Dame Ursley's reputation in the city was the greater that her practice had extended beyond Temple Bar, and that she had acquaintances, nay, patrons and patronesses, among the quality, whose rank, as their members were much fewer, and the prospect of approaching the courtly sphere much more difficult, bore a degree of consequence unknown to the present day, when the toe of the citizen presses so close on the courtier's heel. Dame Ursley maintained her intercourse with this superior rank of customers, partly by driving a small trade in perfumes, essences, pomades, head-gears from France, dishes or ornaments from China, then already beginning to be fashionable; not to mention drugs of various descriptions, chiefly for the use of the ladies, and partly by other services, more or less connected with the esoteric branches of her profession heretofore alluded to.
Possessing such and so many various modes of thriving, Dame Ursley was nevertheless so poor, that she might probably have mended her own circumstances, as well as her husband's, if she had renounced them all, and set herself quietly down to the care of her own household, and to assist Benjamin in the concerns of his trade. But Ursula was luxurious and genial in her habits, and could no more have endured the stinted economy of Benjamin's board, than she could have reconciled herself to the bald chat of his conversation.
It was on the evening of the day on which Lord Nigel Olifaunt dined with the wealthy goldsmith, that we must introduce Ursula Suddlechop upon the stage. She had that morning made a long tour to Westminster, was fatigued, and had assumed a certain large elbow-chair, rendered smooth by frequent use, placed on one side of her chimney, in which there was lit a small but bright fire. Here she observed, betwixt sleeping and waking, the simmering of a pot of well-spiced ale, on the brown surface of which bobbed a small crab-apple, sufficiently roasted, while a little mulatto girl watched, still more attentively, the process of dressing a veal sweetbread, in a silver stewpan which occupied the other side of the chimney. With these viands, doubtless, Dame Ursula proposed concluding the well spent day, of which she reckoned the labour over, and the rest at her own command. She was deceived, however; for just as the ale, or, to speak technically, the lamb's-wool, was fitted for drinking, and the little dingy maiden intimated that the sweetbread was ready to be eaten, the thin cracked voice of Benjamin was heard from the bottom of the stairs.
"Why, Dame Ursley—why, wife, I say—why, dame—why, love, you are wanted more than a strop for a blunt razor—why, dame—"
"I would some one would draw a razor across thy windpipe, thou bawling ass!" said the dame to herself, in the first moment of irritation against her clamorous helpmate; and then called aloud,—"Why, what is the matter, Master Suddlechop? I am just going to slip into bed; I have been daggled to and fro the whole day."
"Nay, sweetheart, it is not me," said the patient Benjamin, "but the Scots laundry-maid from neighbour Ramsay's, who must speak with you incontinent."
At the word sweetheart, Dame Ursley cast a wistful look at the mess which was stewed to a second in the stewpan, and then replied, with a sigh,—"Bid Scots Jenny come up, Master Suddlechop. I shall be very happy to hear what she has to say;" then added in a lower tone, "and I hope she will go to the devil in the flame of a tar-barrel, like many a Scots witch before her!"
The Scots laundress entered accordingly, and having heard nothing of the last kind wish of Dame Suddlechop, made her reverence with considerable respect, and said, her young mistress had returned home unwell, and wished to see her neighbour, Dame Ursley, directly.
"And why will it not do to-morrow, Jenny, my good woman?" said Dame Ursley; "for I have been as far as Whitehall to-day already, and I am well-nigh worn off my feet, my good woman."
"Aweel!" answered Jenny, with great composure, "and if that sae be sae, I maun take the langer tramp mysell, and maun gae down the waterside for auld Mother Redcap, at the Hungerford Stairs, that deals in comforting young creatures, e'en as you do yoursell, hinny; for ane o' ye the bairn maun see before she sleeps, and that's a' that I ken on't."
So saying, the old emissary, without farther entreaty, turned on her heel, and was about to retreat, when Dame Ursley exclaimed,—"No, no— if the sweet child, your mistress, has any necessary occasion for good advice and kind tendance, you need not go to Mother Redcap, Janet. She may do very well for skippers' wives, chandlers' daughters, and such like; but nobody shall wait on pretty Mistress Margaret, the daughter of his most Sacred Majesty's horologer, excepting and saving myself. And so I will but take my chopins and my cloak, and put on my muffler, and cross the street to neighbour Ramsay's in an instant. But tell me yourself, good Jenny, are you not something tired of your young lady's frolics and change of mind twenty times a-day?"
"In troth, not I," said the patient drudge, "unless it may be when she is a wee fashious about washing her laces; but I have been her keeper since she was a bairn, neighbour Suddlechop, and that makes a difference."
"Ay," said Dame Ursley, still busied putting on additional defences against the night air; "and you know for certain that she has two hundred pounds a-year in good land, at her own free disposal?"
"Left by her grandmother, heaven rest her soul!" said the Scotswoman; "and to a daintier lassie she could not have bequeathed it."
"Very true, very true, mistress; for, with all her little whims, I have always said Mistress Margaret Ramsay was the prettiest girl in the ward; and, Jenny, I warrant the poor child has had no supper?"
Jenny could not say but it was the case, for, her master being out, the twa 'prentice lads had gone out after shutting shop, to fetch them home, and she and the other maid had gone out to Sandy MacGivan's, to see a friend frae Scotland.
"As was very natural, Mrs. Janet," said Dame Ursley, who found her interest in assenting to all sorts of propositions from all sorts of persons.
"And so the fire went out, too,"—said Jenny.
"Which was the most natural of the whole," said Dame Suddlechop; "and so, to cut the matter short, Jenny, I'll carry over the little bit of supper that I was going to eat. For dinner I have tasted none, and it may be my young pretty Mistress Marget will eat a morsel with me; for it is mere emptiness, Mistress Jenny, that often puts these fancies of illness into young folk's heads." So saying, she put the silver posset-cup with the ale into Jenny's hands and assuming her mantle with the alacrity of one determined to sacrifice inclination to duty, she hid the stewpan under its folds, and commanded Wilsa, the little mulatto girl, to light them across the street.
"Whither away, so late?" said the barber, whom they passed seated with his starveling boys round a mess of stockfish and parsnips, in the shop below.
"If I were to tell you, Gaffer," said the dame, with most contemptuous coolness, "I do not think you could do my errand, so I will e'en keep it to myself." Benjamin was too much accustomed to his wife's independent mode of conduct, to pursue his inquiry farther; nor did the dame tarry for farther question, but marched out at the door, telling the eldest of the boys "to sit up till her return, and look to the house the whilst."
The night was dark and rainy, and although the distance betwixt the two shops was short, it allowed Dame Ursley leisure enough, while she strode along with high-tucked petticoats, to embitter it by the following grumbling reflections—"I wonder what I have done, that I must needs trudge at every old beldam's bidding, and every young minx's maggot! I have been marched from Temple Bar to Whitechapel, on the matter of a pinmaker's wife having pricked her fingers—marry, her husband that made the weapon might have salved the wound.—And here is this fantastic ape, pretty Mistress Marget, forsooth—such a beauty as I could make of a Dutch doll, and as fantastic, and humorous, and conceited, as if she were a duchess. I have seen her in the same day as changeful as a marmozet and as stubborn as a mule. I should like to know whether her little conceited noddle, or her father's old crazy calculating jolter-pate, breeds most whimsies. But then there's that two hundred pounds a-year in dirty land, and the father is held a close chuff, though a fanciful—he is our landlord besides, and she has begged a late day from him for our rent; so, God help me, I must be comfortable—besides, the little capricious devil is my only key to get at Master George Heriot's secret, and it concerns my character to find that out; and so, ANDIAMOS, as the lingua franca hath it."
Thus pondering, she moved forward with hasty strides until she arrived at the watchmaker's habitation. The attendant admitted them by means of a pass-key. Onward glided Dame Ursula, now in glimmer and now in gloom, not like the lovely Lady Cristabelle through Gothic sculpture and ancient armour, but creeping and stumbling amongst relics of old machines, and models of new inventions in various branches of mechanics with which wrecks of useless ingenuity, either in a broken or half-finished shape, the apartment of the fanciful though ingenious mechanist was continually lumbered.
At length they attained, by a very narrow staircase, pretty Mistress Margaret's apartment, where she, the cynosure of the eyes of every bold young bachelor in Fleet Street, sat in a posture which hovered between the discontented and the disconsolate. For her pretty back and shoulders were rounded into a curve, her round and dimpled chin reposed in the hollow of her little palm, while the fingers were folded over her mouth; her elbow rested on a table, and her eyes seemed fixed upon the dying charcoal, which was expiring in a small grate. She scarce turned her head when Dame Ursula entered, and when the presence of that estimable matron was more precisely announced in words by the old Scotswoman, Mistress Margaret, without changing her posture, muttered some sort of answer that was wholly unintelligible.
"Go your ways down to the kitchen with Wilsa, good Mistress Jenny," said Dame Ursula, who was used to all sorts of freaks, on the part of her patients or clients, whichever they might be termed; "put the stewpan and the porringer by the fireside, and go down below—I must speak to my pretty love, Mistress Margaret, by myself—and there is not a bachelor betwixt this and Bow but will envy me the privilege."
The attendants retired as directed, and Dame Ursula, having availed herself of the embers of charcoal, to place her stewpan to the best advantage, drew herself as close as she could to her patient, and began in a low, soothing, and confidential tone of voice, to inquire what ailed her pretty flower of neighbours.
"Nothing, dame," said Margaret somewhat pettishly, and changing her posture so as rather to turn her back upon the kind inquirer.
"Nothing, lady-bird!" answered Dame Suddlechop; "and do you use to send for your friends out of bed at this hour for nothing?"
"It was not I who sent for you, dame," replied the malecontent maiden.
"And who was it, then?" said Ursula; "for if I had not been sent for, I had not been here at this time of night, I promise you!"
"It was the old Scotch fool Jenny, who did it out of her own head, I suppose," said Margaret; "for she has been stunning me these two hours about you and Mother Redcap."
"Me and Mother Redcap!" said Dame Ursula, "an old fool indeed, that couples folk up so.—But come, come, my sweet little neighbour, Jenny is no such fool after all; she knows young folks want more and better advice than her own, and she knows, too, where to find it for them; so you must take heart of grace, my pretty maiden, and tell me what you are moping about, and then let Dame Ursula alone for finding out a cure."
