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Rookwood
by William Harrison Ainsworth
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"Give me the packet," said Luke, resigning Eleanor for the instant to Handassah's custody—"take the steel, and grasp her firmly."

Handassah, who, though slight of figure, was of singular personal strength, twined her arms about Miss Mowbray in such a manner as to preclude all possibility of motion.

Luke tore open the package. It was a box carefully enclosed in several folds of linen, and lastly within a sheet of paper, on which were inscribed these words:

THE DOWER OF SYBIL

Hastily, and with much curiosity, Luke raised the lid of the box. It contained one long silken tress of blackest hair enviously braided. It was Sybil's. His first impulse was to cast it from him; his next, reproachfully to raise it to his lips. He started as if a snake had stung him.

At this moment a loud clamor was heard in the gallery. In the next, the door was assailed by violent strokes, evidently proceeding from some weighty instrument, impelled by the united strength of several assailants.

The voice of Turpin rose above the deafening din. "A bullet for the first who enters," shouted he. "Quick, Sir Luke, and the prize is safe—away, and——"

But as he seconded his exhortation with a glance at Luke, he broke off the half-uttered sentence, and started with horror and amazement. Ere the cause of his alarm could be expressed, the door was burst open, and a crowd of domestics, headed by Major Mowbray and Titus Tyrconnel, rushed into the room.

"Nay, then, the game's up!" exclaimed Dick; "I have done with Rookwood." And, springing through the panel, he was seen no more.

When the newcomers first looked round, they could perceive only two figures besides themselves—those of the two lovers—Eleanor having sunk pale, exhausted, and almost senseless, into the arms of Ranulph. Presently, however, a ghastly object attracted their attention. All rushed towards it—all recoiled, as soon as they discovered that it was the lifeless body of Luke Rookwood. His limbs were stiff, like those of a corpse which has for hours been such; his eyes protruded from their sockets; his face was livid and blotched. All bespoke, with terrible certainty, the efficacy of the poison, and the full accomplishment of Barbara's revenge.

Handassah was gone. Probably she had escaped ere Turpin fled. At all events, she was heard of no more at Rookwood.

It required little to recall the senses of Eleanor. Shortly she revived, and as she gazed around, and became conscious of her escape, she uttered exclamations of thanksgiving, and sank into the embraces of her brother.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mowbray and Dr. Small had joined the assemblage.

The worthy doctor had been full of alarm; but his meditated condolences were now changed to congratulations, as he heard the particulars of the terrible scene that had occurred, and of Eleanor's singular and almost providential deliverance.

"After what has befallen, madam," said the doctor to Mrs. Mowbray, slightly coughing, "you can no longer raise any objection to a certain union, eh?"

"I will answer for my mother in that particular," said Major Mowbray, stepping forward.

"She will answer for herself, my son," said Mrs. Mowbray. "The match has her full and entire consent. But to what am I to attribute the unexpected happiness of your return?"

"To a chain of singular circumstances," replied the Major, "which I will hereafter detail to you. Suffice it to say, that but for this gentleman's fortunate arrival," added he, looking at Titus Tyrconnel, "at the hut on Thorne Waste, I might have been detained a prisoner, without parole, and, what is worse, without provision perhaps for days; and to add to my distress, fully acquainted with the meditated abduction of my sister. It was excessively lucky for me, Mr. Tyrconnel, that you happened to pass that way, and for poor Paterson likewise."

"Arrah, by my sowl, major, and you may say that with safety; and it was particularly fortunate that we stumbled upon the tits in the cellar, or we'd never have been here just in the nick of it. I begin to think we've lost all chance of taking Dick Turpin this time. He's got clean away."

"I am not sorry for his escape," said the major. "He's a brave fellow; and I respect courage wherever I find it, even in a highwayman. I should be sorry to appear as a witness against him; and I trust it will never be my fate to do so."

We shall not pause to describe the affectionate meeting which now ensued between the brother and sister—the congratulations upon Eleanor's escape from peril, intermingled with the tenderest embraces, and the warmest thanks offered to Ranulph for his gallant service. "She is yours, my dear boy," said the major; "and though you are a Rookwood, and she bears the ill-fated name of Eleanor, I predict that, contrary to the usual custom of our families in such cases, all your misfortunes will have occurred before marriage."

"There is only one thing," said Small, with a very peculiar expression, which might almost be construed into serio-comic, could we suspect the benevolent doctor of any such waggery, "that can possibly throw a shade over our present felicity. Lady Rookwood is not to be found."

"My poor mother," said Ranulph, starting.

"Make yourself easy," said the doctor; "I doubt not we shall hear of her to-morrow. My only apprehension," added he, half aside, "is, that she may be heard of before."

"One other circumstance afflicts me," said Ranulph. "Poor Mr. Coates!"

"What's that you say of Mr. Coates, Sir Ranulph?" exclaimed Titus.

"I fear he was killed in the recent affray," said Ranulph. "Let some one search for the body."

"Kilt!" echoed Titus. "Is it kilt that Mr. Coates is? Ah! ullagone, and is it over with him entirely? Is he gone to rejoin his father, the thief-taker? Bring me to his remains."

"He will bring them to you himself," said the attorney, stepping forward. "Luckily, Sir Ranulph," said the incurable punster, "it was merely the outer coats that your sword passed through; the inner remains uninjured, so that you did not act as my conveyancer to eternity. Body o' me! I've as many lives as a cat—ha, ha!"

Ranulph welcomed the facetious man of law with no little satisfaction.

We think it unnecessary to enter into further detail. Another chamber was prepared for Eleanor's reception, to which she was almost immediately transported. The remains of the once fierce and haughty Luke, now stiff and stark, but still wearing, even in death, their proud character, were placed upon the self-same bier, and covered with the self-same pall which, but a week ago, had furnished forth his father's funeral. And as the domestics crowded round the corpse, there was not one of them but commented upon his startling resemblance to his grandsire, Sir Reginald; nor, amongst the superstitious, was the falling of the fatal bough forgotten.

