"You shall find," returned the officer, "that they have mercy and honour too. Let me conjure the ladies to moderate their terrors. They are indeed my prisoners; but they shall be treated with all the respect which their sex, and, if I guess aright, their quality, deserve."
Isabel, who supported her lifeless cousin, raised her eyes to bless the benevolence which dictated such consolatory expressions, and saw they were uttered by a graceful youth, a little older than her brother, in whose countenance animation was blended with benignity and compassion.
"For Heaven's sake," said she, "if you pity us, let the troopers sheath their broad swords; we will make no resistance; alas! the alarm has killed dear Constantia."
The cornet leaped from his horse, and assisted to raise her. "Her pulses beat," said he, "and she recovers fast. But why, Madam, are you not equally alarmed?"
"I have been used to sorrows and difficulties from my infancy," returned Isabel; "but Constantia has never known any thing but care and tenderness."
"Are you her sister?"
"No; I have only that brother. He is rash, but brave and good. Do not hurt him, for his death would kill my father."
"It shall be in his own power," returned the officer, "to fashion his fortunes. I wish, Sir, not to be thought your enemy otherwise than as my duty enjoins. You see I am in the service of the Parliament. Tell me, frankly, who you are. It is possible I may befriend you; at least I know I can the ladies who are under your care."
Eustace, whose attention was now relieved by seeing Constantia recover, could not resist an invitation to frankness. "I am not," said he, "what my dress imports, but the son of a cavalier and a gentleman; we were going to put ourselves under his protection. Allow us to proceed to Colonel Evellin's quarters, and I will ever esteem you as my friend, even if we should meet on opposite parts, in some bloody conflict."
"I will befriend you," answered the cornet; "but the success of my efforts must depend on their being conducted with secrecy. Colonel Evellin is not now in the north. He was attached to the escort who conducted the Queen to Oxford. Is it your wish to follow him?"
They answered in the affirmative. "I must hold no further intercourse with you," continued he; "be of good courage;" then kissing his hand, with a smile to Isabel, he ordered Williams to follow with them, and rejoined his troopers.
"Surely," observed Isabel, "he cannot be a round-head. I thought they were all like old Morgan; and this is a true gentleman." Constantia acquiesced in this opinion, and supposed he might be a loyalist, taken prisoner, and compelled to join the rebel army. Eustace, in an equal degree unwilling to allow any good qualities to a person who was in arms against the King, declared that he suspected the apparent urbanity of the stranger to be only a prelude to some base design. He resolved, that while they continued prisoners, nothing should separate him from his fair charge; and Williams and he agreed that they would sit up alternately every night, in order to be ready at the first alarm.
"Surely," said Isabel, "you forget my uncle's precept, 'Be moderate.' Just now you were all confidence that the false guide would shew us a road to avoid Halifax; and now you are, without cause, suspecting that this gentleman will use us cruelly."
"Are they not both rebels and republicans?" rejoined Eustace. "The only difference is, that one was an ugly vulgar knave, and this a handsome courtly one." Isabel blushed and gave up the argument, thinking it useless to contend with one who was never subdued by opposition.
On their arrival at Halifax, they were provided with comfortable apartments. A guard was placed at the door; but they were informed that every indulgence should be allowed them, except that of being at liberty. Williams was ordered to attend the council of officers, to be examined as to their name and designs; and the captives waited his return with the impatience natural to those whose fate is about to be decided.
The account which he gave of his examination seemed to confirm the suspicions entertained by Eustace of the sinister designs of the cornet, who had anticipated the deposition of Williams, by describing the party as the children and niece of a cavalier, now an active officer in the popish army, advising that they should be sent, with some other prisoners, to London, there to be kept in safe durance till they could be exchanged for some other party who had fallen into the hands of the Royalists. Williams was not suffered to speak. The proposal was adopted; and orders were given that the escort should set off next morning.
The indignant ravings of Eustace, and the mortification of poor Isabel, who had seen, in the "melting eye of her supposed protector, a soft heart and too brave a soul to offer injuries, and too much a Christian not to pardon them in others," in fine, a generous, open, honourable character, very like her dear father, called forth the mediation of Constance, who, recollecting her own father's precepts, recommended candour and patience. "At least," said she, "whatever befals us, let us not lose the consolation of fellowship in affliction. We have yet the comfort of being together; and perhaps we may not find captivity so dreadful, nor our enemies so merciless as we expect. If they do not take you from us, dearest Eustace, we cannot be quite miserable."
They were now joined by an elderly man in the dress of a clergyman, who, though somewhat precise in his habit, and quaint in his address, was venerable and benevolent in his aspect and expressions. "Fair maidens," said he, "I come to inquire if you are content with your present accommodations, and willing to begin your journey towards London to-morrow morning. The governor of this garrison has joined me to your escort; and it will be a duty I shall gladly undertake, to render your travel lightsome, and your perils trivial."
"May we," answered Isabel, "request to know to whom we shall be so obliged?"
"You may call me Mr. Barton," replied he, "a minister of the church by the laying on the hands of the presbytery. My immediate call among these men in arms, arises from my being tutor to the young officer, to whom you are surrendered prisoners."
"And did you," said the indignant Eustace, among other things, "teach him craft and falsehood."
"I have still to learn those Satanical arts," returned Barton, "and therefore could not teach them."
"Were they then," resumed Eustace, "innate properties in his mind? Though little more than my own age, he is a master in the science of dissimulation. He practised upon my fears; I mean, my fears for these dear girls, and wormed from my confiding folly a disclosure of my parentage, and my wishes. He promised to serve us. I trusted to his word; and he performs it by rivetting our chains beyond hope of liberation."
"While life endures," returned Barton, "hope and fear successively eclipse each other. Yet a wise man should remember both are casualties, which may give colour to his future fortunes. We must allow the enraged lion to chafe, but lest his roarings should terrify these tender lambs, and drive them out among beasts of prey, an old watch-dog will crouch beside them, and assuage their alarms. I fancy, pretty maids, you never were in company with a real round-head before; come, tell me truly, is he as terrible a creature as your fears pictured."
"I am half inclined to think you do not mean to injure us," said Isabel.
"Beware," cried Eustace, lifting up his finger; "remember your past confidence."
"But this is an old gentleman," resumed Isabel, and pressed Barton's offered hand between both hers; "perhaps he is a father, and feels for two terrified girls, who never were among strangers before. Or, perhaps," returning the benevolent smile of Barton with one of playful archness, "he may find us such a troublesome charge, that he will be glad to get rid of us before we reach London."
"My pretty Eve," returned Barton; "I am proof to temptation. What I have undertaken to do I will perform."
"Yet possibly," said she, "you would just allow me to speak once more to that officer, your pupil. I only wish to remind him of his past promises."
"Rather," replied Barton, "to move him to make more, or perchance make him your prisoner. No, fair lady, I see too much of your puissance, to trust my noble pupil in your presence. Yet I would have you think as well of him as the cloudy aspect of present appearances will admit, for man oweth man candour; it is the current coin of social life, and they who do not traffic with it, must not expect a supply for their own wants."
Eustace fretted at this badinage, and thought Barton a miserable jester. He caught at the epithet "Noble," and asked if any one, lawfully entitled to it, would be so degenerate as to rebel against his King.
"I am one of those stern teachers," said Barton, "who see nobility only in virtuous actions and high attainments, but even in your sense of the word, my pupil has a right to the name, being lineally descended from those mighty Barons, who in early times enforced Kings to yield, and gave us the right we now enjoy of sitting under our own vine and eating the fruit of our own fig-tree. And remember, young cavalier, that all men's minds are not shaped in one mould, nor have corresponding habits cherished in them the same associations. We have all two characters; our friends look at the white side, and see our virtues; our foes at the black, and discern nothing but our faults. The same action of the King's may be so coloured by report, as to justify my pupil's enmity and your passionate loyalty. You have been trained to deem passive obedience a duty, while he has learned to think that an English nobleman ought to resist arbitrary power. We thought many of the King's proceedings were contrary to the laws of the realm; and, therefore, joined those who sought to abridge his prerogative. And now that we have buckled on armour, retreat is difficult; it is dangerous too; party is a high-mettled steed, when we are mounted we must hold out the whole race it pleases to run. But before we part for the night, I will propose one toast; it is your brave and virtuous Lord Falkland's, and in fact the prayer of every honest man among us—Peace, peace on any terms, rather than see England blushing with blood and with crimes!"
Isabel received a very favourable impression of the integrity and benevolence of Barton from this conversation, and formed a sort of undefined hope, respecting the result of their captivity, which induced her strenuously to reject all the plans which Eustace repeatedly formed for their emancipation. The most disheartening circumstance was, that they saw no more of Williams. They sometimes flattered themselves that he had regained his liberty, and would carry an account of their situation to Colonel Evellin. They observed, that Barton took no notice of his absence, and hoping that in the confusion which commonly occurs in conveying a multitude of prisoners he had been overlooked, they forbore to make any inquiries that might endanger his safety.
