The Usurper's terrors at hearing this fine song of Shirley's is an historical fact. Some of the speeches attributed to him in this interview, he really used to persons he had confined, and wished to win over. In the close of his life he grew timid; and, conscious of being hated, bore insults calmly. Bishop Wren rejected his offered favours in as strong language as that attributed to Neville.
A good man should not be very willing, when his Lord comes, to be found beating his fellow-servants; and all controversy, as it is usually managed, is little better. A good man would be loth to be taken out of the world reeking hot from a sharp contention with a perverse adversary; and not a little out of countenance to find himself, in this temper, translated into the calm and peaceable regions of the blessed, where nothing but perfect charity and good-will reign for ever.
During the turbulent era that immediately followed the death of Cromwell, obscurity was the only asylum for integrity and innocence. The respective demagogues contended for mastery; and the nation gazed on their contests as on so many prize-fighters, whose uninteresting warfare regarded only themselves. Weary of confusion and discord; aware that faction had broken every promise and frustrated every hope; that the visions of freedom had been the harbingers of despotism; and that pretensions to moderation, disinterestedness, and purity, were but the disguise of rapacity, pride, and selfishness, the nation longed for the restoration of a lineal Sovereign, a regular government, and determinate laws. Even those who first signalized themselves by opposition to the late King, acknowledged that his government was preferable to the oligarchy and military tyranny that followed; and the Presbyterians felt their horror of Episcopacy abate while contrasting the temperance of established supremacy with the violence of the numerous sects who strove for superiority as soon as the hierarchy was overthrown. The easy good humour and affable manners of the exiled King were enlarged upon, and perhaps honoured with too much celebrity. Offenders in general anticipated forgiveness; and those who were adroit and dexterous anticipated rewards. To assist in restoring the regal power was deemed not merely a rasure of past crimes, but a qualification for trust and employment; and those who now sought the shelter of royalty as a protection from their late co-partners in rebellion, seemed, by the high value which they put on their present services, to overlook, with equal contempt and injustice, the claims and the wrongs of the Loyalists, who having never changed their principles, had much to be repaid, and nothing to be forgiven.
In the struggles which immediately preceded the Restoration, while Monk's designs were wrapped in mystery, the cruelty of the regicides increased with their ambition, and the jails were successively crowded with every party, as the unsettled government alternately vibrated from the rump to the fanatical faction. Within the walls of the same prison, suffering the same restraint, and, like himself, the victim of a conscience which would not temporize, Dr. Beaumont met his worthy friend Barton. They congratulated each other on having thus far weathered the political tempest without deserting their principles, or impugning their honour. The Doctor learned from Barton the particulars of Lady Bellingham's death, and the claims of Monthault on her fortune, which, by the turbulence of the times, were still kept in abeyance. Lord Bellingham was yet alive, poor and wretched, courting every faction, trusted by none, and so universally despised as to endure the odium of more crimes than he had even dared to commit. He was allowed a small stipend out of his vast possessions, the income of the remainder being still paid into the public treasury; while Morgan, now become a man of consequence, and a commissioner for compounding forfeited property, was enabled amply to glut his rapacity, and resided at Bellingham-Castle in a style of the grossest sensual indulgence. Monthault had joined the army of Lambert, against whom General Monk was now marching from Scotland; and as the King had given reiterated commands to all his friends to remain passive, and wait the event, it seemed as if he had some private intelligence with Monk's party, to whom, therefore, each honest Englishman wished success.
Barton believed this effervescence would terminate in a happy calm—a mild but energetic government; and he looked forward to prosperous times, when the remembrance of past misfortunes should correct national manners, and produce a general improvement in the minds and feelings of men. Neville was always sanguine; and Dr. Beaumont confessed that all things seemed to tend to the restoration of monarchy; yet, with the prescience of a man long accustomed to calamity, he doubted whether even that desired event would speedily repair the deep wound which England had sustained.
"We shall," said he, "receive with our Prince the inestimable blessings of our old laws and form of government; but as our troubles have served rather to show us the necessity, than to prevent the abuse, of the prerogative, its limits continue undefined, and we shall still too much depend on the personal character of the King. It were well if the situation in which we now stand would allow us to propose such conditions as would make the duties of King and subject plain and easy, before we invite our Prince to resume the sceptre of his ancestors, as it would prevent the mistakes into which his father fell, from a misconception of the bounds of sovereign power, derived from the arbitrary precedent set by the House of Tudor. But our divisions prevent us from claiming those advantages which would result from wisdom, moderation, and unanimity. We fly to the King as to a healer of our dissensions. A keen feeling of our sorrows and offences has raised the sensibility of the nation to such a pitch, that it will sooner make concessions than propose restraints, and rather throw its liberties before the throne than suggest an abridgement of its splendour. We shall therefore depend, I fear, upon his mercy for the existence of the sacred inheritance whose very shadow was so pertinaciously defended from the approaches of his father. I trust his personal virtues are what his friends report. He has been educated in adversity, a good school; but are not his advisers men who have endured too much to be dispassionate and liberal? They have suffered in a good cause: if, when restored to power, they abstain from indulging any vindictive propensity, they will be saints as well as confessors; but, considering their long and grievous provocations, is not this requiring too much of human frailty?
"Consider too, my dear friends, (and let the reflection allay your sanguine expectations of another golden age,) that the King to whom we look forward has been bred a foreigner. From his own country he has hitherto met with nothing but severe injuries. The impression he has received of the character of his future subjects is repulsive and disgusting; and the heart of a King of England, as well as his manners, should be completely English. He will return loaded with debts of gratitude, which he never can discharge, to those who supported his father, as well as those who restore him; to the surviving friends of all that have bled in unsuccessful conflicts, and to those who will ride by his side in triumph; to those who spent their fortunes in his quarrel, and to those who hope to gain or preserve fortunes by voting for his return. What course are men apt to pursue when they find themselves in a state of inextricable insolvency? Do they not endeavour to forget their creditors in general, and think only of taking care of themselves and their personal friends. Royalty does not extinguish human feelings. Let us consider its difficulties, and palliate while we anticipate its errors.
