"But first," said Allerton, "were it not well that these good people withdrew? A contriver likes not others to learn his secret ere the time hath come to reap its profits."
"Surely, surely!" said Adam, and alarmed at the idea thus suggested, he threw the folds of his gown over the model.
The attendant bowed and retired; Hugh followed him, but not till he had exchanged a significant look with Allerton. As soon as the room was left clear to Adam, the captive, and Master Allerton, the last rose, and looking hastily round the chamber, approached the mechanician. "Quick, sir!" said he, in a whisper, "we are not often left without witnesses."
"Verily," said Adam, who had now forgotten kings and stratagems, plots and counterplots, and was all absorbed in his invention, "verily, young man, hurry not in this fashion,—I am about to begin. Know, my lord," and he turned to Henry, who, with an indolent, dreamy gaze, stood contemplating the Eureka,—"know that more than a hundred years before the Christian era, one Hero, an Alexandrian, discovered the force produced by the vapour begot by heat on water. That this power was not unknown to the ancient sages, witness the contrivance, not otherwise to be accounted for, of the heathen oracles; but to our great countryman and predecessor, Roger Bacon, who first suggested that vehicles might be drawn without steeds or steers, and ships might—"
"Marry, sir," interrupted Allerton, with great impatience, "it is not to prate to us of such trivial fables of Man, or such wanton sports of the Foul Fiend, that thou hast risked limb and life. Time is precious. I have been prevised that thou hast letters for King Henry; produce them, quick!"
A deep glow of indignation had overspread the enthusiast's face at the commencement of this address; but the close reminded him, in truth, of his errand.
"Hot youth," said he, with dignity, "a future age may judge differently of what thou deemest trivial fables, and may rate high this poor invention when the brawls of York and Lancaster are forgotten."
"Hear him," said Henry, with a soft smile, and laying his hand on the shoulder of the young man, who was about to utter a passionate and scornful retort,—"hear him, sir. Have I not often and ever said this same thing to thee? We children of a day imagine our contests are the sole things that move the world. Alack! our fathers thought the same; and they and their turmoils sleep forgotten! Nay, Master Warner,"—for here Adam, poor man, awed by Henry's mildness into shame at his discourteous vaunting, began to apologize,—"nay, sir, nay—thou art right to contemn our bloody and futile struggles for a crown of thorns; for—"
'Kingdoms are but cares, State is devoid of stay Riches are ready snares, And hasten to decay.'
[Lines ascribed to Henry VI., with commendation "as a prettie verse," by Sir John Harrington, in the "Nugae Antiquate." They are also given, with little alteration, to the unhappy king by Baldwin, in his tragedy of "King Henry VI."]
"And yet, sir, believe me, thou hast no cause for vain glory in thine own craft and labours; for to wit and to lere there are the same vanity and vexation of spirit as to war and empire. Only, O would-be wise man, only when we muse on Heaven do our souls ascend from the fowler's snare!"
"My saint-like liege," said Allerton, bowing low, and with tears in his eyes, "thinkest thou not that thy very disdain of thy rights makes thee more worthy of them? If not for thine, for thy son's sake, remember that the usurper sits on the throne of the conqueror of Agincourt!—Sir Clerk, the letters."
Adam, already anxious to retrieve the error of his first forgetfulness, here, after a moment's struggle for the necessary remembrance, drew the papers from the labyrinthine receptacle which concealed them; and Henry uttered an exclamation of joy as, after cutting the silk, his eye glanced over the writing—
"My Margaret! my wife!" Presently he grew pale, and his hands trembled. "Saints defend her! Saints defend her! She is here, disguised, in London!"
"Margaret! our hero-queen! the manlike woman!" exclaimed Allerton, clasping his hands. "Then be sure that—" He stopped, and abruptly taking Adam's arm, drew him aside, while Henry continued to read—"Master Warner, we may trust thee,—thou art one of us; thou art sent here, I know; by Robin of Redesdale,—we may trust thee?"
"Young sir," replied the philosopher, gravely, "the fears and hopes of power are not amidst the uneasier passions of the student's mind. I pledged myself but to bear these papers hither, and to return with what may be sent back."
"But thou didst this for love of the cause, the truth, and the right?"
"I did it partly from Hilyard's tale of wrong, but partly, also, for the gold," answered Adam, simply; and his noble air, his high brow, the serene calm of his features, so contrasted with the meanness implied in the latter words of his confession, that Allerton stared at him amazed, and without reply.
Meanwhile Henry had concluded the letter, and with a heavy sigh glanced over the papers that accompanied it. "Alack! alack! more turbulence, more danger and disquiet, more of my people's blood!" He motioned to the young man, and drawing him to the window, while Adam returned to his model, put the papers in his hand. "Allerton," he said, "thou lovest me, but thou art one of the few in this distraught land who love also God. Thou art not one of the warriors, the men of steel. Counsel me. See: Margaret demands my signature to these papers; the one, empowering and craving the levy of men and arms in the northern counties; the other, promising free pardon to all who will desert Edward; the third—it seemeth to me more strange and less kinglike than the others—undertaking to abolish all the imposts and all the laws that press upon the commons, and (is this a holy and pious stipulation?) to inquire into the exactions and persecutions of the priesthood of our Holy Church!"
"Sire!" said the young man, after he had hastily perused the papers, "my lady liege showeth good argument for your assent to two, at least, of these undertakings. See the names of fifty gentlemen ready to take arms in your cause if authorized by your royal warrant. The men of the North are malcontent with the usurper, but they will not yet stir, unless at your own command. Such documents will, of course, be used with discretion, and not to imperil your Grace's safety."
"My safety!" said Henry, with a flash of his father's hero soul in his eyes—"of that I think not! If I have small courage to attack, I have some fortitude to bear. But three months after these be signed, how many brave hearts will be still! how many stout hands be dust! O Margaret! Margaret! why temptest thou? Wert thou so happy when a queen?" The prisoner broke from Allerton's arm, and walked, in great disorder and irresolution, to and fro the chamber; and strange it was to see the contrast between himself and Warner,—both in so much alike, both so purely creatures out of the common world, so gentle, abstract, so utterly living in the life apart: and now the student so calm, the prince so disturbed! The contrast struck Henry himself! He paused abruptly, and, folding his arms, contemplated the philosopher, as, with an affectionate complacency, Adam played and toyed, as it were, with his beloved model; now opening and shutting again its doors, now brushing away with his sleeve some particles of dust that had settled on it, now retiring a few paces to gaze the better on its stern symmetry.
"Oh, my Allerton!" cried Henry, "behold! the kingdom a man makes out of his own mind is the only one that it delighteth man to govern! Behold, he is lord over its springs and movements; its wheels revolve and stop at his bidding. Here, here, alone, God never asketh the ruler, 'Why was the blood of thousands poured forth like water, that a worm might wear a crown?'"
"Sire," said Allerton, solemnly, "when our Heavenly King appoints his anointed representative on earth, He gives to that human delegate no power to resign the ambassade and trust. What suicide is to a man, abdication is to a king! How canst thou dispose of thy son's rights? And what becomes of those rights if thou wilt prefer for him the exile, for thyself the prison, when one effort may restore a throne!"
Henry seemed struck by a tone of argument that suited both his own mind and the reasoning of the age. He gazed a moment on the face of the young man, muttered to himself, and suddenly moving to the table, signed the papers, and restored them to Adam, who mechanically replaced them in their iron hiding-place.
"Now begone, Sir!" whispered Allerton, afraid that Henry's mind might again change.
"Will not my lord examine the engine?" asked Warner, half-beseechingly.
"Not to-day! See, he has already retired to his oratory, he is in prayer!" and, going to the door, Allerton summoned the attendants in waiting to carry down the model.
"Well, well, patience, patience! thou shalt have thine audience at last," muttered Adam, as he retired from the room, his eyes fixed upon the neglected infant of his brain.
CHAPTER VI. HOW, ON LEAVING KING LOG, FOOLISH WISDOM RUNS A-MUCK ON KING STORK.
At the outer door of the Tower by which he had entered, the philosopher was accosted by Catesby,—a man who, in imitation of his young patron, exhibited the soft and oily manner which concealed intense ambition and innate ferocity.
"Worshipful my master," said he, bowing low, but with a half sneer on his lips, "the king and his Highness the Duke of Gloucester have heard much of your strange skill, and command me to lead you to their presence. Follow, sir, and you, my men, convey this quaint contrivance to the king's apartments."
With this, not waiting for any reply, Catesby strode on. Hugh's face fell; he turned very pale, and, imagining himself unobserved, turned round to slink away. But Catesby, who seemed to have eyes at the back of his head, called out, in a mild tone,—
"Good fellow, help to bear the mechanical—you, too, may be needed."
"Cog's wounds!" muttered Hugh, "an' I had but known what it was to set my foot in a king's palace! Such walking may do for the silken shoon, but the hobnail always gets into a hobble." With that, affecting a cheerful mien, he helped to replace the model on the mule.
