

‘Well, he hesitated; told her she was a witch, and a baggage, and a saucy rogue, and kissed her hands. Then he lugged out his tablets, wrote down my name, and beckoned to me. “Sir,” he said, “you owe to this lady your safety. I will take care that you are not molested; go where you please —— go even into Newgate if you will.” You may be sure I hastened to thank him with my best leg, and to assure his lordship that I was his most humble servant to command, and that for the future, after praying for his lordship, I should cry, “God save King George!”’

The first day he came away from the prison, Mr. Hilyard was pensive and melancholy.

‘Truly,’ he said, ‘it grieves me to the soul to see these poor fellows, once so merry and gallant, now mewed up together in that gloomy place, where, ruffle and hector and swear as they may, every man feels as if the gallows was already in sight. The aspect of Mr. Edward Swinburne pleases me not, for he hangs his head and will hardly speak, but sitteth as much alone as may be. The minds of generous men are easily moved to shame for public disgrace; yet the part which this young gentleman took in the Rebellion was not so conspicuous that his shame should enter into his soul. He is not, like Cleopatra, reserved for the chief place in the triumph; nor like Antony, who aimed at the empire of the inhabitable world and lost it. Yet he is as one fallen into melancholy with the shame of the defeat. Some, like Mr. Stokoe, bite their nails and walk gloomily to and fro; some, like poor Mr. Paul, caught by so cursed a mischance, weep and wring their hands; some swear that a man can die but once, and what odds then? Some drink to forget their anxiety; one or two alone, like Mr. Charles Radcliffe and Colonel Oxbrough, preserve an intrepid spirit, and show a resolute countenance to whatever happens.

‘Most of all,’ he went on, ‘I pity Mr. Patten; who, now that he finds himself fairly in for his trial, and no one likely to hale him out of prison, is falling into a dejection which may work harm to his honour, with whom he sits too much.’

In fact, although Mr. Patten continually plied poor Tom with flatteries (more from habit than from any hope of further patronage), and assured him (contrary to the fact) that he was covered with military glory for his conduct in the campaign, his conversation was so full of gibbets, drawing, and quartering, with so many reflections on the pain and misery of quitting the world while in the very prime and heyday of manhood and happiness, that Tom grew daily more melancholy and less disposed for resignation. Every day, also, Mr. Patten found occasion to compare the happy lot of Mr. Hilyard and his freedom with their captivity.

‘Some,’ he said, ‘are born to this kind of fortune, that they may get over the wall with impunity, while others are hanged for no more than peeping over it. Others, again, keep in the background secret friends for their own use, and so procure enlargement —— I would I knew of such! Some even go so far, I have heard, as to procure their own pardon at the price of giving evidence against their friends —— a most monstrous treachery, indeed! Yet, Mr. Hilyard, I think it right to let you know that this is whispered against you in the Press Yard, and some there are who speak of braining the man who would thus ——’ ‘Zounds, sir!’ cried Mr. Hilyard; ‘dare you —— or any —— insinuate that I go at large in order that they may suffer?’

‘Not I, sir —— not I, certainly. I tell them that the General could not repose his confidence in you so fully unless he had first proved your loyalty. Oh! not I, indeed, sir —— believe me!’

But the mere suspicion of the thing made Mr. Hilyard so angry that he had no peace until he had conferred with Charles Radcliffe, and been assured by him that not one of the gentlemen, his old friends, believed him capable of so base an action.

I suppose it was about this time that Mr. Patten began to groan with repentance, and to accuse himself of being a great sinner.

‘I fear, sir,’ he told Tom, ‘that my sin, which now weighs heavily upon my soul, may lead me to show my remorse and repentance in a way which some of my friends may not approve. Yet I am convinced that your honour, knowing the tenderness of my conscience, will approve what I shall do.’

‘Why, Mr. Patten,’ Mr. Hilyard said, answering for Tom, who only stared, so strange was it to hear Mr. Patten talk in this way, ‘as for your sins, it is not for anyone to contradict you since you assert the fact, and doubtless you are, like the rest of us, a miserable sinner; nor are we your father confessors to ask for further particulars; while as for what you are going to do, repentance for sin can never be disapproved by his honour, who is a Christian man.’

‘Repentance with atonement, brother sinner,’ said Mr. Patten, groaning. ‘Repentance must ever be followed by atonement. Oh that you could feel like me!’

However, they presently had a bowl of punch, and made merry. Mr. Patten, in spite of his sins, drinking about with the rest.

The next day he came not to Tom’s chamber, and they knew not what kept him. But on the morrow the strange news was carried abroad that Mr. Patten had received enlargement, and was now in custody of a messenger. But still they knew not, and suspected not, why.

Two or three days after this (the impeachment of the lords taking place in the meantime) Mr. Hilyard came to me in such a wrath and passion of rage as I had never witnessed in him before.

‘Oh!’ he cried, flinging his arms about, and jumping round the room; ‘oh! was there ever since history began so great, so unexampled a villain? Did the world ever know so deep a hypocrite? Is there anywhere a record of so canting, sneaking a creature?’

‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘Who is the villain?’

For a while I could not get him to tell me anything, so angry he was, and so much occupied in searching for hard words to throw at this new enemy.

‘What has he done?’ he said at last. ‘He has turned King’s evidence. To save his own fat neck, which might have been tightened, and no one a penny the worse, he has turned King’s evidence. For his own worthless carcase he will put all these brave fellows’ heads into the noose ——’

‘But who is it —— who?’

‘Who should it be but Creeping Bob —— the Reverend Robert Patten, Artium Magister! He it is; and Quartermaster Calderwood with him. Mr. Stokoe also pretended that he was ready to give evidence too, and got enlargement under custody; but it was a flam, and he hath escaped. Now, indeed, there is consternation in the prison, and every man among them feels already a catching of the breath, as if he were troubled with a tightness of the neck. This was the meaning of the sin which lay upon the hypocrite’s soul, and demanded repentance and atonement. I make no doubt but he will hasten to inform against me. Ah! double villain! But I dread him not. And to say that he hoped to preserve the good opinion of his honour, against whom he will give evidence! Would that he would venture, but for five minutes only, his ugly face in the Press Yard! No ox ever was carried from the shambles more done to death than he would be. As for his honour, I have never known him more cast down and sunk in his spirits since first he was locked up.’

Thus, then, was explained the warning of Lady Cowper, though I have never known how long the preliminaries had been entered upon by this reverend hypocrite.

‘Why, while he talked with us and drank his honour’s punch,’ Mr. Hilyard went on, ‘he was already determined to betray us, and revolving in his mind how best to do it. Repentance! Remorse! Atonement! These are sacred words; but I shall never again be able to use them, for fear of awakening the spirit of revenge against Mr. Patten; and so while in lamenting one sin (and that, perhaps, a venial one) I may be committing another, and that a deadly sin. Never before did I so long, yea, so ardently desire to compass the death of any man, though, I own with surprise, my soul took fierce delight in letting fly among General Willes’s Dragoons. But that was in battle, where one may lawfully kill and slay; while this would be stark murder. And who so eager for the rising? Who so active to enlist recruits? Who so keen to preach the plain duty of loyal men, and the manifold justice of Divine Right? Who so clear to see the finger of the Lord pointing out the way? Who so strong for the return of the Prince? If there was a man among us all who should take the consequences, it is —— Creeping Bob; if anyone who should go to his death with resignation, it is —— Creeping Bob. Oh, villain! villain!’

This was after the impeachment of the lords, in which my brother was named as a confederate, and it made us very desirous to push on our plans, seeing that now there was no hope of insufficient evidence, and every man was doomed, unless the King should pardon him. I heard from Lady Cowper that the trial of the confederates would be taken immediately after the case of the lords was disposed of, which would be, she thought, in a few weeks. Her husband was Lord High Steward of the Commission. Mr. Hilyard’s plan was this: he would bribe Mr. Pitts, the Governor, with a large sum for allowing a door to remain open. Then he would have to bribe certain warders and turnkeys to keep out of the way; next to choose a favourable time; and, lastly, to devise a means of crossing the water. He had already, it seems, sounded Mr. Pitts cautiously on the subject, and, judging from the virtuous abhorrence which the Governor expressed as regards those who betray their trust for money, and the indignation with which he put the thing from him, yet returned to its discussion, Mr. Hilyard thought there would be no difficulty with him other than the arrangement of the price. To be sure, the Governor was reaping a golden harvest at this time, and was not disposed to be moderate in his demands. I thought my own plan better, and likely to be cheaper and as effective; therefore I resolved on first trying my friendly warder.

With this view I enjoined Mr. Hilyard not to pursue the business farther, for the moment, with Mr. Pitts, but to apply himself to finding some safe and trustworthy means of getting a man to France. I never knew, nor did I even ask, by what secret means Mr. Hilyard had information, as well in London as in the country; but presently he told me that he knew of such a captain as we wanted. (He was not our Wapping friend.) He was one who had run many across, and though he asked a large sum for his work, he was reported honest and trustworthy. Mr. Hilyard bargained with him that he should be in readiness against the time we should want him. But this, owing to various hindrances, and especially the jealous and hostile temper of London, was deferred until the trial of the lords should be finished, the dreadful thirst for blood somewhat appeased, and the pulpits and journals be preaching counsels of moderation. In other words, we might have got Tom away within a month of his arrival at Newgate; but, when every strange rider along the road was being arrested on suspicion, and every harmless passenger in the street liable to be haled before the nearest justice, we judged it better to wait.

I knew now that during this time the friends of all the prisoners were not only moving in every direction for interest in high places with which to get a pardon, but were also already devising means and ways, and secretly trying gaolers, guards, and wardens, to see if they were open to corruption, and preparing money for the time when an escape might be conveniently attempted. For the present that time was not yet come. In the end, beside Lord Nithsdale, whose wife got him out, and Lord Wintoun, who sawed his way out, and Tom, whom I got out, by the help of Heaven, there were a great many who escaped, as well as those who were reprieved or pardoned, and those who were tried and acquitted. Thus Charles Radcliffe escaped in a very bold and daring manner; Captain Charles Wogan, one of the Irish messengers, but a brave fellow, made a safe escape; the Brigadier MacIntosh, Mr. Hunter of Callalee, and Mr. Budden, the London upholsterer, escaped, with a good many others. ’Twas said that the Government rejoiced at hearing of their breaking gaol, because it saved them from the odium of many executions, and the seeming cruelty of many pardons. In the end, although many were executed in Lancashire, there were only four who suffered in London, besides the two unhappy lords —— namely, the unfortunate Mr. John Hall of Otterbourne, the Reverend William Paul, Colonel Oxbrough, and Captain Gascoigne. As regards the two last, I have no pity for them, because it was on their statements that our people took up arms, and firmly believing that if they led, thousands would follow. If any suffered, they should suffer; if the blood of the poor fellows who lost their lives at Preston and Sheriffmuir was on the head of any, it was on theirs. Yet why should Mr. Hall (except that he was ever unlucky after the murder of my uncle Ferdinando) be hanged, and Mr. Clavering, of Callalee, go free? Why should poor Mr. Paul, who took no part in the fighting, be executed, and others receive a pardon? I blame not the King for pardoning any, but I blame them because they pardoned some, and executed others who were no more guilty.

Chapter xxxv.

Jenny’s Scheme.

This project of Jenny’s contrivance was so simple, and seemed so easy, that it completely took possession of my mind, and for a time I could think scarce of anything else. For to liberate my lord would be so great and wonderful a thing. Why, these people who act can assume, and make others assume, any appearance they please; had I not seen Mr. Hilyard under a dozen disguises? It would be nothing for Jenny to make up first Frank, and then the Earl, into another person altogether.

‘Nay,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘but you forget that when I have deceived you, it is first through your imagination the cheat is wrought, so that I made you think of a physician first, before I assumed the bearing and guise of one; and of the blacksmith, John Purdy, before I became that man. And so with the stage. Before Jenny steps across the boards —— majesty in her face, sovereignty in her eyes, authority in her carriage —— you have been prepared to expect a Queen; and, lo! she stands before you. But without this preparation and talk disguise is not so easy, and Jenny’s scheme will want, methinks, the help of twilight. Then, indeed, it might be safely tried. Mr. Frank’s resemblance to his brother being so great that he might, by candle-light even, pass very well for the Earl. But he gets daily worse instead of better.’

We began then to consider the strange nature of Jenny’s power over him, so that what she should command, that he would straightway do; and, whereas at Dilston it was in a trance that he did these things, now it was with all his wits awake, and of his own free will —— a mere slave to the will of a woman.

‘In this respect,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘he only follows many illustrious examples of antiquity —— Solomon among others.’

‘Did she give him a love-potion? or did she by some other magic and witch-like art steal his affections?’

‘Nay, Miss Dorothy,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘you understand not the strength of love nor the power of Jenny’s beauty.’ She had bright black eyes, red lips, and a rosy cheek, with black curls and a tall, good figure; and, in a word, the girl was well enough, and might have pleased some honest fellow of her own rank and birth. ‘She is,’ continued Mr. Hilyard, ‘a most beautiful and bewitching creature; witty and roguish. You must not suppose because a gentlewoman seldom or never loves a man below her own degree (yet Venus, the great goddess, loved Adonis, the shepherd boy), that therefore a gentleman cannot love a woman of inferior birth. Why, Boaz, a great prince, as one may suppose, loved Ruth, who seemed to him a simple leasing-maid, and King Cophetua loved a beggar-maid. There are other examples too many to enumerate. As for Jenny’s witcheries, I believe not in them any more than consists in her bright eyes and smiles.’

‘But, oh! Mr. Hilyard,’ I exclaimed, ‘remember what she did at Dilston and what I saw, although she deceived me, lying without shame.’

‘Truly,’ he said, ‘I forget not. It is strange to think upon. There was once, as is related, a learned scholar of Oxford who fell into a kind of melancholy, and conceived a disgust at the company of his fellows. Wherefore he presently left his college and his companions, and, going away into the fields, fell in with a band of gipsies, and continued with them all his life, asking for nothing more than they could give him —— namely, to dwell in the open air, to sleep in tents, to endure the extremes of weather, to live hard, and to have no discourse on books, religion, philosophy, or any of the subjects with which he had formerly been conversant. But to one seeking him in this strange retirement, he said that the gipsy race was possessed of many and marvellous secrets, some of which had been imparted to himself, and that, without any agreement or covenant with the devil, they could so cheat the eyes and brains of men and women as to make them do what they wished, see things invisible, hear voices afar off, and believe what they were told to believe. So Frank Radcliffe, being asleep, seemed awake, and knew not afterwards what he had said or done. Yet no devilry.’

Who can understand these things?