"Are these all the remaining evils which the crimes of the last twenty years have entailed upon us and our posterity? Call me not a prophet of evil if I foresee general laxity of principle arising out of these sad vicissitudes and deplorable contests. You, my good Barton, will not deny, that the extravagance, absurdity, and hypocrisy of many low fanatics, who sheltered themselves under that unbounded liberty of conscience which you Dissenters (I think unwisely, as well, as erroneously) claim, have made every extraordinary pretension to piety suspicious. The nation has been whirled in the vortex of enthusiasm, perplexed with the discordant pretensions and controversial clamour of various sects, till it has begun to consider indifference to religion as a philosophical repose; and its contempt for hypocrites is increased till it has generated a toleration, if not a partiality of licentiousness and immorality. Infidelity (a sin unknown to our forefathers) has lately appeared among us, not like a solitary, restless sceptic, affecting a wish for conviction, nor in the bashful form of an untried novelty, cautiously stealing upon public favour—but under the licence long allowed to opinions however blasphemous or immoral, a party has arisen, calling themselves free-thinkers, who not only deride every ecclesiastical institution, and publicly insult religion in its ministers, but even make the word of God an object of profane travesty and licentious allusion. This never could have happened, the manly feeling and good sense of Englishmen would never have permitted such audacity, had not trifling, malicious, ignorant, and ridiculous misapplications of the sacred writings, sunk, in too many minds, the veneration in which they were formerly held; and thus benumbed what ought to have been the natural sentiments of indignation at the blasphemies of deism.
"We must admit that the return of the King is likely to introduce an influx of foreign manners, and that the long-suspended festivities of a court will foster an exultation bordering on extravagance. How will those who seek advancement, approach a Prince who has been long groaning under the injustice of mean and cruel hypocrites? Is it not likely that ridicule will aim at the gross, distorted features of preaching mechanics, and praying cut-throats, till the ministers, who are consecrated to serve at the altar, will find some of the missile shafts fall on their vestments? The perversions of Scripture I have just mentioned will be so scrupulously avoided, that an apposite and pious quotation will be termed puritanical; and we shall seldom hear the sacred volume referred to but to point a jest. Elegant literature, the fine arts, and dramatic amusements, have been long reprobated as Pagan devices. But so natural is our desire for innocent enjoyments, that, remove the interdict, and the public inclination will rush to these delights with the avidity resulting from constrained abstinence, which will give to pleasure an undue preponderance: Wit has been too much discountenanced. I simply argue on the tendency of the human mind to extremes, when I suspect that it will be indulged till it degenerates into indecorous levity. May the evils I foresee exist only in my fears; but if they are realized, much of the guilt, much of the blame must be laid on those who deluged us with spiritual pride, cant, austerity, and oppression; who bent the necks of Englishmen to the yoke of slavery, did their utmost to exterminate the Christian sentiments of moderation and charity, wrought the nation into a ferment, and then expected good to result from the chaos of virulent passions."
Mr. Barton admitted all the evils which had resulted from overstrained rigidity, but expressed the hopes his party entertained that Episcopacy would not be considered as a necessary adjunct to monarchy; or, in case of its revival, that it might be re-instated in its primitive form, and that the objectionable parts of the Liturgy, the articles, and the canons, might be so modified as to satisfy all parties. He spoke of the obligations which the King would owe to the Dissenters; who he trusted would be rewarded by being placed on an equality with the Church.
Dr. Beaumont argued, that if these late services cancelled their former transgressions, the Dissenters would have no just cause of complaint at being replaced in the situation which they held previously to the rebellion. He much feared that the vindictive feelings of those who had been despoiled, ridiculed, plundered, imprisoned, and deprived of every earthly blessing, would produce some measures, which, though they might be supported by the pretence of preventing further mischief, he should lament and blame, but never justify. As to jointly establishing Episcopacy and Presbytery, or simply tolerating both, he could never consent to either plan politically, because he conceived one established religion was necessary to preserve national piety; and the Church had too many claims on the King's gratitude, and was too intimately connected with the laws and manners of the people to be laid aside, or reduced to the level of her opponents; and, considered as a point of conscience, he was so firmly convinced of her conformity, in doctrine and discipline, to apostolical institutions, ancient customs, and, above all, to Scripture, that, though he would be the last man in the kingdom to consent to persecute those who, through conscience, refused to conform, he would be the first to defend her pre-eminence. As to giving the Church a more primitive dress, by which he supposed was meant, depriving her of her endowments, it must be remembered, that when the ministers of the Gospel lost miraculous gifts, they became dependant on temporal support. Though the apostles appeared as mendicants, yet while they could heal diseases with a touch, they inspired reverence. But in the present times men showed more observance to those who could bestow alms than to those who required support. It should likewise be remembered that an injunction was given to the bishops of the first century "to use hospitality," a proof that the primitive church was not in all respects clad in sackcloth.
Dr. Beaumont farther declared his doubts of the good effects of a conference between the Episcopalian and Presbyterian clergy. He was willing to sacrifice non-essentials to peace; but personal disputations were more apt to confirm than to remove prejudices. One party would be too querulous, the other too tenacious. Personal considerations would mix in the dispute; difficulties would be started; objections raised, when none, in fact, existed; and, in the heat of debate, real improvements would be rejected, which, in the calm seclusion of the closet, would be allowed to be important. Declaimers, conscious of their own powers, would seek distinction rather by acuteness and fastidiousness than by candour and placability. The enemies of the Church would argue rather with a view to her destruction than to her purification; and, on the other hand, her friends would gloss over her imperfections through fear that her opponents had some latent hostility, which the least concession on their part would bring to maturity.
He reminded Barton that as a body the Dissenters could not complain at their being expelled from the situations in which they were placed by an unlawful and usurped authority. He trusted that wise and moderate men would, by conformity, avoid this evil, and prefer the true praise of sacrificing their scruples at the shrine of peace and unity, to the false glory of courting reputation, by first exciting and then enduring persecution. He spoke of schism as an evil the most afflictive; the most opposite to the spirit of the Gospel, and to the commands of its Divine Founder, and as the greatest impediment to its universal promulgation. He exhorted Barton to use his influence with his friends, persuading them to acquire the only triumph over the church in their power, by renouncing their own prejudices, when they could not make their opponents subdue theirs, and thus prove themselves to be the truest disciples of the Prince of Peace. "Let the contest," said he, "be only which shall serve our common master best, by leading a life of unpretending holiness. Schism does infinitely more harm by the enmity it engenders, than it does good by the zeal it kindles. Controversial ardour is rather the death than the life of piety."