Meanwhile, Adam, elated, poor man! at the flattery of the royal mandate, persuaded that his fame had reached Edward's ears, and chafed at the little heed paid by the pious Henry to his great work, stalked on, his head in the air. "Verily," mused the student, "King Edward may have been a cruel youth, and over hasty; it is horrible to think of Robert Hilyard's calamities! But men do say he hath an acute and masterly comprehension. Doubtless, he will perceive at a glance how much I can advantage his kingdom." With this, we grieve to say, selfish reflection—which, if the thought of his model could have slept a while, Adam would have blushed to recall, as an affront to Hilyard's wrongs—the philosopher followed Catesby across the spacious yard, along a narrow passage, and up a winding turret-stair, to a room in the third story, which opened at one door into the king's closet, at the other into the spacious gallery, which was already a feature in the plan of the more princely houses. In another minute Adam and his model were in the presence of the king. The part of the room in which Edward sat was distinguished from the rest by a small eastern carpet on the floor (a luxury more in use in the palaces of that day than it appears to have been a century later); [see the Narrative of the Lord Grauthuse, before referred to] a table was set before him, on which the model was placed. At his right hand sat Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, the queen's mother; at his left, Prince Richard. The duchess, though not without the remains of beauty, had a stern, haughty, scornful expression in her sharp aquiline features, compressed lips, and imperious eye. The paleness of her complexion, and the careworn, anxious lines of her countenance, were ascribed by the vulgar to studies of no holy cast. Her reputation for sorcery and witchcraft was daily increasing, and served well the purpose of the discontented barons, whom the rise of her children mortified and enraged.
"Approach, Master—What say you his name is, Richard?"
"Adam Warner," replied the sweet voice of the Duke of Gloucester; "of excellent skill in the mathematics."
"Approach, sir, and show us the nature of this notable invention."
"I desire nothing better, my lord king," said Adam, boldly; "but first let me crave a small modicum of fuel. Fire, which is the life of the world, as the wise of old held it, is also the soul of this, my mechanical."
"Peradventure," whispered the duchess, "the wizard desireth to consume us."
"More likely," replied Richard, in the same undertone, "to consume whatever of treasonable nature may lurk concealed in his engine."
"True," said Edward, and then, speaking aloud, "Master Warner," he added, "put thy puppet to its purpose without fire,—we will it."
"It is impossible, my lord," said Adam, with a lofty smile. "Science and nature are more powerful than a king's word."
"Do not say that in public, my friend," said Edward, dryly, "or we must hang thee! I would not my subjects were told anything so treasonable. Howbeit, to give thee no excuse in failure, thou shalt have what thou needest."
"But surely not in our presence," exclaimed the duchess. "This may be a device of the Lancastrians for our perdition."
"As you please, belle mere," said Edward, and he motioned to a gentleman, who stood a few paces behind his chair, and who, from the entrance of the mechanician, had seemed to observe him with intense interest. "Master Nevile, attend this wise man; supply his wants, and hark, in thy ear, watch well that he abstract nothing from the womb of his engine; observe what he doeth; be all eyes." Marmaduke bowed low to conceal his change of countenance, and, stepping forward, made a sign to Adam to follow him.
"Go also, Catesby," said Richard to his follower, who had taken his post near him, "and clear the chamber."
As soon as the three members of the royal family were left alone, the king, stretching himself, with a slight yawn, observed, "This man looks not like a conspirator, brother Richard, though his sententiary as to nature and science lacked loyalty and respect."
"Sire and brother," answered Richard, "great leaders often dupe their own tools; at least, meseemeth that they would reason well so to do. Remember, I have told thee that there is strong cause to suppose Margaret to be in London. In the suburbs of the city has also appeared, within the last few weeks, that strange and dangerous person, whose very objects are a mystery, save that he is our foe,—Robin of Redesdale. The men of the North have exhibited a spirit of insurrection; a man of that country attends this reputed wizard, and he himself was favoured in past times by Henry of Windsor. These are ominous signs when the conjunctions be considered!"
"It is well said; but a fair day for breathing our palfrey is half-spent!" returned the indolent prince. "By'r Lady! I like the fashion of thy super-tunic well, Richard; but thou hast it too much puffed over the shoulders."
Richard's dark eye shot fire, and he gnawed his lip as he answered, "God hath not given to me the fair shape of my kinsmen."
"Thy pardon, dear boy," said Edward, kindly; "yet little needest thou our broad backs and strong sinews, for thou hast a tongue to charm women and a wit to command men."
Richard bowed his face, little less beautiful than his brother's, though wholly different from it in feature, for Edward had the long oval countenance, the fair hair, the rich colouring, and the large outline of his mother, the Rose of Raby. Richard, on the contrary, had the short face, the dark brown locks, and the pale olive complexion of his father, whom he alone of the royal brothers strikingly resembled. [Pol. Virg. 544.]
The cheeks, too, were somewhat sunken, and already, though scarcely past childhood, about his lips were seen the lines of thoughtful manhood. But then those small features, delicately aquiline, were so regular; that dark eye was so deep, so fathomless in its bright, musing intelligence; that quivering lip was at once so beautifully formed and so expressive of intellectual subtlety and haughty will; and that pale forehead was so massive, high, and majestic,—that when, at a later period, the Scottish prelate [Archibald Quhitlaw.—"Faciem tuam summo imperio principatu dignam inspicit, quam moralis et heroica, virtus illustrat," etc.—We need scarcely observe that even a Scotchman would not have risked a public compliment to Richard's face, if so inappropriate as to seem a sarcasm, especially as the orator immediately proceeds to notice the shortness of Richard's stature,—a comment not likely to have been peculiarly acceptable in the Rous Roll, the portrait of Richard represents him as undersized, but compactly and strongly built, and without any sign of deformity, unless the inelegant defect of a short neck can be so called.] commended Richard's "princely countenance," the compliment was not one to be disputed, much less contemned. But now as he rose, obedient to a whisper from the duchess, and followed her to the window, while Edward appeared engaged in admiring the shape of his own long, upturned shoes, those defects in his shape which the popular hatred and the rise of the House of Tudor exaggerated into the absolute deformity that the unexamining ignorance of modern days and Shakspeare's fiery tragedy have fixed into established caricature, were sufficiently apparent. Deformed or hunchbacked we need scarcely say he was not, for no man so disfigured could have possessed that great personal strength which he invariably exhibited in battle, despite the comparative slightness of his frame. He was considerably below the ordinary height, which the great stature of his brother rendered yet more disadvantageous by contrast; but his lower limbs were strong-jointed and muscular. Though the back was not curved, yet one shoulder was slightly higher than the other, which was the more observable from the evident pains that he took to disguise it, and the gorgeous splendour, savouring of personal coxcombry—from which no Plantagenet was ever free,—that he exhibited in his dress. And as, in a warlike age, the physical conformation of men is always critically regarded, so this defect and that of his low stature were not so much redeemed as they would be in our day by the beauty and intelligence of his face. Added to this, his neck was short, and a habit of bending his head on his bosom (arising either from thought, or the affectation of humility, which was a part of his character) made it seem shorter still. But this peculiarity, while taking from the grace, added to the strength of his frame, which, spare, sinewy, and compact, showed to an observer that power of endurance, that combination of solid stubbornness and active energy, which, at the battle of Barnet, made him no less formidable to encounter than the ruthless sword of the mighty Edward.
"So, prince," said the duchess, "this new gentleman of the king's is, it seems, a Nevile. When will Edward's high spirit cast off that hateful yoke?"
Richard sighed and shook his head. The duchess, encouraged by these signs of sympathy, continued,—
"Your brother Clarence, Prince Richard, despises us, to cringe to the proud earl. But you—"
"I am not suitor to the Lady Isabel; Clarence is overlavish, and Isabel has a fair face and a queenly dowry."
"May I perish," said the duchess, "ere Warwick's daughter wears the baudekin of royalty, and sits in as high a state as the queen's mother! Prince, I would fain confer with thee; we have a project to abase and banish this hateful lord. If you but join us, success is sure; the Count of Charolois—"
"Dear lady," interrupted Richard, with an air of profound humility, "tell me nothing of plot or project; my years are too few for such high and subtle policy; and the Lord Warwick hath been a leal friend to our House of York."
The duchess bit her lip—"Yet I have heard you tell Edward that a subject can be too powerful?"
"Never, lady! you have never heard me."
"Then Edward has told Elizabeth that you so spoke."
"Ah," said Richard, turning away with a smile, "I see that the king's conscience hath a discreet keeper. Pardon me, Edward, now that he hath sufficiently surveyed his shoon, must marvel at this prolonged colloquy. And see, the door opens."
With this, the duke slowly moved to the table, and resumed his seat.
Marmaduke, full of fear for his ancient host, had in vain sought an opportunity to address a few words of exhortation to him to forbear all necromancy, and to abstain from all perilous distinctions between the power of Edward IV. and that of his damnable Nature and Science; but Catesby watched him with so feline a vigilance, that he was unable to slip in more than—"Ah, Master Warner, for our blessed Lord's sake, recollect that rack and cord are more than mere words here!" To the which pleasant remark, Adam, then busy in filling his miniature boiler, only replied by a wistful stare, not in the least recognizing the Nevile in his fine attire, and the new-fashioned mode of dressing his long hair.
But Catesby watched in vain for the abstraction of any treasonable contents in the engine, which the Duke of Gloucester had so shrewdly suspected. The truth must be told. Adam had entirely forgotten that in the intricacies of his mechanical lurked the papers that might overthrow a throne! Magnificent Incarnation was he (in that oblivion) of Science itself, which cares not a jot for men and nations, in their ephemeral existences; which only remembers THINGS,—things that endure for ages; and in its stupendous calculations loses sight of the unit of a generation! No, he had thoroughly forgotten Henry, Edward, his own limbs and life,—not only York and Lancaster, but Adam Warner and the rack. Grand in his forgetfulness, he stood before the tiger and the tiger-cat,—Edward and—Richard,—A Pure Thought, a Man's Soul; Science fearless in the presence of Cruelty, Tyranny, Craft, and Power.
In truth, now that Adam was thoroughly in his own sphere, was in the domain of which he was king, and those beings in velvet and ermine were but as ignorant savages admitted to the frontier of his realm, his form seemed to dilate into a majesty the beholders had not before recognized; and even the lazy Edward muttered involuntarily, "By my halidame, the man has a noble presence!"
