Barton parted with the Beaumonts with deep regret. He had stretched his interest to the utmost to procure permission for the Doctor to reside at Ribblesdale, and to recover a fifth of the sequestered living for his support. He did not, however, like many friends, rest satisfied with exerting his interest. His purse was also open to their wants, and his first instance of kindness was furnishing them with a supply for their long journey. His next was giving to Dr. Beaumont a sealed bond, with an injunction not to open it till the next quarter-day. In it he covenanted to pay him regularly half the profits of his canonry as long as he enjoyed it, and to diminish a sense of obligation, he required the Doctor to return him another bond, subjecting himself to a similar division, in case a change of times should cause another revolution of incumbents. The delicacy of this proceeding, at a time so peculiarly unfavourable to the hopes of Loyalists, tended much to assist the Doctor's endeavours of making his family charitably disposed, and even Mrs. Mellicent went so far as to lament that Barton was not a churchman.
 Such was the case of Dr. Morley, Bishop of Winchester, who was accidentally met and relieved by Sir Christopher Yelverton, and for many years sheltered in his mansion.
 This was true of the family of Wren, Bishop of Hereford, besides many others. He was imprisoned eighteen years, refusing to accept any favour from the Usurper. He lived to the Restoration.
 This description is taken from the Spectator, No. 424. Mr. Pennant says it is believed to delineate Dr. Goodwin, President of Magdalen college, during the great rebellion.
 This was done by Mr. Baxter at the Savoy Conference.
 See the Assembly's Shorter Catechism on God's decrees, the redemption of the elect, &c.
 This notion was held, and a curious book written on it by the successor of Dr. Jeremy Taylor in the see of Dromore.
 In particular, see Luke, chap. vi. ver. 29, 30.
The Commonwealth is sick of its own choice.
The aspect of Ribblesdale and the adjoining country, was completely changed, during the five years absence of the Beaumont family. The fields and villages, notwithstanding the two last years of comparative repose, bore mournful marks of the ravages of civil war; trade was still stopped and agriculture suspended. The people, disappointed in their hopes of freedom and prosperity by their new masters, longed for the restoration of their King, whose saint-like demeanour, during his long captivity, contradicted the calumnies which his enemies had propagated, and shewed him in his true light, alike conspicuous for his ability, his fortitude, and his misfortunes. The reign of freedom had ended in military despotism; equality had created a tyrant; zeal had introduced fanaticism and hypocrisy, and discontent was every where so ripe, that the presence of a victorious army, and the vigilance of almost as numerous a host of spies and informers, could not prevent attempts being made (in almost every part of the kingdom) to liberate the King, and restore the old order of things. But where to find funds and leaders, was the chief difficulty. The heads of most noble families, distinguished for loyalty, were either slain, or exiled; their estates confiscated or wasted by the pressure of enormous fines, their residences burnt or pillaged, and their farms laid waste. The few who remained in England, watched and betrayed by their own servants, knew not how to act, or whom to trust, for every tie of obligation, as well as all sense of subordination and respect for superiors, were entirely annihilated.
In passing Lathom-house, Dr. Beaumont pondered on that celebrated scene of determined female heroism. Though the noble pile bore many marks of the arduous conflict it had sustained, its walls (like the family to which it belonged) still displayed the unyielding superiority of aristocratic loyalty. But Waverly Hall was a complete ruin. A few of the meaner offices, and a part of the walls, marked where the residence stood, which once sheltered crafty selfishness. The park afforded a temporary asylum to a gang of gipseys, whose cattle grazed unmolested on the unclaimed demesne, once guarded even from the intrusion of admiring curiosity, by the secluding jealousy of a cold-hearted worldling, whose pride counteracted his ostentation, and whose timidity was even greater than his self-love.
Dr. Beaumont was himself the herald of his own return. His humble equipage attracted no attention. His first care being to lodge his family, he sought the house of Dame Humphreys. The streets of the village were silent and deserted. Neither the loom, the flail, nor the anvil were heard; not a child was to be seen at play; every thing looked as if this was a portion of that city where progressive action is suspended, and the sun hangs level over the ocean without power of sinking. Dr. Beaumont, however, found Dame Humphreys actively employed; and a superabundance of good cheer shewed that she was intent on purposes of hospitality. She welcomed the exiled Rector and his family with cordial transport; and assured him, though she had heard as many fine men since he left them as there were stars in the sky, she had never sat under any one by whom she had been so much edified.
The Beaumonts had many questions to ask, and no one was better endowed with the quality of free communication than this kind-hearted dame. She accounted for the silence of the village and her own extraordinary bustle, by stating that it was exercise-day; a meeting of ministers had been at the godly work for eight hours; and she doubted not, after so long buffeting Satan, they would come away main hungry. "My poor Gaffer," said she, "always brings all he can to our house. They tell him a blessing comes upon all those who furnish a chamber for wayfaring prophets, and set on pottage for them; but for my part I see it not, and begin to wonder whether these are prophets or no. As for our Gaffer, he has left off drinking and quarrelling, to be sure, which Your Reverence had used to rate him for at times; but then he did look after the farm and the cattle, and saw things went right. But now he says, let the morrow take care for itself; so we have nothing but preaching, and praying, and pecking at other people, and telling of experiences and stumbling-blocks, and abusing those who don't hold all that we do; and all this while the ricks grow less and less every year. And then when any thing goes wrong in the house, they pop it into a sermon, not as Your Reverence did when you preached about the ten commandments, but a preachment of an hour about such frivolous things as set husbands a-scolding their wives for spoiling their dinner, or not mending their clothes; and our poor Gaffer is grown so cast down ever since Priggins told him he thought he was a reprobate, that he says it is a crying sin to look happy; so he keeps praying on till we have no time to practise."
Isabel inquired how the children were able to command attention to such long services; and Dame Humphreys owned the change in this respect was wonderful. "To be sure," said she, "they do sometimes fall sick; but there is a vast number of thriving little saints growing up among us, who can find out a legal preacher in a moment, and tell you if he is a fine man before he is out of breath the first time. There's my grand-daughter (Nancy we used to call her, but they have since given her some hard name I never can recollect), she is only nine years old, and is such a gifted creature that she has chosen her religion, and says she will be a Brownist, for there is no other way to be saved. But her sister Hephzebah has not had her call yet, and says till she has she is to give no account for what she does, and afterwards sin will not lie at her door. Your Reverence shakes your head; but you will now find a vast deal of learning in the parish, and hard words, and every body able to talk with you; but I say again, that what with spending their time in idleness, and slandering each other, and sighing and groaning they don't know for what, and making feasts for ministers, and night meetings, and praying against the King, and cursing the bishops, and pulling down the church—give me the old times again, and the old way of going to Heaven."
Dr. Beaumont sighed at this strongly coloured, but artless picture of fanatical licence, and changed the subject by inquiring the fate of the Waverly family. Their history was indeed tragical. "Poor Sir William," Dame Humphreys said, "had turned, and trimmed, and cut in, and cut out, till nobody knew whether he was of any side at all, till, just as Prince Rupert raised the siege of Lathom House, when, thinking the King was sure to conquer, mid wanting to be made a Lord, he joined the Prince with a small troop of horse, intending (his neighbours thought) to gallop away before the battle began, for Sir William hated the sight of blood. But so it was; his time was come, and then there is no escaping, for Sir William was shot in his own quarters in a night-skirmish—and who did they think by?" Here she turned pale with horror, and the natural simplicity of her language seemed elevated by the emotions arising from the dreadful tale she had to relate.—"By his own son. O! Your Honour, it is too true. A kinsman of mine saw the deed done, and the ground has looked blasted ever since. But young Sir Harry, as now ought to be, little thought it was his father when he called him a drunken old cavalier; for the poor old gentleman trembled so, he could not cry for quarter till his son had given him his death's wound; and he saw by the flash of the pistol who it was, and called to mind how he had made him serve in the Parliament army against his will. So he just groaned out, "God is just, Harry," and died. It was the most piteous sight; for the poor youth fell on the dead body, and groaned, and tore his hair, and beat himself in such a manner, till his soldiers bore him away; and what has become of him since that day no soul knows, for he has never come to claim the estate, nor to look after any thing; so Parliament seized it all, because Sir William died at last a Loyalist. But nobody will buy it, for they cannot make a title, as Sir Harry has not forfeited, and may be alive. Beside, people said the house was haunted, so it has never been tenanted; and whoever wants to build, fetches it away piece-meal; and the gypsies camp in the Park when they come from the neighbouring fairs, and all goes to ruin like the time-serving family who lived there."