‘Why,’ I asked, ‘seeing that you are so great a scholar, cannot you cure Frank of this madness?’

He shook his head.

‘Because when all the medicines for the cure of love have been applied, there still remains the lover. Why, to love as Frank is in love is to be strong, to be a man, on whom the remedium amoris is but a sham. Any weak man may think himself in love with a girl of his own degree; but this kind of love, as when one hath loved a mermaid, or sea-dragon, and another a fairy, and another a black woman, is not to be cured, and means great strength of will and passion unconquerable. From ordinary passions a strong man like myself keeps himself free; especially when, Miss Dorothy,’ he looked at me with a soft suffusion of his eyes, ‘when a man is prevented from loving other women, because he is always in presence of one so godlike, that the rapt senses cannot endure to think upon a creature of lower nature.’

‘But,’ I said, leaving the subject of love’s madness, ‘Jenny’s project is so easy, that it seems ridiculous to hope that it hath not been guarded against.’

‘The greatest things,’ he said, ‘are sometimes effected in the easiest manner. The mathematician of Syracuse fired a fleet with burning-glasses. But he did not invent the burning-glass. And I remember the egg of Columbus.’

I went to see Frank. He had a lodging near Jenny in Red Lion Street just now; the weather being so hard, he stirred not abroad at all, but sat beside the fire all day, suffering grievously from his cough.

‘Cousin Dorothy,’ he said, pleased indeed to see me (but his cheeks were thin and hollow and his shoulders rounded, so that it was sad to look upon him), ‘I heard that you were in town; I would to Heaven it were on a more pleasant errand! I cannot get abroad to see anyone, not even my brothers in the Tower and in Newgate, poor lads! nor my sister-in-law, the Countess, who hath too much to think of, so that she cannot be expected to come here. Off hood and cloak, cousin, and draw a chair near the fire, and talk to me, because I may not talk much.’

Another fit of coughing seized him and shook him to and fro, so that at the end he lay back among his pillows exhausted.

I told him what news I had to tell, and gave him such comfort as I had to give, which was not much; yet I could tell him that I had seen my lord, and how he looked, and how he had hopes from his noble friends and cousins.

‘As for me,’ he said, ‘what use am I in the world to anybody? And at such a juncture to be thus laid by the heels and unable to stir! Ah, Dorothy! it is weary work lying here whither no one comes, save Mr. Hilyard, who is very good, and keeps up my heart; and every day, never failing, the best, the kindest, the most beautiful of her sex ——’

‘You mean Jenny Lee,’ I said.

‘Whom should I mean but that incomparable creature? Dorothy, I should be the happiest of men, because the divine Jenny hath promised to marry me as soon as I am recovered of this plaguy cough. I know not yet where we shall live; she will leave the stage, which is the scene of her triumphs, but yet no fit place for a gentleman’s wife; we will go somewhere into the country, it matters not where, so that we have a garden, and are retired from mankind, and especially from those who ride up and down exhorting us to be ready for the Prince. As for religion, I am what I am; but my children shall be of the religion of their country, with which Jenny, who hath been religiously brought up, is well content.’

As for Jenny’s religion, I doubt much if she had kept any; but, to be sure, her mother had her taught the Catechism and Ten Commandments with the Lord’s Prayer.

He was going to add more, but he stopped as if arrested in the current of his thoughts, and held up his finger, crying:

‘She is coming. Hush! I hear her footstep.’

I listened, but could hear nothing except the cries of those who bawled their wares in the street below, and from Holborn the roll of carts and waggons. How could he hear her step, when it was five minutes, at least, before she came (and then in her glass-coach) and knocked at the door of the house?

It was about three o’clock of the afternoon, and she was finely dressed, because she would presently go on her way to the theatre, and beneath her furred cloak she wore hoops and a crimson satin petticoat, with a white silk frock and long train, very rich and magnificent, and a great quantity of lace, her head very finely dressed, and patches artfully bestowed. She saluted me with great politeness, and Frank (whom she kissed) with peculiar tenderness, asking what kind of night he had passed, and if he was not better.

‘Much better,’ said the poor lad, ‘and very much stronger;’ but another cough began. Thereupon Jenny took both his hands, made him look her in the face, then laid down his hands, and passed hers before his eyes, and then —— oh, strange! —— he lay back upon his pillows asleep, breathing lightly like a child.

‘Your ladyship perceives,’ she said, ‘that there is no physician like Jenny, and no medicine like the practice of the gipsies.’

‘Oh, Jenny,’ I whispered, looking curiously at the sleeping man, ‘it is wickedness; it not be anything short of sorcery. Women have been burned for less.’

‘Oh yes, I know. Poor creatures who could not even read the lines of the hand. They were burned for much less. Wherefore, we of the Romany tribe hide these gifts, and practise them only among ourselves; but not all have the power. And by this means we allay the pains of toothache and rheumatism to which we are liable; and we find out what goes on far away; and yet I know not of any devil in it at all. See now, Miss Dorothy’—— she caught my hand ——‘he is not asleep; he is quiet, with eyes closed, because I have ordered it. He will now answer any question you ask him. Shall he tell us what my lord is doing in the Tower?’

‘No —— yes! Jenny, it is wicked.’

‘Tell me, Frank, what your brother is doing in the Tower?’

Frank replied, without opening his eyes:

‘He is sitting alone by the fireside; a book is before him, but he reads it not; he is thinking of Dilston and his children. Now a tear falls from his eye; now ——’

‘Jenny, for the love of God, stop him! I dare not —— it is impious —— to pry into my lord’s secret and sacred thoughts.’

She looked at me curiously.

‘I can tell you,’ she said, ‘if he loves you still.’

‘I will hear no more. Oh, Jenny, Jenny! these are, truly, arts of the devil.’

She shook her head and laughed.

‘Fear not, Miss Dorothy; I will ask him no more questions. Let Frank rest in peace for half-an-hour, then he will be easier. If I could spend the whole day and night here, nursing him, he should soon recover. For, see you, it is the strength and violence of his cough that pulls him to pieces. If I were here I would stop each attack at the very beginning, and so he would soon get strength.’

Then I asked her about her project for the Earl’s release. She said she thought of it, because it would please Frank, when he got better, to attempt it; because it was a thing easy of accomplishment; and because it would please myself. As for his lordship, she shrugged her shoulders, and said that when her own people went stealing poultry, poisoning pigs, lifting linen from the hedge, and other things forbidden by the law, they were hanged, flogged, pilloried, branded in the cheek, or transported to the Plantations, without anyone trying to save them or crying over them. The punishment, she said, was part of the life. Those who did such things tried to escape detection; but, if they were caught, they knew what to expect. Wherefore, in the same way, those who rebelled against the King should take the consequences without all this crying over it; but she hoped his honour (meaning my brother Tom) would get safely out of Newgate; and since Frank, who was her sweetheart, and I, who was her old mistress, ardently desired it, she hoped that Lord Derwentwater would get off scot-free.

Then I asked her when she would open the business to Frank.

‘Why,’ she replied, laying her hand tenderly on his thin cheek, ‘your ladyship must first please to understand that Frank is my own man. I suffer no one to come between my man and me.’ She turned and glared upon me like a tigress. ‘It is I who must first speak with him about it, and must choose the time and everything.’

‘Surely, Jenny, it is your plan. No one will interfere with you.’

‘They wanted to tear him from me, and drag him off to the wars. Charles Radcliffe came to me and said hard words, but heard harder. Was I going to suffer him to go on such a fool’s errand? Nay, I warrant you. So Master Charles went off without him, and hath brought his pigs to a pretty market. Trust me, Miss Dorothy.’ Her voice became soft, and so did her eyes. ‘Trust me; as soon as my poor boy is better, he shall do this thing. I will leave him behind, and carry the Earl away with me. There will be no fear for him; though at first they will talk of high treason, and the rest. At present a great deal of foolishness is talked, and we at the theatre get hissed and applauded every night for some line or other which has a meaning. But they will let Frank go free.

‘Meanwhile, your ladyship,’ she said, ‘it is now four o’clock, and soon I must drive away to the theatre. Will you leave us? I must restore him first, and make him comfortable for the night, and see to his broth and medicine. Will you kindly come again to see him, and pardon the daily presence of his sweetheart —— your old servant?’

I wished her good-night and came away, but she shamed me with her courtly courtesy and the sweep of her hoops and train.

‘On the stage,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘all is exaggerated, from the setting of a chair to the dropping of a curtsey. Therefore, poor Jenny, who hath acquired her manners on the boards, saluted you as if you were the Queen and she the unfortunate heroine.’

‘And what of poor Frank, Mr. Hilyard?’

‘Truly,’ he replied, and my heart sank, thinking of my lord and of Jenny’s project, ‘I fear his days will be few and full of suffering, and his life here on earth like that in the kingdom of heaven in one respect —— namely, that there will be in it neither marrying nor giving in marriage.’

Chapter xxxvi.

The Lords’ Trial.

Meantime, Justice was pursuing her way in the slow but certain method of English law, which must be far more terrible to the wrongdoer than the swift and sudden revenges of foreign States. As for the gentlemen and the baser sort, though in the north many were already under sentence of death, those in London were as yet left in prison, waiting their turn in affected carelessness, in sullen gloom, in remorse, or indifference, according to their mood. Tom, for his part, changed in his temper from day to day; yet, since the Judas-like falling off of the villain Patten, he began to droop, and to lose even the cheerfulness which can be procured from a bottle of wine. As regards the lords in the Tower, their case was brought before the House of Commons by Mr. Lechmere, and their impeachment was sent to the bar of the House of Lords. On the 9th of January they were all brought by water to the Upper House, where the articles of impeachment were read to them. Time being granted them to prepare their pleas, they were carried back to the Tower.

It was, perhaps, some consolation to the unfortunate prisoners that along the whole of the way in returning they were escorted by a Jacobite mob, who cheered them continually. Yet, methinks, no cheering of a mob could reconcile me to the loss of my head, coupled with the feeling that it had been foolishly thrown away. The lords were allowed to stop on their return at the Fountain Tavern, in the Strand, where for the last time they took dinner and a bottle of wine together. You would have thought, said one who saw it, that, outside, all the Jacobites in England were gathered together; or, at least, that all London was Jacobite, so great was the crowd. And when the prisoners came forth, guarded by twelve warders, there was such an uproar with pushing and struggling to touch the hands —— yea, and even the skirts of their coats —— as never before was seen. Had this mob been as valiant for fighting as they were for shouting, there would have been no need for the shouting at all. But it is easier to shout than to fight. Of all the London friends of the Prince, there was but one who ventured his skin for the cause. This was good Mr. Budden, an upholsterer by trade. He, at the first news of the rising, hastened north to join the English force. One —— one only, out of all that multitude! Which proves that nothing is more contemptible than the opinion of the mob, which is all for this side to-day, and that to-morrow, and with no reason or fixed principle, or power to do anything for either side but mischief, with burning of bonfires, waylaying of honest men, and pillaging of houses. Strange it is to think that there have been States in which the baser sort were considered as much as their betters, and possessed equal rights! No doubt this fact proved the ruin of those States. When the lords had passed through their crowds of friends, and emptied their snuff-boxes among them a dozen times at least, they got back to their coaches, and so passed slowly along the streets to their prison.

They were carried on the 17th day of the month to the House of Lords to make their answers. As for that of Lord Derwentwater, he declared, first of all, that he was wholly unconcerned with any plot or conspiracy whatever, and that he joined in the rising of his friends and cousins hastily and without deliberate design. This was not believed by any, as Lady Cowper hath told me; yet was it most certainly true, as I will always maintain Plot there was, and a deep-laid, wide-spread plot covering the whole of the three kingdoms; yet was not my lord in it, as Tom always affirmed.

‘Yet,’ says Mr. Hilyard, ‘the plea was insufficient. It would have answered his purpose better if he had set forth carefully, and insisted upon them, the points which made so strongly in his favour, that had the Lords duly considered them they could not choose but recommend him for clemency. Videlicet: first, that he was by birth a close relation to the Prince, of the same faith, and by education his personal friend and companion; therefore, it was natural that he should desire his return. Next, that he was brought up abroad, and could not know the temper of the English people, so that he fell an easy prey to designing persons, and readily believed the statements of those who reported the nation as longing for the return of the Prince —— yea, and that so vehemently that they would rush with one consent to arms were an example once set —— for this, and nothing short of this, was represented to us by Captain Gascoigne and his friends. Next,’ continued Mr. Hilyard, ‘would I have counselled him to prove this plea by the fact that he drew with him, who might have enlisted a thousand men, no more than a few servants, and that, when further resistance would have led to bloodshed, he consented to a surrender. And, lastly, he should have concluded with a moving appeal for clemency in the name of youth, inexperience, ignorance, and his tender family. Had I written this appeal for him,’ said the honest man, wiping the tears which flowed down his face, ‘I would have engaged upon his side every heart of sensibility in the country, whereas now they are all asking each other in wonder what means this naked plea of unpremeditation. Alas! why —— why —— did no one ask my advice from the beginning?’

Mr. Hilyard was certainly one of those men who believe that without their own interference nothing is done well. London breeds such men in hundreds; they swarm, I am told, in every coffee-house; nay, in every mug-house they are found. They know the mistakes made by statesmen and by commanders; they are able to show, after the thing is over, what ought to have been done. But, as regards himself, I am certain that had he been consulted, there would have been, first, no rising at all; the Earl and my brother Tom would have surrendered to the warrants; if any campaign, then one differently conducted; if any surrender, then on better terms; if any trial, then with more successful issue. And from the many discourses I have held with this one scholar, I am sure that were our statesmen also scholars and persons versed in ancient history, the kingdoms of the world would be singularly preserved from external wars, civil tumults, and internal dissensions.

A few days later, the Commons demanded that judgment should be pronounced upon the rebel lords. It must be observed that there was no trial at all; they were impeached, examined, suffered to plead, and sentenced. After three weeks the Court of High Commission ordered that the prisoners should be brought before them. Lord Cowper was made Lord High Steward —— that is, President of the Court.

‘Alas! Dorothy,’ said her ladyship. ‘To think that they could find no one but my husband to sentence these unhappy lords, and two of them my own cousins! And the servants must all have new liveries!’

Though the gallant show was prepared only to sentence seven brave men to death, all London (except the poor women who wept for them) turned out to see it, including the ‘Jacks’ who had flung up their hats for the prisoners at the door of the Fountain. There was a great coach-procession to Westminster Hall, with gentlemen riding on horseback between the carriages, that of my Lord High Steward with six horses; and all the way so great a cheering for King George and the Protestant Succession, and such banging and beating of warming-pans, you would have thought the town gone mad. (All this was reported to me, because it is not to be supposed that such as I would join the ladies who sat in the windows and waved their handkerchiefs to the judges on this awful occasion.)