Tranquillity was at length restored at the hall. Throughout the night and during the next day, Ranulph made every search for his mother, but no tidings could be learned of her. Seriously alarmed, he then caused more strict and general inquiry to be instituted, but with like unsuccessful effect. It was not, indeed, till some years afterwards that her fate was ascertained.



CHAPTER V

THE SARCOPHAGUS

So now 'tis ended, like an old wife's story.—WEBSTER.

Notwithstanding the obscurity which hung over the fate of Lady Rookwood, the celebration of the nuptials of Sir Ranulph and Eleanor was not long delayed; the ceremony took place at the parish church, and the worthy vicar officiated upon the occasion. It was a joyous sight to all who witnessed it, and not few were they who did so, for the whole neighborhood was bidden to the festival. The old avenue was thronged with bright and beaming faces, rustic maidens decked out in ribbons of many-colored splendor, and stout youths in their best holiday trim; nor was the lusty yeoman and his buxom spouse—nor yet the patriarch of the village, nor prattling child, wanting. Even the ancestral rooks seemed to participate in the universal merriment, and returned, from their eyries, a hoarse greeting, like a lusty chorus of laughter, to the frolic train. The churchyard path was strewn with flowers—the church itself a complete garland. Never was there seen a blither wedding: the sun smiled upon the bride—accounted a fortunate omen, as dark lowering skies and stormy weather had, within the memory of the oldest of the tenantry, inauspiciously ushered in all former espousals. The bride had recovered her bloom and beauty, while the melancholy which had seemingly settled for ever upon the open brow of the bridegroom, had now given place to a pensive shade that only added interest to his expressive features; and, as in simple state, after the completion of the sacred rites, the youthful pair walked, arm in arm, amongst their thronging and admiring tenants towards the Hall, many a fervent prayer was breathed that the curse of the house of Rookwood might be averted from their heads; and, not to leave a doubt upon the subject, we can add that these aspirations were not in vain, but that the day, which dawned so brightly, was one of serene and unclouded happiness to its close.

After the ceremonial, the day was devoted to festivity. Crowded with company, from the ample hall to the kitchen ingle, the old mansion could scarce contain its numerous guests, while the walls resounded with hearty peals of laughter, to which they had been long unaccustomed. The tables groaned beneath the lordly baron of beef, the weighty chine, the castled pasty flanked on the one hand with neat's tongue, and on the other defended by a mountainous ham, an excellent piece de resistance, and every other substantial appliance of ancient hospitality. Barrels of mighty ale were broached, and their nut-brown contents widely distributed, and the health of the bride and bridegroom was enthusiastically drunk in a brimming wassail cup of spicy wine with floating toast. Titus Tyrconnel acted as master of the ceremonies, and was, Mr. Coates declared, "quite in his element." So much was he elated, that he ventured to cut some of his old jokes upon the vicar, and, strange to say, without incurring the resentment of Small.

To retrace the darker course of our narrative, we must state that some weeks before this happy event the remains of the unfortunate Sir Luke Rookwood had been gathered to those of his fathers. The document that attested his legitimacy being found upon his person, the claims denied to him in life were conceded in death; and he was interred, with all the pomp and peculiar solemnity proper to one of the house, within the tomb of his ancestry.

It was then that a discovery was made respecting Alan Rookwood, in order to explain which we must again revert to the night of the meditated enlevement of Eleanor.

After quitting his grandson in the avenue, Alan shaped his course among the fields in the direction to the church. He sought his own humble, but now deserted dwelling. The door had been forced; some of its meagre furniture was removed; and the dog, his sole companion, had fled. "Poor Mole!" said he, "thou hast found, I trust, a better master." And having possessed himself of what he came in search—namely, a bunch of keys and his lantern, deposited in an out-of-the-way cupboard, that had escaped notice, he quickly departed.

He was once more within the churchyard; once more upon that awful stage whereon he had chosen to enact, for a long season, his late fantastical character; and he gazed upon the church tower, glistening in the moonshine, the green and undulating hillocks, the "chequered cross-sticks," the clustered headstones, and the black and portentous yew-trees, as upon "old familiar faces." He mused, for a few moments, upon the scene, apparently with deep interest. He then walked beneath the shadows of one of the yews, chanting an odd stanza or so of one of his wild staves, wrapped the while, it would seem, in affectionate contemplation of the subject-matter of his song:

THE CHURCHYARD YEW

—— Metuendaque succo Taxus.

STATIUS.

A noxious tree is the churchyard yew, As if from the dead its sap it drew; Dark are its branches, and dismal to see, Like plumes at Death's latest solemnity. Spectral and jagged, and black as the wings Which some spirit of ill o'er a sepulchre flings: Oh! a terrible tree is the churchyard yew; Like it is nothing so grimly to view.

Yet this baleful tree hath a core so sound, Can nought so tough in the grove be found; From it were fashioned brave English bows, The boast of our isle, and the dread of its foes. For our sturdy sires cut their stoutest staves From the branch that hung o'er their fathers' graves; And though it be dreary and dismal to view, Staunch at the heart is the churchyard yew.

His ditty concluded, Alan entered the churchyard, taking care to leave the door slightly ajar, in order to facilitate his grandson's entrance. For an instant he lingered in the chancel. The yellow moonlight fell upon the monuments of his race; and, directed by the instinct of hate, Alan's eye rested upon the gilded entablature of his perfidious brother, Reginald, and, muttering curses, "not loud but deep," he passed on. Having lighted his lantern in no tranquil mood, he descended into the vault, observing a similar caution with respect to the portal of the cemetery, which he left partially unclosed, with the key in the lock. Here he resolved to abide Luke's coming. The reader knows what probability there was of his expectations being realized.

