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Crotchet Castle
by Thomas Love Peacock
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MR. CHAINMAIL. Really, Captain, I find so many objects of attraction in this neighbourhood, that I would gladly postpone our purpose.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Undoubtedly this neighbourhood has many attractions; but there is something very inviting in the scheme you laid down.

MR. CHAINMAIL. No doubt there is something very tempting in the route of Giraldus de Barri. But there are better things in this vicinity even than that. To tell you the truth, Captain, I have fallen in love.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. What! while I have been away?

MR. CHAINMAIL. Even so.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. The plunge must have been very sudden, if you are already over head and ears.

MR. CHAINMAIL. As deep as Llyn-y-dreiddiad-vrawd.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. And what may that be?

MR. CHAINMAIL. A pool not far off: a resting-place of a mountain stream which is said to have no bottom. There is a tradition connected with it; and here is a ballad on it, at your service.

LLYN-Y-DREIDDIAD-VRAWD. THE POOL OF THE DIVING FRIAR.

Gwenwynwyn withdrew from the feasts of his hall: He slept very little, he prayed not at all: He pondered, and wandered, and studied alone; And sought, night and day, the philosopher's stone.

He found it at length, and he made its first proof By turning to gold all the lead of his roof: Then he bought some magnanimous heroes, all fire, Who lived but to smite and be smitten for hire.

With these on the plains like a torrent he broke; He filled the whole country with flame and with smoke; He killed all the swine, and he broached all the wine; He drove off the sheep, and the beeves, and the kine;

He took castles and towns; he cut short limbs and lives; He made orphans and widows of children and wives: This course many years he triumphantly ran, And did mischief enough to be called a great man.

When, at last, he had gained all for which he held striven, He bethought him of buying a passport to heaven; Good and great as he was, yet he did not well know, How soon, or which way, his great spirit might go.

He sought the grey friars, who beside a wild stream, Refected their frames on a primitive scheme; The gravest and wisest Gwenwynwyn found out, All lonely and ghostly, and angling for trout.

Below the white dash of a mighty cascade, Where a pool of the stream a deep resting-place made, And rock-rooted oaks stretched their branches on high, The friar stood musing, and throwing his fly.

To him said Gwenwynwyn, "Hold, father, here's store, For the good of the church, and the good of the poor;" Then he gave him the stone; but, ere more he could speak, Wrath came on the friar, so holy and meek.

He had stretched forth his hand to receive the red gold, And he thought himself mocked by Gwenwynwyn the Bold; And in scorn of the gift, and in rage at the giver, He jerked it immediately into the river.

Gwenwynwyn, aghast, not a syllable spake; The philosopher's stone made a duck and a drake; Two systems of circles a moment were seen, And the stream smoothed them off, as they never had been.

Gwenwynwyn regained, and uplifted his voice, "Oh friar, grey friar, full rash was thy choice; The stone, the good stone, which away thou hast thrown, Was the stone of all stones, the philosopher's stone."

The friar looked pale, when his error he knew; The friar looked red, and the friar looked blue; And heels over head, from the point of a rock, He plunged, without stopping to pull off his frock.

He dived very deep, but he dived all in vain, The prize he had slighted he found not again; Many times did the friar his diving renew, And deeper and deeper the river still grew.

Gwenwynwyn gazed long, of his senses in doubt, To see the grey friar a diver so stout; Then sadly and slowly his castle he sought, And left the friar diving, like dabchick distraught.

Gwenwynwyn fell sick with alarm and despite, Died, and went to the devil, the very same night; The magnanimous heroes he held in his pay Sacked his castle, and marched with the plunder away.

No knell on the silence of midnight was rolled For the flight of the soul of Gwenwynwyn the Bold. The brethren, unfeed, let the mighty ghost pass, Without praying a prayer, or intoning a mass.

The friar haunted ever beside the dark stream; The philosopher's stone was his thought and his dream: And day after day, ever head under heels He dived all the time he could spare from his meals.

He dived, and he dived, to the end of his days, As the peasants oft witnessed with fear and amaze. The mad friar's diving-place long was their theme, And no plummet can fathom that pool of the stream.