Mr. Barton replied, that he was become much more sensible of the evils attendant on a separating humour, on the gathering of parties and forming sects from the church; their effects had proved them to be mischiefs. He confessed that until he had imbibed prejudices against the Liturgy, he had joined in it with as hearty fervency, as he afterwards did in other prayers, and felt, from its imperfections, no hinderance in his devotions. He said, that he had lost his relish for controversy, and now took most delight in what was fundamental, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, furnishing him with matter for meditation equally acceptable and abundant. That he less admired gifts of utterance, and bare professions of religion, than he once did, and no longer thought that all those who could pray movingly and fluently, and talk well of religion, were of course saints. That he was convinced most controversies had more need of right stating than of debating, and that many contenders actually differed less than they supposed. But still if the conditions of conformity should require him to acknowledge the invalidity of his present ordination, he could not consent to admit that he had hitherto been an Uzzah, touching the ark with unhallowed hands. In that case he would submit to the rod of chastisement, instead of receiving the staff of pastoral cure, and if he were forbidden to instruct others, he would discipline himself. For the sake of peace he would attend the services of the church, in which, though he saw much that might be improved, he discerned nothing absolutely sinful. To preserve a Christian spirit in himself and others, he would avoid dwelling on the restraints he suffered; but instead of repining, be thankful for the liberty he enjoyed. And he thought such behaviour would be the best way of enlarging that liberty, or, if that could not be done, of healing, in the next generation, those breaches which furious animosity had made in the present.
He concluded by saying, that whoever had seen the ill-will engendered by controversy, and the miseries incident to civil war, must think peace cheaply purchased by any sacrifice short of conscience; and that, for his own part, no private injuries, disappointments, or harsh treatment, should make him obtrude his wrongs upon the public, so as to excite clamour against the government. He had seen how soon clamour brings on insurrection, and how partial commotion leads to universal confusion. During such scenes, inconsiderate, daring, and worthless men, acquire an ascendancy, and bring, by their extravagance, disgrace upon their party. Yet, proudly ascribing their influence to a superiority of desert, they reject the counsels of prudence, while their inordinate passions lead them to subdue the restraints of conscience. To preserve the nation from such misrule, he protested that he ardently wished to see the reins of government again in the hands of prescriptive authority.
 See Baxter's reflections on his early religious opinions.
 The behaviour of Barton is copied from the conduct of Philip Henry, a non-conformist divine.
Tho' with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick, Yet with my nobler reason 'gainst my fury Do I take part; the rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance.
While the levellers and republicans alternately gained the ascendancy, and Monk, either from irresolution or profound policy, appeared to favour every party but that which he eventually espoused, long suspence quenched the hopes of the Loyalists, and their prospect of golden days seemed enveloped by the gloom of despair, when all at once the General rapidly measured back his steps. That mighty Parliament which, as different parties prevailed in it, countenanced the most rigorous coercion or permitted the wildest anarchy; which opposed, menaced, conquered, deceived, and murdered the King by whom it was summoned; which feebly attempted to resist the power of its own creature, Cromwell; and, after passively dispersing at his frown, re-assembled to insult his memory, threaten the fanatics, and denounce monarchy; that strange combination of talent and extravagance, of praying demagogues and aspiring religionists; deemed by Europe the soul of English rebellion, and the voice of the nation by whom it was at once feared, hated, and ridiculed; that representative body which voted its own perpetuity, and overthrew the constitution it was called to maintain—died at last by its own vote, amid universal execrations, and joyous anticipations of better times. A Parliament was called, which, being really chosen by the nation, hastened to give utterance to the national feeling. The prison-doors were thrown open to the Loyalists, their persecutors fled dismayed. Many who had sinned less deeply, hurried to the King with supererogatory offers of service. The ambitious and the vain busied themselves in devices to give splendor to the restoration which, from the awful circumstance of a penitent people welcoming back their exiled Monarch, could borrow no lustre from ostentatious pageants. Love, confidence, liberty, and security, seemed to revive; malice, suspicion, and guile, vanished with the dark tyranny they had so long supported. The aspect, manners, and dress of Englishmen resumed their former appearance. The lengthened visage; the rayless, yet penetrating eye; the measured smile, which expressed neither affection nor candour, disappeared. The countenance was again permitted to be an index to the soul, and the tongue uttered the undisguised feelings of artless sincerity; joy, magnified to ecstasy; freedom bursting the trammels of oppression; sorrow changed to festivity; want expatiating on the near prospect of affluence; justice restored to the full exercise of her balance and sword; religion separated from fanaticism, and reinstated in decent splendor; a hereditary King, a regular government, ancient institutions, definite laws, certain privileges, personal safety, and the restitution of property—such were the glorious themes which employed the thoughts of the contemplative, elevated the devotion of the pious, and made the unreflecting multitude frantic with wild delight. No period of English history records so great a change. The spring of 1660 was devoted to universal jubilee; with the vulgar it was disaffection to be sober, and among the higher classes gravity was treason.
Though the prisons were thrown open, the Beaumont family still lingered near the abode wherein they had been so long inhumed. A free communication was renewed with foreign countries; private intercourse was safe; exiles were every hour returning; but they heard nothing of their beloved fugitives. Dr. Beaumont waited with the patience of a man, who had endured years of sorrow. The debilitated Neville feared his last sands would run out before he could embrace his son. Isabel and Constantia had fears which they durst not disclose, even to each other. Were both their lovers enamoured of the merchant's daughter, or had some continental Circe also spread her fascinations, and made the recreants forget their fathers and their country, as well as their mistresses? Surely, in that case Dr. Lloyd would have sent some qualified account of their temptation and fall. Had they all perished in some tremendous undertaking; had a pestilence swept them away; had they fallen into the hands of banditti, or perished silently, ensnared by the still more merciless machinations of regicide-informers? There was no form in which danger and death could appear, that did not present itself to the alarmed mind of these long-suffering maidens, during the few weeks that intervened between the time that a Loyalist could appear in England without imminent hazard, and their receiving the intelligence which dispelled every doubt. A day seemed an age to exhausted patience, and the transports of others added to their sadness.