The country through which they passed in their journey toward London, afforded them a full view of the miseries and crimes incident to civil war. The fields, in many places, were without any trace of culture; in others, the harvest had been prematurely seized or purposely wasted, to cut off the enemy's resources. They saw beautiful woods wantonly felled; towns and villages partially burnt; the youthful part of the population either enrolled in one or other of the hostile armies, or secreting themselves to avoid being pressed into military service. The few labourers to be seen in the fields consisted of the aged, the sick, or those who were disabled; and these no longer exhibited the cheerful aspect of happy industry, but shewed sorrow in their faces, and wretchedness in their garb. In towns, the more respectable inhabitants were dressed in mourning, thus announcing, that the death of some relation gave them a deep private interest in the public sorrow. The unemployed manufacturers crowded the streets, eagerly perusing libellous pamphlets, or diurnal chronicles, disputing furiously on points which none could clearly explain or indeed comprehend, asking for news as if it were bread, and shewing by the lean ferocity of their faces, and the squalid negligence of their attire, that from unpitied poverty sprung all the virulent passions of rage, envy, revenge, and disobedience. By such as these, the detachment that escorted the prisoners were received with transport as friends and deliverers, who, when their glorious toils were completed, would transform the present season of woe into a golden age of luxurious enjoyment and unvaried ease; and as the rebel troops were well furnished with money, and supplied with every necessary out of the royal magazines, which were seized in the beginning of the contest, they were enabled to pay for all the articles of subsistence, and thus acquired a popularity which the strict discipline preserved by their officers tended to increase. Hence at every town they passed through, they were not only hailed with acclamations, but received an augmentation of force by the recruits who joined them, under a certainty of receiving pay and cloathing.
Beside the mortification of thus viewing the strength of a party whom they hoped to find weak, disjointed, and inefficient, our young captives had the misery of hearing the royal cause every where vilified, and the Sovereign's personal character traduced. Among the King's misfortunes his inability to pay his army, or to supply it with necessaries, was most injurious to his success. His forces were chiefly raised and kept together by the private fortunes and influence of loyal noblemen and gentry, many of whom, even members of the house of Peers, served as privates, receiving neither honour nor reward, except the generous satisfaction of conscious duty. The situation of those who ranged themselves on this side without funds for their own support, was most precarious, the King being compelled to tax the few places which preserved their allegiance with their entire maintenance. The weekly assessment laid upon the nation by the house of Commons being granted by the constitutional purse-bearer, took the name of a lawful impost; but every demand of His Majesty might be construed into an exaction. Fearful to indispose the minds of subjects, pecuniary levies were cautiously resorted to; hence the officers were compelled to connive at plunder, and the destitute soldier often had no other means to supply his imperious wants. For the same reasons discipline was relaxed; every man who had largely contributed to the King's cause felt himself independent of his authority. Obliged beyond all probable power of remuneration, the Prince saw himself surrounded by men who had forfeited their estates, renounced their comforts, and risked their lives to support a tottering throne. Yet still they were subject to human passions, and liable to have those passions heightened by the free manners of camps, while the unhappy circumstances of the cause for which they fought exonerated them from those strict restraints that are so peculiarly necessary in an army, where right must always be less respected than power, and where severe privations, and the frail tenure by which life is held, are ever urged as motives to a licentious enjoyment of the present hour. While from these causes such relaxed discipline prevailed in a royal garrison, as generally to indispose the neighbourhood to its politics, the parliamentary officers felt bound to each other by the common fears of guilt, knowing that success alone could preserve them from the penalties of treason. Their soldiers being well supplied with every thing, had no excuse for plundering; and all acts of violence were punished with severity by those who, though of small consideration in their original situations compared with the King's officers, yet still held a natural command over the lowest vulgar, of whom the parliamentary rank and file were composed.
To return to the woes which our young captives witnessed in their melancholy tour through the seat of civil war.—The houses of the nobility and gentry were either abandoned or converted into places of strength, fortified for the defence of the inhabitants. Occasionally they passed over what had recently been a field of battle. The newly-formed hillocks pointed out the number of the slain; broken weapons and torn habiliments still more indubitably identified the mournful history; or flocks of ravens and other carrion birds hovering over the slightly-covered relics of a noble war-horse, which had been unearthed by foxes, presented a more savage picture of carnage. Sometimes a pale wounded soldier, whose inability to serve prevented his being secured as a prisoner, or removed by his friends, was seen lingering upon the spot that had proved fatal to his hopes of glory, sustained by the compassion of the neighbourhood or asking alms of the traveller with whom he crept over the graves of his comrades, shewing where the charge was first made, pointing to the spot where the leader fell, and telling what decided the fortune of the day.
Scenes very different, yet equally revolting to the feelings of Eustace and his companions, were frequently exhibited by the fury of fanatic mobs, employed in what they called reforming the churches and cleansing them from idolatry. The exquisite remains of antient art, the paintings, carvings, and other splendid decorations with which our ancestors adorned the structures consecrated to the worship of God, were broken and torn away with such unrelenting fury and blind rage of destruction, as in many instances to threaten the safety of the edifice they beautified. The Satanical spirit of fanaticism rioted uncontrolled; and to use the words of a venerable Bishop, who saw his own cathedral defaced, "it is no other than tragical to relate the carriage of that furious sacrilege, whereof our eyes and ears were the sad witnesses, under the authority and presence of the sheriff. Lord! what work was here—what clattering of glasses—what beating down of walls—what tearing up of monuments—what pulling up of seats—what wresting out of iron and brass from the windows and graves—what defacing of arms—what demolishing of curious stone-work, that had not any representation in the world but only of the cast of the founder, and the skill of the mason—what tooting and piping upon the destroyed organ-pipes, and what a hideous triumph on the market-day before all the country, when, in a kind of sacrilegious and profane procession, all the organ-pipes, vestments, copes and surplices, together with the leaden cross which had been newly sawn down from over the green-yard pulpit, and the service-books and singing-books that could be had, were carried to the fire in the public marketplace; a lewd wretch walking along in the train in his cope, trailing in the dirt, with his service-book in his hand, imitating in impious scorn the time, and usurping the words of the Litany used formerly in the church. Near the public cross all these monuments of idolatry must be sacrificed to the fire, not without much ostentation of a zealous joy in discharging ordnance, to the cost of some who professed how much they longed to see that day. Neither was it any news upon this guild-day to have the cathedral, now open on all sides, to be filled with musketeers, waiting for the mayor's return, drinking and tobaccoing as freely as if it had turned ale-house."
At these sad spectacles (of which almost every ornamented church they passed supplied an instance), Isabel contemplated with pleasure the character of Barton, who displayed that moderation and liberality which justified her predilection for him, and her hopes for themselves. He reproved the conduct of the mob with severity, and even hazarded his own safety by opposing their outrages. He exhorted the police to prevent what he termed an Anti-christian triumph over good taste, good manners, and good sense. He represented how grossly indecent it was that magistrates should seem, by their presence, to sanction the violation of authority, and the reverence due to antiquity, and he sometimes prevailed upon them to order the rabble to disperse, whom they had previously invited to the task of spoliation. He spoke to the better-informed, of the degradation which England would suffer in the eyes of surrounding nations, by thus wantonly "sweeping the land with the besom of destruction," and annihilating all those records of her own pre-eminence, which other countries, had they possessed them, would have been so solicitous to preserve. He distinguished between excitements to devotion and objects of worship, and he read from his little pocket-bible a description of the decorations bestowed on the first and second temples, and remarked, that when the Saviour of the world predicted the ruin of the latter, he threw no censure on the munificence of those who had adorned it. He shewed, that the plainness and poverty which of necessity attached to an afflicted church in its infancy, destined to make its way, not by the usual assistances of worldly wisdom, but in opposition to principalities and powers, were no rule for her government in future ages, when she was to be brought to her heavenly spouse "in glorious attire, with joy and gladness," and instead of wandering among caves and deserts, was to "enter into Kings' palaces." "If," said he, "you maintain that the overthrow of episcopacy is to involve the ruin of every thing rich, venerable, and beautiful, you furnish its defenders with the best of arguments. How are curious craftsmen to flourish, if there are no purchasers of their handy-works; and if we admit these into our houses, why not into the places where we hold our religious assemblies? Are paintings and carvings less likely to carnalize our hearts in our halls and banqueting-rooms than in our chapels? Is a golden cup on the Lord's table the accursed spoil of Achan; and doth it become purified by being removed to the buttery and used in a private carousal?"
On one occasion, by an ingenious device, Barton preserved a splendid representation of the twelve apostles in a chancel window. He arrived just at the moment that a drunken glazier had convinced the mob that they were made saints by the Babylonish harlot, and that therefore their similitudes, as popish rags, ought to be destroyed. After in vain endeavouring to persuade the populace that the Pope had no hand in their canonization, he at length prevailed upon them to have only the heads taken off, remarking that since the decapitated bodies could not provoke the gazer to commit the idolatry forbidden in the second commandment, they might remain without wounding tender consciences. The proposal was executed under his own superintendance; and at a period of less irritation, Mr. Barton, having preserved the heads, had the pleasure of restoring the mutilated figures to their original perfection.