And still, when light clouds on the midnight winds ride, If by moonlight you stray on the lone river-side, The ghost of the friar may be seen diving there, With head in the water, and heels in the air.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Well, your ballad is very pleasant: you shall show me the scene, and I will sketch it; but just now I am more interested about your love. What heroine of the twelfth century has risen from the ruins of the old castle, and looked down on you from the ivied battlements?

MR. CHAINMAIL. You are nearer the mark than you suppose. Even from those battlements a heroine of the twelfth century has looked down on me.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Oh! some vision of an ideal beauty. I suppose the whole will end in another tradition and a ballad.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Genuine flesh and blood; as genuine as Lady Clarinda. I will tell you the story.

Mr. Chainmail narrated his adventures.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Then you seem to have found what you wished. Chance has thrown in your way what none of the gods would have ventured to promise you.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Yes, but I know nothing of her birth and parentage. She tells me nothing of herself, and I have no right to question her directly.

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. She appears to be expressly destined for the light of your baronial hall. Introduce me in this case, two heads are better than one.

MR. CHAINMAIL. No, I thank you. Leave me to manage my chance of a prize, and keep you to your own chance of a -

CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Blank. As you please. Well, I will pitch my tent here, till I have filled my portfolio, and shall be glad of as much of your company as you can spare from more attractive society.

Matters went on pretty smoothly for several days, when an unlucky newspaper threw all into confusion. Mr. Chainmail received newspapers by the post, which came in three times a week. One morning, over their half-finished breakfast, the Captain had read half a newspaper very complacently, when suddenly he started up in a frenzy, hurled over the breakfast table, and, bouncing from the apartment, knocked down Harry Ap Heather, who was coming in at the door to challenge his supposed rival to a boxing-match.

Harry sprang up, in a double rage, and intercepted Mr. Chainmail's pursuit of the Captain, placing himself in the doorway, in a pugilistic attitude. Mr. Chainmail, not being disposed for this mode of combat, stepped back into the parlour, took the poker in his right hand, and displacing the loose bottom of a large elbow chair, threw it over his left arm as a shield. Harry, not liking the aspect of the enemy in this imposing attitude, retreated with backward steps into the kitchen, and tumbled over a cur, which immediately fastened on his rear.

Mr. Chainmail, half-laughing, half-vexed, anxious to overtake the Captain, and curious to know what was the matter with him, pocketed the newspaper, and sallied forth, leaving Harry roaring for a doctor and tailor, to repair the lacerations of his outward man.

Mr. Chainmail could find no trace of the Captain. Indeed, he sought him but in one direction, which was that leading to the farm; where he arrived in due time, and found Miss Susan alone. He laid the newspaper on the table, as was his custom, and proceeded to converse with the young lady: a conversation of many pauses, as much of signs as of words. The young lady took up the paper, and turned it over and over, while she listened to Mr. Chainmail, whom she found every day more and more agreeable, when suddenly her eye glanced on something which made her change colour, and dropping the paper on the ground, she rose from her seat, exclaiming: "Miserable must she be who trusts any of your faithless sex! never, never, never, will I endure such misery twice." And she vanished up the stairs. Mr. Chainmail was petrified. At length, he cried aloud: "Cornelius Agrippa must have laid a spell on this accursed newspaper;" and was turning it over, to look for the source of the mischief, when Mrs. Ap Llymry made her appearance.

MRS. AP LLYMRY. What have you done to poor dear Miss Susan? she is crying ready to break her heart.

MR. CHAINMAIL. So help me the memory of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, I have not the most distant notion of what is the matter.

MRS. AP LLYMRY. Oh, don't tell me, sir; you must have ill-used her. I know how it is. You have been keeping company with her, as if you wanted to marry her; and now, all at once, you have been insulting her. I have seen such tricks more than once, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

MR. CHAINMAIL. My dear madam, you wrong me utterly. I have none but the kindest feelings and the most honourable purposes towards her. She has been disturbed by something she has seen in this rascally paper.

MRS. AP LLYMRY. Why, then, the best thing you can do is to go away, and come again tomorrow.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Not I, indeed, madam. Out of this house I stir not, till I have seen the young lady, and obtained a full explanation.

