The existing Government allowed Dr. Beaumont and his family personal security: in return, he resolved to abstain from plotting its overthrow. The young King wished his friends not to hazard their own safety by rash undertakings; and Dr. Beaumont considered that to labour at the gradual introduction of right principles, the removal of mistakes, and the regulation of false doctrines; and, above all, to lead a life of holiness, universal charity, and meek simplicity, were the most likely means to heal the wounds made by violence, to soften the Divine anger, and to prepare the people for the restoration of legitimate rule. The reformation of individuals must, he knew, precede that of the nation; and he considered that the man, who employed himself diligently at his post, and strove to revive the sentiments of loyalty and piety in a country village, more truly served his God and his King than he who engaged in weak and unweighed efforts against a power which now wielded the energies of the kingdom. He lamented to see such enterprizes successively come to no better issue than that of giving fresh instances of the often-recorded fact, that loyalty and truth can die on the scaffold, or in the field of battle, without bending to their persecutors, or relinquishing the principles interwoven with life.
The situation of Colonel Evellin was very different. He was proscribed, exempted out of every amnesty, and though incapacitated by his infirmities from serving his King, yet forbidden to rest his weary head in secure privacy, till called by nature to hide it in the grave. Arthur De Vallance too, the noble-minded revolter, renouncing the distinctions purchased by the guilt of his parents, was resolved henceforth to devote his life to atone for their crimes, by being the constant attendant, comforter, and protector of his uncle. Yet was he not wholly disinterested in that resolution; the love of Isabel stimulated him to persevere in it, and he looked to her as the companion and reward of his services.
It was now determined to wait the probable effect of the summer heats in relieving the Colonel from the imbecility of extreme decrepitude. Dr. Beaumont was then to join the hands of Arthur and Isabel, and they and their father were to remove to Holland, where every friend of the Royal Martyr was affectionately welcomed by the Princess of Orange, whose only consolation in her deep affliction for him, was to cherish those who suffered in his cause. Arthur possessed a small private fortune independent of his parents, which, when converted into cash, would be adequate to their frugal support; and it was agreed, that while they waited the chance of the Colonel's recovery, no disclosure should be made of the change in his principles. He, therefore, retained the title of Sedley; continued to visit Morgan; talked of the friendship of Cromwell; and pretended that he resided with the Beaumonts, because he still required the assistance of his surgeon, and that he wished to be fully convinced of their inoffensive conduct before he recommended them to the General's favour.
During this time the Sunday assembling of the church in the wilderness was repeated as often as the safety of the congregation would permit. These were Dr. Beaumont's halcyon moments; the refreshing balms which enabled him to support his public and private affliction. The terrible death of Humphreys had made a great impression in the village, the outrageous blasphemies of the self-condemned reprobate in his last moments, and the utter inability of the various teachers of different opinions who gathered around him, to tranquillize his disordered imagination or quiet his alarmed conscience, led the beholders of that heart-rending scene to recollect, that no such occurrence had taken place during the quiet ministry of him who had preached the comfortable doctrine of God's universal acceptance of penitent sinners, and who had ever aimed rather to reform their lives than bewilder their understandings or influence their imaginations. Many of the neighbours who wanted courage to attend his more public services, visited the Doctor by night, and besought his instruction as a preceptor, or his judgment as a casuist. One wished him to talk with his wife, who was so much engrossed with spiritual things, that she thought it sinful to attend to temporal concerns. He said she left him alone in a severe fit of sickness, while in extreme danger, to listen to a favourite preacher; and, when reproved for her inhumanity, she burst into a transporting extacy, and declared herself now sure of salvation, as "she suffered for righteousness-sake," and would bear her cross with patience. He protested he knew not how to act, since, if he treated her with kindness, she was in despair, calling herself a lost soul, applying to her own case the woe denounced on those with whom the world is at peace, and complaining that she had no longer "a thorn in the flesh to buffet her." A disconsolate mother implored Dr. Beaumont to interfere and support her authority with her daughter, who, misunderstanding their preacher's encomiums on the sufficiency of faith, abandoned herself to antinomian licentiousness, asserting, that "it was the law which had created sin," but that the elect were free from the curse of the law. One father was ruined by children, who refused to "labour for the meat that perisheth." Another came in the deepest distress, lamenting that his son was committed to prison for having joined a band of fanatical desperadoes, who publicly plundered their neighbours, declaring that they were now superior to the commandments, and were prophets appointed to set up the empire of King Jesus, and restore those times "when believers had all things in common." In some of these instances Dr. Beaumont was enabled to enlighten the bewildered judgment; but when the errors of the imagination were fortified by licentious passions, or a perverse disposition, he could only give comfort to the afflicted relations by confirming them in a clearer view of divine truth.
But the Doctor's greatest trouble proceeded from those frequent visitors who came to complain to him of the state of their neighbours' souls, and to vaunt their own spiritual gifts and happy security. To these he could be of no use, nor is it any reflection on his learning and abilities, to say he was often posed by a class of disputants, who, wanting a previous acquaintance with those general topics of information which are necessary to a clear and true view of the question, presume to handle the most abstruse and profound topics of theology, while unable to see the force of their opponent's reasonings, or to attend to the development of the false hypothesis on which their notions are founded. These people, being wise in their own conceits, gloried in their errors, mistaking spiritual pride for piety, and censorious curiosity for concern for their neighbours' souls. The spirit of "Stand apart, I am holier and wiser than thou," had such firm possession of their minds, that the mild instructions and persuasive example of Dr. Beaumont had no effect; his refusal to anathematize the darkness of their adversaries, or to admire the splendour of their illumination, sealed their ears against all his counsels. In vain did he admonish them that the test of Christian principles, as given by our Divine Lawgiver, was unity. The promulgation of the Gospel to distant countries was to result from universal good-will. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another," was the Saviour's definition of his true servants. "I thank God that I am not like this Publican," was the self-gratulation of a much greater sinner. The Apostles enjoined the most guarded temperance of judgment respecting others, and the closest inquisition about ourselves; and the wisest and best men, from well-grounded fears of their own perseverance in well-doing, have declined all superior affectation of sanctity or invidious comparison of the behaviour of others with their own, lest they should afterwards fall into some grievous sin, and thus bring disgrace on religion and virtue. The Catholic church, he said, was a term implying affectionate communion as well as universality; and how could they be said to wish for Christ's reign upon earth, who made knowledge to consist in frivolous cavils, and piety in rancorous misinterpretation of a brother's motives? Were discord, enmity, and censoriousness, fit harbingers of the Prince of peace? His great forerunner preached repentance and reformation. The sins of individuals, not the institutions of civil society, were the mountains which were to be levelled before the rising of the Sun of Righteousness. We might be saved, without knowing if our neighbour was in the road to heaven; we must at the last day be judged for the good we have done, not for the evil others have thought; nor would the mere frequent calling upon the Lord save those who in their deeds rejected the Divine government. In fine, Dr. Beaumont, weary of the obstinacy and determined ignorance of these self-righteous, told them that their pretensions to a larger share of heavenly gifts was presumptuous, since they indulged in offences that spoke a more infernal origin than merely carnal sins; for, so far as human eye can penetrate into concealed mysteries, pride was the crime of the fallen angels. Nor would he admit that Christian humility had any thing to do with general acknowledgments, which rested in the corruption of our common nature. "It is in confession of actual sin that the contrite offender humbles himself before his God. The sentiment arising from an imputation of guilt which we could not avoid, or from the expectation of a punishment of which we are born the inheritors, is not self-abasement, but despair. The penitent, observed Dr. Beaumont, feels like one abashed by the recollection of his misdeeds, and fearful of forfeiting the pardon afforded him by mercy: hence arise kindness and compassion to his fellow-sinners, and newness of life in his own conduct; but he was yet to learn how the feelings of the predestinated elect, who boasted of being brands snatched out of the fire, and privileged favourites of Heaven, improved the morals of mankind."
Had Dr. Beaumont merely consulted his own ease, he could not have taken more effectual methods for clearing his door of those who came to display their own graces; yet his converts were numerous, respectable, and, what is better, shewed in their behaviour the improvement they derived from his labours. A quiet tractable deportment, a due sense of subordination, of duty to superiors, and of contented labour in their own callings, those noble and peculiar distinctions of true disciples of the church of England, which render her so proper an ally to the state, were again visible in the language and manners of those who attended the stolen congregational services I have mentioned, for to this assembling themselves together, the Divine blessing is especially promised. After the solemn and primary duties of confession, prayer, and praise, Dr. Beaumont resumed his old method of instruction, alternately expounding Christian mysteries, and inforcing Christian morals. On some occasions he pursued a course of catechetical lectures; on others, quitting elementary instructions, he proceeded to inforce good works as the test of faith; now recommending the means of grace, by which the heart of man was prepared to co-operate with the Divine Spirit, and then expatiating on the hopes of glory, the goal and reward of diligence and perseverance in well-doing. The service was lengthened by occasional prayers, adapted to the state of the kingdom, and closed with an hymn, except at those times when the centinel or watch indicated there was danger of interruption.