But Barton shewed his conciliatory character in many ways besides protecting the inanimate appendages of the persecuted church. The journey afforded him frequent opportunities of assisting its living members, either by rescuing them from the requisitions of the troopers who escorted the prisoners, or by shielding them from the virulence of their infuriated neighbours. Often in the towns they passed through, was a degraded pastor dragged from the lowly cottage in which he sought to shelter his misfortunes, and compelled (with barbarous exaltation) to behold the rebel colours flying over his captive friends. Wherever this happened, Barton uniformly pressed forward, assured the dejected confessor that every possible attention was paid to the comfort of the prisoners; inquired into his own situation, not with impertinent curiosity but with kindness, and promised his assistance to procure him a regular payment of the pittance which Parliament allowed to ejected incumbents out of their sequestered rents, if (as it too frequently happened) he found it had been embezzled by the commissioners employed in the work of re-modelling the ecclesiastical system.
They had proceeded very far in their journey, when one evening Barton rejoined his charge with much apparent agitation in his manner. "We are forbidden," said he, "to let our left hand know the good deeds our right doth, yet cannot I refrain from telling you, young maidens, that I am this day satisfied with my labours. Among other providences, I have been able to render brotherly kindness to an episcopal minister whom I found in a lamentable state, for he had fallen among thieves, who robbed him of his property and tore his pass for safe conduct. Our van-guard found him by the way-side, and judging by his venerable aspect, and some superfluous decorations in his attire, that he was a deposed bishop flying to the King, they seized him without paying attention to his narrative. When I heard that a person in distress was taken prisoner, I spurred on my horse to see if I could be of use. The placid benignity of the sufferer's aspect moved my commiseration; he stood calm and collected among the musketeers, supporting a woman about his own age, who I trow was his wife. To do her justice she shewed no signs of terror, though she rolled her eyes on those around her with a look of disdain, less suited, methought, to her situation than the dignified patience of her companion. I asked him if he had been a bishop, and he answered, No; but was still a minister of the Christian church. 'Then,' said I, 'perhaps in your affliction you will not refuse the service, or reject the hand of one who calls himself by the same title.' 'Sir,' said he, 'this is no time to dispute the validity of your ordination; let your actions shew that it has had a due efficacy on your heart. As men, if not as clergymen, we are brothers by our common faith and nature. I beg you to listen to the statement of facts, which I have vainly endeavoured to persuade your soldiers to attend to.' He then told me he was travelling from a living in Lancashire, from whence he had been expelled, to Oxford, where he possessed some collegiate endowments; that he had been assaulted by a band of depredators, beat, bound, and plundered."
Constantia here eagerly interupted Barton; "His name!" exclaimed she;—"O, for mercy tell me, could it be my father, Eusebius Beaumont?"
"The same," returned Barton, melting with pity at her filial anguish. "Set thy kind heart at rest; he was not materially hurt; his property has been restored. He is now at liberty, pursuing his journey, and the robbers are secured. But why, dear maid, didst thou conceal thy name? Had I known thou wast his daughter, thou shouldst even now have been in his arms."
"O better, far not; for then he would have been a prisoner. But his companion, my excellent aunt?"
"At liberty too; I handed her into their own calash, and saw them drive off with a pass of safe conduct. But, pretty trembler, if she is so excellent, I will make you her proxy, to give me the reward she refused to my services. I did but ask for the kiss of peace at our parting, when she drew back her head as if she were an empress, and stiffly answered, 'Sir, I am a Loyalist.'"
This faithful description of aunt Mellicent's unswerving decorum diverted the young Evellins, and helped to dissipate Constantia's terrors. Her rapturous acknowledgements of the humane Barton largely repaid him for his services to her father. She listened to a circumstantial detail of the difficulties with which he had contended against the obstinacy and prejudices of the magistrates, to whom he had applied for a fresh passport; of the fortunate combination of circumstances which, had led to the pursuit and detection of the thieves, with the original instrument in their possession, and of their confession, commitment, and discovery of the place where they had deposited their booty. "I parted from your father," continued he, "with many affecting testimonies of mutual good-will, and I think aunt Mellicent, as you call her, would almost have smiled upon me, had not my vain heart indulged in too much joyous self-gratulation at the success of my endeavours, and thus brought on that just rebuke of my presumption. I did not ask your father to shew like mercy, whenever he should find one of us in like affliction, for his eyes told me that his conscience would be a better remembrancer than my tongue. I said, however, that I trusted we should meet in a world, where slight discrepancies of opinion would be no preventatives of friendship, though in this life they kindled the animosities which it was our misfortune to witness and deplore." "Sir," said he, pressing my hand, "let our contest be, who shall most truly serve God and our fellow-creatures, and then we may hope for that pardon, which ensures endless blessedness. On mercy the best of us must depend, though we too often withhold it from our fellow-sinners, by whose side we must one day kneel, and like them place all our confidence in boundless compassion."
"O!" said Constantia, "had not my fears anticipated the fact, those sentiments would have convinced me you had met my father."
"And when you next meet him," said Barton, "tell him that while there is a Carolus in my purse, he never shall feel penury."
"Say," returned she; "shall I ever see him again?"—Barton checked a reply, which a momentary reflection whispered was too prompt, and answered, "I am not a wizard, or diviner of things to come; wait, and see what the morrow will bring forth."
"'Tis impossible," replied Isabel, "to reach London to-morrow; but we might get to Oxford."
"True," said Barton, with a grave air, "but since we now draw near the King's quarters, I must redouble my precautions, and I now recollect 'tis my duty to attend the council of officers."
"At Banbury," continued she, attempting to detain him, "there is a royal garrison."
"To which you would escape," resumed Barton.—"Have I not told you I am proof to temptation, and will faithfully discharge the trust reposed in me by my employer."
The next day seemed to give the death-blow to Isabel's hopes. They now turned out of the direct road, in order that they might avoid the King's quarters, and directed their course, so that they might proceed through the associated counties to London.—With her usual alacrity of accommodation, Isabel endeavoured to reconcile her mind to the privations of captivity. "I know," said she, "I can not only earn my own living, but work also for Constantia. They will soon relax in the care of us girls, and it will be very easy for us to walk from London to Oxford. But, dear Eustace, I do indeed regret that I hindered you from attempting to escape. It was so selfish in me to keep you with us, as I fear they will require you to enlist in their army."
"I will be hewn into a thousand pieces first," returned he. "Have we not seen enough of those vile republicans, to determine an honest man never to purchase his life, by wearing the colours of traitors?"
"Yet, remember Barton's goodness to my father," said Constantia; "and forgive his severity to us."
"I honour Barton," replied Eustace; "I honour him even for that severity. His word has been plighted to his employers, and he must deliver us up prisoners. But what think you of Isabel's gallant officer, that resemblance of the noble, ingenuous Evellin. I will never study physiognomy under you, sister."
Isabel was more pained at this reproach than usual. Eustace perceived her droop. "Come, dear girl," said he, "we will talk of him no more. You shall never want a faithful protector while I live, and ardently as I pant to break these bonds and to be in action, I will make no attempt at freedom, unless I can also liberate you."
They stopped that night at Northampton. Barton was reserved and silent, and at length remarked, that in two days their party would reach London.—"I have never seen London," said Isabel. "Come, describe it to us, and say where shall we be confined. I suppose we shall meet with only warm, steady, common-wealth's men."
"It is the seat of discord," answered Barton; "there are as many factions as there are orators, all striving for mastery; yet all united against the King, by a persuasion of his insincerity, and by apprehensions that he would sacrifice them to his vengeance, in case he were reconciled to the Parliament."
"Can it be supposed," said Eustace, "that after the wrongs and iniquities he has endured, he ever can forgive! Where is the oblivious draught that can drown the recollection of a nation rising in arms against its Sovereign?"
Baron answered—"The nation and the King must both forgive, or war must be eternal. You have seen its aspect; what think you? Is this great quarrel like the mere abstract question which is cooly discussed in the cabinet of Princes, when they talk of risking ten thousand lives for a victory, and laying waste a province to cut off the resources of the enemy? Let us not balance misery against forgiveness. It is childish reasoning to keep ourselves in torment, because we will not forget the injuries we have suffered. Peace only can heal our putrifying wounds, and peace can never be bought too dear, unless the price is conscience or safety."
They now separated for the evening; anxious thoughts kept the captives awake. But after all was silent in the inn, Isabel heard a gentle tap at the chamber-door. In a state of agitation, every sound is alarming. She listened, and heard Barton whisper, "Arise." Before she could open the door, the watchful Eustace had flown to their protection. Barton was closely muffled in his cloak, and inquired if they dared to trust themselves with him. Constantia drew back, and looked alarmed, while Isabel accepted his offered arm. "The night is dark," said Eustace, "and would conceal evil designs."—"Peradventure," replied Barton, "it will also prosper good ones; I speak but three words—speed, silence, liberty."
Encouraged by these animating sounds, Eustace cheered the trembling Constance, and following their guide, they hurried along by the street which led to the castle. As the avenues to the King's quarters were more vigilantly watched, their danger was here most imminent; but Barton had secured a friend, who suffered them to pass through his garden, and by close unfrequented passages they gained the fields. The rising moon now discovered some indefinite objects, concealed among brush-wood. Barton whistled, and the countersign, "Banbury," was returned in a voice which they knew to be that of Williams. He ran for their horses, which were fastened at a little distance, while Barton alternately embraced his young friends, and affectionately bade them God-speed.—"Excellent man," said the ardent Eustace, whose over-flowing gratitude now seemed to exceed his former suspicions, "why did you not tell us your design?"