MRS. AP LLYMRY. I will tell Miss Susan what you say. Perhaps she will come down.

Mr. Chainmail sat with as much patience as he could command, running over the paper, from column to column. At length he lighted on an announcement of the approaching marriage of Lady Clarinda Bossnowl with Mr. Crotchet the younger. This explained the Captain's discomposure, but the cause of Miss Susan's was still to be sought: he could not know that it was one and the same.

Presently, the sound of the longed-for step was heard on the stairs; the young lady reappeared, and resumed her seat: her eyes showed that she had been weeping. The gentleman was now exceedingly puzzled how to begin, but the young lady relieved him by asking, with great simplicity: "What do you wish to have explained, sir?"

MR. CHAINMAIL. I wish, if I may be permitted, to explain myself to you. Yet could I first wish to know what it was that disturbed you in this unlucky paper. Happy should I be if I could remove the cause of your inquietude!

MISS SUSANNAH. The cause is already removed. I saw something that excited painful recollections; nothing that I could now wish otherwise than as it is.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Yet, may I ask why it is that I find one so accomplished living in this obscurity, and passing only by the name of Miss Susan?

MISS SUSANNAH. The world and my name are not friends. I have left the world, and wish to remain for ever a stranger to all whom I once knew in it.

MR. CHAINMAIL. You can have done nothing to dishonour your name.

MISS SUSANNAH. No, sir. My father has done that of which the world disapproves, in matters of which I pretend not to judge. I have suffered for it as I will never suffer again. My name is my own secret: I have no other, and that is one not worth knowing. You see what I am, and all I am. I live according to the condition of my present fortune, and here, so living, I have found tranquillity.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Yet, I entreat you, tell me your name.

MISS SUSANNAH. Why, sir?

MR. CHAINMAIL. Why, but to throw my hand, my heart, my fortune, at your feet, if -.

MISS SUSANNAH. If my name be worthy of them.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Nay, nay, not so; if your hand and heart are free.

MISS SUSANNAH. My hand and heart are free; but they must be sought from myself, and not from my name.

She fixed her eyes on him, with a mingled expression of mistrust, of kindness, and of fixed resolution, which the far-gone inamorato found irresistible.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Then from yourself alone I seek them.

MISS SUSANNAH. Reflect. You have prejudices on the score of parentage. I have not conversed with you so often without knowing what they are. Choose between them and me. I too have my own prejudices on the score of personal pride.

MR. CHAINMAIL. I would choose you from all the world, were you even the daughter of the executeur des hautes oeuvres, as the heroine of a romantic story I once read turned out to be.

MISS SUSANNAH. I am satisfied. You have now a right to know my history, and if you repent, I absolve you from all obligations.

She told him her history; but he was out of the reach of repentance. "It is true," as at a subsequent period he said to the captain, "she is the daughter of a money-changer: one who, in the days of Richard the First, would have been plucked by the beard in the streets: but she is, according to modern notions, a lady of gentle blood. As to her father's running away, that is a minor consideration: I have always understood, from Mr. Mac Quedy, who is a great oracle in this way, that promises to pay ought not to be kept; the essence of a safe and economical currency being an interminable series of broken promises. There seems to be a difference among the learned as to the way in which the promises ought to be broken; but I am not deep enough in this casuistry to enter into such nice distinctions."

In a few days there was a wedding, a pathetic leave-taking of the farmer's family, a hundred kisses from the bride to the children, and promises twenty times reclaimed and renewed, to visit them in the ensuing year.



CHAPTER XVII: THE INVITATION



A cup of wine, that's brisk and fine, And drink unto the lemon mine. Master Silence.

This veridicous history began in May, and the occurrences already narrated have carried it on to the middle of autumn. Stepping over the interval to Christmas, we find ourselves in our first locality, among the chalk hills of the Thames; and we discover our old friend, Mr. Crotchet, in the act of accepting an invitation, for himself, and any friends who might be with him, to pass their Christmas Day at Chainmail Hall, after the fashion of the twelfth century. Mr. Crochet had assembled about him, for his own Christmas festivities, nearly the same party which was introduced to the reader in the spring. Three of that party were wanting. Dr. Morbific, by inoculating himself once too often with non- contagious matter, had explained himself out of the world. Mr. Henbane had also departed, on the wings of an infallible antidote. Mr. Eavesdrop, having printed in a magazine some of the after- dinner conversations of the castle, had had sentence of exclusion passed upon him, on the motion of the Reverend Doctor Folliott, as a flagitious violator of the confidences of private life.