Isabel was at length informed, that a stranger inquired for her. Her bosom throbbed violently—"Is he young or old?" was all she could utter. "Middle aged," was the reply. "Alas!" said she, "I forget how rapidly time has stolen on since I parted with De Vallance. I have not looked at my face for years; 'tis changed, I am sure; I have lost every attraction, but my heart is still the same."—"Ever the same good heart!" repeated Eustace, as he rushed in, and caught her in his affectionate arms. "O! tell me, Isabel, where is my Constantia?" "Speak, low," said Isabel, attempting to smother a hysterical laugh. "Dear Eustace, how you are altered! Do not enter that room, the shock will be too great!"
The terrors of Eustace prompted a thousand inquiries.—"Was Constantia well? Was she faithful?" "Yes, yes!" replied Isabel, struggling in vain for composure; "but——" a thousand fears lurked in that word, and Eustace gazed in mute horror, while Isabel recovered self-command enough to say, "We are very much altered." Eustace shed tears of joy.—"Virtue and fidelity are always young and lovely," said he.—"You should not have taken me by surprise," resumed the much-agitated Isabel; "let me recollect myself a moment, and then you shall see our long-suffering father, and your ever-beloved Constance."
Her eyes were turned to the door at which Eustace entered, with an unacknowledged expectation of another visitant, and she stood incapable of the promised introduction. But the well-remembered, long-desired voice of Eustace had penetrated the inner-chamber, and Constantia, pale and silent, advanced to meet her betrothed love; held out her hand with timid joy, and sunk speechless into his arms. "My boy! my boy! let me fold thee to my heart, and expire in thy embraces!" exclaimed the agonized Neville, as with ineffectual efforts he strove to rise from the couch of infirmity. Eustace cast himself at his feet. "Your blessing," said he, "on one who is no disgrace to your blood. Dearest father, your commands have been obeyed; I have redeemed my honour, and my life is preserved to this hour of transport."
"The choicest blessings of all-gracious Providence rest on thy head, and on that of thy faithful partner;" said Neville, for Constance had involuntarily knelt by the side of her lover; "and may your future days be crowned with prosperity and peace! True heir of the Neville virtues, and now of their honours!" He closed his eyes, and continued to press his hands on their heads with a patriarch's fervour—then, as if recalling his thoughts to this lower world, inquired of Eustace if he had seen the King.
"I have seen and served him," answered Eustace. "He is well, amiable, royally-disposed, and, at this moment, embarking on board his own fleet to receive the crown of his ancestors; determined to forget his enemies, and reward his friends."
"Thou wilt kill me with joy," said the transported veteran; "but I am now content to die. Eustace, thou shalt never leave me more; I can never be satiated with hearing the sound of thy voice, or gazing on thee thus rising from disgrace and death. Come, tell me all thou hast endured since we parted." Eustace seated himself beside him on the couch, one arm clasped his Constantia, the other reclined on his father's knees. Neville rested his arms and head on his crutch, devouring with his eyes his son's features, and jealous of the glances he frequently cast on his beloved. Dr. Beaumont stood at a little distance, gazing on the affectionate group with calm delight, and frequently diverting his thoughts in pious thankfulness to that gracious Providence, who thus richly repaid their sorrows. Isabel threw herself at the feet of Eustace, half angry that she could engage no more of his attention, and listening to the narrative of his adventures with emotions which it is impossible to define.
Eustace was brief in his story, reserving the minutiae for a calmer moment. The increased vigilance of the republican government soon made Jersey an unsafe residence. They removed to the continent; travelled through France, Italy, and the Low-Countries, without finding any eligible place wherein to fix. At length their funds failing, they agreed to prefer an humble employment to yet more degrading dependence. Dr. Lloyd served as assistant surgeon in the Dutch military hospital; and Eustace entered as a volunteer in the body-guard of the young Prince of Orange, consoled by the idea of devoting his life to the grandson of his murdered sovereign. Here he frequently saw and conversed with the present King, whose affable and attractive manners he warmly praised. "He recognised me," said he, "as the son of one to whom he owed indelible obligations, and his condescension commanded my confidence. He knows, dearest father, your early wrongs; and so sure as the crown of England is placed on his head, he will restore to you your titles and estates free from every base condition, and subject to no tribute, but what every English peer owes to a gracious and generous Monarch."
"There," thought Isabel, "my predictions are true—Constance will wear her ermined robes of state—but where is the cheerful residence of elegant sufficiency, in which I was to sing to my De Vallance? Eustace only speaks of his own adventures. Oh, this merchant's daughter of St. Helier; I wish she had been locked up in a nunnery. Doubtless, she is young and beautiful; but prosperity is a becoming ornament. I will take courage, and ask if they are very happy."
Isabel, after hemming several times, attempted to speak, and at last was able to say, "My dear brother!" Eustace turned his eyes upon her. His excessive transports had sufficiently subsided to allow him to enter into her feelings, and he affectionately answered, "What would my dear sister?"
"You had another companion," said she, "besides Dr. Lloyd."
"I will punish this prudery," thought Eustace. "True, my love; poor Fido.—It is kind in you to remember that faithful animal. He died on his travels, and I assure you I dropped a tear on his grave."
"Pshaw," cried Isabel, turning away her head.
"He lies in a celebrated spot," continued Eustace, "close to the walls of the convent of St. Bernard on the Alps; and thereby hangs a dreadful tale."
"We will listen to no dreadful tales now," said Constance, who felt by sympathy the untold sentiments of Isabel. "Tell us what is become of De Vallance, provoking Eustace; I see by your smile all is well. Will nothing cure you of your love of teazing us?"
"When ladies forget the names of their lovers," replied Eustace, "delicacy forbids us to interpret their inquiries. De Vallance is well; he came with me to England; but, Isabel, you must yield him to stronger claims."
"I guessed so," answered she; "and will resign him with fortitude; nay, with indifference." Tears, it is presumed, are a sign of these sensations, for her's flowed rapidly as she spoke. "Consider, my beloved sister," returned Eustace; "the glorious event which reinstates you in the rank and fortune of an Earl's daughter renders De Vallance the son of a disgraced usurper, despoiled of his ill-acquired splendor, and heir to nothing save the infamy of his parents."