"Because," replied he, "I saw not in you that property of discretion, which would allow me to trust you with your own safety."
"Yet," resumed Eustace, "if I am rash, I am not base, nor will I accept freedom if it endangers your safety or wounds your conscience."
"I trust," replied Barton, "I shall be back to my quarters before I am missed, and as to my conscience, that sleeps on a soft pillow. I have discharged the trust reposed in me."
"The Cornet then," said Isabel, "is not a villain."
Barton smiled, and replied, "Artless maiden, think not too much of the agent whom Providence employed to send you safely through a tract of country you could not otherwise have passed."
"O, tell me his name," said Eustace, "that I may join it to yours, when I pray for my benefactors."
"I must not compromise his safety," answered Barton; "his generosity, if known, would endanger his life."
"But how shall I know him, as to repay his kindness."
"Think you see him in every unarmed enemy you meet, and deal by them as he has dealt by you."
"But if we should meet him in battle?"
"Even in battle," answered Barton, "if there is time for reflection, remember thy enemy is a man, and thy brother." With these words they parted. Barton regained his quarters undiscovered, and the young people, blessing his goodness, performed the rest of their journey in safety.
 Bishop Hall, who cannot be objected to as a favourer of Popery or Arminianism. The inconsistency of the Fanatics was exemplified by their destroying, as a popish relic, Paul's Cross, so celebrated for sounding forth the doctrines of the Reformation.
 This portrait of Barton is justified by the conduct of many truly respectable men, whose principles led them, for a time, to countenance the impracticable theories of republicanism. I could name Dr. Owen, General Fairfax, Lord Manchester and others.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAP. XII. CHAP. XIII. CHAP. XIV. CHAP. XV. CHAP. XVI. CHAP. XVII. CHAP. XVIII.
The idea of one day withdrawing from the world to prepare for immortality is a very pernicious one; and, like all other worldly hopes and plans, may never he realized. Use the present hour if you would make your calling and election sure. If God has placed you among the pomps and vanities of the world, fear not; do your duty amongst them, nor suppose that you may defer seeking your Creator until you obtain a retired situation.
The re-union of the family at Oxford furnished ample topics for pious and affectionate gratitude. Barton's praise was re-echoed by every individual except Mrs. Mellicent, who yet went so far as to say, it was a pity he was a roundhead. A friend of Dr. Beaumont's accommodated his family with apartments in one of the colleges; his academical sinecures, and the relics of his private fortune, afforded him a decent support; he was surrounded by people of his own principles; and as all the strength of the King's cause was concentrated about the seat of the court, every apprehension of personal insecurity was at an end. He was now, therefore, in a state of comparative comfort; man is seldom placed in a better; and in times like those I describe, a good subject could not be happy.
Eustace felt much chagrin that all his expectations were not realized. He was indeed at liberty, and with his uncle, but still forbidden "to flesh his maiden sword." His father had again eluded his search, and was still withheld from procuring an explanatory interview with the sovereign whom he faithfully served, which, he determined, should precede his son's taking the field. His troop had been recalled from the royal escort, and ordered to rejoin the Marquis of Newcastle, who, after having long successfully opposed Sir Thomas Fairfax, was in imminent danger of having his laurels blasted by the threatened invasion of the Scots Covenanters, now gathering to assist their English friends, and compel an universal adoption of Presbyterian government, and abjuration of constitutional monarchy. It was impossible, therefore, for Eustace to obtain the permission for which his soul panted; and academic repose ill suited the self-devoted soldier. His retirement was spent in a somewhat similar way to that of Toby Shandy. He read descriptions of battles and sieges; he planned ravelins and counterscarps; and he braced his frame, and exercised his muscles, by every athletic exertion which could inure him to toil, or facilitate his success in arms.
Constantia felt quite happy. She was surrounded by all whom her heart best loved; she had leisure and opportunity to improve her taste in the fine arts; and she was allowed that limited and distant view of the world which informs the mind and polishes the manners without endangering principle. Her exquisite beauty could not fail to attract attention; but the scanty income of her father, and the prudence of Mrs. Mellicent, alike forbade that it should be ostentatiously exposed to the public eye. A few select friends were admitted as intimates, and only these knew that Dr. Beaumont had a superlatively lovely and enchanting daughter. She seldom appeared in public except at church, where her face was so shaded by her hood, that its attractions were rather guessed at than discovered. Thus this fair rose-bud expanded in the soil best suited to perfect its attractions, the sheltered vale of domestic privacy, where, unconscious of its super-eminence, and screened from every blast, it preserved the undying fragrance of modest worth, and the soft elegance of unassuming beauty.
Isabel was almost as happy as usual; her adoration of her father would not permit her to be quite so while he was in danger. Beside, she could not help thinking how shocking it would be, were the chance of war to oppose him to the noble young officer who had so admirably planned and faithfully executed their deliverance. If he should fall by the hand of her father!—the bare possibility of such a cruel return for his goodness often brought tears into her eyes; and she lamented that the incautious impetuosity of Eustace prevented Barton from entrusting them with his name. She fancied the preservation of their deliverer was her only motive for wishing to trace his identity, till she recollected how little could be gained towards that end by knowing who he was. In these perilous times messengers oftener miscarried than arrived in safety; and the sanctity of private correspondence was violated by either party as often as opportunity served. All, but the exemplary Lord Falkland, thought the least doubt of the fidelity of an adherent a sufficient vindication of breaking open his letters; and therefore, since, if she knew the stranger's name, she could not repeat it without endangering his safety, it was better she should remain in ignorance, and trust the event to Providence. She sometimes thought Williams knew him, because he once accounted for Barton's secrecy by observing that his pupil might be sprung from parents whom he was ashamed to own. Isabel answered that the faults of the basest could not contaminate so perfect a character. "Would you say so," returned Williams, "if he were the son of Lord Bellingham?" "I know nothing of Lord Bellingham," said she, "except that when my dear father was discomposed, he often called him by very harsh epithets; but as at these moments he knew neither me nor Eustace, nor even my mother, till her sobbings attracted his notice, and told him she was his faithful wife, I think I should not conclude Lord Bellingham to be a very wicked man on such testimony."
Williams asked her if she ever heard him mentioned while she was with the rebel detachment.
"Our good Barton," returned she, "sometimes spoke of him as one who was reputed too be a godly man, and who filled his house with devout ministers, yet was of a very pleasant companionable humour, steady in the good cause, but willing to come to terms with the King, whom he wished not to be pushed to extremities. Barton seemed to think Lady Bellingham was too much wedded to a vain world."
"And their son——"
"He never mentioned that they had a son." "Nor do I say they have," said Williams; "but I know enough of Lord Bellingham to say, that if he has one, he never ought to own his father without a blush." Isabel could draw no more from Williams; and, on recollecting the conversation, she saw that only a creative imagination could connect it with her deliverer.
Winter now interrupted the operations of the King's armies in most quarters. But the brave Lord Newcastle had to contend at once with English and Scotch rebels. The hardy frames of the latter enabling them to defy the severest season, they passed the boundaries of their own country, and, fixing a label, importing their attachment to the "bloody covenant," in their hats, began the work of desolation in the northern counties, while the mountainous barrier which divides them from the plains of Yorkshire, then covered with snow, reflected the horrible beams of hostile fires. And in Wales, a body of forces, sent to the relief of Ireland, had been recalled by the King, whose urgent necessities compelled him to employ them to support the loyal Welsh, who, with this aid, surprised several Parliamentary holds, and for some time operated as a diversion to the army of Fairfax, preventing him from joining the Scotch to crush the noble Newcastle. The King's cause at this time wore a fair aspect; and no better proof could be given of his having a chance of ultimate success, and of the divisions among his opponents, than that the Lords Bedford and Holland, and other noblemen, who had distinguished themselves as partizans of the Parliament, sought shelter within the royal lines, and even presumed to attempt regaining the confidence of their injured Sovereign.
Lord Holland, who had stood high in the Queen's favour, building upon the prejudices she was known to entertain against many of the King's most faithful adherents, imagined himself secure of regaining the office he had once held through her influence, notwithstanding the unbleached stains of his former treasons. Beauty is too apt to exert a peremptory claim to absolute dominion; and, not content with conjugal affection, requires obsequious dotage. The Queen's views being all limited to the routine of a court, unhappily indisposed her from acting the part of a faithful wife in this critical emergency, and induced her to use all her power to make the King depend more for advice upon herself and her favourites, than on those sages who presided at the council board, or those warriors who contended in the field; in other words, to prefer shallow courtiers, known only for polished manners, habits of dissipation, and an excessive regard to their own interest, to men who knew the strength and disposition of the enemy, who, by deep researches into past times, could judge of the present, and were too noble-minded to build plans of self-aggrandizement on the future. Misled by smooth flatterers, the Queen manifested a fatal dislike to all those whose minds were too much occupied to pay her particular court. Opposition to her opinion, was, in her estimation, high treason. The uxuriousness of the amiable King towards his fascinating Princess (who to all her sex's charms united all their foibles), exceeded justifiable attachment to an engaging and faithful partner. He gave her credit for qualities she did not possess; and the malice of the Parliamentary leaders against her, on account of her religion, increased his eagerness to support and defend her; nor could his most attached friends counteract her fatal influence. Her fidelity and wishes to serve him were indeed unquestioned; but in some characters, a forbearance from interfering in our affairs is the truest test of friendship.
