Her natural inconsiderateness and self-conceit did not permit her to penetrate into the motives, or to discover the character of, Cromwell. He had plied her with the species of flattery most agreeable to her present turn of thought, pretending to ask her opinion on dark texts, and to be influenced by her judgment of gifted preachers. She never suspected that he had converted her into one of the steps which formed his ascent to greatness; but, believing him her fast friend, ascribed the order of sequestration to their common enemies. He was still in Scotland; but she determined to fly to him, state her wrongs, and implore redress. The danger of the journey less alarmed her than the risk of poverty and disgrace in remaining inactive. A rumour of the King's having arrived in London expedited her resolves. Ever impressed with the idea of her own importance, she even fancied that avowing her fidelity to Cromwell at such a period would give her a claim on his gratitude, and thus insure success to her suit.
She had proceeded in her journey as far as Ribblesdale, when her coach was stopt by an infuriated populace, who, hearing she was a partizan of Cromwell, avowedly, seeking his protection, surrounded her carriage with every mark of derision and insult, and even took off her horses to prevent her proceeding. The cruel depredations which the republicans had committed in their march to Scotland the preceding year, gave a private stimulus to the hatred they felt for the murderer of a King, now justly dear to their recovered reason. Mortified that the dignity of her aspect and the splendour of her suite had not overawed these rustics; alarmed for the safety of her person, and exposed to the certain inconvenience of passing the night, unhoused, in a mountainous country, even if she were permitted to proceed next day, Lady Bellingham sat trembling in her carriage, in which were her waiting-gentlewoman, chaplain, and gentleman-usher, all highly useful to her in their separate departments and joint occupations of submissive flatterers, but all incompetent to advise what was to be done, and incapable of assisting her in this extremity.
Nothing affecting the welfare or the moral character of Ribblesdale was uninteresting to Dr. Beaumont, who, though restrained from receiving the emoluments, was punctual in fulfilling the duties of his pastoral care. At the first intelligence of a riot in the parish, he hastened to Morgan, and endeavoured to make him sensible that it was his duty to protect a helpless woman. Morgan was extremely doubtful how to act; for, not being endowed with the power of looking into futurity, he knew not which party would finally prevail. The magnified reports which he had heard of the King's successes would have made him turn Loyalist, had he not known that Cromwell, with a victorious army, was hastening from the North, and that therefore it would be impolitic to offend him. He thought the best way would be not to interfere; and, secretly cursing the lady for exposing him to this dilemma, he observed the mountain-air for once would brace her nerves, and furnish her with an adventure to talk of as long as she lived. Davies was unwilling to open his doors to a stranger till he knew if she would pay for her accommodations. Dr. Beaumont therefore was left to perform the service of knight-errant all alone.
He arrived on the common where the carriage was stopped in the dusk of the evening, just at the time when Lady Bellingham's fears had so far subdued her haughtiness as to change her threats into tears and intreaties. The Doctor's admonitions soon prevailed on the villagers to repent their conduct. They were ready to restore the horses, and refrain from further molestation; but it was now too dark for her to proceed in safety, and not a creature seemed willing to afford a lodging to one whom they supposed to be no better than a mistress to Old Noll, the good King's murderer.
Dr. Beaumont's finances were now in such a state as compelled him to huswife his hospitality. The money which young De Vallance had insisted on advancing to supply his probable necessities, had been appropriated to the actual wants of the King's army, as it marched through Lancashire; yet the good man's native courtesy still inclined him to assist the perplexities of the affluent, while his benevolence prompted him to relieve the distresses of the poor. He accosted Lady Bellingham with an air of dignified modesty. His means, he said, were scanty, and his humble dwelling was now the abode of care and affliction, yet he thought it would afford her comforts superior to passing the night in her carriage; and he requested, if she condescended to allow him to be her host, she would overlook the homeliness of her fare in his sincere wish to obviate the inconveniences which the rude treatment of his parishioners had brought upon her.
It was not Lady Bellingham's method to look further than to her own comforts. A man whose air and language bespoke a gentleman, but whose coarse thread-bare garb indicated poverty, could not have gained her attention if he spoke with the tongue of an angel, except so far as he ministered to her accommodation. Turning her eyes to the ruins, which he pointed out as his residence, she uttered an exclamation of contempt and surprise, to convince him that she had been accustomed to such magnificence, that it would be an infinite condescension in one of her refinement to stoop to his society. Meantime her retinue, finding the contents of the travelling chest would furnish a sufcient repast, urged her to accept the shelter of a roof however humble; and Lady Bellingham, with a slight inclination of her head, significant of her condescension, ordered the horses to be put to, to draw her to the door. Dr. Beaumont observed that the road would not be practicable for her carriage, on which Her Ladyship required her gentleman-usher to hand her out. "How dreadfully inconvenient," said she, "to walk so far! I wonder, Friend, you did not take care to have a carriage-road." Dr. Beaumont smiled, and replied that public events had pared off all his superfluities; but Lady Bellingham asserted that a drive to your own door was one of the necessaries of life, and her three attendants immediately and unanimously confirmed her opinion.
Mrs. Mellicent had been informed that her brother was bringing a lady of great quality, who was running away from the King to join Oliver Cromwell, to spend the night under his roof; and though nothing could exceed the superlative contempt she entertained for disloyal nobility, the honour of the Beaumont blood, and respect for her brother, determined her to give his guest the best reception in her power. Her banquets, like Eve's, consisted of little beside fruits and herbs, and the only ornaments she could arrange in the apartments were flowers; but she had preserved the damask table-suit of her own spinning; and the gold brocade gown, received as an heir-loom from her mother, was in high preservation. She thought an exhibition of these would convince the rebel lady, that though the King's friends now wore sad-coloured camlet, they had once been people of consequence. She received Lady Bellingham with one of her stiffest courtesies at the door of their best apartment, and motioned with her hand for her to sit down with an air that spoke conscious equality, and a determination not to be disconcerted by one who required her hospitality. Constantia stood behind her aunt, pale, dejected, clad in the deepest weeds of woe. Isabel did not appear. Her beloved father had long required her constant attendance. With infinite gratitude to Heaven, she acknowledged its goodness in again restoring to him the use of that reason which enabled him to appreciate her filial excellence. He had so far recovered the use of his limbs as to be able to walk, supported by her arm; and it was her custom, at the first dawn of morning, to lead him from his narrow cell to enjoy the refreshing breeze, and the exhilarating glory of the rising sun, while old Williams climbed the crumbling battlements of Waverly-hall to give notice if any stranger approached.
Mrs. Mellicent's dress and manner, preserving the memorial of the past generation, drew a supercilious smile from Lady Bellingham, who, in the obscurity and penury to which she perceived a loyal Episcopalian was reduced, plainly discerned a visible judgment. Her satellites easily interpreted her sentiments, and considered the spinster as a fair mark of contempt and ridicule; but as their patroness had not deigned to intimate her opinion of Dr. Beaumont and his daughter, they knew not in what light she would please to have them considered. Her Ladyship threw a cold repulsive glance over Mrs. Mellicent's culinary arrangements, declared, in a tone which belied her expressions, that every thing was very excellent, but that her unfortunate health would not allow her to indulge except in a particular species of food. She then ordered her travelling chest to be opened, and the liqueurs, conserves, and pastry, to be displayed by the side of Mrs. Mellicent's sallads, oat-cake, and metheglin, inviting her, in a most gracious manner, to partake of the pilgrim's wallet. But Mrs. Mellicent had the same antipathy to court delicacies which Lady Bellingham had to country fare; and, with the independent spirit of a Cincinnatus, gravely preferring "a radish and an egg," continued to eat them leisurely with a satisfaction derived from a consideration that they were not purchased by any sacrifice of integrity. She secretly pondered on the base propensities which the rebel cause engendered, when even a woman of rank, who had known better manners, was so vitiated by the company she had lately kept, as to esteem respectable, uncomplaining poverty a fair object of contempt.
It would have been difficult even for modern volubility to have supplied conversation in a group thus circumstanced; but two hundred years ago long intervals of silence in a country-party were not extraordinary. During these pauses Mrs. Mellicent's eyes were fixed on a large blue Campanula that she had trimmed to cover the open chimney; and Lady Bellingham, disdaining to admire any thing extrinsic, directed her's to the diamond solitaire suspended on her bosom. She had given strict orders to conceal her name; and if she had ever heard that her injured brother sought shelter in Ribblesdale, and married the sister of a Dr. Beaumont, the events that consoled his afflictions were much too insignificant to be treasured in her memory. The party therefore met as strangers in opposite interests. The hour of retiring was anticipated. Constantia attended Lady Bellingham to the apartment formerly occupied by her worthy son; and after the common inquiries of courtesy withdrew, much to the discomfort of the waiting gentlewoman, on whom the double fatigue of chambermaid and mistress of the robes now devolved. Lady Bellingham being inclined to silence, the dignified Abigail was restrained from speaking; and having no invitation to share her Lady's bed, with secret indignation at these strange people, not having the forethought to provide her with another, she was compelled to rest herself in the window-seat, and convert the night into a vigil.