For a while he paced the tomb, wrapped in gloomy meditation, and pondering, it might be, upon the result of Luke's expedition, and the fulfilment of his own dark schemes, scowling from time to time beneath his bent eyebrows, counting the grim array of coffins, and noticing, with something like satisfaction, that the shell which contained the remains of his daughter had been restored to its former position. He then bethought him of Father Checkley's midnight intrusion upon his conference with Luke, and their apprehension of a supernatural visitation, and his curiosity was stimulated to ascertain by what means the priest had gained admission to the spot unperceived and unheard. He resolved to sound the floor, and see whether any secret entrance existed; and hollowly and dully did the hard flagging return the stroke of his heel as he pursued his scrutiny. At length the metallic ringing of an iron plate, immediately behind the marble effigy of Sir Ranulph, resolved the point. There it was that the priest had found access to the vault; but Alan's disappointment was excessive, when he discovered that the plate was fastened on the underside, and all communication thence with the churchyard, or to wherever else it might conduct him, cut off: but the present was not the season for further investigation, and tolerably pleased with the discovery he had already made, he returned to his silent march round the sepulchre.

At length a sound, like the sudden shutting of the church door, broke upon the profound stillness of the holy edifice. In the hush that succeeded, a footstep was distinctly heard threading the aisle.

"He comes—he comes!" exclaimed Alan, joyfully; adding, an instant after, in an altered voice, "but he comes alone."

The footstep drew near to the mouth of the vault—it was upon the stairs. Alan stepped forward to greet, as he supposed, his grandson, but started back in astonishment and dismay as he encountered in his stead Lady Rookwood. Alan retreated, while the lady advanced, swinging the iron door after her, which closed with a tremendous clang. Approaching the statue of the first Sir Ranulph, she paused, and Alan then remarked the singular and terrible expression of her eyes, which appeared to be fixed upon the statue, or upon some invisible object near it. There was something in her whole attitude and manner calculated to impress the deepest terror on the beholder. And Alan gazed upon her with an awe which momently increased. Lady Rookwood's bearing was as proud and erect as we have formerly described it to have been—her brow was haughtily bent—her chiselled lip as disdainfully curled; but the staring, changeless eye, and the deep-heaved sob which occasionally escaped her, betrayed how much she was under the influence of mortal terror. Alan watched her in amazement. He knew not how the scene was likely to terminate, nor what could have induced her to visit this ghostly spot at such an hour, and alone; but he resolved to abide the issue in silence—profound as her own. After a time, however, his impatience got the better of his fears and scruples, and he spoke.

"What doth Lady Rookwood in the abode of the dead?" asked he, at length.

She started at the sound of his voice, but still kept her eye fixed upon the vacancy.

"Hast thou not beckoned me hither, and am I not come?" returned she, in a hollow tone. "And now thou asketh wherefore I am here—I am here because, as in thy life I feared thee not, neither in death do I fear thee. I am here because——"

"What seest thou?" interrupted Peter, with ill-suppressed terror.

"What see I—ha—ha!" shouted Lady Rookwood, amidst discordant laughter; "that which might appal a heart less stout than mine—a figure anguish-writhen, with veins that glow as with a subtle and consuming flame. A substance yet a shadow, in thy living likeness. Ha—frown if thou wilt; I can return thy glances."

"Where dost thou see this vision?" demanded Alan.

"Where!" echoed Lady Rookwood, becoming for the first time sensible of the presence of a stranger. "Ha—who are you that question me?—what are you?—speak!"

"No matter who or what I am," returned Alan, "I ask you what you behold."

"Can you see nothing?"

"Nothing," replied Alan.

"You knew Sir Piers Rookwood?"

"Is it he?" asked Alan, drawing near her.

"It is," replied Lady Rookwood; "I have followed him hither, and I will follow him whithersoever he leads me, were it to——"

"What doth he now?" asked Alan; "do you see him still?"

"The figure points to that sarcophagus," returned Lady Rookwood—"can you raise up the lid?"

"No," replied Alan; "my strength will not avail to lift it."

"Yet let the trial be made," said Lady Rookwood; "the figure points there still—my own arm shall aid you."

Alan watched her in dumb wonder. She advanced towards the marble monument, and beckoned him to follow. He reluctantly complied. Without any expectation of being able to move the ponderous lid of the sarcophagus, at Lady Rookwood's renewed request he applied himself to the task. What was his surprise, when, beneath their united efforts, he found the ponderous slab slowly revolve upon its vast hinges, and, with little further difficulty, it was completely elevated; though it still required the exertion of all Alan's strength to prop it open, and prevent its falling back.

"What does it contain?" asked Lady Rookwood.

"A warrior's ashes," returned Alan.

"There is a rusty dagger upon a fold of faded linen," cried Lady Rookwood, holding down the light.

"It is the weapon with which the first dame of the house of Rookwood was stabbed," said Alan, with a grim smile:

"Which whoso findeth in the tomb Shall clutch until the hour of doom; And when 'tis grasped by hand of clay, The curse of blood shall pass away.

So saith the rhyme. Have you seen enough?"

"No," said Lady Rookwood, precipitating herself into the marble coffin. "That weapon shall be mine."

"Come forth—come forth," cried Alan. "My arm trembles—I cannot support the lid."

"I will have it, though I grasp it to eternity," shrieked Lady Rookwood, vainly endeavoring to wrest away the dagger, which was fastened, together with the linen upon which it lay, by some adhesive substance to the bottom of the shell.

At this moment Alan Rookwood happened to cast his eye upward, and he then beheld what filled him with new terror. The axe of the sable statue was poised above its head, as in the act to strike him. Some secret machinery, it was evident, existed between the sarcophagus lid and this mysterious image. But in the first impulse of his alarm Alan abandoned his hold of the slab, and it sunk slowly downwards. He uttered a loud cry as it moved. Lady Rookwood heard this cry. She raised herself at the same moment—the dagger was in her hand—she pressed it against the lid, but its downward force was too great to be withstood. The light was within the sarcophagus, and Alan could discern her features. The expression was terrible. She uttered one shriek and the lid closed for ever.

Alan was in total darkness. The light had been enclosed with Lady Rookwood. There was something so horrible in her probable fate, that even he shuddered as he thought upon it. Exerting all his remaining strength, he essayed to raise the lid, but now it was more firmly closed than ever. It defied all his power. Once, for an instant, he fancied that it yielded to his straining sinews, but it was only his hand that slided upon the surface of the marble. It was fixed—immovable. The sides and lid rang with the strokes which the unfortunate lady bestowed upon them with the dagger's point; but those sounds were not long heard. Presently all was still; the marble ceased to vibrate with her blows. Alan struck the lid with his knuckles, but no response was returned. All was silent.