"Nay, an ye be so wise, Mother Ursula," replied the girl, "you may guess what I ail without my telling you."
"Ay, ay, child," answered the complaisant matron, "no one can play better than I at the good old game of What is my thought like? Now I'll warrant that little head of yours is running on a new head-tire, a foot higher than those our city dames wear—or you are all for a trip to Islington or Ware, and your father is cross and will not consent—or——"
"Or you are an old fool, Dame Suddlechop," said Margaret, peevishly, "and must needs trouble yourself about matters you know nothing of."
"Fool as much as you will, mistress," said Dame Ursula, offended in her turn, "but not so very many years older than yourself, mistress."
"Oh! we are angry, are we?" said the beauty; "and pray, Madam Ursula, how come you, that are not so many years older than me, to talk about such nonsense to me, who am so many years younger, and who yet have too much sense to care about head-gears and Islington?"
"Well, well, young mistress," said the sage counsellor, rising, "I perceive I can be of no use here; and methinks, since you know your own matters so much better than other people do, you might dispense with disturbing folks at midnight to ask their advice."
"Why, now you are angry, mother," said Margaret, detaining her; "this comes of your coming out at eventide without eating your supper—I never heard you utter a cross word after you had finished your little morsel.—Here, Janet, a trencher and salt for Dame Ursula;—and what have you in that porringer, dame?—Filthy clammy ale, as I would live —Let Janet fling it out of the window, or keep it for my father's morning draught; and she shall bring you the pottle of sack that was set ready for him—good man, he will never find out the difference, for ale will wash down his dusty calculations quite as well as wine."
"Truly, sweetheart, I am of your opinion," said Dame Ursula, whose temporary displeasure vanished at once before these preparations for good cheer; and so, settling herself on the great easy-chair, with a three-legged table before her, she began to dispatch, with good appetite, the little delicate dish which she had prepared for herself. She did not, however, fail in the duties of civility, and earnestly, but in vain, pressed Mistress Margaret to partake her dainties. The damsel declined the invitation.
"At least pledge me in a glass of sack," said Dame Ursula; "I have heard my grandame say, that before the gospellers came in, the old Catholic father confessors and their penitents always had a cup of sack together before confession; and you are my penitent."
"I shall drink no sack, I am sure," said Margaret; "and I told you before, that if you cannot find out what ails me, I shall never have the heart to tell it."
So saying, she turned away from Dame Ursula once more, and resumed her musing posture, with her hand on her elbow, and her back, at least one shoulder, turned towards her confidant.
"Nay, then," said Dame Ursula, "I must exert my skill in good earnest.—You must give me this pretty hand, and I will tell you by palmistry, as well as any gipsy of them all, what foot it is you halt upon."
"As if I halted on any foot at all," said Margaret, something scornfully, but yielding her left hand to Ursula, and continuing at the same time her averted position.
"I see brave lines here," said Ursula, "and not ill to read neither— pleasure and wealth, and merry nights and late mornings to my Beauty, and such an equipage as shall shake Whitehall. O, have I touched you there?—and smile you now, my pretty one?—for why should not he be Lord Mayor, and go to Court in his gilded caroch, as others have done before him?"
"Lord Mayor? pshaw!" replied Margaret.
"And why pshaw at my Lord Mayor, sweetheart? or perhaps you pshaw at my prophecy; but there is a cross in every one's line of life as well as in yours, darling. And what though I see a 'prentice's flat cap in this pretty palm, yet there is a sparking black eye under it, hath not its match in the Ward of Farringdon-Without."
"Whom do you mean, dame?" said Margaret coldly.
"Whom should I mean," said Dame Ursula, "but the prince of 'prentices, and king of good company, Jenkin Vincent?"
"Out, woman—Jenkin Vincent?—a clown—a Cockney!" exclaimed the indignant damsel.
"Ay, sets the wind in that quarter, Beauty!" quoth the dame; "why, it has changed something since we spoke together last, for then I would have sworn it blew fairer for poor Jin Vin; and the poor lad dotes on you too, and would rather see your eyes than the first glimpse of the sun on the great holiday on May-day."
"I would my eyes had the power of the sun to blind his, then," said Margaret, "to teach the drudge his place."
"Nay," said Dame Ursula, "there be some who say that Frank Tunstall is as proper a lad as Jin Vin, and of surety he is third cousin to a knighthood, and come of a good house; and so mayhap you may be for northward ho!"
"Maybe I may"—answered Margaret, "but not with my father's 'prentice —I thank you, Dame Ursula."
"Nay, then, the devil may guess your thoughts for me," said Dame Ursula; "this comes of trying to shoe a filly that is eternally wincing and shifting ground!"
"Hear me, then," said Margaret, "and mind what I say.—This day I dined abroad—"
"I can tell you where," answered her counsellor,—"with your godfather the rich goldsmith—ay, you see I know something—nay, I could tell you, as I would, with whom, too."
"Indeed!" said Margaret, turning suddenly round with an accent of strong surprise, and colouring up to the eyes.
"With old Sir Mungo Malagrowther," said the oracular dame,—"he was trimmed in my Benjamin's shop in his way to the city."
"Pshaw! the frightful old mouldy skeleton!" said the damsel.
"Indeed you say true, my dear," replied the confidant,—"it is a shame to him to be out of Saint Pancras's charnel-house, for I know no other place he is fit for, the foul-mouthed old railer. He said to my husband—"
"Somewhat which signifies nothing to our purpose, I dare say," interrupted Margaret. "I must speak, then.—There dined with us a nobleman—"
"A nobleman! the maiden's mad!" said Dame Ursula.
"There dined with us, I say," continued Margaret, without regarding the interruption, "a nobleman—a Scottish nobleman."
"Now Our Lady keep her!" said the confidant, "she is quite frantic!— heard ever any one of a watchmaker's daughter falling in love with a nobleman—and a Scots nobleman, to make the matter complete, who are all as proud as Lucifer, and as poor as Job?—A Scots nobleman, quotha? I had lief you told me of a Jew pedlar. I would have you think how all this is to end, pretty one, before you jump in the dark."
"That is nothing to you, Ursula—it is your assistance," said Mistress Margaret, "and not your advice, that I am desirous to have, and you know I can make it worth your while."
"O, it is not for the sake of lucre, Mistress Margaret," answered the obliging dame; "but truly I would have you listen to some advice— bethink you of your own condition."
"My father's calling is mechanical," said Margaret, "but our blood is not so. I have heard my father say that we are descended, at a distance indeed, from the great Earls of Dalwolsey." [Footnote: The head of the ancient and distinguished house of Ramsay, and to whom, as their chief, the individuals of that name look as their origin and source of gentry. Allan Ramsay, the pastoral poet, in the same manner, makes
"Dalhousie of an auld descent, My chief, my stoup, my ornament."]
"Ay, ay," said Dame Ursula; "even so—I never knew a Scot of you but was descended, as ye call it, from some great house or other; and a piteous descent it often is—and as for the distance you speak of, it is so great as to put you out of sight of each other. Yet do not toss your pretty head so scornfully, but tell me the name of this lordly northern gallant, and we will try what can be done in the matter."
"It is Lord Glenvarloch, whom they call Lord Nigel Olifaunt," said Margaret in a low voice, and turning away to hide her blushes.
"Marry, Heaven forefend!" exclaimed Dame Suddlechop; "this is the very devil, and something worse!"
"How mean you?" said the damsel, surprised at the vivacity of her exclamation.
"Why, know ye not," said the dame, "what powerful enemies he has at Court? know ye not—But blisters on my tongue, it runs too fast for my wit—enough to say, that you had better make your bridal-bed under a falling house, than think of young Glenvarloch."
"He IS unfortunate then?" said Margaret; "I knew it—I divined it— there was sorrow in his voice when he said even what was gay—there was a touch of misfortune in his melancholy smile—he had not thus clung to my thoughts had I seen him in all the mid-day glare of prosperity."
"Romances have cracked her brain!" said Dame Ursula; "she is a castaway girl—utterly distraught—loves a Scots lord—and likes him the better for being unfortunate! Well, mistress, I am sorry this is a matter I cannot aid you in—it goes against my conscience, and it is an affair above my condition, and beyond my management;—but I will keep your counsel."
"You will not be so base as to desert me, after having drawn my secret from me?" said Margaret, indignantly; "if you do, I know how to have my revenge; and if you do not, I will reward you well. Remember the house your husband dwells in is my father's property."
"I remember it but too well, Mistress Margaret," said Ursula, after a moment's reflection, "and I would serve you in any thing in my condition; but to meddle with such high matters—I shall never forget poor Mistress Turner, my honoured patroness, peace be with her!—she had the ill-luck to meddle in the matter of Somerset and Overbury, and so the great earl and his lady slipt their necks out of the collar, and left her and some half-dozen others to suffer in their stead. I shall never forget the sight of her standing on the scaffold with the ruff round her pretty neck, all done up with the yellow starch which I had so often helped her to make, and that was so soon to give place to a rough hempen cord. Such a sight, sweetheart, will make one loath to meddle with matters that are too hot or heavy for their handling."
"Out, you fool!" answered Mistress Margaret; "am I one to speak to you about such criminal practices as that wretch died for? All I desire of you is, to get me precise knowledge of what affair brings this young nobleman to Court."
"And when you have his secret," said Ursula, "what will it avail you, sweetheart?—and yet I would do your errand, if you could do as much for me."
"And what is it you would have of me?" said Mistress Margaret.
"What you have been angry with me for asking before," answered Dame Ursula. "I want to have some light about the story of your godfather's ghost, that is only seen at prayers."
"Not for the world," said Mistress Margaret, "will I be a spy on my kind godfather's secrets—No, Ursula—that I will never pry into, which he desires to keep hidden. But thou knowest that I have a fortune, of my own, which must at no distant day come under my own management—think of some other recompense."
"Ay, that I well know," said the counsellor—"it is that two hundred per year, with your father's indulgence, that makes you so wilful, sweetheart."
"It may be so,"—said Margaret Ramsay; "meanwhile, do you serve me truly, and here is a ring of value in pledge, that when my fortune is in my own hand, I will redeem the token with fifty broad pieces of gold."