A belief in apparitions was at that time universal, and by no means confined to the humble ranks of life. Imagination could not conceive a more suitable scene for the gambols of supernatural beings than the ruins adjoining the humble tenement which the Beaumonts inhabited. The unfortunate, waiting-gentlewoman was kept all night in continual tremor by horrible visions and dreadful sounds: yet to wake her Lady, who went to bed extremely out of humour, was a still more daring exercise of courage than to be a sole witness of the alarming noises produced by the wind rushing through vaults and crevices, or the fearful reflection of a thistle by moonlight, waving on the top of a crumbling arch. After a night spent in the exercise of such comparative heroism, Mrs. Abigail hailed with pleasure the return of dawn; and as ghosts and goblins always post off to Erebus when Aurora's flag gilds the mountains, imagined she might now go to sleep in safety. But she was soon roused by the sound of voices, and beheld an indisputable apparition. An aged grey-headed man, bent double, clad in a loose gown, and leaning on a staff, crept out of the very pile which she had been so fearfully contemplating all night. He was attended by a female figure, who carefully seated him on a bank opposite her window. The occupation of these spectres was no less extraordinary than the time of their appearance, for they seemed engaged in what, she thought, ghosts always omitted—devotion. Yet ghosts they must be, since nothing human could have dared to pass the night in such a scene of desolation. She continued to gaze, in petrified horror, till the female apparition rising from its knees, after adjusting the hair, and wiping the face of its companion, sung the following stanzas, with a voice resembling that of human beings, except that its harmonious notes exceeded in sweetness any thing Mrs. Abigail had ever heard:
Oh, sooth me with the words of love, Heal me with pity's balsams dear; For I have heard the proud reprove, And felt the wrongs of men austere.
I gaz'd on grandeur's gay career, Alone distracted and aggriev'd; None stopp'd to wipe my bitter tear, My bursting heart unnotic'd heav'd.
The happy hate to see distress, It tells a tale they dread to know, And guilt, tho' thron'd in mightiness, In every victim sees a foe.
Where does the pamper'd worldling go? To those who spread their banners brave— Lonely and sad, the house of woe Is like the robber's mountain cave.
On life's sad annals if we dwell, Do they not speak of trust betray'd; Of merit rising to excel, On which the canker envy prey'd;
Of youth by enterprise upstaid, Till sad experience broke the spell; And slighted age a ruin laid, Fit only for the narrow cell?
Yet of the tortures that betide A feeling heart, the worst are they Which bid it never more confide On those who were its earthly stay.
Once guided by religion's ray, True as the sun they seem'd to move; Now led by meteor-lights astray, Estrang'd in honour and in love.
The waiting-gentlewoman's astonishment at this vision soon burst out into an exclamation, which unfortunately broke Lady Bellingham's slumber, and drew her also to the window. Her lamentations at the misery of having her rest disturbed, were soon interrupted by consternation at the objects she beheld, which were no other than her brother and his daughter enjoying their morning liberation from the dungeon. The rising sun shone on the countenance of the former, and maugre the ravages of time, grief, and distraction, she recognised his features with a degree of agony which only the guilty can feel. The resemblance of Isabel to her father increased those emotions; the words of her song, uttered with distinct emphasis, were in unison with the suggestions of an awakened conscience. Lady Bellingham gave a loud shriek, and fell into the arms of her attendant, according to whose account the two spirits, at the same moment, sunk into the earth enveloped in flames.
The screams of Lady Bellingham, re-echoed by Mrs. Abigail's, presently drew the Beaumont-ladies into their apartment. They had neglected to apprize Isabel of the arrival of strangers, and were glad to find her morning services to her father had been thus misconstrued. Mrs. Mellicent gravely allowed the possibility of ghosts inhabiting ruins; but observed, that as they had never injured the Waverly family, they had always found them peaceable neighbours; and wondered at the Lady's alarm, since from the little she had said the preceding day, it was plain she considered herself as a favourite of Heaven, and under its especial protection. Mrs. Abigail protested that her Lady was one of the devoutest, sweetest and handsomest creatures in the world; but observed, since she had been obliged to leave Castle-Bellingham, she was grown very nervous. Mrs. Mellicent eagerly inquired if it was Lady Bellingham whom they sheltered; Mrs. Abigail answered in the affirmative, but conjured her not to own that she had made the discovery, or she should be torn in pieces. Mrs. Mellicent indignantly threw down the burnt feathers and sal volatile, which she till then humanely applied, and emphatically observing it was no wonder she feared apparitions, hastened to consult Dr. Beaumont on this emergency.
It was not now a proper time to confront the injured Allan Neville and his unnatural sister; the reported success of the King's enterprise must first be ascertained, and Mrs. Mellicent trusted the time was not far distant when this domestic and public traitress would be made not only to tremble, but to suffer. Recollections of past disappointments made Dr. Beaumont less sanguine, but he agreed, that, confirming Lady Bellingham's alarm, and removing her instantly from their house, was the wisest course; and as soon as she recovered from her fit, she was herself all impatience to quit a mansion replete with horrors, and destitute of comforts. She coldly thanked Dr. Beaumont, who attended her to her carriage, for attempting to be hospitable, but declared her astonishment that his brain was not turned in such a dwelling; and he as coldly answered, that a clear conscience reconciled the body to privations, and endued the soul with fortitude. But neither the eloquence of Dr. Beaumont, nor her own anxiety for the Evellins, could induce Mrs. Mellicent to submit to the civility of an adieu. She even shook her fist at the wicked wretch, as she called her, from the window. "Brother," said she, to Dr. Beaumont, who reproved her for the violence of her indignation, "I only wish her to incur the enmity of the Baal she now worships, and to suffer with him as many years of misery as she has inflicted on the noble veteran whose lonely couch our dear Isabel smooths; and while her youthful beauty withers in a dungeon, pillows a father's destitute head on her uncomplaining bosom."
 This subject, we are told by Isaac Walton, employed the dying Hooker.
Art thou not risen by miracle from death? Thy shroud is fall'n from off thee, and the grave Was bid to give thee up, that thou might'st come The messenger of grace and goodness to me.
The welcome which the young King received from his English subjects did not answer the sanguine expectations of his friends. Contrary to the rumours that were industriously circulated, the system of terror which Cromwell had established prevented any regular levies being made for his assistance. The means of the old royalists were exhausted; they had now little but their lives to offer, and the junction of unconnected individuals afforded but a scanty and ineffectual muster. It was soon found that Cromwell repassed the Grampian hills with inconceivable swiftness, and, pouring along with collected forces, dispersed the scattered troops which the King's friends were endeavouring to collect, even before they could be trained to arms. The King's army, fatigued by a long march, destitute of necessaries, but slowly recruiting in numbers, and virtually diminishing in strength, soon found the design of seizing London beyond its ability. "The loyal city of Worcester," as it has the honour of being pre-eminently styled, opened its gates to refresh its Sovereign, and offered itself as a temporary retreat, where he might muster his forces, and re-consider his measures. Here the King was proclaimed, but the events which attended that solemnity augured ill to the actual duration of his reign. The Earl of Derby, accompanied by a few faithful friends, posted into the town to bring the intelligence of his own defeat, and the consequent relapse of the north-western counties under the yoke of Cromwell. This bad news was rapidly followed by intelligence, that the enemy was in full pursuit. Alarm and suspicion were visible in every countenance; divided opinions distracted the royal councils. Some measures were pursued with rashness; others, more eligible, neglected from timidity. Many were ready to fight and to suffer, but a wise, calm superintendence was wanting to prevent valour and generous loyalty from shedding its precious blood in vain.
The result of the battle of Worcester, the miraculous escape of the King, the death of many faithful adherents, the execution of others, especially of the noble Earl of Derby, in the very centre of his feudal greatness, with every mark of barbarous ignominy, and the reduction of his heroic Countess and her children to the most extreme state of poverty and distress are well known. Arthur De Vallance was an actor in some of these scenes. His plan of quitting England was renounced, when he knew, that, by remaining, he could be of service to his Prince. He repaired to the young King at Stirling as soon as Cromwell's victory at Dunbar had taken him out of the hands of Argyle; accompanied him in his march to the South, and bravely used his sword in his service at that fatal overthrow, which seemed to exterminate the monarchy of England beyond all hope of revival. It is well known that Cromwell, without giving time to his own army to rest, after their long march from Scotland, pounced upon the King's troops at Worcester during their first consternation; and, leaving a part of his forces to contend with that portion of the King's who fought valiantly, entered the city along with those flying fugitives whom the terror of his name had dispersed at the first onset, almost at the same instant that the King, disguised as a peasant, rushed out at the opposite gate, dismissed all his friends and attendants, and concealed himself in an adjoining wood. All command having ceased, and no rallying point being established, it became the duty of all to consult their individual safety. Jobson continued inseparably attached to Sedley's service; he again advised a retreat into Wales, and being well acquainted with the country, they had the good fortune to reach the principality before the enemy had secured the passes, though that was one of their first measures, to prevent the retreat of the King into a part of his dominions where he might be most easily concealed, as well from the nature of the country as from the loyal disposition of the inhabitants.
