"Do they use such terms of me?" said Lord Nigel. "Death and the devil!"
"And the devil's dam, my lord," answered Richie; "they are all three busy in London.—And, besides, Lutin and his master laughed at you, my lord, for letting it be thought that—I shame to speak it—that ye were over well with the wife of the decent honest man whose house you but now left, as not sufficient for your new bravery, whereas they said, the licentious scoffers, that you pretended to such favour when you had not courage enough for so fair a quarrel, and that the sparrow-hawk was too craven-crested to fly at the wife of a cheesemonger."—He stopped a moment, and looked fixedly in his master's face, which was inflamed with shame and anger, and then proceeded. "My lord, I did you justice in my thought, and myself too; for, thought I, he would have been as deep in that sort of profligacy as in others, if it hadna been Richie's four quarters."
"What new nonsense have you got to plague me with?" said Lord Nigel. "But go on, since it is the last time I am to be tormented with your impertinence,—go on, and make the most of your time."
"In troth," said Richie, "and so will I even do. And as Heaven has bestowed on me a tongue to speak and to advise——"
"Which talent you can by no means be accused of suffering to remain idle," said Lord Glenvarloch, interrupting him.
"True, my lord," said Richie, again waving his hand, as if to bespeak his master's silence and attention; "so, I trust, you will think some time hereafter. And, as I am about to leave your service, it is proper that ye suld know the truth, that ye may consider the snares to which your youth and innocence may be exposed, when aulder and doucer heads are withdrawn from beside you.—There has been a lusty, good-looking kimmer, of some forty, or bygane, making mony speerings about you, my lord."
"Well, sir, what did she want with me?" said Lord Nigel.
"At first, my lord," replied his sapient follower, "as she seemed to be a well-fashioned woman, and to take pleasure in sensible company, I was no way reluctant to admit her to my conversation."
"I dare say not," said Lord Nigel; "nor unwilling to tell her about my private affairs."
"Not I, truly, my lord," said the attendant;—"for, though she asked me mony questions about your fame, your fortune, your business here, and such like, I did not think it proper to tell her altogether the truth thereanent."
"I see no call on you whatever," said Lord Nigel, "to tell the woman either truth or lies upon what she had nothing to do with."
"I thought so, too, my lord," replied Richie, "and so I told her neither."
"And what did you tell her, then, you eternal babbler?" said his master, impatient of his prate, yet curious to know what it was all to end in.
"I told her," said Richie, "about your warldly fortune, and sae forth, something whilk is not truth just at this time; but which hath been truth formerly, suld be truth now, and will be truth again,—and that was, that you were in possession of your fair lands, whilk ye are but in right of as yet. Pleasant communing we had on that and other topics, until she showed the cloven foot, beginning to confer with me about some wench that she said had a good-will to your lordship, and fain she would have spoken with you in particular anent it; but when I heard of such inklings, I began to suspect she was little better than —whew! "—Here he concluded his narrative with a low, but very expressive whistle.
"And what did your wisdom do in these circumstances?" said Lord Nigel, who, notwithstanding his former resentment, could now scarcely forbear laughing.
"I put on a look, my lord," replied Richie, bending his solemn brows, "that suld give her a heartscald of walking on such errands. I laid her enormities clearly before her, and I threatened her, in sae mony words, that I would have her to the ducking-stool; and she, on the contrair part, miscawed me for a forward northern tyke—and so we parted never to meet again, as I hope and trust. And so I stood between your lordship and that temptation, which might have been worse than the ordinary, or the playhouse either; since you wot well what Solomon, King of the Jews, sayeth of the strange woman—for, said I to mysell, we have taken to dicing already, and if we take to drabbing next, the Lord kens what we may land in!"
"Your impertinence deserves correction, but it is the last which, for a time at least, I shall have to forgive—and I forgive it," said Lord Glenvarloch; "and, since we are to part, Richie, I will say no more respecting your precautions on my account, than that I think you might have left me to act according to my own judgment."
"Mickle better not," answered Richie—"mickle better not; we are a' frail creatures, and can judge better for ilk ither than in our ain cases. And for me, even myself, saving that case of the Sifflication, which might have happened to ony one, I have always observed myself to be much more prudential in what I have done in your lordship's behalf, than even in what I have been able to transact for my own interest— whilk last, I have, indeed, always postponed, as in duty I ought."
"I do believe thou hast," said Lord Nigel, "having ever found thee true and faithful. And since London pleases you so little, I will bid you a short farewell; and you may go down to Edinburgh until I come thither myself, when I trust you will re-enter into my service."
"Now, Heaven bless you, my lord," said Richie Moniplies, with uplifted eyes; "for that word sounds more like grace than ony has come out of your mouth this fortnight.—I give you godd'en, my lord."
So saying, he thrust forth his immense bony hand, seized on that of Lord Glenvarloch, raised it to his lips, then turned short on his heel, and left the room hastily, as if afraid of showing more emotion than was consistent with his ideas of decorum. Lord Nigel, rather surprised at his sudden exit, called after him to know whether he was sufficiently provided with money; but Richie, shaking his head, without making any other answer, ran hastily down stairs, shut the street-door heavily behind him, and was presently seen striding along the Strand.
His master almost involuntarily watched and distinguished the tall raw-boned figure of his late follower, from the window, for some time, until he was lost among the crowd of passengers. Nigel's reflections were not altogether those of self-approval. It was no good sign of his course of life, (he could not help acknowledging this much to himself,) that so faithful an adherent no longer seemed to feel the same pride in his service, or attachment to his person, which he had formerly manifested. Neither could he avoid experiencing some twinges of conscience, while he felt in some degree the charges which Richie had preferred against him, and experienced a sense of shame and mortification, arising from the colour given by others to that, which he himself would have called his caution and moderation in play. He had only the apology, that it had never occurred to himself in this light.
Then his pride and self-love suggested, that, on the other hand, Richie, with all his good intentions, was little better than a conceited, pragmatical domestic, who seemed disposed rather to play the tutor than the lackey, and who, out of sheer love, as he alleged, to his master's person, assumed the privilege of interfering with, and controlling, his actions, besides rendering him ridiculous in the gay world, from the antiquated formality, and intrusive presumption, of his manners.
Nigel's eyes were scarce turned from the window, when his new landlord entering, presented to him a slip of paper, carefully bound round with a string of flox-silk and sealed—-it had been given in, he said, by a woman, who did not stop an instant. The contents harped upon the same string which Richie Moniplies had already jarred. The epistle was in the following words:
For the Right Honourable hands of Lord Glenvarloch, "These, from a friend unknown:—
"You are trusting to an unhonest friend, and diminishing an honest reputation. An unknown but real friend of your lordship will speak in one word what you would not learn from flatterers in so many days, as should suffice for your utter ruin. He whom you think most true—I say your friend Lord Dalgarno—is utterly false to you, and doth but seek, under pretence of friendship, to mar your fortune, and diminish the good name by which you might mend it. The kind countenance which he shows to you, is more dangerous than the Prince's frown; even as to gain at Beaujeu's ordinary is more discreditable than to lose. Beware of both.—And this is all from your true but nameless friend, IGNOTO."
Lord Glenvarloch paused for an instant, and crushed the paper together—then again unfolded and read it with attention—bent his brows—mused for a moment, and then tearing it to fragments, exclaimed—"Begone for a vile calumny! But I will watch—I will observe—"
Thought after thought rushed on him; but, upon the whole, Lord Glenvarloch was so little satisfied with the result of his own reflections, that he resolved to dissipate them by a walk in the Park, and, taking his cloak and beaver, went thither accordingly.
Twas when fleet Snowball's head was woxen grey, A luckless lev'ret met him on his way.— Who knows not Snowball—he, whose race renown'd Is still victorious on each coursing ground? Swaffhanm Newmarket, and the Roman Camp, Have seen them victors o'er each meaner stamp— In vain the youngling sought, with doubling wile, The hedge, the hill, the thicket, or the stile. Experience sage the lack of speed supplied, And in the gap he sought, the victim died. So was I once, in thy fair street, Saint James, Through walking cavaliers, and car-borne dames, Descried, pursued, turn'd o'er again, and o'er, Coursed, coted, mouth'd by an unfeeling bore. &c. &c. &c,
The Park of Saint James's, though enlarged, planted with verdant alleys, and otherwise decorated by Charles II., existed in the days of his grandfather, as a public and pleasant promenade; and, for the sake of exercise or pastime, was much frequented by the better classes.
Lord Glenvarloch repaired thither to dispel the unpleasant reflections which had been suggested by his parting with his trusty squire, Richie Moniplies, in a manner which was agreeable neither to his pride nor his feelings; and by the corroboration which the hints of his late attendant had received from the anonymous letter mentioned in the end of the last chapter.
There was a considerable number of company in the Park when he entered it, but, his present state of mind inducing him to avoid society, he kept aloof from the more frequented walks towards Westminster and Whitehall, and drew to the north, or, as we should now say, the Piccadilly verge of the enclosure, believing he might there enjoy, or rather combat, his own thoughts unmolested.
In this, however, Lord Glenvarloch was mistaken; for, as he strolled slowly along with his arms folded in his cloak, and his hat drawn over his eyes, he was suddenly pounced upon by Sir Mungo Malagrowther, who, either shunning or shunned, had retreated, or had been obliged to retreat, to the same less frequented corner of the Park.
Nigel started when he heard the high, sharp, and querulous tones of the knight's cracked voice, and was no less alarmed when he beheld his tall thin figure hobbling towards him, wrapped in a thread-bare cloak, on whose surface ten thousand varied stains eclipsed the original scarlet, and having his head surmounted with a well-worn beaver, bearing a black velvet band for a chain, and a capon's feather for an ostrich plume.
Lord Glenvarloch would fain have made his escape, but, as our motto intimates, a leveret had as little chance to free herself of an experienced greyhound. Sir Mungo, to continue the simile, had long ago learned to run cunning, and make sure of mouthing his game. So Nigel found himself compelled to stand and answer the hackneyed question— "What news to-day?"