"Fifty broad pieces of gold!" repeated the dame; "and this ring, which is a right fair one, in token you fail not of your word!—Well, sweetheart, if I must put my throat in peril, I am sure I cannot risk it for a friend more generous than you; and I would not think of more than the pleasure of serving you, only Benjamin gets more idle every day, and our family——"
"Say no more of it," said Margaret; "we understand each other. And now, tell me what you know of this young man's affairs, which made you so unwilling to meddle with them?"
"Of that I can say no great matter as yet," answered Dame Ursula; "only I know, the most powerful among his own countrymen are against him, and also the most powerful at the Court here. But I will learn more of it; for it will be a dim print that I will not read for your sake, pretty Mistress Margaret. Know you where this gallant dwells?"
"I heard by accident," said Margaret, as if ashamed of the minute particularity of her memory upon such an occasion,—"he lodges, I think—at one Christie's—if I mistake not—at Paul's Wharf—a ship- chandler's."
"A proper lodging for a young baron!—Well, but cheer you up, Mistress Margaret—If he has come up a caterpillar, like some of his countrymen, he may cast his slough like them, and come out a butterfly.—So I drink good-night, and sweet dreams to you, in another parting cup of sack; and you shall hear tidings of me within four-and- twenty hours. And, once more, I commend you to your pillow, my pearl of pearls, and Marguerite of Marguerites!"
So saying, she kissed the reluctant cheek of her young friend, or patroness, and took her departure with the light and stealthy pace of one accustomed to accommodate her footsteps to the purposes of dispatch and secrecy.
Margaret Ramsay looked after her for some time, in anxious silence. "I did ill," she at length murmured, "to let her wring this out of me; but she is artful, bold and serviceable—and I think faithful—or, if not, she will be true at least to her interest, and that I can command. I would I had not spoken, however—I have begun a hopeless work. For what has he said to me, to warrant my meddling in his fortunes?—Nothing but words of the most ordinary import—mere table- talk, and terms of course. Yet who knows"—she said, and then broke off, looking at the glass the while, which, as it reflected back a face of great beauty, probably suggested to her mind a more favourable conclusion of the sentence than she cared to trust her tongue withal.
So pitiful a thing is suitor's state! Most miserable man, whom wicked fate Hath brought to Court to sue, for had I wist, That few have found, and many a one hath miss'd! Full little knowest thou, that hast not tried, What hell it is, in sueing long to bide: To lose good days that might be better spent; To waste long nights in pensive discontent; To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow; To feed on hope, to pine with fear and sorrow; To have thy Prince's grace, yet want her Peers'; To have thy asking, yet wait many years; To fret thy soul with crosses and with cares— To eat thy heart through comfortless despairs. To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run, To spend, to give, to want, to be undone. Mother Hubbard's Tale.
On the morning of the day on which George Heriot had prepared to escort the young Lord of Glenvarloch to the Court at Whitehall, it may be reasonably supposed, that the young man, whose fortunes were likely to depend on this cast, felt himself more than usually anxious. He rose early, made his toilette with uncommon care, and, being enabled, by the generosity of his more plebeian countryman, to set out a very handsome person to the best advantage, he obtained a momentary approbation from himself as he glanced at the mirror, and a loud and distinct plaudit from his landlady, who declared at once, that, in her judgment, he would take the wind out of the sail of every gallant in the presence—so much had she been able to enrich her discourse with the metaphors of those with whom her husband dealt.
At the appointed hour, the barge of Master George Heriot arrived, handsomely manned and appointed, having a tilt, with his own cipher, and the arms of his company, painted thereupon.
The young Lord of Glenvarloch received the friend, who had evinced such disinterested attachment, with the kind courtesy which well became him.
Master Heriot then made him acquainted with the bounty of his sovereign; which he paid over to his young friend, declining what he had himself formerly advanced to him. Nigel felt all the gratitude which the citizen's disinterested friendship had deserved, and was not wanting in expressing it suitably.
Yet, as the young and high-born nobleman embarked to go to the presence of his prince, under the patronage of one whose best, or most distinguished qualification, was his being an eminent member of the Goldsmiths' Incorporation, he felt a little surprised, if not abashed, at his own situation; and Richie Moniplies, as he stepped over the gangway to take his place forward in the boat, could not help muttering,—"It was a changed day betwixt Master Heriot and his honest father in the Kraemes;—but, doubtless, there was a difference between clinking on gold and silver, and clattering upon pewter."
On they glided, by the assistance of the oars of four stout watermen, along the Thames, which then served for the principal high-road betwixt London and Westminster; for few ventured on horseback through the narrow and crowded streets of the city, and coaches were then a luxury reserved only for the higher nobility, and to which no citizen, whatever was his wealth, presumed to aspire. The beauty of the banks, especially on the northern side, where the gardens of the nobility descended from their hotels, in many places, down to the water's edge, was pointed out to Nigel by his kind conductor, and was pointed out in vain. The mind of the young Lord of Glenvarloch was filled with anticipations, not the most pleasant, concerning the manner in which he was likely to be received by that monarch, in whose behalf his family had been nearly reduced to ruin; and he was, with the usual mental anxiety of those in such a situation, framing imaginary questions from the king, and over-toiling his spirit in devising answers to them.
His conductor saw the labour of Nigel's mind, and avoided increasing it by farther conversation; so that, when he had explained to him briefly the ceremonies observed at Court on such occasions of presentation, the rest of their voyage was performed in silence.
They landed at Whitehall Stairs, and entered the Palace after announcing their names,—the guards paying to Lord Glenvarloch the respect and honours due to his rank.
The young man's heart beat high and thick within him as he came into the royal apartments. His education abroad, conducted, as it had been, on a narrow and limited scale, had given him but imperfect ideas of the grandeur of a Court; and the philosophical reflections which taught him to set ceremonial and exterior splendour at defiance, proved, like other maxims of mere philosophy, ineffectual, at the moment they were weighed against the impression naturally made on the mind of an inexperienced youth, by the unusual magnificence of the scene. The splendid apartments through which they passed, the rich apparel of the grooms, guards, and domestics in waiting, and the ceremonial attending their passage through the long suite of apartments, had something in it, trifling and commonplace as it might appear to practised courtiers, embarrassing, and even alarming, to one, who went through these forms for the first time, and who was doubtful what sort of reception was to accompany his first appearance before his sovereign.
Heriot, in anxious attention to save his young friend from any momentary awkwardness, had taken care to give the necessary password to the warders, grooms of the chambers, ushers, or by whatever name they were designated; so they passed on without interruption.
In this manner they passed several ante-rooms, filled chiefly with guards, attendants of the Court, and their acquaintances, male and female, who, dressed in their best apparel, and with eyes rounded by eager curiosity to make the most of their opportunity, stood, with beseeming modesty, ranked against the wall, in a manner which indicated that they were spectators, not performers, in the courtly exhibition.
Through these exterior apartments Lord Glenvarloch and his city friend advanced into a large and splendid withdrawing-room, communicating with the presence-chamber, into which ante-room were admitted those only who, from birth, their posts in the state or household, or by the particular grant of the kings, had right to attend the Court, as men entitled to pay their respects to their sovereign.
Amid this favoured and selected company, Nigel observed Sir Mungo Malagrowther, who, avoided and discountenanced by those who knew how low he stood in Court interest and favour, was but too happy in the opportunity of hooking himself upon a person of Lord Glenvarloch's rank, who was, as yet, so inexperienced as to feel it difficult to shake off an intruder.
The knight forthwith framed his grim features to a ghastly smile, and, after a preliminary and patronising nod to George Heriot, accompanied with an aristocratic wave of the hand, which intimated at once superiority and protection, he laid aside altogether the honest citizen, to whom he owed many a dinner, to attach himself exclusively to the young lord, although he suspected he might be occasionally in the predicament of needing one as much as himself. And even the notice of this original, singular and unamiable as he was, was not entirely indifferent to Lord Glenvarloch, since the absolute and somewhat constrained silence of his good friend Heriot, which left him at liberty to retire painfully to his own agitating reflections, was now relieved; while, on the other hand, he could not help feeling interest in the sharp and sarcastic information poured upon him by an observant, though discontented courtier, to whom a patient auditor, and he a man of title and rank, was as much a prize, as his acute and communicative disposition rendered him an entertaining companion to Nigel Olifaunt. Heriot, in the meantime, neglected by Sir Mungo, and avoiding every attempt by which the grateful politeness of Lord Glenvarloch strove to bring him into the conversation, stood by, with a kind of half smile on his countenance; but whether excited by Sir Mungo's wit, or arising at his expense, did not exactly appear.
In the meantime, the trio occupied a nook of the ante-room, next to the door of the presence-chamber, which was not yet thrown open, when Maxwell, with his rod of office, came bustling into the apartment, where most men, excepting those of high rank, made way for him. He stopped beside the party in which we are interested, looked for a moment at the young Scots nobleman, then made a slight obeisance to Heriot, and lastly, addressing Sir Mungo Malagrowther, began a hurried complaint to him of the misbehaviour of the gentlemen-pensioners and warders, who suffered all sort of citizens, suitors, and scriveners, to sneak into the outer apartments, without either respect or decency.—"The English," he said, "were scandalised, for such a thing durst not be attempted in the queen's days. In her time, there was then the court-yard for the mobility, and the apartments for the nobility; and it reflects on your place, Sir Mungo," he added, "belonging to the household as you do, that such things should not be better ordered."
Here Sir Mungo, afflicted, as was frequently the case on such occasions, with one of his usual fits of deafness, answered, "It was no wonder the mobility used freedoms, when those whom they saw in office were so little better in blood and havings than themselves."
"You are right, sir—quite right," said Maxwell, putting his hand on the tarnished embroidery on the old knight's sleeve,—"when such fellows see men in office dressed in cast-off suits, like paltry stage-players, it is no wonder the Court is thronged with intruders."
"Were you lauding the taste of my embroidery, Maister Maxwell?" answered the knight, who apparently interpreted the deputy- chamberlain's meaning rather from his action than his words;—"it is of an ancient and liberal pattern, having been made by your mother's father, auld James Stitchell, a master-fashioner of honest repute, in Merlin's Wynd, whom I made a point to employ, as I am now happy to remember, seeing your father thought fit to intermarry with sic a person's daughter."