It was the design of De Vallance to repair to the isle of Man, and offer his services to the Countess of Derby, who, it was reported, was able and determined to retain that insulated spot, and establish it as the asylum of persecuted loyalty. He journeyed through the most unfrequented roads, trusting for his support to the hospitality of a brave, unsophisticated race, who could hardly endure the nominal yoke of regicides, and preserved the sanctuary of their domestic retreats unpolluted by the presence of spies and informers. From these, his occasional hosts, De Vallance learned many woeful particulars of the miseries of the prisoners taken at Worcester, "who were driven like cattle to London, many of them suffered to perish for want of food, or from pestilential diseases arising from crowded prisons, and the survivors sold for slaves to the plantations." Such was the freedom these pseudo-friends of liberty afforded to those who dissented from their opinions; and thus was loyalty (for no other crime was laid to their charge) punished with a severity, which regular governments scruple to use against the most atrocious offenders. Nor should these tyrannous acts be ascribed so much to the rancorous nature of the victors as to the natural tendency of power obtained by illegal violent means. They who rise to greatness by insurrection, find themselves compelled to renounce the principles and violate the promises to which they owed their exaltation. The greatest tyrants have ever been those who experimentally know that rigorous coercion is the only way of restraining popular fury. Fear is the incentive and justifier of cruelty. Man is rarely disposed gratuitously to torment his fellow-creatures. The world has indeed produced Roman, Mahommedan, and Indian, despots, who seemed to receive pleasure from the sufferings of their victims, abstracted from every other consideration; but these instances have been too rare to permit us to consider such an infernal propensity as a just characteristic of human nature. Mercy is more grateful to the feelings of even bad men than rigorous punishment; but as it cannot with safety be exercised in unsettled governments, which must awe the subdued into passive submission, before they can reward the obedient, some of the most powerful dissuasives against exciting popular commotions arise from the despotism in which they are sure to terminate, the malignant passions which they excite, and the horrible atrocities that often spring from no worse motive than the necessity of securing ill-acquired pre-eminence.
The melancholy state of the kingdom, added to the general anxiety for the King's welfare, of whose escape to France no certain tidings had been received, overpowered the hitherto-heroic patience of De Vallance, and made him on a public, as well as on a private, account, feel weary of a world, which seemed left to the misrule of successful guilt and prosperous hypocrisy. He had now travelled into the county of Flint, from whence he hoped to gain a passage to the isle of Man, when he received intelligence that, during his confinement, the Earl of Derby had signed an order for its surrender, together with all his castles, with which his intrepid Countess immediately complied; vainly hoping a sacrifice of the hereditary possessions of the family might be received as a commutation for her husband's life. Mold and Hope were already garrisoned by the Parliament; and thus after a long and difficult journey, during which he had encountered many hair-breadth 'scapes, De Vallance found himself still surrounded with enemies, destitute not only of shelter, but nearly of resources, and with no other alternative, than to be an indigent fugitive, a prisoner, or to try if, by being a participator in the crimes of his parents, he could, by the influence which either of them possessed with the government, procure a pardon for what he deemed the best action of his life, taking arms for his Sovereign.
It was in a little village near Mold-Castle, that these reflections, combining with the effects of fatigue and hardship, produced an indisposition which confined him to the inn, and compelled him to ruminate deeply on his future prospects. It was now plainly seen that the European courts were more disposed to form alliances with a potent Usurper, than to forward the restoration of an unfortunate Prince, to whose connexions a cold protection and scanty support were reluctantly afforded, and even the ties of blood sacrificed to intimidation or ambition. The situation of English Loyalists abroad was in every respect deplorable. They were studiously slighted by the governments under whose wing they sheltered, and exposed to the insults of the triumphant republicans, who, on the contrary, were courted and flattered.
How greatly soever Cromwell subdued and oppressed England by his domestic management, like all other able tyrants, he made the nation he enslaved great and formidable by his foreign policy, using the energies with which despotism had furnished him, to extend her commerce, and support her naval superiority.—Had no peculiar family-circumstances compelled De Vallance to renounce his home, doubtless he would have imitated the vise conduct of Agricola, who is justly celebrated "for not being in that class of patriots, who conceive they gain immortal glory, when by rashness they provoke their fate; but showed that, even in the worst of times, and under the most despotic ruler, it is possible for the man of heroic fortitude to be great and good with moderation." But De Vallance felt he could not compound for an estate to which he had no just title, nor reconcile himself to parents, who were stained with every crime. Could he forget the wrongs and woes of Allan Neville; the death of Eustace; the mournful seclusion and daily anguish of Isabel!—Submission to Cromwell must be combined with a sacrifice of every honest principle, every cherished affection of his heart. England therefore afforded no rest to the sole of his foot, and if he sought the continent, it should be as a military hireling, not as a dependent mendicant; as one who could earn his bread, not as a supplicant, who had no other claim to support than loyalty and indigence.
There were many gentlemen who had emigrated to Virginia, when hostilities terminated in 1646, who were now comfortably established as planters; and he felt he might trust his desire of obtaining a similar situation to his mental resources, and the energy and perseverance of his natural character. The new world was unstained by the contaminating vices of the old. In a society, chiefly composed of Loyalists, he would not be aggrieved by the sight of low-born insolence, trampling on hereditary greatness, nor offended by the perversions of sophists, the cant of hypocrites, and the exaltation of villains. He could there only endure bodily inflictions. What prevented him from thus exonerating himself from the severest visitations of adversity, and immediately transporting himself across the Atlantic? The consideration of that vast world of waters separating him from Isabel Evellin; for though he might no more hope to bind her to him by the tie of marriage, or even to share her dear society, the bond of love was indissoluble. He could not remove to such a distance from her, as would make it impossible to render her any assistance. He might not be able to defend or console her; but, by remaining in England, he could suffer or die for her sake.
Irresolution increased the depression of De Vallance; his bodily complaints gained ground, and Jobson too, though still an affectionate, was no longer a cheerful, companion. His spirits sunk while he was with the King in Worcester; he predicted the loss of that battle, and the evening before his master acknowledged himself unable to proceed, he gave him to understand that he had seen a warning of his approaching death. Instead of rejoicing over their casual comforts, and anticipating better days as he used to do, he was ever prognosticating evils, and lessening their humble comforts, by prophesying their impending loss. Even the full-frothed can and savoury luncheon lost their usual relish; it was always the last good Welsh-ale, or dried salmon, he should have in this world; and if he repeated his farewel libation, till he grew intoxicated, every draught added to his sadness. Instead of roaring out a joyous song, he fell to crying, and talked of the slaughter incident to storming a city, instead of the brave sallies of a garrison.
De Vallance repeatedly asked the reason of this change, and as the increase of his indisposition confirmed Jobson in his opinion of the truth of his conclusions, the latter thought (since his master must die soon) he might as well own how he knew that his recovery was impossible. He then reminded him of his predictions, that the King would lose the battle, and confessed he had received a supernatural intimation that England was ruined, and the poor Loyalists quite undone.—"I would not tell Your Honour," said he, "at the time, because I know you don't credit such things; but I met Fido in the streets of Worcester the night before it was taken by Old Noll—Mr. Eustace's own poor Fido, and I then said the King would be beat."
"I never knew," replied De Vallance, "that the appearance of a dog was oracular."
"Well, laugh on," said Jobson, "and I wish it may do you good. But I say, I saw him again, the night before you was taken ill, and I know by that it is all over with you."
The affectionate Jobson burst into tears as he spoke, while De Vallance was extremely struck at the re-appearance of the animal. He reminded Jobson that dogs were often extremely alike, and inquired how he knew that this actually belonged to Eustace.
"How do I know," replied he, "that I am Ralph Jobson? Why it knew me, and seemed to wag its tail; nay, made as though it would lick my hand."
"And did you not permit him?" said De Vallance.
The terrified trooper turned pale, and his teeth chattered with horror. "I did not say that it was Fido's living self," exclaimed he; "and what would have become of me, had I been touched by a ghost? why my arm would have withered directly. I knew a man in village that had his nose beat flat to his face, only for peeping into the belfry, while a ghost was dancing among the bell-ropes.—No, to be sure, I flung a stone at it, and it ran away setting up a howl."
De Vallance now laboured to convince Jobson, that admitting the reality of spectral appearances in the human form, animals were not endowed with a vital principle, capable of existing distinct from their bodies. Jobson was shocked at his master's presumptuous neglect of warnings, and he vehemently urged the impossibility of a living dog being at Worcester in September, and in Wales at Christmas. He stated the privilege of spirits to take any shape; and not nicely attending to the question of identity, shewed from oral testimony, that they sometimes appeared as a glazed pipkin, and sometimes as the skeleton of a horse's head. The exertion of endeavouring to enlighten wilful absurdity increased the debility of De Vallance. Jobson's forebodings were turned into certainties, and he walked into the church-yard to see in what spot he should bury his master, and hoping to hear the death-watch, as a sign that he should rest beside him.