"I am prepared now, sire," said Adam, loftily, "to show to my king and to this court, that, unnoticed and obscure, in study and retreat, often live those men whom kings may be proud to call their subjects. Will it please you, my lords, this way!" and he motioned so commandingly to the room in which he had left the Eureka, that his audience rose by a common impulse, and in another minute stood grouped round the model in the adjoining chamber. This really wonderful invention—so wonderful, indeed, that it will surpass the faith of those who do not pause to consider what vast forestallments of modern science have been made and lost in the darkness of ages not fitted to receive them—was, doubtless, in many important details not yet adapted for the practical uses to which Adam designed its application. But as a mere model, as a marvellous essay, for the suggestion of gigantic results, it was, perhaps, to the full as effective as the ingenuity of a mechanic of our own day could construct. It is true that it was crowded with unnecessary cylinders, slides, cocks, and wheals—hideous and clumsy to the eye—but through this intricacy the great simple design accomplished its main object. It contrived to show what force and skill man can obtain from the alliance of nature; the more clearly, inasmuch as the mechanism affixed to it, still more ingenious than itself, was well calculated to illustrate practically one of the many uses to which the principle was destined to be applied.
Adam had not yet fathomed the secret by which to supply the miniature cylinder with sufficient steam for any prolonged effect,—the great truth of latent heat was unknown to him; but he had contrived to regulate the supply of water so as to make the engine discharge its duties sufficiently for the satisfaction of curiosity and the explanation of its objects. And now this strange thing of iron was in full life. From its serpent chimney issued the thick rapid smoke, and the groan of its travail was heard within.
"And what propose you to yourself and to the kingdom in all this, Master Adam?" asked Edward, curiously bending his tall person over the tortured iron.
"I propose to make Nature the labourer of man," answered Warner. "When I was a child of some eight years old, I observed that water swelleth into vapour when fire is applied to it. Twelve years afterwards, at the age of twenty, I observed that while undergoing this change it exerts a mighty mechanical force. At twenty-five, constantly musing, I said, 'Why should not that force become subject to man's art?' I then began the first rude model, of which this is the descendant. I noticed that the vapour so produced is elastic,—that is, that as it expands, it presses against what opposes it; it has a force applicable everywhere force is needed by man's labour. Behold a second agency of gigantic resources! And then, still studying this, I perceived that the vapour thus produced can be reconverted into water, shrinking necessarily, while so retransformed, from the space it filled as vapour, and leaving that space a vacuum. But Nature abhors a vacuum; produce a vacuum, and the bodies that surround rush into it. Thus, the vapour again, while changing back into water, becomes also a force,—our agent. And all the while these truths were shaping themselves to my mind, I was devising and improving also the material form by which I might render them useful to man; so at last, out of these truths, arose this invention!"
"Pardie," said Edward, with the haste natural to royalty, "what in common there can be between thy jargon of smoke and water and this huge ugliness of iron passeth all understanding. But spare us thy speeches, and on to thy puppet-show."
Adam stared a moment at the king in the surprise that one full of his subject feels when he sees it impossible to make another understand it, sighed, shook his head, and prepared to begin.
"Observe," he said, "that there is no juggling, no deceit. I will place in this deposit this small lump of brass—would the size of this toy would admit of larger experiment! I will then pray ye to note, as I open door after door, how the metal passes through various changes, all operated by this one agency of vapour. Heed and attend. And if the crowning work please thee, think, great king, what such an agency upon the large scale would be to thee; think how it would multiply all arts and lessen all labour; think that thou hast, in this, achieved for a whole people the true philosopher's stone. Now note!"
He placed the rough ore in its receptacle, and suddenly it seemed seized by a vice within, and vanished. He proceeded then, while dexterously attending to the complex movements, to open door after door, to show the astonished spectators the rapid transitions the metal underwent, and suddenly, in the midst of his pride, he stopped short, for, like a lightning-flash, came across his mind the remembrance of the fatal papers. Within the next door he was to open, they lay concealed. His change of countenance did not escape Richard, and he noted the door which Adam forbore to open, as the student hurriedly, and with some presence of mind, passed to the next, in which the metal was shortly to appear.
"Open this door," said the prince, pointing to the handle. "No! forbear! There is danger! forbear!" exclaimed the mechanician.
"Danger to thine own neck, varlet and impostor!" exclaimed the duke; and he was about himself to open the door, when suddenly a loud roar, a terrific explosion was heard. Alas! Adam Warner had not yet discovered for his engine what we now call the safety-valve. The steam contained in the miniature boiler had acquired an undue pressure; Adam's attention had been too much engrossed to notice the signs of the growing increase, and the rest may be easily conceived. Nothing could equal the stupor and the horror of the spectators at this explosion, save only the boy-duke, who remained immovable, and still frowning. All rushed to the door, huddling one on the other, scarcely knowing what next was to befall them, but certain that the wizard was bent upon their destruction. Edward was the first to recover himself; and seeing that no lives were lost, his first impulse was that of ungovernable rage.
"Foul traitor!" he exclaimed, "was it for this that thou hast pretended to beguile us with thy damnable sorceries? Seize him! Away to the Tower Hill! and let the priest patter an ave while the doomsman knots the rope."
Not a hand stirred; even Catesby would as lief have touched the king's lion before meals, as that poor mechanician, standing aghast, and unheeding all, beside his mutilated engine.
"Master Nevile," said the king, sternly, "dost thou hear us?
"Verily," muttered the Nevile, approaching very slowly, "I knew what would happen; but to lay hands on my host, an' he were fifty times a wizard—No! My liege," he said in a firm tone, but falling on his knee, and his gallant countenance pale with generous terror, "my liege, forgive me. This man succoured me when struck down and wounded by a Lancastrian ruffian; this man gave me shelter, food, and healing. Command me not, O gracious my lord, to aid in taking the life of one to whom I owe my own."
"His life!" exclaimed the Duchess of Bedford,—"the life of this most illustrious person! Sire, you do not dream it!"
"Heh! by the saints, what now?" cried the king, whose choler, though fierce and ruthless, was as short-lived as the passions of the indolent usually are, and whom the earnest interposition of his mother-in-law much surprised and diverted. "If, fair belle-mere, thou thinkest it so illustrious a deed to frighten us out of our mortal senses, and narrowly to 'scape sending us across the river like a bevy of balls from a bombard, there is no disputing of tastes. Rise up, Master Nevile, we esteem thee not less for thy boldness; ever be the host and the benefactor revered by English gentlemen and Christian youth. Master Warner may go free."
Here Warner uttered so deep and hollow a groan, that it startled all present.
"Twenty-five years of labour, and not to have seen this!" he ejaculated. "Twenty and five years, and all wasted! How repair this disaster? O fatal day!"
"What says he? What means he?" said Jacquetta.
"Come home!—home!" said Marmaduke, approaching the philosopher, in great alarm lest he should once more jeopardize his life. But Adam, shaking him off, began eagerly, and with tremulous hands, to examine the machine, and not perceiving any mode by which to guard in future against a danger that he saw at once would, if not removed, render his invention useless, tottered to a chair and covered his face with his hands.
"He seemeth mightily grieved that our bones are still whole!" muttered Edward. "And why, belle-mere mine, wouldst thou protect this pleasant tregetour?"
"What!" said the duchess, "see you not that a man capable of such devices must be of doughty service against our foes?"
"Not I. How?"
"Why, if merely to signify his displeasure at our young Richard's over-curious meddling, he can cause this strange engine to shake the walls,—nay, to destroy itself,—think what he might do were his power and malice at our disposing. I know something of these nigromancers."
"And would you knew less! for already the commons murmur at your favour to them. But be it as you will. And now—ho, there! let our steeds be caparisoned."
"You forget, sire," said Richard, who had hitherto silently watched the various parties, "the object for which we summoned this worthy man. Please you now, sir, to open that door."
"No, no!" exclaimed the king, hastily, "I will have no more provoking the foul fiend; conspirator or not, I have had enough of Master Warner. Pah! My poor placard is turned lampblack. Sweet mother-in-law, take him under thy protection; and Richard, come with me."
So saying, the king linked his arm in that of the reluctant Gloucester, and quitted the room. The duchess then ordered the rest also to depart, and was left alone with the crest-fallen philosopher.
CHAPTER VII. MY LADY DUCHESS'S OPINION OF THE UTILITY OF MASTER WARNER'S INVENTION, AND HER ESTEEM FOR ITS—EXPLOSION.
Adam, utterly unheeding, or rather deaf to, the discussion that had taken place, and his narrow escape from cord and gibbet, lifted his head peevishly from his bosom, as the duchess rested her hand almost caressingly on his shoulder, and thus addressed him,—
"Most puissant Sir, think not that I am one of those who, in their ignorance and folly, slight the mysteries of which thou art clearly so great a master. When I heard thee speak of subjecting Nature to Man, I at once comprehended thee, and blushed for the dulness of my kindred."
"Ah, lady, thou hast studied, then, the mathematics. Alack! this is a grievous blow; but it is no inherent fault in the device. I am clearly of mind that it can be remedied. But oh! what time, what thought, what sleepless nights, what gold will be needed!"
"Give me thy sleepless nights and thy grand thoughts, and thou shalt not want gold."
"Lady," cried Adam, starting to his feet, "do I hear aright? Art thou, in truth, the patron I have so long dreamed of? Hast thou the brain and the heart to aid the pursuits of science?"