Maxwell looked stern; but, conscious there was nothing to be got of Sir Mungo in the way of amends, and that prosecuting the quarrel with such an adversary would only render him ridiculous, and make public a mis-alliance of which he had no reason to be proud, he covered his resentment with a sneer; and, expressing his regret that Sir Mungo was become too deaf to understand or attend to what was said to him, walked on, and planted himself beside the folding-doors of the presence-chamber, at which he was to perform the duty of deputy- chamberlain, or usher, so soon as they should be opened.
"The door of the presence is about to open," said the goldsmith, in a whisper, to his young friend; "my condition permits me to go no farther with you. Fail not to present yourself boldly, according to your birth, and offer your Supplication; which the king will not refuse to accept, and, as I hope, to consider favourably."
As he spoke, the door of the presence-chamber opened accordingly, and, as is usual on such occasions, the courtiers began to advance towards it, and to enter in a slow, but continuous and uninterrupted stream.
As Nigel presented himself in his turn at the entrance, and mentioned his name and title, Maxwell seemed to hesitate. "You are not known to any one," he said. "It is my duty to suffer no one to pass to the presence, my lord, whose face is unknown to me, unless upon the word of a responsible person."
"I came with Master George Heriot," said Nigel, in some embarrassment at this unexpected interruption.
"Master Heriot's name will pass current for much gold and silver, my lord," replied Maxwell, with a civil sneer, "but not for birth and rank. I am compelled by my office to be peremptory.—The entrance is impeded—I am much concerned to say it—your lordship must stand back."
"What is the matter?" said an old Scottish nobleman, who had been speaking with George Heriot, after he had separated from Nigel, and who now came forward, observing the altercation betwixt the latter and Maxwell.
"It is only Master Deputy-Chamberlain Maxwell," said Sir Mungo Malagrowther, "expressing his joy to see Lord Glenvarloch at Court, whose father gave him his office—at least I think he is speaking to that purport—for your lordship kens my imperfection." A subdued laugh, such as the situation permitted, passed round amongst those who heard this specimen of Sir Mungo's sarcastic temper. But the old nobleman stepped still more forward, saying,—"What!—the son of my gallant old opponent, Ochtred Olifaunt—I will introduce him to the presence myself."
So saying, he took Nigel by the arm, without farther ceremony, and was about to lead him forward, when Maxwell, still keeping his rod across the door, said, but with hesitation and embarrassment—"My lord, this gentleman is not known, and I have orders to be scrupulous."
"Tutti—taiti, man," said the old lord, "I will be answerable he is his father's son, from the cut of his eyebrow—and thou, Maxwell, knewest his father well enough to have spared thy scruples. Let us pass, man." So saying, he put aside the deputy-chamberlain's rod, and entered the presence-room, still holding the young nobleman by the arm.
"Why, I must know you, man," he said; "I must know you. I knew your father well, man, and I have broke a lance and crossed a blade with him; and it is to my credit that I am living to brag of it. He was king's-man and I was queen's-man during the Douglas wars—young fellows both, that feared neither fire nor steel; and we had some old feudal quarrels besides, that had come down from father to son, with our seal-rings, two-harided broad-swords, and plate-coats, and the crests on our burgonets."
"Too loud, my Lord of Huntinglen," whispered a gentleman of the chamber,—"The King!—the King!"
The old earl (for such he proved) took the hint, and was silent; and James, advancing from a side-door, received in succession the compliments of strangers, while a little group of favourite courtiers, or officers of the household, stood around him, to whom he addressed himself from time to time. Some more pains had been bestowed on his toilette than upon the occasion when we first presented the monarch to our readers; but there was a natural awkwardness about his figure which prevented his clothes from sitting handsomely, and the prudence or timidity of his disposition had made him adopt the custom already noticed, of wearing a dress so thickly quilted as might withstand the stroke of a dagger, which added an ungainly stiffness to his whole appearance, contrasting oddly with the frivolous, ungraceful, and fidgeting motions with which he accompanied his conversation. And yet, though the king's deportment was very undignified, he had a manner so kind, familiar, and good-humoured, was so little apt to veil over or conceal his own foibles, and had so much indulgence and sympathy for those of others, that his address, joined to his learning, and a certain proportion of shrewd mother-wit, failed not to make a favourable impression on those who approached his person.
When the Earl of Huntinglen had presented Nigel to his sovereign, a ceremony which the good peer took upon himself, the king received the young lord very graciously, and observed to his introducer, that he "was fain to see them twa stand side by side; for I trow, my Lord Huntinglen," continued he, "your ancestors, ay, and e'en your lordship's self and this lad's father, have stood front to front at the sword's point, and that is a worse posture."
"Until your Majesty," said Lord Huntinglen, "made Lord Ochtred and me cross palms, upon the memorable day when your Majesty feasted all the nobles that were at feud together, and made them join hands in your presence—"
"I mind it weel," said the king; "I mind it weel—it was a blessed day, being the nineteen of September, of all days in the year—and it was a blithe sport to see how some of the carles girned as they clapped loofs together. By my saul, I thought some of them, mair special the Hieland chiels, wad have broken out in our own presence; but we caused them to march hand in hand to the Cross, ourselves leading the way, and there drink a blithe cup of kindness with ilk other, to the stanching of feud, and perpetuation of amity. Auld John Anderson was Provost that year—the carle grat for joy, and the bailies and councillors danced bare-headed in our presence like five- year-auld colts, for very triumph."
"It was indeed a happy day," said Lord Huntinglen, "and will not be forgotten in the history of your Majesty's reign."
"I would not that it were, my lord," replied the monarch—"I would not that it were pretermitted in our annals. Ay, ay—BEATI PACIFICI. My English lieges here may weel make much of me, for I would have them to know, they have gotten the only peaceable man that ever came of my family. If James with the Fiery Face had come amongst you," he said, looking round him, "or my great grandsire, of Flodden memory!"
"We should have sent him back to the north again," whispered one English nobleman.
"At least," said another, in the same inaudible tone, "we should have had a MAN to our sovereign, though he were but a Scotsman."
"And now, my young springald," said the king to Lord Glenvarloch, "where have you been spending your calf-time?"
"At Leyden, of late, may it please your Majesty," answered Lord Nigel.
"Aha! a scholar," said the king; "and, by my saul, a modest and ingenuous youth, that hath not forgotten how to blush, like most of our travelled Monsieurs. We will treat him conformably."
Then drawing himself up, coughing slightly, and looking around him with the conscious importance of superior learning, while all the courtiers who understood, or understood not, Latin, pressed eagerly forward to listen, the sapient monarch prosecuted his inquiries as follows:—
"Hem! hem! salve bis, quaterque salve, glenvarlochides noster! Nuperumne ab lugduno batavorum britanniam rediisti?"
The young nobleman replied, bowing low—
"Imo, rex augustissime—biennium fere apud lugdunenses Moratus sum."
"Biennium dicis? Bene, bene, optume factum est—non uno Die, quod dicunt,—intelligisti, domine glenvarlochiensis? Aha!"
Nigel replied by a reverent bow, and the king, turning to those behind him, said—
"Adolescens quidem ingenui vultus ingenuique pudoris." Then resumed his learned queries. "et quid hodie lugdunenses loquuntur—vossius vester nihilne novi scripsit?—nihil certe, quod doleo, typis recenter editit."
"Valet quidem vossius, rex benevole." replied Nigel, "ast senex veneratissimus annum agit, ni fallor, septuagesimum."
"Virum, mehercle, vix tam grandaevum crediderim," replied the monarch. "et vorstius iste?—arminii improbi successor aeque ac sectator—herosne adhuc, ut cum homero loquar, <ZOOS ESTI KAI EPI THONI DERKOV>?" text in Greek
Nigel, by good fortune, remembered that Vorstius, the divine last mentioned in his Majesty's queries about the state of Dutch literature, had been engaged in a personal controversy with James, in which the king had taken so deep an interest, as at length to hint in his public correspondence with the United States, that they would do well to apply the secular arm to stop the progress of heresy by violent measures against the Professor's person—a demand which their Mighty Mightinesses' principles of universal toleration induced them to elude, though with some difficulty. Knowing all this, Lord Glenvarloch, though a courtier of only five minutes' standing, had address enough to reply—
"Vivum quidem, haud diu est, hominem videbam—vigere autem quis dicat qui sub fulminibus eloquentiae tuae, rex magne, jamdudum pronus jacet, et prostratus?"
[Footnote: Lest any lady or gentleman should suspect there is aught of mystery concealed under the sentences printed in Italics, they will be pleased to understand that they contain only a few commonplace Latin phrases, relating to the state of letters in Holland, which neither deserve, nor would endure, a literal translation.]
This last tribute to his polemical powers completed James's happiness, which the triumph of exhibiting his erudition had already raised to a considerable height.
He rubbed his hands, snapped his fingers, fidgeted, chuckled, exclaimed—"Euge! Belle! Optime!" and turning to the Bishops of Exeter and Oxford, who stood behind him, he said.—"Ye see, my lords, no bad specimen of our Scottish Latinity, with which language we would all our subjects of England were as well embued as this, and other youths of honourable birth, in our auld kingdom; also, we keep the genuine and Roman pronunciation, like other learned nations on the continent, sae that we hold communing with any scholar in the universe, who can but speak the Latin tongue; whereas ye, our learned subjects of England, have introduced into your universities, otherwise most learned, a fashion of pronouncing like unto the 'nippit foot and clippit foot' of the bride in the fairy tale, whilk manner of speech, (take it not amiss that I be round with you) can be understood by no nation on earth saving yourselves; whereby Latin, quoad anglos, ceaseth to be communis lingua, the general dragoman, or interpreter, between all the wise men of the earth."
The Bishop of Exeter bowed, as in acquiescence to the royal censure; but he of Oxford stood upright, as mindful over what subjects his see extended, and as being equally willing to become food for fagots in defence of the Latinity of the university, as for any article of his religious creed.
The king, without awaiting an answer from either prelate, proceeded to question Lord Nigel, but in the vernacular tongue,—"Weel, my likely Alumnus of the Muses, and what make you so far from the north?"
"To pay my homage to your Majesty," said the young nobleman, kneeling on one knee, "and to lay before you," he added, "this my humble and dutiful Supplication."