The landlady at the little inn, where the forlorn Arthur languished, pitying the sufferings of her interesting guest, and the inactive grief of his attendant, requested she might be permitted to send for an excellent gentleman, who was come to live in the neighbourhood, and had done many extraordinary cures.—"You need not," said she, "fear troubling him, he takes no pay but the blessings of those he heals; and he is said to be as useful to a wounded spirit, as he is to a diseased body." De Vallance was weary of life; but the soldier must not quit his post, till his discharge be duly signed by his Commander; he yielded therefore to the proposal. Jobson had a rooted dislike to all doctors; but reluctance to his master's employing one was changed into consternation, when he saw in the benevolent volunteer-Esculapius, the Doctor Lloyd against whom he had conceived an inveterate antipathy, verily believing him capable of poisoning a patient for the sake of converting him into an anatomy. He rushed into his master's chamber to announce his identity, and when he found the intelligence only increased his eagerness to see him, he resolved however to prevent his taking any of his medicines.
The diseases brought on by fatigue and distress are seldom obstinate, when resisted by youth, a good constitution, a clear conscience, and a calm judgment. Dr. Lloyd dealt in potent cordials. He possessed the essential qualities of a true friend; and the behaviour of De Vallance soon induced him to exert his talents in that capacity. He had hardly felt his pulse, before he pronounced that little was necessary besides tranquillity and generous support. Arthur's heart panted with impatience to commence a confidential intimacy; but he recollected he must inspire confidence, before he could venture to require it. A sick stranger, languishing at a village-inn, was as likely to be the enemy as the friend of a cause it was now dangerous to espouse. Strongly pre-possessed in favour of a man, who courageously ventured among a multitude of hostile and infuriated soldiers, avowed his attachment to the victim they had just slaughtered, and bestowed on his corpse the decent sepulture they meant to deny, De Vallance felt no apprehension at trusting his own life ta such tried fidelity. He spoke of himself as friendless, distressed, and in the utmost need of advice and protection. He declared himself to be a Loyalist, who, having engaged in the King's last attempt, would be excepted from the expected amnesty. By this means he drew Dr. Lloyd into a guarded communication of his former residence at Pembroke, and his acquaintance with Eustace Evellin. De Vallance owned himself to be a friend to that family. He even used the word brother. Dr. Lloyd turned on him a significant glance, when, to justify the claim, De Vallance drew from his bosom the letter of Isabel, and explained the hopes that had been defeated by the death of Eustace. "You will not wonder," added he, "that I have a painful eagerness to know every circumstance of that lamentable event."
Dr. Lloyd regarded his patient with scrutinizing attention. "You know," said he, "that the resolute defence of Pembroke-Castle provoked the parliamentary General to adopt measures that were intended to strike terror into the King's party; and from the particular manner in which you apply to me, you possibly also know that, influenced by compassion, I removed the body of Eustace, and performed those offices which friendship required."
The undefined, unacknowledged hopes which had floated in the mind of Arthur vanished at this reply, and as they disappeared, convinced him, that he had cherished a vain romantic illusion. A long pause ensued; De Vallance heaved a deep sigh, and asked if the noble youth was resigned to his fate.
"Life was very dear to him," answered Dr. Lloyd, "and no wonder.—Talent, personal beauty, lively and generous feelings, the purest sense of honour, and the noblest aspirings after fame, were combined in his character. He loved too, and he knew himself beloved. You seem, Sir, about his age; my sensibility has been blunted by time; but I will appeal to your own susceptibility, to conceive the sensations of his impassioned heart, when he found himself suddenly arrested in the bloom of manhood, by a summons to an ignominious death. This, too, at a distance from all his kindred, and after having sustained for many months the most severe warfare, and the cruellest privations. But if you ask me if he discovered any unmanly weakness at this awful moment—I answer none. He looked and moved like a hero going to mount the car of triumph. The lustre of his dauntless eye appalled the musketeers, who were drawn up in the court. 'Take sure aim,' said he; 'Your commander spares not youth and loyalty; therefore be like him, pitiless.'"
"Detestable act, infernal massacre!" exclaimed De Vallance.—"Retributive Heaven, I own thy justice! That murderous volley, Bellingham, slew thy son!" Dr. Lloyd clasped the clenched hands with which he seemed prepared to beat his own bosom, and requested an explanation.
"Do not, do not," said the tortured Arthur, "believe me capable of repaying your kind commiseration with ingratitude, if I own myself descended from the most cruel and treacherous of men. The murdered Eustace was rightful heir to the title and fortunes which, as the son of Bellingham, I might claim. Shall I own, though my heart recoils at the confession, that I strongly fear a base private motive urged my father to select this victim, as a sacrifice to what he called public expedience.—Oh! Dr. Lloyd, had I never been born, had my ambitious parents laid no base projects for my aggrandizement, the noble Eustace had still lived."
"My good Sir," returned the kind physician, "we must debate this point a little. In the first place, let me assure you the lots were fairly cast. I do not justify, indeed I severely reprobate the cruel policy which required the sacrifice of three victims; but it was resolved on in full council, the blame therefore is divided among all the officers. I also know that Lord Bellingham committed his own safety by endeavouring to preserve the life of Eustace."
An overwhelming load of infamy seemed, at this assurance, removed from the oppressed De Vallance. "Speak it again, dear worthy man, again repeat that my father would have saved him. You know he would? You can swear to the fact? But soft—was not he supreme commander? What, then, prevented him from signing his pardon?"
Dr. Lloyd replied—"The limited power which a general possesses over troops, who, in obeying him, have cancelled the previous obligations of duty and conscience. He who accepts the command of a revolutionary army is ever fearful of being sacrificed by his own soldiers. His office makes him the ostensible champion of liberty; but his army claim a greater licence than consists with the requisite exercise of discipline and authority. His subordinate officers envy his supremacy; for the chain of prescriptive gradation is dissolved by the pretext of preferring merit; and what soldier of fortune is there who does not think himself equal to the highest posts which his machinations and enterprize can procure. We Loyalists (for such, Sir, I now in confidence own myself to be) have often said that Lord Bellingham was only half wicked. He retained too much of the gentleman to practise extortion, or to connive at the rapacity by which his subalterns tried to make the most of their brief authority. He enforced discipline without condescending to that familiarity and occasional indulgence which make severity palatable. He was an agent of the new system, trying to introduce the manners of the old. He saw his own danger when it was too late. He discovered that he served villains who, despising honest praise, renounced every honourable bond of amity, to whom treachery and cruelty were become habitual; and that he commanded desperadoes, who, setting no value on their own lives, kept his in their power. Such, Sir, was the state of your father's army, and such the secret hostility of those for whom he fought. You may condemn his embarking in their cause, his timidity, his irresolution, his fluctuating variableness, but not his deliberate cruelty or private malice. After Eustace had drawn the lot of death, the power of the general could not save him from an army lost to every generous feeling, and thirsting for revenge."
To know that his father had rather been guilty of the transgressions of frail man than of the horrible enormities of a demon, was an invaluable consolation to De Vallance. But still Eustace had fallen under the sentence of Bellingham, and himself consequently been banished from Isabel. Dr. Lloyd interrupted his mournful reverie by inquiring what were his future views.
"When you described Eustace going to execution," returned he, "you appealed to the sympathy of a heart eternally separated from the object of a pure, cherished affection. Read that letter. Conceive it written by a woman whose beauty is her smallest praise, and then advise me how to bestow the unvalued remnant of a life which must be spent in exile from her."
Dr. Lloyd perused Isabel's farewel, and inquired if her brother's death was the only obstacle to their union.
"Yes," replied De Vallance. "I had renounced the principles in which I was educated, abjured the aggrandizement and affluence which my parents' crimes had purchased; I had her promise, sanctioned by her father's full consent, as a reward for services I was so fortunate as to render them. We were to have fled to Holland, rich in the possession of domestic happiness and decent competence, when that fatal intelligence——"
"Come, young gentleman," interrupted Dr. Lloyd, "you meditate too deeply. I see you want society. The hardships you have undergone have overwhelmed you. I must remove you to my own cottage. I keep a cordial there which I never trust out of my own custody. I see your disease, and know my remedy will complete your cure."
"Sir," returned De Vallance, "we are talking of something infinitely more important than life. I know my disease is at present trifling, the effect of anxiety acting too forcibly on a fatigued body. I could say it consoles me, as a proof that my constitution will not be always invincible to the attacks of these mental agonies; and you answer the communications which your sympathy has extorted from me on the soul-piercing subjects of my honour and my love, by telling me you have a nostrum that will relieve my head-aches, and ease my frame of this debilitating languor."
Dr. Lloyd rose, and examined the apartment to see that there were no witnesses; he then drew his chair close to De Vallance, and gazed on his emotion with the delight of a healing angel commissioned to alleviate the woes of virtue, and, grasping his hand, told him "he should see Eustace—the living Eustace," continued he. Seeing Arthur look incredulous, "Eustace Evellin is alive, and resides with me. Hush! suppress that burst of ecstacy; all our lives are at stake. Not even honest Jobson must know he lives, lest his intemperate rapture should betray him."