He now turned his attention to his own situation, which had become sufficiently alarming. An hour must have elapsed, yet Luke had not arrived. The door of the vault was closed—the key was in the lock, and on the outside. He was himself a prisoner within the tomb. What if Luke should not return? What if he were slain, as it might chance, in the enterprise? That thought flashed across his brain like an electric shock. None knew of his retreat but his grandson. He might perish of famine within this desolate vault.

He checked this notion as soon as it was formed—it was too dreadful to be indulged in. A thousand circumstances might conspire to detain Luke. He was sure to come. Yet the solitude—the darkness was awful, almost intolerable. The dying and the dead were around him. He dared not stir.

Another hour—an age it seemed to him—had passed. Still Luke came not. Horrible forebodings crossed him; but he would not surrender himself to them. He rose, and crawled in the direction, as he supposed, of the door—fearful, even of the stealthy sound of his own footsteps. He reached it, and his heart once more throbbed with hope. He bent his ear to the key; he drew in his breath; he listened for some sound, but nothing was to be heard. A groan would have been almost music in his ears.

Another hour was gone! He was now a prey to the most frightful apprehensions, agitated in turns by the wildest emotions of rage and terror. He at one moment imagined that Luke had abandoned him, and heaped curses upon his head; at the next, convinced that he had fallen, he bewailed with equal bitterness his grandson's fate and his own. He paced the tomb like one distracted; he stamped upon the iron plate; he smote with his hands upon the door; he shouted, and the vault hollowly echoed his lamentations. But Time's sand ran on, and Luke arrived not.

Alan now abandoned himself wholly to despair. He could no longer anticipate his grandson's coming, no longer hope for deliverance. His fate was sealed. Death awaited him. He must anticipate his slow but inevitable stroke, enduring all the grinding horrors of starvation. The contemplation of such an end was madness, but he was forced to contemplate it now; and so appalling did it appear to his imagination, that he half resolved to dash out his brains against the walls of the sepulchre, and put an end at once to his tortures; and nothing, except a doubt whether he might not, by imperfectly accomplishing his purpose, increase his own suffering, prevented him from putting this dreadful idea into execution. His dagger was gone, and he had no other weapon. Terrors of a new kind now assailed him. The dead, he fancied, were bursting from their coffins, and he peopled the darkness with grisly phantoms. They were around about him on each side, whirling and rustling, gibbering, groaning, shrieking, laughing, and lamenting. He was stunned, stifled. The air seemed to grow suffocating, pestilential; the wild laughter was redoubled; the horrible troop assailed him; they dragged him along the tomb, and amid their howls he fell, and became insensible.

When he returned to himself, it was some time before he could collect his scattered faculties; and when the agonizing consciousness of his terrible situation forced itself upon his mind, he had nigh relapsed into oblivion. He arose. He rushed towards the door; he knocked against it with his knuckles till the blood streamed from them; he scratched against it with his nails till they were torn off by the roots. With insane fury he hurled himself against the iron frame; it was in vain. Again he had recourse to the trap-door. He searched for it; he found it. He laid himself upon the ground. There was no interval of space in which he could insert a finger's point. He beat it with his clenched hand; he tore it with his teeth; he jumped upon it; he smote it with his heel. The iron returned a sullen sound.

He again essayed the lid of the sarcophagus. Despair nerved his strength. He raised the slab a few inches. He shouted, screamed, but no answer was returned; and again the lid fell.

"She is dead!" cried Alan. "Why have I not shared her fate? But mine is to come. And such a death!—oh, oh!" And, frenzied at the thought, he again hurried to the door, and renewed his fruitless attempts to escape, till nature gave way, and he sank upon the floor, groaning and exhausted.

Physical suffering now began to take the place of his mental tortures. Parched and consumed with a fierce internal fever, he was tormented by unappeasable thirst—of all human ills the most unendurable. His tongue was dry and dusty, his throat inflamed; his lips had lost all moisture. He licked the humid floor; he sought to imbibe the nitrous drops from the walls; but, instead of allaying his thirst, they increased it. He would have given the world, had he possessed it, for a draught of cold spring-water. Oh, to have died with his lips upon some bubbling fountain's marge! But to perish thus——!

Nor were the pangs of hunger wanting. He had to endure all the horrors of famine, as well as the agonies of quenchless thirst.

In this dreadful state three days and nights passed over Alan's fated head. Nor night nor day had he. Time, with him, was only measured by its duration, and that seemed interminable. Each hour added to his suffering, and brought with it no relief. During this period of prolonged misery reason often tottered on her throne. Sometimes he was under the influence of the wildest passions. He dragged coffins from their recesses, hurled them upon the ground, striving to break them open and drag forth their loathsome contents. Upon other occasions he would weep bitterly and wildly; and once—only once—did he attempt to pray; but he started from his knees with an echo of infernal laughter, as he deemed, ringing in his ears. Then, again, would he call down imprecations upon himself and his whole line, trampling upon the pile of coffins he had reared; and lastly, more subdued, would creep to the boards that contained the body of his child, kissing them with a frantic outbreak of affection.

At length he became sensible of his approaching dissolution. To him the thought of death might well be terrible, but he quailed not before it, or rather seemed, in his latest moments, to resume all his wonted firmness of character. Gathering together his remaining strength, he dragged himself towards the niche wherein his brother, Sir Reginald Rookwood, was deposited, and placing his hand upon the coffin, solemnly exclaimed, "My curse—my dying curse—be upon thee evermore!"

Falling with his face upon the coffin, Alan instantly expired. In this attitude his remains were discovered.



L'ENVOY

Our tale is told. Yet, perhaps, we may be allowed to add a few words respecting two of the subordinate characters of our drama—melodrama we ought to say—namely Jerry Juniper and the knight of Malta. What became of the Caper Merchant's son after his flight from Kilburn Wells we have never been able distinctly to ascertain. Juniper, however, would seem to be a sort of Wandering Jew, for certain it is, that somebody very like him is extant still, and to be met with at Jerry's old haunts; indeed, we have no doubt of encountering him at the ensuing meetings of Ascot and Hampton.