The presenting of a pistol would certainly have startled King James more, but could (setting apart the fright) hardly have been more unpleasing to his indolent disposition.
"And is it even so, man?" said he; "and can no single man, were it but for the rarity of the case, ever come up frae Scotland, excepting EX PROPOSITO—on set purpose, to see what he can make out of his loving sovereign? It is but three days syne that we had weel nigh lost our life, and put three kingdoms into dule-weeds, from the over haste of a clumsy-handed peasant, to thrust a packet into our hand, and now we are beset by the like impediment in our very Court. To our Secretary with that gear, my lord—to our Secretary with that gear."
"I have already offered my humble Supplication to your Majesty's Secretary of State," said Lord Glenvarloch—"but it seems——"
"That he would not receive it, I warrant?" said the king, interrupting him; "bu my saul, our Secretary kens that point of king-craft, called refusing, better than we do, and will look at nothing but what he likes himsell—I think I wad make a better Secretary to him than he to me.—Weel, my lord, you are welcome to London; and, as ye seem an acute and learned youth, I advise ye to turn your neb northward as soon as ye like, and settle yoursell for a while at Saint Andrews, and we will be right glad to hear that you prosper in your studies.— Incumbite Remis Fortiter."
While the king spoke thus, he held the petition of the young lord carelessly, like one who only delayed till the supplicant's back was turned, to throw it away, or at least lay it aside to be no more looked at. The petitioner, who read this in his cold and indifferent looks, and in the manner in which he twisted and crumpled together the paper, arose with a bitter sense of anger and disappointment, made a profound obeisance, and was about to retire hastily. But Lord Huntinglen, who stood by him, checked his intention by an almost imperceptible touch upon the skirt of his cloak, and Nigel, taking the hint, retreated only a few steps from the royal presence, and then made a pause. In the meantime, Lord Huntinglen kneeled before James, in his turn, and said—"May it please your Majesty to remember, that upon one certain occasion you did promise to grant me a boon every year of your sacred life?"
"I mind it weel, man," answered James, "I mind it weel, and good reason why—it was when you unclasped the fause traitor Ruthven's fangs from about our royal throat, and drove your dirk into him like a true subject. We did then, as you remind us, (whilk was unnecessary,) being partly beside ourselves with joy at our liberation, promise we would grant you a free boon every year; whilk promise, on our coming to menseful possession of our royal faculties, we did confirm, restrictive always and conditionaliter, that your lordship's demand should be such as we, in our royal discretion, should think reasonable."
"Even so, gracious sovereign," said the old earl, "and may I yet farther crave to know if I have ever exceeded the bounds of your royal benevolence?"
"By my word, man, no!'" said the king; "I cannot remember you have asked much for yourself, if it be not a dog or a hawk, or a buck out of our park at Theobald's, or such like. But to what serves this preface?"
"To the boon to which I am now to ask of your Grace," said Lord Huntinglen; "which is, that your Majesty would be pleased, on the instant, to look at the placet of Lord Glenvarloch, and do upon it what your own just and royal nature shall think meet and just, without reference to your Secretary or any other of your Council."
"By my saul, my lord, this is strange," said the king; "ye are pleading for the son of your enemy!"
"Of one who WAS my enemy till your Majesty made him my friend," answered Lord Huntinglen.
"Weel spoken, my lord!" said the king; "and with, a true Christian spirit. And, respecting the Supplication of this young man, I partly guess where the matter lies; and in plain troth I had promised to George Heriot to be good to the lad—But then, here the shoe pinches. Steenie and Babie Charles cannot abide him—neither can your own son, my lord; and so, methinks, he had better go down to Scotland before he comes toill luck by them."
"My son, an it please your Majesty, so far as he is concerned, shall not direct my doings," said the earl, "nor any wild-headed young man of them all."
"Why, neither shall they mine," replied the monarch; "by my father's saul, none of them all shall play Rex with me—I will do what I will, and what I ought, like a free king."
"Your Majesty will then grant me my boon?" said the Lord Huntinglen.
"Ay, marry will I—marry will I," said the king; "but follow me this way, man, where we may be more private."
He led Lord Huntinglen with rather a hurried step through the courtiers, all of whom gazed earnestly on this unwonted scene, as is the fashion of all Courts on similar occasions. The king passed into a little cabinet, and bade, in the first moment, Lord Huntinglen lock or bar the door; but countermanded his direction in the next, saying,— "No, no, no—bread o' life, man, I am a free king—will do what I will and what I should—I am justus et tenax propositi, man— nevertheless, keep by the door, Lord Huntinglen, in case Steenie should come in with his mad humour."
"O my poor master!" groaned the Earl of Huntinglen. "When you were in your own cold country, you had warmer blood in your veins."
The king hastily looked over the petition or memorial, every now and then glancing his eye towards the door, and then sinking it hastily on the paper, ashamed that Lord Huntinglen, whom he respected, should suspect him of timidity.
"To grant the truth," he said, after he had finished his hasty perusal, "this is a hard case; and harder than it was represented to me, though I had some inkling of it before. And so the lad only wants payment of the siller due from us, in order to reclaim his paternal estate? But then, Huntinglen, the lad will have other debts—and why burden himsell with sae mony acres of barren woodland? let the land gang, man, let the land gang; Steenie has the promise of it from our Scottish Chancellor—it is the best hunting-ground in Scotland—and Babie Charles and Steenie want to kill a buck there this next year— they maun hae the land—they maun hae the land; and our debt shall be paid to the young man plack and bawbee, and he may have the spending of it at our Court; or if he has such an eard hunger, wouns! man, we'll stuff his stomach with English land, which is worth twice as much, ay, ten times as much, as these accursed hills and heughs, and mosses and muirs, that he is sae keen after."
All this while the poor king ambled up and down the apartment in a piteous state of uncertainty, which was made more ridiculous by his shambling circular mode of managing his legs, and his ungainly fashion on such occasions of fiddling with the bunches of ribbons which fastened the lower part of his dress.
Lord Huntinglen listened with great composure, and answered, "An it please your Majesty, there was an answer yielded by Naboth when Ahab coveted his vineyard—' The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.'"
"Ey, my lord—ey, my lord!" ejaculated James, while all the colour mounted both to his cheek and nose; "I hope ye mean not to teach me divinity? Ye need not fear, my lord, that I will shun to do justice to every man; and, since your lordship will give me no help to take up this in a more peaceful manner—whilk, methinks, would be better for the young man, as I said before,—why—since it maun be so—'sdeath, I am a free king, man, and he shall have his money and redeem his land, and make a kirk and a miln of it, an he will." So saying, he hastily wrote an order on the Scottish Exchequer for the sum in question, and then added, "How they are to pay it, I see not; but I warrant he will find money on the order among the goldsmiths, who can find it for every one but me.—And now you see, my Lord of Huntinglen, that I am neither an untrue man, to deny you the boon whilk I became bound for, nor an Ahab, to covet Naboth's vineyard; nor a mere nose-of-wax, to be twisted this way and that, by favourites and counsellors at their pleasure. I think you will grant now that I am none of those?"
"You are my own native and noble prince," said Huntinglen, as he knelt to kiss the royal hand—"just and generous, whenever you listen to the workings of your own heart."
"Ay, ay," said the king, laughing good-naturedly, as he raised his faithful servant from the ground, "that is what ye all say when I do any thing to please ye. There—there, take the sign-manual, and away with you and this young fellow. I wonder Steenie and Babie Charles have not broken in on us before now."
Lord Huntinglen hastened from the cabinet, foreseeing a scene at which he was unwilling to be present, but which sometimes occurred when James roused himself so far as to exert his own free will, of which he boasted so much, in spite of that of his imperious favourite Steenie, as he called the Duke of Buckingham, from a supposed resemblance betwixt his very handsome countenance, and that with which the Italian artists represented the protomartyr Stephen. In fact, the haughty favourite, who had the unusual good fortune to stand as high in the opinion of the heir-apparent as of the existing monarch, had considerably diminished in his respect towards the latter; and it was apparent, to the more shrewd courtiers, that James endured his domination rather from habit, timidity, and a dread of encountering his stormy passions, than from any heartfelt continuation of regard towards him, whose greatness had been the work of his own hands. To save himself the pain of seeing what was likely to take place on the duke's return, and to preserve the king from the additional humiliation which the presence of such a witness must have occasioned, the earl left the cabinet as speedily as possible, having first carefully pocketed the important sign-manual.
No sooner had he entered the presence-room, than he hastily sought Lord Glenvarloch, who had withdrawn into the embrasure of one of the windows, from the general gaze of men who seemed disposed only to afford him the notice which arises from surprise and curiosity, and, taking him by the arm, without speaking, led him out of the presence- chamber into the first ante-room. Here they found the worthy goldsmith, who approached them with looks of curiosity, which were checked by the old lord, who said hastily, "All is well.—Is your barge in waiting?" Heriot answered in the affirmative. "Then," said Lord Huntinglen, "you shall give me a cast in it, as the watermen say; and I, in requital, will give you both your dinner; for we must have some conversation together."
They both followed the earl without speaking, and were in the second ante-room when the important annunciation of the ushers, and the hasty murmur with which all made ample way as the company repeated to each other,—"The Duke—the Duke!" made them aware of the approach of the omnipotent favourite.
He entered, that unhappy minion of Court favour, sumptuously dressed in the picturesque attire which will live for ever on the canvas of Vandyke, and which marks so well the proud age, when aristocracy, though undermined and nodding to its fall, still, by external show and profuse expense, endeavoured to assert its paramount superiority over the inferior orders. The handsome and commanding countenance, stately form, and graceful action and manners of the Duke of Buckingham, made him become that picturesque dress beyond any man of his time. At present, however, his countenance seemed discomposed, his dress a little more disordered than became the place, his step hasty, and his voice imperative.
All marked the angry spot upon his brow, and bore back so suddenly to make way for him, that the Earl of Huntinglen, who affected no extraordinary haste on the occasion, with his companions, who could not, if they would, have decently left him, remained as it were by themselves in the middle of the room, and in the very path of the angry favourite. He touched his cap sternly as he looked on Huntinglen, but unbonneted to Heriot, and sunk his beaver, with its shadowy plume, as low as the floor, with a profound air of mock respect. In returning his greeting, which he did simply and unaffectedly, the citizen only said,—"Too much courtesy, my lord duke, is often the reverse of kindness."