There was no noise or shouting, my informant told me, in Westminster Hall, the upper part of which was set with seats for the Peers, and the lower part left free to spectators, who crowded the great hall. Among the Peers sat the Prince of Wales; but he came not to judge so much as to look on, and showed in his face a singular concern as one after the other of the prisoners was brought forth.

‘As for us at the other end,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘I think there was not one who exulted, but all regarded with sorrow and compassion the destruction of so many great and noble houses. When all were in their places, the Earl of Derwentwater was summoned first. Truly it must be an awful moment to stand before the assembled Peers of the realm, and to read in their eyes nothing but condemnation; or, if pity, then condemnation as well. When my lord advanced to the bar, all rose and bowed low, as if to show that pity as well as the respect due to his rank; but he, for his part, fell upon his knees, where he remained until he was invited by the Lord High Steward to rise. Behind him walked the gentleman jailer, carrying an axe upon his shoulder, the edge thereof turned from the prisoner.

‘I declare and shall ever maintain,’ Mr. Hilyard continued, ‘that his lordship hath been struck with judicial blindness. For, when he was asked what reasons he could allege, if any, to stay his punishment, and another opportunity was offered to move the hearts of his judges, he lost it or threw it away. Had I been in his place, I might and should have lacked the dignity which naturally belongs to one of his high rank. Yet I think I should have found the eloquence and the wit to make a better plea for my life. The Lords would like —— nay, I saw their compassion in their eyes —— they would like nothing better than to save him; yet he will not help them. Why, oh! why did he not remind the House that he had been brought up, in the very Court of St. Germain’s, to believe that England was longing for the Prince to return? Why did he not show them that he could not know the temper of the country, and must needs believe what he was told?

‘Alas! he is no orator; he repeated only what he had said before, that he had no guilty knowledge of any plot —— further than this, that the friends of the Prince would gladly bring him back; that his joining the insurgents was unpremeditated; and that, in order to secure submission, he became a hostage. All that had been said before, and it availed nothing. I saw the faces of the Lords look at each other and grow hard. Why, what could they do when the prisoner did so little? So they put him back and called the other six, of whom Lord Wintoun alone obtained respite for further preparation of his defence.’

Mr. Hilyard then gave me, as well as he could recollect it, Lord Cowper’s speech on pronouncing the judgment of the Lords. This speech has been admired as a masterpiece of judicial oratory. I know not how that may be; it was pleasing, no doubt, for the Whigs to hear of the wickedness of rebellion; we are never tired of hearing those sins denounced which we never practise; but for the lords awaiting their sentence, methinks the discourse might have been more merciful if it had been shorter.

‘As for their reception of the sentence,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘no hero of antiquity could hear his condemnation pronounced with greater coolness and courage than was shown by all. Methought as Lord Derwentwater followed the jailer from the bar —— this time the edge of the axe turned towards him —— so marched the constant Regulus to his doom; with such a face, set with the courage which is neither insensibility nor braggadocio, did the great Socrates go to drink his poison. My heart burned within me to kneel and kiss his hand.’

‘When,’ I asked,‘must they suffer?’

‘I know not; they talk of a fortnight. It is thought that by this great example the Government will show their strength. If they were not strong, it is said, they would not dare to strike so determined a blow. As for the rest, the plain gentlemen, it is thought, even by the most revengeful, that they will be suffered to escape with their lives at least. But, Miss Dorothy, let us not trust to chance. Remember: the next trial, after Lord Wintoun’s case is concluded, must be his honour’s. Suffer me go talk with Mr. Pitts.’

‘Not yet, Mr. Hilyard. Give me yet a week or two.’

‘The clemency of a king,’ Mr. Hilyard went on presently, ‘is truly a great and generous thing when it is properly displayed. Towards criminals it should never be extended; but to rebels, as much as may be. For it is better to forgive and to release, thereby showing the strength which has no fear, than to strike hard and show the strength which can revenge. Methinks in this case the King might be fitly counselled to let all go pardoned, yet punished by their defeat and ignominy, and by the loss of rank and estates, provided they promise to sit down in peace for the rest of their lives. Yet, if I were to say these things in a coffee-house, I should be kicked out of one and cudgelled in another, because the mob must have revenge. The Prince’s friends themselves would rather see these men hanged with dignity than dismissed with contempt.’

Much more he added on the subject of that kind of mercy which brings the culprit into contempt, arguing that great punishments do not deter others, and that those noblemen who have seen the pomp attending an execution on Tower Hill, are not likely to be deterred from rebellion by its recollection. Nay, rather the contrary; for as in war everyone risks his life, if one must lose it, surely it is splendid to be the hero of so great a show. ‘Thus in the lower classes,’ he said, ‘who are mostly insensible to pain, the procession of the cart, with the shouts of the people, all eyes turned toward the sufferer, the cries to the driver to whip up his horse, and to him who wields the cat to let it fall lightly —— these things, I say, destroy the pain and substitute a kind of glory. Even in France, the wretch who goeth forth to have his limbs crushed upon the wheel bears his head erect and is of a bold countenance, because of the crowds who have come out to see him. Wherefore, for the better putting down of crime, let the whippings and the hangings be secret; and for the better putting down of treason, let there be no executions, but only loss of estate and contempt. When scholars become ministers and philosophers statesmen, the world shall be better ordered.’

Why did not Heaven make Mr. Hilyard the son of a noble house, since he could thus discourse so wisely?

I was told afterwards by Lady Cowper, from whom I learned at this time a great deal, that the unhappy Lord Derwentwater, being under examination by the Council, did himself much harm in his replies concerning a certain letter from the Prince. In this letter his Highness thanked him for the transmission of some moneys, said kind things concerning Colonel Thomas Radcliffe, and spoke hardly of Mr. Will Radcliffe, another of my lord’s uncles, who lived in Rome. The letter, which was intercepted I know not how, also furnished particulars concerning private persons, which enabled the Ministry to seize various papers of consequence. The prisoner seemed to the Council to trifle with them, treating the letter as an invention and a trick. Possibly he did this, out of the great kindness of his heart, in order to avoid implicating others; because no one that I know ever had the least doubt that he kept up a correspondence with the Prince, his old playfellow. I cannot understand how Lady Cowper (who took all her opinions from her husband) could speak of his answer as showing what she called ill manners and foolish cunning. Certainly a man must try to screen his friends, and the Council must have known on what terms the Prince and Lord Derwentwater had always been.

I have long considered and often debated with Mr. Hilyard the case of this trial, and the reasons why Lord Derwentwater and Lord Kenmure alone should have been executed, seeing that neither was worse than the other five, and that one of them was better (so to speak), because he might have brought into the field so many hundreds of men, and he brought none. Mr. Hilyard, who is now a confessed Whig and all for the Protestant Succession, agrees with me that King George at first intended to sacrifice the whole seven, with as many of the gentlemen as he decently could, in order to strike terror.

‘We must remember,’ he said, ‘that, until hangings began in Liverpool and Preston, not one of the people in the north, whether prisoners or at large, believed that the King would dare hang any, so great was their delusion as regards the strength of the cause. But when the King saw how many of his friends would be struck, and their affections alienated by the deaths of these great lords, he began to consider which among them had the fewest friends. These were the Lords Derwentwater and Kenmure. As regards the former, his title was of so recent date that he had few cousins among the Lords, and his education having been abroad, he had no friends at all among his Peers. Therefore, it was resolved at last (even Lord Nithsdale being reprieved on the very day of his escape) that these two alone should be done to death.’

I would say with regard to the astonishment of the North-country people at the sentences, and their stubborn belief in the cause, that the chief reason why so many held aloof, why those who came brought so few with them, and why the whole five counties of the north, Northumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Cumberland, and Westmoreland, did not all rise together, was that each man thought he should not be wanted, because his neighbours, who were sure to go, would suffice —— one had business or was ill, or newly married —— always some excuse; and when the enterprise went from good to bad, and from bad to worse, all the more reason for sitting still, for why throw good money after bad? Since I understood this, I have ceased from feeling indignation against those who ought to have come out, but who stayed at home.

Chapter xxxvii.

Frank’s Attempt.

And now, indeed, if anything was to be done, it was the time. As for my lord, he was already making his preparations for leaving the world, having little hope left of reprieve or pardon. Terrible as it is at any age, even when one is old and spent, to leave the light of the sun, the solace of friends and children, and those joys which belong alike to every time of life and to every condition, most terrible of all must it be to give up the world, which is full of every kind of joy and delight, to those who can command them, when one is young, a husband and a father, rich, beloved, and happy. Yet to this Lord Derwentwater cheerfully resigned himself.

I suppose that never in the history of this country have condemned prisoners found so many friends as these six lords. Nothing more clearly proves that England doth steadfastly refuse (whatever the Whigs may say) to confound adherence to the ancient House with high treason, a crime against which the English blood naturally shudders. Many have been executed for this crime, especially under Henry VIII. and the three Princes who came after him. But never once did any great lords exert themselves to save these criminals. Yet here were great lords and noblemen, Whigs all —— that is to say, of the offended side —— besieging the throne (occupied by a German Duke) for mercy, while even their public journals, and those red-hot pulpits which had bawled so loudly for revenge, now considered with horror the prospect of spilling this noble blood. The Princess of Wales herself, moved with womanly compassion, resolved to do her best, difficult though it was, to save one of the six, and chose Lord Carnwath for the object of her mercy. He was at this time but thirty years of age, said to be of great virtue and excellent parts, educated at Oxford. Nor was she deterred one whit from her purpose by the fact that his lordship’s mother was a most violent and indiscreet woman, who went about declaring everywhere that her son would fall in a noble cause. She, therefore, sent Sir David Hamilton to him, telling him that his only hope lay in confession. Upon this the Earl wrote a letter, in which he confessed that he had gone to Lorraine and conversed with the Prince, and urged him to make very sure of his friends in England before he went to Scotland (which was sound advice, and, if the Prince had followed it, we had all been saved). He also said that he learned, from some of the Prince’s company, that it was debated whether the King of Sweden should not be invited into Scotland, there to establish King James by force of arms. The revelation of this design, as nothing could do the Prince more harm, was, perhaps, of itself sufficient service to warrant the release of the prisoner. Alas! that a righteous cause should be ruined by foolish counsellors! It is now by French arms, now by Swedish, that the King is to be restored! As if the proud English nation will ever receive a Prince thus imposed upon them! In the end, Lord Carnwath was suffered to go free, but his honours were attainted, and he became a simple Scottish gentleman. As for the Countess of Nithsdale, the recollection of her gallant rescue of her husband always makes my blood to boil, because our own scheme, which was so safe and easy, was put out of our power by the act of Providence, as you shall learn presently. Lady Nithsdale did not, however, resort to this stratagem until she had first tried every method. She even waylaid the King on his passage to the Drawing Room from his own apartments. She held in her hands a petition, drawn up by her husband; and as he passed she threw herself at his feet, crying out in French, so that he could not pretend not to understand, that she was the unfortunate Countess of Nithsdale. He made as if he would pass without attending, but she caught at the skirt of his coat; he tried to tear it from her hand, and actually dragged her on her knees (was not this an act of Kingly clemency?) to the very door of the Drawing Room, where two of the officers seized her, one by the waist and the other by the hands, and so tore her from the King’s presence.

Lady Derwentwater fared no better, except that, with a cruelty only equalled by James II. when he saw the Duke of Monmouth after trial, the King consented to receive her. The unhappy woman, who was accompanied by the Duchesses of Cleveland and Bolton and by many other great ladies, was presented to the King by the Dukes of St. Albans and Richmond, sons of Charles II., and therefore half-uncles to Lord Derwentwater.

The Countess fell upon her knees (it was on Sunday, after Divine Service, when the heart should be naturally open to compassion, as being just absolved from sin and still repentant), and thereupon, in a kind of rapture, implored the King for mercy. Those who were present and heard her prayer have declared that never could they believe a woman able to speak so movingly, with such eloquence, such art (as it seemed, but it was only the art of great love and great misery), such passion. Those who were with her wept aloud, and even among the gentlemen there was not a dry eye or a face unmoved —— excepting only the King’s. While every heart was bleeding, he alone stood listening with hard eyes and fixed lips, and presently suffered her to be led away without a word of hope. Her husband, he was resolved, should die. He was the youngest, the noblest, and the best of all; he was no more deeply involved than the rest, but he was the friend and companion of the Prince; therefore, he must be sent to his doom. Is it not wonderful that any man, much more wonderful a Prince, should be found not only so vindictive, but so lost to honour and to shame, as thus to sport with the misery and despair of a woman, and take pleasure in seeing his victim’s wife lying humbled at his feet?

Yet, I suppose to show some pretence of clemency, on the following day —— namely, Monday, the 20th of February, four days before the execution —— two noblemen went to the Tower, and offered my lord his life if he would acknowledge the title of King George and adopt the Protestant religion. The Earl refused (could a man of honour accept these conditions?), declaring that he would sooner lose his life than give up his faith. I heard these things, day by day, from Lady Cowper, and I believe no secret was made of them, for Mr. Hilyard heard them at the coffee-houses and in Newgate, whether he went daily, and where, you may suppose, the fate of the lords was watched with alternate hope and fear; for, as those noble heads were brought nearer the block, every man felt his own neck tightened.

The next day, being Tuesday, they sent two Protestant ministers to the Earl, begging that he would only send for some learned Divine of the Church of England, as if to consult on religious doubts. But my lord had no doubts, and would not pretend to any, even if thereby he might save his life. I could have wished, so that I could feel his future lot assured, that he had become a Protestant; but to pretend religious doubts, to sell his faith for a few transitory years, this would have destroyed for ever the noble image that lived in my heart, and put in its place a poor and contemptible creature indeed.

Whilst the Countess and her great friends were vainly endeavouring the release of Lord Derwentwater, others were resolved to attempt it, and would have carried it out in much simpler fashion, but for fate, or rather Providence, which willed otherwise. Frank Radcliffe, like all persons in his sad condition, one day contemplated death with resignation, and the next looked forward with confidence to getting better in a few days. In one of the latter periods Jenny communicated to him her design, which we had hitherto hidden from him. Immediately he fell into a kind of fever in his anxiety to be the means of liberating his brother. He would go that very day —— the next day, then. There must not be a moment lost. What did it matter if he were imprisoned, if only the Earl could be saved? If he could not walk, he must be carried.

‘Cousin Dorothy,’ the poor lad whispered, ‘my life has been of very little account. What can a poor Catholic gentleman do in this country, which denies him everything? I might have been a scholar, but you will not admit me to your Universities; or a statesman, but I may not enter Parliament; or a soldier, but you will not suffer me so much as to carry the colours. Yet, am I not an Englishman? Let me do one thing, at least, before I die. Do not tell Jenny, because I think she loves me; but I believe that I am dying.’