"Nothing extraordinary, I believe," answered the young nobleman, attempting to pass on.
"O, ye are ganging to the French ordinary belive," replied the knight; "but it is early day yet—we will take a turn in the Park in the meanwhile—it will sharpen your appetite."
So saying, he quietly slipped his arm under Lord Glenvarloch's, in spite of all the decent reluctance which his victim could exhibit, by keeping his elbow close to his side; and having fairly grappled the prize, he proceeded to take it in tow.
Nigel was sullen and silent, in hopes to shake off his unpleasant companion; but Sir Mungo was determined, that if he did not speak, he should at least hear.
"Ye are bound for the ordinary, my lord?" said the cynic;—"weel, ye canna do better—there is choice company there, and peculiarly selected, as I am tauld, being, dootless, sic as it is desirable that young noblemen should herd withal—and your noble father wad have been blithe to see you keeping such worshipful society."
"I believe," said Lord Glenvarloch, thinking himself obliged to say something, "that the society is as good as generally can be found in such places, where the door can scarcely be shut against those who come to spend their money."
"Right, my lord—vera right," said his tormentor, bursting out into a chuckling, but most discordant laugh. "These citizen chuffs and clowns will press in amongst us, when there is but an inch of a door open. And what remedy?—Just e'en this, that as their cash gies them confidence, we should strip them of it. Flay them, my lord—singe them as the kitchen wench does the rats, and then they winna long to come back again.—Ay, ay—pluck them, plume them—and then the larded capons will not be for flying so high a wing, my lord, among the goss- hawks and sparrow-hawks, and the like."
And, therewithal, Sir Mungo fixed on Nigel his quick, sharp, grey eye, watching the effect of his sarcasm as keenly as the surgeon, in a delicate operation, remarks the progress of his anatomical scalpel.
Nigel, however willing to conceal his sensations, could not avoid gratifying his tormentor by wincing under the operation. He coloured with vexation and anger; but a quarrel with Sir Mungo Malagrowther would, he felt, be unutterably ridiculous; and he only muttered to himself the words, "Impertinent coxcomb!" which, on this occasion, Sir Mungo's imperfection of organ did not prevent him from hearing and replying to.
"Ay, ay—vera true," exclaimed the caustic old courtier—"Impertinent coxcombs they are, that thus intrude themselves on the society of their betters; but your lordship kens how to gar them as gude—ye have the trick on't.—They had a braw sport in the presence last Friday, how ye suld have routed a young shopkeeper, horse and foot, ta'en his spolia ofima, and a' the specie he had about him, down to the very silver buttons of his cloak, and sent him to graze with Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Muckle honour redounded to your lordship thereby.—We were tauld the loon threw himsell into the Thames in a fit of desperation. There's enow of them behind—there was mair tint on Flodden-edge."
"You have been told a budget of lies, so far as I am concerned, Sir Mungo," said Nigel, speaking loud and sternly.
"Vera likely—vera likely," said the unabashed and undismayed Sir Mungo; "naething but lies are current in the circle.—So the chield is not drowned, then?—the mair's the pity.—But I never believed that part of the story—a London dealer has mair wit in his anger. I dare swear the lad has a bonny broom-shank in his hand by this time, and is scrubbing the kennels in quest after rusty nails, to help him to begin his pack again.—He has three bairns, they say; they will help him bravely to grope in the gutters. Your good lordship may have the ruining of him again, my lord, if they have any luck in strand- scouring."
"This is more than intolerable," said Nigel, uncertain whether to make an angry vindication of his character, or to fling the old tormentor from his arm. But an instant's recollection convinced him, that, to do either, would only give an air of truth and consistency to the scandals which he began to see were affecting his character, both in the higher and lower circles. Hastily, therefore, he formed the wiser resolution, to endure Sir Mungo's studied impertinence, under the hope of ascertaining, if possible, from what source those reports arose which were so prejudicial to his reputation.
Sir Mungo, in the meanwhile, caught up, as usual, Nigel's last words, or rather the sound of them, and amplified and interpreted them in his own way. "Tolerable luck!" he repeated; "yes, truly, my lord, I am told that you have tolerable luck, and that ye ken weel how to use that jilting quean, Dame Fortune, like a canny douce lad, willing to warm yourself in her smiles, without exposing yourself to her frowns. And that is what I ca' having luck in a bag."
"Sir Mungo Malagrowther," said Lord Glenvarloch, turning towards him seriously, "have the goodness to hear me for a moment."
"As weel as I can, my lord—as weel as I can," said Sir Mungo, shaking his head, and pointing the finger of his left hand to his ear.
"I will try to speak very distinctly," said Nigel, arming himself with patience. "You take me for a noted gamester; I give you my word that you have not been rightly informed—I am none such. You owe me some explanation, at least, respecting the source from which you have derived such false information."
"I never heard ye were a great gamester, and never thought or said ye were such, my lord," said Sir Mungo, who found it impossible to avoid hearing what Nigel said with peculiarly deliberate and distinct pronunciation." I repeat it—I never heard, said, or thought that you were a ruffling gamester,—such as they call those of the first head. —Look you, my lord, I call him a gamester, that plays with equal stakes and equal skill, and stands by the fortune of the game, good or bad; and I call him a ruffling gamester, or ane of the first head, who ventures frankly and deeply upon such a wager. But he, my lord, who has the patience and prudence never to venture beyond small game, such as, at most, might crack the Christmas-box of a grocer's 'prentice, who vies with those that have little to hazard, and who therefore, having the larger stock, can always rook them by waiting for his good fortune, and by rising from the game when luck leaves him—such a one as he, my lord, I do not call a great gamester, to whatever other name he may be entitled."
"And such a mean-spirited, sordid wretch, you would infer that I am," replied Lord Glenvarloch; "one who fears the skilful, and preys upon the ignorant—who avoids playing with his equals, that he may make sure of pillaging his inferiors?—Is this what I am to understand has been reported of me?"
"Nay, my lord, you will gain nought by speaking big with me," said Sir Mungo, who, besides that his sarcastic humour was really supported by a good fund of animal courage, had also full reliance on the immunities which he had derived from the broadsword of Sir Rullion Rattray, and the baton of the satellites employed by the Lady Cockpen. "And for the truth of the matter," he continued, "your lordship best knows whether you ever lost more than five pieces at a time since you frequented Beaujeu's—whether you have not most commonly risen a winner—and whether the brave young gallants who frequent the ordinary—I mean those of noble rank, and means conforming—are in use to play upon those terms?"
"My father was right," said Lord Glenvarloch, in the bitterness of his spirit; "and his curse justly followed me when I first entered that place. There is contamination in the air, and he whose fortune avoids ruin, shall be blighted in his honour and reputation."
Sir Mungo, who watched his victim with the delighted yet wary eye of an experienced angler, became now aware, that if he strained the line on him too tightly, there was every risk of his breaking hold. In order to give him room, therefore, to play, he protested that Lord Glenvarloch "should not take his free speech in malam partem. If you were a trifle ower sicker in your amusement, my lord, it canna be denied that it is the safest course to prevent farther endangerment of your somewhat dilapidated fortunes; and if ye play with your inferiors, ye are relieved of the pain of pouching the siller of your friends and equals; forby, that the plebeian knaves have had the advantage, tecum certasse, as Ajax Telamon sayeth, apud Metamorphoseos; and for the like of them to have played with ane Scottish nobleman is an honest and honourable consideration to compensate the loss of their stake, whilk, I dare say, moreover, maist of the churls can weel afford."
"Be that as it may, Sir Mungo," said Nigel, "I would fain know—"
"Ay, ay," interrupted Sir Mungo; "and, as you say, who cares whether the fat bulls of Bashan can spare it or no? gentlemen are not to limit their sport for the like of them."
"I wish to know, Sir Mungo," said Lord Glenvarloch, "in what company you have learned these offensive particulars respecting me?"
"Dootless—dootless, my lord," said Sir Mungo; "I have ever heard, and have ever reported, that your lordship kept the best of company in a private way.—There is the fine Countess of Blackchester, but I think she stirs not much abroad since her affair with his Grace of Buckingham; and there is the gude auld-fashioned Scottish nobleman, Lord Huntinglen, an undeniable man of quality—it is pity but he could keep caup and can frae his head, whilk now and then doth'minish his reputation. And there is the gay young Lord Dalgarno, that carries the craft of gray hairs under his curled love-locks—a fair race they are, father, daughter, and son, all of the same honourable family. I think we needna speak of George Heriot, honest man, when we have nobility in question. So that is the company I have heard of your keeping, my lord, out-taken those of the ordinary."
"My company has not, indeed, been much more extended than amongst those you mention," said Lord Glenvarloch; "but in short—"
"To Court?" said Sir Mungo, "that was just what I was going to say— Lord Dalgarno says he cannot prevail on ye to come to Court, and that does ye prejudice, my lord—the king hears of you by others, when he should see you in person—I speak in serious friendship, my lord. His Majesty, when you were named in the circle short while since, was heard to say, 'Jacta est alea!—Glenvarlochides is turned dicer and drinker.'—My Lord Dalgarno took your part, and he was e'en borne down by the popular voice of the courtiers, who spoke of you as one who had betaken yourself to living a town life, and risking your baron's coronet amongst the flatcaps of the city."
"And this was publicly spoken of me," said Nigel, "and in the king's presence?"
"Spoken openly?" repeated Sir Mungo Malagrowther; "ay, by my troth was it—that is to say, it was whispered privately—whilk is as open promulgation as the thing permitted; for ye may think the Court is not like a place where men are as sib as Simmie and his brother, and roar out their minds as if they were at an ordinary."
"A curse on the Court and the ordinary both!" cried Nigel, impatiently.
"With all my heart," said the knight; "I have got little by a knight's service in the Court; and the last time I was at the ordinary, I lost four angels."