One fine evening of the summer of 1649 they were thus employed, and roused to uncommon fervour by a most pathetic discourse, to which the following hymn, sung by the congregation, was in its purport analogous:
Oh Thou, to whose paternal ear Affliction never vainly cried! Whom in prosperity we fear, On whom in sorrow we confide; We mourning exiles humbly crave Thy light to guide—thy power to save.
Proscribed from consecrated ground, Forbid thy sacred courts to tread, We know, where contrite hearts are found, Thy cleansing grace is largely shed. The church may wander in the wild, But God still feeds his pilgrim child.
Our canopy the vaulted skies, Our unction the refreshing dew; The circling rocks that round us rise, Conceal us from th' oppressor's view; Still shall their solemn echoes bear To thy high courts our praise and prayer.
Not for ourselves (though sore dismay'd Like hunted doves) we pray alone; A bleeding people asks thy aid, A ruin'd church, a prostrate throne, A land become by woes and crimes, A beacon to surrounding climes.
Oh, by the sacred ransom paid For rebel man, rebellion hide; Where evil spirits now have made Their den, let thine own Spirit 'bide. And change our contests and our wrongs To holy lauds and peaceful songs.
The echoing rocks prolonged the solemn melody, and every heart was filled with sympathetic submission, devout patience, and humble hope, when their attention was recalled to the present scene by a loud Amen, which discovered a till-then-unobserved participator in their devotions. A lame bare-headed beggar stood leaning on his crutch, while the wind blew his hair and tattered garments in every direction. "Heaven bless you, worthy Christians!" said he; "you have prayed for the King, help a wounded soldier who has fought for his Royal Father. 'Tis many a day since I have heard the old church service, and it has done my heart good; I have drunk to her prosperity thousands of times."
Arthur offered him an alms.—"Oh, young gentleman," said he, "this is like throwing diamonds to a dunghill-cock. I cannot buy a loaf in the mountains, and I dare not venture into any town till I can get some other clothes to disguise myself. I was in the last insurrection, as the rebels call it, and so may be hanged without judge or jury, wherever they catch me; and they may hang me if they will, for they can never make any thing of me but a King's trooper, or else a Tom o' Bedlam."
Dr. Beaumont now advanced to see what measures could be adopted to relieve the stranger's necessities, when, to his great surprize, the man limped forward, and, grasping his hand with ecstasy, gave it a hearty shake. "Ah, my good Doctor, is it you?—'Twas so dusky I could not see your face; and your voice is quite broke and hollow to what it used to be. I hoped Your Reverence was safe and well at Oxford, and not preaching here among the goats and sheep in the mountains, while tinkers and tailors are palavering in churches. Don't Your Reverence remember Jobson, whom you tried to get out of that Squire Morgan's clutches, when the cursed covenant came first in fashion. I could not swallow it, you know, nor will I now, though they were to change my torn coat for a major's uniform. Is the Squire still alive? I should like to knock him down with my crutch, and tell him I bought shoes of his father."
It was with unfeigned pleasure that honest Jobson was recognised by his neighbours. Plans were proposed for his immediate relief, and Arthur hoped he could procure him a protection through the interest of Morgan. "Say nothing about it, Sir," answered Jobson; "I tell you I'll owe him nothing but a sound drubbing, and I hope to pay that before I die, in spite of the wound in my knee; he should have it now if I could catch him; and let me tell you, I am sorry to hear such a pretty-spoken gentleman as you, say you have any acquaintance with such a scoundrel. He has made me hate the neighbourhood he lives in; and I only came into it to see if all was true that was said of my wife; and I find she is gone a tramping with one of the new preachers, and her girls are gone after her with some of the rebel troopers. Let them go, I say, if they have no better fancies than that; I'll hop back to Wales, where an old soldier of the King's is sure to find a nook in a cottage-chimney, and a piggin of warm leek porridge; aye, and a warm heart too, that never will betray him."
"It is not in Wales only," answered Dr. Beaumont, "that there are found warm hearts who revere the memory of their martyred Sovereign, and love the brave soldier who has bled in his cause. My situation compels me to be careful of offending the ruling powers, but we can contrive to make some cavern in the mountains a comfortable place of shelter, till you are better able to undertake a long journey; and believe me, it rejoices my soul to see you display the same firmness in adversity as you did in the hour of danger. In the wreck of your little fortune, you have preserved that noblest treasure, an upright heart. Many who now bask in affluence, would give their ill-acquired eminence to call that jewel without price their own."
"True, worthy Doctor," answered Jobson; "yet the knaves often get uppermost in this world, and so won't own themselves to be scoundrels, which is what provokes me. But the times will come when we shall tell them a bit of our minds again; and then I suppose my wife will leave the preacher, and want me to take her in again; but no, no, Madam, says I, there's two words to that bargain. Does Your Reverence know, that though I never rose higher yet than to be an officer's servant, I am to be a yeoman of the guard. His Highness the King, as now ought to be, promised, when he was only Prince of Wales, that when he came to live in Whitehall, he'd make me one of the Beaf-eaters: bless his generous heart! he'd have made me any thing I asked, but I never was ambitious. So, please Your Majesty's Highness sweet Prince, says I, let me be a Beef-eater as long as I live. This was when I was in the boat with him, as he went to Sicily from Pendennis-Castle. 'Twas the last time he set his foot on English ground, said he must think of his word when he comes back with the crown on his head."
By this time Isabel and Constantia had concerted a retreat for Jobson in the mausoleum, which, having been recently searched, was not likely soon to excite the suspicions of the parliamentary committee-men. They therefore lingered by the side of Jobson, and gave him a private intimation of their design, directing him to come to the park-wall at midnight, where they would provide, not only for his support, but attempt to cure his wound, as habit had now made them expert surgeons. Jobson could scarcely be confined to whispering his acknowledgements. "Give me the use of my leg again," said he, "and let the King's colours fly in what part of England they will, Ralph Jobson shall stand by the side of them."
Each party was true to the appointment, and the tender chirurgeons perceived with pleasure, that Jobson's lameness proceeded rather from neglect and unskilful treatment, than from such an injury of the muscles as excluded all hope that their action could be restored. His adventures were told to Colonel Evellin, who insisted that his fellow-sufferer should become an inmate of his apartment. "Soldiers," said he, "can talk over wars and sieges together, and pray for better times. The tedious hours will pass pleasantly, enlivened by that gallant fellow's simplicity; and, if Morgan thinks that it is worth while to let loose his blood-hounds in search of a lame beggar, he may, at the same time, unearth another who has nothing but his life to lose. Calamities like ours level all distinctions; and why is the breath which animates the ruined representative of fallen greatness more valuable than that which inspires the heroism and cheerful patience of an honest trooper. Yet courage, my girl; the blood of Neville is not wholly contaminated; and when I cease to give thee anguish, thou and Arthur shall restore its purity."
The family considered on Colonel Evellin's request, and as none but themselves knew of Jobson's first retreat, they thought the safety of their noble charge would not be hazarded by indulging him with a companion. It was, however, still deemed expedient to conceal his name and connexion with the Beaumonts, and to describe him to Jobson only as a loyal officer, disabled by hard service, who sought concealment till he was sufficiently recovered to leave England. Jobson rejoiced in the change of apartments. The tincture of superstition, which was universal in those times, gave him a great reluctance to being hid in a monument, though he disguised his general apprehension of supernatural beings under the pretence of dislike to Sir William Waverly. "If it had been a loyal gentleman's tomb," said he, "I dare say I could have slept in it all night very well, but I know the Baronet was no better than a rebel in his heart, and the malice of those scoundrels is not cured by knocking their brains out. To say the truth, my teeth chattered in my head, and my legs twitched so about, that I am sure I never should have got well while I staid there."