De Vallance was rapt in pious exultation. Exonerated from such a load of paternal guilt, he seemed to pray with more assured confidence of Divine protection. His gratitude to the worthy physician exceeded the powers of language. Enfeebled by indisposition, he sunk upon his bosom, called him a second father, and thanked him for a renewed and valuable existence.
Dr. Lloyd then briefly related the circumstances of Eustace's preservation. Either his magnanimity intimidated the executioners, or his gallantry and beauty inspired compassion. He refused to have his face covered, saying he feared not to look on death. The power of the human eye, in such circumstances, has been owned to be invincible. The volley was fired with unsteady aim. His fellow-sufferers fell dead. He stood unwounded; but a momentary impulse induced him to drop beside them, and to lie apparently lifeless, bathed in their blood. At the same instant his faithful spaniel rushed forward, licked his extended hand, and, with dreadful howlings, seemed to guard his remains; and the mutiny, excited by the agitators, broke out among the soldiers, who were drawn up to witness the horrid spectacle. While they clamorously accused the General of depriving them of their lawful right, the plunder of the town of Pembroke, and attempting to save the cavaliers, Lloyd heroically and adroitly took advantage of the tumult; and, though he had no other design than giving his corse decent internment, he had the transport to be instrumental in preserving the life of his friend. He took every wise precaution that his miraculous escape should be a profound secret. Endeared to each other by these extraordinary circumstances, they agreed never to separate; and Dr. Lloyd removed to a spot where he was unknown, supported by the income of a small inheritance, and declining the practice of medicine, except gratuitously among the indigent. Eustace cut off his redundant hair, stained his complexion, and otherwise disguised his appearance; and he passed as the son of a gentleman, who, being afflicted with mental derangement, was obliged to be kept in close retirement. Dr. Lloyd rented a neat secluded cottage; and the friends lived in decent privacy, waiting for happier times.
De Vallance now required an explanation of Fido's being seen at Worcester; and Dr. Lloyd owned that, finding it impossible to restrain the loyal impetuosity of Eustace, he went to that city to learn the situation of the King, since, if there were any hopes of a prosperous issue, he had consented that they should both join the royal standard. The Doctor further added, that he feared their present comforts could not long continue. The surrender of the Earl of Derby's Castles had introduced the rebel troops into the neighbourhood; and he dreaded lest Eustace should be discovered and recognized. They therefore meditated a voyage to Virginia; and the plan was now suspended by the anxiety of Eustace to hear some tidings from his kindred, and to acquaint them with his situation. The impossibility of sending intelligence of such importance by a public conveyance, in times when the letters and actions of royalists were subjected to the most vigilant scrutiny; and the hazard and difficulty of forwarding it by a private hand had long prevented him from having any correspondence with his family; nor did he know the anguish his supposed murder had cost them. In those times of civil contention the dearest relatives were often long ignorant of each other's fate. So numerous were the instances of cruelty, so multiplied the tales of wo, that they wearied and confused the reciter. Many parents believed their sons safe in a foreign country, who, at last they found, had long since perished in some obscure skirmish, where valour bled unshaded by its deserved laurels. Others, who had lamented the death of their dearest relations, received them back at the King's restoration, as if they had risen from their tombs. The necessity of extreme caution, the frequency of assumed names and personal disguises, and the insecurity and infrequency of written communications, obliterated the traces of identity. Among the less evils of civil war, dividing the ties and preventing the connecting intercourse of social life must be enumerated; and what opinion must those who rejoice in the conversation of a present friend, or open, with trembling delight, a letter from an absent one, form of a nation convulsed by furious discord, when the privation of these blessings is ranked only among its smaller calamities!
De Vallance had, that evening, the infinite transport of folding Eustace to his heart, in the comfortable asylum where the worthy Doctor Lloyd concealed the hope of an illustrious house, the noble victim of adverse fortune. The generous youths pledged the vows of mutual and perpetual friendship. Conversing with all the confidence of brothers, Arthur acquainted Eustace with the early history of their family, and his own determination never to reap the fruits of his parents' misdeeds. He told him how Isabel had preserved his life; related the gradual change of his political principles—their mutual attachment—her heroical devotedness to her proscribed father—the meek magnanimity and active piety of Dr. Beaumont—the arrival of Jobson—the agony of Colonel Evellin—and the deep anguish of Constantia; concluding with his own banishment from Ribblesdale, and the apparent extinction of his dearest hopes. To know that his youthful errors were not only pardoned, but that he was so dear and constant an object of regret to those he fondly adored, gave the heart of Eustace those alternations of exquisite delight and painful anxiety which distinguish generous and exalted minds from the cold equanimity of selfish apathy. Misery had often made him wish to be forgotten by all he loved; but no sooner did his misfortunes wear a less sombre hue, than his expanding heart cherished the hope that others beside himself rejoiced in the suspension of his misfortunes. He could not endure the thought of suffering these beloved objects to languish in despair on his account; and he determined to trust to his disguise, and immediately pay a visit to Lancashire. But Dr. Lloyd was too chary of the treasure he had so faithfully preserved, to intrust him to his own keeping. De Vallance and Eustace were both obnoxious to the ruling powers by having borne arms for the King; and he insisted on their continuing concealed in his Welsh cottage, while himself went to consult Dr. Beaumont upon their future measures. Emigration to America was a favourite project with all. It was hoped means might be found to remove Colonel Evellin; and the lovers allowed their imagination to form a transatlantic paradise, where, with their Constantia and Isabel, they might enjoy the halcyon blessings of domestic happiness, after having been so cruelly harassed by the storms of war. De Vallance did not now think it impossible to be reconciled to his father, or unlawful to use his mother's interest with Cromwell to procure a pardon for Colonel Evellin, whose incurable infirmities prevented his being an object of terror. Sometimes, with the sanguine confidence of a mind raised from absolute despair, he fancied a family-reconciliation might be effected; but he submitted to the prudence of Dr. Lloyd's advice, that every step must be taken with extreme caution, and dispositions sounded before discoveries should be hazarded.
The affectionate heart of Eustace would not allow that any one should suffer the misery of suspense on his account; and he pleaded so earnestly that Jobson might be allowed to see him, that Dr. Lloyd yielded, on the condition that the honest trooper should go with him to Lancashire, knowing that his exuberant transport might not be trusted in the neighbourhood where Eustace was concealed. The terror of Jobson at De Vallance's removing to the house of the supposed indefatigable anatomist was hardly relieved by seeing him return, next morning, looking well and happy. But an invitation from the Doctor to visit his cottage and see his curiosities absolutely petrified him; and he vowed he had rather see Old Noll charge at the head of Hazlerig's lobsters than dead men rattling their own bones, or poor innocent children swimming in pickle like witches in a pond. Winking on De Vallance with a look of significance, he said, "You do not know so much of this Doctor as I do; for though the whole country talks of his cures, they own he shuts himself up as if he dealt with the devil, and walks about with a melancholy gentleman who is haunted with a familiar spirit." Arthur engaged him in conversation till they imperceptibly approached the Doctor's cottage, when he first assured him of the actual existence of Fido, whom he was to be permitted to take to Constantia; and then changed incredulous astonishment to frantic joy, by pointing out the living Eustace advancing to embrace him. Jobson screamed, capered, tossed his cap into the air, clung round his former master's neck, then dropped on his knees, prayed, sobbed, and laughed, almost in the same instant. His gratitude and affection for Dr. Lloyd was somewhat allayed by his envying him the happiness of preserving Eustace, whom, he acknowledged, he loved the best of all his masters, begging De Vallance to pardon him for saying so. Yet his regard for the amiable physician was mingled with some degree of terror; and it was not till he was assured that he did not travel with any stuffed monsters, or relics from a gibbet, that he could heartily rejoice at the prospect of telling Mrs. Isabel that her lover and brother were sworn friends, of drying the tears of pretty Mrs. Constance, and of seeing the old Colonel without being hated as the bearer of ill news. But on carefully examining the wallet which Dr. Lloyd prepared for the journey, and ascertaining that, instead of astrological calculations and scalping knives, it contained only comforts and necessaries, Jobson, with renewed courage and joyous expectations, set out to accompany him on a delightful errand to Ribblesdale.
Those that would serve God sincerely in affluence have infinitely greater advantages and opportunities for it in adverse fortune; therefore let us set vigorously to the task that lies before us, supplying in the abundance of inward beauty what is wanting to the outward lustre of the church; and we shall not fail to find that the grots and caves lie as open to the celestial influences as the fairest and most beautiful temples.
Dr. Henry Hammond's Letters.