"May I pray of you, Sir Mungo, to let me know," said Nigel, "the names of those who thus make free with the character of one who can be but little known to them, and who never injured any of them?"
"Have I not told you already," answered Sir Mungo, "that the king said something to that effect—so did the Prince too;—and such being the case, ye may take it on your corporal oath, that every man in the circle who was not silent, sung the same song as they did."
"You said but now," replied Glenvarloch, "that Lord Dalgarno interfered in my behalf."
"In good troth did he," answered Sir Mungo, with a sneer; "but the young nobleman was soon borne down—by token, he had something of a catarrh, and spoke as hoarse as a roopit raven. Poor gentleman, if he had had his full extent of voice, he would have been as well listened to, dootless, as in a cause of his ain, whilk no man kens better how to plead to purpose.—And let me ask you, by the way," continued Sir Mungo, "whether Lord Dalgarno has ever introduced your lordship to the Prince, or the Duke of Buckingham, either of whom might soon carry through your suit?"
"I have no claim on the favour of either the Prince or the Duke of Buckingham," said Lord Glenvarloch.—"As you seem to have made my affairs your study, Sir Mungo, although perhaps something unnecessarily, you may have heard that I have petitioned my Sovereign for payment of a debt due to my family. I cannot doubt the king's desire to do justice, nor can I in decency employ the solicitation of his Highness the Prince, or his Grace the Duke of Buckingham, to obtain from his Majesty what either should be granted me as a right, or refused altogether."
Sir Mungo twisted his whimsical features into one of his most grotesque sneers, as he replied—
"It is a vera clear and parspicuous position of the case, my lord; and in relying thereupon, you show an absolute and unimprovable acquaintance with the King, Court, and mankind in general.-But whom have we got here?—Stand up, my lord, and make way—by my word of honour, they are the very men we spoke of—talk of the devil, and— humph!"
It must be here premised, that, during the conversation, Lord Glenvarloch, perhaps in the hope of shaking himself free of Sir Mungo, had directed their walk towards the more frequented part of the Park; while the good knight had stuck to him, being totally indifferent which way they went, provided he could keep his talons clutched upon his companion. They were still, however, at some distance from the livelier part of the scene, when Sir Mungo's experienced eye noticed the appearances which occasioned the latter part of his speech to Lord Glenvarloch. A low respectful murmur arose among the numerous groups of persons which occupied the lower part of the Park. They first clustered together, with their faces turned towards Whitehall, then fell back on either hand to give place to a splendid party of gallants, who, advancing from the Palace, came onward through the Park; all the other company drawing off the pathway, and standing uncovered as they passed.
Most of these courtly gallants were dressed in the garb which the pencil of Vandyke has made familiar even at the distance of nearly two centuries; and which was just at this period beginning to supersede the more fluttering and frivolous dress which had been adopted from the French Court of Henri Quatre.
The whole train were uncovered excepting the Prince of Wales, afterwards the most unfortunate of British monarchs, who came onward, having his long curled auburn tresses, and his countenance, which, even in early youth, bore a shade of anticipated melancholy, shaded by the Spanish hat and the single ostrich feather which drooped from it. On his right hand was Buckingham, whose commanding, and at the same time graceful, deportment, threw almost into shade the personal demeanour and majesty of the Prince on whom he attended. The eye, movements, and gestures of the great courtier were so composed, so regularly observant of all etiquette belonging to his situation, as to form a marked and strong contrast with the forward gaiety and frivolity by which he recommended himself to the favour of his "dear dad and gossip," King James. A singular fate attended this accomplished courtier, in being at once the reigning favourite of a father and son so very opposite in manners, that, to ingratiate himself with the youthful Prince, he was obliged to compress within the strictest limits of respectful observance the frolicsome and free humour which captivated his aged father.
It is true, Buckingham well knew the different dispositions both of James and Charles, and had no difficulty in so conducting himself as to maintain the highest post in the favour of both. It has indeed been supposed, as we before hinted, that the duke, when he had completely possessed himself of the affections of Charles, retained his hold in those of the father only by the tyranny of custom; and that James, could he have brought himself to form a vigorous resolution, was, in the latter years of his life especially, not unlikely to have discarded Buckingham from his counsels and favour. But if ever the king indeed meditated such a change, he was too timid, and too much accustomed to the influence which the duke had long exercised over him, to summon up resolution enough for effecting such a purpose; and at all events it is certain, that Buckingham, though surviving the master by whom he was raised, had the rare chance to experience no wane of the most splendid court-favour during two reigns, until it was at once eclipsed in his blood by the dagger of his assassin Felton.
To return from this digression: The Prince, with his train, advanced, and were near the place where Lord Glenvarloch and Sir Mungo had stood aside, according to form, in order to give the Prince passage, and to pay the usual marks of respect. Nigel could now remark that Lord Dalgarno walked close behind the Duke of Buckingham, and, as he thought, whispered something in his ear as they came onward. At any rate, both the Prince's and Duke of Buckingham's attention seemed to be directed by such circumstance towards Nigel, for they turned their heads in that direction and looked at him attentively—the Prince with a countenance, the grave, melancholy expression of which was blended with severity; while Buckingham's looks evinced some degree of scornful triumph. Lord Dalgarno did not seem to observe his friend, perhaps because the sunbeams fell from the side of the walk on which Nigel stood, obliging Malcolm to hold up his hat to screen his eyes.
As the Prince passed, Lord Glenvarloch and Sir Mungo bowed, as respect required; and the Prince, returning their obeisance with that grave ceremony which paid to every rank its due, but not a tittle beyond it, signed to Sir Mungo to come forward. Commencing an apology for his lameness as he started, which he had just completed as his hobbling gait brought him up to the Prince, Sir Mungo lent an attentive, and, as it seemed, an intelligent ear, to questions, asked in a tone so low, that the knight would certainly have been deaf to them had they been put to him by any one under the rank of Prince of Wales. After about a minute's conversation, the Prince bestowed on Nigel the embarrassing notice of another fixed look, touched his hat slightly to Sir Mungo, and walked on.
"It is even as I suspected, my lord," said Sir Mungo, with an air which he designed to be melancholy and sympathetic, but which, in fact, resembled the grin of an ape when he has mouthed a scalding chestnut—"Ye have back-friends, my lord, that is, unfriends—or, to be plain, enemies—about the person of the Prince."
"I am sorry to hear it," said Nigel; "but I would I knew what they accuse me of."
"Ye shall hear, my lord," said Sir Mungo, "the Prince's vera words— 'Sir Mungo,' said he, 'I rejoice to see you, and am glad your rheumatic troubles permit you to come hither for exercise.'—I bowed, as in duty bound—ye might remark, my lord, that I did so, whilk formed the first branch of our conversation.—His Highness then demanded of me, 'if he with whom I stood, was the young Lord Glenvarloch.' I answered, 'that you were such, for his Highness's service;' whilk was the second branch.—Thirdly, his Highness, resuming the argument, said, that 'truly he had been told so,' (meaning that he had been told you were that personage,) 'but that he could not believe, that the heir of that noble and decayed house could be leading an idle, scandalous, and precarious life, in the eating- houses and taverns of London, while the king's drums were beating, and colours flying in Germany in the cause of the Palatine, his son-in- law.'—I could, your lordship is aware, do nothing but make an obeisance; and a gracious 'Give ye good-day, Sir Mungo Malagrowther,' licensed me to fall back to your lordship. And now, my lord, if your business or pleasure calls you to the ordinary, or anywhere in the direction of the city—why, have with you; for, dootless, ye will think ye have tarried lang enough in the Park, as they will likely turn at the head of the walk, and return this way—and you have a broad hint, I think, not to cross the Prince's presence in a hurry."
"You may stay or go as you please, Sir Mungo," said Nigel, with an expression of calm, but deep resentment; "but, for my own part, my resolution is taken. I will quit this public walk for pleasure of no man—still less will I quit it like one unworthy to be seen in places of public resort. I trust that the Prince and his retinue will return this way as you expect; for I will abide, Sir Mungo, and beard them."
"Beard them!" exclaimed Sir Mungo, in the extremity of surprise,— "Beard the Prince of Wales—the heir-apparent of the kingdoms!—By my saul, you shall beard him yourself then."
Accordingly, he was about to leave Nigel very hastily, when some unwonted touch of good-natured interest in his youth and experience, seemed suddenly to soften his habitual cynicism.
"The devil is in me for an auld fule!" said Sir Mungo; "but I must needs concern mysell—I that owe so little either to fortune or my fellow-creatures, must, I say, needs concern mysell—with this springald, whom I will warrant to be as obstinate as a pig possessed with a devil, for it's the cast of his family; and yet I maun e'en fling away some sound advice on him.—My dainty young Lord Glenvarloch, understand me distinctly, for this is no bairn's-play. When the Prince said sae much to me as I have repeated to you, it was equivalent to a command not to appear in his presence; wherefore take an auld man's advice that wishes you weel, and maybe a wee thing better than he has reason to wish ony body. Jouk, and let the jaw gae by, like a canny bairn—gang hame to your lodgings, keep your foot frae taverns, and your fingers frae the dice-box; compound your affairs quietly wi' some ane that has better favour than yours about Court, and you will get a round spell of money to carry you to Germany, or elsewhere, to push your fortune. It was a fortunate soldier that made your family four or five hundred years syne, and, if you are brave and fortunate, you may find the way to repair it. But, take my word for it, that in this Court you will never thrive."
When Sir Mungo had completed his exhortation, in which there was more of sincere sympathy with another's situation, than he had been heretofore known to express in behalf of any one, Lord Glenvarloch replied, "I am obliged to you, Sir Mungo—you have spoken, I think, with sincerity, and I thank you. But in return for your good advice, I heartily entreat you to leave me; I observe the Prince and his train are returning down the walk, and you may prejudice yourself, but cannot help me, by remaining with me."