"Ay! and the power to protect the students! Sage, I am the Duchess of Bedford, whom men accuse of witchcraft,—as thee of wizardy. From the wife of a private gentleman, I have become the mother of a queen. I stand amidst a court full of foes; I desire gold to corrupt, and wisdom to guard against, and means to destroy them. And I seek all these in men like thee!"
Adam turned on her his bewildered eyes, and made no answer.
"They tell me," said the duchess, "that Henry of Windsor employed learned men to transmute the baser metals into gold. Wert thou one of them?"
"Thou knowest that art?"
"I studied it in my youth, but the ingredients of the crucible were too costly."
"Thou shalt not lack them with me. Thou knowest the lore of the stars, and canst foretell the designs of enemies,—the hour whether to act or to forbear?"
"Astrology I have studied, but that also was in youth; for there dwelleth in the pure mathematics that have led me to this invention—"
"Truce with that invention, whatever it be; think of it no more,—it has served its end in the explosion, which proved thy power of mischief. High objects are now before thee. Wilt thou be of my household, one of my alchemists and astrologers? Thou shalt have leisure, honour, and all the moneys thou canst need."
"Moneys!" said Adam, eagerly, and casting his eyes upon the mangled model. "Well, I agree; what you will,—alchemist, astrologist, wizard,—what you will. This shall all be repaired,—all; I begin to see now, all! I begin to see; yes, if a pipe by which the too-excessive vapour could—ay, ay!—right, right," and he rubbed his hands.
Jacquetta was struck with his enthusiasm. "But surely, Master Warner, this has some virtue you have not vouchsafed to explain; confide in me, can it change iron to gold?"
"Can it predict the future?"
"Can it prolong life?"
"Then, in God's name let us waste no more time about it!" said the duchess, impatiently,—"your art is mine now. Ho, there!—I will send my page to conduct thee to thy apartments, and thou shalt lodge next to Friar Bungey, a man of wondrous lere, Master Warner, and a worthy confrere in thy researches. Hast thou any one of kith and kin at home to whom thou wilt announce thy advancement?"
"Ah, lady! Heaven forgive me, I have a daughter,—an only child,—my Sibyll; I cannot leave her alone, and—"
"Well, nothing should distract thy cares from thine art,—she shall be sent for. I will rank her amongst my maidens. Fare-thee-well, Master Warner! At night I will send for thee, and appoint the tasks I would have thee accomplish."
So saying, the duchess quitted the room, and left Adam alone, bending over his model in deep revery.
From this absorption it was the poor man's fate to be again aroused.
The peculiar character of the boy-prince of Gloucester was that of one who, having once seized upon an object, never willingly relinquished it. First, he crept and slid and coiled round it as the snake. But if craft failed, his passion, roused by resistance, sprang at his prey with a lion's leap: and whoever examines the career of this extraordinary personage, will perceive, that whatever might be his habitual hypocrisy, he seemed to lose sight of it wholly when once resolved upon force. Then the naked ferocity with which the destructive propensity swept away the objects in his path becomes fearfully and startlingly apparent, and offers a strange contrast to the wily duplicity with which, in calmer moments, he seems to have sought to coax the victim into his folds. Firmly convinced that Adam's engine had been made the medium of dangerous and treasonable correspondence with the royal prisoner, and of that suspicious, restless, feverish temperament which never slept when a fear was wakened, a doubt conceived, he had broke from his brother, whose more open valour and less unquiet intellect were ever willing to leave the crown defended but by the gibbet for the detected traitor, the sword for the declared foe; and obtaining Edward's permission "to inquire further into these strange matters," he sent at once for the porter who had conveyed the model to the Tower; but that suspicious accomplice was gone. The sound of the explosion of the engine had no less startled the guard below than the spectators above. Releasing their hold of their prisoner, they had some taken fairly to their heels, others rushed into the palace to learn what mischief had ensued; and Hugh, with the quick discretion of his north country, had not lost so favourable an opportunity for escape. There stood the dozing mule at the door below, but the guide was vanished. More confirmed in his suspicions by this disappearance of Adam's companion, Richard, giving some preparatory orders to Catesby, turned at once to the room which still held the philosopher and his device. He closed the door on entering, and his brow was dark and sinister as he approached the musing inmate. But here we must return to Sibyll.
CHAPTER VIII. THE OLD WOMAN TALKS OF SORROWS, THE YOUNG WOMAN DREAMS OF LOVE; THE COURTIER FLIES FROM PRESENT POWER TO REMEMBRANCES OF PAST HOPES, AND THE WORLD-BETTERED OPENS UTOPIA, WITH A VIEW OF THE GIBBET FOR THE SILLY SAGE HE HAS SEDUCED INTO HIS SCHEMES,—SO, EVER AND EVERMORE, RUNS THE WORLD AWAY!
The old lady looked up from her embroidery-frame, as Sibyll sat musing on a stool before her; she scanned the maiden with a wistful and somewhat melancholy eye.
"Fair girl," she said, breaking a silence that had lasted for some moments, "it seems to me that I have seen thy face before. Wert thou never in Queen Margaret's court?"
"In childhood, yes, lady."
"Do you not remember me, the dame of Longueville?" Sibyll started in surprise, and gazed long before she recognized the features of her hostess; for the dame of Longueville had been still, when Sibyll was a child at the court, renowned for matronly beauty, and the change was greater than the lapse of years could account for. The lady smiled sadly: "Yes, you marvel to see me thus bent and faded. Maiden, I lost my husband at the battle of St. Alban's, and my three sons in the field of Towton. My lands and my wealth have been confiscated to enrich new men; and to one of them—one of the enemies of the only king whom Alice de Longueville will acknowledge—I owe the food for my board and the roof for my head. Do you marvel now that I am so changed?"
Sibyll rose and kissed the lady's hand, and the tear that sparkled on its surface was her only answer.
"I learn," said the dame of Longueville, "that your father has an order from the Lord Hastings to see King Henry. I trust that he will rest here as he returns, to tell me how the monarch-saint bears his afflictions. But I know: his example should console us all." She paused a moment, and resumed, "Sees your father much of the Lord Hastings?"
"He never saw him that I weet of," answered Sibyll, blushing; "the order was given, but as of usual form to a learned scholar."
"But given to whom?" persisted the lady. "To—to me," replied Sibyll, falteringly. The dame of Longueville smiled.
"Ah, Hastings could scarcely say no to a prayer from such rosy lips. But let me not imply aught to disparage his humane and gracious heart. To Lord Hastings, next to God and his saints, I owe all that is left to me on earth. Strange that he is not yet here! This is the usual day and hour on which he comes, from pomp and pleasurement, to visit the lonely widow." And, pleased to find an attentive listener to her grateful loquacity, the dame then proceeded, with warm eulogies upon her protector, to inform Sibyll that her husband had, in the first outbreak of the Civil War, chanced to capture Hastings, and, moved by his valour and youth, and some old connections with his father, Sir Leonard, had favoured his escape from the certain death that awaited him from the wrath of the relentless Margaret. After the field of Towton, Hastings had accepted one of the manors confiscated from the attainted House of Longueville, solely that he might restore it to the widow of the fallen lord; and with a chivalrous consideration, not contented with beneficence, he omitted no occasion to show to the noblewoman whatever homage and respect might soothe the pride, which, in the poverty of those who have been great, becomes disease. The loyalty of the Lady Longueville was carried to a sentiment most rare in that day, and rather resembling the devotion inspired by the later Stuarts. She made her home within the precincts of the Tower, that, morning and eve, when Henry opened his lattice to greet the rising and the setting sun, she might catch a dim and distant glance of the captive king, or animate, by that sad sight, the hopes and courage of the Lancastrian emissaries, to whom, fearless of danger, she scrupled not to give counsel, and, at need, asylum.
While Sibyll, with enchanted sense, was listening to the praise of Hastings, a low knock at the door was succeeded by the entrance of that nobleman himself. Not to Elizabeth, in the alcoves of Shene, or on the dais of the palace hall, did the graceful courtier bend with more respectful reverence than to the powerless widow, whose very bread was his alms; for the true high-breeding of chivalry exists not without delicacy of feeling, formed originally by warmth of heart; and though the warmth may lose its glow, the delicacy endures, as the steel that acquires through heat its polish retains its lustre, even when the shine but betrays the hardness.
"And how fares my noble lady of Longueville? But need I ask? for her cheek still wears the rose of Lancaster. A companion? Ha! Mistress Warner, I learn now how much pleasure exists in surprise!"
"My young visitor," said the dame, "is but an old friend; she was one of the child-maidens reared at the court of Queen Margaret."
"In sooth!" exclaimed Hastings; and then, in an altered tone, he added, "but I should have guessed so much grace had not come all from Nature. And your father has gone to see the Lord Henry, and you rest, here, his return? Ah, noble lady, may you harbour always such innocent Lancastrians!" The fascinations of this eminent person's voice and manner were such that they soon restored Sibyll, to the ease she had lost at his sudden entrance. He conversed gayly with the old dame upon such matters of court anecdote as in all the changes of state were still welcome to one so long accustomed to court air; but from time to time he addressed himself to Sibyll, and provoked replies which startled herself—for she was not yet well aware of her own gifts—by their spirit and intelligence.
"You do not tell us," said the Lady Longueville, sarcastically, "of the happy spousailles of Elizabeth's brother with the Duchess of Norfolk,—a bachelor of twenty, a bride of some eighty-two. [The old chronicler justly calls this a "diabolical marriage." It greatly roused the wrath of the nobles and indeed of all honourable men, as a proof of the shameless avarice of the queen's family.] Verily, these alliances are new things in the history of English royalty. But when Edward, who, even if not a rightful king, is at least a born Plantagenet, condescended to marry Mistress Elizabeth, a born Woodville, scarce of good gentleman's blood, naught else seems strange enough to provoke marvel."