Jobson's light heart now foreboded that his wound would quickly heal, and that the brave gentleman, who was his companion in affliction, would take him to be his servant, when he should be able to leave England; he, therefore, settled in his own mind, that he would stay in Colonel Evellin's service till the King sent for him to make him a Beef-eater. The concealed Loyalists soon fell into that intimacy which suffering in the same cause naturally inspires. Adversity is a great leveller, not only of artificial distinctions, but also of personal qualities. The dispossessed nobleman, and the village-ploughman, conversed familiarly together of many a hard-fought day. The scene of their warfare lay in different parts of the kingdom; but each listened with painful interest to the details of the other: Evellin ruminating on the errors which had ruined the King's cause, Jobson cursing the knaves who betrayed, and the traitors who beheaded, him.
"I cannot help making free with Your Honour," said Jobson, "though I see by all your ways you are a right true gentleman, and not like the Rump-tinkers and Old Noll's make-believes. You would hardly think, merry as I seem with you, that I am very sad at heart: not about Madge Jobson, my wife as was; no, let her go where she will, for she always was a bad one; but 'tis about that noble family that are so good to us both. And that pretty Mistress Constance, as sighs so when she bandages up my knee; sweet creature! she thinks she hurts me, but I would not cry out if she did; for I have a story I could tell her would make her sigh more, and look paler than she does, though she is now as white as a coward marching up to a charged battery."
Colonel Evellin inquired what story. The remembrance of his son was ever present to his mind; but the indelible shame of his public disgrace had prevented him from alluding to him, or asking Jobson if he had ever met him during the campaign of 1645: and the deep feeling of affectionate grief prevented Jobson from naming the gallant youth to the good gentleman, who seemed, he thought, to want to have his spirits raised, and was too cast down to be diverted with melancholy stories.
Jobson now begged the Colonel to satisfy his doubts whether it was right to make his benefactors unhappy. "As a friend of the family," said he, "and a wise man, I wish to consult you. They don't seem to know what is become of Mr. Eustace Evellin, had I better tell them or not?"
Though long and intimately versed in the discipline of severest misery, Colonel Evellin was forced to turn away his face to conceal his paternal perturbation. "If," said he, "since the public rebuke of Lord Hopton, he has again disgraced his lineage, bury his shame in that oblivion which I hope now covers his body; but, if he lived long enough to redeem his honour, tell me his history."
Jobson gazed with indignant surprise on his agitated companion. "If," answered he, "you had not fought as nobly as you have for the King, I would not bear to hear you talk about Mr. Eustace Evellin's redeeming his honour before he lost it. Why, it was all a mistake of the old Lord's when the cowards and traitors drove him distracted; and so he thought Mr. Eustace one of them, because now and then they tippled together. Aye, he has been sorry enough for it since: but Generals should be careful what they say, for Lord Hopton ruined one of the fairest young gentlemen that ever was born."
The Colonel motioned with his hand that Jobson should proceed with his narrative. "Does Your Honour groan through pain?" inquired the latter; "let me lay you in an easier posture. Did you never hear how Mr. Eustace fought at Pendennis-Castle; when old John Arundel of Terrice thanked him before all the garrison?"
"Thank heaven!" exclaimed Evellin, "that was a public honour!"
"Tush! that was nothing," continued Jobson; "every soldier knew already what stuff Mr. Eustace was made of. Old John called him the hero of Lancashire. After the castle had surrendered, I went with him into Wales; and wherever there was a little fighting we were at it: and when there was none, we lived just as we could; for I did not care about Madge Jobson, and Mr. Eustace said he could not go home because his father had cursed him."
"No, no, no," said Evellin; "he never cursed him."
"I wish," cried Jobson, "the poor gentleman had known that; it might have saved his life."
"Is he dead?" exclaimed the father, in an agony that lifted his debilitated frame from its recumbent posture.
"Shot in cold blood after the taking of Pembroke-Castle."
"By whose order?"
"A devil's-born traitor, as bad as those who cut off the King's head; Lord Bellingham they call him."
Evellin clenched his fist; his teeth were set; his eyes rolled in terrific wildness; Jobson thought him in a fit, and advanced to support him. But with the reckless strength of frenzy, the distracted father grasped the tottering veteran. No object but Bellingham presented itself to his perverted imagination; and in the fury of rage, blended with anguish, he redoubled his blows on Jobson, exclaiming, "Accursed Bellingham, give me back my son!"
The vehemence of the Colonel's execrations brought Arthur de Vallance to the assistance of Jobson, who, in terrified accents, declared the good gentleman was suddenly gone mad, and he could not hold him. It might be expected, that the entrance, at that instant, of the son of Eustace's murderer would have increased the paroxysm, but nature was exhausted; he fixed his eyes upon him, till anguish changed to glaring inanity, and he sunk lifeless on the pallet.
Arthur's first care was to call Isabel, in hopes her tender ministrations would restore her father. Her efforts were attended with success. Evellin opened his eyes, saw his daughter and her lover supporting him; he looked alternately at each; no language can describe the expression of those looks, while he vainly struggled for utterance. Withdrawing his hand from the pressure of Arthur's, he threw it round the neck of Isabel, and with the feebleness of an apparently dying accent, inquired if she loved that man. Astonishment kept her mute; Evellin sobbed aloud. "By his father, girl, your brother has been murdered in cold blood."
If a painter wished to portray a scene of superlative misery, which the pen cannot describe, the present might employ his strongest powers of pathos.—The pleading eye of Arthur fixed on the face of Isabel, while she gazed on her father with the blank features of astonishment and despair. Jobson now understood the development he had caused, and shared the anguish which it excited. He brushed the tears from his eyes; they filled again. He sobbed aloud, and thought such sorrow worse than the severest warfare he had ever sustained.
The first return of recollection suggested to young De Vallance the necessity of withdrawing from the presence of his uncle. He sought Dr. Beaumont, but that universal comforter could not relieve such despair. He had, himself, the dreadful task of disclosing the death of Eustace to Constantia, and of sustaining the keen anguish of her first sorrow, before he could intrust her to the care of Mrs. Mellicent, and assist Isabel in the secret chamber, where the loud cries and groans of Evellin exposed them all to the most imminent danger of discovery.
Before Dr. Beaumont could visit his frantic friend, rage had again exhausted his strength; he lay apparently lifeless, and Isabel was weeping over him.—In cases of extreme distress, to talk of comfort and prescribe composure, is impertinence. Nature will claim her rights, and a true friend respects them in silence. He directed his attention to the narrative of Jobson, from whose report he gathered those particulars of the fate of Eustace, which, with other circumstances that afterwards transpired, shall be narrated in the subsequent chapter.
 This disposition was a prominent feature in the character of Sir Matthew Hale.
END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAP. XIX. CHAP. XX. CHAP. XXI. CHAP. XXII. CHAP. XXIII. CHAP. XXIV. CHAP. XXV. CHAP. XXVI. CHAP. XXVII. CHAP. XXVIII.
Teach all men how dangerous it is to step aside out of the path of innocence and virtue upon any presumption to get into it again; since such men usually satisfy themselves in doing any thing to mend the present exigent they are in, rather than think of returning to that condition of innocence from whence they departed.
The public rebuke of Lord Hopton (in its most opprobrious charge wholly undeserved) and the subsequent interview with his father, produced a marked change in the character of Eustace. He saw that his misfortunes had proceeded from rash impetuosity, extreme confidence in his own talents, and a precipitate estimation of the merit of those he admitted to his friendship. From that period he became wary and circumspect; a pensive gloom clouded his once fervent animation; he looked and felt like one bound to life by an irresistible spell, for in that light he considered his father's command, to live and redeem his honour.
He was not without hope, that the cordial testimony of Governor Arundel in his favour at Pendennis-Castle might prove the means of restoring him to the presence of his friends; but a report at that time reaching him of the high estimation in which Monthault was held by the Beaumont family, added to an assurance that he was the accepted lover of Constantia, determined him against returning to Oxford, to witness the arts by which that now-detected traitor had confirmed his ruin. He had often heard the love of women was not of that ardent nature, which outlives disgrace and misfortune. Perhaps he secretly commended the noble principles which could prevail on a young woman to reject a dishonoured lover, and deem infamy a sufficient plea to rescind the bond of a plighted attachment. He only lamented, that in this instance Constantia had mistaken the dupe for the villain. Disdaining to dispute the point of character with Monthault, and bent on clearing his fidelity to his King, by some indisputable proofs before he claimed his love, he felt as exiles frequently feel, who, liking nothing but that home from which they are proscribed, suffer chance to decide their course. Jobson had attached himself to his fortunes, he had some relations in Wales, and he spoke much of the loyalty of the mountaineers.—Eustace crossed the British channel and took up his abode in the principality, continuing to distinguish himself as long as any resistance was made to the parliament.