The awful reflections on retributive justice which the fate of this unprincipled man excited, were interrupted by the return of Humphreys, who ushered in some of his divines. The change which his wife described was visible in his horror-stricken countenance. He had been formerly a man of a sordid worldly disposition and hard unyielding temper, on whom the mild Christian persuasions of Dr. Beaumont had occasionally made good impressions, though these were as often blunted by the power of long indulged habits. But when such a man was roused from his stupor by the cauteries of Calvinism, despair was more likely to take possession of his mind than the pious energy and humble hopes which follow true repentance. Priggins indeed boasted of Humphreys as a convert, on the ground of his being restrained from the public commission of some faults in which he had formerly indulged; but if one evil spirit had been dispossessed, seven more wicked had taken up their abode in his heart. He was terrified, not awakened; plunged in an abyss of desperation and misanthropy, not excited to a life acceptable to God or useful to man. The sight of Dr. Beaumont recalled to his mind many acts of fraud and injustice which he had formerly committed against him; but the long exercises, as they were called, to which he had been listening, had not illustrated the universal promise of mercy to penitent sinners; they held out no encouragement to co-operate with the divine call to newness of life which the gospel gives to all mankind; they gave no explanation of reformation and restitution as necessary parts of repentance. Much to their own ease, and with daring disregard of all the plain and practical parts of Scripture, the preachers successively employed themselves in expounding what they called dark texts, on which they built their favourite system; impious in theory and destructive in practice. They spoke of election and reprobation as positive, irreversible decrees of God, no ways resulting from the conduct of man, whom they stated to be a mere inefficient vessel filled with grace and destined to glory, or heaped full of pollution and devoted to eternal destruction, according to the arbitrary will of the Framer, without any liberty of choice in himself, or any power of expediting his own faith or final justification. They spoke of the saving call as discernibly supernatural, preceded by bodily as well as mental torture, and instantaneously followed by a perceptible assurance that they could never more sin, that the righteousness of their Redeemer was imputed to them, and that, as his merits were all-sufficient, nothing was required of them but the supineness of passive faith. This routine of doctrines, varied according to the different tempers and phraseology of the preachers, and rendered yet more obscure by bold metaphors and strained allusions, was what poor Humphreys incessantly listened to, fancying he was thus taking care of his soul, and vainly hoping he would gather some instructions which would assuage his secret horrors. He was miserable when not employed in this manner; yet, as no start of enthusiasm ever told him that the saving call had taken place even in the congregations which he mistook for the courts of the Lord, he rather hoped for, than found relief from his tortures. Pale and haggard in his looks, morose and sullen in his manners, restless and dissatisfied, he revived the disputations of the conventicle at the table, calling on Dr. Beaumont to tell what he thought of some points of doctrine on which his ministers could not agree. The Doctor attempted to speak, but his voice was soon drowned by the Stentorian lungs and tautological verbiage of his opponent. Only one sentence that he uttered was distinctly heard, which was a quotation from the pious Hammond, that "exemplary virtue must restore the church." A general cry was raised against this sentiment. One repeated a text from St. Paul, supposed to assert the inefficacy of works; another observed, it was presumptuous to dictate to Providence. Some called him a formalist; others a Pharisee; while a third party, yet more metaphysical, denied that men, strictly speaking, had any power to act at all. Priggins at last rose, and, with many plausible pretences of charity, proposed that they should all pray for their offending brother, which was done in the anathematizing style which, in those days, was called intercession: "Lord, open the eyes of this reprobate sinner. Pluck him as a burning brand out of the furnace of thy wrath. Make him see that he is a vessel filled with spiritual pride, hypocrisy, and barren legality. Punish him for the saving of his soul till he repents of his ungodly enmity to us thy chosen favourites, whom thou hast raised to the work of conversion, and penned in thy fold to eternal life," &c.
Dr. Beaumont and his family withdrew, in compassionate silence, from this profane perversion of devotion, which discovered the same spirit of intolerance and persecution that characterized the darkest periods of Popery. A project had been formed by Isabel, to which the rest of the family readily assented. This was to take up their abode for the present in the untenanted ruins of Waverly-hall, and endeavour to prevent its further dilapidation. With the assistance of Williams, she re-inclosed the garden, and put a few of the outer tenements into that state of comfort which cleanliness supplies. Dame Humphreys conscientiously restored all the moveables she held in trust to furnish their apartments; and, as Dr. Beaumont brought with him a protection from the government, neither Morgan nor Priggins could prevent him from residing in the parish as long as he conducted himself in an inoffensive manner. As to Davis, since his induction into the Rectory, he had gradually carnalized (to use one of his own favourite expressions); and, being grown sleek and contented, he preferred reposing in his arm-chair to storming in the pulpit, congratulating himself with having reformed the church, which he effected by removing every ornament as superstitious, stripping public worship of every decency, publicly burning the Common Prayer books, and denying the sacraments to all who were not Covenanters. Having done all this, he thought it time to rest from his labours, and devoted his days to those gross indulgences of appetite which are not unfrequently the solaces of men who consider the enjoyments of mental taste as criminal, permitting his neglected flock to be collected by Priggins, or any other hungry itinerant who was training himself as a theological tyro, previous to his being settled in an incumbency.
Among these tents of Kedar, Dr. Beaumont fixed his habitation with a soul thirsting for peace, and a mind disposed to subdue his opponents by those invincible weapons, a meek and quiet spirit, and a holy, inoffensive, and useful life. His narrow finances, derived chiefly from a precarious fund, allowed not the practice of that liberality which is the surest means of attracting a crowd of panegyrists; and his scanty means were still further taxed by what he esteemed the duty of sending assistance to many gallant royalists at this time in arms for the imprisoned King; in particular to those, who, with the brave, repentant Morrice, surprised Pontefract Castle, and made from thence those courageous sallies and predatory incursions which gave employment to the Parliamentary troops in that quarter, and prevented them from uniting to overwhelm the succours which Sir Marmaduke Langdale was conducting to join Duke Hamilton and the Scotch Loyalists. But, however limited its means, a good heart will ever discover some way of shewing its benevolence. Charity was now a scanty rill, not an ample stream; but its source was fed by a regular supply, and where it ran it fertilized. Constantia roused her mind from the apathy of grief to obey and support her father. She found she could instruct the ignorant; and though no longer able to furnish materials for clothing the naked, she could cut out garments and sew them for those who were too ill-informed to be expert in female housewifery. Isabel and she gathered herbs; Mrs. Mellicent superintended their distillation, and again consulted "The Family Physician," in forming ointments and compounding cordials; Dr. Beaumont went from house to house, trying to conciliate his parishioners, and to recall their wanderings, in nothing changed but the paleness of his countenance and the homeliness of his attire, still reproving with mild authority, and instructing with affectionate solicitude; while his appearance spoke a heart yearning over the sorrows and sins of the kingdom, and habits necessarily restricted to that bare sufficiency which just supports life. The manners of the young ladies were equally mild, uncomplaining, and respectable; the only difference was, that Constantia was pensive and dejected, Isabel active and cheerful in adversity. The former seemed to move in a joyless routine of duty; but Isabel was so animated that only the most minute observer could tell that she was not perfectly happy, and hence she gained the character of having an unfeeling heart.
The affectionate respect which the villagers had long felt for their old pastor soon began to revive. Man naturally looks on the unfortunate with pity. The Beaumonts no longer excited envy, which (such is our proneness to offend) is often the substitute for gratitude. Dr. Beaumont was now their superior only in goodness and wisdom; a superiority more easily endured than that created by affluence or a larger share of temporal indulgencies. Many too began to be weary of the tautology and confusion of their arbitrary services, which, depending upon the humour, or (as they proudly called it) the inspiration of their minister, often wearied instead of gratifying the curiosity of the hearers. They recollected the Liturgy of the Church of England with somewhat of the feeling we entertain for a dead friend, remembering all his excellences, forgetting his imperfections, and lamenting that in his lifetime we were often inclined captiously to condemn his whole conduct. By returning to that church from which they had been led, by what they now saw was the spirit of delusion, they exercised the freedom of choice which was so dear to their proud feelings; and it soon became the request of many of the parishioners, that Dr. Beaumont would read to them the church service, and expound the Scripture in the manner prescribed by her articles. To read the Liturgy was now become a statutable offence; but Dr. Beaumont adopted, as an expedient, what was then resorted to by many divines well versed in difficult cases of conscience—changing the expressions, but preserving a meaning as closely allied to the old worship as the times would admit. Yet even this transposed and disguised form was too opposite to the doctrines, and, (may it not be said?) too superior to the productions of the new teachers to be permitted with impunity. Hence Dr. Beaumont found it necessary, for his own safety, to collect his little flock on a Sunday evening, in an unfrequented valley surrounded by hills, on one of which a centinel was placed to prevent their being surprised in this interdicted worship; and thus this church, literally exiled and driven into the wilderness, performed the Christian sacrifice of prayer and praise.