I told him (though I knew it was untrue) that he should not die, but recover and live; yea, that he should do this brave thing. But my heart sank within me, for he was now so weak that he could not stand upon his feet or hold up his head, and his cough was so violent that it seemed to tear him asunder. He had no ease except when Jenny was with him, which could not be in the evenings. She charmed away his cough, and laid him, by that magic skill of hers, in a quiet slumber, during which, at least, he did not cough. I met the girl now without the repugnance which first I felt towards her, forgiving her deception in the matter of the sorcery at Dilston, and even forgetting that she was an actress, and seeing in her the only woman who was able to alleviate his sufferings for this poor dying lad. What matter, now, that he was in love with her, or she so ambitious as to look for him to marry her?

In these days, when each hour was of importance, Mr. Hilyard and I looked at each other with sad and despairing eyes, but dared not say what was in our hearts. Frank was dying; the hopes that he built upon his likeness to his brother were fast fading. If ever he rose again from his bed, it would be after his unhappy brother was executed and buried. Yet Jenny, for one, could not believe it.

‘He is better,’ she said every morning; ‘he is better and stronger than yesterday. Last night he slept. His physicians assure me he is easier. With one more good night’s rest he will be strong again.’

‘Oh, Jenny!’ I whispered, ‘he will never be strong again!’ But she shook her head impatiently, and would not listen.

One morning, beside his bedside, while he slept, she told me, with many tears, how the poor lovesick boy followed her, without any encouragement from herself, from place to place when she first began to play, so that it became a subject of ridicule and mirth for the company; how it was he who first gave her dresses in which to make a brave show upon the stage; how he encouraged and exhorted her to study and practise and not to lose heart, but even before an audience of bumpkins and upon the boards of a barn to do her best and to speak out as if for a London audience, how he took her from her strolling company and brought her to London and paid for her lodging, treating her with such honour as one doth not, alas! always expect or often observe in a gentleman towards an actress, or a woman of her lowly origin; how, at length, but not until her efforts were crowned with success, and she became almost at a leap a favourite of the great city and one of his Majesty’s servants at Drury Lane, he asked her to marry him.

‘Oh, Miss Dorothy!’ she said, ‘you know me, what I am. Why, my father was a gipsy; and as for me, I can conjure, tell fortunes, read the future, lie, steal, cozen, and cheat the eyes with any of them; or better, because some are foolish and clumsy. Yet he would marry me —— a gentleman would marry me! I have plenty of lovers at my choice. But for marriage —— no, indeed. It was I who kept him from going off with Mr. Charles last summer. What! Let my man go fighting on other people’s business? Not I. What do I care for Prince or Pretender, this King and that? He will marry me, as soon as he gets well; and then I will leave the stage, and we will live somewhere retired, where no one will ask if I was once Jenny Lee, the actress. For, look you, Miss Dorothy, I would not shame him.’

‘But he is a Catholic, Jenny. Would you, too, become a Catholic?’

She laughed. All the gipsy came into her face.

‘Why,’ she said, ‘for that matter I am a Protestant with you; if I go to the tents of my people, what are they, and what am I, with them? They lie in the sun; they love the open air; they whistle to the birds; like the birds, they live to-day, and to-morrow they die, and are buried in the ditch, and so forgotten. But to live is enough for them. Oh that I were out of this town and in the open country, with Frank well and strong beside me! What matter what he believes and calls his religion? As soon as he gets well it shall be mine.’ She spread her arms abroad and repeated, with a strange yearning look in her black eyes —— poor Jenny! ——‘As soon as he gets well.’

Now, all this time, Frank was lying in the sleep into which Jenny had thrown him. When she went away, at last, she made those motions with her hands which always awakened him. He was easier, it seemed, but his voice was low. She kissed him on the forehead, bade him keep quiet and sleep if he could, and left us. I was to stay with him all the evening.

‘Tell me again,’ he whispered, ‘what I am to do in order to rescue my brother James.’

Alas! It was already Saturday; the fatal day was fixed for the following Thursday; though that we knew not. But I knew very well that the day was now very near.

‘Do not speak, then, Frank, but listen.’ So I told him all over again, just as one tells a child the same story till he knows it by heart, and yet must have it told over again, that he was to be disguised with false eyebrows and paint, and so, with Jenny, gain admittance to his brother’s cell, and then —— but I have already told the scheme, which was as simple as it was clever. He felt so easy this evening, though weak, that it pleased him to imagine himself carrying out this brave project.

In the evening, when he had taken some broth, he felt, he said, his strength returning fast, and tried to sit up, but with no great success.

‘Sometimes,’ he told me, ‘I wake in the night cold and shivering, and feel as if the dews of death were already upon my forehead; sometimes I awake full of courage, and, though in the darkness, think to see my life stretching far before me, with Jenny in my arms. I am resolved what I shall do when I recover. I shall marry her without delay, and take her from the theatre (where her ambition has been sufficiently gratified), and so away to the country; or, perhaps, to France, where we will live retired, and meditate.’ Then he spoke of the joys of a country life, and how among such simple pleasures as books, a garden, and the open air, the years would peacefully slip away. ‘I want no more,’ he said. ‘Perhaps I formerly asked too much of Heaven. Who am I that I should sigh for distinction and honour? What profit would they be to me beside a calm and peaceful life with the woman I love? Let others care for these things.’

I asked him, seeing that it gave him no pain to speak, how it was that he fell in love with Jenny.

‘I know not how,’ he replied. ‘Perhaps it was because I found with her, from the very first, a strange rest; she seems to know beforehand what are my very thoughts and what I wish. Besides, she is, as everybody confesses, the most beautiful of women as well as the most sprightly, the most bewitching, and the most witty. How do I know why I love her?’

All this he said, and more, in broken discourse, as he felt able to talk. In the intervals I read to him or talked to him; nor did I leave him until it was time for him to go to bed, whither his landlady’s two strapping sons carried him first, and then guarded me, armed with stout sticks —— for the streets were full of rough and desperate men —— to my own lodging.

I knew not that I had talked with a dying man. Yet in the morning, when they took him his cup of broth, they found him lying cold and dead. His soul had passed away in sleep, and he lay, his head upon his hand, calm, peaceful, and with a smile upon his thin and wasted lips. As for his face, when we looked upon it, it was so like his brother’s, that one trembled and felt cold, knowing that before many days, as poor Frank’s face looked now, so would look that other, cold in death.

Mr. Hilyard brought me the dreadful news. Poor Frank! We wept not so much for him as for the ruin of our hopes; for now our last chance was gone. Yet one might well have wept for the shortness of a life which seemed born for happiness. The curse of the Stuarts had fallen also upon the Radcliffes; better had it been for them, a thousand times better, had they married with their own people, and remained plain country knights.

In the chamber where lay the dead man upon the bed (was it possible that the cold face, so white and still, was but last night full of hope and life, and the fixed eyes full of light?) sat Jenny Lee, her hands clasped, not crying or sobbing, but as one in a trance. I tried such words of comfort as one attempts in the hour of sorrow; but they were vain. Mr. Hilyard addressed her, ordering her to seek relief in prayer and resignation; but the shook her head. Who shall comfort a woman in the first moments of her bereavement? Frank was dead. Why, then, leave poor Jenny awhile alone with her senseless corpse. Come out and shut the door.

Frank was dead; and with him died the last of our hopes.

‘Mine,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘have been dead since I saw that he could never more leave his chamber. Had that poor lad been strong, we had made such a gallant rescue as would have made all England to ring with the story. But he is dead. Poor Jenny! It was for his sake that she took care of her reputation and is blameless. Now he is gone —— why —— poor Jenny!’

Presently she came forth, still with dry eyes.

‘He was a Catholic,’ she said. ‘Let us remember that when he is buried. Will you look to his funeral, Mr. Hilyard? His religion did not, you see, prevent him from dying so young any more than if he had been a gipsy lying in a ditch. No matter; I am henceforth of his religion.’

We made no reply. She looked about the room, and gathered together two or three books.

‘These,’ she said, ‘I will take, because they are mine, with my own name in them; and if any of his friends care to see where and how he died, it will be well not to let them feel ashamed because he loved an actress. Oh, Miss Dorothy!’ she burst into tears and fell to kissing my hands; ‘it is for you I am crying, not for myself; for Frank is dead, and there is no one now to rescue my lord, who will surely die.’

It was Sunday morning; at that very moment the Countess was pouring out her passionate prayer for mercy, and the King was listening with stony eyes and hardened heart. There was now no room for help or hope; but he must die.

Chapter xxxviii.

My Lord’s Last Days.

Let me return to the last days of Lord Derwentwater, who, perhaps (but of this I am not sure), never heard of his brother’s death.

The chief clergyman, or priest, of the Roman Catholic Church in London was then the Reverend Bonaventura Gifford, commonly called in their ecclesiastical manner the Vicar Apostolic. Immediately after sentence had been pronounced, this learned Father applied for permission to administer spiritual consolation and the offices of the Church to this man about to die. For some reason which I know not, this permission was refused, and Dr. Gifford denied admission to the prisoner. The Government, however, consented that a certain Father Pippard, a simple priest, should attend him during the fortnight between sentence and execution.

I have seen and have copied out with my own hand a letter in which this pious man set down all that he remembered concerning my lord’s last days upon the earth. From the beginning, though not without hope (even the meanest and vilest criminal never, I suppose, abandons hope till the cart moves from under his feet, much more this innocent victim), he resigned himself to the steady and fearless contemplation of death, and gave himself over altogether to those religious exercises that were ordered by his spiritual advisers, together with the reading of such books as were most proper for a man so soon about to be summoned before his Judge. Thus, each morning he read, as directed, a chapter or two of the New Testament, and especially those of our Lord’s Passion, with some portion of the ‘Following of Christ,’ ‘The Confessions of Saint Austin,’ and other good books chosen for him by his adviser. Methinks nothing in the world can so smooth a death-bed and console a dying man as the memory of having written a good book for the consolation of sorrowful and stricken souls and the strengthening of faith for those about to die. (Poor Frank had no such interval of meditation and prayer.) Chiefly my lord read with wonderful satisfaction, the good priest said, the edifying history of a certain Italian youth, who for some crime —— I know not of what nature, or perhaps unjustly, like Lord Derwentwater —— was condemned to death, but fell into so beautiful a repentance, and so heartily prayed, meditated, and fasted, that he made of the death which he could not avoid a voluntary sacrifice of himself, his life, and affections, before the throne of God, thereby imitating the blessed example of Him who, though it was ordained by His Heavenly Father that He should drink the chalice, yet did it voluntarily and of His own free will and consent. This example my lord proposed to follow.

Further, when they came —— not once, but several times —— to offer him his life if he would change his religion, which was a most wicked and a most diabolical temptation to lay before so young and so fortunate a man, with all earth’s pleasures before him, he refused without the least hesitation or doubt. ‘And this,’ said Father Pippard’s letter, ‘he told me with the greatest transport of joy, that having refused his life on such terms, he hoped it was not now making a virtue of necessity; that, had he a thousand lives, he would sooner part with them than renounce his faith; and, with tears of joy in his eyes, he humbly thanked God for giving him this opportunity of testifying his love for Him.’ Not once, but twice, they troubled him with this offer, which was as insulting to the honour of the Earl as it was disgraceful to the humanity of those who proposed this temptation. Whoever they were, they entreated him earnestly, even on the day before his execution, that he would make some sign, as it were, of doubt concerning the Articles of the Roman Catholic Faith, if only to borrow a book of Protestant controversy. But he steadfastly refused to beg his life on these terms. I have sometimes thought that possibly it was the Archbishop of Canterbury who was thus anxious to find an excuse for begging a reprieve. Everybody knows well that there were some, even among the Ministers and in the Privy Council, who would gladly have seen him pardoned, if only a show of reason could be arrived at with which to move the King. But without such excuse there was no possibility of further interference, and so the law must take its course.

One more chance remained, and it was the last. The Countess had appealed in person to the King, but without avail; she would now appeal to the Houses of Parliament. On Tuesday this noble and courageous woman, accompanied by a large number of ladies, her friends, went to the House of Lords with a petition, which was presented by the Duke of Richmond. The petition was supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and, which was thought a most remarkable thing, by the Earl of Nottingham, one of the Ministers. In the end, the House moved that an address be presented to the King, that he should reprieve such of the condemned lords as should deserve his mercy. A motion to the same effect was made in the House of Commons, but was rejected by a majority of seven, some of the speakers against it being very violent.

The interference of the lords did no good, except to anger and harden the King so far as Lord Derwentwater’s case was concerned; but on Wednesday, Lord Widdrington and Lord Carnwath were reprieved. Lord Nairn had already been reprieved through the instance of Lord Stanhope, who declared that he would resign his office if his old school-fellow at Eton was not pardoned. On Thursday, though he knew it not, and escaped on that same day, Lord Nithsdale was also reprieved. It is therefore clear that from the beginning it was resolved to make an example in the person of the youngest and the least guilty (supposing there is any guilt in taking up arms for your lawful Sovereign).

On Thursday, when three out of the seven lords were already reprieved, the Countess made another effort to see the King. She was, as before, accompanied by her friends. But the King this time obstinately refused to see her, and gave her to understand that her husband’s execution would take place the next morning.

Then at last she ceased her exertions, and went to the Tower for her last most sad and sorrowful parting with her husband, the thing dreaded by him far more than the executioner’s axe, insomuch that he had begged her, through Lord Widdrington, to take her last farewell a week before, in order that his last moments might be wholly given up to God. But this was too hard for her to bear, and he was overruled. Father Pippard wrote in that letter of his, ‘No man could have a greater regard and tenderness for his wife than he had for you, and I think there could not be a greater argument of it than this, that when he seemed to be raised above the sentiments of the world in everything else, he had not quite got the better of himself in regard to your ladyship, though even here he appeared wonderful to me. For the last morning your ladyship parted from him I was surprised to find him so composed; and, congratulating his lordship upon the victory he had gained over his affections, he answered that you had been, both of you, upon your knees begging that favour of God, for nigh a quarter of an hour before you took leave of each other.’

Nothing more sorrowful can be thought of than the picture of that unhappy pair kneeling side by side to pray that they might so gain the victory over their affections as to part with each other with resignation. It cannot be a part of religion —— I cannot bring myself to think that it is —— for a man thus on the point of death to tear his wife out of his heart, or for her to let him go out of hers. Rather should they thank Heaven for the earthly love they have enjoyed together, and pray that it may be continued and glorified in the heavenly world, so that they may together experience the joys of that blessed abode, and be the more happy in knowing of each other’s bliss. But perhaps Catholics think differently, and although they have made marriage into a sacrament (without Scriptural warrant), they have ever been harsh as regards their opinion of women.