During the cessation of hostilities, which resembled rather an armed truce than peace, his yearning heart returned to his beloved family, and his dearest Constantia, who, he now learned, had rejected Monthault. But they had left Oxford in the general dispersion of its sages and divines, and he knew not whither they had shaped their course, neither did he yet think he had fulfilled the injunction of redeeming his shames. Continual talk of risings for the King, made him hope he should again have an opportunity of using his sword, and while this suspence lasted, he accepted the hospitality of a worthy surgeon of the name of Lloyd, who resided in the town of Pembroke, and admired the virtues of this brave out-cast, as sincerely as he pitied his misfortunes.
Eustace left the arms of this foster-parent, at the breaking out of the second civil war, which took place during the King's confinement in Carisbroke-Castle. He was one of the first who appeared in arms, and after many bold, but unsuccessful efforts, he and Jobson were among the number who sustained that memorable siege in Pembroke-Castle, where, after holding out to the last extremity, a selected number of the brave defenders were sacrificed to republican revenge.
I have already stated that the command of the army, destined to subdue the Welsh Loyalists, had been given to Lord Bellingham as a test of his fidelity, or rather a snare to expedite his ruin, and that his Countess was privy to this design, being actually the person who had informed Cromwell of his secret disaffection. The Usurper had recently suffered a severe disappointment; his favourite General Mytton had thrown up his command in disgust, and refused again to subdue his countrymen, since he perceived his hopes of founding a republic, that was to combine every Utopian idea of purity, had issued in the establishment of military despotism. Cromwell resolved henceforth to employ a more subtle policy, and to place a spy on every one whom he entrusted with an important command, whose interest it should be to watch and report all their actions. He had formed a determination not only to annihilate the ancient nobility, but also to create a new house of peers, consisting of men raised by what he called personal merit, in reality a selection from his own creatures, which is often the true explanation of the word merit, when used for party-purposes. No expedient could better serve such a purpose, than that of exhibiting birth and rank, self-degraded in the person of one, who he knew would prove himself unworthy of the trust reposed in him.
When a system of espionage and secret influence becomes the ruling principle of government, it follows that the governed must counteract its designs by a similar process, and thus venality and treachery become legalized by the acknowledged laws of self-defence. Lord Bellingham had his agents in the army, as well as Cromwell, and soon discovered that the sword of Damocles was suspended over his head. Though disaffected to the cause he served, he had not courage to avow his sentiments, or even prudence enough to throw up the command, and embrace the only chance of safety, by choosing a life of retirement. Wedded to the possessions and rank he had so dearly purchased, and full of ill-founded confidence that he could play as successful a game with a close-penetrating tyrant, as he had done with a generous inexperienced King, he thought an air of inexorable cruelty to the royalists must remove, or at least lull the suspicions of the serpent, who lay wrapped round in observant coil, ready to spring upon him. As to the feelings of those whom he persecuted, for the sake of prolonging his own worthless life and preserving his ill-acquired fortunes, he either entirely forgot that they had any, or considered that self-preservation rendered every expedient lawful.
After enduring a siege equalled in horror only by that of Colchester, Pembroke-Castle surrendered on the same terms; namely, that the common soldiers might depart unmolested, and the inhabitants be safe in person and property, while the officers and gentlemen who had borne arms should surrender prisoners at mercy. The generous sentiments of these self-devoted patriots sustained them in the agonizing trial of parting with the bands they had led always to honour, sometimes to victory, by the consideration that, by placing themselves in jeopardy, they had purchased the safety of those whom they could no otherwise protect, and whose services were now useless as the cause was desperate. But far different were the feelings of the soldiers, who were compelled to leave their beloved commanders in this state of peril. The regret of Jobson was peculiarly lively, he wrung the hand of Eustace, implored him to assist him in passing for a subaltern, that he might share his perils, and insisted he was as good a gentleman as many of Bellingham's officers. Eustace attempted to laugh at his apprehensions, assured him that the rumour of the General's intention to decimate the prisoners was suggested by some malicious person, who sported with the feelings of unfortunate people. "The only difference in our fate," said he to Jobson, "is that you are at large with your unhealed wounds to beg or starve, whichever (being your own master) you shall think most eligible, while I shall be well taken care of as a prisoner, probably sent to London, and perhaps, by some fortunate occurrence, may be indulged with a sight of my honoured father. With what transport shall I throw myself into his arms, crave his blessing, tell him I have redeemed my shames, and proved by my sufferings and my blood that I am no traitor."
Jobson took a lingering leave; the commands of Bellingham were peremptory. Every soldier of the King's found in the castle, the evening after its surrender, was ordered to be thrown over the rock into the sea. Cowardice was his motive for this command. He dreaded the fury of even a disarmed and unofficered army, and he resolved to disperse them, previous to his bringing on the premeditated catastrophe of his bloody tragedy.
On the succeeding morning a ghastly-looking figure, whose face spoke some abhorred errand, ordered the captives to attend the council of officers. Bellingham, surrounded with those, who secretly panted for his destruction, acted as their organ, and assuming the consequence of a general, informed his prisoners, "That after so long and obstinate a defence, till they found it necessary to deliver up themselves to mercy, it was necessary that the peace of the kingdom might be no more disturbed in that manner, that some military justice should be executed, and therefore the council had determined that three should be presently shot." The tallies were immediately produced, the victims blindfolded, and Eustace drew one of those marked with the fatal sentence of death. His partners in affliction had nothing remarkable in their appearance to engage peculiar sympathy; but the beautiful countenance of Eustace, faded indeed by severe suffering, yet lighted by the splendor of eyes radiant with intelligence, while all his features spoke sense and feeling, had already drawn the attention of the butchers who sat to see him exposed to the chance of slaughter. With collected intrepidity he stretched his hand, and steadily drew the lot from the fatal urn. When the contents were announced, he tore the bandage from his eyes, and, rolling them in stern defiance of the rebel group, embraced his fellow-victims. A silent appeal to Heaven succeeded; and then, without one supplicatory address for mercy, in a manly tone, he inquired what time would be allowed them to prepare for death. His manner had so far softened their hearts, that a respite of three hours was granted; and Lord Bellingham offered them the assistance of one of his own chaplains to direct their devotions.
It would have been an inestimable consolation to Eustace had the worthy Barton officiated in that capacity; but he was now among the number of respectable characters who were thrown into prison for presuming to intercede in the King's behalf. The person who attended Eustace was an ignorant desperate fanatic, in reality a spy of Cromwell's, whom the arbitrary will of Lady Bellingham compelled her lord to retain about his person. Such an assistant could afford no comfort to a condemned man; in reality he only served to disturb the composure which a long series of sorrows and sufferings had enabled Eustace externally to assume—I say externally, for his soul secretly melted at the unusual misfortunes that had clouded his short existence. He recollected at this trying moment the precious delights and glorious visions of his boyhood. His mind dwelt on the delusive opinion of his own powers, which had endangered his high expectations of renown, the fatal intimacy, and the numerous errors that changed glory into disgrace; and now, when misfortune had taught him wisdom, by the cruel sentence of coward rebels he was doomed, in cold blood, not only to an early, but also to an ignominious grave. He should never more re-join his father! never behold his plighted Constantia! Death he would welcome almost with transport, could he but hear the former pronounce his forgiveness, or the latter vow that she would cherish his memory. To die unknown, distant from all he loved, be ignorant of their present state, and they of his miserable doom—such a combination of excruciating misfortunes required no common fortitude to support the trial, or to divest a soul (which clung to the future with greater eagerness in proportion to the fallacy of past expectations) of those strong attachments to this life which impeded his journey to another. The glow of heroism which animated his face, and warmed his bosom before the council, was succeeded by the chill of despair. The precious moments of preparation for eternity were consumed in a whirl of distracting thought. He stood caressing a favourite spaniel whom he had preserved alive during the severe privations of the siege, watching the swift movements of the clock which numbered the remaining pulses of his heart, wondering if it would thus throb at the moment when he plunged into an unknown existence, endeavouring to recollect a recommendatory prayer, but too amazed and petrified by the cruelty of man to meditate on the mercy of God.