As regards the knight of Malta—Knight of Roads—"Rhodes"—he should have been—we are sorry to state that the career of the Ruffler terminated in a madhouse, and thus the poor knight became in reality a Hospitaller! According to the custom observed in those establishments, the knight was deprived of his luxuriant locks, and the loss of his beard rendered his case incurable; but, in the mean time, the barber of the place made his fortune by retailing the materials of all the black wigs he could collect to the impostor's dupes.

Such is the latest piece of intelligence that has reached us of the Arch-hoaxer of Canterbury!

Turpin—why disguise it?—was hanged at York in 1739. His firmness deserted him not at the last. When he mounted the fatal tree his left leg trembled; he stamped it impatiently down, and, after a brief chat with the hangman, threw himself suddenly and resolutely from the ladder. His sufferings would appear to have been slight: as he himself sang,

He died, not as other men, by degrees, But at once, without wincing, and quite at his ease!

We may, in some other place, lay before the reader the particulars—and they are not incurious—of the "night before Larry was stretched."

The remains of the vagrant highwayman found a final resting-place in the desecrated churchyard of Saint George, without the Fishergate postern, a green and grassy cemetery, but withal a melancholy one. A few recent tombs mark out the spots where some of the victims of the pestilence of 1832-33 have been interred; but we have made vain search for Turpin's grave—unless—as is more than probable—the plain stone with the simple initials R. T. belongs to him.

The gyves by which he was fettered are still shown at York Castle, and are of prodigious weight and strength; and though the herculean robber is said to have moved in them with ease, the present turnkey was scarcely able to lift the ponderous irons. An old woman of the same city has a lock of hair, said to have been Turpin's, which she avouches her grandfather cut off from the body after the execution, and which the believers look upon with great reverence. O rare Dick Turpin!

We shall, perhaps, be accused of dilating too much upon the character of the highwayman, and we plead guilty to the charge. But we found it impossible to avoid running a little into extremes. Our earliest associations are connected with sunny scenes in Cheshire, said to have been haunted by Turpin; and with one very dear to us—from whose lips, now, alas! silent, we have listened to many stories of his exploits—he was a sort of hero. We have had a singular delight in recounting his feats and hairbreadth escapes; and if the reader derives only half as much pleasure from the perusal of his adventures as we have had in narrating them, our satisfaction will be complete. Perhaps, we may have placed him in too favorable a point of view—and yet we know not. As upon those of more important personages, many doubts rest upon his history. Such as we conceive him to have been, we have drawn him—hoping that the benevolent reader, upon finishing our Tale, will arrive at the same conclusion; and, in the words of the quaint old Prologue to the Prince of Prigs' Revels,

——————Thank that man, Can make each thief a complete Roscian!



NOTES

[1] See the celebrated recipe for the Hand of Glory in "Les Secrets du Petit Albert."

[2] The seven planets, so called by Mercurius Trismegistus.

[3] Payne Knight, the scourge of Repton and his school, speaking of the license indulged in by the modern landscape-gardeners, thus vents his indignation:

But here, once more, ye rural muses weep The ivy'd balustrade, and terrace steep; Walls, mellowed into harmony by time, On which fantastic creepers used to climb; While statues, labyrinths, and alleys pent Within their bounds, at least were innocent!— Our modern taste—alas!—no limit knows; O'er hill, o'er dale, through wood and field it flows; Spreading o'er all its unprolific spawn, In never-ending sheets of vapid lawn.

The Landscape, a didactic Poem, addressed to Uvedale Price, Esq.

[4] Mason's English Garden.

[5] Cowley.

[6] Query, Damocles?—Printer's Devil.

[7] James Hind—the "Prince of Prigs"—a royalist captain of some distinction, was hanged, drawn, and quartered, in 1652. Some good stories are told of him. He had the credit of robbing Cromwell, Bradshaw, and Peters. His discourse to Peters is particularly edifying.

[8] See Du-Val's life by Doctor Pope, or Leigh Hunt's brilliant sketch of him in The Indicator.

[9] We cannot say much in favor of this worthy, whose name was Thomas Simpson. The reason of his sobriquet does not appear. He was not particularly scrupulous as to his mode of appropriation. One of his sayings is, however, on record. He told a widow whom he robbed, "that the end of a woman's husband begins in tears, but the end of her tears is another husband." "Upon which," says his chronicler, "the gentlewoman gave him about fifty guineas."

[10] Tom was a sprightly fellow, and carried his sprightliness to the gallows; for just before he was turned off he kicked Mr. Smith, the ordinary, and the hangman out of the cart—a piece of pleasantry which created, as may be supposed, no small sensation.

[11] Many agreeable stories are related of Holloway. His career, however, closed with a murder. He contrived to break out of Newgate but returned to witness the trial of one of his associates; when, upon the attempt of a turnkey, one Richard Spurling, to seize him, Will knocked him on the head in the presence of the whole court. For this offence he suffered the extreme penalty of the law in 1712.

[12] Wicks's adventures with Madame Toly are highly diverting. It was this hero—not Turpin, as has been erroneously stated—who stopped the celebrated Lord Mohun. Of Gettings and Grey, and "the five or six," the less said the better.

[13] One of Jack's recorded mots. When a Bible was pressed upon his acceptance by Mr. Wagstaff, the chaplain, Jack refused it, saying, "that in his situation one file would be worth all the Bibles in the world." A gentleman who visited Newgate asked him to dinner; Sheppard replied, "that he would take an early opportunity of waiting upon him." And we believe he kept his word.

[14] The word Tory, as here applied, must not be confounded with the term of party distinction now in general use in the political world. It simply means a thief on a grand scale, something more than "a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles," or petty-larceny rascal. We have classical authority for this:—TORY: "An advocate for absolute monarchy; also, an Irish vagabond, robber, or rapparee."—GROSE'S Dictionary.

[15] A trio of famous High-Tobygloaks. Swiftneck was a captain of Irish dragoons, by-the-bye.