The storm of war, however, soon interrupted their devotion; and, rolling fearfully from the North, came close to the dwelling where the pious pastor endeavoured to drink the waters of affliction in privacy. The Duke of Hamilton had now collected an army, from whose efforts to wipe off the shame of their countrymen the Covenanters, in delivering up the King to his merciless enemies, a glorious result was expected. With this hope they entered England by way of Carlisle; and, preceded by the English forces, led by Sir Marmaduke Langdale, they marched into Lancashire full of zeal and confidence, but negligent of that discipline, and inattentive to those military expedients by which alone (considering the enemy with whom they had to contend) the least shadow of success could be acquired. In vigilance, activity, and prompt decision, Cromwell was the very prototype of that man who has changed the aspect of the present times. Various armies were collected with almost magical celerity, and provided with every necessary for their own comfort and the annoyance of the foe; and scarcely had the Loyalists in the west, north, and east brought their raw recruits into the field, before a well-appointed body of veterans was arrayed against them, ready to cut off their resources, and give them battle. Cromwell himself took the command of the northern division; and without delaying his grand design, by stopping to subdue Pontefract Castle, as his more timid counsellors advised, he marched immediately to attack the Scotch army, though with inferior numbers, and put them to the rout, after having first defeated their English allies. Both the generals were taken prisoners. Sir Marmaduke afterwards escaped; but the Duke suffered on the scaffold shortly after the Royal Martyr whom, with late repentance, he vainly attempted to save.
The scene of this contest was so near Ribblesdale that the engagement was plainly seen from the hills I have just spoken of, where Dr. Beaumont and his family, with the fervent piety, though not with the success of Moses, held up their hands in prayer to the God of battle. The result disappointed their ardent hopes; and the more grateful duty of thanksgiving was thus changed to humble resignation. The fugitive Loyalists and their vindictive pursuers scoured along the valleys. The present situation of the Beaumonts was highly unsafe; and they eagerly hurried along to regain the melancholy shelter of their ruinous abode.
The shades of evening fell as they entered Waverly Park, agonized with sorrow and commiseration of the calamities they had beheld. A squadron of cavalry rode rapidly by them, which they guessed were part of the King's northern horse, so celebrated in the early periods of the civil war. Isabel's anxiety to see if they were closely pursued conquered her female terrors. She ran from her friends and climbed a little eminence, by which means she discovered a sight which roused the liveliest feelings of compassion. She saw an officer falling from his horse, dead, as she believed. Perceiving that he bled profusely, she called to her uncle to go back with her and try if they could render him any assistance. On such an occasion even Constance was courageous, and they all hastened to the spot where he lay. Mrs. Mellicent remarked, that though he had lost the distinguishing insignia, she feared, by his being so well accoutered, he was a rebel. His helmet was fallen off, his countenance entirely disfigured with blood, and the hand which grasped his broad-sword seemed stiffened instead of being relaxed by death. "It matters not what he is," replied Dr. Beaumont, "his present state requires immediate assistance." Constantia seized one of his hands to see if life still fluttered in the pulse, but dropped it in an agony, exclaiming, "Merciful Heaven, it is Eustace! I know him by the ring he always wore." Dr. Beaumont immediately recognized the well-known crest of the Earls of Bellingham. "Dear unfortunate youth," said he; "yet, my child, be comforted; he has died in a most righteous cause." By this time Isabel, who had ran to fetch some water, returned, and began to wash his face, and staunch the blood, while the distracted Constance clung, screaming, to the bosom of her aunt, wildly lamenting the fate of her beloved. With more self-command, but equal anxiety, Isabel removed the clotted gore, and pulled the matted hair from off his brow. "These," said she, "are not my brother's features, but indeed I know them well. Our noble protector, the good Barton's pupil—" She paused a moment, and gasped for her own breath, while eagerly watching if he respired. A deep sob gave indication of life. "He is alive," continued she, in a low whisper, as if fearing to precipitate a spirit that was fluttering between time and eternity; "let us gently raise, and try to restore him."
There was not one of the party who did not anxiously join in expressing, by their active services, the sense they entertained of former kindness. Williams hastened to bring a wain and mattress; Mrs. Mellicent ran for bandages and styptics; and the wounded gentleman was safely conveyed to the house, still in a state of insensibility. Mrs. Mellicent's skill had stopped the hemorrhage; and a more scientific surgeon, who was called in, pronounced that, with proper care, his wounds would not prove mortal. Isabel claimed the office of chief nurse; the patient's senses gradually returned; and his eyes, when again capable of distinguishing objects, recognized one which had long been impressed on his heart. He rewarded her benevolent ministration with a grateful smile and feeble pressure of her hand; and Isabel felt happier at that moment than she had ever done since her dear mother was interred among Fourness Fells, when, with a voice convulsed with grief, she joined in the requiem, filled her coffin with funeral herbs, and scattered the emblems of sorrow on her grave.
"You must not speak," said Isabel; "the Doctor has prescribed the utmost quietness; you must only listen while I tell you, that for a thousand worlds I would not have lost the pleasure of saving your life. Had I not turned back you would have bled to death in a few minutes. Alas!" continued she, recollecting herself, "the hope of your recovery transports me too far. I forget that your exertions probably contributed to make the battle of Preston end so fatally to our cause? Why are you the enemy of my King and of my father?"
"I will never be the enemy of those you love," replied he, with a look of languishing pain and grateful anxiety. Isabel burst into tears. "Say that again," said she; "just those words and no more, lest your wounds should bled afresh; and if you die—"
"Sweet Isabel, finish that sentence."
"I shall surely die of grief," said she, rushing out of the room to call her aunt to take her office, ashamed that her joy at her patient's recovery of his senses had overpowered her habitual self-command.
The news of Dr. Beaumont's having preserved the life of a wounded officer, soon reached the ears of Morgan, who concluding it must be one of his own party, imagined he should now have ample opportunity to wreak his vengeance on a man whom he had marked for destruction, in revenge for the insult he had received from Eustace, and the disappointment of his hopes of obtaining Constantia. It was, however, necessary to ascertain the fact of his harbouring a Royalist taken in arms, before he proceeded to frame the information. Not satisfied with the Doctor's solemn assurance that the person whose life he had preserved was in reality a Parliamentary officer, he insisted on examining him himself; and also that he might interrogate him without the intrusion of any witness. The danger which the sufferer's health might undergo, was beneath his notice; he entered the room with an air of domineering cruelty, ready to pounce on a victim unable to escape; but, after a short interview, he returned with the softened accents of obsequious respect to the stranger, and affable condescension to the Beaumonts. He desired that they would spare no trouble and expence in attending the gentleman, and assured them they would be well rewarded for their pains. He lamented that their poor abode did not afford suitable convenience, and hinted that as soon as the stranger was able to be removed he would have him conveyed to Saints' Rest, his own mansion. He then announced that their guest was the Lord Sedley, only son of the Earl of Bellingham, who at that time commanded the forces sent to subdue the Welsh insurgents, and was himself a personal favourite of Cromwell, and attached to his staff. "He gives," continued Morgan, "a very favourable account of your principles and conduct, and I shall not fail to announce your proper behaviour to their honours the Committee-men, and I hope Government will be disposed to overlook your past offences. The Earl is a staunch supporter of the good cause, and the young gentleman a youth of very fair promise."