A painter, who is solicitous to give just representations of nature, must blend his lights and shades, and contrast vivid colours with sombre hues. The correct imitator of human life must also alternately introduce joys and sorrows. Is it the langour of unwarrantable depression, the indulged caprice of fastidious sensibility, or a more intimate acquaintance with the dark colourings of disappointment than with the sunshine of prosperity, which induces the conclusion, that the likeness to reality will be more faithfully preserved if a sombre tinge predominates in the fictitious narrative that paints the trials of highly honourable and susceptible minds? The refinement which inspires liberal desires and generous motives exposes its possessor to a more lively feeling of the injuries inflicted by envy, selfishness, and duplicity. The golden dreams of ingenuous candour and conscious ability are rarely realized, and acute perception and high-minded integrity, though most propitious to the growth of every virtue, seem to be the choice fruits of heaven which, in the austere climate of this lower world, require shelter and protection.
It is not murmuring against the wisdom or justice of Providence to admit, that in a probationary state the most perfect characters are they who have been purified by "much tribulation, and through faith and patience inherit the promises." The instrument used in this ordeal is generally our brother-man. Yet, while with hope and confidence, we look forward to a glorious issue of temporal affliction in eternal glory, let us beware of unfitting ourselves for the future recompence by extreme resentment against those who are the agents that Almighty Wisdom uses to improve us. Let us not attribute to malice and cruelty what may be referred to less criminal motives. Do we not often afflict others undesignedly, and, from mere carelessness, neglect to relieve distress? Our own concerns, interests, and wishes engross our thoughts. Nothing is so important to us as forwarding our own aims; and our fellow-creatures are too often but inconvenient lumber if they stand in our way, or merely useful implements if they forward our designs. It is from a want of attention to the feelings of others, from a neglect of the golden rule of putting ourselves in their place, and not from innate malice or a diabolical delight in giving pain, that the sorrows caused by domestic tyrants and puny oppressors chiefly proceed. Were self-love reduced within proper bounds, earth would resemble heaven. Let those, then, who deeply feel those "wrongs which patient merit of the unworthy takes," temper their aspirations after a state where universal good-will is the source and cement of bliss, by cultivating that excellent preparative for its fruition, a spirit of active, enlarged, and considerate benevolence.
These reflections will not unaptly precede the return of Lady Bellingham from her northern expedition. It never was the practice of Cromwell to render any one disrespect while his services could be useful, or till he was prepared to prevent the effects of his enmity. While the success of the King remained doubtful, he wished not to make himself any more enemies; and at the same time that he restrained and mulcted the Presbyterians, he endeavoured to persuade them to make common cause with the fanatics. He received Lady Bellingham (who was the avowed patroness of the latter) with much apparent respect, and at the same time he wrote kindly to her Lord, promising that his party should be admitted to a share in the government as soon as he could let the dove out of the ark to fetch the olive branch, which could not be the case as long as the floods of ungodliness covered the earth. He styled himself the servant of the Commonwealth, and the assured friend of Lord Bellingham; but nothing was further from Cromwell's heart than an intention of realizing these promises. His only aim was to pacify and amuse his opponents till he gained leisure to play his own game. He loaded Lady Bellingham with flattering expressions, selected her to stand by his side, when, as he called it, he rose in the congregation of the saints to give the word of exhortation, and appealed to her as the judge and expounder of his spiritual gifts. These, he observed, were all the refreshing attentions which the necessity of pursuing the host of Sisera allowed him to pay to the Deborah of the English Israel, except permitting her to reside in Bellingham-Castle, and to plead his friendship and protection.
The victory at Worcester was of that decided nature, which enabled Cromwell to throw off the mask, to dissolve that pantomime of a Parliament in whose name he had hitherto governed, and to assume the title of "Protector of the liberties of England." He now exercised a more despotic tyranny than this nation suffered either from her Danish or Norman conquerors. He confined the elective franchise to himself, creating what he called Parliaments for the sole purpose of making them ridiculous, and then turning out his mock-legislators with contempt. He alternately punished and provoked every party; even his own agents and creatures could not escape his apprehensive suspicions, which, by indulgence, engendered an insatiable thirst of blood. Yet, combining great qualities with the meanest vices—the policy of an Augustus and the enterprize of a Trajan with the dissimulation of Tiberius and the cruelty of Domitian, he at once awed and dazzled surrounding nations, and while he subjugated, exalted his own. Never was England more respected than when unlimited power, undaunted courage, and persevering activity placed all her resources in the hands of a man who, scarcely ranked by birth in the patrician order, could make every European sovereign tremble on his throne. Yet still, like the mystical sun in the Apocalypse, tormenting others while he was himself tormented, the era of his assuming power was the consummation of his extreme misery. He waded through seas of blood; he broke every divine and human obligation; he made the name of liberty a terror, and that of religion contemptible, to become himself a more pitiable object than the veriest wretches whom he inhumed in his prisons. They had some who sympathized in their sufferings, some who wished them God speed; but though the civilized world trembled at the name of Cromwell, he knew he had spies, creatures, and parasites, but not one friend.
Yet amidst this secret wretchedness and universal odium, the distant reflex of his name and authority was respected by all. Lady Bellingham found her reception very different, as the Protector's friend, in her return through England, than when she fled to Scotland an alarmed fugitive. Conscious of former remissness, Morgan met her at Lancaster, and earnestly entreated she would repose some days at Saint's-Rest after the fatigue of her journey. The alarm and mortification she had endured in that neighbourhood made her recollect the village with disgust; but there were some mysteries which she wished him to explain. Nursery tales affirm, that Puss, when converted into a fine lady, retained her old propensity of catching mice; and though Lady Bellingham was transformed from a fine lady into a devotee, the renovating spirit of true religion had not altered her temper or inclinations; there was the same waywardness in the former, the same cold selfishness in the latter. While she raved at formal and legal Christians, she was herself the true formalist, presuming on superior merit from the length of her devotional exercises, her rigid austerities, and the sums she expended in spreading her peculiar notions. But she came out of her closet to make her inmates and dependants wretched; her fasting-days were unsanctified through moroseness, and beside that, her gifts were too much confined to party-purposes to be entitled to the praise of charity; ostentation blew the trumpet before her alms, and she had the reward she sought, in the praise of men.
To return from the description to the illustration of this not uncommon character. It happened one evening, as the Countess was anticipating the joys of Heaven, by an analogy drawn from the delights which Bellingham-Castle afforded, and which she supposed would there be increased in an infinite ratio, that her humble companion ventured to recall her imagination to this world, by producing what she thought a very pretty poem on the subject of love, which she found in their chamber at the miserable old delinquent's at Ribblesdale. Lady Bellingham shook her head at the name of love, commanded Mrs. Abigail to avoid the sinful subject, and to expiate the offence by reading fifty pages of "a popular fanatical treatise."
As the waiting-gentlewoman retired to perform the penance, Lady Bellingham commanded her to leave the paper that she might destroy it. But though the word Love was dangerous to a tyro in Antinomianism, the situation of the initiated is very different; to the former all things are sinful, but the latter being free from the law, and above ordinances, have a large licence. Valuing herself now only on her spiritual graces, Lady Bellingham opened the profane legend, which, she expected, described personal attractions; and to her astonishment recognized the writing of her son, of whom she had heard no certain tidings since the battle of Preston, but who was supposed, both by Cromwell and herself, to be in the north of Ireland, where an officer of the same name had gained celebrity. The date proved that he had been a resident in Dr. Beaumont's family; no name was prefixed, but the lines breathed a permanent attachment, to which, after some resistance, he had entirely surrendered his heart.
O place thy breast against a turbid stream, Beat with strong arm the flood, and tread the wave, Or toil incessant 'neath the burning beam, When, like a giant woke from wassail-dream, Sol rushes furious from the lion's cave:
Then mayst thou know how hard to stem the tide Of chaste desire, and love's o'erwhelming storm, When by entranc'd affection first descry'd, Beauty and truth, such as in Heaven reside, Appear on earth in woman's lovely form.
Is there a charm in wisdom? Is there power In blushing modesty's retiring air? Looks patience lovely in affliction's hour? Is not humility a priceless flower? And filial piety divinely fair?
And bloom such graces in this narrow dell, Bosom'd in hills, from civil discord far; Then, courts and camps, glory and wealth farewell! All-powerful love hath broke ambition's spell, And freed a captive from his iron car.
Ruminating on these lines, and recollecting the mild dutiful behaviour of Constantia, she could not help supposing that melancholy beauty to be the object of her son's attachment. She had sufficiently interested her to inquire the reason of her mournful appearance, and learned that she had lost her lover in the civil wars. Could that lover have been her son? Could the figures she had seen sitting among the ruins, and which she was persuaded were not human, be sent as supernatural omens to indicate Sedley's death. It was happy for her unsettling reason, that at the moment when this terrific thought shot across her brain, she recollected, whatever her early misdemeanors might have been, she was now in a safe state, and had wiped off all offences to her brother, even supposing any had been committed. Yet she grew uneasy to hear of her son, and wished she had been more particular in her inquiries as to the certainty of his being in Ireland. I have already stated that maternal affection had no part in her character. The manner in which she treated Arthur prevented frequent intercourse. Hearing that a Colonel Sedley was distinguished by his cruelty to the Catholics at the taking of Fredagh and Drogheda, she had trusted that it was her son now become warm in the good cause to which she had devoted him. The date of this poem shewed that he was in Lancashire, indulging very different sentiments at the time of those bloody victories, and it was her perplexity on this point which made her give Morgan an affable reception.