"And that is true,"—said Sir Mungo; "yet, were I ten years younger, I would be tempted to stand by you, and gie them the meeting. But at threescore and upward, men's courage turns cauldrife; and they that canna win a living, must not endanger the small sustenance of their age. I wish you weel through, my lord, but it is an unequal fight." So saying, he turned and limped away; often looking back, however, as if his natural spirit, even in its present subdued state, aided by his love of contradiction and of debate, rendered him unwilling to adopt the course necessary for his own security.
Thus abandoned by his companion, whose departure he graced with better thoughts of him than those which he bestowed on his appearance, Nigel remained with his arms folded, and reclining against a solitary tree which overhung the path, making up his mind to encounter a moment which he expected to be critical of his fate. But he was mistaken in supposing that the Prince of Wales would either address him, or admit him to expostulation, in such a public place as the Park. He did not remain unnoticed, however, for, when he made a respectful but haughty obeisance, intimating in look and manner that he was possessed of, and undaunted by, the unfavourable opinion which the Prince had so lately expressed, Charles returned his reverence with such a frown, as is only given by those whose frown is authority and decision. The train passed on, the Duke of Buckingham not even appearing to see Lord Glenvarloch; while Lord Dalgarno, though no longer incommoded by the sunbeams, kept his eyes, which had perhaps been dazzled by their former splendour, bent upon the ground.
Lord Glenvarloch had difficulty to restrain an indignation, to which, in the circumstances, it would have been madness to have given vent. He started from his reclining posture, and followed the Prince's train so as to keep them distinctly in sight; which was very easy, as they walked slowly. Nigel observed them keep their road towards the Palace, where the Prince turned at the gate and bowed to the noblemen in attendance, in token of dismissing them, and entered the Palace, accompanied only by the Duke of Buckingham, and one or two of his equerries. The rest of the train, having returned in all dutiful humility the farewell of the Prince, began to disperse themselves through the Park.
All this was carefully noticed by Lord Glenvarloch, who, as he adjusted his cloak, and drew his sword-belt round so as to bring the hilt closer to his hand, muttered—"Dalgarno shall explain all this to me, for it is evident that he is in the secret!"
Give way—give way—I must and will have justice. And tell me not of privilege and place; Where I am injured, there I'll sue redress. Look to it, every one who bars my access; I have a heart to feel the injury, A hand to night myself, and, by my honour, That hand shall grasp what grey-beard Law denies me. The Chamberlain.
It was not long ere Nigel discovered Lord Dalgarno advancing towards him in the company of another young man of quality of the Prince's train; and as they directed their course towards the south-eastern corner of the Park, he concluded they were about to go to Lord Huntinglen's. They stopped, however, and turned up another path leading to the north; and Lord Glenvarloch conceived that this change of direction was owing to their having seen him, and their desire to avoid him.
Nigel followed them without hesitation by a path which, winding around a thicket of shrubs and trees, once more conducted him to the less frequented part of the Park. He observed which side of the thicket was taken by Lord Dalgarno and his companion, and he himself, walking hastily round the other verge, was thus enabled to meet them face to face.
"Good-morrow, my Lord Dalgarno," said Lord Glenvarloch, sternly.
"Ha! my friend Nigel," answered Lord Dalgarno, in his usual careless and indifferent tone, "my friend Nigel, with business on his brow?— but you must wait till we meet at Beaujeu's at noon—Sir Ewes Haldimund and I are at present engaged in the Prince's service."
"If you were engaged in the king's, my lord," said Lord Glenvarloch, "you must stand and answer me."
"Hey-day!" said Lord Dalgarno, with an air of great astonishment, "what passion is this? Why, Nigel, this is King Cambyses' vein!—You have frequented the theatres too much lately—Away with this folly, man; go, dine upon soup and salad, drink succory-water to cool your blood, go to bed at sun-down, and defy those foul fiends, Wrath and Misconstruction."
"I have had misconstruction enough among you," said Glenvarloch, in the same tone of determined displeasure, "and from you, my Lord Dalgarno, in particular, and all under the mask of friendship."
"Here is a proper business!"—said Dalgarno, turning as if to appeal to Sir Ewes Haldimund; "do you see this angry ruffler, Sir Ewes? A month since, he dared not have looked one of yonder sheep in the face, and now he is a prince of roisterers, a plucker of pigeons, a controller of players and poets—and in gratitude for my having shown him the way to the eminent character which he holds upon town, he comes hither to quarrel with his best friend, if not his only one of decent station."
"I renounce such hollow friendship, my lord," said Lord Glenvarloch; "I disclaim the character which, even to my very face, you labour to fix upon me, and ere we part I will call you to a reckoning for it."
"My lords both," interrupted Sir Ewes Haldimund, "let me remind you that the Royal Park is no place to quarrel in."
"I will make my quarrel good," said Nigel, who did not know, or in his passion might not have recollected, the privileges of the place, "wherever I find my enemy."
"You shall find quarelling enough," replied Lord Dalgarno, calmly, "so soon as you assign a sufficient cause for it. Sir Ewes Haldimund, who knows the Court, will warrant you that I am not backward on such occasions.—But of what is it that you now complain, after having experienced nothing save kindness from me and my family?"
"Of your family I complain not," replied Lord Glenvarloch; "they have done for me all they could, more, far more, than I could have expected; but you, my lord, have suffered me, while you called me your friend, to be traduced, where a word of your mouth would have placed my character in its true colours—and hence the injurious message which I just now received from the Prince of Wales. To permit the misrepresentation of a friend, my lord, is to share in the slander."
"You have been misinformed, my Lord Glenvarloch," said Sir Ewes Haldimund; "I have myself often heard Lord Dalgarno defend your character, and regret that your exclusive attachment to the pleasures of a London life prevented your paying your duty regularly to the King and Prince."
"While he himself," said Lord Glenvarloch, "dissuaded me from presenting myself at Court."
"I will cut this matter short," said Lord Dalgarno, with haughty coldness. "You seem to have conceived, my lord, that you and I were Pylades and Orestes—a second edition of Damon and Pythias—Theseus and Pirithoiis at the least. You are mistaken, and have given the name of friendship to what, on my part, was mere good-nature and compassion for a raw and ignorant countryman, joined to the cumbersome charge which my father gave me respecting you. Your character, my lord, is of no one's drawing, but of your own making. I introduced you where, as in all such places, there was good and indifferent company to be met with—your habits, or taste, made you prefer the worse. Your holy horror at the sight of dice and cards degenerated into the cautious resolution to play only at those times, and with such persons, as might ensure your rising a winner—no man can long do so, and continue to be held a gentleman. Such is the reputation you have made for yourself, and you have no right to be angry that I do not contradict in society what yourself know to be true. Let us pass on, my lord; and if you want further explanation, seek some other time and fitter place."
"No time can be better than the present," said Lord Glenvarloch, whose resentment was now excited to the uttermost by the cold-blooded and insulting manner, in which Dalgarno vindicated himself,—"no place fitter than the place where we now stand. Those of my house have ever avenged insult, at the moment, and on the spot, where it was offered, were it at the foot of the throne.—Lord Dalgarno, you are a villain! draw and defend yourself." At the same moment he unsheathed his rapier.
"Are you mad?" said Lord Dalgarno, stepping back; "we are in the precincts of the Court."
"The better," answered Lord Glenvarloch; "I will cleanse them from a calumniator and a coward." He then pressed on Lord Dalgarno, and struck him with the flat of the sword.
The fray had now attracted attention, and the cry went round, "Keep the peace—keep the peace—swords drawn in the Park!—What, ho! guards!—keepers—yeomen—rangers!" and a number of people came rushing to the spot from all sides.
Lord Dalgarno, who had half drawn his sword on receiving the blow, returned it to his scabbard when he observed the crowd thicken, and, taking Sir Ewes Haldimund by the arm, walked hastily away, only saying to Lord Glenvarloch as they left him, "You shall dearly abye this insult—we will meet again."
A decent-looking elderly man, who observed that Lord Glenvarloch remained on the spot, taking compassion on his youthful appearance, said to him, "Are you aware that this is a Star-Chamber business, young gentleman, and that it may cost you your right hand?—Shift for yourself before the keepers or constables come up—Get into Whitefriars or somewhere, for sanctuary and concealment, till you can make friends or quit the city."
The advice was not to be neglected. Lord Glenvarloch made hastily towards the issue from the Park by Saint James's Palace, then Saint James's Hospital. The hubbub increased behind him; and several peace- officers of the Royal Household came up to apprehend the delinquent. Fortunately for Nigel, a popular edition of the cause of the affray had gone abroad. It was said that one of the Duke of Buckingham's companions had insulted a stranger gentleman from the country, and that the stranger had cudgelled him soundly. A favourite, or the companion of a favourite, is always odious to John Bull, who has, besides, a partiality to those disputants who proceed, as lawyers term it, par wye du fait, and both prejudices were in Nigel's favour. The officers, therefore, who came to apprehend him, could learn from the spectators no particulars of his appearance, or information concerning the road he had taken; so that, for the moment, he escaped being arrested.
What Lord Glenvarloch heard among the crowd as he passed along, was sufficient to satisfy him, that in his impatient passion he had placed himself in a predicament of considerable danger. He was no stranger to the severe and arbitrary proceedings of the Court of Star-Chamber, especially in cases of breach of privilege, which made it the terror of all men; and it was no farther back than the Queen's time that the punishment of mutilation had been actually awarded and executed, for some offence of the same kind which he had just committed. He had also the comfortable reflection, that, by his violent quarrel with Lord Dalgarno, he must now forfeit the friendship and good offices of that nobleman's father and sister, almost the only persons of consideration in whom he could claim any interest; while all the evil reports which had been put in circulation concerning his character, were certain to weigh heavily against him, in a case where much must necessarily depend on the reputation of the accused. To a youthful imagination, the idea of such a punishment as mutilation seems more ghastly than death itself; and every word which he overheard among the groups which he met, mingled with, or overtook and passed, announced this as the penalty of his offence. He dreaded to increase his pace for fear of attracting suspicion, and more than once saw the ranger's officers so near him, that his wrist tingled as if already under the blade of the dismembering knife. At length he got out of the Park, and had a little more leisure to consider what he was next to do.