Miss Crotchet had become Lady Bossnowl, but Lady Clarinda had not yet changed her name to Crotchet. She had, on one pretence and another, procrastinated the happy event, and the gentleman had not been very pressing; she had, however, accompanied her brother and sister-in-law, to pass Christmas at Crotchet Castle. With these, Mr. Mac Quedy, Mr. Philpot, Mr. Trillo, Mr. Skionar, Mr. Toogood, and Mr. Firedamp were sitting at breakfast, when the Reverend Doctor Folliott entered and took his seat at the table.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, Mr. Mac Quedy, it is now some weeks since we have met: how goes on the march of mind?

MR. MAC QUEDY. Nay, sir; I think you may see that with your own eyes.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, I have seen it, much to my discomfiture. It has marched into my rickyard, and set my stacks on fire, with chemical materials, most scientifically compounded. It has marched up to the door of my vicarage, a hundred and fifty strong; ordered me to surrender half my tithes; consumed all the provisions I had provided for my audit feast, and drunk up my old October. It has marched in through my back-parlour shutters, and out again with my silver spoons, in the dead of the night. The policeman who has been down to examine says my house has been broken open on the most scientific principles. All this comes of education.

MR. MAC QUEDY. I rather think it comes of poverty.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No, sir. Robbery, perhaps, comes of poverty, but scientific principles of robbery come of education. I suppose the learned friend has written a sixpenny treatise on mechanics, and the rascals who robbed me have been reading it.

MR. CROTCHET. Your house would have been very safe, Doctor, if they had had no better science than the learned friend's to work with.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, sir, that may be. Excellent potted char. The Lord deliver me from the learned friend.

MR. CROTCHET. Well, Doctor, for your comfort, here is a declaration of the learned friend's that he will never take office.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Then, sir, he will be in office next week. Peace be with him. Sugar and cream.

MR. CROTCHET. But, Doctor, are you for Chainmail Hall on Christmas Day?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. That am I, for there will be an excellent dinner, though, peradventure, grotesquely served.

MR. CROTCHET. I have not seen my neighbour since he left us on the canal.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. He has married a wife, and brought her home.

LADY CLARINDA. Indeed! If she suits him, she must be an oddity: it will be amusing to see them together.

LORD BOSSNOWL. Very amusing. He! He! Mr. Firedamp. Is there any water about Chainmail Hall?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. An old moat.

MR. FIREDAMP. I shall die of malaria.

MR. TRILLO. Shall we have any music?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. An old harper.

MR. TRILLO. Those fellows are always horridly out of tune. What will he play?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Old songs and marches.

MR. SKIONAR. Among so many old things, I hope we shall find Old Philosophy.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. An old woman.

MR. PHILPOT. Perhaps an old map of the river in the twelfth century.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No doubt.

MR. MAC QUEDY. How many more old things?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Old hospitality; old wine; old ale; all the images of old England; an old butler.

MR. TOOGOOD. Shall we all be welcome?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Heartily; you will be slapped on the shoulder, and called Old Boy.

LORD BOSSNOWL. I think we should all go in our old clothes. He! He!

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. You will sit on old chairs, round an old table, by the light of old lamps, suspended from pointed arches, which, Mr. Chainmail says, first came into use in the twelfth century, with old armour on the pillars and old banners in the roof.

LADY CLARINDA. And what curious piece of antiquity is the lady of the mansion?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No antiquity there; none.

LADY CLARINDA. Who was she?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. That I know not.

LADY CLARINDA. Have you seen her?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I have.

LADY CLARINDA. Is she pretty?