She soon discovered, that though he had lately forborn persecuting the Beaumonts, he retained the most inveterate enmity to the whole family. She drew from him all the information it was in his power to give respecting her son's residence at Ribblesdale; the assistance he received from the Beaumonts when at the point of death, and his sudden disappearance. Morgan was unacquainted with his change of sentiments and attachment to Isabel, who, having been long secreted with her father, was believed to be dead, and had been too insignificant and humble to draw the attention of so important a personage as Morgan. His communications confirmed Lady Bellingham in the belief that she had seen an apparition of her brother, indicative of her son's death, and that Constantia, who mourned a widowed love, had been the object of his ill-placed affections.
Full of apprehension, destitute alike of delicacy, gratitude, and candour, and disposed, from her political feelings, to ascribe every bad passion and action to the royalists, a thought struck her that poverty might have tempted the old delinquent to murder her son; and the suspicion grew to certainty, when the most minute inquiries could give no information of him subsequent to his receiving a large remittance from his tenants the week before he was last seen at Ribblesdale. Her humble attendants, on hearing her opinion, protested that nothing was ever more probable. The chaplain expatiated on the vices of the episcopal clergy, and cited the words of that-then-popular writer, Martin Mar-prelate, to prove them guilty of the greatest offences, not excepting even theft and murder. The gentleman-usher found damning proofs of extreme poverty in all the arrangements of the Beaumonts, and the waiting-gentlewoman could no otherwise account for the deep melancholy of Constantia, than by supposing her lover had been murdered by her father, whose pale care-worn features bore, in her opinion, the character of an assassin.
Having wrought her mind to this conclusion, Lady Bellingham sent again for her confidant Morgan, who, beside his aversion to one whom he had long felt to be a troublesome neighbour, had now particular reasons for appearing zealously inclined to serve the Protector and his friends. He advised Lady Bellingham to state the loss of her son to His Highness, and procure his order for the Doctor's arrest, adding, that even if innocent of this accusation, the imprisonment of one, who as an irreclaimable royalist, deserved punishment, was no breach of justice. He assured Her Ladyship, that her son's long residence in a disaffected family, had not occasioned the smallest change in his opinions, but that he showed his zeal for the good old cause, by informing him of all the proceedings and councils of the delinquents that came to his knowledge; and he feared, as he was missing a little time before Charles Stewart's attempt on Scotland, his having penetrated into that design precipitated their bloody purposes. His communications shaped the fluctuating purposes of Lady Bellingham into a most determinate and diabolical resolve, and she returned to London with the heart of an "Ate hot from hell," and the aspect of a Niobe.
She now presented herself before the Protector and his council, as a distracted mother, ignorant of the fate of her only son, and praying for a minute investigation of the mysterious business. A request from the patroness of the fanatics imperatively demanded attention. Several of their leaders were her devoted friends, and the fine qualities of young Sedley had really attracted Cromwell's notice, who, though he was incapable of loving virtue and honour, ever wished to engage them in his service. It is but justice to the Usurper's administration to say, that, except when his government or personal security were concerned, he was an impartial and vigorous administrator of the criminal laws, never sparing rank, or shielding greatness. But though justice thus beamed on those who had not made themselves conspicuous by their principles, a known royalist could not expect her smiles, a warrant was therefore dispatched to apprehend Dr. Beaumont, and Morgan was charged with its execution.
About this time that unhappy family were reduced to the last stage of pecuniary distress. Their good friend Barton was still in confinement, persecuted with the most inveterate hatred by Lady Bellingham's party, and as his revenue was sequestered, no remittances could come from that quarter. At the death of Farmer Humphreys, the church-land he had occupied was taken from his widow, who was now fallen into decay, and unable to assist the necessitous pastor she so truly revered. The provision which the revolutionary government pretended to make to the ejected ministers, was at best irregularly supplied, and often totally withheld. The infirmities of Colonel Evellin engrossing the whole time of Isabel, no fund could be raised from her industry, and with prompt though perhaps imprudent loyalty Dr. Beaumont had sent the sum left by De Vallance to the King's assistance when he made the last unsuccessful effort to obtain his crown. Want, therefore, appeared before their eyes in all its horrors; the produce of their cow and their garden, added to the kind attentions of the villagers, were their sole support.
It was impossible to conceal their difficulties from Evellin, who now earnestly prayed that death would relieve his generous friend from the burden of his support. The firm and patient Isabel could no longer divert him from these sad exclamations. She could not modulate her voice to a song, nor attempt to engage his attention by reciting a tale of other times. She threw her eyes upon the ground in silence, as if wishing to measure out his grave, and one where she might sleep in peace beside him.
They were roused from the passive depression of poverty by the awakening call of imminent danger to the person of him who, in all their former trials, had acted as their guardian angel to avert or mitigate calamity. Morgan delivered, without any ceremony, to Dr. Beaumont an order to attend the council of state in London, as a prisoner. The Doctor declared himself ready to pay a quick obedience to the existing government in all lawful cases, but stated his extreme penury and the utter destitution of his family. The rigid frugality of their habits was known; and Morgan, now assuming an inquisitorial air, demanded what became of the moiety of the fifth allowed to the expelled ministers, which he had last received. Dr. Beaumont was taken by surprize, and before he could parry the impertinence of the question, was charged by Morgan with sending pecuniary aid to Charles Stewart. This was now a crime against the state, for which many suffered. Dr. Beaumont asked if this was the business on which he was summoned to London, and Morgan, knowing that it was determined to take him by surprize respecting the charge of assassinating De Vallance, answered sternly, that for this and various other misdemeanors he must be examined before the council.
No heart that had not been steeled by malevolence against all the better feelings of humanity, could have resisted the cries and supplications of Constantia, intreating that she might accompany her father; but Morgan, recollecting that she in the pride of beauty had disdainfully rejected his offer of marriage, took a savage pleasure in witnessing her affliction. To see the sorrows of his darling child excite derision instead of pity and respect, consummated Dr. Beaumont's anguish. Taking Constantia aside, he gave her his parting blessing, with a fervour that recalled his own firmness, and imparted consolation to her. He reminded her how much her aunt, Evellin, and Isabel, must now depend upon her exertions. He doubted not but commiseration for his misfortunes would increase the benevolence of the villagers, and he intreated her to recollect, that as her lamentations were unavailing, fortitude and patient endurance were the only means to subdue the malice of their enemies. He recurred to his favourite argument, that an oppressor is merely an instrument of chastisement in the hand of Almighty goodness, whose ultimate purposes are all mercy and wisdom. A tyrant's wrath cannot pass its prescribed bounds; no earthly power can take us out of the omnipotent hands of our Creator; nor will He ever fail those who firmly trust in His care, and sincerely obey His precepts. "Courage, my child," said he, as he kissed her pale cold cheek, "I have committed no crimes either against the state or any individual: I shall soon be allowed to return. This affliction is the trial of your faith, not the punishment of my guilt."
Dr. Beaumont did not venture to visit his concealed friend, but the lamentations of the villagers, who surrounded their departing pastor with tears and blessings, added to the distress of Isabel, soon informed Colonel Evellin that his revered protector was seized by the strong gripe of power. He insisted on accompanying him to London as a fellow-prisoner, protesting he was ready to defy Cromwell, accuse Bellingham, and die. Isabel had sufficient strength to prevent the immediate execution of this rash purpose. "O think," said she, "that by so doing, you will not only sacrifice yourself, but also my uncle. The very act of having concealed you is punishable with death. For the sake of our best and kindest friend, a little longer exercise that fortitude and patience which have been my support through years of apprehension and calamity. Let not my long services within this narrow recess lose at last the desired reward of saving a parent, more dear and precious from his undeserved calamities."
"Shall I perish for want, immured in this gloomy tenement?" said Evellin, wildly. "When my friend is gone, who will provide a covering for this wretched body, or food to sustain it?—Have I not told thee, girl, that De Vallance basks in luxurious state at Bellingham-Castle; and I would sooner perish in a lazar-house than beg my bread of him? Dost thou not know his blood-hounds yet surround these ruins, and that it is Beaumont only who has kept them from my war-worn trunk."
"Dearest father," resumed Isabel, "I can keep off the blood-hounds, and will daily lead you forth to enjoy the warm sun-beams. Fear not; but trust in that Providence who feeds the young ravens. How wonderful was its preservation of our King when hunted from forest to forest by his merciless foes! The wants of nature are few and small. See how your despair makes me weep. Oh, for the sake of my mother's memory, dry the tears of your orphan girl."
In this manner did Isabel try to console the man of many sorrows, but he had taken his resolution, and even when most composed, would not be diverted from his purpose of following Dr. Beaumont to London, that he might be ready to confront his enemies, or to share his fate. Mrs. Mellicent was consulted on the subject, and she thought this determination should not be opposed. It had been already agreed upon, that Constantia should follow her father, and attend him in confinement; and it was now settled, that Isabel and Evellin should privately accompany her. Disguised as beggars, they were removed out of the village, and being joined by Williams and Constantia, proceeded towards London as fast as their destitute condition admitted.