The strange circumstance of noblemen, who had even borne arms against the King, boasting that they possessed the Queen's confidence, suggested a fear that further accommodations with individual traitors were on the tapis, and that Oxford would no longer remain a sacred asylum to a persecuted court, where unblemished loyalty was sure of safety and esteem; but a sanctuary to which terrified iniquity might retreat, and, grasping the horns of the altar, defy justice. The influence that Lady Bellingham once possessed over the Queen's mind was recollected by Dr. Beaumont; and, as Her Majesty had given proof that her friendships were indelible, he could not but apprehend that some project might be formed by that artful woman to secure her husband a retreat, in case his reported moderation should really proceed from his secret alienation from the rebel cause, and from a wish of reconciliation with the King. The conviction that such an adept in treachery could never really serve his Prince, determined Dr. Beaumont to act as the representative of the absent Evellin, request a private audience with his Sovereign, and reveal the secret history of the house of Neville, at the same time presenting young Eustace as its true and lineal heir. The affability and justice of the King prompted him to listen to all his subjects. He heard, with horror, a narration of the arts by which he had been imposed on when he was unversed in the intricacies of government, and too sincere and noble to suspect deceit in others. That Allan Neville, whose person and merit he well remembered, whose rashness and reported criminality he had lamented, and whose supposed death he had deplored, was still alive, and no other than the renowned Colonel Evellin, whose address in forwarding to him the supplies procured from Holland, and whose brave exploits with the Northern army, had endeared his name to him, even while he deemed him a stranger, excited wonder, grief, self-reproach, and admiration. He readily promised Dr. Beaumont that no solicitations should ever induce him to bestow confidence on a man whose crimes marked him out as an outcast from society; and, with the most gracious expressions of sorrow for the past, he as firmly assured him that, in the event of his being again able to exercise his royal authority, one of his first acts should be to re-instate Neville in all his hereditary rights. He offered to put into the Doctor's hands a patent for that purpose; but as that would only bestow title without restoring the estates which De Vallance enjoyed under the protection of the Parliament, Dr. Beaumont declined a mark of favour which would not essentially benefit his friend, but rather point him out to the inveterate malice of his enemies if he should happen to fall into their hands. He only requested a private recognition of Evellin's right; this the King gave in a letter, written by himself, addressing him by the name of Bellingham, expressing his satisfaction at hearing he was alive, and innocent of the crimes laid to his charge, acknowledging the deceits that had been practised upon himself, and avowing his great anxiety to possess the power of redressing his wrongs; then, warmly thanking him for his services, the King concluded in these words, "Your assured friend, Charles R."
Dr. Beaumont now introduced his nephew, after previously stipulating that no hint should transpire of his being the rightful heir of an earldom; but that he should be welcomed only as the son of a gallant officer now fighting in the Royal army. The fine figure and ingenuous manners of Eustace so pleased the King, that he wished him to pay his duty to the Queen also, an honour Dr. Beaumont could not decline. No Princess was a more consummate judge of beauty, grace, and native politeness than Henrietta Maria; they were qualities which ever gained her favour; and she piqued herself on having introduced into the English court the polished manners which had long distinguished that of France. Conversing with Eustace, she found nature had been as liberal to his mind as to his person. Pleased with his wit and gallantry, she asked him, with that air of condescending dignity which seems to confer a favour while it requires a service, to become one of her pages of honour, and a volunteer in her troop of guards. Dazzled with the attention of his Royal mistress, still beautiful, and most fascinating in her affability, Eustace never considered that the request wedded him to her fortunes. He saw in her who made it his sovereign Lady, the consort of that excellent Prince whom he had been taught to reverence in prosperity, and adore in misfortune. Inflamed with the ardent spirit of chivalry, he panted to defend the title of his King, and the beauty and virtue of his Queen, against all impugners. To suffer for her was glorious. Perish the base worldling who thought either of danger or remuneration! He immediately declared his rapturous acceptance of her invitation; and, kneeling, sealed his vows on the fair hand of his illustrious mistress.
Nothing could be more contrary to the wishes and principles of Dr. Beaumont, than this connexion. The Queen's retinue was composed of that refuse of the old court, who not having talents for an active situation, nor virtue enough to make them sensible of the baseness of impoverishing dependence, continued to hang like leeches on the exhausted frame of Royalty, and to drain its decayed resources for their own support. While the King and his counsel were debating how to equip an army without money or credit; while the great and the good were disarraying their noble mansions, parting with every moveable, mortgaging their lands, and alienating even the treasured heir-looms which had for centuries attested their high descent, to support their falling Sovereign; the courtiers, who surrounded the Queen, were engaging their mistress to forward their intrigues for places and titles, and inticing her to pervert the scanty resources of the public treasury to feed their rapacity. Thus, when, after a painful summer spent in martial toils and dangerous conflicts, the King came to his winter-quarters, he found the fatigues of his public duties aggravated by those private cabals which were ever at work to counteract the decisions of his council, and to balance the advantage of a few sycophants against a nation's weal. The faction of whom I speak were incapable of judicious conduct either in prosperity or in adversity, mistaking a few successful enterprises for the former, and thereupon becoming insolent and sanguine, talking of unconditional submission from the rebels, and an intire reinstatement of themselves in the luxurious ease of their former sinecures; yet as easily discouraged by a few adverse events; without resources, without firmness; actuated by the evil spirit of selfishness which forbids any good or noble determination to enter the impure heart, that submits to its influence.
To these summer-flies which infest royalty, and often turn greatness to corruption, were added the gay, volatile, voluptuous part of the officers, who had obtained leave of absence from their respective cantonments, and who thought the hardships of a soldier excused the excesses of a libertine. These were chiefly young men of high birth, neglected education, and unsound principles; unacquainted with the nature of the church and government for which they professed to fight, and so ignorant of religion and morality, as to be perpetually confounding them with fanaticism and hypocrisy, those constant topics of their abuse and ridicule. With them to be a republican or a sectary, was to be a knave, a cut-throat, nay, a devil; and to fight for the King conferred the privilege of violating those laws, which his supremacy was designed to guarantee. How dangerous was such society to the impetuous Eustace Evellin, whose passions unfolded with an ardour, proportioned to his quick vivacious temper. Dr. Beaumont would have preferred seeing his charge in the field of battle, to beholding him in this scene of moral peril, particularly if he could have placed him under the command of the noble Lord Hopton, who was alike skilled to subdue the enemies of his King, and to suppress his own resentment at the injuries which he suffered from those who should have been his coadjutors.
But the die was cast, and there was no retreating; Eustace had accepted the Queen's invitation, and now complained, with less deference than he usually shewed for his uncle's judgment, of the superfluous caution which kept him wrapped up like a shivering marmoset, and even refused to expose him to the slight hazard of an holiday soldier. Could he not mount guard, go through the manual exercise, or gallop at a review without endangering his precious life? Isabel, who had parted with some valuable trinkets, to purchase materials for his regimentals, and was now busy in working his ruff, declared it would be hard to restrain him. Constance had embroidered a scarf, which she tied around him; and after seeing him in his hat and plume, thought he looked so like a hero, that he might be indulged in just such a circumscribed sphere of glory as Andromache would have allowed to Hector, namely, to brace on his arms, and defend the walls of the city. Even Mrs. Mellicent observed, that her nephew made a very comely soldier. Dr. Beaumont, therefore, finding that he could not withhold Eustace from the temptations which surrounded him, had only to counsel him to resist them.
He did not commence his instructions with general invectives against a court-life; but admitted that good and wise men were often called to it by duty. He observed, that injunctions against entering into that or any other public station, savoured more of monastic or puritanic austerity than true piety. The concerns of government must be performed by human agents, and in representing eminent stations as incompatible with honesty, what do we but leave public business in the hands of unprincipled persons, and thus really encourage the depravity and knavery we affect to deplore. A nation must suffer, as well in a political as in a moral sense, when its rulers are weak or wicked; and how dare we pray that the will of God may be done upon earth, when we discourage those from directing worldly affairs, who feel a true zeal for his glory? This is, indeed, to accomplish the lying boast of Satan, who said that the kingdoms of the world were his, and he gave them to whom he chose.
The Doctor further observed, that every situation had its temptations. The Hermit in his cell is haunted by spiritual pride, and even when we perform those active duties of benevolence which our religion requires, we must beware lest we are guilty of ostentation. If, when we rise from our knees, we have judged harshly of our brother, the volume of inspiration assures us, that we have sinned in our prayers. The same vigilant examination and lowliness of heart which Christians in private life require, will prevent those who inhabit courts and camps from displeasing their Creator. Or admit that the latter have greater temptations to offend, are they not amenable to a judge, who determines actions by relative circumstances, who awards brighter crowns to those who have endured sharper conflicts, and pardons the offences of over-tried frailty. From the private citizen, who is blessed with leisure and security to consider his ways, he requires those passive virtues, that humble and grateful spirit, which in evil times are yet more rarely seen, than integrity and ability in rulers, who, walking among briars and thorns, harassed by public and private enemies, calumniated and misrepresented, exposed to numerous temptations, dangers, and snares, will, doubtless, if guided by singleness of heart, receive from God that pardon for their errors, which is denied them by those who reap the fruits of their labours.