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. More,—beautiful. A subject for the pen of Nonnus or the pencil of Zeuxis. Features of all loveliness, radiant with all virtue and intelligence. A face for Antigone. A form at once plump and symmetrical, that, if it be decorous to divine it by externals, would have been a model for the Venus of Cnidos. Never was anything so goodly to look on, the present company excepted; and poor dear Mrs. Folliott. She reads moral philosophy, Mr. Mac Quedy, which indeed she might as well let alone; she reads Italian poetry, Mr. Skionar; she sings Italian music, Mr. Trillo; but, with all this, she has the greatest of female virtues, for she superintends the household and looks after her husband's dinner. I believe she was a mountaineer: [Greek text] {1} as Nonnus sweetly sings.



CHAPTER XVIII: CHAINMAIL HALL



Vous autres dictes que ignorance est mere de tous maulx, et dictes vray: mais toutesfoys vous ne la bannissez mye de vos entendemens, et vivez en elle, avecques elle, et par elle. C'est pourquoy tant de maulx vous meshaignent de jour en jour.—RABELIAS, 1. 5. c. 7.

The party which was assembled on Christmas Day in Chainmail Hall comprised all the guests of Crotchet Castle, some of Mr. Chainmail's other neighbours, all his tenants and domestics, and Captain Fitzchrome. The hall was spacious and lofty; and with its tall fluted pillars and pointed arches, its windows of stained glass, its display of arms and banners intermingled with holly and mistletoe, its blazing cressets and torches, and a stupendous fire in the centre, on which blocks of pine were flaming and crackling, had a striking effect on eyes unaccustomed to such a dining-room. The fire was open on all sides, and the smoke was caught and carried back under a funnel-formed canopy into a hollow central pillar. This fire was the line of demarcation between gentle and simple on days of high festival. Tables extended from it on two sides to nearly the end of the hall.

Mrs. Chainmail was introduced to the company. Young Crotchet felt some revulsion of feeling at the unexpected sight of one whom he had forsaken, but not forgotten, in a condition apparently so much happier than his own. The lady held out her hand to him with a cordial look of more than forgiveness; it seemed to say that she had much to thank him for. She was the picture of a happy bride, rayonnante de joie et d'amour.

Mr. Crotchet told the Reverend Doctor Folliott the news of the morning. "As you predicted," he said, "your friend, the learned friend, is in office; he has also a title; he is now Sir Guy de Vaux."

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Thank heaven for that! he is disarmed from further mischief. It is something, at any rate, to have that hollow and wind-shaken reed rooted up for ever from the field of public delusion.

MR. CROTCHET. I suppose, Doctor, you do not like to see a great reformer in office; you are afraid for your vested interests.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Not I, indeed, sir; my vested interests are very safe from all such reformers as the learned friend. I vaticinate what will be the upshot of all his schemes of reform. He will make a speech of seven hours' duration, and this will be its quintessence: that, seeing the exceeding difficulty of putting salt on the bird's tail, it will be expedient to consider the best method of throwing dust in the bird's eyes. All the rest will be

[Greek text in verse]

as Aristophanes has it; and so I leave him, in Nephelococcygia.

Mr. Mac Quedy came up to the divine as Mr. Crotchet left him, and said: "There is one piece of news which the old gentleman has not told you. The great firm of Catchflat and Company, in which young Crotchet is a partner, has stopped payment."

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Bless me! that accounts for the young gentleman's melancholy. I thought they would overreach themselves with their own tricks. The day of reckoning, Mr. Mac Quedy, is the point which your paper-money science always leaves out of view.

MR. MAC QUEDY. I do not see, sir, that the failure of Catchflat and Company has anything to do with my science.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. It has this to do with it, sir, that you would turn the whole nation into a great paper-money shop, and take no thought of the day of reckoning. But the dinner is coming. I think you, who are so fond of paper promises, should dine on the bill of fare.

The harper at the head of the hall struck up an ancient march, and the dishes were brought in, in grand procession.

The boar's head, garnished with rosemary, with a citron in its mouth, led the van. Then came tureens of plum-porridge; then a series of turkeys, and in the midst of them an enormous sausage, which it required two men to carry. Then came geese and capons, tongues and hams, the ancient glory of the Christmas pie, a gigantic plum pudding, a pyramid of mince pies, and a baron of beef bringing up the rear.

"It is something new under the sun," said the divine, as he sat down, "to see a great dinner without fish."