If Morgan expected his intelligence would be received with the transport of minds subdued by adversity, and suddenly elated by a prospect of better times, he mistook the characters of those he addressed. The circumstance of Sedley wearing a seal-ring impressed with the crest of Bellingham, had led Dr. Beaumont to suspect who he was; but since in his former intercourse with the family he had studiously avoided all discovery, the worthy Rector thought it would be indecorous to take any advantage of his misfortunes, and therefore evaded the inquiries of Constantia, how he came to wear the same crest as Eustace, by remarking that many families adopted armorial bearings nearly similar. Totally free from all the malignant passions, he felt no animosity to the son of that traitor who had wrested a coronet and princely demesne from the injured Neville, but rejoiced at the consideration that it had been in his power to render the most important services gratuitously to one who had so essentially assisted his family, and was beside the darling pupil of his respected friend Barton. Mrs. Mellicent's feelings were of a more vindictive cast, but her asperity had been so softened by the fine person and pleasing manners of young Sedley, that she could not determine on the expediency of immediately turning him out of doors, as she possibly might have done had he been uncouth and vulgar; she even kept her resolution till sight of his necessity and helplessness had assisted her benevolence to vanquish the warmth of temper, and taught her to respect the claims of a fellow creature in distress. Isabel had by this time discovered the state of her own heart; and the superior rank of the object of her affections was not the only reason for changing love into despair. Her dear father had often in his former ravings mentioned Lord Bellingham as the ally of Lucifer, and likely to succeed him on the infernal throne. At those times it must indeed be remembered, that he mistook his own children for dancing fiends, but his aversion to Bellingham was rooted, and at every eclipse of reason he renewed his execrations on a person, whose name, in his tranquil moments, never passed his lips. She loved the son of this man; this villain; for so she must think him, as her father, even in his most eccentric moments, never so confounded the distinctions of honour and guilt as to misrepresent characters. Nor could his rooted aversion proceed from the difference in their political principles, for it was in her early years, before the troubles commenced, that he mentioned Bellingham as the infernal spirit who had driven him to the mountains; and in every allusion he confirmed the idea of a private rather than a public quarrel. Time and absence had increased rather than weakened the affection and reverence which Isabel bore to her father. His eminent services to the King, his bravery and activity, unimpaired by wounds, imprisonment, or declining years, made her prouder of such a parent than she would have been of one seated on the right hand of power. And had she cherished and avowed an affection for the son of a cruel enemy to her honoured father!—What a want of filial piety, what a shameful inattention to his wrongs would it be, knowingly to confirm such an unnatural inclination! Whatever pain it cost her, she determined to release her heart from the fetters which gratitude and pity had combined to form.
The resolution was extremely noble, but to execute it was superlatively difficult. Lord Sedley was daily before her eyes in the interesting characters of suffering magnanimity or ardent attachment. When his unclosed wounds throbbed with extreme anguish, could she refuse to minister to his relief? When returning ease allowed him to direct the grateful acknowledgments of a devoted heart, to the protecting angel who had rescued him from death, could she deny the confessed affection surprise had drawn from her, and resolve to hate or even forget him on account of a supposed hereditary feud? The struggle of her soul was apparent to Sedley, who, ignorant of his father's crimes, attributed her affected reserve to the alarm she felt lest the claims of his exalted station should prove incompatible with love. To alleviate this fear he was more explicit in his declarations, and energetic in his vows of devoting to her the life she had preserved. She attempted to look cold and determined, while she answered that she feared insuperable objections would prevent their union. In the weak state to which Lord Sedley was reduced, the least agitation of mind was dangerous; after one of these conversations he fainted, and was thought expiring, but the first object he saw on his recovery was Isabel, in such an agony of grief as convinced him that indifference had no share in the alteration of her behaviour.
The first opportunity which she again afforded him of speaking to her, he resolved to use to bring on a complete eclaircissement, and as he should require perfect frankness, he resolved to set her a similar example. But to execute his design was now very difficult; for Isabel, with virgin modesty, blended with the restrictions imposed by filial duty, now avoided being alone with the object of her tenderest regard. Her uncle had deemed it right to inform her, that it was a lively sense of irreparable injuries, which pointed her father's incoherent ravings at Lord Bellingham. His wrongs, the Doctor observed, were of a nature which only Christian charity could forgive, or Christian fortitude endure; and he warned her against cherishing any sentiment more ardent than pity for Sedley's sufferings, and gratitude for his former services. She promised to endeavour to comply, in a manner which evinced that this advice came too late. She tried to recollect the pains he had formerly taken to avoid her, and the marked precaution of Barton in concealing his name. She wished to think him a scion of a cankered tree, which would transfuse infection wherever it was engrafted. The surgeon had just pronounced him at liberty to remove, and Isabel endeavoured to hope he would avail himself of that permission. "His declarations of love and gratitude may," thought she, "be bribes to induce us to be more careful of his preservation, or he may think himself bound in honour to offer me a partnership in his fortunes, as the preserver of his life. I will owe nothing to his pity or his gratitude. I will recollect, that I am the daughter of a noble Loyalist, irreparably injured by his rebel father, restrain the ebullitions of youthful sensibility and unweighed preference, and if he leaves us, part without a tear."
Nothing could be more foreign to the purposes of Lord Sedley than to quit his adored preserver. He made no use of his release from restraint, but to follow Isabel in her domestic occupations, nor of his returning strength, but to try to lighten her labours. "Am I troublesome to you," he would say, "that you look on me less kindly; if so, I shall regret the restoration of health and ease, and the power of again enjoying the refreshing air and blessed light of heaven. The tenderness which made the chamber of infirmity paradise, is withheld from me, now I have a prospect of living to reward it."
Isabel attempted to reply, but only stammered out, "Lord Sedley!"—"I will be known to you," said he, "by no other name than that by which I will plight my troth, Arthur de Vallance.—What has my Isabel to say to me in that character? I will not allow her to retract the sweet encouragement she gave me when I was the helpless object of her tender care. Her compassion and assiduity looked so much like love, as to cheat me into a belief, that she who said she would die with me would consent to make the life she preserved a blessing."
Surely, thought Isabel, this is not the language of hereditary baseness. She cast a look on her lover which confirmed that opinion. Yet, how could she tell him that his father's crimes formed an insuperable barrier to their union. After much hesitation, she resolved to be as explicit as her own respect for the feelings of filial piety would permit. "I will own," said she, "that what fell from me in a transport of joyful surprise, was not an unmeaning exclamation, but the confession of a strong preference. But now that I have had time for reflection, I must remember that you long struggled against your partiality for me, and even now you seem rather vanquished by a combination of circumstances and a sense of obligation, than led to make me your free unquestioned choice. This indicates that you know of some secret reason, some family animosity, perhaps, which ought to prevent my ever being your wife. I am the daughter of a Loyalist, unfortunate indeed, but brave and noble; I will not reproach you with your father's faults. His prosperity, the trust he exercises under the Usurper, are in my eyes reasons, if not of hating you, at least of resolving not to unite myself to principles so opposite to those I have ever cherished."
Sedley thanked her for allowing him an opportunity of explaining the past. It was most true, that at their first interview he felt the power of her fortitude and generous regard to others, nor did he overlook the complacency with which she received his services. Though at that time hearty in the Parliamentary cause, it was owing to the advice (or he should rather say, the commands) of Barton, under whose guidance he was placed by his father, that he deputed him to execute the plan he had formed for the safe conduct of the Beaumonts through the seat of war, instead of being himself their escort, as he at first intended. The same interference had again prevented him from renewing an acquaintance with them, on the rescue of Constantia. The principles he had imbibed from Barton forbade every deviation from the path of honour; and an alliance with a conspicuous royalist, would either have estranged him from his family or exposed them to ruin. Isabel inquired if the same impediments did not still exist. "A great change has taken place," replied Lord Sedley; "I am now like you, a child of misfortune; but were it not so, 'Love is become the lord of all,' and when he reigns, he reigns unrivalled."
He proceeded to inform her, that the violent feuds of the predominant factions had infected the privacies of domestic life. His mother was warmly attached to Cromwell's party, while his father adhered to that of the Presbyterian republicans; the differences between whom were now grown irreconcileable. He knew that the command intrusted to Lord Bellingham was given him as a snare, and that he was so surrounded by spies, as to be virtually in the power of any common serjeant, who, in the two-fold capacity of Agitator and Preacher, could denounce his general at the drum-head, and under the pretence of his having sacrificed the Lord's cause, and the rights of the army, to an ungodly Parliament, could send him prisoner to London. Lord Sedley confessed, with shame, that his mother, by giving information that his father was in secret not well disposed to Cromwell, had caused him to be placed in a situation where the greatest circumspection could not ensure his safety. The sentiments he had imbibed from Barton led him to prefer the more moderate counsels, and in the conduct of the contending factions he had seen so much to condemn, that he wished to abstain from all interference in public affairs. But his mother misinterpreting his seclusion into a preference of his father's party, invited Cromwell to Castle Bellingham, on his march against the Duke of Hamilton, and requested that he would take her son with him as one of his suite. More like a captive than a volunteer, Lord Sedley was compelled to acquiesce in her proposal; but the intimate view which his situation gave him of Cromwell's character, inspired him with the most revolting disgust. The domestic situation of his parents dispirited him on the one side, while something more than indifference to the cause for which he fought operated on the other, till, hopeless of better times, careless of safety, and desirous rather of losing life than of gaining glory, he rushed into the battle; yet, when the conflict began, he felt roused by a mechanical impulse, and, engaging in a hot pursuit of some of the northern horse, he received those wounds from one of the troopers, which nearly terminated his existence.