Every year, once, on the day of my lord’s execution, I read this letter of Father Pippard with tears, and I make no doubt that his widow did the same; for she never smiled after her husband’s death, but slowly wasted away, and some years later died, being then not yet thirty, poor soul! (It was in Louvain that she died, and lies buried in the English convent there, having been a most pious woman, and strict in the practice of all the duties enjoined by her Church.)

During that last fortnight the Earl talked continually, while the Countess was with him (this she told me herself), of his early days and the few events of his short life, just as old men soon about to die love to think of the days when they were young and strong. He spoke of his education at St. Germain’s, of his return to his native country and the greetings of his friends and cousins, of the summer he spent chiefly in my society, speaking of me, even at such a time, in words of kindness which I can never forget, and recall with a kind of pride that so great and noble a heart should deceive himself into imagining that I possessed those great qualities which he ascribed to me. It is only a good heart which thinks others good. He even sent me a last gift in token of his regard and affection for me, and in memory of our former friendship. ‘Give Dorothy for me,’ he said, ‘with my love and prayer for her welfare —— something —— whatever thou wilt. But let it be something which I have given to thee, sweetheart, since we married. This she will value most.’

Surely never was there a more loyal and generous man. He wished me to feel that he had never forgotten me; but, withal, I must learn that he loved me with an affection pure and free from earthly passion, as he desired my affection to be towards him; and this he would show by giving me something which he had given to his wife; this I need not be ashamed as a virtuous woman to receive, nor he as a Christian man to offer; nor she, as one who wholly possessed his heart, to give.

In this spirit I accepted the ring of topaz and amethyst which the Countess drew from her finger and put upon mine, kissing me with abundance of tears, and saying:

‘Did you ever hear the like, Dorothy, that one woman should give to another a gift from her husband and yet not be jealous! Yet dear Dorothy, I have known all along how much he continued to love you and esteem you, and that without the least suspicion or touch of jealousy, so true he was, and open in all that he did and said, and so sure was I that I owned all his heart.’

She did indeed, and I could now think of it without bitterness, though there was once a time when I wondered how men could so change their heart as to be all for one woman in the spring, so to speak, and all for another in the summer. For sure and certain my lord had no eyes for any other woman, save in the way of honest and friendly affection, after he was married; and to him she was a good and loyal wife, though (because she was human) not wholly free from certain small imperfections which sometimes caused rubs, due to quickness of temper and the like, of which we know.

But oh! to think that in this, his last mortal agony, being at the very threshold of death, in the anteroom of the Great Judgment Hall, a soul trembling in the presence of his Maker, engaged in earnest repentance, and anxiously seeking assurance of forgiveness, he should have thought of me! I have desired in my will that this ring, with one other thing, be buried with me in my coffin.

I asked the Countess how he looked on this his last day. She told me that for want of the fresh air and riding exercises, to which he was accustomed, he was pale of cheek; but that, owing to the fasting diet which he thought becoming to one in his position, he was grown thin, and his eyes were brighter than of ordinary. For the rest, he was grave, and smiled no longer (could one ever forget the sweet smile that always played upon his lips and the kind light that lay in his eyes?). He shed few tears (save that at parting with his wife he gave one sob), because he was so brave and resolute by nature, and because, by special grace of Heaven, he was enabled to look upon the separation as for a brief space only. But he wept bitterly when he parted from his infant children, praying Heaven to protect his boy —— then two years old, and like an angel for beauty —— and his infant daughter. (The boy is since dead, being killed by an accident at nineteen years; but the girl, Lady Anna, is not long since married to a Catholic Peer, the Lord Petre, whose uncle married her aunt, my lord’s sister. May she be blessed with a long life and many children!)

On Thursday morning my lord received a letter from the Vicar Apostolic, which afforded him great consolation, although, to hear some men talk and to read some things written, there is nothing in all that religion but hypocrisy and deceits. As if we are not all men and women —— that is to say, mortal and doomed to die, and after death the next world; wherefore, though I doubt not the exceeding wickedness and cruelty of many Popes, Inquisitors, and Cardinals, needs must that they, as well as we ourselves, sometimes contemplate soberly and with prayer the condition of their souls, and especially at the awful time when death is appointed and now nigh at hand. The Vicar’s letter, therefore, which I have seen —— and a most beautiful and truly religious letter it is —— gave my lord great support, and even happiness. On that day he confessed, communicated, and heard Mass, together with Lord Widdrington; for several days before his death he steadfastly fasted, and refused to take any wine, although he suffered from a grievous cough. As for fasting, that is no doubt a help to most of us in spiritual things, as it leaves the brain free from the gross humours generated by strong meat, and in a manner clears away from the eyes the mists which obscure our sight and sense of heavenly things.

‘But,’ said Father Pippard, in that memorandum of his, ‘he wanted none of these helps, for he was visibly helped with an extraordinary grace, which appeared in his countenance and in all his behaviour, to the admiration of all that beheld him.’

In the evening before his execution he sat up writing letters of farewell to his wife, his mother, his brother Charles, and others. In the first, which the poor soul showed to me, he said that Lord Nithsdale had escaped. Alas! the news of that escape fell upon our hearts (I mean on mine especially) as a reproach. For we should have used something of the same way with Lord Derwentwater had it not been ordered otherwise. As regards his brother Charles, it is sad to relate that Lord Townshend, Secretary of State, forbade his taking leave of his brother, so great was the rancour with which these young men were regarded. (It is very well known how Charles afterwards escaped from Newgate while under sentence of death. A few years later he married the Countess of Newburgh in her own right, and hath children, so that the noble line of Radcliffe will be continued, with another title and rank equal to that which has been lost.)

As for what passed in the Tower on the morning of the execution, it was related in the conclusion of Father Pippard’s letter. He said that he went early to the Tower, not expecting to be admitted, but, contrary to his expectation, being permitted to pass into the Earl’s room, he found Lord Widdrington with him, and both on their knees at prayers; but with this difference, that Lord Widdrington could not read his for the weeping and tears which choked his voice, while Lord Derwentwater was reading his aloud, and with a sedate and audible voice. Whereupon Father Pippard at first, and hastily, concluded that the latter had been reprieved and the former sentenced. But it was the contrary: for Lord Widdrington had come to tell his brother prisoner that he himself had received a reprieve (the news was not brought to him until eight o’clock that morning), and he was weeping to see the constancy, resignation, and Christian grace displayed by his brother-in-arms who was to suffer what he himself escaped.

Presently word was brought that the coaches were come for the two who were to be executed. Wherefore Father Pippard begged Lord Widdrington to say anything he had to say as quickly as he could. But all he had to say was, with many tears, that if he were to live a thousand years he should never forget the courage and resignation which he that day witnessed. So he went away, and Lord Derwentwater betook himself to confession and prayers; which done, he walked down to the coach, even the keepers, buffetiers, and guards —— yea, and the common soldiers, being dissolved in tears, and he alone preserving a calm and composed countenance.

My lord was dressed becomingly in black velvet, wearing a beaver that with a black plume, black hose, and black leather shoes with silver buckles. Round his neck was hanging a gold crucifix, and in his hand he carried a book of devotion. Before reaching the scaffold he was joined by the Vicar Apostolic. Then, I suppose for form’s sake, he was again offered his life if he would renounce his faith and his loyalty; but he put the offer by gravely, saying that it would be too dear a purchase.

When they came to the City Bars the sheriffs informed him that they had prepared a room for him near the scaffold, in case he desired to retire for a time. He thanked them, and accepted their offer, spending half an hour with the priests in prayer. Lord Kenmure, who was accompanied by his eldest son, joined him in this dismal chamber.

Then came the last scene —— the shedding of that noble blood and the flight of that sweet soul to heaven. Even if the Romish doctrine of Purgatory were true, of which we have no Scriptural warrant (though the thought must be consoling to many a poor mother whose son has been cut off in open sin), I cannot but believe that the sacrifice of a life thus laid down as a voluntary offering, according to the teaching of the priests, and with many heartfelt prayers, must have been received, and that Lord Derwentwater’s soul is now at peace and in happiness among the blessed.

Mr. Hilyard was among those who stood on Tower Hill to see the sad sight. I believe that the people of London take a peculiar pleasure in witnessing spectacles the thought of which fills one’s heart with horror, so that whether it be a wretch in a pillory, or a hussy being whipped before an alderman, or a rogue flogged at a cart-tail, or a hanging at Tyburn, or a beheading on Tower Hill, they cannot choose but sally forth and stand in thousands —— yea, and for hours together, so eager are they to behold the deportment and carriage of the sufferer, comparing him with others, his predecessors, applauding or reproving, according to his courage or his cowardice. Mr. Hilyard, whatever else he might be, was always a Londoner. Something of the same temper, I suppose, was possessed by the Athenians, who were always running after some new thing.

‘There was never,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘so great a crowd of people gathered together on Tower Hill; men there were of every condition, with fine ladies in the windows; and though many thought that the punishment was just, there were none (of those who stood around me) but thought it excessive. For why, all men asked, were Lord Derwentwater and Lord Kenmure condemned, and the rest reprieved? What had these two done worse than those who were with them? Why was not Lord Widdrington, who was older, and should have been wiser, with them? Such questions passed from one to the other, not in whispers, but loudly, so that I think the character of the King will hardly gain, whatever may be the effect of these punishments in the north. Truly, as is said by Solomon, “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.”

‘The crowd began at daybreak, even before; nay, there were persons who came on the night before, and made fires on Tower Hill to warm them by, for the night was very cold. There was some idle talk about a rescue, and of destroying the scaffold; but that passed away, and, indeed, the Jacobites in these days have to keep snug. Yet they were on Tower Hill by hundreds, and were cursing the Hanoverian in whispers, and shedding tears for the two lords long before the time for the execution.

‘I first saw my lord when he came forth from the chamber which the sheriffs caused to be made for him. Sir John Fryer went before him. After him came two Popish priests and a great company, though who they were I know not. When he mounted the steps and stood upon the black scaffold before all the people, his face was pale, but his eye was steady. To my thinking he looked upon the great multitude much as, in the persecution of Diocletian, a Christian martyr may have looked upon the gaping crowds assembled to see him die, and to wonder why he could not save his life by a pinch of incense. Then a silence fell upon all, save for the sobs of some and the muttered prayers of others, so that you would have thought yourself in some great church ——’

A church, indeed! For such an occasion the Tower Hill was nothing but the temple of the living God, and the scaffold was an altar of sacrifice, and my lord a true martyr and confessor of his faith and loyalty.

‘He spoke a few words to Sir John Fryer, and then, kneeling down before us all, prayed for a good while. But none of the crowd spake or moved, and I saw the tears running down all cheeks. This done, he rose and spoke earnestly for a minute or two with one of the sheriffs, and taking a paper from his pocket, unfolded it, and read in a steady, loud voice, so that all might hear his last dying speech and confession. Confession, I call it, because he confessed and declared manfully that he owned allegiance to none but the Prince, his lawful King; and if it seemed otherwise by his plea of guilty, he begged that he might be understood as not intending to acknowledge King George as his lawful Sovereign. Why, it seems to me, so noble and so manful was his speech, that were there in this realm but half-a-dozen like into him, so noble and so generous, the Protestant Succession would be ruined.

‘This done, he repeated a penitential Psalm, and uttered audibly (many of the people saying “Amen!” after him, as if they were in church) certain ejaculations. After this he knelt in prayer once more, and this time many of the company on the scaffold —— even the executioner himself —— knelt and prayed with him, weeping. He then rose and removed his wig and coat, which the keeper should have had, but the executioner claimed as his own; and there was an unseemly dispute, during which my lord stood quiet, only whispering a few words to one of the priests. This settled, he examined the block, and pointed out very calmly a rough place which might hurt his neck. That roughness the executioner made smooth with his axe.

‘After this, he said in a loud voice, so that all should hear: “I forgive all that are concerned in my execution, and I forgive all the world.”

‘According to custom, the executioner asked his forgiveness. Then, all being done, he knelt and laid his head upon the block. I suppose that he gave certain instructions to the headsman. One of the priests bent over him and gave him, as I understood the gesture, the last absolution as to one in articulo mortis. Then he said in a loud voice: “Dear Jesus, be merciful to me. Dear Jesus, be merciful to me. Dear Jesus ——” Then fell the axe, and at a single blow the head was severed from the body.’

Here Mr. Hilyard stopped in his narrative, and we wept together.

What have any, of all those who knew and loved that gallant youth, done since but weep and cry at the mere thought of his noble death, and the cruel loss to all? Yet weeping will not bring him back. Oh! if every tear shed that day had been a drop of molten lead, there was one woman who would have rejoiced to pour all upon the head of the hard and revengeful George, then called King of this realm! George hath now gone to his account, and I hope that this woman was Christian enough before he died to pray that this heavy sin might be forgiven him.

The Earl’s servant, Francis Wilson, received the head in a red velvet cloth, and carried it away with him, no one molesting him. The body, no coffin or hearse having been provided, was laid in a hackney-coach, and so taken to the Tower, where it lay for three days, when it was taken away by night to a surgeon, who enbalmed it and laid it in a coffin with the head. The coffin was carried first to Dagenham Park, near Romford, where the widowed Countess was residing for a time, and thence, travelling by night, it was taken to Dilston, and buried in his own chapel. His heart was placed in a casket and sent to Angers, where it was given to a convent of English nuns.

As for the Prince, for whose sake this and so many other lives were laid down, he had already fled from Scotland and landed at Gravelines two days before Lord Derwentwater’s death, and I know not what were his emotions on hearing of his early friend’s tragic end. But the Queen-mother was deeply affected. I saw the Countess once more before I left London; she was then staying at a house in the country, not far from London, called Kensington Gravel Pits. She was composed and resigned, but the old vivacity was gone, and her once bright eyes were dull. She confessed that it was her duty to live for the children, but: for whom she would have prayed for death. Sad it was to see the sweet, fair-haired boy, not yet four years old, clinging to his mother’s knee, wondering why her eyes were always full of tears. They could not take away the child’s estates, because in them the Earl had only a lifeinterest; but he had lost his title, though everyone always called him the Earl. What mattered title or estate if he had not also lost his father? We talked very movingly together for some hours, confessing to each other that we had done foolishly and ignorantly (yet we believed what we were told, and what can women do more?) in urging on men who were so full of loyalty, and yet hesitated to strike, being better acquainted than we were with the dangers and the consequences. Yet we agreed that the cause was most just and righteous, and must prosper in the end if England is to look for peace and Heaven’s blessing. But for a long time there could be no hope of success unless in the changed temper of the people.