[16] REDMOND O'HANLON was the Rob Roy of Ireland, and his adventures, many of which are exceedingly curious, would furnish as rich materials for the novelist, as they have already done for the ballad-mongers: some of them are, however, sufficiently well narrated in a pleasant little tome, published at Belfast, entitled The History of the Rapparees. We are also in possession of a funeral discourse, preached at the obsequies of the "noble and renowned" Henry St. John, Esq., who was unfortunately killed by the Tories—the Destructives of those days—in the induction to which we find some allusion to Redmond. After describing the thriving condition of the north of Ireland, about 1680, the Rev. Lawrence Power, the author of the sermon, says, "One mischief there was, which indeed in a great measure destroyed all, and that was a pack of insolent bloody outlaws, whom they here call Tories. These had so riveted themselves in these parts, that by the interest they had among the natives, and some English, too, to their shame be it spoken, they exercise a kind of separate sovereignty in three or four counties in the north of Ireland. REDMOND O'HANLON is their chief, and has been these many years; a cunning, dangerous fellow, who, though proclaimed an outlaw with the rest of his crew, and sums of money set upon their heads, yet he reigns still, and keeps all in subjection, so far that 'tis credibly reported he raises more in a year by contributions a-la-mode de France than the king's land taxes and chimney-money come to, and thereby is enabled to bribe clerks and officers, IF NOT THEIR MASTERS, (!) and makes all too much truckle to him." Agitation, it seems, was not confined to our own days—but the "finest country in the world" has been, and ever will be, the same. The old game is played under a new color—the only difference being, that had Redmond lived in our time, he would, in all probability, not only have pillaged a county, but represented it in parliament. The spirit of the Rapparee is still abroad—though we fear there is little of the Tory left about it. We recommend this note to the serious consideration of the declaimers against the sufferings of the "six millions."

[17] Here Titus was slightly in error. He mistook the cause for the effect. "They were called Rapparees," Mr. Malone says, "from being armed with a half-pike, called by the Irish a rapparee."—TODD'S JOHNSON.

[18] Tory, so called from the Irish word Toree, give me your money.—TODD'S JOHNSON.

[19] As he was carried to the gallows, Jack played a fine tune of his own composing on the bagpipe, which retains the name of Macpherson's tune to this day.—History of the Rapparees.

[20] "Notwithstanding he was so great a rogue, Delany was a handsome, portly man, extremely diverting in company, and could behave himself before gentlemen very agreeably. He had a political genius—not altogether surprising in so eminent a Tory—and would have made great proficiency in learning if he had rightly applied his time. He composed several songs, and put tunes to them; and by his skill in music gained the favor of some of the leading musicians in the country, who endeavored to get him reprieved."—History of the Rapparees. The particulars of the Songster's execution are singular:—"When he was brought into court to receive sentence of death, the judge told him that he was informed he should say 'that there was not a rope in Ireland sufficient to hang him. But,' says he, 'I'll try if Kilkenny can't afford one strong enough to do your business; and if that will not do, you shall have another, and another.' Then he ordered the sheriff to choose a rope, and Delany was ordered for execution the next day. The sheriff having notice of his mother's boasting that no rope could hang her son—and pursuant to the judge's desire—provided two ropes, but Delany broke them one after the other! The sheriff was then in a rage, and went for three bed-cords, which he plaited threefold together, and they did his business! Yet the sheriff was afraid he was not dead; and in a passion, to make trial, stabbed him with his sword in the soles of his feet, and at last cut the rope. After he was cut down, his body was carried into the courthouse, where it remained in the coffin for two days, standing up, till the judge and all the spectators were fully satisfied that he was stiff and dead, and then permission was given to his friends to remove the corpse and bury it."-History of the Rapparees.

[21] Highwaymen, as contradistinguished from footpads.

[22] Since Mr. Coates here avows himself the writer of this diatribe against Sir Robert Walpole, attacked under the guise of Turpin in the Common Sense of July 30, 1737, it is useless to inquire further into its authorship. And it remains only to refer the reader to the Gents. Mag., vol. vii. p. 438, for the article above quoted; and for a reply to it from the Daily Gazetteer contained in p. 499 of the same volume.

[23] In reference to this imaginary charm, Sir Thomas Browne observes, in his "Vulgar Errors." "What natural effects can reasonably be expected, when, to prevent the Ephialtes, or Nightmare, we hang a hollow stone in our stables?" Grose also states, "that a stone with a hole in it, hung at the bed's head, will prevent the nightmare, and is therefore called a hag-stone." The belief in this charm still lingers in some districts, and maintains, like the horse-shoe affixed to the barn-door, a feeble stand against the superstition-destroying "march of intellect."

[24] Brown's Pastorals.

[25] The Merry Beggars.

[26] The parties to be wedded find out a dead horse, or any other beast, and standing one on the one side, and the other on the other, the patrico bids them live together till death do them part; and so shaking hands, the wedding dinner is kept at the next alehouse they stumble into, where the union is nothing but knocking of cannes, and the sauce, none but drunken brawles.—DEKKAR.

[27] Receiver.

[28] Memoirs, of the right villainous John Hall, the famous, and notorious Robber, penned from his Mouth some Time before his Death, 1708.

[29] A famous highwayman.

[30] A real gentleman.

[31] Breeches and boots.

[32] Gipsy flask.

[33] How he exposes his pistols.

[34] For an account of these, see Grose. They are much too gross to be set down here.

[35] "The shalm, or shawm, was a wind instrument, like a pipe, with a swelling protuberance in the middle."—Earl of Northumberland's Household Book.

[36] Perhaps the most whimsical laws that were ever prescribed to a gang of thieves were those framed by William Holliday, one of the prigging community, who was hanged in 1695:

Art. I. directs—That none of his company should presume to wear shirts, upon pain of being cashiered.

II.—That none should lie in any other places than stables, empty houses, or other bulks.

III.—That they should eat nothing but what they begged, and that they should give away all the money they got by cleaning boots among one another, for the good of the fraternity.

IV.—That they should neither learn to read nor write, that he may have them the better under command.

V.—That they should appear every morning by nine, on the parade, to receive necessary orders.