Meanwhile, Henley the chaplain, with the stern austerity of unpitying fanaticism, asked Eustace if he was in a state of grace, or had witnessed the experience of a saving call. Receiving no answer to these inquiries, he began the usual routine of vituperative prayer, and affected to supplicate for mercy on what he styled a child of wrath doomed to perdition, and, by his own consent, in the bondage of Satan. Eustace was roused by this mockery from his apparent stupor. "Call you this," said he, "spiritual comfort for the afflicted, or a requiem for a departing soul? I was educated in the principles of true piety. I know myself to be a frail, responsible being, and that my spirit is composed of those imperishable materials which will enable me to exist in a state of retribution. I trust in the merits of Him who died to save me. I am severed from my dearest connections. My days are terminated in the morning of my life. I am denied the fruition of those glorious hopes which prompted me to distinguish myself by deeds deserving virtuous renown. So wills the Ruler of the universe. Blind and cruel instruments often accomplish the inscrutable designs of Providence; but I have been taught to consider all its purposes as issuing in mercy. I fought for a virtuous King; I die for his exiled son. My name shall live in honour when Bellingham and all the vile associates of Cromwell are consigned to infamy. I am the son of Colonel Evellin, the nephew of Dr. Eusebius Beaumont, both renowned Loyalists. You, Sir, cannot instruct me; for the principles I imbibed from them will support me in my last moments."
The Chaplain listened with surprise to the account which Eustace gave of himself, and thought it expedient to return to his lord before his execution. Bellingham had been much struck with the aspect of the brave youth. The unacknowledged yearnings of nature, excited by his resemblance to his father, made him wish to save his life, while the compunctious visitings of mercy were again repressed by terror for his own. While he thus hesitated, Henley returned, and advised the Earl by no means to preserve such a determined profligate, who had rejected his prayers with disdain, refused to give any account of the state of his soul, persisted in a false exposition of the gospel, and gloried in his relationship to notorious malignants. "He is the son of that desperado Colonel Evellin," said Henley—Bellingham trembled as he uttered that name—"and the nephew of Dr. Eusebius Beaumont," continued the Chaplain. The horrors and fears of Bellingham were wrought to a climax by this information. Those apprehensions which the likeness of Eustace to his injured father, and the similitude of their names excited, were now confirmed beyond all doubt, by his claiming kindred with Dr. Beaumont. Allan Neville was therefore still alive, and no other than the famous Colonel Evellin, at whose name he and many other rebels had often turned pale. Bellingham had frequently revolved in his mind the possibility that the brave Loyalist might be his injured brother. He had lost sight of him before the commencement of the civil wars, and hoped he had fallen a victim to insanity in his mountainous retreat. He now knew he was still alive, perhaps preserved to reclaim his inheritance, at least he was the father of a brave interesting youth whom he had just doomed to slaughter, and dared not pardon. Practised as he was in guilt, his heart revolted at the idea of shedding his blood. Hurried out of his accustomed caution, he faintly acknowledged the prisoner was his nephew; but suddenly re-assuming his wonted duplicity, he desired Henley to hurry back, and inquire if he had any more brothers, observing it was a desperate family, and perhaps sparing the life of one might be the means of getting the rest into the power of Parliament.
Henley had caught the inadvertent acknowledgment of kindred, and was prepared to use it to forward the views of Cromwell. Before he returned to Eustace, he took care to inform the agitators that their General's nephew was one among the captive officers assigned by lot to expiate for the loss of their comrades who had perished in the siege, and that Bellingham was now devising measures to save his life. An universal clamour was immediately raised; the soldiers assembled on the parade, and called for impartial justice. The agitators proceeded in a body to the General's quarters, demanding that the prisoners should be instantly executed, and, that no subterfuge or exchange might take place, they would themselves examine their features, and ascertain that they were those who drew the lots of death.
Meanwhile Henley was holding forth hopes of mercy to Eustace, and drew from him a description of the state of his family. He also inquired if he had any friends in Pembroke. A prudent recollection of the danger to which he might expose Dr. Lloyd, prevented Eustace from requesting the comfort of his attendance. The conference was interrupted by the loud clamours of the soldiers. Eustace knew their meaning, endeavoured to compose his thoughts, and submitted to his fate. It was reported that, as he went to execution, he had the melancholy comfort of seeing his friend among those who came to witness his last moments. If so, his perturbed spirit was soothed with the consciousness that there was one who would record his magnanimity, and rescue his cold remains from barbarous indignity or oblivious neglect.
"I know little more, please Your Reverence," said Jobson to Dr. Beaumont, "than that they were all cruelly shot to death. I have heard that poor Fido sat howling on my young master's corpse, and would not let any body touch it till Dr. Lloyd fetched it away to bury it; and that the Doctor keeps the poor dog still, and will never part with it. Ah! the bloody-minded knaves so hated poor Eustace, that they never would have suffered him to have had Christian burial, had not the officers and soldiers mutinied just at that moment. They said that the General had betrayed them, and that the trouble they had to conquer us was all owing to his favouring his friends in the Castle. There is nothing but lies among the Round-heads; for I'll take my life not a soul of us would have had any thing to do with them, and if starving us to death was a way of shewing us favour, I hope never to meet with such friends any more. So, and please Your Reverence, as soon as poor Mr. Eustace fell, the Devil (whom they talk so much about) got among them, and they began quarrelling and fighting; and a pity it is he did not come a little sooner and carry off that cowardly Lord who let his prisoners be shot in cold blood, because he could not beat them when they had arms in their hands. Had it not been for him, the finest young man Lancashire ever bred would have been alive and merry with his noble father at this moment. I don't wonder Your Reverence weeps and wrings your hands. I would have died a thousand times to save him; and if ever I may shew my face in the open day-light again, I'll go to Pembroke and beg Dr. Lloyd to let me take Fido to Mistress Constantia. Poor Fido! Mr. Eustace hid him all through the siege, or the garrison would have eat him. We gave him a morsel out of our own mess, and that was short commons enough. I fancy I see him walking after Mr. Eustace when he went to be shot, and then sitting on his body. I warrant they found the lock of Mrs. Constantia's hair lying on his heart; for he looked at it every day, and swore he never would part with it. O! that I had died instead of him; there is nobody to grieve for Ralph Jobson!"
Thus imitating the artifice, while unable to catch the spirit of the Grecian painter, I describe sorrow as personified in a faithful attendant, and leave the reader's imagination to picture the frantic father and the fainting mistress of Eustace—affliction wearing the form of a ministering angel in Isabel, and that of a mourning patriarch in Dr. Beaumont—all tracing the ruin of their dearest hopes to the same iniquitous source; yet all agreeing that it was better to die with virtue than to live with guilt; to be immolated on the shrine of alarmed ambition, rather than to be the bloody hierarch who dragged the sacrifice to the altar.
 In the account of what passed at Pembroke-Castle, the author has not adhered to history or chronology; but the similar barbarity and breach of contract, which took place at Colchester, justifies the narration.
 This is copied from what passed at Colchester.
I charge thee, fling away ambition; By that sin fell the angels; how can man then (The image of his Maker) hope to win by it? Corruption gains not more than honesty.
Among the victims whom the crimes and fears of Lord Bellingham made supremely wretched, we must rank his amiable and repentant son, who, languishing to cleanse his house from the foul stain of usurpation, had long resolved to do justice to his injured uncle, and to relinquish his surreptitious honours to Eustace, anticipating the friendship of that noble youth, and the hand of Isabel as the best rewards he could receive. No bridal transport, no yearnings of grateful friendship, no cordial thrill of conscious integrity now cheered the gloom of his future prospects. The father had sinned beyond all possibility of the son's atoning for his crimes. Was it possible for Colonel Evellin or Constantia to bear his sight? Could Isabel ever plight her faith to the son of her brother's murderer? These agonizing forebodings were soon confirmed by the receipt of the following letter:—
"It is impossible for me to leave the secret chamber to bid you farewel. I can sometimes tranquillize my father. I trust in heaven his life will be preserved, and his reason restored. I know you are innocent, and I know too that I shall always love you; but my heart forebodes we must meet no more in this world. I do not bid you forget me—No; I will implore your daily prayers, for I have great need of patience and fortitude. Solicit for me earnestly at the throne of grace, and thus shew your affection to
"Our sweet Constantia looks like a virgin-martyr, beautiful and resigned. She bids me say she shall always love her kind friend Arthur. Surely you might write to her, and mention what course you mean to pursue."