Whitefriars, adjacent to the Temple, then well known by the cant name of Alsatia, had at this time, and for nearly a century afterwards, the privilege of a sanctuary, unless against the writ of the Lord Chief Justice, or of the Lords of the Privy-Council. Indeed, as the place abounded with desperadoes of every description,—bankrupt citizens, ruined gamesters, irreclaimable prodigals, desperate duellists, bravoes, homicides, and debauched profligates of every description, all leagued together to maintain the immunities of their asylum,—it was both difficult and unsafe for the officers of the law to execute warrants emanating even from the highest authority, amongst men whose safety was inconsistent with warrants or authority of any kind. This Lord Glenvarloch well knew; and odious as the place of refuge was, it seemed the only one where, for a space at least, he might be concealed and secure from the immediate grasp of the law, until he should have leisure to provide better for his safety, or to get this unpleasant matter in some shape accommodated.
Meanwhile, as Nigel walked hastily forward towards the place of sanctuary, he bitterly blamed himself for suffering Lord Dalgarno to lead him into the haunts of dissipation; and no less accused his intemperate heat of passion, which now had driven him for refuge into the purlieus of profane and avowed vice and debauchery.
"Dalgarno spoke but too truly in that," were his bitter reflections; "I have made myself an evil reputation by acting on his insidious counsels, and neglecting the wholesome admonitions which ought to have claimed implicit obedience from me, and which recommended abstinence even from the slightest approach of evil. But if I escape from the perilous labyrinth in which folly and inexperience, as well as violent passions, have involved me, I will find some noble way of redeeming the lustre of a name which was never sullied until I bore it."
As Lord Glenvarloch formed these prudent resolutions, he entered the Temple Walks, whence a gate at that time opened into Whitefriars, by which, as by the more private passage, he proposed to betake himself to the sanctuary. As he approached the entrance to that den of infamy, from which his mind recoiled even while in the act of taking shelter there, his pace slackened, while the steep and broken stairs reminded him of the facilis descensus Averni, and rendered him doubtful whether it were not better to brave the worst which could befall him in the public haunts of honourable men, than to evade punishment by secluding himself in those of avowed vice and profligacy.
As Nigel hesitated, a young gentleman of the Temple advanced towards him, whom he had often seen, and sometimes conversed with, at the ordinary, where he was a frequent and welcome guest, being a wild young gallant, indifferently well provided with money, who spent at the theatres and other gay places of public resort, the time which his father supposed he was employing in the study of the law. But Reginald Lowestoffe, such was the young Templar's name, was of opinion that little law was necessary to enable him to spend the revenues of the paternal acres which were to devolve upon him at his father's demose, and therefore gave himself no trouble to acquire more of that science than might be imbibed along with the learned air of the region in which he had his chambers. In other respects, he was one of the wits of the place, read Ovid and Martial, aimed at quick repartee and pun, (often very far fetched,) danced, fenced, played at tennis, and performed sundry tunes on the fiddle and French horn, to the great annoyance of old Counsellor Barratter, who lived in the chambers immediately below him. Such was Reginald Lowes-toffe, shrewd, alert, and well-acquainted with the town through all its recesses, but in a sort of disrespectable way. This gallant, now approaching the Lord Glenvarloch, saluted him by name and title, and asked if his lordship designed for the Chevalier's this day, observing it was near noon, and the woodcock would be on the board before they could reach the ordinary.
"I do not go there to-day," answered Lord Glenvarloch. "Which way, then, my lord?" said the young Templar, who was perhaps not undesirous to parade a part at least of the street in company with a lord, though but a Scottish one.
"I—I—" said Nigel, desiring to avail himself of this young man's local knowledge, yet unwilling and ashamed to acknowledge his intention to take refuge in so disreputable a quarter, or to describe the situation in which he stood—"I have some curiosity to see Whitefriars."
"What! your lordship is for a frolic into Alsatia?" said Lowestoffe-"- Have with you, my lord—you cannot have a better guide to the infernal regions than myself. I promise you there are bona-robas to be found there—good wine too, ay, and good fellows to drink it with, though somewhat suffering under the frowns of Fortune. But your lordship will pardon me—you are the last of our acquaintance to whom I would have proposed such a voyage of discovery."
"I am obliged to you, Master Lowestoffe, for the good opinion you have expressed in the observation," said Lord Glenvarloch; "but my present circumstances may render even a residence of a day or two in the sanctuary a matter of necessity."
"Indeed!" said Lowestoffe, in a tone of great surprise; "I thought your lordship had always taken care not to risk any considerable stake—I beg pardon, but if the bones have proved perfidious, I know just so much law as that a peer's person is sacred from arrest; and for mere impecuniosity, my lord, better shift can be made elsewhere than in Whitefriars, where all are devouring each other for very poverty."
"My misfortune has no connexion with want of money," said Nigel.
"Why, then, I suppose," said Lowestoffe, "you have been tilting, my lord, and have pinked your man; in which case, and with a purse reasonably furnished, you may lie perdu in Whitefriars for a twelvemonth—Marry, but you must be entered and received as a member of their worshipful society, my lord, and a frank burgher of Alsatia— so far you must condescend; there will be neither peace nor safety for you else."
"My fault is not in a degree so deadly, Master Lowestoffe," answered Lord Glenvarloch, "as you seem to conjecture—I have stricken a gentleman in the Park, that is all."
"By my hand, my lord, and you had better have struck your sword through him at Barns Elms," said the Templar. "Strike within the verge of the Court! You will find that a weighty dependence upon your hands, especially if your party be of rank and have favour."
"I will be plain with you, Master Lowestoffe," said Nigel, "since I have gone thus far. The person I struck was Lord Dalgarno, whom you have seen at Beaujeu's."
"A follower and favourite of the Duke of Buckingham!—It is a most unhappy chance, my lord; but my heart was formed in England, and cannot bear to see a young nobleman borne down, as you are like to be. We converse here greatly too open for your circumstances. The Templars would suffer no bailiff to execute a writ, and no gentleman to be arrested for a duel, within their precincts; but in such a matter between Lord Dalgarno and your lordship, there might be a party on either side. You must away with me instantly to my poor chambers here, hard by, and undergo some little change of dress, ere you take sanctuary; for else you will have the whole rascal rout of the Friars about you, like crows upon a falcon that strays into their rookery. We must have you arrayed something more like the natives of Alsatia, or there will be no life there for you."
While Lowestoffe spoke, he pulled Lord Glenvarloch along with him into his chambers, where he had a handsome library, filled with all the poems and play-books which were then in fashion. The Templar then dispatched a boy, who waited upon him, to procure a dish or two from the next cook's shop; "and this," he said, "must be your lordship's dinner, with a glass of old sack, of which my grandmother (the heavens requite her!) sent me a dozen bottles, with charge to use the liquor only with clarified whey, when I felt my breast ache with over study. Marry, we will drink the good lady's health in it, if it is your lordship's pleasure, and you shall see how we poor students eke out our mutton-commons in the hall."
The outward door of the chambers was barred so soon as the boy had re- entered with the food; the boy was ordered to keep close watch, and admit no one; and Lowestoffe, by example and precept, pressed his noble guest to partake of his hospitality. His frank and forward manners, though much differing from the courtly ease of Lord Dalgarno, were calculated to make a favourable impression; and Lord Glenvarloch, though his experience of Dalgarno's perfidy had taught him to be cautious of reposing faith in friendly professions, could not avoid testifying his gratitude to the young Templar, who seemed so anxious for his safety and accommodation.
"You may spare your gratitude any great sense of obligation, my lord," said the Templar. "No doubt I am willing to be of use to any gentleman that has cause to sing Fortune my foe, and particularly proud to serve your lordship's turn; but I have also an old grudge, to speak Heaven's truth, at your opposite, Lord Dalgarno."
"May I ask on what account, Master Lowestoffe?" said Lord Glenvarloch.
"O, my lord," replied the Templar, "it was for a hap that chanced after you left the ordinary, one evening about three weeks since—at least I think you were not by, as your lordship always left us before deep play began—I mean no offence, but such was your lordship's custom—when there were words between Lord Dalgarno and me concerning a certain game at gleek, and a certain mournival of aces held by his lordship, which went for eight—tib, which went for fifteen—twenty- three in all. Now I held king and queen, being three—a natural towser, making fifteen—and tiddy, nineteen. We vied the ruff, and revied, as your lordship may suppose, till the stake was equal to half my yearly exhibition, fifty as fair yellow canary birds as e'er chirped in the bottom of a green silk purse. Well, my lord, I gained the cards, and lo you! it pleases his lordship to say that we played without tiddy; and as the rest stood by and backed him, and especially the sharking Frenchman, why, I was obliged to lose more than I shall gain all the season.—So judge if I have not a crow to pluck with his lordship. Was it ever heard there was a game at gleek at the ordinary before, without counting tiddy?—marry quep upon his lordship!—Every man who comes there with his purse in his hand, is as free to make new laws as he, I hope, since touch pot touch penny makes every man equal."
As Master Lowestoffe ran over this jargon of the gaming-table, Lord Glenvarloch was both ashamed and mortified, and felt a severe pang of aristocratic pride, when he concluded in the sweeping clause that the dice, like the grave, levelled those distinguishing points of society, to which Nigel's early prejudices clung perhaps but too fondly. It was impossible, however, to object any thing to the learned reasoning of the young Templar, and therefore Nigel was contented to turn the conversation, by making some inquiries respecting the present state of White-friars. There also his host was at home.