VI.—That none should presume to follow the scent but such as he ordered on that party.

VII.—That if any one gave them shoes or stockings, they should convert them into money to play.

VIII.—That they should steal nothing they could not come at, for fear of bringing a scandal upon the company.

IX.—That they should cant better than the Newgate birds, pick pockets without bungling, outlie a Quaker, outswear a lord at a gaming-table, and brazen out all their villainies beyond an Irishman.

[37] Cell.

[38] Newgate.

[39] A woman whose husband has been hanged.

[40] A dancing-master.

[41] "Nothing, comrades; on, on," supposed to be addressed by a thief to his confederates.

[42] Thus Victor Hugo, in "Le Dernier Jour d'un Condamne," makes an imprisoned felon sing:

"J'le ferai danser une danse Ou il n'y a pas de plancher."

[43] Thieves in prison.

[44] Shoplifter.

[45] Pickpocket.

[46] Handkerchiefs.

[47] Rings.

[48] To the pawnbroker.

[49] Snuff-boxes.

[50] Pickpocket.

[51] The two forefingers used in picking a pocket.

[52] Pickpocket.

[53] Pick a pocket.

[54] No inside coat-pocket; buttoned up.

[55] Scissors.

[56] Steal a pocket-book.

[57] Best-made clothes.

[58] Thief.

[59] With my hair dressed in the first fashion.

[60] With several rings on my hands.

[61] Seals.

[62] Gold watch.

[63] Laced shirt.

[64] Gentlemanlike.

[65] Easily than forged notes could I pass.

[66] Favorite mistress.

[67] Police.

[68] Taken at length.

[69] Cast for transportation.

[70] Fetters.

[71] Turnkey.

[72] Gipsy.

[73] Pickpockets.

[74] This song describes pretty accurately the career of an extraordinary individual, who, in the lucid intervals of a half-crazed understanding, imposed himself upon the credulous inhabitants of Canterbury, in the year 1832, as a certain "SIR WILLIAM PERCY HONEYWOOD COURTENAY, KNIGHT OF MALTA;" and contrived—for there was considerable "method in his madness"—to support the deception during a long period. The anachronism of his character in a tale—the data of which is nearly a century back—will, perhaps, be overlooked, when it is considered of how much value, in the illustration of "wise saws," are "modern instances." Imposture and credulity are of all ages; and the Courtenays of the nineteenth are rivalled by the Tofts and Andres of the eighteenth century. The subjoined account of the soi-disant SIR WILLIAM COURTENAY is extracted from "An Essay on his Character, and Reflections on his Trial," published at the theatre of his exploits: "About Michaelmas last it was rumored that an extraordinary man was staying at the Rose Inn of this city—Canterbury—who passed under the name of Count Rothschild, but had been recently known in London by the name of Thompson! This would have been sufficient to excite attention, had no other incidents materially added to the excitement. His costume and countenance denoted foreign extraction, while his language and conversation showed that he was well acquainted with almost every part of this kingdom. He was said to live with singular frugality, notwithstanding abundant samples of wealth, and professions of an almost unlimited command of money. He appeared to study retirement, if not concealment, although subsequent events have proved that society of every grade, beneath the middle class, is the element in which he most freely breathes. He often decked his person with a fine suit of Italian clothing, and sometimes with the more gay and imposing costume of the Eastern nations; yet these foreign habits were for months scarcely visible beyond the limits of the inn of his abode, and the chapel not far from it, in which he was accustomed to offer his Sabbath devotions. This place was the first to which he made a public and frequent resort; and though he did not always attempt to advance towards the uppermost seat in the synagogue, he attracted attention from the mere singularity of his appearance.

"Such was the eccentric, incongruous individual who surprised our city by proposing himself as a third candidate for its representation, and who created an entertaining contest for the honor, long after the sitting candidates had composed themselves to the delightful vision of an inexpensive and unopposed return. The notion of representing the city originated beyond all doubt in the fertile brain of the man himself. It would seem to have been almost as sudden a thought in his mind, as it was a sudden and surprising movement in the view of the city; nor have we been able to ascertain whether his sojourn at the Rose was the cause or the effect of his offering to advocate our interests in Parliament—whether he came to the city with that high-minded purpose, or subsequently formed the notion, when he saw, or thought he saw, an opening for a stranger of enterprise like himself.

* * * * *

"As the county election drew on, we believe between the nomination on Barham Downs and the voting in the cattle market of the city, the draught of a certain handbill was sent to a printer of this city, with a request that he would publish it without delay. Our readers will not be surprised that he instantly declined the task; but as we have obtained possession of the copy, and its publication can now do no injury to any one, we entertain them with a sight of this delectable sample of Courtenay prudence and politeness.

"'O yes! O yes! O yes! I, Lord Viscount William Courtenay, of Powderham Castle, Devon, do hereby proclaim Sir Thomas Tylden, Sir Brook Brydges, Sir Edward Knatchbull, and Sir William Cosway, four cowards, unfit to represent, or to assist in returning members of Parliament to serve the brave men of Kent.

"'Percy Honeywood Courtenay, of Hales and Evington Place, Kent, and Knight of Malta.

"'Any gentleman desiring to know the reasons why Lord Courtenay so publicly exposes backbiters, any man of honor shall have satisfaction at his hands, and in a public way, according to the laws of our land—trial by combat; when the Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts is his name, can decide the "truth," whether it is a libel or not. I worship truth as my God, and will die for it—and upon this we will see who is strongest, God or man.'

"It is a coincidence too curious to be overlooked, that this doughty champion of truth should so soon have removed himself from public life by an act of deliberate and wanton perjury. We never read any of his rhapsodies, periodical or occasional, till the publication of this essay imposed the self-denying task upon us; but now we find that they abound in strong and solemn appeals to the truth; in bold proclamations that truth is his palladium; in evidences that he writes and raves, that he draws his sword and clenches his fist, that he expends his property and the property of others committed to his hands, in no cause but that of truth! His famous periodical contains much vehement declamation in defence of certain doctrines of religion, which he terms the truth of the sublime system of Christianity, and for which alone he is content to live, and also willing to die. All who deviate from his standard of truth, whether theological or moral, philosophical or political, he appears to consider as neither fit for life nor death. Now it is a little strange, his warmest followers being witness, that such an advocate of truth should have become the willing victim of falsehood, the ready and eager martyr of the worst form of falsehood—perjury.