It would be difficult to say, whether this letter gave De Vallance more pain or pleasure. Hope seldom deserts the lover who knows he is beloved. But why did he feel delight at hearing Isabel acknowledge her heart would ever be devoted to him? Could affection burst the cinctures of the grave, and re-animate the corpse which his father had prematurely sent to that dark mansion? Should he not rather have wished her to determine to tear his image from her heart, and be happy in a second choice? I aim to recommend practical and praise-worthy self-denial, not that romantic strain of extravagant sentiment which enjoins impossibilities and commends absurdities. Arthur's reflections told him that in treasuring the remembrance of Isabel, even in his heart-of-heart, he invaded no one's right, and broke no divine precept. He measured the feelings of his mistress by his own. "Whatever," said he, "may betide me in life, of good or ill fortune, the idea of this virtuous, this heroical maid, shall restrain the arrogance of prosperity, or prevent my sinking under the weight of calamity. I will bring her to my mind's eye, restraining her tears for her murdered brother; supporting her wretched father, imbecile alike in mind and body; consoling the friend of her youth, widowed in her virgin love; and let me add, following her plighted Arthur with pious prayers and devoted affection. If I have now no motive to action in the hope of possessing virtue personified in my Isabel, I still have the incentive of proving myself worthy of her constant attachment."
Determined never more to return to his parents, the sight of whom would have been almost as terrible to him as to the unhappy family with whom he had so long sojourned, if the remorseless Countess and usurping Earl had dared to invade the privacy of their sorrows, De Vallance resolved to leave England, and engage in the service of his exiled King. Should prudential motives cause the King to decline making use of his sword, the war which had for twenty years subsisted between France and Spain would furnish him with employment, and he resolved rather to end his days as a mercenary soldier than to remain in England a rebel to his Prince, and the acknowledged heir of usurped greatness.
Avoiding all expostulation, or indeed all chance of further intercourse with his parents, he removed from Ribblesdale with the utmost privacy. Changing his clothes and assuming a disguise which altered his appearance, he shaped his course toward Liverpool, from whence he hoped to procure a passage to France. He had not proceeded far before he overtook Jobson, who, unable to support the sight of Colonel Evellin's distress, had determined to go back to Pembroke, and gain from Dr. Lloyd a more minute account of the death of Eustace. De Vallance agreed to accompany him and take ship at Milford Haven. Jobson was proud of again serving a loyal gentleman, and Arthur was resolved, for his late master's sake, to assist and protect the brave trooper. "I'll do any thing to serve your honour," said Jobson; "but I hope you will not be offended. My tongue is a little unruly, and apt to slip out now and then. So if, when I don't intend it, I should say harsh things of the cursed rogue who murdered Mr. Eustace, forgetting that he passes for your honour's father, I hope you will not think me less dutifully disposed to you. For Mrs. Isabel long ago told me you was come over to the right side, and would rather fight for a King without a coat to his back, than such upstarts as Old Noll and the Parliament, though all over gold fringe and black velvet. I tell you what, Master Sedley, My Lord Sedley I believe I ought to say——"
"My name is Arthur de Vallance," replied he; "I have no right to any title."
"Bless your honourable nature," said Jobson. "Poor Mr. Eustace, I find, ought to have been My Lord, but as that traitor shot him to get him out of the way, I don't see why you should not be Lord Sedley rather than one of Old Noll's tinkers should, who are sure to catch up all the good things they can lay hold of."
Arthur smote his breast, and with agony reflected, that however his soul abhorred the foul crime, he must (as his father was created a peer by the late King) reap the advantage of it. The horror of this consideration was alleviated by considering that on the death of Bellingham he should have power to rescue Evellin from the protracted misery of a life of concealment, and Isabel from terror, poverty, and a renunciation of even common comforts. While he was engrossed by meditating plans for their immediate relief, Jobson went on, unobserved, raving against the degradation of serving upstarts, and resolving to stand by true gentlemen while he had a drop of blood in his veins.
The remittances which De Vallance had received from his tenants, enabled him to purchase horses and other necessaries for himself and Jobson. Assuming the name of Herbert, he gave himself out to be a gentleman travelling with his servant on a tour of pleasure. They reached Pembroke in safety, but the pious intentions of Jobson were frustrated; he could neither pluck a tuft of grass from his master's grave, nor recover Fido to console Constantia. Dr. Lloyd had left the town, and no one knew where the remains of Eustace were deposited. The graves of his fellow-victims were pointed out by the attentive piety of the young maidens, who adorned them with garlands of flowers, which (according to the custom of the country) were renewed every Sabbath. On that day they duly knelt beside the spot, and with awful veneration kept alive their own attachment to the cause for which these officers suffered, by repeating the Lord's prayer.
It was a matter of the deepest concern to Jobson that the grave of Eustace was not pointed out and adorned with similar honours. He began to conceive an implacable aversion to Dr. Lloyd for not having given him a public interment. "Is it not enough," said he to De Vallance, "to make poor Mr. Eustace walk? One of these gentlemen, to be sure, was a fine corny-faced cavalier, who paid for many a jug of Welsh ale that I drank to His Majesty's health, and the other was a stout desperate lieutenant, that would fight and swear with any body; but not one of them was half so handsome, sweet-speaking, well-born a gentleman as Mr. Eustace."
De Vallance did not apprehend that posthumous honours soothed the separated spirit; and had he not been standing on the awful spot which consummated his father's crimes, he would have smiled at the retention of these old pagan ideas respecting the state of the departed. He questioned the by-standers whether any thing was known respecting the interment of young Evellin. Some said there was a private funeral huddled up in a strange way; but an old woman whispered that it was suspected the Doctor had made him into a skeleton, and being troubled in conscience afterwards for the wicked act had fled the country. Absurd as this suggestion was, it suited the pre-conceived prejudices of Jobson, and in future afforded De Vallance some relief, by diverting part of his companion's curses to another object than Lord Bellingham; for in Jobson's estimation there was little difference between the General who condemned, and the surgeon who dissected his master. Nor was he satisfied about Fido's safety, when he found Dr. Lloyd had been particularly careful to take the spaniel with him. "Ah, the bloody knave," said he, "I know he will cut the poor dog up in his experiments, as he calls them, and then sell his skin. That Doctor is a Jew to the back-bone. If I had gone to him with my lame knee, he would have had my leg off directly to put in pickle, and have made me wear a wooden one instead of it. But sweet Isabel fomented it till it was well, and now I can ride on horseback as well as ever. Bless her kind heart! I do hope she and Your Honour will come together at last. Aye, and I know she wishes so too. 'Jobson,' said she, as she bade me farewel, 'if ever you can serve the worthy son of a wicked father, do it for my sake.'"
The reflections of De Vallance on the mysterious circumstances of Eustace's interment took a different train from those of Jobson; but as his thoughts never could pursue any other subject when the magic name of Isabel spell-bound them to the secret chamber, where filial piety tended its uncomplaining captive, we will follow their course, and return to the Beaumont family.
The pious Isabel with unwearied magnanimity persevered in the duties which her painful situation required. Her nights were uniformly spent in the chamber where her father was concealed, and her days were divided between him and the sad Constantia, who, ever pining for her Eustace, seemed to have no wish but to share his grave. Isabel tried to divert her thoughts to the consoling reflection that his honour was restored, his reputation cleared from the foul charge of treason and the accusations of Monthault; his name inscribed on the roll of England's loyal worthies, and the consecrating seal of death fixed on his memory. Dr. Beaumont endeavoured to make her wishes aspire to that happier world where she would rejoin him. He talked of the "order, nature, number, and obedience of angels;" and of her dear Eustace as now joined to their blessed society. He told her, that her lover and herself were still members of the same family, she suffering, he glorified. He pointed out to her those texts of Scripture which imply recognition in Heaven, and in particular mentioned the hope expressed by St. Paul, of presenting his Colossian converts to his Lord, and the Apostles sitting on thrones to judge the tribes of Israel, who therefore must be respectively known as disciples and countrymen. Sometimes he would try to excite emulation, by pointing out the conduct of Isabel, who endured a similar affliction in the destruction of her fondest hopes, but whose spirits were supported by constant bodily exertion, while her mental faculties were no less exercised by fresh contrivances, at once to amuse her father, and to add to the security of his retreat. These efforts, he said, gave such an energy to her mind, that she was able to give instead of requiring consolation. Dr. Beaumont attempted to revive his daughter's taste for the beauties of nature; shewed her the rich variety of mountains, dales, woods, lakes, and rivers, which embellished the vicinity of her native village, and especially that most exhilarating of terrestrial objects, the sun rising to enlighten a world which bursts at his approach into splendid beauty.