"I had prepared my mind," said Isabel, "for every thing, but his being faithless to his vows. Had he been constant, I would have shared his lot however humble, and told the world his superior virtues cancelled the treasons and the treachery of his parents. But if beauty and affluence have proved irresistible, let me remember that my fortunes seemed desperate, allow the force of the temptation, and forgive him."
"There spoke my own magnanimous sister," exclaimed Eustace, folding her to his heart. "Thou worthy choice of my best and dearest friend! a wretched father is the stronger claim which detains him from thee. He is gone to carry comfort to the most pitiable object in the world, an alarmed, deserted sinner."
"I never will forgive you, Eustace, for thus torturing me," said Isabel, and while she spoke, encircled his neck with her arms. "Was there no truth in the tale of an enamoured lady of St. Helier?" Eustace blushed, called it a gossip's story, and threw his eyes on Constance, dearer and more attractive in her faded loveliness, than when in the happy prime of youthful beauty she first enslaved his affectionate heart.
Neville sat thoughtful and silent, gazing on his children with the painful exhaustion of overstrained sensibility. Isabel and Eustace seemed emulous to out-talk each other. Constantia looked unutterable content. Dr. Beaumont was mild, devout, admonitory; more inclined to bless the sure mercies of Providence, than to condemn the perverse conduct of man. He now recollected the anxieties of his good sister Mellicent, and proposed that Williams should be dispatched with the joyful tidings. "She must be told," said Eustace, "that the air-built castles she was so skilful in erecting have now a firm foundation. 'Tis time she should exercise her abilities in making bride-cake and comfits; two happy pairs will soon claim her services." "Nay," said Isabel, "as you are in a marrying humour, there shall be three, for who but she can reward good Dr. Lloyd, without whose vigilance and generosity we should all have been the most pitiable of mourners, wretched at the time of universal joy?"
Eustace answered that the worthy Esculapius was returning in the King's suite, being appointed one of his physicians, and he hinted the probability of his aunt's medical pre-eminence destroying the effect of her personal attractions. "At least," said he, "the Doctor has never intimated a wish for the alliance, though he speaks with admiration of her fortitude and maternal affection for us children of her love and care. And severely as you accuse me for want of gallantry to your sex, I will not even allow a spinster of seventy to volunteer her hand, when the honour is not passionately desired."
Dr. Beaumont now inquired what dreadful tale was connected with the convent of St. Bernard, and he soon found his own predictions were realized respecting the fate of those who seek security by the paths of crooked policy and selfish cunning. Those dreary walls inclosed the wretched heir of the Waverly family. Overwhelmed with horror at having deprived his father of life, the unhappy man abjured a country whose civil wars had given birth to such tremendous crimes. Long the victim of despair, he at last sought a quietus to his ever-gnawing remorse, by flying to the bosom of that church which barters salvation for pecuniary mulcts, and represents penance and subserviency to its schemes of worldly aggrandisement to be the wings which will waft the soul over the gulph of purgatory, and securely lodge it in Abraham's bosom. Not content with becoming a convert to the Romish church, the young Baronet determined upon expiating his unintentional parricide, by taking the cowl, and entering into its strictest order of monachism. Eustace and his friends, when they travelled over the Alps, were lodged one night at this convent, and in the midnight service De Vallance recognized the well-remembered tones of his powerful voice. They afterwards saw him in the garden labouring at his future grave, according to the prescribed rules of his order. His hood was fallen off, and gave to view his face, in which the deepest lines of sorrow were combined with the gloom of sullen superstition. All intercourse was forbidden by that law which chained his tongue to eternal silence, except when employed as the organ of devotion. Eustace wept with true commiseration; the unhappy monk threw on him a look, which showed he too well remembered England, drew his cowl over his face, and with a groan of the deepest melancholy solemnly returned to his cell.
Dr. Beaumont's remarks on this narrative were pious and affecting; but there was a heavy gloom in the eye of Neville, which indicated a mind too much absorbed by its own feelings to enjoy the badinage of happy lovers, or to listen to the suggestions of wisdom and devotion. "Is our dear father ill?" was the alarmed inquiry of Isabel. "Has the surprise of my return overpowered him?" said Eustace. "Will not affliction allow her victim a few years respite, before the effects of her early visitations conduct him to the grave?"
It was the privilege of that true minister of Heaven who tranquillized his youthful impatience, to penetrate into the secret feelings of the man of sorrows. Inattentive to every other subject, Dr. Beaumont perceived that he was roused by the name of Walter De Vallance, and therefore led Eustace to describe his present situation. The tortures of a guilty conscience, added to his constitutional timidity, had totally extinguished those faint beams of hope and ambition which led him, in every previous change of affairs, to project his own security or advancement. To usurpers and mal-contents of every description he thought he might either be useful or formidable; but from the returning King, welcomed with rapture by a repentant nation, a versatile traitor, who had betrayed the counsels of the royal martyr, could not expect even mercy. Too well known both for his rank and his provocations, to hope to shelter in obscurity, he had no resource but to fly to some distant land; and he proposed retreating to those colonies in America which were peopled under the influence of republican principles. But he had not proceeded many stages from London before he fell sick. His perturbed mind so far betrayed him to his host as to show he was one of those whom the happy change in public affairs compelled to fly from England, and he was immediately suspected to be one of the late King's judges, who, having imbrued their hands in royal blood, were, by the consent of all parties, reserved as an atonement to public justice. He was therefore seized, hurried back to London, and thrown into close confinement. His son and Eustace learned these particulars by stopping at the inn which had been the scene of his arrest; and the former, from some circumstances discovering the prisoner to be his father, deputed Eustace to plead his unchanged love and ardent hopes to his dearest Isabel, while he himself hastened to protect and solace his wretched parent with a hope, that by interposing his own unquestioned loyalty as a surety, he might preserve his life, if not obtain his liberty.
Not all the courtly blandishments of gallantry, nor even the heart-breathed vows of true love could have been half so acceptable to Isabel as this sacrifice of self-indulgence to filial duty. Even Neville could not refrain from commending his nephew's conduct, while brushing a tear from his eye he attempted to revive the expiring flame of vindictive indignation. "The villain, then," said he, "knows now what it is to want the service of a worthy child. Tell me, Eustace, does he suffer deeply? Is his soul ground down with compunction by recollecting the inhumed Neville, doomed by him and his rebel partizans to shelter with the dead. Shut for years from the light of the sun, excluded from human converse, and daily fed by that dear girl with the bread of affliction, though born to stand before Kings, and sit as judge among Princes! Walter De Vallance now suffers what I never endured. The gnawing worm of remorse must inflict on him the agonies of despair, but conscious innocence illumined my dungeon with hope. Yes, the spirits of my ancestors, offended at the foul pollution of their pure ermine, point at my son as the restorer of their tarnished honours, and bid me exult in the agonies which await the death-bed of a villain!"