"I grieve you should think so, Master Heriot," answered the duke; "I only meant, by my homage, to claim your protection, sir—your patronage. You are become, I understand, a solicitor of suits—a promoter—an undertaker—a fautor of court suitors of merit and quality, who chance to be pennyless. I trust your bags will bear you out in your new boast."
"They will bear me the farther, my lord duke," answered the goldsmith, "that my boast is but small."
"O, you do yourself less than justice, my good Master Heriot," continued the duke, in the same tone of irony; "you have a marvellous court-faction, to be the son of an Edinburgh tinker. Have the goodness to prefer me to the knowledge of the high-born nobleman who is honoured and advantaged by your patronage."
"That shall be my task," said Lord Huntinglen, with emphasis. "My lord duke, I desire you to know Nigel Olifaunt, Lord Glenvarloch, representative of one of the most ancient and powerful baronial houses in Scotland.—Lord Glenvarloch, I present you to his Grace the Duke of Buckingham, representative of Sir George Villiers, Knight of Brookesby, in the county of Leicester."
The duke coloured still more high as he bowed to Lord Glenvarloch scornfully, a courtesy which the other returned haughtily, and with restrained indignation. "We know each other, then," said the duke, after a moment's pause; and as if he had seen something in the young nobleman which merited more serious notice than the bitter raillery with which he had commenced—"we know each other—and you know me, my lord, for your enemy."
"I thank you for your plainness, my lord duke," replied Nigel; "an open enemy is better than a hollow friend."
"For you, my Lord Huntinglen," said the duke, "methinks you have but now overstepped the limits of the indulgence permitted to you, as the father of the prince's friend, and my own."
"By my word, my lord duke," replied the earl, "it is easy for any one to outstep boundaries, of the existence of which he was not aware. It is neither to secure my protection nor approbation, that my son keeps such exalted company."
"O, my lord, we know you, and indulge you," said the duke; "you are one of those who presume for a life-long upon the merit of one good action."
"In faith, my lord, and if it be so," said the old earl, "I have at least the advantage of such as presume more than I do, without having done any action of merit whatever. But I mean not to quarrel with you, my lord—we can neither be friends nor enemies—you have your path, and I have mine."
Buckingham only replied by throwing on his bonnet, and shaking its lofty plume with a careless and scornful toss of the head. They parted thus; the duke walking onwards through the apartments, and the others leaving the Palace and repairing to Whitehall Stairs, where they embarked on board the barge of the citizen.
Bid not thy fortune troll upon the wheels Of yonder dancing cubes of mottled bone; And drown it not, like Egypt's royal harlot, Dissolving her rich pearl in the brimm'd wine-cup. These are the arts, Lothario, which shrink acres Into brief yards—bring sterling pounds to farthings, Credit to infamy; and the poor gull, Who might have lived an honour'd, easy life, To ruin, and an unregarded grave. The Changes.
When they were fairly embarked on the Thames, the earl took from his pocket the Supplication, and, pointing out to George Heriot the royal warrant indorsed thereon, asked him, if it were in due and regular form? The worthy citizen hastily read it over, thrust forth his hand as if to congratulate the Lord Glenvarloch, then checked himself, pulled out his barnacles, (a present from old David Ramsay,) and again perused the warrant with the most business-like and critical attention. "It is strictly correct and formal," he said, looking to the Earl of Huntinglen; "and I sincerely rejoice at it."
"I doubt nothing of its formality," said the earl; "the king understands business well, and, if he does not practise it often, it is only because indolence obscures parts which are naturally well qualified for the discharge of affairs. But what is next to be done for our young friend, Master Heriot? You know how I am circumstanced. Scottish lords living at the English Court have seldom command of money; yet, unless a sum can be presently raised on this warrant, matters standing as you hastily hinted to me, the mortgage, wadset, or whatever it is called, will be foreclosed."
"It is true," said Heriot, in some embarrassment; "there is a large sum wanted in redemption—yet, if it is not raised, there will be an expiry of the legal, as our lawyers call it, and the estate will be evicted."
"My noble—my worthy friends, who have taken up my cause so undeservedly, so unexpectedly," said Nigel, "do not let me be a burden on your kindness. You have already done too much where nothing was merited."
"Peace, man, peace," said Lord Huntinglen, "and let old Heriot and I puzzle this scent out. He is about to open—hark to him!"
"My lord," said the citizen, "the Duke of Buckingham sneers at our city money-bags; yet they can sometimes open, to prop a falling and a noble house."
"We know they can," said Lord Huntinglen—"mind not Buckingham, he is a Peg-a-Ramsay—and now for the remedy."
"I partly hinted to Lord Glenvarloch already," said Heriot, "that the redemption money might be advanced upon such a warrant as the present, and I will engage my credit that it can. But then, in order to secure the lender, he must come in the shoes of the creditor to whom he advances payment."
"Come in his shoes!" replied the earl; "why, what have boots or shoes to do with this matter, my good friend?"
"It is a law phrase, my lord. My experience has made me pick up a few of them," said Heriot.
"Ay, and of better things along with them, Master George," replied Lord Huntinglen; "but what means it?"
"Simply this," resumed the citizen; "that the lender of this money will transact with the holder of the mortgage, or wadset, over the estate of Glenvarloch, and obtain from him such a conveyance to his right as shall leave the lands pledged for the debt, in case the warrant upon the Scottish Exchequer should prove unproductive. I fear, in this uncertainty of public credit, that without some such counter security, it will be very difficult to find so large a sum."
"Ho la!" said the Earl of Huntinglen, "halt there! a thought strikes me.—What if the new creditor should admire the estate as a hunting- field, as much as my Lord Grace of Buckingham seems to do, and should wish to kill a buck there in the summer season? It seems to me, that on your plan, Master George, our new friend will be as well entitled to block Lord Glenvarloch out of his inheritance as the present holder of the mortgage."
The citizen laughed. "I will engage," he said, "that the keenest sportsman to whom I may apply on this occasion, shall not have a thought beyond the Lord Mayor's Easter-Hunt, in Epping Forest. But your lordship's caution is reasonable. The creditor must be bound to allow Lord Glenvarloch sufficient time to redeem his estate by means of the royal warrant, and must wave in his favour the right of instant foreclosure, which may be, I should think, the more easily managed, as the right of redemption must be exercised in his own name."
"But where shall we find a person in London fit to draw the necessary writings?" said the earl. "If my old friend Sir John Skene of Halyards had lived, we should have had his advice; but time presses, and—"
"I know," said Heriot, "an orphan lad, a scrivener, that dwells by Temple Bar; he can draw deeds both after the English and Scottish fashion, and I have trusted him often in matters of weight and of importance. I will send one of my serving-men for him, and the mutual deeds may be executed in your lordship's presence; for, as things stand, there should be no delay." His lordship readily assented; and, as they now landed upon the private stairs leading down to the river from the gardens of the handsome hotel which he inhabited, the messenger was dispatched without loss of time.
Nigel, who had sat almost stupefied while these zealous friends volunteered for him in arranging the measures by which his fortune was to be disembarrassed, now made another eager attempt to force upon them his broken expressions of thanks and gratitude. But he was again silenced by Lord Huntinglen, who declared he would not hear a word on that topic, and proposed instead, that they should take a turn in the pleached alley, or sit upon the stone bench which overlooked the Thames, until his son's arrival should give the signal for dinner.
"I desire to introduce Dalgarno and Lord Glenvarloch to each other," he said, "as two who will be near neighbours, and I trust will be more kind ones than their fathers were formerly. There is but three Scots miles betwixt the castles, and the turrets of the one are visible from the battlements of the other."
The old earl was silent for a moment, and appeared to muse upon the recollections which the vicinity of the castles had summoned up.
"Does Lord Dalgarno follow the Court to Newmarket next week?" said Heriot, by way of removing the conversation.
"He proposes so, I think," answered Lord Huntinglen, relapsed into his reverie for a minute or two, and then addressed Nigel somewhat abruptly—
"My young friend, when you attain possession of your inheritance, as I hope you soon will, I trust you will not add one to the idle followers of the Court, but reside on your patrimonial estate, cherish your ancient tenants, relieve and assist your poor kinsmen, protect the poor against subaltern oppression, and do what our fathers used to do, with fewer lights and with less means than we have."
"And yet the advice to keep the country," said Heriot, "comes from an ancient and constant ornament of the Court."
"From an old courtier, indeed," said the earl, "and the first of my family that could so write himself—my grey beard falls on a cambric ruff and a silken doublet—my father's descended upon a buff coat and a breast-plate. I would not that those days of battle returned; but I should love well to make the oaks of my old forest of Dalgarno ring once more with halloo, and horn, and hound, and to have the old stone- arched hall return the hearty shout of my vassals and tenants, as the bicker and the quaigh walked their rounds amongst them. I should like to see the broad Tay once more before I die—not even the Thames can match it, in my mind."
"Surely, my lord," said the citizen, "all this might be easily done— it costs but a moment's resolution, and the journey of some brief days, and you will be where you desire to be—what is there to prevent you?"
"Habits, Master George, habits," replied the earl, "which to young men are like threads of silk, so lightly are they worn, so soon broken; but which hang on our old limbs as if time had stiffened them into gyves of iron. To go to Scotland for a brief space were but labour in vain; and when I think of abiding there, I cannot bring myself to leave my old master, to whom I fancy myself sometimes useful, and whose weal and woe I have shared for so many years. But Dalgarno shall be a Scottish noble."
"Has he visited the North?" said Heriot.
"He was there last year and made such a report of the country, that the prince has expressed a longing to see it." "Lord Dalgarno is in high grace with his Highness and the Duke of Buckingham?" observed the goldsmith.
"He is so," answered the earl,—"I pray it may be for the advantage of them all. The prince is just and equitable in his sentiments, though cold and stately in his manners, and very obstinate in his most trifling purposes; and the duke, noble and gallant, and generous and open, is fiery, ambitious, and impetuous. Dalgarno has none of these faults, and such as he may have of his own, may perchance be corrected by the society in which he moves.—See, here he comes."