"Such, Isabel," continued he, "is the present condition of him, who must again owe his life to your pity. I have no home, but one occupied by a mother, engaged in plots for the destruction of her husband, and determined to render her son the creature of an ambitious hypocrite, rather than serve whom, he would die. I cannot join my father, for that would be to add a second victim to the one, whom Cromwell has resolved to expose to the sharpest ordeal. My hereditary claim to rank and title is now merely the vision of a shadow, for I know it is the secret intention of the fanatics to abolish the Peers as a political body, and estates are now held by permission rather than right, nor are the possessors secure of their inheritance for a single day. Greatness is thus reduced to the bare simplicity of individual desert. In you, Isabel, I see the genuine loveliness of unsophisticated virtue, the qualities of fortitude, discretion, and sincerity, which these arduous times peculiarly require. At present I have had little opportunity to shew you my character, but let me intreat permission to be sheltered under your uncle's roof, till I can arrange some plan for my future conduct, and shew you more of the heart which is irrevocably yours."
The plea of anxious distress revived all the tenderness of Isabel; and he whom, she believed, she could reject as the heir of a coronet, and the favourite of an Usurper, became the object of inviolable attachment when viewed as an outcast, seeking an asylum from the misfortunes brought on him by the crimes of his parents. Considering it to be her duty, she explained his situation to her uncle and aunt, and they agreed that it would be inhuman to deny him the refuge he craved. But still, as he was at present rather a probationary than an assured penitent, and in some points of view an object of suspicion, Dr. Beaumont felt it would be endangering his own security to converse with him freely on political topics. Still more hazardous would it be to admit him to a participation of their family-secrets, and at this time there was one which engrossed their minds, and threw an unusual air of mystery and anxious solicitude into Isabel's behaviour.
 Especially Bishop Sanderson.
To her direct thy looks; there fix thy praise, And gaze with wonder there. The life I gave her Oh! she has used it for the noblest ends! To fill each duty; make her father feel The purest joy, the heart dissolving bliss, To have a grateful child.
The manners of Isabel were peculiarly frank and playful; the consciousness that her life was spent in the discharge of active duty, gave the same energy to her mind, which bodily exertion did to her nervous system. She never acted under the influence of motives which required disguise; the simplicity of her habits, her ignorance of the world, and innocence of intention, gave such an undesigning engaging character to her conversation, that whoever spoke to her, might think themselves addressing one of those pure intelligences, who are incapable of falsehood or disguise. To a mind so modelled, a secret was a dreadful burden, especially when compelled to hide it from one, whom love induced her to treat with peculiar confidence, and who often complained of her reserve, and asked the meaning of those embarrassed looks, that impatience to break from him, and those thousand mysterious contrivances upon petty occasions, which were so new to her character, and might have awakened jealousy in the most unsuspicious heart.
On his being first domesticated in the Beaumont family, Lord Sedley was charmed with that elegance of arrangement, which contrived to make a bare sufficiency of the simplest fare, look like plenty. He had wondered how the little means he knew they possessed, could be so multiplied, even by the most provident frugality, as, like the widow's oil and meal, to supply their own wants, and yet afford a portion to the hungry traveller. Formerly, when he reconsidered at night the behaviour of the family, he used to be able to account for all their actions, and could testify that their time was virtuously and wisely employed, without the least alloy from caprice, indolence, or inconsiderateness. Dr. Beaumont and Constantia went at their appointed hour to visit the villagers; Mrs. Mellicent sorted her simples, compounded her medicines, and examined her patients; Isabel superintended the domestic management.—Williams was caterer, gardener and serving-man; the relics of yesterday's meal were neatly reserved, garnished with "roots, cut in characters," and the sauce spiced, as if it were for Jove. After dinner, literature, wit, or piety, gave a zest to their conversation, and made the lone ruins of Waverly Hall the scene of a regale, often unknown in palaces. But now every proceeding was deranged and perplexed, no one seemed to enquire into the engagements of the others. Isabel was often absent, and often neglected the duties to which she once used to affix importance.—Williams was employed in some business, which all but himself seemed tacitly to admit was of infinite concern. The provisions clandestinely disappeared, and the family seemed to think it necessary to repair the waste, by eating more sparingly. Instead of wishing to sit up to sing, when every body else was sleepy, Isabel was the first to hint the benefit of early hours, yet in the morning her faded cheeks and sunk eyes indicated that the night had been spent in watching. Nay, what more excited his apprehensions, he discovered that besides the evening devotions, to which he had been long admitted, there was a secret service, which left on all their faces the mark of tears.
Love, terror, pity, anxiety, and doubt, alike prompted Lord Sedley to discover the cause of this marked alteration. He determined to watch Isabel, and the next night saw her leave the house, soon after midnight, and enter an avenue of sycamores at some distance. He immediately followed her; a loud barking of dogs changed every other emotion to lively apprehensions for her safety, but he soon saw her run back, and, on observing him coming to meet her, assume an untroubled countenance. "Has this serene night," said she, "made you too a truant with your pillow? I have, of late, been little disposed to sleep, and enjoy a moon-light walk amazingly."—"Do not those dogs annoy you," inquired Sedley, with more of moody displeasure than tenderness; "I should think they would form but a harsh response to your soliloquies." She answered, they did not always discover her, and she ran back when they were troublesome. Sedley asked her if it would not be better to secure herself from danger by the protection of a companion. "If you mean to offer yourself," replied she, "I must say, no. My uncle is constantly dissuading the villagers from attending night-meetings, which, he says, though they may be innocent, yet give occasion for reproach; and we must be careful not to countenance impropriety, by setting an ill example."
"Yet, surely," replied Sedley, "the prudence of these midnight wanderings is not so unquestionable. Were I of a jealous temper, I might imagine some presumptuous rival haunted your avenue, and that I even now detain you from an assignation."
"You will think otherwise," answered she, "when I tell you that I say a prayer when I quit my uncle's house, and a thanksgiving when I return; and you know, if my excursion were indecorous, I durst not so tempt Providence. I ascribe my meeting you to-night to accident, but I will tell you, dearly as I love you, Arthur, if I thought you watched me from suspicion of my conduct, I would never speak to you more."
Sedley was awed by the ingenuous resentment which appeared in her manner. Was it the effrontery of practised perfidy? Impossible! With an air of pious enthusiasm, she raised her eyes to the clear expanse, splendidly illuminated by the full-orbed moon and attendant stars, and clasping her hands in fervour of devotion, besought that Divine Omniscience, who neither slumbered nor slept, that aweful witness of all her actions, so to prosper the most ardent desires of her soul, as she endeavoured to frame them in conformity to his will. "I shall now," said she, "pursue my walk down the avenue. If you suspect me, follow me, witness the innocence of my conduct, and forfeit my love. If you confide in my integrity, return to the house, and never again subject my reputation to the reproach of being seen with you at night in so lonely a scene; but, if you wake at this hour put up a prayer for my preservation."
"The forfeiture of your love, dearest Isabel," said Sedley, "is a penalty I dare not incur; yet remember I have trusted you with all my own secrets."
"I have made an equally frank return," answered she, "I have told you all mine, even that I love you most tenderly, and wish every obstacle could be removed, which threatens to prevent our journeying hand in hand through life; but these walks I must take alone. Here every night I must remain two hours. Ask not if I am a sorceress, consulting an evil spirit, or a papist doing penance for a crime. You distress me, Arthur, by thus lingering and turning back to watch me; I thought your mind superior to jealousy."
"Does not concern for your safety," said he, in an impassioned tone, "justify my unwillingness to leave you; your family are known to be zealous Loyalists. A troop of horse are now stationed at Preston, and always sending out foraging parties."
Isabel paused for a moment, extremely agitated; then turning round, answered, "The holy angels hover round me; I will trust to their protection, and defy Morgan and the republican myrmidons."
If Sedley for a moment suspected any thing improper in Isabel's mysterious behaviour, his doubts now gave place to that perfect confidence which candour and virtuous simplicity ever impart to congenial minds. But in proportion as he revered the holy fortitude, which evidently supported her in these nocturnal adventures, so were his fears roused by a sense of the danger, with which, as she admitted, they were attended. She had pointed out Morgan as an enemy whom she dreaded. Sedley recollected the civilities he had received from him, and blamed himself for having been remiss in endeavouring to conciliate a man, who had power over the fortunes of his best beloved. He considered therefore, that it was a duty he owed to Isabel to call on Morgan, and try to discover if he had laid any hostile schemes against the Beaumonts.