"As to the last matter," returned Hastings, gravely, "though her grace the queen be no warm friend to me, I must needs become her champion and the king's. The lady who refused the dishonouring suit of the fairest prince and the boldest knight in the Christian world thereby made herself worthy of the suit that honoured her; it was not Elizabeth Woodville alone that won the purple. On the day she mounted a throne, the chastity of woman herself was crowned."
"What!" said the Lady Longueville, angrily, "mean you to say that there is no disgrace in the mal-alliance of kite and falcon, of Plantagenet and Woodville, of high-born and mud-descended?"
"You forget, lady, that the widow of Henry the Fifth, Catherine of Valois, a king's daughter, married the Welsh soldier, Owen Tudor; that all England teems with brave men born from similar spousailles, where love has levelled all distinctions, and made a purer hearth, and raised a bolder offspring, than the lukewarm likings of hearts that beat but for lands and gold. Wherefore, lady, appeal not to me, a squire of dames, a believer in the old Parliament of Love; whoever is fair and chaste, gentle and loving, is, in the eyes of William de Hastings, the mate and equal of a king!"
Sibyll turned involuntarily as the courtier spoke thus, with animation in his voice, and fire in his eyes; she turned, and her breath came quick; she turned, and her look met his, and those words and that look sank deep into her heart; they called forth brilliant and ambitious dreams; they rooted the growing love, but they aided to make it holy; they gave to the delicious fancy what before it had not paused, on its wing, to sigh for; they gave it that without which all fancy sooner or later dies; they gave it that which, once received in a noble heart, is the excuse for untiring faith; they gave it,—HOPE!
"And thou wouldst say," replied the lady of Longueville, with a meaning smile, still more emphatically—"thou wouldst say that a youth, brave and well nurtured, ambitious and loving, ought, in the eyes of rank and pride, to be the mate and equal of—"
"Ah, noble dame," interrupted Hastings, quickly, "I must not prolong encounter with so sharp a wit. Let me leave that answer to this fair maiden, for by rights it is a challenge to her sex, not to mine."
"How say you, then, Mistress Warner?" said the dame. "Suppose a young heiress, of the loftiest birth, of the broadest lands, of the comeliest form—suppose her wooed by a gentleman poor and stationless, but with a mighty soul, born to achieve greatness, would she lower herself by hearkening to his suit?"
"A maiden, methinks," answered Sibyll, with reluctant but charming hesitation, "cannot love truly if she love unworthily; and if she love worthily, it is not rank nor wealth she loves."
"But her parents, sweet mistress, may deem differently; and should not her love refuse submission to their tyranny?" asked Hastings.
"Nay, good my lord, nay," returned Sibyll, shaking her head with thoughtful demureness. "Surely the wooer, if he love worthily, will not press her to the curse of a child's disobedience and a parent's wrath!"
"Shrewdly answered," said the dame of Longueville. "Then she would renounce the poor gentleman if the parent ordain her to marry a rich lord. Ah, you hesitate, for a woman's ambition is pleased with the excuse of a child's obedience."
Hastings said this so bitterly that Sibyll could not but perceive that some personal feeling gave significance to his words. Yet how could they be applied to him,—to one now in rank and repute equal to the highest below the throne?
"If the demoiselle should so choose," said the dame of Longueville, "it seemeth to me that the rejected suitor might find it facile to disdain and to forget."
Hastings made no reply; but that remarkable and deep shade of melancholy which sometimes in his gayest hours startled those who beheld it, and which had, perhaps, induced many of the prophecies that circulated as to the untimely and violent death that should close his bright career, gathered like a cloud over his brow. At this moment the door opened gently, and Robert Hilyard stood at the aperture. He was clad in the dress of a friar, but the raised cowl showed his features to the lady of Longueville, to whom alone he was visible; and those bold features were literally haggard with agitation and alarm. He lifted his finger to his lips, and motioning the lady to follow him, closed the door.
The dame of Longueville rose, and praying her visitors to excuse her absence for a few moments, she left Hastings and Sibyll to themselves.
"Lady," said Hilyard, in a hollow whisper, as soon as the dame appeared in the low hall, communicating on the one hand with the room just left, on the other with the street, "I fear all will be detected. Hush! Adam and the iron coffer that contains the precious papers have been conducted to Edward's presence. A terrible explosion, possibly connected with the contrivance, caused such confusion among the guards that Hugh escaped to scare me with his news. Stationed near the gate in this disguise, I ventured to enter the courtyard, and saw—saw—the TORMENTOR! the torturer, the hideous, masked minister of agony, led towards the chambers in which our hapless messenger is examined by the ruthless tyrants. Gloucester, the lynx-eyed mannikin, is there!"
"O Margaret, my queen," exclaimed the lady of Longueville, "the papers will reveal her whereabout."
"No, she is safe!" returned Hilyard; "but thy poor scholar, I tremble for him, and for the heads of all whom the papers name."
"What can be done! Ha! Lord Hastings is here,—he is ever humane and pitiful. Dare we confide in him?"
A bright gleam shot over Hilyard's face. "Yes, yes; let me confer with him alone. I wait him here,—quick!" The lady hastened back. Hastings was conversing in a low voice with Sibyll. The dame of Longueville whispered in the courtier's ear, drew him into the hall, and left him alone with the false friar, who had drawn the cowl over his face.
"Lord Hastings," said Hilyard, speaking rapidly, "you are in danger, if not of loss of life, of loss of favour. You gave a passport to one Warner to see the ex-king Henry. Warner's simplicity (for he is innocent) hath been duped,—he is made the bearer of secret intelligence from the unhappy gentlemen who still cling to the Lancaster cause. He is suspected, he is examined; he may be questioned by the torture. If the treason be discovered, it was thy hand that signed the passport; the queen, thou knowest, hates thee, the Woodvilles thirst for thy downfall. What handle may this give them! Fly! my lord,—fly to the Tower; thou mayst yet be in time; thy wit can screen all that may otherwise be bare. Save this poor scholar, conceal this correspondence. Hark ye, lord! frown not so haughtily,—that correspondence names thee as one who hast taken the gold of Count Charolois, and whom, therefore, King Louis may outbuy. Look to thyself!"
A slight blush passed over the pale brow of the great statesman, but he answered with a steady voice, "Friar or layman, I care not which, the gold of the heir of Burgundy was a gift, not a bribe. But I need no threats to save, if not too late, from rack and gibbet the life of a guiltless man. I am gone. Hold! bid the maiden, the scholar's daughter, follow me to the Tower."
CHAPTER IX. HOW THE DESTRUCTIVE ORGAN OF PRINCE RICHARD PROMISES GOODLY DEVELOPMENT.
The Duke of Gloucester approached Adam as he stood gazing on his model. "Old man," said the prince, touching him with the point of his sheathed dagger, "look up and answer. What converse hast thou held with Henry of Windsor, and who commissioned thee to visit him in his confinement? Speak, and the truth! for by holy Paul, I am one who can detect a lie, and without that door stands—the Tormentor!"
Upon a pleasing and joyous dream broke these harsh words; for Adam then was full of the contrivance by which to repair the defect of the engine, and with this suggestion was blent confusedly the thought that he was now protected by royalty, that he should have means and leisure to accomplish his great design, that he should have friends whose power could obtain its adoption by the king. He raised his eyes, and that young dark face frowned upon him,—the child menacing the sage, brute force in a pigmy shape, having authority of life and death over the giant strength of genius. But these words, which recalled Warner from his existence as philosopher, woke that of the gentle but brave and honourable man which he was, when reduced to earth.
"Sir," he said gravely, "if I have consented to hold converse with the unhappy, it was not as the tell-tale and the spier. I had formal warrant for my visit, and I was solicited to render it by an early friend and comrade, who sought to be my benefactor in aiding with gold my poor studies for the king's people."
"Tut!" said Richard, impatiently, and playing with his dagger hilt; "thy words, stealthy and evasive, prove thy guilt! Sure am I that this iron traitor with its intricate hollows and recesses holds what, unless confessed, will give thee to the hangman! Confess all, and thou art spared."
"If," said Adam, mildly, "your Highness—for though I know not your quality, I opine that no one less than royal could so menace—if your Highness imagines that I have been intrusted by a fallen man, wrong me not by supposing that I could fear death more than dishonour; for certes!" continued Adam, with innocent pedantry, "to put the case scholastically, and in the logic familiar, doubtless, to your Highness, either I have something to confess or I have not; if I have—"
"Hound!" interrupted the prince, stamping his foot, "thinkest thou to banter me,—see!" As his foot shook the floor, the door opened, and a man with his arms bare, covered from head to foot in a black gown of serge, with his features concealed by a hideous mask, stood ominously at the aperture.
The prince motioned to the torturer (or tormentor, as he was technically styled) to approach, which he did noiselessly, till he stood, tall, grim, and lowering, beside Adam, like some silent and devouring monster by its prey.
"Dost thou repent thy contumacy? A moment, and I render my questioning to another!"
"Sir," said Adam, drawing himself up, and with so sudden a change of mien, that his loftiness almost awed even the dauntless Richard,—"sir, my fathers feared not death when they did battle for the throne of England; and why?—because in their loyal valour they placed not the interests of a mortal man, but the cause of imperishable honour! And though their son be a poor scholar, and wears not the spurs of gold; though his frame be weak and his hairs gray, he loveth honour also well eno' to look without dread on death!"
Fierce and ruthless, when irritated and opposed, as the prince was, he was still in his first youth,—ambition had here no motive to harden him into stone. He was naturally so brave himself that bravery could not fail to win from him something of respect and sympathy, and he was taken wholly by surprise in hearing the language of a knight and hero from one whom he had regarded but as the artful impostor or the despicable intriguer.