"We may," continued he, "live in the world, without either shewing a haughty contempt for its enjoyments, or being devoted to its delights; without being intoxicated with its flattery, or depressed by its misfortunes. A court-life must, at your age, seem pleasant, but should you in future become weary of it, and regret that you have not sufficient time to devote to God, and to cherish the thought of him in your heart, recollect that wherever he places you, you are as sure of his favour and acceptance, as if you passed every hour of your life in meditation and prayer. God is served, not merely with the words of the mouth or the bending of the knee; it is the pure and upright heart which he requires, and with which alone he will be satisfied; with this upright frame of mind we may live in the world, without either singularity or affectation, and cheerfully conform to its customs and amusements, yet preserve the most strict subjection and duty to the Almighty."
"Suffer not, dearest Eustace, pleasure or business to prevent the solemn duties of self-examination and prayer. These are spiritual antidotes, which preserve an endangered soul from the contamination of evil customs and loose society. When leisure permits, add religious reading, and above all the study of the Holy Scriptures. Never allow this world to be balanced against the next: eternity outweighs all that time can offer; be it pleasure, wealth, advancement, or glory. Keep these things in mind; serve thy Creator in thy youth; remember innocence is preferable to repentance, and I shall then see thee like assayed gold purified by trial."
Eustace promised a strict observance, and Dr. Beaumont now esteemed it his duty to send the faithful Williams to Colonel Evellin to acquaint him with what had passed, and to receive further directions for the disposal of his son. He also privately informed the King of the solemn promise he had made to Evellin, and obtained an assurance that the service of Eustace should never be required so as to incur a breach of that obligation; and further, that if no other restrictions could prevail, his own commands should confine the volunteer to the defence of Oxford, which was now threatened with a siege by the advancing armies of the Earl of Essex and Sir William Waller.
When we contemplate the miseries incident to civil war in a remote age, our views are fixed on the effects of discord, as visible in the contentions of two great opposing parties; we do not consider either the minor factions into which each body is split, or the distracted counsels and inefficient measures which constantly occur, when it is known that the restraint of prescriptive authority is necessarily relaxed, and that he who ought to govern and reward, is compelled to submit to controul and to sue for favour. When the head of a community is humbled, every member thinks he has a right to pre-eminence; and thus a war, begun under the pretence of subduing a tyrant, eventually creates multitudes of petty despots, only contemptible, because their sphere of oppression is small. In the King's council, the wisdom of Southampton, the moderation of Falkland, and the integrity of Hyde, had to contend with the pride and petulance of those who would not lower their own pretensions in deference to the public good, or forgive a private wrong for the sake of that unity which alone could secure the whole. In the army discord was equally prevalent; the generals accusing each other on every mischance, panting for superiority, and all offended at the hauteur of Prince Rupert, and jealous of the influence of Lord Digby. The Parliament was still more divided; in it that party was now ripening, which finally overturned every branch of the constitution, and founded a most oppressive but vigorous tyranny on its ruins.
The old republican leaders, or commonwealth's men, as they were called, began to see that self-preservation required their re-union with the King; but the aspiring Cromwell and his crafty adherents, relying on their numbers and influence in the army, resolved to clog every proposal of peace with terms which they knew the Sovereign must from conscience refuse. Of the generals who commanded their armies, the Earl of Essex was already known to have seen his error, in suffering pique at supposed slights and unintentional negligence to stimulate his pride into that rebellion which his principles condemned; and it was believed, even by his own party, that nothing but a dread of having sinned beyond sincere forgiveness, induced him to reject all overtures from the King. The disorderly bands commanded by Sir William Waller were like their general, distinguished only by greater insolence to their Prince, and even by personal attempts on his life; but this army had been dispersed early in the summer, and the leader had fallen into contempt. "The Earl of Manchester was of their whole cabal the most unfit for the company he kept, at first induced to join, what was then called, the patriotic party by filial piety, and led step by step to countenance those disorganizing counsels, which ravaged the country he loved with too unskilful a tenderness:" yet, unwilling to oppress any, he used the power his ill-acquired authority gave him, to preserve individuals from the distress which his fatal victories occasioned. This moderation ruined him in the eyes of his employers; and about this time there appeared in his army that dark malignant spirit, whose subtile machinations soon deprived him of all power of restraining the torrent, which, when he helped to raise the flood-gates of contention, he hoped he should always be able to direct and control. Sir Thomas Fairfax, the Parliamentary general in the north, was, by nature, a lover of moderation, and by education enlightened and liberal. He also strove, as far as his influence extended, to lessen the miseries of civil war; but that influence soon sunk under the daring preponderance of Cromwell, whose ultimate designs he wanted penetration to discover, and whose dark machinations he was always too late in his efforts to counteract.
Such was the state of the kingdom, when the Queen, terrified at the apprehension of being besieged in Oxford, fled to the west of England, and soon after to France, her native country, leaving an infant daughter to increase the anxieties of her Royal husband, but relieving him from the perplexities originating in the contentious faction, by whom she was surrounded. Through the injunctions of the King, Eustace had been prevented from accompanying his Royal mistress, and by enrolling his name among the bands who garrisoned Oxford, he in some degree discharged his sense of duty. Dr. Beaumont, besides, allowed him to take part in the enterprizes by which those vigilant warriors shewed their zeal and fidelity, as soon as they were relieved from their apprehensions for the safety of that important post, by the retreat of the rebel army.
As Williams did not return with an answer from Colonel Evellin, it was concluded that he had fallen into the hands of the enemy, a misfortune too common to the Royal expresses. One however arrived from the north, charged with most dolorous tidings of the fatal overthrow at Marston-Moor, the loss of York, and of its whole province, which had for so long a space resisted the incursions of the republican party, under the auspices of the Marquis of Newcastle. These direful events, which resulted from want of concord between the King's generals, were followed by Lord Newcastle's quitting the kingdom in a hasty sally of passionate despair, and by the dispersion of the army which his influence had raised, and his munificent loyalty had maintained. Only one small band of Loyalists under the command of Sir Thomas Glenham remained, who, after the reduction of York, threw themselves into Carlisle, and bravely defended it eleven months against a victorious enemy, without prospect of assistance. To this fragment of a powerful army Colonel Evellin attached himself. He sent a letter by the same person who brought the dispatch to the King, informing his friends that he was unwounded either in his person or his reputation, and ready to suffer every thing but dishonour for his injured Monarch. He gave a lively description of the respective armies, and of the misfortunes of the Royal cause, in being intrusted to men who suffered passion to prevail over judgment, and chose to sacrifice their King sooner than quell their private resentments. But he complained in the tone of a man who had made his choice, and though hopeless of success resolved to persevere, and welcomed self-denial and sorrow. He assured Dr. Beaumont that the rebels had gained no victory over his principles; his enmity to their undertakings remained the same; "and if," said he, "the little remnant of my days is cut off in the next engagement, I shall live in my children; and they will, I doubt not, see the destruction of these 'covenanters', who cause the ruin of families and the decay of common honesty; changing the former piety and plain dealing of this nation into cruelty and cunning. When I see all they have done, I thank God that he prevented me from being one of the party which helped to bring in these sad confusions, and I pray him to preserve my son to see their just punishment."
As this letter proved that the Colonel had not met with Williams, it operated as a renewed inhibition on Dr. Beaumont to prevent Eustace from rushing into the field, for which he had now a fresh incentive in the friendship he had formed with Major Monthault, a young man of birth and fortune, who had been attached, like himself, to the Queen's suite. This youth had seen actual service, and spoke with enthusiasm of the character of Lord Goring, then just appointed general of the horse in the west. He described him as the soldier's darling; a Mars in the field; an Apollo at mess; a Jove in council, and a Paris among the fair. It was evident that Monthault piqued himself on being the counter-part of the excellence he commended, especially in the last particular. His intimacy with Eustace allowed him to visit Dr. Beaumont's family, and his attentions to the fair Helen of the group were certainly more marked than delicate, and would have excited the fears of Eustace, had he not taken care to inform the Major that he was betrothed to his lovely cousin with the entire approbation of herself and their mutual friends, though their union was deferred until a riper age and happier period. To admire and praise, or even to gaze passionately on the promised wife of a friend, as Monthault did on Constantia, seemed to Eustace an implied commendation similar to that bestowed on a house, gardens, or any other beautiful and valuable possession, innocent in itself and flattering to the taste of the owner. He knew not that there existed such a character as a seducer, who could teach an unsuspecting mind to despise solemn engagements; he felt no tendency to treachery in his own heart. No one was more susceptible than he of the power of beauty, but he thought honour was the only means by which its favour could be won, and even his ardent passion for heroic fame derived an additional stimulus from his love to the amiable and innocent Constantia.