They had left Waverly-Hall some weeks, when Dr. Lloyd and Jobson arrived to communicate tidings which they thought would change the house of mourning to the abode of happiness. But no sound or sight indicated that these lonely ruins now afforded shelter to man. No trace of inhabitants was visible.—No monarch of the feathered brood was heard aloud to crow; no smoke rising from the chimney announced the preparation of the homely, but social meal. Jobson entered at the unresisting door; the furniture, like the family, had disappeared. He ventured into the secret chamber, that too was vacant; nothing remained but the couch on which the noble veteran had stretched his palsied frame, and, magnanimously enduring his own anguish, descanted on the arduous duties of a soldier.
"Ah, worthy Doctor," said the dismayed Jobson, "those confounded Roundheads have caught him at last. Here are some of the tatters of his poor old roque-laure, and the woollen cap Mrs. Isabel used to draw over his head so carefully. Here she used to kneel by his side, say her prayers, and sometimes sing in such a sweet low voice; and then the Colonel would kiss her, and tell her she would kill herself with watching him. But when she crept through that little arch to go away, he would look at her as if his soul was parting from his body. And then she would come back again, and say she had not shaken hands with the honest trooper, (meaning me,) and would whisper me, to keep up his spirits; and so they would trifle away half the night."—"'Serjeant,' the Colonel used to say to me, bless his good heart! though I never was more than a corporal, 'that girl has the courage of a lion.' 'Aye, and as cunning as a fox too,' I used to answer. 'She is beautiful as an angel,' he went on; 'Did you ever see such eyes?'—'Never but my first sweetheart's, Sally Malkins,' said I. But then he turned gruff, and would say, 'Pshaw!' for he never could be pleased with any body praising Mrs. Isabel, but himself and that make-believe good young Lord with a wicked father."
While Dr. Lloyd deliberated how to proceed, an aged woman appeared in sight, with a basket on her arm, seemingly employed in gathering herbs. "St. George be my speed!" exclaimed Jobson; "Can that be Madam Mellicent? Ah, sure enough it is her sharp wrinkled face: I never thought she would bend her stiff joints, or walk in the dirt without her riding-hood." Dr. Lloyd offered to go and accost her. "Not for your life," replied Jobson; "she never would forgive me for letting you catch her thus out of sorts. Stop behind that buttress, and I'll go and tell her there is some company coming, and when she has put on her pinners and facings, she will be very glad to see you."
Mrs. Mellicent's appearance was too indicative of profound dejection for Dr. Lloyd to believe she would require any introductory ceremonials. He ventured to salute her with an abrupt assurance, that he was a warm friend of her family, intrusted with a welcome and important communication. Mrs. Mellicent fixed her eyes upon him with that look of inquisitorial diffidence which those who have long been familiarized with distress and injustice, bestow on the dawn of better days. "I can hardly suspect," said she, "that you are one of those who find amusement in sporting with the feelings of the unhappy. You see in me the forlorn relic of a respectable family, now supported by those who were fed at its gates in the days of my prosperity. Yet as far as I can, I try to be independent; and my knowledge in medicine allows me to alleviate the pains of those who shelter my grey hairs.—My brother, his daughter, and the sole surviving child of a beloved sister, now in Heaven, are at this moment exposed to the dreadful trial of Republican persecution. Poverty chains me to this spot, where I drew my first breath, and where, if those I love are sacrificed, I hope soon to close my eyes on sorrow." "You have," said Dr. Lloyd, "omitted to name another strong tie which should bind you to life. You have a brave and gallant nephew, who loves and honours the maternal aunt, who checked his extravagancies and fostered his virtues."
"Eustace Evellin!" returned the good Lady, while her eyes filled with tears, "Did you know him, Sir?—The murderous insurgents cut him off at Pembroke in cold blood. That is their usual method; they only spare useless logs like myself—a withered blasted tree, stripped of all its branches, fit only to sustain the trophies of their accursed triumph. How long, Lord, how long!" continued she, wringing her hands and looking up to Heaven.
Dr. Lloyd now cautiously informed her of the almost miraculous escape of Eustace, and the lively interest he took in his preservation. He added an account of the dangers of De Vallance, and assured her, that he had left them both in his cottage, as safe and happy as English Loyalists could be, while their country groaned under the yoke of Cromwell. The fortitude, nay even the corporeal strength of Mrs. Mellicent, revived at the recital; her own necessities were forgotten, and she scarcely lamented that she had not now a house to welcome, or even the widow's barley-cake to bestow on, the kind protector of the generous youths whom she so fondly loved. Every regret was lost in the prospect of better times, in the future happiness of Constantia and Isabel, in the restoration of the Neville line, and the adoption of the amiable De Vallance into its unpolluted branch. Only one life appeared to stand in the way of their felicity:—Remove the stern Usurper, a penitent nation, weary of oppression, would joyfully welcome back its exiled Sovereign. What might not the Beaumonts and the Nevilles hope from the justice of a Prince for whom they had bled and suffered! Such agreeable reveries as these supported Mrs. Mellicent's spirits during that long period of suspense, in which (for fiction must not anticipate the slow progress of history) she expected their realization. And if hope invested the enlivening phantom of royal gratitude in too gorgeous colours, may we not bless, rather than censure, the fortunate delusion? We are to consider, that the venerable spinster having passed her days in privacy, was ignorant of the chicanery of courts, and disposed to believe, that honour, gratitude, and sincerity, are the inseparable concomitants of illustrious birth. She herself never forgot either her benefactors or her enemies; and she knew not how early Princes are taught to consider the sacrifice of life and fortune as positive debts due to them from their subjects. She was not aware how often expediency compels them to smile on a potent enemy, and to overlook an inefficient friend; how necessary it is for them to employ, as instruments, the able and enterprising, rather than the amiable; and in fine, how much more apt the great are to shower their favours on those whom they oblige by unexpected munificence, than to discharge the claims of justice; to seek praise for liberality, instead of being contented with the merit resulting from a mere performance of duty.
To return; the account which Mrs. Mellicent gave of the persecution raised by the Oliverian government, determined Dr. Lloyd to prevent either of his young friends from becoming its victim. They both recollected the anxiety of the late King to remove his heir beyond the power of his rebel subjects, as soon as he found it was impossible for himself to escape; and that he even considered the preservation of the Prince as a security for his own life. The event refuted that conclusion; but it was owing to this forecast that the prayers and hopes of Englishmen could still follow the princely fugitive. Whether he was shrouded in the oak at Boscobel-wood, or coldly frowned on by the courts of France and Spain, England saw, in the lineal heir of her monarchy, a pledge of the future restoration of her civil and ecclesiastical constitution, and a guarantee to individuals against sequestrators and informers. The same judicious measures which had preserved the Royal sapling when the parent-tree was felled, should be resorted to for the safety of an illustrious private family; and Dr. Lloyd agreed to hurry back to North Wales, and remove his precious charge to some more auspicious clime, before they heard of the imprisonment of Dr. Beaumont. Virginia was objected to on account of its distance from the scene of action. The power of Cromwell, so resistless in the centre of his government, was somewhat relaxed in its more remote dependencies; and the island of Jersey was pointed out as a spot where Eustace and De Vallance ran less hazard of being recognized by Cromwell's officers.
Loyalty was at this time a bond of endearment which united apparent strangers; Mrs. Mellicent had an intimacy, in her early days, with a lady who was now wife to one of the most respectable merchants at St. Helier. He was one who, though faithful to the King, had preserved such an ostensible moderation in his conduct as to avoid offending his enemies; consequently, he had it in his power to assist those braver spirits that had withstood the storm, and now required shelter. A friendly intimation of remembrance, and an offer of aid had been transmitted by this Lady to Mrs. Mellicent, and she advised Dr. Lloyd to fix his abode in that island, under the character of a medical gentleman, travelling with two pupils, who were to study physic at Leyden, but were required, by their infirm constitutions, to establish their health in a salubrious climate, before they encountered the morasses and fogs of Holland.
Dr. Lloyd was not a friend by halves; he was willing to devote the remainder of his life and fortune to the service of these interesting and deserving young men. He wrote a brief account of the preservation of Eustace and the safety of De Vallance, and Jobson was sent with the welcome communication to London, to lighten the woes of their affectionate and unhappy friends. Dr. Lloyd returned to Wales with the utmost celerity. He avoided explaining the distressed state of the family, contenting himself with assuring Eustace and De Vallance that Colonel Evellin was alive, and that Isabel and Constance were faithful to their vows. The plan of emigration to America must, he said, be abandoned, as it was impossible for the family to remove; but as the preservation of their lives, in some degree depended on the concealment of Eustace, it became necessary they should avoid the rigid scrutiny which Cromwell was now making after obnoxious Loyalists, by removing to a retreat where, though the royal banner was not permitted to fly, the inhabitants were allowed to remain in a sort of peaceable neutrality.