A look of grave rebuke from Dr. Beaumont recalled the much-agitated Neville from this delirium of indulged malevolence. "My brother and my friend," he exclaimed; "supporter of my frail existence, and guide of my soul! I have sinned, pray for me." "May Almighty mercy," replied the pious minister of Heaven, "grant you that peace which only those can feel who are in charity with all mankind!—If years of affliction have not so taught you the comparative worthlessness of temporal possessions as to prevent your making them a pretext for eternal enmity; if calamity has steeled your heart to pity instead of melting it to contrition, I must bid you fear, lest some more terrible trials should visit you, or what is worse, lest the sinner who will not pardon an offending brother should be suddenly called to account for his own unrepented transgressions against the God, not then of infinite compassion, but of most righteous vengeance."
Neville trembled violently. His affectionate children intreated Dr. Beaumont to spare his infirmities, but he answered, that regard for the mortal body must not, in this instance, make him overlook the more important concerns of the never-dying soul, endangered by his thus cherishing implacable resentment. The termination of the struggle proved Neville a true hero. He not only confessed but abjured his errors. "I have," said he, "brooded too deeply over my injuries, and thus have added to my plagues by inflicting on myself more torments than even my enemies designed I should feel. Born with too exquisite sensibility of ill-treatment, proceeding possibly from inordinate self-esteem, disposed to ardent attachment and unbounded confidence, I measured the hearts of others by my own, and supposed that they equally revered the claims of generosity and friendship; for never did I expect a service, which in a change of situations, I would not have rendered unasked; never have I condemned a fault but those so abhorrent to my nature that, I would have died rather than have committed them. Condemned by the triumphant treachery of a man, in all things my inferior, to indigence and obscurity; all the liberal feelings I so dearly cherished palsied by my inability to expand the social charities beyond the narrow limits of my own family, I ruminated on the glorious indulgences resulting from, the possession of that power and affluence I was born to inherit. But, instead of enjoying the means of patronising merit, raising the oppressed, or succouring calamity, I beheld myself doomed to the anxious routine of a life consumed in the care of procuring a sufficiency for its own support, pondering how the claims of a creditor could be discharged, and the disgrace of injustice averted by the sacrifice of every generous gratification—I passed my days in a silent sacrifice of my wishes and comforts, in concealing my own wants, and steeling my heart to those of others, and it was during this mental torture of restrained liberality that I nourished in my soul a deadly thirst for revenge, an extreme desire of seeing the arm that smote me to the earth withered and powerless as my own. Oh, my children! there is guilt and danger in an excessive indulgence of even the most laudable feelings, and my crime brought on its punishment.—The loss of reason; the death of your adored mother, deserving infinitely more than the highest earthly honours, and therefore early translated to an angelical throne; these were my chastisements. In respect to what I have since suffered for my King, the testimonies of a good conscience were my support and my reward. And may the favours of a grateful monarch enable my Eustace to enjoy those noblest privileges of greatness for which I pined with ineffectual desire! I am now old and helpless, tottering on the brink of eternity, a blank, as far as respects this world. May I then divest my soul of those passions which will unfit it for the abodes of peace! The injuries of Walter De Vallance are not irremediable. Still do I clasp my son to my heart. Affliction has tried the virtues of my children, and brought me to a sense of my own errors. Let not short-sighted man, who cannot see the remote consequences of events, cherish revenge. Let not dust and ashes value its imperfect shows of goodness. Our greatest conquest is a victory over ourselves. Our noblest title is to be called obedient servants of the Most High."
Dr. Beaumont wept with pious delight, while Neville, leaning on his children in a posture of penitent adoration, besought Heaven to pardon his own sins, and the sins of his brother De Vallance. So entire was his abstraction, that he was not interrupted by the entrance of Barton, whose countenance expressed a degree of depression ill suited to the joyous character of the times. Dr. Beaumont accosted him by the title of his worthy friend, and the associate of his future fortunes. He introduced him to Eustace, of whose preservation from the massacre at Pembroke he was till then ignorant. Barton blessed the protecting hand of Providence, and explained his apparent dejection, by stating that he had just witnessed a most awful and impressive scene—a grievous sinner wounded alike in body and in soul, with no hope of escaping punishment either in this world or in that which is to come. He soon discovered that he meant the miserable De Vallance, whom, as he had served in prosperity, he would not desert in his utmost need, though he alike detested his private and despised his public character. He described him as alone, pennyless, comfortless, without resources in himself, or help from others. His worthy son had not yet discovered the place of his confinement; he knew not what was become of his son, and among all the crimes which tortured his conscience, the supposed death of Eustace was most insupportable. Hopeless of pity, yet desperate from remorse, he had commissioned Barton to intreat the greatly-injured Neville to forgive him. Christian principles had already obtained a victory over the agonizing resentments of wounded honour, and the eloquence of Barton only served to hasten its effect. Neville was calmly resolved, not moved by pathetic description, to act as he ought. "Go, my child," said he to Eustace, "bear my forgiveness to our unhappy kinsman, and by convincing him of your own existence, foil the tempter's efforts to overwhelm him with despair. I would see him, but we are both, weak in body, and frail in purpose. An interview might revive violent animosities. Envy and resentment are irritable passions; 'tis best we meet no more till our mortal failings are deposited in our graves. Then may our purified spirits enter upon a state where avarice and ambition cannot tempt, nor impatience and anger dispose us to offend! There may we meet as pardoned sinners, alike rejoicing in redemption!—Mine shall not be a mere verbal reconciliation. My King can refuse nothing to Allan Neville, the faithful Loyalist. Title and fortune will be restored to me as my right; but the only reward I will ask for my services shall be the pardon of my enemies. The punishment of a state-criminal must not disgrace my Isabel's nuptials. She has been to me the angel of consolation, and she shall carry forgiveness and honour as a dower to her husband. And now, Beaumont, while the relentings of my soul can refuse nothing to thy admonitions, tell me, is there aught more that I ought to perform?"