The circumstances of my narrative oblige me again to recur to the state of public affairs. The treaty of Uxbridge was now pending; the necessities of the King compelled him to enquire on what terms his subjects would sheath the sword, and the rapid ascendancy of the fanatic party in Parliament, added to the mutual accusations and recriminations of their generals, induced the moderate Presbyterians to try if, by reconciliation with their Sovereign, they could gain strength to oppose the power which openly threatened their destruction and his. The artifices of Cromwell and his adherents need not be minutely detailed in a work intended only to give an admonitory picture of those times. In one point those men differed from the majority of modern Reformers, or rather the manners of that age were different from ours. Religion was then the mode; men and women were in general expounders and preachers; ordinary conversation was interlarded with Scripture phrases; common events were providences; political misconstructions of the sacred story were prophecies; and a fluency of cant was inspiration. No man (to borrow one of their favourite terms) was more gifted this way than Cromwell; he had discerned the current of the public humour, and could adopt the disguise which suited his ambition. Every step which led him to the summit of power was prefaced by what he called seeking the Lord; that is, attending sermons and prayers, by which the suborned performers of those profane and solemn farces prepared their congregations to desire what their employers had previously determined to do; thus giving an air of divine inspiration to the projects of fraud, murder, and ambition. By such a perversion of public worship, joined with an affectation of disinterested purity, that celebrated preparative for military despotism, the self-denying ordinance was introduced into the Commons. After numerous prayers and sermons, intreating Providence to strengthen the hands of the faithful, by choosing new instruments to carry on the godly work, an agent of Cromwell's inferred, that the Lord had indeed prompted their counsels, and proposed that henceforth no peer or member of Parliament should hold any public office. By these means, every man of rank and eminence who had been distinguished by a constitutional struggle against arbitrary acts of power, and afterwards reluctantly led into open rebellion, was cashiered and dismissed from the army and from all official situations, which were thus left open to the fanatical party.
Alarmed at the high hand with which this ordinance was carried, the old commonwealth's men strained every nerve to renew a pacificatory intercourse with the King, which they effected; but their power extended no further; the preliminaries were clogged with terms wholly destructive of the church, and virtually tending to abolish regal power. The ruin or death of all the King's adherents was resolved on; and in proof that the fanatics could not only threaten but act, the venerable Archbishop Laud, after suffering a long imprisonment, was dragged to the scaffold. Thus the Parliamentary commissioners set out for Uxbridge with their banners dipped in the blood of the highest subject in the realm, the head of the Anglican church, and His Majesty's personal friend.
No true Englishman could have expected, or indeed wished, that the King should purchase permission to become a state-puppet, shackled in all his movements, obliged to sanction the cruel and illegal acts of his enemies by a breach of his coronation-oath, and compelled to abandon the established church and the lives of his faithful friends to their inveterate animosity. In vain was it privately suggested by the most moderate of the Parliamentary commissioners, that it was expedient to close on any terms, and unite with than to humble a party whose desperate purposes, supported by the popularity of their pretensions, threatened destruction to all their opponents. The King determined never to seem to barter his conscience for personal safety. He at that time foresaw what he afterwards so affectingly expressed in a letter to his nephew Prince Rupert, "that he could not flatter himself with an expectation of success more than to end his days with honour and a good conscience, which obliged him to continue his endeavours, not despairing that God would, in due time, avenge his own cause. Yet he owned, that those who staid with him must expect and resolve either to die for a good cause, or, which is worse, to live as miserable in the maintaining it as the violence of insulting rebels could make them." The treaty terminated without hope of being again renewed. Cromwell carried his ordinance; the army and the state were governed by his own creatures; while, by a master-piece of cunning, he contrived to be exempted from the restrictions of his own decree, and continued to act as general and legislator without a rival. Afterwards, when his packed representatives had effected all the purposes for which he kept them together, he put himself at the head of a file of soldiers, destroyed the engine by which he had overthrown the constitution, and turned the pantomimic Parliament out of doors, laden with the odium of his crimes as well as of their own.
The melancholy presentiments of the King, when he found all hopes of honourable reconciliation futile, confirmed his determination to send the Prince of Wales into the west of England, where his arms still triumphed, that in case either of them fell into the hands of the rebels, the freedom of the other might tend to secure their mutual safety. To preserve the principles of the royal stripling, the King parted with several of his most faithful advisers. He constituted Lord Hopton commander in chief of the western district, but by fixing him more peculiarly about the person of his son, he unhappily gave too much power to the subaltern generals, among whom the apple of discord seemed to have been thrown, for they agreed in nothing but hatred of each other, and mismanagement of their trust.
Major Monthault belonged to the western army, and was ordered to leave Oxford in the Prince's suite. He had employed the leisure season of winter in cultivating an intimacy with the Beaumonts, and not being one of those who can look at beauty with disinterested admiration, he employed every art to ensnare Constantia. Simple, innocent, and mildly gay, she saw no danger in conversing with the friend of Eustace. He had spent much time in foreign courts; she led him to talk of celebrated beauties whom he had there seen; he found in all of them some glaring defect which forfeited their claims to supremacy. She laughed at his fastidiousness, and bade him describe what he would admit to be an irresistible charmer; he drew her own portrait, but she so rarely consulted her glass, that she knew not the likeness. He once advised her to arrange her tresses in what he deemed a more becoming braid; she did so, and then immediately asked Eustace if he approved the alteration; when, finding he disliked it, she resumed her former costume, and frankly avowed her reason for so doing. Monthault was piqued, and made several sharp remarks on the versatility of women.
"I fancy," said Constantia, "your's is a most invulnerable heart; we poor women are in your eyes either destitute of attractions to gain, or of merit to retain your affections. But don't be too sure of always keeping your boasted liberty. Aunt Mellicent says, men begin to doat at fifty, and then they do not love but idolize."
"The age of dotage and adoration begins earlier," answered Monthault, with a look which crimsoned the cheeks of Constantia; "but while you falsely accuse me of being invulnerable, have I not cause to deplore your impenetrability? I find it is impossible to agitate that tranquil bosom with so impetuous a guest as love."
Constantia was offended at the suggestion. "You know," replied she, "I am engaged to Eustace; and do you think I would marry him if I viewed him with indifference?"
Monthault observed, that a contract made at a premature age must originate in indifference, and never could be considered as indissoluble.
"I consider it so," answered Constantia; "nothing can dissolve it but death, or some palpable proof of gross unworthiness."
"Suppose," said Monthault, "a more enlarged view of mankind should discover to you a worthier lover; one whose passion for you is founded on discriminating preference, not the cold impulse of satiated habit; one who could give distinction to beauty, and lead it from obscurity into the splendour it deserves; should such a one sue for the favour of the divine Constantia:"——
"I would answer, if I aim perfidious to Eustace, I cannot be divine."
"But love is a potent and untameable passion, disdaining the narrow limitations of preceptive constancy. The acknowledged privilege of sovereign beauty is to inspire and encourage universal love."
Constance looked offended, and expressed a hope that she might never possess an empire which could only gratify vanity and pain sincerity.
Monthault found he had gone too far, and tried by badinage to divert her resentment. "If," said he, "praise is only timeable to your ear when uttered by one voice, I must not tell you, even if I heard our young Prince, who is an acknowledged worshipper of beauty, speak in raptures of the unparalleled loveliness of Dr. Beaumont's daughter."
"No," said she, sternly, "indeed you must not. My humble station prevents him from saying any thing of my person but, what would be offensive for me to hear; and I wish not to have the loyal attachment I feel for my Sovereign's son diminished, by knowing that he indulges in any improper licence of conversation."
"Nay," replied Monthault, "what he observed was only in reply to one who is your most devoted slave, predicting that the chains you formed never could be broken."
"I perceive," answered she, rising to leave the room, "that if I give you more time for the fabrication you will contrive a very amusing fiction. I must therefore silence you by saying, that, little as I know of court-gallantry, he who talks to me in this style, cannot be the friend of Eustace."
Monthault flew into heroics, and struggled to detain her. "Cruel Constantia," said he, "know you not that love is an involuntary passion which reason vainly tries to subdue? Cannot you, who see the conflict in my soul, pity me without doubting my friendship or my honour?"
"I confess I do doubt both," was her reply; "but provided you no more offend me with such language, I will not mention my suspicions to Eustace. I am, 'tis true, a simple girl, yet not so weak as to value myself on an extrinsic appendage which, if I possess, I share with the butterfly. If beauty renders me more amiable in the eyes of those I love, it is a welcome endowment; but I never will patiently hear it commended at the expence of any better quality."
It is probable that, after this repulse, Monthault would never more have thought of Constance if some other pursuit had intervened. But, in the leisure of suspended warfare, a vacant understanding and depraved appetite sees no resource from ennui but gallantry. He had tried flattery; but it failed to excite vanity, or to lead his intended prey into the toils of ambition. He resolved to pursue another scheme, by which he hoped that beauty might be separated from its plighted love.
While Oxford resounded with preparations for the removal of the Prince and the commencement of the campaign, Monthault affected regret at leaving Eustace. "I wish," said he, "you could accompany me to see actual service; you would then feel a just contempt for military martinets and parade exercise. Goring would, I know, delight in bringing forward a spirit like yours. But it is impossible. The barriers which detain you are insuperable. I myself know too well the power of beauty; yet, if you knew all that was said, even for Constantia's sake you might resolve, for a few months, to tear yourself from her arms."
"I cannot understand you," answered Eustace. "True, I am contracted to Constantia; but it is not she who detains me at Oxford. We are not to be married till we are both at full age; nor even then unless the times wear a happier aspect."