It was on this, the last time I saw her, that she gave me the precious gift of her dead husband, with the words which he wished her to use. I have already spoken of this gift. So we parted, with kisses and more tears, and I saw the poor distracted creature no more.

Chapter xxxix.

Tom’s Escape.

All the story which I set myself to tell has now been written down, except only the manner and way of Tom’s escape from Newgate, which was as follows. We were not neglecting his affairs all the while; and Mr. Hilyard, as I have said, had found an honest sea captain. The man who was recommended to him was a certain smuggler or fisherman, named Shipman —— a good name for one in his profession —— who had a fast-sailing schooner or hoy, in which he carried on his trade. We were assured that we could thoroughly trust this man, and that, whether for carrying a cargo of Nantz, or parcel of lace, or a Jacobite gentleman, or a highwayman, or a Jesuit priest, or any other secret commodity, backwards or forwards across the water, the man had not his equal, whether for safety, secrecy, or despatch. His terms were high; but then, in such times, one must pay for honesty. Thus, we were to give him fifty guineas for landing Tom upon the coast of France; but he knew beforehand that he had to do with a prisoner of distinction, for whose capture a much larger sum than fifty guineas would be offered. Surely a man who takes fifty guineas, and keeps his word, when treachery would have given him a thousand pounds, is worth waiting for.

We waited for him, therefore, until the end of February, when Mr. Hilyard found him, opened negotiations, and presently took me to meet him at a place called Limehouse. In appearance he was quite another guess kind of fellow from the other, the Judas Iscariot captain of Wapping, having a rough and honest face, with clear eyes, which looked We soon came to terms. He declared that he could not afford to take less than fifty guineas for the trip; that times like these were brisk for honest sailors like himself, who troubled not themselves about party matters, and cared not a sour herring which was King and which Pretender; and that he must make the best of his market. He then gave us to understand that the gentleman (whose name he knew not, and said he desired not to know, nor why he wished to leave his native shores) would not be the first by a great many whom he had carried across to France, and not one caught yet. For his own part, the more the merrier, and all the better for his old woman and the children: and he should not care if the Pretender’s friends had a rising every month, nor if he was asked to carry King George himself and the Prince of Wales across to Holland out of the way. The fellow was so hearty, and laughed, and had so honest a face, that one could not choose but trust him. Therefore I agreed, and instructed Mr. Hilyard to make all other arrangements with him, as that he was not to have his money till his passenger was on board and the ship ready to drop down stream; that he was to be anchored off Leigh, in Essex, so as to avoid suspicion; and that he was, as soon as he had his schooner ready for sailing, to come to London, there to be at our service.

This done, I began to clinch the business with my friendly turnkey. Nota bene that, all through these troubles of Frank Radcliffe’s illness and my lord’s execution, either Mr. Hilyard or myself went daily to Newgate to cheer and encourage Tom, whose courage was now, what with the backsliding of his chaplain and the fate of Lord Derwentwater, as one may say, sunk down into his boots, almost beyond the power of a bottle to lift it up, nor did he derive any satisfaction save from his continual cursing of Mr. Patten. We were so careful lest he should in his cups say a word which might cause suspicion, that we told him nothing of our design.

Now, however, that we had secured our ship, it was necessary, without further delay, to open the business more fully with my friendly warden, Jonas. If he failed, but not unless, Mr. Hilyard should go to the honest Pitts, the Governor, and promise that greedy rogue all he asked. Therefore I went to the prison, where the worthy Jonas sat in the lobby or anteroom; but, instead of going straight through, I stopped, and, pulling out my handkerchief, began to cry and to wipe my eyes.

‘Alas!’ I said, ‘the trials must soon come on.Think you, good Jonas, that my brother’s case will be the first?’

‘That, your ladyship,’ he replied, jingling his keys, ‘is more than we wardens know. First or last matters little, considering what the end must be.’

‘Lady Nithsdale,’ I went on ——‘ah! happy woman! —— is said to have found a friend and helper among the guards of the Tower. But then, the Tower is not Newgate.’

‘Belike she did,’ he replied. ‘Friends can always be found, even in Newgate, by the unhappy, if they go the right way to work.’

‘Ah!’ I whispered, ‘would to Heaven that I could find such a compassionate heart in Newgate, and how richly would I reward him!’ I observed that his eyes twinkled and his fingers clutched as though already grasping the reward.

‘Why,’ he said, ‘as for that, and if it could be done without Mr. Pitts’ knowledge, and was made well worth a body’s while ——’

‘What do you call, Mr. Jonas, worth a body’s while?’

‘Why, to be plain, madam,’ he said, ‘do you think I did not know your tricks and your ways when you began with your soft looks and your guinea here and your half a guinea there, what it meant? Let us come to business without further shilly-shally. What is it you want me to do, and for how much?’

‘As for what I want you to do,’ I replied, ‘it is simple and easy, and I will tell you presently; as for the reward, you shall have something in hand —— say ten guineas; but until General Forster is safe across the water. not a penny more.’

‘I cannot send him across the water. But still —— how much will your ladyship offer?’

‘Why —— shall I say fifty guineas?’

He laughed in my face.

‘Fifty guineas! Why, he was the General of the Forces and he is a Member of Parliament! Fifty guineas for the Man under the Rose? Sure, madam, you seem to understand very little what your brother is worth in such a market as this. Fifty guineas? Well, if that is all, there is an end.’

I informed him that General Forster was not like Lord Nithsdale, a man of a great estate, but, on the other hand, that his estates had been all sold up, so that he had nothing at all but what he would get at the death of his father. But he stiffly refused to do business, as he called it, on such shabby terms, and I was forced to raise my price. He was truly a most exorbitant creature, and refused to do anything until I gave him fifty guineas down, and an offer in writing to give him four hundred and fifty guineas more on my brother’s escape being assured. The fellow had some education, it seems, and could read and write. I think he had been a kind of lawyer’s clerk, who had been put into this place in return for some services. ‘If,’ he said, ‘you make me the offer, I can put it into Mr. Pitts’ hands should you play me false. Go away then, madam, and write it down, and bring the fifty pounds before we have any more dealings or talk.’

‘But if,’ I said, ‘you play me false, and, after taking the fifty pounds, do not go on with the business?’

‘Five hundred guineas,’ he replied, ‘though little enough reward for the escape of the General and the risk I run, is a mighty great sum for me. Your ladyship need not fear.’

I went away therefore, and presently wrote on a piece of paper words which might have brought me to prison too, if this fellow showed them. For I said that I, Dorothy Forster, sister of General Forster, then in Newgate Gaol, solemnly pledged myself to give one Jonas, warden or turnkey in the said gaol, the sum of four hundred and fifty guineas sterling as soon as the said General Forster was out of the gaol.

Next I sought my friend Purdy, the blacksmith, where I lodged, and told him that I wanted his services, but secretly, and without a word said to his wife, or his prentices, or any living soul. He swore very readily to the greatest silence on the matter. Then I asked him whether, in case I put into his hand an impression in wax of a key, he would make me its counterpart in iron. He smiled, guessing very easily what I designed, and said that such an imitation was a thing belonging to his trade, and that he would undertake to make me such a key in a very little while, and nobody to guess or suspect a word of the matter.

I lost no time at all, but went back to the prison, found the worthy Mr. Jonas, who was waiting for me, and gave him the earnest-money which he asked —— namely, fifty guineas in a purse.

‘So,’ he said, ‘this is business. And what next can I do to please your ladyship?’

I told him that I wanted an impression in wax of the master-key, which for the moment was all I would ask of him. This he made for me, and gave me very readily, only imploring that, should the possession of this be discovered, or the plot be prevented by any untoward misfortune, it should never be divulged how I got the key. And again he threatened, if the money was not paid after Mr. Forster’s escape, to put my paper in the hands of a justice, by which he said, I know not how truthfully, he could ensure my being put to death with all the barbarities proper for the crime.

In this simple method, without troubling Mr. Hilyard to complete his grand plot, and without any regard to what he called the dramatic situation, I obtained that most invaluable aid to an escape, a master-key.

Now, it was hard to keep my counsel during this time, for on the one hand I had to restrain the impatience of Mr. Hilyard, who would still be urging me to let him follow up the overtures he had made to Mr. Pitts, who indeed expected it, for his own part, and, the sum of £10,000 having been mentioned between them, began to throw out hints not only to Mr. Hilyard but to myself, so that I was obliged to let him be plainly told that for the present at least nothing could be done. When I consider the number of escapes that were made from Newgate, I am amazed that the man and his wardens and assistants were not brought to justice. Perhaps, however, the Ministry were not unwilling that the prisoners should escape. Lady Cowper told me, after all was done, that she had a strange offer before they were all brought up to London —— that General Forster should be allowed to escape, if she pleased, upon the road. It came to her from Baron Bernstoft, through Mademoiselle Schutz, his niece. She told me further that at the time she was concerned chiefly about Mr. Clavering and his son, so that she did not need the offer. But this explained why at the first she spoke so much about neglecting the chances of getting off while on the road. It rejoices me to think that so many brave fellows got clean away, but surely a generous King would have given them their pardon rather than suffer them to get off by this ignominious way of bribing a jailer.

But while the greedy Mr. Pitts (who I suppose prays for such another rebellion every day) looked for no less a sum than £10,000, he knew not that his turnkey had been beforehand with him, and his most important prisoner was on the point of escaping and he never a penny the richer. It gives me the greatest satisfaction to think how this great rogue was outwitted, and of his discomfiture and rage when he found the bird was flown. I would have cheated the turnkey as well, but could not, having pledged my word.

It was not until the morning of March the 6th, ten days after my lord was butchered, that Mr. Hilyard reported to me first that our skipper was now in London, having left his vessel off the coast at Leigh; next, that he had bought four strong and capable saddlehorses, which were now standing in the stables of the Salutation Tavern, Newgate Street, and could be saddled in readiness for any time.

‘And now,’ he said, ‘for Heaven’s sake, Miss Dorothy, delay no longer. Let me see Mr. Pitts and close with him this very day.’

‘To-morrow you shall,’ I replied, ‘unless —— but first, oh! my only friend! first, I pray thee, do exactly as I bid for this day. To-morrow, if I fail, which kind Heaven forbid, you shall have your turn.’

He begged me to give him his instructions.

I told him, first, that the day was actually come, and my own preparations made; that nothing could be done until after dark, nor then until such time as the streets were clear of people; that in my judgment it would be at some time between nine in the evening and midnight that we should want the horses. Therefore that the skipper should have them saddled in readiness, and should wait in the stables from eight o’clock or so until we came for him, and for the love of the Lord not to get drunk.

Mr. Hilyard opened his eyes very wide at this, as you may believe, and looked grave, but forbore to speak, except to promise that he would most faithfully and strictly carry out my instructions, and so departed, leaving me anxious indeed, but now hopeful.

What I had was a master-key; what I wanted was the opportunity of using it without being observed. That chance must be sought after dark, and pretty late, when prisoners are all locked up and turnkeys and wardens off guard.

Then I went back to the prison, where I found Tom sitting in his chamber, but not alone. Alas! how different was the behaviour of the prisoners in Newgate from that of my lord in the Tower! There was dignity, with the virtues of repentance, faith, and charity. Here there was constant drinking, with the smoking of tobacco, and everlasting railing, quarrelling, and disputing, one prisoner with another. But I will speak no more of the Press Yard and its horrid sights.

There was a custom of visiting the prisoners, bringing them presents of wine, spirits, tobacco, meat, and so forth; and, as regards the better sort, talking with them, many gentlemen finding it a curious entertainment to pass the afternoon conversing with a man who would probably in a few weeks have his head and limbs plastered with pitch and stuck upon Temple Bar; it was interesting, no doubt, to think that the man who sat with them was also going to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. As for themselves, they were honest Jacobites all, who were yet in no mood for undergoing that penalty; they were quite ready to sing loyal songs in a tavern, applaud loyal lines in a theatre, drink loyal toasts, frequent loyal coffee-houses, and, in fact, give the Prince every support short of fighting. With Tom there were sitting three of these gentlemen, not prisoners, though for the principles they professed, and the encouragement they had always given to the fighting men of the cause, they ought all to have been under lock and key if there were any justice in the world (but of that there seems mighty little). As for Tom himself, it was pitiful to see a man so pulled down by confinement, and trouble, and want of exercise; for his ruddy cheeks were pale and flabby; his once fresh bright eye was yellow; his hands shook, and so did his lip, and his eyes were full of anxiety. He sat in the midst of his comforters as Job sat in the midst of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. And, like these three sons of Consolation, who showed their friendliness by girding at the patriarch and imputing unto him secret sins, so did these three worthy gentlemen, each with a pipe of tobacco in his mouth, and happy in the consciousness that his own neck stood in little fear of being stretched, deliver their minds at large on the mistakes made by the English forces in the campaign (which, to be sure, was an easy thing to do), and discoursed freely (which was not a kind thing to do towards a gentleman in Tom’s position) on the executions at Liverpool and Preston, the bloodthirsty temper of the Government, the miserable outlook of the unfortunate prisoners, and the cruelty and barbarity of the punishment inflicted. Lord Wintoun’s case, they said, would occupy the Earls for some weeks yet, after which, no doubt, Tom would be put upon his trial. Then they began to advise, all with contrary opinions, what kind of defence he should set up. Defence there was none, because, first of all, Tom was, more than any of the others, except Colonel Oxbrough and Captain Gascoigne, involved in the designs hatched in London (which, if they had been carried out, would have set all England in a flame); next, he had been the first to proclaim the Prince; and then he had actually been General of the English Forces. What could he plead in extenuation of these crimes?

‘Gentlemen,’ I said presently, because it seemed to me as if they were about to argue the case and conduct the whole trial to its gloomy end, which would take all the day —— ‘Gentlemen, let me say that my brother’s case will not be bettered by our talking about it beforehand. If on reflection you have any counsel which may serve us in this juncture, pray bestow it upon us, but ’tis idle to advise with a man upon trial for his life unless you have something that may help. So, if you please, gentlemen, and as my brother hath important affairs with me this day, I will ask you to leave him now and kindly come again to-morrow.’

‘Nay,’ protested Tom —— being, like most men, dull at seeing more than plain words mean ——‘nay, my affairs may wait a day, Dorothy. Wherefore, let us send for a tankard and ——’

‘By your leave, brother,’ I said, ‘I have letters from the north which may not be delayed.’

I spoke so earnestly that the three gentlemen rose, and, with many promises to come again soon and comfort the prisoner, retired.

‘Now, ‘Dorothy,’ cried Tom testily, ‘what the devil is this wonderful business? Cannot a man have a single half-hour with his friends?’