"You know, my lord," said Master Lowestoffe, "that we Templars are a power and a dominion within ourselves, and I am proud to say that I hold some rank in our republic—was treasurer to the Lord of Misrule last year, and am at this present moment in nomination for that dignity myself. In such circumstances, we are under the necessity of maintaining an amicable intercourse with our neighbours of Alsatia, even as the Christian States find themselves often, in mere policy, obliged to make alliance with the Grand Turk, or the Barbary States."
"I should have imagined you gentlemen of the Temple more independent of your neighbours," said Lord Glenvarloch.
"You do us something too much honour, my lord," said the Templar; "the Alsatians and we have some common enemies, and we have, under the rose, some common friends. We are in the use of blocking all bailiffs out of our bounds, and we are powerfully aided by our neighbours, who tolerate not a rag belonging to them within theirs. Moreover the Alsatians have—I beg you to understand me—the power of protecting or distressing our friends, male or female, who may be obliged to seek sanctuary within their bounds. In short, the two communities serve each other, though the league is between states of unequal quality, and I may myself say, that I have treated of sundry weighty affairs, and have been a negotiator well approved on both sides.—But hark— hark—what is that?"
The sound by which Master Lowestoffe was interrupted, was that of a distant horn, winded loud and keenly, and followed by a faint and remote huzza.
"There is something doing," said Lowestoffe, "in the Whitefriars at this moment. That is the signal when their privileges are invaded by tipstaff or bailiff; and at the blast of the horn they all swarm out to the rescue, as bees when their hive is disturbed.—Jump, Jim," he said, calling out to the attendant, "and see what they are doing in Alsatia.—That bastard of a boy," he continued, as the lad, accustomed to the precipitate haste of his master, tumbled rather than ran out of the apartment, and so down stairs, "is worth gold in this quarter—he serves six masters—four of them in distinct Numbers, and you would think him present like a fairy at the mere wish of him that for the time most needs his attendance. No scout in Oxford, no gip in Cambridge, ever matched him in speed and intelligence. He knows the step of a dun from that of a client, when it reaches the very bottom of the staircase; can tell the trip of a pretty wench from the step of a bencher, when at the upper end of the court; and is, take him all in all—But I see your lordship is anxious—May I press another cup of my kind grandmother's cordial, or will you allow me to show you my wardrobe, and act as your valet or groom of the chamber?"
Lord Glenvarloch hesitated not to acknowledge that he was painfully sensible of his present situation, and anxious to do what must needs be done for his extrication.
The good-natured and thoughtless young Templar readily acquiesced, and led the way into his little bedroom, where, from bandboxes, portmanteaus, mail-trunks, not forgetting an old walnut-tree wardrobe, he began to select the articles which he thought best suited effectually to disguise his guest in venturing into the lawless and turbulent society of Alsatia.
Come hither, young one,—Mark me! Thou art now 'Mongst men o' the sword, that live by reputation More than by constant income—Single-suited They are, I grant you; yet each single suit Maintains, on the rough guess, a thousand followers— And they be men, who, hazarding their all, Needful apparel, necessary income, And human body, and immortal soul, Do in the very deed but hazard nothing— So strictly is that ALL bound in reversion; Clothes to the broker, income to the usurer, And body to disease, and soul to the foul fiend; Who laughs to see Soldadoes and Fooladoes, Play better than himself his game on earth. The Mohocks.
"Your lordship," said Reginald Lowestoffe, "must be content to exchange your decent and court-beseeming rapier, which I will retain in safe keeping, for this broadsword, with an hundredweight of rusty iron about the hilt, and to wear these huge-paned slops, instead of your civil and moderate hose. We allow no cloak, for your ruffian always walks in cuerpo; and the tarnished doublet of bald velvet, with its discoloured embroidery, and—I grieve to speak it—a few stains from the blood of the grape, will best suit the garb of a roaring boy. I will leave you to change your suit for an instant, till I can help to truss you."
Lowestoffe retired, while slowly, and with hesitation, Nigel obeyed his instructions. He felt displeasure and disgust at the scoundrelly disguise which he was under the necessity of assuming; but when he considered the bloody consequences which law attached to his rash act of violence, the easy and indifferent temper of James, the prejudices of his son, the overbearing influence of the Duke of Buckingham, which was sure to be thrown into the scale against him; and, above all, when he reflected that he must now look upon the active, assiduous, and insinuating Lord Dalgarno, as a bitter enemy, reason told him he was in a situation of peril which authorised all honest means, even the most unseemly in outward appearance, to extricate himself from so dangerous a predicament.
While he was changing his dress, and musing on these particulars, his friendly host re-entered the sleeping apartment—"Zounds!" he said, "my lord, it was well you went not straight into that same Alsatia of ours at the time you proposed, for the hawks have stooped upon it. Here is Jem come back with tidings, that he saw a pursuivant there with a privy-council warrant, and half a score of yeomen assistants, armed to the teeth, and the horn which we heard was sounded to call out the posse of the Friars. Indeed, when old Duke Hildebrod saw that the quest was after some one of whom he knew nothing, he permitted, out of courtesy, the man-catcher to search through his dominions, quite certain that they would take little by their motions; for Duke Hildebrod is a most judicious potentate.—Go back, you bastard, and bring us word when all is quiet."
"And who may Duke Hildebrod be?" said Lord Glenvarloch.
"Nouns! my lord," said the Templar, "have you lived so long on the town, and never heard of the valiant, and as wise and politic as valiant, Duke Hildebrod, grand protector of the liberties of Alsatia? I thought the man had never whirled a die but was familiar with his fame."
"Yet I have never heard of him, Master Lowestoffe," said Lord Glenvarloch; "or, what is the same thing, I have paid no attention to aught that may have passed in conversation respecting him."
"Why, then," said Lowestoffe—"but, first, let me have the honour of trussing you. Now, observe, I have left several of the points untied, of set purpose; and if it please you to let a small portion of your shirt be seen betwixt your doublet and the band of your upper stock, it will have so much the more rakish effect, and will attract you respect in Alsatia, where linen is something scarce. Now, I tie some of the points carefully asquint, for your ruffianly gallant never appears too accurately trussed—so."
"Arrange it as you will, sir," said Nigel; "but let me hear at least something of the conditions of the unhappy district into which, with other wretches, I am compelled to retreat."
"Why, my lord," replied the Templar, "our neighbouring state of Alsatia, which the law calls the Sanctuary of White-friars, has had its mutations and revolutions like greater kingdoms; and, being in some sort a lawless, arbitrary government, it follows, of course, that these have been more frequent than our own better regulated commonwealth of the Templars, that of Gray's Inn, and other similar associations, have had the fortune to witness. Our traditions and records speak of twenty revolutions within the last twelve years, in which the aforesaid state has repeatedly changed from absolute despotism to republicanism, not forgetting the intermediate stages of oligarchy, limited monarchy, and even gynocracy; for I myself remember Alsatia governed for nearly nine months by an old fish-woman. 'I hen it fell under the dominion of a broken attorney, who was dethroned by a reformado captain, who, proving tyrannical, was deposed by a hedgeparson, who was succeeded, upon resignation of his power, by Duke Jacob Hildebrod, of that name the first, whom Heaven long preserve."
"And is this potentate's government," said Lord Glenvarloch, forcing himself to take some interest in the conversation, "of a despotic character?"
"Pardon me, my lord," said the Templar; "this said sovereign is too wise to incur, like many of his predecessors, the odium of wielding so important an authority by his own sole will. He has established a council of state, who regularly meet for their morning's draught at seven o'clock; convene a second time at eleven for their ante- meridiem, or whet; and, assembling in solemn conclave at the hour of two afternoon, for the purpose of consulting for the good of the commonwealth, are so prodigal of their labour in the service of the state, that they seldom separate before midnight. Into this worthy senate, composed partly of Duke Hildebrod's predecessors in his high office, whom he has associated with him to prevent the envy attending sovereign and sole authority, I must presently introduce your lordship, that they may admit you to the immunities of the Friars, and assign you a place of residence."
"Does their authority extend to such regulation?" said Lord Glenvarloch.
"The council account it a main point of their privileges, my lord," answered Lowestoffe; "and, in fact, it is one of the most powerful means by which they support their authority. For when Duke Ilildebrod and his senate find a topping householder in the Friars becomes discontented and factious, it is but assigning him, for a lodger, some fat bankrupt, or new lesidenter, whose circumstances require refuge, and whose purse can pay for it, and the malecontent becomes as tractable as a lamb. As for the poorer refugees, they let them shift as they can; but the registration of their names in the Duke's entry- book, and the payment of garnish conforming to their circumstances, is never dispensed with; and the Friars would be a very unsafe residence for the stranger who should dispute these points of jurisdiction."
"Well, Master Lowestoffe," said Lord Glenvarloch, "I must be controlled by the circumstances which dictate to me this state of concealment—of course, I am desirous not to betray my name and rank."
"It will be highly advisable, my lord," said Lowestoffe; "and is a case thus provided for in the statutes of the republic, or monarchy, or whatsoever you call it.—He who desires that no questions shall be asked him concerning his name, cause of refuge, and the like, may escape the usual interrogations upon payment of double the garnish otherwise belonging to his condition. Complying with this essential stipulation, your lordship may register yourself as King of Bantam if you will, for not a question will be asked of you.—But here comes our scout, with news of peace and tranquillity. Now, I will go with your lordship myself, and present you to the council of Alsatia, with all the influence which I have over them as an office-bearer in the Temple, which is not slight; for they have come halting off upon all occasions when we have taken part against them, and that they well know. The time is propitious, for as the council is now met in Alsatia, so the Temple walks are quiet. Now, my lord, throw your cloak about you, to hide your present exterior. You shall give it to the boy at the foot of the stairs that go down to the Sanctuary; and as the ballad says that Queen Eleanor sunk at Charing Cross and rose at Queenhithe, so you shall sink a nobleman in the Temple Gardens, and rise an Alsatian at Whitefriars."