MR. CHAINMAIL. Fish was for fasts in the twelfth century.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, sir, I prefer our reformed system of putting fasts and feasts together. Not but here is ample indemnity.

Ale and wine flowed in abundance. The dinner passed off merrily: the old harper playing all the while the oldest music in his repertory. The tables being cleared, he indemnified himself for lost time at the lower end of the hall, in company with the old butler and the other domestics, whose attendance on the banquet had been indispensable.

The scheme of Christmas gambols, which Mr. Chainmail had laid for the evening, was interrupted by a tremendous clamour without.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. What have we here? Mummers?

MR. CHAINMAIL. Nay, I know not. I expect none.

"Who is there?" he added, approaching the door of the hall.

"Who is there?" vociferated the divine, with the voice of Stentor.

"Captain Swing," replied a chorus of discordant voices.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Ho, ho! here is a piece of the dark ages we did not bargain for. Here is the Jacquerie. Here is the march of mind with a witness.

MR. MAC QUEDY. Do you not see that you have brought disparates together? the Jacquerie and the march of mind.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Not at all, sir. They are the same thing, under different names. [Greek text]. What was Jacquerie in the dark ages is the march of mind in this very enlightened one—very enlightened one.

MR. CHAINMAIL. The cause is the same in both; poverty in despair.

MR. MAC QUEDY. Very likely; but the effect is extremely disagreeable.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. It is the natural result, Mr. Mac Quedy, of that system of state seamanship which your science upholds. Putting the crew on short allowance, and doubling the rations of the officers, is the sure way to make a mutiny on board a ship in distress, Mr. Mac Quedy.

MR. MAC QUEDY. Eh! sir, I uphold no such system as that. I shall set you right as to cause and effect. Discontent arises with the increase of information. That is all.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I said it was the march of mind. But we have not time for discussing cause and effect now. Let us get rid of the enemy.

And he vociferated at the top of his voice, "What do you want here?" "Arms, arms," replied a hundred voices, "Give us the arms."

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. You see, Mr. Chainmail, this is the inconvenience of keeping an armoury not fortified with sand bags, green bags, and old bags of all kinds.

MR. MAC QUEDY. Just give them the old spits and toasting irons, and they will go away quietly.

MR. CHAINMAIL. My spears and swords! not without my life. These assailants are all aliens to my land and house. My men will fight for me, one and all. This is the fortress of beef and ale.

MR. MAC QUEDY. Eh! sir, when the rabble is up, it is very indiscriminating. You are e'en suffering for the sins of Sir Simon Steeltrap and the like, who have pushed the principle of accumulation a little too far.

MR. CHAINMAIL. The way to keep the people down is kind and liberal usage.

MR. MAC QUEDY. That is very well (where it can be afforded) in the way of prevention; but in the way of cure the operation must be more drastic. (Taking down a battle-axe.) I would fain have a good blunderbuss charged with slugs.

MR. CHAINMAIL. When I suspended these arms for ornament, I never dreamed of their being called into use.

MR. SKIONAR. Let me address them. I never failed to convince an audience that the best thing they could do was to go away.

MR. MAC QUEDY. Eh! sir, I can bring them to that conclusion in less time than you.

MR. CROTCHET. I have no fancy for fighting. It is a very hard case upon a guest, when the latter end of a feast is the beginning of a fray.

MR. MAC QUEDY. Give them the old iron.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Give them the weapons! Pessimo, medius fidius, exemplo. Forbid it the spirit of Frere Jean des Entommeures! No! let us see what the church militant, in the armour of the twelfth century, will do against the march of mind. Follow me who will, and stay who list. Here goes: Pro aris et focis! that is, for tithe pigs and fires to roast them.

He clapped a helmet on his head, seized a long lance, threw open the gates, and tilted out on the rabble, side by side with Mr. Chainmail, followed by the greater portion of the male inmates of the hall, who had armed themselves at random.

The rabble-rout, being unprepared for such a sortie, fled in all directions, over hedge and ditch.