‘Friends! Yes, Tom, they are valuable and worthy friends, indeed, who egg on their companions to peril their lives and sit down themselves. I warrant you they drink the Prince’s health every day. Oh, Tom! what said my father? That he gets best out of the fray who goes in last. What said my lady? Nay, I reproach you not, Tom.You shall never say that I reproached you. But —— friends you call them? Cowardly betrayers of brave men, I call them. Colonel Oxbrough, at least, and Captain Gascoigne cast in their lot with us, even though they deceived us all. But this coffee-house loyalty! Why, they would like nothing better than to sit together of an evening, and tell how they went to see you hanged, drawn, and quartered, and how you looked the while. And, oh! the pity of it! And what a gallant fellow was there! And so another pipe.’

‘Why, Dorothy,’ said Tom —— but he shivered at mention of the word ‘hanging’——’ what ails the lass to-day? Your colour comes and goes, and why are you crying?’

‘I am crying, Tom,’ I said, because, in truth, there were tears and catchings of the breath, those outward signs of woman’s weakness and her agitation ——‘I am crying, Tom, because I think that you have done with such false friends for ever.’

‘Devil take me,’ he said, dropping into his chair, ‘if I know what she means!’

‘You shall soon know.’ With this lugged out my key. ‘This, Tom,’ I whispered, ‘is nothing less than the master-key. With this in your hand you can walk out whenever you please, that is, whenever you are not likely to be seen and followed.’

He took the key from me, and looked at it as one might look at a strange monster.

‘The master-key,’ he murmured. ‘Why, then —— I may cheat the gibbet yet.’

‘Oh! Tom,’ I seized him by the hand, ‘if ever there was an occasion for prudence, it is this. Keep sober this evening if ever you want to drink again. Your chance, very likely your only chance, is to-night.’

I then told him that I had secured him a passage by an unsuspected ship; that we had got horses ready, which should be waiting at the stables of the Salutation Tavern, a short distance from the prison, that night; that I would be either outside the prison-gates or with the horses.

‘Dorothy,’ he cried, changing countenance, ‘is this thine own doing, child?’

He took me in his arms and kissed me, shedding tears, and declaring that he was not worth the trouble that he caused the best of sisters, as he chose to call me. But I would have no time wasted in such tenderness.

‘Think, Tom,’ I said; ‘you have to make your opportunity. Will you wait until the Governor is abed and asleep?’

‘Nay,’ he said, ‘there is also his man sits within the door all night. There must be another way.’

I had not thought of the Governor’s man. Yet I ought to have known that the Governor would not be left alone in his own house. Here was another and an unforeseen difficulty.

‘It is the fellow they call Jonas,’ said Tom.

‘Jonas?’ I asked. ‘Then we shall have no trouble with him.’

So I told Tom all, and how I had got the key.

‘Come,’ he said, ‘I think I see a way, but we must tell my man, Thomas Lee. Thy brother, Dorothy, hath been truly a great fool: but he has some mother-wit left.’

So we talked very earnestly for half an hour; and when I went out I found Jonas in the lobby, and told him what he was to do if necessary. Then, all being arranged, I came away.

He who hath never contrived a plot cannot know the difficulties of carrying it through. It was to be, first of all, my own design, confided to none but Tom, and to him only at the last moment; to Mr. Hilyard, and to him only in part: yet there were besides, the captain, the turnkey, my brother’s servant Tom Lee, and the blacksmith who made the key. Any one of these was enough to spoil all. Truly, those who deal in conspiracies must go for ever in fear and trembling, every man concerned knowing that he can purchase a pardon by revealing the names of his associates.

In early March the days begin to lengthen. The sun is twelve hours in the sky. We should have six hours at least of darkness before us, supposing that it was eleven of the clock before Tom found his way out. There was nothing meantime that I could do.

Then I sat down in my lodging and endeavoured to pass the time chiefly in prayer, but who can pray except in ejaculations at such a juncture? This night would Tom be in safety, or else —— presently the gibbet, and his head on Temple Bar. Surely, I thought, there must be some doom upon the Forsters, so many misfortunes having happened to them; out of nine children not one left living, though the eldest would not now be more than fiftyfive; the great Bamborough inheritance lost and sold; the heir now lying (like to be hanged) in Newgate, and his sister hoping only to secure his life by a timely flight.

Oh! long and weary hours, when one is waiting to learn the issue! My landlady, a good soul, though a Nonconformist and a Whig, came to ask what she could do for me. I told her a falsehood; I said that I was going to my Lady Cowper, and should perhaps remain with her for the night. So she left me. Presently, because if one waits long enough, such a thing is sure to come at last, the night fell.

At seven, Mr. Hilyard came. He said the horses would be saddled and kept in readiness, the skipper being already in the place, and under promise to keep sober, while to disarm suspicion he had been himself cursing all gentlemen who sit late over their bottle, when they should be up and on their way.

At eight, because I could no longer endure the waiting and suspense, I dressed, putting on my warm hood and gloves and having in my pocket my money,videlicet, a hundred guineas, of which fifty were for the captain and fifty for Tom, to serve his needs until we could send him more. Mr. Hilyard had girded on a sword (he was mighty martial since the affair at Preston), and told me he had placed two loaded pistols in his saddle. He carried a roquelaire, and wore a short riding wig, in place of his own full-bottomed perruque, and great boots. He also carried a huge bludgeon for the admonition of Mohocks and street-scourers.

Thus equipped, we sallied forth, the time being about half-past eight, the night clear and bright. We avoided the great broad field named after Lincoln’s Inn, because of the highwaymen and thieves who abound there, but by way of Little Queen Street emerged into the broad highway called Holborn, where there are continually until a late hour passengers and carriages of all kinds. It is not a street of good repute after dark, being frequented by the lawyers and wild students of Gray’s Inn, Barnard’s Inn, Staple Inn, and Furnival’s Inn, besides on both sides having streets into which an honest man may not venture, even by day, to say nothing of the night. The road ends in a steep descent, called Snow Hill, on the south side of which is the famous Fleet Market, and on the north, as Mr. Hilyard told me, Chick Lane, Cow Lane, and other evil places where the footpad and pickpocket lurk and live between their floggings, and until they meet their allotted end at Tyburn. At the bottom of the hill you come to the prison, and the old gate standing across the street. I know not which looked more gloomy in the moonlight —— the black stone prison in which so many brave fellows lay waiting for their doom, or the dark City gate, beyond which lay the way of our safety.

Opposite the prison, where the street narrows, is a row of stalls, used by day for the sale of fish, fruit, and meat, but at night left bare; a row of bulkheads on which, I believe, in summer poor houseless wretches, of whom there are so many in this great city, pass their nights. But on this Cold winter evening they were quite deserted. The moon shone full upon the prison side of the street, leaving this in darkness.

Mr. Hilyard led me into this dark side, behind the stalls, so that we could see, without being seen, what went on in the street.

Nine o’clock struck from St. Sepulchre’s Church —— that church which rings the knell for the departing souls of those who are on their way to be hanged. The night was so cold that there were few in the streets, and at nine it is late for honest folk, though early for revellers. To me, standing hidden in the dark, the figures of those who passed were like the figures that are seen in a dream. I remember them all to this day —— the sturdy citizen in broadcloth, carrying his trusty staff; the drunken fellow, who reeled from post to post, shouting a song; the young woman in a domino and a gaudy dress; the old constable, with his lantern and his staff; the wretched starving children who crept in and out among the bulkheads looking for something to eat —— I remember every one.

Mr. Hilyard stood beside me, patient and silent. It was not till after all was finished and done that I understood the extraordinary faithfulness and loyalty of this man, who had not hesitated first to hazard his life for a cause which he loved not, or an enterprise which he knew from the beginning would be a failure, in gratitude to his patron, whose favours he had already repaid tenfold by services such as are rendered by few —— else were this world made too happy. Then, when he escaped, he did not fear to hazard his life a second time, and that daily, by going to a place more fatal to rebels than Preston itself had proved, and that in the most frightful weather, and encumbered by a helpless woman. I say that I was so selfish as to accept these things as my just due, and only what one had a right to look for, and as if all these services were to be given without a murmur, and with a cheerful heart.

The clock struck the quarters —— one, two, three, four. It was ten, and no sign yet from the door of the Governor’s house.

What happened within was as follows. When I left him, Tom called for his servant, and they took counsel together. Now, it was Tom’s hospitable practice to desire the company of any gentlemen within reach over his bottle of an evening. Therefore, his room was nearly every night filled with guests from the prison, who drank around, and fought their unlucky campaign over again. The ordinary of Newgate was generally one of them; the Governor of the prison, Mr. Pitts, another; and one or two of the prisoners who occupied, with Tom, the Governor’s room, also sat with him. This evening Mr. Pitts came, according to custom, and Sir Francis Anderton (a gentleman from Lancashire, who had the bad luck to join at Preston the day before the fight). Fortunately there were no others. Tom had arranged with his servant, Thomas Lee, that he was to be drinking downstairs with Mr. Pitts’ man, Jonas, and any others, but that he should contrive to be left the last with Jonas; and, when they were alone, he was to invent some way in which it should seem as if he had forcibly silenced the fellow. (I believe he was to knock him on the head, if necessary; but Jonas needed no such extremity of persuasion.) Then he was to run upstairs and let his master know that the coast was clear. Like master, like man. While they drank port upstairs, downstairs they drank beer. Below they drank so much, and they talked so long, that it was eleven o’clock before they separated. Then Thomas Lee was left alone with Jonas.

‘Come, lad,’ said he, ‘let’s have another pot. Go draw it.’

The fellow (this being the plan agreed upon) took the jug and went to the cellar-door, which, as soon as he reached, Lee shut upon him (as had also been agreed between them), knocking him down the cellar steps (which was not in the agreement). This done, and Jonas sprawling on the floor below, Tom Lee made the door fast with a peg above the latch.

Then he went softly up the stairs to his master’s room, and opening the door, peeped in. Sir Francis was talking at a great rate, being somewhat disguised in wine; Mr Forster was sitting opposite to him, and in a chair beside the door sat Mr. Pitts, the Governor. But his face was purple with much wine, and his eyes were heavy and stupid.

‘Sir,’ said Tom, seeing the servant at the door, ‘another glass; a bumper. Why, the night is young, and we have another bottle at least to finish.’ So he poured out a brimming one, and gave it to Mr. Pitts; and because the Governor’s hand was too unsteady to carry the glass, Tom kindly lifted it to his lips. Mr. Pitts drained it greedily; his head fell back, his eyes closed and his mouth open. Mr. Pitts was as drunk as any gentleman can desire to be.

‘I am going to escape, Sir Francis,’ said Tom calmly; ‘the way is clear. Will you join company?’

‘Not I, General,’ said Sir Francis. ‘I prefer to stay where I am until they let me go. I doubt whether running away will serve me so well as keeping still. Hand me they will not. Of that I have assurance. And I would save my estate if I could. But if I were you, I would go, and that as quickly as maybe.’

It was about half-past eleven when, to my unspeakable joy, the door opened, and I saw Tom and the servant Lee standing in the moonlight. There was not another person in the Old Bailey. I rushed across and dragged him by the arm. ‘Come, Tom! hasten!’ I cried. ‘Oh! quick —— quick!’

‘By your leave, sir,’ said Lee. ‘If we lock the door from the outside, and leave the key in the lock, they will not be able to open it from within.’ And this he did. Then we walked quickly away, my own heart beating. By good luck we met no one in Newgate Street, though if we had I suppose there would have been no notice taken of us. The stable-yard of the Salutation Tavern was full of men, who were loading and unloading waggons, late as it was; but this was better for us, because it enabled our horses to be brought out without attracting notice. Here I must not forget one thing. The night was very cold. Tom was dressed in his ordinary grey cloth coat. Mr. Hilyard took off his roquelaire and threw it over his shoulders, saying:

‘This I brought for your honour to wear,’ and so went cold himself all that night.

You may be sure we lost no time in mounting, and rode off through the quiet streets, where the echo of our horses’ feet seemed to me like the ringing of alarm-bells. There were plenty of people still in Cheapside, the London citizens caring little about late hours; they passed along the street behind the posts, but paid no heed to the party who rode so late. I suppose it is not much more than half a mile from Newgate Street to Aldgate; but to me it seemed ten miles, so slowly did the time pass; and Mr. Hilyard whispering continually:

‘Go easy, sir; seem not to be in haste; in a few minutes we shall be beyond the streets and in the open. Make no sign of haste.’

Tom rode in the middle, his roquelaire wrapped round him hiding his face; I on his right, in hood and cloak; Mr. Hilyard on his left, and, behind, our friend the skipper and the man Thomas Lee.

‘Why,’ said Tom, when at last we were in the open road, with fields on either side, and the stars above our heads were clear and bright ——‘why, I believe we may give them the slip yet —— what say you, Tony?’

‘I say, sir,’ replied Mr. Hilyard, ‘that if your honour doth not get off it will be by some vile accident. But if you do, you must thank Miss Dorothy for it, and no one else, except Lord Crewe, who gave us the money.’

This was the night of the 6th of March, and will never be forgotten, because it was the night of that dreadful appearance in the heavens, which frighted the whole of England, and none I think more than the party who were riding as quickly as they could along the road which leads from London to Leigh, through Tilbury. It appeared in the north, and was at first like a black cloud, from which there presently began to dart streaks or arrows of red, blue, or pale fire. This dreadful spectacle lasted the whole night through, but sometimes more terrible for awhile, and then growing low as a fire which spends itself. Then it would light up again with flames of all colours most frightful to see. As we rode through the villages the people were all out in the roads dressed, and crying, weeping, wringing their hands, or praying; in more than one the clergyman was exhorting the people to instant repentance and preparation for death; many I heard afterwards were frightened into fits, and children were born before their time in consequence of the universal terror, for none would believe but that they were gazing upon the flames of hell, and that the end of the world was come.

‘This cannot fail,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘to be a mark of Heaven’s displeasure, did we only know at what. For it may be that the Lord is angry at the recent rebellion, or because it failed; or at the execution of the two lords, which seems probable; or at the accession of King George —— and yet he is a Protestant; or at the flight of the Prince —— but he is a Papist. If one could certainly tell what was intended by this apparition, one might move all hearts to do the will of the Lord. But as in oracles there is doubt, and in the interpretation of the World there is disagreement, so in such matters as this appearances in the skies (which is indeed terrifying), and in comets, shooting stars, meteors, and flaming swords in the heavens, while we can have no doubt that they are intended by way of warning and admonition to us all, I think that we must each read and interpret the message for ourselves.’

‘Is it, Tony,’ asked Tom, ‘the end of the world? To be sure one would rather meet that awful event in the open, than in the Governor’s House tippling with Mr. Pitts.’