From one of less acute sensibility, Dr. Beaumont would possibly have required that he should have been the interpreter of his own purposes to De Vallance, but he rightly considered, that very susceptible and ardent characters, after they have forgiven, find it impossible to forget. When such persons are brought to that proper state of mind, to return good for evil, without either boasting of their lenity, or enumerating their wrongs, the best way of inducing an oblivion of the past, is to avoid such intercourse as may revive painful retrospection. It is impossible for those who have minds capable of appreciating the delicacies of friendship, to re-unite the bonds of esteem and confidence, when they have been violently rent asunder by cunning or treachery. Beside, Barton admitted that he saw in the behaviour of De Vallance more of the apprehensions of timorous guilt than the renovated spirit of self-abased contrition.
Eustace inherited the deep sensibilities of his father, but a train of happy years rose in perspective before him. Unbroken health, unclouded fame, successful love, wealth, and greatness—at the hour of his restoration to all these blessings, he must have been a monster who could have withheld cordial forgiveness from a humiliated miserable enemy. Eustace visited the man who had doomed him to a premature grave, with a sincere desire to prolong his life, and restore his peace. To the relief afforded by a conviction that the guilt of his nephew's murder did not lie upon his soul, De Vallance received the additional consolation of knowing that his own son was alive, and acknowledged by Eustace as a most beloved friend and future brother. The forgiveness of Neville, and the assurance of his powerful intercession with the King in his favour, changed the horrors of the wretched man into transports of joy. Lost to all nobler feelings, and penitent only from terror, apprehensions of the future had increased the sickness which fatigue and anxiety had occasioned, and his recovery was expedited by the confidence he now felt, that he should be permitted to spend the remnant of his days in security, protected by the virtues of the son whom he had neglected, and the clemency of the victims he had wronged.
All friends shall taste The wages of their virtues, and all foes The cup of their deservings.
The restoration of the King was speedily followed by the re-instatement of Neville in his family-honours, and the marriage of his son and daughter. Mrs. Mellicent had the unspeakable satisfaction of arranging the ceremony, selecting the dress of the brides, and ordering the nuptial banquet. History does not warrant me in adding, that she afterwards consummated the happiness of Dr. Lloyd, by completing the liberal tokens of regard which his grateful friends showered upon him. But whether this was owing to her own obduracy, or to somewhat of that enmity which often subsists between professors of the same liberal art, I have no means of discovering. It is certain that they continued to be sincere friends, which possibly might not have been the case if Mrs. Mellicent's confidence in the superiority of her own cordials and ointments to the recipes prescribed by the regularly educated practitioner, had not induced her to pass on, "in maiden meditation fancy free," preferring the privileges of "blessed singleness" to the mortification of subscribing to the efficacy of those medical nostrums which were not found in the British herbal.
Morgan fled from Bellingham-Castle with the precipitation of an owl at the sun-rising. When the aged Earl proceeded to take possession, he strained his dim eyes to point out to his son the seat of his ancestors from the most distant eminence which afforded a glimpse of the stately turrets. He fancied he should never be weary in showing Eustace the particular places which were signalized by conspicuous actions; the hall where Walter the Inflexible sat in judgment; the tower from whence Rodolph the Bold overlooked the tournament; the postern where Allan the Magnificent welcomed his princely guests with the courtly subservience of an humble host; or the chamber in which Orlando the Good paid the debt of nature, while the monks told their beads in the anti-room, and the inner court of the castle was crowded by the pensioners whom he supported, and the way-faring pilgrims he relieved. But Neville soon discovered that prosperity has its disappointments as well as adversity its comforts. The woods which Earl Henry planted were cut down, the shield and trophies which Sir Edmund won at Agincourt were defaced, the family heirlooms were carried away, the precious manuscripts burnt, the state-furniture sold. Bellingham-Castle was merely the despoiled shell of greatness, requiring, for its re-edifying, that energy and anxiety which a worn-out invalid could not exercise. The duties of an exalted station overwhelmed him; its business distracted, its state fatigued him. He soon felt convinced, that to those who have long languished in the gloom of sorrow, the brilliant glare of greatness is insupportable. To them ease is happiness, and tranquillity delight.
Determined to spend the residue of his days with his daughter, the Earl resigned Castle-Bellingham to Eustace and Constantia. Happiness and benevolence diffused over the face of the latter charms superior to any it had boasted even in the prime of youthful beauty. This excellent pair continued to deserve each other's affection, being an ornament to their high station, a blessing and an example to their neighbours, faithful to their King, true to their country, and grateful to their God.
Not content with barely doing justice to those who had deserved and suffered so much, the King granted to Lady Isabel Neville the manor of Waverly, which had escheated to the crown by the extinction of that ill-fated family. The title of Lord Sedley had now devolved on Eustace. It was agreed to disuse the dishonoured name of De Vallance, and adopt the endeared appellative of Evellin, to which was annexed the title of Baronet. Waverly-Park was now changed into Evellin-hall. An elegant mansion was erected on the scite of the ruins, exhibiting as marked a contrast in the cheerful munificence of its aspect, as the firm integrity, unostentatious goodness, and amiable manners of Sir Arthur and his Lady did to the contemptible character of its late inhabitants.
Large church-emoluments were offered to Dr. Beaumont; but he, with a lowliness and moderation corresponding to his other great qualities, declined accepting any. He said he had endured too much to become a prominent actor in public affairs at a time which required the most dispassionate prudence to heal discord, and the firmest wisdom to repair breaches. He suspected his understanding was clouded, and his temper soured, by the heavy pressure of affliction. He knew that his health was broken, and his long seclusion from the world had unfitted him for undertaking its direction. It was his prayer to devote the remnant of his days to peace and privacy. He returned to Ribblesdale (now endeared to him by the attachments of its inhabitants, and the change which his truly pastoral labours had produced,) in the same state of respectable mediocrity, with regard to worldly wealth, as he enjoyed before the commencement of the troubles; his worthy heart glowing with the honest pride, that though he had shared in the sorrows, he had not partaken of the spoils, of his country. His return was welcomed with rapture. He found no pseudo-shepherd to dispute his right of reclaiming the church he had wedded with primitive simplicity of affection. Davies had died of an apoplexy; and Priggins, after giving indubitable proofs that conversion was in him merely the turned coat of knavery, while, to weak understandings and bad hearts, he made religion itself contemptible by dressing it in the cap and bells of folly, had gradually lost all his auditors. The return of the King made his spiritual wares wholly unsaleable. He studied the humour of the times; and, conforming to what would gain him a maintenance, he turned his pulpit into a stage-itinerant, and commenced Jack Priggins, a redoubtable Merry Andrew.