"Her character!" retorted Eustace; "can that need any other vindicator than my honour? or rather, does any man impugn it? We have loved from our childhood; but it has been with that innocence which enables us to look forward to years of happiness, unembittered by reproach."
Monthault smiled, said he rejoiced at this expurgation, but added, "Can you wonder Oxford is now the metropolis of slander, since it is full of court-ladies who have now no revels or maskings to amuse them, and never leave reputations in quiet when they are out of humour. But, to put a stop to defamation, let me advise a military excursion."
Eustace explained, that it was the will of an absent father, and not amorous dalliance, which kept him from the field. It was doubtful whether that father lived; for he was engaged in most severe service. "Meantime," added he, "my uncle is bound by a promise to keep me from dangerous enterprises; but as I now begin to think it is disloyal for any one on the verge of manhood to refuse rallying round the King at his greatest need, I trust the prohibition will soon be removed. The last time that I urged Dr. Beaumont on the subject, he answered, that it was not courage, but bravado, to buckle on the sword, while the discussion of a pending treaty afforded a prospect of its being speedily ungirded. But as the Parliamentary commissioners are returned to London, I am determined again to ask leave to join the army."
"And if refused," said Monthault, "would you stay at Oxford, like a tame lion in a chain, caressed by old women, and wondered at by spectacled fellows of colleges." Eustace paused. "I see, my brave fellow," resumed the tempter, "you are determined to be one of us. I know your heart, and can predict that the consciousness of positive disobedience will make you miserable. Go, then, in the hope that your uncle would not have restrained you. Are you not old enough to judge for yourself? They have permitted you to chuse a wife; why not also choose your profession?"
"You have determined me," said Eustace, "I will only bid adieu to Constantia."
"A most lover-like determination!" was Monthault's reply, "and made with a right prudent command of the impulses of valour. I anticipate the result. In another hour you will return; press me to your heart; look a little ashamed; wish me good success; and then sigh out, 'I cannot bear to leave her.'"
"No," said Eustace; "to prove that I am not a woman's slave, I will only look the adieu, which may be our last, without telling her my purpose. Had you a treasure, Monthault, which you valued more than life, would you not bathe it with a parting tear as you placed it in a casket, while about to enter on a dangerous undertaking, where your first step may be to meet death?"
Monthault answered, that soldiers never thought of dying. They separated; Eustace, to bid a mental farewel to his kindred, home, and love; and Monthault, to prepare the Prince and Lord Goring to welcome a pleasant addition to their party in a spirited youth, who had resolved to escape from the restrictions of austere friends, and to try the agreeable freedom of a military life. In this view these defenders of the Crown and the Church of England looked on the last resources which a falling King committed to their care.
 This paragraph is copied from Fenelon.
 Walton's Lives.
O! holy men! Ye are the sons of piety and peace; Ye never felt the sharp vindictive spur That goads the injured warrior; the hot tide That flushes crimson on the conscious cheek Of him who burns for glory; else indeed Ye much would pity me.
Eustace kept his promise, and rejoined Monthault, at the time and place appointed, equipped for service. His friend commended his heroism. "And did you," said he, "obtain Constantia's permission?" "No," answered Eustace; "I felt unequal to such a trial. I only pressed her hand with greater tenderness, and more earnestly implored Heaven to take her into his especial care."
"You will both thank me for projecting this separation," replied the Major. "Seeing the world with your own eyes will improve you, brush off that home-bred air which makes you bashful, and enlarge your ideas and powers of conversation. I promise ourselves a spirited, agreeable campaign. Hopton's office in the council will confine him about the person of the Prince, who must be kept at some distance from the scene of action; and Goring is no rigid disciplinarian. The enemy is not in force in the west; Cromwell and Fairfax are both to play at King-hunting; so we shall have time to divert ourselves and do our duty too."
From Bristol, Eustace wrote to his uncle and Constantia, excusing his absence by the uncontrollable avidity he felt to engage in the cause of his injured Prince, to whose commands he promised a strict obedience, and vowed to be sedulously attentive to all his new duties. To Constantia he added that he hoped to return worthier of her, and to feel in future the glorious consciousness of having contributed to restore his virtuous persecuted Sovereign, and give peace to his afflicted country. There was so much loyalty, honour, love, and gratitude in these letters, that they must have softened the Doctor's displeasure at his elopement, had they come to hand; but they were confided to the care of Monthault, and, either through forgetfulness or treachery, were never forwarded. It was therefore only from the vague testimony of an accidental passenger that the family knew Eustace had taken the road to Bristol; and, from his being in company with Major Monthault, they guessed his destination.
Constantia had now the twofold anguish of fearing for the safety and apologizing for the faults of her beloved. The latter task was by far the most painful. She could only urge that he had a bad adviser, and that it was his first offence. Every day she flattered herself that she should receive a letter, deprecating her father's anger, and assuaging her own fears. The summer passed away, and they heard nothing from Eustace. Had he forgot her, as well as the ties of duty and gratitude? It was impossible! letters might be lost, but her plighted Eustace must be good and faithful.
I have before remarked that Lord Hopton was the officer under whom Dr. Beaumont would have wished his nephew to learn "the noble game of war;" but there were circumstances in his present appointment which made it differ widely from that of the preceding year, when, with his compatriot, Sir Bevil Greenvil, he drew a cordon across the western peninsula, and preserved, in that happy spot, the laws, the virtues, and the honour of England. He was now, indeed, to be the ruling head; but his former associates in arms lay cold in earth, and the persons to whom the execution of his plans was to be intrusted, were the avowed votaries of Bacchus and Comus. It was with gay voluptuaries, freethinkers, and revellers, that Eustace must converse; at a distance from those whose wisdom might govern his impetuosity, and whose steady principles would correct his backslidings. Contemplating the dangerous situation of a generous, but indiscreet stripling, Dr. Beaumont now wished him in the army which the King was leading northward, to collect the remains of Lord Newcastle's forces, as that route might have afforded him a chance of joining his father in Carlisle, which held out with unexampled firmness, enduring the most incredible privations, and repelling the most vigorous assaults. The event of the fatal battle of Naseby, which palsied all the King's efforts to preserve the constitution, and ended all the hopes of his friends, would have made Dr. Beaumont rejoice that Eustace did not swell the list of noble and illustrious persons left on that bloody field, had not his sorrow for a "King and kingdom lost" been too acute and overwhelming to receive any diminution from private considerations. The infantry, cannon, ammunition, baggage, and all the resources of the King, were there wrested from his grasp by victorious rebels; and England virtually exchanged the government of the religious, conscientious descendant of her ancient Princes, for that of a low-born, cruel hypocrite, who ruled her with a rod of iron. The King indeed escaped from the battle with a small body of horse; but it was only to fly from place to place before his unwearied enemies, pursued into every corner of his kingdom, without knowing where to rest his head, allowed no pause, even to ruminate on his misfortunes, till at last, trusting that his own countrymen would not betray the Prince who flew, like a bird hunted by the hawk, to their bosoms, he appealed to the pretended loyalty of the Scotch Covenanters; and they sold him to those who thirsted for his blood.
Yet neither the desperate state of the kingdom, nor the ruin of their own fortunes, long since embarked in the same vessel with his rights, could compose the feuds of the western generals, or induce them to attend to the directions of the Prince's council, or to the discipline and behaviour of their troops. The latter, from their intolerable insolence and rapine, became formidable only to their friends; and the approach of Fairfax was hailed, even in the best-disposed districts, as a signal of deliverance from the galling yoke of military extortion. Goring, the soldier's darling, who combined all the alluring qualities of a demi-god, was found to want the distinguishing marks of a Christian hero. Possessed neither of self-command, obedience, nor fortitude, he was ever ready to dash at splendid actions, but was without resources in the day of peril. He was too vain of his wit and companionable talents to submit to the command of others, and too supine, dissipated, and rash, either to improve opportunities of action, or to defeat the views of the enemy. Such was the leader under whom Eustace hoped to serve his king, and learn the art of war. His friend, Monthault, was a transcript of all Lord Goring's faults, to which he added the most cool and determined treachery, under the garb of blunt simplicity and unguarded frankness.
It had been previously settled by the two friends, that their common wants should be supplied from the purse of Major Monthault, in case the Royal exchequer was inadequate to the supply of the army. That purse was either soon exhausted, or closed by the sinister designs of the owner. "It is his own fault if a soldier wants," was his answer to the urgent requests of Eustace for a small supply. "We are now," returned the other, "quartered among friends, to whom we ought to be not only punctual but liberal, lest we indispose them to the service. You see the Royal funds are scarcely adequate to the maintenance of the Prince. You are aware that I must depend on you, as the circumstances under which I left Oxford prevent my asking my uncle to assist me." "Certainly you must not," answered Monthault; "and I say again, a word will always carve a dinner. This, I own, is called a well-affected district; but there are many corrupted parts in it. Your host, for instance—a vile republican, a Presbyterian round-head—I saw him pelt the bishops when they appeared at the bar of the Lords, and join in a clamorous petition to behead Lord Strafford. Give him a hint of this, and make him bleed. Tell him we will inform Sir Richard Greenvil of his behaviour; and talk of Launceston gaol."