‘I think not,’ replied Mr. Hilyard, ‘that it is yet the end of the world, many prophecies remaining to be fulfilled.’ I confess I felt relief at this assurance. ‘Besides, we must remember that it is not the first time by a great many that strange appearances have been permitted in the heavens.’ He then began to while away the time, we now proceeding at a steady trot along the deserted roads, by recalling some of the well-known miraculous signs, as Constantine’s cross, the fiery dragon of Staffordshire, the double sun of Chatham, and so forth; by means of which, if he did not altogether allay our fears, he distracted our thoughts, and in this way we arrived at the coast and little village of Leigh. It is thirty-nine miles from London, but no large places on the road except Barking, and, not to speak of the villagers whom we found frightened in the streets, we met no one all the way from Bow, and drew rein somewhere about four o’clock in the morning, having ridden the distance in five hours, the roads good and hard, and the night fine (except for that dreadful phenomenon in the north). Thus far, then, had we succeeded almost beyond our hopes. At low tide the water runs out very far at Leigh, and leaves a long bank of mud; but now the tide was very high, and a fair wind from the north-west, and though the moon was long since gone down, there was plenty of light from the terrible fire in the north.

Half a dozen vessels lay off the coast, looking black against the sky. Our skipper pointed to one at whose bows there hung two lights.

‘It is the vessel,’ he said. ‘There is my ship.’

There followed great whistling and shouting of ‘Ship ahoy!’ and presently a little boat came rowing from her with one man aboard, who pulled ashore.

‘Now, sir,’ said our captain.

‘The bargain stands,’ said Mr. Hilyard, before the money was handed over.

‘Ay, ay —— the bargain is right enough if the guineas are ready.’

‘Here they are, then.’ Mr. Hilyard gave him the bag with the fifty guineas in it. He opened it, looked at the contents, and put it in his pocket without counting. ‘Good,’ he said. ‘Now, sir, if your honour is to get aboard, the sooner the better. The tide is on the ebb, and a fairer wind couldn’t be. If it holds we shall be in Calais Harbour in eight hours.’

‘Dorothy,’ said, Tom, ‘kiss me, my dear. I shall come back soon —— with the Prince. Take care of her, Tony. Why, the good days shall come back again. Many a bottle shall we crack together yet; many a song you shall sing for us. Farewell —— oh! Dorothy, think not I am ungrateful because I say little. There is not another woman in the world who would do so much for her brother, I think. Thy hand again, Tony. Take care of her, I say.’

And with that he stepped into the boat with his man, and they were gone. We stood upon the shore and watched. Presently we heard a yo-hoing —— they were hauling up the anchor; then the ship began to drift slowly into the mid channel; the sails were set, and filled out in the breeze; the vessel slipped out of our sight and was gone.

I fell upon my knees, while Mr. Hilyard, taking off his hat, solemnly thanked God. Behind us, as we offered this humble service of gratitude and praise, the awful fire in the northern sky darted its arrows of fire like lightnings to and fro. Then, without halting, we mounted again and rode back together, leaving the other three horses to stray where they listed. Our work was almost done. There remained one thing more —— to put the messengers on a false scent in case of the vessel being delayed off the Nore by a contrary wind. ‘For,’ said Mr. Hilyard, ‘this wind may drop or chop round: any such accident may happen. His honour is not safe until he is on French soil. Let us, therefore, go seek the villain at Wapping, who looks to receive the reward and then to betray us.’

At Barking I was fain to cry a halt, and must needs rest. It was then past six o’clock, and already daylight. I was in those days as strong as most young women, but a whole night in the saddle, after the weariness and anxiety of the day, was sufficient excuse for anyone to be tired.

After two or three hours’ rest I was able to ride on to Wapping. We found the fellow we were in search of, and deceived him with the expectation of taking Mr. Forster, whose name we gave him, on board the next day. So successful was this deception, and so correct was Mr. Hilyard’s estimate of the man, that on his information messengers were sent to Wapping to lie in wait for the escaped prisoner, for whose capture they offered a thousand pounds. But before a week passed we had a letter from Tom. He was safe in France, and proposed to go to Bar-le-Due, where the Prince was holding his Court.

Thus was I suffered, by the mercy of Heaven, to save my brother’s life. ‘Child,’ said Lady Cowper, ‘be assured that we all rejoice. Your brother could not be pardoned. If any were to suffer, needs must that the General be one. Lucky he is in having such a sister. I have told the Princess whose wit it was that set the bird free, and she laughed. As for yourself, rest easy, my dear. There will no harm happen to thee.’

Chapter xl.

The End.

So all was done, and Tom was saved. The fate of poor mad Jack Hall and the Reverend Mr. Paul, not to speak of Colonel Oxbrough and Captain Gascoigne, sufficiently proved what his end would have been had we failed to effect his rescue. As regards the rest of the English gentlemen condemned (I say nothing about those of Scotland), all those who were brought to London escaped the hangman. Some, among whom were Mr. Gibson of Stonecroft, and my old lover, Ned Swinburne —— poor boy! —— died in Newgate; others obtained a pardon. Among these were Perry Widdrington, Mr. Standish, and Mr. Errington, of my own friends. Others escaped, among whom especially was Charles Radcliffe. But those who were pardoned and those who escaped live in poverty, having been mostly stripped of their estates; so that the end of this most unhappy enterprise hath been to deprive the Prince of all his best friends in that part of England where formerly he was most powerful. It is true that we are still, and always shall be, loyal; but when this Prince comes again, of which I hear nothing of late, where will be the leaders? Dilston lies neglected, falling into ruin; the Countess is dead; her son is dead; Charles Radcliffe, to whom it now belongs, is in exile. Lord Widdrington is living, but he is now grown old, and his estates and rank have been taken from him. Far better had they all, as Lady Crewe counselled, sat down in peace until the nation should call the Prince to his own again. This Mr. Hilyard thinks will certainly be done if the young man, now eighteen years old in this year of grace seventeen hundred and thirty-nine, consents to become a Protestant. But a Papist King this country, he says, will never endure, nor look to preserve the Church by a Catholic Head. As well expect the Church and our Protestant liberties to be preserved if the Archbishop of Canterbury were a Cardinal, and his brother bishops Grand Inquisitors, Papal Nuncios, and Italian priests!

It remains to tell of our return journey. We came to London in disguise, but we went home openly. We came in sadness and fearful expectation, through snow and ice, beaten by the fierce blast from the north, as by the breath of the Lord’s displeasure. We went back again through the soft sunshine and the gentle rains of April, the flowers springing under our feet, the tender leaves opening, the birds singing in every bosky grove, the little lambs dancing in the meadows. My heart, which can never again be merry for thinking of that noble head laid low on Tower Hill, was, at least, full of gratitude, because Tom was safe across the seas.

After some days of riding we came to Stene, where I proposed to give Lord Crewe an account of my stewardship. The sunshine of spring had warmed the old man’s heart. He was walking, when we arrived, on his terrace, leaning on the arm of his chaplain. He laughed when he saw me, striking the ground with his stick.

‘Ho! ho! It is fair Dorothy,’ he cried;’ ‘Dorothy, who breaks prison-bars and picks the locks, and sets the prisoners free! Come, kiss me, child! I have heard, and I rejoice. Tom was a fool; but we, who have the misfortune to own fools in the family, love not that they should be hanged for their folly. Why, thou art looking ten years younger —— more like my own Dorothy, poor creature! when I married her. Stay with me awhile, child. Let thy sweet looks comfort my old heart, which is lonely. David in his age was permitted to find comfort in Abigail. Stay awhile and rest. And you, Sir Terræ Filius —— ah, villain! —— shall stay too, to tell me of all that bath chanced.’

We stayed with the good Bishop for six weeks. Every day, at dinner, Mr. Hilyard related something new concerning the Rebellion, its progress, and its downfall. Also he had much to say concerning London and the coffee-house loyalists and the mob. In the evening I played music to his lordship, or listened to his grave and learned talk. There was no need to hurry northwards, where cold cheer, indeed, awaited us. When the time came that we should go on our way, my lord held with me a long and earnest discourse. First, he asked if I wished to return to my father’s house, or would continue at the Manor House. I told him that as I had lived for many years in my grandfather’s house, there would I wish still to live, and to sit in the chancel, and think myself one of the Bamborough Forsters; and that out of no disrespect for my father, but only because of her ladyship’s affection and kindness, and because Tom loved Bamborough better than Etherston, and, lastly, because I could not live happily, being now a woman past five-and-twenty years, and no mere child to be rebuked by madam, my father’s wife.

Thereupon the Bishop sat gravely thinking for awhile, and presently said that he should give orders for the house to be maintained for me, with a sufficient yearly sum of money, as long as I lived, or remained single; and if I married, then it would be his pleasure to provide for me an honourable marriage portion, in memory and for the sake of his dear wife, who, had she lived, would have done as much, or more, for me, being, as had been abundantly proved, always most tender for her own family, and also in token of his own admiration for what he was pleased to call my courage and resolution in the conduct of Tom’s escape, concerning which lie every day spoke as if it was some wonderful thing I had done, whereas, had it not been for the use of his money, and for Mr. Hilyard’s zeal, and Purdy the blacksmith, I could have effected nothing. It pleased the Bishop, also, though he was so rich a man; that the escape had cost him so little.

Well, I thanked his lordship in words as respectful and as grateful as I could command, and told him that, as for a marriage-portion, I desired none, because it was my resolution never to marry, but to live a single life.

‘That,’ said the Bishop, ‘is easy to say, but hard to do. Nevertheless, whether thou marry or do not marry —— but upon this head see what Paul hath written clearly. Why, child, is no man to be made happy by thy beauty?’

‘Because, my lord,’ I said, ‘I was once honoured by the love of the most noble heart in all the world. I could not marry him, and he is now dead; but beside his memory all other men look small.’

To this he made no reply for awhile; but presently he said, looking upon me tenderly:

‘Nay, if the memory of a dead man be of such force —— but remember, child, he was not thy husband, nor could ever be. Think of him if thou wilt, but —— well, I doubt not of thy piety.

He then informed me that had things gone otherwise, it was his intention to settle all the Bamborough estates upon his wife for her lifetime, and after death upon Tom and his heirs, but entailed, so that he could not part with any; that now, however, it was useless to bequeath anything to an outlaw; besides, he could not forgive Tom, first, for meddling with conspirators, he being a simple country gentleman; next, for rashly taking up arms without the least provision of money, war materials, or men; thirdly, for time lame and miserable conclusion of the enterprise; and, lastly, for the anxiety and trouble all this business had caused to his wife, whereof she fell ill and died.

‘He hath made his bed,’ said the Bishop. ‘Let him lie upon it. “It is as sport,” said the wise man, yea, “as sport to a fool to do mischief; but a man of understanding hath wisdom.”

Next, he told me that he had considered the case of Mr. Hilyard.

‘He is,’ said my lord, ‘a man of singular honesty, fidelity, and affection. I have learned that he served Tom for many years for no reward, giving’ up the yearly wage promised him rather than deprive his patron of certain pleasures. I might continue him as steward of the estate; but I am old, and may expect my departure any day. Therefore, I am resolved upon ordaining him; and, if I live long enough, and he prove worthy, I will advance him to preferment. Would that all my clergy were as learned and as pious as this man of parts and wit, this Terræ Filius whom they expelled from my own college!’

Indeed, during our stay at Stene, Mr. Hilyard, by the stories which he told, the learning he displayed, and that admirable quality of his which enabled him to adapt his conversation to the taste and opinions of his company, made the Bishop think so favourably of him that the very next year, when he was advanced from deacon’s to priest’s orders, he made him a canon of Durham, which dignified position Mr. Hilyard still occupies, an ornament and pillar to the Church. He sings no more, except anthems, several of which, very stately and moving, he hath composed for the quire of the Cathedral; nor does he laugh any more, or play antic tricks, being now, indeed, fully possessed with the gravity and dignity of his sacred office; and, besides, he is now past fifty years of age.

He spends most of his time in Bamborough, so as to be near me, knowing how great a solace to me is his company. We walk together upon the sands, or we wander together, as in the old days, among the ruins of our brave old castle. We talk of the time when I was a little girl and Tom a brave and gallant youth, leaping across the rocks of Farne. The sea breaks upon those lonely rocks, and the wild-fowl scream; but Tom lies dead in the Bamborough vault. Last year I made a boatman take me across, and sat within the broken walls of St. Cuthbert’s Chapel a whole summer’s morning through, thinking of the past.

So here have I lived since May, 1716, retired, but not lonely. My father is dead, and madam, and her son Ralph, my half brother; and my brother John now reigns at Etherston. He is not yet married; and, if he hath no children, there will soon be no Forsters at Etherston any more than at Bamborough. The friends of my youth are scattered or dead; the old noisy life, with the holloas of the foxhunters and the merry laugh of the lads going out on horseback, has gone far away from this quiet place; but the castle remains, and within its crumbling walls I can walk alone and meditate, whether in the calm days when the sunshine lies upon the quiet sea, or when the waves dash along the coast, and the spray flies from the rocks into my face. In the evening Mr. Hilyard is often my companion, and we read, converse, and have sweet music together. I hear nothing more of any plots, and I ask no longer concerning the voice of the country as regards the Prince. Yet from long habit, and because he is our lawful Sovereign, I drink daily, as in duty bound, a glass of wine ‘to the health of King James.

A strange thing I learned lately through Mr. Hilyard, who came upon a camp of gipsies, and conversed with them. It was of Jenny Lee. After the death of Frank, he told me, Jenny became careless of her acting, and took no more delight in the theatre; and one day she sold all her jewels and the fine presents her friends and suitors had given her, and so went back to her own people, preferring to wander with them, and dwell in tents and under carts, rather than live any more in towns. Thus broke out the wild gipsy blood; and now she sits among the wise women, wiser herself than any, and tells fortunes, reads hands, and practises sorcery. A strange creature, truly. Can there be born men and women without souls?

But I have never seen her, nor hath Mr. Hilyard, since Frank Radcliffe’s death, and I do not think she will come to our part of the country.

Once Mr. Hilyard asked me if I remained still of the same mind as to marriage. I knew what he meant, and am deeply greateful to him for all that he hath done for me, therefore I hastened to assure him of my constant and sincere respect and affection for him; but, as regards time subject of marriage, my mind was the same, and I asked of Heaven nothing more than a continuance of his company, his prayers, and his pious counsels until the end, which will not be long, perhaps, for the Forsters do never live, any of them, like many of this country, to eighty or a hundred years. He accepted my answer, and we have spoken of the subject no more; but he continueth, as always, my most faithful and loving friend.

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