They went out accordingly, attended by the little scout, traversed the gardens, descended the stairs, and at the bottom the young Templar exclaimed,—"And now let us sing, with Ovid,
'In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas—'
Off, off, ye lendings!" he continued, in the same vein. "Via, the curtain that shadowed Borgia!—But how now, my lord?" he continued, when he observed Lord Glenvarloch was really distressed at the degrading change in his situation, "I trust you are not offended at my rattling folly? I would but reconcile you to your present circumstances, and give you the tone of this strange place. Come, cheer up; I trust it will only be your residence for a very few days."
Nigel was only able to press his hand, and reply in a whisper, "I am sensible of your kindness. I know I must drink the cup which my own folly has filled for me. Pardon me, that, at the first taste, I feel its bitterness."
Reginald Lowestoffe was bustlingly officious and good-natured; but, used to live a scrambling, rakish course of life himself, he had not the least idea of the extent of Lord Glenvarloch's mental sufferings, and thought of his temporary concealment as if it were merely the trick of a wanton boy, who plays at hide-and-seek with his tutor. With the appearance of the place, too, he was familiar—but on his companion it produced a deep sensation.
The ancient Sanctuary at Whitefriars lay considerably lower than the elevated terraces and gardens of the Temple, and was therefore generally involved in the damps and fogs arising from the Thames. The brick buildings by which it was occupied, crowded closely on each other, for, in a place so rarely privileged, every foot of ground was valuable; but, erected in many cases by persons whose funds were inadequate to their speculations, the houses were generally insufficient, and exhibited the lamentable signs of having become ruinous while they were yet new. The wailing of children, the scolding of their mothers, the miserable exhibition of ragged linens hung from the windows to dry, spoke the wants and distresses of the wretched inhabitants; while the sounds of complaint were mocked and overwhelmed in the riotous shouts, oaths, profane songs, and boisterous laughter, that issued from the alehouses and taverns, which, as the signs indicated, were equal in number to all the other houses; and, that the full character of the place might be evident, several faded, tinselled and painted females, looked boldly at the strangers from their open lattices, or more modestly seemed busied with the cracked flower-pots, filled with mignonette and rosemary, which were disposed in front of the windows, to the great risk of the passengers.
"Semi-reducta Venus," said the Templar, pointing to one of these nymphs, who seemed afraid of observation, and partly concealed herself behind the casement, as she chirped to a miserable blackbird, the tenant of a wicker prison, which hung outside on the black brick wall.—"I know the face of yonder waistcoateer," continued the guide; "and I could wager a rose-noble, from the posture she stands in, that she has clean head-gear and a soiled night-rail.—But here come two of the male inhabitants, smoking like moving volcanoes! These are roaring blades, whom Nicotia and Trinidado serve, I dare swear, in lieu of beef and pudding; for be it known to you, my lord, that the king's counter-blast against the Indian weed will no more pass current in Alsatia than will his writ of capias."
As he spoke, the two smokers approached; shaggy, uncombed ruffians, whose enormous mustaches were turned back over their ears, and mingled with the wild elf-locks of their hair, much of which was seen under the old beavers which they wore aside upon their heads, while some straggling portion escaped through the rents of the hats aforesaid. Their tarnished plush jerkins, large slops, or trunk-breeches, their broad greasy shoulder-belts, and discoloured scarfs, and, above all, the ostentatious manner in which the one wore a broad-sword and the other an extravagantly long rapier and poniard, marked the true Alsatian bully, then, and for a hundred years afterwards, a well-known character.
"Tour out," said the one ruffian to the other; "tour the bien mort twiring at the gentry cove!" [Footnote: Look sharp. See how the girl is coquetting with the strange gallants!]
"I smell a spy," replied the other, looking at Nigel. "Chalk him across the peepers with your cheery." [Footnote: Slash him over the eyes with your dagger.]
"Bing avast, bing avast!" replied his companion; "yon other is rattling Reginald Lowestoffe of the Temple—I know him; he is a good boy, and free of the province."
So saying, and enveloping themselves in another thick cloud of smoke, they went on without farther greeting.
"Grasso in aere!" said the Templar. "You hear what a character the impudent knave gives me; but, so it serves your lordship's turn, I care not.—And, now, let me ask your lordship what name you will assume, for we are near the ducal palace of Duke Hildebrod."
"I will be called Grahame," said Nigel; "it was my mother's name."
"Grime," repeated the Templar, "will suit Alsatia well enough—both a grim and grimy place of refuge."
"I said Grahame, sir, not Grime," said Nigel, something shortly, and laying an emphasis on the vowel—for few Scotsmen understand raillery upon the subject of their names.
"I beg pardon, my lord," answered the undisconcerted punster; "but Graam will suit the circumstance, too—it signifies tribulation in the High Dutch, and your lordship must be considered as a man under trouble."
Nigel laughed at the pertinacity of the Templar; who, proceeding to point out a sign representing, or believed to represent, a dog attacking a bull, and running at his head, in the true scientific style of onset,—"There," said he, "doth faithful Duke Hildebrod deal forth laws, as well as ale and strong waters, to his faithful Alsatians. Being a determined champion of Paris Garden, he has chosen a sign corresponding to his habits; and he deals in giving drink to the thirsty, that he himself may drink without paying, and receive pay for what is drunken by others.—Let us enter the ever-open gate of this second Axylus."
As they spoke, they entered the dilapidated tavern, which was, nevertheless, more ample in dimensions, and less ruinous, than many houses in the same evil neighbourhood. Two or three haggard, ragged drawers, ran to and fro, whose looks, like those of owls, seemed only adapted for midnight, when other creatures sleep, and who by day seemed bleared, stupid, and only half awake. Guided by one of these blinking Ganymedes, they entered a room, where the feeble rays of the sun were almost wholly eclipsed by volumes of tobacco-smoke, rolled from the tubes of the company, while out of the cloudy sanctuary arose the old chant of—
"Old Sir Simon the King, And old Sir Simon the King, With his malmsey nose, And his ale-dropped hose, And sing hey ding-a-ding-ding."
Duke Hildebrod, who himself condescended to chant this ditty to his loving subjects, was a monstrously fat old man, with only one eye; and a nose which bore evidence to the frequency, strength, and depth of his potations. He wore a murrey-coloured plush jerkin, stained with the overflowings of the tankard, and much the worse for wear, and unbuttoned at bottom for the ease of his enormous paunch. Behind him lay a favourite bull-dog, whose round head and single black glancing eye, as well as the creature's great corpulence, gave it a burlesque resemblance to its master.
The well-beloved counsellors who surrounded the ducal throne, incensed it with tobacco, pledged its occupier in thick clammy ale, and echoed back his choral songs, were Satraps worthy of such a Soldan. The buff jerkin, broad belt, and long sword of one, showed him to be a Low Country soldier, whose look of scowling importance, and drunken impudence, were designed to sustain his title to call himself a Roving Blade. It seemed to Nigel that he had seen this fellow somewhere or other. A hedge-parson, or buckle-beggar, as that order of priesthood has been irreverently termed, sat on the Duke's left, and was easily distinguished by his torn band, flapped hat, and the remnants of a rusty cassock. Beside the parson sat a most wretched and meagre- looking old man, with a threadbare hood of coarse kersey upon his head, and buttoned about his neck, while his pinched features, like those of old Daniel, were illuminated by —"an eye, Through the last look of dotage still cunning and sly."
On his left was placed a broken attorney, who, for some malpractices, had been struck from the roll of practitioners, and who had nothing left of his profession, except its roguery. One or two persons of less figure, amongst whom there was one face, which, like that of the soldier, seemed not unknown to Nigel, though he could not recollect where he had seen it, completed the council-board of Jacob Duke Hildebrod.
The strangers had full time to observe all this; for his grace the Duke, whether irresistibly carried on by the full tide of harmony, or whether to impress the strangers with a proper idea of his consequence, chose to sing his ditty to an end before addressing them, though, during the whole time, he closely scrutinized them with his single optic.
When Duke Hildebrod had ended his song, he informed his Peers that a worthy officer of the Temple attended them, and commanded the captain and parson to abandon their easy chairs in behalf of the two strangers, whom he placed on his right and left hand. The worthy representative of the army and the church of Alsatia went to place themselves on a crazy form at the bottom of the table, which, ill calculated to sustain men of such weight, gave way under them, and the man of the sword and man of the gown were rolled over each other on the floor, amidst the exulting shouts of the company. They arose in wrath, contending which should vent his displeasure in the loudest and deepest oaths, a strife in which the parson's superior acquaintance with theology enabled him greatly to excel the captain, and were at length with difficulty tranquillised by the arrival of the alarmed waiters with more stable chairs, and by a long draught of the cooling tankard. When this commotion was appeased, and the strangers courteously accommodated with flagons, after the fashion of the others present, the Duke drank prosperity to the Temple in the most gracious manner, together with a cup of welcome to Master Reginald Lowestoffe; and, this courtesy having been thankfully accepted, the party honoured prayed permission to call for a gallon of Rhenish, over which he proposed to open his business.
The mention of a liquor so superior to their usual potations had an instant and most favourable effect upon the little senate; and its immediate appearance might be said to secure a favourable reception of Master Lowestoffe's proposition, which, after a round or two had circulated, he explained to be the admission of his friend Master Nigel Grahame to the benefit of the sanctuary and other immunities of Alsatia, in the character of a grand compounder; for so were those termed who paid a double fee at their matriculation, in order to avoid laying before the senate the peculiar circumstances which compelled them to take refuge there.
The worthy Duke heard the proposition with glee, which glittered in his single eye; and no wonder, as it was a rare occurrence, and of peculiar advantage to his private revenue. Accordingly, he commanded his ducal register to be brought him, a huge book, secured with brass clasps like a merchant's ledger, and whose leaves, stained with wine, and slabbered with tobacco juice, bore the names probably of as many rogues as are to be found in the Calendar of Newgate.