Though the royalists, while in expectation of the restoration, had promised to abstain from all suits of law on account of the injustice they had suffered, the extortions of Morgan had so much out-heroded Herod, that justice claimed a right of stripping the daw who had long stalked in stolen trappings. Reduced, by repeated fines for misdemeanors, to his primitive meanness, the little man lost all the self-importance which had been the appendage of his greatness; and, from being a happy, joyous person, who thought the world a very good world, and all things going on as well as could be wished, he became a discontented reviler, complaining that industry was unrewarded, and talents left to perish on a dunghill. He gained a scanty support by practising the basest chicane of his profession; and, after being stripped of the affluence he had extorted from the rich, he contrived to pick up the means of a bare existence, by inflaming the animosities, and adding to the necessities of penury. Whether his death was hastened by a want of the luxuries which indulgence had made indispensable, or by a more summary process, is uncertain.
The prejudices which Barton had imbibed against the Liturgy and discipline of the Church seemed to increase from a conscientious apprehension that worldly motives might influence him to conformity. In vain did Dr. Beaumont advise him to follow the example of the apostolical Bernard Gilpin, who, "though he doubted as to some of the articles to which he was required to subscribe, considered that, without subscription, he could not serve in a Church which was likely to give great glory to God, and that what he disliked was of smaller consequence." His extraordinary integrity prevented his compliance; and he told Dr. Beaumont that, finding himself incapable of refuting the learning and weight of his arguments, he suspected that a secret desire of worldly advancement had blunted his faculties; but of this he was certain, that since he had refused assisting the Church, considered as a civil institution, in the night of her calamity, he had no right to bask in her sunshine. After this declaration, Dr. Beaumont's respect for the rights of conscience made him for ever renounce the character of a disputant; but during all the hardships to which Non-conformists were exposed he steadily supported that of a friend. Barton found, in the parsonage at Ribblesdale, a safe, honourable, and happy asylum from the tempest which fell upon his party. His peaceable and friendly disposition restrained him from every mark of enmity to the Church from which he dissented; nor did he ever confound the mistakes of her governors, or the faults of her officials, with the essentials of her institution. Dr. Beaumont avoided every topic that might give him pain, with a delicacy which proved that the gratitude of an obliged pensioner mingled with the feelings of a generous host. Even Mrs. Mellicent never abused Round-heads in his presence; and, as to fanatics, Barton thought them as disgraceful to his sect as they were dangerous to the hierarchy. He had the singular honour of escorting the venerable spinster, in her purple camlet riding-hood, whenever she visited her niece Lady Evellin, at the Hall, or her nephew Lord Sedley, at Bellingham-Castle; and the cordial welcome he ever received from both families, proved their just sensibility of his former kindness.
The wretched Walter De Vallance, when released from prison, went into voluntary exile, supported by a pension from the Earl, who imposed that duty on himself as a memento of his own errors. His sole care was to prolong his contemptible life; but his solicitude was unavailing. He lived to hear that his son had renounced his name, and that an heir was born to the House of Neville. As contrition had no share in his previous humiliation, envy at the flourishing state of his rival's family hastened his death.
This history, however, has still to record a true penitent. Nothing could exceed the indignation of Jobson at finding himself deceived by Monthault. He was one of the first to ask forgiveness of the right Earl of Bellingham, and of His Reverence the Doctor, who, he was sure, deserved to be made a Lord also. "I don't come to your honours," said he, "because you are become great men, or to ask you to speak to the King about me; for I know I have no right now to be a Beef-eater, or any thing else; but I must just tell you how it was. Sure as you are alive I thought all the while I was fighting for His Majesty; for those generals, as they called themselves, turned, and twirled, and swore backwards and forwards till nobody knew what side they were of. And that smooth-faced knave, Monthault (as pretty Mrs. Isabel said he was), told me all was going on as it should be; and that Lambert would bring the King back presently. So I fought furiously, thinking I was on the right side, till that deceiver had his deserts from the honest general who did fetch the King home. Bless his sweet face! though I don't deserve to look at it again."
Neville admitted that the perplexing changes which had lately happened might confuse a clearer head than Jobson's, and promised to retain him in the family, offering him the choice of being his personal attendant, or porter at Castle-Bellingham. Jobson's joy and gratitude were unbounded. He preferred the former office. "Because," said he, "such a blundering fellow as I, who cannot tell rebels from honest men, may let pickpockets and gamblers into a true Lord's house, if they happen to have smooth tongues, and shut plain honesty out of it, which I hope will never be the case in Old England. But if I live always under Your Honour's eye, you will keep me from doing wrong; and a simple man, like me, is always best off when directed by those who know better than himself."
Lord Bellingham is reported to have commended this opinion so warmly as to say, he hoped the race of the Jobsons would never be extinct among the British peasantry. But as this wish implies his persuasion, that principle rather than information is the great desideratum in the lower classes, I dare not affirm that my hero was so very illiberal, though, as a Loyalist and a Churchman, I admit that he must have been adverse to the generalizing philanthropy of that admired sentiment, "Education untainted by the bigotry of proselytism," which, if it be any thing more than a brilliant scintillation of wit, intended, by its happy antithesis, to revive the dying embers of festive hilarity, must mean that the ends of education are destroyed if they produce any effect; or, in other words, that though the lower classes are to be taught every thing, great care should be taken that they do not improve by any thing they learn—a discovery equally profound with that of Dogberry, who thought "writing and reading came by nature, but that to be well-favoured was the gift of fortune."
I have only to add, that Lady Isabel Evellin long continued "to rock the cradle of reposing age;" and, to the last hour of her life, enjoyed the serene satisfaction which is the portion of those who, with true and disinterested magnanimity, devote their abilities to the calls of duty instead of wasting their lives in self-indulgence.
Strahan and Preston, Printers-Street, London.