Though Morgan affected to be made of the most stern republican materials, a visit from a nobleman, and an ostensible favourite of Cromwell's, was a high gratification. He received his guest with boisterous hospitality, and without any regard to his diminished strength, dragged him over his demesne, and shewed him all its beauties. It was, he said, a mere dog-hole, when he bought it for a song; his ponds, now well stocked with carp, were originally tan-pits; his garden was a slate-quarry; the phillireas now clipped into well-proportioned dragons, grew just as nature shaped them; and the hall he had neatly plaistered and white-washed was then disfigured with painted saints, and carved tracery. He hinted with a smile, that he had turned the times to a pretty good account, and was grown warm. Royalists were soon alarmed, and bled freely. Besides the per centage, when compounding for their estates, there was generally a little private oiling the hands of committee men. He talked of his stock of wines, liberal table, rich hangings, and the universal plenty of good things which he enjoyed; and strongly urged Lord Sedley, now he was able, to remove from the penurious dwelling which could just serve his turn, while his wounds were healing, and reestablish his health, by residing with his humble servant, Zedekiah Morgan, at Saint's-Rest, till he thought fit to return to his own princely mansion, Castle-Bellingham.
Sedley made a civil reply, intimating that his duty required him to remain where he was, and that as a soldier, he must despise luxuries. "True," answered Morgan; "trained in the school of our noble general, you choose to see with your own eyes, what plots the malignants are hatching. There is not a more suspected family than Beaumont's in this neighbourhood." Sedley encouraged this communicativeness, and Morgan proceeded to say, "that since the last defeat, the chief crime the disaffected could commit, was concealing those who had distinguished themselves in the insurrections."
Six bloody-minded cavaliers had been lately turned loose upon the peaceable inhabitants. Major General Lambert refused them quarters, when he granted terms to Pontefract garrison; but the horrid creatures had fought their way out and escaped, though he gloried in saying, the county was so well disposed, that three of the knaves, (and among them their scoundrel leader, Morrice) had been retaken—"And terrible dogs, I promise you," said Morgan, "they were, as ever you looked upon; hacked and gashed, and so reduced by famine, from hiding in holes and caves, that they could hardly stand. So we hanged them, without judge or jury, and made them safe. But three are still at large, and I can hardly sleep in my bed for fear of them. I will read you a description of their persons, and the names they pretend to go by. Humphrey Higgins, aged seventy, lean, and would be a tall man, only bent double, has but one eye, and lost the use of his right arm: Memorandum, thought to be the man who shot Colonel Rainsborough at Doncaster.—William Dickson, aged twenty-four, has been seen begging on crutches, with one leg contracted; and Timothy Jones, who pretends to be mad and paralytic, a most ferocious terrible malignant; curses the godly covenant, and wishes the Round-heads had but one neck, and he stood over them with a hatchet. Now, my Lord, if these Beaumonts should, out of hatred and malice to our upright rulers, hide any of these murderous miscreants in the vaults, recesses, or secret-chambers of the old ruins, which they may pretend to live in for the very purpose, I trust your Lordship's penetration will unearth the foxes, so that they may be brought to condign punishment, and I heartily wish our noble General had as faithful a spy in every delinquent's family in the three nations."
Sedley suppressed his indignation, and assured Morgan he would not fail to report to government whatever he thought culpable in the conduct of the Beaumonts, who were apparently benevolent and humane; but on Morgan's suggesting that was a mask often assumed by the blackest malignity, he allowed the truth as a general remark, and took his leave, aware that the best means of preventing the persecution of his friends was to conceal his own sentiments.
In the way back he called on Dame Humphreys, whose attention to him, during his illness, corresponded with her usual artless kindness and true benevolence. He found her in the most dreadful distress; her husband's malady was increased to violent frenzy; she assigned as the cause, his incessantly listening to what she called "long preachments about the Devil;" but he gave a different account. He was sure he had seen Sir William Waverly sitting at the outside of a mausoleum he had built in the park, without his head, and an angel standing by him. He knew it was an angel, for it looked white and shining; and the other must be Sir William, because he had in part pulled down the old church, which his fore-fathers had built, to make a grand burying-place for himself and his family, and though his body was thrown into a hole where he was killed, that was no reason why his spirit might not walk in his own park. The Dame was prevented from making further comments on this narrative by concern for her husband's situation. He lay, she said, roaring and foaming at the mouth, thinking what he had seen was a warning of his own death. The chamber was full of godly ministers, who would not let her send for a doctor, saying the case was in their way, and that they would dispossess him. But in spite of all they did, he grew worse, and was in such terrible convulsions, that she feared if he did not make away with himself, still he must die.
Sedley sincerely pitied her distress, and, in compliance with her wishes, promised to send the good old Doctor to her to try if he could do any good. A lover sees his mistress in every object. Combining the suspicions of Morgan, the appearance at the mausoleum, and the night-wanderings of Isabel, a sudden apprehension came across Sedley's mind, and determined him to see to what part of the park the sycamore avenue pointed, and he soon found it ended in a coppice, which shaded a ruined church, and a stately sepulchre, inclosed with iron pallisades, that had escaped the general pillage, which, in those times of rapacious sacrilege, spared not the altar of religion nor the silent repositories of the dead.
Sedley examined the modern structure. The gate was closed, and the bolts rusted in the wards. The long withered grass bore no marks of having been recently trodden; every thing appeared in the state in which it might be supposed to have been left, when the vain-glorious unfortunate projector of this monumental trophy of his own greatness augmented the heaps of dead who were interred without religious rite or distinction of rank, after the fatal battle of Marston-Moor ended the efforts of the Royalists in the north of England. The unoccupied tomb stood as a solemn warning against the fond precautions of low cunning and versatile policy. Sedley now proceeded to the church, which was a complete ruin. The roof was broken, and the entrances were blocked up with large stones that had fallen from the walls; yet not so totally, but that a slender person might find admittance into the building from the south-porch. As he looked in, he thought fancy might select this as the scene where the Anglican church, prostrate on her own ruins, mourned her departed glory and her present desolation in undisturbed silence, far from the sympathy of her friends, and the insults of her enemies. He called aloud, but the echo of his own voice reverberating through the aisles was his only answer. Though the wintry sun shone with meridian splendor, and cast his slanting rays through the apertures in the roof, so as to allow him to see the falling monuments and mutilated statues which were intended to commemorate the mighty of past ages, there was such an aweful solitude and petrifying horror in the whole scene, that he thought it impossible for Isabel to make nocturnal visits to such a place, believing his own courage would be scarcely equal to the undertaking, when darkness or the pale splendor of the moon added to its profound melancholy. There was, indeed, a slight appearance of a path to the most practicable entrance, but he could not help thinking it was made by some wild animal, which had chosen one of the vaults for its hiding-place.
Still ruminating on Isabel's concealed adventures as he returned, Sedley perceived a handful of sweet bay lying in the grass, which he recollected seeing her gather the preceding evening, with peculiar attention to the reviving fragrance of the evergreen. Every doubt was now removed. This was the spot which a young and beautiful female visited alone at midnight. No base inclination, no unworthy passion which shunned the light, could stimulate such an enterprize. Piety must bestow the inspiration; and that fortitude which results from conscious rectitude must confirm the trembling knees, and guide the cautious steps of the heroical adventurer.
A more honourable and praise-worthy principle than doubt or curiosity now led Sedley to discover what the treasure was which Isabel thus clandestinely visited. On his return, he mentioned to the family the dreadful situation of Humphreys, and described the spectral appearance to which it was imputed, "Absurd and impossible!" exclaimed Isabel, while a deep crimson flushed her face. Mrs. Mellicent turned very pale, and remarked that she did not entirely disbelieve all accounts of visionary notices of the future world. They might act as warnings to sinners, or as a call to an unbeliever. "True," replied Isabel, "but the contradiction of this is evident. Why should a good angel be connected with the apparition of Sir William Waverly? And, far from tending to reform Humphreys, the impression on his mind has produced distraction." Dr. Beaumont, who had remained silent and meditative during this conversation, now required Isabel to attend him before he went to offer his services to the afflicted farmer.
Sedley embraced the opportunity of their absence to examine more minutely the ruins of Waverly Hall. The thickness of one of the remaining walls struck him as singular; it was an abutment behind the chimney of what had been the banqueting-room, the wainscot of which was left in this place entire. Sedley inspected every pannel, and at last found one which slided, and afforded him an entrance into a small but perfect apartment, lighted from the ceiling, and which had probably served as a secret chamber to conceal the plate and valuables of the family, being so completely concealed by the contrivance of the architecture as not to be discernible on the outside. Was it not strange, that, with so secure and convenient a lodging close at hand, Isabel should chuse to deposit her treasure at such a distance? Had she overlooked this asylum, or avoided the use of it as a lure to deceive the vigilance of Morgan? Sedley proceeded in his search, explored every subterraneous vault and recess; but no signs of recent inhabitation could be found. He returned again to Morgan, commended his zeal for the good cause, but assured him, that though he had discovered many places proper for concealment, not a ghost of a royalist could any where be found.