He changed countenance as Warner spoke, and remained a moment silent. Then as a thought occurred to him, at which his features relaxed into a half-smile, he beckoned to the tormentor, said a word in his ear, and the horrible intruder nodded and withdrew.
"Master Warner," then said the prince, in his customary sweet and gliding tones, "it were a pity that so gallant a gentleman should be exposed to peril for adhesion to a cause that can never prosper, and that would be fatal, could it prosper, to our common country. For look you, this Margaret, who is now, we believe, in London" (here he examined Adam's countenance, which evinced surprise), "this Margaret, who is seeking to rekindle the brand and brennen of civil war, has already sold for base gold to the enemy of the realm, to Louis XI., that very Calais which your fathers, doubtless, lavished their blood to annex to our possessions. Shame on the lewd harlot! What woman so bloody and so dissolute? What man so feeble and craven as her lord?"
"Alas! sir," said Adam, "I am unfitted for these high considerations of state. I live but for my art, and in it. And now, behold how my kingdom is shaken and rent!" he pointed with so touching a smile, and so simple a sadness, to the broken engine, that Richard was moved.
"Thou lovest this, thy toy? I can comprehend that love for some dumb thing that we have toiled for. Ay!" continued the prince, thoughtfully,—"ay! I have noted myself in life that there are objects, senseless as that mould of iron, which if we labour at them wind round our hearts as if they were flesh and blood. So some men love learning, others glory, others power. Well, man, thou lovest that mechanical? How many years hast thou been about it?"
"From the first to the last, twenty-five years, and it is still incomplete."
"Um!" said the prince, smiling, "Master Warner, thou hast read of the judgment of Solomon,—how the wise king discovered the truth by ordering the child's death?"
"It was indeed," said Adam, unsuspectingly, "a most shrewd suggestion of native wit and clerkly wisdom."
"Glad am I thou approvest it, Master Warner," said Richard. And as he spoke the tormentor reappeared with a smith, armed with the implements of his trade.
"Good smith, break into pieces this stubborn iron; bare all its receptacles; leave not one fragment standing on the other! 'Delenda est tua Carthago,' Master Warner. There is Latin in answer to thy logic."
It is impossible to convey any notion of the terror, the rage, the despair, which seized upon the unhappy sage when these words smote his ear, and he saw the smith's brawny arms swing on high the ponderous hammer. He flung himself between the murderous stroke and his beloved model. He embraced the grim iron tightly. "Kill me!" he exclaimed sublimely, "kill me!—not my THOUGHT!"
"Solomon was verily and indeed a wise king," said the duke, with a low inward laugh. "And now, man, I have thee! To save thy infant, thine art's hideous infant, confess the whole!"
It was then that a fierce struggle evidently took place in Adam's bosom. It was, perhaps—O reader! thou whom pleasure, love, ambition, hatred, avarice, in thine and our ordinary existence, tempt—it was, perhaps, to him the one arch-temptation of a life. In the changing countenance, the heaving breast, the trembling lip, the eyes that closed and opened to close again, as if to shut out the unworthy weakness,—yea, in the whole physical man,—was seen the crisis of the moral struggle. And what, in truth, to him an Edward or a Henry, a Lancaster or a York? Nothing. But still that instinct, that principle, that conscience, ever strongest in those whose eyes are accustomed to the search of truth, prevailed. So he rose suddenly and quietly, drew himself apart, left his work to the Destroyer, and said,—
"Prince, thou art a boy! Let a boy's voice annihilate that which should have served all time. Strike!"
Richard motioned; the hammer descended, the engine and its appurtenances reeled and crashed, the doors flew open, the wheels rattled, the sparks flew. And Adam Warner fell to the ground, as if the blow had broken his own heart. Little heeding the insensible victim of his hard and cunning policy, Richard advanced to the inspection of the interior recesses of the machinery. But that which promised Adam's destruction saved him. The heavy stroke had battered in the receptacle of the documents, had buried them in the layers of iron. The faithful Eureka, even amidst its injuries and wrecks, preserved the secret of its master.
The prince, with impatient hands, explored all the apertures yet revealed, and after wasting many minutes in a fruitless search, was about to bid the smith complete the work of destruction, when the door suddenly opened and Lord Hastings entered. His quick eye took in the whole scene; he arrested the lifted arm of the smith, and passing deliberately to Gloucester, said, with a profound reverence, but a half-reproachful smile, "My lord! my lord! your Highness is indeed severe upon my poor scholar."
"Canst thou answer for thy scholar's loyalty?" said the duke, gloomily.
Hastings drew the prince aside, and said, in a low tone, "His loyalty! poor man, I know not; but his guilelessness, surely, yes. Look you, sweet prince, I know the interest thou hast in keeping well with the Earl of Warwick, whom I, in sooth, have slight cause to love. Thou hast trusted me with thy young hopes of the Lady Anne; this new Nevile placed about the king, and whose fortunes Warwick hath made his care, hath, I have reason to think, some love passages with the scholar's daughter,—the daughter came to me for the passport. Shall this Marmaduke Nevile have it to say to his fair kinswoman, with the unforgiving malice of a lover's memory, that the princely Gloucester stooped to be the torturer of yon poor old man? If there be treason in the scholar or in yon battered craft-work, leave the search to me!"
The duke raised his dark, penetrating eyes to those of Hastings, which did not quail; for here world-genius encountered world-genius, and art, art.
"Thine argument hath more subtlety and circumlocution than suit with simple truth," said the prince, smiling. "But it is enough to Richard that Hastings wills protection even to a spy!"
Hastings kissed the duke's hand in silence, and going to the door, he disappeared a moment and returned with Sibyll. As she entered, pale and trembling, Adam rose, and the girl with a wild cry flew to his bosom.
"It is a winsome face, Hastings," said the duke, dryly. "I pity Master Nevile the lover, and envy my Lord Chamberlain the protector."
Hastings laughed, for he was well pleased that Richard's suspicion took that turn.
"And now," he said, "I suppose Master Nevile and the Duchess of Bedford's page may enter. Your guard stopped them hitherto. They come for this gentleman from her highness the queen's mother."
"Enter, Master Nevile, and you, Sir Page. What is your errand?"
"My lady, the duchess," said the page, "has sent me to conduct Master Warner to the apartments prepared for him as her special multiplier and alchemist."
"What!" said the prince, who, unlike the irritable Clarence, made it his policy to show all decorous homage to the queen's kin, "hath that illustrious lady taken this gentleman into her service? Why announced you not, Master Warner, what at once had saved you from further questioning? Lord Hastings, I thank you now for your intercession."
Hastings, in answer, pointed archly at Marmaduke, who was aiding Sibyll to support her father. "Do you suspect me still, prince?" he whispered.
The duke shrugged his shoulders, and Adam, breaking from Marmaduke and Sibyll, passed with tottering steps to the shattered labour of his solitary life. He looked at the ruin with mournful despondence, with quivering lips. "Have you done with me?" then he said, bowing his head lowlily, for his pride was gone; "may we—that is, I and this, my poor device—withdraw from your palace? I see we are not fit for kings!"
"Say not so," said the young duke, gently: "we have now convinced ourselves of our error, and I crave thy pardon, Master Warner, for my harsh dealings. As for this, thy toy, the king's workmen shall set it right for thee. Smith, call the fellows yonder, to help bear this to—" He paused, and glanced at Hastings.
"To my apartments," said the chamberlain. "Your Highness may be sure that I will there inspect it. Fear not, Master Warner; no further harm shall chance to thy contrivance."
"Come, sir, forgive me," said the duke. With gracious affability the young prince held out his hand, the fingers of which sparkled with costly gems, to the old man. The old man bowed as if his beard would have swept the earth, but he did not touch the hand. He seemed still in a state between dream and reason, life and death: he moved not, spoke not, till the men came to bear the model; and he then followed it, his arms folded in his gown, till, on entering the court, it was borne in a contrary direction from his own, to the chamberlain's apartment; then wistfully pursuing it with his eyes, he uttered such a sigh as might have come from a resigned father losing the last glimpse of a beloved son.
Richard hesitated a moment, loth to relinquish his research, and doubtful whether to follow the Eureka for renewed investigation; but partly unwilling to compromise his dignity in the eyes of Hastings, should his suspicions prove unfounded, and partly indisposed to risk the displeasure of the vindictive Duchess of Bedford by further molestation of one now under her protection, he reluctantly trusted all further inquiry to the well-known loyalty of Hastings. "If Margaret be in London," he muttered to himself as he turned slowly away, "now is the time to seize and chain the lioness! Ho, Catesby,—hither (a valuable man that Catesby—a lawyer's nurturing with a bloodhound's nature!)—Catesby, while King Edward rides for pleasure, let thou and I track the scent of his foes. If the she-wolf of Anjou hath ventured hither, she hides in some convent or monastery, be sure. See to our palfreys, Catesby! Strange," added the prince, muttering to himself, "that I am more restless to guard the crown than he who wears it! Nay, a crown is a goodly heirloom in a man's family, and a fair sight to see near—and near—and near—"
The prince abruptly paused, opened and shut his right hand convulsively, and drew a long sigh.
BOOK IV. INTRIGUES OF THE COURT OF EDWARD IV.
CHAPTER I. MARGARET OF ANJOU.
The day after the events recorded in the last section of this narrative, and about the hour of noon, Robert Hilyard (still in the reverend disguise in which he had accosted Hastings) bent his way through the labyrinth of alleys that wound in dingy confusion from the Chepe towards the river.