Constantia listened, reproved her own weakness, and wept. Yet the pious admonitions of her father, and the example of her cousin, assisted by the meliorating influence of time, had a gradual though slow effect, in changing grief into meek resignation. Her lute, long endeared by the remembrance of Eustace, was now attuned to deplore the death of him who had restored her the treasure. When sorrow can flow in poesy, it becomes more plaintive than agonizing; and possibly the reader will be pleased to see that the long-protracted years of Constantia's anguish were soothed by those alleviations, which, in mercy to man, are permitted imperceptibly to soften the ravages of death.
It is thus that afflicted survivors, in talking and meditating on those who are gone before them to the unseen world, derive an enjoyment from musing on the past, and from anticipating in the future what the present is not able to afford.
CONSTANTIA TO ISABEL.
And dost thou mourn the sad estate Of widow'd love? then silent be; And hark! while for my murder'd mate I wake the lute's soft melody.
How dear to me the midnight moon, As through the clouds she sails along, For then with spirits I commune, And Eustace listens to my song.
Oh, not to her who wildly mourns Her noble lover basely slain— Oh, not to her the morn returns With pleasure laughing in her train.
So look'd it once, when Eustace sung Of plighted love's perennial joys, Now silent is that tuneful tongue, That graceful form the worm destroys.
In vain the feather'd warblers soar, Mid floods of many colour'd light; I hear them not, but still deplore The eye of Beauty quench'd in night.
How in the battle flam'd his crest, Refulgent as the morning star: But ruthless murder pierc'd that breast, Which met unhurt the storm of war.
My Love, "how beautiful, how brave;" Still, still, her oaths thy Constance keeps; The laurel decks the victor's grave, O'er thine the faithful willow weeps.
The disturbed state of England at this time permitted no long indulgence of domestic sorrow. "Griefs of an hour's age did hiss the speaker," and pity and sympathy often claimed the falling tear, which had been wrung forth by "own distress." Ribblesdale was again disturbed by the march of hostile troops. The young King had yielded to the solicitations of his Scottish subjects, and transported himself to that country. Less scrupulous than his father, he swore to observe the conditions of their covenant; and in return, they promised to give him their crown, and assist him to recover the English diadem. No sooner was the Royal standard displayed on the hills of Caledonia, than the welcome signal revived the hopes and unsheathed the swords of the southern Loyalists. The brave Earl of Derby left his retreat in the isle of Man, to spend the remains of his noble fortune in his Master's cause; and, as the event proved, to sacrifice his life. He returned eagerly to Lancashire, and collecting what forces the fallen interests of his family could supply, waited the commands of his Sovereign.
In the mean time the indefatigable Cromwell hastened from Ireland; and assuming the command which Fairfax had refused to accept, marched the English forces into Scotland, and defeated the covenanters, who, under pretence of restoring the young King, actually held him prisoner, compelling him to act in such subservience to their designs as to sacrifice those, who, without any sinister views, risked their lives in his support. The humiliation of these pretended friends by the victory of Cromwell enabled the King to burst the fetters of Argyle, and throw himself into the arms of the true Loyalists, with whom he concerted measures and recruited his army, while Cromwell refreshed his fatigued and harassed troops at Edinburgh. Determined to appeal to the loyalty of a nation, now known to be weary of an unsettled government, the King suddenly executed the brave design of passing by Cromwell's army, and marched into England. He was joined in Lancashire by the Earl of Deby: rash counsels were hastily adopted; and, instead of concentrating the force they possessed, and pointing it at one great object, the Earl was required to secure the north-western provinces with a power unequal to the duty; while the King, weakened by his division, marched rapidly towards London, hoping to reach it before he could be overtaken by Cromwell.
The report of an enterprising able young Prince, (for so at this time the second Charles was reputed to be) coming to reclaim by the sword his right to the crown, which had been torn from the lifeless trunk of his father, on whose grave a hecatomb of regicides was expected to be offered, alarmed all those who had participated in the crimes of treason and murder. The forces of the King were, as usual, exaggerated by report, the hopes of the Loyalist turned possibilities into certainties, a general rising was expected, and it was confidently said had already taken place. Rumours were circulated that in subduing Scotland Cromwell had so weakened himself, that it was impossible for him to pursue the King; and while the less criminal entertained hopes of being able to make terms with their Sovereign, the immediate partizans of the Usurper saw no safety, but in supporting the power of one who they knew must (like themselves) be excepted out of every amnesty.
Among those whom guilt had made desperate, we must include Lord and Lady Bellingham. We have seen that the former sacrificed his nephew to avoid being accused as a secret favourer of the royal cause, a charge he knew Cromwell had determined to urge against him, as a safe way of removing a staunch republican, who would oppose the ultimate views of his now ripe ambition. Eustace however drew the lot of death to no other purpose than to increase the remorse which occasionally tortured the bosom of Bellingham. A mutiny broke out the moment after the volley was fired, that sent the brave cavaliers to join in the grave the royal martyr whom they had served and deplored; for the rebel General, had awakened too many suspicions, and had too much offended his soldiers by his temporizing conduct, for this sacrifice to expiate his faults. It was remarked, that he never dealt in invective against his opponents, from whence it was inferred, that he wished to treat with them. He neglected the praying agitators, and therefore they called him Agag, the Amalekite, commanding the host of Israel. He abridged the liberty of the soldiers, and of course straitened the arm of the Lord. He disapproved of plunder and military contribution, consequently endeavoured to make the presbyterians popular at the expence of the godly. At this time these opponents hated each other still more than they did episcopacy; and a presbyterian general, commanding an army who claimed unbounded licence in judgment and conduct, must be condemned for a traitor by that unerring rule, the voice of the majority. Lord Bellingham was therefore arrested by the agitators, and sent prisoner to London at the instant when Eustace fell.
Imprisonment and the scaffold were frequently in those times synonymous. The fallen criminal saw his danger in its full horrors; and, while maintaining an inordinate attachment to this world, he dreaded the future consequence of his unrepented crimes. He had not numbed the early feelings of religion by the cold torpor of Atheism; nor could he persuade himself to indulge in those reveries of election and impeccability, which had now saturated his Lady's mind. He felt himself to be an accountable being, not a collection of animated atoms associated by chance, which, when the vital spark was extinguished, would crumble into dust without record or responsibility. He knew he was a sinner by choice, who had abused his free-will; not a passive vessel of wrath, pre-destined to destruction. No inflating ebullition of enthusiasm told him he was become one of those favourites of Heaven who cannot forfeit salvation. He therefore clung to this wretched life, as to the edge of a precipice that beetled over the gulph of perdition. Despair was with him the substitute of repentance. He looked back on his offences to his King and his friend, convinced that they had exceeded the bounds of mercy. Often did he deplore the utter impossibility of his regaining that state of contented innocence, when he and Allan Neville shared each other's hearts, before the superior qualities and nobler expectations of his friend excited his envy and ambition. He adverted to that time when his love for the beautiful Lady Eleanor was pure and generous, before she had wrought upon him to become the instrument and participator of her criminal ambition and insatiable rapacity. He had not the audacity to think a life stained by perfidy and injustice, made him fitter for the reception of extraordinary grace. The external propriety of his manners, and the patronage he liberally afforded to the divines of the Rump-party, had gained him the reputation of a man of extraordinary piety; but the austerities he practised, and the devotions in which he joined, afforded no balsam to his woes. He had been early taught that restitution to the wronged was one of the evidences of real penitence. His title and fortune were the right-hand; he could not cut off the pride of life to which he was wedded. Had he never known greatness, he would now have been happy as Walter de Vallance, living in a state of respectable competence. He fell into the common fault of incorrigible offenders; lamenting that he had not subdued the first cravings of desire, and wishing to recall the irremediable past, while to reform the present was too vast a labour.
Sometimes he had persuaded himself, that if he knew Allan Neville were alive, he would purchase peace of conscience by relinquishing his usurped possessions; but no sooner was he certified of that fact, and beheld in Eustace the noble heir he had so basely injured, than his base spirit shrunk into its narrow cell, and at that moment he would have given worlds to have had the father and son cut off by any hand but his own. Equally affected by the fear of death and of adversity, he yielded Eustace to a fate which some faint remains of humanity made him deplore, while a consciousness that this slaughter tended to confirm his own title, reminded him that, by reaping the advantage of a cruel unjust sentence which he had power to remit, he was virtually his murderer. Such he knew the world would esteem him, if ever the story transpired; and could it be long concealed? His influence with the ruling powers was evidently on the wane; the star, which was now Lord of the ascendant, shed on him a malign influence. Abjured by those whom he had served, hated by the royalists, and despised by all parties; could a more pitiable object be found, than a timorous, susceptible, falling villain; conscious of guilt, aware of danger, convinced of the necessity of repentance; but too much attached to temporal enjoyments to set about it.