Lord Dalgarno accordingly advanced from the farther end of the alley to the bench on which his father and his guests were seated, so that Nigel had full leisure to peruse his countenance and figure. He was dressed point-device, and almost to extremity, in the splendid fashion of the time, which suited well with his age, probably about five-and- twenty, with a noble form and fine countenance, in which last could easily be traced the manly features of his father, but softened by a more habitual air of assiduous courtesy than the stubborn old earl had ever condescended to assume towards the world in general. In other respects, his address was gallant, free, and unencumbered either by pride or ceremony—far remote certainly from the charge either of haughty coldness or forward impetuosity; and so far his father had justly freed him from the marked faults which he ascribed to the manners of the prince and his favourite Buckingham.
While the old earl presented his young acquaintance Lord Glenvarloch to his son, as one whom he would have him love and honour, Nigel marked the countenance of Lord Dalgarno closely, to see if he could detect aught of that secret dislike which the king had, in one of his broken expostulations, seemed to intimate, as arising from a clashing of interests betwixt his new friend and the great Buckingham. But nothing of this was visible; on the contrary, Lord Dalgarno received his new acquaintance with the open frankness and courtesy which makes conquest at once, when addressed to the feelings of an ingenuous young man.
It need hardly be told that his open and friendly address met equally ready and cheerful acceptation from Nigel Olifaunt. For many months, and while a youth not much above two-and-twenty, he had been restrained by circumstances from the conversation of his equals. When, on his father's sudden death, he left the Low Countries for Scotland, he had found himself involved, to all appearance inextricably, with the details of the law, all of which threatened to end in the alienation of the patrimony which should support his hereditary rank. His term of sincere mourning, joined to injured pride, and the swelling of the heart under unexpected and undeserved misfortune, together with the uncertainty attending the issue of his affairs, had induced the young Lord of Glenvarloch to live, while in Scotland, in a very private and reserved manner. How he had passed his time in London, the reader is acquainted with. But this melancholy and secluded course of life was neither agreeable to his age nor to his temper, which was genial and sociable. He hailed, therefore, with sincere pleasure, the approaches which a young man of his own age and rank made towards him; and when he had exchanged with Lord Dalgarno some of those words and signals by which, as surely as by those of freemasonry, young people recognise a mutual wish to be agreeable to each other, it seemed as if the two noblemen had been acquainted for some time.
Just as this tacit intercourse had been established, one of Lord Huntinglen's attendants came down the alley, marshalling onwards a man dressed in black buckram, who followed him with tolerable speed, considering that, according to his sense of reverence and propriety, he kept his body bent and parallel to the horizon from the moment that he came in sight of the company to which he was about to be presented.
"Who is this, you cuckoldy knave," said the old lord, who had retained the keen appetite and impatience of a Scottish baron even during a long alienation from his native country; "and why does John Cook, with a murrain to him, keep back dinner?"
"I believe we are ourselves responsible for this person's intrusion," said George Heriot; "this is the scrivener whom we desired to see.— Look up, man, and see us in the face as an honest man should, instead of beating thy noddle charged against us thus, like a battering-ram."
The scrivener did look up accordingly, with the action of an automaton which suddenly obeys the impulse of a pressed spring. But, strange to tell, not even the haste he had made to attend his patron's mandate, a business, as Master Heriot's message expressed, of weight and importance—nay not even the state of depression in which, out of sheer humility, doubtless, he had his head stooped to the earth, from the moment he had trod the demesnes of the Earl of Huntinglen, had called any colour into his countenance. The drops stood on his brow from haste and toil, but his cheek was still pale and tallow-coloured as before; nay, what seemed stranger, his very hair, when he raised his head, hung down on either cheek as straight and sleek and undisturbed as it was when we first introduced him to our readers, seated at his quiet and humble desk.
Lord Dalgarno could not forbear a stifled laugh at the ridiculous and puritanical figure which presented itself like a starved anatomy to the company, and whispered at the same time into Lord Glenvarloch's ear—
"The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon, Where got'st thou that goose-look?"
Nigel was too little acquainted with the English stage to understand a quotation which had already grown matter of common allusion in London. Lord Dalgarno saw that he was not understood, and continued, "That fellow, by his visage, should either be a saint, or a most hypocritical rogue—and such is my excellent opinion of human nature, that I always suspect the worst. But they seem deep in business. Will you take a turn with me in the garden, my lord, or will you remain a member of the serious conclave?"
"With you, my lord, most willingly," said Nigel; and they were turning away accordingly, when George Heriot, with the formality belonging to his station, observed, that, "as their business concerned Lord Glenvarloch, he had better remain, to make himself master of it, and witness to it."
"My presence is utterly needless, my good lord;-and, my best friend, Master Heriot," said the young nobleman, "I shall understand nothing the better for cumbering you with my ignorance in these matters; and can only say at the end, as I now say at the beginning, that I dare not take the helm out of the hand of the kind pilots who have already guided my course within sight of a fair and unhoped-for haven. Whatever you recommend to me as fitting, I shall sign and seal; and the import of the deeds I shall better learn by a brief explanation from Master Heriot, if he will bestow so much trouble in my behalf, than by a thousand learned words and law terms from this person of skill."
"He is right," said Lord Huntinglen; "our young friend is right, in confiding these matters to you and me, Master George Heriot—he has not misplaced his confidence."
Master George Heriot cast a long look after the two young noblemen, who had now walked down the alley arm-in-arm, and at length said, "He hath not, indeed, misplaced his confidence, as your lordship well and truly says—but, nevertheless, he is not in the right path; for it behoves every man to become acquainted with his own affairs, so soon as he hath any that are worth attending to."
When he had made this observation, they applied themselves, with the scrivener, to look into various papers, and to direct in what manner writings should be drawn, which might at once afford sufficient security to those who were to advance the money, and at the same time preserve the right of the young nobleman to redeem the family estate, provided he should obtain the means of doing so, by the expected reimbursement from the Scottish Exchequer, or otherwise. It is needless to enter into those details. But it is not unimportant to mention, as an illustration of character, that Heriot went into the most minute legal details with a precision which showed that experience had made him master even of the intricacies of Scottish conveyancing; and that the Earl of Huntinglen, though far less acquainted with technical detail, suffered no step of the business to pass over, until he had attained a general but distinct idea of its import and its propriety.
They seemed to be admirably seconded in their benevolent intentions towards the young Lord Glenvarloch, by the skill and eager zeal of the scrivener, whom Heriot had introduced to this piece of business, the most important which Andrew had ever transacted in his life, and the particulars of which were moreover agitated in his presence between an actual earl, and one whose wealth and character might entitle him to be an alderman of his ward, if not to be lord mayor, in his turn.
While they were thus in eager conversation on business, the good earl even forgetting the calls of his appetite, and the delay of dinner, in his anxiety to see that the scrivener received proper instructions, and that all was rightly weighed and considered, before dismissing him to engross the necessary deeds, the two young men walked together on the terrace which overhung the river, and talked on the topics which Lord Dalgarno, the elder, and the more experienced, thought most likely to interest his new friend.
These naturally regarded the pleasures attending a Court life; and Lord Dalgarno expressed much surprise at understanding that Nigel proposed an instant return to Scotland.
"You are jesting with me," he said. "All the Court rings—it is needless to mince it—with the extraordinary success of your suit— against the highest interest, it is said, now influencing the horizon at Whitehall. Men think of you—talk of you—fix their eyes on you— ask each other, who is this young Scottish lord, who has stepped so far in a single day? They augur, in whispers to each other, how high and how far you may push your fortune—and all that you design to make of it, is, to return to Scotland, eat raw oatmeal cakes, baked upon a peat-fire, have your hand shaken by every loon of a blue-bonnet who chooses to dub you cousin, though your relationship comes by Noah; drink Scots twopenny ale, eat half-starved red-deer venison, when you can kill it, ride upon a galloway, and be called my right honourable and maist worthy lord!"
"There is no great gaiety in the prospect before me, I confess," said Lord Glenvarloch, "even if your father and good Master Heriot should succeed in putting my affairs on some footing of plausible hope. And yet I trust to do something for my vassals as my ancestors before me, and to teach my children, as I have myself been taught, to make some personal sacrifices, if they be necessary, in order to maintain with dignity the situation in which they are placed by Providence."
Lord Dalgarno, after having once or twice stifled his laughter during this speech, at length broke out into a fit of mirth, so hearty and so resistless, that, angry as he was, the call of sympathy swept Nigel along with him, and despite of himself, he could not forbear to join in a burst of laughter, which he thought not only causeless, but almost impertinent.
He soon recollected himself, however, and said, in a tone qualified to allay Lord Dalgarno's extreme mirth: "This is all well, my lord; but how am I to understand your merriment?" Lord Dalgarno only answered him with redoubled peals of laughter, and at length held by Lord Glenvarloch's cloak, as if to prevent his falling down on the ground, in the extremity of his convulsion.
At length, while Nigel stood half abashed, half angry, at becoming thus the subject of his new acquaintance's ridicule, and was only restrained from expressing his resentment against the son, by a sense of the obligations he owed the father, Lord Dalgarno recovered himself, and spoke in a half-broken voice, his eyes still running with tears: "I crave your pardon, my dear Lord Glenvarloch—ten thousand times do I crave your pardon. But that last picture of rural dignity, accompanied by your grave and angry surprise at my laughing at what would have made any court-bred hound laugh, that had but so much as bayed the moon once from the court-yard at Whitehall, totally overcame me. Why, my liefest and dearest lord, you, a young and handsome fellow, with high birth, a title, and the name of an estate, so well received by the king at your first starting, as makes your further progress scarce matter of doubt, if you know how to improve it—for the king has already said you are a 'braw lad, and well studied in the more humane letters'—you, too, whom all the women, and the very marked beauties of the Court, desire to see, because you came from Leyden, were born in Scotland, and have gained a hard-contested suit in England—you, I say, with a person like a prince, an eye of fire, and a wit as quick, to think of throwing your cards on the table when the game is in your very hand, running back to the frozen north, and marrying—let me see—a tall, stalking, blue-eyed, fair-skinned bony wench, with eighteen quarters in her scutcheon, a sort of Lot's wife, newly descended from her pedestal, and with her to shut yourself up in your tapestried chamber! Uh, gad!—Swouns, I shall never survive the idea!"