"You say well, excellently well, my young Lord," replied Morgan, chuckling at the idea of his own superior sagacity; "yet for all that there is a ghost, aye, and he chuses a proper scene for his pranks, but we will lay him to-morrow morning." He then informed Sedley that Priggins had just been with him to say their neighbour Humphreys was troubled in the spirit, and, in a late wrestling with Satan, had been favoured with a vision, in which he had seen the ghost of Sir William Waverly in torment, complaining that there was a royalist in his grave who would not let him rest. "I believe not a word of the business," said he, "and defy the whole tribe of apparitions; but, as Your Lordship must see, it is my duty to search the burying-place, and the old church immediately."
Sedley suppressed his apprehensions, and coolly answered, he had reconnoitred the outside, and believed he had never seen a more desolate and unfrequented spot. "All the better for such a purpose," answered Morgan; "these bloody fugitives would not chuse highways and market-places for their cabals. But I don't like to venture among these terrible fellows without being protected; so I have sent for the Preston horse, and ordered them to bring the blood-hounds; and as Your Lordship has been there, I will thank you to be our guide. But, hark! not a word to the Beaumonts, or the birds will be flown."
Sedley preserved the serenity of his features, promised punctual attendance, and remarked that, to prevent any alarm from suspicion of an intercourse with Morgan, it would be expedient for him to hurry back. His anxiety to rescue the threatened victim was nearly as lively as the assiduity of Isabel; yet not daring again to request the confidence she had so peremptorily refused, he thought his best plan would be to watch the cemetery; and, pretending to retire indisposed to his chamber, as soon as it was evening he hurried, unobserved, down the avenue, entered the church, and concealed himself behind a pillar, from whence he had a full view of a door partially obstructed with rubbish which, he supposed, opened into the mausoleum.
A little before midnight, he heard the sound of feet; the shade was withdrawn from a dark lanthorn; and he discovered Isabel by its feeble light, as she held it up, and with cautious anxiety seemed to explore the ruins, to be assured that all was safe before she ventured on her nocturnal employment. She then approached the door, and whispered to the invisible inhabitant of the sepulchre. Sedley heard a bar fall, and saw her remove a portion of the rubbish, enter the dreary abode, and re-close the door. Listening, he heard voices conversing in low murmurs. Could a lover resist making a further discovery? He determined to open the door sufficiently to steal a view of the object concealed, and afterwards to join Isabel on her return, and apprize her of the necessity of selecting another asylum.
The stolen view was aweful and impressive. The inside of the cemetery was lighted by a lamp that shewed it was furnished with those articles of comfort which rendered it an habitable abode. On a neat pallet lay an aged gentleman, corresponding, in his appearance and infirmities, with one of the fugitives from Pontefract described by Morgan. Isabel had already spread a table, on which were placed the refreshments she had just brought, and a prayer-book. She was at that moment employed in chafing his benumbed limbs, and at the same time looking up at her patient with the tenderest affection, smiling through the tears of anxiety and compassion; while, as he bent over her, shrinking with acute pain from her light and tender touch, a glow of sublime affection illuminated his pale and furrowed features.
It was at this moment that the wind, rushing down the aisles of the church, forced the door out of Sedley's hand, and revealed him to the father and daughter as a witness of their affecting interview. The reader must have anticipated that no motive less potent than filial piety could have stimulated the heroism of Isabel. Surprise extorted from her a loud shriek; and the disabled Evellin snatched a carbine, which stood charged within his reach, and pointed it at the invader of their retreat. Isabel hung upon his arm. "'Tis my preserver! 'Tis my father!" exclaimed she, addressing them alternately. "Oh! Sedley, how durst you disobey me!"
"Young man," said the stern veteran, in a voice which denoted that an unconquered soul still tenanted his decaying body, "instantly tell your motive for this intrusion. My daughter addresses you as a friend, but your name announces a double traitor."
"Then it belies my heart," answered Sedley, "for I come devoted to your service, impatient to assist in the preservation of persecuted worth. The generous bravery of the renowned Colonel Evellin must endear him to every soldier, even if he were not the father of that matchless excellence who kneels beside you, and stays your arm from taking the life of one whose purpose is to preserve yours."
"I have seen too much of the world," answered Evellin, "to trust smooth talkers. Sentiments are easily uttered; they are all the fashion; and the butcher now uses them to the lamb he slaughters. I am a disabled soldier of that King whom regicides are now subjecting to the mockery of a public trial; and I am as ready to follow my Prince to the scaffold as I have been to fly to his banner when thousands were false. Hear me yet further. I am one of the proscribed victims who escaped from Pontefract. The hardships I have endured have deprived me of the use of my limbs; yet I am still dangerous to usurpers. A price is set upon my head; I am hunted from the abodes of man, denied the light of heaven, and, at this rigorous season, compelled to seek the shelter of a tomb, even while alive to anguish and sorrow. Approach, young man; you see my child has disarmed me. I have no other weapon; infirmity chains me to this pallet. I was born to the possession of a princely inheritance, but it was wrested from me by traitors foul as those who have overthrown the glory of England. I have nothing left but an honest heart, and enmity to traitors. Yes!" continued he, folding Isabel in his arms; "I have this weeping girl, who ought to have been a bright gem sparkling in a royal court, instead of a sickly lamp beaming in a monument."
Sedley wept. "You know," said he, "what side I have espoused; yet a mind so magnanimous must be candid; nor will you confound the errors and prejudices of early education with the turpitude of guilt. I was tutored by one who passionately worshipped civil and religious liberty; a man whose heart was generous and sincere as your own, and only mistook the means by which the desired objects were attainable. He now deeply mourns the enormous oppression which has originated from what he deemed perfect theories. Filial duty, joined to the instructions of my preceptor, made me join the Parliamentary army. You are a father. Think what agonies you would feel had your son refused to obey you, and falsified the hopes you had formed of his acting as your associate in what you deemed the career of glory."
"Cease, dearest Sedley," cried Isabel, "his weak frame cannot bear these strong emotions." "I have a son," said the agonized Evellin, "and he refused to obey me. He has falsified the hopes I entertained, that he would be the restorer of my house. Sedley, I would exchange sons with thy father. Come nearer, and I will tell thee what will make thee renounce the traitor who gave thee birth. Hast thou ever heard of thy uncle Allan Neville, the man from whom thy father stole his coronet and lands?"
"I have heard," said Sedley, "that he was unfortunate, very criminal, and long since dead."
"Unfortunate indeed," returned the Colonel, "but neither dead nor criminal. I am Allan Neville, a living witness of thy father's crimes, the least of which is usurpation. I accuse him as the foul slanderer of my fame, as the inhuman villain who betrayed my confidence. He knew my woes, my wants, my dependence on his friendship; nay, that I trusted to him only. He smiled, promised, cajoled, and destroyed me. My daughter has told me that thou art warm, ingenuous, sincere, and affectionate. Such, at thy age, was he that now lies before thee, the victim of thy mother's ambition and thy father's hypocrisy."
Sedley tried to conceal the burning blushes of shame with his hands, while his recollection of past circumstances confirmed his uncle's accusation. Ambition was the crime of both his parents; hypocrisy the means used by the cautious Lord Bellingham in seeking to compass those ends which his bolder consort pursued with the effrontery of determined versatility. Sedley remembered his mother a court-beauty, the favourite of the Queen, and the glass which reflected the smiles and frowns of royalty. He afterwards saw her the idol of the party which opposed government, sung by Waller, flattered by Holland, presiding with all the frivolity and pride of a pretty trifler at the dark divan, while Pym and St. John disclosed their hopes of extending their aggressions to seizing the remaining prerogatives of the alarmed and conceding King. Weak, vain, passionate, and unprincipled, with no determined object but her own aggrandizement—no claim to attention but an attractive person and soft courtliness of manner (which polished insincerity often assumes to disguise a stubborn, wayward, ungoverned temper),—Lady Bellingham supplied by a shew of benevolence her total want of the reality. He had seen her, without even the affectation of compassion, listen to a detail of the measures which were intended to drag Lord Strafford to the block; and though she boasted of that nobleman as her earliest lover, she made no attempt to procure him the respite for which his afflicted master ineffectually solicited. No storm of public calamity, no sympathizing pity for murdered friends, no sentiment of gratitude for her royal benefactors, ever disturbed the suavity of Lady Bellingham's deportment. Nothing could interrupt the dead calm of her unfeeling heart but opposition to her will, or the apprehension of danger to her effects or person. In the former case the gentle beauty was loud and pertinacious; in the latter, terrified to the extreme, and clamorous in her complaints; in both, perfectly regardless of the means she employed to promote her purposes, or insure her safety.