The purlieus of the Thames, in that day of ineffective police, sheltered many who either lived upon plunder, or sought abodes that proffered, at alarm, the facility of flight. Here, sauntering in twos or threes, or lazily reclined by the threshold of plaster huts, might be seen that refuse population which is the unholy offspring of civil war,—disbanded soldiers of either Rose, too inured to violence and strife for peaceful employment, and ready for any enterprise by which keen steel wins bright gold. At length our friend stopped before the gate of a small house, on the very marge of the river, which belonged to one of the many religious orders then existing; but from its site and aspect denoted the poverty seldom their characteristic. Here he knocked; the door was opened by a lay-brother; a sign and a smile were interchanged, and the visitor was ushered into a room belonging to the superior, but given up for the last few days to a foreign priest, to whom the whole community appeared to consider the reverence of a saint was due. And yet this priest, who, seated alone, by a casement which commanded a partial view of the distant Tower of London, received the conspirator, was clad in the humblest serge. His face was smooth and delicate; and the animation of the aspect, the vehement impatience of the gesture, evinced little of the holy calm that should belong to those who have relinquished the affairs of earth for meditation on the things of heaven. To this personage the sturdy Hilyard bowed his manly knees; and casting himself at the priest's feet, his eyes, his countenance, changed from their customary hardihood and recklessness into an expression at once of reverence and of pity.
"Well, man—well, friend—good friend, tried and leal friend, speak! speak!" exclaimed the priest, in an accent that plainly revealed a foreign birth.
"Oh, gracious lady! all hope is over; I come but to bid you fly. Adam Warner was brought before the usurper; he escaped, indeed, the torture, and was faithful to the trust. But the papers—the secret of the rising—are in the hands of Hastings."
"How long, O Lord," said Margaret of Anjou, for she it was, under that reverend disguise, "how long wilt Thou delay the hour of triumph and revenge?"
The princess as she spoke had suffered her hood to fall back, and her pale, commanding countenance, so well fitted to express fiery and terrible emotion, wore that aspect in which many a sentenced man had read his doom,—an aspect the more fearful, inasmuch as the passion that pervaded it did not distort the features, but left them locked, rigid, and marble-like in beauty, as the head of the Medusa.
"The day will dawn at last," said Hilyard; "but the judgments of Heaven are slow. We are favoured, at the least, that our secret is confined to a man more merciful than his tribe." He then related to Margaret his interview with Hastings at the house of the Lady Lougueville, and continued: "This morning, not an hour since, I sought him (for last evening he did not leave Edward, a council met at the Tower), and learned that he had detected the documents in the recesses of Warner's engine. Knowing from your Highness and your spies that he had been open to the gifts of Charolois, I spoke to him plainly of the guerdon that should await his silence. 'Friar,' he answered, 'if in this court and this world I have found it were a fool's virtue to be more pure than others, and if I know that I should but provoke the wrath of those who profit by Burgundian gold, were I alone to disdain its glitter, I have still eno' of my younger conscience left me not to make barter of human flesh. Did I give these papers to King Edward, the heads of fifty gallant men, whose error is but loyalty to their ancient sovereign, would glut the doomsman; but,' he continued, 'I am yet true to my king and his cause; I shall know how to advise Edward to the frustrating all your schemes. The districts where you hoped a rising will be guarded, the men ye count upon will be watched: the Duke of Gloucester, whose vigilance never sleeps, has learned that the Lady Margaret is in England, disguised as a priest. To-morrow all the religious houses will be searched; if thou knowest where she lies concealed, bid her lose not an hour to fly.'"
"I Will NOT fly!" exclaimed Margaret; "let Edward, if he dare, proclaim to my people that their queen is in her city of London. Let him send his hirelings to seize her. Not in this dress shall she be found. In robes of state, the sceptre in her hand, shall they drag the consort of their king to the prison-house of her palace."
"On my knees, great queen, I implore you to be calm; with the loss of your liberty ends indeed all hope of victory, all chance even of struggle. Think not Edward's fears would leave to Margaret the life that his disdain has spared to your royal spouse. Between your prison and your grave, but one secret and bloody step! Be ruled; no time to lose! My trusty Hugh even now waits with his boat below. Relays of horses are ready, night and day, to bear you to the coast; while seeking your restoration, I have never neglected the facilities for flight. Pause not, O gracious lady; let not your son say, 'My mother's passion has lost me the hope of my grandsire's crown.'"
"My boy; my princely boy, my Edward!" exclaimed Margaret, bursting into tears, all the warrior-queen merged in the remembrance of the fond mother. "Ah, faithful friend! he is so gallant and so beautiful! Oh, he shall reward thee well hereafter!"
"May he live to crush these barons, and raise this people!" said the demagogue of Redesdale. "But now, save thyself!"
"But what! is it not possible yet to strike the blow? Rather let us spur to the north; rather let us hasten the hour of action, and raise the Red Rose through the length and breadth of England!"
"Ah, lady, if without warrant from your lord; if without foreign subsidies; if without having yet ripened the time; if without gold, without arms, and without one great baron on our side, we forestall a rising, all that we have gained is lost; and instead of war, you can scarcely provoke a riot. But for this accursed alliance of Edward's daughter with the brother of icy-hearted Louis, our triumph had been secure. The French king's gold would have manned a camp, bribed the discontented lords, and his support have sustained the hopes of the more leal Lancastrians. But it is in vain to deny, that if Lord Warwick win Louis—"
"He will not! he shall not!—Louis, mine own kinsman!" exclaimed Margaret, in a voice in which the anguish pierced through the louder tone of resentment and disdain.
"Let us hope that he will not," replied Hilyard, soothingly; "some chance may yet break off these nuptials, and once more give us France as our firm ally. But now we must be patient. Already Edward is fast wearing away the gloss of his crown; already the great lords desert his court; already, in the rural provinces, peasant and franklin complain of the exactions of his minions; already the mighty House of Nevile frowns sullen on the throne it built. Another year, and who knows but the Earl of Warwick,—the beloved and the fearless, whose statesman-art alone hath severed from you the arms and aid of France, at whose lifted finger all England would bristle with armed men—may ride by the side of Margaret through the gates of London?"
"Evil-omened consoler, never!" exclaimed the princess, starting to her feet, with eyes that literally shot fire. "Thinkest thou that the spirit of a queen lies in me so low and crushed, that I, the descendant of Charlemagne, could forgive the wrongs endured from Warwick and his father? But thou, though wise and loyal, art of the Commons; thou knowest not how they feel through whose veins rolls the blood of kings!"
A dark and cold shade fell over the bold face of Robin of Redesdale at these words.
"Ah, lady," he said, with bitterness, "if no misfortune can curb thy pride, in vain would we rebuild thy throne. It is these Commons, Margaret of Anjou—these English Commons—this Saxon People, that can alone secure to thee the holding of the realm which the right arm wins. And, beshrew me, much as I love thy cause, much as thou hast with thy sorrows and thy princely beauty glamoured and spelled my heart and my hand,—ay, so that I, the son of a Lollard, forget the wrongs the Lollards sustained from the House of Lancaster; so that I, who have seen the glorious fruitage of a Republic, yet labour for thee, to overshadow the land with the throne of ONE—yet—yet, lady—yet, if I thought thou wert to be the same Margaret as of old, looking back to thy dead kings, and contemptuous of thy living people, I would not bid one mother's son lift lance or bill on thy behalf."
So resolutely did Robin of Redesdale utter these words, that the queen's haughty eye fell abashed as he spoke; and her craft, or her intellect, which was keen and prompt where her passions did not deafen and blind her judgment, instantly returned to her. Few women equalled this once idol of knight and minstrel, in the subduing fascination that she could exert in her happier moments. Her affability was as gracious as her wrath was savage; and with a dignified and winning frankness, she extended her hand to her ally, as she answered, in a sweet, humble, womanly, and almost penitent voice,—
"O bravest and lealest of friends, forgive thy wretched queen. Her troubles distract her brain,—chide her not if they sour her speech. Saints above! will ye not pardon Margaret if at times her nature be turned from the mother's milk into streams of gall and bloody purpose, when ye see, from your homes serene, in what a world of strife and falsehood her very womanhood hath grown unsexed?" She paused a moment, and her uplifted eyes shed tears fast and large. Then, with a sigh, she turned to Hilyard, and resumed more calmly, "Yes, thou art right,—adversity hath taught me much. And though adversity will too often but feed and not starve our pride, yet thou—thou hast made me know that there is more of true nobility in the blunt Children of the People than in many a breast over which flows the kingly robe. Forgive me, and the daughter of Charlemagne shall yet be a mother to the Commons, who claim thee as their brother!"
Thoroughly melted, Robin of Redesdale bowed over the hand held to his lips, and his rough voice trembled as he answered, though that answer took but the shape of prayer.
"And now," said the princess, smiling, "to make peace lasting between us, I conquer myself, I yield to thy counsels. Once more the fugitive, I abandon the city that contains Henry's unheeded prison. See, I am ready. Who will know Margaret in this attire? Lead on!"
Rejoiced to seize advantage of this altered and submissive mood, Robin instantly took the way through a narrow passage, to a small door communicating with the river. There Hugh was waiting in a small boat, moored to the damp and discoloured stairs.
Robin, by a gesture, checked the man's impulse to throw himself at the feet of the pretended priest, and bade him put forth his best speed. The princess seated herself by the helm, and the little boat cut rapidly through the noble stream. Galleys, gay and gilded, with armorial streamers, and filled with nobles and gallants, passed them, noisy with mirth or music, on their way. These the fallen sovereign heeded not; but, with all her faults, the woman's heart beating in her bosom—she who in prosperity had so often wrought ruin, and shame, and woe to her gentle lord; she who had been reckless of her trust as queen; and incurred grave—but, let us charitably hope, unjust—suspicion of her faith as wife, still fixed her eyes on the gloomy tower that contained her captive husband, and felt that she could have forgotten a while even the loss of power if but permitted to fall on that plighted heart, and weep over the past with the woe-worn bridegroom of her youth.