It is seldom that youth, however high-minded, is able, from mere strength of character and principle, to support itself against the force of ridicule. Half angry, half mortified, and, to say truth, half ashamed of his more manly and better purpose, Nigel was unable, and flattered himself it was unnecessary, to play the part of a rigid moral patriot, in presence of a young man whose current fluency of language, as well as his experience in the highest circles of society, gave him, in spite of Nigel's better and firmer thoughts, a temporary ascendency over him. He sought, therefore, to compromise the matter, and avoid farther debate, by frankly owning, that, if to return to his own country were not his choice, it was at least a matter of necessity. "His affairs," he said, "were unsettled, his income precarious."
"And where is he whose affairs are settled, or whose income is less than precarious, that is to be found in attendance on the Court?" said Lord Dalgarno; "all are either losing or winning. Those who have wealth, come hither to get rid of it, while the happy gallants, who, like you and I, dear Glenvarloch, have little or none, have every chance to be sharers in their spoils."
"I have no ambition of that sort," said Nigel, "and if I had, I must tell you plainly, Lord Dalgarno, I have not the means to do so. I can scarce as yet call the suit I wear my own; I owe it, and I do riot blush to say so, to the friendship of yonder good man."
"I will not laugh again, if I can help it," said Lord Dalgarno. "But, Lord! that you should have gone to a wealthy goldsmith for your habit —why, I could have brought you to an honest, confiding tailor, who should have furnished you with half-a-dozen, merely for love of the little word, 'lordship,' which you place before your name;—and then your goldsmith, if he be really a friendly goldsmith, should have equipped you with such a purse of fair rose-nobles as would have bought you thrice as many suits, or done better things for you."
"I do not understand these fashions, my lord," said Nigel, his displeasure mastering his shame; "were I to attend the Court of my sovereign, it should be when I could maintain, without shifting or borrowing, the dress and retinue which my rank requires."
"Which my rank requires!" said Lord Dalgarno, repeating his last words; "that, now, is as good as if my father had spoke it. I fancy you would love to move to Court with him, followed by a round score of old blue-bottles, with white heads and red noses, with bucklers and broadswords, which their hands, trembling betwixt age and strong waters, can make no use of—as many huge silver badges on their arms, to show whose fools they are, as would furnish forth a court cupboard of plate—rogues fit for nothing but to fill our ante-chambers with the flavour of onions and genievre—pah!"
"The poor knaves!" said Lord Glenvarloch; "they have served your father, it may be, in the wars. What would become of them were he to turn them off?"
"Why, let them go to the hospital," said Dalgarno, "or to the bridge- end, to sell switches. The king is a better man than my father, and you see those who have served in HIS wars do so every day; or, when their blue coats were well worn out, they would make rare scarecrows. Here is a fellow, now, comes down the walk; the stoutest raven dared not come within a yard of that copper nose. I tell you, there is more service, as you will soon see, in my valet of the chamber, and such a lither lad as my page Lutin, than there is in a score of these old memorials of the Douglas wars, [Footnote: The cruel civil wars waged by the Scottish barons during the minority of James VI., had the name from the figure made in them by the celebrated James Douglas, Earl of Morton. Both sides executed their prisoners without mercy or favour.] where they cut each other's throats for the chance of finding twelve pennies Scots on the person of the slain. Marry, my lord, to make amends, they will eat mouldy victuals, and drink stale ale, as if their bellies were puncheons.—But the dinner-bell is going to sound— hark, it is clearing its rusty throat, with a preliminary jowl. That is another clamorous relic of antiquity, that, were I master, should soon be at the bottom of the Thames. How the foul fiend can it interest the peasants and mechanics in the Strand, to know that the Earl of Huntinglen is sitting down to dinner? But my father looks our way—we must not be late for the grace, or we shall be in DIS-grace, if you will forgive a quibble which would have made his Majesty laugh. You will find us all of a piece, and, having been accustomed to eat in saucers abroad, I am ashamed you should witness our larded capons, our mountains of beef, and oceans of brewis, as large as Highland hills and lochs; but you shall see better cheer to-morrow. Where lodge you? I will call for you. I must be your guide through the peopled desert, to certain enchanted lands, which you will scarce discover without chart and pilot. Where lodge you?"
"I will meet you in Paul's," said Nigel, a good deal embarrassed, "at any hour you please to name."
"O, you would be private," said the young lord; "nay, fear not me—I will be no intruder. But we have attained this huge larder of flesh, fowl, and fish. I marvel the oaken boards groan not under it."
They had indeed arrived in the dining-parlour of the mansion, where the table was superabundantly loaded, and where the number of attendants, to a certain extent, vindicated the sarcasms of the young nobleman. The chaplain, and Sir Mungo Malagrowther, were of the party. The latter complimented Lord Glenvarloch upon the impression he had made at Court. "One would have thought ye had brought the apple of discord in your pouch, my lord, or that you were the very firebrand of whilk Althea was delivered, and that she had lain-in in a barrel of gunpowder, for the king, and the prince, and the duke, have been by the lugs about ye, and so have many more, that kendna before this blessed day that there was such a man living on the face of the earth."
"Mind your victuals, Sir Mungo," said the earl; "they get cold while you talk." "Troth, and that needsna, my lord," said the knight; "your lordship's dinners seldom scald one's mouth—the serving-men are turning auld, like oursells, my lord, and it is far between the kitchen and the ha'."
With this little explosion of his spleen, Sir Mungo remained satisfied, until the dishes were removed, when, fixing his eyes on the brave new doublet of Lord Dalgarno, he complimented him on his economy, pretending to recognise it as the same which his father had worn in Edinburgh in the Spanish ambassador's time. Lord Dalgarno, too much a man of the world to be moved by any thing from such a quarter, proceeded to crack some nuts with great deliberation, as he replied, that the doublet was in some sort his father's, as it was likely to cost him fifty pounds some day soon. Sir Mungo forthwith proceeded in his own way to convey this agreeable intelligence to the earl, observing, that his son was a better maker of bargains than his lordship, for he had bought a doublet as rich as that his lordship wore when the Spanish ambassador was at Holyrood, and it had cost him but fifty pounds Scots;—"that was no fool's bargain, my lord."
"Pounds sterling, if you please, Sir Mungo," answered the earl, calmly; "and a fool's bargain it is, in all the tenses. Dalgarno WAS a fool when he bought—I will be a fool when I pay—and you, Sir Mungo, craving your pardon, are a fool in praesenti, for speaking of what concerns you not."
So saying, the earl addressed himself to the serious business of the table and sent the wine around with a profusion which increased the hilarity, but rather threatened the temperance, of the company, until their joviality was interrupted by the annunciation that the scrivener had engrossed such deeds as required to be presently executed.
George Heriot rose from the table, observing, that wine-cups and legal documents were unseemly neighbours. The earl asked the scrivener if they had laid a trencher and set a cup for him in the buttery and received the respectful answer, that heaven forbid he should be such an ungracious beast as to eat or drink until his lordship's pleasure was performed.
"Thou shalt eat before thou goest," said Lord Huntinglen; "and I will have thee try, moreover, whether a cup of sack cannot bring some colour into these cheeks of thine. It were a shame to my household, thou shouldst glide out into the Strand after such a spectre-fashion as thou now wearest—Look to it, Dalgarno, for the honour of our roof is concerned."
Lord Dalgarno gave directions that the man should be attended to. Lord Glenvarloch and the citizen, in the meanwhile, signed and interchanged, and thus closed a transaction, of which the principal party concerned understood little, save that it was under the management of a zealous and faithful friend, who undertook that the money should be forthcoming, and the estate released from forfeiture, by payment of the stipulated sum for which it stood pledged, and that at the term of Lambmas, and at the hour of noon, and beside the tomb of the Regent Earl of Murray, in the High Kirk of Saint Giles, at Edinburgh, being the day and place assigned for such redemption. [Footnote: As each covenant in those days of accuracy had a special place nominated for execution, the tomb of the Regent Earl of Murray in Saint Giles's Church was frequently assigned for the purpose.]
When this business was transacted, the old earl would fain have renewed his carouse; but the citizen, alleging the importance of the deeds he had about him, and the business he had to transact betimes the next morning, not only refused to return to table, but carried with him to his barge Lord Glenvarloch, who might, perhaps, have been otherwise found more tractable.
When they were seated in the boat, and fairly once more afloat on the river, George Heriot looked back seriously on the mansion they had left—"There live," he said, "the old fashion and the new. The father is like a noble old broadsword, but harmed with rust, from neglect and inactivity; the son is your modern rapier, well-mounted, fairly gilt, and fashioned to the taste of the time—and it is time must evince if the metal be as good as the show. God grant it prove so, says an old friend to the family."
Nothing of consequence passed betwixt them, until Lord Glenvarloch, landing at Paul's Wharf, took leave of his friend the citizen, and retired to his own apartment, where his attendant, Richie, not a little elevated with the events of the day, and with the hospitality of Lord Huntinglen's house-keeping, gave a most splendid account of them to the buxom Dame Nelly, who rejoiced to hear that the sun at length was shining upon what Richie called "the right side of the hedge."
You are not for the manner nor the times, They have their vices now most like to virtues; You cannot know them apait by any difference, They wear the same clothes, eat the same meat— Sleep i' the self-same beds, ride in those coaches, Or very like four horses in a coach, As the best men and women. Ben Jonson
On the following morning, while Nigel, his breakfast finished, was thinking how he should employ the day, there was a little bustle upon the stairs which attracted his attention, and presently entered Dame Nelly, blushing like scarlet, and scarce able to bring out—"A young nobleman, sir—no one less," she added, drawing her hand slightly over her lips, "would be so saucy—a young nobleman, sir, to wait on you!"
And she was followed into the little cabin by Lord Dalgarno, gay, easy, disembarrassed, and apparently as much pleased to rejoin his new acquaintance as if he had found him in the apartments of a palace. Nigel, on the contrary, (for youth is slave to such circumstances,) was discountenanced and mortified at being surprised by so splendid a gallant in a chamber which, at the moment the elegant and high-dressed cavalier appeared in it, seemed to its inhabitant, yet lower, narrower, darker, and meaner than it had ever shown before. He would have made some apology for the situation, but Lord Dalgarno cut him short—
"Not a word of it," he said, "not a single word—I know why you ride at anchor here—but I can keep counsel—so pretty a hostess would recommend worse quarters."