Mr. Trillo stayed in the hall, playing a march on the harp, to inspirit the rest to sally out. The water-loving Mr. Philpot had diluted himself with so much wine as to be quite hors de combat. Mr. Toogood, intending to equip himself in purely defensive armour, contrived to slip a ponderous coat of mail over his shoulders, which pinioned his arms to his sides; and in this condition, like a chicken trussed for roasting, he was thrown down behind a pillar in the first rush of the sortie. Mr. Crotchet seized the occurrence as a pretext for staying with him, and passed the whole time of the action in picking him out of his shell.

"Phew!" said the divine, returning; "an inglorious victory; but it deserves a devil and a bowl of punch."

MR. CHAINMAIL. A wassail-bowl.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No, sir. No more of the twelfth century for me.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Nay, Doctor. The twelfth century has backed you well. Its manners and habits, its community of kind feelings between master and man, are the true remedy for these ebullitions.

MR. TOOGOOD. Something like it: improved by my diagram: arts for arms.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No wassail-bowl for me. Give me an unsophisticated bowl of punch, which belongs to that blissful middle period, after the Jacquerie was down, and before the march of mind was up. But, see, who is floundering in the water?

Proceeding to the edge of the moat, they fished up Mr. Firedamp, who had missed his way back, and tumbled in. He was drawn out, exclaiming, "that he had taken his last dose of malaria in this world."

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Tut, man; dry clothes, a turkey's leg and rump, well devilled, and a quart of strong punch, will set all to rights.

"Wood embers," said Mr. Firedamp, when he had been accommodated with a change of clothes, "there is no antidote to malaria like the smoke of wood embers; pine embers." And he placed himself, with his mouth open, close by the fire.

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Punch, sir, punch: there is no antidote like punch.

MR. CHAINMAIL. Well, Doctor, you shall be indulged. But I shall have my wassail-bowl, nevertheless.

An immense bowl of spiced wine, with roasted apples hissing on its surface, was borne into the hall by four men, followed by an empty bowl of the same dimensions, with all the materials of arrack punch, for the divine's especial brewage. He accinged himself to the task with his usual heroism, and having finished it to his entire satisfaction, reminded his host to order in the devil

REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I think, Mr. Chainmail, we can amuse ourselves very well here all night. The enemy may be still excubant: and we had better not disperse till daylight. I am perfectly satisfied with my quarters. Let the young folk go on with their gambols; let them dance to your old harper's minstrelsy; and if they please to kiss under the mistletoe, whereof I espy a goodly bunch suspended at the end of the hall, let those who like it not leave it to those who do. Moreover, if among the more sedate portion of the assembly, which, I foresee, will keep me company, there were any to revive the good old custom of singing after supper, so to fill up the intervals of the dances, the steps of night would move more lightly.

MR. CHAINMAIL. My Susan will set the example, after she has set that of joining in the rustic dance, according to good customs long departed.

After the first dance, in which all classes of the company mingled, the young lady of the mansion took her harp, and following the reverend gentleman's suggestion, sang a song of the twelfth century.

FLORENCE AND BLANCHFLOR.

Florence and Blanchflor, loveliest maids, Within a summer grove, Amid the flower-enamelled shades Together talked of love.

A clerk sweet Blanchflor's heart had gain'd; Fair Florence loved a knight: And each with ardent voice maintained She loved the worthiest wight.

Sweet Blanchflor praised her scholar dear, As courteous, kind, and true! Fair Florence said her chevalier Could every foe subdue.

And Florence scorned the bookworm vain, Who sword nor spear could raise; And Blanchflor scorned the unlettered brain Could sing no lady's praise.

From dearest love, the maidens bright To deadly hatred fell, Each turned to shun the other's sight, And neither said farewell.

The king of birds, who held his court Within that flowery grove, Sang loudly: "'Twill be rare disport To judge this suit of love."

Before him came the maidens bright, With all his birds around, To judge the cause, if clerk or knight In love be worthiest found.

The falcon and the sparrow-hawk Stood forward for the fight: Ready to do, and not to talk, They voted for the knight.

And Blanchflor's heart began to fail, Till rose the strong-voiced lark, And, after him, the nightingale, And pleaded for the clerk.

The nightingale prevailed at length, Her pleading had such charms; So eloquence can conquer strength, And arts can conquer arms.

The lovely Florence tore her hair, And died upon the place; And all the birds assembled there Bewailed the mournful case.