CHAPTER II. IN WHICH ARE LAID OPEN TO THE READER THE CHARACTER OF EDWARD THE FOURTH AND THAT OF HIS COURT, WITH THE MACHINATIONS OF THE WOODVILLES AGAINST THE EARL OF WARWICK.
Scarcely need it be said to those who have looked with some philosophy upon human life, that the young existence of Master Marmaduke Nevile, once fairly merged in the great common sea, will rarely reappear before us individualized and distinct. The type of the provincial cadet of the day hastening courtwards to seek his fortune, he becomes lost amidst the gigantic characters and fervid passions that alone stand forth in history. And as, in reading biography, we first take interest in the individual who narrates, but if his career shall pass into that broader and more stirring life, in which he mingles with men who have left a more dazzling memory than his own, we find the interest change from the narrator to those by whom he is surrounded and eclipsed,—so, in this record of a time, we scarce follow our young adventurer into the court of the brilliant Edward ere the scene itself allures and separates us from our guide; his mission is, as it were, well-nigh done. We leave, then, for a while this bold, frank nature-fresh from the health of the rural life—gradually to improve, or deprave itself, in the companionship it finds. The example of the Lords Hastings, Scales, and Worcester, and the accomplishments of the two younger Princes of York, especially the Duke of Gloucester, had diffused among the younger and gayer part of the court that growing taste for letters which had somewhat slept during the dynasty of the House of Lancaster; and Marmaduke's mind became aware that learning was no longer the peculiar distinction of the Church, and that Warwick was behind his age when he boasted "that the sword was more familiar to him than the pen." He had the sagacity to perceive that the alliance with the great earl did not conduce to his popularity at court; and even in the king's presence, the courtiers permitted themselves many taunts and jests at the fiery Warwick, which they would have bitten out their tongues ere they would have vented before the earl himself. But though the Nevile sufficiently controlled his native candour not to incur unprofitable quarrel by ill-mannered and unseasonable defence of the hero-baron when sneered at or assailed, he had enough of the soldier and the man in him not to be tainted by the envy of the time and place,—not to lose his gratitude to his patron, nor his respect for the bulwark of the country. Rather, it may be said, that Warwick gained in his estimation whenever compared with the gay and silken personages who avenged themselves by words for his superiority in deeds. Not only as a soldier, but as a statesman, the great and peculiar merits of the earl were visible in all those measures which emanated solely from himself. Though so indifferently educated, his busy, practical career, his affable mixing with all classes, and his hearty, national sympathies made him so well acquainted with the interests of his country and the habits of his countrymen, that he was far more fitted to rule than the scientific Worcester or the learned Scales. The Young Duke of Gloucester presented a marked contrast to the general levity of the court, in speaking of this powerful nobleman. He never named him but with respect, and was pointedly courteous to even the humblest member of the earl's family. In this he appeared to advantage by the side of Clarence, whose weakness of disposition made him take the tone of the society in which he was thrown, and who, while really loving Warwick, often smiled at the jests against him,—not, indeed, if uttered by the queen or her family, of whom he ill concealed his jealousy and hatred.
The whole court was animated and pregnant with a spirit of intrigue, which the artful cunning of the queen, the astute policy of Jacquetta, and the animosity of the different factions had fomented to a degree quite unknown under former reigns. It was a place in which the wit of young men grew old rapidly; amidst stratagem, and plot, and ambitious design, and stealthy overreaching, the boyhood of Richard III. passed to its relentless manhood: such is the inevitable fruit of that era in civilization when a martial aristocracy first begins to merge into a voluptuous court.
Through this moving and shifting web of ambition and intrigue the royal Edward moved with a careless grace: simple himself, because his object was won, and pleasure had supplanted ambition. His indolent, joyous temper served to deaden his powerful intellect; or, rather, his intellect was now lost in the sensual stream through which it flowed. Ever in pursuit of some new face, his schemes and counterschemes were limited to cheat a husband or deceive a wife; and dexterous and successful no doubt they were. But a vice always more destructive than the love of women began also to reign over him,—namely, the intemperance of the table. The fastidious and graceful epicurism of the early Normans, inclined to dainties but abhorring excess, and regarding with astonished disdain the heavy meals and deep draughts of the Saxon, had long ceased to characterize the offspring of that noblest of all noble races. Warwick, whose stately manliness was disgusted with whatever savoured of effeminacy or debauch, used to declare that he would rather fight fifty battles for Edward IV. than once sup with him! Feasts were prolonged for hours, and the banquets of this king of the Middle Ages almost resembled those of the later Roman emperors. The Lord Montagu did not share the abstemiousness of his brother of Warwick. He was, next to Hastings, the king's chosen and most favourite companion. He ate almost as much as the king, and drank very little less. Of few courtiers could the same be said! Over the lavish profligacy and excess of the court, however, a veil dazzling to the young and high-spirited was thrown. Edward was thoroughly the cavalier, deeply imbued with the romance of chivalry, and, while making the absolute woman his plaything, always treated the ideal woman as a goddess. A refined gallantry, a deferential courtesy to dame and demoiselle, united the language of an Amadis with the licentiousness of a Gaolor; and a far more alluring contrast than the court of Charles II. presented to the grim Commonwealth seduced the vulgar in that of this most brave and most beautiful prince, when compared with the mournful and lugubrious circles in which Henry VI. had reigned and prayed. Edward himself, too, it was so impossible to judge with severe justice, that his extraordinary popularity in London, where he was daily seen, was never diminished by his faults; he was so bold in the field, yet so mild in the chamber; when his passions slept, he was so thoroughly good-natured and social, so kind to all about his person, so hearty and gladsome in his talk and in his vices, so magnificent and so generous withal; and, despite his indolence, his capacities for business were marvellous,—and these last commanded the reverence of the good Londoners; he often administered justice himself, like the caliphs of the East, and with great acuteness and address. Like most extravagant men, he had a wholesome touch of avarice. That contempt for commerce which characterizes a modern aristocracy was little felt by the nobles of that day, with the exception of such blunt patricians as Lord Warwick or Raoul de Fulke. The great House of De la Pole (Duke of Suffolk), the heir of which married Edward's sister Elizabeth, had been founded by a merchant of Hull. Earls and archbishops scrupled not to derive revenues from what we should now esteem the literal resources of trade. [The Abbot of St. Alban's (temp. Henry III.) was a vendor of Yarmouth bloaters. The Cistercian Monks were wool-merchants; and Macpherson tells us of a couple of Iceland bishops who got a license from Henry VI. for smuggling. (Matthew Paris. Macpherson's "Annals of Commerce," 10.) As the Whig historians generally have thought fit to consider the Lancastrian cause the more "liberal" of the two, because Henry IV. was the popular choice, and, in fact, an elected, not an hereditary king, so it cannot be too emphatically repeated, that the accession of Edward IV. was the success of two new and two highly—popular principles,—the one that of church reform, the other that of commercial calculation. All that immense section, almost a majority of the people, who had been persecuted by the Lancastrian kings as Lollards, revenged on Henry the aggrieved rights of religious toleration. On the other hand, though Henry IV., who was immeasurably superior to his warlike son in intellect and statesmanship, had favoured the growing commercial spirit, it had received nothing but injury under Henry V., and little better than contempt under Henry VI. The accession of the Yorkists was, then, on two grounds a great popular movement; and it was followed by a third advantage to the popular cause,—namely, in the determined desire both of Edward and Richard III. to destroy the dangerous influence of the old feudal aristocracy. To this end Edward laboured in the creation of a court noblesse; and Richard, with the more dogged resolution that belonged to him, went at once to the root of the feudal power, in forbidding the nobles to give badges and liveries (this also was forbidden, it is true, by the edict of Edward IV. as well as by his predecessors from the reign of Richard II.; but no king seems to have had the courage to enforce the prohibition before Richard III.),—in other words, to appropriate armies under the name of retainers. Henry VII., in short, did not originate the policy for which he has monopolized the credit; he did but steadily follow out the theory of raising the middle class and humbling the baronial, which the House of York first put into practice.] shown itself on this point more liberal in its policy, more free from feudal prejudices, than that of the Plantagenets. Even Edward II. was tenacious of the commerce with Genoa, and an intercourse with the merchant princes of that republic probably served to associate the pursuits of commerce with the notion of rank and power. Edward III. is still called the Father of English Commerce; but Edward IV. carried the theories of his ancestors into far more extensive practice, for his own personal profit. This king, so indolent in the palace, was literally the most active merchant in the mart. He traded largely in ships of his own, freighted with his own goods; and though, according to sound modern economics, this was anything but an aid to commerce, seeing that no private merchant could compete with a royal trader who went out and came in duty-free, yet certainly the mere companionship and association in risk and gain, and the common conversation that it made between the affable monarch and the homeliest trader, served to increase his popularity, and to couple it with respect for practical sense. Edward IV. was in all this pre-eminently THE MAN OF HIS AGE,—not an inch behind it or before! And, in addition to this happy position, he was one of those darlings of Nature, so affluent and blest in gifts of person, mind, and outward show, that it is only at the distance of posterity we ask why men of his own age admired the false, the licentious, and the cruel, where those contemporaries, over-dazzled, saw but the heroic and the joyous, the young, the beautiful,—the affable to friend, and the terrible to foe!