Nigel was then directed to lay down two nobles as his ransom, and to claim privilege by reciting the following doggerel verses, which were dictated to him by the Duke:—
"Your suppliant, by name Nigel Grahame, In fear of mishap From a shoulder-tap; And dreading a claw From the talons of law, That are sharper than briers: His freedom to sue, And rescue by you— Thorugh weapon and wit, From warrant and writ, From bailiff's hand, From tipstaff's wand, Is come hither to Whitefriars."
As Duke Hildebrod with a tremulous hand began to make the entry, and had already, with superfluous generosity, spelled Nigel with two g's instead of one, he was interrupted by the parson. [Footnote: This curious register is still in existence, being in possession of that eminent antiquary, Dr. Dryasdust, who liberally offered the author permission to have the autograph of Duke Hildebrod engraved as an illustration of this passage. Unhappily, being rigorous as Ritson himself in adhering to the very letter of his copy, the worthy Doctor clogged his munificence with the condition that we should adopt the Duke's orthography, and entitle the work "The Fortunes of Niggle," with which stipulation we did not think it necessary to comply.] This reverend gentleman had been whispering for a minute or two, not with the captain, but with that other individual, who dwelt imperfectly, as we have already mentioned, in Nigel's memory, and being, perhaps, still something malecontent on account of the late accident, he now requested to be heard before the registration took place.
"The person," he said, "who hath now had the assurance to propose himself as a candidate for the privileges and immunities of this honourable society, is, in plain terms, a beggarly Scot, and we have enough of these locusts in London already—if we admit such palmer- worms and caterpillars to the Sanctuary, we shall soon have the whole nation."
"We are not entitled to inquire," said Duke Hildebrod, "whether he be Scot, or French, or English; seeing he has honourably laid down his garnish, he is entitled to our protection."
"Word of denial, most Sovereign Duke," replied the parson, "I ask him no questions—his speech betrayeth him—he is a Galilean—and his garnish is forfeited for his assurance in coming within this our realm; and I call on you, Sir Duke, to put the laws in force against him!"
The Templar here rose, and was about to interrupt the deliberations of the court, when the Duke gravely assured him that he should be heard in behalf of his friend, so soon as the council had finished their deliberations.
The attorney next rose, and, intimating that he was to speak to the point of law, said—"It was easy to be seen that this gentleman did not come here in any civil case, and that he believed it to be the story they had already heard of concerning a blow given within the verge of the Park—that the Sanctuary would not bear out the offender in such case—and that the queer old Chief would send down a broom which would sweep the streets of Alsatia from the Strand to the Stairs; and it was even policy to think what evil might come to their republic, by sheltering an alien in such circumstances."
The captain, who had sat impatiently while these opinions were expressed, now sprung on his feet with the vehemence of a cork bouncing from a bottle of brisk beer, and, turning up his mustaches with a martial air, cast a glance of contempt on the lawyer and churchman, while he thus expressed his opinion.
"Most noble Duke Hildebrod! When I hear such base, skeldering, coistril propositions come from the counsellors of your grace, and when I remember the Huffs, the Muns, and the Tityretu's by whom your grace's ancestors and predecessors were advised on such occasions, I begin to think the spirit of action is as dead in Alsatia as in my old grannam; and yet who thinks so thinks a lie, since I will find as many roaring boys in the Friars as shall keep the liberties against all the scavengers of Westminster. And, if we should be overborne for a turn, death and darkness! have we not time to send the gentleman off by water, either to Paris Garden or to the bankside? and, if he is a gallant of true breed, will he not make us full amends for all the trouble we have? Let other societies exist by the law, I say that we brisk boys of the Fleet live in spite of it; and thrive best when we are in right opposition to sign and seal, writ and warrant, sergeant and tipstaff, catchpoll, and bum-bailey."
This speech was followed by a murmur of approbation, and Lowestoffe, striking in before the favourable sound had subsided, reminded the Duke and his council how much the security of their state depended upon the amity of the Templars, who, by closing their gates, could at pleasure shut against the Alsatians the communication betwixt the Friars and the Temple, and that as they conducted themselves on this occasion, so would they secure or lose the benefit of his interest with his own body, which they knew not to be inconsiderable. "And, in respect of my friend being a Scotsman and alien, as has been observed by the reverend divine and learned lawyer, you are to consider," said Lowestoffe, "for what he is pursued hither—why, for giving the bastinado, not to an Englishman, but to one of his own countrymen. And for my own simple part," he continued, touching Lord Glenvarloch at the same time, to make him understand he spoke but in jest, "if all the Scots in London were to fight a Welsh main, and kill each other to a man, the survivor would, in my humble opinion, be entitled to our gratitude, as having done a most acceptable service to poor Old England."
A shout of laughter and applause followed this ingenious apology for the client's state of alienage; and the Templar followed up his plea with the following pithy proposition:—"I know well," said he, "it is the custom of the fathers of this old and honourable republic, ripely and well to consider all their proceedings over a proper allowance of liquor; and far be it from me to propose the breach of so laudable a custom, or to pretend that such an affair as the present can be well and constitutionally considered during the discussion of a pitiful gallon of Rhenish. But, as it is the same thing to this honourable conclave whether they drink first and determine afterwards, or whether they determine first and drink afterwards, I propose your grace, with the advice of your wise and potent senators, shall pass your edict, granting to mine honourable friend the immunities of the place, and assigning him a lodging, according to your wise forms, to which he will presently retire, being somewhat spent with this day's action; whereupon I will presently order you a rundlet of Rhenish, with a corresponding quantity of neats' tongues and pickled herrings, to make you all as glorious as George-a-Green."
This overture was received with a general shout of applause, which altogether drowned the voice of the dissidents, if any there were amongst the Alsatian senate who could have resisted a proposal so popular. The words of, kind heart! noble gentleman! generous gallant! flew from mouth to mouth; the inscription of the petitioner's name in the great book was hastily completed, and the oath administered to him by the worthy Doge. Like the Laws of the Twelve Tables, of the ancient Cambro-Britons, and other primitive nations, it was couched in poetry, and ran as follows:-
"By spigot and barrel, By bilboe and buff; Thou art sworn to the quarrel Of the blades of the huff. For Whitefriars and its claims To be champion or martyr, And to fight for its dames Like a Knight of the Garter."
Nigel felt, and indeed exhibited, some disgust at this mummery; but, the Templar reminding him that he was too far advanced to draw back, he repeated the words, or rather assented as they were repeated by Duke Hildebrod, who concluded the ceremony by allowing him the privilege of sanctuary, in the following form of prescriptive doggerel:—
"From the touch of the tip, From the blight of the warrant, From the watchmen who skip On the Harman Beck's errand; From the bailiffs cramp speech, That makes man a thrall, I charm thee from each, And I charm thee from all. Thy freedom's complete As a Blade of the Huff, To be cheated and cheat, To be cuff'd and to cuff; To stride, swear, and swagger, To drink till you stagger, To stare and to stab, And to brandish your dagger In the cause of your drab; To walk wool-ward in winter, Drink brandy, and smoke, And go fresco in summer For want of a cloak; To eke out your living By the wag of your elbow, By fulham and gourd, And by baring of bilboe; To live by your shifts, And to swear by your honour, Are the freedom and gifts Of which I am the donor."[Footnote: Of the cant words used in this inauguratory oration, some are obvious in their meaning, others, as Harman Beck (constable), and the like, derive their source from that ancient piece of lexicography, the Slang Dictionary]
This homily being performed, a dispute arose concerning the special residence to be assigned the new brother of the Sanctuary; for, as the Alsatians held it a maxim in their commonwealth, that ass's milk fattens, there was usually a competition among the inhabitants which should have the managing, as it was termed, of a new member of the society.
The Hector who had spoken so warmly and critically in Nigel's behalf, stood out now chivalrously in behalf of a certain Blowselinda, or Bonstrops, who had, it seems, a room to hire, once the occasional residence of Slicing Dick of Paddington, who lately suffered at Tyburn, and whose untimely exit had been hitherto mourned by the damsel in solitary widowhood, after the fashion of the turtle-dove.
The captain's interest was, however, overruled, in behalf of the old gentleman in the kersey hood, who was believed, even at his extreme age, to understand the plucking of a pigeon, as well, or better, than any man in Alsatia.
This venerable personage was an usurer of notoriety, called Trapbois, and had very lately done the state considerable service in advancing a subsidy necessary to secure a fresh importation of liquors to the Duke's cellars, the wine-merchant at the Vintry being scrupulous to deal with so great a man for any thing but ready money.
When, therefore, the old gentleman arose, and with much coughing, reminded the Duke that he had a poor apartment to let, the claims of all others were set aside, and Nigel was assigned to Trapbois as his guest.
No sooner was this arrangement made, than Lord Glenvarloch expressed to Lowestoffe his impatience to leave this discreditable assembly, and took his leave with a careless haste, which, but for the rundlet of Rhenish wine that entered just as he left the apartment, might have been taken in bad part. The young Templar accompanied his friend to the house of the old usurer, with the road to which he and some other youngsters about the Temple were even but too well acquainted. On the way, he assured Lord Glenvarloch that he was going to the only clean house in Whitefriars; a property which it owed solely to the exertions of the old man's only daughter, an elderly damsel, ugly enough to frighten sin, yet likely to be wealthy enough to tempt a puritan, so soon as the devil had got her old dad for his due. As Lowestoffe spoke thus, they knocked at the door of the house, and the sour stern countenance of the female by whom it was opened, fully confirmed all that the Templar had said of the hostess. She heard with an ungracious and discontented air the young Templar's information, that the gentleman, his companion, was to be her father's lodger, muttered something about the trouble it was likely to occasion, but ended by showing the stranger's apartment, which was better than could have been augured from the general appearance of the place, and much larger in extent than that which he occupied at Paul's Wharf, though inferior to it in neatness.