Sedley had long discovered a guarded circumspection in his father's conduct, which, as it exceeded prudence, must be called timidity. His perplexed look and restless manner spoke a soul ill at ease with itself, and more suspicious of persons, and the motives of their actions, than was consistent with fortitude and integrity. From the period of his assuming the title of Bellingham, Sedley could date a gradual increase of domestic misery. Even in his childhood he had been obliged to interfere in the disputes of his parents, each complaining to him of the faults of the other, and of their own injuries. The Earl ever spake of the sacrifices he had made to oblige his wife; the Countess, of the title, fortune, and importance she had bestowed on her husband. Many circumstances led him to fear that mutual guilt was the only bond which kept them from separation, as they often hinted in their quarrels that they were equally in each other's power for some punishable offences; and once, in an ungovernable transport of rage, Lady Bellingham bade her trembling Lord "remember her brother." These recollections made it impossible for Sedley to doubt the criminality of his parents, especially as their accuser was Colonel Evellin, whose gallantry and unquestioned honour had extorted alike the terror and admiration of his enemies. And was the admirable Isabel the victim of their crimes, who now, in all the unaffected loveliness of tender duty, wiped the cold dew from the face of her agonized father, beseeching him to consider his weakness, and forbear convulsing his tortured limbs by these mental throes, still assuring him, that if she could preserve his life, her own would be worth valuing?
Impelled by that homage which virtuous emulation ever pays to acknowledged worth, Sedley knelt by the side of Isabel. "Here," said he, "I devote myself to your service, and abjure your enemies, though my heart recoils when I consider who they are. In this sacred, this aweful abode, I drop all titles but that of your kinsman: now for your dear daughter's sake, listen to the intelligence I come to disclose; you are in the most imminent danger, and prompt measures for your security must be devised. I will never more participate in the guilt of those who wronged you, or partake of those luxuries which proved irresistible temptations to those who caused your ruin. Suffer me to supply the place of your lost Eustace, and to relieve the pious duties of your daughter. You shall then know that my immediate progenitors have not corrupted that pure blood which I, with you, derive from one common stock of eminent ancestors, distinguished alike by fidelity to their friends, their country, and their King."
Isabel scarcely waited for the reconciling embrace, which proved that her generous father knew not his own heart when he thought it capable of eternal enmity to the blood of De Vallance. Her transport at seeing the two dearest objects in the world known and esteemed by each other, was allayed by her eager anxiety to know what Sedley meant by imminent danger. He now disclosed what had passed between him and Morgan, and the discovery himself had made of another and nearer asylum for the brave fugitive. No time was lost in expediting his removal. Incapable of rising from his pallet, the whole family were employed in conveying him to the secret chamber, and in removing from the mausoleum every vestige of its having been inhabited. Rubbish was piled against the door; and, to prevent the path from being traced, the small stock of cattle the Beaumonts possessed were driven into the burying-ground. The rising sun saw their labours completed an hour before Morgan and his soldiers arrived to execute their inhuman inquisition. The care of Williams had frustrated the sagacity of the blood-hounds by a chemical preparation; and a night of inexpressible alarm and emotion was succeeded by a happy day, in which Isabel had the transport of having her dear father lodged close to her own dwelling, in a more comfortable place of concealment, where she could pay a more minute attention to his wants, and have an assistant in the task of ministering to his infirmities; that assistant too the lord of her affections, to whom she was ha longer compelled to wear the air of cold reserve so uncongenial to her ingenuous temper.
The Beaumont family would now have felt happy, and Arthur might have talked of love, assured of a favourable audience, had not every future plan and private feeling been engrossed by the situation of the King, whose mournful tragedy now drew near its final close. Like many others, Arthur de Vallance had been drawn, by the grossest misrepresentations, to oppose a Prince whose real character, bursting through the mists of adversity, now dazzled the eyes of those who had affected to speak of him as a meteorous exhalation, owing its lustre to chance, and destitute of the inherent qualities which constitute true greatness. To a general revolt and disaffection, arising from some actual and many imaginary grievances, succeeded an universal conviction of delusion, disappointment, disgust, and contrition. All parties but that which had the King in their keeping were ready to unite in efforts to save him from those who meant to make his corse a step to his hereditary dignity; and this, no less from a sense of his deserts and injuries, than from feeling experimentally, that destroying the balance of the Constitution annihilated their own liberty, and that the whips used by lawful rulers are, by usurpers, exchanged for scorpions. The rule of a limited monarch was now supplied by the tyranny of many despots—I say many; for though Cromwell had seized the whole administration into his own hands, managing what was called the House of Commons and the army by his creatures, annihilating the aristocratic branch of the legislature, and cajoling his brother-general, while he prepared the scaffold and sharpened the axe for the Monarch whom it was the settled purpose of Fairfax to preserve; yet his government had the feature which constantly characterizes newly-assumed power. He durst not disoblige the supporters of his greatness; and the services of his myrmidons were purchased by a sort of tacit agreement, that they might enrich themselves with the plunder of an oppressed people. Rapacity, therefore, walked triumphant through the land. Loyalty and Episcopacy had already been stripped. The bare carcase of truth and honour afforded no food for the carrion birds who floated round the unfledged antitype of the royal eagle. The adherents to the Rump parliament (as the House of Commons was then called, before Cromwell excluded from it the members who were offensive to his views), the Presbyterians and Republicans, had lately fattened on the miseries of their countrymen. Some of these, repenting their former errors, made efforts to save the King's life; and, for the crime of petitioning to that effect, were exposed to the rigorous punishments of imprisonment and sequestration. The royalists, conscious of their weakness, had suspended all military efforts, and fearing lest, by irritating their enemies, they should precipitate their Master's fate, they confined themselves to supplicatory addresses to him who alone had power to chain the fury of these human tigers. But, in the present instance, it was the will of the Almighty to give a fearful lesson to those who engage in fomenting rebellion and confusion, with an expectation of being able to muzzle the many-headed monster they let loose, and to govern that ignorance and depravity whose irregular appetites and malignant passions they have inflamed. The blow was struck which disgraced the nation, released the royal martyr from his crown of thorns, but had no power to prevent his receiving one of glory. "A dismal, universal groan burst from the thousands who witnessed the horrid scene, such as was never before heard! May England never utter such another! The troopers rode among the populace, driving them in all directions, and shewing the multitude, that though nine-tenths of the kingdom abhorred the action, committed in the name of all," the right of the majority was so little respected by these false assertors of liberty of opinion, "that it was now a state offence to express the natural feelings of compunction and pity." Driven to their own houses by the satellites of usurpation, tyranny, and murder, the people then gave vent to their tears and execrations. The contrite prayers of a sinful nation arose from every dwelling; and, like the blood of the Paschal Lamb on the doors of the Israelites, implored Divine Mercy to avert the sword of the destroying angel from them and their families, when he should be sent in wrathful visitation to take vengeance for that detestable regicide.
 For a very interesting account of what passed at Pontefract Castle, and of the adventures of Colonel Morrice; see Clarendon, vol. iii.
 Henry, a pious and eminent Nonconformist divine, gives this account of the awful sensation generally produced by the King's murder.
Vast confusion waits; As doth the raven on a sick-fall'n beast, The imminent decay of wrested pomp. Now happy he whose cloak and cincture can Hold out this tempest.
I avoid dwelling on the bitter anguish of the Beaumont family at the dreadful catastrophe of the long-imprisoned King. Its pious head added largely to his intercessory prayers, imploring heaven to avert its vengeance from all who had inadvertently been accessary to the fact, to forgive those who repented of the heinous sin, and to soften the hearts of those who still gloried in having murdered their Sovereign. For the English nation, his petitions were most fervent and impressive. The character of the young King had in it some traits which excited his apprehension; he prayed earnestly that they might be found (as many people said they were) merely the exuberance of youth; and that the acknowledged grace and affability of his manners, and the placableness of his temper, might ornament, but not supplant, those christian virtues and noble principles which had so eminently distinguished his father. Considering the provocations the people had committed, the great dissoluteness of one sort, and the wild fanaticism or palpable hypocrisy of the others, added to the furious passions and implacable resentments which were excited, especially by this last desperate deed, he saw little hope that true religion and regular liberty could be speedily restored; he feared, therefore, the sun of England's glory would suffer a long eclipse: yet England was his country, nor could affluence or distinction have tempted him to quit it while he thought his example, his labours, or his prayers could afford assistance to its inhabitants.