Lord Bellingham's distresses were not alleviated by domestic comfort. I have before observed, that his Lady had embraced the party of Cromwell, and had taken her religious creed from the fanatics, as best calculated to compose her fears, and leave her conduct under the mis-rule of her irregular passions. She had long hated and despised her husband, on whom she threw the whole blame of the crimes she had excited him to commit, at the same time that she took pains to stifle in him all the better feelings of remorse, by telling him that it was his want of faith, which excluded him from reaping the benefit of the promise, that the saints should inherit the earth. When she spoke of worldly riches, of honour, or of pleasure, she called them, "dust in the balance," carnal delights, and Satan's bird-lime, which kept the soul from flying to heaven; yet no miser ever clung to his gold with more tenacity than she to every earthly good, that could in any wise contribute to her own advantage. From a vain dissipated coquette, proud of making conquests, and wedded to a life of frivolity, she was changed to a rapturous enthusiast, certain of divine favour upon grounds equally inconsistent with reason and Scripture. With a still carnalized fancy, she adorned the heaven which she felt sure of eternally inhabiting, with the splendor and luxury she had enjoyed on earth, and thus tricked out a Mahommedan paradise rather than the pure and spiritual enjoyments of glorified beings. With all the zeal and animosity of a new convert, she tried to make her son and husband adopt these notions; and failing of success, she thought herself at liberty to renounce them both; and could she have secured a perpetual residence in this world, or transported her beloved wealth and greatness to the other, the death of Lord Sedley would have given her no more concern than that of the Earl of Bellingham; but looking upon the former as the medium through which her name must be conveyed to posterity, she felt an interest in his preservation, totally distinct from maternal affection; and to this his fine qualities served rather as an alloy, than an incentive. A youth weak enough to be really a convert, or sufficiently base to have affected being one to her opinions, a flatterer of her faults, and the tool of her designs, would have been invested by her erroneous judgment with those high deservings which actually adorned her noble offspring, though she wanted penetration to discern them.
When the agitators arrested Lord Bellingham, he knew that his son had been sent with Cromwell's detachment against the Duke of Hamilton, and that the victorious General returned to London in triumph, while no sure tidings of the illustrious youth's safety cheered the prison-hours of the wretched father. Important events succeeded each other with such rapidity, that there was no time to bring forward the charge against an imprisoned General, whose rank only made him an object of curiosity, while his conduct exposed him to contempt. New modelling the House of Commons; expediting the vote of non-addresses; the trial and execution of the King; the annihilation of the House of Peers; the sacrifice of many illustrious and noble Loyalists, and the complete establishment of military tyranny under the name of a republic, engaged the attention of Cromwell, till a little time previous to his undertaking the reduction of Ireland to the same yoke that England bore with silent but sullen indignation, when he judged it expedient to endeavour to prevent his enemies from taking advantage of his being at a distance from the chief seat of political intrigue. He knew that Lord Bellingham was intrusted with the secrets of the Commonwealth's-men, and determined to pay him a conciliatory visit in prison. He met the captive Earl with mock humility, and sycophantic friendship; talked largely of his talents and deserts; lamented that he should fall into the displeasure of the nation, and spoke of the lenity he was accused of showing to the Loyalists, as a frailty he could pity, having himself fallen into a similar temptation, when he was moved in the spirit to spare Charles Stewart, till the Lord, whom he sought in prayer, showed him it was not to be.
A measured smile smoothed the features of the stern conspirator while he spoke, and his eye seemed with meek simplicity to tell all the secrets of his own soul, while in reality it read that of his observer. Lord Bellingham thought this change from hatred to esteem wonderful; yet the love of life made him a ready dupe, and he fell into the snare which he suspected. He could easily justify himself from the charge of secret attachment to royalty, and Cromwell seemed to require no other test to admit him to his confidence. He told the Earl that he would open to him his whole heart; he deplored the licence of evil tongues, and the endeavours of the malignants to disunite the godly. His own views, he said, had been grossly misrepresented. It was reported, that he wished to make himself King; but he abhorred the name, as anti-christian, and prayed that whenever the heathenish sound was uttered, a Samuel might arise among the prophets, and call down lightning and rain even in wheat-harvest. The Parliament, whose humble instrument he was, had forced honours upon him, and had commanded him to go to Ireland, and extirpate the bloody Papists, as Joshua had done the idolatrous Canaanites. On his return, he trusted he should lay the sword on the mercy-seat, that is, beside the mace of the Speaker, to whom he would on his knees give up all his employments, and apply himself to the care of his own soul, which was a burthen great enough for any man. And he trusted the Lord would give peace to Israel, and build up the desolate places of Zion, to which purpose he would put up a prayer, wherein he required Lord Bellingham to join.
After their devotions, Bellingham assured Cromwell that the wishes of his party went but little further than what he proposed to do. Considering the established forms of Geneva and Scotland as the most scriptural, it was their intention to adopt the same discipline in spiritual affairs. As to temporal rule, they thought a body of wise men, elected by a free people, the likeliest way of rendering England respectable among foreign nations, and happy in itself. He quoted the examples of Greece and Rome in ancient times, and of the Italian republic in modern, to illustrate his sentiments. Cromwell listened with apparent conviction, professed that he had not studied these things, being only in himself an ignorant sinful man, though chosen by Providence to be a mighty instrument to level thrones and pull down the ungodly. He then lamented that so able a counsellor as Bellingham should hang like a bucket upon a peg, instead of being employed to draw water from a cistern; and, promising to endeavour to set him again high among the people, he took his leave. This interview having sufficiently apprized him of the designs of the Rump-party, he resolved to keep Lord Bellingham in safe custody, to remove their adherents from every office of trust, and to prevent all attempts to appeal to the people by calling a free Parliament. And as he intended that his campaign in Ireland should not be protracted by any compunctious visitings of mercy, but that it should more resemble the sweeping hurricane that devastates a province, than the purifying wind that renovates a corrupted atmosphere, he trusted that his habitual celerity, and the vigilance and fidelity of the host of spies he so liberally paid, would enable him to return to England before any measures could be taken to sap the dominion whose foundations were laid in treachery and treason.
The progress of his bloody standard in Ireland was interrupted by the young King's appearance in Scotland. Cromwell transported himself to that kingdom with incredible dispatch, and assumed the command of that division of the army which had been nominally retained by Fairfax, who, tired of his guilty employment, had, since the murder of the King, been evidently indisposed to the service, and now peremptorily refused to continue to act as general. With these forces Cromwell met the army of Scotch enthusiasts at Dunbar. There was indeed equal fanaticism in both armies; but the difference was, the English were soldiers as well as preachers, and their General used fanaticism as an engine to move others, not as the rule of his own actions. He wore piety as a mask; he used it to sharpen his sword, but he never converted it into a pilot. Supreme power was the port at which he aimed, and profound worldly wisdom, and the most acute penetration into the character and designs of others, assisted him to steer his vessel with astonishing security through the rocks and quicksands that opposed his course.
From the retrospective view which the narrative required, I now turn to speak of the alarm caused by the young King's march into England. Though Cromwell was personally in Scotland, he continued to govern in London through his agents, and they urged the approach of the Royalists as a pretence for resorting to severer measures with all who were hostile to their employer. They suggested, that since the King was now openly supported by the Presbyterians, it would be expedient that party should defray the expences of the war. Lord Bellingham, they said, had long been suspected of loyal propensities; and at this moment the sequestration of his effects might answer a twofold purpose—to confirm the fidelity of the army by discharging their arrears—and to punish the Presbyterians through one of their leaders. Advice, sanctioned by the approbation of the General, took the form of a command. The Parliament readily complied with a suggestion that wore in its aspect the pretence of relieving the well-disposed. The estates were immediately voted to belong to the Commonwealth; the Earl was ordered into closer confinement; and sequestrators were sent down to take possession of Bellingham-Castle.
It was by this event that the feelings of the Countess were roused from the long apathy of self-enjoyment. Forgetting that she had herself furnished Cromwell with the information which first excited her suspicions against her Lord, she loudly complained that, not content with keeping him in prison on a charge which could not be proved, they were now injuring his innocent family by seizing their inheritance. The sequestrators were not sent to listen to remonstrances, but to act with speed and decision; and Lady Bellingham now found banishment from her home, and confiscation of all her property, were serious evils, though, when inflicted on others, she had always viewed them with great philosophy, considering them either as judgments on the ungodly, or correctives of carnal appetites, to complain of which showed a want of grace.