They piled up leaves and flowerets rare Above the maiden bright, And sang: "Farewell to Florence fair, Who too well loved her knight."

Several others of the party sang in the intervals of the dances. Mr. Chainmail handed to Mr. Trillo another ballad of the twelfth century, of a merrier character than the former. Mr. Trillo readily accommodated it with an air, and sang:

THE PRIEST AND THE MULBERRY TREE.

Did you hear of the curate who mounted his mare, And merrily trotted along to the fair? Of creature more tractable none ever heard; In the height of her speed she would stop at a word, And again with a word, when the curate said Hey, She put forth her mettle, and galloped away.

As near to the gates of the city he rode, While the sun of September all brilliantly glowed, The good priest discovered, with eyes of desire, A mulberry tree in a hedge of wild briar, On boughs long and lofty, in many a green shoot, Hung large, black, and glossy, the beautiful fruit.

The curate was hungry, and thirsty to boot; He shrunk from the thorns, though he longed for the fruit; With a word he arrested his courser's keen speed, And he stood up erect on the back of his steed; On the saddle he stood, while the creature stood still, And he gathered the fruit, till he took his good fill.

"Sure never," he thought, "was a creature so rare, So docile, so true, as my excellent mare. Lo, here, how I stand" (and he gazed all around), "As safe and as steady as if on the ground, Yet how had it been, if some traveller this way, Had, dreaming no mischief, but chanced to cry Hey?"

He stood with his head in the mulberry tree, And he spoke out aloud in his fond reverie. At the sound of the word, the good mare made a push, And down went the priest in the wild-briar bush. He remembered too late, on his thorny green bed, Much that well may be thought cannot wisely be said.

Lady Clarinda, being prevailed on to take the harp in her turn, sang the following stanzas.

In the days of old, Lovers felt true passion, Deeming years of sorrow By a smile repaid. Now the charms of gold, Spells of pride and fashion, Bid them say good morrow To the best-loved maid.

Through the forests wild, O'er the mountains lonely, They were never weary Honour to pursue. If the damsel smiled Once in seven years only, All their wanderings dreary Ample guerdon knew.

Now one day's caprice Weighs down years of smiling, Youthful hearts are rovers, Love is bought and sold: Fortune's gifts may cease, Love is less beguiling; Wisest were the lovers In the days of old.

The glance which she threw at the captain, as she sang the last verse, awakened his dormant hopes. Looking round for his rival, he saw that he was not in the hall; and, approaching the lady of his heart, he received one of the sweetest smiles of their earlier days.

After a time, the ladies, and all the females of the party, retired. The males remained on duty with punch and wassail, and dropped off one by one into sweet forgetfulness; so that when the rising sun of December looked through the painted windows on mouldering embers and flickering lamps, the vaulted roof was echoing to a mellifluous concert of noses, from the clarionet of the waiting-boy at one end of the hall, to the double bass of the Reverend Doctor, ringing over the empty punch-bowl, at the other.



CONCLUSION



From this eventful night, young Crotchet was seen no more on English mould. Whither he had vanished was a question that could no more be answered in his case than in that of King Arthur after the battle of Camlan. The great firm of Catchflat and Company figured in the Gazette, and paid sixpence in the pound; and it was clear that he had shrunk from exhibiting himself on the scene of his former greatness, shorn of the beams of his paper prosperity. Some supposed him to be sleeping among the undiscoverable secrets of some barbel-pool in the Thames; but those who knew him best were more inclined to the opinion that he had gone across the Atlantic, with his pockets full of surplus capital, to join his old acquaintance, Mr. Touchandgo, in the bank of Dotandcarryonetown.

Lady Clarinda was more sorry for her father's disappointment than her own; but she had too much pride to allow herself to be put up a second time in the money-market; and when the Captain renewed his assiduities, her old partiality for him, combining with a sense of gratitude for a degree of constancy which she knew she scarcely deserved, induced her, with Lord Foolincourt's hard-wrung consent, to share with him a more humble, but less precarious fortune, than that to which she had been destined as the price of a rotten borough.



Footnotes:

{1} A mountain-wandering maid, Twin-nourished with the solitary wood.

THE END

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