"The decline of his influence between the city and county elections has been partly attributed, and not without reason, to the sudden change in his appearance from comparative youth to advancing, if not extreme age. On the hustings of the city he shone forth in all the dazzling lustre of an Oriental chief; and such was the effect of gay clothing on the meridian of life, that his admirers, especially of the weaker sex, would insist upon it that he had not passed the beautiful spring-time of May. There were, indeed, some suspicious appearances of a near approach to forty, if not two or three years beyond it; but these were fondly ascribed to his foreign travels in distant and insalubrious climes; he had acquired his duskiness of complexion, and his strength of feature and violence of gesture, and his profusion of beard, in Egypt and Syria, in exploring the catacombs of the one country, and bowing at the shrines of the other. On the other hand, the brilliancy of his eye, the melody of his voice, and the elasticity of his muscles and limbs, were sufficient arguments in favor of his having scarcely passed the limit that separates manhood from youth.

"All doubts on these points were removed, when the crowd of his fair admirers visited him at the retirement of his inn, and the intervals of his polling. These sub-Rosa interviews—we allude to the name of the inn, and not to anything like privacy there, which the very place and number of the visitors altogether precluded—convinced them that he was even a younger and lovelier man than his rather boisterous behavior in the hall would allow them to hope. In fact, he was now installed by acclamation Knight of Canterbury as well as Malta, and King of Kent as well as Jerusalem! It became dangerous then to whisper a syllable of suspicion against his wealth or rank, his wisdom or beauty; and all who would not bow down before this golden image were deemed worthy of no better fate than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—to be cast into a burning fiery furnace."

As a sequel to the above story, it may be added that the knight of Malta became the inmate of a lunatic asylum; and on his liberation was shot at the head of a band of Kentish hinds, whom he had persuaded that he was the Messiah!

[75] A pipe of tobacco.

[76] A drink composed of beer, eggs, and brandy.

[77] The supposed malignant influence of this plant is frequently alluded to by our elder dramatists; and with one of the greatest of them, Webster—as might be expected from a muse revelling like a ghoul in graves and sepulchres—it is an especial favorite. But none have plunged so deeply into the subject as Sir Thomas Browne. He tears up the fable root and branch. Concerning the danger ensuing from eradication of the mandrake, the learned physician thus writes: "The last assertion is, that there follows a hazard of life to them that pull it up, that some evil fate pursues them, and that they live not very long hereafter. Therefore the attempt hereof among the ancients was not in ordinary way; but, as Pliny informeth, when they intended to take up the root of this plant, they took the wind thereof, and with a sword describing three circles about it, they digged it up, looking toward the west. A conceit not only injurious unto truth and confutable by daily experience, but somewhat derogatory unto the providence of God; that is, not only to impose so destructive a quality on any plant, but to conceive a vegetable whose parts are so useful unto many, should, in the only taking up, prove mortal unto any. This were to introduce a second forbidden fruit, and enhance the first malediction, making it not only mortal for Adam to taste the one, but capital for his posterity to eradicate or dig up the other."—Vulgar Errors, book ii. c. vi.

[78] The moon.

[79] Light.

[80] Highwayman.

[81] "Cherry-colored—black; there being black cherries as well as red."—GROSE.

[82] Sword.

[83] Pistols.

[84] Highway robbery.

[85] Pocket-book.

[86] Money.

[87] Bullets.

[88] The gallows.

[89] Ditto.

[90] Pocket-book.

[91] Inside coat-pocket.

[92] A small pocket-book.

[93] We have heard of a certain gentleman tobyman, we forget his name, taking the horses from his curricle for a similar purpose, but we own we think King's the simpler plan, and quite practicable still. A cabriolet would be quite out of the question, but particularly easy to stop.

[94] Four celebrated highwaymen, all rejoicing in the honorable distinction of captain.

[95] The exact spot where Turpin committed this robbery, which has often been pointed out to us, lies in what is now a woody hollow, though once the old road from Altringham to Knutsford skirting the rich and sylvan domains of Dunham, and descending the hill that brings you to the bridge crossing the little river Bollin. With some difficulty we penetrated this ravine. It is just the place for an adventure of the kind. A small brook wells through it; and the steep banks are overhung with timber, and were, when we last visited the place, in April, 1834, a perfect nest of primroses and wild flowers. Hough (pronounced Hoo) Green lies about three miles across the country—the way Turpin rode. The old Bowling-green is one of the pleasantest inns in Cheshire.

[96] Money.

[97] Man.

[98] Stripped.

[99] Fellow.

[100] A particular kind of pugilistic punishment.

[101] Kept each an eye upon the other.

[102] Hands.

[103] Deceive them.

[104] Accomplice.

[105] A farthing.

[106] Cards.

[107] Qy. elite.—PRINTER'S DEVIL.

[108] Shoot him.

[109] Since the earlier editions of this Romance were published, we regret to state—for to us, at least, it is matter of regret, though probably not to the travellers along the Edgeware Road—that this gentle ascent has been cut through, and the fair prospect from its brow utterly destroyed.

[110] This, we regret to say, is not the case. The memory of bold Will Davies, the "Golden Farmer"—so named from the circumstances of his always paying his rent in gold,—is fast declining upon his peculiar domain, Bagshot. The inn, which once bore his name, still remains to point out to the traveller the dangers his forefathers had to encounter in crossing this extensive heath. Just beyond this house the common spreads out for miles on all aides in a most gallop-inviting style; and the passenger, as he gazes from the box of some flying coach, as we have done, upon the gorse-covered waste, may, without much stretch of fancy, imagine he beholds Will Davies careering like the wind over its wild and undulating expanse. We are sorry to add that the "Golden Farmer" has altered its designation to the "Jolly Farmer." This should be amended; and when next we pass that way, we hope to see the original sign restored. We cannot afford to lose our golden farmers.

THE END

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